Saturday, March 31, 2007

Loud and...

I have always thought that the most ineffective debating tools were: simply shouting down an opponent, using the "case closed" approach, as if your words were the final solution, equating opinion and interpretation to fact, not offering the opportunity for rebuttal, and inferring that anyone who might not agree with your case is somehow less intelligent.

Of course, the majority of public debates are handled in such a fashion these days. My favorite tactic is the one where a participant attempts to shout-down the opponent, as if you can win a debate by virtue of simply having a bigger mouth and more lung capacity. There is no doubt that such a practice can end a debate, but it certainly doesn't prove the point.

I was fully prepared to sit down and write a scathing, inflammatory response to the latest rant from Rosie O'Donnell. She states that she has no doubt that the events of 9/11 were not perpetrated by a group of foreign terrorists, but in fact, these attacks were carried out by operatives acting under the command of our own government.

Of course, now there are cries for her head on a silver platter. The right-wing is demanding that she be fired from her job on The View. She's being compared to Jane Fonda, she's being called a traitor. Of course, her defenders are out in force as well, loud and clear.

I don't believe Rosie should be fired. I don't want her head on a platter. I say, simply let her have her rants, her raves, and go on to the next thing. In my opinion, this is not a matter of politics. It's a case of a highly-opinionated, extremely vocal woman doing what she does best: drawing attention to herself.

She is not, in my opinion, any different than Ann Coulter, at least in her tactics. They have different ideologies, of course, but whether a punch to the nose is thrown with the right fist or left, it's still likely to sting. Shout something in English. Shout it in Spanish. You're still shouting. And making a ridiculous statement as a Liberal doesn't mean it's any less ridiculous. This is not a political issue, it's a matter of noise.

O'Donnell cites seemingly factual material which is highly subjective at best. She claims that the buildings could not have fallen as described because fire cannot melt steel.

She is a very literal person, and those who choose to argue with her need to choose their words very carefully, because she is very liberal (as in free, not political) with her interpretations of data.

I don't think anyone with any knowledge of steel-making would dispute that the temperatures inside those burning buildings ever reached the temperatures required to create molten steel. The jet fuel burned at temperatures somewhere in the area of 1500 degrees, while steel would become molten liquid only at about 2500-2700 degrees.

On that basis, the explanation would have to be that something else went on in those Towers, no?

Of course, she failed to note that at 1200 degrees, steel loses half its strength. She also failed to note that the structures would give way and collapse long before the steel became molten. If I were as literal as she was with my interpretations, I could refute her statement that "fire doesn't melt steel" by simply stating that "steel is very much melted with fire", because they burn combustible materials to melt the steel. And most of the experts agree that the buildings fell as a result of three factors: structural damage caused by the actual impact of the 200,000+ pounds aircraft, the displacement of the fireproofing, and the heat of the fires. No single one of those factors would have likely caused the collapse on their own.

And I'm sure I could, with the help of the right scientific teams, go in and analyze the debris that's been left. If I were to find samples of the materials necessary to construct a nuclear warhead. Would I then be correct in drawing the conclusion that the buildings were brought down by nuclear explosion?

We can all cite studies. We can search the Internet just the way Rosie suggests. And for every scrap of evidence she finds in support of her theories, I could come up with one to refute her theories. There have been studies by teams in support of the "conspiracy theories." There have been studies put together to dispel those "theories." The studies I tended to give credence to were the ones that were conducted for the purposes of finding out what we need to do to prevent those kind of cataclysmic collapses from ever happening again. The bias there is saving lives, not assigning blame, or furthering political agendas.

This debate could go on and could they possibly have planted the amount of charges necessary to bring down buildings of those magnitude, populated daily by that many people, and never have been spotted? Why would the government have Flight 93 crash in a field? Would well trained operatives have left anyone in a position to combat them, as was the case on United 93? And why wouldn't they have done more damage, or for that fact, more precise damage if they'd attacked the Pentagon with a guided missile? At this point, we all have our opinions and interpretations.

But we all have opinions, and we all have intepretations. None are right or wrong, they're simply ours. I don't have the expertise to debate the issue scientifically. I simply interpret the material offered to me, and draw my own conclusions. I am not an expert, and I would be foolish to stand up and tell any one of you accept my interpretations or opinions as fact. Our parents should be the only ones in our lives to get away with saying "because I said so!"

I don't want anything to happen to Rosie O'Donnell. I think she should just be allowed to go on doing what she is doing every day because she has little or no credibility, in my opinion. And it's my opinion; I'm not telling you how to feel about her. She employs all the wrong tactics. A classic example of the "no room for rebuttal" is the fact that she doesn't allow anyone to comment on her blog. She makes her statements, and shuts the doors. She shouts down opponents, resorts to namecalling and other mocking behavior when she is challenged. Her answer to argument would likely be "because I say so." And that shoots her credibility in the foot. I don't think she's wrong in her opinions and interpretations, although I do think she tends to be irresponsible in using the platform that she's been given.

If Rosie O'Donnell had more credibility, I'd have probably been more upset, and likely to have launched that tirade. But to me, she's nothing more than a noisy celebrity simply exercising her lungs, and her rights. She's not likely to foment the overthrow of our government. She's just a talking head on a show that I don't watch.

This topic is very important to me. I watched those Towers that day in person, with my own eyes. I had friends who died in those buildings. And I'd like to think that my words and opinions would matter a whole lot more than they do. But I have to remember that those facts would probably skew my judgement a little. So my credibility would probably be questionable as well. So I don't pass judgement on Rosie O'Donnell's views on the subject. I simply hear or read them, interpret them for what they are, and move on.

We all, in this country, have two options here. We can believe that our nation came under attack by a group of foreign combatants, and that they declared war on us on 9/11/01. Or we can believe that our own government perpetrated one of the most hideous crimes in American history against its own citizens.

It's going to take someone far more intelligent, informed and credible to convince me to ever accept the latter.

Oh, and my comments section is wide open to anyone who'd like to state their own opinion. However, telling me to "get a life" or anything insulting along those lines, will result in your comment being deleted.

Because I said so.
Sorry. Couldn't resist.

11 things

Well I got in the mood to do one of those "meme" things, since I've seen some really interesting ones the last couple of days. I'll give it a shot trying to keep up the standard...

  1. Driving, to me is a necessary evil. It's like paying the bills. If there were a way around it, I'd give it up in a second.

  2. I'm a very streaky person. Not a streaker. I mean that when I find something I like, I tend to eat, watch, listen to it too much.

  3. I have a short attention span when it comes to "favorites". Like, right now, the most beautiful celebrity to my eyes is Jami Gertz. Check back in a couple of weeks and you'll see what I mean about the attention span

  4. I love kids. I love the nonsense, the chaos, the silliness.

  5. I write my blog entries in HTML instead of compose mode, which just confirms that I am a geek.

  6. I am an over-doer. I know it's annoying when I gush in my comments. In my defense, I really mean what I say, I just know I should tone it down. It can reek of stalker, but I'm really not. If I think you're great, or you write something funny, or brilliant, I really feel the need to say so. I'm workin' on it.

  7. You know how people get annoyed when someone says "like" at the beginning of every sentence? That peeve applies to me when it comes to the word "amazing". I've heard digital cable, cellphones, yogurt, neighborhoods, music and perfume described as "amazing" today alone. It's overused, diluted, and takes too much away from someone who truly is "amazing".

  8. I can't play UNO. I think if I've played 10,000 rounds in my life, I've won 3. But I have a lot of fun with that game. I play chess respectably, I hold my own at Roulette, Poker, (although not too often for money, not much of a gambler)even Gin Rummy and Canasta, although I get whupped at Canasta.But UNO is my downfall. I'll play anytime though!

  9. I used to pride myself on being "slow to anger". I have since learned that that's not a good thing because when it happens, I'm terribly slow at forgiveness. I'm working on that. The worst heartbreak comes, not at the hand of a lover, but from a friend, and I have a hard time giving my trust back. It's hypocritical of me, because I've been forgiven a number of times. I'm working on it, as I said.

  10. I'm a "random giver". I love giving little gifts. I love wishlists. I like to think that when someone uses a gift I gave them, they'll think of me.

  11. I don't know when to shut up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Little Weirdness Before Sleep...

I needed some loafing-around time today after PT. I lay on the bed and flipped through the channels, winding up on the movie stations.

I watched a little of an older movie, "She's All That" starring Rachael Leigh Cook, then saw some of "Million Dollar Baby", starring Hilary Swank, before finishing up with "Just Like Heaven", with Reese Witherspoon.

I mentioned the stars' names like that because I want to know if you can help me out here. Those three Ladies all have a similar style of speaking. I find it strangely sexy for some reason, watching them speak. (Hey, I said this was weirdness). A friend said what they all have is an "overbite". Do any of you know what I'm talking about, and is it an "overbite" that we're talking about?

I dunno, I just think it's pretty, but I'd love to know what it is called.

Extra, Extra?

It's getting to be a regular occurrence for me, magazines I read, or newspapers I look at, reporting financial difficulties, or ceasing publication. InfoWorld (a geek mag that I read) is reportedly folding its print operations, and I hear the SF Chronicle is stumbling, just to name a few.

I'm not sure that I'm ready to give up all print media. The idea of the tech magazines and journals going completely digital makes some sense, since their readers don't go too far without a laptop, PDA, etc., in tow, but I don't know if I want to do without my newspapers just yet.

For me, the only source of real news, in depth, has been the actual physical newspapers. I log on to FOX and CNN too, of course, but by the time I get done filtering through all the Anna Nicole stuff, the Celebrity gossip, and the nonsense I don't want to read, I typically find a paragraph or two on what I'm actually looking for.

Is it me? Do any of you feel ready to surrender your hard copies of Time, People, Vogue, Barrons, and others? I always thought it a ritual for a bride-to-be to get a few copies of "Modern Bride" and "Brides" into the mix. And what about the daily crossword or Sudoku?

I've tried a few subscriptions to the online versions of such things as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Star Ledger, but I don't know if I want them to be the only way I read the news. And going through the endless process of signing up, registering, creating passwords, well I'm not that patient at 7 AM, for one, and Internet isn't typically available on the commuter train.

What's your take? Have you abandoned the print media? Am I a dinosaur here?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Spotlight 25

I watched my usual silly shows, "Still Standing" and "Reba" on that Lifetime network tonight. During those broadcasts, the network repeatedly advertised an upcoming special, "Spotlight 25".

The special was going to highlight a select group of 25 year old women, their stories, profiles, etc., with a focus on the lifestyle of these "Generation Y" women. I decided to stay with it, and I'm glad I watched.

A real quick synopsis of the topics the show touched on:

  • Considering that sexual experimentation was something new to the Baby Boomer generation of women, how is it with the Gen Y ladies? They feel freer to have casual sex, sex doesn't always require feelings and relationship committments at first, but the group agreed that they were all now looking to start on the road to settling down. They outlined the challenges (men aren't necessarily looking to settle down in this new age, just yet) and advantages (a whole new world of opportunity with Internet, etc.)

  • Women of this age want careers, but not ones that completely engulf their lives. They discussed the reputation of Gen Y'ers as "job hoppers", and the pro's and con's of such a rep.

  • The concept of the Quarter-life Crisis. A tendency to compare oneself to peers. Financial independence is fleeting. Major debt hanging over them. Tuition loans, credit card debt, no savings, a need for savings. Impulse-spending...celeb mags heavy influence. Clothes shopping. Rampant sense of entitlement, blamed somewhat on the parents. The woman in the spotlight at this point had no clue about finances. A strong pull to keep up the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

  • I think the host, Willow Bay, did a good job getting the group talking. There were a few profiles done of individual women that added a nice touch to the show. It's always good to see people in action to illustrate a point or two. I think it was a good insight into what seems to be an energetic, ambitious, intelligent segment of society, especially in an age where young people are getting a bad rap from some other segments of society. Now mind you, this particular group has some serious issues to overcome (the life crisis at 25? uh oh!) but I think it was good that there was some time in the spotlight for some productive young people.

    The network hasn't made it completely clear whether or not this is a one-time event, or something the plan on doing again. If they do, I think there's a few areas for improvement. I did have a few problems with the broadcast. Nearly 1/4 of the hour was spent broadcasting commercials, which sure made it tough to stay with the flow of the show.

    I found something else very distracting, and that was the way these women spoke. As in their voices. There seems to be this trend for speaking in "bedroom voice" these days, this throaty, almost raspy tone that can really grate on your ears. Some of the women really sounded as though they were just waking up or something. Hard to explain, but it really started to get to me, particularly when they spotlighted this woman. It's weird. I never noticed it before, but once I did, it bugged the hell out of me. (if you want to see what I'm talking about, there's a film clip from the show on the program's on it when you get to the page, and the host starts right off in the "voice". Sorry, it's one of those pet-peeves of mine)

    But overall, I think it's something they should experiment. I think if they produced segments covering different age groups, they might have something here. I hope you all saw it, and if not, I hope Lifetime rebroadcasts it.

    Sunday, March 25, 2007


    It's easy to forget the simple things in life, and how much joy they can bring us. We get so caught up all the time with everything we deem "important", and the good stuff can be so easily overlooked.

    I finally made my way back to the Church I normally attend tonight, 5 PM Mass. I'd been making my weekly pilgrimage, due to physical constraints, at a different place, but this week I made the effort to find my way "home".

    The Mass that I've so come to love is ministered by a group called "Life Teen", and while I'm well past my teenage years, I don't think that joy needs to know your age in order to find you.

    Life Teen, in many ways, brought me back once before. After what I witnessed and experienced, first-hand, on 9.11.01, I was, for the first time, very angry with God. Right or wrong, my faith had been tested, and I'd given in to that anger and allowed it to cause me to turn my back on my Religion. In my heart, no God that I'd come to love, worship and honor, would have ever allowed what took place that day. And off I went. To funerals, Memorial services, one after the other, saying goodbye to friends and business associates, some of whom were never actually found and identified. And with each Mass, I drew further and further away from my heart.

    I think it's very appropriate that, a few years later, it took the love and faith of a group of teenagers to show me just how juvenile my reaction had been. My anger got the best of me, and I allowed it to bury a faith that had been solid and strong for so many years. Yet this group of fresh faces, beautiful voices and loving souls took hold of my heart, and brought me back from the bad place I'd gone. A faith that I'd rejected, I now seemed unworthy of.

    But, as I said, these kids showed me the way back. They led me out, and proved to me that God's will is not for us to question, but to accept as for our own good. Their song, their enthusiasm, their genuine love for each other, as well as everyone around them was the call that I needed to hear.

    I've made my peace now. I've done what was necessary to come back into the Fold, and it's an awesome feeling. They welcomed me back, probably very unaware of the effect they've had on my life.

    I'm just glad they did. And I'm grateful. It was so very good to see and hear them again.

    Friday, March 23, 2007

    And The Week in Review

    Just wanted to look back at the week, because it was a pretty good one this time around. It was kind of a week of "inspiration"...nothing worthy of a movie, but for me, a good step forward. Yep, had me some moments of inspiration and motivation, and some people to thank.

    The Inspirations

    Got some serious physical therapy time in. I managed to do everything the PT asked (more like told), just the way I was asked, and without being too wimpy. I've strengthened things a whole lot in the past month, and particularly this week. Ms. Meta, your mix was in the iPod, and helped me push jussssssssst a little bit more 'cause I know you're trying, so it made me try.I got rid of the crutches completely this week. So, thanks to you, once again.

    I saw something in the paper this week that really got me going (as in anGRRy) and I sat down and did something I haven't done in a long time: I wrote a letter, on paper, signed it and mailed it. It was a letter to "the Editors" of the newspaper I was reading, something I've done, umm, never. I followed through for once. Someone made me understand that the only way the "other" side of the coin ever gets a voice is for those of us who believe that this country owes us nothing, and that sometimes the right thing might not be the most "popular" thing at the moment. So, thank you Ms. Kristen, for that inspiration. See it here...

    I don't know if Ms Nemesis is a reader or not, but something she wrote about inspired me to remember that every little thing we do matters, and no matter how little our contributions are, as long as they're added to the mix, they can help make a difference. If everyone makes even a tiny effort toward a goal, the goal becomes a little easier to achieve. So thanks Ms Nem.

    Ms Tammy, you're not only an inspiration, you're a hero. I hope you know that, even though I might not tell you every day. I'll work on that. Thanks for making me feel like a complete wuss if I feel the urge to complain about my nonsense. And that's a good thing. If you haven't had the pleasure, please take a few minutes to visit her blog. "My Life as a Warrior"

    I was reminded this week how important my job of "parent" is. Not that I forgot, mind you, no, that's not what I mean. I think what I'm trying to say is that we can do so much in our children's lives by the little things we do. And it's so vital that we remember that things we could very easily overlook are very important to the little People in our lives. And in a day and age where parenting, in many cases, has become a big game of "Pass the Buck", it sure is refreshing to be reminded that "good" parenting isn't a lost art. So thanks Ms. Emily and Ms MammaMia. You guys inspire me to keep up the hard work that comes along with being a parent. Ms. Emily's AOL Journal is here

    I was, lastly, inspired by one of the best. She has made a career out of making me feel better. She reminds me that I count, that I actually do matter. She lets the world, once in a while, be all about me. She inspires me to just face the world the best way I know how, and that I owe apologies to no one for just living the life I do. And she does it while dealing with a lot of things in her own life. She keeps a great AOL Journal that you can see here. So thank you, Ms. Cassie, for a lifetime's worth of inspiration. Everyone should have a friend like you.

    So why would I write something like this? 'Cause I seem to complain a lot. I know that I come off as surly and grumpy. It's mostly my way of trying to be funny, because I know life isn't really so bad. Humor can make the bad stuff go away, and I think that idiotic behavior brings out the writer in me. But I also want some folks to remember that the things they do matter, and this is just one way to do it.

    PS, is it ok to link the blogs of the people I mentioned? If you read it, and see your "name" please say so in the comments, ok?

    Thanks. Gotta go to sleep now.


    So there's an educational process I have mastered now. It's a whole series of things all tied together to bring us to one solid conclusion. Here, let me illustrate...
    Yeah, we do it something like this. Drinking affects the ability to stand, walk, and do many other motor functions. Knees, spine and other assorted and sundry bones coming apart affect the ability to stand, walk, and many other motor functions. Combine the two, and, well you get the picture. Not a good duet.

    And, along with those fun things, you get a treat the day after: H-A-N-G-O-V-E-R.

    So, having completed the formula, we arrive at our final conclusion: Stupids shouldn't drink.

    It's all good though. I was never much of a drinker anyway. I was always the dork designated driver. So it just kinda stuck. Every once in a while I would find a chance to cut loose, but then I'd always remember why I am not much of a drinker. I hadn't had anything to drink in a long time anyway. Not a drop.

    So, I figured, what the heck? Have a drink along with everyone else. No harm in that, I guess.

    I was not in a place that required me to drive, or for that fact, do anything responsible.

    And umm, I was with my parents.

    We only drank some wine.

    No more drinking, lol.

    I am a lightweight.


    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    How To Deal?

    I remember in one of my child psychology classes some many years ago, the professor discussing how part of the growth experience of a child is the realization that its parents are not all-powerful and perfect. It teaches the child that human beings have limitations that we must learn to live with. The concept is essential in that it starts the child on the road to self-reliance.

    On the other hand, one of my life's major frustrations had been coming to terms with those limitations in myself. I think the worst times in my life come when I see a loved one hurting, and I realize that I cannot make it "all better." I understand, of course, that part of life is enduring its difficulties, that those difficulties can help build character. But it doesn't calm my frustration when someone I love is hurting.

    I'll never stop looking for the magic wand though, ya know?

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    Subliminal Messages

    By now, most of us Bloggers here have become familiar with the little "word verification" images that we have to read before entering comments on most Blogs.

    So I guess it was inevitable that Blogger started personalizing them, or encoding them as messages to each and every user. At least that's what I think.

    It all sounds very "conspiracy theory"-ish, but look what I found as I was leaving a very dumb comment:


    Legal Matters

    So this is Phil Spector, who is set to go on trial for murder shortly.

    I'm not a lawyer. But if there were one piece of advice I could muster for this man, it would be:
    Get a haircut

    Left is Right

    I often watch "Real Time With Bill Maher". I don't watch it because I'm a Libertarian, or a Liberal, but because I really like to look at both sides of any argument or issue to better make decisions.

    This week's episode was more of the same. The show has a lot of interesting content and discussion, but it always gets back to politics, and decidedly Left-Wing politics at that.

    Maher takes President Bush to task over the Patriot Act, and the overwhelming Big Brother approach to government these days. He said that Bush has asked us to sacrifice a lot, and Maher stated that those sacrifices included 6 of the 10 basic civil rights.

    Granted. The government has gone over the line under Bush. There are a lot of things going on that most of us wish weren't happening. I wouldn't dispute that for a minute. Our government ideology these days seems to be "business as usual until someone catches on."

    What irked me tonight wasn't so much those statements. What got under my skin was Maher's comparison of the sacrifices being asked of us during this Iraq War to those asked of the Nation under the Presidency of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    He listed the sacrifices: rationing, War Bonds, even made mention of women being asked to turn in their silk undergarments for use in parachutes. He made it all sound so patriotic, so "high road", and how much more noble the government was back then. He railed against the Bush Administration's mistreatment of a segment of society today.

    He forgot one thing.

    The Internment of Japanese American CITIZENS during World War II. Thousands of people of Japanese descent were forced out of their homes, forced to live in deplorable conditions simply because they were Japanese in descent.

    Racial profiling, anyone?

    For the first time, Maher almost had me agreeing with him.


    Weak in Review

    Now this is not, in any way, an entry about the people who might be mentioned in here tonight; they're just the most prime examples I can think of at the moment.

    It still bugs me that someone who was once a friend of Antonella Barba's thought it would be cool to release those pictures on the Internet and do some damage. I assume it was a friend, and probably a close one, because you don't typically pose for those kinds of photos with someone you don't like.

    And we're getting day-to-day reports about Britney Spears' progress in rehab. There was an article the other day about how she is drinking gallons of Coke per day. We're hearing all kinds of tales about the stuff that's going on inside those walls.

    So where is this going?

    Whatever happened to loyalty, discretion, valor and honor?

    Who the hell is leaking the Britney stories? No wonder she wants to rent out an entire wing of the Center. I just find it a little unsettling. The Courts can't get at some patient records because of Doctor-patient confidentiality rules. Hell, these days, forget the Medical rules, just open the tabloids. You'll get all the info you need.

    I guess with the way things are, you'd better watch everything you do. They used to say that if you didn't want your Mother or spouse to see it, you'd better not do it.

    Yeah, good advice these days.

    Saturday, March 17, 2007

    Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit! (Happy St. Patrick's Day)

    So leave it to me to get on here so late with a St. Patty's wish. Well, I guess it's better late than never, right?

    Quiet day here at the homestead. The weather kept a few of my friends from traveling down to have dinner here at the Old Guys' Home. So you're all gonna have to pack up and come by for a visit; I have way too much corned beef left over here, ok?

    The Nor'easter didn't cause too much havoc here. We got a couple of inches of snow/ice packed down out there, but the sun took care of a lot of it. All ya got to do is git here!

    March Madness sure helps pass the time these days. Saw some pretty decent games so far here in the early going. Excitement doesn't usually take off until the Sweet 16, but I can't complain about what I watched today.

    So, who's your pick for National Champ?

    See ya to read.

    I Wanna Be's an Expoit

    How does one get to be an "Expert"? I've been watching the news on CNN. In the course of presenting the various news stories, CNN has included interviews with a series of people, whom CNN identified as "Experts": Political Expert, Human Resources Expert, Terrorism Expert. (that terrorism expert, what exactly does he do? We'll cover that some other time, ok?)

    So I figured out that I have most certainly missed a boat or two in my life.

    The Human Resources expert, in a story about "Employee Health, gave us his valuable insight. "Employees make or break a company. Employees can't be relied upon if they're sick or injured."

    That's it?

    I have so got to get me a job like that. Even I could come up with something like that! Listen: "Employees can't do their jobs if they don't come to work."

    How's that? Am I an expert now? Please?

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Driving Me Crazy

    I was going through some papers tonight, and I found a pile of old vehicle registrations. I've owned a lot of cars over the years, and I just didn't realize some of the whacky vehicles I had mixed in there.

    73 Chevy Impala. Big brother's car. I can't believe he let me drive it.

    73 Chevy Impala Wagon. You drive this when you have no other options, and can convince parents to allow you to borrow it. I once got pulled over for allowing my friend, who was dressed as The Hulk for Halloween, to stand up in the tailgate and roar at people. He was painted green, by the way.

    Plymouth Volare that I took Driver's Ed on. I failed my road test 3 times. Bad Driver's Ed Instructor. Or maybe bad student. I drive much better now.

    Chevy Corvair. Unsafe at any speed! Hole in the floorboard. Flintstone Mobile!

    Yayyy, Yugo. Drove that for an hour. Someone picked it up and threw it.

    Loved my 78 Monte. Thought I was cool. Fuhgeddaboudit.

    Loved the first one so much, I got another! Got Brownie points here, because I bought it from my girlfriend's Dad. He really wanted to get rid of it.

    LOL, Chevette. I loved that car because I got it from my Grandpa. He was so pleased that someone in the family wanted it! It might be worth noting here, that I stand 6'5" tall. Picture that.

    1986 Chevy Celebrity.Liked this car until a local Livery service bought 20 of them for its fleet. Yayyy, Taxi Driver Stupid!

    1987 Chevy Celebrity. I'm a glutton for punishment. "TAXI!"

    AMC Pacer. Another short timer. Couple of days. Someone took it. Showed up a few years later in "Wayne's World", I think.

    Dodge Caravan. Family man by this time. Had an infant car seat in there. Oh, and an infant.

    1997 Ford Explorer. Got this when my wife insisted on having the Caravan so much! I love this Explorer! Still have it. I took very good care of it. 10 years old. It still runs great. I don't, however.

    2000 Celica GT. I got this for my 100th birthday. Yayyy! A friend of mine said it was a girly car. I ran him over with it.

    OK, enough Memory Lane for this evening, huh?

    Zero Tolerance?

    I so need to lighten up on a few things, boy. I have a couple of heavy pet peeves that seem to somehow get under my skin way too often. And there's not a lot of room under there!

  • I can't get past those people who have come to believe that their every whim needs to be catered to, as if their passing fancies somehow obligate you. We have a group that gets together once a year at the same restaurant. It's been going on for 10 years. We have a lady in the group who decided that this year the time had come for a change, but no one else wants to break tradition. She's been carrying on for weeks now. My attitude here is, "hey, majority rules, and there's no good reason to change what works for everyone else because you've gotten an idea." I guess I need to work on that, huh? Control freaks just bug the hell out of me.

  • I really need to knock off the Caped Crusader act when it comes to the English language. It's really a pet peeve of mine to see the language being mutilated and left for dead, particularly when it concerns the written word. I'm not talking about the occasional grammar slip-up, or a typo here and there, but I do a slow burn when I come across this whole new version of English. When did "would've" become "would of?" See, I did it again. I need to work on that as well, but my attitude is, if you're writing something you'd like me to spend time reading, take the time to compose it well.

  • And what's happened to the art of persuasion in this country? Why can't people disagree intelligently, without resorting to infantile tactics such as name-calling? You can get a good example of this by perusing an online forum or message board, particularly one that touches on a controversial topic. Sometimes, by the time you get to the last thread, you'll have no idea what the original discussion was. And of course, my favorite is the post that reads "your an idiot!". Yep, and "you're a genius!" But you know what? I'm not going to stop it. So I either stop reading, or get over it.

  • Yeah. Lighten up I guess.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007


    My problem has never so much been what we do in this country, so much as it's been way that we do them.

    Everything seems to start out well. And then the Experts And Over-doers get involved and ruin everything. We wind up taking so many things to extremes, and it's just ridiculous.

    Along about the time "Disco" was in its final death throes, we started on our way to the Fitness Craze. A guy named Jim Fixx took up running. We always ran before. Athletes ran for thousands of years before this guy was born, but he wrote a book about it and the Craze was born. Again, it started out with good intentions, after all, fitness is never a bad thing. But, we of course had to take it from the sublime to the ridiculous. It didn't stop with running, which was bad enough; we had the whole Exercise Fever to contend with now. We had gyms opening up everywhere, Jane Fonda started putting out "Workout Videos", and going to exercise became an exercise in fashion sense. Sneakers became "Cross Trainers" and along with the name change, came a hefty price tag. And thanks to the whole fad we got two things: Healthy runners dropping dead all over the place (Fixx, the Running Guru, himself died of a massive heart attack after a morning run in Vermont), but more importantly, who could ever forget Olivia Newton John's "Let's Get Physical"?

    To emphasize, it isn't what we do so much, it's the way we do it. All of a sudden, everyone was a physical fitness expert. It became just another vehicle for people to try and show how much better they were than you. I remember a few years ago, the whole "Recycling" thing began. I mean the craze, not the concept. Environmentally conscious people had been doing it for years, but then it kicked into the social consciousness, and look out! Again, we had a whole new breed of "experts", people who were suddenly very interested in seeing how much better they did the job than those around them. Designer recycling bins in the suburbs-ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It got to the point where I feared someone would say, "Hey, buddy, how're the kids? How's the garbage?" It just seems to me that as soon as the Experts get involved in something, it becomes that much less attractive to do.

    And of course, our propensity for overdoing things puts a damper on the fun, too.I can think back to when we were introduced to "Law and Order", a clever, well-written law enforcement drama. We were hooked! And I remember MTV and it's idea for "Reality TV". I watched the "Real World" those first few seasons, and it was fun, and interesting, and entertaining.

    But now, we have "Law and Order", its spinoffs, CSI and the spinoffs, and 32134 Reality TV shows. You're either watching shows about people being murdered, or you're watching shows featuring people you sometimes would like to see murdered. We have overdone it once again.

    Which reminds me: how long before someone advertises "The first Big-Screen TV actually visible from space"?

    We probably don't have to worry just yet about a "Hybrid Vehicles" craze. They don't make them fancy enough at the moment, for them to become status symbols for the Rich and Annoying to drive down our throats. I have noticed, however, a dwindling supply of the last "craze": the Monster SUV's! How insane was that whole thing. It wasn't a bad idea to have one of them in the beginning. But of course, "keeping up with the Joneses" meant bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER. One nitwit I know went out and bought this ridiculous monstrosity that cost him more than I'd paid for my first house! I'm not sure if they died off some because of gasoline prices, or the fact that the only way they could make them any larger would be to slap a set of wheels on a house. And we know that The Rich and Annoying would never be caught dead in a mobile home.

    Anyway,the latest "movement" seems to be the whole idea of "Organic Foods". Again, it's a good thing in and of itself. Nothing wrong with being healthy. No preservatives, all-natural, good for you-as I said, not a bad thing. It's just the people who have now grabbed the reins and are treating this whole thing as though they're now the resident experts. "Oh we eat only organic foods now, I don't know how you could eat that stuff!" Three years ago, she nearly put McDonald's Quarter Pounders on the "Endangered Species" list, but now she's going to preach about my slice of pizza. The whole "movement" thing in this country always derails because people use it to posture and extremists always ruin the party. We have advertisements here for an organic, natural-food line called Kashi. The spokeswoman starts the commercials by saying such profound things as "I take fun seriously", and "our foods help you have fun better". So that's what's been lacking in my life?

    You don't think this will get nutty? Think back a few years to the Oat Bran Craze. Or Olestra (you know, the "fat-free" potato chips ingredient). Those were the only times that we couldn't say that the Experts were full of you-know-what, because the typical overuse of those products kept them sitting on the bowl for hours on end.

    How on earth am I supposed to eat these foods with all these morons around making me sick?

    Oh well. I could think of something "organic" that I'd like them to eat, but if I say it, I might get my mouth washed out with soap or something.

    Enjoy the ride!

    Saturday, March 10, 2007


    That was, by far, the worst quiz ever posted on the Internet. That's the point. This is the STUPIDsheet.

    Most of the info was accurate, but some wasn't.

    K. wins a prize for pointing out that the standard shot is 1 1/2 oz.
    P. gets a prize for first pointing out that technically the sun doesn't rise. However, from our perspective here on Earth, the sun does rise above the horizon once a day. That's why we call it "sunrise". It is technically unsound, but saying that I was up "at the point where the earth's rotation causes it to face directly toward the Sun" to go fishing, just sounds dumb. So P. you do get a prize, just not a kabillion dollars.

    I promise that I will work on a perfectly legitimate Quiz for the next edition, if you'll promise to come back!

    Friday, March 09, 2007

    The First Stupidsheet Trivia Quiz

    The StupidSheet Quiz

    Give it a shot, and be sure to leave a your score in the comment section. High score wins a kabillion dollars!

    Thursday, March 08, 2007

    Out of the Mouths Of Babes...

    ...or in this case, comedians.

    Dennis Miller and George Carlin were on last night, and they both touched on something that got me to thinking.

    Miller talked about these allergy drugs we have. He mentioned some of the side-effects of one of the more popular ones: bleeding, migraine, heart attack and stroke. "Damn," he said, "just gimme a Kleenex, will ya?"

    And Carlin talked about our "sanitized" culture, making fun of how we're always spraying, wiping, boiling. He referred to his childhood, swimming in the rivers around NY City, how kids then didn't wash their hands 48 times a day. He said it helped build a rock-solid immune system in his body, and that he hadn't been sick in years.

    Of course, it was all comedy, but sometimes comedy is funny because it's true. And sometimes "funny" makes you think.

    I'm not as old as Carlin, but still, I wasn't a kid that long ago. I have 3 of my own now, and it seems like every kid they go to school with has asthma, or monstrous food allergies. I don't think I knew what asthma was until 8th grade. And I'm sure there were few, if any, kids in my school who were allergic to peanut butter. Where I grew up, parents had to beg kids to occasionally eat something other than PB&J sandwiches.

    We've outsmarted Mother Nature a few times, polio, smallpox, plague, but it seems like we've only moved the battlefields. In this day and age, we're manic about sterilization, but it seems as though once a week, some food-borne illness knocks hundreds of people to the sidelines.

    And Miller made a good point too. We're messing with our bodies. We swallow tons of pills that are capable of causing things 10 times worse than the ailment we set out to treat. We've definitely become a drug-culture of sorts. We can treat just about anything with a pill or two, and we're seemingly very comfortable with it all. "Meds" anyone? A cute nickname usually only gets tagged onto something we're ok with, no?

    All these drugs make me nervous. We have depression medicines that carry the warning that some might experience increased propensity toward suicide. We pump kids full of drugs intended to control ADHD, ADD, and things like that, but have we fallen into a trap of, in some cases mind you, substituting chemical controls for parental control? I mean, even the anti-reflux drugs can cause problems, because we need stomach acids to absorb Vitamin B.

    And while there was a lot of silliness associated with these comedians ranting on these things, I do wonder. Are we overdoing it? Have we eliminated so many germs and viruses that we have immune systems that might not be up to the job? Mother Nature, among other things, has always shown us that she never runs out of tricks. We hear a lot of warnings about that influenza strain that's threatening to mutate and potentially cause a pandemic. Are our bodies prepared for such a threat?

    Whew. I'd better watch Discovery Channel tonight. This comedy stuff can kill me!

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    This Is All Over The Place

    I needed to get to the Post Office today. Someone asked me to "mail a few things"...when did "a few" grow to just shy of 100?

    Anyway, I got the mail they'd been holding, and it ended well. I got a great CD in there. Will be just what I need when I start back in physical therapy.

    Awesome, Meta. Thanks a billion.

    Got to thinking. I had a membership in both Columbia House and BMG Music for the longest time. Then I stopped them, because I couldn't get my hands on anything I wanted to buy. For a while there, I was a purchasin' fool, and filled up quite a few CD racks. I liked to think I was staying with the times. But then, for me, I guess the music died. iTunes was a good remedy, because I could get the tracks I wanted without having to get stuck with a CD that stunk on balance.

    I used to watch MTV's "The Real World". I watched the first few seasons, heck I ate them up. Those shows featured some really interesting characters. Not any more.

    Same with movies. I was one of those nuts who would go see a movie in the theatre, maybe sit through it twice, and then be first on line to buy the VHS, and later the DVD.

    It's been quite a while since a movie trailer inspired me. "Zodiac" kind of has my attention, but, it's been a while since I've uttered the words "I've got to see that!

    But it's not all bad. I've found Journals and Blogs. And with a little effort, some really good ones. Get a little taste for how some other people I'd consider friends live their lives, you know? And I've been reminded that humor can be intelligent and insightful, and still be funny. Imagine that. And not vulgar either!

    I've "met" some great people through this medium, (in some cases, actually met a few, too) and I think it's something how you can get to know a person from the inside out this way.

    And hey, you get to see some funny film clips, read a funny joke, or get a good music mix.

    Sometimes, just when you least expect it, huh?

    Saturday, March 03, 2007

    Oh Definitely


    Friday, March 02, 2007

    Cute Video

    I found a pretty cute video on YouTube.
    Click here to check it out

    Thursday, March 01, 2007

    American Narcissism

    Part of the maturation process for humans is learning to defer the need for immediate gratification. Our first instinctive behavior is the act of drawing attention to ourselves through the act of crying. It's usually the first thing we do when we're born. As much as we adore our newborns, we also recognize that they are, at least temporarily, little tyrants who are running the show. For the first few months, we cater to their every need on an immediate basis. The first milestone in parenting comes when Baby "sleeps through the night", which, to some parents, is better than winning the lottery.

    Eventually though, Baby must learn that there are times when a need cannot or will not be immediately met. Child psychologists will encourage parents to allow the baby to cry it out, not only for purposes of their own sanity, but to allow the infant to begin learning to soothe itself. It becomes a fact of life that those needs aren't always paramount: Sometimes there aren't any cookies at hand, or sometimes the desired toy belongs to another child. Such is life.

    Houston, we have a problem.

    Somewhere along the line, a great many parents are apparently forgetting the chapter on "immediate gratification". Who among us the last few years hasn't been in Church, or Temple, or a restaurant or movie theatre and encountered a child who hasn't quite grasped the concept of "wait a minute"? And no, I'm not saying this is something entirely new; we've all got a memory of a "spoiled brat" or a bully who wreaked havoc on the social scene.

    Those kids stand out in our memories because it didn't seem as though there were a whole lot of them. There was usually one "class clown", "school bully", while the rest pretty much toed the line.

    And hereis lies the difficulty. Those bullies and tyrants didn't quite get it. They never got past the infant stage of "immediate gratification" which translated to getting used to getting their own way when they said so, which pretty much translated to trouble. The class clowns were attention hounds, who sought out means to get attention that they were used to, and that they liked. Sometimes there was a cross-breed of class clown and bully who got attention at the expense of others.

    The problem is, these days it seems like there are a whole lot more of them. 30 years ago, you might be in a theater, or in Church, Temple or a restaurant, and encounter a kid who was carrying on, and a parent would bundle the offender up and take him outside or to the back of the room. Who is going to deny that nowadays, those places prove that the Circus isn't limited to the Big Top anymore?

    Scientists are tracing this problem back to the "self-esteem" movement that surfaced in the 1980's, and that the effort to build self-confidence has gone too far. A study from San Diego State University offers that today's college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, and that this trend is harmful to personal relationships and society in general. And you can be sure that if they're finding this among college students, there's a pretty good chance that the findings could bleed out to cover a whole host of other members of society.

    We're out of control.

    Now don't misunderstand me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with encouragement. There is no problem with praise, and building self-esteem. There never has been. We love movies like "Rocky", "Rudy", and "Cinderella Man, or for that matter, "Cinderella".We like to see instances where the "little guy" wins one. And it's never wrong to try your best. But we have to remember that the best "storybook" lives aren't 100% perfect. The characters in the aforementioned stories all had lives chock-full of disappointments and adversity. It was what they did with those disappointments, how they dealt with the obstacles that made them great and brought us the happy endings.

    Truth be told, I believe that what makes those stories so lovable is the fact that they don't always happen that way. Sometimes the bad guy wins; sometimes we don't turn out to be the best. Like it or not, there can only be one "greatest" at a time. There's plenty of room for runners up, and sometimes that's not a bad thing. Where I think we've crossed the line is in taking a little encouragement and praise and morphed it into a form of brainwashing. We love our families, our kids, and our friends. We want them to all feel good. But the real world has the propensity to see us just a little differently than our own does.But in the world, one is likely to meet with many, many instances of criticism, both constructive and destructive. There isn't a parent among us who doesn't want believe that his child is the best athlete, the most talented musician, but when we come to grips with reality, sometimes someone else's kid is top dog. Where I think there's a big disservice to the children occurring is in how we teach these kids to deal with those facts.

    What kind of confusion must be reigning out there these days? We've always liked to believe that it's what goes on with our minds and intelligence that really matters, and we'd always encouraged education as the way to do. Yet, that's not what's really going on. Time was, our exposure to the media consisted of an hour or two in front of the living room TV before bedtime. In today's society, the media is a pervasive force in a huge percentage of our lives. If there's no time for TV, we can access the Internet, or carry an iPod. We can take our entertainment everywhere we go with a fancy cell phone. It's everywhere, and what are we seeing? We celebrate the "Bad Boys", the "Girls Gone Wild", and what, in fact, is their claim to fame? Physical attractiveness? Even those who are behind, or approve of the movement toward "Real Beauty"...perhaps different means, but the same "end": we all want our share of the spotlight. And in some cases, people will do whatever they can to achieve their "15 minutes of fame".

    We're greatly becoming a culture of people who lack empathy, react aggressively toward any type of criticism, and favor self-promotion over helping others, according to Jean Twenge, over at San Diego State University. She's written a book entitled "Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans are more Confident, Assertive, Entitles - And More Miserable Than Ever Before". She notes that narcissists are "more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth and to exhibit game-playing dishonesty and over-controlling and violent behavior."

    If you've taken to reading blogs and such on the Internet, you can see that while Twenge's assessment doesn't apply to evert single person, you can also see that she is not entirely off base. If you're like me, you read blogs written by definitive narcissists, or the people who aren't narcissistic, but who are trying to find their way in a world where it's really become a case of "me first".

    I know this whole discussion isn't typical of what anyone who reads has become accustomed to, but I'm really seeing a problem. We've become way too indulgent, far too willing to accept essentially anti-social behavior. Bullying has become so pervasive, that in some instances, as in recent cases on, for example, it's seen as a form of entertainment. There are an increasingly disturbing number of people who see such behavior as simply "kids being kids", as if it's all harmless.

    A recent "controversy" in Hollywoodland involves a young woman who is a contestant on the American Idol competition. Seems some photographs of her have made their way around the Internet, ones that might hinder her chances in the competition. There was a whole section of the Idol website devoted to the discussion of this matter, and in one discussion that went slightly off-topic, one poster objected to the young lady's choice of venue for her photographs, which I believe was the World War II Memorial. Another poster, who was aiming to dismiss those objections, simply stated, "It's just a monument, who cares?"

    Exactly the point. It's a monument built in honor of those who gave their lives in defense of this nation's freedoms, but to her, it's "just a monument". If there was ever an example of a lack of "empathy", this was it.

    I apologize for this lengthy discussion, but as a parent trying to do the right thing as far as raising my children, I'm more worried every day that the values I'm trying to instill in my kids will have little place or value in the society that I see evolving around me.

    Ironically, I guess it's somewhat narcissistic of me to expect anyone to read this amount of drivel, but if you have, thanks.