Friday, September 29, 2006

Stupid bloggers

Ok, so Dummy McDummerson decides to post:

6 Commonly Believed Things That Are Wrong

No sweat.  Neat concept.  The list is probably short.

The problem is that he lists these 6 things:

  1. Centrifugal Force
  2. The sky is blue because of the ocean or space
  3. Extra Dimensions
  4. Nuclear power plants can explode like a bomb
  5. Microwave ovens (or other electronics) can cause cancer
  6. Medieval people thought the world was flat

And then goes on to either explain the correct thing incorrectly, misrepresent the incorrect thing, or just plain provide a wrong answer.  Needless to say there are nearly 100 comments to Dummy’s post.  I’m not going to post the link because I don’t want to add to the dumbness.

However, I’m willing to look at the things he screws up.

So lets look at it (remember, I’m an accountant).

1.       Centrifugal Force.  He says:

There is a lot of confusion about this one. Some people think that the centrifugal force is what causes water to stay in a bucket when you spin it around or pushes you against the door when you take a sharp turn in your car. That’s completely wrong, but not helped by its name, which means “center fleeing”. Some people also call centrifugal force a fake force. This is also wrong. So what’s going on?

When something moves in an circle, it is accelerating. This acceleration is called centripetal, which roughly means “pointing toward the center”. Because acceleration is a vector, it needs a direction, and centripetal acceleration is always pointing toward the center of the circle, hence its name. Thanks to Newton, we know that F = ma, so when a mass accelerates there’s a force. But that force is not what pushes you out, because it’s actually pointed toward the center of the circle. So what’s going on?

Well, Newton also explained this one. What pushes you out is Inertia. Because your body resists changes in its direction, when it undergoes centripetal acceleration it wants to keep going in a direction tangent to the circle. That’s what pushes you against the door and keeps the water in the bucket.

So what about the “fake force” part? Well, in a normal reference frame, the centrifugal force doesn’t exist. But in a rotating frame, it most certainly does. So while we might not need it most of the time, examining forces from a rotating frame requires it. It’s not fake at all.


Ok, so it’s not a force any more than getting punched is a “force”.  It’s a term to explain what’s going on in a centrifugal system with vectors and direction and force acting on an object and inertia and stuff.  Centrifugal Force does not keep water in a bucket when you spin it around.  A bucket is denser than water and therefore water does not slip through the walls of the bucket just like you can’t pass through a wall (unless there’s a door).  Centrifugal Force describes the several events that coincide (acceleration, redirection, etcetera) to keep the water in the bucket.  If those forces do not coincide, you get wet.  Maybe that’s what the misconception is, that people think there electromagnetism, gravity, strong, weak, atomic, and “centrifugal” force within atoms.


2.       The sky is blue because of the ocean or space.  He says:

I cannot confidently say that this is a common belief everywhere, and I sincerely hope it isn’t, but when I was in high school a large number of people did believe it, and no one knew what really makes the sky blue. I won’t even go into why it’s idiotic to think this, because it’s so obvious, but the real cause is interesting and not very well known so I will elaborate on it.

The cause is known as Raleigh scattering. What happens is that the blue wavelengths of the light from the sun are absorbed and then radiated by the gasses in the atmosphere, while the rest of the spectrum remains unaffected. This radiation happens in all directions, meaning that the entire sky looks pretty much the same shade of blue. This is also why the sun looks yellow instead of white, enough of the blue end of the spectrum is removed for it to appear yellow.

It also affects sunset, causing more of the shorter wavelengths to be filtered out as the sun’s light has to pass through more of the atmosphere to reach you.

I cannot personally say that I’ve ever met someone who seriously believes this.  Nor can I honestly say that I’ve ever met someone who buys the “Raleigh Scattering” explanation as he gives it.  Why is the sky blue?  As I understand it (remember, I’m an accountant) it has something to do with refraction and reflection.  Air is clear (so is water).  The red comes through the atmosphere and some of blue reflects.  That’s good enough for me.  It’s most decidedly not the reflection of water on the sky or vice-versa.


3.      Extra Dimensions

He talks about xyz + Time, then tries to talk about string theory.  I’m not reposting the original because it’s all theory stuff and can’t be proven one way or another.  What it boils down to is there are 3 spatial dimensions, plus time, and from our point of view there are no other useful data points to specify where or when something occurred because if an event occurred it’s assumed it occurred in this dimension (which we can perceive) and not some other dimension that we can neither perceive nor prove exists.  It’s like saying “someone just crapped on Pluto”.  We can’t prove it happened, we can’t prove it didn’t.  So, when we say “someone just crapped” we assume it’s either here on earth or possibly in the space station, but nowhere else, so I don’t have to say North America, US, Texas, Houston, 2200 Main…  oh yea, on earth.


4.      Nuclear Power plants can explode like a bomb.  He said:

I know some extremely intelligent people who believe this, and it’s rubbish. Nuclear power plants don’t have anywhere close to the fissile material needed for the runaway reaction like a bomb. Modern power plants can’t even meltdown like Chernobyl did. It’s actually a great irony of history that the same day that Chernobyl’s reactors overheated the same test was done here in the US, and the reactor passed with flying colors. Safeguards in place today make overheating virtually impossible. The pollution from coal plants is far more dangerous than nuclear power ever will be, but people seem so irrationally afraid of nuclear power that it doesn’t matter that it’s the safest and cleanest means of generating energy (at least once we have a good waste disposal plan, and there are many in the works).

First off, he’s wrong.  Anything can explode like a bomb.  A coke bottle can explode like a bomb.  I think what he meant was “Nuclear power plants can explode like a thermonuclear bomb”.  That much is quite untrue.  Regular fission plants cannot explode like thermonuclear bombs because nukes work on principles of FUSION and power plants work on principles of FISSION.  So, right from initial science power plants can’t go Hiroshima on us.  Can they blow up?  Sure.  If the core melts down superheated steam has to escape somewhere and the place goes kablowey.  If I take a can of beans and heat it up unopened it blows like a bomb.  That’s what happens.  Now, the beans don’t go thermonuclear on me.  I have to eat them for that to happen (yuk, yuk).

That said, a meltdown is quite unlikely.  You’re safer living next to a nuclear plant than driving to work.  Of course, you’re much more likely to survive the long term consequences of a car crash than a nuclear meltdown in your neighborhood.  Good thing nuke reactors are pretty safe.


5.      Microwave ovens (or other electronics) can cause cancer.

This one he actually gets right and the simple suggestion that you can get cancer from using a microwave is completely absurd.  And you’re far more likely to get in a car wreck because you’re talking on your stupid cell phone than you are to get cancer from talking on your stupid cell phone, so put it down while you’re driving before I run you off the damn road!!!


6.      Medieval people thought the world was flat.  He says:

No, they didn’t. This was made up more or less out of thin air by Washington Irving in his horrid biography of Christopher Columbus. I haven’t the faintest idea why this has become so widespread, since there is ample evidence going against it, but unfortunately it’s still taught.

Look, people today think the world is flat.  There’s not many of them, but they’re out there.  They think we didn’t land on the moon, Kennedy is still alive, microwaves give you cancer, the sky is blue because of the ocean, nuclear plants will create mushroom clouds, water stays in bucket by magic, and the World Trade Center attacks were an elaborate plot to start a war of genocide.  If there are idiots like that today with all the modern technology and information available to everyone on the planet, what makes you think people 500 years ago weren’t equally (or moreso) ignorant?  People thought the world was flat.  SOME EDUCATED people may not have thought the world was flat, but SOME EDUCATED people is not EVERYBODY.

Yesterday's workout

1 scotch-rocks.  Johnny Walker, black label.  Approximately 2 oz.

2 Shiner Bock beers.  12 oz each.

Walked 8 blocks, both directions.

It was a good workout.  About 3 hours.  I feel good today.  I’m not sore at all and I actually have enough energy to do another workout tonight for the first back-to-back workout sessions I’ve had in ages.


Of course, I’m going to skip the workout tonight and just ride my bike tomorrow AM.  Because if there’s one thing I do consistently it’s skip workouts.


The baby’s smiling, too.  He seems to be thoroughly amused at the little round things at the end of the little oval things at the end of the long things that are sticking of the bottom of him (that’s his toes, but he doesn’t know what “toes” mean, nor “feet”, nor “legs”).  I held his toes up to him this morning and his eyes popped out real big as if to say “WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS?!?!?” and then he giggled and smiled all big and goofy.  And then he was done.

He’s smiling, but not very often yet.


Babies crack me up sometimes.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Damn Astros

Official survey:

Which is better, MP3 player or Ipod?


More specifically, how much added utility is an Ipod over simply being able to play music on an MP3?


(Just so show off the level of sickness, I’m considering one of the new-fangled music boxes.)



Uncle Drayton:

I told you that I wasn’t going to care any more this season.  I told you that your offenses were too great for me to continue to turn a blind eye toward your mismanagement, micromanagement, and complete baseball ignorance.  You clearly know how to run a business.  You clearly know how to run a franchise.  But somehow you just don’t quite know how to let baseball people build baseball teams.  Heavy on pitching, light on hitting, and more dead wood than a geriatric convention with a delayed Viagra shipment is no way to seriously contend for a title.

But lookie here.  I’m watching the game on TV and following not 1 but 2 game trackers online while following the St. Louis game at the same time.  There was a time just a few short weeks ago when going into the 9th behind was enough for me to just click the game off.  But no.  Not this time.  I actually stayed.  And they tied it up.  There was a time, just a few short weeks ago, that a tie ballgame in the bottom of the 9th or even in extra innings was enough for me to toss in the towel because that next pitch from Brad Lidge has FAA clearance for a transcontinental flight.  But not this time.  I actually stayed.  And I bitched and complained about those guys going up and swinging at the first pitch and going down 1-2-3 with the pitcher barely even breaking a sweat and only throwing a minimum of pitches.  “EVEN LITTLE LEAGUERS KNOW NOT TO SWING AT THE FIRST PITCH!” I would yell.  Then my wife would say “Quiet, the baby’s sleeping.”  See what you’re doing?  You’re making me wake up the baby.  I don’t appreciate that.

Tell your hitters to take the first pitch.

I’m officially, grudgingly, caring again. 

But I’m not getting my hopes up.  I won’t let you break my heart again.  Not until we overcome that 1.5 game deficit in the standings.



Astro Fan



Training update:

This weekend is my “Prime the pump” ride.  40-50 miles somewhere on the bike to inform the old heart and muscles that it’s time to get off the couch and wake up a bit.  Afterwards I might take in 3 miles or so.

The next week is a RTW, which should be right up my alley.

The next week I’m going to take in the last paintball game of the year, which counts as serious cross training (run, run, shoot, shoot, run, run, run, lay down, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, shoot, shoot, shoot, shot.  Sit.)

At some point I’m going to have to actually sign up for the marathon or the half.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Have you ever noticed...

Have you ever noticed that the “media” will fall all over themselves to tell you what a suspected child molester ate while on a plane heading across the ocean?


Or more importantly, they’ll breathlessly race to offer sensitive state secrets on the air such as the specific intricacies of a planned military maneuver days or hours before the event actually occurs, or the details behind covert financial tracking systems, or details behind covert detainment facilities, or details of interrogation (torture?) techniques.  You know, information on the mousetrap so that you can design better mice.  Seriously, who doesn’t know how the US will invade Iran (not that a war with Iran is imminent, it isn’t, I’m just sayin…)?


But they refuse to give the location of the “website frequently used by jihadists to post messages and videos”.  Sure, a million billion idiot porn surfers clogging these websites would make surveillance tough for the good guys, but then again, if the bad guys know precisely where and when the soldiers are coming, they might be prepared, or if they know precisely how their money transactions are being tracked, they might figure a way around that, or if they know that you’re tracking satellite phone signals (or that you even can track the signals) they’ll switch to horse-back courier routes instead of phones.  I mean, they’re providing other information to the crazy terrorists and handcuffing our ability to track and neutralize these vermin, why not keep blabbing about their other lines of communication and let us try to hack, flood, ping, or otherwise hijack their stupid websites?  I’m sure a few million uploaded videos to the site would prompt registration requirements…  then track those who are registered, hunt them down, and kill (sorry, keel) them.  Besides, if a 13 year old boy (another 1000 hits) can manage to take down an entire corporation with a stupid virus, maybe a million 13 year old boys (another 1000 hits) will manage to take down some ter’rists.  Plus, it’d be nice to know these idiots are getting those stupid “Nigerian Prisoner” and “herbal Viagra” e-mails as well.  [As an aside, I’ve seen the new twist in the Spanish Prisoner/Nigerian Financier scam I’ll share some time soon.  It cracks my ass up.]




You log into terrorists dot com and a “Convenient Internet Access” truck shows up across the street with a “Flowers By Iris” truck and they park there for about 3 days.  “Gee that install is taking a long time, Abdullah.”  “Yea, Abdallah, it is.  And they like their flowers, too.”  Then Abdullah and Adballah vanish on their way to pick up some milk, butter, and nitro glycerine at the corner terrorist store.  Just like that, they’re gone.  I’ve just solved the terrorism problem.  Give me some money.


Training update and the strangest conversation I've ever heard

I have begun laying the foundation for training.

Sit-ups and push-ups along with a foundation of weights is where it begins.  I’m tracking my “sleep” (sleep takes on new meanings with a new baby), diet, and weight.  Tomorrow, Mel takes the “before” picture and the intense training (I train like I camp… in tents, yuk yuk) begins over the weekend.  According to last night’s blogroll I’m starting about 10 miles behind where I should be.  Long runs for this weekend look like they’re consistently 10 miles.  Mine will be roughly 0 miles.  However, I may do something crazy next weekend.


Also, I said that when the magic number exceeds the number of games remaining the team is out of contention.  That’s not completely true.  When the magic number exceeds the number of games remaining for both them and the category leader (division or wildcard), then that team is out of contention.  The Astros’ magic number is 8 as of this morning, but there are 12 total games (6 for the ‘stros, 5 for the Cards, plus the 1 unscheduled make-up game).  If the Cards win 5 before the Astros play another game, then the ‘stros are out of it (7 is less than 8).  God I love baseball.



Ok. The strangest conversation I’ve ever heard happened yesterday during lunch.*


*Disclaimer:  It may not be the strangest conversation I’ve EVER heard, but it’s the strangest convo in recent memory.


A paraphrase, of sorts:


Ok, so the first guy says to the other guy “Do you think it’d be better for your mistress to be a friend of your wife, or a complete stranger?”

Second guy “Huh?”

“Should your mistress be a complete stranger to your wife, or should they be best friends?  You know, shopping buddies, hair dresser, nail salon, walks in the park and all that.”

“Wouldn’t you be afraid the one might tell the other that you’re, you know, boning her?  The whole idea of having a secret affair is that it remains a secret.  Otherwise it’s just an open marriage in the free love 60s.  Who wants that?”

Silent pause…

Guy 1:  “Anyway, that’s my point.  Eventually you’re going to break up with one of them—either you wife or your girlfriend.  If your girlfriend is your wife’s friend, then there’s less of a chance she’ll spill the beans because they ‘care for each other’s feelings’ and all that crap.  You know how girls are.  They’re all sensitive to each other and wouldn’t want to say something that would hurt the other’s feelings, especially if that something is ‘I was screwing your husband and he just broke up with me’ because that would mean that she just lost her boyfriend AND girlfriend.  If it’s just some chick you picked up in a bar or met at work, then if things go sour—and they will go sour—you have all the weird moments where she boils your kid’s rabbit and takes a crowbar to your car or calls up and tells your wife what was going on just to screw you over and then you have to explain why some crazy bimbo is trying to ruin your life and you end up losing your wife, girlfriend, and half of everything, not to mention child support, respect, and all the other stuff that comes to a guy who picks up some bimbo in a bar.”

“Seems you’ve thought all this through.  Which one of your wife’s friends are you in to?”




That’s when I almost choked on my drink and promptly stopped listening and went on with my business.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Training program and other stuff

I’m not going to comment on Clinton’s meltdown except to say that he has now descended to the depths of the liberal blogosphere rhetoric.  6 years ago people were bleating that Bush did nothing for 8 months to stop Bin Laden and Michael Moore even made a hatchet job propaganda movie about it.  Clinton, as the democrat emeritus, has now taken up this line and is holding the bloggo-lib banner high.  It’s a sad, sad day for the democratic party.  Not because it won’t get them votes.  No, it will likely energize some portion of the voting block.  No, it’s a sad day because it’ll energize the wrong part.  It’ll energize the extremist left that resides in the blogosphere and is completely intolerant of any discussion and disagreement—that’s why former Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Lieberman is running as an independent and fighting for his seat in the senate.  Just like the talk radio conservatives who go more to the right in a tight campaign season, these blogger libs will go more to the left and the polarization will continue.  At some point this will break and some leadership will come out of that vast territory in the middle. 


Hopefully sooner rather than later.


As an aside, Pres. Clinton insisted that he did more than anyone else to stop Bin Laden.  He even almost killed him.  A few years back he was insisting that he had no legal grounds to arrest Bin Laden when Sudan offered to hand him over to us, but now he had legal grounds to kill him in cold blood.  Something doesn’t add up, but only if you’re listening.


On to more serious business.


Marathon training begins for real this weekend.  I’ve been eating right.  I haven’t been sleeping right, but those patterns will settle down soon, I’m sure.  The idea is to get pretty aggressive toward the end of October.  I’m going to take it easy for the first couple of weeks and just get my legs back underneath me with 3 mile runs during the week and something no less than 6 miles starting on the 7th.  That should give me a solid 20 miles the first full week of October and I’ll track that as my baseline for the marathon or half-marathon.  From that 20 mile base I’m going to begin ramping up in the last 2 weeks of October and should hit the dreaded shin-splint period in mid-November.  That’ll take me 1 week off from training, but I should be able to climb right back into the saddle and be running by Thanksgiving.  If I can be prepared for the big 16 miler in December, I should be able to run the marathon in January.


Let the “fun” begin.

God I hate this stuff.  Just thinking of running is making me want to take a nap.  But it will be cool to see my child at the finish line.  Plus, if it weren’t for all the running that leads up to it that whole entry into the Valley of Champions in downtown would simply be walking down the street.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

You go, Hugo

Hugo Chavez’s speech was a good one, too.  Very enlightening (but not how Hugo wanted us to be enlightened).



No run this morning.  Meeting at the big UH tonight.  Maybe a run tomorrow.  Maybe on Saturday.  I’m thinking about doing something crazy.




I’ll talk a little here or on about alcoholics, terrorists, booze, and bullets a little later.  I’m kinda busy right now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Running update (of sorts) plus more!

Ok, the “running update” is a little misleading.  I fully intended to run this morning…  (how many times do I start a running update with “I fully intended…”)


I fully intended to run this morning.  I was planning on getting up at 5, hitting the road by 5:15, then being back by 6 to feed the baby, shower, and get on with the day.

The baby kept me up ‘till 11, then I couldn’t get to sleep ‘till 1, then I didn’t hear the alarm ‘till 6:30.  Oddly enough, even without the baby keeping us up I wouldn’t have heard the alarm until 6 because I forgot to set it back to 5.  There you have it.  Maybe I’ll get a run in tomorrow morning.



Plus more:


The Iranian president (whose name I cannot pronounce, much less spell) referred in his speech last night at the United Nations to the prophet Jesus Christ in this context (not a direct quote):  nations’ spirituality must be respected and nations must be allowed to follow the teachings of the prophets, from the prophet Adam, to the prophet Moses, to the prophet Abraham, to the prophet Jesus Christ, to the prophet Mohammed.  First, if he was just a prophet his name is not Jesus Christ.  Christ is the title assigned to the messiah.  Jesus the prophet is Jesus Barjoseph or some such.  They didn’t use last names very much before the 1300s.  So the initial logical discrepancy of the statement is right there.
Second, the ideal he calls for is not so bad.  Nations should be allowed to follow whatever wacky state religion they want to, just so long their wacky state religion is not forced by that state on my state.  It was a good speech.  Really, it was.  Go digging for the full video file… it’s probably on YouTube by now.  And compare our president’s speech with their president’s speech.


But the story that will not be reported and the much larger story indeed is the complete lack of riots, murders, and mosque attacks last night and in the upcoming days due to someone blaspheming the Christian faith.  Dare to say “Mohammed was just this guy, no particular prophetic ability” and car bombs go off all over the world, entire governments condemn you, and riots break out with burning effigies and (for some reason) burning American flags.


Christians say Jesus is Lord.  However, if you dare to say the Christian God is just some prophet, the world sleeps on.  Nothing happens.


One of these things is not like the other.  One of these things is not the same.


A minor additional note:

Iran’s president also called for the addition of 3 states to the Security Council as permanent members—one from Africa, one from South America, and one from the “non-aligned movement”.  That brings the total permanent members to 8, plus Japan and Germany who have been lobbying for years to get into the game would bring the number to 10 princes… er, delegates on the Security Council.  It probably won’t ever happen.  Probably.  Maybe.


[Since there are some who won’t get the reference, 10 princes are referred to in Revelation, but I’m not suggesting the end times are nigh and you should repent…  or am I?  DA DA DUHHHHHH!]

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Ok, you stupid, stupid, stupid commuters.  It’s not enough that I have to sit behind you and put up with putting on your makeup in traffic.  It’s not enough that you’re going around the world to the left (blinker on constantly) and when a spot does open up you’re expecting all of traffic to stop just for you.  It’s not enough that you expect the lane of traffic moving at a good steady clip to slow down just for you while everyone behind you is being forced to slow down and look at that long strip of concrete in front of your car when all you need to do is speed up 5mph and you’ll not only match the speed of moving traffic, but also be able to merge without causing any headaches for anyone (but you don’t want that you inconsiderate boob).  It’s not enough that your phone conversation is more important than you actually driving in such a manner that won’t imperil everyone around you.

No, that’s not enough.

No, you also have to roll your damn window down, honk at the guy next to you, and ask him if you can merge.  Yelling and screaming is one thing—and a special kind of stupid—but you condescend to an even stupider level of politely asking the guy—at agonizingly slow speeds, mind you—if you can pull over in front of him.  Meanwhile he slows down to listen to you, you slow down to talk to him (yes, I was close enough to actually hear the conversation over all the horns honking) and everyone behind the both of you have to slow down too.  You plugged up 40% of the west loop.  I hope you’re proud of yourself.  I hope your whole family is proud of you.  You moron.  That’s what a blinker is for.  You know, that pretty flashy blinkey light on the side of your steering column?  You know the thing YOU NEVER FREAKING USE!!!!  Your entire village should be burnt to the ground and your family should be forced to change their name (if they’re not already doing so voluntarily).


No, that’s not enough, either.


No, you freaking morons also have to show up in my parking garage and idle up and down the lanes—IDLE!!—while EVERYONE is stacked up behind you.  Then come to a stop, turn on your blinker—NOW YOU USE YOUR BLINKER!!—and pull into your parking spot.  YOU DON’T NEED TO SIGNAL YOUR INTENTION TO TAKE A PARKING SPOT!!!!  If I were behind you I might have tapped your bumper just to make a point.  Good thing I was 5 CARS BACK WATCHING YOU BE A MORON YOU STUPID STUPID MORON!!!

No, that’s not quite enough, either.

No, one of your idiot friends has to pull her big fat suburban assault vehicle into an empty spot—not the next spot, mind you, but the one just past the empty spot so that the next person (me) is forced to park in the spot in between or go searching for another spot—and then kick your door open into the LAST FREE SPOT ON THE LEVEL AND TAKE UP 2 *(%(#&^@#$(%*&)&^$ SPOTS!!!  IS YOUR BRAIN EVEN PLUGGED IN!??!?!?

So, we had to sit through the idiots on the freeway, then the idiot in the garage, and now I have to wait on you to finish whatever stupid shit you’re doing while your door is hanging out into the last open spot on the floor.  Thanks.  Way to start my day, you stupid, stupid, stupid moron.

That said, though, it’s actually a pretty good day.  The weather is nice, the temperature is nice, my back is feeling better than it has in 2 weeks, and I’ve heard they now have devices that capture audiophonic recordings and hold them within the device so that you can recall the particular sounds at any time you wish to do so.  Plus these magical devices fit in a pocket, or on a strap, or on a clip so that you can carry the device with you rather than having to bring an actual band along.  I will be investigating these devices for my marathon training.

Did I mention that the little prince is beginning to smile.  That is, before we got him his immunity shots.  After that he screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and slept and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed and slept.  But at least he won’t be voted off the island.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Welcome to the double standard

I did mention that I’m going to be running in one of the events in January, right?  Oh yea, of course I did because my son decided he didn’t feel like sleeping last night just to remind me what kind of stupid decision that is.  Thanks, son.  Really.  Despite the words I used that you’re not allowed to use, I really do enjoy hearing you scream at 4:00am.  Really.  Yea.  I do.  Sure.


So, we watched Dateline last night.  Hour 1 was catching filthy perverts who troll for little girls on line and when they show up at the little girl’s house BAM! Dateline cameras, cops, jail time.  Thanks for coming over.  24 year old guys (and older) heading to some little 14 year old girl’s house for sex are nasty, perverted predators.  Making a date online with a minor is a felony.  That’s jail time in ass pounding state jail.  If you cross state lines it’s ass pounding federal jail.


Hour 2 covered that teacher in Florida who molested and ACTUALLY HAD SEX with her student.  She carried on a sexual relationship that included actual intercourse—not just making out or talking about it—with a 14 year old boy.  The boy’s mom dropped the charges and she was slapped with house arrest and probation on lesser charges.


The guys from episode 1 are sick perverts.  The chick from episode 2 is a bunch of high fives and pats on your back from your buddies.


There are so many social comments to be made about this.  The teacher in Florida is hot.  Totally hot.  I mean bangin’ hot.  The judge, defense lawyer, and prosecutor are all men.  Did that have any bearing?  Yup.  The “powers that be” scoff at the idea that nailing the hot 24 year old teacher is every 14 year old boy’s dream.  Guess what, it is.  What do you think little boys are doing with the SI Swimsuit Issue or Hustler magazine?  They’re not intently listening to the models’ explanation of a quadratic equation.  They’re looking at their boobies.  Those models are—yup—20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 years old.  Every 14 year old boy’s dream?  Damn right it is (at least for the straight boys).  Hell, it’s still a dream for some 30 year old boys.

I’ll tell you a secret.  It’s not one you’re going to like.  Are you ready for it?  You may want to sit down and catch your breath before I type it out.  Go ahead.  Prepare yourself.  Are you ready?


Guys dig hot chicks. 


Shocking, I know.  I’ll give you a second to compose yourself.


Even 14 year old guys—ESPECIALLY 14 year old guys—dig hot chicks.  Hot Teacher was a mental basket case.  She was totally hot.  She was everything a hormonal kid could want—emotionally weak, clingy, easily manipulated.  He shoots her a “Hey baby” a couple of times and catches her on a vulnerable day the BAM! He’s in the Promised Land.  High 5s in the locker room and knowing nods of “yea, I’m hittin’ that” with his boys.  She didn’t take advantage of him, he took advantage of her and all his friends wanted to be him.



She’s the adult.  He’s the kid.  Whether he wanted to nail the hot teacher or not is irrelevant.  She’s in a position of power (even if she wasn’t acting appropriately or in control) and never EVER should have let it go that far any more than the college professor should take advantage of the hot co-ed.  Her co-workers should have said something.  Her principal.  Someone.  She’s as filthy a pervert as the guys showing up at the little 14 year old girl’s house.


Unless, of course, some of those guys showing up for the little girl aren’t filthy perverts but truly emotionally crippled and confused men who are desperately trying to get caught doing something stupid (even though they don’t know they’re trying to get caught) in order to shock themselves back to reality.  If you’ve ever seen an addict careening toward rock bottom you know exactly the behavior I’m describing.  Trapped, aware of it, and unable to do anything about it they partake in increasingly risky behavior until either injury or arrest makes the problem public and they have no choice but to get help.  Sometimes they skip injury and go straight to death.


Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.


Listening to them talk (a couple were ministerial staff, one a med student, another a father of 2 teen girls) and they were saying “I’m going to lose everything, this is so stupid, why did I do it”.  Granted, a few were simply sick freaks and filthy perverts and predators trying to get with little girls.  Lock them up, throw away the key, get to know your new cell mate, etcetera.  But what of the emotionally confused, bipolar, hot teacher types who know it’s wrong and even as they’re approaching that line continue to know it’s wrong, and feel the wrongness even as they’re crossing that next line and simply have no internal mechanism to prevent them from falling into that abyss, and pray for the cops, or their wife, or their friends to finally stop them.


Are they addicts?  I don’t know.  Are they sick?  Maybe.  Are they permanently broken?  I don’t know.  But should they be treated like bona-fide predators?  Is there a difference between a manipulative predator and a simple pervert?  Is the guy who organizes the Tijuana Donkey Show (another 1500 hits) more of a freak than the guy who sees “Tijuana Donkey Show” and thinks to himself, “Hm, I’ve heard of these sick exhibitions, let me see if it’s really true”?  [Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Don’t Google it if you’re kids are around.  Let me just say it involves a donkey and a girl, and she’s not riding the donkey.]   I don’t know if it’s fair to lump a father of 2 teens or a pre-med student or minister or hot teacher into the same category as a John Wayne Gasey or [Insert Name of Other Famous Predator Here].  Is the pervert simply a predator in training?  Is the proverbial bucket of cold water provided by the national cameras and cops enough to snap the mere pervert back to reality while the actual predator who seeks and hunts for his little prey too far gone to be rehabbed?  Is there a way to separate the two without sacrificing our children?


Granted, if I catch you touching my little boy’s little boy I’m probably going to come close to cutting your little boy off (unless you’re a hot teacher, then there’s a high 5 and maybe I’ll get your phone number).


Like I said, there’s a lot of social commentary to be made about this.  Lots.  Maybe there’s no rehab for these freaks.  Maybe the best rehab for these guys who legitimately did something stupid and who weren’t actually predators is to get caught, get your face on national TV, and suddenly have that thing installed (by your cellmate, maybe) that allows you to say “no, you’re too young sweetheart” or at the very least “call me back in 3 years”.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

OK, waiters...

First, a running update:

Come October 1 I’m going to begin really training for either the full or half marathon.  Earlier if the kid starts to sleep better.


Now for my (near) daily rant.


I just read an article about some waiter advocacy group that’s pushing to make restaurants add an automatic gratuity of 20% for service.  For big groups, I understand that.  The combination of the increased level of work that goes into serving a big group and the complete lack of math skills when more than 2 people attempt to work fractions means that if left up to the diners the tip would either be too small or ridiculously large.  To protect the waiters and the diners slap an autograt on the ticket.


But if me and my wife are going out to eat and the restaurant tells me that the ticket for my dinner for 2 will be automatically bumped by 20%, I’ll turn around and walk right out.


Not because I’m stingy, mind you.  I like to pop a good tip to a good waiter and I’ll even request that waiter the next time.


But I’ve had to call the restaurant that I’m sitting in and request the waiter come and bring me some water (or my check, or my food) far too many times to even fathom automatically tipping crappy service. 


“Hi, Bennigans.  I’m looking for someone who works there.  He’s a waiter.  About 5’10”, blonde hair, kind of young.  I never got his name.”

“Yea, that’s Ray.”

“Have you seen him in the last 30 minutes?”

“Sure.  He’s working right now.”

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s working.  If you look to your right a little you can see me.  I’m at one of his tables and I haven’t seen him in at least 30 minutes.  Tell him I’m leaving in 30 seconds whether he brings that check out or not.”


Yes.  That was an actual phone call to the greeters at the Bennigans on Kirby at US 59 a few years ago.  No, Ray didn’t get a tip.


“Um, yes.  This steak is raw and I ordered it an hour ago.  In an hour ya’ll should have been able to cook a steak medium well.”

That was Steak and Ale on Mangum at 290.  No, that waitress didn’t get a tip and that manager bought my dinner.  I even told them that the last time we were there we had the pleasure of being served 2 glasses of water in 20 minutes before seeing the waitress.  The only reason we hung out for 20 minutes is because we were talking for 15 minutes before we realized nobody had come to take our order, then wanted to see how much longer it would take for someone to finally come over and work.  5 minutes later Teri stopped by our table and informed us that she’d be our waitress.  I told her that the opportunity for that to happen passed 15 minutes ago and we left.  I wasn’t rude, we didn’t make a scene.  We just got up, thanked her for finally stopping by, and left.  We ate at Chili’s and gave the waiter a big fat tip because he was a GOOD WAITER.


Yes, if you’re a crappy waiter I’m going to stiff you.  If you’re really crappy your manager is going to find out about it.  If you’re really really crappy you two will buy me dinner.


You’re a waiter.  You work largely for tips, or at least you should work for tips; they shouldn’t come for free.  That’s what’s known as earning your pay.  You wouldn’t expect a fat, gnarly stripper to get auto-tipped, would you?  No (unless you’re in to that sort of thing).  Do a bad job, get bad tip.  Do your job adequately, get the average 15 – 20% tip.  Do a good job, get a good tip.  I bet that waitress who got the 10k tip the other day didn’t bring out cold food or let water glasses get empty—and I bet they didn’t autograt the tickets, either. 


Do a bad job enough times, consider getting another job.  That’s why I quit waiting tables.  Don’t sweat it.  Some of us just aren’t cut out to be waiters.  Lack of tips can be great motivation to either get better at what you do or study hard and get a better job. 


Crappy jobs tend to have that motivating effect.  1 summer of working in a lumber yard was enough motivation for my little brother to get his college degree and a job with air conditioning.  I think when my son gets old enough daddy will get him a job at a construction site one August.


Of course, the natural flip side to this is don’t stiff good service, you rotten cheap skates.  Take care of your waiters.  There aren’t enough good waiters out there for you to be stiffing them.  We don’t want the good waiters to quit.  We want the good ones to hang around and give up that dream of being an actor/actress.  Take care of the good ones.  Love them.  Buy them toys and houses and cars and such.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Try this one for size

Ok, awhile back the boss and I received an invitation to tour a “New Lakeside Community Project on Beautiful Lake Livingston!”

Cool.  Thanks.  Whatever.  We’ll go, but we won’t buy, gimme my free gift.

I don’t remember what the gift was.  I think it was an overnight at some hotel which we probably used.

That isn’t the important part.


This is the important part.


The guy was pitching us on the property and explaining that there were only so many lots and only so many lakes and in a few years my parents’ generation would be retiring in huge numbers and snatching up the best of these properties and driving up all of the prices. 

I nodded politely and followed his logic.

He continued to explain that I could purchase the property now—today!—and hold on to it for 5 or 10 years and then sell it at 10 times the value I bought it at.  “10 times?”, I asked.  “Well, at a significant increase in value” he replies.  “If you say so” I say.  He continues to make his pitch and goes on to explain that in addition to the property blah blah blah…  I ceased to pay attention and he apparently noticed because he stopped short and swapped out with his boss—the closer—who then upped the pressure on my lovely wife and me.

Since I’m an accountant I was crunching the numbers as he was providing them and was able to explain that a 10% interest rate was stupid and he stammered because nobody he had encountered seemed able to calculate payments and interest.


But even that isn’t the really good part.


When the closer was at the end of my patience I asked him in the most inquisitive tone I could muster “Any idea what’s going to happen in 30 years?”  Of course he told me he had no idea because truthfully none of us really know what’s going to happen.  I continued “Neither do I, really, but I know my parents aren’t getting any younger and for the most part there are more baby boomers than there are of the rest of us.  How many of them do you think are going to own their fancy retirement beach and lake homes in 30 or 40 years when they’re 85 and 95 years old?”




“I’ll see you in 30 years when I’m retiring.  You better have some sweet deals.  Now where’s my free hotel stay.”

It's called adultery

So, here’s the situation:


They’re a married couple who get in an argument.  What’s the argument over?  Doesn’t matter, this is hypothetical.  He wants something, she doesn’t.  He respects her enough not to just go out and get it without her consent, but he’s not mature enough to wait for delayed gratification.  Instead of letting it go and saving, he picks up the phone and complains to his grand parents who have excess cash on hand and are always more than willing to take his side since they never really liked her anyway.  2 days pass and the new bauble has arrived in their driveway with a big red bow on top. 


What harm has been done?  They didn’t spend a dime so she’s happy.  He got his toy, so he’s happy.  Why are they still fighting?


It’s because he committed the cardinal sin of a marriage—adultery.


Instead of respecting his marital vows he chose to let the grand parents come between him and his wife.  He knew what the outcome of that phone call would be otherwise he never would have picked up the phone.  He broke his vows and committed adultery.  He wanted something, his wife refused it, he sought release elsewhere rather than working it out or simply being mature and dealing with delayed gratification.  Baby wanted his toy now and the adulterous grandparents were more than willing to accommodate.


That’s adultery.

Convince me I’m wrong.


(Betcha never thought of adultery in that way, didja?)


Monday, September 11, 2006

Professor Fry's voice

I’m a big Futurama fan.  If you haven’t seen it, you should you nattering moron!  (If you’ve seen the show, you get that as a joke.)


Anyway, anytime I read any sciencey stuff and it becomes either a little obtuse or silly, Professor Fry’s voice breaks out in my head and begins to read the blather for me.  It cracks me up.  You should try it sometimes.  It makes all kinds of subjects perfectly understandable and funny.


Oh yea, I think I might run the marathon in January.  I have not yet talked myself out of it and I feel that competitive urge bubbling up inside me.

Oh, to remember

I admit it.  I’m getting sick of the retrospectives and commemoratives on TV.  You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one of those.  All day on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, A&E, every network, all of the news broadcasts, and every newspaper in town (and out of town, yes, I know there’s only 1 authoritative news source in Houston).


There’s remembering, then there’s obsessing.

Yes, the attacks on September 11, 2001 (the Manhattan Raids as the enemy would call them) were a big deal.  Yes, everything changed.  Some changes for the good and many long overdue.  Some for the bad and forces are still working to correct those errors.

But I won’t be participating in even a moment of silence.  I won’t be interrupting my life to mourn the dead.

Personally, I believe that to be an insult to the dead, and if the dead insist on me stopping my life to mourn them I consider that an insult to the living.

The best way to commemorate the people who were cut down by the enemy is to live—live in the face of terror and flaunt your fearlessness.  I will eat a hamburger, with cheese, with bacon, and fries today.  I will drink a Coca-Cola.  I will watch The Simpsons that I taped yesterday.  I will go to the observation deck of the tallest tower in Houston and not be afraid.  I will do what I do, and there’s not a damn thing any terrorist can do that will stop me from doing that.

Fuck you, Osama.  I’m going to live.  If you don’t like it, come over here and stop me.

Don’t forget.  Never forget.  But work to a better tomorrow.  Live life and share that, even at the business end of a gun, bomb, or plane.  If they’ll hate while in the cross hairs, then you love while in the cross hairs.

That’s how we win.


And speaking of doing what I do, the Astros as still hanging on by a thread in the wild card race.

There’s a big 3 game series with the Cardinals coming up.  That’ll put this season mercifully out of its misery and let us all get on with our lives so we can stop fooling ourselves that this is a playoff team.  It’s not.  They’re not exactly bad, but they’re streaky and erratic.  Oh yea, they’re under .500, and they’ll probably end the season under .500.  I guess by most definitions that’s pretty bad.  Sure glad we got Roger back for half of a season.  Too bad he can’t hit.

My remedy for next season:  dump everyone who hit under .250.  “But that’s 5 of their 8 hitters.”  Yup.  So?  Dump ‘em.  Bring up some rookies.  Pick up some bats.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Wal-mart and Social Security

Ok, I’m annoyed.

I’m an accountant in real life so when people talk about money and retirement and savings and stuff my ears perk up.  Why?  Because most people who talk about money and retirement and savings and stuff—even those who get paid for it—don’t know squat about money and retirement and savings and stuff.  What they know is numbers and bank accounts. 

As an example, a “good financial advisor” might tell you that if you can borrow $50,000 at 2% and earn 5%, you should borrow the money and invest it to take the 3% profit and pay off the loan incrementally.  The math says that’s a good plan.  A really good financial advisor will tell you to not only fire that guy but to kick him in the nuts as well because not only are you not guaranteed a 5% return, you’re not guaranteed a 2% cost either.  Also, the $50,000 will look an awful lot like $40,000 once you’re done spending the first $10,000 off the top (don’t lie, you’ll do it…  $50,000 in the bank looks an awful lot like at least 1 vacation, a new car, and a rainy day fund) and even if you do get a 5% return all of that 3% of “profit” will go towards paying down the debt, and then some.  A really good financial advisor will tell you to spend less than you earn and put away $125 each month so that at the end of the year you’ll have $1500 (3% of 50k) PLUS INTEREST that’s working for you, not CitiBank, because you know CitiBank will be taking that money and investing it for real returns and laughing at you.  There’s a reason CitiBank lives in a giant glass tower and you live in a refrigerator box.


So that brings me to Wal-Mart and Social Security.  I just read a little screed about some lady who’s 75 with 2 surgically replaced knees and HAS to work at Wal-Mart to make ends meet.  She’s a 15 year employee who’s probably going to die there greeting people at the door.  That’s unfortunate, but it’s not the tragedy.

Over the last 15 years she didn’t save a dime.  She probably didn’t make enough to save much, such is the life of a shift worker at WalMart.  That’s not even the real tragedy, though.

The tragedy is that she was counting on Social Security and Medicare to take care of things in her sunset years because she’s paid her dues all her life.  The tragedy is that Social Security is not and cannot take of her even though she expected it to (wrongly, but that’s another discussion), and it promised that it would (also wrongly, but again-another discussion).  The even greater tragedy is that people like me who are planning on not getting one red cent from the government (because people like me know that the government can neither be relied upon nor should be relied upon) are going to be getting a social security check at the expense of taking care of people like her who truly need the government to step in and make sure she doesn’t have to die in a Wal-Mart.  People like me are going to drain the system getting cute little checks that will fund a dinner out or two each month while people like her who absolutely need these checks in order to make sure they eat at all will be working at Wal-Mart for the rest of her life.

Aside from the fact that companies like Wal-Mart job the system and pay too little for too long and screw all of us into paying too much in hidden costs for cheap goods and services (hidden costs like social security in lieu of a real pension or living wages and medicare instead of insurance) and that prop up evil empires like communist China, the fact people are being given blank checks and told “the government will take care of you” even though everybody and their dog knows that the government cannot and will not do it even though it’s going to promise to keep giving people like me who don’t need the money cute little checks and make grandma eat alpo for the duration of their lives is an absolute god awful tragedy of Homeric proportions!!!!



(Blue Bell ice cream theme song… blue bell…  blue bell…  best ice cream in the country…)


Anyway, when I read sob stories about people having to live the rest of their retired lives in near poverty while working on knees that have been reconstructed, my hackles get raised.  It’s not enough that they live their entire lives not making enough to save money (people who simply choose to be lazy and not save, I have a different lack of sympathy for you), but when they finally reach their retirement years that should be spent relaxing they discover that the retirement insurance—their Social “Security”—is no retirement at all.  It’s not even enough to starve on.  Meanwhile, the guy down the street who did save and is drawing a pension is getting the same benefit.  While you’re starving and working yourself literally to death, those with plenty are getting paid even more.  For no other reason at all, that is the absolute best reason for reform of the social security system.  I don’t care if I get a check.  I’m already resigned to the fact that I won’t be getting anything from the SSA.  However, now is the time to act to ensure that there is something there for those who really do need to get something—and only those who need assistance will receive it.


Happy labor day.