Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Movie Skip - Hollywoodland



Despite a 3-star rating (on Comcast), this movie was a *miss*. I feel disappointed because I watched the entire thing in hopes it would improve. Don't waste your time on this overrated film.

My wife luckily fell asleep 10 minutes in. This morning I informed her it stunk:

Mrs. C-Nut - What'd you expect? The odds of getting two good movies in a row nowadays are zero!

She's right. But actually it would have been three - as both Body of Lies and Into The Valley Of Elah were decent!

So the next ten I see are guaranteed to stink...



BTW, George Reeves (above) was no relation to Christopher Reeve - who played Superman in the 80s. Note their different last names.

And that reminds me of a great joke I wielded at the bar, on the golf course, and in the trading pit amongst my low-life peers back in 1999:

Why didn't Superman save JFK Jr. (whose plane crashed)?

C'mon. Give the guy a break he's in a wheelchair!

Try To Contain Your Laughter



From Boston Globe article:

House Bill Gives Superintendents More Power To Fire Teachers

The Massachusetts House of Representatives appears poised to consider an overhaul of the state’s most troubled schools next week, as members take up a bill that could represent a major setback for teachers unions.

The proposed bill would give superintendents extraordinary powers to ignore teacher contract provisions in firing teachers for good cause at underperforming schools.

It would also allow superintendents to impose changes in workplace rules, such as extending the school day, at those schools if negotiations break down, key House leaders said in a telephone briefing yesterday.

The state’s teachers unions have been aggressively lobbying the Legislature for inclusion of an appeals process, concerned that superintendents might make decisions based on politics, rather than merit.

Hah!

Too bad we didn't get a direct quote in there. But even the insinuation that *unions* are decrying the elevation of *politics* over *merit* is absolutely hilarious.

While some unions may seem to be making out these days, I submit that overall they'll be gradually losing perks and power for the foreseeable future - as the pols who gladly take their money grapple with economic realities.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Grey Hair - Harbinger Of Death!



It's funny. A basic Google image search of grey hair turns up prominent pics of: Richard Gere, Taylor Hicks, and Jennifer Aniston. So I guess *celebrities* in this day and age DEFINE grey hair or something.

Though I've seen some glimmer on my head for a couple years now, I've always been able to blame *the light* - until now that is. Just this past week I've admitted to myself that my hair is in fact greying.

I know I really shouldn't complain. I'm 35 for crying out loud; some of my age-peers are not only fully grey, they are bald!

But still, the grey hairs will challenge my otherwise *youthful* physical appearance. Grey looks sort of funny on a baby-face, no? It was like back when I was a drunken twenty-something year-old. All that Yuengling Lager gave me an unsightly, massive gut - which looked downright ridiculous on a skinny kid. (Throw in a massive golf/farmer's tan....and I was anything but the beach adonis that I am now!)

This article on the *science* of greying asserts that it has nothing at all to do with stress. And it concludes philosophically:

Embrace Your Individuality

English humorist and author P.G. Wodehouse concluded that the guillotine is the only cure for gray hair. Religious texts, on the other hand, consider the loss of pigmentation as "the beauty of the aged." At the very least, the first sign of white specks can be taken as affirmation that you are aging normally.

Hah!

As if between the varicose veins, creaking bones, diminished energy, Friday nights spent in bed(!), warts, a blackened toe nail, the infomercials, and the terrifying similarities between me and my 'old coot' father....as if in addition to ALL THAT, I needed affirmation that I was *aging normally*!!!

Transitory Coolness

Here's a potential windfall for the NYPD and other New Yorkers who get molested by *lost*, ESL tourists all day, everyday:



Pretty cool!

BUT, some of this stuff is mere coolness in search of a practical, in-demand, profitable application. Consider:



When I see hype like this I'm reminded of someone I know who, ten years ago, in the euphoria of the NASDAQ bubble, raised money to make a Palm Pilot *app* that would hook up users with local restaurants (reviews, reservations, etc.).

And here we are a decade hence, long after his venture blew up, and this ingenius idea STILL hasn't fully arrived.

Or I'm reminded of one of my old bosses who went hogwild for *internet telephony* at the same, extremely premature time.

It's a lesson of history that today's *cool*...



...quickly becomes tomorrow's bore:



Though Fonzie was just before my time....his coolness was way beyond my ken.

So you kids are will be really lost on this analogy.

Anti-Aging Work



My wife is *off* all this week so I am enjoying some more solitary time. And since it's 14 degrees outside AND wind-chilling below zero....I've no plans to go anywhere.

I'm just sitting here blogging, and acquainting myself with today's Top-40, on YouTube, on my secondary monitor.

You know, you can hear a song on the radio - like that new *New York* song - umpteen times before discovering its name ("Empire State Of Mind") or even who sings it (Jay-Z & Alicia Keys). For this, and all other matters....Google's rather helpful.

And I now see that YouTube has some new channel up showing high-def videos. VEVO is apparently a partnership with Universal Music Group.

It's hard for me to keep up with all the goings on in the music biz - never mind who's climbing the charts(!) - but according to that article, many of the major record labels have successfully pulled their videos from YouTube (save UMG). But I have noticed that MANY of the YouTube videos I've linked on my prolific blog have been *pulled*. Furthermore, I've even had the *audio* tracks pulled from some of my personal videos (example).

Now there's probably a very easy way to *mask* copyrighted tunes on a YouTube clip so that their search algorithms can't find us *thieves*. But who has the time?

On that note, with all the copyright jostling online (where the lawyers must be cleaning up!), I've asked tons of young kids if they *buy* their MP3s....and I haven't recieved an affirmative response yet.

They get them all *online* or from friends. My niece told me that even directly on iTunes there's a loophole through which one can *instant message* a song over to someone else.

The Bounty Of Salvage

Check out this score - disinterred from my MIL's library:



That's right, a 1954 edition printing one of his early books, first published I believe in 1927.

Check out the price in the upper left corner - a whopping 50 cents! [I had mistakenly thought every thing back then was *a nickel*...]

Fifty-five years later it's on Amazon for $8.00.

So what's that? 5.17% in compound annual inflation? (Check my math you Captious wannabes!)

And within the book was also this *artifact*:



So 55 years ago a yearly, discounted, subscription to SI could be had for a whopping $4!

The best deal I can find today, in 2009, is a year of the worthless magazine for $39.

Obviously, Will Durant's work has appreciated more (16x) over the past 5.5 decades than Sports Illustrated (9.75x)!

The Story of Philosophy was Durant's first book, and since he labored for another 40-50 years, I highly doubt it represents his best work. But still, I believe *philosophy* was in fact Will's wheelhouse. So I look forward to perusing it at my leisure. Recall I've read The Story of Civilization in its entirety - an accomplishment West Coast Tom says I can now append to my resumé!

Here's a Durant quote from his Foundation's website which I may or may not have already reproduced on this blog:

It is a mistake to think that the past is dead. Nothing that has ever happened is quite without influence at this moment. The present is merely the past rolled up and concentrated in this second of time. You, too, are your past; often your face is your autobiography; you are what you are because of what you have been; because of your heredity stretching back into forgotten generations; because of every element of environment that has affected you, every man or woman that has met you, every book that you have read, every experience that you have had; all these are accumulated in your memory, your body, your character, your soul. So with a city, a country, and a race; it is its past, and cannot be understood without it.

Perhaps the cause of our contemporary pessimism is our tendency to view history as a turbulent stream of conflicts - between individuals in economic life, between groups in politics, between creeds in religion, between states in war. This is the more dramatic side of history; it captures the eye of the historian and the interest of the reader. But if we turn from that Mississippi of strife, hot with hate and dark with blood, to look upon the banks of the stream, we find quieter but more inspiring scenes: women rearing children, men building homes, peasants drawing food from the soil, artisans making the conveniences of life, statesmen sometimes organizing peace instead of war, teachers forming savages into citizens, musicians taming our hearts with harmony and rhythm, scientists patiently accumulating knowledge, philosophers groping for truth, saints suggesting the wisdom of love. History has been too often a picture of the bloody stream. The history of civilization is a record of what happened on the banks.

I could never recommend Will Durant enough. The man had more of an effect on my intellectual development than the rest of my *educators* combined!

For my master Durant link - click here.

Enough With The TOYS



Not to pick on the Marines, but these ridiculous *toys for tots* drives are everywhere each Christmas. Yeah, my wife donated a few items this year to one at the mall - if for no reason other than to rid ourselves of unused or age-inappropriate toys we have laying around.

BUT I'm dead against this form of charity. Kids, especially so-called under-privileged ones, DO NOT NEED TOYS.

They might need parents, educational help, and the humane lessons of liberty but they certainly aren't suffering for a lack of *toys*.

Why don't we scrap the food stamps while we're at it too. When was the last time you even saw a *thin* poor person in America - no less a starving one???

If one truly wants to do something for a kid in the hood, they ought to donate their time in lieu of a frivolous, material token.

Go help them with their (yuck!) government school homework; volunteer for Big Brother/Big Sisters. I don't really know as I'm by no means an expert in the charity field. But I'm right sure that toys do nothing beyond burnishing the self-image of the donor, and conditioning the recipients to put keep their hands out.

Funny story. I did partake in some Christmas donation at my church. I had to buy a *boy's shirt, size 14* for some allegedly impoverished kid. So I went into a local sporting goods store and grabbed the first Red Sox t-shirt I saw - a David Ortiz one for $20.

Some store clerk there looked with askance at my selection - EVEN AFTER I explained that it was for some poor kid in Roxbuy. I did have an inkling what she was driving at, that Ortiz has just had an *off-year*, that after several gangbuster years and two World Series rings....that Ortiz was now *out*. She wanted me to instead buy a *Dustin Pedroia* jersey. But for a kid in Roxbury, Massachusetts???

For those of you unaware, Roxbury is the HOOD! I sincerely doubt anyone there is a big fan of that 5'9" weenie, whitey shortstop!

How many times have I told y'all that Red Sox fans, like this clueless clerk, are complete Morons? (See this old post.)

Cracking Myself Up

Remember this, from prior post - Gratuitous Eco-Evangelism:



???

Well I've finally gotten around to setting up my own email signature/footer:

Print at will - Please THINK before you consider the environment.

Which reminds me, I do need to order some more toner cartridges...

The Kid Economy



This week, our 5 year old son is attending *Lego Camp*. It was $144 for four 3-hour classes during *factory school* vacation week.

Yeah, the instructors are *professionals*, and they are allegedly teaching the kids a little *engineering*, but I have no illusions about what this is - babysitting with toys.

Except this one is not so expensive. Others, like our local *munchin soccer* I believe work out to $16 per 45 minutes PER KID. Why exactly would I spend effectively $21.33 PER HOUR, PER KID(!) to have someone chase my 3.50 and 5.08 year olds around with a ball? Obviously, being only 45 minutes long, I'd have to hang around and thus wouldn't even get some *babysitting* out of the deal. Given these economics, I'll play soccer with my own in the backyard, thanks.

I asked the Lego camp guys yesterday about their business and they promptly gave me a flyer. They do regular afterschool classes, summer camps, birthday parties, etc. I'm sure it's quite the decent little business - when they don't have to pay too much for facilities, when they don't have to travel too far, and most of all, when they can be paid in tax-advantaged CASH.

What I've discovered over the past few years of parenthood, is that there's a whole bunch of quasi-entrepreneurs out there making a good living off the *kid economy*.

Last year we hired a *Star Wars* guy for my son's 4th birthday party and it cost nearly $300 for him to stay an hour or so, dress up like a Jedi knight, simulate light saber fights, and make a few balloon sculptures (of Yoda and whatnot). He was indeed good but obviously a little overpriced. He told me he did, on average, five such events per week!

I'm also aware of a *Reptile Guy* who does parties in our area; as well as a woman who makes a boatload doing *Princess Parties* all over the Boston area. And my SIL (sister-in-law) told me her town in Connecticut has a *Critter Lady* that they all use for parties.

I remember as a kid, we were just excited to GO to someone's house; we'd play ball or wrestle; and we were positively euphoric just to get a slice of homemade (boxed) cake with frosting on it.

Nowadays, my kids always leave parties with *goodie bags* (gender-coded ones to boot!) that are often larger than the gifts.

People today, especially in the tony little towns, do indeed spend a lot of money on their children - probably nearly half as much as they do on their pets!

All Hail Rice Balls



Or, as they're called in Italian *arancini*.

Those are my MIL's from this past Christmas. With kitchen help from two subsequent generations, she made about 80 last week.

Essentially, they are just balls of risotto, rolled in bread crumbs, that are deep fried.

There are embellishments within, of course: cheese, meat, maybe some peas, etc.

Outside of her house, I've only seen them once before - at a pizza shop on Court Street in Brooklyn. These things, when properly done, taste so great I just don't understand why they aren't more prevalent.

Having never made them for myself (yet!), I don't have a good recipe to pass on. So google sufficiently before choosing one to try. The bit of meat in the middle is probably important. I've seen some recipes with prosciutto, though my MIL uses pork; and here's one that looks like it uses sausage.

If you don't feel like trying to make them, then just find and goad some old-school Italian grandmother to do so for you. These food wackos are always looking for tiny excuse to spend a few (more) hours in the kitchen!

Movie Rec - Into The Valley Of Elah

This was an excellent, well-done flick:



And it was good in spite of a real *knucklehead*, politicized thesis! I imagine that the constituents and veterans of Big Military weren't too pleased with Into The Valley Of Elah.

[Personally, I didn't *get* the title. It seems to have no relevance to the storyline.]

Monday, December 28, 2009

Movie Rec - Body Of Lies



I found it to be a better than average flick.

And I was quite surprised that, given its cast and the overall Hollywood climate, that it didn't have some *knucklehead* political angle to it.

IMDB gives it 7.2 out of 10 possible stars.

The Bounty Of Solitude



The day after Christmas, at the last minute I decided to take the train from my MIL's house on Long Island into Manhattan - as I excitedly do whenever I get the chance.

Only this time, it wasn't one of my customary 10-hour eating and drinking binges.

No instead I went by myself, even deliberately bookless on the 46 minute train ride. I spent the travel time doing what I always do on this most scenic commute - inhaling the natural beauty of Long Island, of the Sound, and the unnatural beauty of Flushing Meadow, Shea Stadium Citi Field Taxpayer Field, Queens' homes near the tracks, etc.; I generally like to ruminate upon the dizzying variety of New York's economy; and I always, ALWAYS, spend this fascinating ride arguing with myself on whether or not we should move back to the energized NY area. In fact, recently the argument has been getting pretty intense - though this isn't the post for that discussion.

I got off at Penn Station with my umbrella and started walking. I went north through Times Square - and then cut over to Radio City. You see, there's a falafel/gyro truck there that's out-of-this-world. I delightfully consumed my lunch there in the cold drizzle amidst a bevy of very aggressive pigeons.

I found cover, whipped out my Droid phone and googled for the nearest subway station. But then I changed my mind and decided to hoof it all the way up to my destination on 82nd St - the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was a bit of a self-conscious risk for me, walking so much knowing that I'd be on my feet for hours as well at the marble-floored Museum, given the limitations of my broken back.

Now I hadn't been to the Met since I was maybe 11 or so. My aunt and uncle from Brooklyn used to take us there where I'd be bored and exhausted out of my puerile mind. In fact I probably haven't been to a museum OF ANY KIND since I was in government middle school. I was SO SCARRED from those tortuous experiences that curiosity never had a chance at getting me back to one.

Obviously, I've changed a lot over the past 2 decades; notably I've become a real buff history buff. Halfway through reading Will Durant's tomes, the wheels started spinning in my head and I became very interested in *the arts*. I came to see what I should have been taught way back when - that painting, architecture, sculpture, etc., indeed WERE HISTORY; prior generations didn't have the visual delights of television and photography that we take for granted. The lumpen masses (and potentates) looked to art for inspiration and entertainment. I realized that for me to ignore the portraits, murals, and handcrafts of yore, that would be analogous to future historians trying to study present-day without considering our television shows, movies, YouTube, etc.

Alright enough on my personal intellectual journey. I fully blame *government schools* for turning me against the fine arts - just as others can rightfully blame schools for turning them off math, creativity, or any number of other tragically mishandled subjects.

I must have just beat the crowd at the Museum, because after wandering in the exhibits for a few hours, the lobby had become a complete zoo. The coat-checks were full and a security guard told me that this was *about as busy as it can get*. My solitary chi was then interrupted by a buddy who called at the last minute and wanted to meet up for drink on the West Side.

Like a clueless tourist, I figured that I could just *cut straight across* the park. Apparently the paths aren't so perpendicular. I got disoriented and almost completely lost in the middle before finding my bearings. It was pouring now and the only person I came across was some dude with a huge $9,000 camera or something focused up on the sky - or so I thought. He was actually photographing a large bird high atop a tree. I inquired as to what kind of bird it was, twice in fact before the grumpy invert lisped that it was a *hawk*. Whatever. Guy is probably trying to land some cool pic, blow it up, and sell it to some other loft-decorating invert in Manhattan for $1,000 or so.

Though my shoes and pant legs were now soaked, it was awesome to walk through and see the park completely deserted for the first time. Just as I find empty rainy golf courses sublime....I bet if I lived in NYC I'd also run to Central Park everytime the weather got dicey enough to scare off the riff raff.

The pics here, and above, are from my $200(!) camera, it of 2004 vintage:



When I finally did meet up with my buddy, he promptly tried to break my stones, "You went to the Museum all day....what, are you turning into some metrosexual or something?"

First of all, that's not what a metrosexual is. Secondly, he was wearing a beret or something!

See what I mean about him *interrupting my solitary chi*?

But it had been a fabulous, relaxing, and intellectually stimulating day.

Fantasies do, or at least SHOULD, evolve over time. No longer do I think about the Boston Celtics winning it all, making a jillion dollars, shooting 8 under par, or that recurring pair of ample-bosomed Asian girls anymore when I close my eyes. Nowadays I'm quite content with a slice of alone time and a mouthwatering gyro - all the better if they can be had in a fascinating place like Manhattan.

I've never really needed an iPod, a book, or a social companion. It'd be impossible for me to ever bore myself. I'm just far too fascinating!

See also - Observations From a NYC Pop-In.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Education Techno-Deflation



From their website:

The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere.

We have 1000+ videos on YouTube covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology and finance which have been recorded by Salman Khan.

I just watched this one video:



And while I'm still not convinced of the superiority of *lattice multiplication*, it's obvious the gentleman is a decent, articulate teacher. And, the price is right! (For another demonstration of this guy's ability check out a lecture on a more conventional subject, say Negative Exponents.)

Time and again I hear young parents, on the subject of them possibly homeschooling, exclaim, "Well, I can't teach (fill in the blank)..."

But due to the wonders of modern technology, they really don't have to! All they have to do is demonstrate their alleged intelligence by being resourceful.

Of course, despite his lucidity, it mustn't be forgotten that Mr. Khan is operating within the confines of traditional, curricular schooling and its profound flaws. Consider that I just found this comment:



...on one of the PRE-ALGEBRA videos I just previewed.

I submit that any *system* that has COLLEGES teaching pre-algebra ought to be scrapped entirely!

There are indeed *more effective* ways to teach nonsense to captive students....but that still doesn't mean the overall educational goals are optimal.

The 5.08 year old Prince C-Nut is about to begin a semi-formal study of pre-algebra himself - and for a millisecond I thought about perhaps cuing up Khan's 20 video playlist on the subject for him.

BUT, that'd deprive me of the sheer pleasure I get from teaching my favorite subject to my precious son. So forget about it.

Much thanks to reader Brian for calling the Kahn Academy to my attention.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joining A Club That Can *Afford Me*



Of course there's a huge wasteland of struggling and bankrupt golf clubs down South and out West...

But the pain is starting to hit the old courses in the Northeast, ones that weren't pure products of the housing boom.

Above is Hatherly Country Club, a course maybe 35 miles south of Boston.

2.5 years ago, before moving to the South Shore, I called up and inquired about membership - just for kicks. I recall hearing *waitlist* and *5 years* from the condescending 'old bag' who answered the phone.

BUT recently I heard that Hatherly decided to open its membership doors, and that they started dialing names on their waitlist. EXCEPT, apparently, they called everybody on the list....and EVERYBODY said *no thanks*! (No confirm on this; so it's complete hearsay.)



Then, just the other day down here on Long Island, I heard that North Hempstead, a private club just east of Queens had dropped it's membership price to *ZERO*!

Obviously, they're settling for people just paying dues - which, by the way, seem steep at $12,000 per year plus a couple grand more on food. (Again, no confirm on any of this.)

Note that this area of Long Island is considered *Wall Street* territory.

I predict that some of these clubs up here will soon fall into financial death spirals, much in the manner of these bankrupt municipalities. They'll hit members with assessments; which will cause more dues-payers to leave; and their departure will only aggravate the books.

But at least municipalities can declare (or threaten to declare) bankruptcy and raise taxes....bloated country clubs have no such recourse.

Golf in the Northeast, with our short days, wet weather, and 7 month seasons has never been much of a value proposition. For 12k a year, one could plan 3 or 4 lengthy golf trips, say one to Ireland, one to Arizona, and one to Florida or Myrtle beach. After all, these clubs are so expensive that you have to WORK a bunch just to be able to afford them. So when are you going to even play?

(BTW, the title is a re-jiggered Groucho Marx quote.)

Christmas - Commercial Comments



For those of you unaware, Bananagrams is the hottest new game out there today. It's a much better version of Scrabble because it obviates Scrabble's biggest weaknesses: a stale board, the luck of double and triple word squares, the tedium of being stuck with bad tiles, and the agony of waiting one's turn.

I made my wife buy it for me, and the homeschooled kids. Though admittedly it's currently a bit advanced for them.

The only downside to Bananagrams is, well, its history. Some knucklehead *invented* this simple little game amd is reaping millions!

Nathanson, who sank $50,000 of his own money into launching the game, attributes its runaway success to four factors: the catchy name, clever packaging, how much fun it is to play, and the family history behind it. Rena Nathanson, Abe’s daughter, who has been instrumental both in refining the game and bringing it to market, adds a fifth and sixth: modest cost (about $15 ) and portability.

"The price is magic," Nathanson agrees. "It’s a game that practically sells itself, which is why it makes no sense to discount it. That’s a stupid, greedy American mindset I don’t agree with."

Discounting = greedy???

Like I said, he's a KNUCKLEHEAD!



At the bookstore the other day, I purchased Drawing With Children - a book I had seen highly recommended in a homeschooling magazine.

I've only read the first 15 pages or so of it, but so far I'm VERY IMPRESSED.

Flashback....here's what I sensed and wrote about *drawing* in - Art From My Butt:

One thing that appeals to me about these *lessons* is that teaching kids to draw is progressive - not at all unlike going from the alphabet to composition or from finger counting to combinations and permutations. They really just need to learn the building blocks, practice a bit, and accept nudges from sagacious adults.

Reading the opening of this book only confirmed my hunch. Drawing IS progressive; there are fundamential building blocks; it cultivates creativity; etc.

Check out the reviews on Amazon if you're interested.

Essentially, I've quickly come to see art as one of the many essential subjects abused by government schools and the like (i.e. most private schools). So it's surely going to be paramount in our homeschooling going forward.

What We'd All Like To Do!


The following *forward* is supposedly straight from a Craigslist post:

To the Guy Who Tried to Mug Me in Downtown Savannah night before last.

Date: 2009-05-27, 1 :43 a.m. E.S.T.

I was the guy wearing the black Burberry jacket that you demanded that I hand over, shortly after you pulled the knife on me and my girlfriend, threatening our lives. You also asked for my girlfriend's purse and earrings. I can only hope that you somehow come across this rather important message.

First, I'd like to apologize for your embarrassment; I didn't expect you to actually crap in your pants when I drew my pistol after you took my jacket.. The even ing was not that cold, and I was wearing the jacket for a reason.. My girlfriend had just bought me that Kimber Model 1911 .45 ACP pistol for my birthday, and we had picked up a shoulder holster for it that very evening. Obviously you agree that it is a very intimidating weapon when pointed at your head ... isn't it?!

I know it probably wasn't fun walking back to wherever you'd come from with that brown sludge in your pants. I'm sure it was even worse walking bare-footed since I made you leave your shoes, cell phone, and wallet with me. [That prevented you from calling or running to your buddies to come help mug us again].

After I called your mother or "Momma" as you had her listed in your cell, I explained the entire episode of what you'd done. Then I went and filled up my gas tank as well as those of four other people in the gas station, -- on your credit card. The guy with the big motor home took 150 gallons and was extremely grateful!

I gave your shoes to a homeless guy outside Vinnie Van Go Go's, along with all the cash in your wallet. [That made his day!]

I then threw your wallet into the big pink "pimp mobile" that was parked at the curb .... after I broke the windshield and side window and keyed the entire driver's side of the car.

Later, I called a bunch of phone sex numbers from your cell phone. Ma Bell just now shut down the line, although I only used the phone for a little over a day now, so what 's going on with that? Earlier, I managed to get in two threatening phone calls to the DA's office and one to the FBI, while mentioning President Obama as my possible target.

The FBI guy seemed really intense and we had a nice long chat (I guess while he traced your number etc.).

;In a way, perhaps I should apologize for not killing you ... but I feel this type of retribution is a far more appropriate punishment for your threatened crime. I wish you well as you try to sort through some of these rather immediate pressing issues, and can only hope that you have the opportunity to reflect upon, and perhaps reconsider, the career path you've chosen to pursue in life. Remember, next time you might not be so lucky.Have a good day!

Thoughtfully yours,
Alex

Obviously, this is of dubious veracity - but that shouldn't smother your laughter, nor does it make it different from just about everything else we read!

Thanks to the Private Caller clan for this one.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Invisalign



My teeth weren't that bad as a kid, but I had enough of a *buck* to necessitate braces.

After they came off, the orthodontist gave me a *retainer* that I was supposed to wear while I slept. I did so for a bit, then I stopped. You see, I went to college, where there were broads, and sleeping with the thing gave me dragon breath.

Now, some 17 years since I scrapped the thing, I've noticed that one of my bottom teeth is trying to *wander*, even if ever so slightly.

All I had to do was casually broach the subject in my dentist's office and before you know it, the hygienist was pushed aside by her boss. He came at me hard with a sales pitch for Invisalign - some orthodontic appliance I'd never heard of. Hmmmm....I wondered why dentists were now infringing on orthodontist territory. By the way, did y'all know that dentists are licensed to inject Botox? They fought hard for the privilege; anything for an additional buck - I guess.

Of course, I'm a profoundly curious person. I listened intently and interjected MY questions. Most importantly, I wanted to know about COST, and I asked THREE TIMES.

But the unctuous dentist kept beating around the bush mumbling stuff about *insurance*, how it would be *cheaper to be preemptive*, etc., as if money was merely a detail. Finally I screamed at him:

CaptiousNut - If I was paying cash, how much would it cost me.

Dentist - ....insurance....have to get an estimate...[blah, blah, blah]

CaptiousNut - WOULD IT BE $200 or $20,000???!!!

Dentist - You mean you just want me to *ballpark* it for you?

CaptiousNut - YES!

Dentist - Anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000.

Okay. Thanks. How hard was that, you slimy Moron?

And it was at that very moment that my eyes noticed the jagged, summer teeth of HIS lower jaw!

(*summer teeth* = some are here, some are there)

I really can't stand it when amateurs, be they car salesmen, cab drivers, Craigslist consumers, or dentists, try to play bidding and offering games with me, a savvy professional.

The guy wouldn't give me a price, not because pricing is *too complicated*; no, he was shifty because he was trying to measure me up, calculating how high could he charge!

THAT is why he ran in there to check my teeth personally, for the first time in the last 4 visits.

Do any of y'all know anything about Invisalign or its competitors?

I just assume they work for ten years....and then the teeth start wandering anew.

Regular People = Blog Material



So early today yesterday I braved 8 degree weather to be first in line for a oil change before my drive down to New York. There I met an interesting fellow.

First, he was trying to secure a *low price* with the mechanic for some front-end work.

Dude - The thing I'm concerned most about is the price, it being the holiday season and all...

Say what?

How are we supposed to interpret this? That he spent all his disposable income on Christmas presents or something?

I'll bet he did.

Does Christmas really qualify as a *financial tragedy*?

I asked my wife if we spent *$100* on each kid this year.

Mrs. C-Nut - No (bleepin') way!

More? No, a whole lot less. They get plenty of junk from others as far as we are concerned. They scarcely even know who Santa is for that matter.

But I remember as a child, some 25-30 years ago, that I believe my parents spent $100 on me and each of my three siblings. So proportionately, and judged for inflation, my working class parents wasted considerably more money each December.

I just don't get why parents extend themselves so much for mostly junk - toys that'll mostly be long-since-forgotten by next year. Christmas IS NOT a secular, commercial holiday - or at least not in its origins.

Okay, moving on...

This dude also told me about his *thrill seeking*.

He said he climbs Mt. Washington 16 times a year....and skis down it! (For those of you unaware, it's a small but nasty peak in New Hampshire - featuring some of the strongest winds on the planet, extremely variable weather, etc.)

And he also said he surfs, but only in really tumultuous weather, in the tail-end of nor'easters and hurricanes or something.

Dude - (leaning over, unblinking, and with his fist clenched) I've just got to get the adrenaline going....Because of my job (law enforcement), I can't do drugs....and when nothing's going on I have to do other things like *cheat on my wife*...

[quick pause]

Dude - Just kidding (without even so much as a smirk).

Egging him on, I didn't blink or react either:

CaptiousNut - Yeah, and you can't just go to Quincy and get a washy-washy....no....you have to, like, sneak out while your wife is in the shower and tag your next-door neighbor.

Dude - YEAH, TOTALLY!

Anyone else want to buy *puts* on his marriage?

Build-A-Moron

The following video is from Build-A-Bear's website, a teddy bear company. Skip to the 1:00 minute mark:



Now it's bad enough that people have transformed Christmas into a completely secular holiday.

But it's even worse to dilute it into agitprop!

There's plenty more discussion here.

Thanks a bunch to Kfell for this one.

See also - Earth Day Agitprop Versus Me = No Contest.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Green Santa

Saw these two *toys* at REI today - one of those stores for crunchy, Cambridge, Massachusetts trust-funders:





Hah! My son already knows about *renewable wind power*....I usually make him pull my finger.

If these eco-pagan gifts are a little too advanced for your target, then allow me to recommend that $60 Thomas The Tank recycling center.

BTW, I've resolved to devastate planet Earth; yesterday, I went out and bought everyone left on my list a digital picture frame!

[Not for anything....but that *wind power* toy was an ingenious invention. Probably won't take much for government school science departments to all add it to their core curricula!]

The Manifest Stupidity of *Professional Educators*



Here's a NYT article that speaks volumes about how UNEDUCATED government school *educators* are. My comments are in RED:

Studying Young Minds, and How to Teach Them

BUFFALO — Many 4-year-olds cannot count up to their own age when they arrive at preschool, and those at the Stanley M. Makowski Early Childhood Center are hardly prodigies. Most live in this city’s poorer districts and begin their academic life well behind the curve.

But there they were on a recent Wednesday morning, three months into the school year, counting up to seven and higher, even doing some elementary addition and subtraction. At recess, one boy, Joshua, used a pointer to illustrate a math concept known as cardinality, by completing place settings on a whiteboard.

"You just put one plate there, and one there, and one here," he explained, stepping aside as two other students ambled by, one wearing a pair of clown pants as a headscarf. "That’s it. See?"

For much of the last century, educators and many scientists believed that children could not learn math at all before the age of five, that their brains simply were not ready.
[COULD NOT LEARN MATH BEFORE 5???]

But recent research has turned that assumption on its head — that, and a host of other conventional wisdom about geometry, reading, language and self-control in class. The findings, mostly from a branch of research called cognitive neuroscience, are helping to clarify when young brains are best able to grasp fundamental concepts. [SO AFTER STANDARDS HAVE FALLEN INTO AN ABYSS....ALL OF A SUDDEN *RESEARCHERS* DISCOVER THAT YOUNGSTERS CAN LEARN THE BASICS??? ARE THEY AN ADMITTING AN *OVERSHOOT* OF THE DUMBING DOWN POLICY?]

In one recent study, for instance, researchers found that most entering preschoolers could perform rudimentary division, by distributing candies among two or three play animals. In another, scientists found that the brain’s ability to link letter combinations with sounds may not be fully developed until age 11 — much later than many have assumed.

The teaching of basic academic skills, until now largely the realm of tradition and
guesswork [SAYS WHO?!], is giving way to approaches based on cognitive science. In several cities, including Boston, Washington and Nashville, schools have been experimenting with new curriculums [CURRICULA!] to improve math skills in preschoolers. In others, teachers have used techniques developed by brain scientists to help children overcome dyslexia.

And schools in about a dozen states have begun to use a program intended to accelerate the development of young students’ frontal lobes, improving self-control in class.

"Teaching is an ancient craft, and yet we really have had no idea how it affected the developing brain," said Kurt Fischer, director of the Mind, Brain and Education program at Harvard. "Well, that is beginning to change, and for the first time we are seeing the fields of brain science and education work together."
[THIS IS COMPLETE BS!]

This relationship is new and still awkward, experts say, and there is more hyperbole than evidence surrounding many "brain-based" commercial products on the market. But there are others, like an early math program taught in Buffalo schools, that have a track record. If these and similar efforts find traction in schools, experts say, they could transform teaching from the bottom up — giving the ancient craft a modern scientific compass.

Beyond Counting

In a typical preschool class, children do very little math.
[I KNOW!] They may practice counting, and occasionally look at books about numbers, but that is about it. Many classes devote mere minutes a day to math instruction or no time at all, recent studies have found — far less than most children can handle, and not nearly enough to prepare those who, deprived of math-related games at home, quickly fall behind in kindergarten. [TO SAY THAT *FALLING BEHIND* IN MATH IS DISASTROUS IS TO SAY NOTHING AT ALL. OF COURSE IT IS! IT'S LIKE SAYING THOSE WHO FALL OFF A CLIFF HAVE TROUBLE REACHING THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN. MATH IS PROGRESSIVE; EACH SUCCESSIVE STEP CAN ONLY BE TAKEN ON THE FIRM FOOTING OF THE PRECEDING CONCEPT. THIS IS WHY KIDS NEED INDIVIDUALLY PACED COURSES OF STUDY; IT IS PRECISELY THE KUMON APPROACH. NO ONE MOVES ON, NO MATTER THEIR AGE, UNTIL MASTERING THE CURRENT CONCEPT.]

"Once that happens, it can be very hard to catch up," said Julie Sarama, a researcher in the graduate school of education at the University at Buffalo who, with her colleague and husband, Doug Clements, a professor in the same department, developed a program called Building Blocks to enrich early math education.

"They decide they’re no good at math — ‘I’m not a math person,’ they say — and pretty soon the school agrees, the parents agree," Dr. Clements said.

"Everyone agrees."

In a Building Blocks classroom, numbers are in artwork, on computer games and in lessons, sharing equal time with letters. Like "Sesame Street," Building Blocks has children play creative counting games; but it also focuses on other number skills, including cardinality (how many objects are in a set) and one-to-one correspondence (matching groups of objects, like cups and saucers). Teachers can tailor the Building Block lesson to a student’s individual ability.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon at the Makowski center, Buffalo’s Public School 99, Pat Andzel asked her preschool class a question:

"How many did you count?"

She had drilled them on the number seven. She held up a sign with "7" and asked her students what number they saw ("seven!"); had the group jump seven times, counting; then had them touch their nose seven times. As the class finished counting seven objects on a poster, she asked again:

"How many?"

"I never used to ask that," Ms. Andzel said in an interview after the lesson.
[SHE NEVER USED TO ASK THAT? THEN SHE OBVIOUSLY HAS ZERO TEACHING APTITUDE....AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN CANNED.] She asks it all the time now, she said, because it drives home a subtle but crucial idea: that the last number they said in counting is the quantity; it is the answer. [SUBTLE IDEA??? ONLY TO ACADEMIC MORONS, AND ONLY TO THE OVER-NUANCED NYT!]

"Many of these kids don’t understand that yet," she said.

The curriculum includes a variety of math-based lessons and activities, as well as software programs, all drawing on findings from cognitive science. When it comes to understanding numbers, for example, recent research suggests that infants can distinguish one object from two, and two from three.

By preschool, the brain can handle larger numbers and is struggling to link three crucial concepts: physical quantities (seven marbles, seven inches) with abstract digit symbols ("7"), with the corresponding number words ("seven"). Lessons like the one Ms. Andzel taught are meant to fuse this numeric trinity, which is crucial for understanding basic math in kindergarten.

Children begin recognizing geometric shapes as early as 18 months, studies find; by preschool, the brain can begin to grasp informal geometric definitions.
[THANK GOD FOR THOSE ILLUMINATING *STUDIES*!]

It can when taught properly, that is. Many books use a pizza slice to illustrate a triangle, for example, even though slices are rounded at one end. Once a child has fused the word triangle with a specific shape (triangle = pizza slice), it is hard to break that association later on. [IS THIS REALLY A SERIOUS ARTICLE?]

"The definition," Dr. Clements said, "is a three-angled shape. Period." Building Blocks teaches this definition, illustrating it with triangles skinny and fat, squat and tall. [DEMONSTRATING WHY HE HAS A PHD!]

In all, this curriculum and others link numbers to objects, to rhythms, to the chairs and plates around a table — to the physical world.

"If children have games and activities that demonstrate the relationship between numbers, then quantity becomes a physical experience," said Sharon Griffin, a psychologist at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., who found in a series of careful studies that a curriculum she devised, called Number Worlds, raised the scores of children who lagged in math. "Counting, by contrast, is very abstract."
[*CAREFUL STUDIES* ARE NEEDED BY RESEARCHERS TO DISCOVER THAT MATH IS BEST TAUGHT WITH REAL WORLD APPLICATION? THESE IDIOTS! THE REAL WORLD INVENTED MATH!]


In a study published last year, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University reported that playing what seems a simple childhood game, similar to Chutes and Ladders (sometimes called Snakes and Slides), accelerates the understanding of numbers for low-income preschoolers. [WHO PAID FOR THIS MOMENTOUS STUDY?]

"Being told 8 is 2 times 4 is one thing," said Robert S. Siegler, a psychologist who is one of the authors. "It’s another to see that it’s twice as far to the number 8, and that it takes twice as long to get there." [ACTUALLY, IT'S BEST TO DEMONSTRATE 8 AS 2x4 AND 4x2 ARRAYS OF OBJECTS - I USE PENNIES. AND I DIDN'T NEED NO STINKIN' PHD TO FIGURE THAT, MORE OPTIMAL METHOD, OUT!]

The Number Instinct

"Use your eyes like cameras," said Lara Lazo, one of the teachers at P.S. 99, after the midmorning break. "Get ready to take a snapshot."

The children bracketed their eyes with their hands, making "cameras," and Ms. Lazo showed them a paper plate with three dots on it — then quickly covered the plate.

"What number did you see?"

A cacophony of "threes" and "fours" erupted.

"O.K.," she said. "Let’s try it again."

The lesson is intended to teach a skill called subitizing. "The idea," Dr. Sarama said, "is to get them to recognize quantity — to say, ‘I see three’ — not by counting, but by instantly recognizing how many are there by sight."
[ANOTHER PROFOUND INSIGHT FROM A USELESS PHD MORON!]

A crude "number instinct" is hard-wired into the anatomy of the brain, recent research has found. Mammals can quickly recognize differences in quantity, choosing the tree or bush with the most fruit. Human beings, even if they live in remote cultures with no formal math education, have a general grasp of quantities as well, anthropologists have found. [ANTHROPOLOGISTS, PSYCHOLOGISTS, BRAIN RESEARCHERS,...]

In a series of recent imaging studies, scientists have discovered that a sliver of the parietal cortex, on the surface of the brain about an inch above the ears, is particularly active when the brain judges quantity. In this area, called the intraparietal sulcus, clusters of neurons are sensitive to the sight of specific quantities, research suggests. Some fire vigorously at the sight of five objects, for instance, less so at the sight of four or six, and not at all at two or nine. Others are most active in response to one, two, three, and so on.

When engaged in a lesson or exercise, these regions actively communicate with areas of the frontal lobe, where planning and critical thinking are centered.

"This is what we believe focused math education does: It sharpens the firing of these quantity neurons," said Stanislas Dehaene, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Coll├Ęge de France in Paris and author of the books "The Number Sense" and "Reading and the Brain." The firing of the number neurons becomes increasingly more selective to single quantities, he said; and these cells apparently begin to communicate with neurons across the brain in language areas, connecting precise quantities to words: "two," "ten," "five."
[AND COGNITIVE
NEUROSCIENTISTS - WHATEVER THE HECK THOSE QUACKS ARE!]


A similar honing process is thought to occur when young children begin to link letter shapes and their associated sounds. Cells in the visual cortex wired to recognize shapes specialize in recognizing letters; these cells communicate with
neurons in the auditory cortex as the letters are associated with sounds.

The process may take longer to develop than many assume. A study published in March by neuroscientists at Maastricht University in the Netherlands suggested that the brain does not fully fuse letters and sounds until about age 11.
[TOTAL EFFIN' BS! PLEASE EXCUSE MY DICTION - THOUGH I CHALLENGE ANYONE TO FIND A MORE APT CHARACTERIZATION. KIDS CAN READ BY AGE 4!]

"As these kinds of findings come in, they will have implications not only for teaching, but also education policy," said Daniel Ansari, an assistant professor in developmental cognitive neuroscience at Western Ontario University. [THESE ARE THE MORONS SETTING POLICY*!]

Explaining Five

In math, there is no faking it. Children either know that five is more than three, or they do not. Either they can put number symbols in exactly the right order, or they cannot. In their studies, Dr. Clements and Dr. Sarama test children one on one and
videotape the results for comparisons.

Over the past four years, the couple has tested Building Blocks in more than 400 classrooms in Buffalo, Boston and Nashville, comparing the progress of children in the program with that of peers in classes offering another math curriculum or none at all. On tests of addition, subtraction and number recognition after one school year, children who had the program scored in the 76th percentile on average, and those who did not scored in the 50th percentile.

By the end of kindergarten, a year after the program has ended, those who had had it sustained their gains, scoring in the 71st percentile, on average.

Many hurdles remain for this and similar curriculums based in cognitive science, experts say. Schools may move away from the curriculum; teachers move around, as do students; and in later grades there is always the risk that children who have mastered basic math will not get the attention they need to advance even further.

But for now at least, education based on brain science has helped hundreds of Buffalo children refine their native abilities in math. In one videotaped exam, a 4-year-old boy in a FUBU jersey and long dreadlocks who entered P.S. 99 in 2006 was unable to count or match cards with 3, 5, 2, 1 and 4 on them to cards with equivalent numbers of grapes.
[AND ONE 4-YEAR-OLD BOY IN MY HOUSE FINISHED 5th GRADE MATH...]

In a video of his post-Building Blocks exam, six months later, he instantly says there are 10 pennies placed in front of him, without counting. He easily matches the number cards to their corresponding grape cards — and puts the mixed-up numerals in the correct order. [SIX FULL MONTHS FOR THIS?]

"What’s the biggest, nine or seven or five?" asks the teacher giving the exam.

The boy thinks for a moment. "Nine," he says. "Five is the littlest." Then he holds one palm above the other and says: "Five is like this. See?"

"Do you see what he’s doing?" Dr. Clements said, interrupting the video. "Right there. He wants to explain. He wants to explain five."
[A 4-YEAR-OLD EXPLAINING 'FIVE'....THAT MERITS TRUMPETING?]




That was today's 8:30pm *math quiz* for the 5.08 year old Prince C-Nut. Click to enlarge.

And if they gave me those disadvantaged, urban kids....I'd have them counting and computing in no time flat as well. These so-called experts and their methods are profoundly worthless!

Monday, December 21, 2009

While The Others Were In School, Learning Nothing...



We were in fact the only ones there sledding today at 1pm.

It was quite fun, except for a frightful beginning.

The park is on the border of Weymouth and Hingham in Massachusetts.

And....it's a *dog park*.

While we were heading in, we had to walk a few hundred yards to get to the hill. A woman was descending with her sloshing dog. I couldn't see what it was, but it was definitely all fired up. As it got closer, it picked up speed and headed right for us. My son, the 5.08 year-old Prince, was languishing about 30 yards behind me. As the dog sprinted past me and my daughter, I could see that it was a pit bull type or something.

I hollered at the lady, "Is that a pit bull?" and she didn't answer. She called the dog faintly and yelled, "It won't do anything" as it accelerated, full-speed straight for my son.

It went past all 35 lbs of my son, then turned around and buzzed right next to him three more times. My heart was racing and I tried to calmly ask the woman to get her dog away. She did next to nothing except say "he won't do anything", yet again. Finally, as eternity mercifully came to pass, she and her dog had made it beyond my waddling son.

Then she screamed, "Yes, it is a pit bull! THIS IS A DOG PARK!!!"

But what the eff did I do?

I was too relieved at the ordeal being over to process the fact that she was a complete POS and deserved some sort of retribution for her callousness.

Yeah, it was a *dog park*, but still, the signs say they have to be leashed and scooped - subject to a $200 fine. "Should I have called the cops for the second time this month?", I wondered.

I relayed this episode later this afternoon to some guy, a crazed libertarian type.

He strongly recommended that in this world I....always carry a gun.

I'm not too crazy about that idea, but his point is not to be taken lightly. Only a genuine Moron would depend on government agents to protect themself.

BTW, the sledding was quite fun!

Though tomorrow we're heading somewhere else.

Realize that this is at least the third such incident I've had with my kids and Deranged Dog People at parks. And I believe I had additional one at a beach.

There are only three things on this overheated planet that I'm afraid of:

  • The ocean, some aspects of it anyway.
  • North Philadelphia, on the first warm spring day.
  • And pit bulls.


Click here for my *dog people* link.

A Comical Retort

...To the tragedy of scoffing mind robots!



Obviously, this might only be funny to some of us.

The Precious Gift Of Sanctimony



One of my wife's *train acquaintances* asked her if she had any ideas on what he could get his wife for Christmas.

From the seat of her pants, Mrs. C-Nut's suggested a digital picture frame...

Dude - I could never do that because our daughter would give us too much flak for constantly using electricity.

Of course it's easy to mock this feeble-minded, Moronic young lady (and even perhaps her invertebrate father!)...

But really we should pity her!

This anecdote reminded me of a couple others.

One, of my buddy whose neighbor is *against* gas-powered lawnmowers. (Can't find my previous post on it.) Instead, I believe he uses one of those old-fangled *push mowers*.

And two, those knuckleheads that worry about how much electricity cell phone chargers burn.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowy Sunday Scat



As the title implies, it's a book about a dog who not only made *bubbles in the bath*....it flatulated *morning, noon, and night*. The kids didn't mind their pet's gas so much but the parents were distraught. They took it to the doctor, changed its diet, etc....all to no avail.

Walter got the blame for everybody else's farts too. If Uncle Irv let one slip, he just went and stood near Walter.

Then all he had to say was, "Walter!"

And everyone would look at poor Walter.

I forget how it ended but my wife and I were blown away by the CHILDREN'S BOOK as she read it aloud to our little ones.

The kids? They didn't laugh even once on the first read. They sat there intensely focused on the storyline.

Let the record show that we expected nothing less (more?) of a gift from their puerile, scat-obsessed uncle!

See the label above - One freakin' million copies sold! Who among us couldn't have written this story?



Several months ago, my son *released* at the dinner table and cracked himself up but good.

His mother was livid and excoriated him.

I played along with Mrs. C-Nut's propriety and sternly deadpanned, "Prince, what do we say when..."

His laughter paused, he contemplated for a second and answered,

PrinceC-Nut - "We say 'GOOD ONE'!"

(He's right, that's our stock response - when Mom's working anyway.)

A Coach To Watch?

I meant to comment on this one last week:



As the story says, Temple's college basketball team recently upset #3 ranked Villanova.

So why is this blogworthy?

Well, Temple is now coached by Fran Dunphy, a man whom I watched coach my alma mater, UPenn, for years. As far as I could tell, Dunphy was a coaching genius. I continually marveled at what he did there, competition-wise, with some real scrubs. (Though he did have a couple guys get some run in the NBA in Jerome Allen and Matt Maloney).

But the rest of Penn's rosters were constituted of nobodies - nobodies who for years played over their heads. In my calculus, it just had to be the coach.

Three years ago, Fran Dunphy left Penn for cross-town (sports) rival Temple - a school not hampered with *Ivy League academic standards*. Obviously, Dunphy was going to get a chance to work with a significantly deeper talent pool. At the time I predicted he'd flourish.

One game certainly does not a career make, no less a season. But I'll be keeping a occasional eye on Fran's Temple Owls, their record anyway; and won't be the least surprised if he makes a real name for himself there.

Penn has a somewhat of a storied coaching history. NBA coaches Dick Harter and Chuck Daly both did stints there, at the Palestra.



One of Dunphy's *scrubs* was a light-skinned, cocky-a$$, pogo-stick by the name of Donald Moxley.

The guy ended up a starter, albeit only late in his career, and even hit a game-winning shot in a Big Five game at the Spectrum if memory serves me.

Nevertheless, even more prominently, he starred in the capstone of MY basketball playing career. Let's just say that the gap between his self-image and his ability was cavernous. And these types, LONG before my first blog post, were always in my sights!

So during one pickup game, he flew through the lane right past two tall trees,...did some dipsy-doodle, double-clutch....I came out of nowhere and rejected his weak poop not only off the entire court, but I sent it so far down a long hallway that we had to send an Asian kid down to fetch the ball!!! Everyone was ooohing and ahhhing. Quietly he muttered something about it being a *good block*.

Luckily one of my buddies was there and witnessed me schooling one of Dunphy's guys....otherwise there'd be NO WAY any of the scoffers would have believed me.

See also - Obsessions Of Yore.

Warring With The Weather



Due to my strict abstinence of all things Big Media....it wasn't until noon yesterday that I even became aware of a forecasted blizzard that was, allegedly, only four hours from commencement!

On the first, third-hand alert I heard *18 inches* of snow.

When I got home, I turned on the color TV....the forecast for my region had dropped to *12-15 inches*....and it was supposed to start by 4pm.

But at 8:00, when we made my milk, bread, and eggs run to the supermarket (on the way to yet another holiday party!), there wasn't a flake in sight. I checked the forecast again: *4-8 inches....starting after midnight*.

Hah! Alarmism run amok yet again. My cynical thesis was still batting 1.000. How could they have the start of a snowstorm off by 8 freakin' hours, especially when it was only supposedly 4 hours away! And, only 4-8 inches now?

At precisely 11:18pm last night, the first flake fell on my head. And I was looking forward to merely a leisurely snow removal job in morning.

Unfortunately, the storm did hit with a vengeance last night. It's hard to tell exactly how much snow we've got, but it's definitely over a foot - with some ginormous wind-blown drifts. What stinks is that it's not supposed to even stop until noon (so they say). There's so much wind (25 mph gusts), and it's so cold (-4 degrees with the windchill) that I can't even really go out yet and take a bite out of my 6-7 hour snow shoveling job.

Between the meteorologists being, well as far as I'm concerned, wrong all day long, my premature scoffing, and then the eventual nasty blizzard....I feel like I've been whip-sawed - whipped good like I used to get with those massive short gamma (short volatilty) positions in the option trading pit!

[Sure, you theoretically collected twenty grand in weekend decay....but then on a volatile Monday, you bought 10,000 delta up 4 points(!) and sold 10,000 delta down 4 points(!). Where's that decay again?]

Cooking a greasy breakfast, then heading outside. Kids are presently wading through the 2 foot drifts on the deck; it's so cold, they won't last 15 minutes.

Cheesy Escapism

My wife beat me to bed last night and commandeered the remote.

I have to admit, long after she fell asleep I watched the star-studded, broad-flick she put on:



It was actually kind of well-done for what it was - either that or I had too much to drink last night.

I almost never in my life consume cheese such as this. I'm definitely feeling pretty exhausted these days AND it's not from too much reading, blogging, or homeschooling - as I've been taking it easy on all fronts lately.

No, it's this tedious holiday socialization: family, friends, cookies, and alcohol out the wazoo!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

People, As Higher Authorities



Let me just say that I have been blown away with all the positive feedback from my *rodent* posts. People keep emailing me left and right expressing their compliments and enthusiasm for these recent blog episodes. More pics! More pics! More pics!....that's all I hear. Someone's even hellbent on my filming a mouse in a *glue-trap death struggle. "Pull the trap down as soon as you get a 'nibble'...," is what she says over, and over again. Personally, I'm afraid of getting bitten! Not to mention, I'm trying to economical and snag a few per trap.

Anyways, today I came across a passage in a book I'm reading that, well, sort of addresses these deranged rodent sadists:

Insull's Chicago was a rough place. Before the war a college student from Indiana named David Lilienthal described his experience on a visit in 1917: he came across a crowd surrounding a puddle, and stuck his head among others to see "what these busy-men-of-the-world were watching with such evident enjoyment." It was "but a tiny mouse, swimming about in a pool." Lilienthal was disgusted to see that "whenever he would struggle to a place of safety - someone would stick out his mahogany cane and throw the poor quivering thing back to his death. When this would happen," Lilienthal noted, "some portly comfortable looking son-of-a-gun would shift his cigar and chuckle." The young man commented on the Chicagoans in his diary: "And such creatures expect mercy for themselves from some higher authority, as they are to mice!"

What a college weenie, huh?

I think it may have in fact been one of his descendants who turned me in ratted me out!

See the latest episode, and a link to preceding ones - here.

YouTube Jackpot

Check this out - a semi-animated short of Montevideo, Uruguay being invaded by gigantic robots:



Guy spent a mere $300 making the clip...

And less than month after posting on YouTube landed himself a $30 million movie contract!

Just this afternoon my son, the 5.08 year old Prince, had asked me if we could *make movies*.

"Of course we could," I told him, "We have the cameras and the basic video editing software..."

Then, not long thereafter, someone told me about Ataque de Pánico...

Now my answer is, "YES WE CAN MAKE MOVIES....FORGET ALL THAT MATH CRAP....LET'S GET CRACKING!"

$30 freakin' million bucks???!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Craziness....Already Begun



My brother flew in tonight from L'viv, Ukraine. He's been there for two years now (maybe less, who can remember?).

And he brought with him one of our distant relatives. A 49 year-old man who is, after some tedious calculation, most easily described as my mother's third cousin (we think). He doesn't speak any English and it's his first trip ever to America....so he's pretty excited about his 11 day visit.

(To bad I live in Boston, otherwise I could show him some decent food, decent fun, decent weather, decent people, etc.)

Anyways, it suffices to say that I'm pretty busy at the moment - and will be for the next 1.5 weeks. So the blog is going to suffer a bit. Sorry.

Tonight's low in Boston is forecast to be *9 degrees* - the coldest it's been thus far since last winter.

When the Ukrainian visitors got off the plane today....they actually thought it was warm here!