Monday, November 30, 2009

Mice Body Count - 9

Looks grosser than it was - because I left it out on my deck and it rained.

I think I've killed 9 total mice now plus one rat.

I've decided to leave my ceiling *open* and just continue killing them.

Because, well, it's sort of fun!

Pest guy said there could easily be 100 there so...

I just know that if I seal the holes up those critters will make tons of noise and drive me crazy. At least with the holes and the traps I can fight back!

Advertising What?

I had to rewind the television, twice,...then I got out of bed and grabbed my camera for this shot:

I guess it's good to know that SpeeDee is not only *king* or whatever of the oil change....but they apparently also know how to get one's headlights beaming brightly!

I wonder if they really do use ice cubes for this cinematic effect...

Nobody Really Likes Turkey

Or pumpkin pie, or pecan pie.

I've tried over and over to explain that to Mrs. C-Nut but she remains firmly entrenched in projective denial.

If human beings actually LIKED Thanksgiving'd be manifest in the free market.

How often do you see turkey or pumpkin pie on a restaurant menu?

Answer - NEVER.

Even the statistics on non-Thanksgiving turkey consumption are likely distorted.

Twice this (late) fall I've heard of people going to dinner at an 'old coot's' house and being served *turkey*.

You know what that was, don't you?

That was the frozen bird the 'old bag' bought last November, on sale for 29 cents a pound or something the week after the holiday.

They figured they had to get rid of it in the nick of time before Thanksgiving - and so they could load up on yet another cheap frozen carcass!

I myself refuse to eat turkey even on this ridiculous holiday for amateur, once-a-year *grates*.

And I advised both acquaintances that they should get even with their 'old bag' relatives.

Next year, invite THEM over for dinner the weekend right before Thanksgiving and serve THEM turkey.

Foreclosure Confirmed!

This morning, as I was doing my calisthenics in the living room, I saw a car pull up in front of my house.

A rather large, unfeminine, shabbily dressed young lady got out and took a few quick pics of the front of our (rented) house. Then she jumped right back into her car.

I sent my wife out for a hello/interrogation - even though I had a pretty lucid inkling as to what it was all about.

The woman confirmed that she was hired by GMAC, and that this house was *under foreclosure*.

Unfortunately she couldn't offer any insight about *when* the house would go to auction, i.e. when we'd have to leave.

My understanding is that according to Massachusetts state law, we can stay for 60 days AFTER the house is sold at auction. So we may have a while yet, or not.

Either way, my wife and I have decided that tomorrow's rent will probably be the last we pay (minus the bill for pest control). Remember, our crumb landlord has $5,000 of our money still - or he HAD it and illegally co-mingled it with his other assets/losses.

Note that since GMAC is a bailed-out entity....I'm essentially living in government housing!

I wonder how my buddy Josh Weintraub is doing over there anyway?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dump Diving Score

My wife just came back from the transfer station....from the dump with two boxes of Magna-Tiles. That's a $100 paper profit!

Incredibly, she said she was JUST thinking about buying a set for our kids.

What are the odds that someone would toss them at this very moment?

With my luck running this high, I should probably buy one of those wage-slave lottery tickets...

Book Rec - The Healing Heart

This book I just finished is unlike anything else I've read in quite some time.

It's about *storytelling*; about people who go into struggling schools, pediatric cancer wards, and whatnot and narrate original or time-tested stories in an effort to soothe and heal.

I have to admit, the whole concept seemed somewhat ridiculous to my facts-and-non-fiction-all-day-long mind.

But the book is the work of David Albert - a homeschooling guru whose other books really grabbed me.

Here's a sample, an old Indian tale from page 109:

On the outskirts of a village a holy man slept against a gnarled tree. As the sun rose over the forest, a man from the village ran to the sleeping man and shook him awake.

"The gem, the gem, where is the gem? I had a dream in which Lord Shiva told me to find a holy man at the edge of the forest who had a gem that would keep me wealthy for the rest of my days."

The holy man reached into his bag and produced a diamond the size of a coconut. "I suppose you mean this?" he said. "I found it on the path."

The villager took the diamond and ran back to his home. There he paced and paced through the day and all that night. Early the next morning the villager was back at the gnarled tree.

"Please," he asked the holy man, placing the gem at his feet, "share with me the wealth that allows you to give away this gem so easily."

Think about that for a second. Reread it.

It's a pretty provocative little tale, no?

Here's the storytelling propaganda:

First, oral tradition has a millennia-old history. Parents and elders used to hand down their heritage, mythology, and wisdom to subsequent generations, who in turn did likewise. It's only the recent flukes of mass media and divided families that have suspended this universal human practice.

Second, stories have the advantage of being indirect. They can penetrate the most obtuse Morons, you know, those psychopathically allergic to all *facts* and *logic* fired in their direction.

And lastly, Jesus spoke and taught almost entirely in parables. Case closed!

Is this a great book?

No, not by any stretch.

But for me, and where I'm at intellectually at the moment, this book was terrific.

Earlier this year I vowed to branch out and give *writing fiction* a whirl. I figure that I've already got the whole blogging skill mastered, so why not? Though not much in the way of progress can be reported, yet, I do have a large notebook of ideas dedicated to that end. The Healing Heart gave me much needed insight for this new endeavor of mine.

I've also decided to make narration and storytelling large components of my homeschooling *curriculum*. I am reading to my kids every day now - before just Mrs. C-Nut did. I've made a point to start telling them more tales of my youth, of their grandparents, etc. There are a multitude of reasons why I'm doing this....but y'all will have to wait until I gain some clarity on the subject before I elaborate.

Other David Albert posts:

Decent Homeschooling Resource - David H. Albert

Yet Another Homeschooling Book

Blast From The Inane Past

Back in 1986, unlike today, eco-pagans were but a cute little cult.

I just found out the other day that a movie from back then, namely Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home was about *saving Earth by saving the whales*!

The plot summary:

It's the 23rd Century, and a mysterious alien power is threatening Earth by evaporating the oceans and destroying the atmosphere...

A space probe appears over 23rd century earth, emanating strange sounds towards the planet, and apparently waiting for something. As time goes on, the probe starts to cause major storms on earth and threaten its destruction. James T. Kirk and crew are called upon once again to save mankind. They discover the strange sound is actually the call of the humpback whale - which has been hunted to extinction. They have only one choice - to attempt to time travel back into the 20th century, locate a whale, and bring it back to 23rd century earth to reply to the probe.

It'd be hard to conceive a more ridiculous premise!

So how are we going to have to wait for the eco-Morons to shrink back to cult-size?

Implied Volatility = Too Low

Last week, on Tuesday or Wednesday, I took at look at the options of old friend FAZ - the triple financial short ETF.

The underlying was around 19.50 and the the Jan 20 calls were offered at 2.15 I believe.

I scratched my head in disbelief. What was I missing?

Yeah, a long Thanksgiving week of decay was imminent; and yeah January was a short expiration month (the 15th) but still....what was my risk here?

Two stinkin' dollars!

I was just about to buy a few handfuls of them but, alas, I did not.

Then on Friday they closed at 3.10.

And there's still a VERY LONG 47 days until expiry!

Get yourselves some options while they're cheap.

Risks Of Marrying Down


Is it wrong to laugh your tail off at Tiger's *situation*?

The rumors on Friday were that he was confronted by his wife for an indiscretion, she scratched him up, he threw a fit, and went out and crashed his car.

Can you say "John Daly"?

Why is this funny?

Because Tiger, a man soon to be worth a billion smackeroos, went out like a total Moron and married a freakin' stereotype - a blonde, Swedish au pair/nanny!

An extraordinary guy like him has to either:

1) Not get hitched so soon.

2) Or make darn sure one doesn't choose unwisely.

The list of people throughout history who've safely navigated the marital waters of *extreme wealth* probably very short.

And man, does she look terrible above or what?

Marginalizing Cheese

Every five years or so I let my wife choose a movie.

Last night she went with:

...and I watched it without even pulling out my book!

Though it was approximately terrible - she didn't even cry.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Movie Rec - The Changeling

The movie was OK. It's definitely not a good one for the *moms* of small children - not late at night anyway. My wife was ballin'!

The plot was kind of stupid and a bit on the ridiculous side. But somehow the film overcame that handicap and turned out watchable.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What Else Would You Expect?

It's hard to keep track of just how much money they are *printing* these days:

  • For Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bondholders.
  • For automakers.
  • For state governments.
  • To keep entitlements from dipping.
  • Billions in backstops for Citigroup, AIG, BAC, etc.
  • Never ending unemployment benefits.
  • Cash for clunkers.
  • First-time homebuying tax credits.
  • FDIC losses.
  • Etc.

And they won't stop either - not until the whole shebang blows up.

Having Watched This...

Great scene here where Larry, and Jerry, rip *George Costanza* over the size and title of his book:

I've already mentioned it once this season in - Still Making Us Laugh...

But any of you Seinfeld fans out there just HAVE TO see this season's Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The finale was last week (watch it OnDemand) and the guys were on fire - particularly Jerry and Larry. Their chemistry was simply amazing and will warm the heart of any forlorn Seinfeld fan.

Since the show went off the air, George got married and made millions with an iToilet app he invented,..., he gave it all to Bernie Madoff,..., shacks up with Cheryl David,...

Still Hard To Believe People Buy This Product

Since I've been contacted by Enzyte for possible sponsorship on my blog....I've decided to do some research on the product. Look at the hilarity I unearthed:

Enzyte is one of the most well known names in the male enhancement industry. Smiling Bob, Enzyte's marketing icon, is practically a household name. In truth, product testers put Enzyte in the top five most effective penis enlargement pill products on the market today. Berkeley Nutraceuticals, the manufacturer of Enzyte, has been in the herbal supplement business for over ten years. Steve Warshak, the chief executive of Enzyte's manufacturer, has been in the news recently. Many believe it is because he sells a bogus product. This is not the truth. The truth is Warshak was indicted on 112 federal counts, including conspiracy; money laundering; and mail, wire, and bank fraud. Although his greed and criminal nature may land him in jail for up to 20 years, the truth is his product, Enzyte, showed an amazingly level of effectiveness.


But the product isn't a fraud...

I will say this - Warshak better hope his cellmate doesn't find an *enhancement* product that actually works!

On another note, how would you like to be the dude pictured above? That pic of him comes up FIRST on this google search.

Whoever took that pic and posted it can rest assured they've reached the pinnacle of male ball-busting!

The Extro-Inverted....Marginalizing Themselves

American Idol finalist Adam Lambert, is fresh off an *obscene* performance that got his next televised gig cancelled. From the NYPost:
"We had this great dance number totally staged. It's a sexy song about seduction and power and I was just doing the lyrics justice," he told Rolling Stone. "My intention was not to try and create a controversy. But if a controversy ensues, then so be it."

After the performance, a pleased Lambert hit the Twittersphere to say, "All hail freedom of expression and artistic integrity."

It's all just the latest in Lambert's attempts at titillating audiences by pushing boundaries, something that the singer has been keen to do since coming out as gay after "American Idol" ended in the spring.

Lambert has yet to comment about the way his performance was edited, but he did tell the Los Angeles Times -- before the West Coast broadcast aired -- "If it's going to be edited, then, in a way, that's discrimination. I don't mean to get political, but Madonna, Britney [Spears] and Christina [Aguilera] weren't edited."

He went on to add, "It's a shame. Female entertainers have been risqué for years.

"Honestly, there's a huge double standard....It's 2009, it's time to take more risks. It's about entertainment. People want to be surprised. It's too bad that people are so scared."

Now you can read about and actually watch the performance on that link above (West Coast Tom!).

Obviously this Lambert guy is a little too much for mainstream, heterophile America. He started his public opinion descent on American Idol, going from merely a little flamboyant to in-your-face, loud, and unapologetic - and it cost him the contest to a much inferior Chris Allen.

It's hard to imagine any big sponsors ever getting *behind* Lambert given his persona now. It's one thing for a pop singer to be a full-blown deviant in the privacy of their own home, e.g. Michael Jackson,....

I don't really have anything else to say in this post - which was really just a ruse to introduce my neologism - *extro-inverted*.

Or should we call Adam *extra-extro-inverted*?

[There's always a notable Moron in these stories, check out his proud mother.]

UPDATE - Another cancellation for this knucklehead.

Yoga Instructor - Best Job On Earth?


A while back I wrote a couple of posts on the *worst* jobs:

Click here and then here.

Help Me, Please

I know it's Thanksgiving week - and everyone is scrambling to do *something different* this year, but take a look at the most emailed stories from the Boston Globe today:

Holiday recipes....

Amazingly, time and again you see this list topped by FOOD recipes.

What does that tell you?

It tells me that the public really craves PRACTICAL INFORMATION.

I mean, how the bleep is a story in *Mid-East violence* or *global warming prognostications* going to possibly improve one's life? On the contrary, that nonsense might even ruin your day!

Out of the millions of websites and media outlets, I'll bet no more than a handful could be deemed seriously helpful or educational. If there's one latent goal for this blog - other than my own self-amusement - it's to be a destination where brains get can occasionally get tickled.

When the obit is finally written, it'll surely mention that people apparently only bought newspapers for the comics, the crossword, the coupons, the want ads, and their laxative quality. In other words, those aspects of the black and white agitprop....really did, for decades, improve people's days!

See also - Hard Evidence Smacks The Globies In The Face.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Chick In My Life

Here name is Shiva Rea and I discovered her today as a new arrival on Comcast's OnDemand *yoga*.

I'm no expert, but she seemed pretty good. A *beginner* 23 minute session with her this morning and I'm feeling it now. That is the test, I guess, of a good instructor. While you're doing the practice, it doesn't seem so hard but it bites you later on in the day.

Apparently she's pretty famous. Click the link above for some YouTube clips.

Yeah, I know, she sounds like a psychopath; and probably has the personality of a hemorrhoid.

Vocab Lessons - "Aliterate"

I can't believe I never came across this great word before today!

And I'll bet it's probably more applicable in our society than *illiterate* - the inability to read.

For years now I have used the term *econo-illiterate* on this blog and elsewhere to describe those not fluent in the theory of economics.

Now, with today's new word in my arsenal, I can promulgate a new sub-population - the *econo-aliterates*.

These are the jerks who well understand the subtleties of free trade, regulation, etc....yet nonetheless say and do some real Moronic things.

The best econo-aliterate example I can think of at the moment?

It just has to be Harvard's own Greg Mankiw!

For my master Mankiw link - click here.

Really Only A Sympton

I really do feel bad for these people who complain about and aspire to reform *government schools*:

MA Education Committee hears lurid testimony from mother of 11-year-old, and others. But legislators barely interested.
A Jamaica Plain mother (see video above) testified that her 11-year-old daughter had been given a homework assignment to draw an erect penis ejaculating. The mother described how this deeply affected the entire family. The only reaction from the committee was a question by House Chairman Martha Walz (D-Boston) who blandly asked the mother if she had been properly notified according to the current law. (The mother said: absolutely not.)

The Parkers made national news over his elementary school’s refusal to notify him or allow an opt-out when teaching his son in Kindergarten about homosexuality and transgenderism. The family filed a Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit over the matter. But the federal judges said that Parker has no rights under current Massachusetts law over what their children are taught or even to be notified of it.

Hah! Let's reiterate that last line:


Obviously, this nonsense doesn't perturb me, a homeschooling parent, like it does others.

All you people out there with small bad as the *schools* are now, you know they will only get worse; and you KNOW that *your suburban* school is only scarcely better. So why don't you start wrapping your minds around the idea of homeschooling now?

It's not that it's *too hard* to pull kids out of factory schools when they're older - although I see a BIG difference between those kids in our homeschooling co-op who *did some time* and those who were fortunate enough to never be so incarcerated. It's that - time is precious. You want to be with your kids in these formative years. Because once you've lost them, they're gone. Remember this excerpt I posted:

Not only are the seeds of peer orientation sown in day care and preschool, but the fruit is already in evidence by the fifth year of life. One of the largest studies ever done on this subject followed more than a thousand children from birth to kindergarten. The more time a child had spent in day care, the more likely she was to manifest aggression and disobedience, both at home and in kindergarten. As discussed in previous chapters, aggression and disobedience are the legacy of peer orientation. The more they had been in day care, the more these children exhibited counterwill as indicated by arguing, sneakiness, talking back to staff, and failure to take direction. Their elevated frustration was indicated by temper tantrums, fighting, hitting, cruelty to others, and the destruction of their own things. These children were also more desperate in their attachment behavior: given to boasting, bragging, incessant talking, and striving for attention, as we would expect when attachments are not working.

For more, see - Complete Book Review - Hold On To Your Kids.

And thanks to Paul Mitchell, aka "Shampoo", for alerting me to what's going on in my own State!

Picked Off By Rachel Ray!

*Picked off* means, in trading pit jargon, to have had someone come in and take money from you - via suckering you into an instantaneously losing trade with them.

Sometime last week I received an email from *The Rachel Ray Show* expressing an interest in some of my *homemade Thanksgiving videos* up on YouTube. The message asked for permission to use them in an upcoming show.

Hmmmmm....I couldn't remember putting any videos from t-giving recently. Some crack research revealed that I had put up a few clips some years ago - and the videos weren't even that good, IMO.

Twice I inquired as to which video(s) they were interested in but didn't get a specific answer. So for a chance to get my kids on TV, I did what they asked me to do. I had to burn all possible videos they wanted on a CD, sign over my rights to them, and overnight it all to Manhattan. All of this took me 2 precious hours. Some woman gave me the show's account number and said to bill them.

Of course, the UPS Store said *they were no longer allowing that*. So I had to go into my pocket for $20 to ship the disc.

Looking at the videos I couldn't imagine they would get used on the show - but you just never know.

So throughout the process I knew this was going to be a waste of time and money. Obviously the original request was a *spam* sent to tons of YouTube accounts who had *Thanksgiving* videos. I regret that I was but one of who knows how many starstruck Morons gullible enough to go through this hassle for nothing.

At least they had the decency to call me today and inform me that my clips didn't make the cut.

Butt the minor ordeal wasn't a total loss. Writing the post I came across a pretty cool pic of Ms. Ray.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another Approach To Boring Phonics

Click graphic to enlarge.

As I promised 2.5 months ago, I finally did get a hold of my old Big Boggle game and I introduced it to Prince C-Nut.

I shook the dice up and gave him 5 minutes to discover and write down words. This we'll start out doing two times a session.

Boggle seems to be, for my 5.00 year old, good for phonics (get, set, yet), spelling, and for learning new vocabulary (sot).

I'm kind of against the idea that we have to *trick* kids into learning. I don't even think that to be effective it has to be *fun* either.

I just believe that as a teacher or homeschooling parent you have to mix things up a bit.

Now I've done a ton of math with my son now - sometimes we've sat down for 2 hours straight - but now I'm leaning toward a different approach.

That Charlotte Mason lady advocated having young children doing different subjects, each in 15-20 minute bursts - lest they lose attention.

Today felt like a *nothing* day for our homeschool. But upon reflection here's what we did:

Right after breakfast, we did the last 6 pages of his Grade 5 - Decimals & Fractions Kumon workbook

Then it was time for reading. I read him 6 poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's children's poetry book. Then I read him 40 pages of Magic Tree House #33.

He went on the computer for a bit - starting out with *States and Capitals* and *checking his email* but somehow ended up playing Asteroids and Missle Command!

Karate class.

Then we did a few circuit building *projects* from this great birthday gift he received - Elenco Snap Circuits Jr.

Then we played Boggle.

He checked his email again - reading a story that I sent him earlier today.

And he emailed his mother to see what time she'd be home.

After dinner he handwrote a couple of thank-you notes for guests at his recent birthday party.

Then *mom* had him the rest of the night. They played a board game and I'm sure they read another couple of chapters in his Magic Tree House book - as they do every night.

The Princess?

She's been pretty sick. Though she still had several books read to her today and she managed to do a few pages in her Kumon book.

Man Versus Mice

I don't know why that ratty mouse above died. All I did was leave it in my trash barrel outside for two days. It was on an infestation *timeout*; I wanted it to think long and hard about its unwelcome intrusion into my bedroom. (Meanwhile, my son was asking if he could keep it as a pet!)

Why did it die? It wasn't cold out at all. And it clearly had plenty of food.

Click the image to enlarge and you might be able to discern how it totally consumed one of its partners in crime!

So I guess mice, as opposed to *men*, are not just small - they're pretty wimpy as well.

Pest guy came today and took away his metal traps. He told me that my kills, for mice, were "pretty wonder they were making so much noise."

I've bought some of that *green poison* and started spreading it around. Since there is no cure for mice, I'm going to close up those holes in my ceiling and just bear the nighttime squeaking. (At least now I know it's not squirrels which could be chewing my wires and burning my house down.)

For someone familiar with sheetrock, this would take probably all of 5 minutes. But for me, who's unfluent in this subject, it's going to take a whole lot longer.

Hopefully in the meantime no rodents will fall out into our bedroom.

For background see - Daily Rodent Infestation Update.

And for an off-site, hilarious rat post - click here. It might just make you think twice about ordering that egg roll ever again.

Catalyzing Scat

I know somebody....that whenever they go for a run....

They end up barreling into a restaurant, ice cream shop, or neighbor's house because their *system* has been furiously activated.

I always found this hysterical and odd.

Only according Google, it's clearly pretty common.


I've never had an automatic catalyst - except for when I was a kid. It felt like every time I went deep into the woods I had to go.

Nowadays, like the rest of my life, everything is pretty much in order.

- approximately same time every late morning
- no need for reading material
- and I know how to clean up properly

See - One More Crudity From New Hampshire - for elaboration on *properly*.

What's funny, and speaks truth to the power of the internet, is that Google search suggestions, ALL BY THEMSELVES, pretty much answer the question.

I'll take testimonials and the wisdom of crowds over academic theory any day.

See, I knew all along *beans* were an undeserving scapegoat!

Crash Prediction

Since talk is cheap, I'll say this:

I predict there will be a one-day major stock market crash. Forget an orderly retracement.

No, this bubble is going to burst in an instant.

This market is going to drop 2,000 points in one fell swoop. Circuit breakers be damned!

How do I know this?

Well, volume has been anemic the whole way up. Quants or computer-driven traders have been responsible for almost all of the trading. Shorts are all but wiped out. And how could they not be? There hasn't been so much as an intraday downtick in 8 full months.

The market is going to dump early one day, and all the Morons at once are going to rush for the exits.

Of course, the computers will be smashing the $hit out of the market on the way down - IN FRONT of said latecomers.

Traders will be the only ones buying as it crashes...

And they will get their a$$es handed to them as the bottom falls out.

When is this going to happen?

Who knows?

It's always safer, batting average-wise, to say *next quarter* or *next year*. For example, "I'll pull my home off the market and list it NEXT SPRING, when the housing market bounces..."

All I'm really confident of, is that it's going to be very hard to profit from this inevitable crash. It's going to happen real fast - which would not be friendly to those levered shorts of mine - SRS, FAZ, EEV, and FXP - and the market may even go MORE vertical right before the bust.

About those POS ETFs....I haven't been adding to them much lately.

Instead, I've been accumulating far-out, 2011 puts on the likes of Wells Fargo and Simon Property Group.

Today's market truly is in rarefied, bubble territory. And I bet there are probably better trades out there than shorting bailed-out banks and stubborn REITs. For example, look at a stock like Sears-Kmart. That has over 40% of its float sold short. Captial One, that subprime credit card company I made $$$ in last year, it too is way back to a ripe $40 per share.

Rasheed, Overrated?

The unbeatable-on-paper Boston Celtics have lost 4 of their last 8 games - in pitiful fashion I might add.

The culprit, beyond the always responsible coach, is Rasheed Wallace.

Despite being a 7-footer, all the guy does is linger on the perimeter and jack up 3-point shots.


81 of his 128 shots this season have been three pointers.

And his FG% is a woeful 36% on 2-pointers and only 27% on 3-pointers.

Alright, obviously Rasheed may start taking fewer bombs, making more of his bombs, and spending more time under the hoop, where he belongs.

But I just want to throw out one hypothesis here:

Perhaps Rasheed Wallace has been long overrated?

After all, he's always been on very good teams, surrounded by decent talent.

Maybe he was never that good in the first place?

If some players can eventually prove themselves to be vastly underrated because they never had much help before, does it not follow that guys who've been blessed with talented teammates, that they might be chronically OVERRATED?

I think it does.

But I hope that's not the case with the gentleman Wallace. He's carrying a 3 year $18 million contract and a lot of fans' hope on his back.

(The Celts may be 10-4 but they are 27th in the league in rebounding. While we're at it, can someone tell Garnett to get back under the hoop as well?)

Marginalizing ZeroHedge

Well I am Marginalizing him, namely Tyler Durden, conditionally anyway.

It looks like he copied my avatar tack - with the naked midriff shot.

From googling I can't tell if he's used it longer than me. If he has, I'll withdraw my accusation.

Until then, this poseur will be deemed guilty as charged!

See - Still Can't Show My Face.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Titanic Can't Find Willing Skipper

On the wire today:

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp.’s board may extend its search for a new, permanent chief executive officer into 2010 if directors can’t settle on a candidate in the next four days, according to people familiar with the matter.

Some candidates are reluctant to wade into disagreement between board members and the government over the bank’s future strategy, said Rochdale Securities LLC analyst Richard Bove, citing large shareholders briefed on the matter.

“The government and perhaps some of the new directors want the bank cut back in size, while the old core Bank of America people don’t want to do that,” Bove said.

Dropping Out

O’Neill, a former chief financial officer of predecessor BankAmerica Corp., withdrew from consideration after talking with search-committee members because he felt they didn’t fully grasp how serious regulators are in their demands for change, the people said.

O’Neill told the committee members that the company needed to increase the size of its banking operations and shrink its trading business, one person briefed on the talks said. The committee members responded that such a shift would be unproductive because it would abandon the strategy set when Lewis bought Merrill Lynch & Co., the person said.

Compensation is another obstacle, because Bank of America’s $45 billion bailout puts the CEO under the purview of paymaster Kenneth Feinberg. Lewis agreed in October to forgo any pay for 2009 after being advised to do so by Feinberg.

At least four of those on the Finger list subsequently said they weren’t interested. They are O’Neill; former JPMorgan Chase & Co. investment-banking co-head William Winters; U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis; and Eugene McQuade, a former Freddie Mac president who now oversees Citigroup’s largest banking subsidiary, according to people familiar with the matter.

Two executives not on the list, Bank of New York Mellon CEO Robert Kelly and BlackRock Inc. CEO Laurence Fink, have told colleagues and friends they’re not interested.

Aside from Moynihan, 50, other internal candidates include Chief Risk Officer Gregory Curl, 61. Lewis, 62, favors Curl, one person familiar with the matter said earlier this month.

Outside Candidates

Federal Reserve officials, who questioned Lewis’s judgment when he considered backing out of the bank’s $29 billion purchase of Merrill Lynch, are pressing for an outsider because they want more drastic change, a different person said.

Lewis has indicated to associates that he would remain as CEO on an interim basis if asked by the board, according to a person familiar with his thinking. Rochdale’s Bove wrote in a Nov. 20 note that several large investors support the idea.


I find it hard to believe that NO ONE wants to eat the $hitpile that Ken Lewis has prepared.

It's unbelievable that Greg Curl's name is in the mix. He's nominally the *chief risk officer* for Bankrupt of America. But more than that, he was supposedly the *brains* behind all of BoA's mergers. How'd they work out again? Furthermore, topping out his the article states - LEWIS FAVORS HIM!

I say go with Moynihan. I met the guy socially several years ago. He had the perfectly firm handshake!

ANYONE but extending Ken Lewis.

Although admittedly, Lewis hanging on because no one wants to inherit his job would have plenty of deeply ironic, entertainment value. A captain, by all rights, should go down with the ship, no?

Marginalizing El Serape Fans

This post will probably only interest local Massholes.

Everyone, on Boston's South Shore anyway, raves about this restaurant - El Serape.

But guess what - it's terrible!

The place is apparently always packed. And it sure was a couple of weeks ago when we went. We had a very good time but only because we were out with a large group of good people - and I was particularly ON that night, with my one-liners, my trademark *shock effect*, etc.

As for the food....the $40 grilled platter that my wife and I split had dried, unseasoned chicken, maybe six passable shrimp, and *grade d* steak that was no more than a half an inch thick and alternately overdone and bloody raw. Oh yeah, and the guacamole was among the worst, most bland I ever consumed.

Put it this way, the fast food at Chipotle is not only much cheaper, but orders of magnitude tastier!

And I'd even rather have Taco Bell next time.

So why do people rave about this place?

Well, because they are parochial Morons who've never experienced life outside of the culinary wasteland that is Massachusetts.

In a competitve restaurant scene, one with attainable liquor licenses like New York or Philadelphia, El Serape would never become a *20 year institution* - no, it'd most certainly be out of business in a year or two.

Since I've been back in the Commonwealth for four years now, I've been fully conditioned to expect sucky food EVERYWHERE I go. So luckily, I arrived that Saturday night with muted expectations.

And I have to say, to a man, that the people who warned me about El Serape being overrated....they've all at one time or another lived out-of-State.

While Massachusetts claims to be a leader in academia, science, and *diversity* consider that despite not even knowing what constitutes a good burrito...

...that these blue-neck rubes have all sorts of strong feelings on much larger affairs like government and geo-politics!

Sound Familiar?

I just read the following in Yoga Journal's August 2009 issue:
In 2:15 of the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali teaches that suffering is caused by change, unfulfilled longing, habits, and fluctuations in energy. Not even the the most enlightened among us is immune. But in the next sutra, Patanjali offers some hope when he says that we can "prevent the suffering that is yet to come."

Patanjali teaches that we can have pain, yet not suffer. If we accept the inevitability of life's twists and turns and find the opportunity for growth in the struggles we face, we can prevent the unnecesssary, self-inflicted suffering that comes from such feelings as guilt, blame, and regret. We can't avoid hardship in life, but through the practice of the eight limbs of yoga, we can learn to see that our true Self remains unchanged, and so we find peace and ease, even in the midst of difficulty.


Suffering is inevitable?

Life is beyond our complete control?

And setbacks are opportunities for or lessons in personal growth?

If this all sounds eerily familiar...

That's because it may have well been stripped straight from the Bible!

Now I know that yoga is an ancient practice; and that this Patanjali dude predates Christ by a 100 years or so.

But still, people today indulge in a medley of self-fulfilling, nouveau-chic behavior be it *greening* their lives, traipsing around barefoot, or taking up yoga...

And yet many of them haven't the slightest idea that the ultimate goals in these practices have all already been addressed and prescribed for in Scripture.

It'd be sort of like me predicting an iPhone fad because I just tried one out last week!

See also - Ring Any Bells?.

What Would You Do, To Save A Buck Or Two?

My wife told me that she was going to buy a ******** for one of our relatives for Christmas.

Since, at that particular moment I wasn't ignoring her....I mentioned that particular product would be on sale at Staples on Black Friday, marked down from $220 to $120 - or so I accidentally read in the Boston Globe.

I called the store out near my parents' house, where we'll be for Thanksgiving.

CaptiousNut - When do you open next Friday?

StoreClerk - We open at 6am.

CaptiousNut - Are you going to have that ********?

StoreClerk - Where'd you hear that? Just kidding, yep we'll have it. Make sure you get here at 4:30am if you want a chance at one. Last year there were 50 people in line already at that time.

CaptiousNut - How many will you have? Will you have more than 50?

StoreClerk - Nope.

CaptiousNut - Okay. Thanks.

Personally, I usually do my Christmas shopping around December I'm pretty unfamiliar with the Black Friday nonsense. I don't watch the news either so I guess I had no real idea these stores with their specials were such a mob scene.

IMO, these retailers are stupid. They probably lose money on these giveaways because no one Moronic enough to camp out for $100 savings is going to buy anything else. As a wise old bar owner in Philly once told me, "Cheap deals only attract cheap people."

I'll most likely be up at 4am next Friday anyway. But the idea of freezing, in the dark, and standing in a line remains off-putting.

However, I am curious whether the dour economy will make these early Black Friday lines longer or shorter. I could see it going either way.

C-Nut Ventures Back To The Future

I feel like I've just been time-warped to the future; though I've probably only arrived at the recent past.

All thanks to the successful initialization of that iPod Touch thingy!

Now it did take me a week - see last Sunday's post - and a couple of headaches but it's working now.

First, I couldn't get iTunes to load on either my old PC or my newish Sony laptop. Eventually it came through on the latter, albeit after 2 hours of agony. (Even though I have little interest in putting music on it, the iTouch won't configure without iTunes and a PC. I think.)

Then, I had problems with it retrieving email. I scoured help and discussion forums all over the web to no avail. What eventually worked, was me turning off my router's wireless security. So I still haven't tried it on the *outside*, but let me just say that so far it has been a boon even within these walls.

Basically, the iTouch is going to give me a big, much-needed efficiency boost.

For example, yesterday while my wife commandeered my PC, I laid on the bed and was able to not only rest my back and share the computer, I was able to reduce my email inbox by 65 messages or so!

I got all geeked up and my wife mocked me,

Yes, in 2009 it is possible to get EMAIL on a handheld...

I don't get much computer time during the weekdays on account of my kids, but most of the time when I do run over, I've recently realized that it was just to check my email - to see blog comments coming in, to see what my wife wants for dinner, to see what train she's coming home on, etc.

But now I no longer have to drop what I'm doing, or kick a kid off the computer, to find out!

In fact, yesterday I put the iTouch on my nightstand and checked my email a couple of times in the middle of the night. Remember, I'm essentially an 'old coot' with my sleep habits - sleeping 4 hours or so, getting up all night long to go to the bathroom, investigate noises, empty rodent traps, etc.

I still have to check the WiFi connectivity of it at my local haunts: the playgrounds, libraries, community centers, the bar, etc. Hopefully, I'll get some reception.

Though now I'm thinking....if just the pedestrian iTouch can help me so much....then maybe I should just go get that Verizon Droid thingy with the complete data package?

We'll see how this goes first. I rather doubt that I could substantially blog more given a handheld Droid or Blackberry. When I'm writing, I use both monitors, am looking through big pic folders, have my notes with me, prefer solitude, and usually have about 10 browser tabs open at once. I really do try to think hard about what I write - even if the readership can't always tell.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vocab Lessons - "Titivate"

Words are indeed weapons especially for an argumentative geek like myself!

I'm the type of guy who gets his jollies by calling another's argument offal and having them retort that I'm an illiterate who can't spell!

Perhaps I'll start a new feature on this blog dedicated solely to interesting words, etymology, sesquipedalia, and whatnot.

For example, today's word doesn't mean what you probably thought it did.

Or does it?

Kids, Flick Em

In the past 1.33 years of homeschooling Prince C-Nut, I can't tell you how many hours I've sat next to him at the kitchen table with his Kumon workbooks; and I can't tell you how many times he's sneezed all over my arm, face, or other parts of my person! It was frustrating enough when the four year-old couldn't remember to carry, borrow, of what 13x29 was - and it was usually at these very low points that he would fire nasal poop on me.

He soon enough conquered the basics of arithmetic, but remembering to cover his mouth BEFORE a 100 mph sneeze....that remained problematic for quite some time.

Exasperated, I decided that whenever he forgot to cover his mouth, I'd FLICK him but good on the head, with my middle finger. I'd slap him around like Biff did with George McFly!

Guess what, it worked fabulously!

But you have to be on top of it. Even if he was across the room, or outside by his lonesome, every time I witnessed an uncovered cough or sneeze I'd go barreling over there to deliver his reminder. I've got him so on his toes now that when he does cover his mouth, just for kicks, I lunge in his direction - and he puts his arm over his head and yells back, "I COVERED. I COVERED. I COVERED"

That's not cruel because he needs the *blocking* practice for karate anyway.

So it's on to the next lesson.

I am so sick and tired of telling my kids to say *please*...

...That I've decided to henceforth flick them whenever they forget.

I admit I am a bit of a Nazi with *please* and *thank you*. I make ALL KIDS, of strangers, of friends, et al, use proper manners when asking me for something. I don't well care if their parents are right there, if their parents have a religious aversion to manners, or what. The fact is, I'm not getting anything for anyone, or doing anything for anyone without being asked politely. Recently at my son's birthday party, some 5 year old snot told me, "Get me a juice box."

Can you imagine? How hard would that kid have gotten smacked 50 or 100 years ago? What right-minded parent would raise children like that?

Mr. Manners did go overboard once, at a restaurant in Boston this summer.

My wife asked the waitress for another Kettle One and tonic and forgot the magic word.

"HOW DO YOU ASK?", I scolded her at a dinner table seating 25 acquaintances.

In hindsight, I most probably shouldn't have corrected Mrs. C-Nut in that manner.

From now on, she'll get flicked in the head like everyone else!

For more on *flicking* - click here.

And for you young'uns and future readers, George McFly is from an epic 80s flick - Back To The Future.

And for West Coast Tom, I'll link to Huey Lewis singing the theme.

I admit, I just watched that video clip three times. The Eighties were by no means a crazy decade but I submit that most who didn't live through them will have a very hard time comprehending the cheesy entertainment and fashion which prevailed.

And it was so much easier to live under the ominous threats of nuclear armageddon and acid rain that it is today to suffer through *climate change*, fully nationalized healthcare, and the collapse of our currency.

Ford Explorer = POS

5.5 years ago, after our dimwitted SIL totaled our 1992 Chevy we were forced to upgrade. We bought an uncertified pre-owned 2000 Ford Explorer from some kid in Brooklyn. All told we paid $11,000 for it.

We knew from day one that Explorers were total POS. That was the unanimous opinion from everyone we asked or read. Yet we still made the purchase because, if memory serves me, the more reliable stuff like the Toyota Camry (with 50k miles) was going for $17,000. That just always seemed like a lot of money to spend to get us from point C to point H. Myself, I was always far more comfortable wasting large amounts of money on calls and puts!

Actually, we were living in NYC, being green BEFORE it was trendy with walking and subways, only using the car on weekends, and parking it on the city streets. Only a Moron in our position would buy a shiny new car.

Anyways, our Explorer is just about kaput. The transmission is in all likelihood shot.

My mechanic told me to go to his *tranny guy* - YEAH, HE REALLY USED THAT CHARACTERIZATION! - and see if the problem could be solved by *taking a solenoid out* and repairing it. That might be $400-$500 versus an entire new *tranny* for $2,000.

Now even though this car made it down to Charlotte, NC and back a few times, it had been running poorly almost since the get-go. Engine light always on; power fading ever so often; frequent misfires; etc. The latest symptom has been more problematic - it won't accelerate from a stopped position. Let's just say it fires up like a drunken 80 year old man! Neither of which can safely cross a busy street. What reference did y'all think I was making here anyway?

About a month ago, the *overdrive* light started flashing during transit. My mechanic told me that usually indicated a *tranny* problem. He tried to soup it up with some fluids and other bio-organic, holistic remedies but it was to no avail.

Not excited about putting serious money into this proven money pit....I asked the Google mechanic.

On web forums, like this, I read the testimonials of numerous Ford Explorer owners who had this very problem. They all went to mechanics who first tried a *solenoid*, then a *whole new tranny*, replaced sensors, etc. I read a bunch of them and pretty much not a single complainant had a happy ending. There's definitely an engineering flaw on these models from Ford - of which the company has refused to acknowledge, no less address with a fix or recall.

I was reluctant to get any work done in the first place, but what I read online put any thoughts of car rehab to rest. It just didn't seem right to me to inter a car after only 88,000 miles. Heck my parents' cars from 25 years ago, Oldsmobiles mostly, all withstood well over 100,000 miles. Some further Googling today revealed that 75k is all that could be expected of these Fords....because of inferior transmissions.

So that settled it.

Bye, bye Explorer.

Hello Minivan!

$11,000 divided by 5.5 years divided by 12 months...

The cost of the POS = $167 per month.

Yeah, it was a bit of a maintenance hassle....but we also had very low insurance premiums and we didn't have to worry about it getting dinged or stolen.

Greater Depression Special - $2 Tasty Dessert

These are pretty darn good!

[Full Disclosure - Betty Crocker is paying me $1,000 per month to promote this product on my blog.]

Friday, November 20, 2009

Morons On Wheels

This week outside of Boston some bicyclist got run over and became entangled *underneath* a car. He was dragged for 800 feet before the chick driver stopped; she was unaware. Can we just assume she was on her cell phone?

Anyways, every time I see a biker on these Massachusetts streets I think:


With the curvy narrow roads, all the traffic, inclement weather, and all the self-centered college students, blind 'old coots', flaky minivan *moms*, meathead speeding contractors, and texting teeny-boppers....I'm not comfortable even walking along the streets of Greater Boston, never mind biking on them.

The crash at 1:10 is unbelievable:

One thing I can't stand about bikers around here, aside from their glaring recklessness, is how they want all the rights of car traffic...

Yet when they hit stop signs and traffic signals they fly through like they're exempt.

Plus there's that whole Commi aspect of the endeavor:

Shoot! It's been three years since I - Marginalized Sharing.

Daily Rodent Infestation Update

Since I've received no less than 16 emails, calls, and texts dripping with curiosity today...

First, see yesterday's - Infestation Update.

Recall, the pest guy cut some holes in my ceiling:

And placed two small metal traps up there, along with two glue traps.

There was plenty of squeaky chirping activity above me only two hours after setting them. And it carried on through last night. I heard both cages set and a whole lot more *activity* up there. So much for my original hunch that it was just *one squirrel*!

So this morning I called the pest guy who said he'd come over. Now, he was a nice guy (homeschooled his kids!) and he's based 35 minutes away. Even though I paid him $375 for very little work, I figured I could do him a favor and empty the traps this morning myself. Even though I was scared poopless to stick my hands up in those crevices!

On the phone he assured me that the glued mice would be dead from exhaustion; and that the caged mice wouldn't be able to bite me through the small holes. So I grabbed my kitchen ladder, a pair of leather gloves...and opened the first hole.

I pulled down the little cage and sure enough, there was a ratty looking mouse in there. Immediately I took him outside and emptied it into my trash can. I will say this - it really stunk.

Then I went back up, with considerable trepidation slid down the glue trap, and found nothing on it.

Then I set about opening the second sheetrock panel.

Again, I started with the cage, pulled the smelly thing down, found another mouse inside and emptied it into my *death row*, banned-from-YouTube trash barrel outside.

Then I came back for the second glue trap in this opening. I couldn't see it and was unenthused about exploring with my hand up there.

So I went and got a *poker* - some disposable chopstick. I slid it up into the rafter and definitely hit something mousy. Heck, it felt like it was moving and I almost fell off my ladder!

Later on this morning, in between dropping kids off, my calisthetics, laundry, etc. I made it back into my bedroom with the camera. I held it up in the ceiling and snapped this:

So my sensation was correct - except for the *live* part. Two more dead rodents. I have left them there because the pest guy told me those traps can take out 6 or 7 before they are full - though they will stink.

I also took another look in the first hole and thought I espied a tail.

In fact there was another dead one up there - though right next to the glue trap which surprised me. What, did it escape and THEN die? I grabbed the MOST APPROPRIATE tools I could think of and pulled the corpse out:

So five casualties on the first night of hunting!

Sounds good, right?

Guess again. It's a terrible finding.

Pest guy told me that with mice, pretty much nothing can be done. He said their litters average 8-10 babies so in all likelihood we'll be killing them at about their birth rate.

The basement here is what's called a slab - it's not a poured foundation. So there are plenty of holes and ways these mice could be, and will be, entering the walls. I do have one particularly big hole next to my bedroom which he said I could have someone just pour a bunch of concrete in to perhaps seal it off. But there exists another problem. The entire back of the house is spanned by my deck, which is atop the slab. To close off all of the holes on this one side, they'd have to tear up my ginormous deck, do a bunch of sealing, and then that might not even do the trick.

Pretty much this house is screwed. It was just too thoughtlessly built renovated. But that's what happens when everything is done by different, self-centered, contractors.

I pressed the pest guy as to what would he do if it were his house.

He told me to go buy 4 crate loads of *green poison* and place them all around....I guess the foundation. He said the mice would eat it and become dehydrated or something. This I'm going to do, and deduct as well from my December rent.

At the moment I do have one complication. The sheetrock panels which were cut out aren't being cooperative. The pest guy had them duct-taped but they won't stick anymore. So as bedtime approaches we are looking at two wide-openings on MOUSE HIGHWAY. I just know one, or more mice, will fall down to the floor of my bedroom tonight and terrorize our family. Maybe even a bigger one - a RAT perhaps?

I may run to Lowes tonight if I can't think of another way to jerry-rig them up there.

Lastly, I asked the pest guy if that nasty smell was the mice's natural aroma or not.

He said it wasn't - that when they are trapped and facing death it's a natural animal reaction to release *all of their waste product*.

I'm not kidding, these traps stunk to high heaven. And I've been smelling this horrible odor all day long. I've washed everything, multiple times - including the INSIDES OF MY NOSTRILS yet I can't get rid of this putrid stench.

Oh yeah,....death row.

One of my captives drowned in the little bit of water that was in the barrel. It couldn't swim a lick therefore it was obviously an *urban mouse*.

The other is quietly awaiting his fate. Though it almost made a miraculous escape.

Incredibly, a rather large tree branch blew down and fell RIGHT INTO THE BARREL.

On my way to the playground I ran back to tease the illegal alien and saw him clingling atop said branch, only inches from freedom.

Meanwhile, in the open hole RIGHT ABOVE MY HEAD....I can hear yet another mouse squealing in the glue trap!

I wonder if I can stop paying rent over this?