Friday, December 26, 2008

Merrrrrrry Christmas!


There’s a lot to be said for the holiday season. Who, after all, doesn’t enjoy shopping for and wrapping unnecessary yet totally fun toys and goodies, spending time with friends and family that we don’t get to see often enough, and then sitting down to a big Christmas dinner that’s as indefensibly extravagant as it is delicious? I do. Really.


I know of course that there are those who would frame the same events very differently; for some it's more like: Schlepping around to spend money on unnecessary junk, mandatory close proximity to family they usually avoid like the flu, and then yet another awkward meal spent trying to force down over-cooked ham while ignoring drunk aunt Marge and her yapping Pekingese.


I, however, am lucky enough to have great friends and family, so our holidays trend towards the former rather than the latter.- (And a good thing too, because I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to Pekinese. And I know I’m allergic to Aunt Marge.)- Anyway, as well as all the other fun we have, part of our Christmas break is usually spent re-watching the boy’s favorite tube-clogging holiday vids, including my personal fave, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra-holiday-house video.


So sure, you’ve seen it a thousand times, but just on the off chance that you haven’t had your fill of it yet, here ya go. Happy holidays.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jeez I Hate Judith Warner


There are certainly many things of which I’m rather proud, but one of my favorites is my ability to take umbrage with just about anything I read and then wallow in a bit of cynicism just long enough for it to gestate into a full-blown fit of righteous indignation. Then, if all goes well, that righteous indignation will fuel a finely crafted missive of social commentary that’s rife with pithy insights and withering volleys of logic so elegant that any reader can’t help but be convinced that I am, in short, Right.

This, however, is not one of those days.

Suffice to say that it’s almost Christmas and I’ve got a little too much on my plate at the moment to get up a full head of steam over Warner and her latest bit of misanthropic twaddle. Luckily enough though, the ecosystem of Warner-hating is so rich and varied that anything I had to add would mostly likely be superfluous anyway.

So anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

(…And if by any chance you happen to be one of the many who appreciate Warner, then good for you and don’t mind me. Perhaps it’s the At-Home-Dad in me that over-reacts to her. And hey, at least she’s no worse than dipwads Charlie LeDuff and Austin Murphy. Merry Christmas again!)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Geek Rock and Synchronicity


If by any chance you have kids, you know all too well that having them around is, if nothing else, a mixed bag. On one hand there certainly is a lot of associated noise, smells and angst, but then on the other hand I find that despite those shortcomings, kids are often useful for any number of things. They do, for instance, tend to be small so they fit into tight spaces when needed; they will eat a surprising variety of things in the fridge that would otherwise go bad, and even better: although they never seem to notice things that you and I assume are blindingly obvious, they do occasionally have insights that are downright uncanny.


To wit: about two weeks ago my older boy and I were in the car listening to an episode of You Look Nice Today which included both Hodgeman and Jonathan Coulton. And then, while we were still giggling like little girls, we passed by the Riverspace theater in Nyack and that sharp-eyed boy ‘o mine just happened to look up at the marquee and announce in his typically minimalist way: “Hey. Jonathan Coulton.” (As always, his economy with words would make any Trappist monk proud.)


And so just like that, in a blinding little flash of synchronicity we happened to be listening to Coulton and then the Riverspace Marquee promised that he would be playing there that very Saturday night. (Which is actually not unlike an incident involving Werewolves of London and Trader Vic’s in L.A.; but that’s a story for a different day.)


Anyway, we went to the show that Saturday and had a great time; I shot a little video and even got my copy of Thing a Week signed. I’m such a nerd. Whatever.

=



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sometimes it's all about me. Sometimes.

There is hardly a day that goes by that it doesn’t occur to me that becoming a parent is a just another of life’s little milestones; much like getting married, graduating from school, or losing your virginity. Although hopefully not in that order.

As I get older though, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that parenthood is unique in that, if you let it, it becomes the default frame of reference for everything that happens for the rest of your life. You start mentally categorizing events by where they fall on the living timeline that is your progeny, and you remember things in the context of how it affected them. Which, if you have a tendency towards self-absorbed misanthropy as I do, can be a problem. After all, the first 25 or 30 years were all about me weren’t they? But no more; since I became a dad my perspective on most things revolves around the kids. Sheesh, what little need-machines they are.

Anyway, I realized this last weekend that there is at least one benchmark by which I can measure my impending mortality that has nothing to do with the kids: my roughly semiannual trips to Atlantic City with my buddies.

So it used to be, a lifetime ago, that when we were young and on the prowl we would all jump in our cars on any given night and head down to Trump Plaza to gamble, drink and smoke. The routine then mostly involved walking up the boardwalk to the Irish Pub for cheap food and good beer, and then wandering back down the boardwalk hitting every casino on the way until the last of us lost all our money. Then we’d stumble back to the cars around dawn with the stink of vice all over us and just barely enough time for a shower and change before going to work. You know, that kind of fun.

By now though, these trips have evolved into a whole different thing. Long gone is any semblance of spontaneity; these outings to A.C. are planned months in advance. There is no more braving the boardwalk on bitter winter nights; we sit around a table in Puck’s at the Borgata saying how nice it is to be warm. And driving around all night is only a distant memory; now after losing my money I just wander up to a nice, quiet room so I can be snoring by 1 a.m. You know, that other kind of fun.

So sure, I am, in a word, getting old... but at least when it comes to these trips I’m old on my own terms. It’s just me and my buddies, doing our thing, taking one night and not worrying about the kids.

Although… now that I think about it, it won’t be very long before both my boys will be old enough that we can start making our own trips like that. A new tradition of man-fun, if you will. So hey, maybe there’s room for both parenthood and that kind of fun. Huh, another thing to look forward to. Cool.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Randgruppenhumor *


As per my last post, there are few things I enjoy as much as the glittery baubles that are out there clogging up the tubes, each seemingly with the sole purpose of keeping me from having a fully productive day. Like raking all those leaves that mysteriously appear in my yard each fall. (sigh)

This morning, however, I came across a Digg post that was special because it wasn’t just great for procrastination, but because it helped me further refine the taxonomy of jokes that amuse me and those that don’t. -(And sure, joke-quality is mostly subjective, but it’s all about me, me, me around here, isn’t it?) - So, in the category of academic jokes that I actually get, I found one loser and one winner. The first:

-- An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one orders a beer. The second orders half a beer. The third, a quarter of a beer. The bartender says "You're all idiots", and pours two beers.

Ha ha! Or not. Anyway, the second joke, still in the same academic category, made me giggle like a little girl. Go figure.

-- A sheep rancher invites an engineer, a mathematician, and a physicist to a competitive bidding for building his corral.

The engineer is the first to present his solution: he looks at the white board with a picture of sheep scattered around a field, and draws a square that encompasses them all, saying that the fence walls would be of a uniform length and that making orthogonal cuts is the most natural thing with power tools.

The mathematician presents his solution next: he goes up to the white board and draws a circle around all the sheep, saying that the circle gives the most interior area for the least circumferential length.

The physicist then goes up to the white board to present his solution. He draws a little circle off to the side that doesn't encompass a single sheep. The rancher, the engineer, and the mathematician are all puzzled, and look at him wondering what he's up to, demanding that he explain himself.

"That," said the physicist, pointing to the interior of the little circle, "is the outside."

Now that’s good stuff. And as always, while it’s unlikely that these interweb amusemants are helping me towards my ostensible goal of self actualization, they certainly are more amusing than going outside and raking all those damn leaves. Blech.
-

* P.S. Oh yeah, and randgruppenhumor translates as 'fringe group humor'. -Again, go figure.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Palin-whats?


I suppose there are pros as well as cons to having the attention span of a goldfish, but certainly one of the big disadvantages is that it takes me a while to notice nifty things that others probably take for granted. That being the case, I find it helpful to occasionally stop and take stock of some of the shiny amusemants currently clogging up the tubes.

To wit: .That outstanding Palindrome for the hapless Sarah Palin: .“Wasilla’s all I saw.”= Now while that may or may not be cooler than the archetypical anagram. “Alec Guinness = Genuine Class”, .I do have a few fave Palin anagrams to add to the party: Sarah Palin = “A Sharp Nail”, .“Anal Parish”,. and for our Latin friends: .“Las Piranha”. .Mmmm, irony.

(Oh yeah, and 'SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS' translates as "The Great Sower holds in his hand all works"... but the genius bit is that it works sideways and upside down too. Go on, have a look. How cool is that?)

There now, something new and shiny for you to pass along.
=

Thursday, November 6, 2008

RIDICULOUS: Intentional, or Embarrassingly Sincere?


Hey kids, you like games? Sure you do, and one of my favorites is ‘RIDICULOUS: Intentional, or Embarrassingly Sincere?’ (I suppose this particular game is actually a combination of ‘Does This Smell Funny?’ and ‘Really? You’re Serious?’, but hey, I have to make do with what the news gives me.) Anyway, all you have to do to win this game is guess whether the following article is from the Onion, and therefore a snappy bit of satire, or from a traditional paper in which case it’s all too sincere.

So then, don’t be shy, step right up and play ‘RIDICULOUS: Intentional, or Embarrassingly Sincere?’ ....Read on and enjoy guessing.

11/05/08
The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace
What must our enemies be thinking?
Earlier this year, 12,000 people in San Francisco signed a petition in support of a proposition on a local ballot to rename an Oceanside sewage plant after George W. Bush. The proposition is only one example of the classless disrespect many Americans have shown the president.

According to recent Gallup polls, the president's average approval rating is below 30% -- down from his 90% approval in the wake of 9/11. Mr. Bush has endured relentless attacks from the left while facing abandonment from the right.

This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats and Republicans. During his 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, "Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."

Those bipartisan efforts have been met with crushing resistance from both political parties.

The president's original Supreme Court choice of Harriet Miers alarmed Republicans, while his final nomination of Samuel Alito angered Democrats. His solutions to reform the immigration system alienated traditional conservatives, while his refusal to retreat in Iraq has enraged liberals who have unrealistic expectations about the challenges we face there.

It seems that no matter what Mr. Bush does, he is blamed for everything. He remains despised by the left while continuously disappointing the right.


Yet it should seem obvious that many of our country's current problems either existed long before Mr. Bush ever came to office, or are beyond his control. Perhaps if Americans stopped being so divisive, and congressional leaders came together to work with the president on some of these problems, he would actually have had a fighting chance of solving them.


Like the president said in his 2004 victory speech, "We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America."

To be sure, Mr. Bush is not completely alone. His low approval ratings put him in the good company of former Democratic President Harry S. Truman, whose own approval rating sank to 22% shortly before he left office. Despite Mr. Truman's low numbers, a 2005 Wall Street Journal poll found that he was ranked the seventh most popular president in history.

Just as Americans have gained perspective on how challenging Truman's presidency was in the wake of World War II, our country will recognize the hardship President Bush faced these past eight years -- and how extraordinary it was that he accomplished what he did in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.

Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.

Ok now, if any of you bright-eyed youngsters guessed ‘Embarrassingly Sincere’, you’re right!
This bizarre little nugget of delusional commentary came to us courtesy of Jeffery Scott Shapiro
of the Wall Street Journal today. So, what do you win? Well mostly a good laugh, but also a
bright shiny new president, so there you go.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pony or posse. Whichever.



One of the nice things about thinking back to my childhood is that there are very few things I regret. Sure, I guess it would have been nice to have a pony, but since I was lucky enough to have the basics like food, clothes and parents who seemed to like me well enough, I really have nothing to complain about. See? I’m just a glass-half-full kinda guy.

That said however, I’m pretty sure it would have been a lot cooler to grow up with a posse in tow whose sole purpose would be to cheer and applaud my every move…. like Run’s kids have. How do I know this? Well, at the moment I’m at a skatepark called Dropin with my older boy and the place is crawling with cameras and production people shooting a segment for Run’s House in which his kids are kick-flipping and grinding the afternoon away.

Anyway, the point is that it’s just a little odd watching a pair of otherwise perfectly nice little kids being followed around by a production crew that seems to have only two purposes in life: filming everything they do and then clapping and cheering as if the emperor really does have clothes. Well, either way it sure looks like more fun than having a pony.

4

Monday, March 10, 2008

Critical Thinking.



The more I think about it the surer I am that I’ll probably end up retiring not to sunny Florida, but someplace civilized, like Costa Rica or the Spanish Mediterranean, or pretty much anyplace else but here. Why? Well, the reasons are more numerous than you might suppose, but there’s one in particular that old George articulates far better than I ever could, so:
-




So of course the most compelling reason for hitting the bricks even sooner is that I’m a dad with two able-bodied sons and a marked distaste for the neo-cons of whom middle-America seems so fond.

But as always, have a great day anyway. =:-P

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Perspective.





Hey look! A puppy! Awwwww, so sweet. I like puppies. They’re cute, they’re cuddly, and when they’re not busy whining or peeing they certainly do have a way of tugging at our collective heartstrings.

But here’s the thing about puppies. They’re not that cute, are they? Now certainly, what that marine did was pretty awful, but in the scheme of things does this story really rate the level of attention and outrage that it seems to be generating? Shouldn’t we be a little more worried about the human carnage being created daily by the untenable situation in which we’ve trapped our troops? I just find it baffling that day in and day out there are countless innocent people suffering through the spectacular chaos of our misbegotten foreign adventures, and yet as I sit here looking at today’s headlines it’s the puppy that has everyone’s panties in a bunch.

Well, truthfully I guess I’m not all that baffled. It’s just easier to worry about puppies and the legal fate of a single marine than to think through the ramifications of what’s happening in the big picture, isn’t it? It’s just human nature to be so easily distract… Hey! Is that a kitten? Awwww, looka da cute kitten…

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Geeks Rock.





I
guess I could have named this post “wordless Wednesday”… except that now it’s not.

Anyway enjoy the video, and feel free to Google any of the following terms if you think it will help: ‘Portal’ ‘Coulton’ ‘twit’ ‘Belmont’ ‘Mann’.

Have a great day.



Jonathan Coulton performs "Still Alive" in Rock Band from Joy Stiq on Vimeo.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Purgatory. Sort of.



One of the fun things about being me is that I’m reminded on a regular basis that there are very few things about which I’m entirely certain. Really, there are a lot of basic everyday things that I probably should know about but don’t. Why, for instance, do old people smell like that? Why is every guy named Chad a knucklehead? Why do people like ferrets? I dunno.

On the other hand, the good news is that as I get older there’s also a growing list of things about which I am very certain. Again, basic everyday things, like that playing poker is not going to make you rich, Britney Spears will never be interesting, and hanging out in a public library during the middle of the day is uncomfortably weird.

Yeah, so about the library thing. In the middle of the day it’s mostly full of people with reasonable excuses to be here: moms with little kids, old retired guys who natter on endlessly with the Rasputin-bearded-reference-desk-guy, and middle aged women trickling through with armloads of Nora Roberts novels. I, however, am one of a small number of apparently able bodied, pre-retirement age males who are here also. So what are they doing here? It would make sense if they were homeless, crazy or both, but I don’t think they are so they just give me the willies.

I, on the other hand, have a perfectly good reason for hanging our here. Really. We’ve been renovating our house since early December and the library is pretty much the only place I have left to hide from all the hammering, banging and general caterwauling that seems necessary for construction. It’s actually a lot like a living in a frat house where it’s perpetually Friday night, except the floors aren’t quite as sticky.

So anyway, despite the fact that my days are also filled with a lot of other domestic-y chores, this is where I inevitably find myself by the end of the day. Me, the Rasputin-bearded-reference-desk-guy and all these other guys with nowhere else to go. It’s actually kind of like purgatory, except it’s quiet and the bathroom is clean. Oh yeah, and the WiFi is free, so I can keep posting this nonsense.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Filed under: "Things You Already Know"



Without any preamble, lets just say that there are times when parenting can be really tough. Sure, there are all the wonderful moments filled with first steps, Christmas pageants and bedtime stories, but as any stay-at-home-parent can tell you, being at home with your progeny is no picnic. Well, actually it is kind of like a picnic sometimes, but just on a really hot day when it’s crowded, the mosquitoes are out, and there’s sand in your lunch. That kind of picnic.

Anyway, that said, there’s really no need to get discouraged, because as bad a day as you may be having, you’re still a better parent than Tina Williams. Yeah, you already know all about her because she and her beer have been the darlings of the last two news cycles, but still, I think most people are missing the point: that she makes the rest of us look like the best parents ever. Thanks Tina!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

BeatBearing project.

,
Dunno why, exactly, but it's cool and I want one. Just 'cause.
,

,

"Peter Bennett, a PhD student at the Sonic Arts Research Center in Belfast, made this sequencer that you program with ball bearings. It has four tracks: kick, snare, hi-hat, and cowbell."

Whatever. I still want one. (And My birthday's coming up. Just saying.)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Take a deep breath...




Although there are those who would disagree, we here in the Northeast are really no different than the rest of the nation. We have traditions that we hold as dear as anyone; we shiver through little league games in the spring, we grill way more beef than is actually good for us in the summer, and we spend our crisp autumn afternoons raking leaves while being serenaded by the ear-splitting roar of our neighbors leaf blowers. You know, Americana at its prosaic finest.

The winter though, provides an annual activity that’s even more stultifyingly banal: the “oooh-they-say-it’s-going-to-snow-but-we-don’t-know-how-much- -so-lets-all-speculate-ourselves-into-a-flather-over-nothing” tradition. Which, as of this very Sunday morning, has been going on for days. And days and days.

Well, here’s my response to the all the Chicken Littles out there, both of the professional meteorological and amateur variety: Tonight, it will get dark. Then it will snow a little bit. Tomorrow I will shovel that snow (while being serenaded by the ear-splitting roar of my neighbor’s snow blowers), and then I will have some hot chocolate and some lunch. And that’s all that’s going to happen. (Now granted, this prediction is based more on demonstrable experience than irrational hysteria, but I guess that’s just how I roll.)

So in short, if you feel that you may be one of those people prone to getting the vapors and creating drama over things you can’t control, please do us all a favor and save all that energy for something really weighty that’s also out of your hands. You know, like presidential elections or the Rapture; something idiotic like that. Thanks.


Addendum: Monday 1/14, 11:50 a.m.

So after all that, this is a picture of the “snow” we got from last night’s “storm.”

I just knew my chosen profession should have been meteorology, since it seems that neither competence nor accountability are required. =Grrrrr...

=

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Waaaaaaa...



Ok, I don’t really have anything to say, it’s just that I stumbled across this picture this morning and I love it too much not to share.


(Although I suppose it does go perfectly with what O’Reilly had to say about his latest Obama kerfuffle:, “No one on this earth is going to block a shot on The O’Reilly Factor.” ,The whole earth?, Really?)


Anyhoo, enjoy, and have a nice day.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

An open letter to everyone who made a New Year's resolution to get healthy:



Hi. ,How are you? ,Good. ,So, it’s nice and all that you’ve decided that this is the year that you’re going to lose weight and get healthy. ,Yes yes, I know, you all want to look better and feel fit. I understand. But here’s the thing…, why did you have to join my gym?

I mean heck, not only are your extra cars making parking a freakin' ,hassle, but now most of the Arc Trainers are taken in front of the good TVs. ,How, I ask you, am I supposed to do three miles without the History Channel? ,No no, I can’t just “move to the treadmills,”, because over there is the television-land ghetto in which the only choices are Fox News and perpetual reruns of Becker on TBS. ,Blech.

So, yes, you stood there on New Year’s Eve with a flute full of champagne and a forebrain full of good intentions, but now it’s time to let all that go. You know you want to. It’s hard to stay motivated to get to the gym all the time. And it is, after all, time consuming, a lot of work and kind of boring. Well, more so if you have to watch Becker, but you know what I mean.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I want you to remain the lazy sack of cheese that you are, ,per se... ,it’s just that I think you need to decide if my gym is really right for you. You could, after all, just stop being a tightwad like me and join the New York Sports Club right across the street. I’ll bet they have fancier bottled water. And their scale probably works too. Just a friendly suggestion.

Oh what the hell... ,go for it, I guess. If you really are ready, then more power to you. I suppose it won’t kill me to make an extra circle or two around the lot.