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


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.

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.