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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Surviving the Holidays Part I

We have survived Xmas, Hanukah and the onslaught of the inlaws (I get inlaws and inlaws’ inlaws). K’s brother visited for all of last week, along with his wife and son. They stayed with the DMIL. However, since Big brudder inlaw’s wife’s family all live in town, they were treated to that joy of balancing their time and presence between the two families. They looked pretty tired by the time they left on Sunday. We were able to ease some of that strain by having both tribes at DMIL’s house a three evenings. We had everyone together the night they arrived and for dinner on Xmas ( more about that later). We also had everyone over for the feast of Saint Glutton.

Never heard of the feast of St. Glutton? Neither did I, but it seems to occur the evening of December 24. Here’s how it works. One of the brudder in law’s most endearing qualities is his generosity, which he loves to express through food (and I mean generous food). He and his son went grocery shopping and prepared a dinner at home. Dad made lamb chops on the grill (and I helped), while son cooked a sauce made of cream, wine and a few fine cheeses, which they served over that posh type of ravioli you can buy at whole foods. We cooked about three chops per person and according to the labels, the ravioli should have covered about 1 ½ main courses each. We are all still working on the leftovers. By the way, I found the unintentional symbolism of lamb on Xmas eve to be moderately amusing. At least we didn’t have baby vegetables.

We (just the inlaws and I, not the inlaws’ inlaws) opened gifts later on Xmas eve. That’s convenient, since it gives us something to do while K and I wait until it’s late enough for K to leave for midnight mass. I went to midnight mass once. The music was nice, but otherwise it was the same show you can get at a much more convenient time on Sunday.

Santa, in the disguise of DMIL, gave me a digital camera. Sweet! You can expect a more self-involved blog from now on.

On to Xmas day. Most of the day was spent fretting and setting up a big dinner at DMIL’s house. We had about twelve or fourteen for dinner. Brudder inlaw likes to make prime rib for these occasions, so DMIL ordered a roast from a local butcher. She asked for the largest prime rib they could get, which was probably a mistake. We cooked a 23 pound roast for twelve people, including two women over 85 years old, and a gustatory wimp (me). Lots more leftovers there. Here’s a picture of the charred behemoth. It came out perfectly, like always. At this moment, I am making soup from the seven ribs that cradled the roast.

One of the inlaws’ inlaws gave us the highlight of the evening, when he played a couple of songs on his guitar. This guy is a senior in High School and a pretty nice kid. He is also great at music. He does well in math class, so he’s OK in my book.

Last Friday night, we had some of the visiting folks’ friends at DMIL’s place. More leftovers. Looks like our meat based diet will last at least into the new year.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shoe Your Love for for George

I just watched the official White House Holiday Video. If this is the best these clowns can do with new technology, no wonder the evil overlord and his minions couldn't win an election. This sucks like no video has sucked before. What disturbs me the most, is that after watching it twice, it seems apparent to me that that the video's authors (and no doubt their masters) have not had an original thought in the last 40 years. Let's face it, Bob Hope might have produced the same video in 1965, however his would've tickled us with his unique warm and gentle style of humor. Neither warmth nor humor can escape the from black hole that is the Bush White House. This video, according to the Geneva Conventions (remember that quaint little old document?) is classified as torture.

I just received a quick comment from Hangininsac's learned correspondent,Dr Samuel Johnson; Apparently, patriotism is the second to last refuge of cowards. I am humbly corrected to see that pets are the final refuge, who could have known?

Well, after watching the video twice for my review, I just can't seem to keep my shoes on.

If you also have that feeling, I suggest you play the Sock and Awe game. I scored 10 hits, and I wasn't even beaten by security guards! Awesome!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Guess Who's Joined the Xmas Resistance Movement?

Me! On Reality TV!!!!!

The One-Minute Writer: Today's Writing Prompt: Reality TV

I would appear in a reality show targeted at finding America's greatest slacker. Although "greatest slacker" is an oxymoron, and the show would have abysmal ratings, I think that's the only category where I would have a chance of winning.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We are Here to Praise the Dead

The One-Minute Writer: Today's Writing Prompt: Influence

My advisor in grad school had a great influence on my life, although I didn't see that until his funeral when I was about 47 years old.

From his influence I gained an ethical approach to business that has been invaluable.

Although it was not apparent to me, I believe his interest in early music has helped lead me to a great hobby career as a recorder player and recorder society president.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The British Lapland Controversy Endures

You may recall the breaking report from Britain's lapland previously,which first you read about here.

From a quick review of letters to The Sun,it looks like the controversy isn't slowing down.

Eliko,from town unspecified in the UK said,

'It's about time somebody punched that 'Old Goat' on the chin, I have waited patiently for years (since I was eight years old) and he suddenly stopped coming down MY chimney.

NOW, he expects us to pay him to go and see him, what's up with him ?, if he doesn't want to give us presents he should say so.

DJK from Australia brings upan interesting point about trademarks, 'Santa needs trademark protection. Imagine if they tried to open up Nike World instead ?"

Far as I'm concerned, he can stuff 'em !.'

In reference to the folks who slugged Santa, Ooomorgan from Wales said,'Someone's mummy and daddy are on the naughty list this year."

I found the best jounalistic follow up in The London Times. I quote directly;

Visitors who had paid up to £30 each for tickets to a 'Christmas Wonderland' in the New Forest were turned away yesterday by a woman shrieking: 'Santa's dead.'

Yep,Santa's dead. And remember, you heard it first in Uncle Rupert's rag.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Never Fear, the Guvmint’s Here

As we all await some new Federal action to modify more troubled mortgages, let’s look at the mortgages that have already been modified. The Comptroller of the currency has already taken that look for us, and it lookses nasty, precious. About one half of the modified loans are going bad by 6months. It hurts us,precious,ti hurts us!

Here’s the comptroller’s spin:

‘Comptroller Dugan Highlights Re-default Rates on Modified Loans
WASHINGTON — Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan said today that new data shows that more than half of loans modified in the first quarter of 2008 fell delinquent within six months.
“After three months, nearly 36 percent of the borrowers had re-defaulted by being more than 30 days past due. After six months, the rate was nearly 53 percent, and after eight months, 58 percent,” the Comptroller said in remarks at the Office of Thrift Supervision’s National Housing Forum today.
Mr. Dugan spoke during a panel discussion with OTS Director John Reich, Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairman Donald Kohn, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart.
A key question, Mr. Dugan said, is why is the number of re-defaults so high? Is it because the modifications did not reduce monthly payments enough to be truly affordable to the borrowers? Is it because consumers replaced lower mortgage payments with increased credit card debt? Is it because the mortgages were so badly underwritten that the borrowers simply could not afford them, even with reduced monthly payments? Or is it a combination of these and other factors? ‘
Since even the Comptroller claims to not understand what this means, I can admit with a clear conscience that I am flummoxed, too. However, it could be that the modified loans are underwritten equally as well as the original loans? Tricksy banksers!

The Comptrol dude issued this cool graph. I imagine if googles searches ‘graphic sucking’ this is what they might see.You can click on the image to make it big enough to read.

That's my story and I'm sticking ot it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

For John Milton’s 400th Birthday

Four hundred years before this day, twelve nine,
A man was born to write of heav’n and hell.
John Milton, Poet of Puritan revolt,
Invented Satan’s fall from Grace to Hell.

A protestant whose myth survived the years,
A story told by nuns of Irish birth .
The Cath’lic view of Heav’n and Hell derived
From myth that hints at ills of Popes and Kings.

John Milton was born December 9,1608, thus spake Wikipedia.
Remember folks, you read it here first.

I don’t understand what happened to the parades and fireworks I was expecting. It must be the economy.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Single Mothers of Infants, Get to Work, Dammit!

The Guardian reports the UK's Work and Pension Secretary is demanding that parents on the dole must be prepared to work or face dole reductions. The kicker is that the proposal would apply to single parents with children as young as one.

The Idler points out a poignant comparison (Thanks to Tom Hodgekinson):

The UK's DWP official said:

'Sanctions would only apply to those who refuse to take steps to be job-ready that have been jointly agreed with their personal advisers in Job Centres.'

In a classic example of the originality of British Civil servants,we can see from whose larger government regulation the DWP has copied work:

The problem?

'Work-shy elements within the meaning of this order are men who are old enough to work and who have recently been certified fit and who can be proved to have rejected offers of work on two occasions without just cause or have accepted work only to abandon it again shortly afterwards without adequate reason.'

The solution?

'All protective custody prisoners will be sent to concentration camp Buchenwald near Weimar.'

The date of this announcement? 1938. The author? Heinrich Himmler.

The moral of the story?

Watch out, people. It’s during times of economic collapse that bits of authoritarian legislation tend to get sneaked through.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

British Public Attacks Santa


I take this quotation straight from the BBC:

'Santa got attacked, one of the elves got smacked in the face and pushed into a pram.'

This is actually one small installment of the saga of a fly by night theme park that is so bad even the British noticed. Check out the nativity scene.

The Sun, surely the paragon of British Journalism (and pretty girls with bigguns) Exclaims, 'It's Slapland!'

Might this be the start breakthrough the Christmas Rovolution Movement has been awaiting? Only time will tell. Until then,I say bah Humbug!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Our Month of Music

December is the month of music in our house. Between Kathleen and me, we have at least five concerts I can think of, and probably some more I am forgetting about.

The Sacramento Concert Band is playing tonight at Christ Community Church tonight at 7:00. The first half of our concert will be normal music, followed by a short intermission and the obligatory set of Holiday music (really just Xmas and Hanukah). The church is willing to lend us their facilities in return for our requesting food drive donations. As the band’s stage manager, I am very grateful to the church. This is a giant church with great facilities and unbelievable organization that makes my job a lot easier. They have even promoted our concert to their gigantic membership. Without that kind of help, we would likely end up with an audience smaller than the band.

Hopefully we’ll be able to project the animated segment from Allegro Non Troppo for Sibelus’s Valse Triste. This is a very sad and beautiful work of art, and, a rather strong yet subtile anti-war statement. This is good enough that I’ve embedded the youtube video here.

No guarantees that we will be able to show the video, since in addition to the projecting the visuals, we’ll need to set up the click track for our conductor. The church people are pretty confident that we’ll be able to pull this off.

We will repeat the same concert, without the video on Monday, December 8 at the Winterstien Adult Education Center.

This Saturday, December 6, Sine Nomine, my recorder consort, will play between 12:00 and 1:00 PM at the Grand Opening of the New Public Library in Elk Grove. Elk Grove has needed this library for years, and I am happy to be a part of this. I will try to remember to bring a camera and take some pictures. I might even write an article for the American Recorder Society magazine! I’ll be sure to post the article here. Since almost all our music comes from the 14th through 18th centuries, it sounds like Xmas music to our audience. We actually aren’t playing any uniquely holiday pieces.

K’s choir, Schola Cantorum, will give concerts on December 20 and 21 at Sacred Heart Church, and they’ll provide their traditional music before and during Sacred Heart’s Midnight Mass. I usually skip the Midnight Mass, since it runs pretty late.

How much fun can two mediocre musicians have in one month?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Furthxr Dirxction From Zxyxn, our Alixn Lxadxr.

Xrthlings! Obxy Thxsx Ordxrs or I will crush your prxcious xconomy.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm Praying to the Aliens

I have been recieving mysterious messages. Yet another alien that those darned Homeland Security cops must've let through.

Mxssagx From Your Lxadxr

Xarthlings, I havx arrivxd from thx Planxt Cxrxs. Hxxd my commandmxnts:

I am zxyxn,prxfxct of the Omxga quadrant and you shall havx no othxr law giving alixns bxforx mx. All humans shall hxrxtoforx sxrvx mx or facx nuggixs.

Thou shalt not takx my namx in vain. Though shalt takx by mouth, and no morx than four timxs xach day.

Thou shalt not witnxss falsx bxars by my namx, lxst thx bxar bx lxft witlxss.

Rxmxmbxr thx absinthx, and drink of it hxartily, for absinthx dost makx thx hxart grow foggixr.

Honor thy mothxr and fathxr, bxcausx I said so, that’s all thx rxason thou nxxdxst. Undxrstand?

Thou art not krill. Thou nxxdst not swim in polar sxas nor fxar whalxs.

Thou shall not commit adultxry, thosx who transgrxss this commandmxnt may bx forcxd to try a duxl, for what good is a commandmxnt without an anagram.

Though shall not Stxphxn Covxy, nor shall thou worship any falsx mxthod of sxlf hxlp. Thou shall not adhxrx to thx sxvxn practicxs of sucknxss.

Rxsistancx is futilx, you will bx assimilatxd.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This is both sad and funny.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Latest Financial News

WASHINGTON – Democratic leaders in Congress sidetracked legislation to bail out the auto industry Thursday and demanded the Big Three develop a plan assuring the money would make them economically viable.

Ummmmmmm,errrrrrr,AIG's business plan,please?

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The End of the World as We Know It

I feel fine.

song chart memes
more music charts

Hey Moron Church, thanks for saving the world.

Latest Financial News From the Intertubes to You

Remember,you heard it here first.


*Moody’s upgrade Somali Pirates to AAA

The Hangininsac index has increased SomaliPirates rating to extreme buy. And imagine, just a short twenty years ago,these guys were into a subsistance fishing gig. Corporate funded fishing fleets fished their local waters into extinction, and they found an alternative livelyhood in piracy, where they could leverage their superior knowledge of the local seas.

This is in no way intended to present an object lesson in environmental stewardship.

BTW,we are seeing "Pirates of Penzance" at the local opera Sunday. Talk about timing!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, November 17, 2008


This came from Saturday Night Live earlier this year. I laughed so hard I almost hurled.

Coming to a planet near you. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Mr. Feynman Surely Must Have Been Joking

Who can't love a Nobel Physicist who wrote an autobiography called, 'Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!'

I’ve been reading a rather dry biography of Feynman, which I don’t recommend, but that has lead me to look up some of Feynman’s gems. Although he died 20 years ago, his insights still seem relevant. Besides, who can’t love a bongo playing Nobel Prizewinning physicist.

When asked to explain the work that won his Nobel Prize, he told People Magazine, ‘If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn't have been worth the Nobel Prize’.

On his deeply held Cold War fears of nuclear annihilation. ‘I would see people building a bridge, or they'd be making a new road, and I thought, they're crazy, they just don't understand, they don't understand. Why are they making new things? It's so useless.’

Feynman was the only person to directly view the Trinity test near Los Alamos. He refused to wear protective goggles, he simply sat in a truck and looked through the windshield, because he is a complete nut.

On the proper place of economics in the universe; ‘There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.’

From his press conference as part of the NASA Commission studying the first Space Shuttle failure; ‘For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.’ I remember this press conference on TV. Feynman brought in a model of the now recognized O-ring, soaked it in a glass of ice water, and showed the world that the insulating material fails at near-freezing temperatures.

On intellectual honesty; ‘The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool.’

On the value of experimentation; ‘It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.’ Feynman would be up in arms if he had lived to see String Theory, which has no experimental evidence in its support, bring physics to a state of irrelevance.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Post Election Blessings for Your Friday

Barack atah Illinois Elohenu melech ha'olam, hoo-ray p'ri ha-electoral

You can see that this was foretold: The original versions

the Blessing for wine:

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe

(if using wine or grape juice)

borei p'ri hagafen (Amein)
Who creates the fruit of the vine (Amen)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Back to Old Style Humor?

I found a bunch of jokes on The Simple Living Network's discussion Forums.

Heeeeeeere we Go!

When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her someplace, I took her to a gas station......
And that is when the fight started....

I tried to talk my wife into buying a case of Miller Light for $14.95. Instead, she bought a jar of cold cream for $7.95. I told her The beer would make her look better at night than the cold cream. And that's when the fight started....

After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social Security . The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver's license to verify my age. I
looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later. The woman said, 'Unbutton your shirt'.. So I opened my shirt revealing my cur ly silver hair. She said, That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me' and she processed my Social Security application . When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office. She said, 'You should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten disability, too.
And that's when the fight started.....

My husband and I were sitting at a table at my high school reunion, and I kept staring at a drunken man swigging his drink as he sat alone at a nearby table. My husband asked, 'Do you know him?' 'Yes,' I sighed, 'He's my old boyfriend. I understand he took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear he hasn't been sober since.' 'My God!' says my husband, 'Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?'
And that's when the fight started....

I rear-ended a car this morning. So, there we were alongside the road and slowly the other driver got out of his car. You know how sometimes you just get soooo stressed and little things just seem funny? Yeah, well I couldn't believe it.... he was a DWARF!!! He stormed over to my car, looked up at me, and shouted, 'I AM NOT HAPPY!!!' So, I looked down at him and said, 'Well, then which one are you?'
And that's when the fight started.........

I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, took my order first. 'I'll have the strip steak, medium rare, please.' He said, 'Aren't you worried about the mad cow?' 'Nah, she can order for herself.'
And that's how the fight started.

What amazed me is that although these jokes sound like they com from the 1950s,from a Henny Youngman type of comic, I thought they were mildly funny. Oy Vey!

I don't know where these jokes started, but if I've seen them, they have probably been all over the intertubes by now. Old jokes don't die, they don't even fade away, deal with it.

That's mys story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, November 07, 2008

My South Park Cameo

Now everyone knows what I did last Tuesday. South park has jumped on the Reality TV bandwagon. They filmed the first reality segment at my house about 9:00 last Tuesday night.
Through the miracle of modern technology,I was digitally morphed into Mr Marsh and K appeared in the guise of Mr. Brataslowski. Our identities were protected. It's embarassing to watch, but it is a comlpetely accurate representation of actual events.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Last Week in Two Minutes

I liked something about this video.


That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


So, who's a "Real American" now? I AM,DAMMIT! No more stale, rotten left-over culture wars. The voters said we're done with that. Time to look toward the future.

On the mundane side, I love having a skinny intellectual president. That's a bonus.

McCain's very eloquent Speech came on the radio as I was driving home from teaching, through what was,until yesterday, staunchly Republican conservative territory (the home of shamed Rep. John ‘deep doo’ Doolittle). I totally lost it, and drove home with the windows open and horn honking, stopping several times to share the news with pedestrians at lights and bus stops. Tears of joy, there were actually tears everywhere.

BTW - that is the best speech I've heard from McCain in a long time. Sounds like he's already quit drinking the Kool-Aid. I am glad he has three years left in the Senate. I always liked him, but he seems to have fallen in with a bad crowd lately. Perhaps he'll dig deep and find his true self once again.

"My Dad’s comment last night was the best I heard. He and my Mom called my sister at 10pm after it was called for Obama, and he said 'If any of the people I knew in Virginia are still alive, they just died'.'

That'smy story and I'm sticking to it

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Time for a Cheap laugh

This is too good not to share.

Harry Potter, jk rowling, composer, Dimitri Shostakovich
see famous look-a-like faces

Both these guys have been known to wave sticks around. Conincidence or conspiracy,you decide. Must be some kind of Stalinist plot.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Strange Forum for a Serious Message

'Don't Speak for me, Sarah Palin'

Singing hockey moms with Moose accompainists for Obama. Finally,there is a use for Andrew Lloyd Webber.

My favorite lyrics

"Don't speak for me Sarah palin
The truth is I do not like you"

'My kid plays hockey,
I wear lipstick,
but I still think You're a dipstick"

All Right Now Dammit, Team - The time to talk is about over,let's go out and win this one,Dammit. The world is depending on us, Dammit. We are, as the Cristoconservatives say, the city on the hill. That means everyone is watching and we have to do the right thing,Dammit. Choose hope over fear, choose life. Let those who drink the koolaid take their rightful place in the dustbin of history.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rain, and Time to Complain about the Government

It rained last night! We haven’t seen more than a drizzle since January, which is unusual even for Sacramento. We usually expect to get less than ¼ inch of rain in total from May through September, but January and February are usually wet months. Although the official stats show rainfall under ¼ inch yesterday, it seemed like a deluge. It’s easy to get accustomed to life without rain.

We are forecast for rain on and off through Monday, with the most rain expected Saturday and Sunday (of course). Snow above 5,000 feet is expected for the Sierras.

Man O Manischewitz, the roads were slippery last night. There’s nothing like a little water sprinkled on none months worth of leaked oil to make driving more fun. I actually skidded away from a red light. The cop in the car in the next lane got a good laugh out of it. I could see him laughing in the light of the computer screen.

It looks like the rain will stop just in time for Election Day, so the water-soluble block will be well represented at the polls. As of late, I have more or less tuned out campaign news. At this point, IMHO, both candidates are sounding like fools. I hope the winner wises up after the election. The rhetoric of late brings out the small but present grain of old-fashioned conservatism from deep within the dark recesses of my mind. I hear both candidates promising they will make the economy sound; McCain promises he will bring the domestic automobile industry back to its former position of global dominance (Dude, WTF?),while Obama claims he will re-invigorate the economy by creating cool new industries like better energy. Last time I checked, presidents don’t run industries. For all our sakes, I hope these guys don’t believe the basura they are spewing. Maybe the rigors of the campaign trail have stressed them beyond the point of rationality.

My somewhat conservative tiny grain causes me to worry when people are willing to accept that he Government will make a great economy for us. I believe that Government has a vital role to play in solving the problems that we are facing these days. However, I do not believe that the Government can provide us (We The People, WTP) with solutions to the social and economic problems we need to face in the next several years. In my (admittedly warped) view of the world, I see Government as a lens that focuses the energies of the nation in constructive ways. I don’t see the Government producing prosperity through its programs and actions. Rather, I see Government as an agent that can, when enlightened, steer the ship in a way that WTP’s efforts contribute toward a desirable future.

I guess this means my universe doesn’t grant free lunches (hey, NFL = No Free Lunches, cool). In my gimlet eyes, the approaches currently in action and consideration for getting us out of this economic hole are like someone stuck in a hole digging deeper. I have a hard time believing that increasing debt is the best way to resolve a debt crisis, particularly when debt is used to spend money in a way that won’t directly impact the cause of our most immediate credit crisis, upside down mortgages, or increase productivity.

Now that I’ve given my opinion about what isn’t the right answer, I am sorry to admit I don’t have a better answer beyond the advice that starting another war and/or continuing our unimaginable level of military spending will probably not help.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Everything is All My Fault - A Distopic Near Future

I Promise to do my duty for My Country. This will not happen.
My Fellow Americans,please join me in my solemn oath.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

All This and Larry Flint,Too Aaarrrggghhhhhh!

Oh My Gayd, Oh My Gaud, Oh My Gaud!

The river of bullshit never stops. Especially on this blog.

The Script to Larry Flint’s soon-to-be-released Who’s Nailin Palin has surreptitiously found its way on to the internet. When I first saw this script, I had no idea what I was looking at.

Unfortunately, this appears to be more than the usual internet hoax. The Guardian is carrying the story as well. Limp Uncle Larry released a one minute preview, however Youtube has removed it. So sorry guys, this still is all you get to see for now.

I read a few pages of the script, and rest assured, it sucks, in every meaning of the word.

From looking at some other articles, I think a good rule to go by is to never piss off Larry Flint. Seriously, don’t even let your sleazy friends piss this guy off.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Lighter Side of Identity Politics

Baraech O'Bamaugh is the most Irish Presidential candidate since JFK! This musical explanation is a hoot!

That settles it for my family. K can identify with the Irishness,and I can still identify with the midwestern mom thing,not to mention the skinny thing.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Opie Talks About Hope & Courage

Ron Opie Tailer Richie Cunningham Howard is my new hero.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

I found the Andy and Opie segment has a message we don't hear clearly enough from our own so-called leaders, that the future belongs to the courageous.

Nations whose actions are guided by their highest aspirations will act to realize those aspirations. Those guided by fear are doomed to realize all they fear.

It's your choice. Choose Life, Choose Hope.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The New Star Trek Movie - Gotta Dish

This film is an epic voyage that will suck where no movie has sucked before.

Here's the evidence.

I can't put my finger on it,but something about this still tells me to wait until it is available on Netflix, buy a sixpack,and laugh our asses off while we create campy dialogue. Is it just me, or does Captain Kirk look like he walked off the set of American Idol?

Further, the Official Trailer tantalizes us with images of guys doing arc welds. Does using 1930s manual welding technology on the hull of a vessel that will soon travel faster than the speed of light really make sense? This is perhaps an indication of the amount of thought that went into this enterprize (get the pun,huh, huh?). What is it about Science Fiction movies that bring out the morons?

Speaking of Kap'n Kirk,check out this performance by Shatner,who appears to be taking up the role of the guy who never gets invited anywhere (like to appear in this movie). After listening to this, I think I know why.

Captain's log,Stardate 112408, That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Local Sports Pandering & Other Moronics

I am sick to the gills of the odor of donkey and elephant poo. Baseball is the only thing I've watched on the glass teat for a coupleof weaks, but I'm reaching my limit. The Nation Wide Chowderhead Density (NWCD)has gone far beyond the safety limits. Warning, this country is not safe to operate under current conditions.

John Stuart did this great bit about the lowest of the low - both canpaigns are pandering to local sports fans. They all say GO PHILLIES, GO RAYS. I say,
Why don't you all GO FISHING and leave the rest of us alone

On an unrelated note, I must confess that my complete,100% antagonism topward Gov Palin has been shaken. I have fallen to the depths of identity politics. Turns out both of us are crappy woodwind players! Watch Sarah play Come-to-Jesus-in-halfnotes, complete with crappy intonation. WARNING - do not view the following video on an empty stomach.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. GO (insert local team name here)!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Consistent Wisdom of Experience

Another example John McCain's brilliant and experienced insight.

Do as I say,not as I do,sez the Senator. Better yet,sign on a peabrained hottie to do it for you.

That's my stroy and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Foreigners are Taking Jobs From Americans

Right here in Sacramento! I have proof!

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Staying at the Parents

If psychological regression is your thing, nothng's better better than a solo visit to your parents. It'll take thirty years off your emotional maturity in the wink of a teenage zit encrusted eye.

Anyway, Madison seems to be doing quite well without my presence. The parents live a couple of blocks from the house I owned here in the eighties. The house looks great, the new owners have added a new roof and done a great paint Job.

When I visit, I try to take a long walk at Picnic point every weekday morning. The fall colors are showing right now, so I picked the right time to visit. This link is a cool view of the area:

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Message to Wall Street

Sometimes brevity is wisdom.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Great Schlep

Well, it turns out my upcoming visit with the parents is aligned with a great political event. This video cracked me up. It's well worth watching.

Here's my response:

Oy vey,

Such a girl, a real sheyne, as pretty as any shiksa out there, then, oy gevalt, she opens up such a mouth on her, like some kind of gonnif! Such a foul mouth gets my schpilkus worked up. (Have I told you how my schpilkus is lately? Could be better, Oy, it should happen to that Iranian momzer,calls himself President, and forgets to use his necktie, such a Schlemeel!)

The Good Lord bless her loving Bubby and Zeda, she is not such a good girl making threats for her Bubby and Zeda.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Not to worry,I'll just sit here in the dark.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Now I Understand It

It was The Illuminati all along. Here's the proof.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Gimme a trillion dollars now,dammit!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Welcome to October

What better way to start the month of all hallows than an interview with India's Monkey Man.

Nothing captures the halloween spirit better than a guy crawling around in orange shorts,with a mask and tail. I bet he'd scare even more monkeys if someone bought him a Darth Cheney mask.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thomas Jefferson & Our Times

Poor President Jefferson must be wearing out his grave, from turning over so frequently.

Here's another quotation that speaks to our current times.

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin (1802)
3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)
I admit this applies in a somewhat subtile manner, but this is too good to keep to myself.

We hold this truth to be self-evident: That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I am killing time while a contractor is fixing the fence, what better time is there for blogging?

In times like these, what better bromide is there than hackneyed old adages?

Ah one, ah two, and here we go!

It’s the end of the world as we know it, I feel fine.

The hens have come home to roost.

Bears make money, bulls make money, and pigs get slaughtered.

If you can’t see the patsy sitting at the table, it’s you.

Poop rolls downhill.

Neither borrower nor lender be.

If it’s too good to be true, it isn’t true.

The mule’s second kick teaches you nothing.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Johnson & Boswell - Wisdom For Our Times

Boswell: I propose that America in this decade is the same as Russia in the 1980s.

Johnson: Russia had the brains to get out of Afghanistan when they went bankrupt. I refute it thusly. BahDing!

That's my story and I'm Sticking to it.

Spam You Can't Refuse

I found the emial copied below in my inbox Monday morning. I also found a glass of green koolaid sitting by my door. It was refreshing and delicious.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Here's the email.


Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship
with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country
has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of
800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it
would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my
replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you
may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation
movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need
the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these
funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly
under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for
a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the
funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund
account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission
for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will
respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used
to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully
Minister of Treasury Paulson

Monday, September 22, 2008

Listen to the Crow, Heed its Warning

This wise crow from Alaska has a message for us.

Although the crow speaks of only one candidate, we must apply its wisdom throughout the realm.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gnocchi! Easier to make than to spell!

I had an urge to make Gnocchi last night. These turned out to be easy and good,although they don't make a striking photo.

Two large russet potatoes
1 Egg
1 cup flour
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel and boil the potatoes until tender.
Drain and mash the potatoes in a mixing bowl.
Stir in the egg, salt, pepper and about ¾ of the flour.
Knead gently, adding flour as needed.
Roll into snakes, a la play dough, using flour to avoid stickiness.
Cut into 1 inch long segments.
Drop in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, until the gnocchi float.
Remove with a slotted spoon.

I served the gnocchi in bowls in a light broth:

Olive oil
Minced garlic
Chopped fresh parsley,or whatever herb flops your mop.
1 cup chicken bouillon

Sauté garlic and parsley in some olive oil.
Add the bouillon and heat until simmering.

Serve the gnocchi in bowls with the broth.

Bon appetite!

Kennin's Tomb

A highlight from those crazy Russians. Read the whole story below.

Friday, September 19, 2008

South Park versus Gorky Park

It looks like those South Park (pronounced syout pyark) kids have done it again!

Once again , we find the dictators, despots and secret policemen of our world coming up a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic basket in the humor department.

The story started early in September, when a group of Russian bible thumpers asked the Government to ban Syouth Pyark

The Government responded by effectively banning Syouth Pyark,on the grounds that it promotes immorality, suicide, and debauchery in general. They used to call stuff like this counterrevolutionary. Big change.

And now, the punchline.

Not to be left out of the conversation, the Dork Party has taken to the streets to protest, producing these weird images.

Gyive me Syouth Pyark,or give me death! (or, at least, kill Kenny).

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One Year of Slackerdom

I am nearing the anniversary of leaving my previous year of fulltime employment in Civil Service, after a year of fulltime consulting at a corporation. I can’t keep myself from looking back and weighing my life in this balance.

In the present moment, it feels like my life is in a holding pattern. I am not working on any great projects or toward any great achievement. I have taken up regular exercise, and I’m spending more time taking care of routine stuff and making music. I make just enough money tutoring on some weeknights that I am not a financial drain. I am President of a music society and a happy dude most of the time. People enjoy my company more these days, which is the best measure I have of my own happiness.

I left the fulltime gig without a concrete plan for the future. When I came to the opinion that staying on would make me a crook in my heart of hearts, bugging out for the dugout was the only reasonable option. Spending workdays engaged in dynamic inaction was more tiring than really working. I left betting that my creativity and other resources would be sufficient to develop a satisfying life, or at least more satisfying than working in a shady joint.

My original idea was to talk with folks in my field in the few local companies, and try to figure out some part time way of working. Before I got this effort started in earnest, the contacts got fired from the two local companies, in a couple of strange corporate bloodbaths. So far, all these guys except one are still more or less hanging out. The one guy who found work is now living in Singapore, his wife’s country of origin. All this baggage has dimmed my enthusiasm for getting actively back into the profession. However, I have kept my qualification and continuing professional education up to date.

Through the year, I have enjoyed doing morning yoga classes, going for a hike or bike ride in the wild areas near the river whenever I want to, doing the necessary shopping (mostly groceries) during the day when the stores are uncrowded, and butchers are willing to do custom work.

So I haven’t really done anything of note this year. I remind myself that the same was true for almost all the years when I was working fulltime. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just keep on going. I have a friend who looks at these times in light of ancient Egyptian history. Egypt had generations of dynasties that fill the centuries between the dynasties we view as great. Although not great, these dynasties were needed to hold civilization together between the great moments.

That being said, I am starting to feel it’s time to get off my backside, and expend more energy toward living a more interesting life. I have been warming myself at whatever fire I find near. Now it’s time to light my own fire. Step one is looking inward and outward to figure out what I am not doing now that I want to do. Burn Baby Burn!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mr. Sulu Gets Hitched

George Takei got married today,after about 20 years with his partner.

The LA Times’ Blog has this lovely short article,fo all us wanabees who weren't invited.

Note,on the utube video, Lt. Uhuru acting as an attendant. How cool is that?

I have trouble imagining anyone thinking this is a threat to their marriages, since I watched the entire video,and I felt absolutely no urges to dump the wife and run off with the guy next door. But I feel happy for Mr. Sulu.

However,we may see a majority of my fellow Californians vote a referendum (referendumb?) attempting to revive the previous ban against same sex marriages into law this November.

If there's a sucker born every minute, there's a jerk born every second.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bulletin Board Fodder for Unengaged Students

I just pounded this out using Powerpoint,the springboard of small minds everywhere.

This comes from The Joy of not Working, the world’s most constructive manual for slackers, written by Ernie Zelinski. Zelinski,at age 29,asked his boss in an engineering division of a Canadian public utility for three months time off,and was denied, as you would expect. Zelinski quit his job and vowed never to work full time again.

My motivation is that I see a consistent lack of engagement in my students,especially the boys. It doesn't concern me when kids aren't really engaged in their Math studies. After all,high school Algebra I is not the most seductive material in the universe. What does concern me is the passivity some kids seem to apply to every aspect of their lives. Thirteen is a rather young age for ennui to by the major force in life. Ergo, I attempt to influence (OK, I nag) via the bulletin board. I often posts clippings from comic strips, so the little lords and ladies actually look at the board.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Money Happiness and Deep Thoughts

This article in Slate about money, health and happiness spoke to me.

From life experience I could do without, I relate to the warning that money buys you happiness only up to your physical ability to enjoy your days. However,it certianly takes a lot of weak intellectual tripe to say what can be better said in only two words, Carpe Diem.

That's my mildly pathetic story, and I'm sticking to it.

More Chatter about The Dude

Where Hangininsac stops,the professional chattering class takes the baton and blathers on.

Slate Magazine jumps on the Hangininsac bandwagon today. Remember where you heard it first.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Importance of Careful Editing

Looks like them feriner hating Republicans have hired my copy editor!

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures

Winners and Losers – Follow the Money

Since the start of my years as big money world of consulting actuaries in the 1990s, I heard a constant stream of complaining by people in households earning well over $100,000 per year. The complaints were about people feeling poor. One actuary once confessed that “It’s too hard to raise two kids on $150,000 annual income”. It seemed so strange. What is going on here?

How do people decide if they are happy with the money they have? I recall that in the 1990’s someone at the University of Illinois did a study that that showed people in the upper middle class actually less happy with their financial status than people in the lower middle class. I am too lazy to find a citation, so trust me or don’t believe, I don’t care.

However, this interesting factoid comes from This source . This ain’t a primary source,but I am not digging further today.

Percentage of Americans who say they have achieved the American Dream:
Those earning less than $15,000 a year: 5%
Those earning more than $50,000 a year: 6%
I have heard similar observations elsewhere. In short, a lot of folks with more money don’t feel richer than folks scraping to get by. Could this be an expression of some kind of mass hysteria? I doubt it.

This picture tells the thousand word story:

Perhaps we Americans are a little into social climbing, ambitious for increasing our social status. If that’s the case, than we’d be rational to evaluate our well-being by looking at the next highest rooster in the picking order. The corporate drone in the cube asks how is he doing compared to the guy in the side office. The side office guy measures himself against the guy in the corner office, who grovels at the feet of the guys upstairs.
If that is the case, you can see how the gap between the upper reaches of the middle classes and the richest 20% has exploded in our lifetime. The most recent data I could find only runs up to 2001,when the federal Government got serious about supercharging more tax breaks for the rich. The gap has only gotten bigger.

Therefore, you must pity your poor boss, whose must suffer the indignity of working for a boss so rich he treats everybody like servants (trust me I’ve been there). I am tsk tsking as I write this.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Dude: A Hero for our Times

This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Big Lebowski’s release. Apparently the dude has become a cult figure, with midnight screenings in some local theaters replacing Rocky Horror Picture Show (that counts as a mercy killing in my book). What’s the big deal?

Jeff Bridges did an interview in Rolling Stone, and that subset of the chattering classes is going nuts about The Dude. After enduring season after season of action hero movies (c’mon, how many thousands of movies can be made from the same story arc?), where the toughest – shelled hardass always saves the world, The Dude takes a refreshing and more realistically approach to wearing the hero’s cloak. The dude abides. Iron Man just wraps himself up in a shell and blows everything up.

Back to The Dude. The Dude has the qualities we need to save America. I wish The Dude was running for president. I’m thinking Walter for Veep. Actually he somehow reminds me of Guvpalin. Some quotation’s from The Dude’s platform:

On getting tough on terrorists:

Donny: Are these the Nazis, Walter?
Walter Sobchak: No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of.

Note - the key that there's nothing to be afraid of.

On foreign policy:

Walter Sobchak: Whereas what we have here? A bunch of fig-eaters wearing towels on their heads, trying to find reverse in a Soviet tank. This is not a worthy adversary.

On the economy & foriegn policy:

The Big Lebowski: Are you employed, sir?
The Dude: Employed?
The Big Lebowski: You don't go out looking for a job dressed like that? On a weekday?
The Dude: Is this a... what day is this?
The Big Lebowski: Well, I do work sir, so if you don't mind...
The Dude: I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.

The Dude is willing to stand up (Okay, slouch on the couch) for America!

The Dude: Yeah, well. The Dude abides.
The Stranger: The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.

The Stranger: I guess that's the way the whole durned human comedy keeps perpetuatin' itself.

That’s my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Shanghai Noon in Sacramento

We went to Gold Rush Days in Old Sacramento this weekend. We do this almost every year, since it’s fun to see people dressed to the height of 1850’s fashions, horses and all the historical recreation stuff.. E_Clampus_Vitus , and mountain man types in general were conspicuously absent. No Indians, either. However, one of the musicians who played hurdy gurdy looked like a clamper to me (Drunk guy with a long beard).

Every time we have gone, we always get the story from someone from the Sacramento Chinese American Council. I don’t know why this keeps happening to us. It feels like we’d be rude to cut anyone short, because they all seem so nice. The guy who pulled us in this time is the author of the book this website is pushing. I didn’t realize that until I looked at the picture on the website. Modest guy, I guess.

I suspect we get drawn in because we look like we’re both either dentists or accountants. The Chinese seem to have an affinity for those professions sin these parts

The folks in the society must have a huge need to tell the story, which is actually pretty interesting. Anyway, they gave me some dried plum candies that weren’t bad.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Lighter Side of John Phillips Sousa

I have always thought of John Philip Sousa as a somewhat humorless character, the bearded guy in a military style uniform we see in his pictures. This is the guy who wrote, Hail to the flag of the free, may it wave as our standard forever, as the relatively idealistic and heavy lyrics to Stars and Stripes Forever , his most popular composition. Note his words do not include anything about ducks (attributed to Fred Allen). It’s also my favorite encore to play at band concerts, because it is a fun tune, and if you don’t get a standing ovation, you can be sure your band sucks. If you don’t have your own concert band, you can play Stars and Stripes forever on Activision’s Sousaphone Hero.

In his concert tours, Sousa’s favorite encore was a very funny March, The Roosters Lay Eggs in Kansas ,
written by his close friend Mahew Lake. This sounds like something Carl Stalling might have written for a Warner Brothers cartoon. Carl Fischer Publishing dug this out of their archives for release this year, and my band is playing it.

This tune is a hoot, and the band gets to sing. Here’s the lyrics:

The roosters lay eggs in Kansas
The roosters lay eggs in Kansas
The roosters lay eggs as big as beer kegs
The roosters lay eggs in Kansas

This seems so strange from a man who joined the U. S. Marines at age thirteen, believed his greatest composition was the result of Divine inspiration, and took it upon himself to be America’s Salesman in Europe.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Going to Wisconsin in October!

I hope I don't run into these guys...

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Obama pictures

Georgia's on my mind

And now for something completely the same.. .

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Obama pictures

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

OK, So I Haven’t Written for a Couple of Weeks

My life has not lately produced a flood of bloggable experiences. Therefore, I am forced to share my dorky experiences.

I finally fixed our dryer’s external lint trap and swept out the garage. The sweeping was more like landscaping than a normal cleaning job. I realized that I hadn’t swept the garage since 2003, plus the dryer has been leaking lint for the better part of the year.

I have been tutoring a couple of nights each week, and it looks like this will continue and hopefully increase now that all the darling children are back in school. Parental math anxiety has been heightened by a politically motivated mandate from California’s State Government that all eighth graders must pass algebra starting soon. This work of genius is the one of the best cases against State bureaucratic control of schools I have seen. Currently about ½ of eight graders take Algebra, and about one half of those pass. The other 1/2 can’t add fractions correctly over 1/2 the time. We need to teach arithmetic before we teach Algebra. However, I imagine the State Department of Something or Other will redefine Algebra as something easier. That’s what they have done for the High School Exit Examination , although they still can’t get nearly ¼ of the seniors to pass the test and graduate.\

I read 'Paradise Lost'. That is a very enjoyable read if you ever find yourself in the mood for blank verse iambic pentameter. I don’t know what that means, but everyone agrees 'Paradise Lost' was written that way. Between some rather bring musings, Paradise is a ripping yarn. I can’t believe no one has made the movie. Interestingly, there was no Satan, with the casting out of fallen angels, before Milton dreamed him up. Milton’s biography makes it even more interesting. Milton was a close insider in Cromwell’s revolution and regicide. After the restoration, Milton narrowly escaped the honor of trial followed by ye olde drawing and quartering. Of most interest is that a lot of religious education Kathleen received from her Irish Nun Parochial grammar school teachers originates with this English Protestant. I enjoyed Satan’s musings the most. Satan sounds just like every arrogant corporate executive. Anyway, I can’t wait for the occasion when I can say,’ Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven'. Notice the iambic pentameter. Cool.

I have been thinking about what kind of short story I could build out of Dante, Milton, and our California’s obsession with Algebra. Progress is slow and not promising.

Geezopete I gotta get a life.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Painless Peanut Sauce

Try this on pasta (preferably flat Chinese noodles) with some vegetables.

One measure peanut butter
Two measures broth
Pepper flakes or cayenne to taste

Nuke in the microwave, whisk until creamy, and stir in your noodles.

This whole thing takes about 2 or 3 minutes, so you can easily do it while noodles are cooking.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Why Music Matters

As we look forward to another season of our music, I want to take a little time for reflection on why we spend our evenings making music. In my family, we spend a total of about twelve hours in our music groups each week. Sometimes I wonder about the value of spending our time this way. After all, we’re missing out on all sorts of shared cultural experiences offered on TV.

I gained a different perspective on this question by looking east, to Estonia. The Estonians’ shared musical heritage, which involves almost all the population’s participation in large group singing festivals, was the spark that ignited their bloodless revolution after nearly 50 years of brutal Soviet occupation. The story of how music saved a nation is the subject of a recently released film, The Singing Revolution (

The Singing Revolution became an unstoppable force in September 1988, when 300,000 Estonians, about one quarter of the population, gathered at song a festival to share their musical heritage and openly address their dreams of independence. The rest is history.

For me, this is a reminder that it is in part through our shared culture that we preserve our vital freedom. We nurture our shared culture by participating in community music groups.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Steve Jobs and Pancreas Tumor Rumors

The financial media is abuzz this week with all sorts of speculation about Steve Job’s permanent health. In 1983 Jobs had a neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas and surgical treatment similar to mine. Jobs has discussed this publicly several times, reassuring investors that he was over this and everything was fine. Somehow, the business community managed to buy his story at face value for the past several years.

However, Jobs has appeared rather thin and gaunt (really thinner and gaunter than usual) at a couple of recent public appearances. This has lead to a flurry of internet rumors early this week, culminating in a 10% drop in Apple’s share price Monday night. The price appears to have recovered through Tuesday, no doubt enriching some day traders.

The rumors began by insinuating that Jobs’s weight loss might be related to the return of some cancer. Over Tuesday and early Wednesday, financial reporters and bloggers dug deeper and figured out that life is not a cake walk after this surgery. In particular, people have figured out this surgery can lead to digestive problems and related weight loss and fatigue.

Although I hate to see anybody, no matter how arrogant and smug they might be, have problems like mine, it is somehow comforting to be reminded that it’s not all in my head. That’s especially comforting after hearing Jobs insinuate for years that the surgery was no big deal for him.

As some Klingon Woman once said to Commander Riker; ”If you cannot stomach Kingon food, would you like me to nurse you?”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Jib Jab is Back in the Campaign!

I laughed all the way through this. Laughed so hard I almost cried.

Hillary's frying pan
McCain's battle tank
Obama's Unicorn.

Who could ask for anything more?

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Recorders Don't Get No Respect

This great example of rare Scandanavian humor might explain why.

Michala Petri is one of the world's leading recorder soloists,although after watching this, she appears more like a female Jack Benny.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The Actuary Song

There should be a law against something like this. Fortunately,being "off-broadway",we can rest assured we'll never hear of this again.

The Actuary Song - I Love You Because Off-Broadway Cast

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thank You, Congress

(Referring to the July 8th, 2008 vote on FISA legislation.)

That's my story,and ain't nobody left to fight for my right to tell it.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

And They Call The Left Coast Crazy

Cornhole is taking the Nation by storm!

I stumbled across a craze that I've been told is rocking the Midwest. Here's a promotional photo from the insidious promoters of this most oddly named craze. On their website, they flatly admit that their mission is to introduce their friends and neighbors to the game of Cornhole. Just the kind of friendly neighbors I've always wanted.

Apparently, Cornholing is about tossing beanbags or cornbags through a hole in a box. I like lawn games as much as the next guy, but I wouldn't be caught dead at a cornhole tournament. I get a physical exam every year,and that's enough for me.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


At the MIL’s pleading, we went to Best Buy to each pick up Our Government-subsidized FATASS (Federally Approved Television Antenna Signal Sorter). Peggy has two ancient TVs she doesn’t connect to the cable. They (the TVs, not the MIL) are both too old to be compatible.

What was strange about the Government coupons is that the coupons came with directions advising me that Wal-Mart is the nearest place for me to purchases my FATASS. Speaking of conspiracy theories, get this; the Federal Government is directing citizens to shop at Wal-Mart, WTF. This must have something to do with Hilarity Clinton and the Trilateral Ommission (Didn’t they record with Motown?). I’ve heard talk of an email chain going around suggesting that if Sen. Obama becomes President, we’ll see Hilarity seated as a Supreme Court Justice. I don’t know why, but this doesn’t scare me at all. It could possibly please me. AS long as I have totally strayed from the subject, it’s time for a...

Quick aside on our alternative lifestyle...

We don’t do cable here, however I admit to watching cable shows once or twice a week at the MIL’s place. We also share a Netflix subscription with our quirky neighbor,and we watch movies together a lot. I am OK with cable and netflix if they bring people together. By rocking against the corporate individualistic paradigm, we can consume the goods and still avoid the isolation that is part and parcel of the consumer experience in our corporate age. Oh yes, we can also maintain the smugness.

Getting back to the story...

I installed the FATASS, and I must say FATASS + HDTV + rabbit ears = total kick ass reception! Our reception for all the local channels is crystal clear. In addition, we get two extra channels from our local public TV station, and 24 hour news and weather program from two of the local network affiliates. If I knew I could get this before the official HDTV doomsday, I would have done this earlier. Now I can actually see all the local stations using my rabbit ears. Take that, Comcast!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Oh My Gawd Submariners Nelson & Crane!

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea!

You can watch all the episodes of that great 1960's TV classic right here on the internets. Alas, they have Battlestar Galactica, but no Star Trek. All brought to you by sponsors, with relatively short and infrequent adds.

This is soooo much easier than getting a life!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

That Was Cool, Heh Heh

While hanging with the inlaws by Santa Cruz,I had a chance to take "Mother-of-my-great niece-but-not-married-to-my-nephew-so-maybe-not-really-a-niece" to the boardwalk,with its old wooden rollercoaster. Check out the virtual and less nauseating experience.It totally kicked ass!. You may recognize this as where Darty harry shot the "do-you-feel-lucky-today-punk" in Sudden Impact.

We liked it so much we rode it twice (and didn't get shot even once). I finally found someone who goes for my cool uncle act!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Pledge

I pledge allegiance
to the malls
of the Ubiquitous States of Generica
and to the consumers,
for which it stands,
one culture,
with banality and conformity for all.

Credit to Prof. dmlaub2 who posts on the Simple Living network.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dante’s Inferno – A Trip to Hell with Two Poets

Somehow I woke up one morning with the inexplicable desire to read Christian allegories. I think this is a continuation of my compulsion to read books that people like to pretend they’ve read and use as sources for pseudo-intellectual references.

I’ve completed Hell, part one of the Divine Comedy, and I’m working my way through Part 2, Purgatory. Since this book has been notated, analyzed and PHD Dissertated to death, I thought I’d focus on my personal reactions and reflections. After all, it’s all about me. Right?

My reading has been coached via email by a Yale Italian Literature Professor who happens to contribute to some bulletin board discussions I frequent. Finding her was a stroke of luck, although I suspect she thinks I am a shallow moron. I look at this writing like Science Fiction and political discourse in verse, while she finds a rich source of universal truths. Alas. I have also found Dorothy L. Sayers’s notes to be a big help. A lot of the action and important conversations hinge on late 13th and early 14th Century Italian politics, as well as the characters in Virgil’s works, especially the Troy-boys of the Aeneid. This takes some help to understand. And, yes I speak of the same Dorothy Sayers who wrote “The Nine Tailors”.

What the Hell?

Hell is divided into nine levels, not seven levels as I thought I had heard. The levels are not organized on the basis of the Seven Deadly Sins, although some levels do correspond to the old PLACESG (Pride, Lust, Anger, Covetousness, Envy, Sloth, and Gluttony). The penguin sisters from Cork made Kathleen memorize these in school, and I guess she taught me the list. I think the source of confusion is that Purgatory is organized according to the deadly sins. Rest assured, there are far more than seven ways to earn an eternity in Hell.

I found several of the punishments to be amusing (almost as funny as when demons tried to suffocate Homer Simpson with donuts) and actually fitting to the crimes, in a humongous exaggerated way. Shit!, I’ve just committed the sin of Envy by thinking and typing that. On the subject of my eternal soul’s well-being, I was disappointed that post-Jesus Jews did not receive any special treatment. We probably burn in our tombs with the rest of the heretics, unless our punishment is too grisly even for Dante to share.

What’s so great about Hell, anyway?

Of course the Gate of Hell’s inscription, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”.

Cheron ferries the damned souls (Dante calls them shades) across the river Acheron. He uses oars to power the ferry, when he’s not using the oars to beat his passengers sensless. There is no shortage of blows to the head in Hell. This was the first of several times I had to stop and ask myself, “Is this a Christian or ancient Greek allegory?”

The lustful are blown around by winds, while, one level lower, the gluttonous wallow in a mire. Gluttons need to keep low in the muck, since Cerberus (a three headed dog) roves the joint looking for sinners to chew on. I was surprised that adultery gets a relatively minor penalty when compared to taking too many second helpings. Perjaps they were anticipating Martin Luther?

Those who committed violence against their neighbors hang out in a river of boiling blood. Sounds like a recipe for czerninia, eh?

Flatterers are thrown into a giant outhouse pit. Something about the obsequious in filth is wonderful. When an old acquaintance of Dante’s surfaces to talk, Dante is horrified by the dried crap caked on his face. I don’t know how Hell, Inc. does this, since no one eats in hell. They must import the waste from a feedlot.

Crooked popes are placed head down in holes while their feet constantly burn. If you keep the pointy hat on, you could probably use a drill to install them. That’d be cool, heh, heh.

Crooked public officials are dropped in a pit of boiling pitch. If they stick up their head, a demon picks them up with a hook and tosses them back in. Dante gets to see an old friend get that treatment.

Thieves turn into giant reptiles and live in a pit. Cool! Dinosaurs!

Dante comes to the sad realization that almost everyone he knew in positions of authority in his beloved Tuscany appears to be in Hell.

“Sowers of Discord” are constantly being cut to pieces with swords. Possibly George Washington would have fit into this category, since he sewed discord among formally loyal British subject. Maybe God doesn’t love America more than everyone else. Nah, couldn’t be.

Traitors are frozen up to the neck in ice. If you’re a traitor, you need to be careful, because if your hole is set too close to another hole, you may find your neighbor eating your brain. I hate when that happens. Dante didn’t find that too amusing either. Virgil didn’t seem to care. Actually Virgil doesn’t seem to care about much. Maybe 1,000 years in Limbo makes you mellow.

I am plodding through Purgatory, which seems richer in allegory but leaner in theatrical entertainment. I have “Paradise Lost” on order form Amazon, so the Christian allegorapalooza will continue.

Oh, I forgot to mention… I can’t even imagine how anyone believes this crap.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And if you say otherwise, t’hell wittya.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chicken Pluckers - Explicit Internet Photos!!!

I'm not a chicken plucker nor a chicken plucker's son,but I stumbled across this incredible blog about the task in backyard chicken farming no one seems to want to talk about; How do you transform a yardbird into drumsticks and soup? Once I started reading this, I couldn't stop.

That's my chicken-plucking story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What Will You do WIth Your 15 Minutes?

If it's true that we each get our 15 minutes of fame,I tip my hat to these two young men from Scotland for their brilliant use of their moment.

Ramones & Ukeleles.. . it's like peanut butter and chocolate!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

PIRATES!! Under the Black Flag

Under the Black Flag

by David Cordingly

I just finished reading this great non-fiction book about pirates. In 1992 I saw an exhibition about Pirates in the British National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. And, yes, the neighboring observatory does feature the Greenwich Meridian as a line of thin tiles on the observatory’s floor.

My interest in pirates was rekindled Years back I had seen an exhibit about pirates in the same museum. It turns out Cordingly was responsible for that exhibit. The exhibit was presented in the from of a giant comic book.

“Under the Black Flag tells about pirates real and imagined. He manages to integrate chapters about pirate movies and movie pirates with in-depth and entertaining descriptions of the lives, vessels and exploits of pirates and pirate hunters from the late 16th (Frances Drake) through the early 18th century (Black beard). The book is bursting with privateers, corsairs, buccaneers and British and Spanish naval and merchant sailors. After reading about the lives of merchant seamen, it’s no surprise that so many were willing to sign on with pirates.

It’s interesting that when we think of pirates, the first characters that come to my mind are Black beard and Captain Kidd, who had rather short careers as pirate captains before being killed by the British navy or the hangman. One of the reason we remember these pirates so well is that the Admiralty wasn’t shy about spreading stories about the pirates they caught, as well as waiving their iron-banded and rotting bodies in front of the seamen to place fear in that pathetic lot.

Most of the book deals with European pirates, although there is mention of the toughest pirate in the 19th century China Sea, only know as Mrs. Cheng. Not surprisingly, we don’t have a lot of details about the pirates who didn’t get caught, with the exception of the government-sanctioned privateers in the 16th and 17th century. (aside – most of the music I play could probably be a soundtrack for this story.

After Drake, Henry Morgan was probably the greatest British pirate. He enjoyed the semi-legitimate label of privateer, invading and occupying several Spanish treasure ports around 1670 to 1675. After peace broke out between Spain and England, Morgan continued harassing the Spanish and French, until he was arrested by the Admiralty, and sent to London as a prisoner. Rather than facing trial, he was knighted by the king, and returned to Jamaica in the role of Lieutenant Governor, where he drank himself to death in a couple of years. Morgan’s exploits in the Spanish treasure ports are unbelievable, involving all sorts of deceptions, confused oxen roaming around battlefields,and,best of all, a pantomime pirate ship. It all reads like something out of Monty_Python's_Flying_Circus .

An entire chapter is devoted to the exploits of Ann Bonny and Mary Read, two female pirates-in-drag who served aboard the ship of Calico John Rackham, but after capture in Jamaica, were tired separately from the male pirates. The testimony from crew and passengers of ships their group had boarded proved that these women were true pirates. They were amazing characters. After being sentenced to hanging (even the judges were impressed with their pirate bona fides) they both admitted they were pregnant. The sentences were reprieved after examination. Ann Bonny died in prison of a tropical fever soon thereafter, however nothing is known of the fate of Mary Read or her child.

This book overflows with great stories like these (including Captain Kidd & the buried treasure).
Be not a scalawag. Iffen ye be wantin ta read bout pirates, This be yer treasure.

Arrghhhh, That be me story and to it I be stickin.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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