Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, people.

Point of View
by Shel Silverstein

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless
Christmas dinner's dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey's point of view.

Sunday dinner isn't sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
When you see it from the viewpoint
Of a chicken or a duck.

Oh how I once loved tuna salad
Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too
'Til I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner's point of view.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fair warning for the squeamish: this video includes Sarah Palin. Oh, and turkeys being killed on live television. The combination of the two is enough to make one ill...

Clearly, the handlers who scripted her appearances during the campaign are long gone. But you'd think that someone would have looked at the setup for this particular "presser" and stopped things to rearrange. It's a stunning moment of stupidity. And hopefully, a reminder for some folks of how turkeys make it to their tables. :)

p.s.- this clip is spreading like absolute wildfire. i love it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Congratulations to Dustin Pedroia, American League MVP for 2008. Another honor well deserved, to go along with the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. I think I speak for many when I thank the baseball gods for finally giving the Red Sox a world class second baseman.

And also a congratulations to Yooooooooouk, who finished third in the MVP voting and was (in my opinion) only kept from another Gold Glove because he kept having to move from first to third and back to first, and back to third.

If I may speak for just a second specifically to Theo Epstein: Theo, you've got to pay these gents whatever they ask. Pay the men!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Today wasn't the most red letter of days. I'll just leave it at that. And to add to the increasing mound of evidence that I'm not a young man, I self-medicated by watching multiple episodes of How I Met Your Mother and some Boston Legal. Ah well.

But it could be worse. Citi layed off 52,000 people today. This on top of 17,000 earlier in the year. Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA holds 68,746 people. In other words, the former Citi employees will not be able to rent out a football stadium in order to hold a reunion. That's a little crazy, don't you think?

Anyone else waiting to hear their other shoe drop?

Man, I could use a drink.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

While I'm interested to see the new James Bond movie that opened this weekend, I have to admit, what I'm really excited to see is the new Star Trek movie trailer that's premiering with it (as I write this, only the teaser is available on the website- the trailer will be online officially 11/17). The idea of re-imagining the Star Trek mythology is, I think, exciting. I'd felt for a while that the series had seemed to run its course, at least where the movies were concerned. TNG didn't seem to carry the same energy it had as a TV series into the movies, and none of the other TV series seemed to me to be worthy of a stand alone movie. So maybe this will be the kick in the pants to get things moving again. We can hope, right?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nationwide, thousands and thousands of people turned out today to show their disgust with the removal of the right to marry from gays and lesbians in California, and the preemptive limiting of the civil right to marry of gays and lesbians in other states. Here in Champaign, about 100 people gathered in Campustown to lend their voices to the protest. It was a cold, windy day, but there was a great energy, and I feel a great hope that this event is the beginning of a change in attitudes. This is change we want, change we hope for, change we can most definitely believe in.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I am, most certainly, running out of steam as it relates to NaBloPoMo. Which makes me sad, a little. But things have been so busy, or hectic, or worrisome, that the urge to blog hasn't possessed me much. I took my math assessment test last night, and while I'm certainly not on the path to being a mathematician, I'm happy with the results, and I can now register for class, and get things moving on that front. I'm still employed, which is a good sign, for now. There's a slight chance of snow showers for tomorrow, but if the precipitation holds off, I should have some pictures to post tomorrow from the Champaign-Urbana Join The Impact protest, which I'm hoping gets a good turnout (go here to find the protest nearest you!). But right now, I'm going to wrap up that work day (ha!), and go get me a beer. Or two. Big ones.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Seeing the Forest actually beat me to what I was going to post about today, but I'll go on anyways.

I was struck as I was reading about venerable credit card company American Express declaring itself a bank in hopes of getting a piece of the federal bailout plan. Does anyone else see the absurdity of this? A credit card company- a company that built its business by convincing ever increasing numbers of people to spend ever increasing amounts of money they didn't have; a company that had a division of financial advisers who worked knee deep in the complex financial derivatives that everyone now understands caused this mess we're in- all of a sudden, weeks after the bailout plan is passed, decides that it wants in. Not only is this unethical, all it's going to do is dig a deeper hole; just as with all the other banks, American Express will horde the cash to allow it to increase its share value, to please its shareholders, which now includes you and me. Ironic- I can't get an American Express card, yet I'll soon be a shareholder, like it or not.

The conventional wisdom that the government is putting forth is that by propping up banks and companies like AIG, these companies will in turn do the "right thing" and push that money out to the (and you'll forgive me for this, i hope) "Joe Six Packs" of the world, thus keeping the economy moving. The problem? Companies have no incentive whatsoever to do this "right thing"- not now, not ever! By definition, companies have to take care of their shareholders first, and then their stakeholders. They are not moral actors, because moral actions do nothing for them- the pleasure of a job well done means nothing if the share price doesn't go up. The only reason companies do anything in the public good is because the government tells them to. How? Cover the children's ears- by regulation! To ask them to do the right thing is foolhardy, and Hank Paulson knows it- that's why we're saddled with this plan to begin with- his buddies get rich, and the rest of us are screwed as we're told to wait for the "trickle down" effect.

It's simple- the average person's discretionary money is disappearing, if not non-existant at this point. Because wages in the office are stagnant, families can't go out to dinner every Friday night. Because families aren't going to dinner every Friday night, restaurants are being forced to cut back on staff, and eventually close. And if those waiters don't have tip money to spend at the box stores, the box stores see their revenues drop and the holding companies that own them shut them down. Which means that all those employees won't be able to go on vacation to the beach, because they're on unemployment. Which means that the high school kids working at the beach front resort will be laid off because of lack of customers, so they won't be able to pay to go to college. And it goes on, and on, and on... And it's all because the companies are watching their bottom line so that their shareholders are happy and hold (and hopefully buy more of) their stock.

And so we've created this massive imbalance in the economy. And smarter people than I (hopefully the fine folks on President-elect Obama's economic team) are coming up with ideas on how to restore the balance. I certainly hope they hurry, because I sit at my desk every day, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'd rather it didn't.

P.S.- there's a fantastic article at Portfolio that follows some of the people on Wall Street who knew the house of cards built on C.D.O.s and bad mortgages, and bet against it. It's a really long, in depth article, but it's well worth the time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just who is Horatio T. Kitty?

I was feeling unwell today- not well enough stay in bed all day, but unwell enough that the prospect of curling up on the couch was far more appealing than being in the office. The problem with working from home is, the guilt is too great. So I tried to balance the two. Horatio was in his standard napping position, as seen above; at first, he was annoyed by my presence, but then he seemed concerned. I told him my troubles and he gave me a supportive pat on the hand. He offered to tell me a story; I gladly accepted. I have no idea if any of the following is true (as cats are well known for their stretchings of truths), but I'll let you decide for yourself.

We've always wondered why Horatio gets so wound up as we are going to bed, yet takes no notice of us as he naps through the day. It turns out, he's no ordinary cat. No, at night, he becomes El Gato Misterioso, famed forensic accountant!

You might say to yourself, as I did, "Wait, forensic accounting has always seemed to be a pretty boring job. And why would he be doing it at night?" It turns out, the public perception of forensic accounting is nothing but a clever ruse. The real job is as dangerous as 007, as hair raising as a ride at Rocky Point, and as cool as Shaft.

Horatio told me about the night when he discovered that Enron's dirty little secret. He was sneaking around their accountants' headquarters, doing a routine check on their SEC compliance work, when he came upon a room filled with triple-cut shreddings. Never one to turn down a good time, he began to dart around the room, diving and rolling in the shreddings, as he is wont to do. He was cleaning himself of the paper afterwards when he realized that he was standing on an unsteady pile of as yet unshredded reports. And right on top, he found the evidence that the books had indeed been cooked.

At just that moment, several three ring binders lalden with 10-K backup came flying through the air, and Horatio had to duck out of the way. Papers went flying everywhere as the pile he had been sitting on collapsed to the ground. He bolted past the late shift accountants who were trying to grab him, and darted out the fire escape door just as the staples began to fly through the air. He then stopped at a ladyfriend's house on the way home, but discretion forbade him from giving me the full scoop on that.

I was shocked, to say the least. First, that my opinion of forensic accountants had been changed so dramatically, and second, that my cat, my dear friend, was engaged in such a high stakes game of, um, cat and mouse? Whatever you want to call it, I begged him to be careful; to wear those little nubby finger things when turning pages so as to avoid paper cuts; to wear a staple proof vest; to do everything possible to keep harm from befalling him. But he would hear none of it. For the life of El Gato Misterioso is one of living on the edge; because that is the only place to find the evildoers.....

To be continued???

(thanks, gladcow. ;))
Keith Olbermann, as usual, has words far more powerful than I for those who supported Prop. 8 in California. Feel free to have a hanky handy.

And I quote:

You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

That's exactly what it comes down to. We are so often counseled to lift up our fellow man or woman; why would we do the opposite when it comes to love?

Monday, November 10, 2008

A list. And a request.

So, ten days into NaBloPoMo, and I'm struggling for ideas. So I need your help. What are you burning to know about me? Or about anything? Seen an interesting meme lately? Help me fill some space!

brixton wants to know what my favorite (or least favorite) aspect of living in the lovely Champaign-Urbana area is.

Well, there's an answer for both. My favorite aspect thus far, I think, has been the people. I've met a lot of cool and interesting people, both within the university community and without. For all my grumbling about being stuck at home all day, it's been nice to meet a bunch of folks who I enjoy spending time with when I can get out of the apartment. I mean heck, I've even joined a bowling league! It's made this adventure a lot easier on a day to day basis.

Least favorite thing? Driving. It seems strange to complain about driving in a town where no one on TV or radio ever gives a traffic report, but it's true. And I'll be honest, a good bit of it can be laid at the feet of the university students. They either drive poorly or recklessly, and they walk as though the combustion engine hasn't been invented yet. And then there's the people on bicycles. And I say this as someone who is a big advocate of bicycles. On a daily basis, I watch bicycle blow through red lights, attempt to pass me on the right (at speed) at intersections when I'm turning right, and my personal favorite, ride on the sidewalk. It's no wonder that when I'm on my bike, I see drivers watch me with a combination of fear and annoyance; they can't anticipate that someone on a bike will act as though they are a part of traffic. All things considered, I'm much happier when I can walk somewhere here in town.

So thanks for the question, brixton! Who's next?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Knitting. And algebra.

Some weekends are full of football and beer; naps on the couch and comfort food. Not this weekend, although the weather certainly called for all of these and more. No, this weekend I took a different tack.

That's me, knitting (MEtC couldn't resist taking a picture...) Regular readers will remember when I bought this yarn, more than a year ago. Well, after a few fitful starts, I finally got a few rows done, and was working along happily when we realized that I was not knitting the rib I thought I was doing, but was, in fact, doing a seed stitch. Which led to a complete frogging and re-imagining of the project. Instead of trying to do a three-in-one balaclava combination, I've decided to just do a two in one hat/neckwarmer combo. We'll see how this attempt goes. Maybe next year, you'll get to see a finished product. :)

I spent a good part of the rest of the weekend studying algebra, so the first time in 15 some odd years. See, I've developed an ambition to go back to school, to study economics. I love the subject, and enjoy dorking out about it endlessly. The hiccup in the plan from the beginning has been the mathematical component. I've never been what you would call a "math person", and in fact my last math class was a trigonometry class with Mr. Ossman back during my junior year of high school. I had not, until recently, ever looked back. Well, that's got to change, so I've decided to put my toes back in the water by taking a math class or two at the local community college. In order to do this, I've got to take a math assessment test. It was in reviewing the materials for the assessment test that I realized just how out of practice I was. So I spent several hours at the library today, trying to stretch out the math muscles. We shall see what sort of outcome I come up with...

Now, if you don't mind, I've got to get back to my Nature special on monkeys.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Well that didn't take long...

8 days in, and I already missed a post! Well, I'm not giving up. I will operate under the assumption that I can eek in by making 30 posts (or more!), regardless of the calendar. :)

We saw Zack and Miri Make A Porno last night. Up front, I'll admit that Clerks is one of my favorite movies of all time. However, like most people, I'd worried that Kevin Smith had gone a bit soft in his old age. Well, Zack and Miri have disabused me of that notion. I walked in expecting a Judd Apatow- style movie, and walked out having seen the movie that I wish Judd Apatow would make. It was hilarious, raunchy, sweet, and dorky. Oh, and raunchy. Also, one of the best uses of music in any film I've seen in a while. I give it two enthusiastic big toes up.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Not my America.

My America does not pass laws, or amend their constitutions, to prevent people from participating in a state-sponsored institution just because of who they love.

My America doesn't preach smaller government and personal responsibility out of one side of their mouths and turn around and tell 18,000 couples in California that they are now divorced, or tell thousands of kids waiting for foster homes in Arkansas that they're going to have to keep waiting because the loving couples that want to take them in aren't married; many of them because the state won't allow them to.

My America made a huge step forward by electing Barack Obama. But my America is sliding down a slick path of intolerance again, and it needs to find some traction quick and head back up the regain the real moral high ground. We all remember the founding fathers saying that everyone is created equal, right? The pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, right? Just checking. Now let's get on it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Cop out post

Exhausted. Bowled terribly tonight. Not two brain cells to rub together to make a coherent post out of. Promise to do better tomorrow.

Wow. Seriously. I'm agog. Way to go, America.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Twelve more little hours.

I had this long winded post dreamed up to explain to the world why I voted for Barack Obama on the first day of early voting here in Illinois (yay early voting!), but sitting here, with twelve hours until the polls open, I know you don't care- there will be plenty of time for the analysis after the election.

But I can't make a completely election-free post here. Just a little while ago, Obama gave his first rally since news broke that his grandmother passed away. Here's a video:

I'm going to be completely honest; I cried like a baby watching that clip. My grandmother passed away in August, and the hurt still hasn't completely faded. I can only imagine his pain at this time when I'm sure every nerve is rubbed raw. My thoughts are with he and his family.

I implore you to do your research and get out and vote tomorrow. I don't really care who you vote for (well, I do, but you know what I mean), just that you vote. Even if you don't think your vote matters in the presidential election, remember that there are referendums and locall races that will effect you on a daily basis for years to come. Your vote does matter there- every single vote matters there. The political process as a whole can't be changed unless people like you stand up and speak.

So please vote- and don't come bitching to me about politics and politicians if you don't. I don't want to hear it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

All Hallow's

Last night was costume night for MEtC and I. My costume? A slight re-imagining of Bill Lumbergh from Office Space:

See, Bill was fired after Milton set the building on fire and ran off with the money. So now he's the part-time afternoon Assistant General Manager at Chotchkie's, and, mmm, yeah, he does have to work on Saturdays. But he does wear more than the minimum amount of flair.

There was an alarming moment, when I went to put on the pants that went with the costume, pants that I'd worn just a couple of months ago, and they didn't fit- clearly my chubby butt needs to be in better shape. Now that I've admitted this to the world, I may actually follow through on that. :)

I know, I know, I need a pithy political post before the election- that'll come tomorrow.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Eeep- I haven't the time!

I've been quite busy today putting together my costume for the big party tonight, so I haven't got the time to do a complete blog post today. I promise a big, full post tomorrow, hopefully with pictures!