Thursday, October 28, 2004


is quite Cool. (Via Jonah Goldberg at the Corner)

Archives Of Interest, Part Deux

As a nod to a place I'm actually familiar with, this week's link is to Columbia University Health Sciences Library. My colleague and friend there has been very helpful, particularly as I was getting established in the smaller sub-field of Medical Archivy. Be sure to get a look at their online Finding Aids. The finding aid is the point of entry to any archival collection - your index to what the collection holds. In my case I have no formal finding aids, only an electronic catalog. Some day I might do more formal FAs, if I can ever get out from under the mess on my desk.

Incidentally, Mrs. Skinny used to do webdesign for them, and I introduced their current Web person at a conference a while back. So there's the circle of working life all coming back to it's starting point.

Thursday Three

Once again, it's that time of week:

1) Name your THREE favorite candies you hope for when you go trick-or-treating.

Not really applicable - us Hebrews rarely do this sort of thing, though years past I did go out with some of the non-Jewish kids on the block. Nevertheless, since I can contribute to the candy end of it, I think I'd go for the MilkyWay Midnight, Krackel, and Crispy M & Ms. All now kosher, thankfully.

2) Name your THREE favorite things at state/county fairs (food or exhibits or rides or animals or animal food rides or whatever).

N/A. A County fair in Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit.

3) Which THREE songs you would download for a cell phone?

Tough call. I currently have Mark Knopfler's "Sailing to Philadelphia" on there, which I had to program myself because nobody had it. All they carry are Dire Strait's "Money For Nothing" and "Walk of Life". Good songs, but not what I'd be looking for. I'd take anything by Knopfler or Dire Straits, though my first choice would probably be the obscure-ish but fun "Industrial Disease", maybe Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love", and a traditional Irish tune called "I'll Tell Me Ma" Eclectics Rule!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Your Tax System at Work

At least if you live in Australia. Clearly I'm in the wrong line of work, as I too would like to deduct illegal earnings.

Though I must ask - since when do drug dealers fill out tax returns at all? Maybe this is the fallout from Al Capone going to jail for not paying his taxes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

On A Lighter Note...

RatherGate Revisited

I was blogless at the time of the whole memo-gate thingy, but I vaguely remember having something to say about it then. We'll see what I can reconstruct.

For many reasons, I take the use and misuse of documents very seriously. I am, professionally, responsible for the care and maintenance of thousands, if not millions of documents. I am responsible to my employer and history at large for preserving the historical record. As a trained (sit, boy, sit! Good grad student) historian, the records of the past mean a great deal to me. They represent what is often our only vision into the past, and future interpretation depends on the records we leave behind. I'm well aware that history is flexible, historical fashion changes, and the records themselves are not perfectly reliable.

That said, Rather's actions regarding that memo strike me as extra reprehensible. I don't understand why the man would risk his reputation on clear forgeries. I don't understand how he could claim any objectivity at all. I don't know what his beef with the administration was. But I admit to being most offended by the manipulation of the historical record by Dan and others to smear a sitting president. Have we lost all respect for the presidency that they we are prepared to accept any insult provided by what were laughably amateur forgeries? Are people so determined to defeat George Bush that they are prepared to manipulate history? All of this from the side of the political aisle that's supposed to be more intellectual?

I know the answers to all of these is yes. I'm not surprised by it, particularly. But I am disappointed in a lot of people, and disheartened by the nature of modern political disagreement.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Ah, Shabbos

Or Shabbat. Or the Sabbath. As you prefer, or depending on which particular community you grew up in. In my case, it's as listed in the header of the post.

Anyway, as the Bible (V. 1.0) relates, the Lord created the world in six days, and on the seventh He rested. So do we, by extension, follow His example by working a forty hour workweek, with a Sunday for honeydo lists. And football. Shabbos itself around here is usually fairly relaxed. No TV, no mail, no compewters, no phones. The kids are still up early, but since we're usually in bed at a reasonable hour on Friday, it's not awful. So, a day of rest indeed.

Why is it, then, that the days prior to Shabbos, and Friday in particular, are a whirlwind of last minute cooking, cleaning, and insanity? I'm usually so worn out by the time it starts it's all I can do to keep from falling asleep on my plate (though Mrs. Skinny points out that late night hockey on Thurs. doesn't help. Apparently none of the other men in this town cook, so it has less impact on them.)

We had friends stay with us this past weekend, which was fantastic. They have a 4 month old baby, and we don't get to see them as often as we'd like. So I get a jump on things earlier last week. There's no cooking allowed from Friday sunset on, so everything has to be prepared before and warmed up. So Weds night I get the chicken soup & matzah balls done, plus the meatloaf. Thursday the mashed potatos. In the freezer from previous sessions are 1) Potato Kugel (pudding); 2) Squash Kugel (pie); 3) Lemon Bars (bars).

So what's left for Friday? Mrs. S. has the Chalah and zucchini salad, I get the cholent and a chicken/orzo salad thingy for lunch on Saturday. No big deal, right? Why is it she's first mixing the mashed spuds with the new batch of sauteed onions and I'm still assembling the chicken/orzo with 10 minutes to go before candlelighting (5:47 PM here in NY last Friday). Plus our guests are wiggling their way through side streets on Long Island after the parkway they were on got shut down - some knucklehead in a Big Rig who didn't see the sign saying "No Commercial Traffic"

Somehow we all made it to Shabbos in one piece - I even made it to services Friday only 20 minutes late, which is not bad. (I used to be on time, then I got married & had kids, & it all went to hell in a handbasket.) The rest of Shabbos was lovely. We had a wonderful time with our overnight guests (no travelling allowed, so anybody that comes is staying), and a nice lunch with some other friends and our new neighbors who moved in a week or so ago.

I'll only say that the week before I had no idea what was for dinner on Friday morning, and I was ready in plenty of time that afternoon. Some weeks you're up, some you're down.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Good to Know, I Guess

Normally these don't interest me much, but this seemed worth a shot. I actually prefer the Jelly Belly Cream Soda flavor jelly beans, but it's still not far off.

You are Larry Koffi.  You are director in charge auditing and collecting Union Togolaise De Banque Lome, Togo West Africa.  You came across $44.5 million of a dead person in your bank. You will give me 25% to be his NEXT OF KIN.  You like red jelly beans.
Which Nigerian spammer are You?

Oh Baby!

... as JD would put it.

Last night was the weekly Roller Hockey game with the other fat old guys from the neighborhood. I'm always wiped out on Fridays because the game rarely ends before 11:45PM, but it is absolutely worth it. Who wants to get work done anyway?

I got into the game about a year ago. I've always been a hockey fan, but never played. An email went out from one of the Synagogues we belong to saying they were restarting the game they used to have. After a bit of thinking (oh man, they're all great players & I've never played & I'm going to suck, etc.) Mrs. Skinny said "what's the big deal? Go, try it, see what happens." I married a very smart woman (though some might ask how smart she could be if she married me, but...)

Anyway, I did suck, but so did a lot of the other guys, and I have gotten a lot better over the last year. There's no set teams, so you never know who you'll be playing with. Last night I ended up with the best player in our group - fun, but challenging. He's always thinking ahead, and you really have to try & get in position for him to make a play. Plus he can get frustrated because the rest of us can't always keep up to his level. Playing against him is an equivalent challenge, and I consider it a successful night if I manage to stop him once or twice.

Last night started slow - because of holidays and rainouts, we haven't played in a few weeks & I was feeling rusty. I got into it, and ended up with three goals, two of which were actually nice plays on my part. We don't really keep score, so I didn't exactly win the game for us, but I'm always glad to contribute. I did take a wicked slap shot off the back of the leg. The guy taking it started winding up, and I made one of those calculated moves - 1) get out of the way (this was actually my plan); 2) face forward and risk damage to some fairly sensitive body parts; 3) turn around, which is what I did. Naturally, shin guards only cover the front of the leg, so I took a hard shot right off the calf. Like a good player, I stayed on & skated it off.

I also reached out & caught a clearing attempt with my hand - my right thumb is turning a lovely shade of purple. One shot also went off my ankle, so I'm a hurting puppy at the moment.

Now That's Hockey!

Beyond Ridiculous

Someone's going to have to get a pounding if I hear this one more time. I listen to Imus in the Morning in the car on the way to work. The politics, especially during an election year, are to the left, but I know that going in. I listen for the humor, which appeals to me BECAUSE it's juvenile, and some of the guests are interesting.

This morning, Imus was talking to Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), and he said something I've heard dozens of times from the Left: "If we knew then what we know now, we'd never have gone into Iraq"

Well, DUH! This is easily one of the most idiotic statements I have ever heard made - it's Tuesday Morning Quarterbacking reduced to a sound bite. It's intellectually indefensible - of course people would do things differently knowing things in advance! Knowing what I know now, I would have bought $10,000 worth of Microsoft in 1986 and sold them in 1999! Heck, even if I hadn't sold at the height of the boom, the Evil Empire says my investment today would be worth $3.4 MILLION.

Hindsight, as is said, is 20/20. It's meaningless to say you would do things differently with new or different knowledge. Expecting the President to have made a different decision is moronic - he went with the information he had. You want to criticize something, pick on the intelligence which was faulty. Put some responsibility on the Clinton Administration's wall between parts of the intelligence community. Don't blame the guy for going with what he had at the time.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

See how smart I am?

I'm cleverly avoiding other people's problems with Blogger and Haloscan by not posting anything.

Sly like a fox, that's me.

Oh, and on a side note? Can we please not start this again? If you can't read the frappin' ballot, either 1) don't vote, or 2) ASK FOR HELP. You may look like a moron, but you will at least get a chance to choose what you actually want.

Thursday Three

Possumblog, of which I have become a regular reader, runs a weekly "Thursday Three" set of questions. The Southern-themed ones are usually beyond my ability, but I contribute when I can. Now that I am be-blogged, I can actually put stuff in my own blog instead of wasting valuable comment real estate.

This week's set of questions are right up my alley:

1. What is the most hapless/hopeless team/athlete you have rooted for (rooting against a team does not count).
2. What is the oddest sport you follow.
3. What is the furthest distance you have gone to attend and/or participate in an event.

1) Oh, MAN. This is a long, slow, lazy fat pitch for me to whack out of the park. I am, of all things, a New York Rangers fan. Up until a mere ten years ago, the most cursed franchise in all professional hockey. When I became a fan in 1986, they were 46 years into what ended up as a 54 year drought between Stanley Cups. When you consider there were only 6 teams in the league until 1967, that means there were 27 years when the competition was a measly 5 other teams. I became a fan in the glory days of Walt Podubbny. In addition, I have now suffered through 7 straight years of the highest payroll in the NHL, and no playoffs. Ranger fans know suffering.

2) See #1. And maybe competitive balloon animal making.

3) Technically I did not travel this distance just to see the game, but I did catch a Maple Leafs game in Toronto while on vacation there in 1987. And given the difficulties of traveling from any part of New York to New Jersey, I have schlepped out to the Meadowlands on one or two occasions.

New Feature

I know, with a three day old blog, they're all new features, but what can you do?

Once a week or so, I'm going to provide a link to an interesting online Archival Website. Historical ignorance is rampant in this country (though not, I hope, among the four people who read this blog) and I want to do my bit to introduce people to the wealth of primary sources maintained by archives and manuscript repositories in our own communities. Few people know that archives are there, and often open to the public. It helps to have a reason to look for stuff there, but the good Archival sites have a wealth of interesting and sometimes useful material online.

This week's choice is the Glenbow Archives and Museum in sunny Downtown Calgary, Alberta CA, where post time temperature is a balmy 27 degrees Fahrenheit. Helpfully, points out that it feels like... 27 degrees Fahrenheit.

I don't actually know anyone who works there, but they're using the same database I'm trying to get up & running, so I've been noodling around their site for a bit. They've put lots of images up on the site, and there's a ton of information about the history of their particular part of the world. Poke around - see if you learn something interesting. (For the record, the first search I attempted was on the word "fish". The DB found 36 records, so it wasn't as odd as it sounds)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Progress, of Sorts

Making some headway with the wacky fun of databases and HTML. Exported search screens from Database not interested in talking politely with web design program. And yet, as was said in a fine movie, we "endeavor to persevere." Everything looks screwy in the design pane, but looks appropriate when viewed in the browser. I do not know why. I'm pretty sure I don't care, long as it works.

Now, if I can only get the IT folks to install the server & stuff, we could see if the framitz actually coincides with the boolean. With a side order of spicy fries, if you please.


Couldn't let this one pass. Check this out on Little Green Footballs.

Look, I know things can get taken out of context. But Jimmuh's been leaning so far left lately he's tilted over & cracked his head; thus, he gets no break from the likes of me. I don't have the energy to read through the 500+ comments at this story, so I don't know if someone made this point.

Is Jimmy suggesting we'd be better off without a United States of America? His suggestion that negotiations would have resolved the issue is ridiculous, and implies that he'd be happier with a Canadian-style relationship to Britain rather than the free and independent nation we got. It also fails to take into account the relationship between colony and motherland, and the nature of that interaction.

This is the sum total of certain people's understanding of the world - all we need to do is talk about it and we can reason with the other side. I believe that's a ridiculous idea in the 18thC. relationship between the colonies & Britain, and even more so when dealing with crackpots of today who want us all dead.


I don't feel so good. Woke up at 3:30 AM and couldn't get back to sleep. Going to be a tough slog at work, and more importantly, here.

I woke up in the middle of a pretty vivid dream. There were the obligatory nekkid wimmen, naturally (whoever produces my subconscious clearly knows what sells). I remember a gaggle of purse snatchers coming out of a subway stop in view of the World Trade Center, and very clear views of someone going through a purse looking for cash. One odd view was a young woman finding a set of car keys & hitting the buttons to see if the car was parked nearby.

It segued into those images from the WTC on September 11. (Incidentally, I'm of the opinion that all decent people of the world should see video of those terrible scenes at least once a week, to remind them what it is we're fighting for, and against.) That huge radio tower on top crashing onto a parked car - impossible, I know, but that's dreaming for you. There was also a distinct image of a group of construction-worker types in a subway station below the WTC, hauling on a rope, presumably in an attempt to keep the tower from falling.

No, I don't have a clue what this means, I'm simply laying it out there. As they would say in Brooklyn, "Analyze THIS, Dr. Freud!"

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bear with me

My occasional Luddism is back with a vengeance tonight as I learn some of the ins & outs of this here blog-thingy. There are few things in the history of mankind better designed for making smart people feel stupid than the computer. I am attempting to load HaloScan comments instead of the OEM comments, so there may be some difficulty. Feel free to chime in with assistance if you know anything pertinent. I have saved the originals, so anyone who bothered commenting, they will be kept on my rickety old Sony Vaio.

Add this to a late-in-the-day attempt to create a new database that will resolve all of the company's issues, slice bread, and bring peace to the Middle East, and it's been one of those computer days. No, I don't do computer geek stuff for a living, it justs seems like that sometimes. I'll get into the professional stuff at a later time.

Oh, those wacky Brits

For my first interesting post, I'll redirect you to the paragon of Socialist journalism, the Guardian. (WARNING: Foul Language Included, and thanks to Jonah Goldberg at the Corner for the link)

While I appreciate that the British have a decided interest in the upcoming US Election, I very much resent the idea that they have a better idea of what it is we in the US need in our president. I don't think the nasty, obscene response is justified, but I do think they should know that we don't really need their help. With that in mind, I have composed the following response to the Guardian. Maybe I'll even send it to them:

Dear Concerned Citizen of the United Kingdom,

Thank you very much for your interest in our upcoming presidential election. We realize you have a choice of which election to meddle with, and we are grateful for your desire to participate. We are, however, quite unable to process your intrusion at this time. We have quite filled our quota of irritating, leftist do-gooders at this point. Should Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky expire prior to November 2nd, 2004 we will be sure to let you know.

We would like to point out as well that we would prefer that you rectify errors in your own representative democracy prior to attempting to adjust ours. We understand that you are stuck with Socialist Prats like Ken Livingstone, but we think that's your responsibility. We also note that we have rejected your form of Constitutional Socialism (see Battle of Yorktown, Decisive American Victory of) more than 200 years ago, and we are not prepared to reconsider that decision.

Please note that this will in no way affect our efforts in the War on Terror. We are fully prepared to remove your chestnuts from the fire. We will allow you to revisit the glory days of our greatest hits - World War I, World War II, and the Defeat of Communism. We remain committed to the preservation of freedom and democracy, whatever the yellow-bellied Nancy Boys may whine about unilateralism and giving peace a chance. We're quite certain you won't get much assistance in promoting Liberty from the Islamo-fascists.

The Citizens of the United States of America

PS Should you decide to become a citizen of the US, as millions of others have done happily (and legally) we will be delighted to extend you the franchise.

UPDATE: How's that for timing? Apparently today, 10/19 is the anniversary of the Battle. Sometimes you get lucky

Awright already

Several polite folks with as much free time as I have suggested I start a blog. I can't imagine why, but I have been considering it for a while. No reason why other people shouldn't read the garbage that comes out of my mouth - at least they have the option of not reading me at all.

If you want to blame someone for what happens here, El Possumo Grande, Mr. Unfreezing, and the good folks at Curmudgeonry were responsible for pushing me over the edge.