Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Today

is the fast day known as Asara B'Tevet (Literally 10th of the month of Tevet). Naturally, as a day without food, I chose today to provide small holiday gifts of homemade fudge to co-workers and friends here.



Some days I'm just not that bright, you know?

Monday, December 17, 2007

I don't normally

do what the sports & politics geeks refer to as liveblogging, but I am sitting with the laptop and the MNF game on. All I can say from the half attention I am paying is that so far it ain't exactly a barn burner.



The Bears have fallen mightily since last year's Super Bowl appearance, and other than knowing there was an adult situation a few years back, I don't know the first thing about Minnesota. Seems so far to be a game full of dopey penalties and zero offense. Even Devin Hester can't save this game for me right now.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saw this

the other day, and thought given the previous announcement that it was good timing:



Researchers discover why pregnant women don't topple over



I'm glad to see them putting my tax money to good use, but I'm not quite sure I see any practical application to the information. Sure, now I get how Mrs. Skinny manages to stay upright, but I still don't think it's getting me out of washing dishes or changing nappies when the time comes.



Still, it keeps the science folks out of trouble.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

So...

I have dropped at least one hint, (and to one Alabama Marsupial, several) that something's up chez skinny. Terry thinks it's a medical condition, which, in effect, it is.



Say Hello to my leetle frien':







I know, I know, it's a little grainy and out of focus. I think I used the wrong F-stop or something.



So indeed, there is another small parasite headed our way come the spring. The ex-utero two have taken to calling it Little Matzah Ball, which is appropriate since we are due right around Passover.



This particular gestation has not been without its issues. I was planning to say something here a while ago, but we had a disturbing last 3-4 weeks, courtesy the medical establishment. One of the zillions of tests required in this nation before you are considered fit to reproduce came back as positive for a genetic disorder known as Trisomy-18 (you can read about it from the dedicated folks over at the Trisomy 18 foundation).



When the midwife describes said disorder as "incompatible with life", it certainly does make you pause a bit. Unlike its cousin, trisomy 21 that's involved with Down's Syndrome, children with this genetic anomaly generally don't survive the first year if they make it that far. Needless to say, we were not prepared for that particular development. What followed is standard - more tests. Amnio for the Mrs, prayer for me. Thanks to the piece of crap lab the insurance insisted we use (thanks for nothing, Quest Diagnostics! I hope some marketing jerk is reading this and tells everyone I think you people suck!), we had to wait three full weeks for results.



Which were negative. Which in this case is a good thing. So we are, happily, one of the thousands of people out there who got a false positive from one of these dopey blood tests. I'm glad of the results, but I can't say the last month has been fun. When you and your spouse begin discussing the euphemistic "options" if the worst happens, most people are not in a great place. Happily it's all moot, even if I have not enjoyed much lately.



Anyway, that's the big news around here. Work has increased, but not my paycheck. The children grow up, and I grow out. Life continues, and thankfully the Lord agreed with me on this particular question.



Look for a Little Matzah Ball this spring, coming to a Skinnydan nowhere near most of you.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Leftovers

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, apple pie, chocolate chip cookies were consumed.



Effluvia from sick child were cleaned up, sheets, PJs, towels were washed.



Guest room was slept in so sick child could stay in my bed.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Oh Dear

cash advance



This leaves a bit to live up to. All you riffraff will have to go read something more appropriate for your education level.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

An American Hero

Pilot of plane that dropped A-bomb dies



Oh, I know all the AP wants to talk about is the suffering the bomb did, and I see an implication of callousness in Tibbets from the author. But anybody who knows a damn thing about war in general, WWII, and the Japanese behavior prior to and during the war understands that the bomb was frankly the lesser of two evils.



There's no minimizing of the suffering here, but let's get real - how would the Japanese civilians have fared during a genuine invasion of the Home Islands? How many Allied troops would have been killed? How long would it have dragged on? Add to that Japanese behavior towards civilians in Manchuria, Korea, Burma, etc., and it's a little hard for me to to see moral injustice on the part of the US.



Rest in Peace, General.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Caught this little gem

over at CNN:



Warmer temperatures tied to wildfires, scientists say



Apparently it's again tied to global warming. What's conspicuously absent, however, is any discussion of our forestry and land-management policies. This stood out to me a bit:

Those plants grow back quickly after a fire, and several species of wildflowers only grow in areas that have burned, Rocca said.

Swetnam said smaller, surface fires are good for forests because they destroy shrubs and other brush without hurting trees.


What I sense is missing is a discussion of how the controlled burns of past eras have been banned, thanks largely to the environmental movement. I can't claim to know a ton about it, but I've heard folks talk about it on the radio.



So I'd only ask this - is it possible that the environmental horror we're now supposedly doomed to suffer has been caused in part by enviromentalism? I imagine there are some who are crying over the destruction of so many trees. Yet the same types have argued that we can't manage things properly because of the trees. So now we've lost the trees, billions of dollars, people's entire existences, and actual lives.



Yep, smart policy there.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The heavens opened

officially on Thursday. Someone lost their job, and it was a long time coming. Four years or more of incompetence and indifference came to a head, and the head on the block was theirs.



I suppose I should have more sympathy, but they brought it on themselves. I didn't care much for this person personally, but I for one could've managed with them if they put the slightest effort into their work. My interactions with them were peripheral, but the few direct efforts I had to deal with did not impress me. This person was full of buzzwords and superior attitude, followed by lack of action and complete ignorance.



Others I talked to felt bad for this person, but I can't bring myself to. Be sure your sin will find you out, and you can bet it did. I wonder why it took so long, but other people have more patience with this kind of thing than I do.



The upshot of all this is more work for me. I fully intend to try and force the issue to bring with it commensurate title and financial rewards, but I need to be patient about that kind of thing here. I also feel there's some tension and not a little confusion reigning right now, so I think I need to let certain things said to me kind of slide off my back. With any luck things will smooth out in a few weeks, and we can make some progress.



I see this as a tremendous opportunity, despite the immense additional workload it will bring. Things couldn't possibly have been worse, so we have nowhere to go but up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Storm Clouds Are Brewin'

But they are hopefully bringing a healthy rain that will wash away several years' worth of grime.



I can't really say anything more about it right now, but it explains (somewhat) my parsimonious postings of late.



Other, equally weighty news is also in the offing, but there's no reason I can't say anything about it. I'm just being coy. Call it snottily smug if you must, but it amounts to the same thing.



Updates will follow in their appropriate time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Interesting bit of History

up for grabs:



Rare Magna Carta to be sold at Sotheby's in NYC



I've never liked the popular impression that this was a constitution in the sense to which we understand it today. A la the reporter's comment "The Magna Carta established rights of the English people and curbed the power of the king."



What it established (and no, I haven't read it in ages) was the rights and privileges of a select class of people vis-a-vis their feudal obligations to their lord, and the limits of his authority. As a foundation document laying the groundwork for basic rights of man, perhaps, but hardly a declaration of freedom for all citizens. I'd personally consider it akin to limiting the power of central government, and providing more autonomy to the other rich, violent jerks keeping the average citizen impoverished and beholden. And yes, I oversimplify, but it's a blog folks, not a dissertation.



In any event, it's yours for a piddling $30 mil.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ya know what?

People really like chocolate.



The kids' school does an annual chocolate sale to raise money. Given the cost of tuition, I find that a little ridiculous, but OK. Sell $500 worth of sugary crap, earn a prize worth about a buck-fifty on the open market. For the last two years, I have resisted bringing any to work - I feel like it's annoying people.



It seems people like being annoyed.



I left a box of 40 bars (at $1/each) upstairs in the kitchen here at the office at about 9AM. When I last checked it at about 2PM, there were five bars left. More importantly, the box (when full) was mostly almond, which I dislike. Of the 5 remaining bars, none were almond, so I guess the huckster company behind all of this (part of Reader's Digest, apparently) knew exactly what they were doing.



On top of all that, my dad took three bars last week back home to my brother's kids. Oldest niece called up that night placing an order for another 36 for her and her friends. So pop is picking up another box at the kids' school right about now. Any leftovers will be brought back here tomorrow.



I have to wonder - would people normally buy all this crap, or do they soothe their consciences about eating candy by saying it's going to a good cause? Either way, I've got a pocket full of singles and my kids are in line for a cheap, lead painted Chinese toy that will break the first day.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Every time

you think you've seen it all, here comes more silliness:



Glamorous politician wants law to allow 7-year itch




Leaving aside that I don't find a fifty year old, twice divorced libertine to be glamorous, these are the kinds of crazy things that come out of people's mouths when they're interested in attention more than substance. I don't know if she's serious about marriages only legally lasting seven years. I don't much care if she is. Clearly, though, there are a lot of nutballs in the world, and unfortunately too many of them get elected.



I don't suppose we could institute a seven-year lifespan on politicians, could we?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Laugh of the Day


Dan Rather sues CBS, Viacom for $70M



Ole' Dan thinks he got the shaft from CBS for their "intentional mishandling" of the aftermath of the story he chose to run, despite the holes in it the size of a National Guard jet.



What's the Frequency, Kenneth, indeed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Oh, and By the By...

Shana Tovah to all and sundry. May we all be blessed with a happy, healthy, and sweet new year.

More Conversations

Less peculiar, but more welcome. Got an email from Mrs. Skinny's cousin, who is over in Afghanistan doing the police-type work he used to do in the Great Northwest. He's just looking for Taliban instead of more home-grown ne'er do wells.



Cousin is, as the rest of that particular branch of the family tree, one of the most decent people I've ever me in my life. Well educated, well read, and a lot of fun to hang out with. I should think of him every day, but I don't, which is sad. He's certainly risking his life, though he said I need to look out for myself far more than he does. He travels around with a troop of Polish airborne guys, which he claims is like riding around with a legally armed motorcycle gang.



All the same, I worry about him, and hope he stays safe. It's worse for people with husbands and fathers overseas I grant you, but he's still family and he's a long way from home. Mind you, he says he's in great shape - toting 50 lb. packs around 7,000 feet above sea level is one solution to staying fit, but I'm not sure we all need to head to Downtown Kandahar just to get healthy.



Anyway, I've got a small piece of my heart over in harm's way, so add a thought or prayer for him if you've a mind to.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Strange Conversations

I'm just back in the office after an offsite meeting, the door is closed, and somebody knocks.



There is New Executive Recently Promoted, doing a tour of the building. NERP asks for a brief tour, then says "how do you know when all this stuff is ready for you to take?"



Well, here's a pretty how-de-do.



So I explain briefly about Records Managers and how they feed things to archivists, and see to it that records make it through their life cycle, and end up in the archives when they're ready.



Mind you, I've been asking about getting an RM here for 5 years, so it's a little shocking to have such a conversation out of the blue. I don't know if this will lead to anything, but I'm glad somebody took an interest for five minutes.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Science!


Toddler Study Proves Humans Outsmart Apes



"In other Sciency-type stuff, Apes clearly still lead by a wide margin of intelligence over reporters and headline writers."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Well, Duh.

You Are a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

You are a traditional person with very simple tastes.
In your opinion, the best things in life are free, easy, and fun.
You totally go with the flow. And you enjoy every minute of it!



Your best friend: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich



Your mortal enemy: The Ham Sandwich




Any idiot would know about my issues with Ham Sammiches. From Jordana, via Diane. Mind you, I don't actually like cheese at all, grilled or otherwise, but I guess that's besides the point.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Left Coast Blogging

Out to the wilds of Californy to visit the in-laws, and thus I have some time to blog. Flight was not bad as these things go - we had a power outlet in one of our two rows, and I was able to compute some while flying. I'm the web guy for two archivists groups, and with the annual meeting happening next week, there's a lot to update. Plus the kiddies could watch movies and leave us be.



Things seem tough on the airlines - they're now charging for ALL food on board. Though they haven't figured out how to charge us for what we bring on our own. That's coming, I imagine. No room in the seats, long waits to get in to the waiting areas, long waits to take off, no food, lousy movies. There's not a lot to recommend flying any more, other than if you got to get from one place to another, it's a way to do it.



Either way, both we and our luggage made it. I'm here until next Tuesday, when I'm off to the aforementioned conference in Chicago. Mrs. and family stay until Sunday of Labor Day.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The weekend

is sort of a long, drawn-out blur. We had lunch on Shabbos with some friends, which started somewhere around noon and ended around 6PM. I don't think we were eating the entire time, it just felt like it. Our hostess is a good cook, which explains partly the length of the meal.



Not content with a full prandial day, I decided like a moron to stay up half the night editing our latest podcast. The sound quality has improved dramatically, but I still had to splice together a show out of 7-8 takes, and that took until 2AM. As it turned out I had no other time to edit anyway, so I'm glad I got it done so the rest of the group can review it. Still, there wasn't as much sleep as there ought to have been. Last week was among the longest, and most difficult in the 6 and 1/2 years I've been here - just a lot of grief from a lot of people, and a lot of work. I should've used my opportunities to sleep better, but that's life.



Sunday was jam-packed - I joined Mrs. at the picnic for her local La Leche League. I was surprised too - it isn't a group for leering at women! Mrs. has been crazed in preparing for this, which is why a) she was painting a banner at 4PM on Friday instead of getting dinner ready, and b) she stayed up 'til 2AM herself on Saturday night. The picnic was nice, but I was ready to go home before she was. I did take the time to try and continue working with oldest on learning to ride a two-wheeler (as we had a lot more open space at the park) but I'm afraid it didn't go all that well. She gets going, and then just stops pedaling. I'll take advice on strategies if anyone has them.



Home for a brief rest, then across the street to start preparing the surprise barbecue for the other neighbor in the house next door. Poor guy turned 50 yesterday, so we all assembled and I got grill duty. It came off without a hitch, I burned very little of the food, and Mrs. Skinny brought out a tray of blondies (which I made, incidentally - it was one of four trays made this past weekend) on which she wrote "Happy Not 50th Birthday Dan." For which I am grateful - mostly the not 50 part.



Home, kids to bed, watched Water, which turned out to be as funny as I remembered it, and collapsed into bed. All in all, a good if not exactly restful weekend.

Karl Rove Behind Another Plot!!!

You have to know that's actually coming:




Karl Rove to resign at end of August




One can only assume he wants to depress the nutters who will now have to change the tinfoil in their propeller beanies.



Unless he's secretly not leaving, and will be conducting his super-secret plot to destroy the world (women and minorities suffer most®) in an even more super-secret way...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

To protect the Guilty

I will not go into details here. But I hate my job, or at least the people who are making it unnecessarily difficult. The wrong people are making decisions, and other wrong people are getting on my boss' case about me. Despite the fact that the time pressure is their fault entirely, not mine.



I'm not quitting, but it does make me wonder why I don't sit on my tuchus and do a lousy job the way some other people do around here. Failure to act gets no one fired, so why should I bother trying to accomplish anything?



I don't mean to get whiny, but it's been an unpleasant few days at work lately. I know, boo-frickin'-hoo, but this is the bulk of my waking hours, and I'd like to think I'm not a completely useless lump of employee.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bias? What Bias?

So National Review has been making note today of an incident in the House last night where a vote was gaveled, meaning, I take it, that it is final. The Dem in charge thought it was a tie, when in fact it was passed. They then held the vote open so that enough people could switch their votes to the Nay side.




Republicans Angry Over House Vote




So the problem is it took me almost ten minutes to find a story about it in the mainstream media. Including the site I finally dug it up on, Fox News. Elsewhere, I get the standard fodder of "Administration screws up" "Gonzales must go" and "Bush Lied, People Died." But a mention of a flagrant violation of the rules by Democrats? Not a peep.



Leaving aside the particular importance of this vote, which appears to have been procedural rather than substantive, I can find no clearer demonstration of the crap that politicians play. Did the guy screw up and gavel too soon? Sure. Had he said "my bad - I screwed up, and I won't do it again" - no big deal. But to actively change the vote after? Criminal in my estimation, and worthier of censure than anything I've seen the libs claim about the administration.



Why? Because, for good or ill, there are supposed to be rules. They can be gamed, and bent, but they should not be broken in such a cavalier and clearly partisan fashion. Your elected government and mine is a cesspool of scheming dishonesty, and I'm embarrassed to be represented by such filth.



The press is aiding and abetting this kind of behavior, and they wonder why they are ranked so low on the trustworthy scale. Yes, this is a small issue. But you learn a lot more about people by how they handle the little things than how they manage the larger issues.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

How's this

for a personal recommendation?



Sean Penn praised by Venezuela's Chavez



One can only assume that Ahmedinajad and Osama himself are also writing letters on Mr. Penn's behalf to all the colleges he's applying to.



Remember, folks - who you idolize and associate with says a lot about who you are.

IT'S...JUST...NOT...FAIR!!!

The great grand-daddy of us all (many of us, anyway), El Possumo, Dr. Possum hisself, is hangin' it up.



Personally, I fail to see why something as meaningless as a job is more important than the way I waste my day when I should be working.



The fact is, Terry blogs in part so I don't have to. Looking around here, you can see I've fallen off the wagon a bit myself over the last few months. But I could always count on Possumblog to check three or four times a day to see something weird, interesting, intelligent, or ever so slightly off color. And that was only in the quotes he put up every week.



I'm only blogging here because of him and Jim Smith - the two of them noodged enough that I started this here steaming pile of crappy electrons. Though truth be told we can lay some blame at Jordana's feet - I only found Boss Possum after seeing a link to her blog from National Review's Corner blog. It seems odd that I should continue when he stops - seems like the chain, broken at the top, should fall apart.



But that, in essence, is the point of blogging - once started, no matter who egged you on, you're on your own. This isn't meant to be a moralistic tale of an aging, balding Jew, raised by his PossumPappy to finally blog on his own two feet. The heading for this post is, in fact, completely mistaken. It is fair. It's entirely fair that the real Terry - not the entertaining raconteur of my bloglife - should continue to grow as a person and live the life he needs to lead for himself and his family.



That it will impact part of my life is noticeable, but in essence irrelevant. Blogging is a pastime for most of us, not a fungible career. And when advancement calls, pastimes have to take second place. I will miss the daily conversations of Possumblog, which is where the real fun was for me. It was a chance to talk to folks I find entertaining, a place to trade one-liners and gently snide insults with a group of people I would never have met otherwise.



Look, nobody died here. Terry remains around, and emails are always available. Heck, I might even start blogging regularly again, in the hopes that I won't lose touch with the crowd I "met" over at PB. It's nice to call you folks that I've never even met in person friends, leaving aside the oddities of a New York Suburban Hebrew palling around with a Southern Rednecked Christian Goober (hmmm - I sense a sitcom plot in there somewhere...)



Life will continue, and there's no "forever" here in the blogosphere. There's no reason Terry won't someday return, even on a semi-regular basis. But in the meantime, the internet has just become a less interesting place to hang out, and that makes me sad.



Shalom, Possumblog.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Truth

will set you free:



A Senate Immigration Update



Or just prove that you're the big babies we all knew you were.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Well that's peculiar



The appearance of the word "crap" is apparently no longer damaging to young ears.



As a Noble Captain once said, "Damme, that's too bad."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Speaking of Medical Issues

Is the detail in this story really necessary?




Bush to have colonoscopy at Camp David




While I appreciate knowing that the President is being cared for, and that he's taken care of the constitutional needs of the nation, how much value is there in knowing that "The 2002 procedure began at 7:09 a.m and ended at 7:29 a.m. Bush woke up two minutes later but did not resume his presidential office until 9:24 a.m., after Tubb conducted an overall examination."



It's wonderful that the procedure only took twenty minutes, but let's face it - that's one event I for one would rather not have covered in quite such minute detail.

I'm sorry, did you say something?

Terry notes in an email that there have been no updates to you, my great unwashed masses, about my ears. The fixed one is in fact working perfectly fine, though I think the change is less noticeable than it was in the beginning. I notice things are much clearer in noisy situations than they were, although there are still times when conversations are a little hard to make out. I'm probably going to get the other one done at some point, which should help.



Updates on other body parts as events warrant.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Now, I like

Harry Potter as much as the next Muggle. I just finished rereading the first six books in anticipation of the last book in the series (though I have to wait until probably early next week for our British edition to show up). But this is a bit much:



U.S. college students seek the magic of Quidditch



I guess there are stupider ways for college students to entertain themselves, but is this really why these folks are spending upwards of $30 grand a year? I like geeks well enough, but can't they just go out and play an actual sport?



I can only imagine it's a short time before the "Co-ed, Naked Quidditch" t-shirts and sweats start appearing on campus.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hee hee hee

I love people with a sense of humor:



AIRPORT ATTACKERS TO BE CHARGED UNDER ANTI-SMOKING LAWS



It all comes full circle (H/t to the Corner)

Homina Homina

Check this out:



Drury, Gomez agree to deals with Rangers



This is unbelievably big - they were two of the top three free agents available, and the Rangers got them both. But it's a LOT of freakin' money, and long freakin' contracts. I think I'm happy about it, but the Rangers have gone this route in the past with terrible results (Eric Lindros / Theo Fleury / Valery Kamenski etc., etc.) They have to sign Lundqvist, and I really want them to sign Shanahan and Avery, so I have some concerns that they've picked up two guys and ignored the rest.



What's also up in the air is Jagr's desire to play with either Drury or Gomez. He played well with Nylander (who I am sure is now gone), and he can be tremendously temperamental. If the pouty, whiny Jagr shows up instead of the committed player of the last two years, it's two steps forward, one step back.



I'm pleased with the signings, but concerned. Thus a word to the lunatics - let's not award ourselves the Stanley Cup just yet. Buffalo's performance in this most recent season should serve as a warning - unbelievable regular season, followed by a disappointing post-season. When Drury and Gomez help the Rangers win the whole shooting match, I will happily apologize for being an unbeliever at the start of this.

Your Government InAction

Friends are scheduled to leave for an international trip this week. Friends sent in passport applications (renewals, I think) more than 14 weeks ago.



Friends do not, as of this moment, actually have passports in hand.



10 Hours in line on Friday in a building where no food is allowed, the guards are well beyond rude, and they still have nothing to show for it. With any luck, after a return trip to the office today, they will get what they need.



This is a basic document here, folks. I can't imagine any way this entire transaction should take more than an hour and a half. You should walk in the door with two passport photos, a birth certificate, proof of current residence within the US, and walk out the door with a passport. You could build a house in 14 weeks if you needed to - you can't print up a document in less time?



I'm telling you - they should have just gone to Tijuana and entered illegally - they'd have been welcomed with open arms by our federal government. Actual citizens? %$#@ you, get in line and wait like the losers you are.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Paean

to irrelevance:



Fast amateurs give ad makers hits and headaches



If you read the story through, several things become apparent. First, several companies including Pepsi, are allowing their consumers to produce their advertising for them. Hence, the expensive advertising firms they're paying bajillions to are getting suckers customers to do their work for them. Meaning someone, somewhere, is going to realize that it's pointless to spend those bajillions when they can have those same suckers customers volunteer to do it.



Another thing I noticed is that, as usual, the corporate types just don't get it. There's talk of mad scrambles to buy up media & technology companies to handle this kind of marketing. But anything done in a scramble is usually a bad idea - you haven't thought through the consequences of the mergers, or the needs, or how you're going to make it work. An ounce of strategic planning is worth a pound of edgy new media.



Finally, did these yokels really get to go all the way to Cannes to sit through dopey seminars? How the heck did they explain this one to the bean counters and get away with it? "Uh, yeah, Frank, I'm going to a conference on New Media and advertising - I'm gonna need a speedo and a wine budget for this trip. Plus a suntan lotion allowance." I am definitely going to the wrong conferences.



One dopey Reuters article does not necessarily a trend make. Regular ad firms will continue to swindle willing corporations out of millions to write and produce ads that make you want to put a sledgehammer through the TV (yes, I am talking to you, the 1800 Sleepy's folks and the creator of every car commercial ever filmed). But I think there's something happening here, and I think the ad folks should start thinking about this phenomenon in a methodical, intelligent way if they want to still mean anything to anyone but themselves.



Or they'll just keep churning out crap - what do I know?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

ehhh, What's Up, Doc?

This story gave me two distinct reactions:



15-year-old performs surgery in India



The first, naturally, is that I wouldn't trust the average 15 year old to take out the garbage properly, much less perform surgery. I accept that there are teenagers with exceptional abilities, but this strikes me as the most irresponsible act a physician can allow. I'm sure the father was there ready to take over if necessary, but this is clearly not something in the best interest of either patient. Yes, all doctors have to start somewhere, but home surgery is probably not the best idea.



That aside, I have to admit a second reaction - a certain admiration for the father breaking free of the constraints of the establishment to teach his son a trade. Granted this is not plumbing, but historically, I don't think every physician went to medical school. It was a trade you learned by apprenticeship to an established practitioner. I'm not suggesting medicine should return to the 18th century, but there's a hubris about the medical establishment that deserves taking down a peg or two.



Oh, I understand that medicine is not the same as blacksmithing or carpentry - people's lives are more generally at stake here. But I can appreciate a father wanting to pass skills on to his son. And I don't think that modern medicine has a stranglehold on absolute truth of the medical world. I believe the father deserves to be punished for what he's done, but it doesn't hurt to remind the medical world that it ain't entirely brain surgery.

Groundhog Day

I am beginning to understand how Bill Murray felt in that movie. Only because I continue to repeat the same conversations with certain people over and over. Things I (wrongly) assumed we had clearly established are open to conversation again, as if we never discussed it in the first place. As if the mockups we designed never existed, where we clearly laid out what we wanted.


As I said to my colleagues who were on the call with me - we have one action item. That's to go through this identical conversation again the next time they ask us to revisit.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Is it unreasonable

to ask that all crises, large and small, be held in abeyance until my current head cold is gone?



The leaking ceiling in one of my storage rooms at work was an unexpected (and, naturally, unwanted) surprise this afternoon. I am glad, in retrospect, that someone called looking for something in that room. I have on occasion gone several days, even weeks, without needing to go in there.



I was wondering why the door was opening with some resistance, until I got the light on and found a ceiling tile in several soggy pieces on the floor. And a steady (thankfully slow) drip drip of water coming down. I found one wet box on the floor outside the room (reason #1 not to store anything directly on the floor) where the water clearly seeped out from the VCT to the carpet. Happily the contents of the box are quite dry, reason #1 why things are stored in boxes.



I have no idea why there's a bleeder in the ceiling, or how this one went bad, but it's just example #3,765 of the problems I've had with the HVAC in this space. I might be more willing to work with this, but my throat feels like they just ran a road grader over it, and tea is not helping. Not even the swiss alpine-horn blowing cough drops are working.



I know, it's not quite a Swedish Crisis like some people have, but it's still interfering with life as I know it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I don't imagine

it occurred to anyone threatening this lawsuit to actually keep an eye on what their children were eating:



Kellogg to raise nutrition of kids' food



I'm glad that the company decided to improve the nutritional quality of the food they sell. But this is just example #45,681,298 of the continued lack of a)parenting and b)personal responsibility afflicting the world these days.



My kids get treat cereals. Only on the weekends, and only if they let us sleep in. A few bowls of Froot Loops once or twice a week will not make your kids fat. Especially if you take care of their nutrition the rest of the week. A bowl or two a day will make your kids fat. Solution? Don't let your kids eat too many sugar cereals or snacks.



Again, I'm delighted to see the company work towards making its products healthier. But threatening a lawsuit is the sort of crap that weaselly, mealy mouthed busybodies pull long before they ever bother approaching these companies with a reasoned request.



'Cause it's for the kids, you know.

Too good

I have a beef with the media, no question about it. I live for the times when their self-parodying existence turns around and smacks them in the face with a juicy piece of karmic response for the rest of us to enjoy. A little schadenfreude is not a bad thing, huh?



On the other hand, once in a while I feel a small amount of pity for journalists. Not the Katie Courics or Dan Rathers of the world (and don't think I only have a beef with CBS, they're just the convenient punching bags) to be sure, but the working stiffs who actually try and do their jobs with decency. Perhaps occasionally there's even a bit of integrity, hmmmm?



So that makes this story my rare example of sympathy for the fourth estate:



Kiss Me, Katie

Fairy tales can come true. Why, they can even win you an award from Dallas' less-than-vigilant press club.



The story is amazing - how a person with enough chutzpah can hoodwink hundreds of people and create a life that never really existed. I don't feel that bad for the people who hired her or the Board Members who let her do her own thing - they got suckered, and some of them should have been more vigilant. But I do feel bad for the people who entered their work for the awards. They worked hard on their stories, and deserved a real chance to be acknowledged for their work.



Give it a read - it's quite a tale. (And hat tip to the Corner for the link.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I understand

that race remains a touchy issue for a lot of people. And as a rule I have no real interest in discussing comparative suffering and its ramifications. But I have to ask this question - who on earth appointed the various hucksters that claim to speak for the entire black community? And why do these shysters continue to defend the indefensible?



I ask because of the following: Group announces support for Jefferson



When the William Jeffersons and Marion Barrys of the world are compared without irony to Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver (I am grateful at least that they stopped short of Martin Luther King comparisons), you have to assume that the moral stance of these defenders is awfully skewed. I'm frankly disappointed that any man of the cloth would step up and defend a man caught red handed. Innocent until proven guilty, to be sure, but this is hardly a Republican plot.



Can I also ask that people stop using the term "justice" when they mean "we want our guy to go free regardless of his guilt"? Justice has become a buzzword for the disaffected when they don't get what they want. Stage a protest or a news conference, scream "no justice, no peace", and wait for the news buzzards to lap it up like the trained dogs they are. Justice as it used to mean would suggest that guilty men pay for their crimes, and the innocent are cleared.



Let me also note my two favorite lines in the story. First, from the Feds:

Asked to comment on allegations aired at the news conference, Bryan Sierra, a Justice Department spokesman, said "I'm not even going to dignify that with a response."
and this one from a "supporter" of Jefferson's:
he said his confidence in Jefferson was strained by some of the evidence, in particular an allegation the FBI found $90,000 in bribe money in the congressman's freezer.



"That's hard to explain," he said.


You got that right.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Just as I was thinking

there wasn't anything to blog about, a gift from the fourth estate:



Fox reality show roils Texas town



Here's what I consider the critical part of the story:

"One of the last sacred grounds of integrity in local television is the local newsroom, so I guess I would say I'm disappointed to see a station, much less one in our own community, that has evidently sold its integrity," said Brad Streit, vp and GM for KLTV-TV, the ABC affiliate in Tyler.



Adds KETK-TV GM Mike DeLier of the NBC affiliate: "I see this as a stunt, and it's a self-admitted stunt and not a journalistic endeavor."



Al Tompkins, broadcast group leader for the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., is more blunt: "It devalues the work of real journalists who are trying to do real work. It doesn't do anything to help the reputation of journalists there and around the world."


No one, I repeat no one, but a group of journalists could refer to integrity, selling out, and journalism in the same breath without laughing hysterically. I give the GM of the participating station credit - he acknowledges the tawdriness of his profession, and is being honest. The rest of them just demonstrate the hackdom that is now their bread & butter. I suspect the other GMs are just mad they didn't think of it first.



In its own peculiar way, this restores my faith in America just a little.

And to prove

that I'm not going to disappear completely, here's a link of interest to the historically, architecturally, or technology minded folks:



Experience ancient Rome, virtually



What I love about such an effort is the sheer cleverness of it, and the ability to put technology to use to understand history. It's so much more useful for people to have a physical representation, even virtual, of a space at a point in time. It's all very well to show people a ruin of a column, but it's so much more meaningful to show that column in it's proper setting - part of a building, or the base of a monument, whatever.



No, the electronic version of the forum or the Coliseum is not as powerful as seeing the actual space; but it's much easier for most people to see it in it's proper context when you can see all the surrounding buildings and spaces as well.

::Sigh::

This seems to happen to me sometimes. I get into a period where time does not permit blogging, or I just run out of stuff to say. I think the last three weeks has just been one of those times.



I think the hiatus started because of a terribly sad event at work - a young woman I worked with on occasion suddenly passed away. She was 37 years old, and perfectly fine a day or two before, and then she was suddenly gone. We weren't that close, but I knew her well enough, and I liked her a lot. I had some thought about blogging it, but I found I just couldn't think of anything to say.



So, for good or ill, I ended up on hiatus. Any number of things have happened since - we've taped a podcast for our intranet, which I think will end up being a really neat addition to the site. It was a lot of fun to record, and the editing portion has been fun as well. We've also finally begun the work on moving to our new platform for the site, which does not look like it will be any fun at all. The three days of training I just went through for it were not entirely encouraging.



Mrs. Skinny's cousin got married this past weekend in Rhode Island, which created any number of logistical issues. The wedding was on Saturday, and began three hours before Shabbat ended. So we stayed in the hotel/wedding factory (we saw three others besides the one we were there for) for the entire weekend. It was mostly fine, though for various reasons we had to switch rooms in the middle of the weekend, and the water closet in the 2nd room was down the hall and also had an electronic lock on it, which is a problem for Shabbat.



We managed fine with the hotel, and the wedding itself was lovely. Mrs.' cousin is a little older than many brides, and we're delighted that she found someone. More importantly, the guy is a terrific gentleman, and we like him a lot. Two other pleasant aspects of the trip - we found gas for $2.91/gallon in RI, and we stopped for lunch in both directions at a kosher restaurant in New Haven, CT. that has fabulous cake. And extra buttercream frosting.



So that's the update. I'll try and be more on top of things, since I'm sure you've all been pining away for more blogging from me.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Two sort of interesting things

happened today at work. First off, we got to talking about new things to add to the Intranet. One of which was a blog, possibly for senior management. So we got to talking about blogs a bit, and I kept my mouth shut about my own little corner of heaven here. No point in making it easy for folks to see this crap - especially as one of our number has recently been outed. I just thought it was a funny conversation to be having, but I couldn't tell anyone else.



The other bit was the next part of that same conversation, where it appears our merry band of intranet geeks will soon be starting a podcast for our employees. It actually sounds like it could be a lot of fun, and my two partners in crime are more gung-ho about this than almost anything else we've done. I don't imagine it will be treasured by history as a podcast for the ages, but it still seems like it will be fun for us to do and I hope interesting for the audience.



I don't know which box we're trying to think out of, but I hope we're making some progress.

Busy Week

to say the least. My first full week back since the ear surgery, and frankly I feel like I've been running from one end to the other.



The ear thing is part of the problem. I have times where I feel like I can hear less than before, times when I can hear a pin drop (or my kids pounding on a window in their room, which actually happened), and a lot of time when I feel like I'm inside a tin can. I saw the doc on Tuesday and he says everything looks great, and I'll see him again in three weeks (though I can't play hockey until then - grrrr), but in the meantime I'm feeling a bit frustrated. It's actually hard to be in crowded, noisy areas - I'm getting sensory overload.



Which, naturally, is why I was in a succession of crowded, noisy places this week. I went to services at the high school near work, and while I knew the kids were yakking during services, I didn't realize just how loud they could be. Happily it quieted down, but still...



Tuesday was the big day. I went to a conference in Manhattan on streaming media, largely as one of my colleagues was presenting. We ended up schmoozing for a while on the vendor floor, and boy oh boy was I surrounded by noise. I was still able to follow the conversation, but it was a bit rough after a while. We made up for it (despite my elevated cholesterol) at the kosher steakhouse I go to when I can, which was a lot less crowded than usual (there was a recent controversy over the kosher practices there which have killed a lot of their business, apparently.)



Followed that with a visit to the old job to see a buddy, and the elevator ride to the 48th floor added to the weird ear thing. That was capped off with a dinner for my kid's school, where the noise levels were both disconcerting and not quite bad enough to drown out several unfortunately long thank you speeches by the financiers honorees. We did, however, win something in the raffle, which made up for the fact that they got my name wrong.



A 26" flat screen TV will make up for a lot.



It does lead to the "give a mouse a cookie" situation where we could really use HD cable service to take advantage of the TV, but I think I can survive until next hockey season starts up again (oh, and the Rangers really could've won that series with Buffalo, but them's the breaks.) Regarding the raffle, I don't feel like we're particularly lucky on these things, but we've now won something the two times we've gone to this school dinner thing, so I think we'll keep buying tickets every time we go.



The rest of the week has been work stuff and arguing with IT and all the usual crapahoola. Oh, and our neighbor had a baby last Saturday, so we had their older kids after they called us at 2AM to say they were going to the hospital. And we made them dinner on Sunday as well while mom & baby were still in stir. So it's been a long week.

T3 Potpourri

Last of the season, apparently.



1) If you could hang out with a famous living person for a day, who would it be, and why?

I guess Mark Knopfler would be my pick of the "celeb" world - he seems like a decent guy, and maybe in the course of a day he could teach me to play guitar like him. I'm not terribly good at this kind of question, partly because I feel guilty for not picking a Torah scholar or something. Some parts of my schooling are hard to shake off.



2) What sort of plans do you have for summer vacation?

Lots of family weddings, none of which are actually involving kosher food or simple Shabbat arrangements. No big plans otherwise.



3) Blake or Jordin?

Blake? Or Jordin? I'll pick Blake - definite Hall of Fame candidate, and Jordin's a third line player at best.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

MOOOMMMMMMM!!!!!!

I must be feeling better if I can handle a Thursday Three.



1) What three things do you think are (or were) your mom's best characteristics?.



She is remarkably generous with her time; she's talented at a number of things including sewing and baking; you can have an extremely intelligent conversation with her on most things.



2) And although we're trying to honor Mom, we still have to know--what is one thing she does (or used to do) that drives you absolutely insane?.



To quote Daffy Duck in Birth of a Notion, "You're a Slovenly Housekeeper." 'Nuff said..



3) If your mom is still in circulation, do you have any plans to do anything special for her this weekend?.



No - we never seem to make a big deal about it. Maybe if I'm up to it we'll take a trip to Brooklyn to say hi.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lego Update

Well, here I am, not much the worse for wear. I feel surprisingly good to this point - no dizziness, and relatively little pain. My ear still feels like the novocaine from the dentist's office, but as things go I feel alright.



Not going to work tomorrow anyway, but I feel OK.



Mrs. is currently sleeping next to me, so I'm blogging in a high-risk zone. We had to be there at 6AM local time, and we're all a bit wiped out. Since I slept for two hours during the Main Event, I guess I have a little more energy. Heck, I sent out an email to work buddies right after I got home. We were in the recovery area for a while, but home by 12:30 or so, and I guess things went well.



Though the doc said I have small ears for my size, whatever the heck that means.



In any event, there may be some blogging during recovery after all. Dunno if there were prayers for me out there in Blogovia, (not that any of you were obligated to), but I guess the Lord has plans for me yet, for which I am grateful.



With any luck, those plans will involve me hearing whatever instructions I am to follow.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Sad Obit

Astronaut Wally Schirra, fifth American in space, dies at 84



I admit my first awareness of him was on Actifed commercials in the 1980's, but he frankly deserved a longer obit than what he gets on CNN. It's the only no-register link available that I could see, so I'm posting it anyway.



Hat tip to Tony Kornheiser on WaPo radio for tipping me off to this news.



UPDATE: Let me note that the NY Times has a much more detailed obit (Click here for help with registration), and I didn't know Captain Schirra was from New Jersey.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Whew

Some times you catch a break, and the Rangers did last night. They played, on the whole, a wonderful game. Attacking offense, stifling defense, great goaltending.



Until. Until.



King Henrik, their otherwise outstanding goaltender, made a purely boneheaded move by going behind the net with about 20 seconds left when the Sabres had an extra man on. More importantly, he had a defenseman already headed towards the puck. I love Lundqvist, but he's done this a couple of times and it nearly bit them last night. Drury made a smart play, and probably had a goal. Thanks to replay, which was inconclusive, no goal for Buffalo and the Rangers get a win that I think they deserved on the whole.



Other comments? Poor choices by the rest of the Rangers in the last minute - they had more than one opportunity to clear the puck properly - get to center ice and fire towards the empty net. Either you get the goal, or you force them to go the length of the ice to attack again. Instead two players (Avery was one and I forget the other) ice the puck the length of the rink and force two faceoffs right in their own end. C'mon fellas, think - each faceoff creates more trouble, and it nearly cost them.



Buffalo looks average. Best team in the league all season, most goals, yadda yadda yadda. I said this about their series with the Islanders - they didn't look like a team that could steamroll an 8th seed, they looked ordinary. Certainly they won in 5, but they gave the Islanders every chance to stay in that series, but happily the Islanders suck and didn't take advantage of it. The Rangers have taken advantage twice, and I think if Buffalo doesn't get some urgency they're going to find themselves in a tough spot, and I still believe they can lose this series.



I certainly hope that's the case.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Word to the Wise

be careful what you put on the internet - it can come back to haunt you, or at least make people look at you funny.



A colleague points out a young person who recently joined the organization. Apparently, YP decided to announce on their Myspace Page that they had joined the organization.



Independently, an announcement of a new position naming the company and a myspace page with personal information are perfectly acceptable. The combination of the two, however, is a bad idea. Your new colleagues should probably not know certain things about you, and your employer may not wish to be associated with those things.



Skinnydan's First Law of the Internet - Don't publish anything there you would not be comfortable sharing with your mother, grandmother, daughter, or other genteel relative. These things always come back to bite you, and they never, ever disappear.

Monday, April 30, 2007

And, if I may

crow a bit, my beloved NY Rangers are in the second round of the playoffs, while certain other people's teams (::cough cough Jim cough cough::) are well into reducing their golf handicaps.



Yesterday's game nearly killed me, but despite poor officiating they pulled it out. I have high hopes for tomorrow's contest, and some hope they'll be able to win this series. Time will tell, but it's nice to be able to watch hockey I care deeply about in May.

WOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!

I'm back, no thanks to blogger. Mr. Possum emailed today to find out what in blazes happened to me, and the answer is that I &^%$$ed up. Not dramatically, but I messed with the template of the site and it caused lord knows how much trouble.



So I went ahead and solved it through a very ridiculous procedure. I made a new blog, built my template back up (including labels and links), then copied & pasted the whole shebang back into this site. So no more expanding posts (and no, I don't think I want to try & fiddle again, at least not for a while), no more duplicate posts, just the clean fresh scent of boring blogposts.



So why no posting? Blogennui, irritation at Blogger for the problems, unbelievably busy with work crapahoola, and finally, I have decided to bite the bullet. It would be literal if we were in the 19th century, but thankfully anesthesiologists have learned a few things since then. I'm going to go ahead and let some maniac with a scalpel cut my head open next week. At this point I'd be surprised if they found anything of consequence up there anyway.



No, not the lobotomy a friend suggested. They're going to give me some kind of bionic plastic ear - though it could be old legos they're sticking in there for all I know. I think I've mentioned before that I have otosclerosis - fused bones in the middle ear. So they're going to pop in some plastic ones that will do the vibrating that the natural kind are supposed to do. But don't because the warranty on my body ran out last year.



So, I seem to be back. I could do a complete wrapup of news, stupidity, and random thoughts of the intervening month since I last posted, but frankly I have more useful things to do and you're bored already.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Passover

Is here, I am with friends, and matzah is doing its usual number on my innards.

So that's the update.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

T3 - Homesteadin'

In the interests of not gumming up the works, I am dispensing with the extended posts for now. Perhaps they'll return when I feel like trying to fix the &^%$# thing.



Irregardless.



1. Do you still live in the town where you grew up? If not, what do you miss the most? If so, what has changed the most?



No, though Brooklyn to Long Island is not the greatest stretch (or culture shock) in the world. I don't actually miss a ton about Brooklyn. The Jewish parts have become "black", which in my world means hat. The more right-wing orthodox have spread throughout, and I really don't care much for the NY yeshiva-world type of neighborhood. Everybody knows everybody else's business, and you have to be as frum as your neighbors, and I really don't have a lot of time for ignorant narrowminded busybodies. That's what relatives are for.



I do have fond memories of the park near my parent's house, and it reminds me of home when I'm nearby.



2. Does your family still own the house you grew up in? Either way, what was it like the last time you saw it?



Oh yeah. My folks have been in that house nearly 40 years (which, not at all coincidentally, is nearly my brother's age.) They will probably never move, unless the neighbor they share a driveway with moves out. My dad sharing a driveway is a nuclear meltdown waiting to happen, and that's one of the few things I can see shaking them out of the neighborhood.



The house itself is a wreckage, but that has a lot to do with my mom. [ed. The rest will be removed for therapeutic purposes. This is a long-running psychological issue - you decide on who's part.]



3. What is the biggest change in the last 5 years where you live now?




Since we've been there five years, I guess I can actually answer this. I don't actually think a ton has changed. Obviously it has for us personally as the kids have grown, but the neighborhood is largely the same. Since we like it this way, that's a good thing.



I guess the one thing I'd note is that our particular street has gotten very popular - since we moved in 5 years ago I think 13 or 14 other orthodox families moved on the block, including oldest's best friend who moved from the other side of town. It's nice to be popular.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blogger Issues

I seem to be having a problem with my extended entries - I at least can't expand any of them. If anyone else can do it I'd be grateful to know - it will mean it's a problem on my end, not Blogger's.



If anyone's desperate enough to read all my crap, click on the post title and you'll get the full entry.



Grrr.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Oy I'm Tired

I've been going to sleep too late, I'm busy at work, and I think my life is out of control. Blogging has taken a backseat to trying to remember what I was supposed to be doing. There are any number of balls in the air, and while nobody's life is at stake, I'm having a hard time keeping everything straight.



Boohoo. Poor me.



To make up for it, below the fold you will see several fun Pesach-related news items, the last two are courtesy of my friend Stupid.



The first apparently puts to rest a story that was floating around here:



Kosher l’Pesach Gasoline?



There were rumors around here about that, and it sounded so bizarrely ridiculous that I was prepared to believe somebody actually wanted to remove the ethanol from gas to make it kosher for Pesach. Kitniyot may be owned on Pesach, and I believe you can benefit from it, so it struck just the right tone of a crazy Hebrew who wanted to be holier than the rest of us. I'm almost disappointed that it's fake.



Next, some genuine craziness from Genuinely Crazy Jews:



NY bus converted into oven for matzos




Leave it to some nutty chasid from Monsey to decide that a flaming school bus 10 feet from the house with an illegally tapped gas line was a good idea. Think of it as the Partridge Family with peyos, unleavened bread, and a complete disregard for safety and building codes.



And finally, thanks to the Israeli Chronic Lobby, we get this one:



Israel group nixes pot on Passover



Once again the specter of Kitniyot appears. Loosely translated as legumes, this is essentially an Eastern European minhag that is meant by non-fried people to refer to corn, beans, peanuts, and various other foodstuffs. These items are, again, not forbidden for ownership during Pesach by halacha, and I guess one can argue about benefiting from it.



So I guess the only thing to take from this is that Pot is essentially acceptable to those who eat Kitniyot during Pesach, and that one should be extremely careful during attacks of the munchies to eat only kosher L'Pesach certified snacks.



We report, you decide.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hurry Up! It's T3!

I'm a comin', I'm a comin' - keep your shirt on.



1. What are you supposed to be doing RIGHT NOW? (Aside from answering these questions, of course.)



I'm supposed to be figuring out what I'm supposed to be doing. I have plenty of stuff I'm supposed to get done, but I can't remember any of it.



2. How long is it going to take you?




Long enough to answer this and get some breakfast, which I always do at work.



3. What do you have to do after that?



I get to reprise my role as hand model for the A/V guys. Last time with Purell, this time with actual soap and water. Presumably for those benighted souls who can't use jelled alcohol.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

T3 - Ya can't get there from here

But you can play T3 if you're stuck in traffic.



1) If you only had one hour to show a visitor something interesting in your hometown, where would you go?



Depends on what you mean by my hometown. Out here on Lawn Guyland, I might take them to the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Uniondale. Despite its proximity to the home of the despicable NY Islanders, the museum would be a good introduction to the critical role Long Island played in the development of Aviation. Numerous aviation companies were based out here (Grumman, Republic, Sperry), and a lot of critical events happened out here. If my hometown means NY/Brooklyn, you could spend an hour on almost anything. A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge would be a nice start, and then you could wander anywhere.



2) If you then had to find that friend a great place for a quick bite to eat, where would you go?



Many years ago I would have taken them to the late, lamented Shmulka Bernstein's deli on the Lower East Side. It was THE kosher (NOT kosher style, where they treyf up food by adding nonkosher ingredients) deli/Chinese food place, the food was good & fast & sorta cheap, and the atmosphere was unbeatable. The place closed down years ago, and I still get sad thinking about it. Today I might suggest Mr. Broadway, which is along the same lines, but not as good and can't figure out what kind of restaurant they are.



3) Now that you’ve entertained them and fed your friend, it’s time to send him on his way. You’re not sure which way he’s going, but he’s got a fast red convertible, and you want him to see something nice as he drives. What route from your home to someplace else, either to the north, south, east, or west would you recommend to him as the most scenic drive?



For scenic I'd send them up the Taconic Parkway to the North through Westchester and up to Albany and points north. The other route that's not bad once you get up into Connecticut is the Merritt Parkway, which has some nice stretches. Don't use either if you're in a hurry or you don't like curvy roads, I'd find another road.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Irony

Thy name is Queen Rania:



She asks "What are you doing to empower women in your community?"



A wonderful question coming from a faith where women are routinely abused, neglected, etc. As a counterbalance, may I suggest this post from Breath of the Beast?



Look, you're a cute chick and all, but spare me the lecture, OK honey? When the women in your part of the world can go out in the street by themselves and not get beaten or raped, we can talk about what the rest of us are doing for women.

Thurs...ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

I'm awake! I'm awake! No I'm not.



1. Do you sleep on a feather pillow or foam?


Feather. In fact, I sleep on a pillow that's probably older than I am. Mrs. thinks it's hideous, but it is as mushable as a minutes old-marshmallow, and I actually take it with me on trips to sleep on. The underpillow is also feather, but much newer.


2. Do you like a firm or soft mattress—or other if you're an old hippie?


I'm not actually sure - I used to love a firm mattress, but increasingly I keep waking up with aches in various places. I can't tell if it's the pillow-top mattress, the way I twist & turn in my sleep, or that the mattress is now several years old.



3. Do you keep it cold and sleep under lots of cover, or hot and only a sheet?

I'm always hot, though I adjust to temperature well. Mrs. is always cold. I've managed to avoid the humongoid eight-foot thick down comforter only because we now have heated mattress pads - she keeps hers on "inferno" and mine is usually on "gentle warm breeze." In the summer time, mine is off completely.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

As you may have noticed

I'm mucking with the template a bit - trying to reduce the margin size and not feel so cramped.

Whaddaya think?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Purim Roundup

I finally have some time to talk about what was a truly spectacular success with Mishloach Manot this year. Mrs. says the idea was hers, but I don't think she's entirely correct. Both of us certainly contributed to the execution, so either way we both deserve credit.

It was truly a fabulous idea, and it all began simply enough two and a half years ago with a brief conversation with our then new neighbor...


Neighbor, you see, works for the Orthodox Union - one of the main kashruth supervising agencies in the world, certainly in North America. As one of their food

supervisors, he goes around certifying various products and manufacturing facilities. One of the tiny perks of his position are many rolls of kosher tape - like the big rolls of "caution" or "police line tape, only it's sticky and it says "the enclosed product is kosher unless the seal is tampered."



Now, whichever of us thought of it asked neighbor for a roll of the tape (which they had used to seal moving boxes) for some Purim deviltry. The idea was to apply kosher tape to a food product, or simulation of one, that would not normally be kosher.



Like, say, a McDonald's bag with a cheeseburger inside?



Indeed.



So was born an idea that it took us two years to execute - we just couldn't get it together in time for Purim before. But this year, Mrs. happens to have a cake decorating magazine with directions for something called candy clay. You take candy melts, add corn syrup, and Presto! - a moldable hunk of chocolate. Said magazine also contained instructions for? A BBQ grill, including burgers and hot dogs, made entirely out of candy.



How fortuitous.



Add the idea of yellow-chocolate dipped pretzels, Drake's apple pies, and a visit to a faraway Golden Arches to secure the bags and...



Well, look at the pictures and you'll see the results:




























The Burger, assembled

Y'want fries with that?

Three essential food groups

Open bag, with press release visible

And the deal, sealed



So, that's the deal. There were several pieces that would have put this into the stratosphere of legendary Shalach Manot - a happy meal toy inside (considered from Oriental Trading, but shipping would have been more than the toy itself), and as a friend pointed out, me in a visor & MickeyD's shirt delivering it, but I think we did pretty well all considered.



No, I will not try & top this next year. We're going back to simple, I think.


This is a test

Pay no Attention to This test.

This was only a test. If this was a real blogpost, your local emergency services department would arrive to provide you with educational tools and copies of Pride and Prejudice to make up for the brain cells you lose in reading this blog.

Thanks to Hackosphere for this new feature.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Packing up for the day

got an off-campus meeting which I will be late for if I don't walk out the door right now.

See you l'machar, or sooner if I check in from home.

A blog

I think worth looking at - Breath of the Beast. Tough reading sometimes, but important reading is often difficult to face.

Hat tip to the Corner.

Thursday Three, Antipodean Style

Many thanks to Kitchen Hand for hosting this week. I've had a hankering to visit Down Under, and now I can do it without flying 29 hours.



1) Here, it is the first day of autumn - Wednesday 1st of March. However, in some parts of the world, the new seasons do not arrive until the 19th of the month, or later; due to large cattle breeds called solstices and equinoxes that issue huge amounts of methane, which increases global warming and makes the seasons run late. Question: what is your favourite season, and why?



Early spring, which is increasingly in short supply around here - we get a few weeks of really pleasant, 65-70 degree temps (that would be 18-21 degrees for those of you in the Celsius/Centigrade part of the universe). It's usually a fairly quick turnaround from there to Bloody Hot & Humid, so I enjoy the brief respite of no jacket, no AC weather.



2) When you started your weblog, did you deliberate over whether to choose a nom-de-blog or use your real identity? What swayed you either way?



No deliberation at all - I went directly to nom-de-blog. I have a New Yorker's inbred paranoia about people knowing too much about me. Heck, my wife doesn't even know my last name. The only downside is I've chosen to use the name that covers most of my email addresses and other online names. It's increasing the odds that someone who actually knows me will stumble across me and I will be outed. But living on the knife edge is just how I roll, homey.



3) Discussing religion, politics or sex has always been impolite at cocktail parties, because of the risk of embarrassing face-to-face arguments. However, this is not a cocktail party, but a blog. And since the whole point of a blog is to have robust discussions, make a comment on the first thing that comes to your mind about religion, politics or sex. Pour yourself a martini first, if it helps. Don't forget the olive.




Try not to have sex with a minister who is also a congressman.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Eight Years ago Today

a poor, unsuspecting woman submitted herself to a life of shameful enslavement to a skinny, unpleasant, sorry excuse for a human being. This poor woman has had to spend 8 years dealing with an expanding gut, a receding hairline, and more snoring than any person should be forced to listen to. In return, she has provided joy, sweetness, light, and several unmentionable activities. She has done it without consideration for the complete lack of respect from her partner and his utter inability to hear anything below an opera-singer bellow.

Happy anniversary, sweets - I'm a lucky, lucky man.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thanks to IMAO

via Terry:

You Are a Smart American

You know a lot about US history, and you're opinions are probably well informed.
Congratulations on bucking stereotypes. Now go show some foreigners how smart Americans can be.


I'm a medievalist, folks, and I knew all of these.

And today?

I got my ears electronically scoped. I had a CT scan today to see what's doing inside my ears. I don't know that I'm definitely having surgery to address my hearing loss, but in order to make the decision the doc thought it would be a good idea to see what's what.

They told me on the phone the whole thing would take about 45 minutes, so I made the appointment for 7:30 AM. What I did not know is that the actual imaging would take about 5 minutes, and the wait time was 40 minutes. I was in fact out of the office by 8:15, but I didn't get in to be scanned until about 8:05.

It was, on the whole, an entirely painless experience. No blood, no needles, no clothes off - just lie on the table and wait for it to move in & out as they take pictures of my cranium. I'd be much less disturbed by medical procedures if they could all be that simple.

I don't need to wash my hands for a week

Why? The A/V guys needed a hand model yesterday to demonstrate how to wash your hands for some kind of screen saver project.

So I Purelled my hands about six times yesterday until they got the shot they wanted. But they're reallllllllly clean now.

Lots o' Stuff

Busy weekend in most areas. Oldest had a pajama party Saturday night, meaning she got home at 9:30PM, two hours later than usual.

Which would have been fine, except we had her own birthday party on Sunday. Yes, her actual birthday was in December, but we couldn't get the place until this week. Why? Because she wanted a Build-a-Bear party, and they're impossible to book between Christmas and New Year's.

So we shlepped her, youngest, grandma, grampa, cousin and 10 of her friends to shove packing materials into animal-shaped bits of cloth. It was entertaining enough, and odd that at least four of the kids picked the St. Patrick's day bear to stuff. I imagine there were a few raised eyebrows at home when the kids got back. They behaved well enough, but it was still a bit stressful.

Anyway, the family came back with us, grandma paid for lunch from the local pizza joint, and all was well until about 6PM when youngest started upchucking everywhere. I don't know if that's what caused it, but it put both me and Mrs. off our food, so only oldest had dinner on Sunday. It was a rough night for Mrs., but she was nice enough to let me sleep in the guest room so I got enough rest.

Of course, I spent two hours on Monday morning shoveling the inch and a half of snow we got. Sometimes a corner property has its downsides.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sigh. Can we go through this again slowly?

This comes from the AP:

Democrats move to limit Bush's authority

Look, all you stupid people. WHAT YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO DO, OR WHAT THE AP THINKS YOU CAN DO, IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

The Constitution of the United States unequivocally gives the responsibility of Commander in Chief to the President. The Congress does not under any circumstances have the right to limit the rights of the president in waging war. The only right they have is to provide or not provide funding for the wars the president wants to wage.

Why does nobody else get this?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What's so funny about Thursday Three?

What, I'm here to make you laugh? I'm here to amuse you? What is so ^%$%#@ funny about me?

1) Who is the funniest person you know personally in real life?

I would say my brother is probably the funniest person I know personally. He's extremely clever, and it mostly manifests itself with projects like his Mishloach Manot. As I said yesterday, I have a great idea for this year, but it can't hold a candle to his work.

2) Who is your favorite comedian (living, dead, or both)?


I never really thought about having a favorite comedian, but I guess if it's anyone, Bill Cosby takes the nod. If we extend it to musical comedy there are any number of choices - Spike Jones, Weird Al Yankovic, etc.

3) Which type of comedy do you find most humorous?


I think clever speech makes me laugh the most - probably why I like Gilbert & Sullivan so much, as word play is critical to making it work. A good pun always works for me. I can do without dirty/scatological humor, and I've never been a big fan of slapstick.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Not much cooking

over here these days. I haven't felt the urge, and I'm lacking inspiration anyway. There's plenty going on workwise, but in most respects it's just more of the same confusion and conflicting directives.

Life is fine personally, though the number in our bank account was an unpleasant surprise to me. Nassau County's stratospheric tax rates will do that to you, as we dropped more than our fair share of green for the County's special "watch us blow all your cash" program. I imagine the bleeding would feel lessened if we took out the money every month, but I don't see why someone else should be sitting on my money in escrow for months at a time.

So I guess I just have the winter blahs, and last night's Ranger game did not help matters. On a positive note, I have what I believe is an enormously clever idea for this year's Mishloach Manot. I am, in fact, tremendously pleased with myself for the idea, which I think will be worth many laughs. The full tale will have to wait a week and a half, as I don't want to ruin the surprise if anyone I know manages to find this blog between now and March 4th.

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

Friday, February 16, 2007

It's Oscar time!

and the Associated Press finds another way to make sure we understand what's important in the world today.

This year's Oscars are the most diverse ever

Look, diversity's fine in so far as it goes - I'm not disturbed in the slightest if all the nominees for the Oscars are black or hispanic or asian or whatever. To begin with, the Oscars are a celebration of narcissism and kindergarten politics. Second, I'm in favor of the awards going to people who performed best in the movies that year, and the color of their skin or their background is completely irrelevant.

The undertone of the whole piece, however, strikes me as the kind of pie-in-the-sky, look we're all one world crap that the diversity mafia have been cramming down our throats for the last thirty years. The fact is, the Oscars were created by the American film industry to acknowledge the best in American film. It happens to include all these other people now, and that's fine, but I feel like the AP thinks this is how things ought to have been all along.

Maybe it's paranoid, but I feel like next year there'll be a story complaining if the nominees aren't as diverse as this year. The industry remains overwhelmingly American, near as I can tell. There are plenty of foreign actors to be sure, but if there's a new crop of movies starring American, white actors, will there be a complaint that it's not reflective enough of world society?

I guess what's bugging me about the headline and the article is the pursuit of diversity for diversity's sake. By itself, diversity is merely a vehicle for hucksterism and not-at-all veiled racism. What I want out of people is competence, regardless of skin color or ethnicity. In a truly diverse and open society (as America is now, whatever some may say) the diversity of the candidates would not need to be mentioned. It only has to get brought up by people hyperconscious of the ethnicity of the people they're covering.

Ah, maybe I'm just being overanalytical.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This post

marks my 500th as a blogger. I've been aware of it's impendance for a while, and I resolved not to try and pad my postings just to get to it. Clearly it has arrived anyway.

As a historian I note anniversaries in a way I guess other people don't. There's nothing especially notable about 500 moreso than any other, and when you're talking about blogging, the relative value is lowered as compared to say, the 500th toothpick used at the annual Mango Lover's International conference.

Either way, when I started this nonsense I had no large plans beyond distracting myself from stuff I'm supposed to do. Blogging in most cases (this one included) is largely an exercise in online onanism, which is appropriate given the most common use of the internet. I clearly had 500 posts worth of stuff to say, and I leave it up to the rest of you as to whether any of it was worth reading.

Blogging has made me some virtual friends, and given me an opportunity to talk to folks and read things I would not have otherwise. Sure, I could do that without writing my own crap, but this way no one can say I'm only taking useless garbage off the internet and not putting any back.

Pass it forward, right?

20 MPH

is what I would recommend for anyone out on the roads today around here. It's mostly freezing rain, and my office is at the bottom of a fairly significant hill, so I hope the tires are OK. The place is more than half empty, and I haven't done a single useful thing all day. There's a conference call at 3PM, so I won't have to break my streak of uselessness.

Incidentally, the bandwidth stormtroopers were blocking access for much of the AM to my very own blogsite, for reasons I can't figure out. They were claiming it was inappropriate content, which I think is ridiculous. Useless and boring I grant you, but inappropriate?

Ridiculous. How's a guy supposed to waste time around here?

Monday, February 12, 2007

MIT

AKA, Moron-in-Training.

After the school thing, my folks came over and spent time with us. I also had my dad listen to the attempt to start Mrs.' minivan.

Why, might you ask?

Well, someone I am related to either by birth or blood seems to have left one of the lights on in the van all Shabbos. Naturally I couldn't turn it off, so it stayed on. Right after shabbos I went and turned the light off and the car on, and it started right up. I should've left it running, but I didn't, turning it off after a minute or so. Yesterday morning, rushing to get to school... tick tick tick tick.

We take my car instead, and when I get home I ask dad to take a listen to make sure it's not something more serious. It is, as you car people know, just the battery. The car had been to Honda a few weeks back, and the guy told us there was a battery problem. He jumped it enough so we could pass inspection, but I told Mrs. not to have him change the battery - there's no point in letting them charge me $95 labor when I can do it myself. Incidentally, the terminals were crusted with crud - I don't understand why the Honda guy couldn't take two minutes with a wire brush to clean it off, but I guess that would've been another $95.

So off to AutoZone, where as it turns out I had bought the thing originally. He tests it, and I don't know how many amps it is supposed to turn out, but near as I can tell it was actually producing less than one. He checks the record, and the battery is about 2 1/2 years old. Not new enough for complete replacement, but enough that they gave me $30 off the cost of a new one. Went home, got the battery in, and then skinned several knuckles trying to get the stupid hold-down bar thingy into position. I've done this replacement several times in the past, and this part is always the one I hate. It always comes off easy enough, but never back on.

Thank the Lord for barbecue tongs - I had to use them several times to retrieve various bits & pieces that fell into the engine compartment. I'm clearly not cut out for self repair of major items. I had enough trouble with the minor ones. The other dopey part is Honda's security code for the radios. Like a lot of others I imagine, they protect the radios by requiring a security code before it can be used. Naturally, every time the battery is disconnected, you have to reset the radio. No problem, as I wrote the code down on the computer somewhere.

Didn't I? Wait, I know it was in this file? Or this one? Where is the &*^%$ thing?

Happily, it was still buried in the back of my head, and on the third try I got it right. I am going to write it down again, but we'll have to see if I can keep track of it this time.

Nachas

Yesterday began with oldest child's Siddur party/play at school. Each first-grader is given their very own prayer book to keep, which they will use to learn the prayers as well as Hebrew. It involved a lot of singing, and each child had a short paragraph to say in Hebrew. Not only did I borrow a video camera for the event, but we even managed to get front row seats near where she was, so I had a good view. I have many doubts about my skillz as a videographer, but nobody expects academy award winning cinematography at a first grade performance.

She was wonderful, as were most of the other kids. The most rewarding part for me was watching her after she received her siddur. Like most of the other kids, she was sitting on the floor, poring over the text and reading to herself. It was all unrehearsed - apparently this was built up so well by the teachers the kids couldn't wait to look it over for themselves. Her teacher actually saw us at another school event last week and said she had mentioned something in class in passing and they all picked up on it - I saw it in action as oldest went right to that page to look it over.

My parents even made it, which is tremendously impressive given that it started at 9AM, which is the middle of the night for my dad. I'm glad they did. The whole thing was done so nicely, and it reassures me that we're spending all these gazillions of dollars on yeshiva for a good reason. Mrs. said to me in the car on the way home that she's even more pleased that we decided to send the kids to yeshiva. Yes, we could save money by sending them to public school, but this experience of learning the language and faith of our people is so much richer in this environment. We really like the school a lot, and she is clearly learning to be the Jew we want her to be.

Nice job, kiddo, and may this be the start of a deep and abiding love for Torah, Tefila, and the faith of our ancestors.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Training called

over the last two working days, which I hope excuses my absence. (nothing can excuse my presence, so I'm not going to even attempt it.) I zoned out of much of the class - he got into stuff that I certainly will never need to adjust. Unless I suddenly have to rearrange the servers and access permissions, in which case we're in a whole heap of trouble.

Happily, after six months talking about the Magic Software that would be worth all the cows we could trade for it, I finally got to try & make it grow into a beanstalk. The results are somewhat encouraging - I have been able to get the thing to do some of what I want. Navigation out of the box (and by the way I have grown to loathe the phrase "out of the box") kind of sucks, but that's why we have to learn to do our own stuff.

The best part? I now have a Virtual PC setup with a virtual server, and I can finally get in to muck about with the software anytime I want. It has no practical effect on what we'll eventually be doing, but now instead of asking "hey, can we do that?" I can actually see for myself if we can do it.

There's work ahead to be sure (and several more training classes to go), but I'm no longer flying utterly blind.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lest I be accused of lollygagging

I am actually around. I'm simply trying to figure out why no fewer than six people need to spend 5-6 weeks working on rebuilding functionality that exists natively in a particular piece of software. Especially when the whole purpose, saving some people a single click on a mouse, will easily be defeated as the scale of this effort grows.

I'm trying to be circumspect about this, but the bottom line is this is a huge waste of time, and I'm extremely PO'd about the whole thing.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thursday Three Admixture

1) What is the last product you recommended to a friend?

Probably the database program I use for archives work, which I have recommended repeatedly for its ease of use. I also recommended switching hosts to the Board of a local Archives group (I serve as webmaster) and they finally agreed to do it this week. Besides saving us more than $300 a year, there's a lot more I can do with the new host.

2) What is your favorite section of the grocery store?

I think I agree with Steevil that it's all of them, with the exception of the paper goods/cleaning products/pet supply areas. Ice cream and cookie sections are always fun.

3) Joe Biden--lunatic, or idiot?


What about bigot? Oh, right, white liberals can't be bigots or racists.