Saturday, October 16, 2010

Forgive Us Our Debts

Thanks to Esquire Magazine for showing me Stabilize The Debt, an interactive budgeting tool that lets you try to deal with the Federal budget. It is located here , and it may show you that balancing the budget isn't as easy as it sounds. Esquire's budget roundtable is in the latest issue, the one with Minka Kelly (sigh!) on the cover, and is well worth reading, if you're into that sort of thing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flash Friday: Cruel Friends

It's 52/250 time, and my story is called "Mind Games". You can read it here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday Wickedness from Who?

It is Wednesday again, and our pal Janera has 10 questions, usually based on statements by a celebrity. This week, she selected Kim Kardashian, who I think is related to OJ Simpson's friend Robert Kardashian from back in the 1990s. That's a pretty loose definition of "celebrity", in my view. But that's just me.

1. "White is actually one of my favorite colors. I have a white car. I love white." Tell us about your first car.

An ancient silver Audi sedan. I loved it to death-literally. Driving into Manhattan to see Miss Saigon, it overheated and died. 

2. "I've just had enough of people misrepresenting me. Get to know me and see who I am." Have you ever been paranoid?

What are you trying to say?

3. "I opened the store myself. Even Paris and Nicky Hilton -- they`re completely independent too." How old were you and what were you doing when you became independent of your parents?

At 23, I got married and moved into an apartment with my wife. 

4. "I want to be a Bond girl!" Have you ever wanted to be in the movies?

I guess. Not really. It never seemed like a viable option, so I never really thought about it. It seems like fun. 

5. "I would never snub Hugh Hefner. I love him and his whole team." How much money would it take for you to pose nude?

5 bucks. If someone wants to see me nude, they are more than welcome. So far, I'm not besieged with offers.  

6. "I think my sense of style is evolving. I'm figuring out ways to be sexy without having to flaunt it." Who are the top 3 sexy celebrities in your opinion?

Hmmmm. Celebrities? I'm not sure who qualifies. Michelle Obama, for sure. Carrie Ann Moss. The woman who plays Juliana Margolies' assistant, Kalinda, on "The Good Wife".

7. "I'm the girl who's too shy to dance in a nightclub — maybe for one song, and then that's it." Tell us about the last time that you danced in a nightclub?

The first and only time, as well as the first and only time I got drunk, was on my 21st birthday, when my friend Paul took me to the Bahama Beach Nightclub in Nashua, New Hampshire. 

8. "I want to be pregnant by the time I'm 30, hopefully." Since normal people don’t decide on having kids depending on their age, what factors do you think are important when making that decision?

As the old joke goes, when you've decided you don't ever want to sleep or have sex again. 

9. "My balance is really bad. I just hope my clumsiness doesn't show through". Is there anything about you that you hope doesn’t show through?

My plans for world domination. 

10. "I eat less junk food, hardly any soda, and just try to eat more protein. I definitely can’t give up sweets all together, so I just toned them down!" How does one “tone down” their diet?

I guess she means not eliminating them, just consuming them in moderation. That's actually pretty sensible. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday Mayhem: Advice Corner

The fine folks at Monday Mayhem have posted six questions this morning about giving advice, and I like few things more than that. Be warned that taking advice from me about anything is kind of like getting clock management lessons from Andy Reid, but be that as it may: 

1. What's your best advice to people who auto-play music on their site?

I don't like it. I love music, but it's bothersome when you open up a site and music comes up unbidden. 

2. What is your best advice to someone thinking about getting married?

In all seriousness, it's kind of like having a baby. If you have to think about it, weigh pros and cons, you're not ready. If you HAVE to do it-if you can't stomach the thought of being without them? Then you're ready.
3. What's your best advice for someone wanting to purchase a new phone?

I have had no problems with the IPhone. None. They have a terrible reputation, but I've never had an issue with dropping calls or inability to get a signal.
4. What's your best advice to offer to the younger generation?

Work for yourself. You have the ability, more so than in any time in the past, to make your living by the sweat of your own brow and make yourself rich. Don't work for others. And above all, DO WHAT YOU LOVE. Get excellent at it. Eventually, people who aren't as good as you will pay you to do it.
5. What's your best advice for anyone wanting to buy a car?

Hyundai. I hate to say it-I've been a Ford person for years, but my last two cars have been Hyundais, and they are an order of magnitude better in every way.

6.What's the best advice to give to everyone?

The golden rule-do unto others. It's thousands of years old, but it's the only universally applicable rule I've ever heard. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sick Again

So, not long after that last post, your Humble Correspondent, being susceptible to the thousand shocks that flesh is heir to, checked himself into Hotel Illness. (By The Way, the over/under for Tortured Music And/Or Literary References In This Blog Post is currently 3.5. I advise you take the over.)

Turns out I was developing a leg infection, which makes me wonder where exactly it is my legs have been that cause them to come down with all these infections. I'm a fairly fastidious person, personal cleanliness wise, and yet my legs, apparently, are out doing unspeakable things without me. Bad form, legs.

So after approximately 36 hours of feverish delirium, I am well enough to pretend to be alive, and appear to be able to function- well enough to go back to work, anyway. I am going to live, it seems-and whether or not that is a good thing I will leave, as the hoity toity math books put it, as an exercise for the reader.

A Few Things I Noticed Since I've Been On The Moon:


When I called the Person In Charge Of Such Things to tell them I couldn't work yesterday, the reply I got was that "it was a good thing" I "called early enough."

Uh, what?

Listen, I'm calling you because I can't go to work. Not because I don't feel like it, not because it would be uncomfortable for me to do so. Not because I don't feel well. I WAS CALLING BECAUSE I COULDN'T DO MY JOB. PERIOD. At the moment I called, I probably could have spelled my name, if you spotted me two letters. Higher thought was pretty much out the proverbial window. I wouldn't have been any more able to work if I had called you later, or even not at all. I'm very sorry to have inconvenienced you with my body's frailty, but it happens. If I call out sick, it's because I'm unable to function enough to perform competently. That's it.

As I like to joke to coworkers, if I called in sick every time I didn't feel well, you'd never see me again-I haven't felt well in more than 20 years.

Hey, American Business? If you're wondering why you keep getting reports of bad service from your customers, why don't you start treating your employees more like human beings and less like pack mules with a better evolved central nervous system?


I spent the day yesterday in bed watching Ken Burns' "Baseball", which I have been buying disc by disc from the Baseball Hall of Fame, because I'm stupid. (I'm paying $25 per disc, and I've seen all 9 on sale for $100 or so. Once again, if you had any doubt from reading this blog, relieve yourself of that doubt right now- I'm stupid.) I only stopped when there was, y'know, baseball on-I then watched the Naughty Fish climb back into their series by beating the Walker Texas Rangers, and then the Twinkies climb out of theirs by being dominated by the MFYs. (If you need to know what that stands for at this point, I'm not sure what to tell you. It's the nickname for one of the two sides of the Civil War, preceded by an act which Freud alleged was a subconscious motivation for men.)

Now, I say "watched", using the term loosely. I was feverish, and prone to dropping off to sleep at various points. But I was conscious for probably 60-70% of it.

I have seen bits of it, the way I usually catch such things-stumbling into it on PBS, or when MLB Network plays it during the offseason. But I haven't exposed myself to so much of it all at once as I did yesterday.

Oh my goodness gracious, it's good.

If you're a baseball fan (like I am), and you haven't watched it (like I hadn't), you have missed something special (like I had).


Yesterday, as @ebertchicago so calmly noted on his Twitter feed, "John Lennon should have been 70."

Anyone who reads as much history, speculative history, and science fiction as I do, knows that playing "What If?" is a fool's errand.

But I've always been a fan of fool's errands.

One of the more tantalizing ones is told very well in one of Spider Robinson's later Callahan's books. (I've seen it elsewhere, but whether it is true or not only one living person knows for sure. Call it a rumor based in fact. Or something.) At one point in the mid to late 1970s, a businessman offered the Beatles $1 million to get back together. (It may have been $1 million each, I don't know. I suspect it would have had to be to get them to do it-all four were pretty wealthy, I suspect, at that point. I don't know, but it really doesn't matter.) The appeal made news, of course-and, as a joke, the producer of the fledgling Saturday Night Live show, Lorne Michaels, went on SNL one night offering the Beatles $20, during the show, to reunite. The kicker is that, again, according to the story, Paul McCartney was visiting John Lennon in his apartment at the Dakota in New York City, and they are watching the show together. Now, the show is, of course, live-and it is performed and recorded in New York City-a short cab ride away. So the two Beatles look at one another and shrug and figure, as a lark, they would go down to the studio and take Michaels' offer. So they call a cab. The cab never comes, or they change their mind, and nothing happens.

The way Robinson tells it, of course, you picture the two Beatles jamming with the SNL band (it would be ragged and sloppy, but I suspect you could step into any recording session in the world in 1975 and ask the musicians to play "I Saw Her Standing There", and they'd probably be able to do it without too much trouble), falling back in love with their music, then either touring, maybe (how big would THAT have been) or going back to record at Abbey Road together, and maybe, just maybe, when the troubled loner with the "Catcher in the Rye" paperback and the Charter Arms revolver shows up that night in December 1980: the key point in this alternate universe-Lennon isn't there.

Of course, Lennon may not have done any of that. Maybe he and McCartney would have quarrelled again right after SNL, and history plays out as it did anyway. He could have become a more popular Bob Dylan or Neil Young, if he had lived, living off of past glories, but still pushing forward, offending some fans while making some new ones. Perhaps his years of drug abuse and drinking would have caught up to him in the end, or perhaps he would have simply expired from cancer or some other more natural cause like George Harrison, not seeing 70 in any case.

We're left, in the end, with history as it is. We're left with this, and other suggestions of what might have been. We're left with sons without fathers, a wife without a husband, and a world without an artist.

That sucks.

Happy birthday, John, wherever you are.


Today (in my hemisphere, which is, truth be told, really the better hemisphere), 10/10/10, is Binary Answer Day. The Answer To The Ultimate Question To Life, The Universe, and Everything, as all Douglas Adams fans know, is 42. And 42, expressed in binary, the language that computers speak, is 101010.

That is so awesome I can't even describe it.