Thursday, November 10, 2011

Social Dancing, Anyone?

- - When I was a kid in times long ago, my parents actually made me take a course in social dancing, which was apparently something that people really did during times even longer ago. About age 13 at the time of these lessons, back then I would sooner have had flaming bamboo splints shoved under my fingernails, being that dance lessons involved wearing uncomfortable clothing for a prolonged time and physically touching members of the opposite sex in a chaste fashion while learning something that I was not even remotely interested in.

Taught by an elderly woman who might have been considered hot during the flapper era, the course taught me to do dances such as the Waltz and the Fox Trot, advancing to such decadent things as the Cha Cha. I have in the many years since waited in vain for someone to ask me to demonstrate my profound mastery of the Fox Trot, but sadly no one has.

I guess that I'll have to file my knowledge of social dancing along with other things that were required and painful to learn, but which I've never had to actually use in the real know, things like algebra...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

To An Athlete Dying Young...

- - Smokin' Joe Frazier has sailed into his rest, seemingly like many amateur and professional athletes dying young in his 60's. Considering the list of many professional athletes, it would seem like they (with some exceptions) while exceptional physically in their youth do not necessarily live longer than the rest of us; boxers in particular take a beating, quite literally. The same might be said of amateur athletes; a family member of mine who was a three-letter athlete while in school also died in his sixties.

--Could it be that the candle which burns brightest burns shortest?--In any case, pass me that Little Debbie snack cake while I watch the idiot tube!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Enough, Already!

- - It was just November 4th when I ventured into a Walmart, there to be assailed by the store music being played, and my God!  They were playing Silver Bells!  Wandering towards the foods entrance, I beheld a giant Xmas tree extending from floor to ceiling, fully decorated.  Additional Xmas carols continued to batter my poor eardrums, fully seven weeks before the holiday.  In a few meager shopping carts resided the pathetic remains of Halloween, now being sold for 75% off...Thanksgiving, the forgotten and oppressed holiday, was limited to a few wretched rows of greeting cards.

Something tells me that it's going to be another long and wearisome season of Christmas, the two month long holiday...

Monday, October 31, 2011


- - It ain't fair, I tell 'ya; guys like me wait all year in eager anticipation of Halloween, only to have it diminished by a freak pre-Halloween heavy snowstorm in my part of the country.  As if the hovering presence of the Christmas juggernaut wasn't enough! 

Now Halloween is many things, but snow isn't really one of them; snow's a winter backdrop, and is kinda contrary to the spirit of autumn.  Yes, the air should be crisp in fall, but six inches of snow goes way beyond a nip in the air.  There'll be plenty of snow later on, when it's supposed to be here; fall and Halloween really don't need the intrusion!  So where do I go to demand a refund and a full accounting for the Nightmare That Stole Halloween?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Waiting for AI...

I've liked robots since I was a little kid. Robots make the perfect friend; they're discrete, helpful, obedient, and quietly awesome. Robbie the Robot from the 50's movie classic "Forbidden Planet" was one of the first 'bots I had ever seen, and it was love at first sight! I even had some metal robot toys modeled after Robbie; if I still possessed them, they'd be worth a bundle.

My love for robots is why I can't wait for true artificial intelligence to get here; I want interactive robots around the way that people now have cell phones. You know how "The Jetsons" had "Rosie the Robot?" It would be something like that...

...but the future doesn't get here fast enough. We should be on Mars by now...we should have flying cars by I guess my household robot's gonna have to wait, too...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Horror!--The Horror!

The August 23rd Virginia earthquake was probably the biggest non-event in my area since the Apocalypse predicted by Rev. Camping, and like the apocalypse that wasn't has also drawn far-right religious whack jobs out of their holes babbling about the "End Times," often in association with the Obama administration.

For the scientifically minded, however, the earthquake is a reminder that the Earth is geologically active, and that earthquakes are possible even if unlikely in almost any location. So, for that matter, are asteroid strikes.

And for the terminally shallow, the greatest hardship posed by the earthquake was that their cell phones were temporarily inoperative in the Washington area, making it briefly impossible for them to "
Tweet" about their experience! - -Why, the very fabric of society might unravel!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Days of Summer Past

- - Forgive me, but some people get awfully wimpy when it gets hot. If you've walked on this earth for a few decades, probably you can remember when not every place was air conditioned; go back a bit further, and the majority of places were not air conditioned. I've attended non-air conditioned schools and shopped in non-air conditioned stores and markets; I've lived in non-air conditioned houses, resided in non-air conditioned dorms, and ridden in plenty of non-air conditioned cars on the hottest of summer days. I didn't die...sure, it was hot and it was uncomfortable, but everyone else was likewise suffering. It's just the way that it was in the not horribly distant past. To state the obvious, most of human existence occurred prior to the widespread use of air conditioning. People tend too often these days to confuse inconveniences with real problems.

There was a time when only ritzy stores and movie theaters boasted air conditioning; theaters would post signs outside to lure you in that said, "Come on's COOL inside!" It was a real treat to go inside a movie theater for a few hours back then to escape the summer heat. Home treatments for hot days included cold drinks, popsickles, and maybe an electric fan. You'd sit outside at night because it was often cooler out after dark than inside within your house.

The vast majority of cars were of course not air conditioned, and you hoped that you could drive fast enough to get some cooling from open windows as you traveled; forget about keeping your hair neatly styled! Car upholstery in those days tended to be vinyl, which could get hot enough to burn skin when the vehicle sat out in the sun. Vinyl upholstery also doesn't breathe or allow much air circulation, so you sweated when you sat upon it and stuck to it.

All of this is submitted as a reminder that many today don't realize how good they really have it...and that the "good old days" weren't really that great!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fun With Language!

- - I often amuse myself by imagining how alternative meanings of language might play out if implemented in reality. At a restaurant for breakfast, for example, I was told that Janice would be my server. Then my mind is off to the races...

Janice: (in tennis togs) "Hi, I'm Janice! I'll be your server today."
Myself: "Great!--Burn one in here, Janice!"
Janice: "Alright then!--Service! (tossing ball up)--* THWACK!*
Myself: "Good shot, Janice! Took out my water glass AND my coffee mug!"
Janice: "Thank you, Sir! Can I bring you anything else?"
Myself: "A bandage, perhaps? And maybe a hard-boiled egg?"
Janice: "I'll see what sociopathic eggs I can find in the kitchen, Sir."

In this manner, you can brighten up many dull events, and your companions will wonder why you are often smiling to yourself!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rushing the Seasons...

- - Hitting a craft store the other day for art supplies, I was taken by the fact that all summer seasonal items were out on the curb for clearance. Walking into the store, I felt like I had entered a time warp and exited sometime in late October...there were garlands of colored leaves for sale, as well as other items that I normally associate with later fall.

Now given the fact that we have just passed the 4th of July and that summer is a season I like to have around, I'm none too eager to rush into fall. But have you tried to buy summer merchandise recently?--Good luck, it's probably on the clearance rack, which can pose a problem if you're looking for a specific clothing item or size.

What this means for the consumer is that you've got to buy at least certain items several months in advance of anticipated need, which is no small trick if you're the kind of person who usually can't see with certainty beyond the coming week. To me, next month is the future. I don't have a handle on the fall yet, nor do I want to deal with it during the month of July. Always living several clicks ahead of the present is a good way to screw yourself up plus lose out on the advantages of the present moment, which many philosophers assure us is of the highest importance.

Rushing the seasons has contributed mightily to the expansion of Xmas into a several-month holiday observance...and mark my words, you'll see the beginnings of advance Xmas promotions shortly after Labor Day!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day...

- - On this Earth Day, let's pause to remember that reuse is the highest form of recycling. In some areas, however, we're discouraged from doing that.

I walked into a Staples store recently to try and purchase a memory upgrade for an aging computer of mine, something about three or four years old. The kid who waited on me practically snickered when he heard about the age of the computer, telling me that they had nothing available and recommending that I look on the secondary market. A three or four year old computer is apparently judged fit only to be used as a paperweight or a doorstop; jeez, I've got socks and underwear in service older than that!

Not to be deterred, I went on eBay, and with a modest investment of time and money procured the memory I needed, elsewhere learning the details of its installation. After delivery, I installed the memory, quadrupling what was on the computer. With the added capacity, I was able to upgrade the operating system as well. My computer runs much faster now and can do everything that I want it to, plus I have the satisfaction of having saved it from a premature and unnecessary demise. It was a heck of a lot cheaper than an entire new system, too.'s a practice worth encouraging this Earth Day!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hurtful Children

- - Those who wish we'd all get along like children have obviously never been a child. Some of the most vicious, hurtful, and potentially damaging things that have ever been done to me were done to me when I was a child by other children.

While under the age of ten, I was once dragged the length of a large swimming other older children. They pulled me by my legs so as to make it impossible for me to stand up and breathe. I never knew who my assailants were as they grabbed me from behind; fortunately I knew to hold my breath while being dragged underwater.

Once while walking through a secondary school cafeteria in my early teens, my mechanical pencil was ripped from my pocket by an older male who held the pencil by either end while his seat-mate karate-chopped the pencil in half. When I expressed my displeasure over their actions, the pieces of the pencil were thrown at my face, its jagged edges opening up cuts. I never even knew what their names were.

As a child while shoveling my parents' sidewalk free of snow one winter, this simple action or my odious presence was apparently enough to cause an older male child to start kicking snow back over the cleaned path. Again, I never even knew his name.

These cited examples are not all-inclusive, but are simply remembered instances that come to mind illustrating how cruel children can be to other children. Probably you can think of numerous other examples of your own from your own personal experiences.

--So we should all learn to get along like children?--Generally speaking, this is not a good idea!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Not-So-Good Old Days...

-- The past is calling...and usually what it says is, "Wasn't it great?"

I usually get one or two e-mails a week of the type from well-intentional people that suggest that everything was better in the past. You know what I mean; they say things like, "Remember when you could leave your house unlocked and not worry?," or "Remember when you could leave your keys in the car and not have it stolen?"

Yeah, I do remember...but such flashes to the past are usually selective and far from comprehensive, regarding the past with rose-colored glasses. You never see a nostalgia item that proclaims, "Remember when blacks and gays were regarded as sub-human?," "Remember when we lived in fear that the Russians might bomb us back into the stone age?," "Remember when lots more people died at an earlier age?," or "Remember when religious and sexual bias were operational and institutionalized?" These things, too, were part of the past, but are conveniently excluded from too many flashbacks.

There were many cool, commendable, and noteworthy things about the past, but it was far from golden and returning to it might eliminate some problems but create others. All in all, it's well to remember that the "Good Old Days" weren't all that great...

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Mistaken Identity?

 - - The political far right loves to demonize President Obama as a dark-skinned, war-hating socialist who wants to give us all health care...

...they've apparently confused him with Jesus!  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Need for Moderation...

- - He stares at you from the news screen, looking like a demented Uncle Fester from The Addams Family; the Tucson, Arizona shooter.

If you have heard the inflammatory speech being issued in this country for years now against those of dissenting political views, you are perhaps not totally surprised that hateful speech has found translation into hateful action. Prolonged exposure to the politics of hate and extreme partisanship tends to incline marginal and emotionally disturbed minds in this direction.

The underlying mentality seems to be that if you disagree with the political philosophy of duly elected officials, it is acceptable to demonize and oppose them with every breath and every action that you take. Gone is the notion of "the loyal opposition" that accepts even if it dislikes the will of the majority, and works within the system to seek a common ground or at least awaits the next election to seek the installation of other candidates.

Political extremism and vicious intolerance are not American values, and must be repudiated by both political parties and any third parties that arise. We are also overdue to get serious about gun control in this country so that domestic terrorists and other warped fanatics can't continue to attempt to write their own versions of history drenched in blood and twisted in their own image...