Friday, December 28, 2007

An observation

Benazir Bhutto's assassination and turmoil in Pakistan is going to have a huge effect on the world. That includes us, in the United States.

But I bet if you asked the average person on the street what's going on in that country, who Benazir Bhutto is, the role Pakistan plays in the "war on terror", Pakistan's relationship with India and Afghanistan, and so on -- you would get blank stares.

That's just sad. If you don't know why Pakistan matters to you, I recommend reading up. The Economist is a great place to start. Check it out.

Our friend Severo, summed up the loss very eloquently on his blog.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Today's Lesson: Don't Buy Food From Me With Change Only. I'll Never Forget.

Few things cheese me off so much that I feel the need to rant about it via blog, but this did it.

OK, I get it, it's sort of cute and quaint that this adorable old guy has been squirreling away his change for the last ten years or whatever, just waiting to buy that new truck. But, seriously folks, IT IS NEVER COOL TO PAY FOR SOMETHING THAT'S MORE THAN FIVE DOLLARS IN CHANGE ONLY.

Perhaps this hits too close to home. When I slaved away as a cashier at a Cracker Barrel during college, one family thought it would be fun to pay for their $50 dinner with quarters. My head very nearly exploded.

I could see how a reader might accuse me of being ageist. Perhaps, after all, this man isn't accustomed to this crazy new world, filled with iPods and baggy pants and Coinstars and online-only high yield savings accounts.

OK, maybe. But here is my response:

1) I'll bet this guy knows what a bank is, and that over the years his friendly neighborhood bank or credit union could have been slowly transferring his coins into dollars. He still could have taken those dollars back home with him to stuff under his mattress, if he was so inclined.

2) I can't conceive of a world--past or present--where paying for something with an ass-ton of change was welcomed and socially acceptable. Even at his old nickel-and-dime store in the 50s, I can't imagine that this dude paying for $5 worth of purchases with pennies would have been embraced.

If you want to save up your extra change all year long, that's great. But either learn to deal with the complexities of Coinstar or your local bank, or prepare to meet my (increasingly bitter) wrath.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rudy Guiliani goes for the Elf vote

Endorsements from fictional characters. That's a bold move indeed.

5 year olds everywhere are convincing their parents to vote Rudy to avoid the inevitable stocking of coal.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The spirit of Christmas is...

... Billy Idol

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Museum After My Own Heart

I’m not really a fan of most museums. I get bored kind of easily, and just standing around pretending to appreciate something has never been my thing. But, give me the proper subject matter (and trust me, it’s pretty much never going to be something that existed more than 100 years ago) and I’m all yours.
Which is why this mafia museum in the works totally caught my eye. The best part is that the museum is receiving some support by the FBI, meaning that it’s not just the creation of some mobster fan-boy. The museum will feature transcripts of wiretaps, photos, etc. And the museum is tapping history professors to get in on the act to help them find more authentic stuff to populate the museum with. The museum unfortunately won’t open until 2010, but I’m already thinking about a trip to Vegas to check it out.

Sammy "The Bull" Gravano might bust out of the pen for a chance to see the new mob museum in Vegas.

So, the announcement of this new museum made me think of the few other museums that I’ve really been jazzed about. My top three:

The Newseum. Unfortunately, this museum is currently closed but is reopening in 2008. I checked out the Newseum the first time I visited D.C., when I was a sophomore in college on (appropriately) a journalism trip. Plenty of cool—and geeky—stuff to see here, including a gallery of papers from all over the world depicting major historical events.
Museum of Modern Art. I’m not a big art buff, but I do have a thing for modern art. MoMA is cool because in addition to more traditional art, it has several exhibits featuring photography, plus a room filled with furniture and other “functional art.” The last time I checked out MoMA was in May, when the museum had a super-cool exhibit focused on the font Helvetica. (There’s also a documentary on Helvetica,which is coming up very soon on my Netflix queue. Geeky squee!)
The Sixth Floor Museum At Dealey Plaza. Many of you know about my fondness for true crime stories and conspiracy theories, but few of you know that my fascination about the J.F.K. assassination was once so strong that when I was 10 years old, my school sent me to the regional 4-H speech competition with a speech—a very compelling speech— I had written outlining the various conspiracy theories surrounding J.F.K.’s death. My fascination was, of course, inspired by the Oliver Stone movie JFK, which my parents took me to see in the theater. Again, when I was 10. But we’ll save the discussion of appropriateness for another time.
Anyway, there’s plenty of awesome to be had in the sixth floor depository at Dealey Plaza. For starters, you can stand on the spot where Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly fired the shots, looking right out on to Dealey Plaza and viewing the motorcade route. Then, the newsophile in you can check out old newspapers and listen to broadcasts that aired across the country just after the president was shot. It’s amazingly cool.

Maya Angelou on Hillary Clinton

I'm a big fan of Maya Angelou;s work and her presence as a voice for women and social change, so when I came across this I thought it was worth passing on.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chimney Sweeps and Miracle Chocolate

Early last week I was faced with a major problem -- my home smelled of death. The odor was so bad that I couldn't even stay at home one night. The suspected culprit, a raccoon. It turns out that I have two chimneys that serve as a raccoon recreation paradise.

Well, I hired a chimney sweep to take care of this problem and inspect my fireplace to see if I could easily make it functional again. I learned two important things from my chimney sweep:

1. Both chimneys in my house are disintegrating from the inside and need significant work. It will be a while before I can afford to make my fireplace functional, because right now I have to stabilize it and make sure the chimney doesn't cave in on it. Bye bye fun funds... ahhh the joys of homeownership.

And here's the weird transition....

2. There is a miracle chocolate called Xocai that can heal a variety of health problems and prevent aging when you integrate it into a wholesome diet. I realize how random this is, but my chimney sweep spent about 30 minutes telling me about this while he wrote up the estimate for the necessary and painful work necessary on my chimneys. My chimney sweep is a very vocal advocate of this miracle chocolate product (selling it is a side business for him) and frankly you can't help but enjoy learning about something new from someone who is that enthusiastic. He's really the perfect spokesperson, as he says that after a very serious heart attack, the chocolate helped heal his heart.

Anyhow, the moral of the story is that I really wish I had something to get THAT excited about. I'm notoriously even keeled. I really don't get down about much, but I don't really get super excited about anything either. It's a trait that serves me well in most situations, but sometimes I want my own miracle chocolate.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Holy Locust!

Ok, so this is some biblical, end-of-days insect craziness. I knew our Newser widget would come in handy. How else would I find this stuff?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Building my biker gang

Lately I've been feeling pretty pitiful, from a personal health and fitness perspective. I'm sluggish, tired, up quite a few pounds, and antsy to have that awesome feeling that comes from being in shape again. Lest you forget, a little over a year ago I was in the best shape of my life, having completed my first century ride with the Team in Training program. If you've never tried Team in Training and want to have the best training and motivational experience out there, I really encourage you to give it a shot.

Anyway, I'm the type of person who works from goals. This summer, I wanted to complete a duathlon, but the damage I did to my poor feet during my famous century wouldn't let me train for several months. So, I just slowly turned into an out-of-shape pile of mush. Don't get me wrong, since the century I've done some decent 30-mile rides, but not enough to feel good about.

So, here's the new goal:

One major ride each month from May to September, culminating with a century ride. Yep, that's right -- I want to be back in century condition. So how am I going to do this? With my bike gang of course (accepting applications).

I'm actively recruiting my friends and their friends to join up. After all, everything is more fun with a group. Training will start in March. The starting ride will be on May 4, 2008 -- 50 miles of the Cincinnati Chili Ride sponsored by the Cincinnati Cycle Club

I'm pretty excited about this idea and encourage anyone who loves to bike to join up. We may even have special bike gang jerseys if enough people are interested.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Getting Into The Holiday Spirit

I have a love/hate affair with “The Holidays,” that period of time that has come to encompass the end of November, all of December and now seems to even be encroaching into January. This is not to be confused with the hate/hate relationship I have with Thanksgiving, covered in my most recent post.

Anyway, my holiday likes: hot chocolate, the abundance of food that suddenly appears at everyone’s houses, Christmas trees, gifts, snuggly hoodies, all the typical sappy stuff, etc.

What I dislike: the expectations. I feel like the holidays are so romanticized by everyone—including America’s biggest retailers—that we have come to expect it to be this magical, warm, happy, fuzzy time where everything is perfect and the sky is filled with marshmallow clouds.

I don’t like the pressure. So I get bummed out pretty easily during the holidays, probably because I’m thinking about how I’m supposed have an ecstasy-like high during this time period, when I really just feel like I do the rest of the year. Except busier. And more full.

One of the things that seems to really perpetuate these expectations: the endless spool of Christmas songs that play over and over from Thanksgiving to Christmas in pretty much every retailer, not to mention the heavy play holiday songs get on the radio. Usually, I’m not feeling it. It makes me kind of headachey. But, I don’t want to be a grinch. So, in an effort to get more into the holiday spirit this year, I’m trying to figure out my perfect holiday playlist. Unfortunately, the holiday songs that I truly, truly enjoy hearing are pretty few. So I need some suggestions. Here’s what I have so far.

Wonderful Christmas Time-Paul McCartney
Happy Christmas (War is Over)-John Lennon
Happy Christmas (War is Over)-Melissa Etheridge
O Holy Night-New Orleans musicians (coordinated by the Tipitina Foundation for the holiday episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip)
Mele Kalikimaka-Bing Crosby (and yes, totally on the list just because of its inclusion in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation)

Suggest away!
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