Friday, November 4, 2011

Elemental Crap

Ok, a friend of mine shared a really funny picture on his Facebook account:


 Of course, being the joker I am, I had to make my own. I hope it hasn't already been done, and I hope no one gets upset with me for sharing something that isn't mine (Ah!) and taking it a step further:


The element Bu is Group 2 element. As such, it is a shiny silver-white color (paradoxically so, given that we tend to think of it as dark and dull). Furthermore, it is highly reactive, as pretty much everyone who has ever come across it knows, and is therefore not usually found alone in nature, though with work it can be isolated.

Note that Bu precedes Ah!, both on the periodic table as well as in nature - one usually has a certain amount fear (or at least trepidation, a lighter isotope of fear) before surprise. Thankfully, though present all over the world in small amounts, fear is rarely found in large quantities in any one area at any one time. This is very fortunate, as Ah!, a much more common element, becomes unstable and dangerous in the presence of large quantities of Bu. The chemical reaction:


turns into a nuclear reaction when Bu is present in concentrations greater than 1.728 moles/L. Under such circumstances, Bu and Ah! fuse, giving rise to Cp-497 (crap-497), which forms spontaneously in the Tw of those in the immediate vicinity. Bb seems to afford protection from this reaction, though causality studies have not been performed, and Bb users ardently maintain they have a natural immunity (deemed "the coolness factor"*) to the BuAh/Cr transmutation. If this is indeed true, then exchange of Bb for Tw would not transmit "the coolness factor," but would merely be a waste of Bb.

It is important to note that free Cr-497 is stable, but highly toxic and potentially deadly. Contact with it can cause any number of nasty diseases, any or all of which quickly become self-perpetuating. Upon discovery of free Cr-497, it is imperative that the element be immediately buried, and thorough decontamination of all contact surfaces must be judiciously performed. Once buried, Cr-497 undergoes spontaneous fission over a period of weeks to months, forming various isotopes of Fz.

Symbols:
  • Bu - Fearious, commonly referred to as the element of fear
  • Ah! - Surprisium, commonly referred to as the element of surprise
  • Fz - Fertilizium, commonly referred to as fertilizer
  • Cp - Crapius, commonly referred to as crap. It also goes by many other names, too numerous to mention here. Tomes have been written concerning Cp and its effects (ask a librarian where to find info on Crap)(e.g. Everything You Have Ever Wanted to Know About Crap But Were Afraid to Ask), and for readers interested in learning more, I may post an essay on the subject in the near future, depending on the expressed level of interest.
  • Tw - tightus whitus, commonly referred to as tighty whities
  • Bb - Briefium boxerulius, commonly referred to as infinitely superior to Tw, both in comfort and protection, as well as durability and resistance to ridicule from sexual partners.
*note: there are those who postulate that "the coolness factor" is also a natural element (Fc, Figora captant), found only in certain individuals, which cannot be isolated, reproduced, or transmitted ("Either you have it or you don't"). This author rejects that hypothesis as an overly simplistic explanation of a complex phenomenon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Sunday I was watching Fareed Zakaria GPS, and I was struck by something. You see, he had Paul Krugman on, along with Steve Forbes (Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media), Chrystia Freeland (Global Editor-at-Large of Reuters) and Bret Stephens (of the Wall Street Journal). Paul (excuse me, Mr. Krugman, if I am so forward as to call you by your first name) took the position that the Occupy Wall Street movement is a good thing because it reminds us how we first got into this financial mess in which we find ourselves, and reminds us that we haven't done anything to address the problems leading up to our financial collapse.

Ms. Freeland seemed to agree with Paul, at least on many points, while Mr. Forbes and Bret seemed to disagree, Bret more strongly than Steve. I've recently seen Paul on other shows as well, and frequently those opposed to his opinions seem to dismiss him as not understanding the way things work (it seems like human nature to say to those with whom we disagree, "You don't understand - you've missed the point."). I find this quite odd, as Paul won a Nobel Prize in 2008 for an economic theory relating to how free trade affects globalization, specifically how some countries do very, very well while others do poorly.

Meanwhile, Steve, though a business man, seems to have spent most of his time in journalism. Likewise, Bret may have attended the London School of Economics, but at the tender age of 28 he landed the job of editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, and is currently deputy editor of the editorial page at The Wall Street Journal. I therefore assume he, too, is more journalist than economist.

If anyone in this group can say, "Excuse me, you don't understand economic behavior," it would be Paul. (I leave Chrystia out of this because she did not poo-poo Paul's theories).

Paul is an economist who writes a column. I follow Paul on twitter because I like his posts. I have taken to reading at least some of his blog entries because I like what he has to say. I am no economist, and there are things about which Paul speaks that I simply do not understand. In such cases, I have to ask myself, who do I trust? Just like Sunday. Do I trust Steve, a business man who may be protecting his own interests? Do I trust Bret, someone with training in economics but who has spent his whole professional life on journalism? Or do I trust the Nobel laureate who knows economics and has little interest in doing anything other than informing me (us) on how we can make things better?

I would not ask a reporter who writes articles on medicine to treat my cancer - I would go to an oncologist. The reporter may know quite a bit about medicine, but the oncologist is the clear choice. Likewise, I will always give more credence to the Nobel Prize winning economist than the reporter with an economics background.

GO PAUL! and #OWS!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jamey Rodemeyer

I was trying to avoid posting something about Jamey Rodemeyer, but I am having trouble ignoring it, so here goes:

For those who are unaware, last week (9-18-2011) 14 year old Jamey committed suicide. The factors which contribute to something like this are many and varied. In Jamey's case there had been a history of bullying, but as a health care professional I have to say that this by itself is not a cause of suicide. It is a contributing factor.

Nevertheless, I am astounded at the actions of many in this case (though I shouldn't be - it happens all the time). Bullying should never be acceptable. I am sure the bullies - and their parents - at this moment feel no remorse and no sense of responsibility - after all, they did not kill Jamey. Jamey killed Jamey. Yet responsible they are, and accountable they should be.

If a person commits a felony, and in the process of that crime someone is killed, the perpetrator is charged with murder. It doesn't matter that they did not intend to physically harm the victim: if the crime had not happened, the death would not have occurred. I think this should be the case for bullying. If you bully someone who then commits suicide, you should be charged with homicide, the degree of which would be determined by the nature of the bullying.

Some, notably Lady Gaga, are calling for a new law to be enacted in Jamey's name. I don't think that should be necessary, though since bullying itself is not a crime, I do support Lady Gaga's efforts. And may I offer some wording for Jamey's law?

The excuse, "I was only bullying him, I did not pull the trigger/put the rope around his neck/etc." is as valid as "I only ran over that person because I was drunk and s/he was in my way."

And that says a lot, coming from me. Why? Because I so totally disagree with our current "justice" system. But that is a topic for another blog entry.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Homework

I have always loved to read. When I was in elementary school it became obvious to my parents that "grounding" me was not a very effective punishment if I was allowed to read, so "not being able to read" had to be part of my grounding.

However, when I was in junior high reading became a chore. I constantly had to write book reports, and they had to be written a specific way, and had to be about books from a specific list ... and I was never really interested in any of the books from the list.

So for years I didn't read - well, not anything that wasn't specifically assigned.

Also, when I was young, I would come home from school and do my homework first. It usually took me about 1/2 hour to 1 hour. After that I had time to do my chores and then have fun (play with my friends, watch TV, whatever). I remember I loved school - it was great to go to a place where I could spend 6 hours with my friends, the work wasn't that bad, and I was able to get very good grades.

But now I notice that kids come home from school and have two, three, four hours of homework - most of it just for the sake of giving homework. In my opinion, that's too much. I find it hard to believe anyone could enjoy life having to do that much busy work. The system seems to be geared toward driving the enjoyment out of life, just like my middle school drove the love of reading out of me.

I'm back to loving reading again. It happened in high school when I got to a pair of teachers (two years of English) who said, "Yeah, read whatever you want and then come tell me about it." It was much easier then to read things I liked and then discuss the book with someone else who had read it. I got to read Frankenstein, The Phantom of the Opera, Lord of the Flies, a couple of HG Wells stories - all very enjoyable, all thanks to teachers who wanted me to enjoy reading, not find it a chore.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Class Warfare


For several weeks now this notion of "class warfare" has been bantered about in the media. Actually, it's been used before, but recently it's been gaining in popularity, and I completely understand why. Do you?

Let me begin by introducing the word of the day: demagoguery. Excuse me if I borrow the following from Wikipedia (mostly because I like the goofy letters used in pronunciation keys):
Demagogy (/ˈdɛməɡɒdʒi/[1]) or demagoguery (/ˈdɛməɡɒɡəri/[2]) (Greek: δημαγωγία, from δῆμος dēmos "people" and ἄγειν agein "to lead") is a strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the prejudices, emotions, fears, vanities and expectations of the public—typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist, populist or religious themes.


The concept has been discussed since ancient times, as far back as we have been able to trace intelligent persons willing to discuss the tools their leaders use to increase the number and dedication of their followers. Look at that definition: impassioned rhetoric, prejudices, emotions, fears, vanities - anyone think these are positive qualities? Anyone think these are tools to making good decisions? Anyone think decisions based on demagoguery will lead to a better future?

So back to "class warfare." The phrase brings to mind a battle in which one (or more) classes is pitted against the others. It implies that there is an attacking party and a defending party. If there is an attacking party, said party may be attacking justly or unjustly. The same can be said of the defending party (defending their position, whether that position is defensible or not). The Grand Old Party maintains Obama has called the middle and lower classes to arms against the upper class.

I must say, I like John Fuglesang's observation: 'Class Warfare' is when the bottom 98% fights back (http://twitter.com/#!/JohnFugelsang 19 sept 2011). What I don't like is that this presumes we are fighting a war - which I think Obama is trying to avoid. It presumes that asking people to pay "their fair share" (jeeze, whenever I say or think that I hear it falling out of the Governator's mouth) is tantamount to the opening salvo at Lexington on April 19, 1775 or Gavrilo Princip's two shots on June 28, 1914. At this point, Obama has only asked that those who have more, give more.

Let me use an analogy: Jeff has a decent income. He is neither rich nor poor. David and Betty make much less, and Carla and Rebecca qualify as legally 'poor.' Theo is a multimillionaire. They are all "friends," and Theo says, "Hey, let's go to dinner at El Torito Grill."

Jeff orders Surf and Turf, which consists of a 6 oz filet mignon and 8 oz of lobster tail. $45
David and Betty each decide on a 1/2 pound hamburger with fries. $25 each
Carla and Rebecca go along reluctantly, mostly due to feeling socially obligated, and split an appetizer. $9 each.
Theo also orders the Surf and Turf, but since he eats at El Torito Grill at least 3 times per week and always brings a bunch of friends, his meal is comped by the chef.

Is it fair for Theo, the richest of the group, to not have to pay for his meal, while Carla and Rebecca have to pay $18 for an appetizer? Would it be "class warfare" for Jeff to mention to Theo, "Hey, maybe you should talk to the Chef and ask them to not comp your food, since you can afford the meal much more than Carla or even I?"

I don't think this should be a war, and it only is because of demagoguery: the Grand Old Party knows that by mentioning "class warfare" they will get a visceral reaction from their constituents, a gut instinct to vote against yet another war.

As John Stewart says, let's tone down the rhetoric and make some sane decisions to get our country back on the right track.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

DemBashing


I don't know why, but my family constantly sends me spam - most notably my mother and my sister. Since much of it is political, I wonder if maybe they're trying to convert me - but whatever.

I guess I should start by saying I am an apolitical socially progressive fiscal conservative (read: Marc is all over the map). My mother and my sister appear to be hard core republicans if not tea partiers. Usually I just try to avoid the politalk because I don't think it gets me anywhere except smack in the middle of Argueville. However, when my family sends me emails - even spam - I at least glance over it to see what it's about.

The thing is, whenever it is political, it's not just info or opinion, it is flat out bashing of any democratic candidates or office holders (current or past, doesn't matter). Every email I receive demonizes democrats, as if having one in office will bring about Satan's rule on Earth. And whenever I fact check any of it, it's always half-truths or complete lies.

What I wonder is, why does this always seem to be the Republican/Tea Party tactic? I'm not saying that there are not lies floating around about Republicans or Tea Partiers - but I have never seen a Republican or a Tea Partier demonized in spam. I hesitate to say it, but it makes me think they don't have any substance to offer, so the only thing they can do to make themselves look good is to make everyone else look horrible.

I have to be wrong. I just have to be. But I haven't found the proof. Anyone?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Disney and Konrad

On Friday I visited IMDb.com (one of my frequently visited sites). As those who frequent the site know, and for those of you who don't let me tell you, at the top of the page they always have 3 photos side by side, and clicking on them takes you to a trailer for the movie from which the picture was taken. Well, on Friday they had something that drew my attention - a trailer for a Disney movie called "The Odd Life of Timothy Green."

I don't know what drew me to the trailer, but something about it kept whispering to me "Konrad." Now, the premise of the movie has nothing to do with Konrad (I'll explain), but let me say that the movie did look interesting, uplifting, and basically Disney-ish. Translate that into, "McClure thinks I should go see The Odd Life of Timothy Green."

That said, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about Konrad. I am willing to bet NO ONE reading this has any idea who Konrad is. Or was. Well, is, because, as a character in a book, he is immortal.

Give up? I bet even a google search won't help you here.

Konrad was a book I read in junior high. The main characters were, of course, 10 year old Konrad, and his "mother," Mrs. Bartolotti. Notice the quotes around "mother." Mrs. Bartolottoi is not Konrad's mother - nor anyone's at all. She is already past child bearing age and lives alone. She is quite an odd woman, and one day, when the door bell rings, she answers it to find a strange and unsolicited package.

Even stranger, inside the package is what my 12 year old brain stored in memory as a 'dehydrated' Konrad. I think of him like a raisin of a boy, because he pops out of the package, startling Mrs. Bartolotti, and demands she shower him with a special liquid that was delivered with him. Once showered, he rehydrates into what appears to be a normal 10 year old boy.

Except he's not normal - because he is normal to the point of boring, whereas Mrs. Bartolotti is odd, maybe even a bit batty. And then there's the fact that this package was delivered unsolicited - Mrs. Bartolotti had not ordered a 10 year old son, did not particularly feel she wanted one in her life, and worse, had no idea of how to take care of one. Of course, the contrast of his mother's eccentricities with his normalcy is what makes the book so interesting (at least to my then 12 year old mind). And, of course, eventually the factory from which Konrad was sent discovers the shipping error and wants Konrad returned. Unfortunately by that time Konrad and Mrs. Bartolotti have bonded. What's a factory boy and his reluctant middle aged eccentric mother to do?

So no, this is not an article about the lack of imagination in Hollywood. Timothy Green appears to be a very different story than Konrad. Similar enough to make my old brain remember a story from so many years before, and wonder if that book can even be obtained anymore. After a major search, I did find that Konrad was written by Christine Nöstlinger, and is available on Amazon.com.

And yes, I highly suggest reading it. :P

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Michele Bachmann

Yeah, I know - I've been absent for a while again. I get busy - and frustrated. But I'm back for another try.

I just saw Michele Bachmann interviewed after her Straw Poll win. I don't understand the obstinate nature of the Tea Party, insisting on a course of action economists inform us will only worsen our budget and credit rating crisis. In particular, she says two things I think everyone in the WORLD agrees with, and yet they are total lies meant to play on our sentiments. They are meant to stir up fear and anger, allowing unscrupulous politicians to use things such as "the default of America" as bargaining chips to further their own political careers, which Standard & Poor's flat out told us is the reason we've been downgraded.

The first thing she says that bothers me is that we (as a country) should not spend more than we make. That sounds so true, and yet it doesn't always work in reality (and NEVER works in a recession). She makes it sound like the US is going to hell in a hand basket because we've decided all our children should go to the most expensive private school, we have to have the most expensive package of not one, but EVERY cable and satellite TV provider in EVERY room of the house, and we're dining out nightly on caviar, veal, truffles, etc, after which we're so full we can't drive home so we need to stay in the MGM Grand's The Mansion.

But that's not the case. It's easy to say, "Hey, cut back on expenses," when the majority of your expenses are luxuries (actually, I've spoken to a lot of people who get into problems because they can't figure out how to spend less than $500 per month on their non-business phone and they can't imagine their kids in public school, but that just means their priorities are out of whack. A fat lot of good it will do to take your kids to private school in their new bedroom, the 1982 Mercedes you bought to replace the repo'd 2010 Landrover). The problem here is that the country has already put the metaphorical kids in public school, we're already watching TV via antenna, we're already dining on Mac N Cheese and Stone Soup every night, and we've already downsized from a queen to a double bed in our own apartments. So when little Justin turns up with Hodgkin's disease, do you just say, "Well, kid, you had a good run, but Mommy and Daddy don't have the money for your chemo, so it looks like this is it. Oh, and, uh, since you're not going to make it anyway, we've decided to reduce your food budget to zero. Jessica! You're our new #1 kid!" or do you go into debt, save Justin and take that second (or third) job to make ends meet?

This brings us to the second (and most glaring) lie the Tea Party tells us: "No one has said, Oh, please, raise my taxes. They aren't high enough already." The statement is true, but the meaning is a blatant lie. I am a doctor, and as such, I deal with difficult choices all the time. No one wants surgery (unless it will make them slimmer, give them a cuter nose, or make their boobs topple them over when they bend past 10 degrees from the vertical). I would never walk up to a patient and say, "Hey, everything looks great, how would you like to get a very painful shot?" or "Oh, hey, how about I lop off a testicle or two?" or "You have wonderful boobs, do you mind if I remove them?"

On the other hand, I most certainly will tell a syphilitic patient, "Hey, you have a disease that will make your life uncomfortable for the next few weeks, but then it will go away, but then it will come back, and then it will go away, and finally it will attack your brain and kill you. Do you mind if I give you a shot today that will cure it 100%?"

Or, "Hey, I have some bad news. While your breasts are stunning, we've found Stage IA cancer in your left breast, plus you've turned up positive for the BRCA 1 gene mutation, which means it is highly likely your cancer will recur. We most definitely need to remove your current tumor and then we should discuss radical bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction in the future. This is the best option to save your life now and preserve your body image afterward."

Or, "I'm sorry sir, but you have testicular cancer. While there are a lot of unwanted effects of orchiectomy, your best chance of survival is surgical removal of the tumor. This means we will have to remove the testicle."

So, if you walk up to anyone and say, "Hey, do you think we should raise your taxes?" Of COURSE they'll say "NO!" But if you ask, "Are you willing to pay more taxes if that means saving your job, your neighbors and the country at large?" I think most people would begrudgingly say, "Yeah, ok."

And those advocating tax hikes are not even saying, "Let's raise the taxes of Joe the Plummer." They're saying, "Let's raise the taxes of anyone making more than $250,000 per year." What does that mean? The average American, making $25,000 per year, last year fell into the 15% tax bracket. They paid $3,750 in taxes and kept $21,250. This would not change after the tax hike. They pay the same, and keep the same. But someone making $250,000 last year fell into the 33% tax bracket. They paid $82,500 in taxes, and kept $167,500. If the old tax rates (prior to Bush's tax reductions) went back into effect for these people, they would pay 36%, or $90,000, and keep $160,000. Following my previous analogy, this would be the equivalent of telling the country to get a second job. Actually, it's more like telling the country, "Hey, management can't have Monday and Friday off anymore. We need to work the full week to get the full pay."

So the question should become, "Do you think your taxes should stay the same, and that the people who are hurt the most from this tax increase should get to keep $160,000 instead of $167,500?"

I think you will get a very different answer from this question. Do I want you to cut off my testicles? No. Do I want you to perform an orchiectomy to save my life? Yes, please.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shannara-ed

I know I already have a post about the lack of imagination in Hollywood, but this one really got to me.

I don't watch the series "Castle," but I was recently at my father's house and they were watching it, so had the opportunity to experience the episode, "To Love and Die in LA" (a rip-off of the 1985 movie name To Live and Die in LA). Granted, the movie To Live and Die in LA is the story of a cop whose partner is killed by organized crime, and the episode of "Castle" is about an ex-partner of Beckett, killed in New York, and her quest to LA to find the killer.

Interestingly, as I paid half attention to the episode, I could not help but think someone took 1984's hit Beverly Hills Cop and changed the names (I assume to protect the innocent [for those who don't know, that's a reference to the 1951 serial police drama "Dragnet"]):
  • Axel Foley/Kate Beckett's friend is killed when visiting Detroit/New York
  • Foley/Beckett's wants to investigate, but his/her boss says, "No! You're too close to the case!"
  • Foley/Beckett says, "You're right. I have some vacation time...I think I need to take it to recover from this horrible tragedy"
  • The boss in both cases says, "Don't you think about going to LA to investigate!"
  • Foley/Beckett immediately jump a plane to LA
  • On arriving in LA, Foley/Beckett run afoul of the local police and are dragged "downtown," where the local commanding officer calls Foley/Beckett's commanding officer, who promptly threatens Foley/Beckett with being fired
  • Foley/Beckett insist they are just in town on vacation and will not be investigating
  • Foley/Beckett continue to investigate
  • Foley/Beckett find the case is more complicated than they thought, involving a much more nefarious crime with much more dangerous and organized criminals
  • Foley/Beckett again run afoul of the local authorities, who continue to apply pressure to get them to 'go home'
  • Foley/Beckett ignore the locals and continue to investigate
  • Foley/Beckett finally crack the case
  • There is a dramatic bust, in which Foley/Beckett have to be 'tough cop,' but in which they are also proven to have been right since the beginning, thus winning the support of the local cops while saving their jobs back home
I know that there are only 3 (7, 10, 21) story lines in the whole world. I would never expect any movie or TV show to be completely original or innovative. But I think that it's totally unacceptable to take an older work, change the names, and present it as original. That's called plagiarism.

Or, as I like to say, "Castle Shannara-ed my ass." It's a new verb, and I'm going to get everyone I know to start using it. If you don't get the reference, read this. Shannara almost got me to stop reading. Castle, and other similar products, makes me want to quit watching movies and television.

Just say no to Shannara-ing.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Castro and bin Laden

I've been quite busy this week, so again, slacking on the writing (at least here). Sorry.

A few days ago I read here that Fidel Castro had a comment about the US killing bin Laden:
Fidel Castro has criticized the United States for the manner in which its forces killed al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden, saying it executed him in front of his family. 
As I said in my last post, I have a problem with the fact that people celebrated his death by partying in the streets, waving banners, etc. However, the man was a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the safety of people everywhere on the face of this planet. I would have preferred that our reaction had been something more along the lines of, "Wow - how awful that it had to come to that, but at least he can no longer do any harm."

Regardless of the barbarity of the popular reaction in the US (and elsewhere), make no mistake: bin Laden died exactly the way he deserved. Faced with the arrival of an overwhelming number of maximally trained fighting machines, he could have chosen to surrender, either to save himself or to protect the people he supposedly loved who were hiding with him in his McMansion.

Instead he chose to put up a fight. Does that make the covering of his wife with bin Laden's brain matter the fault of those tasked with his capture? If they had held lethal force in check, would one of the (at least more) innocent soldiers been injured, maybe even killed? Is it possible he could have escaped? In either event, WHEN he caused more injuries or deaths, how would it feel to have been part of the team that let him get away?

bin Laden lived by the sword, and he died by the sword. We should not celebrate it, but we should be thankful it's over.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Death of a Terrorist

So I've been watching the aftermath of the bin Laden thing. I'm
not quite sure how to feel about it.
On the one hand, he was quite the dangerous person. As the
Doofenshmirtz Dance Brigade would say sing, "He's an evil, evil
man." Do I think he deserved to die? That would be a resounding
"YES," not out of any desire for revenge, but to keep him from
continuing to hurt/kill others.

On the other hand, it really bothered me to see people
celebrating in the streets. That seems too barbaric to me - as if we were part
of the Roman Empire. I expect nations based on tribal systems to have these
kinds of reactions - but I would expect more from a 'sophisticated society.'

Then the really bad part of me comes out: the comedian who
wants to make all kinds of jokes about the whole situation. Thankfully, the
other two sides of me are in hyperdrive right now, and I am able to suppress the
comic urge.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Been busy (again)

So it's been a while since I've blogged. I've been a little busy lately. Just finished a script to submit to a contest - top prize is a lot of green and a potential development deal. Wish me luck!

Now I've got to focus on another writing contest, but this is just a short story. What do I mean "just" ? I'm sure it'll be just as hard to write as the script.

Yesterday I went to a local Mexican food place. I went for a tamal, but while I was there I noticed they had birria, a traditional mexican beef soup. I used to have it every Sunday for breakfast - it's delicious! Unfortunately, when I got home and tried it - well, let's just say that I had to make birria.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fat Cat or Happy Cat

I have a problem with my cats. They eat. My mother always put down a bowl full of dry cat food and would let her cats eat as much as they wanted. There would always be food in their dish, and they could help themselves throughout the day.

The problem is, her cats are fat. Very fat. And I've been told that it is not good for a cat to be that fat. Makes sense to me ... if human's can't handle being obese, why should a cat be able to get away with it? The vet tells me I have to keep my cat's weight down so I reduce their portions (I'd put them on a treadmill, but they're cats: if they can't figure a way out of it, they'll just take revenge on me later).

The problem with this is that almost every minute of my "I'm home, not sitting down and not sleeping" day I have to deal with between one and three cats meowing frantically, trying to lead me to the closet in which they know I hide their food supply. Heaven forbid I actually have to walk in the direction of said closet, or worse, open that closet. They get all excited and dance around, thinking I'm going to give them more food, even though I just fed them 30 minutes ago. They're so insistent I end up having to tell them, "No," repeatedly.

This ends up stressing me out, and the, "No," turns into, "No!" sometimes accompanied by a stamping of my foot. Of course this, in turn, stresses out my cats (or so I believe). So this makes me wonder: is it better to limit the caloric intake of my cats, keeping them a healthy weight but making them believe they are always hungry and causing both them and me to suffer chronic stress, or allow them to eat all they want, living happily obese?

Friday, March 18, 2011

A week in ...

It has been a week since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the situation continues to deteriorate. Thousands of people are homeless, many of whom are of advanced age, and the winter weather does not let up. It is cold, they are exposed to the elements, they have little food and less water, and the danger from TEPCOs damaged nuclear power plant is growing daily.

Yet people on the US west coast seem more worried about their own exposure to radioactive winds than those still suffering in Japan. All reports, and even common sense, tell us that the radiation will be so dissipated by the time it reaches the US that it will pose almost no risk (and we say almost no risk simply because there is no such thing as no risk), yet Americans spend time, eneregy and resources (including dollars) trying to protect themselves from this non-threat. I have even heard some people say that we should not be asking our troops to risk themselves trying to help.

It would be my hope that people would see that we must think more about those at "ground zero" than those "back home." Japan cannot fix this on its own, and we cannot sit back and think, "Better you than me." Even if you refuse the notion of altruism, helping over there is the best way to protect over here. If the problem is not fixed at the source, our exposure will only grow.

If you're thinking of buying, or trying to buy, potassium iodide pills, don't bother. You don't need them. You also don't need a home geiger counter. Instead, donate that money to an organization directly involved in fixing the problem. It'll go much farther in protecting you than anything else you could do.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Glee and KTLA

Sam Rubin, you've disappointed me ...

KTLA morning news likes to talk about issues in their 9 o'clock hour, and this morning Sam Rubin (entertainment reporter) turned to a same-sex kiss aired last night on Glee (male/male, looked like they were having dinner to me, but the dialogue made it seem they were in the school's music room).

Oddly, no discussion was sparked by last week's incident: a total makout session with two (fully dressed) girls lying on a bed. Sam did show that clip during the discussion, but the focus was the male/male kiss last night.

Sam mentioned that he was watching the show, which airs at 8 PM, with his 9 year old daughter, and he therefore felt 8 PM was too early for showing this kiss (again, why was last week's makeout session in a bed not cause for alarm?).

Fellow reporter, anchor Jessica Holmes then asked, "Now, did your 9 year old have any questions ... or ...?"

Sam's reply: "She was like, 'Oh! Are they dating?' "

Sam, I love you, but GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR BUTT! Why do you have to create a scandal over a kiss you think your child is too young to see if her only question was, "Oh, so they're finally dating?" (I can only assume the daughter sees the show regularly with Sam, and knows that the two guys involved have been dancing around dating for several weeks or months). She was totally okay with the kiss ... you are the one with the problem! Check your baggage at the door!

Am I wrong? Let me know.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Improv last night ...

Here's a transcript of what I presented at the Improv in Hollywood last night. Some of it's from previous posts, and I think there are a few new things scattered here and there. Let me know what you think.

Just moved to LA a few months ago. This is a tough town! Living over here on the west side, I found a hair ... cut ... you know, place ... I mean, come on! I'm a guy! She's a barber to me! But noooo ... they're hair stylists, or hair artists, or something ... I don't know. Anyway, so I'm driving back to my place, along Melrose, and I look to the right, and there's Peter Pan ... Flipping me off! I'm like, WTF? And he's at a tee-shirt shop! He's got some anger issues if he's standing on a corner, hawking tee-shirts and flipping me off.

About a month ago I had to go to the LAX area. That's interesting, right? I'm driving down the street and everywhere I look I see, "Live Nudes!" "Live! Live! Live!" It was so weird ... every time I see one of those signs, I think, "Where do you go to see the DEAD nudes?" And, "who are all these creepy people that need to be told that they will only see LIVE nudes in that business?"

OMG, and speaking of jobs in the adult industry, what is with Charlie Sheen and his obsession with dating porn stars? If he was just going for a pretty face with big chichis, I think he would end up with fewer porn stars. I mean, people watching porn are not looking at faces.

I wonder if he thinks he'll get more sex from a porn star than a 'regular Jane.' I would think that would not be the case. They spend all day doing that at work. I would think they would come home to a horny Chuck and be all, "Awww, come on, Charlie! I just had 4 guys banging me for the last 6 hours! I need a break. Maybe tomorrow, ok?"

I'm no porn star ... I'm a doctor, and when I was in my internship, I delivered 85 babies in two months of OB/GYN. I know that the last thing I wanted to see when I got home was another vagina. If any job could turn a man gay, it's gotta be Obstetrician.

Speaking of gay, did anyone see the Oscars? What about that James Franco? Could he be any gayer? I'm not talking about limp-wrists or lisps, I mean three hours next to Anne Hathaway and you have to keep your head turned more than 90 degrees away from her? She could have had an onion and garlic sandwich IN HER HAND while I was next to her, and I would STILL be all, "Hey, Anne...how YOU doin? Tic-Tac?"

Sunday, March 6, 2011

WikiLeaks on Stephen Colbert

Ok, I have to admit I love Stephen Colbert. He is so funny ... well, at least 50% of the time. Now, I know this is old, but I was a little behind on my DVR, so I just saw it yesterday, but I have to share this, because it is just too funny.

Background: Aaron Barr (of HB Gary) reportedly suggested to BofA (who reportedly got in contact with Barr at the suggestion of the Law Firm of Hunton & Williams, who was recommended to them [BofA] by the US Justice Department) that they should hire him (Barr) to hack WikiLeaks and plant false information to discredit them (WikiLeaks). Confused? Read it again ... it'll make sense.

So Barr tells BofA he can hack WikiLeaks and ruin them, but WikiLeaks has a self-appointed cyber guard called Anonymous, a group of independent hackers dedicated to, among other things, protecting WikiLeaks. I have to transcribe this next part directly from Stephen Colbert, because it is just too funny exactly the way Stephen and his writers created it:

_quote:

But first, he had to take out WikiLeaks Guard Dog, Anonymous. Barr threatened Anonymous by telling the Financial Times he had collected information on their core leaders, including many of their real names. Now, to put that in hacker terms, Anonymous is a hornets' nest, and Barr said, I'm going to stick my penis in that thing...

Because, faster than you could say, "Get these hornets off my penis!" Anonymous took down Barr's website, stole his emails, deleted the company's backup data, trashed his twitter account and remotely wiped his iPad.

And he had just reached the Ham 'em High level on Angry Birds. Anonymous then published all of Barr's emails, including one from his wife saying, "I will file for divorce," AND Barr's World of Warcraft name, "sevrynsten." That's right, they ruined BOTH his lives!

_end quote.

I don't really have a comment here, other than, "um...yeah...people gotta watch what they say they can do. Don't piss off the wrong people. We all need to play nice in the sandbox."

Maybe Charlie Sheen should have extrapolated this lesson to his situation ... The broadcast was from before he started really pissing people off, I think.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Charlie Sheen

I don't get Charlie Sheen's preference for porn stars.

If he was just going for a pretty face with big chichis, I think he would end up with fewer porn stars. Let's face it, people watching porn are not looking at faces.

I wonder if he thinks he'll get more sex from a porn star than a 'regular Jane.' I would think that would not be the case. I mean, they spend all day doing that at work. I would think they would come home to a horny Chuck and be all, "Awww, come on, Charlie! I just had four guys banging me for the last 6 hours! I need a break. Maybe tomorrow, ok?"

I mean, when I was in my internship, I delivered 85 babies in two months of OB/GYN. I know that the last thing I wanted to see when I got home was another vagina. If any job could turn a man gay, it's gotta be Obstetrician. The most beautiful experience in the world my butt! It's all a bunch of screaming, gushing, oozing, and juggling of the slime covered lizard that arrives ... not only do I not want to go home and see another vagina, I never want to do anything that would cause my wife to create such a mess!

I can't imagine that he's looking for status. "Look at me ... I bagged a porn star!" Right or wrong (I think most likely WRONG), people would tend to think, "Um ... how hard is that? She's a porn star ... gotta be a nympho." And while I think most porn stars would probably not be like this, I think the ones who are hanging out with Chucky are most likely in it for the money and/or exposure.

Then again, I know zero porn stars ... for all I know, they're using "porn star" as a euphemism for "prostitute," in which case it all makes sense ... Chucky is paying to have some arm candy hanging around, and probably even offer up the sexual side of the equation on demand.

Not a great financial plan, but at least it's a well defined business agreement.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Oscars

So I wanted to say something about the Oscars, but I didn't get a chance to write yesterday.

James Franco has got to be gay. That's the only explanation I can find for his performance on Sunday night. Anne Hathaway did a great job with the material she was given (and wow! I had no idea she could sing that well!) She engaged the audience and even tried to engage James.

But he was having none of it. I mean, even if Anne had rotten teeth, a gall bladder problem and had just eaten a garlic and onion sandwich, her breath could not have been so awful that it could explain James being so intent on not looking at her. It was as if he found her mere existence disgusting and disdainful. Perhaps he skipped his Oscar after-party and hopped a plane back home so he could kiss his boyfriend and get the bad aftertaste out of his mouth.

It was also painfully obvious that he was HUI (hosting under the influence). Even in the pre-show interviews he was acting strange, and curiously enchanted by one interviewer's iPhone, as if he had never seen such a device before in his life. I would have totally understood if Anne had kept turning away from him, taking a step or two away to maintain a fresh-air zone.

One wonders if the Academy realizes they'll never recapture the great performaces of previous shows. Billy Crystal came out and showed that great performers still exist. Then they rolled a few clips from Bob Hope's (many) days as MC. They planned this look back...why don't they take their own hint? You want a good show, get a good MC, and that good MC has historically been a great stand-up comedian. Trying to go "younger and hipper" (their words, through Anne Hathaway), they'll never please anyone. They need to go with a good comedian. If you want young, may I suggest John Mulaney, Bo Burnham or Gabriel Iglesias? Bo may be a little too deadpan. I think Adam Ferrara, who is in his 40s, would be a great host and could appeal to a younger crowd. I am trying really had to think of a good female host, but Chelsea Handler has already bombed on another show, Kristen Schaal is good, but can get annoying, and I have not seen Rene Hicks, who is totally a riot, on anything in years. :-(

That aside, Thank GOD King's Speech won. I don't think I could have stomached hearing about that computer/internet related non-documentary (I refuse to even write The Social Network's title ... aww, damn it!) for another 6 months.

Now to focus on the great movies of this year!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Missing Pizza

Okay, so in the last post I alluded to a bad experience I had ordering a pizza online. I thought, rather than leave that allusion hanging out there all dead-endy, today I should tell you about that experience.

The thing is, I love to do all my shopping online. I can do it whenever I want, as fast or slow as I want, click, and then my merchandise just arrives at my doorstep. Wow ... I just realized ... the 21st century is the Century for Agoraphobics!

Anyway, most of the things one would order online, well, one is happy if they are delivered next day, and if it takes three days, or even a week, it's no big deal. But if you order a pizza, it's because you're hungry, right? I mean, next day, or heaven forbid, three day delivery is not an option.

So a few years ago (wow ... now that I think about it, it was nearly a decade ago) I was hungry at like 10 PM, in a hotel room in an unfamiliar area, so I went online to look for the closest pizza place. Pizza Hut popped up, with a website, and even an "Order Online Now" option. So I ordered online. It said it would be about 45 minutes. Not the best, but acceptable.

So an hour later when the pizza hadn't shown up, I ended up calling the place. I was not sure at that point in the evolution of the internet if the order had even made it to a real Pizza Hut, let alone the right Pizza Hut. The manager answered. Turns out his delivery boy went on a pizza run and disappeared. He was not concerned about the pizza boy (I would have been thinking: car accident, mugging, even kidnapping or something; but that's me channeling my mother).

So I went from not sure that my order had been properly placed to order-placement-confirmed-so-why-the-hell-am-I-still-hungry-and-waiting-an-hour-later to embarrassed that I'm upset about being slightly hungry and ordering a bazillion calories to be delivered to my doorstep by a pimply faced little boy who may have been murdered trying to bring me my eight dollars worth of gluttonous sin.

Needless to say, I don't order pizza online anymore.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I don't understand

Since this was a long weekend, I decided to splurge and order a pizza.

Now, normally I love the internet and prefer to do everything online, but Pizza is sorta time sensitive, and I had a bad experience ordering it online once, so I dialed my local pizza place. Of course, calling the order in, I was treated to seventeen commercials before I was connected to a person who could take my order.

And that's when I remembered the perils of customer service in Southern California.

"Tay jew for callin' Pisa Pala. My nay is Rosa, can I offer jew wan off de specials?"

WTF? Oh ... specials ... "No," I reply. "I want to place an order for delivery."

"Delivery? Wayuwa?"

OMG, I can't understand a thing this lady is saying. Maybe if I just plow through with the order she'll get it - after all, it's a pizza place, she has to be used to taking pizza orders. "Yes, I want to order a large original crust pizza with bacon, pepperoni and sausage."

"Alar?"

"Yes, a large."

"Wa yu wannonit?"

"Sorry?"

"Wa toppins?"

"Bacon, pepperoni and sausage," I said, trying to not sound as exasperated as I felt.

"Bayco?"

"Yes, bacon."

"Dadol?"

This is impossible. "Mira, yo hablo español, si te será más fácil," I said, letting her know I could speak in Spanish if she preferred. I hate doing that, because it is like telling the other person, "Look, my Spanish is better than your English." But I just want my $@#%! pizza!

"I sorry, I no speak espanish," she replied.

You've got to be kidding me! Her English is that horrible, and it is her first language? No wonder she's 40 years old and working at a pizza place.

And what about the guy who gave her the job? I mean, if answering the phone is an integral part of your job, you should speak the official language of the region well, or at least well enough to understand and be understood.

"Ok," I said, trying to remain calm. I just have to get through this order. Slowly I repeated my order. "I want a large. Original crust. Pizza. With Bacon. Pepperoni. And Sausage."

"Ah, okay, okay," she said. "Alar three toppin wit bayco, pepperoni an sausage. Woyu lie some howinz to go widjor pisa?"

"No, that is all, thank you."

"Your phone number?" she asked. I gave it. "An wha wudju lie to order?"

Damn it!

You know, the Safeway brand of frozen pizza is a fourth the price and has less than half the calories.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bagels

So I was walking down the street in Beverly Hills the other day, and I noticed a sign that said, "Coming soon: Brooklyn Bagel Company." Below that, it said, "It's in the water!"

Really? The flavor of a Brooklyn Bagel Company bagel comes from the water? If their water is significantly different from the water used by any other bagel place, they must be getting it from either the Hudson or the East River. Either way, I don't think I'll be eating their bagels anytime soon.

Don't forget to check out America the Beautiful at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964

Please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.

Jane's Adventures in Eating will be out at the end of the week! Tell a friend!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blue Plate Oysterette

In Santa Monica there is a restaurant called Blue Plate Oysterette. It's a nice place, and they serve good food.

Unfortunately, the sign on the front of the building just says "BP," with a sorta subliminal "oysterette" written in cursive across the bottom.

I wonder if the Gulf oil spill of 2010 (OMG, I just realized we're going to have to put dates on the disaster) has affected their business. I assume so: even if they never received any seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, the sign outside at the very least would give potential 'walk-in' customers pause.

There's something about brand name recognition, but I think I would consider changing the sign if I were them. Any opinions?

Don't forget to check out America the Beautiful at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964
Please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.
Jane's Adventures in Eating will be out at the end of the week! Tell a friend!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Smoking

My parents smoke like chimneys.
When I was in my first year of college, I would come home from class in the early evening. Opening the front door, a shaft of light would break through the darkness of the living room (my dad would keep the place dark as a movie theater so he could enjoy the first generation large screen TV), and I could see the cloud bank that encompassed the whole place, from ceiling down to the level of your knees.

Then California rolled out the "no smoking in public buildings" laws. We usually ate out at least once per week, if not two or three times. In the early days, we could still sit on the patio and my dad could smoke. Later, even that disappeared from his option list, and they stopped going out.

So the other day my dad came to me and asked if I could get him a box of nicotine patches.

"Oh, are you guys finally going to quit smoking?" I asked, trying to hide my pride.

"No," he replied. "I'm taking your mother out to a fancy-schmancy restaurant for our 45th anniversary, and I think I'll need a few to get through the dinner."

Don't forget to check out America the Beautiful at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964
Please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.
Jane's Adventures in Eating will be out at the end of the week! Tell a friend!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Faux Fur

The other day I saw a news report about a rally against the use of real fur in the production of clothing and accessories. They had the perfect spokesperson.

I don't think there is anything on Ms. Lavinthal that is not "faux." This woman has had so much plastic surgery I think that she may be a life-sized animatronic version of Barbie. She is the poster child for the faux future.

I'm not against the use of "faux fur." Anyone who wants to wear faux fur, more power to them. But I really think it's time to stop wearing faux noses, faux foreheads, faux lips, faux faces in general. When you stop looking human, you've gone a little too far on the plastic surgeries, baby.

Don't forget to check out America the Beautiful at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964. Please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.
Jane's Adventures in Eating will be out at the end of the week. Tell a friend!

Monday, January 31, 2011

BDSM Cat

So I think my cat is into bondage.

In a previous post I explained how my cat only really likes to be pet when I'm in the bathroom. The first time that happened, I kept pushing him away, but the more I pushed, the louder he purred, and the more interested he was in being pet.

So I pet him. Aggressively, hoping he'd go away. That just made him even more excited. He purred, and meowed, and purrowed, and meowurred ... he even meowurrowed. Now I scratch his back, and his belly, or both at the same time. I pat him like a dog, hard enough to push him to the floor. He rolls left, I push him right, he rolls right so I push him left. I have even tried spinning him.

It just makes him more excited, and as soon as I stop he runs back and shoves his face in my hand for more.


I have a cat with multiple paraphilias...


Don't forget to check out the e-book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964
I was hoping to have a novella available today, but I wasn't able to write all weekend. It will be out at the end of the week! Tell a friend!
And please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bing sucks

Oh, my GAWD, do I hate Bing. When I 'use' Bing, it's by accident (some link I click being the Bing equivalent of "Google This:"), and every time I Bing, I get back a page that doesn't have my answer, but a lot more questions about my topic. If I click on one of those questions, I end up on ANOTHER page full of questions.

Case in point: this morning I clicked on a link that said, "The Voices behind the voice-overs." In the short article description it said, "Find out who voiced some of our most popular characters and commercials." So I clicked, partly to see who they thought were "our" most popular characters and commercials.

The first page was DARTH VADER. Now, I already know that James Earl Jones did that voice. But the page only said:

Famous voice overs
Search: Darth Vader
The actor who voiced the dark-side lord in the “Star Wars” franchise also voiced:
The tagline voiceover for Ted Turner’s news network.
The leader of African wildlife in “The Lion King”

His signature basso voice wasn’t always stellar. The Mississippi-born actor spent his early years ridding himself of a speech disorder.

Many of the key phrases were hyperlinks, and some of them actually pointed to a search for James Earl Jones. But the point is that I already clicked on something saying I was interested in knowing who the @#$! did the voice! GIVE ME THE F@$#@$NG NAME OF THE ACTOR! It makes me think that somehow Bing gets paid for every click on every page (maybe "paid" in the sense that they increase the number of clicks through their servers, therefore being able to report that they are the most clicked site.

Would it have been so hard to re-write the above page like so:

Famous voice overs
Search: Darth Vader
James Earl Jones, the actor who voiced the dark-side lord in the “Star Wars” franchise, also voiced:
The tagline voiceover for Ted Turner’s news network.
The leader of African wildlife in “The Lion King”

His signature basso voice wasn’t always stellar. The Mississippi-born actor spent his early years ridding himself of a speech disorder.

It's gotten to the point that when I click on a link and something comes up with BING on it, I just instantly close the page.

Anyone want to join me? As Lisa Simpson said, "We'll march day and night by the big cooling tower. They have the plant, but we have the power!"

Don't forget to check out the e-book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964
Hopefully I'll have a novella available by the end of this month! Tell a friend!
And please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The odd thing about my cat ...

I don't understand why my cat will go to great lengths to avoid me when I call him and want to pet him, but gets very upset if I don't pet him while I am ... um ... "using the facilities." If I ever happen to walk by when he is using his cat box he gives me the evil eye, but when I go into my bathroom, he opens the door and throws himself at my feet, rolling around and meow-purring.

I have lever-style handles on my doors, so he learned how to open the door. I started locking the door, but the whole time I am in there, he sits outside, meowing as if he is in pain, so it became easier to just let him come in, especially since he comes running any time he hears noise in the bathroom (and you know how keen a cat's hearing is).

I almost feel sorry for him when I'm going into the shower. He runs in, thinking I'm headed for the throne, only to see me turn on that evil contraption. He looks upset, but stays fairly quiet, watching to make sure I really am going into that torture chamber. Sometimes, as I wait for the water to warm up, he sticks his face in, just to make sure that really is water shooting around in there. If I take a step his direction, he bolts back into the living room.

You'd think he'd be used to it by now. When I was in med school, after anatomy lab I would go home and get into the tub for about 30 minutes, hoping to get rid of the smell of formaldehyde and death. At that time I lived alone, and he would come in, stand on his hind legs meerkat style about 5 feet from the tub to make sure I was still alive.

Now he doesn't seem to care about my safety when faced with water coming down all around me. I guess he's pretty brave ... after all, a bathroom is a room totally dedicated to the use of water, mortal enemy of the house cat. Still, brave or not, it's a bit annoying at times to have to pet the cat while simultaneously doing my business.

I guess he doesn't understand the fact that it would be the equivalent of me rolling around on the floor in front of his cat box.

'Scuse me whilst I go poke out my mind's eye.

Don't forget to check out the e-book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964
Hopefully I'll have a novella available by the end of this month! Tell a friend!
And please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Safety Options

A terrible thing happened yesterday at a California High School. A 17 year old boy brought a gun to school. It accidentally discharged, and the bullet hit another boy in the neck, as well as a girl in the head. As a result, the school and the local police have decided to increase security.

This has been going on for years ... decades, actually. Long before Columbine occurred, security in public schools was a hot topic. I remember being surprised when I started high school (many moons ago) and found we had two campus security guards and one local police officer (armed). A few years after I started high school, we heard about the installation of metal detectors on some campuses in the LA area. At that time, my school went from "open campus" (we could leave school for lunch) to "closed campus" (no one was allowed to enter or leave other than at the start and end of the school day (unless they went through the administrative office. After I left, they took the lockers off campus (for fear students could store/hide weapons and/or drugs therein). Still, violence increased.

I remember when RoboCop 2 came out: the murderous drug lord in that was a 13 year old kid, and we all thought, "Oh, my gosh, that is so ridiculous!" Last year a 14 year old boy was arrested in Mexico and charged with being the most ruthless hit- ... um ... boy? person? employed by a drug cartel there. Life imitating art?

So we're going to, as they say, "hell in a hand-basket." What to do about that? How do we make schools safe again?

Option 1: Tele-commute. There are no schools. Everyone stays at home and has to log into each class live, via webcam (imagine the scene in Real Genius where all the students were just tape recorders recording the lecture being given by the reel-to-reel left by the professor, but substitute webcams and monitors). If a student disappears from their monitor for more than 30 seconds, they are considered absent, and absences are charged at $5 per class. Teachers get paid $1.95 per minute per student, but on the up-side, hospital stays are very short when you've been hit by a virtual bullet.

Option 2: Build 20 foot tall concrete walls around all schools, with doors that would make a bank vault jealous. Nothing is allowed to be brought on-campus. The official school uniform is a bikini for girls and a Speedo for guys. I know, it will suck in Denver in the middle of January, but that's the price of school security.

Option 3: Give up. Realize all security measures can be defeated (after all, a really determined thug going to the school in option 2 will learn to clench his or her butt-cheeks around that 9 mm). Any student using a weapon on campus is shot first, after which they are handcuffed and taken to wherever their medical condition requires. And isn't the fact that they are gunning each other down just part of nature's plan? It's just survival of the fittest, after all.

Hope some of this made you laugh, but I also hope it makes you think about what needs to be done, not in reaction to, but rather proactively for the safety of our children in public schools.

Until then, I think I'm putting my kids in Hogwarts. At least there the only one using Avada Kedavra is You-Know-Who.

Don't forget to check out the e-book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964
Hopefully I'll have a novella available by the end of this month! Tell a friend!
And please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cats ...

So I don't understand why they say cats are a gay man's pet. It's not about being gay, it's about living in an apartment. I love animals, and wanted to get a pet, and I actually didn't live in an apartment, I had my own house. But my house had a very small yard, so I didn't feel right getting a dog.

I could have gotten a dog...though probably would have needed to get a small dog (tell me that doesn't scream "gay"). I prefer big dogs - I wanted an Alaskan Husky or maybe a Labrador. That would have been borderline cruel, trapping a dog that big in a house that small. Even if I took it out for a walk twice a day, the poor thing would be cooped up the rest of the time.

On top of that, my uncle died, leaving an orphaned cat, so I "took it in."


See? Nothing about being gay ... just about being considerate to your pets.

Don't forget to check out the e-book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964
Hopefully I'll have a novella available by the end of this month! Tell a friend!
And please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Love of Water Sports

Get your mind out of the gutter! I'm talking about boating, skiing, SCUBA, etc. I didn't even know about the other kind until my first year of medical school. I couldn't figure out how SCUBA diving was at all a risk for HIV. Someone had to explain it to me.

Anyway, I love the water, and my dad has owned several boats over the years. The first one we got was a rubber raft with an outboard motor, and the last one was a 26 footer with a queen bed and small galley.

I thoroughly enjoyed those boats, but I don't think I would ever own one myself. When we would go out, we had to hook up the boat trailer, check the lights, drive this massive thing down the freeway (another point: you'd better be going local, because it's not like you can have your 26 footer as "checked baggage" on your flight ... even on Virgin America), pay for the use of the boat launch, park your truck (another side point: have to have a truck big enough to haul your boat) and trailer, and finally you could enjoy the boat. Once the day was over, it wasn't really over, because then you had to take the boat out of the water, drive over to the boat rinsing area to give her a terse cleaning, drive back home, then give her a real cleaning (or else you have a stinky boat that may even start growing things, and if you went into salt water, you can't let that sit in the engine).

[gasp]

Then there's the fact that you had to buy the boat, and unless you are rich, you've probably got a loan on it, which means interest payments, plus vehicle registration, onto which they add a luxury tax. Don't forget you have to maintain proper, functioning safety equipment aboard, plus boat insurance, and we always carried Vessel Assist in the event of an emergency (we never had one, but we did cross another boat that was stranded - without safety equipment or a radio - and we radioed for help for them ... didn't envy their rescue bill, nor probable coast guard citation).

Bottom line, for as much as I would probably use a boat, it would be more financially sound for me to rent rather than buy. Not that I've tried to rent a boat ... though back in the day, my family rented boats for a week at a time out on Lake Mohave in Arizona. We weren't rolling in dough, so I imagine it wasn't Bill Gates-type expensive. I calculated it once a few years ago, and I found that I could rent a yacht for a week for what my dad paid annually to maintain his boat. Granted, then I'd have to crew the yacht, but the point is that owning is very expensive.

If you own a boat, make sure you use the hell out of it every year, or you're throwing money down the ... poop deck.

Don't forget to check out the e-book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964
Hopefully I'll have a novella available by the end of this month! Tell a friend!
And please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Celebrations

Happy New Year everyone!

What did you do at midnight New Year's Eve? Being a Los Angelino, I watched the big ball drop ... in Times Square ... at 9 PM.

What is up with that? I live in Los Angeles ... even if we allow New York to claim the spot as the most important city in the US, we have got to be the second. So why do I have to watch a re-run of the New Year that New York rung in at 9 PM???

So I was watching the festivities on TV, and after New York did their thing at 9 they threw it over to Nashville.

Really? I mean, LA is way more important than Nashville.

But apparently last year they thought, "Hey, New York drops a ball, why don't we drop a guitar ... a giant guitar made of lights ... The Nashville Guitar!"

And this year New Jersey got in on the action! They dropped Snooki at midnight. Personally, I think I'd have dropped her long ago, but that's me.

So New York has a thing, Nashville has a thing, Jersey has a thing ... when does LA get its thing? And what would we drop? I mean, what are we most known for? A giant silicon breast?

We're also famous for TV and movies...so do we drop a studio executive? A roll of film? Dropping film may be difficult ... it's almost impossible to get anything green-lighted in Hollywood.

Maybe we need to follow Jersey's example of dropping celebrities who need to disappear. I'd say maybe Paris Hilton, but she's already sorta gone. Las Vegas dropped her already. We still have Lindsay Lohan, though...she's a good candidate for 2011. Or maybe Mel Gibson. I'd say Charlie Sheen, but he always bounces back, and we'd have to do it all over.

This could be good. We could export this to other states, or even countries. El Paso can drop a giant gun pointed at Juarez. Meanwhile, Juarez can drop a giant lit up 15 year old Coyote with a target on his chest.

We're not even the first country to ring in the new year ... that really goes to New Zealand or Fiji. We're pretty much the last ... I mean, between Alaska and The American Samoa. I think maybe we should coordinate it so that the (whatever) drops are progressively more interesting, reaching a final climax with the last one of the 24 hour period.

Fiji, we could start off dropping a ... palm tree?

Beijing could drop an egg roll. Actually, I guess if they drop an egg roll they'll have to drop one every hour ...

London can drop an effigy of the queen.

New York can have their ball, then Nashville with their guitar. Mexico City will have to drop a Mariachi player. We'll need something for Mountain Time ... that could be Arizona, they can drop an illegal immigrant. Oh! Or a prisoner from one of Sherriff Joe's prisons! Or Wyoming could drop a cowboy. Or we could have Utah drop a Mormon missionary.

Okay, so then we have Pacific time, and we can drop a giant breast over the Staples center. Or maybe US Bank - you can see that from Pershing Square. Or that new Ritz Carlton/Marriott ... you can see that from the Staples Center. California is known for its water activities ... maybe we could rig it with a giant fountain to gush atop the Ritz Carlton at the New Year ... it already looks like a giant penis to me.

Of course, then there would be no topping that. After Los Angeles we pretty much have Alaska and Samoa. Oh, there's Hawaii - they could have a hula dancer hula her way down a pole. Still, there's that one last time zone that includes Samoa and some Alaskan islands. I don't think Samoa is going to get us too excited, so I think the last celebration of the year should be a husky frontiersman, and at midnight he fires a blast killing Alaska's giant pain in the ass grizzly momma, Sarah Palin.

Don't forget to check out the e-book at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/32964
Hopefully I'll have a novella available by the end of this month! Tell a friend!
And please write a review on Smashwords and/or Amazon.com.