Follow by Email

What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

SOCK IT TO ME BABY!!!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The discussion, The dream, and The black hole

I had a dream this morning- a dream that was likely brought on because of a discussion last night about someone very dear to me bent on following a road to apparent self-destruction. In this dream, our protagonist had all the traditional 'reasons to live'- friends trying to help her, support her, and prop her up; a reason to live beyond herself in the form of a baby still in the womb; and a hero ready to give his life for her. Throughout the dream, she-and they- faced the menace of a terrible tiger, always stalking them. The tiger, though, wasn't the Destroyer that everyone imagined. The destroyer was inside her, the "black hole" that constantly told her only death was an escape from the pain of life.
Much of the dream she wasn't activily trying to kill herself; she just constantly put herself in a position for the tiger to finish her off. It was a constant cycle of her drifting towards destruction, the support group or the hero saving her fom the tiger with no effort (or appreciation) on her part, and her re-drifting into danger.
Finally, the baby's birth became there and real. The friend-group sought her desperately, but in vain. And the hero was finally killed trying to hold off the tiger. And none of it meant anything to her, and she tried to end it all by flinging herself down a steep slope. The friends who cared, the hero's sacrifice, the baby crying for life, none of it meant anything.
But then, as she hung from the cliff, she realized at last she wanted to live. Not for the friends, the hero, the baby, but at last for herself. She finally did the things that allowed her support group to help her. She had saved herself, but not before all the destruction her choices had caused. And the tiger? He stood by and watched her rescue.
The dream reminded me that some people- myself once included- have this black hole generator inside them. You can fill their hole with your whole life and being and never fill it up. Because it is not a physical hole. And every excuse a person gives you for its existance, though real to them, is an illusion. The truth is, there is only one way to get rid of the hole. And that is you, yourself, must turn it off. You cannot turn it off with mothers, lovers, or babies. A person has to see the hole for what it is- a desire to death- look it in the face, and say, "No. This is garbage, and I reject it." This isn't a moment, it is a process. It involves re-learning your whole outlook, and many people are unwilling to try until they look death in the face and see their own reflection. Some don't even then. And the only thing that the hero, the Baby, the support group does, is prevent them from getting to that moment sooner. They can give all the reasons to live they want and it will always, as Thomas Aquinas said, "seem as straw to me." The hole doesn't start going away until you say, "I - I have a reason to live. A reason inside of me, that's just mine."
In the dream, the battle wasn't won when the hero died, the baby was born , or when the friends found her and hoisted her up from the cliff. The cliff, and the tiger, ceased to be a danger when she finally decided she wanted to live. In fact, the dream actually jumped from the girl being found at the edge of the cliff crying for help to the hero's funeral. The rest, it seems, was not important.
In the waking world, I thank God that I have been reminded of what to pray for in the real-life situation. I had forgotten what the black hole was like- which is scary, because it's always just a moment away.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Job, part III

So after several chapters of Job's self-righteous stubbornness ("Bear with me that I may speak; and after I have spoken, keep mocking," 21:3) and his friends' inability to figure out that they are saying,' on one hand no one can be righteous before God, and on the other if Job was really righteous he wouldn't be in this mess', we finally get to Elihu. He cuts to the core of the problem ("His wrath was aroused because ((Job)) justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer and yet condemned Job." 32:2-3) But the smartest thing Elihu says at the start applies to us, when things go wrong and we complain to God and He doesn't answer. We say, God, how can you do this to me? and demand an answer, and get pissed when we get silence in return. But Elihu knew why that was.

"And now, because He has not punished in His anger, nor taken much notice of folly, Therefore Job opens his mouth in vain; he multiplies words without knowledge." 35:15-16

What is he saying? 1. As Forest Gump taught us, shit happens. Not because God's punishing us, or is mad at us, or is being unfair as Job implied. It just happens. 2. Since none of those things is happening to us, except in our minds, God doesn't reply to such comments. 3. Arguing such a case is foolishness, and God doesn't pay attention to foolishness. Thus, 4. Job, and ourselves, won't get answered when we whine. As we find out a few chapters later, to get answered, we need to acknowledge who is God and who isn't; realize that God, being smarter than us, has reasons for things that we don't understand; and accept that God has more important things to do than pick on us- and is doing them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My ultrasound checkup

I have to have an ultrasound on my vein graft every three months, and today was the first one. Let me tell you how that went.
9:04- left work.
9:49- arrive at 1819 Carew.
9:51- get paperwork started at first floor reception.
9:58- sent to second floor lab. Ask about slip for work, she' says they'll take care of it up there.
10:00- report to second floor lab desk. "Okay, we'll let them know you're here."
10:15- scheduled appointment time.
10:25- old lady sitting next to me begins to moan in her sleep.
10:38-taken back to ultrasound room.
10:39-"Take off shoes, socks, and pants, lie on the bed and cover up."
10:40- exam begins. Asked three times what exactly they did to me, as the paperwork isn't matching what she sees.
10:40-11:05- almost fall asleep 6 times.
11:05- the tech decides that the description on the paperwork doesn't match what she's seeing; calls somebody to send up the surgical report.
11:05-11:25 lay there alone waiting for report. Almost fall asleep 7th time.
11:25- surgical report arrives; exam begins again.
11:35- the tech decides to call in her boss to see if she can figure it out. Apparently the surgical report was about as good as the work order.
11:37- lab boss comes in; they look over the situation trying to figure out what got grafted to what.
11:40- lab boss decides tech is doing it right after all; tells her basically to take a lot of pictures and let Dr. Sowden figure it out.
11:41-12:05- tech takes a lot of pictures. Too busy deciding whether to stop off for lunch after the exam to almost fall asleep again.
12:05- exam done. Towel off excess gel and get dressed.
12:10- the tech points out second floor reception desk, has me go ther to get checked out.
12:11- get checked out. Ask about work slip, she tells me to go back in lab room and ask them.
12:12- ask lab desk; they call back to the tech and tell me to wait for her.
12:16- Greg Shoup tries to do the weather with a dead microphone. Stumbles across the screen to get new one, jokes about the 'sounds of silence'.
12:19- tech brings out work slip.
12:21- leave 1819 Carew.
1:05- arrive at work.
4:30- end of work day. HR lady still hasn't looked at work slip.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A variety of Undisturbing thoughts for today

1. The Conference championship week for the Commissioners cup is done, and with 2 weeks (since I decided to add the Pro Bowl) remaining, here's how we line up: KCAs still hanging on to first with 104 despite a scoreless weekend; Beagles close to within 7, scoring 9 to reach 97; SVA exploded this week, scoring 23 to leap 3 notches to #3 with 95; the Ducks hold onto 4th with 87; Rhinos keep pace with 85; the player-less B2s still with 83 slide to 6th; Angels climb to 7th with 82; Buzz drops that spot into 8th with 78; the Rangers outscored the Clock BBQs 18-16 this week to pull into 9th with 77, whilst the BBQs fall to 10th with 75. Neither the Elks nor the player-less T-Cubs scored this week; they remain at 55 and 52 respectively. The KCAs, SVA, and Buzz join B2s and T-Cubs with no more players for the super bowl, but everybody's got someone next week.
2. Off the sports for a moment: when I got out of the car after work tonight, I saw two of our friendly neighborhood deer cross the street (in front of a car probably 20 ft away) and zip off down the trail behind the apartment. I thought it might be neat to keep track of the menangerie we see out back this year; the count now is 2 deer, a bunny, a squirrel (which, due to their commonness I might not be real dilligent in keeping track of) and a fox.
3. Back on sports, my loveable Oakland A's (no, not another player defecting to become a priest) were proud to announce that they had signed former Milwaukee Brewer pitcher Ben Sheets. Ben was out recovering from surgery all last year, which means that the Athletics' top two starters for this season pitched the exact same amount of innings in 2009 that I did (Justin Duscherer also took a year off with surgery and clinical depression).
4. Finally, after a website called rockyou was hacked of all of its 32 million customer passwords, a firm doing security on the breach found that a lot of the problem wa the idiot-accessible passwords people use. Here is the top 10 according to Imperva:
The top 10 most common passwords

1. 123456
2. 12345
3. 123456789
4. Password
5. iloveyou
6. princess
7. rockyou *
8. 1234567
9. 12345678
10. abc123

* Note: this list was sourced from the RockYou website
Is it just me, or do some people deserve identity theft?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More lessons from Job

I've started in on the debates between Job and his three friends. What I have learned applies both to Job and the three, and I will explain it in a minute. First, let's look at Job. I know I see a lot of myself- especially earlier 'myself' - in his attitude. He starts out wishing he was never born, because despite his innocence (he likes to think he deserves no worse treatment in the next life that a stillborn babe) he is now worse off than everyone else. Never mind that a few days before he was one of the most prosperous men in the world, that doesn't count. His second response claims that suddenly God, his friends, and everything in life is against Him. Note that he never turns to God sincerely for help, just accuses Him of being the enemy. Thirdly, he justifies that attitude by claiming God can't be talked to- 'even if I'm right, I'm wrong.' Then he basically accuses God of being a bully, that he picks on people even though He is the one that made them the way they are. I can recall accusing God of these things a time or two, can you?
Then we look at the three friends. They actually make some good points. First, no matter how righteous we think we are, we can't out-righteous God. If we have a dispute with God, we are wrong, period. Second, God sees from a different perspective and can see in our motives what we do not. Third, Job seemed to them to be connecting his previous blessings with his righteousness ( he even says as much in 16:12- "I was at ease, but He has shattered me.") They point out that that is a false connection. And then, one of them tells Job the first thing we should be told when we take his attitude- the world isn't going to come to an end because of what's happening to you, and you are foolish to think it should.
But for all they got right, they were still coming at it from a wrong angle. They thought that everything that happened to Job was because he had some sin, whether he realized that sin or not. And this is the mistake they both made- they had the idea that bad things cannot happen to good people. For Job, that meant that God had to be wronging him, yet he had no means to protest it because God is God. He felt that he still was trusting in God, but God was in the wrong. "Though He slay me, yet I shall trust Him. Even so, I will defend my ways before Him" ( 13:15). Because of Job's concept of God, he could not see the contradiction in this. If you think God's in the wrong, you aren't trusting Him.
And the boys were no better- this same concept told them 1) if bad things happened to you, you were guilty of something; 2) diaster only comes to those who"forget God"; 3) if you were innocent, you could "lift your face" before God. What they failed to see is that, as Paul said, God uses everything for the good- whether good times or bad,- and is not afraid to let things happen to the children that He loves. And as we saw last time, sometimes these things do happen to correct, or to renew, or to show God's mercy.
If you trust God, you have to trust that He's right even when it feels like He's wrong. It doesn't mean we're bad when things go wrong, either. It may just mean we have something to learn.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

You know how the year will go when...

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland Athletics prospect Grant Desme is retiring from baseball to enter the priesthood.






Desme was selected the 2009 Arizona Fall League MVP and was considered one of the top prospects in Oakland's system.

The 23-year-old outfielder batted .288 with 31 homers, 89 RBI and 40 stolen bases in 131 games at Class-A Kane County and Stockton last season. He then hit .315 with a league-leading 11 home runs and 27 RBI in 27 games in the fall league.

Desme said he'd been thinking about the priesthood for a year and a half. "It took me a while to get to," he said on a conference call Friday.

Desme plans to enter a seminary in August and hopes eventually to become a Catholic priest.

"It's about a 10-year process," he said. In a way, he added, it's like "re-entering the minor leagues."

Desme told Oakland general manager Billy Beane about his decision on Thursday. Desme said he had no regrets about walking away from baseball.

"I love the game, but I aspire to higher things," he said.

Desme was a second-round pick in the 2007 amateur draft after being selected Big West Player of the Year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He was ranked as Oakland's No. 8 prospect by Baseball America.
I wish all the blessings in the world to Grant, and applaud him for his moral character in giving up a likely 7-figure bank account to serve God.
On the other hand, this kind of thing can only happen to teams I root for. I will expect to hear any day that our new third baseman, Kevin Kouzmanoff, is suffering from the same spinal disk injury that's crippled Eric Chavez for four years, or some player will be hit by lightning while adjusting the antenna like Bo Diaz was years ago. Or like the Dolphins, where we've assembled a Big Ten all-star team that takes turns alternating between highlight reel plays and blowing a game's crucial play due to utter incompetance ( Ayodele, Fields, Vonte, Ginn, Hartline, Henne, Long, and Cam Wake, you know who I'm talking about).

Friday, January 22, 2010

The lessons of Job

This morning my Bible study was the first two chapters of Job, and I learned something I hadn't seen before- trust.
First of all we need to keep in mind that disasters happen to every one. Later on, we are told that they happen for three reasons: for correction (literally, as a beating rod); for the renewal of the land (as in how the forest is rejuvenated after a fire); and as a means for God to show His mercy.
But Job and his suffering were a special case. Regard: he is described as blameless, upright, fearing God and hating sin, humble for all the great wealth he had, careful to pray for all he had, incuding each as an individual, and involving them in his faith. He not only walked the walk, but evangelized his own family.
But God allowed his sufferings. Satan first told God, it's easy for a man so blessed to have faith. What would happen if you removed those blessings? And God trusted him enough to let that happen. And when God's trust was proved, Satan said possessions are not personal pain. And God allowed that as well, because He trusted Job's faith that much.
God allowed Job to face loss of wealth, unexplainable happenings, overwhelming odds, and natural disasters, one on top of the other. He allowed Job to be tested both physically by disease and emotionally by the turning of his wife against him. Surely it could be said that God allowed the man he trusted the most in all the world to be hit by every ill we can conceive of- and all at once, at that!
And how did he respond? When he lost everything, he replied,
"Naked came I from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there..." (1:21)
and when his own person, his own heart, was attacked, he said,
"Shall we indeed accept good from God, and not accept adversity?" (2:10)
Point being, there's a reson for everything. So when suffering comes we need to ask, "Did I do something wrong; or is this to change things for the better; or is this to bring me to God for help; or is it a sign that He trusts me?"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Comissioner's Cup, week 3

KCA's continue to lead in the Commisioner's Cup (yes, I finally gave it a name) race. 17 pts this week give them 104 pts and a 16 point lead. The Beagles leap into 2nd on a 37-point weekend to put them at 88. The done-and-over-with B2s slip with their 83 pts to 3rd. The Ducks add 15 to move up to 4th with 78. The Rhinos got shut out this week and SVA got a whopping 5 to fall to 5th with 76 and 6th with 72, respectively. Buzz piled up 25 this week to jump into 7th with 71; The Angels managed 12 and 67; the CBBQs 15 and 59; and the Rangers wake up for 22 this week to pull into a tie for ninth with 59. The Elks (1) and the T-Cubs (2) sucked it up this week to end the weekend at 55 and 52. For the T-Cubs though, that's last and all she wrote as they join the B2s as the 2 teams with no more active players.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Eric Woolfson 1945-2009

In looking up my all-time favorite video last night, which is "Don't Answer Me" by the Alan Parsons Project, I sadly discovered that Eric had passed on Dec. 2 at the age of 64. Maybe the name means nothing to you, and the project little beyond "Eye in the Sky", and that's a shame.
The project was a partnership between main songwriter Woolfson and producer Parsons, and the songs were mainly performed by themselves and a shifting group of studio musicians, with Eric singing the demos, and later on the actual leads on some songs. This partnership produced a string of classic albums and songs. Their second album, "I Robot" (which reached # 9) was inspired by the Asimov books and included the top 30 "I Wouldn't Want to be Like You". It was follwed by "Pyramid" (#26; "What Goes Up..."), "Eve" (#13; "Damned if I Do"), The Turn of a Friendly Card"(a concept album on gambling, and my favorite, hitting #13 as well, and containing the top 15 "Games People Play" and top ten "Time" which was sung by Eric), "Eye in the Sky"(#7; Eric sung the title track), "Ammonia Avenue" (#15, with Eric singing on the hits "Prime Time" and "Don't Answer Me"; It also contained the song "Old and Wise", which is a tremendous song on which to reflect on your life), "Vulture Culture"(#46, with Eric's beautiful vocals on "Days are Numbers(The Traveller)"), and finally "Stereotomy" (#46).
They were not a typical band. They were based on the concept of the producer as the star, just like the Hitchcock movies and many of todays best TV series. As a result, they were not a touring band and while they were successful they never got the fame they deserved.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti and Pat Robertson

Once again in the midst of tragedy, Pat Robertson opens his mouth and inserts his foot. He claims that there is a connection between the horrible 7.0 quake in Haiti and their practice of the dark art of voodoo through the year. Voodoo is evil, and Haiti is a hotbed of it, that much is true; but Robertson knows neither the Bible nor his savior very well.
Luke 13:1-2,4: There were present in that season some who told (Jesus) about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered such things?
Or those eightteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them; do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?
I tell you NO; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
Points from this:
1. death and disaster, whether man-caused like Pilate or natural like the tower, are NOT judgements from God.
2. it is not God's concern how you die, but the state your soul is in when death comes. Jesus did not mean all evil people will have towers fall on them.
Every time a disaster like 9/11, Katrina, or this occurs people like Robertson jump up and claim God had a judgement against them. If God was Zeus, or Odin, this might be true. But Pat is more like James and John when they wanted to rain fire upon Samaria because they rejected Jesus. Jesus told them:
"You do not know what manner of Spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save." Luke 9:55-6
Pat Robertson needs to apply to himself one last line of scripture before speaking out, and that is Proverbs 10:11- The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked."

______________________________________

I sent a contribution through worldvision.com. I tried Red Cross but their site is messed up and IE kicked me clear off of it. Everyone has seen the pictures of the destruction there, but here's a stat to point out just how bad it was. Every year, the earth suffers about 800 quakes of between 5.0 and 5.9. Haiti took care of 1.3 % of this years total in the first five hours after the main quake.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Update on retarded terrorists

It seems that after 4 days of bad p.r., the separatists who killed the Togolese soccer team members now say, "We didn't mean to hurt the Togolese, we were aiming at our countrymen in the security convoy that brought them in. Togo is one of our favorite pissant countries and we apologise profusely. We only want to win independance for our poor province. Sorry for any inconvenience."
Of course, they don't mention that the reason they want their province's independance is because they're the ones who have the oil wealth and no longer appreciate the central government using it to subsidise the po' folk in the rest of Angola, even to the probably meager extent that the gov'mint actually does that. So let's create another petro-archy and another totally destitute welfare nation for the UN dole. Yet another good reason to get the US out of the UN and vise-versa.
Oh, and for those of my millions of readers who aren't Laurie's facebook friends, we did indeed survive day one returning to work. However, I WILL be wearing the insoles tomorrow.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

terrorists and sports

In the latest round of homocidal "who's dumber", terrorists in the nation (not the city, guys) of Angola killed 3 members of the Togo soccer team, in country for a high profile African tournament, in an ambush. They are trying to draw worldwide attention to the fact that the didn't get a fair deal (I wonder why not? "Sure, I'll vote for the murdering maniacs.") in the last round of elections in their very important pi$s$hi# republic. I know I will certainly be more sympathetic to their desires after their heroic actions against those heavilly armed (er, balled... er, never mind) foreign interlopers who got what they deserved for using sportsmanship to make the world a better place. Why, just check my tax forms and see how much similar actions by Al-Qeaida, Fatah, Hamas, and the Irish Republican Army inspired me to make charitable contributions to their causes.
Coming out of sarcasm mode, I have an idea to actually help these idiots. How about the UN sets up a commitee that would register these various separatist and religious terror groups and give them what they claim they want- a forum to express their views to the world. They sign up, lay down their arms, and tell the world why they're fighting, who they're fighting, and what they want for their nation. Right now, their governments may suppress them and the UN bows to the 'legitimate' governments. Give them a chance to be heard without the gunfire and maybe we'll be heard above the gunfire.
Of course the whole plan falls apart if they aren't really fighting for the cause they claim to espouse, but instead are just murder clubs grateful for the excuse to kill. Tell me, Osama bin Laden- are you commited to a cause or to murder for the thrill? And to the rest of you terrorists, we know you'll kill for your cause. Are you willing to try living for it, for a change?

________________________________

As incongruous as this is, I have the results for the New Haven FFL end of the season chaalenge for this week. The KCAs continue in the top spot with 87 points. The B2s pulled into second with 83, but all thei players are now out and they are stuck. The Rhinos slip into 3rd with 76, followed by the SVA (67), Ducks (63), and Angels (55). The Elks leap 5 spots to #7 with 54 after a 34-point weekend; the Beagles move up one place with 51, and a late rally by the T-Cubs move them up one to 9th with 50. Buzz managed just one td and fell 3 places to 10th with 46. The Clock BBQs slide one spot to 11th with 44. And in a bit of irony, the Rangers- who are 0-8 in playoff games all time- score 0 points in the first playoff week to remain at 37 points and fall from 8th to 12th and last. That gives me 233 points for my three teams, Shenan 193, Laurie 160, and KC 127. Hooray! Go me!

Nehemiah 9:35

That's the verse that caught me this morning. To set up, the exiles have returned to Jerusalaem and fininshed rebuilding the walls. They've taken time to re-examine the Law passed down from Moses, and the Levites and elders are leading them in a long compact between the Lord and themselves. In this verse they announce four indictments against themselves and the repercussions of the crimes. These indictments can also be applied to our government, the Church (organized or otherwise) and to us as individuals. Follow as I dissect the passage. This is from the New Open Bible, NKJV.

" ...For they (our fathers) have not served You...
1. "...in their kingdom...
As a nation, we've activley distanced ourselves from God. As a Church, we seem to be distracted chasing after issues instead of leading the nation. As individuals, we must ask- are we doing our Christian duty as Citizens? And we each have to define 'our duty' for ourselves. Are we activists? Do we vote? Do we even care what happens in this nation?
2. " ... Or in the many good things that You gave them...
As a nation, we see the effects of rampant greed in Wall St. and Congress, the ill use of what we were given. As a church we have been led away by lavish building programs and feel-good ministries that don't really help our poorer neighbors. As an individual, we must ask- are we giving? Are we giving to honor God's instructions or create tax deductions?
3. "... Or in the large and rich land which You set before them...
As a nation, we waste resources on pork projects, strip malls and condos (harrison square) that lie untennanted, and the million luxuries that are more important than food banks and teacher/police/firemen salaries. As a church, too many are to busy being political activists, attacking the country instead of praying for it. As an individual, the indictment is twofold. First, are we thankful and appreciative; second, are we using the resources we have been given To Serve God's Kingdom, which is the whole point of this verse? (Also, the reason I decided to post this. )
4. "... Nor did they turn from their wicked works."
Self-explanatory.

The passage goes on to give the results of these charges: First, they had become like slaves in this land God had given them. Not that they were owned per se, but that all their labor was for someone else. Second, their land brought increase to "the kings that rule over us". From the Balance of international trade to the mortgage we can no longer pay, we are in the same boat. Third, these rulers have "dominion over our bodies and our cattle." Some people think banning smoking everywhere is a great idea, and are more than happy when the state proposes laws (as they did just this last week) to involve the government in a parent's disipline of their children (as long as it's someone else's kid, of course). And some even like the provisions in at least one of the health care bills controlling what a doctor can spend his own money on (!). But what happens when we get far enough down the path that they tell YOU what you can do? Which all leads to #4, "and we are all in great distress"

I'm not suggesting we go out and save the world. But are we doing our part? Are we doing our part as citizens, sharing our blessings, or using what we have for the service of God? Or are we part of the problem, yet complaining about being servants in our own land? Here's my step one.

Why you don't let hillbillies win the national title

From CBSSports.com:

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama is going to display its new national championship football trophy at a place where most anyone can see it: Walmart.

The school says the Coaches' Trophy will be on display at a Walmart Supercenter in Tuscaloosa on Saturday and another Walmart store in Gardendale on Sunday .

Walmart. Trophy case of the inbred.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Top ads of 2009

Here's something I know you've all been waiting for:

The top ads of 2009
1. Snickers "Snackish" campaign, which includes the Patrick Chewing, Adam Nougateri, and other such nonsense.
2.Cars.com's "David Abernathy", the guy who had confidence to "perform open heart surgery in a crowded opera house with a ball point pen" but was afraid to buy a car. Does ink poisoning come to mind?
3. Apple's "there's an app for that" campaign.
4. GM's "reinvention" ads, which I've seen precious few of.
5. Intel's "our rock stars aren't like your rock stars", which I liked but only saw about three times.
6. Bud Light's "tailgate approved"- easily my vote for most annoying on the list.
7. Miller's "MGD 64" ads where one guy always got 64 calories worth of the other brand. Nice visual, stupid concept IMHO.
8. Windows "I'm a pc and windows 7 was my idea". I really liked the subtlety- how in their dream world where they got the idea they were better looking than in real life. Extra points for clever.
9. Bud lights' "too light/too heavy". Much better than Jimmy Football, especially the last two with the paintballers and the guy at the barbecue.
10. E-trade's baby and the golf game- HILARIOUS! "Check the rule book, shankapotamus!"

These were ranked by Zeta interactive based on the volume of internet buzz each received. "David Abernathy" is the lone survivor of last year's Super Bowl crop; MGD actually started apparently in 2007 but mostly got pushed last year. Also, the snickers campaign was formed around a taxi/billboard/bus stop campaign in NYC that invited readers to "speak snackish" which is what the other stuff evolved from.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The first great snow of 2010

Okay, that's a bit facitious without a big wind, but I did just shovel about 5 inches off my patio. Scrappy got to play out the back gate and had a booogle circus. Of course every time big yappie* barked his disaproval of Scrappy being out and him in, Mr. Boy ran for the door.
(* 'big yappie' and 'little yappie' are the names we gave to the neighbor's dogs, actually 'Coal' and 'Mokie' respectively.) Scrappy had an unfortunate meeting with big yappie last summer before I became a cripple, and ever since has been upset at hearing their back door open for fear of a return visit. Unlike our previous dog, Fred, who would go nuts if he were chained and another dog walked past, but had a practised "I'm ignoring you" walk when positions were reversed. Scrappy only ignores the things he's just about to trip over.
By the by, we officially return to work Monday; thus, I'll have been laid off for each of the last two complete college football seasons. And, the new story is started over at bum steer productions (see earlier post for link). It is called, "The Banner: a story in 21 episodes".

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The unluckiest man in the world...

...has died at the age of 93. Tsutomu Yamaguchi was on business in Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945- in fact, he had been preparing to board a tram for home -when he discovered he left his personal seal back at the hotel. As he stepped off the tram, the first atomic bomb exploded just 3 kilometers away. It blew his eardrums, temporarily blinded him, burned him over the upper part of his body, and made his hair fall out. After a restless night at a makeshift hospital, he returned to work in his hometown the next day. Of course, that hometown was Nagasaki. On the ninth, he was reportedly in a discussion with his supervisor, who refused to believe that one bomb could decimate an entire city, when the second bomb went off- again, just 3 kilometers away. For those not conversant in metric, as I am not, that is just shy of 1.9 miles. I'm sure he was ready to surrender somewhat before Hirohito. Yamaguchi died today of stomach cancer; but it seems he spent most of his life with just a bit of Hearing loss.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

And the new family member is...




Meet Cassie, short for Cassiopia. She is a very pale gray, which made me think of Casper, which isn't appropriate for a girl. She is up taking in her new home as I write.
Also, Doc Wuest says I'm not dying yet, and he's gonna put me in the doghouse if I don't lose the 5 lbs. I gained over holidays and about 10 more by the time I see him in 4 months.
And, I just checked e-mail and found that we might be back to work as soon as Monday! Yay! Boo!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Stations of the Cross

For the last couple of years I have been posting a short novel, titled "Stations of the Cross", on my writing site at www.freewebs.com/cwmartin51662. Tonight, the final chapter has been enterred. It is a story that tries to tie the stories of the Gospels and the legends of the Church regarding the Passion of our Lord together on the framework of the Catholic Stations of the Cross. Later this week I will post the whys and wherefores of the various characters as an appendix, then move on to one of my other stories, I haven't decided which. Praise be to God, Lorraine won't be able to send me STORY STORY STORY!! e-mails for a while. (Hee Hee.) The site is called Bum Steer Productions, and the story is under "Stations of the Cross- a novella". It took 44 posts, most in archived and numbered from entry # 1. I also have picture and poetry there.

The repetition of history, part two

I've been reading a book called "The Twenty Year Crisis 1919-1939" by Edward Hallett Carr. I ordered it in my attempt to collect post-WWI history, but soon found it to be mainly an econ text and set it aside for like six months. I cracked it open last week. Now the gentlemen on the back cover (a prof. W.P.Maddox and former harvard president A. W. Griswold) descibe it as "...sane and detached... utterly devoid of national bias..." (Maddox), and "...an admirable introductory text for any college course in diplomatic history or international relations..." (Griswold). My first thoughts were, "Is this guy a communist?" (Martin). Sure enough, when I looked up Prof. Carr, I found that after this book was first printed (1939, just before the second war broke out), he began to drift more and more into sympathy with the Soviet Government, especially after Stalin passed the scene.
While not suprised that this book, which leans well left of "sane and detached" to me, was recommended college reading, I found holes in his theory, which basically goes like this: prior to his time, government and economics were fueled by two things: power- military or economic-, and morality or ethics, which morphed into "whatever the powerful do is the right thing to do" as the industrial revolution evolved into mass production. He critisizes governments for believing that a laisse-faire mode of business will give freedom for the powerful to "do the right thing" for everyone. Carr believed that this mythical "harmony of Interests" could only be achieved when "interests must be artificially harmonized by state action... it is clearly the business of the state to create harmony if no natural harmony exists." (Page 51) He believed " ..as Marx said,...'and therefore the higher development of the individual can only be secured through the historical process, in which individuals are sacrificed.' " (Page 50, from Marx, "Theorein uber den Mehrwert") So, you have to force people to do right, and a government must do that- even though he alwready postulated that the governments of his day were incompetant to do that. Then he quotes an interesting line from Lord Balfour: "... a complete harmony between 'egoism' and 'altruism', between the pursuit of the highest happiness for oneself and the highest happiness for other people, can never be accomplished by a creed which refuses to admit that the deeds done and the character established in this life can flow over into another, and there permit a reconcilliation and an adjustment between the conflicting principles which are not always possible here." (Balfour, "Foundations of Belief") Another words, You cannot seek harmony on earth without a belief in heaven and hell- a wise statement which Carr discounts as basically a belief in illusion, or worse. Later on he quotes the deacon of St. Paul's in a 1937 article in the London Times, "The principles of the Sermon on the Mount " would mean "Sudden death to civillized society."
So where am I going with that? Recently, I had opportunity to look over the career of one Alexander Dubcek. He was the head of the Communist party in Czechoslovakia during the "Prague Spring" of 1968. He began with a trickle what threatened to become a torrent of reform in eastern Europe by trying to build what he called "Communism with a human face". Of course, the Soviets knew where this would lead, and so they invaded Czechoslovakia from every direction, overthrowing Dubcek and exiling him for 21 years. Where it would have lead is wher it did lead for Mikhail Gorbachev two decades later- to the fall of Soviet Communism. Because Balfour was right; and you cannot put a human face on a doctrine that requires atheism without it collapsing under its own illusions. The Soviet system decayed from within, and that decay started with the removal of God from the government. It didn't require, and neither did Parthia, help from the terrorists to crumble. And what have we tried to do since 1948? And why is it Cuba and China are constantly under attack on human rights abuses? Because they know- Communism given a human face and faith in God will put them right with the USSR, Parthia, and the dinosaurs.
Also, as some of you know, I had a blog for fanstasy football on CBSSports.com, but since I'm here anyway... With our season over, I decided just for fun to see how much our teams can score the last week of the season and through the playoffs. The standings after the last game of the season are: KCAs, 67; Ragin' Rhinos, 62; B2s, 59; SVA, 57; State Ducks, 43; Arden's Angels and Buzz Lightyears, 40; Sunset Rangers, 37; Fiery Beagles, 36; T-Cubs and Clock BBQs, 29: and Elks, 20. By team owner, that's Chris with 169; Shenan with 148; KC with 106; and Laurie with 90.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What comes around...

Let me tell you a story about a nation. For many years, that nation had been defined by its struggle against another nation; they were the planet's two superpowers. The other had begin to slip from that power due to internal decay; but this nation was not without its own decay. But what brought this nation down were the terrorists. They seemed to be everywhere, at every border, causing chaos within and without the nation. And at times they even blended in, becoming valued members of society. To a certain extent, they took over the real workings of the nation, while its people sat back and got fat on the good life, or else worked like slaves to pay the taxes that supported the fat people's good life. And when the terrorists threatened, all the tiny little nations around this nation flocked to it for help; but let the terror ease off, and they declared independance from "those bossy people" of this nation. One day the terrorists got tired of the farce that was this nation's government and running it from behind the curtains. They overthrew the leadership, and the nation died, throwing the world into chaos for a long time.
Is this an apolcalyptic vision of the USA and where its going? Maybe. But I was actually telling the story of Rome, its rival Parthia (which is basically what the ancients call Persia and we call Iran), and the barbarian German and Hunnish tribes that ended up overthrowing them. Still, put this way, is the story of the USA, USSR, and Islam any different? Funny how history repeats itself just by substituting "USA" for "Rome", "USSR" for "Parthia", "Muslim radicals" for "Huns", and "Mexicans" for "Visigoths". Rome buckled under the constant attacks and fought back by recruiting barbarians to fight barbarians, until the barbarians ran the show and the Roman Emperors, like the Mighy and Powerful Oz, said, "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. And we are obviously repeating history in America, just as the USSR repeated Parthia's. The question isn't where we are headed. It's how far down the Yellow Brick Road are we?
Next time, the mistake of the USSR.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Colts' Little Brothers

The Cincinnatti Bearcats and their crushing loss to the Florida Gators new years night might seem to be blamed on a head coach who backed up an armored car to the Bank of Notre Dame and left and an acting coach who was acting just this once and then shuffling of to (the U. of) Buffalo. But truth be told, the 'cats got whupped the same reason that the Colts also got their unbeaten season obliterated by the Jets.
Simply, they weren't as good as all that.
Both teams fought their way through their schedule with a suspect defense and a one-dimensional offense. Each stayed undefeated because of two factors. For the Colts, factor one was the fourth quarter stamina of Peyton Manning was just too much for any of his opponants. More than anything else, the Colts simply outlasted their opposition. For the Bearcats, Tony Pike was simply better than any of the other qbs he faced. For that matter, so was Zach Collero, his replacement in the 3 or 4 games Pike was hurt and missed. Cincy was thus able to outscore their opponants no matter how badly their defense got lit up. The second factor was the same for both: B.A.L. ( blind ass luck). Both these teams lived a charmed life, with the Colts' wins over Miami and New England and the 'cats wins over Pitt and WVA just the most prominent examples.
Blame the coaching staff or G.M. for sitting Manning et.al. all you want for the Colts' loss to the J-E-T-S, but it doesn't replace two important truths- one of which was that they never figured out how to kick it in gear before the 4th quarter. Blame Brian Kelley's departure all you want for the Bearcat's fold last night, but it doesn't change two truths- one on them being that there are teams out there that simply aren't afraid of Tony Pike like those in the Big East. The second truth is the same for both teams: inevitably, the laws of nature will prevail over B.A.L., and they who deservest not perfection shall not achieve it.
One more note on that game. In a way, I'm glad it wasn't close, because the referees were Pac-10 and sucked like all Pac-10 refs. Early on, a flag was thrown for an obvious face mask. As Fox ran the replay clearly showing the foul, the official announced they were picking up the flag, there was no foul. You could almost hear the jaws of announcers Tom Brennaman and Brian Billick drop, not to mention those of all those Gator fans watching. Thankfully, their incompetance didn't manage to cheat one of the teams out of a deserved victory since the game was over almost from the start. Pac-10 officials should not be allowed within 10 miles of any organized sporting event, and that was yet another undeniable truth exposed last night.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The first to fall...

Her full name was Mohammed Allah Akbar Osama, I think. This was in response to the radical stupidity of Muslims storming newspaper offices for running cartoons of Mohammed and Arresting teachers who obliviously named class teddy bears after him. But, much like all the other dwarf hamsters I've had, she got called 'little girl'. She was a sweet, even-temperred, little gray handful that managed to avoid all of the various addictions I subjected my other 'mice' to over ther years. And, I'm ashamed to say, she probably didn't get the attention most of them did. But she loved the attention she got, even from Scrappy ( I had to warn her, "Don't let the Booogle get you"). She loved her dad, even when she got left alone for a month when my leg kept me downstairs and before I said, "Duh, let's bring her downstairs".
Yesterday, I tried to give her some of that attention and found she could no longer haul her butt out of the cage door for all her efforts. She had the shakes, which seems to be a telltale of the Reaper's aproach. Still, she managed to get upstairs (she lived in a two-level, using the upstairs primarily for a ladies room) for New Years, though she looked terribly bloated. She spent that last night fairly active; it wasn't till morning that she passed from this cage. She was cooling but still warm when I found her in her little blue house- she must have seen the first dawn of 2010 in her last moments.
I placed her in her edible (but not eaten) little log house and buried her under the first tree at the head of the trail into the fence row off the back patio. Right now, her cage sits in componant pieces while I decide whether she will, like those before her, have a successor. I don't know yet; for all the less-than-attention I gave her, I find I really miss her already. Maybe that's because she was so content with any attention she got. She didn't need constant affirmation; whenever I got around to her, she loved me just the same. That indictment of myself is why I debate letting her be the last. She deserved better than she got, in life and death. But she never minded.

A beginning...

So I have taken my first steps into the wild and wacky world of internet expession. I've been thinking about this for a long time, weighing factors such as, do I really have anything to say? Will anyone look at it? Do I have the time? Will I be arrested for anti-Obama posts? I finally came to the conclusion, as Paul once said, that these things are common to man and if the answers are no, no, no, and probably, I'll still fall into the 90th percentile of bloggers. And so, here I am, with a couple dozen ideas for posts shouting for attention at once, while I sit like the driver of a runaway stage coach trying to keep them in line-if for no other reason than to have something left to say on the next post.
So, happy 2010! I looked at a horoscope for Taurus yesterday that said that things are going to get better this year, with things peaking around my birthday. I told Laurie about this; I also commented that we'll thus likely be fired in mid-May. I have no belief in astrology, by the by; if it was true, I'd be on the "YOU are a TAURUS?" fringe of things. Or to put it another way, my generalities don't fit well the Taurus generalities. Outside the stubbornness, that is.
This years celebrations included the ceremonial playing of Counting Crow's "A Long December", Dick Clark and his little buddy Ryan Seacrest, and Laurie shooting off fireworks on Farmville. I know, we live the wild life.
So now its time for me to do the various things neccessary to connect with this suddenly-frigid world. I hope we all have that "better year" this year and God willing, survive to see the next new years in a healthy, peaceful, non bombed out world.