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Recently, I got a new bottle of shampoo. I came upon this new bottle the same way I come across new rolls of T.P. or clean socks in my drawer--fairies come in the night to place them there. Anyway, this particular bottle of shampoo features Green Apple Extract. There are even pictures of green apples on the label. So, I'm thinking to myself, "why would I want my hair to look (or smell) like green apples". I'm really not going for the shiny green dome look. I have enough bees buzzing around me as it is. Clearly, the marketing people are not going after men with this label. Hey, if you're going to tie shampoo in with food, go with meat. Meat appeals to men in ways that most other foods do not. And while you're at it, why not Ribeye? At least cows have hair. Better than Green Apples. But then, Men aren't the shampoo fairies, are they?
Attention Wal-Mart ZombiesI was in Wal-Mart the other day. I know it's very fashionable to denigrate the superstore these days, but where else can you go if you need duct tape, milk, shampoo and some CD's. That's the great thing about Wal-Mart. No matter what you need it's probably there. Except shopping baskets. No, not the large, rolling carts or buggies. I'm talking about the small hand-held baskets. Men love these. If there are no baskets, then what's a man to do? Well, they can carry everything they need in their arms. Four gallons of milk? No problem, I got it. Sixteen boxes of Christmas lights. Don't worry, I can get it. Men, generally, want to get in and get out (hey, get your mind out of the gutter --ed.) They don't want to attempt to navigate box stores full of humanity with a shiny metal cart down narrow zombie-filled aisles. You never see women speeding through the aisles with a basket or their arms full of "stuff". Women have a buggy with their purse in the seat and a pack of gum in the cart lolling down the center of the aisle while men are scampering around them with their arms full of must-haves. Women never seem to hurry in Wal-Mart. I think that the store broadcasts a signal that calms, sedates and soothes. It must only effect the fairer sex. Perhaps their skulls are, well,thinner When women call us dense, I think they're right. But at least our density blocks the signals from Wal-Mart which turns them into Zombies.
Last night, during bouts of sleeplessness, I listened to portions of Michael Medved's radio show. I find Medved to be an honorable and thoughtful invididual--a rare conservative in the Hollywood environs. Medved was interviewing actor/activist Richard Dreyfus. Too bad Dreyfus can't fulfill himself with acting. I have enjoyed him in many movies over the years, but I have little patience for his psuedo-intellectualist elitism. Medved, and his callers, were attempting to draw distinctions between Dreyfus' political leanings and their own. Dreyfus, however, was unwilling (or unable) to concretely assert any solid position on anything. To Sir Richard of Dreyfus nothing is solid. There is no concrete. Nothing is true and yet, everything is true.
This got me to thinking (musing, you might say). How difficult must it be to live a life in which there are no absolute truths? (Sidebar: reminds me of a joke a statistics prof once imparted to me. A student asks his english teacher, "what is two plus two?". Her answer (or course) was four. The student then asked a mathematics teacher. The math teacher responded, "well, that depends if it's exactly two plus exactly two. It could be four, or could be a little more or a little less". The student then asked a statistics professor. The stat prof responded, "son, it's whatever you want it to be".) How hard would it be to navigate through life if two plus two did not reliably result in four? Worse yet, how perilous would our civilization become if people could not reliably differentiate between true and false, between right and wrong, between Good and Evil?
Think about how much more dangerous would the world be if brakes sometimes produced acceleration, if our supposedly safe food often killed us or if an airplane's wings did not always produce lift. What if abortions on demand were accepted and encouraged, if paedophilia was not always considered wrong, if murdering terrorists were not always condemned by the civilized world? This is close to our reality today. Since many on the far left do not believe in any absolute truths, they would have us believe that these things could be good under the right circumstances--and we must not judge. Dreyfus (and his ilk) do not believe in absolute truths. Increasingly, in this world, many people think that since anything can be "good" under the right circumstances, then we must not judge and we must be tolerant for we may be ignorant of those circumstances.
Hogwash, I say. Man has a God given capacity to determine truth and to differentiate Goodness from Evil. For some, it's a certain discernment inherent in them. Some may call it instinct. Others may call it conscience. Or the Holy Spirit. Some people grow and foster this. Others shun it, denounce it and reject it. But that does not mean that it doesn't exist.
Listening last night, I wondered how Dreyfus was able to ascertain if even the food he eats is safe, since he couldn't even reliably determine what safe is....or even what food is. I wouldn't rely on his opinion on what is good or true. Fortunately, there are things in this world that are absolutely true, whether Dreyfus believes it or not.
I watched the official State funeral for President Ronald Wilson Reagan yesterday. I was moved, inspired, saddened. The silent procession. The 21 gun salute. Nancy Reagan standing at the top of the Capital steps as the flag draped coffin is brought into the Capital Rotunda. The brief hand she places on the coffin as it passes her. The eulogies by Ted Stevens and Dick Cheney were especially moving. Reagan was indeed a great man and a great President. He was also a great man of God.
That's something that you don't really hear much about. Sure there were passing references from the speakers at the funeral--that would be true for many people. But the major media is fairly silent on this issue. Ronald Reagan was a devout Christian man. He could see evil for what it was. The Soviet Union was built on communism and atheism and was, therefore, inherently evil. He got that right. He lived his faith. After being elected Governor of California he said, "It is part of God's plan for me". After he survived an assasination attempt, he said, "Whatever happens now I owe my life to God and will try to serve Him every way I can." He was not, as Dick Cheney said, corrupted by the trappings of power, fame and fortune. He lived his faith in the public spotlight. (More reading on this subject here and here.)
I was thinking about all of this as I was reading an op-ed article today in my local paper, the Post-Dispatch. The author, Betty Rollin, was writing about death with dignity:
When I helped my mother die in 1983, there was no Oregon. That is, there was no state where physician-assisted suicide was legal. Not that it would have mattered, because the law applies only to residents of Oregon and my mother lived in New York. So we were on our own, the three of us: my mother, who was dying of ovarian cancer, but in her view not fast enough; my husband, a mathematics professor; and I, my mother's only child. Amateur criminals all. But we muddled through. She got the pills down. She slipped away gratefully, gracefully, peacefully.
I thought to myself, is this dignity? I don't see it. Is this graceful? Certainly not. I thought of the way Reagan died; a long, slow deterioration. I'm sure there were times he thought it was not fast enough. Ten years. Did he consider speeding up the process. We can never really know, but I think not. Clearly, he never did end his own life. The difference, I think, is that Ronald Reagan died the way he lived. With a faith in God. Honoring God. Knowing that everything would work out in the end. He understood that life is precious and that God has sovereignty over life and death. President Reagan honored God until the very end. Now that is dignity. That is grace. May God welcome you and Bless you President Reagan.
Well, well, well. It's been quite a while since I've updated this page. So long, in fact, that I've decided to do away with the whole date thing. Something like I've done with the
Anyway, I've recently done some maintenance on the old computer. Sorta like putting lotion on dry skin. A sauve. In this case, it was so bad I needed the Corn Huskers Lotion equivalent. You see, Lovely Daughter loves to chat with all her buds via Instant Messenger. I've come to believe that IM is as bad as Kazaa ever was--at least in terms of acquiring all sorts of various pests and hangers on. I don't know if IM is to blame entirely, but it seems that lately I've been inundated with the dreaded "pop-ups". They've sincerely degraded my browsing experience. I decided it was time to take action. STOPZILLA! Yes, STOPZILLA!. It does to pop-ups what it's pseudonamesake did to the poor jap infrastructure. As an added bonus, you don't see any wires or strings. I like it so much that I'm actually gonna pay for it in 7 more days.
The next thing I did was to run the Ad-Aware program. This little jewel detects all the slime accumulated as you walk through the Internet. All the little bits of malware and other hangers-on that make your computer do unexpected things like continously link to the shopathome.com site. It also flushes away all the little data miners that continuously operate in the background and slow down the works.
After that, ran the Norton "live update" and did the weekly (actually changed the schedule to twice weekly) scan. Kinda like washing the car after a snowstorm. Gets rid of all the salt and road residue that builds up. Always seems to run better after a good washing.
Well, it's now August 11 and we haven't yet hit 90 degrees this month. What a wonderful summer we've been having here in mid-America. Since the weather has been so nice, lovely wife and I took the opportunity this weekend to sit in our darkened living room and watch the latest offerings from the demented souls in Hollywood--movie wannabees, actually. We spent 37 minutes at our neighborhood video store and selected the trifecta: Feardotcom, Swim Fan and Daredevil. I was completely unimpressed.
Feardotcom is a The Ring wannabe. If you've seen The Ring, don't bother with Feardotcom. If you haven't seen The Ring, don't bother with Feardotcom--go see The Ring (The Ring was the best horror/suspense movie I've seen in quite some time). Fear was the most reprehensible movie I've seen since The Road to Perdition--even more so. It's replete with disturbing imagery and depravity; I felt sullied by the experience. I'm surprised it didn't to better in the box office.
Swim Fan was much more tolerable, although it was a Fatal Attraction wannabe. It should have been titled High School Fatal Attraction. Exactly the same plot. Does no one in Hollywood have an original thought? There was nothing overt or explicit about either the sex or violence for which I was grateful, well at least partially. You know the story: man is seduced by woman, woman insinuates herself into man's life and makes it a living hell, man indulges in lies and deception to keep his secret hidden until he finally comes undone. This particular version also included scary, jerky film editing which evoked the nasty vixen's psychotic nature very scary. On a scale of One to Very Good, I'd give it a solid Quite Poor.
The last of the triumvirate, Daredevil, was easily the best of the bunch. Double D was essentially a Spiderman wannabe, with Ben Affleck as bat boy. Really, Mr. Jennifer Lopez was just a man who was blinded when he was a kid and developed a superhuman sense of smell, hearing, hang-time, balance, reflexes, girlfriends, leather costumes, etc. One thing that immediately turns me off is this whole jumping up the side of a building thing. I never saw any of it until Crouching Tiger, now it seems to be everywhere--even Charlie's Angels have it. Did they all go see Bullwinkle and get some Upsadaiseium? I don't get it. It just looks so...fake.
The crowning glory of the entire weekend actually occurred on Friday afternoon glad I didn't know it at the time as it would have dashed all my hopes. I saw Giant for the first time. Rock Hudson (before he got Jill St. John and all her warts worts?, Elizabeth Taylor (well before she got weird) and James Dean (before he got dead). Of course it was full of sex and violence and depravity--they just had the good sense not to show any of it. 1956. Hollywood had some good sense then. Alas, not anymore.
Missouri, like many States, is in the midst of a looming budget shortfall. This despite a tremendous growth in revenues in the past decade. Unfortunately the rapidly increasing revenues were met with equally (in some cases more rapidly) increasing expenditures. Well, hey, it's only natural. When I make more, I spend more. The result is that the state legislature has been in special session to come up with a budget that will balance.
Of course the special session is a partisan battle. One side says, "we must cut expenditures". Yes, cut funding for the needy. Yeah, this household needs to cut back some to pay off our credit cards. From now on, we're not buying any food, clothes or toys for the kids.. The other side says, "we must raise taxes". Yes, and target the tax increases for the wealthy. We need to pay off these credit cards. Let's borrow some money from your folks. Both sides seek to put the burden on the opposing party's main constituency. The debate has been running for several weeks with no end in sight.
This was the backdrop which prompted some genius pundit to comment in my local paper that the only way a State can increase revenues is to raise taxes. "It' not like they can sell off a State Park or a lake", geniuspundit said. Well, that got me to thinking. Then I got a headache. Naptime...ZZzzz...
Anyway, what I was thinking was this: you don't sell the park, you sell the name. It's happening all over corporate America. Taco Bell Fiesta Bowl, 3Com Park, Enron Field--well, maybe that one didn't turn out so well. Missouri has plenty of landmarks that corporate America would pay good money for. Mark Twain State Park? Well, ole Sammy Clements doesn't have particularly deep pockets at this point in time. I'd bet American Airlines would pay a pretty penny for American Airlines Flyover State Park. The pilot could even announce it in flight, like they do for the Grand Canyon.
We have a beautiful lake in Missouri--Lake of the Ozarks. I'm bettin' that we get no additional revenue from the Ozarks. They're mountains,well hills really, and they are unemployed. We'd do much better with The Bass Pro Shops Lake of the PartyBarge. Or what about this Mississippi River. Mississippi is such a poor state. Exxon Haz-Waste River may not be worth the additional revenue. Perhaps Culligan River or Absopure River. Either way, we could do better than Mississippi.
Well, those are just a couple of ideas--musings really. I'm sure if the legislature would think outside of the U-Haul Moving and Storage Box, they could come up with others. Meanwhile, I'm going to walk across my Scott's TurfBuilder Lawn, down my QUICKRETE driveway, past my Glad Trashbags trash can and put a payment for my Visa Gold Platinum Mastercard in my U.S. Postal Service mailbox. Maybe later I'll take a drive in my BMW of Missouri Z4 (ok, U-Save AutoHaus Chevy Corsica, but a guy can dream, can't he?).
Well, it's the second week of my C/C++ computer programming course. It's very interesting and superbly geeky. Sample: There are 10 types of people in the world....those who understand binary and those who don't. Programmer's humor is definitely not professional-grade. If you don't get it, be grateful, be very grateful. I knew I was in trouble on the first night when we were handed plastic pocket protectors. So far, we have constructed a program that prompts you to enter a number...and then...magically it squares the number. What power!
I actually bought Microsoft Visual C++ for Christmas last year (well, for myself and BoyHead) thinking I could just sort of pick it up from the manual. Lotsa luck. When the learning curve is that steep, it's hard to get traction--you need a little nudge. Hey, gimme a boost. With the aid of the class and the text I've been able to decipher most of it. BoyHead (ever in game mode) has already "beaten" the first three chapters.
After my HTML class, I felt the urge to keep using it and learning more so that the knowledge would
Now, since I'm a little on the portly side, I don't necessarily enjoy the hot, humid weather that often accompanies summer. At least I didn't think so until this year. Granted, nobody wants oppressive summer-type weather in March or April. And May should still be relatively cool at times. But now it's June. It's time.
The kids are out of school, the pools are open, ski practice and tennis lessons have started. It's the 4th of June and we haven't even reached 70 degrees this month. The high yesterday was 58. I refuse to turn on the furnace in June. Where are my chloro-fluorocarbons?
And then there are the tomatoes. Yes, I have a lovely little tomato hatchery. Modest really. Just eight youngsters. But young tomato plantlets love sunlight. They crave warmth. We've had neither. My usual plan is to have the tots in the ground in early April and to be eating 'mater sammiches by the Fourth of July. Not this year. At this rate I won't be enjoying the Beefsteaks, Big Boys and Better Boys until the season premiere of Friends.
It's not just Gluttony that's affected by this cool spell. Sloth has also taken a serious downturn. I received a lovely hammock for my birthday in April--yes, the glorious spring days of early April when thoughts of June brought fantasies of endless lolling. I've enjoyed exactly one hammock encounter thus far--satisfying, but not nearly enough. I'd use a blanket, but that is specifically proscribed in the Man Handbook.
Sometimes you just don't appreciate a thing until you're deprived of it (Martha Stewart notwithstanding). So, for the love of Sloth, Gluttony and yes, the children, please let the sun shine. Please let it warm our hearts and souls, the land and air, the tomato and the hammock. Please let summer begin. It is time.
5/26/03Ok, so it's a perfectly sunny day--even though the forecast called for "afternoon rainshowers". And yes, in the past, I've had to shovel 4 inches of "partly cloudy" off my driveway. But why blame it on the forecaster? Why not on that butterfly in the amazon or even on the weather itself? We all know that weather forecasting is not an exact science, but why?
First consider this: drop a stick in the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and try to determine (forecast) when the stick will go past the Arch in Saint Louis. Sure you know the average velocity of the flow. You know where all the twists and turns are. You even know where the locks and dams are. But what about all those little eddies? What about the tugs and barges?
After a while, mainly through trial and error, but also due to greater information about the river, your timing (forecasts) get better. As your timing improves your are now tasked with providing additional information. What is the velocity of the stick when it goes past the arch? What is the exact position of the stick in the river--is it closer to Illinois or Missouri? What is the orientation of the stick?
To make this analogy apply to weather forecasting we need to do a couple of things. Take away the river banks, increase the depth to 60,000 feet and make the stick neutrally buoyant (i.e. it does not simply float on the top of the water, but is submerged at varying depths). Let the stick travel anywhere the flow takes it. Now it's not simply a north/south flow problem--the flow travels in all directions, including vertically. It's no longer simply 3d; now it's a 4 dimensional problem (i.e. length, width, depth and time).
Something to think about next time you get soaked from "fair skies".
More on this in my next installment of 'Musings'
Now, with the aid of the muses....
Now I may be getting myself into trouble here, but why is it that women have such strong opinions on virtually everything? Ask them, on a scale of one to ten, how strongly they feel about topics such as the War in Iraq, their husbands sloppiness, the pattern on their paper towels, and the lowest rating is something like 8.7. They have no two's or three's. Are they Olympic judges (9.9, 9.8, 9.9...). Or maybe it's like the Richter scale (9.2 is 100 times stronger than 9.0). I dunno, but I'm more bimodal.
Give me a yes/no any day. At least my chances of being correct there are close to 50% (close, but not quite. Some days there are no correct answers). I really can't differentiate scales like: Fully agree, somewhat agree, agree, disagree, pedigree. Whenever I have to full out a survey like this I just give mostly Fully agree (but you have to throw a few pedigrees in there, if just to seem thoughtful--you know you do it!).
I guess it's like seeing shades of gray or hues of color. Me, I'm a red, blue, yellow, green man--on a good day pink and red, too. None of this magenta, ecru, pusse, teal, eggshell. Those are women's colors--no real man can even see these colors. Keep it simple, I say. My eyes only see real colors like white or brown--none of this offwhite, eggshell, ecru stuff. OK, maybe tan (i.e. light brown) that's the very best I can do. I suppose my color identification skills never really evolved any further than kindergarten. Khaki--heck, I thought that was a fabric!
I'm quite proud to highlight just one of the cruel differences between the sexes--the inner workings of our minds. That'll be one of the main points in my new book: Men are Beef Stew, Women are Souffle. On a scale of one to ten, it's sure to rate a 3.2.
OK, I guess it's fairly clear by now that I really don't have any rants--or at least any rants that I can safely share with the whole wide world (www). Alas, I have a rant page an no rants--what to do?
Several options present themselves. One is to simply let this space lie fallow, maybe I could even get a government subsidy. I have planted no rants this year, nor will I plant any rants during the next growing season. Hey, maybe that's my problem: Rants are out of season. Oh, wait...Limbaugh's on. Nope, fresh crop of ripe rants.
Perhaps I could open up the space for Guest Rants. How about a "Carville/Matalin Rantfest" I bet they have some, but who cares? If I can't get up enough gumption to have my own rants, why would I care about other people's beefs? Don't we already hear enough of these? I think so.
So, I think the best solution for the use of this space is to get away from this whole idea of Rants. They're just so negative, so unproductive, so full of rage and hate and vengence and... What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.... Ahem, well, I think this page would be best devoted to "Musings".
Yes, Musings. It has an almost lyrical quality. Musings. No negativity, just positive and sweet. Musings. Deep, deep, thoughtful Musings ZZZZzzzzz
Well OK then. It's decided. This page will henceforthly be devoted to Musings. Check back to see if I actually have any.
No rants yet, I guess things are going well. Come back soon, this can't go on much longer