Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Juice

I don't usually write about items in our local Westminster, Maryland newspaper (The Carroll County Times) but a few things in today's Sunday edition got my juices moving. (Some good juices and some bad juices.)

First, the bad juices:

01. The Associated Press reports that thousands of African albinos have gone into hiding after 58 have recently been killed and dismembered under the belief that albino body parts have magical powers. Up to $75,000 can be made by selling a complete dismembered set of parts.

Albinos normally have normal children. Albinism is hereditary, but only when both parents have albinism genes.

(Would it be feasible for the U.S. to offer refuge to albinos? They probably are not safe anywhere in Africa.)

02. The AP also reports that protesters are rioting in Geneva, Switzerland (of all places!). They are protesting the seventh WTO (World Trade Organization) Ministerial Conference, opening tomorrow. (I would like to know who is protesting, who is supporting them, why they are protesting, and what their demands are, if any.)

03. It was a homemade bomb that terrorists used to destroy a high-speed Russian train and the lives of 26 people. (What kind of mentality allows innocent people to be killed for any cause?)

04. Dwight Dingle passed away on November 26th, just a few days after the honorary Dwight Dingle Day in Carroll County. He ran the Maryland radio station devoted to the County and was instrumental in making it a communications device followed closely by almost everyone in the County. Dwight had a long and varied career in his 63 years of life.. it is a shame that he could not have at least another 20 years to do his good works.

A few years ago, I was privileged to meet Dwight and do a series of radio spots at his station. Dwight helped bring the details of Carroll County service agencies, like the ones I represented, to his listeners. (I was honored with induction into the Maryland Senior Citizen Hall of Fame last year, but I think that Dwight was far more qualified than I was and I'm sure that he would have been given that honor eventually, except for his very untimely death.)

05. Deer hunting season began yesterday. Last year over 100,000 deer were killed as well as several hunters. Please, hunters, find a way to freeze the meat (not human) you don't need so that poor people, at home, in institutions and in hospitals can get some protein.

06. A letter to the editor by a "religious" woman says: "God is not anti-sex. He is the one who initiated and blessed human sexuality. Yet, in my years of study, I have found no biblical support for the homosexual lifestyle...doesn't it seem odd that he (God) and his son Jesus are silent on the subject?... what the Bible does not tell me is so, is, well, not so."

Does the Bible say it is ok for priests to engage in "gang bangs" with children? It isn't mentioned in the Bible, yet even a Bishop's Group said this occurred, they are sorry for it, and will pay massive retribution.

This also begs the question: Where will the money come from to pay the claims? From the Priests or from the people? (As one of the richest organizations in the world, probably the sale of one bejeweled crown would handle the payment.)

Incidentally, at the time of Jesus' life, homosexual activity with boys was not frowned upon in the Roman/Helene world. I've read that Women were only used as "vessels for child bearing, a necessary function." Has the writer ever studied the writing and life of Saul/Paul/St. Paul? A Roman citizen in a Greek style world. Wasn't it Paul who wrote that spreaders of the Gospel should be celibate?

What I am trying to say with all of this is that "It ain't necessarily so. The things that you're liable, to read in the Bible. It ain't necessarily so."

The part of that song that I like the best is:

" Methuselah lived 900 years.
Yeah, old Methuselah lived 900 years.
But, what use is livin',
When no woman will give in,
To no man what's 900 years."

We know many gay couples and some are even bringing up beautiful, well-adjusted children. What the hell is wrong with that?

Well, I'll save my good juices for another blog. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just Say "NO!"

Do you receive a lot of irritating telemarketing calls and wonder why?

How many times have you been asked by a store clerk for your telephone number? How many times have you given it to them? Have you asked why they want it? Usually they say it is because they need it to "send you some coupons". HUH?! Think about that for a moment.

When a company has your telephone number, they have a valuable asset. Your telephone number is a wonderful piece of information for telemarketers. It is worth a LOT OF MONEY! (EXPECT SOME CALLS!)

The company that obtained your telephone number can sell that item to telemarketers because the telemarketers will then know that you have actually purchased a product at the store that obtained the number. This is fantastic information for them.. you are a known purchaser of a type of product they can probably get you to purchase again.. (EXPECT SOME CALLS!)

But.. you will say.. "they can't call me because I signed on to the "do not call" list." Well, if you have ever done business with the telemarketer .. or with the company that they bought your telephone number from.. the "do not call" list does not apply. (EXPECT SOME CALLS!)

So.. unless you like to get those irritating telemarketer calls.... my advice to you would be.. whenever a clerk asks you for your telephone number.... JUST SAY: NO!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ponder on this!

Yesterday, at the Doctor's office, I reaquainted myself with Harper's Magazine. I had forgotten what a great communications document it is. One of the features of the magazine is Harper's Index. Two items in that index "grabbed" me:

01. The estimated number of cars that it takes to produce as much co2 as a single cargo ship = 10,000! This estimate was attributed to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration in Juneau, Alaska.

Some time ago, I heard on National Public Radio that if all of the containers on just one cargo ship were placed on multi-wheeled trucks, and the trucks were lined up from the unloading dock in a line.. that line would extend (in Baltimore, Maryland's case) all the way to the start of the New Jersey turnpike!

I tried to calculate this myself.. I figured that the average container is 50 feet long and the front of the truck is 10 feet long. That means a length of 60 feet for each unit and if there were 1,000 units on the container ship... the total length would be 60,000 feet or only about 11 miles. The turnpike is a lot farther away than that. (40 miles?)

Maybe the length of the front of a truck is longer? Maybe the size of containers is greater than 50 feet? Maybe the number of containers on a ship is greater than 1,000? Maybe NPR made a
mistake? Maybe Joe Vaughan mis-heard? Could someone set me straight on this?

02. The Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, Scotland has estimated that there are 37,964 planets in the galaxy that are hospitable enough to support life as intelligent as human beings.

Who said that human beings are intelligent? (And don't put too much stock in IQ tests and LSAT scores. As a Mensa member for 30 years, I feel qualified to say that.)

I read that Catholic Bishops have been meeting lately to figure out what to do if life is found on other planets. I'm sure that they are reasoning that if God is all-powerful, He (or She) could place intelligent creatures anywhere he wants to in the universe.

(Did you hear the one about the Priest, the Minister and the Rabbi who set out in a space ship?)


Sunday, November 22, 2009

That's funny...

Listening to the Sunday radio news, I noticed that Oprah's plan to quit her popular show in 2011 was mentioned earlier than the Senate news on Health Care Reform.... Some of us remember her when she was on Baltimore TV.. she has indeed "come a long way, baby!" She is, of course, . a multi-billionaire, and stands to increase her wealth with her new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

I think that it would be wonderful for the people of the world if she and Bill Gates would each donate one billion dollars of their wealth to stem cell research. Perhaps they could fund some million dollar prizes to be given to the first scientists to make breakthroughs in that area. (Although maybe that would be duplicating a Nobel prize... Well then, how about a billion dollar prize to the scientist who shows the first practical application of stem cell methodology to breast cancer?)

Oprah has a dignified manner of speaking, and does not "trash talk" like some other communicators.

Sometimes, while listening to XM radio, I accidently switch to the channel that bills itself as a "laugh" channel, but which has "comedians" who think that every other word should be a vulgarism. What has that to do with humor? XM Channel 151 is my choice for a true "laugh" channel. The real comedians, who don' t have to rely on vulgarisms to be funny, are heard on that channel.

A little risque humor is fine, and "double entendres" are fun, and ordinary, old fashioned cuss words don't seem to detract from intelligent jokes. But "jokes" that rely on the use of "naughty" words that the "jokester" thinks will get a laugh, fall flat, in my opinion. The only comedian who got away with the use of vulgarisms in his routine was Redd Foxx.. but when you listened to him, you knew that he was being satiric in his usage.. and, as those of us who loved his TV show, he could be hilarious without the vulgarity.

I've told this story before somewhere in my blogs, but here I go again. Tony, a high school buddy of one of our friends here in Baltimore (Jim) was a comedian who performed in night clubs. Tony was performing in a downtown bar and called Jim to invite him to come down and watch the show. What Tony did not realize was that Jim would bring his wife and me and my wife along with him.

The bar was a sleezy joint that was probably the last place for strippers before they applied for Social Security. Our table was next to the door from which the strippers would emerge and it was a good vantage point to observe the appendix scars, c-section scars and hairy moles of these senior citizens.

Each table was in an alcove so that patrons (and the police) could not observe what was transpiring within. The 3-piece band kept up a sufficiently noisy "bump and grind" sound so that one could also not hear what was transpiring within the alcoves.

Tony was surprised and extremely nervous when he found out that Jim had brought his wife and friends. When his time came to tell his jokes, he decided to clean them up in order not to shock Jim's wife and guests. The audience did not like that.. and the manager began to yell at him from the wings: "Tell the dirty jokes or you're out of here!" We decided that by us being there, we were going to get him fired, so we left.

Jim lost touch with Tony and always wondered what became of him. Maybe he is one of the "performers" on the raunchy XM laugh channel.

Now, I am not a prude.. I think that "damn" and "hell" and mild curse words are great when used for emphasis.. but I do think that the constant use of very strong vulgarisms governs how ordinary people think about you and how you get placed within society and your community. It can also control the kinds of jobs you will be able to have in your life. .So.. save the vulgarisms for when you hit your thumb with a hammer.. or for when you are alone in your car in irritating traffic with the windows rolled up. (Meanwhile, did you hear the one about the two naked ladies and the yard sale?)


Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Weird Problem for a .-- . .. .-. -.. Person

I wonder if anyone else has the curse (-.-- ..- .-. ... .) that I have. It's a problem I have had since I learned Morse Code in the Air Force. Ever since then, my mind is always sending or receiving code in the background of my mind. For example, while doing a crossword puzzle today, the clue was: 7 letter word for "chains". Immediately, my mind began coding .-.. . - - . .-. ... (fetters). That code was being generated and transmitted by my brain subconsciously.. and I only realized it when I made an effort to concentrate on what was being transmitted in my head at the time.

When I was going to radio operators school, I had trouble with the Morse Code for "p" and "c", so I began to repeat the code for "percent" in my mind, over and over... (.--. . .-. -.-. . -. -) because of the presence of code for "c" and "p". It worked, I learned those code letters; the repetition caused the code for those letters to no longer be unlearnable... however, this learning aid never stopped generating and continues to generate in my mind when I am not thinking of other things.. even today.. over 50 (!) years later.

Let's see what is generating right now. Based on what I am involved it, it is not generating the usual "percent", but rather -... .-.. --- --. (blog) Let me make this clear.. this generation of Morse Code in my brain is continuous. Something is being coded every minute. Sometimes I even wake up with a "code in my head" ... Although this is a pun...(.--. ..- -.) I am serious about this.

This is a problem for me, but not a big problem. I guess it is like when I was stationed in Germany for almost 4 years.. at the end of that time, I was thinking in German and translating into English in my head. (Yes.. the Morse Code then spelled out German and English words.) So, I guess that Morse Code is like a language that lies in the background of your brain. However, after I got back to the US, in a few weeks I was thinking in English and German was shoved out of sight for a while.

But Morse Code seems to go on forever, generating in the background.

Another language I was a fluent in was French, but it never took over my brain and lies dormant.

So, why does Morse Code refuse to lie dormant, but continues to generate in the background.

Anyway.. if anybody is reading this who has (or had) "the Morse Code in the background" situation, could you let me know how you got rid of it.. if you did.

--. --- --- -.. -... -.-- . (Goodbye)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

More Wait Wait Info from Nov 7, 2009

One learns so much from NPR's great show: Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! For instance, today I was amazed to learn this information:

01. The 7-11 stores will be selling their own brand of wine shortly. (As this was mentioned, the music in the background had what sounded like these lyrics: "I've got cheap wine, and free time...")

02. The hard hat was invented by Franz Kafka. (I find this utterly fantastic, but one should not be too surprised by anything that Mr. Kafka created.)

03. Someone somewhere has combined an MP3 player with a tazer.

04. Coco Krispies boxes boasted that the cereal could boost children's immunity. (But probably not to diabetes, someone said.) According to a television report last night, the company may have agreed to take the boast off the box.

05. According to a study, 22% of male texters are ending their messages with "hugs and kisses" symbols. (Cute!)

06. It was reported that a judge somewhere visited x-rated adult book stores hundreds of times recently. The judge said that he went to the store because they had such delicious chicken soup in their vending machine.

07. A Canadian study found that pregnant women who have a lot of morning sickness end up with babies with high IQ's. (Ok, fellow Mensa members, what do you think of that?)

08. Another study found that bad drivers are not to blame for their problems.. they inherited the traits from genes passed on from their parents.

09. In Germany, some inventive advertising person placed banners on flies legs and they displayed his messages as they flew about the audience.

10. South Korean cab drivers are now allowed to watch TV while they drive.

11. A woman called 911 to report that she was driving drunk. (or maybe to report all those cars that were driving on the wrong side of the freeway.)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

More "Stuff" from a 1962 Scrapbook

I need to take a break from all of the things I have to do today, so I will get back to some items in a 1962 scrapbook. I think it's fun to see if anything has changed in 47 years.

01. In Kobe, Japanese farmers are fattening their cattle with sake and beer, and then massaging them to marble the meat, making some of the best beef in the world. (I wonder if aliens invented beer so they could enjoy marbled human beef when they come back to earth at harvest time? Sorry.)

02. One should try a Hong Kong delicacy, duck eggs that have been buried in lime for 60 days, or immersed for months in salted water. (Don't knock it until you've tried it.. or so
I've been told...)

03. Saigon swallow's nests are reported to be the best in the world.

04. In Hong Kong, one can buy cobra gall mixed with rice wine. Its supposed to be a good medicine for arthritis.

05. Hong Kong menu items: Lotus seed buns, shrimp and bean cakes, pig's tongue, shark fin buns, and dried macaroni and egg. (Yum!)

06. Another Hong Kong delicacy: Beggar's chicken wrapped in lotus leaves and cooked in clay. It is brought to the table with a hammer and is bashed open right at your elbow.

07. Albert Camus at age 43 writes: "The theater is the greatest of literary forms because it is the most difficult. The difficulty consists in putting lofty ideas to a wide audience where imbeciles sit side by side with intelligent people. It demands great art."

08. Camus has always held that life is an absurdity, but he has somewhat modified that view by the 1960's.

09. A guy with an amazing name: Townsend Hoen, has built a patio outside of his home on St. Georges Road (Baltimore?). It consists of lithographic stones used in the family business to print maps, labels and diplomas. (If you get tired of gazing at the sunset, you can check out the bricks to see who got an MD from Hopkins in the 1930's.)

10. Dr. Daniel Torrance of Ruxton (Baltimore) grows bonsai and some of them are over 75 years old. Most bonsai range from 12 to 24 inches, but there are some that are smaller than an inch!

11. There is a picture of a baby born in Philadelphia weighing 13 pounds 8 ounces. Nearby is the proud father, blowing cigar smoke into the air space around his fat baby. (I've heard that babies with such a weight are not that uncommon for French-Canadian families in Quebec.)

12. At Cincinnati's Good Samaritan Hospital, a waiting room for expectant fathers has opened. It is called the "Heirport."

13. A spurned girlfriend tried to get back at her ex-boyfriend by attacking his firehouse with her car. She broke doors, smashed an ambulance, dented a fire engine and a hook-and-ladder. Her tactic didn't work as well as she expected because her boyfriend worked at a different firehouse.

14. Two Baltimore 16-year olds were arrested for beating a tired old cart horse with a sledge hammer. (Not much has changed in this regard.)

15. Psychiatrist Peter Ostwald is trying to find out why people hum. (Save your money, Pete, it's because they don't know the words!)

16. A New York import firm is offering cigarette boxes with lids made of real rock with lichen growing over it.. guaranteed to live for 1,000 years.

17. Douglas Bottom painted his name on the lid of his garbage cans as is customary. Guess how the garbage men place his empty cans in his driveway.

18. J. Paul Getty gave some reasons why he should not be tossed from a balloon to keep it aloft.
a. I am probably lighter than the others in the balloon.
b. At 68, I'm probably younger than the other millionaires in the balloon. Oldsters should go first.
c. I pay more taxes than anyone else in the US.

19. Strickland Gililan wrote a literary work whose title was longer than the work itself.

Title: Lines Upon the Antiquity of Fleas

Body: Adam had 'em.

20. While idling in her driveway, the 1955-model car of Mrs. Doris Heddgepath of Glen Burnie (Maryland) blew up. Suspected cause: pressure build-up in the transmission.

21. Sun paper news item: "The two suspects were held at police headquarters and are to be enraged tomorrow with narcotics violations, police said."

22. A Xenia, Ohio town ordinance says that three days leave of absence with pay will be granted any city employee who submits proof of death.

23. High winds in Memphis, Tennessee, blew Harry Howard's $220. over a parking lot. With the help of friends, he recovered $221.

24. Typical Baltimore headline: Scheffing Thinks Sept Losses to Birds Hurts Tigers.

25. Finally, a cartoon from the Chicago Tribune: A man in a suit is taking off his coat and saying to his wife: The boss is beginning to notice my work.. he fired me today."


Monday, November 02, 2009

Catching up on the news.

I've been tied up for some time planning a conference. Now that it is over, I can concentrate on other things and maybe catch up on the news. Reading my favorite magazine The Week for November 6, 2009, and watching a little TV, I found the following news items to be quite interesting:

01. GOLF. There now is an 850 mile long golf course in Australia. Par 71. (Golfers have to be wary of wombat holes.)

02. SPY. Who would have thought that Fidel Castro's sister would have been a spy for the CIA? (Mr. Cheney may not know that she "outed" herself.)

03. RATINGS. FOX News is apparently enjoying being called "a wing of the Republican Party.

04. SEX. The "US Federales" have captured 700 bad people across the country in three days. This included a lot of alleged pimps engaged in child prostitution. Some child prostitutes are as young as ten!

05. SWINE FLU. I read that some "shock" radio persons are spreading rumors that the H1N1 vaccine "is tainted with antifreeze" as part of a plot by the Government to kill Americans.

This is extremely ridiculous and irresponsible. Some people who should get the vaccine, may not get it because of this misinformation. People need to take this situation seriously and make rational decisions about the vaccine. During the Flu Pandemic of many years ago, my Grandfather served his community as a volunteer nurse. In that community, nearly every family lost a member. There was no vaccine against the flu then. (Luckily, none of his 15 children got the flu bad enough to die from it.)

06. RODENT. Once again, a small animal has panicked lots of great big humans. Three hundred people were delayed for three hours while their airplane to London was "de-miced".

07. SUICIDE Epidemic. Palo Alto, California, is having a problem with teen suicides. Four students from the same high school have stepped in front of commuter trains on purpose. Eight more have been prevented from doing so. Is this the result of "ennui" for living in such a wealthy town?

08. FLY-PAPER?. A Florida man wore a "defective" pair of underwear for two weeks and claimed that the fly flap rubbed his genitals like sand-paper. He sued for compensation. Thank goodness the judge threw this one out.

09. WATCH OUT FOR STRANGE VEHICLES. If you travel in Minnesota, watch out for a drunk guy driving a motorized recliner with a built-in stereo set.

10. BRUSH UP YOUR SHAKESPEARE: If you travel in Dallas, be careful, police are ticketing motorists for being "non-English-speaking drivers." George Bernard Shaw was fond of saying that Americans haven't spoken the English language for years.

11. WHERE'S THE BEEF? The owner of the three McDonald restaurants in Iceland is closing them down because the current cost of importing ingredients would cause him to have to charge the equivalent of $7 for a Big Mac, apparently too many KRONA for folks to pay.

12. ARE YOU A NONE? A study found that 14 million Americans have no religious affiliation.. they are called "nones". Some of them believe in God, some are atheists, some agnostics, and some find labels unimportant.

13. ENDANGERED SPECIES. Several Canadian provinces have banned smoking in both public and private places, even in cars and apartment buildings! However, crackheads, who have a disease called addiction, are exempted and will have medical places where they can legally "inhale"!

14. PIE IN THE FACE. Soupy Sales died last week. He was 83. His claim to fame was that he had had 20,000 shaving cream filled pies hit him in the face over the years. If that is funny, he was a very funny man.