Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pictures from the cruise

I posted the pix from the cruise here.  I spent yesterday morning providing captions as well, so you'll have some idea of what you're looking at.  There are lots of pix of baby sloths from the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The vacation was great!

We had a great time on the 10-day cruise through the Southern Caribbean.  We are home now, a bit tired and definitely tanned.

There's a song that the Flying Karamazovs would sing that I've always liked at this time of year. If it's not obvious in print, the tune is "Sentimental Journey."
We would like to wish you 'Merry Christmas'
But we're not all Christians here.
Hanukkah would raise the same objections.
What's the theme this time of year?

New Year, we might wish you "Happy New Year!"
But it's not the start of Jew Year,
Or of the Chinese....
It's hard as heck to be politically correct.

Have yourselves a really merry Solstice.
For all the others, it's the cause.
Have yourselves a really swinging Solstice.
Ritually sacrifice a Santa Claus!


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

For that really special someone....

There's always someone, you know. Someone for everyone. You might first meet them at school, at work, at church, through a hobby. They might be someone you first get to know at a sporting event, a concert, even on the bus every morning.

And soon, you find you can't get them out of your life. They're someone you think about a lot. Someone that occupies your time and your thoughts. Someone you can't wait to tell everyone you know about. 

And for your favorite picture of that Certain Someone in your life, a company on the net has finally come up with the absolutely perfect picture frame

Let the world know: they're the real thing. 


Tuesday, December 01, 2009


My dear friend Brian and I have been planning on going to Vegas for ages.  AGES!  (How long?  Since before we were married to the respective Lights of Our Lives, that's how long.) 

We'd like to go there to gamble. We're not degenerate gamblers, we aren't risking the mortgage payment, it's not like we won't be able to afford whatever we're risking, but we like to gamble. Craps in particular.

Craps is a "boy" game. There's a lot of artificial community and much shouting and cheering.  You can also win (or lose) a considerable quantity of money fairly quickly. Blackjack is a quiet, cerebral game; Texas Hold 'Em is about calculating odds and reading your opponent; Draw and Stud poker are similar; Roulette is moderately sedate and has never quite grabbed me; Slots are definitely fun but there's no art to them at all and they're a guaranteed quick loser... but Craps gets you involved with the game, the betting, and even what the other players are doing. 

For one reason or another, we haven't been able to take a boy's weekend out to Vegas for all this time. It's to the point where I've been looking around to see if there are local casinos that I could get a craps fix at. (There aren't, really; I'd have to drive an hour and a half out to the Oregon Coast to get to Three Rivers Casino.) More importantly, there's no-one to go out there with: gambling by yourself is no fun.  ~sigh~ 

Well, I'll be able to do some of this on the cruise coming up soon: there are casinos on the ships and they  have craps tables in the casinos and there are a bunch of people who feel about craps the same way I do.  

But Brian and I are going to head out to Vegas at some point together.  Soon, I hope.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Babe's off to DC

She's doing training again in DC. I'll be driving her to the airport later this morning.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Been a little while...

I realized that it's been a week and a half since I posted. Part of this has been recovering after yet another hard disk crash (that's 2 major system crashes this summer; I believe that that's quite enough, thank you!) and not having passwords for a bunch of things like the blog, and part of it has been the joy, the thrill, the happiness of being laid off.

How you react to something is frequently a matter of choice and I have the luxury of choosing to be happy about this. I've got savings handy, there's plenty of work in the offing, and I am free! I am enjoying sleeping late and going to the gym as well as cleaning my office out of all kinds of detritus, both former-job-related and just stacked up. I spent some time recycling old manuals (stuff that had already been released) and shredding docs related to things not yet released or otherwise company confidential. I've freed a shocking amount of space: 3-1/2 years of project notebooks does build up, after all. Thank goodness for efficient shredders! I also sent one box of equipment to the company and I'm looking for the last bits for the second box, which should wrap things up.

I also filed for unemployment. That was good. Money shall be coming in in quite adequate quantities until book contracts and other things come in. And I hope to get out to Lane Community College in the next few days to talk to them about placement for a few classes next quarter.

Life's good. Life's very, very good.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lily Allen song

This is most decidedly not SFW, but it's a lovely song. Susan the Wonderchild introduced me to this yesterday morning. I like Lily Allen's voice and there's something very 70s about the tune that's quite perky.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My last week!

I was told that my layoff was being moved up to the end of October. Hurrah! A couple hours later, I found myself singing the chorus of the "Salvation Army Song" to myself, except I'd changed "S-I-N" to "I.O.M." (the initials of the operating division I was working for). I think I'm really, really happy about this.

Oh, G-L-O-R-Y to be S-A-V-E-D!
H-A-P-P-Y to be F-R-double-E!
F-R-double-E from the bonds of I.O.M.
Glory, glory, hallelujah, tra-la-la, amen!


Monday, October 26, 2009

The consequences of gay marriage

It's good to be able to say at last with certainty what the consequences of gay marriage are. This chart outlines them neatly.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some hard numbers on health care reform you haven't heard before

I ran into a young fool on Facebook lately who wanted proof that we'd save $150B/year by having everyone in this country covered with basic health care. He accused me of playing a shell game with my figures when I mentioned this with only the comment that I could post supporting detail if anyone wanted. Well, he's young and a child of privilege and probably doesn't know anyone yet who needs health care and can't afford it; moreover, I think he actually believes what he hears on Faux News.

I wrote the following over a lunch hour. Young Master Richard Cranium didn't believe that I'd done a good job of documenting all of this, saying that I should provide him with hard links to all of my info. So sorry, a lot of this requires you to get data from a variety of places and assemble it but it isn't rocket surgery. I did point him to Barbara Ehrenreich's classic and well-documented book, "Nickeled and Dimed." Alas, I haven't yet heard back from said young fool, but I don't expect to. He sounded like a dittohead. He's big on the Teabaggers, so I encourage him to go teabag as much as he likes.

What makes this post worth reading is that I don't know that anyone has actually talked much about this in a public forum yet. Certainly the people who want to scotch any kind of health care reform are not telling you about this; they're just posting all kinds of toxins about how much health care reform will cost without once mentioning how we can save a lot of money in the process.

I believe in health care for everyone. I always have and, being married to The Babe (who was a WA State judge for the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals for years and years) and learning just how your life can change forever through no fault of your own in seconds, I believe in it even harder now. I've heard stories, with the names and identifying marks rubbed off, of people who were happy, healthy, and functional, who had a tree fall on them or got kicked in the forehead and have permanently doubled vision, or were in a car accident or had a pipe blow up and ~poof!~ their lives were mangled forever after. Accidents happen.

So here's how you save lots and lots of money by having general basic health care. I'm going to focus on disability claims through the SSA, because it's a single, specific venue out of many that's easy to identify. (BTW, I whipped all of this up in a single lunch hour. Most of the info can be had through the website.)

There were about 250,000 disability claimants this past year. Half of these simply wouldn't be there if they'd gotten basic preventive health care when it would've done some good. (How do I know that? I hang out with a lot of lawyers who deal with SSA disability claims. Moreover, it's public information that can be obtained by digging around on Fed'l websites.) The average cost of servicing a disability claim is $750,000/claim over the life of the claim.

Assuming that all of these are approved for benefits, that's an annual encumbrance of $93.75B. But let's assume it's 'only' $50B worth that are approved to pay out $800/month max in bennies. Now, add to that the add'l costs of food, Section 8 housing, ER services, etc. This adds maybe another, oh, $17B and change to this. $67B. (Yeah, I've got a spreadsheet for the really detailed numbers, but if the best argument someone can come up with is claim that it should be $15B instead of $17B, they've lost already.)

Now add the cost of the lost taxes, because if you're on disability, you are not earning money that gets paid to the IRS and state. Figure maybe $.75B for that. Also be sure to add to this another $1.5B or so to represent the taxes that are paid by OTHER people on the money that these newly disabled people would have earned and pumped back into their local economy paying rent, buying food, gas, clothes, houses, school supplies, movies, and so on. The health of an economy is the function of how many times you can get the money to change hands, after all, and assuming these people would earn $30K/year on average if they could work, ($14/hour), the 70% of their money that's not going to taxes and FICA would otherwise be going to other people. That's about $69B.

Add in the annual costs of ER visits and local health clinic visits for the people ALREADY on disability--more money that's already being paid but that's not being accounted for. At maybe $500/month/person (ER visits, though probably not monthly, aren't cheap and the cost gets borne by the hospital), that comes to around $25B/year right there. Okay, we're up to $94B/year at this point that's already being spent because we don't have a national health care policy other than "Don't get sick."

What about local services? I'm talking about private assistance through local organizations, churches, and so on. Again, takes longer to gather this data, but that's easily good for another $5B/year to people who wouldn't be in this boat if they weren't disabled and they wouldn't be disabled if they'd gotten basic health care when it was just an infected splinter and not a gangrenous leg. $99B.

Another "small" cost is the cost for disability hearings, which runs $800/hearing, or only $100M/year, but another, easier way to look at it is this: SSA Administrative Law Judges cost around $150,000 a year. If you don't have but half the people applying, you don't need but half the judges (1000 judges at $150,000/year) plus the support staff of senior attorneys, case writers, case pullers, and all the rest. Figure you'll save a cool billion/year in salaries here, which brings us to the nice round figure of $100B/year. (Note: This will also put a bunch of SSA disability lawyers out of business, too, but, hell, you didn't care about the income stream for lawyers whose job it is representing disability patients anyway, didja?)

All of this is pretty easy to justify in hard numbers. You can find out a lot of this directly through the SSA website. If need be, you can do a FOIA request, but generally, this stuff is publicly available on Federal websites. You also can check on amortized costs of food stamps, Section 8 housing, and how much emergency medical care costs that is written off by the hospitals or reimbursed by the state or Federal gov'ts.

Okay, My goal had been to show $150B of savings. So far, I'm just talking about people who have applied for disability through Social Security and I've gotten to $100B/year. That's a mighty specific, narrow venue for money we spend already. I ran out of time on my lunch hour to describe the specifics for other venues, but the information is easily available; it'll just take a few hours of your time to track it down if you need the specifics. But let me pose the following as exercises for the reader:

* How many people don't apply for disability through the SSA because they're applying for benefits through a different venue, such as Worker's Comp, which is a much more populated venue?

* How many people don't apply at all who are nevertheless disabled? According to the U.S. Census Bureau's March 2008 Current Population Survey (CPS), more than 19 million working—age Americans-10.9 percent of people ages 21 to 64—have a work disability. (More information can be found here.)

* There's a powerful disincentive to reporting improvements in your medical condition because you lose your health benefits. How many people are continuing to receive disability benefits because there's a good reason to not report improvement?

* How many people are not fully disabled and don't meet the listing but are definitely working far below potential capacity, earning less money, paying fewer taxes, and--very frequently--having degrading physical health as a result?

* How many people are getting welfare/other public assistance who don't qualify for SSA disability?

* How many people aren't disabled but are simply uninsured and who soak up ER and medical benefits in a much more costly venue (cf. Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickeled and Dimed" for examples)?

I've shown in a very documentable way that in just one visible venue--Social Security disability applicants--we are already encumbering or spending $100B every year. Had I more time to write about this, I could very easily have demonstrated some of the many additional costs, but I've got to get back to work. But even if you're dealing with just these numbers here, that's $100B that I don't believe anyone is talking about when they're claiming how much all of this will cost in "new" dollars. And that is one of the biggest things I object to about these supposed think tanks that are talking about the costs: they omit the liabilities already engendered. Certainly the Republicans are not. I also believe the Congressional Budget Office is not talking about this kind of savings; they're only focused on the hard costs, which is not the complete picture. It's not in their scope to make this kind of comparison, though, so it's not like blame should attach to them as it does to the Republican naysayers.

However, there are some additional non-dollar costs that I'd like to posit for consideration as well:

* How many deaths are acceptable to you? People who aren't getting medical care die more frequently and younger than people who don't. By the thousands. (For this, start with Janet Napolitano's office.) The published figures show some 44,000 add'l deaths a year for the uninsured population.

* How much damage is there to the communitas, the sense of self and community, by adding 125,000 people to the non-working poor? Non-working poor, people on the dole with no way off it, are sand in the social gears. They don't want to be there anymore than anyone else, but it's not like there are a lot of choices. 125,000 disability applicants/year is a town about the size of Springfield, OR with nobody who works.

* Bonus question for Christians: Isn't it a little bald and unchristian to say that you are willing to throw people aside like used condoms just because they don't have enough money to afford private health insurance? Jesus didn't demand a premium, a co-pay, and an annual deductible for healing the sick.

There's a truly enormous amount of money we're already spending on health care; I just have run out of time to write about it right now. But if your argument about health care is that we really can't afford it, I think I've done a good job of demonstrating that we can afford this, easily. For example, Gov. Rick Perry--aka "Dick"--was claiming that the health care plan would cost Texas $4B/year, and was, therefore, a bad idea. Given that Texas has about 1/12th of the US population, that's $8.5B just of that $100B that I was describing. So if he got on board with that, he'd be roughly $4.5B/year to the good just on that portion alone. For a Republican, he sure don't seem to know shit about saving money.

Oh, and if your argument is all about how this promotes "socialism" (as if anyone outside of 1957 actually gave a crap), I'm pleased that you aren't going to be collecting on your Social Security, or using Medicare/Medicaid, public schools, student loans for college, public roads and utilities, or any of the banks or auto manufacturers that ever got bailed out by the Republicans in 2008 as well. Day-umn, boy, that's really putting your money where your mouth is! Nice to see you have the courage of your convictions.

Addendum: I found a resource or two for the non-believers and jackasses. The 2008 Annual SSI Report covers a considerable amount of ground. Of note should be the projections for SSI recipients in 2032, about 9.5M people. If half of those are there only because of the need for health care early on, then that's 4.75M people who could be productive, functional members of society instead of on the dole. You do the math for how much that'd cost the country.

There's also a primer on Social Security disability insurance from the AARP.

Addendum, March 28, 2010: Please see this follow-up post about Nixon's plan for universal health care.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Do want!



Monday, October 19, 2009

This cold won't go away!

I thought I was done with this damn cold last week, but no... I keep having these waves of fever on a daily basis that last for 3-4 hours.  I'm still coughing (though not sneezing at least) and generally feeling kinda crappy.  We are not amused.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Frightening quote du jour

Bonni Graham said this today. I'm not sure I want to know more.
I learned today that mice like salsa, but that it doesn't agree with them.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Try tech writing for a low-stress kinda job" (say what?)

According to CNN, tech writing is a really low stress job.  But also according to them, it's not as relaxed as being a software developer

Maaaaaaaaaathrfaaaaaaaaaaaaahkr, where do they get their information?


Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Shadetree Guarantee

Waaaay back in 1972, I got into dulcimer making thanks to Bill Bland in Tucson.  He was interviewed in the Tucson Daily-Citizen about his musical instrument store and he talked about his dulcimers using what he called "The Shadetree Guarantee:"
This won't rip, run, rag, bag, sag, wheeze, sneeze, fall out at the knees, or smell bad in hot weather.
I thought this was great schtick and committed it to memory. (And thank you, Bill, for that and for many other musical gifts in my life that keep on giving!)

Fast forward about 17 years to one of many computer swap meets, where I was selling carloads of floppy diskettes. I used the Shadetree Guarantee, rattled off at speed, as part of my schtick to drag in customers. One woman liked that and responded with this (also at speed):
Won't rust, bust, gather dust, wrinkle 'round the edges, bend, break, or tarnish; good for coughs, colds, torn assholes, corns, calluses, and bunions, and it's waterproof, too!
This cracked me up and nothing would do but that I had her write hers down. (She got me to write my schtick down for her as well.) And I believe I even was able to sell her diskettes, so it was a perfect deal.


Urgent: Friends of Lawrence Grey, aka the Grey Mouser

Lawrence Grey, known to many as the Grey Mouser, is dying of cancer. Graves let me know this sad news this afternoon on the phone. I talked to Mouser's brother, Doug Taylor, and have some additional information for everyone.

Mouser is in Encino and is dying of a particularly aggressive oral cancer. At this point, his remaining time is in days at most. His brother is there doing what he can to take care of him, help deal with requests for information, and do follow-up after Mouser dies. Doug is also Mouser's executor.

You can email Mouser at He is not able to talk anymore because of the growths in his throat and he is having some trouble breathing, but he is still reading email and Doug is reading things to him, so it should get through. The meds and the cancer are really draining Mouser's strength, though, so chances are very good that you won't get a response. But time is very short, so if there's anything you want to say to him, do it right now!

In the course of dealing with things, Doug has found that Mouser touched any number of people's lives in positive ways, and I think he'd like to be in contact with as many of us as he can. When you email, please include your contact information. You may want to email a favorite picture of Mouser as well. It's my impression that he'd be keen to know a little more about how Mouser affected your life.

Doug says that Mouser is doing okay under the circumstances. He's definitely pissed about this (yup, that's Mouser) but he's not afraid of dying and is ready for the upcoming journey. You can phone Doug at his cell phone 206-291-3033 at any time. Mouser can't talk but Doug can give you news and you can pass short messages to Mouser. (Anything longer than a sentence or two should go to email.) If Doug's not up/awake/available, he won't answer, so leave a message. Doug seems to be a real mensch and I'm sorry that I didn't get to know him before this. When he's got things wrapped up, he'll be heading back to Seattle.

Sad news indeed.

Addendum, October 12th:

This news came in from Linda Rutenberg (Caitlyn) today:

Doug Taylor, Mouser's brother, reports that Mouser passed away Sunday evening at 12:22pm. He was kept comfortable to the last and died in his home surrounded by friends and family. They were able to have time for one more game of Yahtzee and Mouser won.

Mouser wanted to be cremated and wanted an Irish wake rather than a funeral service. Doug is taking care of the rest of Mouser's affairs and will be coordinating a wake in California and in Seattle. I will be helping him in Seattle. Doug will be returning Saturday but will have to make at least one more trip to California. There's a lot of things he needs to do and, fortunately, one of Mouser's friends is helping him get through all the paperwork.  

It's too soon to have details but what I'm going to ask you to do is spread the word, gather any pictures you have and think of any stories you'd like to share at his wake.   Doug and I will be talking to Leon.   It's also not too late to donate money to Mouser's paypal account [use the email address posted above for this].  Doug has power of attorney and has access to Mouser's account.


[Note: if you don't have a PayPal account, you can probably talk to Graves, me, or someone else and we'll figure out some way to get donations to Doug for all of this.]

Another name to remember at Samhain.  Damnit.  


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Hedtke's Laws -- add'l

(If you haven't already met Hedtke's Laws 1 through 4, check them out here.)

Hedtke's Law #5: Avoid doing business with fundamentalists.
Comment: This isn't about any particular brand of fundamentalists--it's not like I'm saying "You shouldn't do business with fundie Christians, but fundie Shi'ite Muslims are okay." It's about any kind of fundamentalist: Christian, Muslim, Scientologist, whatever. They're non compos mentis by definition and it's bad form to do business with people who are crazy because you can never be sure if they understand the terms of the deal, or if they won't come to a new interpretation of what they're going to do (or more likely not do) because their God told them it was okay. Identifying if people are crazy enough to put them on the Index is not always possible before the fact, so you do what you can. If they are crazy enough, back away slowly and smile.

Hedtke's Law #6: I know it's not perfect, but it's Thursday.
I knew I already had a #6 and this is it. This was developed in response to an employee who kept banging on me about how our manuals could be better. Sadly, my writer had a hard time figuring out that what we were doing was first and foremost a technical writing job. She used to bitch me out about what she’d call my "freelancer’s attitude" and would go on at some length about how the manuals could be better if we worked on them longer. I never disagreed with her--after all, they could be better than they were, particularly if we were given time to do so--but we didn’t have the time and it was my distinct experience that the audience we were dealing with probably wouldn’t notice the difference if we did. (We were still getting a 92% “meets or exceeds customer expectations” rating from independent market surveys, so killing ourselves to make that additional 8% just didn’t seem worth it for the amount of work.)

In response to this harangue about quality, I finally developed Hedtke's Law #6, which said that whatever we might do to make the manual better, our deadlines were the most important thing. If we didn’t ship the manual on time, after all, we’d get beaten up for it. If we didn’t make our deadlines often enough, we’d all lose our jobs and then we could take consolation in being on the moral high ground as we looked for another job. Furthermore, I said, if we weren’t given the resources, the time, or the prior planning necessary to create perfection, then I wasn’t going to beat myself or the team up to solve someone else’s problem. I preferred sleeping and I wanted the team to do as much of that as they could, so I wasn’t planning on ordering everyone to spend extra time on polishing something that wasn’t going to see more than a few hundred copies sold, ever. This was not Great Art, this was just pushing writing out the door for pay.

Hedtke's Law #7: Too much rigor produces rigor mortis.
This one isn't mine, either. It was a comment in the intro to my physics textbook in college, probably about the only thing I remember from it. It was an excellent description for a good approach to teaching.


I'm sure there will be more laws as I recall them, but they don't come to mind until I actually have occasion to use them, when I write them down here so I'll remember them in the future.

For more on Hedtke's Laws, click here.

Quote du jour II

WWJD if he had an affair with the wife of one of the apostles and then bribed the apostle to shut up?
If you know, please tell John Ensign. --Denys Howard


Quote du jour

This one's nicely pointed.
"It's a good thing the Mormons have never faced discrimination or prejudice, because the way they're constantly trying to beat up on everyone else, it's hard to imagine anyone defending them should, some day, they ever find themselves on the receiving end of prejudice." --John Aravosis at AMERICAblog Gay


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

How Nonsense Sharpens the Intellect

This is a fun article with more information about how the brain works. A little nonsense makes you think better.

This does not explain Fox News. There must be a premise of functioning neural pathways as a foundation, I guess: you know, you can't think better if you can't think at all. 


Edward Gorey meets Star Trek

There's not a lot more to say. Check it out.


Monday, October 05, 2009

Carrie Fisher's "Wishful Drinking"

I'm trying to think if I can be in the Bay Area to see this somehow.  It'd be worth a try...


"No, tell me, Mr. Bones, what's a Grecian urn?"


Rewriting the Bible--because God couldn't be expected to get it right the first time!

Conservapedia reports on "The Conservative Bible Project," a translation project to rid the Bible of 'liberal bias' and that would, among other things, 'debunk the pervasive and hurtful myth that Jesus would be a political liberal today.' (I have this image of Jesus as Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck--with Ann Coulter in the role of the whore who's been savéd by them, natch--because you just know that Jesus would be some kind of fat clod who's lying to preserve The Truth.)

The premise is that they're going to start with the King James Version as their baseline (does anyone spot a First Flaw already?) and they're then going to just... translate it into contemporary English. They've eschewed the use of people with educations and backgrounds, as in this quote from the main page:
The committee in charge of updating the bestselling version, the NIV, is dominated by professors and higher-educated participants who can be expected to be liberal and feminist in outlook. As a result, the revision and replacement of the NIV will be influenced more by political correctness and other liberal distortions than by genuine examination of the oldest manuscripts. As a result of these political influences, it becomes desirable to develop a conservative translation that can serve, at a minimum, as a bulwark against the liberal manipulation of meaning in future versions.
There are also comments about the need to remove "socialist" elements from the translation and to "Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning." There's also a goal of avoiding "dumbing down" of the text so that it's at a higher than 7th-grade reading level. Funnier still is that not only have they missed their audience again, but that bullet is followed by a bullet that starts with the classic misuse: "Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms."

It's really kind of fun to see so much ignorance flying a flag, you know? It's a shame that the whole goal is to rewrite the Bible into something that's even easier to use as the baseline for fascism and stupidity. The idea that translating the text might actually require historical context is lost on these yahoos, as is, well, almost anything except their own agenda of being unhappy with anyone having an opinion they don't like.

One wonders if the dicta about killing witches and about wearing coats of two fabrics will be kept. You can just bet that the comments about homosexuality are going to be bannered somehow.

Amazing. I can see this whole website as an argument against ever teaching the peasants to read; it keeps giving them ideas above their station.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hedtke's Laws

It occurs to me that I've quoted these frequently but never codified them. So here are my rules, or at least the ones I can remember on the fly. There are more, but I'm not recalling them right off the bat... which is probably as good a reason as any to codify them as anything.  :)

Hedtke's Law: Something that doesn't offend somebody couldn't possibly interest anybody.

Comments: "Something" in this case can be almost anything: a person, an endeavor, an idea, a change to the way things are being done. I also must give credit where credit is due: I didn't come up with this, I merely expropriated it. My old friend Allyn Wolfe was actually responsible for this in an issue of Red Garters, the house organ of the NWC, in 1977. However, I have carried this forward and it's now been adopted (as Hedtke's Law) as an operating principle for the STC's Board of Directors. (I have more on the proper attribution of Hedtke's Law here.)

Hedtke's Law #2: If a job is not worth doing at all, it is certainly not worth doing well.

Hedtke's Law #3: Everything's funnier after midnight.

Hedtke's Law #4: All other things being equal, it will always cost more.

I don't have a lot more to say about this one except that things will always be more expensive than you thought. 

Hedtke's Laws #5, #6, #7, and #8 will be posted eventually when I recall them.  Probably next time I find myself spouting them, actually. (Addendum: I've now got Hedtke's Laws 5-7 up here.) Hedtke's Law #8, Hedtke's Law #9, and Hedtke's Law #10 are also posted, as is Hedtke's Law in Latin.

Since I am mentioning rules, I should also say that I am very fond of Magid's Law, which I named but did not create. It's named after one of founders of the Flying Karamazov Brothers, Paul Magid (who I had the pleasure of hanging out with at a party along with the other Karamazovs in 1977 after a Ren Faire thingie in Chico, CA). Paul said this during their Broadway Show in the early 80s and it's been a Deep and Profound Truth for project planning for me ever since:
It doesn't matter how you get there if you don't know where you're going.
I've quoted this in several of my books and, though I haven't had occasion to talk to Paul myself, a mutual friend did let him know before the first instance and said that he was fine with me naming it after him.

Addendum, July 5, 2010: I had occasion to chat with Paul Magid about this after a presentation he gave about the history of the Karamazovs at the Oregon Country Fair. That was nice!

For more on Hedtke's Laws, click here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The 6 stages of UI design review

From Bonni Graham:

The 6 stages of UI design review (with apologies to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross):

  1. Fake cheer ("Welcome, everyone!")
  2. Denial ("I can't hear your stupid changes. La la la la la.")
  3. Anger ("What I did is better!")
  4. Justification ("This is why it's better. Love me!")
  5. Grudging acceptance ("OK, maybe it's not better and your idea's not totally stupid")
  6. Adoption ("I love this idea!")

Or maybe this is just me....


Quote du jour

"Modern Art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves that they have a better idea." - John Ciardi


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Star Wars Tech Support

Someone has to do tech support no matter where you are. Including the Death Star.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

10 most dangerous plants in the world

This is a cool article from Popular Mechanics on the 10 most dangerous plants in the world.  The pictures are very good, too. 


Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy birthday, Dr. Johnson!

Today is the 300th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Samuel Johnson, possibly the most important man to the English language who ever lived.

Dr. Johnson's most notable accomplishment among dozens is the creation of the the benchmark English dictionary. This was not the first English dictionary by any means, but it was so profoundly superior to the ones that had come before it, that it was a benchmark for English dictionaries until the first Oxford English Dictionary appeared 173 years later. What set Dr. Johnson's dictionary apart from earlier dictionaries was the size--the first edition of the dictionary contained a 42,773 word list, which was equaled by only one other previous work--and Johnson's use of 114,000 literary quotations to illustrate the the meanings and use of the words featured. Most importantly, though, his dictionary described English as it was used rather than merely as a lexicon of technical or obscure terms.

Dr. Johnson was a prolific writer, an exceptional critic, an essayist, and a biographer. My favorite quote has to do the with business of writing, as follows:
No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.


Cheese or font?

The name of this game, Cheese or font?, reminds me a lot of the SNL game show, "¿Qué es más macho?" from decades ago. ("¿Qué es más macho? ¿Fernando Lamas o Ricardo Montalban?" "¿Fernando Lamas?" "No, Fernando Lamas is macho, si, pero Ricardo Montalban es muy macho.")


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Flame on!

Someone has built the Pyro 2.2, a wrist-mounted flamethrower.

I realize that this makes you think immediately of the potential for a Darwin Award--I sure was thinking about that--but watch the video.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Being a hack

Donna Barr posted a few things on Facebook recently about being a hack, which she says is a good thing. I tend to agree. Work is work, after all, and 99% of what we all do is not Great Art or Great Literature, as the case may be.

Decades ago, Harlan Ellison wrote the introduction to a short story in a collection of short stories. He said that he'd hated the character, hated the story, hated the resolution, and sold it to a magazine he didn't normally do business with... but he made 3x as much money for this as he would've otherwise. His final paragraph of this brief exposition was "Moral of the story: I may prostitute my art, but at least I'm not a cheap whore."

John Ciardi once wrote:
"Dear Virginia:
See the poet.
The poet is fat.
The poet is fifty.
The poet is making a living."

There is no sin in hackwork. It pays the bills. Sometimes, rather handsomely.


A tale of bad security

Back in 1987, I was working at a branch of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. The FHLBB was an organization (now defunct) described to me when I was there as holding roughly the same place w/r/t US savings and loans as the Federal Reserve did for US banks. [Insert half a dozen jokes that write themselves here.]

One of the things the 12 FHLBB branches did was to gather all the information on mortgage paper from their constituent S&Ls and transmit it at the same time every day to the mainframe in DC. This was done with a 2400-baud modem, which was a perfectly reasonable way to transmit data in 1987. What concerned me was that this was done with no data compression, no encryption, nothing. It was a clear, uncompressed flat text file with info on hundreds of millions of dollars of mortgage paper every day. PC-based compression and encryption was in its infancy back then--PKZip 2.0 was kind of the standard for this at that point--but that would've been a heckuva lot better than the nothing they were doing. Even worse, there wasn't anything that prevented someone from logging into the mainframe themselves. The password for logging in was "superman" and had been unchanged for over 2 years.

I figured I'd talk to the DP manager and suggest there was a problem. I don't recall his name, but he was a forgettably vague man who looked baffled by the things going on around him. I said that there was a problem with transmitting all this data at the same time every day in the clear on an unsecured line. "I see...." he said, looking confused. "Why would that be a problem?"

"Well," I explained, "if someone wanted to, they could monitor the data flow and get the mortgage numbers a month before they're released by the Fed and know what's coming. They could even go so far as to inject their own phony data stream into the system and artificially inflate or deflate the numbers by adding bogus mortgage paper numbers of their own."

"I see," he said again, slower. There was a slight pause and I could tell he was really trying to keep up with this but he was in way over his head already. "Why would they want to do that?" he finally asked.

"Well," I said (thinking "The natives really can understand you; they're just pretending they don't to be difficult, but if you keep speaking louder and slower, it should get through eventually!"), "if they inject their own numbers, they'll be able to affect the movement of interest rates on mortgage paper and then make money by making investments that reflect their advance knowledge of how the market is going to move."

"I... see...." he said again. I was dreading what he was going to say next, but sure enough, there it was: "Why would they want to do that?"

"It'd be a really bad idea!" I said. (You just can't help some people.) "You should change the password regularly to something secure, consider changing the time you transmit data, and maybe go for a secure line." He clearly had no understanding about why he needed to do any of this, but he said he'd take care of this. Okay, fine.

A few days later, I asked the guy who did the data transfer if he'd changed the password. "Yes," he said proudly, "I changed it to 'batman'."

The best you can hope for some people is that they'll just forget to breathe some day, y'know?


Monday, September 14, 2009

National Punctuation Day!

There's not a lot more to say about this.  Go check out the activities for National Punctuation Day on September 24th: bake the breads, do the educational activities, celebrate your colons! 


I'm not the only person who thinks Dan Brown's a horse's petoot

I read three of Dan Brown's other books and was thoroughly disgusted. Any book where I can predict the heavy-handed deus ex machina the author's going to use in the antepenultimate chapter to get himself out of the corner he's written himself into is pretty poor. ("Hey, Dan, I really like this new book. Especially the part where everyone gets killed by a bus!")

Having read three books that were basically the same book and a bad book to boot, I had no burning desire to read The Da Vinci Code, nor could I even care: "Jesus was married??!?" gasp! "The Vatican has been responsible for sleazy behavior and hidden the truth at times?!?!?" Quelle horror!! I couldn't be impressed nor interested nor shocked. To quote Elisabeth Knottingham, my apathy was palpable.

BTW, there are many things that Dan Brown is no good at that contribute to his overall suckiness. One of them is cryptography, which is kind of a pity for him because it's the foundation of a lot of his plot. (He's really got just the one.) He's also a duffer when it comes to non-English languages. Actually, both links address both topics to an extent; you'll enjoy them unless you think Dan Brown actually can write, in which case, get yourself to a library and read something good so you understand why he's so bad.

So, with this really crappy attitude about Dan Brown, I was pleased to discover that I'm not the only person who finds Dan Brown tedious and hackneyed: Slate magazine just published the Dan Brown Plot Generator, with which you can generate the Dan Brown book plot of your choice. And it'll be at least as good as anything he's ever written.

Here, for example, is a plot for a new Robert Langdon book involving Philadelphia and Major League Baseball:

A long-forgotten cipher whose key is somewhere in Philadelphia.
A murderous cult determined to protect it.
A frantic race to uncover Major League Baseball's darkest secret.

The Hallowed Enigma
by Dan Brown

When renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to the Liberty Bell to analyze a mysterious ancient script—drawn on a calling card next to the disemboweled corpse of the head docent—he discovers evidence of the unthinkable: the resurgence of the ancient cult of the Auxofori, a secret branch of Major League Baseball that has surfaced from the shadows to carry out its legendary vendetta against its mortal enemy, the Vatican.

Langdon's worst fears are confirmed when a messenger from the Auxofori appears at Citizen's Bank Park to deliver a grim ultimatum: Deposit $1 billion in Major League Baseball's off-shore bank accounts or the exclusive clothier of the Swiss Guards will be bankrupted. Racing against the clock, Langdon joins forces with the statuesque and quick-witted daughter of the murdered docent in a desperate bid to crack the code that will reveal the cult's secret plan.

Embarking on a frantic hunt, Langdon and his companion follow a 1100-year-old trail through Philadelphia's most venerable buildings and sacred libraries, pursued by a peg-legged assassin the cult has sent to thwart them. What they discover threatens to expose a conspiracy that goes all the way back to Babe Ruth and the very founding of Major League Baseball.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

President's Park, Williamsburg, VA

The Babe was out romping around in her excursion to DC and got to drive through part of Virginia. The Babe said that she even drove by the exit to Ft. Belvoir (my birthplace) but, she said, the large sign commemorating the event must've blown down.  Oh, well, budget cuts....

One of the places she drove through was Williamsburg, which is very pretty as is all of Virginia. But not all of Williamsburg is as pretty as you might think: there was one place she drove by that she had to tell me about: President's Park. President's Park is a park near the freeway that is dedicated to the presidents.  There are 10' tall busts of all the presidents there with a small sign with a few sentences about the president in front of each statue. You can wander around and look at all of them and be edified and inspired. 

It's actually a trifle silly. It's sillier still because they want $12.75/adults for admission, which seems a mite steep to me, but that's just me. Take a look at the website and see what you think. 


Bad cakes

Cake Wrecks is the latest silly thing.  Yes, she's got a book of bad cakes.  It's fun and tacky.  


My new favorite superhero!

Created by Natalie Dee.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Stupid British sharks! :)

From a BBC comedy show. I really like the sharks.


A doughnut mecca in Portland

Patricia pointed out something on a listing on Facebook, that I live not far from Voodoo Doughnut in Portland. This is a place that has incredible doughnuts including, she pointed out, a bacon maple bar. Personally, I'd call this a Crime Against Nature except for the fact that it just sounds so right. :)
Voodoo Doughnuts offers all the usuals in the way of doughnuts, but they also offer some specialties that look promising. I'm keen to try their apple fritter that's 'as big as your head'.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rossini's "Cat's Duet"

This will make up for the general NSFW-ness of the previous post. Now, I have to admit that I'd never heard of this piece before, but it's charming! The following is from a concert in Seoul, Korea, Nov 30, 1996, of Les Petits Chanteurs a la Croix de Bois.

Lest you think that this is a complete shuck, here are two divas, Montserrat Caballé and Concha Velasco, singing this on Italian television in 1990. The boys do a better job IMO.


Tasteless, tasteless, tasteless, and totally NSFW

Brian sent this. It's a slide show of 18 shirt slogans that will not get you laid. I can really identify with shirt #3, although the arrow could just as easily point straight up, too. (Hey, I'm a guy! I recognize that both options are completely true.)  

This is fairly tasteless stuff, hence the premise of the slide show. Don't say I didn't warn you.  


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A poem from Leigh Ann Hussey

I was just looking for an article that I wrote in 1986 in a pile of old papers and I found an amazing poem by Leigh Ann Hussey.

Leigh Ann Hussey was an amazingly good musician who died in a motorcycle accident in May 2006. I knew her through various circles for a long time before that. When she was in Seattle in 1987 or so, she spouted one of her poems off and I was enchanted and asked her to write it down for me, which she did, and signed it.
I will arise arise and go now,
And get my coffee cup
And some strong coffee pour there
With cream and sugar laced—
Nine cupfuls will I make there
When I have gotten up
And drink them all
Ere the world I face.

I will arise and go now,
For always, night and day,
I hear the coffee boiling
With gurgles in the pot
When I lie beneath the covers
Or in the twilight grey,
I bless the world
When my brew is hot.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Making a buck off of gullibility, part XVIII

Hey, here's the funny website du jour: Eternal Earth-Bound Pets. When you're Raptured, what becomes of your pets left behind on Earth? This group will take care of them for a fee.

From the website's opening page:
You've committed your life to Jesus. You know you're saved. But when the Rapture comes what's to become of your loving pets who are left behind? Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you've received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.
Damn, they've already got someone covering Oregon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Clippy finally messes with the wrong Word doc

About gahdamn time....

Monday, August 17, 2009

The joy of having kids--I never knew until now

I've been following an online friend's blog this year. She had a stillborn son and she and her family are putting their lives back together. It's been worse than anything she could've imagined or ever wanted to imagine. I can pick up a tiny fraction of what she's going through and that's quite hard enough, thank you.

They're thinking seriously of trying again and she is wondering about any number of things, not the least of which is the sense of risk. I just posted something that I realized I wanted to post here, too, because part of my reply made me realize how much I've learned in the last 9 years with The Babe's three kids, who I love and am enormously proud of.

Children are always a risk, no matter what the age. And it never gets easier. I've learned that through being a stepfather. I worry about them all, even my 31-yo oldest daughter, no matter what, no matter when. But I've also discovered, much to my surprise, that it's all worth the risk, too. And that's something I never knew until I had kids to love of my own.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Blessed Virgin Mary makes an ironic appearance

(Not really SFW, but very, very funny.)

The Friendly Atheist has this article about the appearance of the BVM in an ironic location. But, hell, if Jesus can appear in tortillas and mildew stains, the BVM can appear in... uh...

Be sure to read the comments, which are also very funny.


Friday, August 14, 2009

What a great t-shirt!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dear dogs and cats....

Dear Dogs and Cats:
  • When I say "Move!" it means to go someplace else, not just to switch positions with each other so there are still two of you in the way.
  • The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food.
  • The other dishes are mine and contain my food.
  • Please note: placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.
  • The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack.
  • Beating me to the bottom is not the object.
  • Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.
  • I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-sized bed.
  • I am very sorry about this.
  • Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort.
  • Dogs and cats actually curl up in a ball when they sleep.
  • It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible.
  • I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.
  • For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom.
  • If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob, or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open.
  • I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years; canine or feline attendance is not mandatory.
  • The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt! I cannot stress this enough.
To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:

  1. They live here. You don't.
  2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That's why they call it 'fur'niture.)
  3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
  4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours, and doesn't speak clearly.


Pornstar or Potato?

An exciting game and moderately SFW, too! No parts are actually exposed.

Pornstar Or Potato Game

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Watch out for this man! (not kidding)

If you are in the greater Seattle area, you should keep an eye out for this man. He's charming, he's fascinating, and he's got an impressive and colorful history. I know him and a number of his victims personally. I'm pleased to see that people are adding up the stories about him.

It's looking like a lot of his chickens are finally coming home to roost, but I'm sorry that he's still running around loose. Oh, well, not forever.


Monday, August 10, 2009

A good quote to start the week with

It's late and I'm up working on manuals. I have Robert Schimmel on in the background: he's a comedian I'm very fond of who survived cancer and major life upheaval and is back performing. He's awfully funny and very real.

He closed his show with this lovely quote: "Life is not about learning to survive the storm. Life is about learning to dance in the rain."

Sunday, August 09, 2009

No, how hot has it REALLY been?

(More odd stuff at Va-Va-Voom.)

The crappy taxidermy photo blog




Be sure to check out the other blog, too, which has a rather "Mondo Cane" feel to it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Stupid joke du mois

This is the stupid joke of the month. You've been warned.

There was a little boy by the name of Billy. Billy was an ordinary little boy who did ordinary little boy things, like playing, eating, bathing, destroying things, and going to school. One day, when Billy went down to the bus stop to meet the bus to go to school, he found all of his friends huddled around in a little group, talking about the Purple Wombat.

Being a little boy, Billy was curious. So he asked them, "What's the Purple Wombat?"

"You don't know what the Purple Wombat is?" the children exclaimed disgustedly. For the rest of the morning, they would not go near Billy, always standing far away and staring at him. Then the bus came. Billy, confused, got on the bus along with the rest of the children.

"Hey, Mister Bus Driver!" one of the chldren shouted. "Billy doesn't know what the Purple Wombat is!"

The bus driver turned around abruptly. "You don't know what the Purple Wombat is?" he said in disbelief. He ordered Billy to sit in the very back of the bus, all by himself.

Eventually, they got to school, and Billy got off the bus and went to class. Class proceeded normally; the students did the pledge of allegiance and worked on their multiplication tables for a while. Then the teacher led them into a unit on geography. Billy was not really paying attention, but he heard the teacher mention something about the Purple Wombat.

Billy's hand shot up, and, when the teacher called on him, Billy asked, "Teacher, what's the Purple Wombat?"

"You don't know what the Purple Wombat is?" the teacher cried in alarm, "Get yourself to the principal's office right now, young man. No, no buts -- march!"

So Billy headed down the long, dark, frightening hallway to the principal's office. He slowly opened the large, heavy door, and timidly entered the room behind it. There, at a large, imposing desk, sat the principal. The principal was a hulking man, balding, with a thin mustache. He spoke in a deep baritone voice. He was enough to frighten little boys like Billy who had been sent to his office almost to tears.

"Well, Billy," he began slowly. "What seems to be the problem?"

"Mr. Principal, I just don't know what's going on today. Everyone's been acting weird, and they're all treating me really badly. Like teacher just sent me to you and stuff."

"Now, Billy, I'm here to help you. I'm the princi-Pal, after all. Heh heh. Can you tell me why everyone's acting so strangely?"

"It's because I don't know what some stupid Purple Wombat is."

"What? You don't know what the Purple Wombat is? That's it. I am calling your mother, young man. Consider yourself suspended."

The principal threw Billy out of his office and told him to go home. Billy, crying, began the long walk home. When he got there, his mother was standing in the doorway waiting for him.

"Billy!" she called, sobbing, "I was so worried about you! What happened?"

"Mom," Billy cried, "Everyone was being mean to me and I had to sit in the back of the bus all by myself and the teacher sent me to the principal's office and the principal suspended me, all because I don't know what the Purple Wombat is!"

"What? You don't know what the Purple Wombat is?" Billy's mother shrieked. "Go to your room this minute. Go! Just wait until your father gets home!"

So Billy marched up the stairs and into his room. He collapsed on the bed, crying. After some amount of time, he heard a car pull in and some doors shutting. His father was home. He could hear his parents talking downstairs but didn't know what they were saying. Then he heard footsteps coming up the stairs, and his door opened.

"Billy," his father began in that lecturing-father tone, "Your mother says you've been acting badly lately. Would you like to tell me what you've done?"

"Dad, I haven't done anything! I just don't know what the Purple Wombat is!"

"You...don't know what the Purple Wombat is. Well, in that case, you can just stay in this room all night, mister. And forget about dinner!"

Billy's father slammed the door and stormed off. Billy collapsed on his bed, crying his eyes out. He spent the next several hours that way -- lying there, crying, wishing he would wake up.

Then, in the middle of the night, he heard a voice. It said: "Billy. I am the Purple Wombat, Billy."

Billy sat up with a start. He looked around the room, trying to find the source of the voice, but he could not.

"Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. Find me, Billy."

It was coming from out the window. So Billy got up, put his shoes on, opened the window, and climbed out on to the roof.

"Billy. I am the Purple Wombat."

Billy jumped down off the roof and followed the voice down the road. He got to the edge of a wood.

"Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. Follow me, Billy."

The voice was coming from inside the wood. It was very dark and very frightening, but Billy didn't care. He had to find out what the Purple Wombat was. So, bravely, he entered the wood.

"Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. Keep going, Billy."

Billy kept going into the wood. He could hardly see anything, and he kept falling down and walking into things and hurting himself. But he kept going, driven by a need to find this enigma that kept calling his name.

"Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. This way, Billy."

Eventually, Billy emerged from the wood. He was on the shore of the town lake.

"Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. I'm out here, Billy."

It was coming from out across the lake. Billy got one of the small rowboats from the dock, untied it, and rowed out. Since he was only a small boy, it was very difficult. But he had to find out what the Purple Wombat was.

"Billy. I am the Purple Wombat. Row, Billy."

The voice was coming from across the lake. Billy doubled his effort, and the boat began to move a little faster. When he was about half way across the lake, he heard: "Billy, I am the Purple Wombat. I'm up here, Billy."

It was coming from directly above him. Billy stopped rowing and stood up to look for it. The boat tipped over, dumping him in the lake. Billy didn't know how to swim, so he drowned.

Moral: Don't stand up in a boat.

How to write a GOOD complaint letter

I got this from Sheilagh, an old friend of mine, who said "This came from the July 2009 edition of the Chippewa Pages newspaper from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. I was trying to do a dramatic reading for my Mom and sister and was laughing so hard I couldn't finish."


"This is an actual letter from an Austin woman sent to Proctor and Gamble regarding their feminine products. She really gets rolling after the first paragraph. It's PC Magazine's 2007 editor's choice for best web mail award-winning letter."
Dear Mr Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your 'Always' maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the Leak Guard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos for being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from 'the curse'? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and be transformed into what my husband likes to call 'an inbred hillbilly with knife skills'. Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers' monthly visits from 'Aunt Flo'. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants... Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: "Have a Happy Period".

Are you flipping kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable?

Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything 'happy' about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.
For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi-pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like 'Put down the Hammer' or 'Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong', or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flexi-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending crap. And that's a promise I will keep. Always.


Wendi Aarons


Guess what? Gay "therapy" doesn't work!

Well, it seems that, after examining 49 years of evidence, that a panel of the American Psychological Association says that therapy to "change" from gay to straight doesn't work. (Boy howdy, now there's a surprise, eh?)

This article says that the panel voted 125-to-4 that this kind of change is unlikely and attempts to enforce this kind of change lead to depression and suicidal tendencies. As an alternative, for patients who are having problems reconciling their sexual orientation and their religious faith, therapists are being urged to consider such things as recommending switching churches.

This has been a long time in coming, but it's really nice that the religion is finally being regarded as the choice and the sexual orientation as the immovable object.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Disaster Preparedness

The latest book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Disaster Preparedness," is out at last. It's everything you need to know about how to survive a disaster, any disaster. There's info on such things as creating a Go-Pak, emergency shelters, sheltering in place, dealing with kids, seniors, and pets, and working with insurance companies and putting your life together again afterwards.

There are chapters dealing with specific disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, blizzards, pandemics (with a great deal of information about H1N1 specifically), and chemical spills, but the most important message of the book is that all disasters are the same. Disasters disrupt the processes of your life and, while there are specific preparation issues with, say, hurricanes versus wildfires versus earthquakes, all of them disrupt your life and all of them require many of the same preparations: you have to have a Go-Pak, you have to have 72 hours of food and water and a couple weeks of meds, and so on.

In addition to the information on home disaster preparedness, there's a lot of information on how businesses can prepare for disasters and recover from them. You'll see how to create an effective disaster plan and find out how to get your employees to return to the office and help maintain your business.

Go buy copies for everyone you know!


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Heinlein quote worth repeating

Everyone's heard Heinlein quotes. When we were younger, we may have even quoted them with a straight face. Frankly, they're a little embarrassing because you tend to sound like a teenage boy when you say them.

However, I read today a really first-rate Heinlein quote that I'm happy to repeat:
The best sentence in the English language starts
"Pay to the order of...."


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"Hello, Kitty" Hell

Okay, there are a lot of strange things in this world, many of which I like. One of these things is Sanrio "Hello, Kitty" stuff. Okay, I'm a sucker for cute and "Hello, Kitty" is all about cute, of course. It's just really charming and I like seeing little children with "Hello, Kitty" dolls.

However, Sanrio has been willing to license the "Hello, Kitty" image to anyone that wants it. This may not sound like a bad thing for someone who enjoys it, but I'd like to emphasize that they're willing to license the image to anyone that wants it. ANYONE.

There's a guy married to a "Hello, Kitty" fan who's been collecting info on everything he can find with a "Hello, Kitty" logo on it, either licensed or just the image as a reminder. His site is "Hello, Kitty" Hell and it takes this to a level I never would've suspected could happen.

Things you can see that have the "Hello, Kitty" image include:
And you can keep all of this in a Hello Kitty House.

Take your glucose meds and be careful of sugar overload and go romp around the site.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Simon's Cat

Simon's Cat is a series of short animations made by someone who knows cats very well. The latest, Fly Cat, is very good.


Saturday, August 01, 2009

6 Things That Shouldn't Explode, But Did Anyway

This is a delightful article from, a site I clearly have to follow more closely. It's all about things that shouldn't have exploded but did. (Note: the characters in the poster at the end of the first item translate to "You said you loved me." It adds a lot to the picture. :) )