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Archive for June, 2012

Making New Friends.

Had to drive to a nearby city – roughly 35 miles – for work today.  On the way I got nearly sideswiped but made some friends.  They waved at me as I honked, I waved at them.  The guy motioned me off to the side of the road so we could talk about current events.  I declined since I was in a hurry to meet with a vendor.  They first got in front of me to clear the way through traffic, then got behind me to make sure no one tailgated me, then got in front again, then in the rear – all the while keeping other cars away from mine on every side.

We traveled together clear on out to the halfway point and then he and his three buddies waved one last time as they pulled off the highway.  Sure is something to run into such friendly people now and then.

Hmmm.  I just considered, they might have been flipping me off, which would put a whole different spin on things.

And I may have inadvertently flipped them off, too.  That might have had an effect on the landscape, too.

****

Update:  Lemurita loved shooting the bow for the first time and managed to stick two knives perfectly in the knife-throwing part of the day.  Not bad at all for her first day.  Not bad at all.  Saturday was the perfect Father’s Day.

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Pre-Daddy Days

“Pre-Daddy Days” means “Before Father’s Day”.

A terrific Event happened tonight.  It was like Father’s Day came a few days early.

Lemurita is plagued with insomnia like I am.  She got up a half hour ago and came into the kitchen where Cruel Wife and I were talking about meeting up with Spaced Diode tomorrow for a BBQ.

Earlier in the evening I ran across CW’s throwing knives tucked into a hidey spot and also went and gathered up mine.

I asked CW if it would be ok to mention them to Lemurita and she said yes.

So I said “Lemurita, would you like to learn how to throw knives at Spaced Diode’s house tomorrow?”

As the idea of what I was saying dawned on her, her smile got wider… and wider… and wider… and her eyes glittered… and I knew, beyond even a smidgeon of a doubt, that Lemurita shared my genes and quite possibly Cruel Wife’s, too.

I have other toys of that nature that I brought out and demonstrated for her.  Picture a girl with a terribly wide, almost impossibly wide, foolish grin on her face while seeing her ambidextrous daddy flip knives around.  I basked in her delight.

She said “Would you feel it if you stabbed your arm?”

I looked at her with my most genuine look of confusion.

“Your arm – the one that is messed up.”

(poking myself hard in the arm multiple times with the knife I was holding)

“You mean like this?”

She took a step back, her eyes widening and said “Yeah.”

“No, not really.”

“How about if you cut it?”

“No, and I probably wouldn’t know if I burned it, either.”

“Whoa.”

“Well, the coolness of it really isn’t worth the price I paid…”

Indulge me in mentioning the Event.  It was different, it was fun, and I will cease to be a superdad in her eyes soon enough.

By the time I got her herded off to bed she managed to wheedle me into bringing my childhood longbow with us so she could begin learning archery as well.

I may be superdad in her eyes for a while yet, but she’s definitely my kryptonite and probably always will be except on the topics of dating and the merits of 10mm and .40 cal handguns over 9mm’s.

I growled at her “Be off with ye, foul worm, to bed!”

“G’night dad!”

****

Kids and wives… if you really really REALLY love your dad/husband, you will run right out and get the makings for this (adjust ingredients to his taste).  Somewhere after capping it you wrap it up in paper and foil and press the thing under roughly 30 tons of weights until it is nice and flat.  I think of it as being like a Cuban, only different.

I have no idea where it came from other than a much larger picture set was embedded in an e:mail to me today.  It looks awesome.

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Russia sends attack choppers to Syria.

AP – The Obama administration said Tuesday that Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and warned that the Arab country’s 15-month conflict could become even deadlier.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. was “concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria.”

In a test of wills between Putin and Obama I see Putin outclassing our president by a huge margin.  The only way O will have enough balls to go head to head with Putin is if Hillary loans him her set.

****

Update:  It now appears to be turning into a pushy-pushy name-calling match.  Each side swears that they wouldn’t ever never supply weapons to any faction in Syria.  MMM-mmm, yeah I guess I buy that.

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Nothing special.

This is probably one of the more inspirational things you could read.  A teacher that tells the students that they are NOT special.  They have to DO excellent to BE excellent. Students may not have gotten a warm fuzzy tummy rub but they got what they needed to hear – let’s hope they heard it.

Wellesley High School (Wellesley, MA) English teacher David McCullough, Jr.’s faculty speech to the Class of 2012:

Dr. Wong, Dr. Keough, Mrs. Novogroski, Ms. Curran, members of the board of education, family and friends of the graduates, ladies and gentlemen of the Wellesley High School class of 2012, for the privilege of speaking to you this afternoon, I am honored and grateful.  Thank you.            So here we are… commencement… life’s great forward-looking ceremony.  (And don’t say, “What about weddings?”  Weddings are one-sided and insufficiently effective.  Weddings are bride-centric pageantry.  Other than conceding to a list of unreasonable demands, the groom just stands there.  No stately, hey-everybody-look-at-me procession.  No being given away.  No identity-changing pronouncement.  And can you imagine a television show dedicated to watching guys try on tuxedos?  Their fathers sitting there misty-eyed with joy and disbelief, their brothers lurking in the corner muttering with envy.  Left to men, weddings would be, after limits-testing procrastination, spontaneous, almost inadvertent… during halftime… on the way to the refrigerator.  And then there’s the frequency of failure: statistics tell us half of you will get divorced.  A winning percentage like that’ll get you last place in the American League East.  The Baltimore Orioles do better than weddings.)

            But this ceremony… commencement… a commencement works every time.  From this day forward… truly… in sickness and in health, through financial fiascos, through midlife crises and passably attractive sales reps at trade shows in Cincinnati, through diminishing tolerance for annoyingness, through every difference, irreconcilable and otherwise, you will stay forever graduated from high school, you and your diploma as one, ‘til death do you part.

            No, commencement is life’s great ceremonial beginning, with its own attendant and highly appropriate symbolism.  Fitting, for example, for this auspicious rite of passage, is where we find ourselves this afternoon, the venue.  Normally, I avoid clichés like the plague, wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole, but here we are on a literal level playing field.  That matters.  That says something.  And your ceremonial costume… shapeless, uniform, one-size-fits-all.  Whether male or female, tall or short, scholar or slacker, spray-tanned prom queen or intergalactic X-Box assassin, each of you is dressed, you’ll notice, exactly the same.  And your diploma… but for your name, exactly the same.

            All of this is as it should be, because none of you is special.

            You are not special.  You are not exceptional.

            Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special. 

            Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped.  Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again.  You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored.  You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie.  Yes, you have.  And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs.  Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet.  Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman!  And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building…

            But do not get the idea you’re anything special.  Because you’re not.

            The empirical evidence is everywhere, numbers even an English teacher can’t ignore.  Newton, Natick, Nee… I am allowed to say Needham, yes? …that has to be two thousand high school graduates right there, give or take, and that’s just the neighborhood Ns.  Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools.  That’s 37,000 valedictorians… 37,000 class presidents… 92,000 harmonizing altos… 340,000 swaggering jocks… 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs.  But why limit ourselves to high school?  After all, you’re leaving it.  So think about this: even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.  Imagine standing somewhere over there on Washington Street on Marathon Monday and watching sixty-eight hundred yous go running by.  And consider for a moment the bigger picture: your planet, I’ll remind you, is not the center of its solar system, your solar system is not the center of its galaxy, your galaxy is not the center of the universe.  In fact, astrophysicists assure us the universe has no center; therefore, you cannot be it.  Neither can Donald Trump… which someone should tell him… although that hair is quite a phenomenon.

            “But, Dave,” you cry, “Walt Whitman tells me I’m my own version of perfection!  Epictetus tells me I have the spark of Zeus!”  And I don’t disagree.  So that makes 6.8 billion examples of perfection, 6.8 billion sparks of Zeus.  You see, if everyone is special, then no one is.  If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless.  In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another–which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement.  We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole.  No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it…  Now it’s “So what does this get me?”  As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans.  It’s an epidemic — and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune… one of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School… where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the midlevel curriculum is called Advanced College Placement.  And I hope you caught me when I said “one of the best.”  I said “one of the best” so we can feel better about ourselves, so we can bask in a little easy distinction, however vague and unverifiable, and count ourselves among the elite, whoever they might be, and enjoy a perceived leg up on the perceived competition.  But the phrase defies logic.  By definition there can be only one best.  You’re it or you’re not.

            If you’ve learned anything in your years here I hope it’s that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning.  You’ve learned, too, I hope, as Sophocles assured us, that wisdom is the chief element of happiness.  (Second is ice cream…  just an fyi)  I also hope you’ve learned enough to recognize how little you know… how little you know now… at the moment… for today is just the beginning.  It’s where you go from here that matters.

            As you commence, then, and before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance.  Don’t bother with work you don’t believe in any more than you would a spouse you’re not crazy about, lest you too find yourself on the wrong side of a Baltimore Orioles comparison.  Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction.  Be worthy of your advantages.  And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect.  Read as a nourishing staple of life.  Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it.  Dream big.  Work hard.  Think for yourself.  Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might.  And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer; and as surely as there are commencements there are cessations, and you’ll be in no condition to enjoy the ceremony attendant to that eventuality no matter how delightful the afternoon.

            The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer.  You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness–quite an active verb, “pursuit”–which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on Youtube.  The first President Roosevelt, the old rough rider, advocated the strenuous life.  Mr. Thoreau wanted to drive life into a corner, to live deep and suck out all the marrow.  The poet Mary Oliver tells us to row, row into the swirl and roil.  Locally, someone… I forget who… from time to time encourages young scholars to carpe the heck out of the diem.  The point is the same: get busy, have at it.  Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you.  Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands.  (Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression–because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life.  Rather than You Only Live Once, it should be You Live Only Once… but because YLOO doesn’t have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn’t matter.)

            None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence.  Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct.  It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things.  Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view.  Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.  Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly.  Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them.  And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.  The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.

            Because everyone is.

            Congratulations.  Good luck.  Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.

                                                                                    David McCullough

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D-Day.

The first and primary reason for this post is D-Day.  Gotta remember it.  Never forget it.

I swear my kids will watch all of Band of Brothers and Pvt. Ryan before they leave home to enter the real world.  By God, theywill understand what our Armed Forces have done and still do for their liberty and that the US is a positive influence on the world.

We can argue about the license taken with BoB but if you want pure facts, the history books are there.  But if you want to show someone the flavor, as much as one can without living it, watch the documentaries and the movies that are everywhere.

Brings us to the other point… our Beloved Leader, also the CiC of our military, stiffed D-Day for a third year.  Not a peep.  The bastard.  And Michelle O. is asking on his behalf for another term so they can finish what they started.

My blood runs cold.

I’m going to take a stab and assume that our President and First Lady’s caregivers were not much on honoring those who have honored us through their sacrifices.

****

Today is also D-Day in another way.  How about as in “Stuff a Duck Day”?

California is banning foie gras.  If you don’t know what it is, it is a cruel process by which they force feed a duck vast amounts of corn so it can grow nice tasty yummy fatty liver(s).  If you don’t know where I stand on the matter, I favor a stainless saute pan but have been known to use whatever is handy. Hell, in a pinch I’d cook one in a campfire with aluminum foil, but it’s not my first choice.

Yes, in the right forms I will consume an animal’s poison filter – with gusto.   Since I am not rich I generally opt for my Christmas liver allotment in non-duck (or goose) forms – braunschweiger.  Three cheers for pigs!  I proudly carry an inverse-PETA card – People for the Eating of Tasty Animals.

Yes, I know that shoots down any chance of ever meeting Charlize Theron but I’m happily married with kids and my odds were pretty low anyway.

Doesn’t that make your insides all warm and gooey? – source: Wikipedia

I say we all run out and buy some to keep the Duck Stuffers™ in business.  Nobody wants California Duck Squeezers™ thinking it can call the shots.

Addendum: I am currently eating Cheez-Its™ and wishing to hell I had some liverwurst to smear on them.  It’s an Oregon-ey redneck-ey thing.

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Woman charged with “malicious castration”.

Is there a type of castration that you can be charged for that is called “felicitous castration”?  I’m sure there is at least one case of “fellatious castration”, as in… well… you know… but not felicitous.  Now I’m trying to picture the mechanics of fellatious castration and scratching my head, but moving right along…

The woman in question –

– is accused of squeezing a man’s testicle out of his scrotum this weekend.

Great horny toadies!  Can that be real?

The guy has the balls of a tiger (pardon the expression) because –

– the man walked to the Shelby Rescue Squad building for help.

Holy shit-sucking leeches, Batman!  He walked.  WALKED.  He walked to get help.

The  woman –

– grabbed him by his scrotum before he was able to jerk away from her grip.

Double the balls of a tiger.  Double the balls of a genetically freakishly large angry tiger.  He jerked away from her grip.  The woman was squeezing his testicles of of his bag and he pulled away.

Let’s paint it like it is – this is like pulling your own fingernails out, for you females out there who aren’t attached to testicles.

****

Let it be known that mrmacs came up with a nice alternative phrasing to my definition of “planic attack”:

Planic attack: Management’s response (usually finger-pointing or blame-storming) to the realization that a project cannot be completed due to technical issues that have been raised by engineers from the project’s inception.

I thought the use of “blamestorming” was a nice touch.

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Deliver me…

Day 15 now since Operation Invading In-Laws began.  Maintaining an uneasy truce with spousal in-law units.  Ready to have home back.  About five days ago I was ready for that.  Well, actually five days before that.

But they are helping with things I just cannot do (and at times don’t know how to do) on remodeling the home, so I’m remaining silent, mostly.

****

Source of Cat Quadcopter Picture – Reuters.

Stuff your dead cat with a quadcopter.

Creepy as hell.  Thanks to alert co-worker Butcher of Lansing.

Thoughts in the order they arrived:

  • WHY would you DO that?
  • What kind of flight time per-charging do you get?
  • Do you charge it in a litter-box shaped receptacle?
  • Self cleaning?
  • Does it charge 23 hours of the day and work only 1 hour per day?
  • Mouse-powered fuel cells would be ultra-cool.
  • WHY would you DO that?

 

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