Saturday, January 31, 2009
It was a great day for sledding here; it was sunny and 44(!). Very windy though, like "rip the sled out of your hands" windy. But at 44 degrees the wind doesn't feel so bad.
No pictures of me going down the hill, as the camera was in my pocket. Had I been thinking I would have gotten an action shot as I hurtled down the dike. Maybe next time.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Since I'm not supposed to discuss my salary I won't be using any dollar amounts. Luckily, God created percentages, so I can both laugh/shake my head in disgust at Minnesota and cover my butt at the same time.
Minnesota took 6.2% of my eligible take-home pay. North Dakota took 3.0%. Minnesota has a budget deficit approaching $4 billion dollars. North Dakota has a $2 billion surplus.
Today's lesson: higher taxes mean more money for your government to squander.
Some may argue that I'm not taking into account what I get back (if anything) as a refund. To that I say, shut up. No, actually that's true. But from experience (again, not using dollar amounts) I know about how much I usually got back from the state. It wasn't a lot. And even if it was, Minnesota still had that income to do with as it pleased until April of the following year, every year, before having to give it back. Kinda like an interest-free loan. And still, $4 billion in the hole.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Until now it has been widely believed that alcohol consumption can cause erectile dysfunction, or 'brewer's droop'. But a study of 1,580 Australian men found drinkers reporting up to 30 per cent fewer problems than teetotallers.
Even binge drinkers had lower rates of erectile dysfunction than those who never drank.
So-called low-risk drinkers, those who have four drinks a day for up to five days a week, fared best.
- ''Brewer's Droop" would be a great name for a band.
- In Australia, drinking four drinks a day five days a week is considered "low-risk".
(thanks to: Instapundit)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Plus, every time someone clicks the link I get $50. And a kitten goes to heaven. And you'll save a starving child in a third-world nation. Oh, and you'll help eradicate herpes. Can you live with the consequences of not clicking?
Since the furnace is over 40 years old (which is about 1065 in human years) this isn't all that surprising. Needless to say it needs to be replaced before it explodes, covering the neighborhood in shards from the Kennedy era.
Gosh, I can't wait to see how much this is going to cost!
Update: The new warp core is coming on Friday. The cost was actually almost half of what I expected, so that's good. Plus there will be tax implications next year (the good kind) as well as the savings that come with using 21st Century technology.
(originally posted 1/27/09 at 1:43 pm)
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
It seems that after the hotel opened, the drawings of male and female genitalia scrawled by bored workers began to bleed through the walls, causing palpitations among the hotel's guests.
(Link found via Overlawyered)
Monday, January 26, 2009
1. Vast open prairies provide ample parking for visiting alien spacecraft.
2. Look on a map; we're almost a perfect rectangle, and rectangles are cool.
3. Persistent high winds let you know you're still alive.
4. People here aren't all snooty, not like those elitists in South Dakota.
5. The Empire will never think to look for us here.
6. The kaleidoscope ice glare effect as your car spins out of control is amazing.
7. At least it's not Canada.
When did starting a post with "ummm, no" become de rigeur? I'd like to know who started this trend. You've read their posts on blogs around the intertubes:
Ummm, no. I think you should learn something about economics then get back to me.
Ummm, no. I could crush this entire city under the weight of my enormous member.
It strikes the perfect balance between condescension and jackassery that makes comment sections such a joy to visit. If you catch yourself doing this, for the love of Bender stop!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The drawback of Model U.N. is that it utterly fails to represent reality. For example, in Model U.N. there was no way that Iran would be made head of the UN Development Program. It wouldn't have passed the laugh test. There would not have been a Human Rights Commission that included Sudan, China, or Pakistan.
There was also no laser-like focus on Israel in our pretend U.N. In reality, a terrorist organization can lob rockets into Israel for years while the U.N. takes no notice. Once Israel finally retaliates though, you can expect a flood of resolutions and condemnations, none of which take note of what precipitated the action.
Model U.N. was an idealized image of what in reality is essentially a giant bureaucracy for allowing rogue states to wield far more power than is dictated by common sense.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
The airlines have come up with a plan to determine who really needs the extra seat. It involves a doctor's note and (in the case of the obese) measuring the width of the person's rear end.
This is asinine in itself of course, but his passage really stood out to me:
[Dr. Briane] Sharfstein explained that while Canada’s universal health insurance system provides free health care services to all residents, the reality is that patients often wait months to see their doctor.
Dr. Sharfstein is a spokesperson for the Canadian Medical Association. If that's what "free" healthcare brings with it (and it is), count me out.
The good news is, I have solved the mystery of where Fargo meteorologist and local news personality John Wheeler shops for suits:
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Update: It appears Fargo did lose some jobs today. I got a couple of good-bye hugs from people I've known since I was an intern. I don't really know what to say in a situation like this. "I'm sorry", "I'll miss you", "Good luck and keep in touch" all seem inadequate. I would be dishonest if I didn't mention also having a fleeting encounter with a feeling of "better you than me".
Judge me if you must; I take solace in the fact that it wasn't my first or last thought and it didn't last long.
Here's hoping they all look back on today as just the prelude to bigger and better things.
(originally posted at 8:50 am)
I question the time frame given the stated reason for closing the prison:
A draft copy of the order, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, notes that "in view of significant concerns raised by these detentions, both within the United States and internationally, prompt and appropriate disposition of the individuals currently detained at Guantanamo and closure of the facility would further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice."
In other words, we need to close the prison because having it open hampers national security and foreign policy interests and causes the international community to question our country's committment to justice.
If this is true, why not order it to begin closing immediately? I realize that there are logistical reasons behind not slapping a padlock on the front doors tomorrow morning, but why hamper our national security and shun justice for a whole year?
Personally, I think that the reasons for closing Guantanamo have more to do with appearances. It has become a symbol. Closing the prison removes the symbol. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that; in fact I agree with it. I just wish the President would say that rather than use the same national security cover President Bush used for so long.
Closing Guantanamo sends a message that the acts perpetrated within its walls (some imagined, some very real) won't be tolerated. That message will be ignored by this nation's critics, but that doesn't mean it isn't the right thing to do. Just acknowledge it rather than substituting national security concerns and nebulous talk about justice in the context of the international community.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I've tried alligator (delicious), frog legs (excellent), escargot (heavenly), squid (eh), choirzo* (great if prepared right, otherwise... shudder), black bear (good, but kind of stringy) and some other things I'm probably forgetting.
The only things at this point I can't see myself ever liking (or tolerating) are beets and this.
Some other foods on my "still to try" list are rattlesnake and turtle soup. What else should I add to that?
*I'm referring to the Mexican version of chorizo, which is made from all the parts of the pig not considered fit for use in hot dogs. My girlfriend at the time (this was back in '93 or so) told me that it was common for the casing to be a fresh intestine that wasn't cleaned before being used. Mmmm... pork proto-poop. That said, it was quite good when she made it. A few years later I tried to make it and the results were not as appetizing. Must've had a bad casing.
Anyway, in anticipation, here is a little Dharma video to whet your appetite. I missed it the first time around. It was created just prior to last season but it's got everything else going for it: it's short and it's freaky. Enjoy.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The cool thing is that if true, it may make studying matter at the subatomic level much easier than originally thought.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Update: I finshed in the top 15, which is to say I didn't win any money. Oh well. The poker room at the Shooting Star is much smaller than the last time I played there. It looks like the poker craze is on the downswing. There were 24 people in the tournament. The last time I played there we had 75.
(Originally posted at 7:38 am.)
Friday, January 16, 2009
Update: It appears the arctic cold has blasted the bloom off this rose already. That took all of twelve seconds. Shocking.
(Originally posted at 8:39 AM on 01/13/09)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Read the whole article, but here's a taste:
Before this kind of embryo test (known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD), parents weren't held responsible for a bad roll of the genetic dice. If you had a 50 percent chance of passing along a disease, and your child got it, that was a tragedy, not your fault. But with the advent of PGD, the equation has changed. Now you can eliminate your risk of transmitting the bad gene—and if you don't take that precaution, you're "inflicting" the consequences. In this way, today's embryo-screening option becomes tomorrow's obligation.
At some point this type of testing will be widely available. But it won't be cheap. How will this affect us long term? Will people be less likely to have kids if they can't afford the testing? Will kids who grow up to develop cancer be able to sue their parents? What am I saying? Of course they will. Lawyers will make sure of that.
I try to remain open minded about politics and politicians, but I realize it's hard. While I generally lean right in the sense that I support smaller government, a strong military and free market economics, I have a left streak in me that includes support of abortion rights and gay marriage.
Once in a while I find it necessary to test myself to make sure I'm not veering too far to one extreme or the other out of ideology (usually to the right). This came up, as you might expect, during the Presidential election. One way I do this is to come up with five nice things to say about "the other side". In this case that meant Barack Obama. Yes, yes, I didn't vote for the One. I know. At any rate, here is what I came up with:
- He looks Presidential
- Very adept at building a fervent following which may bode well for coalition building
- A great speaker
- Stayed on the high road (mostly) while campaigning, especially against Clinton
- Obviously intelligent and willing to surround himself with smart people
Now, there are plenty of reasons why I didn't vote for him, but that doesn't matter. This exercise helps me to stay sanguine about America's future. We'll be okay even though "my guy" didn't win.
Now you try it. And for those of you who were in love with Obama from the beginning, try this with George Bush. Remember --no sarcasm allowed in your list!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
- bloated prices
- forcing levels of coverage neither wanted nor needed
- higher taxes
- lower customer satisfaction
- inept management
- rationing of care
- doctor shortages
Please read the whole thing.This country has healthcare problems. Letting the governement take it over is not the answer. It almost never is. Who thinks the government does a good job with taxpayer money now? Anyone?
Tip of the Cap: Instapundit
Monday, January 12, 2009
Are you shocked? I'm not shocked. How about you -- you shocked? I didn't think so.
BAILOUTS ARE BAD.
"Apparently, she was able to flush the toilet without allowing the ballcock assembly to reseat the flapper, causing the toilet to run continuously for a week while I was on vacation," said Donna Marshall, 33, of Fargo. Marshall then alternated between giggling uncontrollably while repeating the word "ballcock" and weeping at the sight of her $108.65 water bill.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Fargo Police Department. In the meantime, residents are urged to be careful who they let into their bathrooms. Support groups are forming for past victims. Contact the Fargo-Moorhead YMCA for details.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Women's jeans come in a size. 8. 12. 0. Whatever. How exactly does this work? My seven year old daughter is in the middle of a growth spurt so I took her out to buy a couple pairs of jeans. I had to put her in a size 12 (yes, I know. She's big for her age. She's almost as tall as Donna). The problem is, size 12 jeans have legs made for a girl roughly 6' 4". There's no finding her waist size with a shorter inseam. So I have to take a seven-year-old's jeans to a tailor to get them taken in.
Here's my question. Why, exactly, do women stand for this? You burned your bras. You get to vote in elections just like white male landowners. You won the right to hold a job title other than "mother", "teacher", "nurse" or "stripper". Why have you not turned your collective force of will towards this ridiculous travesty of a sham?
There's no truth to accusations by bloggers that a Palestinian camera crew staged a video showing the death of the videographer's brother after an Israeli rocket attack, said the team's employer. "It's absolute nonsense," Paul Martin, co-owner of World News and Features, said of accusations leveled by bloggers at videographer Ashraf Mashharawi.
Many bloggers remain unconvinced. CNN didn't disclose the nature of Martin's news enterprise. If you check out their website, you'll discover that customers can commission stories for a price. A new business model for CNN?
Friday, January 9, 2009
Now it seems that CNN has yanked a video showing resuscitation efforts on a child during the Israeli offensive into Gaza. The video seems laughably fake, but that's not the problem. Somebody can fake a video or a photo and get it published. Once the fraud is discovered though, I would expect a mea culpa from the network. Instead, CNN has pulled the video without explanation and left the article written in support of the video.
See the video and read about the Eason Jordan affair here.
How can anyone trust such an organization?
Hat tip: The Consumerist
Thursday, January 8, 2009
It's almost like if the government starts handing out taxpayer money like beads at Mardi Gras, everybody puts their hands out.
How right I was. Apparently the porn industry is now asking for a bailout:
"The government’s handing out money to the auto industry,” Francis, producer of the “Girls Gone Wild” video series, said on the phone from his Santa Monica office. “Why shouldn’t it hand some to an industry the nation could not live without?"
If douchebaggery were a mystical art, Joe Francis would be a Jedi Master. But I have to agree with his logic. The industry's big problem of course, is how to continue to get people to pay for something available free on the internet.
- Unwilling to meet the price in prospects, Jake Peavy still pitches for San Diego.
- Outbid by New York, A.J. Burnett is a Yankee.
- After agreeing to a handshake deal, Rafael Furcal used the numbers to get a better offer from the Dodgers
I'm actually okay with the outcomes above, as Wren was right to not give up the farm for Peavy. A.J. Burnett is a DL stint waiting to happen. Furcal is on the wrong side of thirty and not worth a long term contract.
But today comes news that John Smoltz has signed with the Red Sox. Coming off shoulder surgery, the deal is for $5.5 million and incentives. The Braves reportedly were not willing to go higher than a base salary of $3 million. So basically a team that can't give away $30 million dollars won't throw $2.5 million of it at a pitcher who's spent his entire career with Braves for what will probably be his victory lap before retirement.
Yeah, he's been hurt. But for everything he's done for the franchise Smoltz deserves a bone from the only organization he's ever thrown a major league pitch for. Beyond that, there's the public relations angle: Wren's going to be the guy who dissed Smoltz over what the Braves pay a backup infielder.
I expected a lot of man-bashing but Vincent presents her adventures in male bonding with surprising gentleness. She finds sympathy for the lowest of the species, including a married man that spends an inordinate amount of time at a strip club and a salesman who uses every manipulation to get money from those who can't afford it. Frankly, she's a lot harder on women in this book.
There is a nagging doubt for me that some of these encounters are fictionalized for effect. I can't really explain it; it's just a feeling that came and went as I read. She didn't really join a priory. Her bowling teammates didn't really just shrug it off when she revealed herself. Maybe it's just the cynic in me, trying to avoid thinking about what I'd do in that situation. I hope so, anyway.
Where the book shines for me is the deliberations Vincent goes through before letting her subjects in on the truth (and before she decides not to tell). It was obviously difficult for her to deal with the guilt she felt hiding her identity.
At any rate, don't let my inner cynic scare you away. The book is a fascinating read.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Sitting in the waiting room was a woman with her own dog, a tiny, shaggy thing I can't identify, but am sure is an upright doggy citizen. She asked us what kind of dog we had. When I told her I got the raised eyebrows and uncomfortable shift in posture I've come to expect. The woman was polite, commenting that Ruby looked small for a pit bull. I explained that at 52 pounds, she was actually big for a female (30-35 pounds is common). She seemed surprised and a bit incredulous at this but she let it go.
Pit bulls have an image problem. They have been almost mythologized in the public eye as oversized killing machines that like to feast on children. The truth is any dog will be aggressive with people if they are not trained properly. To illustrate: the number of people bitten by Ruby: zero. The number of people bitten by the daschunds next door: everyone they've gotten close enough to (according to their owners). I'm not suggesting pit bulls are harmless or that dascunds are inherently dangerous. I'm saying any dog can be harmless or dangerous. It's up to the owner, not the dog.
Ruby can look terrifying to a stranger when her hackles come up and she growls with teeth bared; the epitome of the pit bull as killing machine. What the stranger doesn't realize is that Ruby is terrified of the dumbest things on the planet. Shake your keys at her; slide a dinner plate across the floor; make noises at her though an empty paper towel roll. All these things send her running to the hills with her tail beteen her legs. Don't even get me started on skateboards.
When my daughter first began having contact with Ruby we had to keep an eye on the dog, as she thought of my daughter as a puppy rather than a little person. She was very possessive of her toys. We could see her get that look in her eye that said, "stay away from my stuff". We worked with the dog to teach it that this was not acceptable. Now we have to instruct Ruby not to lick my daughter's face off when they're sitting on the couch together. The point is, all dogs need training.
This bad reputation existed before the Michael Vick saga, but that incident added another layer to an undeserved aspect of the pit bulls' mystique. You think pit bulls are merciless automatons? Read this article from Sports Illustrated about the post-Moonlight Road lives of these dogs and you won't look at them the same way again.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Meanwhile, a Ramsey County precinct ended up with 177 more ballots than there were recorded votes on Election Night. In that case, the board decided to go with the extra ballots, rather than the Election Night total, even though the county is now showing more ballots than voters in the precinct. This gave Mr. Franken a net gain of 37 votes, which means he's benefited both ways from the board's inconsistency.
How to explain this, then? It turns out that North Dakota had two murders in all of 2008. Both of them were the result of stabbings. Obviously North Dakota's strong gun laws are to thank for this remarkable record. Except North Dakota doesn't rank very high on the Brady Campaign's list of good soldiers in the war for stronger gun control laws.
One might infer from this that gun control laws don't deter gun violence. Or maybe North Dakotans are just so darn nice.
(P.S., Brittin is a town in North Dakota. If they were awesome they'd change the name to Brixton. If you don't get the reference, shame on you. Your pennance is to watch this.)
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Is anybody out there still buying CDs? Or is the digital revolution, as it pertains to music sales, complete?
Saturday, January 3, 2009
5:26 pm: Falcons second sequence: Holding, delay of game, throw souvenir to an Arizona fan. I already saw this movie and it sucks. Not as much as Mama Mia!, but close enough.
5:28 pm: Thomas DeCoud (I swear I thought his name was DeCloud the whole year) just hit the punt returner early. Coach Smith better settle these guys down quick.
5:32pm: Chris Houston just tried to climb into Boldin's uniform on a 3rd-and-5. No flag, but the linesman did make Houston give back Boldins's watch.
5:42pm: Dominique Foxworth comes off the field. This is bad. He's the closest thing to a cornerback the Falcons have.
5:43pm: Now even the white guy on Arizona is catching the ball. This game is over.
5:48pm: 28-17 Cardinals. Hey I just remembered: I have a bottle of Jack Daniels!
6:01pm: My girlfriend giggles for the 734th time today after hearing the Tom Hammond say "penetration in the backfield".
6:18pm: Let's check the Falcons' checklist for success: Turn the ball over -- check. Fail to run the ball with any authority -- check. Make Edgerrin James look like a useful NFL back for the first time all year -- check. Leave fire and enthusiasm at the airport -- check. Plot fourth quarter comeback with 3-yard-passes -- check. If I wasn't watching the game, I'd swear we were up 40-6.
6:34pm: Hmm. I'm weakside linebacker for the Falcons. I can either cover the running back who might catch the ball for 3 yards on 3rd and 16, or I can stay with the tight end running past me toward the first down line. I cover the tight end. Incomplete pass, Falcons get the ball back. Unfortunately Keith Brooking is actually the weakside linebacker for the Falcons.
6:35pm: I was going to make meatloaf for dinner, but instead I'll have some Falcon eggs. The laid so many out in the desert, I'm sure no one will notice if one or two go missing.
3:42pm: Ryan's first pass is intercepted. We're the worst team in football. Is it too late to draft Dorsey?
4:10pm: Falcons get on the board. It's 7-3 in the 2nd. We settled for a field goal. Get Jerry Glanville on the phone. If he's still living in Texas, he can get here in time to coach the second half.
4:21pm: On a 3rd an 9, Anquan Boldin takes a ten yard pass around the left end for a 72-yard tounchdown. 14-3 Cardinals. How can the NFL let a team as crappy as the Falcons in the playoffs? The Falcons suck, the Braves suck. I hate sports.
4:33pm: Ryan takes the Falcons down the field. Roddy White drops a 32-yard pass when he is blinded by the incredibly low difficulty involved in catching a pass when you have no one around you for 20 yards and the ball is placed directly into your hands. Worst 1300-yard season by a receiver ever. He then proceeds to make about 36 tough catches to get us into 1st-and-goal. Like I said: most underappreciated wide receiver in football. Turner around left end untouched from eight yards out -- touchdown. We're back in this thing baby! Didn't I tell you!
4:42pm: Some white guy lets a Warner pass bounce off his shoulder pads. Interception Chevis Jackson. Announcer Tom Hammond calls him "Chee-vus". I don't care. This is the greatest defense in the history of history.
4:49pm: We're up 17-14 after the old fake-to-the-back-and-throw-it-to-the-white-guy play.
4:59: End of the first half. I need beer.
Update: Second link was broken. Fixed now.
Serously. Read the whole thing.
Alabama pledging allegiance to Mexico. Is this what Roy Moore fought for? As for North Dakota, we've been inconvenienced by far too many RV's with Manitoba plates parking across seven parking spots in our mall parking lots to ever throw in with Canada.
This is likely to become a recurring award. As stupid as ole Igor is, I'm bound to come across someone worse; we're only three days into the new year.
Friday, January 2, 2009
It turned out very well. Since I made a few changes to the recipe, I can share it:
Peel and de-vein 1 lb shrimp
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Set shrimp aside.
In a large skillet mix 3 tbsp of olive oil and flour over medium heat. Stir constantly until the roux(!) turns a dark brown (about 20 minutes). Stir in:
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 - 1 lbs of chopped andouille sausage (can substitute smoked sausage, but get the andouille)
Stir until the vegetables are browned, about 5-6 minutes, then add:
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
Stir for about 1 minute then stir in:
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp of your favorite hot sauce
Stir, bringing to a simmer. Remember those shrimp you coated earlier, how they called to you? Throw them in that skillet and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Add a 1/4 cup of parsley.
I served it over a bed of white rice with some baked baguette bread and a bottle of Riesling. It was worth the time.
So here I am, literally watching the show while at my computer so I can add a song to my Zune store cart the second they announce the song. Of course, one great song deserves another, so I can't just download "School's Out". I have to get "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "Under My Wheels" and "Welcome To My Nightmare".
All told, I've downloaded about 15 songs, and we're only up to #60. Welcome to my music collection, Alice, Golden Earring, Whitesnake (shut up -- "Still of the Night" is awesome), and Joan Jett.
Along with recently receiving every song ever recorded by the Clash (thanks Tim!) I have enough music to insure I can find something to annoy every person on the planet. Life is good.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
1. Lose another 20 pounds. I took off over 20 pounds in 2008, so I know it's possible. Another 20 would put me at about 200 even.
2. Cook something new at least twice a month. I got the 75th Anniversary edition of The Joy of Cooking for Christmas from my wonderful girlfriend. If you haven't seen it, it has about twelve million recipes in it, so I should be able to pull this off.
3. Post to this blog at least once a day. This one could be tough, mainly because of resolution #4.
4. Don't be the guy that posts on his blog about what he ate for dinner. You know that guy: tonight I didn't feel like cooking, so I had cornflakes. Since I didn't have milk, I used root beer. Here's a picture.
I know I have your support and prayers in this worthy endeavor.
I've been meaning to start a blog for a while, and I guess now is the time. Partly because it's the first day of 2009, partly because I want to show my father how easy it is (it's easy Dad), and partly because I sometimes have things to say and no outlet to say them (that doesn't involve arguments, bloody noses, or Human Resources representatives). I'll keep the content PG or better, though.
Happy New Year!