Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Buttoning Up 2008

This IS the future. I've noticed that many of the old sci-fi movies from as late as 1980 were set in the early 21st century. I see no flying cars, but then again this isn't a post apocalyptic wasteland either.

It has been 9 years since the Y2K scare. Cable / Satellite TV has been with me for 30 years.

You don't see much of the New Year's baby anymore. I used to wonder if anyone was checking in on him in mid July to see how he's getting along. You only saw him as a tot and then as shriveled up old man on January 31st.

I miss Guy Lombardo.

January 1 as the date starting a new year is completely arbitrary, as is the year being numbered 2009. I always laugh at the quick joke in Back to Future when Doc Brown temporarily sets the time machine to the day Christ was born. The date: December 25, 0000.

I'm not much of a college football fan, but all the big bowl games (including the so-called national championship game), need to be played on New Year's Day.

Tomorrow is Bosco's birthday (5). He's getting a box of Milk Bone small breed biscuits. Just another day for him, though. He has the right attitude.

This will be post 182 for the year. Hard to believe I could write so much about so little.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Aroma and such

Woodwick stencher oil came in the mail and provides the amount of smell good I desire. A couple of candles received as Christmas gifts do a good job too. They appeal to my tendancies toward pyromania.

Looking for the right moment to open my bottle of Lagavulin. This has to be the drink of choice in heaven.

New cell phone (LG Vu) makes texting and dialing a snap.

You have to see the model of the USS Buchanan (DD 484) that Brenden built for me. My father served on the ship during WWII. This was a truly special gift,

Patti finally got some warm and fashionable socks.

A long session of Tide of Iron with Brenden yesterday has me geeked up for playing war games. Ron and I plan to battle it out at Ponyri with Memoir '44 tonight.

Patti is actually using her digital camera.

On the way to 1000 iTunes purchases. Gift cards will help get me there.

Thank You all. Your company was the best gift of all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

From the mouths of babes ...

My memory was jogged today. Back to December, 1977.

I was getting my 6th graders ready for their choral performance in the Big Christmas Program. We were assigned to sing the somewhat obscure, "When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter" and then get off the stage. Piece of cake. Right? Not really. The words and melody are pretty simple, but standing tall on risers, singing with mouths open and at least pretending to being happy about rendering a holiday song proved difficult.

We must have sang -

When Santa Claus gets your letter
You know what he will say
"Have you been good the way you should
On ev'ry single day?"
When Santa gets your letter
To ask for Christmas toys
He'll take a look in his good book
He keeps for girls and boys.
He'll stroke his beard
Hs eyes will glow
And at your name he'll peer
It takes a little time, you know
To check back one whole year!
When Santa Claus gets your letter
I really do believe
You'll head his list
Yu won't be missed
By Santa on Christmas Eve.

- 163 times.

On take 164, the over rehearsed class sang in unison:

When Santa Claus gets your letter
He'll throw it in the trash.

I had to laugh. I laugh again today.
I had to admire the coordinated uprising of that class.

There were no more rehearsals.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fuming Insense Stencher

I still can't find Renuzit pillar candles. The website still shows them, but the site probably hasn't been updated since 2003. I saw somewhere that they were toxic and /or a threat to the environment. A real shame, they actually smelled strongly of After the Rain. Nothing has come close from a simple candle.

An oil warmer we have really pumps out the fragrance given the right oil. It's a bit bulky and is a girly-looking contraption that fits in well with the pink and white colors in Patti's den. Not in MY den, though.

I've resorted to incense, which does permeate the room, but is smoky. I get the urge to put Iron Butterfly on the turntable and relive the late 60s. I noticed the return vent is a bit dirty. Even Renuzit didn't do this. Incense = bad idea.

I now seek an oil warmer that blends in with my den's decor. All those I've seen look like they came from Palace Neuschwanstein.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pre Christmas Housecleaning.

One way to keep the tidy household that I insist upon is to sort through my personal belongs in anticipation of incoming Christmas gifts. Whether or not I get any gifts is irrelevant. It's still a good practice. I'm anti-clutter and this annual purge is a perversely enjoyable chore.

First of all, I can find items worthy of regifting or moving on eBay. It can result in significant holiday savings. Secondly, I may discover that an item on this year's letter to Santa is one I already own. Best of all are the items that scream - "Why the hell did I buy this piece of crap to begin with!"

No,I take that back. Best of all are the keepsakes that I rediscover. Dwelling over an old picture or a souvenir brings back pleasant memories and makes it worth packing the object away until next year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Not Cult Leader Material?

Evidently, those who have Twitter accounts can garner "followers". A subset of those are labeled " following". I've been enrolled for over a day and yet to have even one follower. I see that fancypance, for example, has 99. What charisma!

I attribute my lack of disciples to various factors.
  • Most of my friends check their e-mail once a week, and that's about the extent of their online presence.
  • Twitter sounds gay. Normally, I'd avoid it like a pink shirt if I didn't know better. My inner circle of old farts aren't going enter Twitter in their search engines.

Like I said, most have no Internet savvy. If they want to visit a site you have to dictate the URL to them and they must write it down. The chance that they will actually go to the site is remote.

  • I've been staying at home too much.
  • Those who are close friends and family see and hear enough of me as it is. Why follow me on Twitter, when they could be doing something constructive?
  • Who wants to be some one's ONLY follower. It is much like having an invisible friend or being a personal lackey. No one has stepped up to break the ice.

So why Twitter? I like doing this blog, if for nothing else, to go on record. There's something therapeutic about chronicling one's day-to-day actions and thoughts. Going public makes it a commitment. It's like going to Weight Watchers. Twitter handles those mental notes and comments that aren't beefy enough for a paragraph or two. Sticking with the dieting analogy, Twitter takes care of that handful of m&ms that usually does not get tallied in the calorie count, where as the blog handles meals.

Then again, being a cult leader can bring benefits. It certainly could lead to a boost in retirement income. Twitter may become my first step in building a large base of blindly allegiant followers.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fake Beards

Just when I thought I've seen it all from "As seen on TV" products, along comes this. Watch the video. Tell me, are these real Amish folks? Do the Amish have anything at all to do with these space heaters in a flamable enclosure? Especially rich is the Amish request to limit two per customer. Note the horse-drawn buggy delivering the heaters to your home. Are the Amish craftsmen akin to Oompa-Loompas? I'll let you find the other problems with this ad. It's as easy as finding the five-legged horse in the Highlights for Children puzzles.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Check,check, check . . . Done.

I haven't been out of the house for the purpose of Christmas shopping, yet all the people I am responsible for gifting have been taken care of.

No sales tax, no shipping, deep discounts, no clerk, the shipping box serves as a head start on wrapping the items. Everything was purchased on line.

I have to point to The Onion's store. Eight bucks is a long way to go for a joke. But these gift boxes are hilarious. I was tempted to put YOUR present in one of these.

My wish list?

Lagavulin 16-year Scotch
Smoked salmon
Strong smelling candles
iTunes gift card.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cookie Party

Yes. I went to a cookie party. It was actually more than that with bite sized treats everywhere. It was put on by Patti's calligraphy guild and there were maybe 40 or 50 guests. The bourbon balls ( Yowzah! ) made the day.

Patti sais I behaved myself, so I think we stand a good chance of being asked back next year.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Man, That's a Big Monocle!

How is it that I sat through a gawdawful direct-to-cable movie? The remote was in hand with fully-charged batteries. Yet, I could not look away. "Cyclops" aired on the SciFi Channel tonight and I saw it ALL.

Cheesy monster movies have always been a weakness of mine. There hasn't been one quite like this since the 1970s. The premise is that an evil Roman emperor (Eric Roberts) procures a 20 foot tall cyclops and puts him to good use in the arena. All the while there is a slave rebellion, a commander turned gladiator / champion of the people, intrigue among the senators, and a semi nude slave girl. Every spear and sandal epic ever made was plagiarized in an attempt to produce a vehicle for the star of the show, the Cyclops.

A plot is not necessary. If the cyclops is not on the screen, the film stalls, but provides enough fodder for fish-in-a-barrel wise cracks by the hundreds of viewers watching in dorm rooms and retirement homes all over the continent.

Redundancy at its best: "I now present the one-eyed cyclops!"

The film's mood is derived by a woeful short-fall of extras. The big slave revolt numbers all of 8. The Roman arena is a venue more suitable for a Pampered Chef party than the emperor's anniversary games. It's an epic story done on a vignette budget.

The Cyclops, however, rules! He rips off no less than 20 heads during the movie. I lost count of the dismemberings, squashings, and disembowelings wrought by the fairly well rendered computer cyclops. Did I mention that he likes to eat his victims? Gore like this hasn't been seen since From Dusk 'Til Dawn.

So what happens is that the former military commander befriends the cyclops before they have to face off against each other in the final round of a convoluted playoff system. The Cyclops learns to talk, spares the commander, is cut loose, runs amok, kills the emperor and his pals , while those in attendance slaughter the skeleton crew acting as security. The emperor's chief sycophant nails the cyclops square in the eye with a spear and kills him, but the commander proceeds to chop ofF the assailant's head. The head rolls around the arena while blood spurts from the neck of the unusually lively torso like the Fountains at the Bellagio.

I was thoroughly entertained.

Brain Cramp Costs Area Man Time and Money

I violated three of my self imposed edicts today.

1. Don't shop for groceries on Saturday or Sunday.
2. Don't shop when hungry.
3. Avoid panic situations like impending snowstorms, the day before Thanksgiving, etc.

So I'm ready to eat a frozen dog, more snow is predicted, and it's late Saturday afternoon and I show up at Meijer.

Everyone and their uncle was there. Meat and produce, for the most part, was sitting around since Wednesday or sold out. Luckily a new shipment of pork and chicken arrived and I picked up chicken breasts right off the meat guy's cart.

The aisles were congested. All those gigantic kid rides / shopping carts in the shape of a truck were in force as were the scooters for the infirmed, disabled, and sometimes just lazy patrons. All decided to converge and drive right down the middle of Canned Vegetable Lane. Screw it. I bought frozen instead.

Don't ever ask a store employee this question, "Where do you keep your nuts?" I did. Luckily he wasn't a smart ass like me because I would have said, "In my pants. Why? Where do you keep yours?"

The line was very long at the checkout. I was lucky to quickly divine which would move the fastest. I have scouted the various clerks and know which can keep a line moving. Some lines are artificially long because the whole family is attached to just one cart. Note: Men shoppers = speedier checkout. Sorry, but that's the way it is. Still, all the lines were long and I had to wait 10 minutes or so. This is far more time that I usually find acceptable, but wasn't bad under the situation that I blindly walked into.

I saw my honorary nephew, Shawn, with his wife, Tiffany, and their new baby, Austin. This helped pass the time in line as did the impulsively purchased Diet Sprite that I yanked out of the refer. The clerk scanned the empty bottle.

OK. I said I was hungry. Big mistake One hundred, thirteen flippin' dollars. That had to be a record. But thanks to turkey and the chuck 'o pork, I hadn't bought serious groceries for about two weeks. Even so, a box of cookies, Sun Chips, peanuts. Spaten Beer, extraneous side items that didn't match up with the entrees, and 3-for-the-price-of-1 items, needed or not, probably could have been left of the shelves.

We'll see. There's enough here for 9 days of eating. If it all lasts that long it may have been worth the effort.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hooray For Santa Claus

I left this nugget off my 2007 list of favorite Christmas songs.

It's not one you'll hear on the Wal-Mart P.A. system or as background music when a dupe of a husband lays an expensive diamond necklace on his wife in a Christmas tree lot. It was from the film, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. I just found the original rendition which was done by a small choir of children (Milton DeLugg and the Eskimos), but I have been enjoying a delightfully raw version done by an outfit called Sloppy Seconds. Either way, screaming little heathens or punks can only do justice to this tune. Celine Dion will never cover it.

It makes no pretence about the anticipation of getting gifts that fuels most of our episodes of 'Christmas Spirit'. No magic, no wonderment, no bells, no warm hearth, no mention of family. It's all about the toys. They don't come any more secular.


Thursday, December 4, 2008


Actually, yes. I thoroughly explored the subject of the Christmas Holiday last December. There was a mention of the most annoying Christmas tunes on CNN. I starting thinking about this then realized I had chimed in the previous season with my picks. So here's last December's seven entries, which saves me from repeating myself.

and November

Modern Marvels

I've always been a friend to technology. I don't fear it and mostly put it to good use. I offer a few comments on the gadgets and appliances that make me appreciate the age I live in:

I never was much into using VCRs, they served merely as a playback device for rented and purchased VHS tapes. The quality was low and the switch to DVDs relegated my VCR to being available for the copying of old home viseos to DVD. Once DVRs did HD, I jumped in. Now I can't do without. Everything from time shifting to avoid commercials to saving episodes for late-night viewing (without the hassles of tapes) is beneficial. Replaying a bit of dialogue if interrupted is a plus.

Wireless Home Network
Three computers, a printer and an iPod touch are all connected. No more being chained to the big desktop. The laptops / iPod become ready fact checkers while watching TV or settling an argument.

iPod Touch
A must if you have wireless at home. Not only can you carry photos, music and video around, but you have plenty of little apps, adequate browser and other conveniences within the reach of this little wonder. No big fee for data like on the iPhone.

Digital Camera
I'm not much for pictures and Patti is slow to migrate from film. Our camera was pricey a few years ago and a similarly capable model can be had for under $100 now. This is one purchase that has not panned out.

HDTV / Home Theatre
I'm very picky about such things. Sure, a 19" tube would do just as well. -BUT- this one thing I treat myself to. I'm spoiled. I won't watch standard programming if at all possible. I even shy away when something isn't in true 5:1 digital.

I shop mostly online and won't buy anything until I've researched first. As mentioned before, fact checking is at the core of my online experience. I also maintain a web site, and run a very small business online.

This is one area where I am content with low tech. The convenience of a cell phone is great, but all I need to do is talk on it when necessary. No texting, no walking around with a dorky ear piece, no surfing the mobile web while driving. Dial, answer, talk, hang up. That''s all I need.

Ink Jet Printers.
Get a photo printer and a color laser printer. Ink Jet printing is expensive and of far lower quality. I'll never have another.

Got a factory set up in the car. I forget to use it half the time, but it has enough utility to it to make me glad I have it.

Satellite radio
Being doomed to listen to the same old classic rock tunes, yakity-yack radio "personalities"and strings of commercials was frightening. Hopefully the price won't be jacked up too high after the XM / Sirius meager.

The calculator
I don't always need to go to the spreadsheet. Nothing beats negotiating a price on the phone with calculator in hand. Believe me, I came up thinking slide rules were amazing and actually know how to manually find the square root of a number or determine the standard deviation for a population. This is the most amazing thing to come along in my lifetime.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Pork Goes On

Thick pork chops tonight. This is probably the prime portion of the now legendary C.O.P. We knocked off five of them and have 4 more in reserve. A simple cooking in a stick-proof pan with a dash of cajun seasoning was all they required.

One more pork chop dinner, and probably a big two-day western rib feast remain. It's going to be tough to pay more than $1 per pound for meat after the supply in exhausted.

The End of the World

Prophets. I put them in the same bargain bin as psychics, sports touts, stock brokers, and Grandpa's weather-predicting bunion. This includes stars of The Bible like Elijah, Micah, and St. John the Divine.

You heard right. I say, take these guys out of the scriptures and The Good Book would be ... gooder. As far as some evangelists are concerned, few if any, of these prophecies have came to pass.(Bad for businesss, if they had.) So wouldn't you want to see a few predictions pan out before getting behind a soothsayer?

Mostly, the vague prophecies, are proclaimed as fulfilled when coincidental events are shoe-horned to match the prediction, or the prediction is reshaped to fit the event. If you have the stamina to sit through a Nostradamus show, you'll see what I mean. All it takes is the mention of any conflagration and you can easily find a match to a skirmish, war, or natural disaster. A similar sounding word, like Hister comes out to mean Hilter. Then there's the contradiction prediction where a prophet is right half the time on every set of predictions. It's an old handicapper trick. Tell half the people the the Cowboys are a lock and the other half that the Eagles are a sure thing, and you have half your clients thinking you are a genius.

This has been a golden age for sooths with economic problems, Barack "The Antichrist" Obama, weird weather, the dawn of the 21st century, and the extraordinary number of Jesus sightings in ethnic foods.

Back to The End of The World. Would this largely unread blog gain more readers if I were to start predictin' stuff? Perhaps.

OK, I predict the End of The World (That being The Earth) will come on a day when we no longer have the same calendar and are on some sort of metric time. The inhabitants of the planet will be humans whose DNA has been fused with that of the durable cockroach. You wouldn't recognize the place or would want to live during the period. Send me $50 and I'll tell you more.