Sunday, October 26, 2008

The real Sarah Palin on SNL

I missed this when it was on a couple of weeks ago, so I tracked it down. I thought it was wicked funny. And as much as I dislike Sarah Palin, I thought she took it well. After all, publicity is publicity, right? (There are a couple of commercials front loaded into the video.)

Full commentary by the clip hoster at:

Tina Fey, Sarah Palin redux: Real candidates on 'SNL' are rarely funny - Medium Fidelity - The Grand Rapids Press -

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two more weeks

While the polls look good for Obama, now is not the time for supporters to get comfortable. We need to make sure that we don't just elect him. We need to send a clear message to the government that we're sending Obama to Washington with a mandate for change. Move On sent out these:


1. The polls may be wrong. This is an unprecedented election. No one knows how racism may affect what voters tell pollsters—or what they do in the voting booth. And the polls are narrowing anyway. In the last few days, John McCain has gained ground in most national polls, as his campaign has gone even more negative.

2. Dirty tricks. Republicans are already illegally purging voters from the rolls in some states. They're whipping up hysteria over ACORN to justify more challenges to new voters. Misleading flyers about the voting process have started appearing in black neighborhoods. And of course, many counties still use unsecure voting machines.

3. October surprise. In politics, 15 days is a long time. The next McCain smear could dominate the news for a week. There could be a crisis with Iran, or Bin Laden could release another tape, or worse.

4. Those who forget history... In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote after trailing by seven points in the final days of the race. In 1980, Reagan was eight points down in the polls in late October and came back to win. Races can shift—fast!

5. Landslide. Even with Barack Obama in the White House, passing universal health care and a new clean-energy policy is going to be hard. Insurance, drug and oil companies will fight us every step of the way. We need the kind of landslide that will give Barack a huge mandate.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Florida and elections

There are way too many ways to enjoy the fact that Florida has opened the polls more than two weeks before the rest of the country.

  1. Maybe with all that extra time they can count the votes correctly?
  2. Maybe the Electoral College will invalidate their election for being officially too early?
  3. Maybe the voters will have enough time to interpret confusing ballots?
  4. Maybe the Republicans will have enough time to come up with a believable line of crap as to how their candidate pulled off another close election in the state, while giving the missing ballots more time to be eaten by gators in the swamp

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yes, the Iraqi's want us out

Yesterday, (mostly) peaceful protesters in Bhagdad called for the end of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The U.N. (post-facto) mandate authorizing a U.S. troop presence in Iraq expires on December 31st. U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have been trying to reached a draft agreement for extending the arrangement.
...officials are examining "contingencies" in case the Iraqi government is unable to sell the status-of-forces deal to the country's various factions...the "final" draft calls for U.S. troops to be out of Iraqi cities by June 2009 and out of Iraq by the end of 2011 unless the Iraqis ask the United States to stay.

Gee, I wonder what the 'contingencies' are. I wonder what McCain or Obama would think about the contingencies.

Child-free adventuring

Our son, Grendel, is spending most of the weekend in Vermont with several dozen other teenagers. Sounds scary, doesn't it? It's not. About five times a year, his church youth group gets together with groups from other churches throughout New England for "Con" weekends. They usually stay in a local church, get virtually no sleep, talk a lot (sometimes about socially responsibility), entertain each other at a 'coffee house', and then go out for a huge breakfast on Sunday morning (after they've thoroughly cleaned up the church where they've been crashing). They are somewhat chaperoned by a handful of adult advisers, who also are forced into not getting any sleep. The teens do all the cooking and cleaning. The adults are just there to make sure everyone follows the rules, which is usually not an issue.

While he's gone, my husband and I attempt to spend some time together as non-parents. Today we're going window-shopping for a Macintosh computer (isn't that an interesting juxtaposition of terms?). I'm not quite read to part with the money. I just want to lay eyes and hands on the thing that's soon going to cost me nearly three grand. (More on that in a future post.) Then, we'll probably do some other low-cost shopping. We plan to stop for a respite at a tea cafe I like. We may take in a movie as well. Tomorrow, we'll hit the local end-of-season celebration at the Nashua Farmer's Market. We may have lunch at my favorite Vietnamese noodle shop or his favorite Irish pub.

Tomorrow afternoon, Grendel is supposed to be home by 2. We have plans to visit a good friend of mine from work at 4. John's been wanting us to come to his house and meet his family for a while. He wanted to wait until he got his big screen television installed. Grendel and Goblin both play guitar. John used to play guitar in a rock band, and still dabbles for pleasure. I suspect the three of them will be down in the 'man cave' for a while playing guitars. I've never met John's wife. I hope we hit it off, or I could get pretty bored pretty quickly. John's kids are early elementary school aged. So, Grendel won't have much to say to them. I'm not used to being around young kids any more. But, John speaks so highly of his kids (particularly his daughter), that I'm sure it'll be interesting.

After all we have non-planned this weekend, I may need to take Monday off to recover.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How could I have missed Dictionary Day?

Yesterday was Dictionary Day, which commemorates the birthday of Noah Webster, considered the Father of the American Dictionary.

I love words. I play word games (Scrabble is, of course, my favorite). And, my favorite radio program, Says You, is mostly about word play.

I recently read a fun novel, The Lottery by Patricia Wood. The main character is a mentally challenged man whose life changes after his grandmother dies and then he wins the Washington State lottery. Perry, the main character, reads the dictionary every day to improve his vocabulary. Throughout the book, he tells the reader what his words are for the day. He also defines words used by other characters in the story. The definitions are sometimes spot on, but sometimes unintentionally humorous misinterpretations.

So, a belated Happy Dictionary Day to everyone who loves the magic of words.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How ignorant are we?

Polictically, we as a country are pretty ignorant. A recent survey asked a broad spectrum of American voters three basic questions.

  1. Which party is in control of the U.S. House of Representatives?

  2. Name the U.S. Secretary of State

  3. Name the U.K. Prime Minister

I was not that impressed by the fact that I easily got all three questions correct. I was really unimpressed by the number of those surveyed who got all three answers right: 18%. Wow! We really are a nation of dolts. It's no wonder that we elect the people we do. We don't know anything about them, regardless of how much media surrounds them. We simply refuse to pay attention to any information out there, good/bad or right/wrong.

It really is all about sound bites, smiles, and crowd appeal.

BTW, in case your wondering: Democrat, Condoleezza Rice, and Gordon Brown.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Own Worst Enemy

We just watched Christian Slater's new television show, "My Own Worst Enemy". Way cool. It's not just a Jekyl and Hyde thing, which is pretty cool. It's like watching two brothers work out some of their sibling rivalry issues, but never being able to meet. Imagine having an evil twin, in your own body.

Edward is a cold-blooded assassin. His deep cover identity is Henry, a really mild mannered suburban family man. The problem is, Henry doesn't know that he is really Edward. Edward kind of knows about Henry, but doesn't have direct access to his memories. Edward chose to split his personality approximately nineteen years before the show begins. Unfortunately, something happens to break down the walls. Edward and Henry start to randomly 'wake up' at the most inconvenient times for both of their lives. Since Edward knows about Henry, he can kind of fake being a boring suburbanite. Unfortunately, Henry has no idea about Edward and no desire to fake being a super secret agent.

Henry is nearly killed a couple of times. The agency that Edward works for tries to reprogram Henry so that things go back to the controlled 'on off' personality switching that they orchestrated previously. However, Edward sneaks off a DVD recording to Henry cluing him in about some bad guys that are going to try to kill him. Henry manages to kill them first, thanks to Edward's coaching.

Confused yet? It's a lot of fun to watch. At one point Henry is in Edward's apartment and decides to take one of Edward's sports cars for a ride. During the ride he becomes Edward. Edward ends up at Henry's house and has amazingly (unusual for Henry) sex with Henry's wife. In the morning, Henry's wife thanks him for the hot sex, which he does not remember. After his wife leaves, he reads a note that Edward wrote on his hand telling him "Don't touch my car again." Henry then realizes that Edward slept with his wife the night before, "That bastard slept with my wife!" Wicked funny.

Highly recommended!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Solo adventuring

Yesterday, my church group sponsored a trip to Beech Hill Farm, west of Concord, NH. There were animals to commune with, some crafts and antiques to ogle, corn mazes to get lost in, and ice cream to eat.

Afterwards, I swung by the Mill Brook Gallery's outdoor sculpture garden. Really cool.

I went on my own. I probably could have cajoled husband and son to come along, but I would have had less fun dragging them around. Click on either picture to see more from each diversion.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Early Halloween: The Best of Marilyn Manson

I'm not really a true Marilyn Manson fan. However, he has done some intriguing covers of a number of songs. Recently, he contributed to a tribute to the movie "A Nightmare Before Christmas", adding yet another excellent cover to the musical history books. I realized that I finally had collected enough Marilyn Manson songs to make my own 'Best of' album. Not all of the songs are covers. Two are from The Matrix movies, one is in the previews to "Max Payne". Here's the playlist:

1. Down in the Park (cover)
2. This is Halloween (cover)
3. Tainted Love (cover)
4. Personal Jesus (cover)
5. Rock Is Dead (The Matrix)
6. This Is the New Shit (The Matrix Reloaded)
7. If I was your Vampire (Max Payne)
8. Sweet Dreams (cover)
9. The Beautiful People
10. Heart-Shaped Glasses
11. Disposable Teens
12. Use Your Fist

Just in time for Halloween!

Avoid sending embarassing emails

Google has a feature that requires you to answer some simple math questions before it will send any email that you compose (typically on a Friday or Saturday night). In theory, if your sober enough to answer the math questions you're less likely to send an embarassing email that you'd later regret.

Sadly, my math skills are usually quite good when I've been drinking. At the point that they decline, I've usually lost the ability to type too. (grin)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Why are teenagers compelled to lie?

My son and I have been getting along pretty well recently. I was feeling pretty glib about the situation. Bad idea. The Fates notice that kind of thing.

This afternoon, Grendel called me to tell me that he was home from school. I asked about homework. Then I asked him to do a couple of things (really minor things) that would have taken him less than five minutes. He did one: he got the mail. He didn't do the other: rinse out the pots in the sink. The third thing I asked him to do was to call the Red Cross to arrange for his final test for his life saving certification.

When I got home, I noted the pots in the sink. I mentioned it to him. I then asked him if he'd had dinner. He said 'yes'. So, I asked him what he had. He said an apple, something else, and a little bit of pasta.

Grendel had a meeting at school this evening. He needed to be there by 6pm. At 5:25 I yelled for him to come downstairs. He came downstairs and looked confused. I reminded him that he had a meeting at school. I told him that if he didn't want to go, to let me know so I could get comfortable for the evening. He immediately started putting on his shoes.

I had been harboring a suspicion of late that Grendel has not being putting in his contact lens. He asked to switch to a contact because he didn't like wearing glasses. This was over a year ago. However, nearly half the time we've checked he hasn't had his contact in his eye. So, tonight I decided to do a spot check starting with "Where's your contact case". Grendel pats his pockets and then goes over to his backpack and immediately riffles through every pocket. Finally, he comes back with his back-up contact case and starts putting fluid in it in preparation for tonight's removal of the contact from his eye.

My suspicion increases. "Let me see your eye" He holds his face close and looks up so I can look in his eye to see the contact in his eye. No contact. He starts poking around in his eye and acts shocked and annoyed that the contact is not in his eye. I start out the door, but don't say anything else just yet.

In the car, I asked him if he called the Red Cross. He said 'yes'. I asked how the call went. He said he had to leave another message telling them that he needed to arrange the final test.

A few minutes later, I realized that there had been no pot for cooking pasta when I'd cleaned the kitchen before we left. I asked him how he had cooked his pasta, pointing out that I hadn't seen a pot in the kitchen when I cleaned it (the mess he was supposed to have cleaned). He said he had used the microwave. (uh huh) I asked him 'How long did you have to cook the pasta in the microwave to get it done?' 'I don't remember.' Then I asked him 'What bowl did you use to cook it?' He got irritated and asked me why it mattered. I said that it really didn't matter to me if he ate dinner or not, that it was his stomach that would be hungry during his three hour meeting if he hadn't eaten enough.

I then proceeded to lecture him about the contact and how some states won't let people drive without glasses if they are as blind as he is in his right eye without glasses. And, if they get caught driving without the proscribed glasses that they can lose their driver's license. I also told him that the Service academies will accept candidates with correctable vision, but that if he didn't wear his contact on a regular basis that his right eye wouldn't be able to muster the strenght to pass a vision test when push came to shove.

We did not exchange another word. I dropped him off in silence.

When I came home, I checked our land line and his cell phone records. He had not called the Red Cross like he said that he did. So, he didn't clean the kitchen and then he lied to me three times in the course of an hour (dinner, contact, Red Cross call).

None of these were Earth-shattering issues. Had he said that he 'forgot' on the call, I would have been irritated but not nearly as pissed as I am right now. On the dinner thing, I really don't care if he wants to walk around hungry; that's his problem. As for the contact thing, if he doesn't get it, I can't do a damned thing about that.

I really despise being lied to over things that it's easy for me to figure out that I've been lied to about. It makes me feel like the person lying to me has no respect for me, that they think I'm stupid.

I told my husband that he will be the one picking up my son after his meeting this evening. I have no desire to lay eyes on him at this point. It may seem like a trivial thing, but lying is a pet peeve of mine. I don't know why he feels so compelled to do it.

Is it 1929 again?

While people may not yet be leaping off buildings like they did in 1929, we're beginning to see signs of how personally financial ruin is beginning to affect our country. I've encountered several murder/suicide stories in the last 24 hours one that definitely appears to have an economic root cause:

6 die in family murder suicide in Los Angeles

Los Angeles recognizes that this could be the start of a trend and is trying to put programs in place to prevent such desperate reactions to the current financial downturn.

CNN Election Predictions

A friend twittered this earlier today:

Electoral vote predictions

It really is going to be a close call again. *SIGH*

Saturday, October 04, 2008

More Music-Brief and non-Comprehensive

Due to some unfortunately circumstances (death of a church member), Grendel decided to cut his presentation on the history of modern music a bit tomorrow, to leave time for discussion of the tragedy.

As a result, instead of doing six CDs worth of music history, we ended up with two (plus the CD of covers and parodies previously mentioned). This means we weren't as comprehensive as we hoped to be (and even one CD a decade was in adequate). We decided to pick two or three songs from each 5th year of the span, songs that we felt were representative of or important that year. We took a little license by a year or two when we thought a song needed to be pulled in. Here is the final playlist for our History of Modern Music (super Reader's Digest version):

Rag Mop-The Ames Brothers
Rolling Stone-Muddy Watters

Rock Around the Clock-Bill Haley
Maybellene-Chuck Berry

Cathy's Clown-The Everly Brothers
The Twist-Chubby Checker

Wooly Bully-Sam the Sham and the Pharoes
I Can't Help Myself-The Four Tops

Evil Ways-Santana
I'll Be There-Jackson Five

Get Down Tonight-K.C. and the Sunshine Band
We Will Rock You-Queen

What I Like About You-The Romantics
Rappers Delight-Sugar Hill Gang

Material Girl-Madonna
Fight For Your Right (to party)-Beastie Boys
Ride The Lightening-Metalica

Ice Ice Baby-Vanilla Ice

Jeremy-Pearl Jam
Hey Lover-LL Cool Jay

Smooth-Santana w/Rob Thomas
Lose Yourself-Eminem
It Wasn't Me-Shaggy

Holiday-Green Day
Snow-Red Hot Chili Peppers
Welcome Home-Coheed & Cambria

Paper Planes-M.I.A.
Good to be a Geek-Deaf Pedestrians

Overall, the project was a lot of fun. Now I have the Herculean task of putting all the CDs away that we ripped from this week (plus a bunch others that have been stacking up).

More Music-A History Through Covers and Parodies

Part of Grendel's presentation on the history of modern popular music will focus on looking at stylistic history through covers and parodies of songs (since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?). Here's the playlist for that CD. We identified more, but we had to cut it down so it would fit on one CD:

1. Hound Dog-Big Mama Thorton (1952)
2. Hound Dog-Elvis Presley (1957)
3. I Fought the Law-Sonny Curtis (1959)
4. I Fought the Law-The Bobby Fuller Four (1966)
5. I Fought the Law-The Clash (1979)
6. I Fought the Law (and I won)-Dead Kennedys (1987)
7. I Fought the Law-Green Day (2004)
8. Crimson and Clover-Tommy James and the Shondells (1968)
9. Crimson and Clover-Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (1981)
10. Love Hurts-Roy Orbison (1961)
11. Love Hurts-Nazareth (1975)
12. Signs-Five Man Electrical Band (1970)
13. Signs-Tesla (1990)
14. American Woman-The Guess Who (1970)
15. American Woman-Lenny Kravitz (1999)
16. Walk This Way-Aerosmith (1975)
17. Walk This Way-Run-D.M.C. (1986)
18. Rock and Roll Music-Chuck Berry (1957)
19. Rock and Roll Music-The Beach Boys (1976)
20. Rock and Roll Music-The Punkles (2002)
21. Ridin'-Chamillionaire (2005)
22. White & Nerday-Weird Al (2006)
23. Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)-The Offspring (1998)
24. Pretty Fly for a Rabbi-Weird Al (1999)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Public opinion on the VeeP candidates

Interesting public opinion numbers on the qualification of the Vice Presidential candidates going into the debate tonight. I hope they run another survey after. That'll be truly telling. Let's see if all of Palin's cramming she's been doing at the McCain ranch this week pays off.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The devil you know

For the last three weeks, I have been waiting to hear back from Mitre. They sounded really interested in bringing me on board. I had mixed feelings about jumping ship (less leave, uncertainty, initially less challenging work versus shorter commute, learning environment, supposedly a great place to work for). Well, it's not going to happen.

Yesterday, the HR person called me on my cell (though I'd given her my land line number) to ask me if my salary was negotiable. Three weeks ago, they asked me what I wanted. I said that I wanted to make 6% more than I make now (since I expect to be getting some sort of raise in a couple of months, and I'd be losing nearly two weeks of time off). She said that they couldn't even offer me what I make currently. How would I feel about an 8% cut? ... Um, no thanks.

I am somewhat frustrated and concerned about some things in my current environment. However, I am not alone in my feelings. I am a valuable contributor (even if the CIO doesn't treat anyone like they're valuable). I have a pretty great direct boss now. I get paid really well, get great holidays, flexible sick leave, and four weeks of vacation a year. I'm fighting for a lot of operational/expectation things. I have a chance to win a few, I think. If push came to shove, I could probably maneuver myself into a non-IT job in one of our research groups.

Mitre would be a good next step on my resume. However, I'm only willing to compromise so much. Maybe they'll think of me if something closer to my salary range opens up. Maybe not.

For now, I'm content. The devil I know is not so bad this week.