Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dramatic, Horrifying Deadly Plane Crash Caught on Dash Cam. Unbelievable

You'll probably see this video on the news tonight, but it just came out.

A terrible plane crash happened the other day in Bagram in Afghanistan. A 747 cargo plane crashed on takeoff, killing all eight aboard.

It turns out a dash cam on a vehicle along a nearby highway caught the whole thing. You see the plane rising, losing control, and then it gets absolutely terrifying.

The Taliban claimed it shot down the plane but the U.S and others say there was no incoming fire or missiles. The dash cam video seems to support the U.S. claim, as, at least from what is visible in the video, there are no signs of rockets or anything like that.

I hesitate because the video is a little exploitive, but it is just so incredible, and so terrifying, I had to share.

Woman Stealing Gas Gets What She Deserves: Slight Injury, Much Humiliation

You don't like to see people take nasty spills, unless they deserve it. Then we love it.

So here you go:

A woman in Australia was pumping gas, and she and the guy in the car were intent on leaving without paying. A gas station attendant became suspicious and started hovering.
A still from a surveillance video of a gas theft
that went awry  

The would-be thief started getting nervous with the very attentive attendant standing nearby.

The gas pumping lady, wearing a very minimalist outfit, I must say, got what was coming, as you see in the video below.

By the way, you'll be relieved to know there was no explosion or fire after this video ends. And apparently, the thief wasn't seriously hurt.

Police in Austrialia say the license plates on the car were stolen, so they're hoping people recognize the idiotic woman and tell them who it is.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Baboons Party in South Africa House. Homeowners Probably Not Amused

It's time I stop complaining about the ants that have invaded my kitchen, the ants that are resisting all attempts to eradicate them.
A still from the now famous baboon infestation
video from South Africa

Other homeowners have it worse. Much worse.

A video that's been going around big time this week shows what happens when you leave a teeny tiny second story window open in an otherwise locked and buttoned up house near Cape Town, South Africa.

Some baboons made themselves at home in the house in a place called Bettys Bay. Some neighbors, Kyle Peters and Howard Fyvle, finally broke into the house to rid the place of the baboons and filmed their exploits.

Judging from the condition of the house, the damage was done. The baboons had helped themselves to the fridge, and knocked lots of stuff over.

The simultaneously best and worst moment in the video comes when one of the two, in the house trying to chase out the baboons says. "Oh my God, there's dookie everywhere!"

South Africans have a charming way of saying crap or shit, don't they? Dookie. I'll have to remember that one.

I have a good friend, Michael, who lives in South Africa. He's never told me stories of baboons and dookie in his house, but maybe he lives in the wrong part of South Africa for such baboon invasions.

Most of the baboons fled when our buddies Kyle and Howard ordered them to.  One large one was there to stay, though. It was a bear getting rid of that last baboon, let me tell ya.

Here's the entire video.  Be glad it was only a mouse that ran across your living room this winter, not a baboon:

Meanwhile, In Sweden: Elderly Couple Rocks Out to Iron Maiden To Harass Neighbor

Who knew quiet, peaceful Sweden could be anything but?  An elderly couple, in a dispute with their neighbor, decided to exact revenge on said neighbor by repeated blasting the Iron Maiden song "Afraid to Shoot Strangers," according to The Local. (Sweden's News in English!)

You got to hand it to the couple, the song would irritate me pretty quickly.  It starts off mellow enough, but then goes into the screaming guitar sounds that Iron Maiden is so known and loved for.

Lyrics to "Afraid To Shoot Strangers" go along these lines:

"Lying awake at night I wipe the sweat
from my brow
But it's not the fear 'cos
I'd rather go now.
Trying to visualize the horrors that
will lay ahead
The desert sand mount a burial ground"

Who could possibly object to such uplifting lyrics?

How did they get their hands on Iron Maiden tunes?  Is this their favorite Iron Maiden song? Not that the couple are in trouble, are they going to tone down their musical selections. Maybe they'll settle for something by Skid Row instead.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

George Jones, RIP. He Had One Of The Greatest, Most Disturbing Country Hits

As anyone who follows the news knows by now, the great country legend George Jones died Friday.

He had a huge string of wonderful hits, placing an incredible 143 songs in the Billboard Top 40 Hot Country Songs over the years.
The late, great George Jones

He was famously married to the late Tammy Wynette, another of my absolute favorite country singers. Their duet, "We're Not The Jet Set," is a punny, funny classic that I'll never get sick of.

Jones and Wynette were staples on the jukebox in the neighborhood bar my father owned while I was growing up in West Rutland, Vermont. Any time I'd visit him there, chances are I'd hear George Jones crooning from that brightly lit jukebox in that dimly lit bar.

Jones' best known song, one that has often been called the greatest country song ever written and performed, is also a terribly disturbing tune, which is of course why I love it so much.

For those somehow not familiar with "He"He Stopped Loving Her Today," it was written by R.V. Braddock and C. Putnam Jr., tells the tale of a man who for decades carries a torch for a woman who left him.

Some lyrics:

"He kept picture on his wall
Went half crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all
Hoping she'd come back again."

Finally, she did come back, to reiterate the love affair was over a long time ago and would never rekindle. So we get this:

"He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they'll carry him away
He stopped loving her today."

Yep, after waiting for her all those years, essentially wasting his life, that last visit drove our man to suicide.

Like I said, a disturbing, sad, but brilliant country song.  Here's a YouTube clip of Jones performing "He Stopped Loving Her Today:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Warning: This Clear Bag of Nuts Contains Nuts!

In Britian, bags of nuts contained in a transparent plastic bag so you can see the product were recalled and pulled from shelves because the label did not say the bag contained nuts, according to the Telegraph.
Warning! There may be images of nuts
in this photograph.  

You've got to satisfy those bureaucrats!

It's true that nuts can be very dangerous, even fatal for people with certain allergies, so it's a very good idea to warn people that food in any package might contain nuts.

It's also true the package was labeled "Monkey Nuts" a Britishism for unshelled peanuts, but you can't be too careful! What if somebody didn't know what monkey nuts were, even though any one can see they were peanuts.  But rules are rules.

Britain can be famous for this weird kind of rule making. It's easy to find examples. In one case, a business moved into a new building and were told they must pay a gas bill. There was no gas connection to the building so there couldn't have been any gas usage.

The company was told the only way they could be let off the hook is if they made an emergency call to report a gas leak, which is the only way that would prompt a response and satisfy British Gas there was no gas there, according to DataLite.

In another case, according to the Daily Mail, an employment agency was initially told they couldn't say they were seeking "reliable" and "hard working" people in their ads because that would offend unreliable people.    (The worker who gave that edict was overruled by a supervisor, who said that of course people could seek reliable people to fill jobs)

Britain is certainly not alone in harboring nonsensical bureaucratic edicts. The Telegraph said the European Union tried to prevent bottled water producers from claiming that water prevents dehydration. 

So, watch out for those rules! You might be running afoul of the law by doing common sense things

Friday, April 26, 2013

Well, I Wouldn't Have Chased The Guy Into Croc Infested River Too

Police in Australia are still looking for a sex offender who fled from them by running into a crocodile infested river.
A suspect jumps into a crocodile infested
river in Austrailia, while pursuing cop
hesitates on shore. Photo from ABC  of Australia

The suspect, Tyronne Speechley,  apparently made it out alive, with no crocodile bites, but police, justifiably in my opinion, said it would have been too dangerous to go into the river after their suspect 

According to ABC Australia:

"The Queensland Police Union (QPU) says officers could have drowned or been attacked by a crocodile if they had followed Speechley into the river.

It is known to contain crocodiles, be quite deep in parts, and on top of that, with all the equipment that police have on them at the time, there is a very real risk they will damage or lose their firearms, Tasers, police radios, QPU president Ian Leaves said."

So, they'll have to catch Speechley another day. And when they do, maybe they can just drop him into the same crocodile infested river, where maybe the crocs could have another shot at him.

Cheaper than paying for a jail cell

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Three Guys Deported From Saudi Arabia Because They Are Too Handsome

Here's a problem three guys encountered that happens to me all the time never.

The trio, visiting Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirate for a cultural event were deported from Saudi Arab because they were deemed too handsome.
This man was reportedly kicked out of
Saudi Arabia for being too good looking.  

According to Arabbusiness.com: 

"According to Arabic language Elaph newspaper, the UAE nationals were taking part in a heritage event in the capital Riyadh on Sunday when they were thrown out by Saudi's religious police.

Saudi Arabia, a strictly conservative Sunni Muslim society, prohibits women from interacting with unrelated males."

Apparently, the authorities in Saudi Arabia thought that women, upon seeing the handsome men, would uncontrollably throw themselves at the guys, and do all kinds of unseemly things.

According to many media sources, one of the guys thrown out of Saudi Arabia for being a hunk is Omar Al Gala, a photographer, actor and poet from Dubai.

Judging from photos of the guy, our buddy Omar is indeed quite handsome. I could see why women would be attracted to him, but if Saudi women are like most women everywhere, some might try to get a date with the guy, but I doubt any would do anything like strip off their clothes and demand Omar have their way with her in the middle of the street.

I obviously don't now Omar Al Gala, but given that he seems pretty successful and all, so he's probably level headed enough and wouldn't do anything too untoward.

I have to feel sorry for the women of Saudi Arabia for a variety of reasons. The country isn't exactly a center for womens' rights and freedom. Hell, women aren't even allowed to drive a car.

And now we learn women can't even fix their gaze on a handsome man. Only physically ugly men are allowed in Saudi Arabia? Shouldn't women have the right to check out the goods on a good looking hunk?

I guess the unfortunate women of Saudi Arabia aren't going to have access to any Chippendales dancers anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Charming: Poor Koala Mad Sad By Fake Forest

In my latest installment in "the things you find" department, we have a sad koala bear who is depressed because he's trying to climb a tree but can't. The reason: The tree is just a depiction of one painted onto a wall.

The video was taken several years ago at a Houston zoo, but has only recently gone viral.

The poor koala looks so sad, and is looking for help for the crowd of human onlookers. Nobody can help.

Sadz, but totally cute.

Hilarious Parody: Men Think They're Hot. Yeah, Right

The other day I posted something here on Dove Real Beauty Sketches, a video from the Dove skin care company that had women describe themselves to a sketch artist, who couldn't see them, then had somebody else describe the same women to the sketch artist.
From the parody men's version of the
Dove Real Beauty Campaign"  

The portraits that emerged from the self descriptions were decidedly less accurate and more ugly than those that came from the descriptions from the acquaintances.

Since that post, I've noticed there is some debate over whether the Dove Real Beauty Sketches are a tribute to women's beauty and an antidote to womens' self doubts, or a something not entirely wonderful. 

Critics have said the video lacks diversity, and may elevate the importance of physical beauty even if attempted not to.

Of course, there's also the inevitable parodies of something like this. So I give you "Dove Real Beauty Sketches--Men" which imagines how the same experiment would work out with men. It's really funny, and in its own twisted way, true. Have a look and have a laugh:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wildly Insane (To Put It Mildly) Letter By Sorority Sister Becomes Hilariously Famous

For the past week or two, possibly the most insane email ever written by anybody has been all over the Internet.

For those of you who haven't been following this extremely important news story, I'll get you up to speed. Rebecca Martinson, of the Delta Gamma sorority at the University of Maryland was apparently not impressed with the sorority sisters because they were not nice enough, or slutty enough or whatever to please the fine members of the Sigma Nu fraternity.
Rebecca Martinson of Delta Gamma sorority at
the University of Maryland certainly has a way with words

She let's em have it big time, since this is the Most Important Thing in the world. As you read, watch out, the language is not very nice:.. Here's just the opening paragraph or two to give you a taste:

For those of you that have your heads stuck under rocks, which apparently is the majority of this chapter, we have been FUCKING UP in terms of night time events and general social interactions with Sigma Nu. I've been getting texts on texts about people LITERALLY being so fucking AWKWARD and so fucking BORING. If you're reading this right now and saying to yourself "But oh em gee Julia, I've been having so much fun with my sisters this week!", then punch yourself in the face right now so that I don't have to fucking find you on campus to do it myself.

Well, Martinson certainly gets her point across, doesn't she? I'm sure Martinson, is always the life of the party. Can you imagine the moment she lands the hottest guy at Sigma Nu, but then notices some little imperfection on him. A mole on his back, the not perfectly stylish underwear, the not-up-to-snuff sexual technique.

You'd hear her swearing and yelling at the poor Sigma Nu guy all the way to Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

You have to admit the kinds of histrionics Martinson has developed is absolutely masterful.   Want a little more of Martinson's fine analysis of the state of her sorority. Oh., why not?

 Newsflash you stupid cocks: FRATS DON'T LIKE BORING SORORITIES. Oh wait, DOUBLE FUCKING NEWSFLASH: SIGMA NU IS NOT GOING TO WANT TO HANG OUT WITH US IF WE FUCKING SUCK, which by the way in case you're an idiot and need it spelled out for you, WE FUCKING SUCK SO FAR. This also applies to you little shits that have talked openly about post gaming at a different frat IN FRONT OF SIGMA NU BROTHERS. Are you people fucking retarded? That's not a rhetorical question, I LITERALLY want you to email me back telling me if you're mentally slow so I can make sure you don't go to anymore night time events.

There is so, so much more in Martinson's email. It's quite lengthy. But worth the read.  And now, there are a lot of dramatic readings of the email on line to make it all that much better.

Funny or Die has got a great one from Michael Shannon. Remember, what he's saying is the exact text of Martinson's email, verbatim. He just adds some dramatic oomph to it. The video is even more hilarious than just reading the email.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Random Thoughts On Boston Bombing/Terrorist Capture

I know the whole Boston Marathon attack was serious, tragic business, and I don't want to minimize it.

But being a trivial guy, I do have to note some totally irrelevant post scripts and besides-the-point moments that struck me as fascinating or cool, now that the immediate crisis has passed.
The famous boat behind the house
in Watertown, Mass. where the terrorist
suspect hid.

Here are some:

Did the bombing suspects seriously believe they could cow Boston. I mean really, Boston? It's gotta be the toughest (in a good way) city in the United States.

I wonder what kind of tough justice the bombers would have gotten if they'd be released to walk around in Southie?

How tough? Some wag on Facebook posted a photo of  are  North Korean  leader Kim Jong-un, with a quote supposedly from him:   "Note to self: Do not invade Boston."

A few people might find all those crowds spontaneously singing, badly off key, the National Anthem after the capture a little cheesy. Not me. It's heartwarming and patriotic and was exactly the right release people needed.

 Maybe I'm being a bit too populist, but this is moving:

Yes, us Americans will start arguing amongst ourselves any minute now about what we should do next, or what we should have done better. That's normal, and a debate is a good thing. But it is nice to see us all come together when necessary.

Why is it that the average Joe and Jane Schmo involved in the Boston terrorist attack seems to have really risen to the occasion but some politicians observing from a distance act like morons.

We kept hearing reports of people acting bravely to rescue the wounded, the wounded giving critical tips to investigators, and police diligently hunting the two terrorists down.

And many politicians were eloquent, such as Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. But others, not so much.

Case in point: An Arkansas state lawmaker, Nate Bell,  Tweets the following during the manhunt, right after the MIT police officer is killed: "I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a high capacity magazine?"

He later apologized for what he said was the Tweet's poor timing

The two bombers are/were pathetic young men. And the final capture of the survivor, hiding in a boat parked in a Watertown, Massachusetts back yard, is particularly lame. Another piece of evidence the guy was a total loser.

In other bits and pieces from this episode, I think we call all give our deep gratitude to Neil Diamond   for taking a 4:30 a.m. red eye to Logan Airport so he could sing "Sweet Caroline" at Saturday's Red Sox game.

A needed bit of goofy joy and tradition from a Class Act. Thanks, Neil!

One last note: Are you as disturbed as I that a few people on Twitter thought the bombing suspect that survived is, in their words "kind of cute"?

No, he's the ugliest guy in America right now. And I'm not talking about physical looks.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kroger Manager Thought Charity REALLY Sucks

Talk about good deeds never going unpunished.

A man named John Young is suing because a former manager of a Krogers supermarket assaulted him for giving free food to a woman who needed it, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Last year, Young was a not-so-young 73 when he was in a Krogers, buying food for a charity he volunteers for. While there, Young said he overheard a woman say she couldn't afford to buy all the items she needed.

In the checkout line, Young told the woman to follow him out to the parking lot. There, he started giving her some of the food he had just bought.

Well, that was way, way, too much for Kroger manager Jack Hinesley, according to the lawsuit Young has predictably filed.

Hinseley emphasized Young could not sell food at the Kroger's parking lot. Young pointed out he wasn't selling anything, he was just giving it away.

The manager reportedly responded by slamming Young to the ground. (Hinesley is reported to be much younger and much bigger than Young)
John Young after he was assaulted by a supermarket
manager for giving away food he'd bought at the store.

Young's rotator cuff was torn and he still hasn't really regained the use of his arm, he says.

It's totally unclear what Hinesley's beef with the food giveaway was.  Nobody stole any food, it was all bought and paid for. It doesn't seem Young was causing a disturbance or attracting an unruly crowd. It was just one guy being nice to one woman in a small gesture of kindness.

Hinesley was charged with assault by police.

Apparently, Kroger's wasn't exactly impressed with Hinesley's actions either. In a statement right after the assault last August, the department store chain put out this statement:

"What happened to Mr. Young was a terrible thing. This never should have happened and we deeply regret that it did. After an internal investigation, we have decided to terminate Mr. Hinesley's employment with Kroger. We hope Mr. Young recovers quickly from the injuries he suffered."

Still, young is suing Hinesley, Kroger's and their security firm for $3,500 to recoup medical expenses, accorting to the Journal-Constitution.

Best Newspaper Headline EVER

A newspaper editor in Northern Ireland came up with the best idea for a headline on an article about an ill-fated, expensive railroad project.

You may not get it when you first read the headline, but do so while thinking about the opening lines of the classic song "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

In Other News......

The news this past week has certainly been horrid, dramatic and exhausting. So here's a story that give us a little relief, and takes us to a place where things aren't quite so dangerous. But scary for a least one person.

Friday, April 19, 2013

World's Stupidest High School Principal Really Steps In It.

Almost every time I meet an educator, I'm in awe of how much of their lives they dedicate to ensure kids are well educated and prepared to face the world as adults.

Which makes the really bad educators really stand out.
Looks like Katelyn Campbell is still
going to Wellesly in the fall, despite alleged
threats from her h.s. principal

Which, if reporting in the Charleston, West Virginia Gazette is true, we can nominate local high school principal George Aulenbacher as among the worst, and most tone deaf.

This started when Aulenbacher and/or other school administrators invited one Pam Stenzel speak at the school, George Washington High School

According to the Gazette, Stenzel's YouTube videos, anyway, has her saying some rather interesting things about birth control. According to the Gazette:

"In her YouTube videos, Stenzel shouts and says things such as women who take birth control are "10 times more likely to contract a disease . . . or end up sterile or dead." She allegedly told GW and Riverside students, "If your mom gives you birth control, she probably hates you.""

It turns out student Katelyn Campbell, 17, had some concerns about Stenzel's visit.

Aulenbacher "knowingly psychologically abused students" by allowing the assembly, where Stenzel used scare tactics that left some students crying and wanting to leave, Campbell said, as reported by the Charleston Gazette.

OK, Campbell was being pretty blunt. Kids these days, right?

According to the Gazette, here's what happened between Campbell and Aulenbacher at school

Aulenbacher called Campbell to the principal's office after she contacted media outlets about the assembly and said, "I am disappointed in you" and "How could you go to the press without telling me?" according to the complaint.

He then allegedly threatened to call Wellesley College, where Campbell has been accepted, and tell them about her actions. "How would you feel if I called your college and told them what bad character you have and what a backstabber you are?" he said, according to the complaint

As expecting, things are backfiring badly on Aulenbacher.  Wellesley got wind of this problem and tweeted this: "Katelyn Campbell #Wellesley is excited to welcome you this fall."

Well, what did Aulenbacher expect?  Wellesley isn't exactly averse to smart, outspoken women.

And Campbell wants the principal ousted, apparently. We'll see how that goes.

In other bad teacher news, a Texas educator at a private school has been accused of molesting a young student, but never fear. The teacher, Irene Stokes,  assures the public she is innocent.  She can prove it.  The student in question is black. The teacher is white. The teacher says she is a racist who hates black people, so surely she would not touch a black kid, according to television station KHOU.

Boy are we relieved!

Of course, the girl's mother questions why a white racist is teaching at a predominantly black school, which is a pretty good question.

But we should use the past tense. The school said  Stokes no longer works there, according to KHOU.

I guess every profession has its bad apples. At least they get weeded out.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cliche Is True: Whoever Terrorized Boston Is Total Coward

As I write this, we still don't know who detonated the bombs at the Boston Marathon or precisely why they did so.

But the general reason why they did it is obvious. They either knew their mindset and ideology are morally and intellectually bankrupt, or they knew that pretty much everybody thought that about their perspective.
The terrorist's brief moment of power in Boston.
It didn't last, and we ultimately win.  

Terrorists are terrified of the fact that most of us don't have their warped world view.

This includes people who might cause violence like this not in the name of some twisted religious or political reason, but because they want to inflict maximum pain on others. Just for fun.

Like a scared animal, the terrorists lash out because they are alone in their sad ideologies. Being alone can be very frightening, if we let it get out of control

That's not to say I have any empathy for these losers.

All of us, deep down, have some opinion, some part of our belief system that relatively few people share. But we just deal with it. We understand smart people disagree, and move on.

Or, if the political or religious system is not to our liking, we lobby for change, try to convince people our opinions are right, and vote for politicians whose worldview most closely matches our own.

That's the way it ought to be.

Terrorists are incapable of doing that. Incapable of rationality.  They can't bear a world that doesn't exactly match their way of thinking. Terrified of this reality, this total lack of power they have,  they impose their own terror on us.

To an extent, it obviously works. People are killed, and their loved ones have to suffer the loss. Terribly injured people have to deal with their disabilities. Traumatized witnesses must bear the awful memories. The rest of us put up with the inconvenience of increased security measures.

But always, defiance rises out of the ashes of any terrorist attack. After the 9/11 attacks destroyed the Twin Towers, they put up an even bigger structure, the Freedom Tower.

After the attacks in Boston, people said, hell yes, they'd come to the Boston Marathon next year, and they wouldn't let this awful crime make them cower.

We gather in solidarity to the point of being goofy. How terrible it must have been for the terrorist to see the crowd at Yankee Stadium sing "Sweet Caroline" in solidarity with Boston.

We're not moved to change our worldview to fit the terrorists' . We do just the opposite. We're not scared into submission. We live on as best we can. We don't give them the power they crave.

That's the way it ought to be.

The terrorist loses again. It makes him all the more pathetic. I don't know if they're capable of even feeling how much the world villifies them.

Most end up dying messy, lonely, miserable deaths. They commit suicide in the actual attack, or after it, or somebody kills them or a  judge and jury imposes a death sentence.

Few people feel any regret that these villains die. In that sense, the terrorists get what they want. They're taken away, forever, from the world that they cannot accept. And maybe, in death, they go to someplace even worse. Something unimaginably bad.

Unfortunately, someone, somewhere, is the next terrorist that will try to do the same thing.

But the rest of us will prevail again. Because most of us understand that no matter what our differences are, all you need is love.

New York Yankees And Their Fans Are Totally a Wonderful Class Act

Any Red Sox fan worth their salt knows they always play Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" at the bottom of the third inning during home games.
A very nice gesture at the Yankees game last night. 

I'm not sure how that tradition got started, but what the hell. It's awesome.

Last night, at a New York Yankees home game, they did the same to honor Boston and the city's response to the marathon bombing

As Jon Stewart said this week, New York and Boston have had a long, long rivalry, but its a sibling rivalry.

When Neil Diamond himself got wind of what happened in Yankee Stadium, he tweeted:

"Thank you for playing "Sweet Caroline" for the people of Boston. You scored a home run in my heart. With respect, Neil. 


Here's the video:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It's An Appropriate Time For This Version of the "Star Spangled Banner"

Over at Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish blog, he thought it appropriate, under the circumstances, with the Boston Marathon bombing and all, to post a wonderful video of a girl singing the "Star Spangled Banner"

Sullivan is right.

Marlana VanHoose, who was 13 at the time she sang at a womens' college basketball game in February, 2012, is blind and disabled. But listening to that wonderful girl's voice is more proof that goodness and determination wins every time.

Here's the video:

You're Beautiful. Just Ask Anybody Other Than Yourself

Dove, the skin care products company, has released a great video that offers the best perspective I've seen in a long time about perceptions of beauty.

The women were positioned behind a screen so the artist couldn't see them. He had to rely on how the women described themselves to make his sketches.
Two sketches of the same woman, one as described
by the woman, one by an acquaintance. Watch
video to see which one is more accurate. 

The women who had their sketches done were then told to get to know one other participant in the event.   

Those other people were then brought into the room with the sketch artist, again behind the curtain. The friends had to describe the woman they had met and explain that other woman's features to the sketch artist. 

The result of the sketches were striking. The drawings of the women  that were based on how women described themselves were not nearly as attractive, and much less accurate than the sketches that were drawn based on the descriptions other people gave. 

The really rather moving video is below and I think a lot of women ought to watch it. It's very enlightening.  Many people are their own worst critics, it seems.

Needed Distraction: Three Goofy, Weird, Funny Videos

This blog post might be totally inappropriate, given the awfulness in Boston yesterday.

But maybe we need a brief distraction from that, before we get back to praying for the victims and hoping for quick justice.

In the delightfully quirky blog "Nothing To Do With Arbroath," there's an endless, fun series of odd news postings, goofy moments and twists of humanity to keep you busy for hours.

This weekend they posted a few videos showing how creatively silly we humans can get.

The first one is just of a woman waiting for a bus who gets bored, and you see what happens. Love the "Dancing Queen:" soundtrack to the video, too.

 Next we go to a horse pasture, where we learn that getting on a horse takes at least a tiny bit of skill.

Then we go to a local newscast, to learn all about the night a banana and a lobster broke into an art gallery and stole some valuable works

Monday, April 15, 2013

Vermont's Chilly, Blustery Spring Can Be Beautiful

Vermont had a pretty typical early spring day yesterday.

For many people calling something a typical spring day conjures up images of sunshines, slight mild breezes, daffodils blooming, that sort of thing.
A bright evening sun lights
up a tree against a dark sky
in St. Albans, Vermont

Not in Vermont. The sky was full of dark billowing clouds, cut by slices of blue sky and sunshine poking through.

Every once in a while the cold spray of a chilly April shower had early emerging garden plants wondering what they were doing, coming up so early.

In some places, the April showers mixed with snow, or sleet. Then the slanting evening sun would blast through the clouds, lighting up a landscape just on the cusp of finally turning green.

Another view of bright evening sun lighting up
trees against a dark background
A sharp evening sun forms patterns and shadows on
a stone wall I've built on my St. Albans, Vermont property.  
Sun and evening shadows cast forms around a decorative
star on the shed in my yard in St. Albans, Vermont
A changeable spring day ends in a bright but moody
sunset, as seen from my yard in St. Albans, Vermont
Of course I took some photos. They're all from my yard in St. Albans, Vermont. Funny how you don't have to go very far to see beauty in Vermont, even if the day in question isn't in the classic form of beautiful.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Not The Best Janitor, But Among The More Entertaining

Here's a video that's come up showing a janitor that maybe doesn't do the best job mopping the floor, but he does do one of the more entertaining attempts at the chore.

Just posting it for a smile.

Jonathan Winters Was the Best at Improv

Anyone paying attention to the news since Friday knows that comedy legend Jonathan Winters died Friday at the age of 87.

He was awesome at his craft for a lot of reasons, but a lot of observers note Winters was a master at improv, able to do anything with no practice, no good prompts, and keep going and going, staying funny the entire time.

To prove it, here's Jonathan Winters with Jack Paar in 1964. Paar handed Winters a stick, and told him to just use that as a basis for his comedy. What follows is pure hilarity.  Where the hell did he come up with all these ideas, all those characters,  so quickly.

Watch and laugh:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

If you needed any more proof that a lot of people will do anything to save a buck, we take you to Sacramento, and other areas.

Why? Well, any retailer knows how expensive it is to set up a brick and mortar store. The lease payments. The taxes, the electric bill.
From Cockeyed.com, a rogue shoe store masquerading as
a garage sale takes oer this Sacramento yard.  

In Sacramento, according to Consumerist, rogue retailers just pay homeowners some cash and pretend to set up a garage sale on their driveway. 

Instead of that old coffee maker, the scuffed up old toys, the womens clothes that went out of style around 1986 and the floral pattern couch that never did match the orange shag carpeting, retailers just put their wares on somebody's driveway.

Citing Cockeyed.com, Consumerist laid out how this worked, at least in Sacramento.

According to Cockeyed, a pregnant woman offered a homeowner $25 if she could borrow their Sacramento yard for a garage sale.

The homeowner naive agreed, and soon, a box truck showed up and unloaded the entire contents of a shoe store on the hapless homeowners lawn. 

The homeowner said she felt tricked, obviously, but was too scared to shut it down. She did agree to have a sale on her lawn, and she didn't want to argue with these sketchy shoe store entrepreneurs.

A sign spinner waved down traffic, cars snarled the once quiet neighborhood and it was chaos for an afternoon.

The impromptu store packed up and left at the end of the day, according to Cockeyed, but in a crime that may or may not be related to the rogue store, batteries were stolen from a couple cars in the neighborhood the next night.

To combat illegal "stores" masquerading as lawn sales, many communities limit the number of yard sales a person can have to one or a handful a year.

The people with the rogue stores know this, so they hop from place to place running these scams.

I wonder how many of the shoes for sale at this impromptu retail store were stolen from warehouses or other retailers.

So, if somebody comes up to your house and asks to borrow your property for a yard sale, do the Nancy Reagan and Just Say No.

Spring Comes Slowly in Vermont, And Elsewhere

There's been a lot of news this past week about snowstorms, sleet, ice storms and hail affecting large parts of the United States, even though its April.

As is par for the course, we did not escape the wintry weather here in Vermont.  On the plus side, as usual, it wasn't as bad here as in other places, which had lots of damage and power failures.

Still, snow, sleet, and freezing rain yesterday did not exactly encourage me as I pine for spring green and budding and flowering.

Now, it's Saturday morning, it stopped snowing and sleeting and the snow and ice on the ground seems to be melting at a pretty good pace.

Here's a quick video I made of the sights and sounds around my house as winter barged in on April, again. At least one of our dogs seemed to be having a good time:

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Love My Minion (And Other Crucial Toys)

I went out and got myself a Minion.

No, not a real one, they don't exist, silly. It's a plush toy, a one-eyed, yellow, blue overall clad Minion to add to my collection of other cartoon character toys. They're characters that for some reason I relate to quite nicely.
Me and my trusty Minion.  

Maybe my life is like a cartoon. Maybe I've got the brain of a five year old. Sue me.

Minions are those worker bees in the animated film "Despicable Me."  They're the always cheerful, sometimes clumsy, sometimes put upon workers who try to make the evil main characters schemes and projects come to fruition.

My newly acquired Minion  joins Beaker, the hapless lab assistant to Dr. Bunson Honeydew from Muppets, and the Tasmanian Devil, the tornado like, slobbering foil to Bugs Bunny, at a special spot in my house.

Call it my shrine, if you will.

What I have in common with these characters is they are simultaneously simple and straight forward enough, but none of them are easily understood, the way they babble on about the scary things they're exposed to. Their demeanor is a strange mixture of fear and acceptance, though they all have their own way of going about it.

But they're my imaginary friends, if you will, because we all experience life in much the same way. Yes, I know my life is real, and the Minions, et al, are just cartoon characters, but bear with me.

For me and the Minions, Beaker and the Tasmanian Devil, things are totally out control. We feel at the mercy of others, especially in the case of the Minions and Beaker.

For me, the Minions, Beaker and the Tasmanian Devil, things usually end up badly, but comically so.  Here's a video that shows the life of the Minions. They're obsessive like me, get distracted often, and things get weird, like they do for me. OK, maybe not exactly, but close enough

Watch this example of the Minions at work to illustrate my point:

It might seem funny or odd that a middle aged guy like me has an affinity for such toys. First of all, come on, it's not like I relate to them like real human beings. It's not like I have conversations with them, arranged in a circle in a playroom somewhere. I don't take them to bed with me like a Teddy Bear.

But all adults need a nonthreatening, non-human, not terribly complex muse to cling to. These are mine.

They tell me that whenever I feel overwhelmed, threatened, oppressed, I shouldn't get too upset. Their episodes always end in laughs, and mine will too, no matter how bad things seem in the moment. At least I can hope so.

Maybe I'll make the Minions, Beaker and the Tasmanian Devil regular muses in this blog. And I should bring back Darlusz, the ceramic frog I also have. I used to use him in blog, giving him the voice of a wise but naive Polish immigrant that lives with us.

Because sometimes made-up characters give us all more insight that me, or any other human can do.

Beating Off At 90 MPH. Eels In Bad Places: Maybe Sex Should Be Regulated

The other day, I complained about Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli's  efforts to regulate how people have sex. He wants it to be really vanilla.

I thought the government shouldn't regulate what we do for sex, as long as it's between consenting adults.
This guy is certainly nimble, if charged against him
are to be believed. Did Blakely drive
down the road at 90 mph while, um, otherwise engaged?  

Given news in the past couple of days, maybe I should rethink that position.

I say that because the Internet's been all abuzz over one William Blakely of Tennessee, accused of masterbating for passing motorists while traveling 90 mph down an Interstate highway. 

Yes, this isn't exactly behind closed doors, so it's illegal anyway, but you have to give the guy credit for effort.

I'm certainly not going to try, but how do you control a car doing 90 mph, while simultaneously letting all the other passing motorists see your junk and exactly what you're doing to it? Seems impossible to me. But if police are to be believed, Blakely is quite an accomplished guy.

Maybe Blakely is an expert contortionist, waiting for his big break, and he was just practicing.

Some reports suggest Blakely has been doing this kind of stunt for awhile, but hadn't been caught until now because nobody came forward. I guess Blakely has had a lot of practice.

I can see how people wouldn't want to call 911. The story is so unbelievable they'd be charged with making a false report to police. Can you imagine the 911 call:

Dispatcher: "911, may I help you?"

Motorist: "Yes, I'm on Interstate 26, near mile marker 55. There's a guy doing 90 mph and he's getting his rocks off and showing himself off to everybody else.

Dispatcher: "Have you been drinking?"

Meanwhile, we have the case out of China, in which a man thought it would be fun to stick a live eel up his butt, you know, for sexual pleasure. Yes, I know that doesn't sound terribly fun, but I guess we all have different ideas of what fun is.

This did not end up well, at all, as you can imagine. 

Understandably, the eel wanted to get the hell out of there, so chomped through the guy's colon in an effort to escape. Our eel man was in serious condition in a hospital at last report.

So maybe Cuccinelli was right. Maybe our sexual habits ought to be regulated by the government, just to keep us safe.

However, it looks like that won't happen. A federal court shot down Cuccinelli's plea to have an earlier court ruling changed. That earlier ruling also put the kabosh on his idea.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Smartphone Edict Suddenly Makes Me A Big Fan Of The Band

The band Yeah Yeah Yeahs have put out an edict at places where they're having concerts: Stop viewing the concert by holding up your smart phone. Nobody can see through the forest of outstretched arms holding the glowing phones.
If you go to a Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert, just
watch them directly, not through your smart phone.

Here's a sign they've been posting at the concert venues:

"Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera.
Put that shit away as a courtesy behind you and to Nick, Karen and Brian.
Much love and many thanks,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs."

To be honest, I don't think I'd know a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song if I tripped over it. I've heard of the band before, but never investigated them. Now I will have to.

I'm all for snapping pictures of events you're enjoying, but only if you do just that: Snap a quick picture, then get on with it. This might be a bit ironic, but I don't think you can even form a good memory of how you experienced something if you spent all the time recording it so you can watch it later.

It would seem as if you weren't really there if you just look at what you recorded after the moment has passed.

It gets worse. A Facebook friend said he was watching his young daughter at a stage performance at her school. The dad would have loved to actually see what his daughter was doing up there on the stage, but some moron was holding up a nice big iPad to record the event. Lady iPad didn't even seem to care she was blocking the view from everyone else.

Hey, as long as she got her picture and video, who cares, right?

Am I going to be branded as a weirdo the next time I go to a concert because, instead of holding up my iPhone to record the event, I just sit or stand there and enjoy the event?

Maybe when I go out on a date with my husband, I shouldn't have any face to face conversations with him. Maybe we should just text each other, even though we're sitting two feet away from each other.

Human contact and experiencing what's really going on is so 20th century, isn't it?

Craigslist Is A Hotbed of Deceit, Weirdness and Fun

Is it just me, or as Craigslist, that online classified advertisement site, become a real hotbed of intrigue and strangeness?

I say that because of all the creative ways people have used Craigslist to unleash all kinds of mischief. I've found evidence of this all over weird news sites lately.
Is this web site a hotbed of weird crime?  

In one case, a guy who broke up with his girlfriend posted an ad, supposedly from the girlfriend, saying she was looking for horny guys and come on over!     The boyfriend and ex-girlfriend were both in their 60s, so you'd think he, at least, would be past these junior high school style mean pranks, but you'd be mistaken.

According to the New York Daily News:

"She said she has 'multiple signs posted on her fence and gates that people who are there in response to ads on Craigslist were uninvited and trespassing.'

But these clearly do not do the trick because she resorts to calling police 'frequently, often several times a day, to chase away the men who have been enticed by these personal ads,' according to the arrest affidavit.

Arrest affidavit? Oh yes, the ex-boyfriend, Kenneth Kuban, 61, a Library of Congress worker, has been charged with felony stalking. He could face up to five years in prison, according to media reports.

The New York Daily News article helpfully linked to other Craigslist related articles, including one in which a woman had a "lying, cheating" sale in which she sold off her husband's possessions while he was allegedly off somewhere with his mistress.

More seriously, the Daily News piece also linked to the conviction of a man who murdered at least a couple guys by luring them with the promise of a job as a farm hand, then robbing and killing them. 

In yet one more case of Craigslist weird intrigue, a woman is accused of hiring, via Craigslist, to beat her up so she could falsely report she was raped

So, I guess I'll be careful if I ever respond to ads on Craigslist.

You mean I shouldn't necessarily trust the ad that says "Save $$ on gas and get $$ to tell others!!!" ?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Health Care Costs: Bill For Clipping One Toenail: $1,206

Ezra Klein had an illuminating, scary piece on the Washington Post's Wonkblog recently.

There's been much discussion about how health care costs are so high because basically insurers, health providers and others can charge what they want.

A reader noted the clipping of one toenail in a hospital setting cost $1,206, according to Klein.

The reader who sent Klein the information on the toenail clipping said it was just the kind of thing you'd do in your bathroom for free. True, in this case, they had to do tests to make sure the toenail wasn't infected. There was no infection.

The price tag for this simple procedure included $248 for the office visit, $182 for a biopsy and $328 for the treatment room.

The person involved called various billing offices, where workers said the prices were outrageous, but "nothing could be done."

End of story.  Left unexplained by the billing people, apparently, is why "nothing could be done."

I smell a rat.

In an earlier column, Klein wrote:

"Providers largely charge what they can get away with, often offering different prices to different insurers, and an even higher price to the uninsured.

Health care is an unusual product in that it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, for the customer to say 'no.' In certain cases, the customer is passed out, or otherwise incapable of making decisions about her care, and the decisions are made by providers whose mandate is, correctly, to save lives rather than money."

In other countries, health care is less expensive than in the United States because other countries negotiate aggressively with providers and thus, prices are lower. Klein said in the U.S., it's a free for all

If all this is true, why do we let providers get away with it? I understand the unwillingness to futz around with the marketplace. But what if the marketplace is all messed up?

And the deeper questions are: If someone is screwing the hell out of us and playing with our health care, who is it and what can we do about it? I hope the journalists keep digging.

Dogs, Sticks, Balls and Televisions Don't Mix

Love this brief video of the hazards of having a dog that loves playing with sticks and balls, and sees such things going on on a television screen.

I'm afraid either one of my Boys, Bailey or especially Jackson, might do the same. Anyway, the video is good for a chuckle, especially if you're a dog love.

Kudos to the guy in the 12-second video who has VERY fast reflexes.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why Are Morons Killing Gulf of Mexico Dolphins?

Scientific American had a very disturbing story about people who are killing and in some cases mutilating dolphins along the United States Gulf Coast. 

Perhaps what makes this more worrying than it otherwise would be is that it does not appear to be the work of some lone nut being a psychopath with the dolphins.
How can anyone harm something
as majestic as this?

It appears a number of people with a wide variety of motivations are causing the deaths of these fine animals.

According to the Scientific American article:

"Because the dolphin attacks have occurred sporadically along all 1,680 miles of the Gulf Coast, officials do not believe they are the work of  'one single madman,' as Humane Society field director Sharon Young explains. 'It may be conforting to think it's one person doing this,' she says, 'but it really isn't.'"

I see Young's point. It's hard to imagine why one person would perform such a cruel act on an innocent animal.  Even if you're a fisherman mad that dolphins are taking some of the fish you want to catch, wouldn't it be impossible to torture and kill a dolphin, given their intelligence and, for the lack of a better word, cuteness?

But then, people kill other people all the time, so what's to stop them from killing a dolphin, a guess. And it seems fishermen are murdering some of the dolphins, apparently.

Again, going back to the Scientific American article:

Herbert Nieburg, a Connecticut-based clinical psychologist and consultant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said patients with this disorder often pursue "wanton thrill-seeking" and get a pleasurable feeling of power from hurting a more vulnerable creature.

Some people stab or otherwise mutilate dolphins after they are already dead.  They take parts of their bodies, say a jaw, as a souvenir. Very weird, indeed.

I hope people who do this are caught and prosecuted. Dolphins are protected under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act which forbids harassment of the animals.

Scientific American said people have been prosecuted in the past for bothering dolphins. In 2008, according to the magazine, a man was caught throwing pipe bombs at dolphins because he was annoyed they were interfering with his fishing.

He was prosecuted. Let's hope we hear of more criminal charges being filed. 

Virginia Attorney General Is Way Too Interested In Your Sex Life

We need to talk about Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli's sex life.

No, I won't go into any detail here, mainly because I don't know a thing about his sex life, nor do I care about it.
Kenneth Cuccinelli is shocked, SHOCKED! by
most kinds of sexual activity.  

The problem is, he cares, very, very deeply about your sex life. Especially if you live in Virginia.

Before we get into the details, if you're a little delicate, you might want to avoid getting too involved in this post.

Here's the deal: In Virginia, Cuccinelli wants to ban oral and anal sex. 

I guess it's not Biblical enough or something. Of all the crime problems an attorney general would face in any state, I'm not sure why Cuccinelli is focusing on this, but I guess everybody has their priorities.

This all stems from the notion that Cuccinelli finds gay people icky. Courts have the state can't stop gay people from having sex, as long as they do it behind closed doors and it involves consenting adults. Cuccinelli's solution is to ban all oral and anal sex for everybody, straight or gay.

As you can imagine, there are lots of problems with Cuccinelli's potential law. It's unconstitutional, as the U.S. Supreme Court has already dealt with this issue. Yes, I know the Supremes should have been dealing with less carnal issues, but this topic came up, so to speak, so it had to be addressed.

Of course there are other, practical problems with Cuccinelli's idea. How are they going to enforce it? Most people don't have sex of any kind out in the street, where police could see whether people are doing the deed legally, at least to Cuccinelli's satisfaction.

Besides, I think it's already illegal to have sex of any kind out in the middle of the street.

Are you going to have to get a permit before having sex and then have some law enforcement person in your bedroom making sure your technique is proper, under Virginia law? Wouldn't having law enforcement watching kind of kill the mood?

Unless you're into that sort of thing, of course.

Worse, will Cuccinelli invite himself into everybody's bedroom to watch? If so, then geez, the guy really IS kinky!

What if Cuccinelli somehow succeeds with this law and then is able to prosecute everyone who breaks it. Supposedly, Virginia's prison system has the capacity of 30,000. There are several million adults in Virginia. Where would all those sex addled felons go?

And why is Cuccinelli so interested in how people are having sex, anyway?  Yes, I do understand and agree with the point that everyone in law enforcement, including Cuccinelli, should care and ensure that sex only happens between consenting adults

But wanting to regulate how these consenting adults do it just seems a little, well, obsessive.  Sure, Cuccinelli should decide for himself how he wants to conduct his sex life, but he should keep his dick nose out of our beds.

In any event, Cuccinelli already finds himself under pressure to ensure he and his staff have sex (not necessarily with each other!) in a way that Cuccinelli himself finds proper.

Mother Jones magazine has already demanded to know if Cuccinelli and his staff have ever had oral or anal sex. You'd hate to have a hypocrite in his office, so we'd better clean house now, goes the logic.

So far, no response to Mother Jones on that question.

There was that big tourist ad campaign a few years ago that went "Virginia is for lovers."  I'd hate to think the only lovers Virginia would welcome in the future are really boring ones.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Tumblr Site Documents Multiple Reasons Why Toddler Is Crying, Hilariously

It's every parent's dreadful routine. Their toddlers cry constantly. For any reason.

Any parent can get frustrated by that, but one father has a sense of humor. He started a Tumblr site, "Reasons My Son is Crying," which is just a series of photos of the kid crying, with a caption under each photo explaining why he was crying at the moment the photo was taken.
The crying toddler in "Reasons My Son
Is Crying." 

The site is strangely hilarious, and it's a fun time waster to go through and count the zillions of reasons a toddler cries.

Among them:

"I wouldn't let him drag the snow shovel into the house."

In a photo with him the bath tub:  "I wouldn't let him drink bath water."

"His brother's boots don't fit."

In a photo of him crying near a pond: "I wouldn't let him drown in this pond."

"I closed the refrigerator door."

"The milk isn't juice."

"Grandma wouldn't let him spill his ice water all over her and the table."

"We suggested he play with a train."

"I didn't show him a picture on my phone quickly enough. And yes, they were pictures of him crying."

This site will continue to grow, as it looks, so keep looking for more strange reasons to cry.

Awesome Views From Space: NASA Compiles 2012's Coolest Images

NASA put out an awesome video recently of various views of the Earth from space taken during 2012.

Some are the views a human eye would see from space  some are computer augmentations to study certain aspects of climate, topography, or other scientific fun stuff.

The whole video is a Gee Whiz That's Cool! montage. I loved it. So will you. Watch:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Plan For Man's Nice Hot Shave Literally Backfires

A nice luxury for guys is a hot shave.

You know, go to the barber shop or wherever, have the professional put on some nice warm shaving cream and give you the closest, most relaxing shave you could ever have. I might even make an appointment.
If you want a hot shave, please don't
heat this can up on a stovetop.  

For the Do It Yourselfer, don't try what a guy in Florida did. His thought, according to the Tampa Bay Times, was to heat up a can of shaving cream on the stove, and Voila! a hot shave.

Well, he certainly got a close shave. The metal shaving can did what you'd expect it to do when heated. It blew up.

The guy was treated for cuts. There wasn't much damage to the house, but there was shaving cream all over EVERYTHING !

So after he got his stitches, the guy had some serious house cleaning to do. So much for the shave.

The Tampa Bay Times article helpfully notes you can get a nice home warm shaving kit from Walmart for about $65. Presumably, that's safer.

When Committing Insurance Fraud, Don't Say Lost Items Were Purchased At Store That Didn't Exist

A woman named Latrell Taylor is in big trouble for reporting the theft of at least $116,000 in jewelry

Reporting the theft wasn't a crime. The alleged crime came when she told her insurance company the jewelry was bought at a particular store around 2008. Trouble was, the store didn't exist until 2011.
If police reports are accurate,
Latrell Taylor is not very good at insurance fraud. 

The receipts apparently were fake.

Apparently the cops got suspicious when she supposedly parked the car full of expensive jewelry in a really sketchy neighborhood in Chester, Pennsylvania, according to the Daily Times newspaper of Deleware County, PA.

Among the items supposedly stolen from a Louis Vuitton bag were a $30,900 diamond engagement ring, a $6,000 diamond bracelet and a $79,800 diamond pendant.

Yeah, I'd get all my expensive jewelry and leave it out in the open in a car in a bad neighborhood, too. OK.

Our friend Latrell maybe should have planned this whole thing out better. Better luck next time, Latrell!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How the B-52s Use Insanity to Maintain My Sanity (And Other People's Sanity)

I'm in Rutland, Vermont this weekend, visiting family.

Last evening, my sister Lynn, my brother in law David and I were introducing my husband, Jeff to the world of the B-52s. Jeff is familiar with the band, of course, but didn't fully grasp until last night how much Lynn, David and I embrace, love, live the B-52s.
The wonderful B-52s

The beehive hairdos! The deliberately off key, deadpan deliver of the vocals! The absolutely party out of control insanity in their lyrics

Those lyrics. We especially love those insane lines from their songs. Especially from some of their early hits. Like from "Planet Claire:"

"She came from Planet Claire
I knew she came from there.
She drove a Plymouth Satellite
Faster than the speed of ight
Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head."

Jeff pointed out, as we tortured him with one B-52s song after another,  that the music in B-52s songs is much like that of bad 1960s B-movies.  Jeff nailed it exactly. That's part of the appeal of the B-52s.

Jeff joked that had he known I was this into the B-52s, he'd never have married me. "What did I get myself into,?" he asked.

As I said, Jeff was just kidding. He knows that I get my kicks out of goofy things, sounds, music, people, things. And he realizes in some weird way that all this is healthy.

If everyone introduced more irreverance to their lives, more silliness, more very bizarre but very fun party music, a goofy party side to their lives, the world would be much better.

Maybe if North Korea's "Dear" Leader, Kim Jun Un listened to the B-52s "Rock Lobster," he wouldn't be threatening war so much. If Congress had an each-morning ritual of dancing to "Love Shack" they'd more readily solve our budgetary problems.

 If the pro and anti-gun lobbied would only listen to "Quiche Lorraine" that insanely wonderful B-52s song about a dog dyed dark green wearing designer jeans with appliques on them, they wouldn't argue so much.

And let's hope the drug cartels just go live in their own Private Idaho and live underground like a wild potato.

For your enjoyment, I give you some insanity to maintain your sanity: The video to "Rock Lobster"

Here comes a bikini whale!!!! AAAYYEEEE!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Everything's Too Complicated. Does That Mean They're Out To Get You?

For the life of me, I, like millions of people, can't understand all manners of modern life and commerce. Hospital bills. Insurance. Cable television and smart phone contracts. How to assemble furniture or whatever else I might order on line.

Why can't anyone write instructions or documents in English?  Why do they make it all so complicated?
You think she's confused? I  lose it every time
I try to read a banking or cell phone contract. Why? 

Along these lines, there was an interesting article by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn last week in the Wall Street Journal talking about how simplicity would be a nice switch, but also why they're not expecting any turn toward easy anytime soon.

I found myself saying "Amen" to their article.

Part or the problem, according to Siegel and Etzkorn, is there are many choices out there. Perhaps too many. Have you seen the cereal or toothpaste aisle of a grocery store lately? And on line, it's worse. Everything is available. How do you choose?

More insidious is the verbiage we have to wade through which of course I don't trust. You know what I mean. Those smart phone contracts, again. Anything you do online.

Siegel and Etzkorn write:

"In 1980, the typical credit card contract was about 400 words long. Today, many are 20,000 words. 'Fine print' complexity costs us money in the form of hidden fees (about $900 per year for the average consumer, according to research conducted by the Ponemon Institute), denied claims and unanticipated charges ($2 billion in one year for landline phone customers, according to the Federal Communications Commission.)

To me,  anything that's excessively complex, worded in dense, incomprehensible legalese and goes on and on to me is a sign that they're trying to snow me over.

Or, as the article continues:

"Complexity is the coward's way out. But there is nothing simple about simplicity, and achieving it requires following three major principles: empathizing (by perceiving others' needs and expectations), distilling (by reducing to its essence the substance of one's offer) and clarifying (by making the offering easier to understand or use)

Good luck with any of these principles. Empathizing? Yeah, right. How many times have you struggled with a so-called customer service representative who can't or won't solve your simple problem but keeps giving you that insincere crap, "We're sorry you are experiencing problems...."

It's not the CSR's fault: They have to follow a script. Or else. And the script often does everything possible to help the company in question avoid helping any customers. Helping customers costs more. Can't have that!

And I despair at any chance of companies distilling and clarifying the verbiage they put out there. Have you checked your cell phone contract lately?

Siegel and Etzkorn are a bit optimistic about a resurgence of simplicity, citing outfits like Trader Joe's and to an extent, Google, for making things a bit more clear and a bit less overwhelming.  Outfits like the Pew Charitable Trust are working on simplified model documents that explain things like banking fees, that several large banks are interested in, the pair report.

I still wonder if the banks are THAT interested in simplified documents, but we'll see.

Now I have to go, and spend the rest of the day trying to figure out some tax documents that I know would take an advanced CPA days to figure out. Sigh.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Road Rage Incident Exasperating, Then You Learn A Sad Backstory

A video going viral shows a Marine near Camp Pendleton going absolutely bonkers with rage following a fender bender on a highway.
A still from the Marine road rage incident shows
the Marine outside the car while the victim/driver
sits stone faced in the vehicle.

As people sit silently in the car that rear ended the Marine vehicle, you see the Marine just totally losing his shit.

News reports from ABC 10 out of San Diego indicate the Marine might have caused the crash by slamming on his brakes abruptly in the early stages of the road rage incident.

At first, you think, "What a moron." as he goes on and on. But there's something off, even more so than you'd see in a standard issue adult temper tantrum. His voice rises. Amid his rage, you feel like he's going to cry, that maybe there's an element of fear in his incoherent anger.

The television station also reported the Marine might have PTSD. ABC 10 interviewed Psychologist Dr. Michael Mantell, who said he thought the Marine might have something called "intermittent explosive disorder."

"It's where you have these explosive, unpremeditated outburts of anger Mantell told 10News. "These are people who thrown things, they break things, they inflict harm on others.
......PTSD is never a defense or an excuse said Mantell. It may be an explanation."

Meanwhile, the unnamed, unseen woman in the car videoing this display is herself a Marine, injured in war, paralyzed from the waist down, according to media reports. The guy behind the wheel is her brother and caregiver.

The angry Marine, a Sargeant, has been charged by military police with communicating a threat, and more charges are possible, according to local media.

I was torn about showing all this because maybe it's a little exploitive. But boy, if any of what ABC 10 has been reporting about the people involved, it's clear the damage from war reaches far beyond Iraq and Afghanistan and lands on our doorstep in scary, unpredictable and sad ways.

Here's the video