"When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'." — Groucho Marx
Halloween- Things That Frighten Me
This a list of things that have frightened me in my life. Some are still relevant and some are not. But I thought that it might be interesting to just throw them all out there to see what they look like during daylight hours. P.S. I have explanations for all of these, but I may not include them on the list. Why? I just don't feel like it. :)
- The Dark.
- The Amityville Horror scared me.
- Oscar the Grouch
- Bigfoot- The one from the Bionic Man television Show. He gave Steve Austin plenty of trouble.
- The Creature in the Legend of Boggy Creek
- A couple of dogs that chased me on my paper route.
- The homeless guy from the park.
- V.L.- He and I got into a fight in high school. I pretty much kicked his ass up and down the corridor, but I do remember shaking with adrenalin afterwards. For about two weeks I was concerned that I was going to have to face him and his older brother again.
- Having my heart broken again.
- Breaking someone's heart.
- Not being able to provide for my family.
- Letting my children down.
- Not making it to the bathroom in time.
- Finding out that I have a child that I didn't know about.- Ladies this is never a problem for you, but we men wonder about this sometimes.
- Being mugged at an ATM- When I was in college a guy was murdered at the ATM I used that day. It was several hours after I had used it, but....
- Something happening to my children.
- Getting stuck at a job I hate.
- Never living out my dreams.
- Being paralyzed.
- Losing a parent/close friend or family member- Actually I have lost several friends and family members, but it is still a fear.
- Being eaten alive or mauled seriously by a hog. (But I won't go down easily, so sirree Bob.)
- Losing my perspective on life and why most of these things are nonsense.
My Children Are Growing Up Too Quickly
He is not quite six, what the hell is wrong with me. I have years to go, but for a moment this morning he just seemed so mature. I am not ready to give this time up yet.
Most Lucrative Jobs For College Grads
"These salary increases combined with the results of a recent poll of Salary Survey participants indicate that 2005-06 has been the best job market in the past four years," said NACE executive director Marilyn Mackes in a statement.
According to the survey, majors that have seen some of the biggest increases in average starting salaries are:
Information sciences and systems: Up 7.5 percent to $47,182
Economics/finance: Up 6.2 percent to $44,588
Civil engineering: Up 5.3 percent to $46,084
Chemical engineering: Up 4.9 percent to $56,269
Accounting: Up 4.6 percent to $44,928
Business administration/management: Up 4.2 percent to $41,155
History: Up 4.2 percent to $33,071
Project Valour-IT- A Worthy Cause
Every cent raised for Project Valour-IT goes directly to the purchase and shipment of voice-activated laptops for wounded servicemembers. As of October 2006, Valour-IT has distributed nearly 600 laptops to severely wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines across the country.
During its initial phase, Valour-IT created "libraries" of laptops equipped with voice-controlled software for the severely wounded staying at major military medical centers. In many cases a laptop was provided to a wounded hero for permanent use.
Valour-IT is continuing to accept donations of any amount to supply the "libraries" of laptops at major medical centers and gifts to individuals, but has also added the option of an individual or organization directly sponsoring a wounded soldier by completely funding the cost of a laptop and continuing to provide him or her with personal support and encouragement throughout recovery. This has proved to be an excellent project for churches, groups of coworkers or friends, and members of community organizations such Boy Scouts.
Most recently thanks to the efforts of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Valour-IT is now able to reach personnel in VA hospitals who would benefit from a Valour-IT laptop.
Wounded military personnel can request a laptop through the sign-up form if they are recovering at home or in military hospitals, or through the Valour-IT/Soldiers' Angels representatives if they are patients at the following medical centers:
Balboa Naval Hospital
Brooke Army Medical Center
Madigan Regional Medical Center
National Naval Medical Center (Bethesda Naval Hospital)
Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton
Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital (29 Palms)
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
The Darker Side of YouTube
Tens of thousands if not millions of people hoped to cash in on one of the major hits. I can remember many conversations with friends who anxiously hoped that their options would materialize into millions, or at least enough cash to buy some large ticket item like a car or home.
Just when you thought those days were long gone YouTube has brought back the memories. In less than two years it skyrocketed into our awareness evolving from a small start-up into a serious player and then a major acquisition.
If you spend any time on this blog you are certainly aware that I am a fan of their service. I have taken great joy in exploring some of the videos. They have been a fine addition to my blog and I have enjoyed sharing them with my readers.
Recently I have grown a bit disillusioned with the service. There is a darker side. The racists and bigots have found the service to be a good place to try and promote their vile rhetoric. Modern day Goebbels have taken advantage of the medium and are doing what they can to push their propaganda.
I find it troubling. I find it disturbing and I shake my head. Call me what you will, but I have limited faith in the ability of many to recognize the poison that these snakes are advancing as fact. They clothe their words in the finest raiment and sprinkle them with sugar coating.
Videos lauding white power are mixed with the rantings and ravings of the mad mullahs. Jihadists wield their cyber scimitars right next to others who promise death to those who have different beliefs.
It is troubling to me for a variety of reasons. I am a staunch proponent of the First Amendment. I believe in the Marketplace of Ideas.
The "marketplace of ideas" is a rationale for freedom of expression based on an analogy to the economic concept of a free market. The "marketplace of ideas" belief holds that the truth or the best policy arises out of the competition of widely various ideas in free, transparent public discourse, an important part of liberal democracy.Yet, as I already mentioned I have limited faith in the ability of the general public to use logic and critical thought. So while I do believe in the the competition of ideas and that one should be able to say most anything, I am also quite concerned about where this can lead.
Ultimately I do come back to a place where I have to believe in the idea that with a little help society can come to the right conclusion, but that is still a bit uncomfortable for me. Did you notice that I said that with a little help society can come to the right conclusion?
It was intentional. I am aware that it sounds quite arrogant, but we live in times that call for strong measures. I still feel the same way I did when I wrote that you can be moral without being religious and I agree that some things are morally superior.
I am going to keep using YouTube and I am going to keep an eye on the videos that are presented there. The freedom we have is precious and I do believe that we have a responsibility to help protect it.
Perhaps this blog or some other will be the thing that helps to prevent us from losing more souls to the siren calls of the dark side.
We shall see.
Did You Listen to Abba?
Children Should Not Receive Sex Toys
"Tesco has been forced to remove a pole-dancing kit from the toys and games section of its website after it was accused of "destroying children's innocence".
The Tesco Direct site advertises the kit with the words, "Unleash the sex kitten inside...simply extend the Peekaboo pole inside the tube, slip on the sexy tunes and away you go!
"Soon you'll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars".
The £49.97 kit comprises a chrome pole extendible to 8ft 6ins, a 'sexy dance garter' and a DVD demonstrating suggestive dance moves."
Star Wars Audition Tapes
Math Geeks Beat Lotto
"MOST of us believe winning lotto is down to the luck of the draw.But a syndicate of university professors and tutors in Britain thought it could also be related to the principles of mathematical probability.
And their theory was spectacularly vindicated this week when they matched all six numbers and scooped the $13 million lotto jackpot.
The syndicate, made up of 17 staff members at Bradford University and College, bagged the big prize by using two boxes, 49 pieces of paper and a large amount of brainpower.
But it was far from an overnight success.
Syndicate leader Barry Waterhouse, 41, who works at the design and printing section of the university, explained that the syndicate had been doing the National Lottery for eight years without conspicuous success after it started in 1994 with each member picking his or her own line.
"We just weren't winning with the numbers being picked that way, so we thought of a different method which would mean all 49 numbers would be used,' Mr Waterhouse said.
The syndicate then set up a computer program to check the numbers every week.
It took four years and a total outlay of $8700, but on Saturday, the formula succeeded.
Matching the winning numbers and the bonus ball, they hit the jackpot."
Click here for the rest of the story.
Vampires a Mathematical Impossibility, Scientist Says
"A researcher has come up with some simple math that sucks the life out of the vampire myth, proving that these highly popular creatures can't exist.
University of Central Florida physics professor Costas Efthimiou's work debunks pseudoscientific ideas, such as vampires and zombies, in an attempt to enhance public literacy. Not only does the public believe in such topics, but the percentages are at dangerously high level, Efthimiou told LiveScience.
Legend has it that vampires feed on human blood and once bitten a person turns into a vampire and starts feasting on the blood of others.
Efthimiou's debunking logic: On Jan 1, 1600, the human population was 536,870,911. If the first vampire came into existence that day and bit one person a month, there would have been two vampires by Feb. 1, 1600. A month later there would have been four, and so on. In just two-and-a-half years the original human population would all have become vampires with nobody left to feed on.
If mortality rates were taken into consideration, the population would disappear much faster. Even an unrealistically high reproduction rate couldn't counteract this effect."
Does Blogging Make You Feel Obligated?
The reason for this is that they now feel that they have an obligation to respond to all of the comments and a responsibility to continue to produce new content for their readers.
What do you think?
Great Names For a Blog
What Do You Call Your Blog?
What I Want For My Children & Random Thoughts
Don't misunderstand, he loves her too and he appreciates the attention. Yet like most big brothers he has his moments in which he wishes that she wasn't always around to bug him and his friends.
A few weeks ago we were at the park. I love to sit there and watch them play. I like seeing them interact with the other children. It is important that they learn how to socialize and get along with others. They need to learn how to take of themselves and how to solve problems. That is why when I see them have disagreements with others I like to sit back and see if they can handle it. It is good for them.
On this particular day I saw another little girl pushed my daughter. And then I saw the advantage of having a big brother. He came running over to defend his sister. He wasn't going to allow anyone to push or take advantage of her. I should add that the little girl who pushed my daughter tried to push him too. She didn't get very far before my daughter screamed at her to leave her brother alone.
This took all of two minutes. It wasn't a big deal. Just one of those silly playground incidents. The girl's mother was there as was I. It took us parents all of one minute to straighten it out. To quote Chick Hearn, "No Harm, No Foul."
But what I really was happiest about was seeing that my children have learned to look out for each other. It made me proud to see them defend and care for each other. Obviously I don't want them to get into fights or any sort of situation in which they can get hurt, but things are going to happen. There is a certain comfort level knowing that they already have a bond.
I want this bond to continue. I hope that the sibling love carries itself into a nice friendship. I don't plan on dying any time soon, but the time will come when I really won't be around any longer.
I was 35 when my daughter was born. By the time she is in high school I will be about 50. If I want to keep the boys in line I am really going to have to dive back into working out. I remember being a high school boy. I remember the fathers of the girls I dated. I had no fear of any of them. I was young and dumb.
Say, do you think that in 15 years the Godfather will still be big? Maybe I can tell those boys that come seeking my daughter's attention that my name is Don Vito. When they walk into the room I'll tell them about my brother Fredo.
Reality check. You see the thing about being a parent is that you have this incredible love. There is a depth that you can't really explain. There is this incredible pride and joy that comes with it too. And then on top of that is the most bone chilling fear you can imagine that G-d forbid something might happen to your child. The fear of that pain and loss can really eat away at you.
So you do what you can to just let it go. You remind yourself that the population of the world is not shrinking and that thankfully tragedy doesn't happen to everyone. But at the same time there is that little voice. You read blogs that are written by other fathers/mothers and you see that people just like yourself suffered an unimaginable loss.
It is enough to make you completely neurotic. But again, only if you let it.
Let my children be safe, be healthy and let them know the joy/love of a sibling.
On a different tack I want my children to understand and appreciate the value of an education. To be perfectly candid I don't care about grades. They are relatively meaningless to me. For a brief time in your life they are an over hyped and overstated measurement that you have to deal with.
No, what I want is my children to love to learn because of the pure joy and satisfaction that it brings into your life.
I want my children to grow up to be people of character and integrity. I told my son that people cannot take your honor, your dignity or your integrity. They cannot truly be stolen, but if you let them they can be lost. It is a little sophisticated for a boy who is almost 6, but it is important.
My son and daughter learned long ago about daddy's secret. I hope that one day they can share this secret with their own children.
There was more to this post, but I couldn't bring myself to keep it. I think that I am going to just cut this off here.
An Eruv At The Beach
"An Orthodox synagogue with the ambitious desire to enclose much of Santa Monica, Venice and Marina del Rey within a religious boundary known as an eruv has come up against a barrier some say is as immutable as the Torah itself: the California Coastal Commission.Ok, now you know part of the story. Feelings about erecting the eruv are mixed as some feel that it could post a danger to the birds and an eyesore.
The Pacific Jewish Center in Venice wants to string fishing line between lampposts and sign poles for several miles through the coastal communities, creating a symbolic unbroken boundary.Orthodox Jews within the boundary can consider themselves to be "at home" on the Sabbath. That eases restrictions of the holy day and allows people to carry food, push strollers and bring their house keys with them when they go out.
Such lines have been up for years in religious neighborhoods throughout the world. A large eruv encompasses a swath of Hollywood, Hancock Park, West Hollywood, Westwood, Beverly Hills and surrounding communities.
But never has anyone in Southern California attempted to run an eruv along the beach — and this has created debate.
The Coastal Commission staff has recommended against the enclosure, saying it could compromise the nesting area of a rare bird and obstruct views of the ocean. Leaders of the Venice synagogue are negotiating this week with commission officials in an effort to reach a compromise.
The request to create the eruv along the ocean raises tricky issues of religious freedom, coastal regulations and environmental protections. The discussion is occurring in a city that has the second-largest Jewish population in the nation and a state known for its tough environmental laws."
Maybe what they really need to do is consult with Jameel about some innovative ways to overcome religious challenges.
A Little Notoriety For The Shack
For me part of the fun of the blogosphere is the element of surprise. You never really know what you are going to find or for that matter who might find you. In theory my quiet little corner of cyberspace could find its way into the homes and offices of tens of millions, or not.
All of this is a long winded way to say that this morning I learned that the Shack is being featured along with other bloggers in a column at CBSNEWS.
It is called Bloggers Eye Skimpy Halloween Garb.
Anyway, I thought that I would pass the news along. A hearty welcome to all of you first time visitors. The title of the blog is accurate. This blog does contain random thoughts and comments about all sorts of things.
Over on the right side of the page there are some drop down menus that contain some of my better posts. You are welcome to take a look around and hang out for a bit. Thanks for stopping by.
The Joy of Being a Beneficiary- Don't Scam Me Dude
Attention: Bequest Beneficiaryand my reply:
We act as solicitors and our services have been retained by Henry Cox, now late here in after referred to asour client. On behalf of late Henry Cox, I write to notify you that my late client made you a beneficiary to the bequest sum of One Million Seven Hundred Thousand British Pounds in the codicil to his will and last testament.
Henry Cox, died on 8th day February 2005 after a brief illness at the age of 85. Until his death he was consultant to several oil and gas industries. He had a sojourn in the United States and so many other countries before he came to Cairn Energy PLC an oil and gas exploration and production company based in the United Kingdom. He was a knight in the Church and belonged to several non-governmental and scientific organizations. He was also great philanthropist and a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club International.
This bequest is to support your activities,humanitarian services and help to the less- privileged. In accordance with our inheritance laws you are required to apply for claims through this law firm to Finance House United Kingdom, where this fund was deposited. We are perfecting arrangements to complete the transfer of this inheritance to you. You are required to forward the following details of yours; full names, address, occupation, age, phone and fax numbers for verification and re-
confirmation.Please acknowledge the receipt of this letter immeditely.
Evans Norman Esq.
Dynamic law firm
Solicitors & advocates
Monomark house,25 old glouecster street,
Note: As your solicitor I please advice to keep this information from member of the public until your inheritance is duely claimed. You can reach this office Direct no +44 703 194 1090
Dear Evans Norman,And a short response.
I was most pleased to receive this correspondence from you. I see from your signature that you are a dynamic law firm. That is most pleasing because I am a dynamic duo. I am the Bishop of Bullfrog and duly blessed by the his most royal holiness, the Dynamic Don. This is why some refer to me as being BOB the Double D.
As you can imagine being referred to as Bob the Double D has occasionally led to some confusion. From time to time men of a lascivious nature have contacted me as they have been interested in explaining how good they can make me feel. So I am somewhat concerned that when Bob the Double D is revealed as the heir of Cox it might create some awkward situations.
Be that as it may, it is with an open heart and a size 12 boot that I greet your note. I would be pleased to both submit and send the information that you have requested. However due to terrible misfortune Bob The Double D has been forced to declare simulated abject poverty and requires your assistance.
What I require is a small token of your appreciation of the fortune I am going to help you acquire and dispurse. $5,000 American dollars should be sufficient to bring me to a place in which I can easily, happily, gratefully and thankfully assist you in your efforts.
May I anticipate your assistance?
My very best intentions,
Bob The Double D.
Mercy be upon us all. You are required to forward the following details of yours; full names, address, occupation, age, phone and fax numbers for verification and re-
confirmation. This will allow us to help you.
Evans Norman Esq.
Dynamic law firm
Solicitors & advocates
Monomark house,25 old glouecster street,
Visions of Paradise
"Visions Of Paradise"
"Don't tell me when
Something is beautiful
And don't tell me how to
Talk to my friends
Just tell me the names of
The stars in the sky
What's your favourite song
Tell me the names of the
Lovers you had
Before I came along
Don't put your arms around me
And don't hold me tight
'Cause I could get used to
Your vision of paradise
And don't ask me where
All of the pain goes
'Cause you make me feel
That I don't know myself
You say that you want me forever
And I say that love is no crime
So tell me the names of the children
We'll have at the end of the line
So don't put your arms around me
And don't hold me tight
'Cause I could get used to
Your vision of paradise
And don't let me near the garden
Of earthly delights
'Cause I could get used to
Your vision of paradise
Just use your heart not your head
While I fall apart in my bed
I find myself aching for you
I feel myself breaking in two
So don't tell me when I should
Come on home
There might be a time you don't
Want me around
Don't build your world around me
And don't hold me tight
'Cause I could get used to
Your vision of paradise"
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Heather McCartney to sue British papers
Am I the only person wondering if the selection of this picture was intentional. Maybe.
And now for some commentary on the article.
"She is pursued everywhere she goes. She is stalked by press photographers, who congregate outside her home and chase after her in cars — regardless of her safety or the safety of her daughter," her lawyers said.I am not a fan of the paparazzi. We give celebrities far too much credit. But at the same time I am a realist. Look who she married. Did she really expect to be able to live a normal life. C'mon.
Somewhere Paul is banging his head against a wall. I can hear him muttering to himself.
"First I had to deal with Lennon bloke taking credit for my work, not to mention his crazy lady. And now this."
Ok, maybe those aren't his exact words, but right about now he just might wish that the "Paul is dead" rumors were true.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
I Wish That I Could Write As Well As You
Anyway, today I received an email that had a much different tone to it.
Dear Jack,Dear Reader,
I am another reader who visits your blog from time to time. I would like to commend you for it as I am constantly impressed by how you continue to produce such high quality pieces. I have my own blog at www.iwishiwasyou.com (editor's note, not the real URL) and would love to find out your seckrets.
How do you write so well and so often? Can you share any tips with me?
Thank you for all that you do. You make me smile.
First off let me say that I am very appreciative of your kind words. I do not have any secrets to share with you. All of my advice is obvious, but here is what I recommend that you do.
- Write, write, write. Writing well requires practice. Keep plugging and pushing. This will serve you well.
- Don't be afraid to edit your work. It can always be improved upon. I rarely edit, but that is laziness on my part. BTW, if you have trouble with spelling be extra careful to check your work.
- Read, read, read. It is always useful to see how others construct their tales.
- Build your vocabulary. It gives you more tools to use. One caveat, be careful in how you use the new words in your lexicon. Misusing a word can make you look foolish.
I hope that this helps.
Are You Happy With How You Look?
Now that we have gotten the standard response out of the way let's go back to the question. Are you happy with how you look?
I'll start. Nope, I am not happy about it. There are a variety of reasons why. I suppose that the primary is that in my mind's eye I see a 20 year-old. Ok, I don't really see my face, but I can see the body. I see the six pack abs, arms that were made of steel, broad shoulders that led into a wide back and small waist.
Physically that guy was in incredible shape. No responsibilities made it easy to spend large chunks of time working out, not to mention a metabolism that made it easy to eat with reckless abandon.
Now when I look at myself I see remnants of the body that was. The back and shoulders look the same. The arms aren't cut like they used to be, but the natural strength of this Taurean body remains. The midsection isn't so pretty. It is a little doughy there. If I flex I can see the outlines of the six pack that used to be there, but as soon as I relax the evidence disappears.
I don't like it. I don't like some of the things that have come with age. The hair on my head has begun to migrate to other parts of my body. A follicle disengagement is under way. I have offered subsidized housing near my forehead, but for some reason it is not all that popular.
Yet the reality is that although it bothers me, it is not enough to influence my eating habits and routine. I could do more to change. Age is not the sole reason I don't look like that guy any more. I am married and a father, but that is not enough to explain this state of affairs.
So the only conclusion that I can come to is that I am bothered by this but not enough to change my habits. Well, that is how it has been. My goal is to change that. My desire is to do what I need to do to rectify the situation, not because of the superficiality of it, but because of common health issues.
I don't have any health problems now, but that is not going to last forever. So here is the goal for the coming holiday season. I am going to work hard to not over indulge. I am going to work on trying to create a modern version of that 20 year old.
The goal is be able to still play ball with my children well into my 50's and beyond so the time to start is now.
English As a Second Language
"What is that one you say, you know the one about the prick in the haystack." That one made me smile.
Love Makes You Feel Alive
Imagine you are lying in bed. The room is so dark that it is hard to see the silhouette of your own body. There is a loud rumble overhead that is joined by the relaxing pitter-patter of rainfall. You are not alone. There is a person lying next to you. Their touch is electric. Their presence simultaneously sends your pulse racing and your spirit soaring.
Do you remember what it feels like to be kissed so hard it takes your breath away. Do you remember what it feels like to have your heart pound so loudly you are sure that it might burst from your chest. That electric tingle that makes your knees go weak.
The certainty that this single moment will last for an eternity. An endless night in which your companion's soft and rhythmic breathing lulls you to sleep.
Cover Letters from Hell
"Objective: To work in a challenging environment that allows me to use my imaginatiation....Click here for more.
Education: ______ Collage, B.A. expected, June 2003."
"I also have a degree English which serves me well in editing text for poor grammer or typos."
"I am seeking a new position as i have recently been laid."
"I have a plethora of tenured skills which I know would benefit your clients/organization."
Blogging Can Help You Make/Lose Friends
One of the reasons that I blog is that I enjoy the interaction with others. Without this medium I assuredly would never come into contact with so many interesting people that I feel privileged to have met, albeit in the virtual world.
In a post here or on his own blog Psychotoddler referred to blogging as targeted socializing. The concept is simple enough to understand. Blogging is another medium that makes it easy to determine who we would like to get to know better. In theory it makes it relatively easy to form relationships, friendships even.
And that is where things can get interesting.
Think about how friendships develop. To be more specific, consider how adult friendships develop. It could be someone that you meet at the office, the gym, synagogue or perhaps through a book club or other group you participate in. In general over time you begin to develop a friendship with them, but typically there are some significant distinctions in how you do that compared to what happens in the blogosphere.
In the blogosphere our personal boundaries are a little bit more relaxed. Often blogs contain personal stories or thoughts on politics and religion. Perhaps these are things that you would share with a friend, but in general you would probably be slower to release some of this information. It is natural to be a bit more guarded in person than here in the virtual world.
So what happens is that the so called natural rhythm and pace of information exchange between people is accelerated. Not only is it accelerated but it is provided in a format that makes it more difficult to understand. Sarcasm doesn't always translate well. Attempts at humor may fail. There are no verbal clues to help provide an explanation of the true meaning of your words.
Example: You discover a new blog and become a regular visitor. For the sake of the example let's say that you consider this blogger to be witty, erudite and a very fine writer. It quickly becomes one of your favorite stops on your blogroll, until one fateful day when they offend you.
It is the day that they write a post that completely denigrates you as a person. It is a day in which they espouse a political point of view that you find so heinous you cannot begin to explain how ugly they have now become.
I suspect that it happens to all of us. I am sure that there are former readers of the Shack around the blogosphere, not because the blog jumped the shark but because they were upset by something that I wrote.
It is kind of interesting to me. In theory they could be offended by something that they never would have heard me say. It might be my real opinion or it might be a complete misunderstanding.
It is interesting to me because while my blog contains some insights into who I am, what I like, what I believe, what scares me etc, it still is not me.
It is interesting because as real as the virtual world can be it is still not reality. It is interesting to me because I have met some bloggers and I have made some good friends. They have transitioned from cyberspace friends in-person personal friends.
What do you think?
The average American: 1967 and today
"As the U.S. population crossed the 300 million mark sometime around 7:46 a.m. Tuesday (according to the U.S. Census Bureau), the typical family is doing a whole lot better than their grandparents were in 1967, the year the population first surpassed 200 million.
Mr. and Mrs. Median's $46,326 in annual income is 32 percent more than their mid-'60s counterparts, even when adjusted for inflation, and 13 percent more than those at the median in the economic boom year of 1985. And thanks to ballooning real estate values, median household net worth has increased even faster. The typical American household has a net worth of $465,970, up 83 percent from 1965, 60 percent from 1985 and 35 percent from 1995.
Throw in the low inflation of the past 20 years, a deregulated airline industry that's made travel much cheaper, plus technological progress that's provided the middle class with not only better cars and televisions, but every gadget from DVD players to iPods, all at lower and lower prices, and it's obvious that Mr. and Mrs. Median are living the life of Riley compared to their parents and grandparents."
Fake Resumes & The Internet
This link gives all sorts of comments and information about this. There are many life lessons to be learned here. In the information age we live in a time in which information can live forever. The video and story surrounding this man is not going to disappear.
And you can be certain that any time someone conducts online research about Mr. Vayner they will find it.
Anyhoo, here is a link to the video.
Thriller With Legos
He Put a Gun To My Head
Do you remember when the banking industry introduced ATMs. The automatic teller was a wondrous convenience. No longer would you have to go inside the bank and wait in line for your money. Suddenly it was a two minute procedure and the height of convenience.
Unfortunately the convenience for some became a siren call for malfeasance. You no longer visited certain ATMs because there was no interest in having to pass along your hard earned cash to some low life. At least that is how some people looked at things, there were those others who considered themselves to be bullet proof.
I was one of them. A twenty-something man who feared no one. In the prime of my life I hadn't any reason to be concerned. Bruises, strains, and bumps were momentary inconveniences. No real responsibilities meant that I had ample time to spend in the gym. My body was taut and toned. My cardiovascular system had never been despoiled by smoking.
When you took that hard body and screwed on my hard head it made for an interesting combination of young, dumb and stupid. I went where I pleased because I knew that anyone who made the mistake of accosting me would find themselves in dire need of a visit to a chiropractor.
My youthful naivete is really what saved me. When I felt that gun against my temple I wasn't smart enough to be afraid. The thought of dying didn't even register. No, what did was irritation followed by extreme anger. What the fuck did this asshole think he was doing. Not only was I not going to give him any money, I was going to take that gun and shove it so far up his ass he didn't dare belch for fear of blowing away his lips.
Things didn't exactly work out the way either of us planned. As I turned to face him he used the butt of the gun on the side of my head. At least, I think that is what happened. I am not really sure, but I do know that I was surprised to find myself on the ground.
I am sure that he was even more surprised when I responded by using my right hand to try and turn him into a modern day eunuch.
Together we rolled around the ground. Each one of us fighting to gain the advantage on the other. Something hard kept slamming into my kidneys. Each time I felt pain shooting inside me, but I refused to let go of him. I could hear someone screaming in anger, but I couldn't make out what they were saying. I was too busy trying to separate his arm from his shoulder.
The scuffle felt like it took hours, but the tape from the ATM showed it wasn't more than five minutes. It even showed the swing I took at the police officers who tried to break up the fight. Note to self, it is not wise to hit a cop because they will respond.
The justice system in this country is funny and not in the "I can't stop laughing sense." When it was all said and done I looked like I had driven my car over the side of Laurel Canyon and he was comatose. The D.A. said that it was self-defense and that I wouldn't have to worry about it, but his family claimed otherwise and filed a multimillion dollar civil case against me.
That was seven years and more than $1 million in legal fees ago. The story is not nearly done. It is not over by a long shot. His mother has sworn to see me "go down hard" and she has the money to pursue this.
Maybe I should have handled this differently. We don't always see how the actions we take in our youth can follow us into the future. But you cannot screw an old head on young shoulders and life is what it is.
What can I tell you, he put a gun to my head.
(This was a work of flash fiction. I wrote it in 22 minutes. It hasn't been edited and appears in its original format.)
I Should Be Sleeping
So here I am at the keyboard, listening to the Blue Man Group. I know, it is not exactly the kind of music that relaxes you. OTOH, when I feel amped up like this I kind of need some kind of beat to listen to. It is counter intuitive, but the pound and pump has a way of bringing me back to where I want to be. Or more simply put it slowly takes the edge off.
My daughter is heading towards 2.5. She is smart, beautiful and all attitude. Right now she is a little queen, a mistress of the household. It is one of the very few times in life that most of us get to act like that and get away with it. The sad thing is that we don't appreciate it.
Today she demanded cookies for breakfast. When I refused to submit to her will she screamed at me and then told her mother that "daddy is a very bad boy."
I had to laugh. I told her that if it made her feel better she could be angry with me. Here is my late night confession. That is standard fare from Jack. There are millions of people who have heard that line and the one that follows, "I won't lose any sleep over it."
Men, you are welcome to use it but be prepared for the response. I have yet to meet a woman who wasn't incensed by it. Maybe that is why I use it. ;) Or not. I'll leave the self-analysis for a different night.
My son told me that he is the smartest person in the house because he is the only one who goes to school. I reminded him that his sister goes to school as well and then he said that her brain doesn't work right. So I asked him how he knew this and he said that everyone knows that 1, 2, 3, and 4 year olds have brains that don't work right. Funny how it stopped at his current age.
So then I told him that I never have stopped learning and he said that he was still smarter because everyone knows that adults have old brains. Maybe that is why I am not in bed sleeping, my old brain.
My niece suggested that if I bought her a gift for her birthday I would be her favorite uncle. So I asked if he she had made the same suggestion to her other uncles and she said yes. Ah, the beauty of a four year old, the lack of duplicity is refreshing.
My eldest nephew told me that he wishes his mother would stop kissing him goodbye. He is a big boy now and she needs to leave the baby stuff to his brother. Can't wait to tell my sister. She is not going to like it at all. Of course I could leave it to my self, but what fun would that be. More than 30 years ago I told her that as her big brother I was legally entitled to tease her forever. I don't want to look like a liar.
Ok, I am going to try and catch some sleep now.
Teaching kids to fight back against classroom invaders
BURLESON, Texas (AP) -- Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth, Texas, school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded if a gunman invades the classroom, but to rush him and hit him with everything they've got -- books, pencils, legs and arms.
"Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success," said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools.
That kind of fight-back advice is all but unheard of among schools, and some fear it will get children killed.
But school officials in Burleson said they are drawing on the lessons learned from a string of disasters such as Columbine in 1999 and the Amish schoolhouse attack in Pennsylvania last week.
The school system in this working-class suburb of about 26,000 is believed to be the first in the nation to train all its teachers and students to fight back, Browne said.
At Burleson -- which has 10 schools and about 8,500 students -- the training covers various emergencies, such as tornadoes, fires and situations where first aid is required. Among the lessons: Use a belt as a sling for broken bones, and shoelaces make good tourniquets.
Students are also instructed not to comply with a gunman's orders, and to take him down.
Browne recommends students and teachers "react immediately to the sight of a gun by picking up anything and everything and throwing it at the head and body of the attacker and making as much noise as possible. Go toward him as fast as we can and bring them down."
Response Options trains students and teachers to "lock onto the attacker's limbs and use their body weight," Browne said. Everyday classroom objects, such as paperbacks and pencils, can become weapons.
"We show them they can win," he said. "The fact that someone walks into a classroom with a gun does not make them a god. Five or six seventh-grade kids and a 95-pound art teacher can basically challenge, bring down and immobilize a 200-pound man with a gun."
I Fought a Bear...And Won
No animal alive shall stand before me. Victory is mine!
I Like Hardboiled Eggs
It may be cliche, but there is no more powerful tool than your own mind. And like every other tool its use is up to the person wielding it. Think about your greatest fear. Consider that thing or things that makes your chest tighten up and your muscles clench. Psychology teaches that sometimes the best way to overcome your fear is to confront it.
But what do you do when you are unable to put a face on it. How do you deal with it when you cannot put a name to it, when you fail to identify it. Think about how much more frightening the strange bump or scream in the night is than the same sound during the day.
Creak. Scrape. Squeak.
If you close your eyes you can feel their hot breath on your neck. You sense the presence looming behind you. It is the same feeling you get walking through a dark parking lot. That little tickle that suggests you walk faster. It takes control, oh so much control to prevent yourself from sprinting to the safety of your car.
It is a struggle to maintain your calm, but somehow you manage. A fumbling hand reaches out, key extended towards the lock and then...
A Free Hug Cannot Be Outlawed
If I had the patience I'd find it and link to it. In the interim thanks to Rach for bringing this to my attention.
I Hate Filing
I can already hear some of you. I know all about the "file as you go" system. I do that. I am not unorganized. Ask me where a particular paper is and I can tell you. Need information, not a problem I can get it to you in a timely fashion.
Still, I find this to be exceptionally tedious. It is just one of those things that I can find a million reasons not to do. My feelings on this are not quite as strong as my grandfather's were. He really disliked it.
Grandpa was known to use the stuff the shoebox method of filing. The good old shoebox was a source of great stress to my father, the Virgo.
Dad takes organization to new levels. It is an art form and a necessary evil. I have to tell you that as I sit here at the keyboard I am chuckling just thinking about it. I might have even guffawed once or twice.
The memories of my father trying to convince my grandfather to adjust his filing system are quite pleasant. Just to give some background here, both my grandfather and father were/are blue eyed men.
My siblings and I learned at an early age that when dad's eyes got that steely glare he was serious. You didn't want to receive the glare. Most often the recipient was yours truly. It wasn't always pleasant, but then again no child wants to be disciplined for misbehaving.
My grandfather's eyes usually twinkled. Quite often the twinkle was matched with a whimsical smirk. He had a look that made you wonder just what made him so happy, you couldn't help but want to be let in on the joke.
Filing was the reason that the twinkle and smirk would sometimes go up against the glare. It wasn't a fair fight. The glare always lost to the twinkle and smirk. My father had too much respect for his father to push too hard. He would only go so far before he gave up.
It is a trait that has been passed down through the generations. My grandfather talked of his disagreements with his father so I know from those stories how things went. And I know from my own experience with my father. We have battled. We have engaged in a mighty test of wills, but in the end I know how far to push. It is an issue of respect.
You know, I'd write more about this but I really have to get to filing. Have I mentioned how much I dislike it. I think that in terms of chores one of the few things I dislike more is doing the dishes. Given the choice I might eat off paper plates for the rest of my life.
See you later. There is a stack of paid bills that needs to be taken care of.
It is Legal To Murder Your Neighbor
Your Blog Has Jumped The Shark
Dear Jack,Hi James,
I have been an avid reader of your blog for more than a year now. In all of this time I have never emailed you or left any comments because I didn't have anything to say. I really am more of a stay behind the scenes kind of person.
I wanted to let you know that because I like your blog I have tried not to stop reading it. It hasn't been an easy thing becuase I think that it has jumped the shark. There are only so many long, wordy posts that I can read and they just aren't funny any more. Id like it better if you could be funny again. Take more time to write and think about what you are doing or if you cannot do that just give up. the blog is a sad character now.
Happy new year,
Thank you for the feedback. I have a few ideas on some funny things I could do. Perhaps you'd like to star in a YouTube video. We could remake some of Jackass stunts, starring you. That might be funny.
Or maybe you could submit your own material because you probably are a funny guy. I have to go now. This bitter old blogger needs a good cry.
I Locked My Keys in the Car
Step #1: Lock your keys in your car. Bonus points for those who are brave enough to do this in relatively deserted locations.
Step #2: Realize that not only are your keys locked in the car but you are in dire need of a bathroom.
Step #3: Run like a madman through the streets in search of sanctuary.
I'll let you decide what other ingredients should be added to this mix.
I Want To Gouge Out My Eyes
Play This Game At Your Next Party
"Each of the bugs comes with best before dates and they come from carefully selected farms which is better than picking a few out of a nearby garden. A pinch of flavour has also been added to make the experience all the more savoury. Smokey Bacon Crickets and Chilli flavour worm crisps are just a mouthful away."
Deciphering Frequent Flier Programs
In this particular case I woke up jonesing a for a vacation, just a tremendous desire to get away. So I thought that I'd conduct a little investigation of potential getaways. As the cashflow is a little tight right now I decided that I might as well consider using some of the frequent flyer mileage I have accrued.
Sounds simple enough, doesn't it.
Well, don't let that simple sound fool you because the customer oriented airlines have made this into a complex exercise that is better suited as an entrance exam to some secret society. You see in order to determine if I have earned enough miles to qualify for free airfare and hotels I went to their website to review the terms.
The experience rather reminded me of the contract scene in a Night At The Opera. Here is a very brief excerpt of that. If you want to read the whole thing you can find it here.
Driftwood: All right, fine. Now here are the contracts. You just put his name at the top and you sign at the bottom. There's no need of you reading that because these are duplicates.I am sure that you get the picture. I spent a good twenty minutes reviewing it and in no time at all I realized that I didn't learn a single thing at all other than frequent fliers can redeem their mileage for free tickets. Free being the operative word because we all know that these tickets aren't really free.
Fiorello: Yeah, they's a duplicates.
Driftwood: I say they're duplicates.
Fiorello: Why sure they's a duplicates...
Driftwood: Don't you know what duplicates are?
Fiorello: Sure. There's five kids up in Canada.
Driftwood: Well, I wouldn't know about that. I haven't been to Canada in years. Well go ahead and read it.
Fiorello: What does it say?
Driftwood: Well, go on and read it!
Fiorello: You read it.
Driftwood: All right, I'll read it to ya. Can you hear?
Fiorello: I haven't heard anything yet. Did you say anything?
Driftwood: Well, I haven't said anything worth hearing.
Fiorello: Well, that's why I didn't hear anything.
Driftwood: Well, that's why I didn't say anything.
Fiorello: Can you read?
Driftwood (struggling to read the fine print): I can read but I can't see it. I don't seem to have it in focus here. If my arms were a little longer, I could read it. You haven't got a baboon in your pocket, have ya? Here, here, here we are. Now I've got it. Now pay particular attention to this first clause because it's most important. It says the, uh, "The party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part." How do you like that? That's pretty neat, eh?
Fiorello: No, it's no good.
Driftwood: What's the matter with it?
Fiorello: I don't know. Let's hear it again.
Driftwood: It says the, uh, "The party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the party of the first part."
Fiorello: (pausing) That sounds a little better this time.
Driftwood: Well, it grows on ya. Would you like to hear it once more?
Fiorello: Uh, just the first part.
Driftwood: What do you mean? The party of the first part?
Fiorello: No, the first part of the party of the first part.
Driftwood: All right. It says the, uh, "The first part of the party of the first part shall be known in this contract as the first part of the party of the first part shall be known in this contract" - look, why should we quarrel about a thing like this? We'll take it right out, eh?
Fiorello: Yeah, it's a too long, anyhow. (They both tear off the tops of their contracts.) Now, what do we got left?
Driftwood: Well, I got about a foot and a half. Now, it says, uh, "The party of the second part shall be known in this contract as the party of the second part."
So you try and determine what zone your desired destination is in. Then you have to compare the zone to the time of year because that impacts how many miles you need, not to mention what type of ticket you want.
All I know is that by the time this exercise in futility was done I was ready to take a slide rule and use it to smack some sense into the skull of whatever demented individual devised this fercockteh plan. But that is not going to happen because the complaint department is located in lower cleveland and I am just not willing to suffer the indignity of walking through that shantytown.
But enough of this. Onto bigger and better posts.
Sail Around The World
"I have been around the world,
Lookin' for that woman/girl,
Who knows love can endure.
And you know it will. (only once)
When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way.
'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small.
But it's as big as the promise - The promise of a comin' day.
So I'm sailing for tomorrow - My dreams are a dyin'.
And my love is an anchor tied to you - Tied with a silver chain.
I have my ship and all her flags are a flyin'
She is all that I have left - And music is her name."
Southern Cross- Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young)
I love the sea, always have. One of the great joys of growing up in Los Angeles is that the ocean has always been close. It is a source of fascination and comfort to me.
I love to walk barefoot in the surf, to feel it pull on my legs. And as goofy as it sounds, I have always felt it call. My inner geek wants to make a Tolkien reference. If you have spent any time reading his works you know that the Elves always make a trip across the sea. You know that they eventually would go to see Cirdan and begin a new adventure.
In my heart I have felt the urge to get on a ship and sail off into parts unknown. There is something so intriguing about just getting up and going. Every now and then I have had this impulse to just pack up and go, kind of like the guy in Springsteen's Hungry Heart.
Whenever I have dreamt about it I have always pictured myself on some tall ship like the one in the picture above. The work is hard, but fulfilling and I find myself on these incredible adventures throughout the world.
I have been fortunate enough to have friends who sail and this has allowed me to engage in moments of fancy. There is something beautiful and awe inspiring about being out at sea at night. You look around you and there is no sign of land, no sign of the civilization you left behind. It is an endless ocean all around you. The ship rocks gently beneath a starry sky and for a moment in time you experience something special.
Sometimes I dream about it...........
Look Inside Jack's Library
I spent a chunk of time entering som eof the books in my own library. I thought that this would be kind of fun. If you are curious to learn more about what books I own you can find the link here. As I understand it the free service only allows you to list a total of 200 books. At some point in time I need to decide if it is worth a couple of bucks to share more with you.
What is LibraryThing?
LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. You can access your catalog from anywhere—even on your mobile phone. Because everyone catalogs together, LibraryThing also connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, and so forth.
Anyway, I need to give Fern credit for tipping me off to this.
Dating Truths? You Live On a Different Planet
A thousand years ago when I was in the dating world I used to get irritated with this kind of male/female BS. I can remember a thousand conversations with various female friends who would call me in a breathless tizzy to ask me to interpret what the guy they were seeing meant.
"He said that he really liked me and that he had a nice time."
This was followed by a pause and then there would be 1 million details that she had observed about how he said it and what she thought that said about it. Sometimes I expect Leonard Nimoy to step out and begin the lead in for an episode of "In Search Of."
You know sometimes the reason that he squinted while he said that he loved you had nothing behind it other than the sun was shining in his eyes. Sometimes the reason he appeared to squirm when you asked for a committment was not because he didn't want it, but because that great Mexican dinner you just finished was causing a GI issue.
The list goes on and on. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes you can truly accept words at their face value.
Gimme Three Steps- The Old Man Slows Down
I was shakin like a leaf on a tree.
cause he was lean, mean,
Big and bad, lord,
Pointin that gun at me.
I said, wait a minute, mister,
I didnt even kiss her.
Dont want no trouble with you.
And I know you dont owe me
But I wish youd let me
Ask one favor from you.
wont you give me three steps,
Gimme three steps mister,
Gimme three steps towards the door?
Gimme three steps
Gimme three steps mister,
And youll never see me no more."
Gimme Three Steps- Lynrd Skynrd
Editor's note: The song really doesn't apply to this post, but I have been singing it all day long so I thought that I would include it.
The week is almost done. In a short while the old whistle will ring and I'll make like Fred Flintsone and slide down the dinosaur's tale and into a fabulous weekend. As I head to my car I'll notice that my legs feel like they are about to snap off at the waist and I'll wonder if I can get the kink of out my neck and whether that sore feeling I am experiencing is going to continue.
Four days of basketball. Four days of running, jumping and jostling. Four glorious days of testing my will and desire against my opponents. Four days in which I tried hard to convince myself that I am as good as I ever was are now over.
I feel exhilirated. I feel alive and I feel frustrated. The joy of competition and the adrenalin rush I get from playing is outstanding. I do my best to play with people who are better than I am. I like to test myself, test the limits and see where it goes.
This week I grudgingly accepted that in some areas age has caught up with me. It is not easy to admit. My ego hates to accept it, but the sad truth is that I have lost some foot speed. I am just not as quick on my feet as I used to be.
I like to think that if I trained hard enough I could turn it around. I like to think that if I really applied myself and worked at it, I could get back to where I was. The problem is that in order to try and do that I have to make some sacrifices. There is a lot of time involved in this and the only place that I can cut is family time, and that really isn't something that I can cut.
I can't miss any more moments with my children than I already do. FWIW, I don't miss many. It is part of being a father and a priority in my life.
However that doesn't mean that I have to like watching some guy on the court blow by me, especially when I know that if I still had the same foot speed I could keep up or do better. There, I have gone and said it. Now I sound like some of the guys that I used to make fun of. The older men who would brag about how good they used to be.
I don't want to be that guy. I intend to live in the present. I have a plan. I am going to dedicate myself to finding the fountain of youth. Once I go Ponce De Leon I am going to turn the knob back about 15 years or so.
That should work beautifully. Once again I'll run like the wind, eat whatever and whenever I want without a care for how many calories I am consuming. I won't even notice bruises, aches or pains. My super youthful healing system will resume working at hyperspeed and all will be well.
With my new old body I'll have more energy and be ten times more productive. Even better, with all of the wisdom and business sense I have accumulated I'll market my secret across the world. In no time at all I'll be so affluent that I'll be able to do whatever I want.
Maybe I'll go ahead and make myself into an international playboy, the American James Bond. Or maybe I'll just continue to live a simple life.
Ok, I have an active imagination, but why shouldn't I dream. Dreams are part of how we improve the world and ourselves. Who knows, maybe I will find that secret solution. Stay tuned.
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