Monday, November 30, 2009

Welcome to my world

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

Jr. Gopher #1 really likes this

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

... bored yet?

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.
Und als sie dann nach Hause kam,
da hatt´sie weiße Stiefel an.
ABC, die Katze lief im Schnee.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Biblical regulations

"We're also going to bring a transparency to the regulatory jungle that is unprecedented in the federal government," Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao told business owners in a speech on June 2002. "There are more words in the Federal Register describing OSHA regulations than there are words in the Bible. They're a lot less inspired to read and a lot harder to understand. This is not fair."

I try to console my outraged sense of morality and ethics with my mantra:

... one day, you will stand before God and have to explain what you did with your life ... and boy, you will be fucked ...

I also think this is a good touchstone for moral decisions in my own life.

(former) Sec. Chao's primary function as a lawyer was union-busting. Only a Republican toadying to the Christian-zealots would compare the Federal Register with the Bible. The former is the source of all federal regulations, including all of the OSHA & EPA "regulations", i.e. what you need to do to be in compliance with the law. And I'm willing to bet that Ms. Chao hasn't actually read either one, unless it was to figure out how to justify fucking the little guy with the contents.

Of course, pointing to the royally retarded (and I mean that in the scientific sense, as well as the social one) approach to labor laws under Bush II, saying "this is a new administration" rather much ignores the pathetic approach to labor law for the past 40 years. The Democrats aren't any better at this. And they are - in my opinion - sinking just as fast. They have the majority... just Fuck the Republicans and just get on with doing what it right! Just DO what you been whining about for the past 8 years. aaaaarrrrgggghhh.

Monday, November 23, 2009

more strange parenting events (95 bottles)

More things they never tell you about being a parent:

  • Walking through the den/TV room/toy zone in the dark at midnight, seeing a faint phosphorescent glow & you think, "I told the boys the remote goes on top of the TV, not on the floor!", only to realize it's your son's glow-in-the-dark stegosaurus his cousin won for him at a penny arcade in L.A.

  • You tactfully refrain from laughing with maniacal glee as your child steps on one of those itty-bitty one-dot Legos you've repeatedly stepped on & repeatedly told them a zillion times to pick up. You, of course, offer comfort anyway.

  • On the same note, you become aware that you can offer comfort without offering much in the way of sympathy. See above.

  • It is possible to go from 100 mph to full stop in 17.6 sec. -- if one is talking about the hyperactive berzerker speed of a two year old bouncing around his bedroom, off the bed, off the walls, off the shelving, off the dresser, off the drapery, off the floor ...

  • It is possible to want to leave your children to the wolves in Northern Minnesota while concurrently wishing they would just calm down enough to let you hug them.

  • One's temper with Idiot Drivers is much, much shorter when your child is in the car. While 2 blocks from home, with Jr.Gopher#1 in the car, some Idiot pulled out of the alley on 34th St. straight out in front of me. Thank God for ABS brakes and good tires. De ja vu: the exact same method was used for totaling my last VW 11 months ago.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Voodoo Writing

The [insert agency here] academic and research training efforts have been strengthened by increasing the synergy across existing programs to result in a cohesive center that is greater than the sum of its disciplinary components.

Wow - my writing class last year didn't teach us this style of "please give me money" grant application.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Class v. Status

I wrote quite a bit this summer for my socio-behavioral-whatever course. I've used the term 'socioeconomic status' several times, as well as other PC terms. I finally had a breakthrough finishing my last assignment, which was a brainstorming project to facilitate the development of an intervention to reduce childhood obesity (how's that sound for socio-behavioral b.s.?)

Obesity is a result of our culture's class system: we (the huddled masses yearning to breathe free) wanted to be like the rich. The rich who had an abundance of food in general, and who were able to eat lots of different kinds of food. The rich who didn't need to spend 14 hours per day doing back breaking labor in a factory or on a farm. When presented with the opportunity to be less active, we took it; when presented with abundant food, we took that too.

After writing 'residue of a class system' for the paper, I've subsequently been thinking much on class as a factor in public health. Yes, people will assure you that class is important. But I think too many people look at race rather than class. Focusing on "race" lets rich white Americans think we're doing something good for the poor blacks we've been oppressing over the centuries and therefore lets us lie to ourselves that we're not oppressing anyone anymore.

I think that this whole "race card" does get played waaaaay too often. It keeps the poor disenfranchised, because the poor aren't one color or one race. "Race card" is also a euphemism for "relations with African-Americans" and is racist in and of itself by excluding the rest of the races.

It's a pity Society doesn't look at socioeconomic class: it is far, far, faaar more quantifiable than some chromosomal chromatograph of one's skin color.

I've decided that I'm going to ditch the use of "status" in regards to most of my writing. Screw it. It isn't socioeconomic 'status' - it's a class. It is an acknowledgment that we live in a class system just as much as the poor schmos in India - we just don't have the decency or self-awareness to acknowledge it.

A Class System is one where you are simply born into your lot in life. You're working class or Upper Class or whatever, because you're parents are. Or possibly because you managed to eek your way into that class (usually by marriage or falling out of a higher one). Being in a "status" sounds so ... transitory ... Like the boarding gate status for your flight. As if it's going to change, and you'll like the change. The term "status symbol" has an inherent meaning of "status of being rich/wealthy". When I was in high school, Calvin Klein Jeans were the 'status symbol' d'jour. No one mentioned that ratty worn-out hand-me-downs were a status symbol too. Because it was a status we didn't want to have.

Being at the bottom of the socioeconomic cesspool of life isn't a "status" - it's a way of life. Which you will in a probability never escape. See ya soon!

We Will Rock You

Mr. Gopher & I have tickets to the U2 concert here in June.

As it's on campus, there's finally been an immediate financial incentive - other than the cheap bus pass - to being a student.

>> rev. apparently it sold out in 2 hours when it went on general ticket sales.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Where does your child play?

Go to University Ave. in St. Paul, just east of Fairview. I honestly don't recall the name of the specific street, it's the first one east of Fairview. On the north side of that intersection is a YMCA and a small school building. The school has 2 signs: Avalon School (sign says its a public 7-12 school) and Twin Cities German Immersion School (is a K-5 public charter school).

Stand on the sidewalk in front of the school. There's a fence.

Look at vast expanse of wood chips. This is my son's play ground. Is there any grass? No. The grass off to your right is the front yard of the business there.

Walk into the play ground and look around. There's no gate in the fence to keep my kindergarten son in. There's no gate to keep you or any other member of society out. Why?

Look at the sign in front of the fence where you're standing. It reads: St. Paul Park & Recreation Board.

This was brought up at the German School's Board Meeting earlier this year. "The planning is complicated by the fact that the area in front of the school is owned by the City of St. Paul and forms part of a public park. Fencing and landscaping are both seen as high priorities, but both require permission from the city."

The school isn't allowed to do anything - not even landscaping - because the City of St Paul is ... well, I have no clue what they're doing.

The following was mentioned by Mr.Gopher: The park was donated to the city in 1906 (or so), with the caveat that it be a park. Nothing has been done with it in the intervening, um ... 103 years. Yeah, not '96, but '06. And so long ago, that one needs to ask which '06.

Now, go to St Paul's website. Click on the page to find one of their lovely Parks. You can't find this one. aaaaaahhh ... I guess the park is so important that someone lost it & they don't even know they have it ...

Go back to the fence & look east. There's grass in front of the first building, and then it turns into businesses' buildings and parking lots.

Look west. The YMCA has a fenced in yard (and apparently installed the playset without city permission - a great example of forgiveness being easier to get than permission). After that, the Griggs Building has its parking lot on the "City Park Land". The corner of Fairview & University has a bus stop. The "Park Information Sign" is there, but there's no park near it, just the Griggs' parking lot.

Someone in St. Paul went through the bother of paying for the nice, colorful sign with multicultural images. For a park that doesn't exist. But they can't allow the schools to put in grass? Even if the schools pay?

Insert lots of frustrated profanity.

Insert more.

Why won't the city just let the schools make the place nice for the children? It's not as if they could actually honestly claim "we're about to do something intelligent with the property".

Can you honestly imagine any public school letting total strangers into the school's playground? I could go sit on this school's playground and they'll have to let me because it's a "public park".

Now, mind you, I'm not paranoid about sex offenders or such. But I am really annoyed that the general public is allowed to wander around where these kids play and can interrupt them. I'm really, really annoyed that my kid is stuck trying to play soccer on wood chips. And, by far, I'm *most* annoyed that there's no complete fence to keep the balls and kids from running into University Avenue. That's not an annoyance factor - this is basic bodily safety.

waiting in line

... and waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ...

The Hennepin County Library, which recently merged with the Minneapolis Public Library, serving the most populous count in the state of Minnesota (1,140,998 ~20% of the population), with two dozen branches, has 3 copies of the Lion King.
Go figure: They have 3 dozen Bob the Builder videos (at least 5 of which are at the Ridgedale branch).

We are currently #71 of 134 waiting for one of those 3 discs.

Appeal to Consequences

A logical fallacy based upon desired consequences rather than reality. An example given is for Mr.Gopher:

Pi is probably a rational number: being rational would make it more elegant.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Sometimes I enjoy reading a movie review, even if I'm not inspired to go see the film. On this instance, though, both appeal. See note at bottom about German political policy.

Pirate Radio: hopefully I'll get to see it around Thanksgiving, although The Author & I have a date to see The Road, which I'd do before this.

from the movie review:
The [English] government vows to sink the pirates and finally forces through the required legislation. This is highly unpopular. Just imagine an American administration turning off your rock and forcing you to listen only to NPR. Wow, I'm sorry I wrote that. There are probably fringers who think Obama is plotting to do just that.

I would be tempted to drop MPR a little not, although I'm sure they've already seen it.

Radio Caroline, upon which the movie is loosely based, is still broadcasting through iTunes. Right now they have a 1966 playback-year.

now, about the German politics:

There was a quiz on Der Spiegel to help you figure out which political party platform most closely matches your own. Since they have 100 parties - well, actually on a dozen or so - this is far more complicated than here, where the choice is usually 50:50 shot in the dark. After answering the questions as honestly as I think, for a personal platform, not necessarily what I would encourage the whole country to do, and considering an occasionally misunderstanding of the question in the context of how Germany works,... the result was the closest party was the Pirate Party. The focal point of which is civil rights, esp. regarding what we consider the 1st amendment's points on publication and access to information.

Friday, November 13, 2009

more out of date jokes

Mr.Gopher pointed me toward a similar style of East German jokes from Radio Eriwan.
here loosely translated by myself:

Could the catastrophe at Chernobyl have been avoided?
Sure, if the Swedes hadn't blabbed about it.

What is Chaos?
Questions about the State Economy will not be tolerated!

Can you clarify the difference between Democracy and the People's Democracy?
Sure. It's like the difference between a jacket and a straitjacket.

Of course, there are a couple I don't understand, or that just wouldn't be as funny in English, because the play on words only works in German. e.g. another joke about Chernobyl mushrooms & toilets. I don't get it. Maybe it's better that way.
Can you drive 120 km/hr [70 mph] in a Russian car on Russian streets?
Sure. Once.

Can we spread Socialism to Canada?
Sure, but then who would produce all our wheat?

Can we spread Socialism to Switzerland?
Sure, but it would be a shame do that to such a nice country.

Rules of the Reels

A list of Movie Rules from Roger Ebert's Movie Glossary. This is - assuredly - not the whole list, which is gigantic. I don't really care if these are funny to you. They were to me. There were quite a few more amusing ones.

Anti-Anti-Auto Theft Device
Any actor can start any car by pulling any two wires from under the dash and touching them together to make them spark. This not only starts the car but it also defeats the steering columns locking mechanism.

Breathing Corpse Syndrome
No one in the movies or on television has ever looked convincingly dead, a condition much harder to fake than an orgasm.

California Sunrise
As viewed from North America, the sun rises from the Atlantic at an angle up and to the right, and sets into the Pacific at a corresponding angle down and to the right. Lazy California directors fake an East Coast sunrise by filming a California sunset and running it backward, though this causes the sun to rise up and to the left.

Clean air duct principle
Whenever the protagonist attempts to sneak through a secure building ("Die Hard," "The Simpsons"), the air ducts are always clean and dust free, never coated with dust bunnies or causing so much as a sneeze.

Dead for Sure, No Doubt About It
In a movie, the absolute proof of the death of a character is when blood drips slowly from the corner of the mouth. This is in too many movies to document. An interesting variation was the dripping of liquid metal from the evil mutant's mouth in "X-Men 2." As a physician, I can tell you that blood coming from the mouth after a fight is either, 1) a sign of a communication of the esophagus with a major blood vessel, which would be fatal, or 2) a cut

Hot Tub Rules
If a hot tub is seen in a movie, people will take their clothes off and get in it. If the women have large breasts, it's a T&A movie. If the women have small breasts, it's a drama or a foreign film. If the women keep their underwear on, it's a coming-of-age movie. If it's a slasher movie or a thriller, there will be an electrical appliance located nearby.

Mutations for the Entire Family
A movie mutant action hero will only mutate in ways that won't interfere with a PG-13 film rating. Example: Spider-Man shoots web out of his wrists. Real spiders shoot web out of their butts.

Generic Drinker Syndrome
Characters in movies always order "beer." As a bartender, I have observed that no one ever just orders "beer." They always call their beer. Movie characters frequently take a small sip and then leave without finishing their drinks, or paying for them (occasionally one character will throw some uncounted bills on the table). In real life, people suddenly called away from the bar take time to upend their glass and greedily suck down whatever is left.

Watch Your Step Rule
Suicides always choose the ledge with the pigeon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Saved by Technology

From IrelandOn-Line

Facebook alibi clears teenager accused of robbery
(that would be Nov.12 on this side of the Pond)

A New York teenager accused of robbery has been cleared of all charges after providing a Facebook alibi.

Rodney Bradford spent 12 days in prison after being arrested on suspicion of holding up two people close to his home in Brooklyn.

But the 19-year-old was eventually released after it was found that an update on the social networking site placed him at his father’s flat across town in Harlem.

The message placed one minute before the robbery occurred on October 17 asked “WHERE MY IHOP?”, a reference to the popular US pancake house.

It was intended for his pregnant girlfriend, whom he had hoped would cook up a plate of the breakfast snack.

Instead, it provided proof that Mr Bradford was nowhere near the robbery when it took place. Experts confirmed it was typed from the keyboard of his father’s computer.

It backed-up witness statements claiming that the teenager was at his dad’s house at the time of the incident.

But the discovery of the online alibi did not save him from a short stint at Rikers Island, New York’s jail facility.

Speaking to the New York Post, Mr Bradford said: “They had me on Rikers island for 12 days. It was really miserable.”

He added: “It it wasn’t for Facebook I’d still be on Rikers Island.”

Freedom of Speech?

okay, so this is a bit dated, but it's still awfully funny

Q: Is it true that there is freedom of speech in the Soviet Union the same as there is in the USA?

A: In principle, yes. In the USA, you can stand in front of the White House in Washington, DC, and yell, "Down with Reagan!", and you will not be punished. Just the same, you can stand in the Red Square in Moscow and yell, "Down with Reagan!", and you will not be punished.

I looked for my standard file of jokes or just funny things, and found a dozen Russia/USSR jokes. I have no idea where they came from. I do wonder where my older, much longer list went...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Halloween pictures, finally

Creepy benefits of leaving jack-o-lantern out for a few days at the mercy of biological decomposition and the neighborhood squirrels. Need to consider this for a plan next year. The gaping maw is due to the invasion of squirrels eating all of the teeth. Sorry, don't have before / after pictures (see note below about missing camera).

JrGopher1 didn't want his picture taken with his head visible. Wall-E was a better visual success than a wear-able success. Cardboard U-Haul moving box + schedule 40 PVC piping + twine & cardboard & medical tape. Nope, didn't have duct tape - eee!

Jr.Gopher2 wanted to be EVE as soon as he heard #1 wanted to be Wall-E. They really like the movie. This is a Target size 3 diaper box, and the handles from one of those pretty gift bags. The gun was borrowed from a friend.

Our camera is broken, so there's a delay between photos & sharing (acutally, more like delay between Halloween & borrowing a camera for pictures yesterday).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vaccinate my cat?

Maybe I should ask for Raven to get vaccinated against swine flu? Or just keep her out of school?

Who is it for?

While I'm not sure I want to see The Antichrist this month, when it's at the Lagoon, I am assuredly not offended by the picture used to advertize the film. Unlike 7 people in England, who are concerned children might see the ad.

The ASA is apparently like our MPAA, giving the film an 18 rating (NC-17). I found their criteria/comments regarding the ad interesting:

was "unlikely to cause sexual excitement"
in ... The Times and The Independent, which the ASA felt children were unlikely to see.
"If children did see the ad, it was not considered particularly explicit.
"unlikely to be seen as irresponsible or cause serious or widespread offence"
"cinema at its most extreme"

Intriguing that whether or not a child see it impacts where it's offensive.

Then, there was von Trier's comment:
The Danish director defended his work at Cannes, saying: "I don't think I owe anyone an explanation. I made it for myself."

Well, unless he's a lot richer than I'd guess, this is a bit disingenuous. He made it for his investors, not himself.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Toasted pumpkin seeds

From the Gopher Kitchen:

  1. Remove seeds from pumpkin.
  2. Wash & remove pumpkin bits/fibers.
  3. Rinse.
  4. Spread on towel to dry. (do not use paper towels-you'll get paper bits)
  5. When mostly dry, spread on cookie sheet & let dry all the way. This might be a day or so, depending on how dry/warm your kitchen is.
  6. Put a splash of oil on a cookie sheet. Swish the seeds around in it. Now, this is just a little bit of oil. We're not deep-frying it, just toasting.
  7. Put in over @ 200-250F.
  8. About every 10 min., use spatula & toss seeds to toast evenly.
  9. Remove from oven after about 30 min., or to taste.
  10. Let cool.
  11. Store in air-tight container.

These are really yummy straight out of the oven, warm. Jr.Gopher#2, the total omnivore, likes them too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lego safety

Of course, you go looking for one thing on YouTube, you find zillions. This is totally awesome: