31 October 2006

Happy Halloween

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29 October 2006

Ross Tarot

BK gets his fortune told

Last night I went to this year’s obligatory Halloween party. It was held at the house of a gentleman that works with Laura. God love him for throwing a well decorated and ghoulishly catered event. The crappy thing was that I didn’t prepare the costume I would have liked to worn. Visions of the Fudgems danced through my head for this year’s costume. Unfortunately, my vision exceeded what I was willing to get off my duff and accomplish. Taking the easy way out, I donned my Detroit Tigers hat, my newly grown goatee, and a Hawaiian shirt and became Thomas Magnum incarnate.

The party had the requisite shop talk, inebriated party hook up wishes, and admissions that would never be made under normal circumstances. The surprise of the evening was our friend Rose was reading Tarot cards for those that dared to look into their future. Generally, I don’t put much stock in such things. Being ranked as the 14th most dangerous man in the world, I pretty much like to think that I create my own fate.

I decided to keep an open mind while my reading was taking place, and apply the principle of the scientific method to the reading. Keep in mind that I or Laura hasn’t talked to Rose in a number of weeks and knew nothing of recent events at the Fort. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to post the basics of my reading and then see if some of the predictions come true in the coming weeks.

Reading basics:

I have gone through a period of worrying about matters at work. This cloud will lift and I will see two opportunities in my career in the very near future. (Odd note, I got a rather large promotion at work on Friday.) People will hit me up for money or court me for favors in the next 2-3 weeks, and someone will try to intimidate me. The intimidation will fall flat (Imagine someone trying to intimidate the 14th most dangerous man in the world, pishaw!) and I will turn it to my advantage. Romance will be in the air and ventures of the heart will go my way. (Once again, was there any doubt that that would come true…) There will be a large celebration in the next month or so. (Easy one with the holidays and my birthday coming up) There were many financial windfalls in the near future. I will see miscommunications in the next few weeks and I shouldn’t plan on setting long term plans into motion before 17 Nov. I will be beset by dung beetles and will bite at my flesh and give me a nasty infection. (Ok that was a very remote chance, but still within the realms of possibilities)

We’ll see in the next few weeks what comes to fruition and what doesn’t. Sounds like more or less smooth sailing through the holidays. I’ll periodically report on the progress of the card’s predictions.

28 October 2006

Aww... It's Just What We Call Pillow Talk Baby...

One of the great joys of being a couple is the conversations that happen just before you drift off to sleep. Some of the world’s greatest ideas and disastrous arguments have happened during pillow talk times. Legend has it that Louis Pasteur formed the theory of pasteurization while his mistress was asking Louis what color he was going to paint his ceiling. Anthony and Cleopatra traded pillowed verbal barbs over why she had never been introduced to Anthony’s parents. Examples of such quips and chats are equal only to the number of couples that have shared the same bed.

Had one been a fly on the wall one recent night at Fort Donelson, one such conversation could have been heard. The setting is 11-ish on a school night, good nights had been said, nests have been made, and the physical practicalities of sleep are setting in. The dialogue that evening is as follows:

L: Do you ever wonder how transvestites hide their candy?

B: How in the fudge did you know I wasn’t already asleep?

L: You weren’t breathing like you were asleep. I know your sleep breathing and that wasn’t close to you going to sleep.

B: And how exactly does “sleep breathing” sound like?

L: Not how you were just breathing.

B: Great, I’m not winning this one. They tuck and roll.

L: Tuck and roll where? Cause there is no where to stuff anything there.

B: Do you want me to draw you a picture? I am not getting up and demonstrating.

L: Wouldn’t that hurt? How does it stay up there?

B: Well I’ll have to consult my past life as a drag queen to answer that, get the Ouija Board out.

L: You know, you really should have seen the loaf I baked at work today. I nearly took a picture with my camera phone, but I knew it would make you yak on my new phone.

Very long pause

L: When do you need to go back to the optometrist again?

B: Honey I don’t know sometime before the end of the year.

L: Well you need new glasses. And what are you working Thursday?

B: I’m not, I’m off. What do you need me to do?

L: Oh nothing I just couldn’t remember.

B: In that case I’m going to sleep.

L: Now that you mention it, the dry cleaning should be done.

B: Yes Ms. Daisy, I’ll get right on that.

L: That’s not nice. Besides, I don’t think we share enough.

B: Did you drop a tab of acid before you came to bed? What’s with the chatty Cathy bit?

L: I have a curious mind; don’t you want to know what I’m thinking baby?

B: Not at the moment. Go to sleep and pray that bugs don’t start crawling over your arms in the middle of the night.

L: Great now I can’t go to sleep because it will feel like bugs will be crawling on me after you said that. Besides my feet are cold.

B: Alright… (B does something to placate L and hopes she will clam up long enough to let sleep creep in.)

Thus ends another pillow side chat at the Fort.

26 October 2006

Poll for Second Year Topics

Thanks to Uncle Bear for turning me on to this mini poll. So what topics would you like to see me take on in Random Stuff Year Two?

Happy Birthday to Random Stuff

Yes folks, yesterday marked the one year anniversery of my humble blog. To celebrate, a party was thrown at Flying Saucer last night with a surprising guest. Check out the pictures of a good beaver gone bad...

21 October 2006

A Benefits Meeting to Remember

If find that the older I get, not only does the hair in my ears get longer, but I break with established habits. My link between deviant behavior and toe nail length today is to talk about an aspect of my job on this blog. For professional, legal, and moral reasons, I generally keep silent about this part of my life. However, this week I was forced to attend an annual benefits meeting. I decided that if the company was going to suck three hours of my life away, I would get a blog out of it.

The meeting had all the typical trappings. We were provided with nice healthy snacks, including Diet Coke with Splenda and honey and oat power bars. (Why anyone would feed a group of sedentary people anything with oatmeal in it boggles me.)The presentation itself had a visually stunning Power Point presentation and the maximum number of acronyms allowed by law. For example: “If you go with the PPO plan 1C over the HSA with the FSA sub-option you’ll be SOL to the tune of X dollars a year. So QED your ATM will show you that you are FUBARed each payroll cycle.”

The other unique aspect of a meeting that deals with health insurance and retirement plans are the questions from the peanut gallery. People will announce things in these meetings that they would never talk about around the water cooler. Evidently, there are some that think their specific problems should be answered in this type of forum. For example: “I am a Mormon that has three wives. I know it is illegal, but the company has let me have all my wives on my insurance. I tried to claim the surgery that wife number 2 had after getting kicked in the head by a mule on my HMO plan 14C last year, and it was denied. But here’s my real question. What is the deductible I’ll have to meet this year, if she gets kicked int he head again?”

Of course this starts the repackaging of questions for those that have had similar problems. Half an hour is wasted discussing children’s orthodontic dilemmas, husband’s erectile dysfunctions, and the horror story of one’s third cousin getting cysts removed from their inner thigh. Nice.

The best part of the show was the cat from the investment house that sat through all of the shenanigans just for his 15 minutes of meeting fame. The biggest change to our retirement plans this year was the addition of targeted mutual funds to our 401Ks and other plans to “take care” of retirement. At this, I was perplexed by the number and varieties of funds available to us. I shall end this blog with some of the options presented to me.
  • Health plan option: Drink yourself to 64. Touted as the plan for those who wish to take the Leaving Las Vegas route out of retirement.
  • Extending your work life plan: Why retire at all? There are a number of post-30 year with the company career options open to those too addled to tie their shoes. Those interested could be trained in the following areas: Quality assurance on the production line of pig ears for dog treats, peep show token taker, tour guide to the World’s Largest Ball of String, or one of a thousand other options.
  • Target Fund option: A wide spectrum of risk fund based on the openings of Broadway musicals. The fund holder can pick each quarter on the musicals they wish to back. The risk takers in the lot might look at the off Broadway option. One hot prospect this quarter is the Ordinary People musical planning on opening of Spring 2007.
  • Bond fund: Church building funds. This bond fund will finance church expansion projects. Success of the fund will depend on the quality and quantity of dinner on the grounds and social function related to the expansion. Investors may chose from any of 32 different faiths and 182 different denominations. At this time the church of Tony Alamo is not included in the fund.
  • Whole life retirement plan: Living in the 3rd World. If you’re short on retirement funds, why not go to where your dollar stretches farther? Exotic locations await you like: Chad, Thailand, and Honduras. Why not make your golden years an adventure?

12 October 2006

Why Facial Recognition Software Should be Outlawed

Now this really scares the crap out of me. If you can't figure out who these celebrities are, starting from the top left:
  1. Ante Gotovina
  2. Lawrence Lessig
  3. Robert Schumann
  4. David Beckham
  5. Douglas Adams
  6. Juan Carlos Ferrero
  7. Francios Mitterrand
  8. Fredrich Nietzsche

10 October 2006

Movie Review: The Prestige

I am not a man that desires to be envied. Yes, I do have an over inflated sense of ego and other blatant character flaws. I do hope you envy the fact that I’ve seen The Prestige (based on the 1996 novel by Christopher Priest) before you did. This is one of the few movies I’ve been waiting for this year. If you’ve seen the trailers and didn’t crap your pants at the possibilities of this movie, don’t waste your time reading on. And for those of you reading on, don't fret. There are no spoilers.

Michael Caine sets the audience up in the first scene with the statement, “Every great magic trick consists of three acts. The first act is called "The Pledge"; The magician shows you something ordinary, but of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn"; The magician makes his ordinary some thing do something extraordinary.” I spent the majority of the film looking for minutia. I sifted through the background of each scene trying to get one leg up on the plot. This is half the fun of the movie. The visuals and sets are almost crowed with seeming innocuous items that one strains to cull through. Director Chris Nolan seamlessly manages all these elements without overwhelming the audience.

Structurally, the film is set up in a series of flash back and forwards as the main characters read each other’s diaries. Stylistically, it reminds me of Dead Again. With I’m sure had something to do with Emma Thompson being the Executive Producer. Like all good magic shows, the harder you try to grasp the secret of a trick, the more astounding the trick is when it happens. The Prestige is a magic trick on film. Sit back and enjoy the show, but make sure you watch closely or you'll miss the trick entirely.

The “Pledge” centers around the rivalry of two magicians in late 1890’s London. Hugh Jackman (Rupert Angier) and Christian Bale (Alfred Borden) begin as fellow novice magicians whose relationship quickly sours. Over the course of the years the film spans, both men’s obsession with the other mutates in very different paths. Angier’s sole goal in life is to prefect a trick Borden has stunned London with. Borden’s rivalry with Angier leads him to blur the line between his magician persona and his off stage personality.

The plot sounds straight forward enough, doen't it? Add in the dynamics of the supporting cast to the plot and the “Turn” complecates matters. Michael Caine (Cutter) is the man behind the magic with a seemingly simple agenda. Scarlett Johansson (Olivia), is the Hottie McHot Hot assistant who loves too much. Then enter David Bowie as Nikola Tesla for the steam punk sci-fi twist. While the screen rivalry between Tesla and Thomas Edison mirrors that of Angier and Borden, it's not quite factual. Tesla and Edison's issue came up after the time of the film. Minor point.

Now for the “Prestige”. We’ll I’m not going to spoil anything for you. I haven’t kicked myself for not figuring out an ending this hard since the Sixth Sense. Go see it, and remember that Doug Henning is not the only one that can create a World of Illusion…

09 October 2006

Tales Never Told; Part 2

Note to self… Do not tell these stories to your son until he turns 18; or until the statue of limitations runs out.

  • For that.. you’re going to buy me a drink
  • Rules for lounging around on a Sunday morning
  • The car salesman always toots twice
  • Things lost and things found under a sink
  • You’re putting that into a plastic Easter Egg?
  • Whatever you do, don’t look behind the counter
  • My ass just made a sound that would have made Rush Limbaugh cry
  • Old Ladies in Knoxville should never go to Walgreen’s on a Sunday morning
  • East bound and pressed ham down
  • Hello, is anyone in there?
  • Now you’re from where in Mississippi?
  • Come on it’s just a little Haggis
  • What does Emmy Lou Harris eat on her tour bus?

06 October 2006

New Jack in the Box Menu Item?

Jack is a marketing genius.... But then again, he got some much needed help from King Bee Studios

04 October 2006

An Answer to John Steinberg

An article by John Steinberg is floating around on the net at the moment. I rarely use this blog as a platform for anything other than my own goofiness, but after reading his piece I felt I had to respond to it. Mr. Steinberg’s article was published on 27 Sept 06 on the IMC Israel website. You can read it by hitting the link HERE.

There are a number of glaring contradictions, leaps of logic, and bad arguments in Mr. Steinberg’s article. First of all is the misapplication of the Geneva Convention. The Convention’s goal was to produce rules of conduct for nations during times of armed conflict.

Article 4; section 2 of the convention states the following:

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:
(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) That of carrying arms openly;
(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

Furthermore, Article 3; Section 1 state:
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

In the conflict in Iraq, we have seen that the insurgent forces are in violation of the tenants in Article 4. They wear no uniforms, their suicide bombers do not carry open arms, and no one is clearly responsible for their actions in a chain of command. Given these simple facts, the Insurgent forces do not bind themselves to the convention. Therefore, they should not be given protection under its provisions.

As for violations of Article 3, insurgent forces have taken hostage members of the media, relief groups, and members of the US armed forces stationed there. The same forces have violated Subsection “D” by beheading these hostages without trial or judicial guarantees. Yet again we see that the Insurgency does not care for agreed upon rules of warfare. I fail to see how there can be an expectation of relief by Insurgency forces under the Convention.

In regards to the Bush Administration’s “Enabling Act”, as Mr. Steinberg calls it, pay particular attention to the use of the word “alien”. No one is suggesting that this power be used to detain or imprison American citizens. If it were, I would be the first to lead the charge against the Capitol Building. Mr. Steinberg’s logic here is that foreign nationals are afforded the rights and privileges of a United States citizen; namely our Constitutional right of due process. I once again fail to see how a foreign national that presents a clear and present danger to our national interest operating outside our borders can be mystically granted the privilege of our Constitutional protection. The extension of Mr. Steinberg’s argument is that all foreign nationals are protected under all of our laws, at any time and any place. I will leave you to ascertain the dynamics this implies.

This act is designed to address how Americans are to treat situations that are not covered under the Geneva Convention. As we have seen the Insurgency does not fit into any category proscribed under the convention. I doubt that Insurgent forces in Iraq or Afghanistan are debating this finer point of morality. This in and of itself means nothing, other than someone in Washington is concerned with how we should conduct ourselves in this gray area. Whether you agree with the law’s application is for you to decide.

Finally, Mr. Steinberg uses a poor form of argument by bringing up the German Enabling Acts. The Enabling Act has nothing to do with the topic at hand and is called a non sequitur argument. If Mr. Steinberg wishes to present his views on a piece of legislation the Bush Administration is presenting, then stick to that. However attempting to bridge the gap between this piece of legislation and the Holocaust makes no logical sense. These statements are designed to pander to the reader’s emotions and not his reason. Statements like “there is no doubt what sentence Mr. Bush wants to write”, are another example of this type of argument.

I’ve done this as an exercise in critical reading. Yes, my political views are to the right. Yes, I think that we should be in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, I grow weary of reading pieces like this that do not use basic reason. I do not ask you agree with my political views, but I do ask you to read critically. I fear that many of our citizens replace reason with emotion when analyzing these topics. Don’t take anything on faith folks, and use the ability to reason that the Great Architect gave you.

03 October 2006

Atlas Shrugged Movie Changes Studios

In a surprise move today, Henson studios will be picking up the Atlas Shrugged movie project. Studio executive James Waldorf beamed with excitment when ask about his studio's role in the film. "I think the readers of Ayn Randwill be happy with our adaptation of her most famous novel. This is an important tale that, we feel, can only be told with the flexibility of Muppets."

In an unrelated report, visitors to Rand's grave at Kensico Cemetery felt a small earthquake. One witness reported that, "It felt like something beneath the earth did a flippity floppity."