Thursday, July 31, 2008

Man Executes Lawn Mower

A couple of weeks ago, an intoxicated man in Milwaukee shot his lawn mower because it wouldn't start.

A neighbor called the police and the man was charged with felony possession of a short-barreled shotgun or rifle and misdemeanor disorderly conduct while armed.

After his arrest, the man told the police, "I can do that, it's my lawn mower and my yard so I can shoot it if I want."

While this was a stupid thing for him to do, I have to admit that I fully understand how he felt and where he was coming from when he executed the errant Lawn Boy. Any of us who've ever owned a balky lawn mower can identify with him to some point.

Of course, with me, it's computers that get me to feeling homicidal (cybercidal?) more often than lawn mowers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Voluntary Sterilization and Young, Childless Adults

Recently, I was having a conversation at work about young, single guys in their 20s who get vasectomies because they don't ever want children and are terrified of being trapped into unwanted fatherhood by a woman who has an "accident on purpose". There are also those who are sick of having to use condoms every time, and who also recognize that legitimate accidents can happen even with regular condom use.

As with childless -- and sometimes not so childless -- women in the same age group, doctors are reluctant to sterilize people in that age group, taking the attitude that they don't know their own minds, despite being of legal age.

After this conversation, I googled this topic and discovered that many men are lying about their age and sometimes their parenthood status, in order to get the vasectomies. This is, of course, easier for men to do, as a physical examination cannot reveal whether or not a man is already a father as it can with women and motherhood.

A comment made by one of my female coworkers especially irked me. She said she had nothing against this, just as long the man was single or if his wife/female partner gave permission.

Excuse me? No one owns my body but me and as an adult, I have every right to do with it as I see fit -- I need no one's permission.

I know that women used to have to get their husbands' permission to get a tubal ligation, but this was just as wrong, as a woman’s body belongs to her alone, just as a man’s does..

Granted, for those of you in committed relationships, it would be best to discuss this step with your significant other before proceeding, but the final decision properly remains with the person who owns and "wears" the body every day. The hell with getting permission.

As for myself, though I’ve been promiscuous, to say the least, during my entire adult life, I’ve never taken the step of getting snipped. I’ve thought about it, but as cheap as I am, I’ve never followed through. Fortunately, I’ve managed to sire only one child during the course of all these years, though I’ve had a few scares. I guess I’m lucky, careful, or both.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about the idea of people in committed relationships needing to get the permission of their spouse/sigificant other in order to get sterilized. I’d also like your opinion of young, childless people getting voluntarily sterilized in their 20s.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Odds and Ends

It seems as if both radio and TV have come up with a new crop of obnoxious commercials for the summer season. Some of the latest offenders are:

  • A series if Aflac commercials where the Aflac duck makes screechy "ack, ack, ack, ack" sounds. I think the worst of that bunch is the one where an auto mechanic is talking about his repair shop providing Aflac for their employees, where the duck imitates a car that is hard to start: "Af LACK, ACK, ACK, ACK, ACK, AAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!" I want to wring the "acking" duck's neck every time I hear an Aflac commercial
  • The Honda "I'm back and I'm knocking" commercial complete with the sound of someone knocking on a TV screen. I want to knock that guy's head off every time I hear it.
  • Bullfrog Sun Block. The kid yelling BULL frog! several times during the commerical makes me want to yell BULL shit! back at him.

As anyone who lives or has ever been to the United States knows, toilet paper is marketed as "bathroom tissue" here, though toilet paper is never referred to as such in conversations. "Toilet paper" is the most common polite reference to this most useful product, though I've heard "toilet tissue" infrequently from those of a more genteel nature, and sometimes by the acronym, "TP". More commonly, I hear it referred to my cruder terms: shit paper, hockey paper, crap paper, and so on.

But never, ever, as "bathroom tissue"

I'm wondering if it's always been marked on packages as "bathroom tissue" and, if so, why? If not, what was it originally called and who decided to start marketing it under this euphemism.

And I'd ask readers who live in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or any other English-speaking country, how are packages of toilet paper marked in your country?

While listening to a local talk show, one of the hosts mentions to the other host that he was offended by a political bumper sticker he'd seen recently that included the "f bomb", to use his own words. He asked the other host, who is a lawyer, whether or not there were "decency" laws that be leveled against the owner of the car with the offending sticker.

I rolled my eyes at this, knowing that he was going to trot out the old, tired "But what about the children!" rationale for wanting to limit the free speech of another person.

And he did not disappoint me. No sooner had I thought this than he said, "Well, I don't want my kids to have to read that! And you have to see it if you're pulled up right behind him!"

For one thing, no, you don't "have to" read it. You don't have to look at the bumper -- you can look at the trunk, the back window, and so on, instead. And you should have your kids in the back seat, anyway, where they couldn't read it to begin with.

People are so predictable.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Firefox Woes

I've been a Firefox user for quite some time now, using it through several updated versions. Most people I know who use it rave about it, while simultaneously trashing Internet Explorer.

At first, I agreed with such people, but I've been having several quirky problems with Firefox that have lasted through several of the most recent updates. I also bought a new computer last year with the latest version of IE included, and I've not had any problems with that.

The problems I'm having with Firefox appear and disappear unexpectedly for no apparent rhyme nor reason. The most common problems are:

  • I'm on dialup, and if I happen to get tossed offline while viewing pages in Firefox, I must close the browser and re-open it again in order to be able to continue using the pages I was viewing. If I try to make comments, refresh, or click on another page, it won't respond, and I'll see "Stopped" at the left bottom corner of the page. This doesn't happen in IE -- I can just pick up where I left off without closing and re-opening the browser.
  • A recurring problem happens on message boards, where Firefox will not recognize text editing buttons in message board response boxes. That is, the bold, underline, italic, quote, and other buttons will not work when I click on them, but I have to add the code manually. This doesn't happen all the time, but it happens enough, and without warning, to be annoying.
  • When I get the above problem on message boards, Firefox will also not recognize paragraph breaks and it will render several paragraphs as one unbroken block of text. These two problems are so annoying, that I just use IE when I want to make comments on message boards.
  • Another on-again, off-again problem is that on every single one of the blog systems I use (Blog City, Blogger, Vox, and EFX2) Firefox will either not display the text editing features in the text boxes or they will be unclickable, thus unusable. Again, I'm composing in IE more and more.
  • Yet another on-again, off-again problem is with Gmail. Though I can sometimes view Gmail normally with Firefox, more often than not, I have to view it in "Basic HTML", which does not allow the user to use all of Gmail's features. More recently, I'm getting errors more often when using Gmail in Firefox.

These are the most common, ongoing annoyances I've had in the last year or so using Firefox. Note that none of these problems occur when using Internet Explorer.

I'd be curious to hear if other Firefox users are having the same problems that I'm having and if they're turning back to IE more and more.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Greener Than Thou

This morning I read an article on Alternet, by a man who gave up having a car: Living Without a Car: My New American Responsibility. It was a rather insulated look at living a carless lifestyle in a city with excellent public transportation that ignored logistical realities that would make this a highly impractical choice for many Americans living in other areas for various reasons.

Many comments to this article were self-righteous, elitist, and dismissive of those who gave valid reasons of why such a drastic choice wouldn't be right for them. Several comments seem to be an exercise in greener-than-thou one-upmanship.

My response is as follows:

In Some Areas, Going Carless Means You Depend On People With Cars

Like many of the commenters above, I live in an area where public transportation is extremely limited, where most people live miles from their jobs and shopping areas, where taxi service is limited and expensive, where it's hot 9 months out of the year, and where much of the area is unsafe and impractical for bike travel.

Add to this the truth that most employers, at least in my area, see a person without a car as being by definition unreliable. Indeed, I've filled out job applications where applicants are asked how they will be getting to work each day, and if they have a car.

In my area, unless you live next door to your job and/or the grocery store, Wal Mart, the doctor's office, the school,etc, you spend a lot of time depending up on other people with cars, waiting around for them to come pick you up at their convenience. Instead of becoming independent, you have increased your dependence on the goodwill of people with cars.

Going carless may work in cities where public transportation is plentiful and reliable, but it's impractical in many other places. A one-size-fits-all solution won't work any better here than it does with most other sorts of problems. Nor does an all-or-nothing approach.

I drive a small car. I don't go joyriding anymore -- I plan my trips and routes carefully, so as to use the least amount of gas. I stay home more. I shop online often. These are small steps, but they are steps and they are easy and practical to do, which makes adhering to them more likely.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One Car Families

When I was growing up, one didn't usually see as many cars per household as is common today. Many middle class families had just one car, even when another car could have been afforded.

I'm not sure of why this was so, but I would imagine the fact that more women were stay at home mothers back then, plus the fact that people simply stayed at home more had something to do with it. I'm guessing that the biggest reason was that people had a different yardstick of what they really needed as opposed to what was a luxury back then.

And this many times turned into a reasonable amount of inconvenience for many families, particularly the at home mother. In most one-car families, the husband took the car to get to work each morning, leaving the wife stranded at home until he returned, even in areas where public transportation was readily available. This meant that the mother could not go grocery shopping, take a kid to the doctor, or pick them up from school if they got sick there during the day.

We had only one car when my mother was still alive, though I know my Dad could have afforded a second car. However, as a thoughtful husband, he took the bus and later the high-speed commuter train to go to work, leaving my mother with the car for the day. She simply drove him to the bus stop por train station each morning, then picked him up again in the afternoon.
I remember one time when I was nine or ten that I went with her one afternoon to pick him up at the bus stop but he never appeared at the right time. It turned out that he fell asleep on the 20 mile bus ride back home and had ridden past his stop. I don't remember exactly how we sorted it out, but I imagine we just went home and waited for him to call.

I can't imagine one-car households where more than one licensed driver lives anymore -- even poor people now usually have more than one car, even if both of them are old bombs. But if gas prices continue their upward spiral, I imagine we could see this phenomenon again one day soon.

I'd be curious to hear about the experiences of any of my readers who grew up in one-car households.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Autism Controversy

Far right radio talk show host, Michael Savage, lived up to his pseudonym last Wednesday when he dismissed autism as a phony disease when he said, "In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out..."What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, `Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, you idiot.'"

I'm wondering what medical school this obnoxious cretin went to to be able to pull such a harsh, absolute statement straight out of his ass? The man has a PhD, but that's not the same thing as being an MD.

You know the guy has to be a real wingnut when another right wing talk show host, Neal Boortz, htakes the time to criticize him on the air (unrelated to the autism issue). Last week, Boortz said something to the effect that he could understand why Savage would not want to use his real last name (Weiner) on the air, but one had to question the mentality of someone who would pick "Savage" as a pseudonym. Boortz went on to wonder what people in other countries must think of our country when they hear Savage refer to it as "Savage Nation".


Sunday, July 20, 2008

I Hate the Olympics

The Beijing Summer Olympics are nearly upon us, starting on 8-8-08. But I have absolutely no intention of watching any of the events.

I have to admit that the Olympic Games bore me witless. I've never been all that much into sports in general, but the Olympics have a special place in boredom hell for me. At least with the Big 3 sports of football, baseball, and basketball, some fun can be had actually playing these sports, if one isn't much into watching them. Same goes for hockey and soccer as well.

During the summer of the 1972 Olympics, most of my friends were into watching the Olympics, while I nearly fell into a coma when I joined them. As this was my last summer as a virgin, I figure that I probably got more books read and hours in practicing the trumpet because of all the time my friends spent watching these soporific events.

My sister has always been big into the Olympics as well, going so far as to attend a few events of the 1996 games, which were not particularly cheap.

I won't be watching the games again this year, unless I happen to have insomnia one night and can't get to sleep any other way.


Friday, July 18, 2008

How to End a Drought

My area is in the throes of a long running drought. Local officials have encouraged people to stop watering their lawns and to sharply reduce how often they wash their cars. This isn't going to work, as we all know quite well that leaving a car dirty causes dry and sunny weather!
I'm surprised that local officials haven't proposed some of the following sure-fire ways to make it rain:

1. Organize a mass car wash

2. Encourage everyone in town to leave their car windows down overnight

3. Encourage people to erect clotheslines for drying clothes and to leave clothes drying overnight

4. Plan an outdoor concert

5. Mandate that all wedding and wedding receptions be held outdoors.

6. Plan an outdoor craft fair

7. Encourage people to spray their weeds with Round-Up (rain will cause this not to work)

Feel free to list some of your favorite rain-causing activities in the comment box.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thoughts About Public Schools

As regular readers of my blog know, I frequently listen to the Neal Boortz radio show as a way to monitor what those on the Right are saying.

Boortz often rants about public schools, which he always refers to as "government schools". His contention is that public schools exist not to fully educate students, but rather to give them just enough education to be good citizens, but not so much that they would seriously question how things are in our culture. Boortz has often stated that if it were up to him, he'd abolish the public school system and institute "school choice", which is another name for the voucher system.

While I agree that much about the public school system that needs improvement, and I've ranted about it here on my blog, I think Boortz' views, though they have a grain of truth to them, are extreme, to say the least.

Though there are substandard teachers in the schools -- I know, because I dealt with them during my son's school years -- there are also many gifted, caring teachers who make a difference in their students' lives and school districts that have outstanding programs.

Boortz also misses the point that the best thing a teacher or a school can do is to give students the tools in which they can further educate themselves throughout their lives. My father taught me, and I've taught my son, that if one is a fully fluent reader and a competent researcher, then that person is capable of getting a good education, regardless of what kind of school they're in. That is, if you're a good reader and researcher, you have the tools to acquire the rest of the knowledge that one needs to have a well-rounded education. Motivated students always take the initiative in educating themselves, even when they have teachers to guide them, and don't wait passively for others to educate them.

Personally, I think Boortz' "government education" rant theme is just another in his elitist worldview, along with his "poor, badly done to rich people" theme.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Questioning Sacred Cows

On Alternet, in the article "Is Cheating Ever OK", the author addresses the question:

If one partner refuses to have sex, does the other have the right to seek it elsewhere?

My response to this article follows below:

Perhaps the question should be "Should monogamy always be an unquestioned part of every intimate relationship", rather than, "Is 'cheating' ever OK?"

While monogamy isn't natural for human beings in general, some people have an easier time being monogamous than others. The intensity of libido, of sex drive, varies widely among people. Monogamy is, perhaps, easier among those with roughly matching sex drives, and easiest among those with moderate to low libidos, where variety and/or novelty isn't high on their list of sexual needs. With a couple where both partners have relatively low libidos, a sexual dry spell would not necessarily make them want to look elsewhere for sexual gratification. Monogamy tends to work well for such people.

But for those of us with moderately high to very high libidos and/or where variety and novelty is important, monogamy is akin to the restrictor plates that NASCAR uses at superspeedways to limit how fast the cars can go. That is, there's a lot of power (sex drive) being thwarted to keep it within socially accepted limits.

If you've got a couple with mismatched libidos, as described here, you've got a recipe for frustration for the one with the higher libido. Such couples may be well-matched otherwise, but the expectation of strict monogamy in such instances can ruin what was otherwise a good marriage.

Likewise, there are instances where one partner becomes chronically ill or disabled and is no longer able to have sex. Is it fair to expect the healthy partner to satisfied with "just cuddling" for the rest of their lives?

Another related sacred cow is that many people believe that sex and love must always go together; that the only "proper" reason to have sex is as a way to express love for one's partner. But in reality, people have sex for many different reasons in addition to love: to fill a physical need similar to eating, sleeping and so on, a stress reliever, they're horny, etc. I'm of the opinion that as long as sex is between consenting adult partners, there is no one "proper" justification for sex.

In addition to questioning the assumption that all intimate relationships must always be monogamous, no matter what, we need to question the assumption that the only proper reason to have sex is to express love for one's partner. Perhaps then, couples with mismatched libidos or those with a disabled partner who are otherwise happily married, could continue to be happily married without one partner being sexually frustrated.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Worked to Death

Those who have been reading my blogs for any length of time know that I take a "work to live, don't live to work" approach to life. Barring the minority of people who have creative, fulfilling jobs they'd do for free if they could afford to, most of us have jobs that are merely a means to an end. That is, we work in order to acquire the resources, i.e. money, we need to live.

For most of us, it is not in our best interests to work any more than necessary to achieve this goal. Indeed, in many cases, our time is more precious than money, and many of us have made the decision to accept a lower standard of living, in order to have the precious time in which to really live and to spend as much time as we can in our time on Earth doing the things that really matter to us.

Recently, I've read several news stories about a Japanese man who lived to work and ultimately ended up literally working himself to death. This man, a 45 year old lead engineer for Toyota, worked an average of 80 hours of overtime a month in the months preceding his death. This involved working nights and weekends, and frequent trips abroad.

The Japenese, well-known throughout the world for their penchant for workaholism, even have a word for overwork induced deaths -- "karoshi".

This man's family sued and a Japanese labor bureau recently ruled in their favor, stating that the man died from overwork. Their ruling will allow his family to collect benefits from his work insurance. This is but one among many other similar suits.

I'm glad the man's family won their case, but it's a matter of closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. It's time to reconsider what role work plays in our lives and what life is all about in general. I'm not singling out the Japanese, as the "live to work" mindset can be found anywhere.

We should work to live, not live to work. Work is a part of life, not the purpose of it. As the old saying goes, no one on their deathbeds ever wished they'd spent more time at the office.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Good News

It seems as if what I've thought all along is apparently true:

When it comes to sex, the watchword for men is "use it or lose it."

In a study conducted among a thousand older Finnish men, those who had sex most often were at a lower risk for developing erectile dysfunction (ED). The more sex they had, the lower the risk.

It seems as if regular sex works pretty much like regular exercise does for other parts of the body.
The study team found that regular sexual activity may help maintain healthy blood vessel function in the erectile tissue.

Considering I've been "using it" early and often for the last thirty years or so with a wide variety of partners, I expect to continue doing so for years to come.

In another related study, Swedish researchers found that 70 year olds of both sexes are now more sexually active than those 30 years ago, and that more women are satisfied with the sex they're getting. Researchers attribute this largely to more increasingly more open, sex-positive attitudes in the last fifty years, which has served in more communication between partners and the willingness to sex medical help when there are physical problems.

Four groups of 70 year olds, married and single, were interviewed about their sex lives between 1971 and 2001.
68 percent of married men said they were having sex in 2001, up from 52 percent in the early '70s. 54 percent of married were having sex in 2001, compared to 30 percent in 1971. 12 percent of single women were having sex in 2001, compared to an abysmal less than one percent in 1971. The report I read did not mention the rates for single men, but it would appear that the current discrepancy in 2001 between married men and women might be related to the encouraging rise for single women.

Another encouraging trend for women was that more women reported experiencing orgasm during sex, while far fewer reported never having had an orgasm. Again, it would be logical that more open sexual attitudes can in large part can explain this positive trend.

So, in conclusion, I would advise everyone to have sex regularly, and talk openly about it with your partner(s). You'll be happier when you get old if you do.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summer Doldrums

Sorry I've been pretty much MIA around here lately. I'm having a bad case of the summer doldrums and my blogging get up and go, got up and went, as the old saying goes. I'm the opposite of a bear -- I have more energy in the winter, but I want to hole up in the house and lay around all summer.

I've been working a lot more hours in the last few weeks, which is also serving to make my slacker's heart crabby. I need the money, sure, but I value my time more. But I know business it highly cyclical there, so the busy patch we've been having won't last forever.

Even though we just passed the summer solstice a couple of weeks ago, I've already noticed the days getting slightly shorter. I'm cheered by this, because I know we're in the downslide to winter, however far it is on the horizon.

I experience two signs of the approaching fall season today. I was in the dollar store today and I noticed they'd put out all the Back-to-School items. I used to hate to see this when I was a kid, but now that I'm grown and my son is grown, this first harbinger of fall only serves to cheer me now. I'll be even happier to see the Halloween stuff going up.

I saw the second sign this evening when commercial came on advertising a local event that will occur on Labor Day, which had me thinking even more of the cool days to come.

Pretty soon, I'll be humming Christmas carols...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Marriage Survey

Stolen from Chica X...

1. Do you believe in marriage?

Do I believe that marriage exists Then, yes, of course I do. Do I believe in marriage for myself? Not as it's currently commonly understood and legally defined, no. Do I believe in marriage for others?. Hey, whatever floats your boat. It's an intensely private thing that everyone should be free to decide about for themselves.

2. What is marriage to you?

To me, marriage is ideally two or more people of whatever gender combination who are romantically and sexually involved who decide to commit to living together long-term as a family. It is the private commitment that essentially makes the marriage to me, not the government or the church, though those may be involved.

3. If you are married, why did you do it? If you are not, why have you not married?

I was married once, very briefly. I did it against my better instincts, as I was much younger then and more suggestible. I stay unmarried now because I prefer not to limit myself to a single woman and because I value my independence and privacy.

4. Do you believe in divorce?

Of course. Marriage was made for people; people weren't made for marriage. Marriage shouldn't be a lifelong prison sentence; if it doesn't work out, then cut your losses and move on. It shouldn't be an endurance contest where its success is measured mainly by how long it lasts.

5. If you are divorced, why did you do it? If you have not, are there certain circumstances under which you would agree to a divorce?

My divorce was by default -- she walked out on me. It would have happened, anyway, however, as my promiscuous predilections would have forced the matter sooner or later. I'm much happier now.

Bonus : Do you believe that same sex marriages are a threat to traditional marriages?

I can't see how what strangers do could have any possible effect on any particular marriage. As I've said before, it's the commitment agreed to among those involved that truly define a marriage, not external circumstances, such as how marriage law is defined.

And we must ask ourselves, what is "traditional" marriage, anyway? Marriage has existed in many different forms since ancient times and these different forms have managed to co-exist well enough until the present time. So-called "traditional" marriage, as today's conservatives currently define it, will continue to exist alongside same-sex marriage as long as there are those who choose to enter into this type of marriage.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Man of the 70s

In a recent Alternet article, Seeking the Hairless Porn Star Ideal, the author laments the increasing ubiquity of women with hairless pubic regions. The article was prompted by a bad experience after having a Brazilian wax.

As one who has long lamented this growing trend, I felt moved to comment:

A Man of the 70s

I became sexually active in the mid-70s, when no women would ever think of removing every bit of their pubic hair. The most women did then was trim it up a bit if they had random hairs that poked out of their panties or bathing suits. Otherwise, they came as nature intended. I didn't have any problem with it, nor did any other man I know.

I never encountered a bald one until the mid to late 90s. I didn't like it then, and the passage of time hasn't improved my opinion this phenomenon.

I want a woman to look like a grown woman, not a prepubescent girl. In my opinion, it's kind of creepy to see a woman who imitates the appearance of a little girl by maintaining a hairless pubic area.

Seeing a woman with a five o'clock shadow between her legs or who has an angry red rash there also doesn't do much to arouse me.

I hear guys nowadays say they prefer the hairless look because they prefer a woman to be "clean".

I don't know where people get the idea that hair = dirty. I have to deal with a similar misconception as a long haired male -- "clean cut" being a synonym for "short hair".

In the instance of female pubic hair, there's no problem if the woman bathes regularly, and I've seen no indication that women who go au naturel bathe any less frequently than their hairless sisters. So, it's not really a cleanliness issue.

I don't have a problem with a bit of trimming to keep it from showing when wearing a bathing suit, but removing every speck of hair is obsessive-compulsive and going overboard.

It's a trend that I hope even
tually falls by the wayside.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Just a little claustrophobic, hmm?

Apparently the owner of this tiny house on wheels doesn't mind. Dee Williams wanted to live a more environment-friendly life, and this 84 square foot doll house was one of the ways she chose.

The small house, which fits into a standard parking space was built from salvaged materials.

Her heating bill is only six dollars a month and solar panels allow her to have free electricity.

It might be fun when going camping or otherwise traveling, but I don't think I could take it full time. For one thing, I'd not be able to fit my entire book collection in there, though the loft bedroom looks sufficient for bedroom activities.