Monthly Archives: April 2013

Random Musings on Reincarnation

I really, really looked

for an appropriate illustration

but none of them were funny!

 

 

I don’t happen to believe in reincarnation, but the concept presents some interesting situations.

If you’re reincarnated, does deja vu feel different?

Could you be charged for 300 years overdue fines on the library book you lost in a previous life?

If you’re married in this life and have an affair with your spouse from a previous life, is it wrong?

If in a previous life you left everything to yourself in a next life, would you have to pay tax on the inheritance?

The worst thing of all?

All through whichever life you’re living, you’d know that when you come back you’d have to eat those awful tasting baby foods and suffer from diaper rash, all over again.

I Don’t Understand Sports

cricket

I’ve never understood sports, and even if I did understand sports, all it would take is the game of cricket to confuse me. I’m not sure anyone really understands cricket.

We drove 114 miles to watch my daughter play soccer today. After 1 hour of actual play, we drove 114 miles back.

I don’t understand soccer. They say even professional soccer players can’t quite figure out the off-sides rule, so I’m in good company.

But I do understand that I live and work for my family.

If that includes 2 hours each way (plus or minus) time to talk with my wife and whichever kid is playing; if that includes being there for my family and if that includes building memories my kids will carry with them, that I understand.

Doing Well / Doing Good

heal

http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/25/news/economy/cancer-drug-cost/

The link above goes to a disturbing article about a drug company that has tripled the price of an anti-cancer drug because people literally can’t live without it.

There’s a huge difference between doing well and doing good. Novartis, the drug company is apparently doing well.

On the other hand, we have the example of Jesus curing everything up to – and including – death. The most He asked for was some hospitality.

I doubt that when we meet our maker, He’ll be impressed by our ROI (Return On Investment) or EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortization).

I suspect He will judge us on WYDTLMB (Whatsoever You Do To the Least of My Brothers.)

Men and Women are Different

sign

Men and women are different. This has nothing to do with equality – it’s just a fact.

Women’s magazines stress the importance of men helping with the “hard k” sounding things – cleaning, cooking and kids. I have yet to see an article saying something like, “Bond with your husband by installing new wax seals for your toilets,” or “Love on a rooftop while replacing shingles.”

Women have a thing for bags and shoes. People have tried to explain this to me over the years. I nodded and smiled, but the vacant stare made it obvious that I just didn’t get it.

One told me that the popularity of shoes is due to the fact that the size remains the same.

Whatever.

I try to do my share of the “hard k” things on behalf of my family. When my wife and I first met, I was a single parent, so am fully qualified on laundry – including ironing and replacing buttons, and cook pretty well, if I do say so myself.

The other side of the equation is that guys like “hard g” sounding things – gadgets, grills, guns and guitars. Gadgets include tools, special purpose cooking utensils, and anything that uses fuel. I have a collection of guitars – acoustic, electric, six string, and twelve string. I have a Taylor that is my “church acoustic,” and yes, I have a “church electric, too. My everyday guitar sits next to my chair in the family room.

It’s a guy thing. At least I don’t need shoes to match each guitar.

Like I said, men and women are different.

Danger! Doom! And Disaster!

Among all the doom and gloom that we read about every day, is one particularly troubling story.

Giant snails are invading Florida.

I lived in Florida for a few years, and remember my wife reading to me from a book about Florida. The book said you could describe Florida in one word.

Bugs.

Now I know snails are really terrestrial pulmonate gastropod molluscs, but anything that makes you want to squish it qualifies as a bug in my book.

These snails are particularly nasty. They are Giant African Land Snails and get as big as rats while eating their way through stucco and plaster.

I believe that instead of panicking, we should act.

First, chill four cases of chardonnay.

Mix 100 pounds of butter with a quart of minced garlic and the juice and zest of two dozen lemons. Fire up the big grill and invite your friends over for an all-you-can-eat escargot party.

Better chill more chardonnay and add a couple of cases of beer.

grill

colbyandstacy.wordpress.com

Science Fun

bird

I enjoy science, so naturally I enjoy the little scientifically based trinkets that demonstrate a scientific principle. In other words, they do something that can be done easier and more efficiently, but the trinkets do it in a creative way.

There’s the drinking bird that bobs as the liquid inside cools. There’s the Galileo thermometer with the different colored balls; which tell you the temperature. Then, of course, the radiometer – it looks like an old incandescent light bulb with four blades inside which spin wildly in sunlight – although there’s no way to harness the power. Finally, there’s the little frame with 5 balls hanging from it to demonstrate Newton’s Third Law – for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.

Naturally, I’m fair game at certain stores.

I bought a “floating pen” that balances on its tip within a magnetic base.

I took it out of the box and told my wife that I used to have one of these and they are so cool.

I placed the magnetic base on the table in front of her, and set the pen into it.

Instead of standing up, it immediately fell over.

My wife laughed so hard, she almost fell over.

Hey, maybe this is one more way to demonstrate Newton’s Third Law!

Sunday

I got nothing accomplished today.

I spent the day going to church, and then hanging out with my wife.

But then, isn’t that what Sundays are for?

Random Thoughts

It’s Friday (Okay, it’s actually Saturday morning, but it’s early Saturday morning) – time for some (very) random thoughts

rubik

I can understand the bumper stickers that proclaim your child is an honor student; the child is proud of his accomplishment and wants to show it off. On the other hand, I don’t quite understand the “I love my [dog breed]” stickers. Do these people understand that their dogs can’t read?

Now that we have automatic toilets, soap dispensers, faucets and hand driers, would these create problems for the Invisible Man?

Kids want to know with cellphones everywhere, why still have a “land line” phone. That’s easy — because “I can hear you now” as opposed to “Can you repeat that?”

My computer wanted to change the line above to “a land line phone have.” Sounds like Yoda. I guess everyone is excited about the upcoming Star Wars movies.

Remember when your mother thought that the way to make any dish a gourmet meal only required pouring Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup over it?

Why do men generally prefer to cook outdoors? Bigger flames, lots of smoke and beer.

Why do most women look in the mirror and notice every flaw, completely missing their attractiveness while most men look in the mirror and see someone slightly better looking than the latest Hollywood heartthrob? Might be due to the exposure to the flames,, smoke and beer.

Uncle Jerry

Toledo Blade

Toledo Blade

When I was attending Central Catholic High School in Toledo, I learned to play clarinet and then went on to tenor saxophone and bassoon. I was not a very talented musician, but it gave me the opportunity to learn more about music and be exposed to a wide range of music types.

My clarinet teacher, Gerald V. DePrisco was also the music and band director. Being the late 1960’s, and just being a teenager, I was a bit irreverent. Don’t get me wrong, we’re talking about someone who not only played in band, but participated in the Science Club and all the area science fairs. I attended Mass in the school chapel on a regular basis. I worked at the main library downtown after school, so we’re not talking about a James Dean, “Rebel Without a Cause” Type.

We had one of, if not the best band in the city. We played well, marched complex half time shows, participated in numerous parades and had a great time throughout.

The band met in a separate building that had been where the high school had started. Originally it had housed maybe a dozen classrooms, but the intermediate walls had been removed to provide rehearsal rooms for the band, orchestra and Glee Club. There were also a few offices, one of which was Mr. DePrisco’s. A number of us used to hang around the outer office.

Each day I’d greet the band director with, “Hello, Uncle Jerry!”

He’d respond with, “Don’t call me Uncle Jerry! And get those sideburns trimmed!”

“Right, Uncle Jerry!”

A few years ago, his daughter started contacting alumni of Central Catholic’s band to have a band banquet and Music Hall of Fame. I wasn’t able to attend what became an annual event, but I wrote him a letter. His daughter called and gave me his phone number and I did have a chance to talk with “Uncle Jerry” on the phone. Naturally I bragged to him that although the talent gene skipped me, my children were much better than I.

It was a nice chat.

Yesterday his daughter sent out an e-mail saying that Uncle Jerry had died.

However the love of music that he infused in me has stayed with me and I’ve done my best to pass it on to my family.

Thanks, Uncle Jerry. You will not be forgotten, and yes, you’re in our prayers.

No Gridlock Here

npr

I’m not exactly a liberal, so sometimes NPR rubs me the wrong way. However, NPR does in-depth coverage of issues that only get sound-bite treatment from other sources, so I’m a regular listener.

(Yes, I’m a member, and have been donating for years.)

Occasionally NPR will cover some issues that no one else seems to want to cover.

Recently they investigated why the number of people receiving Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI – also known as disability payments) nearly doubled over the past 15 years. It turns out that there’s a whole industry dedicated to getting people disability payments. Who’s a big customer? State governments some of which pay thousands of dollars for each person moved from welfare (a state funded program) to disability (a federally funded program).

Thought provoking – the link is http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/490/trends-with-benefits?act=2#play

Today NPR had a piece describing how in a matter of 30 seconds Congress (the same Congress who can’t seem to agree on anything) passed a bill and got it signed by the President. Of course, this was a SPECIAL bill. A VERY SPECIAL BILL. This bill canceled many of the provisions of the law that made congressional financial trading more transparent. The original bill made it possible to see how lawmakers invest their largesse. Did Senator Whatsisname own stock in the pharmaceutical industry before voting on a bill that benefitted drug companies? The original law was intended to make it possible to find out. The thirty second bill fixed that.

If you’re interested in the details, here’s the link. http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/04/16/177496734/how-congress-quietly-overhauled-its-insider-trading-law

In the recent past I wished Congress could get along and get things done. Now, I’m not so sure.

Cowards & Heroes

Although I am trying to stick to more upbeat topics, I just have to comment on some recent news.

The bombing at the Boston Marathon was horrific. It is the sign of a spineless weasel totally without honor to plan and carry out such an act. Hiding. Sneaking. Hurting innocent people, then running away.

The same type of spineless and dishonorable weasel who would rape a young girl and post the pictures on the internet.

I have no use for such cowardly slime.

Thank God, there is another side to the story. In Boston, before the smoke had cleared, people – good people ran toward rather than from the scene to help. Some fashioned tourniquets from belts. Others grabbed a piece of cloth and applied pressure; when no cloth was available, they stanched bleeding with their bare hands. They carried people. They saw what was needed and provided whatever help they could.

To those people, I say thank you, and God bless you.

From the Tiniest to the Greatest

dna

One of the cases before the Supreme Court is to determine whether a company can patent its ability to identify a couple of genes and their potential for predicting cancer. Big money. Big deal.

Let’s ignore the legal aspects, and focus, for just a minute on the philosophical.

A gene is a tiny, tiny part of DNA.

DNA is a tiny, tiny part of a chromosome

A chromosome is a tiny, tiny part of a cell.

A cell is a tiny, tiny part of an organ.

An organ is only part of a system.

A system is only part of the human body.

The human body is only a part of what we call a person.

If this company claims a unique and beneficial capability because of a gene, imagine just how unique and beneficial a Creator who made all this happen. The genes, the DNA, the chromosomes, the cells, the organs the systems, the human. Then He put everything in the right place on the right planet in the right solar system under just the right circumstances.

Now THAT’s a big deal!

Goodbye Windows XP

xp

In less than a year, Windows XP will no longer be supported by Microsoft. This means no more updates, upgrades or security patches. For software, that’s pretty much the end.

Microsoft’s operating systems are like some families, there are winners, losers, and some family members we don’t even talk about.

Windows was Microsoft’s blatant attempt to have an operating system just like Apple’s. (See, it’s different; Apple has a trash can, Microsoft uses a recycling bin!!)

The first successful version of Windows was version 3.0. Version 1 and 2? Don’t ask.

For most of us, what came next was Windows 95 and 98 which were okay. An improvement here, an improvement there, but not earth shattering.

In 2000, Microsoft released Windows ME which was the first of Microsoft’s marketing efforts to get people to change to Apple computers. Windows ME was notable for its instability and was derided as “Mistake Edition” or “Many Errors.”

Everything up to this point Windows was a Graphical User Interface (GUI – pronounced gooey) bolted on top of the old command driven Disk Operating System (DOS). Basically you used a mouse to point and click and the computer essentially entered the equivalent old DOS command for you. However, a mouse was easier than remembering a couple of hundred commands each of which had to be typed in the exact correct manner. Windows XP eliminated this extra step and proved to be a robust reliable performer.

Totally unsubstantiated rumor has it that Microsoft realized that people would flock to whatever new operating system it released. If true, this would also mean that they wouldn’t have to make good operating systems every time.

If so, that would explain Windows Vista. Vista was universally recognized as a “target rich environment” for improvement. Many businesses elected to stay with or return to Windows XP. Everyone waited for the updates to correct the problems.

Microsoft’s solution was to release Windows 7; this meant you could buy what Windows Vista should have been rather than Microsoft correcting it. That was the bad news. The good news was that Windows 7 worked, was reliable and did most of the things that users wanted.

Then came Windows 8, supposedly for tablets, although it runs clumsily on laptops. Unfortunately, lots of people spell tablet “i-P-a-d” or else have something like a Kindle or Nook that uses its own operating system. Industry sources say that sales of PCs have dropped recently, and they believe the reason is that since the only option is Windows 8, people are holding off.

A winner, XP is being deep sixed. Windows 8, on the other hand…

I only recently took Windows XP off the only computer still running it and installed Windows 7.

At the same time, I updated 2 other computers by removing Windows 8 in favor of Windows 7.

So, to XP, I say, thanks for all the hard work. You’ll be remembered among geeks for a long time.

The Church, Science and Mistakes

Pope Francis graduated as a chemical technician before moving on to study philosophy, psychology and theology. CNN (Link below)

Pope Francis graduated as a chemical technician before moving on to study philosophy, psychology and theology. CNN (Link below)

It seems as if many are watching the Vatican to see what Pope Francis is going to do. Lord knows there are mistakes to be cleaned up.

Being human, and being an expert at making mistakes, I accept the fact that churches and their leaders do the same.

My family is not particularly fond of my mistakes, and I’m not fond of the church’s mistakes.

The relationship between science and theology, for example. The church decided that the sun went around the earth, and when Galileo took a “responsible opposing view” the gloves came off.

The problem was that Galileo was right and the church was wrong.

CNN quoted Monsignor Tomasz Trafny, the Director of the Vatican’s Science and Faith Foundation as saying, “There was a time when theologians thought they understood everything… If you look at what is going on today you will see that theologians are very careful about what they are thinking or speaking about related to scientific issues.” [Click for CNN article]

This is good.

As much as I like the pastor at our church, he can’t seem to tell me why my car makes that funny noise, how to get my lawn to look better and we won’t even talk about how bad his advice was on my golf game.

Nevertheless, on spiritual matters he’s good to have around.

Spring is Here

spring

Andy Warhol said something about someday everyone being famous for fifteen minutes. When asked about it, he intentionally misquoted himself, different each time.

But, as usual, I digress.

In Virginia, we get 15 minutes of Spring.

I think it was yesterday.

It was 90 degrees today.

Far Out Vacation

Cheech & Chong(Back in the Day)

Cheech & Chong
(Back in the Day)

Some friends of mine decided to take a vacation trip to one of the states that has recently legalized marijuana. Not exactly my cup of tea, but to each his own.  They’ve never entirely left the sixties.

However, curiosity got the best of me so I stopped over to see if their trip had met their expectations.

“So how was the vacation?” I asked.

“Ummmm. I’m not sure. I sort of can’t remember it,” he said.

“Well, where did you finally decide to go?” I continued.

“I think was either Washington or Colorado,” he answered somewhat vaguely.

“I wish we’d taken pictures,” added his wife. “All I know is it’s a week later and we’ve each gained 20 pounds.”

As for me, I think I’ll stick with Universal Studios and Disney.

“Doubting” Thomas

Today’s gospel was about Thomas, and how he didn’t believe the other apostles when they said they had seen Jesus risen from the dead.

Thomas was not an ingrate or an embarrassment. He was a realist. The last time Thomas had seen Jesus, He was being led away to be executed. Now Thomas’ friends are claiming that they’ve seen Jesus.

As they say, “When you’re dead, you’re dead.”

I’m sure that Thomas would have been ecstatic to hear how at the last minute, Jesus had escaped. How He had cheated the Pharisees out of their plans and plots. But to hear that Jesus had returned from the dead?

Sorry, just doesn’t happen.

Abraham? Sorry. Moses? Nope. David? No can do. Elijah? Isaiah? Not quite. God’s people are special, but death is a given.

Thomas was the one who challenged the whole resurrection situation on behalf of all of us who were to follow.

We don’t have to doubt because he did. His response? He proclaimed Jesus as “My Lord and my God.”

He asked the question then he provided the answer.

Thanks, Thomas.

Wednesday Night Prime Time TV

CC-logo [Converted]

6:00 NETWORK NEWS: The world on the brink of war! Threats from North Korea! Trouble in Syria! Palestine and Israel! Special report on how this affects Lindsay Lohan.

7:00 TRAILER TRASH: Cute little “Doggie Doo Doo” wants to go to school, but Big Fat Mama says, “No! You need to stay stupid, so we can keep having our own TV show!”

8:00 REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MOSCOW: Olga suspects husband Ivan of pursuing widow next door when she finds pictures of neighbor’s tractor in Ivan’s workshop. Meanwhile Alyona’s new job at the museum goes awry when she accidentally locks Lenin’s body in a closet and must convince Alexei to impersonate the dead Russian leader until the locksmith arrives.

9:00 SO YOU THINK YOU’VE GOT TALENT: Special Edition! A hilarious lineup of tone deaf musicians, uncoordinated dancers and a juggler with limited mobility due to an unfortunate accident with a chainsaw during his audition. Celebrity judges Nancy Grace, Lady GaGa, Paris Hilton and Kanye West all in particularly nasty moods.

10:00 SURVIVOR – HOLLYWOOD: NEW! Having eliminated the cost of writers, Survivor takes the next logical step and films on the streets of Hollywood. Contestants must face a series of challenges armed only with a Gucci bag and a Green American Express Card.

11:00 LOCAL NEWS: Someone went into a neighborhood bar but came out feet first. We’ll tell you who.

Down For the Count

I’m fighting with the computer tonight.

Every time the ref turns away, the computer gets in some dirty trick. I, on the other hand, am trying to fight fair.

I had the computer pinned to the canvas once, but when the referee’s count got to 9, the computer slipped him a $50 bill.

This may take a while, so no blog today.

Enough!

It’s never enough.

monopoly_house

 

People who strive to be rich rarely reach the point where they decide that they’ve succeeded. They seem to need to own one more income property or make one more stock killing.

Then there are faces of women on the magazine covers by the checkout counter at the supermarket. Different magazines have the same supermodel/superstar on the cover. Seeing multiple versions of the same face staring at me give me the creepy feeling that I’m at a clone convention.

They go from the “It Girl” to yesterday’s news to the Paparazzi special with no makeup, workout clothes and the expression that precedes a sneeze.

On the other hand, the ordinary people who live paycheck to paycheck and are happy that they look better than their driver’s license photo know that a home and a family is quite enough.