Friday, September 11, 2009

There is no "Hunk Privilege," Sweetie. (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 31)

Sweetie's Hunk of the Week is:

Charlie Hunnam.
This is what I have on my computer screen saver.
This and what appears to be drool.

You Don't Know Him Without: You have seen a show called "Undeclared," in which he was the only non-weird-looking cast member. I noted to Sweetie one day that with all the new networks and tv shows coming on, standards are dropping for how good you have to look to get on TV. Take WTBS, for example. They put on about 33 new shows a week, sometimes premiering one show in the middle of another, and each show features weirder and weirder looking people. We went from Sharona on Monk to that kind-of-strange-looking girl on My Boys to those odd-lookers on that one show about groceries...

No, not him.

Yeah. Him. See what I mean?

... but I digress. Charlie Hunnam was on Undeclared where he played the really, really, good-looking guy in the dorms. I'm sure it was a stretch for him. Sweetie and I, in discussing what character he played, decided on Rob.

We were wrong. He was Eric. We were probably getting Charlie Hunnam confused with the actor who we know only as Handsome Rob, because he played that role in a movie I saw. I can't remember that movie now, or anything about it, other than that the character played a role called Handsome Rob.

Handsome Rob.

Not Handsome Rob. But Still Handsome.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmmm About Him: I was going to go with "Was in A Movie Called Byker Grove," because that movie sounds like a TV Movie of The Week gone even more hilariously bad -- I pictured gangs on scooters terrorizing a neighborhood park until the town bands together to have a "National Night Out" after which the Bykers realize they've made some wrong choices in life and give up their life of kinda-crime to attend a good tech school-- except that when I saw that entry on IMDB, I immediately saw this entry on IMDB:

Soundtrack: 1. Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (1999) (performer: "Peaches")

I don't know if he sang a song called "Peaches" or if he performed as Peaches. I choose to think that Handsome Charlie opted to have a stage name of Peaches and then sang a song about himself, as Peaches.

Reason I Tell Myself Sweetie Likes Him: Because he's British and has scrunchy hair. As I pointed out to Sweetie last night, that weird-looking guy in Love, Actually was right: Chicks dig the accent.

This is the weird-looking guy from
Love, Actually. What happens to him
never actually happens to people who look like him. People who look like him at best can look forward to appearing on a WTBS TV show.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: I asked her that, and here is the exact actual speech she gave:

"He's the guy on our screen saver. You probably know him from Undeclared. I saw him on the commercial for Sons of Anarchy. I find him so foxy I could cry, which is weird because I don't usually like blondes except for Sophie Monk and Brooklyn Decker, but that's just another story. I can't even imagine being born looking like Brooklyn Decker. She's so foxy I want to lick her temple. Stop writing! Stop writing! These are things I tell you in husband confidence!"

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: She didn't even breath during that speech. Also: It's not confidential unless you tell me that first.

How did Sweetie miss this one in searching for our
new screen saver?

And by "Lost" I mean "Maxed them out in Las Vegas."

Are you tired of walking around with someone else's slogan on your chest? Me, too -- all these t-shirts, and none of them really have the message I want to send. I was looking through my t-shirts, and couldn't believe all the free advertising I was giving to other people: I'm A Pepper, or that I'm With Stupid, which you'd think would be Sweetie's, but it's not - -her's says "I'm with a guy who will be sleeping on the couch if he wears that shirt of his."

Instead of those we could be walking around in t-shirts that say what we really mean (I know, for example, that Sweetie's shirt doesn't really mean that), shirts that we create ourselves. It's easy and simple, as simple as 123.

Literally, because 123Print now lets you make custom t-shirts as easily as all the other 123Print stuff you've been making. Stationary, business cards, thank you notes, post-its, and now t-shirts, all easily creatable online, and you can get as many or as few as you'd like.

Team logo shirts, t-shirts to advertise your business, shirts for your garage band that's totally going to take off as soon as you can just get some gigs, whatever you want a t-shirt for, you can create it at 123Print.

I'm going to get one that says "If you make me sleep on the couch I won't tell you where I hid the credit cards," and on the back it'll say "And by "hid" I mean "lost" and I'm sorry."

the sun does shine on the dark side of the moon (Friday's Sunday's Poem 32)

Forgotten Planet

by Doug Dorph

I ask my daughter to name the planets.
"Venus ...Mars ...and Plunis!" she says.
When I was six or seven my father
woke me in the middle of the night.
We went down to the playground and lay
on our backs on the concrete looking up
for the meteors the tv said would shower.

I don't remember any meteors. I remember
my back pressed to the planet Earth,
my father's bulk like gravity next to me,
the occasional rumble from his throat,
the apartment buildings dark-windowed,
the sky close enough to poke with my finger.

Now, knowledge erodes wonder.
The niggling voce reminds me that the sun
does shine on the dark side of the moon.
My daughter's ignorance is my bliss.
Through her eyes I spy like a voyeur.

I travel in a rocket ship to the planet Plunis.
On Plunis I no longer long for the past.
On Plunis there are actual surprises.
On Plunis I am happy.

A long time ago, when Sweetie and I lived in an apartment, I went out to look at the Perseid meteor showers. I set my alarm and got up at 2 a.m., when they were supposed to be the best. I walked over to the park, which I thought might be dim enough to give me a better view of the meteor showers. I didn't want to head all the way out of the city, I just wanted to see meteor showers, at least once in my life. I waited about 20-30 minutes, and never saw even a single shooting star. I've never seen a meteor shower, putting them on a list with the green flash and tidal pools, a list of natural wonders I've never seen and suspect don't really exist. On the other hand, I have seen the northern lights, and I did see both Comet Hyakutake and Comet Hale-Bopp. So I haven't totally missed out on those kinds of things.

Solar Panels: Now 100% more available than they were just minutes ago.

Hey, remember when I suggested that people begin immediately using solar power even if it doesn't fully power all their needs?

What do you mean, you don't keep a running log of everything I say whenever I say it? What else have you go to do? Don't give me that "live my life" stuff. You know you hang on my every word.

Okay, maybe you don't, but you should because I not only give you great ideas like "go solar" but also great ways to do that, like providing you a link to a site that will help you Convert to Solar Energy One Panel at a Time!.

At Make Solar Panels, their goal is to convert us all to Solar Energy, and that's a great idea, to which they apply other great ideas, like don't wait until you can go totally solar to convert, but instead, set aside some money and once you have the funds to buy one panel, do it, and then keep building on it.

That's what you did with your Star Wars Figure collection, after all, and look how well that worked. (Note to self: Find Star Wars figure collection. Mom probably has it.)

Make Solar Panels has advice on how to afford solar panels and how to encourage others to make them, so bookmark that page, get going on your solar power, and then get back to noting every word I say.

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Thirty-Five

35. Put people before pets.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one story struck me as immensely wrong. While people were still being evacuated and rescued and searched for, while there were still missing or sick or dying humans, there were people who were spending their time and money and effort searching for pets.

I read, all the time, stories about people who have surgeries for their animals, people who spend days volunteering to rescue mistreated dogs and cats, pet therapists, pet spas, and, frankly, it makes me a little sick.

We have two cats. We've had other cats before. Growing up, I had cats and dogs and a parakeet. We've had hamsters, gerbils, fish... a whole petting zoo of pets. I don't dislike animals. Not a bit.

What I do dislike is the fact that people spend money and time and energy saving a dog or cat while people, living breathing human beings, suffer and go hungry.

This is sad:

But this is heartrending:

Americans spend between $40-48 million dollars on their pets each year.

I'm not suggesting not having pets. I'm not suggesting not caring for pets. I'm suggesting that we place more emphasis on people than on animals. I'm saying that before we send a boat out to round up dogs in a flood, we ought to make sure that all the people are alive. I'm saying before we complain that there's no money for health care, we might want to skip that trip to the cat spa. There are people who need jobs and health care and legal help and homes and cars and help, many of them right in our own neighborhoods, and we drive past them on the way to take the poodle to the groomer so she looks cute.

It's easy to follow this rule: Here's what you do: Before you spend even a single dollar on a pet, either send that little boy or someone like him a dollar, too. Or imagine looking him in the eye and telling him why your cat needs a new bed but he doesn't need dinner.

Every year, I contribute to the Shaw Twins an amount of money equal to what I spend on our pets and my music. You can do the same for them or someone else. If you want to know more about the Shaw Twins, click here. To find out how to contribute to their medical bills and other needs, click here.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I don't even really like those two teams. I just like football. (3 Good Things From 9/10/09)

Pictured: The long-awaited photo of the Famous Spaghetti Pizza.

1. Mr Bunches saves the day! While grocery shopping with the Babies! last night, Mr F was crabby and crying -- he'd fallen asleep on the way there and didn't want to get up. About midway through the trip, as Mr F got so upset I thought I might have to leave the store, Mr Bunches located, entirely on his own, a bag of cookies and brought them over, offering them to Mr F, who immediately stopped crying. A couple of cookies later, Mr F was smiling and laughing.

2. Football is back! I got to listen to 5 minutes of the Steelers-Titans game on the radio while driving home, and it was the precise 5 minutes you'd want to listen to, with all the action and touchdowns. (Then, I got home and accidentally wrecked it for The Boy by telling him about the series of plays even though he'd taped the game and not gotten that far in it yet.)(In my defense... I forgot he'd taped the game.)

3. Pizza for dinner meant not only pizza for dinner but leftover pizza as a snack later on. (And, of course, pizza for breakfast today...)

The pizza OUGHT to be included. Now, that's a promotion!

One morning, I came downstairs ready for work, and Sweetie asked me if she'd done something wrong on the computer.

"Probably," I answered, and then asked: "What'd you do?"

"I clicked on a link that said there was a problem with our account and I had to click it to fix that problem."

As you might imagine, I spun into action immediately, not even taking time to finish my leftover pizza: Clicking on weird links that nobody knew about, links intended to fix problems you didn't know you had, are an invitation to identity theft. And while I'm not sure anyone would want to steal my credit (or that they'd get very far if they did) I don't want them to try, either.

I wasn't upset with Sweetie as I frantically went in and changed all our banking and email passwords and otherwise tried to protect the $1.43 we have in our "investments." After all, anytime you're online shopping or doing business, your credit is at risk, with the threat getting worse all the time.

After spending an hour doing that (changing all our passwords to "BenRoethlisbergerIsTooTall77516")(don't abuse that, now-- I'm trusting you), I went and got Shop Shield®

If Identity Theft is a Problem, then Stop Shield is the program that will not only stop the problem but will let you spend your mornings eating cold pizza instead of stopping computer virus-ry.

Shop Shield® prevents hackers and criminals from getting personal information like phone numbers, credit card numbers, email addresses and more. It stops that the best way: when you use Stop Shield, your information is never passed on to a website. Stop Shield gives you Secure Site registration to let you create and manage random user names and passwords and anonymous email addresses, all for shopping, while you save your real information for friends and family and people who read your blog. (That's: "BenRoethlisbergerIsTooTall77516". You're all like family to me.)

Stop Shield also lets you check out safely by serving as a Secure Payment Agent, protecting that personal information. As an added benefit, because your real information is never given to businesses, they can't SELL your information, so you'll probably reduce the spam and telemarketing calls.

And, best of all: It's FREE.

Totally FREE. So why not do what I did? Get Stop Shield, and get another slice of cold pizza. (Pizza not included.)

Question of the Day: 68:

How much money would it take for you to give up, forever, something you love to do?

I originally came up with the Question of the Day to pass along questions like this, which pop into my mind from time to time and help me kill the time while I'm cleaning up the water Mr F spilt onto the floor because he (re)discovered the refrigerator water dispenser.

I used to wonder whether it would be worth it to make a ton of money doing something even if it meant that I could never do that thing again, a question I consider the "Donny Osmond" question, since Donny Osmond made a lot of money (I think) but nobody takes him seriously as an artist, so while he's free to make music, he'll never really get to promote that music or be considered the King of Rock & Roll or anything.

Recently, I began wondering today's question, which is kind of the opposite. When I initially thought about it, I considered it in the context of careers: how much would someone have to pay me to never practice law again, or never write again?

But then I decided that was too easy. It's not much of a choice, is it, being given a ton of dough to simply not work.

So I asked myself this: what if what they were paying me to do was something I really, really love, like eating pizza or listening to music?

question got to me: How much would someone have to pay me to never listen to music again... to give up my iPod and my CDs and not put Pandora on the computer and not listen to videos on Youtube and get rid of my radios, to have to walk away when songs were playing in public, not go to concerts... never listen to music, period, again.

Or read. What if someone offered me (or you, if you love to read), $500,000,000 in exchange for you (or me) never reading another book or magazine or newspaper or website. You (or I) could watch all the TV and movies and videos we wanted, we just couldn't read anything in print.

When you think about it that way, it's quite a question. $500 million's a lot of money. But to never read again?

It's the All Video Three Good Things (3 Good Things From 9/9/09)

My 3 Good Things from yesterday are all videos, as I move triumphantly into the 20th century....

1. This video, which was funny enough for me to wait, patiently, at home, for it to load in so that I could show it to Sweetie and The Boy:

2. This video, which isn't much of a video, but it takes a song that stunk and turns it into a song I liked when I watched "Glee" last night:

3. This video, which The Boy can recite almost word-for-word, and which he performed most of last night for us at dinner:

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Thirty-Four

34. Share the profits with employees, directly and frequently.

Let me give you two historical examples before I explain directly:

I used to be a much-worse employee than I am now, even, back when I worked at a Subway restaurant to get through college. The owner of the Subway was pretty nice; he said that when things were slow, as long as our work was done, he didn't mind if we did our homework or read the paper or hung out.

Which meant that every single employee wanted to work when it was slow, and hated when customers came in. Seriously hated them, to the point where we tried, actively, to discourage customers from ever coming in. We weren't polite to them, we hurried them out, we closed 15 minutes early.

Yes, doing that threatened our jobs in the long run, because ultimately if we were successful the store would hire fewer people and maybe close. But we didn't intend to work there our whole lives, and, also, we were stupid.

And, also-er, we didn't make anything extra when it was busier, so why would we want to work harder? If I could get paid $3.35 an hour for doing my homework or listening to the radio, why would I want to get paid $3.35 an hour to make you a "BMT?"

Later on, when I was a marginally better employee, Sweetie worked at a law firm that practiced bankruptcy. You may recall (or may not) that the bankruptcy laws changed a while back, and everyone knew the change was coming, so everyone tried to get in and file bankruptcy, lining up to do so like bankruptcy was the Rock Band Beatles of 2005, which it kind of was.

Sweetie was a legal secretary, paid on salary. Her bosses -- there were two employees, total -- were the bankruptcy lawyers. Her firm did a ton of business that year, more business in that year, I bet, than they did in the 5 years prior to it. They were busier than ever, and made more money than ever. Tons and tons of money. (One of the ironies of law is that it's possibly to make money representing people who are bankrupt. That's lawyers for you.)

Sweetie worked harder than ever at that job, and stayed late, worked through lunches sometimes, slaved away. And when it was all done and the dust cleared and the law changed and everyone was bankrupt, her bosses...

... gave her nothing from the extra money they'd earned. Not a dang thing. She had worked harder, too, as they had, and she worked for a company that had just had a huge windfall drop into its lap, and she got nothing extra out of it.

There are those who will say: well, she got her pay, which is what she agreed to, but you're only half right if you said that. Her pay was worked out well before things changed got busier, for one thing, so her pay wasn't factoring in the extra work.

But more important is the point those two stories bring up, which is this: If employees are not connected to how the business is doing, they're less motivated to work hard for the company. I'm all for people giving their all and being loyal and all that junk, but I'm all-the-more for recognizing human nature, and human nature is this: people work harder when there's something in it for them, and work even harder when there's something extra in it for them.

Which is where profit sharing comes in. Every employee, from the CEO down to the guy who comes in once a week to dust off the bubbler (does that job really exist?) should share in profits, and they should do it frequently and without a lot of rigamarole. I suggest that of every dollar that comes into the business, 1 cent be set aside to dole out bonuses at the end of the week. 1 percent, right off the top, so that at the end of the week, every single person shares in that profit.

It doesn't have to be equal, although that'd be nice (since salaries are likely unequal already, it might help create a sense of camaraderie among everyone), but it should be shared.

Doing that gives an incentive for employees -- every employee-- to boost the bottom line. If McDonald's workers know that at the end of the week they're getting a bonus based on sales, they'll be more likely to try to talk me into an apple pie. If receptionists know that the payment dropped off will go in part to them, they'll not mind asking the client to leave the payment. Employees should be looking at the bottom line, but there's a lot of things people should be doing, and they don't.

Doing that, also, makes employees feel more connected with the business and its customers and its health. They see an immediate impact: busier equals more pay. More collections equal more pay.

Plus, it's just more fair. Most of the time, as business increases, the bosses don't get more busy, the front-line people do. But the bosses reap most, if not all, of the extra money. Life isn't fair, I know -- but we shouldn't just accept that and move on.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

We Go To The Library Of The Damned, Apparently. (Quote of the Day, 39)

Sweetie makes this list again, at the end.

I like the library. Sweetie does not. I don't understand why she doesn't like the library. I mean, yeah, I've had my problems with the library, but they allow me to check out books and movies and DVDs, for free. Free is one of the main driving forces in my life, one step above pizza and one step below love.

Okay, a half-step below love.

So I am all about the library, but Sweetie is not. I'll go to the library and get some movies for the Babies!, but Sweetie won't show the movies to the Babies! because they came from the library. She's opposed to The Sword In The Stone DVD because I bought it from the library.

Last week, Sweetie said we had to run some errands on Friday and I said that we needed to stop at the library, to which Sweetie responded something like Oh, God No, followed by groaning.

So I said: "What have you got against the library, anyway? I'm the one that needs to stop there, not you, and it doesn't cost you anything, anyway."

And Sweetie responded "Just my soul."

No pictures are working today! (3 Good Things From 9/8/09)

I don't need to re-buy all four billion Beatles' songs to make my day. I've got my 3 Good Things from yesterday to keep me happy today:

1. I got another notch tighter on my belt, without discomfort -- so the Baby Workout is a winner.

2. I found out that people are subscribing to my blogs on the Kindle. I'm like a magazine! I have subscribers!

3. Although I don't usually count "losing at Jeopardy!" as a good thing, I was impressed by The Boy knowing that Anglicana Ecclesia was a phrase used in the Magna Carta. (My guess? Doonesbury's Greatest Hits.)

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Thirty-Three

33. Dress up, at least a little, in public.

I love my Crocs. And my t-shirts. And my sweatshirts. And I used to love that one pair of cutoff shorts I had that I'm pretty sure Sweetie threw away.

But I'm making an effort, now, to look at least a little sharper when I leave the friendly confines of my yard. I'm trying to wear tennis shoes and a nicer shirt whenever possible.

I began thinking about this about the time, two years ago, or so, that I decided that I'd wear more ties to the office instead of a lot of polo shirts and sweaters. I did that, dressing up at the office, because I wanted to advance more quickly at my firm and wanted clients to believe they were getting competent help. Who wants to hire a lawyer who looks like a bum? Who wants to promote a lawyer who looks like a bum?

That worked very well (and continues working.) I'm wearing a tie now, even though I had no client meetings or court hearings planned today. If you see me in December, I'll likely have a tie on underneath my Christmas sweater, something I do because I know I have the tie on, even if you don't. Wearing a tie looks more professional and grown-up, and so I act more professional and grown-up, and people treat me as a professional, grown-up person.

That can carry over, I think, even into casual clothes. I'm not saying that you should put on a suit to head to Dairy Queen. I'm saying that instead of heading off to grocery shop while wearing your flip-flops and pajama bottoms with that torn up Spring Break T-shirt, take a look in the mirror and the put on, say, a nice clean t-shirt, a pair of nice shorts, and some shoes. Doing that will improve the way people treat you, and the way you treat people, and make the world a little better place.

Prior entries:

32. Apply the "Line Pass" philosophy to everything (including some government services).

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cross-Pollinization and This Week's Facebook Friend of the Week:

Did you know that you can Kindle my blogs? And that people are already doing that? If you Kindle any of my blogs, email me at "thetroublewithroy[at]" (put "Kindle" in the subject line) and let me know, and I'll send you a free copy of one of my books. Just 99 cents per month gets you my blog delivered straight to your Kindle. Click here for more information.

What I'm Writing:

It's more than just an excuse for pictures of girls kissing girls... but there are those, too. Those pictures, and Rachel on the run from the flying saucer invasion of Valhalla, in the only story ever about a lesbian zombie and her octopus. (Lesbian Zombies Are Taking Over The World!)

Bustin' makes me feel good! and so did movie theme songs, which have virtually disappeared. But I'm bringing them back. (The Best Of Everything.)

Bumpy's alone in New York, and waiting for a call, or a visit. Or something. We're nearing the end of Up So Down... (5 Pages)

Joe The Magician is alone in his dressing room, and making Conan O'Brien's out of light as he waits for them to come get arrest him for ending the world before 2012 (AfterDark.)

NASA hates little kids, likes corporations. And it's tough to break into the publishing business without NASA on your side, as all aspiring writers know. (AAAUGGH!)

Debt collectors, and cats and dogs living together? We're halfway through 30 Days of Debt Collection. Do you feel smarter? I know I do. (Family and Consumer Law: The Blog)

I expect a lawsuit from Peyton Manning, or Sandra Bullock, any day now: But that's the risks you take when your no-holds-barred sports post, Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!, joins the poems, pictures of Babies!, terrible jokes, and Sweetie quotes as a regular feature. (Thinking The Lions)

What I'm Reading:

Not all of life's problems can be solved in a Ziggy comic: That's why I check out A Smarter Planet, the blog of intelligent solutions to difficult problems.

You say Amoh-bay, I say where've you been? What I'm not reading is Husbands Anonymous, a funny & interesting blog that hasn't been published in a while. Check out the archives and hope that Scott's doing okay. (Husband's Anonymous)

Facebook Friend of The Week: is Dara England. Dara writes fantasy, paranormal romance, and historical fiction, and reads the "Wheel of Time" series, which I only recently became aware of but which is apparently a big deal. Or not. I don't know much about it. Dara's novel "Brought to Life" was released just this past March by Lyrical Press, after she was first published in 2006. Which means, if you're a writer, Dara took your spot in the publishing world. But her books earned her that spot, so go friend her anyway. Or check out her website.

Moving Middle in could've been even worse if I hadn't, while she wasn't looking, just thrown out half her boxes.

How'd you like to be faced with this: we had just unloaded all of Middle's stuff at her dorm room in Oshkosh on Monday and I'd sent Sweetie and Middle to check in and get a cart, when a guy comes by and says "They'll only let you take the elevators if you're moving into the 5th floor or higher."

Middle was moving into the 4th floor. Middle was moving a television, about 500 boxes full of pictures of kittens, and all her shoes, into the fourth floor, up four twisty flights of stairs carrying all that while trying to slide past all the other people carrying all their kids' stuff up the same stairs or going back down to get more.

Luckily for us, Sweetie was there to guard the boxes and eventually carry a pillow up, or we might never have gotten done. It ultimately took 5 trips up and down those stairs -- make that "5 Trips Plus Two of My Vertebrae."

I could've used HireAHelper. HireAHelper is a site that puts people in touch with day laborers for getting a spot job done. Since 2007, they've helped over 4,000 registered helpers work with customers to take care of some hard job or other.

Too bad I didn't know about them first: they've got sections for Movers, landscaping, cleaning, and general help. They're endorsed by and, and using HireAHelper can save $300 on moving costs, on average, because they're cheaper than regular movers: just rent your own truck, HireAHelper, and save.

In fact, I could've used them for tearing down that shed last year, too, and for redoing our backyard, if only I'd known about them. But now that I do know about them, I'm using them for everything. In fact, I'm going over there right now to see if they've got a "Help Potty Train A Pair of Overly Active 3-Year-Olds" section. And, while I'm there, I'll look for "Help Clean The Boy's Room Which At This Point Probably Requires A HazMat Team" section. No point putting that off anymore.

Everything is better if you just say "and pizza" at the end of it. (3 Good Things From 9/7/09)

This morning, I got all the way to my car before I realized that I'd gotten dressed wrong, putting on a gray shirt, brown pants, and a green tie-- tricked by the light in my bedroom that distorts colors. I had to head back in and change, pointing out to Sweetie that I work in a law firm, not Cirque du Soleil, and causing me to run behind. Luckily, I've got my 3 Good Things from yesterday to cheer me up today:

1. There were Junior Mints just sitting out on the counter when I got home from work, available for snacking even though officially I do not snack, but it's not snacking if you just grab a couple of Junior Mints from the open box someone left there and then head upstairs to find out where everyone is.

2. Mr F played Legos with me. For 3 years now, the only thing Mr F and Mr Bunches have done with Legos is tear them apart. But last night, Mr F was helping me build with them. (Then Mr Bunches would tear them apart.)

3. There was pizza for dinner... thanks to me. The Boy has been in charge of selecting and cooking dinners this week due to a reversal of chores I imposed last week when he complained about us not having groceries. His planned meal for last night was... soup and rolls, which I didn't understand at all. But he was then busy with his friends when dinner time came, so I took it upon myself to cook dinner and change it do soup and rolls and pizza.

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Thirty-Two

32. Apply the "Line Pass" philosophy to everything (including some government services).

At first, I got upset when I saw Line Passes at amusement parks; those are (if you don't know) passes that let people pay extra and then jump to the front of the line. People like me (cheap) have to wait in line while people like them (rich) get to skip to the head of the line just because they shelled out a little extra.

But then I thought: why not? What's wrong with that? We're talking about luxuries, after all -- skipping to the front of the line at a roller coaster -- and there's nothing inherently fair or unfair about letting people skip ahead if they're willing to pay a little more. After all, I paid, say $40 to get in and get a chance to ride the roller coaster. They paid, say, $60 to get in and get a chance to ride,ahead of me,
and if that seems unfair, then consider this: what about the people who couldn't afford to get in at all? Shouldn't they get to ride, too?

No, I'm not advocating free entry to Great America. I'm saying that fair is a malleable concept, especially when it comes to luxuries. So if people want to pay a little more to skip ahead or get special treatment, why not let them?

Imagine if you had a choice of a premium lane at the grocery store: Pay 10% extra on your groceries to use that lane (or belong to a grocery club that costs $100 a year but which gives you a card to skip ahead.) Not many people would probably opt to go into such a lane, which in turn would make it a very attractive option for people with more money, or less groceries who just want to get in and get out.

Or pay a surcharge to jump to the head of the queue on NetFlix. You already pay more to see movies sooner: If you go opening night, around here, you'll pay $8.50 to see a movie. Go the next morning, you'll pay $6.50. Wait three weeks and see it in a budget theater for $2.50, but who does that? People who place a premium on saving money over seeing early movies. So what would be wrong with NetFlix charging you an extra buck to be first in line? I wouldn't pay it, but if you did, then shouldn't you get to skip?

We already do this in some instances: you can buy tickets ahead of time for movies, if you pay to have the Internet and if you pay extra for your tickets, so if skipping the line at the box office is worth the cost of an internet connection and a surcharge, you can get ahead of me as I wait there behind the lady who never is really sure why she's come there.

This could apply to some, but not all, government services, too: We could designate one lane on any multilane road as the Line Pass lane and let people pay a monthly fee to get a sticker to use that lane. Pay an extra, say, $200 per month, and you get to use the fast lane to and from work. The rest of us could use the regular lane and save some money, while having you speedsters-with-money pay for our roads, too.

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Wouldn't Peyton Manning and Sandra Bullock make a cute couple? (Nonsportsmanlike Conduct 1)

What's a Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!, you ask?

Nothing! What's a Nonsportsmanlike Conduct! with you?

Ha! I crack me up. But if you want to know what this is all about, click here. Or, you know, just read it. What else are you doing today? Nothing, that's what. Certainly nothing better than this, that's for sure.

I can say that with certainty because I know what this is and you don't yet know what this is. If you want to catch up with me, just read the next sentence and you'll know what I know, at which point you'll agree with me that this is way better than watching some dumb Law & Order marathon or cleaning the garage (which is likely what Sweetie and The Boy are up to even as we speak)... but, enough of that, because it's time for you to read that next sentence, which is:

It's Time To Predict The NFL Season... by Looking At What Summer Movies Tell Us To Expect From The Upcoming Football Season...

I told you this would be good. Anyone who knows me knows that if there's one thing I firmly believe, it's that pop culture is the most accurate predictor of the future, if, like me, you know how to read the tea leaves. (So to speak. I'm not actually reading tea leaves, because tea is gross, and tea leaves are more gross.)

This is the time of year, a week before the NFL season, that everyone is looking at all the teams in the league and predicting what each will do. Why, Sports Illustrated has even gone so far as to predict not only who would be in the Superbowl, but also to predict the exact final score of the Superbowl. (They predict it'll be Patriots 30, Bears 27, but bear in mind that they do so in the same magazine where one of their columnists writes about how they're always wrong and consults a psychic who says that the Jets will win the Superbowl.)

They're all crazy, of course, because the only way to predict the NFL season, the only surefire, bona fide, 100% accurate method of saying what's going to happen this year in the NFL is to ask me. That's the case because only I have my 100% Patented, Sure-Fire Nonsportsmanlike Conduct! Method Of Predictions, which is to look at pop culture (in this case, summer movies) and see what they say is in store for football fans.

Let's begin, shall we?

The hottest new offense this year will be the Two Quarterback Set. Every football year features some "new" offense that NFL coaches stole from high school coaches. Last year it was the "Wildcat" in which something-or-other blah blah blah. (I hope I'm not being too technical there.)

The year before that it was the spread offense, the key to which was having reporters repeatedly write headlines about how impossible it was to defend the spread offense, which headlines would be read by defensive players during the week, causing them to mentally crumble long before game time, thereby sparing coaches from actually having to come up with an offense; at game time, they simply handed the ball off 30 times.

Before that, the NFL was all afire with its Let's Score Lots Of Points offense, until that was effectively offset by defensive coordinators coming up with the creative Let's not let them score at all defense.

As a longtime sports analyst* (*"analyst" means I usually fall asleep midway through the third quarter, as the Pizza Nachos (TM) kick in) I've looked at what offense will be hot this year and decided it's the 2 Quarterback Offense. I've decided that by looking at what was the number one movie over the summer, Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen. I've selectively quoted from the Wikidiotpedia Plot Summary as follows:

It is revealed that thousands of years ago there was a race of ancient Transformers... in 17,000 BC, one brother... something about the Matrix of leadership... did it really say that "Sam Witwicky" thought something was dangerous, so he gave it to his girlfriend and went off to college? ( Yes, it did.)(It also said that the plot description is overly long. It's amazing: It took a couple hundred words to start this country, but it takes 13 pages, with footnotes, to describe the plot of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.)

(Pictured: Peyton Manning)

I give up on that. I mean, he thought it was dangerous, so he gave it to his girlfriend. That's what passes for boyfriend-ry these days? Standards sure have fallen.

Instead of going by what Transformers has to say, I'll just tell you why I think 2 Quarterbacks, One Ball will be the hot new trend, and I'll pepper my commentary with vaguely-Transformer related words.

Here's why I think the 2 Quarterback Offense will be big this year: Because teams have more good (i.e., highly-paid) quarterbacks than ever and need to justify that kind of money being spent. While the Packers have only two on their roster (thanks to ever-more-brilliant leadership from Packers GM Ted Thompson, who will be fired January 9, 2010), other teams are carrying not only more quarterbacks but also more starting-caliber quarterbacks. The Eagles have 3 QBs on their roster, but at least two are starter-caliber quarterbacks, the Titans have two starters, the Cardinals have two starting-caliber quarterbacks. The Detroit Lions (still technically a pro football team, despite all odds) have their number one draft pick plus Daunte Culpepper (still technically a pro football quarterback, despite all odds). The Vikings have 73 quarterbacks on their roster, counting Brett Favre as 72 quarterbacks because he's so good (and counting Tavaris Jackson as -1 quarterback, because he's the exact opposite.)

A player of starting caliber, like Vince Young, or Matt Leinart, gets starting-caliber money, and paying those players all that money means pressure to get them on the field, and the best way to get an NFL player on the field... stay with me here, it's complicated... is to put him on the field.

That's where The Transformers, etc. etc. comes in: Pop culture teaches us that changing... transforming... keeping the enemy guessing, is hot right now, and that means the NFL is going to try to keep teams guessing by transforming (see?) their offense. Put two quarterbacks in the backfield and the defense will never know who's going to get the snap, where the handoff will be going, who might throw a pass, when your 40-year-old quarterback might pretend to run out on a pass route and then illegally block someone to "shake the rust off..." -- a phrase I'll count as another Transformer reference just to wrap up this prediction and move on.

Bet On The
Old Guys & Re-runs: Every year, some news organization talks about a 'youth movement' or a sports writer hacks up a column about some young quarterback doing something or other or a hot new coach who's only 23 reinventing the very concept of football. (Sample quote: "As a 23-year-old, I don't know any better, so I said to myself, 'why do we need a ball at all?'")

Well, I say this as an old guy (so you know where my bias lies): Young people are dumb. (So are sports writers.)

I'm going with old people and reruns, just like the United States did with its movies this year. 6 of the top 10 highest-grossing movies this year so far are remakes or sequels. Four of them feature stars who are over 30, at least, if not over 40. (Or, in Sandra Bullock's case, secretly over 60 but very well-preserved.)(That doesn't count the dinosaurs in Ice Age or the monsters in Monsters v. Aliens, and it doesn't count Ryan Reynolds, who is, technically, a robot.)

(Pictured: Peyton Manning.)

There's a reason the US, and pop culture in general, prefers older people and reruns. We're boring. We can't stand the idea of anything new or unique or interesting or novel and so we constantly have to repackage stuff using the same old brand names. Got a new soda flavor? Better call it Mountain Dew Something-Or-Other. Got an idea for a space movie? Forget Firefly. Just name your protagonist Captain Kirk and you'll make $256,000,000... in a down economy.

And if you've got a football team that you want people to buy tickets to (selling tickets and merchandise being the number one goal of all sports franchises, remember. They don't want to win, they want to sell stuff to you. If winning helps that, then they'll try to win, but if it's winning or selling you stuff, sports franchises will always opt for sell you stuff), if you want people to buy tickets, it's far better to go with a rerun or old guy than a new, unknown guy. That's why Favre is in Minnesota, and it's why Matt Cassel was brought in by Kansas City. It's why Denver and Chicago traded ineffective quarterbacks; unhappy with their current guys, each opted to get the other's current guy instead of starting someone unknown.

The way quarterbacks are treated now, it's only a matter of time until we actually have Mountain Dew Brett Favre.

But there's an upside to this, and it's that being old or a rerun generally gives some indication of quality, or, if not quality than at least competence. There's a reason that Star Trek hangs around forever while The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai fades away, and that's because predictability and dependability count for something, both in the NFL and in things that actually matter. Sometimes, you don't want to try a new fancy restaurant, you just want a Denny's burger, and sometimes you don't want to be risky and so you decide to just put Kurt Warner in there to start. Old guys and reruns have proven they have what it takes to not lose football games, and, more importantly, to sell you jerseys with their names on them.

In fact, I've already bought my Favre Vikings jersey. (Well, Sweetie bought it.) I'm going to wear it to see Star Trek XIV: Night At The Museum of Transformers. In 3-D.

Look For Passing To Be UP! This Year: God, I hope I'm right about this. Every year, sports writers talk about the need to "balance" the attack, to focus on running the ball, to "stick to the ground game..."


And wrong.

You're expecting some kind of Peyton
Manning joke, here, right? Well, sorry to
let you down, but I'm not that predictable.
(Pictured: Sandra Bullock.)

NFL teams -- football teams in general -- don't need to "stick to the run" or "balance the attack" or any of that garbage. It doesn't matter if a team runs the ball only 3 times and passes the rest of the time (as Oakland once did in a playoff victory.) What matters is that they do whatever they're doing well. If they're a good running team, they can run the ball up the middle on play after play after play, even if the defense knows what's going to happen, and still score a touchdown to put the Superbowl out of reach of the Buffalo Bills (as Dallas did in The Rematch.) If they're a good passing team, they can pass on every single down and still win the game.

Balance is bunk. Remember that. Coaches and players and sports writers won't remember it and won't live by it, but they should, because "balancing the attack" and "establishing the run" is all a load of garbage. "Balancing the attack" would mean that if a team has passed the ball a lot already, they should call a running play -- even if the defense looks susceptible to the pass. "Establishing the run" means a team should keep trying to run the ball even if that's not working. (You know what you never hear? You never hear a sportscaster say this team is running the ball too much. They need to balance it out. Why does "balance" only count when you're balancing too much passing with more running, and not vice versa?)

("Vice versa," by the way, is Latin for The Houston Texans won't be very good again this year.)

If I were a coach, I wouldn't worry about balancing the attack or establishing the run. I'd just worry about winning. Yards are yards and points are points. It doesn't matter how you get them; just get them. If you're a good passing team, pass a lot and tell the sports writers to shut up.

Even with all the talk of "balance," I expect there will be more passing this year than ever before. Why? you'll ask... and probably just did, and you'll expect that I'll say something like statistical trends... or rules changes... or something, but, really, I'm just saying that there'll be more passing because I want there to be more passing, since without that, most of the football games on TV this year will be boring, as most of them always are, made boring by coaches trying to run the ball, constantly, over and over, into the line, to establish the run, when they could be throwing passes and having spectacular catches and diving grabs and long plays and touchdowns. But they won't. They'll run the ball, over and over, and make the games even less interesting than they should be. That's why I always fall asleep by the third quarter. (That and the Pizza Nachos. Recipe available on request, for a fee.)

Or, if I don't fall asleep, I decide that instead of wasting three hours watching some dumb football game when I can see the highlights later and have the same thrill in 2 minutes instead of 3 hours, and so I turn off the game and watch a DVD instead. Something like Up!...

You won't, I bet, see any boring-handoff-running-into-the-pile plays in that. Dinosaurs, maybe, but no running plays. Given a choice between a football game and this movie, I know what I'll be watching on Sunday afternoons.

But I'm still making those pizza nachos.

Next week: The arbitrary picks! return, and I'll fire up my rivalry with Jerry Greene again!