Saturday, January 16, 2010

You say Neato, Check Your Libido... (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 45)

There are things people can do, and things people can't do. Take the Hunk of the Week, for example:

Matthew Morrison.

Matthew Morrison can do some things, things that other people can't. Like, say, Bust A Move. That [SPOILER ALERT!] is Sweetie's actual reason for liking Matthew Morrison and choosing him as the 45th Hunk of the Week.

He can bust a move.

Saying what Matthew Morrison can do brings up the other side of that coin, things people can't do, and into that category falls Sweetie, who can't say "bust a move." Or, to put it more clearly, while Sweetie is physically capable of saying the words He can bust a move, when she says those words, they stop becoming cool and instead become lame.

It's not Sweetie's fault. It's just the way the world is. Almost everything can become lame if the wrong person says it. And in this case, Sweetie's the wrong person to say the phrase Bust a move. Sweetie can get away with saying a lot of things, 'cause she's Sweetie, but she can't say Bust a move. She needs to stick to phrases that sound more natural coming from her, phrases like "He can't play with the mixer because he'll stab himself with it." That's a phrase that rolls right off Sweetie's tongue.

I, on the other hand, can not only say "Bust a move," but, like the Hunk of the Week, I can actually bust a move. Or I could if I knew what it was, and if my back didn't hurt, and if I could touch my toes. I can see my toes, so I'm like, halfway there.

On with the Hunkiness!

You don't know him without you have seen Glee, which I started out really excited to watch, more excited than I'd been about any new show since Cop Rock, which I also was excited to watch and which Glee keeps being compared to, as though there have only been, ever, two shows on TV featuring singing characters, Glee and Cop Rock. There've been more, or course, more shows featuring people singing at inappropriate times, like they do in musicals constantly, but critics and fans ignore that. They just say things like "Glee proves that TV shows can have people singing, unlike Cop Rock," and ignore the other singing TV shows that Glee puts to shame, shows like...

... Viva Laughlin!

I just like to put that video in here whenever I can. Matthew Morrison wasn't in Viva Laughlin or anything, so far as anyone knows; nobody ever watched the show, and now, because of some weird conspiracy on the part of critics to not ever mention that show, nobody ever will and eventually the world will forget that it existed.

Or would forget, if it were not for me, being ever vigilant and keeping the flame of Viva Laughlin burning.

Matthew Morrison, in fact, wasn't in anything before Glee, so far as I know. I'm basing that on my usual method of research, which is to think to myself "Do I know him from somewhere else?" and then, before getting the answer, going to get a new cup of coffee, then coming back and googling around to see if Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit is available on Youtube yet, and finding out that it is:

So I start listening to it, and then remember Oh, yeah, I was writing about Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, and, now, where was I again?

I also asked Sweetie if Matthew Morrison was in anything other than Glee. I put it this way: "Was anyone in Glee in anything else?" To which Sweetie said:

"Bust a move."

No, no, I'm only kidding. It was just really, really funny to hear Sweetie say Bust a move. It's like when she swears; again, some things should not be said by some people, and Sweetie should not swear, because she has a higher-pitched voice and an innocent look on her face, so when she swears, it doesn't come across as angry or threatening. It comes across as cute-but-disconcerting, like if a chipmunk knocked you down and took your lunch money. How could you be mad at that?

Sweetie said that she thought all the Glee people were on Broadway, which surprised me because she's usually up on what celebrities did before I knew about them (i.e. before they were celebrities, because if I don't know who you are, it either means you're not famous, or you're annoying and I've deliberately blocked you out of my mind the way I deliberately block my gas light out of my mind, driving around on E for a really long time because I hate to stop for gas.)

Sweetie covered up her lack of knowledge about the former-whereabouts of the cast of Glee the way she usually does, by making up a celebrity and claiming to know about her: "That's what a lot of those singers do," she said. "Kristin Chenoweth is in a lot of musicals."

Right. Like there's an actual person named Kristin Chenoweth. I didn't call her on it, though. You've got to let people have their little illusions. It's what the holidays are all about.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmm About Him: Sweetie mentioned that Matthew Morrison used to be in a boy band. She said it this way: "He used to be in a boy band, but I can't remember what it was. U can't touch this." Then she beat-boxed.

No, she didn't. But that would have been awesome. I want Sweetie to beat box.

She did say that he was in a boy band, so I checked out the Official Matthew Morrison Website (Slogan: Not the Official Website of the other Matthew Morrison, the one who works at Kinko's and puts up homemade drawings of Elves in Battle Armor on his page), but there was no boy band listed on his resume. So I did a little more googlevestigation, and found out this:

Matthew Morrison was in a boy band called "LMNT", briefly, before he got kicked out. LMNT, in turn, was made up of people who didn't make the cut for "O-Town."

Remember O-Town? Of course you don't. Nobody does. They are less famous than anyone has ever been. That guy down the street from you at the bus stop, the one who always wears a parka even in May, and you wonder if he wears it in the summer, too, but he's never around in the summer, so where does he go? He doesn't look like he can go away for the summer or take a whole summer off, and he looks to old to be a student, so does he just not come outside because it's too hot to wear the parka?

That guy is more famous than O-Town. That guy might be in O-Town, for all you know. So LMNT... what is that name supposed to mean? You can't name things just by throwing together a bunch of letters... LMNT is people who weren't cool enough to get into O-Town.

And Matthew Morrison wasn't cool enough to get into LMNT.

Just saying, Sweetie.

On the other hand, this site, which has as a background a weird, peach-pink almost-flesh color, so you know it's credible, says that Matthew Morrison left LMNT before the first CD came out because he wanted to be on Broadway. (It also says that Matthew Morrison is a "Superman of the stage.") So now I'm torn between siding with Matthew Morrison, or siding with LMNT, or going on not caring at all and instead reading Wonderella.

Reason I assumed Sweetie Liked Him:
I thought it must be the singing, because Sweetie has always liked my singing, going all the way back to the time I got out my acoustic guitar and played True Companion for her and sang it. I really did; it was a very romantic moment, if you were able to tune out that we were sitting on the green couch I bought for $5 from the Salvation Army, in an apartment on the bad side of town, and that we either had just eaten, or were about to eat, tacos made of meat that I'd spilled too much sage on for spice, turning the meat green.

Since that time, Sweetie has loved my singing, I'm sure, even though I don't do it very much anymore because I've hit that stage of my life where I can no longer really sing on key, even though now I'm mature enough to actually sing on key.

Most men -- Matthew Morrison aside -- spend most of their life deliberately singing off key. We sing things like Happy Birthday or songs that we like, but if there's anyone around, we have to sing them off-key and not hit the high notes real well, because, as we all learned from middle school, if you can hit the high notes real well, then Troy Schliepp is going to punch you in the stomach at recess. So we don't sing them, at all, deliberately keeping our voices in the narrow three-note "manly" range most of the time.

Then, by the time you hit 35 or so, you no longer care about things like that, because Troy Schliepp hasn't been around in years and probably is in jail by now, so we can sing well, if we want to, without fearing for our safety, only by then, our vocal chords no longer work well enough to hit those high notes, which is why you never hear men sing in public, ever, even if they're famous singers. Even if their Chris Martin, who, I have it on good authority, not only wears a parka year round, but also lip-synchs to pre-recorded tracks made when he was 20.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: I've already spoiled it; it's because, she said, "He can bust a move,"

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: Not only is it funny when Sweetie gets all gangster, but I don't think Sweetie knows what "bust a move" means.

Or maybe I don't. I thought that "bust a move" meant either to dance, or to pick up a chick. Because here's the song, as sung by the Superman of the Stage, Matthew Morrison:

And if you listen to that song, you'll notice that bust a move is advice -- "that girl starts walkin', guys start gawkin', sits down next to you and starts talkin', says she wants to dance 'cause she likes to groove so come on, fatso and bust a move."

Or at the movie: "You spot a fine woman sittin in your row... you run over there without a second to lose and what comes next, hey bust a move." Which either means the guy started dancing there, or he did a yawn-&-stretch.

I just asked Sweetie, who's just woken up, to say some of those lines. The only one she'd say is Come on fatso and bust a move, and it was just as good as her saying bust a move all on her own.

Anyway, I don't think that Sweetie knows what bust a move means, because Matthew Morrison may be able to sing, but I've never seen him dance, and I've seen at least three episodes of Glee.

Unless. bust a move means something entirely different to Sweetie? It might be a secret code, meaning something like... I don't know... abs!

Busted, Sweetie. Bust a move means "abs!" And, also, holy crap! What kind of workout are they doing on Broadway? I think he might really be Superman.


Are you climbing your own mountain? Anne a lay Apostle is. Her book, Climbing The Mountain, tells the story of how her Anne's mission of mercy as a lay apostle began; its inspirational message is sure to ring true and help readers reach their own heights of spirituality and holiness.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ninety-Four, Part Twenty-One: Wherein, I Finally Do Jump Ahead To The Morocco Part... Almost.

Everyone has one year in their life that has a greater impact on them than any other year. Mine was 1994. From time to time, I'll recap that year. This is part 21; click here for a table of contents.

When I left for Morocco, in June of 1994, I had never ridden on an airplane before and had never been out of the country before.

I had picked out Morocco as the object of my foreign study through a process no more selective than "I could afford it." I didn't know, when I signed up, anything about Morocco. The brochure had said something like "Study in Rabat," and not only did I not know what Rabat was, but I never even bothered to check into it. I'd stumbled across a poster in a hallway in a building on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus about a year earlier, seen something about foreign study, picked out the cheapest alternative, and applied to the program. Then I'd thought no more about it until I'd gotten accepted into the program.

After getting accepted, you might think I would have researched the trip in some way, but I didn't. Instead, I left for Washington D.C. and spent months there doing not much of anything useful... in the short run.

In the short run, most of what I did in Washington was extremely unuseful to me (or to anyone I worked for.) I didn't study particularly hard. I didn't work particularly hard. I didn't learn very much about the "ins and outs" of government, or meet important people who would someday help me on my career path...

... although I did, as I've mentioned, meet some important people. They just would not help me out on my career path because my career path would change quite a bit after that, meandering more than the Uncle Wiggly game path, and they would not help me out because I wouldn't bother to keep in touch with them or cultivate those connections, so they'd never really get a chance to help me out. Looking back, I should probably have gotten more mileage out of meeting a Supreme Court justice and the son of the Shah of Iran than simply a photograph on my wall and a story about strip-club sandwiches. Or maybe not. Maybe Supreme Court Justices and Sons of Shahs aren't, in the end, any more important than anyone else in the world, objectively speaking. They may be very important, subjectively, to people (like litigants before the Supreme Court, or mullahs overthrowing shahs) but that importance may fade when they are confronted with a lackluster student who's more, or at least as much, interested in going to look at pandas as he is in talking to that "important" person...

I didn't do much of anything that one would consider life-changing or fulfilling or fraught with portent. I didn't get a job, a reference, or even a skill, out of it.

And yet, I think that I learned a lot in D.C., and grew a lot, and in the long run - meaning right up 'til now -- I gained a lot from that trip, and from Morocco. It just wasn't much that most people would see the value in.

What I got from that, and from Morocco, and from the year -- spoiler alert! -- is the ability to be happy in my life. That's the conclusion I came up with today, anyway, as I sat down to write this part. What I got from riding elevators with Bob Packwood, and seeing the Canadian embassy, and trying to take photos of sharks through glass at the National Aquarium, and jogging past the Washington monument 32 times in the course of a 16 mile run, what I got from all that was the ability, now, at 41, to spend a lazy Saturday morning doing nothing more important or dramatic than to be in a McDonald's playland, trying to climb up a slide so that I can get Mr Bunches out of the jungle gym against his will because we've got to get home, and to be happy doing that.

I wouldn't have been happy doing that, I think, back in 1994, and it was what I did in 1994 that allowed me, fifteen years later, to be that person, a person who incorporated the restless soul that got on trains and planes and moved around and ate eyeballs, but a person who did not need to do that anymore.

When I went to Morocco, fifteen years ago, in addition to not knowing what to expect of the plane ride, I also didn't know that I would eat an eyeball in a few days. I'd have still gotten on the plane, though, even if I'd known that.

How could I know I'd eat an eyeball, or even that there were parts of the world, parts of the world outside of Indiana Jones movies, where they eat an eyeball? I'd never taken any classes in which they taught that kind of thing, and I wouldn't have paid attention if they did. I might have slept through them if they'd taught that. In fact, there's every bit of a possibility that I did take a class in which the professor mentioned that they eat eyeballs in Morocco, but I slept through it.

When I went to school as an undergrad, back in the days before cell phones and laptops and iPods and PSPs, I would mostly while away the time in class sitting in the back and doing crossword puzzles or reading a book or magazine I'd brought along. I'm not sure why I bothered to go to those classes, since I didn't pay much attention to them when I was there. It probably had something to do with the feeling that I should at least be there even if I wasn't going to get anything out of being there.

Things got worse, though, as I got busier with my three jobs and began trying to get in shape on a drastic diet in which I would eat only 1,000 or so calories per day and work out for up to an hour, a diet that got me to lose 108 pounds in six months but which also left me exhausted, a condition made worse by working at two different Subway restaurants and a movie theater. I got so tired that I'd fall asleep all the time; I was constantly tired (a state of existence mirrored now by living with hyperactive 3-year-old twins), and so tired that sitting still could cause me to fall asleep. The situation was so bad that I began to voluntarily sit up front in large lectures, right smack in the front of the room about a foot from the professor, hoping that by doing so I'd be able to stay awake.

It didn't always work.

One time, I dozed off and woke up to see a pair of professorial shoes right in front of me. I looked up to see a professorial face staring down at me, and people on either side of me were looking at me. The professor didn't say anything. He was lecturing, and I had no idea whether or not he'd said something before I woke up. So I just acted like it was business as usual and sat through the rest of the lecture. After that episode, I went back to sitting in the back of the class. Just in case.

That class was something on International Politics, my major, and the fact that I didn't care about sleeping through it shows you how seriously I took actually learning anything during college. College was something that I had to get through to get to the next part of my life. Each thing that I did, at that time, was something that I had to get through to get to the next part of my life. I needed to get to college so that I could graduate college. I needed to graduate college so I could get a job. I needed to get a job so that I could do something important. I needed to run for office or travel the world or go to law school, or... do something. Important.

Strangely enough, even though I never put any serious effort into it, I got really good grades. Which shows you how seriously colleges took me.

It wasn't until Washington D.C. that I began to stop looking towards the next thing and instead began looking at the thing I was doing. I didn't make that transition all at once, or even completely, and I certainly didn't know I was making that transition at all. If you'd have come up to me at that time, and said "You know, I bet in fifteen years you'll look back on this and realize that your personality and ideals were slowly shifting so that you would learn to live more in the moment, and less for the future, and also you will learn what's really important to you as opposed to what you're now believing is important to you," I'd have likely nodded, made some small talk for as long as I had to, and then ditched you to go to the Jefferson Memorial or Holocaust Museum. But even if I had listened to you, I'd not have understood what it was you were getting at because nobody recognizes transformations while they're going through them. We only recognize them after they're done, and even then, only when someone or something points it out to us.

Or, put more concretely, I didn't realize just how much weight I'd lost in 1993 until Christmas Eve. I'd started to get in shape in June of that year, beginning to jog and diet and be more health conscious. I didn't tell anyone I was doing that, or make a big deal out of it. I just began working out. I was aware, over the next six months, that things were changing, a little. I was aware that my pants were at first a little loose, then baggy, then useless and I needed new pants. I was aware that I was able to jog a half-mile, then a mile, then three. I knew all that, but I didn't know how different I really was until I went with my mom and my sister to my Uncle Joe's house for Christmas, in 1993. I hadn't seen my uncle in a couple of years, and I was the last person in the door. He hugged my sister and wished her a merry Christmas and said "And who's this?" turning to me.

I said "It's me, Uncle Joe," and he said, and I quote:

"Holy shit."

He later explained that he hadn't recognized me, at all, and thought I maybe was a friend of my sisters or her boyfriend. I had no idea that I was unrecognizable because, while I'd dropped nearly a whole me -- 100 of 270 pounds -- I'd seen it go little by little by little, so I'd never noticed the changes as a whole.

That's what began happening in D.C., in 1994 -- I began changing little by little by little. I got on a train in January full of the importance of the moment, recording my every thought in that little red notebook that I no longer have -- and I left D.C. five months later still, in part, thinking of the next thing, the next thing being Morocco, and still, mostly, imagining that Morocco was not just a destination, but a stop on the way to a destination.

Mostly. But something had changed and would continue to change, as I'd stop being the person I was then and start being the person I am now, a long slow transition that I never noticed happening until I stopped to compare the person I was 15 years ago, bubbling with excitement over the prospect of getting on an airplane headed to another continent with the person I am now, bubbling with excitement over the prospect of putting the new They Might Be Giants CD on in the car while I drive home from the library. If I could put those two people together, side by side, if I could know only 1994-Me and then suddenly know 2010-me, I'd probably echo my uncle: Holy shit, I might say, amazed at the transformation.

Then I might tell 1994-me a couple of tips, tips like this: It's not so important to have chewing gum on a plane, and tips like this: Eat the eyeball, but don't drink the water, no matter how much people tell you it's okay.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The future is now, but you wouldn't exactly know it. (The Great Ranking of Problems)

I have a new cell phone, and, as usual, I got the most-expensive phone my provider would give me for free. The phone I got I picked out specifically because it had a full QWERTY keypad. I needed that because I've grown to like text messaging as yet another way I can appear to have human interaction and contact without actually interacting or contacting other humans. In the bubble of isolation I'm building to live my life in, text messaging is a key pillar of support.

That's assuming that bubbles have pillars of support. They probably do. I'd have to be an engineer to know, though, and if I was an engineer, I'd probably not care to know the answer to that because I'd be boring.

One feature of my old cell phone that I particularly liked, beyond the keyboard, was voice dialing. I liked it not just because it was convenient, but because it felt right, what with me living in the 21st century and all.

The 21st century, outside of voice dialing and a few other areas, has not really lived up to the hype, has it? Most of the things that we think are so great are not really innovations at all so much as they are incremental improvements. Everyone's all excited about blogging and Youtube and Facebook (which'll let convicts flip off the police but won't let me be a member), but those things aren't futuristic advances worthy of the 21st Century; they're just the same old things on a new screen. Youtube is TV and home movies, but on my desktop. Blogging is gossip and small talk, but typed up. I may be reading a book on a Kindle, but it's still a book.

(I've talked about this theme before -- the idea that things aren't really new at all -- here.)

Voice commands on my phone, though, seemed to me to fit the bill for something that was 21st-Century-Esque. I was able to hold my phone and say "Call Home," and it would do it. That was science-fictiony and new and fun. That was something that seemed to be fulfilling at least a small promise made by the future back when I was young and the future was still the future instead of the future being the present, as it is now.

That's where today's problem comes in. My new phone, too, has voice commands. But to access the voice commands, I have to hit five different buttons. I have to hit OK to activate the keypad, then I have to hit menu, then media, then click down to voice command, then okay, then I get to say who I'm calling.

To dial home, I have to hit only 8 buttons -- the phone number plus send. With shortcuts, I can reduce that to 3. So it's actually harder and more distracting to dial by voice.

The first time I tried it, all I could think of was this: Would Han Solo have had to hit six buttons to control the Milennium Falcon by voice? I think not. (Then I remembered that Han Solo didn't have voice commands at all, and then I remembered that Star Wars actually takes place in the past, which is confusing because now the future is also the past, meaning that time has no meaning anymore, and then I decided just to quit thinking and get on with my life.)

That's the problem for today, though: Ridiculous levels of intricacy to voice commands for objects. I'm going to rank this one pretty high, too-- 32nd on the list -- because it's a pretty big problem that society can't figure out how to actually make things easier and we just accept that. We scrape food off our plates before putting them in the dishwasher, we have to change the vacuum bags, our cars windshield wipers have still not been adapted to be ice scrapers, as well, and now we have voice command objects that require me to essentially reprogram it each time I want to use a "simple" voice command.

Prior entries on
The Great Ranking Of Problems

Ridiculous levels of intricacy to voice commands for objects.

72. The pen ran dry midway through my signature (legal documents)

Family members imposing their diets on me

99: Spousal PB&J Incompatibility.

173: Preshoveling & reshoveling snow.

What to do about stuff I was going to buy but then it broke in the store and now I still want to buy the stuff but I don't want to buy something that was broken?

413: Guilt Over Meanness To Sentient Paperclips
. . .
502: Having to wait forever, seemingly, for Italian food to cool down.
. . .

721: Printer not holding a lot of paper at once.
2,624: Unidentifiable Mystery Song Stuck In Head.
5,000: Lopsided Nail Clipping.
7,399: Potato(E?)s?
. . .

13,334: The pen ran dry midway through my signature (signing stuff that doesn't really matter at all, so why am I signing it?)

14,452: Worrying that there's too much peanut brittle leftover to eat before it goes bad.
15,451: Almost napping.
22,372: Having hair which isn't quite a definable color.
22,373: Having too many songs on an iPod

My life increasingly revolves around cheeseburgers. It's a welcome change of pace from leftover pizza. (3 Good Things From 1/13/10)

I don't really need 3 Good Things today, because I'm wearing an argyle sweater vest, which is, according to top scientists, the single best way to be cheery. But I've got them anyway:

1. Breakfast for dinner, cheeseburgers for dessert! Sweetie wanted to go get a hot fudge sundae last night for dessert after dinner. I agreed because going for a hot fudge sundae typically means heading to McDonald's. We had breakfast-for-dinner: toast, waffles, and bacon -- and a trip to McDonald's meant that for dessert I could get myself some McDonald's Cheeseburgers. Any night that involves that type of universe-continuum-bending deliciousness makes the list of good things automatically.

2. Snog The Frog broke through Mr. F's resistance to reading. I picked up the book Snog The Frog from the library's books-for-sale last weekend, and as part of Learning Time last night, I read it to Mr F, who's lately been anti-book. But Mr F sat quietly and attentively through the whole story of a frog who wants to feel like a prince, so he tries to get various animals and a princess to kiss him. (SPOILER ALERT: He's not a prince!)

3. More Sonic is on the way! I realize that the sheer number of 3 Good Things which relate to food is indicative of why I'm shaped the way I am (vaguely oblong, like a pear with well-defined calves), but I can't help it, especially when I got from a coworker a Sonic gift card for my birthday, which means that this weekend, I'll get more Sonic to go with more football. Although I'll probably have to share with Sweetie, and maybe the older kids, even though they're not half as fanatically crazy about Sonic as I am. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm pretty sure the trampoline and Snickers bar offset each other. (3 Good Things From 1/12/10)

I don't have my big wall calendar, and it's messing me up. I never know what the date is anymore. And, it turns out my computer clock was slow by acouple of minutes. And, it turns out, I had that pointed out to me by a judge who thought I was late for a phone conference when in my world, I was early...come on, 3 Good Things from yesterday, cheer me up today:

. Mr Bunches and Mr F fell asleep almost immediately when they got into the car to go work out with me. After dinner last night, I was going to take Mr Bunches and Mr F to the health club, where they play in the playroom while I work out. But before we got there -- a mile away -- both of them had fallen sound asleep in the car. That was a good thing because it gave me the excuse to not go running at the club. Instead, I decided to run a few errands and took the long way to Wal-Mart to pick up Sweetie's Tuesday present (The Glee Soundtrack, Vol. 1), letting the Babies! have a little nap before we went into the store.

This is the song that Sweetie said she liked enough that she would want the soundtrack:

I didn't skip working out -- I just skipped running, and instead did 20 minutes on the trampoline after the Babies! went to bed.

2. Our laptop can be fixed, and it won't be that expensive. The computer store said that the laptop fan and video card are the problem, and they can replace those for $350. Since the replacement I was going to buy was nearly $800, I saved over $400 just by driving a couple of miles to drop off the laptop.

I remember a few years back, my father-in-law brought his TV down to Madison to get it repaired. "Who," I wondered then, "Repairs electronics, since they're so cheap to replace." Turns out he had the right idea. I wonder what else might be accomplished if I listened to people older and more experienced than me?

This is a song I liked from Glee but I hated when it first came out. Nostalgia/swing choirs can do wonders for a song:

3. There were Snickers bars waiting for me when I got home. Sweetie did the grocery shopping yesterday, and when I got home I was hungry and didn't want to wait for the pizza for dinner. I opened the snack cupboard, which is usually filled with piles of cookie packages for the Babies!, and saw Snickers bars, full-size, just waiting for me. I was 2/3 of the way through it before I even thought to rationalize it as having my dessert in advance.

Here's Lean On Me, by the Glee people:


Claudius wanted to be the first man to reach the stars. But it was murder to get there...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

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

54. Abandon the north.

I'm not trying to insult Canada here, or Iceland, or any other countries that lie north of, let's say, 37 degrees latitude. So don't take it personally, people and countries who live in the frigid climes north of that line; you're going to have to move.

What's gained by living in the cold? What's gained by living
in areas that have temperatures that reach to minus eighty degrees? (And don't think that's a temperature reserved only for the Arctic circle. In Wisconsin, more than half the winters have temperatures of minus forty or more. Sometimes, it gets below freezing in the summer.)

What do we get out of that? Cold feet, frostbite, more illnesses, and a general downturn of disposition that makes people grumpier and less happy in th
e winter. There's less light, less warmth, nobody can go outside... and that leads to people being miserable and out of shape.

If you're not sold on the personal benefits of just giving up living in the north, think about the economics of it: If governments just said "Okay, everybody, that's it. Pack up and let's relocate south," think how much money would be saved on everything from snow plowing to heating oil. One storm this year cost the City of Madison as much as $700,000, or almost $3 per person. For one storm. Everyone gripes about the surcharge for 3d glass
es to see Avatar, but nobody says it costs me $3 everytime it snows. And, fifty percent of all the money Wisconsinites spend on energy goes towards home heating. Fifty percent. I can go around shutting off every electrical gadget in the house, I can make sure the kids take cold showers lasting only one minute, I can cook over campfire -- and it won't make a dent in my energy costs.

That energy has to come from somewhere, and right now it's coming primarily from oil, making the U.S. vulnerable and dependent on foreign countries.

It's not like there's not enough room to move everyone a little southerly. There's 308,471, 793 people in the U.S. right this moment, according to the population clock. The U.S. has 3,537,441
square miles of land, so there's a population density right now of 87 people per square mile. (That map at the top shows the population density as its distributed right now.)

If I assume that moving everyone below the 37th parallel cuts the size of the US to 40% (because it removes Alaska), and if I include the population of Canada (we could give them their own state), adding 33,311,389 people to the equation, there's 1,414,976 of land to absorb 341,783,182 people, for a density of 241 people per square mile. (A square mile has 27,878,400 square feet in it, so tripling the density, as we would, means that you'd only get 115,678 square feet to yourself.)

We wouldn't have to give up on the cropland or anything, either: people could just live in the warm areas, and during the summer (which lasts about 30 minutes up north) people could travel north to stay on vacation, or farm, or do whatever it is people do when they travel from one region to another.

Birds do this already: they get the heck out of the cold for the winter. Are we not as smart as birds?

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.

I know, they're not that great, but what do you expect? It was Monday. (3 Good Things From 1/11/10)

Yesterday might have been one of the longest Mondays ever, but things are looking up now: The weatherman says we might get up to twenty degrees today! Here's the 3 Good Things from yesterday I'll focus on today.

1. Barney's Suit Song on last night's episode of How I Met Your Mother. It was entirely unexpected but made me want to run down to the 'puter and download it. But I can't. Yet. Here's the best I could find, so far:

2. Mr Bunches sings parts of Cruella De Vil: The Babies! got 101 Dalmatians for Christmas, and the DVD includes Selena Gomez singing Cruella De Vil. Mr Bunches likes to watch the video and do a jumping kind of dance, and also sings along with various parts of it. He won't do it if he knows I'm taping, so watch for video of that coming up as soon as my surveillance cameras go live.

3. The traffic wasn't bad yesterday on my way home. I spend so much time complaining when the traffic is terrible, like in the morning when a guy slammed on his brakes in front of me out of nowhere, causing me to slam on my brakes and causing my Pop Tart to fly off onto the floor of the car, wrecking it... that I thought I'd also mention it when traffic wasn't bad, like on the way home, yesterday.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Honestly, it's VERY cold, and I've had a space heater going all morning, but it's not helping. (3 Good Things From 1/10/10).

It's really cold in my office, blogger is acting up, and my prediction for the Super Bowl has already gotten knocked out of whack but my 3 Good Things keep my spirits up. Too bad they can't also warm my hands.

1. I was right before I was wrong, and that means someone owes me a sandwich. Almost four weeks ago, remember, I got on a radio call-in show and said that the Packers wouldn't win a Super Bowl because they're offense wasn't good enough and their defense doesn't play a complete game. That radio show host (this guy) laughed at me and said "The Packers defense is ranked number one!" and denied me the sandwich.

Then, yesterday, I got to watch in satisfaction as the Packers' offense committed three turnovers, leading to about 20 Cardinal points, and the Packers' defense completely failed to ever stop the Cardinals.

I like turkey subs, Mike Heller.

2. PresentPallooza went very well with Mr F and Mr Bunches. My dad finally made it up for Alternate Christmas/My birthday party yesterday, and he brought with him about 1 zillion presents for Mr F and Mr Bunches: trucks, puzzles, videos, something that made music, and probably, for all I know, a pony. Mr F and Mr Bunches got so into opening presents that when they'd finished with theirs, they opened Sweetie's, too, and then started, for a while, opening anything they could until they settled into an afternoon of driving the trucks and then tipping over their dresser to make a slide out of it and a mattress.

3. Barbecue Pork chop sandwiches for dinner & leftovers. Sweetie makes phenomenal pork chops; we had them as sandwiches yesterday, and there was far more pork than even our family could eat, even during a Packer game, even with The Boy around, so I got one today for lunch, too... and now I've got a keyboard that feels and smells a lot like barbecue sauce.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

After the shake, I had a Cranberry-Nut Muffin for dessert. (3 Good Things From My Birthday!)

As I slowly get back to my normal routine of not really working while also complaining about how much work I've got, I'm restarting 3 Good Things for Twenty-Ten. Since it was my birthday yesterday, there's no shortage of good things to choose from...

1. Mr F and Mr Bunches behaved in the library! If there's a person who doesn't like to celebrate their birthday by stopping at the library with their 3-year-olds, I don't know that person. Mr F and Mr Bunches and I swung by there after our morning workout, where I checked out for the Babies!, among other things, the CD/DVD of Here Come The 123s by They Might Be Giants, featuring this song, which might well be my theme song for Twenty-Ten:

And both boys behaved very well, not running off or getting too loud.

2. I watched two episodes of Lost, Season 3. I've made only one New Year's resolution. I ordinarily don't bother making resolutions at all, because I don't believe in putting off my goals until New Year's Eve; if I want to do something, I just begin doing it instead of waiting until an arbitrary day we've declared the "end of the year" to try to change my life for the better. But this year I made one, and it's this: Get caught up on Lost.

I made that resolution after reading how Obama's next speech won't cut into the 3-hour premiere of Lost's final season. After reading that, I thought "What kind of world do we live in where the President has to be careful not to delay the start of a TV series?" and then I thought "If this is Lost's last season and they're doing a big 3-hour premiere that's more important than the president, it's going to be impossible to avoid spoilers so I'd better get cracking and get caught up on that show."

Which is why, yesterday afternoon, I buckled down and really applied myself and made it through two episodes.

3. The Peanut Butter Fudge Shake I got at Sonic as part of my birthday meal. On your birthday, in our family, you get whatever you want for dinner . And what I wanted for dinner was a burger, and onion rings, washed down by liquid peanut butter fudge mixed with ice cream. But I'm health conscious; I got the regular size, not the large.

Here's some more They Might Be Giants to send you on your way: