Saturday, February 19, 2011

This guy is my new hero. (Publicus Proventus)

The other day, I mentioned to Sweetie that if I were a doctor, I'd write a doctor's excuse for anyone who protests corporate shill/pathological liar/political briber Gov. Patsy Walker.

Then, today, I read this from MSNBC about the anti-Patsy protesters:

Doctors from numerous hospitals set up a station near the Capitol to provide notes covering public employees' absences.

Family physician Lou Sanner, 59, of Madison, said he had given out hundreds of notes. Many of the people he spoke with seemed to be suffering from stress, he said.

"What employers have a right to know is if the patient was assessed by a duly licensed physician about time off of work," Sanner said. "Employers don't have a right to know the nature of that conversation or the nature of that illness. So it's as valid as every other work note that I've written for the last 30 years."

I want to give Dr. Lou Sanner a medal.

it's like having dessert for dinner. (Life with unicorns)

While Sweetie, Oldest and Middle eat bland Italian food at Olive Garden on their night out, Mr Bunches and Mr F have helped me make this:

And, since they don't LIKE pancakes, it's all mine. (They're having cheese puffs and bananas.)

Scott Walker is a LIAR. (Publicus Proventus)

Like so many members of the GOP, he's a hypocritical, compulsive liar.

All anyone has heard from Governor Patsy's lying, big-business-bribed mouth is how Wisconsin is in a fiscal crisis that has to be addressed with dramatic means, while the truth is anything but. I don't know how much corporations are paying Governor Patsy to lie repeatedly, but it's got to be a lot, because the lies are big.

Wisconsin is running a surplus. I know this involves stuff beyond the fifth grade level, so try to pay attention or ask someone to help you, Tea Partiers, but the Legislative Fiscal Bureau says Wisconsin will have $121.4 million extra in funds when the fiscal year ends June 30.

So we won't be broke, not this year. The LFB also notes that Wisconsin does have to large liabilities looming-- repaying $200 million to the medical malpractice fund by Wisconsin Supreme Court order, and paying $58.7 million to Minnesota in tax money we owe under the reciprocity deal. IF we were to repay those all in the next 4 months, there would be a deficit.


Those are two older debts, though -- and the budget "crisis" that they didn't create was worsened by Governor Patsy's $60 million in subsidies to rich people that he already passed at the directive of the corporations that run his administration -- $60 million more in debt, already, and he's only been in office a little over a month.

In other words, there's no budget crisis now, and if there's one in the future, it's one that owes about 20% of the total debt to Governor Patsy's first 30 days in office.

Oh, and for the record: Baby-killing, lying Republicans controlled the Assembly that voted to use the $200 million from the malpractice fund back in 2007.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Seventy-Five.

75. Whenever news sources cite "people's opinions," they should also tell what percentage of respondents that opinion represents.

Most news these days consists of either the weather, or asking people what they think about stuff -- which is to say most news these days isn't news at all, but reporting on what people think about the news, and what's going on outside.

But news organizations don't actually report facts, even when they're just parroting back what you said. All news organizations feel a responsibility to present "both sides of the story," even when there's really only one side of the story. Send a reporter out on the street to ask people "Do you think kids should be locked into barrels and sent over Niagara Falls as part of the college application process?" and 999 people in a row will say "No" and call the police on you -- but 1 guy (probably from Montana, certainly in a "Tea Party") will say "Yeah, it's good for them." And on the news that night, you'll see him alongside one of the no people.

Which then gives you the idea that people are evenly split on college-application barrel kids, even though they're not -- so the news organization slanted the report while trying to be fair.

So if they must present "opposing views" or "both sides" or what have you, they should simply list, in typing at the bottom, what percentage of respondents echoed that person -- and when you watched the college application barrel story, you'd see Whack Job with a "1/1000" below him, while Ms. Sane "no" would say "999/1000," letting you know just where people stand on the issue.

Do that, and see how few people really hated health care reform, or other so-called "controversial" proposals.

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.

Is this working? You bet --

1001 Ways also helped change the world here!


1001 Ways also helped change the world here!

More or less everything I do ends up needing dry cleaning. Even giving advice on saving lives in the future...

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's like running through an obstacle course of sweaty people with bad haircuts. (This Is Why I Hate People)

At my health club, the indoor track is three lanes wide -- about 6 feet -- and it's the only place to run in the health club, unless you want to fake run on a treadmill and not actually exercise, that is.

(I say fake run because running on a treadmill isn't anything like real running, and I know that because for one winter I ran on a treadmill and never lost any weight, while running on the track has already dropped an inch off my waist, so it's pretty scientific of me to say that running on a treadmill is fake running.)

Treadmills aren't why I hate people, though. The track is. Because the track is where most people who go to the club also feel they should stand, or talk, or drink from their water bottles, or stretch.

Last night alone, there was a guy standing on one corner of the track -- a remote corner, not even where one enters the track or by a locker room or anything -- stretching... and blocking my running lane. There were people in one of those trendy weightlifting-aerobics classes that also aren't really exercise, and they stood on the track stretching or getting their weights, or just chatting.

This health club sprawls across an entire building. There are three levels, featuring a free weight area, two basketball courts, three pools, a lounge area, and about four exercise areas. Some of those are adjacent to the track. Why are you standing on the track stretching?

"Release the hounds!" While the GOP admits it's not listening, Governor Patsy threatens military action. (Publicus Proventus)

The protests began yesterday, in earnest, over Governor Patsy's proposal to end unions -- the protests being (hopefully) the first step in a move to recall Governor Patsy on the one side, and the first step in making the jump to national politics for Governor Patsy, who's clearly got his eye on being (God Forbid!) President Patsy.

But what will he be President of? One wonders -- as Walker threatened military strikes against protesting unions who dare to cross him. That news even made the Huffington Post:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said Friday that he was willing to mobilize the state's National Guard force in order to address the potential repercussions of his stated proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for state employees.

Military strikes? Against this guy:

It's not clear if the national guard will be asked to actually disrupt protests -- but the move likely won't be needed because Republicans weren't listening, anyway. After first deciding how much "petitioning their government for redress of grievances" (Remember that Amendment, GOP?) was actually going to be allowed, the GOP then walked out of Joint Finance Committee hearings with people still waiting to testify before them.

But it wouldn't have matter if they stayed -- one GOP lawmaker told reporters that nothing he heard in 17 hours of testimony made him change his mind.

People are already talking about recalling Governor Patsy, and here's hoping they do it. Before he actually has someone shot for daring to oppose him, if we're lucky.

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And we haven't even begun talking about what Mr F might do.

The adventures in plumbing continue; after Mr Bunches flushed a jump rope -- yes, a JUMP ROPE -- down the upstairs toilet, causing us to have to replace the toilet entirely -- yes, REPLACE it, completely, because jump ropes have little moveable handles that go down fast and then wedge in a pipe -- I've been looking with a more critical eye at that bathroom.

And Mr Bunches, but I can't exactly replace HIM.

What I can replace is the sink in the upstairs bathroom. With the new toilet, the old sink is looking a bit, well, OLD. And kind of dingy, and not really in keeping with the new toilet. Plus, let's be honest: the old sink was from the same time period as the old toilet, and I'm pretty sure it, too, can't handle a jump rope, and I think Mr Bunches has another one somewhere.

So I've begun looking for a new sink, and I'm going online to "Shop Sinks and Faucets", where I can get vessel sinks at lower prices; these are way fancier than the regular ol' sink-sinks that we have now -- with really nice "oceanic" sinks and more basic bowl-type sinks and everything in between, Shop Sinks and Faucets will have something, I'm sure, that I'll like and Sweetie will like, plus they've got a lifetime warranty, which is important for me, especially if the fine print doesn't exclude jump rope-related damage.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Governor Patsy doesn't want to hear it! (Publicus Proventus)

Today, over 300 people registered to speak to the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee, while protesters began to gather for a series of protests about Governor Patsy's move to take away most collective bargaining rights from unionized state government workers.

The official response? Let's listen to them less -- as the Joint Finance Committee reduced the amount of time each registrant was allowed to talk from 3 minutes down to 2 minutes.

It seems that Governor Patsy's decision to try to divide and conquer unions by letting police and fire unions continue to exist didn't work -- as reports were that firefighters were going to join the protests.

Not that it'll matter; if Governor Patsy cared what unions thought, or if the public cared about this at all, he wouldn't have gotten away with paying off a Democrat to vote against the contracts Doyle negotiated last year.

At this point, if you're a government worker in Wisconsin, your best bet for continued state-level employment is to go back in time, become wealthy, and contribute to Walker's campaign.

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Challenge Accepted! #3

Do you dare to have a more interesting life? Do these things...

3. Using your food, sculpt or otherwise create a portrait or picture of someone or something. Show it to at least one other person and make them guess who it is.

2. Find a stranger who looks like a celebrity... and tell that person who they look like.

1. Before the day ends, insert into a conversation a quote from a Van Halen song.

Monday, February 14, 2011

2 pictures Sweetie took...

McDonald's, 4 (Jobs v. Life)

It's been a really long time since I last checked in with an installment of Jobs v. Life, my essays about the jobs I've had, in the order I had them... and what (if anything?) I learned from them. This is part 4 about my second job, at McDonald's. Click here for a table of contents.

Over the course of the 18 months I worked there, my job at McDonald's did not change much. Once in a while, I worked the breakfast shift, cooking not hamburgers but Egg McMuffins and biscuits and hotcakes. About two times I worked the cash register or drive-through window, but that was not my destiny, it seemed, to be the public face of the McDonald's at Highway 83 in Delafield.

Mostly, I spent my time at the grill station and the fry station -- because while the new guys tended to cover the fry station, there weren't always new guys to do that, so it fell on other people, and I was mostly those other people.

I got, I think, two reviews during the entire time I worked there, getting a raise each time, and at the time I'm pretty sure that I didn't get what I now assume to be the point of those reviews, and those raises: I just assumed that because I was getting a raise, I was doing all right.

But the raises, and the fact that I remained in neutral as far as my advancement at McDonald's was concerned, should have tipped me off that perhaps I was not a rising star in the fast food world.

Not that I wanted to be.

I really put forth no effort beyond showing up and doing what I was told, and that seemed enough to me at the time. For me, in fact, that was more effort than I was putting forth in many other areas of my life, like school.

At school, I showed up, but I didn't really do what I was told. I did what I had to do to get good grades while not really intruding on my life, which is a totally different thing. Back then -- I was 16 when I started at McDonald's and 17 when I finished there -- as now, my life was set up to minimize the impact that work and school would have on it. Work and school have never been my life; they've been diversions (at best) and annoyances or downright tedious diversions (at worst) that slow down my progress in life.

Work and school have been, for me, the traffic jam on the way to the beach.

So as far back as I can remember -- and that's not as far back, now, as it used to be, because as I advance in years I'm pulling my memories with me. Each year I live is a year I can't remember when I was younger. I now have trouble remembering more than one thing from third grade-- that one thing is the diorama I made of Jesus' life with Lisa Steinbrenner as my partner -- and I can only remember a few things from Ms. Talaska's fourth-grade class, like the fact that she really liked The Flintstones and that in the beginning of the year her name was Miss Dolenchek and then she got married, so we had to call her something different.

But I bet by next year, I won't remember those, really, and I'll have dimmer memories of fifth grade, my memories vanishing behind me as I create new ones, so that I'm always, mentally, the same age.

As I write that, I think maybe I've hit on something there... because I never feel like I'm 42 years old. I feel, maybe, about 25 or 30, which really makes it shocking when I look in the mirror and see the receding hairline and the ever-more-visible start to the jowls that run in my side of the family (jowls that, sadly, Mr Bunches already has, only on him it's not sad, it's cute, because jowls on a four-year-old are pudgy cheeks, so he's benefitting from the very things I spend my mornings trying to push back into my chin while I shave.)(It doesn't work.)

But maybe, while my body is 42 years old, my mind isn't yet, because as those old memories drop away, as I can only remember back, with certainty, about 30 years, maybe that's what's keeping my mind feeling young -- I don't have all those excess memories dragging me down, a virtual albatross. Instead, those memories are the jetsam that, thrown out, keep my mind lighter and carefree, making me able to still feel, mentally at least, relatively young -- young enough that I can find more enjoyment in Peanuts than in Dilbert, at least.

For whatever reason, when I look back, I don't remember much about work, or school, probably at least in part because I tried so hard to make sure those things didn't have an impact on my life. At school, especially, I did the bare minimum -- or maybe not, depending on how you look. Take my British Literature class that I had junior year in high school. Have you, or anyone you know, ever read British literature? No, you haven't, and don't lie. It's impossible to read -- and that's only made worse by the fact that once something's an assignment, it becomes work and I no longer want to do it.

I love reading, and I liked British literature, or at least what I took to be British literature before I took a class in British literature, and by that I mean "stories about King Arthur," which I had in a book that had been given to me by an aunt or grandmother or someone like that, and I mean "The Lord Of The Rings, the Narnia books, and The Sword In The Stone," all of which were by British authors and were literature, and so I assumed that in Brit Lit we'd be reading things like that.

I was wrong.

We read things like The Canterbury Tales, a collection of poems which is like The AntiStory, so powerful is it's ability to destroy a love of reading. And we read Beowulf, for some reason, even though I'm pretty sure, now, that it wasn't a British story at all. And we read other things, like the stories of King Arthur, but by then I'd given up even trying to read, in class or out of class. I had read maybe 3 pages of that junk and given up, so instead of even trying to read it, I just listened really well in class and figured that would substitute for actually reading the assignments, and it did because I got a 108 on the final exam, which was in essay form. In case you're wondering, the scale was 1-to-100; I got 8 points extra credit on top of a perfect score.

That was pretty much how I operated in every class in high school: do the most minimal amount of work consistent with getting A's and B's, which, for me, was a really minimal amount of work. My textbooks barely looked used, and I read lots of comic books in the meanwhile, and the whole thing only failed one time, in Chemistry class, where I got a "C" because the final exam was to identify a salt through various chemical tests, and I couldn't fake my way through that and never identified my salt, but Mr. Hassemer for some reason still gave me a C, so I guess it worked.

With that kind of (not at all a) work ethic, "just showing up and doing what I was told" at McDonald's was, as you'll probably agree, a big leap forward for me. I couldn't fake making 10 hamburgers or mopping the break room, so I had to do it. But I did just that, and nothing more. I showed up, I did my job, and then I went home. And in return, McDonald's let me keep showing up, let me keep doing my job, let me keep getting paid ($2.45 per hour, at the end.)

And I thought, at the time, that was fine. I had no ideas that this was going to be a career, after all -- back then I was going to be a doctor, I assumed, because that was what my parents said I should be. (And also the president. Seriously.) I didn't really want to advance, or do anything else there, except that the other jobs that people were doing seemed easier than the jobs I was doing. It seemed easier to be on the cash register than fries -- or at least less hot and greasy. It seemed easier to be the crew chief calling out how many burgers to make than to be the guy who's making those burgers.

So while I wanted the easier jobs, I also didn't want to do anything to get them, and, in retrospect, my failure to advance at McDonald's, where people could (I'm pretty sure) rise from fry vat guy to assistant manager in about 2 months, really says something... as does the fact that I kept getting only those nickel raises. I worked about 12-15 hours a week, so a nickel raise meant sixty cents more per week, and that wasn't back in a time when you could say "well, sixty cents was valuable then." This wasn't 1882. It was 1985, and sixty cents was nothing.

But back then, I didn't make the connection that's so easy for me to make, now -- that getting more than a nickel raise, getting advancement, required more than just showing up and doing what you're told. I maybe didn't make that connection because it was my first job, or maybe I didn't care all that much because it was just McDonald's, or maybe it was that simply getting to an easier job didn't seem worth putting forth any effort - -that kind of worked against it, in fact, if I had to work harder to get an easier job -- but most likely it was simply that I didn't care all that much, period.

I'd had to get a job because my parents made me, and because that was what you did, and because I needed money. The job I got was the one that was available, and it fulfilled all the criteria of a job: It paid me to show up and do what I was told.

At least, until I stopped showing up.

What happens online, stays online.

Lately, I've been thinking more and more about how hard the Internet actually makes life in some ways -- like in knowing who's right and who's wrong, which sites are reliable and which sites are not. Sometimes, trying to find something on the Internet is like asking directions from a crowd of people and getting 53 different responses, all saying something CLOSE but not quite the same.

So if you're trying to do something like find online casinos in us, it can be tough -- unless you use the Free No Deposit US Casinos site. They'll help you make the right choice among the dozens (or more?) of casino sites, offering easy-to-use comparisons of their software, bonuses, services available, and more. The site has lot of reviews, right on the front page, with quick snapshot-like blurbs about each to help you choose quickly.

But lots of site can do that; at Free No Deposit, they'll also provide additional information about banking and safety measures the casinos use, plus what games they have, comparisons of technology, and customer assistance -- so that you can find the gaming site you REALLY want.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Challenge ACCEPTED! #2:

A list of 365 things you can do to make your life more interesting...

2. Find a stranger who looks like a celebrity... and tell that person who they look like.

1. Before the day ends, insert into a conversation a quote from a Van Halen song.