Friday, October 30, 2009

For men only (just kidding)

Ever shoot a white-tail deer? Chances are, you used a lead bullet. And that gives the deer a shot at you if you ate it. Lead bullets can fragment and tiny pieces travel in the carcass as far as 18 inches from the initial wound. Condors and bald eagles are often poisoned this way from eating your kills. If you think about it, lead in a bullet is redundant. If you must, use copper.

Earlier, we reported that James Naismith was the guy who invented basketball. Now comes this breaking news: he also invented the first football helmet, made by simply cutting the football in half.

Even modern helmets won’t help much this Sunday as millions of us settle back with a six-pack and watch big men get maimed. Dementia and other brain injuries have struck down professional football players in numbers that are way ahead of national averages. Enter the knuckle-head Republican from Texas, Cong. Ted Poe, who sounded horrified when he observed if everybody kept trying to make changes, “We’d all be playing touch football.” That’s cold. The NFL needs to get right with its players.

Too old to play Guitar Hero? Try Farmville, the hottest game on Facebook. At least 22 million hits every day. And the game has only been up since June. All ages are drawn to the game which starts simple enough: you get land and seeds that can be planted, watered, fertilized and harvested for online coins. Compulsive/addictive types even set their alarms for 1:30 a.m. so they can roll over and harvest their blueberries. If you wake me at 1:30 in the morning, it better not be for anything virtual. Or virtuous.

If you squint your eyes, maple leaves look like marijuana leaves on steroids.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hey Buddy, got a minute?

You probably know James Naismith invented the game of basketball. But did you know he foresaw the need for tall guys – and tried to do something about it? A minister as well as a doctor, Naismith conducted experiments on a machine he invented. He was actually trying to stretch babies. Maybe he got the idea from the Sheriff of Nottingham: “Stretch the rope tighter, Garth!”

Over the past 700 years, Robin Hood has been on the receiving end of image and status upgrades, writes Peter Applebome in the NYTimes. Most experts agree that Robin as woodland Marxist is mostly American spin. Note: when you Google “Obama” and “Robin Hood” you get about 945,000 hits. You’ll be surprised with results from a search for “Dick Cheney” and “Vlad the Impaler.”

Amazing. When Capt. Sully manhandled his plane filled with passengers onto a safe landing in the Hudson River, the first pictures of the event came to us via Twitter. Likewise last week when the first images of the balloon-sans-boy came in, it was via Twitter. In real time. Engineers are ginning up real-time search engines called OneRiot, Collecta and Topsy that are coming soon to a computer near you. To compete with Twitter's search engine.

There was a time (pun alert) when NY City gave watches to homeless people. The city paid suppliers $6.75 per watch in 2006, nearly twice the rate of past years. Nice thought, but some felt pillows would be more useful starter gifts.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Drop coming in gun sales?

In olden days, apple trees grew huge. Then scientist twiddlers grafted tall trees with dwarf trees in Europe, which put the fruit within reach, like grapevines. That’s good because doctors are about as tall as they are going to get. (Too obtuse? Hey, my job is to write this stuff. Your responsibility is to figure it out.)

After 20 years, 85 percent of American adults now prattle via cellphones. Seems like all the children, too. The gadgets caught on faster than cable TV and personal computers. Now, the cell phone is poised to be the portal for all things incoming electrical. And we are the worse for it. Tell that to the jerk on the phone at the table next to you. Or in the car in front of you. Or the numskull in the check-out line. Indeed, we are the worse for it.

“Durability of demand” is fancy talk from financial insiders who think they see a slowdown is sales of weapons. Too late. There are 300 million working firearms already in U.S circulation. Firearm factories are still running full tilt. Ammo is still in short supply and gun shows are usually still sold out. But insiders are seeing slowdown in sales and fret that backlogs are so big that two thirds of gun sales could disappear.
Repeat: too late.

Next month, I’ll turn 71. The Mystery Woman is 69. And her mom, Virginia who lives with us, is 89. Between us, we’ve met thirty new people (count ‘em, thirty) so far in October. All were medical personnel due to a flurry of tests (CT scan, PET scan, blood work, X-rays, colonoscopy, chemo, etc.) That prompted the Mystery Woman to dryly observe: “if it weren’t for doctor’s visits, we would have no social life at all.” But, as Humphrey might say to Ingrid, “We’ll always have Walgreen’s.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Geezer? There's an app for that

There was a time when young men juiced up their four-barrel carburetors to make their jalopies cool. Same thing today, except they install computers in the trunk and tweak them to operate the stereo, the cellphone, the backup camera, the online diagnostics, the navigation system, the … you get the idea. Reports are that some young men have put a printer in the back seat. Misplaced priorities, clearly.

Are you a geezer? There’s an app for that. You no longer have to squint when the waiter brings the bill. Just whip out your iPhone and punch up Magnifying Glass from I-Beam. Step Two: fumble for your wallet.

The cookie diet will set you back fifty-six bucks a week. But you get to eat six prepackaged cookies per day and one “real” meal. Get yours at Walgreens and GNC. Some 500,000 people munch through weight-loss on the cleverly disguised 1,200-calorie-per-day plan. Already, competitors have jumped up as far away as Japan.

Ayn Rand is hot again. She’s the author of The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, etc. During times of economic upheaval, The Others always drag her memory out. Conveniently, they never mention the old gal was an atheist with a reputation as “the Evil Knievel of leaping to conclusions.” Two new biographies are in bookstores. Why now? The economy just heaved up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The porch changes seasons

The leaves are still snug in their trees but we took the screened porch down this weekend. Had to. Already, we’ve had several snowfalls that cast a chill across the prairie. We had to work fast in between cold snaps. Fast, however, is not a natural state when you are our age. So we took two days.

Putting the porch up and taking it down – one of our fun rituals. It is how we mark the changing of seasons. Our own personal metaphor for the beginning of spring or the colors of autumn. Both seasons, beautiful.

When the screens are gone, the porch feels naked at first. We fix that by stoking a fire in the little chimenea, pulling up our hoodies, and sitting around a bottle of wine. It helps the sun go down. The neighbors understand. They are busy putting up storm windows.

And the squirrels don’t seem to give a damn.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Whiskey River and Burned Bridges

It’s 34 degrees this morning in Minneapolis. Were I in Texas, I would be slicing open a javelina and crawling inside to keep warm. Up here, I found myself saying, “It’s only 34 degrees outside, the sun is shining, I think I’ll take a walk.” OMG, I’m ruined.

Get this: two weeks before he died, Charles Darwin wrote a short paper about a tiny clam hitchhiking on the leg of a water beetle. The guy who sent him the beetle was shoemaker and amateur naturalist who had a son who had a son named Francis Crick. In 1953, young Francis and another American made a discovery that would lead to the triumphant vindication of almost everything Darwin said. To wit: every organism carries a chemical code inside its cells. They call it DNA. And there would be no NCIS without it. Nor CSI. Nor ...

Head injury patients are less likely to die if they have drunk alcohol. Ignoring the high probability that alcohol likely contributed to the cause of the head injury in the first place, some geniuses advocate greeting the patients at E.R. with a drink.

Robert Altman, the late movie director, enjoyed creating fake country-music song titles like: “I’m Swimming Through the Ashes of All the Bridges I’ve Burned.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Screw Facebook; Screw Twitter

Don’t Facebook me on the Internet tubes. I don’t understand Facebook. Nor do I like it.

First off, as a concept, Facebook makes no sense to me. Just fancy email if you ask me.

Today, I got an email that so-and-so wanted to be my friend. Somehow, I wound up on what appeared to be my Facebook page. There was a box on the right that begged to be clicked. Something about relationship, friend and other. There were lots of “others” so I clicked there.

Bingo. Rows and rows of friends. I even knew some of them. I thought they were asking me to be their friend so, not wanting to hurt their feelings, I clicked on oodles and bunches. How nice.

Within minutes, emails began to land indicating that so-and-so “confirms” me as their friend. Wait a minute, buddy. I was confirming you. Who the hell do you think you are, confirming me.

Don’t get me started on Twitter. That’s what we used to call post cards. Try to get 144 thingys on a post card. I still prefer post cards and mailed eight just yesterday.

Forget it. Screw Facebook. Screw Twitter. Screw you.

Everybody except Willie Nelson.

Winter Wonderland

We just returned from Seattle where Julia Talley and Peter Lacy were married in one of the funnest weddings I’ve ever seen. Peter is the Mystery Woman’s son. Everybody, even the mix of exes, had a great time…and it truly was a time for love and hope.

In a way, the event was a victory lap for my 89-year-old mother-in-law, Virginia, who is wrestling with pancreatic cancer. Damned straight she was going to attend the wedding. Damned straight she was going to dance with her grandson. Make that a light Scotch and soda, bartender.

While we were away, Minnesota canceled the Fall season.

There’s nothing like four inches of fresh snow to jump start winter. Canada came calling this week in Minneapolis. Early. And often. Already, we’ve had two snow events and more are on the way.

The first snowfall of the season. And we were like children.



Leaves had not yet left the safety of the trees so nature gave us bonus views of fall colors mixed with fresh scrubbed snow. A soothing palette.



And the perfect ending to a storybook week.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Invite LM Boyd to lunch

You can call yourself a locavore if you adhere to the hundred-mile diet. You know, it’s when you eat only that food stuff which is grown or raised within 100 miles of your home. Hereabouts it’s mostly squirrels.

Forty thousand early risers belong to BackyardChickens.com.

Now you know that there were 12 delis in Newark back in 1945. Today, there are but two. Originally, clientele was 10 percent black and 75 percent Jewish. Today, it’s 50/50. Jewish delis were strong in the 1930s with at least 1,500 kosher and kosher style. Today, only about two dozen kosher places remain. Few make their own matzo balls.

Hebrew National pastrami is now owned by ConAgra Foods.

'Twas cooking that moved us into chewing less and thinking more. That’s according to the author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. We came down from the trees the first time maybe two and a half million years ago. And our brains swelled. Our ancestors were looking for sex. About a million years later, our brain swelled again. That’s when we started cooking. Literally and figuratively.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Four wheel drive AND granny gear

Only in Minnesota does a writer have warm memories of opening day one April at the old stadium “with two kids in their yellow slickers trying to keep their hot dogs dry as rain drops fell off the ends of the icicles that had formed on their hoods.” Historical note: they built a heated, warm, cozy, civilized domed stadium where the mustard runs and noses don’t but now they want an outdoor venue again. I don’t know why.

A snarky writer in the New Yorker says former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has been mistaken for ”the television weather lady in Minneapolis.” Obviously he has never laid eyes on Belinda Jensen, the All American Chief Meteorologist for KARE 11.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the first one-inch snowfall in the Twin Cities falls on Nov. 18. That’s on average. The earliest coverage (their word, not mine) is Sept. 26th. Latest, Jan. 9th. Light snow is predicted this weekend.

When does winter formally arrive? Do my children have time to come get me? Will they need chains?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Minnesota nice

I’m beginning to understand life up here in Minnesota. Consider these quotes and stuff:

After musing about Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty attacking the president for telling school children to work hard and get good grades, Garrison Keillor wrote “one starts to wonder if the country wouldn’t be better off without them and if Republicans should be cut out of the health care system entirely and simply provided with aspirin and hand sanitizer.”

Craigslist ad for a VW vanagon restoration went something like this: I was working on it real good. Got it down to basic metal. "Then my attention deficit disorder kicked in and I started making pheasant pens.”

They must have sold out of houseboats up here. Haven’t seen a new classified adv in a couple of weeks now.

Our mailman: “You’re going to need a bigger coat.”

"It's just another game," Brett Favre said this week with a straight face. He certainly earned the cover of the AARP magazine.

MN Star Tribune sportswriter Jim Souhan said it best when he described Favre as the “quarterback who can read a defense like it was a fast-food menu, and deliver quicker than a pizza guy with a new Camaro and heavy debt.”

Monday, October 5, 2009

GOP exit strategy?

There is no longer any doubt – the Republicans are the curators of the right wing extremists.

Republicans just seem to have a knack for collecting nuts. The catalogue begins with Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. Next -- the birthers, the tea baggers, the town hall disruptions, the Hitler placards, the loaded guns at political rallies, the vile and vicious racist emails, the lies about death panels, the “you lie” outburst during a presidential address, the web poll (now removed) asking to vote whether the president should be assassinated,

This is serious. The Secret Service reports death threats aimed at our president are up 400 percent.

You noticed, didn’t you, the conservatives hate Obama so much they cheered when Chicago lost the bid for the Olympics. They actually cheered against America. Not nice, not smart.

How much longer can Nevada Sen. John Ensign hold on? He’s the scum who got jobs for his mistress’s husband – and her son – while continuing to satisfy his urges. Same question for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and his sex romp with the Argentine beauty. Both men are connected with the phony C Street Church in Washington, a bunch of elected GOP hypocrites also known as The Family. Think they got what they prayed for? Heaven on Earth?

But something’s happening.

In the past few days, a couple of conservative thinkers have spoken out against this equity position at the asylum. If you court the extremists now, you’ll own them later, too.

NY Times columnist David Brooks says the GOP must stop rolling over to the mindless rants from Hannity, Limbaugh and Beck because, in the real world, they do not move the dial past the base. They just make noise.

US Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South.Carolina, has urged the nuts to “cut out this crap about birthers.” He realizes the 2010 mid-term election potential is pretty solid for the Republicans but 2012 is different race. The GOP will need the center and center-right voters, not just the whack jobs, in a presidential race.

Ask yourself -- was Moliere a Republican or Democrat?

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