Thursday, September 30, 2010

$ecularism Win$

Here in Michigan, it is currently illegal to purchase alcohol on Sunday mornings or on December 25. This antiquated temporal prohibition has its roots in a time when this nation fancied itself as more religious. At least when it came to those religions that just happened to celebrate their services on Sunday mornings and the birth of their savior on December 25.
It seems, however, these relics of a simpler, more monocultural (and repressive) time are about to go the way of the unicorn and cockatrice. (Both are animals mentioned in the Bible. And if they're in the Bible, they MUST have been real, right?)
From what I'm hearing on news reports, our state's legislators, faced with shrinking revenues and budget difficulties, have realized that more time for liquor sales will mean more tax dollars for the state and more potential sales for retailers. Yep. It's one thing to preach piety, but when it gets in the way of the almighty greenback, the Lord will just have to be content with having "In God we trust" graffiti-ed on the crinkled dollars used to purchase six packs of Blatz at 9:00am on the Sabbath. And so, if the pundits are correct, we Michiganders will soon be able to go to high midnight mass and stop for some Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill on the drive home.
Yet another small quiet win for secularism.
And I'll happily drink to that!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"That's One Small Penis for a Man; One Giant Penis for Mankind"

I am currently reading the fascinating book "Packing for Mars" by Mary Roach. This book is particularly interesting for me both because it deals with human spaceflight -a particular interest of mine - and because Ms. Roach combines great science writing with a humorous skewed-to-just-this-side-of-demented take on things.
Among the fascinating trivia contained in this book is a discussion of the urine-collection devices used by male space-walkers on the Space Shuttle flights. These devices consist of a condom-like attachment connected to a tube and a urine collection bag. (Restrooms being a scarce commodity outside a spacecraft in low Earth orbit.) These devices come in three sizes. Small, medium and large, you may presume? If so, you presume incorrectly. The three size options are Large, Extra Large and Extra-Extra Large. And, in anticipation of the next question, the answer is no. Astronauts are not more stallion-like than their Earthbound brethren. The reason for the king-sized nomenclature was a concern that those who - for anatomical reasons - required a size "small" would be unwilling to admit that fact and order a larger and thus ill-fitting size with leaky and unpleasant results.
This, however, wasn't always the case. During project Apollo, they did indeed have small, medium and large sized urine collection devices.
In addition, NASA had a seemingly compulsive need to document everything related to the Apollo missions. And I do mean EVERYTHING. Like this list of items left behind on the moon by the Apollo 11 crew. Pay particular attention to items 50 and 51. Four urine collection assemblies were left behind on the lunar surface. Two were large. Two were small. Which leaves one with the obvious speculation. Two astronauts walked on the moon on that lunar morning in July 1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. One, apparently, was "one giant step" larger in the manhood department than the other. But who was the one with more of the "right stuff"? And how would anyone find out? I suppose someone could simply ask the men involved, but aside from the world-class awkwardness such a query would pose, I doubt either would 'fess up to wearing the size small.
I guess this is one piece of space trivia which must forever remain in the realm of conjecture and debate.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

HDTV + Computer = GuyCool

One of the true ironies of my life is that, as a PBS employee, I was up-to-date on the whole HDTV-thing for years before most people had ever heard of it. I had to be. It was my job and the ability to do it depended on knowing all about that stuff. I attended seminars, meetings, showcases and read books and articles all about the new birth of digital television.
But, since my existing analog TV's were still working, I couldn't justify the expense (to myself and CERTAINLY not my farthing-pinching wife) of buying one. Besides, when it finally came time to plunk down the ca$h to buy one, I wanted a GOOD one. That was one of the downsides to knowing so much about the digital TV world... I knew what I wanted but also knew how much it would cost.
Then, as anyone who has read my scribblings in the past will know, I lost my job. Getting an HDTV was the last thing on my agenda at that point.
We managed to save up a bit of "safety-net" money from my vacation payout to use if/when my unemployment money ran dry. My wife, however, perhaps in an attempt to keep my spirits up and give me something to look forward to, declared that if I managed to find employment before we had to dip into the reserve fund, I could use some of that money to purchase an HDTV of my choice.
Long story short, the local Fox affiliate decided to live up to their environmentalist "Green Team" hype and recycle an old PBS retread.
And I got my HDTV. Not just ANY HDTV... a ginormous one with 1080p, 120Hz screen refresh, 100,000:1 contrast ratio, etc., etc., etc. And it was even on sale! In short, it's damned awesome! It seems somehow right and just that - since, like the mafia, once someone starts in television one never seems to be able to leave - I should have a decent TV. Fer Chrissakes, there had been people living in trailer parks with better TV's than I had! It was no less than a blot on the natural order of things, I tells ya!
One thing I can't wait to see in hi-def is hockey! My beloved Red Wings in full 1080p 16x9 glory! Of course, the first time I'd have a chance to do that is 5pm tomorrow. Fate, of course, decided to spit in my eye due to the fact that I have to leave for band practice at 5:10pm. Wrong. Just wrong.
Today, having a small bit of extra cash from some unexpected overtime, I decided to stimulate the local economy by buying a 15-pin male-to-male (stop snickering... it's a perfectly legitimate electronics term! Look it up, you pervs!) cable so I could hook up my laptop to the big honkin' HDTV.
When I announced my intentions in that regard my wife simply asked "Why would you want to do THAT?"
My teenage son and I merely stared back at her incredulously... as though she asked why we like to breathe and consume nutrients.
Call it gender misunderstanding and miscommunication if you will. I just call it "Chicks just don't GET it!"
Come on: Computer. Big HDTV. Connector Cable. BIG computer picture! I mean, DUH! For guys this is nothing less than a complete syllogism; an entire self-contained system of values, philosophy and logic.
Anyway, I got the cable and, tonight, after some setup adjustments and (I'm almost ashamed to admit it but some valuable assistance from the aforementioned teenage son... it HAD to happen someday) I managed to get big computer stuff on the HD monitor.
I thought it was cool. My son thought it was cool. My wife? "When are you going to be done playing with that thing? I want to watch the Christmas stuff on QVC!"
And so I had to relinquish the HDTV for the time being. But one thing I can tell you for certain. There's no way ANYTHING from the Bethlehem Light Company could EVER be as cool as a laptop hooked up to an HDTV!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Settling In

Just a few quick words to update anyone who may possibly care...

I finally feel as though I'm getting the rhythm of the workplace. I'm getting to the point where I feel like I'm getting the right amount of work done in a given day and learning to keep up with things. What were for the first few weeks slow deliberate keystrokes are now becoming almost automatic. Hopefully, this situation will only improve. I remember when I was given the boot at WFUM I was able to whiz through ProTrack routines at an insanely rapid (yet accurate) pace. I'm also becoming better acquainted with my new co-workers... some of whom are actually quite helpful and nice.

In other news, I'm finally able to relax at home now. (i.e., when I get home, I can think about things other than work.) In short, I may actually learn to adjust to this new job and settle into some semblance of contentment.

I feel especially lucky to have a job at all here in Michigan in 2010. The latest Michigan employment figures showed no change in the unemployment rate during the past month... but that's rather deceptive. According to an analysis of the data, Michigan actually lost 50,000 jobs last month, but that this was offset by an even greater number of people simply giving up on looking for work. So I guess half my old salary is better than nothing!

So, with things settling down and the dust clearing, I hope to be able to return to posting to this blog on a more frequent and regular basis.

You've been warned.