Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy Aftermath

Sandy, to put it succinctly, kicked my ass, but not to the extent that last year's hurricane Irene did. I got to work before the brunt of the storm hit, around 2PM on Monday, knowing that I would not be leaving the site before 9AM the following morning. I packed as if I were going on a camping trip- plenty of food and several changes of clothes.

When it hit my neck of the woods, Sandy differed significantly from a typical tropical storm in that there was comparatively little rainfall. Out of the several times when I had to be outside checking up on things, I only had to wear my rain poncho once. The wind, however, was pretty brutal. My workplace lost power around 11PM (two of my co-workers were also pulling all-night duty, one lost power early on, the other didn't lose power at all).

The weird thing about losing power in a public building is that there is emergency power that kicks in to provide enough lighting to allow an evacuation of the building. Of course, I was not evacuating... it's a bit eerie sitting in a dim building, watching the lights slowly dying, listening to the beeps of the alarm system growing fainter with time. Luckily, I had access to candles (during our nighttime fundraisers, we put lanterns up on site to provide "atmosphere"), and I made sure to "top off" my electronic devices throughout the evening while I still had power.

Knowing the power would not come on for a while, I had to engage in "resource management"- I had to use the gigantic rechargeable flashlight sparingly and conserve phone battery power (the phone is an emergency light source as well as a communication device in instances like this). I only used my phone frivolously once, to snap a picture of a tired, unshaven, raggedly looking bastard working by candlelight:

It was pitch dark but luckily I had a torch and a match in my inventory.

About every three hours, I did a walkabout to gauge water levels on the site (Irene was primarily a flooding event in my neck of the woods) and checked for storm damage to the buildings on site. A sizable branch had narrowly missed my car, but we survived pretty much unscathed. During one of my rambles I saw what appeared to be an intense, though extremely localized, fireworks display- probably a transformer explosion. The police, fire department, EMTs, and ConEd work crews were out and about- the night was punctuated by wailing sirens and flashing lights. By the time the site director and site manager arrived at 9AM, the storm had subsided, and I had a comprehensive report on the extent of the minor damage done to the site. I sent several text messages to my department head to appraise him of my situation and convey the reports of my two overnighting co-workers.

I returned home on deserted roads and found that my neighborhood had never lost power. A large oak tree came down right where I usually park my car... I joked to my neighbor that I was lucky I worked an all-nighter- it's not the first time my car missed getting totaled by a falling tree by virtue of my work schedule. She joked about inviting all of her powerless friends over for the day- "If you have any frozen steaks you don't want to spoil, bring them over!"

I crawled into bed, bone tired, and zonked out until about 3PM, when I received a call from the guy who was supposed to work Tuesday afternoon- he was stuck at home by flooded roads and downed trees. Damn, damn, damn, I had to go back. Luckily, I had re-charged my cell phone- I arrived to find that the power was still out at work. Knowing that the power would probably be out, I made sure I had a fat, lurid paperpack, purchased for a quarter at a library book sale, and my wind-up radio/LED combo with me. Around 5PM, the Chief Financial Officer of the organization came over to conduct a spot inspection (much to my surprise). I took him on a Cook's destruction tour, pointing out the minor damage that the site had incurred. The rest of the night was uneventful- it involved using my resources sparingly, reading my trashy novel, and listening to radio reports of the massive damage that coastal areas received. I'm still not really caught up on current events, but Sandy pretty much supersedes everything as far as media coverage in these parts.

Monday, October 29, 2012

You Look Familiar, I Think I Met Your Sister

Wow, three days without a post... it's been crazy here in Bastardstan. My last post was on Thursday, the last moment of calmness I've had in a while. Thursday night, I returned to work one of our major fall fundraisers after getting a whopping three hours of sleep. Friday? I slept until noon, then got my act together and headed back to work the fundraiser that night. After five and a half hours of sleep, I headed down to Manhattan to teach, then traveled straight to work, stopping only to get a couple of slices of pizza.

As you can imagine, I passed out when I got home and slept until noon yet again on Sunday. When I got to work at 3PM, I found that our last fundraising night was cancelled due to the impending Hurricane Sandy (a sizable contingent of our cast and crew commutes up from NYC and the MTA suspended train service at 7PM. Instead of working the event, I helped break the sets down and collected a metric fuckton of hardware off the site. One of my co-workers jokingly told me, "I don't mean to offend you, but you're a beast." No offense was taken, one's gotta do what one must, even if it's exhausting.

Today, I got to work early to beat the fury of the predicted Frankenstorm. I'm just as safe at work as I would be at home, and I'm a hell of a lot safer than I'd be on the roads. I made sure I packed as if I were going on a camping trip- I have several changes of clothes, plenty of food, and I made sure I filled several large bottles with water just in case the shit hits the fan. My first order of business on the job was making sure that mah preshus kittehs were safely locked in their dwellings and supplied with plenty of cat food. Can't have them running around in a titanic gale.

Hilariously, one of the young ladies in the event crew had made a joke about disaster preparedness: "Stock up on condoms and frozen vegetables. If you are stuck with no place to go, you can just have sex until you're sore, then you can use the frozen vegetable packages as ice packs, and you can eat them when they thaw out." Well, this comment made me revise my disaster preparedness plans... "Whatever you do, make sure you are stranded with this girl if there is a disaster."

Unfortunately, the only one I'm stranded with Sandy, and she's looking a lot like her sister Irene, with whom I spent the night. Because of the timing, and the storm's effect on our fundraisers, I am also reminded of last year's late October blizzard. The forecasters have indicated that Sandy could be with us for up to 36 hours.

It's going to be a long, rough couple of days and I'm all out of bubblegum frozen vegetables.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Conservatives Cannot Comprehend Consent

Conservatives cannot comprehend the concept of consent- this is evident in their parsing of the word "rape", their inventing categories of the crime in an attempt to trivialize a woman's role as a moral agent. Conservatives have a problem distinguishing consensual sex from rape and see a sinister sexual agenda in harmless, indeed harm-reducing policies. They employ crude, violent sexual imagery to describe the voting decisions of popularly elected officials. Even while conservatives spout their creepy, sexualized characterizations of "Obamacare", they attempt to pass laws that mandate invasive, coercive "medical" procedures.

Yes, conservatives have a problem with the concept of consent to the extent that the Republican vice presidential (and a Wisconsin congressional) candidate considers rape merely "another form of conception":

If the GOP ticket wins, legislators who wish to redefine rape won't receive credible opposition from the executive branch- this should give pause to any voter who values an individual's right to self-determination.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Secret Science Club Post-Lecture Recap: Meeting the Neighbors

Last night, I headed down to the beautiful Bell House in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn for the monthly Secret Science Club lecture by Dr Jason Munshi-South a professor of Urban Evolutionary Biology at Baruch College and CUNY's Graduate Center. Dr Munshi-South lectured on some of the neighbors that most New Yorkers are unacquainted with.

Dr Munshi-South began his lecture with an admission that he had been somewhat surprised upon his first visit at the amount of "nature" that is present in New York City. He displayed a map of the world's biomes and indicated that, because of the activities of humans throughout the world, it was useful to think of human-altered biomes- anthromes. Because of human activity, it could be said that we are living in the age of human-dominated environments, which could be termed the Anthropocene Epoch. Even though the majority of biomes are human dominated, most ecological studies take place in protected areas. Only four percent of these studies are conducted in an urban environment.

In urban environments, biodiversity decreases. There are fewer species in urban areas, but the populations of the species that remain typically increase. While many species are "urban avoiders", the few "urban adapters" tend to thrive. Besides the ubiquitous eastern gray squirrel (we have a fairly common melanistic variety of this squirrel as well), the most common native small mammals in NYC are the white footed mouse, the meadow vole, and the northern short-tailed shrew. The mice and voles are typically caught in traps baited with birdseed, while the shrews are caught in pitfall traps. In the Q&A, Dr Munshi-South indicated that the infamous rats of the city are not included in his study because he doesn't like them, as any rats caught in the baited traps are smelly and vicious. Additionally, the rats aren't native to the region. Larger mammals, such as racoons, squirrels, striped skunks, opossums, red foxes, feral cats, and coyotes are detected with remote cameras (great images can be found at the Fauna of NYC section of the Encyclopedia of Life. The coyote pictured in the EoL was photographed on the grounds of the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. As an aside, coyotes are also present in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. They are fairly abundant in Westchester County- I actually saw one hanging out in the driveway of a Stop-n-Shop near my workplace last Thursday night, it looked like it owned the place.

Dr Munshi-South also discussed salamander species that still inhabit New York City. Redback salamanders (and their gray-backed variety the leadback) are fairly common in parks are areas bordering golf courses. Northern two-lined salamanders and dusky salamanders are not as common, but can be found near springs and streams in extreme Northern Manhattan (being very rocky, the northern tip of Manhattan has extensive undeveloped areas).

As far as the coyote goes, the animals arrived in the New York metro area recently. It is thought that the coyote came to the city by two routes- one population arrived from the west, while another population traveled east through Canada (the reduction of the wolf population made this movement easier, and this population of coyotes engaged in interbreeding with wolves- the coyotes also occasionally interbred with dogs, so the population is more accurately described as "Northeastern wild canids"), then turned south until it established itself in the undeveloped portions of the Bronx. From time to time, a coyote will enter Manhattan, but these incidents tend to be unreported these days, probably to avoid embarrassing coverage of the authorities.

After an overview of the fauna of the city, Dr Munshi-South discussed evolution in the urban environment. The habitats of the wild critters in the city tend to be fractured (this map of the parks of the city shows that the parks are often separated by long distances though Frederick Law Olmstead did design greenbelts to connect the parks. Isolated populations gain genetic variations through the process of genetic drift- changes in allele frequency can eventually become dominant in a population. Such changes in isolated populations accumulate until each population is genetically distinct.

The white-footed mouse is the the go-to animal in urban evolutionary studies. In one study, twenty-five mice each were collected from fifteen city parks, and tissue samples were taken so eighteen locations on the genome could be compared to determine the extent of genetic variation. In the more isolated parks, the populations were distinct, while mice in connected parks showed less variation (there is an extensive green belt in eastern Brooklyn and Queens composed of parks and cemeteries). To model the movement of populations diagrams similar to circuit diagrams can be used (warning: PDF). In the case of New York City's white-footed mice, travel from one suitable habitat to another is most feasible when there is a 70% coverage of an area by the tree canopy. Lesser canopy cover results in an impeded ability to move from suitable habitat to another. Even though the isolated populations of the city's white-footed mice are genetically distinct, they have not been isolated for enough generations for allopatric speciation to occur- they are not distinct species.

Further studies compared mouse populations from more rural areas (such as Harriman State Park) to the city mouse populations (yes, the obligatory joke was made). The city mice tended to have changes in the region of the genome that influences the immune system- remember that biodiversity decreases in urban areas, but the population density of successful urban adapters tends to increase. Natural selection would result in these populations having more robust immune systems.

In the case of the dusky salamander, there are two populations separated by the insurmountable obstacle posed by the Alexander Hamilton Bridge. The populations on either side of the bridge (180th St and 167th St) are genetically distinct.

In the Q&A, Dr Munshi-South addressed such topics as the explosion in the raccoon population in New York City, and the relatively high opossum population in less developed neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn. He discussed the discovery of a second beaver in the Bronx (dubbed Justin Beaver). He discussed the movement of fishers from the Albany area to the south (for the record, there's a fisher at one of my worksites in northern Westchester county- luckily, it's nowhere near my primary workplace because fishers tend to kill cats and I would be really upset if anything happened to mah preshus kittehs). Some bastard in the crowd asked about conservation measures taken to protect salamander habitats in city parks and Dr Munshi-South spoke of the need to balance human recreational needs with the needs of animals... a proposed mountain biking path was scratched to protect Northern Manhattan's dusky salamanders.

The lecture was yet another stellar Secret Science Club event. For a taste of this lecture's subject matter, crack open a beer and watch this video featuring Dr Munshi-South:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Enter the Dumbass

It's been a hell of a weekend. On Friday night, I worked one of our fall fundraisers (eight hours on my feet, a lot of running around) and got home after 1AM. I woke up around 7:30AM on Saturday and got my ass to Manhattan for my volunteer coaching gig. We had a class of 9-10 year old girls, and a class of 9-10 year old boys (the separation of gender cohorts is due to limited locker room in our pool area, so the kids can't all change together). In our free time, I fought like hell with Gentle Jimmy G., who makes me look like Rainbow Brite- we warmed up with some ground fighting and ended up with some serious standing work (lot of falls were taken). My great and good friend Frenchy taught the seventy-ish mother of the gymnastics coach who shares our room how to throw him with o soto gari, much to her delight. I felt great when I left the building, but I headed straight to work for a sold-out fundraiser.

This particular fundraiser is a haunted attraction in which actors in creepy costume scare the bejeebers out of attendees. There's a strict "no-touching" policy- the ghoulies don't touch the visitors and vice-versa. Things went pretty smoothly until one patron slugged one of our actresses, a young woman who's five foot nothing and about ninety pounds soaking wet, in the eye. A cadre of actors who rove the site looking for trouble marked the guy who slugged the actress and called for the three off-duty cops who are working the security detail. The three off-duty cops escorted the guy to our visitors' center, where the local gendarmes were waiting to determine if the guy should be charged. The interview didn't go so well for the guy:

"Why'd you punch her?"
"I'm a martial artist, I just reacted reflexively."
"You know this is a haunted attraction, you weren't being attacked. It's not real."
"My heart wasn't in it."

Ultimately, charges weren't pressed- the actress wasn't hurt badly (she had quite the black eye the following day, though) and she decided that she just wouldn't have the time to deal with a trial. Dumbass was escorted off the premises after receiving a warning.

The thing that really chapped my ass about the hearing was the guy's assertion that he was a "martial artist" and that his "training" is what led him to, basically, punch a pixie. I spent the whole morning engaged in "combat", I know the difference between a real fight and a friendly match, I know how to assess "threats". I may joke about beating up nine-year-olds, but I don't actually beat up nine-year-olds. I don't know what sort of martial arts training would cause a guy to slug someone considerably smaller than himself. Maybe he's studied tae kwan dope, the art of doing stupid things with your hands and feet.

The only other real glitch all night was a smoke alarm activation due to fluctuating power levels (due to a draw on the power lines by the lighting and sound systems), which caused our Very Early Smoke Detection Alarm to go wonky. I had to run across the site while the event was in progress, meet with a representative of the fire department, then reset the alarm and go room-by-room through the building in which the alarm activation took place. Fun.

I got home after one o'clock Sunday morning and had to throw a load of laundry in the wash. I didn't actually get to sleep until after two. At one point, I was so tired I almost did a faceplant in my apartment. Basically, I was so tired that I felt like I was wicked drunk. Sunday, I slept til just about noon, plenty of time to get ready for another day on the job. I can't wait for November.

I considered an alternate title for this post- "Enter the (Knuckle) Draggin'", but I went with my first choice.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bottom of the Birther Barrel

Just when you think Mitt Romney can't sink any lower, he manages to outdo himself... this time by inviting right-wing conspiracy-theorist whackaloon Jerome Corsi to join his press corps.

For those unfamiliar with Jerome Corsi's oeuvre, he is a senior writer for right-wing paranoid site World Net Daily, characterized by Salon's Alex Pareene as the biggest, dumbest wingnut site on the web and known pejoratively as World Nut Daily. Corsi is also a staple guest on late night lunatic radio programs.

Corsi first gained notoriety for his slanderous hit piece on John Kerry, and has kept up the sliming during President Obama's term in the White House. He then went full birther boogie on the president and assembled a posse conmantatus to investigate the circumstances of the Kenyan Usurper's birth. Corsi has also written articles and recorded videos claiming that Barack Obama is gay, and was married to a Pakistani man.

Corsi's latest book is a pseudoscientific screed claiming that "abiotic oil" production is feasible... funny how right-wing cranks see no contradictions in citing Soviet authorities or even, at the risk of a Godwin's Law violation, lauding Nazi science.

If Mitt Romney is truly moving toward the center politically, why is he cozying up to a birther, flat-earther right-wing lunatic like Jerome Corsi? Perhaps his failure to gain a real, sustained bump from his "victory" in the first debate (and his son's failure to kill Barack Obama with his preternatural powers) has convinced him to consult one of the most vicious character assassins in the right-wing Legion of Dumb. It's a desperate, despicable act by a guy who's scraping the bottom of the barrel in his campaign for the presidency.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Putting the "Pan" in Pander

There are few things more hilarious than seeing a hypocrite caught out in a shameless pander, therefore, Paul Ryan's laughable attempt to look like he was helping out at a soup kitchen is side-splittingly funny (Mrs. Polly's hilarious "Blingee" captures the true awesomeness of this moment).

Please note the blindingly white, well-pressed apron worn by Congressman Ryan as he wastes volunteers' time and resources to "clean" already cleaned pans. Meanwhile, as Mrs. Polly notes, Ryan's budget slashes relief for the poor. Self-proclaimed Catholic boy Ryan played the Pharisee while faking a corporal act of mercy, but the nuns aren't fooled.

Yeah, this potsie pandering to this extent is pretty hilarious, or it would be if he weren't such an appalling sociopath.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lydon on Biden

In a comment, Rumproast's YAFB linked to an interview in which John Lydon expressed some kinship with Joe Biden:

Tip to Joe Biden- spike up those hairplugs with some gel, baby! Consider springing for some crimson hair dye.

It's nice to know that Mr Lydon, though perhaps not the youthful anarchist he once was, has remained politically informed. If only Mr. Lydon would step up to be President Obama's debate partner, he could inform the president that anger is an energy and that an energetic performance would improve his public image.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Perfunctory October Post

This being October, I'm up to my ass in work. Tonight, we had a low-key fundraiser, but it still kept me from composing a lengthy post. Tomorrow, I have my volunteer gig in the morning, and then a major fundraising event (the low-key fundraiser runs concurrently- it's a mixed crowd that descends on my workplace on such nights). I figured I'd post a video which describes my October... Ministry's Halloween is Every Day:

I remember reading that Al Jourgensen has disavowed the early synth-pop Ministry songs, but I have to say that I like 'em. How could anyone disavow a song with the lyric "Walking around this stinky town, I look up at the buildings and they get me down"?

How about another disavowed Ministry synth-pop number?

Watching that video, I can't escape the conviction that the hair-gel cost more than the sets.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Projection Always, Constantly

Wow, ever see an ad which absolutely floors you with the sheer level of projection that it embodies? Today, Pupienus, the food pr0n obsessed emperor of Portland linked to a Republican PAC in a comment at Sadly, No!, which led me to this wonderful ad:

Holy Hannah, that is some serious, serious projection on the part of GOPTrust PAC... in the context of an ad which claims that Democrats use words to manipulate the public into voting for them, the ad actually uses the Frank Luntz tested neologism "Democrat Party". Tellingly, the ad only references three examples of "tested" words- "extremists", "hope", and "change". Meanwhile, the Republicans have brought us such terms as "death tax, "death panels", "job creators", and "religious freedom". Once again, it's all about projection with these wingnuts.

To cap it all off, the ad is narrated by someone using a kitschy Kissenger faux German accent (is he supposed to sound like the stereotypical cartoon psychiatrist?), and the ad veers off into a Godwin's Law violation.

It's a strange ad, more ridiculous than effective. In this post Poe's Law political reality, it's impossible to tell if it's a really bad ad by a genuine Republican PAC, or if it's a really good act of political sabotage on the part of a culture-jamming Democratic Party operative. At any rate, it's not manipulating anyone.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Biggest WTF? Moment in Mitt's VMI Speech

Bette Noir has a good overview of Mitt Romney's VMI Speech, but I feel I have to mention one weird moment that had me scratching my bald pate in puzzlement:

The size of our Navy is at levels not seen since 1916. I will restore our Navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year, including three submarines.

The veracity of this statement can be determined with a little bit of research. In terms of the number of ships, the current U.S. Navy has forty more ships than its 1916 counterpart. Of course, this raw number doesn't address the fact that the firepower packed by today's navy is dramatically greater than that of 1916's navy. Today's navy includes eleven floating cities of doom that would have been inconceivable in 1916- each of these carriers forms the nucleus of a sophisticated mini-fleet. Modern military technology allows our current navy to project power at a much greater range than that of the early 20th century navy.

Mitt's claim, characterized by CNN as pointless, represents another unforced error- it was a stupid claim, easily fact-checked. The fact that Mitt included it in an allegedly "major" foreign policy speech reveals the depth of his ignorance and the breadth of his arrogance- did he not think that someone would research this issue?

Personally, I think Mitt came across his skewed view of the navy while researching pop culture in a hopeless attempt to seem hip.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Garibaldi Day, or Is It Happy Granata Day?

Last year, I proposed that Columbus Day be changed to Garibaldi Day because Columbus was pretty much an awful person while Garibaldi was a paragon of liberalism and national self-determination on both sides of the Atlantic. As if that weren't enough, he was a Noo Yawkah for a brief time. Even though my dad's dad's parents emigrated from a small town near Genoa, I'd rather celebrate Garibaldi's achievements than those of the Genoese Columbus. To tell the truth, I'd rather celebrate Rocco Granata's legacy than Columbus'- as far as I know, Rocco didn't destroy an entire culture, as long as you ignore this unfortunate misstep.

So, do I celebrate my Italian heritage by memorializing a grand hero of Italian unification, who was also associated with revolutionary movements in South America, or do I memorialize the guy who wrote an accordion-driven classic which is played wherever drunk Europeans congregate? Should I even have to choose?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Terror Trifecta

Hey, while poking around the t00bz, I found something season-appropriate which touches on several of my interests. I've never seen Once Upon a Midnight Scary, but it is narrated by Vincent Price, the second part of the anthology is a truncated (I kill me!) version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and the third part is an adaptation of The House with a Clock in its Walls by Bastard fave John Bellairs. I can't vouch for the entertainment value of the show, but it contains elements which pique my interest:

While I've written pretty extensively on Bellairs' The Face in the Frost, I haven't written about The House with a Clock in its Walls- I may have to put up a review of the book for another weekend.

In the interest of full disclosure, I composed this post last night.

Friday, October 5, 2012

It Gets Real

I started off my October posts with my usual disclaimer, but tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow, it gets real. Tomorrow, I have to get up shortly after 7AM after five and a half or so hours of sleep, in order to travel to Manhattan for my volunteer gig. Since the kids will probably be rusty, I may have to break out the crash pads and throw them all using tai otoshi to get them used to the idea of falling, then start them off with ukemi. The program wraps up around noon, then I have to get my ass to work. Thankfully, I'll be done with work around 11PM, but there's a lot of running around to do at the end of the shift.

It gets real alright, but at least it's not "Elmo's gonna kick my ass" real.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Big Bird, Big Government

Working the graveyard shift is a mixed blessing. I'm sorry I missed out on the entertaining live-blogging of the debate, but I did have an opportunity to not only hear the debate, but to read some of the post-debate dissection of the debate...

Attention! Your attention, please! A newsflash has this moment arrived from the Sesame Front. The forces of Republicanism in 2012 have won a glorious victory. I am authorized to say that the war against PBS is within measurable distance of its end.

The general consensus among media types is that Mitt Romney "won" the first debate in the 2012 campaign, but my takeaway is that his victory will turn out to be a Pyrrhic one.

Mitt never really delivered any telling blows against President Obama in this general snoozefest of a debate. Mitt avoided talking about specific points in his tax plan. Indeed, he avoided specificity on most topics. The fact checkers will be parsing the debate performances of both candidates, while the public spaces out about the facts and figures. Romney's "victory" was due to a largely passive performance on the part of the president... hopefully this was a rope-a-dope tactic on the president's part, a gambit to make Mitt underestimate him before landing some devastating blows during the foreign policy portion of the debates.

Now, for the main reason why I think that Mitt's vague "victory" was a hollow one- the one feature of Romney's performance that will capture the imagination of wags was his declaration of love for Big Bird (who is just the right height), though said love would best be described as creepy and stalkerish, seeing that Mitt wants to cut funding for PBS, the "home" of Big Bird. Already, the meme-generators are hard at work generating facetious images of Mitt. Some of these images are pretty damn devastating. Who the hell is going to remember Mitt's evasive generalizations about his fiscal policies once the social media wags start pushing the Big Bird narrative?

Poor Mitt, he may have won a doubleplusgood victory against Barack Obama in debate round one, but he lost the meme war against Big Bird. It won't be long before one of Mitt's team members tells Wolf Blitzer, "We have always been at war with Sesame Street."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Forgetting to Take Care of Basic Needs

In a comment to my last post, mikey reminds me not to forget the basics of health and hygiene in the busy season:

Have a good October - don't forget to take care of your basic needs. Foot fungus will get you dusted off just the same as a sucking chest wound...

Thanks for looking out, mikey... I promise not to catass. On the other hand, though, a friend of mine told me a cautionary tale.

This particular friend is one of the contract employees who works our special events. She's a personable, loquacious young woman who's trying to balance her lackluster day job with the creative career that landed her her special events contract with us. I see her a couple of times a year (in my first draft, I referred to her as an acquaintance, but I didn't think that would be fair to her, because I really enjoy working with her on those all-too-rare occasions when she's with the organization). This friend of mine has a younger sister who recently started college, and I always make a point of asking her how little sis is doing. This year, I inquire of little sis and I get the cautionary tale:

"Hey, **REDACTED**, how is your sister doing?"
"She had some health problems, but she's okay now."
"Well, she had a case of scurvy.
"SCURVY? Was she eating nothing by Kraft mac-n-cheez?"
"No, she was eating nothing but oatmeal. She's in college, and she's been living entirely on oatmeal since she got there."
"Damn, she really needs to eat some vegetables."
"Right? And she's a vegetarian."

The irony of this story is that my friend's typical drink is pink lemonade and gin, to the extent that the barkeeps in the places she frequents have named the drink after her. If only little sis had a taste for her drink, with its antiscorbutic properties, she would not have had her bout with this sailors' bane.

Monday, October 1, 2012

If It's October...

Every October, two things happen to me... October is the major fundraising month at work, so it involves long hours and a lot of running around (one of my running jokes is that my job is cushy, except when it's not, and October is an entire month in the "not" column. As if that weren't enough, my volunteer gig restarts on the first Saturday in October (since it's a kids' athletic program, it roughly coincides with the school year, specifically the months between fall and spring sports seasons). Suffice it to say, I pretty much pull a Captain Nemo- I basically won't surface for a month. My tradition is usually to post a video for my all-time favorite Sex Pistols song, but this year I'm posting the video for Let's Submerge by the late, great Poly Styrene and the X-Ray Spex- BLAST THIS ONE!

I've gotten savvier about posting in the years I've been blogging, so I'll try to set up posts for those days when I leave home in the vicinity of seven o'clock Saturday morning and don't get home until one-thirty or so Sunday morning, and I don't have any downtime for posting (for the record, I'm writing this at work because it's quiet now- all of the techies setting up for our fundraiser have left the site, but that's all about to end this weekend). I'm going to try to maintain a decent blogging schedule, but the posts will probably be shorter ones, with a fair amount of video embeds.