Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • If I’m worried about how much snow we’re going to get over night, is that the qualm before the storm?

  • When do you suppose we’ll reach the saturation point on cable TV shows that say you can’t sell your house because its filthy and full of junk?  I hope soon.

  • If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, where’s ugly?

  • Republicans in Congress say they’re against President Obama’s economic recovery program.  They want a more sensible spending program.  How do they know sensible spending will work?  Has that ever been tried in Washington?

  • Don’t you  just hate it when the Chinese New Year rolls around and you’re still writing Year of the Rat on your checks when it”s already the Year of the Ox?

Things I Know

  • President Obama says his economic recovery plan will create or save at least three-million jobs.  That’s $275,000 per job.  If they make the transaction non-taxable, I’ll sell them my job for $225,000.  Then they can give it to somebody else.  I’m sure a lot of other people are willing to do the same.  That’s almost a twenty percent discount.  Think of all the money they’ll save if they do that.

  • All men are NOT interested in only one thing.  There are a few of us who don’t give a dam about football.    So I won’t be buying an enormous and expensive flat-screen TV on which to watch the Super Bowl.  Even if I bought such a TV, I wouldn’t be watching the Super Bowl.

  • There were more things I want, but can’t afford in Scottsdale AZ in January than anyplace else on earth.  They were being sold at the Barrett-Jackson collectible car auction.

  • On ABC radio the night before the Presidential inauguration, an announcer said, “The first African American” will be inaugurated as President tomorrow.  I know what he meant, and Barack Obama’s inauguration does break a barrier that deserves breaking.  But the announcer didn’t say what he meant, did he?  I don’t think anyone knows for sure who the first African American was.  Did the Spanish bring Africans to Florida when exploring and founding St. Augustine in the 1560’s?  Did the British bring the first African to Jamestown in the early 1600’s?  Or to be the first African American, did we have to wait until the United States were formed?

We Are Not Alone

The science fiction section in my nearest Barnes & Noble is shrinking.  I don’t know if the rest of it has disappeared into another dimension.  I suspect the stuff just isn’t selling as well as it once did.

It’s fun to watch or read old science fiction because the people who created it used science that still hasn’t been achieved but didn’t pick up on stuff that was invented right afterwards.  Either that or they got something right but how it happened completely wrong.

Example of the first is Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon, flying around the planet Mongo and navigating his space ship by looking out the window.  We still haven’t achieved manned, interstellar travel, but they came up with radar way less than ten years after those movies were made. 

Example of the second is the novel “1984.”  Orwell was right that we’d have no privacy, but wrong about how it would happen.  It wasn’t government-operated surveillance cameras inside our homes that did us in.  It was the Internet, tracking cookies and people willingly giving up their personal information so they could have a small discount at CVS or some other company with a customer reward program.  These things led to interactive databases that track everything about almost all of us. 

How much privacy does the average person have? 

Earlier this month, I told you I don’t remember my first kiss with my first girlfriend, Barbara.  I haven’t seen, spoken or written to Barbara in more years than I’d care to remember.  I have no interest in rekindling that childhood romance.  The childhood romance I still have with my wife is working out better than I had any right to expect, thank you. 

But just to prove that I could do it, I’m now about 99.5 percent certain that Barbara lives in Missouri, and is married to a guy named Lem.  I’m not going to call, write or visit her to be 100 percent sure, but I could.  That’s frighteningly little privacy for someone who hasn’t gone out of her way to be known.  And it took me about five minutes.  

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • Is there a dumber ad campaign than Varian Medical Systems’ TV and radio commercials featuring letters from cancer?  Their website works for me, but their TV and radio commercials with the letter to cancer that ends, “Love, Me,” don’t.    I think being inspired by cancer patients courage is a wonderful idea and for each letter they post on their website Varian donates $10 to cancer research, up to $100,000.  That’s great too.  Look at the letters on their website instead of watching or listening to the commercials:  The first one I looked at is signed, “Your sworn nemesis.”  That’s much more like it.  When I think about cancer, a number of four letter words pop into my head, but love isn’t one of them.

  • Did you know I’m being plagiarized by someone I don’t know and never heard of?  I said plagiarized for effect:  I don’t really mean it.  The blogger in question doesn’t credit the Sisyphus Project by name, but does link to it if you want more.  I’m flattered.  If I didn’t know me really well, I’d be impressed too.

  • Job hunting is very frustrating.  I know why a prospective employer won’t give you a reason they don’t hire you.  Nevertheless, how are you supposed to improve your act for the next interview if you never get any feedback about the mistakes you’ve made or how you could improve?

  • I’d understand the whole thing about Bernie Madoff and bail, if  he were free on bail as reporters keep saying and writing that he is.  But he’s not free on bail; he’s under house arrest that he’s paying for.  And if he is guilty as charged, he’s paying for the guards and the monitoring with money he stole from the people he swindled.  As long as he’s under house arrest, I don’t understand why they don’t just throw him in jail.

  • Near the end of that TV commercial Billy Mays does hawking some miracle fabric glue, he says, “You get everything for just $19.99.”  I doubt he really means that, don’t you?

  • Are hamburgers really that difficult that we need the Big City Slider Station?

  • Would someone please explain to me why watching amateur video of people hurting themselves is funny?  I cringe and change the channel if I inadvertently tune into “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” but the show has been on the air for many years now.

  • Why does the Viking raider in the Capital One credit card commercial have a British accent?

Things I Know

  • The title “Things I Know” isn’t very original.  I checked Google and there were 958-thousand hits.  “Things I Want (Or Need) To Know,” is far more original.  Eight hits when I looked a few days ago!  This blog accounted for the first two and the third one linked to this blog!

  • I don’t know if the allegations contained in a law suit against NY Knick player Eddy Curry are true and he says they aren’t.  But in my opinion, the law suit itself doesn’t seem out of place among some of the other court cases involving people who work at Madison Square Garden in recent years.

  • If Natalie Dylan can sell something for $3.7 million that most people give away, we should put her in charge of economic recovery.  That woman could sell ice to penguins and penguins hardly ever carry any cash.

  • If you live in the New York Metropolitan Area and plan to talk to anyone in Canada about how cold it is here tonight, or tomorrow morning, 10 degrees Fahrenheit is about -12 Celsius and 0 degrees Fahrenheit is about -18 degrees Celsius.

  • Once, years ago, I was on a plane that landed off the runway at Byrd Field in Richmond, VA.  Talk about scary!  Therefore I can say with some authority that while nobody wants a plane crash, one that everyone survives, like today’s crash landing in the Hudson River off Manhattan, is a rare and beautiful thing.

  • Based on TV reports of today’s plane crash, if you make a forced landing in the Hudson River when the air temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit and you not only survive, but your cell phone still works, the only way you could do better is if the plane arrived safely and without incident at its destination–and your cell phone still worked.

  • The first $350 billion of TARP Bailout funds don’t seem to have done much of anything.  So, it appears we’re going to hand out another $350 billion really soon with still more in the pipeline.  Sometimes, in government, if beating a dead horse doesn’t work, beating two dead horses is the next thing they try.

Things I Know

  • Tonight was the world premiere of the Pay-Per-View event “Amy Fisher:  Nude and Exposed.”  I didn’t watch it.  I hope nobody watched it.  In case you don’t recognize the name, when she was 17, Amy was having an affair with a married man named Joey Buttafuoco and she shot his wife in the head.  the woman survived and Amy went to jail.  This country needs to return to a time when people became infamous, not famous, for doing terrible things.

  • Judging from published pictures of gowns worn by Hollywood actresses on the red carpet at the Golden Globe Awards, some of them may have misinterpreted the nature of the event based on its name.

  • In case you’re wondering, the url is taken.  It got a few links to law-related searches or law firms, but it looks like a place holder.  In other words, it appears to me someone thought of it and bought it In hopes of making some money by selling it to the next person who thought of it.

  • Before I saw anyone else make it into print, I wrote something about the poor public speaking skills of Caroline Kennedy.  But I didn’t print it at the time and it’s too late now to look original.  Most people are nervous when appearing in public.  I read once that more people are afraid of making a speech than of dying.  Death is, of course, inevitable.  Making a speech isn’t.

  • Vocalized pauses, um, er, ya know, etc., make you sound nervous, unsure, and maybe even evasive.  Silence while gathering your thoughts is much preferable.  In fact, you can use silence to your advantage.  Try this.  Ask someone a question.  When they’re finished with their answer, don’t say anything.  If the person who answered you is anything like average, it’ll only take about five seconds for them to start talking again to fill the awkward silence you created.

  • The first job of a politician is to get elected or reelected.  So name recognition is an important qualification for public office, one of the most important.  Therefore, regardless of her lack of public speaking skills, the Kennedy name alone makes Caroline someone Governor Patterson has to at least consider appointing to the US Senate.

  • I’m a radio geek.  I spent an hour the other day listening to the Jerry Williams radio show on WBBM in Chicago from sometime in 1967.  You can use the Internet to waste all the time there is; maybe more than that.

  • I could use a little global warming right now.  Based on watching the Weather Channel this morning, I’d be even happier to have some global warming by Friday.  At least the days are getting longer.

  • Baseball Spring Training starts on or about February 15th.  I like to think you can’t have Spring Training without Spring.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • I mean some of these things as jokes; this one is no laughing matter.  Bruce Pardo must have been terribly troubled and imbalanced to create that appalling Christmas massacre in California.  When someone is so disturbed they want to kill themselves and a bunch of other people, I’d hope they get psychiatric help, but whenever one of these things happen, I wonder why killing themselves isn’t enough for people like that. 

  • I’ve never bought anything from a TV infomercial, but I’ve often wondered if you call later, instead of calling right now, can you still get the special deal?

  • Why does it rain more on weekends?

  • Why does most windy weather happen when you have to put the garbage out, or after the light-weight can and the light-weight lid are separated from the heavier garbage?  There’s an idea for a product:  weights for plastic garbage cans and plastic-garbage-can lids.  I wonder if you could patent something like that, or if someone already has.

  • Getting up at the crack of dawn is overrated.  What’s wrong with bouncing out of bed at the crack of noon?

  • Instead of signing all the most expensive baseball players, why don’t the New York Yankees bail out General Motors?

  • Which is bigger, egantic or ginormous?

  • Takeru Kobayashi, the guy who made a name for himself by winning hot dog eating contests at Nathan’s of Coney Island, failed in an attempt to set a new world record for eating fruitcake.  I didn’t know fruitcake was edible, did you?

Reflections At New Years

New Years is a time for new beginnings.  It also causes me to reflect on old beginnings.  How many things have you done that left an indelible impression when you did them for the first time?

My mother took me to meet the kindergarten teacher at PS 77 in New York City.  The teacher’s name was Mrs. Green.  I told her I knew my ABC’s, could count to 100 and write my name, so she didn’t need to teach me a thing.  She told me to go sit down.  Maybe Mrs. Green did teach me a few things, but I remember two things she didn’t teach me.  Mrs. Green tried, but was unable to teach me to take a nap (a skill I had lost long before arriving at kindergarten) and she tried but was unable to teach me how to skip.  Yes, that’s right, I flunked skipping in kindergarten, but I made up for it with a vengeance in college. 

Graduating from high school is supposed to be one of life’s milestone events.  I remember very little about that day and most of my memories revolve around the girl I was dating at the time.  I can even describe what she wore that day, but not what I wore.  I remember a lot more about graduating from college.  I got a BA and an MPA the same day.  My sister got her MLS the same day I acquired my two degrees.

It was a cold, overcast day when my first driver’s license came in the mail.  The family car was parked in front of the house and I had to go from Syosset NY to Plainview NY.  With my newly minted driver’s license in my pocket, I walked.  The car wasn’t properly insured for me to drive it.  I had grey hair when I took my road test.  I was in dress rehearsals for a high school play.  The road test examiner asked me how old I was (17) but didn’t ask me to explain the grey hair, so I didn’t. 

I remember the first car I owned.  I know where I got it and roughly when, but I don’t remember driving it for the first time.  It must have been when I took it for a test drive, before I bought it.

My first airplane ride was from Tompkins County Airport in Ithaca NY to La Guardia in Queens.  The plane bounced three times when it landed. 

I don’t remember my first kiss with my first girlfriend.  I know who she was.  Her name was and probably still is Barbara and she lived across the street from my Godmother on Lorraine Ave., in Union, New Jersey.  I don’t remember why we broke up though and I think that’s strange. 

I do remember life’s other big break ups.  If my second girlfriend ever thinks about our break up, I’m sorry.  I was an inexperienced jerk.  I am a much more experienced jerk today. 

I remember taking a pretty girl named Judy on a date.  It was my first date with her but not my first date.  She shook my hand when I took her home.  I hadn’t even tried to kiss her, but she shook my hand!  She was the only girl I ever dated who did that.  I didn’t ask Judy out again. 

I don’t remember the first two times I met my wife, but she does.  She was not favorably impressed.  But, after many years together, I got her to stop teasing me about the first time.  I didn’t pay attention to my wife that time because we were introduced at the end of my senior year in high school by the sophomore girl I was dating at the time.  Sophomore, as you probably know, has Greek roots and basically means wise fool.  I didn’t try to “better-deal” my date at the time.  I wouldn’t try to “better-deal” my wife today either.  Frankly, I couldn’t possibly “better-deal” my wife.

I remember the third time we met–the first time I noticed.  I recall thinking at the time that subsequent meetings would be an extremely good idea.  I was right about that. 

Here’s the strangest thing.  I don’t remember the first time I kissed a girl, I remember the one girl I dated but didn’t kiss though.  I only remember the first time I kissed one girl:  my wife!  She was 17 at the time which is why I say girl and not woman.  I asked her once what I did to change her mind from being miffed at me for ignoring her in the past to dating me, kissing me and spending the rest of her life with me.  She doesn’t remember.