Thursday, September 27, 2012

Head(phones) In The Cloud

I resisted the Amazon Cloud Player. Somehow it seemed risky having music I paid good money for just floating around out there in the ether, but I realized that I don’t know how my computer or my phone work either, digitally speaking, so the music on them is just as mysterious and far away.

Now I can’t get enough of it. The downloads are shockingly fast. I’ve had no trouble with the player, and no problem streaming the audio. It’s been perfect. Plus, all the MP3 music I ever downloaded from Amazon transferred right back up to the cloud, poof, one click, no questions asked.

Listening to it now, I have the music listed by song title, rather than by album or artist, so I could hear all 414 songs in alphabetical order, were I so inclined. Cool.

Not counting 20 Years by The Civil Wars, I have All Of Me (The Piano Guys), All The Roadrunning (Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris), All Summer Long (The Beach Boys), American Girl (Tom Petty), An Empty Cup And A Broken Date (Buddy Holly), And I Love Her (Paul McCartney Unplugged), Angel (Simply Red), Angelina (Bacon Brothers), Another Guitar (The Rainmakers), and Anywhere Anytime (Sara Melson).

And that’s just the As….

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Whether Jesus Was Married Isn't As Interesting As How Hateful Some People Are On His Behalf

An apparently old piece of papyrus has helped resurrect the debate on whether Jesus was married, as it mentions Jesus referring to “my wife.” This isn’t so much a question of scriptural consistency or faith as it is simple logic. If one role of Jesus as savior is to suffer for us, then he surely was married, because marriage is the only way to know and understand true suffering. As Herb1038 said:
“… he was sent down to suffer pain, torture and humiliation – OF COURSE he was married.”
Of course, this is old news, and an unsolvable riddle. What fascinates me is the acrimony in the comments that follow the article, 1,421 of them at last count. They begin well enough, with thoughtful, well-reasoned opinions, but quickly degenerate into insulting vulgarity and name calling, as many Christians seem wont to do.
The most amusing comment came from TonyInDallas:
“Besides, if we can figure out when he got married, we can get not only Christmas and Good Friday off, we can get Jesus’ anniversary off.”

Sunday, September 23, 2012

10 Minutes Of Sunshine A Day Keeps The Doctor Away (I Have Graphs, So It Must Be True)

Okay. About 45 percent of Americans die from heart disease.
Nearly 42 percent of us are vitamin D deficient.

Of Americans who have heart failure, 96 percent are vitamin D deficient.


So you do the math. About half die of heart disease, close to half are vitamin D deficient, and almost all of those who have heart failure are vitamin D deficient.

Do you see a trend here? It may be worth looking at your vitamin D levels to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, among other things.
“Researchers found that patients with very low levels of Vitamin D were 77 percent more likely to die,” says Science Daily, “45 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease, and 78 percent were more likely to have a stroke than patients with normal levels.”
So, more than 40 percent of us are nearly 80 more likely to die, probably from a stroke, because we are not getting enough vitamin D.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information agrees (NCBI): “Given that vitamin D deficiency is linked to some of the important risk factors of leading causes of death in the United States, it is important that health professionals are aware of this connection and offer dietary and other intervention strategies to correct vitamin D deficiency.”
The good news is that this is something you can fix immediately. Just go outside in the sun for 10 minutes every day to get your vitamin D, says WebMD: “Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods -- including fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks.”
Walk in the sun and stoke up on omega-3s. Could it be any easier than that. Just don’t tell the FDA what you’re up to….

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Imagination May Be More Important Than Knowledge, But A Cool T-Shirt Is Better Than Both


One of my favorite quotations is from Albert Einstein:

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

My question is this: when and where did Einstein say it?
Okay, that’s two questions, I know, but the first person to comment with the correct answers will win this Einstein t-shirt, which has two sleeves.

A couple of other favorite quotations, from Groucho Marx, because I happen to be watching Duck Soup as I write this.

Beyond the Alps are more Alps, and the Lord Alps those who Alps themselves.”

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

If you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.”

And a bonus quotation:
Add another quote and make it a gallon.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Picture Is Worth What, Now, Exactly?

Doing some research on our car, I came across this ad for an aftermarket radio. What do you make of it?

Picture is for illustration purposes only.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Move Over, Dickens, Seuss, And O’Henry, There’s A New Holiday Classic In Town

If they can put Christmas decorations in the stores in September, then surely it isn’t too early to recommend a Christmas book. Christopher Moore's The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror is an original, a great read, imaginative and funny.
The story begins in sunny, warm California, the traditional setting for Christmas action. A little boy, shortcutting home through a stand of pine trees, sees an unhappy wife smack her husband, dressed as Santa, in the head with a shovel. Afraid to tell anyone, and afraid that Christmas is ruined, the boy is visited by the Archangel Raziel, sent to Earth following a string of botched assignments.

That’s enough set up. You will want to read it straight through, it is that good. I guarantee you will laugh, too. Ho ho ho.

Note: I just learned that The Stupidest Angel is available as a Kindle book for $1.99. Now there's a deal.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Big Time At Big Spring

My dad loved small, out of the way geological places in Missouri: Pickle Springs, Berryman Trail, Ha Ha Tonka, Pilot Knob. He wouldn’t stop for any of us to use the restroom when traveling, but he would stop to show us roadside markers or unusual rock formations or historic places or lookout towers.
One of his favorite places is Big Spring, just outside the funky little town of Van Buren. As part of the Ozark National Scenic Waterway, there are lots of float rivers nearby, and we spent a few weekends there when I was a teenager. I’ve taken my own children there many times over the years, and I always drive the extra four miles to see the spring when I drive on Highway 60.
I was fortunate to be able to go a couple of weekends ago, on my way to see my dad. I wish he could have been there.
Here are some of the pictures.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Help Beat Cardiovascular Mortality With Your Phone

Lots of research indicates that heart rate is a good indicator of an increased risk of heart disease, demonstrating a “link between heart rate and sudden death.” They say fewer than 64 beats per minute is good, and 80 beats per minute is a bad sign.
Thinking it is a good idea to know my own rate, especially when exercising, I bought a heart rate monitor, but it can sometimes be inconvenient to use. I was delighted to discover this iPhone app called Cardiograph, from MacroPinch, Ltd.

Somehow, all you have to do is hold a finger lightly against the camera lens on your phone, and it measures your heart rate, and draws it on a little chart, just like at the doctor’s office. I’ve found it to be pretty accurate compared with my other monitor.
It’s easy, convenient, and, well, hard to beat.
Let me know how it works for you....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How USA Today Headlines Are Deliberately Screwing With Your Head

Scanning the headlines on this page, USA Today, August 23, 2012, it is obvious that we are in serious economic decline. If you read the copy, however, that’s not the case. Why is it reported that way?
One snippet of the always fluid stock market shows a 30-point drop over a few hours. It was up to13,292 a few days later.
The 2000s were hard on the middle class in that 60 percent of those who left went up in income level, above $118,000. So apparently not just the rich get richer….
Placed under the middle class decline article, but above the fold, the impression is more doom, gloom, despair. But the article is about how the stock market has been within one point – one point – of matching the level it was before the “financial crisis” of 2008-09, and within 1,000 points of the all-time high. Which sounds like a full recovery to me, but not according to USA Today.
Yes, HP desktop sales are down, but only minimally, simply because we are less and less of a desktop world, as everyone knows. Apple picked up the slack, so wouldn’t that be a wash for the economy? As for the $8.9 billion reported loss, $8 billion of it was the result of HP buying another business, not slumping sales. Why would USA Today mislead us like that?

A non-story based on minutes from a meeting weeks earlier, back in July. The Fed isn’t going to step in, at least not before “late 2014,” so why scare us like this?



Monday, September 10, 2012

Mullaney, Taylor, And Pew: More Reasons Not To Trust USA Today And Other Measly Rags That Bash Successful Americans


If you read a headline that says “2000s hardest on middle class,” you’re going to assume that economics aren’t too good for millions of Americans classified as middle class. Right? Well….
That’s the approach USAToday takes in the August 23, 2012, article by Tim Mullaney. The first six paragraphs tell us how dismal the past decade was for those who used to do pretty well. Now, according to Mullaney, 29 percent of “middle class Americans say they are still cutting back and having a hard time paying their bills,” and “one in six reported trouble making rent or mortgage payments,” and “the middle class got smaller.”


Lacking a credible source, Mullaney quotes Paul Taylor, vice president of Pew Research, the company that conducted the poll. (My journalism instructor would have slapped us for such sloppy, lazy reporting.) Taylor says it is no longer true that middle class Americans enjoy “a rising standard of living,” and that this was the worst economic decade since World War II. To prove it, Pew says that only 51 percent of Americans are middle class, compared to 61 percent in the 1970s.

Well, that does indeed sound like bad news for the middle class. But let’s look at some of the numbers Mullaney, Taylor and Pew use, and some of the facts they seem to ignore.
Middle class is defined as households that earn between $39,000 and $118,000 per year. Having been in that group from time to time in the past 30 years, I suggest that most households sometimes have to cut back to pay the mortgage and bills. This isn’t news.


What is news, if Mullaney’s numbers are right, is that 5 of 6 middle class households report not having trouble paying rent/mortgage, and that 71 percent of middle class Americans are not cutting back. That sounds like prosperity to me, you know, the American Dream. That’s great news. Why isn’t that the headline?

If the middle class is shrinking, then Mullaney’s implication is that many thousands of households have become poor. It isn’t until the next to last paragraph that we learn that 60 percent of middle class households that left the classification – 3 of every 5 families – have earned enough income to be classified above the $118,000 standard. They have become rich.
That is also good news. Why is it reported as more tragedy for American families? What is the motivation behind this negativity?

Disclaimer: You and I know this was a rant, to expose one small manipulative technique disreputable media can use, but what you don’t know is that I am highly allergic to surveys. The sample in this survey was extremely small, only 1,140 people. And, those 1,140 people were adults “who said they are worse off.” The cherry pickers at Pew Research don’t say how many people claimed not to be worse off. Their answers were ignored.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Have Bill Cosby Himself Over For The Weekend


Bill Cosby is a very funny fellow (Right!) so why not top off your weekend fun with my favorite of his videos. Bill Cosby, Himself makes me laugh every time, especially as I get older and have more experience as a parent.
Choclolate cake for breakfast, mothers, dentist visits, brain damage, they all crack me up. You can watch all of it on Youtube, you can buy it on Amazon, or  you can do what I did. Kelly and I love thrifting at flea markets, and I always watched for dollar VHS tapes. We would find one or two, grab some sweet and sour chicken, then curl up on the couch to watch. I bought three copies of Himself, $1 each. So if you can’t find a copy, stop by and I’ll loan you one.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The First 60 Years Of Marriage Are The Hardest

My parents met late one night when my dad crawled into my mother’s bedroom window behind her older brother. The first thing she heard him say was “how old’s your sister?” It turns out she was just 14 and wanted nothing to do with this older guy from Minnesota. Two years later they were wed, September 1952.

My mom and dad had their 60th wedding anniversary this week. Mom made light of it, claiming that all you have to do is live long enough, but I know something of their long struggles to get along and to raise and provide for six sons. They both had roles in their relationship that didn’t always overlap or sync especially smoothly, but they made it work when they could, and waited it out when they couldn’t.

Most of my memories of them are fun, warm recollections of all the good times and laughter over the years. They are good people, and while maybe not perfect, they were perfect parents for me. I want as much as ever to do right by them, and make them proud of who I am and what I do.


Sadly, at times the good times are over shadowed by dad’s health. He had a series of strokes almost 12 years ago that left him unable to move and unable to communicate. He wasted away and often had pneumonia over a couple of years, but my mom nursed him through it all. She learned to do all his therapy because his caregivers were largely uncaring. Mom has learned exactly how to position dad in his bed with pillows and pads in exactly the right places so he is as comfortable as he can be. She has fought all his battles with the administrators, and won most of them.
She spends two hours with him every morning, making sure he is up and bathed. She comes back every day at lunch time to make sure he is put down for his nap. She comes back for five or six hours every night to just sit with him, then to make sure he is put to bed for the night. She never fails, and after a dozen years, it still breaks her heart to leave him for the night.


The staff threw a delightful party for them. There was a marriage reaffirmation ceremony and gifts, lots of food and a beautiful cake. There were balloons and 80s music. I was one of about 70 people who watched, family, friends, people in wheelchairs. It was nice.
I asked my brother Jeff what we did for their 50th anniversary, and he couldn’t remember anything. “We must be bad children,” he said. “Well,” I said, “we may be, so let’s make sure to do something for their 75th anniversary.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Labor Day Of Love

Our holiday weekend started with a trip to Mimi and Papa’s house for a Skype visit from Lucy. We got to spend 15 minutes with her and it was wonderful. She was so happy to see each of us. As we moved the laptop camera around to each person, she would squeal with delight and call out their names.

Unlike our unlucky friends who had to go boating or fishing or picnicking or to a baseball game or something dreadful like that, we got to spend 78 hours at the mall on Monday. Oh boy! It might have been less, but it seemed to make the long holiday weekend seem much, much longer.

One of the girls has a school dance coming up, and she has spent the past couple of weeks worrying about a dress and about who would ask her to go. She turned down one loser who asked by text message.

At the end of the night, she had her invitation – a balloon inside a balloon, tied to our front door. Interestingly, the boy put the surprise on a neighbor’s house by mistake, but luckily the neighbor knew her name and moved the invitation to our door. We didn’t settle on a dress, but at last, she had her prize.

And the other met up with an old friend….

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