Learning about amnesia from Mariano Rivera

From Hubpages:

A short memory is essential for staying sane. That’s what also helps Mariano Rivera (although his leg injury has him out of action for the year) keep mowing ’em down in his 40s.


“If you’ve got depression, your brain will continually yak yak yak at you, mixing part truth and full lie to remind you of what a complete ne’er-do-well you really are. Kind of like a nagging spouse, except you can’t divorce your brain.”

Check it out.




How will the Feds cut health care costs?

I just had to share this. And no, it’s not funny. Not when you consider I’ve been eligible for AARP for four years and am a year away from various senior citizens’ discounts everywhere.

My mom, who is older than I am (obviously!) sent this along via one of those Fw: emails, which I usually don’t mess with. But here it is.

Thanks, Mom. I think.

* * *

Just saying goodbye…

Description: cid:X.MA1.1325340346@aol.com
To help save the economy, the Government will announce
month that the Immigration Department will start
deporting seniors (instead of illegal’s) in order to lower
Social Security and Medicare costs.
Older people are easier to catch and will not
remember how to get back home.
I started to cry when I thought of you.
Then it dawned on me … oh, crap …
I’ll see you on the bus!


Stuck to the screen? You’re probably not alone

Wired says nine hours is the norm for how much time adults spend staring at electronic screens.

As a kid I was told that sitting to close to the TV would ruin my eyes. Something about the rays given off by the old picture tube, or maybe it was just adult propaganda. I was also told reading in dim light would also ruin my eyes.

Although I was never a big TV watcher and still am not — I have one that I’ve never turned on — my eyes are no great shakes. My distance vision has always been useless, and just recently got my first pair of old-man bifocals with the little slots at the bottom of the lenses. I was also told I have the beginnings of cataracts; no great shock given my age and family history. But it’s got to be the reading, right?

But for a non-TV watcher, I sure spend a lot of time staring at different electronic screens. In fact, I’m doing it now as I write this.

Source: PollPosition.com

I’m not alone here. I saw an article in ZDNet’s Between The Lines blog that tells how much time a person spends in front of a screen. According to this poll taken by the PollPosition website, more than half of Americans are parked in front of some screen up to six hours a day.

Now, that doesn’t really say much on the surface, and there’s a whole bunch of wiggle room in these numbers. But here’s a further breakdown:

  • 1-3 hours: 31 percent
  • 4-6 hours: 30 percent
  • 7-9 hours: 22 percent
  • 10 hours or more: 12 percent
  • Spend no time: 2 percent

Drilling down some:

  • Men were most likely to spend 4 to 6 hours in front of a screen at 34.1 percent, while more women (32.1 percent) spend 1 to 3 hours.
  • More democrats spend 4 to 6 hours (31 percent), while most Republicans (38.4 percent) spend 1 to 3 hours.

Whatever it is, that’s a lot of screen time.

Keep in mind, the operative phrase here is any screen. This includes the big-screen TV, the desktop computer, the laptop, the cell phone, the e-book reader, and my cool new Android phone. The quality of the information on the screen isn’t the issue here (reading Plato’s Republic on the Nook counts the same as watching an eager-beaver nudie flick on cable), and it doesn’t even matter whether you’re being productive or turning into a drooling couch potato. Screen time is screen time here.

What gets confusing is that another study, cited in a 2009 story in the New York Times, calls 8.5 hours the daily average screen time per adult. And both Social Times and Wired say nine hours is the norm, though they both quoted the Times piece.

Of course, 88.3 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot. I know this because I just made that one up.

When I read this, I felt the need to take a little personal inventory. I have a number of devices with video screens: An ancient desktop computer I use for writing, a small Acer netbook that I’m using now, the Android, and the Psion Teklogix I use at my day job. But in the course of my day:

  • Waking up: 0.5 hours on the Android, checking my email and agenda on the Android.
  • Morning writing session: About 1 hour on the desktop.
  • Commute: 0.5 hours, reading the news on the Android while riding the bus.
  • Work: 6 hours on the Psion when it’s busy. When it’s not, I’ll break out the netbook and do some research, more writing, or post this blog. The boss doesn’t mind, because my nature is to take care of business first. But busy or not, that screen time is pretty constant.
  • After work: 2 hours, writing and researching on the netbook and wifi signal at the college library. This is really my most productive time.
  • At home: 2 hours, either at the desktop or the Android. I try to shut things down at 9 p.m., but it doesn’t always work that way. I’ll read for an hour after dinner, and while it’s usually a real book it could be an ebook on the Android.

Total: At least 12 hours. Per. Day.


So no, those red lines criscrossing my eyeballs at 9 p.m. are not I-40 and I-26, but it sometimes looks that way.

I try to give all this stuff a rest on weekends. I’ll spend a few hours writing on Saturday, and nothing more than a little lightweight editing and news reading on Sunday. I know it’s good practice to shut the electronics down for one day a week — a Sabbath, if you will. I’m deeply envious of those who can disconnect from that electronic teat for 24 hours without going into withdrawals.

Again, I’m not the only one who lives in front of a screen. What about those cubicle dwellers who live in front of the office PC and need a weather program to let them know if the sun is shining outside?




Air show: Not the same old base

I love air shows, and I was seriously considering going to the one at the Charleston Air Force Base Saturday.

Thought about it, but I believe I’ll pass.

You know it’s not the same old air force base, not with post-9/11 Homeland Security being a fact of life. You can’t just go onto the base without a search.

I got this from the Air Expo website, and this gives me an idea of what to expect:

Prohibited items include:

  • Coolers
  • Backpacks
  • Gym Bags
  • Glass Bottles
  • Alcohol
  • Knives
  • Fire Arms
  • Car alarms must be disabled for the duration of the air show

Again, not the same old base.

Back in my pre-9/11 taxi driving days, I used to cut through the base as a shortcut. Make up a name at the gate, and no one was the wiser. “I’m here to pick up Airman Mingus and Lt. Coltrane,” I used to say, and no one minded.

Now, without military ID you can’t even go on that base.

OK. Fact of life.

Executive decision: I’m going to watch it from the convenience of my front yard. This is the one time I consider myself lucky to live underneath a landing approach pattern.


Blogging: Everyone’s doin’ it doin’ it

This blogging is a very cool thing, and it’s too bad I’ve been so slack at it.
What’s so great about blogging is that you can make anything you want of it.
Many folks use blogging tools to keep a personal journal, to tell all the things they’ve been doing all day. Others use it to unload some screed about a particular subject matter — in my case I’ll use this space to slap around some politician or give my take on the news. If you’re interested in anything at all, that’s a reason to blog.
I’m an ardent journal keeper. Have been for years. If I’m wrestling with a personal decision or just plain bothered about something, I’ll write about it. But I’m old school; my first preference for a journal is an actual bound book, written in ink. It worked for all the great writers, so who am I to buck that trend?
My pen-and-ink journal is a thing of beauty. Some of it is neatly done, with all words carefully measured. Other times the entries are scrawled, with an odd disconnectedness about what is written. Sometimes there’s a lot of free association involved with journaling, and it’s like, well, like I just hurled all over the page (why do you think they call it catharsis?). I’m also a list-keeper, an outliner and a mind-mapper, so my bound journal has all of these things.
But there’s a lot to be said for blogging. Unlike a private journal, this stuff is public. Maybe I need to air an idea for feedback. Maybe I need to start discussion. Or maybe I just feel like being controversial. That’s OK, too.
Right now I have several blogs, and all have a specific purpose. My regular blog (The Column Reloaded) is sort of a catch-all, with a bit of everything. I also have The Jam Session Reloaded, which has my musical musings, and a tech blog called The Workbench Reloaded. In truth I haven’t done much with these lately; I wrote the last Workbench entry Feb. 1, and have been slack about writing for the others.
In addition I have another political blog through The Examiner, another I haven’t done anything with. I’m undecided whether I want to continue with it. I also have my HubPages site, which is where I keep some of my better writing. Of the lot, I probably have the most fun with HubPages.
If you want to consider blogging forms, you’d have to add Twitter. I tweet a few times a day, and I find it rather addictive. I can tweet directly from my cell phone, and I can post fast thoughts from anywhere. Twitter’s interesting; there is a horrendous signal-to-noise ratio and you need some industrial-strength third-party tools to sift through the chaotic mess that is Twitter.
And yeah, there’s a lot of mundane in Twitter. Like the one from a friend:
“Breakfast blend too tame to crank engine; need me some emeril big easy xtra bold or jet fuel.”
OK, being a coffee junkie myself (just a pinch between your cheek and gum) I can relate to this, but many people can’t. But I contribute my share of the mundane to Twitter:
“Thought about calling in dead @ work, but it’s payday. Dead men cash no checks.”
Which may be important to me, but in the final analysis, who really gives a rip? I tell you what, the Internet is the world’s biggest garbage dump.
I mention all this because my older brother, Rick, got bitten by the blog bug. He’ll be a natural at this — like everyone else in my family he has a wide range of interests and opinions aplenty about all these interests.
He just published his first post; his 19-year-old son Michael had a horrific car wreck and stepped out of his crushed Crown Vic.
Off Rick’s description of the accident it’s amazing Michael came out with little more than a few scratches. I’d seen my share of car wrecks, and I can tell you that hitting a utility pole at even 40 mph (and Michael was probably driving twice that speed) is the kind of collision that usually leaves no survivors. Rick is pretty unabashed here; he credits Michael’s survival to divine intervention and seat belts. Knowing a little something about the power of both, he’ll get no argument from me. It’s now a question of whether Michael “gets it” after such a close call, but time will tell.
Rick promises his blog won’t be that dramatic most of the time (which is a good thing because no father needs that much drama in his life) but he’ll have — like this blog here — a little bit of everything. In other words, the stuff of a good blog.
Take a look, if you haven’t already. And if you like it, subscribe. Feel free to comment.Link to it. He won’t mind.
Welcome to blogland, Rick. We were expecting you.

Website breaks down the In-N-Out secret

This is one of the things I miss from out west — In-N-Out burgers.
I got this from Lifehacker:

Make Your Own In-N-Out Double-Double Burger at Home [Recipes]: “

You already know how to make your own Shake Shack burgers, but if In-N-Out is more your style, food blog Serious Eats has once again reverse engineered this well-known burger so you can make it at home. More »

I fell in love with In-N-Out burgers in California, but only after laughing my (_|_) off at the name first. Two double burgers and a chocolate shake — now, that was the perfect meal when I was on a heavy deadline.
Sonic makes some really good burgers; I discovered them in Kingman, Arizona. There’s a Sonic a couple of miles from my house, but they can’t touch In-N-out.
How good are these In-N-Out burgers?
I’ll tell you. When I lived in Arizona, the closest In-N-Out place was in Las Vegas, 100 miles away. And I made the trip a time or two, just for burgers.
I repeat that: Just for burgers. Not even playing a slot machine, or to hear a band, or visit, or anything like that. I just wanted burgers.
People still don’t believe me when I tell them that. (I wonder which part won’t they believe?)

No 5-Second Rule in my kitchen

I saw this in The Consumerist, and it kind of rang a bell.
I’m a little funny about my food. While I’ll eat just about anything, my food has to pass some strict decontamination tests. Hairs or unidentifiable black specks make it instantly inedible in my book, and I’m usually going to pitch it. I can’t even be bothered with trying to pick the substance off; it’s going out. I’d thoroughly inspect my food before eating it (as a kid I often heard Dad’s “don’t analyze it, eat it”), and I’ve considered washing the food like a raccoon or something.
Hey, you never know what those black specks are.
Fly ash from somewhere? Roach turds? Something … ugh … living?
I don’t know, and I’m not about to give it the taste test.
But some of my friends adhere to the five-second rule. It’s like catching food on the first bounce; allegedly it’s still good to eat. They’ll drop something, call out “five-second rule,” and pick it up. This five-second rule is somewhat elastic, kind of like the “long count” in the Tunney-Dempsey fight back in 1927. Do you start the count immediately after impact, after the food finally stops moving, or after everyone else retreats into a neutral corner?
So I felt a little … what, vindicated? … when I read this article.

Do You Follow The 5-Second Rule?:

We’ve all dropped that freshly buttered piece of golden brown toast on the floor, yes? And many of us have contemplated whether or not to just pick it up and eat it. That’s why there’s the 5-Second Rule, the completely unscientific belief that food left on the floor for less than five seconds is sufficiently ick-free. But scientists at Clemson are trying to call BS on one of western society’s core beliefs.

Says Paul Dawson, a food scientist at the food science and human nutrition department at Clemson University, where he and his team of students tested the Rule:

In the case of the five-second-rule we found that bacteria was transferred from tabletops and floors to the food within five seconds, that is the five second rule is not an accurate guide when it comes to eating food that has fallen on the floor.

But can science change your mind on this?

That’s why we’re conducting this incredibly unscientific poll:

Do You Follow the 5-Second Rule?online survey

Sadly, the ‘five-second rule’ is not really safe [Houston Chronicle]


Getting interviewed by the Census Bureau

The Census Bureau is still at it, and I don’t think they believed me the first time.

Got a visit from some guy wielding a clipboard a few minutes ago. He’s with the Census Department’s quality control division, doing a little spot-checking.

“I sent mine in,” I reminded him. “The Bureau sent me two forms so I almost sent in two.”

Turns out “something happened” to the form I sent in, he told me. Yeah, I know exactly what happened to it. I sent it in with just the information that was needed under the Constitution, i.e. address and number of people living in my place. The rest was left blank. Understand, the Census is a head count; nothing more.

As a result, I earned an interview with the Census folks. This guy is probably a little younger than me, black guy with splashes of gray in his dreadlocks. Nice enough, but a bit nervous.

He asked me my address. Is this the correct one? I said yes.

He asked my name. I gave it to him, and told him it was just hearsay.

He asked my age. With a totally straight face and no shame whatsoever, I said I was 29. When he started to write that in, I told him the truth — 52.

“Male or female? … well, obviously,” he said as he wrote this down.

“Race?” he wanted to know.

Now, that’s a sticking point with me. That is really no one’s business. If you fill out a job application, they can’t ask for your race. Even including a picture of yourself in your job resume is a no-no because of the race angle. And, whether anyone will admit it or not, race does determine how much government money goes where.

But considering the U.S. Census is an official government function and it’s not smart to tweak the noses of the Feds, I gave him my answer.


Hopefully, this will end my involvement with Census 2010.



Drugs do the darnedest things

I already knew I live in a strange neighborhood; I just didn’t realize how strange.

I’m in my home office this afternoon when I hear noises outside the trailer. I didn’t think much of it as long as nobody’s trying to get in, so I continue work.

More noises. Louder. From my kitchen. So I go and check it out.

Since it’s been so hot lately I’ve been keeping my kitchen window open above my sink. And someone’s reaching through the window.

It’s a young woman, and she’s stoned out of her gourd. And she’s washing the dishes in my sink, from outside.

It turned out she also watered my plants outside, neatened up my porch, things like that. I really don’t think she meant anything wrong; it’s just one of those who-knows-what, drug-induced things. 

No harm, no foul, but … strange.

I confronted her, more questioning than angry. Must have scared her off; she tottered away. I probably should have waited until she finished the dishes. Good help is hard to find these days.