Sunday, June 29, 2008

WWAAD (What Would Alan Alda Do?)

Today at church, we had a Korean pastor. He took his text from the book of Ezra. He talked about how hard it was for the Israelites to decide to return to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile. Most of the people with the chance to "return" had never been there in the first place and had no memory of it. To illustrate that point, he told us that the Korean War ended 55 years ago, and 40% of South Korean children think the war was between Korea and Japan. When Karen heard that, she was shocked. "They've never seen M.A.S.H.?"

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Great Movie, But the Review Gets a Thumbs Down

We went to WALL-E on Saturday. All the critics loved it. It has Christian themes of relationships and perseverance and warnings about self indulgence. So, don't I look shallow that I found the lack of dialogue kind of, you know, boring. Not as boring as Fantasia, that just wouldn't end, but kind of slow.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably add I thought ET was overrated, and even though Citizen Kane was groundbreaking in its camera work and storytelling, I thought it was kind of boring, too. So when it comes to movies, I guess I'm like the guy in the old joke who said the radio was wrong, "There's not one car going the wrong way on the freeway, there are hundreds."

More From the Anchorage Daily News About the Exxon Valdez Punitive Damage Award. Not Mentioned: Exxon CEO Retired With $400 Million Package


For Exxon, delay was rewarding

$5 billion -- Amount the jury said Exxon should pay in punitive damages for its Alaska oil spill.

14 -- Years Exxon spent appealing the case before it was finally resolved.

50% -- Reduction in the jury award that Exxon won from the federal appeals court.

90% -- Reduction in the jury award that Exxon won from the U.S. Supreme Court.

$110 million -- Amount of the final award Exxon will pay to itself, thanks to a once-secret settlement of other spill claims with Seattle seafood processors.

1 year -- Time it would have taken Exxon to earn enough profit to cover the $5 billion award when it was handed down in 1994.

5 days -- Time it will take Exxon to earn enough profit to cover the final award set by the Supreme Court.

5.9% -- Annual interest rate Exxon will pay on the award covering the 14 years of appeals.

12% -- Minimum annual amount Exxon earned as it held onto the money due Alaskans during those 14 years.

$40 billion -- Exxon's profits in 2007.

Friday, June 27, 2008

So, This Is Their Idea of Courtesy

I got such a good offer from AARP recently to transfer a credit card balance to their Chase affiliate, that I did. Here's an aside, I never expected to live long enough to join AARP, and here's another, once I didn't have a house or car payment, I didn't expect to have a credit card balance.
Anyhoo, I signed up for paperless billing, and I never got a bill, paperless or otherwise. Checking their website, the statement dates were "Unavailable". I made two payments, and when I went to make the third, I noticed that I owed more than I had the month before on this interest free balance. It turns out that I was late and they had charged me $35.00.
I double checked my e-mail including the trash folder, and they really never had sent me a statement. I called them this morning and their customer rep told me they could make an adjustment as a courtesy, but that they would never ever do it again.
I bought airline tickets today, too. Also irritating.
But then we went for a 40 mile bike ride scoping out the route for our century, and that was pretty cool. I had a new water bottle and a hydrating pack from father's day, so I was very well hydrated which is sort of unusual for me. Then, at Costco I had a sample of zipfizz, and now I have 22,000% of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin B-12 coursing through my urine.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Where Would Dusty Springfield and Sting Stay If They Were On the Road

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind
I was looking further into the uses of the word portmanteau. It has two meanings, a word made up of two other words, or, a suitcase. One of the examples that Google gives is "motel" made up of the words, motor and hotel. A motel, is a portmanteau that you can take a portmanteau into.

Exxon Oil Spill Punitive Damages Award Cut in Half, and Then By Another 80%, Outrageous Factoid and Then One Judge's Dissent

The biggest single recipient of funds from the punitive award will be Exxon itself. Exxon stands to put about $110 million from the award in its own pocket thanks to a side deal cut in 1991 with seven Seattle fish processors. Those processors settled with Exxon for $70 million at the time but got to remain in the punitive lawsuit and pass any award they received back to the company. The deal was called "an astonishing ruse" by the federal judge in the case, but it was upheld on appeal.

"In light of Exxon's decision to permit a lapsed alcoholic to command a supertanker carrying tens of millions of gallons of crude oil through the treacherous waters of Prince William Sound, thereby endangering all of the individuals who depended upon the sound for their livelihoods, the jury could reasonably have given expression to its 'moral condemnation' of Exxon's conduct in the form of this award." Justice John Paul Stevens ~From the Anchorage Daily News 6/26/08

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Three Little Things

Et tu, Mr. Li?
According to this month's Wired magazine, English has become the lingua franca of this age, a modern day Latin, if you will. And like Latin before it, it is evolving into distinct dialects that may in time become languages in their own right. So, it's not enough that I don't know Chinese, now I don't know Chinglish* either.

They Make Me Blue
I got a letter from Blue Cross today. Normally they would be writing to tell me they weren't going to pay for something, but today they were writing to suggest that if I needed medical advice I should call them. Examples were interpretations of test results, or what to do if you were badly cut. I suggest that the last group I'm going to call for medical advice is the group that doesn't want pay for any treatments. I can just imagine their interpretation of test results, "Looks good, don't worry."

And Finally...
For Firefox users, I've been using Hyperwords. Every word is clickable. I think you should try it. I really do.

*Chinglish (slang) is a portmanteau of the words Chinese and English and refers to either (a) English interspersed with Chinese language errors

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This May Not Be Short, Direct, and Memorable, but I'm Feeling Kind of Pithy

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

According to the Atlantic Monthly this month, our ability to think at all is being replaced by the internet's easy access to a veneer of erudition and the pithy quote.
I finally had my preliminary consultation with my supervisor about my route. It looks like it will be longer. You can imagine how that made me feel.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Form 1840 Consultation, Ha Ha, Still Just Kidding

I still haven't heard anything about their plans for my route. I think almost everyone else has had their consultation which confirms what I've always believed; no one cares what I think.
Today I called someone at church a suck-up because she was telling the pastor how moving the sermon was, and citing examples of things he'd said.
She told me that she didn't let her kids use the word "suck-up" in their house. "Ha," I said, "this isn't your house, this is church!"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ooh,ooh love hurts, Ooh.ooh love hurts, Ooh,ooh love hurts...

Without a lot of background, some things you can close your eyes to, and some things you can't. If you think you have a bogeyman under your bed, you can close your eyes. If your bed's on fire you can't.
A young woman was telling me today that roses were not a good symbol of love. They're demanding, they fade, and the thorns are painful. Potatoes, she thought were more appropriate. I think she's just wrong. Start with the way roses are open and beautiful, and potatoes are skulking furtively underground.
She said you can leave potatoes in the dark, and come back months later, and they'll still be good for you. In the first place leaving something in the dark for months isn't love, that's kidnapping. But if the potato is loyal, that's not love, either. The potato represents Golden Retrievers.

Friday, June 20, 2008

If You're a Druid, Today's Your Big Day

The Anchorage Daily News ran a story today, the longest day of the year, headlined, "Days Turn the Corner To Darkness".
McClatchy recently announced they were laying off 14oo people, including 35 from the News here in Anchorage. Apparently, if they're sad, we all have to be sad. The story also pointed out that this is almost the latest in the year we've gone without without getting above 70°.
Really, though, people rarely move to Anchorage for the heat. Nope, our catchphrase, and this is almost true, is, "It's cold, but it's a dry cold."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Well, Of Course, I Wouldn't Know, But on the Other Hand, It's Almost Bedtime and I Still Don't Have a Post

I received a long crude Harley Davidson joke in my e-mail today from a fellow Hardly Davidson. It made me think about the self-deprecating impulse that caused us to choose that name. Is mocking ourselves a way to forestall others from mocking us? Does it show that we're in on the joke, and we know we're not cool anymore? Ha, that's another joke; some of us were never all that cool to begin with.
Or, are we really so insanely secure that in mocking ourselves we're really mocking everybody else that doesn't see it?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

View From the Top

When I was in junior high, my friend Richard and I were at the library when a bully started picking on him. Richard was huge, but he didn't want any trouble. Later, at school, the bully, David Watts-who has a much smaller criminal record than I expected-and his friends were making fun of Richard. Richard got off the bus with Watts, and beat him to a pulp.

Today after work, I rode back to Main Tree St, which is a street in the same sense that Niagara Falls is a stream, and rode up it to the top. It's much easier when you're not in the middle of a gluttonous binge. The girlish whimpering on the way down is still pretty annoying, though.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"I Saw a Deadhead Sticker on a Cadillac"

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
I saw a car today with two bumper stickers. One said, "My dog is smarter than your honor student." and another one that said, "My child is an honor student at Central Middle School"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Weak, The Sick, The Old: They Make Easy Prey, But Now That I've Read This Post, I Realize They Don't Always Make Up Funny Stories About It

We planned a bicycle ride today. It was billed as a hard workout even though I explained that I'd be overeating for the weekend of Father's Day, which would make me slow, and paying bills which would make me sad. We had a nice gentle ride up the Hillside, to a steep hill. I was first up that, and second up the next, that was like riding up an elevator shaft. At the top of that one, while the others discussed where we should go next, I slumped over my handlebars thinking that if I threw up, I wanted to be sure and not do it in my helmet. I told them I didn't care where we went, as long as it was downhill. We did go downhill briefly, then a left turn. I missed the light so I jumped onto the bike trail next to the road, while my friends rode up the road. Because I was on the trail, and because I wasn't fully recovered from the earlier hill, they quickly got ahead of me. As I straggled past a house they had passed before me, a small black dog ran down the driveway barking at me, and then followed me, yipping, for blocks while I tried to catch up with my friends. When I finally got to where they were waiting for me, they formed a protective circle like caribou with their young, and the dog ran after easier prey, a jogger in this case.
While they discussed where they wanted to go next, a small portion of the sky, right above Rich''s flashing strobe headlight started to whirl in time with it. They rode off again, while I struggled to get up on my bike. When I caught up with them again, where they were waiting for me, again, I told them I had maybe twenty minutes before my migraine kicked in. I told them I'd be fine riding home by myself, but true friends they escorted me home.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mythic Mailman

Our boisterous mailman returned this morning. I don't care what he says, I just don't believe that every person and thing has Oedipal issues.

Friday, June 13, 2008

My, How You've Grown Up, Where's That Goofy Grin

Today my projected return time was once again 2:53. I was pretty cool this time, though. "Two fifty three," I said, savoring the sound of it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Chasing the Light Cord Back to the Wall"

I have a customer who moved into a house on my route that didn't have a mailbox. When mail started arriving for them, I knocked on the door and said, "Hi, Mr. -----, welcome to the neighborhood, put up a mailbox." He told me they didn't get mail at that address. I pointed out that we'd never met, but I knew his name, so obviously someone didn't get the message about the mail. I told him that if he didn't want to get mail there, he should turn in a change of address form to the address where he did want to get mail so I could forward it to him. He told me again that they didn't get mail at that address. Since then, I've just been killing their mail. I'm not going to care more about it than they do.
I've started reading Apathy, again, a book about a man who doesn't care about anything. There was a hiatus because someone had unplugged my bedside lamp. The reviewers aren't wild about it. They're like the boys in the Sultans of Swing that don't like the band because, "It's not what they call rock and roll." Apparently it's not what they call absurd.
Speaking of books, David Sedaris has gotten some flack recently because sometimes when he's telling a story, he exaggerates. I think that happens sometimes. For all we know, maybe the cyclops was just squinting. Do you think it means anything that this is the second time I've mentioned the cyclops in the last couple of years? Me neither.

Shop Talk

The other day, my friend Rich, who delivers mail in Spenard, mentioned, just in passing, not even really apropos of anything, that his worthless T* had bid out of the station because a parcel post route had opened up at the Main Post Office.
It never even crossed my mind that this bit of news would mean anything to me other than how nice it would be for Rich to have somebody competent carrying his route on his day off. But this morning I found out that the carrier leaving the parcel post route had left our station a few months ago for the greener pastures of parcel post. But now he's coming back. I'm not the kind of guy who would ever talk bad about another person, but he laughs more than any unhappy person I've ever met. And not just some decorous little simper, either. It's like a jackhammer heard a joke, and my head is just dainty and resonant enough to shatter. And then he laughs ha ha ha, and then ha, ha, ha, and then some poorly chosen obscenities, and then ha, ha, ha. hah, hah, ha, ha. Pretty annoying, huh? Now imagine it at a hundred and five million decibels, for 8000 hours straight.
Luckily, Zoloft and noise canceling technology working together have made me an amiable member of the Get Along Gang, so it's all good. lol, ha, ha, ha, ha

*T for carrier technician, the person who carries a route on the regular's day off

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ride to the River, Fall to the Trail, Fly into a Fury

Today I rode with some hard core Hardly Davidsons out to Eagle River. We wanted to see how to access the trail that runs along the Glenn Highway from there towards Palmer. There are three ways to access it from the point we first found it. You can ride down a steep hill to it, you can carry your bike down the hill, or you can do what I did which was to ride the first bit, and then fall the rest of the way. Apparently, even though padded bike shorts look really stylish, they can get caught on the bike seat and cause you to lose your balance. I wasn't hurt, although my dignity was sort of injured, or at least as much dignity as I had in the first place while wearing padded spandex shorts. Luckily, we found, there is a way to the trail that doesn't involve those kind of antics, or any kind of antics really.
This afternoon, Karen was reading an article in one of her nursing magazines about pain. Her pain doctor has begun to suspect that she's using her meds for other than pain management. The article said that doctors and nurses were just awful at guessing how much pain their patients were in. The article gave a long list of signs that patients might be abusing their drugs. Karen has not done any of them. Everything, every thing, about her health care is just so infuriating.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Form 1840 Consultation, Ha Ha, Just Kidding

I got called into the station manager's office today. He told me that during the recent inspections I had performed efficiently and professionally. He thanked me, shook my hand, and told me that the consultations on route adjustments would begin later this week. I said, "But I'm here, now."
That's not how we do things at the PO.

"Let Me Not To The Marriage Of True Minds Admit Impediments", "Autres Temps, Autres Moeurs"

After work on Saturday we went to a wedding reception for the little boy who grew up down the street. It wasn't always obvious that he would find true love since he seemed to invest so much of his emotional capital in engines.
Finally he found a NASCAR-watching, oil changing mama, and it wrenched his world (unless I think of a spark plug or tune-up metaphor in the next few minutes).
His brother gave the first toast at the reception and then the maid of honor stood up and wished that their "love run as smoothly as a Chevy big block."

Monday, June 09, 2008

These Items Just Would Not Turn Into a Post

Yesterday, Rich and I went for a 30 mile bike ride to prepare for our Century on August 9th. We rode 1400 feet up DeArmoun Rd. We saw a couple of moose. They'd had a better idea on how to get to the top; be born there. I just bet that if I was a pastor given that kind of a lead-in, I could turn it into a sermon, but in this case, I was more like a congregant, since right after typing that, I fell asleep. Oh, I don't think I told you, but last week on the TDC, we saw a cow moose that was laying next to her new-born calf. By the way, don't bother telling me the cow was lying next to her calf. I've listened to the Grammar Girl episode about lay/lie and it makes no sense. I don't play favorites I just use whichever one is closest.
Did Rush Limbaugh, really say that decorated war hero, John McCain, isn't a man? What a jerk; what a drug abusing, draft dodging jerk.
I was just checking a site in Cambridge, MA that gives the rules for outlining to see if I had to come up with a third item, or if I could just let this sad little post go. People from all over the world have accessed the site. They have little flags representing each country, including someone from Red Sox Nation.

Friday, June 06, 2008

When I Say "Hu" You Say "Bris"

Okay, that title totally doesn't work because it sounds like an invitation to a Chinese circumcision, when in fact, it's supposed to lead into a post about me trying to organize a Century (100 miles for the non-cognoscenti) ride. It's sheer madness to suppose I have anything like the stamina or skill to organize anything this complicated.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Don't Tread on Me

When I bought my bike last summer, it came with thin tires on it. For the ride on Sunday, I used really skinny tires. Now that I've put the original tires back on, they look like mutants that would lumber through Tokyo as the Japanese Air Force ineffectually shot tire levers at them.

Monday, June 02, 2008

"You Can't Be Too Rich Or Too Thin" Turns Out To Be Only Half Right

You know that song by the Black Eyed Peas where they sing "transmit hits with no dilution"? Well, it's possible you don't know it because who knows if that's really what they're sayng? Do they really say, "Let's get ignant, let's get heptic"? We could all go over to and try and figure it out, but either you already know, or, you're like me, and you're wondering what that could possibly have to do with this post.
Yesterday, as you may know, I rode 100K on my skinniest tires. Because they're not only skinny, but really high pressure, they sent every little bump in the road directly into me. In fact, it was so heptic that tomorrow I'm going to put the other tires back on.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Leader of the Pack Rang Out, Especially That Really Good Part, "Look out, look out, look out!"

I finished this year's 100K Tour de Cure a few hours ago. Now, I'm relaxing and overeating. This year was much easier than last year. The bike I got last summer made a huge difference. Our team was the Hardly Davidsons again, but this year we had team t-shirts. I downloaded some motorcyle songs, and rubber-banded my iPod to my radio alarm clock so we could get in the mood.
I'll probably have some pictures later. I'll post them if I don't look to geeky. Except...I just reread the sentence about the iPod.