Sunday, February 22, 2009

C.R.A.P. Sunday - Bonzo's Ladder

Catch-up Rants And Platitudes - #4 - surreal images

So I burned up a couple of days of my temporary bachelorhood by heading out to my folks' place, near Rockford, IL. As if that concept - willingly subjecting myself to them without the safety and shelter of my spouse - wasn't surreal enough, I went that extra mile and even brought laundry with. Hey, machines that don't gulp down your coins in order to operate - I'll take 'em!!

The drive out there takes you somewhat nearby a nuclear power facility, assumedly at Byron, IL. My eye is always caught by the quite distinctive cooling towers, all the more dramatically due to the inherently frightening nature of nuclear energy. Apparently Illinois is the state with the most nuclear facilities - and I don't think we're glowing, yet. I'm just fascinated with the steam you can usually see rising from the cooling towers.

On the drive over from Chicago this time, I noticed some particularly prominent contrails, which my wife and I incorrectly refer to as "chemtrails" - we're not conspiracy nuts, we got the name mixed up. Again, a fascinating visual phenomenon, very eye-catching at times.

The surreal aspect was seeing a quite distinctive pair of contrails heading downward from the sky, DIRECTLY AIMED AT the cooling towers. My cell phone was (as usual when traveling, since I never broke down to buy a car charger for this model) on "low battery" mode and refusing to take pictures, otherwise I would have documented this for the sheer amazement of it. Of course, given that I was driving alone, in a moving vehicle going 65 mph, if I HAD managed to snap a photo it would have looked like this:

But below is a mini recreation of what I saw ... now tell me that seeing this combo in real life wouldn't make you triple-take?

Granted, there was no plane at the business-end of the contrails, the cooling towers were still intact, and there was no mushroom cloud in sight - but I still had trouble extracting my jaw from the dashboard.

Once I arrived, I gladly accepted the offer of a drink and promptly forgot to mention the sighting to my folks. Alcohol flows pretty freely when I visit with them - I probably drink more in one night with them than I would normally consume in a typical month on my own. This is not to say that I (or they) require the substance to interact humanely ... it has just become a ritual habit we have not "grown out of" yet. This is only the case when I am participating in an overnight, of course. Although I am guilty of having driven while "buzzed" in my youth, I would never intentionally drive while drunk.

It is quite frustrating, then, to hear all these news stories about celebrities convicted of DUIs. Celebretards aside, it is really frustrating to hear all the incidents of everyday people having accidents attributed to driving under the influence. The fiercely aggravating stories are about all these REPEAT OFFENDERS who have had multiple incidents of being caught driving under the influence. It's one thing to make a stupid mistake once. It's wholly idiotic to be in the position of many of these drivers who continue to drive after drinking - even despite tragic incidents in their past.

Some judges have stepped up the "punishments" for these people, and apparently many participate in an ignition lock system that requires a clean breathalyzer test before they can start their car. Sounds reasonable enough, although easily overcome - think of the scene in the movie 40 Year Old Virgin when the chick asks him to "breathe into this" before she starts her car.

Then there is this idiot, who rented a car to avoid his breath analyzer ignition lock, and then wrapped the rental car around a pole. GIVE ME A BREAK! Rental car companies are supposed to be so cautious - not renting to "kids" under 25 years old, supposedly doing background checks and denying people left and right for *seat belt violations*, let alone DUI. Somebody screwed up in a big way letting this guy have a car.

If nothing else, perhaps rental car companies should also provide vehicles prepared for this unfortunately numerous portion of the population, with breathalyzer ignition locks. Hell, if they are not going to bother with background checks, it should come standard. Or maybe you can get a free "upgrade" to a model WITHOUT one if you have a clean driving record?

Ok, enough for now. Hey - a whole blog without mentioning Burris. Whoo-hoo! I need a drink....

Anyone get the title reference?
Pictures ripped off as follows: byron.jpg and contrail2.jpg borrowed from wikipedia pages. Others found on google image searches.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

C.R.A.P. Sunday - Bachelor edition

Catch-up Rants And Platitudes - #3

It was a SHOWER! I've even used it a second time now, how refreshing. And thanks to kapgar for his suggestion, not only did the mouthwash fix my breath without all that effort of brushing, but it also gave me quite a nice little buzz. Shall we begin?!?

  • Burris - I was hoping to be done ranting on the whole Blago / Burris thing. Now Burris has submitted an affidavit that appears to contradict his prior testimony. Briefly, he swore up and down (and under oath) before being sworn in that he was not approached for any sort of money in exchange for the Senate seat, and that he had no contact with Blago's camp. Now he is admitting to being asked to contribute to Blago's campaign fund prior to the appointment, and that he spoke with several members of Blago's camp. He is, of course, still claiming no wrongdoing, saying that no contribution was made, and that omissions were made in his testimony secondary to interruption by follow-up questions. The real story -- I'm guessing this is his last-ditch effort to avoid outright perjury as further evidence is revealed (i.e., recorded conversations between Burris and Blago's brother). Of course, the timing is after Blago's impeachment trial, so Burris's new version of events is too late to hurt him in that arena (not that it would have mattered, of course).

    Regardless, it's clearly shady that he was not forthcoming about these details -- and further proof of his questionable moral character. Kinda funny that he announces his "listening tour" of Illinois as this news breaks, reminiscent of his mentor Blago that went on a media tour as his impeachment trial began. So are we gonna see another circus of replacing our junior Senator before the 2010 election? Or just leave him there and laugh heartily if he even attempts to run at that time?!?

  • Drew Peterson - the drama never ceases. Now they appear together on the "Today" show. Not only are they living together again and looking forward to marrying as soon as possible (hopefully AFTER he manages to divorce his "missing" wife), but there was absolutely NO MENTION of her prior statement about the engagement being "a stunt." What happened to her fear for her safety and concern about his habit of becoming bored with his wives? What about the ex-boyfriend she had moved back in with during the week or two that she was separated from Drew?!?

    My prediction -- he needs to marry her before his trial, so she cannot be called on to testify against him. It's obvious she knows something -- she's been very well coached about not answering questions relating to Stacy. I would not be surprised if her "resumption" of their relationship was in exchange for either 1) some sizable bribe, or 2) to prevent some sort of retaliation. Even a "Jerry Springer Girl" like her would not flip-flop so completely without some external influence. This story is far from over ... unfortunately, the drama will likely continue to play out over the next several years. I'd rather jump to the punchline and deny them further rounds of their 15 minutes. Otherwise my head is gonna explode.

  • Just Shoot Me - Chicago is a pretty violent town. Robbery, mugging, rape, stabbings, shootings -- we have more than our fair share. People are frightened, I understand that. But please, please tell me how putting more guns on the street in "law abiding citizens'" hands is supposed to help that. They are trying to pass a concealed carry law, being pushed by a group of college students at DePaul University of all places. More guns will only increase the number of victims, whether we have "innocent bystanders" wounded by trigger-happy nervous people thinking they are being followed in dark parking garages, or by would-be defenders having their own guns used against them, or by angry citizens who reach for a handy weapon in a moment of rage. We need to get guns *OFF* the streets, not "levelize" the playing field by increasing fear that ANYONE might be carrying a gun. If this is really about helping women defend themselves, why not distribute mace as broadly as they hand out condoms? Non-lethal alternatives could be just as effective, and are more likely to be readily used by those uncomfortable with making the choice to fire a gun. Which would hopefully be ALL of us civilians.

Ok, back to the job hunt.

News photos lifted from Chicago Sun-Times. Showerhead and pink gun stolen from Google images. No, I don't think that qualifies for "concealed carry" - even if it took you several minutes before you spotted the gun.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bachelorhood Journal, Day 4

Things were nice and quiet at first, a pleasant change of pace around the apartment. Then it got oddly noisy, and I realized that my cat was becoming more and more vocal. Traced back the source of her consternation, and realized that her magic food bowl was no longer magic - it was empty! Imagine that.... So I decided to take stock of other changes around here.

#1 - i feel kinda weird. i think i'm developing a sort of oily layer. i may have to break down today and investigate the curtained-off area of the bathroom to figure out what that is for.

#2 - my teeth are growing fur. maybe that bristly-thingy hanging over the bathroom sink could help reverse this process. will have to give it a try at least.

#3 - running out of spoons. and room in the sink. and clean table space. very odd.

#4 - strange odor around apartment. can't quite nail it down - could be coming from litterbox, sink, or table. perhaps the garbage. or maybe secondary to items #1 or #2. that cat still hangs around me, so can't be too offensive. right?

Meanwhile, I think I have finally had my fill of peanut butter. Will have to investigate other edibles around the house. It has been sorta nice to always find things where I leave them, but not enough of a trade-off having to deal with #3 above.

Ok, well back to pretending to be productive. Might have to make that list of projects soon. At least my back isn't getting any worse (for now).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bachelorhood, Revisted

Oh, I had such high hopes for the next several weeks. While the wife is away, the mouse was fully intending to play. I even made the sacrifice of NOT creating a list of the things I wanted to accomplish in my maelstrom of activity, hoping to fly from project to project as whim drew me. [After about 3 or 4 days I was likely to break down and spend a solid 2-3 days drawing up a list, revising it, prioritizing projects, and shuffling papers on my desk anyway.]

But no ... even before I could get out of the gate I have been derailed in a ridiculous way. Secondary to being hit by a car over 12 years ago, I have a mildly screwed-up back. As long as I am careful with lifting and watch my posture, don't sleep in funky positions, etc. - it's really not a problem. Until that frickin' exercise DVD. I won't go into details here - suffice to say that trying to combine a shoulder press with a deeper-than-I-had-tried-recently deep knee bend was a baaaaad idea.

Now I've thrown out my back before, from staying in an awkward position too long in the operating room, or even from sneezing too forcefully. Usually I walk funny for a day or two, but can get back to normal fairly rapidly and even function pretty well throughout - other than the funny walking. This time, ugh - the back pain has been so persistent that I had been really crooked in my posture. So much so, that a couple of days later a whole 'nother group of muscles went into spasm - I guess from overcompensation. And then I aggravated all that by helping my wife haul the laundry around. Thankfully she refused to let me carry her suitcases around too much.

Got her to the airport yesterday, came back and pretty much crashed out on the couch. Today also crashed out on the couch ... hopefully after a solid night's rest I'll be able to tackle some of the cleaning and sorting and extended sessions tackling e-mail and other posture-intensive activities. I did manage some pseudo-productivity - cleared some movies from our netflix queue that my wife was less than enthusiastic to view with me. For good reason. :-)

In the meantime, I'm back to all the trappings of bachelorhood (messy apartment, grooming activities considered "optional," diet unsupervised, tv on 25 hours / day) without the hoped-for benefits - like normal mobility and a modicum of energy. I'll give it another day or two - then I'll try for some better living through pharmacology. MMMmmmmmm, muscle relaxers. *Drooool*

Friday, February 6, 2009

I'm no financial wiz...

but I thought I had a rough understanding of the roots of the financial crisis. In simplest terms, I thought it was due to bad loans - basically, abuse of credit by people that couldn't make their payments, and high-risk loans for homebuyers that wouldn't otherwise be in a position to own, coupled with banks looking to make a profit of such loans. And yadda yadda yadda, greedy Wall Street and deregulation, etc.

As usual, the real story is much more complex and far-reaching. Here is a link to a recent article from BBC News about the World Social Forum in Brazil. It's a bit long and tedious, but interesting if you have the patience. Specifically, check out this section, which gives a little overview of one participant's analysis of the factors leading up to the crisis. My oversimplification / summary is

  1. Overproduction by industrialized countries, coupled with
  2. Inadequate development of new markets (i.e., insufficient purchasing power in the rest of the world), which led to
  3. Lower profits from manufacturing, which was overcome with
  4. Investment in the "financial sector" to maintain profits, which resulted in
  5. Decoupling of the "financial value" from the "actual value," which allowed
  6. Rapid fluctuations in the value of financial investments, which allowed for
  7. Formation of the "bubble," which has now burst.
Experts from all over the world have been meeting to discuss causes and fixes, and of course no one can agree. To some degree, the deregulated system in the U.S. became a model for deregulation globally (for more equal competition in the market), and that has enabled the collapse to spread globally as well.

The fix - duh - is gonna have to involve re-regulation, and on a global scale. We cannot continue with a total free-market model that has no intrinsic accountability and no bias against inequality. The dramatic differences between economies has allowed for sweatshop labor and outsourcing of jobs.

As we recover, we need work in protections for underdeveloped nations and act as "big brothers / mentors" for developing nations. As we claw our way back from the brink, we need to offer hands to our partners and would-be partners in the global economy, and elevate everyone in the process. Focusing on "green energy" is one way the U.S. hopes to fight the crisis, and the battle with global warming is a prime example of how everyone will benefit from working together. Helping countries like China develop renewable energy (instead of coal, etc.) will help their economy as well as reducing pollution, improving their health, and battling global warming.

We are living through a trying period right now, but the possibilities for what we may build from it are truly exciting.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Jerry Springer World

Click here to go to a Sun-Times article, containing a transcript of an interview with Christina Raines, the now-ex-fiancee of Drew Peterson. She is living in a Jerry Springer world, and she is a Jerry Springer girl.


And she has already reproduced, ensuring that future generations will be subject to the same kind of idiocy.

When you have a chance, check out the movie Idiocracy, a futuristic farce by the creator of Office Space. The movie itself is mildly amusing, but the premise in the beginning describing how society gets dumbed-down is priceless.

If I can locate a clip I'll try to post it later.


C.R.A.P. Sunday - Groundhog edition

Catch-up Rants And Platitudes - #2 - a brief look at recent news items, etc.

[I realize this is officially posting on Monday - getting something in just before, at, or after the deadline is sorta a specialty of mine.] So had my interview on the East Coast this past week - travel went pretty smoothly, and the interview itself not too bad. Unfortunately, up against three other very well qualified candidates, and did not feel any strong "good vibes" with any of the faculty. Called in a favor with a former adviser who may have some influence on them for me, but not anticipating good news. Back to the drawing board....

  • Octuplets - Hmmm, interesting - so she had herself a litter. Oh, there she goes, she had herself a litter again. I know, not exactly a "litter" for the first group of SIX kids, since they do range in age and I think there is only one pair of twins. But it is quite surprising how slowly information is leaking out about this woman, who is only the second to give birth to octuplets in the U.S. From what I have pieced together, she is a single mother, living with her own mother (or had been until recently), obsessed with having kids (planned to have 12), underwent IVF (in-vitro fertilization) with donor sperm and then had the embryos frozen. Somehow - after already successfully birthing six children over recent years - she managed to convince doctors to implant her with all the remaining embryos. When she hooked up with the docs that cared for her through delivery, she had seven viable embryos detected. Doctors offered to therapeutically reduce the number to give her overall pregnancy a better chance of going to term and having healthier babies. She refused - which is fully within her rights. A surprise 8th baby is delivered among all the others at about 31 weeks (9 weeks early) - fortunately far enough along that they all have a good chance of survival.

    Of course - all will require quite a long hospitalization before they are fully out of the woods, which is quite expensive. This single mom will be caring for 14 young children - which is an impossible task without assistance. How she managed the resources to secure IVF and then implantation for each of her pregnancies (also very expensive) is beyond me. What doctor(s) in the world would dump all remaining frozen embryos into the uterus of a mother of SIX is borderline unethical. Presumably she did not want "leftover" frozen embryos to be destroyed (will address this more in an upcoming post about abortion rights), and perhaps only wanted to become pregnant one last time, but that is so irresponsible on the part of the physicians as well as herself to intentionally place herself into a super-high risk pregnancy - risky for her health, risky for the guardianship of her current kids, and risky for the babies she would be carrying. Once everyone is back from the hospital, can you imagine what her home life will be like?!? Nuts.

  • Gay & transgender rights - please see my previous post for a dedicated rant on this topic. In the wake of the California prop 8 fiasco, there has recently been a victory for gay rights in Washington state, giving domestic partners all remaining rights of spouses (without the title of "spouse" itself). And without a whole lot of ruckus. Of course conservatives are complaining that it is a doorway to eventual gay marriage legislation.... Maybe that is the way it will have to go, slowly progressive steps until "marriage" is the next logical and undeniable right to confer.

    Something that bothers me though is the recent lawsuit filed by two transgender people in Illinois, demanding that the state alter their birth certificates to reflect their current gender status. Because they had their surgeries overseas, the Illinois government is refusing based on a lack of physician documentation. That should be a moot point - they ARE able to get passports, driver's license, etc. granted with their "current" gender. Why should birth records be altered? How is it ever acceptable to alter that sort of documentation? They were born as "boys" - not some ambiguous genitalia issue that was later resolved. They had elective surgery to become women, and are legally considered women based on their active personal IDs. Why should an archival document be changed? When a name is changed due to marriage or some other court procedure, the original birth certificate does not need to change. Granted, there is at least a paper trail to connect person A with their records under previous name B - so maybe a form documenting the change would be something to serve whatever need spurned this lawsuit. But changing vital records because of events later in life - that just doesn't seem right.

  • On the topic of Illinois government (maybe my last comment on it for a while?), driving home after a Superbowl party tonight I was unexpectedly pleased at the removal of Blagojevich's name from the open-road toll plazas. Granted, it was probably $15,000 that could have been spent for something else, but that price pales in comparison to the $400,000-ish dollars the signs initially cost. And wow - the government managed to get something done in just a matter of days from the impeachment. I guess some people were pretty anxious to see that name wiped away.

  • Dining out in a city in Tuscany - Not that I have ever had the chance to hang in Italy, nor do I anticipate this in the near future, but caught a snippet that made me triple take. Apparently, the tourism board of the city (Lucca?) has banned ethnic food. Huh? Well, new ethnic food. Their existing restaurants can stay, but apparently they will not allow any new establishments whose menus focus on any sort of non-local food items. No kebabs (Greek food), Thai, etc. Not even Sicilian food. What?? Isn't that basically a part of Italy? They want to preserve the feel of the region, but apparently even local chefs are complaining because "fusion" cooking is all the rage now, and they feel this could limit their menu options. But what happened to consumer choice and freedom?!? If I go to Tuscany I should be able to choose to have "authentic" Tuscan food... but should also have the option for whatever variety is available. If / when I go to such a region, I would definitely be staying long enough to enjoy several meals - why not have the option for a good curry dish as a break? This is also discriminatory to immigrants, who often support themselves by cooking up the cuisine of their homeland. "FAIL" for attempting to curtail freedom of choice.

  • Finally, I cannot hold my tongue (or fingers, I guess) on the topic of the "Snuggie." People, this is just a comfy robe, or a flannel shirt, or whatever garment is handy, worn backwards. Do you really needs these direct marketers shoveling more crap down your throats?!? I'd like to load up a garbage scow with all the Sham-Wow's, Ped-eggs, clappers, touch lights, Chia-heads, choppers and juicers and try to get the pirates off Somalia to take THOSE off our hands. SHAM-UGHH!

Well, I guess that is enough for now. If you made it all the way to here, even I am impressed. Hope you enjoyed the Superbowl - it was pretty tight, a good show right to the very end. In case you've got it taped, TIVO'd, DVR'd, or just hoping to catch highlights I won't be the one to spoil it for ya. But man - cannot believe the number of penalties ... that has got to be a record. Here's to hoping for a cloudy day tomorrow - no shadows for the little rodent.

Photos mercilessly stolen from Google images.

blog history & pending


  • update sidebar & links


  • 2009-december: updated some content and re-initiated the blog
  • 2009-june: tweaked colors and link appearances
  • 2009-may: formatted search boxes and reference / mail icons
  • 2009-may: transfered original blog to "bonzophrenia" domain, including manual transfer of comments; original dates preserved in italics
  • 2008-nov: resumed blogging more regularly
  • 2005-feb: started "Bonzo-phrenia" at "bonzo-er" domain

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Unless otherwise noted, all written content is (c) Bonzo 2005-2009. Images unless credited otherwise are from google image search or other shared image archives. Header image designed by *ennyllynne*, with an image credit for the fan-shaped book (border removed here) due to nkzs. "try evil" hat worn in profile image designed by David Simmer II, available for sale at Artificial Duck Co.

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