Friday, April 29, 2011


Splurging brings with it a fair amount of pressure; when one engages in some luxury (of any scale) that will not be feasible again soon (due to whatever restrictions one may have) it really needs to prove to be as good as anticipated. There's only room for disappointment with the commonplace.

Cases in point:

Although my wife and I used to go to the movies at least once a month, last year you could count the number of times we saw a film in the theater on one hand's fingers. It's not that we are broke; we simply chose to put our money toward other things.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Bliss League

I must confess I am giddy with anticipation about this evening.

Tonight I'll be able to not watch the NFL draft and then get to go to bed and sleep through the Royal wedding overnight.

Ah, this will be a night to remember.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In praise of nice guys

Someday if my wife and I end up having a daughter, I can envision a moment many years in the future where a young person (for the purposes of this story we'll make him a boy) will come to the house with the intention of taking our daughter out on a date. I'll be imposing not so much because I'm that intimidating but because I'll be taller than the fellow. And invariably our daughter will not be ready to go (I know, I know; could I make our theoretical daughter more stereotypical?) so the young man and I will get to spend some time together in the living room.

I will size him up and, with any luck, he'll seem like a nice guy. (I believe our daughter will have decent taste). At some point I will let him in on something. "You will reach a point where you will feel like being a nice guy is getting you nowhere. You'll see all these jerks just rolling in chicks and you'll be tempted to abandon being a decent guy. There's really no avoiding that situation. But no matter what, do not give up. Someday you'll see it pay off." I will smile at my wife (who, for purposes of this story, will be in the adjoining dining room).

He won't believe me at the time, because young people never think that older people know what the hell they're talking about, but in the recesses of his mind it will seep in, slowly, and will take root. At some point he'll be in that very scenario and will remember what I told him.

But in the meantime, our daughter will be skilled in self-defense, just in case.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The ever-moving goal posts of language

In a recent Slate piece written by (I presume) a linguistics professor (he alluded to giving a quiz) takes as his premise the notion that as usage of terms change the meanings change, which of course is true; our language has been adapting since before it was in a form that could be considered a language; that's how it got to be a what we'd call a "language" in the first place. The number of words that mean precisely the same thing as when someone first tried to codify definitions likely is a shorter list than the ones that have changed, either slightly or significantly, over time, so conceivably someone who was thusly inclined could pick some words (almost at random), investigate their etymology a bit then study their current contextual usage, and compose a piece showing how they've changed, and this could be done as often as one had time to do so.

Anyway… the thesis of the article was exploring the question when should the (what we'll call) original meaning be retained (considered the only "correct" definition) and when should the "new" meaning be given the same credence. He based the criteria for making the distinction be whether the predominant contemporary usage favored the original or new connotation, combined with the question of whether the "new" meaning already had another, already existing word that carried the intended definition.

And that, I would say, is wherein lies the rub. If there's a term that precisely carries the desired connotation one intends (and with all the words English has taken in, there's plenty from which to choose) but instead one appropriates a separate, perhaps similar-sounding term out of ignorance, the duly informed should intercede before the rest of the ignorant co-opt the misusage and it becomes the dominant idiom.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jesus was way cool

Jesus is so humble that when it comes to the two biggest holidays in His honor He can sit back and say, "No, let the rabbit and the guy with the reindeer get the spotlight." He doesn't need it to be all about Him.

Now that's the sort of quality that is worth basing a whole religion on.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A bad joke for Good Friday

Do you suppose Jesus ever thinks, "If that's what they call a 'good' Friday I'd really hate to see what they consider a 'bad' one"?

Ba. Dum. Chik.


Remember: God gave us humor for a reason.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The power of Stupid

If only the stupid people would stop screwing up things—politics, religion, entertainment, etc.—that likely would improve the world, but undoubtedly would make for a really boring internet.


We need to figure out a way to stop the stupid people from standing out so obviously. Ah, but they're so easy to mock and make the rest of us feel better about ourselves, and like anyone doing anything smart would catch on and "go viral" in other than a freak novelty once every decade or so.

Eh, but stupidity keeps the stupid occupied, so it's not all bad for the rest of us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The kids may be alright but no so much for the blogs

Years ago, when the blahg here first started, I had a reasonably robust readership of people with whom I was personally acquainted; that is, people I knew, had met face-to-face, considered friends in the conventional sense before there was any online means of connection.

Of course, in those days several of those people had blogs of their own, so they spent some time in the blogosphere as well, and having a "community" of sorts was more easily achieved.

This was before many of them had children.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rolling on polling

Anytime I hear someone refer to a poll of a small number of people as representing an entire group, I cringe for a split-second and then I tacitly append "…and I give credence to that poll because it supports my position" to the end of the argument, and then there's no need for quibbling. I concede that no one has time to solicit the specific input of large groups (especially if we're talking about hundreds of millions of citizens), and our republic operates on the notion of a small number representing the rest, so we must accept the inherent limitations and flaws of polls and surveys for pragmatic considerations.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Comma on

As I've noted in a previous post there's little point in quibbling certain faux pas of rhetoric/linguistics (not that I'm implying those are merely two names for the same thing but for our purposes here let's go with it); the point of language is to convey meaning, and thus as long as the audience can discern what the speaker/writer intended without having to exert extra mental effort to get that, it's not worth belaboring instances where the speaker/writer did not comply with standard rules. That's not suggesting those of us who do spot the modest errors won't notice (and, if appropriate—such as in academic or professional contexts, or most certainly if one is a proofreader—offer recommendations to the offenders to help them try to avoid the same mistakes in the future), but in casual contexts I believe it's not worth getting worked up over.

As a test of who qualifies as the rhetoric sticklers I am talking about: If you noticed that first paragraph has only one period and that it's only through the use of what I suspect some would consider the questionable use of a semicolon that the single period is even possible, you are a likely candidate. In addition, if you bristled at seeing the closing clause concluded with a preposition, you are precisely the sort of person to whom I was referring. Just so we're clear. (And you have my sympathy, I assure you.)

Without question there are instances where such a person should have been involved and clearly was not (perhaps in the beginning of this sentence, where I start in the plural when referring to the "instances" but switch to the singular for "person" for the second part, as I wished to indicate each as an individual instance—that much certainly could be reconsidered by an editor if I had one, but I like to believe the meaning got through nonetheless). An example of that I noticed this morning while passing a billboard at a bus stop. The ad was for the California Lottery's "Set For Life" Scratchers game, and featured the line: "Go ahead, have the cashews from the mini bar."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What I learned in college

On last week's episode of this podcast, during a discussion on college admissions (and the complexities thereof) spurred by this book, the question of what kind of education one receives at universities came up. One of the panelists, after conceding that going to college is very beneficial for one's life (particularly for one's later earning potential), he questioned whether students actually learn anything there.

He admitted, reflecting back on his liberal arts degree, that he remembered nothing from his time spent in classrooms.

Another panelist duly identified that the onus is on the student to make the effort to learn, despite all the distractions of the larger college experience.

These two thoughts pretty well captured my take on what I got out of college.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Falling" in love

Does the phrase "falling in love" not suggest that love is a base, a fundamental aspect of the human experience? Clearly if you fall you descend, you go from a standing posture to one where you succumb to gravity's pull. You are essentially losing control of your ability to be upright.

On that point, the act of "falling" in love is somewhat analogous; it's not really a matter of willing yourself to be "in love" but relinquishing control of your emotions. However, unlike literal falling where you descend quickly and stop only by catching yourself or by hitting the ground and it happens suddenly, the "falling" associated with love is often used to describe a process that starts slightly and grows, developing over time, and not really like literal falling any more.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Faded Orange Ranunculus

Back in February over at the photo site I posted some shots of ranunculus when they were freshly cut, which I posted here. However, today I wanted to alert the interested that there's a new post up at the photo site featuring those same flowers two weeks later (yes, the lasted that long).

Below are a couple examples, and you can click here to check out the rest.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

We are the goon squad and we're coming to town (beep-beep)

On the walk to the office this morning I found myself behind a trio of young people. That, in and of itself, is unremarkable (unless one draws fascination in the fact people were walking in L.A., despite the old Missing Persons song that makes claims to the contrary). What did catch my notice was the footwear of one of the trio, a petite woman.

From the back she appeared to be wearing ankle boots; solid leather (or whatever the material was) went from the heel to her pants. Being as tall as I am I soon came up alongside the woman and out of the corner of my eye I noticed something I would not expect: her toes.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Twitter allows us to share those clever quips that occur to us when there's no one around to say them to in person.

It also allows us to share those thoughts that seemed like they'd be clever but ultimately were really best served by having no one around to have to hear them. Ah, the good ol' days...

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Playing it safe

Shows like Ice Road Truckers or Deadliest Catch and others of that ilk do not make me fancy that I, sitting on the sofa watching*, could engage in such dangerous professions. They make me appreciate my humble desk job—which would not make for an entertaining reality show no matter how much they manipulated the footage—all the more.

You'll notice that when I write, I never touch on the nuts and bolts of the activities involved with how I make a living. That is no coincidence.

(Heck, it's only by stretching and a tongue-in-cheek tone** that the thoughts I have when I'm not working can prove remotely worthy of being written down—and that's a matter of dubious justification, even under the best of circumstances.)

I take some solace in believing I know what level of attention the rest of the world should pay to me, and not demanding any.

But if you read this, I do appreciate the time you devoted to li'l ol' me. Seriously.


* I've only ever actually seen the commercials, but I like to think I got the gist of the shows from those. That's enough, right?

** Not that this post has much of that tone, but many of the other posts do. Well, I like to think they do, but... This isn't helping, is it? 

Monday, April 04, 2011

A tragic cycle

There is no such thing as personal tragedy anymore; there are merely obstacles that make it easier to get a book deal or an option on a reality show.

Which can be another "tragedy" that leads to another reality show...

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Smart phones are too smart

With the ubiquity of smart phones and the ability to respond to emails using those little (often virtual) keyboards it's not uncommon (at least in my experience) for people to have a message automatically appended to the emails sent from the devices that identify that situation and ask forgiveness from the recipient(s) for any "typos."

For the longest time this intrigued me. While I imagined the subtext of the message was "these stupid keys are too small for my big fingers"—which, let's be fair, is an odd thing to actively imply with every email sent—but the deeper message seemed to be "hey, you should just be happy I bothered to respond at all and not expect me to actually bother to make sure these words are correct" or "I don't know how to run a spell check on this device and I'm too lazy or technologically inept to figure it out." I also wondered if the implication of wanting the errors in the text of messages because they sent from the mobile device meant that in messages sent while one was a computer with a full keyboard (and, presumably, easier spell checking capability) any errors there should be mercilessly mocked.

In short, every possible interpretation of that disclaimer (of sorts) that the phone included at the end of the text was an admission of a larger failing. Frankly, I thought it would be better just to embrace one's flubs and not bother with that at the end of emails, because it really wasn't helping to ask for special treatment.