Archives for September 2007

The Impact of My Actions

Sometimes the most frustrating posts to write are those that are the most heartfelt. These are the posts that make me tear my hair out. They generally come in the midst of some sort of crazy moment in my life.

For a while it felt like the best way to describe my life was drama. And let me tell you, that is not how I want it. Although it may appear otherwise my desire has always been to have a relatively boring life. Give me and my loved ones good health, the ability to live the way we want to and Jack is a happy man.

I don’t need all of the craziness. I have had enough. Last week a friend of the family died. It was unexpected. It was shocking. It was just days after Yom Kippur. They had a major heart attack just after Rosh Hashanah. Unetaneh Tokef always affects me, but this time it had extra meaning.

Tom and I have had multiple conversations about his situation. Most of them involve the two of us shaking our heads about the absurdity of life and how naive we once were. It is not like either of us consider ourselves to be gurus or world class philosophers. We don’t. But as people who no longer think of middle age as being old it is clear that we have a little life experience beneath our belts.

As we share a moment discussing our thoughts I sit there and silently consider the impact of my own actions on those around me. I have a graphic imagination. Inside my head I picture myself skipping rocks on a pond. I can see myself dropping a stone into the pond creating little circles around its passing.

Everything I do impacts the people around me.

Fast forward to a conversation between my son and myself. I am trying to explain this to him. I don’t do a very good job of it. I am too busy trying to explain why people work and why you hope that you love what you do. It is a little beyond him. He wants to know what I do at recess at my office.

When I explain that we don’t have recess he tells me I should quit and find a job that does. If teaching paid enough I would have stayed in it. I don’t tell him that or even tell him that I used to be a teacher. I am not hiding it from him, just hasn’t come up yet. There are some things that a child doesn’t need to know, such as that I was once recruited to be a sex phone operator. In case you are wondering I didn’t do it. Didn’t pay much and wasn’t that interesting to me.

Confession time. If it would have paid enough I might have done it. It was tough being a poor college student. Then again, it is getting harder to say for certain what I would have done 20 years ago as I am not who I once was.

Someone out there is reading my posts with great attention to detail. In fact they are reading certain posts twice. Sometimes I leave hidden messages for them and sometimes they are overt. Sometimes I get notes from other people wondering if I am sending them hidden messages. I tell them to put on their tinfoil hats and to click their heels together.

Here is a secret message: M.L.B.F. Noah is an uncle and a monkey which is why the book started to cry. That is better than breathing heavy or getting pulled over by the police. It burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire which is why I keep a junebug close to me. Creamy delight coats the night.

Speaking of secret messages I haven’t ever sent a telegram, but I have seen it on television enough to know the protocol. See if I was in a movie I’d send my girl a message like this:

Trapped in an elevator STOP Thinking of you STOP Will Break Free STOP Coming For You STOP Our Love Forever STOP

Does anyone out there know Morse Code? How about Morris the Cat.

Ok, that should satisfy the seven conspiracy theorists that haunt this blog. It is kind of cool to know that they are haunting the blog. It warms the cockles of my heart. Every time I use or hear that word I think of my grandfather and his dear friend Molly Malone.

Full Stop. End of Post. End of Blog.

Hell Has Frozen Over

Look at what YNET is reporting:

Chairman: UN unbalanced towards Israel

Chairman of UN Human Rights Council Doru Costea says body was concentrating too much on human rights violations by Israel. ‘Council must look at the stance of all sides, not only one country,’ he states

The UN Human Rights Council has failed to handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a balanced fashion, the council’s chair Doru Costea said in an interview published Saturday.

Costea suggested in the interview with the daily Le Temps that the council was concentrating too much on human rights abuses by Israel, adding that he was dissatisfied.

“On this point, the council has failed,” he said, days after US President George W. Bush attacked the body for perceived anti-Israeli bias.

“The council must remain simple, and concentrate on the human rights dimension, but it must look at the stance of all sides, not only one country.”

Costea said that the majority of the 47 seats held by Asian and African countries on the council “gives a certain power, but that does not mean that this power is always used wisely.”

Click here for the full story.

Guiness Book Of World Records

One day you might find me in there for something. I don’t know what, but I have always played around with doing something that would get me into the book at least once.

LONDON (Reuters) – Australian John Allwood smashed 40 watermelons with his head in just one minute.

Using only one hand, Germany‘s Thomas Vogel unfastened 56 bras in 60 seconds.

When it comes to the world’s weirdest achievers, nothing beats the ultimate accolade — a place in Guinness World Records for demonstrating bizarre skills.

Nothing is too wacky.

Can you catch 77 grapes in your mouth in under a minute, keep nine yo-yo’s spinning at the same time, hold your breath for more than 14 minutes or throw a washing machine?

Then Guinness has a spot for you.

The annual compendium, whose latest edition is published on Friday, even has a section entitled Trivial Pursuits.

Few would argue with the title as Guinness lists the globe’s finest practitioners at putting the cover on a duvet, kicking yourself in the head and throwing paper aircraft into a bucket.

Italian Michele Santana wins an entry for typing 57 books backwards.

When Does Surveillance Become Intrusive

In a post 9/11 world it is clear to me that certain changes need to be made to improve our security. In concept I haven’t a big problem with it, but in practice I find some of this to be troubling as I see potential for abuse of the new rules.

CHICAGO – A car circles a high-rise three times. Someone leaves a backpack in a park.

Such things go unnoticed in big cities every day. But that could change in Chicago with a new video surveillance system that would recognize such anomalies and alert authorities to take a closer look.

On Thursday, the city and IBM Corp. are announcing the initial phase of what officials say could be the most advanced video security network in any U.S. city. The City of Broad Shoulders is getting eyes in the back of its head.

“Chicago is really light years ahead of any metropolitan area in the U.S. now,” said Sam Docknevich, who heads video-surveillance consulting for IBM.

Chicago already has thousands of security cameras in use by businesses and police — including some equipped with devices that recognize the sound of a gunshot, turn the cameras toward the source and place a 911 call. But the new system would let cameras analyze images in real time 24 hours a day.

“You’re talking about creating (something) that knows no fatigue, no boredom and is absolutely focused,” said Kevin Smith, spokesman for the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

For example, the system could be programmed to alert the city’s emergency center whenever a camera spots a vehicle matching the description of one being sought by authorities.

The system could be programmed to recognize license plates. It could alert emergency officials if the same car or truck circles the Sears Tower three times or if nobody picks up a backpack in Grant Park for, say, 30 seconds.

Why Men Are Happier Than Women

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An article in the New York Times caught my eye today. It is called He’s Happier, She’s Less So. I am going to grab a couple of excerpts here to share with you.

Last year, a team of researchers added a novel twist to something known as a time-use survey. Instead of simply asking people what they had done over the course of their day, as pollsters have been doing since the 1960s, the researchers also asked how people felt during each activity. Were they happy? Interested? Tired? Stressed?Not surprisingly, men and women often gave similar answers about what they liked to do (hanging out with friends) and didn’t like (paying bills). But there were also a number of activities that produced very different reactions from the two sexes — and one of them really stands out: Men apparently enjoy being with their parents, while women find time with their mom and dad to be slightly less pleasant than doing laundry.

Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist working with four psychologists on the time-use research team, figures that there is a simple explanation for the difference. For a woman, time with her parents often resembles work, whether it’s helping them pay bills or plan a family gathering. “For men, it tends to be sitting on the sofa and watching football with their dad,” said Mr. Krueger, who, when not crunching data, enjoys watching the New York Giants with his father.

This intriguing — if unsettling — finding is part of a larger story: there appears to be a growing happiness gap between men and women.

And

Women are not actually working more than they were 30 or 40 years ago. They are instead doing different kinds of work. They’re spending more time on paid work and less on cleaning and cooking.

What has changed — and what seems to be the most likely explanation for the happiness trends — is that women now have a much longer to-do list than they once did (including helping their aging parents). They can’t possibly get it all done, and many end up feeling as if they are somehow falling short.

Many of the women in my life complain frequently about their inability to get it all done. This is not to say that all they do is complain, but rather an observation. I can appreciate it. I often feel like I am running like a rat on a treadmill, but sometimes I just jump off. I can’t live like that for too long without going crazy. It is just unhealthy for me.