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Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I'm one of those people who just loves to cause a ruckus, the louder, the better. (My friends are now saying, yeah, that's news.) I wish I knew where I got this from, because both of my parents were both very sweet people who did everything possible to keep my proverbial cup from running over, and believe me, it DID.

Give me a rubber band and I will pull both ends until the thing snaps.  Countless balloons fell prey to my childish hands; of course since I was little I had no access to sharp objects, but that didn't stop me from squeezing them until they exploded.

As an adult at a posh gala I organized a motley which took the centerpieces (huge gaudy orbs filled with helium) and shoved them out under the tent walls until they "escaped." We were really, really bored.

Next day there was talk that some tables were decorated and others were not. We never got caught. The balloons must have hit the stratosphere.

I gravitate towards persons of similar ilk, or maybe they gravitate to me, who knows, I haven't quite figured that out. It's been quite awhile since I masterminded any such silliness-- matter of fact the last caper was ultimately dubbed "The Cone Redistribution Project."

It was a simple enough premise at the onset-- find an orange road cone and deposit the thing on someone's front porch. Technically, you could say we were stealing, but instead we preferred to think about it as "harvesting" the cones, wrapping them in protective blankets for safe transfer and then "reseeding" them elsewhere.

It started one night when I wanted to goof on a couple of friends -- and before I knew it a boatload of people were talking about the mysterioso appearance of the cones on their porch. It quickly skyrocketed until the "conings" involved multiple cones, and several people to pull off the heist. Nine arrived one night (I was in Florida but had conned someone to do it for me so that nobody would suspect me), and the hapless couple totally wigged out.

It didn't take long before The Cone Redistribution Project got completely out of control and there were copycat conings everywhere. They showed up on cars, in the middle of the roads, in public and private buildings, and in one particularly brilliant stroke, someone received a video of a cone. Some of us coned the parking lot of the state capitol building.

Needless to say there were countless hours wasted riding around "harvesting" the cones until I had collected enough to make a showy display.  What's interesting is just how many people were game to go with me -- I rode shotgun while my cohorts would leap from the vehicle, grab the cones and jammed them in the trunk of the car. I had another crew with a large garage where I was allowed to store a number until we had "harvested" an alarming amount, the better to freak out the next patsy.

Those were good times.  Sigh.

I hope that anyone who reads this doesn't get crazy ideas (HINT! HINT!) and revive The Cone Redistribution Project. It is such a silly, silly, silly thing to do.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


About forty one years ago, Ohio's Cuyahoga River was so polluted that sparks from a nearby train set it on fire.

(I can hear the stoners looking askance, "Wow, man, fire in the water, heavy.")

Not much after, inspired by the freaky flames, Wisconsin's U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson did something that was pretty typical during the seventies -- he whipped a bunch of people into a frenzy and got them to take to the streets, nothing new in that bed in, peace in, love in era.

What was new -- the issue in question, namely the conservation and preservation of our Mother Planet.

Thus, the birthday of Earth Day.

These days, like everything else that is born of good intentions, Earth Day has turned into as yet another one of those gigs: platitudes from politicos, t-shirts and mugs with earth logos, TV news networks churning out stories with videos of smokestacks and small ducks coated in the black detritus of an oil spill.

And everyone goes to bed that night feeling good about themselves. They get a sense of having "done something" for the planet, even though tomorrow morning they will go right back to drinking their lattes out of a styrofoam cup or heating up lunch in a plastic microwave container.

We've reached a stage where some pretty drastic measures need to happen.
For starters, plastic. We should do everything in our power to use as little of it as possible. I recently purchased glass containers in which to store my leftovers in the fridge. There are no plastic chairs on my porch, instead I have wicker and wood, both materials that will eventually biodegrade. And though I have a real affinity for Evian, I've given that up in favor of the Britta system.

Bye bye plastic bottles.

Every trash day I look at my neighbor's piles of junk and am simply agog at the sheer volume of throwaway that each and every house on my street generates. We buy, and buy, and buy stuff, stuff and more stuff -- and then without much thought, throw it away.

I foresee a day in which we simply won't have any more room, and will begin jettisoning some of this junk by putting it into a space capsule and shooting it out through the atmosphere. It's not such a foreign notion -- the first time we visited another celestial body, the moon, what did we do?

Yeah, left behind some of our junk.

Earth, love it because we can't leave it.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Worst thing on the planet -- that inocuous song that enters your cranium and then refuses to leave.

There are only two ways to get rid of the runaway song playing itself out for the 47th time as you try to go about your life -- replace it with another song.

I've got one running rampant right now, and had to think up another to take its place.

It's Manah Manah, a vintage classic from Jim Henson and the Muppets.

I'm really, really partial to the pink cows and can really get carried away with the doot doo doo doo doots.

Come on, get into it -- doot doo doo doo doot.
Manah Manah, doot doo doo doo doot.

Okay, that got old so I rooted around and in popped Total Eclipse of the Heart which has more than one annoying riff from start to beginning.  After about five minutes of that I had to dig deeper until I'm Blue reared its ugly little head.

I was reaching a level of exhaustion trying to knock that one down when Chumbawumba jumped out of the ether and replaced it. Frankly I never disliked that one but had to dig around some more before I went totally nuts. Out popped Macarena and somehow that segued back to Manah Manah.

I was back to square one, desperate and drained, hoping the cacophany in my cranium would finally cease. Not to worry.  Chocolate saved the day.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I've been staring at the SONY Vaio laptops for what seems like a small eternity. 

I loved its sleek lines, the sharp images and of course, it bore the SONY name.

But one day it happened -- someone put an IPhone in my hands and I was a goner.

I bought within two days, and then began stalking the MacBook Pros. I was going to purchase until I learned there might be an update -- so of course I held off.

And the wait began.  I'm not the only one, either -- according to the Gizmodo blog a dude walked into an Apple Store looking for one of them and they went postal on him.

Now I should divulge here that I work for an ISP and second, my brother is a major geek employed in information services by an enormous multinational company.  I hate to admit this in public but he's really, really, smart and -- no surprise here -- even weirder than I am.

(NOTE: My brother won't eat a sandwich if the mayonnaise is touching the cheese. I used to open his fridge and put the cheese next to the jar of mayo until he put Post-it notes on them saying "Don't even think of it.")

This man calls IBM computers "itty bitty machines" and thinks most laptops are just very expensive paperweights.  In comparison, I'm a "geek in training."

So it should come as no surprise that he nearly had a cow when I told him I was considering a laptop, never mind one made by Apple.

I usually pick his brain about such matters, but have hesitated asking about the Macbook Pro updates that have been wafting the web in sites like macrumors lately. They are talking among other things Intel's i7 chips, bigger hard drives and increased battery life.

I'm itching to get one of these puppies, as I am sure many others are.

If WERE to call my brother, he would have a cow -- not be a-moo-sed, so to speak. I'd love to hear from anybody who might illuminate...

Amen, and pass the mustard.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


In case you have not heard, President Obama has declared Rhode Island a disaster area.

You know where Rhode Island is, right? Yeah, it's that little blip on the map between Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Rhode Island is making headlines now because of a storm that dumped more water in a short period than any other within a century. The Providence Journal has done a stellar job of documenting this tragic situation.

Rhode Island isn't big on the national scene -- not much of any imporantance happens here, as anyone who watches Family Guy knows.

It is a very pretty and insular place, one in which the quality of life can be very high if you are one of the few people enjoying the few truly good opportunities available.  Nearly 15 percent of the residents working have state jobs; over 12 percent have no jobs at all.

Now, however, thanks to this deluge, Rhode Island is the Venice of America and all of us here are drowning together on the world stage. Thanks mostly to the rising Blackstone and Pawtuxet Rivers, waterways that once were responsible for the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, a good chunk of this tiny hamlet is under water.

Front lawns are now lakes, basements are flooded, sewage treatment plants are taxed to their limits, businesses are shut down and highways washed out, and getting around means winding your way around back roads.

This was my view on one of the side streets enroute to work yesterday morning. I had to back up and find another way out. But at least I made it -- various colleagues are still bailing water as I write.

The question now is what will happen when the feds step in and money for rebuilding is made available. Rhode Island is notorious for rerouting extra dollars for purposes which they were not intended -- for example, a bunch of tobacco money that was supposed to pay for quit smoking programs somehow ended up in the general fund instead.

Let's hope that this time the money goes where it belongs -- to the people of an already strapped state who are just trying to stay afloat, in every sense of the word.

Amen, and pass the mustard.