Archive for October, 2009

Python Burmese by Tambako the Jaguar

Burmese Python by tambako the jaguar on flickr

Here in the pet friendly offices of The Curmudgeon, employees are free to bring their dogs to work.  The dog must be well-behaved though, and completely non-aggressive to humans or other animals.  They must be well-trained and come from the finest prep schools and know which forks go on the left.  But nobody has any snakes, at least not that I know of.

And that’s good, because snakes have a talent for escaping.  The snakes aren’t to blame for this of course, but rather the owners who probably shouldn’t have a snake in the first place, not if they don’t know how to care for it properly.  Try explaining to Suzi in accounting that the large lump in Killer the python’s midsection is her poodle “Puffy.”  This kind of fugitive snake thing is more prevalent than you might think.  And now, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are nine species of giant alien snakes in North America that are becoming established in the wild and they wreak havoc on the ecosystem.

By “alien.” they don’t mean outer space but snakes that don’t  have their green cards.  These snakes can grow longer than 20 feet and weigh over 200 pounds, they breed as fast as humans on welfare, and have no predators.  If allowed to continue, if more continue to escape, they will really devastate the system.

It’s already happening in Florida, and the Burmese Python could possibly spread throughout the entire lower third of the U.S.  They have been known to kill humans, but primarily, it’s the ecosystems we have to worry about.  As if we don’t have enough worries with our ecosystems.

I had a friend when I was a kid growing up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, who loved snakes.  Steve Rhode (pronounced Roady) was his name.  You didn’t grow up there with out knowing about snakes, and we did.  We knew which were poisonousness and which weren’t.  We knew how to pick them up.  We knew everything about them, and it was Steve Rhode who taught us.  He was fearless.  Poisonousness or not, he’d grab a snake in the wink of an eye, and he’d keep some.  He had a collection.  He was a wild animal kind of guy.  He once chased a jack rabbit.  I don’t mean he chased it for 50 feet.  I mean he chased it through bramble and bush, across open land, wherever the rabbit went, he followed, until finally the rabbit fell over exhausted.  He kept it.  He’s probably a wildlife expert somewhere now.

Steve taught his dog to talk. When I first reconnected with my best friend from those days, one of my first questions was:  “Could Steve Rhode’s dog talk, or did I just imagine that?”  “No, he could talk,” my friend said.  I became pretty fearless too, except for Water Moccasins.  They terrified me.

So unless you’re Steve Rhode, maybe you should leave the snakes to the professionals…and those religious snake handler people.  They seem a little nutty to me anyway.  Besides, they handle rattle snakes, indigenous here.  So if you must keep snakes, keep American ones.  If they escape, no big deal.

Unless they eat your poodle.

(Information for this article came from the National Park Service, Rebecca Quimby, Oct. 23, 2009)

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facebook Max-B flickr

Here in the convivial offices of The Curmudgeon, we are a social company.  Lots of company parties and whatnot.  Many of the employees share personal information on Facebook, MySpace, & Twitter, though why anyone would want to know that Bobby threw-up the sushi he ate for lunch escapes me.

When President Obama was asked by a kid what advice he had for growing up to be President, he said be careful what you post on Facebook.  He knew what he was talking about.  Harris Interactive did a study and found that 45% of employers use social networks to check out job applicants.  Scary enough, but worse, 35% didn’t hire someone based on what they saw there.  “Holy status update,” Batman!

Your current boss may be doing it too.  Badmouthing him or the company?  Hello unemployment.  I check up on my employees.  They keep friending me (BIG MISTAKE).  I’ve only yelled at one worker though, for reporting how drunk he got in the company Irish Pub during work hours, not for getting drunk but for telling the world about it.  Just in case the authorities or somebody’s mother is reading, we confiscate keys and they are given a ride home with the car service I pay for.  (Note to self:  Hire a car service, damnit.)  Don’t you wish you worked for me?  Just use a little discretion and don’t make a habit of it.  Fine Irish whiskey is to be sipped and savored, not swigged down in some “I can hold my liquor better than you” drinking game.

But there are other pitfalls too, worse perhaps.  Burglars love the social networks, though they’re not very social.  So go ahead and tell everybody your’re going on vacation to Europe for two weeks, or you could go to the roughest bar in the city, stand up and say, “Attention everybody.  I’m going to Paris for two weeks and my house will be empty.  By the way, I live at 666 Dumbass Lane.”  One such man announced he was going to Kansas City, and then posted constant updates about it.  He came home to find his house cleaned out, including the very expensive editing equipment he used to put together videos that he posted on Facebook.  “It was like they knew what they were looking for,” he later said.  They knew what they were looking for all right.  They were looking for an idiot on Facebook.

Spouses use it during divorces.  You might have evidence of an affair, or said how hungover you were which will be used against you during the child custody phase.   “Bye kids.  The bad judge man wont let mommy keep you. He said she has a Zinfandel  problem.

Still not convinced?  Here’s a couple that will hit you in the pocket book:  The IRS is starting to use it during tax disputes.  Cha-Ching! As they get more and more aggressive, soon they’ll probably have a computer that looks for social network information automatically, and they may be doing it already.  But wait! Order today and you also get….higher insurance premiums.  Insurance companies are pondering this move even as we speak.  Cha-Ching! More expensive homeowners insurance, coming soon to an insurance company near you.  Writing references to drinking or reckless behavior?  Cha-Ching! There goes your driver’s insurance.

Identity thieves love these sites.  I’m not going to even get into phishing and virus’s.  Just remember to be very careful with what you post.  Just ask yourself, “What evil could I do with this information,” and you’ll be alright.  Maybe.

Now that’s social networking.

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Bubbles, my personal assistant.

Here in the efficient offices of The Curmudgeon, we get things done.  Me, being the boss man—the guy on whom all things depend—have more to do than most people.  Well, all of them actually, but I do sometimes have difficulty finding the time to do the little things required for living in this world, like going to the bank or post office, laundry (Mrs. Crusty don’t do laundry), and washing my privates.  So I have a personal assistant to do these little troublesome tasks for me.

She’s a very efficient, cute young lady very good at what she does.  Okay, she doesn’t wash my privates.  I asked but she balked.  That’s a deal breaker, she said.  But it never occurred to me to hire one while I was in College.  I didn’t have the money anyway, but if I had it would have been invaluable.  All those mundane tasks really cut into my party time.

The thought has occurred to Charlie Cooper, sophomore at Georgetown University.  He placed an ad on the University’s employment resource website.  The school’s newpaper first ran the story, and he has become somewhat famous, at least for the next Warholian 15 minutes.  Everybody is making a big deal about it, but here’s the thing:  They’re giving him a hard time.  Why?  What the heck do you care if the kid hires another kid to do this stuff?

“As my PA you will receive an email once a day by 9:00 am with a task list for that day and a time estimate for each task,” Cooper wrote in the ad.  “Important tasks will be bolded on the list and must be done that  day (even though everything on the list should theoretically be finished on a daily basis). At the end of the day you will send me an email telling me what tasks are incomplete or that all tasks have been completed.”

The Georgetown Voice ran the story on its blog with the headline, “Georgetown sophomore seeks personal assistant, takes premature self-importance to whole new level.”  Some students are mad that this perpetuates the myth that Georgetown students are a bunch of rich kids who can’t do anything for themselves.  Looks to me like he knows exactly how to get things done;  hire somebody to do them for you.

Hey, he’s got a job that he likes, that he wants to keep, and it pays more than he will pay the PA.  That makes good business sense to me.  Get off his back and clean up this dorm room, damnit.

Go ahead and hire a PA, kid, and let all the haters go to the DMV for themselves.

Excuse me a sec, (presses intercom button)  Bubbles, could you come in here a minute.  Scratch right here….

A little to the left…ahhhhhh.

(Information for the story came from The Washington Post, Thursday, Oct. 22, in a story written by Jenna Johnson.)

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Here in the cushie offices at The Curmudgeon, we are familiar with comfortable things. Recliners chairs every everywhere. We don’t have recliner races in the hallways or anything, but I think we soon will. You probably will too. Of course there’s the matter of getting your recliner to go.  Fast.

I now call him King of Recliners. Who else but the King could take his La-Z-Boy motoring down a Minnesota street and get a DUI. Dennis LeRoy Anderson plead guilty to driving his motor vehicle while drunk. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail but got probation. This info courtesy of TMZ.

He did exactly what your not supposed to do. Got hammered in a bar on eight or nine beers and got in his vehicle. While flying down the street – capable of 20 mph – he crashed into a parked vehicle. The King wasn’t hurt, but he was drunk, ringing up a 0.29, three times the legal limit. That’s as drunk as “Otis,” as in Mayberry.

Hey, everybody makes mistakes. He has that baby really souped up, too. He installed a converted lawnmower engine. The chair has a stereo, a headlight, and cupholders. Now that’s an Easy Chair. I can see me now, racing down main street with Lawrence Welk blastin’ on the stereo (that was a joke. It would probably be Sublime).

I’m going to get started tomorrow. For an engine, I think the old Suzuki motorcycle will do the trick, and that whiny engine noise will be perfect for bugging the neighbors. It’s got to be a little more tricked out though, CD player, satellite TV, built-in cooler, and whatever else I can think of.

Call me Easy Glider

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Saudi Kings Palace

Saudi Kings Palace

Here in the opulent and ostentatious office of The Curmudgeon, we are, financially speaking, well off.  This is not because of the money we make in our endeavors, but what we have made I have invested wisely.   We own one of the largest oil fields in the world and I have invested in properties both here and abroad (among other things –  possibly illegal).  And yet, I have decided to petition the United Nations for aid.

One palace's doors.

One palace's doors.

How can I do this?  Because I can.  I figure if the Saudi’s can do it, why not me?  Saudi Arabia is ruled by the royal family, the House of Saud, led by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.  There are 7000 to 25000 members of the family (depending on who you talk to) but only about 200 or so hold the power and influence.  They sit on the largest oil reserve in the world, and oil revenues go into the Saud’s…um…fanny packs?  What do they carry their money in?  Oh, it’s probably that servant with the suitcase.  Of course, that means any government expenses come from the Saud’s too, but that leaves a sizable chunk to the family, some estimate as much as 40% and up to 1 Trillion dollars, most of which is spent on opulent palaces, luxury yachts, and tricked-out private jets.

But they need the money, just like I do.  If all this “reduce dependence on oil” crap comes to fruition, think what it will do to the Saud’s income?  Why it’s un-Saudi Arabian!  “This despite an International Energy Agency report released this week showing that OPEC revenues would still increase $23 trillion between 2008 and 2030 — a fourfold increase compared to the period from 1985 to 2007 — if countries agree to significantly slash emissions and thereby cut their use of oil.” (dailystar.com., Oct. 9, 2009)

Poor dears!  Poor me!  Of course the royal family could get by on a little less, but those palaces, yachts and jets need maintenance, so they have to think ahead.

This request for Saudi aid has come during negotiations for a world agreement to reduce carbon emissions, and an “Arab

A Saudi palace interior.

A Saudi palace interior.

environmental group IndyACT and the environmental group Germanwatch released a report today accusing Saudi Arabia of blocking key elements of the negotiations. Among their tactics, the groups said, was slowing negotiations by insisting that the economic woes of oil producers be included in the text.” (ibid)

That’s just the beginning of the Saudi’s arrogance.  The palace pictured at the top had to be demolished because it was too revered, and opulence  and prayer don’t mix, so the subjects demanded it’s destruction.  A member of the Saudi Royal family agreed to an interview in Las Vegas, having consumed a few drinks: “We’ll just build another one,” said Prince Himarshi al-Saud. (The Fig Tribune, May 22, 2009)

“…wallahi we’ll build the tallest freaking palace in the world in its place.”

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bat cat

Here in the clubby offices of The Curmudgeon, we are animal lovers.  We have written on this subject before so it’s no secret.  I can’t speak for the rest of the staff, but I, for one, am a dog lover, and as such am not particularly fond of cats.  And yet I own one.  He is, at times, not the nicest cat in the world, being a stray rescued from the “mean streets” and set in his wild and demanding ways.  You’d think he’d be grateful, but nooOOOOoooo.  In fact, My Evil Cat is Trying to Kill Me.

But even I am shocked at the recent goings on  in the United Kingdom, not at the behavior of a certain cat, but rather the wussiness of the Royal Mail Service.  According to the Weston Mercury, the mail delivery manager made a personal visit to notify the cat’s owner that unless their cat is restrained, they will cease to deliver mail to her address.  She was shocked.  “My cat wouldn’t hurt a fly,” she said.  Okay, that’s clearly a lie, for what cat can resist chasing a fly and knocking over everything it it’s path to get it.  But still, a fly is a far cry from a postman.

The cat, the delivery manager said, “as soon as it hears the letterbox, is straight out the cat-flap and attacks the post person.  Animal attacks are a major cause of injury to Royal Mail staff. If any further incidents of this nature are allowed to take place, I shall have no alternative other than to consider suspending the delivery of mail to your home.”  I can buy that most injuries to postmen are due to animal attacks, but cats?  In short, the cat “goes postal” on them.  Methinks I smell a rat.

So they performed an experiment.  The postal rep pretended to post something, but the cat didn’t do anything.  Just like a cat not to do it when it’s owners were around.  Cats are well known for their sneakiness and subterfuge.  But still, a cat?

I think the postal employees are a bunch of scaredy cats.  I certainly wouldn’t go to my supervisor whining about a little pussy beating me up.  And how many, exactly, postmen have reported this behavior?  One?  Two?  It makes a difference.  It could just be a bunch of Cat Hullabaloo.

I hope they get all this straightened out.

The postman doesn’t always ring twice.

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Model Filippa Hamilton.  Somebody give that girl a hamburger.

Model Filippa Hamilton. Somebody give that girl a hamburger.

Here in the fashionable offices of The Curmudgeon, the ladies are tres chic and the men dress sharp, everyone except me of course.  I’m more of a worn bluejeans and sweatshirt guy, more ratty than natty.  Lots of magazines devoted to attire come in the mail, and these contain lots and lots of advertisements.  In fact, it’s fairly obvious that these periodicals are little more than vehicles for pushing the latest products and clothing designer crap down our throats.  But they push something else down our throats too, namely, an impossible image of women.  Thin as breath with rice paper skin.

The debate has raged for years over this promotion of the “ideal” woman and its negative impact on young girls, and has been cited as major contributer to rampant anorexia and worse.  The advertisers, seemingly realizing their culpability, promise to stop glorifying the woman as waif.   “We’ll never do it again,” they cry, but they are lying.  They don’t change a thing, and in recent years the new controversy of photoshopping their ads to make the women appear even thinner, less wrinkly, and less…hungry?…has joined the fray.

Enter Ralph Lauren.  A Lauren advertisement (see above) was recently posted on the sites Photoshop Disasters, and  Boing Boing, who added the caption, “Dude, her head’s bigger than her pelvis.”  Ralphie didn’t like this blatant criticism and filed a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) against the two sites, claiming their use was copyright infringement and fell outside of “Fair use” laws.

Photoshop Disasters caved (spineless) and removed the image, but Boing Boing did not, and it’s well-worth reprinting their response:

“Copyright law doesn’t give you the right to threaten your critics for pointing out the problems with your offerings. You should know better. And every time you threaten to sue us over
stuff like this, we will:

  • a) Reproduce the original criticism, making damned sure that all our readers get a good, long look at it, and;
  • b) Publish your spurious legal threat along with copious mockery, so that it becomes highly ranked in search engines where other people you threaten can find it and take heart; and
  • c)Offer nourishing soup and sandwiches to your models.”

Take that, Ralphie boy.  You gotta love those guys.  The controversy isn’t exclusive to the U.S.  In Britain parliament recently proposed outlawing retouched advertising aimed at teens. Seems there was an uproar of an ad with legendary 59 year old skinny chick Twiggy, where she appeared with her wrinkles magically erased.

One thing I’ll say about photoshopped images is at least models can fake it and don’t actually have to have their lower ribs removed like women reportedly did in the 19th century (except that they didn’t.  According to Snopes, the myth was likely started by Florence Ziegfeld to promote actress Anna Held, and subsequently was attached to any famous woman who was very thin.  In the Victorian era, even the simplest of surgeries, not to mention anesthesia, was a complicated matter and many died.)

Anyway, the featured model’s waist is smaller than her head.  I hope she doesn’t get pregnant.  Where would she put the baby?

So I say to all you young women who are starving yourselves to achieve this sick (and unattractive) ideal, go eat a couple of hamburgers for crissake.

Now, who wants ice cream?

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