Buffalo Bulletin bloggers

The Bulletin staff sound off on local issues, pop culture, and everything else under the sun. Read posts by staffers and write comments of your own.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I hate to say I told you so, but ...

The Deseret News reported Thursday, Oct. 9, that a beneficiary of the federal government's bailouts is going on an expensive junket at Half Moon Bay, Calif. I've driven through Half Moon Bay and can attest it's a playground for the rich and shameless.
"American International Group Inc., castigated by the White House, Congress and Barack Obama for hosting a $440,000 conference days after an $85 billion federal bailout, plans to hold another gathering for brokers next week," the Deseret News reported. "President Bush didn't push for the bailout 'to help top executives go to a spa,' White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Wednesday at the daily press briefing. Hours later, the Federal Reserve agreed to lend AIG an additional $37.8 billion on top of the initial $85 billion."
Not to beat a populist drum here, but ... OK, maybe it's time to beat a populist drum. I wrote earlier about how the $700 billion bailout package initially resisted but ultimately passed by Congress was selling the American taxpayer down the river. Nothing in this report causes me to reverse that earlier judgment.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

For what it's worth....

If you are feeling mired down in the political and financial news of the day, I humbly offer some lighter reading.

Turns out a University of Cambridge researcher has been studying the personality traits of Americans and he's created the first ever "personality map." The map, he says, helps explain why certain people tend to live and flourish in certain parts of the country.

"What is particularly impressive is that the results show the effects of personality on people's social habits, values and lifestyles are so pronounced that they have an impact on much bigger social forces," said lead researcher Dr. Jason Rentfrow, who was born in America.

Of local interest, Wyoming residents were rated third lowest in the country on a trait called aggreeableness, which encompasses compassion, friendliness and cooperativeness. We also were dead last in conscientiousness, a trait that includes responsibility and self-discipline. And we were in the bottom five in terms of openness, which is said to include curiosity and creativity.

On the up side, we weren't rated as neurotic.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My interpretation of Family Circus

In last Sunday's family circus America's favorite prankster, little Billy, took hold of the pencil in an attempt to entertain us all with his ill-handled grasp of the English language.
In a series of misunderstandings Billy highlights the understated shortcomings of the standardized American education system.
An example:
Billy writes that his definition of the word winner is and, I quote directly, "comes after Autumn". 
While the misconception might be amusing, any laughter at this young man's antics directly undercuts the seriousness of the case in point.
In terms of intelligence, America is falling behind.
This is undoubtely the motivation behind Bil Keane's submission of the cartoon.
I'm certain that Mr. Keane fully realizes his position where he is given open access to the hearts and minds of the American public.
And what does the man choose to do with his level of esteem?
Does he use it to post drivel, to drive pap?
No. The man takes a stand. 
He gets on his overarching pulpit and shouts to the national masses that Americans are being shortchanged.
The tax dollars spent on public education are going to waste.
Our children aren't learning the basic foundations of the english language. 
They are missing out on the building blocks of logic and are thusly being thrust into an accelerated work force ill-equipped and under-prepared. 
But what can be done?
I'm not one for solutions. I'm just a man of keen insight and deep understanding of cartoons. 
I can only hope that in Mr. Keanes following submission he gives immediate answer to this pressing question.

Ingrown toenails and paraffin wax

It was a little awkward walking through the door of the salon at 10 in the morning. It was coming in head on at a hair-roller rush hour, with women in curlers reading "Vogue" and the roar of hair dryers trying in vain to drown out the morning banter.
My entrance, complete with unkempt beard and dirty Levi's, was noticed and came with a hint of self-consciousness.
Thankfully, I was escorted through the melee by my buddy Lorie before I had to explain myself to the gawking crowd.
Led to her office in the back, Lorie explained the gist of her operation.
As an esthetician, she's trained as an expert of the outer workings of the body. After some coaxing a few weeks back, she'd convinced me to expand my horizons and come in for a pedicure. I feigned disinterest but finally gave in. "It's not only red nail polish," she said. My hopes were dashed.
The small room adjacent to the salon was dominated by the pedicure throne. At the foot of the chair, a miniature spa was a bubbling cauldron of scorching water.
Still a little nervous, I took my seat and dipped my toes in the tub. The streams of bubbles massaged my stinky dogs and I was thankful to have them submerged before Lorie had come face to foot with the foul odor.
The entire process was an hour and a half of files, clippers, lotions and wax. I'd been growing out my toenails especially long for the occasion, hoping Lorie would be able to show me the "proper" way to cut them.
We chatted while she blunted the tops and edges of my nails. She also lectured me on not drying in between my toes after showering and for letting a planters wart on my fingers go unchecked.
The treatment culminated in an almost solemn ceremony where I dipped both of my feet in paraffin wax, had them wrapped in plastic bags, and sat in silence for 10 minutes while the wax seeped into my pores.
All in all, the experience gave me insight into a world I'd never known (or thought I'd knew). Undoubtedly, the pampering is no less masculine than getting a massage in a plush spa.
In my case, though, that sort of attention has always made me uncomfortable. Lorie is a knowledgeable professional who provides fabulous service with an attention to detail. But for me, I think I might be a little more comfortable sticking with the needlenose pliers.

Okay, this made me laugh...

If you had purchased $1,000 of Delta Air Lines stock one year ago you would have $49 left.

With Enron, you would have had $16.50 left of the original $1,000.

With WorldCom, you would have had less than $5.00 left.

But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND, you would have $214.00 cash.

Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle. It’s called the 401-Keg.

A recent study found the average American walks about 900 miles a year. Another study found Americans drink, on the average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year.

That means, on average, Americans get about 41 miles to the gallon.

Okay, I admit it. I have a bit of a problem.

I've become totally and completely addicted. Not really all that surprising as I've always believed I have a pretty serious addictive personality. You name it, I'll find something new and dive in so deeply, so intensely that I often lose a bit of perspective. It doesn't really matter what my addiction du jour is, I will find a way to completely overdo it.

This time it is my addiction to the upcoming national presidential election. This particular addiction is keeping me up at nights, sending me into the sweats and chills and nauseous moments that almost have me fetal. If I am away from any source of constant news updates I start to withdrawl. It's a sickness and I admit it.

I don't know where this constant need to be on top of this news cycle beast has come from. I am not an undecided voter - I've been sure of my vote and my candidate for some time now. I don't know why I feel this need to gorge myself on the dark and dirty secrets of campaign management but it has almost completely taken over my life.

I personally have watched both debates at least a dozen times, examining every nuanced statement. I have recorded all the Sunday morning news shows and watch and re-watch them. I can barely focus on work today wondering how the presidential debate will go tonight. And yes, I realize what this sounds like. I'm a nutter.

The good news is that I am down to less than a month of this and my addiction can be put to bed or at least to rest. Thank goodness November 4 is just around the bend. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up.

High school eating habits

In a retrospective way, it was both amusing and disconcerting to watch Buffalo High School students gorge themselves at Homecoming. In a Monday night competition on the high school football field, the kids scarfed down exotic combinations such as barbecue sauce and Skittles or mayo and chocolate chips (although one student balked at eating this latter mix). It was unnerving because I remember when I could eat anything at any time and actually wonder why I didn't gain weight. (OK, I really didn't wonder anything, I was a teenager.) The joys of a young person's metabolism are to be relished while they last. So, high schoolers, wolf down those treats and fast-food meals. Then, hope that future innovators come up with tasty and satisfying new foods that don't clog the arteries or add to the waistline. Otherwise, you, too, will look back with fondness at a time when you could indulge at your leisure and know that your body would repel the calories.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Books O'Plenty

I must admit to a serious book addiction: cookbooks, paperbacks, best sellers, classics, poetry. You name it, I'd probaby like to read it. And not just read it, buy it and bring it home to read. This system of bingeing on books was OK when I was single and living alone. But, when I married and made my home with a fellow bibliophile, our bookshelves overfloweth. And then we added a kiddo to the mix, and darned if she didn't want some books too.

A massive purge was in order. We uncovered boxes and boxes of books in all corners of our house (and garage): paperback books I read for English classes that I'll probably never read again; travel guides to destinations we visited but aren't likely to revisit; foreign language dictionaries; cookbooks for cuisines neither of us really enjoy; the list went on.

After we'd rounded up the books, the very obvious question became: now what? Then I heard about Paperback Swap--a free Web site that allows you list books you'd like to get rid of. In turn, when you send out books you no longer want, you earn credits that you can use to request new-to-you books.

PaperBackSwap.com began in 2004 as a way for book readers to share their already-read books with each other via the Internet. Since then it has grown enormously with a library of over 2.2 million books, which includes paperbacks, hard covers and audio books. To date over 2 million books have been swapped successfully through the U.S. mail with an average of over 35,000 book swaps each week.

Check it out!