Monday, November 30, 2009

It's not the snow, it's the assholes.

And so it has begun. Wednesday 11/25 marked the beginning of a month of you all hearing me bitch about the lights. If I throw my hat into the "War on Christmas" ring this year, it will be solely prompted by the blasted Christmas lights. What a bloody waste of time, money, energy and resources... But if you want to Griswold your house up for one month of the year, fine. Have at. It doesn't really affect anyone else. Except that, oh wait, it does! And it's not your lights and it's not your holidays or your Christianity or any of that. No, it's the assholes.
You like to drive around and look at lights? Great. But when you do, could you possibly try to remember that you are driving? On a street? You know, where other people might be driving?! Yeah, I'm just suggesting that you might want to keep an eye on the road instead of both eyes on the lights. That way, you don't have to slam on your breaks and hammer your horn and glare and flip the bird at people who are just trying to get home and might be expecting you to pay attention to your driving. Good? K, thx.

And today, Monday 11/30, we had our first spotting of snow flakes here at work -accompanied by the first grumblings and bitchings about said snow, even though it's practically December, people! And we live in upstate New York. It's supposed to be snowing! And to be fair, snow is pretty. See, it's not the snow that bothers me. It's supposed to snow during the winter. It's not the cold. I have cold weather gear. It's not the potential for storms and power outages -see, I know what to expect from a Rochester winter and I have a snow brush and shovel, we have a generator, we have emergency food and water. No, it's none of those things that bother me during the winter. Once again, it's the assholes.
You know you live in upstate New York, right? You know it's going to snow, right? It does it EVERY year. So can you explain to me why the first snowfall of the year makes you drive like you've never seen snow before? Come on, people, if you can't drive in the snow then get off the road! And is it really appropriate to stock up the day before a big storm is predicted? Wouldn't it maybe make more sense to already have your supplies on hand? And maybe could you quit bitching about the weather that is the same every damn year, and just try to appreciate the beauty of the turning of the year? Maybe just a little?

Also, you know, Christmas. The war on it and all that. I'm an atheist, but I don't get all pissy and offended when people choose to celebrate Christmas or when they wish me a 'merry Christmas.' What does bother me, unsurprisingly, is the assholes. The people who think it's their business what holiday anyone else celebrates (or doesn't), the people who flat-out say that everyone should be a Christian and misunderstand the entire origin of the holiday, the country and the Constitution... Guess what, folks? It's pagan! They're secular! So, shut up and celebrate in your own way, already, and I'll celebrate in mine.
Celebrate your holiday any way you want, with all the lights and presents* and hypocrisy* you want. Have at. Just don't be an asshole about it. Hmm?

In conclusion, dear readers, do me a favor this season and don't be an asshole. Otherwise, I'm gonna have to beat you.

*another topic for another post

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

excerpt of thanks

Excerpt from Robert Green Ingersoll's Thanksgiving Sermon of 1897.

Whom shall we thank? Standing here at the close of the 19th century -- amid the trophies of thought -- the triumphs of genius -- here under the flag of the Great Republic -- knowing something of the history of man -- here on this day that has been set apart
for thanksgiving, I most reverently thank the good men. the good women of the past, I thank the kind fathers, the loving mothers of the savage days. I thank the father who spoke the first gentle word, the mother who first smiled upon her babe. I thank the first true friend. I thank the savages who hunted and fished that they and their babes might live. I thank those who cultivated the ground and changed the forests into farms -- those who built rude homes and watched the faces of their happy children in the glow of fireside flames -- those who domesticated horses, cattle and sheep -- those who invented wheels and looms and taught us to spin and weave -- those who by cultivation changed wild grasses into wheat and corn, changed bitter things to fruit, and worthless weeds to flowers, that sowed within our souls the seeds of art. I thank the poets of the dawn -- the tellers of legends -- the makers of myths -- the singers of joy and grief, of hope and love. I thank the artists who chiseled forms in stone and wrought with light and shade the face of man. I thank the philosophers, the thinkers, who taught us how to use our minds in the great search for truth. I thank the astronomers who explored the heavens, told us the secrets of the stars, the glories of the constellations -- the geologists who found the story of the world in fossil forms, in memoranda kept in ancient rocks, in lines written by waves, by frost and fire -- the anatomists who sought in muscle, nerve and bone for all the mysteries of life -- the chemists who unraveled Nature's work that they might learn her art -- the physicians who have laid the hand of science on the brow of pain, the hand whose magic touch restores -- the surgeons who have defeated Nature's self and forced her to preserve the lives of those she labored to destroy.

I thank the discoverers of chloroform and ether, the two angels who give to their beloved sleep, and wrap the throbbing brain in the soft robes of dreams. I thank the great inventors -- those who gave us movable type and the press, by means of which great thoughts and all discovered facts are made immortal -- the inventors of engines, of the great ships, of the railways, the cables and telegraphs. I thank the great mechanics, the workers in iron and steel, in wood and stone. I thank the inventors and makers of the numberless things of use and luxury.

I thank the industrious men, the loving mothers, the useful women. They are the benefactors of our race.

The inventor of pins did a thousand times more good than all the popes and cardinals, the bishops and priests -- than all the clergymen and parsons, exhorters and theologians that ever lived.

The inventor of matches did more for the comfort and convenience of mankind than all the founders of religions and the makers of all creeds -- than all malicious monks and selfish saints.

I thank the honest men and women who have expressed their sincere thoughts, who have been true to themselves and have preserved the veracity of their souls.

I thank the thinkers of Greece and Rome. Zeno and Epicurus, Cicero and Lucretius. I thank Bruno, the bravest, and Spinoza, the subtlest of men.

I thank Voltaire, whose thought lighted a flame in the brain of man, unlocked the doors of superstition's cells and gave liberty to many millions of his fellow-men. Voltaire -- a name that sheds light. Voltaire -- a star that superstition's darkness cannot quench.

I thank the great poets -- the dramatists. I thank Homer and Aeschylus, and I thank Shakespeare above them all. I thank Burns for the heart-throbs he changed into songs. for his lyrics of flame. I thank Shelley for his Skylark, Keats for his Grecian Urn and Byron for his Prisoner of Chillon. I thank the great novelists. I thank the great sculptors. I thank the unknown man who molded and chiseled the Venus de Milo. I thank the great painters. I thank Rembrandt and Corot. I thank all who have adorned, enriched and ennobled life -- all who have created the great, the noble, the heroic and artistic ideals.

I thank the statesmen who have preserved the rights of man. I thank Paine whose genius sowed the seeds of independence in the hearts of '76. I thank Jefferson whose mighty words for liberty have made the circuit of the globe. I thank the founders, the defenders, the saviors of the Republic. I thank Ericsson, the greatest mechanic of his century, for the monitor. I thank Lincoln for the Proclamation. I thank Grant for his victories and the vast host that fought for the right, -- for the freedom of man. I thank them all -- the living and the dead.

I thank the great scientists -- those who have reached the foundation, the bed-rock -- who have built upon facts -- the great scientists, in whose presence theologians look silly and feel malicious.

The scientists never persecuted, never imprisoned their fellow-men. They forged no chains, built no dungeons, erected no scaffolds -- tore no flesh with red hot pincers -- dislocated no joints on racks, crushed no hones in iron boots -- extinguished no eyes -- tore out no tongues and lighted no fagots. They did not pretend to be inspired -- did not claim to be prophets or saints or to have been born again. They were only intelligent and honest men. They did not appeal to force or fear. They did not regard men as slaves to be ruled by torture, by lash and chain, nor as children to be cheated with illusions, rocked in the cradle of an idiot creed and soothed by a lullaby of lies.

They did not wound -- they healed. They did not kill -- they lengthened life. They did not enslave -- they broke the chains and made men free. They sowed the seeds of knowledge, and many millions have reaped, are reaping, and will reap the harvest: of joy.

I thank Humboldt and Helmholtz and Haeckel and Buchner. I thank Lamarck and Darwin -- Darwin who revolutionized the thought of the intellectual world. I thank Huxley and Spencer. I thank the scientists one and all.

I thank the heroes, the destroyers of prejudice and fear -- the dethroners of savage gods -- the extinguishers of hate's eternal fire -- the heroes, the breakers of chains -- the founders of free states -- the makers of just laws -- the heroes who fought and fell on countless fields -- the heroes whose dungeons became shrines -- the heroes whose blood made scaffolds sacred -- the heroes, the apostles of reason, the disciples of truth, the soldiers of freedom -- the heroes who held high the holy torch and filled the world with light.

With all my heart I thank them all.


Friday, November 20, 2009

more getting-my-nerd-on

Speaking of nerd-dom, I just celebrated my 30th birthday (no, not my "dirty thirty," as there was no mud wrestling or dust storm or anything, just a regular old birthday like any other birthday except this one had a nice round number -which I am doing my best to emulate with my dietary habits of late) and man, I got my nerd on.

My beloved indulged me with a trip to the planet-arium so we could watch Cosmic Disasters and snicker at all the sillies who buy into the 2012 b.s. (more on that from my corn crap blog post), and then to the Titanic exhibit and the Rochester Museum and Science Center. That was really interesting, and sad of course.

But don't worry, it wasn't all nerdness and smrts. We went to the final Roc City Roller Derby bout of the season (which is an entire other kind of geek-out) on Saturday and to see Zombieland (which is a whole other kind of kick ass!!) on Sunday.

I highly recommend doing all of these things, whether it's your birthday or not, although it does make for a great excuse.

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

Did I ever tell you about the time...

Did I ever tell you about the time we visited Cleveland? No, not the character from Family Guy, the actual city in Ohio, the one named for General Moses Cleaveland (yes, we've been spelling it wrong all these years). No? I didn't tell you. Blast. I totally meant to. I musta got all caught up in my nannerversary and mah birfday and the news of the world and whatnot. My bad.

So, yeah, at the end of summer my beloved and I took a day trip down to Cleveland in his kickass new grumbly GXP. The point of the trip was to visit the A Christmas Story House and Museum (and gift shop!), and since the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in in Cleveland, too, we figured we'd stop there as well.

The story in "A Christmas Story" took place in Indiana, but Indiana had changed too much by 1983 when they made the movie, so the director (Bob Clark) sent out location scouts for the exterior shots and they decided that this house, in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland's west side, was the house that best fit.
Of course, the house was a duplex at the time, so those scenes looking into the front room where the leg lamp is proudly displayed? Yeah, that was someone's bedroom.

So anyway, we took a tour of the house and learned the history of the house and how the current owner (Brian Jones) bought it off of E-bay without even seeing it, how he had to gut the whole place and recreated the interior as best he could to match the movie scenes. And there's a gift shop so we could get some loot. Plus, there's a museum of memorabilia across the street with props and photos and elves and everything. Wait, elves? Yep. Elves. Patty Johnson (Lafontaine), who played the head elf (you know "come on, kid!") in the Santa Visit scene, was there signing autographs. Jim Morelavitz, who helped deliver The Major Award in the movie and basically babysat the child actors during the filming, was also there. An obscure but informative addition -especially since she told us we couldn't leave Cleveland without visiting the Great Lakes Science Center.

The what? Science, what? I won't lie, my brain got a nerd boner right then.

Turns out, right next to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is in fact the Great Lakes Science Center. We hit the Rock Hall first and my first and loudest reaction is WHAT A FREAKING WASTE OF SPACE!!! Don't get me wrong, it was cool. There's a lot of neat stuff there and the exhibits are cool (if cramped and crowded) and if you're in Cleveland or passing through anyway (and now that you know that the A Christmas Story house is there, too, why wouldn't you go?!), you should stop and see the Hall. Watch out, though, it's damn expensive. And I have to say, maybe if they hadn't built half the walls out of glass, their HVAC bills would be lower and they could charge less... So yeah. Cool stuff, but a bad use of space and a bad design over all.
There was a special Bruce Springsteen exhibit at the tippy top of the museum, which was way better than the Kiss exhibit we were somehow afraid might be there. FSM, I hate Kiss.

But then there was the Great Lakes Science Center (insert choir-of-angels-like-ahhhhhhhhhhh! here). Oh, the Great Lakes Science Center. Right on Lake Erie, it's a big ol' science museum with an Omnimax theatre. We saw Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk (GORGEOUS -get it?) and went through the museum. Specifically, they had an exhibit on Charles Darwin for the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of "On the Origin of Species." Perfect timing for our visit! And there was a renewable energy exhibit and all the regular awesomeness that is museum stuff.

Yeah, totally got my nerd on.

Plus, the cafeteria at the science center recycles pretty much everything and even uses compostable utensils. Granted, it has to be composted professionally because of the high-heat required to actually ensure that they do compost, but the idea is a nice start anyway.

Plus, dinner at the Texas Roadhouse in Erie, PA. Mmmmmm, bread.

And then the drive home. Interestingly, as soon as we crossed the border into New York State and began driving on toll roads, it was potholes galore. Ahhh, our tax dollars at work... Although, to be fair, driving from W 11th St to the science center kind of tried to kick the GXP's ass, too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

There's corn crap on the radiator!! We're all going to die!!!

Well, we ARE all going to die. Eventually. Some people will die in 2012. Some people will even die on 12/21/12. But a global or galactic apocalypse or catastrophe or consciousness-changing? No. And I should know. I took a course called "Ancient Languages and the 2012 Prophecies."

But don't believe me. Read it for yourself:
* Information right from NASA.
* NY Times article: Doomsday? Yes. In 2012? No. "If you want to worry, most scientists say, you should think about global climate change, rogue asteroids or nuclear war." Bazinga.
* Fact vs. Fiction picked up at the Strasenburgh Planetarium on 11/14/2009.
* Chart for Believers vs. Skeptics.
* Skeptic's Guide to the Universe H1N1 special report.
* TVsquad review of a SyFy program about 2012 -as usual, more Fy than Sy, plus Richard Hoagland, who is a whole different bundle of crazy. Point: "If the Mayans were so adept at looking centuries into the future to predict the end of the world, why weren't they clairvoyant enough to foresee the end of their long-extinct civilization and prevent its collapse?"
* If you believe, experts say you're off base.
* What actual Mayans are saying about 2012.
* Heck, even Foreign Policy gets in on the act.
* And of course we can always rely on the ever-accurate Has the Large Hadron Collider Destroyed the World Yet?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I got shot! In both arms!!

I'm one of those people who feels it's important to practice what one preaches, so to speak. I can't really make a convincing argument against plastic water bottles or mountain top removal or for line-drying clothes or for the five things you should buy organic if I'm not even following my own advice.

That said, it is with great pride and not a speck of humility that I announce I got my H1N1 (other wise known as the it's-made-from-people!) vaccine on Thursday. Since I have asthma and was under thirty at the time (that's right, ladies, it's my birthday and I am shaking that healthy butt), I met the high risk criteria and luckily my doctor's office had some that had not yet been spoken for.

While I was there, I also got my (unbeknownst to me...) long-overdue Tdap. So now I can chew on rusty nails and hold whooping cranes and can avoid that otherwise unpleasant coma-leading-to-death thing.

My report? As expected, my Tdap arm hurts like hell (I mean, it sure as shit wasn't a love injection...), but my H1N1 arm is actually quite fine. And so far, no autism. No psychogenic movement disorder. No Guillain-Barre syndrome.

As I've said before, "You don't have to believe me, but you should talk to your doctor about any concerns you have for your health and the health of your family. That's what your doctor is there for: to help you make wise medical decisions and, unlike homeopathy or other "natural" and "alternative" remedies, to ensure that the care you receive is well-tested and evidence-based."

I guess I'm just one of those crazy people who trusts her doctor above ignorant screaming celebrities and long-debunked sham "studies." And you should be, too.