Unemployment Line or Lottery Winner?

I haven’t shared this publicly yet, but I’m being laid off (along with half of my department) from my employer of 17 years. Thankfully, I’ve been given lots of notice (I found out in October that my last day will be in July) and a nice severance package, but it’s obviously still not an easy process. I joined this company right out of college. I’m very loyal and probably would have spent my entire career there. But, it was not to be. That’s life, I get it.

I got into work with this employer through a prior summer internship, so there was no “real” search. So needless to say, my job searching skills are pretty lean. Today, I attended a job search workshop put on by the Idaho Department of Labor. They did a really good job and I picked up a lot of good tips. This is my first “real” job search ever, so all the help I can get it great.

At the beginning, we did the usual ice-breaker. You know, go around the room and introduce yourself (thanks for wasting my time). Now usually, you go around and tell a little bit about yourself, right? Well, not at this event. Here, we were asked to tell what we would do if we suddenly came into $50 million.   (sigh)   Okay, hold on. At a minimum, I’m going through an excruciating job search. Next best case is that I’m coming into the unemployment office each week to beg for my generous unemployment benefit. Worst case, I’m digging for left-over food out of a dumpster. So what do they do? They taunt me with the prospect of a $50 million windfall that would allow me to relax for the rest of my life. I don’t get it.

Which Celebrities Do I Look Like?

I recently ran across a website called MyHeritage. They allow you to create a family tree with photos. They also have facial recognition software. This can help you find lost relatives (by comparing your pictures with those uploaded by others), find out which relative you child looks most like, etc.

They also have some fun, free services. One of these allows you to upload your photo and it will generate the 8 celebrities you look the most like. You can see my result below.

Yes guys, it’s a cross I bear. I know that I look just like George Clooney. Hardly a day goes by that people don’t mistake me for him.

Okay, homework time. John and Bekki, which celebrities do you look most like?

The Worst Song Ever: I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates

Okay, I believe that I have stumbled upon the worst song ever recorded. It’s called “I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates (You’ve Got a Brand New Key)” by Melanie Safka.

Listen at your own risk–this song will keep you awake with it running through your head over and over.

Once you recover from listening to it, please check out the lyrics and tell me what the song is about. Is there some sort of hidden meaning?

I rode my bicycle past your window last night
I roller skated to your door at daylight
It almost seems like you’re avoiding me
I’m OK alone but you’ve got something I need, well

I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates
You’ve got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and
Try them on to see
I been lookin’ around awhile
You got something for me
Oh, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key

I ride my bike, I roller skate, don’t drive no car
Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far
For somebody who don’t drive, I been all around the world
Some people say I done all right for a girl

I asked your mother if you were at home
She said yes, but you weren’t alone
Oh, sometimes I think that you’re avoiding me
I’m OK alone but you got something I need, well

Childhood Flashback: Saturday Nights

As a child, I lived in a small town and we were pretty poor. So Saturday nights were pretty simple. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m actually thinking back on those nights with a great deal of fondness. The evening largely revolved around watching TV. Let’s take a look at the Saturday evening lineup that dominated most of my first 12 years:

  • Wild Kingdom: Marlin Perkins was a pioneer of wildlife shows filmed in the field. He set the stage for the many shows that would follow–arguably even the development of the Animal Planet network. I have always loved animals, so I enjoyed his weekly adventure in the wild. Having said that, he certainly was not as brave as people like Steve Irwin. Do you remember that he would be hovering in the safety of his helicopter while his staff would do much of the dirty, dangerous work? Just an observation. I also remember the annoying Mutual of Omaha (the show’s title sponsor) commercials . I can still hear the song to this day: “Mutual of Omaha is people…you can count on when the going’s rough.”
  • Hee Haw: This was a corny, but enjoyable, country variety show. It had a mix of country music, comedy skits, and corny jokes and puns. For most of the years, I enjoyed the corny entertainment. However, as my teen years approached, I also developed an appreciation for the buxom Southern belles that adorned the show.
  • Lawrence Welk: This was another variety show, but more sophisticated than Hee Haw (okay, that’s not saying much). It was also corny, but on a different level. I see it today and say to myself: “What were you thinking?” Yet every year, when PBS has it’s annual fundraiser, I find myself watching the Lawrence Welk special and enjoying the quick trip back 30 years.
  • Portland Wrestling: Prior to the 80s, “professional” wrestling was largely a local affair. Each large city had its own wrestling association. The matches were held in relatively shabby buildings. The wrestlers were gritty, working-class guys that just wanted to beat the crap out of each other. Of course, it was just as fake back then as today. However, it seemed more realistic than today’s highly commercialized, glamorous, wrestling productions. We lived in western Oregon at the time, so we tuned in to Portland Wrestling every Saturday night without fail. Throughout the 80s, these local venues slowly faded away. Very few of the wrestlers were able to make the transition to the new, highly polished package of the new professional wrestling. One notable exception was one that you might recognize. Former wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura got his start in Portland back in the 70s. I even have his autograph from attending a live event!

Another memorable part of Saturday night: popcorn. I’m not talking about microwave popcorn or a popcorn machine–I’m talking about cooking it in a pan! First, pour in enough oil to cover the pan bottom. Next, add the corn–but not too much or it will push the lid off during popping and popcorn will go every where. Once the corn starts to pop, slide the pan frenetically back and forth across the burner to keep it from burning. When the popping stops, dump the popcorn into a bowl. Top it off with melted butter and a few shakes of salt. It may just be fond memories, but I don’t think any of our “modern” methods of cooking popcorn has yet topped the popcorn I last had over 20 years ago now.

If you grew up during the 80s or after, this may have been a fairly boring post for you. But for those of you that lived through the 70s, I’m hoping that I was able to spark a fond memory that you haven’t thought about for awhile. Feel free to reply with your own Saturday night memories or post your own and give me a shout back.

She Inherited My Crappy Cooking Gene

I’m no genetic scientist, but I think that the crappy cooking gene must be dominant. The Wife is a wonderful cook, but as you heard earlier, I can burn water. Unfortunately, the Younger Daughter is following in my glorious footsteps. She wanted some macaroni and cheese recently. So she pulled a box of Easy Mac out of the pantry (remember now, easy is part of the name). She dumped the ingredients into a bowl, put it in the microwave, and fired that baby up. A few minutes later, a horrid smell filled the house. I mean this was really bad. Something along the lines of how smoldering cardboard might smell–only not that good.

I noticed smoke pouring out of the microwave, so opened the door and pulled the bowl out. Looking inside, I saw a very think, brown liquid along with some very nasty looking noodles. It was obvious that she had missed a step–that is, adding water. The noodles were actually starting to melt/burn. The microwave still really reeks, even after cleaning it. I’m not sure if the smell will ever disappear. (One last reminder: This was Easy Mac.)

You’re very welcome kids–no extra charge for the dysfunctional kitchen tendencies you got from me.

Clinton Campaign in Total Collapse

Okay, you’ve heard all the bizarre things Hillary has said over the last several days on TV and the debates. She is in total desperation mode now that she is starting to see the writing on the wall with her campaign. What you may not have seen is a couple of absolutely hideous videos.

The first one is a way too happy band that performs a song that sounds strangely like the Jackson 5’s ABC song. We never really see an audience, but there is massive applause and cheering at the end. Personally, I think they recorded the crowd reaction at an Obama rally and dubbed it into this video.

Next up is a song Sophie B. Hawkins did for the Clinton campaign. She adapted her song “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover”. In this song, it’s “Damn We Wish You Were Pres-i-dent.” Horrible.

Here’s Who You Should Vote For

Who should I vote for?

I’ve seen a lot of quizzes out there that are supposed to help you decide who to vote for, but most of them seem pretty seem pretty lame. However, I’ve found one that may be a step above the rest. No tool like this is perfect, but it may be a useful educational tool. It’s called Glassbooth. You start off by weighting 14 issues. You have 20 points in which to allocate among the issues. If you are a single-issue person, you can allocate all 20 point to one issue. Otherwise, spread around the points as you see fit.

When you are happy with your point allocations, you move on to the questions. The questions are chosen based on the issues that you allocated points to. Your answer is on a 5-point scale from Strongly Oppose to Strongly Support. Answer those question and you are given the top 3 candidates that match you the closest by percent.

From there, you can drill into each issue and find out why they agree or disagree with you. They support their assertions with speech quotes and actual votes on bills, so you can understand why they think you match up or don’t with a particular candidate.

You are not limited to evaluating the top 3. They give you the ability to look at how you match up with any of the current candidates and many of those that have dropped out.

In case you care about my quiz (I know you don’t), first here’s how I allocated my 20 points among the issues:

  • Medical Marijuana and Drug Policy: 0
  • Civil Liberties and Domestic Security: 3
  • Crime and Punishment: 0
  • Iraq and Foreign Policy: 3
  • Trade and Economics: 2
  • Environment and Energy: 2
  • Gun Control: 0
  • Immigration: 3
  • Health Care: 0
  • Social Security: 4
  • Taxes and Budget: 3
  • Education: 0
  • Gay Rights: 0
  • Abortion and Birth Control: 0

Here are the top three candidates it spit out based on my answers to the subsequent questions:

  • Mike Huckabee: 71%
  • Ron Paul: 65%
  • John McCain: 65%

I checked out the other two remaining candidates to see how I match up with them:

  • Hillary Clinton: 44%
  • Barack Obama: 38%

I’d be interested in seeing what John and anyone else interested comes up with on this quiz.

Warming Parental Flashback

The Older Daughter was washing her comforter this evening, but it didn’t get dry before bedtime. She headed to bed, but asked me bring it in after it was dry, throw it over her, and tuck her in. I smiled. I was more than happy to oblige. This is something that I haven’t had the privilege of doing for a lot of years.

If you have followed me for awhile, you know that I sometimes miss having younger kids and some of the mundane rituals that went along with it. Just a few minutes ago, I took the nice, warm comforter out of the dryer, put it gently over her, and tucked it in around her. Then I gave her a kiss on the forehead and whispered “I love you” into her ear. It was priceless and made my day.

Friday, February 22, 2008: The End of the World?

This has been a really freaky week with “natural” events in the west. Let’s take a look at what has happened so far:

At this rate, I fully expect tomorrow to be the end of the world.

Earthquake!

The Wife called me at 7:23am and asked “Did you feel it?” I had no idea what she was talking about. Apparently she was sitting at a stoplight in Meridian, Idaho on her way home from work when her truck started shaking. She looked around for a big truck coming down the road that might cause the shaking, but saw nothing. Then she saw that the stoplights were bobbing up and down.

What she felt was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake that occurred 11 miles northeast of Elko, Nevada, 6 miles below the surface. The temblor was felt throughout northern Nevada, southern Idaho, and northern Utah. Cracked walls were reported at the Motel 6 in Wells, Nevada. Unfortunately, it sounds like there will be many more reports forthcoming of property damage in the immediate Wells area.

Oregon Special Edition Barbie Dolls

If you are not familiar with Oregon, some of the humor of this post may be lost on you. However, you should be able to identify with areas in your own state where these special edition Barbies could be easily adapted. Feel free to create your own and post to your blog. By the way, for reference, I lived my first 12 years in Lebanon, Oregon and had relatives in Sweet Home. Now you’ll understand what I’m up against just based on my early years.

Mattel recently announced the release of the improved limited-edition Barbie Dolls for the Oregon market:

Lake Oswego Barbie

This princess Barbie is sold only at the Pioneer Square Mall. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version.
 

Beaverton Barbie

The modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full-time occupation. Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately.

Woodburn Barbie

This recently paroled Bilingual Barbie comes with a 9 mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a Meth Lab Kit. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash (preferably small, untraceable bills) unless you are a cop, then we don’t know what you are talking about.

Bend Barbie

This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won’t be able to afford any of them.

Sweet Home Barbie

This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt and tweety bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams, Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken’s butt when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.

Lebanon Barbie

This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Sweet Home Barbie’s house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter-top; also available with a mobile home.

Eugene Barbie

This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, arch-less feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her Willow. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Eugene Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.

North Portland Barbie

This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant dolls from two different races. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his 1979 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the second infant.

Also don’t miss, Idaho Special Edition Barbie Dolls

1968 Retrospect: New Words

The English language is always evolving. New words are added and others slowly fade away. In 1968, The World Book choose words to be added to the 1969 edition of its dictionary. These words were no doubt in use for several years prior to 1968, but they finally gained common enough acceptance to finally be recognized.

It’s quite a long list, but I have pared it down to the more interesting ones. Below are some that you will certainly recognize, then some that never quite caught on.

Here are some words that you will certainly recognize:

  • arm twister
  • ax grinder
  • beefcake
  • brain-picking
  • character assassination
  • day-tripper
  • diploma mill
  • fertility drug
  • guinea-pig
  • handgun
  • hippie
  • in-joke (now inside joke of course)
  • instant replay
  • meat-and-potatoes
  • Medicaid
  • plain-Jane
  • R and R
  • speed reading
  • trendsetter
  • tween
  • zap

Here are some that apparently didn’t catch on after all. (Warning: a few of these are racial insensitive and rightly no longer used. They are only here as a historical study.)

  • Bob’s your uncle – you know the rest; that’s all there is to it
  • breen – a brown-tinted green color
  • Chinese homer – a home run made on a hit that travels only a short distance
  • daymare – an experience that is like a bad dream
  • GUM – state-operated department store in the Soviet Union
  • nebbish – a drab, clumsly, inconsequential person
  • nudnik – a tiresome, annoying person
  • rice Christian – an Asian or African native who converts to Christianity soley to receive food provided by missionaries
  • roadeo – a contest or exhibition of skill in driving automobiles, trucks, etc.
  • slanguage – slangy language
  • squaw winter – a brief period of prematurely cold weather in early autumn
  • telephonitis – an excessive or abnormal urge to make telephone calls

Dad: Now the Preferred Search Engine?

I received a call from the Older Daughter today, but was at work and could not take the call immediately. When I called her back, she answered with “Nevermind, I found what I needed on Google.”

You may remember in a previous post that I was lamenting being reduced to a taxi driver and banker. But now, I guess I’m a search engine also. Initially I was bothered that she didn’t want to take the time to go search on the computer. But maybe I should be flattered to be her search engine of choice–at least in this one instance.  🙂

1968 Retrospect: Gun Control

The recent tragic shootings will no doubt once again raise the debate on gun control. It is interesting to note that there was very little gun control in the United States prior to 1968.

However, let’s take a look at the nationwide gun control legislation prior to 1968:

  • 1927: The first nationwide gun control law passed, banning the mailing of handguns.
  • 1934: Fully automated firearms are heavily regulated, owners are required register, and heavy transfer taxes are imposed.
  • 1938: The first broad legislation impacting all guns. Guns dealers were required to be federally licensed and keep records of who purchased guns. Violent felons were prohibited from owning firearms.

Then on October 22nd, 1968 the strongest gun control legislation in US history was passed. The Gun Control Act of 1968 included the following provisions:

  • The mail-order sale of all firearms was prohibited except between licensed manufacturers, dealers, and collectors.
  • The importation of non-sporting (i.e. military grade) weaponry is prohibited.
  • Firearms sales are prohibited to those who are convicted of any non-business felony, are mentally incompetent, or use drugs.
  • Sales of handguns were prohibited to those under 21, and other guns were prohibited to those under 18.

Imagine that: Just 40 years ago, your 15-year-old son could go out and buy a handgun!

A Porsche as a Ranch Vehicle?

The Porsche Cayenne is a luxury mid-sized SUV that was introduced in 2003. The Turbo has a 4.8 liter, 500 horse power engine than can go from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds. Porsche also touts it’s off-road capabilities with its amazing traction and stability systems. The “stripped-down” model starts at $43,400, while the Turbo goes for $93,700.

Oh, I forgot to mention the towing capacity–12,000 pounds for the Turbo model. I saw one in action today, and now I have seen everything. Yes, I should just close up shop with this blog because this has to be the last interesting thing I ever experience. A saw…a Porsche…towing…a horse trailer.

 porsche1.jpg

The $2,200 Burger

Bryan Sampson just wanted a quick, cheap meal for his family. So he sent his wife to a Burger King in Meridian, Idaho. Sounds like a great Saturday afternoon meal right? Well, it was until he checked his bank account the next day and found that he had been charged $2,243.33 for a $22.43 meal!

He went back to the restaurant to get the problem resolved. However, the bk2.jpgassistant manager on duty cancelled the debit charge rather than reversing it. Apparently, this causes the charge to still show pending for 3 days. To make matters worse, the manager is out of town until Tuesday and apparently no one can fix it. Meanwhile, as of Sunday, Sampson has 7 overdraft charges (at $35 a pop) and rising on his account.

This is not the first time Burger King has done this. In 2006, they charged a man in Glendale, California $4,334.33 for a $4.33 meal. Now I get it–people make mistakes. But that’s why they should have safeguards in place for this. It would be a unique to each restaurant, but there should be an upper limit above which it prompts the cashier to confirm that the amount is correct. For Burger King, $50 would be a good limit before it requires confirmation. Of course, this just makes too much sense.

Foot in Mouth Disease

I have definitely said a few things that I regretted almost immediately–foot in the mouth moments I guess. Thankfully, I believe the number and severity of such incidents has declined exponentially over the years. This is borne out by the fact that the two worst ones (and they are really bad) occurred over 20 years ago when I was a senior in high school.

This guy sitting behind my in health class was a complete jerk. Constant rude, obnoxious comments–just wouldn’t shut up. Very annoying. One day, I turned around and said to him: “You are the most annoying person I know. I bet your family wants to kill themselves.” Yeah…turns out his brother had committed suicide the previous year. I just didn’t know him that well and didn’t make the connection with the last name.

Our band took a fleet of school buses down to Disneyland during my senior year (I guess airplanes had not been invented yet). Somehow I ended up on the wrong bus. I was stuck for 24 hours on a yellow school bus with the bus driver from the very bowels of hell. If you look up grouchy in the dictionary, you’ll see her picture. Go ahead and check…I’ll wait. Finally, I couldn’t keep it inside anymore. I looked over to the girl in the next seat and said: “Oh, I hate our bus driver. She is so rude.” Yeah…as luck would have it, I was talking to the bus driver’s daughter.

What, Now I Can’t Bring My Grenades onto the Plane?

A member of the military was arrested today after trying to go through airport security with two grenades in Yakima, Washington. Okay, they were training grenades. They had live fuses but no explosives in them. But really, what was this guy thinking? I know, I know, it was probably an “honest mistake”–pipe down. But was it really an honest mistake?

When I pack for a flight, I first go through each pocket of the luggage and remove everything. That way, I know I’m starting off legal. Then as I’m packing, I’m thinking about each item to make sure it’s going to pass happily through security. Once the kids are finished packing, I do my own separate security search of their bags. They last thing I need is a full body cavity search from an oh-so-friendly TSA agent brought on by the kids loading up their luggage with guns, bombs, and knives–just to see how much fun it is to get dad in trouble.

Sorry, I don’t give this guy a pass. For the privilege of flying, you need to take a few extra minutes to exercise some responsibility in how and what you pack.

Uplifting Thought for the Day

Always keep this in mind: every day is better than the next.  🙂

The Death of 24?

I discovered 24 about 3 years ago. I rented the DVDs and loved them. I watched the past couple of seasons pretty much live (instead of the usual TiVo I do with other shows) with the Older Daughter and loved it. Last season kind of sucked, but I had hopes that season 7 would turn things around. Then we had the writer’s strike, Kiefer Sutherland spent time in jail, then we found out that 24 would be delayed to 2009, and now we find out that co-creator/executive producer Joel Surnow has left 24. Is there any chance that 2009 isn’t 24’s last season?