Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Baltimore City Fire Department wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season

Today at the butcher, I saw a sign from the fire department with some handy tips on how to avoid menorah fires and latke fires, because the BCFD wants everyone to enjoy a happy, healthy Channukah. And also, you just have to appreciate the notices that get put up in assorted kosher and otherwise Jewish emporia.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I have been on a quest for the past few days to find puzzles (or just one that doesn't suck, really). I've been in the mood for a puzzle, and not having any in the house, I had to go out and get one. The Pikesville Barnes and Noble only had one, of the cover to the White Album, and as much fun as putting together a white square seems.... Anyway, the Pikesville Target - no puzzles at all. The Ellicott City Barnes and Noble, only Christmas puzzles, and I'm just not that into angels or Baby Jesus. The Timonium Borders, also only Christmas themes. The Towson Barnes and Noble, Christmas and the White Album (I'm not sure how that became a thing that people wanted to do). The Towson mall (yes I went to the mall in the days just before Christmas, because this is the level of my desire) no longer has any stores that even sell puzzles - when I was younger, they had several. Finally, I found some at the Towson Target. The selection wasn't that good, so I may have to continue on my quest, but at least I am sated for a while. But in general, I don't understand why puzzles are so hard to find. They're awesome and they make for good gifts (all the places I looked didn't even have empty shelf space like they had recently run out of them because of people buying them up to give as gifts). What is this world coming to when a committed consumer can't even find a limited selection of a long popular item?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It melts!

So let me start off by saying that I don't approve of vegans (vegetarians are fine, but there is no earthly reason to be a vegan). Partly it's that I think being a vegan is completely unhealthy, but mostly it's that part and parcel of being a vegan is that the person must apparently be a pretentious jerkface. Let me also say that I have no problem with soy milk in its liquid form, and I actually find it quite useful, since it is not an actual dairy product, and so can be used in the same meal as meat.

Anyway...I was at Whole Foods today and I noticed some soy cheese with the exciting news emblazoned on the label that "It melts!" Cheese is supposed to melt. If cheese, in it's natural form, did not melt, many dishes, including pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches, would never have been invented. Thus, it says something about a product and the fact that it should never exist that a selling point for this particular brand is that it does something that the real product they are attempting to imitate does already. Just eat cheese, or eat something else. Because soy cheese is disgusting.

I just wanted to put that out there.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Energy policy - as explained by a 5 year old

John McCain wanted to get energy by breaking apart atoms, so it's a good thing he didn't win because that would be really hard. Barack Obama wants to get energy from power of the sun.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Speed Voting

I voted in 15 minutes this morning. That included getting to and from my polling place. But since I do vote in a ward that is at capacity turn out in most elections anyway, we didn't have to worry about a machine shortage. And I got photographed walking in the door, so I'll have to see if I make it into the Sun. But not exit polled. I think pundits already know how my voting ward is going to go (though we do have a Republican family living across the street, so maybe that one family could sway the whole election), so they don't even bother asking.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm conflicted

I passed someone the other day having a phone conversation wherein he said that Sarah Palin was unqualified to be vice president because she's a woman. And while I definitely agree with the first part of that statement (she has no qualifications to be VP and haven't we already had enough experience with a folksy halfwit to know that we don't want any more), I'm troubled by the second part, since her lack of qualifications has nothing to do with her gender. She could be just as stupid and incompetent as a man (again, I point to our current president). So on the one hand, I don't want to defend her and I'm glad the guy was going to vote for Obama (I assume, though in truth I don't know that he wasn't voting libratarian or something), but on the other hand, it is quite upsetting to me that in 2008 "she's a girl" is still a reason people use to vote for or against someone.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's that time of year again

It's banned books week again, so everyone should get busy reading. My selection for this year is Moby Dick. I've never actually read it before, and it's the great American novel, so I feel like I should read it at some point. And why not now?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Well they certainly didn't have to do that for us

A friend of mine just started law school at Tulane. And as part of her orientation, they had an entire day devoted to the art of evacuating the city of New Orleans. How to plan your route, when to get started out, all that fun stuff. I don't know, but that isn't making me sign up to move to a seaside city that is below sea level.

Friday, August 15, 2008

So adorable

Knighthoods are silly. Penguins are cute. Put them together and they're unstoppable.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

There's hope for literacy yet

At Barnes and Noble yesterday, they were getting ready for their midnight release party for the new Twilight book (it's a teen romance vampire series - Entertainment Weekly raves about it). It seemed like it was going to be pretty fun, actually. There was a scavenger hunt around the store among the activities planned (they had the clues up around the store, at what I presume was the answer to the previous clue). But I just find it amusing that midnight release parties have become a standard thing that now happens. And especially since they are for YA books. That means kids are getting excited about reading (despite all those people who claim the contrary). And if they're reading as tweens and teens, they'll likely continue into adulthood. And that just brightens my day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Well I feel stimulated

I got my stimulus check in the mail. And while I don't think they're going to be all that effective toward reviving the economy (You lost all of your life savings in the Bear Sterns collapse and your house just lost half its value, but here's $300 to make you feel better about your life), that's not what really bothers me. It's that two days later I got yet another mailing (at my count this makes at least 5) to explain the stimulus check to me. Really? I need to have the concept of checks/money explained to me? I do live in the 21st century, and not in some pre-modern, barter economy. So in the self-fulfilling prophecy of incompetent governance that is the Bush administration, they decided to show me how inefficient and wasteful government can be by spending millions of dollars to sent out multiple mailings to every American to explain that money can be used to purchase goods and/or services. I know that no government is particularly efficient (they are each monopolies in their own countries and therefore have no competition to force them to streamline), but isn't it just possible that that money could have been spent on something more useful? They didn't have to make the conscious decision to make the stupidest use of the money possible.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

There's nothing you can't do on the internet

In case any of you feel the urge to become a born-again Christian, you can sign up for a service that will let the rest of us know that the rapture has happened. It will send out an email to everyone you know 6 days after the rapture, to give everyone else one last chance to be saved.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

When life gives you lemons...

The graduation speaker at Wesleyan this weekend was supposed to be Ted Kennedy. But, what with the brain cancer and all, he won't be able to make it. So the class of 2008 will have to make due with the last minute replacement that the university could get on Thursday afternoon to come on Memorial Day weekend... Barack Obama. Even for those of you who aren't Obama supporters, you have to admit that he'd be an impressive speaker to have at your college graduation. And the New York Times, of course, is typically derisive of Wesleyan.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

super villain

My sister and brother-in-law have been watching Heroes. So that led them to the topic of what superpowers they would want. And my brother-in-law decided that I can't be trusted with any superpowers because I would just use my power to become a super villain. Besides the fact that I'm just kind of offended, I would also like to point out that superpowers are in no way necessary for super villainy. Lex Luthor is the ultimate super villain, and he doesn't have any powers to go up against Superman. And Lex is the president. Not like those Batman villains who are just going up against Batman - who has no powers himself, just cool gadgets.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

More on Croquet

There was a local report on NPR about the match, if anyone would like to listen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The St John's-Navy croquet match was on Sunday. St John's won. Yay! Even if the weather was bad (it was raining off and on all day).

Thursday, April 3, 2008

We're out of the cellar

Baltimore, which long had the lowest high school graduation rate in the nation, has clawed its way up to only fourth worst in the nation (1/3 of students in the city public school system graduate from high school). But we still have the biggest gap between urban districts and suburban districts (Baltimore County is in the 80s for getting their students to graduate). It's not in the article, but on the radio they said that the three cities doing worse that Baltimore are Detroit, Indianapolis, and Cleveland (Detroit being the worst).

But possibly even worse than the fact that kids don't graduate, is that the ones who do aren't really prepared to go on to anything else. I was helping my dad's file clerk get ready to take the placement test for Anne Arundel Community College (AA is the county south of Baltimore where Annapolis is), and she was struggling with the practice questions that were basic reading comprehension (what's the main idea of this 5 sentence paragraph) and basic algebra (they give you f(x) and then ask the value of say f(3)). And the only reason she's going at all is because my parents are telling her she should have some education after high school. Because neither her parents nor her school care what she does now or what she does once she graduates. The school will just wash their hands of her once she leaves because her parents are doing the same thing, so they can.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Just in time for Easter, it's this year's collection of dioramas featuring marshmallow peeps from the Washington Post. I'm partial to "The Wizard of Peeps" and "Peepbusters". And there's also last year's, which includes my personal favorite - "Reservoir Peeps". Not all of them are movie/tv scenes, though. There's art (Warhol and Renoir) and some scenes from real life. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Congratulations S

My sister got into law school and will be attending the University of Maryland next year. So congratulations to her.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Classic Cinema 2.0

Some clips from the Hollywood of yesteryear - as interpreted by the cast of SpongeBob.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ahhh, Berkeley

The city of Berkeley, CA has attempted to ban Marine recruiters from working in the city. Because they are using their free speech rights to stop the marines from trampling on other people's free speech rights - to say that they want to join the marines. I know, I don't understand Berkeley's argument either. Not that I'm in favor of the war, nor do I think it's okay that the military is seen as the only opportunity for advancement by many inner city kids, since the military is almost the only institution in the US that will provide training to people who were otherwise forgotten by the system. But that doesn't mean that the military in evil as a concept. It just means we have problems in America in addition to the war, and Berkeleians seem to have forgotten that in their rush to make their statement. That and banning speech doesn't exactly protect free speech. It in fact hurts the cause of free speech.

Articles here, here, here, and here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Don't ask the person on the street, because that person is crazy

In anticipation of the upcoming "Potomac Primary", as it has come to be called, the BBC did a photo essay of voters in Baltimore and their opinions of the candidates. Apparently Obama is a Muslim, and Hillary can't be the president of "no country" because that's too much power to give to a woman. Nothing says informed and conscientious electorate like crazy people.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Burns Night

Today (January 25) is poet Robert Burns' birthday, so it is the traditional day in Scotland to eat haggis. Prepackaged haggis can be bought in either the traditional meat variety, or a new vegetarian variety. Unfortunately though, there is a ban on importing real haggis to the US because of BSE concerns regarding the use of offal (or variety meat as we call it here) from the UK. I suppose somehow we will all have to learn to live with the disappointment of not eating boiled sheep lung stuffed into natural stomach casing. Mmmm, sounds tasty.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Who comes up with these ideas?

I've been watching season 4 of the Wire lately, which focuses on the failing school system in Baltimore City. So I was struck by this article about a proposed plan to pay kids to do better on the MSA tests. Because that doesn't at all seem like a plan that will be taken advantage of. Nor, for that matter, does it seem like a poor way to be spending education dollars in a city that is already deeply in debt. Why don't they try actually fixing problems rather than just covering them up?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

An oversight on my part

I was upbraided for not crediting S for sending me that link. So now I've done it and you all know.

Friday, January 18, 2008

What candidate do you agree with most?

This is a website that rates how closely you agree with the candidates (including those who have already dropped out) based on their stances for the various issues in the election - the war, immigration, the environment, etc. I know you will all be shocked to learn that I tend towards the lefties, with my rankings being:
57 Kucinich
46 Gravel
34 Obama
31 Clinton
28 Edwards
25 Dodd
24 Richardson
21 Biden
0 Paul
-10 Cox
-19 Giuliani
-22 Thompson
-25 Brownback
-26 McCain
-42 Huckabee
-44 Romney
-48 Tancredo
-59 Hunter

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wedding report

We have returned from the big wedding. For the most part it was an Israeli wedding - big, but not that formal, despite being an evening wedding - but they did make some concessions to the Americans. Like seats for the ceremony, because Israelis usually just stand for that part. So here are some pictures for everyone.

The ceremony - for those of you who couldn't tell.

Both of the families together. My brother in law has two older sisters who are both married with kids. The sister with the straight hair and her husband (standing next to her) have the two older kids. And the sister with the curly hair and her husband have the toddler and an infant who wasn't there.

All of the Americans (and Canadians) who came. Considering that Israel is pretty far away, we had a good turn-out.

And the niece who was the flower girl and her cousin (who clearly is a new boyfriend for Mster). There was no other wedding party, but Tal must have seen an American movie with a wedding in it and decided that she wanted to be the flower girl. And she's five, so they let her. It was nice though, because there were also flower petals on the tables on the balcony where they had served cocktails. And lots of people were still standing up there to watch. So since most of the Israelis had never seen a wedding with a flower girl before, they decided that they should follow her lead and throw down their petals also. So there was a shower of petals from the balcony for the processional.