No alarms and no surprises, please.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I think we can all agree

That it's about time that the NFL changed it's logo. This one is much better.

Our long national nightmare is finally over.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lancelot Link

This is funny now. Back in college and after a couple bong hits? REALLY FUNNY. I loved this show.

Michael Vick and the Science of Dogs

I've had dogs at different points throughout my life and never thought much about "the science" of them. They've mostly been just lovable dopes that became part of our family. Probably because we always had "mutts" I never thought much about the breeding aspect of dog ownership. That is, until my mom decided that she wanted a Basset Hound to cope with her empty nest syndrome. We won't discuss the possible implications of the fact that it was to replace me specifically when I went to college.

His name was Newton and he was an excellent beast. He had a willingness to endure all forms of good-natured physical abuse from little kids, such as being forced to wear socks or a hat. He had a sweet nature and was gentle and kind. But, damn, he was funny looking. Some human wanted him to look this way. He wasn't designed by God. He was designed by a bunch of wealthy dudes in France. They wanted him short and with droopy skin and ears to help him track scents. See, the shortness means he's closer to the ground for sniffing. The loose skin and floppy ears supposedly help fan the scent to his nose. Reading that this was what he was bred for, my brother and I quickly hatched a plan to "train him to track stuff". We tied a milk bone on a string, dragged it in a round about way around the yard and hid it. He did it the first time. No training needed. He was literally born to do it. Humans engineered him to do it.

I was reminded of Newton (who also answered to 'Boner'), as I was watching a fascinating show the other day called The Science of Dogs from National Geographic Explorer. In it, they examine the genetic impact to dogs of their many thousands of years long relationship with humans. They talk about the obvious effect of the incredible diversity of dogs as a species and how that hasn't always been beneficial to dogs. They can end up pre-disposed to deafness (Dalmatians), blindness (Briards) and even obsessive compulsive behavior (Bull Terriers). But what struck me most was an experiment they conducted comparing wolves and dogs.

They raised a group of wolves as if they were dogs. This meant, loads of human contact, walking on leashes, etc. The idea is to make the wolves as comfortable with people as dogs. Then they present the dogs and wolves with equal problems. The attached a tasty treat on the end of a towel and put the treat in a cage, with the towel hanging out. Both the dogs and the wolves were able to pull the towel to bring the treat out of the cage and eat it. Then they attached a stick to the towel so it could not be removed and brought the dogs and wolves again. The wolves worked hard to remove the treat and kept working on their own. They ignored the humans. The dogs tried and eventually gave up and looked at the humans for assistance (Dude, a little help?). They ran a couple other experiments as well (even some where dogs can pick up on human non-verbal communication - like pointing), and the results are the same. Humans are special to dogs but not to wolves. We've bred them to be this way by selecting those who respond to humans better for many years. We've bred them to look to us for help, depend on us and even love us. In exchange they serve us in amazing ways. It's like a symbiotic contract. As a result. dogs are literally (hu)man's best freind in the animal kingdom.

Which, in a bit of a non-sequitor, brings me to Michael Vick. He's pleading guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges and will apparently even serve time in the penitentiary. His co-conspirators have made statements against him and that changed the case.

The co-defendants said Vick bankrolled virtually the entire "Bad Newz Kennels" operation in rural southeastern Virginia, including providing gambling funds, an act that could trigger a lifetime ban from the NFL under the league's personal conduct policy.

Two of them also said Vick participated in the brutal executions of at least eight underperforming dogs.

Facing those allegations and the prospect of a superseding indictment from a new grand jury that began meeting Monday, Vick opted to change his plea.

I'm really glad (and sadly, a bit surprised) that these grotesque acts will be punished. Here we have an entire species of animals that have been domesticated and bred with one purpose only, which is to serve humans. And yet, in a clear example of human depravity, we have a pampered NFL millionaire who will fund an operation which breeds dogs not for companionship or service but to fight each other for his pleasure. When they don't perform, he kills them. Why does he do this? Because he enjoys it. Because it makes him feel more like fucking Scarface. More Gangsta. What a fucking disgrace. All those dogs wanted, even those wild aggressive fighting dogs, is to love a person. It's all "Boner" wanted. It's all my two goofy hounds want. We know this because we've bred all dogs to want that. It's the dog's singularly unique characteristic. Michael Vick, and any other person involved in this kind of obscene activity - pampered NFL superstar or not, is a disgrace to humanity. It's perverse to use an animals genetic desire to serve to make it fight it's own kind. It's depraved and immoral. Mike Vick makes me ashamed of my species. Enjoy the pen, gangsta.

Crime is so totally screwed

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bats II:The Little Winged Bastards Strike Back

Allow me to provide an update on the bat saga. We had a bat specialist out to bat-proof the house. This involves sealing every crack like opening into the upper part of the house and then constructing "bat doors" over the entry points they are using. The idea of the bat doors is that the bats will not be able to get back in after they leave. The Bat Doors are basically funnel-shaped netting that leads away from the entry point (kinda like the reverse of a lobster pot). I know for a fact that it worked exceedingly well. How?

Well, when I brought in a company that specializes in such things to evict my bats, it never occurred to me to consider where the evicted bats might go. I guess I just imagined them flying around my house somewhat frustrated by not being able to get back in. Then, with a tiny bat shrug, they'd take off and move on to someone else's house or a bat cave or something.

As it turns out, that's not how it works. I found this out as I sat down to have a cup of coffee today on my deck. I looked down at our patio table and saw the unmistakable shape of bat droppings. Like a character in a "B" movie, I flashed back to the words of the bat dude (who, BTW, had one of the sweetest mullets ever). "They leave their droppings as they fly out to go eat. Basically, you find the droppings, look up and that's where they're going in and out." I did exactly that. I looked at the droppings on my table. I looked up, there was my closed patio umbrella. We kicked the bats out of my house and they moved into the umbrella. Bastards!

My deck had become a very unappetizing place to have a cup of coffee. Yuck.

I adjourned to my PC desk and fired up the scary Google. You see, in telling and retelling my story to my friends and co-workers, I got two useful tidbits of info. The first a helpful tip I'll share that's useful if you're ever in the same situation I was with a bat flying around the house and a screaming child. The second is a way to reduce my risk of this happening again.

1) If ever a bat is flying around your house, I am told that simply opening a window is not enough. You need to throw something small out of it. Bats, supposedly, are attracted to the motion. I don't know this for a fact. I do know a tennis racket works just fine.

2) If you put up a Bat House in your back yard, the bats are supposedly less likely to go in your house. Bat House? I said? Like a bird house? Yeah, exactly. Unbelievably enough, there are such things. Looks like I'm gonna buy one. The website says if I have a colony of 100 or so bats, I'll get "natural mosquito control". I'll also have the coolest house at Halloween.

You've won this round, you little winged bastards. But the war's not over.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Quick Hits - RIP Scooter Rizzuto edition.

Goodbye, Phil Rizzuto. You will be missed. In fact, let me say I'm already missing you. You were integral to the infancy of my Yankee fan tenure. I loved listening to you. Please let me recount some Rizzuto tidbits.

- When I first started watching the Yanks, Phil was no longer a great announcer. However you were a Yankee institution. But, back in the day, he was pretty darn good and a lot of fun to listen to. Here you are calling Roger Maris's 61st home run.
- You were also enough of an institution that Meat Loaf famously used you as the announcer in Paradise by the Dashboard Light. I always loved hearing how he didn't realize exactly what the song was about. He was just brought in to record a play by play. He did and only later found out how it was used in the song. His reaction? "That Huckleberry!"
- I even miss the Money Store.
- I'll always remember how Phil and many other Major League Players gave up several years of their careers to serve in the military during WWII. Can you imagine Barry Bonds doing such a thing? Hell, you can't even get Kobe to do a slam-dunk contest.
- One time, when my brother and I were watching a Yankee game, Scooter out of nowhere said, "I smell onions." He then became a bit obsessed with where the smell was coming from. He wouldn't drop it. We thought it was hysterical. From then on, whenever the subject of Rizzuto came up, one of us would say, "I smell onions." In fact, here's the email my brother sent me today:

Scooter has gone to the big Yankee Stadium in the sky.

*hangs head*

"Seaver, do you smell onions? I smell onions!"

- Scooter was also a pretty darn good player. He played a very good shortstop even with the gloves like these.

and in 1950, he batted .324, had an OBP of .418 and even improbably won an MVP. Coincidentally, Phil had 112 runs created that season which nearly matched even the magical 1987 season of Jack Clark (inside joke). He'd later get into the Hall of Fame via the "veterans committee" everyone loved Scooter.

Goodbye Scooter. The Yankee fan experience is worse without you. RIP.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Google Frightens Me.

We may eventually be longing for the days of Microsoft's ruthless marketing and licensing practices. Google is starting to freak me out a bit. Because they are so darn good at helping us find things on the web they have become an enormous influence on what we see. This, of course, is completely fair as they've earned that. However, as they continue to expand in every direction, we become more dependent upon them. What if they lose their apparent taste for benevolence?

I came across this tidbit the other day, when had to answer their stockholders regarding why their site traffic all of a sudden dropped 28%. Here's what they said.

Answers Corporation (NASDAQ: ANSW) announced today that, due to a search engine algorithmic adjustment by Google, has seen a drop in search engine traffic starting last week. As a result, overall traffic is currently down approximately 28% from levels immediately prior to the change.

"We are working diligently to analyze and address the recent algorithm change," said Bob Rosenschein, CEO. "We will update investors on the financial impact of this development during our upcoming Q2 earnings conference call on August 13."

Let's think about that for a second. Here's a relatively small $5 million company who, in the blink of an eye, lost more than a quarter of it's traffic and had it's stock pushed down to a two year low. Wow. That's pretty incredible, isn't it?

So if you're a company that relies heavily on internet traffic finding it's way to your site, you are at the mercy of some spoiled geeks at the Googleplex? Maybe.

Or, is it this really the business model that Google has been planning all along? They built the best search engine and rightly everyone started to use it. Google is a fucking official verb now. They have a huge portion of the mind share related to searching. It's an institutional part of the internet experience. To test that, just imagine if Google ceased to exist. Sure, there are other engines, but Google has almost half of all searches. If they wanted to steer the results in a particular direction for a fee, why couldn't they? If they wanted to steer the results away from a particular place in the absence of a fee (what could have hypothetically happened to, why couldn't they? Would anyone notice? How often do you run a search in Google, and then again in another engine? Ever done that? Would you know if you were getting slanted results? In many ways, this is potentially more insidious than Microsoft's aggressive OS licensing. Trying to control a desktop that will be obsolete in 4 years is one thing. Controlling a living, breathing behemoth like the internet is another. They don't control the content, they just control finding the content for a large section of the population like me.

Now realize that Google's method is also to continuously expand it's reach into every where that puts faces in front of monitors. Not just that, they've already branched out into 411-Phone information. They're driving around taking pictures of our cats. They're building giant data centers to store the pictures of our cats. The more they expand, the creepier they become.

Meet the Landlords

Once again, we own New York.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Last night we had a visit from a rat with wings. It's safe to say that if a 5 year old could have a heart attack my daughter would have had one on the spot. We were settling into bed when all of a sudden this little bugger started flying around the room. After much screaming (by them, not me), I instructed the kids to get under the covers until it left the room.

It did leave and I closed the doors behind the bat and followed it outside. My daughter was left lying in her bed going completely bananas. My son is lying quietly. Apparently his fondness for Batman is helping him cope.

I opened the sliding glass door and a couple windows, hoping the bat would leave as it circled the house. It didn't despite passing them several times. Eventually, it stopped flying around. Hmm... What to do.

I got my wife on the phone so she could tell me where our tennis rackets are and so she could talk to Emma while Daddy takes care of our invader. I found the tennis racket in the basement and looked for where our winged friend has gone. It was no longer flying about.

I found it perched on a piece of molding near the drop down attic stairs. I looked at it for a moment and pondered it's fate. It clearly didn't want to hurt anyone. And yet, here it was terrifying me with it's potential of being rabid and terrifying my kids with it's very presence. Could I really coax it out of the house? Is that even possible? I had the sliding doors wide open and the dumb thing flew right past them. While I'm doing that, what of my still screaming daughter - equally terrified that the bat's gonna "get" her or me?

I knew what I had to do. I terminated the bat with extreme prejudice. I put on yellow dishwashing gloves, picked it up, wrapped it up in a plastic bag with said gloves and put it out on the deck. Phew! The family is safe!

I came back to my kids and we all huddled in my bedroom. Emma had a lot to say about the bat. What did it look like? Why did I kill it? Do you think it came in here because it wanted the mosquito I saw flying around? Eventually, I answered her questions and calmed her down. She slowly stopped trembling as she lined up all the bits of information she had about this traumatic experience. Daddy had to kill the bat because it was proably sick and didn't want to leave.

I asked my son, "What did you think of the bat?" He said, "What bat?" "You know, the thing that was flying around the house?", I said. "Oh yeah, it was flying, huh?" He laughed. He's one cool customer, that Jonny.

Today, we'll get a visit from "the bat people" to make sure this never happens again.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hip Hop Violin

No, seriously. It's pretty damn cool.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I am Asok

I wouldn't usually simply post a Dilbert. But today's strip of the day just so perfectly sums up my professional hell of the last year.

Monday, August 06, 2007

8 things about me. Because I kick ass.

I haz been tagged.

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged and that they should read your blog.
5. 8 is a magic number. Not three.

First of all, meme-starter... Don't you tell me what to do!

On to the 8 things about me.

1) Up until the age of 8, I spoke Jive. This is a somewhat flippant way to say that up until the 4th grade, I went to a school that was predominantly black. I was one of four white kids. I talked just like all the black kids at the school. When I got to my first day of school in lily-white Connecticut Shoreline, the first words out of my mouth were "Where are all the black people?"
2) If I could be anything I wanted to in life, it would be Spiderman. And that's something that hasn't changed since I was six years old.
3) The first time I got drunk as a freshman at the fraternity at Rensselaer that I'd later join (Phi Sigma Kappa) I was 16 years old.
4) In 8th grade and again as a senior in high school, my family hosted for a year kids from Brazil (a girl) and Japan (a boy), respectively. The girl grew up to be an awesome person and my parents remain in touch with her. The boy was a jerk and I'm pretty sure that whatever he's doing today he grew up to be a major asshole.
5) My initials are EJB. My kids' initials are EJB and JEB. I had no idea that's how it would be when we chose their names. Now, I feel a little like George Foreman, who named all his kids George.
6) All strippers think I'm cute. Or, at least, that's what they tell me.
7) I was the best offensive lineman in my 1980 Pop Warner league and somewhere, my parents have the trophy to prove it.
8 ) I have been certified by Guinness to pour the perfect pint(tm), including understanding how to wash the glass, how long to wait between the first phase and the second phase, what type of gas should be used to pressurize a keg and most importantly, how to draw the shamrock on top.

I'm tagging Manny and my brother Nat. Sure, that's two people, but they have the strength of at least 8 men.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wanted Dead Or Alive: Poultry Perpetrator

On Sunday, one victim, Jonny aged 3, accused the suspect shown at left of assault. The victim's sister described the suspect as looking "kinda like the goose in Charlotte's Web".

The victim was attempting to feed a group of ducks and a gaggle of geese at Lyman's Orchard and reached his hand through the protective barrier to present said food to the animals in question. It was at this moment that the suspect allegedly leapt forward and aggressively attacked the victim, biting him on the hand and causing him to drop said food and more or less scaring the living shit out of him.

The victim is seen at left receiving medical attention and reporting the incident to authorities. The suspect can be seen in the background callously eating the dropped food and indifferent to the plight of the victim. The victim's father suggested killing and eating the suspect, but was warned by the victim's sister against such vigilante action as it's thought to be "not nice" and that the suspect was presumed innocent and had not yet been Mirandized.

The suspect remains at large in a pen at Lyman's orchard and should be considered winged and dangerous.

Fridge Blogging

Here is my fridge. I like to think of it as a fridge with two regions.

The top is mostly informational with a few magnets from our travels and pictures of the little kids in our extended family. There are emergency numbers, pizza delivery magnets, important notices, birthday invitations, and dosage charts for children's Motrin and Tylenol.

The bottom is mostly a chaotic mix of educational magnets, artwork and potty charts. The little fridge magnets sing and spell and make an incredible amount of noise for a surprisingly long time. As my kids get older the chaos heads up and on a weekly basis, I defend the border between refrigerator and freezer and repel the invaders.

Toast asked for it.

Geeks! Set your TiVos!

I'm not sure how I didn't hear about this earlier. ABC is airing a four part series (STARTING TOMORROW!) of one-hour Science Fiction episodes in what appears to be a 'short story'-'Twilight Zone'-ish style. With stories adapted from acclaimed writers like Harlan Ellison and starring folks like Malcolm McDowell, Sam Waterston, Brian Dennehy, Terry O'Quinn (LOCKE!) and production values that appear to be excellent, these shows are very intriguing. My prediction? These shows are somewhere between very good to at least very promising and then I'm disappointed when after just 4 episodes ABC dumps them and returns to showing crap like According to Jim.

They start tomorrow and run for a month. You have been warned! Ladies and Gentlemen, set your TiVos!

P.S. Someone ought to tell Brian Dennehy there that he can go blind from doing so much.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My son finally sees what he's up against

This weekend we were out and about and I took my two kids (Emma, 5 and Jonny, 3) to Burger King. Not for the food of course, but for the sweet kid habitrail they have for my kids to play in and so I could swipe their Simpsons toys for my desk at work (for the record, I got Apu and Barney).

When we got there, we made the all important bathroom stop. It was here that Jonny had a revelation.

We gathered in the giant handicapped stall so there'd be room for all of us. Jonny did his business, defiantly refusing any offers of assistance (he's three, you see). Then it was Emma's turn and it appears a lightbulb went on for my little guy.

After Emma sat on the toilet, here's what happened.

Jonny crouches down, looks at what Emma is doing and says, "WAIT A MINUTE! How come Emma doesn't have a penis!?!?!"

Emma laughed and said, "It's called a VA-GI-NA, Jonny"

"What the...??", Jonny said. (this is a verbal tic he picked up from his Dad, because the word that typically follows is a bit unseemly when said by a 3 year old. I put the breaks on right there)

"Yeah, JB, boys have penises, girls have vaginas...", I said.

Jonny slapped his forehead in an interesting mix of exasperation and resignation and said, "Oh Great..."

He didn't seem very happy about this at all. He hadn't seen anything he hadn't seen before, but it was like a new part of his brain was finally grasping the impact of what it all meant. It seemed as if he understood that this biological dichotomy was really gonna be a pain in the ass to deal with later on.

And I totally knew what he meant.

Low Points in Fantasy Baseball Breaking News

From CBS Sportsline Fantasy Baseball:

Posada goes double dong Wednesday

Jorge Posada, C NYY
News: Jorge Posada homered twice in a 8-1 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday.
Analysis: Posada is having the best season of his career, in a walk year, no less. Go figure. He's scorching hot and a must-start in all leagues through thick and thin.

Seriously guys? "double dong"? As if I don't feel quite pathetic enough because of my obsession with fantasy sports? Thanks.