Monday, October 30, 2006


Why does anyone drive a Hummer? It's expensive to buy, and, once bought, expensive to operate. It performs absolutely and utterly no function that couldn't be performed better and more cheaply by an SUV, a minivan, or a truck. There is, in fact, only one reason to drive a Hummer:

To make a statement.

What kind of statement, you ask? Well, the fact is, it's a statement that goes something like this: "I have no perspective and no sense, I'm simply given to reckless and wanton excess." But of course that's not the statement that Hummer people think they are making. In their oblivious heads, this is how they think their statement sounds: "I'm brave and tough, I get the job done, and I have a big dick."

"Gregory," I can hear you asking, "why do you feel as though you have to post about this particular subject right now?" I'm glad you asked. I was stopped at a traffic light this past weekend. I was in the rightmost lane. A vehicle pulled up beside me in the left lane. My eye was caught by a ripple of reflected flashes. I looked over and saw...

...a Hummer with wire-spoke wheels.

Wire-spoke wheels. You know, the kind of wheels you see on British or Italian sports cars that are small and have feminine curves and masculine power and whip around mountain-road turns snapping heads with their g-forces while their tyres press the road like lovers having sex. Those wheels.

On a Hummer.

Ack! It was like seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger in a short flirt-skirt and a spaghetti-strap, midriff-revealing halter top. In other words, it was something I so never wanted to see.

I'm not sure I've recovered even yet.

But while I'm on the subject, what's with this new Hummer, the baby Hummer, the H3? In the commercials for the H3, a guy's standing in a gas station parking lot and waving to H3's as they drive buy. He calls out stuff like, "Don't stop this time!", "See ya later!", and "Maybe next time!" The point is to emphasize what the commercial says is something "they said couldn't be done," i.e., make a Hummer that gets (please sit down, in case this news makes your knees weak) twenty miles to the gallon. On the highway.

But to me, what the commercial really says -- covertly, but the message is there, as this guy celebrates that the new H3 can pass a gas station by -- is that the old H1 and H2 are such dinosaurs that they literally have to stop at each gas station they pass, just as a caravan crossing the desert must stop for provisions at every oasis, and that if they didn't, if they passed up just one gas station, they'd end up immobilized by the side of the road, gasping for fuel, and see how I managed to mix dinosaur and camel metaphors in the same incredible run-on sentence?

But, dear reader, this is the real question regarding the H3: If the only earthly purpose for owning a Hummer is to make a statement, then what kind of statement is the H3 driver making? Something like... "I wish I was brave and tough, and I wish I could get the job done, and I wish I had a big dick, but this was all I could afford"?

People, if you want to drive a Hummer...

...join the Army. And, while you're there, as an extra added bonus, you'll get to actually demonstrate that you're brave and tough, and show everyone that you can get the job done.

And, really, no one cares about your dick.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Scenes from a Pumpkin Time

Every year about this time of year Keene New Hampshire hosts its annual Pumpkin Festival. This year Linda, Evelyn and I, along with Linda's visiting niece Sasha spent an enjoyable if somewhat chilly Saturday afternoon wandering Main Street checking out the 24,000 jack-o-laterns that were brought in for this year (and yes, three of those were ours). The goal was 30,000, which would have beat the world record of 28,000 that were brought to Keene a few years back. Alas, Boston has jumped on this particular bandwagon and now they hold the record for the most pumpkins. But we still had a great time.


Saturday, October 21, 2006


Remax is a huge realty company, but I guess each office has it's own name, to give it a local identity. You know, like "Billy Joe and Bobby Sue's Realty." And I can actually see where, when they were brainstorming for a name for this one, it seemed like a good idea. I mean, the thought process was probably something like, "You could go to any ordinary realtor, but we offer an 'alternative.'" But still, every time I see one of these signs (look in the lower left):

Alternative Realty

...the first thing that I see, always, inevitably, is "Alternative Reality." And then do a double-take and realize my mistake. And then I think how much better my interpretation was than what was really on the sign. And then I'm past the property being sold, never having given it a glance or a thought.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

The wisdom of Tolstoy's opening line?

Last week, while I was stopping at and then proceeding through a four-way stop, I thought about someone I knew in college, thirty years ago.

This person had been a little older than the rest of us undergrads. He'd returned to school for his degree. His wife was a slender, lovely woman with naturally curly hair. She was working to put him through school. She'd come by the Computer Science Lab to see him sometimes, and I'd watch her from the corner of my eye. In retrospect, I guess I had a crush on her.

Her husband, my fellow student, had a gambling problem. He spent a lot of his evenings at the Jai-Alai Fronton, the only legal form of gambling here at that time, and once a month he'd hop over to Freeport to spend a weekend at what was then the Princess Casino. And when I say spend a weekend "at the casino," that was what he did: He'd sleep for a few hours at a time in a chair, grab sandwiches to eat, and spend all the rest of his time, around the clock, at the tables. And for this guy, taking chances went beyond gaming for money. It infused every aspect of his life. For example, he hardly ever stopped at stop signs. Running a stop sign and not getting caught or crashed gave him a thrill.

I guess maybe because he was older than the rest of us, he was on personal terms with some of the faculty. One day he was in the Lab with one of the professors, and he mentioned that his real goal in life was to become a professional gambler. The professor asked what his wife would think of that, and he answered, "Oh, I won't be married to her then." The professor was openly shocked, and I was silently so.

So last week when I was at that stop sign (which I did not run) I thought of him, and I wondered what happened him. Did gambling wreck his life? Did he get help? Did he recover? Is he still married to the slender, lovely woman? Heck, is he selling real estate in Idaho? With the Internet, I have at least a chance of finding the answers to these questions. I can do a search. Except... I don't remember his name. Hey, it's been thirty years! Give me a break.

But it so happens that one of my current coworkers was also my classmate all those years ago (therein lies another story, for another time). Today, he works in a different department and building, so I hiked over, and found him at his workstation in his own cube farm. My coworker remembered the gambler, but he couldn't remember his name, either. My coworker asked me why I wanted to know, and I told him that I was just curious about what had happened to him. My coworker answered that he never thought about the gambler, "But I often wonder what happened to the [NAME REDACTED] brothers."

Ah, the N.R. brothers! I remember them well. There were three, and they all came through the same university, each two years apart. All three were brilliant. Not only were all three at the tops of their classes without even seeming to try, but all three spent their spare time inventing amazing gadgets or conducting research.

"I always expected," said my coworker, "to read about them in the news. You know, starting successful companies, or winning awards. But I've never heard anything about them. I wonder what happened to them?"

I've never heard anything about the N.R. brothers, either, and I'm not likely to, because, myself, I'm not curious about them at all.

It's as I was walking back to my own cube farm that I was struck by the real point of this post (yes, Virginia, this post has a point), which is the difference between my coworker and myself: He's only curious about what happened to the successful and talented members of our class, while I'm only interested in what's become of the troubled and the losers.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Coincidence? I think not.

Two posts in one day. I don't know what's coming over me.

Heather's blog had links to a couple of those online tests, which I almost never take, but today I did two of them, I don't know why. One was supposed to measure my "lust quotient." This was the result:
***Your Lust Quotient: 48%***

You are definitely a lustful person, but you do a good job of hiding it.
Your friends would be surprised to know that your secretly very wild!
The second was to measure my nerd/geek/dork index. This is the result of that one:
Pure Nerd
56 % Nerd, 39% Geek, 39% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
I guess it's the nerd in me that caused me to notice that in the results of the lust quotient test, "your" is spelled wrong.

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Two photographs

Because it's easier for me to post pictures than to compose a thoughtful and insightful essay (heh), I offer you two photographs:

We have moderately strict security requirements where I work, which means no one in the buildings except employees or people on business. No bringing the kids in with you while you work on a weekend, or anything like that. But we had an open house for friends and family this past weekend, and so here's Judi, sitting in my chair at my workstation:

Judi at my work

I apologize for the iffy quality, but cameras are not allowed in my workplace (more security), and so I had to use my Treo (whose camera is allowed -- go figure).

On a completely different note, I had (past tense) a tire on my car that was slowly leaking. One morning, as I left work on an errand, I felt the steering wheel pull and knew the tire was low. I turned into the next parking lot and hooked up my portable compressor, on hand for just this purpose. While I was waiting for the tire to inflate, I saw this, and my camera was (as it always is) at hand:

Water drops

You can click on either to see a larger version.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The value of proofreading

From an e-mail message that someone sent me about his dog:
Momma can't stop giving treats. How do you spell SPOILDED.
Um... not like that.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Maybe I live under a rock...

...but I have never seen headlight wipers before:

Headlight Wipers

Does anyone know if these actually provide any real benefit? Or are they a joke.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My message to you, too

I was driving to work this morning. The sun was rising before my eyes, but the news on NPR was grim and depressing, and my spirits were in the dust. I turned off the radio and started the CD player. I had left a CD in there a few days ago, but I had no idea what track it was on or where it was at. And these were the first words I heard:
Rise up this morning,
Smiled with the rising sun
Three little birds pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs of melodies pure and true
Sayin', "This is my message to you-u-u."

The sun rose, and Bob Marley lifted my spirits to the sky.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Speaking of Dinosaurs

They say that confession is good for the soul, so here on the eve of my 47th birthday here are a few confessions:

1. I have only a vague idea as to what a 'Blackberry' is.

2. I have only even touched an ipod once, and that is because someone left one in my car and I had to return it.

3. I have never downloaded music, and wouldn't know how.

4. I need to carry a cell phone for job reasons, but I only use it as a phone. I don't know if it is capable of much else. For months I didn't know how to retrieve messages or how to turn it off, and only found out when my 22 year old nephew took the time to walk me through it.

5. I used to use a PDA, but got tired of it crashing my computer, and went back to carrying a calendar with me.

6. I have never played an on-line game.

7. I know what IM is, but am unsure as to what piece of technology it relates to. I think it is a function of cell phones.

There, that felt good.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

I guess I should have seen it coming

Judi: You're a dinosaur.

Me: Really? What kind of dinosaur am I? Am I a light, fast, carnivorous kind? Or a big, strong, herbivorous kind.

Judi: A dying-out kind.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Airsickness bags are provided in the seatback in front of you

As I was driving home from work today, NPR news was airing an clip from a woman -- seemingly educated and soccer-momish -- who lives in Mark Foley's Congressional district (which is one district south of where I live -- local news for me). She said something like the "outroar" against Foley was evident. I put it down to a slip of the tongue, until a few sentences later when she repeated it, something like the "outroar" would be growing.

I dunno... outroars happen all the time, but do you think there will be an "upcry" as well? There could well be. People in south Florida should keep a close lookout for upcries. You can never predict what will happen when an upcry breaks out. But the real danger is that there will be, as the election approaches, an anti-Republican outheaval in the voting population.

Oh... sorry. I made a big lexicographical boo-boo there. "Outheaval" means to hurl chunks. I don't know how I could have made that mistake.


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