Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happy New Zzzzz...

Well, I'm back from the ATL (or the boring suburbs thereof). It took me most of the stay to get over my cold, but it's not like I had to go anywhere or do anything strenous. The only real duties I had were present wrapping, filling and emptying the dishwasher and making the occasional breakfast for Nannie. (M's family spell it "Nana," due to some cute spelling error in M's youth, but I have a hard time writing it that way, since my own grandmother was called Nana with the usual pronunciation.)

Although I had a great visit with the others, particularly M's mom, we mainly went there to spend time with Nannie, who is 92. Until Poppie died, more than a year ago, she was doing quite well for someone of that age - especially since she had been ill on and off for much of her earlier life. Now, as often is the case when one partner goes, she's beginning to dteriorate. Her lungs need treatment several times a day, her hearing and vision are going and she's starting to forget things. She's still fun to talk with though, and will come up with smart answers and memories often - they just get mixed in with the "off" ones.

I can't imagine what it must be like to lose a partner of so many years and keep on living. M says that she feels that when Nannie is fully ready to go, she will. Not too long ago I would have said the same thing, but since my herniation and operation I seem to have taken an agnostic turn, and have fears that whatever hardships we endure are all random. My spiritual outlook is staring to improve recently, but I can't help but feel sad for Nannie. I truly do hope she enjoys her life somewhat, still - and I hope that death comes when we are ready for it.

On that gloomy note, I have no particular plans for New Year's Eve, yet. This is because I am now both Old and a Curmudgeon (the two go together so naturally, you see). M's been tired a lot, too, but at least she has a recently discovered thyroid imbalance to blame - I'm just boring and cranky. If someone suggests something I may be up for it, but if we stay home and drink sparkling apple juice before falling asleep at 11:35, so be it. I haven't heard of anything going on, so that's what I suspect will happen.

As for greeting the new year, I don't do resolutions (I always figure if you're really going to do something, why wait until the arbitrary date of January 1 to do it?), but we are planning to join a local gym in the coming month. We figure they will probably be having specials then, so that's the time to do it. I'm hoping to get a little more active in 2006, but we shall see.

In the meantime, I can exercise my thumbs on my new Madden 2006 game (which is frustratingly more difficult than the 2005 edition) and my Christmas iPod, when it finally arrives. I may be flabby, but my grip must be getting more and more impressive.

Whatever your plans for the holiday, have a good one, and an awesome New Year. Here's a toast to limited curmudgeonliness...

Can't... take... the cuteness!

Baby hippo + elderly turtle = Awwwww!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fa La La La La...


Well, I'm off to The Dirty South for the holidays, sniffling with a bad cold all the way. Let's hope it doesn't get worse, or I don't give my 92-year-old grandmother-in-law pneumonia for Christmas.

In the meantime, play some Santa Balls...take a break, eat a cookie.

Senate Blocks Arctic Drilling and Approves Budget Cuts


Of course, they're still trying to cut the budget willy-nilly, but thank goodness for small miracles.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

O, Canada - part one million

Great. So now is it not only obvious that the Bush administration is spying on Americans and using 9/11 as an excuse/smokescreen, AND that Shrub has been lying about it, but who is the Pentagon spying on? Why, the scariest terrorists of all, of course: gay student groups!

I can't believe this guy isn't impeached, yet. I guess it's just 'cause nobody wants to give him a blowjob.

Animal News of The Day

1. I hate people.

2. Okay, people aren't so bad (I guess that petition I signed really worked).

Subway Schmubway

It took me way less time to get into work today than when there isn't a strike. Go figure. I got got a carpool ride in with a co-worker who lives in Staten Island. He said the only place he encountered any real traffic was on Fourth Avenue near my building. Everything else was smooth sailing. It seems like people decided to stay the heck away, if they could (or had no choice).

Not that the strike isn't a terrible thing for a lot of people. It will surely affect the city's economy on the macro scale, and a lot of folks who cannot get into work and can't work from home are majorly screwed. Even the transit workers themselves have it tough, not knowing what the resolution will be an not having any pay for at least as long as the strike continues. Sadly, it is generally those who can least afford to miss a paycheck that get the worst of such a situation.

And I do stand behind Local 100. Those workers have tough jobs, and they not only deserve to get decent wages, pensions and health care, but to be able to assure future workers that they won't get the short end of the stick. You can't really say the MTA was bargaining in good faith, considering they spent their considerable surplus on almost everything but wages just before the contract talks began. They even wanted to give riders some kind of "free rides" break around the holidays, meanwhile not even meeting the cost-of-living increases in salaries and trying to enforce later retirement! Well, how's this for special holiday treatment - no rides at all. Thanks a lot, Pataki and the MTA jackasses. Everybody knows you mismanage the whole thing. Crying that the unions are violating some ridiculous laws and acting in bad faith sounds stupid when you give them no other choice.

And that's the thing here: what other choice did the workers have? The MTA and government were bullying and acting cocky, filing lawsuits and making threats, basically saying they couldn't strike or they'd be punished. But that's the very reason they had to strike - it was the only weapon in their defense that they had left. If they couldn't walk off the job, what else could they use to bargain in this game of hardball? Pouts? And don't even talk to me about slow-downs - you know the MTA would be calling workers everything short of Satan if they did that, too.

So, a tough situation, all around. But I'm fortunate. I've got a cushy ride to and from work (in a giant leather-trimmed SUV, no less), however much I wanted to avoid coming in, and a resulting paycheck. M has to carpool in and out today, but she's taken off tomorrow and we're off for the dirty south early Thursday morning, so the only thing we really have to worry about if this goes on is making sure we get a firm reservation from a car service to and from Laguardia.

Nevertheless, I'll be glad when I can get on the old R train, again. The subways and buses are this city's lifeblood. New Yorkers will pull together and work things out like we've done in so many tough situations- but we want our arteries flowing again.

My grandpappy t'weren't no monkey!

Or maybe he was...

Hooray for science!

Monday, December 19, 2005

ARGH! Parts I & II

Part I: The rethuglicans are at it again. They finally passed their treasured bill to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I hope their fates in Hell involve being trampled by large extinct species for eternity.

Part II: It looks like there may very well be a transit strike tomorrow. Even though it could take me hours to commute by carpool back and forth and I could get pretty much all of my work besides answering her phone done at home, my boss wants me to come in. Even the mayor said not to!


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Eric, Enemy of Trains

Children are the ultimate Surrealists. Check here and here for examples, and a few (puzzled) laughs.

Shouldn't you be working right now?

Why is this site like crack? It contains white crystals and it's addictive enough to make you starve your baby.
(Feel free to search for "Da Nator" to see all the ones I've made.)

Thar She Blows!

I remember as a kid being entirely fascinated with narwhals. I'm not sure where I first heard about them - probably in some old sea yarn (I had an odd preference for adventure stories set way before my time) - but I do know that, until even recently, I wasn't even entirely sure they existed. Part whale, part unicorn - were they like the jackalope or the monopode - a mythical creature born of ignorance, imagination or purely for entertainment? They seemed too weird to be true.

Well, they are true, and some fascinating new things have been discovered about them. NPR had an interview with a scientist named Dr. Martin Nweeia, who has found that, contrary to popular belief, narwhals don't use their "horns" (actually teeth) to battle or poke holes in the ice so much as to sense minute changes in their surroundings. Then, the NY Times had a great article that further explored these new and amazing findings. There's even a web site on the research called, appropriately enough,

Truth can be stranger than fiction. Nature is amazing. This may be even cooler than the giant squid!