Saturday, December 5, 2009

Out of mouth of babes....

Last night, my brother-in-law, Stephen, and I were lightly arguing over what constitute a cole slaw.  And the cole slaw that he likes is not really a cole slaw - it is one of those Asian-American delicacy that has a mixture of cabbage, vinegar, sesame seeds and ramen noodles.  I was splitting hairs with him by saying that it is not THE cole slaw that every knows and hates to eat. I hate the stuff but I love the Asian version.  Well, Stephen appealed to a higher authority: his mom.  "Well, my mom calls it Cole Slaw so it must be Cole Slaw!"  I came back with a riposte: "Uh, that's circular argument and your mom is not the reference cook book!"  Gigi was doing her homework and was listening to us teasing each other about cole slaw.  Finally, she spoke with an authoritative voice: "Steve, that's an opinion not a fact!"  I smiled and was proud that Gigi agrees with me and I turned to her and said, "Oh Gigi I love you!  You are so beautiful!"  Without missing a beat she replied, "Now that's not an opinion - that's a fact!"

She's 6 years old. Man, what is she going to be like when she turns 13? Should be interesting to see.... Stay tuned!

A Quasi-Religious Experience

Tonight we went to the highly anticipated The Swell Season concert! They were incredible!  You might know them from their musical movie, Once.  Anyway, it is one thing to hear them play in the movie or on CD but it is a whole 'nother thing to hear them live.  It was powerful...almost like a religious experience.  Glen played the guitar that he used when playing on the streets. As you can see from this picture - it is quite worn out.

At one point he stepped away from the microphone and played his heart out the song that he used to play on the streets - Say It To Me Now. It was moving...

The highlight was the encore and they played my favorite song, Falling Slowly.   Two other mentionables: (1)they had one of their band member, the fiddler, play an incredible composition - one in which he would record the tracks while playing and then repeat them while simultaneously playing - it was a beautiful fiddling.  (2) At one point a girl stood up and yelled out, "It is my birthday today and I want a hug."  Incredibly, Glen obliged!  The whole band stood up and waited for her to come on stage and they hugged her and hugged each other.  I read her lips when she hugged him, "Thanks for making this the best birthday ever!"  This is just one example of how they really engaged the audience. Glen would tell stories or crack jokes and while playing he would encourage the audience to hum a tune.  It was a great experience. One that I will never forget....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Out of mouth of babes....

I was playing toys with Oliver and I started to quiz him on various animals and what they eat.  For example, I would point to a cow and asked Oliver what it is and he would reply "Cow". I asked him what they eat and he would say "Grass".  Well, we went through about 10 animals till we got to the skunk.  I point to it and he said, "Skunk"  I asked him what they eat.  His reply:  "Poo-Poo"  I was a bit surprised and asked him why.  He said that they stink and it is because they eat poo-poo.  It was very endearing...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Our Kentucky Thanksgiving has been quite pleasant. The abundant feast, as usual, was quite scrumptious!  I hope you all are having a great Thanksgiving as well.

I recently read an article by a Jewish Social Critic and Radio Host, Michael Medved, on the history of Thanksgiving - pretty interesting article. There were some historical stuff that I didn't even know. One was that the folks who came over on the Mayflower did not come from England - rather they came from Holland - having lived there for 12 years.  I will need to re-study my history during that time period. I was not taught any of this in school...  Anyone who can recommend a good book or two on this historical subject?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Global Warming Skepticism is Being Vindicated

Those of you in my "circle of trust" (Meet The Parents) know that I'm a global-warming skeptic and have teased me about it. [Again let me be VERY clear- I'm not saying that there's NO global warming activity but I am skeptic of the claims behind the global warming movement -one being that it is human-caused] Anyway...this recent FoxNews article is finally showing a faint crack in the global warming worldview. I have at least 10 to 15 articles by scientists that are disputing the global warming hypothesis but I think you all will kill me if I list them all.  Suffice to say...being vindicated is nice.  Now... here's the interesting thing - when I do challenge folks on this with the scientific studies - I'm noticing another verbal engineering:  "I never DID say global warming - I meant Climate Change."  So I'm now hearing from folks that the real problem is climate change and it is also human cause. Geesh...this is a moving target! 

I'm usually not a skeptic but when it comes to weather theory - I don't know why I become a full-blown skeptic but there's a little history here...  I made one and only one "D" in my entire four years at college.  That "D" was in my Environmental Science course.  I made a HUGE faux pas by writing an editorial ,in my college newspaper (I was the Features Editor after all), debunking the Ozone Hole doomsday scenario.  My professor of Environmental Science happens to be a huge proponent of the Ozone Hole Doom and Gloom theory (OHDG).  Needless to say, he needled me in class but I was able to argue quite effectively with facts because I had done my research for my editorial.  I had visions of being David slaying the giant Goliath of such foolish notion of the OHDG reality it was more like Jolly Green Giant squashing a little ant and I was the ant.  On the Final Exam- I had one question (maybe two if I can recall) and it was an essay on the methodology and scientific proof for the Ozone Hole Problem. It was totally unfair!  First of all, the rest of my classmates had a completely different test - mostly 100 questions composed of multiple choices and maybe some essays but nothing like mine in which I had to answer the one question which I totally disagree with.  I wrote what I was convinced was true with established studies and quotes to back up my arguments.  Alas, I received an "F". If it weren't for the fact that I had A's and B's all semester long I would have flunk that class.  I went to the dean and complained and he was not sympathetic to my complaints. 

So maybe...just maybe I have a little personal baggage here.  So I will always be a skeptic when someone tries to predict the unpredictable using computer base models that could not even predict the weather the following week.

Pet Peeves

The best way for me to get rid of little frustrations that are building up in my head is to share them thus depriving them of building steam. Hence my little Pet Peeves corner.  Usually most of my Pet Peeves are about reckless and feckless drivers on the roads.

This month's Pet Peeves (drum roll...)  I HATE it when I'm driving down a two-lane road and I'm come up to a huge logjam - there's like 20 to 30 cars ahead of me at a complete stop waiting for this guy to turn onto another street on the left but unfortunately the guy is waiting for at least 40 or 50 cars coming from the opposite direction to pass by -so he waits...and waits....and waits. Meanwhile he is blocking the rest of us from moving forward when he could have just driven another block or two to the next stoplight or stop sign and then turn around come back to where he needed to turn off onto.  Really it is that simple!  I would like the auto manufacturers to develop a special bullhorn that can only be equipped on my car and it is the bullhorn that blast into everybody else's car when i have something to say or a "nice" suggestion to move on to the next intersection.  Then again, there's no bullhorn on someone else's car to blast into mine. You'll simply have to trust me that I'm a great driver and that my human heart is in perfect condition. NOT!

There's a message or theme that could be derived from waiting on someone else.  Isn't that life?  Life sometimes feel like you're waiting...and waiting...and waiting on someone else or some event to happen - like a new baby, a new job, a new house and so forth.  It seems like technology makes everything efficient and at the same time very inefficient.

I'll stop here because some of you might have a Pet Peeve in which you hate it when bloggers blog more than 3 paragraphs....and you have the perfect bullhorn on your computer in which you can blast me via my blog entries.  Wouldn't want to mess with you, eh?

Weekend Readings

Wouldn't it be cool if Keynes' prediction in 1930 would come true?  15-hour work week, enough productivity that would provide just enough to live on for everyone in society and so forth. Unfortunately he failed to take in account of the wicked human hearts of humanity (i.e. greed, wars, etc.)  Nevertheless this is a good article to read. How Much is Enough?

Interesting take on Yawning.

Fascinating story about the author of Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace. Ben-Hur

Wow -a brief, fascinating read on the recent shift of verbal engineering in the PC (Political Correct) Worldview. Words That Think For Us

A great quote from an article that un-intentionally and clearly give reason why you should be wary of the government school system (a.k.a. public schools) with their reign du jour educational philosophy:  The fetishisation of change is symptomatic of a mood of intellectual malaise, where notions of truth, knowledge and meaning have acquired a provisional character. Perversely, the transformation of change into a metaphysical force haunting humanity actually desensitises society from distinguishing between a passing novelty and qualitative change. That is why lessons learned through the experience of the past are so important for helping society face the future. When change is objectified, it turns into spectacle that distracts society from valuing the truths and insights it has acquired throughout the best moments of human history. Yet these are truths that have emerged through attempts to find answers to the deepest and most durable questions facing us, and the more the world changes the more we need to draw on our cultural and intellectual inheritance. If you wish to read more of this interesting article...Let's Give Children The Store Of Human Knowledge

One of my favorite author, Umberto Eco, gave a fascinating interview: We Like Lists Because We Don't Want To Die. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Eco's writing - one such book that is a must read on everyone's list is Mr. Eco's The Name of the Rose.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Just found out that one of my favorite singers, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, have formed a band called The Swell Season. And they're on tour!  They will be at The Pageant on December 4th.  I've already bought the tickets. I am PUMPED!

Some of you may know Glen Hansard from The Frames or you might know them from the movie Once which is one of my favorite movies as well. A little trivia:  you might also know Glen Hansard from another movie, The Commitments.

If you are not familiar with Glen and Marketa - you can check them out via Pandora.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Titanic Shift Revisited

Just talked to someone about this and they informed me that this bill has yet to pass the Senate.  For some reason I thought it had...  However, I think the democrat-controlled Senate will pass this bill. We'll see...

Titanic Shift Just Happened

Just saw the news - the House of Reps narrowly passed the Health Insurance Bill.  This is HUGE!  Nothing short of plate tectonic shifting around - creating earthquakes and mountains and crevasses. We have seen history in action.  It remains to be seen what this titanic shift in our domestic policy would actually do. In the words of the sage economist, Thomas Sowell: Always remember the distinction between intent and impact. You may feel good about this bill but what is the long-range impact. (Paraphrased).

 Here are some things that stood out to me when I perused the summary of the bill:

Health Insurance is a requirement - there will be a penalty or jail time if you are uninsured
No higher premiums for specific groups or classes (i.e. gender, pre-existing condtions, or medical history,etc.)
Those who can't afford insurance will get federal subsidies.

We are going to see some serious volatile times in the next few years...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Cheapest Detoxification Process

If you're into holistic medicine and love to detox your body to purge it free from toxins BUT you don't like the expensive products.  Look no further - there's a perfect, CHEAP detox product as I recently discovered:

Need I say more?

Gigi's Soccer Team

Gigi plays for her school's soccer team and they're undefeated.  Note from the picture that Gigi looks away while the coach is giving some serious soccer plays.  Gigi is a true independent, feminine princess!

The Glory of Being a Father

Gigi's Wish List

This is the cutest thing. Gigi has been laboring over this Christmas Wish List for the past few days.

Uncle Steve's Retaining Wall

One of the great benefits of having a handy brother-in-law (Uncle Steve) living with you. He built this retaining wall and plans on finishing the rest of the house. It will be cool...

Monday, November 2, 2009


Snuggies... Will somebody please tell me WHY  this is popular???

News of the Weird

Plastic Surgeon Weds Woman for 'Potential,' Performs 8 Surgeries on Wife

Enormous Jellyfish Sink Japanese Fishing Boat

Man Accidentally Pulls Eject Lever While Flying in Jet

Truth is Stranger than Fiction....

A REALLY interesting tidbit

Those of you St. Louisian (St. Louisan? Let's make it simple: Those of you Hoosiers!) might find it really interesting that in today's WSJ article, More College Presidents Get Million-Plus, that our own Webster University's president,Richard S. Meyers makes 1.43 million dollars!  Wow - the dude makes MORE money than the president of Vanderbilt University which in my humble opinioin is a 100-times more kosher and cooler than Webster University!  Quick research (NOT scientific statistical analysis -don't have time - do your own research at your own risk) shows that Harvard paid about $600K a year.  Yale paid about $900K. Princeton paid $600K.  These are in 2006 numbers.  So let's say we did a little upward adjustments - they still would not beat Webster's Meyers salary.  Let me restate again why this is fascinating: a little known university in Missouri not known for anything pays their president nearly twice as much as the presidents in Ivy League.  Now some of you may protest saying that those Ivy League presidents are probably getting nicer contacts, book signings, nice rent-free homes, prestige and so forth.  But still...Richard Meyers kid in kindergarten could still say to his classmate whose daddy is the president of Harvard: "My Daddy makes more money than yours!" It is all about perception rather than reality...sadly so.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Weekend Readings

Didn't even think that it was possible to induce snow by seeding the clouds: Chinese Meterology

Just in case you don't know...the church that I'm a member of: Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship

Ever since I've read  the famous linguistic Prof. McWhorter's book Word on the Street I've been a huge fan of Prof. John McWhorter of Columbia University.  His recent article did not fail to hold my attention: The Cosmopolitan Tongue

Interesting article: Beauty, Art and Darwin The author asked, " It is possible that we have a kind of built-in moral resistance to the runaway pathologies now visible in the arts. Where did that resistance come from?" - I'm still processing this article. Made many interesting points.

Whether you agree with climate change or not - Clive James's article In Praise of Skepticism was an enjoyable read.

Very informative article by the Washington Post on the H1N1 Flu (a side note: I've noticed that the CDC folks no longer call the flu by the origins - for example it originated in Mexico - so it should be called the Mexican Flu.  The Swine Flu has nothing to do with Swines...Guess PC reigns brightly here)


Quote of the Day:
"Dr. Paul Brand points out that every cell in the body has its own specific job, in interdependence with every other cell. The only cells which insist on being independent and autonomous are cancer cells."

--Madeleine L'Engle, A Stone for a Pillow, pg. 42

Wow!  Mary Ellen and I were reviewing the movie, A Wrinkle In Time, to see if it is appropriate for the kids. It is not...yet.  When the Great Geeg turns 8 or 9 - this might be a great book to read out loud with her.  Same for Ollie.  Anyway, I decided to do some research on the author, Madeleine L'Engle and came across this fascinating quote.  Although Ms. L'Engle meant it as a new age worldview in that everybody is inter-connected - I see the quote in a different way:  It is the body of Christ.  We are one in Christ - there's no autonomy in the Body.  Such autonomy are like cancer cells - they damage the Church.

Halloween 2009

Even though I'm sick as a dog - I mustered the strength to be there with my kids for Halloween. At the suggestion of my pastor, Andrew VanderMaas, we did our trick or treating over in a certain cool neighborhood in Richmond Heights where everyone goes hog wild with serious candies and decorations!   Anyway, Oliver was falling asleep so Mary Ellen stayed with him in the car while I soldiered on with the Great Geeg throughout the neighborhood - it was great. There was one house that even I got a little spooked (glad that Ollie didn't come or he would have nightmares for years to come).  But I digress... So... what's interesting about this particular neighborhood was that EVERYBODY asked the SAME THING: "So do you have a joke for us?" [A side note - growing up in KY - NOBODY asked us for a joke - we would think they're weird if they did.  Guess this is a Midwestern thing - kind of like calling rednecks "hoosiers" - whatever that means! Again, I digress...] So...the Great Geeg really only had one joke which was, "Where do the sheeps get their haircut?  At the Baa-Baa shop."  OK...since everybody was asking the same question - by the time we got to the 7th house. Gigi got really exasperated.  She was like throwing up her arms and saying, "Dude I've said this 7 times and do I have to do this????" It was hilarious.  But the real kicker was that we got to the 10th house and by then Gigi was glumly telling her joke which she has repeated 9 times before.  The guy with the candy at his house said, "Nope. Not good enough! Give me another one."  At that point I really thought the Great Geeg was going to kill the guy.  I gingerly stepped in and prodded Gigi with, "C'mon you can think of another one."  The guy, fearing for his life perhaps, asked gently with, "Well do you have a knock knock joke?"  To my relief, Gigi did have one: "Knock Knock. Who's there? Interrupting Cow. Interrupting Cow W...then Gigi yells, "MOO!"  That got the guy cracking up!  She scored her candy.  There were five more houses and five more of the same joke.  I was already getting tired too.  But she managed to make it through!  Next time - I'll have the kids memorize a lot of jokes...

One last of the "candies" was a bagged pretzel.  I'm not a complainer or even a quibbler - in fact I'm very laid back about life. But regarding Halloween treats - pretzels just don't do it for me. I PROMISE you that that pretzel will be the very last piece eaten in the next few day and it would probably be fed to Lucy our brother-in-law's (he lives with us) dog.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Miniature Worlds

While I'm laid up, I'm on on the net checking out some cool stuff on Ted.Com and Fast Company via Google Fast Flip.  I came across two cool artists who specialize in design of the Miniature Worlds.  These two artists, Willard Wigan and Nikolai Aldunin, are quite impressive. You should check them out if you got some time to kill - perhaps while you're laid up in bed fighting a nasty flu.

Gee Thanks!

My kids are finally well from Swine Flu! But...they managed to infect me.  Now I'm laid up in bed snivelling, chilly, grumpy and crabby.  Parenting is a Thankless Job!

Don't I look sickly while my beautiful daugher looks radiant in her PJ's?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Swine Flu

Yep - it is confirmed. On Tuesday the Pediatrician told us that Gigi and Oliver have Swine Flu.  However... they've been without a fever for more than 24 hours - so it seems like they're on the mend.  After all they're back to fighting over toys and books...

The latest in the battle between the Gigi and Ollie

 I love my kids! They're sweet and wonderful except when they're fighting.Usually they're fighting over a toy or a book. Tonight there was a big brouhaha as to who gets to read the one and only copy of Curious George.  Out of hundreds of books on their shelf they HAD to fight over Curious George.

Sleepless in St. Louis?

It is official - this October has been the wettest on record (dating as far as 1870) - to date we've had 8.5 inches of rain thus far and we have 3 more days before October is over.  I feel like we're in Seattle! I hate prolonged rainy weather - it really dampens my mood. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Political Digression

Those of you who know me know that I'm a bit of a political junkie - I just love watching this circus we call the Federal Government - especially the foibles of our elected officials.  Take Pelosi for example - she came out with a new twist on the Public Option Health Insurance Plan by doing some neat verbal engineering by calling it Competitive Option.   I love it - it is very interesting twist. Reminds me of a book that I recently read, Words That Work, by Frank Lutz on how to engage in verbal engineering.

Imagine if a government were to print out a list of every citizen and next to their names - they would include how much money they make and how wealthy they are.  Wouldn't that be a bit creepy or what?  Well, Norway just took this dramatic route and made such a list public: Norway Open Tax Records.

It is always good to have someone finally come clean about their agenda.  Barney Frank, a Democrat Senator, has come out and in plainly states that he wants to increase the role of government in America. Lest I come across as a right-winger - I would wag the same finger at the Republicans and say that they didn't exactly decrease the role of government before Obama.

Call me cynical but I wouldn't exactly think it'd be great when a communist tabloid, the Pravda, is now claiming that America is finally turning the corner and becoming a socialist country: America Moving From Kingdom of Cash to Socialism

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another Benefit of Homeschooling?

I'm speechless.  This little boy looks like a little muscle...

Yuppie 911

Just read an interesting article in which folks can buy an emergency beacon that can be activated when they're in danger out in the wilds.  Say if you were camping and you got lost in the forest and need help - you push this little button and the Search and Rescue (SAR) team will come running - honing in on your distress signals.  What's really interesting is that these beacons have led people to become more complacent in their outdoor activities - knowing that they have such failsafe system in place -they're taking on more risk.  If they hadn't had the beacon would they have attempted to summit a mountain without much water or food?  The Search and Rescue Teams hate these distress calls because it puts them in needless danger to help someone who put themselves in harm's way - the SARs call these calls Yuppie 911.

Interestingly -in the finance field we have a similar phenomenon - we call it the Minsky Moment.  It is when investors get lulled into a false sense of security because they know the Government will bail them out or that the Fed will do whatever it takes to protect the economy.  And over time this false sense of security grows and grows while at the same time investors are piling on ever more risks in their portfolio. Folks start to leverage their portfolio to insane heights - even the SEC looked the other way when financial institutions surpassed the leverage limit of 12 to 1 ratio.  Some banks were leveraged 30 to 1!  The Minksy Moment, named after Hyman Minsky, is the point at which the investors incur major cash flow problems because their debt have spiraled out of control due to their leveraging activities. When this happens - a major selloff ensue which leads to a huge drop in market liquidity because no one wants to be the buyer of these bad debts.

Whether it is Yuppie 911 or the Minsky Moment - it highlights one of the flaws of human nature...namely that we are so easily blinded or distracted that we don't see things the way they really are.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

TED Revisited

I am a HUGE fan of TED ( TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design. Just check it out and see it for yourself.  I recently saw a neat and inspiring story tonight.  Here's the link. Enjoy!

Weekend Readings

Tracking of NWA flight that overshot Minneapolis by 150 miles...Comfortable yet?: Flight Aware
Excellent Article on the American Food Revolution
Those of you who know me know that I'm a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell. Here's an interesting article on him and his latest book, What the Dog Saw.  Speaking are three of Gladwell's book that you should, if you have not, read: Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers.
One of my favorite,thought-provoking economist on "multi-tasking": Tyler Cowen
Also another favorite economist from the same George Mason University where Prof. Cowen also teaches, Donald Boudreaux, on his defense of insider trading. Really thought-provocative!
Last but not least, I leave you with Bono's quasi-defense of Obama's Peace Prize: Rebranding America

On Books... Recently I polished off an excellent book about Warren Buffett, The Snowball. It is one of the best books I've read since Roger Lowenstein's Buffett:The Making of American Capitalist

Currently I'm reading a fascinating book on vampire mythology: Slayers And Their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead . Bruce A. McClelland is a writer, translator, and vampirologist in Gordonsville, Virginia. He received his Ph.D. in Slavic Studies at the University of Virginia. His work on vampires has appeared in Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies. He has published four books of poetry, a book of translations of the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, and his translations of Russian poetry have appeared in journals, books, and anthologies.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Driving with Cognitive Dissonance

Tonight I'm driving down interstate 64/Highway 40 and I see this nice bright interactive sign that is flashing:


In other words - the police is solemnly warning us of their prowess in giving out speeding tickets. Somehow they think this would be a deterrent.  I'm telling you it is not!  I actually had to fight this overwhelming urge not to speed up.  For those of you who really know me - I'm a slow driver and I almost always go speed limit but this sign made me want to go fast.  Think about it...out of about 150,000 average daily drivers on this route (actually in 2006 according to MODOT it was 133,389 so I made some adjustments) - they managed to nab a cumulative 445 speeders.  Let's do the math:

129 days (June 15 to Oct. 24) X 150,000 = 19,350,000 total amount of driving
445/19,350,000 =.000023 (rounded)

I think somebody might want to tell the PR Dept. at the Police HQ that this could be a potential marketing nightmare...

Friday, October 23, 2009

The New New Thing...

On Tuesday I was ambling along Covenant Seminary campus and I saw a person wear these five-finger toe shoes. I kid you not.  I have seen the future!

News of the Weird

Folks I'm not making this stuff up. They say truth is stranger than fiction. Read at your own risk:

Happy Halloween in your Laz-Boy Chair!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What's in a Name?

Lemme Splain Sumthin' here! First of all, I'm a true blue southerner hence my fondness of bowties. I wear them everyday to work. Secondly... has NOTHING whatsoever to do with Ohio. And I don't even follow sports! I just love the inedible horse chestnuts known as Buckeyes - they're simple, smooth and beautiful. I usually take one or two with me to work to hold or to play with.

So in a nutshell - Bowties and Buckeyes seems right. Email me if you differ...