Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's a Father's Job To Embarrass His Kids Dept

Ironically enough, it was my son who directed my attention to this.

I am given to understand that the "F" stands for "funny." Seems to me the younger generation needs to work on its grammer...

UPDATE: Okay, but I like this one much better:

Today, I learned that when blender jars aren't locked, they fly off the blender, into the air, hit you in the head and explode all over your kitchen. Today, I also learned that after I'm attacked by a flying blender, the first thing my boyfriend asks is if I'm still gonna make him a smoothie.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Question That Can't Possibly End Well Dept

So I'm sitting in a teleconference demo where a software vendor is trying to show off her shiny new accounting software, and we get to the Q&A period. I'm already thinking I've seen about all that's going to be helpful and that I should probably sneak out and find something useful to do, when the disembodied voice of some accountant from some other company begins a question thusly:

"So let's say you're keeping two sets of books..."

So I went ahead and left without hearing the rest of the question, because, really, how is any accountant going to finish a sentence that starts like that without putting everybody else present in legal jeopardy? "So let's say you're keeping two sets of books -- how can we use your software to keep the auditors from finding out?"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Outfit of the Day Dept

I don't think the kilt, by itself, would be enough to say, "We have a winner!" Even that pastel, off-kilter (so to speak) tank top might not take us to the point where we could be confident that another contestant might not show up today to challenge this gentleman for the title.

But the loose-fitting half-length cowboy work boots, sans socks, seal the deal -- even more than you can tell from this picture, which fails to capture the fact, obvious in a side view, that the dude has such scrawny ankles that there's a good two inches of airspace between the shin and the front of the boot.

Frankly, I have to confess to a certain admiration for any man so plainly and utterly unconcerned with the opinions of the convention-bound rabble.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cool pictures of some really great big holes

Tina Scott sent me some pretty cool pictures earlier today -- basically a geography lesson on great big ol' whoppin' holes found various places in the world. She didn't have any volcano craters but still, this is pretty cool stuff.

Let's start with Mother Nature's handiwork.

Great Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Belize.

This incredible geographical phenomenon known as a blue hole is situated sixty miles off the mainland of Belize. There are numerous blue holes around the world, but none more stunning than this one. It's almost a thousand feet in diameter and is more than 400 feet deep. (Take three Statues of Liberty and stack them on top of each other. You'll be able to see the top thirty feet of the third one's torch and arm sticking up out of the water.)

Guatemalan sinkhole of February 2007.

Two teenagers and their father dead. A thousand people evacuated. A 330-foot straight drop to the bottom. (The picture at the link may be even more stunning but is presumably copyrighted.)

Now let's see what the hand of man can pull off.

"Glory Hole" at Monticello Dam in California.

Remember when the spillway at Canyon Dam couldn't handle the flood flow a few years back and the lake overflowed over a saddle in the ring of hills surrounding it and ripped all hell out of the mountainside? Here's one way engineers try to keep that from happening: the "glory hole." This particular one is the glory hole at Monticello Dam, and it's the largest in the world of this type of spillway, its size enabling it to consume 14,400 cubic feet of water -- per second.

"Kimberley Big Hole", South African diamond mine

Claiming to be the largest ever hand-dug excavation in the world (though the Jagersfontein Mine claims to be slightly-bigger-though-not-as-deep, nyah, nyah), this 1,097-meter-deep mine yielded over three tons of diamonds before being closed. (That's 3,600 feet to Americans.)

And by the way, DeBeers has a message for all you husbands out there: "Diamonds -- Render Her Speechless." Or, as Ron White helpfully translates: "Diamonds -- that'll shut 'er up."

The Great Rat Hole

Finally we have mankind at its most destructive:

"This," adds Tina, "is the famous 'Rat Hole' that you may have heard about. It is capable of swallowing trillions and trillions of U.S. dollars annually, never to be heard from again. It is also reputed to contain at least 535 'Ass Holes.'"

Thanks, T!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

So much worse than I thought

My BlackBerry is getting crankier and crankier, and it's getting harder and harder to get good reception with it, which means the kids have gotten used to saying something to me and then getting back an answer that makes no sense at all...because I completely misunderstood what they said. And up until now it's just been alternately either moderately annoying or moderately amusing.

But some misunderstanding are worse than others, and a couple of days I got it very badly wrong indeed, and unfortunately it wasn't until today that I found out that I had everything garbled. When Miss Damaris called me on Thursday with the tragic news of her dad's death, her first words -- I thought -- were, "Mr. Pierce, I was just calling to let you know that there's been an accident, a tragedy in my family, and my dad was killed." And so I hopped on the blog and asked you guys to pray for her dad, who had been killed in a car accident. Well, I don't know what it really is that she said when I thought she said "accident" (maybe she said "tragedy" twice? that's about all I can come up with), but she certainly didn't really call it an "accident," because it was nothing of the kind. Silvia's husband, Damaris and Danny's dad -- he was murdered.

Without going into much detail -- for after all my friends have asked only to be prayed for, not to be blogged about -- Lupe (for that was his name) was a lawyer, and he was murdered by one of his own clients, who got angry when Lupe came to ask for the money the guy owed him. So however much you've been praying for them already...double or triple or quadruple it. I couldn't imagine what they were going through when I thought it was just a car wreck; but for Lupe to have been murdered by one of the very people he had tried to help...if you're one of Lupe's kids, how are you supposed to deal with that?

I took some spaghetti and garlic bread over there tonight and wound up staying longer than I intended, just listening to Damaris talk about her dad. I wish you could have heard the love in her voice when she talked about him. Pain, too, of course, but mostly love. Most of what she said, naturally, I have to consider sort of private, but one thing I imagine she wouldn't mind you guys knowing is that Lupe never forgot how tough it was for him when he first got to America, and so even after he had become a successful lawyer he would frequently go back to where the day laborers hung out and find an excuse to help a couple of them out. And when she talked about how charming he was and how everybody liked him, and how he was always cheerful even when he had had a crappy day...well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree; she could have been talking about either herself or Danny, and in particular there's no question where Daniel got that pure-silver tongue of his.

Well. I wish I'd had the chance to meet him. There aren't many people in the world I like more than I like his two kids, and there's obviously a whole bunch of their daddy in 'em. In the meantime, Lupe Galván will be in my prayers along with the rest of my family. And I'd take it as a personal favor if you'd remember him sometime in yours as well -- along with the friends and (especially) family he was snatched away from.

Conflict Of Allegiance Dept

Every so often, just for a moment, does it ever happen that you suddenly see yourself the way other people must see you -- from outside, as it were, as if you were a stranger to yourself? It happens to me occasionally, at least. And I had one of those moments earlier this morning.

I'm here at Java Dave's, whither I came (since Dessie's month with the kids just started and none of the Troika will be awake before noon at the earliest) to do some Bible study and some blogging. In the event I wound up spending most of the morning on the phone dealing with some painful personal business that is off topic and is going to stay that way. And when I finally came back to the table where I had set down my personal effects, I suddenly saw the table as if it belonged to somebody else...and realized I must seem to be in the middle of the mother of all Divided-Loyalty Fails.

The Devil's Dictionary: Learning (n.)

The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.

The Devil's Dictionary: Laziness (n.)

Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.

The Devil's Dictionary: Lawyer (n.)

One skilled in circumvention of the law.

The Devil's Dictionary: Lawful (adj.)

Compatible with the will of a judge having jurisdiction.

And right now the Democrats among us, who see nothing wrong with Obama's having made "empathy" with the right sort of people -- namely, people more likely to vote for him -- an explicit and open prerequisite for getting his nomination to the Supreme Court, are scratching their heads and saying, "Um...I don't get it. Why is that supposed to be funny?"

[grinning] Nah, just yankin' y'all's chain a bit.

The Devil's Dictionary: Laocoon (n.)

A famous piece of antique sculpture representing a priest of that name and his two sons in the folds of two enormous serpents. The skill and diligence with which the old man and lads support the serpents and keep them up to their work have been justly regarded as one of the noblest artistic illustrations of the mastery of human intelligence over brute inertia.

(Okay, for those of you who, not having been classics majors in previous lives, would just look blank if I were to say, "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes," and therefore aren't quite sure why I think this is so funny, this is a classical reference to a famous statue portraying a figure from the Trojan War -- at least, the Aeneid's version of it -- as explained here.)

The Devil's Dictionary: Language (n.)

The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure.

The Devil's Dictionary: Labor (n.)

One of the processes by which A acquires property for B.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Earnest prayer request

If you read my blog regularly, you've become familiar with what my co-workers have called "Kenny's Mexican family" ever since this little episode. Every so often Sylvia or Damaris/Daniela (whose name varies by context) or Daniel wanders through these blog posts. But, although I haven't made a point of it, you've probably noted the absence of Sylvia's husband from any of those anecdotes. That's because he went back to Mexico several years ago and hasn't been back since, although he and Sylvia have never gotten divorced.

Three or four days ago he was killed in a car wreck in Mexico. Both those kids loved their dad, and Daniel in particular was about to leave to go spend the summer with him (Damaris can't take a whole summer off work but Daniel's still just 15). Well. He went to his dad's funeral instead.

So I'd be very grateful if you'd pray for my friends Sylvia, Damaris and Daniel.

Avoidance of Personal Responsibility Dept

WOMAN AT WASHATERIA WHO HAS JUST MADE AN ANNOYING DISCOVERY: Oh, no! These clothes forgot to get washed!

PERIL [to himself]: Yeah, what were they thinking?

Very proud Dad/Papa

Two daughters graduated last week. I'm very proud of them both, though for different reasons.

Kasia graduated magna cum laude and got a full, free-ride scholarship to St. John's University (which is in New York) as a participant in their honors program. When you consider the family turmoil that she's been having to survive throughout her high school career, an already impressive achievement becomes pretty jaw-dropping, I think you'd have to admit.

I tried to take pictures but the zoom feature on my BlackBerry camera app chose graduation night to stop working. It took me a while even to find Kasia among the several hundred graduates...I finally did it by figuring out what number she was in line, and how many students were seated in each row, and then locating her seat -- which was directly behind a tall dude, and that's why I hadn't been able to spot her. So I got up and moved to a place where I could see her, and then I just watched her throughout the rest of the evening as she smiled, and high-fived friends, and sniffled, and at one point stopped right in the middle of the act of wiping tears from her eyes to cover her mouth for a prodigious yawn. And then of course there was the moment when Kasia handed the card with "Kasia Krystyna Pierce" written on it to the woman at the edge of the stage, who handed it to the guy who was reading the names, who opened his mouth, did a double-take, closed his mouth, leaned away from the mike towards Kasia, asked a question, got his answer, leaned back to the mike and said firmly, "KAH-sha KrisTIna Pierce."

I still remember so vividly the first time I held her in my arms, when she was just a couple of minutes old. And I wish I could say I don't feel old enough to have a daughter graduating from high school; but then the truth is I've aged about fifteen years in the last four; so...yeah, actually, I do feel that old.

Anyway, congratulations, Kasia. I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of you. I love you more than you can possibly know or I can possibly express.

Then there was Natasha, who has had her own challenges to overcome over the years, of course, and who I was afraid wasn't going to be allowed to walk the stage because -- get this -- she didn't have foreign language credits. Obviously everybody at the school knows she speaks fluent Russian, but the school doesn't offer Russian and doesn't have anybody who can officially certify that she knows Russian, and so they didn't know how to give her credit. But in the end I called our local state representative and said, "I am CERTAIN that the legislature's intent was not to force this kid to be TRI-lingual, and that there must be SOME way for the high school to give her credit while satisfying TEA regulations. If you could find out who at TEA knows how to do it and have them call the counselors and explain, I would be very grateful." Which they did, and so Natasha was given credit for having, thanks to some extremely hard work this year, satisfied Stafford High School's requirements for graduation.

And I'll tell you something, if you let one of my Kazakhstani kids walk across the graduation stage, then I'm gonna yell, "MOLODYÉTS! so loud that people on the other side of the auditorium turn their heads. I'm tellin' you, I know -- I've seen me do it.

Так, тебе тоже, Наташенька, поздравляю, и тебя очень, очень люблю.

Natasha on Friday, Kasia on all choked up twice in three days. Thank God graduation season is over for the year...

Hat Tip: to Ron White, from whom I shamelessly stole the line, "I know -- I've seen me do it," though I hasten to say in a very different context from the original.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

But Can She Do the Breast Stroke? Dept

OK, so I needed to open a copy of Microsoft Word at this computer I'm borrowing from the coffee shop, and I couldn't find the icon; so I just figured I'd grab one of the "recent documents" and use that to get into Word. There was one called "My Resume" and I figured I didn't need to worry about accidentally accessing private information in that particular document; so I clicked on it.

And while I won't tell you the young lady's name, I can't resist passing on the first paragraph, suitably emphasized by yours truly:
Waitress (“Hooters Girl”), Hooters (12/08 – Present)

But wait -- just in case you don't know what a “Hooters Girl” is, the lady helpfully explains in detail:
Waitress full-time as a “Hooters Girl”. This includes greeting tables, bussing and cleaning tables, taking orders, serving food, helping promote events at our Hooters location, keeping restaurant clean and organized, stocking work stations, visiting with guests, answering the phone at times, acting as a good team player, keeping customers happy, and any other random duties asked of us by the managers.

I didn't think she was going to mention the uniforms, but then she got to the "keeping customers happy" part...and the males among us are now mighty curious about those "other random duties"...

After that I couldn't resist looking over the rest of the thing (hey, maybe BG is hiring, eh?), and we also find the following:
Team Enterprises, Miller Lite Promotional Model (8/08-11/08)
Promoted and marketed the Miller Lite beer brand at on-site location promotions such as bars and various clubs throughout the greater Houston area. This included wearing a type of uniform and going out to different places and giving out free beer as we talked to all of the customers there about the brand and how it compares to others. We also played games to help get attention and increase knowledge about our product.

It even has her cell phone number on it...hmm, perhaps I needn't bother with that application to the Russian mail order bride company...

Obedezca Señales! Dept

I don't know whether you can tell from the picture, but the sign says, "Gates must remain closed."

(The title of the post comes from the road signs one sees at regular intervals when driving through Mexico, commanding you to "Obey the signs!" I've always found that intrinsically amusing...though not quite as surrealistically pointless as the sign that used to sit out in the middle of a field in England, which sign read, "Do not throw stones at this sign!")

'Scuse Me, Mr. HEB Person, What Aisle...? Dept

Reminds me of the classic bit of dialogue from one of the Addams Family movies:

PERKY GIRL SCOUT TO WEDNESDAY (that's Christina Ricci's gloriously straight-faced Addams-daughter character): Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?

WEDNESDAY: That depends -- are they made out of genuine Girl Scouts?

Another old-guy-in-a-bar joke

Since I recently told one from this same genre, more or less:

An elderly gentleman walks up to a pretty young thing at a bar and asks politely, " I come here often?"

"Hey, They Broke the Rules!" Dept

A blonde, a brunette and a redhead are in a swimming race against each other. The brunette barely beats the redhead in a thrilling photo finish, with a time of a minute thirty flat. Five minutes later the blonde reaches the finish line and leaps out of the pool full of righteous indignation, demanding that the judges disqualify her opponents for cheating.

JUDGE #1: What do you mean, cheating?

BLONDE: [in outrage] They were using their arms!

JUDGE #2: So how is that cheating?

BLONDE: We were supposed do be doing the breast stroke!

T-Shirts of the Day Dept

Two T-shirts I saw today:

Wine improves with age...and vice versa.

Despite the high cost of living, it remains a popular choice.

Natasha adds two of her favorites:

[below a picture of a beckoning Darth Vader] Join the Dark Side...we have cookies.

[likely to be a favorite of parents of teenaged girls, especially if said parents are rednecks] Silence is golden. Duct tape is silver.

UPDATE: I went looking for pictures of these T-shirts on the web and came across a sign that reads: "Wine improves with age -- the older I get, the better I like it."

Monday, June 01, 2009

How do you say "Three pictures are worth three thousand words" in North Korean?

'Cause, as the anonymous friend who sent me points out, Kim Jong Il is behaving like somebody who has seen these pictures...

(Yes, I know this isn't the Politics of the Peril blog, but that's because I take this as a joke, not as serious political commentary.)

Quick Fiddler reaction; more later when I have time

In a word: magnificent. Topol is one heckuva spry seventy-three-year-old, and that astonishing speaking voice of his, with its timber and range and expressiveness, has lost nothing over the years -- a Stradivarius of an instrument played by a master.

Also, as much as I love Fiddler, it is very difficult for me to watch, and I hadn't actually sat down and watched it in several years. And I was completely and disastrously taken off guard by something I didn't suspect: it is much harder on me to watch the show now that I have daughters who call me "Papa" than it was when my only two daughters both called me "Daddy." You wouldn't think it would make that much difference but it did. And if it makes that much difference in my empathy and identification with Tevye just to hear Tzeitl and Hodel and Chava addressing him the way Anya and Natasha and Kinya address me, I can only imagine what it must be like if you're actually a Russian Jewish papa...I myself could hardly bear to watch the train station scene (and in fact didn't see the last minute or so of it last night because I had unaccountably gone blind), and I'm not sure if I were Russian and Jewish that I'd be able to make it all the way through to the end at all.

More thoughts later; have to work at the moment. Just wanted to say it was a great show and a delightful night.