Tag Archives: musings

Take Me Out…

3 Apr

Yesterday I sat down to watch the opening day baseball game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. I have always enjoyed baseball, both watching and playing, but the least interesting thing to me at any baseball game these days is when the home team takes the time before the game to introduce both teams, including bench players and support staff, to the crowd and then makes all of them lineup along the baselines and doff their caps and wave.

Perhaps once upon a time this was okay because the players were regular working men, just like you or your dad, and these guys represented your home team, maybe for years on end and most likely throughout their entire careers, so it was nice to see them introduced and waving to the crowd while you waved back and got ready for the long season of baseball ahead…but now they are mostly all millionaire mercenaries who are just passing through your home town until their contracts expire or they are suspended for drug abuse or some other such extravagance.

Anyway, maybe it’s just a sign of my age, for all things change over time and those ball[players are wealthy because we baseball fans buy merchandise and memorabilia and watch on cable and at the ballpark in numbers and with a disposable income that would boggle any third world mind…and I have to also admit that my team, (like I’m a part owner) The Yankees, has a new pitcher on their staff that is paid more money than the entire Houston Astros team so…there is that bit of first world insanity.

And yet what flabbergasted me most during that interminably long opening ceremony was that one of the last members of the Houston Astros baseball team to be introduced was their Massage Therapist! There’s no massage in baseball!!! At least there never was. But if there now must be, can’t these guys afford their own massages???

I’m sure The Babe, Joe D. and Mickey indulged in some after game therapy of their own on occasion but they probably got the kind of massages that came with happy endings… and they paid for it themselves… at least!

Geez, baseball and full time massage therapy! It can’t get much better than that can it? Three hours of work every day… of which maybe 15 minutes actually involves their running around and performing at top skill proficiency. You wouldn’t think they’d need so many drugs to keep themselves in top shape, let alone massaging at regular intervals.

And then the game started and they all proceeded to play as though it were opening day at the local little league…what with all the tripping and the falling and the overthrowing and the bobbling… not to mention the swinging and the missing! Did you know that last year Major League Baseball players set a new major league record by collectively striking out over 36,000 times?! That’s at least 108,000 swings and misses. Throw in foul balls and pitches out of the strike zone and when you consider all of the nothing that happens at a ballgame, professional ball players make the opening day ceremonies look like a veritable Zumba Fitness Party!

Still with all of that twisting and turning and swinging and missing and falling over and getting up again, I guess it’s no wonder that having a regular massage therapist on board makes a lot of sense for a baseball team. And just to make sure, I even checked the Yankees roster on-line and yep, they have a massage therapist too! And wouldn’t you know it, they have someone on their staff that not even the Houston Astros have thought of employing…not yet anyway….

…and that would be Mr. Chad Bohling…Director of Mental Conditioning!

Maybe the Yankees are on to something. However, when it comes to baseball these days… and professional sports in general…I am beginning to believe that it’s us fans, and not the rich, pampered and adored players, who are really in need of having our heads examined.

 

We Won’t Get Fooled Again…We Hope

2 Apr

When you’re a teacher, the hardest day of the year is always the first day of school…but the second most difficult day of the year, as far as I was concerned, was always April Fools Day. That was always the day when your students seemed to feel that they would be immune from punishment for whatever ridiculous and silly prank they could think up, so you always had to be on the lookout for your April fools. Woe to the teacher who did not keep track of the day and date and know what day it was!

I would always check ahead on the calendar and hope that April first fell on a Saturday or Sunday or perhaps even Spring break…but of course there was always the “sick day” that hopefully one had available just in case your particular pool of students that year was more fool-ish than friendly…

So here’s to all of you teachers out there and hoping that your day today was a good one…and also fool free!

Of Heaven and Homophily

31 Mar

Does anyone practice religion in heaven, and if so, what for?

Rise of the Machines III

29 Mar

Here is something that I just cannot seem to wrap my head around.

According to a news article that I recently came across, Pedestrian train accidents have been increasing dramatically. In 2013 (Through Aug. 31), there had been 352 pedestrian deaths compared with 281 during the same period in 2012, a 25 percent rise. The fatality rate in the first eight months of 2013 was the highest in a decade.

How does one manage to get hit by a train? I mean, first of all they are gigantic, mechanical locomotives! Secondly, they make tremendous amounts of noise and they have really loud horns that they blow when they see you and you don’t see them! And thirdly, and I think most importantly, they can only be found…on train tracks!

And yet there has been a growing phenomenon not only found in humans on train tracks but also among humans everywhere, called “distracted walking,” where pedestrians can lose a sense of their surroundings as they text and chat on mobile phones. Injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and these numbers are even believed to be underreported.

Perhaps you have crossed paths with one of these techno zombies or have been accused of occasionally having the infection? But might not this strange human behavior be the result of a sinister plot hatched by these very same and increasingly more ubiquitous and ever more self-cognizant machines!… In their attempt to take over humanity?

I realize that 352 human fatalities on train tracks (compared to all of humanity) isn’t very many…but if you are the machines…

It could be considered a start. Could it not? How else to explain…being run down…by a train???

New Jersey’s Big Fat Investigation

28 Mar

The verdict is in!

New Jersey has just spent 1 million tax payer dollars for a complete investigation of our Governor’s possible involvement in the closing of 3 lanes of the George Washington Bridge and the creation of a massive traffic jam, as payback for a Democratic mayor who did not support him.

And the Survey says: Governor Christie knew nothing!

That sure is comforting.

It’s always nice to know that your governor’s close personal friends and appointed aides are working hard for him and your state, without his direction nor his knowledge of what they are doing.

And who conducted this thorough and complete investigation?…for the tidy sum of 1 million dollars?

The governor’s close personal friends of course!

The law firm responsible for the investigation, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, has worked for the Christie administration previously. Debra Wong Yang, one of the top partners at the firm, is a friend of Governor Christie and, employees of the firm have previously donated money to Governor Christie’s campaign for statewide office…And three of the Governor’s aides, who were most integrally involved in the scandal, refused to be interviewed by the investigators…which is always nice to know.

They don’t do law in real life like they do it on TV do they? I sure hope the lunches were good.

But, I guess that when you are only paying 1 million dollars for an internal investigation you can’t expect the investigation to be very thorough. I mean really, how many billable hours can you expect from a top notch law firm when you are only paying them 1 million dollars??? Perhaps the Governor might want to look into cutting some of these wasteful, overpaid lawyers from the state budget just like he did with the wasteful, overpaid policemen, firemen and teachers a few years back.

Oh well, just more money down the New Jersey political drain. I wonder if any of that 1 million will find its way back to the Governor through campaign contributions from his favorite law firm. That’s probably very impolite of me to wonder and I’m sure the Governor wouldn’t know anything about that anyway since he’s going to be so busy running for the Presidency over the next 2 years, to pay much attention to the job that I do believe we tax payers are paying him to do…for us.

Wow! What a big, fat waste of time!

The investigation I mean.

Shameless

24 Mar

I’m always receiving lots of junk Email in my inbox. Probably you do too. Most of it goes straight to my spam folder but every once in a while some slip through to my inbox and that’s mostly because every once in a while I can’t help but open one up just to see what it says. I’m sure that sets off an alarm in my browser that tells the internet police, “Hey! This guy will read anything! Send him more!”

Today I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this one titled: Background Checks: Find Out Your Parents’ Past Crimes!

If you’re curious about your parents’ past crimes, it just might be time to pack up and leave the house…unless of course you feel  they’ve been cheating you on your allowance and owe you more money for the lookout work you’ve been helping them out with… or maybe you feel they’ve been moonlighting with another gang late at night after you’ve been sent to your room to do your homework.

Here was another Email with the heading: Shameless Liars and Thieves!

It was from a Republican newsletter and after I opened it, it immediately identified the shameless liars and thieves as…the government. (As if I didn’t already know) but what had they done this time? Apparently our government has been withholding the secret to a cure for cancer for over 85 years! (I guess that means Republicans have been in on in too!)

Anyway, the short memo, as it’s called, goes on and on and on and explains that the good Dr. Al Sears knows the cure for cancer, aging, obesity, arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s, and even graying hair! In fact he knows the cure for everything! All you have to do is purchase his newsletter and buy and read his 5 volume set about how to cure everything. And somehow the government can no longer stop him! Hooray for the internet! Hooray!

Of course, as any English teacher can tell you, always read to the end before answering any questions or filling out any forms because if you scroll down to the very end of this rag sheet you’ll find this disclaimer:

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Well, I suppose you’ve got to give them some credit. After all, they did put the words Shameless Liars and Thieves right there in the title to their Email. You just had to read to the end to find out that they were talking about themselves…

Now, If only someone could find a cure for people who behave like that!…or is it being kept a secret?

Wanna Bet?

19 Mar

Warren Buffet, Quicken Loans and Yahoo Sports are teaming up to offer 1 billion dollars to the first sports enthusiast to correctly pick a perfect bracket of winners for the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament. However, They are limiting the number of contestants to 15 million and should more than one sports enthusiast win, then they will have to split the prize.

But, I wouldn’t worry about that because the odds of picking 63 tournament games correctly are…

9.2 quintillion-to-1!

But that’s if you are just guessing, otherwise, if you know something about NCAA basketball, experts say that your odds increase to…

128 billion- to-1!…So it is possible.

But, no one has ever had a perfect bracket in over 30 million entries in the ESPN competition, which began in 1998…So, it’s a pretty safe bet that this is just a gigantic publicity stunt and an attempt to entice some folks to refinance their homes with a Quicken Loan, while they attempt to fill out their brackets on-line.

But, let’s just say that just one someone…perhaps myself…has picked 62 games correctly… and now with just 1 game to go between the 2 remaining teams, say, Boondock College Vs. MegaState University, and all the world focuses on…ME… to see whether or not I will become an overnight billionaire! And it all hinges on one game! Winner take all! Loser gets Nada. What Hoopla! What Excitement!

And here’s why that could never happen.

If I need Boondock College to win the game so I can become a billionaire all I have to do is to announce that if I win, every player on Megastate U. will get 1 million dollars, and I’ll even throw in 10 million dollars to the University to use for scholarships or bills or whatever…and to be completely fair and magnanimous, I’ll announce the same largess to the Boondock College players and university; A benevolent gift for all involved…as long as I win of course… because I won’t be a billionaire should I lose will I?

I won’t be asking anyone to lose on purpose or not play fair or even suggest anything improper or out of the ordinary. I will just make known my planned generosity should I win the final game of my bracket. I’ll even put in in writing. A total of about 50 million dollars in gifts to all players and both Colleges involved in this most momentous event…after all I stand to win 1,000 million so what’s 50 give or take?

Of course once I do that, everyone in the USA and world for that matter, will bet on Boondock College to win. How could they lose? That would mean that Las Vegas would have to immediately cancel all betting and Warren Buffet might as well just get out his check book and start writing and the NCAA would probably just cancel the game anyway because what a circus this would become…heck, I might as well just make my announcement when I get to the final 4. That would be a 100 million dollar pledge on a 1,000 million dollar win so…maybe I’ll just do it when I get to the elite 8? Then 200 gets me 1,000. How about the sweet 16?

In any event, 1 billion dollars is a lot of money and sooner or later I’m betting that the NCAA would just have to shut down the tournament and send the students back to class. (Did I just use NCAA, students and class all in the same sentence?) Anyway, 1 billion dollars may not be a lot of money to Yahoo, Quicken Loans, Warren Buffet or, sadly, even the NCAA… but to us regular folks and poor college athletes, I’m pretty sure it could buy a lot of good will and some creative play making in the final stages of the… “tournament”.

What do you think?

Are You a Welfare Queen?

13 Mar

Do you live in a community that has received federal aid as part of a recovery from a natural disaster like a hurricane, flood or tornado? Have you ever participated in a job training program? Have you, your spouse or child ever received an education grant, like a Pell Grant as part of a student college loan? Did your child ever attend a Head Start for pre-schoolers program?  Was money ever spent on your behalf to enforce child support orders? Did you partake in a program that helped to improve your teachers’ skills? Have you been involved in any screening programs to detect breast and cervical cancer in you community? Has anyone in your family ever attended a college or university that received federal money as part of a program to strengthen their management and fiscal operations? Did you work for Americorps- which trains and places teachers in low income communities? Or do you live in a community that has received federal assistance in upgrading their water and sewage systems? Maybe you take a child tax credit or earned income credit on your tax return. Does your elderly parent or perhaps you, if you are a senior citizen, receive housing assistance?

Well then, according to the Republican party members in Congress, operating conservative think tanks and Fox news, you’re on Welfare!

Because, When so called conservatives lump all of these programs together and call them welfare and then calculate how much money is being spent on these programs and then divide that number by only those folks who are living under the poverty line, they come up with a whopping total of $61,320 spent by the federal government on welfare recipients, which is 168 dollars per day which means that people on welfare are making 21 dollars an hour per day, everyday, even on Saturday and Sunday, to sit around and do nothing! That’s 11,000 dollars more than the average middle class family earns in America! Aren’t you outraged?????

And then when you consider that President Obama himself is writing these checks, and licking the envelopes and stamps and then mailing them out to all of these welfare recipients (all of whom he knows personally… because they used to go to school together) (or rather skipped school and smoked marijuana together) Then aren’t you doubly outraged!!!

It’s no wonder the good old USA is going to hell in a hand basket. You work hard every day and pay taxes and yet no good lazy bums are lounging around all day with 61,000 dollars and change in their pockets doing nothing. And they get free healthcare too! Don’t forget that! All in all, when you consider all of the extra perks, besides the welfare checks, these good for nothing poor folks are making upwards of $80,000 and using food stamps to buy lobster and fresh fish and organic foods!

Aren’t you mad? Didn’t you get the Email about this? Didn’t you hear the Congressmen and Senators rage on TV about this inequality? Didn’t you see every single Fox News program air this story over and over again? Didn’t you notice the pretty blonde lady who occupies the conservative pundit’s chair on every day time talk show practically break down in tears over how her country is falling apart because of these entitlement programs for the undeserving poor?

I know that I certainly am appalled! I just want to know why all of these poor welfare recipients continue to live in squalor and degradation in some of the saddest inner cities the world has ever known, when they are each making over $80,000 per year in cash and prizes?! For goodness sakes, four of them put together have over a 1/4 of a million dollars at their disposal! Why are so many of them homeless and refusing to live in decent and safe housing?

I just don’t get it. Why do the poor live like they don’t have any money when they apparently have all of it? Why haven’t they moved into my neighborhood…or yours? They could all afford a nice townhouse in the pretty blonde lady’s co-op couldn’t they…or live in the high rise next to that middle aged guy with the rolled up sleeves, suspenders and bow tie, who gets red in the face and practically faints from apoplexy each night while commenting on TV about how entitled these poor people are?

According to Republicans We spend 1 trillion dollars on the poor each year, more than we spend on Social Security, Medicare and National Defense…put together! And all of it spent just so that the President’s lazy friends can pretend they are poor, sit around all day, pay no taxes, eat lobster and smoke crack in a whore house!

And if you believe all that…Then I just may have another tax break for the rich, and a food stamp cut for the poor, that I can sell you!

Moral of the story?: Stay in school, don’t believe everything anyone tells you, fact check and learn how to do math. The result is that a lot of Americans are woefully misinformed about what we spend on anti-poverty programs, and what those programs look like. Traditional welfare, now known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, costs the federal government just $16.5 billion (out of a 3.6 Trillion dollar budget)In the real world we spend about $25 per day on the needy or about $753 per month for each lower income American (persons in the lowest income-third of the population) and NOT the $61,320++, per year that Republicans and conservative pundits claim.

Cloudy With No Chance of Guacamole?

11 Mar

A Guacamole warning has been issued!

According to Gary Bender, a University of California avocado expert, avocados which are used in making guacamole, are shrinking in size because of low rainfall totals, cool temperatures, and sluggish photosynthesizing, which have led to avocados’ reduced size. California, which has been facing severe droughts, is the country’s premiere source for avocados and scientists are now projecting that California’s agriculture production could decline by as much as 40 percent by the middle of the century because of global climate change.

But there is no need to look out for falling guacamole because the warning was issued by the food chain, Chipotle. Their restaurants may stop serving guacamole because avocado prices are increasing as climate change affects their availability…but that’s not all, Chipotle is also concerned about the rising costs of chicken, beef, cheese, beans, rice, tomatoes and pork too!

But hey, that’s only if you believe in global climate change and global warming. Besides, who needs guacamole?

First climate change took the avocados, and I did not speak out– Because I didn’t eat guacamole.

Then climate change took the cheese, and I did not speak out–Because I was lactose intolerant.

Then global warming dried up the land and the lakes and the chicken, cows and pigs went thirsty–So I became a vegetarian.

Then climate change came for me, and I said–

Thank god for that new restaurant “Petrolee-YUM” where there ‘s always lots of Twinkies, margarine and whipped topping!

Should Feeling OK Keep the Doctor Away?

9 Mar

I’ve always suspected this but thought that perhaps I was just too cynical for it to actually be true but…

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2010 statistics) here are the leading causes of death in America:

      Number of deaths

  • Heart disease: 597,689
  • Cancer: 574,743
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 120,859
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 83,494
  • Diabetes: 69,071
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364

So heart disease and Cancer are the 2 big causes of death in the USA But, consider this… a recent study in the Journal of Patient Safety, which is a follow up to a 2010 report from the Office of the Inspector General for Health and Human services, estimates that as many as 210,000 to 440,000 patients who go to the hospital for healing die each year as a result of preventable medical deaths.

This makes unintentional medical errors during… doctor’s, hospital’s, and nursing home’s attempts to care for and improve our health… the third-leading cause of death in the United States!

And that is just counting the deaths from preventable errors…and that’s if you count preventable errors as a disease…which of course we don’t…and I also just have to ask. What’s the word “preventable” doing in front of the word “errors”? Isn’t the word error enough? Adding the word preventable implies that the errors wouldn’t occur if we just stopped insisting on the service, test or exam that leads to the errors being made.

And then…If we also count everyone who is in someway made sicker by an error in the healthcare they receive ( An error is defined as an act that produces an adverse outcome compared to the natural progression of disease) then up to one million more patients experienced some type of preventable error, that leads to injury. (according to the U.S. Institute of Medicine)

It seems that the more expensive healthcare has become, the more doctors, hospitals and insurance companies have become eager and interested in offering services, tests and screening exams to healthy patients in efforts to get a jump on their “potential disease” before it manifests itself as an “actual disease” to the patient…unfortunately many of these preventive measures have proven to be ineffective at best and dangerous at their worst. Most insurance companies and especially Medicare, reimburse doctors and hospitals regardless of outcome. In fact, there are now even billing codes for specific errors.

So what’s a body to do… healthy or Un?

Sadly, and as in most things once they become unimaginably profitable, it becomes necessary to “Let the buyer beware!”

That phrase “caveat emptor” arises from the fact that buyers often have less information about the goods or service they are purchasing, while the seller has more information. Defects in the good or service may be hidden from the buyer, and only known to the seller. Thus, the buyer should beware.

In legal theory this is known as information asymmetry...sounds like a disease doesn’t it?

 

 

 

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