Archive for April, 2010

First Person Tetris

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Check this out.  My son found it, and it’s worth at least one trial just for the interesting twist on the game.

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Red Wine, or White?

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

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History in a Nutshell

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

For those that don’t know about history … Here is a condensed version:

 

Humans originally existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunters/gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer and would go to the coast and live on fish and lobster in the winter.

 

The two most important events in all of history were the invention of beer and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups:

1. Liberals, and

2. Conservatives.

 

Once beer was discovered, it required grain and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early humans were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That’s how villages were formed…

 

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as the Conservative movement.

 

Other men who were weaker and less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q’s and doing the sewing, fetching, and hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement.

Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as girlie-men. Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy, group hugs, and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat and beer that conservatives provided.

 

Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass..

 

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, and French food are standard liberal fare. Another interesting evolutionary side note: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood and group therapists are liberals.. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn’t fair to make the pitcher also bat.

 

Conservatives drink domestic beer, mostly Bud. They eat red meat and still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, athletes, members of the military, airline pilots, salesmen, and generally anyone who works productively. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

 

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to govern the producers and decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tamed and created a business of trying to get more for nothing.

 

Here ends today’s lesson in world history:

 

It should be noted that a Liberal may have a momentary urge to angrily respond to the above before forwarding it.

 

A Conservative will simply laugh and be so convinced of the absolute truth of this history that it will be forwarded immediately to other true believers and to more liberals just to tick them off.

Has your credit card been stolen?

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Found this on the web:

Free! Check if your credit card has been stolen!
If you fear your credit card info has been stolen, enter it here and you can find out for free. Avoiding fraud has never been easier!

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Hint: The answer is yes.

(more…)

The Easter Savings Club

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

 Wikipedia has this to say about Christmas Clubs:

The Christmas club is a savings program that was first offered by various banks during the Great Depression. The concept is that bank customers deposit a set amount of money each week into a special savings account, and receive the money back at the end of the year for Christmas shopping.

Christmas clubs have fallen by the wayside in recent years, largely replaced by credit cards – why pay all year for next year’s Christmas when you can pay all year for last year’s Christmas instead?  There is an interesting footnote in Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein that, though Christmas clubs have fallen out of favor, an Easter Savings Account still remains popular:

“Although Christmas clubs have become unpopular, most Americans still make use of a non-interest bearing savings vehicle that might be called the Easter account.  Three-quarters of Americans get refunds when they file their tax return, with the average refund being more than two thousand dollars.  If these refunds were described as interest-free loans to the government, they would probably not be so popular.  Although taxpayers could adjust their withholding rates to reduce the size of their refund, and in principle could earn interest on these funds throughout the year, many prefer to get the refund as a way of being forced to save.  When the refund comes, it feels like a windfall.”

The Rich Family

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

 I’ve been seeing this story every year at this time for, well, years now.

Thanks to  Mikeys Funnies this time.

THE RICH FAMILY IN CHURCH
By Eddie Ogan

I’ll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12,and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.

When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn’t listen to the radio, we’d save money on that month’s electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1.

We made $20 on pot holders. That month was one of the best of our lives.

Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we’d sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change.

We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before.

That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn’t care that we wouldn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering.

We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn’t own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn’t seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet.

But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt rich.

When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in a $20.

As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn’t say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills.

Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn’t talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn’t have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night.

We had two knifes that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn’t have a lot of things that other people had, but I’d never thought we were poor.

That Easter day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor. I didn’t like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed–I didn’t even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor!

I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn’t know. We’d never known we were poor. We didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn’t talk on the way.

Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, “Can’t we all sacrifice to help these poor people?” We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week.

Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering.

When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn’t expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, “You must have some rich people in this church.”

Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that “little over $100.”

We were the rich family in the church! Hadn’t the missionary said so? From that day on I’ve never been poor again. I’ve always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus!

Someday

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

This is a story that has been floating around the internet for years.  This time it floated by just a few days after our nearly deadly accident, so it has more emotional teeth.  Save it for later if you’re feeling weepy.

Thanks to Mikey’s Funnies this time.

I AM READING MORE AND DUSTING LESS

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. “This,” he said, “is not a slip. This is lingerie.” He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip.

It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. “Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.”

He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me.

“Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.”

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister’s family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn’t seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special. I’m still thinking about his words, and they’ve changed my life.

I’m reading more and dusting less.

I’m sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event–such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom.

I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends. “Someday” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary.

If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I’m not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food.

I’m guessing–

I’ll never know. It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with–someday. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write–one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them. I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is…a gift from God.

Ouch!

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

A couple of weeks ago my family was in a nasty car wreck.  A Jeep Liberty lost control in the snow, crossed over to our lane and hit us head-on with a combined speed of about 100 MPH.   Thank God, all of us will be OK.  I believe the 3 occupants of the other car are all out of the hospital now also.

We all got to ride to the hospital on a surfboard, and it took a week for all of us to dribble back out.  Interestingly,  size seems to be the critical factor in our injuries.  I was not admitted (didn’t squeal loud enough, I guess).  My 14 year old son was released the next morning with no serious injuries.  My 12 year old stayed another couple of days and has a broken collarbone and ankle.  My wife, who is the most delicately-boned (and the prettiest), and therefore deemed the “smallest”, stayed for almost a week.  She has broken ribs, broken sternum, two broken metacarpals (in her hand) and some really nasty bruising, all from the seatbelt.  These are painful injuries that will take a few months to heal.

I could not be more proud of my family.  Nobody freaked out in the car.  My wife’s first priorities were to calm the kids and to thank God we were all in one piece.  My youngest was stuck in the emergency room and trauma ward alone all night, and handled it magnificently.  My older son has been extraordinarily patient and helpful as we have needed much from him.

This has kept me from posting for a while, and will affect my posts (and everything else), both frequency and content, for a while yet.

Be careful driving in bad weather, and watch out for the other guy.  (and be big)

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