Thursday, March 31, 2005

Wasn't Duct Tape Supposed to Keep Us Safe From Toxic Fumes

A duct tape plant in South Carolina exploded last night.
Emergency officials asked residents living near the plant to stay inside and turn off their ventilation systems because of thick smoke, authorities said.
I guess they couldn't exactly ask people to go with the plastic sheeting and duct tape defense shield when duct tape was the cause of the problem.

More DST

Here's another article expounding on the benefits of turning the clocks ahead an hour. Again, they use one of my pet peeve arguments of "More daylight will (insert benefit here)." I've said it before and I'll say it again: changing the timing of daylight does not increase the overall quantity of that daylight.

Here's a crazy idea: those who tout the benefits of "more daylight" can just wake up an hour earlier in the summer and let the rest of us alone.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I'm Back...

No, I'm not ignoring you. Lately, there has just been a confluence of other things demanding my attention and a dearth of real news to comment on with every dang news outlet going with the WTWS format (Wall to Wall Schiavo). For the record, I have come to the same conclusion ME has: I have no standing to have a stance on this particular issue. Strangely, though, it has made part of me want to delay making out a living will--something I have meant to do for quite some time--exactly because of this whole flap. I don't want anyone getting the impression that I am making out a living will because the media has called attention to it and suddenly so many people are rushing to make them out because It May Happen To Me. I would be doing it because I've meant to for about half a decade now and we would be folding it into several things we've been meaning to get a lawyer to do.

As much as I've tried to ignore all of the media coverage of this fracas, it's about as easy as completely avoiding environmental mercury contamination. Not going to happen. However, what has dribbled through has given me some ideas for my own eventual living will and instructions for my durable Power of Attorney. For what it is worth with whatever weight a blog entry may carry in these matters, my wishes on life support are as follows:
1. If my mind isn't coming back, even if my body still has a fighting chance, pull whatever plug I'm plugged into. If I can't have thoughts and communicate them, I'm just wasting space, and to the extent that I would be able to be frustrated in that state, I would probably find it incredibly frustrating.
2. If my care becomes burdensome, put something good in my IV drip and kill me, whatever my recovery prospects may be. Whether or not I would want to be kept alive is irrelevant to the process when I am no longer the one doing the keeping. I would rather just go and let everyone get on with their lives.
3. Don't put too much weight on what I would want. Living is for the living, and I want my caretakers to consider what is best for themselves. (Thanks to ME for those last two thoughts)

Friday, March 25, 2005

Happy Bunny Day

On Tuesday, the Easter Bunny in Council Bluffs, Iowa was arrested for harrassment.

The Easter Bunny in Bay City, Michigan got beaten up by a 12 year old and sustained a bloody nose. Staying in character, the bunny refused to fight back; however, he is pressing charges.

Who knew that Mall Easter Bunny was such a hazardous occupation.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

That Makes Me Feel Better

New actuarial figures show Social Security going insolvent in 2041, a year earlier than previously planned. Strangely, this makes me feel better. Between that and the increased retirement age going into effect, the system is now insolvent 3 years before I can retire. Used to be that with the retirement age at 65 and the insolvency date at 2042, I would be paying into the system right up until I am eligble to retire, then whoops! There goes the fund.

And they wonder why people my age don't care about the Social Security debate. True, a lot of people in their 20's are still busy getting wasted every chance they get and don't have time to worry about their retirement. Those of us who are planning for the future aren't counting on seeing any of the money that gets shunted out of our paychecks every week and are planning accordingly, so whatever anyone wants to do with the program is your business.

Inconvenient Facts

Last night, I was at the local mall--which is apparently not the only mall in America without an Orange Julius stand, man do I miss those--where the local Waldenbooks is clearancing out the merchandise. They're closing the store since there is a Borders coming in and the same parent company owns both Borders and Waldenbooks. Seems someone out at the parent company thought they only needed one bookstore in that mall. 900 jewelry stores, sure, but only one bookstore.

Getting back to the point. Earlier this week, Waldenbooks had a slew of "Store Closing" signs out advertising their clearances. Yesterday, those signs were all gone, replaced with some cheesy laserprinted sheets taped to the fixtures. Apparently, mall management thought that the "store closing" signs reflected poorly on the mall, even though the store is, in fact, closing. Can't wait to see how they spin the store being, well, gone.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

More 888-872-2629

Glad to hear I could help so many of you out there get rid of the Chase telemarketers (if you missed the first couple of posts, click here for the instructions on how to stop 888-872-2629 to stop calling you). Maybe some of you can give me a hand, now. I'm working on a related project that expands on the topic, and I could use some more in-depth input from people who have been telemarketed by their credit card company. I would rather not give out too much about the project yet since I'm not certain anything will come of it, but it has a much better chance of success if I can get one or two of you on record with just a little bit about your experiences getting telemarketing calls after signing up for services or buying something.

If you wouldn't mind sharing some details about your experiences being telemarketed and getting them to stop, please drop an email at Also, on the off chance anyone out there has ever worked as a telemarketer, I'd like to get some input from you.

None of your information you provide will be posted at Penguin Perspectives, and I won't let your email address out. However, if something does come of this project, there is a chance your name (I will need a real name) and a quotation or two might one day wind up in print.

Again, the email address is, and I'll let you know from there exactly what sort of information I'm looking for.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Gizmo Time

For your online-window-shopping pleasure, here's a few of the fun doohickies and thingamabobs you can find at

An optical mouse with a floaty duck

A wristwatch and slide rule in one

A USB humidifier just plug it into your computer's USB port, and you've got instant humidification

The next generation in Ant Farm technology (ants not included)

A series of motivational posters
that just may make you laugh also has a full line of Tux products. One day, I'm going to switch to Linux for no other reason than their mascot is a penguin.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Japan Pushes for DST

Is it already time to rant against Daylight Saving Time again? News from Reuters is that the Japanese legislature is making a push for Spring Forward, Fall Back. One of the main arguments for advancing the time change:
"The resulting extra daylight and cooler mornings--
Whoa-ho. Let's just stop right there and clear something up. Setting the clocks back does not magically give you "extra daylight." DST or no, Japan will still get about 15 1/2 hours of daylight on the summer solstice. Whether that starts at 4:30 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. does not change the total quantity of daylight. The mornings may be cooler, but only because there is an hour less sun in it. By extension, this means that the evenings are hotter as there is an hour more sunlight.

Given the 24-hour nature of life in this day and age, why are we fussing over where the big hand and the little hand are when the sun comes up?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Corporal Klinger Lives

New York Times headline: Un-Volunteering: Troops Improvise to Find Way Out

Seems there is a small segment of our military forces--according to the Army, no more than usual--who are doing whatever they can to get out of their contract with the military. Tactics include trying to fail drug tests, defecting to Canada, getting pregnant, getting shot, and being gay. Apparently, M*A*S*H was more realistic than I thought.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

About Damn Time!

Reuters headline: US May Restrict Sale of Social Security Numbers

Good idea, don't you think? I should probably not be as surprised as I am that there aren't already restrictions on the sale of my social security number.

Here's the link to what the Social Security Administration has to say on the subject of when you are required to give your number out. The upshot is that disclosing your SSN is voluntary. This does not mean that the entity asking for your number still must do business with you if you refuse, but if you are prepared to do without, the choice to give out your number is yours. Along those lines, apparently there are ways for your utility company to run a credit check on you without you providing your SSN.

By the way, the official policy of the Social Security Administration is that your card is not a form of ID, given that it only proves that the number on the card was assigned to the person named on the card and does not guarantee that the person presenting the Social Security card is in fact the person to whom the card was issued.

Media Circus

The 24-hour news channels must be wetting themselves. The Robert Blake and Scott Peterson verdicts came in on the same day! How, oh, how will they give both of the Trials of the Century verdicts the constant coverage they deserve while still keeping up the play-by-play on Michael Jackson's jammies? At least they have the crawl for those trivial news-fluff items like the two wars that I think we may still be fighting.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Mundane Stuff of Life

The people who live in the apartment next door are fighting again. I don't listen, but the yelling carries through the walls, so sometimes one can't help but hear. I'm counting the days until we will live somewhere not attached to someone else's home. 33, if everything goes according to the current schedule.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

More New Studies

Now, my mother is a wonderful woman who has, to my recollection, never held the circumstances of her children's gestation and births against us. However, I hear tell that there are some women who pull a guilt trip on their offspring about the 36 hours of labor or what have you. For those women, check out this news story. Seems now, in addition to blaming their progeny for their inability to wear a wristwatch, mothers can now pin their bad teeth on the children. A new study shows that women with more children have more dental problems, even when income, age, and socioeconomic status is factored out.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Happy Pi Day!

It's no National Gorilla Suit Day, but today is Pi Day, 3/14. Click here to see a replay of Pi Drop that happened at 1:59. Those mathematicians sure know how to party with flash animation.

By coincidence, today is also Albert Einstein's birthday. Let's see here. The radius of a circle is a ratio of pi, which is 3.14..., and Albert Einstein was born on 3/14. In Young Einstein, Albert Einstein was played by Yahoo Serious, who was in Reckless Kelly with Martin Ferrero, who was in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with Kevin Bacon. I guess you can connect anything to Kevin Bacon in six steps or fewer.

Credit to for the last two steps.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Speaking of Vomiting in Public...

The New York Times published an article on the whole Power Hour idiocy I wrote about earlier. To save you the clicking, freshly minted 21-year-olds try to down 21 shots in the hour between midnight on their 21st birthday and 1 a.m. when the bars close. The solution that the North Dakota legislature has dreamed up is to raise the drinking age to 21 +8 hours. Given my doubts about the efficacy of that, I proposed a counter-solution to have the bars limit the number of shots they would serve anyone, regardless of age, in an hour.

Apparently, we can kiss that idea goodbye. I'm pretty sure that when the bars are providing barf buckets to the 21-year-olds, we can pretty much forget about enlisting their aid in curbing the practice. When they're supplying the drinks and the vomitorium and not stepping in when a patron tells his friends "no more," I'd say we can count the bars firmly as part of the problem, not part of the solution. Of course, as the drinkers in the New York Times article see it, the problem is that there is nothing to do in North Dakota except get blind drunk and puke in the middle of a bar. That, I must say, is the absolute WEAKEST excuse I have ever heard for anything. If there is nothing to do, have they considered learning a foreign language or taking up knitting? If there is so little to do in Fargo (and they do have a movie theater with live pipe organ music), here's an idea: when the hangover wears off, pack up whatever brain cells aren't pickled, call some movers, and leave North Dakota. But then they'd have to grow up and become responsible adults, so that won't work, either.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Tossing My Cookies

I have an intense distaste for air travel. I may have mentioned before that there is no good way to vomit on an airplane, particularly when the "fasten seat belt" sign is lit. I have tried, and it cannot be done. However, if there is one good thing to be said about flying, it is that the snacks are great. Stop laughing. I like airline snacks. I am particularly fond of the cookies on Delta, sort of a light, flaky gingersnap.

My local Kroger also carries these particular cookies. Lo and behold, today Kroger had sample platter of my favorite airplane cookies out for my nibbling pleasure, and I pounced. Pounced a little too hard, it turns out. In the process of setting the plastic cover aside, I managed to nearly send the whole platter tumbling off the display. I saved the plate of cookies, but the cover clattered halfway to the deli meat counter. One way or another, I seem to always hurl these cookies.

I'm Not Making This Up

A Michigan cat shot its owner with a 9mm handgun. There are two lessons in this story.
Lesson #1: never leave a loaded handgun unattended on the kitchen counter
Lesson #2: don't piss off the cat

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Question of the Day

Does anyone know whatever came of the duck from You Bet Your Life?

Monday, March 07, 2005

For the last time...

In today's Funky Winkerbean, the comic book store owner got arrested, presumably because some of the items in the comics are not so much for the kiddies. The story arc starts on March 4 with a woman taking her first ever trip to a comic book store and finding the Adult Comics section.

Is there any way that we, the comic book reading public, can convince the rest of you that comics are not just for kids? We've already tried talking until we're blue in the face and pricing comic books way out of the range of most kids' allowances. None of that seems to have taken hold. There are many great titles for the small tykes--check out RQW--but not every comic is meant for minors. A lot of comics are meant for grownups, in exactly the same way that the majority of what is in a Barnes and Noble is meant for grownups.

Sure, some shops do a less-than-stellar job of segregating out the most adult offerings. One of my local comics shops keeps a longbox of Playboys on the floor underneath a table displaying action figures. Were I running a comic book store, that would not be where I would keep the nudie magazines. To be fair, the bad segregation of grownup materials is not unique to comic book shops. I was in a major media outlet a while back and accidentally knocked a box off the bookshelf. In full view of the Tiger Beat magazine display, a vibrator (ahem, Personal Massager) rolled right out of the box and into the aisle.

So please, leave the comic books alone. Whatever you may remember of Superman being chased by a giant telephone in the 60's, comics are not kiddie fare. Let the grownups have their picture books. While we're at it, can we just agree to stop trotting the small fries out whenever we want to get rid of something we disagree with? People don't do things "for the kids." The kids have no clue. They do it because they don't like something, so they don't think I should have access to it.

Slow News Day

It must be a slow news day. The Associated Press ran an article on people getting in trouble at work for blogs they write off hours. At first, you might think that's a little harsh. Then you read what they were posting. One Delta employee posted pinup photos of herself in (well, partly in) uniform in one of the aircraft, with her undies showing. A Google employee mused about the company's financial situation. A Microsoft employee posted pictures of Apple computers at a Microsoft loading dock and described the building. Another woman posted the office gossip from the Christmas party. That last one could be fairly inocuous, depending on what the gossip is, but by and large those show not a violation of policy, but incredibly poor judgement.

You may have noticed I don't talk much about work. First and foremost, I don't want to bore you and my job isn't all that interesting. Second of all, it is a general rule of Penguin Perspectives that I do not write badly of people I personally know. Makes life easier that way. My boss knows I blog. I don't know if she reads what I write or not. Since I want to continue to be paid, I find it to my advantage to not impugn the nature of the company that pays me. Such is life and commerce.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Having gone through 12 years of compulsory lower education and six years of college to get a four year degree, I've now decided to learn all the things that people should know just because it is good to know. Classrooms can't teach these things, or won't. For instance, I'm working on learning how a computer works. With everything the computers run in my life, I figure the least I should know is what goes on inside that box. Learning how a microprocessor works, or what a chip really does, is a long term project. In the shorter term, I'm working on questions like why is the North Pole frozen, anyway?


Logically, one would think that if one of something looks dumb, than four of that something would look even dumber, and the opposite is also true: that if four of something looks dumb, one would still look dumb, but less so. However, there are exceptions to every rule. On the way home from the grocery store, I found one of them.

I may have mentioned before that spinning hubcaps give me a mild case of motion sickness. That, and I think they look incredibly stupid. No reason. Some things are just inherently dumb. Turns out there is something more stupid looking than a set of spinning hubcaps on a primer-gray mid-90's Corsica that appears to have had the dents pounded out with a meat mallet. Specifically, a primer-gray mid-90's Corsica that appears to have had the dents pounded out with a meat mallet and sporting, not a set of spinners, but a single spinner on the right front wheel. Yep, one solitary hubcap spinning away on a car being driven by a guy who looked like a 35-year-old Jeff Foxworthy wannabe who hadn't bathed in a month. I'm guessing he missed the memo where they explained that pimping your ride means pimping your entire ride.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Shmoozers Block

I'm writing cover letters to resumes I will be dropping off tomorrow when I'm down in the new place, and I seem to have drawn a complete blank on how to hype my organization skills (Becca, stop spitting milk out your nose). The first thing I've done at most of my office jobs has been to revamp their filing system. Partly, this is to improve efficiency, but mostly it is job security. I've discovered people are less likely to fire you if you're the only one who know where things are filed.


I seem to have touched a nerve when I mentioned my travails with Chase's telemarketers from 888-872-2629. Five comments! I didn't know I had five readers.

They called again today while I was at work. Just for kicks, I thought I would see what happened if, instead of waiting for them to call me, I called them. Good news: if you call 888-872-2629, there is the option to add your number to their internal Do Not Call List. It takes about 2 minutes all told to submit the request. Of course, this wouldn't be Penguin Perspectives without the Irony of the Week. I added my home phone to the do not call list, and the automated message told me to allow 30 days for the change to take effect. We move--and get a new phone number--in 47 days.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

BYOB-Build Your Own Batcave

There are so many fun things about buying a house. My latest discovery is that, without landlords and security deposits, now there is nothing stopping me from turning my home into my own personal Fortress of Solitude. I'm saving the title of Batcave for the barn.

Of course there are several things any good superhero hideout needs, all of which are, thanks to the Internet, readily available to all of us wannabe superheroes:
- A World Crisis Monitor, courtesy of Reuters
- Sliding panels to hide your World Crisis Monitor. Instructions for making one can be found here.
- Doors hidden behind bookcases.
- A 31-pocket jacket to pull things out of, Secret Squirrel style. Also 11-pocket pants, and yes, even the tie has a pocket
- And no Batcave would be complete without a Wurlitzer. For the whimsey.