Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Perfect Gift

O.K. you’re flummoxed on what to get someone for Christmas, their birthday, as thanks for watering your dieffenbachia while you were away, or just to be nice. It may be a neighbor, shirttail friend, teacher, or the eccentric old lady down the block. So, you wish to give them all a little present. The question to ask yourself is do they own a cat? Or, have they ever been friendly to a cat… maybe pet one a couple of times until the purring startled them. These, and others you know, are perfect candidates for a book I put together, Meow Poetry: Fun, Fabulous, Feline Verse. This is an anthology of accessible and enjoyable cat poetry written by established poets and newcomers. For $10.75 you can give them a thoughtful gift that shows what a cool and dimensional person you really are. Meow Poetry can be easily purchased through Amazon or

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jot This Down

I have this problem, although I don’t think of it as being a problem—others do. I buy cool notebooks. Most of them remain blank. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write in them; I’ve got plenty to say. It’s just that I want to make sure that if I write something in a specific notebook that my writing is worthy of being in that particular wonderful notebook. My cool notebooks include a slim, green hardbound notebook that measures about the size of small index card that I bought at a stationers shop somewhere in Ireland. I also have two similar-size notebooks from China that have lightweight brown paper pages but really interesting covers showing ancient Asian scenes and Chinese writing (which probably translates to “notebook”). Any of these smaller notebooks are ideal for making grocery lists or writing reminder notes to myself—but it seems sacrilegious to defile a notebook brought home thousands of miles from a distant land with something as mundane as butter, broccoli, apples, toilet paper, and pasta scrawled in it. I just can’t do it. There are countless other notebooks tucked among books on my bookshelves or stashed in drawers. They’re all blank. Untouched because of my phobia about misusing them. One cool notebook I own is made with the covers of an old hardbound book. I got it from Open Books—an online shop that creatively recycles “vintage books into modern day treasures. Each unique book contains 75+ blank OR lined sheets.” I couldn’t resist adding a notebook they made from a Mitchell Goodman book entitled, “The End of It.” I just couldn’t resist. And yes, it remains unfilled. On the other hand, I do have a notebook I use everyday. Purchased from a local office supply mega-store, my everyday notebook is where I write notes, poems, TO DO lists, short stories, phone numbers, ideas, directions to places, and odd words I want to learn. It has to be spiral bound with the spiral wide enough to accept a slim pen and look professional enough that I could carry it into a business meeting. The notebook has to be lined and the paper has to be heavy enough so there’s no bleed through when I use a rollerball or fountain pen. The ideal size is approximately 8- x 6-inches. For me this is the utilitarian, go-to notebook where I can collect the stuff of my life, much like the kitchen junk drawer. Unlike notebooks from high school or college days, my everyday notebook gets filled—cover to cover.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Word of the Hour

The word of current—right now—is: meritocracy. According to Merriam-Webster, it means:

1 : a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement

2 : leadership selected on the basis of intellectual criteria

I’ve heard or read the word thrice in the past couple of weeks. Before that, I’m not sure I’ve encountered it at all. Apparently, the term was first used in Michael Young's 1958 book Rise of the Meritocracy, where it was intended to be pejorative. His book is set in a dreary, dismal future in which one's social place is determined by IQ plus effort.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nouveau Pauvre

A new class in class-free America has emerged: The Nouveau Pauvre or New Poor. Unemployed, underemployed, those with rolled-back salaries, workers with forced, unpaid furlough days. The American Dream turns into the American Nightmare. Bedrock chipped away. Life savings diminish quickly. Personal net-worth is a joke with plummeted home values, decreased stock portfolios, personal property and collectibles at Craig’s List worth… even the bank passbook savings account yields are just slightly better than cash under the mattress. America’s New Poor are stuck, shafted, and trapped in a box. Very little wiggle room. Disenfranchised Nouveau Pauvre are everywhere… eyes down, shoulders rounded, wearing the same clothes, tapping into remnant 401k accounts to supplement weekly unemployment checks, and applying for the few jobs as collections agents, delinquent accounts reps, contract repo thieves, and clerical posts with bankruptcy law offices. Be proud all ye Nouveau Pauvre…your security, plans, and hope will continue to disappear, but your numbers will grow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to be Happy

Did you know there is a sizable bunch of comic strips you can follow online? O.K. maybe you knew that already, but I didn't until now. I guess I assumed that with the demise of newspapers that comic strips had... I don't know, sort of faded away. The nice thing about being online is that one can click back to previous strips if the story line is lost. That feature is good for the deep thinker, as well as those with attention spans of a gnat.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Show Me Kneck

Vampires. What’s the allure? Is the female neck that ignored that the thought of a guy – albeit a dead guy – staring longing at a woman’s neck become that much of a turn on? Could the regular breath-out-breath-in living push vampires off the I-get-tingles-just-thinking-about-it list if only they paid more attention to the female neck? Imagine men bypassing the sensual female curves and bee-lining it to the neck. Would you hear guys crudely yelling to women: “Hey baby, show me some neck?” Would turtleneck shirts take on a whole new level of modesty? Would parking and necking take on new meaning? I’m clearly not understanding something that’s visceral and fundamental to women with respect to this whole yearning to be seduced and bitten by a vampire. Could someone please wipe this thick-tongue, duh? look off my face by explaining what I don’t get.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Tunes

Your ears will thank you for Bean Hoy’s Get Lost: The Studio J Sessions. The music sounds like Mark Knopler of Dire Straits if he were dropped in the Caribbean with the mandate to record an album. What’s refreshing about the album are the song lyrics that are clever and learned. This is the third Bean Hoy CD and it features the current Milwaukee-based group lineup of bandleader Mike Starling with Jared Drake, Bob Mueller and Tom Plutshack. The first Bean Hoy CD is Boys Can't Be Trusted, features the La Crosse-based version of Bean Hoy and the second recording, Cool Music for a Big Dumb World, is mostly a Mike Starling solo effort. The Studio J in The Studio J Sessions refers to the band’s rehearsal space.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beautiful Rain

ahhhhhhhh a wonderful rainy morn with just enough chill in the air. Woke this morning with a hankering for a raisin bran muffin. Slipped on pants -- commando -- and slipped on my slip-on shoes, sockless and Labowskied my way across the street to the lame-ass bakery with emo-girl who asked the same lame-ass question she always asks in her sullen voice: "Do you want anything?" Yep, I'd like a half-dozen Camus and a couple of those Paul Sartres. She looked at me confused and then as though I had expectorated over my Irv the Workingman's Friend t-shirt (Irv's south side shop filled with work clothes and guy sundries, all at reasonable prices, has long closed). I pointed to the one, lone brown muffin among the happy lemon puffs and blueberry explosions and said I'd take it before it's shellacked and becomes someone's paperweight. Another confused look from miss pierced face. Oh, that's right... there are no things as paperweights in her Facebook-text-messaging world. She drops the brown muffin into the brown bag and charges me $1.89. I shuffle back home to hot coffee and open the window enough to hear the comforting sound of traffic through rain-puddled water.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Patriotic Post

According to the German-American Journal (vol 57, no 3) our American flags aren't truly red, white and blue all American. We imported $5.2 million of U.S. flags from communist China. Hopefully, you'll appreciate the irony the next time you're cut off by a jerk-face driving a pick up or SUV with an American flag waving proudly. You could catch up and yell "Buy American!" to get an affirming, "You bet!"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Boxed in

Stuck in a box not of our own choosing seems to describe most of us in America. We didn’t ask mortgage lenders to make risky loans. We didn’t ask credit card companies to hike the rates up to 24% or higher. We didn’t ask health insurers to deny claims until we verify each time that we do not have duplicate coverage. We didn’t ask the Big 3 automakers to make gas guzzling SUVs and trucks. We didn’t ask oil companies to make historic profits while jerking us around with historic high fuel prices. We didn’t ask for all of our investments and savings to take a dive. We didn’t ask for forced unpaid time off, salary cuts, and layoffs. We didn’t ask that bailout money be heaped on privileged corporate and financial investor criminals. We didn’t ask for any of it. No we did not.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blessed Be Money

Money is our god, but why has it forsaken us? We revere it. Pray for it. Flaunt it. Money buys us pretty things and pretty people that we play with in our pretty homes. We own it. We use our pretty things until something prettier catches our eye. And why not, our American culture asks? We worked hard for our money, we justify... If our money comes at the expense of others that’s fine, since they are obviously too stupid or lazy to earn the money that we have, right? We attend fundraiser galas for the poor, where we complain about the stupid, lazy waitress who has the audacity to bring a martini made with cheap-ass Grey Goose vodka. It’s difficult to find good help these days, because they expect everything for nothing – don’t they know it takes money? The prophet, Daniel Suelo writes: “When I lived with money, I was always lacking. Money represents lack. Money represents things in the past (debt) and things in the future (credit), but money never represents what is present.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Aggies and Alleys

Toss it on the nostalgia heap and douse it with a gallon of gas and flame it…flame it good. I’m talking about the idea that any kid today has interest in collecting or playing with marbles. Even children growing up in TV-free, no-Wii, I believe, sequestered, rural, cult encampments have no interest in marbles. It would be a genuine Twilight Zone moment if a 10-year-old boy ran up to his apron-wearing mom with his leather pouch of marbles and said: “I’m going outside to shoot marbles with Billy and Bobby, I’ll be home in time to wash up before dinner!” Now, if you’re a 75-year-old man caught in a time warp, you probably send prized marbles to your now teen-aged grandchildren with cautions to not let them get too scratched up. And, if you are the recipient and aren’t too drug-addled or distracted updating your Facebook, you may want to ask grandpa how many in his collection are:
• Toothpaste - wavy streaks usually with red, blue, black, white, orange
• Turtle - wavy streaks containing green and yellow
• Oxblood - a streaky patch resembling blood
• Lutz - a type of swirl, taken from the skating term
• Onionskin - swirled and layered like an onion

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ucka huck and zardic too

Did I get through your tightly monitored spam filtering brain with my subject line? If so, I plan to use this clever header to sneak through the screens of hundreds of email boxes throughout the world. Once in like flynn, I'll give 'em my best chain-letter pitch: Immediately send me a dollar and pass this on to twenty friends within 49 minutes or suffer from severe pancreatic hernia spasms of pain. Each of their 20 friends and in turn their 20 and 20 x 20, etc., etc. will each send me a buck. I just wish to make a quick, clean $100,000. This is a minor relatively painless scheme. No animals will be tested and hurt. If anyone over the age of 80 responds, I'll return their dollar with a piece of Bazooka bubble gum to show I'm being a good sport. My question to you: should I rent a P.O. box to shield my identity, just in case some whack case takes offense OR doesn't comply and actually experiences the severe, gut-wrenching pain?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Home Escape

As economic implosion continues, and savings, value and security shrink to the miniscule, it gets one thinking about the basics: food, water, and shelter. Let’s assume the worse – with the worse, quite frankly, appearing to be inevitable. The repo man (or woman) has knocked down the front door more than once and you’ve dumped nearly everything of value on Craig’s List, eBay, and the neighborhood rummage sale. And it’s clear that the 24% interest rate credit card company is sending a crowbar wielding Louie to “teach youse a lesson.” You gotta run. Airlines and staying at the Motel 6 will leave a trail too visible for comfort. Hitch hiking is too dangerous. It’s clear. The only option is to hop into a mobile home and flea to a remote corner of civilization (until the cops push you off to another hidden spot). Thankfully, Steve (no last name provided – hmmmmm, I wonder why) at WebUrbanist has expertly assembled a round up of escape-minded futuristic mobile homes. My favorites include the Slovakian-created eco-capsule, the Tumbleweed tiny log home, and the oversized M&M-shaped Capsule Caravan.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Saint Cajetan

I was once asked what the difference is between a patron saint and a regular ol' saint. “Patron saints have jobs, regular saints don’t,” was my response. Look, you’ve got patron saints for nearly everything, so if you’re a slacker saint without an illness, cause, profession, or small town somewhere, you’re clearly the Jeff Lebowski of saintliness. There is a patron saint for arrowsmiths, the Italian town of Trent , sexual temptation, roller skaters, innocence, Florida, stiff necks........
and my current favorite: Saint Cajetan, the patron saint of the unemployed. With the U.S. unemployment rate expected to continue its rise through the end of 2009, it’s likely he’ll be a busy saint.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ferry Life

Today’s as good a day as any to celebrate the speed record for ice boats. The record of 155.84 mph was set in 2003 on Lake Monona in Madison, Wis. How do I know this? It’s mentioned in one of the journal entries of Richard Purinton’s book, Words on Water: A Ferryman’s Journal. This well-written book spells out the thoughts and experience of a ferryman who runs a car ferry between the tip of the Door County peninsula and Washington Island, which floats above the Door finger in Lake Michigan. I’m barely into the smidge more than 300-page book and am enjoying the read. Purinton recounts his impressions throughout the year, while painting a nostalgic scene of the residents, businesses, and lives of those who live or visit the island and Door County. Contact publisher / editor Norb Blei for purchasing WOW, before the limited press run edition is gone.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

“Billy Mays (was) Here…”

O.K. this is truly sad: Billy Mays is dead at 50. Yeah, I know there’s been a string of icon deaths during the past couple of weeks, but this is a true sad one. The others’ passing can be accepted and rationalized due to old age (“right-you-are-Johnny” Ed McMahon), debilitating illness (voluminous hair Farah Fawcett), and lifestyle complications (moonwalking Michael Jackson). But Billy?! I have lit a candle and placed it in front of my tub of OxiClean as a tribute to one of the last boisterous hawking pitchmen. A true cultural icon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Truly Well Read?

It’s been publishing since June 2000, After Hours: A Journal of Chicago Writing and Art. That’s a long, long time in small press and little magazine lives. Most die off. Thanks to the pit-bull tenacity of its publisher/editor Al DeGenova, After Hours has survived. Each issue is filled with strong, gritty and solid writing – no wimpy posey allowed. Aesthetically, the magazine is a delight to behold. Stunning photography and paintings provide just the right amount of visual relief and dwell time between the written words. The magazine is printed on quality, heavy-grade paper, giving the magazine a rightful art or photography journal impression. If you call yourself literate and educated and feel guilty about not subscribing to any poetry magazines, here is the one to read with enjoyment. Your subscription also directly supports American literature. Do it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shifting Gears

Go ahead and chuckle, sneer, and guffaw while pointing at the diminutive and ridiculously low-priced Nano automobile being made in India. We can sit up high and superior in our massive SUVs knowing it would be easy as pie to crush a Nano – just like rolling over a Bud can. But the facts remain:

• Entrepreneurs in India, not America, designed a car that bested 700 entries to win the Wall Street Journal Technology
Innovation Award in the 'Transportation' category.
• The $2,500 window sticker is roughly equivalent to the price of a DVD player option in a luxury Western car.
• Some people just want and need transportation. They just wish to get from Point A to B, thus there is demand.
• The Nano will not help its owner compensate for inadequacies or express stereotypic manliness.

The Nano means more than low-cost wheels. It reflects a shift in thinking that the big three in Detroit can’t see. The Nano’s innovative modular design means it can be shipped and assembled anywhere. Through “open distribution,” Tata Motors envisions a bunch of entrepreneurs could establish an assembly operation and Tata would train their people and oversee their quality assurance. Essentially, they become satellite assembly operations. Plus, customizing cars to individual needs becomes possible and easy. The consumer becomes part of the design process. Sad news for those who enjoy getting stuck with and paying for a package that may include power sideview mirrors, burl-oak dashboards, and a moon roof you’ll never use.

Nano reflects a spirit of innovation – a willingness to do more with less, increased modularity (both in products and processes), and paying attention to the needs of the consumer.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Art of Industrial Design

Industrial design, as an applied art category, generally conjures up images of mass-produced items like kitchen blenders, Vespa motor scooters, or even the Apple iPhone. Yet, there are other items that convey a sense of practical, simple engineered elegance. Lamy pens, for instance, convey a design engineer aesthetic and appear to be constructed of refined materials found in a machine shop or foundry floor. They have a well-functioning, well-oiled mechanical look, which is to say they look industrial cool. Black matte, nickel palladium, gunmetal, and platinum plated. Based in Germany, Lamy engineers and manufactures ballpoint pens, rollerballs, mechanical pencils and fountain pens. The industrial art look is also found in handmade, custom titanium rings from Zoe & Doyle. Even though titanium isn’t a typical, traditional jewelry metal, it just sounds cool to say out loud. “Yeah, we originally wanted kryptonite wedding bands, but then we saw these titanium beauties and knew they were us.” I especially like the titanium rings that are lined with rosewood or polished anodized royal blue.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fashion Query

Things don’t add up. The fashion world has long favored the zombie look. You know what I mean: that blank stare with a mix of menace and only-in-your-dreams. With the interest in vampires as evidenced by the Stephanie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga book series and the movie it spawned, and the HBO series True Blood, one has to wonder why a “fang banger” look hasn’t emerged in fashion spreads. The duo teethmarks on the neck with alluring trickle of blood. The Do-It-With-Bats retro clothing line to tie in with Dracula. There are count-less opportunities.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Aluminum Recycling Business Opps

Make note of the date of this posting since it’s the basis for my patent claim. I’ve just started up a company, based on this new invention of mine. It’s a green business, so I’m planning to obtain stimulus funding. This new product will revolutionize the market I’m entering and may even spawn franchising opportunities. I’m entering the fast-paced aluminum recycling market. Most independent businesspeople in this market rely on stolen grocery carts, old strollers, or basket-laden bicycles to cover their collection routes. My revolutionary invention is a territory-expanding, solar-powered, motorized cart that will have an integrated can crusher and gumball dispenser. For obvious reasons, there will also be a Purell hand-sanitizer dispenser handily mounted in the operator compartment. (Note to any Purell executive reading this: contact me soon for investment opportunities leading to proprietary product-placement rights). The can crusher component will maximize the number of aluminum cans that can be collected and reduces the required size of the holding reservoir before off-loading is required at the designated, local recycling center. The gumball dispenser, you ask? Ahhhhh, since this is a laborious business, operators tend to get tired and often find park benches to snooze. While enjoying a well-deserved respite, the mobile collection cart can be parked in a visible, high traffic corner nearby. That way children can be rewarded for collecting cans. A small gumball will be dispensed for each can inserted in the solar-powered can crusher. Detailed drawings of this remarkable product are available to interested investors after receipt of the signed standard 28-page confidentiality agreement.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Aliens Among Us?

O.K. let’s say you’re an extraterrestrial with super advanced intelligence and technology. What on Earth (or any other planet for that matter) interest would you have visiting or living among us humans? Does anyone really think that ETs, aliens, non-earthlings have any interest in living among us? Are they likely to be hanging out at the Old Country Buffet restaurants watching overweight, greasy-hair families gorging on fried chicken, mashed potatoes drowning in gravy, and peach cobbler with three scoops of ice milk and taking detailed notes filled with awe, respect, and fear? I don't think so. If anything, they know us and avoid us, much like we step around a fire-ant hill. Yeah, I suppose it’s worth trying to reach out to non-Earth intelligence, but we need to be prepared to be disappointed. If they’re less intelligent than the average human, they’ll be irritating to be around, asking lots of really obvious dumb questions. If they’re smarter than us, do you think they’re going to be caught dead with us hanging around them asking really dumb questions – “So, how does this hyperspace stuff work again and are you sure you’ve never met any Klingons?”

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Swoosh is a good word. It’s solid and unpretentious. Used as a verb, it reinforces what its meaning is. A fitting and righteous example of onomatopoeia. To me, it’s one of those words that has greatest impact when the person using it has directly experienced the swoosh first hand…when their breath has been yanked out of their face or their hair has been ruffled by whatever swooshed. It also benefits from the buddy system, pairing up with either the word “past” or “by” – just like good 10-year-olds at summer camp, they tend to hang out together and appear to have a nominal interest in each other’s welfare. Swoosh past and swish by seems to go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s nice that swoosh defines a more casual use of language. You probably don’t hear it being used much in stockholder meetings, legal briefs, or papal encyclicals. It’s just too informal I suspect. I do need to mention that Nike has co-opted and taken swoosh by force to refer to its logo, which looks and functions more like a checkmark. Every time I see the Nike checkmark logo I can’t help but think that Nike executives sit in their corporate global lair and chuckle in that evil way that exploitive control freaks do and say in a self-congratulatory way, “Yes, yes check off another doofus who is helping to spread our message of world domination.”

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June Fourth Incident

Today is the 20th anniversary of the several-day assault by hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops on the people of Beijing. The assault began on June 3, 1989 with troops invading the city from all directions and culminated in the defiance of one man who held up a line of Chinese Type-59 tanks on the morning of June 5th. To this day, he is simply known as The Tank Man. His name is not known. At the moment, he represented the cumulative anger, frustration, and hopelessness of the remaining protesters and the families and friends of thousands that had been slaughtered or seriously injured. It was a courageous act of a lone person that has reverberated throughout the world. The Tiananmen Square massacre (referred to in Chinese as the June 4 Incident) is a carefully guarded secret in China, which is difficult to explain away as merely an accidental stumble down the steps or walking into a door.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Randolph Hotel

Buried under multiple layers of paper billboard signs promoting cigarettes, beer and burgers. A painted advertisement for a long-demolished hotel. Painted on a cement base. Painted to be permanent. Now, a historic curiosity. A laughable reminder of how little a U.S. dollar is worth. From a period when a couple of quarters, a dime and a nickel jingling in a trouser pocket indicated enough wealth to buy a couple of beers and a sandwich. A time when stopping to pick up a penny off the sidewalk meant it was your lucky day. Ahhhh…. Randolph Hotel, do you exist in anyone’s memory today? Were you a comfort to a weary traveler? Are there any alive today, who were conceived in a room luxurious enough to have its own private bath?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Collage as Mirror of the World

Collage is perhaps the most representative form of art for contemporary 21st century living. The amalgamation of the disparate, the related, and the idiosyncratic in a two-dimensional piece of art functions as the snapshot of the daily-life chaos. Global Collage is a great collection of contemporary collage art from artists located all over the planet. The haiku and haibun poet Stanley Pelter from Lincolnshire, England, has a series of exquisite haibun books with incredible collage covers created by illustrator Izzy Sharpe. Yet, what we think, observe, and internalize is dynamic. Our dreams are probably closer to a real-time sensory collage of awake living. The site, WebCollage: Exterminate All Rational Thought, developed by Jamie Zawinski, is a dynamic collage site. WebCollage creates collages out of random images found on the worldwide web—with the collage being refreshed every couple of minutes. It is a mirror held up to the world.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Things That Depress Me

• hay rides
• build-your-own taco buffets
• hearing, “Don’t take this personal, but…”
• button-cover fake cufflinks
• cute women (and men) who act dumb
• overcoats with belts and epaulets
• all-inclusive cruises and vacations
• the term “all-inclusive”
• wooden geese with blue gingham bows
• hearing, ”Your call is important to us, please wait for the next available…”

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dominant Grip

Control. We all want it. To be in control. To control our destiny. To control others. Existence = control. The human animal sniffs, snorts, and snaps its slime-coated tongue as it measures each encounter. Am I in control or being controlled? Control is power…pure power. Think of the king, dictator, cult leader, or boss. They each share the ability to f you up, f you over, and, in some cases, to literally f you. The king, dictator, cult leader, and boss share the same fundamental sensibility. They control you and want you to admit it and succumb with a smile and a thank you sir / ma’am. Control over others is the ultimate endorphin rush…the giddy sense of power to play god—thus, the maniacal laugh that us minions must endure and support with an embarrassed chuckle or a full out Ed McMahon-style, “Right you are, Johnny!!”

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Getting a Raise Through Healthy Coffee

I love coffee. Unadulterated—hot and black. That’s why I’m enjoying the current flurry of news about the health benefits of coffee. In fact, I’m gulping a cup right now before taking a 15- to 30-minute catnap. Why? Because researchers at The Sleep Research Centre, Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England have found that since caffeine takes a half hour to kick in, I’ll jump up after a short snooze all alert and rested. After my refreshing nap, I plan to Starbuck my boss into a raise. According to the European Journal of Social Psychology, caffeine may make people more open to persuasion. Researchers say it hones cognitive function, causing skeptics to be more receptive to a convincing case. One concern: the boss-man drinks decaf. So, if I "accidentally" give him a large cup of bold-brew regular will I give him stomach pain, agitation, anxiety, restlessness, confusion, seizures, dehydration, faster breathing rate, fast heartbeat, fever, frequent urination, increased sensitivity to touch or pain, irritability, muscle trembling or twitching, vomiting (sometimes with blood), fibrocystic breast disease, ringing or other sounds in ears, seeing flashes of “zig-zag” lights, and trouble in sleeping. If I get my raise, should I care?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rant Against the Madness

There is something delightfully cathartic about ranting. There’s a sense of systemic uncontrolled rage exploding. Often it has simmered to the point of the cover popping and jostling until a full out boil blows it off. There is much to rant about – arrogance, injustice, greed, and exploitation to name a few rubric categories. But, I especially like ranters who can control their fury and funnel it into precise language. Especially when the target is the petty and powerful. Company work settings seem to be the Petri dishes for breeding the choicest examples of lunacy. And the lunatics, like scum, tend to float to the top buoyed by their allegiances to rules and protocol that have no footing in common sense. A wonderful rant against the corporate overseers can be found in Mimi Smartypants’ diary entry, An Open Letter To The People In Charge At My Work. In fact, when you’re done reading Open Letter there are other fun rants to read in the diary.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Music for Global Peace

The goal is simple: Create world peace by connecting people and communities around the world through music. The Playing for Change Foundation intends to build connected music schools around the globe. The first school in Guguleto, South Africa will be supported by a network of established musicians and fellow music students in the U.S and abroad.

An incredible YouTube video showcases American bluesman Keb Mo and Spain's Manu Chao playing with a group of 35 musicians, all playing their version together of Bob Marley’s song, “One Love.”