"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Monday, October 30, 2006

Funny news item of the day

FERN PARK, Fla. - (AP) -- A 15-year-old boy was arrested when deputies stopped him driving a stolen bus along a public transit route, picking up passengers and collecting fares, authorities said Sunday.

Ritchie Calvin Davis took the bus Saturday from the Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando, where it was parked awaiting sale at an auction, a Seminole County sheriff's report said. The bus belongs to the Central Florida Transportation Agency, which runs LYNX public transit services in the Orlando area.

Passengers and deputies noted Davis drove the bus at normal speeds and made all the appropriate stops on the route. One passenger, suspicious of the youthful looks of the driver, called 911.

There were two passengers on the bus when deputies stopped it in Fern Park, an Orlando suburb about 12 miles north of the fairgrounds where the bus was stolen. Authorities believe Davis picked up a total of three passengers and collected only a few dollars on his Saturday morning drive.

The teen was charged with grand theft auto and driving without a license. A court hearing was scheduled Tuesday to determine if he will be charged as an adult or a juvenile.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My new favorite journalist

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has consistently impressed me over the last several months with his series of in-your-face commentaries exposing the sanctimonious duplicity of "Dubya" and his cronies. No journalist in the mainstream media has had the balls to take on an administration this forcefully since Edward R. Murrow, and it's a refreshing change from the right-wing gas-bags who have previously dominated the airwaves, such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilley. Check out Olbermann's latest report last week on Bush's signing into law The Military Commissions Act -- a piece of legislation that strips away the constitutional right of habeas corpus, and brings this nation one step closer to the end of democracy as we have known it for over two hundred years: "a government more dangerous to our liberty than the enemy it claims to protect us from."

The man tells it like it is. It's about time somebody did.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The sound of opportunity

Over the weekend, we got a much-needed breath of fresh air as a cold front passed through the area. This means I can finally turn off my air conditioner and open the windows, as the outside temperature has finally dipped below the ninety-degree mark for the first time since about April, I think. While those of you in more moderate climates have four distinct seasons, we here in Texas have only two: "hot", and "damn hot".

In any case, while the cooling breezes were blowing through the house, Mrs. Toast remarked that all we needed was the sound of crashing surf to feel like we were on our own private island. This comment naturally sent me off to scour that source of all things Good and Wonderful (i.e., The Internet) in search of "surf sounds". After struggling through many links to tunes by the Beach Boys, sure enough, I came upon this site, which featured a vast selection of "ambient sound" CD's perfect for relaxation and meditation, all at the bargain price of just $12.95 each. Wow! Check out some of these actual selections from the web site:

Yes, this is what exactly we're looking for. Soothing relaxing ocean sounds, including crashing waves, and squawking sea gulls. Ahhhhhhhh. Close your eyes and you can almost smell the salt air. I wonder what else they have in this genre?

Oh, storms. That's nice. Who can resist the soothing sound of tinkling rain and the rumble of a distant thunderstorm on a summer day? I can easily see how someone might want to pay $12.95 for an hour's worth of relaxing ambient sounds like these. I mean, what a great deal!

And now we ... huh? What's this? "Soothing Air Conditioner"? Um, this is a little bit of a stretch as I just turned OFF the air conditioner. Hmmmm. Other titles in this series include "Soothing Shower Head", "Peaceful Air Purifier", "Calming Electric Fan", and "Smooth Radio Static". Who knew household appliances could be the source of calming, soothing, ambient sounds? And at the bargain price of only $12.95 each!

I'm amazed to learn that babies find the sound of vacuum cleaners to be soothing. Even though I can remember being awakened as a child by the sound of a vacuum cleaner, apparently nowadays major appliances are a source of great comfort to small children, as in addition to this disk, others in this series include "Baby's Blow Dryer CD", "Baby's Dishwasher CD", as well as Baby's fans, washing machines, and clothes dryers. Did I mention each disk in this series is only $12.95?

OK, by now I am starting to realize that there is a vast untapped market here, and I am struck with an idea. If these guys at Pure White Noise® can get people to pay $12.95 by sticking a microphone up to a vacuum cleaner for an hour, there must be many other sounds they've overlooked that I can capitalize on. So, allow me to now present my own entries into the ambient sounds market:

CITY SOUNDS: Sure "nature" sounds are great if you find rustling leaves and chirping crickets to be relaxing. But quite a few people who live in big towns like New York City, San Francisco, and Fargo become quite accustomed to the background noise of the city, and go crazy when they get out into the deafening silence of the country. So for those poor deprived city-dwellers, my first CD in the series will feature sixty minutes of various city sounds such as honking horns, shouting, rumbling subways, the muffled thud of bass from the neighbor's stereo system, domestic disturbances, sirens, gunshots, etc. Urbanites will feel relaxed and right at home.

TRAFFIC NOISE: In case general-purpose city sounds aren't enough for you, here's an entire CD of Traffic Sounds which I can record "live" in one afternoon on Houston's Southwest Freeway. This one will specialize in typical Texas traffic noises, including busses, 18-wheel diesel trucks, lots of cursing, and the occasional crackle of small-arms fire. Nothing like a nice relaxing drive around Loop 610!

BARKING DOGS: Dog lovers will really go for this one. One hour of incessant yapping, relentless barking, and wretched howling. If you're away from home and miss the sound of Fido in your back yard, be sure to bring along this CD.

BABY'S FIRST CD OF GARBAGE DISPOSAL SOUNDS: Air conditioners, fans, washers, dryers ... how could this major household appliance have been overlooked? Crank this one up loud to "create an oasis of relaxation and calm, promote sleep, provide stress relief sounds, block annoying noise for a more restful sleep and improve concentration, and ease the symptoms of colic, tinnitus, ADD/ADHD and hyperacusis". Includes sounds of grinding chicken bones, silverware and other items. Sure, you could just turn on your own disposer, but this CD is only $12.95! Wow!

CRYING BABY SOUNDS: I've saved the best one for last. Are you childless? Ever been out to a restaurant to hear a toddler screaming at the top of his lungs at the next table, and wish that you too could experience the joys of parenthood for yourself? Well then get this disk for all of the fun and none of the dirty diapers. This one's also perfect for empty-nesters who miss the cries, the wails, the blood-curdling screams that only a hungry, wet, and colicky baby can make. Yes, at just $12.95, you'll want to pick up several of these for everyone on your Christmas list. I guarantee they'll never forget you and your thoughtful gift this coming Holiday Season!

Note: No actual babies were harmed during the making of this CD, although we came pretty damn close and had to restrain ourselves on a couple of occasions.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New twist on an old scam

Look out, Nigeria; Iraq is stealing your scam. I received the following email today allegedly offering me the chance to get my hands on bagfuls of $100 bills from a secret stash of twenty-five million bucks once belonging to Saddam Hussein (I'm certain he had stacks of U.S. currency just laying around one of his palaces that no one discovered before now). Sadly, even though this hoax and its numerous variations have been debunked so widely and for so long that it's hard to believe anyone could still fall for it, some greedy, clueless person probably will be duped into turning over their bank account information to this con artist (and I use the word "artist" loosely):
Hey Buddy,

This mail may not be surprising to you if you have been following current events in the international media with reference to the Middle East and Iraq in particular. I am Sgt Lee Boyd, I am a soldier And photo journalist, serving in the military. I am with the 248th Engineer corp. in the National Guard. I am writing this message from Ar-ramadi in Iraq. We hit Iraq May 2003 and have moved around a few times building up f.o.b. around the western side of the country as well as missions into Baghdad. With attacks by insurgents everyday and car bombs, We Managed to move funds belonging to Saddam Hussein Family. The total amount is Twenty-five Million US dollars in cash, mostly Hundred Dollar bills. We want to move this money out of Iraqi. No strings attached, just help us receive it, Iraq is a war zone although partially ended. We plan on using diplomatic courier to ship the money out in one large silver box, using Diplomatic Immunity. If you are interested I will send you the full details, when you receive this letter signifying your interest including your most confidential telephone/fax numbers for quick response also your contact details. In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the Security and international media as I am giving you this information in total Trust and Confidence. I look forward to your prompt favorable response. Thanks for your understanding.

Yours Respectfully,
Sgt Lee Boyd

So, "Sgt. Boyd", how do you like my "prompt favorable response" by posting it on my blog, sucka? I might also add that I'm especially impressed with your Inappropriate Use of Capital Letters.

Another common fraud is the "sweepstakes" ploy. The victim receives a notice, often originating from a foreign country such as Canada or the Netherlands, that they have won a huge cash prize of a hundred thousand dollars or more in a national lottery. The letter is accompanied by a very genuine-looking check for $1,000 or so. The victim is instructed to cash or deposit the check and send part of the funds back to cover "fees" so that the balance of the prize money can be sent. The "fee" is relatively small compared to the enclosed check, perhaps one or two hundred dollars. Of course, several weeks later the check is returned as bogus and the victim is out the "fee" as well as unpaid check charges from their bank. Amazingly, quite a few people have been taken recently by this scam.

As Will Rogers revised the old idiom, "a fool and his money are soon elected."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bad Toast

I've actually had a couple of people call or write in the last few days to inquire if all is well with me. As in, "Uh, we noticed that you hadn't posted to your blog in over a freaking week and we were wondering if you were, like, still alive?" I do thank you for your concern, even if it forces me to publicly admit that I have been one lazy-ass you-know-what. Yeah, I'm lazy all right. How lazy am I? I'm so lazy I think we're a two-income family because Mrs. Toast has two jobs. I'm so lazy I hired a handyman to empty the recycle bin on my computer. I'm so lazy I actually have a remote control for my remote control. Bada BING. Thank you, thankyouverymuch.

But seriously folks, there's been some righteously blogworthy stuff in the news lately, and I apologize for not being on it like a pit bull on a pork chop. Let's see ... there's the continued glorious self-destruction of the Republican party, mutant human-rabbit hybrids, 14-year
old girls being interrogated by the Secret Service for Bush-bashing on their MySpace pages, just to name a few hot items ... but darn it, I've just been too busy carrying on those seedy IM chats with my good buddy, Fla. Rep. Mark Foley ... er excuse me, Maf54.

Speaking of, I loved this quip from Jay Leno the other night: "ABC is reporting that Mark Foley interrupted a vote on the House floor, stopped the House floor vote, so he could have online phone sex with a 16-year-old. Say what you want about Bill Clinton -- he could sit at his desk and have sex and work at the same time."

This would be even funnier if it wasn't true.

But I swear I will get up off my lazy ass and back into the swing of semi-regular blogging soon, honest. In the meantime, however, I would like to leave you with this thought: wouldn't you say that I bear a rather striking and uncanny resemblance to Bill Gates? (Note: mustache added for emphasis.)(Note to Note: his, not mine.)

I think I can use this to my advantage: all I have to do is stop by the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA, walk through Bill's office, and raid the petty cash jar on the way out. That ought to be good for a couple of million bucks.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dead horses

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount and get a different horse."

However, in the Bush administration, more advanced strategies (frequently also used in the corporate or academic world) are often employed:

1. Buy a stronger whip.

2. Change riders.

3. Appoint a committee to study the horse.

4. Arrange to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

5. Lower the standards so that dead horses can be included.

6. Reclassify the dead horse as "living impaired".

7. Hire outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harness several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Provide additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance.

10. Do a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.

11. Declare that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line than do other horses.

12. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses.

13. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bubba takes a writing class

Today's exercise: write a letter of complaint about a product or service you are dissatisfied with. Clearly explain the problem, how it has affected you, and how you would like for the matter to be resolved.


Dear Proctar and Gumbel:

I am writing to complain about your use of forren languages on products sold in stores here in the United States of America. I recently bought a 20-pack of toilet paper at Wal-Mart, and when I got it home I discovered that the labels and instructions for use of the product were printed in Spanish! According to the package, it contained "rollos gigantes", and is "seguro para su drenaje o sistema septico"! What the hell is that suppose to mean? I am mad!

The last time I checked (which was about fifteen minutes ago, give or take) the Official Language of America was American. This is what God intended when he formed this country in 1776! You can bet there were not people in this country talking in no forren languages before the Pilgrims landed on Dodge or was it Chrysler Rock in 1492 speaking American English, no siree! People who come here from forren countrys such as New Mexico need to learn to speak the official language of the land, and you are only making it easier on them. Why should they have to learn to speak American when they can buy a product that says "se ajusta a casi todos los sostenedores de rollo regulares"? I don't even know what the hell that means! I am really mad now!

It's companys like you that are responsible for terrorist acts such as 9/11. I'll bet you didn't print instructions how to use toilet paper in Arabic, did you? Hell no. And look what happened. I wouldn't be surprised if the next act of terror on English-speaking Americans is planned, directed, and carried out in Spanish, which you have made easier with your products. Americans have been wiping their butts in English for centuries, and now you're ruining everything this great country stands for by allowing these Spanish Butt Wipers to take over our culture. I am outraged!!

Maybe if you was selling these products in forren countries (like France for example), I can see how it would make sense to have labels printed in Spanish. But No! This is the Good Old U. S. of A. and Lady Liberty didn't die during the Civil War of 1812 just to see some product advertise that it will "ayudar a cuidar su piel gentilmente", whatever the hell that means. I'll bet The Unknown Soldier will be rolling over in his Tomb under The White House when he hears about this!

I am one plenty outraged customer, let me tell you, and the only way you will make me happy is if you send me free toilet paper for the rest of my life. I use about two rolls a day cuz I'm a big healthy American Boy, if you catch my drift, so I need to see a few cartons of your product start arriving on the deck of my double-wide pretty damn soon.

Thank you very much, or should I say "grassy-ass"?

Yours truly,
-Bubba Smif
El Paso, TX


Tomorrow's writing exercise: compose a letter of apology to the many ethnic groups you have offended with today's assignment.