Friday, October 31, 2008

Some kid actually asked "Hey, what's your favorite letter?"

So, yeah. Halloween 2008. Second Halloween since I married the costumier, which pretty much means my outfit can beat up your outfit. So this year, the Dread Pirate Thomas (check out, the Houston Chronicle website in the next couple of days), last year "Red Stick" Houston, the fastest gun EAST of the Missisippi.
Next year - who knows! But I'm betting it'll be something that calls for a beard, and a hat....

Fidel Castro perhaps? El Presidente!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes,
would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.
The ten men drank in the bar every day

and seemed quite happy with the arrangement,
until one day, the owner threw
them a curve.
'Since you are all such good customers,' he said,
going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.'
Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes
so the
first four men were unaffected.
They would still drink for free.
But what
about the other six men - the paying customers?
How could they divide the
$20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'
They realized
that $20 divided by six is $3.33.
But if they subtracted
that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would
each end up being paid to drink his beer.
So, the bar owner suggested that it
would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount,
and he
proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to
drink for free.
But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare

their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20', declared the sixth man.
He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10!'

'Yeah, that's right', exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a
dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than me!'

'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10
back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'

'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We
didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth
man didn't show up for drinks,
so the nine sat down and had beers without
But when it came time to pay the bill they discovered something

They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half

of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax
system works.
The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from

a tax reduction.
Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they

just may not show up anymore.
In fact, they might start drinking overseas

where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Friday, October 24, 2008


October and the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear.
What do I care?

October and kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on
And on.


Monday, October 13, 2008


I've spent most of today writing essay questions in preparation for my Church History mid-term exam tomorrow. My professor is Miles Mullin, unfortunate older brother of Shane Mullin, for those of you who know that guy. Professor Mullin gave us 4 potential essay questions, of which 3 will appear on the test, of which we must answer exactly 2. So - I don't have to prepare all four of them. But if I prepare 3 of them, and one of those does not appear on the exam, I'm golden. If I only prepare two of them, that's a gamble, because there's a chance that one out of two may not appear on the test. One is right out. So there's that. I've been doing that all day. Which lead to my search for distractions much of the afternoon. Which resulted in my stumbling across this news:

New pictures have surfaced of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law portraying Sherlock Holmes and Dr. James Watson respectively, in a new film by Guy Ritchie. I've known about the film for some time, but hadn't seen pictures until today. Here's a taste:

You can click these to see more pictures.

Anyway - the people who know me best know that I have always loved the character Sherlock Holmes and have devoured every single story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote about him. My fascination with Sherlock Holmes started at a very young age - elementary school, probably - when I was given a rather thick anthology of the Strand stories by an aunt of mine. In fact, my love for the character is what led, ultimately to my obsession with Batman - also known as "the Worlds Greatest Detective".

Anyway - I only bring it up to express a little disappointment in the way Downey looks as Holmes. Based on my reading of the stories, and the illustrations by Sidney Paget which accompanied Doyle's serials in The Strand, I always imagined Sherlock Holmes one of two ways. Either well-dressed in the style of the late 19th century, sometimes in a large overcoat and hat (not necessarily his signature deerstalker cap) - or in a dressing gown and robe, indulging in some questionable substances in the privacy of his own rooms at 221B Baker Street. Robert Downey Jr. looks like a cross between Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Twist. Maybe he's in one of Holmes' famous disguises (another trait Batman picks up), or maybe RDJ is just trying to get into character by wearing some period clothing. If you look at the other pictures, it's clear that his sneakers are NOT period. Neither is his coffee.

Either way - I think Robert Downey Jr. is a pretty amazing actor. And I like the look they've got going with Jude Law's Dr. Watson. I'm really excited about a Sherlock Holmes movie with these two, and I hope it will remain faithful to the source material. Apparently Amy Adams is playing Irene Adler in the film, too. I wonder if they have an awesome Moriarty. I recommend Michael Emerson who plays Benjamin Linus on LOST. Ben Linus uses the name Moriarty on one of his fake passports in the show. Also he's kind of amazing - in a scary, diabolical kind of way.

I am also aware of another Sherlock Holmes film in production at Columbia Pictures starring Sascha Baron Cohen as Holmes and Will Ferrell as Watson. It's supposedly written by Ethan Coen, and produced by Judd Apatow. I am confident that it will be a travesty and an unmitigated failure.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fey or Palin?

You make the call!
Check out this quiz from the Chicago Tribune.
From a series of pictures, you have to pick which ones are Sarah Palin, and which ones are Tina Fey.
I got 90%! There's one that's pretty tricky.

(HT to ysmarko)

Forget the Mayan Calendar...

...the world's going to end on Sunday, November 23rd 2008.

Because that's the day Chinese Democracy by Guns 'N Roses is finally scheduled to drop.
A Sunday, not a Tuesday like usual, the release is going to be a Best Buy exclusive.

As for the promise by the Dr. Pepper company to give everyone in America a free can of the stuff if the album released at any time during 2008, Dr. Pepper VP of Marketing, Tony Jacobs said, "if the rumors are true, we're putting the Dr. Pepper on ice."
Check out the article here.

Abz and I will actually be at National Youthworker Convention in Nashville that day. I'm going to petition Marko to give the disc away as a prize (To me. For the idea), and have a listening party with free Dr. Pepper!

We should trade jobs...

From an interview on,
Colbert, who lives in New Jersey with his wife and kids, also touched upon one of his hobbies: teaching Sunday school. He's done it in the past and hopes to again next year.

"The great thing about teaching Sunday school is that these kids ask questions that even in college we thought were so deep," he said. Examples: What's beyond time? What came before God?

Then again, he said, sometimes they're just asking to go to the bathroom.
"And I say no."

Things I Would Eliminate by J.T.

Why are there fingernail clippers AND toenail clippers. And why are the fingernail clippers so much smaller? And don't tell me it's because fingers are smaller than toes - my thumbnail is definitely bigger than all but two of my toes (and that's counting both feet). Also - we use the biggest one (toenail clippers) to cut the smallest nail (the piggy who went "wee-wee"). And don't tell me you're supposed to switch back and forth between the big ones and the little ones on the same foot. That's the height of inefficiency. Is there some weird Talmudic precedent for not mixing toe jam and.... finger... jam? Is it not kosher? Just today I cut my thumbnail with toenail clippers, and I don't care who knows.

So I propose the elimination of one or the other - most likely the fingernail ones, the little ones.
All in favor say "aye".

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Consume This:

There is a church not too far from us that recently added a $25 million addition to their building. Our local newspaper ran a front-page story not too long ago about a study revealing that one in five people in our city lives in poverty. This is a book about those two numbers.

It's a book about faith and fear,

wealth and war,

poverty, power, safety, terror,

Bibles, bombs, and homeland insecurity,

It's about empty empires and the truth that everybody's a priest, it's about oppression, occupation, and what happens when Christians support, animate and participate in the very things Jesus came to set people free from.

It's about what it means to be a part of the church of Jesus in a world where some people fly planes into buildings while others pick up groceries in Hummers.
Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell and Don Golden.

Yom Kippur

Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly...
Joel 2:15

From the Yiddish play, The Dybbuk;
God's world is great and holy. The holiest land in the world is the land of Israel. In the land of Israel, the holiest city is Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, the holiest place is the temple, and in the Temple, the holiest spot was the Holy of Holies...

There are seventy peoples in the world. The holiest among these is the people of Israel. The holiest of the people of Israel is the tribe of Levi. In the tribe of Levi, the holiest are the priests. Among the priests, the holiest was the High Priest...

There are 354 days in the [lunar] year. Among these, the holidays are holy. Higher than these is the holiness of the Sabbath. Among Sabbaths, the holiest is the Day of Atonement, the Sabbath of Sabbaths...

There are seventy languages in the world. The holiest is Hebrew. Holier than all else in this language is the holy Torah, and in the Torah, the holiest part is the Ten Commandments. In the Ten Commandments, the holiest of all words is the name of God...

And once during the year, at a certain hour, these four supreme sanctities of the world were joined with one another. That was on the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies, and there utter the name of God. And because this hour was beyond measure holy and awesome, it was the time of the utmost peril, not only for the High Priest but for the whole of Israel. For if in this hour there had, God forbid, entered the mind of the High Priest a false or sinful thought, the entire world would have been destroyed.
(From Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin)

You'd think that it would just be common courtesy for them to inform - I don't know - the rest of civilization when they did this every year, just in case the world was destroyed one time.
Kind of reminds me of a few months ago when they finally fired up that Supercollider without really telling everyone it might result in a black hole that would basically destroy the fabric of our universe. Just a heads-up might have been nice.

Anyway, Baruch Ha-Shem!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

All growned up...

About 11 weeks ago, after considering some other options, Abby and I decided to stay in the house we had been renting for about 18 months. As a gift to ourselves, we decided to do something we probably could not have done if we had moved to any of the places we had been considering:
We adopted.

We had been talking about it for a while. In fact, Abz had been on me to adopt another puppy (we already have Pixy, a 4-year-old Lab/Pit) for quite a while - probably since we moved into the house. She felt like Pixy probably could stand to be a little better socialized. Besides, only-children get spoiled. So we did some research, looked at some rescue organizations, and what they had available, and went to a PetsMart up in Tomball where
S.A.F.E. House Rescue (Saving Animals From Euthanasia) was having a pet adoption fair.

There were a bunch of puppies there, including a brother and 2 sisters from the same litter. All three were from a litter that originally consisted of 6, but had lost 3 to Parvo. Because they were still getting shots to prevent Parvo, they told everyone that, even if adopted, none of those 3 puppies would go home with anybody until the shots were complete. At least a week or two. The boy and one of the girls was stark white, and the other sister was grey and white, like a wolf. We considered adopting the girl, Keelah, who was very popular that day, but in the end, we decided to go with the boy, who was far more laid back - like us. After talking to us, getting our application, seeing that we already had a good dog with a good home, and that Abz had a ton of experience with dogs, they decided to make an exception for us. So on July 12, 2008, we adopted an 11-week-old Lab/Husky puppy named Brewster. We brought him home, changed his name to Cash and instantly fell in love. Here he is that day:

(check him out at the S.A.F.E. House Rescue site!)

Here's a picture of him with Pixy, right after they met for the first time:
Part of the adoption fee with S.A.F.E. House included puppy training classes with The Pet Tutor, which we were very excited about. It took us a couple of weeks, but we finally got Cash enrolled, and wouldn't you know it - his sister Keelah was in the same class, which was kind of cool.

Well, here we are 6 weeks of Tuesday night classes (and 1 Hurricane Ike week off) later, and he is all growned up. Cash graduated from puppy school Tuesday night, and is about 22 weeks old now. Here's a picture of him recently:

How 'bout those ears? Like radar, man. More Husky than Lab every day. And he's gotten a little bit golden on the top of the head, and shoulders. I was never really a dog person, and definitely not a cat person. But I married a single dog-mom and became a convert. Now, I don't know what I'd do without those two. And Abby, too, I guess. Those three.

Happy Graduation, Cash-o-la!