Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The orange is about to drop!

Times Square up in New York City may have a Waterford crystal ball to drop at midnight tonight.

But, here in the big O-town, we have a giant orange.

I thought ye out-of-town socks might get a kick out of seeing it, since I doubt the national media is going to cover the goings-on down on Church Street this year.

Ever since Universal built City Walk and Disney did away with cover charges to Pleasure Island, the downtown party scene has really taken a nose dive. Add, the current economic woes to the equation, and I don't think you're going to have to worry about crowds if you decide to witness the orange dropping in person.

They say only about 8,000 people are going to show up this year, most of them out-of-towners getting ready for tomorrow's Citrus Bowl.

Most of us locals, on the other hand, will be having some low-key entertainment in our own homes this year.

Cheers to you and yours, and at 11:59:59 yours truly will raise his glass of champagne to toast ye socks properly!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

8 positive notes

Ok, I have been catching a lot of flack recently for my crappy year-end attitude. Almost all of said flack is justified, I suppose. So, I decided to sit down today and post a list of ten good things that happened in 2008.

Well, that was harder than I expected it to be!

I only came up with 8!!

So, here's my 8 for '08, in no particular order:

1. Gas prices dropped to affordable levels in time for the holiday season.

2. Texas Tech's football team finally got some respect beyond the staked plains.

3. Only one minor tropical storm came to this neck of the woods, no hurricanes.

4. Michael Phelps struck gold in Beijing. Repeatedly.

5. The explosion of facebook has put yours truly back in touch with a lot of folks.

6. The Gators won the SEC championship and the right to play for a 3rd national championship.

7. The Disaster in Waiting is still just in waiting.

8. Mike Huckabee got his own show on FoxNews.

It was a struggle to come up with these. Let's hope '09's list is easier to compile!!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Matching resolutions to the resolved . . .

The most annoying thing about this time of year is the resolutions we socks are expected to come up with.

I mean, just about everybody picks one from the big "top ten" list below. To spice things up a bit, I thought I'd suggest someone we all know who should pick each one for 2009.

In the order of popularity of the resolution:

1. Spend more time with friends and family - okay, I'll take this one for myself. Is that cheating? It's the only fun one on the list . . .

2. Get back in shape - After last night: Brett Favre.

3. Lose weight - Phil Fulmer (perennial favorite)

4. Stop smoking - The Disaster in Waiting.

5. Enjoy life more - Hillary Clinton. Lose the sour puss. Do some traveling. Meet new people.

6. Stop drinking - Chyna (the wrestler, not the country).

7. Get out of debt - Just about everybody.

8. Learn something new - Congress. "Bailout" shouldn't be the answer to everything.

9. Volunteer to help others or make charitable contribution(s) - Liberals. See this article for explanation/justification:

10. Get organized - Conservatives. We need to take back our party, and we need to do it quickly.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hail & Farewell

As 2008 draws to a close, I'd like to pause to remember a couple of socks who left the dryer this year:

William F. Buckley, Jr. - His years of skewering the follies of liberalism will continue to be an inspiration.

George Carlin - I thought his stuff on "stuff" was great, and will always remember listening to my buddy Brandon's somewhat-warped cassette on the 7 words during a roadtrip between Lubbock and Dallas.

Michael Crichton - The genius who brought us Jurassic Park, among other great works of fiction.

Bo Diddley - His signature beat served as the backdrop to many a colorful line at Lost Pines summer camp.

Bobby Fischer - He was the reason my dad bought that cheesy chess set in Ciudad Acuna.

Estelle Getty - Who could help but laugh at Sophia in The Golden Girls?!

Isaac Hayes - He made "Hello, children" a signature phrase on South Park.

Charlton Heston - Alzheimer's Disease has claimed another giant. Heston was so much more than an actor, though his roles as Moses, Ben Hur, and El Cid are legendary. For me, though, he should always be remembered as a defender of our Constitution--both as a civil rights marcher and a defender of the right to keep and bear arms.

Sir Edmund Hillary - The mountain climber's passing was noted in a previous posting.

Eartha Kitt - I had only discovered her version of "Santa Baby" this year!

Harvey Korman - Tim Conway always cracked him up on The Carol Burnett Show.

Heath Ledger - The Joker deserves a posthumous Oscar this year.

Bernie Mack - Gone too soon, America.

Jim McKay - His intro to "Wild World of Sports" was always mimicked in our house . . . the agony of da feet!

Robert Mondavi - Cheap table wine drinkers should all raise a glass to him.

Paul Newman - His performance in "Empire Falls" made the movie better than the book.

Bettie Page - She was the classic queen of pin-ups.

Randy Pausch - His "last lecture" should be mandatory viewing.

Sydney Pollack - You may not remember the name, but you'd recognize his face. His performance in "Tootsie" opposite Dustin Hoffman was awesome!

Tim Russert - My Sunday routine still hasn't recovered from his sudden passing.

Yves St. Laurent - I thought I was styling when my mom bought me one of his ties to wear at an uncle's wedding back in the 80s.

Tony Snow - Always seemed like a good guy, whether on the cable news or behind a podium at the White House.

And, of course, we should also remember the 500+ service men and women who gave their lives in Iraq & Afghanistan.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Disappointing bowling day

No, I wasn't engaging in the ten-pin type of bowling.

The big doin's in this little corner of heaven centered on the Champs Sports Bowl, formerly known the Tangerine Bowl.

It's usually a real yawner. The lone exception in my rusty recollection was a couple of years ago when Texas Tech thrashed Clemson.

This year, I was hoping the Wisconsin Badgers would do the same to that unmentionable former all-girls school in our state capitol.

That didn't happen, and I didn't stick around to see the end. All the limp-wristed karate chopping was making me ill . . .

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Friday, December 26, 2008

The day after

Since English traditions seem to be the theme this week, ye socks should know the day after Christmas is a special one for those of us with roots in that little corner of heaven.

Whether you call it "Boxing Day" or "St. Stephen's Day," it's a good way to transition from all the Christmas stuff and get in the New Year's mode.

I've seen the day marked in different ways over the years. I think originally it was spent boxing up your old stuff to make way for all the new stuff you got on Christmas. Of course, you're supposed to then take the old stuff and donate it to the less fortunate.

I've also seen it spent taking boxes of unwanted gifts back to the store for exchange.

But, this year, at least around here, it's being spent boxing up the overflow of Christmas decorations.

Santa's little helpers got a wee bit overzealous this year . . .


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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Season's Greetings

Still feels like summer down here . . .

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wassailing . . . Florida style

Wassailing is an old family tradition for we socks with roots in the apple-growing regions of Merry Olde England.

In fact, the odd sounding word wassail comes from the old English drinking toast "Waes bu hael!" ("Be thou hail!)

Basically, the holiday tradition of wassailing began after you harvested your apples to make cider. Then you went staggering around the neighborhood to share your brew and sample others. Of course, raucous singing generally ensued, and thus wassailing began the more recent tradition of Christmas caroling. But, I digress.

This year, yours truly is going to modify ye olde family recipe to give it a little taste of Florida. Try it yourself, if you dare!

1. Boil 1.5 cups of sugar in 2 cups of water, then turn off heat.
2. Add spices: 6 cloves, half tsp of allspice, 1 tbsp of ginger, 2 cinnamon sticks.
3. Let concoction sit uncovered for about an hour.
4. Juice 3 lemons and 5 oranges.
5. Add juice plus 2 cups of apple cider to cooled concoction.
6. Bring back to a boil.
7. Serve hot.
OPTION: Add your favorite "adult beverage" to the base at this point.
8. After consuming a coupla cups, put some in a thermos and go visit your neighbors!


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Remembering the reason for the season

I don't know how exactly it happened, but today yours truly found himself caught up in the madness that has become Christmastime in America.

There I was in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant that shall remain nameless, hoping to score some bits of batter dipped and fried processed chicken for a hungry 12-year-old fresh out of a dentist's office.

I guess a bunch of other holiday shoppers had the same idea at precisely the same time, because the drive-thru lane was wrapped completely around said fast food establishment . . . not once, but TWICE!

That's right, two loops of hungry people snarled around one little building.

The problem that obviously arose was the exit strategy for the vehicles who eventually made it to the pick-up window and wanted "out of the loop." It seems some individual full of holiday spirit wasn't going to allow an equally jolly little elf so much as an inch.

Fast forward a few moments, and we had a freak show of three angry middle aged women pumping their fists at one another and tossing around words that cannot be reprinted here.

The feckless manager of the besieged restaurant eventually emerged, but just stood their dumbfounded.

Needless to say, we skipped the chicken bits and eventually found a serene little Chinese place down the road.

But, I couldn't help being a little disappointed in those people. This is supposed to be joy and good will. Am I alone in remembering that? I hope not . . .

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Person of the Year

I don't know about ye socks, but 2008 is a year yours truly can't wait to put in the rearview mirror.

As a tribute of sorts, I thought I'd rip off both Time Magazine and David Letterman and compile my list of the top ten people who made it such a downer:

10 & 9. Tied, Democratic governors Rod Blagojevich of Illinois and Eliot Spitzer of New York. One for ALLEGEDLY trying to sell a US Senate seat, and the other for ALLEGEDLY buying . . . well, something else.

8. CBS executives who cancelled "Jericho."

7. The pregnant "man." I don't care what kind of surgery it has undergone or how hairy the hormones make it, it's not a man.

6. "Reverend" Jeremiah Wright for his lifetime of damning America.

5. The guy who was brave enough to throw his shoes at President Bush, but wasn't so gutsy when Saddam Hussein was in charge.

4. The "Big 3" who showed up on private jets to ask for a multi-billion dollar hand-out.

3. Mortgage brokers who accepted "stated income" from loan applicants.

2. Oprah, for too many reasons to enumerate.

1. The Tragedy in Waiting, whose schemes to redistribute wealth (among other things) threaten to make 2009 an even crappier year.

OK, OK, OK, I promise to get out of this funk and post something more uplifting tomorrow. But, I'm gonna need some inspiration . . . pass the eggnog!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

New state champs!

Big doin's in the Citrus Bowl last night, as we hosted the state 6A football championship.

About 13,000 folks turned out to watch local underdog Seminole take on reigning champ Miami Northwestern.

And, it threatened to be an UGLY affair.

Northwestern quickly threw 21 points on the board, and the crowd prepared for a repeat of last year's thrashing of Boone (another local team).

But, the kids from Sanford have guts, and they hung in there to respond with 21 points of their own while thwarting the Miami kids'efforts to add to their total.

Then, with just about 30 seconds left on the clock, with everything tied-up at 21, hero-of-the-day Andre Debose made a stupendous running catch of a 40-yard bomb, tumbling into the endzone, and putting Seminole on top!

"And, the crowd went wild!"


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Flea market finds

Today's agenda included a quick drop by Jenks Manor to pick up the lord and lady for breakfast at a new greasy spoon.

Somehow we survived the oddly-shiny pancakes to get back on 441 and head up to Mount Dora to visit one of our favorite haunts: Renninger's Flea Market.

I loaded up on some fresh produce, a couple of books (of course!), a t-shirt, and a video game . . . all for $20!

I guess you could say I was out there doing my part for the economy, even if it was on a hobo budget!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

My neighbors rock

Well, ye socks, I hate to admit it, but yours truly was in full-fledged Scrooge mode this afternoon.

First of all, it might as well be summer down here, it's so hot and humid. Then, traffic had to be a beast on the way home.

But, thanks to my neighbors Matt and Jen . . . but, mostly Jen, I'm sure . . . I got over the tude as soon as I pulled into the drive. They had left a big gift bag full of cookies!

You know the kind where you mush a Hershey's kiss into the center?

I don't know if it's just the sugar rush, or what. But, it was just the pick-me-up I needed to get the last weekend before Christmas "to-do" list started!

I hope all your weekends get kicked-off as nicely as this!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Playing citrus farmer for an afternoon

Well, ye socks, yours truly got back to his Florida roots today.

Right after I got off work, it was harvest time in the backyard grove.

I have this really cool "grabber" that reaches way up top to the best sun-kissed fruit, and now have a great big plastic tote full of ruby red grapefruit.

I promised portions of this year's crop to a bunch of people in this neck o' the woods, and tomorrow's the big delivery day.

Now, if I could just find some of those infernal plastic grocery sacks . . .

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's a beautiful day!

And, I'm not just quoting the lyrics of one of my favorite songs!

I was out and about running errands today when I looked up at all the bright blue sky behind the dancing palm fronds.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the thermometer said 78.

This is December?!?

I know why so many people move down here this time of year.

Of course, they might just change their minds come July . . .

Enjoy these beautiful days while they last, though!!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Has the economy gone to the dogs?

I think so, especially after learning about an old Pavlovian experiment with canine subjects.

Two dogs were put in separate cages. A bell would ring, after which they would be "zapped" by some low voltage.

But, one of the dogs had a button that would stop the zapping in both cages. Eventually, he learned to hit that button as soon as the bell rang to save both himself and his unwitting comrade.

Later, the same two dogs were put in different cages. This time, both had the ability to stop the zapping by simply moving from one side of the cage to the other.
Well, the dog who had previously had a switch in his cage started looking for a solution as soon as he heard the bell ringing, until he eventually learned the new steps that were necessary to stop the zapping.

But, in the other cage, the dog who had never been taught about the switch heard the bell and immediately began cowering and whimpering. He hadn't been taught to search for a solution to his misery. This response has been labeled a "learned disability."

The behavioralist who presented the experiment says lessons may be drawn from it and applied to our current economic situation.

The folks "in the know" got used to pushing the Fed to flip the switch on interest rates every time our financial bell started ringing. But, now that's not going to work. So, while the eggheads scramble around trying to figure out what the new solution is going to be, the economically illiterate are cowering and whimpering rather than trying to find the solution, too.

Pretty thought provoking stuff. But, I think we're going to keep getting zapped if The Disaster in Waiting leads us down the road to socialism in the attempt to find that solution . . .

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Of shoes and liberty

In case ye socks missed it this weekend, El Presidente made a surprise visit to Baghdad.

While he was there, some idiot decided to take off his shoes and throw them at him.

Apparently, that's some big insult in the Arab world.


The bigger story, the one the rest of the press corps failed to highlight in their coverage of this display of bad manners, is that nobody got killed in its aftermath.

That wouldn't have happened just a few years ago.

Nobody would have dared throw footwear at Sodamn Insane, because they would have paid with their lives.

Were it not for the target of his contempt, the idiot shoe-tosser would not enjoy the freedom of speech that allowed him to go home to his family after his little temper tantrum.

Would that he and his ilk, both there and here, would focus their contemplations along those lines instead of coming up with new ways of voicing their indignation for the sake of being indignant.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

2008: The Year of the Uneducated Voter

I don't want to disenfranchise people around here, but I would like to see some minimal education requirement put in place.

I mean, you should at least know what the *()#@&) you're voting for before you cast your ballot, right?

It was bad enough so many people thought last month we were electing a motivational speaker instead of a commander-in-chief.

Now, this month, a bunch of haters handed the Heisman Trophy to a dude who is an excellent passing quarterback but certainly NOT the person it was intended to honor: the best ALL-AROUND college football player in the country.

Fortunately, the latter situation will be rectified in a couple of weeks when the better man will demonstrate the voters' folly.

The former is another story altogether . . .

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

It was a dark and not-so-stormy night

Sorry for the blurry picture, and that the flash didn't seem to be working so well on the digicamera tonight.

But, you get the idea.

In past years, I've enjoyed driving around this little corner of heaven to check out the Christmas lights. I know, it's corny, but we all have our vices.

This year, however, the tour o' lights was conducted on foot!

Following the luminary path in front my own abode, I got not only some much-needed cardio time, but also was allowed to enjoy the brisk temperature a recent "cool front" had brought down to this little corner of heaven.

The normally stoic side streets of College Park spring to life when the sun goes down this time of year, and I'm glad I decided to hoof it because the slower pace lets you take it all in without annoying your fellow drivers with a lot of brake-tapping.

Plus, when I got back to the house, I didn't feel the least bit guilty about the oversize slice of cake that followed dinner!


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Friday, December 12, 2008

Changing o' the seasons

Though it's nearly winter just about everywhere else, in this little corner of heaven we are just entering autumn.

As evidence, I give ye socks this recent shot of Lake Greenwood in downtown Orlando.

That's the best we've got in terms of leaves changing colors around here.

The best we've got in terms of snow, on the other hand, is NO SNOW! And, that's one of the best reasons to call this place home, no?

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Grapefruit marmalade?!

Well, ye socks, I got to thinking the other day that there had to be something I could do with the bumper crop of grapefruit this year.

The answer, apparently, is going to be some grapefruit marmalade.

I'd never heard of such a thing before, but am willing to give it a shot.

I mean, in this economic climate, a homemade gift like this might just be the key to salvaging the Christmas budget around here . . .

I'll keep you posted on the results of this culinary adventure, and don't be surprised to find a mason jar in your stockings later this month!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Luminaries? Check!

Well, ye socks, no sooner had yours truly hit the door and sat down to pull off ye olde clodhoppers, but there was somebody banging on my front door.

My slight annoyance was dispelled, however, when I opened said door to find two members of the Edgewater High School baseball team on the front stoop delivering a luminary package.

I'd almost forgotten that I'd made a donation to the team, but now I'm fully prepared to join the rest of my new neighbors in lining our sidewalks with candlelight this Saturday.

If any of ye local socks are interested in participating, shoot an email to to arrange delivery.

But, make sure you've completely untied your shoes before you spring off the couch to answer the door!!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Curse of photographic memory

My Tuesday night guilty pleasure is NCIS. There, I've admitted it.

Tonight, though, I found myself actually yelling at the TV screen.

One of the characters got a hold of a passport while collecting evidence at a crime scene, and looked at it briefly.

Later, said passport disappeared and the character in question went thru some pretty humorous brain picking because he couldn't remember the name on the passport or even the country that issued it.


I'm sure my neighbors must've thought I'd lost my mind . . . maybe, I have!

Oh, well, they caught the guy without my help anyway. Imagine that . . .

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Monday, December 08, 2008


My eyes are about to fall out of my head, ye socks!

I guess I've been working them overtime in my latest project.

The goal is to synthesize the 19th century vital records in this little corner of heaven.

The good news is that we're seeing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

The bad news is that I may need a set of synthetic eyes by the time this little project is over!!

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Christmas Sweater

That's the title of Glenn Beck's first attempt at novel writing.

I got it in the mail from the library on Friday as a hold-over until that vampire book arrives . . .

Anyway, I finally got around to taking a look at it today, and it was a quick and easy read.

Of course, that is the very justifiable criticism that has been leveled against this book: It is too predictable and sentimental.

But, I suppose those are a couple of things we look for during the holiday season.

Beck reveals in the end that this tale is based on his own childhood, which added some weight to the parable. But, not much.

Still, if you don't have a good vampire book to sink your teeth into . . . I know, bad pun.

I hope ye socks enjoy the remains of your weekend!


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Piece of cake?

Baking a confetti cake today just seemed appropriate, especially since they were a BOGO at Winn Dixie . . .

Had to do SOMETHING to mark the big Gator victory in the SEC championship up in Atlanta this evening.

In case you missed it, the boys in Orange and Blue put an end to the Tide's heretofore perfect season, and thus apparently have seized a spot in the national championship game next month.

The loss for Bama boils down to three big mistakes:

1. They tried a fake field goal early in the 2nd quarter, which set the Gators up to tie the game.

2. Javier Arenas caught the ensuing kick-off way back on the 4 yard line then stepped out of bounds, giving the Tide terrible field position and helping the Gators to come back with a TD on their next reception.

And, finally,

3. Dont'a Hightower's facemask penalty kept a Gator drive alive that ended up giving them the lead for the rest of the game.

Something tells me the Sooners are going to be an entirely different challenge for Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow, et al. But, I'm keeping the other half of that BOGO waiting in the pantry til kik-off . . .


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Friday, December 05, 2008

And the winner is . . .

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris.

Not the title I would have chosen from Monday's list myself, but that's why I threw the options into the dryer.

(Runner-up was The Shack.)

So, I ordered a copy from this afternoon.

The description there says this is the first of eight books in the Sookie Stackhouse Series, mysteries featuring vampires and a telepathic Louisiana barmaid protagonist.

I don't know. I'll give it a shot, and let you know the verdict when I'm done.

Have a good weekend, ye socks!


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Offbeat opportunity to get some exercise

Ye local socks who haven't done this before should definitely check it out next Friday.

Once again, venerable Greenwood Cemetery in downtown Orlando will be hosting a moonlight tour. So, mark your calendars:

December 12th - 9pm - 1603 Greenwood Street

A couple of suggestions from past personal experience:

1. Wear comfortable walking shoes. The tour is about 2 miles long.

2. Bring a flashlight.

For more info and tips, please feel free to call the sexton's office: 407-325-6269.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Is our high tech world messing with our brains?!

I've been contemplating that question for the last few days, because several incidents have highlighted the different ways different generations communicate.

I guess it's something people have been wondering about for a very long time. Socrates got worried when the masses learned how to read and write that they would lose their traditions of passing folklore and history by word of mouth, and thus only gain superficial knowledge and none of the personal inflection and underlying meaning you can pick up thru direct human interaction. He also worried that the mind would become slack, because it wouldn't have to train itself to memorize things when readers could simply refer back to a text on the shelf . . . or a scroll in his days, I suppose.

Much more recently, my parents' generation were the first to be exposed to the "vast wasteland" of television. People were worried then that too much exposure to the boob-tube would lead to detachment and passivity. Ironically, in my own generation, similar worry warts (like Tipper Gore) worried the same sort of exposure to TV, music, and video games would lead to violence and depravity.

Now, all kinds of folks are worried how digital age technologies like the internet and smart phones are affecting this generation of youngsters. Kids today don't pass notes back in forth in the classroom, as my friend Lisa recently pointed out to me. Instead they text each other. Wierd, huh?

Some serious scholars are looking into this. I found an article by a psychiatrist named Gary Small out at UCLA who theorizes that all this texting, emailing, and IMing is robbing us all (but young people in particular) of social skills. For example, he mentioned some teenagers lack the ability to accurately interpret facial expressions during face-to-face conversations.

Another researcher, Maryanne Wolf at Tufts University, is exploring how being wired affects "deep reading." Like Socrates, she believes technology is affecting knowledge retention as minds grow lax and dependant on easy reference to info thru tools like google and yahoo.

I'm a little more optimistic. From the dawn of time, the way we communicate has evolved and changed the way we think. But, the reverse is also the case. By changing the way our minds process and store information, we come up with newer and greater innovations.

So, don't despair! Vive la revolution!

And, just wait a couple decades. Today's whippersnappers will be just as perplexed by the world their kids create as we are now . . . it's just human nature!

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Hanging on by a thread

We can all breathe a great big sigh of relief this evening as poll results trickle in from Georgia.

It appears that Saxby Chambliss will hold on to his US Senate seat, and thus deny The Disaster in Waiting a fillibuster-proof co-conspirator.

What makes Chambliss's victory even greater is that his liberal opponent actually lost about 4 percent of the vote he got last month, despite stellar appearances by Mr. Hillary and Al Bore. What were they thinking?!

It's not much to be happy about, I'll admit it. But, in 2008, you've got to grasp for whatever straws you can find.

Now, let's just hope that idiot Al Franken is thwarted in his efforts to steal a seat up in Minnesota so we socks can breathe even easier . . .

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Calling all bibliophiles!

What should I read next?!

I just finished Mike Huckabee's new book Do the Right Thing. (An excellent--if bittersweet--rehash of his recent run for the presidency . . . he should've been the GOP nominee, but that's another story . . .)

Anyway, I now find myself bookless and decided to let ye socks choose what I should read next. Let me know either by posting here or by private email or otherwise by Friday.

Here's the list of candidates:

* Cover her Face, by P.D. James (1962) first in a series of British mysteries.
* The Camel Club, by David Baldacci, first in a series of political thrillers.
* Too Fat to Fish, by Artie Lange from the Howard Stern Show.
* American Lion, by Jon Meacham, historical work about Andrew Jackson.
* The Shack, by William P. Young, a self-published Christian novel that became a bestseller.
* The Appeal, by John Grisham, his first lawyer fiction book in years.
* The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, almost deleted this one for getting Oprah's nod.
* The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho (1988), Portuguese story translated into 60+ languages.
* Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris, first in a series of Southern vampire stories.

Let me know what you think!

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