high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose. Now is the time to read this post.

The Easter Bunny doesn't just bring jelly beans
Sitting here at the tea house for the last time updating my blog, because in case you didn't know, today marks the end of the 2011 Lenten Challenge, and the tea house will soon magically transform back into the coffee house.  At the stroke of 5:53pm Eastern Standard Time, the tea house will politely excuse itself from the party it is attending, mount a Segway drawn by 50 magical gerbils, and go on a careening ride through the greater Columbus area before returning to its original location.  The patrons found caught inside the tea-transforming-back-into-a-coffee house during this journey will be given free refills.

I plan to continue drinking tea in many instances when I would have previously had coffee, as tea gives the image of being healthier and has the desirable placebo effect of making you feel healthier, too.  The timing is perfect, because spring is now here, and while most people make their New Year's resolutions at New Year's, I make my New Year's resolutions at Easter.  It makes much more sense to align the resolutions with the change of seasons because the transition from winter to spring is also the time when you do spring cleaning, clean out junk accumulated through the winter, and experience much more of a feeling of rebirth all around.  At New Year's the feeling is more like a hangover.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Read this aloud if you want to waste some time

Now that the government has narrowly avoided shutting down, I feel much more secure sitting here at the coffee/tea house writing this blog entry.  If the government had shut down, surely things would have rapidly descended into mayhem, with various tribes grabbing for power.  There would be some of the standard oldies but goodies (Tories, Whigs), some once-forgottens rising from the ashes (Hatfields, McCoys), and some unexpected groups suddenly turning vigilant and trying to further their views (those who tie a Windsor knot, those who do not).

I shut down the reptile house first because I wanted to start
small.  Next time I'll try the government.
Of course, it seems that a government shut-down basically just means that some folks don't get paid, and mostly we're talking about the people least deserving of that outcome.  As last Friday's deadline drew nearer, the media picked up the pace with reporting and did their darndest to strike fear into the heart......er......prepare their readers and viewers for what might happen in the event of a shutdown.  One of my preferred news outlets is the BBC, partly because I like the more "underground" networks that aren't part of the mainstream, but mostly because of the BBC's excellent coverage of the Bronx Zoo cobra.  The BBC is a good news outlet because they do a great job of anticipating the questions of their readers.  For example, when posting a story about the potential government shutdown, the BBC was kind enough to also post an article titled What Does Government Shutdown Mean?  This is extremely appropriate and helpful, right?  After reading a headline that says "Government about to shut down," most people will naturally think "Hmm, what happens then?"  The BBC understands this, so instead of burying the facts about a shutdown in the main article, they provide a convenient link to a separate page.  There they lay out the basic details that everyone wants to know, like how disease monitoring and toxic waste cleanup is temporarily put on hold during a shutdown.  Everyone loves an FAQ sheet, because it serves two great purposes: First, it answers frequently asked questions.  Second, it makes people feel secure and/or smart because they can verify that all the questions in their mind are not dumb questions.  Along those lines, I've decided to demonstrate excellent service to you the reader here by providing some FAQ's about a government shutdown...

Q: What happens when the government shuts down?
A: Some services are suspended, some people don't get paid, and you may not be able to visit national sites of interest, although that last part may just be a ploy by Nic Cage to get his hands on some treasure.

Some politicians just turn to more easily obtained
street drugs, which are actually less harmful than
Q: What do all the politicians do during a government shutdown?
A: Nothing changes related to the politicians.  It's business as usual for them.  Finger-pointing, speeches, suits - all that continues uninterrupted.  However, some government workers are literally not allowed to work, which includes not using their Blackberries.  Faced with this situation, many government workers are compelled to score 15-20 seconds of Blackberry usage on the street, at around $40 a pop.  The street name for this activity is "Berry Buzzing," or sometimes just "Berrying."  You may also hear it referred to as "Raspberrying."

Q: How does the government get itself out of a shutdown?
A: This isn't entirely clear, but what we do know is that some more speeches are made, some papers are pushed around, and at some point Donald Trump and/or Ted Turner probably get involved.

Q: Is it true that governments shut down because of too much filibustering?
A: Yes and no.  To answer this question you have to first understand what it means to filibuster.

Q: What does it mean to filibuster?
A: The filibuster, originally named after Phillip Buster, a politician from the 1800's, is a tool or trick used by savvy politicians to stall government proceedings.  In this sense, filibustering can lead to government shutdowns because they simply waste time.  In an effort to stop a bill from passing, a politician will take the podium and begin speaking.  Depending on the stamina of the politician, the speaking can last for days, or even weeks, and as long as a politician has the floor they can't be told to step down.  As a result, a filibuster can bring the wheels of progress to a grinding halt.  

The record length for a filibuster is 3 weeks and 4 days, set in 1968 by Lawrence Augustus Xavier, a Senator from California who liked spending time at home rather than in Washington, but who was in such high demand for his filibustering skills that he was practically on-call for the party and basically ended up living at the airport, constantly waiting for the next flight out.  

The reason that a filibuster may not lead to a government shutdown is because not all politicians are as skilled as our friend Lawrence, and when a filibuster backfires it can actually speed up the pace of government.  The prime example of this phenomenon comes from 1937, when Representative Kilgore Ferdinand Crumb of Kentucky tried to employ the oft-used trick of simply reading from the phone book at the podium.  As Crumb read through the phone book he happened to come across the name of an old girlfriend, and stunned by the coincidence decided to call her on the spot from his cell phone (this was still technically part of the filibuster).  The old girlfriend agreed to a date, but being a registered member of the opposing political party demanded that Crumb meet her for the date right then.  Moved with emotion, Crumb agreed, thus ending the filibuster and providing the necessary opportunity for the debated bill to pass.

Q: You said that the filibuster was named after Phillip Buster, so why doesn't the word "filibuster" begin with a "ph"?
A: For the same reason that a lower-case "s" looks like an "f" in olde timey writing.  

Q: You also said that a politician called an old girlfriend from his cell phone in 1937.  I think you're making up some of your facts.
A: That is not a question, but admittedly, we're a bit off track.  Let's get back to the government shutdown...

Q: Will a government shutdown mean that this blog shuts down too?
A: No.  Fortunately, this blog does not rely on government funding to operate.  All revenue for the blog is obtained through the hard work of my Grassroots Fundraising Department.  One of my staffers from the GFD will have to answer specific questions about how funds are raised, as I don't like to micro-manage, and therefore don't know about everything they do.  I think it might involve selling Blackberry hits on the street though.

Q: Why are taxes still coming out of my paycheck if the government is shut down?
A: Remember how FAQ sheets are supposed to verify that you aren't thinking of dumb questions?  Well, this is actually a dumb question.

Q: Is there anything I can do to help the situation when the government shuts down?
A: Yes, there is always a role for you, the individual concerned citizen.  First, you can remain calm.  But not too calm, because really, occasionally getting hysterical is what life is all about.  Second, go get yourself something nice.  When things shut down, you have to live in the moment a bit and say to yourself "Well, if nobody is working, then I may as well kick back for awhile."  Go shopping, go out to dinner, whatever floats your boat.  Spending money makes you feel good, and will take your mind off the impending doo.....er.....makes you feel good.  Third - and this is the really important activity - you can share the information you've read here with your family and friends to help ensure that the maximum number of people are educated about the issues.  Seriously, go ahead and spread it around.  I need the readers.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Maximize your time by reading this, and do some isometrics while you're at it

The day dawned sunny and bright today, and a peek outside told me that although there was a slight chill in the air, it wasn't such a chill that a coat was needed for purposes of traversing the distance to work.  On multiple occasions now it has been warm enough outside that the walk to work has gone without exterior weather protection.  This is always a welcome change each year, as it means not only that the walk to work won't be freezing cold, but also that I'll have those few extra seconds previously reserved for bundling up to use for other purposes, such as letting a little extra warm shower water run over me, or ambling around scratching myself.

Of course, the warmer weather doesn't mean it's all luxury.  No, the warmer weather brings with it an annual decision about whether or not I want to engage in an important and potentially life-changing activity (yes, annually life-changing).  That activity is exercising my grip.