Sunday, April 30, 2006

How Stupid Can We Get?

I am entirely disgusted with the illegal immigration "debate" that is going on in this country. This is another scheme in an seemingly endless train of legislative initiatives designed to increase corporate profits, at the expense of the American people. Non-enforcement of immigration laws or creating a guest worker program is nothing more than an attempt to depress wages and further the policy of wage stagnation in order to reduce the production costs of campaign contributors. While Bush and other proponents may cite humanitarian reasons for allowing guest workers, this utterly ridiculous. Our "humanitarian" government allows AIDS to run rampant in Africa and catastrophes like Darfur to continue, primarily because their is no profit to be made in the rectification of these situations.

Bush also claims that the illegal immigrants are doing the jobs "that no American will do." The fact that any portion of our population has swallowed this falsehood floors me. The only reason that Americans won't do these jobs is because they pay minimum wage, which is not a living wage for a taxpaying citizen. For example, one of the worst jobs in existence is working in a sewage treatment facility. Yet, these jobs are highly sought after by Americans because they pay very well. If you doubt me, go apply to your local sewage department and tell me when your start date is.

Don't bother writing me angry e-mails, particularly if you from Baltimore. Here, the effects of illegal immigration have been restricted to occupations like day labor and landscaping. On the other hand, I can tick off numerous Midwestern manufacturers that have replaced their workforce almost entirely with illegal immigrants. These companies insulate themselves from liability by using shell temp services to provide the illegals. If INS makes a raid, the temp service takes the penalty, dissolves itself, and reopens under a different name the next week. I have no problem with improving the lot of immigrants, but not at the expense of American citizens.

Additionally, I don't want to hear about how immigrants keep the costs of manufactured goods low. This is the same line of crap we were fed when they foisted NAFTA on us. Tell me, which goods got cheaper? Aside, from computers, where the low barriers to entry have allowed competition, I can't think of much. Did the price of chicken drop significantly when poultry industry embraced illegal immigrants? Many tier two and tier three automotive parts manufacturers use illegal immigrants. Has the price of an automobile fallen off the table? I lived in Louisville and watched the construction trades get decimated by illegal immigrants, yet new housing prices continued to spiral upwards. In other words, any cost savings created by cheap, illegal labor is not likely to be passed on to the consumer, unless competition forces it to be. This isn't likely in our current political environment.

Tomorrow, various immigrants groups have organized a boycott of buying goods and services in an attempt to use their buying power to promote the relaxation of immigration laws. It may well further their cause and it will probably garner sympathy from the American public. However, if they were protesting to get their average wage raised to $12/hour or for medical benefits, I can assure you INS would initiate mass deportations on a scale that has never been seen before in this country.

I have to say that I am in awe of how complacent we have become. It's not like you need a PhD in political science to fathom issues like Iraq, Social Security Reform, Bankruptcy Reform, NAFTA, or Illegal Immigration. It's real simple. All you need to ask is, "Who profits from this?" Unless you make your living by investing in the stock market, it isn't you.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Adventures in ADD

As I've mentioned before, I suspect that I have ADD. I have never been officially diagnosed, but the last time I looked at the DSM-IV, I had just about every symptom. I am not convinced this is a disease, but I have noticed that it does cause me to do things differently than other people. When I watch TV, I don't watch a particular show, I watch all of them. If someone is with me, I'll surrender the remote control so they don't lose their mind. When I use a PC, I'll have 5-10 windows open and the Alt-TAB combination is my preferred keystroke combination. In general, I don't think it causes me any hardship and I am doubt I will ever seek medical treatment for it. However, sometimes it causes me to do fairly idiotic things.

Wednesday night, I came home from work and turned the kitchen light and nothing happened. It is a two-tubed fluorescent light that is mounted on the ceiling. I figured it was probably a bad bulb, but when I went to Lowe's, I also bought a replacement ballast, just in case. I got home and replaced the bulbs. I flipped the switch with no results. I fiddled with bulbs and repeated the process several times, but the new bulbs wouldn't light.

This meant that the ballast was probably bad. I retrieved the new ballast from the shopping bag and observed this warning printed on the side of the box: DANGER - DISCONNECT POWER TO BALLAST AND FIXTURE BEFORE INSTALLING. I thought to myself, "No shit, sherlock. If you don't know that in the first place, you shouldn't be screwing with it." What they really mean is that you should throw the circuit breaker before disconnecting the ballast's wiring. Being a jackass, I sneered at this and thought, "That's silly. That's what the switch on the wall is for. After all, electricity is my bitch." Yeah, right.

Actually, my reasoning would have been sound for a person without ADD, because they would have undoubtedly paid attention to what position they left the wall switch in. I, on the other hand, did not. I climbed the ladder and undid the wire nuts for the power to the light. I noticed that the exposed portion of the hot wire was corroded. So, I stripped the wire back and then touched it with my hand. My other hand was on the grounded metal of the fixture and that's all that was required to complete the circuit. If you are scoring at home, here is a schematic of the circuit:

Luckily, I was able to get off the hot wire. This was accomplished easily by falling off the ladder. Or, maybe I should say by falling through the ladder, because I ended up straddling the second highest rung with each leg. If you've ever ridden a boy's bike and fallen on the crossbeam then you get the idea. Regardless, unless you dream of a career with the Vienna Boy's Choir, I can't recommend it.

I did manage to get the light fixed and it turned out to be only the corroded wire. One day, I'm sure that I, too, can look back at this and laugh. Probably after the swelling in my crotch subsides.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Random Crap #4

I've got nada.

1. Auschwitz Diet: Week 3

Initial WeightFinal Weight


Week 1185 lbs177 lbs-8 lbs
Week 2177 lbs174 lbs-3 lbs
Week 3174 lbs171 lbs-3 lbs

-14 lbs

On Saturday, I realized that I couldn't stomach another Subway sub. Additionally, I had doubts all along about the how accurate Subway's calorie count was. Instead, I've switched to two bottles of Ensure High Protein (240 calories/bottle) per day. Additionally, I also eat one bowl of plain salad daily, which I estimate to contain 50 calories.

I still feel good and since I am within 1 lb of the target of 170 lbs, I am considering to moving the target to 165 lbs. Since "Pat Robertson" is still evident, I think it will be OK. An office fitness "expert" has warned me that one of the dangers of a primarily liquid diet is that nutrients don't get absorbed by the digestive system as efficiently as with "traditional foods." I am not a nutritionist, but I can't see why this would be true. Regardless, if I suspect this is occuring, I can always put a bottle of Ensure in both ends and do cartwheels.

2. E-Mail Question
One of you has noticed that I have a link to a professed communist in my blogroll (two, actually). This lead to the question of whether I am a communist. The answer is no. I am not that optimistic. For communism to truly succeed, individuals must forego their own self-interest for that of their polity. When has that ever happened?

On the other hand, capitalism is based on the pursuit of self interest, which, in my opinion, is far better suited to self-serving tendencies of humans. I believe that is the role of government to keep the forces of capitalism in check. When the government fails to this, corporate greed will escalate into practices that promote unsustainability. I believe that we are in initial phase of this process and I am fairly certain that its irreversible.

I link to the blog in question because I read it frequently. He (and she) are excellent writers and his posts are meticulously researched. Besides, I link to Common Wombat's blog, but that doesn't make me a proctologist.

3. Referrals
The best part of Sitemeter is the referrals page. I like some of the Google searches that lead people to my blog.

- "shallow women" - This is, by far, the most popular search that doesn't have the word Assclownopolis in it. I'll get about 5 hits per day for this post.

- "u-pull it" - I get several hits a week for this term, primarily from midwesterners.

- "baltimore bukkake preparation H" - I can't imagine what this person was looking for, but it is troubling that they are local.

- "UDC 3000 honeywell" - These people are searching for an operating manual for a Honeywell controller. I'll bet they are disappointed.

- "" - I'll get several hits a week for this term, always from people in the UK.

- "tfg is an asshole" or "tfg is a wanker" - This is what the internet is all about.

- "dongality" - I made this word up. Why would anybody be searching for it?

Monday, April 24, 2006

More Thoughts From About Romance

If you have read any of this blog, I think we can agree that my New Year's resolution to become more sensitive has not yet reached its full potential. Additionally, it has recently come to my attention that my skills in matters romantic may be lacking. Since I am a firm believer that one should address their deficiencies head on, I decide to take action. I figured the best way to learn the ways of romance is to read about it. Thus, I invested in several Harlequin romance novels. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed, as I found the novels to be somewhat unrealistic. In fact, I decided that was definitely room for improvement in the Harlequin offerings. As you will see, I may not be as far behind on the learning curve as I thought.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I Love It When We Screw Ourselves

Let's say that you wanted to do a little something different this Christmas and give the gift of hydrocarbon. What you would do is contact your broker and buy one NYMEX Division light, sweet crude oil futures contract. Once the contract expired, you would arrange for delivery of your 1000 barrels of crude oil.

If you actually took delivery of the crude oil, you would be in the minority. Less than 1% of futures contracts are actually exercised. The remainder are simply offset by doing the inverse prior to expiration. For example, if you sell a future, it can be nulled by buying the same issue. Thus, supply and demand of the underlying commodity is only one aspect of the crude oil price. Crude oil prices are also dramatically affected by speculators who trade in the commodity futures. When more of these investors choose to buy oil futures than sell, the price increases independently of the actual crude oil supply. NYMEX crude oil futures closed at a record $75.12/barrel on Friday. An article by the AFP cites Qatar's oil minister, Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiya:

Ghanem echoed similar comments made by Qatar's oil minister who blamed the record high oil prices of more than 75 dollars a barrel on "horrible" speculation and "geopolitics" than any objective shortage of supplies. "This frenzy is fabricated by speculators who are taking advantage of it in the most horrible way," Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiya told reporters Saturday.

This opinion is also reflected by Adnan Shihab-Eldin, an OPEC official:

"This price rise occurred despite the fact that the market continues to be well-supplied," OPEC official Adnan Shihab-Eldin told a meeting of the International Monetary Fund's policy committee on behalf of the oil cartel."

Even the US Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman agrees that the markets are amply supplied and has stated that he won't request that OPEC increase capacity.

So who are these investors who are buying crude futures at a frenzied pace and consequently driving the price to new records? This article from Reuters makes it pretty clear:

U.S. oil has rallied about 23 percent this year on supply concerns and as investment funds seeking high returns among diverse assets poured billions of dollars into commodities. Funds stepped in again on Friday."It's turned around, and it seems to be related to the injection of capital that we believe is coming from pension and mutual funds," said Deborah White of SG CIB Commodities. "All week it has been like this, a cross-commodities rally."

Deborah White doesn't come out and say the phrase 401K plans, but I will. For example, here is an article from that touts the benefits of the Fidelity Strategic Real Return Fund. Of course, in the fund description they use vague terms like "commodity-linked notes" to describe their allocation strategy, but the prospectus (see section titled: Commodity Linked Notes and Related Investments) clearly states that commodity futures are fair game. You can find similar energy-sector mutual funds offered by most of the major mutual fund companies.

As the explosion in the stock market and in mutual funds of the last decade has been driven by 401K money (as opposed to some mythical economic orgy of growth), this brings us to an interesting conclusion: A significant portion of the money flowing into NYMEX and driving the price of oil futures sky high is ours. These high crude prices are used by oil companies to justify ratcheting the price of gasoline up and, which, consequently, earns them record profits. Personally, I've always felt that the 401k model of retirement planning was one of the greatest scams, by Wall Street, to ever to be foisted onto the American public. I've felt that their lack of accountability to investors makes them prime targets for manipulative practices. But even while wearing my finest tin-foil fedora, I never considered that our retirement funds could be used as a grape press to exact even more profit for the corporatacracy. Maybe I'll start believing in the "liberal media" when I read a story titled: "Your 401k May Be Why You're Paying So Much At the Pump."

Quick Romantic Question: Updated for Cham

Does having sex (with an adult, you perverts) on Winnie the Pooh sheets make me a deviant? I'm just wondering.

Updated: 4/22/06
Per Cham's request (see comments), I have posted the picture that she requested.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Auschwitz Diet: Week 2

As I mentioned last week, I am doing an experiment where I try to limit my daily caloric intake to 500-600. This value is in the range that is estimated to have been provided to Holocaust victims by their Nazi captors. Per the load scale on our docks at work, Wednesday's weight was 174. The results, to date, are as follows:

Initial WeightFinal Weight


Week 1185 lbs177 lbs-8 lbs
Week 2177 lbs174 lbs-3 lbs

-11 lbs

The difference in weight loss between weeks is significantly different and can be attributed to several factors. I went on vacation from 4-20 to 4-23 and dietary naughtiness occurred. While on vacation, I did restrict myself to one meal per day but I wasn't able to determine the caloric value of the meals, since I didn't eat at Subway. This was due to the fact that the people I was with wisely declined participating in my experiement. I also believe that water weight is becoming an issue. For several years, I have consumed between 4-6 24oz bottles of water daily. Although I drink as much water as ever, I have noticed that I don't part with it as often.

I also expect that my body has become more efficient at absorbing and using calories, which partially explains why starvation diets frequently fail as a weight loss method. When I was shoveling in 3000+ calories/day, it made little difference if 500 calories went through the digestive process unused. Now, I expect that every morsel of organic material that enters my system is entirely stripped of its nutritional and caloric content.

Several people have said that I'm killing myself. I don't buy it. I feel better than I have in the last 5 years. Before I tried this, it was very common for me to be completely exhausted at the end of a workday. I would have trouble thinking clearly and would often want to sleep as soon as I got home. Now, I have markedly more energy and can get by on much less sleep. I know that my current caloric intake isn't sustainable but I'm not convinced that 2000 calories is necessary either. Regardless, as I'm not at 170lbs yet, I will continue for another week.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Office Professionalism

With all of the focus in the contemporary workplace on productivity and efficiency, it is easy to overlook the significance of professionalism in business communications. Not only is this true of discourse, but also with respect to modern mediums such as e-mail. It is important to remember that the opinions of your peers and superiors are formed, in part, on the basis of these exchanges. Consequently, I have included some example corporate communications that I have participated in.

One particularly troublesome aspect of e-mail is the fact that participants can draw the conversation off-topic. This significantly compromises the efficiency of the communication and muddles matters for everyone involved. In the following e-mail exchange, notice how I keep the participants focused:

From: TFG
Sent: Monday, April 17, 2006 2:15 PM
To: Purchasing Manager
Subject: Employee Purchase

Purchasing Manager,

Can I buy (1) of 08-1955 at $145.82/ea?


From: Purchasing Manager
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 8:48 AM
Cc: Inventory Manager; Accountant
Subject: RE: Employee Purchase


Yes you can. Pay Accountant and then go see Inventory Manager.

From: Accountant
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 8:53 AM
To: Purchasing Manager; TFG
Subject: RE: Employee Purchase

Is TFG running a side business? Should we charge him additional for our time? Maybe TFG should buy us something pretty.

From: TFG
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 8:58 AM
To: Accountant; Purchasing Manager
Subject: RE: Employee Purchase

What does my work down at the Hippo have to do with this?

From: Accountant
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 9:09 AM
Subject: RE: Employee Purchase

Of course you’re familiar with the Hippo.

From: TFG
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 9:21 AM
To: Accountant
Subject: RE: Employee Purchase

I'm not certain that providing value-added services to Hippo clientele constitutes "familiarity," nor does the plaque that's engraved with my name in their restroom.

Another common trap occurs when you are communicating with difficult coworkers. Although it may seem tempting to sink to their level of unprofessionalism, it is important to remain respectful and amenable towards them at all times. As the business guru Peter North once said, "Nobody wins an argument." The next e-mail demonstrates the practical application of this concept:

From: TFG
Sent: Tuesday, March 1, 2006 11:05 AM
To: Phone Manager
Subject: Phone Logs

Phone Manager,
Have you set up the outgoing call log on the new phone system? If so, can you tell me if I called (XXX)-XXX-XXXX from extension XXXX on 2/23?


From: Phone Manager
Sent: Tuesday, March 1, 2006 11:09 AM
Subject: RE: Phone Logs

Why do you need to know that?

From: TFG
Sent: Tuesday, March 1, 2006 11:15 AM
To: Phone Manager
Subject: RE: Phone Logs

As you know, the company's sales were off during the previous month. I want to ensure that I'm getting the most from their phone sex dollar. I'm just trying to do my part.


It is also important to remain aloof of off-color or politically incorrect conversations. Topics such as politics, religon, and sexual preference should usually be avoided. The last thing that you want to do is offend an associate's moral values, so it's best to politely recuse yourself from these topics:

TFG: Did you order that kit yet?
Coworker: No, I couldn't find it.
TFG: How come? I sent you the link to their website.
Coworker: I couldn't find where to place an order.
TFG:Yeah, a lot of gay guys have trouble with that.
Coworker: Real funny.
TFG: Sorry. Go to the webpage and open the sitemap. Click on products.
Coworker: (clicking) OK, here is the kit. I still don't see how to place the order.
TFG: Yeah, it's that gay guy thing again.
Coworker: Jerk. I don't know why you people think that's so funny. I'm not gay.
TFG: You're right, it's not funny. I'm sorry. It won't happen again. Click on the online tab and you can order the parts.
Coworker: I see. I guess I'll have to create an account first.
TFG: Maybe or you might be able to make the order with only a credit card.
Coworker: OK, I'll do it after lunch. I'm going to Panera. Do you want to go?
TFG: Well, I'd like to, but I can't. I'm afraid that if people see me with you, they might think that I'm gay, too.
Coworker: Asshole.

Additionally, you need to remember to excercise good phone manners while working. Regardless of how busy you get, you need to project a professional and cheery attitude towards callers:

TFG: (picking up phone) WBDB. You're on the air.
Caller: Haha. What would you have done if I was a customer?
TFG: Nothing. I wouldn't have picked it up. That's the beauty of caller ID.
Caller: Good point. Did you look at the drawing I sent you?
TFG: No.
Caller: Why not? You said you'd look at it as soon as you got it.
TFG: I say a lot of things. I've been telling you for months that I'm the inventor of electricity. Why did you pick today to start believing me?
Caller: Well, could you look at it now?
TFG: OK, I'm opening it. Wow, it's uglier than a hatful of assholes. Is there anything else that you needed?
Caller: (laughing) I wonder why I bother calling you.
TFG: Well, then it's unanimous.

I hope that you have found these examples instructive. By following these simple examples, I have every confidence that your coworkers and superiors will be impressed with your professionalism. Consequently, you may find yourself promoted to a position of responsibility, like myself. I can assure you that I would have never made Deputy Assistant Toilet Hygienist without these valuable lessons.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Now, Here is a Bad Way To Get Comments

This is the blog of Kevin Underwood. He is the infamous suspect in the Oklahoma slaying of a 10 year old girl. He went nearly 2 years with no comments and now he's got over 500. It's guys like this that make it hard to remain a opponent of capital punishment.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sack of Hammers

I've been in the Midwest for the last 3 days for Easter vacation. On Friday, I was helping a friend of mine replace the thermostats in a small apartment complex that he owns. These apartments aren't slums, but they aren't luxury apartments, either. The tenant was home in one apartment and preceded to tell me all about her new furniture. I agreed that it was nice and went about my business. As I left, I spotted this:

It's an access hatch to the attic, which is accessible from a public area. To make entry to the attic, all one needs is a ladder. The tenant saw me looking at it and we had the following conversation.

Me: I'm going to tell XXX (the landlord) to put a padlock on that hatch.
Tenant: Why?
Me: Because anybody can get up there. Once they're in the attic, they can knock a hole in your ceiling and get in. It's only sheetrock. You wouldn't want anyone stealing your new stuff, right?
Tenant: (matter of factly): Don't be silly. No thief is going to be able to get my stuff out through a hole in the ceiling.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's Not Just for Hats Anymore

As I you may have read, I have eschewed the use of tin foil hats. Since I've adopted this policy, I have to say that I feel quite liberated. For one, it has reduced the difficulty of getting through airport security, although those narrow minded TSA twats still hassle me about my "I heart C4" t-shirt. Also, I've found that the Government Mind Control Rays, previously excluded by the foil, are rather calming and, quite honestly, cause a warm, pleasant tingling sensation in my dangly bits. This has entirely eliminated the need to obtain these sensations by shunting the safety devices on my microwave oven, which, with the impending 72% rate hike, constitutes a win-win scenario.

Of course, there is a downside to my new policy. One problem is that the women I meet on my It's Just Lunch with the Retarded dates don't find me nearly as attractive. However, the most significant difficulty has been trying to figure out what to do with all of the extra tin foil. Fortunately, this is where the years that I've spent worshipping Martha Stewart have paid off.

When I was a kid, I would often read comic books in which there would always be ads for Sea Monkeys and x-ray glasses. I always wanted to order a pair of the X-Ray glasses, but my parents wouldn't hear of it. Thus, I decided to fulfill my childhood dream and make my own. I think that they will be particularly useful for dating, to prevent more of those embarassing "So that's what 'hiding the candy' means" mix-ups.

In this age of deadly, sexually transmitted diseases, you can never be to safe with a new partner. Unfortuantely, the costs of prophylactics can be prohibitively expensive. Thus, I have come up with an economical and dishwasher-safe solution.

Another way to use excess foil is to make your own pet accessories. Look how fashionable my dog looks in her new sweater.

With summer approaching quickly, I've been shopping for some new beach apparel. Unfortunately, I've been having trouble finding something that's just my style. You know, something that expresses the essence of who I am. Luckily, tin foil solved this problem handily.

(You're welcome, in advance for the fact that I left the jeans on.) I think I've hit upon some real winners here. I'm certain that it's just a matter of time before someone is going to want to patent one of these ideas. I only wish that I'd discovered the magic of tin foil sooner. Then maybe there would be less illegitimate retarded children out there from when I was in my Saran Wrap phase.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Auschwitz Diet

Last Wednesday, I was forced to work well beyond lunch time. When we were done, I said to a coworker, "I need to get some food or I'll starve to death." Coincidentally, I was reading a book about the Holocaust titled: Auschwitz: A New History . The book cites starvation as one of the many atrocities that the SS subjected the Jews to. The average working prisoner could expect to live 3 months on the sustenance provided by the Nazis. This caused me to contemplate my statement and conclude that I had no inkling what I was talking about. I wasn't starving nor have I ever been. In fact, upon further reflection, I realized that I don't think I've ever met anyone who has suffered starvation.

A survey of the internet yielded various estimates of the caloric content of the rations provided at Auschwitz. The estimates ranged from 400-1300 calories/day. I believe that this large variation is accurate and reflects the inability of the German supply chain to maintain constant efficiency as a result of waning Nazi fortunes. Regardless, since last Wednesday I have attempted to limit my caloric intake to a daily value of 500-600. I have never attempted dieting or making any attempt at monitoring any of the nutritional aspects of my diet, so it's difficult to estimate what my average daily caloric intake had been. The USDA recommends a daily caloric intake of 2000 and I have reason to believe that I was consuming more than that.

Today will be the 7th consecutive day of this exercise. To date, I have been able to keep my calorie intake between 500 and 600. This has been accomplished by eating a single Subway 6" Italian BMT per day which provides approximately 450 calories. An additional 100 calories have come from consuming either coffee or sports drinks. Consequently, by USDA recommendations I should have consumed 14000 calories in the last week. By my calculations, I have consumed about 4000, leading to a deficiency of 10000 calories.

I can assure you that this exercise is not the result of mental instability or even an attempt at losing weight. I simply want to know what the effects of a significant caloric deficiency will be on my physical and mental well being. Here is what I've noticed:

1. The first two days were the worst and they really weren't insufferable. Initially, I was noticeably hungry, but after 7 days this sensation is noticeably less marked. I also had difficulty concentrating during the first two days, but this problem has also disappeared.

2. I have more energy now than I have in years. Previously, I was constantly tired, particularly in the afternoons. This makes me wonder about some of the additives in the foods that I was eating.

3. I can't describe how good a Subway BMT tastes. This is suprising because prior to last Wednesday, I thought that Subway sucked. I only selected Subway because they are everywhere and had a menu item that was close to 500 calories.

4. Per the cargo scale on my employer's loading dock, I weighed 185 lbs last Wednesday. Yesterday, I weighed 177 lb. My ideal weight is somewhere between 160 and 170 lbs.

5. Muscle cramps started on the third day. I attributed this to an electrolyte imbalance and compensated with sports drinks. I haven't had any cramps since.

6. My mental outlook has actually improved. When I started, I assumed that I would become difficult to deal with after the first few days. This hasn't happened, although I am still not eager to deal with idiots.

Although I might be simulating the caloric intake of Auschwitz victims, I don't pretend that what I'm doing is comparable. For one, I may be starving myself from an energy standpoint, but I am not malnourished due to vitamin and mineral supplements that I take daily. Additionally, my work is fairly sedentary. I sit in front of a computer most of the time. In comparison, Auschwitz inmates were forced to perform physical labor for 11 hours per day. Moreover, I am not prone to the unimaginable mental stress associated with knowing that every physical exertation is a step closer to death. I know that, at anytime, I can open my refrigerator and consume thousands of calories.

In closing, I am well aware that this is not very healthy and have no intention of letting my weight drop below 170 lb. At the current rate, this will occur early next week. Aside from ramping up to 2000 calories/day, I'm not sure what I will do at that point, but I'd wager that it's going to involve an enormous cheesesteak.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I'm Turning In My Tinfoil Hat

I have seen the light. I have had an epiphany that has helped me get my mind right, as they say. No longer will I subscribe to loony conspiracy theories in political and economic matters. I must say that I came to my senses in the nick of time, because some of the things that I was coming up with were just downright wacky.

For instance, I used to think think bizarre things like: "A corporation's sole purpose for existence is to maximize profit. If it is efficiently managed, it will use every avenue of opportunity to do so." Pretty crazy, no? It gets worse. I have even said insane things such as, "The money that corporations and their associated PACs give to political campaigns equates to legalized bribery. These contributions cause politicians to forego their constituent's best interest for the best interests of the contributors." Daft, indeed.

In order to warn those of you who may have thought similar things, I have provided some of the kooky ideas that I have hatched, so that you may guard yourself from such foolishness.

1. I used to think that the War in Iraq had nothing to do with fighting terrorism, WMD, or bringing democracy to the region. Instead, I had this silly notion that an organization known as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) which has openly called for American military domination of Iraq as early as 1998, was influencing the Bush administration's policies. I even cited "evidence" like the fact that many of the administration's ranking members (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) had both key positions in the PNAC and close ties to the petroleum and defense industries. This led to the formulation of the nutty conclusion that the War in Iraq was designed to generate massive profits for military defense contractors and provide access to Iraqi crude to the oil conglomerates. How confused I was. Sure, Halliburton booked a 218% (pg. 31) increase in operating income last year, with tactics like no-bid contracts, but nobody said that democracy comes cheaply. Now that I'm enlightened, I realize that victory in Iraq is only a matter of time. Wow! That last sentence just demonstrates how dangerous this dangerous this conspiracy thinking really is. Allow me to correct myself: Now that I'm enlightened, I realize that victory in Iraq has been achieved and our mission accomplished.

2. Another ludicrous conspiracy theory that I'm almost ashamed to admit thinking is that Bankruptcy Reform was a brazen effort by the banking and credit industry to protect itself from the effects of current trade policies. To explain the fact that American consumer debt is at all time high, I would say insane things like, "Outsourcing and immigration are holding wages stagnant, while prices are consistently rising. Credit is bridging this gap." Of course, I would point to left-wing propaganda , regarding the record campaign contributions of credit companies immediately prior to the passage of the law, to convince myself that I was correct. I can see now, that I was only fooling myself. I'm sure that the real purpose of those contributions was to promote our great electoral process.

3. I had, yet, another one of these batty "evil corporations buying legislation to increase profits" conspiracy theories about Bush's Social Security Reform initiative. Now, it's no secret that Wall Street stands to benefit from privatized retirement accounts. So, when I took the top ten contributor's to Bush's 2004 presidential campaign and subtracted the credit companies buying Bankruptcy Reform, all but one were Wall Street brokerages. In my twisted thinking, I said, "Aha! Here is the real reason Bush is pushing for this. Wall Street wants to recreate the 401K-driven stock market bubble of the '90s." What a screwy conclusion that was. It is apparent to me now, that Wall Street has nothing but the best interests of Joe Lunchbucket and his heirs in mind when it encourages our government to enact such legislation. The possibility of a stock market crash is just more that nutty conspiracy garbage.

4. This blog is prima facie evidence that conspiracy thinking can even lead to paranoia. As you might have seen, I posted an absurdly unfair tirade about Constellation Energy and deregulation in Maryland. Before I published that post, I sanitized and even deleted previous blog entries, with the paranoid expectation that the post would generate unwanted traffic. What a wacky delusion that was!

I'm sure that Constellation Energy hired the nice folks at Cyveillance to google the terms "mayo shattuck" and "constellation energy" to get a handle on minimizing the adversity that their impending 72% rate hike is going to cause. Sure, I could listen to other nutjobs (1,2,3) internet who say that Cyveillance has little to do with web security and everything to do with identifying unfavorable content about its clients. Sure, I could point out that if Constellation is so strapped under price caps, how can the afford to pay Cyveillance for this service? That would just be more crazy conspiracy talk.

In conclusion, I am a changed man. I know, now, that our beloved democracy hasn't been breached by corporate profiteers. With all the progress that our country is making, I'm certain that a system will in place, within the next 20 years, to identify and assist other wrong-thinkers, just like I used to be. As the title states, I am, indeed, turning in my tin foil hat. Had I not have come to my senses, I would make some remark like, "I'm hoping to exchange my tinfoil hat for a stainless steel pie pan that can be affixed to the rear of my pants to prevent breaching of another sort." Those days are over. In fact, I'm off to celebrate Iraqi Liberation Day.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Resume Pointers

Spring is traditionally a time for change. Consequently, I have noticed that many bloggers are contemplating career/job changes. A critical step in this process is the construction of an effective resume. There is an abundance of books available to assist you with your resume, but I have taken the liberty of assembling some pointers that I've found helpful.

1. Maintain a professional tone with your resume. You are communicating with seasoned professionals, so act accordingly. For example, you wouldn't want to use the phrase, "I gave my boss lap dances during reviews to get promoted." Instead, try using, "I employed effective team-building skills and advanced expository techniques to strengthen employee-management relationships."

2. Make things up. Although we live in an age of instant information, we also live in an age of unmatched laziness. So long as you don't make completely outrageous claims, little white lies will probably fly under the radar. Personally, I have been telling employers that I invented the internet. To my knowledge, not one of my employers has done their homework and discovered that the real inventor was Al Gore.

3. Show your ability to think outside the box. You can succinctly accentuate your creative side by using haiku on your resume. Feel free to using the following:

The bathroom is full
So I must seek my relief
In my boss's credenza

Damn this lame server
the data comes so slowly

I have included my resume, as an example. Feel free to use it as a guide:

101 Main Street
Anywhere, MD 21212

Objective: To obtain a challenging position in a forward-looking organization that promotes pantslessness.

May 1998, Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC.
BS Organ Performance (GPA 1.17).

May 2000,
Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC.
MA Philosophy (GPA 4.0), Master's Thesis: The Meaning of Life is in My Trousers

Work Experience:
November 2004 to Present, Self-Employed, Baltimore, MD
Authored popular titles such as Jean Luc Dildeaux: French Impressionist, Thorazine: The Secret to Successful Parenting and Flatulence Ignition for the Whole Family.

January 2003 to November 2004, Department of State, Baltimore, MD
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Anonymous Coworker's Balls
Successfully negotiated the Bipartite Mutual Defense Alliance between ACW's Balls and Eebmore's Ham and Cheese Nose against the specter of evil that is known as Common Wombat's Ass.

June 2001 to January 2003, TFG Engineering, Broken Wind, NE
Staff Engineer
Duties included routine engineering tasks, such as the invention of the number 7. This invention was found to be useful in base-10 counting schemes in which results such as, "...four, five, six, aww, shit" are undesirable.

June 2000 to June 2001, The Pampered Proctologist, Location Varied
Conducted door-to-door sales of upscale proctological instruments to the residential market. Won "Salesperson of the Month" honors for selling the most Richard Simmons Autograph Model Proctoscopes in July 2000.

Collecting rare, erotic Golden Girls memorabilia.


Available on demand.

I hope that this example has been a helpful primer. I wish you the best of luck in your job hunt.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I Believe In Miracles

I've always been skeptical of organized religion. Although I don't doubt the existence of a power greater than my own, I was relativity certain that it had little to do with modern Christianity. Thus, I have been doubtful when I've heard reports of people who have seen the image of the Virgin Mary on inanimate objects. The human mind can be deceptive, so I assumed that these people were merely seeing what they wanted to see.

Today, my skepticism has been dashed, as I have borne witness to a genuine religious miracle. It happened while I was in the shower. This may seem like an odd place for a miracle to occur, but we all know that the Lord works in mysterious ways. While I was washing, I experienced an overpowering sensation--a feeling that I wasn't alone. That's when I realized that I was in the presence of omnipotence. I soon become aware of a warm feeling that was centered at the core of my being and a supernatural aura began to emanate. When I looked down to ascertain the source of the glow, I witnessed a Miraculous Apparition. No, it was not a vision of the Madonna, but it was just as powerful: I was gazing upon the sacred image of Pat Robertson.

I am certain that some of you heathens will find my claim dubious. You may say things like, "This is no Holy Image. This is a hairy man, who could stand to lose some weight, compressing his belly into miniature, yet not entirely unattractive, butt cheeks. Probably because he has nothing else to post." Nothing could be further from the truth, this is a true manifestation of the God's power. It is readily apparent that the apparition that has appeared on my stomach is an exact replica of America'a / God's favorite minister. To wit:

As you might imagine, I have mixed emotions about being annointed as a Messenger of God. I have considerable trepidation about the prospect of crowds gathering to pray over me while harvesting belly-button lint as religious icons. Additionally, I have concerns about the 2nd Commandment which warns of idolatry, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them." Clearly, this passage should be interpreted that I must remain vigilant of
revealing graven images of Billy Graham. This will be a true test of my faith since it will require complete abstinence from public mooning, but nobody said that doing God's work was going to be easy.