Archive | December, 2010

Holiday Workaholic

31 Dec

I don’t know about you, but since a week before Christmas, I’ve been the only one in my home to go to bed at a reasonable hour each night and wake up each day to regularly head out to work.  Not that I’ve been envious or anything (more like scathingly green), but the fact that I have had to work throughout this holiday vacation while my family has been at home luxuriating in the nothingness that is their daily schedule has been more than a little grating on my work-strained nerves as of late.

Realizing this, the Big Girl asked me yesterday if she could go to work with me to “help me out.”  Of course, her idea of going to work with me in the past has usually consisted of wanting to stop for breakfast, roaming the halls of my office while chatting it up with my colleagues, drawing on my whiteboard, photocopying her drawings, wanting to take a 2-hour lunch and then beginning her “head-home-watch” around 3pm.  This time however, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and told her I’d let her tag along if she promised to do my bidding.  She of course countered with the addition of 2 square meals to which I agreed, and we shook on it.

True to her word, the Big Girl made copies, stamped all of my outgoing mail and performed the services of my own personal inter-office courier and in appreciation I treated her to hearty meals and yummy snacks throughout the day.  As we were leaving the office a little after seven that evening, she buckled her seatbelt and let out a booming yawn:

“I see why you come home tired everyday mommy.  People are always bothering you and calling you all day here, and then as soon as you come home, we want you to do things for us too.  I bet the only time you get any peace is when you are asleep.  And probably not even then cause daddy must want things and is hogging the bed too, and even I want to sleep in your bed sometimes.”

Oh, to have had her document these sentiments on paper in the presence of my attorney and a notary!




Let Them Eat Cake…er, S’mores

29 Dec

Whether debating the proximity of Russia to the state that she was once the executive of or encouraging the masses “to stand with our North Korean allies,” Sarah Palin can always be depended upon to scavenge furiously throughout her annals of idiocy to produce the sort of head-scratching foolishness that regularly leaves me wondering if she and Todd sit around their fireplace sipping absinth from mason jars while making up the next fantastical Palinism guaranteed to secure her a place in history as one of the most unapologetically misinformed politicians of our time.

It should really come as no surprise then that 1) a cable network would see these idiosyncratic catch phrases as fodder for Reality TV gold, thus providing Mrs. Palin with a medium by which to project her daily wrongness to the multitudes and 2) she would use that conduit to take pot-shots at a woman who’s intellectual competency clearly elicits a severe case of cerebral envy within her.

In a recently aired episode of TLC’s “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” the spokeswoman for frameless eyewear and up-do’s took a dig at the FOTUS and her youth anti-obesity campaign while preparing S’mores:

“[These are] in honor of Michelle Obama, who said the other day we should not have dessert.”

The fact that Palin had again opened and spewed falsehoods from her orifice before bothering to fact check was shocking to no one (Obama has never said that sugary confections should be forbidden from American tummies, only that as far as she is concerned, dessert is not a right for Sasha and Malia, and that the foods they eat be balanced with fruits and vegetables).  What is surprising however, is that this family values touting, otherwise health conscious mother of five would somehow find fault with an initiative designed at helping this nation’s children to live more healthy and active lifestyles.  Hmm, now who’s being un-American?

In reality, it is obvious that in her quest to be the first woman and most mis-educated President that ever lived, Palin’s election strategy has been to disassociate herself with all things common sense Obama, including a program designed to save the lives of America’s youths from the inside out.  But amidst the snottiness, I imagine that what Mrs. Disagreeable did not count on were the (grudgingly) glowing accolades that GOP heavyweights like former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Governor-slash-likely-2012-GOP-Presidential-contender Haley Barbour bestowed upon Mrs. O and her efforts to transcend party line politricks and implement an agenda that would actually serve the (young) people of this country.

As it stands though, since Mrs. Palin has never really given off the impression of a student of change (or of anything else for that matter), I wonder if it’d be safe for one to assume that her modus operandi for her 2012 presidential run will be to remain hypocritical, delusional and contrary; convinced herself, and convincing all who opt to drink the Tea that adolescent health and physical fitness are simply means for Big Government to further embed itself in the lives of real Americans families?

You betcha!

Love Hurts

28 Dec

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Although I had already seen this  traumatic and frankly, rather disturbing episode of Intervention earlier this year, while on a router run with me this evening (because my internet router gave up the ghost in mid-blog post), my nephew almost had me wreck my vehicle twice when he queued up this remixed version of Chewbacca’s Salute on his phone for me.

Watch your back Antoine Dodson, this dude is coming for your viral crown do-rag.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Christmas Eve Negotiations

25 Dec

Twas the night before Christmas and The Pack Kids have been seeking the assistance of their father to arbitrate their denied request to open presents at midnight on Christmas morn. Now as much as I am looking forward to their eager faces and them frantically unwrapping their gifts, I cannot in good conscience allow them to open all their goodies without having first gone to bed. Let’s just say that by relenting, I’ll be doing my neighbors (and my frazzled nerves) the greatest favor!

…Until 6am at least.

Merry Christmas!!!

Holiday Entertainment: Baby Child and a Rowboat

23 Dec

Although I got an immensely early jumpstart on my loose-end Christmas Shopping today, having the babychild in tow for the majority of the day proved to be a rather interesting ordeal to say the least.  While he demonstrated exceptional resolve for a toddler amidst my hustle and bustle and daily to-do’s, by hour three the babychild was completely restless and required entertaining (and french fries) to remain even remotely behaved.  One such entertaining moment came when he decided to serenade me and my fellow department store passersby with a special solo:

Row, row, row your boat,

gently down the stream,

merry me, merry me, merry me, merry me,

light my butt a dream.


Oh no mom-ma! I don’t want to light my butt!!!!

If the snickers and chuckles coming from the shoppers in line behind and in front of me were any indication, then they found the notion of the babychild’s lit butt as equally amusing as I did.

There’s No Such Thing as a Free App

21 Dec

I can clearly remember having first discovered Pandora at work after a friend recommended the website as a way to help pass the monotonous workday with customizable streaming music stations, and the toe-tapping joy that instantly washed over me.  Within a few weeks however, my employer started hating and made Pandora inaccessible from company workstations.  As a result, my musical jubilation was unceremoniously replaced with seemingly longer work hours and daily doldrums.

Then as fate and technology would have it, the folks of the Music Genome Project got wise and developed Pandora as a smartphone application.  And just like that, with the use of a Bluetooth earpiece and phone charger, I was back in melodious workday business!

But for as convenient as Pandora is while on the job, at the kids’ practices or while grocery shopping, it has crossed my mind on more than one occasion how Pandora has been able to provide such user specific music at practically no cost to the listener.  I mean sure, I do realize that the advertising spots during the brief intervals between musical sets pays the Pandora bills in a big way, but that still has done nothing to negate my feelings that Pandora has always seemed to be one of those sites/applications that was simply too good to be true.  Well, according to a recent Wall Street Journal Blog article, it is:

More than half of the smart phone apps tested by the Wall Street Journal found that they were sending users personal information such as location, age, gender, and a phone’s unique identifier to advertisers; often without user consent. Among the worst offenders were popular music streaming service Pandora and text messaging app TextPlus 4 from app developer GOGII.

The Journal tested 101 apps that run on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile platforms, and found that 56 of them sent a phone’s unique identifier to third parties without user consent, 47 transmitted a phone’s location, and five sent out user demographic information.

TextPlus4 sent a phone’s unique ID (UDID) number to eight different advertising companies, and also sent a phone’s zip code and user age and gender to two of them. The app is only available for iOS. Meanwhile the Android and iOS versions of Pandora sent information to eight third parties, included location data to seven of those, a phone’s unique ID to three of them, and demographic data to two.

The makers of TextPlus 4 and Pandora said that information sent to third parties is not connected to a user’s name, and that personal information such as age and gender is offered by users. However the most transmitted bit of information was the phone’s unique identifier, a number unique to every phone that can be used by advertisers to track each phone owner’s behavior.

“We use listener data in accordance with our privacy policy” a spokeswoman for Pandora told the Journal. The policy states that the company will share “non-personally identifiable information.”

The biggest recipient of user data was Google, through its AdMob, AdSense, Analytics and DoubleClick subsidiaries. And apps on Apple’s iOS app store were chattier with advertisers than on the Android marketplace, despite Apple’s more rigid approval process.

Now, unless you’ve been living under a dial-up modem, it is common knowledge that many third party apps, social networking sites and even ad supported webmail programs that require some sort of login credentials and user profiles share the information that is provided to them with advertising companies who pay for such data to target users who fit within a certain promotional mix they may be seeking.  Still, the idea that sites like Pandora may be collecting user trends, activity and other information, then providing it to third-parties without user consent is just a bit unnerving.  Although for the most part, this sort of data collection is designed to be processed anonymously and in batches so that advertisers can’t identify one user from the other, it only takes one cyber ne’er do well with no friends and too much time on his hands to develop some sort of archived database that links UDID and other personal information together (that a user submits through sites and apps who’s fine print relationships with ad companies are direct results of their profitable bottom lines) to really put a glitch in the matrix!

What’s funny is that I’ve oftentimes joked that with the directions that society and technology are rapidly taking, how imperative it would be for me to learn to live off the grid, but who’d have ever thought that Pandora’s privacy policy would be pushing me closer toward Morpheus and the red pill?



It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas

20 Dec

In the face of the customary holiday shopping swarms, mall traffic, out of stock empty shelves and hours of gift wrapping, it has really been difficult for me to get into and remain in the holiday spirit as of late.

And although I readily accept and remind my children of The Christ’s birth as the reason that we embrace this holiday each year, between my unrelenting work schedule, the nasty consumers who have no qualms with fussing and grappeling over the last Crayola Glow Dome and some notoriously attitudinal service indistry members, I must admit that it has proven to be most difficult to be in festive spirits this December.

Now, with all these factors at play, I can certainly attest to feeling this way for the past few weeks, but a few days ago, I do believe my icy holiday heart began to melt. Hopping into my car after having been out in the elements and long lines to finish up my Christmas shopping, I turned on my radio and couldn’t help but be moved by a story that the evenings on-air DJ was telling.

Hosting a Holiday Toy Drive in a local grocery store, the DJ began to share how a father and son had entered the store with a jug full of coins and made a bee line directly for the coin machine. As they passed, the DJ inquired of the young boy how much he thought he had in change, and the kid said that since he’d been saving his allowance for almost a year, he thought he might have $52.00. Making a little more small talk, the DJ ensured the young boy that $52.00 was an impressive savings amount and quite the boon with which to buy something awesome for himself.

A little less than a half hour later, the DJ saw the boy and his father heading his way as they were leaving the store. Asking him how accurate their guess had been, the boy smiled and confirmed that his savings had totalled a little more than $53.00. As the DJ wished them well and for the boy not to spend all his cash in one place, the boy looked up at him and unflinchingly articulated that he planned to donate his allowance to an orphanage so the children there would have a Merry Christmas.

Much like the DJ who emotionally shared this story, I was simply floored having listened to the tail; so much so, that I began to cry at the sheer selflessness of it all.

I guess you could say that thanks to this simple reminder of what holiday spirit should feel like, my Whoville Grinch Card has been confiscated…and I couldn’t be more happy about it.

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