Friday, February 22, 2013

Your Tax Dollars At Work

I read a short news article the other day that I just can't get out of my mind. I find it hard to believe that such things can happen in this day and age.

Just the headline should be enough to make a person's blood boil: Walker Budget Will Fund Abuse Shelters

The article goes on to talk about how the budget proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will include about 11 million dollars for two domestic abuse shelters.

I am shocked.

I mean...I understand what a tax shelter is and what a homeless shelter is, but why would anyone want to make domestic abuse easier?!?!?

Friday, February 15, 2013


It will come as no surprise to anyone that there exist in this world some sounds that are experienced as annoying and some sounds that are experienced as pleasant. I have lived my life up to this point, perfectly satisfied with the existence of this phenomenon, feeling no need to find out why some sounds please while others perturb.


Never satisfied with the answer "just because," scientific researchers (For more on my true feelings about these fine folks, see last week's post.) have tirelessly pinpointed the source of our reactions to different sounds and published the results of their studies in the Journal of Neuroscience...a fine publication to which I own a long-term subscription, and yet, I still choose to only read small snippets that appear in Reader's Digest...specifically, the February 2013 issue of Reader's Digest.

According to the aforementioned snippet, "some sounds are irritating because they trigger activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain that regulates emotions."

Oh really? Are we sure it's not the other way around? Maybe the sounds trigger activity in the amygdala because they are irritating. 'Jevver think o' that? Huh? Huh?!?!!? "Jevver think that maybe my amydgala is triggered into activity because YOU'RE irritating?

And another thing...the tireless researchers (What IS it about researchers that keep them from getting tired? Man, that's irritating, too.) have based the following declarations on "the brain activity of 13 volunteers who listened to 74 different sounds." much trouble did they have to go to to aquire a whole, big, whopping 13 volunteers?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
Anyway, here's what The Experts came up with for the top four most-annoying sounds:
1. Knife on a bottle
2. Fork on a glass
3. Chalk on a blackboard
4. Ruler on a bottle
Firstly, I submit that numbers 1, 2, and 4 are basically the same sound.

Secondly, I submit that we don't often find ourselves listening to a ruler on a bottle or a knife on a glass, so why bother with testing for how irritating they sound?

Thirdly, I submit the following short list, in no particular order, of sounds that are far more irritating than what The Experts came up with:

  • Fran (The Nanny) Drescher's voice
  • Any music released by an artist with non-letters in their name (e.g., Ke$ha, Maroon 5)
  • Cubicle vibrations caused by a co-worker's Restless Leg Syndrome
  • The Super Bowl commercial where the beauty and the geek noisily kiss
  • My alarm clock

Wow...I really had my grump on today, didn't I? That's kinda irritating...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Study Pays Well

Right away, let me dispel any rumors that this post is sponsored by parents hoping to encourage their offspring to do their homework. That's not the kind of study I'm talking about.

Nor am I implyinga la any of the "Almost the News" posts (a collection of which can be viewed here), that a hole dug in the ground for the purpose of accessing water has been given money by a scientific research project.

What I'm talking about is how much money there is to be made by doing "studies" of one thing or another...apparently, the more stupidier the betterest.

Case in point (with thanks to Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, the source of the following True Truth): In 2009, a team of British scientists led by Oxford University professor Marian Dawkins spent three years studying a group of ducks. The ducks had full access to a pond, a water trough, and a shower. The big discovery that these inquiring minds were aching to know? The ducks preferred standing under the shower to standing in still water.

And it only cost half a million dollars.

I'm in the process of writing a proposal for my own long-term study. I'm sure the scientific community is dying to find out how a middle-aged, male citizen of Minnesota reacts to living in a maintenance-free environment with unlimited access to sleep, food, and Netflix.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vestigial McDonald's Orders

For those who are a tad unsure about the meaning of this post's title, feel free to ruminate while I illuminate.

Vestigial - ve-stij-ee-uhl
of, pertaining to, or of the nature of a vestige: a vestigial tail

Well, that definition didn't come in all that handy, now did it?

Vestige - ves-tij
1. a mark, trace, or visible evidence of something that is no longer present or in existence: A few columns were the last vestiges of a Greek temple.
2. a surviving evidence or remainder of some condition, practice, etc.: These superstitions are vestiges of an ancient religion.
3. a localized desire to scratch caused by a sleeveless torso-covering garment: I've got to take my sweater off to get at this vestige with my fingernails.

My meaning in this post's title is mostly Number 2, with just a mark or trace of Number 1.

Now that we're all up-to-speed, let's get to it: I am not a particular fan of having pickles and onions on my cheeseburgers. (Don't judge me, just accept my difference as part of the kaleidoscopic panoply of humanity.) Not wanting pickles and onions would not have to affect the way I order cheeseburgers...I could just take off the pickles and onions with my very own fingers.


Back in the earlier years of my life-long love of all things fried, Mickey D's would make batches of hamburgers and cheeseburgers and have them waiting for purchase in large, heated bins directly behind the line of cash registers. They could have possibly sat there for 30 minutes before someone came along and placed an order. To remove the pickles and onions from a Cheeseburger of a Certain Age would remove the congealed dairy-like substance (cheese) as well, and this simply would not do.

My solution has always been to order my cheeseburgers without pickles and onions. (I will pause here to allow you to reestablish your equilibrium after your gasp of awe.) The side benefit of this practice has been that my cheeseburger was always fresh off the grill, because it would have to have been specially constructed to meet my stringent specifications.


For several years now, taking their cue from Wendy's, Mickey D's has been constructing their sandwiches at the time they are ordered. This results in several things, some of which are at odds with each other:

  • Every sandwich is fresh off the grill.
  • The pickles and onions can be removed without destroying the cheese.
  • The delivery to my plastic tray of a cheeseburger without pickles and onions takes not a single second longer than a fully-garnished cheeseburger.

So you see? There is no real reason anymore for me to special order, but at the same time, it is far easier to do so. What a quandary!

Then again, if this is the biggest thing I have to worry about, I am an amazingly blessed individual.