Monday, December 31, 2007


Marlo and I are at home doing laundry, cleaning the house, etc. We have the TV on in the background with a show that Marlo chose called, "Cheaters." It is sort of like Dateline's "To Catch a Predator," only without the law enforcement and a lot more drama.

Apparently a person who suspects his/her significant other is cheating can contact this show. The show's PIs then follow the significant other to gather intelligence. Once they have confirmed cheating is going on, they show the injured person who is allowed to confront the cheater. All captured on tape.

Personally, I'm a little horrified. I offer this advice:

1. If you suspect your significant other is cheating, you don't need to wait for actual proof to end the relationship. Even if you are off-base about whether your significant other is cheating, clearly something is way off in your relationship. Get counseling if that is what you want, but you should probably consider ending things if you are to the point that you are willing to include a television show and millions of people in your private relationship.

2. If you really do want confirmation of the cheating before you end things, hire your own PI, without the television show. Just because the person you are with has humiliated you and treated you like trash by his cheating is no reason you should debase yourself.

3. If you do get caught up in this and call the television show, when confronting your significant other, maintain your dignity. No yelling, no pushing, no hitting (it's called assault, people, and has legal ramifications). Confront him/her if that is what will empower you, but be dignified.

Just because your significant other is trash is no reason you should be.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Free Market Karma

For those of you who rolled their eyes at my left-leaning blog post "Burning in Liberal Hell" about my angst over buying my digital camera at Circuit City, I thought I'd post this in follow up.

As a refresher, in a bonehead (a/k/a "cost cutting") move, Circuit City laid off all sales associates paid 51 cents or more per hour above an "established pay range" - essentially firing 3,400 of its top performers in one fell swoop. Over the next eight months Circuit City's share price dropped by almost 70%.

This earned Circuit City the number 70 spot on Fortune magazine's 101 Dumbest Moments in Business. (Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure that Fortune isn't part of what my father would consider the liberal elite media.)

Perhaps the free market system really does work. I'd say that Circuit City got what was coming to them. It seems intuitive but I guess someone should have spelled it out to Circuit City's executives - one doesn't fire top performing employees to save money. Duh.

Unified Food Theory

This Christmas, Marlo and I continued our tradition of going out for dim sum in the International District instead of cooking a traditional holiday meal. We like it. It's fun and I like it that my teenager is adventurous enough to try almost anything (except raw tomatoes and avocados).

I took immigration law last quarter and developed a new theory that I named the "Unified Food Theory." The theory is that one can gauge a particular sub-population's acceptance within a larger community by the level of acceptance of that population's food.

For example:

Italian - Back in the 1950's pizza parlors and Italian restaurants gained acceptance in mainstream cuisine. Indeed, pizza is now standard fare for all teenagers. Now we've even got national chains of Italian restaurants like Olive Garden and the Macaroni Grill.

Chinese -
I'm not sure when Chinese food became popular in the United States, but know that the bright red sauce topping sweet and sour pork/chicken never graced Mao's table. Most Americans (except, possibly, those of Asian descent) now would probably be shocked to learn that at one time in the not so distant past, Asians were precluded from American citizenship, even if they were born here.

Japanese - During WWII, there wasn't much uproar when people of Japanese descent, including American citizens, were forced into concentration camps. I remember in the late 1980's and early 1990's when teriyaki was the new craze in Seattle, with sushi quickly following. In fact, when I moved to Tulsa in 1995, there were no teriyaki restaurants and only one sushi joint (probably a good thing in a land-locked state). Now, my child has no problem wolfing down eel rolls and it doesn't even occur to her that it is unusual.

Vietnamese - When I was in junior high and high school, we had a lot of Vietnamese immigrants at school. Unfortunately, we were not able to communicate very well. It must have been hard on them to be dropped in the middle of an American high school without knowing the language or getting much training on how to fit in. Teenagers aren't the most accepting of peoples sometimes. Now, however, we go for Pho and bubble tea (wondering if that's actually native to Vietnam) and it doesn't even occur to my child that I haven't eaten these my whole life.

In addition, consider the popularity of the Irish pub, Mexican and Greek restaurants, and the success of Trader Joe's. In Seattle's Central District and South Capital Hill area, there is an explosion of Ethiopian restaurants. These cuisines' popularity seems to coincide with a lessening acceptance of the derogatory terms to describe the originating populations (thank god).

One does wonder something though - along the lines of the chicken and the egg - do we become more accepting of these new cuisines as we accept the new people into our world, or do we become more accepting as we try a little bit of theirs? Perhaps acceptance is created one taste bud at a time.

Friday, December 28, 2007

More from the world of weird news (a/k/a a sad commentary on the state of relations between the sexes)

I saw this news article today and couldn't help re-posting it here. On the one hand, it is an interesting tidbit of really odd news.

On the other hand, it is a sad commentary on the state of relations between the sexes - how is it that some men are so insecure that they can't handle women who are their equals, who expect to be treated with the same amount of courtesy and respect that men are, and who do not doubt their own status or intelligence? I just don't understand why that is so threatening.

Everyone who is raising a boy these days should take care to teach their boys to appreciate strong, intelligent women and to anticipate having a marriage consisting of an equal partnership. Hopefully in a generation or so, men and women will be past this - after all, it's already been approximately 30 years since the classified ads were allowed to sort job postings by gender.

Also, not to step on any free-market toes, but perhaps we shouldn't be making it so easy for men to ignore their own problems in dealing with women as equals such as making it possible for them to pretend that a pile of silicone shaped like a woman with big breasts provides the same level of companionship and intimacy as the real deal.


Japan's lonely hearts turn to dolls for sex, company
(click on link for photos)
Wed Jul 18, 2007 11:30am EDT

By Toshi Maeda

TOKYO, July 18 (Reuters Life!) - Real love is hard to find for one Japanese man, who has transferred his affection and desires to dozens of plastic sex dolls.

When the 45-year-old, who uses a pseudonym of Ta-Bo, returns home, it's not a wife or girlfriend who await him, but a row of dolls lined up neatly on his sofa.

Each has a name. Ta-Bo often watches television with his toys before bathing them, powdering them so that their skin feels more human, dressing them in lingerie and then taking them to bed.

"A human girl can cheat on you or betray you sometimes, but these dolls never do those thing. They belong to me 100 percent," says the engineer who has spent more than 2 million yen ($16,000) over the past decade on the dolls.

"Sometimes it takes too much time before I can have sex with the person I meet. But with these dolls, it's just a matter of a click of the mouse. With one click, they are delivered to you."

The man, who says he has had sex with five women but prefers the dolls, is one of a gradually increasing, though secretive, group of Japanese men who have given up on women.

A Japanese maker said it started producing its life-sized and anatomically correct dolls 30 years ago, targeting initially handicapped men who might find it difficult to find a partner.

Orient Industry Co. now makes 80 dolls a month in an eastern Tokyo factory to nine designs that sell for between $850 and $5,500 each. The more expensive models are made of silicon and have 35 movable joints.

Nearly all of the people who buy these dolls are single men and about 60 percent of them are over the age of 40, a company official said.

"Nowadays, women are sometimes more dominant than men in the real world, and they don't always pay attention to men," said Hideo Tsuchiya, the company's president.

"More and more men are finding themselves miserable so we're making these dolls partly in support of men."

The anonymity of buying a sex doll over the Internet has helped the business grow but Orient Industry also has a showroom displaying its wares.

Many have parted lips, prominent breasts and are shown splayed across beds or chairs in poses similar to those adopted by prostitutes in sex shops.

Ta-Bo says his parents are not aware of his companions as he has never invited them to his apartment.

He admits that carrying the dolls, changing their clothes and bathing them is almost like nursing bedridden people, but says for him and a few male friends who share his hobby, the dolls are the only emotional outlet.

"Sex with human girls was better, but I hate the process of dating," he said.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thank god, I'm not the only one.

As some of you know, I occasionally have this problem with fires and kitchens in combination. I never had this problem before setting my condo kitchen on fire in 2000, but now seem to be plagued by this on a recurring, but infrequent, basis - such as having a barbeque flame up and burn my eyebrows, popcorn burning up my microwave, etc.

About two months ago, I had a fire in my oven while using the "self-cleaning oven" feature. (Why is it that I always end up calling the tremendously beautiful men at the Fire Department to come rescue me while in ugly sweats without makeup and my hair in a ponytail? Makes me doubt the existence of a benevolent god - truly.)

Fortunately, there was a news report today that enables me to view my recurrent fire issues as something other than a character flaw.

Infamous potatoes: Tater Tots start blaze in Idaho firehouse kitchen while crew out on a call

The Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — A fire station crew must be a little embarrassed by the way some of this state's famous potatoes got fried.

Boise firefighters returning from a medical call had to turn their hose on the firehouse kitchen after an overheated pan full of Tater Tots melted and set some cabinets ablaze.

The Christmas Eve fire at Station 8 was quickly extinguished, with no injuries. No damage estimate was available.

Investigators were trying to determine why a computerized safety system that automatically turns off appliances when firefighters are called away apparently had not been activated. Assistant Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said the three firefighters on duty might have forgotten to use it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Like email SPAM, but worse.

Last night, I was asleep at 2:30 a.m. when my text alert on my cell phone goes off. I get out of bed to check it because that is just too weird - my friends don't typically text me in the middle of the night.

Well, last night was a typical night. It wasn't one of my friends. It was spam offering me the ability to engage in some sort of sexually illicit behavior with someone named Debbie. No thanks.

It went off again about twenty minutes later, and then was quiet for the rest of the night. Then, I got another one this morning just after 8:00 a.m. I didn't turn it off because my cell phone is the only way for someone to reach me if there is an emergency with Marlo while I'm up here at the hotel studying for finals.

Text messaging spam particularly sucks because (1) unlike email spam, you don't get to pick the time that it'll be delivered - it just intrudes; and (2) there isn't pre-existing junk mail filters (yet).

Welcome to the wonderful (drip sarcasm here) world of text message spam.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

You gotta love a nun who doesn't pussyfoot around.

(My favorite part is the last line.)

Nun reads list of curse words to kids


GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. -- Sister Kathy Avery won't put up with swearing on the playground at her school, and she's not above repeating the offending language to make sure everyone understands which words she won't tolerate.

The principal of St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic School had students stay after a Mass last month and informed the fifth- through eighth-graders that she has a zero-tolerance policy for cursing.

Just in case anyone wasn't sure what she was talking about, Avery read off a list of the very words and phrases that she was banning.

"It got a little quiet in church" during her talk, she told the Detroit Free Press.

Some parents were shocked, but others applauded, the newspaper said.

"In a way you would think a nun would shy away from something like that, but she's very open with the children, very clear in her messages," said Margaret Roache, chairperson of the school commission.

Roache's sixth-grade son was there when Avery read the list of banned words.

"When I asked him to give me a sample of it, he said 'Oh, no, I can't say it!'" Roache said. "I thought it was great."

A representative of the Archdiocese of Detroit declined to comment Sunday.

Cuss words aren't the only things that set Avery off. She's also banned the words "stupid" and "boring."

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Technology to counter the curse of technology.

For the most part, I believe that technology has improved our lives: DVDs instead of reel-to-reel; voicemail instead of answering machine cassettes; laproscopic surgery instead of having to be cut wide-open. You get the drift.

I also think that at the same time that technology has made us more productive, it has sped up the pace of our lives and reduced the moments where we can exist peacefully without instrusion from the outside world. For example: cell phones. Now, if your friends or family can't find you for two hours while you go out to a movie or eat dinner in a nice restaurant, they'll practically be calling emergency rooms looking for you by the time you emerge.

Howeever, I came across a news article about a new bit of technology that really is useful. It is a website ( that dials a phone number for you, works its way through the voicemail maze to the department you want, and then calls your telephone phone once it gets a live person for you. All for free! How cool is that?

Saturday, December 1, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

A way to avoid phone tree hell
By Craig Crossman McClatchy-Tribune News Service

A phone tree is one of those automated voices that says something like, "Thank you for calling the XYZ Company. Your call is VERY important to us. Please select from the following nine options. Please make sure you listen to the entire menu because our options have recently changed."

You finally hear the option you want and press it. You are then presented with a sub-menu of choices. "Please select one of the following seven items." You listen and then make another selection. You then hear "Please select from the following six options," and so it continues.

It is somewhere around the third sub-menu that your mounting frustration makes you either give up or start pressing random phone keys in hopes that you might be connected to a live person who can actually help you.

When you finally navigate all the appropriate menu options, you discover that you now have to wait 17 minutes. When you do finally speak to a live person, you have to swallow your tongue, least you make a comment you may regret later. There must be a better way to quickly get to a live person on the phone, and now thanks to Bringo, there is.

When you go to the Bringo Web site (, you find the company you want to call. Bringo lists them alphabetically or by category such as credit card, health care, etc. Bringo has a growing list of companies including more than 800 so far.

After you find the company you want, you enter your phone number. This is so the Bringo Web site can call you back once a live person at that organization is reached. Bringo assures that your number will never be given out to anyone, and I believe this to be the case. (After entering your number, Bringo offers an option to remember it so that the next time it will already be there for you. Then all you have to do is click on the big blue fetch button.)

The first time you use the service, Bringo calls your number to make sure it's correct. When you answer your phone, an automated voice tells you to press the pound sign to confirm this is your phone number. After that you don't have to go through that step ever again. This is in place for added security.

On the Bringo Web site, you see a simple display that says YOU and the status of the call being made to the company. Beneath that you see the company's name you are calling. A status display lets you know what Bringo is doing to navigate the company's phone tree.

When Bringo finally gets a live person, it calls your phone back and a pleasant voice tells you to press the pound key to be connected to a live person at the company. Press it and you're speaking to a live person from that company. Amazing.

I tried Bringo several times calling different companies and every time it got me through to a live person who could help me in a matter of moments. Life is good once more.

At the very end, Bringo shows a screen that asks if it worked for you and to type in any comments. This helps the good people at Bringo further fine-tune the necessary navigation needed to circumvent the phone tree and get you to a live person. This effort by Bringo's users, along with a quarterly maintenance update by Bringo, helps insure that the phone-tree navigation is accurate because companies typically change their phone-tree menus for one reason or another.

Bringo is a free service, and it works with any computer with Internet access and a Web browser.