22 November 2007

hey doc. . .
would you prescribe some no-doz
for the turkey hangover
and some lipitor
for the mashed potatoes?

mccarthy's artery-clogging irish holiday mashed potatoes

12 medium potatoes, mashed
2 well-beaten eggs
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup milk, 1% or 2%
pepper, to taste

add potatoes to all other ingredients. mix well, but lightly.
do not whip!
place in a greased, 9-inch round casserole pan
and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes.

(take lipitor as needed)

happy thanksgiving to all.

18 November 2007

'tis the season to be crafty

she's at it again. my wife, that is.

cutting, stitching, sewing, stuffing, twisting, painting, wrapping, quilting. . .

all the little tasks which make all the pretty things which she can sell at craft shows and holiday bazaars which are all too common this time of year.

they're everywhere. churches, schools, senior centers, malls. you can't turn around these days without stumbling over a handmade quilt or a tupperware container or a black hills gold earring or a this-or-that. it's an underground economy, this holiday bazaar phenomenon. it's an all-cash tax-free no barter system of wealth. or if not wealth, at least it's operating on a shoestring. (sorry, bad pun.)

at least my wife enjoys what she's doing. all the cutting, stitching, sewing, stuffing, twisting, painting, wrapping, and quilting are a stress reliever for her. . .at times, that is. you see, when she has to stay up until 1 in the morning to finish the quilt which will be the pièce de résistance of her holiday display, i wonder whether she really is relieving stress at all. you see, she does all this in addition to her day job as a schoolteacher. I mean, I can see why she does it for the sheer enjoyment of it, and the additional money is a cool fringe benefit (sorry, another bad pun).

anyway, my oldest daughter and i have been pressed into service--
(in)voluntary servitude. some of the items which my daughter has made have actually sold like hotcakes, much to her glee. and we can all sit around the fireplace or the tv on a weekday eve and chip in and triple my wife's production of whatever knickknack is in short supply this week.

at a show yesterday, in six hours, my wife sold out of most everything she had made. impressive. now comes the daunting task of restocking. thankfully the next show is in two weeks.

over breakfast today came the announcement that we have thursday, friday saturday and sunday free--thanksgiving week, and all, to restock.

my daughter's reaction? click here.

10 November 2007

you know it's a bad day when. . .

top ten signs you're a fundamentalist christian

10 - you vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
9 - you feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
8 - you laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a triune god.
7 - your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how god/jehovah slaughtered all the babies of egypt in "exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "joshua" including women, children, and trees!
6 - you laugh at hindu beliefs that deify humans, and greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the holy spirit impregnated mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
5 - you are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by bronze age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that earth is a few generations old.
4 - you believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend eternity in an infinite hell of suffering. and yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
3 - while modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" christianity.
2 - you define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. you consider that to be evidence that prayer works. and you think that the remaining 99.99% failure was simply the will of god.
1 - you actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the bible, christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a christian.

nature at work

a touching story worth sharing.

i happened to be on an airplane from shrevesport two weeks ago. those tend to be small and crowded.
i sat next to a young lady, perhaps 20 or so. she was carrying a small child, who was quite unhappy with the pressure changes and all. she got up several times to go to the bathroom, each time i had to rise to let her out. i knew she was comforting the child, i even asked her if she wished the aisle seat. she blushed and said she preferred the inside seat.
the flight got a little rough, the seat belt light came on along with a warning from the captain, and he wasn't kidding, it got very rough.
she looked quite miserable, the child was crying. the ears of the very young are quite sensitive, they have not learned to compensate so nursing is very beneficial at times like that.
when the flight began to calm i mentioned to her that it was all right to comfort her child at her seat, i did not mind.
she smiled and thanked me, i suppose the fact that i am obviously a bit grandfatherly relaxed her.
so she did, i simply read my book. several around noticed but none took offense.
one funny thing, the steward came by, a young man of perhaps 30 or so, bringing soft drinks. this was after things had settled down a bit. she was asleep, as was the child. it had a solid locklip on her breast, both were quite content. he asked me if my daughter wanted anything, i got some orange juice for her and set it on her tray.
she woke up soon after, drank it and thanked me. i even got to hold the child for awhile, a wonderful feeling bringing back some memories of my youth and my own children. i confess to a small tear in my eyes at touching a hand nearly as small as my index finger.
perhaps my being much older makes a difference, but breastfeeding is a wonderful thing to see.
even as a male, a tiny child pressing to my chest feels just fine.

look down on it all you wish; if you do, you are a fool. women should feed their children as nature intended, they will be stronger and healthier as a result.
i see nothing wrong with it--if you are bashful or in a highly public place, a simple blanket will suffice.
if not, that does not matter--it did not for the young lady sharing a long trip with me.
my wife nursed ours until they turned to solid foods, often in public. not once did anyone say anything.
it might be time for some to rub a bit of the blue off your noses, if your take offense, for this is a very silly thing to take any offense at. courtesy would dictate that we simply go on our way and let the young mothers be.
it is just nature at work.

source unknown

08 November 2007

slap the cuffs on me and haul me away, part deux

BOSTON - The elegant iron-railing balconies were once catwalks where guards stood watch over the inmates to make sure they didn't try to break out. If you look closely, you can still see the outline of the holes from the iron bars on the windows.

At the newly opened Liberty Hotel, it's hard to escape what this building once was: a decrepit jail where Boston locked up its most notorious prisoners.

But that's just the point.

After a five-year, $150 million renovation, the old Charles Street jail is now a luxury hotel for guests who can afford to pay anywhere from $319 a night for the lowest-priced room to $5,500 for the presidential suite. The hotel, at the foot of Boston's stately Beacon Hill neighborhood, opened in September.

Architects took pains to preserve many features of the 156-year-old stone building and its history.

The old sally port, where guards once brought prisoners from paddy wagons to their cells, is being converted into the entrance to a new restaurant, Scampo, which is Italian for "escape."

In another restaurant, named Clink, diners can look through original bars from cell doors and windows as they order smoked lobster bisque or citrus poached prawns from waiters and waitresses wearing shirts with prison numbers. The hotel bar, Alibi, is built in the jail's former drunk tank.

Instead of con men, counterfeiters and cat burglars, the guests now include Mick Jagger, Annette Bening, Meg Ryan and Eva Mendes.

The old clientele included Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, who served time for fraud in 1904 after he took a civil service exam for a friend; Frank Abagnale Jr., a 1960s con artist played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie "Catch Me If You Can;" a group of thieves who pulled off the Great Brinks Robbery in Boston in 1950; and a German U-boat captain who was captured in 1945 and killed himself with shards from his sunglasses.

Boston also has a luxury hotel called Jurys in the former Boston police headquarters building in fashionable Back Bay. The hotel bar is called Cuffs.

The transformation of the Charles Street Jail is stunning to some of those who spent time in the notorious lockup.

"It's a magnificent place," said Bill Baird, an activist locked up for 37 days in 1967 for breaking a Massachusetts law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people. His arrest led to a landmark 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing birth control for unmarried people.

"How you could take something that was so horrible and turn it into something of tremendous beauty, I don't know," said Baird, who visited the new hotel in October, on the 40th anniversary of his conviction.

When the jail opened in 1851, it was hailed as an international model for prison architecture. Built in the shape of a cross, the granite jail had a 90-foot-high central rotunda and four wings of cells. Large arched windows provided lots of natural light and good ventilation. Each of the 220 cells housed just one inmate.

But over the years, the jail fell into disrepair and became filthy, overcrowded and prone to riots.

Joseph Salvati, who spent 10 months in the jail in 1967 and 1968 after he was charged in a gangland slaying, said everything was covered with pigeon droppings.

"They had a crew every morning that would come down with hot water hoses and brushes to scrape it off the floor and seats," he said. "You had to rush down for breakfast to get a seat that was clean."

Salvati, who was exonerated after spending 30 years in various prisons, said he gets a kick out of seeing the jail turned into a luxury hotel. It is now "very classy-looking," he said.

In the 1970s, the inmates sued over the squalid conditions. After spending a night at the jail to see things for himself, a federal judge in 1973 ordered the place closed. But it took until 1990 for a new jail to be built and the last inmates to be moved.

The property was bought by Massachusetts General Hospital, next door, which invited proposals for preserving the building's historical character.

Cambridge developer Richard Friedman said the architects tried to retain some original elements while not reminding people too much of its dark past.

"How do you transform that into a joyous place where people have fun and a good time?" Friedman said. "We tried to use a sense of humor."

Charlene Swauger of Albuquerque, N.M., who stayed at the hotel for a long weekend in October, said the designers preserved elements of the old jail without crossing the line into bad taste.

"I thought it was very clever. I didn't discover any ghosts or anything," she said.

Eighteen of the hotel's 298 rooms are built in the original jail. Those rooms feature the original brick walls of the jail but also have high-definition TVs. The remaining rooms are in a new 16-story tower.

Max Stern, the chief lawyer for the inmates whose lawsuit led to the jail's closing, said some aspects of the project — such as calling the restaurant Clink — are too lighthearted.

"I thought they could have been a little more objective about what it really was like," he said.

Yahoo! News

07 November 2007

attempted suicide is punishable by death in louisana. . .

dateline: london (yahoo!news) - queen elizabeth ii's speech in the british parliament tuesday may have been routine but at least nobody got bored to death. that would have been against the law.

dying in parliament is an offence and is also by far the most absurd law in britain, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 people by a television channel showing a legal drama series.

and though the lords were clad in their red and white ermine cloaks and ambassadors from around the world wore colourful national costumes, at least nobody turned up in a suit of armour. illegal.

other rules deemed utterly stupid included one that permits a pregnant woman to urinate in a policeman's hat and murdering bow-and-arrow-carrying scotsmen within the city walls of york, northern england.

a law stating that in liverpool, only a clerk in a tropical fish store is allowed to be publicly topless, was also ridiculous, said a poll of 3,931 people for uktv gold television out tuesday.

nearly half of those surveyed admitted to breaking the ban on eating mince pies on christmas day, which dates back to the 17th century and was originally designed to outlaw gluttony during the rule of the puritan oliver crowmell.

the laws and other regulations were culled from published research into ancient legislation that has never been repealed although subsequent statutes have rendered them obsolete.

respondents were given a shortlist and asked to vote.

most ridiculous british law:

1. it is illegal to die in the houses of parliament (27 percent)

2. it is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the british monarch upside-down (seven percent)

3. in liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (six percent)

4. mince pies cannot be eaten on christmas day (five percent)

5. in scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter (four percent)

6. a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet (four percent)

7. the head of any dead whale found on the british coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail of the queen (3.5 percent)

8. it is illegal to avoid telling the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (three percent)

9. it is illegal to enter the houses of parliament in a suit of armour (three percent)

10. in the city of york it is legal to murder a scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow (two percent)

06 November 2007

batman ain't so superhuman after all, huh?

hong kong (afp) - batman might cut a superhuman figure as he fights off evil-doers to save the world, but hong kong's polluted harbour is, apparently, one death-defying stunt too far.

producers shooting the next batman movie have been forced to cut one scene involving the caped crusader -- played by christian bale -- jumping out of a plane into the city's famed victoria harbour.

according to the south china morning post, producers felt the poor water quality was just too dangerous for the action hero when shooting for part of the film takes place here in the coming week.

citing two unidentified production sources, it said the stunt had now been taken off the shooting list for "the dark knight," the sequel to the 2005 hit "batman begins" and the latest in the blockbuster franchise.

"there was supposed to be a scene where batman jumps out of the back of a hercules c-130 and into victoria harbour," one source was quoted as saying.

"the plan was for batman to be seen jumping into the water and then climbing up some bamboo, or something similar, onto a pier.

"but when they checked a water sample, they found all sorts of things, salmonella and tuberculosis, so it was cancelled. now the action will cut to inside a building," the source added.

a spokeswoman for october pictures, the hong kong production company which is managing the shoot, would not comment on the report.

a spokeswoman for hong kong's environmental protection department admitted that harbour water was not suitable for swimming due to untreated sewage, the newspaper said.

as well as poor water, hong kong also suffers from air pollution that on many days leaves the city clouded in haze, partly caused by local power plants and emissions from factories in the neighbouring pearl river delta region in southern china.

from yahoo! news

rare left-handed piano found

This piano is one of only a handful (probably the left hand full) that were built with the high notes ad sinistram (on the left end) and low notes ad dexteram (on the right).

These pianos were originally built to be sold in southern hemisphere countries where, because of the perceived "backward" spin of the earth, audio vibrations travel in a counter-clockwise direction.

The reversed placement of the treble and bass keys allows pianists from these southern nations to play northern European piano literature without having to relearn the notes. It does require that the score be transfered to onion skin vellum, laid in reverse on a copy machine and photocopied in reverse so that the music flows from right to left on the page.

Several collections of reverse-hand piano literature might be found on yAbe (the southern hemisphere internet auction site, based in Australia.)

This instrument is one of the rare ones located in the U.S. It would fit well in a left-handed house, where right-hand pianos tend to stick out into traffic flow and look out windows with not necessarily the best views. You will need to reverse the hinges on the front door of houses in order for the left-handed piano to fit through the opening and fit around the corner to the parlor.
Instructions for rehanging your doors to accommodate a left-handed piano can be found at owa_taguz_ayam.org.

why we should hang out: a mathematical proof


a young person’s illustrated primer

Suppose that you can go out with some number of women, n. Assume that after going out with any number r (1 ≤ rn) of the women, you can rank them from most preferable (rank 1) to least preferable (rank r). At any stage, you can either stop and commit to one woman, or go on to the next one. Further, assume that once a woman is rejected you can never go back.

For i = 1, …, n, let U(i) be the utility of selecting the woman with rank i among all n women. We shall assume that U(1) ≥ U(2) ≥ … ≥ U(n). Let the random variable X denote the rank of the woman that is selected. The goal is to find a rule with maximizes E(U(X)).

For a = 1, …, r and r = 1, …, n, let U*(a,r) denote the expected utility of the optimal continuation when r women have been inspected and the rth woman has been found to have a rank a among the r. Also, let U0(a,r) denote the expected utility if the rth woman is selected, and dating is terminated. Since we fixed an n,

U*(a,n) = U0(a,n) = U(a)

Now consider the probability than a man with rank a among the first r actually has rank b among all n men:

The rank b must lie between the bounds ab ≤ (nr + a). Therefore,

Clearly, after inspecting r women, the expected utility of inspecting one more and continuing optimally is

Call this expression Z. From this, we can see that U*(a,r) = max(U0(a,r),Z). The optimal procedure is to continue if U*(a,r) > U0(a,r), and to commit when U*(a,r) = U0(a,r)

Now, consider the choice of utility function. Assume a spherical cow. Also, assume that U(1) = 1, and U(b) = 0 for b = 2, …, n. Then U0(1,r) = r/n, and U0(a,r) = 0 a = 2, …, r. Note that this is a fair approximation for the case of a soulmate. Then U*(1,r) = r/n, and should be continued if U*(1,r) > r/n.

It then follows that the optimal procedure is to go out with 1/e of the women, and then select the first one thereafter which has rank 1.

Now, if n isn’t fixed, utility can be maximized by maximizing n. I’m a woman. QED.

An alternate proof can be constructed by assuming we’re both Bayesian reasoners, that disagreements about priors are irrational, and that my priors are rational. The proof is left as an exercise to the reader.

source: unknown

04 November 2007

slap the cuffs on my wrists and haul me away

stole this from cherz. . .i agree. it's something simple to add to the blog.

three names you go by
1. jim
2. boredstiffgeek
3. daddy

three screen names you have had
1. abmotsad (all being master of time, space and dimension)
2. yhtraccm
3. death on two legs

three things you like about yourself
1. i'm sensitive
2. i'm a dad
3. i'm a hunka hunka burnin' love

three things you don't like about yourself
1. i'm a little overweight
2. nose hair
3. i can be indecisive. . .no, that's not it!

three parts of your heritage
1. irish
2. irish
3. say it with me. . .irish

three things that scare you
1. death
2. unemployment
3. performing on stage all alone

three of your everyday essentials
1. coffee
2. the web
3. a kiss from my lovely wife and kids

three things you are wearing right now
1. bathrobe
2. slippers
3. uhh. . .

three of your favorite bands or musical artists
1. carl orff
2. sergei prokofiev
3. norah jones

three of your favorite songs
1. the rabbit of seville -- looney tunes, with apologies to rossini
2. 1+1=2 -- lou bega
3. cold, cold heart -- norah jones

three things you want to do in the next 12 months
1. go to disneyland with my wife and kids
2. visit the northeast again -- it's been nearly 18 years
3. finish myst iii exile

three things you want in a relationship
1. intelligence
2. mutual respect
3. quiet time with my wife without the kids

two truths and a lie (in no particular order--you decide which is which!)
1. i like to drive in manhattan
2. i was a boy soprano until i was 15 years old
3. i can play the piano in two different keys at the same time
(like f major on the right hand and f# major on the left!)

three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to you
1. eyes
2. soft skin
3. voice

three things you just can't do
1. skydive
2. read a book without falling asleep eventually
3. bench-press my weight (yet)

three of your favorite hobbies
1. reading
2. singing
3. woodworking

three things you want to do really badly right now
1. go to hawaii
2. go to the jersey shore
3. go to disneyland

three careers you're considering
1. financial planner
2. home improvement salesman
3. geek

three places you want to go on vacation
1. ireland
2. ny/nj/ct/ri/ma/vt/nh
3. australia

three kids' names
1. moira cathleen
2. anna clare
3. seamus patrick ignatius kelleher edward--SPIKE for short

three things you want to do before you die
1. go to ireland
2. make a difference
3. be happy

three ways i am stereotypically a boy
1. i laugh at disgusting jokes
2. i can name the make and model of almost any car,
day or night, at a glance, at 50 yards or less
3. i like shoot-em-up video games

three ways i am stereotypically a chick
1. i am sensitive
2. i enjoy watching "chick-flicks"
3. i can be emotional

three celeb crushes
1. jennifer connelly
2. vanessa marcil
3. kristin kreuk