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Monday, February 29, 2016

Rant #1,619: A-Musings

So, the Oscars for this year are over, thank goodness, and with it, hopefully this phony diversity thing, which is perhaps the biggest bunch of nonsense ever to come out of the PC years of our President, who spouts diversity so much that it has become to the detriment of our country that he has made us so scared to death of our own shadow.

Now, next year, there absolutely better be some black films and black performers nominated, or all hell will break loose. And that is even if these nominations aren't warranted, and have just been made so that a faction of the entertainment business is satisfied.

Snore ...

Now that that is over, what about the REALLY important stuff, the things that will really change our lives ... why don't we focus on those, and not this nonsense?

Let's focus on poor Salma Hayek. The actress cried to the press over the weekend that her dog had been shot, but she has no idea by whom.

She is an animal lover, and claims that her dog was murdered in cold blood on her ranch, shot right near the heart, extinguished forever.

This is a heinous crime, and I do feel her pain.

I am sure that "Dogs Lives Matter" protests are ready to be launched from coast to coast, but sorry, Salma, you are a beautiful woman, but I am too busy to join such protests.

My computer broke down yesterday, died in cold wires and electronics, and I need to attend to that first.

My PC is dead. And to show you how I believe in diversity, I have moved over to a Mac.

I had an old Mac that I bought from my work a few years ago, one that is probably also on its last legs, but it will have to do for now, as I am not going to run out and buy another computer just yet.

It is sturdy, but the screen has vertical lines running up and down on its both sides, moving toward the middle. All of our computers had this problem at work, and that is why we got rid of these computers a few years back and got new ones.

It is a quirk that makes these computer look kind of funny when they are being used, but for now, I have no choice.

I have tried to adapt all of my peripherals to the new computer, and since they were all geared to PCs, it has been difficult.

Some are computer bi-format--they go both ways, can be used by both PCs and Macs--but others are only for PCs, so I have had to do some legwork to get them Mac-ready, which can be done.

I haven't done everything yet, although I spent hours yesterday getting this thing in as good a running shape as possible.

Anyone who has done this knows that it isn't easy to do, but right now, I am typing this Rant out on my old new Mac, or is it my new old Mac?

How long this Mac will run is anyone's guess, but it will have to do for now.

So far, it is doing what I want it to do, so that is my one consolation.

But yes, I miss my PC.

No, I am not going to organize any "PC Lives Matter" protests, but yesterday, I have to say I was fit to be tied with this situation.

I am sure that this entire week, I will be getting this thing up to snuff.

Happily, I didn't lose that much data from the other machine when it went kaput. What I lost is either replaceable or just not worth replacing, so that really wasn't my main problem this weekend.

The main problem was getting this thing ready to go, and I am about 50 percent into that now.

So when people are screaming and yelling about diversity, I have bought into the plan lock, stock and barrel now that I am a Mac user both at work and at home.

And again, sorry about Hayek's dog, but I had my own dog of a weekend, and really, what's more replaceable, a dog or a computer?

Just joking, but I felt that the "death" in my family was at least as important as the death in her family.

Meaning, in plain English, that we will both survive.

I know that I will.

Classic Rant #269 (June 3, 2010): Bark! You Have Cancer!

Dog's are known as man's best friend, and based on a recent report from Parisian researchers, they potentially are REALLY our best friends.

According to the researchers, dogs can be trained to detect the characteristic odor of unique chemicals released into urine by prostate tumors.

Evidently, many cancerous tumors--not just from the prostate, but from other areas, including the breast and lung--release odors that can be detected by the extremely sensitive canine nose.

According to the researchers, it takes a year to train dogs to detect such odors, and their detection methods can be more reliable than those of the current tests that are used to detect such cancers.

Well, once again, dogs have been found to be the most helpful of all animals in keeping humans healthy and happy.

This does not surprise me. They say animals have no souls, and I completely disagree with that when it comes to dogs. If they didn't, then they wouldn't be so attuned to human beings.

They are the most dedicated of all animals to humans. Sure, they rely on us for everything they have, but they give back too.

When I see my dog, Max (not pictured), smile as he gets petted, or after we take him out to do his thing, I know that this dog has a soul.

He feels the love that we give him every day. He is nothing more than what you would call a house dog, but I swear he understands everything I say to him.

He is part of our family, and at 14 years old, you won't find a more trusted pet than Max.

And again, I am not an animal lover, per se.

But this pet is something else.

And now, if dogs can be trained to detect such cancers, wouldn't they be more than pets?

They would be our protectors, which would suit my family--and Max--just fine.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Rant #1,618: Mrs. Trump

As we move closer to the date when we are going to have to choose who the next president of the United States is, it is becoming clearer and clearer that Donald Trump's candidacy is far from a joke, and he might just have what it takes to at least be the Republican nominee, if not the actual president of our country.

He is a real estate mogul, a reality TV star, something of a creation of the time that he lives in.

He is P.T. Barnum and Robert Moses all rolled into one person, and you either love this guy or hate this guy; there seems to be no in between with Trump.

But he is hitting a nerve with a lot of people in this country, those who feel that they have become disenfranchised over the past eight years with Barack Obama at the helm.

You know what they say: behind every successful man is a successful woman, and it really is, for all intents and purposes, a true statement.

Who is Trump's wife, anyway?

He has been married several times--which, take it from somebody who has been there, done that, is not a terrible thing and should not be a mark against him--and currently, he is married to Melina, a Yugoslavian (now Slovenia) beauty who came to this country, made her mark mainly as a model, and who became an American citizen several years ago.

No, this is not Michelle Obama, or the wives of the Bushes, Jimmy Carter, even Ronald Reagan, and it certainly isn't Mr. Clinton's wife--this is another person who you can say is a creation of the times, a woman who came from little who might just become the First Lady of the United States.

If that happens, she will be only the second woman who has held that position who has been born out of the country, believe it or not.

I did some research on this, and I hope I got the Adams right, but John Adams' wife was not born here. Believe it or not, George Washington's wife was born here, in the Virginia colony years before we became a country. The other early first ladies all were born here, so if Trump is elected, his wife will just be the second foreign born first lady of our country's 240 years.

That, in itself, is an accomplishment, but wait for the firestorm of photos of her to emerge if, in fact, this happens ... or even if Trump is simply the Republican nominee for president.

Just look around the Internet, and there is plenty of food for fodder.

As a model, Melania posed in every conceivable type of photo, and some are saying that whatever the case, if her husband makes it all the way, she will be the "hottest" first lady ever, and those "pundits" may be right on the money.

She has posed in regular attire, in bikinis, in underwear, and I am sure she has posed in other things, or not other things if you get what I mean, and they are all available for your perusal on the Internet.

I have put up a couple of pictures here to show you the depth and breadth of what is available, but you can just bet that some photographer out there will probably have photos of her that he is just chomping at the bit to release to the world, perhaps showing her in more compromising situations.

Look, if Vanessa Williams can do it, can leap over this potential firestorm, then Melania can too.

If you remember the Williams thing, she had posed nude so she could eat years before she won the Miss America title, and then when the photos surfaced, she was forced to give up her crown.

All it did was make her more popular than any other Miss America winner, along with Bess Myerson, who stood out also for a reason that really should not have mattered as the first Jewish Miss America, and the rest is history.

But you have to bet that some photographer has itchy fingers now, and he or she is just waiting for the right moment to release these photos.

I can almost feel sorry for Mrs. Trump if and when this happens.

She will be open to ridicule, and yes, you have to say that if you pose in certain ways, it will be on your head forever that you did this.

That being said, I, for one, won't hold it against her. She was a model, and a model models. It is not like she was in some porn movie or something like that.

Will the liberated women of America feel the same way, or will they use this against her as a defense mechanism against her husband?

Who knows, but it should be interesting, even if all she did was pose in a bikini.

What other first lady has shown herself in a bikini, even if it was before their time as first lady?

I can't think of one, but in the Internet age, don't you think this situation was was somewhat inevitable?

Speak to you again on Monday. Have a good weekend.

Classic Rant #268 (June 2, 2010): Still Lost

Now that we are over a week removed from the "Lost" finale, I think it is time that I dissected the final plot nuances, the plot devices used, the metaphors and similes, the ...

No, I won't do that here.

As I said in a previous rant, I found "Lost" to be an intriguing show that kind of went off the deep end, and I am going to stay with that summation. The best seasons were the first and second, as the main crux of what was going on--the plane crashing and the castaways looking to do what they could to get off the island--were explored during this period.

Once they got into season three, things went haywire, the show lost a lot of its audience, and even those that stayed with the show had to scratch their heads at what was supposedly going on.

The final show did nothing to clear very much up, and left some loose ends that, well, if you want to believe the people involved with the show, are there for the audience to figure out themselves.

I guess that since this group had such a horrific experience together when they died in the plane crash--or at least as a result of the plane crash--that they had to go together as a group to heaven.

And that included those that they connected with, including loves and babies..

But they had to meet some challenges head-on to prove that they deserved a place behind the pearly gates.

One they met those challenges, the door was open to them--but they went in as a group.

Ben could not go with them because he never made the same physical and emotional connection with them that they had. He also had not yet met his challenges head-on like they did. His time would come later.

That is my reading of the last episode. We can argue until the end of our own time what it really meant. I think it is way open for interpretation.

Let me say that my favorite character on the show was Hurley. I thought that character was the moral compass of the island, its conscience, and the character ended up being the island's No. 1 protector. He never meant to be the hero, but he was one at the end.

Well, that's it. There really isn't much more to say about it ...

Although I am sure that it isn't the last word we will hear about the show.

And what of the actors who starred in the show?

Most, if not all, were unknowns or B-level actors. Sometimes a show like this tends to limit its actors when they want to do other things, typecasting them out of roles that they want.

I hope it doesn't happen to this group. You can tell that they embraced their roles, embraced the stardom that came from these roles, and I hope to see them do other things in the future that are not limited by what they've done in the past.

Will their abilities get "lost" now that the show is over?

Let's hope not.

Now, what about the smoke monster ...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rant #1,617: Out of Work; Out of Touch

When I have a few moments to kill, one of the things I usually do is go through my Yahoo home page to see if there is anything interesting there to write about here at Ranting and Raving.

Sometimes I find some interesting stuff, but most times, honestly, I don't find really anything much to talk about.

Lately, I have seen an increasing number of entries on my Yahoo home page that are related to work experiences, and one that pops up frequently contains links to stories about people who are out of work, who are actively looking for new jobs, and who are rebuffed for one reason or another.

Some of these people have been out of work six months, a year, two years, three years, even longer, and no one will hire them to do much of anything, whether in their field or outside of their field.

Many are 50 and older, and some are as young as in their 30s. They aren't counted in the monthly unemployment report, because they have completely fallen off the radar, don't get benefits anymore, and evidently, don't count, period, in some people's eyes.

They have been to interview after interview with no success, and their stories are finding their way onto various sites, and they are being picked up by Yahoo, finding their way to my home page.

I have found the most frequently asked question of those who have been out of work for an extended period of time is: "Why have you been out of work so long?"

While it is a question that really doesn't have a clear, 100 percent foolproof answer, it is a question that most people doing the hiring for their company ask, and yes, it is an annoying question.

What difference does it make how long one has been out of work? The person is interviewing with you, so that means that they are supposedly interested in your qualifications based on your background, so what difference does it make why the interviewee has been out of work for so long?

I have been unemployed for two extended times during my career--for about 18 months in the early 1990s and for three or four months at the end of 1995 and into the early spring of 1996.

Both times were really bad times for me to be out of work.

And I mean, really bad, in particular, the first instance.

The first time, I was going through my divorce, and being out of work probably held up the divorce for at least six months, as we were well on our way to getting this done when I lost my job due to the real estate nosedive in the late 1980s-early 1990s.

I came from real estate, and since that area was in what can be called a depression, people like me--with no connections at all--couldn't get arrested during that time. I had many interviews, sent out many resumes--I had to prove to the court that I was trying to find work, and sent out upwards of 800 resumes during that pre-Internet period--and I really did my my due diligence in trying to find work.

However, I was so linked up to real estate, that I was in something of a bind, because since that area was so dead at the time, well, so was I, at least in some people's minds.

I got interviewed for many jobs, but the question that I talked about before did dog me a bit: "Why have you been out of work so long," as the days became weeks and then became months.

My reply was pretty much a standard one: "It has to do with the current business environment. I was in real estate, and that market is not a good one right now," or something like that. And yes, I told them that I had some freelance jobs during that time off of regular work, didn't sit home twiddling my thumbs ...

I don't know if that was the correct response, or the right way to phrase it, but it was the truth.

It didn't ever get me a job--it probably hindered me--but I could not lie.

Sure, there were other factors, or so I was told--I was overqualified, they were going in a different direction (I particularly loved to hear that from them--if that was so, why did they interview me in the first place?), somebody else was chosen for the job (ditto what I just said), etc.

I know I was discriminated against for my age--I was in my 30s at the time, and in some quarters, that is considered old--and probably once or twice because of my race or gender.

But go prove that to anybody.

Anyway, I did get hired, eventually, did get fired, eventually, and was out of work right after my son was born, which was both good and bad. Good, because I got to bond with him in a way that I could not have if I had a job, and bad, because, well, I wasn't working.

It took a few months, but I was able to get back on my feet again with a new job, the one I have to this day, nearly 20 years later.

And since I was out about three of four months, give or take a few days, the question about "Why have you been out of work so long?" did not hinder me, because it was "only" three or four months; of course to me, it felt like an eternity.

Look, I know that potential employers are there not only to interview you, but to test you, test your quickness, and test your wits when they go through the interviewing process, and perhaps asking "Why have you been out of work so long?" is actually a subtle test, to see how you will respond to such a question.

But I know it is a question that I dreaded answering, because while there is no definitive answer, while there is no "right" or "wrong" answer, you can only hang yourself if you give a reply that the interviewer doesn't understand, doesn't get, and/or doesn't accept.

I know I had a lot of those, but I said the truth in my answers, so I felt if the potential employer was going to be so petty, this was probably a place that I didn't want to work for, anyway.

And I just love reading what the supposed "experts" have to say about that question.

You cannot be an expert on how to answer that question, and, for that matter, about the entire job of looking for a job, unless you, yourself, have been out of work.

Having "been there" and "done that" makes you an expert, not these phonies who, somehow, have been lucky enough to have been employed their entire working lives.

And to really understand what someone in this situation is going through, you have to have been out of work sometime in your life for an extended period of time, and I mean at least six months.

Being out of work for that amount of time plays on your ego, your self worth, how you evaluate your skills and what you can do, and it plays on your very being.

If you haven't had this experience, take it from me, it is as debilitating as it sounds.

I remember that I made finding a job my daily job, one that I got paid for with primarily a lot of headaches and aggravation.

It was demoralizing, it was strenuous, but I kept plodding on, and finally, I was hired, and seemingly didn't have to worry about such things happening anymore ... until it happened the next time.

And to be completely demoralized, and then have "Why have you been out of work for so long" thrown at you ... you might be out of work, but let me tell you, those interviewing you are so way out of touch with what is happening to keep you out of work that I really have to wonder who is better off being where they are, them or you?

Classic Rant #267 (June 1, 2010): Peace … And Then, Back To Work

I know that Memorial Day is supposed to be a day that we celebrate all of our service members that have fought for this country in all of its wars and conflicts.

I know that we should take a moment and try to understand that without our service people's efforts, we would not enjoy the freedoms that we have.

I know, I know ...

But let's be honest about it, for most of us, Memorial Day means that summer is right around the corner.

The holiday welcomes in summer with beachgoing, barbecues and baseball, all of which my family and I did this holiday weekend.

We watched baseball on TV. We will be going to Yankee Stadium in two weeks, so watching baseball on TV just pumped us up for that game.

We had a barbecue yesterday, nothing too large, but it went very well, pumping us up for the major barbecue we are going to have on July 10 for my old community's reunion.

And we went to the beach, but not to swim, as we visited Montauk Point--the home of the fabled lighthouse and the absolute end of Long Island. You can't swim there, but you can relax, and although we were there for maybe two hours, that is what we tried to do.

About Montauk Point ... it is slightly less than 100 miles to there from where we live, and we hadn't visited there in six or seven years, or when my son was half the age he is now. We brought a picnic lunch, and we sat on the beach for quite a long time. You can't swim there--it is not allowed and it is very rocky anyway--but you can sit there to look out at the vast ocean. You can see boaters lolling the day away, and others fishing, hoping to make that big catch.

You can also visit the actual lighthouse, which we did several years ago. I think my son got claustrophobia inside there, as it is very tight and there is not much breathing room.

This time, we didn't go inside. It was so nice outside--maybe in the low 80s with a breeze and little or no humidity--that we decided there was no reason to go inside.

We left in the middle of the afternoon, and stopped at a Carvel where we bought some ice cream--or I thought we were buying ice cream. My wife and son got what they wanted, and I asked for a vanilla shake. They made it for me, but after one sip, I tasted bad milk--it was sour as all hell--and gave it back to them. They didn't offer me another one, nor did they throw out the milk that they used for my sour shake. They didn't charge me, and I wouldn't have paid for it if they had.

Yesterday, on the actual holiday, in addition to the barbecue, we visited an old friend who is in the hospital. It is never nice visiting a hospital, especially for someone who is truly sick, but I am sure our visit--actually my wife visited, my son and I sat in the waiting area--brightened up my wife's friend's day.

That brought me back to reality.

Sure, I had the actual holiday to rest, but today, it's back to work. No more relaxing on the beach, no more barbecues (for now), and I can watch baseball tonight on TV as we get closer to the day we actually go to the game.

It is supposed to rain today, which I hope does not happen, because my son has his last track meet of the school year this afternoon. He won the 55 meter race the last time out, so I would love it if they somehow held it today. But it is supposed to be miserable ...

And yes, work and misery go hand in hand.

I have to keep telling myself, "Vacation comes at the end of next month ... You are getting closer to vacation ... It will be here before you know it ... "

Yes, I have to keep telling myself that. Repeatedly.