pyesetz: (woof)
On Thursday, President Trump announced that if the Republicans did not pass the replacement healthcare system by Friday, then he would drop the matter and stay with ObamaCare (which remember is basically the same as RomneyCare, which was a Republican initiative to begin with).  On Friday, as expected, the replacement plan did not pass because it wasn't mean enough to poor people.  Here we are on Monday night and apparently the TrumpCare plan remains dead.

This is the correct outcome!  The Repubs have been saying for seven years that they would "repair or replace" ObamaCare, which they hated because Barack Obama has black skin.  (It couldn't have been because of anything *in* the plan, because Obama had copied it from the Repubs to begin with.)  For seven years they fundraised off racist donors who hated a plan that helps Black people more than Whites.  The (R)'s won the 2016 election, in part, by promising to get rid of ObamaCare and make Black people die in the gutter as God intended.  But of course they can't actually do that.  ObamaCare, like MediCare, is now a permanent entitlement.  Too many voters are getting benefits from it and it would cost too many votes to get rid of it.

So how did Trump get out of this unimplementable campaign promise, this "pre-existing condition" signature issue of the Republican party?  He made a big show of *trying* to pass a lame attempt at replacement, which of course failed, and then he dusted off his hands, declared failure, and moved on.  End of campaign promise!  ObamaCare is now the law of the Republican land — which is the right answer for America.  Of course, ObamaCare is a stinking pile of rotting garbage compared to what Canadians get, or what most every well-off country on the planet offers to their citizens (except Andorra — what is wrong with those people?).  But Americans can't have nice things, so ObamaCare is the best they can do.  And Trump has now announced what amounts to bipartisan support for it.  Such a nice president!

I sometimes wonder whether the ban-on-some-Muslims is a similar trick.  Trump repeated that promise over and over during the campaign because it got such big roars from the crowd, but banning Muslims will not Make America Great Again.  We've tried that before.  Banning Chinese people did not MAGA.  Putting quotas on Catholic immigrants did not MAGA.  Throwing all the Japanese-looking people into concentration camps did not MAGA.  We know this approach doesn't actually help with anything except generating applause at election rallies.  So Trump has twice now issued an "executive proclamation" in which he appears to be trying to keep his campaign promise to ban Muslims, only to be shut down by Conservative judges appointed by President W.  Did Trump know that would happen?  Was the whole Muslim-ban just a feint to get out of a inadvisable campaign promise?

And how about "Mexico will pay for the wall"?  What a great applause line that was!  But it seems pretty clear that Donald has no idea how to make it actually happen.  Somehow he will need to make an attempt, declare failure, and move on.  Might I suggest that the USA buy something for Canada, which then buys something for Mexico, which then buys the wall for the USA?  It's a three amigos gift exchange!  I can't imagine anything else that could possibly work.
pyesetz: (woof)
This article by Anis Shivani is very good, but perhaps overlong.  He thinks Trump is more like Mussolini than Hitler; I would like to have also seen some mention of Silvio Berlusconi as an analogue for Trump.

Shivani correctly notes that Donald's policies are not really that much different from W.'s or Barack's, because both (D) and (R) parties subscribe to the neoliberal ideology.  Only the rhetorical flourishes are different, but otherwise the new boss is the same as the old boss.  Obama said he loved DREAMers, but deported 2.5 million of them.  Trump says he hates Mexicans, but deported fewer of them in his first month than Obama did in his.  It is always a mistake to believe what a politician says.

Ralph Nader is mentioned once, but only as an avatar for the uselessness of protest against the neoliberal agenda.  If you're a millennial American, Mr. Shivani says you should move to Canada or Europe (but says that he himself is too old to move).  I disagree slightly, since it seems that Trump is markedly more willing to listen to protests than Bush Jr or Obama were.  Still, the point stands that the rise of American Fascism over the last 30 years will probably continue until the USA loses a war in a big way — and surely you don't want to be drafted for that, so what's the point of hanging around to protest?  Like the Jews from Germany, young liberal Americans should get out while you still can.

"Anis Shivani" is an Muslim name, but Mr. Shivani's bio does not talk about his ethnicity.  He assumes without evidence that Trump will surely start a new war in the Middle East, but this is based on historical trends and possibly unconnected with any personal interest that Shivani might have in that area.  He idly fantasizes about Trump nuking Iran, which I think is mistaking style for substance — but who knows?
pyesetz: (woof)

Recently, the world-famous blogger Pharyngula (who is actually Professor P.Z. Myers of UMinn/Morris) noted that the president was running an online survey, so he asked his minions to screw it up by choosing their answers to "go against the result the poll is engineered to generate".  I generally like Pharyngula, although he is sometimes too willing to conflate "scientifically proven" with "true".  (Newton's laws were scientifically proven for over 300 years, but they were false the entire time.  F = m⋅a is a statement about the universe that you can only "prove" if your equipment isn't very precise.)

So anyway, I clicked on the link to the poll, even though it seems politically incorrect to visit a page that has "DonaldJTrump" right there in its URL.  Oh noes — my address bar is displaying Voldemort's name!  But really, the poll isn't so bad, if you are willing to let the president speak his own icky Republican language.

The poll asks 25 questions, for 13 of which I am able to give the answers that The Donald wanted to evoke.  That's over half!  Maybe this guy isn't so bad.  I suppose it's time for me to bore you with my rundown on his poll.

Read more... )

In other news, Craig Deare has lost his job at the National Security Council and returned to his previous job of Dean of Administration at the National Defense University (née the National War College).  Deare had to go because he is an expert on Mexico and Trump doesn't want to hear opinions that disagree with his own — and Deare couldn't keep his mouth shut about that, which was fatal.  Now *this* is the Trump Administration that I was expecting!  It doesn't matter that Trump's initial cabinet is the "worstest ever" because many of these people will not last long on the executive payroll.
pyesetz: (woof)

Wil Wheaton is depressed.  His preferred candidate did not win the election.  That's understandable.  The election told him things he didn't want to know about the people of the country he lives in, so now he is caught in a whirlpool of lies he tells himself that make him feel bad while avoiding the real issues.  Having studied his affliction, he is only too aware that the things he says to himself are not true (such as the climate of Los Angeles, which actually gets an average of 35 rainy days each year) but his self-knowledge that he is in a whirlpool of his own making does not cause the waters to recede.  There are things I could say to him, but they would not make him feel better, so I'll say them here instead.

Star Trek: The Original Series was a fantasy.  It wasn’t *really* an egalitarian paradise, it just *said* it was.  The Federation *said* it came in peace, but Captain Kirk & crew were constantly starting wars with planets whose only real crime was disagreeing with them about the proper philosophy of government.  The Federation were a bunch of self-righteous bullies, much like the Americans of the 1960’s and the Hillary-voters of today.  Sometimes it seemed the only reason the Federation fought with the Klingon Empire was because they were in constant need of some enemy to fight in order to justify their militaristic society; this also seemed to be Hillary’s only reason for picking a fight with Russia.

American presidential elections are morality plays: the lesser-evil candidate wins.  The candidates spend the entire election lying about everything, trying to create the impression that they are evil enough to deserve mega-donations yet somehow good enough to deserve votes.  You can’t believe a word that either of them says about anything.  If you allow yourself to believe the hype, you’ll get a post-election depression even if your preferred candidate wins.  I remember when Barack Obama won, and started doing stuff that did not match his campaign rhetoric.  The phrase “hyperdimensional chess” was briefly popular among Democrats.  You see, Obama must be playing a game in which he pretends to be evil in order to better position himself for doing good things later.  But “later” never came and eventually people realized that Obama is just another corrupt politician like all the others.  I like to think that Barack does actually *want* to do good (such as the ACA), but most of the time he just can’t because of the constant overriding need to suck up to Wall St in order to have any ability to get anything at all done.  The presidency does not have as much independence of action as many people like to think.  Our current president is Black but still life sucks for ordinary Black Americans; the president-elect is a White supremacist but I expect that life will continue to suck for ordinary Whites (though less than Blacks).  We are in year 16 of what will probably be a 20-year global economic recession and there isn’t much that a president can do about that.

I found Hillary’s campaign rhetoric to be extremely offensive.  Donald’s misogyny makes him completely unfit for the presidency, but Bill Clinton’s very similar misogyny was — shut up, don’t talk about my husband!  Hillary’s actions in Ukraine and Syria probably amounted to war crimes, but — Shut Up!  Hillary has NEVER done ANYTHING wrong EVER!!!  Hillary’s adamant refusal to secure her email server showed appallingly bad judgment and probably should result in her being banned from having a security clearance — SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP DONALD IS A POOPY HEAD THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW.  But you can’t win an election by telling people to shut up all the time.

pyesetz: (woof)
(Brown text = post-election edits.)

It’s been almost six years(!) since the last time I linked to the blog of my American friend and colleague, Dr. J.  Gotta cross-link to your homies to keep our Google rankings up!  Anyway, Dr. J works for the US gov’t, so he may be obligated to write political tracts in support of the incoming Stalinist dictator Constitutionally-limited president.  He published this tract on a Sunday, perhaps to hide the fact (if it is one) that he was required to write it on paid government time.  There is a law against that, but it’s widely ignored like most good-government laws in the USA.

The didactic form that Dr. J chose is the “in an alternate universe, Hillary is actually guilty of something” meme, which isn’t bad as propaganda styles go.  Certainly it is less objectionable than the style chosen by Dr. Phil Plait, who basically starts from the reasonable “Global Warming is the most important issue” and the unreasonable ”politicians do not lie” and somehow manages to conclude that Hillary is the best candidate — even though she is pro-WWIII and Donald is against it and the world wars show up as spikes on the historical temperature chart.  So I guess I could perhaps join in on this fun, although personally I endorse Jill Stein because she tells the fewest lies.

Before we begin, I should note that Dr. J’s piece is actually funny, which is probably more than I can hope to achieve with my own work.  His Churchillian grammar reference is excellent and I found myself agreeing with the imaginary crowd furious at Hillary’s misquote.  It’s “shall not”, I say!  Yet even in an alternate universe, it is still the anti-Hillary forces that are correct.

Alternate Universe № ❰∞,∞,∞,26,∞,0,19,∞̅…❱ (see supernatural numbers, which I don’t actually believe in because ∞ is a figment of the mathematical imagination; Objective Reality probably doesn’t contain any numbers larger than around 10⁸⁵ or so).
      Conceit: In this universe (which we can never locate because its ID number is transfinite), Hillary actually had a legitimate reason to operate her honeypot email server that provided live feeds to Russia and Al Qaeda and Goldman Sachs containing the classified info that she received.
      Resulting difference: Not much, really.  The Espionage Act of 1917 says it applies to everyone, including the president.  It does not offer any exemption for politicians who possess a legitimate national-security reason to burn an agent’s cover; if that action results in another agent’s death then the politician is supposed to get the electric chair.  So Hillary Clinton is basically in the same category as Dick Cheney.
Alternate Universe № 5.2761 (but keeping in mind that fractional numbers which are not ratios might not actually exist; they might instead be mere measurement conveniences arising from the enormous gap between human-sized units and physics-sized ones).
      Conceit: In this universe, Hillary actually still has a shred of decency left in her, so she does not make a big deal of Donald’s misogynistic ways.  Because, you know, her husband Bill has done most of the same things — except only Donald dared to talk about it when he knew the mic was on, thus showing that Donald is an idiot.  And Hillary has insisted all along that absolutely nothing Bill has ever done was actually wrong, so therefore (for her) those same things should also not have been wrong when Donald did them.  Donald's contemptible attitude toward women could certainly be criticized by other Democrats (such as Huma Abedin, who divorced her own husband for less) but this would lead to questions about Bill that Hillary doesn't want to hear.
      Resulting difference: None.  It doesn’t matter which acts of muck-raking Hillary decides are beneath her (if any).  Barack Obama has already announced that the winner of the election shall be Hillary.  He has also hinted that if for any reason the vote-counting machines ring up “Donald” as their answer, that could only mean that the machines were hacked by the Russians because the American people do not have permission from their president to vote for Donald.  HeilHillary!  It outta be a crime not to love her!
Alternate Universe № 3141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375110⁴⁹.  (This ratio *might* be the true value of π, if transcendental numbers do not actually exist.  In any event, because our home universe is quantized, there is probably no physical experiment that could ever be performed which would prove that this *isn’t* the true value of π.)
      Conceit: In this universe, Hillary is openly working for Goldman Sachs, the vampire squid that wants to RULE THE WORLD by installing its Manchurian candidates as the leaders of all major governments.  None of the policies she espouses on the campaign trail have anything to do with her actual plans for her presidency, which consist of transferring all remaining wealth from Main St to Wall St while waging a causeless war against Russia in order to bring about the Nuclear Apocalypse, thus ensuring the Second Coming of Jesus Christ among the poor bedraggled survivors on a burnt-out planet.
      Resulting difference: Um, there seems to be a technical glitch in our Inter-Universal Counterfactuality gizmo.  Apparently the ID number for this “alternate universe” is actually a synonym of our own.  Anyway, by the Reflexive Property, there cannot be any difference between two universes that differ only in name and not in character.
pyesetz: (spirograph)
"Fox News offered former anchor Gretchen Carlson 20 million dollars and an apology after she spent years being sexually harassed by Roger Ailes, who looks like they tried to clone Alfred Hitchcock but the DNA was incomplete so they just filled it in with genetic material from a Basset hound, mashed potatoes, and the mumps, which they then stirred around in a Waffle House toilet after the toilet had just looked at the Ark of the Covenant."

---Chris Hardwick, host of @Midnight



Jul. 30th, 2016 11:47 am
pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
I don't believe the polls that say Donald is leading.  The media need to create the illusion of a close race in order to sell their ads.  Actually, a vote for anyone other than Donald (or no vote at all) is a vote for Hillary because she has convinced everyone that the election is rigged in her favour and her coronation is now assured unless something catastrophic happens (such as Hillary spending 100× as much as Donald on TV ads, causing everyone to become sick to death of her and voting for him just as a protest).

But protest votes can be dangerous, as England and Wales discovered recently.  It was widely believed that the Brexit was rigged and the "Leave the EU" side would not be permitted to win, so there was no harm in voting for it as a protest against rigged elections.  But there were so many protest votes that "Leave" actually won — and then, unexpectedly, the government accepted the will of the people.  Something like that seems like the only way Donald could win.

I might be willing to vote for Jill Stein as a protest vote (she's pro-Bernie and not actually anti-vax but just anti-FDA/CDC corruption; also she lives in my boyhood hometown).  But Jill is not on the ballot in New Jersey and probably can't get on it by November because NJ is a party-machine state and the Greens have never won more than a schoolboard seat there.  So I guess I'll let Hillary win by not voting for anyone.

Here in Canada, the Liberals are using the American election as a fund-raiser.  This is perhaps typically-Canadian passive-aggressive behaviour in that if you don't know what's going on, it's not even clear that they're dissing the Yanks with this ad.  I would summarize this as, "You should donate to the Liberals because they don't make Canadians feel embarrassed about their country, unlike *some* parties on this continent!"

The improper use of the "success baby" meme is just icing on the cake.
pyesetz: (woof)

Thank you for your words.  It's great that you have found a candidate to believe in.  Please enjoy the feeling that there is a candidate out there who actually *deserves* your vote.  But please also do keep in mind the fact that your preferred candidate has feet of clay.

> Please explain to me just one single possible fraudulent criminal act that you think Hillary is guilty of.

Hillary personally accepted a bribe of $675,000 from Goldman Sachs, an enemy of the Free World that some call the vampire squid because of its desire to install Manchurian candidates in most every national government.  The money was supposed to be for “speeches” but Hillary is unable to produce even redacted transcripts for those speeches, nor has anyone come forward to say they attended, likely because the speeches never actually happened.  Of course, Hillary is quite capable of giving actual speeches, so she didn’t *need* to lie about what the money was for, but she lied anyway.  This “cheating for its own sake” seems to be a repeating pattern with her.  Anyway, selling speeches and then not delivering them is fraud, and it is a crime to take a bribe in exchange for protecting banksters from the jail-time that they deserve.

Hillary did not *need* to cheat in order to win Nevada.  She certainly didn’t need to have “her” people, supposedly-neutral party apparachiks, blatantly treat the delegates differently based on whom they were pledged to.  There was no need to bring in police to protect her cronies from the nonexistent violence of those whom they had just wronged.  There was no need for the police to all be dressed in brownshirts, as if the Democratic Party were comprised of Nazis.  There was no actual need for any of this; it was all for show.  “Vote for me because I’m a corrupt politician who cheats and gets away with it.”  There are apparently Republicans who find this behaviour attractive, but I don’t.

Voting in Phoenix was so bad, we cannot know how many delegates Hillary truly deserves.  Hillary could have made a show of tut-tutting the people who did this, insisting that everyone should have the right to get their vote counted in this free country.  Al Gore might have refused to accept the votes of tainted delegates, but Hillary is not Al.

The City of New York is auditing the Board of Elections because it deleted 126,000 people, overweighted with college students, from the party rolls at the last minute, without notice or explanation or reason, apparently for fear that some of them might possibly vote for Bernie.  This is not what one might call “a free and fair election”.  This is just as wrong as when Republicans delete Blacks from the voter rolls for fear that some of them might vote for a Democrat.  Again, Hillary could have made a statement that what happened in NYC was wrong.  She did not.  How many delegates from New York does Hillary actually deserve?  We don’t know, and Hillary seems perfectly okay with that.  I’m not.  This is election-tampering.  It doesn’t matter that Republicans do it too; I expect better of Democrats.  It doesn’t matter that nobody ever goes to jail for it.  Interfering with elections is still a crime.  Did Hillary give the order to delete those voters?  What did she know and when did she know it?  If the USA were a free country, we would have the right to expect an investigation.  Maybe it was the local office acting on their own initiative, hoping to curry favour with the Clinton-leaning national party establishment; or maybe she’s guilty as sin.  I don’t know.

> Trump beat his wife, grabbed her hair and forcibly raped her.  And Hillary is worse?

Why no, actually.  Donald is a racist sexist pig and I certainly wouldn’t want to be a member of his household.  There are reports that Hillary’s mean streak is a mile wide, so maybe her household isn’t a nice place to be, either.  I don’t think I would want to have a beer with either of them.  But we were talking about which person would make better decisions as president.

> E-mail server? No crime there. If it were, Colin Powell would be under investiation.

You cannot conclude that something isn’t a crime just because a Republican is observed to get away with it.  Hillary’s private server was illegal, just like Colin’s.  But no one is claiming that Colin ran a deliberately-insecure server that allowed foreign governments to steal classified information.  Hillary’s two excuses for this behaviour are basically that she’s ”often confused” (≈ McCain’s “senior moment”?) and also she ”doesn’t know much about computers”.  Either of these excuses would explain why the server was insecure when originally set up, but neither explains why it stayed that way for four years.  Lots of people tried to get her to fix it, but she told them to never speak of the Secretary’s personal email server again.  This is not the behaviour of a person who doesn’t know much about computers and becomes concerned when someone tells her she’s using them wrong.  This is not a person having a brief senior moment and then coming to her senses when the next person brings up the same issue.  This is a Manchurian candidate who *wanted* the server to be insecure.  So who is she working for?  Maybe I’m naïve, but I just can’t imagine Hillary as a secret agent for Russia or China.  Maybe Saudi Arabia, but most likely Goldman Sachs.

Read more... )
pyesetz: (woof)

Our room.  Kid #1’s attempts to avoid getting sick on this vacation have *mostly* worked, but she seems to be coming down with something now.

UPS store (Celebration FL, 11:09am).  $5.89 for a 12×12×20 box to contain additional stuff to be sent home that does not fit in the 18×18×18 box that we sent down here.  This is our estimated amount of additional space needed (in cubic inches), based on a variety of “test packs” of the old box with various combinations of the items to send home.
      Celebration is an unincorporated city (pop. 7,427) which started life as a Disney company town where they sold timeshares.  It has since been disowned and is now a mostly-separate entity (Disney still provides electricity and telephone services.)  My understanding is that the UPS store does not pay rent to Disney, but it’s hard to tell.

Landscape of Flavors (11:30am).  Skim milk (it’s a “snack”) for Kid #2’s breakfast cereal in our room.

Our room.  Final pack of the two boxes.

UPS store (2:45pm).  $187.83 to mail both boxes back to Canada.  Kid #2 carries the old box (all clothing), which is 46 lbs and awkward; some of the clothing is packed into Vacu-Seal bags and is very dense, while other bits of clothing are just thrown in loosely.  I carry the new box, which is 30 lbs.  I tell UPS that half the new box is new souvenirs and snacks, half Canadian-origin stuff, while the old box is entirely Canadian-origin material.  Estimated shipping time is four business days.
      It’s hard to tell for sure, but I think that the old box (which is overweight) would have cost $95 to have Allegiant fly it up with us, while the new box would have cost $45.  So in total we paid about $48 extra to avoid the checked-baggage hassle and to get $1000 of insurance on the box of clothes.

Epcot.  Our last day at the parks.  This second visit to Epcot was planned for day 9 but had to be postponed.  The original plan for today had us visiting the the Magic Kingdom yet again, but we’ve been there, done that, got the fridge magnet.
     Attractions visited today: Club Cool, a ferry, Tangierine Café (Wifey and Kid #1, lunch 4:17pm), Katsura Grill (Kid #2 and I, lunch 4:20pm), Karamell-Küche (take-home, 5:14pm), another ferry, Gran Fiesta Tour, ImageWorks (just Wifey, take-home 6:43pm), Northwest Mercantile (except Wifey, souvenirs), Journey into Imagination, and Soarin (Kid #1 and I).  We had hoped to go on Spaceship Earth again, but are just too tired.  There is a cast member at Living with the Land who confirms that it is scheduled to reopen tomorrow, and we have unused park tickets, but the effort required seems excessive (get back here for just one ride, then make our plane flight).
      Club Cool used to be Ice Station Cool which had a dirty-and-wet igloo you walked through to get to the Coke-branded tasting station.  Now you just walk into the station.  I try the pineapple soda, which is as good as I remember, and also the guarana soda which does not sit well in my stomach — maybe I drank it too fast.  Guarana is often used in energy drinks.
      The first ferry takes us to the Moroccan pavillion.  It has a female pilot (who is actually in control of the boat, which is not on a track) and a male “captain” (who just reads his lines to the passengers).
      At Katsura Grill, I note that the waitstaff are all Japanese nationals as expected.  But the cookstaff (actually making the Japanese food) are all Black Americans.  Is Japan trying to show off how racist it is, or is this just Florida (which remains part of the Confederate South)?  Anyway, the food isn’t great.  My dessert is strawberry+adzuki ice cream, which tastes halfway between a fruit and a bean.
      Karamell-Küche is obviously sponsored by Werther’s caramel company of Berlin (although they also offer some fresh-baked stuff).  Wifey spends a snack-credit on a bag of caramels to take home.
      We take a second ferry from Germany towards Mexico (the park layout does not match the geography of the Earth).  We have to wait at the dock for a shift-change.  I note that both old and new crews consist of a female pilot and a male “captain”, so I guess these roles specify required genders for the cast members.
      The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros is awful.  What it looks like to me is that Mexico stopped sponsoring the pavillion, so Disney took vengeance upon them by replacing El Rio Del Tiempo (which was basically an ad for the Mexico Tourist Board) with a ride in which Donald Duck makes fun of Mexican stereotypes.  Let this be a lesson to you all: this is what will happen to your country if you ever stop giving the benjamins to DisneyCorp!
      At ImageWorks, Wifey gets another box of mints to use up a snack credit.
      It’s a long walk to the Canada pavillion, so Wifey sits on a bench at the Showcase Plaza.  At Northwest Mercantile Trading Post, Kid #1 thinks the selection of products is much like any tourist trap back home; she buys a Mickey-in-Canada pin for $9.54 (says Disney in their final-accounting email; missing receipt).  Kid #2 uses a penny-squishing machine for 50¢ (plus 1¢ for the penny).  The machine embosses an image of the Epcot Canada pavillion, but on the other side you can clearly see that the penny had been minted in Canada in 1968.  “It’s Canadian on both sides,” he says.  We generally think of Kid #2 as the most “normal” member of our family, but is it normal to decide that the best use for your 47-year-old penny, no longer legal tender in its country of origin, is to squish it into a souvenir?
      The cast member who is staffing the Trading Post wears a nametag that says she is from Etobicoke ON, so I ask her if the ‘k’ is pronounced.  “No, it is /ɛ.ˈtoʊ.bɨ.ˌkoʊ/,” she says, clearly annoyed with the number of mispronunciations she hears.  It turns out that this is her second stint at Disney World; for her first stint they gave her a nametag that said “Brampton ON” (where she lives) but this time they are making her wear Etobicoke (where she was born).  Kid #1 says it’s a good thing that our 15-year-old nametags don’t give our places of origin, because we moved to Canada after getting them.  The cast member says she saw someone wearing one of these old nametags at a D23 event.  I tell her that, of the 65,000 cast members at Disney World, she is the first one we’ve run into who has *ever* seen one of these things before.  (I am fairly sure that neither of my children has any idea what D23 is, nor have they ever been to Brampton, nor gotten off the highway when they were passing through what used to be Etobicoke, which was dissolved in 1998 and amalgamated into Toronto.)  Anyway, a pleasant enough conversation with a homie.
      Journey into Imagination stars Eric Idle.  There is a picture of Robin Williams on the wall, but he has no lines.
      At Soarin, I note that the dark splotch does not seem to be in a specific place on the screen, but depends on where I am looking.  Perhaps it is actually a blind spot in my eye and not a defect in the ride?

Everything Pop (at Disney’s Pop Century Resort, dinner 8:45pm).  I haven’t been too pleased with our own resort’s food, so we try the Pop Century resort down the street, but things keep going wrong.  I try to go through the automated entry-lane for the parking lot, but my credential is rejected (apparently this resort restricts the automated entry just for guests staying at Pop Century, not for all current guests like elsewhere).  I have to back up and go through the staffed entry; the cast member’s handheld reader makes a happy noise when scanning my wristband, so he lets me in.  I try to get a tuna sandwich, but the line I select does not move — everyone is getting create-your-own salad.  Finally I get the sandwich and go to a checkout line, but it does not move — the cashier is having an extended conversation in Spanish with some other guests.  When she finally gets to me, she wants to have an extended conversation in English, but my family is sitting on a bench outside the food court so I just wish she’d hurry up.  By the time I finally get the food back to our room, I don’t feel like eating it, so it sits in the fridge until tomorrow morning.

Ink and Paint (9:08pm).  Wifey pays $23.27 for a scarf, plus $2.12 for an Animal Conservation button.

Landscape of Flavors (dinner, 9:15pm).  Create-your-own pasta for Wifey and the kids.

pyesetz: (woof)

Walmart (via telephone).  They want $118 for the small bottle of ofloxacin!

CentraCare (Lake Buena Vista FL, via telephone).  They haven’t restocked on ofloxacin since yesterday.  They say that their price is not based on insurance, but on their “actual cost” as a nonprofit organization.  They give me the number of the next-closest CentraCare.

CentraCare (Orange Lake FL, via telephone).  They have the ofloxacin for $27, but they cannot sell it to me unless Kid #2 is seen by one of their own doctors; a doctor from another office of the same company is not good enough!  “We’re not a pharmacy,” they say, but I suspect the problem is that there are only extremely limited situations in which they are allowed to sell drugs without the 300% markup that is otherwise required in the US in order to support the Medical-Industrial Complex. sells otic ofloxacin for $29; they get away with that by claiming it’s only for dogs+cats.

TD/Allianz (via telephone).  It’s Saturday.  The telephone number they told me to use for “claim in progress” is not staffed on weekends.

Walgreens (Orlando FL, 11:22am).  A different Walgreens, just over the city line from Lake Buena Vista, so out of Disney’s clutches.  $115.54 for ofloxacin plus some cotton balls that the doctor told us to use with it (only available in bags of 100, which is 10 times the number we actually need).  The pharmacist helpfully points out the part of the receipt that I am supposed to submit to my insurance company and tries to reassure me that the cost will definitely be reimbursed (but he didn’t ask who my insurer is, so how would he know?).

Our room.  Five drops in the kid’s ear.  They feel “weird”.  The main reason why Kid #2 needs to take this stuff is because the insurance contract says they won’t cover problems caused by failure to take prescribed medications and these drops were prescribed.

Magic Kingdom Park.  This time we take the tram and it’s only about 35 minutes from our room to the entrance booths.
      Attractions visited today: Walt Disney World Railroad, Barnstormer (not Wifey), Dumbo, Under the Sea – Little Mermaid, Be Our Guest (lunch, 2:07pm), It’s a Small World (Wifey and Kid #2), Peter Pan, a popcorn cart (snack, 4:45pm), Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (snack, 5:05pm), Mickey’s PhilharMagic (Wifey & Kid #1), Tomorrowland Speedway (not Wifey), 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (not Wifey), Mad Tea Party (not Wifey), and Emporium (just Wifey, souvenirs 5:25pm).
      While Wifey & Kid #1 do PhilharMagic again, Kid #2 and I try to go on the Mad Tea Party ride, but it closes down (possibly due to the rain) just as we arrive.  Later, Kid #1 joins us for another try and we are successful.
      It is interesting to go on Tomorrowland Speedway with my two children, both of whom now possess student-driver licenses.  Kid #1 remembers the last time we were here, when she was 11 and was told she could not drive because she was too short.  So this time, Kid #1 and Kid #2 each drive their own cars while I act as passenger for Kid #2, who has not begun his driver-training yet so this is his first time “behind the wheel” as it were.  Unfortunately, the car has almost no steering control (perhaps due to rain?) and is very frustrating to operate.  After the ride, Kid #1 reassures her brother that real cars are much easier to steer.
      At the “popcorn” cart, we get Mickey Mouse ice cream bars (only 3 of them because Kid #2 is not feeling well).  They are Nestlé-branded but the chocolate is quite dark and unlike Nestlé’s usual crap.  It’s great that we can finally try these things without worrying about whether they’re actually worth $4.25 each, because they’re considered “snacks” and are covered by our dining plan.
      At Cosmic Ray’s, where we sit to eat the ice cream, I buy some bottled water for Wifey using an additional snack credit — because we have so many of them!
      At the Emporium, Wifey buys a Minnie Mouse tote bag ($26.58) for her college roommate/bridesmaid, who will be visiting us tomorrow.  She also buys Mickey Mouse earrings ($8.47) for herself.

The Knife (Lake Buena Vista FL, 9:10pm).  Argentinian steakhouse buffet.  They try to be impressive, but I think Golden Corral is better.  $160.37 for dinner, which seems overpriced.
      We had planned to eat here because we had heard of the rivalry between Argentina and Brazil, each of which sends large quantities of teenagers to Disneyworld at certain times of the year (supposedly they taunt each other in the parks).  I guess I was expecting something more “authentic” that would appeal to actual Argentinians on vacation in Florida.  But this restaurant entices with odor what it fails to deliver on taste.
      The restaurant claims to be in Orlando FL, but Google suggests they are actualy just inside the city limits of Lake Buena Vista (hence paying rent to Disney).  When presenting the bill, the waiter asks me to show him my Disney employee ID so I can get the corporate discount.  I am wearing a Disney “Guest of Honor” nametag from 15 years ago; this product is no longer sold and many Disney cast members have asked me about it on this trip.  My badge is red (as is Kid #2’s); this meant “male” back in the day — Wifey and Kid #1 have blue badges.  One cast member told me that Disney corporate bigwigs wear red badges now.  Oddly enough, no one ever asks about my 20+ year old Goofy hat; the same design is still sold today and mine doesn’t look that old because I haven’t used it much.

Our room.  Five more drops in the kid’s ear.

pyesetz: (woof)

TD/Allianz Insurance (via telephone; 10:15am - 10:45am).  Kid #2 still can’t hear much with his right ear, so I call the insurance company to find out which clinic around here will work with them.  They call Lake Buena Vista CentraCare, confirm that it is willing to direct-bill them, and then fax over a pre-authorization form for us.  The insurance company says that the clinic is expecting us and we should proceed there immediately.

CentraCare (Lake Buena Vista FL, 11:00am - 2:30pm).  They received the fax and are expecting us, but still there are hours of waiting during which people who arrive after us are seen first; later I learn that you are supposed to go to their website and make an “appointment” (even though it is an urgent-care clinic) in order to obtain a “significantly” reduced wait-time.
      Of course, the first thing to do is fill out medical-history forms.  The most bizarrely-American item on the forms is the requirement that the patient must identify his “race” and whether he is “hispanic”.  Kid #2 has no idea what his race is (the concept is not much used in Canada).  I tell him that I generally say my race is either “White” or “Other” (because “Jewish” used to be a separate race, but was combined with “White” in the 1930s for political reasons; when I hear “White race” I think of what Sarah Palin calls “real Americans”, who are not my people and have no common ancestry with me in the last 1,000 years); Kid #2 writes ”White” on the form.  There is another Canadian seeking medical care at the clinic, who loudly complains about the absurdity of the race question.  “Everyone’s the same in Canada,” she says.  I elect not to mention to her the situation of the Québécois (or the Aboriginals, for that matter — Canada gives them special ID cards which exempt them from sales tax, but that really doesn’t compensate them for the crap they put up with).
      A person’s declared race is of little medical value.  For example, about 10% of black people have G6PD deficiency which causes certain drugs to be unsuitable for them, but most Blacks don’t have this problem and some Whites do (especially Jews and other Mediterranean people).  Anyway, there is absolutely no medical reason to ask for the race of the guarantor who will be paying for the service!  But yes, the form wants to know my race, too.  I think this is because of US government regulations requiring medical practitioners to collect such data and which obligate them, for patients who refuse to participate in this inanity, to use their own prejudices to guess which race the person providing the money seems to be a member of.
      Another bizarrely-American feature of this medical clinic is the inspirational quote that is painted on the wall over the restroom doors.  It says something like, “Faith in Christ improves wellness of mind, body, and spirit”.  Later I learn that CentraCare is part of Florida Hospital, which is owned by Adventist Health System, which is an arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
      The city of Lake Buena Vista is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Walt Disney Corporation, so Florida Hospital must be paying them rent in order to run a business here.  While we were waiting, someone came in claiming to be a Disney employee; he was refused treatment and was told that he must go to DisneyCorp’s own medical facilities.  Lake Buena Vista is basically the implementation of Walt’s EPCOT concept for the corporatist ”city of tomorrow“, where your citizenship class determines which medical facilities you may use.  (In Ontario, anyone can be treated anywhere, although you’ll usually get quicker service in a clinic than at an emergency room and more personalized service if you set up a continuing relationship with a physician’s private practice.)
      * * * * *
      Eventually a doctor examines Kid #2 for (just about) two minutes.  Based on her bedside manner, I think she is a pediatrician.  Kid #2 is 17 years old, which now makes him an ”adult” as far as Canadian healthcare is concerned, but in the American system he is still a “child” and must be seen by a kid-doctor rather than an ear-doctor.  She says his earwax is impacted, prescribes an irrigation of both ear canals using diluted H₂O₂, announces that the clinic will provide this service, then leaves.  After some more waiting, a nurse(?) comes in and performs the procedure, which is effective in restoring Kid #2’s hearing.  Then more waiting.  Then the doctor returns for another few minutes to examine the cleaned ear canals.  The right one is red, so she prescribes ofloxacin drops twice a day for five days.  More waiting.  An orderly(?) announces that the clinic will sell us this medication for $27.  I agree to pay.  More waiting.  The orderly comes back to say that this particular CentraCare clinic is out of stock on that medication; he gives me an scrip and suggests I drive down the street to Walgreens to get the drug.
      And then, a wondrous thing happens: we are let out of the building without having to pay anything!  Thank you, TD Canada Trust bank, for selling us this foreign-travel health insurance that ACTUALLY WORKS!  The insurance cost $80 for two weeks’ coverage of four people; Allianz said on the phone that the estimated cost of an exam for “ear infection” is about $250.

Landscape of Flavors (1:50pm).  Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Wifey and Kid #1 eat lunch in the cafeteria.

Walgreens pharmacy (Lake Buena Vista FL, 2:35pm - 2:45pm).  The pharmacist says that the drug costs $113!  I don’t know why the price is so different, nor whether Allianz would reimburse me so much.  The antibiotic treatment doesn’t seem so important now that the canal is clean, so I decide to put this problem off until tomorrow.

Art of Animation parking lot (2:55pm).  Our first FastPass™ of the day is scheduled for 3:55pm (already rejiggered from 2:50pm because there’s no way we can make that), so the plan is for Wifey and Kid #1 to take the bus to Epcot if we don’t get back to the hotel by 2:55pm.  The bus shows up at the same time we do, so the womenfolk skip the bus and hitch a ride in our rental car to the amusement park.

Epcot®.  The Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow, brought to you by various corporate sponsors who control which facts each ride may present.  Attractions visited today: Electric Umbrella (lunch, 3:34pm; snack, 4:11pm), Spaceship Earth, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Mission: SPACE (except Wifey), Test Track (except Wifey), The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Sunshine Seasons (dinner, 7:56pm), Soarin (Kid #1 & I), and The Circle of Life (Wifey & Kid #2).
      Kid #2 and I catch up on lunch at the Electric Umbrella, since we didn’t have time after the medical stuff.  I get a bottle of water for Wifey to use up another snack credit.
      Spaceship Earth is now sponsored by Siemens instead of AT&T; the dioramas have been completely redone to emphasize “communication technology” instead of “connecting people across the world”.
      Ellen’s Energy Adventure has not been redone in 20 years (perhaps because Exxon stopped sponsoring it in 2004); it is now quite dated.  Bill Nye has aged considerably since this presentation was recorded.  He is the co-star with Ms. DeGeneres and his career is currently doing very well (with multiple honorary doctorates received in recent years), so why doesn’t he get billing?  The emphasis on compact fluorescent lightbulbs and wind power as “the future” now seems ridiculous.
      The Seas is a new ride.  It is similar to It’s a Small World, except with an undersea theme rather than toys/Christmas, and is sponsored by Disney’s Finding Nemo rather than Mattel.
      Of the restaurants on our dining plan, Sunshine Seasons seems to have the best selection so far.  My dinner is tuna salad on a croissant, strawberry shortcake, and orange juice (my throat is scratchy).
      Soarin is new.  It is a motion-simulator ride in front of an iMAX-type giant movie screen, where you pretend to be flying with the birds.  On our way out of this ride, I remark to Kid #1 that there was a dirt-spot on the screen that was visible when a pale color was displayed there; some random other park guest walking by says, “Oh, you noticed that, too?”
      The park is open an extra two hours tonight, for Disney resort guests only, but we are too tired to utilize this feature and go back to our hotel at the regular closing time.  Six hours of amusement is enough!  Wifey’s schedule had called for us to visit Club Cool, Journey Into Imagination, Turtle Talk, and Innoventions, but we decide to put those off until our next visit to Epcot later in this vacation.

pyesetz: (woof)

Our room.  Kid #2’s ear is a little better than yesterday, so we decide not to find out whether our “Foreign travel medical insurance” actually works.  The USA is a nasty country to get sick in — they let uninsured people die in the gutter of treatable illnesses — so we’d rather not try our luck with the foreign insurance unless truly necessary.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Attractions visited today: none.  Instead, this is an unscheduled rest day.
      Poor Wifey!  She created schedules for each day of the vacation and snipped four sets of 11 pieces of paper so each family member could have the day’s script in their pocket — and not once so far has a day actually gone exactly as planned!  We were supposed to do It’s Tough to Be a Bug, Kilimanjaro Safari, Flights of Wonder, Yak & Yeti (lunch), Expedition Everest, Triceratops Spin, Primeval Whirl, and Dinosaur; then proceed to Boma for dinner.

Our room.  We didn’t actually go anywhere during the previous paragraph, but that’s okay.  We like just sitting around using our computers!  So today at the hotel is pretty much like most days at our house, except that Wifey refuses to get a laptop and (of course) left her desktop at home, so she and I have to alternate on my computer while the kids each use their own equipment.

Landscape of Flavors (3:55pm).  Get a brownie to use up a “snack credit” from our free dining plan.

Our room.  More computer fun!

Boma (inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, 6:50pm).  $194.36 for an upscale African-themed buffet.  It’s very good, but costs more than twice as much as we usually spend on dinner.  This restaurant is on a different dining plan than ours, so we actually have to pay for this food.

Zawadi (inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, 7:10pm).  Gift shop.  Get a bag of pretzels to use up another “snack credit”.  It will be a gift to a 15-yo kid in our homeschooling group who has sworn off refined sugar.  Also, it has no chocolate so hopefully will survive a trip to Canada through 90°F temperatures.
      Kid #2 spends $5.28 on a souvenir rock (missing receipt).  Kid #1 spends $8.47 on a Mickey pin (missing receipt).

pyesetz: (woof)

Staybridge Suites (10:49am).  We did place the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.  Standard check-out is 11am, plus we asked for late-checkout at noon.  So why is Housekeeping knocking on our door?  “They told me you were out” says the housekeeper.  We’ve had similar problems at other hotels, which are run by early birds who believe that only lip-service should be given to night owls.
      Months ago we pre-paid $177.84 for this one-night stay.  Final bill is $200.07 because apparently they forgot to include the 7% state tax and 7% city tax (although the 3% county tax was included?).  I find it hard to believe that they just couldn’t figure out how to make their computers pre-calculate the bill properly, so perhaps this is greed masquarading as incompetance.

Barnes & Noble Bookstores (Maumee OH, 3:13pm).  In the same “Fallen Timbers Mall” as the hotel.  Pay $47.06 for three paperback “classics” for Kid #2 to read during his last year of homeschool (before matriculating to the chef school that has already accepted him a year in advance), plus two books for Wifey to read on the plane.  Really, we’re just killing time from our late-checkout at 12pm until our 3:30 drive to the airport.  But this is just too boring, so we leave early.  Then we run into a poorly-marked detour.  Good thing that Kid #1 has a smartphone with built-in GPS, pre-downloaded maps for Ohio, and software for on-the-fly route recalculation!

Toledo Express Airport TSA screening station (Swanton OH).  As usual for this airport (according to Yelp), there is no line at the screening station — but one immediately forms behind us!  I get patted down repeatedly because of little bits of stuff (such as a quarter buried deep in a pocket).  The guy doing the pat-downs is clearly annoyed with having to do so many of them on me, but he maintains a polite demeanor at all times, as Yelp had predicted (“surprisingly-polite TSA agents”).  Maybe they’re glad to have a job at a smaller airport?

Subway (at Toledo airport; 4:50pm).  Four subs for $29.50.

Toledo Express Airport vending (5:00pm).  I pay $2.00 for 20oz of Dr. Pepper (the American version, which tastes much stronger than the Canadian).

Allegiant Airlines flight 795 (Swanton OH, 5:50pm – Sanford FL, 8:00pm).  Took off five minutes early, arrived ten minutes early.  Unexpectedly, our row of seats is frontmost (the online diagram had implied that there would be another row in front of us) so our family’s collection of laptops needs to be stored in overhead bins during take-off and landing.  The seats do not offer 120 VAC power (or any power) and my battery is getting elderly, so I don’t use my laptop much.
      Despite all the complaints online about how Allegiant nickles-and-dimes you to death, we complete the flight without incurring any additional charges (in part because we had brought along our own food and drink, which the airline explicitly allows).
      The guy sitting next to me coughs all the way through the flight.  My wife and children are on the other side of the aisle.  Kid #1 is nearest to me (hence two seats plus an aisle from the cougher); she wears a mask over her mouth and nose.  The rest of us brave the germs.  Hopefully the airplane’s generally vertical top-down airflow should keep the cougher’s germs to himself.  According to Wikipedia, a rhinovirus infection will show symptoms within four days 95% of the time, so after day 6 of this trip we can stop worrying.

Orlando-Sanford International Airport (Sanford FL).  This airport is quite a bit larger than Toledo, although still much smaller than the main airport in Orlando proper.  From the plane we walk down an extra-long jetway, then down a remarkably long corridor with fire-doors every few feet, on and on, until finally we arrive at the departure waiting area for “Gate 6”.  Then the usual long corridor to the TSA screening area; I am disappointed to see a dozen X-ray machines, rather than the 2 in Toledo, which suggests that the trip home will not be quite as nice as getting here.  Then the usual long walk to the baggage-claim area (we did not check any bags), then outside and repeatedly crossing streets full of traffic to get to the rental car area.

Alamo Rent-A-Car (at Sanford Airport, 8:30pm).  Alamo is the cheapest — for a reason!  It is much further away from the plane terminal than all the other rental companies, requiring large quantities of additional walking.  The desk clerk was very aggressive in his upselling, trying to suggest some nefarious reason why the credit-card company told me to decline all insurance when renting a car with their card.  Eventually I got him to admit that Florida requires $10,000 liability insurance, which is included in the basic rental — but of course no sensible person would go driving with less than a million in insurance — for $40/day extra, which would double the total cost for the rental!  I suspect it would be rather difficult for someone to sue me for a million bucks for scaring their horse with my motorcar, considering that I don’t even live in this country.  Eventually I got the clerk to let me have the car, with only a return-with-empty-tank upgrade but otherwise as pre-ordered.  Sheesh!  Maybe I should try a different car company when/if I ever fly again.
      The car is a new Chrysler 200.  This is a problem.  The user-interface for cars changed about five years ago; now they have a “Start” button, like Microsoft Windows, instead of a keyed ignition.  We spend some time in the parking lot, trying to figure out how to operate the thing.  Once again I feel like Rip Van Winkle, waking up in the 21ˢᵗ century to realize that some technology arrived a long time ago and changed everyone else’s life but did not impact mine.  I used to be “with it”, but now I’m an “oldster”.

FL-417: the Central Florida GreeneWay.  About $5 in highway tolls.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (Lake Buena Vista FL).  It’s late at night on Labor Day, but there is a massive line at check-in!  It used to be that Disney was deserted this time of year, but then they started including free food and advertising it heavily.  We receive wristbands which allow our every movement to be tracked as we move around the parks; they also act as room keys, park tickets, credit cards, etc.

Landscape of Flavors (inside Art of Animation’s main building, 10:10pm).  We proceed to the cafeteria to collect our free refillable soda-pop mugs (supposedly a $19 value) and a few snacks.  Our dining plan gets us two free meals and a free snack for every night of our stay, but there’s no way we can eat that much.
      Before the trip, Wifey had watched the online message boards, waiting for the free-food announcement.  On the big day, she stayed up late, but no announcement.  Next morning she got up early, then spent 1½ hours on hold in order to get one of the few free-food slots allocated to the Art of Animation resort.  Success!  But how much was it really worth?  We decide to keep track of our food receipts so we can calculate how much value our family obtained from her effort.

Our room (in building “Lion King 10” at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort).  We’re finally here!  After only two years of wondering whether it would ever happen.

pyesetz: (woof)

September 6, 2015.  The big day is finally here!  This trip has been planned for over two years now, since soon after my mother-in-law died and we started trying to decide what to do with the inheritance.  Well, after almost two years the lawyers finally ran out of excuses and let go of the money.
      I had wanted to fly on Allegiant Airlines because they land at Sanford FL, which is a much smaller airport than Orlando so the TSA agents are less nasty.  But Allegiant decided not to fly out of Niagara Falls NY during September, so we bought tickets for departure from Toledo OH instead.  Getting to that airport requires driving through the state of Michigan, which we’ve never visited before.

Wag ’N’ Train (Kitchener ON, 9:30am).  Drop off the dog.  The kennel we used for previous trips has gone out of business, so we had to select a new one.  Earlier this year we went for an orientation day, then a ”test” day to see whether dog and new kennel would get along.

Shell (Wilmot ON, 10:00am).  Fill the gas tank ($70.66), plus last-minute stuff at our house.

Tim Horton’s (Strathroy ON, 11:30am).  After a pleasant drive through the Ontario countryside, we stop here to use the washrooms.  I buy some chicken soup ($3.35), while Kid #2 uses a gift card to buy a giant pretzel.
      Our selected route has very few official rest areas, so Kid #1 used the Tim Horton’s website which has a continent-wide map of all their locations.  Besides this Tim’s and the duty-free shop at the border, we have pre-decided to stop at the Tim’s in Roseville MI and Dundee MI if the border-crossing is quick, or in Lenox MI and Ypsilanti MI if we have to sit in line at the border.

Blue Water Bridge (Sarnia ON – Port Huron MI, 12:30pm).  Toll = $3.50.  Use the washrooms at the Duty Free shop.  Only a 3-minute wait at the border!  The border guard thinks our trip plan is bizarre, but he lets us pass after I tell him that the point is to fly from a small airport to a small airport.  He works at a low-volume bridge (the big volume crosses at Windsor–Detroit), so maybe he agrees that smaller is better.

Tim Horton’s (Roseville MI, 2:00pm).  Washrooms.  Can’t decide what to buy, so don’t buy anything.  We have plenty of snacks in the car, so really no need for a purchase except to thank them for their public washrooms.
      You would think that a city named “Roseville” would be fairly small (pop. 47,000).  You would think that a street named “Gratiot Ave.” and lined with wall-to-wall businesses would not be a 6-lane divided highway, plus additional U-turn and right-turn lanes.  You would be wrong.  Thankfully, after our experience in Massachusetts, Kid #1 got herself a smartphone and downloaded so we could figure out these things.  Getting from highway I-94 to Tim Horton’s and back unavoidably involves two occasions of entering Gratiot Ave. on the right and then veering across all lanes of traffic to get to a U-turn lane, then veering across all lanes of traffic to exit on the right.

Tim Horton’s (Dundee MI, 3:00pm).  Washrooms again.  Hey, it breaks up the tedium of driving!  Still can’t find any raspberry-jam doughnuts.  What is wrong with these American Timmies???

Staybridge Suites (Maumee OH, 3:30pm).  Check-in.  The room assigned to us had not been cleaned, so we get a free upgrade to a three-room suite (doored room with separate beds for each kid, a living room/kitchen, and a doored room with king-size bed for the parents).
      The name for this city is pronounced /mɔːˈmiː/ (maw-MEE); we had expected either /ˈmɑːmiː/ (“Mommy”) or /ˈmɔːmiː/ (MAW-mee).  Originally, it was an Algonquian word with the same meaning as “Miami” and “Illinois”: all these words refer to a group of Native Americans who lived in (what is now) Indiana and were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma.

Carrabba’s (Maumee OH, 7:10pm).  Dinner costs $84.77.  Because of the movie Shrek 2, I can no longer think of this restaurant chain without being reminded of a certain Dashboard Confessional song.

pyesetz: (woof)
The Imagination Station is a science museum in Toledo OH.  Under "News and Events" is a notice that they will be closed from September 8th to September 28th this year.  I guess I won't visit them.

Here is a set of (computer-generated) reasons to leave Columbus OH and move to Gilbert AZ instead.  In this discussion, some people are pointing out that the generated text for some cities is rather racist (such as the complaint that 0.08% of people in Fort Worth TX speak Japanese, considering that there was a WW2 internment camp only 50km away).  But what else could the program do, since it is based on US government statistics?  As the program says, "I didn't want to make this about race, but it can't be avoided."

A pun

Jan. 5th, 2015 02:01 pm
pyesetz: (woof)
"Senator Harry Reid is resting in pieces this morning as he recovers from broken ribs and facial bones he suffered while he was using a piece of exercise equipment that broke.  But the good news is he didn't break his lower leg bone, thus avoiding a protracted fibulabuster."

--Bill in Portland, Maine
pyesetz: (mr_peabody)
Because every visit to Massachusetts should include a trip to the MoS!

Museum of Science exhibit halls (Boston MA, 11:51am).  Finally, we’re doing something during this trip that Kid #2 can actually enjoy!  $92 for a family of four.  The overly-geeky ticket machine announced that it would be printing five tickets, but one of them was just a ticket-shaped receipt.  Oddly enough, I can’t find that receipt now, just my own ticket-stub.
      Kid #1 spent much of her time at the museum off with some online friends she had never met before but who live in this area.  We were supposed to meet up with them near the giant T. Rex statue, but the statue has been replaced with a less-imposing one that shows a more realistic stance for the animal.  Later, I found that the old statue (which Wifey and I remember from when we were kids) had been moved outside to the station where you can take an amphibious bus tour of Boston.  Even later, I learned that Hammacher Schlemmer is selling a T. Rex model that has been cleverly designed so you can pose it either way (“15' tall as if surveying the landscape or 12' tall as if lunging for prey”).
      I did not speak directly to Kid #1’s friends.  The two things they have in common with her are ⑴ nonstandard sexuality and ⑵ fondness for Star Trek.  As the friends were preparing to leave the museum, I asked Kid #1 whether she had told them about Star Trek Continues.  She had not, so she then launched into a description of the video that her uncle had found, which they thought was interesting.  So we were all united by the love of geeky old TV shows!
      My kids remember from previous trips the exhibit where you pedal a bicycle to energize a lightbulb — and a skeleton on another bicycle keeps pace with you.  That exhibit is gone now.  Instead, they now have wristbands where you can try out various health exhibits and then go to their website to see how you did.  I did not like that you are forbidden to do the same exhibit more than once on the same wristband, although I can imagine crowd-control reasons why they wanted it to work that way.  But the website’s behaviour is less excusable: you have to clear cookies in order to enter a different wristband ID number.  You know, there’s such a thing as “trying too hard” to remember something the user once typed in!  And there is no reason not to display the ID number that goes with the data you are currently showing.  Anyway, to see my results, go to and type in my ID number 01564722.
      The 500 kilovolt Tesla coils and the 5 megavolt Van de Graaf generator are still just as sparky and noisy as ever!  I am not sure whether they taught the Tesla coils some new songs to sing since last time.
      For me, the worst exhibit was the live talk about Love Canal, which contained politically-correct lies designed to make Americans feel better about their country than it deserves.  First off, the Superfund was not a “law passed by the EPA” because the EPA does not pass laws.  Only Congress can do that, and the Constitution prohibits them from delegating that responsibility although they are constantly trying to.  Second, the point of Superfund is not to “make those responsible pay for the cleanup”.  Just the opposite, in fact: Superfund is a way of getting these things cleaned up *without* making those responsible pay for it, because otherwise nothing would ever happen except motion practice for lawyers.  But the museum didn’t want to tell the kids that (perhaps in fear of losing some of their funding), so a science museum lied to children about the politics behind the science.  This sort of thing used to happen all the time in the Soviet Union, and apparently still happens today in North Korea.  I remember a time when the USA was better than that.

Museum of Science cafeteria “Wolfgang Puck catering” (3:20pm).  $27.55 for crappy museum food.  Chef Puck should be ashamed to have his name on this restaurant.  I mean, it’s actually pretty good food for a museum cafeteria, and maybe the entrées are well-made on Donors’ Nights, but you can’t turn hamburgers and French fries into gourmet cuisine by slapping some famous chef’s name on your fast-food stand.

Museum of Science gift shop.  $7.42 for a “Boston” fridge magnet and also some rocks for Kid #2’s collection.

Museum of Science parking garage (5:23pm).  $17.75 for six hours’ rent of a parking space.  Not bad for Boston!

Outback Steakhouse (Bellingham MA, 8:55pm).  $79.28 for dinner.

Market Basket (Bellingham MA).  $50 for a Christmas gift-card for BIL #3 and his family.

Humor Labs

Sep. 26th, 2014 11:19 am
pyesetz: (woof)
I'm on the free-public-email list for Humor Labs.  They haven't updated their website recently, but they're still cranking out the daily joke-emails.  Except they're on vacation right now until October 6th so they're re-mailing old lists.  Here is the one from July 10th, 2001:

The Top 5 Least Popular Street Names:
⑤ Vicious Circle
④ Psycho Path
③ Peoples Ct.
② Diminished Sex Dr.
① Nofriggin Way

What a blast from the past, eh?  Such a simpler time, when the Internet was new and there were still people working for the US government who could allow it to be known that they had decency and functioning moral compasses.  Not like our world today.  I had a job making pocket electronic computers that members of the public actually used — and the newly-popular Internet message boards allowed me to talk directly to my end-users!

And now, everything's gone to Hell.  Nobody wants me anymore as a greymuzzle programmer.  The Pope says World War III *may* have already begun.  Volcanoes and earthquakes and negative interest rates, oh my!  It has been publicly admitted that all sides in the Iraq war are now using weapons bought by the US taxpayer — can you say "bread and circus", boys and girls?
pyesetz: (woof)
"You know how much threat ISIS represents to the United States?  None.  That's how much.  Exactly none.  If there was a value less than none, then it would be that, but there's not, so none is the answer.

"You know what does represent a threat to the the United States, a bona fide danger to our continued existence as the land of the semi-free and occasionally bravish?  Acting as if every person who says they want to turn the United States into dictatorial hell hole, is capable of making the United States their bitch.  ISIS is a ragtag organization on the far side of the world, armed mostly with the discards we either sold to the last set of thugs (note: proper use of the term) who used the gear to cow their relatives, or the stuff we left sitting around because bringing the old stuff back threatened all those contracts for building new stuff.  ISIS could no more threaten the United States than Lindsey Graham could punch God in the nose.  The existential threat level is green. Or at least, it should be."

pyesetz: (woof)
The title of this post is from an article about Scott Fistler, the Arizona Republican who changed his name to "Cesar Chavez" and is now running for office as a "Democrat" (but still using Republican tactics).  I used a wildcard Google search "a few * short of a *" to find other examples of this snowclone.

The first hit is A few sandwiches short of a picnic, which has an entry at Wiktionary.  That entry gives a synonym "one card shy of a full deck".

The next hit is A few X short of a Y at the Snowclones database, which lists these examples
  • a few bananas short of a bushel
  • a few sprinkles short of a sundae
  • a few hosannas short of a miracle
  • a few smarties short of a lollybag
  • a few beers short of a barrel
The snowclone entry links to the Canonical List of Fulldeckisms which is a 1994 list from USENET.  Some of its entries are rather dated now, such as
  • A return with no gosub
  • A VGA card and a Herc monitor
  • An 8080 in a 68000 environment
  • An Apple //e on UUCP
  • An XT clone in a Pentium zone
  • Blew his O-rings
  • Her dialing thumb must be broken
  • In need of a ROM upgrade
  • Mainspring's wound too tight
  • Metronome needs oil
  • Missing a few catalog cards / gears / marbles
  • Nine pence in the shilling
  • Overruns above 110 baud
  • Pins 2 and 3 (RS-232) permanently connected to ground
  • RS232C brain with a DIN connector
  • Running at 300 baud
  • Single-sided, low density
  • Slept too close to his radium-dial watch
  • The fan is working but the freon's leaked out
  • Thinks at 5 baud
  • Thinks cellular phones are carbon-based life forms
  • Thinks E=MC² is a rap star
  • Too many birds on her antenna
  • Using a 1S-2D floppy for brains in a world of hard disks
Google's list then includes some items that duplicate the USENET list ("a few fries short of a happy meal", "a few bricks shy of a load", etc.)

Then there's the Not too bright list, including items such as
  • A few screws short of a hardware store
  • A few peas short of a casserole
  • A few Bradys short of a bunch
Then there's the Euphamisms for Stupid, which is written by a college professor who apparently doesn't know how to spell "euphemism".  Anyway, his list doesn't include anything not previously seen.

And that's the first page of Google results.  Surely no one would look any further?

Okay, so I clicked "next" and got
  • A few eggs short of a dozen
  • a few cattle short of a ranch
  • a few plums short of a fruit pie
Guess I can stop now.  Sorry!


pyesetz: (Default)

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