Drooling on the Pillow

Friday, May 27, 2005

Jerramiah T. Healy 

I very much enjoyed Tris McCall's interview of Mayor Jerramiah Healy. The conversation was frank, open and civil. They are both interesting men. Even on a question as controversial as the business curfew (about which I've made my feelings known) McCall is aggressive and probing and Healy (and police chief Troy) are equally aggressive and open in defending it. A good performance all around.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bi-Directional Labiation 

We share the floor with with an equally large and scary law firm, which is one of the reasons we're getting out of the building. Lawyers aren't good at sharing.

There's a young woman who works for the other guys, probably a proof reader or something as she always dresses down.

I think she kind of likes me.

She's attractive and friendly and full of wisecracks. Around five or six times a day she travels from their space to the ladies room which crosses in front of our glassed reception area where I can be found much of the day, especially after our receptionist goes home around three. She walks with a kind of lurching gait, as if she were going down a slight incline. Which I like.

The reason I think she likes me is that during her transit of reception, if I look up she's looking at me. If I'm standing by the door she looks away. But once a week or so she finds some bologna reason to come in and make conversation. As if they didn't have legal manila folders in her office.

Well, it's pleasant for a guy my age and with my looks to believe she's attracted to me. So I do.

It's important to note that my perception, whether fantasy or not, although pleasant, is purely abstract. I've been with the Goddess for fifteen years now and am aware that they don't call her the Goddess just for her benevolence and beauty. She's a wrathful Goddess, too. Thunderbolts, plagues, that sort of thing. Nevertheless, for these reasons and for better ones, she's the only woman I've ever been involved with for more than a few weeks I never cheated on.

But then I'd say that, wouldn't I?

Having admitted a great deal of bad behavior towards women, why should you believe me when I tell you I'm a reformed dog?

Which leads me to the headline of the day:

"Corzine Vows He'll Be Honest, If Elected"

Which almost sounds more like a threat than a promise. If we don't elect him we better really hold on to our wallets.

Of course, Sluggo is not imputing past dishonesty to Mr. Corzine, which he is promising to reform (if elected).

But, on the other hand, you only have my word that I was a dog. When you think about it, though, a middle-aged guy is more likely to lie about having been one than lie about not having been one.

What does all this mean? It means I may have a future in Democratic politics.

Link via Enlighten-New Jersey

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

At The Old Ball Game 

I went to Yankee Stadium tonight with one of my few old friends. In fact, he was Benvolio when I played Mercutio about twenty years ago. Today he manages an Applebee's and I manage a conference center. It happens.

He had corporate seats a couple rows behind the Tiger dugout. Just about my favorite place to watch a game.

I hadn't been to the stadium in a few years and neither had he and it occurred to neither of us that things might be a little different since 9/11 so we rolled up there about 7:00 thinking we were just in time for the first pitch. Maroons.

There were enormous lines to get through security and around 7:15 when we got to the front I discovered you couldn't bring a backpack in the park. I had to go all the way back to the subway and pay a bowling alley $5 to check it. What a business they were doing. Two guys, thousands of backpacks, $5 a pop.

Back to the security lines, which were even longer. They weren't waving wands over people, they were patting down everybody. Had to turn on your phone, your camera, your iPod. You had to take off your hat. We got to keep our shoes on.

We made it to our seats by the middle of the third inning. But it was a good game. That Taiwanese kid, Wang, looks very cool out there. Timely hits. Great play by Jeter behind second. Couple beers and a dog. The seats we had, if they hadn't been season tickets, would have sold for $90.

The other surprise I had was that I felt somehow comforted, rather than annoyed, that the Sluggo Rule is still in effect. No matter where you sit or when you go, you're never more than three seats from a jackass. This guy's deal was bellowing constant verbal abuse at selected Yankees and the umpires. Unfortunately the guy was pretty funny so he was developing a following and several others tried their hands at it. Loud, yes. Funny, no. Annoying, very.

$8.50 for a beer. $8.00 for a Yankee foam finger.

I had a pretty nice time.

Couple Odd Things 

I made a wisecrack about a month ago about the internet in the Adirondacks being exclusively the domain of lumberjack porn. I didn't know (honest) that lumberjack porn is actually a sub-genre of gay porn and a real traffic booster.

I think I mentioned that our office is getting out of this building (Gitmo North) and moving a couple blocks to much nicer digs in a couple months. I've seen the renderings and they are spectacular. I will be master of a wider domain. One reason we'll be glad to get out of here is the security which is tight and the fact that it's needed as this building has a target painted on it. Coming back from the post office this morning I saw the guards trying to pursuade a very old lady with a very big handbag to put the bag in the x-ray machine.

"I got a pacemaker. I can't get in that thing."

He patiently explained that he just wanted her bag on the conveyor belt. She turned to an even more confused old man.

"Harold! Tell him I'll die!"

The Art of the Deal 

TigerHawk has a sanguine take on the filibuster deal, Cox & Forkum express my fears. All will be revealed when a slot opens up on the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Free At Last 

Sluggo was off the air for most of the night as Blogger got us caught in its teeth.

Weirdly, my gurgitation was preceded by about fifty hits from people I'm quite sure weren't actual visitors. My wife thinks I'm pretty fascinating and sometimes I even agree with her, but I don't think a Philippino teenager whose only interests appear to be bunnies and boys would find 25 minutes of reading material at Sluggo Needs a Nap.

Or maybe I'm just more fascinating than I thought.

Yeah, that's it.

Sleep Tight 

According to Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything:

If your pillow is six years old -- which is apparently about
the average age for a pillow -- it has been estimated that
one-tenth of its weight will be made up of "sloughed skin,
living mites, dead mites and mite dung," to quote the man
who did the measuring, Dr. John Maunder of the British
Medical Entomology Center.



PropertyTaxNJ has a story about the $2.7 billion dollar deficit being run by New Jersey's public employee pension system.

During an election year with the focus on finding money for property tax rebates, this is not likely to be on any politician's agenda.

Local Politics 

Tris McCall does an excellent job of summing up the recent elections in Jersey City. He spends most of the post talking about Steve Fulop's victory over the incumbent Junior Maldonado in the Downtown Ward E.

I don't live in Ward E anymore, but most of my friends here do. I liked Mr. Maldonado -- I thought he was a smart, moderate, hard working guy who had his constituents best interests at heart. Besides, Grace has played on Clemente league teams that he has sponsored for the last two years.

Tris' portrait of Mr. Fulop is of a very different kind of politician. Unethical, uncivil, out for himself.

I didn't follow that race closely, but I trust Tris as an honest, careful observer with no particular axe to grind. Whatever Mr. Fulop accomplishes or intends to accomplish during his tenure, it can't hurt that he knows people are watching and that he has some fences to mend.

The 'Compromise' 

Harry Reid says: "The integrity of the Supreme Court has been protected from the undue influence of the vocal, radical right wing."

As Powerline says, there's nothing about that sentence that makes any sense at all except to the alternate reality-based wing of the Democratic party. That is, aside from the fact that it makes explicit the fact that this shameful episode had nothing to do with the men and women whose character and reputation they've relentlessly and unfairly attacked. It's all about the Supremes.

To recast Senator Reid's remark in Earth-based language, "The liberal court system has been protected from the undue influence of the majority party."

The Republicans get three out of ten highly qualified judges and the Democrats reserve the right to filibuster any time they want under what they consider 'extraordinary' circumstances. Nobody is under any illusion that they won't consider the circumstances extraordinary whenever a conservative is nominated.

I don't believe a minority party has ever attempted a court-packing scheme. I'm sure there's never been a successful one before.

As Quin Hillyer says at NRO, this wasn't a compromise. It was a capitulation.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Just Asking 

The Goddess came home with an interesting story today.

I've blogged about her hospital job where they have actors pretend to be patients. She also runs the all day sessions for new employees. This is a massive hospital and there are several hundred new employees a week. At one point during the day either the CEO or the COO comes in and yammers on about what hot stuff the hospital is for about ten minutes.

Today it was the COO, undoubtedly an upper six figure guy. At one point he was using Richard Simmons to make an analogy about the hospital's growth. He suddenly looked like something had gone down the wrong pipe and changed the subject.

A couple of hours later the head of education tracked Lane down and said the COO wanted to talk to her. She figured she was getting canned but couldn't imagine why.

It turns out the guy had been stewing in his office all day, worried that his Richard Simmons remark had been 'inappropriate' and 'insensitive' and might have offended somebody. He wanted Lane to tell him if he should come back and apologize to the new people. Most of whom are on the janitorial staff. A lot of them probably weren't following his remarks fully as they had been in English. But a few of them were, admittedly, overweight.

Just think. Ten years ago it wouldn't have occurred to anyone that he was being offensive. Twenty years ago he might have pointed to a heavy person and said "Okay, dumptruck, you need to lose the lard if you want to stay on staff." Not saying that's a good thing, but I've seen as bad.

My question: is the corporate culture so saturated with political correctness that the COO really was agonizing in guilt or was he agonizing in fear as charges of insensitivity are the one area where the big boys are vulnerable?

Find His Fuse, Light It 

PropertyTaxNJ quotes Steve Kornacki at PoliticsNJ on the disconnect between the relative merits and the impact of the property tax plans of Schundler and Forrester:

Schundler may have spent the last year preaching
the virtues of his plan to roomful after roomful of
party activists, but Forrester, who snappily dubbed his
proposal "the 30-in-3" plan, easily reached more
people in one round of TV ads.

Sluggo is going to vote for Schundler, but has to admit it's discouraging when a guy who's been around the block as many times as Bret still comes off like a policy geek.
"I feel a little bad for Schundler," said David Rebovich,
the director of Rider University's Institute for New
Jersey Politics. "It's the power of simplicity and
television. It's a simple concept and it's easy to
understand, whereas Schundler's is more fiscally
sound in the end but is also more complicated."
Schundler's fatal flaw may be that he believes in the intelligence of the average person. One on one, that faith may be justified, but you get us in a group and we're pretty goddam dumb. He sat next to me in a hockey rink a year or so ago and totally sold me on his tax plan. But in large groups or on TV there is a MEGO factor.

He's a smart guy. He's a daring thinker and a capable administrator. I'm just hoping something happens in the next week or so to make him an angry guy.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I Gotcher Carnival, Right Here 

See, this is why I'm a wage slave in a cubicle. Great ideas like this never make it through my top bone.

Enlighten-NJ inaugurates its Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers. They did a great job with it and I don't say that because the boys (who are all Irish we learn in this post - gathering clues) are kind to Sluggo. They link to posts by a few excellent bloggers I didn't know about.

Look At Me, I'm A Microbiotechnologist! 

I've always been fascinated by proteins. No kidding.

They're strings or necklaces of amino acids and there are millions of them. They average a hundred or so amino acids but they can be as few as a dozen or there can be thousands. They're the fundamental biological invention of life. They're not exactly organisms, but without them organisms could never have developed. And every one has a job.

Here's the cool part. As soon as a protein chain is assembled in a cell and before it can perform its tasks it folds. In an almost metaphysical act of origami it transforms from a chain to a machine, folding and assembling itself in a precise order into a unique shape. This folding process involves hundreds or thousands of parts, takes as little as a millionth of a second and must be done exactly right. Misfolding results in flawed structures, inert enzymes and diseases such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, and Parkinson's disease.

And no one knows how or why it does it. No idea. There's not even any real theories.

For instance, hemoglobin is a protein most people have heard of. It travels in the red blood cells and carries oxygen from the lungs to where it's needed. The whole purpose of hemoglobin is to form a ring in the very center of which a single atom of iron bonds equally with the acids on all four sides of it. That atom oxidizes in the lungs and de-oxidizes in the capillaries where the oxygen is needed.

Okay, the reason I bring it up is that I signed up some time ago for a distributed computing project at Stanford University called Folding-at-Home. (I can't figure out how to prevent it from being a email link if I use the @.)

That's one of those deals where a research project uses down time on private computers (more than 1 million of them in this case) to work on vast projects. It was used for the human genome project and in a number of astrophysical projects. It was the original idea behind the internet.

Right now my computer is working on the folding sequence of p2003-ab1-42-4mer-opls GROMACS core.

Can't wait to see how it comes out.

Well, I'll Be a Knobbed Whelk 

Michelle Falkenstein, writing in the Sunday Time's Jersey Section (not online for some reason) notes that Jersey has an official mammal (horse), shell (knobbed whelk) and even dinosaur (Hadrosaurus foukii), but no state song. She stays away from the hot button issue of the state vegetable.

There are a number of songs called 'Jersey Girl' or 'New Jersey Girl' and she quotes the five or six words from Nerf Herder's version that are printable. I've got to go with Tom Waits' 'Jersey Girl'. And I prefer his cut of it to Springsteen's.
Down the shore everything’s alright,
you with your baby on a saturday night,
Don’t you know that all my dreams come true,
when I’m walkin’ down the street with you,
sing sha la la la la la sha la la la.
That or Palisades Park.
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