Thursday, August 19, 2010

Interesting report

  • “You ever think what a coincidence it is that Lou Gehrig dies of Lou Gehrig’s disease?” - Christopher (“Members Only,” Episode 66).
  • "You gonna tell that same stupid joke every time?"- Tony, in response to Chris' Lou Gehrig crack (“Members Only”, Episode 66).

Maybe not.

New scientific research indicates legendary Yankee slugger Lou Gehrig may not have died from the disease that bears his name, the New York Times reports. Instead, Gehrig — and some others diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — may have suffered from a different fatal disease catalyzed by concussion like trauma to the brain, according to a peer-reviewed paper to be published Wednesday in a leading neuropathology journal.

Doctors at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Mass., and the Boston University School of Medicine, discovered that markings in the spinal cords of two deceased NFL players and a boxer who had been diagnosed with A.L.S. did not have the disease.

“Most A.L.S. patients don’t go to autopsy — there’s no need to look at your brain and spinal cord,” Dr. Brian Crum, an assistant professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic, told the Times. “But a disease can look like A.L.S., it can look like Alzheimer’s, and it’s not when you look at the actual tissue. This is something that needs to be paid attention to.”

The paper does not talk about Gehrig's case specifically, but the authors told the Times their results open up the strong possibility that Lou Gehrig's disease is a misnomer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Target Field's first walk-off HR

And it was special. We are battling the White Sox for the division title. The former White Sock and future Hall of Famer, and ultra-classy, Jim Thome destroyed the baseball. Here is a link to the video of the HR and the wild reaction (I can't embed it). Below is the interview after.

That was so cool.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Why not Michelle, or Mary, or Laura?

WASHINGTON — Federal drug regulators on Friday approved a new form of emergency contraceptive pill that prevents pregnancies if taken as many as five days after unprotected intercourse.

The pill, called ella, will be available by prescription only. Developed in government laboratories, it is more effective than Plan B, the morning-after pill now available over the counter to women 17 and older.

That pill gradually loses efficacy and can be taken at most three days after sex. Ella, by contrast, works just as well on the fifth day as the first after sex.

I guess I should be glad that we didn't name our son Viagra.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Home equity loans

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we just refinanced our mortgage. In the process, we paid off a fairly significant home equity line of credit. Apparently, we are suckers.

Lenders wrote off as uncollectible $11.1 billion in home equity loans and $19.9 billion in home equity lines of credit in 2009, more than they wrote off on primary mortgages, government data shows. So far this year, the trend is the same, with combined write-offs of $7.88 billion in the first quarter.

Even when a lender forces a borrower to settle through legal action, it can rarely extract more than 10 cents on the dollar. “People got 90 cents for free,” Mr. Combs said. “It rewards immorality, to some extent.”

Utah Loan Servicing is a debt collector that buys home equity loans from lenders. Clark Terry, the chief executive, says he does not pay more than $500 for a loan, regardless of how big it is. “Anything over $15,000 to $20,000 is not collectible,” Mr. Terry said.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Minnesota Nuts

There is a perception of Minnesota Nice. It should be Minnesota Nuts.

Mark Dayton won the DFL primary for governor. This is the same Mark Dayton who in 2004 closed his Senate office because he saw a terrorist in his shadow. Moreover, it is no secret that he is an alcoholic who has had repeated relapses, and that he suffers from depression. Sounds perfect for us.

After all, we elected Governor Goofy. And then we elected an unstable professional wrestler as governor. Lets go for the trifecta.

I'm so embarrassed for my state.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Best job quit ever


It has been a long time since flight attendant was a glamorous job title. The hours are long. Passengers with feelings of entitlement bump up against new no-frills policies. Babies scream. Security precautions grate but must be enforced. Airlines demand lightning-quick turnarounds, so attendants herd passengers and collect trash with the grim speed of an Indy pit crew. Everyone, it seems, is in a bad mood.

On Monday, on the tarmac at Kennedy International Airport, a JetBlue attendant named Steven Slater decided he had had enough, the authorities said.

After a dispute with a passenger who stood to fetch luggage too soon on a full flight just in from Pittsburgh, Mr. Slater, 38 and a career flight attendant, got on the public-address intercom and let loose a string of invective.

Then, the authorities said, he pulled the lever that activates the emergency-evacuation chute and slid down, making a dramatic exit not only from the plane but, one imagines, also from his airline career.

On his way out the door, he paused to grab a beer from the beverage cart. Then he ran to the employee parking lot and drove off, the authorities said.

Monday, August 09, 2010


I had to drop off my son at a Boy Scout camp in northern Minnesota yesterday, and it was an 8 hour drive round trip. So on Saturday I took my car to Jiffy Lube for a overdue oil change. In suggestive selling mode, the guy showed me my cabin intake filter, which was filthy and had a hole in it. He said that the dealership charges $120 to replace the part, but Jiffy Lube would do it for $40. Not thinking it through (i.e., no labor involved whatsoever), I said fine. He later came back and told me that they were out of stock on that filter but I could bring the car back.

Returning to critical thinking mode on the way home, I checked the Internet and found the filter for $5.95 (plus $5 shipping). The lesson learned is that I will never again pay to have a part replaced that I could replace myself without any problem (except an oil filter).

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Glenn Beck

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but the man is dangerous.

Question for Mr. Beck: Is the Swedish government preparing to mass murder its own citizens?

You are a fraud. You are a horrible human being who makes money spreading ridiculous ideas to scare people. You make Joseph McCarthy seem tame. If I ever met you, I don't think that I could resist the temptation to kick you in the nuts.

Update: I found Beck's next guest.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Northwest Amateur Golf Tournament

Jason and I played in the Northwest Amateur Golf Tournament last weekend. It was his upteenth year, but my first. The format is two rounds, a cut, and then a championship round (flighted by the prior 2 day scores, not handicap) on Sunday. There are a ton of great players and it is tough to make the cut (154, I think, this year).

There was a lot about the weekend that fits within the "What happens in Spencer, stays in Spencer" category. But here are my PG-13 comments on the weekend.
  • I finally met his friend "Geek" Johnson. Jason did not adequately prepare me, although he tried. After the first day I worked up the nerve to ask whether I could call him "Geek". I was granted permission, although there might have been some pity involved after he saw me play.
  • I also met his friend Tony. He could teach Tiger Woods some things about getting yourself into a competitive frame of mind.
  • I didn't realize going in that Jason had never made the cut, but has been creeping closer lately. So after a nice start on Saturday (77), he was close. Thus, I didn't realize that he was really nervous on Saturday. His inability to pick a parking spot at the course should have been a clue but I had been barfing all morning (not because I was nervous -- I would have had to shoot 63 to make the cut -- but because I had allowed myself to get completely dehydrated the day before.)
  • Jason played well on Saturday but the golf gods did not shine on him. He just missed the cut. Both Geek and Tony made it.
  • Tony entered Geek involuntarily into the long drive contest on Saturday night. Geek, with an "I'm no pussy" response, accepted the challenge. After watching him outdrive me by 60 yards for 2 days, I watched him be outdriven by 60 yards in the competition. Humbling.
  • On the way out of the parking lot of the hotel as we left town, we saw a woman with a full goatee. It put my goatee to shame. She just stared back at us with the clear message "yes, I have a goatee, so go to hell."
  • Jason obviously won this year's weekend stroke play shot glass competition. Hat tip for that. But I will be back.