Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dust Bunnies, Peeps, and Creme Eggs

Once again I beseech the dust bunnies to busy themselves somewhere else other than hiding under my sofa, lying in wait behind every door, and hovering about in my candelabras. Isn't it time for them to start dying eggs? Making Peeps? 

Perhaps the Cadbury Bunny could use some help. Let's do the math. If Cadbury makes 1.5 million of their creme eggs a day (in their Birmingham, UK facility) and Easter is only 5 weeks away, just saying.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Baby Boomers and Millennials

I haven't figured out if all the late 20 and 30 somethings (the Millennials) feel they are immortal and therefore will never age or by the time they reach 50 they will have solved all the world's problems and riding off into the sunset will just be another Friday afternoon jetting to St. Barts with some friends. 

Let me make myself clear I am not putting all 20 and 30 somethings in this box, only the ones who are very bright, are sure they know more than anyone else in the room, and want to run the world by the time they are 40. Well good luck with that one. I hope they start with that little fellow in North Korea and those beasts in the Middle East who take pleasure in taking prisoners, removing heads, and filming it all. And, while they are at it, can they solve global warming, cancer, and diabetes? 

Chop, Chop you only have 25 years or so. 

I crawled up on my soap box (you youngsters can catch up after you Google that term) this morning simply out of frustration. I have total confidence in the next generation. I find them remarkable. Actually I find them astounding. Their coming of age and technology have merged and now the world is theirs for the taking, improving, and, God help us, saving. The only issue with all the new brain power, enthusiasm, energy, and ideas is a lack of empathy and humiliation for others. 

This new generation I speak of is not the generation who got a trophy for showing up, where everyone won. That group is just coming into their early 20s and  life will be hard without Mom and Dad to catch their every fall.  Showing up doesn't count. Everyone doesn't win. Sure, a few will be fleet of foot and ready try what is necessary to conquer the world.

Yes, while the newest generation is trying to get what they think they deserve, the Millennials have left most of us Baby Boomers  in their dust. Hopefully enough of us realize that this is a good thing. "The baton has been passed to a new generation," as JFK said. Only in this case, it is the third generation. However before we are all put on cattle cars and sent to pasture perhaps everyone should consider the experience that will be going with it. 

Now I am not talking about the method in making widgets, or even the best way to do things. Those days long gone, if anyone would even listen. But there is some institutional memory that everyone needs to hold on to. There is that rock on which you want to build the future. Some of us have worked hard to grow with the new technology, to embrace the change, to understand the potential. We jumped out of the box years ago. 

Personally I am in awe of the chances this generation will take. Their mobile and flexible look at life allows them to experiment and take things where few Baby Boomers dared go. And, truthfully, most of those Baby Boomers who tried such in their day succeeded in flying colors.  But they were the exception.

Old codgers with good attitudes, technical skills, and curiosity can be of great value to these new ventures. So perhaps they should not dismiss us out of hand. After all we have a work ethic you may find puzzling and we don't expect a trophy for just showing up. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Movie Review - Rewrite

Sometimes you come across a little movie that somehow never made the big markets. You wonder if the film cans just fell off the back off the FedEx truck on the way to the theaters. I found this film on iTunes of all places. And was surprised to see it mentioned that the movie was currently playing in theaters. But I digress.

Rewrite is a small romantic comedy with a strong cast. Hugh Grant plays Keith Michaels, an Oscar winning screen play writer who in a dry spell (as in no money for the power bill) finds himself teaching at a small upstate NY college for lack of any other options. J.K. Simons (now an Academy Award winner) plays Dr. Lerner, head of the college's English department. Marisa Tomei (also an Oscar winner) plays Holly Carpenter, a single mother in Keith's class. Then top it off with Allison Janney playing the part of Mary Weldon, a very uptight professor whose area of expertise is Jane Austin.

The movie was written and directed by Marc Lawrence who also did Miss Congeniality and Two Weeks Notice. The screenplay is well written and carried off splendidly by this all star cast. Grant's west coast character not wanting to be at the college nor understanding the east coast college culture clashes with Janney's character who may as well be a spurned old maid from one of Austin's novels. This all together with Simon's wry humor as the Department Head trying to keep it all afloat make for a delightful 102 minutes.

The story rocks along with many bumps that keeps it from being a predictable light headed rom-com. The depth of the cast adds more to each character. Grant, Tomei, Simons, and Janney are all excellent actors in both the comedic and serious parts of their roles.

Go see this film (if you can find it) or rent it. It is a much better investment of your time and money than some of the other trash movies that have been released this year.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Post Mortem of the Oscars

Shoot me that I am one of the few movie goers not enthralled with the genius behind Birdman. That I failed to see Micheal Keaton's true incredible talent playing an actor that the industry wants to sideline - whatever! Hoda Kotb on NBC (who I know little about) commented this morning that she also found the movie confusing when she saw Thomson (Keaton's character) making objects move through mental telepathy and seeing him just hovering in the air. Finally someone speaking sense about the film. 

75%, or some such number, of movie goers polled thought American Sniper should have been Best Picture. (But who are they - just the movie going public who pays the box office.) After all it only grossed as much as all the other 7 Best Picture nominees put together. So what if you didn't get the cult quality of Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. He has been producing such gems for years with the same brilliant cast given little recognition until this year. And was the song from Selma really the Best Song or a sentimental favorite behind a worthy cause?

Best Actor? In any other year Benadict Cumberbatch's work in The Imitation Game, Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, or Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher would have blown away the competition. Think about it, the talent shown by Steve Carell in such a serious demented role as opposed to his comic work in The Office?

Best Supporting Actress? True I did not see Boyhood, but I did see Wild, and I find it hard to believe that anyone could have topped Laura Dern's performance as Bobbi, the single mother in Wild. 

Yes, I am but a voice crying in the wilderness and I realize the Academy recognizes their own. I'm not sure whether it is incest or blindness. Which ever the case, we are lucky to have an industry that produces the quality of work (for the most part) that we do. I only hope those who continue to put forth brilliant performances only to come up 2nd or 3rd to much less, or worse not even get a nod, realize that the public, who buy the tickets and fill the seats, enjoy their work and appreciate their talent. After all isn't the point to entertain your audience more so than impress your peers. If we don't buy the tickets, they will have to roll up the red carpet. 

And speaking of the red carpet, the most idiotic tweet I read from last night concerned someone's whining of their disappointment that Joan Rivers' work was not recognized during the ceremony. Excuse me? Yes, she was a brilliant comic, but since when does the Academy start giving honorary Oscars for catty comments about gowns none of us will ever wear, most of us never see, and few of us will ever remember.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Movie Review - McFarland

If you want to see an uplifting movie with humor see McFarland. It is a film that will most likely not win any awards - unfortunately. Kevin Costner as Jim White, a coach, who due to several "unfortunate" encounters with school administrators at better schools, ends up at a high school in a small California town where the population is mainly Latino field workers. Needless to say his wife Cheryl (Maria Bello) and daughters Julie (Morgan Saylor) and Jamie (Elsie Fisher) are not thrilled with this new position.

No spoiler here, Coach White sees untapped talent in some of the student athletes and starts a cross country team. This is where the film shows its strength and true colors. Unlike some movies where White would be shown as the savior who rides into a poor underserved town, rescuing the students, turning their lives around, and changing the entire town, this movie holds its pace showing that both White and the students need help.

Unlike other movies that patronize Latinos, this movie weaves the Latino culture into the story showing the strength of the family, devotion, work ethic, and faith among all the generations. White (whose name almost seems too obvious) is like a duck out of water. But Costner rises to the occasion bringing his nurturing personality and sense of humor to the role of a flawed but talented mentor and coach. 

He and his family are surprised at what they find in the towns people after a rather unfortunate first impression. Likewise the local parents and students find they can trust this new coach who brings changes to an otherwise very static community.

The film rises above all the cliches that could have ruined it. It is based the real story and stayed true to that story.  It is well worth the 128 minutes. Oh, and make sure you stay for the credits, that is the rest of the story.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Even the View Master is Virtual

And all the while I have been hashing my way through the forests of low paying jobs across the deserted plains of unavailable employment and about to jump off the cliff marked "Save your Insanity", Mattel has put part of my childhood in the "Olden Days" part of the toy museum - no not "Old Days" but "Olden Days".

Remember the View Master?
 Image result for view master

That wonderful device allowed me to travel to countries half way around the world. While most of my friends had cartoon View Master disks, I had as many of different countries as I could get. I would spend hours clicking scene by scene as I made my way through the castles of Europe or the Pyramids in Egypt. I remember the Christmas I got my lighted View Master. 
Image result for lighted viewmaster
That was the one that allowed me to use it at night after bedtime. But I digress.

Well, today, I came across the following:

Image result for new view master

It is the new View Master or the Virtual Reality Headset. The one I reminisce about is now stored somewhere in toy purgatory along with the Tammy Doll, Silly Sand, and the Sixth Finger. 

That begs to ask, why did I want to grow up?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Minnesota, Large Dogs, and the Part I am Missing Here

Once again the algorithms confound me. Why do I get emails about accounting jobs in Minnesota when I entered "SC" as geographical area and Paralegal, Project Manager, or Executive Administrative Assistant as job titles? I do not do new math well. Hell, I never did old math well. 40 years later I still wake up in cold sweats fearing Mrs. Hay is going to call me on with a question about my algebra homework I know I cannot answer.

And then there was the job that looked perfect for me until the last part of the description that happened to mention the candidate needed to be able to lift 50 pounds, be on call at all times, and not be afraid of heights or large dogs. Somehow that criteria did not bode well.

I have said for years I could always move to the islands and skin fish or Plan B would be joining the circus. Now that I have my AARP card I qualify for the greeter's job at Walmart - a professional career is so  over rated. Who knew that math anxiety, acrophobia, and cynophobia could stymie your career path. And, those young folks are concerned about the dress code and a gym membership. Seriously? 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Movie Review - Black or White

There is no gray area in this film. It touches on the subject of race with all its ugly issues as it falls squarely in the middle of a family. And the role of Rowena Jeffers was written for Octavia Spencer. No woman can roll her eyes like that woman. When she looks at someone and gives them "that" look, they know she is serious. 

Kevin Costner plays Elliot Anderson a white attorney who we learn at the start of the film has just lost his wife in a car accident. Jillian Estelle plays his bi-racial granddaughter Eloise, whom he and his wife have had custody of since her mother died in childbirth. Up until that morning they had a wonderful life.

It is clear that Eloise is very happy in her home with her grandparents and they adore her. She is enrolled in a private school and is a cute, smart, well mannered little girl. No spoiler here, after her grandmother's death Eloise's other grandmother, Wewe (Spencer), makes it clear that the child needs "her people" and goes to court for custody.

The film is heart warming and heart breaking. Costner plays a man totally bereft without his wife, and now looking at the idea of losing Eloise is more than he can or wants to handle. He has issues. Eloise's real father shows up and he has issues. Nothing is clear.

The story is humorous at times. It is sad at times. And there times when you will ask yourself, "Would I act differently if it were me?"


If this were a bigger film, Estill would be up for some major awards. As it is she still was recognized by the Black Reel Awards as Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female. She plays this character so well. Need I say anything about Octavia Spencer, she was excellent in the film. And Costner plays the roll of Elliot so well. His on screen personality fits the part. 


This is not a story that is black or white. It does not answer the question we all still ask. It does not heal any wounds or beat any drums. It does show us that black or white don't matter. But best of all it is a good story, well acted, that is worth 121 minutes of your time.

Movie Review - Kingsman: The Secret Service

I adore Colin Firth, so this film had that going for it. I have always liked the James Bond franchise, so the nod to that I found interesting. And, by God, it was British.

The Kingsman is hard to put in a box (or behind a wall). One could describe it just as the five blind men described the elephant. In some ways it is a farce. There is a play on all the Bond toys in shoes, umbrellas, cigarette lighters, and some really neat glassware. Colin Firth's character, Harry Hart, is always dressed in the most dapper way, as only 007 would be.

Then there is the coming of age story. Eggsy (played by Taron Egarton) the young man who lost his father early on and shows the potential of growing into a petty criminal. But his connection with Hart changes his life.

There is the tycoon out to destroy the world with some dastardly plan. Samuel L. Jackson plays Valentine, the billionaire with a plan to save the earth from all man's pollution. And Gazelle (Sofia Butoulla) his double amputee, blade wielding good looking side kick.

And where would we be in a story like this without Micheal Caine in the role of Arthur (of all names) who is head of the Kingsmen organization. So together with all these characters and more, the story rolls along with a lot of humor.

The casting was adequate for the film. The story line was good and not always predictable. However 129 minutes is a long time for any film. And they tried to fill it with several fights scenes that were a little over the top. Even James Bond  never walked into a church full of people and walked out as the lone man standing. 

As long as you go in knowing that it is not a Bond film, that all the talent is at the top of the billing and there are many characters, there is no theme song by Adele or Beyonce, and it doesn't start with the iconic Bond credits, you should have a nice time. After all, it is based on a comic book.


Can You Twist, Train, and Shop?

In pouring through job ads, my eyes often start to cross. There are the posts for Project Managers, Business Analyst, Executive Assistants, etc. I have learned that the new term for "File Clerk" is "Administrative Assistant". 


In reading through the 5th web site of the day (all with listings tailored to my search criteria) I noticed some interesting positions added at the bottom of the list. Honest to God these are the listings that came up on my search criteria:

Wanted: Balloon Artist; Balloon art type: Simple balloon twisting (eg 1-balloon dog), using several balloons.

Wanted: Dog Trainer; One German Shepard to be trained; issues such as ptsd, depression, and anxiety; puppy is 1 week old.

Wanted: Wardrobe Consultant for 51-60 year old who has changed size, need assistance in shopping for new work clothes.

After reading those I wasn't sure if I had risen to the top or sank to the bottom. And, the sad thing was I was not remotely qualified for two of them and I could only wing the third one on my best day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Colorful Candy by Any Name

On February 15th I was shopping and found that the Valentine's Candy was half priced.  Seeing the Peanut M&Ms, I thought I would be thoughtful and buy a bag or two for my DH. They are one of his favorites. So I put three bags in my buggy.

As I made my way down the aisle I saw that the Easter candy was already on the shelf. It was if at midnight the Easter Bunny arrived and usurped Cupid on the "Holiday Candy Aisle". And, of course, there were the Easter Peanut M&Ms for exactly twice as much as the ones in my buggy.

So let's see. Today pink M&Ms with red ones cost half what pink M&Ms with yellow and green ones cost. Oh, of course the bags are different. I think my DH can handle red M&Ms mixed with his pink ones after Valentine's Day, even if the "Official" Holiday Candy aisle says it is now Easter. 

I'm surprised the candy companies are cashing in on the Mardi Gras holiday. That would make for a colorful mix of yellow, purple, and green. Then on Wednesday, those bags would be half price. 

To paraphrase Shakespeare, 'An M&M in any color is still an M&M."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Eggs, It's What's for Breakfast

Which came first the chicken or the egg? In the case of Finches it truly gets confusing. The feeding regime for my finches has been based on research I have done. Over the course of a week they receive a combination of bird seed, fresh alfalfa, thistle seed, a finch food, mealworms, millet, and egg. Yes - egg.

Cannibalism? No. It is suggested that you boil eggs and give the birds the egg and the shell daily (and remove it after an hour or two). I love my finches but I am not going to boil them an egg every morning - then hang around for an hour until it is time that what is left can be removed before it spoils. I wouldn't do that for my children. Luckily (for the birds) there is an egg supplement you can buy that can be put in a feeder that is stable. And it is one of their favorites.

Still, do cows like hamburgers? Or pigs pine for sausage? I don't think so. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

False Hopes or Fake Eggs

Back to the birds. Several weeks ago my Finches decided much to my dismay to lay eggs. Long story short I gave in and bought nests for them. The pair of Cut Throats immediately claimed one, started making themselves at home with pieces of alfalfa, and in a day or two had laid several eggs. One pair of Gouldians selected another nest and proceeded to do the same except with poorer home making skills. Soon they too had eggs.

We all waited with baited breath. We read that the gestation period for a clutch of Finch eggs was 14-20 days. Given they lay one egg a day - does that start from the day the first egg was laid or the last since they all hatch on the same day. None of the "experts" cared to share that tidbit. 

Early last week when I was out of town I received a call from home telling me that the Cut Throat eggs had hatched - we had 3 chicks. Then disaster, two days later they had perished. Meanwhile the Gouldian eggs had been tossed from their nest. (We read that the parents would do this when they realized the eggs were infertile.)

I had purchased better nests, so since no one was "nesting" my DH went into the cage, removed the old nests and replaced them with the newer more sturdy nests. Since the old Gouldian nest still had nesting material in it, he left that nest where it was. 

By the time I got back in town, the Cut Throats and the same pair of Gouldians had once again settled into the nests and had laid eggs. To make things interesting, the Cut Throats were nested in the Gouldians old nest and the Gouldians had taken up in the Cut Throats former nest. (There were several nests for them to choose from.) And the Cut Throats worked tirelessly everyday to add to the nest with pieces of alfalfa, much to our amusement. Often the pieces were too large to fit in the nest opening but the male Cut Throat would still hopelessly try to get the twig into the nest. Meanwhile the Gouldians' nest was bare at best.

Naturally my DH wants to remove the nests and the parents as soon as the eggs are laid and put them into a separate cage to ensure that the eggs safely hatch and the chicks are raised. Then what? I do not need more finches. I do not want to become a finch farm. After reading some Finch Forums, I have decided to let nature take its course, if some of the eggs hatch and some of the chicks survive then I will remove them and find them new homes. 

But I am not going to play God. For one thing, removing the birds out of the flight cage is extremely stressful for them and then I will have multiple cages. What happened the initial idea of a nice cage of warbling finches? So the finches are on their own, to raise their young or not.

Then yesterday, Eureka!  I found the solution on all places - Ebay (naturally). While looking for a special bird supplement I could not find anywhere else, I came upon some thing I never knew existed - fake eggs. Yes, by placing these in the nests of "habitual" layers, the finches will brood their nest and stop laying.

DUMMY EGGS STOP LAYING Fake Plastic Bird Egg Cockatiel Finch Parrot Conure Budgy

And they make them for all types of fowl, in appropriate sizes and color. Who knew? 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Rocket Scientist and Smart Women

According to a study, women ages 22 to 30 with no children and no spouse earned a higher median income than comparable men in 39 of the 50 largest U.S. cities in 2008.

Well, yeah . . . take away my gray hair, the wrinkles, make me single without children with the body of a twenty year old and I, too, could take on any 20 year old man in a major city. I don't think it took a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

Wait, here's a scenario: a co-ed team of workers were tasked with this study. The women took it seriously and conducted the research and came up with the findings. The men, however, thought the study dumb, after all everyone know men make more money. So instead of doing research and polling the population, they spent their time at the local bar.

When it was time to present their results to their manager, the men had nothing to show and, as usual, begged the women to share their findings - which they did. The study was approved to be published. After their presentation, their manager asked one of the men, "Have you ever considered Wichita, Kansas?" 

He looked puzzled and replied, "No Mam."

With that she announced that the women would get raises and promotions. 

The man was startled, "Why did the women get a raise when we did not and why in the world would I want to live in Wichita?"

"Young man," said the manager, "If you had even read the study you would know Wichita is one of the eleven cities where men do earn a higher median income than comparable women." 

It is like my Daddy used to say, there is always a man in charge with a woman sitting behind him either telling him he is wrong or what to do.