Monday, December 27, 2010

Hugh Hefner is in love - again

Is this news we really want to know? The founder of Playboy, Hugh Hefner, who has reached the ripe old - accent on old - age of 84, is smitten to coin an old word. The object of his affection is one former Playboy Playmate, Crystal Harris, who happens to be 24 years old and a model/singer. He says he's really in love in spite of a huge (my choice of words) age difference. Interesting that in the past, Hugh has always focused his affections on former Playboy models but of course he dates these types because he enjoys their stimulating intellectual rapport. Wink-wink...but I digress.

According to Hefner, he gave Crystal a ring on Christmas Eve while the two were watching a movie. A movie - how exciting - and there's no information about which film they were watching, whether they were eating popcorn or whether Hugh fell asleep. I mean, the man is 84 after all!

The engaged couple met in 2008 at the Playboy Mansion (where else) during a Halloween party. Did I mention that Harris happens to be December 2009 Playmate and served as Playboy mag's 2010 Miss January? In an interview, Harris called living with Hefner at the Mansion 'amazing.' She also explained to anyone who would believe it that she wasn't after Hef for his money. "I have my own career going." Uh-huh...sure...

Statistically and for those people keeping track, this is the 3rd time Hef is marching to the alter. He had been dating twins Karissa and Kristina Shannon while dating Harris. Thinking ahead, when Crystal is 84, Hugh will be 144.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hey! It's Festivus for the rest of us

This year, wanted to make sure that the holiday of Festivus is marked on the day the holiday occurs. In previous years, somehow it slipped by without recognition until the day after. Not that it really makes a difference in the scheme of things but holidays should be celebrated on the day they take place.

For the uninformed, this holiday got its start as a segment on the still-lamented TV comedy series, "Seinfeld" with Frank Constanza, George's father, who explains the holiday this way, "many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way." The doll was destroyed but as George elaborated, "out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!"

The holiday is unique in that it includes the Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength. Who among us hasn't or doesn't air our grienvances at some point? Speaking for myself because nobody else will, I recently aired a grievance at the supermarket, when returning rotten cheese. Don't think that the cashier was aware of the Airing of Grievances in spite of numerous attempts to explain, but she still gave me my money back. In as far as Feats of Strength are concerned, just this morning I brought a trash bag filled to capacity to the disposal shoot and tossed it in. Two days ago I walked along a slush-filled sidewalk ignoring the option to walk on the cleared road. These are feats, friends!

Last but certainly not least, there's the Festivus Pole, in which an un-decorated aluminum pole is displayed in place of a Christmas tree. One could, if one felt moved, dance around the pole or perhaps - just a thought - string up some cord and hang laundry.

So once the binge-watching of TV series has lost its charm and all the gifts are wrapped, and the cat has re-decorated the tree as only cats can do, get the gang together and hold hands singing around the Festivus pole. Why? Why not?

It's Festivus all Across the Land

(Sung to the tune of "Winter Wonderland")
Grievances aired, are you listening,
At the dinner, meatloaf is glistening.
A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight.
It's Festivus all across the land.
Standing there, is an old pole,
Unadorned, it is a strong pole.
It stands straight and tall,
As we go along,
It's Festivus all across the land.
In the Living Room we can wrestle,
And try to pin the head of the house.
He'll say: Are you ready?
We'll say: No, man.
But we will do our best
To pin him down.
Later on, we'll conspire,
As we air grievances by the fire.
To face unafraid,
The gripes we have made,
It's Festivus all across the land.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two tweeters no longer like me

Today's blog is on the short and not-to-sweet side. Somehow and according to my Twitter page stats, two tweeters have dropped me. This has got me wondering first of all, who are they and secondly, what was their motivation.

Sharing tweets that strike the imagination of tweeters is a challenge in itself and it's nice when people find one (me) interesting enough to follow one(me again).'s also somewhat blechy discovering one has been dropped. One explanation might be that the new tweeter-ers followed me and I didn't reciprocate. It was a twitter social faux-pas. I can live with it.

Another possibility is that perhaps my subject matter didn't interest them. I mean, my tweets do cover life's more quirky stories like road kill calendars, cheese rolling events, Paul the octopus demise, a woman marrying herself...but also more staid commentaries including celebrities being and acting like celebrities. I like diverse subjects.

So the two tweeter who dropped me will miss out on all my creative commentary and witty repartee. Their loss. Plenty more tweeters 'out there' somewhere waiting to be my friend. Y'a wanna be my friend?

Monday, December 20, 2010

My tweet level ain't so tweet

As if I don't have enough Twitter-related complexes to deal with what with Twitter losing my followers count a while back and now something new has been added to the equation.

Seems that a tweet-er (always makes me feel like a bird, somehow) can now, if she/he really wants to know, find out her tweet rating in comparison to other famous and regular tweet-ers. Thinking further, I should never have clicked on to Tweet Level and definitely should not have looked into my rating. Ignorance is bliss and all that. However, curiousity got the better of me or perhaps it was merely ego.

It's very simple. All one has to do is to type or key in one's name in the tweet level box and then depress the calculate button or whatever you wanna call it. The results are broken down into four categories and in my case here aer the results:

Influence 30.1
Popularity 29.7
Engagement 25.6
Trust 14

According to the accompanying explanation blurb, my Influence Score could increase if I followed more people and get them to tweet more to me, presumably, take part in conversations, post interesting content and express whatever is on my mind (no help needed in the latter). Here I thought I was doing to pretty good job! There have been opportunities where people have followed me in an attempt to get me to follow them. Thing is, many are obvious and overt business promotions that don't interest me. If I don't follow them, they almost always drop me. Oh well - I can live with it!

Moving on, my Popularity Score is low and based on how many followers I have and the lists my name is included on.
"Many Twitter measurement tools purely rank people according to this metric, however just because someone is popular doesn't mean they are influential," the Tweet Level whatever relates. It suggests that my popularity could be increased if I follow people who are relevant to the areas that I find interesting. Perhaps, but even with people with whom there is commonality doesn't necessarily mean their level of interest warrants me as a follower.

See what I mean? Yet more Twitter-related angst.

Seems that my Engagement score is low due to the means in which I interact with my community and offers a reminder that Twitter is about conversations. Interesting conversations.
"Take the time to know the people who follow you and contribute to the many interesting discussions out there," is their suggestion. In other words and IMHO, jump in on any and all on-going conversations, no matter what the subject and/or the inane comments posted.

My Trust score is low so I'm informed, because my content tweeted is "either not credible, interesting or newsworthy." Oh goody - such positive feedback! The Edelman Trust Barometer whoever or whatever they are, states that 77% of people refused to buy products or services from a company they distrusted. Thing is - I'm not selling a product as many of the tweeters appear to do.

"Trust can be measured by the number of times someone is happy to associate what you have said through them – in other words, how often you are re-tweeted. To increase your trust score create more posts that will give your followers a reason to retweet what you have said."

And so we go around and around and around in circles.

I dunno. When it's all said and done or written, the bottom line is don't look for trouble and stay away from gadgets that will tell you what you don't want to know. I'll just wait for the right tweeters to come along and follow me for the right reasons, whoever they are.

BTW and for the record, top Tweeters are KhloeKardashian has an influence rating of 92.9, The Ellen Show rates 99.6 in popularity and Justin Bieber has a 100% popularity rating.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cleaning up on toilet etiquette

For most of us a bathroom serves as a utilitarian tool in which to perform certain bodily functions and then we depart. It doesn't rate as a primary focus in as far as the surrounding utilities are concerned. On the other hand using a public bathroom can be a somewhat daunting experience especially when cleanliness is an issue. In some coutries, bathroom etiquette plays an important role in society. Take Singapore for example, who recently launched the public campaign, LOO or Let's Observe Ourselves, in an effort to clean up its public bathroom image. Taking those three words at face value and given the subject being bathrooms... but I digress. Anyway...

Having 30,000 public washrooms, the city-state is making a conservative effort to make 70% of them 'three-star-clean' by the year 2013. In a survey conducted by the Restroom Association (Singapore), only 500 of their toilets overall were up to standards that include working facilities (presumably referring to toilets that flush and/or don't over-flow), lack of visible trash and odor and the presence of hand soap and toilet paper or hand dryer. Speaking/writing of electric hand-dryers, why is it that so many public washrooms use hand dryers that make a lot of noise but have barely any air, hot or cold, to dry hands? It's easier to use toilet paper that ends up sticking to wet hands but again I digress.

RAS President, Tan Puay Hoon, told reporters at a press conference that in Singapore culture, toilets indicate how civilized the population is. Actually, the state of toilets anywhere and everywhere says something about a given society. In visiting various countries in Europe, I've come across facilities that include a drain in the middle of a tiled floor to relieve oneself. The first assumption was that the toilet had been removed for whatever reason but then after checking with the owner of said bathroom it appears that one squats and... You get the picture.

The RAS rates toilets from three to five stars depending on the quality of the facilities. For example, a four star toilet would have a diaper-changing place or urinal for children, whereas a five-star rating would have eco-friendly features like water-saving taps.

To call attention to its 3-year blueprint on public restroom and a public awareness program, the RAS launched LOO@Heartlands -- the first coffee shop with a five-star toilet. The RAS said it would also distribute packets of pocket paper with restroom how-to etiquette messages to toilet users during peak hours at shops nearby.

The RAS was founded in 1998 as a non-profit organization and says it is dedicated to promoting the cleanliness, design and functionality of public toilets in Singapore.
The LOO Campaign began in 2008. The RAS has also conducted the Happy Toilet School education program and is a founding member of the World Toilet Organization and the Keep Singapore Beautiful Movement.

When it comes to bathrooms, Singapore wants to be flushing with pride. Don't we all?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stuff you need to

It's one of those surveys that make you wonder how they reach these conclusions. More to the point, why did poll takers bother going around asking Americans what their most annoying word is. In the end, will it have any effect, anyway?

Again for the second consecutive year no less, the word 'whatever' topped a Marist poll for being the most annoying word or phrase in the English language. Who wants to know this and why?

To discover the answer to this question, one must go to the source of the question, the Marist Poll, for a further explanation. To break it down, 39% of Americans actually despise(!) the word followed by 'like' coming in at 28%. Following close behind, 'you-know-what-I-mean' is deemed the biggest verbal gaffe by 15% of the population. Close on the heels is 'to-tell-you-the-truth' at 10% and 'actually' is irritating to a mere 5% of the population.

Come to think of it (a term I use very often and probably bugs a lot of people) these are phrases that most people utter regularly. My choice is you-know-what-I-mean. There is something about that phrase...

Interestingly, among younger Americans in the 18 to 29 category, 44% wouldn't mind if 'like' was eliminated for everyday conversation, while 37% of those in the 30-44 age category claim the usage of the word 'whatever' bothers them the most. Finishing it off, 46% of Americans in the 45-59 age group and 40% of those in the 60 years old category agree.

In case anyone was wondering, "The Marist Institute for Public Opinion (MIPO) is a survey research center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Founded in 1978, MIPO is home to the Marist Poll and regularly measures public opinion at the local, state, and national level. The Marist Poll is highly respected and is often cited by journalists and analysts around the globe."

Your most annonying word(s)?


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ach - der pooches not part of separation package

Couples who are extended family to pets don't always if rarely think about setting out legal agreements and visitation rights when it comes to the non-human family member(s), especially when in cases of separation leading to divorce.

This became a legal issue in Germany when a woman filed suit to get visition rights to see the former couple's dog. You read it right: their dog.

In the suit the former wife attempted to force her estranged husband to give her visiting rights to their pooch, which they had acquired during their marriage, on a regular basis. They had agreed as part of the separation that the husband would have custody of the dog but the woman wanted to increase visiting to twice per week.

In response, the former husband objected and the court found that while separated spouses have a right to a fair division of property, this did not include joint custody of pets.

In their edict, the court decided that "rules applying to visitation rights for a child do not apply here. Under such arrangements, the primary concern is the welfare of the child and not the emotional needs of the other spouse."

Given all the problems in the world i.e. poverty, starvation, homelessness, etc. couples fight over pet visition rights? Seems to me that the husband was using the dog as means in which to get back at his former wife. Could they both not have agreed that she could see the dog in a neutral place i.e. veterinarian's office or pet shop... If only our pets could speak, what stories they would tell.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Kate Gosselin was not a happy camper but Sarah Palin was!

Like many TV viewers, "Jon & Kate Plus 8" was on my TV grid as a program to watch. Seeing the Gosselin brood mature from diaperhood to cutesy performing TV kiddies was fun. The fun ended when the parents started acting like children but that as they say, is another story.

In any case, Kate Gosselin and her youthful brood has moved on and the now glamorous Hollywood-type mom has her own TLC specials. Most recently and definitely not coincidentally, she ended up in Alaska.

Just so happens that aspiring political candidate, nature lover/hunter, Sarah Palin, who hails from Alaska, also has her own TLC TV series promoting her home state.

Kate meet Sarah - Sarah meet Kate. Do you see a ratings boost?

It was a natural match-up when the TLC powers-that-be decided to have Kate and her gang visit Alaska and meet up with Sarah. Thing is, things didn't go exactly as planned.

Some people are outdoorsy and some of us just aren't - I'm in the latter category - and Kate proved that her inner-camper just wasn't 'there.' Initially, Kate and Sarah bond focusing on the bad media but as time goes on, things take a negative turn.

In the way of an introduction to the wild Alaska wilderness, Sarah brings Kate to a bear safety class to prepare her in the event of a personal meet up during their camping trip. To make matters worse, it was pouring rain, which doesn't help one's disposition. Palin, obviously used to the terrain, was loaded for bear unlike Kate who was colder than... Really, cold.

"I'm not worrying about bears right now," she kvetched. "I'm just worried about keeping my toes wiggling 'cause they're freezing."

Hey - as a Canadian, I know where you're coming from, Kate!

The Gosselin kids, however had great fun while Kate took refuge under the tarp and the Palin family being used to the wild, revelled in the experience. After a meal of burgers and hotdogs - the burgers by the way were moose - Kate had enough. This after a few hours after their introduction to the wild Alaska wilderness.

Kate departed with her offspring in tow and Palin, ever the politician and show personality commented: "Well, I thought we were gonna go camping with the Gosselins," she says when it's all over, full of glossy good cheer. "Turned out, we didn't. We had lunch with them on a sand bar."

Oh well - they'll always have Alaska.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Winter weirdness syndrome - of snowmen and Christmas lights

It's snow joke (excuse the pun) that Europe is struggling with an unusually brutal early winter with copious amounts of snow resulting in closed schools, traffic snarls and people generally experiencing difficulties dealing with an unusual situation. Perhaps it's the white-ness of the snow or something that can cause a temporary brain freeze.

As if the police don't have enough problems dealing with emergency phone calls, a woman living in Kent, England, called the local police to report - wait for it - a missing snowman. According to the caller who appears to be the snowman creator, she hadn't checked on the snowman for five hours. Just thinking...why is it always a snowMAN and not a snowWOMAN? Perhaps the term snow-person is an option but I digress. In her absence, the snowman disappeared she claimed. This leads one to question whether this was a crank phone call but the police certainly were not amused. I mean when you think about it - really - who would steal and snowman and why? There's enough snow to go around for everyone to make their own snowperson.

"This call could have cost someone's life if there was a genuine emergency and they couldn't get through. It was completely irresponsible,' said Chief Inspector Simon Black.

Had to be some type of brain freeze that caused temporary shut down of her brain.

Then there are the people who use the holiday of Christmas to explore their inner decorator. Take Mike Babick for example - neighbors would add - somebody please - who each year goes all out and then some, decorating the exterior of his home with lots of lights and holiday figures that draws people from near and far to gawk. His home located in Kansas City displays in excess of a thousand figures housed in display cases on his roof top, no less. The display, which takes a month to set up, draws 250,000 visitors and he knows since he installed a vehicle-counter on his street.

So imagine 250,000 visitors arriving on a regular basis to stare at the display, including limos and busses(!).

In response to complaints from thirty residents, police made Babick's block temporarily a one-way street, posting no-parking signs, but the multitudes still come, some of whom park in private driveways.

Here's a sample of Mike's artistry for the world to see, captured on YouTube:

Did someone say there's an energy shortage? Clark Griswold would be proud.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Not that much strength in numbers, alas

As a blogger with six blogs no less, I've frequently pondered as to who reads my literary output. Now I know.

Relatively recently, Blogger introduced or maybe it was always there and I never took advantage of it, statistics pertaining to the who, what and where of people reading my blogs. There is an option to turn it off if I want but somehow there's a compulsion to know who's "out there" in cyberland. In retrospect, perhaps I should have clicked on the "don't track your own page views" option. Actually, I've never been big on statistics anyway and have trouble interpreting their meaning. What are numbers, anyway, in the big scheme of things? Right?

In any case, statistics indicate that this blog, Gimme a Break, is the most viewed out of the six since IMHO, it focuses on the quirky, irrelevant yet interesting people, places and things that make life interesting. For example, 330 people dropped by for whatever reason for the entire month of November 2010, while in the "all time history" category, there were 648 page views since its inception. Furthermore, people living in the U.S. frequented the blog most often followed by the Netherlands, Russia, Canada, Germany...etc. Your presence was and is much appreciated, people! This is my favorite blog because it always amazes me how many bizarre and interesting things and people 'out there' on planet earth, waiting to be brought to the attention of readers. It's also the blog in which I express my rants and raves and get things off my chest, so to speak.

The next two in popularity is Note to Myself and A. Playwright's Rambling, the latter devoted to my quest to get any of my plays produced and a means in which to express my angst and frustration, thereof. All this is to say - or write - that ignorance is bliss and some things are best left alone. As a blogger the purpose of sharing our views is the hope that someone, somewhere on this planet, appreciates or finds them interesting. The stats are also an indication as to the popularity of a subject and which subjects interest people.

My newest addition is Starting Over, a fiction story focusing on Sheila, who leaves her hockey-crazed husband to start over, hence the title. It started out strong with regular installments but somehow lost steam along the way. Number-wise, 103 people dropped by in total to read the continuing saga, a cross between a romance story and a soap opera, and 14 people dropped by last month. I suppose if the numbers indicated there was an interest, the story would continue. Then there's a gardening blog, Living in Condoville, a light-hearted look that examines the ups and downs of condo living with names changed to protect the guilty,

So there we have it. To look or not to look - that is the question. I mean, how could I not want to know whose reading this?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Do They Know It's Christmas hits a sour note with Bob Geldof

I dunno. If I was a talented song writer and performer like Bob Geldof, I'd be thrilled that my songs were being heard - and played - and appreciated by music lovers all over the planet. However, this isn't the case.

In fact Geldof regrets in a big way having even written "Do They Know It's Christmas" and "We Are the World" since they are sung, played and heard, everywhere, even the supermarkets and therein lies the problem.

"I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history. One is 'Do They Know It's Christmas? The other one is 'We Are The World,' he told Australia's Daily Telegraph. "Any day soon, I will go to the supermarket, head to the meat counter and it will be playing. Every [expletive] Christmas."

Yes Bob - I admit I heard it recently while shopping in a mall and mentally sang along. What can I say? I'm crass.

Geldof wrote the songs with Midge Ure for the now famous Band Aid in 1984 but he gets up tight when carolers perform the hit in front of his house during Christmas.

Hey Bob - that is the ultimate honor! Not to be over-looked is the attention the songs brought to starving people in a part of the world that most likely wouldn't have received help.

"They think 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' is as old as 'Silent Night,'" Geldof went on to say. "Sometimes I think that's wild because I wrote it. Or else I am thinking how much I want them to stop because they are doing it really badly."

Oh please, Mr. Geldof! Me thinks the writer/singer doth protest too much. Given the popularity of both songs, it's unlikely that both will be removed from the play list during holiday time. Get over it and savor the success is my reaction!