Showing posts from December, 2011

Wal-mart at Christmastime

Generally, there's no deeper pit of hell than Wal-mart. The awful fluorescent lighting, the cart that undoubtedly has one bad wheel, the inability to find what you're looking for ever since they changed things, the sure knowledge that you have sold your soul to Sam Walton because there's simply no way to meet the monthly budget without him. Not while the boy drinks three gallons of milk a week. That said, when I see people laughing at "People of Wal-mart" or the current meme of "Wal-mart Bingo," I start to wonder what we find so amusing. Sure enough, the photos of "People of Wal-mart" are pretty awful. They're generally photos catching unattractive people unawares - oh my, this lady's buttcrack is showing? That guy's wearing shorts with a long-sleeved shirt! That woman is too fat for her outfit! This guy's got a really long beard! The Wal-mart Bingo is so much worse. Among the mocked are "someone with an eyepatch,"

Geek Points

Setting: The Daily Show is on. Boy flops onto the couch. ME: It's bedtime. BOY: Just a few minutes? I love Daily Show. ME: Hmmm. Look, you're still here and not in bed. BOY: I'm not here. ME: I see you. You are here. BOY: *handwave* These are not the droids you're looking for. ME: *bwahahaha* You get to stay up a few minutes more just for the geek points.

Communing With the Cosmos: A Conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson

I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson yesterday at a ribbon-cutting for the new observatory in Edwardsville. In addition to the story I wrote for the News-Democrat, I had him cornered at the top of the stairwell next to the telescope, so I asked him a few more questions. Here is the long version of our interview, for those who are interested in such wonderfully nerdy things as planetary biota, the physics of interstellar space travel and the devolution of Pluto. In case you're wondering, Dr. Tyson is just as emphatic, enthusiastic and personable in real life as he is jousting with Jon Stewart over the planethood - or not - of Pluto. It's easy to see how he has become the Elvis of astrophysicists. I was tempted to tell him that on this year's book tour, the button we sold out of most quickly and literally could not keep in stock was the one that read, "Pluto is still a planet, I don't care what you say." Q: What do you think about the

A $16,000 Cup

We're in the middle of a battle right now. Not my partner against his illness - no, that battle is fought and nearly won. The real battle is Us vs. the Insurance Company. A union man, J has never had to battle his insurance. I know a few other people who must have mega-insurance, because when I tell them about the incessant fights I've had on behalf of my son and (occasionally) myself, they said, "I've never had to do that." I envy them. I envy people who can go get an MRI when the doctor says they need one. Mine would have cost $930 - after insurance. So I didn't get it. Programs? Yes, there's programs. You can apply... after you get the bill. Don't qualify? Out of luck. As most of my friends know, J was rushed to the hospital two months ago with symptoms of a heart attack. Fortunately there was no lasting damage to his heart - just a warning flare, they said. But while they were poking around in there, they discovered he has nine ulcers in his s