Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 10 New years predictions from last year/predictions for next year

Gosh I love a good psychic.  I even like the bad ones.  The idea that we can peer into our own future is interesting because it seems to indicate that we value information about what will happen more than we value information about what IS happening.  I give you this example:

I work as a programmer in a software house.  We use software to track our progress on certain elements of the software we sell.  This tracking system knows when we started working on pieces as well as when we finished and if we paused to work on something else along the way.  We are also asked to predict for the software how long we think it will take us to perform a certain task.  This is very important to the company, because they use that estimate to tell the customer how long they can wait for certain enhancements and features to be released.  How is this similar?  The Company is asking us to make prognostications based on nothing more than our guesses when we have software that already knows the average time it takes for us to work on any past element of the software.  If we have an average that represents the time spent wouldn't that be more accurate than a bunch of knucklehead programmers guessing?  One would think, and yet the company is much more interested in the predictions of their resident software psychics. 

The other thing that makes it interesting is the whole phenomenon of the 365 days that it takes the earth to circle around the sun.  Why is this special?  I'm not sure, but it really seems important to everyone for all kinds of reasons.  Our gravitational path around the sun is the clockwork that marks our ability to drive and vote as well as retire; Or whether or not we will get in trouble because we forgot our anniversary or someones birthday.  It's amazing really.

Anyway.  I'm going to give you the top predictions I could find from last year and couple them with predictions I've made up or found for the new year.  Five of each.

10.  2009 Obama will be assassinated -  NOPE - I really shouldn't even bother putting this one on the list because every president that has held the office has had this onerous prediction pronounced every year.  I'm listing it as last years prediction of 2009, but you could just as easily post it for the future prediction for 2010.  It's really silly for anyone to pay attention to any psychic based on a prediction of a leader of a country to be taken out.  I wonder if John F Kennedy has been talking at all to Jean Dixon on the other side about her predictions.  I am pretty sure the secret service will be alerted to this blog as a result of my putting this on it.  I should have thought of it a long time ago, it will probably double my readership. Hi guys, I think you do a great job and that whole thing with the presidential gate crashers was a hoax.  Anyway, needless to say, the President is alive and well.

9.  2010 Bad year for Adobe - Adobe is the handy print format that made good on the wysiwyg promise with the PDF format.  Adobe also makes Flash a widely used plugin for web browsers.  Cyber-annoying people will be programming ways to make flash and pdf not work quite right on your computer.  This will be interesting because it will signal the first year that hackers have targeted something other than Microsoft.  I think it's because of the MAC/PC ads that Apple runs.  PC is always the funny guy and Mac is always the straight man.  I think hackers have finally gained a soft spot for dumpy old PC and started going after Adobe and their smug acrobatics.

8.  2009 There will be a knife attack on a top celebrity - Probably - I got this one from a 2009 prediction website in England.  Are they serious?  This is what passes for psychic these days?  Listen, claiming that some snot-nosed celebrity might have to put on a bandaid due to the errant handling of tools at a Beni-hana doesn't allow you to lay claim to a connection with the other side.  Sheesh.

7. 2010 Wikipedia will be quietly taken over by a wealthy benefactor - Wikipedia, everyones favorite source for semi-reliable information to be quoted later as absolute gospel fact has been on the ropes for the last while, they have taken to begging in a public radio fashion for more money to keep the Encyclopedia Galacticus up and running.  I think the only thing that will save it will be a rich benefactor that will quietly stop their whining and give them money in exchange for a few favorable articles that are willing to overlook more inconvenient truths.

6.  2009 - Global catastrophe from the environment - Not bloody Likely - Speaking of inconvenient truths, I really couldn't let this gem go.  There have been SO many predictions about the doom and gloom of the planet based on man's bad behavior, that I thought I would look into the archives and see what the predictions were for us in say 1975.   a noted Harvard (yes THE Harvard) professor said 'civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind' his name was George Wald.  There are tons of others, but this one is pretty out there.  15 to 30 years have long since passed and well, looks like we are still here.  'by 1995...somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct'  Came from Look magazine in 1970. The only thing that seems to really be extinct is Look magazine. The green chicken little has been squawking as long as there has been money to be granted for scientific research.  I'm not saying it's ok to run out and pollute your local watershed, but please, the sky is simply not falling.

5.  2010 - John Cusack will be cast in another disaster type movie - I really loved 2012.  It was terrific.  John Cusack was terrific in it and the movie itself told a great story.  I love a good disaster movie because they are so easy to start and so entertaining to watch start.  The problem is, the ending.  How do you end a disaster movie that started so well?  The answer posited by 2012 was 'you don't'.  You let the disaster come and claim a victory for mankind.  2012 is still coming, surely there is room for dear John to Captain us through at least one more disaster.

4.  2009 - Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo will split - WOW! HOWD THEY DO THAT?! - Amazing!  How can this NOT be considered evidence of the supernatural?  Absolutely shocking.  I mean a young emotionally unstable starlet and a young emotionally unstable football hero couldn't find a way to make it all work?  I saw this predicted in a hollywood 2009 prediction website.  They actually had the guts to predict it.  This would be a lot like me predicting that my boss would appreciate it if I would stay late once in a while to make sure work gets done. 

3.  2010 - Drew Carey gets another EXACT BID contestant - While I've been off for the holidays, I've resurrected  a tradition that I only knew as a child.  The watching of the Price is Right.  As a child the only way I really knew I was sick or on vacation was if I could watch that particular show.  Now that the venerable Drew has taken over for an increasingly crotchety Bob Barker, the show has taken on new life.  I believe this will be the year that someone gets the coveted BOTH showcases for guessing within 500 dollars of the actual price but will in fact the the price spot on.  This time Drew will act a lot more excited.  The first time he did it, he seemed almost in shock.

2. 2009 - There will be a movement to increase the length of the school year for children. - Amazing! - Granted, the movement was slight, but I do remember hearing our President talk about how all school should be much longer since the 'kids don't need to help with the farm anymore'.  I guess he means the kids that aren't currently growing up on farms.  The amazing Kreskin predicted this gem in 2008 along with some other tidbits that are interesting certainly.  I don't know that it would be a BAD idea, except it is hard enough for us to go on vacation as it is, much less do it when there is no summer vacation at all. 

1. 2010 - I'll stop writing this blog - It won't happen all at once, but rather I'll miss a posting (I've been like clockwork 2 times a month for 2 years).  Something will happen to cause me to miss one.  I'll run out of material, I'll be on an extended vacation, something.  Then once I've missed one, it's like going off your diet, you might as well just go to Golden Corral and eat until they ask you to leave the 'salad' bar.  Of course like other predictions, the future is hazy...

Happiest of new years to all of you! 
If you are a consistent reader thanks very much.  I really do enjoy writing for you. 
If you just stopped by thanks to your search engine.  I hope it's good for you. 
If you are a friend I've lost touch with, It's never too late. 
I wish happiness and health for everyone I can think of in the coming new year!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top 10 Not So great Gifts/Holiday Time Responses

This is my first time trying bloggers new and improved edit tool for blogs.  I hope it will work.

The top 10 list this holiday season will deal with the seamier side of the holidays.  Bad gifts and more bad behavior.  I'm preparing a blog based on requests I have had, but I'm not done with it, and quite frankly it's not the right time for it.  Instead I will reminisce once again on my own Christmas past as well as regale you with tales of others I have heard.  Bad gifts and Bad responses.  I don't mean for this blog to sound ungrateful, in fact, it's quite the opposite.  I look back on the 'bad' gifts I have both received and given and for some reason they touch me to remember them now.  The bad responses are the ones given around the holidays that seem to have a universal tone to them.

10.  Moon Boots - I was around 12 years old or so and Christmas was going to be lean.  I knew that.  In fact it was the same year that I got one of my favorite Christmas presents mentioned in a past Christmas blog.  The interesting thing about being a kid is that even though you may be aware of things going on around you, you really don't have any idea how they pertain to you.  Mind you, my own father was a strong hand to the grindstone when it came to showing gratitude for even the most inane gifts, but it was hard for me to look at these giant clod hopper shoes from the 70's and show off a glowing visage of gratitude.  I was growing to a rather uncomfortable height (6'1 by the time I was 12) and the LAST thing I really needed was something to make me look even clumsier.  That being said, the real problem was these moon boots were bright white and yellow.  They were everything a guy of 12 and rather tenuous self esteem could want.  That same year a kid 1 year younger than me in age got a big bird snow hat, with a big bird head that was the pom pom on top.  Suddenly I didn't feel so bad about my boots.

9.  Dumb Holiday Jokes - Also usually but by no means exclusively uttered by 'clever' children, these holiday jokes range from the goofifying of Jingle Bells laced with lyrics about the questionable hygiene habits of the Caped Crusader to an already goofy song like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer...'like a light bulb' indeed. My own dad had a rather interesting holiday tradition that involved a joke with a pun at the end that ended 'Rudolph the Red knows reindeer'.  Most of the differing versions were invented by him and each were appreciated with similar kudos.  My favorite iteration involved a tourist couple that was being driven around Leningrad by a gregarious cabby named Rudolph (I'm sure you can see this one coming in like Santa's sleigh is on fire).  When it started sleeting the husband asked Roudolph if everyone in the Soviet Union was Communist.  'Da, we are all communist' was the non too cheery reply.  Rather than antagonize his host about politics he decided to take another tack and ask about the weather.  He pointed to the snow coming down and asked 'do you get a lot of snow?'.  'Not snow, is rain'  The discussion starts to get heated and the wife notices that the cab is not going into the city but taking a rather scenic route.  She decides to quell the situation by saying 'Honey, don't question him.  Roudolph the red, knows rain dear'  .  My dad was famous for hulking corn balls of this variety.  I really miss him around the Holidays.

8.  Cross Country Skis - My mother (who never reads this blog) is from Finland.  In Finland, they enjoy snow sports of all sorts because suicide is really the only alternative. The national winter sport there really is cross country skiing.  This is fine if you live in Finland.  But one year we all got cross country skis for Christmas.  You could see the excitement and anticipation in our young faces knowing that THIS winter, we would be doing the 2nd most strenuous exercise known to man, while the other kids would be swishing downhill and letting an automated chair lift them up to the top of a hill.  Only later after are rather Karmic downhill ski accident that would claim my knee for the rest of my life did I realize that cross country was probably the much better, if not least exciting, option.  But when we got those skis, they only looked like work without productivity.

7.  Clever Clever Children - Christmas is for kids.  I disagree.  Christmas is for Adults to give to kids.  For we get the benefit of seeing young eyes light up to gifts that are seemingly impossible.  But those magic years are gone all too soon and are replaced with polite avarice mingled with mild contempt. The interesting thing is, given the material available the observations that the kids come up with are rather limited.  It's that age old chestnut of opening a present and exclaiming 'it's a box!'.  Usually the first time the 'It's a box' line is given it gets an inordinate amount of laughs and so like any young child comedian, you beat that dead horse until it is running backwards. And backwards it will run as though it was whipped by Hennie Youngman himself.  By the time you hear it the 5th time, it really takes all the air out of the room and you want to hide the rest of the presents.

6.  Squishy presents - Squishy presents mean only one thing.  Clothes.  Probably hand knitted, but under appreciated nonetheless.  As a young boy, when you feel that squishy package, you already know what it is, and you know it will be about as fun as a trip to the shoe store.  It's usually around this time that you learn your first lesson about gratitude and the nature of getting gifts.  First you make that face of indifference and you quickly turn to the more solid boxy looking presents.  Your parents then ask you if you LIKE your new sweater woven from pure Itch-alon.  you mumble a yah and depending on the proximity of the person that knitted it in the room, you were 'shown something' in the kitchen that amounted to you being shown the back of your dad's hand and lectured quickly but intensely about how much work was put into that sweater and how much more it means because it was built by hand specifically for you.  This doesn't really take, but the urgency of the message does.  Like so many things as a child, you develop the correct response long before you understand the reason for it.

5.  Santa won't come until you are in bed! - It's a good thing Santa leaves by 4 AM because I'm gonna be up grabbing at wrapping paper like a pulp vampire.  This seems so sadistic to kids.  BED?!  but I'M NOT SLEEPY!!!  So you spend the night tossing and turning in your bed trying as hard as you can to fall asleep only to wake up every 10 minutes to look at the clock to see that you still have at least 5 hours to sleep before you can even think about waking up.  Meanwhile, the parents are up trying to put together these gifts that a mythical corpulent elf is getting the credit for.  If they are lucky they will get a good 4 hours of sleep before hearing the semi-hoarse whisper 'CAN WE WAKE UP NOW?'.  Depending on your disposition when sleep deprived, it could make you want to take a flame thrower to the entire Christmas scene.  This sentiment was portrayed perfectly by the late Darren McGavin in a Christmas Story.

4.  What? No Batteries?! - I've experienced this one more than a couple of times.  It's a quick example of the extacy and the agony.  You finally get that super cool programmable tank you've always wanted (oh, wait, I believe that was my cousin that got that.  the PowerTrack.  lucky bastard. Different story)  and you come to find that when Santa came to your house, he took every battery in the joint.  You go rummaging around pulling the guts out of flashlights and radios trying to cobble together enough power to get that little helicopter off the ground (oh, that was my Brother that got that one) for maybe 6 minutes.  My dad was great at the large event, but not particularly good at the little details, but what are ya gonna do?  You've get these great presents for these ingrates you brought into the world and all they can say is 'do we have any batteries?' Why I oughta... (Mine was a transistor radio that I got in Arkansas.  It was the first freedom of communication that I had even though it was just one way.  I listened to 'The Streak' and felt like I got away with something.  Once I had the batteries that is.)

3.  Better late than never - Sometimes when you are hiding your presents from prying eyes, you do the job just a little too well.  You are hiding presents from 6 year olds, not professional spies.  But as it is, you end up hiding the present from everyone, and you forget to give the gift at all.  This is a sign of 2 things.  1.  You bought too much stuff! and 2.  Congratulations, you have become just as absentminded as your parents.  So you end up finding this present around mid July 4 years later when you are digging out the old fireworks you didn't light up on New Years.  Of course you have to open it up again because you have also forgotten it's contents.  Hmmm...a book on famous stories in American history (with illustrations).  You forget who it was for because you were giving what you wanted to give and not what they wanted, so you decide to give it for the next birthday present.  DOUBLE BONUS!

2.  Clever Clever Children Part II - When the holidays roll around and you are a kid, any wrapped gift is looked at like chum for sharks.  It's almost unbearable to look at any of the brightly colored boxes.  You MUST open them.  It's what you were built for.  If there was a job that involved opening brightly decorated boxes, surely you would be the richest kid in the world by now.  Kids are quickly taught to associate Christmas with payday.  As such, they realize that there is a protocol of quid-pro-quo that is traditionally to be followed.  In my family the family presents are opened on Christmas Eve.  Christmas Day was saved for Santa presents.  The rules were as follows:  Nobody opens presents until dinner is eaten.  Nobody opens presents until things are cleaned up.  Nobody opens presents until we are all ready.  NOBODY!!!  This can produce whining, but whining lights up Santa's naughty board like, well, a Christmas tree.  So you put up with it. You experience your first disgusting display of brown nosing, and the parents eat it up.  But there comes a point, just like the 'just what I wanted a box' joke that enough is too much.  That's when it's time to bring the video camera out. Better get used to this behavior.  It gets useful in other aspects of life. 

1.  Re-gift - This is probably the worst gift anyone could give, but really doesn't matter for the receiver.  You see, the sad recipient of this gift doesn't usually know that they got hoodwinked.  But since gifts are for the giver.  The regift is usually done out of desperation.  Either you didn't expect a present from these people you thought you hardly knew, or the present is too difficult to find for a person you are obliged to get a gift for.  You don't want to get them another calendar, and they really aren't close enough to you to put THAT much thought into the present.  So you look at the other presents you got from 2nd tier friends and you quickly decide that the Holiday size salted Nut roll would be the perfect gift to give to that buddy that slipped your mind.  Shame on you twice.  Shame...Shame... (I know, we all do it and it isn't THAT big a deal, unless it is, but I had to round out the list)

ho ho hope you liked this list.  If you didn't, I hope you get that Holiday sized salted Nut roll and wonder 'now why would they give me a present with their name in...oh'

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays etc.