Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 2007

Halloween happens to be one of my favorite holidays. It is second only to Christmas, but not by much. What's not to like? You get to dress up, live a little, eat a lot of candy, and overall have a good time. If you are wondering, yes, I did dress up. I am playing a very elegant devil this time around. So, to celebrate the holiday here, I am posting a few links for people to enjoy and share. Maybe you'll be tempted to click.

  • Let's start official. What can be more spooky than the federal government? Getting serious, the Census Bureau has put out a Fact for Features piece on Halloween. I always find this feature very interesting. Some facts from the piece:
    • 1 billion pounds
      Total production of major pumpkin-producing states in 2006. Illinois led the country by producing 492 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $101 million. <> (We are carving pumpkins this year. Our daughter is taking one to school, the other will be in our front porch tonight).
    • 1,198
      Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2005, employing 38,718 people and shipping $13.6 billion worth of goods. California led the nation in the number of chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with 128, followed by Pennsylvania, with 121. <> and <> (2005 Value of Product Shipments). (Another reason I like Halloween is that I can get my chocolate fix).
  • Here is a Halloween Myths Quiz. See how you do knowing what is a myth and what happened for real when it comes to urban legends. I missed three. MSN also has a few other articles and features for the holiday. May be worth a look as well.
  • If you still need a reason to like Halloween, Ann Handley gives you "Five Reasons to Love the Big Business of Halloween." Here is the reason I liked from the post:
    • "Halloween is about community. Unlike other holidays -- like Thanksgiving, where you have to endure making nice with Aunt Ida and her wing-nut of a son, or like Valentine's Day, when it's the unattached who feel freakish -- Halloween is free from the pressure of sit-down meals with extended family and its complexities; free from heartache and an empty mailbox; and free from so much more...." (I think that's enough said).
  • If you decide to take photos, here is a little tip from Lifehacker on taking Halloween pictures in the dark.
  • And if you decide to give out candy, do not be the idiot who gives out crap. Here are "Top Ten Truly Terrible Halloween Treats" from the YesButNoButYes blog. As a kid, I always found one of these in my bags, and believe me, I hated those morons with a passion. Don't be that person. Get some good candy. Now, the list is not just all crappy stuff (like pennies, which make it at #7 on the list). There are some serious items like peanuts (It's #10 on the list, due to allergy potential).
  • Of course, I would be remiss in my duties as a librarian if I did not give you at least one link for some spooky reading. Here are some spooky classic stories you can read online, courtesy of the defective yeti blog.
  • For our readers who like to exorcise their spirits, so to speak, here is a recipe for a Zombie Cocktail from the Liquor Snob blog.
  • And finally, because it would not be Halloween without some temptation, here is some pumpkin porn. Yep, you read it right. Someone out there has carved some pumpkins in some explicit ways. So, here goes your one warning: if you are prudish or offend easily, do NOT click on the link. On the other hand, if you find pumpkin porn amusing, go right ahead and click here.
At the end of the day, I would like to leave readers with one reminder. Please be safe as you go out and have fun in the night. If you decide to drink, please do so in moderation. Don't ruin a good time by indulging in excess. And have a Happy Halloween.

P.S. Image found here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Texas State Report: There's too many reports

In a 668 page report, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission reported that there are too many agency reports in Texas. In what is obviously an example of the redundant, it turns out that a lot of those reports are for agencies that no longer exist, but no one had the brilliant idea of eliminating the reporting requirement. And here is the sad part:

"In the past, the state regularly compiled a list of about 400 reports that agencies were required by the Legislature to produce. But the commission found more than 1,600, and state records administrator Michael Heskett is pretty sure his team hasn't found them all."(emphasis added)

So, even in 668 pages, they may not have found all the reports just yet. The news story comes from the Houston Chronicle for 10/29/2007. It is entitled "State Report Says Texas Has Too Many Reports."

Friday, October 26, 2007

My political persuasion? Another little quiz

Well, this quiz is not exactly as accurate, in my humble opinion, as another one I took a while back (see here). But it does catch a bit of where I stand since I do believe in having some compassion. I am not anti-business, but I do believe based on current events that some serious regulation to curtail their lack of ethics and just overdone greed is in good order. I am not against making the profits. Make all you want. Is when you make the profits using questionable accounting practices, forsaking ethics, and exploiting your workers, refusing to pay them a decent wage and treat them with dignity where I have a problem. But that's me. Anyways, we made it to another Friday. Enjoy the weekend.

You Are a Liberal for Life

You've got a bleeding heart - and you're proud of it.
For you, liberal means being compassionate, pro-government, and anti-business.
You believe in equality for every person, and you consider yourself universally empathetic.
Helping others is not just political for you ... it's very personal too.

Not missing the commute

One of the big incentives for me moving out of Houston was the commute. These days, I get in my car, and I get to work within 15 minutes. It's 20 minutes or so with traffic, and I get to park in front of my building. More importantly, I know that if for some reason, I have to make a run for it to get my daughter in school, that I can do so in a timely fashion. At any rate, Docuticker had a post highlighting "where the commuting nightmares are." The post leads to various articles from BizJournals, one which includes rankings in 65 markets. Houston ranks #54 on that scale. And by the way, as if I needed less reassurance, it turns out Texas ranks #24 in a national survey checking to see who could pass their DMV test if they took it today. For the curious, yes, I passed the test. Would you be able to pass the test. Take the test here.

Given the nightmare on some days, I wonder if Houston could not have ranked any lower in terms of commuting. In my case, I used to take the commuter bus, which did diminish the boredom effect since I could read while I was on the bus. Unfortunately, between waiting for the bus and the overall not-so-good service of METRO, I don't really think it made up for not driving. Well, the gas saving was good, but when it comes to stress and aggravation one has to wonder if the gas saving really makes it up. While I would like to believe in public transportation, the reality is that as long as it remains erratic and unreliable in various markets, you are just not going to convince people to use it. This probably explains why most people prefer to drive to work, even if it means driving alone. The Census document, referred to in the press release I linked in the previous sentence, makes a reference to Houston as having a lower rate of public transportation use than other smaller cities. Having taking rides in METRO, I can see why. And let's not even consider their accident propensity. I will say I never rode a bus that had an accident, though I rode in at two that did break down on the road.

Stories and documents about long commutes catch my eye because I spent three years in a nightmare commute. People who live in cities often cite the amenities as the reason to be in the city. But, if you live out in the boondocks and then have to commute anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour and a half each way every day (my commute was about an hour on average each way, when it was good), the last thing you want to do on the weekend is get on the car to go back into that city to do whatever amenity sounds like fun. So, if it works for you, more power to you. I am not missing it. I do miss the fact there is no Half-Price Books nearby. Oh well.

Friday, October 19, 2007

On open mindedness quiz

Welcome to another Friday here at Chez Itinerant. This quiz actually was not too bad in terms of accuracy. I think most folks would say I am pretty easygoing. Those close to me probably know there are moments where I will draw my line in the sand and say, "The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!" (Find the rest of the quote here). Because in the end, you have to know when to go easy and when to make your stand. Anyhow, go amuse yourselves.
You Are 72% Open Minded

You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.
Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.
But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.
You're open to considering every possibility - but in the end, you stand true to yourself.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hmm, things they don't mind in Tyler?

This has to qualify as a "quote of the day" for me:

". . .and she said 'oh, good...we don't mind so much the rape and incest'!"

The context of the quote is that author Chris Crutcher was giving a talk about his works up in Tyler. His works address various issues such as homosexuality and rape and incest. He was asked if he would be speaking about homosexuality, to which he replied no, unless asked, and the person answered as indicated above.

You can draw your own conclusions from there. Yes, when I moved here, I knew that it was a lot more conservative than Houston. Then again, I knew as a whole that Texas skews conservative (to put it mildly). I try not to let it bother me much, since overall I don't place a high priority on political discussions. I have my views; I just don't see it as something for polite company. Anyways, the state does have a few other good qualities.

At any rate, I found the quote over at the blog Librarian's Rant, where they made a note on a recent keynote by Mr. Crutcher.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Carnival ride

Well, we have made it to another Friday, TGIF. Readers here know odds are good it's quiz time, so here is this week's amusement. Find out what carnival ride you would be. This result is not bad, but it is not perfect. Sometimes I do stretch myself a bit. Otherwise, the quiz captured me quite well. Anyhow, go give it a try if so moved. See below:

You Are a Log Ride

You prefer to live a fairly calm, relaxed life... with a few surprises thrown in.
You don't tend to get yourself worked up easily. You can roll with what life throws at you.
In relationships, you are steady and solid. You maintain a pretty broad perspective on what's going on.
That's not to say you can't get swept away. You're emotions run as deep as anyone else's.

Your life seems like it has been remarkably easy so far. But that's due to how you manage it.
You never stretch yourself too thinly, and you think out your decisions carefully.
Taking the time to enjoy each day is important to you, and you don't let your emotions rule you.
You stay the course and do what's right... knowing it will all work out in the end.

At your best, you are tolerant and understanding of other people's quirks.
You take "go with the flow" to the extreme. Even if you don't like where you're going.
At your worst, you repress your feelings and end up being a little tightly wound.
You definitely have some explosive emotions that occasionally come to the surface!

Tyler and leg hair

As my readers know, I moved to Tyler recently due to my new job. While I was aware of local events like the fair and the upcoming Rose Festival, I had no idea there were other local celebrities. According to this report from Tampa Bay 10 News, a man here in Tyler is going for the record of longest leg hair. You read that right readers. A leg hair five inches long to beat the previous record, verified by the local police and everything. He even washes it and conditions it (sounds like he takes better care of it than I do the hair on my head. I just wash it.). Just goes to show: you find something new every day.

A hat tip to Boing Boing.