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Public Service November 30, 2011

Posted by skinbad in Ballistics, Crime, Family, Food, Stupid shit.
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Should you ever find yourself in the position of the victim in this story, simply retrieve this card from your wallet or purse. Sometimes we all  need reminders in stressful situations.


When Practical Jokes Turn Bad November 30, 2011

Posted by wintersetruss in Crime, Law, Man Laws, Sidebar Flag Bullshit.
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Have you ever played a great prank on a friend or coworker, only to have the prank turn a little uncomfortable between the setup and the payoff?  That’s where I’m at today.

In case you didn’t know, I work at a farm implement dealership in the parts department.  Back in mid-October, the parts department noticed that the sales department kept leaving the keys in a “gator” utility vehicle overnight.  They kept leaving it right outside the front door, so it wasn’t like it was back away from everything where it would probably never be noticed.  We kept telling them that was a bad idea, but they kept doing it day after day.  Finally, on the last Sunday in October, I was out at the dealership pulling some parts for one of our mechanics when I decided to make a statement.

I hopped in the UV, started it up, and drove it to the furthest point on the lot away from it’s normal location, where I hid it behind some combines in a shed.  I put the keys for the vehicle under the counter at my workstation, and then called a coworker AND a member of the corporate parts team to let them in on the gag (just so I couldn’t be accused of trying to steal the damn thing….I may be dumb, but I ain’t stupid).  They both got a good laugh out of the joke, and we thought about starting up a pool as to when the sales department would notice the missing vehicle and start a panicked search for it.

Skip to a whole month later, and the gator is still gathering dust down in the shed where I hid it.  There’s ZERO indication that anyone knows it’s gone, and that worries me more than if the sales department had blown up over its absence.

So I need some input from you, my fake-internet friends, on how to proceed from here.  Do I bring it back & put it exactly where I found it (with the keys in the ignition and everything)?   Or do I double down and try to see if they notice a tractor or combine going missing?  There’s a big ol’ 4WD Cat Challenger with front & rear dualies sitting across the road in our “used” lot that sticks out like a big yellow sore thumb in that sea of green.  I’m thinking that the Cat might be a suitable candidate for escalation, but I don’t think “going there” is a good idea for multiple reasons:  Mostly because there’s no good place on-site to hide it so I’d have to take it off-site to make the gag work, and that’s awfully damn close to THEFT for me to be comfortable.


The Crap Tree November 28, 2011

Posted by daveintexas in News.
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[Note by Michael:  It has become a tradition at Innocent Bystanders to annually republish the first-ever blog post by Dave in Texas during the Christmas season.  It has become a classic.  This is the original version, which actually predates the founding of Innocent Bystanders.  Except I have greatly improved it by centering the pictures.]

Several years ago my wife conceived a plan to take over Christmas decorations in our home. She’s been very patient, moving so carefully that I only realized the scope of her plan this year. This fight isn’t over, not by a long shot. But I’ve lost a lot of ground.

I am what you would call a ‘Christmas kind of guy’. I love Christmas. I love the lights and the pretty packages, the wreaths, the greenery hanging everywhere. I like Christmas plates and coffee cups. Christmas cookies, Christmas music, Christmas towels in the bathrooms, Christmas napkins, Christmas movies and books, if they had Christmas toilet paper I would buy two cases (does anybody know if they make that?). I think Christmas lights on pickup trucks look terrific.


I really dig Christmas.

As soon as the clutter is cleaned away from the Thanksgiving feast, I’m up in the attic getting boxes down. I know where every one of them is, and I pretty much know what’s inside of them. Not because I pack them up every January (that always makes me sad). I suppose it’s just that we tend to use the same boxes for things. You could sum up my taste in Christmas decorations in one phrase. Colored lights. Yes, like the late Michael Kelly wrote on the topic of Christmas lights, there are white light people, and colored light people. I’m in the second group. Years ago I conceded the inevitability of teeny lights taking over. I gave up trying to find strings of lights with those big painted bulbs that burned your fingers. I miss them, but I understand. Technology changes things. But even if they’re teeny, I have to have colored lights. This theme extends to other decorations.


I have an affinity for Christmas-schlock. The cheesier the better. A dancing Santa Claus with an electric guitar and sunglasses? Oh yes. Strings of lights that look like jalapenos? Lovely. Elves laid out in a winter North Pole Office Party display, holding little cans of Bud Light while singing drunken Christmas tunes? I am so there. And you have guessed the dark secret of Christmas in our home. My wife is not a colored lights kind of person. She is a white lights gal. I don’t blame her, taste is subjective, right? Eye of the beholder and all that. We can coexist. We can cooperate, compromise, a little give here, a little take there. We’ll find a way to get along. You know, the Russkies and the Americans. Detente baby.


limited edition strat and twin reverb amp ornament

Well, I was wrong so I didn’t see it coming. It started with a new Christmas tree. She brought it home a few years ago. It’s bigger than our old tree. 10 feet. It’s frickin ginormous! Me, I’m all excited. What could be better than one Christmas tree? Two trees! Oh yeah, two sets of lights and ornaments and glitter, extra room for more presents. This will be so cool! I set the new tree up first. In the formal dining room, right there in the front window where everyone can see it. We decided the older tree would be just fine in the family room, we moved some things around and set it up there. Looked just fine. I didn’t even notice when my wife pulled the strings of white lights out that something was amiss. ‘Sure’, I thought, ‘woo… fan-cee’. What the heck. White lights on the new tree.

Then I noticed we had packages (really nice packages, you know, the kind of shopping bags you keep cause they’re so pretty?) with more ornaments in them. Impressive looking ornaments too, glass and crystal and gold. Wow. But hey, 10 foot tree, sure, we’ll need more stuff to put on it. It was when I reached into a box to pull out my favorite lights, the string of little Fender Telecasters, and headed for the new tree, that the plan in its entirety was revealed to me. She said ‘STOP right there!’ evenly spacing her words using a tone of voice that said I should seriously consider stopping right there. ‘There will be none of that on this tree’, she said. Same tone. I said what most husbands say when they are confronted with possible wrongdoing. ‘Wh-a-a-at?’ Real slowly, dumb-like. ‘No guitar lights. No old pictures. No jalapenos’ she said.


And she was deadly serious.  She looked right at me and announced ‘this is the ‘nice tree’’.

The Nice Tree™. In the front room, prominently displayed in the big window. I looked around. The other decorations in the room began to make sense to me. The special Christmas china was set on the formal table. The expensive candle holders on the table by the entry, with long tapered white candles in them, you know, the kind you can’t get at Wal-Mart (10 for .55 cents). And then I understood. This room, was going to be ‘pretty’. Like a Christmas display at some expensive store on 5th Avenue, the ones whose names I can’t pronounce correctly. I looked at what was now my tree. Guitar lights. Ornaments from Fender. The decorations my kids made in Sunday school with funny shaped noodles and gold spray paint. Popsicle sticks and yarn and pictures. Hidden in the family room where no eye shall be offended. No one can see it.

I began calling my tree the “Crap Tree”.

The Nice Tree has gold swirly things on it, and a special tree skirt thingy made of silk and shiny stuff. It’s really pretty. It looks like something you would find in one of those stores in Salado. The Crap Tree has an old skirt made of something that looks like shag carpet. It has a pattern that sort of resembles a Christmas tree, at least, the way a Christmas tree looks to a myopic drunk. In a moment of weakness my brother in law crocheted it for us. It’s been more than 15 years and I still kick his ass about that.


easy to spot boxes

I am not allowed to put my special guitar ornaments on the Nice Tree. Who am I kidding? I’m not allowed to put anything on the Nice Tree. Every now and then, I sneak one on it when no one is looking. It doesn’t matter. My oldest daughter finds it and moves it back. At lease I’m not completely alone in my fight, my youngest daughter will take one of my ornaments and sneak it back on the nice tree. Occasionally sibling rivalry will overcome their natural tendency to gang up on you because of gender affiliation.  Which is nice.

The Crap Tree has lights on it from The Hard Rock Café. I think those are my favorite, although the lights that look like jalapenos are a close second. Ever since my wife debuted the Nice Tree, Christmas in our house has been looking a little different. The living room is starting to spread out. Our old Frosty the Snowman and Christmas tree hand towels we used to put in the guest bathroom have been replaced with much prettier hand towels. None of us is allowed to touch them. You wash your hands in this bathroom, you better wipe them off on your blue jeans. My ‘singing Santa’ with the electric guitar and the sunglasses is now back in my bedroom on the dresser. The battery has been removed.

This year I couldn’t find the Drunken Office Party Elves. My wife says she has no idea what happened to them. She says it in a way that makes me think she knows exactly what happened to them, and I will never see them again.


Olive, the other reindeer

So I know what I’m up against. Soon, next year, or maybe the one after that, I will find myself engaged in a desperate battle, a last stand in front of my dearest Christmas decoration, the Crap Tree.

She may relent. The Crap Tree has ornaments that have all our Christmas memories on it, 22 years worth. Decorations we bought when we spent our first Christmas together. Things our friends gave to us. Decorations that her students gave to her. Special ornaments with years on them from Christmases past that go back before our kids were born. Pictures of the girls when they were little in red and white Christmas dresses, hugging Santa and telling him how good they had been this year. So long ago, before cars and boys and college. Every now and then I find a little bit of attic insulation in one of the branches, from a Christmas years ago when I slipped in the overhead and put my foot through the ceiling, right over the tree. The youngest looked up and said ‘Mommy, it’s Santa’! I think she was 4.

I love the Crap Tree. It is an old friend. It’s the decoration in our house that says “Christmas” to me, and I hope it always will.

Hey guess where this is?

A gift from the Geoffs.  Proudly displayed.

The Weight Nazis Are Here November 27, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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So maybe you thought that taking children from their families because they were too fat was only something those silly Britishers would do. Well, you’d be wrong:

An 8-year-old Cleveland Heights boy was taken from his family and placed in foster care last month after county case workers said his mother wasn’t doing enough to control his weight.

At more than 200 pounds, the third-grader is considered severely obese and at risk for developing such diseases as diabetes and hypertension.

That’s right, for the crime of possibly developing future diseases, a child was intercepted at school and told that his mother could only visit him for 2 hours a week. So what did the county have to say about this?

It removed the boy because case workers considered this mother’s inability to get her son’s weight down a form of medical neglect, said Mary Louise Madigan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Family Services.

“This child’s problem was so severe that we had to take custody,” Madigan said. The agency worked with the mother for more than a year before asking Juvenile Court for custody of the child, she said.

Smacks of Lt. Calley, doesn’t it? “It became necessary to destroy his life in order to save it.” Here’s Ms. Madigan, who didn’t make the decision, but who certainly supports it:

Yeah, she looks harmless, but don't let her catch you with a candy bar!

Of course, having started gamboling down that slippery slope like penguins sliding down a glacier toward a pack of killer whales, one has to ask: where does this intervention stop? How heavy do kids have to be? What sort of future health conditions merit wrenching a child from her happy home life? I mean, diabetes is nasty but manageable, as is hypertension. Once this precedent is set, will they be coming after kids who are slightly less obese, then significantly less obese, then barely obese, then, eventually, kids who don’t brush their teeth?

And are there other conditions that might qualify? Personally I think it’s child abuse for kids not to make their kids do math – I mean, what sort of future do those kids have? I propose we remove all kids who don’t do enough math (I’ll decided what’s enough, of course) from their parents’ homes, and place them with nerdy foster parents. Mary Louise Madigan says it’s the moral imperative, so let’s get hopping!

But back to our story, which gets even better:

But now lawyers for the mother say they’ve been told that the foster mother who has the child in a neighboring suburb is having trouble keeping up with all of his appointments.

There was even a discussion about getting the foster mother additional help or moving the child again, this time to a foster home with a personal trainer, Amata said.

I’ll let their lawyer give you the punch line:

“I wonder why they didn’t offer the mother that kind of extra help,” Amata said.

Exactly. The mind, she is boggled.

Zombie Slingshot November 25, 2011

Posted by Retired Geezer in Ballistics, Man Laws.
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If you’re like me, you probably think that slingshots are for kids.

That was before I discovered Joerg’s Slingshot Channel.

Joerg is a pretty cool guy who takes Slingshots to a whole nother level.

I am a fairly strong, very bald German guy who loves slingshots!

Hometown: Dortmund, Germany
Occupation: CEO of a small corporation in the field of video editing and consumer electronics.

Here’s one he built, that you can use during the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse, (not to be confused with the Lutheran Millennium ™) .

He has a lot of YouTube videos using high-speed cameras.

Cranberries Revisited November 24, 2011

Posted by Retired Geezer in Food, Sex.
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Let’s hop in the Time Masheen ™ and take a trip back to 2007:

I’m going to make this for our Thanksgiving dinner. (again)

I love the comments.

Turkey Danger November 23, 2011

Posted by Retired Geezer in Technology.
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Here’s a Public Service Announcement for your Thanksgiving safety:


De Debbil November 23, 2011

Posted by Retired Geezer in Women Ranting.
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Good News from the Kitchen November 22, 2011

Posted by Retired Geezer in Food, Man Laws.
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This woman is 51…

She is TV health guru Gillian McKeith, advocating a holistic approach to nutrition and health, promoting exercise, a vegetarian diet high in organic fruits and vegetables.
She recommends detox diets, colonic irrigation and supplements.


This woman is also 51…

She is Nigella Lawson a TV cook, who eats meat, butter and desserts.

Any Questions?

Sistine Chapel November 21, 2011

Posted by Retired Geezer in Art, Religion.
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Too bad I can’t show the video here but you’ll just have to click it to see the Virtual Tour. It’s pretty amazing.

You can view every part of Michaelangelo’s masterpiece and you won’t have to wait until teh Lutheran Millennium ™.

The panel on the ceiling where God touches Adam kinda surprised me. Have you ever seen the complete painting before?

Just click and drag… ahh, you’ll figure it out.

Can You Distinguish A Real Smile From A Fake Smile? November 20, 2011

Posted by Michael in Science.
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Most people can’t, but it’s possible to detect the difference. A real smile is involuntary, involves areas of the brain that are different from a fake smile, and engages different facial muscles that can be detectable.  The picture above is a fake smile.

Take the test here.

I got 14 out of 20. Try to beat me.

(Pay attention to the corners of the eyes, and you will beat me.)

Pelosi vs. …..well, Moi, on Childcare Reform November 18, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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Princess Nancy, having thoroughly mucked up healthcare, turns her attention to childcare:

Of the need for child-care legislation, she says, “I could never get a babysitter — have five kids in six years and no one wants to come to your house. . . . And everywhere I go, women say the same thing” about how hard it is to find the kind of reliable care that would make their family lives calmer and work lives more productive. When it comes to “unleashing women” in a way that would boost the economy, she says, “this is a missing link.”

Naturally this will require expansion of government’s budget, staffing, and intrusion into the private sector.

But let’s put aside the blatant sexism of Pelosi’s presumption that only women care about, and are affected by, childcare. And let’s ignore the fact that men have suffered much larger unemployment rates than women in this recession, so it’s “unleashing men” that should concern us. No, let’s take her statement at face value and look at how the government can help its citizens with childcare problems.

First, the problem I’ve seen is not finding “reliable care,” it’s finding “reliable, affordable care.” To make childcare more affordable, we can simply increase the maximum tax credit for those with lower adjusted gross incomes. The maximum credit is currently 35% of childcare expenses, so let’s bump that up to 50%. We can always increase it again later if that’s not enough.

Voila – easily implemented, no government expansion, existing childcare businesses aren’t threatened, and the cost to taxpayers will likely be lower.

But wait, there’s more.