Monday, May 24, 2010


Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

My weekend was pretty relaxing. In keeping up with my lifelong “batting average” when it comes to dating, my Saturday evening rendezvous was cancelled due to a case of strep throat. Her loss. Hopefully we’ll get to meet up later. Sunday, I went to softball practice in the snow (trace amounts…but still cold as f**k for baseball) and after about an hour, I felt my cold coming back on…so I left. Now there’s supposed to be more snow on Wednesday when our first game is. Maybe God’s trying to tell me something like…don’t try to meet people or have fun. Okay, maybe not. It’s all good though…because on my way home from the grocery store (NyQuil run, just in case), I picked up a hitchhiker. Well, sort of. I knew the guy. His name is Pork Chop and he’s a coworker of mine formerly of New York but has been here for about 18 years. See…he’s in his late thirties, early forties…and is just now taking his first driving test this week. We talked about it a bit and I reassured him that it’s not going to be a big thing…but then in the back of my mind, I thought “Hmm…he did just ask me whether or not he needs to push down hard on the brakes to slow down. Maybe he needs a test track or something” but he was already a little late for work…and frankly I didn’t want him driving Gretchen for his first time…but we’ll see. I offered him my assistance in finding a car or any questions about driving…but yeah, I thought it was weird that he’s been in California for that long…and has never driven a car. It’s just odd to me. Anyway, that was my good deed for the day, driving somebody a half hour out of my way to drop him off at work on my day off. Good things are going to happen to me.

For example, what are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend? That sounds fun. I’m going to Carnivallllll!!! (That’s me rolling my L as I do so splendidly) What? Am I going to Rio? Wasn’t Carnival a few months ago? Yes, that Carnival was…but in San Francisco this weekend is Carnival, celebrating the Latin & Hispanic communities…and it’s going to be AWESOME!!! There’ll be parades (hopefully with a lot of tanned hotties in flamboyant outfits), lots of great food, fun…and I’m going to teach Bubbles how to Salsa & Cha Cha. She just got into San Fran over the weekend so I’m going to show her the town the only way I know how – As Fun As Possible!!! Anyway, more on that with pictures next week…but first, here’s the news…

Change for a Dollar? - What may be America's oldest silver dollar has become the world's most expensive coin, with its owner saying it changed hands in a private transaction between coin collectors for nearly $8 million. Steven L. Contursi, who has owned the mint-condition 1794 Liberty dollar for the past seven years, confirmed Thursday that he sold it to the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation of Sunnyvale for $7.85 million. The previous record price paid for a coin was $7.59 million for a U.S.-minted 1933 $20 gold piece, according to the American Numismatic Association. The U.S. began producing silver dollars in 1794, and this particular one remains in near-perfect condition 216 years later. That being the case, the price it fetched was not surprising (Really?), at least according to professional coin grader David Hall. "Even if it looks like it's been run over by a truck it would still be worth a hundred grand," he said. Part of the so-called flowing-hair silver dollars, the coin has a portrait of Lady Liberty with long, straight hair on the front and a noticeably skinny American eagle on the back. "That's the type of piece that is available maybe once in a lifetime," said Martin Logies, curator of the Cardinal Collection, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving rare coins and educating the public about them. He said the foundation plans to put the coin on display, just as Contursi did much of the time he owned it (in a laser web with machine gun turret cameras). Numismatic experts say it was among the first U.S. silver dollars ever made. "From the research I've done, it is unquestionably the earliest struck of all the pieces known to remain in existence," said Logies, author of "The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794." Of the approximately 1,750 such dollars produced that year, only about 150 are known to exist. The quality of the imprint on this one shows it was struck on a hand-cranked press from a special piece of polished, high-quality silver. That indicates it was intended for either a dignitary or the mint's own private collection, said Larry Shepherd, executive director of the American Numismatic Association. It likely remained in the mint's collection until the 1800s, Shepherd said, when it was probably traded to a private collector, something he said the mint sometimes did in those days. Contursi, who runs Irvine-based Rare Coin Wholesalers, acquired it for an undisclosed sum in 2003. He said he wasn't looking to sell it until Logies approached him. The Cardinal Collection curator had been one of a handful of experts Contursi had allowed to examine the coin after he bought it. He joked that Logies had had his eye on it ever since. "He just finally made me an offer I couldn't refuse," he laughed. Almost $8 million for a silver dollar made on a hand-press over two centuries ago? Wow! Amazing. The joke’s on the buyer though…because they won’t accept it at the local Laundromat or vending machines. However, do you have any idea how much laundry Mr. Contursi will be able to do…and still have money left over. Man, a sucker born every minute, right?

Justice? - A homeless man caused about $12,000 in damage when he stole and crashed a single-engine airplane at a Maryland airport — but he'll pay just $40 in restitution. Frederick County Circuit Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. expressed surprise Thursday upon learning of the small amount. Dwyer asked: "Only $40?" Prosecutors explained that insurance had paid for all the damage except for a $40 deductible. Fifty-one-year-old Calvin C. Cox has served half of his nine-month sentence for the December theft. His lawyer has said Cox stole the plane because he was homeless and cold (Really? Was he flying south for the winter?). At sentencing in April, Dwyer authorized work release for Cox so he could earn money to pay restitution to the plane's owner, Mid Atlantic Soaring Associates Corp. Sigh… wow, I’m glad that I can steal an airplane, crash it & only have to pay the deductible. Don’t worry, I won’t be doing it…because I don’t wanna go to jail for nine-months…or nine hours even. Just a funny little story I thought I’d share.

George Washington: Founding Father, Patriot, Book Thief - A library book “borrowed” by the first U.S. president, George Washington, has been returned to a New York City's oldest library, 221 years late. Washington checked out the book from the New York Society Library at a time when the library shared a building with the federal government in lower Manhattan. The library said in a statement that its borrowing records, or charging ledger, showed Washington took out "The Law of Nations" by Emer de Vattel on October 5, 1789. The book was not returned, nor any overdue book fine paid -- with the overdue fee now calculated at about $300,000. The missing book came to light when the New York Society Library was restoring its 1789-1792 charging ledger, which features the borrowing history of Washington, John Adams, John Jay, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, George Clinton (had no idea P-Funk had been around THAT long), and others. The library conducted an inventory of books mentioned in the ledger and confirmed the book checked out by Washington was still missing. But the missing book was kept secret for years until it became public recently in an article in The New York Daily News, the library said in a statement. "A few days after learning of the situation, staff at Washington's home in Virginia, Mount Vernon, offered to replace Vattel's "Law of Nations" with another copy of the same edition," the library said in a statement. To mark the occasion the library hosted a ceremony on May 19 at which the errant volume was presented. Hmm, I wonder what other books George checked out during his stint as President. Was he just into reference? Adventures? Biographies? Dinosaurs? Maybe even romance novels? “George, what is this ‘Pirates of Lust’?” “Oh Thomas, it’s pronounced Loost, it’s a small archipelago of islands in the Caribbean…and there have been some events of grave national security in the Carolinas because of these scoundrels.” “Really? (Reading from the inside cover) Margaret Pennyworth had lived a humdrum life of luxury…until she met the dreaded pirate captain known only as Red Dog, whose brooding masculinity…” “Oh my, let me see that. Ha, such a silly book. Martha must’ve picked this up on accident.” “Sure George. Whatever.”

Panda Update – The greatest actor of the modern era, Gary Oldman, has joined the voice cast of DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom" says Reuters. Jack Black returns as the voice of Po the panda who sets off in search of others like him (pandas? Good luck) and has a run-in with a group of bandits. Oldman voices a character named Peacock who helps Po, but there is more to him than what first appears (Spoiler alert: He’s a vampire and transforms into a jet). The 3D sequel is currently slated for release next summer. That’s really all I’ve got on this. By the way, would anybody really be surprised if Peacock ends up being a bad guy? I mean…he’s voiced by Gary Oldman. He & Frank Langella are pretty much type cast as evil guys…and no, I haven’t watched all the Harry Potter movies. Anyway, pandas, Gary Oldman, bandits a.k.a. ninjas, next summer, 3D, that’s about it.

Ninja Update - Ninjas are not known for having a soft side, but a group of warriors came to the rescue of a student in Sydney who was being viciously assaulted by muggers. Ninjas scared off three men who were attacking a 27-year-old German medical exchange student in an alleyway outside their warrior school, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday. One of the teachers saw the attack and instructed the students, who were decked out in their black garb, to go out and confront the muggers. "You should have seen their faces when they saw us in ninja gear coming toward them," the school's sensei, or master, Kaylan Soto, told the newspaper. Another ninja named Steve (no relation) said: "It was probably the worst place in Sydney where they could have taken him." No sh*t!!! I could imagine being in the alley, “Gimme your money!” then all of a sudden you hear a commotion (it is Australian ninjas after all, they play rugby) and see a few dozen decked-out ninjas, probably carrying katanas and/or hook swords, coming at you. At this point, there’s only two thoughts in your mind, “Are you faster than your two friends?” and “Can you run with crap in your pants?” Only one way to find out. You’re not even questioning why there are ninjas in Sydney (kinda like Tony Jaa being there in “The Protector”, just don’t think too hard about it). Awesome!!!

Everest Update – Ever feel like…maybe you’re not living life to the fullest? Ever sit in front of the TV and think that there could be so much more that you could be doing than watching idiots be idiots on the idiot box? No? Well, this story will probably do the trick. The youngest climber to reach the peak of Mount Everest hugged his tearful companions and told them he loved them. Then 13-year-old Jordan Romero took the satellite phone and called his mom. "He says, 'Mom, I'm calling you from the top of the world,'" a giddy Leigh Anne Drake told The Associated Press from California, where she had been watching her son's progress minute by minute on a GPS tracker online. "There were lots of tears and 'I love you! I love you!'" Drake said. "I just told him to get his butt back home." With Saturday's success on the world's highest mountain, at 29,035 feet (8,850 meters) above sea level, Jordan is just one climb from his quest to reach the highest peaks on all seven continents. The teenager with a mop of long curly hair (who by the way, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa when he was 9 years old) says he was inspired by a painting in his school hallway of the seven continents' highest summits. "Every step I take is finally toward the biggest goal of my life, to stand on top of the world," Jordan said earlier on his blog. Before him, the youngest climber to scale Everest had been Temba Tsheri of Nepal, who reached the peak at age 16. Also Saturday, officials said a Nepalese Sherpa who lives in Salt Lake City (woo woo) broke his own world record by climbing Everest for the 20th time. Apa (who goes by one name like Pele, Elvis or Jesus) went up to collect garbage, a growing environmental problem on the mountain. Several climbers took advantage of Saturday's clear weather to reach the summit, Mountaineering Department official Tilak Pandey said. May is the most popular month for Everest climbs because of more favorable weather. Jordan, from the San Bernardino Mountains ski town of Big Bear, California, was climbing Everest with his father, his father's girlfriend and three Sherpa guides. Unlike neighboring Nepal, the other approach to Everest, China has no age limit for climbers. Jordan registered with Chinese officials in April, said Zhang Mingxing, secretary general of China Tibet Mountaineering Association. Jordan carried a number of good luck charms, including a pair of kangaroo testicles given to him by a friend who has cancer (yes, roo balls are good luck). "That's the one that probably meant the most," Bailey said. At the summit, Jordan left behind his lucky rabbit's foot and planted some seeds that a Buddhist monk at a local monastery had given him for luck on his journey, Bailey said. Then he took the satellite phone and called his mom. "He's such a good boy and he calls his mom every day," Drake said, laughing, just minutes later. Drake said her son, an eighth grader, took two months of homework with him to keep up in school. Jordan continues the recent trend of young global adventurers. Earlier this month, 16-year-old Australian Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail around the globe solo, nonstop and unassisted. Thousands lined Sydney Harbor to cheer as she cruised past the finish line in her pink yacht. A Dutch court late last year blocked an even younger sailor, 14-year-old sailor Laura Dekker, from pursuing a similar round-the-world voyage, ordering her to prepare more and wait at least until this year before starting. And in January, 17-year-old Johnny Collinson of Utah became the youngest person to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents. Just one mountain remains in Jordan's own quest to climb those peaks, the Vinson Massif in Antarctica. Jordan's team leaves for Antarctica in December, Bailey said. "A piece of cake," his mother said. Well, how do you feel? There’s a gaggle of teenagers out there living your dream to climb Everest, sail around the world, get a pair of kangaroo testicles for your collection, visiting Antarctica before it melts away, all before they can vote…or their balls have dropped. Get out there & see the world while you still can. Why are they able to do it? Because they’re kids!!! They have their parents to take care of them…from Big Bear, while they climb with sherpas. You don’t have responsibilities, right? Get out there!!! Okay, maybe not quite that scale of an adventure…but hey, if you’ve got a few free hours here & there…and your choices are to either watch TV or go do something new, I would highly recommend doing something new.

Well, that’ll do it for me. I’ve got other things to do. Like ugh… climb a mountain… or something. Okay, so I’m going to work out indoors because it’s too damn cold outside. Whatever. Don’t judge me. Glad that I could share all of these Earth shattering events with you in my free time. Oh…and welcome back to America, Lilie!!! Hope you enjoyed the French Riviera. Have a great day everybody!!!

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