They got a name for that too: Earworms.

•May 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Really?  Earworms?

No, I’m not talking about some horrific Star Trek torture (although it has been used on the original series),  I’m talking about the phenomenon where a song gets stuck in your head and wont go away.  The term ‘earworm’ comes from the German word ‘ohrwurm,’ and refers to the insidious path of travel from ear to brain.

If that has happened to you, Good News!  You’re not alone!  In fact according to a 2003 study done at the University of Cincinnati by James Kellaris, 98% of us have experienced the phenomenon at some point in our lives.  The study also said that persons with compulsive tendencies and persons who consider music important in their lives are more likely to be affected.  Another study done in 2010 by C. Phillip Beaman and Tim Williams from Reading University found that 9 out of 10 experienced the phenomenon for an hour or longer, and that the songs that tended to get ‘stuck’ depended more upon the individual’s connection to the song, rather than any inherent quality of the song itself–which would account for the wide diversity between genres of songs stuck in people’s heads.  According to Kellaris, songs with lyrics tend to get stuck approximately 74% of the time, followed by commercial jingles at 15%, and tunes without lyrics bringing up the rear at 11%.  Kellaris noted that the phenomenon is most irritating to musicians and women.  The participants of Kellaris’ study identified these Top 10 offenders:

  1. Other. Everyone has his or her own worst earworm.
  2. Chili’s “Baby Back Ribs” jingle.
  3. “Who Let the Dogs Out”
  4. “We Will Rock You”
  5. Kit-Kat candy-bar jingle (“Gimme a Break …”)
  6. “Mission Impossible” theme
  7. “YMCA”
  8. “Whoomp, There It Is”
  9. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
  10. “It’s a Small World After All”

Interesting tidbit:  famous authors Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe suffered from earworms and wrote about them.  Mark Twain wrote “A Literary Nightmare” about a jingle you can only get rid of by transferring it to another person, and Edgar Allen Poe mentioned the malady in his work “The Imp of the Perverse.”  Of course they aren’t the only famous people to suffer from earworms, but they were the most noteworthy names I came across in researching this blogpost.

So, we all have earworms.  What to do?

There is no guaranteed cure, but suggestions include:

  1. Listen to a different song
  2. Get your mind occupied with something else
  3. Pass it on to a friend (my personal favorite!)

Unfortunately, none of those techniques work with me.  As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, my brain seems to think I need an inner soundtrack to accompany me 24/7.  Well, not when Im actually sleeping, but jolly well up until that point!  The songs change (thank goodness) but its quite normal for me to have the same song stuck in my head for lengthy time frames.  A week or two is fairly common for me, but I have been known to have been obsessed with a certain group for YEARS.  Perhaps my brain is used to a constantly playing inner soundtrack…I dunno.  I am not currently glued to my stereo, nor have I ever really been.  Most of my audible musical contact is during commute to and from work.  But whether I actually physically hear a song or not, it doesn’t take much for a song to take root in my head and stay there until further notice.  For example, a friend posted random song lyrics on his news feed, apparently hoping to see if he could stump anyone as to what song it came from.  I recognized the song right away and posted random lyrics of my own and BAMMO!  I now hear Tommy TuTone’s “867-5309” in my head.  Today is day 3.  Because I am obsessive/compulsive, I went immediatly to YouTube and got the audio track so I could PHYSICALLY hear it.  The sad truth is, my brain will have to get tired of that song before it goes away.  And knowing myself as I do…..I may be hearing this for a long time to come.  Personally, I kind of like it.  Its the folks around me who are driven crazy!

Speaking of crazy, check this out:

Fun links:

  1. http://earwurm.com/song-in-my-head/
  2. http://earwormery.com/ (fill out questionnaire about your earworms!)
  3. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2011/11/11/vote-for-the-most-annoying-earworm-poll/     (vote for most annoying earworm from the list)

How about you?  What earworms have taken up residence in your brain lately?

 

 

 

 

Leprechauns, begorrah!

•March 16, 2012 • 1 Comment

 

In honor of St. Patrick’s day I thought I’d bring back an old friend of mine, and he just informed me he brought along a few of his friends as well.  Im speaking of course about my favorite Leprechaun

Underpants O’ Brien.

Ive always been fascinated by Leprechauns, in all their incarnations.  They’ve been portrayed as pranksters,


gold hoarders,

and dispensers of luck

Perhaps they are the creators of Green Beer, or Green Milkshakes

          

or even Green Eggs and Ham, who knows ??

I  will dress for the Occasion in True Irish Fashion

 

But NOBODY can touch THIS GUY!!!

 

 

2011 in review

•December 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,400 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Dumbasses

•November 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The GOP have successfully managed to prevent President Obama from enacting any part (so far) of his ambitious $447 Billion jobs bill.  The most recent blockage shot down a bill that would have allocated $60Billion to fund improvements to infrastructure–highway, rail, transit, and aviation projects–all badly needed, and all would have represented REAL jobs, in construction, planning, implementation, etc.   According to U.S. Department of Transportation estimates, this bill alone would have created roughly 800,000 jobs.  Take a look at that number again.  800,000 Jobs.  That would have been a HUGE dent in the unemployment ranks.  Moreover, it was fully paid for — not a penny would have been added to the deficit — with a 0.7% surtax on millionaires and billionaires, representing just 0.2% of the population.

As Steve Benen so aptly stated in Washington Monthly:

The contrast between the two parties’ approaches couldn’t be more obvious. Dems offered a real policy, including provisions that have traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, and which polls show the American mainstream backing enthusiastically. Republicans offered a joke.

One party seems to take the jobs crisis seriously, and any media report that says otherwise — be on the lookout for pieces saying the Senate defeated “two jobs bills” today, as if they were roughly equivalent — is misleading the public.

My local paper has several yokels who crowed about the defeat of the Obama Jobs Act, and defended their ire by saying that the GOP had several languishing jobs bills, and where was the outrage over the “forgotten 15?”  I, being the research nut that I am, promptly looked them up and almost fell out of my chair at what passes for “jobs bills” among the GOP lawmakers.  I’ll include my reply to them in its entirety:

oh REALLY? the forgotten 15 are “jobs” bills??? They look more like assists to special interest groups to me:
1) Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act–billed as a help to farmers and small business, who REALLY benefits from this? Industries who CREATE pesticides, like MONSANTO, DU PONT, BAYER, DOW…and the LARGER Agricultural conglomerates like CON AGRA, ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND, etc..(certainly NOT the small farmer or small business, and you know WHY? There’s NO MONEY IN IT).

2) Energy Tax Prevention–this would prohibit the Govt from regulating Greenhouse Gases, the same gases that may be contributing to Global Warming! (and by the way, the Global Warming nay sayers got a real KICK IN THE TEETH when a prominent former skeptic announced he is now a believer HOO HAH!) So, again, who is the obvious benefactor here?
Industries that POLLUTE! How does that create JOBS MIKE????

3) Resolution of disapproval re: FCC regulation-allegedly a bill that prevents the Govt from regulating the internet and broadband. Who benefits here??? Why the MEDIA MOGULS of course! AGAIN, I ASK MIKE, HOW DOES THIS HELP CREATE JOBS???

4) 5) 6), & 7) ALL deal with relaxing regulations on offshore drilling. After the Gulf Oil disaster, I am APPALLED that the GOP cant wait to let their cronies in BIG OIL take another crack at ruining entire ecosystems for generations to come!! Again, no real job creation here, certainly not on the scale that Obama tried to do

8 ) Clean Water Cooperative-prevents the Fed from interfering with State water programs once the state meets Fed standards. This begs the question: Why would the Fed Govt interfere with a state program that meets Fed standards? It WOULDNT. It would only interfere if the state FAILED to meet or failed to CONTINUE to meet that standard. Very Shady. Also, I cant see where any jobs are created here.

9) Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement act–allows a Financial Stability Oversight Council to set aside ‘harmful’ Federal regulations. Why does this sound like an attempt to dismantle Consumer Credit protections already enacted? Who would be on the council? I bet the Fox would be guarding the Hen House again, yep. Also, no jobs created here. So sorry Mike.

10) Wants to fast-track the Keystone pipeline. Again with the Big Oil. Also, apparently no regard for environmentally sensitive and unique (not to mention GEOTHERMICALLY UNSTABLE) area. Gee, maybe they’ll tap into the mega caldera and fast track the next global catastrophe too…

11) Protecting jobs from Govt interference–seeks to guarantee private companies the latitude to locate their business in the state offering best opportunities for growth etc. Um, what’s stopping these companies from doing that now? Is this another imminent domain type of sneak attack? (My magic 8-ball sez YES)

12) Transparency in Regulatory Analysis-establishes an interagency committee to evaluate economic impacts of EPA regulations (SEE #2) Another attack on an environmental protection agency…apparently GOP memories dont go as far back as the Dust Bowl or even the Gulf Oil spill…..what a load of HORSE APPLES. NO JOB CREATION HERE, just more GOP smoke and mirrors.

13) Cement Sector Regulatory Relief act-AGAIN an attack on the EPA!!! from the CEMENT SECTOR of all places! Listen, if you are going to be BUILDING things used by people, where lives are at stake if they fail, MORE regulation is a good thing! Sheesh

14) & 15) yet MORE attacks on the EPA!!

And not a single job created that I can see. Mike argument FAIL. EPIC FAIL.

So, on the one hand, you have a plan that would levy a minute tax on the RICHEST 1% to completely fund desperately needed infrastructure improvements, as well as prevent layoffs of teachers, firefighters, and police…and on the other hand you have attempts to stifle one of the last remaining Federal Agencies governing excesses of big business (pollution, environmental degredation, etc) coupled with the usual attempts to assist big business make a profit no matter what the true cost.

Well, they may have forgotten this fact, but those who dont learn from History are doomed to repeat it.  The revolution was only a little over 200 years ago, not quite long enough to feel safe from a redux, Im thinking…

the 99%

•November 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I, like most of America, have been watching with interest the saga unfolding across the Nation as first Wall Street, then other major cities around America have found themselves ‘occupied’ by the ‘99%’

Personally, I believe this should have happened when Bush bailed out the big banks.   After all, we count on them to be good stewards of OUR money.  But somewhere along the way, they started thinking of it as THEIR money.   Drunk with greed and power, and knowing they had powerful allies on Capitol Hill, they blithely squandered OUR money, on mortgages they KNEW were guaranteed to fail, because they also KNEW they’d end up with 1) all the money paid for the property up to that point, 2) huge sums in penalties and fees, and 3) the property itself, which could then be offered to another buyer at (again) exorbitant rates to begin the process all over again.   Or put another way:

Unscrupulous lenders in America had lent billions to people with dubious credit records. The mortgages were typically offered at attractive knockdown rates for the first few years, after which the monthly payments rocketed. Tens of thousands of people were [then] unable to repay their mortgages and faced losing their homes …The subprime mortgages were in effect sold on by the lenders to investment banks that “repackaged” them into complicated financial products. The poor subprime mortgages were split up and merged with other kinds of debt and then repeatedly sold on. A wide array of other financial products was then devised by some of the world’s best mathematical brains to profit on slight movements in the price of the bonds and other investment schemes devised by the investment banks. The whole system–driven forward by investment bankers competing with their former colleagues who had joined hedge funds–resulted in an arms race to devise the most sophisticated schemes and ways of cutting up the different kinds of debt …[with the result that as the mortgages now fail] no one knows who owns the bad debts, trust is destroyed, and even top bankers have to admit that they have no idea exactly how the system works or what they have invested in. (Robert Winnett and John Arlidge in the March 15 London Daily Telegraph) as noted HERE

What they didnt foresee was the domino effect this ghastly scheme would have on the economy as a whole.  Particularly when corporations are downsizing or outsourcing–thanks to the lovely tax breaks and other business-friendly policies courtesy of the Bush Administration as seen HERE:

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Corporate America certainly isn’t doing its part to help bring America out of its economic malaise. The paper surveyed employment data by some of the nation’s largest corporations — General Electric, Caterpillar, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Chevron, Cisco, Intel, Stanley Works, Merck, United Technologies, and Oracle — and found that they cut their workforces by 2.9 million people over the last decade while hiring 2.4 million people overseas.

The paper notes that this is actually a sharp reversal from trends in the late 1990s [the CLINTON years], when these major companies were creating more jobs in the United States than overseas. Yet by 2001 [the beginning of the BUSH years], things took a turn for the worse, and these corporations have been adding more jobs abroad than at home, as is illustrated here:

******************************************************************************************************************************

Many folks blame Democrats for the social net programs or accuse them of anti-free-market policies, but in fact the blame can be laid at the feet of conservative policy-making:

During the 2002 “A HOME OF YOUR OWN” conference, former President Bush declared “high down payments are a big barrier to first time home-owners,” and “home ownership should be a right, not a privilege” and urged Congress to use taxpayer money to interfere in the marketplace by lowering down payment requirements for first-time homebuyers.  LINK

Many characterize Obama’s stimulus program as worse, but working in Social Services as I do, I know firsthand that the stimulus program did help families with extensions to Unemployment and subsidized jobs.  And, this site confirms my statement:

Poverty and Financial Distress Would Have Been Substantially Worse in 2010 Without Government Action, New Census Data Show

November 7, 2011

Six temporary federal initiatives enacted in 2009 and 2010 to bolster the economy by lifting consumers’ incomes and purchases kept nearly 7 million Americans out of poverty in 2010, under an alternative measure of poverty that takes into account the impact of government benefit programs and taxes.  These initiatives — three new or expanded tax credits, two enhancements of unemployment insurance, and an expansion of benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) — were part of the 2009 Recovery Act.  Congress subsequently extended or expanded some of them.

To gauge the impacts of these initiatives on poverty, analysts cannot use the official poverty measure because it counts only cash income and does not take refundable tax credits, SNAP benefits, and other non-cash assistance into account.  Therefore, we use a poverty measure that adopts recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and that most experts prefer to the traditional poverty measure.  Using the NAS measure to analyze newly released Census data for 2010, we find that the six Recovery Act initiatives kept 6.9 million people above the poverty line in 2010:

  • Expansions in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) kept 1.6 million people out of poverty.
  • The Making Work Pay tax credit, which expired at the end of 2010, kept another 1.5 million people out of poverty.
  • Expansions in the duration and level of unemployment insurance benefits kept 3.4 million people out of poverty.
  • Expansions in SNAP benefits kept 1.0 million people out of poverty. [1]

These effects are separate from the poverty reduction that resulted from the effects of these and other measures in preventing a deeper economic downturn with a greater loss of jobs. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the 2009 Recovery Act preserved or created between 1.0 and 2.9 million jobs through June 2011.

In addition to these six provisions enacted in 2009 and 2010, existing policies to promote family income kept millions of additional Americans out of poverty in 2010. Under the same NAS poverty measure, the SNAP and unemployment insurance benefits provided under ongoing law (before taking account of the effect of the program expansions examined here) kept more than 3 million and 1 million people out of poverty in 2010, respectively. If the government safety net as a whole (existing policies, as well as the temporary Recovery Act policies) had not existed in 2010, the poverty rate would have been 28.6 percent, nearly twice the actual 15.5 percent.

So, while Obama’s programs did add to the overall debt, at least they were designed to help the man on the street and NOT the big banks.  I cant fault him for that.   Neither should you.  If you would know the REAL architects of our current crisis, look no further than  the Party that bills itself as the ‘fiscally conservative’ party, the Party that claims to stand for “American Values” but continues to lead the way in moral and fiscal scandals, the Party that year in and year out defends and protects the richest among us, whilst begrudging the poorest among us the most meager existence.  The Party that gleefully cuts social net programs for the poor, elderly, Veterans, Students, and Children, but just as gleefully grants itself and its cronies lovely pensions, bonuses, and other perks–in other words, the 1%.

Im extremely GRATIFIED that those hardy souls in all those cities are willing to represent the plight of the 99%.  I wish I could afford to stand with them in person, but I am certainly standing shoulder to shoulder with them in SPIRIT.

The 93% solution

•November 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A co-worker stopped by to chat with me recently. He mentioned that he has been dipping his toe in the housing market, thinking about buying a home while the prices are dropping and the interest rates are low. He said that over the past several months he’s discovered something which has helped him be a more effective negotiator in his transactions: the point at which banks will capitulate in negotiating a short sale. In the last few months, he’s made some offers on properties that are in foreclosure, and while the deals eventually fell through because of other factors (dickering about closing costs or appliances, etc) He noticed a pattern begin to emerge in the ‘dance’ between bank and prospective buyer: any offer less than 93% is rejected outright, but any offer 93% and above-even if initially rejected-seems to be acceptable to the banks, or at least they will begin negotiations. Not only that, but if a buyer is willing to gamble that the house will still be available in 30 days, often times the bank will lower the list price of their own accord.

For example, my friend was looking at a house with a list price of $118K. It didnt have an oven, and the bank was not willing to provide one or bend on the price because of the lack of one. My friend decided to pass on the house, and looked at other homes in the meantime. Approximately 25 days later, he contacted his realtor and mentioned that he believed that it might be a good idea to revisit that home the following week, and when she asked why, he said he just felt it was time, and he had a feeling there would be a price drop. The next week, his realtor sent him an email saying “you were right!”. He again entered negotiations on this home, this time listing for $109K. He made an offer of approx $102K, (approx 94%!!) and asked for an oven. The bank said no. My friend said, ok, I’ll keep looking. My friend reasoned that there was a high likelihood of the bank lowering the price again in 30 days and it did! 30 days later the price was down to $95K. My friend made a new offer of 92K with the bank to give him back $3K to cover his closing costs. The bank said no. He said “ok I’ll keep looking.” He was later sent an email from his realtor that the bank wanted to know if his offer still stood? It did. A final stumbling block may rear its head in terms of the ‘addendum’ where the bank has a 17 day closing requirement. My friend is concerned that he wont be approved that quickly, so the deal may yet fall through.   It appears there is some merit to the formula of 30days/93%, especially if you can afford to wait the banks out.  Time will tell.

Ah, Childhood.

•July 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I dont know about you, but there isnt much about my childhood that I remember with any clarity.  A few bright spots here and there (mostly involving my brother who I always found hilarious), but overall, pretty dull.  Yet, for some unfathomable reason, in a corner of my memory resides the wit and wisdom of the playground.  I recall for example, the songs I used to sing doing double-dutch jump rope

not last night but the night before, 24 robbers came knocking at my door…

or the synchronized hand clapping:

Oh Mary Mack, Mack, Mack, all dressed in black, black, black, with silver buttons, buttons, buttons, all down her back, back, back

And for sheer inventiveness, you couldnt beat the name calling:

buttmunch, buttnugget, buttcrust, buttcheese (there’s a theme here I see!) tard, dorktard, tardmuffin, dorkenheimer, jerkwad, fartknocker, and the like.

Heaven help you if you had a name (first or last) that rhymed with a cuss word, or that could be otherwise held against you.  Nicknames were another common occurrence.  I myself had several: Magoo (I wore glasses at an early age) Ducky (my best friend was Froggy) and (thanks to my daughter) Homer.  Yes.  THAT Homer.  Why?  Who knows.  I was insulted at first, but I grew to like it-go figure!  Ive handed out my fair share of nicknames myself:  my best friend is ‘Billious,’  my sister was ‘Janus the Anus,’ and I once crowned another friend and myself with the charming monikers of ‘pustule’ and ‘globule.’  What can I say?  its a talent 🙂  There was one guy in High School, who (for whatever reason) just HAD to make fun of my lack of womanly bosoms, and who said MAS (as in mastectomy) whenever he saw me.  I responded with VAS (as in vasectomy) right back at him.  Considering his REAL name was Udo Poos, you’d think he’d keep an extremely LOW profile, right?  Some folks just have poos-for-brains I guess.

Because I think everyone should be able to join in the fun, for the creatively challenged, I discovered a nice little FUNNY MEAN NAMES GENERATOR.

Some of my most persistent playground memories however are the rhymes.  For example, when my kids were learning jingles on their own playgrounds, I shared one of the classics from MY era:

Im Popeye the sailor man.  I live in the garbage can.  I eat all the worms, and spit out the germs.  Im Popeye the sailor man! (toot toot!)

Another gem:

Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg.  Batmobile lost a wheel and Joker got away!

My girls learned that last one like this:

Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg.  Blow your nose in Cheerios, and eat them twice a day!

Personally, I think my version is more creative, but thats just me.

So, anyway, a co-worker and I were talking, and I was sharing a memory of songs my mother used to sing to me, one of which was ‘Barnacle Bill the Sailor,’ which I said I felt was immortalized by the classic cartoon trio of Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl.  She agreed, saying that Popeye was very big during our (baby boomer) growing up years, which prompted me to share my schoolyard Popeye song above.  She countered with a version of her own:

Im Popeye the sailor man.  Im Popeye the sailor man.  I like to go swimmin’ with bowlegged women.  Im Popeye the sailor man! (toot toot!)

I laughed, because I thought a song about swimming with bowlegged women was just plain silly.  Actually I was the silly one, because I obviously didnt get it.  My friend graciously explained to yours truly, and I dont mind telling you gentle reader, that its true you never stop learning.  Apparently I led (or lead) a sheltered life.  Oh well…I can also confirm I get a kick out of cornball or crude humor.  To wit:

Q:  What do Star Trek and toilet paper have in common?

A:  They both circle Uranus searching for Klingons!

And this VERRRY racy number that always made me feel slightly guilty for telling it:

Q:  What did the battery say to the corn chip?

A:  Im Eveready if you’re Frito-Lay!

I still cringe a little at that one, even at my age.  But what the heck.  Im looking forward to my second (or third or fourth or??) childhood.  Im sure it will be a blur this time around too, but I plan on having fun just the same!

Feel free to share your favorite childhood jingles or jokes, by all means!

 
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