Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Wednesday, 2020.08.12
There is great need for a sarcasm font.


Urban Scare Crow

I believe I’ve hit on a solution for the incessant door-to-door solicitations at my home. There used to be a sign on my front door that said, in bold, “NO SOLICITORS“. Except for a few self-rightious bible thumpers and the occasional butthole, the sign was honored. But someone, probably one of the more aggressive solicitors, pulled the sign down – screws and all. Frustrated after being hit three times within an hour one evening, I ordered the following placard from one of those custom on-line sign shops:

Violators will be charged a

This is taped next to the doorbell and on the inside glass of the storm door where it cannot be removed without serious damage to the door. Since posting this, there hasn’t been a single violation and summer is typically prime door-to-door sales time.

Apparently, the bastards don’t give a crap about respecting a homeowner’s wishes. But they sure as hell are sensitive to hits on their wallets.



Archimedes and Parking Laws

In his column from June 04, 2004, Jim Spencer treats us with a rare and fabulous repartee – an insightful and probing exchange which delves to the very ontological foundation of our society, no less – he enjoyed with one of our city’s parking enforcement officers. (I’ll pause while you collect your ribs…)

The facts, as presented, are that Mr. Spencer pulled in next to a parking meter, turned the car off, got out of the car, blew kisses at the parking meter (or some such thing), got back in the car, drove around the block and pulled in next to the same parking meter. And yet, “I never parked.”, proclaims Mr. Spencer, when tagged with the “can’t return to the same parking space or any space within 100 feet of it for 24 hours” law. The Parkinazi1 disagreed and wrote him a ticket. (more…)


Steel Belted Face Lifts

I’ve come to the opinion that automobiles are like affordable plastic surgery for the masses without all the blood, gore and recovery. By simply shelling out the requisite number of bucks, you can change your identity.

Presto! Zappo! That 55 year old baggy ass of yours can be zipping around town like a teenager, Miata style. Feeling flabby and weak? Bulk up with a shiny new SUV and power your way across even the most daunting of shopping mall parking lots. And of course, what better way to mask all that ugly debt than with a luxurious Caddy, just oozing opulence.

This must be the case, because people certainly drive like somebody other than who they are when outside of their little metal bubbles.


Two New White Papers Published

I’ve published two new white papers today, “Making Decisions While Facing Major Illness” and “Two Dimensional Information in a Four Dimensional World”. These papers were written for the Cherubim Foundation White Paper Series. They may be downloaded from the Geckopad Solutions website. Go to the Resources > Documents section. Eventually they will also be available from the Cherubim Foundation web site.


Psycho Shower Scene II

This makes me laugh: What grows on show curtains.

“We were looking for the possibility that there would be pathogenic microbes (bacteria) living on the shower curtain biofilm, and they could be aerosolized and breathed in and cause problems for immune-compromised individuals,” says San Diego State University biology professor Scott Kelley.

Like, you’re gonna be surprised by this finding? Unless you live in a completely stainless steel house with an “autoclave” feature, the microbes will be found. Living like a slob has it’s requisite company, after all. Still, even the most anal retentive bag-o-biology carries around a host of nasty critters – it’s part of life. Personal hygiene is important, but the bugs are part of living on this planet. It’s like cancer, we all get it – maybe even multiple times. Most of the time the cancerous cell is too unstable to survive or our immune system successfully identifies the errant cells and clears the buggers out, wack-a-mole style, before they take hold. But that’s only most of the time.

Then, University of Colorado professor Norman Pace chimes in with…

“We were asking, when you take a shower, who are you taking a shower with? Who are you rubbing into wounds and what are you breathing?”

Setting aside for the moment the creepy feeling I get thinking about a researcher wanting to know who people take showers with and their open wounds, what’s with all the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD)? Does Dr. Pace have a book in the works? Perhaps a super cleaning solution endorsement?

“That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


War and Pieces

The hoopla from the war hawks and peace doves over the past eighteen months on up to the present has left me largely unimpressed. The hawks pressed their war based, in part, on claims of “weapons of mass distruction”. The revelation of which had all the drama of Geraldo Reveria cracking Al Capones’ tomb. The doves, humorously, are shocked and angry that the US government could have got it wrong.

Not content to accept the government may simply be blithering idiots on a mission, the doves have assigned evil intent and malicious design to the intelligence “failures” and are set on marking the “evil doers”. All this while turning away from the stench of fact wafting from the graves of mass decompsition in the deserts of Iraq – the graves of thousands of Iraqi citizens – men, women and children – killed by agents for Saddam Hussain.

For all the claims of impending piles of corpes if war in Iraq were to happen1, the reality is the “civilized” nations were too late to prevent the massive loss of life. It appears Saddam Hussain has been quite efficient at providing the hidious body counts.

For those seeking a little perspective, an article by Brian Hayes in the January-Feburary, 2002 edition of American Scientist titled “Statistics of Deadly Quarrels”2 may be of interest.
1In a letter widely distributed on the internet and attributed to Dr. Helen Caldicott (I have been unable to confirm the source), it was implied that the impending war would result in “slaughtering up to 500,000 innocents in Iraq”, and in this group, “tens of thousands of children”. Interestingly, this same letter avocates using other people (in this case, Pope John Paul II) as human shields. No word whether the author of this letter was willing to be a human shield.

2Statistics of Deadly Quarrels, Brian Hayes, American Scientist, January-Feburary, 2002, vol. 90, num. 1, pp. 10-15 / Online reference:;_s?&print=yes


Vent├ę No-Whip

It started immediately. From almost my very first visit to Starbucks. “I’d like a vent├ę no-whip mocha, please.”

Better than 80% of the time, what would show up is vent├ę mocha all right, but with a blast of foul tasting whip cream floating on the top. Some shops would make good and mix a new mocha as requested. Others would extend the effort with a coupon for a free drink. Still others fell below the service quality mark by simply scraping off the sludge and re-capping the drink. Hoooooonk. Wrong answer. Thanks for playing.

With “solution” on my mind, I tried making my request in several ways. “I’d like a vent├ę [long pause] NO WHIP [long pause to let the phrase sink in] mocha.” Success improved, but failures still occurred about 30% of the time. “I’d like a vent├ę mocha, and could you please leave the whip cream off of that?” “Huh?” came the reply if I was lucky. Failures occurred about 60% of the time. Apparently, this one violates the 7+- 2 rule1. Too many words and the “barista” looses the information on the front of the sentence.

There is some kind of business theorem buried in this experience. The “No Whip Maxim for Customer Service”. I’ll have to develop this idea, write a book and hit the chat show circuit.

The patrons can be a bit numb as well. I’ve had my drink lifted by auto-piloted patrons. “Oh, that’s yours? I thought your extra large mocha looked like my puny Double Decaf Half Mashed Iced Caramel Macchiato.” Go eat a rock.

Gad, I’m starved for a decent coffee house within a reasonable drive of my house. My favorite haunt, The Market, has become too cumbersome to reach on a regular basis, what with all the T-Rex construction along I-25. Will I have to create this myself? If I must, guarantee there will be no aerosol whip cream in the place.
1The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information, George A. Miller, The Psychological Review, 1956, vol. 63, pp. 81-97


It’s a Beautiful Thing

It’s all in the setup. Months in the making, the Java Zen weblog is now on line. Whew. It’s time to lift the cap from a homebrew (an Imperial Stout, no less), kick back, and do a little free association. Where else is one to find enough garbage to fill this space?

Java Zen is still the place to find interesting items not suitable for blogging as well as the archives for the Friday Humor Break and Wha Zappenin’. I’ll be moving some of the older stuff from Java Zen and else where to this blog site as time allows. Sheesh. Some of us were blogging before blogging was cool.


Thoughts on the “T” Word

As reported by CNN, Education Secretary Rod Paige told a room full of governors that the nation’s largest teachers union, the NEA, is a “terrorist organization”. I’ve certainly had dark feelings in regard to positions taken by the NEA, however, terror is not one of them. This, and other abuses of the “terrorist” label, have reminded me of those odd occasions where, for what ever reason, a particular word just strikes me as goofy. I say it over and over in my head wondering just what was it about that particular word was so important. What collision of human experience created this word and where has it’s meaning gone?

The Security Theater currently showing on Pennsylvania Avenue has, it would seem, thus crippled the word “terrorist” and all it’s permutations. The abuse and over use of the word has beaten the poor critter green and white and yellow and orange and red, to a final terror alert status of black and blue.

Well, being an average bear, I thought it would be better if I explored this word in hopes of discovering what all the hoopla is about before getting left behind. What I notice is that the “terrorist” moniker is most frequently applied to people, places and things that inconvenience or irritate us from time to time. They probably always have, it’s just that now we get to vent a little extra by using the “T” word. So now to experimentation.

As an example, I’ve taken to calling my dogs “terrorists” when they misbehave. They are terriers, after all. The terrorists terriers, apart from being an excellent name for a band, don’t seem to behave any differently to my elevated rants regardless the color. They’re still terriers, just more confused than usual by my behavior.

My conclusion is that splashing “terrorist” colors around and tagging anything or anybody that gets in our puny little way as card carrying members to the “axis of evil” club is making it harder to find a solution – much harder. Nobody notices anymore. When the terrorist in sheep clothing shows up again, he’ll sneak right by because we’re too busy dealing with the “terrorist” cable guy, or the “terrorist” city counsel person, or the “terrorist” [fill in irritation here].

I certainly hope you agree with my observations. If not, well, don’t be sending me any or your terrorist objections.


Couds of War

The following recipe for stopping war within 10 days was recently sent to my attention. It required a “strong commitment of each person involved progressing exponentially to a massive scale worldwide.”

“The basis [sic] idea is one person would find 9 other persons to stop work for 10 days straight as a personal commitment to stop war and hold for peace. Those 10 persons would each commit to find 10 more persons to stop work for the next 9 days. Those 100 persons would each commit to find 10 more persons to stop work for 8 days. Those 1000 persons would each commit to find 10 more persons to stop work for 7 days. And so on multiplying by the power of 10 the total number of persons stopping work each successive day until on the 10th day the entire world would stop war and realize peace.”

Personally, my hope for peace diminishes when I see solutions like these being circulated. Is this the depth of thinking and compassion that will actually bring peace forward? I’ll leave the problems with the math alone. Mostly because I want the keep the reader. So, let’s say we have that “strong commitment of each person”. What’s going to happen? (more…)


Farewells and Tributes

Said goodbye to my Grandmother this week, Lucile D. B. Engel. At 95, she finished her work here last Friday morning and set sail for the after-life. I made the drive from Denver to Sioux Falls for the funeral. While I had seen bunches of people die in the various nursing homes I’ve worked in and seen people die in hospitals, TV ER style, surrounded by a tornado of disposable medical supplies and everybody shouting (where’s the peace in that?), this was the first member of my family I’d ever seen where the light had left. And Grandma has a tremendous light. She suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with legendary grace and humor. (more…)


Marketing 101 for Medical Students and Researchers

Word Chefs have a long tradition of serving palatable word salads to the masses for as long as there have been words. Governments do it (maimed and murdered civilians are described as “collateral damage”). Corporations do it (people aren’t fired, they’re “downsized”). Caveat Emptor. Riiiiiight. More like Cave Canem. Particularly when this type of spin is applied to all things medical. Centuries of voodoo, witchcraft, hocus-pocus and colossal arrogance have endeavored to pound the idea of “Trust your doctor – ALWAYS, OR ELSE!” into the collective psyche. So such spin carries quite a bit of danger for us average Jane’s and Joe’s.

Case in point. There’s a tornado of recent controversy over the efficacy of mammograms in breast cancer diagnosis. Seven large studies of mammography have been called into question as being “seriously flawed” and according to a New York Times article by Gina Kolata, “An independent panel of experts [the PDQ screening and prevention editorial board] said there is insufficient evidence that mammograms can prevent breast cancer deaths.” Previously, this same group had said “the evidence showed mammograms, starting at age 40, prevented breast cancer deaths.” Emphasis added.1 (more…)


Dan Issel’s Tongue

Dateline: Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Dan Issel, coach of the Denver Nuggets, a professional basketball team, had the following exchange with a fan, as reported by local ABC affiliate Channel 7 News:

Fan: “You suck *******!”

Issel: “Hey go buy another beer. Go drink another beer, you ****** Mexican piece of ****.”

Because of the remark, Issel was suspended for four games without pay and apologized, stating “I take full responsibility for my actions and I’m sorry for the embarrassment it’s caused my team, my family.” The local Hispanic community sought Issel’s direct apology and demanded he be fired, in spite of the fact the fan had accepted Issel’s apology.

This public display has me thinking about the thing from a variety of angles. (more…)


From The More-Tears-Than-The-Oceans-Can-Hold Department

Does one really have to fret
About enlightenment?
No matter what road I travel,
I’m going home.
– Shinsho


From The Under-The-Weather Department

[Ed. I’m out sick so just a couple of quick hits. I thought about sending out some sick jokes but opted to send lame ones instead. But I’m sick, not lame. Say good night Greg.]

A Sunday Drive

Sitting on the side of the highway waiting to catch speeding drivers, a State Police Officer sees a car puttering along at 22 MPH.

He thinks to himself, “This driver is just as dangerous as a speeder!” So he turns on his lights and pulls the driver over.

Approaching the car, he notices that there are five old ladies-two in the front seat and three in the back-wide eyed and white as ghosts. The driver, obviously confused, says to him, “Officer, I don’t understand, I was doing exactly the speed limit! What seems to be the problem?”

“Ma’am,” the officer replies, “you weren’t speeding, but you should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be a danger to other drivers.”

“Slower than the speed limit? No sir, I was doing the speed limit exactly…Twenty- two miles an hour!” the old woman says a bit proudly.

The State Police officer, trying to contain a chuckle explains to her that “22” was the route number, not the speed limit.

A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned and thanked the officer for pointing out her error.

“But before I let you go, Ma’am, I have to ask… is everyone in this car OK? These women seem awfully shaken and they haven’t muttered a single peep this whole time,” the officer asks with concern.

“Oh, they’ll be all right in a minute officer. We just got off Route 119.”

Best Patients

Five surgeons are discussing who makes the best patients on the operating table. The first surgeon says, “I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.” The second responds, “Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is color coded.” The third surgeon says, “No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.” The fourth surgeon chimes in: “You know, I like construction workers…those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would.” But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed: “You’re all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There’s no guts, no heart, and no spine, and the head and butt are interchangeable.”

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