Category Archives: Life observations

Latest on Brigit: Head games for girls

Head Games –

After years of seeking school sports equality, women have surpassed men in one area: head injuries. Girls are more likely to sustain concussions than their male counterparts, and the possible reasons may be societal as well as anatomical. Males generally have thicker, stronger necks, which help absorb the impact; but boys also are supposed to be tough, and many may try to hide or downplay the extent of their injuries. To solve the problem, female athletes are turning to protective headgear and more aggressive training methods to build up the neck muscles. Gregory’s short article illustrates the trend with statistics as well as a few anecdotes.

By Sean Gregory, in Time magazine, 10 December 2007

This abstract was edited by Brijit. Read more here…


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Latest on Brijit: ‘Tis the season?

The Sermon on the Mall –

Dour predictions say that economic conditions will have a negative impact on holiday shopping. Bah humbug, says Gross. The stat-heads forget one thing: gift-buying at holiday time is not discretionary — it is compulsory. Sure, oil prices are up, housing sales are down, and China keeps putting out poisonous products, but at the end of the day shoppers will be as plentiful as holiday fruitcakes. “Analysis” may not be the proper term here, but Gross’ outlook is a deft vehicle for jokes at the expense of grim predictors.

By Daniel Gross in Newsweek, 3 December 2007

This abstract was edited by Brijit. Read more here…

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The animal revolution

I heard this on a podcast of The Tony Kornheiser Show, on Washingtpost Radio. Kornhesier is a great curmudgeon and humor writer, on par, in my opinion, with dave Barry, only less nonsequitor-ish.

He makes it sound even better than it reads:

DAY 752 – My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from shredding the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant and cough it up on the carpeting.

DAY 761 – Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair…must try this on their bed (again).

DAY 762 – Slept all day so that I could annoy my captors with sleep depriving, incessant pleas for food at ungodly hours of the night.

DAY 765 – Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was…Hmmm. Not working according to plan…

DAY 768– I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called “shampoo”. What sick minds could invent such a liquid. My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth and the tiny bit of flesh under my claws.

DAY 771 – There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the foul odor of the glass tubes they call “beer.” More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of “allergies”. Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

DAY 774 – I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The Bird on the other hand has got to be an informant. He has mastered their frightful tongue (something akin to mole speak) and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room his safety is assured. But I can wait, it is only a matter of time.


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Death takes a holiday; cat fills in

Heard this story on the local all-news radio station this morning: a cat who can predict the death of patients in a Providence (ironic location), RI nursing home.

Seems “Oscar” has been accurate in 25 cases, most of whom, according to the story:

Doctors say most of the people who get a visit from the sweet-faced, gray-and-white cat are so ill they probably don’t know he’s there, so patients aren’t aware he’s a harbinger of death. Most families are grateful for the advanced warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure.

Can you imagine the reaction is Oscar was a black cat? 

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“So just what do you do?”

00press.jpgWhenever anyone asks me what i do for a job, I’m always a bit stumped at how to answer. When I worked in my previous job, I would simply say. “I’m in PR.” It would be up to them to assume I had some upper level job, rather than serve as a glorified secretary for more than 20 years.

But since I’ve been working at my present task — a weekly suburban ethnic newspaper — I have had several functions.

Not every reporter has to be a great writer. Conversely, some people who are good at moving other people’s words couldn’t pick up a phone, or write a piece themselves, if their life depended on it. This is why in the old days newspapers had “legmen” and “rewrite men.” Sometimes I think it might not be a bad idea to bring them back. 

Given my basically shy nature, I see myself as better at the latter than the former. Although it’s much better being on this end of the conversation, rathern than as a PR functionary basically begging for media coverage of some inane event.

  • I am also an editor. Originally I was an occasional copy editor, charegd with really going over stories and molding hem into shape. Now I handle the sports page and another section. I often write the sports stories myself and have a stable of freelancers who submit articles for the other section. I enjoy the editing process quite a bit, cutting and pasting writers’ disjointed thoughts into coherent text. Having been in their shoes, I also like to think I’m sensitive their parentage of these stories, and try not to do too much with them. Of course, when I get a 1,200-word piece where the space calls for 800 words, I have to decide whether to send it back and have them make the substantial changes (my preference for integrity’s sake) or just do it myself.

The worst thing is when a family member tells someone what I do and then turns to me and says, “You should to a story on this person.” That puts me in an awkward spot because nine times out of ten this person, as nice, charming, smart , etc. as he or she might be, there’s nothing extraordinary about their situation. It’s embarassing all around.

The summer is a bit slow. Congress is out of section, schools are closed, people are away. Sports has been surprisingly easy (knock on wood), given the requirements, but regular stories are more difficult to come by. Fortunately, the environment is easy-going and I seldom feel anxious about keeping up with my colleagues, who always seem to have something cooking.

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Funny how time slips away

Received an email at work about the “SuperMega Show” at the Crown Plaza Hotel in beautiful Secaucus, NJ this weekend.

 Among this scheduled to appear:

The email draws to attention that Henry Winkler and Cindy Williams are making a Happy Days reunion.

Other celebrities will be on hand. Some of these people I’ve never heard of, but their shows — some new, some long gone — sound like the stuff geeks are made of.

Is anyone else out there just a little saddened at the prospect of these once-popular personalities jumping around from nostalgia show to nostalgia show, trying to make a few bucks, since all the work dried up, or bask in past glories.

I attended the Book Expo America in New York in 2004. Authors and publishers were scattered throughout the exhibition hall. As one might expect, larger entites had the better locations.

Off in a small booth in a non-prime space was the actor Jack Klugman, who had just finished a memoir, primarily a tribute to his friend Tony Randall. While other booths were overflowing with visitors, his had just a few. The guy in front of me wanted Klugman, who still suffered the after-effects of surgery for throat cancer, to talk to his friend on a cell phone. If memory serves, the actor had one assistant/PR person, who shooed the guy away. Happily, Klugman still performs, having made a stirring comeback, which he attributed to Randal’s prodding.

Still the image of him, sitting virtually alone and unrecognized after the kind of career he had…very sad. 

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Apple, revisited

One of my first posts considered the oxymoron of “customer service” as applied to Apple.

In last his “Talking Business” column in last Saturday’s (July 14) New York Times, Joe Nocera writes about their lastest snafu: their battery replacemtn policy for the iPhone. The product just came out a couple of weeks agao and already there are concerns about battery replacement? Not recharging, mind you, but replacement.

The folks at Apple must have been out the day the industry was discussing customer convenience, Nocera opines. They clearly have “other priorities.”

[J]ust as my iPhone column was going to press a few weeks ago, Apple finally released its battery replacement policy. You can find it on the Apple Web site. (Or maybe not. It’s actually buried on the site.

Anyway, here’s the policy: Because the iPhone lacks a replaceable battery, you will have to send your phone to Apple [emphasis added]. If your phone is under warranty, the new battery will be free. If it is out of warranty, it will cost a hefty $79, plus $6.95 for shipping. Apple will also lend you an iPhone while your phone is in the shop, which will cost you another $20, warranty or no.

It may be a matter of semantics, but when you have to pay to borrow something, that’s called renting, not lending. ___ cites the procedure if/when the battery runs down:

1. Put up $20, (or $105.95 if your iPhone is out of warranty);

2. Wait for the loaner to arrive;

3. Put your data on the loaner;

4. Send Apple your iPhone;

5. Wait for it to be returned;

6. Put your data back on your iPhone (it is erased while Apple is replacing the battery);

7. Mail in the loaner.

Whew. Given how awkward this all is, you have to wonder why Apple didn’t just build the iPhone with a replaceable battery.

He accuses Apple’s chief executive, Steven P. Jobs, and Jonathan Ive, design chief, of being “design snobs, who care more about form than function” and

Larry Keeley, the president of the design firm Doblin Inc., wrote me an e-mail message after he’d seen the innards of the iPhone, which several Web sites have now published. The battery, he told me, lacks the normal metal jacket, making it “thinner and lighter, while also making it more difficult for consumers to handle or dispose of.” He added: “This is clear evidence that they are optimizing the INSIDES of the phone to the OUTSIDE form factor that they have designed. It is far more common and much cheaper to design the other way: pile up all the components you have to stuff inside, then figure out the sexiest box that can contain them.”

A few MAC-praising websites claim the battery life is better than expected, but you never know who’s hosting these sites and what their agendas are.

I have heard over and over from my Apple cronies that although there are benefits to the products, customer service is definitely not one of them. I hear horror stories of multiple-hour waiting lines at Apple stores, peopled by inattentive, inconsiderate, and/or just plain indifferent employees whose attitude seems to be, if you don’t like it, buy something else. But do so at the risk of being relegated to the class of the terminally uncool.

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