Friday, December 31, 2004

Thoughts on the coming new year.

The biggest story of 2004 has come, has not yet gone, and will be with us for some time. Two thousand five begins on Saturday. For the new year, two thoughts. Remember it can all be swept away in a moment, so hold it close and love it while you've got it. And may we begin 2005 pondering how much we have in common, how down-to-the-bone the same we are, and how the enemy is not the guy across the fence but the tragedy of life. We should try to make it better. We should cut to the chase.

Peggy Noonan,

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Animals and earthquakes

My much-better-half remarked how silly the cable-news has been this week, focusing on this amazing, (seemingly) heretofor unheard of ability of animals to sense earthquakes.

I remember watching movies as a kid, where the dogs and horses used to get all excited moments before the earthquake hit. Google has more than a few that document this phenononom.

Hot Abercrombie Chick provides some sensible science to the earthquake issue, but there is also a common belief held by residents in Pennsylvania (and probably elsewhere) regarding tornado watches: if your dog suddenly heads for cover under a bed or the like, there's a good chance you only have a few minutes before the twister touches down.

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When can I drive fast?

I am one of the few people I know, outside of the service industry, that is at work today. Based on a fixed number of paid holidays, this office is open today but will be closed Monday (go figure).

On my morning commute, I heard this:

The roads are empty today, no one seems to be heading to work, so take it slow out there and be careful!

Now I am for safe driving as much as the next person, but if I can't go fast when the roads are crowded, and I can't go fast when they are empty...

(By the way: I did exceed the speed limit, but not terribly so)

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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Should old aquaintance be forgotten?

UPDATED: Go here for the revision.

"What does this song mean?" wonders Harry Burns to Sally Albright in that ballroom moment from the 1989 movie "When Harry Met Sally."
"My whole life, I have never known what this song means. I mean, 'Should old acquaintance be forgot'? Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot them?"

Sally can't help. But whatever the nuances, no one seems capable of forgetting this song.

A brief history of Auld Lang Syne can be found in an old David Hinckley column at the New York Daily News . It still doesn't answer the musical question Harry asked (as did I in the title), but it is interesting to read.

UPDATE: As of 28Dec06, the above link doesn't work. Try this Google search.

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So this is New Years...

John Lennon intoned:

And so this is Christmas
what have we done?
Another year older
and new one just begun.
Another year has come to pass. Who knew a few days ago how comparatively grateful we could all feel for our lot in life? And yet while we all look at the news at the suffering going on in Asia, the ongoing liberation efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan (with their human costs), the poverty and or continued enslavement of people in other parts of the world, we also return to our own lot in life. We know that no matter how problematic our lives may be, our headaches are nothing compared to so many others in the world. Should this make us feel guilty for feeling the weight of our own loads? Hardly. We cannot begin to show compassion to other's problems if we haven't had our own problems, and to suddenly think we aren't entitled to dealing with our own issues because 'so many others are suffering' serves no one any good.

Conversely, we must not be told 'oh, with all the suffering in the world, you can't celebrate anything.' Nonsense; how can we appreciate the good that we have in our lives if we don't revel in it once in awhile?

New Years is fast upon us, and for many its a party time. Hotels book rooms and parties, hardly a neighborhood street goes long without another local gathering, and not just the 'kids', but adults as well.

My college buddy Jude had the best New Years Eve parties in his Brooklyn, USA apartment. Good food, good people, and lots of libations. And a piano. There had to be a piano! Despite the sofas and chairs, there was always people standing about, and always room for couples to Lindy when the mood the struck them (and the appropriate tune was played on the piano by Jude, et al). Of course, dancing has never been my long suit, and remains so to this day, so I genearlly propped myself somewhere between the bar and the piano.

Then at midnight, pots and pans were brought out on the fire-escape, or down the stairs to the street, and ceremoniously banged together in unison with the rest of the neighborhood. A cacophony of noise, but pure celebration. A NYC Neighborhood New Years.

About 10 or so years ago my much-better-half and I joined her cousin and husband to ring-in the New Year at a local Holiday Inn. Buffet, dancing, champagne, and a band until dawn (I believe), followed by breakfast. We didn't last until dawn, but we all had a great time. Nice thing about those deals is that you can bend your arm to your content without worrying about 'getting home'. Truthfully, if you cannot navigate your way to the hotel elevator, you probably ought to stick to tap water.

But such celebrating is now in my past. My gal and I still watch the ball drop, then flip around to watch the fireworks in different parts of the country, but that's the extent of our 'partying'. She's usually fast asleep by 12:30.

I am more interested in watching The Honeymooner Marathon (on the WB11) than I am of most of the acts shown on 'New Years Rocking' Eve' , since half of them are hardly rock-and-roll (Billy Idol, EWF aside, there isn't much to stay up late waiting to hear, see). Usually around 1:00 or 2:00 I raise a ceremonial glass of bourbon or other spirit, toast the new year. This year I may see who has blogged and respond in kind.

Maybe I am getting old (there is but one way to prevent it), maybe because I've recently passed the so-called half-way mark, but things like New Years don't do anything for me anymore. Other than a reminder the mortgage is due, that it's time to buy a new desk calendar, there's not much more to it for me. Years ago I gave up on the myth that is 'New Year Resolutions', arguing that if its something important enough to resolve upon one day a year, it's important enough to be resolved upon ANY day of the year. So if I resolve to do things, I don't wait for the turn of the year, I just do it.

In general I start each new year with the hope that its better than the one just passed. Sometimes its easy to tell when that happens, sometimes the human tendency of myopic vision makes it appear so. Generally, I am too tired to care which.

So what have I done this year? For starters, I've survived. Again, compared to the misery that so many others share (both domestically and abroad), that's no huge proposition. And yet, it is an accomplishment when compared to others who have lives that are arguably simpler than mine. The family is healthy (all things considered), my Christmas Cold is all but gone, and I went from a boring but seemingly stable job, to brief unemployment, to a stint at a mind-numbingly boring job, to back where I started 2003: doing the kind of Systems Engineering I enjoy on a System I know very well.

It almost makes the latter half of '03 and first-half of '04 moot when you think about it.

But truly, is the fact that I did survive the year worth noting at 'year end', other than as an excuse to make a blog entry?

I suppose I ought to; I started this piece justifying celebrating the new year. If there's no reason to celebrate survival, then what else is there to cheer about?

Whatever your view on life, I bid you a Happy New Year; may the new one be healthy, prosperous, and filled with joy.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Hat tip to Det. Lenny Briscoe

Farewell to Jerry Orbach. Rest assured: Broadway's ghost light will be always burning.

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Dewey Beats Truman, redux

In 1948, there was the famous headline of DEWEY BEATS TRUMAN (See it here at the The Truman Library).

Some people still dream of things like that...

You, too, can pre-order it at

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

It wasn't your SUV that killed in Asia, it was Nature

A bit of soap-boxing from yours, truly (do I sound a little peeved? Yes, but it's just one of those mornings....).

Yesterday I overheard a colleague reading from the NY TIMES Editorial, blaming the earthquake on an apparent lack of morals in nature:

It's instinctive in humans to search for the meaning of an event like this, once shock and grief have begun to subside. And there will be plenty of meanings to find in the ways that humans reacted as this disaster struck and in its aftermath as the relief effort begins. But except for our obligations to help the victims in any way we can, the underlying story of this tragedy is the overpowering, amoral mechanics of the earth's surface, the movement of plates that grind and shift and slide against each other with profound indifference to anything but the pressures that drive them. Whenever those forces punctuate human history, they do so tragically. They demonstrate, geologically speaking, how ephemeral our presence is.

Yet today I read in the Wall Street Journal of some who blame the underlying cause of the destruction on Global Warming:

In an interview with the Independent newspaper in Britain, Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: "No one can ignore the relentless increase in extreme weather events and so-called natural disasters, which in reality are no more natural than a plastic Christmas tree." Speaking to the same newspaper, Friends of the Earth Director Tony Juniper pressed the argument home:

"Here again are yet more events in the real world that are consistent with climate change predictions."

So which is it? Is nature so powerful, our presence on her face is so short-lived, that we cannot affect the climate? Or can the exhaust of my SUV (or from cattle, for that matter) be the contributing cause to the record 9.0 earthquake? These are the quandaries that make the Environmentalist Lobby look positively foolish.

What can be done to prevent such death-toll in the future? Encourage capitalism.

Rich countries suffer fewer fatalities from natural disasters because their prosperity has allowed them to create better protective measures. Consider the 41,000 death toll in last December's earthquake in Iran compared with the 63 who died when a slightly stronger earthquake hit San Francisco in 1989.

The principal victims of the tidal waves in Sri Lanka and elsewhere Sunday were
the poor people living in coastal shanty towns. The wealthier countries around the Pacific Rim have an established early-warning system against tsunamis, while none currently exists in South Asia. Developing countries that have resisted the Kyoto climate-change protocols have done so from fear that it will suppress their economic growth. These countries deserve an answer from the proponents of those standards. How are they supposed to pay for such protection amid measures that are suppressing global economic growth?

There will always be deaths from acts of nature, and no one is immune. And good stewardship of the air, sea, and land is of course always desired.

But as the wallets of American's and good people everywhere are opened, and as aid from (predominately) the West pours in, lets not blame our own prosperity for having caused Sunday's quake.

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Monday, December 27, 2004

Earthquake, Tsunami relief

Michele Catalano has again provided a central point for aid agencies providing relief to the millions affected by the catastrophe in Southern Asia.

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Sunday, December 26, 2004

Rev. Jackson needs a lesson in Christianity

The Rev. Jesse Jackson apparently doesn't know his roots of Christianity:

Jesse Jackson: Bush Would Have Left Jesus Homeless

President Bush has implemented economic policies that resemble those of the Roman Empire, which forced the baby Jesus into homelessness on the night of his birth, former civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson said in a pre-Christmas rant late Thursday.

"In the last [Bush] budget, we cut housing again, and that was Jesus' dilemma. In Bethlehem, his family ended up homeless," Jackson told MSNBC's Campbell Brown.

"Rome was a wealthy country that left Jesus and Mary and Joseph, in a sense, homeless," he complained. "He was born an at-risk baby."

Pardon me, Reverend, but upon reading the New Testament I never found any indication that either Mary or Joseph were homeless.   What the Rev. Jackson is doing, simply, is bomb throwing.  He knows well that Mary, Joseph and Jesus were no more homeless that those stranded at an airport in a winter storm.  He's trying to make a point using inflammatory words and that's because he has no facts to sustain his position.


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Notes about Kwanzaa

La Shawn Barber is a new addition to my feed list, and offers quite a revealing history on Kwanzaa.

America — the greatest country in the world — was founded on the concept of religious freedom. In America, you can be a Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist or pagan, without fear of persecution. While government cannot endorse one religion over the other, individuals can.

For decades, the media have given credence to many a self-appointed black “leader,” no matter how outrageous. Now they’re doing the same with a pagan ritual called Kwanzaa, a so-called African-American holiday.

A made-up, anti-Christian observance, Kwanzaa is celebrated by blacks who profess Christ. In our politically correct climate, even President George Bush, a believer in Christ, feels obligated to praise this ritual.

Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by Dr. Maulana “Ron” Karenga, a former black militant, Marxist and convicted felon. Claiming to have the unity of black people in mind, Karenga committed most of his crimes against blacks.

Just five years after his invention, he was convicted of torturing two black women by stripping them naked, beating them with electrical cords, placing a hot iron into the mouth of one and mangling the toe of the other in a vice. During the ordeal, he forced them to drink detergent.

But I digress.

Read more at La Shawn Barber's Corner, titled Kwanzaa Is for Pagans.

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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Tastes like er, chicken

Heard at dinner table, between my much-better-half and her sister, over the dish of lamb:

This tastes just like vennison, not that I've ever tasted it, but I imagine it would taste like this.

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Christmas wrap

At around 1:00 AM I took to the lounge chair for a planned 30 minute nap. I woke up as Ralphie was (again) getting the boot from Santa, probably an hour ago (+/- 3:30) My much better half had just finished the four piles of presents to be wrapped: a pair of piles for each son, one from Santa and one from us. Careful selection of the wrapping paper is essential to make sure neither Santa nor us use the same patterned paper.

I feel reasonably better. The throb in my ear is down considerably... and what formerly felt like razors being swallowed now feels a bit like a whole Cheez-It going down. So long as I keep the head-cold to myself and not give it to mom or the kids, everything will be fine.

I have a few presents for her to wrap; just two I was unable to get wrapped at the mall. Ideally, I gravitate to the 'for donation' wrapping desk inside the mall. This year, a local Girl Scout Troop made out like bandits for me, but two others came via QVC so I am tasked with the job personally. I wrap only a little better than I dance, so this is not something that should be taken lightly. By the time I master the subtleties of doing it right, I am usually at my final package. And with there only being two packages this night (er, morning), I'm not going to reach that pinnacle. Ah well...

Going to grab a shower and then wrap them up; ought to be done in time to see Ralphie get the boot. Again. Maybe this year I'll see more of the movie than that one scene... Maybe I'll also raise a toast or two to Christmas that isn't quite as big and sparkly as I hoped to bring my family, but it isn't a total wash-out either. Hey, look at the Red Sox: they always said "Wait until next year", maybe I can adopt that saying, too.

And I'll raise a toast to those bloggers who have set the mark for which I aim to make my humble blog reach; those on my daily-read list especially.

And I'll raise a toast to those brave souls defending freedom around the world.

And lastly (because I doubt I can stay awake much longer) I'll raise a toast to you, dear reader. Thanks for dropping in.

Yeah, some Jack Daniels. That's bound to make my throat feel better! ;)

Merry Christmas

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Friday, December 24, 2004


It isn't right
it isn't fair
I brushed my teeth
and combed my hair
but did it get me anywhere?
I got a cold for Christmas

Those lyrics I first heard on The Three Stooges Sing Christmas. Well, that's my surprise present. Every swallow feels like razors, and I seem to have an ear infection to boot.

Ah well, can't spoil it for the kids!

And here's hoping your Christmas is bright (certainly better than mine!!)

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Must be near Christmas

It must be almost Christmas. Woke up this morning with a scratchy throat, now its sore as hell and I can't stop coughing. Taking NyQuil... won't be back blogging tonight -- unless it doesn't help me sleep!

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Weird Work Day

So, as I told you way back here (or was it here?), I was laid off from a job I held for almost 8 years. My (then) company was a joint partner in the development of a Department of Defense Logistics program (we'll call it 'C' for lack of actually naming the program). My company had been there from the start of the program, some 10 years earlier. As time went on, the project transitioned from a development phase to a sustainment phase; you always need less people to maintain a program than you do to develop it, so reductions were begun. After about 7 years, I moved to another project, hoping to forge the foundations for another 10 year run. By July 04, due to some mismanagement, I was let go from the second project ("We can't afford to keep you, but can you train 3 people to replace you??").

The DoD wanted a major database engine upgrade to occur on program 'C', so bids went out, and naturally the lead partner bid on it. They lost the bid.

It got picked up by a relative upstart, who later hired me. So now I am Mr. 'C' (and not just beacuse my name is Charlie), since I am one of two people here who've actually used the 'C' program.

The old contractor still holds dominate support for the program, they are just not tasked with upgrading the database engine. So a rarely used process was scheduled for yesterday, and I was tasked to go and 'observe' the old contractor's process and document them accordingly. I was familiar with the process planned, but never had any hand-on with it (in part because it was so seldom used). So I got to go to my old office.

The buildings were even less populated than they were in July. Footsteps echoed in places. Many surprised looks came my way as I walked through the cube farms. Got more than a few 'hey, let me give you my e-mail address' from people I knew well; here's hoping I can get them future work.

One senior manager was heading out of the office to an offsite meeting. Upon seeing me signing in for my 'visitors pass', he shouted
'Don't let him in! he's a traitor!' I turned on my heels and shouted (equally loud) back at him: 'Hey Jim! Whose idea was it to lay me off??' His tone was good spirted, and I believe my response was interpreted the same.

By all rights, I ought to have been escorted everywhere I went, but no one seriously did that. I got to hook up with a couple of old pals (both on program 'C' and the one I worked for last); I am most greatful for that opportunity.

Ironic Twist: I ran into one of the three people I trained as I left the job in July. He was laid off, with yesterday being his last day (plus accrued vacation). You can't make this stuff up....

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Catch up day

Yesterday I got to go on a one-day business trip. It'll take some to explain, but for those who've followed the trials and tribulations of yours, truly, I had to pay a visit to the same Gov't Contractor that laid me off back in July. This time as a guest. Lots of laughs, really. I'll get to it later...

in the meantime, if you're reading this, then you can wish fellow (blog) traveller Gina a Happy Birthday!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004


I can't call up my own archive page for this month! Half of my holiday postings are seemingly lost.

UPDATE: The elves of Blogger/Blospot must have heard my lament! My December page works again.

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He won. Again. Deal with it.

No Tampering Found In Ohio

Liberal conspiracy theoriest beware, they've been dealt a devestating blow today, with the AP reporting that there has been no evidence of vote tampering with the electronic voting machines in Ohio.

Election officials watched Monday as a technician repeated a repair he had made to a vote tallying computer, then announced they had found no evidence of any sort of tampering, despite a congressman's request for an FBI probe. Observers, including a Green Party representative who had sought a presidential recount, agreed the procedure did not alter the Election Day vote total in the county, Hocking County Prosecutor Larry Beal said.

"Everybody felt better," he said.

Questions about the integrity of the machine arose when an employee of TRIAD Governmental Systems Inc., the company that wrote the voting software used across much of Ohio, arrived Dec. 10 to inspect Hocking County's tabulating machine.

Will this be the end of the rabble rousers accusing the President of not being re-elected? Doubtful. When you hang your hat on a bogus allegation, and have no facts backing you up, you either die by that argument or admit you were wrong. Want to bet which choice they'll make??

From Blogs For Bush

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Christmas Message (repost)

If you want to arrange it
This world you can change it
If we could somehow make this
Christmas thing last
By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
And to know who needs help
You need only just ask
... more

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What started as a misprint, is celebrating its 50th anniversary

Where you and your favorite kidlet can follow the big guy as he makes his way to your town:

This is the 50th season that NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air
Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa.

The tradition began after a Colorado Springs store's advertisement for children to call Santa on a special "hotline" included a misprinted telephone number. Instead of Santa, the phone number put kids through to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first "Santa" call on Christmas Eve 1955. Realizing
what had happened, Colonel Shoup had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Indeed there were signs of Santa and children who called were given an update on Santa's position. Thus, the tradition was born.

In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States decided to create a bi-national air defense command for the North American continent called the North American Air Defense Command. Canada and the U.S. believed they could better defend North America together as a team instead of separately.

The Command carried out its first Santa tracking in 1958 after inheriting the tradition from CONAD. Since that time, Canadian and American men and women who work at NORAD have responded to phone calls from children personally. Additionally, media from all over the world call NORAD on Christmas Eve for updates on Santa's location. Last year this Website was visited by millions of people who wanted to know Santa's whereabouts. This year, the information is provided in six languages.

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Monday, December 20, 2004

Never mind the calendar page

I don't care what the calendar says. 1 degree on the thermometer and -30 degree wind chill IS winter. And its especially mean at 5 AM.

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Sunday, December 19, 2004

More on food

The way I write about food would lead some to believe I am a double for John Goodman. While driving 4 hours a day and sitting a desk for another 8 hasn't much good for my body mass, I hover pretty consistently around 215-220 lbs; certainly not Men's Health cover quality, but definitely not Larry Joe Campbell.

I used to think food was a topic that would be largely one I could discuss with most people, that excepting certain unique tastes, it was common ground for all. I learned that I was in a minority on the topic of 'Comfort Food' (see here), and even when I discussed the matter with folk who know me outside the Blog, I seemed to be the only person who couldn't define the term (for the record: the consensus with my friends is that it was gender-thing, which would be no doubt challeneged by many of the commentors at ASV). I still don't get Comfort Food, but I won't rehash it here.

So here's another food topic. Maybe it'll become a meme:

Fruit Cake! Some people absolutely love it (FruitCake Society) others hate it more than the candidate in an opposing party. Where do you stand?

1.Do you like fruit cake?
2.Have you ever given fruit cake as a present?
3.How often have you recieved fruit cake as a present: a) annually b) rarley c) never
4.Have you ever regifted a fruit cake?
5.Some people make their own, have you ever baked a fruit cake?
6.Do you eat fruit cake any time other than during the Christmas season?
7.Please explain what you like/dislike about fruitcake

And here's my answers:

1. Do you like fruit cake? No
2. Have you ever given fruit cake as a present? No
3. How often have you recieved fruit cake as a present: Never
4. Have you ever regifted a fruit cake? See #3
5. Some people make their own, have you ever baked a fruit cake? Nope
6. Do you eat fruit cake any time other than during the Christmas season? I avoid it all year long
7. Please explain what you like/dislike about fruitcake I look at fruit cake and wonder what about it is so appealing. Candied fruit in a cake? Visually speaking, I look at it and find it unappealing. I've tasted it 2 or 3 times in my life and was unwhelmed by it.

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A Christmas Song

Once in Royal David's City stood a lonely cattle shed,
where a mother held her baby.
You'd do well to remember the things He later said.

When you're stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties,
you'll just laugh when I tell you to take a running jump.
You're missing the point I'm sure does not need making
that Christmas spirit is not what you drink.

So how can you laugh when your own mother's hungry,
and how can you smile when the reasons for smiling are wrong?
And if I just messed up your thoughtless pleasures,
remember, if you wish, this is just a Christmas song.

Jethro Tull

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Friday, December 17, 2004

The I-Man helps wounded vets phone home

J.D. Imus, author and host of the Imus in the Morning Radio Program, has always been a staunch supporter of the military. Recently he's been speaking of the care and treatment of the wounded at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Today, after being alerted to the fact the recouping soldiers have to pay for their phone calls home, Imus stepped up and had donated $10,000 worth of phone cards, so these heroes can call home for the holidays.

Boy Scout/Cub Scout troops/packs have held similar fund raisers, as have Wal*Mart and many other corporations. YOU can help as well!

Contact your local
VFW to help. Or, to help directly:

Send phone cards of any amount to:
Medical Family Assistance Center
Walter Reed Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

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Party on dude

Happy birthday to The Simpsons

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

All About (Christmas) Eve

I thought it would be a nice idea to bring a date to my parents' house on Christmas Eve. I thought it would be interesting for a non-Italian girl to see the way an Italian family spends the holidays. I thought my mother and my date would hit it off like a partridge in a pear tree.

So I was wrong. So sue me.

I had only known Karen for three weeks when I extended the invitation. "I know these family things can be a little weird," I told her, "but my folks are great, and we always have a lot of fun on Christmas Eve."

"Sounds fine to me," Karen said.

I had only known my mother for 31 years when I told her I'd be brining Karen with me. "She's a very nice girl and she's really looking forward to meeting all of you."

"Sounds fine to me," my mother said.

And that was that. Two telephone calls. Two sounds-fine-to-me's. What more could I want? ...more...

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This bugged me so when I first read it on a Defense Tech blog , I snipped it to post at a later date. I know: its several weeks old, but it is still relevant to those of us whose employment requires a Security Clearance.

Imagine a world where Teletubbies pack heat and Spongebob goes undercover. That's apparently what US government web designers had in mind when they followed President Clinton's 1997 order to add child-oriented Web pages to government sites. Today, the results are bizarre - cryptographic coloring books, drug-sniffing dog cartoons, and spy-satellite sing-alongs. Are they giant inside jokes? Coded messages? The remnants of LSD experiments gone awry? Only Dick Cheney may know for sure.

Here are two examples. Click on over to my story in this month's Wired magazine for the rest:

NRO Jr. The National Reconnaissance Office used to be so hush-hush that officials wouldn't admit it existed. Now the spy-satellite agency has gone cute. The site has songs ("Whoosh Goes Satellite," to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"), stories of cats in space, and "simple-to-make, paper-plate satellite puppets."

Ginger the Bear
CIA's Homepage for KidsYoungsters can thank CIA "Ace Photo Pigeon" Harry Recon for the exciting overhead views of the agency's Langley, Virginia, headquarters presumably with some details redacted). Meanwhile, Ginger, a mischievous blue teddy bear, takes a tour of spook HQ - without a security badge. "Lucky the guard knows me!"

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Who are you?

Last week he was a Horatio Alger. This week he's a cross between Joey Butterfuco and John Gotti.

Bernard McGuirk, Executive Producer,
Imus in the Morning Radio speaking about Bernard Kerik

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

School board that needs reining in

Girl arrested for bringing scissors to school

PHILADELPHIA A 10-year-old girl was slapped in handcuffs and taken away to a police station this week for brining a pair of scissors to her Philadelphia elementary school.

School district officials say the girl hadn't threatened anyone with the 8-inch shears, and was keeping them inside her schoolbag.

But under school policy scissors are considered weapons and are banned from school grounds.

Administrators suspended the fourth grader for five days and called police, who took her away in a patrol wagon.

Her mother, Rose Jackson, says she is outraged at the way her daughter was treated.

She says the girl had no idea what she did was wrong.

Police say the decided not to charge the girl with a crime, and let her go. She could still face expulsion to a disciplinary school.

What in the world is wrong when 10 year olds are handcuffed and hauled downtown?

OK, should she have the scissors confiscated? Sure (but what about art classes? Don't kids cut things out anymore???). Should she had been disciplined in-school? Debatable, at best. Technically, she appears not to have been processed, and thus she wasn't 'arrested.'

I question the judgment of the officer in charge. Undoubtedly, she/he was performing her/his duty. But somehow I wonder where the judgment to detain a child over a non-issue came from.

And if school boards can wield so much authority that they can direct police officers to haul away children under false pretenses, that can only make school vouchers all the more attractive!

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Must. Stay. Awake.

Part of the required training every employee must undergo includes TEAM
BUILDING wherein the following discussion is being led by an otherwise
charming but clueless lady and gentleman team:
Introduction and
explanation of team problem solving techniques using the TOONERVILLE
TOWN COUNCIL exercise.

Shoot. Me. Now.

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Sore Loser

LANCASTER - A Democratic city councilman has demanded that a baker remove photos of President Bush from his stand in Lancaster’s venerable farmers’ market, saying the city needs a “healing period” following the bitterly contested presidential election.

City Council member Nelson Polite approached David Stoltzfus last month and asked him to remove the pictures. When Stoltzfus refused, Polite vowed to pursue a city ordinance that would ban all political items from public places in the city.
Polite said the photo offended city Democrats. “I just feel that since it was a close election and the city’s so divided, that we should have a healing period,” Polite told the New Era of Lancaster.

Where should I begin? That Councilman Polite is a sore loser? That he is, in effect, trying to pass legislation contrary to Mr. Stolzfus' 1st Amendment?

Seems to me Councilman Polite has far too much time on his hands if this is the most pressing issue of his office.

Hat tip to Rob at Say Anything

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The Law applies, even to Flu Shots

Sean at EIKIW takes this view

I get a flu shot every year. They're great, I stay healthier and therefore happier. But I'll tell you what: there is almost never a year that doesn't start out with requests from the medical community to conserve flu vaccinations so that the most vulnerable among us, the old, the infirm, and the young, can have first crack at getting a shot. Greater than usual demand, and shortage of vaccine, are inevitably cited. So every year I hold off, knowing full well that I'll be able to get a shot in December or January.

I take a slightly different view. For years, excess supply of flu shots were destroyed after the season, because not enough people get them during the winter months. Its a reason, I have surmised, that drug stores, supermarkets, and even BJs have offered flu shots for little or next to nothing.

The Law of Supply and Demand affects all areas of commerce, including flu shots. For years, surplus shots were trashed because no one used them, despite giveaways. So manufacturers made less. Then a circumstance creates a shortage, fear is whipped up in the media, and demand skyrockets.

No one wants anyone to die of the flu, but the hysteria surrounding it this year was incredible.

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Speaks for itself

Day by Day

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Template update (er, update)

Well, things have changed a tad here.  New face to this Blog, improved archive and comments handling, etc. 
Haven't figured out what I did to the comments on the archive pages (some work, some don't), but one headache at a time.

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This is NOT a recipe

Going through boxes of office stuff (or crap, if you prefer) leads you to finding the weirdest stuff. Over the weekend I found a 12 year old page from the New York Times OpEd section (Dec 15th). I've sent it to a number of people over the years (before there was Blogs... or even the Internet as we know it). I reprint it here because its a hearty laugh and well worth a read.

WARNING! This Is Not A Recipe by Teller (co-author of Penn & Teller's How To Play With Your Food")

What you see below appears to be a recipe. But it is not a recipe. It is a tool for making a political statement.

The arena? The holiday party.

You have cooked up something special, let's say your famous, lighter-than-air Solstice cookies. It's the pride of your kitchen, a secret recipe you've honed to perfection. You bring a batch to a party and your fellow-revelers are in hog heaven. Everything is merry until you are cornered by someone preaching Recipe Socialism: share your secret or be branded Capitalist Running Dog.

Now, you mustn't admit that you don't want to give away your recipe because it's yours and you're entitled to it. That smacks of respect for private property and the subversive conceit that you deserve what you earn by the sweat of your brow. But if you try to be honest, your fellow traveler friend (eager to lay hands on undeserved gain) is apt to accuse you of lacking the holiday spirit.

Don't argue. Just clip out the following recipe and present it to the pastry panhandler.

Total Time: 25 minutes

1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/4 cup milk mixed with 1/4 vinegar)
5 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup lemon juice (fresh is best)
1/2 cup sugar
3/8 cup all -purpose flour

  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Butter a cookie sheet
  2. In a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, beat the egg until foamy.
  3. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and blend well.
  4. Add the baking soda, one teaspoon at a time, sprinkling it in and beating until the mixture is smooth and the consistency of light cream.
  5. Add the lemon juice all at once. Stir gently until blended, but do not beat (it is important not to allow air to get trapped in the mixture).
  6. Sift the sugar and the flour together in a small bowl and add it to the egg mixture a teaspoon at a time. Stir until just moistened.
  7. Drop the batter by tablespoon, one inch apart, onto the buttered cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden; serve hot.

Yield: 12 servings
Approximate nutritional analysis: 62 calories, 1 gm fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 2 mg sodium, 4 gm protein, 4 gm carbohydrate.

Then rest secure in the knowledge that when your pantry pinko reaches Step 5, about a gallon of lemon-egg foam will gush out of the measuring cup and inundate the kitchen counter. It's harmless, just the lemon juice liberating the carbonate radical of the sodium bicarbonate to produce a cascade of C02 bubbles -- no fires and, regrettably, no explosions. But plenty messy and more than enough to make Chef Share-the-Wealth crazy.

A ruling-class lackey like yourself may want to photocopy and distribute this recipe to all the bleeding hearts at the party. Or add a touch verisimilitude by writing it out on a file card, dipping it in weak tea to age the paper and leaving it out as freeloader flypaper. And if nobody's trying to mooch a recipe from you, no need to feel left out. Be an anarchist: slip the recipe into someone else's fax machine (it's a virus) and use the auto dialer to send little bundles of holiday chaos all 'round the world.

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Notable note

Be sure to pay a visit to Dodd at Ipse Dixit and congratulate him on 11 years of sobriety.

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Benefits of a first-floor office

The new office space has afforded me a cube with a window.  This office park -- in a fairly residential community -- consists of several buildings, all 1-story tall.
Just now I was treated to a local day care, marching around 20 or so of their charges, singing 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town.'

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About Mr. Kerik's peccadilloes

Some words on Bernard Kerik from Michelle Malkin, and then some thoughts of my own:

A few other thoughts on Bernard Kerik's withdrawal :

  • First, it puts an end to feminist complaints that only women nominees are penalized for having "nanny problems."
  • Second, it keeps a white-hot spotlight on many of the issues raised by maverick House Republicans during the "intel reform"/border security debate, including the push for secure documentation, improved employer verification of Social Security numbers, and strengthening of penalties for immigration-elated fraud.
  • Third, it puts a much-needed focus on the need to enforce federal employer sanctions. Why is it that the only employers who ever seem to suffer consequences for hiring illegal immigrants are Cabinet nominees?! In 2002, the federal government fined only 13 employers nationwide for hiring illegal immigrants. Enforcement of employer sanctions has seen a nationwide joke for the last two decades.
  • And fourth, unfortunately, it virtually kills the prospects of getting someone with real homeland security enforcement experience to head DHS.... (more)

She's on the money (as usual) with these points. I initially defended Mr. Kerik, reasoning that the Nanny in question was hired by his spouse while he was away. It didn't take me long to realize that was a lame argument (long before the other issues Mr. Kerik is now dealing with came to light).

There is NO EXCUSE not to get a person sponsored/legal. We cannot complain that people overseas are stealing our jobs (well, in all fairness, they are underbidding us) when we practice the same thing.

The REAL way to stem illegal nannies (and yard keepers, and dishwashers, etc.) can be met with a two-prong solution:

  1. Serious enforcement of the law
  2. End minimum wage.

No one seems to like either one of those two points. They say if they arrest illegal aliens, who would wash our dishes? That's a joke of an argument. If you eliminate minimum wage, then supply and demand will meet in the middle, and then salaries will adjust normally until all possible jobs are filled with possible people. Otherwise, you have the corruption that is presently engaged by far t00 many people.

I am not one who wants a wall around the country; I just want a fair hand dealt to (and played by) all!

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Sunday, December 12, 2004

How is this explained?

The scene: Any random parking lot

The characters:Mom, three kids ranging in ages from about 6 to 12

The prop: The car they just climbed out of with the front licence plate reading WILD BITCH!

I'm just asking: How do you explain that plate to your kids?

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Friday, December 10, 2004

Send some Christmas cheer

I sent some holiday cheer. Won't you join me?

Merry Christmas, Michale Moore

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Hell musta froze over. *I* went to the movies last night!

Last night, my son's monthly school event was a trip to see The Polar Express.   It was such a well done movie, even I started to believe again.  Reams have been written about the animation, and I can't do it justice.  The story is wonderfully done, and the characters come to life. 
The story surrounds a boy who is at that certain age where he's starting to doubt if St. Nick is real.  Christmas Eve, 5 minutes to midnight, he hears a train pull up in front of his house (which, hours before, had a normal sidewalk and street with parked cars on it). As he goes to investigate, off steps the Conductor, Tom Hanks.  The boy rides the Polar Express to the North Pole, along with other children who are sharing similar doubts, and the adventures they share include the steam engine and cars careening across a frozen pond and a background look at operation of Santa and his Elves (the scene involving hundreds of TV monitors, one featuring a little boy denying he put gum in his sisters hair was worth the trip alone).   Throughout the majority of the movie, the clock always shows 11:55 PM, until moments before the boy believes again, and Santa takes off.
I do have one negative critique of the movie: as the view of the final scene pulls back, the narrator -- the boy, speaking as an adult (Tom Hanks) -- gives the impression he later stopped believing as he grew older.  Fortunately, this was lost on my son, because he still firmly believes; I wonder how many other kids, especially those on the border, will catch that comment?
Overall, a fabulous flick. 
The last time I set foot in a theater was April, but it was a for a Microsoft Security seminar.  The last, first run movie I saw was Finding Nemo, but that was at a drive-in.  The last time I set foot in a theater for a movie was about 10 years ago... and I couldn't be sure of the name of the movie ('A Few Good Men'?).  Last night, this theater didn't offer 'real' butter for the popcorn... that was the rage 10 years ago: theaters returning to REAL butter.  Was the theater I was at being cheap, or did all of them abandon the real stuff again??
...and don't get me started on ticket prices!! 

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The Legal Night Before Christmas

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter "the House") a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a/ St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa Claus (hereinafter "Claus") would arrive at sometime thereafter.

The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams....


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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Has Hell froze over?

Did Hell freeze over? Nah I'm just at the movies.

First time in 10 years! (How pathetic is that?)

UPDATE: My son had a class trip to the movies to see The Polar Express. I was so thrilled I had to WAPBlog it (above). The movie was fabulous for young and old alike. A beautiful movie that captured the magic of Christmas that is uniquely a child's.

I hope to expound upon this more tomorrow!

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Thanksgiving Letter

This has been making the email rounds and is now posted on the Marine Corps News website. I thought it was something worth sharing. Enjoy and happy holidays all.

A Marine's Thanksgiving Letterby Lance Cpl. Jessica Kane

Dear Mom and Dad,

I, as most would of thought, was expecting a very homesick Thanksgiving.
Although I wish I could have been home, my Thanksgiving was filled with
motivation and inspiration.

To start off, the unit got together and the CO said a couple of words to the unit. He complemented us for our hard work, and was extremely impressed with the plans we have for the future.

We then had lunch with some MRE crackers, popcorn, and SPAM. Afterwards, like we do most days, we prepared for the convoy into the city. It was a good convoy and all went well. While we were in the city, we were asked to get together because the
General wanted to talk to us.

The General being, General Casey, a four star General in the Army who is in charge of all Coalition Forces in Iraq. He again complemented us on the good work and sacrifices we are making. He told us that our hard work had paid off and there is no longer a safe haven for insurgents in Iraq. He then said something that would inspire the weakest of heart. He said, "The enemy was willing to die for there cause, and you gave them their wish." He told us that next year when we are home for Thanksgiving we will be truly grateful for all the gifts in our life. We can look back at this Thanksgiving and be proud of what we are doing.

Filled with juice and energy, we convoyed back to Camp Fallujah. As we came to the first gate to the camp, I was in shock because a Marine Corps Major was stand at the post. Along with the Major was a 1st Sgt. I reported to the Major what convoy we were and how many packs we were carrying. He told me to proceed and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

As we came to the second gate, a Marine Capt and a Sgt Maj were standing the post. There was not a PFC or LCpl to be found. None of the posts had young Marines at them; officers and staff NCOs manned them all. The command decided that the young Marines were going to have the night off to get some good chow. It was
unbelievable, and a wonderful site.

The leadership took charge, and took care of the younger Marines. This filled me with a pride indescribable with words. I am so honored to be apart of an organization like this. Marines taking care of Marines with such unselfishness.

As I went to Thanksgiving chow with my brothers and sisters, the IMEF Commanding General Lt Gen Sattler and the IMEF Sgt Maj, Sgt Maj Kent were serving chow. The amazing part was that they were so enthusiastic about it. Everyone was in a great mood, and ready to take on anything.

It makes you think that if a 3 star general in the United States Marine Corps can serve turkey to a bunch of 18-20 year-old Lance Corporals, then you can suck up whatever you have to do and stop complaining. So, as I went to bed, I felt very Thankful and indeed blessed for a great life. Tomorrow, I am sure, will be full of fighting and disaster, along with the added stress of little sleep and cold days and even colder nights. But for tonight it's Thanksgiving and everything is okay.

Hat tip to The Patriette

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New template

Here then is my new template. Some call them 'skins', but I've seen so many 'skins' that are so superior it would be an insult to them for me to call what I've got going on here a 'skin'.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ahhhh.... in my new office space

Wish I could say I had an 'office'... but in fact it's a fairly large
cubicle. Large, even by IT standards, with a window. I could do far

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Save "Merry Christmas"!

as seen in Reality Hammer

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Happy Birthday to Ann Coulter

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

All about Hanukkah

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Musical Question of the Day

For many years I've pondered the meaning of the phrase "Yoi da adash".

I first heard it in Joan Jett & The Blackhearts rendition of The Little Drummer Boy, and only today after doing a search did I realize The Supremes included it as well.

I grew up in my Catholic parish singing:

Mary smiled at me pa rum pa pum pum
The ass and lamb kept time, pa rum pa pum pum

But Joan Jett, et al sang

Yoi da adash, pa rum pa pum pum
The ass and lamb kept time, pa rum pa pum pum

I've tried to locate a suitable online translator, but I am uncertain if the source language is Latin.

Anyone have any clues?

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Pass me an ice pick

I just heard on Imus in the Morning: Terry Bradshaw singing Christmas Carols.

Painful. Dreadful.

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Too stupid for COPS?

I'll have to forward this to my brother, who lives near Nashua...

Some truly momentous achievements in dumbassery
I've said before that New Hampshire has it's share of dumbasses, but we're pikers compared to our neighbors in Massachusetts. However, apparently a few of my fellow Cow Hampshirites took that as a challenge.

First, we have Steven Coleman, who decided to get back at his ex-girlfriend by burning down her house. He drove over to her house on a riding lawn mower, tossed a couple of Molotov cocktails made from empty Budweiser bottles, then attempted to flee the scene. He was caught by the police after a low-speed chase.
Next up, we have John Hardwick. 12 years ago, while hunting, he shot and killed a fellow hunter. Now he's upset that the State Fish and Game Commission won't issue him a new hunting license. They're willing to issue him one valid for bow-hunting, but he doesn't see why he shouldn't be allowed to hunt with a gun again.

Finally, we have Lawence Trant, who apparently has a thing about child molesters. I mean, we all loathe them, but he takes it to a new level. In March of 2003, he tracked down seven convicted sexual offenders. He stabbed one of them and set fire to two
houses. He's currently serving 10-to-30 for two counts of attempted murder.
I swear, sometimes I think we're called "The Granite State" in honor of the
rocks some of us have in our heads...

Thanks to WizBang!

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Monday, December 06, 2004

Worst party ever

There are thse parties you wished you never attended, and then there are parties so hideously bad you wish you could have attended to see things first-hand. Thankfully, Michele recounted a party she had the misfortune of attending:

The day then descended into the fourth level of hell, the one where you are surrounded by costumed characters that look nothing like the beloved children's characters they are supposed to be representing. There was a blue dragon, a 7 foot tall Elmo, my brother-in-law dressed as Clifford the Big Red Dog and pinching my ass the whole time, and this big brown walking piece of dirty fur that was supposed to be Scooby Doo but looked more like just the Doo. At one point he bent down to say hello to a little girl and his head fell off. Much crying and screaming of little children ensued.

Her misfortune is our treat.

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GPS=Racism, redux

As I predicted two weeks ago, members of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union were busted by the Boston Herald for cooping on the clock. Instead of trumped-up cries of racism, the Union was against the notion of installing GPS devices in the school buses because they were afraid theor members would be discovered goofing off on the clock.

Yet another reason why unions have grown too large, and in many cases, have outlived their usefulness.

Thanks to Wizbang

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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Lite blogging

My much-better-half has spent the day shopping with her sister.  It’s so rare she can get away without the kids, and equally rare that the boys have a day to themselves, that there will be no scribes today, despite the fact I have a lot to speak my mind about, from PESTs to the President’s Cabinet.


I expect to bang some out later….



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Names you don't hear every day


Denny’s is running an ad, actually two ads, featuring a manager named Thannya.


In a sign of my ignorance, is this a Southern name?  I’ve met a whole lot of people in my time, but Thannya is not a name I’ve come across. 


Just asking…

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Boxes, boxes and more boxes!

On Wednesday, inside the front door of my house, were a few boxes.    Then agin on Thursday.   My much-better-half having shopped online, the fruits of her labor were showing up.
Tonight, I couldn't get IN to my house.  10 boxes blocked the way.
I resisted the urge to open any of them.
And, well, she came home right after I got them inside...

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Book review: The Celestine Prophecy

This is a first for this Blog: a book review.

I have never done a book review previously, due to the fact I don't read much in the way of novels or fiction. My down time is so rare I don't get the chance to read for 'pleasure', and books-on-tape/CD often induce sleep (which, as I previously mentioned, doesn't bode well while I drive). When I do read its news magazines, opinion pieces, and tech manuals, and generally on a need-to-know basis.

But two good friends recommended The Celestine Prophecy to me, and on their recomendation I picked up a copy.

The Celestine Prophecy

I don't know what it is about the book, but it simply did not hold my attention. I never was bored to the point of sleep, but I could not find anything exciting in the first 5 or so chapters that makes me want to go on from there. The writing, I found, lacked depth and often tried too hard to create suspense in an otherwise lackluster scene.

I found the fact that people who are seemingly strangers on a 'dangerous quest' confide in other characters on this treasure hunt absurd. I can't go into any further details of the story, because I could not go on reading.

Sorry, J &K, but this read bored me. Maybe there's a message in there, somewhere. Maybe the coincidences you two spoke of are plain as day to you and are lost on me. I don't know. But I don't see myself finishing the story.

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Unemployment rate falls. Again.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today that in the month of November 112,000 new payroll jobs were created and the unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent.

Based on the payroll survey and benchmark revision, "2.4 million new jobs have been created since August 2003, and over 2 million new jobs have been created thus far in 2004."

Thanks to Blogs for Bush.

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And They Call Bush Voters "Dumb"

LONDON (Reuters) - Nearly half of Britons in a poll said they had never heard of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in southern Poland that became a symbol of the Holocaust and the attempted genocide of the Jews.

The results of the survey conducted by the BBC were released on Thursday as Britain's public broadcaster announced it will show a new series next January to mark the 60th anniversary of the concentration camp's liberation.

"We were amazed by the results of our audience research," said Laurence Rees, a producer on the series, "Auschwitz: The Nazis & the 'Final Solution."'

"It's easy to presume that the horrors of Auschwitz are engrained in the nation's collective memory, but obviously this is not the case," Rees said.

The survey found that 45 percent of those surveyed had not heard of Auschwitz. Historians estimate that anywhere from one million to three million people, about 90 percent of them Jews, were killed there.

Keep this in mind the next time someone tells you what the Europeans think of the USA.

Hat tip to Leather penguin

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Holiday meme: wish list

Stolen, nearly completely verbatim, from Gina, who grabbed it from others.

Step One

Make a post to your weblog/journal. The post should contain your list of 10 holiday wishes. The wishes can be anything at all, from simple and fandom-related ("I'd love a Snape icon that's just for me") to medium ("I wish for _____ on DVD") to really big ("All I want for Christmas is a new car/computer/house/TV.") The important thing is, make sure these wishes are things you really, truly want.

If you wish for real life things (not fics or icons), make sure you include some sort of contact info in your post, whether it's your address or just your email address where Santa (or one of his elves) could get in touch with you.

Also, make sure you post some version of these guidelines, or link to this post (it'll be public) so that the holiday joy will spread.

Step Two:

Surf around your blogroll (or friend's blogrolls, or just random journals) to see who has posted their list. And now here's the important part:

If you see a wish you can grant, and it's in your heart to do so, make someone's wish come true. Sometimes someone's trash is another's treasure, and if you have a leather jacket you don't want or a gift certificate you won't use--or even know where you could get someone's dream purebred Basset Hound for free--do it.

You needn't spend money on these wishes unless you want to. The point isn't to put people out, it's to provide everyone a chance to be someone else's holiday elf--to spread the joy. Gifts can be made anonymously or not--it's your call.

There are no rules with this project, no guarantees, and no strings attached. Just...wish, and it might come true. Give, and you might receive. And you'll have the joy of knowing you made someone's holiday special.

My list:

  1. A much needed vacation for my family. Anywhere they want.
  2. I hope Santa gives my much-better-half what she really wants for Christmas (or at least he clues me in so I can get if for her.)
  3. A way to do with less sleep, since that's the least prodcutive time of my day.
  4. A health insurance company that has the capacity to look at a prior claim they paid for a specific service and thereby use it as justification for a new claim for the same service. Their idea of 'submitting proof of need' is mindboggling inefficient when repetetive services are involved. (And no, I do not want a goverment controlled health care system)
  5. The ability to listen to a 'Book on Tape' (or CD) and not nod off to sleep in under 10 minutes. (State Troopers tend to get mad if you snooze while driving)
  6. That the magic of Christmas my 9 year old has, and his 2 year old brother is beginning to appreciate, lasts within them indefintiely
  7. A cell phone that actually gets a signal in my home, and a reliable signal nearly everywhere else (oh, the costs of living in a rural town)
  8. That I learn to write in this Blog half as well as the dozen or so others I scan routinely,
    -- OR --
    to be 1/100 as good as the three or four I read every day.
  9. My job relocating closer to home. Of course, that would eat in to my talk-radio habit, but I am will to make that sacrifice.
  10. The ability to get out of bed the morning after a work-out and not have my body ache terribly. I know 'no pain, no gain' but you'd think after 15 months of regular work-outs I'd start to comprehend the notion that 'exercise makes you feel better.'
  11. A Genuine Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Lightning Loader Range Model Air Rifle with a Shock-Proof High Adventure Combination Trail Compass and Sundial Set Right in the Stock. And no, I won't shoot my own eye out. I have yet to ever watch more than a few minutes of "A Christmas Story," but I am old enough to remember Jean Shepard on WOR Radio, so I can imagine how well the story is told.
  12. A bottle of Jack Daniels, and a glass. I am not looking to get particularly toasted, but when those rare moments of having some time to unwind come about, a libation can make it even more special.

OK, so that was 12 items, but I was kidding about #11 (and some of the others are really out of reach).

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Is it a late dinner or early breakfast

Stopping by McDonald's drive-thru for what I thought was a late dinner. Ordered a QuarterPounder with Cheese.

Before driving off I opened the carton and bit into it. Parked and went inside.

Approaching the gal at the counter:

Me: Since when do 'Quarter with Cheeses' come with sausage?
She: Oh. (turning to back end) Mary! It happened again!

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Follow up to Comfort Food

Wow. Well I am impressed! I was starting to think the whole concept of 'comfort food' was a marketing device, but I can see that would have been way off the mark.

Thanks to Michele for offering this space, and thanks to all who offered their comfort food choices, and especially to those who have tried to define the reasons for their choices.

For the record, I asked my much-better-half, to whom I've been married to for almost 15 years, what she considered 'comfort foods'. She shrugged and said 'everyone says macaroni & cheese.' When I asked if that was hers, she said 'no, but anything you bring home that I don't have to cook would be comforting to me.'

(note to self: stop by her favorite restaurant tomorrow night)

She is Irish/German/Italian, and one helluva good cook. Other than take-out for her, I suppose neither of us has any one 'special' food.

I may not get comfort food, but I understand how so many people have such a strong bond to it. Whether it be a replay of mom/granny's love (or a substitute thereof), a step back to simpler times, or just something to sleep in, all of you take your comfort food seriously, and that's something I won't argue with.

I may not get it, but I think this is one of those things I am probably missing out because I don't (not to be confused with how I don't get Country Music, how I can't dance, etc. )

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Welcome to 20th 21st Century

Many who know me outside this Blog know I am a fairly technical guy. I am in IT, so that sort of goes without saying. But I live on a tight budget (thus the free blog host, free tools, etc.) so I've never been on the bleeding edge of technology. I own 4 functioning PCs (well, three, really), but none are networked. I don't even have broadband at home.

That's going to change.

Part of my employment will require remote access to enable my working at home. That's not to say, necessarily, that I can work at home when I please, but that there will be times that late night/weekend tasks will be required (so my 2 hour commute will continue). And based on the data requirements of the tasks at hand, I cannot do without a broadband connection.

Now to most folk, this is an easy decision! Call your cable company! Call your Baby Bell! Get it done....

Not so fast. In the rural community I live in, I don't have a variety of cable companies. I have one, and they aren't fully-wired yet to provide high-speed data/video in my neighborhood yet. I can get in-bound service, but would still require a second phone line for my out-bound data. Not feasible or economical. 'Next quarter we'll get to you, ' they say. But they've said that for 2 years now.

Call Verizon? Nope, I am serviced by a rural company. Back when I moved in 12 years ago they said to me 'Good news! We added touch-tone service last spring!'

So I need to schedule a time for them to come to my home and install their modem. Can't buy my own, and good lord! of course they HAVE to install it ($25 installation charge). And I need to give them two weeks notice to schedule the appointment. At this point, I will wait a little longer and schedule them in the new year to get the service.

In the meantime, I will get my PCs (not Macs) networked, to share the broadband when it comes. Here now is my request to my readers: what home networking do you use? I am aiming for wireless, so any suggestions would be appreciated! What are your experiences with a wireless LAN and wireless phones (home and cell)?

Many thanks in advance

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What is so comforting about certain foods?

Michele at A Small Victory wrote of her horrible Wednesday, involving an ATM glitch, a shopping cart full of food, and local black out:

And even my daughter refused to understand the situation was just a technical glitch and no, we weren't poor, we weren't going to starve to death because mommy has no food money and would you please stop making a scene, I know you're doing it on purpose, even when I called home to see if we had cash laying around but no one answered the phone and I had to leave my cart of groceries at the counter while I drove to my mother's house (braving the five million mph winds that were threatening to knock down every street light and telephone pole) and dragged her back to the store with me so she could use her AmEx to pay from my freaking food, most food items being of the "I'm sick and I need comfort food" variety like frozen pizza and a chocolate coffee eggnog cake and some Ring Dings and thank jeebus I had some fruit in the cart so my mother didn't give me a lecture on how my kids were going to suffer from malnutrition, through all that I kept repeating the mantra, it's almost over.
There it is again! Comfort food. Am I the only person in the world to whom this reference is completely meaningless? What is this strange phenomenon around certain foods? Why is 'baked ziti' considered ordinary (therefore not comforting) yet the seemingly cherished 'mac & cheese' the stereotypical comfort food of all comfort foods?? Aren't they in the same genre of foodstuff?

And while I applaud and enjoy Michele's writing (as it has been referenced several times in this Blog), what is the comfort value in eating 'chocolate coffee eggnog cake'?

Now I am not trying to pick on Michele, and I do hope her Thursday is infinitely better than yesterday. I can relate to her angst at being powerless: living in rural Pennsylvania, I put up with a number of black-outs each year, sometimes even in the dead of winter, I understand where she's coming from. And if Ring Dings and the like are her ticket to feeling better, I am happy for her.

I just read and hear people mention this 'comfort food' thing and I am trying to comprehend it. I eat when I am hungry. I eat when I want something tasty which often enough is anything but healthy (junk food). I don't get any particular 'comfort' out of one type food or other beyond taste and hunger abatement.

What am I missing here?

UPDATED: What a surprise! Not only has Michele, herself addressed my querey, but she asked her readers to opine. In appreication of their efforts, I will respond in kind.

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As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help from that renowned scientific journal SPY magazine (January 1990) - I am pleased to present the annual scientific inquiry into Santa Claus.

1. No known species of reindeer can fly. However, there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer that only Santa has ever seen.

2. There are 2 billion children (defined as persons under 18) in the world. BUT, since Santa doesn't (appear to) handle the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim children; that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to the Population Reference Bureau (1990). At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each!


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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sign on rest-room door

NOTICE: Water in rest-rooms and janitor sinks not fit for human consumption. For sanitary use only.

I'm not suprised to have seen a sign like this in Bermuda or in parts of Europe. I an suprised to see it New Jersey.

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Found a bowl of green bean casserole leftover in the fridge. What is it with that side dish?

Every Thanksgiving, nearly every holiday dinner in fact, some one brings it. Can't have a pot-luck cook-out without a few dishes of it. What is it about that dish that makes it seemingly so appealing. I mean, I don't dislike it, but I never said 'Boy! I could go for some green-bean casserole right about now!'

Maybe its an easy dish to make, I don't really know.

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DAY BY DAY Returns

After an almost 3 month hiatus, the comic Day By Day returns tomorrow. The artist, Chris Muir, was forced to place the strip on the shelf in September due to some unfortunate health issues at home. For the last 2 weeks or so, visitors to his site (or feed) were told of the strip's return today, and we, the loyal fans, have been patiently waiting.

I came across the strip last year and found it's biting commentary from a decidedly right of center approach refreshing. It will be good to read the humor once again.

This Blog heralds the return of Damon, Jan, Sam, Zed (and of course Chris): you have been missed but are far from forgotten!

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