Saturday, December 31, 2005

Signs I'm getting old

The scene:  Local watering hole near my job, Friday afternoon
The cast:   Myself and a few co-workers, both in their early 30's
I was describing my recollection of Dick Clark's New Year's celebration overlapping the previous 'standard'
Me: ...So I used to have watch Guy Lombardo's show with his Orchestra
He: 'Di'
Me: What?
He: 'Di'.   You said 'Lombardo', don't you mean 'Lombardi'?
Me: No no... heh, you're thinking football.  That was Vince Lombardi
She: Oh?  Did he play for the Eagles??
Me:  Um.... hey, I gotta go now...

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Need an alternative to Times Sq on New Years Eve?

Travel to North Carolina, and watch the NEW YEAR'S EVE PICKLE DROP.

Think I'm kidding? Watch a video from last year!

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Friday, December 30, 2005

On the passing of another year

Ostensibly, this is the seemingly defacto post that many bloggers make to mark the end of the year. I may make other posts before the ball drops tomorrow night, but in the meantime this ought to serve as my year-ender. I could simply repost Harry's quandary over what Auld Lang Syne means, but that's one of the more popular destinations in Google, so you could easily find it yourself.

But being an 'end of year' post is just part of the story... I am participating in a contest offered by E.Webscapes for a Blog Design makeover. I generally think the so-called reality TV shows on this theme are silly, but let's face it: if you've spent any time reading my Blog, you would agree its design needs work!

The contest is for the best New Year's Resolution, and so what better vehicle to offer that than a year end post?

Here's the tricky part: Read More... I don't have a resolution. Nope. Nada. Why? Because I have said in years past, they are useless. The idea that picking January 1 as the be-all and end-all day for resolving to change yourself/improve yourself/lose weight/gain weight/stop smoking/start exercising/start reading/stop wasting time/find love/get a divorce/write a book/read a book ... whatever... to pick one single day out of 365 to embark on such a change is an exercise in procrastination.

For example, a resolution to quit smoking is an excuse to wait until New Year's Eve to smoke a carton of cigarettes -- because, you know, tomorrow I will quit cold turkey ... no, really! -- only to find that by dinner time on the 1st you simply can't do it and that I simply have to have a cigarette and so you'll have to wait another 364 days before you have to worry about quitting again.

Same thing for dieting, exercising, whatever.

This doesn't mean I reject the idea of resolutions; far from it! I've made many each of the last several years. I am in favor of resolutions if you truly believe in what you resolve (and if you really knew me, you'd know I have a boat load of things I ought to resolve to change). But if you truly believe in this planned resolution, why on Earth would wait for this specific 1st day of the year to begin it?? Why can't you resolve to quit smoking on February 10th? Why not June 27th?

How about if you are serious about making a change in your life, you stop reading this post on whatever day it is -- presently it is Dec. 30th -- and just do it???? What are you waiting for? What is the point in starting a resolution to make yourself better, but only on the first day of the year?? Don't the rest of the days count for anything??

And you know what? If you start today, even if through no fault of your own you fail at your resolution, say in a week or two, you won't be tied to random date of Jan 1 to try again. You could start again on Jan 8th.

Or the 12th.

Or May 26th.

That being said, one of my recurring resolutions is to make more time to spend with my family. It's a task I work very hard at on a weekly basis. Some weeks, I am a winner. Other weeks I am not. But in the end I am hopeful I'll have more win than losses. So I make time for Cub Scouts and for Tae Kwon Do and even though I deplore the spectator sport that is grocery shopping I will go with my fam to buy whatever it is we need whenever I am called up. And if I could manage to get even less sleep, I would have more time to do things at home that need to be done, and that would benefit them all.

See? If I had picked Jan 1 to start, I would have to wait the balance of the year to try again... not so with my method.

So that's my resolution, and entry into the contest. On the face of it, I realize it's no competition with people who play the New Years Resolution game by the rules (whatever they may be), but it's my contribution to the discussion.

I look forward to the new year being better than the last. 2005 was pretty tame for me: no layoffs, no major medial issues, no personal tragedies. 2006 employment is looking equally positive for me, and I can only hope the other issues continue on their steady course as well. Still, there is a lot that could be better in the new year than the last one.

On a whole, the nation took it right between the eyes with the repetitive hurricanes (and poor aftermath planning and/or execution -- at all levels). As a nation we've mourned the dead and wounded in an important and all-too-often slandered war effort, but the progress made cannot and should not be ignored. The peaceful transfer of power was demonstrated again at the start of this year, and in spite of what many would have you think, that is a good thing even if your candidate didn't win.

Yet despite these hits, these wounds, the nation continues to grow and prosper, and that cannot be ignored.

New Years Eve may be a little different in my house this year. If the weather holds Saturday afternoon, we'll travel to NYC, but not in Manhattan. While I have always dreamed of ringing in the new year in Times Square, my much-better-half and kidlets wouldn't fare will in those crowds.
So if we make in Saturday, we'll spend New Years Eve with my sister-in-law, where I'll raise a toast of fine bourbon to ring in start of the year. Sunday will be at my parents home, where we'll have Christmas, Part II celebrations. If the weather fails us, I'll spend the evening of Saturday into Sunday watching either the Twilight Zone or Honeymooner marathons (and, of course, the aforementioned libation), and Sunday at the same family's homes.
Whatever your plans, whatever your resolutions, I bid you all
good luck and Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Passing of the Torch

I have no inside track, but I think the unspoken truth about Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve is that it will be his last. Even ABC's URL lacks his name. I don't say that to be cruel to the man, because he obviously had a stroke, but in light of last years' repeated line that he suffered a 'minor stroke' coupled with the fact that he has yet to make an appearance since then speaks volumes.

At the risk of sounding callus, and based on published reports from ABC and other media outlets, I predict Mr. Clark will be on hand Saturday night, perhaps for the opening of the program, certainly the last 10 second count-down, and that's about all. Mr. Seacrest will then have the baton passed to him, ending the 34 year tradition of Mr. Clark. More evidence of this comes again from the ABC website, which says Ryan will debut as co-host of the program, but later describes Hilary Duff as [presiding] over segments of the show from Hollywood and [introducing] top recording artists. Considering the publicity photos show all three, it's a wonder why ms. Duff - ABC's own hot-property - isn't given the same co-host status as FOX's Seacrest.

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I am just old enough to remember knowing about the late Guy Lombardo and his traditional New Years Eve telecast, which not surprisingly began on radio before television. Somehow the idea of televising an orchestra held little, broad camera appeal, at least in my estimation. But it remained a staple in my family, and the memories of my aunts and uncles hushing us kids who were lucky enough to see even a portion of the telecast (often, this was well before midnight) stands out in my mind. I can recall being told to 'turn off that noise' when I managed to flip to Dick Clark's show. Ah, that was 1974 or so...

But now I can relate to my aunts and uncles, on some level. I am certain I could pick Mr. Seacrest out of a lineup if asked, but having never watched an episode of American Idol, I can't speak first hand for his talent. Obviously, AI is a hit, and he wouldn't be there without talent, but I couldn't speak to it. His own website tells me he's the man behind the mic at AT40, which was news to me, since I hadn't heard Casey Kasem had given up his post (but then again, I haven't remotely enjoyed much pop-music in over 20 years). So I am as clueless today about Ryan as my relatives were 30 years ago.

Whether it be Dick Clark's final hosting of New Year's or not, here's hoping this will be a good one for one and all!

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Year End Quick Hits

  • Good night, Fred the Baker: Michael Vale, the famous Dunkin' Donuts baker, who was always up at 3AM 'to make the doughnuts', died this week at age 83.
  • Mary Tyler Moore turns 69 on this day: I'll always remember how strikingly cute she looked as she slid down the 600 lbs of walnuts in The Dick Van Dyke show.
    This shot hardly did her justice.
  • The so-called illegal wiretaps: As if enough of this hasn't been already written, clearly spelling out that yes, the Commander in Chief can and should take the necessary steps to stop attacks by those who have declared war against us, we're still being spoon-fed by the MSM about how these acts could affect you.

    Simply stated, if you aren't involved in conversations with Al Qaida, you're safe. Tell me the Government has used the information gained from such an investigation in a criminal prosecution (which is protected by the Constitution) and I'll stand beside you in your outrage. When it deals with national security, sit down and let the system work.
  • Wife of beaten man calls for end of violence: A horrible story about a man who was guilty of honking his horn to get a group of 'youths' out of his way, and for his efforts he was brutally beaten. AP released a photo of the man, who is black. Why aren't the likes of the Revs. Jackson and Sharpton calling for peace and unity? Could it be because the attackers were also black?
  • Boyfriend charged in Cell Phone Assault: It took this long to figure out the gal didn't voluntarily swallow her own cell phone?? Could these be the same cops who worked the Jon Benet Ramsey case?
  • New Year's Resolutions: While I maintain that the concept of New Years Resolutions is silly, I will suggest the following for certain elected officials:
  • PA Gov. Ed Rendell: You made a noble effort to curb runaway school taxes with casino gambling; please continue this effort to rein in the fiefdoms of school boards. Oh, and can we please tell the truth about minimum wages?
  • President George Bush: Overall, well done. But there is so much more to be done. Please resolve:
  • Continue the War on Terror, on all fronts
  • Fight for the Patriot Act
  • Preserve Tax Cuts
  • Get serious on Border Security. Vicente Fox is counting on you not to do so.
  • Stand for your Conservative Principles. These are what got you elected. Twice.
  • Your turn: What are your Resolutions?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How did you get this number??



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What do you mean What do you mean???

Continuing the saga...

He: Hello Mr. Turnpike, this is Mr. Intrepid. Listen, first of all, I want to apologize for getting so angry at you the other day.

Me: Oh, please, don't worry about it. I would have done the same thing.

He: Yeah, well, I was thinking about it, and the car is pretty old, so I don't think either of us should call our insurance company about it, so we should just not call them.

Me: Oh! Well... that is your decision, of course....

He: Yeah, well, I don't want cause you any problems about it, and neither of us want to deal with an insurance company and all...

Me: Well, like I said that is up to you, but you should know I have contacted my insurance company already.

He: You did what?

Me: I contacted my insurance company.

He: What do you mean?

Me: What you mean what do you mean? I mean I called them, 20 minutes after the accident.

He: Oh ... you did?

Me: Yes. In fact I spoke with them again on Friday... they said they sent you a letter outlining your options... have you received it?

He: Well, I ... well, I haven't checked my P.O. box in about 2 weeks, so I ...

Me: Why don't I give you the claim number, and then you call them?

He: Oh, you have a claim number too, huh? Well, OK, let me write it down then...
It should be noted that his licence and insurance card had a P.O. for his address. This isn't exactly unusual in these parts of Pennsylvania, however I find it odd he doesn't check his mail for 2 weeks.... hell, I check e-mail several times each day!

Am I wrong, or does this sound as if he wanted to get me to pay for his repairs out of my pocket??

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Another reason they're my favorite

Quite some time before I noted Wegman's was ranked in Fortune Magazine as the #1 company to work for, I've actually enjoyed shopping there. With their product selection, price, atmosphere and especially the polite and helpful staff, I am never disappointed when I visit.

Now I have another reason to like them. Two weeks ago we received a greeting card in the mail from them, inviting us to meet their Manager. When my much-better-half presented herself, she was given:

  • A gift bag containing a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (yes, yes: we all know how Rachel Ray short-hands this)
  • a $50. gift card

Such a deal! The gift card was used up within minutes, but who could complain??

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Chanukah Song

Having posted (and/or reposted) several humorus posts on Christmas, it's about time I at least paid tribute to Adam Sandler's work. So many sites claim to have the lyrics, but apparently none ever heard of spell-checking words they weren't familiar with. So I cobbled the following together on my own. Please advise if I made any typos!

Put on your yarmulke
It's time for Chanukah
So much fun-uka
To celebrate Chanukah

Chanukka is, the festival of lights
Instead of one day of presents
We get eight crazy nights

When you feel like the only kid in town
Without a Christmas tree
Here's a list of people who are Jewish
Just like you and me

David Lee Roth lights the Mennorah
So does James Caan and Kirk Douglas
and the late Dinah Shore-a

Guess who eats together at the Carnegie Deli
Bowser from Sha-Na-Na and Arthur Fonzerelli.

Paul Newman's half Jewish,
Goldie Hawn's half, too.
Put them together, what a fine looking Jew

We don't sing Deck the Halls or Jingle Bell Rock
But you can spin a dreidl with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock (Both Jewish!)

O.J. Simpson, not a Jew
But guess who is, Hall of Famer Rod Carew (he converted!)

We got Ann Landers and her sister Dear Abby
Harrison Ford's a quarter Jewish -- Not too shabby!

Some people think that Ebenezer Scrooge is
Well he's not, but guess who is: all Three Stooges

So many Jews are in show biz
Tom Cruise isn't, but I heard his agent is

Tell your friend Veronica
It's time to celebrat Chanukkah
Don't forget your harmonica
On this lovely, lovely Chanukkah

So drink your gin and tonic-a
And smoke your maraijuana-ca
If you really, really, really, really wanna-ka
Have a happy, happy, happy, happy, Channukah!!! Happy Chanukkah !

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Happy Chanukah

I wanted to post something Sunday, but obviously didn't.

I've often wondered why Christians seem to totally disregard Jewish holidays. Growing up Catholic, and attending 16 years of Catholic education (I attended St. John's Univ, for those who are counting), I was exposed to a great deal of Theology, including the Old Testament. I learned early on about Passover and about Maccabean's victory, etc.

It's been said that Chanukah is a comparatively minor Jewish holiday that has grown in stature with its relation to Christmas. Early Christians had to 'relocate' some of their holidays to coincide with the Jewish or Pagan celebrations, lest they be easily seen and invited to dinner with the lions (and as such the story of the "shepherds in December" could be explained).

This is not to say I advocate the blending of religions or traditions, as blending often leads to dilution. It seems (to me, at least) many people would just as soon ignore the fact that there are Jewish holidays, and that's hard to comprehend. Certainly, I understand a Jew not being so excited to celebrate Christmas or Easter, for their spiritual significance, but the reverse shouldn't true, since those holidays were crucial in the eventual evolution of Christianity.

Let's not forget that before Christ walked the Earth, there was Passover and Chanukah, and the miracles behind them should not be ignored by Christians, if for no other reason than we believe the Messiah did, indeed, come.

To all those who celebrate Chanukah, may G-d bless you and yours.
Just some food for thought on this Virtual Monday, a week that will be short for most, or completely off for many. For me, I will work today and Thursday-Friday; tomorrow I will take the second of my two 'floating holidays', which are by definition 'use or loose'. I could have taken Friday, but being that it will be a decidedly shortened day, why waste the full day off?

For those wanting more information on Chanukah, I provide the following:

  • Tammy Bruce links to the A/P noting what makes this year's Chanukah especially special, and to other references on the holiday. (I also swiped the jpg above from her blog).
  • Blogs for Bush provides some prayers for the holiday.
  • Another source of information that I posted previously.

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    Saturday, December 24, 2005

    Is he serious?


    Yes, hello Mr. Turnpike1. My name is Tom Intrepid. I am the guy you were involved in an accident with last week. I'll be at this number - NNN-NNN-NNNN - for the next 30 minutes. Please give me a call back or try me again tonight after 10 pm. Thank you.
    So I phone him back in just about 10 minutes after his call and got his voice mail. I left my message, including phone number, and noted the time I returned his call.

    My insurance company has already sent him a letter, instructing him what to do. Even if he hasn't received it yet, his insurance company ought to have contacted mine by now. Basically, there's little reason he and I have to speak, but out of common courtesy I will speak with him, of course.

    But after 10pm? On Christmas Eve?

    Is he serious?

    1The names have been changed, naturally.

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    Countdown has begun

    The countdown to the Big Guy has begun. Our two boys (10 and almost 3) are geared up for the big day tomorrow, although the oldest boy is starting to piece things together.

    If Santa gives toys to all the boys and girls, why do the Marines run Toys for Tots???
    (Cue sound f/x: Ralph Kramden's 'Hummina, hummina, hummina')
    Well, you know a lot of people were moved out of their homes after all those hurricanes and ....
    Right, so they're helping Santa. That makes sense

    We're not nearly as organized as I had hoped, and in some ways we're a little behind where we were last year, but we're trying. Next year... you'll see... In the meantime, we started late last night in the hard-core decorating and wrapping, so my much-better-half and I are operating on a little sleep, and not likely to get much more before Monday. Another year, another all-nighter.

    With the addition this year of broadband (I know: it's about time!) we'll enjoy many Christmas sites, not the least of which is NORAD's own (read about it's history), and we'll all make merry and have fun, because that's one of the big parts to a kid's Christmas.

    So I bid all of my readers a Merry Christmas.

    And to persons of all faiths, to quote a modern-day Renaissance man: the singer, songwriter, novelist and Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Kinky Friedman: may the God of your choice bless you and yours this holiday season.

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    Friday, December 23, 2005

    You'll shoot your eye out!

    As in years past, TBS is again going wall-to-wall with A Christmas Story. As noted in the past, the only time I ever manage to watch any of the movie, I invariably see the exact same scene before being called away. In all of these years, I've never sat through the entire movie, which is a pity since I became a fan of Jean Shepard at an early age.

    However, I can at least claim I have seen the movie... er, sorta. If you replace all the characters with bunnies. Yeah, bunnies. And condense it to 30 seconds.

    No, really.

    h/t: The Daily Flog

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    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    The Top 5 Benefits of the NYC Transit Strike

    Adapted from a comment to a post at WizBang!,

    People Benefiting From The Strike:

    5.) Bar owners. Most popular phrase: "Screw this commute, I'm going to the bar and wait this out..."

    4.) "Street Meat" vendors. Hey, you work up a hunger walking all that way, and even warm hog anus tastes good when it's 20ºF.

    3.) Moleskin salespeople. Welcome to blister hell, folks.

    2.) Cabbies. Duh.

    ..and now the #1 item on the list of people who are benefiting from the Transit Strike:

    1.) The New York Times. It moves their embarrassing "report" of domestic spying story off the front pages. Seems fair, as that story moved the more important Iraqi elections story off the front page.

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    The Patriot Act and the Courage of Convictions

    Late last night, the US Senate voted to extend the current Patirot Act for 6 months. That the minority of Senators who threatened a filibuster could and would permit an extension of any kind, in light of the alleged infringment on civil-liberties, deomonstates that they are not interested in civil-liberties as much as making ink for themselves.

    If the Patriot Act is so bad, or as deeply flawed as the ACLU contends, why didn't theose Senators stand firm and let it expire?

    Perhaps they lack the courage of their convictions.

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    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    President Bush and Wiretapping

    I regret I have been so busy this week, but in regards to the leak concerning the wiretapping without warrants, President Bush committed no crime.

    Now you'll say I am a partisan, so I present exhibit A:

    Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order. Executive Order 12139, EXERCISE OF CERTAIN AUTHORITY RESPECTING ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE, signed 23-May-79, President Jimmy Carter.
    Followed by Exhibit B:

    In the delicate words of a Justice Department official to "places where you wouldn't find or would be unlikely to find information involving a U.S. citizen... would allow the government to use classified electronic surveillance techniques, such as infrared sensors to observe people inside their homes, without a court order." Executive Order 12949, FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE PHYSICAL SEARCHES, signed 9-Feb-95, President William Clinton.

    Since so many on the Left are already calling for Impeachment proceedings against President Bush, allow me to state that: had I learned President Bush had not taken or somehow prevented these wire taps from happening, I would be first in line to call for said Impeachment! These were wiretaps on calls that either were placed from or to know Al Qaida locations, not on someone discussing Christmas presents with their spouse. This is a war, remember? By the authority vested in him by the Constitution, and by Congress, the President did as he was supposed to do.

    Don't, please, don't hand me the Fourth Amendment, unless and until you can rationalize how that Amendment, which deals solely with criminal prosecution, is applicable in foreign surveillance. Until you can achieve that feat, please do not parrot the ignorant rants of so many members of Congress who ought to know better.

    h/t Right Voices

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    Don't mess with the US Marines

    Florida Cracker features a link to a story about two shoplifters who evaded the Shopping Mall Security staff and ended up being stopped by a force much more powerful.

    Link to appropraiately titled: Gnat Encouters Sledgehammers

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    The New York Transit Strike

    Having been born and raised in NYC, I am old enough to have experienced the last transit strike, first hand, 25 years ago. Like then, this is an illegal strike, and it must be ended. Now.

    Now I know there are plenty out there crying that the Union has a right to strike, but they lost that right when a state law was passed saying it was illegal to do so. If you don't like the law, work to change it. And to anyone who applied for a job since that law was passed: you knew what you were getting into.

    Next up, the reasons they're on strike are absurd. Only the low-paying Transit jobs start at a measly $15./hr, with full free benefits -- meaning, none of the health care cost anything out of pocket, at all, nor are there any deductions for health insurance. How many of you readers can make such a claim? Even the Track Workers, who are on the low-end of the pay spectrum, start at that $15/hr and get bumped up to $20 in 36 months. Nice raise.

    Next is retirement. Half-pay after 25 years. Good Lord, if I took a Transit job at 20, I'd be approaching retirement.

    Back to benefits again: The City wants new Union hires to pay a paultry 1% for their healthcare premiums, and 6% for their pensions. This, so says the Union, is a non-starter. Leave a comment if your job asks nothing more than a 1% for health insurance.

    Then are all the other perks: free Metro Cards, 12 paid holidays, vacations, etc. etc. It's a good deal. Hell, it's a deal of all deals, and one that should not be knocked.

    So the City offers 3% raise for each of 3 years. The union wants 10%, each year. A show of hands: how many people out there get 10% raises? Not many, not many.

    Fact: NYC Transit workers get more pay and faster raises than any NYC Cop, Firefighter, or Sanitation worker. Yes, some Transit jobs are dangerous; don't take them. That's pretty easy!

    I want to see these fines imposed, and paid! Too often they get wiped away in those last minute negotiations after strikes. No: I want them paid! By the Union, by the Union heads, anyone who authorized the strike.

    WABC/AM-77 News reported some 1,000 workers have crossed the lines and have reported to work. They also reported striking workers have been assessed penalties of 2 days pay for every day they're on strike. GOOD! They know the law (or should); this strike is illegal. Punnish the law-breakers. Don't make those 1,000 workers the patsies; let them get paid, and dock the lazy ones.

    And to Mayor Bloomberg: recall the die cast by President Ronald Reagan. Give the Union 48 hours to return to work. Then fire any who remain on strike. Let them reapply for their jobs, and the starting salaries.

    Collective Barganing is fine, but when even the International TWU calls for an end to the strike, this Local is out of control. I'd love to see the International step in a disband the Local's leadership.

    How many people are losing their salaries because they can't get to work, or if they do, can't do any work because deliveries are late or non-exisitent? How many small shops - the coffee shops, news stands, etc.- are idle because there isn't any commuter traffic? How many kids and college students are scrambling to get to their classes (albeit a slower, holiday week?). How many tourists are now virtually stranded in Manhattan (I have rented a car in Midtown... it's not easy).

    Give them 48 hours, and then fire those who don't return. And then send their leaders to jail.

    Give the taxpayers a real Christmas present.

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    Tuesday, December 20, 2005

    Old City Bar (repost)

    In an old city bar
    That is never too far
    From the places that gather
    The dreams that have been

    In the safety of night
    With its old neon light
    It beckons to strangers
    And they always come in

    And the snow it was falling
    The neon was calling
    The music was low
    And the night
    Christmas Eve

    And here was the danger
    That even with strangers
    Inside of this night
    It's easier to believe...


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    Monday, December 19, 2005

    AirAmerica Scandal News

    I'll wager you won't hear about it on the MSM, and probably even less on AirAmerica's own airwaves, but the LeatherPenguin links to a NY Post story concerning one of AA's 'sponsors'....

    The former Bronx Boys & Girls Club at the center of a scandal over $875,000 funneled to the liberal radio network Air America is fighting eviction from its longtime home at Co-op City, The Post has learned.

    The community group, known as the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club until its charter was revoked by the youth organization’s national headquarters, was ordered to turn in the keys to a 10,000-square-foot schoolhouse and five meeting rooms.

    That's right... the presumptive bastion of Liberal I mean Progressive Talk Radio has caused the closing of a Boys & Girls Club.

    Strange... while AirAmerica continues to sell bumper stickers for over $16. a piece, nary a word is spoken about raising funds to help the kids in the Bronx.

    Go figure.

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    Sunday, December 18, 2005

    Christmas and the Courts

    So you think the nonsense about the US Courts stepping on Christmas is new?

    Chas. Addams, the famed cartoonist, did a drawing some years ago that was a forgotten favorite of mine.

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    Saturday, December 17, 2005

    Stupid fool

    I've been commuting about 1,000 miles per week for the last 10 years. Some weeks more, some less, but I log about 4,000 miles each month (weekends included). Prior to 10 years ago I averaged an easy 20,000 per year, probably more (I never counted much).

    25 years... only twice did I hit deer, and both times it was unavoidable (it was either hit the deer or I would have wrecked the car); only the latter deer did insurance-claim level of damage.

    Great record: no tickets, no accidents.

    Until today. Jackass, me, rear ended a guy on an off-ramp. The good news: no one was hurt.

    My 92 Blazer hit his 94 Intrepid.... I bent his trunk... the big chrome bumper pushed in his rear easily, without any damage to the Blazer Yes, boys and girls: chrome bumpers on all vehicles - big and small - were a good idea!

    The other guy was justifiably pissed.... at least as much as I was... I know I didn't take any damage, but I was stupid enough to take my eye off the ball long enough to hit him at about 5 MPH. I was rolling to a stop, looked over my shoulder, and when I looked forward....bam!

    I didn't even break his tail lights; I'm not trying to minimize I was the idiot who hit him, but I didn't slam into him; I rear-ended him, and that was all.

    We swapped insurance info; I called my company within 20 minutes... now we wait to see if he'll bother filing on his 12 year old car (which has seen better days). I'm covered, no deductibles, so I have no fear. And since we stood outside of our cars, and he was suitably animated, I doubt I have to fret any whiplash charges (again: I didn't hit him that hard). Who knows... he may bang it out himself.

    I'm just pissed my bragging rights of 25 years are now gone.... stupid idiot...

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    Friday, December 16, 2005

    The Legal Night Before Christmas (repost)

    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 15, 2005

    A Christmas Song (repost)

    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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    Gift Giving

    By far, the vast majority of readers of this humble blog do not know me personally. And those that do, in spite of the years we have known each other, we have not ever exchanged presents at Christmas or Chanukah, so for the purposes of this discussion, you can be included with the greater portion of readers.

    You should all consider yourself lucky: I've been told that I am a horrible person to shop for.

    (I know, I know: ending sentences with a preposition is wrong; I've wrestled with that single sentence for 10 minutes. If you can re-write it properly, by all means please educate me!)
    It is probably my own fault, really. I don't like getting gifts. That sounds a little strange, I suppose, but that's just me. Genearlly speaking, if I need something, I'll go out and buy it myself. People will say "so, tell me what you want not what you need" and I am unable to give them an answer.

    I want a Porsche. I want a TV big enough to warrant an extension on the house. I want a house that a person could get lost in. I want more hours in the day (or less need to sleep).

    See? What I want is so impractical for anyone to give, it makes no sense for me to list, so why bother? And as for anything that I might enjoy, well, I don't have much free time, so again: why bother? ...continued...

    I understand this causes consternation with others, who feel somehow deprived from the act giving me a gift, but this has always been my way of thinking, for at least 25 years now. I understand the satisfaction and enjoyment a person gets when the gift they give to another is opened, etc., and who wouldn't want to experience the joy of giving? So I do my best to make others feel their gift is appreciated.

    That's not to say all I ever get are bad gifts, and that I have to fake it. Far from it; I can't think of any genuinely bad gifts I have ever recieved. But for me, I always think of how I need to fit the gift into my routine in order to show the giver I really like it (which, as I've said, I've historically done). Else I may somehow disappoint the giver.

    See what I mean? The best description of what it is like to give me a gift is 'horrible.'
    HAH! That time I wrote it without a preposition at the end!
    And the rage, in recent years especially, are gift cards. That's just one step above opening your wallet and handing out cash. Now in some instances this makes sense: give a kid $50, and the kid will buy that much of junk food. Give the kid a clothing store gift card, and you'll be fairly certain they'll buy clothes.

    That's not to say I like gift cards (I don't), but many people do. My much-better-half asked me for one some years ago (OK, it was a store gift certificate). I still can't comprehend that... just buy what you want, and cut out the middle-man of the gift-cert/card.

    Last month, my much-better-half announced that she was buying a laptop for the house, and that we'd share that as our Christmas present. Of course, I am shopping for her as well, in spite of what she said, because I know her well enough to know she's doing the same for me (which makes her initial statement silly, but...). She doesn't read this blog (not much, at least), but Murphy's Law being what it is, I can guarantee she will if I list what she's getting from her wish list.

    The one thing I am forbidden to buy is jewelry. I've bought it in the past, and in spite of my own ineptness I seem to have selected quite well (from what she and others have said). She says she has enough, and of late we're not getting out as we used to, so much of it sits in her jewelry box.

    Still, I can't help but remark about the ZALES TV ad that's been playing nationally. The one that speaks of diamond studs, from $99 to $5999. Is it me, or is that price range simply too large to mention in the same breath?? In what other advert have you seen such a stretch in pricing?

    The primary focus of gift-giving energies will go to the kids, of course. Bothers and Sisters (without kids) will get suitable gifts for their homes; if they have kids, then the nieces and nephews will be gifted.
    Side note: why are 'nieces' and 'nephews' gender specific, but 'cousins' isn't?
    Another issue I have with gifts is when they're expected to be given to people who are outside of your realm of personal space. I don't mean tips to people who serve you in some manner (but, of course, only if they're earned). I mean for consider this ad:

    Am I to assume I am expected to give a gift to a near-stranger? Nearly all the people I work with in my office I've known for 13 months; does this qualify as 'barely known', and if so, am I obliged to get them a gift? I don't expect any of them to be exchanging gifts with anyone else, I should buck this belief and start gifting them? Logically, if I barely know you, neither of us should expect anything from the other, outside of a hearty Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays (if you prefer).

    Or maybe it is just me...

    Oh well... the latest winter storm, complete with ice, is moving in to my region as I type. Perfect time for me to close up and head to.... the mall! Heh, who would be crazy enough to shop now, other than me??

    I'm off to a Christmas play with my son Friday, one of the montly school trips that are planned. It starts in the afternoon, so the storm ought not affect it.

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    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    Parental Rights abused. Again

    Matt Margolis of GOP Bloggers reports about Planned Parenthood concealing the rape of a minor, and then posting the story behind it in on their 'Shared Stories' webpage (cache of the page, just in case).

    This kind of charge has been leveled against PP for years - and always denied - but now it is obviously worthy of being presented on their own website. I don't think all of PP should be criticized, because I know several people who have used their various services over the years. But when an organization can usurp the rights of parents (and the law, for that matter!), there is something horribly wrong.

    Furthermore: the letter on the PP site states the 11 year old was of the frame of mind to decide her parents involvement wasn't the right thing for her -- this obviously after her failed judgement led her to date a 17 year old. Tell me: did PP ever consider how many other girls this thug raped after they let him skate? I wonder if that consideration was ever presented to the 11 year old...

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    Curses! Tagged again

    TrekMedic hit me, so I suppose I should play along:

    I need to Name 5 Weird Habits, and then tag 5 people after I'm done.

    1. I live on 5 or less hours of sleep per night (and wish I could do with less)
    2. I never drive home from work following the exact same route, two days in a row.
    3. My signature has become so scrawled, it is never the same twice.
    4. I switch stations on my commute home frequently, to the point that I rarely hear commercials.... and I listen to talk radio.
    5. I blog at all hours. Like now, for example.
    6. and the weirdest habit I have is... oh, wait: the tag only called for 5. Oh well: will have to save that one.

      Now I'll solicit volunteers to be tagged... go on, you know you want to do it.

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    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    It figures

    I've taken Tae Kwon Do now for over 2-1/2 years, consistently: month after month. So do I ever get a flat tire in June or July? Hell no! But I got one tonight! 15 degrees and that's not counting the wind chill.

    By the time I jacked it up, removed the flat (right rear), and mounted the spare, the Master Instructor came out of the building. My 10 year old was with me, and since he was in the front seat, with the heater on playing a newly downloaded game on my cell phone, I never bothered the Master while he showered and did his paper work. He offered to drive my boy home, as I knew he would, but since I was in the home-stretch I passed on the offer. I could have called AAA, too, but why bother?? I was done in less time they usually take to show up.

    Even with work gloves, my hands are still raw. Nah, I couldn't have had a flat in May, either.

    Of course, Friday we're getting snow and ice, so it could have been worse....

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    24 prequel

    If you're like me, and haven't yet rented Season 4 of 24, you may not be aware there's 10 minute prequel of Season 5 on it.

    Courtesy of

    You can see the '24' season five prequel to download as a 15mb .wmv file

    Can't. Wait. For. Jan. 15!!

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    Light Show

    I was sent this WMV file two weeks ago from a buddy.

    I was hoping to locate some useable webspace to host it, and then I found a link to it on TBS. In the original e-mail I recieved, the message (which he had forwarded) told a story that the home owner had a local FM signal that would enable visitors to listen to the choreographed music (included in the WMV file, above) that completed the vision.

    I wondered what it must be to live opposite this display... no matter how nice, those lights are quite bright. And annoying. Probably as bad as Kathleen's neighbor.

    UPDATE: To be filed under 'How low can you go?', Michelle Malkin links to a horrible display. I am the first to say the fool who did that display has the right, but he/she also a responsibility to the neighborhood.

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    Monday, December 12, 2005


    I must be getting old. I am becoming more & more annoyed easier than I used to be.

    Case in point: I am in a high-level meeting presently and the colleague on my right is repeatedly spinning his pen in his hand.

    It's not the spinning that bugs me-- it's his complete inability to actually complete a spin without the pen falling on meeting table.

    Waiting for an opportunity to move... else I may seize his pen...

    UPDATE: Said pen landed on my pad in front of me. In one move I grabbed it with my right hand, snapped it in two and placed it on his pad, never taking my eyes off the meeting presenter. Two people on either side of us stiffled a laugh, but no one else took notice of my action, or his.

    He wasn't taking notes anyway.

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    All About (Christmas) Eve (repost)

    Being of Italian descent, this story struck a chord with me when it was first sent to me by a colleague 13 years ago. Long before there were blogs, I used to rekey and forward this to friends and family. Once I was contacted by the author, who actually thanked me that I didn't try to take credit for his efforts! As if anything I've written could be as good as this.

    Continuing in the fashion I started a dozen years ago, I repost a link to this gem...

    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?

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    Friday, December 09, 2005

    Tookie Williams

    It's 4 days until the state of California is to carry out the death sentence on Tookie Williams, unless Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decides to grant clemency to him.

    For starters, let's be clear: the discussion is for clemency, not for a pardon, as Rev. Jesse Jackson, et al may have you think. No one is serioulsy considering letting this man go free, nor should they.

    Court after court have declined to overturn his convictions. He's been on death row over 22 years now, so there's little doubt he has had due process.

    People say to read one of Tookie's books is reason enough to grant him clemency. To them I have just this to say: I can name 4 people who are unable to read his books. The same four he was convicted of murdering.

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    Still doesn't get it

    On my way in this morning I had the opportunity of listening to IMUS IN THE MORNING and his interview with John F. Kerry, the Junior Senator from Massachusetts, 2004 Democratic Candidate for president, and Viet Nam veteran.

    In case you missed it, let me sum it up for you: President Bush misled the country into war.

    See, not everyone heard that interview, so I wanted to give you the essence of it. Of course, if you had a pulse and were an adult (or nearly an adult) in 2004, you would have heard that exact line during Sen. Kerry's campaign for president.

    That Sen. Kerry has be unable to deliver any substantial new message in 13 months shows how little he brings to the table rhetoric concerning political discussions. He's still trying to campaign on what, ostensibly, was and remains a failed strategy. The American people rejected the charges that the President misled the nation, since they re-elected President Bush by a clear majority.

    Yet Sen. Kerry, and others like him, still beat this worn out drum, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. One wonders if they'll do it again in 2008.

    And to think: Sen. Kerry had a legitimate opportunity to be President in 2004.

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    I hate bad drivers

    So this morning I slept in... 4:30. Got up and saw the snow... not too bad, I figured about 6 inches or so.

    So I took my time, shoveled out where the end of the driveway where the plow pushed in it's load. Cleared path for my much-better-half, and I was in my Blazer by 6:00, a full hour later than usual. By now it was up to at least 7 or more inches.

    Once I got off the back roads, the State Route and Interstate were snow covered but certainly passable.

    Idiot drivers, who probably ought not to be out in the snow (and perhaps, ought not to have a license at all) drove me nuts. Particularly on the southbound State Route (divided highway, two lanes each direction), wherein I came across no less than 3 instances of two cars driving side-by-side at less than 20 MPH.

    Look, I know not everyone likes the snow, and I know some people like to drive slow. GET IN A SINGLE FILE and make way for the rest of us!

    And the nerve of some of them! After I patiently waited for one of them to move -- by patient, I mean I drove 2-3 car lengths behind them, did not honk, did not flash high-beams... but I grumbled ... a lot! .... tho I doubt they could hear me even with my window open -- two of them either flashed their high-beams at me or waved angrily at me as I passed. Here I was the one who had a reason to be mad, and they were giving it to me.

    Those 6 fools, alone, added about 30 minutes to my commute....

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    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    24 teasers

    I've mourned the passing of great TV shows, but one that has represented the gold-standard of 'must see TV' will be back January 15... 24.

    I never spend much time on the hundreds of fan sites out there, and if I posted to their boards I'd never update this blog. But I did spend about an hour last night and found three teasers to the new season.

    Lest there be any doubt, Jack is indeed back.

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    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    By the way...

    ... last month the headlines were all about President Bush's declining poll numbers.

    So why hasn't there been any attention paid to the consistent rise in his numbers over the last several weeks?

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    Dr. Dean is at it again

    This Blog has chronicled the antics of DNC Chairman Dr. Howard Dean, former Presidential candidate and retired Vermont Governor. Some of his more grandiose comments can be found here, here, and here

    Now we learn Dr. Dean professes the US won’t win Iraq (hear audio, see Op-Ed, and reaction). If this is not snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, I don’t know what is.

    Fact: things are better than the media reports. I spent 3 days with Active Duty personnel in the Air Force who have served in the theater (Iraq and UAE). Things are going well, surprisingly so for a war. The road is still long, but to falsely suggest we're losing is certainly not making it any shorter!

    Fact: Progress is being made. Long before the recent calls for troop reduction the President outlined plans to reduce troop strength after the December elections. Our own nation didn’t move as fast to a proper democracy in our infancy, and we didn’t have foreign insurgents blowing up our citizens!

    Meanwhile, the Democratic Party’s recent standard-bearer, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry (who served in Viet Nam, by the way), compared our soldiers to terrorists on Sunday’s FACE THE NATION. (Senator Durbin must have counseled him.)

    Is it a wonder the Democratic Party can’t get an agenda together? They are setting themselves up for victory only at the expense of America. No one says they can’t campaign to win an election, but to do so with an ‘Beat the Republicans at any cost’ is what is fueling this hateful rhetoric, and it will be rejected at the ballot boxes again.

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    Welcome, friends of Sen. Rick Santorum

    I am flattered to learn Sen. Rick Santorum's Blog links to my humble own. I welcome visitors from there, and I encourage residents of the Commonwealth to return the favor.

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    Monday, December 05, 2005

    Conspiracy Charge dropped against Tom DeLay

    After having read how vague the indictment was written, who could be surprised?

    Charlie On The Pennsylvania Turnpike

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    IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS? (reposted)

    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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    Regifting, reposting

    Christmas time is upon us, as well as Hanukkah, when gifts will be exchanged between family and friends. Which leads me to wonder about that term made so famous on Seinfeld, regifting:

    Here's the script snippet where regift was used in that Seinfeld episode (regifter was used earlier in the show; note, as well, yet another neologism: degift):

    George: The wedding is off. Now you can go to the Super Bowl.
    Jerry: I can't call Tim Whatley and ask for the tickets back.
    George: You just gave them to him two days ago, he's gotta give you a grace period.
    Jerry: Are you even vaguely familiar with the concept of giving? There's no grace period.
    George: Well, didn't he regift the label maker?
    Jerry: Possibly.
    George: Well, if he can regift, why can't you degift?
    Jerry: You may have a point.
    George: I have a point, I have a point.

    excerpt from Word Spy

    So it begs the questions:
    • has anyone ever regifted you?
    • have you ever regifted someone?
    • have you ever been involved in a degift?

    Since regifting isn't considered horrible (to some, at least) I trust reposting isn't either. About a week ago I reposted a Holiday Recipe, and in the next few weeks I'll repost some of the Christmas and Holiday posts of Season's Passed. I recognize that some of my readers have been around for a long time, while others are fairly new, so I trust they'll bring a smile to you.

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    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Passengers traveling with small women and children may now board...

    United Airlines would like to announce the boarding of flight xxx, with service to Oklahoma City, now boarding at gate F2. Passengers traveling with small women and children may now board...
    That is a direct quote from a Gate Clerk here in Chicago Int'l Airport. Were it not for no less than 4 other weary people looking up at the same time, and each saying 'small women?' out loud, I'd doubt I actually heard it the way I related it.

    I'd really like to see the guy challenge ANY woman and tell her she isn't small enough.

    Instead of flying out of Sacramento, California at 8:30 this morning -- and with the layover not getting home before 7PM -- I opted to fly out at 11:10 last night. We arrived at Chicago at 4:55 AM (CT), and I've been napping here since, waiting for my flight to be called at 9:00. Sure, red-eyes suck, but at least I am home before 1:00 PM.

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    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    Why we went to war

    MarkLevinFan provides a sound clip that Mark Simone produced for his radio show. It's well worth listening for anyone, especially any who voted for another candidate other than George W. Bush.

    Ain't it a bitch when words come back to haunt people?

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    So the years are rolling by...

    NOTE: I'm on a roll here this evening, so this is quite long. ..

    So I started my business trip. Back in the day (about 10 years ago), I used to travel 80% of the time, so I was no stranger to ‘carry-on’ luggage. Today I decided that with what I’ve read about airlines getting so particular about carry-ons, I decided to check my bag. I’m on the road for 4 days, so it was a large enough soft-sided bag that checking it probably made the most sense.

    Or so I thought.

    I connected through Chicago on my way to Sacramento, California. My departure was delayed for about 20 minutes due to weather. We sat on the tarmac after landing in Chicago for 45 minutes. Not at the gate, but on the taxiway. I had 70 minutes between flights.

    So as I finally got to gate F12, I had to navigate my way to E2, which had a shuttle bus that would take me to Concourse C. “Could they have picked a more remote gate combination?” I asked myself.

    Fool… I ought to know better than to ask such a question. Read More...

    The bus stopped and I alighted, ran up the stairs. Gate C…1. Off I go, running hard…. Which after having been in row 30 of the puddle-jumper for 2 hours, that’s not exactly easy.

    Chicago airport, like many major hubs, offers moving sidewalks down the center of the main halls. Each conveyor belt runs the length of a few gates… sort of an express lane. Common sense, coupled with signs posted at the beginning and overhead, tell people to stand on the right, walk on the left. Naturally, I encountered more than few people who insisted on standing on the left, and some couples and threeples who insisted on standing on both sides. What is it with some people?

    I got to gate C17… after they closed the inside door. The crew hadn’t secured the cabin door, so I hadn’t been completely late. In fact, they delayed that flight for about 15 minutes, because they had to load more luggage… mine, for instance.

    We landed at 5:15 PT. Come 5:50… and my bag never made it to the carrousel. And for whatever reason, the lyrics of Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage ran through my head. A critical commentary on modern music, it just seemed to fit while I stood alone waiting for my bag.

    So the years are rolling by
    Snotty boys with lipstick on
    Were really flying high
    And then they got that Disco thing
    And New Wave came along
    And all of a sudden I thought the time
    Had come for that old song
    We used to play in Joe’s garage
    And if I am not wrong
    You could soon be dancing to
    Checking in with the United desk, it seems my poor bag never made it to my connecting flight, but would be on the next one, arriving in just under 2 hours.

    The clerk asked where I was staying; she then advised they could deliver my bag to my hotel by 10:30 tomorrow. I told her that would be too late, so I would wait, and then I said that since this clearly was not my fault, how about a dinner voucher?

    As I knew, the airlines are no longer offering comps to people, all due to their tightening budgets. But I knew sending a car to my hotel and back with my bag would cost a lot more than dinner. In a few moments, I had a $10 voucher. So off I went to Chili’s Too, for an oversized bacon Bleu Cheese burger, fries and a tall Sam Adams. It pays to be nice, but also to stick to your guns when you are in the right.

    But before my bag was known to me as being missing, and somewhere over Reno, my laptop battery gave out. So I whipped out my Pocket PC, a recent acquisition from the job. I had quickly added AvantGo to it on Monday. It’s a great portal for such devices; I was able to load my itinerary and a bunch of my Daily Read RSS feeds. I don’t have one that has built-in wireless, nor a NIC yet, so it only gets updated when it’s in its cradle.

    I read a lot of blogs, on a variety of topics. I have never been much of a novel reader, by any stretch. I generally tire and never go back to them. In my school days, I had not the patience to even read through entire Cliff Notes. With my Pocket PC I loaded a bunch of classics in MS Reader format (Dracula, for example), hoping I can take the initiative when I have idle time on my hands.

    With my laptop dark (and a sappy movie playing… Perfect Man, starring Hillary Duff and Heather Locklear), I started to catch up on my some of my blog reading. It was then I had the good fortune to read an excerpt from Kathleen’s effort in the National Novel Writing Contest. 50,000 words in a month, and she did it.

    In the brief sample she gave us, it is clear to this reader that the gal has talent. The way she captured the intensity of the moment truly puts the reader in the scene. And if this is an example of her work, I doubt I would nod off while reading it. Coming from me, that's as good a 5 stars.

    See if you agree, and drop her a note regarding your thoughts. Who knows? She may treat us to more of her work before too long.

    Well, I rose this morning at about 5:30 ET. It’s now about 21 hours later, PT…. Time for me to get a few hours before the work day begins.

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    Monday, November 28, 2005

    Science and Lemon Puffs

    Yesterday was Science Experiment day in my house. Our 10 year old had a science experiment to do for school, and I usually get a lesson or three to work with him on the weekends. Now there are those who would complain that we did ‘school’ on a weekend, or worse yet a holiday weekend, but that’s the nature of a Virtual Charter School; he gets ‘off’ from school work on other days to suit his schedule (and mom’s). Plus, in our local school district, there are no classes today at all… it is the beginning of deer season, so that’s a good apparently a reason as any for them to give everyone a 5 day weekend.

    The experiment dealt with predicting the results of mixing different solutes with different solvents. So we lined the bathroom sink with 12, 7 oz plastic cups, gathered the necessary ingredients and got busy.

    Included in the solvents list were:

    • Soap Water
    • Cooking Oil
    • Alcohol (don’t worry, it was the rubbing variety!)
    • Vinegar

    In the solutes list were the following:

    • Sugar
    • Salt
    • Baking soda

    Now in some homes, all of these items would be easy to locate. We had problems finding, of all things, sugar. I don’t use it in coffee. My much-better-half hasn’t started her holiday cooking yet, and she uses Splenda for her coffee. I was about to run to the local WaWa for a cup of coffee (and lots of sugar packs) when a 5 lb bag was found in the pantry. Who’d ever guess something so basic would be in question?

    Naturally, there was sufficient evidence of the solutes either dissolving or not in the various solutions. And I was please to see the instructions had my son mixing the baking soda with the vinegar last, causing the much enjoyed fizzle to round off the experiment.

    This reminded me of this holiday post made last year. As we are officially on the road to Christmas, I thought I’d link to it here.

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    Saturday, November 26, 2005

    Much ado about M&Ms

    Anyone who even mildly saw the news this week knows something about the accident at the MACY*S Thanksgiving Parade involving the M&M Balloon. While this blog is genuinely pleased no one was severely injured, and while I feel certain the family of the two girls will be getting a boat-load of MACY*S gift cards -- especially since they've publicly stated their disinclination to sue anyone -- a few things on my mind bear mentioning.

    OK, we all know about the accident in 1997 when a woman was put into a coma by The Cat in the Hat, and since then wind speeds have been monitored before the parade. Fine. But since Thursday, there has been more calls to review the height of these balloons. Why? Before 1997, they flew some 30' in the air, now they're much closer to the ground. My almost-3-year-old could barely see Super Grover's face, because the huge inflatable was almost nose-down into the street. If the balloons are flying HIGHER, and a gust of wind does hit them, wouldn't the height add more of buffer between them and the street lamps?

    NBC took a hit because Katie, Matt and Al failed to report on the accident, and instead went to tape of LAST years parade for the M&M balloon. Why does this surprise anyone? EVERYONE knows those three aren't news-reporters, but rather entertainment reporters.

    Well, perhaps everyone knows that... except them. How can you interview a head of state one segment and then show me how 'asparagus can be fun' in the next and call yourselves serious news reporters?

    ANSWER: You can't. Overall, I am glad they didn't interrupt my children's view of the parade for the accident, as sad as it was. Why spoil it for all the kids in the country, just because the accident happened.

    Besides, M&M is a big advertiser on NBC. Now if it had been BOB THE BUILDER, a property of CBS/VIACOM, you just known they would have cut away to show the injuries...

    UPDATE: Adding insult to injuries, according to NY Daily News, no one at NBC took the time to inform either Ms. Couric or Mr. Laurer of the incident right away (emphasis added by me):

    Couric didn't learn about the accident until she was off the air, and Lauer apparently found out when he got home.

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    Friday, November 25, 2005

    On giving Thanks

    What a week.  

    This was the post promised earlier in the week listing the things for which I was thankful this time of year.   I got so busy, as is becoming common, that I never got a chance to post it.

    I am, of course, thankful to be so busy at work.  Over the summer I was given added responsibility, which means added work, but also means a suitable bump in pay.  While the extra work means I often have less Blog time, the benefit outweigh that annoyance, and are certainly worth being grateful.

    Some readers will know I am grateful that no one in the fam is seriously ill or otherwise hospitalized.  In the past, that wasn’t the case but we’ve dodged any such bullet for almost 3 years now, and that’s worth being thankful.

    We’re all in relative peace.  Many readers know immediate or extended family members who are in the Service.  My nephew is in the Air Force Academy, and while not in any direct harms way, will eventually be eligible.  I know many people from my employment who are a Reservist, National Guard, and a few Active Duty in the various Services.  Without their dedication and sacrifices, along with countless others now and in the past, none of the luxuries of freedom we all enjoy would be possible.  Take this blog, for example.

    Next week, this humble correspondent will be on the road.  Heading westward, I’ll detail the destination at a later date, but I’m bound to have time on my hands I wouldn’t otherwise have being the normal, family man I am all other weeknights.

    This trip was tentatively planned over the summer before the ‘customer’ needlessly delayed the schedule.  In the meantime, my team conducted over 2 dozen similar upgrades, all remotely, and all without any major issue.   I personally conducted 6 of them, so it was a little surprising the ‘customer’ insisted on someone coming out to their site to perform the process in person.  But hey, if they want to pay my per diem, I’ll pack my bags.

    I enjoy the occasional business trip.  In years past, I used to travel up to 80% of the time, so I got used to and enjoyed the perks.  My last trip was back in January, so it’s good time to go again… and this will practically ensure I won’t have to travel again before Spring.

    Look at that!  Something else to be thankful!

    Of course, no list would be complete without acknowledging my much-better-half, who still puts up with me for reasons I still can fathom.  And who could forget the two boys we have.

    Several people who put up with me as friends bear mentioning, some of whom read this blog,  

    And of course, I am thankful for those of you who keep coming back to this  blog and logging a count.  TrueFresco will soon remove their free referrer log service (found on the bottom right of this page, so repeat visitors may not be so vividly seen, unless I decide to pony up their annual fee (We’ll have to wait and see how cheap I really am).  However, without you readers, this would be nothing more than the musings I speak aloud in my car on my commute, and that’s what makes this special.  And again, that’s something for which I am grateful.

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    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Any questions?

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    Monday, November 21, 2005

    "What Media Bias," you ask?

    You think it's the FOX NEWS CHANNEL that has the media bias, eh?

    You think all other media is straight, but not Fox (or as the Left like to mispronounce it, Faux).

    Image hosted by

    From The DrudgeReport:



    At 11:04:45 AM ET Monday CNN was airing Vice President Dick Cheney's speech live from the American Enterprise Institute in Washington -- when a large black 'X' repeatedly flashed over the vice president's face!

    The 'X' over Cheney's face appeared each time less than a second, creating an odd subliminal effect.

    As this DRUDGE REPORT screen capture reveals, while one 'X' flashed over Cheney's face CNN ran a headline at the bottom of its screen: "CHENEY: I DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS WRONG TO CRITICIZE."

    One top White House source expressed concern about what was aired over CNN.

    "Is someone in Atlanta trying to tell us something?"

    A CNN spokesman did not return repeated calls late Monday night.
    I personally believe there's additional text or other graphics that obscure the routine caption at the bottom of the screen; working from this still alone I can't say what it is, but the text in the background is distorted.

    Tell me again there isn't any bias in the mainstream media.

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    On giving thanks

    This, then, is Thanksgiving Week... and in the last 24 hours I've read a few different pieces on the pros and cons of the origins of the holiday. I may get around making my own comments about that topic this week, but in the meantime, I am opening the thread:

    What are you thankful for this time of year?

    Failing an answer, why not?

    I'll make my posting by end of week... and I look forward to reading your responses!

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    Friday, November 18, 2005

    Gut kick

    An old friend told me today that her parents, married 47 years, are getting a divorce.

    How the hell does that work? They're both good, decent people -- no accusations of abuse or drugs or the like.

    How do you go 47 years and say You know what? I want out!

    Doesn't make sense.

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    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    I couldn't sleep at all last night

    Oh joy... was up most of the night with a nagging sore throat... in spite of making my last post after 4AM, I decided to work from home today.  I feel OK, just my throat is the problem.
    Ah well... who can deny a gift from your family, even if its a sore throat??

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    Why did we go to war?

    People ask why we went to war. Ask any of the majority in Congress why: the reasons are spelled out clearly, and can be found at MarkLevinFan, who excerpts a piece by Mark Levin from National Review Online. An excerpt of the resolution (emphasis of key passages by this humble poster):

    Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq’s war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

    Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

    Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

    Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;

    Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

    Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;

    Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to `work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge’ posed by Iraq and to `work for the necessary resolutions,’ while also making clear that `the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable’;

    Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

    (a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to —

    (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

    (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

    (b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION- In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that —

    (1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq;

    MarkLevinFan has more of the resolution, but the majority of both houses (296-133 in the House; 77-23 in the Senate) clearly saw the threat.

    Any questions?

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    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Did President Bush Lie?

    Add to that what I linked to in a previous post from last year.

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    Let's agree on something, once and for all.

    Age 18 is the age of majority. You can vote at 18. You can enter in contracts at 18. You can get married in any state in the union.


    OK? So cease and desist calling David Ludwig a 'teen':

    Yes, yes, I know the word eighteen has the word 'teen' in it, but in this case it is misapplied. If you're talking demographics, about what music videos are being watched by high school seniors and college freshman, use the word 'teen'.

    If you're talking about an accused killer, stop calling him a 'teen' or a 'kid'. It is inappropriate.

    Now if you're talking about Kara Beth Borden, the 14 year old girl in this Romeo and Juliet story gone awry, she is a kid. Unless and until it can be demonstrated she had more to do with the murders than being a lovesick teen, she is merely a victim.

    It's a damn shame her parents didn't reel her in sooner. However (watch, readers, as this blog steps onto the thinnest of thin ice), at least one of the photos of young Kara that the media produced looked pretty glam for a 14 year old, if you ask me (and remember: Nobody did ask me, but...).
    .... Continued...

    I recall seeing other photos of her Sunday night and into Monday... this isn't as bad as the ones I saw, and if I find them I'll post them here. While cold-blooded murder is never justified, and while I believe the parents did what was appropriate concerning putting a halt their teenager's relationship with an adult, one should not permit a child to act like an adult and then be surprised if an adult takes an interest in said child.

    Of course, I have it easier: my much-better-half and I have two boys...

    As for Kara's fate, I do sincerely hope the thug Ludwig took her away at gunpoint. But if she had anything to do with her parents' murder, she should go to jail.

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    On Agendas and Rhetoric

    Sean at Everything I Know Is Wrong captured my sentiments exactly when he posted about Dr. Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, gave deciedly vauge answers to what the DNC says their party stands for.

    I howled so much at Dr. Dean's dance, I had to watch the re-run of Meet The Press Sunday night.

    MR. RUSSERT: But is it enough for you to say to the country, "Trust us, the other guy's no good. We'll do better, but we're not going to tell you specifically how we're going to deal with Iraq."
    DR. DEAN: We will. When the time comes, we will do that.
    MR. RUSSERT: When's the time going to come?
    DR. DEAN: The time is fast-approaching. And I outlined the broad outlines of our agenda. We're going to have specific plans in all of these areas.
    MR. RUSSERT: This year?
    DR. DEAN: In 2006.
    As I have said before, the Democrats have got to offer the people something more than 'George Bush and the Republicans are no good', and to date they haven't offered the voters even a crumb of an agenda. Continued...

    There's talk in some circles (in The Nation and The New Yorker) that the DNC is drafting their own Contract with America. This strikes me as funny, considering the amount of flack Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress took when the Democrats labeled their agenda a 'Contract ON America.' In spite of the attacks, not a single item passed by the Congress was vetoed by then President Clinton; so much for the DNC rhetoric.

    If the DNC fashions their own Contract, it will have to have broad-based items, like Gingrich's, that appeal to all voters (as it did in 1994). To date, the DNC seems ill-prepared to go braod-based, rather they prefer to focus on their extreme left-wing causes. If Dr. Dean can do away with his rhetoric to date, the Republican's will face a potent opponent in 2006.

    The Republican Party isn't beat, however. Not yet, at least. If they return to the agenda of gingrich, to the philosphies of President Reagan, they will continue their majorities all around. They need to focus on national security, and in particular, securing the borders. They need to stop talking about amnesty for illegals and put forth a comprehensive plan to deport illegal aliens sooner, rather than later. They need to stop their pork-barrell spending projects and pour the monies into the INS, the Coast Guard, and Court systems. President Bush should veto any further spending bills that are pork laiden, and instead take a stand on spending for the Congress to follow.

    The Republicans have to remind the voters their party is the one that has never cast a doubt to the integrity of the military or their conduct (Sen. Durbin, your order of crow is up). They need to remind the voters that WMDs were a legitimate threat known to all (some notable quotes here), and were not something concocted by President Bush.

    The 2006 elections are less than a year away. A lot can and will happen. And unless the Republicans lay down and roll over, they can continue their power.

    But that doesn't mean the Democrats do not have a chance!

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