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
THE WHITE ZONE IS FOR LOADING AND UNLOADING ONLY
IF YOU GOTTA LOAD OR UNLOAD, GO TO THE WHITE ZONE….
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 Photobucket.com


From The DrudgeReport:

CNN MARKS CHENEY: NETWORK FLASHES 'X' OVER VP'S FACE DURING LIVE SPEECH

**Exclusive**

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;
Read More...


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;

...
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(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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STOP CALLING HIM A KID!

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.

YOU'RE AN ADULT AT 18.

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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San Francisco and Military Recruitment

Reality Hammer engaged his readers in a debate on the last week’s ballot issue in San Francisco that states colleges are permitted to ban military recruiters from its campuses. Bill O’Reilly generated a lot of heat on this issue, merely because he used his radio show in a satirical manner that enraged some liberals (hear the complete piece here).

This harkens back to the days of spitting on the military vets coming home from Viet Nam, in that the military is somehow evil and doesn’t deserve to step foot on any college campus.

Nothing can be further from the truth.
Read More...
If, for a moment, it could be assumed the military’s role in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world is somehow wrong or evil, that’s not the military’s fault, but rather the fault of the President and of Congress. Denying access to the military merely gives that many students LESS opportunity to learn of the very good things the military can provide.

Is there danger in the military? Sure there is; no one doubts that. But to deny them access to prime candidates for a career is wrong for both the military and the students. And in this case, in particular, what's wrong for the military can be very wrong for the nation.

And if that’s what the voters want, they should have it. But at the same time, the Federal Government is under no obligation to provide those same schools (or students) with any FEDERAL MONEY.

Case in point is Hillsdale College in Michigan has categorically refused any federal funding, in that they can provide a curriculum that is not based or controlled by the government. Students who attend cannot use any federally funded financial aid, and as such they can provide their non-liberal Liberal Arts degree (with some impressive results).

(Hillsdale also publishes the IMPRIMIS speech digest, a must read in the household of this humble-blog).

So as Hillsdale refuses government aid, and are not bound by government rules, so should San Francisco colleges who deny the military recruiters not be bound by federal funding.

It’s only fair.

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Gripes

Time for some griping:

  1. What's the purpose in having the office cleaning crew arrive at said work area before noon? I came into the office an hour ago the scents of many different lunches from yesterday?
  2. Why can't people yet comprehend that toll lanes that are marked EZ-PASS ONLY are not kidding? In NYC this is ever a problem, exacerbated by the need of the Port Authority of NY&NJ's decision to put up cones ahead of the toll booth. These cones run some 5 or 6 car-length and form 'cattle chutes' that lock unsuspecting drivers into a lane that often has some yahoo at the gate wondering why there's no one in the booth to take their money. So while this idiot is honking, and then yelling at the highly-paid professional in the red and white vest coming to their aid, about a half-dozen or so of us are left stuck in these cone-surrounded lanes.

    That didn't happen to me today, but it did happen to me about 2 weeks ago. This morning I merely had one car in front of me without an EZ-Pass, but I failed to leave enough room to pull out of the lane, so somewhere in cosmic vapors of space and time, it's probably my fault.
  3. Blogger for Word, the nifty add-on to MS Word, suddenly has disappeared from toolbar. I've unloaded and reloaded it (3x), but still can't activate the tool.
  4. I am so busy with work I barely have time to keep up with what I term 'essential reading' (namely, most of the blogs located in BlogRoll, plus a dozen or so others). Naturally, if I have so little time to read, my writing time is even shorter. The upside? I don't mind the work that I am doing otherwise.
  5. Lame Come-Ons never seem to cease. Take this one for example:

    Hey 'Sexy pants'?? Makes the tales of my former dating years seem exotic.
  6. If you are viewing this in IE, please note that I did use OL and LI tags in order to produce a numbered list. Opera shows them, but something is interfering with IE's rendering of them. This is an old gripe, but one worth mentioning. (If you are not seeing numbers, please leave a comment with your browser version).

I have no less than three posts regarding current and recent news events... will get to them (hopefully) while they are still relevant...

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Monday, November 14, 2005

It's coming down

Just now in So.Jersey I paid $1.96.9 for a gallon of regular unleaded.
 
Still too high, but it's coming down...
 
just imagine how much cheaper it would be if we lowered the federal taxes on gas!

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Still crazy...

What does one do if one cannot find sleep, even when it seems to be so rare other times?

You surf the XM Radio channels at AOL Music. And even with the vast selection, only one song struck a chord with me this morning...




...I'm not the kind of man
Who tends to socialize
I seem to lean on
Old familiar ways
And I ain't no fool for love songs
That whisper in my ears
Still crazy after all these years
Oh, still crazy after all these years
...Now I sit by my window
And I watch the cars go by
I fear I'll do some damage
One fine day
But I would not be convicted
By a jury of my peers
Still crazy after all these years
Oh, still crazy...
Still crazy...
Still crazy after all these years



For what its worth: I actually grew up near the school-yard where he and Julio hung out. I was never fortunate enough to meet either of them.. or Rosie, for that matter.


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Thursday, November 10, 2005

What they don't teach in schools today

Thursday night is Cub Scout night... our weekly meeting.

In the past I've related my experience as a Cub Scout Leader, now with
a group of 10 Webelos, including my son. Tonight, another
installment... But first, a quiz

Q: What national holiday is tomorrow???

A: I don't know... there's a holiday tomorrow?

That was the answer I received from 8 of the 10 boys, ages 9-10 years
old. Of the two that got it right, one has a sister who is a Marine,
so he knows well about the works of Veterans and those presently
serving.

The other boy, my son, learned the importance of Veteran's Day years
ago, and had it reinforced each year.

In fact, 4 of the 10 boys have been in our Patrol anywhere from 1 to 3
years.... they all remembered when I told them the answer, with one
going so far to say he remembered when I spoke about it last year.

And my son? He had an additional lesson in his school this week...
unlike his peers in Cub Scouts, his school covers Veterans Day and all
major holidays.

Unlike his peers, his is a Virtual Charter School, with my
much-better-half at the helm.

After learning for certain one thing they don't evidentally teach in
schools today, the question that begs to be asked: what exactly do
they teach??

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Veterans Day

This is a reprint, edited mildly, from the post I made last year. I am woefully short on time, and rather than not marking the day, I am resorting to a repost.



On the occasion of Veterans Day, I wanted to take a moment to thank those who have served.

I've never served in the military, but I've worked for Defense Contractors for the last +9 years; not sure if that fits the definition of irony or not. However, I don't feel particularly guilty about that; anyone who knows me in person can probably guess I may have very likely been passed over for induction. This much I have told to a number of veterans with whom I worked with in the Defense Contracting area, and no one has disagreed with me.

Regardless, had I been drafted (assuming, of course, there was a active draft provision, I was old enough, etc.) I would have likely burst out laughing the first time I was told to 'drop and give me 20', knowing well that would probably be the last time I ever laughed in uniform. In the end, I would have made a good ol' fashioned 'dog faced' grunt, I would have done my duty and that would be it; I have no delusions of grandeur that I could be officer material.

Those same colleagues who know me, when they heard me say this, chuckled appreciatively and agreed.

In college, I saw students in ROTC, and while others found it easy to joke about, insult, or in other ways disrespect them, I knew they had more courage than the rest to wear their uniforms on campus, in spite of the narrow minds around them.

Back in May '04, on the occasions of Memorial Day and the opening of the WWII Memorial I wrote a piece dedicated to my uncles:

Anthony, one of my father's 3 older brothers, was called to service in March of 1942, just less than 3 months after Pearl Harbor. He served the US Air Force in crash recovery, piloting a PT boat, recovering the many who were downed during the battle of Midway.

Unlike the average GI who served about 2 years (with furloughs), Tony served for 3 years and almost 10 months; no breaks, no furloughs.

A year later, Gasper - my father's oldest brother - was drafted. He first guarded German POWs as an MP and later served as a medic, providing triage in France.

My father and his other older brother, Vincent, had poor eyesight and were not eligible for the draft. They, like the majority of others, fought the war on the homefront, with war bonds, scrap drives, and victory gardens.

Six or so years later, John, my father's brother-in-law, spent years defending liberty in Korea.

To these men, and to the countless others who have served this nations military, and especially to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, I salute you. My uncles all came home, and it was just in Spring of '04 we said our last farewell to Gasper, but the work they performed should never be forgotten.

The WWII monument came not a day too late, although I do wish Uncle Gap could have lived to see it.

The men and women of the US Military -- and their families -- have given in ways that only they can understand. We, who have never served, and can not fully comprehend, are asked to do nothing more but to remember, and to respect their sacrifices. Anyone who attempt to denigrate or insult those soldiers, in peace or in war, deserve the disdain of the rest of us.

As George Orwell wrote, "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."



As a side note, Happy Birthday US Marine Corps! HUH!!!




Thank God for the brave members of the United States Armed Forces.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Could I have been anyone other then me?

OK, people who work out, I need your input.

For over 2 years now I've practiced Karate -- Tae Kwon Do,
specifically. My master is 6th Dan, and he gives a helluva workout.

No less than 2x each week, I engage in about 20 minutes of cardio,
followed by 10-15 minutes of various stretching, and the hour is
topped off with either sparring or other cardio drills.

The end of nearly every class finds me with pulled muscles, limping,
or some combination of the two. On top of which, every morning after
I have to pull my ass out of bed with a lot of effort.

If this is the best shape I've ever been in throughout my life (and
believe me, it is), when does the payoff of 'being in shape' ever come
to pass?

Or is it simply a case that I started far too late in life to
appreciate any of these benefits??

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Catching up

Things have been busy for me of late, mostly at work. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. But there are a few stories worth noting this morning and over my 3rd cup of coffee (or is it #4?) I’ll share my views (because I know you’re all waiting with antici…pation for my new posts).

And don’t forget, my readers especially in PA and NJ:
GET OUT AND VOTE!!
  • France under Siege: Don Imus to Don Tigue, an MSNBC reporter, on the scene in France where vandals terrorists run amok,
    I hear they're considering bringing in the military, but they're afraid they would surrender to the vandals.

    What's happening in France (and Denmark, etc.) can and will happen in the USA, sooner or later. Only if we stop encouraging hyphenated status of all immigrants and start reminding folk that we're all Americans. You want to be Irish-American? God Bless you! Wear green on St. Patty's day, but every other day you're an America, period. Same for Italians on Columbus Day. Same for every ethnicity in this grand melting pot. No one says forget your past, but we should remember our present, and look towards the future.
  • Sports franchises getting the message: In a move that has made many in the City of Brotherly love weep openly, the Philadelphia Eagles put Terrell Owens on indefinite suspension, days after he criticized the organization for not publicly cheering his 100th career touchdown catch.

    Mr. Owens probably should have been given an oo-rah from the organization, for it was a significant feat. But he gets paid to achieve significant feats, and gets paid damn well. Ironically, he now gets paid to sit on his rump, but there’s a bigger message in this story.

    First, the NBA tells its stars they can’t associate thug-wear with their Organization, now the Eagles tell a big mouth to sit on the bench. Maybe the idea that people do actually care about the conduct of the players is being heard. It’s about time.(h/t TrekMedic)
  • Jessica’s Well noted something that I, a long-distance commuter, have known for some time. Gas prices have dropped, and are now lower than they were in August (pre-Katrina). A pity you won’t hear that from the MSM; they’re still too busy trying to paint ‘Big Oil’ as this huge fiend again. Big Oil gouges public = news. Big Oil gets the job done repairing unprecedented hurricane damage = not news. Gas now cheaper than before the hurricane = very minor news.

    This morning I paid $2.24.9 for regular unleaded. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not happy about this price, except when compared to September’s prices. It’s still too damn high, but that’s due to China’s increased consumption putting the squeeze on the Saudi exports. We need more domestic sources for our oil, and for the environmentalists to sit down and be quiet.

By the way… why is gas priced to nine-tenths of a cent??

  • MarkLevinFan.com archives excerpts from the Mark Levin radio show, heard on 770/WABC and on 820/WBAP. In particular, everyone ought to listen to Mark’s comparison between Sandy Burger and Lewis Libby. After listening, if you aren’t enraged at how unfairly the latter is being treated, I invite you to explain why.
  • Ala at Blonde Sagacity offers a list of WMDs found in Iraq:
  • 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium
  • 1,500 gallons of chemical weapons agents
  • 17 chemical warheads containing cyclosarin
  • More than 1,000 radioactive materials in powdered
    form
  • Roadside bombs loaded with mustard and "conventional" sarin
    gas.
  • Do you still believe in the spin that President Bush lied?


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    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Wreck on the highway

    Last night I was out driving
    Coming home at the end of the working day
    I was riding alone through the drizzling rain
    On a deserted stretch of a county two-lane
    When I came upon a wreck on the highway

    There was blood and glass all over
    And there was nobody there but me
    As the rain tumbled down hard and cold
    I seen a young man lying by the side of the road
    He cried Mister, won't you help me please

    Three times last night I attempted this post, but Blogger ate each one. Today (Monday) I am trying for four. I posted a piece of this via mail-to-Blogger, because I wanted something to record what happened, but couldn’t sit through a fourth posting. I never did save the text to a file any of those third times, because of the free flowing of ideas that came out. This song by Bruce Springsteen has been rolling around my head ever since the incident I am about to describe.

    Read More...Last night around 9:15 or so I drove to a nearby gas station on a largely deserted county two-lane road. I stood at the side of the family car, with the family inside, and started pumping when I heard the roar of an engine on the road. I looked up to see a dark colored pickup, speeding through the intersection and on past the nearby building next door. All I could tell about the truck was that the driver neglected to put on his headlights.

    No more than a second later, I heard him hit something, followed by a skid and then another hit. I didn't want to leave the fam alone, so I dialed 911 as a few people from the gas stations' mini-mart headed to the scene. I described to dispatch what I heard and what little I could see, which was nothing from my vantage point. But I knew something was hit, and they ought to send at least a Trooper. I left my name and number. I figured we'd roll by the scene ourselves in a few moments.

    Before I could finish pumping, my much-better-half could see the group from the store standing in a circle around something unmistakable in the middle of the road. Again on my cell phone, I called for an ambulance.

    No sooner than after I paid for gas, my cell phone rang. The State Police asked for more details; could I get any closer? Now I had to go to the scene, so my spouse parked the car off to the side and I ran down. By now, both kids in my car were awake, which was something I was hoping to avoid.

    On the phone was a State Trooper, who wanted a description. There are pieces of a motorcycle across the road, fuel, and the body of the rider.
    "Is he alive?"
    "The people here say he isn't." I was still about 20' away, heading towards him.
    "You have to be sure... is he breathing?"
    I knelt next to him... a guy maybe in his later 30's.

    "His pupils have burst. Both of them. His body is twisted... no, he's not breathing. He's gone."
    "Was he wearing a helmet?"
    I said "If he was it's nowhere to be found."
    "Did anyone see the pick up? A license plate?"

    I asked the small crowd of people. "Sure!" one guy answered. "It's over there.... he flipped it."

    The accident occurred in front of a strip mall, of which the gas station was on its corner. The truck careened across the grassy area that separates the parking lot from the road. It came to rest at the entrance road at the far end of the parking lot, hitting a boulder that was left for no particular reason along side the access road. The Trooper asked me to check out the truck.

    What the Hell, right?

    I get there and find a person who apparently is an EMT, tending to two people from the truck. One victim held a balled-up shirt to his head. The other person tried to sit still as the EMT checked his pupils with a flashlight. I tell him I am on the phone with State Police, and the EMT tells me there are two wounded here and one deceased, he says as he motions towards the wreck of the truck. Sensing he must know what he's talking about, as I assumed he was an EMT, I declined to check the cab to be sure.

    The Trooper was grateful for my relaying of information. By now, the local volunteer ALS/EMT has rolled up, and the fire truck behind it. I tell the Trooper I am going back to my family now, since I am about 100 yards away from them now.

    An ambulance finally came and took him to Riverside
    I watched as they drove him away
    And I thought of a girlfriend or a young wife
    And a state trooper knocking in the middle of the night
    To say your baby died in a wreck on the highway

    Sometimes I sit up in the darkness
    And I watch my baby as she sleeps
    Then I climb in bed and I hold her tight
    I just lay there awake in the middle of the night
    Thinking About the wreck on the highway

    I got back into the car, and my oldest asked "Daddy, is that person going to be ok?"

    "No. He's not."

    "Oh."

    What a crappy way to end a trip to Grandma's house on your 10th birthday.

    UPDATE: Local news says only one deceased... I suppose I misunderstood the EMT when he montioned towards the truck, which is pictured here:


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    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Day after All Hallow's Eve

    Starting next year, I will have a sign posted detailing the rules I will use for Trick or Treater’s. They are simple rules, but ones I think are open minded and are a benefit for all.

    1. If you aren’t wearing a costume, don’t bother: I counted no less than a dozen youths who couldn’t be bothered to dress the part. A Lone Ranger’s mask or a pair of Groucho glasses would meet my criteria; walking in street clothes doesn’t. One kid, a girl, wore a soccer uniform and claimed she was Mia Hamm. While it looked like it was school’s team uniform – and thus not a real costume – she at least gave some imagination to it.


    2. Continued...

    3. If you are old enough to drive, you are too old to Trick or Treat. Simple enough.
    4. If you and your buddies are swearing like Sailors as you walk down my driveway, don’t be surprised if I give you grief about it. Especially if I am sitting with my much-better-half and kids. If you elect to give me static over the grief I give you, you had better get your ass out of my driveway.
    5. If you are a parent of an infant, don’t expect candy. I mean that if you have two or more kids, and one is an infant, said infant of course can be dressed up and brought around as you escort the other kid(s). I am speaking specifically of kids who don’t have teeth, but for whom a parent will hold out a bag. Candy is for kids to enjoy, not for the parents. Buy your own!
    6. If you don’t like what I offer, don’t ask me for something else. Life is a bitch; deal with it.
    7. A-holes that insist on driving fast and recklessly in residential communities really ought to give it a rest on Halloween. This is especially true in rural communities that lack sidewalks.

    Overall, it was a quiet night. And other than the two groups of foul-mouthed kids, I affirm that I did not criticize a single kid (er, at least to their face). Usually we’re good for +/- 120 or so kids; I’d estimate we got about 60… and last night was clear with mild temperatures.


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