Tuesday, November 28, 2006

About this so-called civil war

The truth hurts, ya know?

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Monday, November 27, 2006

So when do Janie and Johnny go to school?

The following is from my local school district's handbook for elementary and intermediate students, under the heading of SCHOOL YEAR CALENDAR:

August 2006

24 ~ Staff Development Day - No School for Students
28 ~ First Day of School for Students
31 ~ Early Dismissal for Students

September 2006

1 ~ School Closed/Offices Open
4 ~ LABOR DAY – Schools/Offices Closed
5 ~ Schools Re-Open

October 2006

9 ~ Staff Development Day – No School for Students

November 2006

20 ~ K-9: Parent/Teacher Conferences (evening)
22 ~ Early Dismissal for Students
23-27~ THANKSGIVING RECESS – Schools/Offices Closed
28 ~ Schools Re-Open
29 ~ K-9 Parent/Teacher Conferences (evening)
30 ~ K-12 Early Dismissal; K-9 Parent/Teacher Conferences (day); 10 – 12 Staff Development

December 2006

1 ~ K-12 No School for Students; Parent/Teacher Conferences (day); 10 – 12 Staff Development (Act 80)
22 ~ Early Dismissal for Students
25-31 ~ WINTER RECESS - Schools Closed

January 2007

1-2 ~ WINTER RECESS – Schools Closed
3 ~ Schools Re-open
15 ~ MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY - Schools Closed / Offices Open
22 ~ Staff Development Day - No School for Students

February 2007

19 ~ PRESIDENT’S DAY - Schools Closed / Offices Open

March 2007

16 ~ Staff Development Day - No school for students

April, 2007

5-9 ~ SPRING RECESS – Schools Closed
10 ~ Schools Re-Open

May 2007

28 ~ MEMORIAL DAY - Schools / Offices Closed

June 2007

4 ~ Last day for students/teachers (tentative)
8* ~ Commencement

From this I ask the following questions:

  • How is it that Thanksgiving recess (which encompasses Monday the 27th, the first day of deer hunting in Pennsylvania) include 3 days of school in part of the same week 1-1/2 days are lost to Parent/Teacher Conferences and Staff Development, effectively leaving the kids in class for 5 full days out of 10?

  • Why are these "essential" Staff Development Days always at the beginning or end of a weekend?

  • Why do teachers routinely complain about their work schedule, when they are typically scheduled to work just 185 (or so) days per year? And they are paid a full years salary!

  • Why is the national holiday of Labor Day recognized, but not the national holiday for Veteran's Day?

  • Why did the local newspapers recently run heart-wrenching stories about the numbers of student enrollments dropping in the local school districts, while the cyber-charter schools enrollments continue to climb?

  • What are a number of parents I know supposed to do with their kidlets who have so much time off this month, when many of the parents are saving their time off for Christmas and other holidays?

  • To paraphrase another person, years ago: Why can't Janie and Johnny read?

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New ride

Well, it's Monday. When I last posted, I spoke of the new vehicle... SUV, really. Yes, it is a beaut. I will have to manage a photo or three, but in the meantime it will suffice to say it's dark red and my much-better-half looks great driving it. I am too lazy to link to any sites with photos, so use your imagination.

So after I posted from a hotel lobby, instead of going to the Mall I decided to grab some complimentary juice and coffee, courtesy of Courtyard. No one asks if you're a guest or not, so why not?

Later on, after a crazy 30 minutes of she and I trying to meet each other, we converged on the bank. They've recently upgraded their software interface; the CSR changes the date of the load closure to Saturday's date, and the system responds that the loan now requires an officer approval, due to the change. Huh? The CSR indicates the date of closure, and that needs approval? Several phone calls, and at least one pleading from the branch manager later and the check is cut.

Off we go, back north. Head to the dealer, and we give the Highlander the last once-over before signing on the lines. Hey... where's the cig lighter? Now, neither of us smokes. And I believe the last time I actually used a cig lighter to ignite anything involved an M-80 about 17 years ago (hint: only fools try this while being seated in the passenger seat). And while most new cars and trucks offer the outlet for 12 volt appliances, and a cap over the receptacle in place of a lighter, the Highlander lacked either a cap or insert.

For the price I was paying, I am damned well going to get either a cap or a lighter; the open hole (illuminated, no less!) was just not right on the dash board.

Would you believe they tried to tell me that's what it is supposed to be? Here I am about to hand over a sizable certified check, and this idiot of a salesman is trying to tell me it's supposed to be that way. I went through three other vehicles in the showroom and found 2 caps and one lighter; I told him either he gets me one or I'll take one from the floor. Again he hems and haws.

I pulled the sticker off the window to show him that a lighter was, in fact, listed as an included accessory. Suddenly, he finds one. Asshat.

And now I am supposed to return to this dealer for service, right?

So now I am driving the much-better-half's 'old' 2001 Rav-4 (117,000 miles); the '92 Blazer, my former commuting vehicle, gets weekend and deep snow duty. Why another Toyota? I can't knock the pricing, the safety or reliability. I still have my 1990 Corolla which currently read 320,000 on the odometer. Truthfully, it's registration has expired due to a cracked windshield, so it will be towed before too long.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

You know it's a bad day when

So today was supposed to be a good day.

Today is the day my much-better-half and I finally are purchasing a new vehicle. Long time readers will know this has been coming for nearly 2 years.

So this morning I drove to my bank. For most folks, this is a short hop; not me! We still bank at the Credit Union I got into 11 years ago! The much-better-half would meet me at the dealer in about 3 hours and she'd get to drive her new SUV home; that's the plan. So I drove 90 minutes to Wayne, PA only to find out that since our auto loan is in both names, SHE has to be there to sign for it.

So here I am Courtyard by Marriot, waiting for her to get here. On a bright spot, I at least can go across to the King O' Prussia Mall and begin my Christmas shopping. I know: after buying a new car, what's left? Not to mention she came home from shopping last weekend announcing that I had bought her for Christmas. But hey...

OH, what's the new ride? 2006 Toyota Highlander.... space, safety and price... can't argue with any of that!

Charlie On The Pennsylvania Turnpike

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Only the most important people are at work today

Today is one of those days when the majority of people who work in offices are off. Those few who do report to work are the ones without whom the company, itself, would fail. For those in that distinct minority, like myself, I salute you!

(And hope, likewise, that you'll slip out early, since the boss is nowhere to be found!)

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor -- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be -- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks -- for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation -- for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquility [sic], union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed -- for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted -- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and applications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually -- to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a
Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed -- to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn [sic] kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord -- To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease [sic] of science among them and us -- and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

You want me to count the number of references to God? How about just the first line? Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor. Let's see. One, two, three, four references in just that first clause. What a fanatic, George Washington! Just wanted you to hear that. That's the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789.

The thanks was given to God, not the Indians.

Both of these may be found in their original posting at Rush Limbaugh.com. I know well several of my regular readers bristle at any mention of Mr. Limbaugh, but you can't escape the fact that this nation was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles -- not only of President Washington but of the Congress as well. Keep that in mind the next time some call for secular humanism in government.



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Lesson in Capitalism vs. Socialism: Happy Thanksgiving

Whether or not you are a student of history, whether or not you are even remotely interested in politics, and whether you are a fan of Rush Limbaugh or not, I encourage you all to read (or listen) to the following: The Real Story of Thanksgiving.

Even if you swore you'd never pay Rush any mind, demonstrate how you can have an open mind and read this, and then come back with an argument (if you can).

The following transcript of a 2004 broadcast was edited subtly by me for posting purposes.

Here now, the real story of Thanksgiving from the book, See, I Told You So, by me. It starts on page 69. The chapter this is contained in begins on page 66 of the hard cover edition:

"Well, folks, let's allow our real undoctored American history lesson to unfold further. If our schools and the media have twisted the historical record when it comes to Columbus, they have obliterated the contributions of America's earliest permanent settlers, the Pilgrims. Why? Because they were a people inspired by profound religious beliefs to overcome incredible odds. Today, public schools are simply not teaching how important the religious dimension was in shaping our history and our nation's character. Whether teachers are just uncomfortable with this material or whether there's been a concerted effort to cover up the truth, the results are the same. Kids are no longer learning enough to understand and appreciate how and why America was created.

"The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century (that's the 1600s for those of you in Rio Linda, California). The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community. After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible.

"The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford's own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper!

"This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives.

"He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work! Surprise, surprise, huh? What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future."

Here now, in its entirety, the William Bradford journal, what he wrote about the social experiment after abandoning what essentially was socialism shortly after the Pilgrims had arrived in the United States or in the new world:

"'The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,' Bradford wrote. 'For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense...that was thought injustice.' Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They un-harnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products.'"

Not just use themselves and not just send to a common store but they could market. They could grow as much, they could sell it for what they could get for it, and the incentive was clear to do as much as possible on both sides. "And what was the result? 'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, 'for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' Bradford doesn't sound like much of a Clintonite, does he? Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes. Read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Following Joseph's suggestion (Gen 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the 'seven years of plenty' and the 'Earth brought forth in heaps.' (Gen. 41:47) In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the 'Great Puritan Migration.' Now, let me ask you: Have you read this history before? Is this lesson being taught to your children today? If not, why not? Can you think of a more important lesson one could derive from the Pilgrim experience?

"Guess what? There's even more that is being deliberately withheld from our modern textbooks. For example, one of those attracted to the new world by the success of Plymouth was Thomas Hooker. Thomas Hooker established his own community in Connecticut, the first full-fledged constitutional community, perhaps the most free society the world had ever known. Hooker's community was governed by the fundamental orders of Connecticut, which established strict limits on the powers of government. So revolutionary and successful was this idea that Massachusetts was inspired to adopt its body of liberties. The body of liberties included ninety-eight separate protections of individual rights, including no taxation without representation, due process of law, trial by a jury of peers, and prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. Now, those no doubt sound familiar to you and they should because these are ideas and concepts that led directly to the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights."

"Nevertheless, the Pilgrims and the Puritans of early New England are often vilified today as witch burners and portrayed as simpletons. But to the contrary, it was their commitment to pluralism and free worship that led to these ideals being incorporated into American history, and our history books purposely conceal the fact that these notions were developed by communities of devout Christians who studied the Bible and found that it prescribes limited representative government and free enterprise as the best political and economic systems. Now, there's only one word for this, folks. It's censorship. There was a time when every schoolchild did learn these basic lessons of the American culture. Now these truths are being and have been systematically expunged from history books in favor of liberal social studies clap trap," and the chapter goes on. "This brings us to our Founding Fathers, the geniuses who crafted the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

"These were men who shook up the entire world by proclaiming the idea that people had certain God-given freedoms and rights and that the government's only reason to exist was to protect those freedoms and rights from both internal and external forces -- and that simple, yet brilliant, insight has been all but lost today in liberalism's relentless march toward bigger, more powerful, more intrusive government," and that's why I wanted to add to the reading today the George Washington First Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789. Thanksgiving was about thanking God for bounty and freedom and opportunity and blessings. Thanksgiving is a time we celebrate the Pilgrims realizing the best way to enjoy prosperity in a new world that was foreign to them. Yes, there was cooperation with the Indians and, yes, the Indians did extend the handshake of freedom when we arrived by teaching the Pilgrims how to farm and so forth, but after that, all the bounty that was created by the first settlers were shared with the Indians.

There was no wiping them out. There was no infiltration. There was no introduction of various diseases and -isms like environmental wackoism or sexism or racism or any of this, as have been attached in recent multicultural curricula to the so-called white Europeans who invaded this pristine land and destroyed the goodness and the oneness that the Indians enjoyed with this land. That's what's being taught today. What is not being taught today is the devotion to God that these people had, but the failure of a socialist compact to adequately provide for the residents of the first colony and how William Bradford himself saw it was failing almost from the outset and devised a new compact which was basically capitalism and unfettered competition, and incentive, and then it was Katie bar the door. All of these things are part of the original Thanksgiving, and even when I go back and remember my days in school, I was not taught this. I was not taught the involvement and the references to God.

I was not taught that the Pilgrims had all this bounty after awhile and shared it with the Indians. It was quite the opposite. The purpose of teaching Thanksgiving when I was a kid was to tell all of us just how wonderful the Indians were and how well they treated us when we arrived because we were basically inept and incompetent. I enjoy passing this story along every Thanksgiving because we've been doing it here since I published and wrote the book, and the book is actually 1993. It came out in November of '93. By the end of the year, it had sold two million copies, and since then, I guess this is our 11th year now of reading the real story of Thanksgiving, and it always reaches new people. Every year we do it, people who have never heard it before are amazed. Now, if I was able to find it and get the true story, it's out there, but it's not in conventional history textbooks that you'll find in many of the public schools.

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On being thankful

So I am up to my ears again this week. Traditionally this week (by today at the latest, certainly) is generally a slow week, with so many folk taking vacation time. Well for me, neither is the case. I have a full set of meetings to either attend or conduct, and the only break I see is that no one will be working on the holiday tomorrow. I welcomed the challenge of the new responsibility, knowing it can (and potentially will) lead to bigger and better things, but right now I am swamped with the new and old responsibilities.

The next two posts have been planned for a week or so, and are long. Since migrating to Beta.Blogger I've been unable to make the read more style work as it did previously; I realize once I fully convert my template to the new version, this problem will be resolved. Getting to that stage takes a little more time than I have presently, so it will have to wait. Of course, what I need is someone to better design my template, but that will have to wait for another day as well.

This weekend will be lots of celebrations, originally intended on giving thanks. Whatever our lot in life, we all have blessings we ought to be thankful for having: liberty, family, friends, our own wealth (however insufficient we may find it at any given moment), and the ability to take control of our own destinies. Some people take a lot of those items for granted; we should be remind ourselves that however bleak some days may be, there are millions billions who would trade with us at the blink of an eye.

So as you sit across the table from that uncle (the one who always stares at you/your female relatives just a bit too long), or the great-aunt who always squeezes your cheeks (even though you're in your 30s), or that cousin who never, ever stops mumbling... raise your own glass of whatever suits you, and give thanks, if for no other reason than you won't have to see these folks for another year.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

And how is your day going?

In regards to the presentation I am giving...

Boss: Charlie, I finally reviewed your project plan for today's meeting. I've made a lot of changes, you may actually need to start over from scratch. I hope you don't hate me too much.

Me: No Bob, I don't hate you.... too much.

UPDATE: After nearly 2 weeks of prep time for this presentation, the 2 senior execs (including the one fabled to 'walk out' if he wasn't pleased) declined to show. So we're rescheduled for after T-Day. Gotta love Murphy and his law. The upside: there's pretty much nothing that can happen that I am not prepared to handle, and the next week ought to be a light one.

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Never missing an opportunity to call a 'spade' a spade...

Mark Levin points out an interesting turn and wonders why we're only finding out about this now:

In Wednesday's NY Times, a cast of Iraq War critics, many of whom had called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and all of whom were calling for a retreat, er cut and run, er I mean phased redeployment of out troops, are now saying that reducing troop levels in Iraq would be a BAD THING. That they suddenly change their position only after the election betrays that they put politics over policy, a foolish if not deadly position to hold.

The list of these fools includes:

  • Anthony Zinni, the former head of the United States Central Command
  • John Batiste, another retired Army major general

Both of these men called for the resignation of Rumsfeld. Perhaps their original positions was influenced by the fact they was just the kind of deadwood in the Pentagon that Secy. Rumsfeld was clearing out?

Add to the list Kenneth Pollack, a former staffer for the NSC under President Clinton, who now says pulling out would cause an Iraqi civil war.

Excuse me: haven't we been told for more than a year that there has been a civil war in Iraq, and our presence only fuels it?

Why is it few people, other than the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and others, point out this hypocrisy?

More importantly, those of you who are diametrically opposed to the War on Terror, and to how President Bush has handled the situation, will you have the courage of your convictions to call these critics on their hypocrisy?

MACSMIND details Gen. John P. Abizaid testimony before Congress that the troop levels ought to remain static. So where are all these generals we've been told about who want to reduce our forces in the region??

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Think MY daily commute is nuts?

So my folks had an old PC that finally bit the dust 2 weeks ago. It ran Win98, so that's about 7 years or more old, a dinosaur in PC terms (lets not use that scale against me, ok??)

So they ordered a Dell.... strike that: I ordered them one from Dell, complete with a 15" flat-screen monitor. My father objected: being that he's lost all of his sight, why can't we get a PC without a monitor? I kind of thought Mom would like to see the desktop. Silly me, but hey...

So since they live in Queens, NY, and I haven't been able to get out to them, they've been growing frustrated over their new toy that just doesn't work. Well, it works, but not to their desires. So after last weekend where the fam was sick with colds, and with a camping trip for the Scouts on tap for this weekend, I decided to come to my folks house for dinner, PC time, and to sleep over.

Whereas my commute of 105 miles is just under 2 hours, 70 miles ought to be a (comparable) snap. Nope. 3:15 minutes... you can see why I haven't come for dinner during the week so often.

But they're up and running, and I installed RealVNC, so I can do remote support for them from home or the office: a veritable Godsend of an app!!

Tomorrow I put on my suit and tie and present the first of four progress reports on this huge deliverable I am managing. Senior level managers and at least one VP get to view and critique my managerial skillz... even though all on the staff view this meeting with dread, I get a kick out of the idea and look forward to the challenge. I may even open the meeting with a joke... why not? I did that in my job interview!

Is the meeting a big deal? Certainly. Am I nervous? I'd be a fool if I weren't. What's the worse that could happen? A lot of bad PR, a lot of work these last 3 weeks goes to hell, and I my lose some of my polish in the company. Is the end of the world? Hardly... I've seen enough real 'important' events come and go, this one is just a minor bump, and I will prevail and I wager I will do quite well.

Time will tell. Now I gotta turn in; can't risk another 3 hour ride tomorrow!

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Geek Bumper Sticker

Seen today:

There's no place like

If you don't get it, you've never set-up/maintained a network.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Never too old

The old Rocker wore his hair too long,
wore his trouser cuffs too tight.
Unfashionable to the end drank his ale too light.
Death's head belt buckle yesterday's dreams
the transport caf' prophet of doom.
Ringing no change in his double-sewn seams
in his post-war-babe gloom.

Now he's too old, old, old
to Rock'n'Roll
but he's too young to die.

He once owned a Harley Davidson and a Triumph Bonneville.
Counted his friends in burned-out spark plugs
and prays that he always will.
But he's the last of the blue blood greaser boys
all of his mates are doing time:
married with three kids up by the ring road
sold their souls straight down the line.

And some of them own little sports cars
and meet at the tennis club do's.
For drinks on a Sunday work on Monday.
They've thrown away their blue suede shoes.

Now they're too old, old old
to Rock'n'Roll
and they're too young to die.

So the old Rocker gets out his bike
to make a ton before he takes his leave
Up on the A1 by Scotch Corner1
just like it used to be.
And as he flies tears in his eyes
his wind-whipped words echo the final take
and he hits the trunk road doing around 120
with no room left to brake.

And he was too old, old old
to Rock'n'Roll
but he was too young to die.

No, you're never too old, old, old
to Rock'n'Roll
if you're too young to die.

Ian Anderson

1Up on the A1 by Scotch Corner

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Skipping the light fandango

We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
as the miller told his tale
that her face, at first just ghostly,
turned a whiter shade of pale

News today from the world of old rock and roll:
Members of rock group Procol Harum clashed in court on Monday over the ownership of their seminal 1967 hit "A Whiter Shade of Pale", which has sold around 10 million copies worldwide.

Former band keyboard player Matthew Fisher says he wrote the organ music to the song and so is entitled to joint authorship of the track alongside lead singer Gary Brooker, who is credited with its copyright.

Fisher is suing Brooker and Onward Music Ltd in a claim which could be worth up to $2.5m.
She said, 'There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.'
But I wandered through my playing cards
and would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well've been closed

She said, 'I'm home on shore leave,'
though in truth we were at sea
so I took her by the looking glass
and forced her to agree
saying, 'You must be the mermaid
who took Neptune for a ride.'
But she smiled at me so sadly
that my anger straightway died

For starters, I doubt many under 30 could even name the band Procol Harum, much less this or any song. Oh, I know it's a staple on AOR stations, and probably most people recognize the melody, but not the band. (In the spirit of full disclosure, my bother owned A Salty Dog, and the albaum of the same name as this featured song).

On its face, this seems to be a sad attempt at grabbing for some cash; I get the feeling Matt Fisher waited a few decades too late to make a claim.

I've always tried to decode the opening lines: Skipped the light fandango... No I never could make sense of it, but that doesn't take away from the melody or the song in its entirety.

But I do love these lyrics: they certainly don't write them like this anymore:

If music be the food of love
then laughter is its queen
and likewise if behind is in front
then dirt in truth is clean
My mouth by then like cardboard
seemed to slip straight through my head
So we crash-dived straightway quickly
and attacked the ocean bed

Oh It was later
As the miller told his tale
That her face at first just ghostly
Turned a whiter shade of pale

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An ad prompts questions

I happened to glance at my own, humble web page loading today and took notice of the following GOOGLE AD:

And that struck me odd. First off, while she has shrugged off suggestions of running, why is their no mention of Secretary of State Condolezza Rice? She has far more experience in the Executive office than any first-term Senator.

And then it occurred to me: we've already had a black president, so the whole question of who would be first is moot. So as for the next black president, we could entertain Dr. Rice, Sen. Obama, or how about (retired) Rep. J.C. Watts?

Or better yet, instead of such mental exercises, why not devote our energies in finding another candidate who is best for the position, regardless of race, color or creed?

A novel thought, eh?

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Veteran's Day

The following is a repost from previous years, modified ever so slightly for clarity.

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 10 years; I'm still 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 said to a number of veterans with whom I have worked with in the Defense industry 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 the face of an order. In the end, I imagine would have made a good ol' fashioned dog face, 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 2004, 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 home front, with war bonds, scrap drives, and victory gardens.

6 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 will never be forgotten, nor should it be.

The men and women of the US Military -- and their families -- have given in ways that only they can understand. The vast majority of all citizens of this country have never served, yet we are fortunate and blessed for those who have. Not all who have served in over 200 years saw battle, but everyone played an important role, regardless, in the defense of this nation. Their families also served with them; whether at a remote post, far from home, or home alone waiting for their return, the families pay prices few can comprehend. In a very minor way, I am aware of this price in regards to my nephew, who continues his training at the Air Force academy. My brother, sister-in-law and their children are very proud of him, as we all are.

We, the majority of us 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 said, We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. Those rough men and women are the true heroes of liberty.

As a side note, Happy Birthday US Marine Corps! Semper Fi!!!

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

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Message from the Corporate Office

This is an actual e-mail from the Corporate home office, with emphasis by me:


We are having problems with coffee machines not being turned off at the end of
the work day. This creates a potential fire hazard which would affect business operations. I have instructed the facilities team that when they do their daily 4:30 pm garbage pickup they are to shut off all coffee machines at that time. If, anyone decides to work pass the business hours of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and uses a coffee machine - that employee must ensure all coffee machines are turned off before exiting the facility.

Your cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated.

Thank you

The concern for the business operations is admirable (to hell with the health of anyone in a burning building).

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After the losses

Jim Treacher offers the following queries:

  • Does this mean Bush is still Hitler? I'm pretty sure Hitler never let his opponents win an election, did he? Unless... this is all part of Rove's plan.
  • A major concern of the last few elections has been that Republicans need to cheat to win, and the problem was going to be even worse with the new Diebold machines. What happened? Did Cheney forget his password again? That darn Cheney, always forgetting his password.
  • What happened to Ned? I thought Lieberman was Public Enemy #1. Now Kos must feel like the kid on Christmas morning who's surrounded by toys... except for the one he really wanted.
  • So the world likes us again, right? No more terrorism? YAY!!!

All very good questions, indeed!

I am so annoyed I don't have even half the time I used to for blogging. Not that I am a writer by any one's imagination, but I do take some enjoyment at voicing my own opinions.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election results

I can't say I am not amazed. The Republican majority that has brought so much good to the nation is, for the time being, over.

The Democrats have won; no landslide, but a win is a win, and they deserve their majority status.
Get ready higher government spending (even more so than the former Congress), higher taxes (at least the President can veto these efforts), and a slower growing economy.

The people get the government they deserve; those who sat out this election, especially, are about to see that.

Mark Noonan displays class, succinctly, as the GOP belly's up to a bowl of crow.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Early returns

If the current returns continue on their reported course, then the voters of Pennsylvania will have elected a Bob Casey, Jr to the US Senate, after the man repeatedly refused to answer most any question put to him by Rick Santorum.

It is said that Americans get the government they deserve; if the above holds, Pennsylvania will deserve what little governing they get.

It's now 22:45 and I need to get a few hours of shut eye, since I'll be driving in less than 6 hours. Certainly, the land-slide predictions of the Left have failed to materialize, and I said these slim gains are historically low for a midterm election, so while my individual candidate predictions have largely failed, I can take solace in the knowledge that even IF the House turns to a Democratic Party majority (presently needs +5), they'll never mount a veto-proof majority to repeal the Bush tax cuts.

My view on why the House lost so many Republican seats is while they remain the sane, firm stance on border security, they spent money like Democrats, and forgot their basic, Conservative values that brought them to office.

As for the Senate losses, well their stance on border security and amnesty spoke volumes. In the next few days we'll see an analysis of party turnout, and I wager these assessments will be proven correct.

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Gas for $1.97.9

It's a beautiful thing.


Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer http://www.cingular.com

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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Home Stretch

So this is the last day before the polls open. Unlike all of the media polls, and those dreaded exit polls, tomorrow's polls are the only ones that really count.

As much as I wish I could have blogged more about candidates I support, I did get a few in: I heartily endorse Sen. Rick Santorum, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Lynn Swann, and Joseph Leonardi . In spite of the mass media calling this election done months ago, I made a prediction a month ago that the GOP will retain control of both House of US Congress. With just a few hours left before the polls open, I still stand by that prediction. And I am pleasantly optimistic that PA State results will be equally RED as well!

I believe that in the end, the voters will see that while the Republicans has made missteps -- and no one can doubt that they have -- they have a plan and have produced results. Democrats, on the other hand, are good at bashing the President and all Republicans, but have yet to outline any sort of plan of what they'll do once in office. So far, we're told, Rep. Nancy Peolosi will focus on minimum wage, as if that is a cure for all ills (hint: it isn't!). Other than that, we hear no plans.

That's where I stand; regardless of where you stand, I do hope you exercise your right to vote tomorrow; I know someone, a family member, who told me Why should I vote? It's not the Presidential election or anything important. On one hand, I can predict her vote would likely be 180 degrees different from mine, so its easy to say it's just as well but it honestly hurts me to see apathy like that. Too many people take what we rights we have for granted. Remember those people with the purple finger, remember how they dodged bombs JUST so they could go to vote.

You have no excuse; if you're registered, get out and vote.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Got any McValium?

So I was running late Friday night... work is continuing to keep me running at about 120%, and I had left later than I planned because of it. Friday night was my oldest boy's Cub Scout Pack Night, and as Den Leader and his dad I, especially, couldn't be late.

So about 15 miles from home I jumped off the highway to grab a McDonald's Double-Cheeseburger at one of the last McD's I know of that still offer it for $1. (Wendy's is a tie for the best offer with their Bacon Jr. Cheeseburger for $.99, but these, too, are getting hard to find). I missed lunch, and there wouldn't be time to eat dinner and get him to the event.

This McD drive-thru is somewhat unlike most, with its pick-up window on the opposite side of the building from where you enter the lot. So after getting your bag, you drive forward, make a left turn and head toward the exit.

This is where my evening got interesting.

The weather was unseasonably warm, and my driver's side-window is generally always down. As I turned the corner, I came within inches of a head-on with a Honda, driven by a decidedly angry woman. Her tires squealed to a stop, to give an idea of how fast she had come in. Because there were parked cars on my right, and entire building on my left, I had little option, other than perhaps backing up.

I leaned on the horn and said something like WHOA or other non-descript reaction.
ME: Oh, I will, just as soon as you back up and give me room.
ME: Why don't YOU get out of my way?
I've lived long enough to know the way to really piss off irrational people is to not yell back at them with the same vigor as they are yelling at you. That was a trick I learned being a bank teller, where arguing with a customer could cost you your job, so I learned to be sickeningly pleasant in such situations.

Certainly, however, the one thing you never do is to tell them to fuck you, fuck off, go fuck yourself, or anything similar. That lesson came in my early 20's when the person I offended with similar verbiage gave me reason to be worried for my life. Since then, that's a rule I've never, ever broken.
Obviously, she never read that rule. However, I remained inside my Blazer, choosing to continue shouting out my window.
ME: If you're making that offer to me, you must be really desperate.
Now, I am pissed; nobody talks trash about my ride!
ME: Why don't you just back up and I'll then leave and we'll be finished.
Remarkably, she not only gets out of her car, she walks up to my open window. I was both stunned to see her do it, and a bit curious, that I didn't close the window. I knew if I got out of the car, anyone seeing a 6' guy arguing with a 5'5"-5''7" woman would assume the guy was in the wrong. She spoke with her teeth clenched:
SHE: Are you going to move your fucking truck out of my way?
ME: I think I am going to follow the big yellow arrow on the ground and leave by the exit, and I really think you ought to walk yourself back to you car before this goes any farther.
ME: You're asking ME that question?
By now, there's at least two cars behind me, waiting to leave. They start honking, she starts swearing to them. I'm close to reaching my breaking point.
ME: LOOK! This ends now. You are wrong; I know it, they know it, now you have to admit it. Go back to you car, back it up, and I'll leave. You lost, it's over. Step down, now.
Her green eyes burned, and she looked as if she was about bawl them out at me. Something very wrong happened to her that day. I didn't cause it, and I certainly didn't start this incident, but I wanted it to end. She drew a big breath.
SHE: Fuck YOU!!!
ME: There's not enough bourbon that's gonna make that ever happen.
She stomped back to her car to the sound of the other cars honking, and some other gal yelling at her. She backed up, did a 3 point turn, and headed out. I followed out the same exit, ever-so-slowly, and purposely waited to see her get on the southbound ramp of the highway before I headed north.

I feel bad for her, and curse the person who pissed her off so. I hope she got to her destination safely that night; someone that mad could very easily hurt herself and others (like a near head-on with me).

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

I know a thing or two about bad jokes

This post is about as much national politics as it is local.

Anyone who has read this blog (or those few of you who know me in real life), know that I know all about bad jokes, jokes that were delivered badly, and jokes that aren't funny. I have this secret image of myself being stand-up comic, so I know what I speak about.

Sen. John Kerry, it seems, does not when jokes are going bad.

What he did the other night was a failed attempt at making a joke. No one should seriously think he was slamming the troops. I say this, knowing full well he has bashed the troops before (stating their actions as 'terrorizing' women and children, for starters).

But what is also clear, to me, is that Sen. Kerry is a stuck-up elitist who does not like President Bush, as is his right. And Mr. Kerry proved this elitist mentality when he proclaimed "I will apologize to no one." Pardon us, we'll just bow and leave your presence, Senator.

So last night he apologized for how his words were misconstrued. Um, no, you got it wrong again Senator. Your words were not misconstrued. I heard the 60 or seconds ahead of the failed punch line. They were setting up for the punch line that you botched, simple as that. You wanted to call the President what you think of him (Remember these words: I can't believe I am losing to that fucking idiot!), and in the end you proved you're not a boy-genius, yourself. And when all was said and done where this matter is concerned, you lost -- again -- to President Bush. Way to go Senator! After the debate losses you suffered, followed by the election loss of 2004, you'd think the Senator would realize he can't beat President Bush; he is simply the better man.

But where this matter crosses to local politics, is where Secy. Bob Casey, who is trying to unseat Sen. Rick Santorum, has yet to say anything (publicly) about the matter. It wasn't until yesterday afternoon that the Casey campaign signaled to the Kerry office that his presence at the campaign stop was not needed. That's right.... Bob Casey, who has lost far more elections than John Kerry has, did not want to be seen with Sen. Kerry yesterday. Way to take a stand, Mr. Casey... don't speak out, just have an aide call the Kerry office. And that's only after several other prominent candidates canceled their invited to Sen. Kerry. Way to go Mr. Casey.

Bob Casey has shown again and again his refusal to tackle tough issues, or answer pretty much any question. Yesterday was another example of his skipping a tough issue (as if this failed joke was a tough issue) and letting someone else deal with it for him.

Is this the kind of man the Commonwealth wants to represent them in Washington?

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This says it all

This explains why I don't dance....

....not that I could get away with wearing either guy's costume, but that is another story altogether...

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You can state the facts and smile at the same time

One of the latest entries in Sen. Rick Santorum's re-election bid is this one:

What do you get when you mix politics and professional wrestling? A humorous reason (added to the many others) why Pennsylvania will re-elect Sen. Santorum!

For more videos, plainly stating his case for re-election, click here.

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