Monday, April 30, 2007

Social Networking

I am taking a survey...

Are you a member of, or have you ever participated in, either of the following:

I had about given up on Twitter until I came across a fellow blogger, the CleverHack herself, Joy, who saw me online. That's given the site some reprieve for now.

As for LinkedIn, I am curious in a general sort of way; as LI is intended on networking strictly in a career-enhancement basis, my nome de plume would not work there, and, no, I won't be revealing my real name to anyone anything soon.

I am curious if anyone has had any feedback, positive or negative, on either of these sites.


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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Back home

So the birthday event which I previously groaned about is over. 2-1/2 hours to get there, for a 5 year old's 2 hour birthday party not at Chuck E. Cheese's but rather at a party room in a nearby park. So it sort of sucked, unless you were under 7 years old.

Then back to MBH's niece's house for dinner, another cake and an afternoon of family visiting. Then just about a 3 hour ride home (due, in part, to repaving on the Interstate).

These sort of events are part of being in a family, I suppose. And, oh boy, my MBH's nephew's son will be 3 in June. And he and his fam live even FURTHER away.

Can't wait.


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Friday, April 27, 2007

Miles to go before I sleep

Well, not exactly. I am home. My 2 hour commute made worse by the weather and no less than 3 accident sites along the way.

So what's in store for this weekend? Does the town of Poughquag, NY ring a bell? Oh I know where abouts it is... about 90 minutes or so north of NYC. Translation: at least 3 hours from home.

My much-better-half's great-niece is having a birthday party. She's 5 I believe.... hard to keep track, at least for me (sorry). So we'll be driving some 3 hours (or so) to get to a Chuck-e-Cheese like place for a few hours. Loads of fun, it sound like, to me. Not.

But there are two over-riding reasons why we're going.
  1. For the last week our 4 year old has been announcing to the world, every chance he gets, that tomorrow is 'Bella's birthday. Ok, he hasn't fully grasped the calendar concept yet, but he's getting there. So he can't be disappointed.

  2. My MBH's niece and (and nephew, who has his own 3 year old) both came to our kids birthday parties and .... and ... um... wait a second. No they didn't!!
WTF? I gotta spend my Saturday driving when they couldn't be bothered for our kids? Where's the fairness in all that? Hell, I'm pushing to spend the night, so I can at least enjoy a libation or three.

Here's hoping your weekend is good for you!

In other news: This blog has been too silent on too many items for too long. Be it politics or pop culture, I realize I haven't said much in recent weeks and I intend to start getting back into a groove, soon.

In the Big Props department, a big announcement needs to be made: Lisa of Just A Girl has just finished her first book, WordPress for Dummies. Now this humble blogger does not profess to know WordPress (not for the least reason that this is a Blogger hosted site) so a title like this will do little for me in this realm. However, back when Lisa started writing I told her I would buy a copy and I will stand by my word! So if you are a WordPress kind of blogger, I recommend you follow suit and buy a copy, too!!

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Monday, April 23, 2007

A sensible subject line should go here

I am here.

The last few days have been the sort of stuff, I believe, that would make good fodder for a personal-type blog. That being said, none will be detailed here. Sorry, it isn't that you, the loyal readers, aren't worthy. Far from it. It's just that they require far more detail than I can easily type, and it is all way too personal for sharing.

So I'll instead share this moment from my Tae Kwon Do class this evening, which is - by far - the most amusing point of my last week.

Part of the promotion process in TKD is the mastery of Poomse or 'forms', a routine that involves some 20-30 steps of kicks, punches, blocks, and the like. Each promotion has a different Form that must be mastered, and naturally, each promotion means the subsequent forms get harder and harder. I'm on my ninth form, called "TaeGuk Yuk Jang".

For people who are hopelessly inept and uncoordinated (the dictionary for both of these words says See 'Charlie on the PA Tpk'), or for people who were born two left feet (yep, me again), these Forms have a horrendous learning curve.

So after the adult class, when there was about a 4 adults and 3 minors left, the instructor offered some of us personal critiquing of our forms. When there is a class of 20 or so, he does work with everyone, but as the class must move on, getting almost one-on-one attention is worthy of staying late, indeed.

Each of us were allowed (and encouraged, really) to watch the other's Forms for pointers and tips. After being treated to my critique (the man has a heart of gold, but the delivery of a Drill Sergeant), I got changed and was about to head out for the night with my 11 year old son. Out of the women's changing room came one of the other adults who had been reviewed after I had finished. She stepped out of the changing room wearing her white Do bok pants and a jog bra. She asked the Master if she could have just one more try at her Form.

Now I am hardly an expert in this type of garment, but there are some jog bras that are more ..... presentable I'll say .... than others. The one this gal had on was fairly thin in material thickness, was gray in color (like sweats), and was fairly wet considering her level of perspiration.

Yeah, you get the picture. This 35-or-so year old mom probably did not realize it wasn't the_best_idea to come out with out her TKD top on.

The Master turned and was about to agree when he saw her. His head turned to the remaining students in the Center, then back to her when he hissed "Get back inside and get dressed or 500 push-ups -- now!" I had never heard him so enraged before, but I can understand his concern with other minors in the place. True, one of them was the son of this mom, but his rule about being on the floor in anything less than a full Do bok is well know.

The fact that he and this gal are dating, a "secret" that is pretty much known to everyone, probably had something to do with his anger, since she ought to have known better about his rules.

She retreated, and he then shot a look at me. What were you looking at??

In all honesty, I replied I was only interested in admiring her form, Sir.

I turned and started to leave. As I ushered my son to the door, he called out to me You had better have meant her 'TaeGuk Yuk Jang', Chas!

Oh well, I almost I got away with the pun.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Why I blog

Hat tip to Alex at Three Sources who felt compelled to tag me on this meme :

  1. At the time I began, 80% of my work load was completed before 2 hours of the day had passed. Sure, that sounds great; now try it for 5 days a week for a few months.

  2. Deep inside, I'm just a frustrated stand-up comic

  3. After spending 2 hours commuting, each way, each day, I have a lot to say.

  4. Why not?

  5. Hoping for that one day I say something immensely relevant, or significant, or just funny. On that day, if I am fortunate enough to cause a Blogalanche, I'll hang it up.

  6. There is NO number 6.

  7. Hearing oneself think is one thing; being able to go back in time and reading what one thought is another. Yeah, I could use my own diary, but my handwriting sucks, and I am too lazy. Also, I can easily demonstrate to many that my beliefs and thoughts are well grounded and consistent.

  8. Provides me with pseudo-street cred so I can comment on other people's blogs and not leave the URL field blank.

  9. Other reasons may be found in my disclaimer.

  10. Spreading the love: Call me dull; if you wish to self-tag, be my guest.

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Long distace run around...

Subtitled: Tell me why I don't like Mondays....

So I got up early today... earlier than usual ... to beat the weather. Wind, rain, sleet, hail, pestilence ...

You get the idea, especially if you live on the East coast.

I decided to take my stand-by vehicle, the '92 Blazer. It was my go-to car for about 2 years, but was replaced in November with my '01 RAV-4. Being that it was so foul out, I figured a true 4-wheel drive might be better suited in case I - for whatever reason - had to get into the slop today.

So I headed out in the pouring rain, and occasional sleet, and motored down the highway. I-78 is where the rumbles started.... you know that odd sound of a the engine seemingly hesitating, but not really?

Maybe too much moisture in the air intake? The engine was hot enough to steam it away, but that would account for the rumble.
Maybe bad gas?

Soon, it became apparent: the fuel system was compromised. Either the fuel pump or the filter needs to be replaced. I determined this when I was passing someone and stalled. 5:15 AM: Not a good time to have that happen, let me tell you.

So the tow showed up about 40 minutes later... and after getting hooked up, we headed back. Now the snow was collecting at home, the wind was howling, and I decided it's just not worth it. So I am working remotely ... so long as the power holds out...

All that rain.... makes me feel like a schindleria praematurus ...

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Friday, April 13, 2007

The Imus Lynch Party

I know, I've gone a lot about Don Imus. He's been a daily companion for my 2 hour ride to work, every morning for 12 years. Recently, his show was streamed and I could catch much of the other 2 hours in the office. As a kid I laughed at the tales of Moby Worm and Rev. Billy Sol Hargus. I even have his book, God's Other Son (in hard cover). Yeah, I am that much of a fan.

One of his frequent guests was on the business end of a particularly rude joke. It went something like this:

People say some mean things about Pat Buchanan, but they really shouldn't. He lost his relative at Auschwitz ... he fell out of a guard tower.

If you think that's bad, that never stopped Mr. Buchanan from appearing on the show and laughing with Imus.

Nor did it prevent him from writing this:

In the end, it was not about Imus. It was about us.

Are we really a better country because, after he was publicly whipped for 10 days as the worst kind of racist, with whom no decent person could associate, he was thrown off the air?

Cards on the table.

This writer works for MSNBC, has been on the Imus show scores of times, watches Imus every morning, and likes the show, the music and the guys: the I-Man, Bernie, Charles and Tom Bowman.

And Imus is among the best interviewers in our business. Not only does he read and follow the news closely, he listens and probes as well as any interviewer in America. Because he is a comic, people mistake how good a questioner he is.

Is "Imus in the Morning" outrageous? Over the top at times? Are things said every week, if not every day, where you say, "He's going too far"? Yeah. But outrageousness is part of the show, whether the skits are of "Teddy Kennedy," "Reverend Falwell," "Mayor Nagin" or "The Cardinal."

And when Imus called the Rutgers women's basketball team "tattooed ... nappy-headed hos," he went over the top. The women deserved an apology. There was no cause, no call to use those terms. As Ann Coulter said, they were not fair game.

But Imus did apologize, again and again and again.

And lest we forget, these are athletes in their prime, the same age as young women in Iraq. They are not 5-year-old girls, and they are capable of brushing off an ignorant comment by a talk-show host who does not know them, or anything about them.

Who, after all, believed the slur was true? No one.

Compare, if you will, what was done to them – a single nasty insult – to the savage slanders for weeks on end of the Duke lacrosse team and the three players accused by a lying stripper of having gang-raped her at a frat party.

Duke faculty and talking heads took that occasion to vent their venom toward all white "jocks" on college campuses. Where are the demands for apologies from the talk-show hosts, guests, Duke faculty members and smear artists, all of whom bought into the lies about those Duke kids – because the lies comported with their hateful view of America?

And hate is what this is all about.

While the remarks of Imus and Bernie about the Rutgers women were indefensible, they were more unthinking and stupid than vicious and malicious. But malice is the right word to describe the howls for their show to be canceled and them to be driven from the airwaves – by phonies who endlessly prattle about the First Amendment.

The hypocrisy here was too thick to cut with a chainsaw.

What was the term the I-Man used? It was "hos," slang for whores, a term employed ad infinitum et ad nauseam by rap and hip-hop "artists." It is a term out of the African-American community. Yet, if any of a hundred rap singers has lost his contract or been driven from the airwaves for using it, maybe someone can tell me about it.

If the word "hos" is a filthy insult to decent black women, and it is, why are hip-hop artists and rap singers who use it incessantly not pariahs in the black community? Why would black politicians hobnob with them? Why are there no boycotts of the advertisers of the radio stations that play their degrading music?

Answer: The issue here is not the word Imus used. The issue is who Imus is – a white man, who used a term about black women only black folks are permitted to use with impunity and immunity.

Whatever Imus' sins, no one deserves to have Al Sharpton – hero of the Tawana Brawley hoax, resolute defender of the fake rape charge against half a dozen innocent guys, which ruined lives – sit in moral judgment upon them.

"It is our feeling that this is only the beginning. We must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves," says Sharpton. It says something about America that someone with Al's track record can claim the role of national censor.

Who is next? And why do we take it?

I did a bad thing, but I am not a bad person, says Imus. Indeed, whoever used his microphone to do more good for more people – be they the cancer kids of Imus Ranch, the families of Iraq war dead now more justly compensated because of the I-Man or the cause of a cure for autism?

"We know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodic fits of morality," said Lord Macaulay. Unfortunately, Macaulay never saw the likes of the Revs. Sharpton and Jackson.

Imus threw himself on the mercy of the court of elite opinion – and that court, pandering to the mob, lynched him. Yet, for all his sins, he was a better man than the lot of them rejoicing at the foot of the cottonwood tree.

The world will continue even without Imus. It will be a longer ride, for me, Monday morning, since morning radio (AM & FM) lacks anything at all of substance. But the bigger question that remains to be answered: who will be the next target of a few people, who simply do not like a choice of words being spoken?

Be careful... it could be you.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Gutless act against Imus

CBS pulls plug on Imus. To Hell with the charities! Freedom of speech is a vanishing right. Be afraid,

This mobile text message is brought to you by Cingular, now the new AT&T

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Who will stop him now?

'It is our feeling that this is only the beginning. We must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves' - Rev. Al Sharpton

Feeling empowered after MSNBC pulls the plug on Don Imus' simulcast, the Rev. Al Sharpton shows his hand.

A Liberal once again demonstrates that it is not about freedom of speech. It never has been.

Air America is a perfect example of how Liberal Talk Radio fails on the open market. The broader Talk Radio market is next.

Watch for it!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lying, backstabbing weasels

Effective immediately, MSNBC will no longer simulcast the "Imus in the Morning" radio program. This decision comes as a result of an ongoing review process, which initially included the announcement of a suspension. It also takes into account many conversations with our own employees. What matters to us most is that the men and women of NBC Universal have confidence in the values we have set for this company. This is the only decision that makes that possible. Once again, we apologize to the women of the Rutgers basketball team and to our viewers. We deeply regret the pain this incident has caused.

Statement from NBC News

What gets me is that line I've emphasized above. MSNBC has grown fat on Imus' ad revenue, so much so they've recently renewed his contract for another 5 years. And NOW, today, they've realized they have values?

Gutless, backstabbing weasels. In the end, Don Imus will retire, rich, and the majority of the suits at NBC will be out of work.

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On seeking the acceptance of an apology

Some vicious and vile things were said. Repentance is in order. He must go to them, head bowed, and admit what he said was wrong, was false, and seek an acceptance of a heart-felt apology.

I don't mean Don Imus; he's already arranged to do all of that. I mean Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who must apologize for the very mean-spirited and unfunny things said to the boys1 of Duke University.

Who else will join in my demand for this apology?

1I use the term boys here in the same way the term girls is used to describe the Rutgers Univ players.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Courting Conservative Voters

Look at the crop of declared and potential GOP candidates for President, and you'll find one thing very much in common: they're all trying to claim a Conservative birthrite.

Why is that? Could it be that they've studied recent American Political History and have seen that candidates who are Conservative and run Conservative-minded campaigns have an amazing win record? Could it be they are hoping to become the next Ronald Reagan and achieve the landslide victories he earned?

What else could explain this enchantment with the Conservative philosophy, the same one that many on the Left demonize, in spite of their efforts to court Conservative-minded Democrats in the last election?

For those who believe the Conservative movement has their savior in John McCain, be sure to review Mark Levin's piece on the good Senator.

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Free Speech, even when it is stupid, assailed again

So we learn today that Don Imus has been suspended for 2 weeks.... so why is he on air this morning? Well, we can't very well suspend him today, since he's kicking off the 18th annual Radiothon benefiting the Tomorrows Children's Fund, and the CJ Foundation for SIDS

So what the management of MSNBC and CBS radio is saying, in effect, is yes, you've done wrong, but we won't punish you before Monday, because that'll be bad press for the fundraiser we're doing.

I've been reminded to make my position clear: Imus and his on-air cohorts said a stupid, hurtful and unfunny statements in the guise of making a joke. I listen to the show daily, but didn't hear the comment, live, as I imagine most people didn't, but rather the endless YouTube and audio copies on the radio and TV.

The key thing to note: it was an alleged joke. He wasn't tyring to be hurtful, he wasn't trying to incite a riot. This is important. And what else is important? That he says dumb, stupid things everyday, and a few of them are funny, and most of the time they are harmless. But he targets everyone. Every one. There have been no sacred cows; every stereotype is open to his satire.

Case in point: for years, Imus features Cardinal Eagan (formerly, the late John Cardinal O'Connor) in an irreverent, satirical bit. All the while, one of the longest pair of friends of the program have been Msgr. Thomas Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman, known also as the God Squad.

People who don't know the show, who don't know Imus, are passing judgement on him; that is their right, but their judgement must be considered along with those who do know him and his show. I don't claim to know him, personally, but I do know his show. Once again, people are being persecuted for their speech, and in particular by those who are even more guilty of saying mean-spirited statements in anger.

Imus has apologized, publicly. He wants to apologize to the Rutgers team, in person. He neither expects his apology to be accepted, nor the event forgotten. He has pledged to be a better person going forward, and I believe him. Others have the right to doubt him, or even to insist he be fired. Those who want him fired ought to look to their own, favorite broadcast personalities to see what's in their past, what have they said in anger and whether they ought to be fired as well.

Part of Imus' appearance on Rev. Al Sharpton's radio show:

In just over 2 weeks, his show will be back on the air. Here's hoping he can bring the irreverent humor that has made his show so popular can carry on.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Quick Hits

Boy, oh boy, where to start?

I've been so busy I am giving up lunch for a quick trip on my thoughts:

  • A.G. Alberto Gonzalez: I believe him when he said he wasn't involved in the decision process when he was involved in the process. I believe he tasked his staff to make the decisions and he signed off on them; that is what managers do. This was a routine hiring/firing act, completely legitimate and above-board. His utter incompetence at handling the media frenzy of an otherwise simple matter, and the growing storm about it, might be grounds for dismissal. Give the loyal opposition another head, and they'll demand more. Unless and until he displeases President Bush, he should stay.
  • Speaker of the House of Representative, Nancy Pelosi: Congresswoman Pelosi -- or is it Congressperson? Speaker Pelosi does have every right to go on fact-finding missions, clearly. And, yes, on the taxpayers dime. Going to nations who are our enemies may be over-the-top. Ignoring the requests of the Executive branch could be considered inconsiderate. Changing the State Departments message on said nation is outrageous. Botching a simple message from our ally to that enemy stands on its own: she blew it, big time. So let's see... since January, the House has failed to anything meaningful, legislative-wise, and its Speaker has made herself and the body a laughing stock among our allies and enemies alike. Never doubt that elections have consequences!
  • John Donald Imus: This is probably the longest of my quick-hits posts for this installment. I've been a fan of Imus for over 30 years. He is like no other. Last week he crossed a line that he has regretted, and is now facing the music for that. Anyone who has listened to him for any length of time knows he is not a racist, a bigot or filled with any sort of hate. His shtick is to act as if he does, even recently dubbing the motto of the program We're not happy until you're not happy. I've spent some time over the last several days defending him to a bunch of critics at the ImusBlog, a blog written by an Imus fan, who has no connection to the man or the show. What surprised me most about those critics is nearly all of them hardly listen to his show (much like the most vocal critics of Rush Limbaugh, et al).

    Today Imus will be on the Rev. Al Sharpton Radio Show to face one of his most vocal critics. No one doubts the good deeds Rev. Sharpton has done through the years, but what of the bad things he has said and done? What about Freddy's, where he said we're going to see that this cracker suffers? What about Tawana Brawley and the baseless accusations he made on her behalf? When has Rev. Sharpton been called to account for these racist things? What about an apology? As in bad taste as what Mr. Imus did say, it was framed as humor. Can anyone demonstrate that what Rev. Sharpton was saying (in these examples) was anything but hate?

    Why is it when certain people say something inflammatory, there's an uproar, but when others say things at least as equally inflammatory, there's an automatic pass given. Case in point: what I said 3 years ago today.
  • N.Y. Mets: What? I haven't yet spoken about baseball this season? I really didn't notice the season had started until this weekend! That's when the Mets started to lose... coincidence? Who knows?

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Friday, April 06, 2007

So this is Easter...

So why I am seemingly fixated with another partial reference to John Lennon??

Time for another holiday, but this weekend will be a quiet one at home. Logistics, ironically what I base my career upon, makes heading to the folks in NYC unmanageable this weekend. So we'll make it happen next week, or so I hope.

Last week I got an e-mail from a friend of my, a guy I've known going on 25 years. Actually, it was through him I met my MBH, so this guy and I are friends, indeed! He sent me piece about Easter Pies, written by Bill Ervolino. Frequent readers may recall Mr. Ervolino is the same chap who wrote that hilarious Christmas post I keep referencing in this humble blog each year. I am pleased to provide the link to the site where Mr. Ervolino's work resides, and I encourage all of you read it and them come back here for a follow-up.

Are you done? If you aren't familiar with Italian Holiday Cooking, that may seem extreme to you, but trust me: it isn't far from the truth. In my family, the Easter Pie is called Pizzagaina and instead of soppressata we use prosciutto, ham, and sausage. The last thing you want to do is schedule a cholesterol test after Easter in my mom's kitchen. You see, it is the celebratory dish after 40 days of Lent. And no one bakes it like my mom, even if she wasn't born Italian!

This is an edit portion of the post I was to publish today... the second half is a story that I believe is worth telling but would take far more time than I have to get right. And in doing so, it may reveal more of my identity. Once again, I have no delusions of superhero grandeur.

The full post will also beg a question of politics to be answered, which I've been meaning to address, but will possibly open a whole kettle of discussion. While I welcome such discussion, and possibly debate, it would take far more time than I can adequately devote at this point.

Does any of that make sense, or is it just crap?

In either case - sense or crap - I'll leave it as is.... between the headaches of work and mom's heavy sigh that we're not coming this weekend, I've got about as much as I can handle.

Hoping your Easter is a bright one...

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

What a way to start the day

Stuck in traffic, in PARK, at 5 AM. Of course I'm better off than the
passengers in the wreck that made the road closed...

Charlie On The Pennsylvania Turnpike

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Holy Thursday

I only want to say
If there is a way
Take this cup away from me
for I don’t want to taste its poison,
Feel it burn me.
I have changed --
I’m not as sure as when we started


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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Same old same old

Captain's Quarters posts about yet another scandal at the United Nations:

As federal investigators examine how the leading U.N. agency in North Korea illegally kept 35 counterfeit American $100 bills in its possession for 12 years, documents indicate that more officials were aware of the existence of the fake currency — and earlier — than the agency has reported.

Spokesmen for the United Nations Development Program have said top officials at the agency's New York headquarters learned in February that their safe in Pyongyang contained the counterfeit bills and immediately reported it to American authorities. But several documents shown recently to The New York Sun indicate that higher-ups knew much earlier that the safe held counterfeit money. ...

Not surprisingly, the Treasury Department takes a dim view of this activity. The Secret Service wants to talk to at least 13 officials in the UN Development Program to determine their complicity in the counterfeiting ring. So far, the UN has not lifted immunity for those individuals, and they're not talking about when it will happen; a "senior UN official" told Avni that the UN and the Secret Service are "working out the modalities".

If federal prosecutors can return an indictment and confirm this activity, the UN will face a much tougher time in the US than it did in the Oil-for-Food Programme scandal. In that case, they turned a blind eye and enabled Saddam Hussein to enrich himself through a vast kickback scheme. If the UN helped hide North Korea's counterfeiting ring, that is a direct insult to our sovereignty, as well as our hospitality.

The more stories like this are revealed, the more sense it makes for the US to reconsider the United Nations, as a whole.

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