Thursday, May 29, 2008

Harvey Korman

Death bulletin - 29 May 2008

Actor Harvey Korman ("The Carol Burnett Show") died today of complications from an aortic aneurysm, age 81.
David Carson

I was pressed for time earlier;  Harvey Korman was a start on stage, film and TV, especially in his work with Carol Burnett.  When I last saw him on a TV special honoring Ms. Burnett's career, he did not look at all well, and was seated while his colleagues stood beside him.   His legendary comedy will live on, and he will be missed.

Some classic bits:

Hedley Lamarr: You will be risking your lives, whilst I will be risking an almost-certain Academy Award nomination for the Best Supporting Actor.
Broadway's ghost light will always be lit for Harvey.


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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An update on the bribery investigation involving Rep. William Jefferson, Democrat, Louisiana

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III has refused to dismiss bribery charges against .

Jefferson is accused of orchestrating a complicated, and multi-layered scheme to receive bribes from companies seeking business in Western Africa. Proving bribery against a lawmaker is difficult because prosecutors must show that the defendant provided an “official act” such as a voting a certain way or sponsoring legislation in return for money or items he received. His lawyers argued that Jefferson didn’t do anything in his capacity as a congressman that could be considered a bribe.

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III turned that legal theory on its head in his denial of the motion to dismiss, filed late last week. He ruled that bribery charges could be brought even if the activity in question doesn’t appear to fit into “responsibilities assigned by law.”

He said it is up to the jury to decide whether Jefferson’s promotion or advocacy of certain business projects to the politicians in the African countries and the travel associated with that are related to his duties as a congressman.

In his denial, Judge Ellis declared that the question of whether or not the government is able to prove its bribery case “is a question properly addressed at trial, not on a motion to dismiss an indictment.”

All he needs to do to mount his defense is to reach into his freezer and bring forth a few more blocks of cash to pay his attorneys and... oh, wait... that's how this whole thing got started in the first place!

h/t Flaps Blog

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Philadelphia Boy Scouts and a lesson on Civics

Generally speaking, I respond to comments inside the same thread of the post they originated. However, a post I made yesterday involving the Philadelphia Boy Scouts suing the city had prompted a comment that deserves being called out on in a post of it's own.

The comment left by Batman can be seen here but is reproduced as follows:

I guess I missed the part of the First Amendment where the government is required to subsidize your organization even if it disagrees with your message. This lawsuit will not work. If the people of Philly are dissatisfied with this result, then they will elect new leaders.
Now, to be certain, I am not an attorney (nor have I ever portrayed one on TV), but given the logic in Batman's post, either I was taught a dramatically different level of Civics 101, or perhaps he was absent that year, because he is clearly off-base.

BSA's Cradle of Liberty Council (COL) in Philadelphia has filed suit against the City of Philadelphia (PDF), and upon my reading it seems they have a legitimate complaint; it is very possible Batman hasn't taken the opportunity to read it before he expounded on the matter.    

  • COL contends that their 1st Amendment right of free association has been abridged by the City of Philadelphia. Their argument is that the City wants them evicted from their offices on the grounds that COL's membership is in conflict with the City's Fair Practices Ordinance.  To date, it appears the City has only pursued this course of action against COL, and not any of the ~100 leases containing similarly favorable terms granted to other organizations that limit membership or services to particular groups (i.e. Roman Catholic Church of the the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Zion Baptist Church, Women for Greater Philadelphia & Colonial Dames of America).  By focusing its energies on only the Scouts, it would appear that only COL's terms limiting membership (i.e. free association) are being considered a violation of the Fair Practices Ordinance.  
  • COL contends they reached a resolution with the City in 2004, and adopted a Non Discrimination Statement that was approved by COL, the National BSA Council, and the City.  To date, the City has never stated COL has violated this non discrimination statement.  Yet in 2005, the City demanded clarification from COL of the term unlawful discrimination used in the approved non discrimination statement.  18 months later, the City declared COL  had to abandon its constitutionally protected membership policy or pay fair market rent for its building, an amount reportedly more than double the per square foot rent for the highest priced space in the city.  COL contends that on the next business day, the Fairmount Park Commission voted to terminate the COL's use of its headquarters.  COL maintains it never received any notice of the meeting or the vote, nor was the matter on the published agenda for the Commission.   While discussions with COL and the City were ongoing, the Philadelphia City Council introduced and passed a resolution approving the eviction of COL on 31 May 2007 without notice to COL or debate within the Council.    

The City can easily and immediately repudiate the above claims by producing evidence that COL is/was in violation of the agreed upon Non Discrimination Statement, or by providing proof of public notice being issued (i.e. a copy of the Philadelphia Daily News or other such publication typically used for public notices), or showing evidence that organizations other than COL have faced eviction under similar manner which would demonstrate COL's constitutional right to Equal Protection wasn't violated.   Like I said: easy, right?
  • As for Batman's concern for COL being subsidized by the City... since the Scouts built the building with their own funds, and have maintained it for 80 years without cost to the City, and should the effort to evict COL succeed, the City of Philadelphia would take ownership of a property and building that has been substantially improved as compared to the plot granted by the City in 1928.  Since the published reports claim the City estimates the lease value of said building and property at about $200,000/yr  - in no small part to the maintenance and improvements made over the years -  due compensation to COL for these same improvements is only appropriate.  
Time will tell, of course.  And if Batman isn't pleased with the outcome, he, too, is invited to vote for new leaders.  Perhaps these next ones will have more experience in civics, but you can never be sure.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Philadelphia Boy Scouts Stand Strong

See below for update from BSA National Council

From the BSA/Cradle Of Liberty website:

The media has reported recently that the Philadelphia City Council has voted to remove the Boy Scouts from their headquarters downtown. The issues dealing with the building go back several years.

On Friday, May 23, 2008, the , filed a complaint (pdf) in Federal Court against the to protect the organization’s constitutional rights. This action comes after many months of discussion and every effort on the Council’s part to reach an amicable resolution with city officials regarding the Council’s headquarters at 22nd and Winter Streets.

Because its policies do not align with the views of officials in the city, the Cradle of Liberty Council was asked to vacate its historic headquarters or pay “fair market rent” for use of a facility the Scouts built, maintained and improved for the last 80 years at no cost to the City of Philadelphia. The First Amendment protects an organization’s right to determine its own policies. To suppress those opinions or policies, as the city seeks to do here, is unconstitutional.

It is truly unfortunate that this debate must continue and be played out through the legal system. However, the Cradle of Liberty Council must take the necessary actions to protect its rights and ensure continued service to the 53,000-plus young men and women in Philadelphia who are its true focus.

Thank you for your continued support.

We certainly encourage all Philadelphia volunteers and scouts to practice their civic responsibility and write your congressman about your thoughts and feelings on this issue.
Not surprisingly, the City Council has responded, as The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

City Solicitor Shelley R. Smith said the city would respond to the federal lawsuit and would likely file an eviction motion next week.

In the meantime, Smith added, the beginning of litigation would preserve the status quo pending a court ruling. Until that ruling occurs, Smith said, the scouts will be able to continue using the headquarters building.

This debate is far from over, but hopefully a national spotlight on the City Council's foolishness will help speed this debate to a sensible conclusion. Fortunately, the stay will hold off, at least for now, any eviction.

Scouts are accustomed to opening and closing ceremonies at meetings and events. Camping trips for example, are highlighted on the first day by the raising of the camp flag, along with a daily raising and lowering of the American flag. On the last day, the ceremony is most solemn, indicative of the end event. Scouts are a staple at many public ceremonies, too, ones with elected officials of all stripes in attendance.

Should the eviction order ever go forward - and make no mistake: I hope it doesn't, but even if it does go so far as the Supreme Court, do not forget that they upheld most of - Philadelphia will have to consider the media event of all those the Scouts in Class-A uniforms holding a closing ceremonies on the steps of their 80 year home on the last day of their occupancy.

I wonder if Mayor Nutter would be in attendance.

UPDATE: from :

Boy Scouts of America is watching closely the situation in Philadelphia and is prepared to support the Cradle of Liberty Council should the City take any action against the Council.

Although the Philadelphia situation is a local matter, it involves the constitutionally protected rights of the Scouts and all private organizations, which were affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2000. Canceling the lease or escalating the rent simply because Boy Scouts exercise their First Amendment rights, would violate the U.S. Constitution.

A move to evict the Cradle of Liberty Council also would unjustly enrich the City at Scouting's expense. Boy Scouts built the Council's headquarters in 1929 using its own funds and in the 79 years since has invested millions of dollars to renovate and maintain the building. The Council spent more than $1.5 million of its charitable resources for substantial renovations in 1994, and presently spends about $60,000 each year just to maintain the historic building.

Boy Scouts of America will support the Council's legal efforts to protect its rights and to receive fair treatment.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Why a city with its hand out should not slap the Boy Scouts

Philadelphia Inquirer OpEd page:

For many Pennsylvanians, it is hard to believe that the City of Brotherly Love is about to become the City That Booted the Boy Scouts.

Philadelphia officials are constantly imploring state government for special laws and special funding to respond to a host of serious urban problems, from gangs to dropouts, from gun violence to infrastructure decline.

So given the chance to take matters into their own hands, what group did city officials decide to target with their political concern and legal firepower?

The hard-to-believe answer: the Boy Scouts.

Each year at state budget time, the advocates for the City of Philadelphia put in requests for extraordinary state funding.

These requests come couched in terms of the health, safety, education and welfare of the children. Many times these are start-up efforts, meant to replace things that are not working, or aimed at substituting for families who have broken apart and neighborhoods that are falling apart.

Philadelphia's advocates are often mystified why Pennsylvania taxpayers are reluctant to pump additional money into the city. One of the reasons is that people in other parts of the state are frequently appalled by the actions they see, where the hopeful words said do not match the counterproductive actions taken by city government.

Even with this background, people outside Philadelphia were stunned to read in The Inquirer and the Wall Street Journal that the Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts soon will be evicted from its 80-year home.

Evict the Boy Scouts?

Evict them from a building they have paid substantial sums to renovate and maintain over the years? Jeopardize the future of an organization that instills kids with character-building concepts such as honor and service?

The choice given the scouts was an impossible one: accept a local policy they cannot abide by, or pay an escalated rent they cannot afford. This unfortunate and unnecessary confrontation has already had repercussions, cutting into contributions, which in turn leads to cuts in staffing and programming and puts the participation rate at risk.

This is a clear case of a political agenda being put ahead of the interests of tens of thousands of inner-city kids.

For many of these kids, this is one place where they find the structure, the trust, and the role models needed for healthy development. Many of the things that officials, volunteers and families want to see achieved for kids are taking place every day through scouting. Does anyone think the city will find a better alternative than the Boy Scouts?

And how has Philadelphia done in terms of running programs to support and protect youth? The sad saga of Safe and Sound would suggest not very well. The plug is getting pulled on Safe and Sound about the time the lease is being yanked from the Boy Scouts.

The timing is sadly ironic in another way: The city is giving the back of its hand to the Boy Scouts at the same time it is reaching out the other hand for tens of millions of dollars more from state taxpayers.

What lesson is being taught?

Any organization, no matter how long its tradition, no matter how strong its record of commitment, no matter how many youths it serves, may fall victim to an outburst of political correctness.

Philadelphia, which has run a lot of expensive tourism ads in recent months, once again comes across as a city where common sense is too often on vacation.

State Sen. Gib Armstrong, a Republican, represents the 13th District, which includes parts of Lancaster and York Counties. He is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

On Memorial Day, a prayer

H/t Conservative Belle:


- - - - - - -



On Memorial Day, we honor the heroes who have laid down their lives in the cause of freedom, resolve that they will forever be remembered by a grateful Nation, and pray that our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they have made.

Throughout our Nation's history, our course has been secured by brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. These courageous and selfless warriors have stepped forward to protect the Nation they love, fight for America's highest ideals, and show millions that a future of liberty is possible. Freedoms come at great costs, yet the world has been transformed in unimaginable ways because of the noble service and devotion to duty of these brave individuals. Our country honors the sacrifice made by those who have given their lives to spread the blessings of liberty and lay the foundations of peace, and we mourn their loss.

Today, our service men and women continue to inspire and strengthen our Nation, going above and beyond the call of duty as part of the greatest military the world has ever known. Americans are grateful to all those who have put on our Nation's uniform and to their families, and we will always remember their service and sacrifice for our freedoms.
On this solemn day our country unites to pay tribute to the fallen, who demonstrated the strength of their convictions and paid the cost of freedom. We pray for the members of our Armed Forces and their families, and we ask for God's continued guidance of our country.

In respect for their devotion to America, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved on May 11, 1950, as amended (64 Stat. 158), has requested the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. The Congress, by Public Law 106‑579, has also designated the minute beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 26, 2008, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day. I encourage the media to participate in these observances. I also request the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States, and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty‑second day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.


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Impersonal personalization

Here's a lesson to those who hope to have some career path in marketing on how not to do it:

And with all due respect to our friends across the pond, my own referral logs show that while I do get some traffic from Europe, I doubt severely the veracity of this humble blog  being number 1 in any of Wikio's rankings.

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Have we met?

Yesterday I spoke to one of the 2 senior managers in the office.

He: Are you coming in to the office tomorrow, or are you working from home?
Me: I'll be in.
He: Oh, good.  Being the holiday weekend, we'll probably be sent home early.  And somehow the 45 minute commute for a short day just doesn't seem to make any sense.
Me: ... Have we met?
He: Oh.. um... uh... well, you know, I...
Me: It's all good; I already told you I was coming in...
He then went on to advise that since neither he nor the other manager would be in, I'd have their on-site delegation.  While my commute is more than twice his, there was no point in my making a bigger deal about what he said.  Besides, it should be a quiet day today.

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I can say I knew her when...

Perhaps the phrase I knew her is a bit over the top.   However, I have been a fan of Michele Catalano's work for quite a while.  This Long Island, NY native blogger/photographer has made it to the big time, as she now a paid writer.    

First Lisa, now Michele : for those who aspire to things greater than simple blogging, let these ladies serve as examples of what you can achieve!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What do you mean you don't watch? How is that possible?

I entered the coffee room a short time ago and was greeted by a few colleagues who asked which David I liked.

Me: I haven't reviewed all of the resumes yet, so I don't know to whom you are referring.
He:  I told you he doesn't watch.
She: No, I mean David Hernandez Cook and David Archuleta1.   From American Idol.
Me: Oh.   Not a clue;  Dan is right, I don't watch the show.
She: Do you mean you missed last night's show?
Me: I mean I may have watched all of about 90 minutes of the show since it debuted.  Each season I give it a try, and about 8-10 minutes into the show I am reaching for the remote.
She: But it's a great show!
Me: OK... it's great you enjoy it.  
She: What do you mean you don't watch? How is that possible?
Me: What can I tell you?
She: So you don't care who wins?
Me: Have we just met?

1 In the interest of full disclosure: I had to Google the names of the contestants, and was later told David Hernandez was voted off weeks ago.

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Sen. Edward Kennedy

It would be easy to take a pot shot at the news of brain tumor.

I wouldn't wish that diagnosis on anyone.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nobody asked me about the Presidential campaign, but...

No one has exactly beaten a path to inquire my pick in this Presidential campaign, but a few things should be obvious to readers:

  • As I've indicated repeatedly, I do not believe either Senators or are fit to hold the office of President.
  • By default, and in our two party system, is my defacto candidate.
What I haven't said, however, should be noted:
  • Although I did not actively support the nomination of Sen. McCain, I have every intention on backing his election. That having been stated, I have more than a few issues with more than a few of his positions. On balance, I'd say I support about 65% of his declared platform. Not bad, but hardly a resounding endorsement, I realize.
  • There has been some rumors over who Sen. McCain might select as a running mate. While no formal announcement has been made, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I have remained silent during the GOP nomination process, because I wanted to stand up for Conservative principles (which I have done repeatedly in this humble blog for years) and let the system play out. In this political season, however, I intonated there was one candidate whom I would hate to have been the nominee.

    And I certainly hope he isn't the VP nominee, either, for the very same reasons.

Stay tuned.

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Sorry for the interruption

Due to my own negligence, a situation developed that led me to shut this blog to only authorized blog members (read: me) since Friday.   An issue arose that had the potential to cause this blog to be closed down permanently.  For now, at least, that situation has been resolved.

Time will tell.

To shamelessly borrow from the Bard, Read on McDuff.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Separated at Birth?

It's should be no surprise that I have almost silently rooted for to stay in the race, if for no other reason to cause turmoil in the DNC (cue 's Operation Chaos) but to also help expose the so-far weakly investigated legislative and personal background of .

And as I've said before: this fight will go on to the Convention... count on it.

But last night, as I watched some of the commentaries surrounding Sen. Clinton's latest primary win, the thought came to mind: who does Terry McAuliffe remind you of??

Separated at birth?

and former Iraqi Minister of Information,
Mohammed Saeed "Baghdad Bob" al-Sahaf

Notable quotes boost this theory:

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Meanwhile on the Left side of the radio dial

Things are still spinning wildly at . Last month saw the departure of to Nova M Radio (in a deal that reportedly paid her the same dollars as AAR had, altho the amount of freedom that contract provides may be quite different).

Next spin-out appears (for now) to be , whose 52-week contract has just expired, leaving AAR one less fill-in host for Rhodes' 3-6PM (ET) slot. A variety of guest hosts have been subbing for weeks now, with no clear direction on who will take that prime slot. is reportedly taking the slot this week, followed by the return to radio for Ron Kuby, former partner to on WABC (before ' resurrection).

I rarely found any common ground with Mr. Kuby's positions but he was always an entertaining speaker, particularly on matters of law. The unfortunate situation that led to he and Mr. Sliwa's cancellation could be partially resolved if he was given the slot full-time, although I wonder if his show would be at all successful in a solo gig (and I doubt there's a snowball's chance AAR would consider adding anyone to counter Kuby's position).

But can AAR survive with so few affiliate (in particular, their so-called flagship), and the constant loss of talent?

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sometimes people forget to think before speaking

  • I was at my local mechanic, early this morning. The co-owner, the mechanic's wife, is the person who almost always answers the phone, but on Thursday was otherwise unavailable. That I was waiting for my car's oil change instead of leaving the car was what prompted the following discussion:
She: What a surprise! We never get to chat, you always leave your car and pick it up long after we're done.
Me: Well, it was a surprise when you didn't answer the phone Thursday, so when Eric offered to get me in as the first customer, I couldn't pass it up.
She: Well, that was when I ran to the bank.
Me: I see; what I found weird for a second was that after he asked when I wanted my oil change, he said Why don't you come in first, at 8AM, on Saturday? I agreed and he was about to hang up when I asked Don't you want my name? But he told me he knew it was Charlie real-last-name.
She: Wow! How did he know it was you?
Me: .... I had assumed it was Caller-ID, but now I'm getting curious...
She: Oh yeah! I always forget we have that!
  • Phone call received right after lunch:
He: Hi, this is Ashley's coach... today's game is canceled.
Me: Wait... I think you have the wrong the number.
He: Look, I am busy today. Can you just tell Ashley there's no game?
Me: Look, I am telling you: there's no one named Ashley here.
He: Are you sure?

Hmmmm... think MBH (whose name isn't Ashley) would have appreciated if I asked her?

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Quick Hits

  • Wednesday morning, as I started out of my driveway, I burnt-out the driver-side headlight. The sky was clear and predawn at about 5AM, so it wasn't a huge inconvenience as I made my way to work. On the way there, I recalled I had swapped both halogen bulbs in February.

    History has taught me if one bulb burns out, the other side is likely to burn out before too long. So about 2 months ago I carefully removed the good bulb and inserted it into a plastic bag and saved it in my tool bag, as a spare for when the next bulb burnt out.

    I had the opportunity to work from home yesterday, so I didn't bother with the bulb Wednesday, knowing I'd have plenty of time to swap it on Thursday. On my way home from my work-out Wednesday night, the passenger-side bulb burnt out. So I am thinking the pair of bulbs I swapped out in February (they were sold as a 2-pack) probably was made in a defective production run. Fortunately, I was close enough to home to get by with my high-beams until I got to my driveway.

    Yesterday, on my way to the local NAPA parts dealer, both high-beams burnt out! I've never had 2 pair of filaments burn out at the same time. I swapped the two bulbs out but I am cautiously worried that perhaps something major is lurking under that hood.
  • Today I headed out to Hallmark to get MBH a Mom's Day card. Yeah, you think I am waiting until the last minute, huh? I stood 2-deep in the aisle - men and women - so at least i wasn't the only late one!
  • If the primary nomination is all wrapped up, why haven't all of the Super-Delegates declared yet?? I mean, I'm just asking....

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

AAR: Someone didn't get the memo

I've been a fan of talk-radio raconteur Lionel for many years. While his formerly Libertarian stance has become decidedly Left-wing after his move to AirAmericaRadio, he's still worth listening to, especially if you are interested in a variety of topics.

Today I was streaming 's show and heard a promo for afternoon talk-host Rachel Madow. The spot went like this:

This is Rachel Madow, and you can hear me every afternoon after the show, here on .

Huh, Guess none of the AAR engineers or their Traffic Manager got the memo that Randi Rhodes is no longer on AAR since early March.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

GEEK ALERT: An Engineer's Guide to Cats

Makes me despise my own cat a little less...

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Best laid plans of mice1.

Best laid plans of mice1.

So that tent still had to be dried out...

I made a deal with my son; he sets it up, I'll help him fold and roll it up. Seemed fair.

So he set it up in our yard in the late morning. The forecast was sun during the day, turning cloudy by nightfall, highs in mid 60s.

And of course, with the school year winding down to a few weeks, he's got his assignments to complete.

And we both forgot all about that tent.

And then the rain moved in. So if it was dry earlier, it's not any longer.

Let's hope tomorrow's forecast - sunny all day, highs in low 70s - is a lot more accurate that today's!

1Frankie Mouse: Still, the best laid plans of mice.
Arthur Dent: And men.
Frankie Mouse: What?
Arthur Dent: And men. The best laid plans of mice and men.
Frankie Mouse: What have men got to do with it?

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