Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Costume Party

A couple was invited to a swanky costume Party. She got a terrible headache and told her husband to go to the party alone. He being a devoted husband protested, but she argued and said she was going to take some aspirin and go to bed, and there was no need of his good time being spoiled by not going.

So he took his costume and away he went. The wife, after sleeping soundly for about an hour, awakened without pain and, as it was still early, decided to go the party.

Since her husband did not know what her costume was, she thought she would have some fun by watching her husband to see how he acted when she was not with him.

She joined the party and soon spotted her husband cavorting around on the dance floor, dancing with every nice chick he could, and copping a little feel here and a little kiss there. His wife sidled up to him and being a rather seductive babe herself, he left his current partner high and dry and devoted his time to the new babe that had just arrived. She let him go as far as he wished , naturally, since he was her husband.

Finally, he whispered a little proposition in her ear and she agreed, so off they went to one of the cars and had a little bang. Just before unmasking at midnight, she slipped away, went home, put the costume away and got into bed, wondering what kind of explanation he would make for his behavior.

She was sitting up reading when he came in, and she asked what kind of a time he had. He said: "Oh, the same old thing. You know I never have a good time when you're not there."

"Did you dance much?"

"I'll tell you, I never even danced one dance. When I got there, I met Pete, Bill Brown and some other guys, so we went into the den and played poker all evening. But you're not going to believe what happened to the guy I loaned my costume to......."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Help Make this a Reality

I wanted to send this to MoveOn.org but I can find any way to contact them (let me know if you have an email address or link please).

Here's what I would like to pitch: Billboards placed in large metropolitan areas (and anywhere else money allows) with gigantic close-ups of Bush and Cheney in jail, hands grasping the bars. Caption reading "Help make this a reality. Tell your congressperson to vote for impeachment."

Why? Because the vast majority of the public - even those against this war (and the next war too) get all the news they see from the mainstream media. They have no idea how rotten our government really is, or how close we have come to the complete ruination of all our founders really fought for. Put it out there on the freeway where they can't avoid it. Make the pictures big and plain and very obvious. And have everybody start envisioning Bush and Cheney behind bars whether they like them or not.

If this actually led to impeachment it would be nothing short of wonderful. But even if it just led to a greater awareness by everybody, that would itself be fantastic. You know without question that the right would be up in arms. Good. Even better, the local news would be all over this because of the outrage from the local right wing crackpots.

MoveOn would get the right's panties in a worse snit than when they called Petraeus a betrayer. This could really be big. And by the way, in case MoveOn really does get to read this: thank you MoveOn for not caving on your Petraeus ad. Thank you from all of us true patriots.

Keeping in Step

Two and a half years ago when we bought our house we bought two pallets of pavers for a project parallel to the driveway. This was a planter with a couple of juniper bushes and ugly white gravel. There was also an old basketball hoop on a bent post. Adios to the hoop and gravel and a couple of yards of dirt. Addition of filter fabric and crusher fines, then sand and the pavers and we had a beautiful new space.

And we had a good load of pavers left over as well.

Many moons ago I stacked these pavers against our front porch to create an additional step (Gerry complained that the porch slab was too high for a single step - and she was right). I stacked pavers at each end to create short pilasters and it looked kind of cool if a bit uneven.

I have since drawn up plans for the steps many times, in several configurations. Then with family coming for Thanksgiving this year we decided to make the installation permanent.

We had to buy a few more pavers (not many). Other than that I had crusher fines, sand and filter fabric left over from a back yard project from this past spring. I got some pressure treated wood for edging and that was it. Well actually we did shell out a bit more (a bit more than we expected too) on some landscape lighting to be included in the project.

We started the work last week Sunday - it was colder than Cheney's heart outside and we were both bundled to the hilt. We dug and compacted and laid filter fabric and laid crusher fines and sand and placed pavers nice and tight in place. It was tricky work because the stoop slab slopes away from the porch for drainage, and it twists to match the lateral slope of the driveway slab. But I needed to have the back of the pavers on either side of the stoop (the "wings") level so the new pilasters would sit plumb (my temporary installation these past two years always included tilting pilasters). The result is that the step I added now has two "faults" in it where its slope is discontinuous. It was either that or allowing the pilasters to tilt.

We completed the work yesterday (Saturday). It was an all day affair and we are both sore today, but it was well worth it.

Most of the plans I came up with earlier included the use of mortar between the pavers. But one thing I love about pavers and landscape masonry in general is that these things are usually laid dry (without the use of mortar). That works great for the ground level wings we laid last weekend, but not as well for the steps or pilasters. They tended to shift a little here and there and I needed to occasionally put things back in place or risk pilasters falling down, or folks tripping on a loose step paver.

But I really didn't want to use mortar. For one thing it's more of a mess to work with, but more importantly I just like the dry laid look. So we used Gorilla Glue. The instructions say it will work on masonry. They say it's waterproof (it can be used on under-water parts of boats). In fact, water is the catalyst that activates the glue.

So we glued our steps and pilasters together. You can see some whitish foam oozed out between the pavers in a couple spots. I'll clean that out today (a screwdriver does the trick nicely), and you won't even know that these pavers aren't laid dry.

Each pilaster has a small light placed near the bottom to illuminate the steps. Additionally we added five landscape lights in the planter to the right of the steps. We're going to plant ivy next to each pilaster and let it grow where it will.

Bonnie and I are very happy with this project. And we're closing up shop on outdoor projects for the year.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Search and Rescue

When the intrepid Steve Fossett disappeared a few months back, Google made its popular “Google Earth” program available, with a live feed, to amateur search and rescue buffs. This was all to no avail, I’m afraid, as Fossett has managed to stay lost – something I have contended all along he intended to do.

But I digress.

I would like to implore Google to lend their live Google Earth capabilities again for an even larger and more profound search. There is an island somewhere on this earth where George Bush and company have secreted away the families and loved ones of such folks as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Dianne Feinstein, and Jay Rockefeller to name just a few Democratic Senators and Congresspersons. That is the obvious answer to the question so many of us have been asking; i.e., “what do the Republicans have on the Democrats to force them to continue voting in favor of tyranny?”

It’s likely we’d find a few dozen balls stockpiled on that island as well.

Even Hillary seems to be a victim of this kidnapping. Come on, when’s the last time you heard anything about the whereabouts of Chelsea? I’m sure the covert Bush team considered kidnapping Bill, but then decided they ought to kidnap someone Hillary loves.

Do you think maybe Tony Blair has kin there too? I’d take that bet.

While we are at it, busily searching every square inch of the Pacific and Atlantic and Indian Oceans, we might as well search for Amelia Earhart’s missing plane and Kennedy and Monroe’s hidey-hole as well. Who knows, maybe Steve Fossett is hanging out with them.

Maybe Google would be kind enough to expand the search capabilities to dialysis-ready caves on the Afghan/Pakistan border. Then we might find the guy who helped give Bush and Buddies free reign over freedom. We’d probably interrupt Bush and Osama high-fiving each other over a meal of miniature rocky mountain oysters.

Demographic Reality

Gerry sent me this yesterday: World Population

It’s a clever demographic breakdown of the Human Race along all sorts of lines, using an imaginary village of 100 people to represent the entire species.

There are a lot of shocking truths buried in this report – spend a few minutes checking it out. The one the blew me away the most was this:

“1 (only one) would have a college education.” Only one person in our imaginary village of 100 people representing the entire human race has a college education. I find this disturbing in that it means the intellectual future of our species is being determined by a handful of white westerners. Look what wonderful things the white west has introduced to the world in the past century. If nobody else is being educated we have nobody else to champion an alternate path for our world.
I have contended for years that education is the highest goal we can achieve as a society. I renew that contention. But not only must we improve the state of education for our own (American) children to create parity with the remainder of the West (and some parts of Asia); we must be looking to educate the children of the world. Yes, I know, they need to be fed first. What is an education to a starving child? Of course the old adage, of teaching a woman to fish and thus feeding her for life, does come to mind.

FEMA Favoritism

Comparisons between FEMA’s response to the Southern California fires versus their response to Katrina in Louisiana are all over the place now as one might imagine. Mostly I see people voicing concerns that FEMA’s ineptitude will come to the fore before all this is done. I see others (like this article in the Christian Science Monitor) already celebrating the implementation of lesson’s learned from Katrina.

My observation is that comparing FEMA’s response between disasters is like comparing Marie Antoinette’s diet to Tiny Tim’s.

Demographically speaking, fires in Southern California are an occurrence primarily restricted to the hills. This means the primary victims are rich white people. We had the same situation when I was living in Oregon; the primary victims of landslides were rich white people (as opposed to poor white people, the only other demographic in Oregon).

The point is, the most numerous victims of Katrina were poor black people (along with some poor white people). Now I am not suggesting for a minute that accusations of racism by FEMA are founded. We all have our opinions on that and I’m not going to go there. But the fact remains, any comparison of FEMA’s response to these two very demographically different catastrophes is meaningless. Let’s compare the efficacy of diethylene-glycol in antifreeze and in children’s cough syrup.

If FEMA proves to be as bumbling in dealing with the California fires as they were with Katrina (What can Brown do for you?), we may actually be on to something. If on the other hand FEMA comes though this with high marks, we can really draw no conclusions. If we say, “well FEMA must have learned their lesson – look how well they performed,” we need to stop and ask ourselves, “or was it simply because the victims were of the kind favored by this administration?” On the other hand, if we begin with the supposition that FEMA is going to be predisposed to favoring white rich folks then we still can’t draw any conclusions from an improved response.
So ironically, we can only glean potential new understanding of FEMA today from a repeat failure, not from a success. Stories lauding success too early really are meaningless.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Overpass Art

I'm typing this on my laptop. My pretty new desktop is a brick. I'm going to go into the expensive paperweight business. Anybody want a $2k paperweight?

A techie was sent over by my desktop's manufacturer last night. He was there to exchange motherboards in hopes it would solve the Blue Screen of Death problem I have been experiencing on occasion. Well I guess success is all in how you define it. I am no longer occasionally experiencing blue screens. Now my computer won't do anything but blue screen.

(I was just looking at what I have written; realized I had used blue screen as both a noun and a verb, and considered what my mother's reaction to such sloppy language would have been. Then I realized that she died long before computers became ubiquitous and blue screen became part of our lexicon. Lucky her.)

And as my luck would have it, I have finally instituted a backup regime that turns out to have saved my data's bacon. I could go and drop the damned machine off a freeway overpass, into the path of a Mac truck, and I would not be in any worse shape data-wise than I am now. Of course the machine's makers are sending UPS out to retrieve my computer. I assume they will cannibalize it for needed parts, and throw the left over screws and chips to their children. They will be the ones to enjoy the evisceration of this infernal machine-turned-brick. I will only have the enjoyment of waiting to see if the new/refurbished/hand-me-down machine they send me is more flawed than the first or only sucks just as bad. At this point I'd almost be happy with a computer that blue screen's just occasionally.

If any of you truck drivers who read my blog (and I'm sure you are legion) see a computer drop into your path from an overpass, it won't be by me.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Colorado Rockies from a Train

Bonnie, Brandy and I spent last weekend in some of the most beautiful country I know. And relatively speaking, it’s in my back yard. I know some who visit these pages have never been “out west.” There’s no shame in that, but it’s a shame nonetheless.

Brandy turned 21 a month or so ago. One of the treats we conspired to make hers to savor was a ride in the “Parlor Car” of the Durango & Silverton Railroad in Southern Colorado. Bonnie and I spent a wonderful day in early January two years ago riding in this car pulled along as the caboose of an old train. This train rides the narrow rails laid down a century and a half ago through rough mountain country. The railroad itself was first laid in 9 months – right through the winter. The laborers lived in box cars. Or – and I’m not kidding – in caves.

Tracks have been ruined in floods in the intervening years. Between storms and fires and land ownership disputes, this quaint railroad has persevered. It is of course now protected by the Federal Government as a national treasure.

Look at these pictures. It really is a ride to be treasured. My stomach started that Saturday morning a week ago a little weak; I could have slept in a couple more hours. But I rode the rails where you need the legs of an old sailor to remain standing (and the stomach of a cast iron stove to remain sitting). The wheels on the tracks don’t clack … clack …clack. If they make any noise it’s a discomfiting crash and jangle, and you wonder what’s going to fall off the train. But the wheels do present the riders of these rails with a cadence nonetheless. This somnolent rhythm is like nothing so much as that of a small boat forever destined to ride the wake of a larger vessel. Back. Forth. Back. Forth.

Brandy loved the train ride. Either that or she’s a better negotiator than I give her credit for. No, I think she really liked our attention to the detail of her experience on this one. Despite urpy stomachs and an obscenely expensive dinner in Durango later that evening, this was an absolutely wonderful weekend. I love so much spending time with my wonderful daughter. Her powers of observation – now that they’ve matured beyond “whatever … ,” are really pleasant to observe.

John and Sandy – this is where you ought to go when you get here ahead of Thanksgiving this year.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What He Said

"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours"
- Stephen Roberts

Alright I guess I shouldn't just dump that quote there. I know several folks who frequent these pages are religious (or devout, or spiritual, or something else that I am not). I don't mean to disparage your belief system.

It's just that I'm an atheist. Some of you know that. Well, of course, now all of you know that. And it's no big deal. I rarely discuss it here. There are forums for that; forums where's I'm not one of a 15% minority. But I was listening to the radio yesterday and the host (with whom I generally agree, and whom I respect) stated categorically that atheism was a religion. I shot back at this absurdity by obtaining a membership to his cabal and starting a discussion on his forum.

The responses have been rapid and avid and often ridiculous. And a few have been brilliant. I wish I could say the same for my comments. Regardless, I found the quote I posted above and find I love it.

But I'm friends with anybody, no matter your religion. Just don't try to shove it down my throat.

And don't vote Republican. Your god won't forgive you that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

There is a Point.

When I was a young teenager I experienced a world that had gone for awhile crazy enough to filter into my politically neutral life. I was going to say "my normal life," but my life wasn't normal. It was however separate from the strife in the streets of the 60's.

But then my dad went to Viet Nam, and subsequently quit the Reserves after his stint there. My parents started befriending Hippies. Our family went skinny dipping. My folks enjoyed weed on occasion (as did I with a more voracious appitite a few years later). And discussions of society pervaded our lives.

I cried out to be an adult then. It wasn't the pot (not especially anyway). It was the sense of belonging to something bigger than me. Or maybe it was simply something big in its own right. But the war was over before I got out of high school - and I missed the draft by mere months - and the counter culture lost its meaning overnight.

And I missed the boat.

But I think a new boat is a-sailing. I think we are finally reviving the life blood that moves slow and deep in our American veins. Since growing up during Viet Nam and its aftermath and consequences, I have harbored the ambivalence toward our country that many liberals do. Not so anymore. I have found what it is about America that I am fiercely proud of, and what it is I most fear we are going to lose forever. My ambivalence about the concept of patriotism has finally been resolved. And those who lie about their patriotism in order to rape our citizens and the citizens of the world are largely responsible for helping me understand that.

I am a small part of something that is big. It's big because it must be. It's big because the dream of America (no, not to be rich - that's a lie perpetrated by the right; but to be FREE) is the best possible future for humankind. And if humans can evolve so that at least the most enlightened of us can understand, perhaps we can evolve enough to embrace FREEDOM as a species.

Be very careful though; FREEDOM is probably the most masqueraded attribute in the world. Don't let Ron Paul fool you into thinking that freedom from all government regulation for corporations is FREEDOM. The freedom to work (or not) is touted by the anti-unionists. That is not FREEDOM. I guarantee you that thousands of Americans and Iraqi's did not die, and do not continue to die, for FREEDOM's sake.

Freedom is a child living from birth to death without fear of its government or those who have a natural advantage over it due to size, might or power. Freedom is the ability to engage honestly with the world and with our neighbors.

And freedom is my right to ramble. And it's a bad habit. But I am willing to die for my right to ramble. Or for yours.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pundit Phlem

I just realized what's been nagging at me for the last few days. Rush Limp Paw calling our slain and wounded heroes "phony." The Ditto Master himself doctoring the recordings and lying to his fans about what he really said later. The power of the Senate reproving Right America's drug addled favorite's employer for his vitriolic comments.

We have a war in Washington over this fat gas bag's verbal farts. Republicans say it's no more than comeuppance for Move On's Betray Us ad. And honestly, I agree. If nobody had jumped out (and I like David Brock of Media Matters, so this is not an attack), and condemned Rush, his tirade would likely have played to the troops in Iraq, un-cut. The damage to Rush (and his corporate puppeteers) would have been much greater.

But do you remember the news a week earlier? Bill O'Riley had provided anecdotal evidence of his bigotry towards blacks. The left was jumping up and down on that and the Billy Bumbler* sputtered his denials with reasoning and subterfuge almost equal in gall to Limbaugh's. Jesse and Al were notably outraged. And which Senator was it who called for the censure of Riley? Oh yeah, that's right. Not a one. Not even Barak Obama if that should make a difference.

I have great respect for our troops. I mean that. But we do not have a draft, so therefore every one of our troops is a volunteer. I understand that poverty and hopelessness play an enormous part in enlistment, but these youngsters made up their own minds nonetheless. Somehow I cannot quite accept the argument that soldiers deserve the rights of our constitution just a little more than anyone else. It's like the idea that cop killers are more culpable than civilian killers. Bullshit. Nobody is forced to be a cop.

Citizens (black citizens) are being threatened with more vitriol than we have seen in at least 2 decades. Ok, that's an opinion. It would take some studying (and careful definition of parameters) to determine if what I am opining is true or not. But I can see it happening and I'm saying what I feel in my gut (sue me). O'Rielly is openly (with an oh shucks, you thought I meant WHAT? attitude) racist. The Jena 6 lynching is dividing black and white like nothing since the 60's. Blacks are being targeted for intimidation by those perpetrating election fraud.

Are we supposed to be surprised? We have a Decider in Chief who is an open bigot (his brand of religion is racist against Arabs).

And it's not just divisions by race that are being targeted. The poor are thrown aside to near insignificance. Children are eyed as slaves were of old; they will become workers and consumers - keep them nourished ... economically. Education is only for the rich. Or bought at the high cost of indebtedness.

I honor our soldiers. But I cry for our children.

*Name stolen with fondness from Stephen King

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Clean Sheets

Interesting results to my when do you wash your sheets survey. So when I'm suffering sleeping on a sheet crisp from the dryer, I should instead be enjoing another 3 or 4 months on a soft well worn sheet.

I think there are a lot of people who do things because they assume (for all kinds of reasons, including none at all) that it's the right thing to do. Reason isn't employed at all. People go to church because of it. It's a major factor in people buying (and eating) things they don't need, and maybe shouldn't have. It helped shape an American public into one ready and willing to go to war without reason, and at huge detriment to ourselves, the Iraqi's and the world.

A lot of what people think they are thinking isn't their thought at all. They have learned what people they feel akin to do and think, and they merely adopt conclusions reached without thought.

Question everything. Look at what you see. Think about the things you touch and use. Understand your connection.

And leave your sheets alone for six months.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Missing the Point

I just saw a headline which read, "Does Britney Deserve to Lose Custody?" I won't even bother reading the article because we're already deluged ad nauseum with information about this sad person.

But isn't the question being asked a complete non-sequitur? Isn't the real question, "Do Britney's children deserve to have a better-suited guardian?" I know celebrity news is all about vacuous-minded bimbos and nimrods. And I know this "news" is deliberately delivered with all the depth of a dried-up puddle. But this article comes from Time Magazine. Doesn't Time claim to be a little more than a celebrity rag? Doesn't Time claim to be relevant?

And isn't the relevance, in any discussion about this sad state of affairs, the children? I mean the tragedy of Ms. Spears' life is (IMHO) all about childhood's premature end. It reeks of a greedy industry wantonly using and using up those who supply talent to that industry. People like Britney Spears should be the expected product of this industry. And then not only is this all about children with regard to how they are treated by this voracious industry; it is also about children with regard to the neglect the starlet's own children have ultimately received. It is least of all about the fortunes of spoiled adults.

Why is nobody examining the music industry as a culprit? Why is nobody making a case for child protection? Even the "fans" who stand up for Britney seem to be missing the point. Does she deserve to lose the custody of her kids? The kids are the victims all throughout this story.