Parkway Rest Stop


Jack Bog
Ultimate Insult
Yakety Yak
How Appealing
Ipse Dixit
Attu Sees All
The Presurfer
Res Ipsa Loquitur
Rachel Lucas (on hiatus)
a small victory
Peppermint Patty
Balloon Juice
Da Goddess
Curmudgeonly & Skeptical
Power Line
Electric Venom
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Margi Lowry
Sgt. Hook
Gut Rumbles
The Laughing Wolf
Not Quite Tea and Crumpets
On The Third Hand
Right We Are (Closed)
Mudville Gazette
The Country Store
Zogby Blog
Single Southern Guy
Ravenwood's Universe
Resurrection Song
The Spoons Experience
Side Salad
Bloviating Inanities
Serenity's Journal
Babel On!
Jay Solo's Verbosity
Sketches of Strain (Closed)
In Sheeps Clothing
The Accidental Jedi (on hiatus)
Straignt White Guy
The Cheese Stands Alone
Dax Montana
Tasty Manatees
Trying to Grok
Unbillable Hours
~ Monday, June 30, 2003
Gassing Geese in the Garden State.
Union County, New Jersey officials have decided to round up and kill the approximately 2,700 Canada geese that have taken up residence in several of the county’s public parks, recreation areas and golf courses. The birds are to be captured in the early morning hours over the next few days and gassed with carbon dioxide in an on-site truck.

County officials reported that other more animal-friendly methods to get the birds to go elsewhere have been tried, such as using border collies and manning motorboats to frighten them away. The county sprayed chemicals to deter the birds from landing and nesting. This spring, the county even launched a program to locate the nesting sites and cover the eggs they found with a special oil that would prevent them from hatching. Nothing worked.

The Federal Wildlife Services has opined that asphyxiating the geese with carbon dioxide is “…humane and legal,” but, predictably, the local representative of the Humane Society disagrees, and considers the use of carbon dioxide as inhumane “mass killing.”

Similarly, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Audubon Society blamed the problem on “too much lawn mowing,” pointing out that large grassy tracts are a magnet for the birds. The Society urged that the geese would be less attracted to the County’s parks if the County were to permit grassy areas, currently mowed, to return to their natural state.

The reason for this seemingly draconian action on the part of the County is that each adult goose produces approximately one pound of goose ca-ca per day. By my pedestrian math, that’s almost two tons per day and forty-two tons per month of nasty, green goose crap.

I admit that the idea of birds being gassed in the back of a truck is not something I find to be particularly attractive, but I am familiar with at least one of the parks in question, and I have to say that the geese and their collective daily output of goose crap have rendered the place unsuitable for use by people.

In short, it’s really gross.

I suppose that dispatching the animals one at a time might be preferable (but also not pretty), and it would cost the taxpayers significantly more than the $20,000 that has been allocated for the project. And, as for allowing the parks to return to their natural state, I can only say that they are, after all, parks, not wildlife preserves. Believe it or not, New Jersey has plenty of nearby places for birds to safely hang out (i.e. wildlife preserves), but unfortunately for the geese, county parks, county golf courses and county recreation areas are not among them. Those places have been set aside for people.

And you thought the only thing that we have to deal with in Jersey is the mob.
~ Sunday, June 29, 2003
A Long-Overdue Website.
A huge thanks to The Country Store (June 29 post - permalink fried) for pointing us to The Modern Drunkard, a website chock full of things of interest to those of us who enjoy spirits of the liquid kind. For example, there is a section called “Great Moments in the History of Hooch,” which contains a timeline of the history of alcoholic beverages starting with 4,000,000 BC and working its way up to today. Here is the entry for 30 AD:

“30 AD Performing his first miracle, Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding, rescuing the occasion from becoming a dull affair. Christ's entourage soon doubles.”

In addition to a section called “Booze News,” there are other gems such as old (and quite funny) liquor and beer advertisements.

One could easily spend a “Happy Hour” at this site. Cheers!
New Logo.
Drumwaster has got a new logo. I like it. Go take a look.

Speaking of logos, for Father’s Day, TJ arranged with a graphic artist to design a logo for this site. I have selected the basic design. It is being tweaked a bit, but should be up in the near future.

A logo? Who’da thunk it?
~ Saturday, June 28, 2003
Nice Day, New Links.
FINALLY, we have a nice Saturday in the Garden State. Right now, it is sunny and warm, with low humidity. It seems we went from too much snow, to too much rain, to too much heat way too fast. But, I should stop bitching and enjoy the day.

Before I head across town to spend the day with good friends bobbing around in the pool, eating burgers and drinking copious amounts of vodka with seltzer (with big pieces of lemon) - this summer’s drink of choice – I want to call your attention to some new links in the Blogroll. I suspect that you are familiar with some of them, but I figure that all of you will not be familiar with all of them, so here they are:

Zogby Blog. A Jersey Blogger who has an excellent take on the national scene, and who also keeps a watchful eye on Atlantic City – Jersey’s GlitzTown.

A Single Southern Guy in the South. I became acquainted with Adam’s site when he hosted the recent Carnival of the Vanities and did so with the finest of southern hospitality. I like his style. Besides, he is a friend of Rita’s, and any friend of Rita’s is a friend of mine.

Ravenwood’s Universe. This is a great site, loaded with interesting and amusing content. It has been sitting on my bookmark list for far too long, sometimes causing me to miss a daily read. This will fix that.

Resurrection Song. I came to this site via Craig at mtpolitics and have been a regular visitor for some time. In addition, anyone who would post the story about a guy being stabbed to death at a birthday party for singing a Frank Sinatra song off key definitely gets blogrolled.

DynamoBuzz. Another Jersey Blogger, who vacations Down the Shore and who thinks our governor is a putz. What’s not to like?
Just too Farookin’ Tired.
I’m too tired to write anything. Hell, I’m even too tired to read other people’s stuff. See ya over the weekend.
~ Wednesday, June 25, 2003
The Atlantic City Between the Casinos.
“It's no wonder we call the Atlantic City Council Meetings the Jerry Springer Show.” So says Zogby Blog in a post describing the public comment portion of a recent City Council meeting. It seems that HUD has decided that it no longer makes sense to continue to subsidize a couple local rundown buildings. The goal is to encourage the landlords to make improvements. The people who live in these places showed up to demand that the City pick up the slack.

One “enterprising” resident said, “People deserve affordable houses whether they work or not.” I assume that this non-worker would like affordable housing with a nice front porch on which to sit and watch the people who are paying for his housing drag their asses off to work every day.

Another local added this pearl of wisdom to the discussion: “Some people have summer homes here that are empty most of the time. Just because they paid for them, they get to keep them? That ain't fair!” Interesting idea. Let’s seize those houses, at least during the winter months, and turn them over to the people who didn’t pay for them. Fairness in spades, I’d say. Well, even if I wouldn't say so, Karl Marx certainly would.

Apparently no one on the City Council took issue with either statement.

Yep. Jerry Springer it is.

Note: As of this writing the permalink is not working (sigh), so you may have to scroll down to the June 24, 2003 entry, entitled Gimme Shelter.
Send in the Clowns, Not! Here’s the thing. I hate clowns. I cannot remember ever not hating clowns, although, until quite recently, I never mentioned it much. In fact, as a boy, I never mentioned it at all. I suppose I feared that my peers and adults might think that there was something wrong with me for not liking clowns. Even worse, I worried that there might be something wrong with me because I didn’t like clowns or the circus, the place where one most often finds clowns. After all, a trip to New York’s Madison Square Garden to see the circus was supposed to be a treat, no? Therefore, I never refused a trip to the circus, because I thought that perhaps with repeated visits, I would eventually get to like the circus and even the clowns.

It never happened. I thought the circus, with its three rings, was too busy, too smelly, and not terribly entertaining. I couldn’t discern the attraction of many, if not all, of the acts that the circus featured. I questioned why some damned fool would willingly be shot from a cannon. I found myself wondering if the nutbar doing flips on the tightrope without a net really thought he had to do such reckless things for my benefit. It was the same with the “Flying Whomevers” doing a death-defying trapeze stunt (of course, without a net) that had never been done before. Why?

The animal acts also never moved me. As such, I never found it the least bit engaging to watch people dressed in sequined shirts making elephants do non-elephant things. In fact, a huge elephant being coaxed (or prodded) to stand with all four feet on a tiny platform and then spin around always seemed a little sad to me. Similarly, I could never understand what people saw in the obligatory “lion tamer” tormenting the lions with a chair (why a chair?), a whip and a blank pistol. Were the people in the audience waiting for the lions to finally become angry enough to eat their tormentor? Even though he probably would have had it coming, watching him become lion fodder was not something I wanted to see.

And there were the clowns.

While I simply could not understand the allure of human cannon balls, tightrope walkers, trapeze people, dancing elephants and lion tamers, it was different with the clowns. I really hated the clowns. I was not afraid of them; I just hated them. I never bothered to try to articulate the reasons for my clown animus even to myself, let alone trying to explain it to others.

Then, one day several years ago, I was eating lunch with several colleagues, and the topics of that day’s lunch conversation focused on the circus and clowns. I had not participated in the conversation. I was really only half paying attention. Then, and all of a sudden, it all came back lake a hammer blow. I looked up from my plate and said, “I f****** hate clowns.”

The conversation at the table immediately ceased, as all five of my lunch partners looked at me as if I had just stepped from an alien spacecraft. At least one person dropped his silverware. “What did you say?” one of my female colleagues asked.

“I f****** hate clowns,” I repeated. There it was. I said it not just once but twice. I wondered then why it took me several decades to say it, when saying it felt so good.

Everyone at the lunch table howled with laughter and insisted that I was joking. I assured them that I was not, and that I really did not like clowns. I was on a roll – no stopping me now.

“You gotta be kidding us. Everybody loves clowns. What could you possibly have against clowns?”

I don’t know where the answer came from; I can only assume that it had formulated itself deep within my subconscious and lay dormant there for decades, because without a single moment’s hesitation I responded, “Why would anyone like a garishly dressed adult, made up to appear to be deformed, acting erratically like some mentally deranged person?”

They howled some more, and by this time, I was laughing with them, thinking about what I had just said. “No, come on. Be serious. You really don’t like clowns?”

Still laughing, I said, “No, I don’t. I can’t stand them.”

“But why? They’re supposed to look funny. They’re clowns! It’s got to be more than that, they insisted.”

Now, for the first time in decades, I actually gave it a minute’s thought, and I responded, “I hate clowns because they feel that by virtue of being clowns they can invade your personal space with impunity. They can walk up to you and pretend they are going to throw a bucket of water on you, and the bucket turns out to be full of confetti. They can get in your face and f*** around with your tie, or mess your hair and you’re supposed to laugh and enjoy all that. If anyone other than a clown did that, you’d push him away and tell him ‘get the f*** out of my face, asshole’.” It felt so good to say these things, and they were all true.

Think about it. What is a small child’s first reaction to a clown? The child typically recoils in fear, which is completely understandable. To a child’s eyes, a clown with huge floppy feet, and a painted face is a horribly grotesque monster. Only when the parent assures the child that she will not be hurt by clowns and insists that clowns are actually funny, does the child’s perception change. You needn’t go to a circus to see this in action. You need only watch very young children’s first exposure to Santa Claus in a department store. They often scream with terror and cling to their mothers for dear life. I’m not suggesting that ol’ St. Nick is a clown, but you get the picture.

Since that day in the lunchroom, several things have happened. My colleagues take every opportunity to send me pictures of clowns and place little clown dolls on my desk. I can always count on receiving clown birthday cards, and newspaper clippings about things such as clown funerals, clown conventions (we actually had one this summer in Jersey) and clown weddings (you won’t believe this).

The good news is that I have since learned that I am not alone. There are lots of people who hate clowns. It turns out that each time I am asked (for humor’s sake) to relate my feelings about clowns, it produces the predictable incredulity and laughter. However, invariably there are at least one or two of the listeners who confess that they (or their children) don’t like clowns. Hell, there are even websites for those of us who don’t like clowns. Take a look at I Hate Clowns and Clownz.

So, if you are interested in going to a place where you are guaranteed not to run into me, I suggest the circus.

What about mimes, you ask? Don’t even get me started.
Cape May Visit. Just returned from a long weekend trip with friends to Cape May, Jersey’s oldest seashore resort. The town is noted for its Victorian Homes, beautiful beach, great dining, and lots of places to shop. The Christmas season is special in Cape May. While other seashore resorts are pretty well buttoned up for the winter, during Christmas season Cape May comes alive, at least on the weekends. The streets, shops, and restaurants are full of people bundled up against the cold wind that whips in off the ocean. And the local residents as well as the proprietors of the many, many Bed and Breakfasts decorate the Victorian mansions beautifully.

Our plan, to the extent we had one, was to eat too much, drink too much, spend too much money, and have lots of laughs. The trip was a success on all counts (although it will be salad and soft drinks for me for the next week or so).

We arrived on Thursday afternoon, and it seemed as if we were the only “tourists” in the town. We walked down a deserted Washington Street Mall, the place where most of the activity normally takes place. We wondered if we had the whole Cape May Christmas Thing wrong, but two of our number had been there before during the Christmas Season and assured us that Friday and Saturday would be different.

Fortunately, our favorite saloon, The Ugly Mug, was open, with plenty of places to sit. We were all hungry and settled in for cocktails (having already gotten a head start upon arrival with brought-from-home champagne and chilled Finlandia Cranberry Vodka on the rocks) and copious amounts of heavy-duty pub food. We topped it off with hot “Apple Knockers,” made with Lairds Applejack (a product of New Jersey), cider, “natural flavors., and an apple slice.”

Now, fairly well oiled, we took a walk to (oy!) a liquor store to pick up some wine for the BYO restaurants in town that we planned to visit, and while we were there we spotted Smirnoff Green Apple Twist Vodka - something new. Well, after the Finlandia cranberry and Laird’s Apple Knockers, this seemed like a natural for a nightcap or four. It was excellent. All you need is a glass and some ice.

The next day, marked the beginning of the influx of people that culminated with the place being mobbed. Being somewhat ragged around the edges from the night before, we went for a “Fisherman’s Breakfast” (read, big) at a local restaurant called “Dock Mike’s.” The pancakes are huge and out of this world.
We then did the real tourist thing and took the trolley (actually a bus that looks like a trolley car) tour of Cape May to learn about its rich history and architecture. The tour was nice, but I think I may have learned a little more about mansard roofing than I needed to know. The tour also included a visit to the Emlen Physick Estate. Two ladies, dressed in Victorian garb and completely in character as Emlen’s mother and aunt, took “their visitors” (i.e. tourists) on a tour of the mansion. Usually, the theme of the tour is the mansion’s architecture, but during the holidays, the place is all done up in preparation for a Victorian “Christmas Dinner,” and the tour focuses on a typical Victorian Christmas (typical for seriously moneyed folks in the 1800’s, anyway). The ladies say cute things like, “Isn’t it wonderful how we can now eat vegetables during the winter, and they are as fresh as they can be. I just ‘love’ the new canned vegetables, don’t you?”
Naturally, we spent what seemed to be endless time shopping in cutesy little shops and even attended a Christmas Craft Show in Cape May’s Convention Hall, which collectively proved two things to me: One, I think I have finally hit the wall looking at Christmas doodads, and two, people positively swarm to look at and buy Christmas doodads. I had assumed that a couple dozen or so little old ladies would attend the craft fair. Wrong! Within thirty minutes of opening, Convention Hall was absolutely packed. Go figure.
In order to escape the crowds in the main part of town, we took a shot for lunch at a place about a mile or so from all the action, and what a find it turned out to be. It is called “Yesterday’s Sports Heroes Café.” It is a sports fan’s paradise. It boasts the largest public display of Babe Ruth memorabilia in the world. Customers are greeted by a life-size talking Babe Ruth robot that periodically tells stories about his life (the Babe’s life, not the robot’s). There are signed jerseys all over the place (each a game jersey e.g. Joe Dimaggio’s), a zillion baseballs, all signed, mitts, bats, and even stadium seats. No description could do it justice. You have to see it to believe it. Even the bar is covered with laminated, presumably very valuable old baseball cards. Not surprisingly, there is also tons of signed Mickey Mantle stuff. The bedazzled patrons can even touch the handles of the Babe’s and Sammy Sosa’s bats. An extra bonus…the food is great!
Dinners: Our Friday night and Saturday night dinners were also first class. Friday was Cucina Rosa and Saturday was Godmother’s (we tend to gravitate to Italian restaurants). Both places are BYO, but curiously one can buy wine at either place, but only wine made in Cape May from grapes grown in Cape May county. On Saturday, we decided to give a $26.00 bottle of Cape May Winery Merlot a try. I am a strong advocate of the Garden State, but California need not worry that New Jersey will put it out of the wine business. (Query: Does an ordinance that prohibits Cape May restaurants from selling wine unless it is Cape May wine violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution?) I’ll think about that another time. In the meantime, I’ll bring my own, thank you.
On the long ride home on the Garden State Parkway, we listened to the soundtrack from “Standing in the Shadows of Motown,” the story of the Funk Brothers, without whom there would be no Motown sound as we know it, and about whom nothing much was ever said for far too long. I have not seen the movie yet, but my cousin Jack has, and he has written a great review on Yakety Yak.
All in all, it was a great getaway, even if I returnedf overfed, overspent, overtired, and slightly bleary-eyed. Tomorrow, back to the grind.
Sopranos’ Loose Ends. Of course, I am a regular Sopranos viewer, and I make no apologies for that. I understand and appreciate how tiring it must be for non-viewers (almost all of whom do not have HBO) to listen to the Sopranos fans’ Monday analysis of the previous night’s program and how, to the non-fans, it sounds a good deal like the discussion of like a soap opera. With a few unfortunate exceptions in the most recent season, it is decidedly not a soap opera. It is well crafted, sometimes upsetting, and often hilarious in the darkest sense of the word.

The problem is that there is only one episode remaining in the season and there are just too many loose ends out there to be resolved in one episode, thereby leaving the viewers hanging for what might be another extremely long time. Unfortunately, I am beginning to sense that either the producer and writers are running out of creative gas, or they are beginning to take the audience for granted. Probably it is a bit of both.

Anyway, here are some of the loose ends, any of which left unresolved will drive us loyalists crazy.

Tony: How will he deal with the mess that has become his crime family? Will he learn of Paulie’s abortive betrayal? Can he trust his nephew Christopher to kick drugs and maintain his silence about Tony’s brutal murder of Ralph? Will he learn of his wife’s romantic feelings for Furio? Will he continue to see Dr. Melfi, his psychiatrist? Will he make a play for her? Will he learn of her rape? If so, will he even the score with the rapist? Will his fits of depression and panic subside? Will anything come of his having beaten the crooked councilman with his belt? Will he take Johnny Sack’s lead and kill Carmine, the head of the New York family. And, don’t forget that he personally committed four murders (Ralphie, the kid who shot Chris, the guy he spotted while taking his daughter around to colleges and strangled and Big Pussy), any one of which arguably could be the source of serious problems.

Carmella: Will she ever get around to knocking boots with Furio? How long will she be able to tolerate Tony’s girlfriends? Will she run off with the piles of cash that she took from Tony?

Paulie: Will Tony learn that he was sharing family information with the rival New York family? Will Tony see the painting in Paulie’s apartment that depicts Tony as Napoleon posing with the racehorse that Ralphie killed for the insurance proceeds? Will the crazy, Russian mobster who Paulie and Christopher hunted down and shot resurface? Given all the foregoing, will Paulie survive the season?

Chris: Will he succeed in rehab? Will he remain silent about Tony’s murder of Ralph? Will he learn that his fiancée, Adriana, is reluctantly talking to the FBI?

Furio: Will he return from Italy? Will he bed Carmella? If so, will he survive?

Uncle Junior: Will he be acquitted of racketeering charges?

Bobby: Will he learn of Tony’s sister’s duplicity with regard to his children? Will his jury tampering work in Junior’s favor?

Adriana: Will she continue to cooperate with the FBI? If this is discovered, will she survive?

Meadow: Does she suspect that her mother has a thing for Furio? If so, what will she do about it? Will she stay in Columbia?

Anthony Jr.: Will he ever get his shit together?

My God. They’re right. It does sound like a soap opera. Oh well. I’ll stay tuned anyway.
Cell Phone Stomping.
On the heels of Monday’s post about Cell Phone Vulgarians, a reader sent me this link to an amazing site. Here’s the deal. Two guys dress up like large cell phones (That’s right; like large cell phones), and seek out Cell Phone Vulgarians, take their phones away and stomp the offending devices into the ground. The site has film clips of these guys performing their snatch and stomp missions. It’s a scream.

Thanks to Josh for the link.
~ Monday, June 23, 2003
Cell Phone Vulgarians.™
Surely you know whereof I speak. It is, after all, 2003, and there are more than 135 million cell phones out there. But, for those of you who may have spent the last ten years locked in a basement, I should explain that the Cell Phone Vulgarians are those cell phone users who are so deaf, dumb and blind to the sensibilities of others in their immediate vicinity that they don’t appear to have any idea that we don’t want to be forced to hear their side of a brainless conversation with some unknown person.

Here’s what I mean. I recently found myself in a crowded waiting room of an outpatient surgical center. People come to this place for various “procedures,” all of which involve the use of general anesthesia (e.g. colonoscopies and endoscopies), and each of which carries with it some well-explained risks. In addition, everyone there is cognizant of the possibility of getting a “bad result” from one of these procedures, which can mean a sudden and dramatic turning point in one’s life. Everyone in the room was either a patient awaiting his or her “procedure” (I was one of those), or was a family member or friend who had to be there to drive the patient home because of the possible aftereffects of general anesthesia. In sum, this was not exactly a tension-free room.

OK, so we are all sitting there in this crowded room, thumbing through magazines, and trying not to be nervous (with, at best, marginal success), when we were all treated to a an award-winning performance by a Cell Phone Vulgarian. He was a thirty-something (clearly old enough to know better) moron who sat in the center of the waiting room and succumbed to his insatiable need to make a chitchat phone call. He made this call while sitting cross-legged and thumbing through a magazine. The jerk was actually flipping pages of the magazine on his lap all the while he was talking. Mr. Butthead talked away, and we all learned, whether we wanted to or not, that in his life there was “…not much happening….just bringing my father in for a colonoscopy…it’s pretty crowded here…hope it’s not a long wait, and…the movie was lousy.” Blah, blah, blah. We also learned that his previous weekend was not remarkable and that he was not optimistic about the coming weekend being any better because of the ominous weather forecast he had heard that morning. He sounded like a sixteen year old the night before the prom. Finally, the dipshit finished his call.

Thanks, Butt Munch. We all needed to know that.

He apparently concluded that we hadn’t heard enough because seconds after he finished the first call, he dialed a second number and did a replay of the same goddamned vapid conversation. After ten more excruciating minutes, he finished this most important call.

I thought, he has got to be finished now; there is no way that this dopey bastard has more than two friends. WRONG. He dialed yet a third number, and we were treated to yet another reprise of the same drivel.

By this time, I was ready to stuff his little silver telephone in a place where he would have needed the surgical expertise of the doctors in the next room to get himself a “phone-ectomy.” Fortunately, at that moment, it was time for my “procedure,” so I didn’t have to listen to this moron any longer.

My exasperation was hardly unique. Cell phone misuse in restaurants, public conveyances, churches, schools and in live performances has spawned an internet cottage industry of preaching about “cell phone etiquette.” One of the most notable websites is called, not surprisingly, Cell Manners. While Cell Manners seeks to educate and cajole call phone users to be more considerate, there is another site that argues for open warfare on Cell Phone Vulgarians and goes so far as to advocate cell phone use legislation. The concern for cell phone misuse is not limited to the internet. At least one national newspaper has editorialized about the problem.

Legislation is neither necessary nor desirable. Rather, what is needed is a shred of common sense and old-fashioned manners when it comes to cell phone use. I am considering doing my part by making up little slips of paper containing the URL for a cell phone etiquette website, and leaving one with the Vulgarians I surely will encounter in the future.

Of course, there are those who think that websites devoted to the idea of cell phone etiquette are silly. However, I am quite certain that the author of that piece never had the pleasure of listening to my Waiting Room Vulgarian for a half hour or so.

Well, my procedure went well, and I truly hope that the Cell Phone Vulgarian did, in fact, have a lousy weekend.
Shock and Awe In New Jersey.
This just in. Residents throughout the state were seen running from their homes and places of business looking skyward. It seems that sun has made a rare appearance here, which has left many waterlogged Garden Staters confused and delirious. However, things should return to normal later today when overcast skies and rain are expected to return.
~ Sunday, June 22, 2003
Sunday, Lousy Weather, Good Book.
Finding it hard to blog today. Why? I am close to the end of this book, and I gotta find out what happens!
John “57 Varieties” (of Baloney) Kerry.
Zombyboy at Resurrection Song does a fine job of exposing the Massachusetts Senator as being just another “I’ll-say anything-to-get-elected” kind of guy. Kerry - What a sorry ass.
~ Saturday, June 21, 2003
Friday* Five – Hair!

1. Is your hair naturally curly, wavy, or straight? Long or short?

Longish, thick and wavy. I have great hair. No point in being modest about it. I have great farookin’ hair.

I bullshit you not.

One time, a guy peeing in the urinal next to the one I was using looked over at me and said, “Would it be O.K. if I ask you a question?”

The large number of you who don’t pee standing up should know that, in general, talking to strangers while peeing is a breach of men’s room etiquette. Proper etiquette dictates that, while peeing, one remains silent, with eyes locked onto the imaginary spot on the wall directly in front of one’s face.

So, I was a understandably a bit surprised to have this guy, whom didn’t know, talk to me at all. And, I was even more surprised to have him request permission to ask me a question. Did I mention that this guy was bald? Well, he was.

Not wanting to violate the Men’s Room Code of the West, but at the same time not wanting to be rude, or even more importantly, not wanting to possibly piss off (bad choice of words, I know) the bald, inquisitive talk-while-peeing nutbar next to me, I responded, “Sure.”

He said, “My wife loves your toupee, and she asked me to find out where you got it.”

No baloney. That’s what they guy said. I assured him that my hair was indeed my hair. I wasn’t sure he believed me, but I damned well wasn’t about to invite him to reach over and give it a tug.

2. How has your hair changed over your lifetime?

It was originally dark, dark brown. Now it is salty and peppery, but it's getting a little saltier each year. Damned nice hair.

3. How do your normally wear your hair?

Back, no part. Sort of like Richard Gere’s doo.

4. If you could change your hair this minute, what would it look like?

Change it? No way. It’s my best physical asset. Did I mention that it is exceptional hair?

5. Ever had a hair disaster? What happened?

Army Basic Training. ‘Nuff said.

* It is now about fifty minutes into Saturday, but I didn’t get around to posting this until now. So shoot me. But just don’t screw around with my hair.
~ Friday, June 20, 2003
Garden State Dems Prefer Lieberman So Far.
New Jersey Politics, in its June 20, 2003 edition (Sorry, no permalinks), is reporting a Quinnipiac Poll that shows that the current favorite of New Jersey Democrats in the field of Democrat presidential candidates is Joe Lieberman with 26%. Next is John Kerry with 15%, followed by Dick Gephardt with 13%, and (are you ready for this?) Al Sharpton with 8%. Dean, Edwards, Moseley-Braun, Graham, and Kucinich “did not register any significant support among New Jersey Democratic primary voters.”

The good news is that none of them fared well in a head to head contest with President Bush, and when Mrs. Clinton is paired up with George Bush, it is Bush 54% to Mrs. Clinton’s 38% (There is a God.)

It’s interesting, but it is still early in the game. This is, after all, the state that elected John Corzine, Robert Torricelli, Frank Lautenberg (twice!), and Governor Jim McGreevey. Oy!!
Israeli Apology.
Horsefeathers posted an Israelii “apology” to the Palestinians following the then latest terrorist attack on civilians (sadly, since then there have been more). Professor Stephen Berger’s twelve points of “contrition” speak volumes.
~ Thursday, June 19, 2003
Do You Hate Your High School Yearbook Picture?
I meant it. Do you really hate your high school yearbook picture? Every now and then (mostly then) when you drag it out of the basement, do you recoil in horror upon seeing yourself as others saw you those many years ago? Well if you’re fortunate enough to be a high school student in the Garden State, take heart. Help is on the way.

Our lawmakers in Trenton are toiling over legislation that would permit children to provide their own pictures for inclusion in the yearbooks of the state’s high schools. They can drag out one of their “faves” from mom’s cigar box full of photos, or, if they have a few bucks, they can hire a photographer to take their pictures for the yearbook. (I hope someone told Annie Liebowitz about this looming big-biz opportunity in Jersey.)

“A bill authored by Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D-Camden) and picked up by state Sens. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) and Walter Kavanaugh (R-Somerset) would let high school students take their own pictures or hire their own photographers, as long as the submissions meet their high schools' yearbook requirements and deadlines.”

Remember the names of these bi-partisan, seriously progressive legislative swashbucklers, because they clearly have the guts to tackle the big issues and let the chips fall where they may. They have bravely chosen not to waste their valuable time on unimportant things in the state like out-of-control taxation, ineffective schools in some areas, car theft rivaled by no other state, roads that the Department of Transportation has rated as lousy, a Division of Youth and Family Services that manages, with frightening regularity, not to prevent the neglect and abuse of children, and some cities, portions of which look like post WWII Dresden and offer the comfort and security of downtown Baghdad.

Geniuses. I tip my mortarboard to them.

Celebrity Boxing.
It has been reported that Joey Buttafuoco, the Long Island charmer who convinced his then-seventeen year old girlfriend, to shoot his wife in the head, and O.J. Simpson, the well known sensitive guy and tireless searcher for the real killer(s) of his wife and Ronald Goldman, will met each other in a boxing match. (Thanks to Not Quite Tea and Crumpets for the link).

Sensing an opportunity to cash in on this latest twist in reality programming, other celebrities are planning to engage in public pugilistic encounters. Parkway Rest Stop, the "Sports Insider," has learned of some of the more notable matches that will take place in the near future. As a public service, I will list them here, and as a bonus, I will provide the guaranteed outcome of each match. Here we go:

The Match
Monica “Kid” Lewinsky vs. Hillary “Chainsaw” Clinton

The Result
Hillary wins, but only after calling in three ghostboxers to beat the hapless and out-of-shape Lewinsky to a pulp.

The Match
George “Cowpoke” Bush vs. Al “Totem” Gore

The Result
Bush wins in a decision, but only after protracted litigation, arising from Gore’s claim that the errant punches he threw should have been counted as “intended hits.” Gore’s handlers are still fuming over the result, insisting that Gore lost because the judge who ruled in Bush’s favor has a second cousin who once voted republican.

The Match
John “57” Kerry vs. Howard “The Burlington Yawn” Dean

The Result
No one wins. The match was called off because nobody gave a shit

The Match
David “Shingles” Letterman vs. Jay “The Chin” Leno

The Result
Leno wins by disqualification when Letterman could not answer the bell after breaking his hand on Leno’s chin

The Match
Alan “Hawkeye” Alda vs. Mike “B.J.” Farrell

The Result
After twelve rounds, the match is called a draw when neither contestant would strike the other, both proclaiming that fighting is never the answer.

The Match
Sammy “Corky” Sosa vs. Mark “Maris Shmaris” McGwire

The Result
Sosa knocks McGwire out in the second round, but the bout is ultimately awarded to McGwire when it was discovered that Sosa had secreted lead weights in his gloves.

~ Wednesday, June 18, 2003
The Latest BlogSpot Surprise.
Just when BlogSpot fixed the upload problem in its new and “improved” version, I noticed that several of the posts on this page are all in italics, when they are not coded to appear that way. Oy!!

Good thing I don’t have my hammer handy.

UPDATE: It turns out that this problem was Blogger's fault, but I should have seen it. Cousin Jack sent me an e-mail explaining that if there is no tag at the end of italicized text in the last line of a post, Blogger publishes the following post in italics. In my case, being quite HTML dim (but TJ gave me an HTML book for Father's Day, so I'm learning), I used the the Blogger feature that inserts the tags, and it omitted the tag at the end of the post. Today, tags. Tomorrow, who knows? Maybe I'll finally learn what RSS feeds (I think that's what they are called) are.
~ Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Another Blogger Jumps Ship.
Drumwaster's Rants! has moved off BlogSpot. His new, spiffy site can be found here. Please adjust your links or bookmarks, as the case may be.

I'm starting to feel like a member of the band on the Titanic!
Jimbo Fix-It Answers an Urgent E-Mail.
I recently received this urgent E-Mail, to which I feel I should respond immediately.

Dear Jimbo Fix-It,
I am a regular reader, and I have been following your advice about using my hammer for do-it-yourself repairs. Here’s the problem. Last night I was using my hammer to fix my amplifier/receiver, which was making hissing sounds. When I hit the amp in just the right spot, a piece of plastic flew off and almost hit me in the eye. I’m thinking about buying a pair of safety glasses. What do you think?

Signed, Worried in Mount Pleasant

Dear W.I.M.P,.
I’d say that your initials are quite fitting. I think that you are probably watching that smartass Bob Vila, who probably wears safety glasses to blow his damned nose. If you insist on watching that crap, don’t waste Jimbo Fix-It’s valuable time.

However, I will give you the benefit of the doubt on this one. Here is my advice on developing a safe hammering technique. What you have to do is learn to close your eyes a millisecond before the hammer strikes its target. Now, to get this right you may have to practice awhile by hitting a soft surface, but, believe me, it will pay off in the end. Once you develop this technique, your eyelids, (nature’s safety glasses), will protect your eyes from flying bits of plastic and virtually everything else that is hammerable.

And, you can use the money you saved buy not buying those useless safety glasses to put towards getting yourself a backup hammer.

~ Monday, June 16, 2003
A Bit of Good Fortune.
A couple days ago, I wrote about a problem I was having with the new, “improved” version of Blogger software, which features as one of its “improvements” the screwing up of the file upload function. I had asked anyone who might be experiencing the same problem to get in touch with me, if for no other reason than to give me a sense that my problem was sufficiently widespread to attract the attention of the computer whiz kids who are still apparently tweaking the new and “improved” version of Blogger software. Given the number of known readers who are still on BlogSpot, I sort of expected to hear from at least a handful of folks who are being similarly driven nuts by Blogger’s new software.

I heard from just one reader. However, as luck would have it, he happened to be just the right reader, because although he was having the same problem, he provided a workaround. I tried his tip, and it seems to work, for which I am most grateful.

Now, here’s good fortune.

The person who took the time to bail me out also happens to have a blog, which is called Side Salad. I looked at it, and I like it very much. I can understand why he would have figured out a Blogger workaround, as images play a prominent role in the overall look and feel of his blog. Please check it out, and, by all means, don’t miss the post (with film clips) of Mark Walker, the little kid (3 1/2years old) who can effortlessly shoot 18 straight baskets and who already has a shoe contract with Reebok.

Thanks again to Side Salad.

~ Sunday, June 15, 2003
Father’s Day.
It was a great Father’s Day, which for me, included yesterday and visit from daughter and my new son-in-law. Today, I did some writing for a future blog (Sgt. Steele lives) and then took advantage of the first nice weekend day in God knows how long. Hung around with our regular cronies by the pool, drinking vodka and seltzer, with big pieces of lemon and lots of clear ice (refreshing and very civilized), and eating German hot dogs, made in our town, USA by a local German butcher. It was nice.

My dad (the wisest man I ever knew) died in 1994, but in my thoughts, we spent the day together.

Now, I am going to stop writing to see if I can find on the web a vodka logo beach umbrella for my friend’s deck. Hoping to find a Ketel One umbrella, but I am not optimistic.

P.S. BlogSpot’s new, “improved” upload feature is STILL not working. Color me seriously pissed.
~ Saturday, June 14, 2003
BlogSpot Question – Really – No Kidding.
This question is directed to those who opened the Blogger site, then clicked to open your blog’s entry page (the one where you write your posts) and found the new version of Blogger on your screen. I am interested in knowing whether any of you are having the same problem I am having.

I have the Blogger product that, I believe, is called BlogSpot Plus 100, which means I PAID to be able to upload files for use in my blog. It has worked quite well in the past. However, with the new version, the goddamned upload feature does not work.

Here are the specifics. After I select a file from my C Drive for uploading, and I click the “Upload” button, a new window opens called, “Image Options.” In this window, one chooses whether to actually display the contents of the file (e.g. an image) in the blog or to insert the file in the blog as a link. (If my description of the problem is not appropriately technical, I apologize. I’m a farookin’ lawyer, not a computer guy.)

OK. So I make my selection (i.e. I click in the little circle in front of the option that lets you view the selected image itself, rather than a link), now what? I noticed that the window does not display a BUTTON that one can click to execute the choice. There is no scroll bar that would expose a hidden button either.

I stared at the screen for a few minutes wondering how people who actually got paid to do this new version could have missed this screw up. Finally, driven by sheer frustration (I wanted to do a post, the centerpiece of which was to have been an image), I began clicking and dragging my cursor through the window, and I discovered that, with some fancy clicking and dragging, I could “scroll” the contents of the window to expose a button on the bottom right labeled “DONE.” Eureka, I thought. The process is a pain in the ass, but I can probably live with it.

Guess what happens when you click the “DONE” button? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

I have tried this drill about a half dozen times, and the result is always the same.

I searched all over the Blogger site for something that might help, and all I could find was another “new” feature where one can explain a problem and send it off into cyberspace. Of course, I did that, mindful that Blogger says that this particular new feature is under “heavy construction,” so I am not optimistic about getting an answer. Nowhere could I find a telephone number where I might actually be able to speak with a human being about a service that I am PAYING for.

If I did my job the way the knuckleheads a Blogger do theirs, I would be:
(a) fired
(b) sued for malpractice
(c) disbarred
(d) any or all of the above.

The correct answer is (d).

So, dear readers, I have two questions:

1. Is anyone else experiencing this problem, and, if so, what did you do about it?

2. Does anyone know a phone number where I could reach a real, live person to ask what the heck is up?

I don’t have a comments section (as you can see in this IMAGELESS post), so if you have information responsive to either or both of the above questions, I would appreciate it greatly if you would drop me an E-mail.

Thank you very much.

P.S. I know. I know. I know. I should get the hell off BlogSpot. That is most definitely the long-term solution, but I still would like to solve this immediate and most annoying problem.
~ Friday, June 13, 2003
Wing Sings!!
You absolutely MUST check out Wing.

“Hi, I am Wing! I immigrated to New Zealand with my family about ten years ago from Hong Kong. I have been learning singing in New Zealand and I do performances in Rest Homes and Hospitals and occasionally promotional concerts as I go along.”

She has released four (yes, four) CDs. Click on the above link, then click on the tab that says “Listen to Wing.” I recommend the first one, “For All We Know,” from her CD, Wing Sings the Carpenters, and then listen to “Summertime,” from Wing’s CD, I Could Have Danced All Night.

Believe me. This is definitely worth the time.

I highly recommend that you put down your drink before listening.

Link via The Ultimate Insult

Note: I wanted to post a picture of Wing, however, BlogSpot is using a new (improved?) screen, and the "upload file" function is not working. Just friggin' great.

~ Thursday, June 12, 2003
Mail Order Husbands.
The practice of men arranging for Mail Order Brides has a long history in the United States. Even today, it is a flourishing industry. Hey, it’s the 21st century, and I say that it’s about damned time that women have the same opportunity as men to mail order themselves a mate. Accordingly, I would like to introduce you to Mail Order Husbands.

Here is an example of one of the eligible bachelors who is only a mouse click away from you and wedded bliss.

“I'm a successful representative of the pleasure rental industry and I'm ready to share my lifestyle with the right girl. I'm tall, svelte and my sly knowledge of underworld slang will make you wonder just what I'm all about. I like to write poetry and I have gained the trust of several small children and a few foreign people.”

Waddya waiting for?

via The Presurfer

~ Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Al Sharpton, A Deadbeat?
Say it ain’t so! But it may well be the case. The New York Post reports that the Ford Motor Credit Company is suing Al to recover damages arising from his failure to make the monthly payments on a 2001 Ford Explorer. Al stopped making the regular payments in November, and then bounced a $3,600 check in January. Apparently, Ford is also seeking to repossess the car, but it is nowhere to be found. A spokesperson for Al knows nothing, and Al’s attorney is “investigating.” I hope his attorney is smart enough to get his money up front.

I originally found this story at The Country Store, which is a fun and interesting place to visit.
Jimbo Fix-It’s Mailbag.
Many of the folks around here know of my superior talent for do-it-yourself home repairs and fixing small appliances and electronic devices. In fact, I often receive e-mail asking for my advice in such matters. I thought that I would share them with you, as the information provided will definitely come in handy the next time you are confronted with a stuck door or a non-functioning electronic device. In fact, you may want to cut this out and use one of those refrigerator magnet things to stick it on the refrigerator.

Dear Jimbo Fix-It,
It is ninety degrees here, with 98% humidity, and our central air conditioner is not working. What can I do?

Sweltering Hot in Trenton

Dear S.H.I.T., (Those better be your initials. I will not be made a fool of.)
It is important to note that air conditioners have essentially two things going on. There is the compressor, and then there is the fan. I cannot tell from your letter, whether the compressor or the fan is the problem. However, you can easily determine this yourself. Turn the unit on, and if the fan is spinning, you can rule the fan out as being the source of the problem. If the fan is not spinning, that may be part of your problem. You also have to determine whether the compressor is running. You’ll know the compressor is running if you hear a continuous HMMMMMMM, which is to be distinguished by the continuous hmmmmm, which would be the fan.

OK, so let’s say that the problem appears to be with your compressor. The way you repair this is to get the hammer from your toolbox, and whack the compressor a really good shot. That ought to do it. Similarly, if you find that the problem lies with the fan, you can use the same tool to give the fan a good shot. I suggest that you aim for the fan motor and not the fan blades, as hitting the blades may work, but the unit might be a little noisy.

Dear Jimbo Fix-It,
I just bought a really nice toolbox, and I would like your advice on which tools I should buy to be ready for most repair needs.

Throckmorton O’Toole

Dear Mr. O’Toole,
I will assume that your question about tools is the real deal and that your name really is O’Toole. Jimbo Fix-It takes this shit seriously, and I will not have you playing me for a chump.

With the foregoing assumption in mind, I will answer your question. What you will need in your toolbox to tackle all repairs is a hammer, and a couple rolls of duct tape. If you are a sophisticated do-it-yourselfer, you might consider adding a sturdy butter knife as well. Good luck with that new toolbox!

Dear Jimbo Fix-It,
I’m really in a pickle here. I rented a DVD from the local store, and I have to return it in four hours, and I still have not watched the movie. My problem is that the DVD tray is stuck in the open position. I am afraid to push on it too hard to get it to inside the machine so I can watch the movie. Any tips?

Frantic in Fanwood

Dear F.I.F.
This is absolutely not a problem. Whenever you are dealing with a piece of electronic equipment, such as a DVD player or a VCR, and something is stuck, you should always FORCE it. Works every time. So, give that tray one good hard push, and enjoy the movie.

Dear Jimbo Fix-It,
The digital clock on my VCR keeps blinking, and I don’t know how to make it stop. It prevents me from enjoying my soaps during the day. I really need your help.

One Life to Live

Dear O.L.T.L.,
Simple one. Take a roll of duct tape from your toolbox, cut a small piece, and stick it over the blinking light. See? I told you it was simple.

Dear Jimbo Fix-It,
What kinds of screwdrivers do I need, and how many of them should I have in my toolbox?

Puzzled in Parsippany

Dear P.I.P.,
Read my response to Mr. O’Toole. (I still think I’m being jerked around by that guy.) You absolutely do NOT need a screwdriver of any type. First of all, I suggest avoiding screws unless there is absolutely no alternative. In those rare cases, all repairs can be made with a sturdy butter knife. Use the money you save on screwdrivers to buy yourself a backup hammer.

Dear Jimbo Fix-It,
My uncle Verne gave me a really neat saw for my birthday. The problem is that I don’t know whether it is a ripsaw or a crosscut saw. Can you help?

Ripped in Rahway

Dear R.I.R.,
The problem is that your uncle Verne is obviously an inconsiderate asshole, who doesn’t know shit from shinola about home repairs. Listen to me. Wood is not our friend. All repairs on wooden things can be accomplished with your hammer. In real emergencies, you may also need some duct tape. Throw the damned saw away, and tell Uncle Dumbshit Verne to give you money for your next birthday. You can use the money to buy a backup hammer.

Dear Jimbo Fix-It,
The light switch in my dining room is making strange noises, and it gets real hot. Sometimes smoke comes out of it. At least I think it’s smoke. It smells a lot like burning plastic. I think I already know how to fix it, but I am a little worried about using my stainless steel hammer. I would like to avoid getting a shock.

Timid in Toms River

Dear T.I.T. (You better not be jerking me around with these initials!)
You are most perceptive, and you ask an excellent question. We must always be careful when working with live wires. Using your stainless steel hammer might pose a problem. A seasoned home-repair person sometimes has to improvise. I suggest that you go to your closet and find a shoe with a good, thick rubber sole (rubber does not conduct electricity, you know). Hold it firmly in your dominant hand (the lack of a handle may make this a bit difficult), and give the switch a good whack. Presto! No more noise or smoke.

Dear Jimbo Fix-It,
My kitchen door squeaks when we open or close it. It is annoying the cat, and she has taken to pissing on the kitchen floor. We need your help bad.

Squeaky and Smelly in Springfield

Dear S.A.S.I.S.,
This is a tricky one. However, if you follow my directions, everything should work out fine. You will need your hammer from the toolbox. First, you must clear the area near the door, because you will need the room to work. Once that is done, open the door, and hold it open using your non-dominant hand. Take the hammer in your dominant hand and give the side of the door a couple good, hard whacks. I suggest two whacks near the top of the door, two near the bottom, and three or four really good ones just above where the doorknob thing comes out.

Wait. You are not finished yet. Next, you have to close the door and give each of the hinges a couple atomic whacks. That will solve your problem, unless, of course, you want to also whack the pissing cat.

Dear Jimbo Fix-It,
I have discovered a leak in the U-shaped pipe under my bathroom sink, which is inside the vanity. I was reading somewhere that that piece of pipe is called the “trap.” The water comes out of there pretty good, and I am frankly a bit nervous about using my hammer on it. Suggestions?

Leaking in Livingston

Dear L.I.L.,
First off, for future reference, if you are going to be reading smart-ass books about traps, don’t waste my valuable time. OK?

The answer to your question is staring you in the face. Why do you think we have so many tools in our toolbox? Duct tape. Duct tape. Duct tape. Wrap that leaky pipe, or “trap” (la-dee-dah) with some quality duct tape, and you'll be good to go!

That’s all from today’s mailbag. Be sure to send all your home and appliance repair questions to Jimbo Fix-It. No job too big or small. If I can’t fix it, you need the Army Corps of Engineers.

~ Tuesday, June 10, 2003
What Does One Do?
Question: When one has had a miserable day, and when one comes home late from work, and when one is really, really tired, and when one has spent an hour reading other people’s blogs and noodling around on the net trying to think of something interesting or amusing to write, and when one is really, really tired (I already said that. See? I’m tired), and, when one, despite all that reading, thinking, and net-noodling, still has nothing interesting or amusing to write, what does one do?

Answer: One says, “Thank you very much for stopping by. I truly appreciate it. Please stay tuned. Good night.”
Jersey Roads.
The Department of Transportation has put together some statistics, as reported here, about New Jersey that some may find interesting. Then again, maybe not. Anyway here they are:

A driver is twice as likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident in Idaho than in New Jersey. Only Rhode Island and Massachusetts have fewer traffic fatalities per 100,000 drivers than New Jersey.

I think this statistic is traceable to our learning to drive with lunatics from the get go. Besides, we don’t go for the kill. We are satisfied with significant maiming of the other guy.

Only three miles of highway in Jersey are considered by the federal government to be in “very good condition.” Most of the roads are rated “fair.” By contrast, Georgia has 864 miles of road along its 1,243 miles of interstate that was rated “very good.”

Picky picky. I don’t live anywhere near those three miles, and my tires, shocks and jangled nerves show it. As for Georgia, I figure they probably get about three cars per day on that “very good” stretch of road.

New Jersey’s gasoline tax (10.5 cent per gallon) is the third lowest in the country, beaten out only by Georgia (7.5 cents per gallon) and Alaska (8 cents per gallon).

And, we don’t have to pump the stuff ourselves!

Jersey has 6.366 bridges, 2,350 of which (37%) were identified as being either “structurally deficient or functionally obsolete,” and we have to pay tolls on 27 of them.

Does anyone manufacture a floating car?? Thirty-seven percent isn’t all that bad when you figure that 66% of the bridges in Washington D.C. need work. Bad news for Teddy Kennedy.

Let’s break it down.

Democrat Governor, Democrat Senators, Mostly Democrat Congressmen -- Shitty Roads. Nah, probably no connection there

~ Sunday, June 08, 2003
Beyond Apalling.
It is reported that, in North Korea, the famine is so bad that people have resorted to eating children. Meanwhile the "leadership" funnels the country's resources into making nuclear weapons. Sick. Sick. Sick.
via On the Third Hand.
New Link.
No time for much of anything today, except for Life 101. Good thing too, as BlogSpot was completely down for a while. Anyway, I wanted to be sure to recommend that you check out The Mudville Gazette. Sharp, witty, and very creative. This one will be a daily read.
~ Saturday, June 07, 2003
Rainy Saturday Reading Time.
It is yet another rain-soaked Saturday here. Other than getting an all-too-brief peek at the sun a day or so ago, we have had rain for days and days. It, therefore, is a good day for reading and poking around on the internet. Accordingly, here are a couple things that I passed some time with, and I trust that they may interest some of you as well.

FBI Files on Famous Persons and Events
This site offers the reader a wealth of documents assembled by the Department of Justice in response Freedom of Information Act requests. The opening page provides background, but the links are where the interesting stuff is. Some of the people who were of interest to the FBI are Abbie Hoffman (more than 4,000 pages), Hell’s Angels (233 pages), John F. Kennedy (178 pages), .Aristotle Onassis (4,296 pages), Frank Sinatra (2,403 pages), and Mickey Mantle (29 pages – relating to threatening letters the “Mick” had received). Interesting stuff.

Hallowed Ground.
Anyone with even a passing interest in history will enjoy a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. The site contains a wealth of information about the national cemetery, including a great collection of historic photos and current images of the burial sites of American Heroes. When I first came upon the site, I did not pay attention to the URL, and I had assumed that it was a government site. It is, in fact, privately run by a person who clearly has spent a good deal of time on it. Definitely worth a bookmark.

Guaranteed Laughs.
Several months ago, I linked to The Emails of Donald Lancow. (I tried to find my original post, but BlogSpot is in a particularly bad state of disrepair today.) Mr. Lancow writes absolutely hilarious prank e-mails to various companies and governmental entities. The e-mails and the replies he receives are posted on the site. There have been a few added since my last post. I also have a feeling that many current readers may not have seen the original post and this will be your first exposure to Mr. Lancow’s e-mails. There is NO WAY you can read these things without laughing out loud. Here is a sample from his letter to the Rembrandt Toothpaste manufacturer:

“I’ve been searching for a new toothpaste recently, and I decided to try your whitening toothpaste. I bought a tube on the way home from work Friday. Loved the taste and it gave my mouth a happy little feeling. I had one problem, however, that I am quite concerned about. Friday night as I laid down to sleep I noticed my teeth had a “glow” to them. This was not a trick of light or my imagination. My teeth are actually glowing. The darker it got the brighter the glow got. It got so bad I could not sleep ( I have very sensitive eyes). I work twelve hour shifts in a chemical repository. Is it possible I’ve been exposed to something that would react with your toothpaste? We’ve had some pretty big spills lately, but the haz-mat team assured me that none were dangerous to my health. I don’t know what to do. …”

You can also read the reply he received to that one.

Enjoy – particularly if it is raining where you are.
~ Friday, June 06, 2003
The Caregivers.
“For us, it’s a job. For them, it’s family.” Da Goddess, who is often irreverent and wonderfully wicked, puts on her nurse’s cap to write an absolute must-read about those who find themselves camping out at the hospital bedside of a sick family member and what other family members can do to help.

~ Thursday, June 05, 2003
InstaRoyalty - King for a Day..
This past Tuesday, I was puzzled by the several visits to this Site I had received from The Truth Laid Bear (“TTLB”). I popped over to TTLB to see what was going on, as I had just registered to participate in the “Blogosphere Ecosystem” the night before. (For those of you even less geeky than I, the “Blogoshpere Ecosystem” is a list that ranks blogs, using an algorithm that presumably is based on the number of inbound links …blah, blah, blah.)

I scrolled through the long, long list of the “Blogosphere Ecosystem” and was unable to find my site (I had forgotten to use the “find” function on the browser - duh). I, therefore, chalked the whole thing up to some sort of techno-accident, well beyond my ability to understand. This kind of thing happened to me once before when I received dozens and dozens of hits from Blogger, even though my recently updated site had appeared for a couple minutes in the “Fresh Blogs” Section of the Blogger Page but had long since disappeared.

I figured…Go figure.

A while later, I took another look at my hit counter, and there were dozens more hits from TTLB. Huh?? I returned to TTLB and scrolled again – no sign of my site. I was then convinced that the hits I was receiving must have been somehow misdirected to my site. (If that was a stooopid assumption, you must remember that this stuff is all magic to me.) Then it dawned on me, as my cursor sat somewhere in the middle of the list of a couple thousand sites, to use the “find” feature. However, even that failed to find my site. Aha! I realized that the “find” feature had searched down the list from the middle. I set it search up the list, and it found my site.

I damned near fainted.

No wonder I didn’t find my site while scrolling around in the Crawly Amphibians, Flippery Fish or Slimy Molluscs. No wonder I didn’t find my site by searching from the middle of the list to the bottom of the list.

I was number one.

I stared at the screen, not believing what I was seeing. There it was -- “Parkway Rest Stop” appearing above InstaPundit. I must have fixated on the screen for a full minute. Remember, I was brand new to this list and the whole blog-ranking thing.

I drifted out of my stupor and clicked the “details” link next to my site and a couple other sites (Did I mention that I was new to this?). Even Mr. Computer Doofus figured out that somehow I was being credited with EVERYONE’S links, and that’s what accounted for my InstaRoyalty status..


Not wanting to look like a con artist or some kind of hacker (Me? A hacker? What a ridiculous notion that is), I immediately e-mailed the site owner, pointing out the mistake, and silently hoping that I did not somehow inadvertently mess up someone’s site, or, worse yet, derail the entire farookin’ “Blogosphere Ecosystem.”. After the e-mail shot into cyberspace, I wondered What should I do now??

I decided that, having advised the site owner that I was aware of the screw up, I should immediately post the same kind of information for those most-certainly incredulous bloggers who were popping into my site in droves to see what the heck was up.

Of course, Blogger picked that very moment to not come up on my screen. Damn. The frustration was akin to the agony one feels when stuck in traffic thinking that you will miss an important appointment. It was damned near put-fist-through-screen-time.

Finally, Blogger came up, and I dashed off this post. Blogger, of course, then took forever to publish the damned thing. After a few more aggravating minutes, the post finally appeared. I thought the problem would be fixed right away, but the list stayed the same for the rest of the day, although the hits quieted down, as the word spread that my reign as King was the result of a techno-fart of some kind. Of course, the experience TTLB users must have figured out immediately what had happened and never even bothered to visit my site.

Well, a few days have passed and now the dust has settled. I checked today, and I find myself among the Slithering Reptiles in the Ecosystem. Quite a plunge. That’s O.K. I’m in good company here.

But it sure was nice being King while it lasted.

~ Wednesday, June 04, 2003
The Answer to Ben & Jerry’s.
The Star Spangled Ice Cream Company is targeting those who “enjoy ice cream, but do NOT like seeing your money funneled to wacko left-wing causes.” The company offers mail order ice cream that it describes as “an exquisitely delicious hand-crafted super premium ice cream featuring a smoothness, texture and taste you simply cannot find in supermarkets.” The manufacturer states that it donates ten percent of its profits “to charities that support the men and women of our armed forces.”

Ya gotta love the flavors. Currently available are:

I Hate the French Vanilla
Iraqi Road
Smaller GovernMINT
Nutty Environmentalist

The flavors under development are even better:

Cowardly German Chocolate
Irrelevant Belgian Chocolate
Dutch (Reagan) Chocolate
Donald Rum Raisin
US Army Tank Crunch
US Navy Battle-Chip
US Air Force Over-The-Rainbow Sherbet
US Marine Tough Cookies & Cream
School Prayerleens & Creme
Gun Nut
Clinton Im-Peach
White House Fundraiser Coffee
Peanut Malaise

Damn, it’s great to be an American.

Thanks to Mark at Not Quite Tea and Crumpets for finding this gem.

~ Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Info For Those (of us) Who are Frustrated with Blogspot.
Jay Solo is soliciting tips from more experienced bloggers about the kinds of things one should know in order to effectively move off Blogspot. The information sought concerns software, hosting and other important things such as migration of archives to a new site. I hope it works out. I’ll be watching.

Note: How absolutely fitting. Because the permalink is not working, look for the June 3 entry, entitled The Great Rat Race.
Some Mistake!!
Something must have gone haywire at The Truth Laid Bear, as it has this site listed as Number One(19,022) in the Blogosphere Ecosystem, when it belongs way, way, WAY down on that impressive list. I immediately sent an e-mail to the site about this, so I have no doubt that the mistake will be fixed right away. In the meantime, I kinda like looking at it.
~ Monday, June 02, 2003
“My name is John Steele. I’ve been called ‘Jack’ at various times in my life.”
Those were the opening two sentences of an absolutely amazing e-mail I received last night. It seems that I received an e-mail from a real John “Jack” Steele.

Now get this:

Like Sergeant Steele, this John Steele is an Adjunct Professor of Law.


Like Sergeant Steele, this John Steele is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center.

So, there I was reading an e-mail from John “Jack” Steele, who is an Adjunct Professor of Law and who is a graduate of Georgetown Law School. What a farookin’ coincidence!! You could have knocked me over with a feather.

He noted in his e-mail, that he had learned about the Master Sergeant John “Jack” Steele stories from a professor at the Law School, who presumably was also taken with the coincidence. We have since exchanged several e-mails, and I learned, among other things, that this John Steele practices in law in a San Francisco law firm when he is not teaching Legal Ethics (Please, no oxymoron jokes – I get those as a lawyer and a former military intelligence guy). Here’s another kicker. He teaches at UCal Berkeley! (Boalt Hall Law School).

In response to his question asking how I settled in on the character’s name, I explained that I wanted a one syllable last name (one syllable rolls nicely after “sergeant”) that connoted something hard. I may have been influenced by my memories of a boyhood friend who was a reader of “Sergeant Rock” comic books. "Steele" was a natural. As for the John “Jack” part, I explained that in selecting that name, I paid a bit of a tribute to Cousin Jack (real name – John - but he was and is always called “Jack”), who is a Law Professor at Lewis and Clark Law School and who got me blogging in the first place. (As I was writing the e-mail, it occurred to me that I never shared that fact with Cousin Jack. So, now he knows.)

This John Steele noted that other writers of fiction have been fond of the name “John Steele” for their macho characters. For example, he pointed me to a one-issue comic book with the title, “John Steele, Secret Agent,” and to a couple “B” movies, "Steele Justice" (John Steele, Vietnam Vet, returns to Vietnam to seek revenge against the corrupt Vietnamese politician for killing Steele’s friend), and “Steele’s Law” (John Steele, this time a detective, travels to Texas to hunt down and kill a crazy assassin whose weapon of choice is a sword). Equally as macho is the “action figure” Corporal John Steele of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Oh yeah, I learned one more amazing thing. I assume that you are familiar with the story of the paratrooper who, on the night before D-Day, parachuted into the French village of Ste Mere Eglise, only to end up dangling from the church steeple in the middle of the village (Red Buttons played the part in the movie “The Longest Day”). To this day, there is a parachute and a dummy on the church steeple commemorating the event. The paratrooper’s name? Yep. John Steele.

I am most happy to report that this John “Jack” Steele, Adjunct Professor of Law enjoyed reading about Master Sergeant John “Jack” Steele, the gott-damned Adjunct Professor of Law, and even suggested having Sergeant Steele teach a class at Berkeley. Verrrry interesting idea, there. There even has been talk of getting together for a beer the next time my job takes me to the Left Coast. I look forward to it.

Of course, I’ll be checking to be sure that his gott-damned gig-line is squared away.
Six Women, Four Links.
I’ve been doing a bit more blog reading than blog writing this weekend. I also have been staking out time for reading Jeffrey Dever’s newest Lincoln Rhyme novel, The Vanished Man (good stuff!). However, before Monday morning comes crashing down on my ass, I wanted to be sure to add four new links to sites that I have recently discovered and have enjoyed reading. I think you will like them, but equally as important, adding them to my blogroll makes my regular reading easier.

Two of the sites belong to Jersey Bloggers, so we already share a cosmic kinship in that, without even knowing it, we probably have all been stuck in the same Parkway traffic jam, have gotten a bit sideways in the same saloons, and have scarfed down late night-early morning food in the same all-night diners. Check out Katespot and Gigglechick.

The other two sites are each “manned” by two women, and both sites get things “just right.” Phil Donahue would not be a fan of either, and that works for me. Don’t miss On The Third Hand, whose authors identify themselves as being “Proud Members of the Brigade of Bellicose Women.” Finally, I recommend, Right We Are, where the tagline is “There is nothing sexier than women who are on the right side.” No argument from me on that.
~ Sunday, June 01, 2003
Number 10,000 Has Revealed Himself.
On May 28th, I noted that this site had received its 10,000th visit. At that time, I posted some information from my referral log describing the visitor, and, amazingly, I heard from him. I never cease to be dazzled by the power of the internet.

Number 10,000 is a former airborne combat engineer, for which he gets a proud salute from me. You may have seen him from time to time in comments as “Sapper Mike.” Definitely a cool guy.

Thanks again to Mike and to the others who think that a visit to this place is worth their valuable time.
More on the Jersey Shore.
Jersey Blogger, Gigglechick, has posted “Fifty Reasons Why You Might be from the Jersey Shore,” along with some commentary. Another Jersey Blogger, Kate at Katespot, has also posted the list.. If you're from Jersey, ya gotta love the Jersey Shore. Although I am not from the Jersey Shore (I live about an hour away) , I have done more than my fair share of carousing there over the years, and I still love the place.

And, yes, one time a sea gull did shit on my head.

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