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
~ Friday, October 31, 2003
Another Halloween Post, Sort of.
Yesterday in Virginia Beach, a woman dressed like a clown, arrived at a local bank in a taxi. She got out of the taxi, walked into the bank, walked up to the teller, handed the teller a note demanding money, and robbed the damned bank. After the robbery, she left the scene, again in a taxi, and disappeared into a strip mall eight blocks away.

A police spokesman, demonstrating his razor-sharp investigative skills, observed that the timing of the robbery on the day before Halloween might be a factor. He stated, “My wife and I have dressed as clowns for Halloween before and stopped at a 7-11 on the way to a party and no one looked twice.” [Yo, Mr. Police spokesman, did it ever occur to you that the people in the store were trying to avoid staring at two obvious nitwits?]

This story just goes to show that it makes perfect sense to hate clowns.

Hey, wait a damned minute! Bill Cimino of Bloviating Inanities, lives in Virginia Beach, no? Maybe it really was a gouty man disguised as a woman clown? I’m just sayin’.

Because it’s Halloween…
I had planned to post the link for Weird N.J., a site devoted to some of the more bizarre things in the Garden State, including ghosts, Jersey UFO’s and, of course, the Jersey Devil (hence, the name of the hockey team). However, Dax Montana, of The Dax Files, beat me to it, and he’s a Georgia guy. However, he clearly is a guy with a good eye for a link.

Check out Weird N.J., and then tell me that Jersey is not in interesting place to hang one’s hat.
~ Thursday, October 30, 2003
“Anything for Halloweeeeeeeeen?”
That’s what we said as children as we held open our bag (or pillowcase) to the people who answered their doors on Halloween. We never said, “Trick or Treat?” Maybe it was a Jersey thing.

Truth is, I never cared much for Halloween. When I was very, very young I wore store-bought costumes. I still see them for sale in toy stores and large drug store chains. Typically, they were made of cheap material and were slit up the back permitting them to be worn over clothing. They tied in the back much like a hospital gown and invariably came with a cheap, plastic full-face mask.

Even at a young age, I felt like a bit of an ass walking about dressed up like a devil, or a ghost, or Peter Pan. Also, I found wearing the mask to be annoying as hell. My breath would blow noisily back onto my face, as I schlepped from house to house with my cronies and my pillowcase.

As I got older and grew out of the store-bought variety of costumes, we “made our own” costumes. The default “make-it-yourself” costume was that of a bum. All one needed was some raggedy jeans (they were called “dungarees” back then), an old torn shirt (one with patches was the best), and a raggedy hat of some kind. Put a little burnt cork on your face so you would look like you were dirty and needed a shave, and you were good to go.

I really felt like an ass walking around like that.

Not only did I feel like an ass because of the way I was dressed, but I also never much cared for the actual process of “trick or treating.” It felt too much like begging. “Anything for Halloweeeeeen?” was right up there with “Alms for the poor?” in my book.

I also did not like all the frantic walking to try to “hit as many houses as possible” during the five or six available hours after school, with the goal being to have to make a couple swings by home to empty the pillowcase. The hell of it is that I never really cared that much for the candy either.

To make matters worse, some of the people from whom we begged felt that it was appropriate and fun to make the “Trick or Treaters” earn their candy. One neighbor made each of chew on crackers, and the first person who could whistle got an extra piece of candy. I remember thinking, “Why the hell am I doing this silly shit? For an extra goddamned Tootsie Roll? I’d like to shove the Tootsie Roll up your ass, lady!”

Like I said. I never much liked Halloween.

So, why did I do it? I suppose I did it because all my friends liked Halloween. They liked dressing up, they were not uncomfortable with begging, and they relished the idea of having three or four bowls of candy at home.

However, it wasn’t simply peer pressure that had me on the street dressed up like an ass and begging for candy. My mother and my aunt (who lived upstairs from us) really liked Halloween, and I suppose I did the annual Halloween begging schlep so as not to disappoint them.

I did, however, disappoint them big-time in one respect. Every year they tried to get me to give up the bum costume and let them dress me up like a girl. The answer was always an emphatic “NO.” I think I would have rather been set afire than leave the house dressed up like a girrrrrrrlllllll, not to mention that walking around in my neighborhood dressed like a girl may have gotten me a pretty good ass-kicking from a few of the local shitheads.

So, tomorrow when the kiddies come to the door dressed in their costumes, some store-bought, and some not, I’ll smile and dutifully drop candy into their sacks, and I won’t make them whistle.

But secretly I’ll be wondering if any of them thinks that the whole Halloween dress-up-and-beg thing stinks.

Oh, Well..
Zip, zero, nothing, zubin, zilch, zubonowitz, nuttin’, notafrigginthing, goose egg, naught, nil, nada, nichts. The foregoing describes the amount of creativity I can muster at this moment.

My muse must have taken the day off without letting me know. That’s what I get for giving her sick days.
~ Wednesday, October 29, 2003


?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

Link via Sketches of Strain
~ Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Losin' His Marbles?
I think Cousin Jack may be coming unglued. He's talking to possums (and they're talking back).

That's what happens when you spend too much time reading the Tax Code.

Jack, come back to us. We'll sit in traffic take a ride down the shore on the Parkway and have a sausage, peppers and onions sandwich on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk. It'll straighten you right out.
The November Shit Mud Sling.
It’s the time of the year for the people running for New Jersey state legislative offices to take to the radio waves with their amateurish, never-endingly played campaign commercials. One features an embarrassingly awful imitation of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I can think of few things that are more annoying and less informative than these radio spots.

Each candidate, either directly, or through actors (uniformly awful actors, I might add), does nothing but sling sixty-seconds worth of shit mud at the other candidate. The charges range from governmental recklessness to downright criminal conduct. Both parties do it.

The only thing I can conclude from listening to this crap is that, if only twenty percent of the things that each candidate says about the other are true, then neither of them is fit for office, and both of them ought to be in jail.

I’ll be glad when it’s over.
A Blog to Watch.
Boots on the Ground is a blog written by an infantryman (grunt, ground pounder, trigger puller, eleven-bravo) stationed in Iraq. This is one fine young man. Check out his blog – every day.

Link via Backstage, another Jersey Blogger.
~ Monday, October 27, 2003
Garden State Goats.
This is New Jersey, for Chrissake, the most densely populated state in the union. It’s highly industrialized, the home of the pharmaceutical industry, and the place where the people have a hard edge and take no bullshit. It’s the home of the “real” Tony Sopranos of the world.

So, what’s all this stuff about farookin’ GOATS?

Well, it turns out that the state is actively encouraging New Jersey’s farmers (yeah, we actually have some of them) to raise goats in order to satisfy the increasing demand for goat meat. This demand has been fueled by the influx of immigrants form places such as Greece, Mexico, Puerto Rico,, and Jamaica, where goat meat is popular. Asians and Mexicans apparently also like the stuff. Currently most goat meat is imported in from Australia.

The state’s encouragement comes in the form of a $31,000 federal grant to encourage more farmers to raise goats. (Our tax dollars at work!) We even now have a “New Jersey Meat Goat Association,” (How would you like to attend that convention?), which will no doubt figure out creative ways to spend the $31,000 that American citizens were kind enough to pony up for this most important national cause.

I had thought that New Jersey’s slaughterhouses specialized in chopping mob bosses up in bite-sized pieces, but they must also know how to slaughter goats, because Texas (currently the biggest goat meat producing state) and New Jersey together process fifty percent of the nation’s goat meat. The meat retails for approximately $3.50 per pound and, although it is higher in cholesterol than beef, it is less fatty (so they say), which also helps accounts for its reported popularity.

The good news is that goats apparently shit significantly less than cows, and they breed faster. I feel better about this already.

New Jersey goat meat. You really can’t make this shit up.
Drinking an Iceberg, One Sip at a Time.
The other day, I wrote about having tasted Pearl Vodka. In one of the comments to the Post, Hilsy, apparently one of Cousin Jack's students, suggested that I check out Iceberg Vodka. It is made from 12,000-year old icebergs that are harvested in Canada and turned into Vodka. After reading the website, it became one of those “Gotta Try’s.”

I bought a bottle today and brought it to the American Legion Post so that the Usual Suspects and I (all no strangers to Vodka) could give it a try. We decided to follow the recommendation on the website and drink “Ice Breakers,” which consists of “A bite of lemon, a lick of sugar, and a shooter of Iceberg Vodka, straight up directly from the freezer.”

The verdict was unanimous. Excellent!! Of course, we all had another.

The bottle is shaped like a chunk of ice with one flat side, so that it fits nicely even in a crowded freezer. Surprisingly, it is not all that expensive either. I think I paid about $17.00 for the bottle, which is comparable to other vodkas.

I intend to pick up another bottle or two so that next week we can put it to the real test - Martinis.

The Usual Suspects and I thank Hilsy for the tip. He gets an A+ from us. I suspect he will do equally as well in his Tax Class.
~ Saturday, October 25, 2003
Make Mine Black, Please.
Decades ago I began to drink black coffee. As I recall, giving up the milk and sugar in my coffee was just one of many little alterations I have made in a lifelong struggle to save a few calories here and there (which caloric credits, unfortunately, have often ended up being squandered on pizza and beer, but that’s another story).

At first, the black brew tasted a bit harsh, but in short order I realized that one can actually taste the coffee when one drinks it unadulterated with dairy products and sweeteners. So, switching to black coffee resulted in one of those rare bonuses in life where something non-fattening actually tasted better than the fattening variety. However, as it turns out, that was not the biggest benefit of learning to drink black coffee – not by a long shot.

The real benefit of drinking black coffee is that it seriously simplifies one’s life.

I buy my morning drive-to-work coffee in a local 7-11. Here’s the morning scene. The serve-yourself coffee is located on a counter (more like a stainless steel topped table) in a corner of the store. On either end of the table are multiple coffee pots. The cups and lids are arranged according to size in the center of the table. There are also many varieties of coffee adulterants on the table, along with stirrers.

I often walk into the place to find the table circled by a crowd of folks who are busy preparing the beverage they call coffee, but which, in reality, is coffee flavored milk and sugar. No one speaks. Arms grope all over the table to select the dairy product of choice to pour into the coffee. There are a variety of dairy products available, including skim milk, one percent milk, two percent milk, whole milk and half and half. There are also various non-dairy coffee adulterants as well, ranging from plain to the strangely flavored kinds.

Once the dairy (or non-dairy) adulterant is selected and dumped into the coffee, then comes the sweetener selection and more groping all over the table for the sweetener of choice. Some people want sugar, while others want the sweetener in the pink packet. Still others reach for the sweetener in the blue packet.

Once the sweetener is selected, next comes the “packet shake.” I’m sure you’ve seen it (or do it yourselves). The sweetener user feels obliged to shake the packet or packets (I have seen people shake five packets at a time) to ensure that the sweetener of choice is at the bottom of the packet (as if the laws of gravity hadn’t somehow already taken care of that).

The next step in the process is the packet tearing (some can tear multiple packets at one time), followed by the sweetener dump (some can dump multiple packets at a time). The sweetener dump is followed by the search for the place to put the tops of the torn packets and the now-empty packets themselves. For the non-regulars, there are puzzled looks while they wait for a regular packet shaker customer to put the empty packets in the trash so that they can follow suit.

Next comes the stirring. This requires still more cross-table groping to grab a plastic stirrer. The stirring is made more time-consuming because the stirrer is only a thin plastic stick.

They are still not done, as now comes the sipping and adjusting or “calibrating” to use a more technical term.

Sip….hmmm…Not sweet enough…Repeat packet shaking, packet tearing, sweetener dumping and trash searching. Stir again. Sip again.

Sip…hmmmToo hot…Add more dairy (or non-dairy) adulterant. Stir again. Sip again.

Sip…hmmmToo weak…Add more coffee. Stir again. Sip again.

Sip…hmmmToo strong…Add more dairy (or non-dairy) adulterant. Stir again. Sip again.

Sip…hmmmThe cup not full enough for the price…Add a little more of everything. (Always a favorite of mine). Stir again. Sip again.

Sip…hmmmThe cup is too full…Drink more. It’s like getting a couple sips for free. (Another favorite of mine).

Once the stirrer is tossed into the trash, the morning coffee drinker is ready to put the lid on the paper cup and proceed to the register.

Not me.

I walk up to the table of modern-day alchemists, pour the coffee in the cup, snap on a lid, and, “See ya.”

The same holds true at the office. When I want a cup of coffee, I just go and pour myself a cup. I needn’t worry whether there is milk in the refrigerator, whether it might belong to someone else, whether it might be sour, or whether there is a ready supply of sugar or other sweeteners on hand. Pour and go. Snap City.

Black coffee. Try it. You’ll like it. And, your life will be a whole lot simpler. I bullshit you not.
Ketel One and Blogging.
I’ve decided that Ketel One vodka and blogging do not work well together. If I continue to tickle these keys, I could righteously be cited for BWI (figure it out), so I will spare you all until tomorrow.
Straight White Guy.
He's moved to his new home. Am I really the last guy left on BlogSpot?

I hope that someone at Movable Type leaves a light on for me.
~ Thursday, October 23, 2003
Every Party has a Pooper.
All these oldsters were trying to do was to have a little party. They were doing just fine until some louse came and broke it up.


Thanks to my friend Brian, the Air Force Vet.

~ Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Carnival Time.
The Carnival of the Vanities is up over at Eric Berlin’s site. He re-activated his site to host this week’s Carnival. Maybe lots of traffic will convince him to open up shop again after the Carnival. The Carnival is a great place to discover good sites and for good sites to be discovered. Take a look.
The Ultimate Self-Defense Weapon.
How many times do you with you had a large bottle of this handy?

Thanks to my friend Barbara for the link.

A Crystal-Clear Surprise From Canada.
My experience with drinking beverages made in Canada has been limited to an occasional six-pack of Molson Ale. However, I just cracked open a bottle of this, taken directly from the freezer. I drank it neat from a frozen shooter glass. Verrrrry Smoooooth. You can find details here. This is one that Venomous Kate might consider trying.

~ Tuesday, October 21, 2003
A Matter of “Life” and Death.
I am not terribly proud to say that, until today, I have avoided learning too much about the Terri Schiavo case. It just seemed too depressing to deal with, and I admit that in cases where someone is in a “persistent vegetative state,” I side with those who question the wisdom of keeping such a person alive, for no other reason than the person’s heart is still beating.

I view death, under such circumstances, as the ultimate issue of privacy. I recall the case, many years ago, of the woman who was trapped in her lifeless body with Lou Gehrig’s disease, making it plain that she no longer wanted to live. I believed that in her case her wish to die should have been honored (as I believe it finally was).

However, this case is quite different, in that there appears to be nothing resembling clear and convincing evidence of this poor woman’s wishes. There is even some reasonable basis to question her husband’s motives in wanting to let her starve to death (or end her misery, depending on whom you believe).

I visited Zombyboy’s site, as I regularly do, and he analyzed the issue in his usual thoughtful way. Most importantly, he directed his readers to view the videos of Ms. Schiavo (there are links to the videos on his site) before drawing any final conclusions. I echo his thoughts.

I viewed the videos, which continue to haunt me. Ms. Schiavo can be seen responding to her doctor’s request to “open [her] eyes wide.” In the video, she clearly hears the doctor’s voice and, over the next minute, struggles to comply with his request. Finally, after sustained effort, she opened her eyes wide.

In another video, Ms. Schiavo listens to honky tonk piano music being played for her and responds by laughing, and in yet another, she sees her mother and smiles.

That did it for me. Ms. Schiavo is clearly not in a vegetative state. She responds to stimuli in a matter that cannot be called reflexive. On some level, she is aware of her surroundings.

It may well be that Ms. Schiavo is trapped in a useless body, and is unable to communicate her wish to die. However, it may well be that she is trapped in a useless body and is unable to communicate her wish to live. It is difficult to imagine a more horrifying scenario.

Absent clear and convincing, pre-existing evidence of what she would want done under such circumstances, (and apparently there is no such evidence), one is left with a horrible dilemma. Given the awful options, and after viewing the video, and being mindful that the consequences of an error in judgment either way may be tragic, I would have to opt for not taking measures that would ensure Ms. Schiavo’s death.

It is the absence of prior evidence of Ms Schiavo’s wishes and her inability to presently communicate her wishes, despite her awareness of her surroundings (at least at some level), that distinguishes this from a “right to die” case.

If Ms. Schiavo could somehow clearly signal her desire to live or not to live (by eye movements or otherwise), I would fully support honoring her wishes. However, as long as there is doubt about what those wishes are, I cannot support taking measures that would surely end her life.
~ Monday, October 20, 2003
Anthrax - Old News? Not here.
I had thought that the only real thing left of the October 2001 anthrax attacks is a still-open case to locate the person or persons responsible. The attacks resulted in five deaths and three times as many cases of non-fatal anthrax poisoning, not to mention the virtual crippling of commerce, as businesses regularly emptied their facilities in response to suspected attacks.

I guess I wasn’t paying attention.

It turns out that the Hamilton, New Jersey Post Office has been closed and sealed since October 2001 when it was determined that at least four anthrax laced letters (addressed to the New York Post, Tom Brokaw, Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy) passed through the facility.

Only now have federal and state authorities approved the final step in the cleanup of the 228,000 square foot building. The two-month process involves pumping chlorine dioxide into the building. It is thought that this procedure (the same one that was used to decontaminate Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., and the Brentwood postal facility) will eliminate any remaining anthrax spores.

Because the process is corrosive, the building will have to be refurbished, and virtually everything in the building will have to be replaced. This will add an additional eight months to the project. It is expected that the facility will be safe and functional again in about a year.

Just another reminder of just how vulnerable we are.
~ Sunday, October 19, 2003
If you don’t recognize the name "Dion," maybe this post is not for you. However, I find it difficult to believe that, even those who don’t instantly recognize the name (not the “Dion” preceded by the name “Celine”) have somehow managed to get through life without ever having heard “Runaround Sue,” The Wanderer,” “Where or When” or “Ruby Baby.” Well, Dion did those tunes and a zillion more.

I recently received Dion’s latest CD, called “Dion, New Masters.” As the CD Notes explain, not long ago Dion walked into a Miami recording studio along with the members of his road band, and “some of the best doo-wop harmony singers in the business” and proceeded to record new versions of some of his classic hits, along with some cover tunes and two new originals.

I have already listened to it at least a half dozen times.

Dion (real name, “Dion DiMucci”) began singing at age five and has been at it ever since. Some of the classics on the CD include:

Ruby Baby
Lovers Who Wander
A Teenager in Love
I Wonder Why (Perhaps Dion at his best)
Where or When
Drip Drop
Donna the Prima Donna
Runaround Sue
The Wanderer

They guy is amazing. By my arithmetic, he is on the wrong side of sixty, but his voice is as clear and true as that of a twenty-year old. He hits all the notes with laser-like accuracy, and his phrasing is hard to beat.

The new versions are true to the originals, but often with just a bit of added flair, born of maturity and a lifetime of singing.

I would be surprised if anyone could listen to these tunes and not end up tapping their feet. For me, the songs produced more than foot tapping. They brought back and jazzed up old memories, and they gave me goose bumps.

Goose bumps are the ultimate barometer of musical excellence for me.


Anyone who has ever owned a dog should take a look at Two Nervous Dogs and its handy guide that translates Dogspeak into English. For example, it points out the importance differences between “moof” and “moof.. moof” and how each differs from “Mmff.”

It’s funny. And, you know what? I think the author is absolutely right.
~ Saturday, October 18, 2003
No one ever gave me a surprise party – that is, until last night.

My friend Ken, the anal-retentive “cruise director,” and the Original Bill (each with spouse in tow) picked us up last night for what was to be just a laidback dinner in a newly discovered, comfortable, family owned restaurant. It is a BYOB place, so I was carrying three bottles of nice red wine in a bag. We had the usual laughs in the car on the way to the place, and it promised to be a nice, friendly, quiet way to end what was a pretty busy week.

As we entered the place, I made the necessary right turn and then a second right turn in the direction of the table where we have been seated in the past. As I made the second right turn, I heard “SURPRISE,” and I could see that a bunch of the Usual Suspects had assembled in advance. I also saw that daughter TJ was there with her husband, J. Even one of the Usual Suspects, who was out of state playing lots of golf and drinking lots of vodka, called in at that moment to say “Happy Birthday.”

There were plenty of well wishes, hugs, handshakes and lots of laughter.

I was completely flabbergasted and very touched by it all.

After an excellent dinner, which was accompanied by, cocktails (some of the Usual Suspects brought vodka), wine and more and more laughs, out came a beautiful, enormous, custom decorated cake.

After the dinner part of the evening was over, we headed off to a local and most excellent VFW Post, where we had more than a few drinks, some primo cigars, courtesy of Bill the Ham, and a few rather hilarious games of shuffleboard.

It was a very special night – one that I will never forget.
~ Friday, October 17, 2003
Birthday – the Good with the Bad.
First, I would like to thank all those who sent good wishes to me yesterday. I appreciate them very much.

So, here’s how it went on my essentially blog-free birthday night. I had a great dinner, along with a couple glasses of excellent sangiovese wine. After dinner, I had a wonderful, fattening dessert, which was eaten guilt-free, as calories don't count on one’s birthday. I opened some presents, which consisted of some fine bourbon and a few primo CD’s.

I fired up a CAO corona and sat down in Mr. Recliner, to watch the Yankees play Boston. Admittedly, I am not currently much of a baseball fan, but when I was a fan, I was a rabid Yankees fan – the stuff of another post. I nodded off (after finishing the cigar) while the Red Sox were in the lead, and I woke up to a tie score, five minutes before the game winning homer. After the game and the post game hoopla, I fell asleep again in Mr. Recliner. Up to this point, the night was excellent.

However, when I awoke, the television was showing Suzanne Somers’ latest infomercial, which features her looking fabulous working out on one of her latest exercise contraptions. Then it dawned on me.

It was also Suzanne Somers’ birthday.

In fact, Ms. Somers and I are exactly the same age (although it is possible that one of is as much as twenty-three hours and 59 minutes older than the other). She looks absolutely terrific, and I...well......

~ Thursday, October 16, 2003
No Bloggin' Tonight.
I'm kicking back tonight and takin' it easy, because, well, it's my Birthday.

Have a mahvelous evening y'all.

Another urbane, judicious, interesting, charming, multi-talented, witty, and just plain swell LIBRAN.
~ Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Yep, that’s the catchy title of an anti-American propaganda video put together by North Koreas and shown on television in South Korea and Japan. If the producers’ goal was to piss off Americans, they succeeded in spades with this American.

Note: The audio portion of the video is in Korean (except for the two words in the catchy title), but subtitles are provided.

via Attu Sees All
~ Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Ah Ha!
I had a very pleasant business-related dinner in a very nice restaurant, which resulted in my arriving home quite late. At first I blamed the long day and my fatigue for my inability to think of anything to write that is worth reading. Then I came across this bit of excellent medical advice from my friend Brian the Air Force vet, which was:

Never hold your farts in; they travel up your spine into
your brain...and that's when you get shitty ideas.

It’s all clear to me now.
Not in Saddam’s Iraq.
Super G, who is a civilian (Jersey guy) working in Iraq at helping the Iraqis to build a government from the ground up reports in Babal On! that there are now bagels in Baghdad. Another step closer to the goal line, methinks.
More Linkage.
I’m too tired to do much heavy lifting, so I figure that this is a good time to make a few additions to the blogroll. There are just so many great blogs out there that I will simply have to learn to read faster. I still am able to get through the entire blogroll and another bunch that are bookmarked, but it is getting to be a bit of a challenge. But, a good challenge, methinks.

These are the new additions. If you haven’t already checked them out, please do. I think you will like them as much as I do.

The Accidental Jedi Deb spent some time in the U.S. Navy (OCS), and has had first-hand experience with drill sergeants (called drill instructors there, I believe), a favorite subject of mine. She also does a helluva blog.

Velociworld This guy’s got grit and a great sense of humor.

Straignt White Guy The author is a guitar picker with excellent taste in music, and a sense of humor that goes for the jugular. Good stuff.

The Cheese Stands Alone I took an instant liking to LeeAnn and her writing, even though the title of her blog reminds me of my kindergarten angst about the possibility of a bad outcome in a spirited game of “Farmer in the Dell.”

Go forth and read.
~ Monday, October 13, 2003
So, You Have a Blog?
How often have you had a conversation with a non-blogger that goes something like this?

“You mentioned that you have a blog? Did you say ‘blog’ or ‘blob’?”

“It’s a ‘blog,’ not a ‘blob.’ It’s short for weblog?”

“Oh, and what is a weblog?”

“Weblogs are internet sites on which people write dated entries.”

“Oh, so lots of people write things on your blog?”

“No, I’m the only one who writes things there.”

“Are you the only person who has a blog?”

“No, lots of people have blogs. In fact, it is estimated that a couple million people have them.”

“And they all write things in them?”

“That’s correct.”

“Who reads the stuff?”

“It depends on the blog. Some bloggers …”

(Laughter) “Did you say ‘bloggers’?”

“Yeah, that’s what people who have a blog are called.”

“So, you’re a ‘blogger’?” (more laughter)

“Yes I am.”

“What kind of things do you write?”

“I write whatever I feel like writing on any given day.”

“You’re shitting me. You sit down and write something every day and put it on the Internet?”

“That’s right.”

“Why would you want to do that? Do you get paid for doing it? Is it some kind of club?”

“No, I don’t get paid to do it, and no, it is not a club.”

“So, then, why do you do it?”

“I like to write. It is both relaxing and stimulating at the same time. It’s a pleasant mental exercise, and it provides an outlet for creative impulses.”

(More laughter) “Creative impulses? You mean like an artist or something?”

“Yeah. Something like that.”

“And people actually read the things you write?”

“Yeah, some people actually do read the things I write.”

“Who are they?”

“Although I know who some of my readers are, mostly I don’t know who they are.”

“And, I suppose that you read things that other people write.”

“Of course.”

“Why would you want to do that?”

(Beginning to lose patience)“Listen. I read other bloggers’ writing because it’s damned good. That’s why.”

“Are you telling me that a collection of people sitting at computers, who are not professional writers, are writing things worth reading?”

“That’s exactly what I’m telling you. Some bloggers focus on news and politics. Others share their thoughts and observations on a whole host of things. Sometimes the writing is very serious, and sometimes it is light and funny. You would be amazed at the amount of writing talent that is out there. Many bloggers are clearly talented enough to make a living writing, but, for one reason or another, they are not professional writers.”

“I dunno. It sounds pretty boring to me. I think I’d rather watch television. Don’t you miss lots of the new television programs by doing all that writing?”

“Yeah, but that’s OK, because I prefer to write and to read what other bloggers are writing.”

“OK, so how would I find your blog on my computer? You said it was on the Internet, didn’t you?. Do you have a website or something like that? Could you write instructions for me about how to find your site?”

“I’ll send you an e-mail.”

“Great. Nice seeing you. What do you say we do lunch sometime?”

“Yeah, sure. Sounds good. Take it easy.”

“Hey wait! Do you have my e-mail address?”

“I’m sure I have it somewhere. Bye.”

(Thinking to self) “What an asshole.”

(Thinking to self) “What an asshole.”

~ Saturday, October 11, 2003
The Laptop, the Satanic Red Triangle, and the Sorry Ass.
Yes, I did bring my laptop with me to Cooperstown. Before I left, I made sure that I had all the damned cords necessary to connect it to electricity and shit. I made sure that I also had my laminated 8” x 11” multi-colored idiot card, replete with pictures that purported to tell me how to get a “dial up” connection via AT&T.

I had to take special care packing the damned thing in the car in order in order to prevent it from getting thumped during the ride by a bouncing nine iron. I figured that all this effort was worth the trouble, because I would finally be able to be one of those “reporting-from-a-remote-location” bloggers.

When I arrived at the hotel room, I carefully unzipped all the zippers and un-tore the Velcro stuff (Is “un-tear” what one does to undo Velcro?), and got about setting things up. I located the cord that plugs into the wall to get electricity to the laptop, and I found where the other end plugs into the computer. Excellent.

Then it was time to hook up the telephone-type wire. Sure enough, there was a little telephone jack under the desk. I began to think that this really was going to be a snap. I reached into one of the many pouches in the multi-zippered, multi-Velcro’d, multi-pouched bag and located what had the look of a telephone cord. I could see where it plugged into the wall, and I could see where it plugged into the back of the laptop. Snap City.


This cord was too big to fit into either place. I stared at it like a damned fool for a full minute, wondering if the hotel was screwed up, or if the computer was screwed up, or if I was screwed up. Like even a bigger jackass, I tried it a few more times, but it was the equivalent of trying to fit a baseball through a keyhole.

I returned to the multi-zippered, multi-Velcro’d, multi pouched bag and located yet another telephone-type cord. By now, I was beginning to break a sweat. Back on my knees under the desk, I found myself beginning to wonder whether getting online was worth all this aggravation. However, I was elated to see that the cord fit nicely into the wall jack, and it even produced the satisfying little “click” indicating that I had just hit the long ball. Primo.

Back on my feet. Now, I just had to plug the other end of the telephone-type cord into the computer. Another problem. The damned thing did not fit into the place in the back of the computer where I thought it went. With each passing second, the laptop came closer to becoming a flying object. More staring. More sweating. I was ready to give up, when I saw that the telephone jack for the computer is not located on the back of the computer, but rather it is on the side of the damned thing.

Just who are the miserable, sadistic bastards who make these things?

I plugged the telephone-type cord it into the laptop and heard the telltale “click.” I wanted to “high-five” someone, but there was no one there, so I quietly congratulated myself for my hard-won technical successes so far. I knew that I was just moments away from being on the web.

I opened up the cover on the thing and managed to find the power switch. This was not a given, because at the office the entire gizwiz is plugged into something called a “port replicator” that has its own on-off switch.

In a second or two, my login screen lit up. Yes!!!

I entered my login name and password. Internet here I come.

I sat down at the desk with my little piece of paper containing my two special passwords, knowing I would need them in a moment or two. I looked at the first bit of instruction on the laminated idiot card, and it said:

“Click on the red triangle that is located on the right side of your task bar at the bottom of the screen.”
After that the idiot card listed about a half dozen more steps necessary to getting online.

I placed my index finger on the nipple-like widget in the middle of the keyboard to move the cursor to the requisite part of the screen. The cursor tended to “mosey” rather than to sail directly to my desired location, and it would tend mosey where it damned well pleased. After a minute or so on the nipple, I managed to muscle the cursor to the task bar at the bottom of the screen, where I saw that there were several little “clickable” icons.

Unfortunately, none of them was a red triangle.

What?? You’ve got to be shitting me!

I re-checked the idiot card, certain that I must have missed something. Nope. I had read it right. The very first step in the process was to click on the goddamned red triangle. I then carefully read the entire idiot card to see how to deal with a “no red triangle” situation. Of course, the idiot card was stone silent on the “no red triangle” scenario. I am certain that the satanic shits who make laptops and their minions from hell who write instructions must have decided that a really cool way to drive some jerk in a Cooperstown hotel nuts would be to direct the sorry ass to click a red triangle on the task bar and then not put a red triangle on the friggin’ task bar.

I struggled with the nipple mouse a bit more to try find what I thought might have been a hidden red triangle, all to no avail. Demonstrating supreme stupidity, I even worked the drunken mouse up to “help.” I should have known from past experience that “Help” never is.

I took a couple deep, cleansing breaths to fend off the urge to smash the thing with my fist. Then I looked at my watch and realized that I was about to be late for dinner, so I turned off the power and closed the cover on Mister Laptop.

That’s where the piece of cybershit sat for the duration of the trip - on the desk, powerless, and about as useful as a cinder block with a power cord. Friday morning I crawled back under the desk, untethered the torture device from the hotel, and placed it, along with the useless cords and the even more useless idiot card back in the multi-zippered, multi-Velcro’d, multi-pouched, useless bag for the trip back to Jersey and to its home on the dumbass “port replicator,” where it shall remain forever more.

I really should have known better.
~ Friday, October 10, 2003
I’m Back.
Thrilling, right?

I’m absolutely beat, but I wanted to do a comprehensive trip report while the details are fresh in my cruller.

I was here. I stayed here. Ate dinner here. Didn’t go here, because I spent my free time doing this, which I do very badly and this, which I do very well.

There you have it.
~ Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Business Trip.
I will be away on a bit of a business trip from Wednesday through Friday. This will be the first time that I will be bringing a laptop with me. I normally don’t DO laptop. I rather hate the damned thing.

For openers, the little, nipple-like widget in the middle of the keyboard that is supposed to be the mouse makes me crazy. Try as I might, the little arrow on the screen goes where it damned well pleases. However, I can avoid using the quasi-nipple mouse, because the laptop I will be sporting also has the Magic Slate (are you old enough to know that that is?) type mouse-thing, where you move your finger across a little matchbook-sized piece of plastic to move the cursor. The problem is that I hate that too.

Of course all my mouse bitching will be academic if I cannot figure out how to set the damned thing up (i.e. which wire goes where and all that shit) after I have had a couple cocktails. Assuming I can figure out what plugs in where, I then have to remember a fistful of passwords to dial up and log on.

Assuming that I can set the damned thing up and can remember the damned passwords through an alcohol-induced miasma, I still have to figure out the “working-online” vs. the “working-offline” and synchronizing crapola. Of course, all of the foregoing presumes that I will have any time at all to screw around with dumbass laptop, when I could be drinking.

Finally, assuming that I can set it all up, remember all the passwords, figure out how to “work-offline,” sort out all the synchronizing shit, and that I have time to dork around with it, I still may not have anything worth a shit to say.

Bottom line. I may be offline until Friday night or Saturday. If that happens, you’ll know that Jimbo and Mister Laptop had a falling out, in which case I direct you to Mister Blogroll, paying particular attention to: Twisty, Cousin Jack, Rita, mtpolitics, Sgt. Hook, Da Goddess, Zombyboy, and Acidman.

There may be a quiz.

Pop Quiz.
Which of the following is this guy?

(a) a terrorist
(b) a dumbshit
(c) a creative shoe manufacturer
(d) a Cruz Bustamante operative
(e) a California asshole who thinks he can pull shit in Jersey
(f) all of the above
(g) any three of the above
~ Monday, October 06, 2003
The Oldest American Throws the Sixes.
Elena Slough, 114 years old, died peacefully in her sleep yesterday in Cape May, New Jersey. She passed away just a few days after the death of her daughter, Wanda Allen, 90 years old. It is not clear whether Elena knew of her daughter’s death.

Elena remained active until approximately six years ago, with her favorite things being Frank Sinatra, ballroom dancing, and ice cream. The best evidence indicates that she was born in a log cabin in Pennsylvania on July 8, 1888, which means that she lived in three centuries and saw seven U.S. wars. Her first husband died in the influenza pandemic of 1918, and her second husband died 67 years ago. She is survived by a son, a grandson and a great-grandson.

Now that Mrs. Slough has died, the oldest Americans are two unidentified people in Ohio who each are 113 years old. The oldest documented living person in the world is Kamoto Hongo of Japan at 116 years old. Even Hongo has a way to go to beat the record of the person considered to be the longest living person on earth, Jeanne Calment of France who died in 1997 at age 122.

One has to wonder if living for 114 years is a good thing.

Ask me when I’m 113.
~ Sunday, October 05, 2003
Another Tiger Story.
New York’s Finest seemingly can do it all.

To the sounds of enormous jungle roars, a police sniper rappelled down the side of a Harlem apartment building yesterday and fired tranquilizer darts through an open fifth-floor window to subdue — seat belts, please — a 350-pound Bengal tiger. Link

The tiger was being kept in the New York City apartment along with a five-foot long caiman.

The police responded to an anonymous complaint that a wild animal was being kept at the address. When they arrived at the scene, a neighbor in the apartment “complained of large amounts of urine and a strong smell coming through the ceiling” and that her daughter had actually seen the tiger.

After two well-aimed tranquilizer darts were fired through the apartment window, the police subdued that animal for transport to a local animal shelter, which will arrange ultimately to place the cat in a location in Ohio. The caiman was also taken to a local shelter.

The head veterinarian of the Bronx Zoo was called to the scene, and along with expressing outrage over the conditions in which the animals were being kept, he remarked, "If he [the Tiger] had escaped it would have been a very bad thing.”

Ya think?
~ Saturday, October 04, 2003
Belly Up the Bar.
Tomorrow, Sunday, we are opening the American Legion Bar for the autumn, winter and spring. We’re only open on Sundays, and we close the place during the summer, as most of the Usual Suspects have other places to go and things to do on summer weekends. I expect that, as in past years, the place will be populated mostly by the Usual Suspects, but others stop by as well, and it’s always great to see everyone. We’re all Post members, and just about all of us are close in age, as the Vietnam War saw to it that we all wound up military service at about the same time. Most of us ended up in the Army, while the rest of the gang is pretty evenly split between the Navy and Air Force. Strange, we have no Marines or Coasties.

Some went to Vietnam and did a fair amount of shooting and getting shot at. Others of us caught a lucky roll of the dice and served elsewhere. What we all have in common is having left home to wear the uniform during an unpopular war, when it would have been much nicer to stay at home, continue our education or begin a career. We all pretty much like the same kind of music, laugh at the same kinds of things, have about the same kinds of ailments, and mercilessly break one another’s horns. In the simplest terms, we’re friends.

I have the dubious distinction of being the Bar Chairman (i.e. the guy who gets the complaints), but in truth I have lots of help. No one gets paid, and we all take a turn tending bar. The other homey tradition we have is that whoever has the bar on Sunday, cooks up, buys or brings a bunch of food for everyone, so that no one has to make Sunday dinner. It can be as simple as treating everyone to pizza, or sandwiches, or it can get pretty elaborate, which most often happens when Rich, the current Post commander, has the bar. He served as a cook in the 101st Airborne Division. It works out well for us, because he only knows how to make LARGE QUANTITIES of food!

Sundays at the Post is not just for the guys, as spouses are always in attendance, although they typically pull a couple tables together and leave the bar for the guys. It’s a family deal, as children (young and old), and even some grandchildren come in tow.

We have a couple televisions, so people can watch the sporting events of the day. Often, however, the sound is turned off the televisions so that we can play the ever-present sixties music and other stuff as well. We also have the usual dartboard and pool table that one often finds in American Legion Posts. Last year, one of the Post members donated a completely refurbished (he did it himself over several years) nickelodeon that really plays and doesn’t even require a nickel.

Tending bar there used to be a complete no-brainer, because the most complicated thing you had to do was take caps off beer bottles, or in the extreme case, mix “X” with “Y” (e.g. scotch with soda). Now, however, as everyone’s tastes have become a bit more refined, we find ourselves making martinis (several kinds), manhattans (bourbon or Southern Comfort are the faves), and the Sea breeze, Bay breeze variety of drinks.

Some of the strictly Budweiser guys, when it their turn to tend bar, still get flummoxed when asked for anything more complicated than a shot and a beer. Even the shot has Paulie scratching his head, but he’s a Navy guy, so no one is surprised. Even then, there is always someone there, who is a bit more civilized, to hop on the other side of the bar to whip up the requested drink.

The bar provides a place where everyone can get together once a week to laugh and share stories of the past week that run the gamu, from family to job, to God-knows-what. We often joke that, if you miss a week, you miss a lot. No one stays too late, and when the Sopranos are on, staying late is absolutely out of the question.

It really is a place where everybody knows your name.
~ Friday, October 03, 2003
Just a Few Words.
The news today was a veritable barge-load of blather about Rush Limbaugh. I am sure that others have a good deal more to say about this than I, but I am, after all, the reigning monarch of this microscopic piece of cyberspace, and because I cannot resist saying a couple words about it, I shall.

Rush a Racist?
The racist charge is one hundred percent pure bullshit. His statement on ESPN breaks down into two parts. First, he gave his opinion about the athletic prowess of Donovan McNabb (a name unknown to me before yesterday), and he then opined that the press might be cutting this man a break because he is black.

As for the first part of Limbaugh’s statement, it may well be that he was all wrong about Mr. McNabb’s prowess. I don’t pretend to know. However, all one needs to do is listen for ten minutes to one of those awful sports call-in programs or watch one of those dipshit pre-game football shows to see that opinions about sports and about athletes are as common as shit and often about as interesting.

Assuming for the moment that Rush was factually wrong about the man’s ability as a quarterback, so what? It was his opinion. Sports fans could (and seemingly do) argue forever about McNabb’s or any other quarterback’s relative merits. Limbaugh never said anything even remotely suggesting that there is something about blacks that prevents them from successfully playing quarterback. That, sports fans, would be a racist statement, but Limbaugh never said anything like that.

As for the second part of Limbaugh’s statement, give me a break, for Chrissake. He said (rather inarticulately), “What we have here is a little social concern in the N.F.L. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well — black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well.”

What’s the basis for the outrage? Where is the racism?

What I see is a charge that the media is overly concerned about political correctness and is condescending to black players (condescension being something that is perhaps even more sickening, pernicious and harmful than out-in-the-open racism). That is also his opinion, and if the media disputes his opinion, that is something between him and the media to slug out. Neither Donovan McNabb nor blacks in general have a dog in that fight.

The NFL has apparently expressed its outrage at Limbaugh’s statement as well. More hypocritical horseshit. The NFL expressly plays the race game by requiring NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for a coaching position before hiring anyone for the spot. This is a practice that is profoundly dumb, and one that is supremely condescending to worthy black candidates who will always be left to wonder whether they got a real or a token interview. So, for the NFL to bristle at the statement that the media “has been very desirous that a black quarterback [and black coaches] … do well” is nonsensical and downright laughable.

Finally, I get kick out of the New York Times tut-tutting about suggestions that the media might, just might cut a black athlete a special break. Wasn’t it the New York Times that, in the name of giving a minority reporter extra breaks, tolerated Jason Blair’s known plagiarism and shoddy reporting, conduct that would have gotten anyone else fired?

Whether you like Limbaugh or not, using his most uninteresting statement as a basis for concluding he is a racist is crap.

Rush an Illegal User and Purchaser of Legal Drugs?
Holding aside the partisan motives of those responsible for breaking this story, and holding aside the skuzzy tactics used to obtain the story, and holding aside the stench surrounding the story’s timing, these allegations, if true, are sad and serious.

Notably Mr. Limbaugh has not denied any of the allegations, and indeed his posture thus far bespeaks a person who has been well counseled to say nothing, at least until the government tips its hand. In this regard, it has been reported that Limbaugh has retained Roy Black, the well-known defense attorney.

If indeed he became addicted to prescription opiates and similar pain-killing drugs, he dealt with it in exactly the wrong (and reckless) way. If truly addicted, he would have been much wiser to deal with his addiction publicly, rather than, as charged, to enter the netherworld of buying drugs illicitly. I think that most people, based on personal experience or based on knowledge of others who have managed to become addicted to pain-killers, would have given him enormous amounts of slack, and his fans would have found his forthrightness to be something else to love about him.

Unfortunately for him, he could well be in legal soup over this one. Time will tell.
It's RITA's Day.
It's Rita's birthday today. Stop by to wish her a MAHvelous day.

She's an interesting, well-balanced, even-tempered, judicious, charming and intelligent LIBRAN. We're all that way.
~ Thursday, October 02, 2003
Yikes! I’m Getting Old.
Television was a relatively new thing, and in our house it was a large, brown, wooden box with a 10-inch screen. There were, at most, five or six working channels, and to change stations, you actually had to get out of the chair and turn the dial.

I remember sitting in a little rocking chair (which I still have) about three feet from the screen of that 10-inch television and watching the Howdy Doody Show every night. (Check out the site. It's great). The show was named for the “star,” Howdy Doody, a marionette, who appeared each night with his pal Buffalo Bob Smith, who served as the master of ceremonies. Howdy lived in Doodyville with his friends Dilly Dally, Flub a Dub (a creature that was an amalgam of eight separate animals), and the grumpy mayor of Doodyville, Phineas T. Bluster.

Also appearing was Clarabell the (gasp!) Clown, who only spoke by way of tooting horns on the peanut box he wore around his waist. The original Clarabell was Bob Keeshan, who later went on to become Captain Kangaroo (although he spent time an apprentice undertaker between his Clarabell and Captain Kangaroo gigs). Other humans appearing on the show were Chief Thunderthud (who invented the exclamation, “Kowabonga!”), and the Indian Princess Summerfall Winterspring.

The program ran for thirteen years, for a total of 2,343 episodes and was broadcast live before approximately 40 children, who sat in the “Peanut Gallery.” Without calling itself “educational television,” the program always contained valuable lessons for young children, which were cleverly hidden in stories, songs and sketches that kept us spellbound each and every night.

I also remember being a regular viewer of the Rootie Kazootie Show. It starred Rootie Kazootie (a puppet rather than a marionette) and his dog Gala Poochie the pup (whose original name was “Nipper,” but had to be changed because that was the name of the RCA Victor Dog). Also appearing were Rootie’s girlfriend, Polka Dottie, who, not surprisingly, always wore a polka dotted dress, and the villain, “Poison Zoomack,” whose goal in life was to steal Polka Dottie’s polka dots.

It was great stuff.
~ Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Happy Birthday Newark Airport.
Newark Airport, recently renamed “Newark Liberty International Airport,” (although it will always be “Newark Airport” to the locals) is seventy-five years old today. When it opened on October 1, 1928 on a piece of swampy marshland at the behest of the City of Newark, it was called “Newark Municipal Airport.”

When it opened, the airport was primarily used for transporting mail. In addition to transporting New Jersey’s airmail, it also handled mail that was trucked in from Manhattan, totaling five million pounds of mail per year by 1938. However, the then Mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia, wrested the airmail business from New Jersey and brought it to the New York’s “new” airport in Queens, which is now better known as LaGuardia Airport.

Even though its primary mission was the transport of mail, soon after it opened the airport became the worlds busiest. It served 90,000 passengers in 1931 and by 1938, 350,000 travelers passed through it’s passenger terminal, which had been built in 1935. During World War II, the airport was taken over by the U.S. Army Air Corps, and in 1948 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey took over its control, and it has remained in control of the airport until today.

Newark Airport is known for having some famous “firsts,” such as the first air control tower, the first paved runways, and the first passenger terminal. The original passenger terminal and control tower now house administrative offices.

Unfortunately, it also has the dubious distinction of being the departure point for flight 93 destined for San Francisco on September 11, 2001 (a flight I had taken many times before September 11th), which ultimately crashed in the fields of Pennsylvania.

Passenger traffic peaked in 2000, with 34.2 million travelers, but since September 11th, the number of passengers has decreased. Last year 29.2 million travelers passed through the airport.

When I was a young boy, it was not uncommon for my parents to take me on Sunday drives to the airport just to watch the planes come and go. Today, with air travel being so commonplace, a Sunday outing to the airport must seem silly, if not downright crazy. However, back then (in the early fifties) it made for an exciting day, and it didn’t cost anything. The entire airport consisted of only the single original terminal, and visitors could walk out on the roof of the building (known as the “observation deck”) to watch the noisy propeller-driven planes pick up and discharge their passengers directly on the tarmac fifty feet from the observation deck.

The observation deck was always well populated not only with curious visitors, but also with people who were there either to see their friends and family off (and no one would leave until the plane was actually airborne) or those who were picking up family and friends, who would wave at those of us on the observation deck as they exited the plane. It was a small, personal, and friendly place – nothing like today.

The airport has grown and changed a great deal since then, but then again, so have I

Powered By Blogger TM