Friday, September 30, 2005

Weekend Assignment #79: Sweet Home Chicago

Weekend Assignment #79: Sweet Home Chicago

Weekend Assignment #79: Chicago! It's a toddlin' town. Share some of your favorite things about the City of Big Shoulders. If you've ever been to Chicago, memories of your visit would be a topic. If you live in or near Chicago, some hometown favorite things would be good. If you've never been, share your favorite Chicago-related thing, from the Jordan-era Bulls to the Blues Brothers to Ferris Bueller. As long as it's tangentially related to Chicago, it's all good.

Extra Credit: Chicago Deep Dish Pizza -- the best pizza ever? Your thoughts.

Dear John,

A wicked strong cold front blew through about 12 hours ago. Of course, the leaves are still (mostly) on the trees, so there was a fiercsome noise coming from the woods as this gale blew herself out. With all the rain we've had lately from Katrina and Rita and stuff, it wouldn't surprise me if whole, great swaths of timber have “lodged,” i.e. fallen part way over into the neighboring tree, knocking that one, roots and all, into it's neighbor and so on down the line for a quarter mile or so at a whack. I guess I will have to make a point of going out back and checking the woodlot. Hope no one mistakes me for a moose. Moose “grunting” season begins on Monday. There isn't a whole helluva lot of hunting involved. Scout out an area, pick a site that is accessible from a road with a 4WD pickup truck, sit in a tree stand or just off the verge of the road (outside of the right-of-way – no hunting on the roads allowed), shoulder your large bore rifle-like weapon of choice, and be vewy, vewy noisy. Break sticks. Thwack the bushes, Pick up your megaphone (preferably rolled birch bark, if you want to be authentic) and let fly with the goldarndest beller of a horny moose you ever did hear, thwack some old antlers awhile, bellow some more and your likely to have a couple of cow meese come wandering your way looking for the likely progenitor for their next offspring. Shoot. Clean. Carry. Now does THAT sound like hunting? Taking advantage of horny moose in their annual time of need? Admittedly, there's a whole lot of grunting going on, particularly if your are French or visited a Canuck-style hunters breakfast that morning. Chow down on ployes, maple syrup, poutine, eggs coddled in bacon fat, the shredded pig “parts” cakes whose name eludes me at the moment -- similar to scrapple, about a gallon of coffee with rich cream skimmed off last night's milking, a dozen biscuits and fresh-churned sweet cream butter – the noises you hear out in the bush won't be two moose going at it. No, sireee! They be the tummy rumbles and other sounds of digestion and elimination generated by grown men who know better than to drink 64 ounces of coffee with a two cup grease chaser!

Well, you have me stumped with your choice of Chicago as this week's predigested muse. I can't rightly say I have been to Chicago. I've driven through a couple of times and I have spent interminable hours and hours in the terminal and on the tarmac out at O'hare trying to go somewhere else. I've seen it from a distance in both morning light and colored by sunset. But, aside from driving through at 30 to 45 miles an hour on the expressway and thruway, I have never set foot in Chi town proper.

Even though I haven't been there, I AM grateful for its existence. My daughter found herself and her husband in Chicago. The true impetus for the National Fire Protection Association is intimately involved with preventing another conflagration like the one caused by Mrs. O'Leary's cow. There's the stockyards that provoked C.S. Lewis's “The Problem of Pain.” Where would we be without Roger Ebert? Sara Paretsky's “V. I. Warshawski”? Studs Terkel (transplanted New Yorker, but most think of him as a Chicagoan)?

There's the Sears Tower, and Union Station. Chicago was the mid-western hub of railroad activity right from the start. Situated as it is on the shores of Lake Michigan, it was always an attractive land-locked port which later became a major inland seaport with the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Then there's the Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Stock Market. “Business and Chicago have been inextricably bound since the city's beginnings in the early nineteenth century. Although there is no truth to the story that Chicago is Potawatomi for “let's make a deal,” economic and business concerns have not merely shaped but determined Chicago's destiny for almost two hundred years.” At least, according to the “Encyclopedia of Chicago.”

There's a lot to be said for Chicago. It's people are stalwart, resilient and astute in business. They are also corrupt, with an extraordinary tolerance for mendacity and pain – witness Mayor Richard Daley and the Chicago White Sox, to cite only two.

But what really sets the city apart in my book is the humor. Second City, self-deprecating and spot-on hilarious. See for yourself:

Chicago Humor:

The Pope, Richard Nixon and Mayor Daley are in a lifeboat, lost at sea. Unfortunately, they only have enough drinking water for one person. The three of them decide to vote to determine who should get the water. They vote, and Daley wins 6 to 2.

Q: What's orange and sleeps six?
A: A streets and sanitation truck.

Q: How do you keep a bear out of your back yard?
A: Put up a goal post.

Q: What three streets in Chicago rhyme with vagina?
A: Paulina, Melvina and Lunt.

There you have my disorganized thoughts on a city I've never visited, but always meant to. Who knows, maybe in a year or two. Take care of Krissy and Athena and have a great weekend.


P.S. Deep dish pizza is for the birds. Give me a thick-crust flat pie pizza any day. If I want soggy pizza, I'll order a Calzone.

Great Imponderables!

1. When an agnostic dies, does he go to the "great perhaps"?

2. Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

3. Do you think Houdini ever locked his keys in his car?

4. Why is there a road sign that says "Braille Institute, Next Exit"?

5. Can atheists get insurance for acts of God?

6. If procrastinators had a club would they ever have a meeting?

7. If the #2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still #2?

8. Have you ever wondered why just one letter makes all the difference between here and there?

9. When you go into a hotel you always see reception. Why do you never just see ception?

10. If time heals all wounds, how come the belly button stays the same?

11. If a lawyer and an IRS agent were both drowning, and you could only save one of them, would you go to lunch or read the paper?

12. Isn't it strange that the same people who laugh at gypsy fortune tellers take economists seriously?

13. If genetic scientists crossed a chicken with a zebra would they get a four-legged chicken with its own barcode?

14. If practice makes perfect, and nobody's perfect, why practice?

15. Why is there always one in every crowd?

16. If all the world is a stage, where does the audience sit?

17. Is it possible to have deja vu and amnesia at the same time?

18. Why do hair shampoo instructions say "Lather. Rinse. Repeat"? If you did this, would you ever be able to stop?

19. Who decided "Hotpoint" would be a good name for a company that sells refrigerators?

20. How do you know when it's time to tune your bagpipes?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

MEME: The Politics Test

You are a

Social Conservative
(30% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(88% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Strong Republican

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Blame Brent over at UTI

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Death Sucks!

    I mentioned this over at Snoozelets, but so few people read that, that I might as well be pissing into the wind. So, here is linkage, off-AOL, worth adding to your list of favorites. A story, perhaps a novella or novel. Only time will tell. The author has adopted the unisex appellation “patch.” Give it a read – you'll be glad you did.

Death Sucks

On being a vampire kitty-cat.

Dine for America

I think JeffComedy over at What The Hell? made some mention of this. Now comes a reminder from one of the manufacturers of HO model train cars I buy on occasion, Athearn Trains. There is a good reason to plan on skipping dinner preparations on October 5 and going out to eat at participating restaurants. It's called “Dine for America: An restaurant industry benefit for Hurricane Katrina relief.” The participating restaurants donate a portion of earnings (e.g. 100% of profits at Chili's!, $1.00 per dessert at UNO's, etc.) to the American Red Cross' Katrina Disaster Relief Fund. Or, you could make a donation directly. But going out to dinner is more fun than simply writing a check and you don't have to do dishes afterwards!

Monday, September 26, 2005

MEME: Monday Madness

Click for link to Monday Madness

Monday, September 26, 2005

Otto says: "It's Monday again; time for new questions! Thank you, Tricia, for the first 4 questions below. Let's play!"

    1. Ice cream or Yogurt? Ice Cream
    2. What's your favorite board game? Scrabble
    3. Do you play video games? If yes, what game system(s) do you use? No. Used to have a Pong though...
    4. If you were given a chance to change your name, would you do it? If yes, what would your new name be? If, and this is a biggie, I could somehow have my accrued retirement and Social Security time accredited. Forced retirement without a pension is a bitch. New name – not on your life. No sense advertising your new identity to your enemies, is there?
    5. What are the last 2 blogs that you've visited? Please share the links with us so we can check them out. Sadly, the last 3 I visited were all “private” AOL Journals. Here's a couple you probably don't visit often or at all that you will find amusing: Surrounded By Nincompoops is a fun one, and I look forward to the now too infrequent cartoons from the mind of bobopuppyhead at The Happy Freaking Ray of Goddamn Sunshine
    6. What's your biggest frustration? Me, myself and I.

    Have a great week, stay out of the rain, wipe your feet on the mat and your hands on the hand towel, not the freaking guest towels! Eat right and mind your Mama or I'll tan your hide within an inch of your life ... Except for you, Suzy-Q, you like spanking way too much...

UUnconscious Mutterings - Week 138

I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Crave::lust
  2. Whole package::noodles
  3. Roommates::trouble
  4. 5:30::ungodly hour
  5. Lesbian::gay
  6. Poignant::touching
  7. Hurtful::mean-spirited
  8. You and I::On The Road Again
  9. Grateful::Dead
  10. Giggle::Goldie Hawn
Get your own words over at La Luna Niña's place and leave a link in her comments to your posting.

Sunday Seven -- Episode 4

Of the movies in your current DVD or VHS collection, name seven (in no particular order) that you have watched enough times to make your friends suspect that there might be something wrong with you but that you can't imagine not watching again.

Alrighty then:

  1. Shrek
  2. Ice Age
  3. The Crying Game
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Harvey
  6. Arsenic & Old Lace
  7. Casablanca
Want to play along? Stop by Patrick's Place, pick up a copy of the question there and leave a link in his comments to your answers. That pimple on your leg will slowly dissipate if you do, too. No, really. Have I ever lied to you?

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Saturday Six - Episode #76 & observations of a dying phreakazoid...

Get a copy of the questions and leave a link to your answers at Patrick's Place, home of the unofficial Official Mouthpiece of the VIVI Awards.
  1. Of the following, which one best describes you at your worst? (You can't select "None of the above!")
    a. One who doesn't finish what he/she starts
    b. One who talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk
    c. One who always finds the worst in a situation (see below the fold)
    d. One who generally knows what's right but does what's wrong

    2. Not counting shows like Saturday morning cartoons designed specifically for kids, what single show that you grew up watching religiously is now the one you most hate to sit through?
    I Love Lucy – it's sooo grating.
    3. Have you ever been so angry with a company that you swore you'd never do business with them again? If so, did you keep that promise?
    Yep, and so far I'm still not doing business with the local auto parts store that quited me one price and then claimed that was the jobber's price and I would have to pay full retail – about 150% more. Asswipes.
    4. Take this quiz: Are you psychic? No, despite it's claim that I am 70% ... I am a pre-cog and have trained observation skills, is all.

    5. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #68 from Lily: What's the longest you've talked on the phone in a single phone call, and who were you talking to? I keep saying you're nosy, Patrick and you keep proving me right. Even though the question is attributed to someone else, YOU put it on the quiz. Four and a half hours. Someone who's pants I wanted into desperately. Yes, I married her.

    6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #69 from Betty: (She recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas!) How do you feel about gambling?
    I can take it or leave it. I get no thrill and in general have an aversion to risking money. My brother, now deceased, was addicted to gambling. He'd bet on anything and everything. It ultimately cost him a relationship with me and possibly his life. Now, that's shameful to gamble those away. On the other hand, I have gambled my life in many dicey situations and am not so egotistical as to believe that they were probably the stupidest things I could have done.

      Have a nice Sunday and an even better week. It is time to kick your giving up another notch for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and now Rita. Sucks to be in southeastern Louisiana right about now. My daughter informs me they still have no meat, peanut butter or milk and eggs in the grocery stores in Baton Rouge. Most gas stations are still out or rationing it at $10 a visit. That's 50 miles (crow's flight) from New Orleans in the capital and (now) largest city in Louisiana. Her husband, a paramedic, has just been informed there will be NO overtime pay for the three-plus weeks he has worked 12 hour shifts, 7 days on, none off. Same for police and fire. School has been out all this time as they are being used to house evacuees and/or power has yet to be restored. There are next to no clean up supplies or rebuilding supplies. Cable is still out. Even in good parts of the city there are strangers, evacuees, camping in public parks and playgrounds, so you can't let the kids go to there to play, even if with you. Imagine how well YOU would do with young children under those situations. It's a wonder she hasn't started to kill small animals. And snakes. Lots of snakes are reemerging from wherever they hid from the worst of the weather.

      Down the peninsula, many dairy herds are totally wiped out. Farm buildings are flattened, so it is impossible to milk the kine that have survived – thus they are all drying up. Help isn't available – the farmhands evacuated and haven't returned. There are millions of feeder animals that must be disposed of. The stench is truly horrendous. There's no diesel fuel to run the farm tractors and generators. That means no pumps or fans in the 90 plus degree heat. It is very bad for the living who remain. Still.

      The failure of FEMA, the State of Louisiana and of local officials to adequately provision and plan for a Category 4 or 5 storm is criminal. And you know what? It isn't any better where you live. Where once there were plans and provision for the future there are empty warehouses and emergency goods converted to sales goods at Big Lots because there is no attempt to prepare for disasters in this country. That's too much like “socialism” or “communism” according to the neo-cons and greedy yuppies in charge. “Let the free market provide the goods and services needed in an emergency.” “We shouldn't tie up capital (money) in goods that may never be needed.”

      Being conservative does not mean ignoring the needs of people in need. Being a capitalist doesn't mean you don't plan for a rainy day. Being the richest nation on the planet doesn't mean you haven't got people in need. Being stupid, poor and lazy IS the human condition. Particularly when the temperature around you is over 85 degrees -- once relief is no longer available by shade and removal of clothing, working hard in the mid-day sun is the height of stupidity and even the stupid man knows this to be true. Particularly when there are no jobs to be had in the inner city other than crime.

      The problems of the “have-nots” in a society of “haves” aren't solvable by throwing money in the “have-nots” general direction. There really is a huge gap in ways and means in this society of ours and it is only going to get worse as the pace of technological advancement accelerates. Quite frankly, it appears to me that a growing number of people have reached the point where they no longer able to change, adapt, absorb and keep up with the rapid technological growth of the past century. They simply haven't got it in them.

      There really is a need for “No Child Left Behind.” It just isn't going to work in the hands of the “faith-based.” At the current rate of change, the slightest hiccup in a child's environment and they are condemned to a life of rapidly falling behind the curve. Combine that with pre-existing ignorance and apathy, the ascendancy of the Superstitious Right (fundamentalist christianity) and you have a recipe for the collapse of the nation's economy, permanently. There is no turning the clock back 50 years. It will be a rapid decline into the worst of times.

      America doesn't work anymore. What's worse, there are many who don't care. Too self-absorbed to see the tiger at their door, they will be the first screaming about “rights” and “doing something” and they will be the biggest hurdle to reversing the trend, because they refuse to see the problem is them. You. Me.

      Really. When was the last time you exercised your brain cells in the pursuit of benefits for your community? Your region? Mankind? Anything other than self and family?

      I thought so. Me, too.

      I don't have a cure-all. There are no fast, easy or cheap cures. Real life doesn't work that way. But it doesn't work that way for reasons. Are you aware of why things are the way they are? Ever study economics for even a moment?

      It is a sad situation we are about to turn over to our children and their children. My generation was so self-absorbed, even the goody two-shoes, god-fearing straight ones, that we have sown the seeds of ruin of this once fine country. The fruits are now being harvested and they are bitter, indeed. For my part in this debacle, I am sorry. To my grandchildren and great-grand children, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I have no solutions for these problems – only the observations of a dying phreakazoid. That morbidity may take another 30 years is immaterial. I don't believe that a chance in hell exists to turn this around. The seeds were sown during the World Wars and Great depression. It has gone on too long, deteriorated too far. And for that, I am truly sorry.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Weekend Assignment #78 -- Things To Take

By The Way... AOL, meet the blogosphere. Blogosphere, AOL.

Thus begins the blog of John Scalzi, author of these Weekend Assignments. He's a darn nosey fellow and delights in asking questions. Like a lemming, I jump off the cliff each week, squeaking out my replies.

John would like you to click on the link below, get your own copy of this week's assignment and leave a link to your answer in his comments. Do it. The cramps will subside after you're through. And so it goes...

Rita is plodding implacably toward Texas, and folks there in its path are doing what they can to get out of its way. The evacuation is massive -- more than a million people -- and the logistics of such an undertaking help provide us this week's Weekend Assignment:

Weekend Assignment #78: You are preparing to evacuate your house due to an upcoming threat. You have already packed up all your essential items, people and pets. You have room for three non-essential items. What are they?

Remember, you already have your essentials: food, medicines, water, clothes, and all the people (including the furry ones) who live with you. "Non-essentials" are things you don't need but would like to have, and can include momentos, books, jewelry, objects of sentimental value, and so on and so forth.

Extra Credit: Have you ever been evacuated?

Dear John,

Is it Thursday already? Cthulu forbid! Where in all that's four dimensional has the time gone? I'm getting old, boy, and you can bet I've come by these gray hairs honestly. But, the forgetfulness... Oy, Vader!

No sooner has the last of Ophelia blown away but what her big little sister Rita has to make her erratic way through the Gulf. And like many toddlers, she started heading one way but got diverted by the cat heading off in a different, albeit similar, direction. My inlaws and outlaws and step-thises and thatses in Louisiana have only just begun to get their head's wrapped around the notion that their world will never be the same and now comes this strumpet to strum on their tuffets and blow away any vestige of security they might have had. I suspect Dante's seventh ring is looking mighty tempting to many folks right about now. Evacuating a million and a half people without closing or changing over the inbound lanes of the Interstate highways. Sheer stupidity on the Governor's part.

Back in a former life, it was my job to deal with crisis of both minor and major scale. Emergency response planning is a thankless task, but a strangely appropriate one for the likes of me with an overactive imagination and more nightmares than any three other alcoholics can muster. I was one of the princes of the 'worst case scenario.' But that's what's necessary for a successful, executable plan. And also what is wrong with the crony-ridden Federal system of a castrated FEMA ensconsced within the Department of Homeland Security. Oops! Sorry about that aside...

To answer this week's question, based on my personal and professional experience, I'd take along all irreplaceable photographs, movies, videos and personal CD's and DVD's and family paintings; all irreplaceable or difficult to replace documents not already in a safe deposit box, and the hard drive to the main computer (I consider these one item); and, a special memento, one that reminds me of the home we are leaving – in the present case, my wife's bell buoy wind chime.

I can't put a number to all of the times I have heard a victim of a house or apartment fire lament the loss of the famly photographs, the loss of home movies or videos of family and friends. But I have also consoled folks who have lost literally everything – homes burned flat to the ground, homes where the largest piece of debris left after the tornado has finished with them is no more than a pack of cigarettes in size. And those folks, almost every man, woman and child, miss having a special keepsake of the place, be it a bell, or a piece of stained glass from the window in the front door, or the painting of Great Aunt Nellie that hung over the fireplace. It literally tears your heart out to hear the pain in their voices as they recount in a hoarse whisper what the thing meant to them. And sometimes, it isn't the thing but the place, the view that is gone forever, the feeling or sense of peace and rightness with the world torn away and never to be recovered that weighs most heavily on their minds. It's a wretched thing to watch as a man worries at the edge of what he is missing and can not recover again, be it peace, a sense of self or place, or just an old boot scraper that lived behind the kitchen door for thirty years.

Before you ask again, no, I've never had to evacuate my family and myself to flee before foul weather or ravening hordes. But I have fled forest fires alone, in the mountains, when one mistake would mean my life. It's an uneasy feeling, I assure you.

As you noted in a different entry this morning, it is highly likely that energy costs will once again begin rising rapidly to heretofore unseen levels in this country. That means all expendable goods like food as well as durable trade goods will increase in price as transportation and production costs rise. Salaries are flat or decreasing, no thanks to the present administration and Congress. Cynics like me have been saying for years that this economy, this country's economic base, is so eroded that it is only a shell, a house of cards. It's crumbling around us even as we struggle on and it gives me no pleasure to have been right that an economy founded upon consumer debt will founder and collapse as that debt increases without an increase in the means or reducing the debt. In plain terms, “you can't rob Peter to pay Paul.” And that's what we've been doing since the early sixties. Some would say, since 1936! But giving tax breaks to the wealthiest 1% of this country's population is certainly not the way to solve the problems of an imminent collapse. Food for thought.

Here's hoping this finds you all fit as a fiddle and ready to take on the problems that present themselves. Little did I know my mother was actually cursing me when she toasted my thirteenth birthday with, “may you live in interesting times.”


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Happy Equinox

At least we can see the sun, off and on. Not true for the denizens of the South Pole. They did get some grey in the sky, though... check it out at Iceblog.

Bush Boozing?

Yeah, we all know that being POTUS is a pressure cooker of a job. And many of us remember that Dubya had a problem with booze and cocaine, back in the day. And so it really shouldn't come as a surprise he'd fall off the wagon, what with his presidency falling apart faster than the country. It's just sad it has to be that bastion of journalistic ethics, the National Enquirer, that breaks the story about Bush Boozing.

via Wonkette - Thank You, chickepoo.

Treaty Deals and Duds

Looks like the announcement on Monday of a "breakthrough" in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty talks with the Pac-Rim was a nite premature...

Hiding Under A Bushel Basket?

Orac, that bristly commentator over at Respectful Insolence (a.k.a. "Orac Knows") has brought forth a new challenge to the folks who insist that "Intelligent Design" (hereafter, ID) be taught in our schools right along side Biology, Chemistry and Physics (or instead of those subjects, in the case of the most fervent believers).

Where are all the "intelligent design" advocates who are atheists (or even just agnostics)?

It's a fair question. After all, how can ID advocates hope to be taken seriously if they all have such apparent biases, agendas and axes to grind? If, as its advocates claim, "intelligent design" is strictly about science, evidence, and experimentation and has nothing to do with a belief in God, then it is not unreasonable to expect that there should be some atheists out there who accept ID as science.

It's a valid question and I await the ID camp's attempt at answers.

Question of the Day

Can Texans swim?

AT 5 AM EDT, HURRICANE RITA IS A MAJOR CATEGORY 3 STORM. EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CATEGORY 4 STORM SURGE FREEPORT TO TEXAS/LA STATE LINE POSSIBLE SATURDAY. Recon and Satellite imagery continues to show Hurricane Rita intensifying rapidly -- and could reach Cat 4 within a few hours. [NOAA 5 AM EDT storm track]

UPDATE: 9:30 PM Rita is now a CATEGORY 5 Hurricane with an internal measured pressure of 899 MB. This is the third (3rd) largest storm in recorded history in the Atlantic/Gulf basin off North America. Time to get out and go FAR INLAND, out of the projected storm path. Get to it.


World has slim chance to stop flu pandemic.

New AIM File Manager Test

There's a new tool to manage your “MyFTP” space on AOL or AIM. Check it out!

Full Size Central Vermont RR Engine 3844 - Montpelier Junction - June 2006

New AIM File Manager Test

Got an AIM account (AOL Internet Messenger)? Did you know that 100MB of storage comes with it for free and now there's a way to manage the files stored there. Check it out!

Full Size Central Vermont RR Engine 3844 - Montpelier Junction - June 2006

Monday, September 19, 2005

MEME: Monday Madness

Otto says, “Good Monday morning! Please answer the following questions in your blog and don't forget to come back [ to Monday Madness ] and leave us your link! Thanks for playing...”

1. When you're stressed out, what do you do to relieve your stress?

For three-plus decades, I drank a pot of coffee, smoked a couple packs of cigarettes per day and started and ended my evenings with dancing girls and a quart of bourbon until it ran out. Now I blog and wait for death.

  1. Are you normally a patient person, or is patience NOT one of your virtues?

    Huh? Quick, what's a virtue? Quick, I said!

  2. How many times a week do you blog?

    Now that's an awfully personal question... If I'm in a manic phase, many times a week. If I'm only mildly depressed, maybe twice a week. Severe depression means no blogging at all – I'm too busy staring at the wall.

  3. How many memes a week do you participate in?

    Four on a regular basis.

  4. Describe the perfect day, weather-wise.

    The second or third day under an autumnal high, temps in the mid-60's, cirrus floating around to keep it interesting and not a chance of snow in the forecast for weeks to come.

  5. 6. Would you rather be too hot, or too cold?

    In general, too cold. Except in winter here, when too cold often means the end of life. Then maybe, I'd prefer too warm.

  6. Do you eat out often, and if so, what type of restaurants do you frequent?

    Nope. Can't afford it. When we do eat out it is often either a family restaurant or a steakhouse. We do some Chinese take-out on occasion.

  7. If you could run your own business, what type of business would it be?

    A hobby shop, with an emphasis on model trains. Alas, there's an insufficient population base to support one here and I haven't got 250 grand for inventory. Hell, I haven't got $2 for a cup of coffee.

    Have a good week. Keep your powder dry. And ask yourself this each morning when you get up... “If I hadn't voted for George Bush, how many people would not have needlessly died or been suffering right this minute due to the actions that he and his administration have taken? How bad would the deficit be if I hadn't voted a Republican majority into Congress? Why is it always MY fault?”

    TODAY is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

    Arrrrr! My parrot has fleas and she got them from you, Matey!

    A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel in his pants. The bartender comments to the pirate, "Y'know, you have a steering wheel in your pants..." The pirate says to the bartender, "Yarr, 'tis drivin' me nuts!"

    Bloody Sam Read”

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday Seven -- Episode 3

You will be locked in a tape vault for six months and you can only have seven choices of television programs to watch. Name the seven shows -- present or past -- that you'd want to make sure were accessible by your remote control. Don't worry about listing them in any particular order ... just pick seven you wouldn't want to be without for six months.

Either answer the question in a comment or answer it in your journal and include the link in a comment. (To be considered "first to play," a link must be to the specific entry in which you answered the question.)


  1. Sid Ceaser's “Your Show of Shows”

  2. Outer Limits

  3. Twilight Zone

  4. E.R.

  5. Thirty Something

  6. The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

    Extra Special Credit: How many of these have you heard of? Which ones have you seen? Tell me in the comments, please... wil

Unconscious Mutterings - Week 137 ITLAPD¹ Edition

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Less filling:: pieces of eight

  2. Glue:: that which holds a pirate band together, arrr.

  3. Surprise me:: Argh! Be it my saber or me mighty sabre, Cap'n?

  4. Model:: Boing!!

  5. Fee:: simple, stupid git! Your money, or your life? What'll it be?

  6. Microphone:: What be saving me vocal chords during the prenups, argh!

  7. Choices:: Plank or the yardarm?

  8. To the bone:: Slice him, dice him, fillet him...

  9. Run!:: Never. United we stand, divided we fall. Unless you are asking to run before the wind, matey?

  10. Appeal:: Denied! Now walk the plank, you useless pustule on the backside of humanity!

Play along, landlubber. Git your own list o' words, invent your answers and post a link in the comments over thar at the crazy chica's place, La Luna Niña's.

¹ International Talk Like A Pirate Day -- MONDAY September 19, 2005

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Saturday Six -- Episode 75

Saturday Six Image Hosted by

    Each week Patrick tricks me into answering his questions, the nosy old bat! You'd think I'd learn...

    You, too, can be a victim. Get your own copy of the questions and post a link to your answers at Patrick's Place. You'll be ecstatic and prone to verbal exclamations if you do! Yee Ha!

  1. When is the last time you took a vacation and went basically nowhere? Was it as relaxing as previous vacations where you have actually planned a trip?

    My whole life has been a case of going nowhere quickly, so why would I want a vacation from it? Seriously, when I worked for the government, was alone and had no spare coin, vacations were spent at home, resting up from the trials and tribs of dealing with the public on a seven day a week basis. It was as relaxing, if not more so than planning a trip and traveling there, then fighting the airlines to get back to get to work on time.

    2. Take this quiz: Which historical lunatic are you?

    You are Charles VI of France, also known as Charles the Mad or Charles the Well-Beloved!

A fine, amiable and dreamy young man, skilled in horsemanship and archery, you were also from a long line of dribbling madmen. King at 12 and quickly married to your sweetheart, Bavarian Princess Isabeau, you enjoyed many happy months together before either of you could speak anything of the other's language. However, after illness you became a tad unstable. When a raving lunatic ran up to your entourage spouting an incoherent prophecy of doom, you were unsettled enough to slaughter four of your best men when a page dropped a lance. Your hair and nails fell out. At a royal masquerade, you and your courtiers dressed as wild men, ending in tragedy when four of them accidentally caught fire and burned to death. You were saved by the timely intervention of the Duchess of Berry's underskirts.

This brought on another bout of sickness, which surgeons countered by drilling holes in your skull. The following months saw you suffer an exorcism, beg your friends to kill you, go into hyperactive fits of gaiety, run through your rooms to the point of exhaustion, hide from imaginary assassins, claim your name was Georges, deny that you were King and fail to recognize your family. You smashed furniture and wet yourself at regular intervals. Passing briefly into erratic genius, you believed yourself to be made of glass and demanded iron rods in your attire to prevent you breaking.

In 1405 you stopped bathing, shaving or changing your clothes. This went on until several men were hired to blacken their faces, hide, jump out and shout "boo!", upon which you resumed basic hygiene. Despite this, your wife continued sleeping with you until 1407, when she hired a young beauty, Odette de Champdivers, to take her place. Isabeau then consoled herself, as it were, with your brother. Her lovers followed thick and fast while you became a pawn of your court, until you had her latest beau strangled and drowned.

A severe fever was fended off with oranges and pomegranates in vast quantities, but you succumbed again in 1422 and died. Your disease was most likely hereditary. Unfortunately, you had anywhere up to eleven children, who variously went on to develop capriciousness, great cruelty, insecurity, paranoia, revulsion towards food and, in one case, a phobia of bridges.

I'm Charles the Mad. Sclooop.
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the tiny but fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

    3. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #64 from Jaymi: What is your favorite book from childhood and why?

    I think I mentioned this over at The Daily Snooze last year for another meme. My favorite is/was “Blueberries for Sal.”

    4. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #65 from Hannah: What book character do you most identify with and why?

    If the author is clever and the writing is good, I usually find myself identified, or at least aligned with the principal character or hero. So the true answer is everyone and no one, if you follow my drift.

    But then again, if you are drifting like me you'll soon find yourself stuck on a muddy shoal somewhere, trying to crawl off the way Judd made his grand entrance on “Survivor – Guatemala” last week. Next!

    5. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #66 from Holly: What do you think is an appropriate gift to a party? What do you consider a quality Christmas gift from an acquaintance to a party or get together, a friend, and a GREAT friend?

    It depends who or what the party is. I believe in giving truffles to the delightful women of my acquaintance. I give fine wine for new and new-old houses. I'm big on spankings for birthdays, particularly if the aforementioned delightful women are able to perch on my decidedly minuscule lap. I give donations to Republicans, advice to Democrats, kudos to Libertarians and blow smoke from my cigar in the faces of Greenies. Depending on the employer, anything from hand grenades to his horse's head is appropriate. A gift to an acquaintance should be about that person, of value to them. I often try for handmade items for acquaintances if I can. Friends gifts must also be about them and their likes and passions. It's all about them.

    I once received a 5 pound can of cashews from my secretary for Christmas. Because she knew that I like to use them when cooking certain Chinese dishes. Which she knew from having shared lunch at my desk knocking out paperwork on numerous occasions. Back when I had friends, getting warm woolen mittens and a hat for one friend meant he had something to wear out to social events that was nice and not grungy from toiling the soil as a nurseryman day in, day out. I once got another great friend a new guitar, because there was music bursting from her soul with nothing to articulate it upon.

    6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #67 from Judi: If you had to make a choice for the rest of your life between food and sex, which would you choose, provided the following conditions: If you chose sex, you would never feel hungry, but just wouldn't be able to enjoy a nice meal or the tastes of good food or drink; if you chose food, you would no longer have the physical intimacy and pleasure, but you still wouldn't feel deprived of it. In other words, whichever one you choose to give up will be a series of pleasures you'll never be able to experience firsthand again.

    This is tougher than it seemed at first. Of course, I have loved food longer than sex and would ordinarily enjoy food well past the time I could enjoy sex, all things being equal. But they aren't.

    I think, for today, I'd choose to lose sex. I know I can go for a very long time without physical intimacy, so long as I have intellectual intimacy in my life. While I can do alone for long periods, I do get lonely. But one of the joys in my life is cooking for others, and to be unable to taste what I am preparing ... well, I'm not the culinary equivalent to Beethoven. I have no Ninth Symphony Alfredo in me ...


Have a great weekend and a better week ahead. Saturday is Constitution Day. Sunday is the International Speak-Like-A-Pirate Day. The Full Moon is hidden behind the clouds but it is a very important one to Wiccans. The Solstice is coming mid-week and that spells the end of summer for those in the northern hemisphere and the start of hope for the Ice Man down at the South Pole, but first there's the matter of the usually severe spring blizzards to contend with. Just like the advent of Spring here in Maine, it is many days before the hint of spring is felt. At least he'll be getting some sunlight soon.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Weekend Assignment #77: Studs Terkel Scalzi

For those who aren't aware of the facts of life, John M Scalzi is an author, a journalist, a husband and father, a geek and is the proprietor of several blogs, as well as serving as the "blogfather" for AOL's Journals Community. He hosts a weekly meme, i.e. each week he poses a question. If you'd to play along and aren't an AOL member just grab yourself a free AIM account and that will give you access to leave a link to your efforts in the comments to John's AOL journal,By The Way. Come on, you know you want to! Just click the link below to get started.

Weekend Assignment #77: When I Grow Up

Based on a discussion I was having with my daughter, your short and sweet weekend assignment:

Weekend Assignment #77: What do you want to be when you grow up?

This can be answered one of two ways: You can answer by saying what you wanted to be when you were a kid, or, you can answer by saying what you still want to be, one day, one way or another. It's up to you.

Extra Credit: What did your parents want you to be when you grew up?

Dear John,

I do remember so well the long conversations with Matt and Kate as we drove back and forth from Bangor, Maine to Burlington, Vermont on school vacations, holidays and other events marking the venue change in our children of divorced parents' lives. And one of our favorite topics, good for a hundred miles or so, was the perennial question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

Farther back in history, I can recall the same discussions between my father and I as a teen when he really expected a straight answer and with my mother when i was an adolescent and earlier, when the flights of fancy were allowed free rein. After all, I started answering that question almost as soon as I could talk and THAT was more than a half century ago!

So, while I've had ideas about being a fire fighter, or a mariner, or a race car driver, or a truck driver, or helping people or a ski bum, my mother used to suggest that I was perhaps better cut out to be a lawyer or politician, due to my predilection for arguing. Later, my father would initially reinforce that assessment, but subsequent to Woodstock, came to the conclusion that I had way too much wanderlust (and other forms of lust) to make a partner in a law firm. He tried to direct me into the travel industry at first and then, when I showed some potential for becoming a marine engineer, he actively encouraged that, in the form of recruiting material from the Coast Guard appearing in my mail. That is, until we had a vessel sink and the thought of swimming out of a sinking ship from the bowels of the engine room haunted my sleep as well as my waking dreams, leaving me a worse wreck than the vessel that tore her bottom open. Then he was supportive of me getting out of the industry entirely.

So, if mother had had her druthers, I'd be a miserable lawyer somewhere, while my father would have had me working in a travel agency. Me? I've been a firefighter, a Fire Chief, an EMT, construction worker, a cook in an Austrian restaurant, making weiner schnitzel und hassenfeffer, a dishwasher at a ski area, a radio announcer and news producer, an oiler and marine engineer, driven trucks for others and rallyed for myself, fixed cars and boo-boos for fun and profit, inspected thousands of buildings, reviewed thousands of plans and dealt with thousands of people during one of the most stressful things the average Jane and Joe can do in a lifetime – build a house. I've taught rudimentary computer skills and trained folks in basic dog obedience methodology...

And I STILL don't know what I want to do when I grow up.

Keep Krissy and Athena safe and happy, the animals in kibble and yourself in hock. Complacency doesn't become you, boy. And so it goes...


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Feeling Ophelia Up In Maine

I know, punny. Intended. I'm just a pig – get over it.

T.S. / occasional Hurricane Ophelia has combined her efforts with that big high that used to cover the eastern seaboard and is making herself known up here, a thousand miles away from the eye wall bouncing off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. Here we are, expecting the start of Autumn in only a week and it's muggy enough to wring a cup of water from a t-shirt off your back. Fog. Let me tell you about fog. I sent the dog out at 5:00 this morning to perform her morning business and it was so foggy she couldn't see whether the turd was still hanging from her butt or not (it was). Not that I could see until she started by me into the house...

There are folks downeast in places like Rockland, Castine and Blue Hill that haven't seen their hands for a week – no matter HOW close they hold them to their eyes. Last night there was a collision on the Mount Desert Auto Road between a tour bus on the way up and a pregnant roller skate (Honda Civic street racer) from California on the way down. Seems they both tried to occupy the same center line as they swept around a curve in the fog. Fortunately, no one was killed.

A private plane, piloted by a man unfamiliar with the area and only possessing a VFR (visual flight rules) rating got twisted around when he flew into the fog bank and attempted to land in the fog at the Trenton airport. It's a big little airport just outside Ellsworth on the road to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. While in winter it's a very quiet, lonely place, in summer they average over 60 flights a day, so have all of the goodies – tower controllers, strobe lights, runway and taxiway lighting and the like. It's the kind of place that Aspen is in winter. More private and leased twin engine business jets than you can shake a stick at are present at any given time with weekends just amazing for the sheer number of million dollar planes sitting in the parking areas. Anyway, this fellow attempted his first and damn near last attempt at landing in fog. It was only when he emerged from the fog to find his landing gear scraping the exhaust pipe on a lobster boat did he give up and head inland. At least that was what he told me after landing up here in Bangor.

So, with the residents of South and North Carolina being pounded by this storm, I, too, ask the weather gods to shake a leg and blow this bitch back out to sea. It's too muggy for my tastes by a long shot.

P.S. My picture of the Bald Eagle disconsolately sitting in the top of a tree staring into the shallows in the fog on the Penobscot River south of Bangor didn't turn out – too foggy.

And so it goes...

Stupid People Tricks # 739

Seen while driving in last night to pick up SWMBO from work, a large, black Chevrolet Caprice with this vanity license plate displayed front and rear: ANARCHY. Then this scenario played itself out in my head. Deja vu or wishful thinking? You be the judge.

His right front marker and the tail lights on the left side of the car were out. Local gendarme (LG) sees no humor in the plate when he pulls the car over for the missing tail lights. Draws weapon, instead of simply flipping up the retainer. Asshole Arnie the Anarchist (AA) is a little slow rolling down the window, starts to give lip. LG places a Glock 9mm in AA's ear, and orders him out of car. AA trips on his tongue as he steps out with his right hand holding his black “man purse”. LG shoots first, asks questions later.

Well, that's how it would go down if I somehow had snookered the psychological profilers doing the job interviews at the PD. But, I'm not good police material – I really do not like people that much. And there is no way, even with the greatest sense of humor, to be a beat cop in this day and age without liking people. Because otherwise you'd have to kill them. Every last one of them...

Ok, ok, before the emails and nasty comments commence – it's just humor, folks. If you don't like it -fine. Just understand that not everyone views the world the way you do. Hell, there's even a few whackjobs wandering around in your town who view you as food.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

MEME: Seven Come Eleven

I got tagged by Nettie AKA Jersey Girl this weekend with the dread “Sevens.” The downside of getting tagged this late in the game is there are few of those I read who haven't done this already. So it goes...

7 Things I Plan To Do Before I Die:

  1. Revisit the Grand Canyon – this time on mule back;

  2. Cruise to Alaska;

  3. Finish the doll house for the grands;

  4. Write a novel. Maybe a dozen or so (I can dream, dammit!);

  5. Go to a national NMRA convention;

  6. Build my HO layout close to completion (a dream in my head at the moment); and,

  7. Decide where my wife can sprinkle my ashes.

7 Things I Can Do:

  1. I can train dogs in protection, obedience and tracking;

  2. I can plan – emergency management, short- and long-range community plans, your life, your company's future – everything but my own life and future;

  3. I can inspect a building, read and interpret building, fire and other codes, and find the flaws in plans and drawings;

  4. I can conduct an arson investigation in both structures and wildlands;

  5. I can read and write;

  6. I can drive at very high rates of speed, under most conditions, without crashing too badly;

  7. I can clear a room in less than 30 seconds by merely singing the opening stanzas of “Amazing Grace” (Christians fear retribution when atheists sing hymns).

7 Things I Can't Do:

  1. Suffer fools gladly;

  2. paint or draw (artistically);

  3. play a musical instrument;

  4. tolerate religious fanaticism in any form;

  5. touch my toes;

  6. breath well enough to walk outdoors any distance; and,

  7. take away the pain I have caused others.

    7 Things That Attract Me To The Opposite Sex:

  1. boobs;

  2. sense of humor;

  3. boobs;

  4. smile;

  5. integrity;

  6. brains; and, did I mention ...

  7. boobs (I so wanted to be a breast-fed baby)!

    7 Things I say most often:

  1. I love you, too.

  2. God damn it to Hell!

  3. Fucking A!!

  4. Jesus Christ, do I have to do everything?

  5. Ciao, bella...

  6. Want to go out?

  7. Yes dear.

7 Celebrity Crushes:

  1. Hayley Mills

  2. Goldie Hawn

  3. Katherine Hepburn

  4. Annette Funicello

  5. Stockard Channing

  6. Terry Garr

  7. Kate Hudson (I know, ewww, Aqualung! I just wish she just didn't remind me of her mother so much...)

7 people I would like to see do this next:

  1. Nzforme

  2. An Drea

  3. belfastcowboy75

  4. George W. Bush

  5. Tony Blair
  6. SWMBO, She Who Must Be Obeyed, ie. My wife; and

  7. Anyone who'd really like to blame it on me...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Free Music Or, Perhaps, 'Music You've Paid For But Mayhaps Forgot About'

If you're a DirecTV subscriber and have MusicChoice®, they've got two great (IMNSHO¹) FreeView Concerts: Neil Young and Sarah Brightman. I first saw Neil's concert on Labor Day weekend and it blew me away. This is a master singer-songwriter at his best... and his best is damn fine. I wish I had a tenth of his talent. And I am pretty sure I can say you've never heard these songs before. He has created a tryptch or pastiche - a storyline carried through about 15 songs. Other than a small series of songs about a Roadie that he wrote in the 70's, Neil hasn't done anything like this. Aside from buying the album, "Greendale", the only place you can hear these tunes and see them performed is on DirecTV so hear them while you can. Learn all about the lives of Summer Green, Earth Brown, Jed, Grandpa and Grannie, Edith and Earl in Greendale. Then visit Neil's website -- whole sections are devoted to Greendale. It's a hoot but no hollering - just some special "megaphone" effects. Be The Rain!

"Hey Mr. Clean -- You're Dirty Now, Too" is an amazingly prescient indictment of George W. and his Energy policies.

Sarah Brightman - what can I add to an already overflowing cornacopea of compliments? For those of us who had parents that played Broadway Show Tunes the way I blasted Jethro Tull at my children, well, this is a most pleasant bit of nostalgia. Even finer is the quality of Ms. Brightman's voice. Check it out for yourself.

¹ In My Not So Humble Opinion

Monday, September 12, 2005

MEME: Monday Madness -- Falsehoods 7, Trueisms 0

Otto's missive this week reads: “Good Monday morning... This week I thought we'd answer some true or false. Feel free to elaborate on your answers. Thanks for playing.”

1. I'm at my best in the early morning. False – I've always been a night owl or one who suffers from “Delayed Onset Somnolence”.
2. I start each day with a healthy breakfast. False again. Used to be a pot of black coffee and a half pack of cancer sticks. Now it's a cup of decaf, period.
3. I'm always sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. False. For about 12 years, from birth to puberty, I averaged 7 or 8 hours sleep. Now I average 3.8, but I AM improving. At least I go back to bed now after waking up... I even got a combined total of 10 hours the other day! (of course, I'd been up for 36 straight, but it WAS 10 hours of sleep with only 3 wake-ups.)
4. I enjoy my job. Sure do – what's not to enjoy about unemployment? False -- there's poverty, mind-numbing television, mind-numbing movies, mind-numbing blogathons, poverty, starvation, privation, constipation... what's not to like?
5. I get along with most everyone. In your ear, buttkiss! False
6. I'm looking forward to the new season of tv shows this year. Wrongo – I'm looking forward to the return of a half dozen shows I like and anticipate liking maybe one or two new ones. The rest aren't suitable for lining her-royal-pain-in-the-arse's (HRPITA) cage with.
7. I make sure I take some time for myself every day. False. Time is about all I have left. See #4, above. Have you got a job where I can sit for 8 hours a day at no more than 30 minute stretches, can nap as the evil spirit overtakes me and doesn't involve high stress, kowtowing to the public or pretending to be nice, a team player or acting like I give a flying fig? You don't, eh? Neither does anyone else...

You can obtain your own copy of the questions, get on the email notification list and post a link to your answers in the comments at Otto's place, Monday Madness. Go on. Give it a try. Maybe you'll have better luck than I did and your constipation will stop! {evil grin}

Which Led Zeppelin Song Are You?

Talk about bizarre synchronicity...

You Are

When The Levee Breaks

You are a dominating person. People don't stand in your way. Everybody basically does what you say. And if they don't, they better start, or you just might have one of your henchmen kill them.

Just like "When the Levee Breaks" dominates Led Zeppelin IV, you dominate your world. You don't have time for nonsense (it's surprising you even took this quiz) and you would love to be dictator of the world someday.

You are dark and scary, and you probably don't at all care about this quiz, if you even bothered to read your results.

Take the Which Led Zeppelin Song Are You? Quiz

via Pammy

MEME: Unconcious Mutterings -- Week 136

Patricia, that nutty chica, la luna niña, offers up the following to stroke the synapses into involuntary release.

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Related:: cousins

  2. Soothing:: relief

  3. Flashback:: PTSD

  4. Turmoil:: inner

  5. Immense:: gulf

  6. Guitar:: dreadnaught

  7. Nonsense:: rhymes

  8. Blame:: anyone but me

  9. Childlike:: infantile

  10. Duff:: forest floor

Please remember to post a link to your answers at the home of Unconscious Mutterings. Thanks!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

MEME: Saturday Six -- Episode #74

Each week, Patrick poses questions. Each week, I answer. Does that constitute a trend? You can play, too. Just click the banner above and get your own questions. Don't forget to post a link in Patrick's comments section to your answers, so we can find them.

  • 1. You find out that you have to appear on a daytime talk show. It doesn't matter whose show you choose, but you must appear on one. Which show would you pick and why? Oprah – she's the only one on daytime TV that gives a rat's ass about books.

    2. Have you ever joined an online dating or pen pal site? If so, have you kept in touch with anyone that you met there; if not, have you ever thought about joining up? Yes. No.

    3. Who was the last person you promised you'd keep in touch with following a move or job change? Have you kept in touch? A co-worker, Elizabeth and her husband. Nope – lost touch almost immediately.

    4. Take this quiz: What pizza best describes your personality?

Meatball Pizza

Unusual and uncompromising. You're usually the first to discover a new trend. You appreciate a good meal and good company. You're an interesting blend of traditional and modern.

What's Your Pizza Personality?

5. You're having dinner with friends at a restaurant. Besides the company, what is the most important part of the meal: the appetizer, the drinks, the salad, the entree, or the dessert?
The entree. The heart of the meal. Everything else is just frills and froofoo.
6. Have you ever submitted a Reader's Choice question to the "Saturday Six?" If so, did the answers surprise you? If not, why haven't you? Yes, I have. The answers were more disappointing than surprising.

Have a good weekend.