Thursday, April 30, 2009

100 Days Of No Regrets

With Chrysler now declaring bankruptcy, will anybody in the Congress,the Senate or ObamaNation claim failure after billions of taxpayer dollars were spent to bail them out and prevent this bankruptcy?

Better question yet: will the voters hold anybody accountable?

Even better question: when will we learn that politicians cannot run businesses?

My vote for Ron Paul looks better every day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Retarded Housewives Of Orange County

Huntington Beach, California is one of those upscale, trendy cities that make up much of Orange County.
The kind of place that pioneered the trend of every grade school kid being given their own cell phone to take to school.
A simple drive through 'HB', as it's called, and you find yourself surrounded by housewives driving SUV's and holding up traffic while they yackity-yack on their cell.
It's insane.

That's why I find this story just a little peculiar.

These parents are protesting the placement of a cell tower near a grade school playground.
Supposedly, according to the tin-foil hat crowd, cell towers cause brain cancer, or some other type of head-encased nasty like that.
And they don't want their precious cell-using babies to be endangered.

According to, there are already close to 300 cell towers within a four mile radius of that school. Chances are, most of these parents live so near, if not directly under one themselves, the last thing they need to be worried about is what sits just outside the school yard.
Not to mention what they are exposing their kids to on trips to Starbucks or Whole Foods.

These people really are stupid, if not hypocritical.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Do You Realize...

just how strange must be the mindset of Oklahomans??

"Do You Realize??", by The Flaming Lips was announced as the official state rock song of Oklahoma, after winning an on-line vote among ten finalists as authorized by the Oklahoma state legislature.

Seriously? An official state rock song? Nice to know things in Oklahoma are going so well that the legislators actually have time for this.

Don't get me wrong, as I got no beef against Oklahoma, and in reality, not only did I have a pleasantly non-exciting time in that several hours I spent in a very small sliver of it, but I'd be willing to go back and do all over again whatever it was that pleasantly didn't excite me last time.
(Now, if I can only remember what it was that was so unforgettably non-exciting.)

But still, it's The Flaming Lips. Can't they do better than a just-decent-enough-for-radio song by a band that, though innovative and quirky, is sooo not really 'all that'?

Well, yes they can, but failed.
Here's the list of ten songs they had to choose from.

Personally, I'd have chosen "Oklahoma" by The Call. A much better song by a truly worthy band.
And the lyrics actually fit the topic:
Another hot Oklahoma night
The kind of night where you just sit still
The kind of night where you just dont move
We were shaking in our beds that night
We were shaking in our boots that night
Tornado hit and the roof gave way
Tornado hit and all we could do was pray

It's their problem now.

Friday, April 24, 2009

For The Benefit Of The Privilaged

With California unemployment in the double digits, and the state running a $10 billion budget deficit, state government is the only growth industry that remains.
Everybody else is losing their jobs left and right, but the state is still hiring/creating new members for the state employees union, the most powerful lobby group in Sacramento.

State employees earn 40% more on average than their private sector counterparts, and retire at much younger ages with up to 80% of their salary plus medical insurance for life.

They are the biggest teet suckers in the system after the wetbacks, who live in subsidized housing, feed at the public trough, and generally just make a mess of every neighborhood they inhabit with gangs, trash and crime.

In response to all this drama, Bucca Di Beppo has an answer:

"This Italian restaurant chain is now offering a 20 percent discount to state employees from now until the end of October. Just present your state employee identification and a valid picture ID."

The way things are going, state employees will be the only ones left with any money to eat out as it is.
'Bucca' may think this is a great marketing ploy, but to the rest of us, it's more like a slap in the face.

But why stop there?
Let's follow it up with a free food promotion for illegals. Maybe they can start offering 20% discounts to large families who can't speak English and only pay with food stamps.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Long Affair, A Sweet Goodbye

It was early June, 1993.
An older,retired couple was moving out of state, and offered their used cat to my kids.
No way.
No damn cats in my house. I was adamant.
I had never had a cat in my life, and I wasn't going to have this one either.
Within a week, I had lost the battle to two teary eyed faces (who were coached, and coached well, by their mother).

Scooter came into our home, and was promptly chased by our terrier/chihuahua mix. She was scared near to death, and ended up under my son's bed, where she stayed for about four days, hidden by all the shit he had 'put away' under there.

Though I had yet to lay eyes on this demonic beast,I was serenaded by a steady chorus of hissing, growling and spitting whenever somebody dared approach the secret cave she had buried herself in. Did I say this went on for four days?

I'd had enough, and ordered the wife: Get rid of it. Kill it. I don't care. I want it gone from here, and I don't care how it is done.
I was leaving for work (night shift) and expected it out of the home before I returned.

Not sure what happened that night, but I was assured upon my return that the cat was out of the house... after the dog had chased it through the kitchen and into the garage. My garage. Also known as My office, My smoking area, My cave.

So, somewhere in among those stacks of boxes and miscellaneous storage stuff, lurked a demon. Hissing and growling whenever I ventured through the door. As a heavy smoker, this was often.

After a couple more days of this, the anger sounds stopped. "Great!" I thought. After what had to be six days without food or water, I knew I now had a dead cat hiding somewhere. But couldn't find it. I looked. Tore the place apart looking for a body to dump. After an hour, I gave up.

I sat at my bench, lit up another smoke, and took a break.
Without warning, and I didn't see it sneaking up on me, a cat jumped into my lap, and started kneading and rubbing against me.

What the...????

That is how it began.
And how Scooter became My Cat.
Or I should say, how she made me hers.

She adopted me, and followed my every move. She was waiting on the fence when I came home every morning. Most times jumping down to great me when I got out of the car.
And following me back out to the car the next evening when I left again.
She studied me, knew me rather well, and came to my voice. And only my voice.
It was pretty clear early on who mattered to her.
And the rest didn't matter at all.

She wasn't the type of cat one would normally expect from a 'pet kitty'.
She hated to be held.
Hated to be picked up.
Don't touch her. Don't talk to her.
Don't even look at her.
Pretend she's not here.
Unless it was me doing the holding, picking, touching, talking and petting.

She didn't much like strangers, or visitors, and would hide whenever somebody came to visit, magically reappearing as the guest was walking away from the house hours later.
She avoided all children, including my own, and had no use for dogs. But she'd take the extra effort to 'sort out' the occasional puppy that curiosity brought too close.

Quite the hunter, she must have brought me 4-5 offerings a week for several years. Usually a mouse, sometimes a gopher or bird, deposited near my coffee pot most mornings. Or in the garage, near my ashtray.
She knew how to impress, I'll give her that.
I'll always remember the time a couple of migrating ducks spent a couple of days in our backyard, hanging out by the pool. She wanted one. Just as she was ready to pounce, they'd jump in the water and swim to the other side, ruining a good 30 minute stalk. And she'd start all over again.
I thought she'd explode from the frustration.

After my divorce, it was just me and Scooter, with her laying an even bigger claim to my life.
I no longer needed an alarm clock. She knew that when the coffee pot started up in the kitchen, it was time for me to get up as well. And she was pretty damned insistent. I could out sleep a clock, but I couldn't ignore her.

One advantage my current wife had was Scooter's immediate acceptance. Normally, she'd pee on a stranger's shoe. Or poop, if she was particularly expressive that day. Especially a female one that was moving in on her territory.
(Not this time. It must have been a sign.)
So, the future 'Mrs.' passed the Scooter test, and now I can't seem to get rid of her,either.
There's a pattern here,right?

Vet visits were always an adventure. Scooter hated doctors more than strangers or children. My vet normally took a critter off to a separate room to draw blood samples. He tried this with Scooter to no avail. I could hear the commotion all the way in the lobby. Finally, I was called to go in with them. If I didn't, somebody else would be giving blood, as well.
Her file had the word "MUZZLE" written across it in red, just so they knew what they were in for on sucessive visits.
I thought it was a bad rap. My baby wasn't mean. She was untrusting, is all. A one-man cat. Nothing wrong with that.

It was through my relationship with Scooter that I learned just how cool a cat could be. That there was much more 'there' there than met the eye.
But Scooter was not only a character, she also had good character. A sense of loyalty, companionship and commitment people normally assign to a trusted dog, not a cat.
I became a regular donor to cat rescue groups. I think I can say that Scooter gave more to the welfare of her species through her relationship with me than few other cats can claim.

A few years ago, Scooter came down with a health issue common to older cats: an inflamed thyroid. Surgery removed it, with the second thyroid following a year later.
I was sure her clock was ticking, being already 17 years old, and having spent much of her life as an indoor/outdoor cat.
It was then that I decided to keep her indoors. It didn't really much matter to her by then. Her active years were over, and she was quite content to live surrounded by carpeting and plush furniture.
But still waiting for her buddy, every day, when his car pulled into the garage.
And still waiting for the coffee maker to start up every morning as her call to duty.

Despite medication, her thyroid problems continued to flare up. She was losing weight, and it was to the point where the medication wasn't doing much for her anymore.
After all, twenty years is a long time for a cat, and though I sensed this was our last year together, I was still holding out hope for one or two more.

Last Monday, she refused to eat, and I knew our time was coming to a close.
Tuesday morning I began the grim task of preparing her final resting place, near a lemon tree I recently planted in the side yard. The kind of place she used to enjoy while laying in the shade in our old yard.

I wrapped the inside of a small box with her favorite crinkly brown paper. The same paper that was her preferred sleeping surface. She was picky, and not all paper was created equal. She also liked Christmas wrap, color side down. I always kept a roll handy.

Last night, as I stroked her head and spoke to her, she took her last breath, and quietly slipped away.

Farewell, my Scooter.
You were a great companion, an honest friend, and always there when it seemed that nobody else was.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today, the Doctor told me to "take it easy and relax for the next few days."
I've been off work since Labor Day. How much more easier and relaxing can it get?

Monday, April 20, 2009

An Update


Near two and a half months ago I wrote about my voice disappearing from me.
I had a new procedure scheduled for the middle of last March, but had to cancel at the last minute due to a case of pneumonia.
(Pneumonia is one complication of not being able to swallow, as fluid falls into the lungs, generally while sleeping.)

As you all know, dealing with the insurance tends to complicate the simple, and it has taken this long to get another approval and reschedule a date for the procedure.

So, tomorrow morning I will go back on the table for another tweak of my vocal cords.
I guess the operation itself will only take thirty minutes or so, but I'm not sure. I'll be out for it anyway.

According to the doctor, the new procedure will be utilizing a different substance, and should last for several years.
I'm starting to have the lurking suspicion that this paralysis of the right cord will be permanent, but, as usual, he just doesn't seem to give out too much information.

Maybe, come this time tomorrow, I'll have my weak and raspy voice back, instead of my weaker and raspier whisper.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Die Is Cast

I engaged in further consultation with the second highest authority in the house.
We weighed the pros and cons.
After taking a walk around the neighborhood, and closely eyeballing everybody else's lawns, we noticed a few things.

Top of the few: at least a full half of the lawns had either bare spots, burn spots, or dead spots that were not readily visible from a cursory glance.
And most had a combination of all three.

Seems that sod idea of the builder wasn't a very good one for the long term.
And the weeds were not always kept at bay,either.

Bermuda grass will choke out the weeds pretty effectively, it will never die, and our winters are not as severe as they might be in Texas or other parts. Therefore, the dormancy period of brownness would be a shorter one.
Bermuda is not prone to bald spots, and requires less watering.

Another plus: Bermuda grass is native not to Bermuda, but to the dry Mediterranean region. And 'Mediterranean' is the archictectural style of this tract.
So, if anybody wants to pitch a bitch about my grass not conforming, I can just claim that I'm keeping it real.

The Bermuda stays.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


My house sat vacant for about eight months before I purchased it.
As a result, with nobody to water or care for the lawn all summer long (and it gets scorchingly dry in these parts), I was dealing mostly with whatever grass clumps survived in what was once a beautifully sodded patch of green.

I didn't do much to it all winter, having been recuperating from surgery most of the time.
Finally, about four weeks ago, I got out there and dug up all the old sod, fertilzed, roto-tilled the soil, and planted a fresh ground cover.

I should have just bought fresh sod. Instead, to save a couple hundred bucks, I bought seed and did it the old school way.

Let me explain something: I've never done this before.
Seed is seed,right?
It all grows green, don't it?

I grabbed the bag, actually two bags, of seed that claimed the most drought resistance(water is scarce out here). And high heat tolerance (summers are in the triple digits, and very dry).

After a couple weeks of watering and tending, the grass is now here. Bermuda grass. The worst possible thing I could have planted, because not all grass is created equal.
And Bermuda grass just doesn't look nice in a neighborhood like this.

So I learned something in all this. If I want the nice lush,green lawn everybody else in my development has, it can't be this grass.
I'll be stuck with the worst lawn in the neighborhood forever.

Bermuda is damn near impossible to kill off. I have to get the super strength grass poison, made especially to kill Bermuda grass.
And do it quick before the roots get too established..

And then I'll need to start all over again.
Damn it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's A Start

Cuba’s Fidel Castro has wasted no time taking Barack Obama, US president, to task over his removal this week of limits on travel by Cuban Americans to their homeland and how much money they can send to relatives.

If I have any criticism of President Obama on this issue it will be that he hasn't gone far enough, but at least he's facing in the right direction.

The embargo against Cuba was a not-very-good idea whose failures to achieve it's objectives have been made evident for decades.
But even if these objectives were met, does it really make sense for a nation such as ours, a nation that brags about it's freedoms, to restrict the movement of it's own people and goods?

Of course not. All it shows is that we can be hypocrites ourselves when passions overtake our collective logic.

I know, I know...
Most of the reason for this embargo being kept in place long after it's expiration date was the power of Cuban exiles in Florida, and the need to maintain, or at least not lose, Florida's electoral votes every four years.
Because nothing animates a Cuban exile like the concept of 'punishing' Fidel, even if Fidel doesn't feel any pain from it.
It's the thought that counts, I guess.

I suggest, if we really want to bring freedom to the Cuban people, we should act like the free people we claim to be: go to Cuba whenever we want to.
One thing that would threaten the vise-like hold on power exercised by the world's largest plantation master is an influx of visitors from a nearby land telling tales of the better American lifestyle that can be had if only the host's system was a little less dictatorial.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009


The first war our nation engaged in was against the Barbary pirates, along the northern coast of Africa. Early 1800's this was. To be followed up with another Barbary war about ten years later.

Many things have changed, but much is still quite similar. Back in the early day, nations would make yearly tribute payments in order to keep the pirates from attacking their merchant fleets.
When the United States became independent, it's merchants no longer sailed under the protection of Britain's tribute payments. Tributes were paid by the young nation, but not without much controversy.
When Jefferson became President, he refused to pay tributes on behalf of his nation, claiming the right to navigate the seas and engage in trade is a basic right of a sovereign state.

Eventually, continued attacks upon American merchant vessels led us to the First Barbary War. Warships were sent, and the U.S. Marine Corps exploits were enshrined in the opening lines of Marine Corps Hymn (" the shores of Tripoli").
Short story shorter: the Corps kicked ass.

I find it rather amusing that today, in another run-in with North African pirates demanding ransoms, the warship first on location is the USS Bainbridge, named in honor of Cmdr Bainbridge, who was captured and held for ransom, triggering the First Barbary War. (He later had his chestnuts pulled from the fire by Cmdr Decatur, who delivered the whoop-ass.)

I agree that our right as a sovereign nation to navigate the seas is non-negotiable. And likewise, our right to conduct trade with whomever,where ever.

I suggest we send in the navy and the marines to deliver a little more whoop-ass to those coastal settlements the Somali pirates operate from. After a village or two goes up in a ball of fire, I'm sure they'll leave our ships alone.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

An Orgy Of Mastication

Things are starting to look better.
Today's therapist appointment went pretty well. She wanted me to try to swallow food again, and thought just maybe I might be able to handle something classified as "solid".

Her explanation: pureed foods, such as applesauce, have a tendency to get stuck in the folds of the esophagus for some patients. Normally, puree would be the starting point, but I just might be one of those exceptions.

Following her instruction, I took a few nibbles of a saltine cracker and, Praise the Lord, it went down.
Gradually, I was able to work up to about 1/4 of a cracker at a time.
And a corn chip. A full teaspoon of water. Diced peaches (one piece at a time).

To get them down is a five-step exercise of it's own:
Step One: Turn head sharply to the right.
Step Two: Tilt head sharply downward. (Basically, my chin should be almost on my shoulder. The right side is the paralyzed side. This pinches off that side, forcing everything toward the muscles on the left side.)
Step Three: Breath in. (This fills the lungs, to keep 'stuff' from going into them.)
Step Four: Bear down, as if taking a hard dump. (This clenches the vocal cords, and helps to keep 'stuff' on the right path.)
Step Five: Swallow hard.

I'm still a long time away from enjoying a dinner plate, but I'm grateful for any blessing that comes my way.(Like realizing just how tasty a saltine cracker can be.)

That, and there is some hope that I may be 'fit' enough to attend a certain wedding in May.
For now, I'm keeping the fingers crossed.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

More Outrage

Chris Brown will plead not guilty in the savage beat down of Rihanna.

I guess those bite marks on her shoulders were self-inflicted?

Seriously, somebody needs to escort this son of a bitch to the top of a tall flight of stairs.

Another Event In The Outrage Olympics

Two New York City fried chicken restaurants in predominantly black neighborhoods are under fire for putting President Barack Obama's name on their signs.

"People from the community were calling me and saying they were outraged by this racist connection to Barack Obama and fried chicken," Barron said. "If you think that free speech gives you the right to insult and degrade us and stereotype us, then you've got a battle on your hands."
I understand how they feel.
All the fried chicken places in my nieghborhood are represented by an old white guy with a grey beard.

But I still don't see what is racist about it.
I mean, just who is buying all this fried chicken in the black nieghborhood. Are older white guys driving across town? Leaving the peace and safety of their own neighborhood, risking car jacking and riots, just to get a bucket and biscuits?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jet Blues

Hey, remember when the airlines use to brag about their comfort and amenities and friendliness?
"Fly the friendly skies"
"The proud bird"
"The only way to fly"
Yup. Them days are over.
Now it's: Get in, sit down and shut the hell up.

The last few times I took air travel I was pissed off at the conditions the airlines try to force their passengers to endure.
For example: my last trip in October, I was assigned a middle seat in a row of three. The seat was just big enough to fit my mid-sized frame.
My ass was only a 38" waist (now, it's a 34", post-surgery).I'm not a large dude, but I'm not a little dude either.

I filled up that seat, from arm rest to arm rest.
The seat was upholstered in some plastic vinyl material, and within five minutes I was all fidgety from butt sweat.

As the plane filled up, two large dudes came along and took the two seats on either side of me. These dudes were thick. Literally, they filled up their own rented space and were encroaching on mine.
From both sides.
The flight was booked solid, so there was no place else to go.
I was stuck.
(To their credit, my two neighbors seriously tried keep within their own assigned confines, but the impossible is still the impossible.)

Adding insult to indignity, they had the nerve to ask for Breast Cancer Research donations. And if you contributed enough, you got a Pink Ribbon pin! ("Well, if I was able to fit my hand into my pocket, I might toss you some cash. But right now, I'm just too angry to try. Besides, my space has no room left to fit a pin. Now, get away from me.)

So, we endured,like sardines, for five hours.
It was miserable, and I swore that would never fly again if given an option.
Not worth the disrespect.

Next time, if at all possible, I'll drive.
Sure, adds a few days to the vacation, but how could a longer vacation be a bad thing for somebody who enjoys road trippin' in the first place?
A bonus: I could pack whatever luggage and stuff that I want to without space/size/weight limitations.

The last few years, and especially more so just in the past two years, airline service has gotten worse than at any time in my memory. Though it hasn't been my experience, many flights are delayed on the tarmac for hours at a time.
These affected passengers are required, either by law or something similarly stupid, to stay in their seats and tough it out.

Here is an account of a recent episode.
New York City prosecutors have filed criminal charges against an air traveler who got fed up waiting on the tarmac at Kennedy Airport, and tried to open a jet door and get out. Authorities said 60-year-old Robert McDonald, of England, faces reckless endangerment charges for opening an emergency exit hatch as the plane waited out an hours-long delay at JFK.
(emphasis mine)

This makes no sense whatsoever.
Why can't the passengers be allowed to leave the plane, maybe escort them to a large secure holding area or something, for these hours.
Better still, why board the plane at all. The airline should know thirty minutes before take-off that they won't be taking off anytime soon.

This is not an isolated event. There have been similar reports of passengers attempting to flee captivity during hours long delays on the tarmac, and after what I've been through, I can say that I don't blame them.

Truer Words...

"I consider myself an atheist, but am pretty uninterested in convincing anyone to see things my way, mostly because I don't think that belief is a matter of choice. I can no more choose to believe in any sort of god at this point in my life than I can choose to believe in the tooth fairy or the moon landing. I assume the same is more or less true for theists."

As spoken, and well put, by Brian in the comment section of the previous post.

I've run the spiritual gamut from atheism toward eventual Catholicism. That is just how my life went, and to get into particulars right now would not make the point I'm trying to make here.

The point is: Brian is right.
I could not choose to believe in anything until I was capable of 'seeing' it.
At that point, choice was not an option.
As it was never an option at any time previous, whether I was an atheist, agnostic, exploring deist, Christian fundamentalist or eventually, a Catholic.

And I beleive this is true across the board, because it's not just Christians, but members of almost every other faith I've ever discussed or debated with (and both are forms of exploration and searching for the honest at heart) all claim, in some form or another, that their faith is a gift from God, or whatever other higher power they pay homage to.

What we do choose is what to do about it.