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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Closer to #2

Sometimes, in a moment of meditation, you see your life, or some facet of it, or some truth about it, in a way or at an angle that you hadn’t- or hadn’t accepted- before.

There’s a part of me that I don’t really like.  It isn’t a part that can rule me- not since I accepted Christ- but it has trained me to play along all too often.  It drains my energy- weakens my ministry-fills me with garbage I don’t need and don’t have room for.

Like Paul and his thorn of the flesh, I’ve stood at many Waterloos with it.  I’ve fought, and lost.  I’ve given it up to Christ- except for the yo-yo string with which I always yank it back.  And in the sermons I heard yesterday, a suggestion was made- that everyone has a part of themselves that they keep from God, a chunk where we hide the things we hope He will agree not to see.  And when Jesus asks us for sacrifice, that is the sacrifice He wants.

Today, the Lord, Scrappy, and I took a walk.  And as usual, He guides me into thinking, in my despair and pleading, the thing He’s been saying all along.

Today, that was the thought that there are two facets of my life, and I cannot change either one.  My pain, my despair, comes from the dynamics between these two inescapable truths of my life.

#1- There is a battle between “it” and me, and I have and will always, always lose that battle.
#2-There is a battle between “it” and Christ- and that battle He has already won.

Those are two very powerful extremes, and every human being has them already locked up inside them, or the potential to it.  And the bad consequences of that dynamic is because I continue to live my life focusing on the first instead of the second.  If I live closer to #1, I have the consequences of a) the frustration of falling time after time, b) the inability to see or show the benefits of being at the other end, and c) the harm it does to my ability to help others with this concept.  As I move toward number two, I find a)the frustration fades because I have my mind clear of the things that lead to my fall, b) the ability to see that when I do stumble, I have Someone who is faithful to pick me back up, and c) the joy that comes with being a positive to others.

Everytime it comes up, I pray for strength to win the battle I can’t win. And waste my time.  What I need, from now on, is to get up and pray to be led closer to #2.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The flying man

Before I get on to today’s story, a couple of quick sports shorts.  We watched the NHL All Star game and the NFL Pro Bowl yesterday.  My only speculation on the NHL game was would they outscore the Russian all star game, which was a 15-11 affair (they did not; it ended 12-9).  As the game wore on, two themes emerged.  Theme #1:  NY Ranger Martin Gaborik, playing on the Charra team scored twice against Ranger teammate Henrik Lundquist on the Alfredsson team, and got another later on against the next goalie.  After the first goal, he used his stick as a rifle to “shoot” Henrik, a move he often does against other teams I guess.  Also on the Alfredsson team was Ranger head coach John Totorella, who told the TV audience at first break that Gaborik was getting fined $1,000 for doing it, nod nod wink wink.  The second was the announcers constant speculation about a goaltender winning the MVP of the game.  Not that there was any danger of that, when Gaborik had 3 goals and five of six goalies in the game gave up 3 goals (the sixth gave up 6).  If  that’s all you can talk about in a game where 21 goals were scored, perhaps its time the league invested in an “Announcer training program”.  On the NFL game, the offensive and defensive lines of both squads came out prepared to play patty-cake, and were roundly booed for doing so.  If you don’t wanna play, go home.  You can do a Hawaii vacation on your own dime.  Brandon Marshall of the Dolphins caught four tds, after just 6 all season.  What was the difference, he was asked.  First he danced around the notion that he’d had 4 QBs in 2 years with the Dolphins (and you had 3 in this game!  If you want to say that your QBs in Miami suck, just do so).  Then he said that “this game is my playoffs” and he was going for MVP.  Translate that to, “I only work in front of large audiences.  Regular season is for the regular guys.”  Geez, my QBs suck and I’m stuck on myself- I could have answered THAT question 3 years ago when he was still in Denver (which is why I didn’t want him in the first place.  We already HAD Ted Ginn.)

Okay, enough sports, let’s go back to the story.  So we’ve left the corner and we’re now along the north end of the back yard, home to the row of Raspberries and the wired posts that vainly attempted to keep them out of the field.  In between the big burr oak and another pin oak down the way (which we’ll get to later) was a hickory tree. Skinny compared to the oaks, and very fruitful, this tree had one problem, which was that tentworms would build a web once every three years or so.  Rather than let them devour the tree, and everything else around, Dad would always come to visit their tent with a gas can and his lighter.  You can guess the rest.  This was always one of the highlights to the summer for me- not so much for Dad (or the tent worms).

The reason I bring the hickory tree up is to kinda show how our back yard was like this big bowl; with pin oak- hickory-burr oak making the bottom edge, burr oak-pin oak the east side, house-garage-maple tree the south end, and sheds-pin oak (and for a while, tether ball pole) on the west.  Perfect for the huge game of dodgeball we played one night.

It was Dad’s second annual weenie roast, and Dad had put floodlights up in the burr oak and the maple to light the “bowl”.  And once it got dark everybody (and I do mean everybody) got into this huge game of dodgeball.  It was me, Mom, and Dad; my brother Tom, his wife and 2 girls; my brother John, his wife and 2 kids; my sister Sue, her hubby and at least my nephew Troy and possibly little sister Linette; and my sister Pete and her husband (and soon to be star of the show) Joe, along with his mother and brother.

Now I need to explain that Joe and Dad were a real close analogue to an apolitical Archie Bunker and Meathead in their relationship.  Mostly Dad and his “not good enough for my little girl” attitude, though Joe had a way to blunder into Dad’s sights.  And I didn’t help matters much; here at last was a person that I could use all the smart-assery that Pete had taught me for the ten years of my existence without having to worry about being chewed out by Dad, or, really, by Mom).  So Joe was in a constant battle to maintain his dignity, and with his mom and bro there, it was extra important.

Now, Joe was no small man; picture a slightly less long-haired David Crosby.  And flight was certainly not an attribute you’d normally associate with him -although we do have a picture of him halfway up the pin oak by the house, rescuing my first cat, Jingles P. Jones, from a tree I’m sure he could’ve gotten out of had he been so inclined(I certainly wouldn’t have made the climb- pin oaks are a mass of semi-sharp, interconnected twigs and are zero fun to climb, run into, or clean up after).  Still, in the dark of the night, the ball sailed out into the field and disappeared, and Joe, trying to look good in front of Ma and Bro, charged out after it.  And yes, he totally forgot about the wire about knee high running through the raspberries.  The last we saw him, his head was about three feet off the ground, his feet straight up at the sky; then the darkness absorbed him, and seconds later came a loud crash in the soybean-planted field.  I honestly can’t say what happened next; I was among the approximately half of the crowd struggling to breathe while laughing that hard.  From the looks of things the next day, I guesstimated that he did a complete flip, landed first on his heels and then on his back.

And that wasn’t the only time I saw Joe airborne, and this is where the tether ball set comes in.  The pole was about midway between the pin oak on the north line and the maple behind the garage.  In other words, on the west end of the “bowl”.  And one sunny Sunday afternoon, he and brother John were playing.  Just in case anyone doesn’t know what I’m talking about, t-ball is a ball about the size of a volleyball attached to a rope attached to the top of a 10-foot (or so) pole.  Object being to hit the ball with your fist in order to wind it all the way around the pole before your opponent does.  So John finally gets a good hit on the ball.  Joe, surprised, returned it with his face.  You’ve seen the cartoons where the feet go straight out, and the character lands flat on his back?  That, in real life.  To put it simply, Joe was just not at his best in the back yard.

Next time, we’ll begin moving into the northwest corner, where one man’s trash was another one’s treasure.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Win some, lose some

I just got done watching the “play by play “ on Lokomotiv’s Sunday game, but let me start with the Friday game.  This was the one against struggling Krystal Saratov.  In front of 8900 home fans, this one was all Lokomotiv.  Dmitri Maltsev gave us the 1-0 lead, coming around from behind the net, at 9:50 of period 1.  Then came a pair of blueline shots redirected into the goal, both by Daniil Romantsev (his 2nd and 3rd of the year) at 5:35 and 12:14 of the 2nd.  In the third, Daniil Yerdakov got his 14th (3 with Loko) at 17:22 to finish off a 4-0 win.  Nikita Lozhkin picks up his 2nd goose egg of the year, stopping all 27 shots and dropping his goals-against average to 2.90.

Today’s game was also a homer against Dizel (Diesel) Penza who were 21-13-7 coming in).  And things didn’t go so well at first.  Dizel dominated most of the first period, and beat Pavel Shegala on a shot by Nikolai Lukyanchikov at 5 seconds left in the 1st.  It would be Lukyuanchikov again at 2:11 of the second, and Konstantin Maladin at 7:28 to put the visitors up 3-0.  But it was a stronger period for the good guys, With Vladislav Kartayev just fanning on a shot from Alexi Kruchinin and Emil Galimov having one ricochet over the net and into the stands.

However, Dizel goalie Alexandr  Polukeev was not so fortunate in the third. Kartayev  took one out from under his glove and stuffed it in at 2:39, and then tipped a long pass behind him at 8:39, his third and fourth of the season.  At 10:53, a pass bounced off Galimov and Maxim Zyuzyakin rammed it home for his 4th and a 3-3 tie. 

They went through to OT, and other than a double minor- Pavel Lukin for us and Alexi Potemin for them ( I believe for holding and roughing, but translate turns it into “delay arms” and “rudeness”)- the OT was uneventful and we went to the shootout.

Both of the first shooters- their Vladimir Ivantsev and our Daniil Yerdakov- scored, but the next two each failed and the first pair came up again.  This time, Palukeev stoned Yerdakov, but Ivantsev scored and Dizel won 4-3.

Next up is a Wednesday home game against HC Ryazan, another struggling team like Krystal at 12-22-8.  Also, a big announcement for February 17th:

The “Russian Classic” outdoor game at Krasnoyarsk in Siberia between us and the homestanding Sokol (Falcons).  Now last year on February 17th in Krasnoyarsk it was 21 F;  I checked that yesterday because when I looked to see how cold it was yesterday, it was –35 with a high forecasted today of –26 F.  Currently, which would be closing in on midnight there, it is –33; but fear not, because they’ll actually have an above zero high (1 above) by next Saturday.  Frankly, if I were having an outdoor game, I think I’d have it somewhere warmer than the midst of Siberia, but  then again I wouldn’t sit outside for the Super Bowl, much less hockey.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Great Seventies Countdown week 9

"Good evening, " the Host says as the crowd settles, "Welcome back to where music and memory intertwine, where you're forever young and the feeling never fades.  Sometimes that feeling is love and happiness and springtime.  And sometimes it is pain and angst... and Rumours..."

170- Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac, 1977, #10.  As 1976 turned to '77, much of the fun of music was already draining out of me.  Rumours and Hotel California stood out against the creeping mediocrity of the day.  Would have been a #1 on my own top ten except a) I had this thing about needing to see something on the chart, b) I was getting the chart from the News-Sentinel, which was only publishing the top 8 (if I was lucky), so c) it became "not worthy".  What a stooge I was.

169- Locomotive Breath, Jethro Tull, 1971 (on album) and 1976 (as single),# 62.  The bluesy piano lead into that powerful guitar beginning always gets the blood up.  The best song on the great lp Aqualung.

168- Heart Of The Night, Poco, 1979, #20.  "Ohh whoa down in New Orleans/ I'm so glad to be back in New Orleans/ Please don't wake me, don't shake me/if it's only/ if it's only just a dream..."

167- Turn To Stone, Electric Light Orchestra, 1978, #13.  I played Out Of The Blue incessantly.  An album I got on the cheap because my nephew was trying to dig himself out of one of those Columbia record club fiascos.
166- My Old School, Steely Dan, 1973, #63.  We sure like the sixties today, eh?  Always my best SD song, especially after becoming a William and Mary fan.

165- Rock On, David Essex, 1974, #5.  One of those slightly bizarre songs that everyone liked.  The James Dean tie in and "where do we go from here..."

164- Who'll Stop The Rain, Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1970, #2.  Love the legendary trip through history.  "Five year plans and New Deals/Wrapped in golden chains..."

163- Sweet Talkin' Woman, Electric Light Orchestra, 1978, #17.  Ironic because I just caught that I missed Turn To Stone, went up to fix that, and this was next.  When this came out I was listening a lot to CLKW, and they had an ad for some rock celebrity marathon that went:  "We all know Jeff Lynne can play a guitar (licks from Sweet Talkin' Woman in the background)... But can he run a marathon? (gutiar replaced by heavy breathing and "HUH?")

162- Fanny (Be Tender With My Love), Bee Gees, 1976, #12.  To this day, I don't understand what he sings in the second verse.  Didn't matter then, doesn't matter now.

161- Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me), Doobie Brothers,  1975, #11.  The last real Doobies song until they reformed and did The Doctor in 1989.  The Michael McDonald stuff was good, but that was another band to me.

160- Double Vision, Foreigner, 1978, #2.  I just wish Lou Gramm hadn't sung over the top of all the "oooooh double vision"s at the end.

159- Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling, The Fortunes, 1971, #15.  I said on the sixties countdown, this was a song I always thought was older.  The middle break gives me shivvers.

158- I Want You Back, Jackson Five, 1970, #1.  The beginning of stardom for Michael, and though teeny-bop and bubble gum, a powerful song.

157- Kodachrome, Paul Simon, 1973, #2. Raise your hands if you empathize with either "When I think back on all the crap I learned in High School" or "and everything looks worse in black and white."  Both hands up?  Me too.

156- Showdown, Electric Light Orchestra, 1973 (#53) and 1976 (#59).  Released once off On The Third Day and once off Ole' ELO.  Gets more play now than it did then.

155- Lying Eyes, The Eagles, 1975, #2.  What would have been their third straight #1, kept out by Island Girl.  My favorite part is how the "and your smile" in the chorus is sung different in each of the three choruses.

154- Smile A Little Smile, The Flying Machine, 1970, #5.  This song was one of those that had the "little kid mix up" legend for me.  I THOUGHT I heard my sister tell Mom that it was written by a soldier who was dying in Vietnam, and I THOUGHT it was refering to Rose Marie from the Dick van Dyke show.  Whenever I still hear it, a little of the "dying soldier" feel still creeps in for me, even though I ain't that stupid anymore.

153- Long Train Running, Doobie Brothers, 1973, #8.  "Without love, where would you be now..."

152- The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Joan Baez, 1973, #3.  I love history songs- even if the history's a bit off.  And the choir in the chorus.

151- The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Robert John, 1971, #3. Call me crazy, but I still prefer his version to the Tokens' original.

"And just like that, our time together is done for another week," the Host says.  " Here is one more to send you home on- if you don't mind really dumb videos to go with it."

The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Robert John by vthik

Friday, January 27, 2012

Right to work- and why I’ve been silent

I just (finally) got around to researching this line in the sand known as right to work, and I found this fascinating study.  Basically, I kept silent because I wondered at the reasons RTW would help economically.  The info in this study, and the case studies therein on Oklahoma and Idaho, helped not only make it make sense, but gave empirical examples of its success.  I didn’t want to say anything until I knew the facts, and frankly I was too turned off by the democrats baby-crying on it to look before now.  But since GiaQuinta, Moses, et al finally did the state the great honor of actually showing up and doing their jobs, I figured I’d do mine.

John W. Cooper’s study not only showed facts as well as they could be deciphered, but demonstrated how both sides could manipulate the data to their own advantage.  He spotlighted other statistical surveys, noted their methodology, and drew his conclusions.

There is a net benefit in both hiring and new job creation for RTW states.  There is also evidence that in at least one RTW state (Oklahoma) that union membership ROSE after RTW.  This right here both gives the 2 main reasons FOR right to work and partially negates one of the reasons AGAINST it.  The other main reason against it, the so-called free ride, is an unassailable fact.  Under RTW, unions carry the bargaining load of those who opt-out.  However, let me now be controversial in why I don’t give a crap about that.

#1- Wasn’t the original idea of labor bargaining about improving conditions for ALL workers?  Somewhere along the line of legitimacy, unions developed the “I don’t care about the other guy” attitude that has resulted in “scabs” being injured, harassed, etc, for the crime of not being union.  When you treat fellow workers, who are also just trying to earn a living, like that, you lose my sympathy.

#2- If the labor movement hadn’t become an arm of the Democratic party, no one would even care about RTW.  Studies show that the percent of union dues going to political causes are 30% AND RISING.  Given average dues of $120 a year, that means I’d have to donate $40 dollars a year to a cause unrelated to my job and against my principles. 
#3- There was a 1988 court decision called the Beck decision that said that a union member cannot be forced to pay the portion of his dues that are earmarked for political contributions.  This, if complied with by the unions, would be enough to silence MY objections.  A study cited in Cooper said 32% of union employees disagree with the positions the unions support, so I think it is more than fair.  But do the unions?  From Cooper:

More recently, in 2001 the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections heard a case on Mark Simpson’s experience with attempting to exercise his Beck rights. Mr. Simpson tells a very compelling tale. He starts out by saying he “used to be a union loyalist” and “was even a union shop steward” (Simpson). He then found out that some of his union dues were being used to support causes he did not believe in, so he tried to exercise his Beck rights. He gave notice to his union in June 2000 that he wanted to exercise his rights, and it took his union six months to respond to his request. Mr. Simpson testified that “Their response said that only 1.3% of their spending was eligible to be rebated. The other 98.7% were bargaining expenses, chargeable to me as agency shop fees even after my exercising my Beck rights. And if I didn't pay them, I was fired” (Simpson).

Big surprise- unions aren’t in the business of playing fair.

#4- The politicians in the union pockets.  One woman legislator said after the vote (and I sure wish I’d have been paying attention so I could’ve got her name) to the effect of, I see know who will work with you and who won’t.  I’ll remember this.  Gee, lady, 8 republicans worked with you, how many Democrats crossed the fence?  At the beginning of this I gave a sideways compliment to those who decided not to boycott the vote.  But the fact of the matter is that the legislators who stayed the whole time, opened the floor to debate, and passed a good law, were certainly more mature and more professional that the ones that stood outside the chamber and whined, blindfolded their followers into believing that the whole thing was about strip-mining the unions, and tried to win their argument by throwing out the fire marshall’s safety ruling and packing the outside of the chamber with protesters and ringers to try to disrupt the legal rule of law.

I’m sorry that I didn’t speak up sooner, that I didn’t research sooner.  But I didn’t want to color the decision I made by filtering it through the hopelessly dishonest hordes fighting against it, hordes that need to realize that IF they had ever been honest and EVER supported the RULE OF LAW vis-à-vis the Beck decision, NONE of this need ever have happened.

Under the spreading burr oak tree…

Well, again no Time Machine per se, so I thought I’d do post number two in my “old Indiana home” series.  But first, I have to share with you a scam e-mail, mainly because it’s been so long since I got one.  Anyway, this is one of those “I love you so much, so I sent you an e-card” deals from someone not remotely close to anyone I know.  But at the end, this little bon mot was appended:

Quote of the Day
them to the benefit of public as well as private life, which was
uncertain light, seemed longer and sharper than they had been in the morning.

Yeah, I think George Washington said that, right after finishing off all the Hessians’ booze at Trenton.


Okay, so we are still out in the northeast corner of the back yard.  Along the property line running N/S on the east side, we had a set of gardens.  The one back here was mainly flowers and strawberries.  Mom was a veteran canner, and the many rows of garden produced many jars of tomatoes, juice, beets, sauerkraut, peppers, and jams, among others.  But the back yard was a strawberry garden; years later, Dad scammed a cherry tree from somewhere, but it ended up kinda stunted and not real productive.  I remember one afternoon- it was after Pete got married and left me as the “only child,” so I must have been about ten- we were hurrying a strawberry picking expedition as a storm was rumbling in the swift-approaching background.  Then came a bolt of lightning, which ended up being a) the first time I had experienced simultaneous thunder and lightning; b) the closest I’ve ever personally been to a lightning strike; and c) I’m guessing the fastest I ever ran.  By the time I hit the back door instants later, Mom and Dad were about halfway across the yard steaming in my direction, and I’m sure we were all mentally checking our underwear.

It seems to me, that despite prevailing currents, the worst storms back then ran east to west.  I remember when I was 3 or four, me and Pete were fending for ourselves when we spotted a dust storm- an honest to God dust storm in Indiana- rolling across the road at the other side of the hayfield.  We ran inside and slammed the windows shut just in time to keep most of the dust out.  Now mind you, this isn’t the “the day turned to night and drifts piled up” type you see on PBS shows about the Dustbowl; but it was a lot more than a “that wind is sure kicking shit up” too.  Never have seen another like it, even during tornadoes.

Along that strawberry patch in the back was our clothes line, suspended from wrought-iron poles that looked like little telephone poles.  I thought they were the most permanent things we had; but one day, when I was in high school, the one at the north end finally fell over, rusted out at the concrete base.  The other one remained as a lonely monument to the past for about 10 years, until I and some of my marijuana-enhanced crew took it upon ourselves to bring it down.  A lot heavier with the concrete still attached, let me assure you.
Long before that, the strawberry patch had become yard- with the exception of a row of asparagus that Dad planted near the trash burner.  After Dad passed, I took great delight in mowing that crap over year after year until it finally gave up.

When we were ree-little, Mom and Dad got us a swingset.  It started with a slide, which Mom would give us wax paper to rub it down so we could really “fly”.  Then came I think two swings, followed by one of those two seaters that was a cross between a swing, a hobby horse, and a teeter-totter.  On the other end was a four seater gondola.  We were way proud when we could rock it enough to pick a leg of the set off the ground.  Among other things, this is where I and my 2 nieces had a big debate over whether “darn” or “damn” was the worse bad word.  I was trying to figure the timeline on that one the other night.  Now I’m thinking that it was the summer after a New Years eve party at my sister Sue’s first house on the corner of Lortie and Paulding Roads (AKA the corner of Bucksnort and BFE).  I’m thinking that nephew Troy (of beer caps in the boots fame) was about 2 1/2, because we kids spent a fair amount of that night teaching Troy, in his high chair, how to say another cuss word:
US: “Say it again!”
TROY:  “Sssit!”
US: “Say it again…”
Troy: “SSSSIT!!!”
So that timeline would have put me and Robin at 6 and Raine at 5.

Geez, I still haven’t made it to the tree!  When I say this was a big tree, it would have taken four of us kids, fingertip to finger tip, to reach around the trunk ( I think we once measure it at 12-14 feet).  It seemed to climb forever into the sky, like an oaken Yggdrasil.  It wasn’t a climber; the first branches were a good six and a half to 7 feet up, and if an adult lifted you up onto one, the next one was two feet out from you and head-high.  Not to mention the bark was rough and deeply furrowed.  One side was covered with that blue, scaly moss.  The lowest branch ran east-west for maybe thirty or forty feet; and it was up against the tree trunk that Dad hung the porch swing from it.  You knew it was spring when he put it up; you knew autumn was about to become winter when it returned to the shed.  Then the chains became “Tarzan vines”, even if the attire was switching to Nanook of the north.  Even after Mom and Dad passed, I still put it up a few times before one spring the branch finally gave way. Twenty years of service, just in MY lifetime.

Dad had also, much later, hung a swing from a much higher branch. 

That tree and I went through a lot together.  A goal when I was small enough that the back yard seemed a mile across; a mountain for little plastic superheroes to climb, a hiding place when fighting Indians, an effective hide-and-seek spot, a base for tag, and the best outdoor bathroom in the yard.  Of all the things from the old house, I think I miss it the most.

Behind it, running east-west along the field, Dad had a row of raspberries.  As this was a spot constantly eroding into the field (Al plowed right to the line) Dad had put a series of posts along it in the raspberries, tying them together with thick fence wire.  Next time, I will explain how the combination of the burning pile, the tree, and the wire can prove to you that a man can fly.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The bookworm tag game

A couple of friends about the blogoverse have acquired this survey of book reading habits, which if you read it, you’ve been tagged and are supposed to do it on your blog.  One such place to see the thing is here on J.Day's blog.  Here is my rendition; feel free to tag yourself or not, as I’m not big into do-this-and-pass-it-on unless it suits my purpose.
1- Fave childhood book- Easily the easiest question- Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House In The Big Woods.  The others I read mentioned the Black Stallion series, which were also excellent.

2-What are you reading now? Just finished New Testament History by FF Bruce.

3 (What do you have on request at the library), 4 (What do you currently have checked out), 16 (how many do you have checked out at a given time), 17 (have you returned a book unread) are all library questions and I haven’t been to in a while.

5- Do I have an e-reader?  Not as long as I can get pages.

6- Do you read one or several at a time?  I usually have “re-reads” stashed strategically about the house.

7- Can you read on the bus?  Never tried on the bus, but unlike many people I have little problem reading in a moving vehicle.

8- Fave place to read? Bedroom, bathroom*, kitchen table, out in the sunshine.
  * when we were kids, my sister got scolded when Parade Magazine kept mom out of the can.  Mom’s famous quote:  “I don’t go there to sit and think- I go there to shit and stink!”  Obviously one of those golden rules that didn’t stick.

9-Do you dog-ear pages?  Only until I press some unfortunate piece of trash into service as a bookmark.

10-Do you write in the margins?  Only in my Bible.

11- What makes you love a book?  The ability to put me into the action.  Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Leon Uris’ Trinity, did that the best for me.  This answer holds true for #12, What would make me recommend a book.

13-Fave genre- History, historical bio, some sci-fi, usually anthologies.

14- How do you feel about giving a negative review?  IMHO, different strokes for different folks.  It has to be really bad before I bad mouth it.

15- Fave poet- Myself.

18/19- Fave fictional character/villain.  This question automatically throws me into the world of comic books.  And there it hugely depends upon the writer.  For me the wrong writer (Chuck Austin, John Byrne, Jeff Loeb) can ruin the best character.  Written at their VERY best, probably Thor and Dr. Doom.  MY brain doesn’t usually retain novel characters too long after the book is done.

20- What books go on vacation?  Something in history, hopefully the next Susan Wise Bauer book.  Barbara Tuchman would work, too.

21- Longest time gone without reading?  From birth till learning to read.  Whether it be a comic, a novel, or an ingredient label at dinner, I’ve read pretty much ever since.

22-Name a book you would not finish, and 26- What would cause you to stop reading 1/2 way through?  The answer in both is John Updike’s Rabbit is Rich.  I can take constructive stupidity for a long time (Catch-22, anyone?)  But when Rabbit starts weighing the moral ramifications of stealing his friend’s pictures of his wife in the nude while snooping through his dresser drawer, I walked to the closest trash can and threw the damn thing away.  One that came close was Stephen King's The Tommyknockers.  A nice 150-page novel stretched out to 752.  I finished it only to prove I could.

23- What will easily distract you when reading?  Depends on the book.  Most can be disrupted by knowing the right answer on Jeopardy.  Little House books, best bring nukes.

24/25- Fave and worst film adaptations.  Not a big movie person.  I’d have to say I enjoyed the film and book versions of A Time To Kill fairly equally.  As a comic book person, I realize that I am “expected “ to answer the second question with The Watchmen and/or League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but I thoroughly enjoyed both.  Screw you, Alan Moore.

27- Do you organize your books?  About once every 8-10 years, lasting about 25 minutes each time.

28- Do you give away books you’ve read or keep them?  I am a veteran re-reader.  Gitcher hands off!

Before I go, let me announce I got my latest delivery from the Great Postcard Campaign!  It came from my good friend at The Cat And The Coffee Cup, the sole fellow Hoosier in our group.  Thanks and hugs to you!

Burning piles (No, not that kind…)

Woke up about 4 AM- convenient on a workday, not so much when we don’t have the work.  Not that I mind  not working this morning, mind you.  There’s a good quarter inch of ice on the car, and the street is, shall we say, reflective.  Charly Butcher on WOWO said he was puzzled on the way into the studio by lights above the road until he realized it was his own headlights bouncing off the road and into the trees.

So like I said, I woke up at 4 and immediately two trains of thought were chugging through the railroad station of my mind.  The first involved Catherine’s last episode on CSI last night, along with various other show memories.  While once I was an addict, I lost the desire after Grissom left and hadn’t watched this season before last night.  The other thought revolved around the house I grew up at, and my very early days.

We lived in rural Allen County, Indiana, in a flyspot on the map called Besancon.  Our house was nestled in between the old two-lane US 30 on the south; the Frontier Court motel on the west (where you took your mistress on Friday and Saturday nights for years); 40 acres of Al Lomont’s fields on the north; and a small hay field on the east.  We had 3/4ths of an acre with a one story house and half-basement, with a detached garage.  I’ll get to them later, as I foresee this being a multi post tour of the old place and the memories therein, before I forget any more of it.

So, I’m going to start in the northeast corner.  At the very corner of the property, we had a burning barrel.  See, back in those days, one burned their garbage.  Usually without incident, though I do remember one day the fire jumped the barrel and got into the corn.  I was too little to do anything back then but sound the alarm, so the next thing I knew I was at the kitchen window watching my parents and my sister Pete running out to the field with a garden hose.

I guess before I get too far ahead, I should give you the family structure.  I came along late; Mom was 40 and Dad was 46.  I had two older brothers, both married by the time I was around.  I was an uncle 5 months after birth, and by the time I was five, I had a 5-yo niece, a 4-yo niece, a 3-yo nephew, a 2 yo nephew, and another couple nieces on the way.  I had two older sisters; Sue, who got married and moved out when I was 3, and Pete, who moved out when I was 8.

Anyhow, back to the corner.  By the time I was six or so, that barrel was on its last gasps.  Dad built a burner out of cinder block, brick, and slopped on cement, with fence across the front to hold debris in.  All the old burned stuff, he dug a pit beside it and buried it.  We had clay, so you could only dig about 2 feet without machinery, so this was a broad, shallow pit, and it became the home of the year’s yard debris until it was burned as well.  I’m not talking grass here:  we had a lot of trees, including a tremendous Burr Oak that covered two third of the back yard.  A pair of just as tall but not as big pin oaks flanked it, and the three of them joyously shed branches and twigs all year, particularly during Ice storms like last night.  With a stash of combustibles like this, it was inevitable that we’d have some kind of pile-burning affair, but we’ll get to that later.

My earliest memories show that the area that became a burning pit once was the home of one of our three dogs.  Queenie was the non-hunting dog of the three.  She was just this little mutt, I think a beagle-chihuahua mix.  All of them were permanent outdoor dogs, but I visited Queenie and Spike all the time. I couldn’t have been too old when we got rid of Queenie, but I don’t remember the circumstances.  I think Sparky wasn’t long after.  She was an old beagle-basset and right around that time she had a big litter, and I think Dad sold her and the pups to some guy.  All except one who of course got named Reject.  Something was wrong with him- he ran at the end of his chain and barked almost all the time.  I think he ended up having a “hunting accident” eventually.  The one thing I do know for sure was that the morning after the pups got sold, I was crawling around the living room (because that’s what 3-4 yo s do) and crawled behind Mom’s chair to find myself face to “face” with a turd, deposited that night by one of the pups.  One “Mom, what’s this” later, the incident was blamed on Reject, adding to his bad rep.

One last thing for today on the subject of burning piles and the celebration thereof.  We were much further along one year after the “weenie roast” when one of my nephews and I were playing with the smoldering remains- you know, kicking out little fires, encouraging others, that sort of thing.  I guess we never noticed that the adults had a habit of flinging beer caps into the fire.  We figured it out when my nephew found something was amiss, only to discover that said beer caps, still nice’n hot, had melted into his brand new cowboy boots. In 3 or four spots each.  My sister Sue, his mom, was less than pleased with us.  And no, that didn’t teach us not to muck with fire, but that is also a story for another day.

The boys of Lokomotiv chalked up another win, this time before 9,046 at home.  They faced an old rival, Lada Togliatti- a team booted from the KHL 2 seasons ago because their arena is, politely, below league standards, and the new one won’t be ready till sometime next year.  Didn’t look good at first.  The kids were feeling the effects of 8 days off, and 18 seconds in, a freak hop around the net got deflected in by Lada’s Igor Shastov to put the visitors up 1-0.  But Lada had troubles of it’s own, and not long after getting whistled for a penalty, they gave up Dmitry Maltsev’s drive from the blue line that tied the game at 7:18 of the first.  Emil Galimov came in on a two-man break to score his 7th at 15:12, and we had the lead.  Six minutes into the second, Lada got whistled again; and this time it was Yegor Yakolev ( who himself missed the second half of period one with a 10-minute misconduct) made them pay with his 3rd of the campaign.  At this point, Lada’s coach pulled their goalie to try and spark his team.  It almost worked- minutes later, they beat Pavel Shegala but not the post- and after that, Shegala took over.  He stopped 28 of 29 and we had a 3-1 win.

Next up is a home game Friday against Kristall Saratov, a team really struggling at 6-27-7.  We are 6-3-2; and with our short season, we will be placed according to the percentage of possible points we get, after the two division winners.  That puts us third in the conference, with 60.6 percent of possible points earned.

Okay, I’m done, the complex has salted both street and sidewalk as I typed (these guys are good!), and I believe I shall go doze off to school delays.


Ooops, one more thing, happy Aussie day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wastebook finale, and some other stuff.

Okay, I’ve gleaned the last couple of funnys from Wastebook for you today.  Though what I’ve posted is far from everything, it is the best of that which will make you laugh while you cry.

#27- One of the many things the stimulus bill brought us was a $96,000 bill to give the kindergartners of one Maine district (around 300 of ‘em) IPad2’s for classwork.  Let’s put aside the facts that 1% of K kids can read words in context, 2% can recognize some words, and 4% can do the simplest of adding and subtracting, according to the Dept. of Education; set aside that a Facebook poll of the district said that 95% of parents (7624 of 7981) thought it was a stupid idea.  $96,000 by 300 kids means they paid $320 apiece for an item I found on for less than $44.  Martin savings- $83,040.

23- The National Institute of Health (which obviously doesn’t cover mental health) gave $356,933 over a 2 year period to examine the possible link between cocaine and risky sexual behavior by studying the effects on the sex drive of Japanese Quail.  Why Quail? “Because, “ a researcher says,  “the birds readily engage in reproductive behavior in the lab.”  IOW, they don’t care who they fool around with in public.  Given that, I have to wonder how much riskier behavior quail on cocaine can manage.  And was the study sckewed by lack of condom availability?
Martin savings: look at the warrant pics of people busted for cocaine possession.  Find out how many kids they have.  Think about whether YOU’D want to have sex with him/her, and do the math.  75 cents for a newspaper.

A double-popper, #s 19 and 33.  19 is how one billion dollars in credits have been given by the IRS for household energy efficiency improvements to people who have never owned a home, including incarcerated prisoners and children as young as 3.  Over 30% of these credits, according to the IG in charge of taxation, have gone to people with no proof of ever having owned a home- and the IRS is not only not able to verify any claims, but doesn’t even require proof!
Martin savings comes in on #33- the IRS was also found to have 22,486 items in various warehouses that HAD NOT BEEN TOUCHED IN at least 18 MONTHS!  The rental on these warehouses costs the IRS $862,000 per year!  Sell that crap and hire a couple of agents to check into these credit applications.


I got a request from Mynx to look into the Australian Ice Hockey League.  The top league down under, they are a semi-pro league- no salaries, but some vehicles, hotel, and other such paid for by sponsors.  They also differ from most in playing 15-minute periods instead of 20.  Their season runs on weekends from mid-April to the beginning of September.

Beginning this year, the league was split into two conferences.  the Northeast  contains the Canberra Knights; 2 teams from Sydney, the Bears and the Ice Dogs; the Newcastle North Stars (kinda odd to be NORTH stars in Oz, but whatever); and the Gold Coast Blue Tongues (no, the mascot isn’t a chow, but a lizard indigenous to the area).  In the Southwest we have the brand new Perth Thunder;  the Adelaide Adrenaline; and two squads from Melbourne, the Mustangs IHC and the two time champion  Melbourne Ice.  The Ice won the last championship against 4-time champ Newcastle in a playoff that is a 4-team, single elimination tourney.  Melbourne started out on a 6-1 streak to open the season, and solidified their hold with a 5-game win streak in July.  The Ice blew out Adelaide 8-3 in the first game and edged Newcastle 3-2 in the championship.

The league also announced that they would this season have a “Trans-Tasman Champions League” with the top two from their league playing a round robin with the top two from New Zealand.

The Austrian League has started their “second phase” leading into the playoffs.  The top six play a round robin to determine playoff placement.  Black Wings Linz, who won the regular season with a 24-7-9 mark, get 4 bonus points going in; second place Medvescak Zagreb gets 3, and 3rd and 4th get 2 and 1.  Zagreb in one of 5 non-Austrian teams in the 11-club circuit, hailing from Croatia.  Also in the 6 team RR are Alba Volan Fehervar (from Hungary); Red Bull Salzburg, the two time defending champs; KAC Klagenfurter; And Olimpija Ljubliana, one of two Slovenian teams.  Linz has picked up where they left off, downing Zagreb 2-0 and Olimpija 4-0.  RBS is struggling, as they have all season, with an opening loss to KAC 6-4 and a 7-1 drubbing by Alba Volan.
The bottom five also have a RR, with the top two going to the main playoffs, while the bottom of the bottom gets relegated next year.  These five include Orli Znojmo from the Czech Republic; the Graz 99ers; my VSV Villacher; the Vienna Capitals; and Slovenia’s Acroni Jesenice, which is in such a bad way monetarilly that the president of the club was forced to resign under fan pressure, and the club and the mayor of the city had to give assurances at the end of the season that they could afford to play in the playoffs.  Graz is leading this group, with a 3-2 SO win over the Caps, and 4-0 over VSV , who also lost to Orli.  That loss, 3-2, surprised the league since the last regular season game was a 7-0 win by VSV in Znojmo, and the playoff loss was in Villach.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Killing time..

Man, ya ever have one of those days?  We are now on day # 3 of “you’re not laid off, but we got no work.  Call tomorrow"…” with #4 coming up tomorrow.  So I thought, what can I do to entertain myself other than walk the dog (done twice) ,play games (4 hours worth), check facebook  (about 20 times today) and e-mails (ditto), harass leftists and/or atheists (covered), watch TV ( State of the Union looking better and better), or scratch my butt (no current itches).  So I came here to talk about… what?

First thought was, how about a “who’s dumber”.  And for about an hour, I had a doozy.  FoxNews (who actually was deserving of a Who’s Dumber for not verifying) had a story that Costa Cruises (the guys that brought you the shipwrecked liner in Italy) were offering survivors a 30% discount on future trips.  However, on checking back a bit later, they had had to retract the story.  What Costa had done was call each survivor and give them a full refund, PLUS let their customers know that anyone who has a trip booked out to February 7th of next year can bail out with full refund.  FoxNews should have took a lesson from CBSSports and their proclamation of JoePa assuming room temperature some 8 hours early.

Even if the story had held, the lone contender for a second contestant was a dentist trying to rip medicare by using paper clips instead of metal posts on fillings.  Apparently, his attempts to defraud the government by using other DDS’s names on paperwork once medicare gave him the boot weren’t enough to put him behind bars, but paper clips were.  The good news is, at least now I won’t have to find a dentist to replace a filling that fell out last week…

So I thought, well, let me go over to int’l hockey forums and see if I could find the latest fun at the expense of Holon/Bat Yam, but no news.  Hard as it is to imagine, the threat of terrorist bombings, protests by idiot foreigners, and Iran’s impending nuclear capability all rank ahead of hockey as a concern in Israel.  Will God be mad at me if I make fun of a team of His Chosen with a goalie named Knuckles?  If they can throw down a hockey stick and have it turn into a frozen snake, then I’ll worry.

So the gist of tonight’s post is, I have nothing of worth to say.  However, I have killed the time until a halfway interesting show came on H2, so at least I ended up to the good.  See ya tomorrow…

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tonight’s debate

I would have to say I’ve heard the dumbest thing on any debate so far this season.  Mitt Romney got asked along the lines of, “ How do you end the war with the Taliban?”  Note that Ron Paul had just had his say about Iran, which his response was the usual, “we’re provoking them”.  Mitt’s answer?

“You beat ‘em.”

Sounds logical, even patriotic, right?

This is why you should have paid attention in history class, kids.  People have been trying to “beat ‘em” since Alexander the Great, with typically Pyrrhic results.  In the last couple hundred years, the Persians, Brits, Russians, and now us have tried; it is a losing proposition.  As long as a) you are a foreigner, and b) there’s one guy with a sharp stick left, they will not quit.  They will not surrender.

How do you beat ‘em?  You go in and take away their power to hurt you.  We had that basically done in the first month of air strikes.  Then you get out and let them go back to killing each other.  Because you could stay there 100 years “nation-building” and two weeks after you leave, they’ll be right back at it.  One place in the world I agree with Ron Paul.

Best thing said comes from Newt- “We don’t want to send someone (to the White House) just to preside over the decay.”  Think about the picture of our nation that THAT paints.

Quickie analysis:
Ron Paul.  Very strong tonight, except in foreign policy questions.  He’s going to have to get over the “we’re to blame for everything” schtick and realize that there are some people you just can’t TALK to.  Too much like President (Let’s just say we’re sorry) Obama for me.
Rick Santorum:  Brian Williams of NBC continues the “let’s just ignore him out of the game” plan.  He did okay, though, but plays too much to the Tea Party for my taste.  Very willing to blast everyone else for compromises- I think he’d live to regret that were he elected.  Did a good job on the Terri Shiavo questions.

Mitt Romney:  Mostly good, but was way out of his depth trying to attack Gingrich.  His definition of “influence peddler” would likely take in about 70% of America.  Totally disingenuous when he blamed his attacks on Gingrich on himself being attacked in the SoCar debates, since it was at the end of that debate he said he wanted to focus on Obama and not before.  Williams held out the bait and he took it.

Newt Gingrich:  Once again proves himself the master debater.  Also the master realist:  “(Obama’s) going to spend a billion dollars on the campaign.  If we don’t come together, we’ll have a difficult time overcoming it in the debates.”

Without going into details, if what I saw in links today were the best the left can throw up against him (personal opinions from overseas, vicious insults, and “nuff saids”), I gotta like his chances.

Monday morning, you sure look fine..

And last night’s title bout- 5 inches of snow vs a severe thunderstorm at 2:20 AM with somewhere between .33 and .89 inches of rain-

-and it’s thunderstorm by decision!

Here, somebody made you a snowman, Alisa!  He seems to have had a rough night…

The view from Scrappy’s Landing.  It was weird to listen to the ice cracking from the melting, the current, and stuff dropping from the trees.

Now there are three ways we use to cross the feeder to get on the greenway trail- the bridges at the Plex; our little crossing at the stream; and the wooden bridge down from the landing.  The little crossing was full enough of water that I had to find a dryer place to jump across, but the wooden bridge (which can float away in times of flood) was pretty secure.

The view from the wooden footbridge.
It would have taken probably 3 times the snow to melt to put that one in trouble.

Meanwhile, they continue to work on the bridge over the St. Joe in order to put in the path beneath it that will link the greenway to Shoaff Park…

Hopefully they’ll have it done before the erosion at the river bend knocks out the trail.

Two days ago, the 9 AM temp was 10.5.  Today it was 47.  Welcome to Indiana.


Some other notes- in nosing around the hockey world, I saw that Austria’s EBHL had finished the regular season and went on to stage 2- where the top 6 teams do a round robin to determine playoff seeding, and the bottom five do likewise, with two teams getting the last two playoff spots and the last one getting relegated.  Black Wings Linz won the season title, and my VSV Villacher team is in the “other five”.  I’ll deal with this a bit more when I do my next hockey update.

Also, I brought up the other day the Israeli league, which I don’t regularly follow as the quality of club hockey at McMillan Ice Arena here in Ft. Wayne is better.  But I brought it up because they used to have the one team that might be worse than AHL’s China Dragon.  That team used to be Bat-Yam 2; Now it is in the city of Holon, where they are known as (I can’t make this stuff up) the Jet Turtles.
They are the ones who got beat 19-0 on opening day.  That game was apparently 5-0 after 2 periods, but then they put in their backup goalie (one Yoav {Knuckles} Friedman, who apparently tried out once for Ontario of the ECHL, with predictable results)   and he managed to give up 14.  One commenter on International Hockey Forums mentioned that there was a video available, but it mainly focused on the goaltender.  To which another commenter rightly noted that when he gives up 14 goals in a 20-minute period, there’s not a whole lot of opportunity to look elsewhere.  Holon has gone on to lose their next 2 games 12-0 and 13-0, and even China Dragon has played a couple of relatively close games.


Finally, a note about JoePa.  I thought about doing a full blown tribute here, but talked myself out of it.  Not because of that pervert Sandusky, but because of the tales of his dictatorial rule over the university that have come out since.  Mind you, you can’t touch as many lives for the positive as he did without having something good within you.  But apparently you had to be a member of the football “family” to rate that treatment.  So, as is true for all of us, in between those who want to put him up for sainthood and those who wish he’d lived long enough to do jail time, the truth lies.  I still am uncomfortable about how the university treated him at the end; but what you sow, that shall you also reap.  And before you know it, the crop’s all in.  Something to think about before your combine gets fired up.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday message with a lot of +

This morning I listened to 2 messages, both centering around Abraham.  The first, from Chuck Swindoll, focused on the story of Isaac’s near-sacrifice and the concept of this year’s theme being “letting go.”  The second was by the late Ed Bousman and was more about the calling of the bride of Isaac contrasted with the calling of the bride of Christ.

It has always struck me that Abraham was the prime human servant of God, because he was the only one specifically chosen to make the same sacrifice God did- the life of His Son.  But I’ve learned that God doesn’t start anything in the middle.  Consider that Abram started out not an image of God, but an image of Adam.  He was given the fellowship and the promises of God, and then (don’t get mad at me) through the encouragement of a woman, tried to do things his own way.  This led to disastrous effects down through all of mankind’s history- though it did not disqualify him from God’s attention and concern.

Abraham recovered from his setback by striving to become more obedient to God.  He had been given two conditions- have faith and obey; upon doing these were hung the promises of God.  He succeeded so well that He was given the privilege of Isaac’s sacrifice- the privilege of becoming as close to God as possible.  While I saw this as an event, I hadn’t thought about that progression he needed to go through to get there before today.

Bousman took it a step further.  Abraham (now an image of the Father) sent out his servant (played by us)  to find a bride for Isaac (who becomes Christ in the analogy).  Isaac was to remain with Abraham while the servant went out to find His bride, just as the risen Christ abides in heaven awaiting our gathering of his bride (the Church).  He also reminded us of the servant’s question about, “what if she won’t come”, to which Abraham replied he was off the hook.  Not, “kidnap her”, “Take her by force”, or “Bribe her.”  The servant’s duty is done in presenting the invitation.

Swindoll’s though, was the part that hit application for me.  The part about being willing to let go; and he went in detail about giving up something near to your heart that might be in the way.  For me, though, it’s not quite like that.  If you go back to my “24 hours give or take” post, you’ll see an entry about wanting to meet with a former pastor, to apologize.  This has been an issue of forgiveness with me.  Without going into details, I can say that every time I think I’m there, I rehearse the meeting in my mind, and it always devolves into “my fault, your fault” and I realize I’m not there yet.  Today I realized that the reason I’m not “getting there” is that instead of letting go of what was done to me, I use it as a shield to protect me from dealing with the shame that I brought on myself in the situation.  Today I realized that obedience= forgiveness= letting go of that shield and accepting my own shame.  Not easy, not there yet- but at least now I know where the problem lies.  Not everything God wants us to let go is a prized possession or opportunity.  Sometimes, it’s a defense mechanism protecting something God says I don’t need.

Snow update:
about 5 inches.

Here’s a funny story.  I was texting my son about the news that a pitcher on his Indians, Fausto Carmona, got busted in the Dominican for using a false name.  His reply:  Geez what else could go wrong  ohhh I know having a squirrel invade ur apartment!
Okay, so I asked if his “party cat” Porkchop had let this squirrel in.  His reply:No he chased it all over destroying everything in there path now I have to clean up when I get home my closet is destroyed.

Turns out that KC is trying to train Porkchop to stay inside.  To do so, he leaves the door open when he takes his trash out, making sure ‘Chop stays at the door.  Well, this time, the cat didn’t bother to get up from his nap- until the squirrel entered the premises.  The squirrel made a bee-line into the bedroom, whereupon the cat chased him into the closet and there they began their remarkable simulation of Armageddon.  Could only happen to my son.

Two things yet from last night.  I was watching an all-star football game when the news came down that Joe Paterno was taken off the respirator and was near death.  By the time I got on to look into this, they had a “Breaking News” banner that he had indeed died.  Turning back to the TV, they were still saying he was “off the respirator;”  and within 10 minutes, the banner had disappeared. reported (and CBS soon confirmed) that the mistake had come when the Penn State student paper announced that an e-mail had went out to all the football players that JoePa had passed.  Apparently neither the paper nor CBSSports did their due diligence before releasing it.  This morning, without commenting on how the false story had come about, the editor of the school newspaper apologized and resigned from the paper.  Nice to see he was big enough to admit the mistake and take responsibility.  Once upon a time, that would have guaranteed him a future job in the news.  Too bad nowadays integrity means nothing to the media.


And that brings me to today’s last item- I flipped over to msnbc (don’t hate me) to see how the South Carolina primary turned out, and was happy to see that Newt had won an overwhelming victory.  Of course the shills that pass for reporters on that network were busy scoffing at what they thought Newt’s next move would/should/could be.  I wondered how we had gotten so far away from the days when news reporting meant news reporting, instead of giving the liberal opinion as if it was everyone’s opinion and, damn, you’re dumb if you don’t have the same opinion.  The msnbc  crew were 4 of the most childish, irresponsible, and condescending excuses for journalists I’ve ever witnessed.  But, that’s today’s liberal elite for you.  Patting themselves on the back that they speak for the “99%” (which was down to about 33% in late November, after which the media quit tracking it’s support) and sneering at anyone that would gainsay them.  You know, I actually can see how the people who think Occupy had a point, uh, had a point.  But if I had to rely on snakes like msnbc, George Souros, and Harry Reid and li’l Jimmy H to lead me…
Just for the record, yes, I’m finally throwing my support to Gingrich.  Why?  Because to me one of the biggest problems is nobody wants to work with anyone, make a deal, to get something done.  Obama is ineffective because he’s a Chicago threaten-you –with-a-stick politician who can’t find anyone he can bully at this level.
On the continuum of candidates out there right now, you start at one end with Ron Paul, who I doubt ANYONE will work with;  move to Santorum, whom I like, but is a “tea partyer “ in the sense that he will stand his ground come hell or high water, and that’s been part of the problem.  Bachman, Perry, and Cain were to varying degrees in that category as well.  Far to the other side we have Romney (and perhaps Huntsman) who would have been willing to compromise to get deals done, but I’m afraid would have given away the keys to the car.  I believe that Newt is smart enough to make a deal, connected enough to work with people, and tough enough not to get walked all over doing it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The great seventies countdown week 8

"Yesterday, "  the host tells us, " the following message appeared at
Thank you for visiting Cashbox Magazine U.S.A. We are currently working on a new look and an updated Cashbox Magazine...  Check back with us soon to see the new website and thank you for the continued support.  Therefore, our sister program will perhaps be up and running soon... though, I am told, in a VASTLY different form.  However, we are not bound by such constraints, and the Countdown rolls on.  Please extinguish your cell phones, sit back, and enjoy... why? Because it's a no-smoking theatre, and you cannot extinguish your cigarettes if you do not have them!"

190- Get Ready, Rare Earth, #4, 1970.  The best non-live live song in history (beating out Louie Louie and Benny And The Jets).

189- Lonely Night (Angel Face), The Captain and Tennille, 1976, #3.  These two had a two year run were they could do no wrong.  Then they started releasing Toni's version of smaultz-pop and lost me.

188- Hold The Line, Toto, 1978, #5.  This song blasted like a rocket into the top ten, and brought with it a debut lp full of good songs and a band that had been "everybody's backing band" (notably Boz Scaggs') for years.

187- Guns Guns Guns, The Guess Who, 1972, #70.  Another of those 8-tracks-on-Snow-Lake songs.

186- Boy Blue, Electric Light Orchestra, 1975, non-charting.  From Eldorado, a great anti-war song.
"So my friends, who are gathered today/hear this clear, for I'll not further say/that no man shall cause me to pick up arms again..."
185- At Seventeen, Janis Ian, 1975, #3.  And it wasn't much better for the guys in that position, Janis.

184- Theme To Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To), Diana Ross, 1975, #1.  For me, the best thing she ever did.

183- I Don't Know How To Love Him, Yvonne Elliman, 1971, #28.  Most people preferred Helen Reddy's cover that climbed the charts at the same time (#13).  As you know by now, I'm not most people.  I'll take the original from Jesus Christ Superstar any day.

182- Edge Of The Universe, Bee Gees, 1977, #26.  The studio version was the b-side of Nights On Broadway, the charting single was from Here At Last... Live.  Blue Weaver on keyboards.

181- Weekend In New England, Barry Manilow, 1977, #10.  As I told on the last Time Machine, this was the first #1 when I started keeping my own top 10 35 years ago this month.

180- Lost Her In The Sun, John Stewart, 1979, #28.  I didn't know John died of a stroke in 2008.  Second single from the lp with maybe my all time favorite title- Bombs Away Dream Babies.  This was the imagery from hearing it as the sun set out my bedroom window, on a fading AM radio station.

179- How Do You Do, Mouth And McNeal, 1972, #8.  Maggie McNeal's real name?  Sjoukje van't Spijker.  There's a, er, mouthful.

178- Night Fever, Bee Gees, 1978, #1.  Always remember it was just climbing the charts when my alma mater, Heritage High School, was celebrating making the final four in Girls Basketball.  A couple hours of dancing and music in the cafetorium when we were supposed to be learning.

177- She's Gone, Hall And Oates, 1974 (#60) and 1976 (#7).  From one of the better albums you've never heard, Abandoned Luncheonette.  Long version far superior.

176- Dreamboat Annie, Heart, 1976, #42.  At 2:40, probably the shortest song on the countdown.  My all time best Heart song.

175- What Is Life, George Harrison, 1971, #10.  From All Things Must Pass, the best post-Beatles lp by any of the Fab Four.

174- Dancing In The Moonlight, King's Harvest, 1972, #13.  You are kidding me.  A song that played this much only hit 13?  The prototype early seventies song.

173- Slow Train Coming, Bob Dylan, 1979, non-charting.  From his first Christian lp, the powerful title track.

172- Please Mr. Postman, Carpenters, 1974, #1.  A great song in 1961 , a great song in 1974. And a great song now.

171- Loves Me Like A Rock, Paul Simon with the Dixie Hummingbirds, 1973, #2.  A real welcome song from Rhymin' Simon after the bitterness of Kodachrome and I Am A Rock and the like.

With the crowd settling down from the Gospel swaying, the lights come up a bit and the host ventures out.  "I'm glad you enjoyed the show, "  he says.  "Be sure to be here next week.  And now, one more song to fade out on..."

(Note:  I was going to have Lost Her In The Sun here, but all I could find was a really lousy live recording and some guy who thought we'd like to hear him sing over Stewart's music.  So I picked this, and there were three videos with just one unchanging picture and another with a couple of floating seahorses on a continuous loop.  Between earbud malfunctions, losing a page of songs, copying the WRONG page of songs, I'm not real surprised this happened today.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

But daddy, I don’t HAVE any to freeze off…

For Barb enjoying your 70 f and ocean, Mynx and your pool, and Alisa who would like to see snow for whatever reason, here is Fort Wayne, 5:30 pm, 16.5 degrees...


I thought I just cleared this at noon...

A facefull of snow

A lot of little branches down...

Snow covered, slick, and hazardous!
And Alisa, this is, like the last time, a real powdery, dry snow that doesn't pack, so no snowmen.

The Time Machine beauty contest!

Pre-post update:  Cashbox has a "holder page" up as of checking things at 10:10 PM, but is not yet up.  Therefore our regularly scheduled program is pre-empted by:

I’m doing this Wednesday night in case of Cashbox still being down Friday.  If I find it’s back up by then, I’ll fit this in at another point.  My bright idea was, How about I take all the women that hit #1 on the 20th of January, and have a beauty contest?  So I pirated  found the most flattering pics (to me) of each contestant, and grouped them into, well, groups.

Group #1 is, of course, groups.  Seeings as a) I didn’t want to split them up, and b)Beyonce’s in one of the groups, I decided I’ll do them on their own.
  Here are the contestants:
The Boswell Sisters, who hit #1 in 1935 with The Object Of My Affection;
The Andrews Sisters, who made it in 1938 with Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen and in 1950 with I Can Dream, Can’t I;
Dawn (skip the ugly one in the middle) who topped the chart in 1971 with Knock Three Times;
and Destiny’s Child, who were at #1 in 2001 with Independent Women.
In all fairness, Beyonce getting two shots isn’t fair, and Telma Hopkins isn’t really my cup o’ tea, so I’ll take Patty, Maxine, and Laverne.  Besides, I Can Dream, Can’t I is basically the theme song to this post.

Now, the rest of our lovely ladies I’m dividing up into three classes.  The first group I’m calling, “nice pipes, but this is a beauty contest”:
Patti Page, who topped the pops in 1951 with The Tennessee Waltz;
The magnificent Kate Smith who topped the chart in 1932 with River, Stay ‘Way From My Door (with Guy Lombardo’s orchestra);
Singer and comedienne Ada Jones, who topped the charts in 1913 with Row! Row! Row!;
Ke$ha, who led the league two years ago with Tik Tok;
Evelyn Knight, at #1 in 1949 with A Little Bird Told Me;
Lady Gaga, at #1 in 2009 with Just Dance;
and Diana Ross who had the Theme From Mahogany at #1 in 1976.

Our second category is the beauty pageant’s version of Almost But Not Quite:
Dionne Warwick, who joined her friends in 1986 with That’s What Friends Are For;
Madonna, who was Like A Virgin back in 1985;
Whitney Houston, who really sunk her chances with me with I Will Always Love You in 1993;
Toni Braxton, who was #1 in 1997 with Un-break My Heart;
and Christina Aguilera, who was on top in 2000 with What A Girl Wants.

That brings us to the final eight:
Rhianna, on top currently with We Found Love;
Beyonce, who topped this week in 2007 with Irreplaceable;
Mariah Carey, who was #1 in 1996 with One Sweet Day;
Carly Simon, at #1 in 1973 with You’re So Vain;
Brandy, the top of 1999 with Have You Ever;
Petula Clark, the #1 song in 1965 with Downtown;
Here’s one outta left field- Joan Webber, who hit the top in 1955 with Let Me Go, Lover;
And the late, great, Karen Carpenter, who was at #1 with her brother in 1975 with Please Mr. Postman.

Anyone wants to pitch in their votes, go right ahead.  For me, the eyes have it- and that means the first annual (Hey, who said I’m doing this again!!??!) Time Machine Beauty contest goes to-


That’s all from the spacious Martin Theatre for this one, kids.  I’m gonna go cue up the Andrews Sisters.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More fun with wastebook

Before I get started, let me congratulate President  Obama on his decision to not go forward with the Keystone Pipeline project (“Because we haven’t had time to study it,” Be sure to use whiney voice to read quote.)  He has done yet another great service to the cause of racial equality by proving that numbskulls like Jimmy Carter who should never have been elected President come in all colors, flavors, and ethnic groups.

We start off with #45 today- actually, I’ll be hitting a subsidiary point of this one.  The main story was the spending of nearly $700,000 in Nevada to spruce up ONE (count ‘em, one) highway exit with “striped” boulders and “Native” vegetation.  This is, of course, bad enough; but Coburn goes on to mention that it came on the heels of a Lawsuit that Clark County had to settle on a $120 million road widening project.  It seems that they rejected a bid $4.5 million LOWER than the one they took because “the contractor was not properly licensed”  (read: non-union); the judge smelled horseshit and the county ended up paying an extra $5 mil to the non-union outfit for screwing them.  Mr. GiaQuinta, Mr. Moses, can you see WHY most of your constituents want the Right-To-Work legislation to pass in Indiana?  Can you see why we’re sick of union manipulation, corruption, and lies?  Of course not, you have union dollars clouding your vision.
Martin Savings: outside of what could be saved by banning unions altogether, which I won’t go into here, the county could have saved $9.5 million dollars just by being honest and following the law instead of crawling into a union pocket. Why, you could’ve decorated 13 1/2 more exits with that!

#40 is another one of my beaten path, because this is one of those few times I’ll say, “See?  Barney Frank is right!!!”  The Congressional Committee on Wartime Contracting estimates that upwards of $4.4 billion was wasted on inefficient, corrupt, and inflated contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011 ALONE.  I realize that many like minded conservatives such as myself decry the removing of the least dollar from the defense budget, but OMG you idiots, LOOK AT THIS!! I hear way too much about how defense cuts will “hurt our navy, hurt our reputation, hurt our vets”, etc.  So cut the right spots and it will only hurt crooked contractors.

#36, which I had to throw in just because of the ridiculousness of it.  $50,400 went to the Oregon Cheese Guild who are using some of it to develop the “Oregon Cheese Trail”, which you can see here.  Just think, had the Donners just took the Oregon Cheese Trail, they wouldn’t have had to eat each other.

Finally, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t take a poke at our good friends at USAID.  This one’ll crack you up.  We start out with a $23 million, 3-yr project to aid Pakistan with its electrical grid failure by getting them to use less energy.  The first year ended with these results: 15 industries targeted to develop energy conservation plans, 0 completed. 10 companies targeted to evaluate energy efficiency, 0 completed. 300 energy companies targeted to upgrade equipment, 0 did so. 4 energy distribution companies targeted to implement conservation strategies, none did so. 300 energy sector employees trained, 138 actually got the training.  So one year and $2 million later, they “changed strategy”.  Where have we heard that before?

The new strategy was to get farmers to ditch their old, inefficient energy pumps that USAID would pick up half the cost of.  Their contractor told USAID that they would be able to provide the pumps for $500 per, but as the year drew on, the cost just for the pumps rose to “$1,000 to $4,000”.  Thus it was that instead of paying $5.5 mil for 11,000 pumps at $500 per, they paid $10 million for 963 pumps at $8,500 per!
The IG’s report found that while USAID and the contractor blamed most of it on floods that wracked the nation last year, the real causes were mostly farmer indifference.  Why didn’t the Pakistani farmers jump on the deal?
1- farmers wanted some bucks for the old pumps that they had to get rid of, and USAID failed to anticipate this.
2- the cost of new masonry and electrical also weren’t factored in, and most farmers flat couldn’t afford them.
3- pump manufacturers didn’t want to participate in a short-term program.
4- the regional energy utility was penciled in as a partner, but they declined to participate.
5- almost 8,000 farmers submitted “letters of interest” in the program. USAID, having not the example of Gunner Kiel to learn from, assumed “interest”=”participation”, assumed that all of these were going to participate, but only one out of eight actually did.
6-USAID was allowing one day for the required cement to dry.  Probably not a good idea, since the concrete needed 28 days to cure.
7- and probably the most important, even with USAID paying half, farmers could get the pumps cheaper FROM CHINA.

The IG’s reports that the program be discontinued when it hits year #3 in March.  Even if they did renew, USAID would have to re-budget for a more reasonable pump price, bump their contribution to 75 %, and kick in another 10% for the old pump.
Martin savings:  Let ‘em buy from China.  Require USAID to formulate a coherent plan before giving them ANY money. The current system is a lot like giving a 3 year old a Toys ‘R Us gift card and sending him in alone.  Another way to save money wqould apparently be to stop training the unemployed and just send them to work at USAID, where an education (and common sense) isn’t exactly required.  Or even expected.