Friday, December 29, 2006

Either I'm a Genius, or just darn lucky

Honest, I had no idea they were going to hang Saddam so soon.

I think this completes the death trilogy with Ford and Brown.

Good thing I finished my bunker this fall...looks like we might need to hide out for awhile.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy New Year

I'm going to take Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off. I expect the office to burn to the ground because I'm not there.

Note to Bears fans who are upset that the game has been moved to Sunday night, thereby upsetting your New Year's Eve plans: Get over it for gosh's just a football game. I live and breathe by the NFL, but it's not the end of the world if I don't see a game. Even if it is Favre's last game (which it won't be).

With all that being said.....Guess where I'll be on New Year's Eve? Yep, right in front of the TV watching the game. Why? Because with all the running around we did for the holidays, we are too tired to do anything else but sit and watch a game.

Gerald Ford, James Brown, who's next? Or did I miss the third one?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

I doubt that I'll be doing much 'personal computing' over the next several days, so I'll take this time to wish the 26-34 weekly visitors (James accounts for 15-20, I'm sure) a Merry Christmas.

We were over at the rectory last night for a Christmas Party hosted by our Priest. Truthfully, it was hosted by my wife, because she appears to be the First Lady of the parish. She decorated, dealt with the caterer, set the table and did the dishes.

As long as the priest keeps his mitts off her, I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gotta cut out the OTC meds before bedtime...

I dreamed last night it was Christmas Day, and the ladies in my kitchen preparing the meal were singing Little Steven's "Men Without Women".

Monday, December 11, 2006

A new opiate

If you haven't done so, please sign up at YouTube so you can watch all the videos.

I realize I'm 12 months late on this, but for my age-group, I'm ahead of the curve.

I wish I had more time in my day to waste creating and watching this stuff. Slightly better than looking at porn. At least you can stand up afterward and not be embarrassed.

The Weird World in Which We Live - part 1

There are times that I think we've made our world such a cesspool.

Last Friday (December 8) I got home a little early from work, so the family and I decided to do a little shopping and have dinner. We went to Target to do some Xmas shopping, and my daugher and I walked through the Record Department (for all you kids out there, that's where old farts like me buy CDs).

On an endcap there was a display of John Lennon CDs. I stopped my daughter and told her that this man was a great artist, and was sadly killed 26 years ago today. He was shot by a man just outside his apartment building in New York City.

My daughter sort of nodded, and we moved on.

A lot of my cultural reference points involve someone who has died or been killed. I'll tell my kids about the Kennedys, King, Lennon, Elvis, and other people who have influenced my life, and find myself having to explain why and how they died. Can't I have living heroes?

I see Walter Payton on an NFL Films show and have to explain to my son that even though he was a great athlete, he became ill and died. I don't explain how his liver disease and subsequent cancer was probably caused by gulping down handfuls of NSAIDS after games because Payton didn't want to take anything 'stronger'.

My son knows who Muhammed Ali is. He recognizes Ali on TV, and knows why he doesn't talk so much.

I don't know if my kids are getting some type of warped message about fame and accomplishment...that the price for success is illness or death. That when you are famous and want to do good things, other people want to kill you.

I need to ask them about that, I guess.

Monday, December 04, 2006

How Texas Am I?

How Texas are you?
Your Result: You should be the freaking governor

Obviously you have lived in Texas a long time. You know all there is to know about the Lonestar State and bleed red, white and blue. You are a true Texan.

Not bad, couple more Lonestars and you'll be ok.
Go back to California
How Texas are you?
Make a Quiz

Thursday, November 30, 2006

She Loves you

Am I the only guy that thinks that all Courtney Love needs is the love and support of a stable man?

I want to think that she is really smart/pretty/desirable, but I'm afraid of the psycho factor.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Curse of July 29

My wife and I were married on July 29, 1989. There was no real significance to selecting that date, we just looked at the calendar and decided that July 29 would be the day.

Prince Charles and Lady Diana were married on a July 29.

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were married on a July 29.

Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson were married on a July 29.

With the exception of Brad Pitt, the rest of those grooms (including me) were pretty dorky looking. All the brides are famously gorgeous (including my wife).

As the last July 29 couple standing, we'd just like to say "Thanks" to all our fans.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh to be single again

Just got the news that Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock are splitsville. More on that later.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

When Ignorance is bliss...

...tis folly to be wise.

This week, six Muslim imams were taken off a flight from Minneapolis after a number of them were witnessed to have participated in their usual evening prayers.

(Remind me to pray the rosary the next time I'm waiting for a flight).

The knuckleheads who allowed this to happen should be either disciplined or fired. This is America, darn it, and Muslims are allowed to prayer as they see fit.

I'm really sorry that this happened. It points to ignorance and intolerance, two things that I wish I knew more about, but don't want to bother to learn. (The last sentence was a joke).

But here's where I take issue with the imams:

From the Chicago Tribune:

MINNEAPOLIS -- Six Muslim clerics removed from a US Airways flight said Tuesday they were victims of discrimination and called for a boycott of the airline.

The imams were removed from the flight to Phoenix on Monday night after three of them said their normal evening prayers in the terminal in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport before boarding, said Omar Shahin, president of the North American Imams Federation. They were among the 150 imams who attended a federation meeting in Minneapolis.

"The police came and take us off the plane in front of all the passengers in a very [humiliating] way," said Shahin. "I never felt bad in my life like yesterday. It was the worst moment in my life when I see six imams, six leaders in this community, humiliated."

Yes, Mr. Shahin, you were discriminated against. Yes, Mr. Shahin, you were humiliated. As I wrote above, the people responsible for this should be in big trouble.

Where I have a problem with you, Mr Shahin, is where you state "I never felt bad in my life like yesterday. It was the worst moment in my life when I see six imams, six leaders in this community, humiliated."

I can think of a worse day for you Mr Shahin. How about September 11, 2001, when 19 of your fellow Muslims killed over 3500 innocent people in the name of your religion? Were you humiliated by their actions? Did you feel bad? Probably not, because TO THIS VERY DAY your organization has done NOTHING to condemn or prevent continued violence against Israel or the US because of the intolerance your faith has of our culture.

You were wronged, and that angers me. But don't whine about that the worst moment of your life. Islam and Western Culture seem to be similar in that it's always "me, me, me!"

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Cat's out of the bag...

I've always had a weird intellectual crush on her.

I dislike her politics, I loathe her husband, and she's not exactly babe-ilicious.

I like smart women. I like women with a sense of humor. I like women who like football.

You have to admit she's pretty darn smart, and must have a sense of humor (considering who she's married to). If she was wearing a Bears sweatshirt, I'd leave my family.

If you want babe-ilicious, here you go:

I don't know if she's smart, and if she gave me the time of day, I'd call that a sense of humor.

I'd give up football for her. College football, anyway.

T-t-t-talkin' 'bout Draft Registration*

As much as I've lost faith in the current administration, I haven't gone completely lefty.

Back in 2004, one of the Democratic drumbeats was that the Republicans would reinstate the draft to shore up weakening Reserve and Active Duty numbers. This was viewed as a scare tactic (and believe me, as a Republican, I know a scare tactic when I see one) by the left to attract not only young voters, but also the parent of young voters and solidify the anti-war vote.
As we all now (even the Democrats), this was empty campaign rhetoric. Not even we Republicans thought reinstating the draft would be a good idea. If President Bush would have campaigned to reinstate the draft, I would have voted for Nader (sorry, never Kerry...we all know why, right?).

Yesterday, Representative Charles B Rangel (Dem-NY) reiterated his desire to reinstate the draft, if even for the 'back into it' logic that it would lead public sentiment against the war.

How effin' dumb do you think we are, anyway?


Speaking of young voters, the two precincts that serve the Northern Illinois University campus (in the heart of Flyover IL) had approximately 11 percent registered voter turnout. This is laughable if only because these kids are the first ones to skip class to to attend a peace rally, especially if it involves a keg.

Don't get me wrong, I skipped a lot of classes and drank a LOT of beer. But I voted.

*When I was a senior in high school, registration for Selective Service started back up (thanks, Jimmy Carter) and I penned a little ditty sung to the tune of "My Generation" by The Who. This was before I became a Who fan. Through a small loophole in the law, I wasn't actually required to register, but I did anyway, because all my friends had to and it was only fair that I joined them in Iran to free the hostages.

Which reminds me, if we had only paved Iran back in 1979-80 like we should have, we wouldn't be mired in this shit now.

No, really, I prefer peace to war. Sadly, life is a lot like hockey, and sometimes you just have to drop the gloves.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Judgement Day?

According to a headline at, we're counting down to Judgement Day.

While that may be true (every day draws us closer, sadly) I was surprised that ESPN would be reporting on it. I'm not afraid of the rapture, but I was hoping I'd get the chance to learn the mandolin before the end of the world.

Fortunately, ESPN was talking about the Michigan vs. Ohio State game. Whew!!

When I was 11, that game was played to a 10-10 tie, which also created a tie for the Big 10 championship and Ohio State was magically awarded the right to play in the Rose Bowl. I was living in Indiana at the time and while I didn't have bragging rights for either team, I always liked Michigan better than Ohio State. I thought wolverines were cooler than buckeyes, or something like that.

So tomorrow, the two teams face each other again, both undefeated, in what will be a wonderful college football game. As much as I love the NFL, I love college football more.

Judgement Day comes at different times for those of different faiths. For many, it is tomorrow. For me, it's next Friday, when my beloved Aggies take on the Longhorns. At least we have a shot this year. My pathologic devotion to Texas A&M may be discussed later.

2:43 PM Out of respect for Chris over at Dangerous Logic (a much better blog than this one will ever be), I am not going to make any comments about it being judgement day for Bo. In spite of his ill-fated turn with the Detroit Tigers, I always thought that Bo Schembechler was a hell of a leader, and in the team photo of great football coaches. Woody Hayes is not in that photo.

Coach Schembechler is not really gone, he just got better seats for the game tomorrow.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Where's the turkey?

It's a good thing we're not hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year.

I don't know if it is because it falls early this year or what, but I am not in the holiday mood. Oh sure, I have lots to be thankful for. But the holiday is just not in the air yet.

We've been so darn busy (a product of our own design, sadly) that it's hard to catch one's breath and see what's going on. Work, city council, choir, Lions Club. My wife has work, various church councils that she watches over, bible study, library work, ladies' nights, bunco. She gave notice last night to the librarian, and the librarian asked if she could find her own replacement. It's not like my wife is an employee, she is an independent contractor doing the finances.

Anyway, something has to give. I'm not sure what needs to go. I can trim back my choir practice commitment and just show up on Sunday mornings. I don't want to quit the Lions, although I've scaled back on my involvement to the point that I go to every other meeting and don't take part in most of the projects. I'm sticking with City Council, although if I lose re-election next Spring, I won't shed any tears.

I barely have enough to time to sit around and be lazy. How I long for those days!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

If it can get any worse...

I don't know what kind of people enlist in today's Armed Forces.

I do know, however, that if 4 Iraqi soldiers raped and killed a 14 year old American girl and killed her family to cover up the crime, Americans would go ape-shit if even one of them got a reduced sentence for pleading guilty.

Specialist James P Barker pleaded guilty today and will testify against his co-rapist buddies in order to avoid the death penalty. Brave soul, James. Asshole.

I support our troops. I don't support rapists. I especially don't support child rapists. All four of these guys deserve to swing from a rope. There is absolutely no such thing as a mitigating circumstance in this issue. They planned it, they executed it, and they tried to cover it up.
How is it that we keep on being the bad guys here?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Chin(s) up, Britney

I'm here for you, girl.

It was about time you dumped that gold-diggin SOB, and I hope your pre-nup screws him but good.

Now, take my advice: Lay low for awhile. Don't rush to get involved with another guy. You've got two kids to take care of, and they are your priority.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote the Rock

I got to our local polling place at 6am and performed my duty (as we all should).

Voting in 2006 is like changing a dirty diaper. It is not a joyous experience, but it has to be done.

I took my ballot into the booth, flipped a coin, said a prayer, held my nose, and voted for the evil of two lessers.

For the statewide offices, I voted for as many Democrats as Republicans. I am NON-PARTISAN MAN!!

I was tempted to go the 3rd party route for governor, you know, as a 'protest vote'. And the winner of the race would look at all the 'protest votes' and say "Gosh, I better get my act together and behave and do what the voters are telling me because look at how many don't like the process".

Sure they do. And monkeys fly out of my ass.

Which reminds of a strange dream I had the other night.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Florida bound

The kids have a 4 1/2 day weekend starting at noon today, so we're off to Florida to take advantage of small crowds at Disneyworld. I need to leave the office in 45 minutes so I can get home to load the car and get some lunch into the kids before we leave. So instead of working, I'm taking time to do a quick blog...just in case there's some sort of calamity and this turns out to be my last entry!

The best thing about being out of town this weekend is that I won't have to sit through all of the terrible political ads that are beseiging us. If I have to see Gov Blogo's bad haircut one more time, I'll claw my eyes out. Likewise Judy Baar-Topinka's dyed helmet of hair.

Just a quick note for Rod...raiding the state pension fund to the tune of $3 billion does not 'balance the budget'. Cute wife, though, I'll give you that. Like the rest of us, you married up.

Tomorrow is my 44th birthday (no need to send along wishes), and I'm looking forward to spending it with Mickey Mouse. For whatever reason, I seem to enjoy the Disney experience, even that special machine that shakes the last dime out of my pockets as I leave.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Foot in mouth...

I actually understood where John Kerry was trying to go with his "joke". And, had he delivered the "joke" properly, it would have been a very effective cheap shot.

As King of the Cheap Shots, I know a good one when I hear one.

I can't defend President Bush's terrible performances when it comes to speaking off the cuff. The man just can't do it.

John Kerry should know this: Standup Comics spend hours practicing jokes before actually delivering them. Keep your day job...or don't.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Couple of Thoughts

A couple of things to round out the week.

One of the 'popular science' news stories came out this week saying that CT scans can detect lung cancer early enough to treat more effectively. Lots of facts and figures given, and then the reporter makes a statement that for prospective patients, CT scans are too expensive and they would not be able to have cancer diagnosed as soon as someone who can afford CT scans.

1) In the aftermath of my wife's health issues last year, her doctor remarked that an MRI would be more effective than a mammogram to diagnose tumors or cysts in her type of dense breast tissue. Our insurance would not cover MRI's for this purpose, so although we are not poor, it would be cost prohibitive to have an annual MRI.

2) Smokers are the first to point out that non-smokers get lung cancer, too. And they do. But if a two pack a day smoker can spend upwards of $4000 on their habit each year, they can afford a CT scan.

The state of Illinois is kicking around a ban on smoking in 'public places'. As much as I abhor smoking, I'm not sure this is the right way to go. Where do we drawn the line?

The Bush Administration (I voted for him twice, so I can complain) has decided that "Stay the Course" is no longer the best slogan to describe our policy in Iraq. The policy hasn't changed, we just need a better slogan. My faith in the administration is not very strong anymore. My patroitism is strong, my support of our troops is strong, I put the flag out whenever possible. It's the administration I have a problem with.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Too old for this...

We went to see Sister Hazel at the House of Blues last night.

The band was good and the venue is awesome...very intimate and condusive to the experience.

I'm not that familiar with the Sister Hazel catalog, I know the hits, and that's about all. The band has been around for quite awhile, and their Chicago fans are very devoted. Their new CD came out about a week ago, and the fans were already singing along with the new songs.

They played very well, and really enjoyed entertaining us. It was a 90 minute show, which was just enough for the general standing room configuration. We walked to and from the train station, and got home about 2:15am. The kids (and the dog) spent the night at the grandparents, so we did not have to rush home, or rush to wake up. Still, I'm very sleepy today.

I challenged Jill and Wendy to find 20 people older than me (43 years, 11.5 months) at the show. They found about 10. It was an 'over 21' show, and most of the audience was in their early 30's.

Before the show, we went to Rockit Bar & Grill, a very hip place...too hip for me. There was a video company there last night, shooting footage for some sort of dating reality show.

Have I mentioned that I'm 43 years, 11 and a half months old?

I love my wife very much and think she is pretty darn hot. Heck, I even think Wendy is pretty hot, too. Still, it seemed that every other woman there was 25 years old and had boobs o'plenty.

As I recall, when I was 25 women did not have large breasts. Is it all the hormones in cow's milk, or what?

I also bought a round of drinks (2 Crowns and 2 'Slippery Nipples') for $35.

In 1984, I bought pitchers of Busch beer for $2.25 on Thursday nights at The Regulator in Macomb, IL. Fucking PITCHERS!! Of course it was awful, but it was $2.25!! Hell, I'd been drinking Rheinlander for the first 9 weeks of the term, and Busch was like champagne!

I am looking forward to buying a bottle of Crown Royal, a bottle of Bailey's, and a bottle of Butterscotch Schnapps so Tom, Wendy, Jill and I can drink all we can stand for $35.00

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Courage, love and faith

From the Associated Press:

Two of the survivors of the shooting told their parents that 13-year-old Marian Fisher, one of the slain girls, asked to be shot first, apparently hoping the younger girls would be let go, according to Leroy Zook, an Amish dairy farmer.

"Shoot me and leave the other ones loose," Marian has been quoted as saying, Zook said. His daughter, Emma Mae Zook, was the teacher who ran from the schoolhouse to a farm to summon police.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Real Courage, Real Forgiveness

Pay attention to what's happening in Pennsylvania.

The Amish families of the children who were murdered this week have been receiving donations and pledges.

They have asked that the wife and children of the murderer receive donations as well.

As news stories emerge about what happened that day, we will learn about true courage and true faith.

We can learn from these peaceful people if we would only pay attention.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Speaker Handwringing

It's a month to election day.

Prior to redistricting, we lived in Denny Hastert's district. He helped our town get significant federal funds for our wastewater treatment expansion. He's supposed to do that.

I'm Republican by default, however, I'll always vote for the best candidate regardless of party. Denny hasn't helped his image in the last 9 months, but I would recommend voting for him.

He did the right thing today (sorta), by 'taking responsibility' in the Foley Fuck-up. (Yes, I'm coining that phrase). He should stop spouting conspiracy theories, however. Foley is not a good man, period, paragraph, end of story. He got himself into this trouble, and whoever 'leaked' or ratted him out is of secondary importance.

The entire 'taking responsibility' thing is a joke. What I'd like to see is fewer assholes getting elected to congress.

Which is why I'm not running.

If the people in his district don't want him to be Speaker of the House, vote for the other guy.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Is it me?

Sure, I've been in a bit of a funk for the last 2 months, but I've come to the conclusion over the last 10 days that we all live at the whim of the sick assholes who take things so personally, so seriously, that they feel the need to hurt and destroy the innocent people around them.

This is a terrible world-view to have (mine, I mean).

So if you are one of those sick, twisted, completely fucked-up people out there, would you do me a favor and kill yourself first before you walk into a school or plant a roadside bomb?

I'd normally reach out and try to help you, but I have a million other things going on right now.

Do I need to send my daughter to school with a gun just to protect herself from some crazy-ass moron who got mocked by the cute cheerleaders because he was a loser? What's the sense of that? She's only 10, and I doubt she'd be able to get a shot off in time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It's Y'all, You All

During the 2nd quarter of MNF, the cameras panned the sidelines showing many of the signs and banners expressing New Orleans fans’ gratitude for the re-opening of the Super Dome. The NFL provided much of the $185 million to renovate and repair the facility.

One sign demonstrated the need for schools to re-open as well:

Thanks to the NFL
Thanks to ESPN
Thanks Ya’ll

Any good redneck knows that it’s spelled y’all, not ya’ll.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Some advice for the Pope

You can't open a dialogue with a group that isn't interested in the concept of dialogue.

I'm the first guy to take a shot at those of my faith that expound extremism; you don't have to look to far in my archives to see that.

This is a serious question posed to all my Islamic pals: Why is it that you take such offense at the extreme words of others, yet won't denounce the extreme actions of those who supposedly practice your peace-loving faith?

Swords and bombs can hurt my bones, but words can never hurt me.

Before you swear to kill all Christians, just remember, there are more of us than you, and our traditional practice of picking and choosing our beliefs allow us to ignore "Thou shall not kill" long enough to take care of business.

We're trying hard not to 'judge' your religious beliefs. However, if you get any more annoying, you will feel the wrath of our Old Testament roots. We'll feel bad about it later.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I'm not a Fetish Guy, but

I'm one of those sappy guys who thinks a prenatal glow is attractive on a woman. I'm not bothered by the extra pounds or the swollen abdomen.

Don't send me links to those websites, either.

Note to K-Fed

Hey, dude, how about wearing a condom? How many kids do you need, anyway?

And swallow the birth control pills, you don't insert them.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2006

I imagine that many here in the blogosphere are sitting down today, trying to compose some sort of meaningful message looking back on how our world has changed in the last 5 years.

I don't think you'll find that here.

I'm the guy who remarked as the second tower crumbled to the ground, "Looks like the John Hancock building just moved up two spots in the 'Worlds Tallest Building' category."

What else could be said?

Hindsight is 20/20.

At that moment, we had no idea who was behind the attacks and we had no idea when planes would stop crashing. My home is 30 miles due east of a large nuclear plant. I was trying to coordinate an "escape plan" with my wife just in case we had to snatch my daughter out of school and head north (or south) to a safer place. I was trying to track down a good friend of mine who worked near the WTC; and the husband of another good friend was stuck in the Pentagon and I was trying to hold her hand long distance as she waited for terrible news (Thankfully, everyone was safe).

I cope by being a smart-ass. That's why you are here.

I'm also known for being an optimistic realist.

I marvel at how the buildings were evacuated so that only a fraction of the intended victims were killed that day. Over 300 NY Firefighters died during the evacuation. Many others are now facing a terrible pulmonary illnesses as the price for their heroism.

I think of the passengers of United 93.

Our country has become very divided in the last 3 years, and this is sad. When you think about what it means to be an American, we should remember United 93. That is what being an American is all about. That is the spirit that our enemies hate in us.

I think it is right that we are divided. That sounds odd, yet it is uniquely American that we are able to argue both sides of an issue. We all want the same thing: Peace. The question we face is how do we want to achieve it and what is the price we are willing to pay.

The people on United 93 knew what it was going to cost. A split-second decision was required, and there was no looking back.

Our initial response to 9-11 was good. But then, politics got in the way.

Lets remember the passengers on United 93. Lets remember the courage and sense of duty of the FDNY. Their valor doesn't mean we need to stay in Iraq. It just means we need to focus on what exactly it is we want, and then move forward. Changing goals and objectives just gets in the way.

Maybe it's time to isolate. Maybe it's time to let someone else shoulder the load. We know that we are a powerful nation. There's no need to to prove it to anyone else. We know it.

Blah blah blah.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Snakes on a Plane, Trains and Automobiles

I had an 8 a.m. jobsite meeting at St Bernard Hospital on the southside today. With road construction, there is no feasible way to go from my home to this location in a manner to arrive at 8:00. If I left at 5:00, I would arrive by 7:00. If I left at 6:00. I'd get there around 9:30.

So I did the 'smart' thing...I took the CTA from Cumberland (2 stops from O'Hare), transferred downtown and got off at 63rd Street, and made it to the hospital by 8:10. St Bernard is located at 64th and Yale, and serves the Englewood Neighborhood. Although I was woefully out of place in this area (based on my skin color), I was comfortable and confident. I get along with everyone.

The meeting went well, and I got on a northbound L train around 9:00. I sat in front of a man and woman who were discussing various things. The man saw the movie "Snakes on a Plane" yesterday.

Woman: How was that movie?

Man: It was (cool).

Woman: What about all those snakes?

Man: I had no idea there would be so many snakes. I knew the movie was called "Snakes on a Plane", but I didn't know there were going to be lots of snakes on that airplane. It was (very) cool.

I have no desire to see "Snakes on a Plane". I don't think 2 hours of watching snakes scare the shit out of people is entertaining. I know that a lot of people have seen it, and they agree that it is (very) cool.

But how can you live in America and not know what this movie was about? It's called "Snakes on a Plane" for gosh sakes!

How is it that I'm plugged into Pop Culture more than that guy? I mean, he was (very) cool!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Who'll Stop the Rain?

Is it over yet? Katrina?

As if the original storm and subsequent levee break weren't enough, local Chicago media (TV, Radio and Newspapers) pushed their "One Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina" coverage over the edge.

Lots of self-back-patting "Here's how the City of Big Shoulders came to the rescue of the victims of that terrible storm". Lots of finger-pointing.

Yet even after a year, no one has the cajones to say that Ray Nagin is a complete ass.

Which he is.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

You Didn't See This Coming?

The John Mark Karr story was fishy from the start.

Let's see....You've been arrested in Thailand (where the prisons are not very charming) and you need a foolproof escape plan.

You are a complete pervert kook obsessed with the Ramsey and Klaas cases.

You need to get the hell out of Dodge, so you admit to the Ramsey killing, even though you were never in Colorado during any Xmas in the '90's.

Voila! Lots of face time on international media, business class trip to LA, then on to Boulder, where you know that you won't be charged because you didn't do the crime!

What we need here is a little "Jailhouse Justice*", if you know what I mean.

Next prediction, Karr contests extradition to California to face his child porn charges.

* I'm pitching "Jailhouse Justice" as a Reality TV Show for the new CW Network.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Freedom's just another word

I've listened to a lot of songs in my life, and I take my lyrics very seriously.

The single greatest line written in the last 75 years is from Kris Kristofferson:

"But I'd trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday"

When delivered by a tortured Janis Joplin, it always brings a tear to my eye.

Yes, a New Post!

To the folks who make up the 30-34 hits to this blog every week, sorry that I’ve been lazy.

Well, not actually lazy.

My Father spent 4 days in the hospital*, lost his gas/electric due to non-payment of the bills**, and I frankly had to threaten him with something worse than bodily harm if he didn’t return to Illinois with me. The days of dignity and empowerment are over. There were a lot of tears shed, but strangely, none of them were mine. He has squandered every chance we gave him, and squandered all the money that was being sent to him*** to prop him up. That is water under the bridge. Today is a new day.

So he’s here, and Stage One of the Three Stage Program to save his life has been completed.

It took six months to reach Stage One, but here we are. I slept very soundly last night knowing I would never have to drop everything and drive to Indiana EVER AGAIN. I’ll go back one more time to pack up his home, but that will be on my schedule.

Stages Two and Three will be complete in 60 days. We’re on the clock, and it will be fun. If the house doesn’t sell by then, the bank can have it. And all the credit card companies can go to hell.

When it comes to crisis management, I’d like to think that I’m somewhat better than FEMA.

Because he hasn’t taken any of his medicine(s), he suffered adrenal shock, his heart is messed up and he also suffered a minor stroke because he wouldn’t get out of bed for 2 weeks.****

**Yet, miraculously, he thought he had enough money to re-subscribe to Direct TV.

*** It appears that he was supporting my brother’s gambling addiction in hopes of parlaying a big win into big cash to pay all his bills.

****During this 2 week stretch, my brother couldn’t make the effort to help him in anyway, and it was only when my Dad seem to go into a coma, “Fredo” decided that they should go to the ER.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Yates "Not Guilty"

There is justice, after all.

Yes, Andrea Yates killed her children. For that, she will answer to a higher power.

There were extreme circumstances that led her to kill her children. For that, she needs special help.

I hope she will get the help she needs. She needs to recover from the emotional abuse heaped on her by her husband that led her to do such a heinous thing. And once she gets that help, she'll need help to be able to live each day knowing she did it.

She won't be skipping around the institution singing "I got away with it!". She will be grieving every day, wondering how she could have killed her babies.

Strapping her to a gurney doesn't help anyone.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Three Resilients

Another photo of Sunset Crater. Notice how these few trees have thrived on the barren hillside.

I've named the three trees in the center of the photo "Jay, Karmen, and Wade".

I'm going to make a large print of this photo, frame it, and give a copy to my sister Karmen.

She'll get it.

D as is Tao

This photo is from our Arizona trip. This is Sunset Crater, which was a volcano. The crater is on the top of the hill. This is probably as close as you can get to it anymore; public access to the top ended about 30 years ago due to excessive erosion caused by the trails made by hikers.

I studied Taoism while in college and it influences me even now. I composed this photo in the Taoist tradition. If you look closely at the bottom of the photo, you’ll see my kids. One of the many ideas found on the Taoist path is that in the grand scheme of life, our existence is insignificant when compared to the beauty that God created.

In-Dependents Day

For the last four years, we’ve spent the evening of July 4th driving to DeKalb to watch their fireworks display.  It’s held in Hopkins Park, and draws lots of people.  For that reason, we park at a shopping center nearby and set up lawn chairs and blankets.  It’s not that I’m agoraphobic (well, actually I am); it ‘s just easier to avoid the traffic snarl from hell that follows the show.

My July 4th’s are usually filled with working around the house.  This year was no exception.  Since the time we moved in 14 months ago, my garage has been a shambles.  I attempted to organize it once, when I built new shelving and moved everything from the left side to the right side.  Yet, it never fails that other people’s “shit” gets tossed willy-nilly onto my organized shelving.  Sadly, most of it is my shit, and I am the most guilty of grabbing a tool and then putting it back wherever I find an open space as opposed to putting it back where it belongs.

I started the massive reorganization just before 9:00 a.m., and finished just before 4:00 p.m.  This was a messy garage.  I then mowed the lawn and grilled burgers for our Independence Day dinner.  As we approach departure time for fireworks, I feel the dread in my soul.  I truly dislike crowds.  I’d rather stay home, drink a few beers, and enjoy watching the fireflies in my backyard.  But because I’m working on providing the idyllic life for my children, we go see the fireworks.

Lately, my kids have noticed that we keep them on a shorter leash than other kids.  Our oldest has challenged us on this, and my response is usually a form of “just because Bobby Jo gets to play in the street doesn’t mean you get to.  Some parents don’t make the best choices for their kids, and you have to follow our rules.”   If I were 10 years old, I would probably think this is a bogus answer.  And it is.  

Sometimes you need pictures to go with the words in order to get your kids to understand what you are talking about.

As we were waiting for the fireworks to begin, I noticed that a family shooting off Roman Candles down the way.  It appeared to be a father and mother and a little boy, perhaps all of 4 years old.  I pointed out to my kids that 1) Roman Candles are illegal in our state, 2) shooting off Roman Candles in a public place without access to water or first aid is a foolish thing to do, and 3) even though we were not experiencing drought conditions, a fire could start that would threaten many of the people who were sitting nearby.

As the fireworks begin, the family was still shooting off the Roman candles.  Looking down the street, I saw that the little boy was holding the Roman candle.  Now I know that this is common behavior for adults, and although I’ve never done it (I’m a sissy), I have even witnessed young men have “fire fights” with Roman candles; actually pointing them at each other in some sort of Darwinian contest of Natural Selection.  Because this is 2006, it never occurred to me that anyone would allow a 4-year-old child to hold a Roman candle while it was going off.

I nudged my two kids and pointed out this stupidity.  I said, “Think what could go wrong here.  The little boy could decide to look into the end of the Roman candle and lose one or both eyes, or he could point it at his Dad and badly burn him.  Some parents make bad choices for their kids.  Do you understand what I’m talking about?”

Thankfully, both my kids are smart.  My son asked my what would happen if the Roman candle went off in the little boy’s face.  I told him that he would have to go the hospital, that his face may be scarred for life, and he might never be able to see again.  He asked what would happen to the boy’s father.  I told him that he would eventually go to jail, but not before Uncle Dale and I ran down there and beat the tar out of him.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Many a True Word Said in Jest...

The confession that John Evander Couey made to detectives that he kidnapped, raped, and then buried Jessica Lunsford alive has been tossed out by the judge in the case.

His confession came after he requested a lawyer, but wasn’t provided with one.

There is ample evidence against Couey. I have every hope that he will be convicted and sentenced to death for this heinous crime.

But if for some reason he is found not guilty and set free, I will make it my life’s mission to abduct him and either bury him alive or drown him.

I’m accepting applications for helpers. No experience required. Must be willing to serve jail time or accept the death penalty. I had previously offered to loan Jessica’s father the money to by a gun. Perhaps he has some buddies who’d like to help.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Vacation Hotels

We spent a week in Arizona in early June.  We saw the Grand Canyon and many of the sights of Northern Arizona.

We like to stay in hotels.  We really like nice hotels.  We stayed in 5 hotels over 7 nights, and here is my Hotel Review:

Night 1:  The Homewood Inn and Suites in Scottsdale AZ.  We enjoy suite hotels because it allows us to put the kids to bed at a regular hour and still be able to stay up and relax, plan the next day, and just generally unwind.  This hotel was clean, the staff was friendly, and the free breakfast was very good.  The outdoor pool needed to be “de-leafed”, as it is surrounded by many trees, but otherwise it was very nice.  At $79, this was a great value and we would stay here again.

Night 2 & 3:  AmeriSuites in Flagstaff AZ.  The staff was great.  That being said, let’s be clear:  this hotel is not a suite hotel.  The rooms were larger than regular rooms, but there was no separate bedroom.  This causes problems because it’s more difficult to put the kids to sleep (unless I want to go to bed at 8:30).  The rooms were not very clean, the furniture was beat up, the common areas were the same.  The breakfast was above average, which is a plus.  Some type of youth group was booked on to our floor during both nights.  Instead of socializing in the lobby common area, they chose to have open door gatherings in all the rooms around ours.  We had to call the front desk both nights around 9:30 to ask them to quiet things down.  The pool was indoors, but the water was cold.  The hot tub was okay.  At $98 per night, we were hoping for more.

Night 4:  Holiday Inn Express at the Grand Canyon.  The first room we were assigned had evidently hosted a cigar party recently.  We moved to another no smoking room without problem.  You can’t have a lot of expectations with a Holiday Inn Express.  The room was cleaner than AmeriSuites.  The indoor pool was sufficiently warm.  Not a lot of frills.  The breakfast was okay, not stellar.  At $122, this was the most expensive hotel of the vacation.  The price was based on the location.  Even the Wendy’s was expensive.

Nights 5 & 6:  Hampton Inn and Suites Flagstaff AZ.  This hotel is located across the street from the AmeriSuites.  We booked a regular room.  The room was clean, large, and very comfortable.  The indoor pool had very warm water.  The breakfast was very good, and the staff was nice, too.  The lobby was great, and the hotel was one of our favorites.  The price was $114, but after spending $98 at AmeriSuites and hating it, I wished we would have spent the extra money for this hotel for nights 2 & 3.

Night 7:  Embassy Suites Biltmore in Phoenix AZ.  Hands down our favorite hotel.  Lavishly appointed with very nice rooms.  The outdoor pool was huge, surrounded on 3 sides by the hotel as if set in the bottom of a canyon.  Could have stayed there a week.  Because we had to leave at 4:30 am, we couldn’t enjoy the breakfast.  The living room part of the suite was gorgeous and bedroom was huge.  I am strongly considering going back there for a ‘getaway’ weekend with the wife (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). At $92, how can you go wrong?  Great staff.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Rawlings Guy

During our church softball tournament last year, my beloved Rawlings "Bill Madlock" infielders mitt finally gave up the ghost. I had it for over 20 years. It was a "hand me up" from my brother who had several gloves at the time.

My first glove was a Rawlings, given to me in 1968. I still have it. When I got it, I thought that I would never need another baseball glove. It seemed huge on my hand. I used it throughout my childhood, until I stopped playing organized ball at about the age of 13. I soaked it in "glovoleum" and it could practically field balls by itself. Today, the Rawlings label on the back of the glove worn away, and I can barely fit my hand inside.

I took the kids mitt shopping last night, hoping to find a decent glove for around $50. I did a little research prior to shopping, and saw a 13.5" Rawlings for about $40 online. I also saw that I could spend as much as $280 for a fancy glove. Much to my kids' chagrin, I spent over 30 minutes looking at mitts. I picked out a Rawlings that I thought would do the trick, a dark brown model made for softball. I tried on lots of gloves, wishing that my talent could justify a larger investment. There was a Nokona glove that was gorgeous. American made from american cows. The leather was thick and soft, and even though it was only 12" glove, I had to battle my better self not to drop $100 to buy it.

I know that most mitts, and especially the ones in my price range, are made overseas. I flinch at the thought of buying a baseball glove, the crucial equipment of America's Passtime, that is not made in America. Think about how I must feel about Mizuno equipment. Major Leaguers who use Mizuno gloves are evil. What, Rawlings or Wilson or Easton aren't good enough? Yet, those Mizuno mitts are very, very nice. Especially those over $125. I am a Rawlings Guy, darn it.

I then laid eyes on a glorious glove, a Louisville Slugger glove. Again, my sensibility is offended. How dare a bat company make a mitt? Stay with your own kind, batmaker! I gotta tell you though, it was a cool glove. The leather was soft, the pocket was deep, and it had two (count 'em, 2) adjustment straps. My hands and fingers are long, but I do not have large wrists. I am scrawny. The 2 straps let me strap that baby to my arm, becoming an extension of my hand. I could see myself drifting back on a deeply hit fly ball, reaching out, and making the game saving catch with this glove.

Decisions, decisions. I really had a crisis. Do I spur my beloved Rawlings brand for comfort and performance? But it's a RAWLINGS! They were the same price. I had a similar attack last year when I bought some Sonoma brand jeans at Kohls instead of buying my beloved Levi's. How to choose? My son would have "Eenie Meenie Minie Moe'd" the decision. I was dumbstruck.

As I handed the clerk my credit card, I told her that it was a tough decision. "I'm an old fart, I've always had a Rawlings mitt. I'm a Rawlings Guy", I told her.

She put the Louisville Slugger mitt in the bag and just smiled.

I better have a good year in the field. Although I can always blame it on having a new mitt.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Open Letter to Jerry Hairston, jr


Sorry it didn't work out here in Chicago. While we don't miss Sammy Sosa, you were still just a throw-in on a bad trade. Your desire to be an everyday player never matched your true ability on the field. I know you didn't want to be a "Major League Utility Guy", but let's face it; it's better than being a "Minor League Utility Guy" which is, in fact, what you are.

Here are some tips that I hope will help you as a Texas Ranger:

1. Learn to hit in situations. Any situation would be fine. As a Cub, I could always count on you to move the runner over on a 6-3 fielder's choice with one out. Sadly, I really needed you to get a base hit so the runner could make it to third base, allowing him to score on a sacrifice fly (or more likely, be stranded as the next two Cub hitters go down on strikes).

2. Learn to field one position. Most Utility Guys can field at least one position REALLY WELL. You are more of a "jack of all trades, master of none" kind of fielder. You sort of play at 2nd base. You sort of play outfield. But you stink at both.

3. Learn to run the bases. Yes, I know, it's hard to run the bases when you get thrown out at first all the time. But in those rare circumstances when you actually reached base, I would win free drinks betting on you to get caught stealing or nailed at third trying to take that extra base. There's a time for speed, and if you ever get any, you'll know what I'm talking about.

4. Drop the jr, Junior. Yes, your father played (20 years ago) in the Majors, but no one confuses you with him. He was a good player. You suck. It's not hard to tell the difference. Also, whenever I hear "Jerry Hairston, Jr" it makes me think of your old man, who (although not a Hall of Famer) could hit for average, run the bases, and play a decent outfield. It depresses me when I hear your name. Think how he feels. Even Ed Begley dropped the "jr" after a while.

Hustle is all some of us have. But we play church softball, not Major League Baseball.

Good luck and continued mediocrity,

Jay Hansen
Waiting for next year since 1981

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Too Funny

I don't see a lot of movies, so I probably won't see The Da Vinci Code. I listened to the book on CD and enjoyed it very much.

As a Catholic, I wasn't offended, nor did I feel the need to renounce Catholicism, or doubt that Jesus was anything less than Man/God on Earth. I found it intriguing that Christ (as Man) may have married and procreated. The storyline is nothing new (as Dan Brown knows) and it's a neat discussion to have around the campfire half-gassed on Crown Royal.

I am very amused by all the 'boycott' talk by insecure Catholics and Christians.

I am even more amused by a report today noting that an Albino group is upset about the portrayal of Silas, the albino villain who commits several murders in the book. They say that albinos are caring people who do not participate in self-flagellation or murder.

Once again, lets remember: "This is a novel/movie. It is fiction. It is fiction. It is fiction".

Thank you.

Monday, May 15, 2006

For Mother's Day

My Father was born 1935 on a small dirt farm in northeastern Nebraska. It was not a successful farming operation like the ones his grandfathers had. There’s a story about how destitute the family was one winter when Grandad had to cut down the fence posts from a neighboring farm just to heat the shack. Instead of a well, water was from a cistern, which essentially a pit that collected rainwater. When my Dad was 10, he lifted the lid on the cistern and saw a dead rat floating on the surface. Terrified, he brought the news to Grandad, who said, “don’t worry about it, we’re pumpin’ from the bottom”. My Father recalls dust storms so bad that when you blew your nose, your handkerchief would be filled with mud. He once said if Nebraska had a DCFS back then, they would have taken him away from his parents.

My Dad started his first business at the age of 12. He wholesaled eggs. He would drive a wagon to farms throughout the area, buying eggs and then re-selling them to markets and stores. A few years later, Grandad gave up farming and moved the family to town. Grandma worked at a small grocery store, which she later purchased and ran until she retired. My Dad kept the egg business, and later worked for Grandad, who had started a trucking company. The family prospered, and even bought a TV in the early 50’s. Out in rural Nebraska, I have no idea how much programming was available to them.

At some point, my Father determined that the hard work of farming did not appeal to him. After he graduated from High School in 1952 (in a class of 16 or so), he was drafted into the Army, and spent two years in Germany. When he returned home, he got a job selling shoes in a nearby college town, met my mother (a coed), got married a few years later and managed a shoe department in Lincoln, then moving to St Louis in 1964. We owned a house there at first, then sold it at some point and rented houses. A millinery company hired my Dad in 1966, becoming a district manager. We got transferred a couple of times, living in Ft Wayne Indiana for eight years, Houston Texas for four years, finally moving to the Chicago area in 1981, when my Dad became the president of his company.

My Dad never went to college, and there was never any question that I would go. Actually, all four of his kids were expected to attend and graduate, but I was the only one to follow the program. I did it more for my parents than for me; this fact reflected by my disinterest for the first 3 years of a 4-½ year undergraduate career. It wasn’t until I started doing for myself that I excelled.

My Dad eventually bought his company, which he later sold (but stayed on to operate). When the parent company was eventually sold to Sears, he quit. No sooner did the ink dry on his resignation his health became to falter and he suffered from a brain tumor and then a heart attack within the next 12 months.

All this is background information to make the point that my Dad was a business genius. He was sharp, shrewd, and amazingly intelligent about retailing and merchandising. Had he stayed with Sears, he could have written his own ticket. He chose to walk away, and he and my mom moved back to Ft Wayne in 1989 and he is still in Northern Indiana widowed now these almost 6 years.

In the last 2 years, his health has betrayed him. More shockingly, though, is that his sharp mind is not there. He is in severe financial straits, and only because my beloved (yet ne’er –do-well) brother is living with him, he has a roof over his head.

Now the time has come for him to sell his home and find a new place to live. I had no idea that he was broke until a few months ago, and he refused to let me help him negotiate with his creditors. He had no money for medicine, and is about 4 beats too slow to respond to questions about just about anything.

Last week, he called me in a panic. American Express was threatening to take his home and car if he didn’t pay them $1,000. I may or may not have $1,000 sitting around, but I knew that I wouldn’t see it ever again if I didn’t make another push for him to sell his home and find more affordable housing.

I went to his home and called his creditors, starting with AmEX. It turns out that the call he got was from a collection agency, and it was the initial “send us the entire balance or we’ll have you killed” phone call. I properly reamed the collection guy and laid out the story….give us 4 months to sell the house, and we’ll settle the account. I understand that he was just doing his job, but it was MY Dad he was threatening, dammit.

My “old” Dad, the captain of industry, would have never allowed himself to get in such a situation. But my old Dad is gone. I miss him very much. The Dad I have now is simple-minded and frightened. He has to trust me to get him out of this jam, and I’ll do my best. Despite the fact that I worked my ass off to meet his expectations, I am not the child he goes to first. Rather, he goes to another sibling who instead of meeting the issues head on, just sends money to him, and then calls me and yells at me to fix the problem.

My Dad is listing his home for sale this Wednesday. He’ll sell it, and then he’ll move back to the Chicago area, near the rest of the kids. My brother will be hung out to dry, but he’s 36 and it’s time to grow up. I’m networking trying to find him a job. He has grown up quite a bit in the last 6 months, and I think he’d be a dependable worker. I can only fix one life at a time, I think.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. My Mom passed away 5 ½ years ago (yes, I could give you an exact number of days, but why bore you?). I do all this for her. She’d expect it, and she’d deserve it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

It depends on how you define 'convicted', I guess

Zack Moussaoui's mother in France was quoted yesterday as saying that she is crying because her son was 'wrongly convicted' in his trial for planning the 9/11 attacks.
Ma'am, he pleaded guilty. He admitted his involvement.

Are you upset that he received life imprisonment? As opposed to the Death Penalty?

Today, she said that he was being "buried alive". Too good for him, actually. Not because he was apart of scheme, but because he's so frickin' obnoxious.

By the way, as much as I am a blood-lusting, revenge-minded Christian, I am pleased he got life imprisonment.

I recently wrote to Artist James that it would have been neat to see him get sentenced to Stateville Prison in Illinois in the general population. Remember Jeffrey Dahmer?

Recently, a white supremacist serving 25 to life in Florence ADMAX (the prison Zack will be doing his time) committed suicide because he was depressed about his 23 hours-a-day incarceration. A 7 x 12 cell is bad enough, but the 12 inch TV would make me go crazy.

Zack, the first bedsheet is on me.

Now, shut your mouth and do your time. I've got 2019 in the death pool. You should live so long.

The Love of a Father

A Father’s Day note from Earl Woods to his son, Eldrick:

"You are my little man. You are my treasure. God gave you to me to nurture and to grow and to develop. I always have had your interests first and foremost in my life, and it always will be. In fact, you mean more to me than life itself. I can remember when I taught you it was OK to cry--that men can cry. It was not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. That was part of the education and the legacy that I wanted to leave with you, that sharing and caring for others is a way of life. And it is not taken lightly. I pass on all of my abilities to share and care to you. I realize that you have an infinite, higher capacity and capability to perpetuate this philosophy in our day's world. I trust that I have given you the guidance and love in which you can then execute that mission. What God has in mind for you, I don't know. It is not my call. It was my job to prepare you. I trust that I have done the best job that I can. I know you will give it your all. And that you will be my little man forever."

The letter was read on "Oprah" when Eldrick and Earl Woods were Winfrey's studio guests. And Eldrick “Tiger” Woods wept.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Satire R Us

I know what I do is illegal, but it’s justified by my desire to provide for my family.  It’s not my fault that it illegal.  I didn’t make the laws.

I’ve been breaking the law for years.  Everyone does it.  Why should I be arrested now?  My family will suffer tremendously if I am incarcerated or otherwise forced to leave them.  I’m just doing it to keep them housed, fed, and clothed.

Illegal Shoplifters have rights, too.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Another Fine Job

Rumsfeld is doing a “fine job” directing the war in Iraq.

Just like Brown was doing a “fine job” helping the victims of Hurrican Katrina.

“Fine job” is now my new code phrase for “very poor performance”

“Fine job on that roast tonight, honey”

“Fine job you’re doing raising your child, Mrs. Federline”.

"Don't worry, dad, your did a fine job raising me."

Another fine job on this posting, don't you think?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Memory Triggers

I paid my daily visit to and read her story about allowing her dog to enjoy the last few drops of ice cream out of a carton.

My wife and I have owned 2 dogs, the late great Lexie and our current pup, Lacey.  We are the kind of dog owners that don’t allow the dogs to be fed any people food.  This policy pays off by reducing all that begging that goes on when you are trying to eat dinner, or enjoy an evening snack, etc.  I know that other dog owners don’t share our views, and that is okay by me.  It’s your dog.

Lexie pre-dated our children.  She was our first dependent.  She came to us at a crucial point in our marriage, and I think she had a lot to do with our marriage getting through years 3-7.

We spoiled Lexie.  She was a lovely Sheltie, a bit large for the breed, but as high-strung as any other Sheltie.  She would bark at passersby, rotating ceiling fans, reflections on the ceiling, leaves blowing across the patio….  Yet, she was a very smart dog and gave me lots of tips at tax time each year.  Her favorite treat was something called “Frosty Paws”, which was a frozen, non-dairy treat made for dogs.  It came in a little sundae cup, which she would take from my hand and go to her special “treat spot” to enjoy.  We have several photos of her on each birthday, posed with a Frosty Paw with a candle in it.  We’d have some ice cream, and Lexie would have her Frosty Paw.

At some point, Lexie began suffering from various allergy-type symptoms.  She would lick her paws raw.  For a while, we would absorb all sorts of vet bills trying to find out what was wrong with her.  After our daughter was born and we decided to operate on one salary, we had to stop all the diagnostic testing and just try to keep her comfortable.  For a while, I tried shaving her down, thinking that she would be more comfortable with less fur.  It seemed to work for a while.

In the months before our son was born, Lexie was getting worse.  She was licking and gnawing at herself, and her behavior was turning also.  After our son was born, it became apparent that there was no way that we were going to be able to tend to a newborn and a dog who was not going to get better.  A decision was going to have to be made.

I always believed that the only time you should put a dog down was when it was very old, non-ambulatory, and incontinent.  When it hit that trifecta, it was time to go.  Lexie was almost 8 years old, she had another 6-8 years left.  But she was suffering.  Was it thyroid-related?  Our vets could never determine what was causing her “allergies”.

I won’t go into the details of our last trip to the vet.  The very thought of it brings tears, even now.  (Hope no one is walking by my cubicle.)   After reading dooce today, I recall that just before I took Lexie to the vet, I spooned some Breyers ice cream in a small bowl, set it down before here (I’m crying as I type this) and said, “Here’s what you’ve been missing”.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Putting the Indian in Indiana

I was in Second Grade in 1970-1971. It was my third school in three years. We lived in St Louis when I went to Kindergarten, and moved to Ft Wayne in the summer of ’69 (cue Bryan Adams) where we rented a house for a year while I went to first grade. We moved to a different rental house in ’70, which my parents eventually purchased and where we lived until 1977.

I was a very bright kid back in those days, before gifted programs. School was not terribly exciting for me. I knew how to read already, and I could to the basic math (I was not a math savant like my son). I remember telling my first grade teacher (Mrs. MacIntosh, bless her heart) that I just didn’t want to go to school anymore. I remember that during quiet time, I would go to the bookshelf to find the “L”encyclopedia that had the neatest entries about Robert E Lee and Abraham Lincoln. I loved the Civil war as a 7-year old. Man was going to the moon, and that’s what I was going to do on the way to being President of the United States. I loved reading about Presidents.

In second grade my teacher was Mrs. (Ruth) Cochran. I recall that she was 64 and very grandmotherly. As most teachers do, she would read from a book out loud to us almost daily. One of the first books she read was “Little Turtle, Miami Chief.” It didn’t say “Miami Chief” on the cover, so my first impression of the book, before she even opened it, was this was going to be a lame book about some turtle that talks and has adventures with life lessons along the way.

She started reading. The Miami Indians lived throughout the Midwest, including Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. One of their principle villages, Kekionga, was near the present site of Fort Wayne. Chief Little Turtle was one of their greatest and wisest War Chiefs. He was great because he killed a lot of his enemies so the Miamis could keep their land. He was wise because he knew that eventually the Indians would be defeated and when he saw that defeat was coming, he tried to convince the other chiefs to negotiate. He was ignored, and shortly later proved right.

He was cool because he adopted a 12-year old white boy, William Wells, who he loved very much but later allowed to re-join the Whites.

After defeat at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, Little Turtle helped to negotiate a treaty between the United States and the Indian nations. It was considered a good deal for the Indians. And we all know what happened to any treaty the favored the Indians.

This book entranced me. I imagined that the Indians must have lived in my very neighborhood. I would convince my pals to explore the woods that were near our homes, looking for artifacts and maybe even an old Indian who didn’t know that civilization had come to his land.

Thankfully, our school library had lots of local history books. I learned about Frances Slocum (who my First Grade school was named after), who was abducted by the Indians as a youth and as an old woman declined to return to her family after they found her. I learned that William Wells, the beloved adopted son of Little Turtle, was killed at the Fort Dearborn Massacre just weeks after Little Turtle passed away. Wells was killed by Indians while trying to escort white settlers out of the fort, and had fought so ferociously that when finally vanquished, the Indians who slew him cut out his heart and gave slices of it to warriors to eat, hoping that his courage, bravery, and skill as a warrior would be transferred to them. I learned this at age 8.

I would find out about many Indian battles. I never thought about who was right and who was wrong. I understood that the Miamis had to kill settlers and soldiers to keep their land. And I understood the Americans sometimes and to kill Indians to get the land they thought they deserved.

Mrs. Cochran was my favorite teacher. No one (until Steven Smith at A&M) turned on the lights for me like she did. This was back in the days when a teacher could take students out for supper, one or two at a time, and get to know them. Mrs. Cochran took me twice, once on a weeknight with another student, and once on a Saturday, just me. She took me to lots of the battle sites around Fort Wayne. She showed me the place where the Maumee River emerges from the St Joe and the St Mary’s, where Little Turtle won a battle in which the bodies of the dead created a bridge across the river. She took me to Little Turtle’s grave. It was right between a couple of houses in an older part of Ft Wayne. This was before “Historic Fort Wayne” was rebuilt in the late 1970’s. This was before Little Turtle’s gravesite was cleaned up and turned into a park area.

To this day I can’t pass an historical marker on the side of the road and not think of her.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried to find a copy of “Little Turtle, Miami Chief” online. It is long out of print. But thanks to the power of the Internet, I found a copy on Amazon and ordered it. It arrived last week, and now I’m reading it to my son. When I told him that I wanted to read a book about Little Turtle, he expressed the same skepticism that I did 36 years ago. What could be interesting about a little turtle? For the last week, he has found out.

Thanks, Ruth. Thanks for turning the lights on for me. The Social Security Death Index tells me you passed away about 10 years ago, but your memory and love of books lives on.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Rusty Remarries!

(AP-Houston) Rusty Yates married Laura Arnold, 41, during a private ceremony Saturday at the church where they met.

The church minister said Yates chose to move on with his life while resisting temptation to pity himself.

Congratulations to the newlyweds. I hope Laura enjoys the isolation and control as much as Andrea did.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Reaching Out...Part 1 1/2

An update.

Nita has removed herself from the WIU Alumni Directory, and is no longer listed in Yahoo! White Pages.

I’m really hoping this isn’t my fault.

It was not a creepy letter.

And no, I’m not stalking her.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lent me, baby!

I gave up Diet Coke for Lent. Yes, it’s a little extreme. My Diet Coke consumption averaged about 4 gallons a week, or about 42 twelve-ounce cans, or 25 twenty-ounce bottles. My devotion to Diet Coke is famous, almost notorious.

There was no over-arching spiritual reason for giving up Diet Coke. I heard that a relative’s chiropractor suggested that aspartame was contributing to her back pain. Now, everyone has opinions about chiropractors. I happen to believe and respect them a little more than I believe and respect L. Ron Hubbard; which is to say, it’s a nice way to earn a living, but no thank you.

Still, I’ve been suffering from back pain for many years, and lately it is a lot worse. Conventional Medicine (CM) has diagnosed the problem to some extent, but is unable to find a solution to managing the pain. In other words I’ve been told to just “buck up”. The long-term solution to my back pain is to strengthen my abdominal muscles, which involves exercise. My fitness trainer sister says I should “engage my core”. I understand this. I’m not opposed to exercise. I need to make it a priority, and I’m sure to move it up on the list as soon as I stop hurting. In the meantime, if not drinking Diet Coke can help the pain go away, I’m willing to make that sacrifice.

It’s been two weeks, and other than a mild headache after Day 2 (relieved with Equate brand Headache pills -- a wonderful combination of caffeine, aspirin, and acetaminophen) I’ve had no ill effects. My craving for fizzy drinks has been resolved by drinking seltzer water. I bring a half-liter bottle to work, and then re-fill the bottle with bottled water throughout the day. I sleep better at night, and can probably focus a little bit better.

The only downside that I’ve found is that Mount Gay Rum does not taste so good with seltzer water. Their website suggests Tonic Water, but I’m not sure I would like that.

This has revealed something to me: I always thought it would be very difficult for me to quit Diet Coke, and it’s actually been quite easy. However, I always thought it would be easy for me to quit alcohol, and it hasn’t been as simple. If I do drink, it is on a weekend, and I’m don’t get ‘rip-roaring’, but when offered, I can’t say no.

The things we find out about ourselves

My back is still killing me, by the way. Each Friday night, I am in agony. Why it’s on Fridays, I don’t know. I can tell you this, three ibuprofen, three naproxen, three aspirin, and I feel a lot better. I’ll have liver failure, but I won’t be in pain.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Achilles' Heel

Living in the shadows of the things that might have been
Torn between the blessing and the curse
You may stop the hunger but you'll never slake the thirst
For the nectar you remember but you'll never taste again

Dan Fogelberg, from ” The Lion’s Share” on The Innocent Age album.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


If you want a piece of me, let me know.

Adrian, or may I call you Asshole for short, perhaps someday you will have a daughter. Then you might understand why everyone (with the exception of your asshole parents and your asshole friends) thinks you are a gaping asshole.

Just so we are clear, Asshole. After all, I wouldn't want you to ever feel victimized because you were charged with rape:

No girl or woman who is so drunk that she is vulnerable to having sex with 4 guys while being videotaped is ever "consenting". You were lucky this time to be found "not guilty". That doesn't make you innocent.

Where is your father? And why hasn't he kicked your ass yet?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Climate Psychology

In early December, when Northern Illini get their first serious snow (or, when we're most likely to get our first serious snow), we are quick to grab our snow shovels or fire up the snow-blowers and clear not only our driveways and sidewalks, but we also go an extra 20 feet or so and clear some of the neighbors sidewalks as well.

In March, when we get snow, our attitude changes. Looking down our street, I see that NONE of the neighbors (including me) has bothered to clear the 2 inches of late winter snow. Heck, it'll get up to 36 degrees today, let it melt!

I have a very long list of things I want to accomplish around the house (exterior projects), but all I can do is pace in front of the windows, because it is just too damn cold!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ten Years!

As much as I gushed over your brother yesterday, you remain my precious princess. You’ve inherited my smart-ass mouth, and it gets you in trouble with mom on just about a daily basis. On some level, I’m proud of that.

You are a great example to your brother. I give all the credit for his love of learning to you. You, too, love to read, and that is my greatest accomplishment as your father. I don’t know if I could give you a greater gift than the love of reading.

You remind me so much of my younger sister, so tall and lanky, and so beautiful. Your heart and spirit are even more beautiful. You are very thoughtful and concerned about the world around you. So much, in fact, that I find myself being mindful of what you see on the TV news each day. I try to help you make sense of all the bad things that happen, and reinforce the good that we are all capable of. You went with me to serve breakfast to the blind people last month, and I think you learned a lot about how fortunate you are, and how not having sight doesn’t seem to slow down these people. They cope, adjust, and succeed.

You are in a phase where you don’t seem to be interested in Girl Scouts or Cheerleading, or other group things. You want to stay home with Mom. I guess this is your adjustment to her going back to work…she’s home for you, but her focus isn’t completely on you like it used to be.

Now at age 10, you want to be a schoolteacher. I’m behind you completely. You love to learn, and you’ve taught your brother many things, including the “invisible elbow to the head” move that you have perfected. I can’t see it, but I know it happens. You can be very bossy and love to supervise. You will be a good wife to some lucky man some day (hopefully, after you are 40 years old, if I have anything to say about it!).

I am thankful that we have such a great relationship. I know that 5 years from now, you’ll hate my guts, but that will be temporary.

I still marvel how such a wonderful person could be the product of our love. I learn something from you every day, and look forward to tomorrow.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Connor-Bonnor Now 6!

Well, now you are six years old! You are, without question, the smartest six-year old boy I know. Your mind is screamingly fast. You have a deep sense of humor, if only to please your father. You devour Captain Underpants books, you even got the Big Melvin BM joke. You are awesome.

You are a thoughtful boy, too. You emptied your piggy bank to help Katrina victims. Although you like to tease, you get a little sensitive when someone returns the favor. You listen to what others say to you, and are concerned about how people think about you.

You don’t know this yet, but you are probably going to skip First Grade. It offers nothing for you. You won’t learn anything in First Grade. You already can do the math, you can already read, you write complete, complex sentences about both silly and serious things. You will miss your pals, but you will make new ones. I want you to do this, I need you to do this, because if you don’t, you will learn to hate school, you’ll be bored by school. I know what this is like. I know it will be a difficult transition, but I’ll support you.

Every night we read books that you bring home from school. I am thrilled that you are interested in so many things. We gave you the “Big Book of How and Why” for Valentine’s Day, and it is your Bible. You learned right away to look in the index for topics, and now you ask me for topics to look up. When was the first Comic Book published, anyway? You won’t leave the house without this book. I am so happy for you.

You are adjusting to Mom working. You get along with your older sister much better than I got along with mine.

A large part of you is just six years old. But in many ways, you are so much older.

You are a great son, and I am a truly fortunate father.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Yates Redux

I will have a lot to say about Andrea Yates as she is being re-tried for the deaths of her children.

Let me fire across the bow by asking if it is possible for Rusty Yates to be busted, cuffed, and called Shirley and tried as a co-defendant.

If anyone needs to do jail time for the deaths of those children, it's Rusty Yates.


Yates with a "Y".

Andrea needs help. Rusty needs a kick to the crotch.

I'll pay my own way to Houston to administer said kick.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Finally, a Regular Gig

One of the “reforms” our new priest has instituted is improving the liturgical music for Mass.  To that end, he has hired a Music Director, Paul by name, who has a Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance and whose “real job” is music teacher at a Catholic School.  Paul knows his liturgy, and for the first time in a real long time, our parish utilizes seasonal Mass Parts with regard to music.

In many parishes, Mass Parts such as the Kyrie, Gloria (G-L-O-R-I-A), Sanctus, and the Amen are either spoken or sung to the same melody week after week.  I think the reason for this is because it’s just easier to use the same melody instead of taking a few minutes for the parish to learn a different melody every 12 weeks or so. Our new practice of paying heed to the changes in the Mass Parts makes for a richer, more meaningful Mass; and the it the whole point of attending, right?

Being a former professional-musician wannabe myself, I would look over to the choir section of our church longingly, wondering if there was any place for my formerly-somewhat-formidable skills.  I felt some resistance from my wife, who would prefer that we all sit together in Mass as a family (and this is a valid point).  I kept my ambitions and desires in check, because, after all, I am Catholic.

In the course of practicing and practicing (or, as we former professional-musician wannabes call it, “rehearsing”) for a CD I am working on, I have all of my instruments on display in our office/den located off the living room.  On one of his “priestly visits” to watch a football game this fall, Father Tim noticed the three guitars, violin case, Honolulu Guitar Harp, etc and asked me why I wasn’t in the choir.  I deflected and parried, and pretty much just said that I wasn’t ready to do that just yet.

Last week, Paul, the Music Director, cornered my wife and told her that he heard that I played guitar, and really wanted to add a guitar to the 10:30 Mass.  Jill made some sort of excuse about me thinking that I wasn’t good enough to play (we will seek marriage counseling because of this comment – I may or may not be good enough to play, but I would never THINK I wasn’t good enough), but said if I were interested, I would talk to him.

So the following Sunday, Paul waved me over to confirm that I played guitar.  We had a five-minute discussion about my ability, and we both believed I could handle the music.  I gave him a brief verbal resume, (violin at 10, switched to tuba at 14 when we moved to a school district that did not have strings-thanks, Dad - guitar from 14-26 to either cope with adolescent loneliness or avoid college studying- sporadic playing since then, etc).  Paul is a great vocal teacher, and he says he can allay any concerns I have about my singing with some training and practice (rehearsal).

I attended my first choir practice (rehearsal) last night and was very happy.  I’ll practice (rehearse) my ass off for the next 3 days to get caught up, but come Sunday morning, I’ll play in front of a real live audience for the first time in 20 years.  For the longest time, I’ve been searching for an outlet, and now I’m getting plugged in!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Walking across the aisle

I'm on the verge of changing political affiliations, and it's all Al Franken's fault. I just need to reconcile/rationalize a few things. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Homage to Fogelburg: Home Free 1972

Home Free (1972)

To The Morning
More Than Ever
Be On Your Way
Hickory Grove
Long Way Home (Live In the Country)
Looking For A Lady
Anyway I Love You
The River

Dan Fogelberg - acoustic and electric guitars, piano, organ, Moog, vocals
Norbert Putnam - bass, cello
Kenny (Buffalo) Buttrey - drums, percussion, red & green
Weldon Myrick - pedal steel, dobro
Buddy Spicher - fiddle, viola
Farrell Morris - vibes, percussion
David Briggs - played piano on "More Than Ever" and "Anyway I Love You" and organ on "Long Way Home"
Glenn Spreen - String arrangements on "To The Morning" and "Wysteria"
Bill Purcell - String arrangements on "Hickory Grove"

After dropping out of the University of Illinois to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter, Fogelberg followed Irving Azoff to Los Angeles. Azoff shops a demo around to several labels, and Fogelberg eventually signs with John Hammond at Columbia Records. Hammond is building a stable of singer/songwriters that will include Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel.

Fogelberg goes to Nashville to record with Norbert Putnam. While working on his album, he works as a session guitarist and singer and the experience makes a profound influence on not only his musicianship, but his songwriting as well.

This record transcends anything that was being recorded in Nashville in 1972. The big hits coming out of Music City that year were “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” by Mac Davis, and probably “Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” by Donna Fargo.

“Home Free” opens with a lush, string-filled arrangement that leads into the sparse “To the Morning”, a piano-based song with a string arrangement that shores up the refrain.

This album was not going to be a typical Nashville-made record. But it was also ahead of the curve of anything coming out of LA, as well.

“Stars” follows “To the Morning”, continuing with the sparse arrangement style. Vocally, Fogelburg’s in the higher registers here, again, much different than what is being recorded next door. This may be a result of Fogelburg being a better vocalist than your typical Mac Davis type. Both songs are thematically introspective, which is in line with the singer-songwriter style of the day. “Stars” is more guitar-based, a basic acoustic style.

The next song heads straight to the edge of country. “More Than Ever” again features Fogelburg’s strong tenor, and his soon-to-be trademark harmonies are present as well. Lots of steel guitar, piano, and guitar on this song.

We head back to “singer-songwriter land” with “By on Your Way”, piano and synth shoring up this ‘break-up’ song. No trucks, dogs or trains here, though.

“Long Way Home (Live in the Country)” goes Nashville from a music standpoint, however lyrically, we have themes of the evil city and the idyllic country. Lots of fiddles and basic bluegrass instrumentation.

The mournful “Looking for a Lady” with its basic acoustic guitar and understated harmonies jumps us back to singer-songwriter land. We seem to be going from ditch to ditch with no middle ground. There are all good songs, but thematically, I’m not sure what was being accomplished.

No sooner do we go from small (guitar, vocals) then we go to large (fiddle and steel guitars) with “Anyway I Love You”, a cute little jaunt back down the country lane. Fogelburg is up to this vocally and lyrically. And now that you are in that sweet country groove, we go back to…

“Wysteria”, a brooding study of a psycho-chick. Well, that’s a bit heavy-handed, but it features classical guitar, strings (not fiddles) and keyboards with a haunting melody featuring the full range of Fogelburg’s voice.

The leads us to the last cut, and it seems that we have one of these songs in every Fogelberg album…the extended story-song that features movements and solos and all that neat stuff that every extremely talented singer-songwriter must have on at least one song on the album. “The River” has dark lyrics and musical theme that is well served by Fogelburg’s vocals. No fiddles here, just piano, guitar, bass, and perhaps some strings hinting in the background.

This is a nice song, heck, they are all nice songs, but you kind of get the impression that Norbert Putnam wasn’t sure which direction he wanted to go with Fogelburg. This is no knock on Putnam, I think Fogelburg was showing such prowess from both sides of the fence that it was difficult to find one theme to go with on this record. Also, “thematic” albums weren’t being produced out of Nashville in the early ‘70’s. Perhaps my expectation of wanting all the songs to be thematically linked is a bit of a stretch.

To appreciate Fogelburg’s growth as a songwriter and musician, I really think you need to listen to “Home Free”. While it might not be a balanced record, it showcases the tremendous potential that Fogelburg in his early 20’s. His strong vocals and technique were just emerging, and his talent for writing, singing, and playing were far beyond anything the industry had seen.

After the album was completed, Fogelburg went back west. I’ve read that John Hammond was not happy with the “country-ness” of the album, which led to Joe Walsh producing the next Fogelburg album, which I’ll get around to appreciating soon.