Wednesday, November 30, 2005

if I only had a brain

OK folks, I understand there is a lot of frustration out there with the current administration in Washington. As I have said before, I'm fairly conservative and while the W is hardly the best president in American history, I still believe he is the best of the choices we had in the last election.

I understand not everyone shares my view and many have what they firmly believe are good reasons for theirs. No problem. It's when the reasons get ludicrous that I start having issues.

I got an e-mail from the youngster's baseball coach today, the one that actually played A ball in the Dodger organization. Apparently he is one who doesn't share my world view, but felt compelled to share a powerpoint presentation from someone in England that backs his.

The presentation, as much as I watched of it, puts forward the premise that on September 11th, 2001, the airplane that hit the Pentagon never really existed. That whole crash was a hoax put forward by the government in an effort to gain support for an attack on Iraq. The pictures are allegedly non-photoshopped originals of the crash site showing a distinct lack of airplane debris, and explosion footage in the side of the pentagon that included no airplane.

OK, so let me get this straight. The government, in it's zeal to send our boys to Iraq, conspired to blow up a piece of the pentagon and blame it on a non-existant airplane. It held this plan in its hip pocket, waiting for the day when terrorists would attack the World Trade Center and then pulled it out, timing it perfectly so it looked like part of the existing attack. The Washington media, including the Post and the Washington bureau of CNN, are so administration friendly as to go along with the hoax, or were blinded to the fact that an airplane had allegedly hit a building, but couldn't be found. Nobody anywhere near the crash site noticed that there is no airplane, and yet, four years later from across an ocean, some Brit with an agenda blows the whole conspiracy wide open with this expose.

C'mon people. If you don't like Mr. Bush, he gives you plenty of fodder without making shit up, but if you're going to propagate stuff like this, please think first. Give yourself an ounce of credibility. As much as I don't think it'll happen, one day someone may really catch someone from this administration doing something highly illegal, and when they do, nobody's going to believe it because you keep pulling stunts like this and crying 'wolf'. Keep it up and you'll just get ignored when the real thing comes along.

the 'it' toy

Every year toy manufacturers strive to have the 'it' toy. That's the one that, the day after Thanksgiving, people come to blows over. It's the one where demand far exceeds supply and radio stations are auctioning off their coveted one or two, valued at about 15 dollars, for hundreds, for charity (which in itself is a pretty cool thing). It's what every parent wants for his or her child.

I remember snickering, when the youngster was about 2 or 3 and seeing the news reports on the 'Tickle Me Elmo' doll. It was the subject of brawls and radio auctions. People went nuts tring to get one of these things and to most of their chagrin on Christmas morning, the kids were thoroughly unimpressed. Something else Santa brought always seemed to be more interesting.

Then came the year of the Furby. The hype started way before Thanksgiving, how this thing was so cool, because it learned from it's owner, and had it's own laungage, and was the dawning of artificial intelligence in toys and of course, supplies would be limited. I watched with growing interest. If this thing is everything they say it is, it really is so cool. Then came Thanksgiving and the huge daily paper with all the sale crap in it. I paged through before the football games started while slow cooking the turkey on the grill.

There it was. It gripped me instantly. It sucked the rationality from my mind and turned me into one of those people I was laughing at a scant year before. Some toy store in the mall had 50 Furbys, and they were going to open at 6:00 a.m. Right then and there I decided, I'm going to be there! I will be one of the lucky 50 scoring a Furby. Santa is going to absolutely rock! The youngster will wake up Christmas morning, one of the few, the lucky, the Furby owners.

I set the alarm for something insane. 3:30 comes to mind. When it went off, I dragged my ass out of bed thinking, only for him would I do this. I got dressed and headed for the mall, and an education. I got there to see that I was, of all things, late. Real late, and it wasn't even 4 o'clock yet. The people were streaming in and the line was...well, longer than 50 people. Everyone was clutching pieces of paper representing their place in line. This was a whole shopping culture I never knew existed, yet here it was. I just stood there thinking, who are you people, yet realizing I was of them. I quickly figured out I wasn't even close to one of the first 50, so I started trying to remember....OK, John, you're up at 4 in the morning and this ain't the only Furby resource in town. Think guy, what other sales papers did you see yesterday and how close are the stores to here? Target! Target's close to here. It's right across the parking lot! So I ran...only to see another line...a longer line of day after Thanksgiving shoppers, encircling the Target store. Noooo, that's not the answer and it's not looking better. I'm moving backward in my quest. Where else? Oh yeah, there's a Montgomery Ward in the mall. I think they had something in the paper. Let's try there.

I walk through the front door and get handed a box of free ornaments for being one of the first gazillion people to shop there that day. Already things are looking up. I now have something to show for my complete lack of rational thought. It's no Furby, but I at least know I'm not going home empty handed. Then I see it. The line. On the good side, unlike Target, it's indoors. Like Target, it's length is intimidating. But hey, it's now about 4:30 in the morning. At this point, where else do I have to go? So I find the end of the line (in itself a daunting task) and start making friends with those around me to pass the time. About an hour or two later, we start to snake our way around the store, through the aisles (which I'm sure was intentional, but ineffective) as the line actually starts to move. Soon we realize that we are on the first floor and the line continues to the second floor, in a copy of the Disneyworld line trick. Now, everybody realizes the line is longer than they imagined, yet nobody's going anywhere because we already have a time investment in this thing. Then we see the fruits of our labor in the hands of others. People leaving with honest to God Furbys, jumping around with glee. Once our part of the line moves upstairs, we're still snaking through aisles, but we can see how the rest of the drill goes. First you get to pay for the Furby and are handed a receipt, only to get in another line to actually trade the receipt for the little fur ball. Things are not looking so bad though. The lines are moving and people are getting toys. It's now after 6:00 and I can see the cash register. The mood around me is hopeful. This could actually work and then, came the announcement. We're out. That's all folks! We should get more, so we'll start a waiting list if you would like to add your name, but that's all we have for now.

They're out? They can't be out! I can see the register. I'm only...maybe 40 or 50 people short. This can't be happening! Then I watch half the people in front of me leave. I'm thinking, what are you doing? You got up at some stupid hour to be here. No, you don't have what you came for, but at least put your name on the list. Leave with a hope instead of nothing. I'm not going anywhere until my name's on that list, and so it was. I became number 18 on that waiting list, and walked out with some free ornaments and a piece of hope.

So I headed home, stopping at Dunkin' Donuts because at home, everyone is still asleep. It was still way before 7:00, and my parents were in town for Thanksgiving. Everyone would at least wake up to donuts while I get some rest. I walked in with donuts, a box of ornaments that look increasingly like a sun, moon and star to promote some perfume, and a slip of paper marking my spot on the waiting list, and went back to sleep.

Everyone was happy with donuts and three days later, Wards called and said they had my Furby. Score! I went immediately to the mall and claimed my prize.

Christmas morning came and the youngster unwrapped the Furby while I watched and waited anxiously for his reaction, pushed it aside for a Tonka truck and never looked back.

I promised myself I'd never be up at 3:30 in the morning the day after Thanksgiving again, and that's a promise I've kept.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

you're getting Jewed out of this post

First let me start with the standard "some of my best friends are..." disclaimer that comes with crap like this from average white guys like me. My Aunt is Jewish. My college roommate (yeah, at a Catholic university, go figure), who is still one of my best friends and was the best man at my wedding is Jewish. No, I have no issues with Jewish people.

It just hit me about a month ago, and then again yesterday when I was reading blogs. I heard the expression, growing up, "getting Jewed out of" something. The place I first heard it was when we moved to Pennsylvania, when I was starting 7th grade. Someone had to explain it to me, and I found out it meant you were getting cheated, or getting squeezed for money in some way. Of course, being the socially conscious kid that I was, I fell right in line with everyone else and used the expression, so I was fitting in nicely. I don't know how long it was before I realized where it came from, but also being the lightning quick kid that I was, I eventually I made the connection with Jewish people.

What made it hit home yesterday was it was the dramatic point of a blog entry. The blogger's mom has a new boyfriend (whose approval rating already appears to be low on many levels) and he used the phrase. The blogger appears to be in a major quandry over how to tell mom her boyfriend is a racist. I'm not about to pass judgement on the guy over one sentence (and as a friend who is Jewish reminded me, Judaism isn't a race, so has nothing to do with racism, anyway), but that whole thing isn't my story. So much for background.

What I didn't realize until yesterday, is that it had been forever since I heard that expression in conversation. I got to thinking how long, and it was pretty much when I left Pennsylvania, joined the Navy and headed of all directions, south. It just isn't part of the lexicon here. I realized that whole prejudice thing when it comes to people of the Jewish faith really doesn't connect in the South like it does in the Northeast. I don't know if it's prevalent going west, because I haven't spent a lot of time there. At first I thought, maybe that because the population here has a very small percentage of Jewish people, but that's not true anymore. People are moving here regardless of race, color, creed or favorite flavor of ice cream.

I started thinking about the reputation the South gets in other places. We're all intolerant Red States, full of hatred for everything that isn't exactly like us. Then I remembered one of my neighbors who moved here from....Chicago, who remarked on one of our neighbors being black, and I shrugged. She said, "You know, back in Chicago, that would never happen. People would be moving out."

Now, I know I'm filling this post with generalities and stereotypes, and they don't hold everywhere. I also know we have our problems, too. I still hear the 'N' word now and again to describe black people, and it grates on me like nails on a chalkboard. (I'm sorry, but I'm not nearly politically correct enough to use the terms 'African American' or 'people of color'. I'm not one to change how I refer to people because they used to like this term but now they want this term. The 'flavor of the week' method of referring to anyone doesn't appeal to me at all.) That "Hertiage not Hate" line doesn't carry that much weight, either. I see the stars and bars plastered across the back window of pick-em up trucks, and I don't think it's because great granddaddy was Robert E. Lee. He wasn't that prolific. The wife lost one of her childhood friends because her friend's husband used the 'N' word in a discussion about possible presidential candidates, and I let it be known that I thought Colin Powell would make a great candidate and I didn't appreciate the word. Prior to that day, we saw them once a month or so. Never heard from them after that day, and that was over 10 years ago. I doubt that's coincidence.

I'm not sure where I'm going with all this except the South has a nasty reputation for being backward, intolerant and more racist than the rest of the country. I think that reputation is a leftover from George Wallace trying to single handedly stop segregation and the events of the 60's. I think the South is no less tolerant and accepting of people of all races, colors and creeds than any other part of the country and in a lot of cases, we're doing better than a lot of y'all. Then again, I may be living in a dream world, protected from the realities that exist outside my little piece of suburbia, but that's how I see it.


Monday, November 28, 2005

life after Leftwich

Starting with the last part of the weekend, Byron goes down and looks like he won't play for the Jaguars for at least a month. All the people clamoring for David Garrard have their wish. Be careful what you ask for, folks. Yes, he's more mobile and that helps in one regard. No he isn't the passer that Leftwich is, and I hope that doesn't hurt us too much. He ran around a bit on Arizona, but now that people game plan for him, I don't think he'll be as effective doing that. It will help though, that he goes into this week at practice knowing he's the guy, and getting the reps that go with that. I'm skeptical, but of course, hopeful.

Played golf Saturday, and that in itself is a generous description of what I did. It gave "ugly" a new meaning. Maybe if I played every now and then I could expect some amount of improvement. I should resign myself to the fact that if I'm going to sacrifice the fall to little league baseball and the youngster, it really does show up as a sacrifice somewhere. Golf is better than anywhere else.

Golf on a more professional level - Fred Funk was great at the Skins Game. For those of you less golf oriented, Fred has a reputation for driving the ball very straight, but not very far. Months ago when talking to Tiger, he mentioned he'd be playing in the Thanksgiving weekend made-for-TV event. Tiger informed him that Annika Sorenstam was playing with them (the fourth being Fred Couples), and if she outdrove him, even once, he'd never hear the end of it. Fred went into it pretty much knowing that she least once...and probably more. He told Annika if she outdrove him, he'd wear a skirt on the hole the first time it happened. On the third hole Saturday, it happened, and Annika pulled a pink floral number out of her bag and handed it to Fred. Being the good sport he is, Fred Funk wore the pink skirt with his pant legs pulled up for the rest of the hole. By the way, Fred also took the most money of the 4 golfers who played the event - $925,000, and prompty gave 20% to a local charity. The man is an all around good guy.

I stuck big toe into the shopping world Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No, I didn't get up in the middle of the night and head for some discount store to be blugeoned reaching for the last ridiculously cheap item heavily advertised to bring in the masses. I did go out and get a few things though and it was relatively painless. If I do a little here and a little there, I should be ready for the birthday party on the 25th. By the way, I did actually do the early morning thing one year. I'll save that bizarre story for later.

That leaves Thanksgiving, which was very nice, if uneventful. I, along with the wife, youngster and a few neighbors, stuffed myself with turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, pumpkin pie, and more...and in several rounds. It was a great day, that served the purpose of reminding all of us how much we have to be thankful for, with family and friends surrounding us and all pitching in to make it special.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

someone flipped the switch

Yes, it's getting that holiday feeling out there. I woke up this morning and Mother Nature even cranked the A.C. on just for me so make it feel right. We actually woke up and had to turn the heat on for the first time this fall. Then I walked the dog, in a jacket with an actual lining as saw frost. Not a lot of it mind you. You had to look close in certain patches of the yard, but it was there. Must be Thanksgiving.

The Jaguars head west on Sunday, where the pressure is once again on to body slam a perceived vastly inferior opponent. That same inferior opponent went into St. Louis and beat the Rams, which is something the Jaguars failed to do. Now though, we head to Arizona, where yes, the heat is on, but they say it's a dry heat and that's supposed to make it all better. We'll see come Sunday.

I hope you, and your families have a great Thanksgiving. Hopefully, if you're still inclined to visit my little corner of the web, we'll see you next week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

pass the turkey

OK, maybe I'm just a traditionalist, but whatever happened to Thanksgiving? It's like it doesn't even exist anymore. I know Christmas has been creeping up on it for years, but there was always some kind of unwritten law that said, "We don't go full bore till after Thanksgiving." Let the Pilgrims and Indians play their football game first and when the clock winds down to double zero, then wheel out Santa Claus.

That has been infringed on over the last few years, but this year seems to be different. It's as if the bulldozers came through and opened a freeway right past Thanksgiving. The marketing world just passed the turkey, stepped in your cranberries and splattered sweet potato all over the curb in the mad rush to Christmas. Aren't there enough shopping days in December to get the message across? Can't we hang on until 4:00 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving (or whatever insane hour stores are opening these days on Friday) before bombarding people with the X-Box 360 and whatever else the hot toy may be this year?

I realize there's no big money in Thanksgiving presents. Hallmark isn't making a windfall on Thanksgiving cards either. It's the grocery stores and John Madden, and you can only market so many 10 legged turkeys. Larry the Cable Guy's been checking out the gift possibilities already out there and it's got him a little ticked as well. "I keep seeing these Hickory Farms baskets in stores that you can buy as gifts. What kinda gift is that? I guess nothing says 'Happy Birthday Jesus' like a 2 foot meat stick and some spicy mustard! This world is nuttier than squirrel poop!" I encourage you to follow the link to his website, if for no other reason than to check out his Christmas light display. Still, can we hold back the rush and just pause for a day, and give thanks for all we have, before we go out and get more?

Monday, November 21, 2005


Everyone around here is starting to get excited about the NFL playoffs and the Jaguars first foray into that environment in too many years. I'm sitting here thinking, "Not so fast, people." Let's not be puttin' the Hail Mary before the rest of the prayers. There's still quite a bit of football to be played and there are still some nagging questions.

The offense seems to be getting better, but it's against teams that haven't won three games all season. I don't think that's coincidence, but at the same time, realistically, there are no gimme games in the NFL. The difference between the Jaguars and the Titans, quality-wise, isn't that glaring. Then there's the fact that the offense doesn't seem to do shit until the second half. The optimist in me says they're making good adjustments at halftime and coming out and winning in the second half. The pessimist is screaming, "Yeah, but what about that first half? Can't we prepare to score then like the other team does?" We can't be spotting the other team a touchdown or two when the Colts come to town.

Speaking of the Colts, was I the only one not terribly impressed with the win over Cincinnati? I'm missing the whole love affair with the Bengals, who I think are pretty much a paper tiger. Carson Palmer looks like the real deal. After that, I'm not seeing it. Every time they play one of those games where they can "make a statement", they don't. Lucky for them, their schedule doesn't have many of those games. Lucky for me, neither does the Jaguars schedule from here on out. Playing the "we get no respect" card, there are 8 teams with 7-3 records. Only seven of them can make it into Tom Jackson's top 10 at Guess who the odd man out is. Of course! Never mind the fact that his top 10 includes the Seahawks, the Steelers and the Bengals...three teams that make up slightly less than half of the Jaguar wins. (Yes, I know the other side of the argument is, "but that means you lost to the freakin' Saint Louis Rams.) I like the fact that we're still managing to stay under the radar more or less, though. It hopefully gives our boys a chip on their shoulder to play with, as we head to Arizona in the second of three straight road games. That game is a no win situation, though. If we win, nobody cares because it's the Cardinals. If we lose...oh please, please let's not go there.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A looong tall goblet of fire

Saw the new Harry Potter movie last night with the wife and youngster. The youngster and I are pretty much through the books, but the wife has just seen the movies. While she likes them, she's not a fanatic. Therefore it gives me a different perspective. I loved the movie, and so did the youngster, but we go in with a certain set of expectations. The Horntail was amazing. The graveyard scene when the wands connect, and all the people Voldemort killed return was done very well. Yes, there's a ton of stuff left out that I think is important, but I'm used to that with Potter movies, and I've given up groaning about it. You have to give up something when trying to tell the story in about three hours. This one was different in that regard though. Maybe it's because Goblet of Fire was a much longer book, but a lot more was missing. I could start a list here, but I'm sure it's already being compiled elsewhere by someone more thorough. Therefore it left someone who hasn't read the books lost. All the Harry Potter movies are long. This was the first one where it became an issue for someone (my wife) who hadn't read the book. She was lost, and was ready for it to be over long before it was. The other movies were better at holding her interest. I told her there was an the book. I doubt that'll happen though.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Identity Theft

Every now and then, at work, they do presentations at lunch. You can sign up if you're interested. They feed you. Hopefully you learn something. At the very least, you get fed.

Today they had one on identity theft, so I went. I figured hey, if this geek thing doesn't pan out, I'll need another source of income, and stealing identities could be fairly lucrative, or so I've been told. It seemed worth a look, and some free food.

It was worthless, pretty much. I thought I'd get some hacking tips, a couple of identites provided gratis, just to practice on, a few lines to throw at credit card companies when they get nosey about who I really am...that sort of thing. I got none of that. Lots of tips on how to avoid having your stuff stolen, but damn, if I had stuff to steal, why would I want to learn about stealing someone elses?

Seriously though, they did give us a few tips.

1. Own and use a shredder. Bank statements, credit card statements, credit card offers...all that needs to be mechanically ripped into small bits

2. Get your credit report and review it.

3. Look at every line of your credit card statement and make sure you're responsible for the charges.

4. Don't mail your bills in your home mailbox. Take them to the post office.

5. Just say no. When people ask you to verify your social security number over the phone, ask them to use something else to verify who you are, but get in the habit of being stingy with that.

6. Don't carry your social security number in your wallet. If a thief gets that, and your drivers license with your birthdate, you can kiss your ass goodbye.

Those, in and of themselves, will get you a whole lot safer if you aren't doing them now.

Have a great weekend.

life after baseball - for this year

Well, last night ended fall ball season with a ten run rule win over an 11 year old team. No fanfare. No balloons. Hand out the trophies with a few words for each kid and get on home, because it was already 9:30.

Yesterday was also the day progress reports came out at school, which marks the halfway point between report cards. Ours was not good news. It could be called more of a lack of progress report, so we have work to do. Note I say 'we'. The wife and I need to more closely supervise (although the boy's pretty closely supervised now, but I guess it's not enough) and the youngster needs to put forth more effort. This is about as frustrated as I've ever been in my life about anything, and I'm trying not to let that bleed through when dealing with the youngster. We try to help him, and most of the time, when we know what has to be done, we manage to get him where he needs to be. We get him to understand whatever the concepts are that he has to know. We get him to do the work he needs to do. I was expecting real progress on this report, only to find out he hasn't turned in a lot of work....that we didn't know existed. We thought we had a method of making sure that didn't happen anymore, but apparently the method has holes. In a way it's a good thing we don't have the baseball distraction for a while. If this continues, we may not have it at all come spring. I'm just not used to putting this amount of effort into something and have it just not work. Part of me is saying that I can only do so much, and he has to step up and take it from there and take some responsibility for his work. Another part of me says I don't understand what he's dealing with because I've never had to work or think under the conditions he does, and he's my son, and anything I can do to help him just has to be done. If that means more, I have to figure out what more is. The wife keeps reminding me, and rightly so, that none of this comes easy for him, and that's hard for me to understand, because it always did for me. I was the National Honor Society kid in high school. I was the Summa Cum Laude guy in college. Book learning stuff has always been a piece of cake for me, and understanding how hard it is for him is difficult...but I know it's true.

As for advanced ball, I know we won't be doing that in the spring. Whether or not he's good enough, we don't have time enough. I don't know if we're supposed to be done for the fall, but I'm thinking we are. The double header for tomorrow got cancelled. It seems the field was already being used for teams finishing their rec ball season. There's the December tournament, but I don't know the whole story with that. We were asked to send in $34 to play. I decided to act dumb (please, no comments on the degree of difficulty required for that maneuver), and send the coach an e-mail. Basically, it said that I know the youngster is an alternate, you need him for this tournament thing? He can play if you need him but let me know. I figured that was a polite way to hint that we aren't paying the money and going to this thing if he's going to sit. I got no response...yet. If I don't hear anything, or if I hear they don't expect him to play, I'm pretty much done.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Star Wars - the next generation

The youngster grew up post Star Wars. By that I mean, after the original three were long done and packaged 25 different ways in box sets of VHS tapes. His first real 'in the theater' Star Wars movie was, what he calls, "Starwarsepisodeonethephantommenace." I wrote it like that because even now, while the movie has been out for years, that's what he calls it and how he says one long string without so much as taking a breath.

The youngster is a Star Wars fan, a trait definitely inherited from his father. His mother could take or leave the whole Star Wars thing while the youngster and I will watch hours of it. We got into many discussions early on that began with, if not the direct question, the who is this Luke Skywalker guy anyway? Where does he fit into the story? The first time he asked, the question kind-of threw me. Whaddya mean, who's Luke Skywalker? He is Star Wars! It made sense after I got past the initial shock. He knew who Annikin was, but he kept hearing me talk about Luke, and he didn't know who he was. But we got past it as he saw all the movies, but that's where we differ. To me, Luke Skywalker is Star Wars, because that's what I grew up with, assuming I've stopped doing that. To him, it's Annikin and Obi-Wan, and Luke just sorta comes later.

Last night we watched part of the original movie, which I call Star Wars. He calls it A New Hope. (A New Hope? What the hell is that all about? It's the hope! It's the basis for the whole story. It's where it all began. Without it you wouldn't have Annikin, or Padme, or Jango Fett, or Jar Jar, which might not be such a bad...but I digress.) There were pieces in the DVD version (a conversation with Jabba the Hut, for example) that weren't in the original, and when I commented on it, he just looked at me and said, "Dad, it doesn't matter. I've never seen the original."

It's just kind of strange, and interesting, sitting with him, and his perspective, watching it all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

who is that?

Who is that ranked #5 in the AP preseason college basketball poll? Go Wildcats! ...and we're not talkin' Kentucky.

Now, having said that, I put about as much stock in that as I do the famous quote, "I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinski!" Preseason polls are based on nothing except sexy picks and what happened last year and opinions of people who, in their opinion, are experts. Look at this and what you have in March, and you'll see there isn't all that much to either of their opinions. That's why they play the games. Nice to see the little main line Philly school getting some recognition though.

the little league season winds down

This Thursday is our last game and I'm not all that sad to see it go. Frankly, I could use a break.

The advanced ball stuff seems to be dying a slow hard death. Nothing is very concrete and it makes it hard to plan. Practices are announced a few days before they happen, and usually on the weekend when we have other plans. The youngster missed the last two because we went to the Jaguar games. If I had known about the practices more than two days in advance, I'd have found someone else to go to the game with and sent him on to practice, but with no hard schedule, it gets difficult. This week, I knew we had no game Saturday, so I scheduled one on one time for him with a coach...the guy who played A ball for the Dodgers, and he's very good. Advanced ball stuff is usually Sunday, so I figured I should be good. Last night we get an e-mail. Mr. look-a-me is trying to set up a double header for Saturday. Personally, I think the youngster gets far more out of an hour with the one-on-one guy that he would out of the double header, so I sent Mr. look-a-me a reply, saying sorry...won't be there. He's trying to get the team entered in a tournament in early December..the 9th through the 11th. I think it'd be great for the youngster to get to play in it, but I have a feeling, because he's the alternate, he'd be used sparingly if at all. Still, the wife and I will have to talk about it. She's ready to tell Mr. look-a-me to cram his advanced ball team. Her point is it costs us money for him to play in these games. The tournament thing is somewhere between $30 and $40 per kid, and if he's going to ride the bench (or get in for an inning or two on a coach's guilt trip), he can do that at home a lot cheaper. I'd like to see him get to play, if he's really going to do that. We'll see how much more practice we get or miss, and see what kind of feeling I get for what they'd do with him if we said we'd participate. I'll try to be more flexible about all that, but I won't give up the one-on-one time this Saturday. Maybe we can make the second game of the double header.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

wanna buy a watch?

Old Chinese proverb: Man with watch knows what time it is. Man with two watches never does.

I will never be one of those people who owns a Rolex (so please, spammers, stop with the offers already). A watch, to me, is a functional thing that lets me know, within reason, what time it is. It's not some timeless treasure, or statement, especially spending the majority of its time under a shirtsleeve cuff. I want to be able to glance at it and know how much longer I have before I'm supposed to be someplace, or how much longer I have to endure whatever situation I may find myself in...that sort of thing. I want it to be right, and I want it to last a long time. Whether or not it has one or more diamonds in it, or is made of 5 gazillion karat gold is inconsequential.

Well, about eight years ago I sunk what, to me, was a considerable amout of money in a Seiko kinetic watch. It was an investment, I told myself. You never have to wind it. It never needs batteries. All you have to do is wear it and move occasionally, and it stays wound. I'll have this thing for the rest of my life.

Well, there's stuff they don't tell you about those kinetic watches...stuff that yes, if I had researched it a bit more I would have learned, but I wasn't thinking of a loophole search. I was buying the last watch of my life. For eight years it was exactly that, so I guess I can't complain. Then came the stretch, a few months back, when I was sick for a few days. I didn't wear the watch, so it stopped. Ever since then, I couldn't get it to keep time. Oh, it'd work for an hour or two after vigorously shaking it, and giving it to the twelve year old bundle of energy to shake for a while, but not for an entire day. No matter what I did with it, by morning the hands would stop, usually not making it even an hour after I went to bed. So I took it to a watch repair place, and heard, "Oooohhhh, Seiko kinetic. I can't touch this. Only Seiko can touch this. You'll have to send it back to them." I learned that there's a little capacitor thingie that stores up the energy when you move your wrist, and this capacitor thingie goes bad after ooohhhh...say...eight years. It has to be replaced, but only Sieko can do it, so you have to send it to them. Then I read stories about people who did just that, got their watch back and still, it didn't work. So I decided, why go through all the trouble of packing the sucker up and sending it to Seiko to fix, when I can probably get a new watch cheaper than the repair bill and be reasonably assured it'll work?

As it turns out, we had a ton of credit card points and were looking for something to do with them. One of the options was a new, battery operated Seiko watch. It'll be here (so says the credit card company...not the one David Spade works for) mid December.

So there's my public service announcement for the day. Those kinetic watches are nice things, but if you're thinking it's good for the rest of your life, think again.

Monday, November 14, 2005

that's so Raven

Finally, the Jaguars did what they were supposed to do. They took a team they were supposed to beat, and did it, without all the drama of playing down to their level. I'm seeing hopeful signs, but I still have my guard up. Just because you can trash the Ravens, who you were supposed to trash, doesn't make you a great team by any means. We still have lots of growing to do. Matt Jones started looking like a receiver though, and Greg Jones did what they drafted him to do two years ago, filling in for Fred Taylor. So still, I'm cautiously optimistic, and I have no voice on a Monday. Things are back to normal.

Strange coincidence - We've had the same seats since the first game in 1995, but the people around us have varied over the years. This year there's a guy sitting in the row behind us who's pretty loud. That is by no means a bad thing. If anything he makes it easier for me to do the same. He's not obnoxious loud, but he's noticable. I haven't really spoken to him. He sits about 7 or 8 seats down from us. So, after the game, I go home with the youngster, who had a church function to go to. The wife and I discuss food possibilities, and settle on wings and beer at a fairly new place near the house. We sit at a table and start watching the Bucs/Redskins game, which was in the 4th quarter (and had a very cool ending, for someone just watching it for the game's sake and had no specific team to pull for) and I look at the table next to us. There's a woman who's clearly had a few to many, and I recognize her. She was having a few too many at the the row behind us. And there's her husband, who I recognized from his hat, and the fact that he made lots of trips up and down the steps to the concession stands, retrieving the few too many. And at the table with them, is the loud guy, who it turns out is the drunk girl's father. Anyway, over the next hour or so, the drunk girl drinks nothing but water, and has some food, and sobers up a lot. He didn't recognize me at first, but he ordered the hottest wings available. I like 'em spicy, but I stop way short of the labels like "on fire" or "nucular" (that was for you dubya, cuz we know you're an avid lumberyard reader). This guy didn't though, and he was handling them. His son-in-law wanted to try one. He took one bite....and started stomping one of his feet on the floor and looking for relief...water...anything. Then the guy turned to me and asked if I wanted to try one. I declined, but I looked at him and said, "I have to ask, section 123?" He just looked at me, amazed. He asked how I knew. I said, "I'll go that one better, row J?" All three of them are looking at me now. "How do you know that?" After that we started talking , but it was strange...having the people sitting in the row behind you in the stadium just happening to be at the table next to you at a sports bar 3 hours after the game.

Friday, November 11, 2005

stars and music

Last night was a night of opposites, the most mundane and the fairly special.

It was bill paying night. I hate bill paying night just for the drudgery of it. It was supposed to be checkbook balancing night as well, but I didn't quite get there...probably tomorrow.

Before the fun of checks and balances though, we went walking. Since the night has taken over the afternoon, it was dark when we went, and there were shooting stars. Not tons of them, mind you, but I saw two. Apparently we're in the middle of some meteor shower (said Mr. Weatherman this morning) which peaks tonight, so here's your chance to see some, and my chance to see more.

Afterwards I still had the bill thing staring me in the face, while the wife, mom-in-law and youngster watched one of those cop shows...CSI, Cold Case, Law and Order, they all run together for me. This one had FBI people in it I think. I had to get some stuff to get the bill party started and stopped at the computer. Maybe it was a commercial for the upcoming release of Madagascar on DVD, but I had a sudden urge to hear I Like to Move It, so I went web searching. I found it, and proceeded to make a pain in the ass of myself for the next 15 minutes or so cranking the tunes to the point where the youngster came in the room twice and asked me to turn it down. Eventually I did, but it took a while, just because I knew...once I got rid of the lemurs, it was back to the bills. They did get finished though....eventually.

I like to move it move it....

Thursday, November 10, 2005

hug a vet

OK, sure. I have my own very selfish reasons for saying that. I am one of those.

That's not the reason for this post though. The reason is my personal perception that Veteran's Day is not-so-slowly sailing into obscurity. I think right now it's on par with all those other holidays not observed by anybody outside the government, education or banking worlds. Soon the level will be Goundhog Day, Arbor Day, Boxing Day, Secretary's Day...Veteran's Day. I know someone from the local American Legion or V.F.W. will hold a parade on downtown J'ville, but I certainly won't participate, much less see it. I'll be at work, finishing out yet another week much like the week before.

Since I have this little corner of cyberspace, I figure the least I can do is focus a little attention on the day designated to recognize those people who stand in the face of death, willing to sacrifice everything they have in order to keep this country free, and give those of us back home the ability to debate what government should or should not do, and pursue our dreams, whatever they may be. It takes a certain kind of person to see how much the gift of freedom is worth, and be willing to defend it with everything they are. (OK, some are in it for the educational benefits or are somehow otherwise motivated. Still, they agree to defend that which all of us hold dear.) Because of them, we have the freedom to choose our path in life. We have the freedom to express our opinions, no matter how popular or unpopular they may be. Once, when I was in the military, I visited an old friend from college, whose political views were far different from mine. He looked at me and said, "The strange thing is, if I had my way, you'd be unemployed." What he never got was because I was employed in the capacity I was, and there were (and are) hundreds of thousands like me, he was allowed to express his dream. In a perfect world, I would share his dream. We would need no military, ready to back up our desire to live free with their lives. This isn't a perfect world though, and it is never going to be. Because of that, there will always be a cost to freedom. Tomorrow if you feel so inclined, please thank one of those people you see, who is or was willing to bear that cost, and demonstrated that willingness when called upon.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Terrell Owens a Jaguar?

OK, it's been grating on me all day. Listening to the sports talk guys for part of the way to work, one normally rational guy brought up the notion of the Jaguars making a run at Terrell Owens. He was very enthusiastic about the idea.

His point was, at first you go "no way", just like those idiots in Bristol, Sean Salisbury et al., but then, you realize, the Jaguars are weak at receiver, and T.O. is a very good one of those. Yes, T.O. is an asshole, but the NFL is full of assholes. If you put the NFL through an asshole filter, you'd be down to 40 man rosters. They say he's a bad teammmate, but every team has bad teammates. If you do drugs and get suspended, you hurt your team and are therefore a bad teammate. If you kill someone and go to jail, you hurt your team and become a bad teammate. Bad teammates are all over the place, and what T.O. did isn't even close to drugs or murder. All he did was trash his quarterback and talk bad about the organization.

OK, point taken, but what team would say, "Oh, he's a drug abuser? How do I get him?" "Oh, rap sheet with murder on it and he'll tear apart the locker room, but he makes plays? Where do we sign?" If you have a guy who ends up being one of those problem children, you deal with it...because you have no other choice. You don't go out looking for it, or asking for it. Your front office doesn't go looking for headaches. There are enough of those without asking for more. The guy said Jack Del Rio is a tough guy who could keep T.O under control like Andy Reid couldn't. I don't know if he could or not, but why would you want to saddle him with that baby-sitting job? Why would you want to put that on his plate? Isn't there enough on it now? As far as I know, NFL coach isn't an easy peasy lemon squeezy kind of job, where Jack has lots of extra time on his hands to massage the Owens ego and keep it in check. That's a job for Super Nanny.

Just because there are idiots out there, nobody needs to go recruiting them. Besides, Leftwich already has enough criticism being thrown his way. (The best I heard was a guy 4 seats down from me at the game in a Texans jersey laughing at Byron running the ball, "He looks like a 6'5" Gary Coleman!". He shut up a few minutes later though, when Leftwich ran for a touchdown.) I don't think what we need now is a Terrell-sized load of abuse dumped on top of the rest of that.

true confessions

I rant a lot, about what I believe and how I thing things ought to be, and point out stupid things other peole do. You might think from all that, that I think I do no wrong. Nothing is farther from the truth. I know I do stupid things, and lots of them.

I was talking to someone about it today and they asked, "What? Are you making a list?" I told them, no, if I started a list, I'd spend all my time either doing stupid things or listing them out, with little time left over to do anything not-so-stupid.

We all muddle thorough this life thing, and even when we're trying our best, not that we do that all the time, we goof up. I'm far from immune.

I got into an argument once about religion and going to church on Sunday, and the person I was arguing with said I thought I was better than other people because I held on to this practice while they didn't. I told them, no. It's because I know I'm not better than other people that I hold on to this practice. I know I need all the help I can get. How other people get that help, if they need it, is their business. This is where I go looking for mine.

They say people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and that might be true, but we all live in somewhat glass abodes, and we do throw stones. I guess we just shouldn't be surprised when every now and then, we find ourselves replacing a few panes.

There's my piece of philosophy for the day.

the last night at league B

I'm sooo tired, and I know the youngster is too.

Last time I talked about league B, and playing teams from there, I told the story we got from one of their coaches, about one guy only aggreeing to coach if he got all the players he wanted. In other words, he wanted an all star team. I don't know for sure, but I think that's who we played last night. They had several kids who could pitch...well. They ran plays that you don't much see in rec ball. None of their kids were beginners. They handled our guys easily, 11-6. At least we weren't routed. The youngster didn't have a stellar evening (I think the ADD medication was wearing off. He wasn't exactly keeping focused). He struck out twice. We ran into the two hour time limit before getting through 5 innings, let alone 6, so we packed it up and went home at that point. The youngster was in bed by 11:04.

I did learn that several teams in our league declined the 'invitation' to play league B teams, because they thought the games went too late on a school night. I didn't know that was an option, or I might have protested a bit louder. It's over now though, so I'm not going nuts on water under the bridge.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Last Battle

Well, the Narnia goal has been achieved. I started reading the books a few weeks ago, wanting to finish them before the movie came out. I saw the previews when the youngster and I went to see The Greatest Game Ever Played, and it looked like something I'd want to see, but I knew nothing about it. It was just visually stunning and I, that looks so cool. I'm sure the trailer is available online somewhere if you want to go looking.

So I went out and bought the books and started reading, and the books are very good. If you've never read them, I recommend them if you like fantasy world stuff. The style is all it's own, but they involve magic and unicorns and witches and the like. This weekend I finished The Last Battle, and the movie comes out in December, so I reached the goal, and now I want to see the movie even more.

After all that, I've learned a few things about it all though. First, the movie isn't about the entire Chronicles of Narnia series. It's just about the original book that started it all, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Second, it's not a chronological trip through the seven books, so a movie couldn't cover all of it, even if it were very very long. They jump around a bit, skipping hundreds of years in Narnia, but only a few years in our world. Last and most intriguing, the books were used in Sunday School for some of my friends when they were young, throwing a biblical interpretation on it all. After reading it, I can see that happening, but if nobody told me, I don't think I would have guessed it. I mean, more often than not, as soon as you mention magic in a book, the fanatical Christians want to burn it, especially if the magic isn't seen as an evil thing (the Harry Potter books, for example), but yeah, there is a biblical aspect to the whole Aslan/sons of Adam/daughters of Eve/Aslan's world thing. For those that don't know what I'm talking about and are so inclined, the place to start is The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis. Take the first step and enjoy.

someone's gonna have to grab those reins

Well, to be honest, maybe they aren't. The Colts put on an impressive show last night to stay undefeated in the National Football League. I, along with the '72 Dolphins would like to see them lose at least one, but for different reasons. I would like to see it happen in Alltel stadium, but who knows. The fact is, even if they lose one, or two, they'll still win our division. Even if the Jaguars run the table from here on out (doubtful, but possible), we have three losses, and I don't see the Colts losing three. Hello wild card race and Super Bowl hopes, but even then, let's be realistic. The Jaguars aren't that good, but a guy can dream.

Tonight we have the last of two games with a 'league B' team. It means another 8:00 start far from home in a little league game, and getting the youngster to bed far too late. At least this is the last of these. We have no idea what to expect since we really don't play in that league, so we don't know the teams, or which one we'll face. We do know the field is slightly larger than ours, so their kids are more used to it, but it doesn't seem to be that big a deal. Pitchers, I suppose, are affected the most, but ours did OK last time. We'll see how it goes, but my biggest concern is getting the youngster a decent amount of sleep.

Monday, November 07, 2005

where's the brotherly love?

Well people, this was my 200th career blog entry, and I'm sorely disappointed that none of you came up with a way to honor me appropriately. It shows a complete lack of respect by the loose organization that you are, and I'm deeply offended. Hurt even. I may just have to hang up my keyboard.

Just joking. You can't get rid of me that easily, but I can't blame the Eagles for dumping T.O. at all. This was just a matter of time. To be honest, I have no idea whether or not this is my 200th career blog entry. I just needed some kind of milestone to parody Mr. Owens' outrage at the Eagles organization at not recognizing his 100th career touchdown catch, and this is all I could come up with. I know, fairly lame but that's all I have. Please Jaguars, don't even look twice at the locker room cancer that is Terrell Owens.

the weekend in retrospect

The baseball game Saturday morning - I'm just glad the whole fiasco is over. Yes, it was nice to ten-run-rule the Phillies and get out of there early, but it's nicer that it's just done. The two people that really needed to get the whole message from all the league people that showed up surprisingly weren't there...the 12 year old rules expert and his father. Apparently they were on a trip to Indiana or someplace like that. It did upset me a little when the league guys talked to our players in our dugout, they said that our guys shouldn't have responded when they were taunted...that they should have just let it go and not given the situation a chance to escalate. Well, in fact, they didn't respond. They were the epitome of class through the whole thing. After the league guys left the dugout, they were asking each other and us what they did wrong, and nobody had an answer except, "Well, they had to say that." No they didn't. But it's done and I'm grateful. I'll admit that I'm also happy that it ended my way, because as we all know, it's all about me. The lottery, however, remains uncooperative.

The rest of Saturday was spent doing yard stuff and shopping. I've been putting off the hedges for too long. For a while I was using the lame excuse that I wanted them to look scary for Halloween. Nobody was buying it, but I kept trying all the same. Well, time has taken even that sliver away from me, so I had to get busy. We look far more presentable now.

Sunday, the Jaguars won, which is a good thing. They made it interesting, which isn't such a good thing. I have been patient with Byron for the last two years, and hoped that the 'steady improvement' would continue, and I'll admit that he looked good in the second half, but...I'm starting to believe the doubters who think he's not the guy to take us to the promised land. The first half was a nightmare. All I can say is I can't remember Mark Brunell playing that bad, and Jack was willing to replace him with a first round draft pick. Maybe it's selective memory kicking in, enhanced by the fact that Brunell's playing like a man inspired in Washington, but I watched Leftwich in that first half and just kept shaking my head. It was like watching a train wreck. Then I came home and watched the Redskins play Sunday night, and saw the man we ran out of town. The difference was all too clear.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

sometimes justice looks so damn good

The little league saga with the Phillies ends, and Hollywood couldn't have scripted it any better for me. The Phillies and their parents might disagree, and to be fair, the entire Phillies team wasn't a bunch of jerks last Saturday. Those that were weren't many, but the few can ruin just about anything.

We had extra spectators today, in the form of the president and vice-president of the league, and the commissioner of the 12 year old age group. They gave both sides a little sportsmanship lecture, and there's nothing wrong with hearing a little of that.

After the lecture, we stomped all over them. We played 4 innings, after which the Mets were up 14-3. Game started at 8:30 and by 10:09 I was driving away. The youngster had a two out bases loaded single down the left field line that scored two. Which way to the lotto tickets?

Friday, November 04, 2005


There have been commercials on my favorite sports talk radio station for the Florida Humanists, throwing out their web site address, and there's the link (and some free pub for them) for those of you interested. To give you an idea how wildly popular they've been, their online poll to vote for your favorite Humanist has pulled in over 12 votes since March, and two of those are mine...for Albert Einstein, so if you do decide to visit...please help these guys look like someone actually gives a rat's patoot, and vote for their poll.

What had me curious is that the commericals would have you believe that all they are doing is walking around saying, in the words of Bill S. Preston, "Be excellent to each other!" I was thinking, "Well, if that's your deal, why would anyone not join, or why is there something you have to join? Isn't this just about everyone?" Once you look at the website though, it appears that it's more about the fanatical separation of church and state, based more on freedom from religion than freedom of religion, than anything about "Be excellent to each other." Once again, anything else is protected speech under the first ammendment, but once you say 'God' in a public place or in anything supported by public funds, the government has all of a sudden established a religion, and that has to be squelched. Their panties are in a wad because someone wanted to hold a high school graduation in a church. Well, so what?

I found it funny that there is a plea for funds on the page, saying these people need $15,000 by December. I don't know why, but it reminded me of that outrageous claim by Oral Roberts (yes, this did say Billy Graham, but if you look at the comments, you'll see someone set me straight. I'll admit I have trouble remembering who's who in the preacher hit parade.) years ago when he was raising money for a hospital or school or something, and said God told him if he didn't get the money by such-and-such a date, God was taking him home. So, what happens to the God-less heathens if they don't get their money by December?

Previewing the weekend

This weekend has disaster written all over it, and I'm hoping none of it comes to fruition.

First there's tomorrow morning at 8:30, where the Mets and Phillies once again battle it out. After the flurry of e-mails from the people running the league, it seems to have quieted down and if anything is going to come of last Saturday night, they haven't seen fit to let me in on it. That would be OK, too. After all, I am not a real coach and after giving my view of the evening's events, the rest of what happens isn't really my business. Hopefully I was right about the last game being right after the Florida/Georgia football game and in blaming alcohol for some of the parental antics of our opposition. At 8:30 in the morning, unless they're still going strong from Friday night, it shouldn't be as much of a factor. I didn't want the complaints about last week to get too loud, because I didn't want to pour gas on the fire, so hopefully the Phillies will sleep walk through 6 innings, and wake up when they're driving home, realizing they're 0-3 against the Mets this fall, with no chance at more abusive behavior toward our boys.

Then there's Sunday, when the Jaguars play the Texans....the woeful Texans, who have won all of one game this year, and that one last week. It seems every year they are the woeful Texans and every year they find a way to beat one team...the Jaguars (they have a 4-2 series edge since they became a team). Last year they stopped our playoff run dead in its tracks with a 21-0 win the day after our stadium, to sweep us for the year. Nice present, Santa! After what I heard about last week but didn't actually see, anything is possible. We should stomp all over the Texans, and that's what I expect to see, but I'd be lying if I said I won't walk into Alltel Sunday cringing just a little.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

the fallout begins

It took 'till today, but now I'm getting e-mails from our real little league coaches, forwarded from the commissioner, wanting to know the details of what happened Saturday night in the coaching debut. One of our parents complained about the behavior of the other team and their parents, and the lack of corrective action on their coaches part.

Maybe I should have complained about it all earlier, but I've already had my run-in with the little league muckity mucks this season over the advanced ball issue, and don't want to come off as a whiner. That, and we have to play the same team this Saturday, and I didn't want the molehill to grow into a mountain before that contest. It looks like it just might though, despite me. I will say that the complaining parent saw more things than I did. Immediately after the game I was running to my car to get snacks, because along with substitute coaching, we were also the 'snack family', and I wanted to get them in the hands of kids before they left and I ended up returning home with all that stuff. Apparently either during the run to the car and back or while we were checking on the boy who got hit with the ball when the game ended, several of the Phillies players came out of the dugout and gave the umpire the finger, and told him he sucked. That's entirely possible, and frankly, in that atmosphere, wouldn't surprise me. When you're sitting watching the horror unfold, it's much easier to see everything than when your running around in the middle of it. I know after the game, no mention was made in their dugout about anybody's behavior. The tenor of the conversation there was that it was a tough loss, but tomorrow's another day. We'll see where it all goes.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

you never really know anybody but yourself

Finding a good, honest mechanic is invaluable.

For a long time, when we lived on the other side of town, there was a garage we always took our cars to. No matter what had to be done, we took them to one guy. He ran a very honest shop. He was very good at what he did. He wasn't open on weekends, and when I asked him why, he said, "Because I don't have to be." I get all the business I can handle during the week." He started to expand, at one point having three separate garages, but ultimately closed down the extras, because he wasn't happy with the quality of people he could find to staff them. In the end, there was only the one. That's where I left him about 5 years ago. We moved too far away to make him convenient, especially with the no weekend thing. I had to find other ways to take care of the vehicles. But he was overflowing in business and I referred everyone I knew to him. My mother-in-law drove her car 90 miles down from Georgia to go to his shop. He was that good.

This morning I hear about a robbery/assault case in town in the radio news broadcast. A guy who owns a go-cart racing store was beaten up. Three guys broke into his store Monday night and attacked him. The perpetrators were caught, and the guy knew them. Some were competitors. He looked at one and pretty much said, "Dude, you have a wife and three kids. What the hell are you doing here?" They name the guys they arrested, and one of the names is my old garage guy. I can't be sure it's the same guy. I suppose there can be more than one person with the same name, but the last name wasn't something very common, like 'Smith'. When I saw him 5 years ago, he was married with two little girls. Maybe a third came along. It all seems like it could fit together, but damn, this guy struck me as one of the most honest people I knew. If it is him, I'll be very surprised, but it would prove....the person you know best is you, and sometimes you don't even know them all that well. Other people, you never really know for sure.

Late Breaking edit: A guy I work with who, also took his car to the same mechanic and swore by him for years, saw the story on the late news last night, and they showed mug shots. It's our garage guy! There has to be more to this story, but I doubt I'll ever get all of it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Revenge of the Star Wars marketers

The Revenge of the Sith came out today on DVD. One of my co-workers ran to Target at lunch and bought copies for everyone, including me, who wanted one. I glanced at the stuff on the back to see what the "extras" included, and the first one says...

"Six never-before-seen Deleted Scenes created just for this release..."

Now, if they are deleted scenes, they weren't created just for this release. They were created for the movie and ended up on the cutting room floor, probably well over a year ago. Conversely, if they were created just for this release, they were never in the movie and therefore couldn't be deleted...and who exactly deleted them if nobody's ever seen them? Something's very fishy here.

the Halloween population explosion

Last night was Halloween, and for us, that means four bags of candy and still we run out. So last weekend, I went and bought the four bags of candy (just because I refuse to buy 5. I could buy 10 and we'd still run out) and called us prepared.

A bit of history...we live in a fairly new community. The development started about 4 years ago and was out in the middle of nowhere, and we were one of the first 100 families in what will eventually be about 800 homes. It's nearing completion. In the first two years, we were the only complete street (all the houses built) and it ended in a cul de sac. Target rich for trick or treaters. They'd start on one side, rake it in till they got to the cul de sac and then hit the other side on the way out. We had people from the hillsides, minivans full of kids, friends and relations, commuting into our community for Halloween, because we were the only thing going for miles.

OK, now fast forward to this year. New developments are springing up, and our own is just about done. We are no longer the only show in town. We got to the door, casting our guesses for how long the measley four bags would last this year, and to our surprise, we have leftovers. We didn't get near the crowd we have in the past, even though there are a lot more kids around. We got plenty, but we have over a bag of candy left. We sat there at 8:30 looking at a deserted street wondering, "where are they?" I can only assume that now that there are plenty of other options out there, we've become less of a commodity. While it doesn't upset me all that much, I now own extra candy, and my waistline is crying for help. I hope I remember this next year, so we buy a bit less.

A Halloween lesson for those new to the concept - every neighborhood has one. There's one guy who has to hand out something healthy. It's either fruit, or the worst is a toothbrush. You don't want to be that guy. Don't ever be that guy. Give into the fact that Halloween is a celebration of all things unhealthy for your teeth. It's smothered in chocolate and caramel and sugar and deal with it. If you want to make a difference, stay away from the stuff like sugar daddy's, that will attempt to yank a kid's teeth out from the roots, but beyond that, just give in. The car pool kids were discussing that guy this morning, and while no threats were made, it was clear everyone in the neighborhood knows him, and that's the reason why. You don't want to be the guy with that reputation hanging around your house. Nobody cares if your intent was to be a smart ass, or you were genuinely concerned about the health and welfare of the children. The road to having your house toilet papered, or egged, or smeared with the juice of the fruit you doled out, is paved with those intentions. Nothing good will come of it.