Friday, March 30, 2007

the outlook is...messy

The house is a mess...or at least the first floor is. The deal was they would start Tuesday and we'd have wood floors by Friday...Saturday at the latest. The wife arranged for mom-in-law to baby sit the house for the week, but she has things to do next week so she can't do it then. Apparently they're behind, because they told the wife it'll be Monday...maybe Tuesday. That was a mistake.

"Oh no you won't be done Monday or Tuesday. You said Friday...maybe Saturday."

"No, I said if we started Monday, we could finish by Saturday."

"NO! Nobody ever mentioned starting Monday. I could have handled starting Monday, but next week I have nobody who can be here. You said you'd finish Friday. FRIDAY! Saturday was a backup. Your guys did nothing the first two days except remove tile. Monday they left at 2:00 and didn't come back. Wednesday they did nothing but get it out of the kitchen. Neither day were they here for more than six hours. You have to finish this week."

It's part of the deal where one person in the team makes up for the weaknesses of the other. There are things I do well, and things she does well, and this is her arena. a pushover. The guy tells me they don't finish until Tuesday and I start making contingency plans to accomodate that. The wife stands her ground. Bottom line after the "discussion"...they're still shooting for Saturday...and my money says they'll finish Saturday.

In the meantime, we have no kitchen or place to eat, so we're doing a lot of eating out...which means we don't get back until after 8:00, and with all the other stuff we need to do, something had to give...and my workout schedule is biting the bullet. It's funny how I didn't do much of anything for years and never felt like a slug, but once I started, and I don't do it for a few days, that's how I feel. I'll ride my bike tomorrow morning though, regardless of the floor situation.

Mom's still doing well. I talked to her last night and the doctors think they got everything. They did some tests to make sure and the results aren't back, but we're praying she's done...and there's no chemotherapy in the works.

Final four...I may get to watch some if I can get to a TV. I really have no rooting interest. If Florida wins, it's a double edged sword. I would kinda like to see the local guys do it, but I don't know if I want to deal with Gator fans afterward. Other than that, all I'm pulling for is good basketball, and it should be that.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

dust in the wind, and other hits

The first floor of stately lumberyard manor is covered in ceramic tile dust. The guys are supposed to come today and yank up the carpet and vacuum...a lot. In the meantime we're treating our second floor like an apartment...pretty much living there. For the youngster, the dog, the mom-in-law, the wife and me...let's just say it's cozy, and there's no kitchen.

Jaguars offensive tackle, Kalif Barnes, got stopped by the cops recently, for doing in excess of 100 mph in a 65 zone on a highway in town. He blew over the legal alcohol limit and was charged with DUI. In my worse than anyone else getting pulled over. What he did after that on tape is what's causing a local furor. It's being played over and over locally. He said it's a shame there's a professional team in this hick town, and he couldn't wait to get out. We, apparently, don't know how to treat professional football players, especially if they're black. We don't respect NFL players. Then he called the arresting officer a "KKK devil". When I said he was an offensive tackle, I was referring to his position, not his tirade, though it fits there too. Apparently we're not alone though. One Cincinnati Bengals player said the Ohio State Police force had been targeting Bengals (who are the current poster team for this sort of off-the-field crap) players because of the kind of year they were having. One has to wonder...were they having a good year, or a bad year? Kalif's home town of San Deigo isn't doing so well either. A member of their police force recently shot at an NFL player. Maybe that's our problem. Our police force dissed him by not taking pot shots at him before pulling him over, maybe? No street cred in that, when you're spending the night behind bars.

Now the question is...what happens to Mr. Barnes? If a white player did something like that and railed against the black community, he'd be run out of town before the sun went down...either released or traded. Think John Rocker and the Atlanta Braves. Yet everyone sorta shrugs this off because of the double standard that says only white men can be racists. The apologists are coming out with all sorts of reasons why this should be swept under a rug and forgotten. I can tell you this. If he thought people didn't like him before because he was black, he now knows how it feels for everyone not to like him because he's stupid. His popularity has plummeted. His silence on the issue isn't helping him any either. No explanation. No apology. No nothing. I thought the public and the media overreacted to John Rocker when they pretty much pressured the Braves to get rid of him, and I think pressuring the Jaguars to get rid of Barnes would be just as much of an overreaction. In both cases though, the player made his bed and has to lie in it, in the court of public opinion. The list of punishment suggestions range from "nothing, get over it" to "release him". The consensus is a few game suspension, but nobody thinks that'll happen because of that double standard. I think he should be fined and suspended for 4 games. Anybody else have an idea?


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

feeling out of touch

I guess I'm drifting out of touch with pop culture, because I'm starting to feel like I'm losing it.

The local fishwrap has an occasional column called "Dare to Ask". In it they ask questions people want answers to that are sometimes considered impolite, ask for 'person on the street' answers and then get an expert to, "Why do Catholics eat fish on Fridays?" or like this week...

If someone gets all in my face, is it considered racist to say "don't be going all sha-nay-nay on me."?

I'm sorry, but that was just lost on me. What the hell is "sha-nay-nay", and why would it be racist? The closest thing I can think of that relates (and it seems like a real stretch to me) would be Shania Twain. Is she Sha-nay-nay? Does she get in people's faces and if so...why would making fun of her be considered racist?

There's a Subway Restaurant commercial on TV now that makes fun of unhealthy fast food. I first saw it while walking the treadmill (which made it funnier) and watching Florida beat Oregon in basketball Sunday. Two people are in a car at a fast food drive thru, ordering...

Guy: "I'll have the love handles, the double chin and an order of blubber."
Voice from the Speaker: "Would you like the double blubber?"
Guy: "Sure"
Girl: "I'll have the same thing, but instead of the blubber can I get the thunder thighs and the badonkey donk butt?"

OK, from the context, I'm guessing it means big, but what's a badonkey donk butt and why is it called that, of all things?

L'il help?


fallout of recent events

First and by far most important, mom's fine. I called home last night and she answered the phone, which surprised me, but it was a good surprise. I talked to her, my dad and my brother. My brother said, "Yeah, she'd walking around with this bagof pain medication that's time released or something. I think it's morphine." Then he started calling it her "heroin bag."

"As long as she's got that heroin bag, she'll be fine. We'll see what happens when that goes away."

She was planning to make lasagne today though, with lots of help from my sister-in-law.

The ground floor of stately lumberyard manor is a mess. They didn't finish the tile yesterday, but they did enough to cover just about everything in dust and tile chips. I'm sure they'll get rid of the tile chips, but we may be weeks getting all the dust out. We pretty much lived upstairs last night...w'll everyone but me. the wife and mom-in-law went shopping and then watched TV in our bedroom. The youngster and I went out to eat and then he went to his room to watch TV or play computer games. I went to the gym and stayed there until it was time to say goodnight to the youngster, take a shower, take the dog out and go to sleep. Tonight I guess I'll be upstairs with everyone our very tiny makeshift apartment. I'm not expecting the first floor to improve for at least two more days.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

updates on stuff

Mom's doing great. The doctor said everything went well, and she was talking to everyone last night. She spent the night in the Chocolatetown, PA Medical Center and is supposed to go home today, though Dad's not too sure about that move.

Stately lumberyard manor is all prepped for the implements of destruction to show up today and floors to come up. Word has it the guys who are supposed to tear out the tile are there now, stirring up a dust storm. I'm toying with the idea of checking into a hotel 'til it's all done, but I don't think that'll go over too well.

How a typical lumberyard web surfing session goes...I heard about the Obama attack ad (link in a previous post) and went to You Tube to watch it. While there, the links next to said ad led me to watch a music video for The Fray's Over My Head (cable car), which then had a link to a version of that song by some accapella group from Harvard and Radcliffe. I watched them sing it and a link on the side then showed Jon Anderson (of Yes fame for you who remember the 70's) singing Time and a Word from something called School of Rock. Watched that, which led me to wax nostalgic and I went to BMG music to see what they had in the way of Yes music on CD, where I found a 35th anniversary 3 disc set....which led to this morning, listening to Your Move/All Good People on the way to work. Yes, February 1973...the first concert I ever went to, at Hershey Park Arena, (ticket price $3.50... I still have the stub,) just a few miles from where my mother spent last night...damn that took me back.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

tips for cycling beginners

Now that I've started doing this bicycling thing for a few weeks, I've learned some stuff. Some I've learned from asking questions. Some I've learned from experience. Some I got from meetings about this ride. Some falls under the TMI category, but hey...if nobody ever says anything, you too will suffer if you don't know better.

1) All my friends wanted to put me on a "comfort bike" for this trek. For those that don't know, a comfort bike is much like a road bike, but it has a wider seat with springs under it and shocks on the front and back forks, all in an effort to make the ride smoother. While all that is nice for a trip around the block, it's not nice for riding for a distance. As spartan as it may look, the skinny seat is more comfy for the long haul. You can get one with some of that gel padding in it (which is what I did), but stay with the skinny seat. The farther you go, the happier your legs and ass will be.

2) The clothes really do help. Those bike shorts do a lot more than show you (and everyone else) that your tush isn't quite where you want it yet. Yeah, they fit tight and one day might even be flattering, but they keep the sweat off you and the padding in the shorts takes a lot of the ride out of your ass. When I got home Saturday morning, I was dry. That wouldn't happen with cotton. The pockets on the back of the shirt are handy too, for a cell phone or extra water bottle, or whatever. This is one of those instances where I like having a cell phone with me. I haven't actually used it when I'm riding, but out there by myself, it's nice to know I could get in touch with someone if I had to.

3) Again on bike shorts - guys, stay away from white, unless you like the idea of leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination.

4) In the TMI category - I didn't really consider the "sports" aspect of this. Looking back I don't know why, but I didn't. Boxers or briefs won't cut it under those shorts. That whole chafing this is nasty...and it hurts too. A decent pair of bike shorts with padding material that cuts down on friction make a huge difference, and that's all you need. If you aren't already, get used to going commando.

5) If you're going to put one of those little milage thingies on your handle bars, mount it as close to the center (at the stalk) as possible. During a lengthy ride, your hands tend to want to move around a lot on the handle bars. Give them as much room to do that as you can.

6) On the subject of hands....riding gloves. I thought these were a luxury that wouldn't do much more than make me look like I should know what I'm doing. Wrong! These things make a long ride a lot easier on the hands, which are supporting a fair amount of your weight. Without them, your hands will take a blistery beating.

7) Again in the TMI category - Maybe it's just me...I dunno. Bring tissues. I don't have a cold. I'm perfectly fine when I'm not riding. When I get our there and the self-made wind starts blowing, my nose starts running. Last week I was unprepared, but since most of my route was on closed roads with construction going on, there are lots of porta-potties. While they smell like shit...literally, some of them have toilet paper. I made due. This week I was better prepared.

8) Gears on a ten speed bike. From the beginning I thought the onbject was to get to that tiny sprocket on the back tire as quick as comfortably possible. It's the one that takes the most effort, but gets you farther for each rotation of the pedals. I assumed that meant less work. I was wrong. You want to use less effort to pedal each rotation and go a little less distance. It won't burn your legs out as quickly and will actually make you go faster fora longer period of time. It also helps if you start riding in groups, because you can react to speed changes in the pace line faster and more safely.

If I think of more, I'll add to the list later, but these are things I wish someone would have told me when I started, or that I'm very glad they did.

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the weekend in review

The MS150 update - the wife bought me this little thing to stick on my bike that tells me how fast and how far I'm going, so now I can do more than guesstimate. The weather was a huge improvement over the week before and I set out, averaging between 16 and 17 miles an hour, all decked out in my new biking clothes. I went to the same spot I went last week and found my conservative estimate of 10 miles just about was 11 miles even. I wanted to get home and be able to say I rode 25 miles though, so I lengthened the trip home and finished at 27.3. Gotta tell ya though, it's a bit disheartening when you're out there trudging along, feeling pretty good about yourself when two real cyclists go blowing past you. They were nice enough to say "Good Morning" though, as they flew on by. That just let me know there's still a lot of work to do. Yeah, the thighs still ache a bit, but they'll get over it.

The Gators - as much as I was rooting for them, the downside will be listening to the obnoxious fans gloating all week. I should maybe pull for Georgetown, since they are the Big East representative in the final four, but I've never been able to like Georgetown, so why start now? I'd like to see the kids from Florida win. I just don't know if I can handle the fallout.

New wood floors are coming to stately lumberyard manor this week, so we spent the weekend moving a bunch of stuff as far away as possible. What's coming up is a combination of tile and carpet, and the tile part will cause a major dust storm. We figured whatever we don't move will have to be cleaned, so we moved as much as we could.

Last but not least, I've kept this out of my blog, until now. Those of you that make a practice of prayer, please pray for my mom today. She has breast cancer and is going in for a bilateral mastectomy, followed by immediate plastic surgery today. I talked to her last night and she's pretty upbeat. The house is full with some of her out of town friends, and my sister will be there this morning. I kinda wish I was too, but it's not in the cards. I'll be seeing her in a few weeks though.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

bits of stuff

The Houston Texans have traded for Atlanta quarterback Matt Schaub. Of now ex-starter, David Carr, they're saying, "We're hopeful he will continue his NFL career and be successful." Suuure you do. That's why you're looking for a place to dump him. You want him to be successful. Just not as successful as the new guy you traded for.

Let the jousting begin, as this "unauthorized" attack ad is now showing up on You Tube. I suppose places like You Tube will now make it a whole lot easier for a candidate to deny any involvement in stuff like this. It's also probably true, since anyone can post whatever they want there. I'm no Hillary fan, but this again makes my point of...why do we conclude that anyone who doesn't think exactly what we do isn't thinking at all?

As much as I pull for the Florida Gators because I live here, their fans still amaze me. These have to be some of the most obnoxious, ignorant, overbearing......uuuuuugggghhhh it drives me nuts. Their basketball team won the national championship last year. Their football team won the national championship this year. Their basketball team is in the sweet sixteen of the big dance. You'd think they'd be the happiest campers on earth...and yet they bitch. "The Gators played like crap and had to pull out second half victories to be where they are in the tournament." Excuse me, but they aren't playing Jacksonville Country Day School. This is a tournament of, what a group of people assembled as, a consensus sixty-four of the best teams in the country. If there were blowouts, you'd have to think they didn't do a very good job. It's supposed to be a struggle. The games are supposed to be nail biters. That's how it's set up. Ohio State last night had to come back strong in the second half to win their game. That's how it works in the tournament. Go bask in the fact that your team won the national championship in basketball and football at the same time....something nobody's done before. Quit whining about the tournament and enjoy the fact that you're still in it. That's more than a lot of us can say.

Tubby Smith's going to Minnesota. Ya know, if there's one group of people who can make Florida fans look humble, it's Kentucky basketball fans. This guy gave them a national championship, 5 SEC championships and consistently gets them into the NCAA tournament. No, they don't win it all the time, but they get there, and went 22-12 this season. Apparently, not good enough though, and Tubby's had enough of the bitchin' and moanin', leaving before he got fired. After the way they treated Tubby, I can't see anyone wanting to be thrown into that briar patch. Sure, come to Kentucky and coach, but if you don't get to the final four every year, we're going to boot your ass...good luck with that marketing campaign.

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how the other half lives

I'm not at all in favor of the Executive branch of our government refusing to make people available to testify in front of Congress, but let's not get all self righteous, kick the selective memory in, and pretend like this is the first administration to do that. I think it's wrong. I think it's wrong now and I thought it was wrong when the last administration did the same thing...or did we all forget the famous quote one unnamed spouse of a member of the Executive branch used to defend the move...

"We are the President!"

I remember thinking...What's this WE business? YOU ain't shit.

Looking back, I couldn't have been more wrong. I just hope we don't end up stepping in her.

Still Dubya, "but they did it" doesn't make it OK for you to do it too.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

songs stuck in my head

If we were a movie
You'd be the right guy
And I'd be the best friend
You'd fall in love with
In the end we'd be laughing
Watching the sunset
Fade to black
Show the names
Play the happy song.

Carpool can do ugly things to a man, and Radio Disney is the devil's spawn.


me and all my lumberyard friends

Got to thinking about the 'white guy' post yesterday, and what it'd be like to hang out with people just like me all the time...or anybody hanging out with people just like them all the time.

"I think I'll vote for Hillary."
"Me too."
"You got that right"

"I think Rush Limbaugh is the second coming of Jesus."
"Me too."
"You got that right"

"I think Rosie O'Donnell is so hot. Too bad she don't like guys."
"Me too."
"You got that right"

"I think we should pass a law saying it's illegal to be poor."
"Me too."
"You got that right"

"I think LeBron's better than Kobe."
"Me too."
"You got that right"

"I think the Jaguars should start Quinn Gray."
"Me too."
"You got that right"

"I think there's a huge difference between a duck."
"Me too."
"You got that right"

"I think I sound like an ass."
"Me too."
"You got that right"

Life could get really old really fast. No discussion, no real ideas, no debate, no stimulation, no friction, no dissention, just everyone living in agreement with whoever opens their mouth and spouts whatever. Thank God there's nobody else out there who thinks exactly like I do and...lucky for them...looks exactly like I do either.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

we just need a few more white guys

I like to think we, as a society, are moving forward...making progress. I like to think we don't pay near as much attention to the color of someone's skin as we do the content of their character. I like to think our consideration of other people has nothing to do with race, creed, color or political affiliation, and more to do with actions, conversation and how well they can keep a straight face while attempting to pull off a practical joke.

Every now and then, though, someone comes along and just takes a baseball bat to my half full glass.

This morning I'm listening to the sports talk guys. One of the Jaguars' players was pulled over in Tennessee for speeding and carrying an unlicensed gun, and the basic topic was...Do you care? Does it matter to you if your players have strong moral character? If so, how bad do they have to be before it would be a deciding factor in whether or not you'd support the team, buy tickets and jerseys and car flags and stuff? Do you just not care how much trouble they get in, as long as they win?

So this guy calls up and says (not a direct quote, because I can't remember, but I have the context), "If Florida is playing Butler in the NCAA Tournament, I pull for Florida, because I'm from Florida and that's who I identify with. If there's an NFL game between the Vikings and Redskins, and the star receiver for the Redskins is from Jacksonville, I'll root for the Redskins because I identify with him. So I'm a white guy. If the Jaguars had more white guys, I'd be more inclined to support them because I identify with white guys. Some people say that makes me a bigot, but I don't see it. I'm just more comfortable with people like me."

I get the geographic affiliation, wanting the Florida Gators to do well because you live here, because you see those guys on TV and hear them interviewed, and you start to feel like you know them. You pull for the team that represents your city...because they represent your city. The same goes for guys who come from your town. Where, though, do you make that leap to skin color? How do you take that concept of "guys who come from here" and transfer it to "guys who look a lot like I do?" How do you take the team that's representing your city and decide you don't want to support them because they don't have enough white guys? It's still your city and your team, and if you'd be otherwise inclined to support them, who cares what their skin color is?

I dunno. I like to think we're getting past crap like this, but every time I give us too much credit, someone comes along and proves me way too much an optimist.

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the weather is here; I wish you were beautiful

It's Players Championship week....or at least it would be if we were using the PGA Tour schedule of years past. It's the week right after the Bay Hill tournament (excuse me, the Arnold Palmer Invitational) when the best golfers in the world used to converge on J'ville....until now.

Now we're trying to position The Players to be a major and that doesn't happen when it's played right before the Masters and right in the middle of March Madness, so it's been Mothers' Day weekend. The clincher was last year's rain. It rained all during the tournament and everyone got this opinion that if the tournament moved to May, the weather would be much nicer.

In the meantime, a quick look around the North Florida's weather map this week shows a noticible absence of precipitation....and none looking like it's coming this way until sometime next week...and it's beautiful outside.

They demolished the clubhouse last year when the tournament ended and doesn't matter if they hold the tournament in March or May, we'll be ready. A quick look out there, even to the most casual observer, reveals a preponderance of dump trucks and construction stuff still going on, so I guess it really did matter.

I'm sure it'll be ready in May, but they couldn't ask for better weather than they would be having right now. In May we get the standard 3:00 p.m. thunderstorms, and it can get very hot. I'm assuming that can make the eye candy all that much sweeter, but I'd rather be watching golf in 78º weather and do a little girl watching than watch it in 95º weather and sweat like hell while watching some golf and more girls. Maybe it won't go down like that, but well see...on Mother's Day.

If you haven't guessed, I liked it when The Players was played in March. I understand the reasons for the move, and maybe my reasons for not moving it are purely selfish. I think the course looks beautiful and the weather, temperature-wise, is perfect in March. Granted, a lot of attention is diverted to March madness this time of year, so The Players isn't the focus of the sports world and it probably will be in May. Tiger won't be calling the tournament a great tune up for the Masters, like he has before. To me though, there was something special about Sawgrass in March, and I'll miss that.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

the weekend in review

First there's Villanova and the NCAA tournament...yeah, so much for that.

We went to the hockey game Friday night and saw the carpool kids play. The were on the ice between the first and second periods of the real game. One of them scored a goal and at the end of the thing, one of them (the littlest guy) staged a fight with a kid twice his size. It was pretty funny. The Jacksonville Barracudas, however, we're getting their asses handed to them by the Knoxville Ice Bears, so we left a bit early. We got home in time to see most of the Villanova/Kentucky game...Woooo I watched us go down in flames.

Saturday morning I got up early and went bike riding...maybe against my better judgement. I was determined to wear my new bike shorts (the ones with the ass padding) because the place I bought them from had them on sale, and the sale was ending this weekend. I wanted to make sure I liked them, because if I did, I knew I needed a second pair. This thing I'm working toward is a two day event and after asking a bunch of questions last week in a meeting, I came to the obvious (for most folks) conclusion that two sets of clothes will be necessary.

So, I went out in my new bike shorts was cold, and very windy. No, not snowing cold, but probably 40-ish, and there I am in skin tight very thin bike shorts with ass padding that is useless now, because I froze mine off. I threw on a windbreaker and decided to go for it. I went probably 10 miles out (a conservative estimimate, but what else would you expect here)...against the wind. The cold stopped bothering me as much as I went, but the wind was brutal, and I think the windbreaker was acting like a huge parachute behind me, which didn't help. No matter how hard I peddled, it felt like I was barely moving. The trip back was far more enjoyable, but by then my thighs were pretty spent...and I still feel them.

I went back to the bike shop and bought the second pair of shorts and a bike jersey. Again, they give us one for the ride, but you kinda need two, and this sale thing was on all apparrel, so I jumped on it. Then I came to a realization, but as I type this I came to a second...that the first realization is wrong. I was going to say this was the first clothing I ever bought that was so specialized I wouldn't wear it out in public doing anything else. Golf shirts, for example, I'll wear to play golf, but they work socializing with friends, going out to eat or just hanging out at home. Gym shorts will work to cut the grass and do lots of stuff around the house. Bike clothes though...are pretty much worthless off a bike. You don't go around town in shorts with ass padding and shirts with pockets on the back. As I thought though, I remembered back to my teens and twenties...and skiing...and I had clothes there I never wore anywhere else too, so I guess it's not a first.

On the sort-of good side...I've been an extra-large guy for at least the last 10 years, maybe more like 15. Every shirt I buy is XL, and they fit..a little loose maybe but they hang right and they fit. So I went into the bike shop and instinctively said...Shirt? Extra Large. They guy handed me a large and said, "Try this first", so I did. It was snug, but he said it should be, and looked me over and told me I don't want an exrta large. It's comfortably snug, but we still have some gut to work off. I know, you didn't need that visual, but I am working on it. So, maybe all this working out is actually making a difference, and maybe that's just how bike clothes are cut and I'm just getting flattered. In any case, it's the first shirt I've bought in a very long time where the size didn't start with an X.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Liberals, Conservatives, Ann Coulter, Anna Quindlen, CNN, FOX, naked Cats and Dogs sleeping together, all that stuff

Something I read here had me thinking a lot last night. Jessie E tends to do that to me on occasion. Unfortunately (for her, if anybody) I think where my derailed train of thought goes once she sparks it is nowhere near where anyone, including me, intended.

It led me to think about how people are quick to go telling us what's wrong with everyone else, and for whatever reason, can't see the same inadequacies in themselves. As of right now, the last blog entry in the above ling has another link within it to a Newsweek columnist. One who goes off a bit on Ann Coulter, and proclaiming her era of snarkiness just about over. I won't defend some of what Ms. Coulter does. I think she can be a bit over the top and purposfully goes a bit too far for shock value on occasion. What got me thinking though is, I read the opinion columns, and this snarky quality is nothing Ms. Coulter has a monopoly on. In fact, I think there's been far more ugliness coming from the other side of the fence ever since Dubya hit the White House. It makes me wonder if someone is proclaiming the snarky age over because people don't want to hear Ann Coulter, or because their favorite target is leaving office. Is it time to proclaim a truce because they think their guy or girl is about to have the target on their back? There's a piece of wishful thinking.

An example I like to use is, shortly after Bill Clinton got elected, bumber stickers started appearing that said something like "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Bush." Liberals got all offended and more bumber stickers appeared saying something like, "Clinton Won, Get Over It". Ahhh, the bumper sticker wars. So we fast forward to now, and Dubya gets elected. The next thing we see is bumper stickers that say "Is It 2008 Yet?" I guess it's only offensive when it's your guy who's being bashed.

As for Ms. Coulter. I understand she lobbed an anti-gay slur at some slick ambulance chasing trial lawyer slimeball masquerading as a presidential candidate (yeah, Jessie...that was for you, because your blood pressure needed a boost). From the column I gathered the sole reason for the comment was to thrust her back in the public eye. Did anyone stop to think who it would be that thrusts her there? Personally, I never would have heard about the comment if it wasn't for ABC, NBC, CNN and anyone else with a liberal agenda and a podium jumping up and down and telling me about it. I still don't know what she called him. I just know it was offensive. Out of curiosity, was it "butt slamming boy toy"? If they would have ignored the woman, it would have been the non-story they all want it to be. The only people giving it legs would be the liberal media. As I have said before, all these pundit people have the right to say what they want, and we have the right to consider the source.

Just like we don't seem to see the criticism we throw at others in ourselves, we don't see the good we see in us in those that don't think like we do. We see ourselves as rational people who look at all the facts and listen to opinions of others and formulate our own. We see everyone who doesn't agree with us as unthinking lazy sheep, led by some voice they unconditionally accept. While I'm sure some people act like that, the vast majority on either side of an issue don't. We just find it hard to believe because we assume, if someone thought it all out like we did, they'd have to come to the same conclusion, and that just ain't so. The concept of "But I'm right" carries a whole lotta weight...with you. Beyond you, it carries none.

And as I come to a close, I'll leave this for you to chew on. As much as Albert Gore seems to believe it's an inconvenient truth that we are slowly baking the earth, I think it's just as much of an inconvenient truth that we use words like "Abortion" and self-righteous phrases like "Right to Choose" to make us feel OK with the fact that we kill a bunch of innocent babies. I'm open minded enough to consider his point of view. I could be wrong, but I doubt he'd do the same for me.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

the perfect storm of scheduling

OK, way too much is happening tomorrow night. I have three things that all should demand my attention, or the attention of a family member, and they all happen at the same time.

Tomorrow night is the last Cotillion dance for the youngster. There are a total of four, for which we plunked down $100 so he could attend. I figured...$25 a pop, not so bad. That was then. Since then, the yongster went to the first dance, skipped the second, went to the third and was poised to go Friday of the car pool kids plays hockey, and gets to skate Friday night with the local minore league hockey team. His dad is giving us tickets, and the youngster is all pumped to go there instead of the dance. I know it's money long ago spent, but now I'm thinking back and pro-rating...$50 a dance??? Not such the great deal. If I'd have known this a year ago, we wouldn't have done this whole Cotillion thing. Heck, me playing golf ain't that expensive. But what do ya do? His buddy gets to skate with the Barracudas and he wants to go watch, and making him go to the dance won't make any of us happy. So I guess we're packing up the rolling video game and heading to the hockey game Friday night, which would be fine, except at 9:30 Friday night, the Wildcats play the Wildcats in the big March Madness dance and I should be in front of a television. I suppose I'll be missing that too. On top of that, I should be in the gym, but I'll ride a bunch of miles Saturday morning to make up for it.

I'm looking forward to the hockey game, and seeing one of my car pool charges skate with the Barracudas, but I want the youngster to go to the dance too, and I want to see Villanova play in March Madness too. Why can't some of this stuff happen on Saturday? On the good side, it gives me an excuse to break out my one and only hockey sweater, an original from the now defunct last minor league hocky team Jacksonville had...the Jacksonville Lizard Kings. The design went through a few iterations after I bought mine but the original was the best in my almost objective opinion. Haven't worn it in years, and it's way cooler than what the Barracudas have.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the Passion - the review

Ever since the youngster saw Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, he's been bugging us to rent and watch it. Being more of a Ferris Bueller guy, I was not all that enthusiastic. I mean, I know what I believe and all that, but watching someone get beaten and crucified isn't my idea of entertainment, and that's why I watch be entertained. I know what happened. I just don't want to watch it happen. It's already real enough for me.

But after a few weeks of, "When Dad? When are you going to watch The Passion with me?", I relented. He wasn't letting go of it, and since, for whatever reason, it was important to him for me to see it, I figured it's part of being a dad.

So last night we watched it and, to be honest, my opinion hasn't changed a whole lot. It was a hard movie to watch. It was very violent. I don't doubt that it was brutally honest and a realistic portrayal of what happened, maybe with some artistic license thrown in. I knew it would be. That doesn't make it something I want to, or feel compelled to watch. That, and the youngster spent the night on the floor next to our bed after assuring me that he would be OK watching it a second time.

The Spanish Inquisition, the Reign of Terror, the Holocaust, the Mei Lai Massacre...more moments where the human race hasn't performed very admirably. We've done some pretty stupid shit through the ages out of fear, ignorance, or whatever, and I'm not that anxious to watch any of them on the big screen.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

OK, I'm feeling really old now

R.E.M. gets in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. OUCH!

I don't begrudge Mr.'s Stipe, Mills, Buck and Berry the honor. I think they were an outrageously good band and deserve to be there. It's just...already?? I'm thinking the names going in that place should be of the Chuck Berry variety...maybe 70's bands like Led Zepplin at the latest, or early 80's, but not the Shiny Happy People....they weren't making music that long ago, were they?

I know I'm dating myself (again, because I'm one of the few who I could ask who'd say yes), but R.E.M.? Hall of Fame? Damn!


my least favorite week of the year

I so hate this week. Not because of anything except daylight savings time
The week we lose an hour of sleep totally messes with me, and it's about time we stopped that crap....or I'm going to have to move to of the few sane places on this earth where they don't buy in to this lunacy.

This year hasn't been as bad as some, just because I was off yesterday. The youngster had the day off, so I took it too. We went bike riding a bit, shopping a bit, made burgers for dinner and had a pretty decent day. Included in there was the ability to sleep past the normal work day alarm...and going to bed earlier the last two nights made the transition somewhat easier, but this morning still sucked...and most of this week will, until my body finally faces the fact that I won't let it sleep until it thinks it should. It will eventually stop protesting, but until then, I, like most of you (admit it, you're right there with me) will hate my alarm clock.

This week begins March Madness, which rocks my little world. I had a day off, which is always cool. The weather has been great so far. All of that, however, is offset by that alarm clock which insists on going off a full hour before it really should.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Do you know the way to San Jose?

So, my boys from Villanova are dancin'. I must be a bit on the pessimistic side, because I thought after their second round loss in the Big East tournament, they'd be a bubble team, but everything I heard over the weekend seemed to have them in the dance. Whenever the talking heads discussed teams who may or may not make it, my Wildcats weren't mentioned. What was odd was there seemed to be a bunch of least 20, who were bubble teams and part of their case for getting in the tournament was that they had a quality win over Villanova. I kept seeing that and many games did we lose? and, with all those losses, how can we still be in this thing?

So now we're in Chicago to play the other Wildcats...the more storied ones, from Kentucky, in hopes of eventually making it to San Jose and the final four. Last year we were favored to get there. This year we're more of an afterthought, but I'm hoping nonetheless.

Closer to home than San Jose, the methodical workouts to make the MS150 less stressful are still ongoing. I rode Saturday morning for at least 15 miles...probably a bit more and did the stationary bike for over 10 miles that night. I can still feel it in my thighs, but I'm thinking that's a good thing. It might mean they're getting in shape. At least I hope so. All this exercise stuff has to amount to something.

One thing I didn't know is we aren't unique in this bike ride for MS gig. There are similar rides all around the country, so if you're reading this and thinking, I want to do something like's your chance. If I can do it...believe me, with enough time to prepare, so can you.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

I'm no Superman

A ramble with cheese...

For whatever reasons, last night, the gym wasn't full of American Idol worshippers. In fact, it wasn't full at all. When I got there, I had the place to myself, so I had control of the TV.

My interest in the Big East tournament waned, since Villanova had already lost to Gerogetown, leaving my boys' future uncertain for post tournament play, and I had started watching My Name is Earl at home before I left, so I continued.. That was followed by a rerun of The Office, but since I hadn't seen it the first time around, it was new for me. For those that might have seen it before, it's the episode where Jim returns to the Scranton branch after the place he moved to closed. For those that didn't and didn't catch it last night, you probably don't care. The highlight of the show, though, was the take off on Lazy Sunday called Lazy Scranton. Michael and Dwight doing the rap thing was hilarious. That was followed by Scrubs. I love the theme song by Laslo Bane and the lyric, "I can't do this all on my own. I'm no Superman." All three were pretty funny and made the time pass quickly. Scrubs featured Resident Snoop Dogg, and at one point, included some background music - R.E.M.'s Half a World Away, which reminded me of the session they did for MTV's Unplugged in the early 90's, which I thought was great. I went serching when I got back home, but couldn't find where they ever released a CD version of it...I wonder why not. I taped it on cassette from the television when it aired on MTV in 1991. I just don't know what I did with the tape, and even if I found it, would rather have it on CD, if it existed.

My one beef last night was two college age girls, who showed up to exercise for all of 15 to 20 minutes. They turned one of the other TVs...some Friends episode, and turned the volume waaaaay up, so they could hear it over the TV I was watching....virtually anywhere in the place. That part I could deal with, because I could still hear the TV closest to me over the din. Then...they left...and the whole room is blaring Chandler and Monica and Joey and....yeah. I'm on the treadmill, and don't really want to interrupt what I'm doing just to turn off the TV. I guess I just could have used an ounce of consideration. I know...waaaahhhhhhhh.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

the Jaguars draft

Yeah, the draft is over a month away and I'm already obsessing. Keep the comments about my mental health to yourself. Nothing you can say will convince me I'm any more sick than I already know I am.

Every year I listen to the "experts" and I come up with, usually from the "expert" possibilities, the guy I think the Jaguars should take in the first round. So far I'm 1 for 12, and that one was the expansion year when they had the second overall pick. Every other year, the draft comes and the front office guys pick a player, and the vast majority of the time, it's nobody any of the experts mentioned. It's never my guy. It's someone I look at the tube (or listen to the radio if I'm out and about) and go "WHO??" Then I spend an hour or so on the internet finding out who this guy is and convincing myself that the coaches/scouts/front office people doing the picking really know what they're doing and I must have been crazy to want who I wanted. Of course, there was the year Larry Fitzgerald was on the board and the Jaguars picked Reggie Williams (I know...WHO??). Larry Fitzgerald is now lighting things up for a bad Arizona team, while Reggie Williams is still trying to string together sentences. I might have been right with that one, but time will tell. Matt Jones, I'm hoping eventually becomes more than a really tall guy who can run fast, as long as nobody touches him. I hope Marcedes Lewis actually sees noticable playing time...someday. Maybe then I'll see if he can play.

This year, so far, my guy is Reggie Nelson out of Florida. He makes sense to me on a whole lot of levels. Yeah, at the moment, the experts like him too, but consider he's a safety...and a very good one. The Jaguars, for whatever reason, let Deon Grant, last year's starter, go, so they need a safety. The knock on Nelson is he's suposedly not that great in run support, but our other safety, Donovin Darius, is. He's a great cover guy, which is one thing Darius doesn't do so well, so they compliment each other. Nelson played well last year. Despite the supposed knock for not stopping the run, he can hit and hit hard. He played well in front of a Jacksonville audience, since this place is bursting with obnoxious Gator fans. They already love this guy and would pay to watch him play on Sundays, so the move puts butts in seats, as well as filling a need. Maybe I'll change my mind in the next month, but right now I'm wondering why, since this is my guy, the Jaguars won't pick him, and how hard will it be to convince myself that whatever they do is a smarter move.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

smoking, bong water and other disgusting stuff

At work, we, like most business establishments, don't allow smoking inside the building. In Florida that is also true of restaurants. In fact, I was kind-of taken aback last summer when we traveled north and I can't remember where, but when we went out to eat, the hostess asked "How many in your party" and "Smoking or non-smoking?"

It had just been a long time since I was asked "Smoking or non-smoking?" because here there is no choice. If you're eating, your not smoking. In fact, it's one of the things that drove me to quit 10 years ago. Smoking got so inconvenient that it just stopped being worth the hassle. I understand since then, it's also gotten very expensive. I didn't know how expensive until I was filling out a credit application for the new car last summer. After listing the mortgage and any other outstanding debt, it asked if I smoked and, if so, what was the annual cigarette budget. Well no, that's a lie, but it wouldn't surprise me.

That wasn't what I wanted to talk about though. I just got off on the restaurant tangent. I wanted to talk about smoking and work.

Like I said, here, you have to go outside if you want to smoke. Unfortunately for me, the smoking congregation point is very near our front door, and in the course of the day, I travel between buildings a lot. There's an ash tray thing there that's very small and cylindrical on the top with holes going down the sides so you can flick your ashes in it. The skinny cylinder goes to the floor, where it broadens out to hold more ashes. Best as I can figure, there's rain water or something in there mixed with all the ashes, because every time I walk by that thing, the aroma of bong water hits my nose. It's very nasty. I wish they'd move it elsewhere, but I guess I'm stuck with it for now. That smell just doesn't go away. Oh, and I know what you're thinking. Yes, I went to college and though I forgot what bong water smells like, when that ash tray started stinking, the memories came roaring back.


quick hits on hump day

Rumor has it Barack Obama's great great great grandfather's dog's breeder's third cousin on his caucasian side owned slaves. So what? I don't know if I like this guy or not, but I know whatever happened a hundred and fifty years ago won't factor into the decision. I think it's more ironically amusing that Al Sharpton and Strom Thurman might actually be cousins, but again, it has no bearing on anything outside a game of Trivial Pursuit. Come to think of it, it probably has no bearing inside one either.

The Jaguars bought a right tackle and a receiver in free agency that they hope can bring some respect to the passing game. Time will tell if bringing in Dennis Northcutt helps, but at least I know they're trying. I listened to an interview with Tony Pashos and he's got a bit of a proud and nasty attitude. I like that. Maybe he will help pull the offensive line together. At least I don't think we stayed stagnant or got worse. I am unhappy that we let Kyle Brady go to the Patriots. They guy is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, but the Patriots were willing to pay him more, so he's gone.

My little team school from mainline Philly is fighting for its chance to play in the big dance. They were far more talented last year but they could still make the field if they play well in the Big East Tournament, starting at noon today. If they go one and done though, I wouldn't be surprised to see them go to the N.I.T. instead.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

an MS150 update

I sent an e-mail to the one guy who said he'd do this with me to tell him I was going on a trial run Saturday morning. I basically said 7:00, 15 miles from First Street to Last Street and back. Ready?

He informed me that a) he can't do the actual ride because after checking his calendar, he will be out of the country then. He and his wife are going to Italy. b) he still wants to train with me. c) 7:00 is much to early though, how about 8:00? d) 15 miles is a bit ambitious to start, how about we try something a little shorter?

I figured 8:00 is fine, and since I really didn't know what I was saying when I said 15 miles...sure, we can do something less. I mean, I measured out 15 miles, but I didn't really know what it'd feel like.

So, Saturday morning, we rode. We did his little course, which measured about 3 miles, but both wanted to go more, so we did a fair portion of what I had mapped out, and then did a few laps around the neighborhood. Altogether, we rode for a little over an hour, so I figure somewhere over 10 miles. When we finished, I wasn't even winded. I think I could have done it all again pretty easily. I definitely know now, the stationary bike thing in the gym is far more difficult than a real bike, especially if you program it for more resistence than I'll ever feel on the road here....I mean, Northeast Florida is flat. The highest point in J'ville is a speed bump at the mall. After that though, I have no qualms about trying 20 miles.

I learned I need a helmet. I knew I had to have one for the real ride, and I had one. It's a rollerblading helmet that I figured would make due. Well, it's not comfortable for an hour. It has velcro places to put extra pads in, but I don't need extra pads in the front, so there's a piece of cloth covering the plastic velcro place there. That piece of cloth felt non-existent, as the plastic velcro stuff started digging into my forehead. I knew 10 minutes in that wouldn't cut it.

So I went to a bike shop and just told the guy, I'm planning to ride in the MS150, I have a Trek road bike I bought in 1984 that's in good shape, but I have nothing else. What do I need?

I think I actually saw the dollar signs light up in his eyes. He had me all geared up and suggested everything under the sun. I got a new seat - one with some ass padding. I got a helmet - a comfy one but middle of the road, pricewise. I got some gloves and some bike shorts, with ass padding. I've already figured out you can't have too much ass padding, no matter how much you come by naturally (especially since the harder I work at this, the less of that I hope to have). I passed on the mounts for 3 extra water bottles, and the accompanying water bottles, the bike rider shirt, bike rider shoes and the new $1,600 bike with the carbon fiber something-or-other frame that weighs 17 pounds. The old bike will get me there and back.

So far nobody who I thought might do this with me from the neighborhood is pulling through. The one person who was enthusiastic is the guy I rode with Saturday but won't be here. The other guy, whose wife volunteered him and has done this sort of thing before quite a while ago, has a mountain bike, and doesn't want to try it on that. He's not about to buy a new bike just to follow my dream, and I don't blame him.

So that's where we stand, though we aren't standing for long. We're moving forward.


Monday, March 05, 2007

you mean I have a choice?

Our heat died last night.

Well, it's not as bad as all that. The heat died upstairs, which happens to be where all the bedrooms are. The unit will still produce heat, but the fan stopped working, so it shuts down as soon as you start it. It could be a lot worse. It could have happened a few weeks ago when we had the real cold snap, or we could be in Maine. It's chilly now, but we survived the night.

Now comes the fun. We called the heating and air people this morning to get them to come and fix it and the first question they ask is, "It'll be a minimum of a bazillion dollars to come and look at it and then whatever else on top of that. Will that be alright?"

What do you mean, will that be alright?

I need heat. I need the system to work. I have a feeling there's an electrical issue in there somewhere which opens me up for...oh, I dunno..maybe an electrical fire, or something equally ugly. So, if I say no, that's not alright, what happens? Does that mean you say, "OK then, Mr. Lumberyard, if that's not alright, we'll just knock off that bazillion dollar service charge. Is that better for you?"

Is there a way to say no to that and still have you come out and fix my stuff? Do I have that choice? I didn't think so. You have me by the short hairs and you know it, so stop being so damn polite about it. Just tell me you'll be wiping out my checking account in the process of fixing my heater and let's be done with it.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Free agency begins...

..and The Jaguars are making about as big a splash in the world as I am with this blog nada.

I, like every football fan in the country, want my team to go out there and throw money at all the impact players who could possibly help my team win. I want all the holes filled, all the weaknesses eliminated and all the positions upgraded...but...

Well, our quarterback is average. He seems to have potential to be more than that, but hasn't fulfilled it yet, but there's nobody available out there better. You can't go get what doesn't exist.

Our receiving corps...average...maybe less than average, and that despite using our first round draft pick the last three years on guys who are supposed to catch the ball. Still, our recievers are not a strength of the Jaguar team, but again, there's nobody better out there worth running out and getting.

So what we have is a team that went 8 and 8 last year, which is hardly impressive, and as the period begins in which you address the fact that you went 8 and 8, I expect absolutely nothing.

It's just a bit strange, and very frustrating.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

people change, and the past is water under the bridge

I have siblings, and they all live way north of me.

I have a brother and sister who live in the Philadelphia suburbs and a brother in North/Central Jersey who works in "the city" (as if there is no other).

My brother who lives outside Philly took a while to grow up. He got himself in early trouble with the law for drug and alcohol issues, which culminated in a 2 week stint in jail at one time, followed by rehab. Apparently, for him, that was what it took to wake up, because he left that experience saying he never wanted to go through anything like it again, and to my knowledge, he's straightened himself out nicely. That all happened about 10 - 15 years ago, and I don't think he's had a drink since. Yes, at the time, it was a painful thing for all of us. You could never rely on him for anything and my parents kept "lending" him money, never expecting to see it again. You'd talk to him and he'd tell you he'd do something you needed him to do and then...just when you hoped this time he'd come through, he'd disappoint again. I asked him to do things for no other reason than to give him a chance to show he'd changed, and got burned quite a bit. For example, I asked him to be the youngster's godfather at his baptism, and he agreed and seemed excited. I felt guilty making backup plans, but I felt like I had better do that, just in case. In the end, those plans came in handy, because he blew us all off...again.

That was 13 years ago though, and a lot has changed since then. To start with, there was the whole jail/rehab thing, and when he got finished with that, he got a great job that he's had since then, and met a woman who helped him turn his life around. He married that woman, who had a daughter from a previous relationship...and he helped put that daughter through college. I know one time, talking to my mom, she mentioned he was paying back all the money they gave him. He and his family are great people, and I'm happy with who my brother has become. I love spending time with them when I'm up there. He and I are good friends. We talk on the phone every now and then. He's like the prodigal son/ everyone except my sister.

She lives less than a half hour drive from him, yet they never see each other. My brother does Christmas at his house each year. My parents drive two hours to get there. My other brother drives about the same. My sister won't go. She still can't get past his past, and is still looking for ways to punish him for it all. She won't let go of the pain and disappointment he gave everyone 15 years ago, and while I acknowledge that he did those things for a long time, he's trying to make up for it. To do that though, we all have to give him that opportunity. I have, and it's been at least as much a gift to me as it has to him. I have my brother back. My sister...I feel sorry for her. She's losing her chance to have that. One day, I hope she figures that out, and gets back some of what she's throwing away.