Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Traditions: part six

Christmas Day sees much the same… however, this time we do it all at with relatives and we tend to have a bar available for a tasty libation steady my reflexes and stiffen my resolve. I consider myself clever and intuitive if the present I give my father to yield a “Hmm,” with a nod. This has occurred precisely once… and that doesn’t disappoint me, in fact, one time in the span of my adulthood to be quite a feat. This year might well see similar results. Should we have sufficient snow I might use last year’s Christmas present (from my sister and her cool boyfriend) to cross-country ski.

Regardless, we’ll go home tired, worn out, and in need of a vacation. However, I’ll go back to work Wednesday in the hopes that all of my clients have taken the rest of the week off. With a post-Christmas light load at work I might just be able to finish my Christmas shopping.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Traditions: part five

The week of Christmas, the D&B puts up our stockings… which is a relief since I have no idea where in the Hell the damn things go when we store them or how they get hung up during Christmas. She’s not keeping secrets… she just knows, much like I just know how to put away all of the boy’s Thomas trains and rolling stock.

Of course, even she isn't immune to the tradition of dropping the ball on Christmas traditions... she's putting the stockings up right now as I blog. To make this more interesting, I didn't get anything for her stocking. I got her a few extra things for the Advent calendar-box-thingy-with-doors... I suppose that counts.

Christmas Eve sees a flurry of activity. Driving off to someone’s house. Driving back home after halfway to the destination because we forgot some presents. Hastily wrapping yet another forgotten present. Rushing off to a gas station to fill up. Filling out the cards in the car… with bumpy handwriting. Church at a mammoth church… either getting there early and waiting, or getting there on time and wandering around to find a seat. These days the boy gets too antsy… just like his old man, but with two of us we manage to get out and walk around. Somehow we find our car, then after about seven hours we start pulling out of the parking lot. Back to our relatives for diner… somehow there is no bar that I notice. Ever. We used to go out for diner… T.G.I. Friday’s, believe it or not. (I cannot say anything about this previous tradition without getting hit by my wife on behalf of her family.)

After eating we of course open presents… and the boy loves to help unwrap everything as well as throw away the wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows. After a little relaxing (again, without a tasty libation) we then rush out to get the boy home and into bed and the wife ready to go sing at our church. We also need to haul a few bags out of the car… and dump them unceremoniously inside somewhere with a few wrapped items (from Santa) prepared to be tucked under the tree as soon as a safe time appears.

The wife is out and the boy is asleep. Ah, Christmas time for Daddy. That means either I author a DVD for the new episode of Doctor Who as I've got folks counting on me, or I watch something fun on DVD.

Oh, shit! More last minute presents to wrap!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Traditions: part four

Over the course of the Christmas season we also have a little case with twenty-five doors… it isn’t really an Advent calendar (although, I think Target believes it is), but it is close enough. It marks all of the days of December until Christmas in white with Christmas in red. We put little surprises behind each door… if we remember to do it. Some days are for the boy, some for me, some for the wife, some for the wife and me, and some for all three of us. Chocolate coins (otherwise known as Gelt), money, toy cars, magnets, candles, flowers… a little something to say “Whoo-hoo… it’s Christmas soon!”

More accurately, “Whoo-hoo… it’s chocolate, let’s eat it!”

Even more accurately, “Whoo-hoo… it’s a candle… let’s burn it!”

Candle. Aw, damn... forgot the Advent wreath again.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Traditions: part three

As a movie fan, I prepare our Christmas viewing list. This involves me taking unsolicited suggestions from the D&B and turning them down while I try to select something, anything, worthwhile. I include a number of Christmas related television shows such as “The Blue Carbuncle” from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes featuring the incomparable Jeremy Brett. The D&B always turns this down in spite of the fact that I select the material. We always agree that we always watch “A Christmas Story” and “Scrooged” so we always agree to turn them down… however, if any part of those films appears on television we sit hooked for at least two scenes even though we have them ready to watch at a moment’s notice in splendid wide screen format.

A couple of years back I made special arrangements to watch a version of “Scrooge” highly recommended to me by a dear friend… the version with Alastair Sim. It is quite good, and as my friend insists it is rare in so far that you can believe the transformation Scrooge undergoes through the visits with the ghosts. I had to watch it without the wife since she wasn’t sold on watching yet another version of “A Christmas Carol”. Over the last few years we’ve been greatly surprised to discover that Patrick Stewart’s version (with Richard E. Grant!) isn’t very good although George C. Scott’s version (with David Warner!!!) is worth viewing again.

At least one television show gets watched on Christmas morning… “Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean”. If we’re lucky we also watch “The Season of Goodwill” from Bless Me Father. Maybe “Blackadder’s Christmas Carol”. As soon as the episode is available (typically in the evening) we also watch the new Doctor Who Christmas special. (This year, “Voyage of the Damned” appears to be a sci-fi disaster movie with a luxury spaceship designed to look like a titanic S.S. Titanic, golden robots in the form of angels, and an imminent crash into Windsor Palace.)


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Traditions: part two

After the tree, the wife puts up the garland, purchased from a family friend. They cover the outdoor railings and will probably be up until they turn a little brown… and the nettles fall off merely from someone looking at them briefly. I’d say around April. She also puts up the indoor garland (meaning fake) on the china cabinet.

We also set up our Advent wreath and candles. Some times we even do it on the first day of Advent. Occasionally, we even light them up on the right days.

With a tree in place, out come the boxes of decorations. I prefer to buy a new set of ornaments each year or every other year. Perhaps five years ago I found a nice set of small lanterns that evoke a Victorian house light. I only picked up four… should have picked up six, especially since I broke one this year.
“Daddy destroyed one, Mamma… but it was an accident.”
The boy wanted to pick up the broken glass, and he loves to maintain his reputation as a Really Useful Engine. Daddy, however, prefers to diminish his reputation as a “careless jackass” [the boy just said, "That's you, Daddy,"] and as a “toddler injuring moron”. (About a year ago, he fell down… head first… on to a die-cast caboose… in his hand… as he was running… pretending to be Sheriff from “Cars”… chasing me as Lightning McQueen. That’s three stitches.) He didn’t touch a thing… but I still broke one of my favorite ornaments.

Anyway, we put on The Rat Pack Christmas album (with Sinatra’s “Mistletoe and Holly”) as well as the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Christmas album (with a great rendition of “Oh, Holy Night”). Between the D&B and I (with plenty of coaching and offers of help from the boy) we get the lights up. For the first time in many years (probably since I was a kid) my tree has multicolored lights. Typically, we have all white as it goes great with our cranberry colored string of beads. The boy wanted multicolored lights… and they look nostalgic.

For the first time ever I decided to bedeck the fake garland with ornaments. I didn’t want to put up the homemade ornaments this year… no offense to my nephew, but they really are not holding up anymore. The wife insisted, so I suggested the china cabinet. They look nice. Not only that, a few other decorations and it really looks nice.

My other favorite ornaments include Spider-Man hanging upside-down, a pair of long and dangly pieces with cranberry and gold bits that look like earrings worn by Goliath’s older sister for prom in 1987, and an old sailing ship in a globe. We also have a very nice wooden Father Christmas, a pyramid of tiny martini glasses, a swanky reindeer in a pin-stripe suit and a cigar, and a swanky reindeeress in a fur wrap. We also have a red English phone booth… and we’re looking for a blue police box, too. With luck, and a little more patience than I exhibited this year, they will all last until the boy reaches eight.

We prefer to put up a few ornaments at a time so we can gradually build up a nice looking tree over the span of a week. Fortunately, that tradition works well and it helps to cut down the frantic rush to get everything perfect in one night. However, it does tend to mean that a couple of ornament boxes sit around.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Traditions: part one

Christmas traditions at the Badda household consist of several wonderful activities. Perhaps you practice some of the same.

On or shortly after Thanksgiving we start talking about our annual trip to the Revak Nursery. My Dutiful & Beautiful Mrs. Badda started going years before I entered the picture. Interestingly, one of my cousins ended up marrying a gal who occasionally works there. I think she said she still comes in once a year to help out. In any case, we cut down our own tree from those folks more often than not. In the eight years we’ve been getting trees as a married couple we’ve only picked up a tree from the local Boy Scouts twice.

We talk about the tree so we have one on the first or second weekend of December. I prefer to have it on or around the day of Saint Nicholas. Of course, we don’t always get the tree by that time. In fact, the tradition is that we put it off, for various lame reasons, until the week before Christmas. (The two trees from the Boy Scouts… days before Christmas.)

A recent tradition sends us to my family farm where we get a nice tree for outside. We even looked for a few trees before Thanksgiving. Some of them looked perfect. Technically, they still do as they are still in the ground up at the farm. Of course, without that little tradition we’re also going to miss another comedy of errors… the outside tree constantly blown down by harsh winter winds. There’s nothing like seeing a tree on its side in front of a half-decorated house (yet another great tradition). This year, we wanted to put the tree outside the boy’s window with plenty of lights and a light dusting of snow. We didn’t tell him so it could be a surprise… and when we actually put it up it will be a surprise.

Next year, I suspect.


I've Been Saying This For Years

This often comes up, that you need to drink six, eight, or more glasses of water every day. Every time I hear it I ask from where the suggestion comes. "Studies show...". Okay, what studies? Where is it?

I've looked at Culligan brochures... they mention no study. In fact, whenever I see mail from a company that provides water I cannot find any link, any source, and sited information that confirms that you need to drink 64 ounces of water daily.

I usually tell folks to visit Snopes. Now, Yahoo News has this little feature story:
"There is no medical evidence to suggest that you need that much water," said Dr. Rachel Vreeman, a pediatrics research fellow at the university and co-author of the journal article. Vreeman thinks this myth can be traced back to a 1945 recommendation from the Nutrition Council that a person consume the equivalent of 8 glasses (64 ounces) of fluid a day. Over the years, "fluid" turned to water. But fruits and vegetables, plus coffee and other liquids, count.

So, when should you drink? When you are thirsty, or when you want to drink.

That ain't rocket science.

"But my skin is so dry!" Fine, drink some water if you like, but perhaps you should also use some lotion, take a shower, go for a swim, or use a gentle soap.

Now, if you decide to have a vodka sour, a vodka tonic, a vodka gimlet, or a screwdriver with freshly squeezed orange juice make sure you give me a call first.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Strib Letter: Pay More Taxes

Paging Jason Lewis! Minnesota's Mr. Right to the white courtesy phone!

Apparently there is no problem with taxes in Minnesota... other than the problem that we do not pay enough taxes.

That according to a reader of the Star-Tribune.

Under-funding for the common good has to stop

Thank you, John S. Adams. Your Dec. 8 column on budget planning should be required reading by the governor, the Legislature and the antithetically named Taxpayers League.

For too long now, since President Ronald Reagan nationally, and Govs. Jesse Ventura and Tim Pawlenty at the state level, our leaders have promoted tax cuts and "no new taxes" as the utopian ideal. Actually, the reverse is true.

Ironically, the people most likely to trumpet American exceptionalism are the very same people who do not want to fund America. At some point, for example, the absence of additional public funding for our colleges and universities will price our future doctors, engineers, et al., out of the market at a time when places like China and India are becoming increasingly competitive in these areas. And the idea at the state level that we must continually cut taxes for business-friendly purposes has always been wrong on its face. If it were true, all businesses long ago would have moved to the low-tax states. In actuality, it's the higher-tax states that attract business because it shows the electorate is willing to finance and maintain the infrastructure -- from education to transportation -- necessary for the operation of successful businesses.

If we continue to under-fund for the common good to the extent we have for the last 40 years, we can be sure that American (or Minnesota) exceptionalism will be relegated to the dustbin of history in the not too distant future.

Uh, yeah.

Say Tom... if you were paid $50,000 annually, but you had expenses for $75,000 would you simply say you were not paid enough and demand that your ungratful employer cough up the money?

After all, it isn't your fault that you spend more than you earn, right?

Additional insight gems from Tom Obert:
Another Tom Obert letter to the Strib.

Anti-Strib (specifically Brent) on a
Tom Obert letter to the Strib. (Tom Obert doesn't understand that roads are used for the market much more than Governor Turnbuckle's light-rail... unless Mr. Obert often sees folks hauling cargo on the people-killing Hiawatha line.)

More from Tom Obert.

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Music of Your Life

From Berg's corner of the universe I found one of those meme things that I don't usually take the time to fill out. However, this caught my attention and got me thinking straight away.

  1. What’s your favorite song about growing up?
  2. Probably "New World Man" by Rush. Strictly speaking it isn't a song about growing up, but it always makes me think about the follies of youth (and mine in particular) as well as potential.

    I also think of a little known song ("Don't Wait for Heroes") from Dennis DeYoung's first solo album with the lyric, "Winners are losers that got up and gave it just one more try".

  3. What’s your favorite song about cars or driving?
  4. Flash mentions "Red Barchetta" (also from Rush) in Berg's comment section. I'm going to second that... the music of Rush made a big impact on my youth for one reason or another.

    I'm also reminded of a song about a WW II fighter pilot... "Aces High" by Iron Maiden. A healthy dose of speed, adrenaline, drive, and "do or die" from the rhythm section (Nicko McBrain and Steve "'Arry" Harris"). It's great on the album, but hearing it (recorded) live with the recording of Sir Winston Churchill's "We shall never surrender" speech.

  5. What’s your favorite song whose title is a person’s name?
  6. Maybe "Buck's Boogie"... typically played live by Blue Öyster Cult, although a studio version of the song was released on the remastered version of their Tyranny and Mutation album. The song has no lyrics, and it needs none. Then again "The Revenge of Vera Gemini" and "Joan Crawford", also by BÖC, rank high for me.

  7. What’s your favorite get-up-and-dance song?
  8. This really is a toss up, and also belies the era of my youth... "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive, something from Duran Duran, something from Prince, or even (wince) "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung.

  9. What’s your favorite novelty song?
  10. As I mentioned in Mitch's comment section I have to narrow it down between Weird Al (who has several great novelty songs) with "Dare to be Stupid", Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper with "Elvis is Everywhere", and Jump n' the Saddle with "The Curly Shuffle". Tough call... they are all great.

    Iron Maiden made a few novelty songs of their own on various B-sides... "The Sheriff of Huddersfield" being their best. It was more of an in-joke on their manager at Sanctuary, Rod Smallwood, and his move to (and from) Los Angeles, California. Somehow they kept it secret from Rodney and unveiled it at some party for the album's release.
For alternative answers, I'll just engage the Sinatra Circuits:
[Old School mode]
  1. What’s your favorite song about growing up? Sinatra's version of "It Was a Very Good Year". Possibly the Tony Bennett version of "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)"... if you can call it a song about growing up. It is more of a song about learning about women from the school of hard knocks.
  2. What’s your favorite song about cars or driving?
  3. "Come Fly With Me" or perhaps "Mustang Sally".

  4. What’s your favorite song whose title is a person’s name?
  5. "Mustang Sally" again... and that version in "The Commitments" is damn good.

  6. What’s your favorite get-up-and-dance song?
  7. Without a doubt, should my wife and I hear "Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong we immediate get up and dance. Obviously, not a dance party song, but we love it. I should have put this song on the list above. Maybe Irving Berlin's "Steppin' Out With My Baby" or "Cheek to Cheek" by Tony Bennett.

  8. What’s your favorite novelty song?
  9. Dean Martin singing "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" (with the follow-up line "I do my drinking in the evening time when I'm in Las Vegas" as well as additional parody lyrics), Cole Porter's "I Love Paris" as I Love Vegas, and "Pennies From Heaven" as "Bourbon From Heaven".
[/Sinatra mode]

Monday, December 17, 2007

Following Guns, Smokes, and Fat

Who would have thought that after our government hand-wringers started wagging their official fingers at guns, tobacco, and fat they would focus on a new target?

SF Considers a Tax on Sugary Drinks
For years, the idea of taxing soda to beat back obesity has been tossed around in medical circles. But now, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is proposing a tax on beverages high in fructose corn syrup.

Newsom says obesity accounts for tens of millions of dollars in city health care costs. He cites a recent San Francisco Health Department survey that found nearly a quarter of the city's 5th, 7th and 9th graders were overweight and that high sugar drinks make up a tenth of a kid's daily calorie count.

Newsom reportedly wants all big box retailers and chain drug stores to pay into his new "Shape up San Francisco" program, which started this past summer with a walking regimen.

This comes as the state of California is considering slapping caffeine-infused sodas, and energy drinks with warning labels, saying consumption can contribute to diabetes.
If I were interested in changing the subject, I'd wonder aloud whether or not Mayor Newsom wants to tax adultery.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's re-election campaign manager resigned Wednesday after confronting the mayor about an affair Newsom had with his wife while she worked in the mayor's office, City Hall sources said.

Alex Tourk, 39, who served as Newsom's deputy chief of staff before becoming his campaign manager in September, confronted the mayor after his wife, Ruby Rippey-Tourk, told him of the affair as part of a rehabilitation program she had been undergoing for substance abuse, said the sources, who had direct knowledge of Wednesday's meeting.
He even looked for treatment for alcohol abuse following that story.

The mayor also faced scrutiny late last year for bringing a then 20-year-old woman out on dates, where she was reportedly seen drinking what appeared to be alcohol.
However, that is irrelevant. (Even if it was a media-dodge.)

Back to the topic. The mayor doesn't like kids drinking sweet drinks.

After banning plastic bags from chain grocery stores and bottled water from City Hall...

Now Newsom wants the soda sellers - primarily big-box retailers and chain drugstores - to chip in for his "Shape Up San Francisco" program and for media campaigns to discourage the soda habit.

The size of the fee (it won't be billed as a tax) is being worked out, but it may include a sweetener - namely giving the stores some other kind of fee break.
A fee... not a tax. Hmmm. Governor Pawlenty, call on Line One from San Fran.

"Shape Up San Francisco"? This is part of government's responsibility... how? If he were really interested in the health of citizens maybe they would focus on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases.

According to the press release from last Spring:

The Mayor will issue an Executive Order adopting the Shape Up at Work Standards and directing City departments to incorporate the standards as well as worksite wellness into each department’s goals and objectives.
I can hear Soucheray's bit with Buddy or the German right now.

For Christ's sake, just do what the government used to do, if you need to do anything at all... have the Department of Education hand out fitness awards for kids who aren't fat.

With all of that clap-trap, can you guess what else he likes (other than his employees' wives)? unprecedented program called "San Francisco Health Access Plan," which Newsom hammered out with labor, business, and city leaders. More than 82,000 San Franciscans who lack health insurance and do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid stand to benefit. The majority are employed adults (children already have access to subsidized care); others are unemployed, self-employed, homeless, or have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, AIDS or cancer; some are even undocumented (yes: illegal) workers. Starting in early 2007, every uninsured San Franciscan can seek comprehensive primary care at the city's public and private clinics and hospitals, including top research facilities like the University of California at San Francisco. Coverage includes lab work, prescriptions, X rays, hospitalization and surgery. Annual funding for the $203 million program will come from re-routed city funds (including $104 million that now goes toward uninsured care via emergency rooms and clinics), business contributions and individual enrollment fees, which will be income-adjusted.

Newsom considers San Francisco's historic undertaking a "moral obligation," one that other city, state and federal officials have shirked. "We are implementing this. We're not waiting around," he told TIME. "It's no longer good enough to explain away our problem and to point fingers."...
[Mayor Newsom] called just about every lobbyist and special interest in town seeking money to defeat Proposition E, a ballot measure put before voters last month by his chief nemesis, Supervisor Chris Daly.

The measure, which lost, would have required Newsom to submit to a once-a-month "question time." According to records on file with the city Ethics Commission, Newsom raised some $194,000 to defeat it.
Although I'm breathing a sigh of relief for living in Minnesota... this stuff always seems to wash in with the tide eventually.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Pioneer Press Letter: Differences?

I wonder if the writer of the following letter knows the difference between the people she's talking about.
Follow the money

Let's read some more information in the Pioneer Press about William McGuire, UnitedHealth, the other CEOs, CFOs and COs who have received grotesquely inflated income and backdated stock options.

Haven't we heard enough about Sonia Morphew Pitt?

For example, where will this money be returned, and will it include income realized on these amounts? Will it be returned to UnitedHealth to line others' pockets?


West St. Paul

Is there a difference between Sonia Morphew Pitt (formerly of the Minnesota Department of Transportation) and the various chief officers of publicly traded companies?

Speaking of UnitedHealth, a high level government employee who may or may not work with the Attorney General's office refered to it and similar companies as The Dark Side. Neat... if you're a Commie.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cartoon Search

Getting a lot of hits from folks looking for cartoons... and possibly the Islam cartoons and Mohammad cartoons. This interesting traffic has been coming for well over two months, and probably longer. (Of course, it doesn't beat the Barney Lakner and BWCA Jackass traffic... that stuff still ranks pretty high.)

Just for fun, click the link to see a variety of Islam cartoons that pop up when you search Google Images. This cartoon was pretty good. This isn't bad either.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Strib Letter: Sense at Last

It isn't often that you hear sense in a Letter to the Editor at the Star-Tribune... especially since most of the readers are still coming down from numerous hits from Nick Coleman's homemade bong.

Occasionally, you find someone who understands the founding of our country who can hold back the gag reflex while reading the Strib.
Your fire bothers me

And so it goes. We are happy and content that the government can protect us from the evils of smoking, whether we need protection or not. How nice it is that there is someone ready to insist on protection from the evils of wood smoke as well (Opinion Exchange, Dec. 5).

There can be no doubt wood smoke is a new and pressing danger, a direct threat to modern man. After all, it has only been around since the discovery of fire! How sad that we refuse to remember the Founding Fathers' idea that government intervention in our lives should be kept to a minimum. It all seems so beneficial or at least harmless, until they ban something dear to you.

Jim of the Anti-Strib mentioned something about the woman behind the proposed wood burning ban... and he mentioned a few folks who were interested. I hope his like minded folks carry out their plan... I might even make some time for the little caper myself. Just take a look and see if Julie Mellum is a little goofy... she's part of a group that calls itself Take Back the Air. (More than just a little pompous?) As the Anti-Strib mentions, Julie Mellum sells houses for Coldwell Banker. Would you be surprised to learn that she sells houses with fireplaces?

Someone ought to call her and her hive and offer to give them as much wind as they can spare. (She already has enough hot air blowing around.)

Now since Mr. Sundberg mentioned the Founders I'll add a nice little resource.

The Constitution.
The Bill of Rights.
The Constitution of the State of Minnesota.


Welcome to the Fold, Mr. Hadley

Ah, I get to repeat myself.
Earlier this year, unfortunately with some lag time on my part, I made arrangements for fellow-blogger Mitchell from Our Word to see this year's season of Doctor Who. He and his wife finished off the episodes and I saw an opportunity to push something different their way.

For a number of years I've noted that a short-run sci-fi series might just hit the spot for them... Firefly, perhaps you've heard of it.

As luck would have it, an additional boxed set found its way on to my shelves. (The wife misplaced our first set, and after five months she decided to replace it... and within six weeks she found the original set.) I handed off the extra disks to Mitchell and wished him and his wife an enjoyable 10.5 hours of viewing.

So far, they have muscled their way through "Train Job", "Bushwhacked", and they might have just seen "Shindig"... which I enjoyed greatly.

Hard to get into 13 episodes of a modern cult favorite science-fiction series around Christmas... I believe they have some annual viewing they like to do, as do many folks this time of year. That said, I assured them that they were under no obligation to keep the disks let alone watch them all. If they enjoy them, the disks are certainly theirs to keep.

Of course, much like waiting to see their reaction for this year's key episodes of Doctor Who, I'm quite eager to hear how the series goes down for them. I cannot wait to hear their response to, "I got stupid. The money was too good." (Of course, if Mitchell reads that then the odds are in his favor that he's going to make a fairly accurate prediction.)

If they get through the series the D&B and I might make them a nice meal and have them over to watch the movie that came out.


Strib Letter: Mistakes Don't Count

Yet another letter from a Star-Tribune reader who wishes to prevent the public from voting on local and/or school district matters. Is there any other kind of person who reads the Star-Tribune?
Did you abstain?

Let's have a simple rule on voting on abstinence-only sex education. Only if you practiced abstinence yourself may you vote for it or veto any law that doesn't try to enforce it. All those in favor, say "Aye!"


Fred might be a marketing consultant, so he might very well be qualified to live up to his rule. He might be a regular reader of the New York Times... if so, he's a wanker.

I wonder if Fred wants similar laws... for example, you cannot vote to strengthen sentances for thieves unless you've been a thief yourself. You cannot vote for pay raises for police or fire fighters unless you are a policeman, fire fighter, or an experienced and certified payroll expert. You cannot vote on school curriculum regarding evolution if you are in fact have clear evidence showing that you are indeed evolved beyond the level of writing damn-fool letters without reason or sense to the Star-Tribune.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kadhafi: "Led Zep Rocks!"

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, a long-time fan of rock music, flew to London earlier this week to see one of the most anticipated rock and roll concerts in the last twenty years: Led Zeppelin.

Kadhafi arrives at London's O2 Arena for last night's Led Zeppelin concert.

Fans in the same section as Kadhafi say he is a very enthusiastic fan. A couple from Germany say they heard Kadhafi say, "Jimmy! Jimmy, we love you! It's been a long time!"

Kadhafi says the last time he was this excited to see a rock concert was the "Invisible Touch" tour by Genesis which he was forced to miss due to an unexpected scheduling complication in April of 1986.

"I waited in line for nearly an hour to procure a deluxe version of the program and a Two-X size jersey," says Kadhafi. "But some jerk ahead of me bought the last in my size, even though he probably only needs a large. Does he not know who I am? Does he not know that I could have ordered his death back in 1980? If he was born then, that is."
Last month, President of France Nicolas Sarkozy handed off tickets as promised.

After the show, he said he was quite excited, "Kadhafi wanna whole lotta love, baby!" He even expressed an interest to reunite with his bandmates from the Led Zeppelin tribute band Greased Air.

"If that doesn't work out, I pray to Allah that I get to see Knopfler with Dire Straits once more."

Mark Knopfler was not available for comment, however his answering machine noted that Kill to Get Crimson is out in stores now.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fifteen Years

I’ve never dated anyone for that long before.

Somewhere out there, a very small collection of women are wondering why they just gave reflexive sighs of relief. (To be honest, though, I just gave a ginormous sigh of relief… especially in the case of the first and the last exes.)

Sometimes I wonder about my luck. How did I manage to marry up? At the Anti-Strib Christmas party a number of us joked at how we all married up. I met Brent’s wife… a lovely woman. Last year I met Jim’s wife… a real woman in the Maureen O’Hara tradition. Tracy’s wife is universally praised as a gracious host and a great gal. To say that we all married up makes our wives sound like idiots and like women willing to settle for something less than their worth.

I’m not going to speak for the guys, but I’m sure they would agree in their cases… we may have married up, but we've closed the distance in terms of how we value and treat our wives.

Women, specifically wives, make us better men. We give them the treatment and appreciation they are due. They don’t merely take simple scraps of affection we dogs lay at their feet. They civilize us. They make us want to be better men… and we become better men.

I know some women wish to mold their men. They see their boyfriends or fiancés as great raw materials in which they may sculpt the perfect husband. Not me, baby. My wife knows she’s not the one that does the heavy lifting in terms of civilizing me. That’s my job. I’m the one who must aspire to greater things… and then carry it out.

In any case, fifteen years ago my wife and I went out on our first date. Dinner at Brit’s Pub. We unexpectedly met some friends of mine and ended up playing darts… they cheated at my wife’s request. I also walked her downstairs to show her (surprise!) the mistletoe. Our first kiss.

We’ve been laughing ever since.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Talking Cooking

It has been too long since I cooked sauce in my house (gravy for those out East). The last time I cooked sauce was actually at a friend's house. The sauce tasted damn fine, though... and it kept good, too.

One of my friends (who I haven't talked to in over a year) does it all wrong. He drains the oil. Huh? Where do you expect the flavor to come in, the Humphrey Terminal?

Tonight, the boy and I sat down to a simple meal provided by the B&D. She's still learning. I'm half to three-quarters sick right now, so I couldn't taste stuff properly... so I'm not saying she made something bad. That said, I saw how she cooked the penne.

First of all, I've got a screaming headache... possibly from sleeping through lunch. She puts a pot with water on the stove. Not a tall pot like you'd use when you actually want pasta. She used the good medium-sized pot... the pot we normally use for cooking sauce. No big deal... this is penne. It will be fine.

Second, she only turned the gas up about half-way. Sweetheart, do you want to get this thing going or not? Kick it up to full.

Third, after I corrected the gas setting I come upstairs (bitching to myself because this damn headache is annoying the Hell out of me) and I see she's got the penne in the pot and the water boiling hard with the gas on full... but I don't see anyone stirring. Sweetheart, I've told you this before... if you want to make it right you don't over boil, you get a long handle spoon and stir, and you caress that stuff. Of course, I cut her some slack because I'm sick and if it were me right now I might just do the same thing.

Last, once you're done a little butter or olive oil ain't bad. You know, before you add the sauce.

Like I said, I'm hungry so she could have made SpagehttiOs and I would have been in heaven.

Dinner commences and the boy says his prayers before we even suggest it. He starts with the Sign of the Cross. Sometimes he starts at his head, other times he starts with one of his shoulders. Occasionally, he'll start with his neck.
Father, Son, Holy Spirit... the Son... the Spirit... Father-Son and the Son... Spirit, Spirit, Spirit... Hoooooooooly Spirit. .
Once in a while he even continues to cross himself.
Cross, cross, cross, cross.
Usually, he finishes with a very rushed and mumbled dinner prayer.
Godisgreatgoodthankfodfood. Amen.
In the past couple of weeks, he says it much more clearly and completely. When I'm in good spirits, we expand the amen.
Preacher Daddy: Can I get an Amen?
Kid: Amen!
Preacher Daddy: Gimme one more!
Kid: Amen!
Preacher Daddy: I can't hear you.
Kid: Amen!!!
Preacher Daddy: Say it loud and proud.
Kid: Amen!
Preacher Daddy: I wanna hear Hallelujah!
Kid: Hallelujah!
Preacher Daddy: And an Amen!
Kid: Amen!
I can't wait until he sees Reverend Cleophus James at the Old Landmark.

Tonight I asked him if he liked the sauce. I asked him to say "marinara"... using cliched hand gestures typically found at Central Casting.
Kid: Mara-mara.
Daddy: No. Marinara.
Kid: Marinbara.
Daddy: No... say mara.
Kid: Mara.
Daddy: Say nara.
Kid: Nara.
Daddy: Say marinara.
Kid: Bara-
Daddy: Marin.
Kid: Marin-narin.
Daddy: Marinara.
Kid: Menor-
Daddy: No. Well... it is the second night. Mar.
Kid: Mahr!
Daddy: Marin.
Kid: Marin.
Daddy: Marinara.
Kid: Barinmarnin.
Daddy: No.
Kid: Naramenara?
Daddy: No! Say Mara.
Kid: Kinda?
Daddy: Say Cheech Marin.
Kid: Ramone?
Daddy: Say Menorah.
Kid: Candelabrum?
Daddy: Say Inara.
Kid: Hubba-hubba!
Daddy: Nice!
Momma: Daddy!
Daddy: I got stupid, the money was too good.
Kid: Let's move this along, Daddy.
Daddy: Sorry.
Kid: Don't mention it.
Daddy: Where were we?
Kid: What's the name of the sauce?
Daddy: What is the fellow's name on second base.
Kid: I'm not askin' ya who's on second.
Daddy: Who's on first.
Kid: I don't know.
Daddy and the Kid: Third base.
Daddy: Surly you saw that coming.
Kid: I'm only three, of course I didn't see that coming... and don't call me Shirley.
Daddy: That's my boy!
In any case, we had Marinara... and not just any kind. It came right out of a jar. Someone might question my Italian credentials after hearing I ate sauce from a jar. Well, let me ask you... how many folks have their great-grandmother on a jar of sauce?That's her... and that's her recipe.

One of my cousins got this going. He's my old man's cousin's son. Apparently, you can buy this stuff in some of the supermarkets around St. Paul.

How's that for being Italian? I don't think even my Sicilian friend has that kind of credentials. (Her family is from Jersey, though.)


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wives Lie

In touching on this subject I must write some personal and potentially salacious details. If you didn't like this golden post (which I count as one of my greatest works) then you probably don't want to read the end of this post.

Men know how women lie. Sorry, ladies… you lie. These lies range from benign to malicious. Sometimes you fool us. Sometimes you fool yourself. I love hearing a friend elaborate on some story regarding an argument or a little SNAFU or such confrontation where the lie is fairly obvious. That prompts me to boldly ask, “Whose benefit did you say that… yours or mine?” (Sometimes the friend knows I’ve just called her a liar.)

Sometimes wives tell different kind of lies.
“We can have sex every day of the week.”

Honest to God, that’s what she said. If I couldn’t detect that whopper then my Bullshit Detector © wouldn’t ever get calibrated correctly ever again.

We married nearly nine years ago. We’ve been a couple for exactly fifteen years. We first formally met 183 months ago… and we probably met or saw each other before that by two years. This was more than just some fun exaggeration on behalf of a playful wife. This was utter bullshit.

Oh, there were times when seven out of seven was regularly in the realm of possibility. (Ah, those carefree days of youth, those wonderful years, those glorious pages of history… we hardly knew you.) That’s why Rick says, “We’ll always have Paris.”

Some smug, probably feminist, jackass out there somewhere wonders, “How do you know for certain your Beautiful & Dutiful wife lied?” As if my extensive knowledge of her vocal inflections, facial expressions, posture, moods, and word choice isn’t enough… even the master burglar always leaves a tiny clue at the scene of the crime.

Earlier that evening she told me she was ovulating.

For a man of my experience (and with the pedigree and schooling with my Bullshit Detector ©) that was a no-brainer.

I instantly called her on it… however, part of me was wondering why seven-for-seven plan wasn’t a possibility last week, last month, or last year. A man can dream, …even if he’s married. The innocent, youthful, hopeful, and simple part of me (my naïveté, not just my libido) began to dance through dreams of possibility. I even started plotting out the when and where possibilities. (Think of the exuberance of Flounder in Animal House when he says, “Oh, boy! Is this going to be great?!?!?!”) Of course, the sensible side of me realized that this wasn’t going anywhere… well, more accurately; this vacation wasn’t going to be exactly like the pictures in the brochure at the travel agent.

Now, I’m not a vindictive guy… but my wife, the love of my life, the mother to my child, the civilizing force on my savage nature just told a lie big enough to incinerate every pair of pants she ever owned… and every pair she ever tried on since she was 13 years old. I wanted exactly what the Coz got on Junior Barnes.


She unknowingly gave me the perfect opportunity. The boy was with my parents that night. We had the house all to ourselves. We had a great time… however, I completely surprised her by confounding her plans to conceive.

Her face immediately turned into the “What in the flaming hootie-hoo do you think you’re doing?” face. The first words out of her mouth were, “You bastard!” She was so shocked that I would be so damn clever… she was also annoyed. Annoyed at me for denying her plans, but also annoyed at me because she knew it was damn funny.

For the next fifteen minutes or more she cursed me while laughing.

I win and I got to have sex. Hell…I’m bulletproof!

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Monday, December 03, 2007

No Justice: No Charges

According to the county prosecutor, he can't file charges. Essentially, we knew this already... but that never gets in the way of a lawyer, politician, or some combination of the two from making a public statement.

You might remember the story of Megan Meier of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri... she hanged herself last year after one of her MySpace friends sent a few rather cruel messages. She was 13 years old... and understandably, the parents are frustrated in the extreme. I mentioned this in a post called No Justice.
County Prosecutor Jack Banas said at a news conference there was no applicable statue to file charges in the case. Banas said he looked at laws related to stalking, harassment and child endangerment, but found no repeated incidents of threats to someone's life or health, and no organized conspiracy.

Outside of the poor girl's suicide and the devastating effect upon her family and the people involved with the so-called friend's MySpace account, the important question is what to do about similar cases from here on out?
After the case became public, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt asked lawmakers to review state law to see if changes were necessary to better deal with cases that involve Internet bullying. Some municipalities have also considered or passed statutes to strengthen laws that deal with Internet harassement.

Bullying, huh? Well, something tells me that the Internet really doesn't have anything to do with it. If you want to lay the hammer down on flks who bully, then that's your issue.

This is all about politicians, even those apparently involved in the less-government wing of politics, who want to hitch their wagons to big-story horses and create the appearance of doing the work of the people.

Here's some advice for Missouri's governor... read the Constitution. Simply because a very specific law addressing a specific set of circumstances isn't on the books doesn't mean you need one.

When a company comes out with laser pistols do you need to create a law that makes murder with a laser weapon illegal? Maybe someone in Missouri politics will think so.