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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tuesday's Untitled Ramblings

Spooky News

Geeze - a glance at the headlines is a scary thing these days, isn't it? President George Walker Bush's administration had 34 documented scandals in his first four years as president, most of which were quietly swept under the rug (like when Halliburton was given a $7 billion no-contract bid for services in Iraq - and guess what company subsequently overcharged the government $61 million of taxpayer money), but what's happening now makes most of those 34 scandals pale in consideration. The Valerie Plame thing is getting serious. It seems that Scooter Libby (vice-president Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney's head honcho) got his information directly from the vice-president himself, and fibbed about it to a grand jury. So now the list of people with headaches (and litigation) in the administration includes Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Scooter Libby, vice-president Dick Cheney, and a considerable list of other less recognizable names.

I'm not too bothered by this administration shooting itself in the foot - after all, they've been aiming at it for five years now. If you were paying attention, you could see it coming. What bothers me is the mess they're going to leave behind - a mess we're ALL going to pay for. These guys have wasted, squandered, and in some cases outright taken our money. I do NOT pay taxes for these guys to simply give the money to their friends - I pay taxes for sewers and police and schools and stop lights, and those services are dwindling (look at the amount of trash and graffiti in your neighborhood, and the lack of police). It's time for a change. Let's get back on track and get our tax dollars moving the right direction again. Unfortunately, we still have three years left of the present administration (though we may have a new vice-president soon) - but we can change things in the Senate in the midterm elections in 2006.

In other news, Rosa Parks passed away today source. She sparked much of the civil rights movement in the United States.

Alan Greenspan will step down as head of the Federal Reserve in January, to be replaced by Ben Bernanke source, a man who seems to be very qualified (somewhat surprisingly, considering Mr. Bush's latest nomination for the Supreme Court - his personal lawyer, Harriet Miers).

Quote of the Day...
"A wise monkey is a monkey who doesn't monkey with another monkey's monkey."
- from Mike "Kioti" Gregg

Picture of the Day...

This is a pseudo time-lapse photo of the side of a 45-year-old Heidelberg "Windmill" printing press. (I convinced my "point and click" camera that it didn't need a flash, so it held the aperture open for a split second longer than it usually does. I like to feel smarter than my camera, even though I have doubts about that.) If you click on the picture, it gets bigger.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Ducky Sort of Day

'Tis raining out there. Not hard, not nasty, just a gentle, chilly gray day. It makes me happy that I have a warm house, a good wife, hot cocoa and popcorn. Soon I'll have to think about taking the bike to Champion Cycle in South Sioux for storage. (I always try to get that done before it snows if possible. I'm not a cold-weather rider.)

Dagmar is snoozing in the other room (she's not feeling well) and Fruitloop is dozing on the couch. So, I'm trying to type quietly. It's amazing to me how much different songs sound through headphones rather than through the twelve-dollar computer speakers I have... I just heard "Crazy On You" by Heart - I didn't know there were flutes in that song! And some of the drum fills are in stereo... Cool!

A buddy of mine wrote me an e-mail this weekend. "I've been reading your blog," he said. "You have a lot of woes, don't you?" (I'm paraphrasing, actually, but it's close.) I do have woes, but honestly, I don't think I have any more woes than anyone else - and a lot less than many people have! I'm just vocal about my particular woes. That's all. I'm truly pretty happy with life. I just wish my wife were healthy, we weren't in debt, the government wasn't crumbling and the neighbors didn't scare me. I suppose if I made a million dollars we could take Dagmar to more specialists and move out of our neighborhood, but I'm not gonna hold my breath. We'll get by.

If anyone knows how I can make a million dollars, please let me know! I'd certainly appreciate it...

I'm worried about my beloved bride, Dagmar. She's been in bed all day. "I have horrible cramps," she told me. "And it feels like things in my belly are ripping apart." Dagmar has a very high tolerance for pain; when she complains, it worries me mightily. Especially when there's nothing I can do for her.

The Thugs of the Northland

My beloved Green Bay Packers are taking their mighty 1-4 record to Minneapolis this weekend to battle the Vikings, who have a lousy, terrible 1-4 record. At the beginning of the season I was pretty excited. Brett Favre decided to stay on as quarterback for the Packers, and the Vikings got rid of their main thug, Randy Moss. "Yay," I said. "Yay."

Mr. Moss getting traded to the Raiders did several things for me. First, I could now watch the Vikings play without feeling ill. The Vikings had for years been my second favorite team. Until they picked up Mr. Moss... He brought the morals of the team down to new lows, in my opinion. As an example, he once tried to run over a Minneapolis policewoman in his SUV. That shows class. So I was happy to see him out of the NFC North division. The second thing the trade accomplished was exactly what the Vikings feared - it weakened the their team. That's good for me, as the Packers are in the same division.

So, I was happy at the beginning.

Then the Packers lost to the Lions. Thus started the Pack's slide to their current position of being tied for last place in the division with the Vikings. While this bothers me, as a long-time Packer fan I've been expecting it. You see, in the 1970s and 80s the Packers were really, really bad. Then Reggie White joined the team, followed by Favre (who was supposed to be the backup quarterback) and a few trips to the Superbowl. Now it's time for the cycle to continue...

What bother me more, though, is the Viking's latest fiasco. While the Packers are nearest and dearest to my heart, I have a very big soft spot for the entire NFC North - Green Bay, Minneapolis, Detroit and Chicago. I like to see those teams do well, and conduct themselves admirably, and they usually do. However... It seems that the Vikings didn't get the memo. Not only are they not playing well, but they have managed to conduct themselves atrociously off the field, bringing shame to themselves, the league, and the entire state of Minnesota. Fans are mailing their season tickets back to the owner of the team.

Why? Well, it seems that the team wanted to go on a three-hour cruise on a Minnesota lake. The cruise lasted under an hour, as the captain of the boat found out about the booze and the hookers from Georgia and turned around. From what I hear, there were women on the boat actually hiding in fear from the Vikings - they found ladies cowering in closets and such.

So far, the league hasn't taken much action against the team. The team's new owner hollered at them for a while, and the coach did a fair share of bellowing at people, but so far no one's been indicted, arrested, fined, or punished in any way (as far as I know). It's my humble opinion as a fan of the game, a fan of the team, and a fan of Minnesota in general, that ALL the players who were on the boat in question should be benched (without pay) as punishment for a breach of contract - it's in their contract to conduct themselves as gentlemen. "But what if some of them were on the boat but didn't participate in the nasty acts?" you may ask. Well, they should have stood up for what they knew to be right and informed the captain and crew as to what was going on. This may well have happened; I don't know. My point is that I don't feel the league or the team is taking this nearly seriously enough.

'Nuff said.

The Goddaughter...

A buddy of mine read my blog recently and said that our little goddaughter, Maddy, is a doll. Couldn't agree more, personally. That deserves another picture of Maddy, doesn't it? You can never see enough pictures of cute goddaughters... Especially when they're strangling pink lawn ornaments.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Oddities and Follies Galore

Polite Robbery

A buddy of mine had his truck stolen the other day. He went to a concert, and afterwards found to his dismay that the truck was gone, along with a ton of CD's and a bunch of PA equipment for the band. "We'll probably find it on the other side of town," the police told him. "But it'll be torched, most likely."

A few days later my friend got a phone call - they'd found his truck. Not only did they find it intact, but it was in the exact same parking spot from which it disappeared, nothing was missing, and the thieves had actually filled the gas tank before they returned it! Only in Iowa...

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Our rude neighbors are still at it. Screaming and yelling in the middle of the night, people coming and going at all hours... Now the kid has a new puppy. I like puppies. I like kids. But I really wish this particular kid would take care of his puppy! The poor pooch sits outside, tied to the car with the flat tire (hasn't moved in months), whining and yipping half the day, wanting attention while the kid rides his bike in our yard.

I've quit mowing. Every time I go outside to mow or trim, the neighbors gather around and start playing basketball in my driveway. I wouldn't mind that so much, but while they're playing basketball in MY driveway, they still get all huffy if I break up the game by mowing nearby. So now I don't mow.

Last night I peeked out the window to see what the latest ruckus was about. People were running up and down the street, screaming obscenities at each other, and a car was parked sideways in the street, one tire over the curb in my yard. We turned the TV up and ignored the whole scene. (I kinda wanted to go out and take pictures, but Dagmar wouldn't let me.)

What's Morality Got To Do With It?

For a man who based his political campaign on morals and values, President George Walker Bush certainly has surrounded himself with questionable characters. Republican Representative Tom DeLay was released on bail after being arrested on charges of conspiracy and money laundering. A fine role model in this administration! As Mr. DeLay was being fingerprinted, Mr. Bush was giving a press conference in his garden, defending his nomination of Harriet Miers to the United States Supreme Court. It seems that the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Ms. Miers' written responses to their queries, saying her answers were "inadequate, insufficient, and insulting." source

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Bill Frist is being investigated for insider trading.

Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top advisor, is facing indictment for leaking secrets to the press, as is Vice President Richard "Dick" Bruce Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Osama bin Laden (remember him?) is still on the loose, and now there are allegations that U.S. soldiers have been burning the bodies of Taliban fighters - which is sacrilegious to Muslims source. This, following the abuses at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and the woes in Guantanamo Bay, suggests that our leaders are creating an environment where such abuses can flourish. There has been legislation put forward to curb things like this, but President Bush has indicated that if the legislation crosses his desk, he'll veto it. It makes me sad.

Very sad.

The Daily Whine

I think I have my contacts in the wrong eyes again today. Everything seems all out of focus...

Some unexpected bills came through yesterday and today; Dagmar and I have twenty bucks in savings to get us through until next week, and I just gave the last ten bucks in my pocket to a bum yesterday. So I have three dollars and Dagmar has a buck and a half... Good thing we have food at home! I suppose we'd have more money if we didn't give it away all the time, but I don't think we'd be as happy, either. So, I'll quit complaining.

Drug Running

I just heard something interesting on the Al Franken Show. I guess the big drug companies in the United States spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 billion on researching new drugs. But two-thirds of that is spent trying to develop "copycat" drugs - one company develops Viagra, so all the other companies have to have their own versions of the drug. (This has something to do with the patent laws - and the US is the ONLY nation in the world where this is true.) Many companies actually spend more money on marketing than they do on research. The kicker is this: the US government spends $30 billion researching new drugs, but the government shares its research with all the drug companies.

So, a wise strategy for a drug company would be to let the government do 98% of the work, then step in at the last minute, finish the research, and get a patent on the drug, thus ensuring that for very little research money the company will have a patented drug for which they can charge anything they like. So, our tax money goes into researching a drug that a drug company effectively steals (legally) from the government and sells to us for exorbinant prices.

I wonder how many lobbyists the drug companies have on Capitol Hill, and how much they get paid.

Avian flu is looming on the horizon. Our government has done little to get ready - we have nowhere near the amount of vaccine we need (thanks in part to Mr. Simonson - click here for more details on him). A Swiss company makes the best vaccine for avian flu, but they have the drug patented and won't share. They'll make all the vaccine they can in their small factory and sell it for as much money as they can get.

The Tribulations of Trials

Back to Mr. Tom DeLay, Republican, for a minute. I just read in the New York Times online that Mr. DeLay's lawyer asked the judge of DeLay's trial to remove himself from the case. I guess the judge, Bob Perkins, has supported Democratic organizations. The judge that will rule on whether Perkins will remain involved with the trial is Republican B.B. Schraub, who was appointed to the bench by Republican Governor Rick Perry. source

No wonder Mr. DeLay was smiling when they took his mug shot.

"Membership in a political party does not determine the quality of justice in this country," said Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earl. source I hope he's right!

Where else but Texas would the main characters in an important trial be named Bob, B.B., and Ronnie? It seems a little, well, informal.

Speaking of trials - Saddam Hussein has made his appearance in court. And, guess what? The next morning they found his lawyer, dead. (Apparently it's bad for your health to get shot in the head.) This brings up two questions. The first is: Why aren't they treating this as a war crimes trial, with bullet-proof glass and stuff? The second is: Why isn't this a war crimes trial anyway - why is the trial in Iraq and not at The Hague? In any case, the authorities are now providing security for all lawyers, not just the prosecutors.

A Few Quite Nifty Quotes...

"Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right."

"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."
- Isaac Asimov

"I'm not a member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat."

"What this country needs dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fall Blues (or Blahs)

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day - eighty degrees, sunny and calm. And both Dagmar and I came home after work, shut the windows and sat on the couch. We're both blah. Neither of us has energy to get much done, other than drag ourselves to work and back. I attribute it to our advancing sissification. We're getting so far away from nature and the outdoors in general that we're becoming wussies. The trees make Dagmar sneezy and weepy this time of year, and the grass makes me itchy and cross. When I was a child on the farm, this didn't happen (scratch scratch). It simply doesn't seem worth the effort to go outside and sit in our little patch of grass - we have to contend with noisy (and rude) neighbors across the fence, and our view includes rather a lot of barbed wire. There really shouldn't be barbed wire in a residential district.

Fall always seems to be the season of death to me. Nature undergoes a slow, lingering strangulation by the frosty fingers of winter. It's hard for me to maintain a good attitude, knowing that the next six months are going to be cold, rainy, muddy and ugly. "But the colors sure are pretty!" you may exclaim, pointing to a tree. I'm color-blind. I think I see about half the "pretty colors" of fall. Oh well...


Last weekend Dagmar and I went out to Ma & Pa's farm. Our happy goddaughter Maddy was there (see left, click for larger photo) along with her older brother and sister. It was fun to see the kids, and it was good for the soul to be outside again, even for a little bit. Dagmar took the kids for a nature hike, complete with a bugle boy and a drummer girl (I doubt they saw any bunny rabbits in the woods with that kind of racket going on) whilst I helped my brother and Pa drywall the new addition. Having never dealt with drywall before, I spent a lot of time hovering about, trying to be helpful without actually messing things up. It's a tricky thing to do, but I'm getting good at it.


Mudslides in California, the Gulf Coast in disarray, floods in the east, our government falling apart at the seams (Brown, Simonsen, Plame, Miers, etc.), al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (remember him?) still running around somewhere, the Bush administration spending TONS of money we don't have (that will come back to haunt us, trust me) on bridges in Alaska... It's a spooky world! But what really upsets me are the things closer to home - and I think it's all related. I've noticed a lot more graffiti in my neighborhood lately. I've noticed that my take-home pay has remained the same for years, but my energy bills, insurance bills, and food bills are going through the roof. I've noticed fewer police in my neighborhood. I've noticed more trash in the gutters. I've noticed our government allows torture now, while condemning terrorism. I've noticed that torture and terrorism are very nearly the same thing, the only difference is who holds the whip.

It scares me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Simonson Says?

I'm starting to get scared now.

Michael Brown, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, was appointed to the job by President George Walker Bush, though he was desperately unqualified. Harriet Miers, Mr. Bush's personal lawyer, has been nominated by Mr. Bush to sit on the Supreme Court, though she has never been a judge. Now I find out that another appointee, Stewart Simonson (Bush's go-to man on "matters related to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies") is woefully untrained for his job as Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness.

Mr. Simonson is a lawyer in charge of our nation's medical response program. Nothing against lawyers, honest, but shouldn't someone a bit more familiar with public health administration be in charge of our public health administration?

It turns out that Mr. Simonson was Tommy Thompson's staff lawyer when Mr. Thompson was Governor of Wisconsin. After his term as governor, Mr. Thompson moved on to serve as the Board Chairman of Amtrak, bringing Mr. Simonson along for the ride. Mr. Bush named Mr. Thompson head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and in turn Mr. Thompson brought Mr. Simonson along. source Mr. Simonson was called in front of a House Committee last July, where he told the committee that his agency had ample money to buy flu vaccines and anti-viral medication. Everyone left the meeting happy. The next day, Mr. Simonson's agency requested $150 million from Congress to cover, you guessed it, flu vaccines and anti-viral medication.

I just read somewhere on the Internet (I lost the link, unfortunately) that Mr. Simonson's predecessor in the job feels that Mr. Simonson is making poor decisions. It seems that the man who had the job before Mr. Simonson was actually a doctor, and was trained and had experience in public health and emergency preparedness until Mr. Thompson ousted him in favor of Mr. Simonson. It seems a pity, what with avian flu on the horizon. Not to be an alarmist, but World Health Organization officials have repeatedly told us over the past few years that avian flu is a very real threat, and that it will kill between five million people and 250 million people.

Try to conceive of 250 million casualties. Now think, does the United States have it's best doctors and scientists on the case? Well, no... but we have a really smart lawyer running things.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tuesday Tuesday...

It could be a first. I agree with Rush Limbaugh. Ms. Harriet Meirs is a bad choice for the Supreme Court.

So, as I see it, here's the deal... Marion "Pat" Robertson (the same Pat Robertson who claims that "the antiChrist is probably a Jew alive in Israel today," source prayed on his very own TV network for an opening in the Supreme Court so that Mr. G. Walker Bush (President of the United States) could appoint a conservative judge to the bench. That happened according to plan - a justice retired. Mr. Robertson promptly fell to his knees, not to praise God, but to greedily ask the Almighty for another opening on the Court. Lo and behold, a justice died. (Does that make Mr. Robertson guilty of homicide somehow?) Mr. Bush promptly upgraded his first judicial nomination and made a second nomination - Ms. Meirs.

Who is Ms. Meirs? She's Mr. Bush's lawyer. She's never been a judge. Wonderful... Does anyone remember Mr. Bush appointing someone to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency who had no experience? Does anyone remember Hurricane Katrina? It seems the Mr. Bush's policy of putting friends in high places regardless of experience or training simply doesn't work. Even his own political party is getting tired of it.


For a man of the cloth, Mr. Robertson seems to be awfully greedy and full of himself. A quick search on Google turned up a number of interesting facts about the man. He used donations from his church to fund flights to Zaire for "humanitarian" reasons, but according to the pilot, over 95 percent of the flights were related to Mr. Robertson purchasing diamond mines for himself. In 1988 he ran for president and publicly fibbed about the date of his marriage - turns out his wife was seven months pregnant when they were married. Yet Mr. Robertson called for President Bill Clinton's impeachment for having sex out of wedlock. Now the man who uses his parishioner's money to line his own pockets is trying to buy a oil refinery in California. Many environmental organizations are trying to block the leaky refinery from opening due to it's age and various emissions, but Mr. Robertson thinks it's okay to open the refinery because it's in a Latino neighborhood anyway. One Source

First quote of the day:
"Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."


On to issues of more import: My beloved wife bought me a new popcorn popper the other day. It's nifty! It's neat! It's one of those old-timey whirlygig popcorn poppers that you put on the stove and turn the little crank while the popcorn pops. I can't believe how good the popcorn tastes! I've been gnawing on microwave popcorn for so long that I've forgotten what "real" popcorn is like... All it takes is a dab of oil (we like peanut oil or olive oil), a handful of popcorn and a little salt. It feels MUCH healthier than microwave popcorn or butter-drenched movie popcorn... And it's faster, too!


Geeze, this Pat Robertson guy is a GREAT source! Just a few more quotes...

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if [President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop..."
- Pat Robertson, August 22, 2005

"You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense, I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist."
- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 14, 1991

"Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history."
Yes, Christians are terribly discriminated against in America. But if we hold out, someday we may actually control America's judicial system. And possibly the legislature. And, dare I say it, the presidency itself? Yes, one day we may have a Christian president... Or, like, maybe 42 Christian presidents. In a row. Terribly discriminated against... Six million Jews died in Nazi Germany, but Mr. Robertson feels that Christians in America right now are suffering more than any minority in history? And Christians are NOT a minority... In 2001, 79.8% of Americans were Christian. The Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and all other faiths combined comprised 5.2% of America. Agnostics and atheists accounted for the missing 15% source. So, with an 80% minority, Mr. Robertson whines on.


Dagmar and I watched a film last week called "Schultze Gets the Blues." (It's a German film with English subtitles, but it really isn't a pain to watch. Honest.) It's very rare that a film captures my attention the way this one did. It took me days of pondering to realize that the ending of the movie was perfect. I'm still thinking of the film a week later... I highly recommend the film (it would be rude to call it a "movie" somehow - it's a film), though there isn't even one single space ship in the story at all. There's not a lot of dialogue, no car chases, no one gets beat up... Very thoughtful and very well done. Go rent it.


Six thousand and twenty-nine dollars an hour. That's how much it costs in fuel alone to run Air Force One. The full cost is somewhere around $57,000 an hour for the airplane source. President George W. Bush has instructed the White House personnel to turn off their printers and computers to save energy, while at the same time visiting the Gulf Coast seven or eight times in the last month, trying to make up for lost time (and a blemished public image), using taxpayer dollars that could better be spent actually helping the victims of the hurricanes. Honestly, how much is it helping Louisiana to have some guy waste $57,000 an hour to drag fifteen people and a gaggle of reporters through the mud? Wouldn't they much rather just have the money at this point?

Just my humble opinion.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Monday Monday...

It's 9:56 on a Monday morning and I'm at work, typing on my blog. It seems like it's been a strange day already, and feels like it's liable to get stranger.

I spent the night fitfully tossing and turning on the couch, the TV mumbling merrily to itself about Einstein in the corner, poor kitty Fruitloop trying desperately to find a comfortable spot on my belly. The whole night was spent in a half-awake, half-asleep la-la land of odd dreams and uncomfortable rumblings in me tummy due to an overexertion at suppertime (potatoes and ham - five servings of each, according to the packages). I fell asleep on the couch during Cincinnati's 3-point loss to some other team and didn't want to wake Dagmar by relocating to the comfy-indeed bed. So I tossed and turned and dozed and woke and read and watched TV and dozed and hiccupped all night, lost in a melange of bizarre mental twistings - I was convinced half the night I'd been in a plane crash in Canada and was walking through snow and ice. (Turns out "Survivorman" was on TV, surviving in Canada and I'd kicked the blanket off my feet.)

This morning my beloved Viennese bride took one look at me and said, "You didn't sleep vell, did you? Und you had too much to eat, didn't you? Look at this, you've surrounded yourself mit popcorn, pretzels, peanut butter, chocolate candies... No vunder you didn't sleep well. And look here - you forgot to take your sleepy pill, too. Silly man."

"I don't feel good," I moaned, holding my bloated tummy. "I feel ookie. And I have a headache." I wandered the general direction of the bathroom. "I just don't feel good. And I have a headache, too."

"You vant me to tell you it's okay for you to stay home, don't you?" asked Mrs. Perceptive. "Vell, no. You ate too much und you slept in front of the TV und had bad dreams. You go to verk - it'll do you good."


To be honest, though, I did feel MUCH better once I'd run my carcass through the shower a few times. Off to work I go, heigh ho, heigh ho! As I pulled into the parking lot, still trying to shake off a few of the odder dreams of the night, the first thing I noticed was the new graffiti on the front of the building. That always puts the bosses in a good mood!

I punched in, managing to spell my name right on my time card this time, and trudged to my appointed corner of the basement. It was immediately apparent that I was the only one in the Art Department to bother to come in to work today. Everyone else was gone. Not a soul. I checked the calendar. By that action I learned that today is Columbus Day here in Iowa (and it's Brett Favre day in Wisconsin today, by the way), but that didn't particularly explain why my department was absent. (You must realize that there are really only two people in the Art Department - me and Drew.) Eventually, the boss mentioned that Drew's boy is ill today, so Drew stayed home to take care of the kidlet. So I'm here all by myself today, listening to MP3's and typing in my blog. So far (and it's now 11:24 a.m.) I've printed five things, changed one number, and designed a flyer for my boss who wants to sell his car. (It's a 1993 Corsica. $2,395. E-mail me if you want more details...) So work's going well.

My Vunderful Vife and I had a pretty cool weekend, all things considered. It started out with a short road trip Friday night when we hooked up with some friends from the left coast in Omaha for blues, booze and barbecues at McKenna's. Great friends, great food, great music! Judging by the pictures I took, most of which were of various half-full bottles of booze, I must have had a good time... We always like McKenna's - the food and atmosphere is consistently good, and I've never heard a bad band there, ever.

Saturday morning came too early - our dumbo cat woke me up at 7:30. I ended up napping on the couch for a few more hours before heading to the Clam's gig that day - a benefit for S.T.A.R.S. - a Sioux City group that puts handicapped kids on horses. Setup took a few hours longer than anticipated, but the gig went well nonetheless. The crowd was small, but the charity made money and that's the important part! (Funny side note: We played in a horse barn, which meant there were horses and horse-type animals lurking about in various sized flocks throughout the area. About halfway through the night, half the band was gathered outside the barn, chatting. At one point, someone asked where so-and-so was. A disembodied voice floated through the quiet countryside, "I'm petting the donkeys." For some reason that makes me laugh.)

Sunday was a complete loss as far as productivity goes. Dagmar took an allergy pill and snoozed most of the day away whilst I lay on the couch watching the Packers win over the Saints 52 to 3 (go Pack go!) and eating all sorts of nasty snacks. I had ambitions, but none of them came to fruition... (It's hard to do things and be productive when everyone else in the house is snoozing. It tends to put one into a snoozing mood as well.)

Well, looks like my time is up. The front office just brought down what looks like three or four days' worth of work. They have a bad habit of saving the work up for some reason and dropping it all on my lap at once. Often by the time I get my hands on a job, it's already past it's deadline. Sigh.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Photos of the Day, Oct. 6

A pretty bottle...

A picture we took whilst on vacation in Canada. Lots of horses there.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Gloomy Day Indeed

Today is a gloomy sort of day. Dank, dark, humid and rainy. Not what comes to mind when you think "October." October is supposed to start off a bit brisk, with a light breeze carrying hints of dry leaves hiding under trees and wood smoke from the neighbor's stove. It's supposed to end with happy little ghosts and gremlins stomping their way through piles of leaves, knowing the first "real" snowfall is just days away.

This year doesn't seem to fit the pattern. Yesterday the high was in the 90's. Today it wasn't much cooler, and the humidity is through the roof. It's raining heavily at the moment. Tomorrow, they say, we'll be lucky if the high gets out of the 40's. That's too much of a swing, now, don't you think? From the 90's to the low 50's? How's a body supposed to deal with that...

You know how you never remember to fix that pesky windshield wiper when it's nice and sunny? The only time you think of it is when it's raining... I have a gutter like that. I can hear the water puddling and splashing where it's not supposed to, right outside my side door. I GOTTA remember to get that fixed! I'm sure it's something simple, but I don't have a ladder to get up there to look, so I'm gonna have to hire someone to do it. (I'd buy a ladder, but I don't have a garage door, so I'd have to store it inside, right next to my weed whacker and my lawn mower, and I just don't have room. So, technically, I should buy a garage door. Then I could buy a ladder and store it in the garage. Then I could fix my own gutters. But that all takes money and time...)

My beloved bride should be home from the store any minute now. She called earlier and said she was hungry for fish. Again. (She had sushi last night. Salmon tonight.) So she went to buy fish after work. I'm looking forward to a quiet night tonight. Of course, as I'm typing this, the neighbors are parked in my driveway again, honking and yelling obscenities at each other... I trudged out there in my robe and shook my fist at them, trying to get the "shut up and get off my property - I'm trying to relax, dammit" point across, but the just ignored me. I think I shall trudge back out there with my digital camera and take pictures. For evidence, you know. Oops, they're gone now. Oh well.

I heard on the news over the weekend that George W. Bush has nominated a new supreme court justice. Judge Roberts has already been fitted for robes, this one is Harriet Miers, Mr. Bush's friendly attorney. I don't know what to think of Ms. Miers, to be honest. She's never been a judge, and she claims Mr. Bush is the most brilliant man she's ever known. Those two things right there scare me.

Okay, I'm upset now. I could hear the rain upgrade itself from a mild rain to a downpour. At the same time I heard cars honking right outside my house. I go out on the porch, and there are the neighbors, parked in my driveway again. This time they're just sitting in their SUV thing, waiting for the rain to let up. My wife is stopped in the street, honking at them. They don't move. Dagmar gets out of her car, in a torrential downpour, goes over to the neighbor's car, and asks them to move. She trudges (that's the third "trudge" so far today) back to her car. They still didn't move until Dagmar honked again. By this time I had my boots on and was ready to intervene, but I missed my chance by seconds. Now poor Dagmar is soaked to the bone - NOT a good thing when she's recovering from acute bronchitis. We gotta buy a sign or something! This is getting crazy...

Pictures of the Day

If this is their office, I'd hate to see their restroom!

My beloved Viennese bride Dagmar.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Band Woes, Revisited

Well, if you've been reading this (see Advertising, Just as I Feared, and That's Much Better in particular) you know I've been having troubles and woes with my bass tone lately. Turns out that, though I particularly enjoyed my tone and volume last Saturday night, the volume was really bothering my bandmates. After much discussion, conversation, wailing and gnashing of teeth, we've decided to go with in-ear monitors. That should help.

And, I've started new meds. I feel MUCH better now. (I know, I know, I've said that before...) I'm starting to feel more like myself every day. I quit with the Wellbutrin and am now taking something unpronounceable. I'm thinking that may help with the tone situation, too, now that I'm not edgy and obsessive. Much.

Pictures of the Day

Our weekend:

One of the many elk we saw during our picnic at the park Friday night. Cool!

VROC people from Des Moines, Omaha, Sioux City, Northwest Iowa and bits and pieces of South Dakota. We all hooked up in Carroll Saturday - it was a fun ride indeed!

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