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Friday, November 25, 2005


So far it's been a great Thanksgiving weekend, though it started out pretty lousy.

Last Wednesday I awoke in the usual manner. Consciousness slowly ebbed through my body as I gradually became aware of my surroundings... I was warm and happy - snuggled and cuddled in a warm comfy soft bed with my warm comfy soft wife and my warm comfy soft kitty-cat. I lay there for a few moments, savoring the peace. Then I remembered that I had to go to work that day.

Once the echoes of the daily anguished "I-have-to-go-to-work-again" screaming and crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth (some of which were mine) died down, I was calm enough to take a shower. Off to work I went, whimpering slightly. By the time I'd walked halfway to work, the tic in my left eye had subsided... All I had to do was put up with one more day staring vacantly at a computer screen and then a nice four-day holiday!

As I came around the corner and made my way through the company rubble-pit they call a parking lot I saw a rather largish dog (I think it was a black lab) wandering down the middle of West 7th Street towards Record Printing. The poor pooch was weaving a little. He reminded me of some of my friends at closing time, especially when the doggie paused to pee on my co-worker's truck tire.

"Hey," I said to my co-worker as I punched the dehumanizingly corporate time clock. "A dog just peed on your truck." He poked his head out the door to look.

"Oh," said my co-worker. "Well, that's one dog that won't be peeing on my truck any more. Somebody just hit him."

We held a short conference on what to do when you see a dog get hit by a car. I asked the secretary to call someone. "Who do I call?" she asked. "It's a bit late to call the Humane Society..." We went out to see if the dog was still there. He was. A man in a SUV (I think it was a Ford Valdez) was on his cell phone, calling the authorities.

As I made my way to my desk I pondered on the events of the morning. I woke up, showered, and saw a doggie die. Not an auspicious beginning. Throughout the course of the day, I had two conference calls with unsatisfied customers (who were none too polite), dealt with a recurring computer glitch (someone designed a flyer on a PC and wanted me to alter it on my Macintosh - that always, always leads to problems), and had a laser printer go whacky on me. The good part of the day, I guess, is that the upset customer was actually rather happy with what I'd designed - they were upset about something a different department was supposed to have handled. And my boss knew it.

So, by the time I got home Wednesday afternoon I found myself in a somewhat pensive mood, if not downright depressed. But the thought of a four-day weekend made me happy!

About six o'clock Wednesday night we made our way to our friends' new night club, The Chesterfield Friday Night Social Club. Rick and Brent did a fantastic job remodeling the existing club in that location! Being a drummer in the Smokin' Clams, Rick knew exactly how to design the stage. It's a work of art! The speakers are all hidden, the majority of all the cords are hidden, the stage is the perfect size, it's visible from almost everywhere in the club, and all the equipment is top-notch. We had a VERY good time there, watching Wavelength play (see picture to the right - you can click on it to see a larger version). Good band, good people! Dagmar and I were there talking with friends and watching the band until nearly two in the morning. We're hoping to go back to watch The Instigators tomorrow night if we can. I'm excited about having a "music-friendly" club in town!

Thursday morning, however, came a little too early. I woke up a little when my beloved bride got out of bed. Then I woke up again a little later, realizing that it was too quiet in the house. I got up and wandered out, only to find her snoring gently on the couch. I tucked the blankies around her a little tighter and wandered off to tend to my morning ablution. Once properly bathed and deemed acceptable in public, I tried to wake my Viennese bride. I wiggled her little foot. I talked gently at her. I dropped the cat on her tummy. No reaction at all... So I went in the kitchen and started making popcorn. Within seconds she was up...

"Mmmmm..." she said. "Smells like popcorn for breakfast!" I pointed to the clock. "It's afternoon," I said. "You've been sleeping hard!"

"Well," she said, heading towards the water closet, "I took an allergy pill last night. They always knock me out." With that she closed the door to the bathroom and proceeded to do whatever women do behind closed bathroom doors.

I finished making the popcorn, made myself some chocolate milk and padded into the living room. After a little while I realized it was a bit too quiet in the house again. I tippie-toed up to the restroom door and politely tapped. "Snookums, are you okay?" Silence. I tried again... "Honey, are you all right?" Nothing. I put my ear closer to the door. She was snoring. She fell asleep sitting there. I had to laugh...

Eventually we all managed to get up and dressed and out the door to attend the family fest. We started by picking up Dagmar's mother, Kriemhild (a.k.a. "Mama K") and heading out to the family farm. The first thing I noticed when we got to the farm was the kitty hut. Pops had taken leftover pieces of his new garage/dining room addition and built an insulated house for the cats, complete with in-floor radiant heat. (This is especially funny when you realize that Pops has always claimed he hates cats. But any time you see him around the farm, you'll see three or four cats trailing along behind him...) We took a tour of the new dining room and garage, then headed into LeMars to hook up with my brother's family.

At my brother's house, we had Thanksgiving, at least one birthday, and Christmas all at the same time. (My sister-in-law's relatives were there, some from out of town, so they were taking advantage of the opportunity.) Needless to say, there were a lot of chocolate-covered children running amok throughout the house on a sugar high playing with their new toys, such as adorable god-daughter Maddie there on the right. It was quite the sight! We had fun watching the kids having fun.

Once home, happily stuffed with turkey, Dagmar and I took sleepy pills and have been pleasantly groggy ever since. (Though I did have a strange dream about space aliens.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bah! Humbug! Drat! Shucks!

Why, Oh Why?

"Vhat are you doing?" asked my beloved Austrian bride. "Aren't you going to eat anything for supper? Dry up and blow away, you vill."

I ceased my aimless wandering about, realizing I was in the kitchen. "What? Oh, no, I'll eat later," I said. "I'm saving it for the game."

"Oh yes," she said, rummaging around in the refrigerator for her daily dose of fresh vegetables and fruits and other icky things. "Da Packers und de Minnesoda Wikings. Big game. Should be good. Now vhat are you doing?"

"I'm waiting," I said. "I have to wait for the game. The game will be on at eight. I have to wait until then. I want to see the game. It's going to be a good game." I don't normally drink coffee, and I try to limit myself to one can of diet cola a day as caffeine tends to make me pee a lot. And it keeps me awake. And it makes me talk fast. But, knowing that I wanted to stay up past my normal 7:48 p.m. bedtime, I indulged in a second soda. "It's the Packers and the Vikings at Lambeau Field, the Frozen Tundra. It's the biggest game of the year," I blurted.

"I know," replied my Viennese bride, reaching for the olive oil (extra virgin). "It's de biggest game of de year, except for the last time they played each udder three veeks ago." Seeing me gearing up for an indignant sputter, she quickly continued. "But dat vas different, I know. Dat vas in Minnesoda. Dis is in Lambeau. You go play on your computer or something. De game doesn't start for three hours, you know. Now go do something."

I made half-hearted attempts to practice my bass. Usually that distracts me, but not today. I turned it up loud enough to bother the neighbors, figuring it was a pre-emptive strike - they don't usually turn their stereo up until 7:49 p.m. I was still distracted. The big game. My mighty Green Bay Packers were taking their mighty two-and-seven record against the pathetic Vikings and their wimpy four-and-five record. Only two more hours until kickoff! I set my bass down and padded to the computer.

"Is de game on yet?" asked my beloved from the other room. "Vhat channel is it on? Do you think Brett Favre will have a good game?"

"I hope so," said I. "The game doesn't start until eight. It's on channel ten. The pregame is on channel twenty-four, but I can't bear to watch it. They might say something bad about the Packers."

"Okay," replied my bride. "I'll vatch it for you." I heard the noises of channels being changed in the other room. "Ah, there it is! They're talking about the Eagles. Vhen did McNabb get hurt? Vill he be able to play next week?"

"He got whapped right in the hernia last week," I answered. I edged closer to the bedroom, hoping for a peek at the television, but not wanting to see anything. "What are they saying about the Packers?" I hopped up and down a little on one foot. That made me feel better.

"Nothink. They aren't saying anythink about de Packers. Just about Donovan McNabb and that Teeyo guy. Didn't dey fire him for beink stupid?"

I sat back down at the computer. "Yep, the poor Eagles are in trouble. McNabb's out and T.O. is out..." I resigned myself to waiting once more.

Finally... FINALLY my bloodshot eyes beheld the numbers on the VCR click from 7:55 to 7:56. Time to throw the last piece of pizza in the microwave and make a nice glass of chocolate milk. Wham, slam, beep beep stir grab the crackers too run to the living room where's the remote push the button "ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL" forgot the fork don't need it anyway found another adjust the coffee table got the food got the milk got the remote got a fork I'M READY! My eyes venture upward to the TV set to behold Al Michaels and John Madden. Beautiful!

As the kickoff happened and the teams were making their fast-forward chess moves preparing for the return my fork quiveringly made it's first touch of pizza. WHAM the guy catches the ball. THUNK goes my fork through the pizza. Timing is everything, you know... Rituals must be observed.

I sat, enthralled, through the first quarter of the game. Neither team seemed to be able to get much done, though both defenses seemed to be playing well. Finished with my pizza, I fluffed up my pillow and leaned back on the couch. The second quarter started.

Eyes half open, my brain vaguely registered the halftime score. I rolled over and grabbed the blanket. It's so comfy here on the couch...

"Did I just hear you snorink?"

"Wha? What? Huh?" I tried hard not to sputter as I sat up. "No, I was just breathing deep. It's good for you." My wife was standing in front of the TV.

"You were snorink," she said with a smile. "It's tied, seventeen to seventeen. I thought you'd like to see dis." With that she trotted back into the bedroom. I love that woman!

Seventeen to seventeen. Packers and Vikings, fourth quarter, Lambeau field, a tummy full of pizza... It just doesn't get any better! Life is good! Wait... The Vikings have the ball, and there's only a minute and a half left in the game. Not good. Oh, but they're way out of position - they'd have to get at least twenty yards on this next play to get into field goal position. Their receivers haven't been too good tonight, nothing to worry about...

ACK! Who was supposed to cover THAT guy? Oh, geeze... The Vikings just got a good twenty yards and are in field goal position. Oh, no... They're gonna try for three points...

Life is miserable when you lose by three points with two seconds left on the clock.

Feeling fat and bloated from all the pizza I ate, I tried to get back to sleep. No dice. I snuck back into the bedroom and tried to curl up with my beloved, only to find a cat snoozing on my pillow. Life is miserable. Terrible. Back to the couch I go. It's gonna be a long season... But, it's better to have been a fan and lost than never to have been a fan at all.

Things I Think Up When I Can't Sleep

If you start to get bored with life, if you start to wonder if there really is a God, behold the magic in popcorn. Popcorn couldn't have happened by accident, could it? Is popcorn God's little joke?

Did civilization really start because our ancestors discovered beer? A theory holds that we went from a nomadic hunter-gatherer society to settling down and growing grain simply so we could brew beer. Interesting...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Steamed! Steamed I Am!


Sorry I've not blogged lately. I've been too angry. Every time I'd start writing something, it ended up sounding like an uneducated, angry rant. Which, basically, is what it was. So I'm starting over. I'm gonna start with local stuff first, then move on to the stuff that raises my blood pressure. I was hoping to add a few "Pictures of the Day," but I'm having woes indeed trying to get photos to upload today. That makes me sad.

Snow Snoozing

I'm so proud of my beloved bride Dagmar! Friday night she slept out in the cold, raising money for homeless. Dagmar raised $130 by herself; the grand total raised was over $20,000! I'm proud, not only of my wife, but of Sioux City in general and all the people who donated in particular. The money will be split among three different agencies to help the homeless, and planners are hoping to make this an annual event. (I've been trying to upload a picture of a few tents leaning gamely into the wind with several damp, cold-looking people wandering about in a field, but the photo doesn't want to cooperate today for some reason.)

This generosity is especially needed now that the Republicans have forced their budget through the House of Representatives... Homelessness will be on the rise in our fair city thanks to our shortsighted elected officials in Washington. But more on that later.

Surprise of the Day

I watched the Chicago Bears play football today, and I saw something refreshing. Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad ran down the field all tangled up with a defender. Muhammed missed the pass. Instead of jumping up and down in front of an official demanding a penalty against the defender, Muhammed simply shrugged his shoulders, as if to say "Shoot, I missed that one," and trotted back to the huddle.

On another play, a Bear running back (I didn't see his name) scampered through traffic for a rather impressive first down. I was expecting him to jump up and do the mandatory "NFL Happy Dance," looking like a fool, spiking the ball and pointing at himself like he's Superman. Instead, the back simply tossed the ball to the nearest official and made his way back to the huddle.

Well done! It was nice to see some class in the NFL. I hope it spreads!

On the other end of the spectrum, a Houston Texan ran a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. He was understandably excited and jumped into the stands (which didn't bother me in itself - 99-yard touchdowns are rare, and the poor Texans are having a tough year so far). Right beside the player was a fan, dropping his beer and fumbling for his homemade sign, hoping to wave it in front of the cameras. It read "Acme Meat Market, Pasedena, Texas." That upset me. It was obvious that the guy couldn't care less about the game, he just wanted to get free advertising. Thankfully the camera turned quickly away. (It wasn't really "Acme Meat Market," I'm not gonna tell you exactly which meat market it was. That would defeat the purpose, you see.)


As Mark Twain once wrote, "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time... And your government when they deserve it." source

Several more people have proven themselves (to me at least) to be untrustworthy "loose cannons" in the past few weeks, and have lost my support. The list grows... It used to consist simply of the Bush administration (who have persistently and consistently lied to us about the war in Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, al-Quaeda, the ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Quaeda, and myriad other rather important items). The notables in that list include:

President G. Walker Bush. He took us to war under false pretenses.

Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney. He advocates torture. Nice guy.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He can't seem to find truth anywhere.

Dr. Condoleeza Rice. I had hope for Dr. Rice, but she followed in Colin Powell's footsteps, unfortunately, in blindly following Mr. Rumsfeld's lead. Mr. Powell did, eventually, resign.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, indicted for money laundering, etc. etc.

There are too many more to list, quite frankly. Scooter Libby, that other guy who was caught making illegal trades, the people who are lying about the Valerie Plame case...

The new list includes:

Representative Steve King from Kiron, Iowa. According to Richard Doak of the Des Moines Register, Mr. King "suggested building a razor-wire-topped fence along the Mexican border." The Des Moines Register Editorial Board said King "...later used borderline racist code words about the need for 'cultural continuity' in America," and said his fence idea is "barely disguised bigotry cloaked in phony pieties." Mr. King also recently voted in lockstep with the Republican line to cut social welfare while at the same time granting $70 billion in tax cuts to the rich. But more on that later... In my eyes, Mr. King is an embarrassment to Iowa.

Iowa's Tom Latham voted yes on the budget. (I'll get to that in a minute.)

Iowa's Jim Nussle (Republican candidate for governor). He also voted to cut gramma's Medicare in order to fund tax breaks for the richest in America.

Alaska's Senator Ted Stevens. Mr. Stevens has had several meltdowns lately. One of the more notable tantrums involved Mr. Stevens refusing to relinquish some $453 million earmarked for building bridges in Alaska. I saw the clip on TV - I think he actually barked. Many people thought that the money could be better used for hurricane relief efforts, but Mr. Stevens disagreed. According to the Washington Post, one of the bridges to be built would link 50 people to the mainland. The money not used for that bridge would be a down payment for a billion-dollar bridge to a nearly abandoned port near Anchorage. Mr. Stevens claimed people were discriminating against Alaska when they asked for some of that money to help homeless people. It turns out that Alaska receives $1.89 in federal money for every $1 they pay in taxes. Kudos to Mr. Stevens for working hard for his state and his electorate; it's a pity that he's willing to sacrifice his country. source Mr. Stevens was also in charge of the hearings regarding the big oil companies' record profits at a time when Americans are scrambling to find money to pay their rising gas and heating bills. The very first thing Mr. Stevens did in the hearings was to rule that there was no reason to swear the oil companies' CEO's to tell the truth, thus invalidating the entire hearings. At stake? Drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Ohio Republican Representative Jean Schmidt has embarrassed herself and her political party by making statements on the Floor that Representative John P. Murtha was a coward for saying it's time to start thinking of bringing troops home from Iraq. Evidently, Ms. Schmidt didn't know that Mr. Murtha spent 37 years in the Marine Corps, served in combat in Vietnam, is very highly decorated, and is in fact considered "one of the most respected military authorities in the House." The House of Representatives exploded, outraged Democrats hollering at Ms. Schmidt. When the debate resumed, Ms. Schmidt retracted her comments, and asked that her words be withdrawn from the Congressional Record. source It's nice to know she sticks by what she says...

The Budget, Finally

You know, I'm still too mad to talk intelligently about this. The United States House of Representatives voted recently to slash the budget by some $50 billion by cutting Medicaid, food stamps, student loans and myriad other social programs (including $15 million for Iowa's "deadbeat dad finder" program, according to the Des Moines Register). At the same time, they are giving some $70 billion in tax breaks to America's richest people. The budget passed by two votes. All Democrats voted against the budget, as did some Republicans. It's a bad deal. Seriously bad. There are solid figures here if you're interested.

Besides cutting social programs, the budget will take money away from farm subsidies, which will impact Iowa's economy in a number of ways. As a double-whammy to farmers, the budget also strips money away from alternate energy development, namely soy and corn based fuels.

Fortunately, the budget still has to pass the Senate. Please, let your Senator know how you feel about this. Do some research; don't take my word for it. Please, please form your own opinion and LET THOSE IN POWER KNOW WHAT IT IS.

I'm off my soapbox now. Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Quick Hits

Snoozing in the Snow for Charity

I don't know if you heard, but my beloved Austrian bride is gonna be sleeping in the park this Friday as part of a fund raising effort to raise funds for Siouxland's homeless. If you'd like to make a pledge, that'd be cool - just e-mail me. Either way, please spread the word if you can - it's for a good cause.

Public Service Announcement:

I just received this e-mail from my father:

The Center for Disease Control has released a list of symptoms of the bird flu.
If you experience any of the following, please seek medical treatment immediately:
1. High Fever
2. Congestion
3. Nausea
4. Fatigue
5. Aching in the joints
6. An irresistible urge to poop on someone's windshield.

Picture of the Day

Last week I was riding my motorcycle. This week I'm playing in snow. Welcome to Iowa.

Quick Links

Some of the places I like to go:

Word Play - I like "Boggler."
On-Line Crosswords - Click on the "Complete Them Online" link.
Overstock.com - You really can get some stuff cheap...
Woodbury County Democrats - There are three of us. But we're feisty!
Google News - Go to Google, click on "News," oddly enough.
BBC News - For a different perspective...
News Map - This takes getting used to. It shows the news in a different way!
Smokin' Clams - Of course.
The Daily Show - The most intelligent show on television is on the Comedy Channel.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Holy Cow!

If'n You Don't Like the Weather, Just Wait...

Last week I was riding my motorcycle, enjoying the sunshine, watching the birds twitter and chirp. This week I'm shoveling the walk, hunched against the wind, watching the birds twitch and shiver. Things got nasty in a hurry! It's not good on a body.

The past few years have been odd, to say the least. The summer of 2004 never really happened. It was gray, chilly and damp most of the summer. Last winter never really happened, either. It was gray, chilly and damp, but it never really snowed, nor did we get our traditional bitter, bone-snapping January freeze. This summer actually started a bit early, and was mostly sunny and warm all summer. And all fall. In fact, it was in the 70's just a few days ago. Now it's snowing.

We've only had a few storms, and most of them were out of season. When's the last time you remember tornadoes in November? Say what you want about global warming, but the weather patterns are changing. I remember as a child being snowed in at the farm for weeks at a time. I remember jumping off the roof of the house into the snow for fun. That surely didn't happen last year - I think I only had to scoop my walk three times, and I don't remember there being more than an inch or two of snow on the ground at any given time.

What kind of world are we leaving behind? It scares me...

Poll Vaulting

Here's an interesting fact for you from CNN: "In the poll, 56 percent of registered voters said they would be likely to vote against a local candidate supported by Bush, while 34 percent said the opposite. Only 9 percent said their first choice in next year's elections would be a Republican who supports Bush on almost every major issue." source (The italics are mine.)

That ties in well with this particular gem from the New Jersey Star-Ledger...

"Doug Forrester, in his first postelection interview, laid the blame for his loss in the governor's race last week directly at the feet of President Bush. He said the public's growing disaffection with Bush, especially after Hurricane Katrina, made it impossible for his campaign to overcome the built-in advantage Democrats have in a blue state like New Jersey."

I thought it was interesting.

Huh? Can you do that?

U.S. President G. Walker Bush made what many believe may be the worst speech of his career last Friday. On Veterans' Day, Mr. Bush gave a 50+ minute speech, during which he said: "While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." As Jon Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show, that's when the President started rewriting history. Just about everything he said after that was either an outright lie or was just plain incorrect. But he mentioned nine-eleven, so if you disagree with him you're unpatriotic.

It makes me sad. But it's dinner time, so I'll quit being sad now and go eat. That always makes me happy...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Oh geeze...

How Embarrassing...

I was poking about BBC's news web site this afternoon. I ran across a section called "Have Your Say," where people from all nations can leave comments on a topic chosen by BBC. The topic that interested me was "Is President Bush the leader you expected?" While I didn't read all 910 comments that were available, those that I did read (more or less by random) seemed to have a common thread.

"George Bush has been an unmitigated disaster, not just for the US, but also for the rest of the world. Under his 'leadership,' the US has become to be widely regarded as interfering in other countries' matters without justification, breaking international law, ignoring the damages to the environment caused by industrialisation and commerce and running down the social security provisions in the US. So, yes, he is precisely the kind of leader I expected him to be."
Rustam Roy, London, United Kingdom

"It is a reflection on the ineffectiveness of the US electoral system that people like Bush can get elected in the first place. Never has such an ignorant person been elected to such a powerful position. And I pray they never will be again. It is embarrassing to listen to him speaking in the company of orators like Tony Blair or Kofi Annan. Surely the Americans can do better than this!"
CC Park, London, United Kingdom

"Bush is, sadly, exactly the president I expected him to be. Anyone who is surprised by his actions and the repercussions of his policies has had their heads in the sand."
wendy, auckland, NZ

In other words, people who are NOT from the United States seem to realize that U.S. President George Walker Bush is not doing his job well. The comments from Americans fell into three major categories (again, I did not read all the comments, I merely nibbled). The first category is the "You're all idiots, Bush is a genius" category. The second is "I'm embarrassed to be an American" (this seems to be the largest category of the three). The last category consists of incoherent ranting. (I did notice that the more incoherent a comment was, the more likely it was to be pro-Bush. There were exceptions to that, but they were rare.)

Some comments were just plain scary:

"Voted for Bush twice. Could you imagine the mess we'd be in if Gore was the presidnt or Kerry. I shudder to think how worse off we would be with them in office. High taxes, slow growth, our civilians being bombed at will by Islamic terrorists. Oh but the rest of the world would respect us, yeah while they walked all over us."
Robert Harris, usa

"Mr. Bush is only going to bring the United States of America down at a faster rate. That is why I voted for him and he has not disappointed me."
Alejandro, Washington, DC

It's my personal belief that if Mr. Al Gore had been elected in 2000 (one of my favorite bumper stickers reads: "Re-Elect Gore in 2004") we'd all be working on solar-powered Macintosh computers and riding around on Segways, smiling and waving at all the happy people. However, Mr. Gore did not make it to office, and we're left to pick up the pieces. The trick now is to figure out the best way to do so.

It's obvious that people in other countries see that we have a problem, even if some of us Americans don't yet realize it. My wife's relatives were to come to the U.S. recently for a family reunion. We ended up holding the reunion in Canada, though, because many of the Europeans didn't want to come to the U.S. while Mr. Bush was in office. Some were fearful of being detained, others were afraid of being mobbed or attacked on the street. That makes me sad.

It seems to me that one of the first pieces we need to fix in our peculiar puzzle should be international relations. The term "Global Village" isn't an empty phrase, it's turning into reality. All nations need to work together if we're going to sustain economic growth and achieve any kind of peace. Since the elections in 2000, our reputation in the eyes of the world has been shot. How do we fix it? Well, how do you regain any kind of lost trust? The first thing we need to do is to adopt a more confident stance, not in aggression, but showing an internal strength. Then we need to quietly go, hat in hand, and apologize to those nations that we've crossed. After that, we need to keep our mouth firmly shut. Offer help where it's needed. Diplomatically keep our nose out of others' affairs.

What we cannot do is charge through the world without consideration to others. If we feel the need to censure North Korea, we need to gain the support of the global community first. Cooperation and diplomacy are NOT signs of weakness or lack of leadership.

Gas Me Up, Sparky!

Another piece to be fixed is the economy. I'm certainly no economist (as can be seen by a quick glance at my personal finances; or rather the lack thereof), but it seems obvious to me that we need to do something about our dependence on oil, both foreign and domestic. Simple legislation could fix many of our woes - pass a law that all government vehicles (military excluded) be gradually replaced with hybrid or electric vehicles. Cut the $2.6 billion (not million, billion) tax credits we're giving to the U.S. oil industry at a time they're making record profits. Slap a luxury tax on those huge gas-guzzling pick-em-up trucks and SUV's that are prowling the streets (there is NO reason for anyone living in a city to own a Hummer). If you're a farmer or own a construction company, fine - have a truck. If you feel you need that four-wheel drive to get you ten blocks across town in the winter, pay the tax. While we're at it, perhaps a one or two dollar tax on every gallon of gas would shake things up a bit. At least it'd get us thinking seriously about the problem!

I'm about half serious about those ideas. I'm very serious when I say we need to stir things up in regards to the oil industry! It's gonna be a tough one to figure out...

(Short side-comment: Did you know that Dr. Condoleeza Rice is the poorest of Mr. Bush's posse? Did you know that, being the poorest member of his advisors, she has an oil tanker named after her?)

The Grassroots of the Matter

But what, you may ask, can we do here and now? Lots, but some of it ain't easy.

We need to send a strong message to those currently in power that we're aware of what they're trying to do (as in Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney circumventing the Geneva Conventions in regard to torture) and that we won't put up with it. We need to tell them that we really kind of like the environment. We need to tell them to protect our weak and poor and elderly. We need to tell them that education and health care are important to us. Call your Senator, e-mail your Congressman, write letters to the editor. But the very first thing we need to do is to sit down and figure out exactly what it is we want and what our priorities are. Read up on local politics. Participate. Start a dialogue, or join one. This is the time; we need to start hashing some of this stuff out amongst ourselves now so we can show a united front at election time.

We must get our local leaders to pay attention, too. Electing Mr. Jim Rixner to the City Council is a good start! Now we need to support him - let him know we're here, what our views are... We need to find ways to help him with his agenda.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Slow Saturday

Photos of the Day

We took this picture whilst on a walk along Sioux City's Riverfront. On Veterans' Day, November 11, it was a rather startling 73 degrees...

Dagmar took this picture of Fruitloop. It's a cool effect - you put your finger over the flash and things look red.

Slow Saturday Indeed!

We woke up this morning, cleaned the house, mopped, swept, vacuumed, dusted, straightened, put things away and even washed things. Then we took a nap; the whole family crashed on the couch in a big pile and snoozed for a while in the most comfortable manner imaginable. After a nice lunch involving roast beef (cooked European style of course), noodles, corn, veggies for Dagmar, and little mouse-flavored kibble for Fruitloop kitty, my beloved Viennese bride started fiddling with her makeup.

"Hey, where are you going?" I asked.

"I'm goink to Mamma's class," she replied. "I told you dis yesterday."

"Oh," I said. Dagmar and her mother are awfully close; they came to America together and have stuck beside each other ever since. It's kind of touching. "What's she teaching today?"

"Women in the Bible. I told you dis yesterday." Fruitloop looked at me and nodded.

"Oh," I said. "Is it okay if I stay home and take a nap?"

Dagmar agreed that a nap would be the most harmless thing I could do whilst she was off learning things, so Fruity and I headed back to the couch. Within minutes we were both snoring.

So now the house is clean, the wife is educated, the cat is still happily snoozing, and I'm all relaxed. Life just doesn't get any better... I even have popcorn!

But They Look So Normal...

I've been to Kansas. They have regular paved roads and road signs and, gosh, everything seems so normal... But their school system is STILL mucking about with mysticism. I guess the school board there wants to include "intelligent design" in the curriculum, or at least have a statement read in each science class regarding alternatives to the "theory" of evolution. source

Evolution is a theory in the same manner that gravity is a theory. Trust me on that. But for me, the big issue is simple - parents need to take responsibility for teaching religion to their children and NOT expect the state to do so. The state is already hard-pressed to teach readin', ritin' and 'rithmatic.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Results are In!

The Ship is Sinking

It seems that the republicans are drilling holes in their boat again. (Probably looking for oil, I imagine...) It seems that most of the candidates in last Tuesday's elections who supported U.S. President George Walker Bush, or were supported by Mr. Bush, lost their election. In fact, many candidates were actively ducking the President before election day, fearful that his influence would be detrimental. It was.

I realize that this news is several days old (hey, I've been busy), but it bears repeating...

Mr. Bush stopped off in Virginia the day before the election, campaigning for republican nominee Jerry W. Kilgore. Mr. Kilgore lost his bid for governor to democrat Timothy M. Kaine. The republicans were hoping for a late surge of conservative voters to save the day for them, but it didn't happen.

Democrat Jon Corzine won the governorship in New Jersey over republican Douglas R. Forrester. That makes me happy...

The mayor of St. Paul, MN (a democrat) supported Mr. Bush last year. He was voted out of office by a two-to-one margin, replaced by another democrat, Chris Coleman. Hmmm...

In California, republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger embraced four ballot initiatives. Mr. Schwarzenneger has been, until recently, rather close to Mr. Bush. However, Mr. Schwarzenneger found himself in the unenviable position of trying to KEEP the President of the United States from coming for a visit. All four initiatives were voted down (a victory for unions, as one of the initiatives was anti-union).

Three mayoral races were won by eighteen-year-old high school students, and two high school students have been elected to city councils. Said Hillsdale, MI mayor Michael Sessions, "...From 7:50 to 2:30 I'm a student. From 3 to 6, I''m going to be out fulfilling this job as mayor." source

Closer to home, Sioux City has elected Mr. Jim Rixner to the City Council. However, the other democratic nominee did not make the cut. But, the city is now one Council member closer to sanity than we were last week...

One of the more interesting things to happen last Tuesday has conservative televangelist millionaire Mr. Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson (who owns both a refinery and a diamond mine, I think) foaming at the mouth. Again. He seems to do that with surprising regularity, much to my delight. It seems that a nine-member school board in Dover, PA, tried to introduce "intelligent design" to their high school students. Eight of the nine board members were up for election, and all eight were replaced by the voters. Mr. Robertson used his television show, The 700 Club, to say, "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city." He continued, "And don't wonder why he hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city." source I guess Mr. Robertson isn't happy running his own empire, he wants to run everyone else's as well. (For more reading on my thoughts about Mr. Robertson, and a few of Mr. Robertson's more interesting quotes, click here.) It seems to me that teaching religion is the parents' responsibility, not the government's. And that's the end of this fairly mild rant.

You're gonna cut my WHAT?

The House of Representatives postponed a bill recently. They couldn't get the votes they needed to pass the bill, which, if passed, would allow drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, cut farm payments, cut social programs, increase Medicaid co-payments, restrict food-stamp eligibility, and trim student loans. I can't really think of anything they forgot to include in that list... Except for a salary cut for Congressmen and Senators. They seem pretty happy to take away from the poor right now. Thankfully the bill was postponed, and the part about drilling in the Arctic was removed (temporarily). Evidently it was a bit much for even some republicans to swallow, as they could have passed the bill had all republicans followed party line. source

Why do the republicans want to think about the budget now instead of when they decided to go to war in Iraq? (And, speaking of war, why aren't we doing more about Osama bin Laden? Remember him? And just when did our government decide that their definition of the word "torture" is different from everyone else's? And just when did Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney start actively campaigning FOR torture? What's up with that? When did my blood pressure get so high?) What do you think the odds are that Mr. Bush will try to buy goodwill for the republicans in 2007-2008 by announcing a "tax cut" for the people? Where is THAT money gonna come from?

At the moment, the Chief Executive Officers of the five largest oil companies in the United States are hanging out in Washington, D.C., trying to answer some very embarrassing questions from the Senate - such as "Why, when people are struggling to pay for gas and oil due to high prices, have you announced record profits?" The hearings didn't go well for anyone. Why? According to the Washington Post, "...maybe it was committee co-chairman Ted Stevens of Alaska, so cloyingly deferential to his corporate witnesses one had to wonder if he was auditioning for the job of head waiter at the grille room of the Petroleum Club in Houston." source Mr. Stevens, a republican, has make quite a name for himself lately. He pushed through an obscenely large bill to give Alaska millions and millions and millions of dollars to build a bridge for around 50 people (no, I'm not making that up). Then the two hurricanes hit. His fellow Senators asked Mr. Stevens to give the money earmarked for his bridge back, hoping to give the millions and millions of dollars to Katrina victims. Mr. Stevens actually BARKED at them. "NO!" I saw it on The Daily Show. It made me laugh, until I remembered that he's actually in power...

Back to oil... The oilmen told the Senate that high oil prices will lead to the oil companies being able to expand their operations, thus leading to lower oil prices. I find that hard to believe, somehow. Especially since any increase in U.S. production would be so small as to have no effect on global prices (which makes me wonder why they're so eager to drill in the Alaska Refuge).

I have nothing against a company earning money, and keeping it, but I was a bit upset to see that one of the CEO's made somewhere in the neighborhood of $21 million last year. That seems a bit ridiculous to me, especially as I have a reel mower and I walk to work because I can't afford gas any more. (Actually, I probably could afford the gas if I wanted to, but I hate the thought of giving the oil companies more money.) Honestly, does anyone (including professional athletes) really EARN over a million dollars a year? Methinks they get it because they convince people they're worth it, not because they really are worth it...

Meanwhile, everything that gets shipped by rail, truck or ship, will cost more due to the rising cost of oil and gas.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Election Day!

The Day's Events

Well, I voted. Then I went to work. At work I worked, sort of. Then I went for the season's last ride on our pretty motorcycle, it being a very unseasonable 74 degrees and all. Then I took the bike in for winter storage... A sad day indeed. But, not having a garage door, and having had the bike egged this summer, I'm willing to pay to have it in a safe place. Besides, I'm not mechanically ept enough to keep the battery tended and change the oil and all that good stuff...

Now I'm desperately trying to stay awake long enough to get the election results. I'm most interested in our City Council and in California's ballot initiatives. I'm really hoping California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger gets his proposals rejected. He has taken a state that was $6 billion in debt and has somehow made it worse. (I heard that on the news today; I have nothing to back that statement up with, other than "I heard it on TV so it must be true.") An interesting fact: My lovely wife is from the same part of Austria as Mr. Schwarzenneger; she tells me that the Austrians try rather diligently to distance themselves from Aahnold. I guess they're embarrassed by his politics.

I doubt I'll be awake long enough to hear any meaningful results... If anyone's interested, you can keep track of Woodbury County's elections "live" by clicking here.

Picture of the Day

Yes, I tweaked it. I saw this little guy in Bacon Creek Park today as I was taking a break on my ride. It looks better if you click on it and look at the larger image.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Ham 'n Potatoes! Yay!

Sleep in? Sure...

I woke up this morning in the same fashion I usually wake up. Startled, cold, and snotty. My little feline buddy Fruitloop has a nasty habit of worming his way under the covers and poking at me with his cold nose at about 4:30 every morning. The cold nose in question usually hits me right in the small of the back, which generally leads me to engage in the normal "startle reflex" of jerking around in the bed making "wha? wha?" noises. Mr. Loop will continue to find warm unprotected parts of my body to put his cold nose on until I get up. It happens every morning, and every morning I'm surprised.

I wasn't too angry at him this morning, though. The poor kitty was, indeed, out of food. I dutifully poured dried mouse-flavored kibble into his bowl and tottered off to check my e-mail. Within minutes Fruity wandered past me and went into the bedroom. Not too long after that, my beloved wife Dagmar emerged from the bedroom, bleary-eyed and cussing under her breath in German. Fruitloop shot past her and ran to his water glass (he refuses to drink out of a dish like a normal cat) and stuck his tongue out the side of his mouth like he was dying. I do believe he made slight "ack, ack" noises as he pointed to the dry glass. Dagmar dutifully refilled the glass for the cat and sat down on the couch.

Half an hour later, Dagmar watching the news and I toying around on the Internet, we both realized the cat was missing. "Where do you tink der little Fruity might be?" asked Dagmar. Off we went to search. Seeing as how we have a very small house, finding a rather small cat isn't much of a problem. "Vood you look at dis?" said my beloved, pointing at our bed. "The stupid cat managed to get us both out of bed - now he's snoozing in our spot!"

We woke the cat up.

Local Politics

In my past few posts I've been publicly pondering the local candidates for Sioux City's city council. Until yesterday, the only information I could find on any of the candidates was through the Sioux City Journal's web site; if any of the candidates have web sites, I haven't been able to find them, I've seen nothing on TV, and none of them have knocked on my door. However, I found four flyers in my mailbox yesterday from four of the six candidates.

I'll start with Ms. Karen Van De Steeg. To be honest, I didn't know she was the Mayor of Sioux City until a few weeks ago - she's had a very quiet term, I guess. Actually, I thought we had a City Manager, not a mayor. Anyway, the post card I got in the mail, at first glance, struck me as professionally designed and well-printed in simple black and white. (You can click on the photo to see a larger image.)

My problem is with the text of the card itself. Ms. Van De Steeg implies that she's responsible for the renovation of the Marina, the "revitalization of the stockyards" (by which she means "we tore the stockyards down and sold the land to a national chain store"), and the opening of the Tyson Events Center. Fine and good... But I'd like to know exactly what her involvement in those renovation were - I'm pretty sure that the Tyson Events Center was on the drawing board long before Ms. Van De Steeg came to office. She also states that 900 new jobs were created in the past year, but she does NOT tell us where the new jobs are located (in Sioux City, in Siouxland, or in this corner of Iowa in general?), nor does she mention how many jobs were lost in the same time span. Another point she makes is "reduction in crime rates." I don't think the crime rate has gone down at all in the past four years - rather it seems to me that people have simply quit reporting many of the minor crimes because the police force has been under-funded and can't respond anyway. That's how it is in my neighborhood, anyway.

Ms. Van De Steeg lists several things that she's wanting to do in the future (presumably if she's elected). She wants to "continue to work with city staff to hold city government accountable to the people." Sounds good... Starting when? Every time I've had business with the city government (which is rare) I've gotten the run-around. Ms. Van De Steeg also wants to create more softball and soccer fields in the city and get a new museum as well. I have nothing wrong with any of this, but I'd much rather see an initiative to get the children to stay in school. Here's an idea... Give the teens in the city an hourly wage to pick up the litter and clean up the graffiti. That would give them enough money to pay the bus fare to go to the underutilized soccer fields at Riverside Park.

Now, on to James A. Haigh. On first glance, his flyer seems rather unattractive. It's a small brochure, printed in one color on very lightweight paper. The entire brochure was done in a sans-serif typeface, which I personally find hard to read as body text. (I have to do this. I'm a graphic designer. I design stuff like this for a living...) There are a few incidental typographical errors and stylistic problems, but I've seen worse. When it came in the mail, I almost threw it away without looking at it - it was ripped in several places, badly enough I can't read part of it. (Again, you can click on the picture to the right for a larger image.)

Mr. Haigh gives us MUCH more information than Ms. Van De Steeg. He lists his personal and civic experience, which is nice. My only problem with that is that there are items I simply don't understand, such as "1974 Signatory of Smithfield's first Comprehensive Plan." I'm not sure what a signatory is, I don't know where Smithfield is, and I don't know what a comprehensive plan is, either. I do know that I was six in 1974... But, to be fair, it looks as though Mr. Haigh was simply trying to give us an overview - I don't know how he could have fit any more details in his flyer.

Most of what Mr. Haigh lists under his "Goals" section involves financial jargon that I'm not qualified to comment on, but it sounds like most of what he wants to do revolves around cutting the budget through "sharp oversight" and bringing new business to the area. Okay... But while Mr. Haigh seems to be pretty keen on finance, he doesn't say anything about any other issues at all. Nothing about education, poverty, or crime. On the back side of the brochure he says, "The road to Hell is indeed paved with Privatization. When government services are privatized 'Accountability' is lost." I'm not sure if I agree completely with that; accountability is lost if a service is privatized with no competition in the marketplace.

One phrase stuck out at me. "I have no political ambition or intention of serving more than one term on the City Council." I guess that will free him up to vote his mind without thought of repercussion. But, doesn't that make him rather unaccountable to the voters? Hmmm...

Interestingly enough, Mr. Haigh was the only candidate to put his e-mail address on his flyer.

On to incumbent Dave Ferris. The post card he put out is by far the most slick and professional of the lot. Two colors, well-designed, on nice glossy, heavy paper - no problems there. But what does he say? Not much...

He seems to be running on his attendance record. His first two points tell us that he has attended 97% of the council meetings from 2002 through 2005, and that he only abstained six times. To be honest, I'm not sure if you should get a special medal for showing up, but it beats the alternative. He also claims to have helped "streamline the city workforce to promote efficiency," which sounds suspiciously like "I had a lot of city workers fired."

He goes on to point out that he "assisted local business expansion resulting in strong job growth." Is that why so many businesses on Hamilton Boulevard have gone under or moved? Granted, we have a new "super Hy-Vee" on the West Side now, but the price was two established supermarkets. People who used to walk to the "old" West Side Hy-Vee to get groceries now have to try to drag their groceries home on a bus or hire an expensive cab to go to the "new" Hy-Vee, which is rather more expensive than before. The new olive bar is nice, but I'm sad whenever I see a retiree walking across town to get groceries.

Mr. Ferris' last point is that he "prioritized infrastructure improvements - over $18 million in street and sewer improvements in 2005 alone." Good. I have no problems with that... Except that, despite numerous phone calls and e-mails to the city, my yard flooded all the way up to (and sometimes into) my front porch EVERY time it rained due to a mismanaged storm sewer. Oddly enough, that happened from 2002 to 2005 - Mr. Ferris' term as Council member.

The last candidate to send me a post card is Mr. Brent Hoffman. His post card is the worst of the bunch - poorly designed, poorly printed, hard to read quickly (my eye doesn't know where to focus on his design), and it contains almost no information of value. All we learn is that he's a native of Sioux City, and that he wants to "improve business & jobs climate, restrain city spending, and limit property taxes." He doesn't say how he's going to do these things, however.

Mr. Hoffman does say he's an "experienced public servant," but again he doesn't tell us if this means he was a U.S. Senator for seventy years, or if he was in the police academy for six months. (If I remember right, he actually was in the military, so I shouldn't tease him about that. Anyone who served in the armed forces deserves to be taken seriously. But serving in the forces does NOT mean a person automatically knows how to run a government.)

All in all, none of these four candidates impresses me much. I'm still voting for Mr. Jim Rixner, even though I've not received a mailing from him. As I've mentioned in my previous two posts, Mr. Rixner has concrete ideas on how to fix problems that actually exist in my neighborhood.

I am sad, though, that not a single candidate has said anything like, "I'm going to make sure that the city fleet of vehicles will gradually be replaced with fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles," or "We need to quit cutting bus routes in this city. Instead we need to replace our buses with smaller, fuel-efficient buses or vans and increase the routes." (Anyone who's been stuck in traffic behind one of our behemoth, smoke-belching, buses would appreciate that. Especially when you notice that there are generally only four or five passengers on our huge buses. Replace the darn things with something smaller for gosh sakes!)

Why did I entitle this missive "Ham 'n Potatoes?" Not because any of the four candidates profiled offers anything of substance, but rather 'cause that's what I'm gonna eat now, whilst watching the Lions beat up on the Vikings. (I'm not even gonna speculate on the poor Packers going against the Steelers...)

Speaking of Football...

Well, the Thugs of the Northland (see my previous post for my thoughts on the stinky Vikings) have successfully beat up the promising Lions. My beloved Packers have won only one game all season (though, oddly enough, they've outscored their combined opponents by nineteen points), and are at this point losing to the Steelers by a lousy three points.

I was wondering... Does anyone remember the last time they saw a receiver miss a pass without dancing around like an idiot trying to convince someone, anyone that he'd been cheated? It drives me nuts. Is it in the rule book that if you miss a pass you must, by rule, immediately grab your imaginary little flag and start waving it, pretending to be an official? Has anyone told you that if you do that it makes the official think, "oh, he's dancing around pointing at the other guy, so there must have been pass interference." I have a feeling that prancing in front of the official like a lunatic probably doesn't influence said official one way or the other. Take responsibility for your actions. If you miss a pass, you missed the pass. Deal with it. The officials will call pass interference if it happens, whether you act like a fool or not.

Shoot. Green Bay is now trailing by ten points. They're playing reasonably well, but they're still not winning.

The Philadelphia Eagles have benched professional loudmouth Terrell Owens for saying dumb things and generally being disuptive. I applaud that action! As good as T.O. is, if he's dividing the team, he's not worth it. I wish the NFL would take a lesson from 78-year-old coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions. He started coaching there in 1966, and is still the head coach, and is still a class act. During the game yesterday, I saw Coach Paterno take one of his players to task for an end-zone celebration. That made me happy... Yes, the player made a touchdown. Yes, that player deserves recognition and should be happy. But Coach Paterno (rightly so) seems to believe that the recognition will naturally follow the act, and that a player should maintain his dignity at all times.

As much as I enjoy football, I get tired of seeing players showing off every time they do something good. It's their job to do good. If I jumped up and started screaming and yelling and posing like an idiot every time I did my job, my boss would probably fire me.

Well, the game is over. My beloved Packers lost by ten points. I am ensaddened by that. Sniff. They have won one game and lost seven thus far this season. Reminds me of the late 1970's.


Friday, November 04, 2005

It's Friday. Finally!

The Slide Continues

I just read that in California, U.S. President George Walker Bush's approval rating has hit an all-time low. Only 34 percent approve of the job Mr. Bush is doing. Sixty-five percent have doubts about Mr. Bush's trustworthiness. One poll found that just 30 percent of the people polled felt the nation is going in the right direction source. Them's scary numbers when you're talking about the president of the United States of America. If we can't trust our own leaders, how can we expect the rest of the world to trust any of us?

Mr. Bush is in Argentina today at a summit. He was met by thousands of protesters, chanting, "Fascist Bush, you are the terrorist source." When asked how he was going to handle Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Mr. Bush commented, "Well, I will, of course, be polite. That's what the American people expect their president to do is to be a, you know, a polite person." source Actually, Mr. Bush, we expect a lot more than that... We expect you to be accountable for your actions. We expect you to make wise, educated decisions. We expect you to act on OUR behalf, not yours. We expect a lot of things, and I expect we'll continue to be disappointed.

Speaking of disappointment, the senate passed a bill yesterday allowing drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge source. Mr. Bush has been pushing this issue for five years - he does, after all, have very, very close ties to the oil industry. The pity and shame of this bill is not immediately apparent until the numbers are crunched. It turns out that the major oil companies will now be able to do pretty much whatever they want in the wildlife refuge, and, in about ten years, we'll start to get oil. The oil we will produce will last the nation for six months. To put it another way, gas prices are NOT going to fall due to this action source. We're not gonna see any results for ten or twelve years, and what we do get really isn't worth damaging the environment for, in my opinion. But, Mr. Bush's friends in the oil industry will profit, and I guess that's what's important... The republicans claim that drilling in the arctic will produce up to 736,000 jobs. I have to admit, I don't know where those jobs are going to come from. That number seems too large.

To name names, democrat Bill Nelson of Nebraska voted for this bill. He has done a few other things lately that go against party line (example - he supports Bush's latest Supreme Court nominee). A maverick? Or a man who simply votes his conscience over his constituents? It'll be interesting to see where Mr. Nelson is in a year or two.

Closer to home...

In my last post, I commented on our local elections here in Sioux City. Next Tuesday are the elections, and thus far I've not found a single candidate knocking at my door. I've been trying to research the various candidates and haven't really found much.

The Sioux City Journal is running a series of articles on the candidates. You can find the article about Jim Rixner here. I mentioned yesterday that Mr. Rixner is, thus far, the candidate I'm voting for. The article in the Journal confirms that feeling - it seems that Mr. Rixner is, in my opinion, on the right track. Incumbents Dave Ferris and Karen Van De Steeg, on the other hand, don't seem to have done much in their terms that they can point to and say, "vote for me, I did thus-and-such." In another article (found here), Ms. Van De Steeg commented on young people from moving away from Sioux City by saying, in part, "You have to go where you can find a job." That implies that our very own leaders know there are no jobs to be had in this area, and don't seem to be doing much about it. Spooky.

In both articles, Mr. Rixner seems to be the only candidate that knows what's happening.

Mr. Rixner is endorsed by the labor movement here in Sioux City, and is mentioned in a rather interesting blog on the Woodbury County Democrats web site, found here.

In the Personal Section...

Just when I start thinking that no one reads this but Dagmar and myself, someone will pop up out of the proverbial woodwork and prove they've been paying attention. Last week poor Dagmar was feeling ill, and I mentioned it on-line. Two days later she got a "Get Better" card from some friends across town. That made us both a little misty-eyed...

We're still struggling with money - we have enough to pay our bills and eat with, but that's about it. And, you know, we're pretty happy... We often curl up on the couch with the cat and a bowl of popcorn and watch TV, knowing full well that we're lucky to have a warm house and a good marriage.

But I still wish my neighbors would calm down... They scare me a little. People coming and going at all hours, screaming in the street on a regular basis, parking in my driveway, throwing trash in their yard - it's bothersome. I enjoy walking to work (it saves gas and is good for the environment and my health), but if the neighbors are out, I get in the car and drive, just so I don't have to walk past them.

I've not had a cigarette since July 26th (not that I'm counting or anything). It's getting easier every day. My lollipop consumption rate has fallen to three or four a day, and I haven't thrown anything at anyone in a couple of months now. I am, however, still waiting for my sense of humor to get back to normal. I had hoped by now that I'd have saved enough money by not smoking to get a door with a deadbolt on it, or to have my teeth fixed (I have a pesky wisdom tooth that's making an untimely arrival - sideways), but it seems that all we can do is pay our bills and hope to get by until the next payday. Oh well.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Lots of Interesting Goings-On

DeLay that Indictment!

It seems that Mr. Tom DeLay, a republican Representative from Texas and former House Majority Leader, had reason to smile when his now-infamous mug shot was snapped. Mr. DeLay has successfully lobbied to have the judge in his case removed source. It seems that Mr. DeLay didn't like the fact that State District Judge Bob Perkins has, in the past five years, donated money to democratic candidates. So, Mr. DeLay went to Mr. Perkins' boss (a republican, appointed by a republican) and had Mr. Perkins replaced.

It seems odd to me for several reasons. The first is simple: judges are supposed to be impartial. There shouldn't be any difference between a judge who votes democrat and a judge who votes republican.

The second reason this seems odd to me takes a little reverse engineering of the facts. Doesn't it seem strange that a man who has not only been arrested for money laundering, but also has had numerous ethical charges and is well known for abusing his power source, can virtually hand-pick the judge who sits on his trial? Does that seem right?

A few facts about Mr. DeLay before I move on... Did you know that Mr. DeLay's fellow republicans once signed a petition asking that DeLay be removed from office? He has lied to the FBI, he has lied on depositions, and led a power grab in Texas to gain more republican seats via redistricting - which caused Texas to waste millions of dollars in legislation whilst healthcare and education needs were being unmet source.

In general, not a man I'd trust with MY last candy bar.

Local Elections

I was poking about the Internet trying to find out what I could about our local candidates for next Tuesday's elections. It seems that the Sioux City Journal ran a series of articles about the candidates, but there's really nothing else of substance out there.

I did learn a few interesting things about the candidates from the Journal, though... It seems that there was a debate recently, but of the six candidates for City Council, only three managed to attend. Brent Hoffman, businessman, barber Donna Jensen and Jim Haigh, engineer, did not show up for the debate. Mr. Hoffman had a prior commitment, but the other two simply declined to attend source.

The three that DID make it to the debate were Mayor Karen Van De Steeg, Jim Rixner - executive director of Siouxland Mental Health, and Councilman Dave Ferris. From what I heard and read of the debate (I wasn't actually there - I learned of it after the fact), Mr. Rixner would like to help individual citizens of Sioux City by increasing police protection in the neighborhoods, putting street lights up in dark corners, making sure people have enough to eat, and generally making the city a nice place again. Ms. Van De Steeg thought the city needed a better water supply. Mr. Ferris felt that the city should encourage new housing growth for the wealthy.

From what I've heard, Mr. Rixner is the only one who seems to understand the city's true problems (as I see them) and could articulate them. He gets my vote.

If you've read this blog before, you know that my neighborhood needs help. Graffiti and vandalism is rampant, there's a very high number of homeless people wandering the streets, and I think my neighbors are shady. In one night last summer (for example) we had our door knocker stolen, a truck drove through my front yard, and a drunk passed out in the street - all in the space of ten minutes. Something needs to be done; I've informed the local police, but nothing much seems to change. The only way to get police presence in my neighborhood is to start calling the gunshots in to 911, but that just seems to irritate the dispatchers these days. (The last time it was just a neighbor shooting at another neighbor's dog.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloweeny Thoughts

I don't wanna be a cow!

Yep, yesterday was Halloween. Dagmar and I threw caution to the wind and went to watch small children. You'd think we'd know better by now than to go try to see kids when they're all jazzed up on sugar and chocolate, but for some reason we thought it was a good idea. So, off to LeMars we went.

We made it to the first intersection. "Oh," said my beloved bride, "Ve have to go to de drugstore before we go to LeMars. You're out of tummy pills." So, we took a right instead of a left and went to said drugstore for the above-mentioned tummy pills. "Okay," I said, pills in hand. "Off we go!" We fought our way through the ten-to-five traffic and eventually found ourselves in Hinton, some ten or twelve miles north of Sioux City. "Oh," I said. "We need gas." That earned me a fairly dirty look from my beloved. "Vell, hurry up, then," she said. "I vant to see the kidlets while dey still have their scary costumes on."

I pulled into the first gas station on the left. You know the one... It took about four and a half seconds to get fifteen dollars worth of gas in my car, another two minutes to run inside and pay, and about half an hour to get back on the highway. (Trains, grain trucks, and what passes for rush-hour traffic in Iowa all conspired against us.)

So, eventually, about an hour later than expected, we got to LeMars. We were giddy with glee! We get to see the nephew and nieces, including our beloved Goddaughter, Maddie! Wheee!

We caught up with my brother, Cory, and his family at their friend's house. Out of the car bolted the hippie and the Austrian. We were immediately attacked by Batman Hunter and Princess Peyton, and what appeared to be a dustmop, minus the handle. After taking the appropriate pictures of the two kids, and figuring out that the dustmop was really a Shih Tzu puppy ("It's supposed to give the kids a sense of responsibility," explained my brother, nodding wisely) we started looking around for Maddie, our Goddaughter. About that time a very small black and white cow wandered down the sidewalk, wailing in misery, little tail waddling.

Evidently, Maddie doesn't like being a cow for Halloween.

The poor child planted herself in one spot and wailed, cried, sniffed, snuffled, and generally made her unhappiness known throughout the neighborhood the whole time we were there. Meanwhile Hunter and Peyton were having a ball chasing each other and the dustmop doggy around the yard, deftly avoiding and ignoring the unhappy sister. It was quite the sight...

After a bit, things calmed down a little. We figured out that the dustmop puppy's name was really Maizie, and that she is a very nice doggy indeed. (I had to fight the urge to call her "Corndog" all night. You know... "You call her Maizie, I call her Corndog." I'm sure a few of you out there are old enough to understand that.) Oddly enough, not only did Cory and Dawn get a Shih Tzu Sunday, but fellow Clam Tim and his wife Janet also got a Shih Tzu on Sunday. I think I missed the memo.

Oh well.

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