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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Small Thoughts

STRESS relief

Sometmies, atfer werking al day tpying thigs for udder peepul, I secretely come hmoe and mispel werds un porpoise. (It makes me feel better.)

Every time I see the word "porpoise," it reminds me of this joke (warning, no one said it's a good joke):

A man had a friend who owned two very intelligent porpoises. They could do amazing tricks and were able to communicate with humans very well. After much urging, the owner agreed to sell the porpoises to his friend. "But remember this," said the seller: "The porpoises will never die as long as you feed them each one live seagull every day. As soon as you miss a day, they will die."

The new owner took the porpoises home and put them in his outdoor swimming pool, where he kept them alive and well for some time. Each day he would go down to the beach, capture a couple live seagulls, and bring them home to feed to the porpoises.

One day as he was returning home with a gull in each hand, he found a lion lying across his doorstep, basking in the sun. He panicked, because he knew that if he didn't get through to feed the porpoises, they would die, so he jumped over the lion and ran quickly into the house.

Inside, much to his surprise, were two FBI agents who promptly placed him under arrest. "What's the charge?" asked the stunned porpoise owner. "What have I done wrong?"

"You, sir," replied one of the FBI agents, "are being charged for illegally transporting captive gulls across a sedate lion for immortal porpoises!"


While I don't use foul language in my blog (if that's the only way you can express yourself, you need help), I do enjoy people who use profanity creatively. (Thanks to Bacon for pointing that one out.) Other fun blogs are chet not stupid, which deals with Iowa gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver and his, well, questionable intelligence. I always like Talk Like a Pirate, too. And this gem about another guy running for governor of our fair state.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wednesday? Already?


This is simple. Take responsibility for your actions. I've seen a lot of this not happening lately, in all aspects of life. Unfortunately, it seems that the nation at large is taking it's moral cue from the top - United States President George W. Bush and his administration. This is an administration that ran it's campaign elections claiming the high moral ground, only to get into power in 2000 via what are widely considered "strongarm tactics," thus setting the stage for the rest of the administration's term -- win at all costs, even if it means abandoning morality and ethics.

I could list myriad examples of Mr. Bush and his administration fleeing responsibility, but I'll settle for one or two recent examples.

Mr. Bush is seen on film listening to an expert tell him that the levees in New Orleans will not hold should a hurricane hit. A few days later, New Orleans is under water because the levees broke during hurricane Katrina. Guess what Mr. Bush said? "No one could have known the levees were going to break." Ducking responsibility.

Another cop-out was when Mr. Bush assured the nation that if anyone in his administration was cheating or lying, they'd be fired on the spot. When Mr. Scooter Libby was caught doing bad things, Mr. Bush poo-poo'd the incident. You see, the rules simply don't apply to them.

A bit later, lobbyist Jack Abramoff admitted to buying off half of congress. Did any of our tainted members of congress resign? No. You see, they learned from our leaders. The rules don't apply to them.

A bit later, native Sioux City embarrassment Chris Rants, a republican state representative here in Iowa, took tens of thousands of dollars from the tobacco lobbyists and in return blocked legislation to raise cigarette taxes. Did Mr. Rants resign? Or even apologize? No. He went golfing with another lobbyist. He's taking his cue from the Bush administration, you see. The rules don't apply.

Just a few days ago I read that a small town in Texas had to replace their entire police department. It seems they were taking bribes. I wonder where they got the silly idea that the rules don't apply to them? Could they have been learning from the Bush administration?

You see, the Trickle-Down theory DOES work!

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

This one's great... I heard Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on C-SPAN last night (yes, I watch C-SPAN once in a while in the middle of the night) and couldn't believe my ears. I had to look this up to make sure he really said it. He did. It's a long quote, so I'll trim it down a bit. You can see the entire version HERE on the Department of Defense's web site.

SEC. RUMSFELD: "When something happens, the people we're up against are vicious, and they lie. And they are -- obviously, they have media committees, they plan what they're going to do, they plan how they're going to manipulate the press, and they get out there fast and do it. And there's no penalty for that. Indeed, there's only rewards, because the misinformation race is around the world while, as they say, truth is still putting its boots on. Our task is to figure out what actually happened. And that means that they've got to go in there and talk to people, and it takes time, and it takes 24 hours, 48 hours, whatever it takes. And they end up -- some cases, it takes weeks to figure out what actually took place.

"And it's just very difficult. And here we are, in the 21st century, with all these means of communication and information racing around the globe, and it just makes it a very tough thing to do.

"And clearly the United states government has not gotten to the point where we are as deft and clever and facile and quick as the enemy that is perfectly capable of lying, having it printed all over the world, and there's no penalty for having lied. Indeed, there was a reward, because great many people read the lie and believed it. And it takes weeks and weeks afterwards to figure what actually took place...

..."And I don't know any solution to that, except that, you know, if you live in a small town, and one guy walks around the corner and lies to you one day, and he walks around the corner and lies to you the next day, and he walks around the corner and lies to you the third day, pretty soon you say to yourself, 'That's a liar. ... That's lying Joe.' Don't believe what he says! Don't put it in the newspaper! Don't print it! Don't repeat it! Because it's probably not true, because he's a liar."

It should be noted that Mr. Rumsfeld said all this with a straight face. Apparently the irony of the situation is lost on him... Has Mr. Rumsfeld forgotten the spin he helped orchestrate to confuse the foreign-sounding words "al-Qaeda," "Osama bin Laden," "Iraq," and "Saddam Hussein"enough that a majority of Americans believed Hussein was responsible for the terror attacks on September 11th, when in reality that's an out-and-out falsehood. A lie. A lie very similar to the ones leading up to the attack of Iraq and the bombing of Baghdad, where Mr. Rumsfeld and company convinced us that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction, when in reality there were no WMD's to be found.

Speaking of Mr. Rumsfeld...

The United States Supreme Court heard both sides argue in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case. The case is about the government's handling of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and how the detainees should be tried in court. The government wants to set up special tribunals to deal with the matter, but everyone else seems to think that this skirts beyond the boundaries of presidential powers and is in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

"The president seeks not merely to detain temporarily but to dispense life imprisonment and death through a judicial system of his own design. Anyone, anytime, may be swept into this system and forced to endure years of waiting before their cases are even heard." - Neil Katyal, the defense's counsel of record in a brief to the Supreme Court source

I saw part of this on C-SPAN. Chief Justice (and Bush appointee) John Roberts was not presiding, as he'd already ruled in the government's favor in a lower court. Justice Antonin Scalia (more on him later) pretty much said that the United States President should have the power to do anything he wants to do. Other justices, though, seemed to be of the opinion that the government's case was nutty.

They won't issue a ruling on this until sometime in June.

Personally, I think the whole affair stinks. The detainees at Guantanamo Bay have been there WAY too long. From the beginning they should have either been brought to America (not Cuba) and put on trial, or sent to the international war crimes court at the Hague. Keeping them penned up in a third nation for four years without trial is, in my opinion, an un-American thing to do. We're supposed to be the good guys, here. The attitude that we can do whatever we want to do (because, remember, the rules don't apply to us - we learned that from Mr. Bush) led to the Abu Ghraib torture as well as questionable treatment of detainees in Guantanamo. It's shameful.

Freedom of Speech at it's Finest

Judge Antonin Scalia is following in Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney's footsteps in regard to the freedom of personal expression. Evidently the Supreme Court Justice gave a reporter a hand gesture in church the other day - a gesture the reporter found obscene. The Justice denies it, of course. Because, you see, the rules don't apply to him. (Mr. Cheney, if you remember, brought a new low to congress when he told a congressman to go reproduce with himself. He didn't use that phrase, though. The phrase he chose was a bit pithier.) Justice Scalia said that the gesture was an Italian gesture meaning "I don't care." I doubt the reporter got the meaning of the gesture wrong, though. source

Here to Stay? Maybe?

Normally I'm a really nice guy. But doesn't the phrase "illegal immigrant" mean that, well, the immigrant is here illegally? I may be breaking with official party line here (there are those out there that think I lean a bit to the left), but I'm not sure that giving illegal immigrants amnesty is a good idea. They came here illegally, they are breaking the law, they should pay the consequences. Simple enough? This issue is pretty murky, and, to be honest, I've not spent much (any) time researching the topic. Can anyone tell me how this is supposed to work? Do we all get one "get out of jail free" card?

Saturday, March 25, 2006


March 26th, 2005.
As you can see, my way cool nephew Hunter
is outside flying a kite with no coat on.

March 21st, 2006
One year later, look what I'm doing...

Again, just so you don't miss the point,
these delicate little blades of green were photographed March 21st, 2005.

That same week, one year later...

Just between you and me, I think the weather this year sucks, and it has to be U.S. President G. Walker Bush's fault somehow.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


The Etymology of the Situation

A while ago I briefly pondered the phrase "under way." The thought flitted across what I refer to as "my mind" that it could be "under weigh," and may have nautical references.

I was wrong.

A ship has way on it when it is in motion, and thus the idiom to get under way [or underway] means "to begin to move," just as the idiom to be under way [or underway] is "to be moving," regardless of whether what's moving or beginning to move is a ship, a car, or a fund-raising campaign. The idea of weigh, as with an anchor, is an error in either use, although in the past many reputable authors have chosen that form. Under way and underway are both now Standard spellings of both adverbial and adjectival uses. - source

So now I know.

A rather cruddy day indeed

I forgot to take my sleepy-pill last night because I was so tired I fell asleep on the couch WAY too early. I woke up at midnight with a book on my face, a bowl of popcorn on my tummy and a smallish orange cat named Fruitloop on my chest, the TV mumbling away to itself in the corner. Oddly enough I had a Tootsie-Roll in my hand.

I set the Tootsie-Roll down, got the book off my face and nibbled on some popcorn in a speculative sort of way. It's midnight, I'm dead tired and wide awake, the cat and the wife are both snoring gently away (one of them still on my chest)... Do I force myself to get up and do something productive until I'm sleepy again? It's too late to take a sleepy-pill. Shall I continue to loll about on the couch, munching popcorn? That sounds good... I don't have to move that way.

Three-thirty a.m. rolls around. I'm still on the couch, bloodshot peepers staring glazed at the TV. The cat got up once, stretched, turned around three times, and fell back asleep on my legs. I'm out of popcorn, and the Tootsie-Roll has rolled about three inches out of reach. Gaaahhh. Might as well get up.

I extricate myself as gently as possible from the indignant cat, who favors me with a slightly reproachful and groggy-sounding "Merow." Up I stand, stray bits of popcorn falling out of my beard. I totter off to the facilities, where I'm facilitated. That bit of business over, I decide to sneak into the bedroom and snuggle with my beloved for a bit. Maybe if I get away from the TV and the reading light in the living room I'll be able to fall asleep.

Three-forty finds me in bed, staring at the fuzzy numbers of the alarm clock. "Alarm," I think. "Why isn't it called an 'awakening clock'? Why does it have to be alarming? Alarm. Alarum..." I then had the sudden realization that for the past 28 years I've been putting my glasses on the nightstand every night - right in front of the alarum clock. If I'd simply take a second to slip my spectacles sideways I may avoid the inevitable whacking of the eyeglasses that happens every morning. Odd what you think of at night.

At 3:50, the cat joins us. He curls up on my feet, yawns once, and is out like a light. My Viennese bride is happily snoozing away. I'm staring at the ceiling, wondering if those cracks have always been there. Then I realize that my eyes are closed, and if I'm seeing cracks, there's probably something wrong. Oh well...

Needless to say, when the klaxon blared at 6:25 a.m., I was finally asleep. With all due groggidity, I aimed a healthy whack at the alarm clock, missing by three inches, hitting my glasses...

"Well, we're off to a good start," thought I.

An hour and a quarter later I'd had my shower (though I was too tired to sing), coffee, and was settling down at work. By the time I'd chewed my way through the night's collection of e-mails, I had the beginnings of a headache and my left eyelid was starting to twitch. You know, this job would be a lot easier if it weren't for the pesky customers... Always wanting something! The nerve.

Shortly before lunch my e-mail in-box beeped at me. I stirred from my torpid stupor to aim my beady little eyeballs at the new message. It was from my boss. Not good... Turns out my department made a mistake last week. I accidentally left four words off a customer's newsletter, and the customer was (rightly) steamed about it. Being as proactive as possible, I made a beeline to the boss' office. "I've got documentation showing that we're okay," I said, "but push comes to shove, I made the mistake." After about an hour of being chewed out by both bosses (they questioned pretty much every aspect of my department's policies and procedures, finally concluding that we're doing everything right, but we're in the wrong anyway) I glued my left buttock back into place and resumed my torpid gawking at my computer screen.

I hate making mistakes. I've been pondering all afternoon the feasibility of changing departmental procedure to a double-proof method, (a fancy way of saying "Should me and the other guy proofread each other's stuff") even though we're not supposed to be in the business of proofreading...? Nah... After an entire afternoon of headachy contemplation, I've come to the conclusion that I do indeed have recommendations to put forth to the bosses.
  1. Chocolate pudding at 10 a.m.
  2. A basketball hoop on the loading dock
  3. Nap from 2:30 to 3
  4. Snacks at 3:30
  5. Beer in the pop machine
Wish me luck.

Monday, March 20, 2006


We Pay Them HOW Much?

There's an interesting post on The Daily Curmudgeon today. Mr. Curmudgeon points out that our current House of Representatives has been in session for a mere 19 days ALL YEAR. In the first month of 2006 House members were in session for 47 hours. That's about one work week for the rest of us. It's projected that they'll spend 97 days in Washington in 2006.

For that we pay them $165,200 a year.

For shame! If you take a week off for St. Patrick's day, you should forfeit a week's pay. I've been at my job for 13 years, and I have to fight to get two week's vacation a year. Why should congressmen get better treatment? After their first year on the job, they get one week vacation. If they take more time off than that, it should be unpaid.

I'm disappointed in our government.

So THAT'S How They Did It

It comes as no surprise, but it's so pervasive these days that it's hard to see. The Republicans are in the minority, but it doesn't seem that way because they quite simply yell louder. I flipped past that Bill Maher show the other day. He likes to get a conservative, a liberal, and a comedian together and see what happens. During the two minutes I watched the show I had the pleasure of seeing Florida republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen holler, bellow, finger-shake, yell, and generally do everything she could to intimidate the other two guests on the show - all without ever once really saying anything.

This is how the Bush administration has functioned since about 1999. They simply out shout the opposition. It doesn't matter that what they're yelling is utter nonsense - simply by saying it loudly and often, they get their way.

I'm not saying that Democrats are angels, but the trend seems to be... Well, you know where I'm going with this.

I'm disappointed in our government.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saturday Morning


First for the trivial stuff. I'll write well-crafted, important prose later.

Things are calm in the Radloff household at the moment. I'm sitting here quietly listening to MP3's randomly play. (Credence Clearwater Revival at the moment, their version of "Midnight Special," which was originally recorded by Leadbelly, I believe, in the early 20th century. I guess Mr. Leadbelly was incarcerated for some reason, and heard the other inmates singing a song about the Midnight Special - a train that would come along the tracks next to the prison. Rumor had it that if the light from the Midnight Special reflected into your cell you'd have good luck, or you'd escape, or something. It's a good story and I'm sure I've mangled it beyond all recognition. It's early and my brain is fuzzy.) I've been going through the hundreds of digital pictures I've taken in the past week. I've been too busy to tweak the color and file them away properly, so I'm doing that this morning whilst the songs sing gently.

My beloved bride of five years is snoozing in the other room. Judging by the way she's snuggled into the blankets, just her little nose poking out, it looks like she's got her morning plans well under way. (Or is that phrase supposed to be "under weigh?" It could be a nautical term, I suppose. Oh well. I digress.)

Ooh - Jethro Tull's "Bungle in the Jungle" just came on. Good song.

The cat, Fruitloop, is curled into a fuzzy little ball at my feet. He occasionally pokes his pink nose up and squints at me, making sure I'm still here, and to verify that there still isn't any nice tuna fish nearby.

"Catfish Blues" just came on. Not the Hendrix version - a live Chris Duarte recording, nineteen minutes and forty-nine seconds long. If you like Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, you'll like Duarte.

Anyway, I'm gonna make a cup of coffee and get back to tweaking and filing my photos. I shall be back in naught but a nonce. Meanwhile, here's what my computer's choosing for me to listen to (thought it's not a truly random selection, I've got the hard-core punk and funk and country filtered out):

  1. JRZ System - R.R. #1 (JRZ used to play in Sioux City a lot, they're from Omaha)
  2. Link Wray and the Wraymen - Jack the Ripper (good old surfesque music)
  3. The Radio Flyers - Let's Go Out and Play (my buddy Steve played bass for the Radio Flyers)
  4. Offspring - Original Prankster (kind of a shock after all the nice blues)
  5. Blue Habit - S.O.S. (I was in a band with Blue Habit's sax player/singer for a while)
  6. Steppenwolf - Twisted (live)
  7. The Odd Squadd - Skinny Girls (I was in a folk band with the drummer, oddly enough)
  8. Buffalo Springfield - I Am a Child
  9. Led Zeppelin - Black Dog (so THAT'S how it's supposed to go...)
  10. The Yardbirds - Rack My Mind
  11. Jimi Hendrix & the Experience - Stone Free
  12. The Beatles - I'm So Tired (I've never been in a band with anyone from the Beatles)
  13. The Radio Flyers - I Wanna Talk to You (I wonder how my buddy Steve is doing...?)
  14. Cream - Sunshine of Your Love
  15. Led Zeppelin - Since I've Been Loving You
  16. Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode
  17. The Kinks - All Day and All of the Night
  18. Pearl Jam - Running with the Devil, live (wow - they sucked at this song)
  19. Michael Hedges - Rock & Roll Part II (done with an acoustic guitar)
  20. Blues Traveler - You Reach Me

Odd how I have 2,897 songs in that particular playlist and it repeated several artists in that short time period.

Interesting photos (I had a lot more, but Blogger is having trouble with their photo upload thing again. It's frustrating.):

Ice on my fence

Mr. Billy Bacon's bass guitar.
If you look behind it, you can see Mr. Bacon himself.
(This is not PhotoShopped - it's actually a real picture.)

The Puffy Man

My beloved wife has stirred. "Ve need to talk," she said to me in that nifty accent of hers. I turned the computer down ("I'm Tired" by Savoy Brown was playing). Coffee in hand, I wandered to the living room, where she was perched on the couch. It should be noted, by the way, that the trip from the computer/dining room/library to the living room took two steps. Big house. "What's up, Buttercup?" I said.

"Do you vant to get dental insurance this year?" she asked. Since Record Printing Company, where I'm currently enslaved, changed insurance companies last year I've been on Dagmar's insurance. Record Printing's plan is poopy - they charge a hundred bucks a month, but the insurance isn't really worth it... One of my co-workers can barely walk due to his aching back, but he can't afford to go to the doctor to get it fixed. Insurance won't cover it, you see, so he's stuck being in pain. "You've been having dat visdom tooth," my wife continued. "Maybe if we have insurance you can have dem pulled."

"How much will it cost?" I asked. "It would be nice to get some work done on my pearly yellows." My teeth are a bit brighter now that I've quit smoking, but the stains are probably going to last a lifetime, unfortunately. "And that pesky wisdom tooth does hurt." I've been teething for eight or ten months now. Sucks. "It's coming in sideways. It's pushed all my other teeth over."

"For to put you on the dental plan will fifty-eight dollars a month cost."

I spit my coffee out. "Fifty-eight bucks A MONTH?" I asked. "Just for dental?"

"Well," she said, "I get all my insurance free. We pay thirty-five dollars a month for your health insurance. So all we'd pay for everything vood be less than ninety dollars a month. Dat's not bad. Some people pay four or five hundred dollars a month for insurance out of their own pocket."

By now my mental arithmetic was crunching numbers. "Say sixty dollars a month, times ten is six hundred, plus another hundred and twenty... That's about seven hundred and twenty dollars a year for insurance. What happens if I only get six hundred dollars worth of tooth-pulling done? Then we lose money!"

"Do you know how much they charge at the dentist?" my Viennese Honeybee asked. "You're not gonna get your teeth cleaned for six hundred dollars. If they pull that wisdom tooth, that's a couple thousand. Get the insurance. Go to the dentist."

I have issues with insurance. I personally think that insurance companies are to blame for a lot of what's wrong with society today. "Oh, don't worry about it. Insurance will cover it." There's the obvious problem with insurance - namely that it's mandatory. I don't like being told I have to buy something by law. Why isn't it a law that everyone must, by law, get business cards printed at the print shop I work for every year? I'd still have insurance, even if it weren't mandatory, but I hate being told what to do.

Another evil of insurance is that the costs are hidden. Ever go to a doctor and have see the prices posted somewhere? No. Why? Because no one cares how much it costs - if you have insurance, it's covered. If you don't have insurance, you die. Why is insurance so expensive? Because the doctors and hospitals charge the insurance companies a gazillion dollars for the slightest thing (we almost got stuck with a six-hundred dollar bill for a simple blood test because the insurance company didn't want to pay it).

But the worst thing of all is that I must, by law, have flood insurance and car insurance. But yet I have absolutely NO doubt that if I ever needed to use my car insurance, they'd find a way not to pay. They've gladly been taking my money for the last 20+ years, raising their rates every now and then even though I've never had an accident, but if I'd ever need them to replace my car they'd weasel out of it. Heck, my buddy (college educated professional) has been paying into insurance for years and can't afford to go to the doctor, because the insurance found a loophole and won't cover it.


My mother once got into a fender-bender in the church parking lot. She backed into the Sunday School teacher. He jumped out of his car, red in the face, and DEMANDED to know who my mother's insurance agent was, and said that they damned well better pay. My mother calmly looked at him and said, "Why, you're my insurance agent, remember?"

But I digress. Again. I was talking about the conversation Dagmar and I were having.

"So, I'll put you on my insurance," my beloved said. "Now, what are ve going to do about our health?"

"What's wrong with my health?" I asked, sipping on my coffee, reaching for a tootsie-roll, eating popcorn.

"You get out of breath if you think too hard," my wife replied. "You said you're gaining weight, too. The doctor says you have high cholesterol." She took my hand, held it for a moment, then looked at it critically. "You're puffy," she said, holding a swollen digit. "You're a puffy man."

I had to laugh. I love my wife. I truly do. But why does she have to tell me the truth ALL the time? "Puffy? I'm puffy? I'm a puffy man? I'm not puffy! I'm just retaining water..."

"Yes. That's it. You're retaining water..."

"I don't want to exercise." I said. "I won't. And you can't take my popcorn away from me." I hugged the bowl to my chest. I eased my way over to the M&M's and Tootsie-Pops and crackers...

"Ve need to exercise," she replied. "You can keep your popcorn, but maybe not the M&M's."

"I don't want to exercise." I said. "I won't." I started to get out of breath.

"Vhy won't you exercise?"

"Because I'm puffy. I don't want people to see me. I'm a puffy man."

"You can exercise with me," she said. "We can prance in front of der TV along mit der exercise videos. I won't look at you."

"No." I said. "Maybe I can ride a bicycle. I want a shiny new bicycle. I'd ride it and exercise ever day if I had a shiny new bicycle. And an iPod."

"Where vood we keep a shiny new bicycle? Ve have no garage door, und the neighbors stole our weed-whacker last year."

"In the living room, next to the lawn mower?"


At about that point I pretended to fall asleep to avoid further conversation. That's my answer to confrontation - sleep. Unfortunately, I have problems sleeping, and my vunderful vife knows it. "Vake up, you," she said. "Stinker."

We did eventually get some exercise earlier this afternoon. Unfortunately it didn't last as long as it used to, and I was indeed left panting and wheezing for quite a while afterwards. I miss smoking...


Why am I one of the very few bloggers to use my real name? I often wonder why people, given the chance to be anonymous, often do so - even if there's no reason. Some of the best blogs around are written under pseudonyms, which is okay - most of them do have e-mail addresses that you can find if you want to get in touch with the author.

But what really gets to me are the people who comment anonymously. I'm not talking about the person who quickly dashes off a note saying, "Good post," or "thought-provoking." I'm talking about the anonymous (and hence cowardly) people who read a blog and leave anonymous comments slamming the author or the author's opinions, often using obscenities, incendiary language and faulty logic. I see this most often from right-wingers leaving obscene posts on liberal blogs. (That is an admittedly skewed statistic, since I spend more time reading liberal blogs myself. If liberals are being rude on conservative blogs I simply don't see it, since I don't read conservative blogs very often).

If you have an opinion, have the stones to admit to it. If you don't feel strongly enough to sign your name to your opinion, then your opinion is worthless.

End rant.


Iowa Senator Tom Harkin signed on to Senator Russ Feingold's proposal to censure United States President George Walker Bush for breaking the law regarding wiretaps. Way to go! Mr. Harkin just made me proud. Whether Mr. Feingold's proposal is "timed right" or not, I'm proud that Mr. Harkin is willing to force the president to obey this nation's laws.

On the other hand, Sioux City has been embarrassed again by Mr. Chris Rants, a republican in the Iowa legislature who blocked gambling legislation in the state for a few days "so we can go back and talk to our constituents," (I paraphrase). Fine and dandy, but he didn't come back to Sioux City to talk about gambling. Instead he and a lobbyist from the gambling industry flew south and spent a weekend golfing. That's improper. So is Mr. Rants openly taking money from the tobacco industry and blocking legislation limiting the use of tobacco. It's also improper for Mr. Rants to stand alone in opposing legislation to limit interest rates (there's a company in Sioux City that charges something like 560% interest on short term loans) to 36%. Mr. Rants is the only one in the statehouse that openly wants to keep the poor people poor via high interest rates such as this. Mr. Rants is an embarrassment and should be removed from office.

I just heard an interview on National Public Radio with Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. President Johnson-Sirleaf is very eloquent, intelligent, gracious and open. From that brief interview, I'd gladly vote for her in any election.

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show made me laugh again. Talking about how exhausted Mr. Bush is, Mr. Stewart said, "You don't know what it's like, working 24 hours a week, seven months a year..."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Unoriginal Thoughts


Seeing as how I'm particularly pooped today and am feeling too lazy to write my own stuff, here are some of the better quotes I've run across today...

You know, there comes a day when you quit your job. And then there comes the day you actually leave. - Birdy, in a comment on Steakbellie's blog

Here's a double I found on Stalin the Shark...

Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that? - Senator Nancy Jacobs

Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn't place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible. - Law professor Jamie Raskin, to Senator Jacobs.

From an Iowa blogger...

Spent the day at the statehouse on Monday, listening to a debate of great importance to the future of Iowa. In the end, the senate decide to stop worrying about the wrath of well-financed special interest groups and do the right thing: The senate passed a resolution making that Channel Catfish the state'’s official fish. - Mr. Bacon on Who's Makin' Bacon

Regarding freedom...

The one thing that the American people and the Pakistani people do both share in common, unfortunately, is the current demand that we sacrifice our liberties in the name of fighting terrorism. - Historian on the Woodbury County Democrat

"Resolved that the United States Senate does hereby censure George W. Bush, president of the United States, and does condemn his unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining the court orders required." - part of a resolution put in front of congress by Senator Russell Feingold source

In response to Isaac Hayes quitting "South Park," an animated series...

"This has nothing to do with intolerance and bigotry and everything to do with the fact that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist and that we recently featured Scientology in an episode of '‘South Park,'’ In 10 years and over 150 episodes, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show," - ” South Park co-creator Matt Stone source


Herdin' Cats

Odd Japanese Things

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ain't This Fun?

They just keep coming...

I just got yet another letter in the mail from Iowa Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley. So far every letter I've received from his office says about the same thing - "thanks for the input, but I'm going to ignore you." They're all two pages long, they all explain the issues from the Republican perspective. I've met Mr. Grassley. He's a nice guy. I can't help but like him. According to the commercials, he mows his own lawn. But he's been voting the wrong way lately. That makes me sad.


Someone recently asked why we're spending so much money for NASA when we have all sorts of woes here on Earth to deal with. To put it simply, the answer is: It's Good Business. The United States puts about 0.8% of it's budget into the space program. It's been estimated that for every dollar the government puts into the space program gets a return of seven dollars in the form of increased growth and taxes. source

Sure, but what does sending a robot to Mars have to do with me? Why do I care? What do I get out of the deal, realistically? Well... It it's small, lightweight, miniature, or cool, it probably has roots in the space program.

A short list of spinoffs:
  • Portable Computers
  • Satellite TV
  • Bar Coding
  • Joystick Controllers
  • Smoke Detectors
  • Invisible Braces
  • Cordless Tools
  • Medical Imaging
  • Vision Screening
  • Ear Thermometers
  • Fire Resistant Clothing
  • Thermal Gloves & Boots
  • Failsafe Flashlights
  • Quartz Timing Crystals
Digital cameras? Well, how do you think they get all those neat photos back from Saturn? CAT scans and MRI's are both space spinoffs, too. Some people put the number of spinoffs at over 30,000. That's a fairly impressive number...

And something else to think about - governments historically fund exploration which is later taken over by private enterprise. Columbus had to get funding from the queen to get his ships across the Atlantic. (One of the spinoffs of that venture was the United States of America, incidentally.) But private enterprise soon followed, making what was once a perilous voyage not only safe, but commonplace.

Do you realize that the Soviet Union tossed Sputnik up in 1957. That's less than 50 years ago. In less than fifty years we've gone from a beeping orb in LEO to planning missions to Pluto and discovering planets orbiting distant stars. This is way cool stuff! How much have we learned since then? How much more is out there yet to be discovered?

Sources: The Christian Science Monitor, SpacePlace, Space Benefits, NASA Solutions.

How's That Again?

My lovely bride is in the other room dictating some notes to be transcribed later. All I can hear is a low mumble-mumble-rumble. Until...

"Honey," she called out.

"Yes, Snookums?" sez I.

"What's the English word for 'kaputt?'"

"Broken. Busticated. Not working," I hollered back.

I felt smug. I always feel smug when I know the answer. The smugness lasted about five minutes. "Honey-Bee," I called to my wife.

"Yes, dear?" she replied.

"Where did you put that thing?"

"What thing?" she asked, understandably.

"You know, that thing. That round plastic thing I put popcorn in..."

"The bowl?" she asked.

"That's it! The bowl..."

I am smug no longer. (In my defense, though, I'm not all that familiar with English. I know American and a smattering of Canadian...)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Weary Hippie

Work Ethic? Who, me?

It's been a busy week! Gonna be busy next week, too... Apologies to all the friends and family that have tried to get in touch with me for the past six or eight days - I've been at work. I'm so tired of looking at PhotoShop and InDesign I could just poop. Oh well, I guess it's what I get paid to do, so I shouldn't complain. (I'll whine instead.)

Blogs in General

I've added a few nifty-neat blogs to the list over there on the left. They're all good reading - some philosophical (notably Intellectual Insurgent and her corral of deep thinkers), some political (like Who's Makin' Bacon), all good. I shall add more later, but not now. I have other things to do now. I have things on my mind. I'm not sure what, but I'm sure it's important.

The Show

In a few short hours I'm gonna head down to the Chesterfield to see Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs play. I've seen this band play four or five times over the past fifteen years. Good stuff! The music isn't quite my cuppa tea (they play a lot of Tex-Mex and country as well as blues and rockabilly - I like the latter, not so keen on the former) but the band is so fun to watch it more than makes up for the occasional country song. They wear funny hats. It's a hoot.

Odd Things

My beloved wife, Dagmar, just finished cleaning. The house smells like Pine-Sol now. For some reason it reminds me of basic training, and I really want to smoke a cigarette. Odd.

I walk to work fairly often. The friendly local church around the corner put up a new sign. Nice to see they're welcoming. (I can't blame the church, really, it's a strange neighborhood, and they did just build the new church, and they want to keep the new parking lot from getting overused by loiterers.)

When I finished taking a picture of the sign, I turned around and took a picture of the houses across the street from the new church. I live just half a block down that alley... As I said, it's kind of a rough neighborhood. It's nice that they tore down the old church and all the other houses on that block and built a new church. Not that the money could have been used to help the parishoners in the neighborhood...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Feast or Famine

My poor fingers...

I have been typing my poor fingers to the proverbial bone this week. Last week was the slowest week I can remember ever having at work. This week is the exact opposite. I've been going in at 7 in the stinky morning and coming home at 8 at night. I don't mind working hard, and I don't mind working long hours, but it's a shock to my delicate system to have it foisted upon me so sudden-like.

I missed the jam session last night. I was really hoping to go... Maybe next week.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Another Week in Paradise


First thing on my agenda at work: Visit the Pop Machine. Today it's lit up like a Christmas tree... The only thing available is regular Coke. Okay, I guess. If I can't have Coke Zero or Diet Coke or Dr. Pepper or root beer, I guess I'll take a regular old Coke. I put my shiny quarters in the machine and push the button. I'm rewarded with the "rattle rattle thump" I expected. Hands a-tremble with anticipation I reach for my soda, only to find it covered in goo. Soda syrup, all over the can. Yech. Now I gotta wash my hands and the soda can before I can go sit down again...

Little things like that can take on greater dimensions on a Monday morning than at any other time. Is this the way my whole week is going to be? Is this an omen? Am I going to be stuck with second-rate products that are sticky all week? Or is it just that someone forgot to order pop?

E-Mail Count

On Monday last I started keeping track of my e-mails. Here's how the final broke down:

Personal: 27
Work: 63
Humorous: 23
Political (Right-Wing): 2
Political (Left-Wing:) 2
Spam: 251

I know I missed a LOT of the spam messages as my home e-mail goes through a couple filters before I see it; I'd guess there were probably 50 more spam e-mails that didn't make it on the list. And last week was the slowest week I've had at work in a decade or more - I'd guess that I usually get about twice that many work e-mails. But it was an interesting little experiment nonetheless.

Sniff Sniff

Some things just plain smell better than they taste. Coffee does not taste as good as it smells. Vanilla is another example. If pipe tobacco tasted as good as it smelled we'd all be smoking pipes. Perfume tastes pretty bad, until you get used to it. I discovered another one yesterday - Reuben sandwiches. Reubens smell better than they taste. My beloved Viennese Snowflake asked me to whomp together some Reubens for dinner last night. No problem! I like playing with my new Presto Grill doodad... I stood there, grilling all this wonderful food, smelling the wonderful aromas that come wafting my direction... It was great!

Then I sat down to eat the blessed thing. I've never liked Reubens, mind you, and I just cooked these up for my wife, but they smelled so good I just had to have one.

Blech. Bleeyah.

My beloved wife enjoyed her sandwich, and commented that she'd never had such a good Reuben. Meanwhile I'm trying to shave my tongue...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

To sleep...

...Perchance to Dream

When I was a kid, I could sleep anywhere, anytime. It was great. The past ten years, though, have been rather trying. My general pattern has been to fall asleep at about eight at night, then wake up at 11 or 12, putter quietly around the house until 5 or 6 in the morning, then grab another hour or two of sleep before heading to work. It sucks, but you get used to it.

The past six months or so I've been taking Tylenol PM. The "PM" part implies that this will, yes indeedy, help you snooze. And it does! Or rather, it did...

For a while, I'd take a couple sleepy-pills and happily snooze for hours and hours on end. For the first time in ten years I needed an alarm clock. It was bliss! The past few weeks, though, have been different - I'll take my sleepy pills, I'll get sleepy, I'll fall asleep, and three hours later BAM - I'm up again. Just like in the old days... But now, in addition to waking up at midnight or so, I'm so groggy from the sleepy-pills that I can't do anything productive. All I can do is lay on the couch, whimpering softly, watching the Home Shopping Network, wondering where the remote went to...

Not sleeping much makes me grouchy and rather stupid indeed.

At the Car Wash

For me, one of the first signs of spring is the urge to get my car washed. There's something about driving around a clean car that makes me feel wealthy, even if I am driving a 1992 Geo Metro (I think). Of course, this time of year, cars stay clean for about twelve minutes before you gotta go through a pothole full of runoff salt and mud (and possibly cow flop if you're on one of the more rural avenues in town). We don't have much of a garage, unfortunately, so our cars are always dusty anyway.

But for a minute there, I felt wealthy!

Olden Stuff

Dagmar and I trekked to the Sioux City Public Museum yesterday. 'Twas an adventure indeed! I even took a shower.

I've only been to the Sioux City museum twice - the most memorable with Grandpa back in the 1970s. As a history major, that seems kinda odd to me. You'd think I'd hang out there more often...

Anyway, the most impressive thing to me was the museum building itself - a grand old house built in the late 1800s by a rich guy. Not only did the rich guy build this particular house, he also built half of the buildings in downtown Sioux City and the cable-cars that connected the whole mess before he moved to Seattle.

The stone for the exterior of the building was shipped in from somewhere in Nebraska, and all the woodwork on the inside is hand-carved from old-growth wood. The guy who was manning the front desk told us that some architects were in for a visit a few weeks ago and said that it would take over six million dollars to replicate the building.

The Sioux City Museum has purchased the old J.C. Penney building downtown and will be moving the museum into the new facility in a year and a half (or longer). They'll then restore the old museum into a period home and give tours.

The beautiful thing about places like this in the Midwest is that the people who work there are there because they want to be. The guy at the front desk stopped what he was doing and gave Dagmar and I forty-five minute personal guided tour of the place, simply because we looked like we really were interested (which we were). That made the trip special.

My only critique of the museum is that they didn't show any of the area's rich musical history. Hopefully that'll be remedied when they move into the more spacious J.C. Penney building.

Politics in Iowa

We get to elect a new governor this year. Fun fun. When I was a wee lad growing up in the Greater Brunsville Metropolitan Area, I quite honestly thought that being the governor of Iowa was like being on the Supreme Court. I thought you got elected for life.

In the past 38 years, Iowa has had three governors. Three. Count 'em. Republican Robert Ray was governor from 1969 to 1983 (to listen to my grandfather, you'd think Grandpa elected Mr. Ray all by himself). Mr. Ray was replaced by Republican Terry Brandstad, who served from 1983 to 1999. I met Mr. Branstad once. He's shorter in person than he looks on TV. Our current governor, Democrat Tom Vilsack, has been in office since 1999 and is not running for that particular office again, though you may see his name come up nationally in a year or two. So, for thirty years, from 1969 to 1999, Iowa was led by two Republican governors.

Actually, looking at Iowa's political history (which I found here), that's not all that unusual. From 1846 to 1854 Iowa was Democrat. Then we had four years of Whig leadership, followed by the Republicans from 1858 to 1890 - that's 32 years. Then four years of Democrat, followed by Republicans again from 1894 to 1933 - another 39 years. Democrats held office for the next six years, the another Republican dynasty lasting until 1957. In the late 50s and early 60s the two parties traded off until 1969, when Mr. Ray took office, starting a Republican run that would last until 1999.

That means that Democrats have held office in Iowa's governorship for 36 years. Republicans were in office 120 years, and Whigs four years. (Mr. Bourke Hickenlooper, Republican, was governor from 1943 to 1945. That name brings forth a plethora of opportunities for campaign songs. "Vote for Hickenlooper - He's Super-Duper." The possibilities are endless.)

In spite of the Republican stranglehold on our governorship, I honestly thought Iowa was a Democratic state. I thought we kept electing Mr. Branstad out of pity - there's no way he was gonna make it in farming, that's for sure. My happy little dreamworld was rudely shattered when George W. Bush came within a hair of getting Iowa's electoral college votes in the 2000 election. When Iowa went red in 2004 it scared the bejeezuz outta me. My wife and I thought seriously about moving to Canada, but in the end we opted to stay near our families here in Iowa. (We don't really have the financial resources to pull off such a move anyway, to be honest.)

We've finally had a Democratic governor for the past seven years. Now we have to elect someone new. But who?

The Democratic candidates are:
Mike Blouin
Chet Culver
Ed Fallon
Sal Mohamed
Mark Yackle

The Republican candidates are:
Jim Nussle

The Libertarians are:

What do I know about these people? Not a whole lot, actually.

I've heard good things about Mr. Blouin. He's already selected a running mate (an unusual move so early in a campaign) - Ms. Andy McGuire. Blouin has been State Economic Development Director, a Congressman, and has served as State Senator and State Representative.

Mr. Culver is widely regarded as being, well, not so bright. He was a teacher for a while, and is Secretary of State at the moment. His big claim to fame, though, is that he's the son of ex-Senator John Culver.

I don't know much about Mr. Fallon, but I have heard that he's popular in Iowa's three most populous counties. He has a very nifty web site, and has been a State Representative. (Mr. Blouin and Mr. Culver are currently getting most of the press around here. Therefore it wouldn't surprise me a bit if Mr. Fallon comes on strong at the end of the campaign, after the other two have weakened each other with their political jabs.)

Of all the candidates, the only one I've seen in person is Mr. Mohamed. He ran for congress in 2004, and was often seen on street corners all around Iowa, waving a flag, holding a sign saying "Vote for Mohamed." The man gives the impression that he does all his own footwork. A native of Egypt, Mr. Mohamed moved to the United States in the 1970s and became a citizen in 1983. He has lived in Sioux City since 1991, working as a chemical engineer at a pharmaceutical company. (If you can't tell, I actually read his web site - he's the only candidate that has interested me enough to do that.) A widower, Mr. Mohamed's son helps him campaign.

I'd never heard of Mr. Yackle until today, sadly enough. I found a web site that says he's the mayor of Wallingford, Iowa (population 300). That's about it, really... His web site isn't finished yet. I did learn that he's raised $300 in campaign contributions.

Mr. Nussle, and his running mate, Bob Vander Plaats, are Republicans.

The Libertarian Party has Ms. Welty on their slate - she's served as Fairfield City Councilwoman and as the State Party Chair. I can't really find any information on her on this nifty Interweb at all. I would, however, like to say that I'd vote Libertarian in every election if the Republicans didn't scare me so much.

Who am I gonna vote for? Don't you wish you knew. I shall never tell. I will say, however, that at this point Mr. Culver, Mr. Yackle and Mr. Nussle don't look like particularly good bets. It's so early in the campaign it's pointless to speculate. So far I've heard good things about Mr. Blouin...

Well, it's six-thirty at night. I'm going to go get something to eat, take some nice Tylenol PM, and hope for sleep. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 03, 2006

It's FRIDAY! Whoohoo...

And I was in such a good mood...

In what seems like a determined effort to allow cruelty, the United States government, under the leadership of President George W. Bush, now claims that the legislation republican Senator John McCain drafted banning torture does not apply to Guantanamo Bay. Let me repeat that. Our government is trying to bypass a law banning torture. Again - our government is fighting to allow torture. I just can't get that through my mind. From the Washington Post:

Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison.

In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee's lawyers described as "systematic torture." - Washington Post

This is just plain miserable. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am in our nation's leadership. I started doing a little research on the whole issue of torture (which is difficult to do whilst I'm supposed to be working) - I found a great article on the subject HERE. To be honest, I haven't chewed through the whole document yet; it's kinda long, and I can only read so much before my blood pressure starts rising.

On the lighter side...

If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see it with representation. - The Farmer's Almanac

Serfs in the Middle Ages had to give up 20% of their income yearly and that made them virtual slaves. Today the average American pays 47%. What does that make Americans? - Kenneth Prazak, Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Illinois (Apr 14, 2000)

If Congress were to pass a flat tax, you'd simply pay a fixed percentage of your income, and you wouldn't fill out any complicated forms, and there would be no loopholes for politically connected groups, and normal people would actually understand the tax laws, and giant talking broccoli stalks would come around and mow your lawn for free, because Congress is NOT going to pass a flat tax, you pathetic fool. - Dave Barry

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Thursday Worries

A Toasted Jam

Once again an innocent foray to the clubs in Sioux City has gone slightly astray. It started innocently enough. Honest.

"Hey, Radloff, I'm on my normal bar stool. Come on down and have a beer." Thus started the oddity. I regarded the voice on the phone with my normal amount of suspicion and paranoia for a second or two, pondering my alternatives. I could either continue on my set path and go home, put my jammies on, cook up a nice grilled peanut-butter, banana and honey sammich, or I could follow the voice and go have a beer. Hmmm... "I'll be right there," I said.

Ten minutes later I found myself ensconced in a local establishment, sipping on a nice Boulevard Wheat, chatting with my buddy (whose voice sounded a lot like the voice that came from my phone). That was at about ten after five. By five-thirty we were both ordering another drink. I like beer. By quarter to six I was empty again. A little voice in my head whispered "restraint." I unhappily ordered a Diet Coke.

"Hey, there's a new bar open just down the street. Wanna go check it out?" asked my buddy, sloshing a bit of his Guinness. (Actually, Guinness doesn't really slosh all that well. It's too thick. It kind of, well, sludges. That's better. Sludge. He sludged a bit of his Guinness.)

"Sure," I said. "Let me finish my sody-pop... Okay, I'm done. Let's go." My pal drained his sludge and off we went...

"I don't like it," I said when we got to the new place. "It's too sterile."

"I hate it," said my buddy. "This sucks. Let's have a beer."

I opted against another Boulevard - they're too good to drink lightly. Miller Lite in hand, my buddy and I found ourselves talking with some other friends. They thought the new bar was pretty cool. I have to admit, by the time I finished my beer my opinion of the place was changing a bit... But not that much. My friend was happy that they had Guinness there.

"Hey, finish your sludge," I told my buddy. "I wanna go to the jam session at the Chesterfield." With nary a whimper my friend drained his Guinness. I swear I saw him chewing on it. (They really should give you a fork with your Guinness. It'd make it easier to eat.) Off we went up the street to the Chesterfield.

Once in the door, we made our way to the bar and placed our orders. "Hey, isn't that your wife?" asked my friend, pointing towards the door. Sure enough, my beloved Austrian Snickerdoodle was coming in the front door, big smile on her face.

"Snookums!" I hollered. "How are you?" I planted a kiss on her delicate little nose.

"Snookums?" said my friend.

"Snookums?" said the bartender.

"I thought I'd come down und see you," said my Viennese Snowflake. "You alvays talk about how much fun dis jam night is..." She saw me reaching for my Miller Lite. "How are you feeling?" she continued. "Haf you had much to drink?"

"I'm feeling fine," I said. "I've only had two beers. Oh, and two Miller Lites too." With that, we pushed our way through the gaggle of musicians hanging around the front of the bar and found ourselves a table near the stage.

Conversation flowed freely as people gradually filtered in and joined us, lots of smiles and laughter. Eventually some musicians got up and started playing. Someone bought me another bottle of happiness. A different group of musicians took over on-stage. It was good. Someone bought me a very small glass full of a rather clear liquid. Smiling, I clinked glasses and gulped the drink. Somehow I thought it was gonna be... Well, I'm not sure just what I thought it was gonna be, but I didn't think it was gonna be Tequila. By the time I got done gasping and clutching at my throat, I felt distinctly addlepated. Woozy, even. Here's a picture of me being addlepated. I'm the guy not paying attention.

That, of course, was precisely the point in time when the bass player on stage yelled, "Radloff - time for you to play now. Get on up here."

Before I could compose a reply, or even figure out which muscles to twitch in order to shake my head "no," I was on stage and people were strapping a bass on me. Hmmm... This isn't gonna be good. Whilst I've often had a beer during a gig, I really do try to avoid playing if I can't say "is your second sister's sixth zither strung, sir?" without giggling.

"Whaddaya wanna do?" asked the guitarist who joined me on stage, a guy I've met once before at a jam weeks ago. "Twelve-bar blues in C? Shall we just jam?"

"Sounds good to me," I said.

"Blues?" asked the drummer. "You want me to play blues? I thought we were gonna play some Metallica or something."

"I'll start it," I said. "You guys just hop in when you feel like it..."

It worked out beautifully! I started in a traditional blues bassline, the guys all jumped in on the song, and for fifteen or twenty seconds it was GREAT! The guitarist sparkled - he was playing some really cool stuff... Until he broke a string, less than thirty seconds into the jam. We limped through the rest of the song, keeping to simple blues...

"I have a spare string in my case," said the guitarist. "It'll take me about five minutes to change 'em."

I stepped up to the microphone. "Hey, we have a broken string - anyone else out there wanna play a song or two?"

In just a few seconds another guitarist hopped on-stage. "Hey," he said. "What do you say we play 'Black Dog' by Led Zeppelin, but let's play it in a slow swing beat..." Now, you need to understand that "Black Dog" is a tricky song. It has lots of notes in it. Very, very quick titchy little notes. A lot of 'em. I haven't even tried to play that song in years. I'm not even all that sure what key it's in... The guitarist looked at me, "Do you know how to play it?"

I don't know who answered that question, but it wasn't me. It may have been the beer, but my bet is that it was the Tequila. I watched the words float out of my mouth... "Sure,"was the first word. "I know that song," were the rest of the words. I opened my mouth again and waited, genuinely interested to know what was gonna come out next. "Go ahead and start it..."

And off we went! To my credit, I did figure out what key the song's in by the time we got to the second chorus. By the last verse, I even had a handle on that whole "switch to B" thing. But, realistically, I'm pretty sure that I should NOT have attempted that song.

So, to the world in general, and to those who were in attendance at the Chesterfield last night, and particularly to those who were on stage at the time, you have my humblest apologies. I think I rated about a 9.3 on the Suckometer on that song. (Who knows... Maybe it wasn't all that bad. But it sure felt lousy at the time. There's a reason why I don't mix booze with anything requiring thought. Much.)


This morning I had to drop off Dagmar's car at the local tire-and-fix-it shop. The poor little car's had a slow leak in one of the tires for months and months, and it's time for an oil change anyway...

"You finally gonna get that tire fixed?" said the nice lady who pumps air the tire every week. "It's about time!"

I nodded and smiled at her and made my way to the front counter. "I have an appointment to get the oil changed and the back tire fixed today at nine," I said to the counter lady. "I called in yesterday and made the appointment."

"What kind of car is it?" the lady asked. "They have two things written down. Is it a Geo Metro or a Ford Taurus?"

"Neither," I said. "When they asked what car I had I automatically said 'Geo Metro,' since that's what I drive. But this is my wife's car. I thought it was a Taurus, but it's really an Escort."

The lady looked at me like I was an idiot. I couldn't blame her for that. "Are you SURE it's an Escort?" she asked. I nodded. She continued, "What year is it? They have 1992 written down. Is that right?"

"Um... Sure." I said. "I think."

"What do you know about the car?"

"It's white."

"That helps a lot." She sighed. "We'll have it done by ten."


You know how United States President G. Walker Bush has been saying for months that he's not to blame for the lack of response to the Katrina crisis? His main excuse was ignorance - "No one told me that the levies could fail," he repeats over and over. Well, they have a videotape of people telling him exactly that. "The levies could fail," they told him in a conference three days before the hurricane hit. "This is serious." (I'm making the quotes up, by the way. Paraphrasing, if you will.) Yet I feel confident in predicting that our government will continue to avoid responsibility.

The National Football League is having contract problems. The players want more money, and the owners don't wanna give it to 'em. source I don't understand the particulars - my knowledge of finance is about that of your average otter - but I do know that NFL players make a LOT of money already. Normally I come down on the side of the worker in any dispute such as this, but when the workers that are doing the moaning and complaining are making, on average, well over a million dollars a year (let me say that again - a million dollars a year) source, I tend to think they're being adequately compensated. In fact, in order to pay for their million-dollar salaries, ticket prices have gone through the roof (I've never been able to afford to go to a game, probably never will), and now Monday Night Football is being broadcast on ESPN - a network you must pay to receive in spite of all the commercials they put in your face. I really and truly do enjoy watching football, but I get a bit upset that the NFL is starting to price itself out of the market.

Off I Go...

I was hoping to talk about more stuff, but I gotta head to the doctor now to find out what that pesky spot is on the X-ray of my lung. Wish me luck!


The doctor says I'm fine. The pesky spot on my lung has pretty much gone away. They think it's scar tissue from the pneumonia I had a few months ago. In any case, the doctor told me not to worry, and I don't have to go back or anything.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006



This morning, for the first time, it felt like spring may be approaching. I live half a block from a Wendy's and not even two blocks from Burger Time. Within just a few blocks of my house there's also a steak buffet place, a rib shack, McDonalds, a hot dog stand, and Burger King. Add all these up, and when the wind blows from the south or the east I get really hungry in a hurry! If the wind blows from the north or the west the breeze carries a slightly different aroma - pit bull with a hint of gun powder. We don't talk about that much. But this morning the air was absolutely still - a rarity in Iowa - and the ground wasn't frozen. This meant that for once I could smell the damp earth, the mulch. It smelled like spring. Spring! It's in the air, I tell ya!

Generally, this time of year is pretty mucky in Iowa. February and March are the snowiest months of the year here, but in early March the temperatures start to get a bit erratic. So the snow melts and turns to mud, then it snows again, but it melts right away and adds to the mud... The mud lasts until late April. This year, though, February was warm and dry. We have no snow on the ground, and no mud, either. It's eerie.

A couple more weeks and I'll be able to get my bike out of storage. A few more months and I'll be able to ride it without looking like a hippie Eskimo on wheels. I'm getting a bit excited, I tell ya. But, a quick look at the forecast dumps muck on my bright outlook - freezing rain and snow again this weekend. *sigh*

It's All a Bit Hazy...

I designed a label for pork tongues this morning. I haven't been able to concentrate on anything since then. I've eaten beef tongue (good stew meat, as long as you don't know what you're eating), but pig tongue? Where does that end up? What do you serve with pig tongue? Is that a white wine, or red?

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