Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bears gone wild

It's that time of the year again here in the NJ/Pa. area. Black bears start to wander around seeking food after a long winter's nap. Cubs are often nearby, and mama bear usually seeks food in dumpsters, and garbage cans. It's a quick, easy snack.

The normal procedure is to tranquilize the bear, and then relocate him or her. This leads to problems for the bear, but that is not the purpose of this posting. While watching the news, I saw something about bear traps that are set for these rogue bears.


Guess what bait is used?

If you said picnic baskets, you weren't very far off.

The bait of choice in some Pennsylvania towns is

jelly donuts.

The favored snack food of Pennsylvania cops is also the favorite of Pennsylvania bears. Who ever would have guessed?

I wonder if that's why, during the CB craze of many years ago, cops were known as bears.

Friday, May 30, 2008

How to eat at a buffet

Yeah, I know. I'm still cranked up about Atlantic City. I couldn't blog about everything, and rather than just give an uber-blog, I decided to break up all my crap into tiny segments. Easier to read, and who knows, maybe it will make sense.

First, what the hell happens to old people at a buffet?

I was behind these two codgers who had to be, now this is just an educated guess, somewhere between 127 and 140 years old each. They probably baby sat John McCain's parents. I'm talking freakin' old.

I'm no ageist, but for crying out loud, these codgers drive me crazy.

In the breakfast buffet, they must have spent 5 minutes deciding

1) if they actually wanted a slice of tomato for breakfast
2) which slice of tomato they wanted

Finally, after settling on a tomato slice, it was off to the cereal section.

Corn, put those back...Cheerios...Do we like Cheerios...put that back...get the Corn Flakes...ooooh, look, oatmeal...put the Corn Flakes back...oh wait, I'm not in the mood for oatmeal, go back and get the Corn Flakes...but Cheerios has more have mini bagels.

Do I even have to tell you how the great cream cheese vs butter vs jelly vs orange marmalade round robin debate went?

I swear, if they kept sharp knives there, I would have slashed my wrists and bled out right by the fresh cut melon.

Then we went back for dinner. Amazing what I'll go through to get a cheap steak for the Crotchety Old Lady.

We were seated near a table of old timers, and one habit I've gotten into is looking at how much people tip. My kid is in the restaurant industry, so I like to check out these things. That, plus I'm nosy.

Anyway, I've noticed at buffets, most people, especially the old codgers, either don't tip, or leave peanuts.

What's up with that? The ones next to me ran the server ragged. He brought them their drinks and refills, kept the table cleared from their multi-course meal, was helpful, and the 6 of them left a 6 dollar tip. Dinner was over 20 bucks each, and the big spenders left a buck each. WTF?

Maybe a dollar was a big tip back in 1952, but it's nothing today. After dining on steak, crab, shrimp and other gourmet items, how about throwing a brother a duece?

I'm Back

My mini vacation is over. Atlantic City is none the worse for wear.

Here's one of the pictures I risked my life for:

Video roulette is da best

It's just like you have been taken into the deep, seedy underbelly of legalized gambling.

Bet you feel dirty, now, too.

Ok, go take a shower, I'll wait.


Here's another, one of our many big wins at the slots.


You'll note we ran our 20 bucks all the way up to $36.60.

We were living la vida loca, baby.

Right after this the cocktail waitress came by and we ordered our drinks.

The Mrs. had a Mojito, and I had a Vodka martini--shaken, not stirred.

Ok, those were the most exotic drinks I could think of. She actually had a decaf coffee, no sugar, and I had a bottle of water. I suck as a party animal. After too many years of treating my body like an amusement park, I'm paying the price. I have gone from James Bondsesque adult beverages to Richard Simmons approved ones.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Greetings from Atlantic City

I got the Crotchety Old Lady up around 5:30 this morning ( I wonder how much this contributes to her Crotchetiness) and had her take some sunrise pictures from our window. I hope everyone likes them.



We are having a good time here. I think I understand part of the reason why Donald Trump is a billionaire, and I'm playing the penny slots.

I decided I wanted a water bottle. A cheap ass plastic water bottle. It says Taj Mahal on it, so, in essence, I would be advertising for Trump.

Guess how much it would have cost?

Come on, guess.

Nope, way more than that.

Give up?

Ok, it was $16.00. Sixteen freakin dollars. Dies y sies dolares.

For a freakin plastic water bottle.

I told the Old Lady I wouldn't pay $16 for a water bottle even if it were filled with Ivanka Trump's sweat.

OK, she thought that was disgusting, too.

Oh, and I took some pictures of the Harley that I wanted to win at the penny slot machine, and I was told I better put the camera away, or they would call security. I'm not going to post any pictures from inside the casino until I am safely home. Don't want anyone storming in here and impounding my camera, or roughing up the Crotchety Old Lady.

I'll try to take some more pictures. We forgot the extra batteries, and I didn't want to pay 12 bucks for 4 new AA batteries. Oy vey!

Be back later.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday

In my mind




Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Insurance Companies Suck

I wasn't sure what I was going to rant about today. Man's inhumanity to man has been done to death. Social injustice has become so passe.

Then, the phone rang. It was my doctor's office. My insurance company, Aetna, (motto, "We're going to get ya") does not want to pay my claims. Forget that I pay more than half my monthly income for crappy insurance that doesn't include scripts, they don't even want to pay for shit that should be covered.

I'm paying $650 per month for "coverage" that hardly includes anything.

By the way, anyone who ever thought "Disabled Person" was a good career choice, read that part again about $650 being more than half my monthly income. You may want to reconsider.

I'm not looking for something for nothing. I just want them to pay for what they had contracted.

My mother passed away over a year ago, and my sister is still fighting with insurance companies to pay her final medical bills. My mother was never sick a day in her life until her last year, so they had many years of scoffing up the premiums. Yet, when it became time for the insurance companies to pay up, they have become quite reticent, and slow. Heaven forbid if they weren't paid up front, but now, when it's time for them, they just drag their heels and put my sister through all kinds of nonsense.

When I became disabled, I put in a claim for my insurance (that I paid for) to pay my car payments for 1 year. They "lost" my doctor's forms so many times, I just stopped, and accepted that they weren't about to honor the agreement.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Mind is a Terrible Thing Part 2

Those who know me well fully understand that my mind works in a weird way.

Things set me off that don't even register for the normal person. The truly wacky part is I am drawn to things that I know are going to set me off.

One thing that can, and often does really get me depressed is certain TV shows. I truly have a love-hate relationship with my TV. One program in particular causes me to become either depressed or enraged, and oftentimes both. It can set me into the deepest realm of the most dark green-black chasms of despair, with suicidal tendencies. I become overwhelmed with self-loathing, the likes of which few men have ever cast upon themselves. Other times, it can make me white hot with fury, the kind few men have endured.

What show can do this? Which one can inspire such negative emotions within me?

By now, most have probably guessed the answer. No show puts me on such a negative emotional roller coaster as Antiques Roadshow.

Something about it just pisses me off, yet like a 15 car pile-up on the interstate, I have to watch. I try to convince myself that this episode will be different. This time I will learn about antiques and a bit of history, and not delve into the deep morass that is the blackness in the hole in my soul.

But no, once again those bastards at PBS, one of whom is surely the Antichrist, compels me to watch and destroy my inner self.



Santa gets an appraisal

A Mind is a Terrible Thing

Sometimes my mind takes me places I'd rather not go.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night with one all consuming thought--what happened to my Motorific cars from when I was just a crotchety little kid? I never would have thrown them out, and I know I never gave them away. I also had this cool little Martian flying saucer that kind of sat on a stand and whirrled away. It kept me busy for hours. It didn't do much, but I was a pretty boring kid, so it didn't take a lot to amuse me. Where is it?

Then I started thinking about everything from my childhood. It is all gone, more or less. Where did it go?

Was there a giant garage sale that I didn't know about? Is there an orphanage somewhere with piles of my old stuff, and some little orphan kid wondering why in God's name he has an Al Kaline bat, when all the other kids have Al Pujols models? And, by the way, who the hell is Al Kaline?

These are the things that keep me up at night. I sit in the dark at 3 a.m. and ponder.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Go Figure

The guy who cleans up our yard came by today. The Crotchety Old Lady pointed out that he's always so nice and pleasant. I told her that I would be nice to someone who was paying me $100 cash for an hour's work, too.

Life is interesting with her.

I'll be heading down to Atlantic City next week, so I'm looking forward to that. I want her to buy a new camera, so we can take some pictures, and blog from AC. We'll be at the Taj Mahal which has become our favorite casino. We used to go to the Showboat, which is right next door, but they have gotten a bit annoying.

I had a ticket for a free giveaway of some crap. I asked her to go get it. But noooooo, they had to have me there. Because I guess there were a lot of people stealing driver's licenses and going to AC to pick up some cheesy gift. Yeah, that's the current big money scam. Funny part is everything at the Showboat involves going through some sort of maze. It's ok for walking, but when one is riding, well, that becomes a whole 'nother game. I usually wind up crashing into walls, or knocking over displays. Handicapped accessible, my ass. Trump's Taj is much more friendly, although--travel tip for the disabled here--Showboat has better bathrooms.

I'm coming for your cash, Donald.


He appears upset and concerned.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Vote for Me for President

I am so disgusted with the candidates that the only option I have is to run myself. I am hoping for a massive write-in vote obviously, as I have no campaign organization except for the Crotchety Old Lady and the Crotchety Kid. To be honest, I'm not even sure I have their votes. I also have no money to pay a staff. So, I am relying on both of my regular readers to help spread the word. If each of you can get me just 2 votes, and each of those 2 get me just 2 votes, and so on, I'll have billions and billions of voters in under a month. Do the math, my calculator exploded at the 24 day mark.

I've been working on my platform. I will address the issues people really care about.

Ok, I only have one campaign promise, but I think it will solve nearly every problem we face as Americans today.

No left hand turns.

Left turns are the bane of American drivers. Just last night, I was out driving a very short distance, and had at least 3 near impact incidents with drivers making left hand turns. Such incidents are the cause of road rage, and that rage turns into stress, which everyone knows causes illness such as high blood pressure, which leads to heart attacks and every other illness known to man such as colds and flu.
All because of left hand turns. So I have helped solve the health care crisis.

And, of course, who hasn't been stuck for seemingly hours behind a driver trying to make a left hand turn? Our gas shortage and the resulting high prices, has been caused by Hummers making left hand turns.
No more gas crunch.

With no left turns, no need for a left turn bulb in your car, reducing waste that is filling up our landfills.
Garbage problem solved.

And lastly, it will eliminate that old guy driving down the interstate for 50 miles with his left turn signal on, reducing light pollution.

Vote for me,and I promise:


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just Killing Electrons

Today, I have no particular point to this post, so I'm just going to slaughter innocent eletrons for our amusement.

OK, mainly for mine.

The worst part about not having a job is not being able to take a day off. I had a bad night last night, only getting about 2 hours sleep. So, after getting up this morning, I had no one to let know that I'm going back to bed. Instead of my usual day of hanging around the house and doing nothing, I'll be hanging around and doing nothing.


I'll spend my day preparing to go to the doctor tonight. It takes me about an hour to get ready, but I spend considerable time thinking about it. This is the monthly podiatrist visit. He whacks at my wounds with a scalpel, turning my foot into little more than a bleeding stump. It only hurts a little while he is doing it, but tomorrow it will hurt like hell. I'll be kind and not post a picture of my foot, but if anyone truly wants to see it, I posted a picture of it on my Diabetes blog a few days ago. It's disgusting.

You were warned.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Fleet Week

The annual U.S. Navy invasion known as Fleet Week opens here on Wednesday with a flotilla of five American warships and three Canadian entries to add an international flavor to the 21st annual observance.

Some 3,000 sailors and Marines will disembark from the ships during the eight-day event that includes public tours and a variety of aerial and simulated combat technique demonstrations by Marine Corps units.

A decade ago, as many as a dozen ships from several nations took part in Fleet Week, but the size of the assemblage has diminished in recent years. The last time it included a full-size aircraft carrier was in 2005, when the USS John F. Kennedy made its final appearance before being retired.

New York City policy bars nuclear-powered craft from the harbor, effectively denying port calls by the Navy's newer fleet carriers.

From today's

Fleet Week is a pretty big deal here in the NY area. Lots of media coverage, and many folks go out of their way to thank the sailors and marines who defend our country.

And Fleet Week is the Crotchety Old Lady's favorite holiday week. She's always had a thing for sailors. Must be something about a man in uniform. Don't know why she's with me. Most days I don't even wear pants.

In the navy
Yes, you can sail the seven seas
In the navy
Yes, you can put your mind at ease
In the navy
Come on now, people, make a stand
In the navy, in the navy
Can't you see we need a hand
In the navy
Come on, protect the motherland
In the navy
Come on and join your fellow man
In the navy
Come on people, and make a stand
In the navy, in the navy, in the navy (in the navy)


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The art of parody

Performers like Frank Caliendo make their living with parody. His spoofing of John Madden, President Bush, and countless others have made him well known and wealthy.

Good parody doesn't have to be mean spirited to be funny. It's a shame that so many think it has to be.

I have a good friend who is an acclaimed artist. Her name is Artistic --not her real name, (I think) and she gave me permission to share one of her most famous works. This has won some prestigious awards in different shows. It is done in pencil, and it's hard to believe it's not the actual famous photograph of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.


My friend Rubba (that may be his real name) also is an artist. He is a master modelmaker, and his model cars command big money. As a joke, he did a parody of Artistic's painting. It so captured the essence of a good parody, I thought it deserved to be shared, too.


I can't look at it without laughing. And Artistic laughed the loudest when she first saw it.

Parody at it's finest.

Monday, May 19, 2008

TV Show Cars part 1

One of the things that has been missing from TV shows for quite some times is the custom cars that were a part of so many shows, especially during the 1960's. I've made a list of these, and wanted to share the top 10.

Today, I'll post the 3 greatest TV Show cars ever.

My all-time favorite is the Batmobile.

In late 1965, George Barris, one of the greatest custom car builders ever, built a steel Batmobile on a frame from a 1955 Lincoln. The car was similar to that of the comic book. By late 1966, Barris built 3 more fiberglass copies of the original Batmobile.

While the original used the frame from the 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept car (a one of a kind) the copies used 1965-1966 Ford Galaxy frames.


My next favorite is the Monkeemobile.

The car, designed by Dean Jeffries, was based on a 1966 Pontiac GTO. He made 2 of these cars for the TV show, "The Monkees." One was used for promotional appearances, while the other was used and driven in the show. The car used in the show had a functioning supercharger, and produced so much torque that it could do wheelstands. They eventually replaced it with a fake blower because the car was too powerful and very difficult to drive.


My 3rd favorite car is the Munstermobile. The technical name was the Munster Koach, but everyone commonly called it the Munstermobile.

Built by the incomparable Geoge Barris, the Munster Koach was made from 3 Model Ts, and was powered by a 289 Cobra engine bored out to 425 cubic inches. It had 10 carbs. I couldn't find any other specs on it, but I'm sure the car had some go power.

Rumor has it that one at least one occasion, Fred Gwynne "borrowed" the car, and drove around Hollywood with the cast.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

It's Always About the Benjamins

According to

Hepatitus C Outbreak In Nevada

It was the re-use of syringes and vials containing medicine that caused a hepatitis C outbreak resulting in 84 patients becoming infected at two Las Vegas clinics, theAssociated Pressreports.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was first contacted early in 2008 after two people had come down with hepatitis C, the wire service reports. CDC investigators said in their report they observed clinic employees reusing syringes to administer a sedative, and followup interviews indicated it was a common practice, the wires service reported. "This was considered the most likely mode of transmission," the report concluded.

The two clinics in question, the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center -- both now shut down -- treated about 50,000 patients over this amount of time, theA.P.said. Law enforcement officials from Las Vegas, Nevada and the U.S. government are pursing criminal investigations, according to the wire service.

The doctors who ran the clinics, Dipak Desai and Eladio Carrera, have had their medical licenses suspended and paid a $50,000 fine, theA.P.reported.

Brian Labus, a senior epidemiologist with the Southern Nevada Health District, told the A.P.that the link between being treated at the clinics and contracting Hepatitis C was strong. "We know they [the 84 patients] didn't have a positive test before they went to the clinic, and now they're positive," he said.

State officials are worried that all 50,000 patients who were treated at the clinics between March, 2004 and Jan. 11, 2008 may have been exposed to Hepatitis C, which can linger in a person's system for years without symptoms. The disease can result in liver failure.

Unbelievable. These two doctors have put the health of as many as 50,000 people at risk just to save a few dollars on each one, and they get a relatively small fine in addition to losing their license to practice medicine. Big deal. Who knows how much money they pocketed by re-using syringes, and how much this is going to cost the state as these poor unfortunate victims start experiencing health problems.

What kind of sweetheart deal is this? They should lose every dime they made in the timeframe, and do some jail time. I'm sure the jail can use some "volunteer" assistants to the doctor for the next few years.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I humbly apologize

According to the Telegraph (

As if they didn’t already have enough problems on their hands fat people are now being blamed for global warming.
British scientists say they use up more fuel to transport them around and the amount of food they eat requires more energy to produce than that consumed by those on smaller diets.

According to a team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine this adds to food shortages and higher energy prices.

Researchers Phil Edwards said: “We are all becoming heavier and it is a global responsibility. Obesity is a key part of the big picture."

It's not bad enough I'm a fat bastard, with the weight of the world on my shoulders, I am a weight on the world.

I'm working on it, though. Slowly. Maybe too slowly. But I am now so guilt ridden, I am inspired to do more to get in shape. Not for me or my children, but for yours.
And the polar bears.


The Bush administration is considering putting the polar bear on the endangered list, but oil drilling in Alaska would be impacted, so basically, for now, it's "F the polar bears."

So, I'm sticking up for the polar bears by giving up fried Twinkies. Sounds like a fair trade off. Win-win. Except for the company that makes Twinkies, of course.

Now I'm off to do something about those greenhouse gases.

I had nothing to do with them.

I swear.

Ok, maybe a little. Photobucket


Pull my finger

Friday, May 16, 2008

California Supreme Court Says Gays have the Right to Marry

"The California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples," the court said in a 121-page decision that gives gays unprecedented rights.

For today, I'm turning into the Philosophical Old Man. Seems I'm doing a lot of that lately. Both of my regular readers have probably noticed my blog is as much my philosophical search for answers as it is my delivering the answers to everything else.

This is not a sign that I have mellowed, for those who know me are well aware that I can turn into a ranting, raving, spittle spewing a-hole in much less time than it took to read this sentence. I am maturing, though. Never confuse the two. Maturity is the ever increasing recognition of the human condition, and our place in this vast framework known as the world. Mellowing means we just don't care. I'll probably never be mellow.

Back to today's topic. I truly do not understand all the aspects of it from the gay perspective, and would welcome any comments to help me understand. And I do not want to, nor have any intenton of addressing the issue as to whether being gay is a choice, nature, or anything else. I also won't discuss the religious aspects of gay activities because it is between the individuals involved and God. Last I checked, I marked answer "C. None of the above."

Here is my understanding of the marriage issue. I only understand the objections, to be honest. Civil unions are legal in many states. I know they are in mine. These give every right to gay individuals except the right to marry. They appear to be, to me, the same as a marriage. What is the big deal? Marriage usually has religious overtones, and, as such, is considered to be between a man and a woman, at least within the realms of all the religions of which I am familiar. I don't believe such a provision (civil unions) lessens anyone in any way.

Please, I welcome any comments to help explain why this way of thinking should be changed.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Some entertainment updates


Syesha Mercado was eliminated last night from American Idol after host Ryan Seacrest announced that 56 million home viewer votes were cast following Tuesday night’s performances.

I'm stunned. Photobucket

Not that she was eliminated, but that 56 million votes were cast at a buck a vote. Where does that money go? I haven't watched Idol in many years, and I seem to remember it being pretty heavy with sponsorship (aka commercials.) So, at over 50 million dollars worth of votes, is Idol now like PBS, with its support coming from "Viewers Like You?"

If the premise of the show wasn't so hokey, and the singers so mediocre, I'd probably watch to find out. If the singers were any good, why haven't any of them been able to throw off the mantle of being on Idol? That is, why aren't any of them ever introduced without the "former Idol contestant/winner" tag assigned to them?

Throughout entertainment history, various contests have existed. Many years ago, the Amateur Hour featured top future entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Pat Boone, Nick Carter, Gladys Knight, Ann-Margret, Robert Klein, Raul Julia, Beverly Sills, Connie Francis, Maria Callas, Joey Dee and The Starlighters, Robert Merrill, and Jim Stafford. Did the "Amateur Hour" tag follow them for years? The appearance was at best a footnote, yet ex-Idols are always given the recognition as such.

Maybe it's just that we as a people have become rather, for lack of a better term, dumb. Not my readers, of course, but everyone else. Just look at some of th commercials on TV.

I watched the BMW one for the certified, used Beemers. "Look, Ed, it's a new car." Ok, it's not cute, it's not funny, and it's not clever. It's incredibly stupid and insults the intelligence of anyone watching it.

Or the wireless phone bill one where Dad is so obsessed with the phone bill, he ignores his daughter's scholarly achievements and son's driving through the wall. Oy vey. How dumb can a commercial get?

Sometimes I really get concerned about our future. We seem to be developing a class of techno-geniuses, and an underclass of dullards. Is this how mankind advances?


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is the media biased?

I just read the AP story of Hillary Clinton's win in West Virginia, and it raised a very interesting point. Here's the quote:

Nearly a quarter of the voters in West Virginia's primary were 60 or older, and a similar share had no education beyond high school, exit polls indicated. More than half were in families with incomes of $50,000 or less, and the former first lady was winning nearly 70 percent of their votes.

Now, here's where I have the problem and accuse the media of bias--Mrs. Clinton won with 67% of the vote state-wide. Although I've taught Math, so I'm slightly better at it than most people, but wouldn't almost everyone recognize and agree that 67% is nearly 70%? So, why is the AP writer trying to make it look as if a huge block of the Clinton supporters in West Virginia are old, poor, uneducated (aka dumb) racists? This is starting to annoy me. No one questions why blacks voted 19-1 in favor of Obama, yet it's fine to besmirch Clinton's supporters? I don't understand this at all.

By the way, before anyone accuse me of any kind of agenda, I'm only questioning this from a purely academic standpoint. I wonder why we don't get follow up questions. If the writer truly believed this (the suggestion of voting along racial lines) was significant, why leave it open to speculation? Ask the people at the exit poll why they voted as they did. It could have been done quickly and anonymously. To be perfectly honest, I would be upset if they voted against Mr. Obama because of his color. This is 2008, even in West Virginia.

The more I read about our political process, the more convinced I am that we need some sort of criteria to cast a vote. Perhaps one needs to recite at leat 2 potential policy differences between the candidates before they get in the booth. Hell, I'd take it if a voter could recite one significant policy difference.

Talking about clueless voters, in NJ we voted in a governor a few years ago, and many of those voting for him did so because "he's not a political insider." Of course, the guy who was "new" to the political scene was a former State Assemblyman and then State Senator, and a career politician. Never overestimate the intelligence of the American voting public.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tying up some loose ends

I woke up this morning at 3 a.m. again. But this time I decided not to run with it. I did have an idea for the greatest blog entry ever. It would have won the Pulitzer, Peabody, Emmy, Tony, or whatever award goes to the best blog entry ever. But I chose to go back to bed, and when I git up around 7, I realized I had forgotten. I spent the next 2 hours thinking and hoping, but still--nothing. So, I was going to go with a Larry King-esque series of nonsequiters, but that was even worse than just not blogging at all.

So I have done the next best thing; just a few random observations. Things not worthy of an entire blog entry, but they are annoying me anyway.

As I listened to the radio, it was announced that one of the Freeloaders Freeholders had been given some county administration position. His pledge was to make the department more efficient. This tagline by every politician has become rather hackneyed. It's along the lines of "I'm Myron Ketchup, and I approve of this message" that follows every political commercial, or at least the ones from Myron for Mayor. I would think that after 20 years of eliminating the waste in government, we'd have none left. Could all those polticos have lied?

Say it ain't so, Joe.

I also heard them talk about the economic impact on us of the earthquake in China. In no way am I saying anything against those hurt or killed, for I am greiving for any pain they are now enduring. I'm talking just about the economic impact on us, only. It's time we do something about our dependence on Chinese goods. After all the contaminated food products, and the dangerous toys


it's time to make some changes.

And it's easy enough to do, really. Our government needs to support American manufacturing. Support, rather than handouts. I know a guy who used to be a health inspector. His goal was to protect the consumer, and to help the business he was inspecting. For example, one store used raw wood storage racks in their back room. He failed them for this. The store owner was very upset as he envisioned the cost for all new shelving. My buddy explained to him that to be in compliance, all that was needed was for the wood to be painted. Support. It cost the store owner almost nothing, made the consumer safer, and became win-win. I'm positive many such situations exist in the manufacturing sector. We have safety and other rules that are obtrusive, and border on ridiculous. We don't need business to run roughshod over the environment, nor do we need workers at risk, but we do need sensible solutions. I've heard that one of the biggest costs facing US manufacturing is in environmental compliance. Perhaps this is where government financial aid could be used? I find it abhorrent that we are destroying the environment in other countries so we can get cheaper goods.

Lastly, it's nice to see Britney Spears seems to be getting her life back on track. For the sake of her, and her kids, I hope she keeps it together.

Monday, May 12, 2008

We're from the government and here to help

From today's Wall Street Journal:

You may not know it, dear reader, but Congress is playing you for a sap. During the housing mania, you didn't lend money at teaser rates to borrowers who couldn't pay, or buy a bigger house than you could afford. You paid your bills on time. As a reward for that good judgment and restraint, Barney Frank is now going to let you bail out the least responsible bankers and borrowers.

The Massachusetts Democrat's housing bill passed the House Thursday, and it makes us wish we had splurged like so many others. In the name of helping strapped home buyers, Mr. Frank is giving lenders a chance to pass their worst paper onto Uncle Sugar. If both borrower and lender agree to participate, lenders can accept 85% of the current appraised mortgage value and in return get to dump up to $300 billion of those loans on the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Guess which loans they are likely to dump?

Looking at the details in Mr. Frank's 45-page first draft of this bill, FIS Applied Analytics estimated that taxpayer losses could reach as high as $27 billion, more than four times Mr. Frank's estimate. The next draft, clocking in at 72 pages when it passed Mr. Frank's committee, was miraculously scored by the Congressional Budget Office at "only" a $2.7 billion cost to taxpayers.

CBO lowballed it in part because it assumed that most people eligible for this assistance will not apply for it. It is true that some lenders may be wary of taking a 15% haircut off the top, but watch out if bankers and borrowers do take the taxpayers up on Mr. Frank's offer. This is especially likely because at the same time that Mr. Frank touts the lowball estimate, he is also making mortgage servicers an offer they can't refuse.

"I want to put the servicers on notice," the celebrated liberal declared at a recent hearing. "If we see a widespread refusal on the part of servicers to cooperate voluntarily in what we see as an important economic problem . . . they can expect much tougher regulation in the future." And they called Tom DeLay "the Hammer"?

The plan seems to get more generous by the week, at least if you're an ally of Mr. Frank. The monster he brought to the floor Thursday runs to hundreds of pages. State governments receive authority to issue $10 billion in tax-exempt bonds to subsidize home purchases and to help subprime borrowers refinance.

In a sop to builders, Mr. Frank also expands the low-income housing tax credit, and he creates a new refundable credit for certain home buyers. To help defray the cost to the Treasury, Mr. Frank raises taxes on multinational companies by delaying a scheduled reform. A law set to take effect this year would expand firms' ability to claim foreign tax credits and thereby avoid double taxation. Mr. Frank would put it off for another year.

Then there is the $230 million for housing counseling to be distributed by the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. You might think that all of this money will simply be disbursed to left-wing activists in the nonprofit world. But at least $35 million is specifically earmarked for lawyers, who can then pursue foreclosure-related litigation. Now there's a way to help housing markets clear.

Also included is this addition to the Home Owners' Loan Act: "A Federal savings association may make investments, directly or indirectly, each of which is designed primarily to promote the public welfare . . . through the provision of housing, services, and jobs." Mr. Frank has got to be kidding. Federal savings associations are lenders regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision, which was created in the wake of the 1980s savings and loan debacle. Despite the sorry state of bank balance sheets, the Congressman is now telling federal thrifts to make investments on criteria other than risk and return.

We can only imagine what else is buried in this tome, which deserves a Presidential veto. But the worst problem remains its invitation for bankers to dump their biggest losers on taxpayers. The Frank plan appears to take care of everyone in the housing market, except the renters and homeowners who lived within their means.


The worst part of this entire debacle is that the "crunch" only affects about 3% of the population, at most. Over a third of us are renters, and most of the rest either own their homes outright, or have been responsible. So, now it appears we have to get beat up (tax wise) because of the mistakes of others.

I fully understand how this can happen. People lose jobs or get sick, and it becomes nearly impossible to pay the bills. But I believe this is the minority. Most of those I know who have had these troubles (and yes, over the years, people have had these problems before) it is nearly always someone driving a newer and nicer car than I ever had, one who takes vacations like I never took, and who eats at restaurants I could never afford.

I've seen shows on TV where a person like Suzy Orman looks at one's finances and helps them get straightened out. In almost every case, they spend extravagently.

Heck, I have an acquaintance who went bankrupt a few years ago. She went almost straight from the bankruptcy hearing to the new car showroom. She's on her 3rd brand new car since the bankruptcy less than 10 years ago.


They have been having financial difficulties (again.) Since the bankruptcy, the house has been in danger of being in foreclosure (again.) Now, explain why this person should be bailed out (again.)

I worked with a woman who had financial difficulties. Money was tight. What did she drive? An economical car? Nope, a big ass Caddy. Even though gas was cheaper then, she still was using at least double what a reasonable sized car like a Toyota or Nissan would use. A person like her needs financial help because...?

I believe many of those (definately not all--sh*t happens) in trouble are there of their own doing. It seems no one is willing to take responsibility for their stupid actions. What's worse, is no one learns from them, it seems.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How far can I throw a laptop?

Even though I have been online for over 10 years, I'm still a technological knucklehead--little more than a caveman with a computer.


Fortunately, over the years I have mellowed quite a bit. When I am confronted with a computer problem, I no longer am this guy:


but I am more a civilized caveman.


To quote the late, great, Phil Hartman, as Cirroc, Caveman Lawyer, "I'm just a caveman. I fell on some ice and was later thawed by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me!"

So, how does all this tie in on this fine early Sunday morning? And why am I babbling on about my lack of computer ability?

Simple. I have been trying to be a better blogger. I also believe that some of my ideas are pretty logical, and I'd like to spread the word. Rather than stand at the town square, mount a soapbox, and become a public orator/gadfly, I am using the technology of today. Besides, where would I even find a soapbox, let alone one sturdy enough to support my substantial weight.

In public, I could be the victim of rocks, rotten food, or who knows what tossed at me, while here, the worst I have to dodge is some angry pixels.

Ok, Rambling Old Guy, back on track.

Yesterday, in order to promote my blogsite, and take over the known universe and spread peace and joy and heal mankind through my logical ideas, I decided to get a widget from entrecard. I was assured this would help me accomplish my goals. So I got one. So far, so good. I even figured out how to put it on my blog. It's over on the left somewhere. Yes, the Old Man has been officially dragged into the 21st century. I'm acquiring some techie skills.

Last night, I got some requests to advertise here. Seems like a good idea. Again, so far, so good. I logged into my entre account, approved, and all was right in the world.

Got up this morning, got some more requests in my inbox. Ok, I'll go check them out.

I can't get into my account. It said my password was incorrect. WTH? OK, maybe I made a mistake. So I tried again. Nada.

Now, I tried to request to reset my password. Considering my memory, I probably forgot my password, or something equally dopey.

I get the message The email address given does not exist

I tried to login from the address given to me in an email sent to me from them.

I am now totally verklempt. I have no idea what to do. I've evolved enough to realize that smashing the computer won't help. Yelling at it makes me feel a little better, but it still doesn't work. I tried some mild cussing--still nothing. Dropping the "F" bomb, again, fruitless.

I've given up for now. I'll try again later.

BTW, with a good slide afterward due to a low projectory, I'll bet I can toss my laptop 25 feet, easily.

Just sayin'

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reverend Wright Apologists

By now everyone knows the story--Reverend Wright spews hatred from the pulpit, and Barack Obama sits quietly and listens to it. FOR 20 YEARS!!!

How long would I sit in church and listen to something I claim to have vehemently opposed? I'm not sure, but I know for damn sure it wouldn't last for 20 years. Nor would I consider the minister spewing that garbage to be my spiritual advisor, nor refer to him as "my uncle." So now, because it is politically expedient, Obama tries to distance himself from Wright?

Sorry, I ain't buying what he's selling.

I was reading Newsweek about Oprah:

According to two sources, Winfrey was never comfortable with the tone of Wright's more incendiary sermons, which she knew had the power to damage her standing as America's favorite daytime talk-show host. "Oprah is a businesswoman, first and foremost," said one longtime friend, who requested anonymity when discussing Winfrey's personal sentiments. "She's always been aware that her audience is very mainstream, and doing anything to offend them just wouldn't be smart. She's been around black churches all her life, so Reverend Wright's anger-filled message didn't surprise her. But it just wasn't what she was looking for in a church."

Oprah was intelligent enough to know that Wright was offensive to many. She distanced herself from him after a short time. We'll never know if it was a business decision or if it was that in her heart, she knew he was wrong, but that doesn't matter. What does matter is that she did not sit there for 20 years without reacting. Just sitting there and taking it all in. Maybe I'm wrong (it's happened before) but sitting quietly is acceptance of the message. No rational person would sit quietly for 20 years unless he or she agreed with the message.

As recently as December 2007, Wright's organization honored Louis Farrakhan, racist extraordinaire. While Obama had begun to seperate himself from Wright before then, it was about 20 years too late. Obama's lack of reaction for so long speaks to me of his character, or lack of it. I wonder if he ever would have reacted if it were not for the public outcry. And, by the way, Obama did apologize for Wright. His initial reactions were that sound bites were used to make him appear worse than he was.

I'm going to have to call shenanignas on that. It is nearly impossible to put denouncing Jews, Italians, and all white people in context. Stop apologizing, and stand up for what is right.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Mickey Mantle, HBO Documentary

Believe it or not, this is a sports documentary that will appeal to nearly everyone, from the most hard core sports fan, to anyone with an appreciation of the universality of man's struggle with life.

Years after his death, Mickey Mantle continues to be one of the most fascinating figures in sports history. HBO is currently airing a newly made documentary about his life and career. Neither Shakespeare nor Sophocles ever created a character in any work that was more heroic, yet more tragic than Mantle. His story is one of a man who worked hard to achieved success, and then became a victim of that success. This story has it all: Mantle ascended to the top of the highest mountain, then went into a personal hell, the depths of which made him an almost despicable person. Finally, in the third act, I mean in the twilight of his life, he attains true redemption and the peace he sought for so many years.

I could not recommend any special more than HBO's Mantle.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Yay, Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. reported sales that rose more than analysts estimated after U.S. consumers bought discounted clothing and food as they contended with higher gasoline prices.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said sales at stores open at least a year climbed 3.2 percent, beating its forecast and sending the shares higher in early New York trading. Costco's sales advanced 8 percent...Wal-Mart climbed 36 cents to $57.19 at 9:43 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The retailer increased 20 percent this year through yesterday, the biggest gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Isn't it wonderful? Lenin's quote, "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them," comes to mind. Companies like Wal-Mart, ok they are probably the main one, put the economic squeeze on American companies and rather than buy here, at a fair price, they buy from China. China, the country with the human rights violations. China, the country that poisoned our pets, and sold toys painted with lead for our children, that is where Wal-Mart does most of its buying. The last report I read stated that Wal-Mart is China's 8th largest trading partner, bigger than all but 7 COUNTRIES. And what do American consumers do? They buy from Wal-Mart, a company that has policies that put Americans out of work. Furthermore, Wal-Mart treats its employees poorly. Health insurance? They don't need no stinkin' health insurance. Meanwhile, the Walton family heirs are among the richest in America. Recently, it was stated that if the 4 main Walton heirs put their fortunes together, it would be more than Bill Gates's fortune.

Yet, we line up to buy crap there.

I realize in some parts of the country, some people have no choice because Wal-Mart has already destroyed the local economy, forcing out small businesses. But in much of the rest of the country, we have choices. Most folks I know have homes loaded with junk they don't need. Hey, just go to a couple garage sales around here, and you'll see what I mean. If the choice is Wal-Mart or starve, by all means, go to Wal-Mart. But I don't believe most are buying essentials from Wal-Mart, they are just buying crap. And others are selling out their neighbors for a few pieces of silver.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Are voters racist? Hillary getting a bad deal

The media has been all over Hillary Clinton to quit the race. They seem to be skewing the news, as she "barely wins in Indiana," while Obama "wins in a landslide" in North Carolina. And, again, two huge states, Michigan and Florida, don't count because the DNC decided they did not have the right to move up their primaries.

What a total bunch of nonsense.

It was just announced on TV that African American voters in No. Carolina voted 94% for Obama. WTH???

He is getting those votes only because he is black. Clinton has done at least as much (probably more) for the black community than Obama ever has, yet she is virtually shut out? I can understand if Obama had a huge majority among blacks, but 94%? Racism, pure and simple.

I don't really have a dog in this fight, I guess, because I won't vote for either one. I'm a registered Democrat, but can't in good conscience vote for either one in the Presidential election. I'm not voting for McCain, either. I'm one of those who wastes his vote by choosing either a Libertarian or Green candidate. Not that I believe any of those have a chance in hell of winning, but it is impossible to pull the lever for one I have no faith in at all.

It's tough being a compassionate Conservative. Bush ruined that for us. He is neither, although that is the bill of goods he sold the voters in 2000.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sock it to me?

That was the phrase that won the Presidential election of 1968.

Richard Nixon appeared on one of the top sketch comedy shows of the day (one of the greatest of all-time, really.) Laugh-in had the effect of humanizing him, and made him into an electable candidate. He went from a punchline of many jokes to almost lovable. This was the first time such a tactic was used.

Today, appearing on TV programs is a staple part of the campaign. A week or so ago, John McCain appeared on WWE Wrestling (you can't make this up.) Hosting, or at least being a part of a comedy or funny talk show is almost routine for presidential candidates. Obama has been on Letterman to do a Top Ten List, and last night it was Hillary's turn.

In case you missed it, here is her list:

10. "We have more Dakotas than every other country combined."

9. "Canadian bacon: soggy and chewy; American bacon: crisp and delicious!"

8. "Thanks to the internet, I can order new pantsuits 24/7. There's your pantsuit joke, Dave. Are you happy now?"

7. "232 years and not one cookie shortage."

6. "TiVo."

5. "Did I mention the soup? Mmm, soup."

4. "Did you know former President Teddy Roosevelt was an American?"

3. "Where else can you get a car painted for $29.95?"

2. "Is this the part where I say, 'Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!'?"

1. "Apparently anyone can get a talk show."

Apparently, making a fool of oneself is the way to win the hearts of Americans.

I wonder if either party is thinking about Carrot Top for 2012?


Monday, May 05, 2008

I Don't Want to Grow Up

I'm not sure why I titled this entry what I did, but I guess after reading the following quote, I couldn't get the Toys R Us jingle out of my head. : )

All my life I used to wonder what I would become when I grew up. Then, about seven years ago, I realized that I was never going to grow up...that growing is an ever ongoing process.

M. Scott Peck

I picked this quote today because this is an issue that has been on my mind. We, as humans, continue to evolve as a species and as individuals every day. I know I'm a different man than I was a few years ago, and I'd like to think I'm a better person, too.

Life is a learning process, and the ultimate knowledge is that which we learn of ourselves.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Lifestyles of the uber rich and not very famous

I was just looking at the list of the world's richest individuals, and it dawned on me that the overwhelming majority are pretty much unknown here in the USA. Outside of Warren Buffett and Bill gates, the rest are from other countries, and truth be told, names not recognized by us.

Warren Buffett (US): $62bn
Carlos Slim (Mexico): $60bn
Bill Gates (US): $58bn
Lakshmi Mittal (India): $45bn
Mukesh Ambani (India): $43bn
Anil Ambani (India): $42bn
Ingvar Kamprad (Sweden): $31bn
KP Singh (India): $30bn
Oleg Deripaska (Russia): $28bn
Karl Albrecht (Germany): $27bn

But here is what I thought about: the plight of Africa and many other countries without pure water. I have read that it costs anywhere from $70 to $300 depending on who is giving the estimate. If each of these top super rich billionaires gave just $30,000,000 each, a pittance by their standards, almost like a dollar to you and me, a million wells could be drilled. If just one gave a billion dollars, over a quarter million wells could be drilled. The impact of fresh water is tremendous for a local area. It allows them to be self-sufficient. It frees up hours normally spent just attaining this staple of life that we take for granted being available right at our tap. It allows crops to grow, and for the people living there to be more healthy.
The billionaires have the ability to change the world for untold millions.


I was looking at the list, and I realized that 5 of the top ten are from countries that are considered to be extremely poor. It makes me wonder about how wealth is distributed, and why we, as Americans, feel so obligated to help others when their own countrymen don't seem to care.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Today was one of the most difficult of my life

I got back a little while ago from the service for my friend, Bob. In addition to having a great sense of humor, Bob was one of the most extraordinary gentle men I have ever known. I seperated those words for a reason. Bob was a gentle man. I remembered how we would hang out in his garage doing guy stuff--working on cars, bikes, whatever. Ok, it was mostly him working on his car and bike, and I provided comic relief because my mechanical knowledge would barely fill an index card, while Bob could do almost anything. What he couldn't do, he would teach himself to do.

During these work sessions, chipmunks would come into the garage, and go up to Bob. He would tell them to hold on a minute, and he then give them a peanut from the stash he kept in the garage. This was done like it was the most normal thing in the world.

But what really struck me today was the fragile nature of our existence. Bob was a powerful man. He was 6'5" and strong and healthy. When we were younger, he was a really good athlete, and could have been a jock if he wanted to. He did all the crazy stuff young men do. He was a biker all his life, and he may have occasionally played fast and loose with speed limits. Ok, on more than one occasion, police showed up at his home and told him, "Look we know it was you," referring to reports of a bike racing through his hometown at speeds that were in triple digits. Considering that he was the only one in town with a street legal racing bike, they really didn't have to think too much to figure out who it was.

But all it took to end the life of this strong man was the flu. I'm sure, wherever Bob is, he is laughing his ass off about that.

Divorce sucks

I spent time on the phone yesterday speaking to an old friend. He's going through a nasty divorce. His can't be soon enough ex-wife is really making it hard for him. It's not the financial part of it, it's that she is engaging in spiteful behavior. How can two people who used to be in love be so vicious towards one another?

I know the old joke is that divorce is so expensive because it's worth it, but why does it have to be hurtful? Funny part is, this is the third divorce I've heard of recently where the one who initiated it by doing things that were wrong in the context of marriage, act like they were so aggrieved. Can't anyone own up to their shortcomings? Won't anyone admit wrongdoing any more?

I'm going to my buddy's memorial service today. He and his wife were together for 27 years. They had rough patches, but they got through them because they started out as friends, and worked through problems and stayed friends. I never heard Bob utter an unkind word about anyone (ok, maybe a few of his bosses, but we all know what jerks they can be) and perhaps that is a huge part of the reason he and his wife were so happy for so long.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Democrats are confusing me

I don't under stand why so many are coming out and saying Hillary should drop out of the race and get behind Obama. I'm confused for a number of reasons. First, would be that the race is still close. By her just dropping out, when the race is still very tight, and a number of voters haven't been heard yet, sounds, for lack of a better term, not very democratic.

Secondly, her dropping out without a winner being decided makes anyone who supported her insignificant, as if they don't count. If I back someone and they lose, I could deal with that, but if they were pressured to quit while it was still a race, I would be offended.

Third, the logic that by focusing on each other rather than McCain, is destructive and is a faulty premise. The American voting public has a short memory, at best. The all-important first primary was in New Hampshire. How many people can name all the candidates? Mrs. Clinton came in first, Obama came in second. I doubt few people can name who came in 3rd, or any of the other high rated candidates, let alone some of the fringe ones. The Democratic National Convention is in August. 10 weeks is more than enough time to decide. These folks are not exactly unknowns. I think they are selling the American public short by assuming we need more than 10 weeks to make a decision.

Let the registered voters decide. If it is still undecided come August, let it be dealt with it then. That is democracy in action.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Bob Story

I have been thinking about my buddy Bob all morning.

I wanted to share one of the stories that just describes the kind of guy he was. Back when we were around 17 or 18, a huge snow storm hit NJ. We drove around (back then gas was around 30 cents a gallon, so it was not an unusual activity --why am I starting to sound like Grandpa Simpson?) anyway, we came upon a car stuck in the snow. We pulled over and pushed the car out and got the driver back on the road. Bob decided it was fun helping out stranded motorists, so we spent the next few hours driving around and pushing people stuck in the snow. Most of them offered us money, but we never took a dime. Just randomly helping out strangers, that was the kind of guy he was. You can only imagine just how great a friend he was.