Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Today's Cheap Laugh

I'm a sucker for Irish Priest Drunk Driving jokes (HT: Wasted Days Wasted Nights):

An Irish priest is driving down to New York and gets stopped for speeding in Connecticut.

The state trooper smells alcohol on the priest's breath and then sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car. He says, "Sir, have you been drinking?"

"Just water," says the priest.

The trooper says, "Then why do I smell wine?"

The priest looks at the bottle and says,"Good Lord! He's done it again!"

Lynne Cheney with Diane Rehm on NPR Today

I caught a little of The Second Lady on Diane Rehm today (I was running some errands at lunch. A new Filene's Basement just opened, and I need some new socks. Call me crazy.)

She deserves some props. Not for her answers (typical non-denial denials of bad stuff - like her husband's commitment to the freedom to torture - and fluffy, puffy answers to the harder questions about things like, oh, Iraq and whether or not Gen. Shinseki was right all those years ago),

No. I give her props for simply being there, giving unrehearsed answers to unscripted questions, in front of *gasp* the American public, and not some hand-selected Republican peanut gallery or a military academy.

At least now we now that Lady has more cajones then either her husband or his boss.

Not literally, of course. We all know who has the biggest package from among those three.

O Holy Night


Rudolph is on tonight, too!

Man, that Clarice always gets me going.

The Official Start of the Christmas Season

Black Friday? No. The day after Halloween? No. Whenever we get around to putting up the Christmas tree?

Noooooooooo.

Tonight, because TNT will be airing: And that, my friends, is when it all begins.

So crack open some nog and enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens

"The government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them."
- Mark Twain, born 170 years ago today

See how much smarter we were back then?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

AOL Karma

Justin linked me to his tale of AOL woe. The bastards.

Somehow, $1.whatever million doesn't seem nearly enough.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Did You Catch Meet the Press?

Yeah, I know I'm late, but I TiVo'd it as I drove home from Cleveburg.

What led me to post was Judy Woodruff's clearly rehearsed (does she get Larry King to write her jokes?), gratuitous, and totally embarrassing joke about Libby confusing Tim Russert with Bob Woodward?

Judy, sweetie: you can only get away with shit like that IF IT'S FUNNY.

Oh - and now that I'm real-time again - Indy 10, Pbg 0??

Yikes.

Uh oh. Steeler pick. Po-a-malu-a-whatever.

Who's laying $50 on 16-0?

Wildest Referral So Far

I've only been hanging around here for a couple months now, so I guess I'm a newbie.

But this referral just about blew me away today.

Danger - adult content!

Yikes! How'd that web-surfer make their way to my little corner of the blogosphere?

Consider me deflowered.

Canceling AOL

OK - this should be fun. Thought you might enjoy sharing this experience with me.

I just called AOL to cancel my service. At 8:29 pm precisely.

I'm on hold now after navigating a handful of voice menus (with the requisite duplicates en Espanol). I have been advised that the wait for a "cancellation operator" (no doubt enjoying a nice nan break somewhere in the exurbs of Bangalore)

8:49 pm Still waiting. Nothing like a little Sixpence None the Richer to pass the time and calm my rising anger.

8:43 pm A nice soothing Computer Man asked me to punch in (or say) my phone number (area code first!). Hmm. Couldn't we have done this earlier?

Then: please answer your security questions. "Cleve-land," I state, plainly, clearly. (A special prize to whoever can guess my security question!) It is now 8:53 pm.

Yawn. Think I'll pour a vodka tonic. I'm watching Meet the Press (yesterday's - love my TiVO). Biden and Warner are mud-wrestling over Iraq. Surprise, surprise, to quote Pvt. Pyle. More on that when I have a few free hours.

Yikes! Mid-glug, a click in the line. A lovely, lilting Indian voice. "Hello, my name is Anna." Sure. "How are you today?" I'm fine, I tell her. How are you? "Oh - I am good. You are the first person to ask me that today." She likes me! She's going to be nice and just cancel my AOL and I can get on with Tim Russert getting his undies all in a bunch!

But, no. She launches into her pablum: "You wish to be canceling your AOL relationship? I will most surely be liking to help you with that."

Sure you will.

8:55 pm. We have just gone through the reasons: got me some High-Speed! Don't need yo' stinking dial-up! Etc etc etc.

She is now launching into all the things that high-speed AOL can offer. And because I have been a loyal AOLer for 7-plus years, she's willing to cut me a deal for $7 per month (do her superiors in Reston, VA know about this?)

No, no, and no.

It is 9:05 now. "Tell you what," (she really has the idiom nailed, this Anna). "I'll give you free AOL broadband through January, so you can give it a try. If you don't like it, just call back and cancel then."

Huh? And give up another 45 minutes of my life? Snake my way through the Byzantine phone tree of AOL-Bangalore? No thanks.

"But you do not understand, Mr Jack, what I am offering you..." I tried to stop her, but it couldn't be done. They sure have a good How to Interrupt and Be Persistent Without Being a Total Asshole course over there at AOL University.

9:10 pm She finally needs to take a breath, so I jump in: "Here's what I would appreciate: please just cancel my service so I don't need to call back again and we can all just move on with our lives, sweet Anna."

"OK Mr Jack. I'm sorry that you don't see my point, but I will cancel you."

Thank you Thank you Thank you.

And now, at 9:15 pm, I am back to Meet the Press, and Sen. Biden's forehead wrinkles look like they are about to jump through the screen and squeeze me to death.

Oh, Dear God, he's running for President in 2008! Didn't he try that already? When I was, like, in middle school?

More on that, too, later. Maybe.

I'm Back

Well, I survived Cleveland's soon-to-be-legendary Thanksgiving Blizzard of 2005.

More on that later, for, first, there is maintenance to do.

I've reorganized and updated the link list, simply to better reflect the links I check out regularly and tend to comment on (or those who comment here - thanks to you three or four hardy souls!)
Next up, I need to cancel my AOL service. Those bastards have taken enough of my coin over the last 10 years or so. And now that I've gotten Comcast high-speed (yee-ha), AOL is simply superfluous.

I'll update y'all on the weekends doings later on. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, friends, I am off on that long and winding road known as the Pennsylvania Turnpike, back to Cleveburg for the long, long holiday weekend.

I'll see you on the other side. In the meantime, let us give Thanks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ten Years Later - The Browns Move

It just occurred to me - 10 years? Holy shit. Where has it gone?

Funny how, as a 7 year resident now of Maryland how the anger of what Art Modell did has faded (unlike for these poor bastards who apparently are apt to be overcome with hyperbole. Pol Pot? You have got to be kidding me. Relax - I know they are joking. Carlos Boozer and all.)

At the time, 1995, I was living in Columbus (had been since 1992). I had organized a road trip for a bunch of friends to head up to a Brown's game at the old stadium. It included a bunch of wild Irish dudes who loved nothing better than a good long Sunday of drinking and yelling and hitting. What could be better than a dozen seats in the old Dawg Pound?

Of course, news of the impending move broke in the Pee Dee that week (though the official announcement, on that BWI tarmac, didn't come until the next week).

As I recall, the game was against Houston (irony, eh?). It was silent as a funeral. Even the atmosphere at the Muni Lot - the center of the tailgating world - was subdued, quiet, sad. Many held signs lambasting Modell, urging on the fans, the city, crying out to the greater NFL community to do something to stop the inevitable.

It was a cold, surreal day.

When I moved to Baltimore, Grandpa, a lifelong Cleveland sports fan, asked, "You're not gonna become a Ravens fan, are you?"

Well, when you're in a city and surrounded, how can you not? Especially when, over the years, the team has had so much to be interested in. Let's not include this year in the discussion, but Billick has been a terrific coach, Ozzie has worked some wonders in the front office, they have been fun to watch, and - wait - they won a freaking Super Bowl. How could you not get involved? They have been an organization of class and stability and excellence (save a double homicide here, a cell phone drug deal there).

Yes, I go see the Browns game here every year, and I wear my orange and yell like an idiot - until the game is out of reach - early 3rd quarter, usually.

So, yes, I still love my Browns. And, yes, I root for the Ravens (when it doesn't conflict). And, no, I don't think that Art Modell is Pol Pot. More a minor despot, Saddam Hussein, perhaps.

Checking in on Art

In light of the fact that he's up again for the Hall, it's worth checking in to see how Art Modell is passing the time.

My favorite:

4) Made his regular $55 monthly payment to National City Bank to pay down the loan he took out in 1994 to sign Andre Rison. Only 457 more payments and the debt will finally be paid.

Monday, November 21, 2005

My Holiday Schedule



As I posted earlier, I'll be off to C-town on Wednesday to spend the long weekend with the folks and see some old friends. I may slide in a quick trip down to Cowlumbus to see some old friends there for an afternoon, meet some old friends over at the Great Lakes Brewing Co (my second favorite craft brew house), hit the Warehouse District, take in the Friday lighting of Public Square, soak in the wonders of an early Saturday morning at the West Side Market, and simply enjoy the presence of my grandparents and parents and brothers and aunts and uncles and cousins.

And maybe you should, too.

If I don't see you tomorrow (though I probably will), I'll see you on Monday.

Too Much Jack?

Perhaps you are wondering, why so much Jack? All of a sudden? After such relative quiet?

Well, there are weeks when I am traveling and unable to post.

But the real news is that the Jack Household has entered the, well, the 00s or the "aughts" or the 2000s or whatever.

The new PC arrived 2 weeks ago, courtesy of an IBM friends and family discount. It is loaded and lightening fast, and the flat screen monitor is actually quite sexy. I can't wait to get some really cool games and turn into a total nerd.

Then came the cable hookup. I hate Comcast, but what are you gonna do? Chalk it up to one more reason to hate monopolies and to fight for free enterprise and competition.

Finally, and the greatest, I put in a wireless router. So now I can sit here in my leather den chair, sip my dirty martini, and tap away on my laptop to my heart's delight.

Oh - and watch a little MNF at the same time.

Now We Can Speak Happily of the Browns

I was really hoping that we would beat the Steelers last week so that I could post a link to this.

But we didn't, so I couldn't.

But now that we have, I did.

It's fun - but there is no way to improve his appearance.

My Famous Beer Ass Chicken

While I'm on a cooked poultry rant, allow me to share with you a crowd favorite - beer ass chicken.

I was introduced to this by a native of West-by-Gawd-Virgina. He said they would line up dozens of such birds across barrel grills to feed the annual family reunion.

It's really simple. Take a nice chicken. Rub it all inside and out with your favorite rub - I tend to go with some Old Bay or any local crab spice. Do not be afraid to overspice, for it cannot be done.

Get the grill fired up and hot. Make sure you put a drip pan (or fashion one from aluminum foil) and place under the grill where the bird will go. Otherwise, you will have major flame-age on your hands, as well as a charred bird.

Here comes the fun part: crack open a can of beer, and drink half of it. Mmmmmm...there.

Now, dump some more spice into the can. Now, gently, gently, ease the bird onto the beer can. Place it on the hot grill, and make sure it's balanced and standing straight up (see above). Turn the heat down to medium on the chicken's side, but keep the other side on high. (You want a high heat, but you don't want to scorch the thing). Cover the wing and leg tips with foil if you want to avoid it getting too dark. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. Seriously. Melting chicken fat + heat = raging fire.

What will happen is that the outside of the bird will get crispy and dark, the inside fragrant and juicy as the beer and spices steam it from the inside out. Perfect. Take it off the grill once it hits 180 in the thigh or 170 in the breast.

Like all grilled meats, let it sit for at least 10 minutes before carving. You can also slather it with some nice BBQ sauce during the last 10 minutes on the heat.

This is always great for guests since it's simply funny to look at - and will make the best damn chicken you've ever eaten. And perhaps we will still have a few good grill days before the snow starts coming down.

Those Lovely Ohio Girls

Golly, but I do miss those classy Ohio State gals!

Is it just me, or does that look like the Tri Delt house? In fact, I think I dated the older sister of the 3rd girl from the right!

Mom's Thanksgiving

Mom will be hosting the festivities this year. She inherited the mantle from Grandma 3 or 4 years ago, when the annual 30-something gathering began to overwhelm.

Not much has changed, aside from the location, about 3 blocks east. The turkey is still a tad dry, the green vegetables cooked to a lifeless gray, the sweet potatoes sticky with brown sugar, honey, and marshmallows, green bean casserole bubbly and topped with crisped onions.

This year, I asked mom how she planned to do the turkey. "Why, I'll roast it, of course."

Have you thought about a brine, I asked?

"No, I don't think we'll need that."

But it really makes the bird taste great - keeps it from drying out, too.

"No - we'll do fine."

No changing Mom's ways, I guess.

I brined our bird last year. And I smoked it over hickory. Twelve hours. Damn, that was the finest turkey I've ever had.

But my family has its ways, and will keep them. That's okay with me. At least I won one culinary choice - the jug of Gallo Rose will be replaced with some nice, chilled Beaujolais Nouveau.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Troy Smith

All these years, I've been asking why the Bucks can't recruit a true, leading, top of the line QB.

Michigan has had terrific gun slingers throughout the 90's and 00's. Why not the Buckeyes?

Well, now they've got one. His name is Troy Smith, and he may just end up being the greatest pure QB to wear the scarlet and gray.

Mid-3rd Quarter, 12-10

I don't get it. The Bucks have been dominating both lines. Smith has been pretty much on the mark. AJ Hawk and crew are playing as advertised.

Only up 2?

Oh yeah, that's right. Two turnovers.

C'mon, Buckeyes!

Friday, November 18, 2005

My Tomato Plants

Last weekend, before the hard freeze hit, I figured I had pushed my luck far enough. I tugged all those plump little green orbs still clinging stubbornly to the vine. My annual harvest of green tomatoes was nearly overdue.

Good thing, too. The vines are all dead tonight. Dead black with the frost. Cell walls exploded by expanding frozen moisture. The season's hard end.

I plucked the green tomatoes tonight from my counter, slice them, dredged them through a mixture of corn meal, Old Bay, salt, and pepper, then let them sit for several minutes in some nice hot oil.

They rested for moments on paper towels, drained, then enjoyed a final sprinkle of Old Bay.

Still hot, crisp, redolent of summer's long-since passed promises. They were delicious with a side of blue cheese.

Welcome, Winter, for Autumn has bid us a fond farewell.

Attacking Jack Murtha

This is where they finally jump the shark.

I don't agree with his recommendations to cut and run, but when his comments trigger this kind of vociferous, coordinated personal attack, it can mean only one thing:

The Bush-Cheney core is clearly out of ideas. Its arguments have failed.

So, now they are left to attack the integrity, courage, and judgement of a highly decorated 37-year Marine veteran.

Nice.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Decisions We Make

This week, I spent a couple of days meeting with the buyers at one of our biggest customers. It's a big name outfit that you would probably recognize.

Earlier this year, this customer offered me a job. A great job. A huge job. With a big raise, fat signing bonus, and a pile of stock options. I'm not telling you this to brag but to illustrate just how overwhelmed I was by their offer.

I felt wanted and needed and loved and in demand. Within days, still euphoric, I gave them a verbal, "I think I'd love to join your team" type of comment. Mostly commital

Damn. Suddenly, that made it real. I would have to move, tear myself away from the life and the friends I'd built and grown attached to here. My house. My yard. The local pubs I've come to know. I realized then that I was, and had been, happy. Why potentially screw that up? I really like (and sometimes love) my job, where I work, the people I work with.

And then I established a new rule for life: "Don't fuck with happiness."

This doesn't mean settling, or striving for lazy contentedness, or letting the right opportunities glide silently by. This does mean not grasping after every last golden nickel.

And, so, much like John Kerry, I declined their offer, after I had accepted it.

Over the months, there were some pangs of regret, some wonders of how green the grass may have been on the other side.

Until this week. Everyone I met there was stressed, overworked, unhappy with how cut-throat and competitive the culture had become, how the days grew longer and longer, and weekends seemed almost to disappear. Ugh. Thank God I had thought better about it.

In life, as in baseball, sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make.

And the Winner Is...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My New Baby

It arrived yesterday, shiny and clean and smelling oh so new.

Mmmmmm....coffee.......

Monday, November 14, 2005

Reuben the Running Machine

I'll say this much: Reuben Droughns is the real deal. That was a great first half of football last night, and as I told my old friend (and Steelers fan) Swill, it took me back to the mid-to-late 80s and the days of Byner and Mack.

But, of course, they had to play the second half, too.

Too bad.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cleveland - Sports Capital

Call me crazy, but is there any better place to be a fan right now, based, at least, upon possibility (after all, in Cleveland, what have we besides hope?).

The Indians have the greatest organization in the MLB, a genius GM, and runner-up-best manager, and a great little ball club.

The Browns are clearly moving in the right direction. Every game is, at least, competitive - for 30 or more minutes. Again, the organization is on an upward trend.

The Cavs have LeBron. What else can you say?

Show me another town that has so many positive story lines, and I'll send you a 6-pack of my latest homebrew.

Understanding the Minority

The most recent polls show that 29% of Americans believe that VP Cheney is "honest and ethical."

What?

He can't possibly have that many relatives.

I'd like to meet these jack-booted Nazi thugs. And give them a good water-boarding. After all, it's not torture.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Say It Ain't So?!?

Arrested Development done?

The funniest show on TV today? One of the smartest written shows in the history of TV?

Aaaaarrrgggghhhhh!

My Broken Coffee Maker

The bastard died on me nearly two weeks ago.

I was devastated. Between work, travel, and my need to research to find the finest machine out there, it took me about a week to order it on-line. It shipped yesterday.

In the meantime, I started to get my coffee each morning at the local joint. It added 10 minutes to my morning routine, and I wasn't happy about it.

But the place is cozy, friendly, and owned by a youngish Irish guy and his wife. One or the other is always there, along with one of several pierced and inked twentysomethings. They're always playing some cool music (alt-indie-folk stuff), local artists decorate the walls, the pastries are made by their grandmotherly next-door neighbor, and the coffee is pretty damn good.

I told Ronan (the owner) this morning about my coffee machine, and that it should arrive Monday or Tuesday. Oh, damn, he said

No worry, I told him. I'll see you Wednesday.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Good Riddance


I know it seems like piling on, but I just can't help myself.

In Favor of the Free Market

The juxtaposition of headlines on the front page of yesterday's Baltimore Sun made me chuckle:

Oil Company Execs Defend Profits to Senate

Then:

Tax income falls as gas prices rise
Maryland gets less road revenue than expected as drivers cut back


Duh?

Allow me to summarize:

- Big, bad storms and overdue refinery maintenance shut down a large portion of domestic oil production capacity. Hence (I love to throw in a "hence" here and there - makes me sound all smart and stuff), supply is constrained.

- China (India, too) is growing like a crazy mutha-effer, gobbling up a whole pile of oil. Hence (there I go again), demand is increased.

- Result: Prices go UP.

I'll repeat myself: duh.

Fast forward several weeks. People start driving less, due to higher prices. Demand falls. Pipelines and refineries come back on line. Supply catches up. Prices fall.

(For all you braniacs out there, Charlie Krauthammer pursues this in a little more detail today.)

One more time: duh.

Let's say I own the only plant in the world that makes Fluffernutter. I decide to go on a 2 week kayaking vacation to Outer Mongolia, and because I'm a generous tycoon, I take my entire staff with me. So I shut down my plant.

Sadly, we had mistakenly scheduled our trip over National Fluffernutter Day. While we were gone, demand surged, the black market went nuts, and jars of Fluffernutter were selling for $20 a pop on EBay.

When I return from my adventure, sore shoulders and all, I am greeted by a huge backlog of orders, angry customer emails, and a mob of crazed fluffernutter addicts. We restart the plant, and some shifts, work overtime, and fill our warehouses to capacity.

Of course, we overcompensate and make too much. So, we need to mark down some of the product in order to sell through our excess: 2-for-1 Fluffernutter deal!

Through all this, do I expect to be called before the Senate? Of course not. This is what markets do. Supply falls. Demand rises. Prices go up. Supply catches up. Demand may fall. Prices go down.

Anyone who doesn't understand this is either ignorant of basic economics, a lunatic ideologue, or a vacuous, headline hogging politician.

Those Crazy Fraternity Pranksters!

It continues to amaze me that otherwise rational folks can dismiss these (and similar activities) as little more than "the kind of thing fratboys, sorority girls, and academy cadets do to newcomers".

My mother made the same argument to me, heatedly, over dinner at Applebee's (her favorite), when the Abu Ghraib store and photos first broke. She argued that this was being blown out of proportion, that this was little more than "having some fun" with the prisoners. Of course, her indignation was aimed mainly at the "liberal press" for breaking the story. "Don't they realize that this could hurt our national security, having these pictures made public?"

Duh. How about blaming the folks who staged and took the pictures? Or those who ordered the MPs to "loosen up" the prisoners? Or those who issued documents outlining allowable "aggressive interrogation"? Or those who, from the very top, made it clear that such treatment was allowable, even going so far as to scrawl "make it happen" on a recently released memo?

Hmm?

Let me tell you this: I was in a fraternity (not that long ago). I was president of my chapter. If anyone had treated our pledges in this way, they would have immediately been kicked out of the chapter and the school. Criminal and civil charges would have been filed. The chapter would have probably lost its charter and been thrown off campus. And I, as president, would have been held responsible and would have probably also faced charges and expulsion.

But, of course, that sort of accountability and responsibility doesn't exist in this administration.

When we begin to adopt tactics that force us to recoil, that simply feel wrong and inconsistent with our fundamental values, then I'd argue the Islamofascists have done more harm to our society than they did on 9-11. When our enemies have put us in such a position as fighting to retain some legal right to torture, than we surely are losing this war.

Housing Bubble

An interesting take on the turn in the housing market in DC. First off - who in their right mind would pay $800k for a TOWNHOUSE? I know it's in Alexandria but it's not even in Old Town.

YIKES.

We here in lovely Bawlmer, Merlin (that's Baltimore, Maryland to you non-locals) have no such worries.

The recent BRAC movements will bring at least an additional 20,000 new military jobs to the state. It's also estimated that 5 private sector/support roles will emerge for each military position. That's another 100,000 for all you liberal arts grads.

Bottom line - my house is a gold mine. What goes up shall not come down.

I think it may be time to lock in on a beach house before this gets really out of hand.

The Hotel Bombs in Jordan

The quickest way to get more Middle Eastern governments committed to battling Islamofascism is to keep blowing up weddings in their nicer hotels.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The FCC - A Negligent Nanny?

First off, any time it is appropriate to describe a governmental agency with the word "nanny," my libertarian instincts kick in.

Secondly, when that "Nanny" is the FCC and is charged with deciding what speech to limit, and by what process, I'm more than happy to read of their ineffectiveness and incompetence.

Here's a cheap, simple, non-bureaucratic solution - if you don't like what's coming over the airways - CHANGE THE FREAKING CHANNEL.

More Republican Pork

Aside from watching our leaders fight for the right to toruture, nothing gets my blood boiling like egregious, offensive pork. No, I don't mean bacon gone bad.

I refer here to Sen. Ted Stevens' "Bridge to Nowhere", in Ketchikan, Alaska. Apparently, he threw a hissy fit and threatened to resign the Senate if they took away funding for his bridge. After all, what's $223 million here and there? Especially when you've got an island with 80 (that's 8-zero) people on it who, well, would like a nice bridge.

Frankly, he sounds a lot like a petulant, whining child to me. And if Alaska is not embarassed to have him representing them on the national stage, well, they should be. I say he deserves a good caning.

I can do no better than Richard Cohen in today's WaPo, so I'll just quote him:
...the funding of ridiculous and unnecessary projects while the government
is deeply in debt (and guided by an economic numskull) has become so much a part
of contemporary Washington that -- the scolding John McCain notwithstanding --
it ought to be memorialized. A man feeding pigs is what I have in mind.

Look, I know that the Dems play at this game too (Sen Byrd could certainly challenge Mr. Stevens for the title of King Pork. Perhaps some Jell-O wrestling to settle it, gentlemen?) They, too, are masters at this game.

But the Republicans are supposed to be the party of good government, smaller government, and fiscal restraint. That's why I've voted ofr them the past half-decade. They own and control every conceiveable facet of the Federal machinery. It is entirely under their control to bring this thing back into line. Not only have they not done that, they have made it worse - and exponentially so.

If the Democrats could build a case for a return to good government, they've got a real shot in 2006 and 2008. After the way the GOP has managed things since 2000, it's time for a change.

And Sen. Stevens can make good on his promise to leave the Senate.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Perfect Autumn Sunday

A good mid-Atlantic autumn is nothing short of spectacular, and this one has been nothing short of that.

It was in the 80s this past Sunday, so we decided on a late-season paddle on the upper Chesapeake. We put in on Broad Creek, a hidden little boat ramp tucked in among weekend cottages and overgrown oaks and water maple. Two other cars were parked to the side, trailers behind. Clearly, this area was for those in the know.

I pushed my kayak into the water and stepped in up to my ankles. Damn! The Bay water is cold in November, no matter the weather. I stepped into the hull, slid my Tevas forward, balanced my elbows alongside the bulkhead, and lowered myself into the seat. I used my paddle to push off some rocks and moved slowly out into the creek.

We decided to take a look up the creek first before heading to open water. We were in the bottom of a ravine. The hillsides around us were a blanket of changing leaves, all red and yellow and orange and exploding like sun fire. Small cottages, weekenders, some not much more than shacks, littered the hills. Pontoon boats were either moored on floating piers or dry docked on hoists. Canoes and kayaks, abandoned for the season, lay littered about. The echoes of shotguns clambered along the valley walls; deer season had begun.

The slap and draw of our paddles in the water gave the air a meditative rhythm.

Finally, we turned and headed out to the open Chesapeake. We were near a great little historic town named Havre de Grace. Yes, it’s French, but the folks around here call it, “Haver day Grace”, pronounced phonetically. It’s the way they’ve always done it, and I guess it’s endearing.

Legend holds that General Washington passed through here on his travels from Virginia to New York, and he remarked that it was an impressive burg, situated as it was between the Chesapeake and the mouth of the mighty Susquehanna. I like it for its small, seaside town charm, its antique shops and restaurants and cozy places to enjoy a drink. Imagine a smaller, less-moneyed Annapolis. That is Havre de Grace.

The Bay opened up before us like an easy girl on prom night. (Sorry – I’m a sucker for gratuitous similes.) The heavy bay grasses of the summer were still there, though dying down. We paddled hard to fight through them and get to the open water. We had timed our trip to hit the high tide, so we were paddling into an oncoming rush of water. With each stroke of the paddle, a wave would crest over the bow of the kayak, break, and wash down along the sides. The bigger ones would break over and into the opening of the hull.

It was November, and I should have had on my spray skirt. I should have been wearing more than swim trunks and a dri-shirt and Tevas. Because that water felt damn, damn cold. But it was 83, and the sun was warm and bright.

We paddled along, and gorgeous old antebellum farms rose up on either side of us, out of the Chesapeake, on this rich loamy land. We could see horses gallop and dance, fisherman cast and tug, sailors trim and jibe and shout. The length of the Chesapeake lay out before us, bathed in the struggling light of an Indian summer, and we sat silently and watched the ripples and waves wash toward us.

Finally, as the light turned from yellow to orange to red, it was time to head back. We made a lazy turn, spun back toward the creek’s mouth, and paddled. We were quicker now in our strokes, with the light fading, the temperature clearly dropping, almost minute by minute.

As we left the Bay, and entered the creek, I turned back to see the last shimmering of the sun on the water. It was all reds and oranges now, warm, but a cool warmth. The sheer rock walls next to me were bathed in this otherworldliness, this outburst of color. I took a deep breath.

Then I turned, toward the darkening shadows of the creek. I dug my paddle into the chill waters, pulled hard, and we headed home.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Some Thoughts from the Cleveburg Sporty Pages

Nice to see Shapiro get the recognition he deserves...even if a large segment of the fans don't yet realize how fortunate they are that this man is at the helm.

Had they not gone 1-7 down the stretch, Wedgie would be right up there with him, and not Ozzie Guillen.

Kudos to Bud Shaw for finally pushing what I've been saying since Week 2 - run the damn ball!

Finally, some D. Isn't this why Ferry signed all those guys?

Hmmm....only 147 days until Opening Day!

Howard's Antics - and Corporate Idiocy

Don't the folks at Infinity realize that this just gives Howard and his move to Sirius more publicity?

Frankly, I've grown tired of Stern's incessant promotion of his new satellite channels - it's getting repetitive and boring. So I just switch the station - as many others have recently.

Torture as Policy

Frankly, I am amazed that we are even having this debate:
Should we, or should we not, make it illegal for the federal government (military, CIA, the Vice President, the First Lady, Barney, whoever) to administer "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of persons under custody or control of the United States government."

It would seem a simple answer. Of course not.

But Dark Lord Cheney is conducting a stealth campaign to keep the McCain language from moving forward.

There are so many aspects of this story that make my skin crawl. First, it is simply morally, ethically, and legally wrong. Second, from everything I've heard and read on it, it doesn't work (note the volumes of bad intelligence we've run with before - I wonder how much of that faulty testimony came under the duress of some form of torture?) Third, it absolutely decimates the perception of what America stands for abroad - especially in the Muslim world.

Richard Cohen addresses that impact in the WaPo today.

So much for a strategy of winning their hearts and minds.

Finally, in order to deflect criticisim, it has driven our President to baldly lie about it: "Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture." By "torture", I guess he deosn't mean "freezing a prisoner to death by leaving him exposed naked to freezing cold temperatures overnight."

Yes, we are at war here against some very bad people. Yes, bad things happen in a war. And, yes, individuals will and do commit atrocities - even Americans.

As a kid, I can remember a friend's grandfather describing his role in the aftermath of a WWII battle in France. They had captured two Germans. They hung them - alive - from a tree in the town center. Then, they all took turns stabbing at them with their bayonets, like kids at a pinata, until they were dead. Then, they mutilated their corpses.

I couldn't believe it. "But we're Americans," I said, sickened. "We don't do that."

"Yes, we do," he told me.

And now our President and Vice President simply want to make it official.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Where Will Theo Go?

A show of hands:

Who thinks that Peter Angelos is kicking himself now for moving so quickly to ensconce Mike Flanagan as his GM?

And how many of The Sun's terrific columnists (esp. Mr. Schmuck) now regret publicly pushing him so hard to set up his front office so soon after the season ended?

Of course, that assumes that The Boy Wonder would even consider working for The Counselor-in-Chief.

Tomorrow's News - Today!

Do you ever sometimes forget that you're reading The Onion, and think that maybe it's like The Washington Post or something?

Scary.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Troop Strength in Iraq

With all due respect to a soldier currently serving in Iraq - can this guy be serious?

His bottom line: we have enough troops there, but too many of them are too busy running 10Ks, swimming in the pool, enjoying cookouts and movies, or taking some college classes to do any real soldiering.

Whu-thu-fuh?

Statistics, Damn Statistics, and Lies

I find this interesting, in the latest USA Today/CNN Gallup poll:

"...a solid majority of Americans, 55%, now judge Bush's presidency to be a failure. "

Compare this to the first President Bush's tenure:

"..53% called it a success even though he had been defeated for re-election a year before."

And then compare to President Clinton's numbers:

"In January 1999, after he had been impeached by the House and was awaiting a Senate trial, 71% called Clinton's tenure a success. . . ."

Yikes!

Getting beat like that by a loser and a pervert!

It's enough to lead someone to drinkin...

Conspiracy and Cover Up

E. J. Dionne, in today's WaPo, probably takes more of a conspiracy turn that I typically am willing to.

However, he provides a pretty good answer to all thos punits who are questioning why someone as bright and savvy as Scooter Libby would apparently tell such whoppers to the grand jury and the FBI.

Why? To protect the President during his reelection.

And, if you buy that rationale, the cover-up worked.

Add This to My Christmas List!

Ok, I am a total nerd, but doesn't this sound great?

Especially the deleted scenes.

What can I say - I am a child of the 70s. Star Wars is etched into my DNA.
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