Saturday, June 30, 2007

Yard rat

I think I'm turning into one of those angry old men who do really manly stuff. Constant sweat stains. Grunting. Fixing things all the damn time.

Today's testosterone drenched agenda included such high adventure as:
  • Hitting the gym for a couple of hours, working shoulders and legs
  • Getting a short haircut with The Boy
  • Eating a triple Whooper for lunch
  • Mowing the yard without a shirt (likely blinding the neighbors)
  • Drilling holes and poisoning several stumps with Stump Revenge
  • Pulling up two more wheelbarrows of roots
  • Saved a baby turtle that almost found itself severed by my reciprocating saw
  • Gouging up two small stumps over by the garden
I was caked with mud. Sweat had drenched my shirt. It ran down my shorts, to my knees. I continue to have a new found appreciation for my forefathers. I'm exhausted, and I was using POWERTOOLS!

By the end of the summer, I'll be a card-carrying yard rat.

Friday, June 29, 2007


To keep the billions and billions flowing into the military-security warchests, the scamiticians have to continually stoke the ever-cooling fires of our fear. Couple of quick examples: shoebomber on a plane, liquid bombers planning on going on planes, and today's truck bombers in Central London.

But here is the thing: We always remember the initial violently over-done reports of the fearmongery and frequently we're happy to give up a little more of our freedom in order to prevent such problems from happening again, but NOBODY ever keeps on eye on developments once the truth beings to float to the surface.

Case in point: The unsuccessful shoebomber. This kook caused a wave panic throughout America which continues to cling to our security practices to this day. We happily take off our shoes and throw away a little piece of our person freedom. But nobody realizes the "bombs" had no chance of bringing down the plain. Certainly people would have been injured, possibly even killed, but the plane would not have been crippled. Do we sheeple try to take back our freedom? No. We smile and walk around in our socks.

Case in point: The unsuccessful liquid bomb plot. Europe or English intelligence reportedly caught this "terrorist cell" before they could smuggle their chemicals on board and mix them together to create some level of explosion. Again, a wave of panic sweeps through America and continues to linger with no expiration date. We can't take liquids through the "check points," now. Not on our person, and only a prescribed amount inside our carry-on luggage. Does anybody care to mention the "terrorists" were released and never went to trial because of lack of evidence? Does anymore breath a sigh of relief? Does anybody reclaim our forfeited freedoms? No. We suffer through the delays. We waste our time in un-needed lines. We employ a legion of "security agents," to prevent the most unlikely events.

And now the scamiticians are going to find some way to spin the Central London Bombs three ways:
  1. Try convince the American sheeple that a Republican President in 2008 will be able to prevent "terrorists" from setting of such bombs in our own backyard.
  2. Funnel more money into the military-security machine, to prevent "terrorists" from being able to get such bomb trucks into critical locations around the country.
  3. Find a way to further erode our remaining civil liberties, in order to prevent "terrorists" from having the freedom to park terror vans in front of our daycares. (Perhaps we need to criminalize large vehicle, with the exception of gas-gulp SUVs.)
Our elected officials are unable to please us by actually living up to their promises, but they can easily scare us into obedience.

Watch for fresh fearmongery on the horizon.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tipping point

I often wonder if I am watching history reach a tipping point. Some of the items that caught my eye today:
  • Iran has started rationing gasoline. Now they have riots. The country is loaded with oil, but it is short on refining facilities. I'd suggest they are taking the embarrassing move and risking the social fallout because they are preparing for a siege on their resources. Siege? Yes, an attack on their country. Can't imagine who would be contemplating attacking Iran!
  • Russia test fired a sea based balistic missile.
  • North Korea test fired short range missiles.
  • The Bald Eagle is no longer on the endangered species list!
  • Scamiticians again defeated an immigration bill. I have hopes it is a fell blow for the current administration, though it is only small hopes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

10 Things I Don't Want To Hear About Benoit

  1. I don't want to hear any tributes to Benoit: The man killed his wife. The man killed his son. Anyone gonna give OJ Simpson a tribute when he dies?

  2. I don't want to hear about the steroids: Does anybody possibly think they are telling me something new by mentioning this muscled-up tree stump of a man and steroids in the same sentence? Come on! The guy was 5'10", 40yrs old, and 235 pounds of pure muscle. It is a given that he was slamming the juice on an hourly basis. I would actually be surprised if they found more blood in his system and LESS STEROIDS!

  3. I don't want to hear about 'roid rage: Can I talk about the man's profession for a moment? He made a living beating the brains out other full grown men. He was a full time brawler. His to do list at work included: "punch my opponent in the mouth, kick my opponent in the teeth, choke my opponent until loss of blood to the brain causes him to lose consciousness, and don't forget to slice my forehead open with a concealed razor blade so we can add some exciting blood to the scene."Violence was this man's job! Of course he committed heinous acts of carnage against his family. He's been getting PAID TO DO IT to everyone else for decades!

  4. I don't want to hear about his nicknames: I should be shocked that he was called, "The Crippler" and "the Rabid Wolverine?" Wrestlers don't have peaceful, thought provoking names, like "The Nietzsche Fanatic," or "Mr. Primrose." Their names evoke fear and awe. Sure, sure. It is sooo easy to link his nickname to the crimes he committed. However if he had died of a heart attack or fell to his death, nobody would have made any such connection.

  5. I don't want to hear about his son's disabilities: I know many parents whose children have disabilities. None of them would ever kill their child as a result. To even suggest such a link is an insult to parents of disabled children everywhere who struggle day after day to provide a good life for their children, even in the face of severe adversity.

  6. I don't want to hear about his wife's claims that he was violent: If the man was violent, she should have left him. End of story.

  7. I don't want to hear anything other wrestlers say about Benoit's work ethic: See #1. I don't care if he was the Patron Saint Of Work Ethic. The man murdered two innocent human beings. All the other wrestles that ever came into contact with him should have made formed a long angry line and took turns pissing on pictures of him.

  8. I don't want to hear anything Vince McMahon says about the issue: Vince is going to do anything and everything to spin this into an increased profit margin or diminish the loss on the company's stock price. If Vince isn't in the line of people waiting to make water on The Snaggle-Toothed Wolverine's picture, then he should keep his trap shut.

  9. I don't want to hear what Linda McMahon says about the issue: Could ANYTHING she have to say be relevant? See #8, it is just a marketing ploy to stop the deluge of negative press the WWE is receiving. Shut up, Linda, and make me a margarita.

  10. I don't want to hear anything from Canada: Oh! NOW they're silent. Yesterday it was, "See how much Mike Moore likes us, eh? We got us some good healthcare, eh? That's what we're aboot." As long as Canada keeps its trap shut, nobody else gets hurt.
Here is my press coverage of the event: Coward and former pro-wrestler Chris Benoit took the life of his innocent wife and son shortly before taking his own. The WWE condemned the actions of their former employee. Benoit's family condemned the actions of their former son. Lucifer was quoted as saying, "I have a nice eternity of painful monkey-wrench-style sodomy and constant agonizing evisceration waiting for Mr. Benoit, once we've completed his paperwork and he's made it through customs."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sweat pit

Back in the gym. I knew strange things were afoot when the air cut off during the first five minutes of pilates. By the end, my mat had a wet outline where I had been doing crunches.

By the time I finished working my chest and triceps, I had a rather bib-like sweat ring descending down the front of my shirt.

By the time I ran 3.5 miles, I was drenched. It looked like I'd fallen in a swimming pool. My shirt didn't have a dry inch on it. My shorts soaked down to below the pockets.

As Mom would have said: I was a walking sweat pit.

All in a hard day's work.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Secret: The true burden of our debt

Here's something neither politcal "party" wants you to know: America is in unbelievably. deeply in debt. If the debt were spread out equally among all our citizens it would be $161,287 per man, woman and child - - or $645,148 per family of 4, for a grand total of forty eight trillion dollars. ($48,000,000,000,000!!)

What our elected officials will confess to is a debt of $8 trillion and some change. That is commonly called Total America Debt and is defined as the sum of all recognized debt of federal, state & local governments, international, private households, business and domestic financial sectors, including federal debt to trust funds. But it excludes the un-funded liabilities such as social security, government pensions and Medicare.

If you included the liabilities (or the ones we can foresee) total debt in America becomes $48 trillion. See the image above for a breakdown of un-funded liabilities and their cost per household.

And if you want to lose even more sleep, realize that nobody is predicting the long term cost of our wounded troops (34,650 as if 05/19/07) returning from Iraq. There may be medical bills for each of them for years or decades to come. And nobody has begun to even estimate the size of the bill for that.

The Republicans do not want to tell you the true depth of our debt because they know it will add even more fuel to the fire and accelerate the downward spiral of Bush's popularity numbers. And god-forbid somebody wake up and realize we've spent $438B (BILLION!) in Iraq.
(For the curious, the money we've spent on Iraq could have sent 21,000,000 kids to college for four years. The money we've spent on Iraq could have hired 7,000,000 more school teachers. The money we've spent on Iraq could have sent 58,000,000 children to fully funded Head Start programs. The money we've spent on Iraq could have built 4,000,000 homes for American citizens. Instead it bought us: 3600 dead men and women in the armed forces, almost 35,000 wounded men and women in the armed forces, and as many as 72000 dead Iraq citizens. But on the good side, Halliburton's stock has gone from $8.94 in July, ‘02 to a recent high of $37.93.)

The Democrats do not want to tell you the true depth of our debt cause they know the first items that will be cut in order to (shudder) balance the budget will be social programs and minority spending. Both of which will have negative results on their popularity.

So we are spoon fed lies by both sides. Our elected officials are sitting in office spending and spending and spending as quickly as they possibly can, knowing the burden of the debt doesn't fall on THEIR shoulders. It will be our burden to bear. And our children. And our grand children.

It is easy to spend somebody else's money. But who bears the budren of that debt?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Flesh Is Weak

After four hours of digging and sawing and prying and slicing, I was exhausted. Drenched in layers of earth and sweat and venom. Weary beyond belief. And it was just yardwork. Honest, ardous work. With my hands and my back. Man against nature. I'm not sure who won.

I can only imagine how tough my forefathers had to be. They spent days and weeks at a stretch, clearing farmland or leveling a foundation. I had a recipricating saw, machete, shears, rake, and the ever-handy fubar. They did it without power tools. Without Gatorade. And probably little more than a single long handled axe and a knife.

My sweat bought me a couple of projects: one less dead bush behind the deck, two entire trashcans of bamboo roots hauled to the alley, three old shrubs cleared along side the fence, replaced two missing pickets, dug up a small stump, and muscled up three wheel barrows full of roots from either old stumps or the few remaining ones. I still have about a third of the fence to do. The extension cord wasn't long enough and I ran out of daylight before I could do more.

But I learned that nature does nothing lightly. I'm two hundred pounds and I could barely budge some of the long, gangly roots. No idea how old they were. Many could have outdated me. But I cut them up with the saw, sliced into them with the machete, or pulverized them with the fubar. And in the end, I was pretty much useless for the rest of the night. But it felt good. Felt GREAT. Working with my hands. Cutting lose my pent up frustrations. It bordered on cathartic. Natural therapy. And a harder workout than most I get from the gym.

Those old homesteaders had to be made of stone. My flesh is obviously weak.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

On the fence

I didn't get to go to the gym. Gigi tricked me into babysitting my niece, Alice, while Gigi ran to the store for a while. By the time I was freed from the extra responsibility, the child care at World Gym was closed.

But I made the most of what I had left.

A couple of weeks (probably MONTHS!) ago I cut down a section of our fence, by the garage. My intent was to make a long gate that would allow direct access to the backyard. While I was proud of my efforts (especially considering it was completely unplanned and entirely free-styled) my creativity greatly outweighed my experience. I ended up with a twelve foot wooden gate that was so heavy that I was the only one who could move it. And the ended end nearly gouged a rut in the earth with only a few weeks of use.

To make the gate more practical, I split it in half and hinged both ends. Now it opens in the middle, doesn't carve up the yard as much, and anyone can swing it open. The original post which bore all the weight of the twelve foot gate still leans a bit. I can't straighten it, so there a bit of trickery involved in securing it for the night. But over all, I'm much happier with it. And it gave me an excuse to use the power tools. Liam helped hold the frame. Meg helped hold the boards while I cut them. And everyone behaved.

I also managed to seed the bare patches in the front yard, and walk the grounds with a bag of ant poison, killing any mounds that I could find. And, of course, Meg watered the corn.

All in a hard days work.

Friday, June 22, 2007


When the Space Shuttle Challenger stained the skies of Florida, I was in ninth grade, eating lunch. A peperoni pizza from Domino's. The shuttle had only been in the air for 73 seconds (a prime number) and we were so acustomed to NASA's flawless launches that we weren't even watching the initial launch. But we watched the reply. Over. And over. Dozens of us huddled in the hallway, wide-eyed. Numbly trying to grasp the magnitude of the disaster. The weight of those astronaut's deaths lowing onto our shoulders like a slow, grim cloud. For my generation, it was JFK's brains strewn across the horizon. A crisp, lucid momen. Forever lodged in my mental craw.

When the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over the long fields of Texas, Cindy was getting Meg up from a nap. Our daughter wasn't even a year old. Liam wasn't even three. But when the smouldering debris started to rain down through the mid-day clouds, I called him to see the report. And we all watched the events unfold. Watched in silence as the NASA and the American people and the world again came to grips with another tragedy. Witnessed more of our best and brightest being erased from the face of the earth.

When the Space Shuttle Discovery landed today, Keith and I breathed a sigh of relief. We were watching it in his office, on the big screen. And when its wheels kissed the tarmac and that great white brick slowed to a stop, we quietly cheered.

It doesn't matter what I think about NASA's misplaced budget. Or how it pains me to see children who no longer want to grow up to be an astronaut. What matters is that they came home. They were safe. Their families could breathe a little easier. And the nation could go to sleep knowing they had lived to see another day. Touchdown.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

RIP: Bob Evans

Wow. Small, amazing universe. I was reviewing my old notes and looking up an image for my entry on 04/07/8, when I came across this:
"Bob Evans passed away on Thursday, June 21, 2007. "

That's today. I just looked over my notes about his diner. And he just died. Today!

Well. Rest in peace, Bob. I really enjoyed your restaurant. The cooks would have made you proud. The waitresses would have made you proud, too. You left us with a fine heartland tradation. Long may they reign.


"You were much smaller last year, Jon," Lam said.


"I was setting up a camcorder last year, and had some video of you at your desk. You were a lot smaller back then."

Ouch. Not something you're expecting to hear every day. And nothing you like to have repeated.

So I watched the video. And Lam was right. My face looked thinner. And I was actually smiling. Maybe I had shaved that morning. Maybe a trick of the light or the angle. But I was smaller.

And now I have this voice in the back of my head. "Shouldn't you be eating more salad and less pizza?" But I like pizza! "Shouldn't you do some more cardio today?" But I hate running! "Maybe a smaller piece of pie?" I LIKE PIE!


I like pie.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cage Fighting Fundamentals

Sun Tzu wrote: "the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him."

At today's sparing practice, Liam imposed his will on not one, not two, not three, but four enemies. And he beat each of them.

This past weekend I told him the other kids had only one tactic: throw the first kick. During each of the previous matches, the winner was determined by who could raise his leg first, beat the other kid before he could do the same. There was no skill. No finesse.

Liam may not have been able to outkick all of the other kids, but I knew he could outsmart them. I knew he could control the fight. Force the enemy into unfamiliar territory. He could turn the tide in his favor.

The other kids are used to a kicking match. They're expecting it. And we practiced doing the unexpected. Over and over I'd yell, "Fight!" and Liam would immediately jump to his right, dodging the inevitable first kick, then cut lose with a series of punches and a final kick. We kept practicing and talking about making the opponent fight OUR FIGHT. Cutting to the right (the enemy's left) and not giving the opponent the time to adapt to the situation. Break the pattern. Impose our will.

The first match was against Tanner. I was hoping Liam would start with someone easier. Tanner had won his first two matches. He was small and quick. But Liam stuck to the plan. He dodged every one of Tanner's kicks and then stepped in close and at least one of his punches would find their mark. Much to everyone else's surprise, Liam won the match. And he did it without losing a single point.

The second match was against an older kid. Taller than Liam. With a much longer reach. But the outcome was the same. Liam lost a point, but the other kid couldn't adapt to the new style. He couldn't do anything other than launch the first kick and hope it landed. If it did, Liam usually blocked it. And sometimes the kid blocked Liam's punches. But in the end, Liam kept imposing his will, and won another victory.

The third match was interesting. The boy was smaller than Liam, and he wore glasses. Either he didn't know how to kick, or he'd been watching Liam's style, because they quickly got into a punching matching. Fortunately we'd been practicing combinations. And the third round was mostly a series of Liam throwing punch - punch - shin kick. And the smaller boy went to the back of the line, with Liam staying in the winner's circle.

The final match was against a much bigger boy. He easily had twenty pounds on Liam. I'd watched this kid's first fight and knew he had a trip-hammer for a leg and lots of power behind his kicks. Liam, however, was high on his success and had gotten used to the recent punching match. The instructor yelled, "Fight!" and Liam took a kick right in the jaw. It knocked him on his ass but cost the other kid a point (you can't strike near the face.) When Liam got up, I could see the tears welling in his eyes. He'd lost his edge. Had let the enemy impose a new will. I figured the end was a foregone conclusion. I figured wrong. Liam wasn't sad. He was angry. He was mad that the other kid had kicked him. And when the instructor yelled, "Fight!" Liam was on the kid like fat on a pig. He lunged inside the kid's guard and cut loose. The first time it happened, the bigger boy had to retreat, and stepped out of bounds. The second time, Liam scored. It was 3 to 0, in Liam's favor, when the class ran out of time.

He hadn't been beaten. He won all four matches. He wasn't the strongest, or the fastest. But he imposed his will. And stuck to the plan. Sun Tzu and I could not have been prouder of my son.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The illusion of immigration reform

I'm going to share a secret: Exactly none of our elected officials in Washington want to do anything about immigration and exactly none of our elected officals in Washington plan to do anything about immigration.

Exhibit A: The Republicans are not going to offend their financial masters in Big Business. If the pool of cheap, uneducated, uninsured, un-demanding labor were to vanish, Big Business would have to pay decent wages, provide decent benifits, and pay taxes to employ legal citizens. And trust me, SOMEBODY will fill any and every job out there. The universe abhors a vacuum. And Big Business abhors anything that affects their profits. So the GOP isn't going to make any serious movement toward real reform.

Exhibit B: The Democrats are not going to offend potential minority voters. They believe it was the minorities that got them elected (because the wealthy are usually voting along GOP lines) so if the Democrats do anything to impede the flow of more and more foreign immigrants, then they'll offend their voter base and not get elected for another term. So the Democrats are not going to make any serious movement toward real reform.

Exhibit C: Perhaps I'm the only one who remembers this, but WE HAVE IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW! They aren't being enforced. WE HAVE IMMIGRATION OFFICERS NOW! They aren't being staffed properly. None of our elected officials are funding or supporting the policies and procedures we have in place right now. So why would they do anything differently in the future?

The secret? They're humoring the voters. They are going through the motions to make it appear as if they are seriously going to resolve the problem. They point fingers at the other side. They thump their chest and decry their plan to be the best for the nation. They cast blame when nobody does anything. But they are doing something, they are playing both sides against the middle. But like a gang of rats on an ungodly huge treadmill, for all their running and panting, they end up going nowhere.

If our elected officials were truly interested in immigration reform, we could fund and build the biggest and most heavily guarded border the world has ever seen. We could seed a mine-filled DMZ the likes of which would make the Koreans piss themselves. We could surveill every inch of it ever second of the day with modern security systems. We could conduct military training for every branch of the armed services on the border: snipers, air strikes, special forces, coastal fire support.

Across the top: "Abandon all hope yee who enter here!"

But, we don't. At least our elected officials don't. They put on their top hats, whip out their magic wand, and prestidigitate their flimsy illusion of immigration reform. As long as they keep promising and never deliver, we'll keep electing them in the hopes that one day the rabbit comes out of the hat. They know that. So they all, Democrat and Republican alike, perpetuate the political stage show, and we never question the secret of the magicians' tricks.

Bring fresh pants

So GlaxoSmithKline released a new cure for something we don't really need cured. Oprah and her raving horde of sheeple are going to have it flying off the shelves shortly. A new drug called: Alli. It is supposedly yadda yadda the first over-the-counter diet pill yadda yadda approved after years of study yadda yadda by the FDA. Insert the rest of your typical brainwashing about how this pill is what you need to fix all your problems and you really need this thing to put you on par with the rest of the civilized world because you're rapidly losing ground and it will get much worse for you if you don't get a mouth full RIIIIIIIGHT NOW!

Couple of things I'd like to point out:
1: These days you can't even trust over-the-counter TOOTHPASTE in this country. Yet we should trust some new wonderpill that is supposed to make you into a less-orphan-owning, non-depressed-because-of-your-abusive-Pappy, less-rich, far-less tattooed version of Angelina Joli? 2:One of the known (note: KNOWN!) side effects is *drumroll* anal leakage.
3:It isn't a weight loss pill. It is a fat-blocking pill. Supposedly, it prevents your body from absorbing a certain amount of fat.
4:Did I mention anal leakage?
5:You could save time and money by just NOT INGESTING FATTY FOODS, rather than trying to block the fat. But here in the Land of the Free and the Home Of The Obese, it is far easier to just avoid a low-fat, reduced calorie diet and skip exercise than it is to pop a pill.
6:Two words: ANAL LEAKAGE!

Am I the only one who remembers Vioxx? (The FDA approved that.) How about Colchicine? (FDA approved.) The animal drug ProHeart? (Again, FDA approved.) And need I mention the rise and fall of "Fen-Phen" (Phentermine) that left its producer about $2.35B (billion!) lighter after the lawsuits? So I hope you'll forgive my lack of enthusiasm whenever something is said to be "FDA approved."
It might as well say, "Idiot Approved, For Idiots, By Idiots."

So, who wins here? The fast food industry wins, because consumers are free to continue the habits that have made them fat in the first place. The Big Pharma industry wins because they can convince some significant percentage of the population that a pill will fix all their woes. And the pants industry wins because people will be uncontrollably drowning their pants in microsquirts since their stomachs aren't absorbing all the fat from their scattered covered and smothered triple crabby patties.

My advice? Reduce your own fat intake. Reduce your caloric intake. And exercise. Take the money you WOULD have spent on Alli and pants, and buy yourself a membership to a gym. You and your anus will thank me. I promise.