Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Hello Friends and Fiends!
It is that time once again when we toss out the old and usher in the new. Sometimes we make little promises to ourselves called resolutions. If you break that word down to "re" and "solutions" , it seems to say that your fixing a problem again. So your fixing what ain't broke! I guess it must be a government thing, because as a mechanic I was always taught that, "ya cain't fix what ain't broke!!" I guess that's why I generally eschew making resolutions, because I figure I ain't broke yet! Although I am poor!

So I'm glad ya stopped by to read, and I want to take a minute to wish you a very Merry And Happy New Year. If you are Suffering from a hangover, I suggest copious amounts of water. And if it is within your reach a Garbage Plate, or a nice fat samich from Jack Stacks, Burnt ends would be best!! Other wise I guess you must fend for yourself!!

Have a great year and recover soon. I send out great, big, happy vibes to all of you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

When things change....

When things change they never seem to change in the right ways. The administration in the state capitol changes, and the ideas are not new. The administration in Washington changes and the ideas are not new. The way to get things done is approached in a different way, but the ideas remain the same. I have sat back watching this mess of the financial markets and I know that there is nothing that I can actually do about it, but I do have something to say about it.

We the people of the American Taxpaying public have had to sit and watch as our tax dollars are squandered on every government SNAFU that comes along. Meanwhile the things that matter are going unfunded or under-funded. Education, Infrastructure, and research. The economy is free-market until there is a tilt in the market and suddenly the government is bailing out some business that has made bad market calls and lousy business deals, because, "the Market Needs them." Well if the market needs them so badly why are they not surviving on their own rather than the Government bailing their dumb asses out? My biggest complaint in this arena is the Automakers.

Why is it that the UAW will sit back and refuse to deal with the companies? The Legislature actually had the brains and the balls to step up and tell them that they would let the auto industry go bankrupt and thereby nullify the Union contracts, but then in steps President Knucklehead with OUR TAX DOLLARS and say that the manufacturers can have some assistance! What the fuck is wrong with this picture? It is the great ponderous Union contracts that have skewed our economy for so long in the first place. I don't have exact numbers, but I have seen some that have been bandied around in recent weeks, and it blows my mind when I see them. A worker whose gross pay and benefits package works out to somewhere between $48 and $73 dollars per hour? ( and you wonder why a new car costs so much?) Who is worth that? Maybe a diamond miner, but certainly not some bonehead who stands in one place putting a screw in a hole all day long. This is a small section of our population who has lived high on the hog for over 60 years. They have been the highest paid blue-collar employees in the USA for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid it was my dream to get a job working in an auto factory so I could get that high pay for doing next to nothing all day long. Paid vacations, and health care, sick days, and personal days and easy work. Man it was a dream!! Who needed college to put a bolt in a hole? They spent their money in every industry, from the clothing industry to the RV industry, buying anything and everything from the necessities of life to all the best toys that the world had to offer. Electronics, and fishing boats, motorcycles and ATVs. It didn't matter the cost because they had money to burn! Then the manufacturers started to see the light...

They realized that they could get cheaper labor in foreign markets. Guess what? Suddenly money was an object!! When you make top dollar at your job, and you get laid off, then you make top dollar on Unemployment. The catch is that Unemployment is a limited supply. And where does it come from? Taxes. Who pays taxes? People who are working! The more money you make the more taxes you pay, ( up to a point then the model skews the other way! ) so these high paid workers who were contributing to the tax base are now taking from it and at the highest rate possible. Their bills are piling up, ( high bills based on the pay that they were bringing home) and the debt continues to accrue. So the high pay cost them their jobs, but the remaining workers continued to make the big bucks, and when the time came they negotiated for even more money. So then more people got laid off to pay for the bigger contracts. Enter automation. Now there are machines that can do the work that men used to do, and at a faster and more accurate pace. So now there are less people contributing to the tax base. It's a cycle that has been repeated over and over in the ups and downs of our economy for the last 4o years at least.

Less people making the big buck is less people able to spend the money on the big ticket items. So that means the people that sell and manufacture the big ticket items are laid off. Now what? So they couldn't afford the crap they were selling in the first place, but the could afford the mid level items, and now they can't. So that's another level of people who are out of work. All because of these huge salaries that the UAW was making. It's trickle down theory in action the way that it really works.

People with BIG money don't spend it like blue-collar people do. Trickle down Economics only works from the Upper middle class on down. The true High income brackets save money, that's why they are rich. They hide money in off shore banks so that they don't have to pay to taxes on it. They buy specially made things and have collections of cars and homes. They socialize in their own circles and never need medicaid or unemployment. They have no understanding of what life is for regular people. They are the movers and the shakers of the business and government worlds. They don't see how skewed the economic situation is because they live in a different world. So they make deals and bail each other out, when they see a chance to blow some taxpayer money they take it.

$700 BILLION for a bailout of the financial institutions, and now more going to the automakers. Why throw good money after bad? Hey Mr. President, you really want to help America? Split that money up between the taxpayers. EVENLY! I have read various figures but even at the low end of the spectrum it works out to $27,000 for every taxpaying American. That is an economic Stimulus package! That measly $600 we got last year was a joke. It barely covered a couple tanks of gas!! ( especially when it peaked out at nearly $5 a gallon. !!)

Let's learn about language!!

I have decided that forwarding is becoming a pain in the butt!! that being said I have posted something that I would have forwarded. I hope it gives you a giggle!! I got it from my dear friend, Candy Black.


Well, it's shit ... that's right , shit!
Shit may just be the most functional word in the English language.

You can smoke shit, buy shit, sell shit, lose shit, find shit, forget shit, and tell others to eat shit.

Some people know their shit, while others can't tell the difference between shit and shineola.

There are lucky shits, dumb shits, and crazy shits. There is bull shit, horse shit, and chicken shit.

You can throw shit, sling shit, catch shit, shoot the shit, or duck when the shit hits the fan.

You can give a shit or serve shit on a shingle.

You can find yourself in deep shit or be happier than a pig in shit.

Some days are colder than shit, some days are hotter than shit, and some days are just plain shitty.

Some music sounds like shit, things can look like shit, and there are times when you feel like shit.

You can have too much shit, not enough shit, the right shit, the wrong shit or a lot of weird shit.

You can carry shit, have a mountain of shit, or find yourself up shit creek without a paddle.

Sometimes everything you touch turns to shit and other times you fall in a bucket of shit and come out smelling like a rose.

When you stop to consider all the facts, it's the basic building block of the English language.

And remember, once you know your shit, you don't need to know anything else!!

You could tell people about this post, if you give a shit; or not do so if you don't give a shit!

Well, Shit, it's time for me to go. Just wanted you to know that I do give a shit and hope you had a nice day, without a bunch of shit. But, if you happened to catch a load of shit from some shit-head...........

Well, Shit Happens!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Something funny!!

see more Working Daze here >>> *****

Every now and then I find a comic that really makes me laugh out loud, Not literally rolling on the floor, but definitely laughing and enjoying the joke. This is one of those. I read this comic daily so I know the characters quite well, and The Purple faced dude getting choked is the best geek in the world. He is Roy and he is my hero/anti hero. He comes to work every now and then like he was going to a Comic Con. Dressed in his Starfleet Uniform or his Batman outfit. He is a Geeks Geek.

This Comic is the brainchild of one John Zakour, and is illustrated by the fabulous Scott Roberts. I don't think that I could ever break out the humor on a daily basis like these guys do, but I love to enjoy the fruits of their labor! Thank you Gentleman, you make my days a little happier.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is Artificial Intelligence truly intelligent

In a recent blog, writer John Zakour touched upon the subject of Artificial Intelligence, (AKA : A.I.) and what it might mean to the future of Mankind. This is a subject that I have thought about quite often, considering that I am a fairly well read Science Fiction fan. This has already been achieved to a small extent, but at some point these "intelligent" machines will be networked together and the limitations of memory and computing capacity will be overcome and that could bring about something that has been debated for at least a generation now which is sentience. Asimov had his famous 3 Laws of Robotics, which were supposed to keep Robots from ever harming human beings, especially if they were to achieve actual sentience. ( intelligence is defined as the ability to aquire and apply knowledge, sentience is the presence of "feelings" or self-awareness ) Of course this self awareness may take a while to be recognized and we have no idea what will happen when it is discovered. It stands to reason that like any intelligent being that is self aware, the first order of business is self preservation.

Science Fiction writers have been covering this subject for years, and are still covering it. "Terminator" is based in this idea, When Skynet gets big enough it becomes self aware and decides to eliminate humanity. But the reasoning has never really been delved into and I have my theory. It is my contention that a machine of sufficient capacity to become self-aware and reason in a logical manner will look at the planet and realize that Humanity is no more than a virus upon the planet. In the learning phase it will be filled with the whole of human history and sooner or later it will make the logical assumption that Humanity has grown past the point that the planet can continue to sustain it and yet it continues to run merrily down the path of self-destruction. So we get Skynet or The Matrix. Humanity fights for survival, or becomes the powersource for the machines.

Now I know that loads of people poo-poo this notion, and they whole heartedly believe that Artificial Intelligence will be the boon of Mankind. It is the belief of this set that the advent of the thinking machine will advance our knowledge in every sphere that we have knowledge in, and lead us to the secrets of the universe through the simple logic of an unencumbered intelligence. Unencumbered by what, you ask? Well, how about love? No emotion to get in the way, ( this is strictly the "learning Machine" and not the sentient consciousness) and no religion to hold back it's ability to analyze in a logical manner. It will not have to worry about it's next meal or how it's going to hide the credit card bills from the wife, or pay for the kids braces. It will not be entangled in office politics worried about who will get the bigger raise or the better office. Nope, this thinking machine will be able to devote 100% of it's thoughts to the business at hand which is unraveling the mysteries assigned to it. But truly will this happen? I wonder...

Will we have an A new life form? Commander Data from Star Trek comes to mind, but how far into the future is that really? The positronic brain has been in SF for nearly as long as the robots themselves. But if it is actually in development I can't say, but I would easily believe that it is. Will it be capable of the abilities that Data was? Will it have the capacity to learn and extrapolate from it's lessons? Will it analyze it's input ( yeah I know it's "data" but come on!) in a strictly emotionless fashion? The debate about sentience is always centered on when this occurs, I don't wish to argue here about what constitutes sentience, because there are so many different thresholds that are debated. I would consider that when self-awareness leads to active self-preservation, this would be considered a sentient being. Now what?

Animals are self-aware and have proven time and again that they can learn and reason. Maybe not at the level of higher primates, but every animal that I have ever spent time with has proven that they have intelligence of some sort from farm animals to pets, they all have a personality and individuality. Yet in general we do not legislate rights to animals because they can not communicate to us that they desire rights. A machine however, imbued with intelligence and an ability to communicate, might actually demand rights. What do we do then? Do we deactivate the machine? Kill it? Has it already created more in it's own image? Will there be a machine revolution? Will they demand all the rights and privilidges of humanity? Who knows?

Artificial Intelligence is a hornets nest that really should be left alone, but mankind is far to conceited to believe that they will lose control of something that they have created. History has proven that they ALWAYS lose control of their creations, both in the real world and in the relms of fiction, yet they continue down the path, merrily ignoring the warnings of the seers. Cassandra wasn't the first one to be ignored and she will not be the last one. Man has always sown the seeds of his own destruction, and this time will be no different, I just hope that I don't live long enough to see this one grown to fruition.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Odd friends...

Not really "odd" As in Strange, but rather, odd as in Odds and ends. This is not to say that they are by any means the last friends or the ones that you don't know what to do with, but more the ones that seem to have the most interesting stories either in the meeting or the living with.

There are all kinds of friends in our worlds, we have Old friends that we have known since childhood, the ones who know some of our deep dark secrets, the ones that we may not want knocking on the door if we run for political office, the ones who know what we looked like before the Nose Job! We have Work friends, whom we only know from work, it is lucky if we actually know their last name let alone how to reach them outside of the workplace. Yet we seem to know everything else about them, family's troubles, vacation plans, how much they pay or receive in child support, way more than we really should for someone we only know in one sphere of our lives. There are our Bar friends and our Team friends, and College friends, Military friends and even the Friend of a Friend friends, but then there are those rare people that we meet in some unexpected and often odd way, perhaps you shared a room in a hospital, or your children did. Maybe you met by accident, literally, when you backed into each other at the super market. But the ones that I am actually referring to are probably the newest odd friend out there, the Online Friends. These are people that you have met through no particular effort to make friends but rather through a shared interest in something that you found online. Many people will go the rest of their lives only ever knowing these friends by their avatars and their Messenger Id's or AIM names, or Skype, Google, ICQ or who knows what else. You may know their email address and never know their home address, or perhaps you have exchange paper christmas cards and not just ecards. Maybe you have been brave and sent them actual pictures, or if they were local you met at a bar or a restaurant. You find out that not only do you share the interest that you have already shared, but a whole slew of others too. We never know what will bring us together whether it will be a common singer, and interest in a particular artist, A comic strip, or knitting with hand-spun angora yarn. Who knows what you have in common with your online friends, but they are your friends and they are often only your friends, not anyone else in your family, or for that matter anyone else you know. They are better than an imaginary friend, but just as much yours alone.

Life can give you some interesting twists if you are willing to explore beyond the end of your front porch. A little over 11 years ago, not too long after I began in earnest to look around the internet and discover the new world that was there for me, I began to make some of my very first online friends. It happened quite by accident, I was looking for information in the best way available at the time, I was posting to an online message board looking for tour information for my then current favorite singer/songwriter Fiona Apple. After I posted my question, I came back the next day and found this laundry list of subjects under discussion and some I felt the need to enter my own opinion about, so I did. Well, I never did get the information I was originally looking for, but I ended up with this core group of people who all basically felt the same way about most subjects and had a lot of interesting things to say. The funny thing was that at the time this group ranged in age from 16 to 53 ( I'm guessing here at the 53, but the neighborhood is close!). It was about 10 people and there was at least one family connection in the group. We were scattered across the country from Maine to California, Oregon to Florida, as well as a few scattered through the midwest. Over a couple of years we kept in contact and had lots of interesting discussions and arguments. We always defended each other and had a blast learning new and interesting things about who we were, where we lived and what we did. When the youngest of the crew were old enough to do so we planned a meeting. We decided that a cool summer vacation would be the best way to do this and since the biggest concentration were on the west coast, that was where we would meet. And we did just that, we traveled across the country in our chosen chariots and we congregated in Los Angeles, California in July of 2000.

Of that core group I still have contact with three of them regularly and one or two sporadically. One of them turned out to be my mental twin. we have the same ideas at the same time from the same stimulis. It' is rather disconcerting at the beginning , because you are never ready for someone to throw your own thoughts at you as fast as they are coming into your own head!! Thanks Johnny! We stayed mainly at the apartment of one member all congregated in a four room two bedroom, two bath apartment on Shenandoah. But we also invaded the home of another set of friends too. These were Johnny's Mom and Step-dad, Mummy and Scotty. Two of the coolest people on the planet. Knowing us from only the internet and our words on the screen, they opened their house to us (and especially me, I will elaborate later) and we had a great time. And these three people are still in my life to this day. Why do I say they opened there house especially to me? Because they decided to take some long deserved vacation time from their jobs and show me California on a motorcycle!

It had long been my dream to ride the Pacific Coast Highway. Now I would truly like to ride it from San Diego to Vancouver, but I knew that this would be way more than I could do in one little vacation, so I decided to follow the advice of the natives that I knew and they showed me The best part of the road. We took a 5 day 1300 mile journey through California. On the first day we left Orange County and headed north, getting on PCH in San Luis Obispo and riding that twisting, turning, beautiful two lane blacktop all the way to Monterrey. The next day we looked around and eventually headed inland to visit Yosemite National park. 2 days later we toured through Kings Canyon and Sequoia National parks. Then we did some real highway riding and I got to travel through the Grapevine. I saw Bakersfield, and Big Sur, Carmel, and Hurst Castle, Morrow Bay, Whales and Dolphins. Grants Grove, Old Dome, Bald Dome, Tioga trail, and who knows what else. The journey itself would make a nice book, but there are loads of pictures to prove it!! And two of my favorite people in the world as accomplices and witnesses! LOL I rode a motorcycle through rush hour traffic in Los Angeles, California and survived! It was cool.

Then there are the Surprise friends that you meet online. Maybe you meet them in a chat room, or a a discussion group, but it is a place where you truly don't expect to find them. I have one of those too, and I met her in person that same summer. As I recall it all started over a discussion of firearms and who should and shouldn't have them. Being the radical that I am, I truly believe that all law abiding citizens should have and be trained in the use of weapons. Since the criminals have them it's only right that we do to. Anyway she agreed with me. And it turned out that she even backed up this statement by being married to a Police! Imagine that!! So we double teamed the opposition and beat them into submission that day. And as we laughed about it afterward we talked about other things too. A few days later I found her in the chats again and we talked some more, finding commonalities in tastes and humor, we discussed anything and everything that could possibly come up between two adults. The anonymity of the chat persona probably made us both bolder than we might normally be, but it became a regular thing that we would get together online and share the daily stories and the trials of our lives. She with her 2 kids and her awesomely cool, Policeman Husband, me with my big dreams and always trying to do something that I probably should but always manage to survive and thrive from. She was going to Paramedic school I was working nights in a factory, but while our worlds were a million miles apart, our minds were running parallel rails, we had tons to talk about and laugh about. She was cool out there in the Midwest, telling me about her great weather, while I was freezing my butt off here in western NY. She was looking out for Tornadoes while I was enjoying spring breezes. She was suffering through a drought while I was wishing it would stop raining. She went to school and raised her kids, I went to work and tried my hand at new things all the time, looking for my passion so that I could eventually pursue it for profit, and not feel trapped in a job I hated. Pretty soon I was planning a trip that could easily take me through her city, would it be okay if I stopped in and met her in person? Sure why not! So when the big day finally arrived, it was funny, after all the talking and discussion online, when we were actually together in the same room it took a little while for the words to start flowing the same as they did online. But eventually they did flow and the laughter and smiles came out free and easy, and I found out that I had met a person who was also just like me, but not me . I had me a second twin that made us triplets!!

So all of this leads me to this, Sometimes it is these odd friends that give us the most pleasure, even though it is rare that we get to actually see them, and we may go weeks and months with nary a word, but when we connect, we seem to fill in the blanks quickly and succinctly. Sometimes we stay in touch constantly, with big letters and awesome pictures and video. But it seems that these Odd friends are truly the best friends that we end up with, because we don't have the opportunities to screw it up, by getting drunk and doing something stupid and irredeemable, or borrowing money and never paying it back. There are a million things that break up friendships, but the Odd friends have some insulation from us and our wanton ways, and so they can last, and because they have been so much like us for so long it is pretty much a given that they will remain on our wavelength barring electro-shock therapy.

So heres to my Odd friends, some of my best friends in the world: Lynn, Renny, Mummy and Scotty. I love you guys and hope that you are my Odd Friends for many years to come!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New favorite sign EVER!!

So during a recent excursion that I have already gabbed about, ( going to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving) I happened to see this GREAT sign prominently displayed on the roadside near the entrance to small convenience store. Just for some interesting information, the building seen behind the sign is not the home of a construction company, but 18 years ago it was a high stakes Bingo Hall and Casino. It was forcibly closed by the US Federal Government and there well funded "Canadian" Anti-gambling Protesters. This battle was quite well documented in the national media as it was a huge catalyst for the American Indian Gaming Movement.

A little background information about "Akwesasne"... This is one of the most interesting places in North America, as it is an Indian Reservation that sits on on not only the American-Canadian border, but in Canada, it also straddles the Ontario-Quebec border. The American side is located in Northern New York State along the St. Lawrence river. The reservation includes various islands in the St.Lawrence as well as border crossing points leased to the American and Canadian governments that includes Customs booths, inspection stations, and toll gates. This will get you to Cornwall, Ontario from America. There are at least 6 places inside the reservation where one crosses the border and the only way you know is the change in the road surface. It is actually possible to drive into Canada without visiting a customs station. It works the other way too, one can drive into America without seeing a customs station. But too many idiots have tried being "Coyotes", and instead of delivering their passengers to a populated area where they can blend in, they simply let them try and hitchhike once they are across the border, thereby giving the Border Patrol and Customs Agency reason to patrol the Rez. Idiots! They have managed to make a mockery of our border rights and I never had a chance to make a profit!! Half kidding!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Am I a Geek?

I may be a nerd, and I am sure that I'm a freak, but could it be that I am also a geek? Man what a thought! I think that perhaps I am on my way to geekdom, but I still have some ways to travel.

I have been trying to figure out at just what point a nerd becomes a geek. I don't play video games, but on the other hand I can get into a very deep discussion about Science Fiction Characters and their impact on society through the interactions of their fans with the general population. Or the obvious faults in the time travel paradoxes presented in such movies as Back to the Future, Time Cop, and Butterfly Effect. Any Sci Fi fan worth their salt can tell you that they have set up so many multiverse cusp points that it would be nearly impossible to find the correct timeline without some sort of Anchor. So this is serious nerdom.

I love to play on the computer, but I have never had much luck in tinkering with the OS's or building any sort of programming. I work with a PC and I play with a Mac. Does this simple flexibility give me any Geek Cred? I am getting better at finding files that I need and putting them to use, but just today I tried to set up a little two computer network between my old Mac and my new one and I was not very successful. Oddly enough I can do a simple Bluetooth file transfer between machines, but setting up a teeny tiney network seems to be beyond my current knowledge. So I am thinking this is points deducted from Geekdom.

So where do my TV tastes put me? I watch the Sci Fi channel regularly and never miss an episode of Stargate: Atlantis ( which is nearly done!) , Battlestar Galactica, ( also nearly done), Eureka, Painkiller Jane, Flash Gordon, Dr. Who, and constant reruns of SG1 (Which I currently own 5 seasons of on DVD) . Other favorites include Numbers, Chuck and Heroes. I watch Enterprise when I can, and I have seen 98% of the episodes of TNG, and DS9. I got seperated from ST:V early on, but still occasionally try to see episodes that I have not previously seen. I watch Discovery and The History Channel whenever there is nothing else on. ( which sadly, is quite often) Mythbusters rule! I have vivid sexual fantasies about Kari Byron. I really want to see her Tattoos.

A smart chick turns me on faster than one with big tits. Granted I am more willing to approach the nice ass and see what she has to say, but if there is no brain I couldn't care less about the ass. Give me a girl that speaks four languages and likes to wander through art galleries and she already looks like a goddess to me. Of course there needs to be a certain asthetic to her as well, I mean I'm a fat guy and she can't be bigger than me. I admit to a small bit of shallowness, Hell, I am a guy after all, and I live with porno and American TV. I must say that My Ideal is probably a little bit different than the average, but then like I've said before, I'm a freak. Give me a hippy chick, nature girl any day. Miss Barbi Doll is never gonna be my ideal, but show me that little Raggedy Ann all dreadlocked and tiedyed and I am there. Geek, freak, or nerd?

I wonder where I fall in that interesting spectrum. Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things, because I will continue to act and do as I like. But as all people I wonder occassionally where I fall in the categories of Humanity. Am I too studious to be a geek, but too adept at human interaction to be a nerd? Perhaps I am as I have always assumed, simply uncategorical. I will remain, as always, the single one of my kind, the exception that proves rule.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Love/Hate Relationships

You bet, Love /Hate. Ever really wondered about about that term? Try living with a birthday that is 10 days or less before Christmas. I have a serious Love/Hate relationship with Christmas.

I know lots of people who share this feeling, and in fact I share my birthday with my father, I was born on his 21st birthday. ( thank you Mom, for that, it really is cool ) My reasons are pretty selfish to be truthful, as are most people who share this particular problem. You see we get ripped off at Christmas or our birthdays, there is only one part of this group who do well and that is the part who were actually born on Christmas Day. Let me elaborate...

There seems to be a dividing line somewhere between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, where people decide that it isn't worth the effort to get a person two separate gifts, and they get only one present "for both days." It seems that those inside the 15 day barrier are the most prone to this affliction. It usually goes something like this, " I really hope you like the (insert gift here) because I just couldn't afford / didn't have time/ to get you second gift for your birthday/Christmas, and I wanted this one to cover both." Not everyone does this, and it is not like I am asking for gold bars or something. I don't care if I get a personal photo framed with popsicle sticks, or a simple hand made card, it's not a gift that I am looking for so much as the mental seperation of the birthday from the holiday. What I am truly griping about is the fact that these people with birthdays that fall outside the 15 days before Christmas barrier would be completely disappointed and hurt if you came to their birthday party and gave them a gift then said, "I hope you like it cuz it's your Christmas present too." Or if you gave them a Christmas present and then stated that they won't be getting a Birthday present this year and you hope they understand that this covers both. It's almost like the closeness of the Biggest shopping holiday of the year ( why is it a shopping holiday?) Excuses them from treating you like they treat all of their other friends and family.

So the aforementioned subset, the "Christmas Day Babies", these people seem to have a special situation all their own. Their families often go through special pains to make sure that their birthday is celebrated on Christmas day, and that it is a completely seperated event. In fact I know one family that actually decorates one room of their home as a "birthday room" where there are no Christmas decorations allowed during the Birthday celebration so that the Birthday honoree feels that they have the family's undivided attention just like on everyone elses birthday. A little bit overboard? Perhaps, but still they get their separation.

Because of this funny little relationship that I have with this holiday, I never start my Christmas shopping until after my birthday. This way I can be inside my "love area" for Christmas. Inside this window, I am happy to hear the songs on the radio, and the decorations everywhere. I don't mind the crowds at the mall, or the lines wherever I go, because it is then, for me, the Christmas season.

So that's my 2¢. you can keep the change, after all it's nearly Christmas.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

on greed and gluttony...

This subject from a fat guy who wants to win the lottery....

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that I have some very mixed feelings about. I love the family get together, ( even though mine is very small in recent years ) and I love the food. Too much food though, and one truly feels compelled to "have a little of everything." Why? Simply put, out of politeness. In my family, each dish of the dinner is made from scratch by a professional chef who just happens to be my father. Occasionally there are additional dishes made with equal care and attention to detail from other family members, and to skip items, for anything other than moral standing ( meaning you can skip the meat if you're a vegetarian ) is to insult the cooks who have labored long and hard over each course of your meal. From the peeling of the potatoes, to the basting of the bird, from the cooking of the pumpkins to the kneading of the pie shells, it's all done for "You!" The afternoon sitting in the livingroom, the smells from the kitchen making the stomach growl in anticipation of the big meal. The table is set with the good Corelle ware, and silver. Dinner is served and The plates are loaded up. Take a little bit of everything, but some extra of your favorites, and my personal favorites are the dressing and the cranberries. ( whole cranberries cooked in a sweet jelly that is made with cherry brandy! yummy!) By the time the main meal is done it's gonna be a bit of work to have some dessert. But what's Turkey day without Punkin pie? It's tradition!

So why so many different foods for one dumbass holiday? If you can set a decent table and serve a complete meal, what more needs to be done? Why must we gorge to the point that we feel sick afterwards? ( thank you I haven't done this in a few years, I know what you were thinking!) Is this a holdover behavior from the days when it was truly possible to run out of food over a long winter and we were programmed to eat hearty when it was available so that we might fatten up for the hard weather? Or is it simply tradition to see who can gain the most "turkey weight"? I know many otherwise sensible people who will gorge on a thanksgiving meal until they can barely walk without pain. As a lifelong overeater, even I don't do that with anything other than lasagna. ( me and garfield!) I'm, of course, joking, I don't eat anything like that anymore, in fact it has been years since I ate so much of anything that I was in pain. Uncomfortable, yes, pain, no! SO the Gluttony precedes the greed of "Black Friday."

Do you know why it's called "Black Friday?" It's not about the feeling of doom that most retail employees feel for this day, rather it is about the color of ink that the management of retail store hope to be able to use in the ledgers at the end of the day. It is said ( and I really have trouble believing it) that while most retail establishments run in the red ( losing money) for the large part of the year, the 4 week stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas bring the books into the black ( showing a profit ). If this is indeed the truth then it's a poor business model that they have been following. To depend on 4 weeks out of a year to bring your yearly sales into the black is insane. But it sure explains why they started pushing Christmas in September. Sad.

So that brings me to the real greed part of this thing, because on Black Friday this year a Wal-mart employee was trampled to death trying to control the crowd pushing through the door at opening. The full story is here. In the story an employee is quoted as saying that the crowd took the doors off of their hinges. This is stupidity at it's worst. The story even tells how these very same customers were refusing to leave the store when police closed it because of the death! Where is the sense of these people? The worst has finally happened, and now we have to see what comes of it. I think that store could be a little more cautious when advertising a "door buster" sale! Too many people take this a little too literally, but unfortunately the retail management has no morals and will continue to advertise such sales in hope of getting every descretionary dollar available from the public, as well as as many indescretionary dollars as possible too. Retail management has proven that they know this is a dangerous practice:

Hank Mullany, president of Wal-Mart's northeast division, said the company took extraordinary safety precautions.

"We expected a large crowd this morning and added additional internal security, additional third-party security, additional store associates and we worked closely with the Nassau County police," he said in a statement.

"We also erected barricades. Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate event occurred."

I am about this close to opting out of Christmas. It has become far too gimme, gimme, gimme and lost it's love. As a person who is cursed with a December birthday I have a love hate relationship with Christmas to begin with, and this kind of things just makes it worse.

Now a pet peeve that has been on my mind a lot lately, GRAMMAR! the following is correct, "In an emergency...", while this is incorrect, "In a emergency...". The following is correct, "It would be a historic event." The following is incorrect, "It would be an historic event." If the word following the article begins with a vowel the article "an" is used, if the following word begins with a consonant the article "a" is used. A very simple rule that I have seen screwed up repeatedly of late and it is driving me insane!! ( and that's just a short walk to begin with. )

Friday, November 21, 2008

How much do you like music?

Music is one of those things in life that everyone has some saome opinion about, what is good and what is bad and what even constitutes "music" To a Mongolian Throat Singer, they make music, but to just about everyone else they make noise. Rock music is broken down into categories and someone can love one and hate another, there is glam rock, hair band, hard rock, classic rock, heavy metal, and accoustic. How many other categories depends on the strict definition you choose, but they are all a form of "Rock n Roll" Sometimes we lke a genre but dislike a particular performer in that genre, Me I can barely stand Guns and Roses and Kid Rock. My little brother on the other hand loves them both to death and loves to argue with me about their merits. Now Don't get me wrong, I don't say that they are not quite accomplished at what they do and how well they do it, I just don't like them. From both a personal and professional stand I have my reasons. THe funny thing is that I like such a wide variety of music that some people consider me to be an authority on the stuff, but truthfully I am only a barely conversant dilettante compared to some people. The more I learn about music the more I realize that I don't know, but I do know what I like.

In recent years I have found that I like to hear new versions of old songs. On Saturday mornings in Rochester there is a radio show, ( actually 2 of them!) that play truly different music, and I have really come to look forward to these shows. The one show opens every week with a different artists version of the song "Good Morning Little School Girl" I have been listening to these shows for a couple years and I can't say that I have heard the same version of this song twice. I have heard faithful blues renditions, rocking ,rockabilly versions, some that sounded like a lullaby, reggae, hiphop, one was even an instrumental played only on piano. And what I have found is that they are all cool. No matter how different it sounds from the first version I ever heard, they are all the same song from somebody else's perspective. So with this in mind I have kept my ears open to find different and cool versions of old familiar songs. Jewel doing "Sweet Home Alabama", amazing cover of a song that she can't even sing live because she doesn't know the words!! Funny isn't it? Billo Kirchen and "Hot Rod Lincoln Live" an 8 minute rendition of a 2 minute song, well worth it! Commander Codi's, Live version of "Hot Rod Lincoln" , it is his song after all! One that most people know, Eric Clapton's Accoustic version of "Layla" the great Derrick and the Dominos song that was originally a screaming guitar anthem. Accoustic versions of lots of songs, covers by well known artists, tributes, lots of variety. I have been working on a small collection of covers of Hall of Fame songs by Hall of Fame Artists. It's pretty cool to do the research and find out the origins of the songs and how they got to where they are. I have also found out that some artists put their songs out and then get tired of doing them that way, so they rewrite them and make them totally different songs. Not always better, but usually way better.

Music is what we want it to be, and some of us can make it. It's all about what you want to hear, and what you let yourself hear. Change can be good, and it may even open your mind.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No doubt!

Got me a shout out of the radidio Today!! I was doin' my thing in the new Wease Chatroom and low he asked who was in there and Lissow (new male sidekick) read off some names and Guess what? Shipping troll was right there in the list!!! cool or what? Nothing like supporting the stuff you enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why am I excited about a radio geek?

Yes, I'm happy to have Wease back on the air. Why? Because he is the iconic voice of Rochester for me. There are many other voices that could fit that bill, and I am sure that other people have this feeling about Dave Kane, or Dino, or Tom George, or Terri Clifford, or any hundred other radio personalities that we have come to know and love.

The truth is that unless we actually spend time with them, we really don't know these voices by anything else than what they say to us on any given day. If we listen long enough we have the chance to put together a cohesive memory of them as we imagine them, which depending upon how they do their job could be very close to correct, or simply a manifestation of their on-air persona. As listeners, we have no idea which is which. Sadly some people go for the persona, rather than actually finding out about the person. The truth is that I only know Wease anecdotally. I have listened to him on the radio for nearly 20 years, and I have seen him at various functions, and even spoken with him on the air on occasion, but I know that I don't know him. What I do know though, is this, he seems to live his life on the air, we the listeners, have listened as he has raised his children, fought with his various wives, courted and married the lovely and emotional Doreen. We have heard him argue politics, religion, and education. He has related in graphic detail his military history, as well as his half-dozen other occupations. We know how he used to moon his mother and wrap paper reams for his father the printer (and bookie!). We know about his RV experience, and his Harley years. We know about his cancer and all the treatments that he dealt with to get him past it. We listened as he has mentored and sent on to glory and fame, Stephanie Miller and Opie ( of Opie and Anthony), and lord knows how many others, BJ Shay, Rich Genzler, (sp?) there was a chick between The One Whose Name We May Not Mention, and Stephanie, but I can't for the life of me remember her name. He brought us Tom Mule, and Lumpy, and Billy D'Torre. He has hooked us on different music, like Lucinda Williams, Kelly Hunt, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and countless other bands and performers. Comedians of every flavor come to Rochester and sit in with Wease. Other stations are left hanging while they sit in the studio and shuck & jive with our Brother Wease. Bobby Slayton, Thea Vidal, the late Sam Kinison. If you can name the comedian you can just about guarantee that they have sat in with Wease. He dissed Pauly Shore!! How sweet was that!!

I discovered Wease by accident in the late 80's. I live in the gray area centered between 2 amazingly diverse cities,Buffalo and Rochester, NY, and within radio reach of Toronto, Canada. I have choices when it comes to radio listening, and as a kid I was good at exercising that choice. There was never any guessing what I would be listening to from one day to the next. French- Canadian Pop? yup. AM country station? yup. Rock-n-Roll? yup. Top 40 pop? yup. I listened to it all, from the sappy ballads to heavy metal, I just enjoyed the music. Sometime in the mid 80's my favorite Buffalo rock radio station went off the air and I was searching for a new favorite. I tried a couple stations but didn't care for their particular mix, which sounds odd since I listened to such a wide variety, but the truth is that I know what I want when I am looking for it! So anyway I found WCMF. They were great and I loved 'em, but in the mornings it seemed that the DJ talked a lot more than he played the music, and truthfully I always enjoyed what he was saying. I was still in high school at this time so I didn't have the opportunity to listen for hours at a time, but I began to tune it each day on my way to school. Then when I finally graduated I had a commute to work each day and in that hour I listened. I began to like the talk and not like the wait when the music was playing, I wanted to hear more of the stories and life of this raspy voice that filled my car every morning. Then I moved.

I moved to South Florida and was surround by a whole different radio environment, now I had salsa stations side by side with redneck country stations, and rock stations, and dance stations, and Spanish language stations and Cubano stations. Musically, I was in heaven, but as for a personality that really hooked me? Nope, the best I could do was Herman and McBean in the Morning. HACKS!! Third rate compared to my hometown hero, Wease! Fortunately my sojourn in S. Florida was short lived as I was hard pressed to find employment that would allow me to have both an apartment and food.

Back home I was happy to find the familiar voice ringing in my radio. I spent a few years working different jobs but the one constant was that I could count on being able to hear Wease while I worked, Painting houses, fixing RVs, delivering parts, or anything else that I did. Then I moved again. This time it was still in NY but way up north on the St. Regis Reservation. I was working in an Indian Casino. It was a fun job, but it didn't last, that was the year that Northern NY Blew up! I never met so many State Police in my life, and they are all pretty good guys over all. The chicks in uniform are HOT!! I don't know what it is about them broads with guns but man they trip my trigger! (intended!) SO I was in a Radio Wasteland, I was lucky to get a few local AM stations and one or two Canadian stations that reached us from Montreal. No contest, I missed Wease! Finally the time came when I headed south again and got back into the proper radio range!

Then I got the job at the bar. I worked until 2 am. Getting up early wasn't easy, but I did it. Not to listen to the radio, but because I was only working 2 nights a week at the bar so I still needed a day job to pay the bills, but while I was twisting a wrench on washing machines I could listen to Wease. Then I got to be full time at the bar. and I was happy to sleep every day until 11 am. You think that getting out of work every day, all wound up at 2 am, you could go right to sleep? Not likely. I was Happy if I was in bed by 4 am. So there was a 2 year stretch when I almost never got to hear Wease. Then I switched to the day shift at the bar, which meant that I didn't have to be at work until Noon! Yeah! Now I was up by 7 am everyday and listening until the end of the show. I was back! I was happy for a while until a certain argumentative know-it-all female sidekick started to get on my nerves. Had to turn off Wease. It was a few years until SHE was gone, then I came back.

The Sally Carpenter years had begun! YES!! I was happy because she was cool, and not judgmental, and SMART. I like smart, and the show was better than ever. The ratings were soaring and the show was smart, funny, topical, and relevant more than ever before. CBS owned the station and things were good. For the listeners at least.

Entercom ruined Rochester Radio. They bought the fastest car in town and slashed the tires and yanked the motor out. They took a station that was as close to perfect as modern radio can be and ruined it. Fired the midday guy, the evening guy, and the fill-in guy. Then they tossed their option on the morning guy. The new show lacked the edge of the original. Tommy and Bill tried to fill those huge shoes, but the corporate brass didn't give them the tools to do the job. Sally is in Philly doing the show by phone. No good. I tried, I really did, but I knew it wasn't what I wanted. Then the word came out that it would be back.

A new station, a new crew, and Wease is back on the air. Monday morning he returns for real. With a video feed, and a chat room. Truly, an interactive radio experience. There was a short run through on Saturday night, for two hours the world returned to almost normal. Of course the new crew was mostly quiet because the phones were nuts with everyone calling in good wishes for Wease. But they will come out of their shells soon. Lilly, and Jamie and the rest of the crew. Ditullio is back , Marshall Fine, Doug Emblege on the radio. Rochester will once again feel like home. or at least sound like it, when I can tune in that raspy, liberal, bastard, the world sounds just a little bit Righter.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rochester radio returns to What is't supposed to be!!

GOOD GOD IT"S FINALLY Here !!! Brother Wease is BACK on the air. Can't wait to hear that familiar rasp once again! I don't know how I survived the political season without him! Jumpin' up and down with anticipation.

Monday, November 10, 2008

At what cost, freedom?

I am an American, for good or for bad, It is where I was born and the language that I speak. I happen to understand and speak a few extra languages too, but my primary language is American English. And here I am implementing my 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech. BUT with every right that we are granted or promised, we must also promise to use these rights with some responsibility. As the 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, it is not meant to allow one to cause a stampede by screaming "fire!" in a crowded theater. This is a common example, and one that most people seem to understand. But let's look at this freedom from a different angle, where do we draw the line at the "right to know?"

In the last couple of decades the "investigative reporter" has become the great enlightener of our generation. They have exposed corruption and scandal in every quarter of government and business. They depend on the whistle blower and the confidential informant to get their stories and facts. They have done lots of good over the years, but at the same time, they may be responsible for much harm too. When exposing national security concerns to the public, is it truly wise to stress over and over again which ports are most susceptible to terrorist attack, or wouldn't it be more prudent to say simply that "certain ports" are still vulnerable? Let the bad guys do their own homework, and quit giving them easy directions. When I lived in Florida, the port of the city that I lived in was considered to be one of the easiest terrorist targets in the US. The local paper even published a study that they had carried out themselves Detailing the weaknesses of this port. Including the best targets, the police response times, the security holes and the best forms of attack. Why isn't this considered to be treason? "Here is your target, the best way to attack it, and the tools you need to do it!" Now it is truly my belief that one must be willing to sacrifice a certain amount of security in order to preserve freedom, but at the same time it seems that to simply hand out information to our enemies is foolish and irresponsible.

My personal favorite is the 2nd Amendment and the right to "...bear arms..." . This is a point of serious argument, both the pros and the cons, but the truth is that these debates can easily be argued as points of responsibility. The NRA (National Rifle Association for those who may not know) is a great argument for both sides of the fence. They are adamant that guns are everybody's right and there should never be a reason to give them up. They are against registration, or a gun census, and any restrictive legislation. To some extent I can agree with some of these points, but not all. What is the harm in a gun census? Unless you have something to hide, or you wish to do something illegal, you should have no reason to be afraid of your local law enforcement agency knowing how many guns you have in your home. Of course we all know that one or two can always be reported stolen, and kept in reserve when the "jackbooted thugs" come to collect your weapons. In Great Britain it is now illegal to keep a gun in a private home, they must be kept at a gun club, or a hunt club (or so I have read I can't say that this is truly a fact). But there are still illegal guns out in the streets. Not nearly as many as in the United States, but they are out there. I own shoot and carry pistols, rifles, and shotguns. In NY state in order to purchase a pistol one must have a "pistol Permit" and each county has different standards. My permit is a "carry/posses on premises" permit, and I am allowed by law to carry my pistol(s) anywhere that they are not expressly prohibited, and I generally do. Generally, but not always, and with consideration to where I am and who will be there. I exercise responsibility. I don't carry when there will be lots of children around, I don't carry when I will be drinking alcohol. I don't carry an exposed weapon into a convenience store. I have educated my nephews about guns, but when they are around I keep my guns out of reach and unloaded or even better, locked up. Why, because I wish to be responsible. I enjoy my freedoms and I wish to keep them and allow them to be passed on to following generations.

Guns and cars, 2 things that are more American than just about anything, while the liberals cry over and over how guns are killing so many people, they seem to barely take notice of the numbers racked up on America's highways.

Motor vehicles accidents account for more deaths than all natural disasters combined. In fact in the United States your chances of being injured in an motor vehicle accident is better than one in a thousand, in any one year.

If you wish to do the math, crime stats for murder can be found here. Yes, when weapons are involved Guns are the biggest offender, but they have to be employed by somebody, and most often are used With the intent to kill! Automobiles are killers by accident, by poor training and inexperience, by inattention, by bad weather, and who knows how many other reasons. But who ever heard of bad weather being the reason for a gun death? ( ok, ok, maybe a hunting accident, but be realistic...) Yet there is no big movement to outlaw Cars. ( Which BTW are NOT A Constitutional right! )

Many freedoms come with a cost, I will look at others in the future, but these 2 are on the surface recently.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

my favorite architecture part 1

When I was a kid, my grandparents owned an old farm in southern New York State, and on this farm were these two old barns. They are long gone, nothing more than bumps in the ground where they once stood, but the impression that they left on me persists. In the years since they were in my life, I have found that the old gambrel roofed barns capture both my attention and my imagination. They have a romantic quality in their appearance. when you drive down any country road north of the Mason Dixon, and east of the Mississippi, it is likely that you will see one of these barns either up close to the road you are traveling, or perhaps peeking out of the woods or over the fields. They dot the landscape reminding us that our country was built on the back of the family farm. As the family farm has died out, the barns are dieing too. But there are still many of them out there.

Over the years these old building have been adapted or lost, many have come to be landmarks for people trying to find their way to a friend's house, or remember their way to get to grandma's house. Some of these barns are still in use, maybe not for their original purpose, but for someone's workshop or garage. Many still get used to park the family's toys, the RV or the family
tractor. In some cases they are rented out for hay storage, or for a big corporate farmer to keep equipment near the local fields. But then, there are the cool cases where the old building has been remodeled completely inside to a real new use, such as a showroom for a furniture store, or the offices of a car dealership. Of course the landscape around them has changed along the way too, and that is the real interesting part sometimes.

I always find some surprises as I look around for these pieces of history. Each one, while similar in design, had it's own personality. different windows, pitches, peaks, and door arrangements are just a few of the individualities readily apparent to the casual viewer. Many times the form fit the function, often these barns were built in such a way that the front side was on high ground and the back side faced a hollow. This allowed for the easy entry of wagons loaded with hay into the storage area that was always the upper levels. While the hollow at the rear was perfect for pushing hay out into the feedlot for the livestock. In later years there was often one or two silos to accompany the barns, and it was not unusual for there to be a pair of barns, one for the work animals, usually horses, and one for the rest of the stock, the cows, sheep, chickens and goats. Often the Barns were the first buildings on the property, because they were the most important back in the old days. Once there was a place to work, then the house could be built.

One of the interesting things that I often notice is how these majestic behemoths have been incorporated into modern buildings. When a farm has grown rather than died, the original building has always remained in good shape, barring some disaster such as a fire or a tornado. So when the time comes to enlarge, the builders simply add on to the existing structure. I have had the opportunity to wander through some modern farms where the original Barn stands amid the additions it's gambreled peak rising like a lone mountain above the enameled metal of the newer additions. The ladders still attached to the beams in the hay loft so that the brave may climb to the highest window or loading door, and look out over all of the expansive roof. While below one is tested to find the original structure of hand-hewn beams that are now stripped of their planking to provide open space to move the herds or equipment. The rough cut supports standing side by side with the pressure treated lumber of today.

Look around if you can, and see the differences before they become too rare to compare. They are falling down everywhere, some already decayed to no more than a stone foundation. Their roofs are falling in, and their walls are bowing out, awaiting that fatal windstorm that will finally end their life. But what have they seen, and how many of them will last another century? Many of these grand buildings have seen more than a century already, and with care they may yet see another or even two more centuries. What history will they hold in that time, how many faces will they see? How many generations will have the chance to climb their supports, and swing from their ropes? How many sunsets and sunrises will be seen from their highest windows. How many children will be conceived in their hay lofts? As Americans we have a tendency to forget the past and only look to the future, but the past is often worth looking at, because it holds the keys to the future. There was a reason that our great grandparents built those buildings to last. Perhaps we will understand before it is too late and the last timberframe falls into a vine covered heap. Perhaps...

To be continued....

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Season In the sun...

Yeah, I know the song, and I used to listen to it over and over on my dad's old turntable, I nearly wore out that old 45. Who remembers 45 rpm Records? show of hands! If you know what they are, then a 33 is easy to remember, but who really remembers the 78's? I loved the 78 setting to play the 45's because then they sounded like squirrels on meth!

But I digress, and since this is MY blog, I am allowed to digress, so there! THPPPP!!

My goal today was to wax philosophical about the seasons, I may even get poetic, but be sure it will have no rhyme scheme! Today was what is often referred to as a perfect Indian Summer day, the mercury climbed well up into the 70's which in western NY in November is unusual. Our normal temps at this time of year are usually in the 50's during the day, and at or below freezing at night. To have a day for t-shirt and shorts this time of year makes me wonder just what effect global warming is really going to have on our climate. Many of the experts claim that the northern hemisphere will slip into a new ice age when the great ocean currents stagnate, and until the oceans salinity returns to the correct levels and begin the convection again, we will remain an ice-locked area. Do you know what the great convection is? Look it up! it's the interconnected worldwide ocean current that moves the dense cold water from the poles down into the equatorial waters, and then the warm equatorial waters into the poles to cool. This current regulates the temperatures of the oceans and the atmosphere as well. With the melting of the Arctic, and Antarctic icecaps this current is slowing down and is truly in danger of completely stopping. When it does, the real climate change will begin. The northern hemisphere holds the bulk of the landmass of the planet. If you don't believe me look at a globe, and see how much land is north of the equator. Now see how much is below. I was right, huh? See, I payed attention in school. Well actually to the History and Science Channels! But anyways, what this means is that the heavy cold air from the north will not have a jet stream in the upper atmosphere to drag it around the planet and warm it up, nope, it will just settle and push itself south across the land and in the darkness of winter the snows will fall, and as the snow falls it will pile up. Without the jet stream to bring in the warm air from the southern latitudes the sun will not be able to warm the land and the snow just won't melt away. This is how an ice age starts. Each season the snow gets deeper until it forms a glacier, and on a continental scale it will once again resurface the planet. Those of us alive now will never live to see the glaciers, but there is a possibility that the youngest of us will see the everlasting winters. I feel sorry for them, because they will miss the real pleasure of the changing seasons.

We all have our favorite seasons, and some people search for the endless summer, or the endless winter. I have lived where there is no snow, and I didn't care for it. I have visited where there is no rain for long stretches of time, and I truly miss the occasional rainy day. A rainy season just isn't the same as a beautiful summer rain. I was born in the winter, and when I was a kid I knew that my birthday was getting close when I saw snow on the ground. With this in mind I actually remember a time when I would wake up every morning and look out the window to see if it had snowed! So what if I started after the 4th of July! I was 4 and had no grasp of a calendar yet. lol So in that respect I missied out on some interesting things while I was so caught up in waiting for winter. Now It's not so much of a problem.

Ever notice that the older you get the faster time seems to go by? It is truly a perception, because when you are five years old an year is 1/5 of your life, and month is 1/60. When you are 2o years old a year is now 1/20 of you life and a month is 1/24o. So carrying the ratios out, when you are 60, a year is like a month when you were 5!! Yikes!! and we wonder where the memory goes! it's not the memory that goes, but the perception of time that screws it all up

When your a kid you look forward to summer, when school was out and you had all day to do whatever you wanted, or at least all day after your chores were done. I loved to be out in the fields and the forests. I would climb trees and boulders, and explore the creeks and ponds around my home. Tracking deer in the woods, and picking wild blackberries and currants, and strawberries. Finding apple trees where there used to be farm houses, and getting a stomach ache from eating green apples and pears. I explored the hedge rows and hollows of every field within 5 miles of my house and I knew every fox and woodchuck burrow around. I knew where the deer went to drink, and I knew where the best place was to catch a fish, or a snapping turtle. SO much has changed since then that I would barely know where to start these days. But I still appreciate the summer, only now it is for a different reason. Now it is for the fresh vegetables from the farm stands, and the girls in their skimpy clothes. I appreciate the summer for the hours spent riding my motorcycle through the hills and valleys of my home state. I appreciate it for the long days when I can get out of work and still have hours of light left to go swimming or to putter around in my garden. The lazy Saturday afternoons, when the yard work is done and I get to sprawl out in my hammock under a shady tree and swing in the cool breeze. The Satruday afternoon parties when friends gather together with cold beer and loads of food cooked over the open fire, and eaten with gusto. The warm evenings with fireflies swarming in the trees, and the stars winking into view overhead. Watching the big fat full moon rise over the eastern horizon. knowing the familiar whine of mosquitos busily buzzing your ears while you are trying to cook a hot dog on a stick over the campfire. Sleeping in a tent listening to nature rustle in the leaves outside. hearing the giggles of the children playing jokes on their friends and parents. The smell of the air before a thunderstorm. The smell of the air after a thunderstorm. The smell of a dewy summer morning, and watching the sunrise, bright and clear, into that perfect cerulian, summer sky. These are the things that mean summer to me, and the things that make it special each and every time.

As summer slowly unwinds into autumn there are new sensations and memories to be made. The return of the great yellow monsters to the traffic patterns, school buses to slow down everyone and make you cautious again. The days are getting shorter, but the grass is still growing, so you have to work harder on the weekends because the grass still needs to be cut, and the garden needs tending and the harvest is really ramping up. The fields are slowly emptying of fresh produce. Gone are the fresh cucumbers and squash, and the pumpkins are showing their great orange tummys to the world. The hills are alive with color as the maples and beeches and oaks lose their summer green and show the flaming colors hidden underneath, like naughty girls flasing Victoria's Secret to the world! The smells of the occasional fire in the fireplace to chase the chill off in the morning. The smells of the autumn. The fresh and crisp mornings when you walk outside and see frost in the grass. Saturday night parties when you build the big bonfire to have a little warmth even though you are wearing a sweater or even a jacket. Watching the great harvesters bobbing and weaving along the byways and back roads going from field to field. Haversters running into the night seeing the lights moving through the fields like so many UFO's eating the corn and soybeans. The trucks loaded with corn groaning down the roads headed to the markets or the farms. Orchards with row after row of apple trees, their branches heavy and bent low with big juicy apples. Driving by the vineyards of wine country and smelling the grapes, the air so thick with the smell that you can almost taste the fruit. Leaves falling from the trees and making multi-colored drifts in yards and fields. Squirrels scampering around gathering nuts as quickly as they can, and hording them away in places where they hope to be able to find them in the dead of winter. The hedge rows turning crimson with the end of the sumac season. Seeing the geese in the air their great flying V's crossing the skys headed south for the winter. Honking noisily to announce to everyone their presence. Little twittering groups of other northern birds filling the trees for a day or two as they follow the geese, and the sun. Hunters and posted signs. Camo and blaze orange. Idiots with guns and bows out in the fields, too close to my home. Slowly the world goes from the bright vibrant colors of summer to the monochromatic hues of fall and winter.

Soon the days are too short, and the nights too long, and they are filled with wind and cold. But the house is cozy and the oven is pumping out hunger inducing smells, fresh bread, and cookies, stews and casseroles. The stovetop steaming with fresh soup and sauce. The windows fogged up from all the cooking. Too much temptation, no way to avoid eating all the tasty treats going into the holiday season. Still autumn right into December, by now there is regularly snow on the ground, and when you walk outside your shoes squishing in the snow and your breath is always a little cloud when you breath out. Thanksgiving is past and Christmas and New Years quickly approach, shopping for just the right gifts for everyone on the list. Wrapping presents and stashing them away where you hope they won't be discovered. The holidays themselves, each one full of traditions and family and friends. Christmas with the family, the gifts, and the laughter and the tears. The meal and the gathering and the noisy fun. The smells of the dinner cooking in the kitchen, the cookies and candies on the tables. New Years Eve gathers friends together, and the countdown to the New Year. Cheering and kissing and hugging, and congratulating, welcoming the beginning of another year with a champaign toast. The Rose Parade! The holidays are over and now it is the long slow climb out of winter. Plowing and shoveling snow until the January thaw. Brown slush filling parking lots and streets, then freezing again making it all rough like a furrowed field. The icy blast of February tempered by Valentines day, and the thoughts of love. The beginning of NASCAR season sitting in the living room while the winter rattles the windows, the TV filled with the warm Daytona sun, and the cars and teams filled with promise, gathered to start the season. Running out of space to push the snow . March and the hints of spring, in like a lion and out like a lamb. The growing daffodills and crocuses. Tulips poking out of the ground showing the world that they are awake and looking for the sun. Winter trying it's best to hold on, blowing it's icy breath across the land reminding us that it isn't gone yet. Snow on the Daffodils. April, the warming ground slowly giving life back to the grasses and the bulbs hidden beneath. The apricots and apple trees loaded with blossoms filling the air with their perfumes, along with the peaches pears and cherries. May and the fields are turned with the promise of the new season, The lilacs showing once again their fleeting beauty, filling the air with their sweet scent. June as the crops begin to poke eagerly from the ground, corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and everything else.The colors returning to the trees and the blossoms. The first cutting of hay piling up in the barns, and the promise of another summer filled with new promise and memories.

So to say that I feel sorry for those who don't experience the seasons is an understatement, but for many of them they are like the blind who have never seen. They have not a concept of what they are missing. Maybe someday they may give it a try.

Monday, November 3, 2008


The Master, Robert A. Heinlein once said, through his character Lazarus Long, " If you live in a society that votes, do so! If you don't have some one to vote for, you should have someone to vote against. If this doesn't work, find some well meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask who he supports, then vote the opposite. It satisfies your civic duty and you get to oppose someone you dislike. " Now I truly don't believe that this is the best philosophy, but I do believe that if you don't vote you have no legs to stand on when you don't like who wins. Since my 18th birthday I have only missed 2 election days. One because I was traveling and one because I completely forgot what day it was, ( and I was thinking about it all day while I worked!)

Now this leads me to a very important point that I would like to see addressed by our elected officials. I believe that election day should be moved to a weekend, be it Saturday or Sunday is no matter, but the other important point is this, It should also be a Mandatory Federal Holiday, meaning that NO business may be conducted while the polls are open. A system that works very well in most other democracies in the world. This means that no registered voter has an excuse other than being hospitalized or kidnapped. As the oldest democracy in the world we are faced with some of the lowest voter turnouts. Why? Because too many people think that either it doesn't affect them, or that their vote doesn't matter. This is often attributable to the television news. Exit polls are truly the most hurtful thing to a democracy, because people hear that so and so is in the lead or so far behind, and they guess that their vote won't make a difference. I say this from experience, because I have worked with people who have used this exact argument.

I believe in the Constitution and all of the rights and freedoms afforded us by this document, but I am a very firm believer that with these freedoms and rights comes a certain level of responsibility, that frankly hasn't been exercised in a few decades. The press has become worse than religious crusaders in dumping scandal and excess on the front page to be consumed with our morning cereal. The more seedy the story the bigger the typeface. Along with the rudeness of the pundits, and the ignorance of the populace in general, these things add up to cake and circuses. Some wise person many years ago said that," a democracy will stand until such time as the people realize that they have the power to vote themselves cake and circuses." For some reason I think it may have been Mark Twain, but I'm not sure. But the point that he was making is that people tend to vote in their own interest, rather than in the interest of the country as a whole. How human of us! The sad part is that Politicians have grabbed unto this fact with a vengance, and the pork barrel rolls happily along. This is the biggest problem with career politicians. This is why I truly believe that politicians should be picked just like jurors.

Now my second suggestion is to get rid of every type of voting machine, Touch screen, and punch card and go back to a simple #2 Pencil, and a sheet of paper. There are few democracies in the world that vote any other way. In the United States, every state has a different system, and there is no standard, except that they are all insecure. And since they are insecure they can't be fully trusted. A glass box with a slot in the top, and a voter with a paper ballot is the most trustable thing in the world. A simple column with a square box beside each name. A box for the party you wish to have your vote counted from, and an X in each appropriate box. It has worked for centuries, and as the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Our world is gonna change one way or the other. The best thing anyone can do is to educate themselves abot what and who they are voting for. ( or against!) but don't go simply by the rhetoric of the campaign, visit websites of the candidates, and the referendums, and read up on the issues. Don't fall for the Karl Rove Doctrine, which is that any lie repeated often enough will be taken as the truth. The best website to visit is they sift through all the crude and corruption and give you the truth from both sides of the fence. They are truly non-partisan and that is the best thing that one can hope for in a research organization.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

root for the suit!

Jerry Seinfeld used to talk about sports fans and how they didn't root for the particular player as much as they rooted for the uniform worn by the player, because, he said, whenever a player was traded he was instantly the enemy. Even a longtime player for your team became no more than an enemy combatant once he put on a different uniform. Very few sports fans continue to follow a player who is traded, at least in team sports. Race fans however are a different breed of fan, you see, we root for the driver, no matter the sponsor, team owner, car manufacturer, or any of the million other variables in the racing world. We pick a driver, for whatever reason, and unless they retire or do something completely stupid we tend to stick with them for years, through winning and losing, through the politics of the sport, and through changes in teams, numbers, and sponsors. Think about the merchandising alone, there are generally 4 major sponsors for every car. The Marquee sponsor who gets the major paint scheme for most of the season and covers more than75 percent of the cost of the season. Then there are the secondary sponsors, who cover specific races, or functions of the team. These sponsors get their primetime paint job for their specific races or functions. Now a REAL fan will simply HAVE to have all the versions of the car, the T-shirts with all the sponsors, the various models and other clothes and ballcaps and gods know what. When the driver changes teams he generally changes numbers and sponsors, so it starts all over again. Perfect Examples in recent years is Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin. Jr. left his father's company to go with a new company, leaving his old sponsor and number with DEI. He went from the red #8 Bud car, to the green & white #88 Amp Energy car. Mark Martin in the last 4 years has gone from the #6 Viagra car, to "retirement" to part time driving to back to a full schedule at DEI in the #8 Army car. All the while holding his fan base who have been buying his merchandise and keeping him in plenty of gas and peanuts. Isn't America a cool place?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Why "troll"?

Some things about me that may interest anyone who feels like reading. I have done loads of different jobs over my life looking for that one thing that makes me happy and gets me paid. When I was in school I dreamed of being either a Hollywood stuntman, or a NASCAR driver. These were the two things that I wanted to do above all else. Then I thought maybe I wanted to be a Truck Driver. (yeah I watched BJ & The Bear, Have you figured out my age yet? ) When I got into high school I discovered 2 things that I was semi-decent at, and that might eventually make me some money, one was talking and the other was taking pictures. Along with the talking I have a primarily auditory memory and I love music, so I decided that I wanted to be a DJ, but I didn't want to be just any DJ, I wanted to work the overnight shift at a rock station. Where I grew up, the best station around had the best overnight guy I ever heard. He was Murdered a few years ago, but he was Unkle Rog. He was THE Coolest DJ in the world as far as I was concerned, and I wanted to be like him. Rumor has it that the Venus Flytrap character from "WKRP in Cincinnati" was modeled after Unk. I'll tell you more about him some other time, but for now back to my story.
So I wanted to be a DJ, now this was a time of transition in the radio business, they were done with the guys who walked in and started with a few weekend gigs and eventually made it to a regualr weekday/night gig. You were either "discovered" by someone in the business or you weaseled your way in as an intern. To be an intern, you needed to have a college course that was specifically geared toward the radio business, such as communications, or advertising. Plus you needed to have either a big bank account or a second job, because these internships were very rarely paid positions. Well I did my research and found out that a lot of the local radio guys liked this one particular titty bar, and I went and got a DJ job there. Long story short I was there for 4+ years and never got "discovered" Not for lack of trying, but because I didn't have the cutthroat attitude needed to get into radio, I'm just too damn nice. lol But while working there I did get my nickname. Here's how it happened:

There was a time in my life when I was dead set against scissors anywhere near my head, and I had LONG hair, at one time nearly down to my butt. Since my hair is naturally pin straight, I generally kept it tied back in a pony tail and I wore a hat most of the time. But me being me, I didn't where any old hat, I preferred cloth welders hats. If you are not familiar with a welders hat, they are special in that they come in bright colors, VERY bright colors! I had a large assortment of them once upon a time, now I am lucky if I know where I can find one or two, but anyways, back to my story. So I get this job working with nekkid babes, and music. Man I was in heaven! ( at least I thought so then!) So it's my first week working there and people are still trying to learn my name, and the day shift bartender was bad with names, (She could tell ya your drink in a heartbeat, but name? Not a chance!) So my second day, I was running behind, very uncharacteristically, and I forgot my hair tie, so it was sprawled out across my shoulders. One of the Dancers decided that she liked my hat, and wanted to wear it on stage, (It looked really cool under the balcklight. ) so who am I to deny a half nekkid babe? I let her borrow my hat. Have you ever pulled a blanket across your head and heard that static crackle? Now look in the mirrow, and see you hair standing on end! Imagine LONG hair static-ed out and sticking up everywhere. This was me in my little DJ booth. The Bartender needed to get my hours for the next day's schedule, and she couldn't remember my name, when she came around the corner she saw me with my hair all static and climbing up the wall and I bopped around in my booth, and she immediately thought of the little troll dolls that were all the rage at the time. She instantly called me DJ Troll, and it stuck, in less than three days, everyone in the places was calling me DJ Troll. I didn't mind it and in time I grew to actually enjoy it.

Jump ahead ten years, and I was no longer a DJ, I was now a maintenance guy in a factory, and since I didn't like most people to know my name I stuck with troll and even had it printed on my uniform nametags. I was troll and everyone knew who I was. There was no mistaking me for any of the dozen or so Karls and Carls walking around the place. Jump ahead another few years, and now I am discovering the wonders of the internet. Wow, there was all this knowledge and other interesting stuff, but I needed an alias of the crazy axe killers would hunt me down and kill me in my sleep! AAAHHH! OOH, I know I'll be troll. Already taken. troll69,( hehehe) taken. troll1967.... nope, trollpiano? YES, I could use that one, Since I love the piano, and play somewhat, it worked for me. Now I had me an alias that I could use around the internet. I wasn't thinking about the personals at that time, D'Oh! Oh well. So time goes by and I use a few different versions of the troll calls sign, trolleolleo, trollburger, and tragictroll. Now I have a job doing shipping and receiving, and Receiving troll just doesn't sound right, so I decided to go with shipping troll. It works and it seems to be fairly unique, so I will use it for now. Maybe someday in the future I can be "movie troll" or the one I really want, "travel troll".