Tuesday, June 29, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: A bottle of anything and a glazed donut

Independence Day is right around the corner, the birthday of our republic and my personal favorite holiday.

It's easy after the last couple of decades to get down on America. Certainly she's taken her kicks to the stomach. She may not be as beautiful as she was when she was young. Her skin isn't as smooth. Wrinkles and cracks have appeared after a couple of centuries of abuse. Her breasts are sagging a bit from the years of feeding all of her children. Age spots are popping up, especially around the gulf area.

And although American may not be the world leader she once was — relinquishing some of her power and prestige to a few Eastern debutantes — as far as I'm concerned it's still a pretty damn good place.

Anyway, I can't think of a place I'd rather live.

So while it may be difficult, even unfashionable, to come up with new love songs for America these days, here's a classic lust song for our country from one D.L. Roth, arguably the best American poet of the last century.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Demon nights

So I'm laying in bed, fast asleep at the quiet dark hour of 3:30 this morning when suddenly and without provocation a demon from the very pits of hell sneaks up on me and jabs his white hot pitchfork deeply into the muscles of my right calf.

Laughing like pure malevolent evil, the archfiend began to rotate his blistering fiery pitchfork of maleficence as if to draw my eternal soul out of each fiber of my triceps surae like so much hell bound spaghetti.

Some how, some way I was able stifle a bone chilling scream that would have roused all of the people in our house, our neighborhood — even the entire city — by grunting loudly through clenched teeth.

Bolting upright in bed and gasping, I clutched at the monkey fist that my muscles had become, trying in vain to rub the knot out and relieved the pain.

I jumped out of bed, my foot twisted by the cramp into a spastic, crippled claw. I stood on the floor and leaned against the bedpost using my body weight to force the muscle to stretch. After a minute or two that seemed like centuries, the calf muscles released their contraction and I began to breathe easier.

Sweat dripping from my forehead, I sat down and massaged my leg, which had ceased to be excruciating and was now merely aching. Eventually I returned to a fitful sleep, restless in the knowledge that just one wrong move would summon the charlie horse demons again.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Read This: Real Heroes Don't Let You Down

Back when I first started this blog one of the things I liked to do was point to other great blogs I'd come across.

I kind of got away from that for some stupid reason. It's too bad, because I think that's one to the best things about the blogging format. Anycrap, this post is an attempt to return to that. I plan on making it a regular category (well, as regular as things get around here anyway).

So I wanted to point you all over to Lodo's blog Lodo Grdzak Stays Put And Watches the World Go Round. He has recently posted a really great series titled Real Heroes Don't Let You Down, in which he recounts his 10-year epic quest to commune with one of his heroes…
You can never count on people. Doesn’t matter who they are: political leaders, legendary athletes, best friends, favorite artists; at some point, everybody lets you down.

But I still have my heroes. At 43 years old you may find that comical or pathetic, but I don’t care. I’m a secular person--heroes guide my life. That’s all I’ve got. So I read their books, listen to their music; study their lives and how they've handled their big moments.
This is a great series in five short parts. It's very engaging, well written and paced. A real gem that you guys should check out.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Summer cold remedy

From what I'm hearing the summer cold season has started in earnest. In my opinion, summer colds are the worst kind because not only do you have to put up with the coughing, congestion, runny nose, aches, pains and fevers, you have to deal with this during 105-degree 105 percent humidity days.

Luckily, I haven't contracted the summer cold yet, but it's really only a matter of time. As a public service to my coworkers and cotwitterers who are fighting this disease already, I'm sharing my recipe for my favorite remedy -- a little concoction I like to call NyquiFed.

All you do is take two hits of Sudafed (or your pseudoephedrine of choice) and chase it with a double shot Cherry NyQuil (the original stuff, not that worthless non-drowsy daytime shit).

Next, put on Just Dropped In by Kenny Rogers, sink back into your couch and enjoy the ride.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Bullitt list -- 06.21.10

Today's category: Watching the watchmen

As we make the government more responsible for our everyday lives (food, shelter, health care, etc.) it stands to reason that it will require a more aggressive police force to, well, enforce all the rules we as a country have been begging for.

Well, welcome to the future…
  • A group headed by the National Hispanic Media Coalition has requested that the FCC launch a probe to monitor hate speech and "misinformation" online. They say the FCC should gather and catalog information about who uses hate speech, when and where, then turn that information over to the NHMC so that they can "hold the media accountable" for hate speech.

    Aside from the obvious First Amendment violation this suggests (not that we actually care about the Bill of Rights anymore), this is a good example about being careful what you wish for.

    Often, a police state isn't forced upon a society, at least not initially. What happens is that through fear and ignorance, a group will demand the the government protect them from whatever bogeyman du jour they perceive to be out there. Then, too late, they realize they've given up their liberty in exchange for the illusion of security.

  • Luckily, we live in a republic that recognizes certain inalienable rights that protects us from abuses of the state. Of course, just because those rights are inalienable, doesn't mean they can't be watered down.

    The highest court in the land got into the act recently when it declared that if you remain, then you give up your right to remain silent. Any watcher of TV cop drama's is pretty familiar with the Miranda Rights. I bet most of you could say it right off the top of your head.
    You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?
    Until a few days ago, the only way you could waive this right was to expressly say that you waive your right. Now the only way you can exercise your right to remain silent is to break your silence to expressly affirm that right. In other words, your Fifth Amendment (there's that pesky Bill of Rights again) right not to incriminate doesn't exist if you don't say it does.

    As my friend Joel rightly put it, police now get to assume you don't want your Constitutional rights. Makes trampling on the public that much easier, I guess.

  • You know what else makes it easy to keep the plebs under your boot heel? Tasers, baby!

    That's right, another court ruling has established precedence that will allow your local stormtroopers to indiscriminately Taser your ass for something as harmless not wearing a seat belt while driving and wearing only boxer shorts and sneakers.

    Now granted, Tasing is probably better than having a cop pop a cap in you half-naked ass. And even I'll admit to seeing a bit of humor in the over use of the Taser in the past. But come on people, am I the only one who thinks its a bit of an over reaction to Taser these hippies? I know they smell bad, but I suspect this ruling might have turned our different if it had been caught on camera…

  • …Then again, maybe it wouldn't. Another disturbing trend is that more and more people are being arrested simply for … taking pictures. In public areas… Where you would have no expectation of privacy… But there are police there.

    And this is one of the scariest developments in our nascent police state. Not only is the government using abusive tactics and ignoring constitutional rights, but now they are trying to criminalize the documentation of those abuses.
    A few weeks ago, an Illinois judge rejected a motion to dismiss an eavesdropping charge against Christopher Drew, who recorded his own arrest for selling one-dollar artwork on the streets of Chicago. Although the misdemeanor charges of not having a peddler's license and peddling in a prohibited area were dropped, Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.
    Look, I respect good police officers and I'm grateful for the work that they do. But in my opinion, the clear sign of an abusive officer is if they are afraid to be seen doing what they do. How else could this kind of law be interpreted other than to protect officers who abuse their authority?

    Kind of makes you want to right your congresscritter to complain. But that might not be such a good idea…

  • You see, in a police state your best course of action is to stay low and try to maintain your anonymity. But that won't be so easy is some lawmakers have their way.

    A bill sponsored by New Mexico Democrat Harry Teague aims to use the Federal budget bribes to get states to collect DNA samples from ANYONE who is ARRESTED and put them in a national database.

    It doesn't matter if the person is charged, or even acquitted. Merely being brought "down to the station." This is some next level, pre-crime Minority Report meets 1984 meets Blade Runner type shit.

    Think of the message this is sending:

    "Okay kids, think what we want you to think, snitch on your friends, don't take pictures or we'll Taser your ass, haul you downtown and your DNA will be ours for the rest of your life."

    Sounds like Utopia to me.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Random Photo XXXII: First quarter moon

I went out earlier this evening to try to get some decent photo's of the bright first quarter moon. This is one of the best results.

The moon is a fickle creature, and you pretty much have to shoot in manual mode to get the exposure right. That's okay, because I should really be shooting in manual most of the time anyway.

But I'm pretty pleased with this. In retrospect I should have gone for more depth of field, but I was more concerned with catching the proper lighting. Something to think about next time, though.

First quarter moon, 06.19.2010 (click to enlarge)

As always, your constructive criticism is appreciated.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Spillicious

Well, we're way passed the 50-day mark with this oil spill business and it's enough to cause a Chief Executive to drop expletives in public.

I've still got the germ of a post about this mess in my head. Not sure if it will ever be published, but I did like this video peak at the internal workings of a British Petroleum board room.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

After the rain

I have this weird kind of obsession that hits whenever we have these really hard rains like we've had the week or two.

It goes back to the first house we owned in the Roeland Park area. Every time a gully-gusher came through, I would get water in the (partially finished) basement. No matter what I did to try to stem the tide, water somehow found its way in during hard rains. It got to the point where whenever it rained more than a little bit, I was walking around the house with an umbrella and heading down to the basement to make sure it was still dry. It could start raining at 3 o'clock in the morning and I would get up to check things out.

The trouble is that when we moved, the obsession didn't stay at our old address. I still have dreams, on particularly stormy nights, about getting up to clear clogged gutters in the middle of a storm, or Shop-vac out a river of water flowing through the basement.

Last night was no exception. The rain was falling hard when I fell asleep between thunder claps that sounded like they were right on top of our house. I had a dream that a water pipe in our clothes closet was leaking with a "drip, drip, drip" sound. In my dream, I saw the leak getting worse. The more I tried to tighten the joints, the worse the leak became. Our clothes were getting wet and moldy and still the water kept coming.

When I woke up, I could still hear the "drip, drip, drip." Obviously, I knew it couldn't be from a water pipe in our clothes closet. They don't put water pipes in there. But I could hear the dripping and it wasn't letting up. As the fog of sleep cleared, I realized that the ceiling fan in our bedroom was out of balance it it was making regular clicking sound that my stupid subconscious had incorporated as a leaky pipe into another water nightmare.

Driving to work, I saw that my nightmare was the least of the damage related to the storms.

The little park at 97th and Roe, next to a storm water creek, was caught in a flash flood. The playground equipment was still there, but the picnic table was gone downstream. And the timber frame containing the wood chips has been washed out of position.

About a block and a half south, I what water damage can really do to a basement that's too close to a storm water creek. About half of the wall for a lower level room had been washed away and there appeared to be pretty severe damage to the garage doors (and presumably the garage itself).

Lots of people in the neighborhood were pumping water out of basements and garages. One guy had moved everything out of his garage and onto his driveway to dry.

I hope it doesn't rain on him again.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Anyone else?

I'm really having trouble being interested in anything these days. Is it just me?

I have some thoughts on the most recent gulf oil spill and college athletic conference realignment, but I don't know whether I can summon the focus to make what passes for a coherent post around here.

As for politics and economy, I've pretty much blown my wad as far as that goes. There are only so many ways to say we're screwed.

Ah well. Guess I'll just keep my eyes and ears and mind open. Surely something will seep in. In the meantime, keep those Viagra spam comments coming.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

YouTube Tuesday: Rip out all the epilogues

This song came up on my iPod's shuffle this morning, and I've had it stuck in my head all day.

I like the tune. I haven't done a deep deconstruction of what Bright Eyes is saying, but to me it's about trying to look at the bright side of our steep cultural decline, kind of a silver lining approach to hitting rock bottom.

Of course I could be way off on that. I have a history of totally misreading this kind of thing.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Random Photo XXXI: Cloudscape

The thing about spring storms is that they can bring some pretty dramatic sky's. For better and worse.

This shot was taken from the top of a parking garage in southern Overland Park.
Click to enlarge.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Can able

A few years back my favorite convenience store chain, QuikTrip, removed 12-ounce cans of soda from their coolers.

Oh sure, they still stocked the big 12 packs of 12-ounce cans, but you couldn't buy a single, cold 12-ounce Mountain Dew from the refrigerator case anymore. Coupled with that, they also removed the 12-ounce cups from their soda fountain.
So, if you wanted to buy a nice refreshing soda beverage, basically had to commit to drinking 22 ounces of carbonated sugar water to quench your thirst and spike your triglyceride levels.

Round about this same time, I noticed that the break rooms where I work removed virtually all of the 12-ounce soda options from the vending machines. You basically were limited to Coke or Diet Coke if you wanted a 12-ouncer.

So yeah, it sucked. I basically chalked it up to another conspiracy hatched by the soda-industrial complex designed to force us to buy more MellowYellow than we actually want. It's just another step in making Americans fatter and lazier and easier to manipulate when leading them to the slaughter.

Now fast-forward to a year or so ago when I started to see small cans of soda appear on supermarket shelves. Finally, I thought, some of my domestic sleeper operatives in key government regulatory agencies are getting something useful done (aside from the "substance abuse and promiscuity" of some of my agents. I tell ya, good help is hard to find these days).

Now I don't want to take all the credit for soft drink makers putting these more reasonably sized portions back on the shelves. I think it's important to give credit where it's due, and I'd like to encourage the bottlers to sell these smaller 7.5 ounce cans in more locations, including the vending machines in my office.

There are several good reasons why they should.
For one thing, most of us don't want to drink 20 ounces of soda at a time. If you're like me (and god help you if you are, you poor bastard), you typically leave about a third of the soda in a typical 20-ounce bottle unconsumed, only to throw it away when you get to the office the next morning.

This is just wasteful. Forget about the number of plastic bottles that are littering the landfills and creating a floating island of plastic out in the Pacific Ocean, do you know what all that acidic, carbonated sugar water can do to your office trash can when it spills in there? It's a gawdawful mess is what it is!

And then there's the whole nutritional side of things. Not only do we not want a whopping 20 ounces of soda, we shouldn't drink that much anyway. It's just not good for you.

Granted, we all have to drink soda because of the addictive additives used by the secret cabal of high-fructose corn syrup producers (of which Ted Turner is the reigning imperator, btw) to control the population. But it's a well known scientific FACT that we don't need more than about six ounces to maintain our minimum levels of mind-control substances. Anything beyond that and you're just adding weight around your middle. And nobody needs that. Am I right, people?

But there is one reason, above all others, why we need to keep these "mini" cans on store shelves. There is one benefit above all, one advantage beyond the health and environmental advantages, of buying these 7.5-ounce cans.

I love the way they make me feel like a giant when I'm holding one.

They're just so darned cute!

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