The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spontaneous? I don't think so

We know that the video trailer for the film "Innocence of Muslims" is at the heart of the anger in the Middle East and elsewhere. There are protests and attacks on U.S. embassies all over the region.

The administration blamed the video for all the unrest, including the attack on our consulate in Libya where the ambassador and 3 others were killed. Well, they did originally... calling it a protest that got out of hand. We now know that isn't so, that the attack was planned. Unless, of course, you believe that the protesters carried rocket-propelled grenade launchers and mortors around with them... as well as automatic weapons.

Let's look back at that video and movie. It was shown in a theater in Los Angeles in June and was pretty much ignored. It was then posted on Youtube on the first of July. It still was pretty much ignored. In September, a radical Islamist had it dubbed into Arabic and began showing it on a local TV channel in Cairo. It still took a few days before protests began. Oddly, they began on September 11... anything familiar about that date?

First, Cairo blew up in protest with crowds attacking the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Followed by the attack on the consulate in Benghazi in Libya.

I think the radical Islamist found the video and took advantage of it to rile the people and start the unrest. And I think he did it as a "cover" for the planned attack on the Libyan consulate.

Yeah, the making of the film was stupid. But we have, in this nation, the right to be stupid and the right to express that stupidity. We should not apologize for that and we shouldn't let something like this cause us to restrict that right.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I am a bit curious

I really do want to know... Do you think the media is biased?  I don't think there's a question that various quasi-media blogs lean heavily liberal or conservative. But I am not asking about them. I am asking about the so-called "mainstream" media.

Let's ignore cable news organizations and foreign news services. Some of these are, some aren't. Let's stick to major city newspapers, national TV networks, and news magazines. New York Times, L.A. Times, and Washington Post, Wall Street Journal for newspapers. ABC, NBC, CBS for national TV networks. And Time, US News and World Report, Business Week, and Newsweek.

How would you rate these?

Now, assuming you rate these on one side or the other, how do you rate what they choose to report? That is, do you think they tend to suppress news not favorable to their point of view and play up news that is favorable?

And do you allow them to influence your opinion?

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I am not funky but I am in a funk. I am no longer hip but I once followed those hippie ways.

What I really am is older. And I am feeling it. I have aches that I once ignored but now seem unable to. I have less teeth and less hair than I once did. I am waiting for the wisdom that comes with age but often feel dumber.

In short, getting older is not what it was cracked up to be.

It's all a lie. A vicious, evil, lie. 

"If I'd known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."  [Eubie Blake]

My body is in rebellion. I didn't think I had taken much of a pounding over my life but I sure feel like it of late. Sure, I fell out of trees, off bicycles and motorcycles, had an car accident or two, fell down a ladder, jumped off a few roofs, but didn't we all?

Maybe I am feeling other people's aches and pains.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Being re-visited

Not much to write about. No disruptions in my life, no amusing anecdotes to relate, no outrages to fulminate over. Boring, that's what it is. My life, I mean.

A guy showed up at my door the other day. He's a financial adviser. He had stopped by a few years ago and that prompted us to visit him regarding what we should do with some money we had managed to squirrel away. We didn't like his advice. We didn't dislike it either, it just didn't seem to be what we wanted to do.

He seemed to be mostly interested in wresting my company 401K away from its seemingly safe location at another financial institution and investing it in an IRA with his company. It isn't a lot of money, trust me, but that didn't seem to matter. He called, weekly at first and then monthly, to check whether we had considered coming in again and starting an account. Until I asked him not to call again, that we would contact him if we changed our minds.

I had almost forgotten about him but here he was at my door again. We chatted for a bit and I found he seemed to have no more interesting advice than he had a few years ago.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Coffee brain

I sometimes just have a jumble of thoughts in my mind. Barely related, if at all, and without much meaning to anyone but me. I suspect I am not alone in this. I suspect that we all hide our innermost thoughts. Not because they might offend (though they might) but because we fear ridicule.

I had some thoughts about coffee this morning as I filled my cup. Snippets of the "Java Jive" ran through my head. No doubt leaving little brown stains here and there.

I like coffee and tea. I learned many years ago that I can over overindulge, however. I worked that old graveyard shift (midnight to 8 AM) and swilled coffee all night long. I would shift back to normal hours on the weekends and often woke up on Saturday morning with massive headaches. These would disappear with the first (or second) cup of coffee at breakfast. I read somewhere about caffeine deprivation headaches and decided to cut back.

Eventually I settled on no more than two cups per shift and the Saturday morning headaches went away. I rarely exceed that even now.

Monday, September 24, 2012

How do you say that in...

I would like to learn another language but I fear I will never be successful. I have tried, a few times, to learn enough Spanish to get by but I always fall short. It's a good language and is useful. It will get even more useful in the future as we have a growing Hispanic population. The grammar gets to me, though, much different then English.

I tried German back when I was in my teens... got nowhere, of course. A reasonably efficient language, I think. And I like efficiency, though I am not... efficient, that is.

I admire German, Spanish, and Italian... Russian is simply beyond me, as are Greek and Arabic and most of the Asian languages, French seems to be a nice language but the pronunciation seems lazy somehow. Like it was once formal and clipped but the speakers got lazy over time and began to mumble or slur the words.

I have great respect for anyone who speaks more than one language fluently enough to be understood. One language is just not enough, I think, and knowing two (or more) shows a mental ability I apparently don't have.

A young woman from Switzerland once remarked to a friend of mine that she had studied English for 5 years. My friend responded that he had studied it for 12 years and she seemed to have a better grasp of it than he.

There are various myths about how languages developed in different regions. I am sure there are many theories about language development. I have my own, of course, and it is based on genetics defining how sounds are made (timbre, tone, and so on) coupled with isolation of tribes in man's earliest history, followed by the expansion of tribes into other tribes' territory which results in the blending of words. Word meanings are merely agreed upon sound groupings for an idea... nouns, verbs, etc. Think about it, why does "tree" mean what it does? How does that sound (actually, group of sounds) denote a large thing with leaves, branches, and roots?

Linguists would probably laugh at me and my ignorance.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A necessity for us

On Monday, I published a post about the First Amendment. Specifically about freedom of speech. We bloggers, perhaps more than almost anyone else, should have a good understanding of that right.

The reason I wrote it was because of some comments and "debates" in a forum somewhere on the subject that said, to me, that a number of people simply do not understand the concept of freedom of speech in this country.

The USA is unique, I think, in respecting that right. Many other countries, even some of those we think of as "free" and democratic and protective of rights, do not stand as solidly behind freedom of speech as the US does.  I think we forget that or maybe we do not believe it. And I think many of us here in the States do not really understand how it is done here.

One of the comments brought up corporations as being opposed to free speech because of non-disclosure agreements, another brought up gag orders by judges. Neither of these are covered under the First Amendment but these commenters thought they were.

The First Amendment (indeed, all of the "Bill of Rights") defines restrictions upon Congress. Not the president, not the judiciary, not corporations, not any entity except our legislative body. For instance, that First Amendment clearly states "Congress shall make no law". There's the potential for abuse by executive and the judicial branches by their omission but the courts have helped restrain themselves as well as some of the regulatory agencies of the executive branch. The point of the First was to ensure no permanent control
, no law, abridging or restricting speech (or press) could be established.

Corporations can restrict that freedom of speech of its employees. Corporations do not pass laws which affect the general population. A judge's gag order only lasts until the trial is over. Someone else brought up the suppression of revealing the details of a settlement but that is clearly entered into by both parties as a condition of the settlement, it is not arbitrarily imposed by the court nor by any branch of government.

I have been in the military and they can, and do, impose restrictions on the speech of their members. I have worked for a couple (three, actually) large corporations and they imposed restrictions on the speech of their employees. And they are legally allowed to.

There is one other thing I think is widely misunderstood. The Constitution does not give us our rights, it protects them against the greatest threat to them: the government.

Ask yourself whether you understand your rights, especially that right of freedom of speech. Question your assumptions.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Shove that Dish where the sun don't shine

I have now had two phony commenters. Both for Dish Network, both using the EXACT SAME WORDING to push both Dish and one of their featured products. I will begin comment approval if I get one more. I am also sending off a complaint to Dish Network about this practice.

Speaking of Dish Network, let me explain why I dumped them. The signal went from weak to worst. All that was needed was a small cloud somewhere in the sky to interrupt the signal. The price kept increasing and they charged me $5 a month MORE if I didn't have a phone line connected to their box. What was the importance of that phone line? Not to update any programming, upgrade/update any software, or provide me with any actual improvement to service or reliability. No, it was only to make it easier for me to order Pay-Per-View features. In other words, I was paying $5 a month because I refused a "convenience."

It is not up to me to tell you what TV service you should use or not use. That is up to you. But any comment that mentions Dish or any other service by name will be deleted.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Curse you, Reality!

I sometimes wonder about people. That's not true... I always wonder about people. Not just about the spelling of a word that's pronounced "pee-pul" but about human beings.

I watched a show on the Discovery Channel the other night (after DVR'ing it so I could skip commercials) called Stephen Hawking's Grand Design. The episode was "The Meaning of Life"

Too much to go into here (read the site to which the link above takes you).  I will only say I have always thought each person has his/her own reality and that our collective reality is what we generally agree on. More or less.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

They just don't listen, do they?

The following story is true, as best as I can relate it from memory. It might, therefore, be a bit biased in my favor. It might explain why I am often considered "The Patient From Hell."

It was July of 1998, I believe, when I went to the Emergency Room at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center with a respiratory problem. I was evaluated and found to have a 61% O2 saturation level. It took 3 Nebulizer treatments in the ER before I was deemed stable enough to be moved to a room. Both my primary care physician (PCP) and my infectious disease specialist were there to comfort me. I noted some hint of fear in their eyes.

As I lay in that bed with the two of them being sympathetic and nervous, I inquired of my PCP whether I could be given one of the newer antihistamines during my stay... to try it out. I do not recall the name... might have been Clarinex. In any event, he okayed it. I woke up the next morning after as restful a sleep as one can have in a hospital (2 hour-interval nurse visits, automatic BP tests every 15 minutes). I felt pretty good though my chest felt tight. I drew a deep breath. I am a shallow breather when I sleep so one of the things I do upon waking is to breathe deeply. It felt like my lungs were on fire. Very painful. The feeling lasted for maybe 30 minutes, gradually waning until it was tolerable.

When my PCP showed up around 10 or so, I questioned him about the known side effects and told him about the burning sensation. To be fair, this was not the first time I have had this reaction to antihistamines. We are all a little different and I tend to dry up from antihistamines (which is, after all, their purpose) but I seem to overdo it somewhat. Oddly, after a few doses/days, they tend to lose their effectiveness for me. He flat out denied this was a side effect of the drug. He almost sneered at me while doing so... as if to say "What do you, a mere patient, know? After all, I have spent years being schooled in my profession and internship." 

This did not sit well with me. So I politely asked him to fetch the PDR (Physician's Desk Reference) from the nurse's station. This he did, which almost surprised me, but doctors are usually (over) confident in their knowledge.

I searched for, and found, the medication and read the side effects while he talked and busied himself with minor things doctors do to impress us. Listed in the possible side effects, I found a reference to "inflammation" and a "tightness" of the lungs. It was among the "rare" effects reported. That "rare" is always a relative term. For the patient who experiences the side effect, it is not actually "rare". A bit like a weather report predicting a 10% chance of rain so you plan your picnic and get drenched.

A few moments later, he dismissed my concerns that he might be misdiagnosing my condition since we hadn't seen much (practically no) progress over the last year and a half or so. He did this in one of those condescending manners that doctors are probably taught at med school. After all, he studied medicine for at least 8 years, followed by another 4 years as an intern (and possibly resident) before joining his partner's practice. He had seen me for 15 minutes at a time perhaps 10 or 12 times over the past 18 months or so and I had only lived in my body for some 52 years. What could I possibly know?

I "fired" him. I told him to leave the room and not return again. That I would be switching back to his partner, Dr. Stern, as soon as I left the hospital and that I did not care to hear his voice or see his face again.

As I recall, he would scowl at me whenever we chanced to cross paths at the office.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Just whose fault is it?

It's strange how different people perceive things. I read this little opinion piece the other day on the NY Times website. And it made me wonder...

Dear Bankers...

When I was young, I often heard the following: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." The letters reminded me of that saying. They also reminded me of something that my mother and my father seemed to want me to understand... "Life ain't fair."

I have had bumps and bruises from time to time as I plodded along the road of life. None were serious injuries, I don't think, because I just picked myself up and kept on. After all, what else was there to do? There's a phrase you'll hear among my friends (we're all getting on in years) from time to time when one of us complains about his health... "Beats the alternative." It's said in jest, of course, because... well, how do we know?

I feel sorry for folks who life seems to have beaten down. I cannot imagine their disappointment at how things have turned out for them. I understand why they would like to blame someone else's greed or good fortune for their troubles. I just never could do it. My parents would never let me. Every time I got into trouble or had a bad day, they reminded me that "life ain't fair" and that I make my own choices.

Now, when I was in the Navy, I sure didn't make my own choices. Someone else was in charge. Someone higher up always made the decisions about where I would be, what I would be doing most of the time. I certainly was not in charge. And then I would tell myself (in my father's voice) that I was the one who enlisted, that I was the one who chose to sign up, that I was the one who put myself in the hands of those in charge. So, ultimately, I was responsible for where I was and where I was going.

I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

Monday, September 17, 2012

But I will defend to the death your right to say it

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Why did I post this? Because recent events have shown me there is a lack of understanding by many American citizens just what it means. Some of these citizens appear to be generally thought of as "leaders."

In so many countries around the world, this amendment contains something completely foreign to them. Something called Freedom of Speech. We cherish it here. Or, rather, we should but do not. We are vexed by it, we resent it at times, we resent those who defend it... at times. But we also demand it for ourselves. Or, actually, demand what we think it is for ourselves while wishing to deprive others of it.

And, I admit, I viewed it that way myself once.

Simply put, Freedom of Speech is the right to speak one's mind and not have to worry about being put in jail. Some people think it is the right to talk back to your employer, to call people names, to insult others. It really isn't those things.

At one time, it only applied to political speech. Here's a good explanation of how it was viewed at the time of the First Amendment's adoption:

Freedom of speech and of the press served one purpose in America: To remove the fear of the common law doctrine of seditious libel so citizens could freely speak or publish without license their grievances against public policy or conduct of public officials. One of the distasteful things found under the common law was the government practice of criminalizing or shielding itself through requiring license to publish of any criticism it felt made people dissatisfied with their government or government established religion.

During the early years of this nation, books were banned and speech was curtailed... not because they criticized the government or political leaders but because they were deemed salacious or socially unacceptable. Pornography in art and letters, for example, was banned without any concern that this was an infringement of speech. It was only in the last century that these bans were deemed unconstitutional. And there was much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth as these bans were lifted. Many saw the bans as necessary in order to prevent the fall of social cohesion and decency.

But the courts decided that all speech was protected, not just some.

What the protestors throughout the Muslim world do not understand is our culture and its view of speech. We are asked by our leaders to understand why other cultures feel such strong offense by written words, attitudes, movies, even cartoons.

Yet our leaders need to ask (perhaps demand) those other cultures  respect our culture, or understanding, our feelings of offense. Respect should be given to other cultures but it should also be given to ours. Equally.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Time to stand up, I think

When I was a young man in the Navy and we were embroiled in the war in Vietnam, the anti-war folks had a saying of sorts. You'd see it on their protest signs, on T-shirts, and various other places. It went like this:

What if they gave a war and nobody came?

Although I was young and stupid, I could easily see the logical flaw in that.

Well, it has come to pass... "They" have given a war and we have not shown up.  You see, it will never happen that nobody will show up. Ever heard of a party where the host felt it was a failure because "nobody came?" Somebody showed up, maybe only a small number but it became their party, not the host's. And that is exactly what would happen with war. Someone will show up and they will end up the winners.

Japan and Germany did this in the 30's... they went to war and the other side didn't show up. Did they stop waging war? No. They widened their war, they expanded their aggression, they sought more and more. They were emboldened.

We would rather that people not be like this, not be war like. But that is fantasy. People are war like, they are aggressive. And they are encouraged by success.

It is long past time that we recognized this. It cost us a "bloody nose" at Pearl Harbor before we showed up in 1941.  It took that attack to wake us up. I would have thought 9/11/2001 would have done it this time around.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Digital rip-off?

I just want to know why? Why are digital books more expensive than paperbacks?

The authors write them on computers. Then submit them from those computers. The publishers store them on computers. Then print them from computers. If I buy a digital book, I get it from a computer; either the publisher's computer or a reseller's computer.

Yes, I realize this all takes people and overhead. But... c'mon... this is ridiculous. Short stories (usually under 100 pages) are often $1.99. Same amount of overhead, somewhat less storage space. Why can't a full novel in digital form cost less than a paperback?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Society is going downhill, don't you agree?

There are many things I do not understand. The older I get (and I do hope to get even older), the more things I do not understand. But I do understand advertising. After all, I am of the first TV generation. We got our first TV when I was 5 or 6. And, of course, I became the dark silhouette in the middle of the rather small screen. The one my father complained about... often.

I observed over the years the growth in number and subtlety of TV advertising. At one time, only 8 minutes of an hour show was commercials. Today? 18 minutes. That's the official commercials. They've also embedded commercials within the show itself.

Last night, for example, I was watching "White Collar" and one of the characters showed off a feature (an option, to be sure, and one you will pay heavily for as part of a "package") of a car (I will not mention the maker or the model). This is not the first time, it is happening more and more. I suppose that is to be expected. After all, in this age of DVR, people are finding ways to avoid commercials as never before.

Faye and I almost never watch a show in "real time" anymore. We record all our favorite shows and start them 18 to 20 minutes after they begin. That way, we can fast forward through the commercials. The advertisers know this and probably do it themselves. So now they stick the ads into the show itself.

I noticed back in the 50's that there were only Fords in TV shows that had Ford as an advertiser. It was easy to notice. A street full of Fords? Parked along the street and going up and down? As an aside, have you ever noticed that no car seemed to have a rear view mirror? You always had a clear view of the people in the front seat... and the two people sat much closer than they did in actual cars of the time. Cars are much narrower now so it is not as obvious.

I see no way around this... or the advertisements we are forced to sit through when we go to a movie theater now.

This is not progress.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Waiting on the next crash

Do you gamble? I don't mean slot machines or cards or roulette wheels, I mean real gambling. I mean the stock market. It's slow motion (most of the time) and seemingly senseless.

I dabble. That is, I gamble in the market like I used to do in junior high (when we pitched nickels and played poker around Christmas time), just a little bit and only with money I don't really need. For a few years, I found cheap and volatile stocks that I could realize quick gains in a few days... nothing much long term. The problem was that I could also realize quick losses in the same amount of time. A bit like bellying up to the craps table in a casino.

My mother loved to roll the dice but she didn't like to gamble that much. She had an amazing talent to keep the dice "in the air". She'd roll for 15 or 20 minutes sometimes without making her point or crapping out. Bettors at the table loved her. But I digress...

Now I look for high dividend stocks. Some of them are risky, REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) especially. The higher the dividend the greater the risk, it seems. I do not understand how REITs make the money they do. According to the news, banks aren't lending much and, when they do, the rates they charge are historical lows. Yet, they are paying dividends in the 6-15% range.

And, right now, they seem popular.

But don't listen to me... I could be in the poorhouse tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In the rocket science "Oops!" department...

In all the excitement over the Curiosity rover on Mars, it appears that some of the scientists working on it decided to make sure that the rover did not have to load a drill bit. They attached one before launch.

What's the big deal, you say? A possible contamination with Earth microbes. The bit used had been sterilized, of course, but it was supposed to stay in its box and that would ensure that it would not pick up a stray microbe before the Curiosity landed on Mars.

Let me quote from an article in Newsday:

But that changed after engineers grew concerned that a rough landing could damage the rover and the drill mechanism. They decided to open the box and mount one bit in the drill as a hedge to ensure success of one of the most promising scientific tools aboard Curiosity. The drill is to bore into rocks looking for clues that life could have existed on the planet. Even if a damaged mechanism couldn’t load a drill bit, at least the rover would have one ready to go.

And they didn't tell the scientist in charge of the project.

I am not a scientist (and I don't even play one on TV) but it seems to me that the rover was in a "clean room" up until it was loaded on the rocket. And, even then, would have been protected against contamination during and after the loading.

I think the chances of actual contamination are pretty much worse than my chances of winning the Lotto.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Yeah, I've already said this

I'm a cynic. I've told you this before... more than once. Maybe too often. I can't help being a cynic, it's genetic. At least, that's my excuse. Nothing in my life has ever even hinted to me that it's wrong to be cynical. Being cynical is beneficial.

Cynicism protects you from:
Swindlers, card sharps, salesmen, and gold diggers.

Cynicism does not help you with:
Friends, bargains, and great opportunities.

I figure that's a fair trade-off. Any cynic would. 

I am contemplating making some changes here. Perhaps shorter posts and posting them randomly. I got very little feedback about the comment system (only one comment) but you could have guessed I was leaning toward scrapping Disqus and I have done so.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Is it over? Can we come out now?

Ahhhh! The conventions are over and we get to move on to the meat of the election. The conventions are simply the longest (and most annoying) of the campaign ads. We can now tune them out, DVR everything and Fast Forward through them.

I was thinking about how I became a conservative as I drove home from Biloxi the other day. Reagan had a line... "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Party left me." My transition was something like that.

When I was a liberal, it was the late 60's. The liberal mantra was all about getting government intrusion out of our lives. Let us live as we please, stop invading our bedrooms, quit judging our lifestyles. Now, the liberal mindset is much the opposite and demands intrusion by the government and supporting those lifestyles with the taxes of others.

I think most people in this country only want government intrusion when there's a natural disaster or a major downturn in the economy. On the latter, they seem to approve of bailouts for themselves only.... which they never get.

That's the problem with allowing government to intrude; it is never the way you want them to. You want them to help the little guy but he's hard to find. From the homeless guy on the street to the small businessman who wants less paperwork and lower taxes, the "little guy" would like to be left alone. But we want the government there to help us rebuild after a hurricane and to grant us low interest loans to add to the insurance payouts. We want the government to do most of the cleanup. But once that's done, we'd like it to go away and let us get ourselves going again.

I was listening to the radio and someone interviewed people on the street around the Democratic National Convention. He asked about corporations and profit. Almost all seemed to be opposed to both. That bothered me. Do they not work? Do they not work for a corporation or a company that has at least one corporation as a major client? I worked for a large corporation for 34 years. They treated me both well and poorly over those years. My desire to do as I pleased conflicted with their desire to have maximum productivity. I wanted a larger paycheck, they wanted to keep my wages down. We compromised often enough to keep me around.

Liberals seem to hate the rich. Yet I have never met one who didn't want to be rich himself. I could never understand that. I think it was just envy in action.

So... I didn't leave liberalism, liberalism left me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Troubles of the self-inflicted kind

I have been having a little trouble of late... with my blog. I blamed Blogger, of course, but the fault turns out to be my own. Specifically, I could not log in. There was nowhere to do it. But I began to think about it and realized I had recently added something to block tracking while I was on the web. I don't much like various websites tracking what I view, what I do, where I go.

But, apparently, Blogger demands this. At least when going to my own site. Once I allowed Blogger/Google to track me again, I could log in. I could enter new posts, I could edit old posts and fix those typos that I always seem to miss in the first 3 or 4 re-reads of whatever drivel I have thought up.

Blogger (primarily the post editor) is really starting to irritate me. It changes fonts at will while I type. When I attempt to fix it, it changes it again. Just while typing this paragraph, I have had to adjust it twice. And I still don't trust it.

 Perhaps it's just me. Something I am doing wrong. After all, I was wrong about the problem with logging in so there's a fair chance it is something I am unknowingly doing that is causing my problems. It wouldn't be the first time... or the last.

I woke up this morning about 5 AM here in Biloxi. It was noisy. I thought Faye was luxuriating in the jacuzzi tub we have in our room. I was wrong. It was the AC. It was gurgling... loudly... very loudly. I got up and found that it was also leaking water, soaking the carpeting. We called the front desk and told them. They sent up someone from maintenance who stopped the leak. Then they sent up the maid to run a machine to suck the water out of the carpet. That worked, too, just not so well. She also left behind a blower unit to dry the carpet and that  didn't seem to work at all. It was also real loud.

I learned that several rooms on a couple of floors got flooded overnight.

We finally ended up being moved to another room. A suite, actually. 

Such is life in Biloxi.

Sorry this is late. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Contemplating one's navel

As I sit here, bored, playing on my laptop... I wonder what I might write about.  For some, blogging comes easily. These are the talented writers who entertain and/or teach. I am not so talented. I struggle most days just to come up with an idea. But, then, I have never been creative. I dabbled with painting and drawing but could only copy things others painted or drew and not all that well. I learned early on that I do not have an ear for music. I tried photgraphy but that didn't turn out too well though I enjoyed it.

Over the years, I have learned to accept my mediocrity. I even wallow in it from time to time. It has kept me from being the center of attention. That pleases me. I do not like being noticed, or depended on, or being an example for others. I prefer obscurity.

When I was a young lad, I wanted to become rich. Then I realized two things: one is that it takes a lot of work and the other is that fame often comes with riches. Neither of those appealed to me.

The mystery, to me, is that some people seek fame. They strive to become a movie star or a pop idol or a sports star. Some of them make it (a rare few, really) and then complain that they have no privacy. What's up with that? You made it, you are famous! You sought fame and now you are unhappy about it? Sorry, you do not get my sympathy.

I suppose we all miss what we had once we've lost it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A flip of a coin, a spin of the wheel,a turn of a card...

Life is a gamble, isn't it? You work hard, eat right, exercise... and, in the end, you get cancer, or Alzheimer's, or get hit by a texting teen while having lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Ok, the odds are pretty much in your favor that none of those will happen to you. But that doesn't stop the ads, does it?

I was thinking about this as I drove toward Biloxi once again on Sunday. And why was I heading for Biloxi? Because my raison d'ĂȘtre desired it. And, as any husband who has survived 25 years of marriage to the same woman will tell you, keeping the "boss" happy is the smartest thing you can do. We do not discuss these trips, we do not debate them, we just take them.

I, of course, will not do anything more than token gambling. Instead, I will play a couple of rounds of golf, play endless games on my laptop, and do some reading. I find gambling in casinos somewhat boring. It is not exciting to lose money. I do not feel the thrill even when I win (a rare enough occasion). It's not that I don't appreciate the adrenalin rush when a risk plays out to my benefit, it's that I do not like the downer that hits when the risk doesn't play out to my benefit.

We know that gambling is often seen as an addiction. In truth, it isn't. But it is the nature of humans to turn it into one. And not all humans. The vast majority of us do not gamble with our money. We seek safe places for it, we try to invest it wisely, we try to be careful how we spend it. But some of us, a relative handful of the population, let it control their lives.

Faye isn't one of those but I am glad we do not live in Las Vegas, Reno, or Biloxi... or any other city with casinos. I think it helps to be at least an hour's drive from the nearest row of slot machines. I don't believe she would let it take over her life (and, by extension, mine) but... it's best to not have the temptation nearby.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Conventional Wisdom

I watched some of the Republican National Convention. It isn't easy to do, you know. First, you had to find it. It's only broadcast on the major networks at 10 PM but PBS and CSPAN broadcast it live. Foxnews aired it but with commentary. I don't need pundits explaining what I heard, I can figure it out on my own. I also don't need people making it more, or less, of it than what I think of it.

I recall the first party convention I ever saw was the 1952 Republican Convention where they nominated Eisenhower. Most of you weren't alive when Eisenhower was president. Quite a guy. He was not rated highly by many but he had a fairly clean 8 years, the only blip being the Francis Gary Powers fiasco. Powers was a pilot of a high altitude spy plane (a U-2) that was shot down over the Soviet Union, over Russia. A bit embarrassing. Especially for the generals who thought the Soviets didn't have the technology to shoot it down. Oops. He also had an important hand in getting us involved in Vietnam's troubles. He's the one who committed us to helping the south against the north. It was JFK who escalated the number of military advisers we were sending and let them go into the field rather than just oversee the training, and Lyndon Johnson who escalated it into the war that divided the country. And then Nixon campaigned on the promise to bring it to an end with his "secret plan".

My brother, as I recall, liked not Ike but Adlai (Stevenson) who was the Democrat's nominee. My brother was only 7 and I was only 5. The odd thing is that I do not recall if we watched the Democratic Party's National Convention in that year. In 1964, I supported Johnson and my brother supported Goldwater.  We are on opposite sides again this year.

Like all conventions, there were a lot of speeches at this year's Republican Convention. Only some were interesting. Most were the usual "pump up the base" exercises. Few were remarkable.  Few are ever remarkable. And speeches make me sleepy anyway so I tend to nod off. I cannot recall any memorable lines. Others will do that.

[added] Marco Rubio's speech was excellent... except for a fumble on one line. Very impressive. Romney's speech I would give an 8 out of 10.

I will watch as much of the Democratic National Convention next week. I expect that to be just about as memorable.

The conventions aren't for us anyway, they're designed to pump up the party faithful and kick off the Real Campaign. But we know the campaign actually started the day after the last presidential election, don't we?