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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Black Holes?

It appears that Stephen Hawking has upset the scientific community... once again. This time because of his commentary about black holes.

I don't understand it (I simply do not have the skill set) and have always thought theoretical things tend to be untrue; that we learn that whatever is theorized turns out to have some truth and a lot of theory. And that the truth that is finally revealed is that science was fooled by the original theory.

Black holes, for example. I understand why they are called that; the gravitational pull is so great that even light cannot escape. Except that only apples to the light that gets close enough to the gravitational pull. That is, the atoms and molecules that are excited (thereby creating light) are on the edge of this. I think we should call them "Bright Holes" instead. Because I think that light, the light that begins just before the gravitational pulls sucks it in, should be perceptible.

When I think of something described as a "black hole", I picture a bright swirling mixture of  gases and dust. But the gravitational pull which excites the molecules and atoms should not be limited to just the material on the same plane but in all directions and, presumably, would excite (and, therefore, light up) the material in front, as well as alongside, this massive gravity well. In other words, a ball of light.

But I am no astrophysicist. It shows, doesn't it?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Radio Active?

The local radio station puts out an ad on a fairly regular basis touting radio as a good advertising investment. It actual refers to radio as "the most intimate of media." Silly me, I always thought that pornography was the most intimate of media. You can't get much more intimate than porn.

This radio station is full of inane ads. I suppose that is to be expected, it is the local "talk radio" station, after all.  Between the ads for silver and the pleas for donating your car (by a pretty whiny sounding singer) and a local sports talk show offering guests you never heard of (and some of these are actual former pro players), it's pretty entertaining. Lots of material to make fun of. 

I mean, who can't laugh at some kind yelling "Dipsy-doodle for two" and "Gators win! Gators win! Gators win!" in an advertisement for a basketball game broadcast.

On the other hand, there are ads that are pretty entertaining. You've probably heard these ads in your area, I believe the company has websites serving areas throughout the U.S. The latest ad I heard from them featured a woman  going door to door with her harp and an old guy who says he never heard of the website. He also says he is not a fan of harp music.

Personally, I kind of like harp music.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


On the CD I have currently in my car is a song by The Who called "My Generation."

Go ahead, play it... put on some headphones so you can get the full effect.

Of course, my car does not play that video. Not that the CD has the video on it, mind you.

But the song got me to musing... I was much younger when that song came out. 19 years of age, to be exact.  There's a line in the song that goes:

I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

I didn't... die, that is... and so I got old. Yet, I still see that 19-year-old when I look in the mirror. And I wonder how a 19-year-old got that white goatee and gray hairs? Not to mention the bags under his eyes (had those many times when I was 19 or so) and the wrinkles. I should have more of those wrinkles. After all, I basically baked my skin for a year and a half as a "surfer dude" and an indifference to the effects of the sun I have had much of my life.

Anyway, I find myself a senior citizen now and don't much like it. The aches and pains that once could be ignored now linger for weeks. I get a cold or the flu and it takes way too long to recover. My knees hurt, my elbows hurt, and I take ranitidine nightly to avoid waking up with heartburn at 3 AM. Which is odd because I was rarely in bed at 3 AM when I was 19... unless we were out to sea.

I didn't plan on getting old, it just crept up on me. And I still refuse to believe it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


In my travels on the internet, I read a number of online newspapers but mostly the NY Times and the Washington Post. What I find disturbing is the number of people in comments who appear to be in favor of a single party government. I do not understand this.

I realize that people who comment do not represent the majority of readers nor do they represent the majority of any political party. Still, it disturbs me that anyone would ever think such a government would be a good thing to have.

Essentially, until the advent of multi-party systems of government, people throughout the world lived under single party systems. Autocratic systems are single party. Dissent is "discouraged"... forcefully. This means that monarchies are essentially single party systems (support the Crown or else), as are dictatorships, communist states, and any system where the opposition is heavily divided. What good is a multi-party system where the leader's party is overwhelmingly strong and the opposition is divided between weak and scattered political parties? These are essentially single party systems because the preponderance of power rests with one party.

Yet so many people seem to want cooperation over opposition.

Maybe it's my contrary nature, or perhaps I never grew out of the rebel phase of my teen years. But I think healthy opposition is a good thing, a viable opposing political party keeps the one in power honest. Or should. Too much cooperation is scary to me.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Commuting Nightmares

The other day (Friday, I think) I ran across a news "story" (an opinion piece, really) on what we could, or are, doing to reduce our "carbon footprint." I left a comment wherein I said I reduced mine greatly in 2005 when I retired. No more daily 44 mile round-trip commutes, moved to the fine, small, city I now live in where virtually nothing is more than 15 minutes away and I wondered if a poor economy causes a reduction in these carbon footprints. After all, a higher unemployment rate means fewer people commuting anywhere.

Then I came across this:

Take the long way home

An article in what passes for a local paper (it's a section in the Tampa Trbune, our real local paper publishes 4 times a week... not a lot of news here) about people who commute out of county to jobs far away. It starts with a guy who works in Boca Raton and commutes 2.5 hours one way. But don't panic yet, it is only for one 24 hour shift a week as a fireman/EMT. He also works part time (presumably.. it did not say) as an EMT here in Highlands County and teaches
(the story did not mention how many days a week) at our local college (SFSC).

The other person featured in the story flies all over the country and works with a management consulting firm based in Chicago. The story implied that he flies out of Orlando to Chicago each Sunday afternoon. But it never confirms this. So it is possible that he doesn't. Or it is possible he flies to different cities on assignments each Sunday.

After my parents moved us to Dade County in 1956, my father (having sold his bicycle shop in Farmingdale, NY) got a job as a salesman. In that job, he traveled around the state one week a month (one week in four, actually). Even when he was in his seventies (he worked until he was 75) and working part time, he commuted some 35-40 miles each way to a job in Miami from his home in West Hollywood. That had to be at least an hour each way.

While my house was being built here in Paradise, I drove from Palm Beach County to here (about 2 hours) once a week... to check on the house, visit my mother in an assisted living facility here, and to play golf. I put a lot of miles on my car during that almost 2 years.

Commuting takes a toll on you. I knew of people who commuted to the Miami area from my neighborhood west of West Palm Beach. Most were firemen or professionals (Attorneys, mostly) Some took the commuter train (called Tri-Rail here), some drove, and a few flew (small private planes, mostly, but one person who lived a couple blocks from me flew a helicopter). And I, in 1977, spent 6 months traveling to various states for training with AT&T. That wore me out and helped end my first marriage. 

I hated commuting.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Is There Something Called Free Speech?

As I was contemplating what to write about for today, I was reading an article in the NY Times about a vice-principal at a Catholic school in Washington (the state) being canned after he married another man. There were nothing but supportive comments... mostly supporting the students who protested the action. In fact, much of the story was about the students' reaction to the firing and their support of the vice-principal.

But, buried in the story, was a mitigating factor; one seemingly  ignored by the students, the author, and the commenters. The vice-principal had signed an agreement to uphold the Church's teachings and the Church does not recognize, or support, same sex marriage.

The fallout has resulted in the resignations of some of those who sought the ouster of the vice-principal. Apparently, these people received some pressure to resign.

And that brings me to the subject of free speech. Certainly the students are exercising it, that's clear. But didn't the school authorities also exercise it? Is some free speech more important than others?

I thought (and have thought so for many years) that the reason our Constitution protects freedom of speech was because we need to hear and/or read all dissenting opinions. That is, freedom of speech is not just the right of the majority.

You see, cultures change. And, as a result, so do majority opinions. And one of the reasons that change comes about is because minority opinions are heard or read. If the majority opinion condones the suppression of minority opinion then does free speech still exist?

Friday, January 24, 2014


Like all of you, I presume, I dislike spam. Not the mystery meat (I actually like that somewhat... weird, huh?) but the email type. What is that spam? In my opinion, it is unsolicited advertising. I do not consider it spam if I signed up to get a newsletter and those newsletters turn into advertising. Only the email that I did not sign up to get falls into the spam category. Not that this is all you will find in my "Junk email" folder, there are some of those solicited newsletters there also.

What do I do when I get spam? I look for the "unsubscribe" instructions in them and then follow it. Not always successfully, some "unsubscribe" instructions require that you enter the email address that is receiving it... even though you are simply clicking on a link provided by that spam/email and that data can (and should) be sent to the "unsubscribe" site. I am suspicious of such sites which ask for your email, I suspect they will then pass (sell) that information to other sites which will then send you more spam and do not complete the process. Call me Mr. Paranoid.

I also wonder why some "unsubscribe" sites send you emails (which invariably also wind up in the "Junk email" folder) which confirm you unsubscribed and all too often tell you it will take up to 10 days to take effect. Why? Why should it take more than 10 seconds? Are these not computers? Cannot they link to the subroutines which send out the spam in the first place? Cannot that list be updated immediately?

I had a satellite company once tell me it might take up to thirty days to stop the robo-calls (all of which only confirmed for me that my decision to dump the service was the right one) I was getting daily trying to get me to come back to their service. This was an alleged supervisor telling me this. I informed him that I would tolerate no calls after 24 hours and that each subsequent one would generate a complaint to the "Do Not Call" website. I also informed him that it should not take more than a few seconds to stop the calls, much less a week. The calls stopped immediately

I view spam as disrespect. I dislike disrespect. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

In The Idiotic Prosecutions Department...

...We have the following:

D.C. man on trial for one shotgun shell

What do you think about gun ownership? Do you see gun owners as paranoid mouth-breathers who see themselves as warriors ready to rise against an oppressive government? Or perhaps as Bambi killers? Or maybe people afraid of their own shadow and who think that a gun will somehow magically save them and never harm a family member? Or maybe you think of them as your neighbors and friends, even family members... just regular folks.

Read the story. Maybe you will ask yourself, as I did, how this guy got on the D.C. Police's radar in the first place. The answer is found in this excerpt from the story:

The Metropolitan Police Department raided Mr. Witaschek’s rented Georgetown house twice in the summer of 2012 on the word of his angry ex-wife.

Mr. Witaschek appears to know the law in D.C., he keeps his hunting weapons at his sister's house in Virginia so that he doesn't break the laws of that fair city. Yet, apparently he did. With an inoperable shotgun shell. That's right, a shotgun shell that cannot be fired from any shotgun is what so offended the D.C. prosecutor's office that they have spent about 18 months trying to imprison him over it.

Personally, I think they are giving those paranoid mouth-breathers support for their fantasies.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Neatness Sucks

I always thought I got my slovenly ways from my mother. After all, her motto seemed to be "Never waste a flat surface." That is, in our house there was never a flat surface that did not have something (often many somethings) piled on it. On top of which was usually dust.

From my father's side, I inherited a deep desire for order. Therefore, obviously, I am quite conflicted. It is my burden to bear, I suppose.

I grew up in that home; amid the piles of magazines and newspapers, the ever overflowing trash can, the clothes strewn about (especially, it seemed, in my bedroom)... torn between the doctrines of laissez-faire and absolute order. One doctrine was bound to lose. Since absolute order takes effort, it went quickly.

When I was living in a small (8 unit) apartment complex, there was a woman who was obsessively clean. Linda's apartment was always spotless, she waxed her kitchen floor daily, stripped and re-waxed it weekly, her husband was required to wipe the shower area dry after taking a shower. Dave (her husband) showered immediately upon coming home from work as a carpenter, put his clothes in the hamper, and was comfortable with it all.

When I visited their apartment, I always felt ill-at-ease. We had weekly parties (with keg) at that complex, most were in our apartment (mine and my first wife's, that is). It was convenient; we were on the first floor and more or less centrally located. My first wife was not fanatical about cleaning but the place was always neat and orderly. She did not panic when an ashtray or a beer was spilled, as Linda did. I like to think our apartment was inviting. We had only one party at Dave and Linda's. Linda would wipe an ashtray with a damp rag immediately after someone flicked ashes in it. I was not the only one feeling uncomfortable.

Why do I bring this up? Because Faye has been cleaning the house for several days now in anticipation of a visit by the exterminator company. In Florida, we fear termites more than alligators. You can see alligators. So we Floridians contract with termite services and tolerate annual inspection visits. These guys come in, nose around cabinets, nooks and crannies... anywhere there might be evidence of termite infestation. We, in turn, hope none is found. It means expense; for tenting the structure and for spending a few days away. Plus it means inconvenience. I dislike inconvenience.

But, invariably, the house is not clean and presentable when the inspection time rolls around and that means chaos and conflict between Faye and I. Fortunately, this too shall pass.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Playing Well With Others

Is something I have rarely been accused of. However, this past Saturday, I played a round of golf with Tom(of Sightings Over Sixty, a fine blog full of insights and good writing) and a couple of locals I consider friends; Billy (aka Captain Billy) and Joe.

Tom stopped off on his way up to Orlando to join us for our 11:30 tee time at a place called Harder Hall Country Club. It doesn't resemble anything you might envision as a Country Club. It's basically a small golf course with a pro shop and a bar & grill. Nothing fancy. Its current claim to fame (it once hosted a PGA/LPGA event) is an amateur championship for college women. Since that was a couple of weeks ago, I thought the course would be in fairly good shape. The price was low by most standards, even for this area at this time of year.

The weather was cool but not uncomfortable. I think we all enjoyed ourselves. Tom and Billy shot the best scores with Joe close behind and myself trailing well back (so perhaps I don't play well with others).

Perhaps Tom will stop by the next time he comes to Florida and we can make this an annual tournament.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Legal Killing

Some might think I am anti death penalty based on the title of this post. I am not. I once was but no longer. Here is that story of why I no longer oppose it (originally posted in August of 2012). I am re-posting this because of the execution Thursday in Ohio of a man who raped, sodomized, and murdered a woman who was 8 months pregnant.

For much of my life, we (as a nation) have debated the efficacy, morality, and now the economics of the death penalty (hereafter referred to as DP). It's not a new tactic, the cost of death penalty sentence has been shown to be more expensive than a life without parole (LWOP) sentence. But, instead of that old argument, the new one argues how much more expensive it is to just prosecute a capital case than a case where the DP has been taken off the table.

I first ran into a DP opponent in junior high. One of the smartest kids I knew and his argument was solid. This was in 1960 and he used the Caryl Chessman case as his foundation. He forced me to read up on Chessman so that I could understand his position. He eventually convinced me to also oppose the DP. And I stayed opposed to it for many years.

At some point I changed my mind and began supporting it again. It was Robert Alton Harris who was my reason for a change of mind. Robert Alton Harris. Here's how Wiki describes his crime:

On July 5 [,1978], the Harris brothers happened upon John Mayeski and Michael Baker, both 16, sitting in a green Ford LTD eating hamburgers in a supermarket parking lot in Mira Mesa. Mayeski and Baker were best friends who had planned to spend the day fishing to celebrate Mayeski's newly acquired driver's license. Robert Harris commandeered Mayeski's car and ordered him to drive to Miramar Lake, with Daniel Harris following in another vehicle. Robert Harris told the boys that they would be using the vehicle to rob a bank, but that no one would be hurt. At Miramar Lake, the Harris brothers ordered the boys to walk away from the vehicle. While they were walking, Robert shot both boys multiple times. The Harris brothers then returned to Robert's Mira Mesa home and finished the victims' half-eaten hamburgers while Robert boasted about the killings.

I was living in San Diego at the time and it was big news. The murders were unknown at the time of the Harris brothers' arrest but soon came to light. The case was on everyone's lips, it seemed, for quite some time. The outrage was incredible. And I was caught up in it. I think the calmness of the Harris brothers immediately after the murders is what fed the outrage. It was a planned execution of two kids just so they could steal the car they were in.

Daniel Harris, I believe, testified against his brother and claimed he had no knowledge of his brother's intention to kill the two boys. He was sentenced to 6 years for kidnapping and was released in 1983.

Over the years since then, I have developed reasons for supporting the DP. The economic reasons for opposing it do not impress me.

The basic economic argument is that it costs, on average, $1.3 million more to prosecute a murder case where the DP is a possible sentence. What is behind the additional cost? The enhanced investigation and the increased oversight required, and the higher security measures for the trial as well as having two phases; main trial and sentencing trial.

But how many DP cases are tried each year? Good luck finding that number. When you research the DP online, you get a lot of data about executions and about the cost of carrying out that sentence vs life sentences but you will have an extremely difficult time getting a count of capital punishment cases each year in the U.S. I would like to see that, along with the number of convictions and DP sentences vs the number of acquittals and lesser sentences handed down. I would then like to learn how many potential DP cases were pleaded down to LWOP or less.

You see, I think the specter of the DP has an effect on murderers facing trial. An effect that gets them to plea bargain rather than take their chances with a trial. Unlike TV, the vast majority of murder cases are pretty clear cut. There's little mystery involved. The culprit (or culprits) are pretty much known early in the investigation. Only a handful or two are not clear cut.  In 2010, there were a total of 104 death sentences handed out nationwide. According to Wiki there were 12,996 intentional homicides in the U.S. in the most recent year for which data were available (incidentally Mexico, which does not have the DP, had over 25,000 murders).

I do not see studies covering this aspect. I understand why, though. It would undermine the economic arguments against the DP if it turned out the penalty induced a great number of plea bargains, thereby saving the state huge amounts of money for trials and appeals.

One other point I'd like you to consider: Do we do sloppier investigations and run sloppier trials for cases where we are not seeking the DP?

Friday, January 17, 2014


I was reading one of my old posts... I do that often, sadly. It's about calling tech support. And the waiting that this often entails. I wrote it almost 3 years ago. Sadly, things haven't improved much.

It reminded me of something I learned while I was working for that huge telecommunications corporation. I was working in the OSPS (I am no longer sure what that acronym stands for... something about operator services) which connects you to an operator and provides other services.

One of the services that machine provided was announcement systems for various corporations and businesses. Most of the customers of such services were airlines and others who get a lot of calls. What it provided was those annoying voice menus we all hate.

But about the same time as this adjunct system which provided the announcements and voice menus was being installed, I learned of a survey taken a couple of years previously that had sampled public opinion about telephone menu systems. One of the things that survey revealed was that callers wanted to speak to a human. And they basically hated canned music, canned voices, and menus to wend their way through to get to that human.

So, here was this telecom giant putting in a service most people hated. On the other hand, I am willing to bet there was another survey run about the same time that sampled corporate opinion about these menu systems. And I am also willing to bet that the majority opinion in that survey loved them. Especially the kind that the telecom giant was developing. That system used a clever artificial voice system that pieced together words and phrases in such a way as to seem seamless to the human ear.

Why do corporations like these things? Because the cost of the service is incredibly cheaper than providing sufficient staff to handle the calls or contracting with a service who would provide the staffing off-site (also at considerable savings).

And what has all this evolved into? Now you call into tech support, get a voice menu, which eventually gets you to some off-shore site where a tech who speaks only enough English to confuse you completely eventually answers the phone.

Eventually, I expect this to evolve to the point where you are conversing happily with a machine in China and explaining why you are unhappy with the As Seen On TV product you bought a few weeks ago.

Progress is wonderful...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

In The "Hate The Rich" Department....

Beanie Babies maker avoids prison for tax evasion 

Here is the first paragraph of the article (referenced above) I read yesterday...

The billionaire businessman behind Beanie Babies learned Tuesday that he won't go to prison for hiding at least $25 million from U.S. tax authorities, and the judge who gave him two years' probation instead went to great lengths to praise his charitable giving.

One would think that a mind that thought up Beanie Babies would have been a little more clever at covering his tracks. Actually, one would think that the mind behind Beanie Babies wouldn't have tried to cheat on his taxes. I mean... C'mon, he made toys for little kids, not guns and bombs.

Apparently, however, making a lot of money leads to things like this. He's taxed at close to 35% (at the time, now close to 40%) and that's a big chunk of money. The incentive to cut corners and fudge a bit on income reporting would be strong.

Here's another excerpt from the story...

Peterson [the prosecutor] detailed how Warner meticulously hid his income — more than $100 million at one point — by filing false tax returns for at least 11 years, and pointed out that another area businessman caught in the same dragnet, Peter Troost, got a year in prison from another judge in that courthouse for hiding far less — $3 million.

But the IRS is relentless, they will harass you until you finally give up. I know. They tried it with me a couple of times. The problem was I had nothing to lose by fighting them. I had few assets to seize and, in my favor, I was right and they were wrong. And I could prove it. So when the threats came, I laughed and made snide remarks... like am I talking to the "IRS" or the "KGB?"

Don't try that unless you are absolutely sure you are in the right and can back it up.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Miscellaneous Stuff

I tend to peruse. The news, that is. I am one of those people who reads the scrolling text underneath the "talking heads" on news shows. I do this for two reasons:

I am easily bored by the pretty faces and elegantly coiffed newscasters.

When I am bored, I have a choice between playing solitaire on my tablet or reading the news scroll.

But I also peruse headlines in Google News. These are fascinating at times. Let me relate some I came across yesterday...

2 teens critically injured in NM school shooting
Dozens of trade-offs in $1.1 trillion budget bill
Two Fullerton Police Officers Found Not Guilty in Death of Kelly Thomas
Smallest, faintest galaxies of the ancient universe spotted
Nasa (should be "NASA" since it is an acronym) looking for 'taxi firm' to replace Russian rockets
Private cargo ship delivers ants, gifts to space station

And, of course, this important piece of news:

Tesla reports big Q4 sales, but no SUV yet

I mean, this is what we are all waiting for, isn't it? An all electric SUV?  Considering the model S sedan starts at just under $70,000, I figure an SUV should come in under $90,000.... to start. And we all have that laying around in disposable income, don't we? I hear this all the time on the golf course... "I'd love to buy a Tesla but they don't make an SUV."

I'm a little shy myself but I could take out one of those Reverse Mortgages, I suppose.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Hand (and Fingers) of God

So, now we have a picture of "The Hand Of God"...

... just in case you were wondering what it might look like. I am sure you were. Wondering that is. My question would be: does it have fingerprints? Fingerprints, it turns out, have a dual purpose... the second purpose being one of identification. The first is improvement of tactile sensitivity. I learned the latter recently from watching a "Futurescape" episode on the Science Channel. But I had wondered about tactile sensation for many, many years.

When I was quite young, I noticed that a light touch caused a pleasurable feeling. Not just in the skin I touched but in my fingertips. I recall experimenting with this. My mother (like all mothers, I suppose) got a kick out of tickling me. I, of course, acted like I didn't want to be tickled. I did, though. As we all do, I think, especially when we are small children. It made us giggle. We humans like to giggle. We like to laugh also. And a giggle is the foreplay of laughter.

Anyway, try this...

As lightly as you can, stroke (with just your fingertips), the skin on the "inside" of your forearm. Try to make it so light that it can barely be felt. To me, that is the most pleasurable of feelings that can be felt and still be G-rated.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Award For The Silliest Article...

...goes to Discovery for this beaut:

Searching for Time Travelers Probably a Waste of Time

In it, the author writes of a study (probably paid for with a government grant) by an astrophysicist and a grad student assistant into the possibility of time travelers.

Aside from the fact that time travel seems impossible, physically and theoretically, the article hints at a possible reason why the study came up empty: Few, if any, in the future consider this period of time of any great interest. I have other theories... All those "doom and gloom" scenarios from Al Gore and others turned out to be true and there is no one there in the future to travel back to tell us. Or, possibly, the world fell into a huge economic downturn (worse even than the one we are allegedly recovering from) and there are no funds to develop time travel... Or, when the seas rose, we all drowned. Or baked to death... or froze to death...

Whatever... If I could travel through time (and who says I cannot?), I would choose some period of great interest. What that might be, I have no idea. But it certainly isn't the last few years.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

And the Attacks Begin

First, the media touts New Jersey governor Christie as the most electable of Republicans likely to seek the GOP nomination and then they dig up a scandal. The details, however, are strikingly familiar. Aides are found to have written emails which do not implicate Christie, Christie claims no knowledge but vows to get to the bottom of the problem. The media, smelling political blood in the water, engage in a feeding frenzy.

Fast and Furious
The Obamacare website rollout
NSA spying
IRS targeting of conservative groups

(There are more, these are the ones that came quickly to mind)

Obama knew nothing of these until he read of them in the newspaper. But these are "phony scandals" and there is no media frenzy.

But a traffic jam in New Jersey? Oh the horror! The inhumanity! How can we ever cope?

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Note From Heaven (or Wherever)

I have been made aware of a new website which provides a service that might be of interest.  None of us, it seems, ever tell our loved ones the things we want to, or should. I know I was guilty of this with my father. Of course, he was a grouchy, irascible crank and was about as close-mouthed as a man could be so I have plenty of excuses. Still, I managed to tell him a little of what he meant to me about 10 years before he died.

Every compliment from him, I got second-hand. Either through my grandmother or my mother. Either, or both, of whom might have lied to make me feel good. Yeah, I have self-esteem issues.

Still, I am sure you have things you want to pass on to your children; things you've never told them... your dreams, your hopes, your pride in them.

I am not endorsing this site, nor am I suggesting you sign up, I just offer it as a consideration if the idea suits you.

Here's the site:

You might even just leave a note saying "I told you so!"

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Unburnt Offerings...

On Tuesday, I did my normal Tuesday things: refill my gas tank (this is actually done about every 5th Tuesday or so) and visit our local Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart visit is problematic at this time of year. The parking lot is filled with vehicles with license plates from states where cold is not as rare as it is here. And these vehicles carry people who appear to think that the mid-50's is plenty mild and should be celebrated by showing off  their bony knees (many with the scars of knee replacement surgery). It is neither a pretty, nor an encouraging, sight.

I, of course, was bundled up in my heaviest jacket and a sweatshirt and sporting what I like to call my "big boy pants." My new little car nimbly fitting into the seemingly excessively narrow parking slot, I wandered (without injury) to the entrance where I played "shopping cart roulette"... managing to find one of the 80% of carts which have at least one faulty wheel. How does that happen, I muse?

Why are so many carts defective? It is impossible to test a cart since the area where the carts are stored has what I can only describe as "uneven" flooring. I often grab a cart on the way in from the parking lot so I can see how it rolls on a nominally smooth surface. As those who hate ornery carts know, this is not a foolproof method but it does boost the odds of getting one that doesn't emit clunking noises or veer strongly one way or the other.

I chose "pot luck" on Tuesday and was rewarded with a "clunker", trundling up the aisles with that distinct "clunk-clunk-clunk" offending my auditory sense. I sought yesterday to find something; a few small items, one of which was septic treatment. Those of you who have never had the "pleasure" of septic tank ownership may not understand this but it is the equivalent of pouring new lime into the pit below the outhouse. As I trundled ("clunk-clunk-clunking" all the while), objects kept appearing in my cart: golf balls, cold medicine, orange juice, 24 pack of water (and what, pray tell, is wrong with what the city pushes through its pipes?), the large bag of Twizzlers, gelatin packages, nuke-able lunches, toilet paper (with aloe, mind you), and several other items I didn't know I needed or wanted.

I tell Faye not to allow me to go into a Wal-Mart with a credit card but she doesn't listen... she is, after all, a wife, and I am merely background noise in the house.

My, I do go on...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Very Interesting...

I like to keep an eye on what readers gravitate toward. I use the Feedjit information to do this. I suspect I am not alone since I will see at least a couple of visitors look at the same posts.

One of the more popular posts seems to be this one. Its title doesn't seem all that intriguing to me but what do I know? The other one which seems to garner a lot of attention is a story about a PICC line. Why these two are interesting, I have no idea, but they seem to show up fairly often. Most of the posts that draw people have pictures but these two do not.

One never knows...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Round Tuits

Readers might have noticed that I have been a bit unreliable of late. Faye has always considered me such but she knows me better. My excuse today is simple... it's freakin' cold! So it took me awhile to get out of my warm, cozy bed.
It is not cold like many of you know but cold as only south Floridians can conceive. It is, as I write, still under 40 degrees F. And windy. I do not quite grasp this but it is never simply cold in Florida, it is cold and windy. And the wind cuts through you like a swarm of razor blades with an attitude.  Still, there are days where you venture out all bundled up and later wish you had worn a pair of shorts and T-shirt under it all. Today is not supposed to be one of those days. Today belongs further north. Much further north. Like Maine, or Minnesota.

The older I get, the less I like the cold. Or much of anything else.

Monday, January 6, 2014


This being Monday, Faye and I each have our chores; she goes to the supermarket and I go play golf. This is a good division of chores. As I see it, of course. I hate grocery shopping and, therefore,  I do not do it well. I would buy things we already have, get too much, and get upset by the cost of it all. It is, believe me, much better that Faye does it.

I don't play golf all that well either but I never overdo it and the cost (usually) doesn't bother me. Much better to keep me out of the supermarket. I would buy things like ice cream, candy, lots of cheese, and those little Jell-o cups. I have no idea what meat to buy and that alone makes me inept.

Food is Faye's forte. She knows what to buy, and she knows how to cook it. I cannot do the latter. I once did. Faye reminds me of that from time to time but mostly I took her to Denny's. Why she stuck around, I have no idea. But I am glad she did.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A New Dawning

It just dawned on me that I had no clever treatise on the American dream (or anything else) today. Never mind that "clever" is probably not the descriptive word my readers might use.

I always intend "clever"... as well as "illuminating" and "thought-provoking"... but generally fail. Especially on Saturdays. This is likely because I permit politics to creep in on such days. But not today, today I thought we ought to discuss the legalization of pot for recreational use in Colorado. And, by "discuss", I mean I'll impart my, uh, wisdom on the subject.

When I was young, I smoked pot on a regular basis. I also drank a lot of cheap wine. Only one of these gave me hangovers. To avoid being a hypocrite (like several opinion writers at the Washington Post and NY Times), I'd like to say I welcome the change in the law. I am not about to move to Colorado, though, like one of my friends is considering. Too much trouble and expense... and it gets cold there. I don't think readily available pot can make up for that. Besides, it (the pot) would make a big dent in my disposable income. Not that I have much of that anyway.

People say the new pot varieties are much more potent than they once were. I can't believe that. I think it's hype to cover the high cost of weed these days. It's like the price of a round of golf. When I first started playing that game, I could play a round for $2.50.
Pot was about $10 an ounce. And I was making about $250 a week. Well, I am not making much more than that these days... not "making" at all, actually... that would suggest I am doing something more productive than helping keep the local establishments out of complete bankruptcy... but I apparently do have some disposable income. My lovely wife tells me that when she decides that she has done enough cooking so far this week and it is now time to take her out to dinner. No "appetizers" these days... can't afford `em... and I wouldn't know where to find it anyway. I don't have the long hair these days that says... "he's cool... enough... I guess."

Still, I think it's about time that pot is legalized. Think what it'll do for the snack and fast food industries alone!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Same Old, Same Old

I have been watching a lot of news lately. Mostly because I have pretty much taken root in my recliner since I took sick a few weeks ago. It's all jumbled with analyses of World War II, since I keep channel surfing and gunfire attracts my attention but that's my problem, not yours.

And the news is pretty much the same now as it was before the year ended; the economy is improving... or not... the market is up, somebody is making money, but not me. Bad weather hits the northeast... as it does every year about this time. D.C. is in denial about the snowstorm, the economy, Obamacare, immigration, and unemployment benefits. Well, D.C. is always in denial, isn't it? D.C. is truly Fantasyland.

We're just too lazy, too complacent, too lethargic... to rebel.

Today, I will be on the golf course. Not because I want to be but because I have made a commitment. It's supposed to be our version of cold today. The predicted high is 59 degrees F. It'll seem colder because the winds will approach 22 MPH (which means it will be 60 and the winds will be 25 MPH). Still, I said I'd be there so I will.

For a smart guy, I'm pretty stupid.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sad... But True

I have begun to notice that the most interesting email I get is spam and the best of that is what ends up in the Junk Mail folder.

I may disable all my spam filters.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bang the Drum Slowly... and Quietly, Please.

The pain of New Year's Day is upon us. Of course, I sit all smug and superior since I gave up drinking years ago in favor of having a liver. Nary a drop passed my lips last night at the Old Folks' New Year's Party. But we partied hard, I tell you. We ate, we burped, we told tales of a woman who pushed her husband out the back door in a wheel chair and broke his neck when it fell over. You haven't lived till that sounds funny to you. It's okay, she eventually took him to the Emergency Room and the 89 year-old is doing well.... though I am not sure he knows it.

The party wound down soon after the fireworks display was over... that would be a little after 9 PM. Now I have a little car trouble to deal with... there was a warning alert about a tire being low on air... all I have to figure out is which one, put some in, and get it replaced by nitrogen come Thursday. That's what they fill our tires up with now; nitrogen. I guess people rebelled against having to put their credit cards in the air pumps at the gas stations. Now, there's good reason to pay through the nose for something that abundant.

We're spoiled, aren't we? Our cars tell us when to change the oil, when our tires are low, and when we are about to crash into the car in the next lane. We still can't just set the destination and take a nap as the car takes us there... though it sometimes seems more than a few do around here.

Have a Happy New Year... It'll take 365 days to get through and there's no skipping that.