25 November 2005

And now I'm off

So there I go.  I'm off across the pond, at least virtually, to the land of haggis, kidney pie, and Tony Blair:


Yes, you'll now find me in the land of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Kew Gardens.  But no ads across the top of my journal, at least for now.  When they finally desecrate the UK journals like the have in the states, then I'll be off again, to who knows where.

It will take me some time before I get used to dropping the "h" when it's at the beginning of the word, to say "bollox" instead of "%&#@, and measuring distance in meters instead of yards.  Please, no comments on the occasional extra "u" in words.  I have to adhere to certain flavours now, you see.

Come 'round for a pint sometime.  The Guinness is fresh over here.

What took me so long?

24 November 2005

I'm still here

Well, it's been eight days since I shut down.  It's been very hard to maintain radio silence.  I need to write.  I have a lot of things to say.

I have fooled around a bit with other blogging sites.  I'm not too fond of any of them.  I don't want to change.  I feel like I am running out of options.

I still cannot believe that no one from AOL has had the cajones to speak up and let us know what the hell is going on.  Unbelievable.  I've done some research on the state of AOL since this whole thing started, and frankly, the end is nigh.  I won't have to worry about having to choose to leave AOL soon, I fear.  I think the choice is going to be made for me.

Still, it would be nice to be acknowledged by someone there.  Instead the company hides behind two of its spokespeople, who I am sure have been chugging aspirin left and right for the last week.  What a stand up company.

There are supposed to be disclaimers that appear beneath the ads saying that they are not an endorsement of the author.  Not good enough.  I don't want them.  My wife works for a major cell phone company, and every other time I go to my journal page, I see an ad for Verizon.  That is not the company she works for.  I don't want that ad on my page.  Bank of America?  Don't know 'em, therefore don't trust 'em.  Don't want them on my page.

Today I see some message disguised as a call-out to support World Aids Day, but it's really just an ad for a drug company.  Disgusting.  Don't want their ad on my page.

Quizno's?  Hate 'em.  Sorry, but it's true.  Their sandwiches taste like crap, plus those commercials with the hand rats or whatever the hell they were supposed to be left me scarred for life.  Don't want their ad on my page.

Don't currently own a home.  If I did, I wouldn't choose to refinance my mortgage from a pop-up ad banner.  Don't want the ad on my page.

I don't want ads on my page from companies that contribute to the GOP, just like I am sure that my fellow conservative bloggers don't want ads from companies that contribute to the Democrats.

A few months ago, I was up late at night flipping through the channels, when I came across "Terminator 3" on one of the 57 HBO channels on our digital system.  I watched for a while.  Near the end (I think, I really don't remember much about the flow of the movie), Tim Stahl, Claire Danes and Ah-nold are escaping from one of the bad guys when there is a wreck involving a full-sized semi that jackknifes in the road.  On the side of the truck, you can clearly see a HUGE ad for Xenadraine, one of those quick weight loss pills.  I laughed out loud.  What slim credibility the movie had disappeared quickly.

So for this last week, when I have gone to my journal page, I have felt like a truck just slid across the top of it.  I hate it.  I am so beyond the initial feelings of disgust, anger, and overall sadness that just when I was getting large amounts of readers, AOL decided to relieve themselves all over my journal.

By the time I finish this, it will be Thanksgiving.  I have so much to be thankful for this year, so much that this inconvenience is minor, but still, it's just isn't right.  And the worst thing about it is the continued silence.

The silence of this page.

The silence of the higher-ups at AOL, whose continued refusal to give us any explanation speaks louder than any word they could ever speak.

15 November 2005

I will (not) go quietly

Every once in a while, I have a day where I am busy enough that I am not able to get on to the Internet until evening.  Today was one of those days.

Inbox:  50+ pieces of new mail.  Most were alerts for new journal entries.  Wow, people are feeling prolific today.  I start checking them out.  I see the same thing, over and over and over again.  Anger.  Lots and lots of anger.

Deserved anger, I will add, and now I will add my anger, too.

AOL decided to place ad banners at the top of everyone's journal, starting today.  There was no warning about this.  File that under " 'tis better to ask forgiveness than for permission."

I'm an idiot-I pay a monthly fee for AOL along with a fee from another ISP for high speed access.  The ONLY reason I haven't fully canceled AOL is because I want to keep this journal going.  When I started it, I was still using AOL for dial-up Internet service.

I don't want advertisements here.  I have devoted entries in the past about how much I hate when a popular song shows up on a TV commercial.  I respect what advertising brings to the consumer world, but I don't want it here.

So, I am not going to stand for it.  This journal will remain silent for the next few days, and if the ads have not disappeared, I will have to go elsewhere.

It's really as simple as that.

AOL boggles my mind.  They are clueless to the fact that a lot of folks have done the same thing I have-needlessly sent them money just so they could keep their journal going.  People are pretty passionate about their journal space, and they feel violated.  There's a ton of anger about this.  I want to believe that they will listen, see that they have made a lot of good people upset, and change it back.

But I'm guessing that in about a week, I'll be back here leaving a link to my new location.

Oh well, at least this didn't happen last week, just before I got the chance to connect with so many new people during my stint as guest editor.  I'll always be grateful for that.

AOL, do the right thing.

Or I'm outta here.

14 November 2005

The one where I pine for the fjords

1. You are invited to spend a night, alone, in a large house that is believed to be haunted.  A close friend of yours whom you trust tells you of his or her own experience, and you have sufficient reason to believe that there may be a genuine haunting going on there.  Without promise of any kind of reward for staying the night, would you agree to do so? Nope.  I have a hard enough time sleeping as it is.  I would consider doing it as part of a group, but only if sufficient amounts of liquor were involved.

2. What do you most enjoy about your job? The fact that I don't have one?  When I did, I think what I enjoyed most was seeing people who normally did not think much of themselves become successful.  I'll change the question to what I most enjoy about grad school, which is sort of my job now.  I love the fact that I have intelligent, thoughtful classmates.  I was worried that I was not going to mix in well with the other people in my classes.

3. Who was the last person you had a conversation with?  What was the main topic of the conversation? My wife and I had our normal Sunday wrap up session a few hours ago, before she went to sleep.  We always talk Sunday night about what is coming up this next week, and anything that went on this past week, and anything else we think we need to talk about.

4. Take this
quiz:   What kind of "smart" are you?  I'm "All Around Smart" but I am "confused as all get out" by this thing.  It says that my intelligence is 20% theoretical and 20% learned.  OK, in theory, and from what I have learned, my intelligence characteristics should add up to 100%, so where is my remaining 60%?  And what categories do they fall into?  Must I assign them myself?  OK,I will.  20% falsified, 20% street, and 20% what I picked up in prison.

5. What was the last food that you totally ruined -- to the point that it was inedible -- when trying to cook?  I don't really attempt to cook anything that can be destroyed.  The last time I remember having to abort a meal was the first time I microwaved soup.  I did not put a cover over the bowl, and it blew up about a minute into the cooking time.  The only way I could have eaten it was by sticking my head in the microwave and licking the sides.  That's the only time I microwaved soup.  It's on the oven or nothing for me now.

6. STRANGELY-OBSCURE QUESTION #1:  If you had to do over again, would you change anything?  Hell yeah!  In many, many ways.  But here's what I consider the top three:  1) I would have been a billion times more aggressive with the ladies during my formative years; 2) I would have gone to college straight out of high school; 3) I would have started writing earlier.

13 November 2005

Reason #472 why my wife rocks

I have a story due for my class tomorrow.  I tend to write my stories in my head over time, and then get it all down on paper at a later time.  I work better with deadlines.

So I started writing this story on my computer Friday afternoon.  When it's done, it will be about twenty-two pages, give or take one or two.  I use Microsoft Word.  It came with my laptop.  I don't know all that much about Word.  I'm not the type of person who reads all about things before he uses them.  Give me the keys, save the owner's manual for later-that has always been my philosophy.

So I'm on page eighteen.  I'm starting a new paragraph, and the screen goes blank.  Zip.  Nada. There's nothing there but a blank white page.  I feel my chest tighten.  Must...stay...calm.  There's a logical explanation for this.  The story has to be somewhere.  So I minimize the page thinking I might have inadvertently started a new session.  Nope, that's not it.

Eyes are starting to bulge.  I click on the file tab and go to open.  I find the name of the story and try to open it, thinking maybe that I inadvertently saved and closed it.  Nope.  All that comes up is a blank page, under the story file.

Arteries constricting; breathing becoming shallow; where the &%^ is my story?  I have no clue.

So I do what all sane, rational people do in this situation.  I yell, and I yell loudly.  The words that come out of my mouth repeatedly are short and to the point: "NO!"


I've lost the story, at least the physical evidence of it.  It still exists in my mind, but there is no way I am going to be able to re-write it in time for tomorrow.

I've reached DEF CON 5.  The "NO" is becoming louder.   The missiles are leaving the silo.  My wife comes downstairs and asks me what the problem is.  I explain between breaths into the paper bag.  Relax, she says.  You emailed me the first eleven pages this morning so I could read them, remember?  They are still on my computer.

My breath becomes a bit more controlled, and we descend to DEF CON 4.  But the email was sent seven pages ago, which means I would still have to re-write a whole bunch.  I decide that is not acceptable and start to rant again.  Kristen tells me to settle down and moves me away from the computer.  Don't touch anything, she says.  What did you do last, she asks.  I tell her that I don't know, obviously, otherwise I would have been sure not to do it.

This does not help.  She resists the urge to knock me through the wall.  A fate I would have deserved and understood, by the way.  Instead, she looks at the screen and points the cursor at the "undo" tab.  I have never heard of this option before.  As soon as she clicks on it, my story, in all of its full glory, reappears.  Everything is highlighted.  With a simple click of the cursor again, everything returns back to normal.  I call off the missiles and my breathing returns to normal.  Thank God for the fact that I met a woman who knows all about Word.

She thinks I am a raving loon, especially when I am writing.  I do not disagree.  You know what they say, behind every insane man is a rational woman who tends to go prematurely gray.

And upon investigating the cause of today's drama, I know what the culprit is.  It's the control key.  Well, maybe not the control key itself, but the fact that it is located directly below the left shift key.  Clearly, an insane man came up with this keyboard design, that would allow you to almost demolish a full piece of work because you actually hit control D instead of shift D.

And it's obvious that the insane man who did this has yet to meet his rational woman, because if he did, there's no way she would allow his keyboard to stay this way.

11 November 2005

Just call me Chernobyl, 'cause I can create meltdowns

Remember last month, when I said I was done commenting over at Armand's?  I lied.  I stopped for a while, but in that time, there have been one or two things that I just could not resist commenting on.  I'm weak.  I'm sorry, I've let myself down.

Anyway, you may have heard that today President Bush made a speech in which he said:
"while it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began."

Poor guy.  I won't even get into it.  That's not what this entry is about.  Suffice to say, I hope the folks in attendance at the speech had large boots on.  It had to be flowing mighty thick there.

I wasn't aware of the speech until I saw an entry at Armand's entitled "He finally said it."  I couldn't help myself.  I just had to comment.  Here's what I said:

I was hoping for "I quit."
Comment from
ber144 - 11/11/05 10:50 AM

Two words.  Two words that have caused a complete and total meltdown over there.  What the hell is wrong with me?  Why can't I learn from prior experience?  When will I learn that there are people in this world who lack the ability to perhaps think someone is being snarky?  It's gone Chernobyl over there.

See for yourself.  Hurry though, before it all disappears in a radioactive poof.

So many links, so little time...

File this one under "I guess they'll let anybody do this..."

Yes, I have the honor of being this week's Guest Editor. 
Direct any and all complaints to Joe, who I'm sure is starting to regret reading my email right about now.  Nah, not yet.  Joe rocks, and I thank him for giving me this opportunity.

A little about myself: well, there's the picture of me, which you can see on the
journals page.  I refuse to put it here because 1) I don't know how to do it (and yes, I realize there are about a billion instructional entries out there on how to do it, but welcome to my world, where things like that don't work, ever) and 2) I certainly don't want to look at it all the time.  I'm 38 and I live in Park Ridge, Illinois which is about ten miles or so northwest of downtown Chicago.  If you've ever flown into O'Hare Airport there's a decent chance you've gone right over Park Ridge.  I'm a graduate student, going for my MFA (decipher that if you dare...) in creative writing at Roosevelt University in the loop.  A quick synopsis of the last decade or so of my life:  Boy graduates from college and embarks on career in retail management because it's the only thing he knows; Boy sleepwalks through most of the 1990's while working in some truly unique neighborhoods in the city; looking back, Boy regrets not having blog back then, because it would have some interesting tales in it;  Boy has "epiphany" in 2002 (or you could call it an extremely early mid-life crisis), chucks career out window, sells house, and decides to travel until either he gets tired of it or the money runs out; Boy spends next two years visiting 45 states and five countries; Boy decides he can write for a career and goes back to school.  This is where the story ends.

Well, except for the most important part, which is Boy meets the Girl and gets married.  Kristen and I took the plunge back in April of this year.  I can split my life into two parts: before I met her and after (April 12, 2003).  If I hadn't met her, I'd probably be in the middle of the Pacific trying to canoe myself around the world or something.  She's the best thing that has ever happened to me, and it isn't even close.

OK, I'm getting off topic.  On to my picks:

Francesco's Life:  I can't remember how I came across this journal, but I remember wishing I had a long time ago.  I'm a sucker for stories abut fathers and sons/daughters, and Mary does it better than anyone I know.  If you stopped reading this entry and spent the rest of the day over there, I'd understand.  In fact, I kind of expect it.

Midlife Matters:  As I said before, I don't include pictures in my journal.  Fortunately, there's a virtual bevy of places in J-land that do, and this is one of the best.  Take a look at the ladybug photo from November 3 and make a list of the one thousand words.  And if that's not enough, the writing is pretty magnificent as well.

The Wizard of Ahs:  Bruce won a VIVI last week for "Best Political Journal", but that's not why I am including him on this list.  Sometimes you read a person's words, and you understand that he or she has "it," a certain perspective on the way the world works that makes more sense than most everyone else.  Bruce definitely has "it."  My only wish is that his VIVI inspires him to write more!

My last three picks go outside the realm of J-land, and I'll explain why when I'm finished:

Josh Reads the Comics:  At the age of 38, I still am the type of person that has to read the comics before any other part of the newspaper.  I got that from my father, who used to drive me nuts on Sunday with his methodical reading of the Tribune comics section.  Anyway, Josh has an opinion on just about every comic out there, and he's hysterical.

Blog of a Bookslut:  Hey, hey, hey--its not what you think.  Step away from the TOS key please.  I love books, and I love writing.  Bookslut is like a bible for me, and Jessa's blog is the best part of it.  If after reading a week's worth of entries you don't have at least three additions to your reading list, you're not paying close enough attention.  I have decided that my life will not be complete until I am somehow mentioned in the bookslut blog.

Change of Subject: We have two papers in Chicago: the Tribune and the Sun-Times.  I've always been a Tribune person.  My favorite Tribune columnist is Eric Zorn, who writes about anything.  He's also been writing this blog for the past two years, and while some of it focuses on Chicago, there's enough of the other stuff in it that it doesn't matter where you read it from.  I'm not sure if his blog falls under the Trib's registration process.  If it does, well, have you met Bug Me Not?

So there's my list.  The reason I went outside J-land for half of it is because most of the folks that I read here are already very well known.  People like Jennifer, Albert and Mrs. L.  Armand, Remo and CandaceTara, Patrick and Cynthia.  Private folks like Amy and Paul.  Every single one of them deserves the following that they have created, as they are writers with exceptional talent.  And I know I have missed many, many others.

(Like my compadres in the "Best Kept Secret" category:
Penny, Gigi, Nelle, Dawn and Jessica; I don't think any of us are a "secret" anymore.)

In January I will have been doing this for two years.  Simply put, I would not be where I am in my life right now without this.  It's given me the inspiration, and most importantly, the courage, to do what I believe I was born to do: write.  The best thing about it has been the discovery of the writing and creativity that is out there, the people who make up this part of the blogosphere.  I am continually blown away by the words and pictures that I see on my daily strolls through journals.

It has been and will continue to be such a pleasure.

10 November 2005


Do you have any idea how hard it is to sneeze when your mouth is shot up with Novocain?

Ever see "Marathon Man"?  I just spent the morning with Laurence Olivier.

Is it safe???

Yes, it's very safe...

Now I'm going to bed for the rest of my life.  I'll be back tomorrow with something much more worthy, promise.

05 November 2005

The one where I try to be first, again

1. What is the last big "gift" you bought for yourself...either for your birthday, Christmas, or any other holiday? In my life, every day's a holiday.  That being said, I've been sorely neglectful of buying big things for myself.  I can't remember the last thing I bought for myself.  Maybe my house, back in 1998, but that's gone now. 

2. Of the official Vivi Award Categories, if you had to nix one of them, which would you choose? "Most Missed" Frankly, who cares about someone who doesn't write anymore.  I'm not saying there isn't a good reason behind it, but if there's nothing being written, there's nothing you can do about it.

3. Which category would you add that isn't on the list this year? Best use of Irish phraseology in a journal title!

4. Take this quiz:  Which soap opera does your life most resemble? The Young and the Restless.  Never seen it.  I may be still considered young, but I would hardly call myself restless.  Too bad there isn't a show called "The less-than-splendidly-motivated as they appoach 40." 

5. Have you ever heard a song and thought, "Whoever wrote that must know me?"  If so, what song was it, and do you still feel that way? Not really.  I hear plenty of songs that I identify with and see how it could relate to my life, but I am having a hard time remembering anything specific.  Wait, that's not accurate.  Pete Townsend put out a CD in 1985 (I guess technically it was an album then) called "White City" which mirrored how I felt my life was going at that time.  I have worn out copies of this CD, and will do so many more times before I die.  Nine songs, all very intense.  I can listen to it today and feel exactly the same way I did twenty years ago.

6. If your birthday had to fall on a holiday each year, which holiday would you choose and why?  (For this question, assume that holidays like "Thanksgiving," which fall on a different date each year, would fall on the same date to accommodate the question.) July 4th.  I'd want it to be as far from Christmas as possible.  I know some people with birthdays in December and a few years ago they tried to celebrate their half-birthdays instead, which I thought was brilliant.  It didn't catch on though.

03 November 2005


I bow in complete and total greatness to The Onion frequently, but I have never had to pick myself off of the floor before after reading one of their headlines, until today:

New Custard Could Cause Worldwide Flandemic

02 November 2005

Play SCOTUS for me

Sending this out to Samuel Alito.  Enjoy . . .

The more I see
The less I know
About all the things I thought were wrong or right
& carved in stone

So, don't ask me about
War, Religion, or God
Love, Sex, or Death

Everybody knows what's going wrong with the world
But I don't even know what's going on in myself.

You've gotta work out your own salvation.
With no explanation to this Earth we fall
On hands & knees we crawl
And we look up to the stars
And we reach out & pray
To a deaf, dumb & blind God who never explains.

Every body knows what's going wrong with the world
But I don't even know what's going on in myself.

Lord, I've been here for so long
I can feel it coming down on me
I'm just a slow emotion replay of somebody I used to be.

Always wear your helmet

I went to visit my sister down in Metropolitan St. Louis last weekend.  She'll be mad at me for saying that she lives in metro St. Louis.  She lives 45 minutes up I-55 from the city, in Illinois, and gets annoyed when people think of her as being from St. Louis. 

Technically, she lives smack dab in the middle between Springfield IL and St. Louis, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  I'd give you exact latitude and longitude if I were very much concerned about it, but alas, I'm not.

My sister is also upset with me for not including her among the people that I was happy for last week when the White Sox won the World Series.  I had said that while I was eating my heart out as a Cubs fan, I was happy for the few people I had known in my life whom I considered long time, rabid Sox fans.

My sister only fits one of the qualifications.  She's been a Sox fan for many years (hence the term "long time") but I cannot quantify her as rabid.  First, she became a Sox fan because everyone else in the house we grew up in was a Cubs fan.  Sis has always been a feisty little number.  She will deny the reasoning I give for her being a Sox fan, which is her right, but I've never been convinced otherwise.  Still, I give her credit for maintaining her Sox bravado lo these many years.  At least she did not forge her allegiance to Chicago and cross over to the dark side which is the St. Louis Cardinals.  Sadly, not everyone in my family was able to avoid that fate . . .

I do not consider my sister to be a die hard Sox fan because she can't tell you five players who are on the team.  She might still think Carlton Fisk is playing.  I'm throwing myself to the sharks here, I realize, and I am not trying to mock her, but I just feel that there are different levels of fandom.  My good will towards the White Sox extends only to those who live and die by them, because that is how I am about the Cubs.  Only someone who has kept up a ridiculous amount of allegiance throughout their life can understand what I mean.

Anyway, live it up, sis.  Get yourself a few T-shirts, a mug, and maybe one of those pennants that has the roster on it, so that you can always remember those that brought this championship to you.  And don't be mad at me.  I'm not changing my mind, and I know that you will never agree with me.  I'm not calling you artificial or hypocritical.  I accept that you are a Sox fan, have been for a while, and as such, it must be nice to finally see them win, but there are others who I think deserve this feeling just a bit more, and since I have only a limited amount of happiness for Sox fans, you get to go towards the middle of the line.  But you'll still get a nice Christmas present from me.

Back to St. Louis:  On Friday I tried, for the third time, to get up to the top of the St. Louis Arch.  I have a funky relationship with the Arch.  First, up until the time I saw it in person for the first time (1999, I think), I thought it spanned the Mississippi River.  I was a little disappointed to see that it did not.  And no, I am not ashamed to admit this; I've been wrong on a lot of obvious things before.

I was placated by the fact that you can go to the top of the Arch and look out over the city and the river.  I love going to the highest observation points of cities and gazing out at the neighborhoods.  Unfortunately, the first time I visited the Arch was shortly after a fire had rendered the transport system inoperable.  A year or so later, we went to the Arch in the middle of summer.  The transport was working this time, but the air conditioning was not.  You could go to the top, but it was over 120 degrees.  I passed.  Had I gone up, I would have passed out.

This past Friday happened to be the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the St. Louis Arch, and in the late afternoon we made our way over from the north side of town, where we had eaten in a throw back ice cream parlor.  After seeing a great movie about the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 19th Century, we made our way over to the line to go to the top of the Arch.

It's quite an interesting system they use to get you to the top of the Arch.  It's an enclosed roller coaster that goes very slow and only takes 40 people up at a time, five people in eight cars.  It's not for the claustrophobic; there is only a small window in a small door to see out of, and an average sized adult feels their head scrape the top of the car as you move along.  It's like riding in an egg.

When I got in for our trip up, I hit my head on the curved top as soon as I sat down.  It got my attention.  The trip up took about three minutes, and it was amazing to be up at the top of the Arch.  To see out the small windows that look East and West, you have to lie prone a bit on your stomach.  You can look down ninety degrees and see nothing beneath you except Earth.  I don't recommend this if you have ever had a spell of vertigo.  One person in our party was at the top for a grand total of two minutes.

We were the last group allowed up that day, so we got to see the sun setting low in the western sky, a great look at downtown St. Louis (memo to the Cardinals, though, the new baseball stadium looks a lot like every other that has been built in the last decade.  And I think the folks who built SBC park in San Fran might want to see if their blueprints are still locked up) and a long look at the Mississippi.  I loved it.  It was worth the wait to finally get to the top of the Arch.

I would suggest one improvement, though.  They should either cover the walls of the capsule that takes you up and down with padding, or pass out helmets before you first get on.  I managed to crack my head about ten times harder on the way down than I did on the way up.  I was a little loopy(er?) for the rest of the night.

I do enjoy St. Louis.  Too bad I don't know anyone who lives there... 

The price of high comedy

I'm feeling a bit politically feisty tonight.  First, your joke of the day:

A man died and went to heaven. As he stood in front
of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall
of clocks behind him. He asked, "What are all those
clocks?" St. Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks.
Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie
the hands on your clock will move."

"Oh," said the man, "whose clock is that?" St. Peter
replied, "That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never
moved, indicating that she never told a lie."

"Incredible, wow!" said the man. "And whose clock is
that one?" St. Peter responded, "That's Abraham
Lincoln's clock.  The hands have moved twice
telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire life."

"So where's George W. Bush's clock?" asked the man. St. Peter said,
"Bush's clock is in Jesus' office.  He's using it as a ceiling fan."

Thank you.  Don't forget to tip your waitress!

I'm amused by the implosions that this administration has seen recently.  First, Harriet Myers get shuffled on back to Buffalo (is there a Buffalo, Texas?), and if you thought it was her decision solely to withdraw, I have a few hanging chads to sell, cheap.  Then the very next day, Scooter Libby, our esteemed VP's closest aide, gets indicted for perjury, among other things (side note: he deserved an indictment at least for being an adult male yet going by the name "Scooter"). 

I find it interesting, nay, amusing, that there were GOP talking heads all over the spin shows this weekend trying to convey that perjury is not that big of a deal, yet when it was Clinton charged with perjury last century, we were reminded by that same GOP that perjury was just about the worst thing someone could be guilty of.


All this spinning is making me dizzy.  So dizzy, that I haven't yet mentioned the fact that the American soldier death toll in Iraq is now over 2000, and shows no sign of slowing down.  Of course, that number won't make a difference when we all start kicking off from bird flu, which was one of the two topics that Our Fearless Leader has publicly spoken about in the last two days.

The other was the announcement that our next Supreme Court Justice will be a WHITE MALE!  Can you believe it?  This is a bold step for equal rights.  What a uniter this President is, stepping up and making sure that a group that has been passed over far too many times in history is finally represented on the judiciary.

Both sides seem to be drooling over Samuel Alito, though for completely different reasons.  I don't really care whether he gets on the bench or not.  I love the far left wackos who express disdain towards Bush for this nomination.  What would you expect?  Frankly, if W didn't name someone who pandered to his precious base this time, I'd think that he had finally gone off the deep end.  The President has the right to name whomever he wants.  Clinton didn't name any neocons during his term, why should Bush appoint Abbie Hoffman?

They'll be plenty of hypocrisy to come before Alito takes a seat on the bench, from both sides.  The right will be shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, that he will be expected to answer specific questions from Democrats during his confirmation hearings, while the left will be equally stunned that Alito once said the words "pro" and "life" within ten minutes of each other once.

And as long as the comedy keeps coming, I don't really care what happens!

30 October 2005

The one where I don't mention the White Sox

1. What is a bigger pet peeve for you:  someone trying to talk on a cell phone during a movie, a baby crying in a restaurant, a dog barking on your street, or music played loud enough to rattle windows. Let's do a little process of elimination here: if a baby is crying in a restaurant, it's most likely not the fault of the baby, so I can't get annoyed by that.  I could get annoyed if the parent(s) are ignoring the baby, though; dogs bark all the time, and like the crying baby, it's not their fault, it's the way they are wired.  if it goes on too long, I'm annoyed at the owner; since I am guilty every once in a while of playing music loud enough to rattle windows, I don't get annoyed by it (though if I was annoying someone, I'd hope they'd let me know); it's NEVER right to use a cell phone inside a movie theater.  Luckily, I've never had to deal with that, but if I did, I'd have no problem taking the cell phone and making sure it had a very intimate conversation with its owner's pancreas.

2. What is your favorite cologne or perfume that you wear most often?  Which one is the one you like the scent of, but don't wear often or at all? I'm not a cologne kind of guy.  I have a bottle somewhere that my wife gave me a while ago that I sometimes remember to put a little on if we are going somewhere, but I don't even know what it is called.  I prefer "Eau de Moi" and fortunately, I have a failrly pleasant "natural" smell.  You'll just have to take my word on that.  Somehow I think that is just fine with you.

3. In your opinion, what is the best way to tell someone you value how much they mean to you?  Who cares?  How can I concentrate on this when "Vampire Bats" is on CBS in just five short hours! Has there ever been a cooler concept for a made-for-tv movie?  I predict that in the aftermath of this stunning piece of television, the Emmy award will be re-named the "Vampire Bat."  OK, if my arm is twisted: I don't think there is an answer for this because there are different levels of caring for people.  I think actions speak louder than words, though.  And what says "I love you" more than forcing someone to watch two hours of bats attacking people?  It's realism at it's finest.  I am tingling with anticipation.  Christmas comes early this year.

4. Earlier this week, I posted a personality quiz:   If you haven't taken it, please do; if you already have, how accurate were the results compared with your true personality. Nailed it.  I'm middle of the road, not too abrasive, not too challenged.  Modest, too.

5. When was the last time you feel you got as much sleep as you really needed in a single night? I fell asleep last night at midnight (after the time change) and woke up at 10 AM, so I think that qualifies as getting enough sleep.  Man, I love Sunday sometimes.  Remind me of this entry when the first bambino comes along and I have to get up 37 times per night. 

6. If a stranger walked up to you and handed you a briefcase with enough money to pay off every debt you had down to the penny, do you think you could start from then on living debt-free?  At least for a while, but I am more intrigued to know why a complete stranger is giving me money.  Why do I have the feeling that the same person is going to return to my home at some point looking for an internal organ or two?  Another point: what fun is living debt-free?  As someone who has had plenty of debt at times, and at other times been debt-free, I can tell you that life is much more exhilirating when you owe money to other entities.  It's certainly incentive to get up everyday and make something out of your life.  Of course, if it's a vampire bat handing me that briefcase of money...

28 October 2005

Today's lesson

I can't resist posting this.  It's just too funny.  Plus, the tune is catchy.  It'll stay with you for at least the next few hours.

How to become a Republican.

27 October 2005

What it feels like to be a Cubs fan tonight

Because, you know, it's all about me...

I'm actually happy that this is over.  What can I do besides look to the south and tip my cap?  The White Sox had an incredible season, and were absolutely dominant during the post-season.  They will be talking about this team's performance for a long time, as well they should.  Going back to the last five games of the regular season, the Sox were 16-1 in their last seventeen games.

Unbelievable.  They deserved to win.  Their fans never even had time to get nervous about them not winning.  They were never in danger of being eliminated.  Only one word describes it: dominant.

And I'm happy for people I know that are as passionate about the Sox as I am about the Cubs.  I am thinking about a few people who I worked with at one time or another who were die hard Sox fans, that I have lost touch with through the years.  I'm thinking about my cousin, another big fan, who's wife gave birth to their first child, a son, just after this season started.  I hope that he was watching the end of the game tonight with his baby boy sitting on his lap.  I am thinking of everyone who waited years and years to see this day come, but didn't live to see it, and the folks they left behind, who have reason to be just a little more happy now than the rest of the fans do.

OK, so the sappy stuff (which was sincere) is out of the way.  I'm glad that it's over.  I've eaten my heart out so many times in the last two weeks-just ripped open my chest, snatched it out, and snarfed it down.  Then wait an hour or so for it to regenerate, and do it all over again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  It was not supposed to be like this.

Quick history lesson: since I have been alive, the Cubs and the Sox have been in the playoffs an equal amount of times (four).  The results for each, before this year, have been eerily similar, sort of a "can you top this."  To wit:

Example #1
1983: Sox win the AL West, win the first game of the American League Championship Series against Baltimore, then lose three straight.  Can you top this?

1984: Cubs win the NL East, win the first two games of the NLCS, then lose three straight to San Diego.  

Verdict: Cubs top Sox, by one game.

Example #2
1989: Cubs win NL East, first trip to the playoffs since the league championship series expands to seven games.  Lose NLCS to San Francisco, 4-1.  Can you top this?

1993: Sox win AL West, first trip to playoffs since league series expands to seven games.  Lose ALCS to Toronto, 4-2.

Verdict: Sox top Cubs, by one game.

Example #3
1998: Cubs win NL Wild Card, first playoff appearance since playoffs expanded to four teams per league.  Lose first round series to Atlanta, 3-0.  Top this?

2000: Sox win AL Central, first playoff appearance since expanded playoffs.  Lose first round series to Seattle, 3-0.

Verdict: A wash, both teams swept, though Sox did win division while Cubs got in as Wild Card.

Example #4
2003: Cubs win NL Central.  Win first playoff series in my lifetime over Atlanta, 3-2.  Take 3-1 lead over Florida before losing last three games, and series, 4-3.  Team five outs away from going to World Series before it all goes horribly wrong.  Can the Sox top this?

2005: Well, we all know what happened here.

I expected to write "Sox win division, win first playoff series in my lifetime, win ALCS to become first Chicago team to make WS in my lifetime, lose WS.  Making the WS topped the Cubs playoff experience of 2003."

But the Sox had to go and win it.  The unspoken Holy Grail in Chicago baseball was this question: which team would win a World Series first?  Coming into this season, the teams had combined to go championship-less for 185 years.

185 years.  That's why it was unspoken.

I heard a Sox fan on the radio say this today: "I don't know what will be sweeter-seeing the Sox win the World Series, or knowing that they did it before the Cubs."

He's right, as much as I hate to admit it.  Prior to this season, every time the Sox were eliminated, their fans breathed a little sigh of relief when the Cubs were eliminated as well.  And every time the Cubs fell short, their fans rested a little easier knowing that the Sox came up short as well.

And now that is over.  The Sox made it there first.  It's like landing on the moon, getting out of the capsule, and seeing Neil Armstrong there with a "Welcome to the Neighborhood" cake.

The sun will come up tomorrow.  I was not hoping that the Sox were going to lose the World Series, nor was I hoping they would win.  I was just trying to ignore it.  When I was downtown today on my way to school, I just kept telling myself the same thing: I just want it to be over.  Let 'em win, and let's get on with our lives.  When the Cubs finally do win a World Series, I can promise you that the last thing on my mind will be the White Sox.

I need to deal with my envy.  It's going to take a long time.  I can't believe that a Chicago baseball team has won a World Series.  And I REALLY can't believe that the team that finally won a World Series was not the Cubs.  I want what every Sox fan has tonight, the right to say "At least I was alive to see it."  Man, do I want it.  I can't believe I have to wait God knows how long to get it.  I was on the train home tonight, when the game was about ninety minutes old, thinking how different I would be acting if it were the Cubs one game away from winning it all.

I have already determined what is going on here, why this happened.  Baseball, in it's infinite wisdom, is taking care of its longest-suffering fans.  But in a cruel twist of irony, they have decided to do it in reverse order.  Again, to wit:

2004: Boston Red Sox end 86 year championship drought, win first title since 1918

2005: Chicago White Sox end 88 year drought, win first title since 1917

Those are (um, well, WERE) the third and second longest winless streaks in the game.


2006: Chicago Cubs end longest championship drought in history, 98 years, win first World Series since 1908.

How else am I supposed to get to sleep tonight?

By the way, even though the Sox were first to win a World Series, I don't think the "can you top this" game is over yet.  There's one last scenario where I think the Cubs can top the White Sox.  I won't say what it is, because it's out there.  Way out there.  But it could happen.  I'll leave you with one hint:


25 October 2005

Monday, Monday

Tonight was when I realized that I may have my priorities on backwards.

I've been a grad student now for a little less than two months.  I am taking three classes, nine total credit hours.  If I did that as an undergrad, it would have been a cakewalk.  When I was talking to my advisor before registering for this semester, I mentioned that I thought I could handle twelve hours.

She begged me not to.  When I asked why, she just said that I should take three classes to begin with, and if I felt I should have gone with four, to do so in the spring.

Verdict?  I'm taking three classes next semester.  If I had registered for four classes this term, I'd be taking three right now.  I under estimated the amount of work each class would require.  I am not complaining.

Monday night I have a fiction workshop.  I have to read stories by the other people in my class and prepare comments on them, and work on my own submissions.  By the time the semester is done, I will have submitted about 75 pages to the class.  Given the process of writing and revising, 75 final pages is really more like 200, because things wind up being redone over and over.  Wednesday night I have a production class for the university's literary journal, which, while extremely interesting, has been a time killer too.  First, we had to handle the reams of submissions that we received during the three month window we were calling for entries.  It's a small journal.  However, the number of submissions were huge.  The ten of us working in this were happy and relieved when we finished reading everything and made our selections.

And then the actual production began.  And continues.  It's a ton of work.  Again, no complaints.

My degree requires that I take at least three literary classes, and this is where the joy of being a graduate student comes in.  The pickings in the schedule of courses for fall were slim, and I wound up enrolling in a course on Irish Women's literature, emphasizing "the politics of gender."  I love Ireland.  I've been there many times, and I have read many works from authors there.  I thought I caught a break here, and that I would have some type of advantage in taking this class.

Um, no.

Write, write, and write some more.  Then write more.  Uh huh, now write more.  Every Monday night I am up late, trying to find the right choice of words that will accurately portray my understanding of what we will be discussing in class Tuesday afternoon.  I just finished tomorrow's assignment, and this is easily the earliest I have finished since the semester began.  It is not for lack of effort that I am usually toiling late into the dark.  I've been ahead of myself in terms of reading, which has not been that much of a challenge, to be honest.

But the writing?  Yeah, I think I have to write some more.

This class requires a research essay as its final project.  The essay has to be 25-35 pages.  I should have started it in 1975, because I see the December 13 deadline and wonder how exactly I am going to complete this properly.

Anyway, as I was writing tonight about how women in Northern Ireland have a history of being defined by men (please, it's not my opinion, it's what is in the writing), I found myself unable to concentrate at times, because I was letting my creative part of my mind wander over here and think about what I should be including in this blog.  This happens more and more, especially at times when it would be best if my mind just shut down and stayed on course, or when I am trying to fall asleep.

This blog has no deadlines.  But without this blog, I wouldn't be in the place that I am now, setting a course for making a career out of my writing.  This blog gave me the confidence to realize that what has always been my hobby should instead become my livelihood.

So I worry about it from time to time, that I am not paying enough attention to it.  It's what I would think a parent would feel towards their oldest child when other ones come along. 

At some point, I have to write a book length thesis if I wish to complete my MFA.  That no longer seems like such a huge challenge anymore.  I am sure that once I set my mind to it, I will do it, and do it well.  And when I do, this little part of my world will deserve as much credit for it as any level of instruction I could ever receive.

This blog will always be my first born.

23 October 2005

The one where I ignore the baseball result from tonight

Yes, I survived the dentist, but I will be very, very friendly with them by the time next summer rolls around.  Being Irish sucks sometimes!

1. How many products throughout your home are labelled "antibacterial." Just the handsoaps at the sink, and a bottle of purell that we have in the kitchen.  Can you even buy liquid soap anymore that is not antibacterial?  The whole thing is probably a rip-of anyway, and it's not going to save us in a decade or so, when bacteria will just ring your doorball, then engulf you like an amoeba does when you open the door.  Good luck with that.

2. As a general rule, and assuming any required knocking on wood, how often do you get anything more serious than a sniffle or mild cold? I get a knock-down-please-kill-me-now case of the flu about every five years.  I can tell you exactly when the last encounter was: February 2002, the second week of the Salt Lake City Olympics.  You know how NBC likes to brag that they show 3000 hours of Olympic coverage per week?  I can verify that they did so then.  I saw sports that I didn't even know existed, though I was sufferng from a 104 degree fever for a few days.  I was so miserable that I even watched all the ice skating, and if you say that I got chills when Sarah Hughes won the gold, I will remind you that I had a fever of 206 that night.  Thank God for those Olympics though.  I would have gone insane without them.

3. John Scalzi ran
this story about research that suggests the increased use of "antibacterial" products aren't necessary for people who are generally healthy, and might be causing the creation of "superbugs" that are resistant to antibiotics.  Are you more likely to avoid these products after reading about studies like this? Is this before or after we all die of bird flu?  I see a day when the most dangerous place to be is in a hospital.  Who knows what type of paramecium will be lurking in the ER soon.  I do't really worry about the antibacterial stuff.  I do my best to avoid situations where I can get sick.  The most important thing is to not touch anything on your face until you wash your hands.  Now that I am on public transportation three days a week, I have to keep reminding myself that.

Man, what a boring answer.

4. Take this
quiz:  Will you pass the U.S. Citizenship Test? I got 10 of 10.  I think I could have passed this test in kindergarten.  I've always been a little odd.

5. Now that the gas prices have dropped just a little (but nowhere near enough), what's the most you've paid for a gallon of gas so far? I think 3.50 right after Katrina.  Pump up those gas prices, baby.  America needs to get used to the idea of making choices.  I have sympathies for people who have to drive great distances for their job, but I still see a ton of cars on the road that aren't very practical for the times we live in.  Ah, now I'm preaching...

Psychfun:   What was your favorite cereal as a kid?  When was the last time you had a bowl of it? I had two favorites; one was called "Kaboom!" and was some type of cereal with marshmallows in it.  I remember a clown on the cover.  I haven't seen it since I was 8.  The other was "Boo Berry", which I loved because I love blueberries.  It was one of the trio of monster cereals (Count Chocula and Frankenberry were the others).  While I have seen the other two at times, I haven't seen Boo Berry in about 20 years.  I'd kill for a bowl of it right now.

22 October 2005

Yes, I swear I floss

Disclaimer: I have a dentist appointment in about ten hours.  I hate going to the dentist.  I'd rather be forced to sit through the Republican National Convention gavel-to-gavel.  Yes, my fear of modern dentistry is that extreme.  Apologies in advance if I seem a bit all over the place...

1. The nominations are out...and this journal got one, for "best kept secret."  I've been doing this since January 2004, and I am happy to remove the stealth from it.  And a big thanks to Jennifer (she of multiple deserved nominations, by the way), who threw my name out there first.  I appreciate it!

2. An open letter to my nephew: OK, so the Cardinals didn't make the World Series.  I think the sun still came up today.  You're 19, and I love you as much as I will love my own children, but you have no idea what true baseball suffering is.  I've got twice the baggage you have, pal, and until you've lived at least half of your life in desperation thinking that there is NO WAY that your team is going to go a FULL CENTURY without winning the World Series, I ain't got much sympathy.  Ironic, isn't it, that if you hadn't switched allegiances seven years ago you'd be basking in the glow of the White Sox, and driving me even more insane in the process.  The Cardinals haven't won the World Series since 1982?  In the words of the immortal Sam Kinnison, "You've got off light!!!"

3. I've been having a discussion with a few fellow grad students about the misinterpretation of the lyrics to an old song that make it seem like someone is taking indecent liberties with a farm animal.  It's gone on way too long, but one thing I have discovered is that if a state doesn't have a law on its books outlawing this type of thing (and I guess only 30 or so do), it's all the Democrats fault.  I wish this was part of the gag, but sadly, it's a serious "opinion".  Liberals-we stand for inconceivably high taxes, therapy for terrorists, and the right to get it on with Mr. Ed.

4. I was eating lunch at a restaurant yesterday when I had to use the men's room, and well, who was it and how did he/she decided that urinals should be filled with ice?  I hadn't seen this for a while but I have to say I find it fascinating.  Did I miss a report somewhere about the tendency of porcelain affixed to a wall to spontaneously combust?  How would you like to be one of these ice cubes?  You get poured into a machine, freeze your butt off, but once you realize that you're being made into ice, there has to be a little anticipatory excitement.  Will I be part of a cocktail?  Maybe a superstar athlete will toss me into a Ziploc bag and use me to help them recover from an injury!  So may possibilities...wait!  I think this is it, I'm being scooped out of the machine into a bucket...Yes!  Now we're in some room, and I'm being poured into a container.  What's this pink disc in here with us that smells like detergent?  What's this guy doing moving closer to us, I don't see a glass in his hand.  Hey, he's unzipping...what the?  Oh God!  It's all over me!  I'm melting...

What a way to go.  But at least it had nothing to do with a horse...

16 October 2005

This is the way the world ends

It's killing me.  I shouldn't have to see this.  There is only so much that I can take.

(Sigh)  (And that's 2 out of the last 3 entries that I have used the parenthetical sigh-time to shelve it for another year or two)

The White Sox (White Sox!) are in the World Series.

I have to read that line again...


God, this is just not right.

The way I see it, I have two choices here.  I can stab my eyeballs with a fork for the rest of the night, or I can accept it, which is the only way of realistically move on.

Which is worse-envy or jealousy?  Time for a side trip to Dictionary.com


"1. A feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.
2. The object of such feeling:
Their new pool made them the envy of their neighbors."


1: showing extreme cupidity; painfully desirous of another's advantages; "he was never covetous before he met her"; "jealous of his success and covetous of his possessions"; "envious of their art collection" [syn: covetous, envious] 2: suspicious or unduly suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival; "a jealous lover" [syn: green-eyed, overjealous]

I have always thought the difference between the two is substantial.  To envy someone is to want what they have, but to be jealous of someone takes it a step further; not only do you want what they have, but you will go to great lengths to take it from them.

So which am I tonight?

If you are not a devoted fan of a particular sports team, you probably think I am nuts.  But for those of you who do understand what it is like to develop a passion for a certain organization and to have it thrive inside of you even as you age into adulthood, where the cynicism of sports as a business eats away at you, you know how it is.  It becomes a part of you.

I have said it many times in the pages of this journal-the only other constant in my 38 years of life besides my family is the Chicago Cubs.  I have been a baseball fan since I was four.  I can't possibly tell you how much of my life I have devoted to watching, reading and discussing the Cubs.  It's an obscene amount of time. No doubt, there are tons of other things I could have done with that time, which is now gone forever.

I live for Cubs baseball.  I may not be the biggest fan, but I am in the top ten.  Rip me all you want about losing, curses, going to Wrigley Field to be seen instead of watching a game, blah, blah, blah.  It doesn't apply to me.  I am above all that.  I know the game, and I want to see it played well.

Which is pretty much what has been going on all year on the south side of Chicago.  And I can't get into it.  I just can't.  For so many reasons.  I can't watch the Sox on TV because they have the worst announcer in the history of media.  I could stand listening to a screeching donkey do play by play over this guy.  I prefer National League baseball.  I can't stand the man who owns the White Sox, the man who conspired to shut the game down in 1994, when his team had its greatest chance of ending the season as World Series champions.  Think about that: the team you live and die for gets robbed of the one time you can see it win it all, because the owner is part of a group of obscenely rich old man who don't like the economics of the game.  The canceled the World Series that year.  If I were a Sox fan, I would not have been after 1994.

I want what every passionate, knowledgeable White Sox fan has tonight, the feeling of putting their head on their pillow knowing that their team is finally going to the World Series. I want it so bad that my head hurts.  The worst thing about being a Cubs fan is that point in the season where you realize that this will not be the year, that the wait for a World Series will continue.  More times than often in my life, the moment comes rather early in the season.  This year, it came around the end of July.  When it comes late, or very late, as it did in 2003, well, nothing is more cruel.

It sucks, if I may be frank.  It sucked on July 31 of this year to have to say "Man, I have to wait until October 2006 at the earliest to see the Cubs in the World Series."  Do you know how long that is?  There are times that I think that I can't take it anymore.

Do you know anyone who is 97 years old?  Personally, I don't.  I think the oldest people I know are in their mid 80's.  If you know someone who is 97, that person was born in 1908, which just happens to be last year that the Cubs won a World Series.  97 freakin' years. 

The day is approaching where there will not be a single person alive anymore who was the last time the Cubs won it all.

OK, how about 60?  That's 1945.  I know plenty of people who were alive then.  That's actually the last time the Cubs made it as far as the World Series.  I'm 38.  There's 22 years in between.

Back to my envy: when is it going to be my turn, dammit?  Last year Boston (86 years between championships), this year (perhaps) the White Sox (last championship in 1917); when does the largest of them all finally get snapped?

Is it going in reverse?  86 years last year, 88 this year, 98 next?

I'm not jealous, because that would imply that I want the Sox to lose.  I couldn't care less.  I should be happy.  There's going to be World Series baseball in Chicago for the first time in my life. 

But they are going to play it on the wrong side of town.

My shortcomings are my own problem.  Let the White Sox win.  I will put my fingers in my ears and ignore the selected followers of that team that are on cloud nine tonight more so because the White Sox made it to a World Series before the Cubs did.  I know that there are a ton of legitimate White Sox fans in the city.  I also know that there are a lot of Sox fans praying that they win the title solely so they can rub it into the faces of people like me.

I know tons of Cubs fans.  I haven't heard from one about how much they want the Sox to lose.  Most of them don't really care.  Once the Cubs are done, there isn't much reason to be concerned.

And let's not even talk about the possibility that the Sox opponent in the World Series will be St. Louis.

OK, I'm done.  It is so.  The White Sox are in theWorld Series, they have an excellent shot at winning it, and there is nothing to do except accept it.  I wish I could put my allegiances aside and head out to a bar somewhere and woop it up once the World Series begins.  But I can't.  I have my loyalties.  I will eat my heart out this week and next.  And I can't wait until it is over.

The worst part of all this?  Easy, thinking about how close the Cubs came two years ago.  How messed up it was that they were that close, and how quickly it all went away.  There's been far too much blame placed upon someone who was not even wearing a uniform for their demise, which has always been ridiculous.  The team blew it.  That was the hardest acceptance of the "Oh God, I have to wait until at least next October?" ever.  I'm getting physically ill just thinking about it.  And I will again in the future, until it finally happens, until I see the Cubs in the World Series.

Or until I die.

The one where I ask more questions than I answer

1. Who was the last person you sent flowers to?  Who was the last person to send you flowers? I can't remember.  I think I have only sent flowers to someone maybe five times ever.  The last time has got to be at least five years ago.  No one has ever sent me flowers.  I've been sent flour, but that was a disaster that I would rather not discuss.

2. What is your favorite single piece of furniture in your home and why? We have a king size bed.  Might as well be a cloud.  You ever see the cartoon with the dog that floats in the air every time someone gives him a dog biscuit?  That's me when I go to bed.  Every night.

3. You are given the chance to model clothing in a catalog.  What type of clothing would you most want to model and why? I cannot think of any circumstance where I would want to model for a catalog.  I can't even think of a good smart ass response for this.  I am truly stumped.  Wait, of course, what am I thinking?  The answer is so obvious: Victoria's Secret.  Yeah, I've got a secret, and it's name is NOT Victoria!

4. Take this quiz:  What is your "power color?" Lime green.  I think I mistakenly took the "what type of sherbert are you" quiz instead.  How is lime green a "power color"?  Are there other shades of green that are also considered powerful?  Why can't I be hunter green, dark and mysterious?  Or kelly green, drunk and Irish?  Are there 64 types of power colors?  Can I buy them all together in a box that has its own sharpener somewhere? 

5. What product are you mostly likely to buy in bulk?  Have you figured out whether you actually are saving money by doing so? I don't buy things in bulk, but my wife does sometimes.  The last thing she bought in bulk that I use is a bottle of vitamins.  They came in a bottle of 500, and they are the size of walnuts, so it's a large bottle.  But back to the end of my last response: I think the sharpener on the back of the 64 count crayola crayon is the single most UNDER RATED technological advancement in the history of mankind.  Who didn't get a kick out of sharpening crayons?  And what happened to the shavings?  It's like they got sucked into some black hole.  All matter that has formed in the universe since 1970 has been composed entirely of crayon shavings.  Cosmologists across the land, rejoice!  The secret to the universe is...colored wax.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #75 from Mortimer:  Now that winter is approaching, what is your ultimate comfort food? What guilty pleasure do you eat that is sinfully not good for you but, you can't get enough? Geez, after reading this question, I don't think I enjoy food enough.  I get the feeling that I should be filling up a giant vat with some type of food, then leaping in and spending the winter eating my way out of it.  Hmm, winter approaching, and I still haven't filled up any tree stumps with walnuts yet.  I don't think I have any comfort foods, certainly none that I feel guilty about eating, though wouldn't it be amusing if eating too much of a food made you drunk like liquor does?  Can you imagine the hangover you'd get from two pints of Cherry Garcia?  And I feel that before I end this I should explain that I would want to model for a "Victoria's Secret" catalog not because I look good in lingerie, but because we should all simply AIM HIGH.

13 October 2005

I've been a bad, bad boy

Yes, my fellow Americans, I have come out of the proverbial opinion closet.  I have linked to one side of the political discourse.

I wasn't always like this.  I used to be respectful, courteous, open-minded.  Now, I have just lost my way.  How?  How did I manage to let myself become like this?

You may have noticed that I recently enabled the "favorite sites" sidebar on this blog, and that it is filled with assorted political web sites.  I did this because, well, I'm sick of the whole thing.

Anyone who has read more than an entry or two here knows which way I lean politically, especially since March 2003.  However, I am not a die-hard Democrat.  There's a lot about the party that I am not happy with, and I don't agree with everything they stand for either.  I like to consider myself a moderate.  Hell, I'd like to consider myself an independent, but I think that might be stretching it a bit.

I do know, however, that there is no way I will ever consider myself a Republican.  Simply writing that word gives me the willies.  Fortunately for myself, the one or two issues that I tend to think conservatively on (mostly fiscal responsibility) are no longer important issues to the GOP.  I have to admit that I did not think I would ever see the day when it was the Republicans who felt the answer to every problem was to toss money at it. 

Deficits?  What deficits?  I don't have to show you any stinkin' deficits!

Now, my biggest fault in any circle (not just political) is that I tend to spend way too much time on keeping informed.  This means that I read a lot of newspapers and magazines, and I watch for too many news programs for my own good.  Recently I have also been visiting too many right-leaning blogs.  In a never-ending search to know just how the other half thinks, I have OD'd on, well, crap.

If I were to sub-title this explanation, it would be:

"I Fought the Armand, and the Armand Won"

Lest I continue to be labeled as a trouble maker, I would like to make it clear that indeed, I like Armand.  Really, I do.  I think he writes well.  He expresses his opinion and he sticks to it.  And the man can argue like there is no tomorrow.  I was not aware of who he was until his unfortunate encounter with the TOS police this past summer, but I caught up with him in a hurry.  I got the impression that he welcomed and encouraged debate in his comments.  And I think I was very, very wrong about that.

I'm not going to turn this into an Armand bash-fest.  Let's just say that he and I do not see eye to eye on much.  Recently, he wrote an entry about the mayor of New Orleans and his idea to build casinos in his Katrina-devastated town.  Armand wasn't in favor of it.  I happened to read the article about Nagin before I read Armand's entry, and I felt that he left out an intricate part of Nagin's words, and probably did so to make his point stronger.  When I left a comment about that, it unleashed a back and forth between us, and that has happened probably ten times or so previously.

I can get a little rough around the edges when trying to make a point.  But then, so can Armand.  So we go 'round.  And around.  And around.  He doesn't bend.  Ever.  The man can argue until your head spins.

But it's his blog, and he is entitled to do that.  However, I am starting to question whether it is my right to persistently "bug" him about his opinions (note that I said "opinion" and not "fact."  That, I feel, is the gist of where any and all problems arise).  It probably isn't.  I don't know how tolerant I would be of someone constantly coming over here and disagreeing with what I have written.

So I think that I am done speaking up over at Armand's.  I will still visit, and visit often, and probably feel my blood pressure spike now and then, but I should leave the dude alone.  His blog is not about me.  He's never said anything to me about that, never commented on anything outside whatever the issue was, and I have no idea if he even cares about it.

I have left a lasting impression over there, though.  During one of our debates, my head exploded.  I had to stop, find the million little pieces, and put them all back together.  Afterwards, my head still hurt.  My next comment to him simply said that I was done talking about the issue, because debating with him was dangerous to my health.  I also said "debating with you is like trying to fend off a rhino with a whiffle bat."

If you go to Armand's blog, you'll see he now refers to himself as "you're friendly seeing-eyed rhino..."; the man evidently has a sense of humor.  I think that is hysterically funny, both in how it sounds and in the realization that I am somewhat responsible for that moniker.

Back to reality...I can't take all the right-wing stuff coming at us from all over the place anymore.  It's ridiculous.  I am particularly tired of being told that I hate George W. Bush.  I don't hate him.  I hate that he is president.  I hate what he has done since he has been in office.  And, most of all, I hate what he has made America into.  He is supremely unqualified.  No amount of jargon from television, print or the blogosphere is going to change my mind on that.  The happiest day of my life will be when he is finally out of office.

But I digress.  I think I am going to lay off the rants on the political side for a bit, and just let those of you who want to experience it seek it out.  That's why I put those web sites in my sidebar.  "Newshounds" dissects just about everything that appears on Fox News, and is quite informative.  "Crooks and Liars" does a good job of analyzing television news shows.  "Media Matters" does that as well as radio.  I'm not a huge fan of "The Huffington Post" so far and as such that may go.  It's a little too left.  Andrew Sullivan is about as liberal as I am conservative, but he has a gift in that he is able to honestly analyze his own party and is not afraid to call it out.  I disagree him sometimes, but he is as good as it gets.  "The Blue Voice" is a group of people who cut their blog teeth on AOL and got together to counter "The Red Voice," and you can imagine what that is.

I think "be very afraid" is a good way of thinking as you venture over to "The Red Voice".  If you so desire, you can find a plethora of other conservative sights there as well.  Don't say I didn't warn you though.

I'm all for debate.  I'd be happy to link to sites that debunked liberal television and radio IF THERE WERE ANY OF THE FREAKIN' THINGS ANYWHERE!!!  Sorry, I got a little intense there.  We are bombarded it seems 24/7 by the Limbaugh-O'Reilly-Hannity brigade, and I'm a little sick of it. 

So, in closing, I guess I have chosen my side of the fence.  And at the very least, I invite you to see what it is like over here. 

Despite what the louder people say, dissent is healthy.  Dissent is normal, and most importantly, dissent is patriotic.

08 October 2005

And so it goes...

1. What's your favorite brand and flavor of ice cream when you go grocery shopping?  Is there any of it in your freezer right now? That's tough.  I loves me ice cream.  I'll have to say Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, though I'm just as able to pick up a Hagen Daz Rum Raisin instead.  There is none of either in my freezer now.  In fact, it's been a while since I had any of either.  What the hell is wrong with me?

2. When was the last time you ate a fresh fruit as a snack rather than something not "diet friendly?" Just yesterday when I had some pineapple, though I must admit I am not much for fruit.  I've tried, but it either makes my teeth hurt or tastes so sour that it takes a week for me to get my lips back out of my gums.

3. Take this quiz:  What language should you learn? Swedish.  Ironically, I can speak a little Swedish.  For example: "Lus hjound de klemellen en kjodtosalaft" which means "The dog swims in the potato salad" and "Kjold ug mesot gote zwir bregen sjell" which means "please give me back my lingerie before I alert the authorites"; and finally: "Ahl friest kjolsef megurin o sets tal kjwos neivt?" And that means "Is that a bunch of lingonberries in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

4. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #72 from Cdmmw2:  If you could relive one moment of your life and watch it (like a movie) but not interfere, what would it be? Probably the first time I won a little league baseball game with a walk-off hit.  I was 12, it was against the Dodgers, one out, runner on second.  I swung at the first pitch and missed horribly.  I nailed the second pitch over the left fielders head.  Game over.  Understand, I hit the ball to the outfield about as often as a full solar eclipse.

5. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #73 from Debbie:  What was something you were afraid of as a child?  Did you overcome the fear? I was terrified of spiders as a kid, and while I am no longer paralyzed by them, if I come upon one when I am not expecting it, my blood pressure will spike.  And if it is bigger than a quarter, I soil myself.

6. READER'S CHOICE QUESTION #74 from Anna:   If someone were to open your refrigerator right now, what item would it embarrass you most for them to find? I would be much more embarrassed by the sparse selection than anything you would find in there.

Memo to the South Side

It happened again tonight.  I was watching the news.  Top story: White Sox complete a three game sweep of the Red Sox with a 5-3 win at Fenway earlier today.  So do they show highlights?  No.  Interview any of the players?  No.  The first thing they do is go to a reporter camped out at a sports bar to get "the local fans reaction."

Yeah, because we need to see folks who have been drinking since noon talk about a game they can barely remember, rather than see how the game was won.

Hey, any Chicago baseball triumph is reason enough to celebrate.  I am not begrudging anyone for having a few when your team is winning.

So after the obligatory shots of the crowd jumping, screaming, hooting and hollering after the game, they get around to talking to some of the crowd.

And what's the first thing out of the mouth of the first person?

"Take that, Cubs fans."


Why?  Why can't Sox fans get past their hatred of the Cubs?  Memo to Joe Sox Fan: you just won a playoff series for the FIRST TIME SINCE 1917.  The first thing that comes to your mind is to say something bad about the Cubs?

Two years ago, when the Cubs beat the Braves in the first round, how long do you think it took me to say "take that, Sox fans!"?

(The answer is two years, obviously, and I was only doing it for effect).

Now, I'm sure that there exists a Sox fan or two somewhere in the metropolitan area that isn't thinking about the Cubs tonight.  I don't mean to label all Sox fans, but this is ridiculous.  Every year, I hear the same thing:

(When the Cubs sell out every game, while the Sox struggle to fill half the park): "Nobody goes to Wrigley to watch the game, they go to hook up and be seen."


"Cub fans like to go and watch them lose, Sox fans only go to the park when the team is winning." (though that would not explain the crappy attendance their this year)

Then there's the media bias, because the Cubs are owned by the Tribune Company, which owns WGN, which has broadcast Cubs games for the past billion years.  Never mind that the Sox are also on WGN as much as the Cubs.  This year, all 162 games for each team were on TV somewhere, except one.  And if you don't think the Sox are getting media attention, you haven't picked up a newspaper here for most of the summer.

I have heard many, many, many times that Cubs fans really don't care about the team winning, so long as they have a good time at the game.  Until he was traded away after last year, the version I heard of this was "You don't care if they won or lose, as long as Sosa hits a home run."

Well, most of the Sox fans I know seem to fall under the same trap: they don't really seem to care if they win or lose, so long as the Cubs lose.

Again, I am sure that I have mislabeled some of the Sox fans in this town.  It just seems like every one of them is an anti-Cubs fan first, and a Sox fan second.

I have stated previously that as a Cubs fan, I couldn't care less what the Sox do, except for the six games they play against the Cubs every season.  As far as I am concerned, the Sox can go 156-6, so long as the six losses are to the Cubs.

I don't hate the White Sox.  I don't really know any Cubs fans that do.  I don't CARE about the Sox.  I think of them as just another team in the league.  Well, with exceptions.  If the World Series comes down to the Sox and St. Louis, who do you think I will want to win?  As a Cubs fan, I cannot possibly root for St. Louis.  How could I live with myself?  It would be like Reagan defecting to the USSR in the mid 1980's.

The Minnesota Twins are the White Sox main rivals.  Ask an average Sox fan who they would root for if the Cubs were playing the Twins in the World Series.  I bet more than 2/3 would say "Go Twinkies!"

Now, should any Sox fan happen to read this and accuse me of sour grapes, I'd say you're wrong.  I am not jealous of you.  To imply jealousy would mean that I would not want them to win it all simply out of spite.

I am, however, completely, insanely and totally envious.  I want what you have, the experience of thinking that this is it, finally, the year that the team is going to do it.  This is the year that a Chicago team wins the World Series.

Of course I am!  My life will not be complete until I see the Cubs and "World Series Champions" on a T-shirt somewhere.  I have lost sleep over the fact that I may die before this happens.

I used to think that the most impossible thing in my life was for me to get married someday.  I was wrong about that.  Now my greatest fear is that I will never get to see the Cubs win it all.  Sox fans have that dream in the palm of their hand right now, and it is getting closer to the point where they can actually smell it, and they can envision tasting it.

Whether they will get to taste it or not remains to be seen, but for the love of God, can you just enjoy this while it lasts?  Take it from me, it can go away as fast as it arrives.  Ask me how confident I was in 2003 when the Cubs needed to win only one of three possible games left against the Marlins to make the World Series.  I was one confident puppy.  Four days later, I was one shattered puppy; a million little pieces.  I am still finding them in the oddest places.

Should the White Sox lose either in the ALCS or the World Series, I will not climb to the highest point in the area and mock them.  Hell, if they lose to the Yankees or the afore mentioned Cardinals, I will be disappointed.

However, there are other teams out there in the playoffs that I might be compelled to root for should they go up against the Sox.  Atlanta and Houston are teams I wouldn't mind see winning.  That's not a slam against the Sox.  In my mind, the Sox are just another team along with the Braves and the Astros.  Both Atlanta and Houston have more players on their teams that I respect and admire more than I do the White Sox.

It's not about rooting against.  It's about rooting for.

Here's what I don't understand about all this: if you took two guys into a room, locked them in it and then informed them that one was a die hard Sox fan, and another a die hard Cubs fan, they'd probably argue for a while.  But if you took both of those guys and sat them together at Soldier Field to watch the Bears against anybody, they's high five each other whenever the Bears did something good, or their opponent screwed up.

It's about Chicago.

So if at the end of the month the White Sox are popping champagne, I will at least be resigned to the fact that for once in my time on the Earth, I saw a team from Chicago win a baseball title.  Think about this: how many people do you know who were born in 1917 and are still alive?  How about 1908?

The Sox haven't won a WS since '17.  The Cubs since '08.  Personally, I don't know anyone who was alive then.  That's a COMBINED 183 YEARS of BASEBALL INEPTITUDE.  It's a miracle that any of us even leave our houses.

If the Sox win, I don't begrudge their fans anything.  I will be envious as all hell, but that does not mean I wish they didn't win.  So please,enough about the Cubs.  They are not relevant to the success or demise of this team anymore.  You had your shot at them.  You beat them three times, and they beat you three times.  If the Sox win, I may be the first to congratulate them.

Unless I see or hear someone make a reference to the Cubs within 48 hours of winning.  Then all bets are off.

Please, don't make me look more of a fool than I already am.

07 October 2005

Just hanging out along the wall

Let's say that I have been invited to a party.  It really doesn't matter how many people are going to be there, odds are I'm going to end up in the same place: hanging out along a wall or something, observing, talking to a few people I know, and just watching what's going on around me.

In the past, I would have said that it was solely due to shyness, but that isn't true anymore.  I reached a point in my life somewhere in the last decade where I don't really care what anyone thinks about me anymore.  Now, I just feel more comfortable being low key, letting other people control the flow.

That's kind of how I am around here, I think.  There is this community that has been created on AOL since they started the journals in the summer of 2003.  Some of them are the life of the party.  Others are invited, but never show up.  Some came and left early.  And some of us just sort of hang out in the background.

No complaints about any of that.  When I first started listing other journals on the front page of mine, my only rule was that it had to be interesting.  But I realize that it's an expression of my opinion as well.  Everyone's other journals list is; I am fully aware of who has my journal listed on theirs.

Last year, when my journal was barely crawling, they had a round of awards, voted on by people in the AOL community.  I didn't vote.  I didn't feel like I had been around enough to honestly interpret and grade the journals nominated.  But I thought it was an excellent idea.  The most important thing about these journals is the writing, and paying tribute to some of the exceptional writing that went on around here seemed like a good thing to do.

Well, I was wrong.  Turns out it was a great thing to do.  And it's happening again soon.

I admit sometimes that I feel frustration when I write something that I think is pretty good, yet I don't get any comments about it.  I realize that non-AOL readers cannot leave comments, and most of the people I know who read this are not AOL members.

It's about the writing anyway.  This journal, started in January 2004, was the thing that got me into the habit of finally, finally writing on a regular basis.  I tried for so long to find a way to become a dedicated writer, someone who sat down just about everyday and wrote.  It didn't matter about what, just that I was writing.

I know I've wrote plenty of crap on these pages.  But I also know that on occasion I have written stuff that I did not think I was capable of.

So where am I going with this?

Well, a few days ago I was browsing around a journal created for others to stop by and mention some of the journals they read and which category they think they should be nominated for, and I saw that Jennifer had mentioned me for "Best Kept Secret."

Wow.  How nice of her.  I was blown away by that.

I have already noticed a slight increase in the number of daily visitors I have since then.  That is the best thing about all this, the chance to get more people reading the words that I write.  Don't get me wrong, it would be cool to be recognized by the others here as an exceptional writer, but I already feel that I am.

I love doing this.  I love it so much, I've gone back to school to further advance whatever talent I may have and find a way to make a living out of it.

But yeah, I'm feeling a little greedy lately.  I want more readers.

There's room for plenty of more people up against the wall.  And it's close to the keg.