30 April 2009

Seems a simple question

Should it keep raining here, I may change my answer.

27 April 2009

A long distance call to arms. And legs.

We live in a house that is over fifty years old now, with a partially unfinished basement that has lots of nooks and crannies, and some damp areas. I knew it when we bought it, but since it was winter I was able to put it out of my mind:

We're going to be battling bugs.

In my previous homeowner adventure I found that having a cat helps keep things in the basement, and we have two now, so I'm hopeful that they do their job. But as we found out tonight, visitors can make it up to the second floor.

I was in the living room (our bedroom is directly above) when I heard Kristen hightail it out of there and come down the stairs like her feet were bowling balls. She's actually pretty good about dealing with bugs-she's eliminated many a spider for me (I hate spiders; it's a long story, but man, do I hate them)-but apparently when she went into her closet to pick out clothes to wear tomorrow she was greeted by something with many, many legs staring back at her from a hanger.

I never saw it, but judging from her description I'm pretty sure it was a centipede. While harmless, they are freakin' ugly. I give her credit for making it down the stairs. I would have hit the floor right there, as I am one not much for surprises.

I never found the offending menace, which no doubt descended back into the darkness of the baseboards, and it's been a few hours. I haven't heard any cries for help from my sleeping wife so I assume all is well. For now, at least. I really am not looking forward to what we come upon when the humidity edges up to rain forest quality in summer.

If it gets really bad, I might give this guy a call. He seems to do very well with roaches, so I'm sure he could handle the rest. I'm not digging his dance moves though.

26 April 2009

Subterranean Second Ammendment Homesick Blues

Saturday, in the Roseland neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, a memorial to children murdered by gang violence-built in a vacant lot-was dedicated.

Mayor Richard Daley was there, expressing his disbelief over the "acceptance" of gun violence not only in his city, but in all of America.

I wasn't there. I haven't seen the memorial, but I'd wager that each and every child memorialized is of a minority representation.

And it makes me angry that none of the people who spoke at the event will cross the line that needs to be crossed: a majority of the citizens in the US who are being slaughtered by guns are from urban, minority neighborhoods.

Daley complains about the assault weapons ban being overturned but he is missing the point. Sadly, he knows what the point is. He just can't acknowledge it, because it wouldn't be politically savvy.

What he should have said today was this:

"Look around you. Look at the faces on this memorial. Look at the faces of the people here who mourn their children. Realize that in our society, violence is skewed towards urban minorities. Now get angry. Use your anger positively: ask your leaders, your elected officials, why they find it acceptable for this to happen. Ask them why they are OK with this slaughter, because we all know that if this level of death and violence occurred suddenly in affluent areas, there would be steps taken to ensure that it stopped. Tell them that you will not tolerate this any longer, that attention must be paid to those less fortunate."

Can you imagine this? I'm not one to believe that race should be injected into societal debates as often as it is, and am loathe to see the usual suspects jump in front of the cameras at the very hint of injustice, but this is different. The facts are clear: if one is going to die at the hands of a bullet in this country, the odds are overwhelming as to where it will be.

Why is it tolerated?

3000 people died on September 11, 2001. Ten times that amount died from gunshot wounds that same year in the US.

Number of people killed in America by terrorism since 9/11: zero (fact).

Number of people killed in America by guns since 9/11: 210,000 (estimate).

We have abandoned the principle that all men are created equal in this country.

19 April 2009

From the Fir Tree State

"The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle
And the hills the greenest green, in Seattle
Like a beautiful child, growing up, free an' wild
Full of hopes an' full of fears, full of laughter, full of tears
Full of dreams to last the years, in Seattle"

Any guess where I might be writing this from?

When I was a kid I vaguely remember a dude named Bobby Sherman and a show he was on called "Here Come the Brides." I don't recall ever watching it, but the guy seemed like a big deal.

Years later, I became a huge fan of "The Critic." If you've never watched it, you can see an entire episode here. I'm a sucker for animated shows with self-loathing main characters, and this is the Mt. Everest of such shows.

I can't find a clip of the scene that I really want here: the critic's name is Jay Sherman. In one show he finds himself trying to use his public persona to get a date, and a woman squeals with delight at meeting him. I don't remember what she does, but his teenage son immediately says "Dad, she thinks you're Bobby Sherman." Not to miss out on his chance, Jay grabs a microphone and starts singing "Seattle" (where the above lyrics are from), which apparently was the theme song to "Here Come the Brides."

Welcome to my world, where obscure references are ready to pop out without warning. My brother-in-law lives in Seattle (in the quite lovely Magnolia district) so we are in the midst of a four day weekend trip here. I've been to Seattle once before, in the summer of 2003, but Kristen has not.

And yes, this means that we put Desmond on a plane. For four and a half hours. For the first forty-five minutes he earned a solid D-, not wanting to sit still, shrieking and thinking he could throw whatever he got his hands on. Once we got into the air he mellowed considerably, and though he barely slept he improved to a B+. Thank God for flirtatious flight attendants and the couple sitting behind us who miss the heck out of their own grandchildren. Hopefully our return flight tomorrow is as smooth.

I like it here. They are actually having a spring here, and there are flowers blooming all over the place. I'm wondering if Seattle translates to "place of giant tulips" in some other language. We've explored a lot of the neighborhoods along with the downtown pier (I find the market to be a bit underwhelming). I was hoping to get to a Mariners game but it looks as if driving by Safeco Field is the closest I'll get to Ichiro and Junior on this trip.

I don't want to go back to Chicago unless it is perpetually 75, and it isn't. By the time we land tomorrow it will be 40. I went to last Thursday's Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley (bite me, St. Louis) and froze my extremities off. I expect to see glaciers coming in off Lake Michigan any day now, and the experience at the game was an adventure in pure obnoxiousness (which is another entry all its own) and made me feel like I was sixty years old.

I've been typing this with one hand while Desmond sleeps in my other (actually on it, since he is atop my entire left arm, which I can feel nothing of) and it makes me appreciate the slower pace of life here. As soon as he wakes we will head down to the Space Needle and the area around there. Lots of hills in Seattle.

It was clear enough here yesterday to see Mt. Rainier off in the distance. I want that view in my backyard, or on the expressway, somewhere, anywhere in Chicago. All I've got now are billboards.

15 April 2009

To so easily prove a point

Think all that "teabagging" today wasn't directly about Obama?

I beg to differ.


Is that a tea bag in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

So, um, were you aware that today is, um, a big day for, um, teabagging?

Yes, today, April 15th, is not only Tax Day, it is Teabag Day. Dozens upon dozens of people who are mad as hell are gathering all over the country to...well, I'm not quite sure what they are doing. Whatever it is they are trying to say, they are saying it with tea.

A little history: The Boston Tea Party was an act of civil disobedience in 1773. Cue Schoolhouse Rock:

He taxed their property,
He didn't give them any choice,
And back in England,
He didn't give them any voice.
(That's called taxation without representation,
and it's not fair!
But when the Colonies complained
The king said: "I don't care!"

He even has the nerve
To tax our cup of tea.
To put it kindly, King,
We really don't agree.

Gonna show you how we feel.
We're gonna dump this tea
And turn this harbor into
The biggest cup of tea in history!

OK, enough history. Today's protest is all about...well, again, I'm not sure. I do know that I first heard about a tea uprising in the aftermath of the economic stimulus bill that passed shortly after President Obama took office. A popular buzz was that one could spend one million dollars per day since the birth of Christ and still not have spent the $787 billion in that bill. Quick math: 2000 years, 365 days per, that's 730,000 days, and $730 billion. Clearly, Obama's spending is out of control, and he must be stopped. Why, if any American president attempted to spend that much money, there's be protests all over the place, right?

Wait a tic. Go back to the birth of Christ, and spend FOUR million dollars per day (go ahead, I'll wait, you deserve the Lamborghini). Done? Great. You still haven't spent the amount of money President Bush did on his two wars, his medicare prescription drug benefit package, and the TARP bailout of last fall.

So, teabaggers, you've done this before, right? There were"uprisings" aplenty when Bush was spending like, well King George, yes? No? Really? Must be something else.

Oh yes, how silly of me! Taxes! Taxes, taxes, taxes! Why, that scoundrel Obama has slammed the American people since he got into office with a tax break for ninety-five percent of us. Who the hell does he think he is?

And the rich are getting soaked, I tell you. Soaked like a baseball glove left out in the rain! Do you realize that the top five percent of wage earners in the country are paying ten percent less in taxes then they were under that bastion of tax relief, President Reagan? That's completely unacceptable!

In reality, the only taxes that have gone up under President Obama are those on tobacco. If the teabaggers are protesting taxes, they must be mighty confused. Obama is doing exactly what he said he would on the campaign trail, reduce taxes for a great majority of people, yet that is an alternate reality for those Lipton and Tetley screamers today.

An aside here: protesting against taxes is pretty much a libertarian passion, but you'll be shocked to know that this tea movement has been hijacked by the GOP, and promoted like hell on FOX, the fair and balanced network. HA! They have anchors hosting shows from protest locations today. Can you imagine the aneurysms they would be having if the folks at MSNBC we running ads for war protests and hosting from them back in 2004?

But here is what cracks me up the most about the Republicans: every time they think they are being "hip" (see "Steele, Michael"), they instead demonstrate that they are completely out of touch. I don't know how many times I have heard someone on TV saying that they were going "teabagging" today. Excuse me for releasing my inner thirteen year old, but do they have any idea what that means? How am I not supposed to have my lunch come through my nose when they interview Ethel from Oklahoma, who proudly proclaims that she has "never teabagged before" and is "looking forward to it"?

(OK, it occurs to me that there might be a person or two out there who has no idea what I am talking about, so in the interest of being informative, go here-but be warned that it's not rated PG-if you need to know why I cringe every time I hear Glenn Beck talk about going out to teabag.)

So where was I? We've determined so far that: if you protested today because of outrageous spending, and you didn't do it when George W. Bush was out of control, you're full of it. If you protested today because you're outraged over your skyrocketing taxes, you're full of it.

What else is left?

How about you're protesting because the candidate you voted for lost in November, and it drives you absolutely bonkers that Obama is president now. How about you're protesting because it drives you crazy that the Democrats are in control, and you will do anything to express the contempt that you have for them, even though that when your Republican president and Republican-controlled US Congress were doing worse, you sat on your ass and did nothing, because Armageddon under the GOP is better than anything under the Democrats, at least in your view.

Admit your partisanship, and I'll at least give you credit for being honest. Otherwise, where the fuck have you been for the last seven years?

I leave with this video. Watch the first two minutes, forty-one seconds (actually, just listen to it-that's the key). It's fookin' brilliant.

Oh, those eyebrows

Maybe it's because it's really late and I'm really tired, so tired that I can barely remember how to spell "remember."

Or maybe it's the whole Desmond thing. I'm definitely much more sentimental now then I was fifteen months ago. I can hear him snoring over the baby monitor, and it sounds like Beethoven.

Whatever. I strongly recommend spending the next seven minutes and thirty-four seconds watching Susan Boyle. I abhor shows like this, yet I could watch this particular clip over and over again.

(I'd embed the video, but that function has been disabled by YouTube for some reason)

12 April 2009

Useful shot, that

I know a lot of people find it quite boring, but I've always enjoyed watching golf on television. When I was a kid and trying to learn the game, it was helpful to remember what I had seen so I could try to copy the form of the professionals.

That was the idea, anyway. I'm a better-than-average golfer, probably. By the time I was 16 (I started playing when I was 14) it was pretty much a guarantee that I'd break 100, and by 21 I was a good bet to break 90. By the time I was 30 my handicap was single-digits; the lowest I ever got it down to was 6.

Things have changed mightily. I don't play enough now to have a handicap, but if I did I'd guess it would be around 15. Breaking 90 would a big deal (I haven't busted 80 in a long, long time), and I'm just as likely to shoot 100 instead.

I'm sure if I played more, as much as I used to, things would be different, but I'm OK with the things in my life that have led me to play less golf (***cough-DESMOND-cough***). And I have some physical issues that have started to affect the way I play-my knees are twenty-five years older than the rest of my body, and my back hates me.

I've been playing golf for 28 years, and I never once thought I'd ever be in a position to make some money off of it. That fact makes me even more impressed when I watch the game on TV now, how some of these players can drill shot after shot with millions of dollars on the line.

I think the golf world is just a tad over-saturated on Tiger Woods these days, but there is an ample reason-the guy is the best player in the world. He does things on the course that amaze everyone, like winning the US Open last year with what was essentially a torn ACL and a fractured leg.

When I watch a sporting event I tend to drift away from the favorites-I root against teams like the Cowboys, Lakers, Celtics, Yankees, etc (no doubt my lifelong allegiance to the Cubs plays a part in this)-and golf is the same way. I'm kind of tired of seeing Woods win everything. So this afternoon, as the final round was winding down, I was gritting my teeth at the idea of Woods coming back from seven shots down to win at Augusta for the fifth time.

And then came 18.

Yowsa. How many times have we seen Woods pull a shot out of his backside and turn a troublesome hole into one of glory? (maybe that's not the best way to say that...) Woods was under the pine trees on eighteen, needing a shot only he can make, to have any hope of winning.

He gripped it, ripped it...and watched the ball ricochet right off a tree and ninety degrees away. Game over.

And I am quite sure that is the only time I have ever watched Woods hit a shot and said "big deal-I do that all of the time."

So a dude named Angel wins on Easter. Seems OK to me.

06 April 2009

I will not be sucked in

I caught most of the Cubs' opening day 4-2 win over Houston, and they looked really good. I know it's just one game of 162, but it's always a pleasure to watch a well-played game of baseball.

They are stacked again this year, and might even be better than they were last year, when they won 97 games.

And I will not be sucked in!

I mean it. I had an epiphany last October, when the Cubs fall flat on their collective butts and didn't even win a freakin' playoff game.

For me, the Cubs might as well be playing English Premier League Soccer.

The EPL plays a full regular season, and nothing else. The champion is whoever does the best during the season-there are no playoffs.

It's a perfect setup.

The Cubs play in the National League Central along with Houston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Milwaukee, and they are demonstrably better than those five other teams. There's no reason why they shouldn't win the division by a wide margin.


Playoffs? What playoffs?

(*I reserve the right to come back here in October and delete this post if...ah, never mind)

Sins of the father

For as long as he has been able to, Desmond gets the hiccups when he laughs. Sometimes I feel bad about this, when I make him laugh because I get such a kick out of listening to him giggle, and he spends the next fifteen minutes hiccuping.

I made Desmond laugh about six hours ago. He did not get the hiccups.

I, however, have had them pretty much ever since.