Friday, July 29, 2005

Yay, its the police!

It doesn't take much to ruin a street. Just lousy neighbors. MJ and
I went out to #1 Pho for dinner and then went to Joseph-Beth at
Legacy. We got home around 10ish last night. We pull into our
street, and there are over a dozen of our idiot neighbors just
standing around in the middle of the street with no sense of purpose
whatsoever. One skinny girl was obviously drunk or high, and they
kept yelling at her that she was drunk. And they kept yelling in
general. And with no purposeful motivation did they even get out of
the way of my car so I could simply drive down the street.

But eventually they did move -- but in a way that seemed oblivous to
the fact that I was there at all. And they kept yelling and
hollering. So I went inside and called the police. Turns out my call
was the second call already. And within 5 minutes, the police were
there -- and on the speaker tells them to go to their homes and quiet
down or be cited for disorderly conduct. All they quietly, but still slowly, walked to two different two family houses across the street.

And as soon as the police left, they came right back out. And I
called again. And this time I described the skinny high girl in full
detail. She was jumping up and down on her porch so loudly that I
could hear her from across the street and inside my house with windows
closed and the AC on. They came back out. And stuck around for

On the phone, the cop knew which house was the problem. I told him my
street number and said it was one of the houses across the street from
me. He correctly ID'd it as 1679. Its a rental. I think my next
step is to contact their landlord for them. I may be moving away next
month, but till then, I don't want to hear their yap.

T-Shirt Hell ... for Harry Potter Fans

(SPOILER ALERT ... do NOT click on that link if you don't want a key event from the new book revealed to you... but if you are REAL HP fan, you already know!)

Hey, Harry Potter fans.

Don't have time to read the book? Click here and get the shirt!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

My "Loss"

Just stepped on the scale. It would appear that I have lost 8 pounds
since I wrote that post the other day about My Fat Old Self. That
hardly seems possible. Although the last couple of days have been
very stressful at work, and I haven't had time to eat. Yesterday I
ate a half a piece of angel food cake, a slice of pizza, and can of

That's all I had time for. Wasn't really my intention not to eat.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Train set and match spied under the blind
Shiny and contoured the railway winds
And I've heard the sound from my cousin's bed
The hiss of the train at the railway head

Always the summers are slipping away

A 60 ton angel falls to the earth
A pile of old metal, a radiant blur
Scars in the country, the summer and her

Always the summers are slipping away
Find me a way for making it stay

When I hear the engine pass
I'm kissing you wide
The hissing subsides
I'm in luck

When the evening reaches here
You're tying me up
I'm dying of love
It's OK

-- Steven Wilson

Monday, July 25, 2005

My Fat Old Self

A few months ago, I lost my voice. I had to go on a special diet to
get it back. I was diagnosed with LSR. In simple terms, I had acid
reflux going all the way up to my larynx. Having coughed my vocal
cords raw, the acid was preventing them from healing.

I now take Protonix, or I am supposed to take it. I am forgetful
about taking it. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and
can taste the acid, but usually only if I ate something spicy right
before I went to sleep.

But going back a bit, I went on a special diet to get my voice back.
Not only did I regain my voice, but I lost 10 pounds. Yay!

But now that I have gotten "better" -- not only have I slacked on the
diet, but I've regained the weight and then some. Over the weekend, I
was realizing just how terrible I look in the mirror. The odd thing
is, MJ is very conscientious about her weight, and I think she looks
great. But I look at myself, and I feel like I am the one who should
be upset. Indeed, I am upset.

But will I finally do something about it? I did a low-carb diet a few
years ago, back when they were still somewhat outside of the
mainstream. I lost 30 pounds in three months, and I felt great and
looked pretty good too. I kept it off for awhile, but I put it back
on little by little over time.

I now weigh 10 pounds more than I did when I went on that low-carb
diet back in 2000.

And now, with everything else going on, I feel like I need to motivate
myself to make some changes. I need to exercise, I need to eat
better. I am getting old enough that if I don't make some changes
now, I'm really going to pay for it -- sooner rather than later.

Part of the problem is I'm so damn busy. I eat convenience foods, and
I like them. I eat out, and I am sure I am not eating well when I do.
I know that high fructose corn syrup is bad, and I avoid it. Or at
least I feel guilty about it as I stuff my face with it. I know there
are good carbs and bad carbs, and I avoid refined white bread and
sugar, but c'mon. I know I eat too much, and I still eat the wrong
stuff. I've gotten away from eating fruit, because I was supposed to
avoid citrus.

A lot of it is stress. A lot of it is the fact that certain food can
make me feel better. And doing what I do, I can't afford to sit
around and feel bad for myself. So a little chocolate can be a big
pickmeup. A lot more chocolate should be too, right? But its not.

My clothes don't even fit right now. I have shorts that are too
tight, suits that are too tight. I look terrible. I feel even worse.
Not just sluggish and no energy, but sad too. But maybe this is what
I need to get myself in gear and do something about it. And knowing
that a few of you might be reading this might guilt me into finally
waddling away from the trough and eating sensibly. But more likely
I'll just continue to be a pig.

And as I write this, I'm hungry. Dammit.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Wal, 'Bou, 'Bots, Pho

MJ and I were looking for a household item that Target didn't carry. We walked into WalMart for the first time in months.

While looking for said item, we came across an endcap with the above product on display. I said, "Look! White trash, bags!"

Yes, I am easily amused.

* * *

I ran into Aliasgrace and BMac again, this time at Caribou Coffee. Are they following me, or am I following them? I sat at Caribou and enjoyed coffee and went over some stuff from work.

* * *

While at Coventry, I stopped by Big Fun -- a toy store that carries vintage toys and other oddities. They had this blast from the past:

An original Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots by Marx Toys. My paternal grandparents used to work at the Marx toy factory in Girard, PA. As a kid, many of my toys were Marx toys. My grandma's basement was full of them! My mom would let me play with anything but the toy guns (which Marx made a lot of!)

If you never played this game, let me explain. Those controllers would move the robots within the arena, and each button would make the left or right arm throw a punch. The head on each robot was spring loaded, like a jack-in-the-box. The object was to make the other robot pop its head. Hours of fun!

This one, while used, came in the original box and had some of the original score cards in it -- so you could write down who won over nine rounds.

They wanted $100 for it. No, I didn't buy it.

* * *

MJ and I went to #1 Pho for dinner on Saturday. So what if I was there for lunch yesterday! It was spur of the moment, but why not see if anyone else wanted to go? I tried calling Kristen and RAN -- but they were still in Erie. I tried calling Aliasgrace too, but apparently I do better just guessing where she and Bmac might be! So we went to dinner. Apple was there! And we tried something different this time. MJ had a chicken and rice soup with chicken broth, I had chicken broth with pork, shrimp and squid. Not bad, but regular beef pho is still my favorite.

* * *

MJ was supposed to work today, but then she got it off. I have more things to do for work today. Oops. But we're going to maybe go on a bike ride this morning, before it gets too hot.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Hey Buick Driver Get Out of My Way!

Cruising down Mayfield road this evening ... me in the Vapor Trailer, MJ in Meatball ... we were thwarted from arriving home at a decent hour and in decent time by every Buick on the East Side. A whole goddamn parade of them. Buicks and Buick drivers are menaces. I've said it before, they must all lose their licenses immediately, and traffic congestion problems would be solved.

INDEED at the intersection of Mayfield and Richmond there was a fender-bender. Some SUV driving maniac rear-ended a lobotomized LeSabre driver. I am sure that the SUV driver was just trying to help the Buick along by giving it a little nudge. God knows I've been tempted to.

This is how I see most Buicks. From behind. Look, he's braking through the goddamn curve!


This time Kristen writes about lunch at #1 Pho.

Gasp of Air

Busy at work! Drinking coffee! Visions of Idlewood dancing in my head!

I wrote two entries on the Adventure in Idlewood Blog today... check it out!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Adventure in Idlewood

After the inspection yesterday, which went very well (just have to wait for the results of the radon test) MJ came up with the idea of starting a separate blog for the new house.

Adventure in Idlewood

We'll both be posting to it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Those Rockefeller Homes in Forest Hills

If you have ever been attracted to someone who was living on the wrong side of the tracks, and just burned for her (or him), but knew that it just wouldn't and couldn't work out, then maybe you might understand how I feel about the homes on Brewster in East Cleveland in the Forest Hills subdivision.

MJ and I went and looked at FOUR of these, out of curiousity. And to see the street, you wouldn't think, you wouldn't suspect that it is located in the most depressed and downtrodden suburb of Cleveland.

These houses are gorgeous, and so very well built. They were all built in the late 1920s by John D. Rockefeller Jr. French chateau architecture, slate roofs, exquisite tile, the basement garages -- and all of them are on the National Register of Historic Places. Rockefeller's vision was that the whole subdivision would be covered with hundreds of these beautiful homes. Instead, only about 81 of them were built when the Great Depression hit, and that was that.

Maybe it comes from growing up at Shandy Hall. But there was and still is something that just sings to me about these homes. But they are in the middle of ghetto! Well, not exactly. They are "up the hill" from the ghetto. I learned from a co-worker who GREW UP in one of these homes that in East Cleveland, the distinction is whether you live "up the hill" or "down the hill."

Well, anymore, the distinction is whether you are north (bad) or south (better) of Mayfield Road -- and that takes out the entire Forest Hills subdivision--even though more than half of it is actually in Cleveland Heights. I live north of Mayfield now on Eddington, I wonder what the hell I was thinking.

Still, as much as I like the house in UH, there is something about those houses that is just magical. And being inside them, they all felt like home. Even though I NEVER could send my kids to East Cleveland schools, and god forbid if I ever needed a cop.

Still, like that maligned and distressed but graceful and classy girl on the wrong side of the tracks, I find myself in lust. But to spend $200k for a house in EAST CLEVELAND? Even though I'm sure they'd go for twice that if only they were in Shaker Heights...

It makes no sense. And it doesn't matter. I still want one.

Justice Clement?

I mentioned her name in my Sunset on Sandra Day post, and there is a lot of buzz about her today.

Sullivan Answers His Own Question

from Andrew Sullivan's blog:

FACTOID II: It's a little hard to verify the Harper's Index statement cited below, because it does not specify who the "nine" Founding Fathers were. The definitions vary in number and importance. But it is nevertheless true to say, from all that I have read, that the following seven critical early American leaders were Deists and denied the divinity of Jesus: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, and Thomas Paine. In fact, can you imagine what a senior Republican would say today about the following statement: "The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion"? That's from the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli, Article XI, passed by the Senate under John Adams' presidency. No one saying that could be nominated in today's explicitly Christianist GOP. In fact, many of the statements of the Founding Fathers sound more like Christopher Hitchens than George W. Bush - and would be characterized as bigotry by much of the Republican right. It's important to realize that today's Christianists are not representative of the constitutional order and philosophy of this country's founding; and are, in fact, one of the deeper threats to the maintenance of the freedom bequeathed to Americans as a birthright. Some online resources here, here, and here.

America Is Not a Christian Nation

Andrew Sullivan posts this on his blog, from the Harper's Index, and questions it:

"Number of America's nine "Founding Fathers" who denied the divinity of Jesus: 7"

Now, I am not sure what methodology was used to determine that there were only nine Founding Fathers. I am sure there are lots of decedents of Edward Rutledge, Caesar Rodney, William H. Lee, John Hancock and others who would be offended by the notion that these men
aren't considered to be in the same tier as Jefferson, Adams, Madison and, of course, Washington, Franklin and Hamilton. So this "nine" number -- I am not comfortable with that.

But the "divinity of Jesus" -- that's a key phrase. And at the time of this nation's founding, many men, including many of the Founding Fathers, were Deists. And Deists did believe that Jesus was a great teacher, but that he was not divine. Deism advocated natural religion and natural law, and took a "clockmaker" approach to the creation of the world and the universe -- that god put all into motion, thenstepped back.

The constitution does not mention any diety. It does not say, "We the People, under God, in order to form ..."

The Declaration of Independence refers to "nature's god" -- that would be Deism. Indeed, the idea that legitimate government is had only by the consent of the governed, flies in the face of the Divine right ofthe Christian monarchs to rule.

I do not have a definitive list of Founding Fathers and their religious beliefs. But I can tell you there is plenty of evidence that Washington, Jefferson and Madison were all Deists. And John
Adams, a Unitarian, didn't believe in hell.

John Adams also signed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797, which passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate, which contains a very interesting statement at Article 11:

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and, as the said States never entered into any
war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

Now, I can imagine why they'd make such an affirmative statement -- the U.S. wanted to be clear that they were not going to set forth on any European type crusades against these Muslims. So they state it affirmatively: we are not a Christian nation, we are not going to have
differences with you on religious grounds because there is no official religion in the U.S.

Not so radical, really.

inspection time!

We will have the house inspected on Wednesday -- the general
inspection, inspection for pests, and radon test. I hope they find
nothing dreadful, of course. If they do, if they find a serious
problem, we can renegotiate or back out of the deal. Of course, I
don't want that to happen! What a set back that would be!

But it really is the last hurdle. The mortgage -- that's just a
matter of shuffling around the papers at this point. But the home
inspection could kill the thing.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A Pack Rat Begins Packing

Over the weekend, MJ and I scored some boxes and began packing. There
are some things we know we can do without until we move, such as most
books and things like that.

The boxes -- we picked these up at the beverage store up at Severance.
I love using liquor boxes. First of all, they are nice and sturdy.
Secondly, the neighbors freak when they see them! Why, of course
that's all scotch and vodka and whiskey -- don't you keep a similarly
sized stash, you know, for emergencies?

I also had a bunch of bankers-type document boxes from my last move.
The pop right back into shape -- and those are nice because they are
all uniform in size, and they stack well.

I still have to go through my personal files and discard everything I
don't need to keep anymore. The shredder is going to be putting in
some hard work. But I don't want to move anything I don't intend on
keeping. As it is, I keep too much already, and will keep too much
even after I go through it. But, no mercy!

The problem is, I know that after I am gone from this world, there
will be a museum opened all about me. And generations to come will
want to carefully examine my 401(k) statements, tax returns, personal
notes I wrote, and every birthday card I ever received. Yes, I save
my cards. Is that bizarre or what? OK, it is nice to see the cards
my grandparents sent me because they ... signed them? We aren't
talking about deep correspondence here. If someone gives you a card
with a pre-printed sentiment, are you supposed to accept it as if they
had written it themselves? Even if you do, you assume that everyone
carefully picks out their cards!

Of course, my mom has written me lots of letters over the years. So
that's different. And that is probably a box of its own. I need a
personal archivist to scan them all, don't I? And don't you print out
all your email and throw it in a folder? No, I'm kidding -- even I
don't do that! (most of the time.)

And photos! I have tons of photos that have never even been put into
albums. And it seems odd to me to do it now, especially when so many
of them span relationships that are long over. Who needs that? But
throw out the photos? No. My mom used to say you should write on the
backs of photos who the people are so you don't forget. I was never
very good at that. Most people I do remember when I see the photos.
They few I don't, well, if I had written their names on the back so I
could have my memory refreshed, so what then? Do I really need to be
reminded the name of the guy who worked lights at a play I was 18
years ago?

Mind of Mencia

I started watching Mind of Mencia over the weekend. Two episodes so far, with a third coming this Wednesday at 10:30pm on Comedy Central.

Carlos Mencia is hysterical and pulls no punches. I had never seen his standup before, I am not even sure if I had heard of him before this weekend. Most of his humor was dead on funny, even if politically incorrect and full of (brace yourself) racial jokes. I hurt from laughing. I felt like I shouldn't be finding this so funny. But I'll be watching it again on Wednesday.

He has set such an incredible pace in the first two episodes, I wonder if he can possibly keep it up. It could see him ending up sounding like a Johnny (Juan-ny?) One-Note type.

In two episodes he's already established a recurring bit called "Why the F--- Is This News?" Listening to the "flip-flops" story on the Today show this morning, I know he won't run out of material for that!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

They Might Be Giants and Corn Mo Review, The Odeon, Cleveland, July 15, 2005

MJ and I got there early and were in the first row against the rail, stage right.

Yes, They Might Be Giants played Birdhouse and James K. Polk. Yes, they played Ana Ng. But no, they did not play Particle Man or anything else from "Flood" other than Birdhouse. (CORRECTION: They DID play Istanbul....they opened the main set with it!) They didn't play Don't Let's Start. Then did play Fingertips. They played Mammal (though there are at least half a dozen other songs off "Apollo 18" I rather would have heard.) They played Snail Shell, but there are so many other songs off "John Henry" I rather would have heard. They did play New York City. They did play a lot of their newer material, much of which I am not familiar with. I hadn't even heard of their "Spine" album from last year -- I thought they went from "Mink Car to "No!" to the new "ABCs" album. And they played several selections off of "Spine."

I can respect when an older band wants to play its newer music. Other bands I like (Rush and Marillion) have a huge catalog of material but eschew a lot of it to play their new songs -- and that's fine. But in this case, I don't know the new material, so a lot of it was a matter of first impression for me. In fact, they started the show with a 20 minute mini-set of "venue" tunes -- songs they wrote on the road impromptu from the last tour about each city and venue at which they played. It was fun, and entertaining, but it wasn't XTC vs. Adam Ant.

John and John played hard and with lots of energy. And that goes a long way. But for me, my favorite moments were the older songs. That and MJ jumping up and down excitedly when they went into James K. Polk. This was my fourth TMBG show and, while good, this one left me wanting.

The opening act, Corn Mo, was beyond dreadful. It was a half hour of unadulterated hell on earth. This was the first time I ever heckled an opening act. And I know he heard me because he talked back. He was introducing some song about how he had been hired to play at a bar mitzvah and he asked if we could guess what the boy did when he heard him play? I yelled "he killed himself." Cornhole said "no, he didn't kill himself..." and then he prattled on inanely about something. I don't normally heckle, but after a half hour of his abuse, it was everything I had not to throw my Sierra Nevada Pale Ale bottle at him. And then the Giants brought this no-talent hack out for their second encore -- we didn't need to see that. As far as I am concerned, James K. Polk was the last song of the night.

MJ's take on the show.

Friday, July 15, 2005


Kristen called from her writing seminar and we met for lunch at my favorite Vietnamese spot, #1 Pho.

We had the pho -- broth with rare beef and rice noodle, cilantro and onion, served with lemongrass, lime, sliced jalapeno, and sprouts -- and a side of spicy dipping sauces for the meat.

We also had the springrolls. Kristen was in Vietnamese springroll heaven!

I had the sparkling lemonade, and Kristen had the rainbow ice.

Apple served us -- Apple is always there! MJ and Apple hit it off the first time we were there. Apple recognized me -- and knew I wanted the lemonade before I even ordered it! You'd think I ate there every week or something.

We laughed about eating soup on such a hot day, but it was so good. And ohhhh I am so full. I cannot imagine how Kristen feels at her seminar!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

You Can All Go to Hell

No, not you good readers.

But after my experience today with Motorcars Acura-Volvo, I decided it was time to begin publishing my "shit list." On the right, under the links, is the heading: "You Can All Go to Hell."

From time to time, I will damn more people and groups to the list.

I have kicked it off with Motorcars. Tops at Severance could be on the list, but that would be ex post facto, and besides, I am sure they'll earn their spot on the list the next time I need cat food.

Trying to Tune into BBC Radio 2, Thanks to Motorcars

I went to a certain car dealership -- not the one that MJ works for --
for warranty work. The radio has had trouble keeping its presets and
wouldn't accept a download, so Motorcars ordered a new radio for me
(this happened the last time I was in for routine maintenance.)

I was told I'd be in and out in under an hour. Yeah, right. Just
like last time, when I was held up so long I ended up having lunch on
my way into the office.

Today I was there for over an hour when they said they were finished.
I got out to the car, turned on the radio. It seemed to work, and I
drove off.

At each red light, I start reloading the presets. FM first. Then AM.
Then the problem.

I couldn't tune into 1100 WTAM. The closest I could get was 1098.
1098? Yeah. In fact, all of the am channels were off by 2. I
couldn't even get a lock on WKNR.

So I turn around. They said the radio was programmed for European
channels, but not to worry, its a quick fix.

Quick, like a half hour quick. But because its "quick" I was left
just standing there. Fuming, I started walking around the showroom.
One of the sales reps started to talk to me. If only out of deference
to what MJ does for a living, I didn't take it out on him. But damn,
he asks me "Are you bored or is there something I can help you with?"
What? Am I bored? No! More like I'm pissed off and if you think you
are ever going to sell me another Volvo when the idiots in your
service department think I might like to try to tune into BBC2 instead of
the local AM stations and that every time they tell me it will take
less than an hour I am here for at least two, then screw you buddy, but no!

Instead I grunt out "just waiting." And he had the good sense not to
say another word.

So, yes Motorcars Acura-Volvo, today you are on my list of people who
can go to hell today. And also because the retractable antenna is not
under warranty, and no, I really don't feel like spending $95 to fix
it today.

They Might Be Giants at the Odeon

They Might Be Giants play this Friday night at the Odeon.

Doors open at 8pm.

MJ and I just got tickets. It isn't sold out yet.

They are $25 the day of the show tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Cleveland Browns 2005 Schedule

Here is the schedule ... its been out for a few weeks.

It really irks me, and I'm just going to keep complaining, because I have season tickets, so I am not going to shut up about this.

Look at when the Steelers game in Cleveland is...


Those bastards.

And the final game of the season against the Ravens?

New Years Day! At home! In Cleveland!

We don't play in a dome or anything!

I heard that snowy cold weather games are supposed to get good ratings. The last two games are against teams that matter within the division. Evil bastards.

As if I am even going to go to the game on Christmas Eve! I have family things to do! So do lots of people! And I guess that's the point. If we played the Dolphins on Christmas Eve, no one would come! But who would miss the Steelers?

Well this year, probably me.

Before Poker, ESPN Televised This Other Game

The lockout is OVER

The NHL is back!

Go Leafs!

Of course, this will probably hurt ESPN's ratings, since this will mean less poker.

Up with Which We Will No Longer Put, Not for Much Longer!

MJ put it in her blog, our discovery this morning. Photo and all!

Now, what the photo doesn't show you is that whoever did this actually had to cross our yard or walk up our sidewalk to our steps to do this.

Our street was just fine last summer. But this summer, we have neighbors who congregate in the street, who yell and play loud music all hours of the night, who honk horns instead of ringing doorbells, and who aren't content to leave their trash all over their own yards, but now walk some of it over to ours.

There is one house in particular across the street -- a rental. Our street is mostly rentals, but this one is the likely source of the problems, if the layer of trash in the yard is any indication. I'm considering writing their landlord a letter. Or not. We're moving out in 6 weeks or so, so maybe I just let it be. Though if I were the landlord, I'd want to know.

Shallow Approval

Since ESC doesn't allow comments on his blog, I'll just have to write one here.

Shallow by Steven Wilson. I approve whole heartedly!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

University Heights, my once and future home

Well, it is official, we have an agreement.

At this point, the only thing that I could see derailing things would
be if our inspectors find something nasty (and then we do have an
escape clause).

But, Washington Boulevard in University Heights ... looks like home to
me! The new house was built in 1940, and is a short walk or ride to
Cedar Center (which is about to be completely reconstructed.) Cedar
Road provides access to downtown or to 271.

The house itself provides 1680 square feet, not including the finished
third floor or the basement rec room. Three bedrooms on the second
floor. 1.5 baths. Hardwood floors underneath the carpet. Screen
room on the back of the house. Newer two car garage.

Yes, the kitchen will need redone. Yes, we will need to buy
appliances. Yes, the house is on a hill, and so is the driveway, so
yes, plowing and salting is a must in the winter!

I am excited. And a bit terrified. But in a good way, like when you
are riding up the first hill of a roller coaster.

I am glad to have found a place near our friends in the Heights --
yeah, I won't be walking to Kristen's anymore -- but she and Ray
aren't far! And this is actually closer to Amy & Brian and Dave &
Sharon, I think.

So much to do now.

Ketchupy Goodness

I signed off on their title company, and then proposed a new closing
date of August 12 (I had originally proposed August 26.)

Getting close here!

Drinking Beers at the Lizard

Met AJZ for beers at Winking Lizard on Coventry last night. He just
had his 10 year high school class reunion -- and he seemed to have had
a good time with that. We talked about MUN a little bit -- is he
going to run for the board? Doesn't seem likely. He just signed on
for another term on the board of the Mens Chorus.

A funny thing happened at the WL -- I am dense like this -- I noticed
the bartender had a bit of a tummy on her, but I didn't think it
looked bad. I thought, hey, she's got a bit of a tummy, and she isn't
so vain that she minds showing it off. Then, I overhear her talking
about being pregnant and showing already. Dense me. Better leave a
good tip -- baby needs amniocentesis.

Drank an Ommegong 3 Philosophers and a Brooklyn East India Pale Ale.
AJ had the Sam Adams Summer Wheat and ... I forget the second beer.
He also had an Oreo Oblivion, of which I had a few bites. Fudge and
pale ale!

AJ pointed out that at the new house, Papa John's delivers. And then
I realized that Zeppe's would deliver there too! But not Cap't
Tony's. As Kristen knows, Cap't Tony's on Coventry ain't all that
anyway. The one downtown is sooo much better.

I got a good parking space, and had just enough coins for the meter.
Walked out just as the meter expired. Kat called me about a divorce
question for a friend -- because divorce is of course something I know
LOTS about. Only from personal experience, though.

And where was MJ? At work. She does work some evenings. This is
nice for two reasons. I can work late those same evenings, and not
feel bad because she's working too. Or, I can go have beers with AJ.

still trying to pour that ketchup!

I just spoke with the realtor. The only bump in the road is ... the
title company. I don't mind using THEIR title company as opposed to
OUR title company as long as it is a reputable company that is
licensed and bonded and insured in case anything goes wrong.

So we are checking into their title company to make sure that we are
satisfied that they are suitable, and not some fly-by-night outfit.

From the little bit of research I did on them, I think they will be
ok. But I am not the expert. As long as I am paying for a realtor, I
may as well be using their services to advance my interests.

The other thing they brought up was the closing date. They want to
close even sooner than I proposed. They did not, however, specify a
date. So, I spoke with my mortgage broker, and he said that we could
move it up two weeks and still be fine -- and the first payment would
still be due in October. The only difference is some interest, which
will be handled at closing. And I think we can work that out.

I hope we get it all wrapped up today.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Anticipation (Do You Remember the Heinz Ketchup Commercials?)

I just learned that the seller of the house is meeting with his
realtor today at 3pm, presumably to consider our offer. Maybe we'll
hear something today!

Maybe 7/11 will come to mean something better to me than what it does now.


Today is July 11. Seven years ago today I got married. It lasted,
technically, about two and half years. In reality, it lasted much
less than that.

In retrospect, the better part of our relationship was over by the
time we married. And once we were married, it spiraled downward from

She has since remarried, and is presumably happier now. I hope that
is the case. We don't keep in touch really. We know how to get hold
of each other if necessary -- she forwarded me some paperwork that was
misdelivered to her a few months ago. But otherwise, we've gone our
separate ways.

But today -- this day -- I never forget what this day once was. I
regret how badly things turned out, but the outcome was the right one.
I regret that I couldn't have been more honest with her. I regret
that I couldn't figure out before we were married that getting married
was the wrong thing to do. For all the good times we once had, the
fact that the book was closed in such a sour and distasteful way still
pains me at times. Today is one of those times. No matter how happy
I am with MJ now, and granted, I don't know if I ever would have
gotten to where I am now any other way, if I could have done it
without causing TMQ pain, I would have.

I really do hope she is happy now. And is treated better by DW than I did.

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Speed Demon at the I-X

MJ hooked me up with an invitation to "The Ultimate Driving
Experience" this last Saturday at the I-X Center. BMW set up a high
speed test track, where participants got to test drive the new BMW 330
with sport package and active steering, and also got to test drive the
Infiniti G35 and the Audi A4 Quattro (also both equipped with their
respective sport packages.)

Before they let you get behind the wheel, they give you a little
tutorial/refresher on how to best negotiate a curve -- that you slow
down before you begin the curve (you never want to have to brake while
you are turning), then you coast for just a moment, then accellerate
your way through the rest of the curve.

Just like my dad taught me when I was 16, I might add.

They also had green cones set up -- we were instructed to look for the
cones and drive toward them, to put us in the best position for
handling each curve as quickly as possible.

We went around the track once at a leisurely speed to learn the track.
Then once more around, and we could open it up! Then we drove it
once each in the Infiniti and the Audi. Then one more time in the

The BMW was, hands down, the best. Smooth and absolutely superb at
taking the curves and corners.

The Audi was next. It handled respectably well and was agile enough
-- but just not as refined or as fun as the BMW. Some of that
certainly had to be that it was an all wheel drive. And it felt

The Infiniti was completely outclassed. The steering was terrible, it
could not take the turns without getting a lot of puch back through
the steering wheel. I tried to take the last corner at the same speed
as the BMW and I didn't make it -- I nailed one of the cones and
dragged it down the track!

So will I be buying a new 3 series any time soon? No. I just bought
a car! And the new 3 as shown at the track is about $45k! Now, give
it two or three years, and let's see if I can get into as a certified
pre-owned deal...

I really would have loved to have taken my car (Volvo S40 turbo) onto
the track to compare it under the same conditions. I think it would
have held its own, but its no BMW. It does handle better than that
Infiniti did, I am sure of it!

Friday, July 08, 2005

House Hunting Update

MJ and I met with the realtor this evening.

Wrote up the bid and signed it. Earnest money. Financing letter.

I think we came up with a reasonable offer. Guess we'll see.

Here it is...

Just a short drive from where we live now.

Now we wait.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Mayor's Statement, London, July 7, 2005

This was a cowardly attack, which has resulted in injury and loss of
life. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been injured, or lost
loved ones. I want to thank the emergency services for the way they
have responded.

Following the al-Qaeda attacks on September 11th in America we
conducted a series of exercises in London in order to be prepared for
just such an attack. One of the exercises undertaken by the
government, my office and the emergency and security services was
based on the possibility of multiple explosions on the transport
system during the Friday rush hour. The plan that came out of that
exercise is being executed today, with remarkable efficiency and
courage, and I praise those staff who are involved.

I'd like to thank Londoners for the calm way in which they have
responded to this cowardly attack and echo the advice of the
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair - do everything
possible to assist the police and take the advice of the police about
getting home today.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did
hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the
Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was
not the case. I have been able to stay in touch through the very
excellent communications that were established for the eventuality
that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and
they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual
contact until I am back in London.

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not
a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not
aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary,
working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu
and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter,
irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion,
or whatever.

That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith - it is just
an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the
objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn
Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International
Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the
world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will
not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in
solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have
been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be the mayor of that city.

Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to
take life.

I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in
order to take others - that is why you are so dangerous. But I know
you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our
free society and I can show you why you will fail.

In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports
and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack,
you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around
the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil
their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because
they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they
come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them
how they should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however
many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom
is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another.
Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.

-- Mayor Ken Livingstone

North Dakota Does Not Exist

Flashback time... the following newspaper column, written by yours truly, was originally published in The BG News, October 30, 1991.

Background: Matthew Daneman, Editorial Editor for The News, let all of the editorial columnists know that if any of us wanted to write about anything other than the Clarence Thomas--Anita Hill hearings, then please do, and he'd run it.

I'd been batting around a spoof conspiracy column for a few weeks -- the first draft was captioned "a draft so rough you need goggles to read it." By late October, 1991, it turned into this column. And Daneman ran it, man of his word.

Cubans Killed North Dakota
Stategate: blowing the lid off our flag's 39th star.

Conspiracy theories -- I love them. Of course, I don't believe in them (not most of them, anyway.) Some of the more intriguing include the Kennedy assassination (various theories), the October Surprise conspiracy (the possibility that the Reagan campaign made a deal in 1980 with Iran to keep the hostages until after the election) and the recent "Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill really once had an affair, so they are both lying" theory.

Today I'd like to bring to light a conspiracy that is so blatant and so unbelievable that the American people have been fooled to this very day.

North Dakota does not exist.

Don't be so surprised -- in your heart you knew it all along. After all, have you ever met anybody from North Dakota? Have you ever vacationed in North Dakota? Have you ever seen a car with a license plate that read "North Dakota"? (If you think you did, you're confusing it with South Dakota.)

Face it. There is nothing in North Dakota. Even South Dakota has Mount Rushmore and has had a famous politican (if you count George McGovern). If nothing else, we kept North Dakota as a buffer zone with Canada; when we got on more friendly terms, the Canadians didn't really want it either, so we were stuck with it.

Any reference book you choose will report that North Dakota has roughly 650,000 residents. Now, do these people exist? Well, yes. They actually live in South Dakota and Minnesota and they commute.

Do you ever hear anything about North Dakota in the national news? Never! Last week I picked up various copies of USA Today just to look at the "Statesline" section, just to see if anything ever happened there. Headlines included the expansion of a mushroom farm and a lack of running water due to a well that dried up over the weekend.

Of course you never hear about a crazed gunman shooting up a McDonald's in North Dakota. Why? No McDonald's.

I have a friend who lives down the hall from me who is formerly from Nebraska, and she insists that North Dakota exists. She must have been brainwashed, or someone paid her off. Oh yeah, and she now lives in Cincinnati, which may explain a few things.

By now, if you haven't quit reading and skipped ahead [in the newspaper], you probably want to know who has been perpetuating this subterfuge. Why, it's the Democratic and Republican parties! It may interest you to know that both senators, the representative (at-large) and the governor are all Democrats, yet in every presidential election since 1940 (excluding 1964), North Dakota has voted Republican! A little-known historical fact: Nixon's 1972 campaign was going to focus on how South Dakota native George McGovern had been helping perpetuate the North Dakota conspiracy, but couldn't find the evidence they needed when they broke into the Watergate Building.

Another interesting note -- one of North Dakota's senators has been in the Senate for over thirty years: Quinten Burdick. Have you ever heard of this man? Has he ever been in the news? Has he ever done ANYTHING besides get re-elected by a constituency of a mushroom farmer, a buffalo and a couple of Sioux Indians? NO! But who's complaining? Considering North Dakota's lack of existence, it is well represented by the Honorable Sen. Burdick.

Wouldn't it be great if David Duke were running for governor of North Dakota instead of Louisiana? Nobody would care! What's a neo-Nazi going to do, round up all the Native Americans and put them on a reservation? Oops, it's already been done!

Who would possibly consider vacationing in North Dakota? Not even Clark Griswold would drag his poor family there on the way to Wally World! I called USAir in Toledo to find out when the next flight to North Dakota leaves. It doesn't.

And thought my editor will love me for helping put The BG News on the same journalistic level as The Weekly World News, that won't stop me from sharing some other conspiracy theories that I've heard lately:

1) All of the revolutions in Eastern Europe, the unification of Germany, the breakup of the U.S.S.R., the civil war in Yugoslavia and all other conflicts that cause the redrawing of boundries are instigated by Rand McNally so it can sell more maps;

2) Chrysler supports paternal domination because it installs the airbag on the driver's side only, where traditionally the father sits while driving with his wife and 1.8 children;

3) The Apple Macintosh perpetuates white supremacy because all of the icons on the screen remain white until the user makes one black so he may edit it, execute it, or drag it to the trash;

4) [Untrue conspiracy about me edited for space -- Ed.]

5) Michael Dylan Brennan was a columnist for The BG News, until his body was snatched by the alien that wrote this column.

My column ran not only in The BG News, but also in seven different newspapers in North Dakota, including page 2 of the editorial section of The Bismark Tribune. I got hundreds of pieces of hate mail (which I still have), and was mailed all kinds of bizarre "proof" of North Dakota's existence, including a license plate (which still hangs in my spare room.)

On a lark, and upon the suggestion of my roommate, I even entered the column into the Rolling Stone College Journalism contest. I didn't win. But I did get the best rejection letter ever:

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Great American House Hunt

Might have found one this evening.

Don't want to say too much.

Don't want to jinx it.

Got to see how we feel about it tomorrow.

It has some issues, but we have some vision.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Yes, I Eat the Shells

Now, MJ has gone with me to about a half dozen baseball games, and most of the home Browns games last season. And no, I don't always eat peanuts at the games. But only yesterday did she notice for the first time that I eat the whole peanut. I don't break them open, unless the shells are dirty -- in which case, I don't want them.

Why do I do it?

Well, I love the taste of salt, and the shells are salty. I love the crunch. And its great fiber! If I eat a bag, shells and all, I'm pretty full when I'm done! Even a half bag is pretty filling. And its not messy. I can eat peanuts on the couch!

When I was in Florida with MJ's family, her grandpa introduced me to a little stand in Daytona where they have hot roasted peanuts. They were sweet and not especially salty -- but I still ate the shells! Mmmmmmm.

Anybody else eat the shells?

The Weekend in Short

MJ's family came to town from Michigan for the holiday.

Saturday, we showed them where Marquise works in Mentor, and then took
them to the Winking Lizard.

On Sunday, we took them to my dad's out in Jefferson for a cookout.
Everyone got along great! Then we rode out to Presque Isle and
Chatauqua Lake. MJ's mom and sister didn't realize how close PA and
even NY are! And its a beautiful drive.

On the Fourth, we took them to Jacobs Field for Game One of the
doubleheader. They are all Tigers fans, so too bad for them that the
Indians kicked a little Tiger butt. Game Two was no better as it
turned out -- but they were already on their way back to Michigan.

MJ's grandpa really seemed to have a great time. And he said so. I
know that means a lot to her.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Birthday Sis!

Kat's birthday is not till Sunday, but I thought I'd wish her a happy one now.

I am so glad that as adults we've grown up and gotten past the sibling
rivalry and that we can hang out like the adults we are and enjoy each
other's company.

Back when we were kids, oh yeah, we were merciless. We'd hit each
other, pull hair, pour water on each other while we were sleeping, set
each other's stuff on fire. You know, normal kids stuff.

For instance, we used to do whatever we could to get each other in
trouble. One thing that was particularly creative -- Kat would hit
herself in the arm. Sporting a big old welt or bruise on her arm,
she'd run off and tell Mom that I hit her. And naturally, she'd think
that I must have hit her -- because it was the most plausible
explanation -- more so than Kat hitting herself. Heck, even when I
saw Kat hit herself, like I could even say "nuh-uh, Kat hit herself."
How stupid does that sound? Of course, Kat was fine (as if she'd
really hurt herself), and she'd milk it and squeeze that arm to make
it look extra bad. And that's not to say I never got away with
anything. But it did provide an early life lesson: the simpler and
more seemingly probable explanation isn't always the correct one. And
when dealing with brats, feel free to punish either or both of them --
because they've surely gotten away with something else you don't even
begin to know about, until well after the fact. Maybe they even bring
it up to you, as if there were some sort of statute of limitations on
that sort of thing. Go with your gut.

I am wishing right now I could remember what color Kat's kitchen is,
because I understand there is a theme going on for her birthday
presents this year. As you can understand, I still tease my little

Happy Birthday, Kat.

Sunset on Sandra Day

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is 75 years old and has been on the Supreme Court since 1981. Yet the announcement of her retirement comes as a bit of surprise to a nation waiting for the Rehnquist shoe to drop. (I think we'll still be hearing that shoe soon enough.)

Ever since the news of William Rehnquist's illness, followers of the Court have stepped up the speculating as to his replacement. The conventional wisdom has been that Rehnquist is firmly in the conservative bloc with Scalia and Thomas, so any Bush appointee, no matter how conservative, would not result in any change of balance onthe Court.

Not so with O'Connor. As the court has moved to the right, she has stayed in the relative center-right. She has been the swing vote on a number of decisions, most notably (in the popular sense anyway) to the consternation of pro-life movement, with the Casey v. Planned
Parenthood decision. Even in decisions this term, she has been a critical vote in some of the 5-4 decisions released in the last couple of weeks regarding the public display of the Ten Commandments. She also wrote the appropriately stinging dissent in the dreadful Kelo
case (expanding eminent domain.)

O'Connor's retirement represents a great opportunity to the president. The right nominee, if confirmed, could change the balance of this Court. If the moderates and liberals in the Senate sense that her replacement will take the Court further to the right, expect the stops to be pulled out. The John Bolton nomination will have been merely a warmup for the bombast and rhetoric that lies ahead. NARAL, PlannedParenthood, and NOW -- you will be hearing a lot from them.

While I had suggested previously that Michael McConnell was the likely successor to Rehnquist, my only reservation is making that prediction was that he might not be conservative enough. Assuredly, he is plenty conservative, but he is not Rehnquist conservative. However, he is at least O'Connor conservative. And while there may be bristling that Bush might appoint someone other than a female or a minority to replace the Court's first female justice -- McConnell may still be the president's best bet for confirmation. He is respected and well liked, and puts a smiling face on his conservatism.

If the president feels he must go with a woman or a minority, look for Alberto Gonzales (not a good choice, but this administration promotes from within) or Edith Brown Clement (a W appointee to the 5th circuitcourt of appeals.)

* * *

Personally, I love this! Its even better than NFL Draft Day! We haven't had a vacancy on the Court in ELEVEN YEARS! Let the games begin!

Send More Juice!