Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Been Busy

Wednesday is the big move.  Gotta be all packed up by then. 

I have an appointment this afternoon at the office.  I hope to get out of here before 5 so I can go home and finish up.

Monday, August 29, 2005

High School Football is Back.... nevermind

Willoughby South 41, Geneva 0

Bizzare, but a sign of forward movement, I hope

I just got a call from the appraiser.  Apparently the lender wants the appraiser to take a second look at the house.  Since I have the keys now, I have to go out there to let her in.  2:30 today.  Hopefully this is the last hurdle. 

She said once she does this, she'll be reporting back to the lender by no later than first thing in the morning.  The "review appraisal" is no additional charge -- which makes me wonder if there was something that she neglected to do when she was out the first time.  Could this be what's been holding everything up?

The appraiser said the order came in on Friday from the lender.  Hopefully whatever she needs to do will help get this thing done.  I may have possession of the place, but I don't own it yet. 

so much to say

In short -- we have the keys to the house.

After a rather contentious phone call with seller's realtor (Henry), followed by a much more conciliatory call, we agreed to meet Saturday morning.  We worked out in principle how the accommodations would be made, but we needed to meet to formalize it.  Henry wanted to meet at 11:00, but I told him, I have an appointment at 10:30 at the Statler Arms to sign a lease, so, if this is going to be worked out, we're going to have to meet before that.  So we agreed to meet on Saturday at 9am at office, then it became 9:30 at the house.

At about 8:10 on Saturday morning, I get a phone call from ... HDB?  I work with HDB and he lived 2 doors down from the house.  Turns out HDB walked to the foot of his driveway to get his newspaper when he saw Henry standing there.  Henry saw HDB and said that he "forgot his cell phone" and asked if he had one he could use to call ... me.  So I pick up the phone and HDB says, there is someone here who wants to talk with you, and he hands the phone off to Henry.  Henry tells me he had a change of plans and he is already at the house, and he wants to know if I can come over now.  Mind you I haven't showered or anything, but I figure, the sooner we get this done, the better.  I call Jackie, my realtor.  She was planning on 9:30, and she's out in Solon, so she'll get there as soon as she can.  I head on over.

Henry is at the house with the huge dude -- Daryl.  Daryl is there to move out some of the items left in the rec room -- a desk, and an old stereo mostly.  Everything else down there was left ultimately left behind.  I tell Henry that Jackie is on her way.  She gets there a little after 9.  We formalize the arrangement and I GET THE KEYS.  FINALLY!

By now, Dad is at the apartment with MJ.  We load up his Honda and my car with the first carloads of stuff (since I rescheduled the truck).  After we drop that off -- we call Kristen and Ray, Aliasgrace and BMac (we didn't call Mr & Mrs B because they should be having a baby by now for goodness sakes!)  But its great to have such awesome friends who will give up the bulk of their Saturday to help out -- one of them, it might have been Aliasgrace, said that now that she has seen the house, she could see why we fought so hard to get it.   Between all of our cars, I think we made four group trips over, and got a lot of stuff over to the house -- most of it into the garage and basement.  The movers will handle the furniture, the boxes of books, the files and file cabinets, things like that.  We had Geraci's pizza for lunch -- and I did have a cooler full of beer and Coke Zero at the house (since the house had no fridge.)

Saturday night we went to hhgregg and bought the fridge.  It was delivered on Sunday -- with a scratch on the freezer door.  The replacement door is scheduled to be delivered Wednesday afternoon.   The darnedest thing ... the scratch has obviously been touched up, but not very well.  But I saw them break open the carton, so I am guessing it was done in the factory?  Jeez. 

Saturday night and Sunday ... we pulled up the carpet in the master bedroom, the living room and dining room.  Pulled out all the tacking, all the staples.  And cleaned the floors really well. 

Sunday was also when Directv came out.  They have this offer where they reinstall you at your new home for free so long as you commit to an additional year of service.  The tech arrived at 1pm sharp ... and took ALL DAY and well into the NIGHT.  First, he had trouble finding just the right spot for the dish, which I'll admit was tricky due to all the trees.  But then he just took his sweet time.  And all I needed was the TiVo installed in the living room, the regular receiver in the master bedroom, and a phone line for the TiVo.  His manager arrived at 7:30 to try to find out what was taking him so long.  They finally finished at 9:30pm.  The funny thing is, I am not exactly mad.  I didn't have to pay him for his time or anything.  In fact, they ended up not charging me for the phone line -- which is normally a $75 add on.  But I did tie me to the house when I wanted to be back at the apartment tearing down the computer, packing my file cabinets and my bedroom.

I skipped over so much ... this will have to do for now.

Friday, August 26, 2005

How It Is ... PLAN C (nowhere near Plan Nine yet!)

I told my realtor that I have made an appointment to look at an apartment downtown as well. 

I told her she needs to tell the other realtor that while he is busy worrying about a very outside possibility that things could fall through with the loan despite the fact that I've already been approved, that at 5pm today I have an appointment with a leasing agent at a building just a short walk from my office.  And I'm taking my checkbook with me.  Whoever puts keys in my hands first, that's where I am going to be living.

He needs to weigh what could (but likely won't) happen against what will certainly happen otherwise.

You'd think he didn't want to sell the house. 

* * *

Even since I lived at CSU's Viking Hall and watched them build Jacobs Field from my 14th floor window, I've thought about the idea of moving back downtown.  It is close to work for me.  It is no further for work for MJ.  Our friends in the Heights will have someplace to hang out at downtown.  The building I am looking at is a short walk from my office, a short walk from Jacobs Field, and not too far a walk from Browns Stadium.  It is close to Public Square and Playhouse Square as well. 

This is what I call snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.  Living downtown wasn't the original plan -- but it is an attractive alternative.  Nothing against my sister's place -- but it appeals to me more than moving to Parma Heights. 

The rent is high.  But I'll save so much in gas by not driving to work.  And no suburban taxes. 

And next summer, I'll revisit homeownership.

And this way, we don't have to buy a lawnmower.  Yay!

* * *

So ... PLAN C ... I am going to go look at the Statler Arms this evening --  if it sucks, there is always Parma.  And, maybe Henry the realtor will come to Jesus and then being me the keys to the house.

The Final Countdown

"As long as the seller agrees to turn over the keys, then we're cool. If for some reason he won't, then we're moving to Parma"

Famous last words, eh?

Well so far the seller's realtor won't turn over the keys. I've told my realtor to tell him that if I don't have keys in my hand by the end of the day that we are walking away from the deal.

Apparently the seller's realtor wants the paperwork from the lender before he'd give up the keys. This is the paperwork that was delayed because the title company didn't clear title in time. So when the lender wrote the loan, clear title became an exception. The exception needs to be cleared. If the title company had done its job timely, then the exception would never have had to have been written and we wouldn't be waiting now.

Remember, this is the title company that seller's realtor insisted we use.

Then I called Heights Title. And I learn that Cindy doesn't work on Fridays, and this Friday is no exception. Outstanding. Let's see, we were supposed to close on Friday the 12th, and I had originally proposed Friday the 26th, and I executed an addendum extending the closing date to Friday the 19th. And only now I hear that the person who is handling the closing DOESN'T WORK ON FRIDAYS???

Brilliant.

So, I spoke with Kat -- she has a townhouse waiting for us. She can work with us on the rent. We can sign the lease and move in on the same day.

Its in Parma Heights. I have picked on Parma a little bit -- and I don't know anyone who lives over there, really. I do have a friend in Middleburg Heights. Parma Heights is kind of a long commute for Marquise, so that's not ideal. But I've seen these facilities before -- and I know it wouldn't be a bad place to live. And the townhouses are rather private for an apartment complex. Kinda like Grand Bay -- if anyone remembers the place in Brecksville.

So ... they have till 5pm. If I get keys by 5, then good. If not, then I guess we're moving to Parma Heights. We have to move -- we have to vacate the place on Eddington as a new tenant has already been lined up.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

damn

I might need a Plan C.

PLAN B

OK, here is Plan B.  Its a three parter.

Part One

I have rescheduled the moving truck to Wednesday morning, 8/31 (the movers just had a slot open up).  It makes sense, even if we get the keys tomorrow (see Part Two).  For one thing, I have people who have graciously volunteered to help move things on Saturday.  I really only wanted the movers to move the big stuff.  Some stuff, fragile items, clothing, things of that sort, I wanted to move myself.  We can move a lot of things over on Saturday without the movers there.  Most items I will want to put either in the kitchen, the basement or the garage -- while we work on the rest of the house.

This then frees us up to pull carpet, fix the upstairs bathroom sink, and things like that over the weekend.  Hell, maybe we even throw a little paint on a wall somewhere -- but I don't want to get ahead of myself.

Part Two

If we don't get closed tomorrow, the realtor has a plan to get the keys in our hands tomorrow anyway.  I already have insurance on the place -- so our stuff is covered once its there.  I've been verbally approved for the loan, the lender shouldn't change its mind.  I've already been told that title is clear.  It really should be all set except for the paperwork.  As long as the seller agrees to turn over the keys, then we're cool.  If for some reason he won't, then we're moving to Parma (ha.)

Part Three

Since the apt won't be completely empty till Wednesday morning, I am going to hire a maid service to come in and clean the place before I turn over the keys to the landlord that night.  I will not turn it over dirty, and I don't think I'll have time to really give it the cleaning it should be given once everything is out.

no news yet

me to MJ:  nothing yet.  I did speak with [the mortgage broker].  He says we remain at the mercy of the lender at this point.  But that if we don't have anything by mid to late morning he'll place another round of calls.

MJ to me:  Do we need to call your sister [to rent an apartment at her complex in Parma Heights]?  ... Well it is mid morning now and I sit here wondering if I will have to learn to enjoy the commute from Parma.  How far is that?

me to MJ: 
I am not moving to Parma.  If I wanted to live someplace like Parma -- I'd move to Mentor.  Or back to Geneva.  I checked with [the mortgage broker] -- he's placed the calls.  and he is waiting too.

MJ to me: If we could get a nice house on the lake Geneva might not be that bad.

me to MJ: Oh sure, now you tell me!

MJ to me: I hope that we can do this tomorrow, if not what is plan B?

Me to MJ:  I don't know.  The movers are booked on next Wednesday, but they have an opening next Tuesday.  I think its better to reschedule the movers than to move everything into storage, pay for storage, then pay to move everything again.  But I'll call [our realtor] and see what she thinks.  She said yesterday she had a couple of ideas if we find ourselves where we appear to be going.

(just left the realtor a voice mail... and the movers called me this morning wanting to confirm the move ... I laughed and said I wish I could ... but that is how I know that there is an opening on Tuesday.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hackett to Bits

I've been reading about Paul Hackett for awhile now. For those of you not in the know -- Paul Hackett is the pro-choice, pro-gun, Iraqi war veteran (and former Marine Reserve Major) who ran in the special election for Congress in Portman's old seat -- a heavily Republican District -- ran as a Democrat while running against the war, and lost by only ... what was it? 5000 or so votes, getting 48% in a district that voted 64% for Bush in 2004.

Sonenshein found this article that Hackett may run against DeWine next year for the Senate.

MJ and I watched Hackett on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday. They talked about how they tried to "swift boat" him -- except that Hackett saw real combat in Iraq. He is brusque and brash and in your face like a Marine ... but a Democrat. He even made a comment about anal sex that left Maher speechless -- and THAT is an accomplishment. And Hackett, a man who has been there, said its time to bring the troops home.

See for yourself -- the video is here.

calming down

OK, Jackie called me back.  It looks like the lender has everything now.  Once the lender does its final bit, then it all goes back to the title company.  That probably won't be till tomorrow though, it sounds like.  And the title company has been so good at wasting time, I can easily imagine this whole thing falling though.

I called my moving company.  They are no longer available on the 31st.  They are available on the 30th, but MJ can't get that day off.  So it has to be Saturday.


ok I just lost it

The broker just told me he's going to "push really hard" to get this thing to close by Friday?  You better!  Because if it doesn't I'm done! 

Then I called my realtor -- all hotheaded like many of you know I can be when I let the emotions take over -- I told her that she should warn the other realtor right now -- that because his shitty little title company consumed all this extra time, they've left no margin of error for my lender.  And if the lender is anything less than perfect and the house doesn't close then fuck them all, I'm done.  I will sign a lease on Friday night and move to Big Creek in Parma Heights.  That come hell or high water, I am moving on Saturday, and if we don't close by Friday IT AIN"T NEVER GONNA HAPPEN. 

Then I left a voice mail for Jackie asking her to call me back after I've calmed down.


The first time was nowhere near this complicated.

Now my mortgage broker calls me and says he needs copies of all the inspection reports right now.  You couldn't have asked me for these before now?  Now I have to drop everything?  They are at home and I am at work.  Damn it.

And he needs a copy of the city inspection too.  Apparently the city won't release it to him, they will only release it to the owner.  And the owner lives in Akron.  Damn it.

Then I call my realtor -- thankfully she has copies of all the reports, including the city report.  And she is faxing them over.  Crisis averted.  Except that she is not near a fax machine at the moment and has to get to one ... if its not one thing its another.

This is the second time I've purchased a house.  The first time was nowhere near this complicated.  If it was, then my ex must have handled it instead of me.  Maybe she did.  But I think I'd have heard about it. 

Gavin

Courtney gave birth at 7:57 Tuesday night....long day! (she went into labor at 3:30am!)

Gavin is 6.5 lbs and 20.75" long.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Chasing Paper




Check it out ... Mr. Bebout has a blog.

I'd Rather Be Watching Paint Dry -- That Would Mean I Was Painting the House

OK.  My mortgage broker got the conditions from the lender.  Nothing serious.  His assistant is processing those conditions.  One of them is proof of insurance. 

Sure enough, my insurance agent called me.  Yay, Mark DiSalvatore.   I haven't lived in Ashtabula County in years, but I still use the agency my family has used for over 30 years.  He's been sitting on the check for the Homeowners policy, awaiting word to go ahead.  He got the fax, and he's putting the insurance in place as I type this, effective today.

And he just called.  Wanted to make sure he had the correct spelling of MJ's name.



Evil Title Company II

Ha! I called her this morning. She said closing is delayed because of the lender.

What a bitch. I knew she'd say that.

I didn't call her on it. Because pissing all over her right now isn't going to accomplish anything.

But you better believe that once I have what I want I will let loose on her.

For now, I've just put Heights Title Agency Inc at the top of my "You Can All Go To Hell" list. (see sidebar)

tidbits

Courtney went into labor early this morning.

I just heard from Mr. B.  Baby B is late.  He said he's already going to be grounded.

Work is super busy -- lots of things hitting at once.

Its cold outside!  I wish I'd worn something else.  Its only supposed to get up to 72 today, I understand.  It was 62 when I left the house.

I'm not doing the Air Show this year, because of the house.  I just heard that the Thunderbirds had an accident in the air over Lake Michigan.  All the jets landed safely but now they are grounded.  No word as to how long.  That's really going to screw up the Air Show, since the Thunderbirds were to be the feature act.

As for the house -- nothing new to report.  I haven't driven by it in days.  I wonder if its still there?

MJ looked beautiful today.  Sometimes I don't take the time to be happy about what I have and who is in my life.  I tried to take a little time like that this morning.  I am so glad she is here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Evil Title Company

I spoke with Cindy at the title company.  How badly I want to tell her off.  This morning when I called, she couldn't place who I was.  Hello?  I am the guy buying the house that should have closed 10 days ago?

Anyway, she tried to blow some sunshine my way, telling me that now that the title is clear, she didn't see why we shouldn't close tomorrow, because she had just spoken with my mortgage broker, and thought it would be done.  Well, I spoke with my broker.  And I know that because the title company didn't get their crap done timely, there is an exception that has to be cleared -- and that alonw will take at least 24 hours.  So, I KNOW we aren't closing tomorrow.

But here's what'll happen.  Tomorrow I'll talk with her, and when it isn't closing tomorrow, she'll blame my lender or my broker.  Try to deflect some of the blame off herself.  Ha.  I am not falling for it.

But despite the evil title company, we ought to get closed here, I am guessing it will be Thursday.  It could be Friday, but I want to be optimistic.  It could be Wednesday, but I don't want to let my hopes get dashed again.


Baby Racing

Last time we saw Mrs. Bebout, she was looking very pregnant. 
 
Can I say that?  People make fun of women who say they are "a little pregnant."  But Mrs. B is due any time -- if she hasn't already had the little guy in the couple days since I was last in touch with either Mr. and Mrs. B.
 
As I wrote below, Courtney is imminently due as well.
 
Their baby showers were a week apart, too.
 
I wonder who will go first?

Oh baby!

Dad and Marcy dropped off boxes today -- large boxes.  We seem to have plenty of small boxes, but when it takes 5 boxes just to pack the liquor cabinet, well... we needed some bigger boxes.  And simpler tastes in booze.
 
Anyway, I learned today that my very pregnant step-sister, Courtney, may be having her labor induced on Saturday ... if the baby doesn't come before then. 
 
Saturday is also the day we are planning on moving.  We have a truck!  Though we don't necessarily have a house yet.
 
Honestly, birthing babies beats shlepping boxes.  And I did hire movers.  So its not like Dad and Marcy have to be on hand here on Saturday. 
 
But, hopefully Courtney will have her baby without having to go through with inducing it.  Hopefully the little guy comes out ok and without complication.  
 
However... for anyone so inclined to help out... assuming the house closes and everything... I plan to move many of smaller items myself.  I really only hire movers so no one I care about (including me) breaks their backs on the big stuff: file cabinets, armoirs, entertainment center, etc.  I prefer to move glassware, dishware, artwork and clothing myself.  Plus, with the work that we want to do to the house -- a lot of stuff is just going to be stashed in the garage and basement to keep it all out of the way while we paint and tear up carpet.  So, assuming we have keys in hand, Friday evening, anyone who wants to help out by riding over with carloads of boxes -- most of which will just be unloaded into the garage and basement -- that would be awesome. 
 
I will make sure there is beer -- even if that means a cooler at the new house -- since we don't have a fridge yet.
 
Which is another bitch I have... I went fridge shopping not too long ago, but with the closing getting delayed, we've put off buying one.  I want MJ to look at a couple fridges I saw at B&B Appliance in Euclid.  I like B&B and MJ agrees that she would prefer to give a local company our business -- and indeed, MJ is buying the fridge, so really, her opinion counts double.  But BOOOO to B&B and here's why.  I went on B&B's website to get their hours, and it said that on Sunday they are open from 11 to 6.  Well, MJ and I got there at 5:05 today ... and they were closed.  The sign on the door says 5pm.  So here is my bitch: if you have a website, make sure its accurate.  To me, checking a website should be as reliable as calling on the phone.  If I had called B&B to get their hours, I don't imagine I would have been told "till 6pm."  So, B&B, FIX your damn website!  And if you're lucky, we still might buy a fridge there -- although the soonest we'll be able to stop by now is Wednesday. 
 
Wednesday is also the day we are supposed to close, ha.
 
And maybe Wednesday will be little Gavin's birthday. 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Clear Title

I learned around 4:30pm on Friday that the title company can now sign off on the title. Finally.

Unfortunately, it was too late in the day for the lender to be able to actually do anything with that information.

So, first thing on Monday, the lender can clear proceed. I understand that it should take 24-48 hours for the lender to remove the "clear title exception."

And then, barring any other bumps in the road, we can close and get the keys. Its looking like Wednesday-ish.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Back to School

Today I have a CLE -- Continuing Legal Education. Every two years,
every attorney in Ohio has to report to the Ohio Supreme Court that he
has completed 24 hours of Continuing Legal Education. This also
includes components on Ethics, Professionalism and Substance Abuse.
Those are the components I am taking today. So today I will be
listening about how attorneys should avoid committing malpractice,
fight nice and not party too hard, and things of that sort.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Steven Wilson Interview

Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree and other bands and projects) interviewed.

Some highlights:

[I]n order to write music, I have to be depressed. I was never really aware of this until the last couple of years. I usually create music when I’m in a negative state of mind. It’s quite a painful process. I love recording, touring and promoting the records, but the art of writing music is very much a cathartic and painful one for me. People ask me to reconcile my personality, which is not melancholic or dark, with the music that very much represents those things. My explanation is that the music is where that side of me goes. The music is an exorcism of those elements within.

* * *

I’m aware that some people consider me some kind of a guitar hero, but that’s always sat uncomfortably with me because there are guitar players and there are songwriters that use the guitar to make their music. I’m definitely in the latter category.

* * *
It’s a fantastic feeling to be respected by your peers, but it’s even more amazing to be respected by your influences. Neil Peart from Rush is a big fan and wrote about us in his books. And then to have Adrian Belew call up and say ‘I really want to work with the band’ is astounding. I grew up listening to Rush and King Crimson. So, what else am I gonna say when he calls other than “Yeah, alright!”

* * *

I consider Porcupine Tree’s main inspiration to be the golden era of album-oriented music which runs from The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds in 1966 right up through punk rock emerging in 1977. There was a 10 year period where the album was everything and singles were less important. Videos had yet to appear, so it didn’t matter what you looked like. During that era, the most successful music came from the progressive rock movement, though there are other albums I would say fall into that zone that are just as important to me as well, like the older Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Joni Mitchell and CSNY records.

* * *

What Porcupine Tree did was create music that had no market. We didn’t think there was anyone waiting for this music, but it turned out there was. We started building our audience literally from the first person.



Read the whole interview here.

A Better Idea

I don't want to live in a hotel, and that would be expensive for the
seller, even if he would agree to do it. And while I wouldn't mind
spending more time with family in general, moving into the spare
bedroom at my dad's is stress that no one needs, especially with
Courtney's baby due any day.

So here is what I am going to pitch:

That the seller RENT the house to me while we await closing. Nominal
rent, like a dollar a month. Or, if he insists on the protection of a
larger rent payment, then he can either (a) refund all rent upon
closing or (b) just pay for us to live at a hotel, and pay for storage
of all our stuff and the extra moving costs.

I am thinking like a three month lease. Then if things fell through
for some other reason (not that they should, of course), he'd know
that I wasn't trying to get him to commit to a one year term for $12 a
year.

I am trying to come up with a reason why this wouldn't be a good
solution. It would get the keys and possession in our hands now. We'd
have a legal right to the property (as a tenant) so we can insure our
stuff under the renters policy. And it prevents us from being
homeless.

For the seller, he doesn't lose the deal -- because if something
doesn't give soon, what choice do we have but walk away and start
over?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

alternatives

1. Chuck the whole thing... rent an apartment. My sister is in the
business -- she runs a "community" in Parma Heights. Now, I don't
want to live out there, but I can get a place damn quick. The commute
would be hell on MJ, though.

2. Close whenever we really can close. My moving company appears to
offer storage -- at least according to their website. We were
planning on moving on the 27th. What if on the 27th they came out and
took our stuff and put it into storage? And then we go live...

(a) at my sister's in Strongsville on an air matress;

(b) at my dad's in Jefferson;

(c) wherever ... Kristen and Ray's on Monday, Aliasgrace and BMac's on
Tuesday, etc.

(d) on the steam grate in front of the Virgil Brown building with the
other homeless;

(e) in a tent at a campground -- you aren't "playing homeless" if you
really ARE homeless!

(f) REALLY where we should be living is in a hotel -- and at the
seller's expense, because it's the seller's title company's fault.
And the seller should pick up the cost of the storage of our stuff and
additional moving costs beyond the original estimate. And our food
bills while we can't cook. And then hotel for up to an additional 2
weeks after we close, because 2 weeks is what we lost when their title
company screwed the pooch on the title work.

Yeah, I think 2(f) is the answer. Its their fault. Let them pick up the tab.

Idlewoodn't

The house -- isn't going to close this Friday either.

There are still 3 liens left that the title company is supposedly trying to clear. The same 3 that were there last Friday when we didn't close.

I am so angry at the sellers for insisting we use this title company.

Well, that's it. I'm not paying for it. And they need to compensate us for the time lost that we needed to clean up the place. We'll be lucky if we can even move into the place by our move in date of the 27th. And we now have no time to work on the place before all the furniture and stuff is in the way.

The next addendum is going to include some demands. This extention must cost them. I'm not going take this lying down. And if the seller doesn't like it, he can take it out of his realtor's hide. And if they aren't going to make good for their screw-ups, then they can find a new buyer. This isn't the only house for sale in this town.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Validation

When you're right, you're right.



Even if no one else sees it. That can be hard.



But sooner or later, people do see it.



History repeats itself.



Some of the players are different.



But the general gist of things is the same.



Oh, the drama.



Just glad ... not my problem anymore.

Did we connect? Or was it all just biding time for you?
- SW

Those Darn Steelers

I was just reading about how Heinz Ward has ended his holdout from camp. He's coming back, not because he cashed in on big money, and not even with a new contract in hand, but because after holding out 15 days he didn't want to miss any more -- and hopefully, the Steelers will resume negotiations on a new contract for him (he's in his last year of his present contract). He didn't want to be compared to T.O. and players like that, and he genuinely seems to want to stay with the Steelers -- and he wants to "retire a Steeler."

Now I often read statements like that, where players say they want to "retire a ____" and I say, yeah, whatever. That's usually just talk. But I don't think it is here. Sure, this team lost Plaxico Burress in the off season, but this is also the team where Bettis and others have taken paycuts just to keep the team under the cap number and stay apart of this team.

I don't blame anyone for getting what they can get. The salaries paid in pro sports are obscene anyway, so if you can get $5 million, why settle for $4 million? But you have to admire a team that has heart, and damn those Steelers, they have heart.

At least its not the Ravens having heart. The Steelers are the team I love to hate. The Ravens are an abomination and do not deserve to exist.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Yesterdays

1. There was the time spent at the office ... time spent there is not discussed here.

2. I drove out to Jefferson where the "camping weekend" was going on. I got there around 3ish, where some of the campers were playing a game of Clue! It was fun watching them. A few others arrived while I was there. I was glad to see Jamie and HilyGee, among others. I missed Christie and Tom though -- I guess they were out getting grilling supplies. LALL received a last minute family obligation, and had to take a pass, so I missed her too. MJ called after I'd been there about an hour -- she was looking at buying this car, and we started to discuss it on the phone -- but the signal wasn't good at the campsite. I asked her if she'd like me to come look at the car she was considering, and it seemed as if she'd value my input. So, even though I was only going to stick around till 5 (due to the Browns game), I ended up leaving even earlier, around 4:25, after I said my good-byes. More on that below.

3. The car MJ is looking at has a lot going for it. We took it for a ride, and I drove it too. Given where she works, she really couldn't get a better deal. She drove it home last night (we left the Vapor Trailer in the parking lot to pick up later.) The choice is hers, and I can see her going either way, and she's thinking about all the right things as to whether this is an appropriate purchase for her or not. So, I am confident that she'll make the right decision, because whether she buys it or passes it up, it will be the right decision because she'll have made it for the right reasons.

4. The Browns game -- there was a weather delay for over an hour due to lightning. They'll play football even in pouring rain (which there was), but not when there is lightning. (I'll bet camping was a soupy mess, too.) The Browns first string looked terrible against the Giants first string. And both teams had an embarassing number of penalties, especially holding penalties. Tucker is STILL getting called for holding, grrr. The Browns second string played well against the Giants' second string, and the Browns did eventually win the game. We left at halftime. It was late, we were tired, and the rain kept coming back. I caught the very end of it at home on TV -- we took the long way home so MJ could keep driving the car, making her evaluation.

5. I spent the better part of this week agonizing over whether to come back to staff "the conference" -- the campers were largely a few of those who would be at the conference in the Fall. MJ didn't want to staff again herself, and was surprised that I'd want to. Kristen and Christie made a few comments, too. And while I knew I had to get my application in if I wanted to be considered for the first round of staff assignments, I had decided against it as of Friday. But I still thought I'd come out and visit the campers. These people are my friends, or at least, a mixture of people being (1) friends, or (2) people with whom I've shared some good times (some of the best times, in fact), and feel generally positively about, but don't necessarily quite rise to the level of "friend." And while it was good to see the people I care about, being there did bring back a few things for me, and I know I made the right decision. It is better to let things lie as they are. I felt the way I felt back when I staffed my last conference a year ago; that my time has passed, that the contribution I have made is more or less concluded. And while I support the mission of the organization, like so many other things I support, I need not be there up close in order to cheer it on. For years, I didn't understand why people would quit staffing even though they still kept up with various friends they have made. But I understand it now. I am not sure if I can quite articulate it yet, but I guess it comes down to what you give and what you get (and I don't mean a free dinner and a souvenir cup). And I was thinking I might get something out of staffing this Fall, I realize now that I wouldn't have. That no matter how successful the conference itself would be, for me it would not have lived up to the memories of conferences past. Not on any objective level, of course -- but just for me personally. And by that I mean, I wouldn't get anything more out of the experience than I've already gotten time and time again. With everything else I have going on in my life, actually staffing the conference is just not for me anymore. I can just be happy that there are still a few good people involved, and that hopefully it carries on.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Browns Town Is Back


Tonight is the first Browns preseason game before the 2005 campaign. The NY Giants visit the Browns here on the lakefront. I'll be there, for as long as I can stand it.

I don't mean to be so pessimistic. Indeed, I really am looking forward to Romeo Crennel on the sidelines and all the new players on the field. I want to believe that we'll all be in for a few surprises. I want to believe that soome of Trent Dilfer's best games are still ahead of him, and that he'll be extra brutal against the Ravens -- a team that unceremoniously cut him after they won the Super Bowl together.

I want to see Lee Suggs prove that his a top notch RB. Unless Draughns or Green do it instead. I want to see Braylon Edwards play at the equivilent level in the NFL as the level he played at in Michigan. I want to see Antonio Bryant break out after falling out of the Parcells system installed in Dallas.

I want to see Phil Dawson kicking lots of FGs and even more PATs. I want to see an offensive line and a defensive live -- I might not recognize that at first, its been so long since I've seen one.

I want our punter to be the most underworked player on the team.

And even if we only win 4 or 5 this year, I want to see signs of greatness to come. Savage and Crennel can't get it all done in one year. But I want to see that the proper groundwork has finally been laid.

And with all the injury and holdout troubles in Pittsburgh, I'd love to see an upset of those dirty, nasty, filthy, smug Steelers.

If they only win five games, but we can win at least one game against each of our division rivals, I could find that to be a satisfactory season, given all the turnover and rebuilding. And it wouldn't be any small feat either. Pittsburgh is still the team to beat, just given their incredible record last season. The Bengals are on the upswing, and could really have a great year, with Carson Palmer and the Johnsons gaining lots of yards.. And the Ravens defense looks devasting again, and Jamal Lewis has something to prove.

It is tough being a Browns fan. I was noticing the Dolphins "40 years" logo, and realized that the last time the Browns won it all, the Dolphins hadn't played their first game yet. The Browns were NFL champs in 1964, and Fins were founded in 1965. In other words, ever since the founding of the Dolphins, the Browns have not won a championship or even appeared in a Super Bowl. Hmmmmm -- Shula's revenge for being shut out in 1964 when he brought the Baltimore Colts to Cleveland for the NFL championship? No, that's just silly. And Shula is a native of these parts, and played for the Browns in the 50s.

Cleveland has not won a sports championship since 1964 in any major sport. The Indians have lost two world series, the Browns lost several heartbreaking AFC Championship games in the 1980s, and the Cavaliers have a limited time to make something with LeBron before he moves on to greener pastures.

But tonight, the Giants play the Browns in Cleveland -- an old rivalry from the pre-merger days. The only thing that counts in these games is, not the score, but the injuries. So, I hope we see a fun preview of what's to come, and that when its over, everyone can walk off the field without any assistance.

More Intelligent Design Theories

If school boards are serious about teaching the controversy, they better be prepared to allow time for various points of view, including this one and that one.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Those Pesky Liens -- House Update

The title company has worked it down from 16 liens to just 3 that
remain in question. At least they are making progress, even if they
are still tardy and blew the original closing date.

We are now looking to close by Friday the 19th. And, as of this time,
we are still moving on Saturday the 27th.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What Are the Chances?


So what are the chances that we'll be closing on the house on Friday? I am far too angry and frustrated to write about all the details right now. But you can guess just how likely it is that its going to happen. And the consequences of it remain to be seen. But its not our fault. It is the seller's fault -- specifically, his realtor's, and more specifically, his title company's which the seller insisted on using instead of ours. I guess anyone can run a title company out of their garage, or not run one, as the case may be. But its put the whole deal into peril. And no matter what, we have to be out of the apartment by the end of the month -- there is already a new tenant lined up. And if we have to move into another apartment, that's the end of our little Adventure in Idlewood.

But I have faith that we'll pull this through. Not faith in God or fate or chicken bones or tea leaves. I believe we can get this thing done, if they are willing to be reasonable and accommodating in light of their screw-up.

"Never tell me the odds." - Han Solo

MJ is meeting me downtown, and we are going to drown our troubles in bowls of pho.

meow meow meow hiss meow

"you tell your friends that you have a blog. They all look at it. You make an entry of what you did the past weekend. Your other friends feel left out and sad. You make a personal entry of your thoughts and feelings. The people close to you wonder why you told everybody else your feelings and did not talk to them about it. They feel, once agian left out." -- BMac or Brian

From now on, I will write about kittens and cats.

Beautiful! I love little kitties! This one shows up on a Hallmark card. The inside of the card reads, for your birthday I decided to grow you a cat.

Of course, there is no reason I'd know that. If I never sent you a birthday card, its because... I never send cards. What am I saying? What's a card? What's a birthday, even? Gulp.

Domestic Bliss

Everybody has hobbies and interests. You and your Significant Other
may not share in all of them. So when one of these interests would
take you away for a weekend, and your SO doesn't like it, do you still
do it?

What if you have several interests that would take you away, and the
SO doesn't have an issue with any of them, except for that one. Do
you give in on that one, knowing that the s/he is cool about the
others?

Does it make a difference if s/he used to share in that interest, but
for various reasons, no longer does?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Homeless?

Just got off the phone with my realtor. Apparently the title company
is having trouble taking care of some judgment liens on the property.
Until they are taken care of, we cannot get clear title to the house.
Supposedly that means that closing will be postponed.

Bullshit, I say. MJ and I BOTH used to work in collections, and we
both know how relatively easy it is to clear a judgment lien when you
are transferring property. If it hasn't been taken care of yet, then
its because someone at the title company is sleeping on the job. And,
I might add, we agreed to use a title company of the SELLER's choosing
instead of our own. This is on the seller, as far as I am concerned.

So I looked up what liens are on the property, and even though I am
not trained in researching titles, I found two judgment liens. One
attorney represents both creditors. Someone needs to call this man
up, find out what the payoff is on each lien, and arrange to pay the
man out of the proceeds from closing. And yes, there is a little
paperwork involved too. But c'mon, this isn't rocket science! This
isn't even life-skills science! Can you use the phone? Kanst vie
sprechen sie Ingles? (Speutch, I know). Then make the call and
arrange to pay the goddamn liens, and quit telling me you can't do it
by Friday.

UPDATE:

It turns out that the problem isn't the two liens above. The problem is that the sellers had common last names, and there are all kinds of judgment liens out there against people with the same or similar names. Its not so unusual really. All the title company has to do is verify whether these judgments are against these people or not. And I've now seen the list, and it looks to me that most (if not all) of them probably are not against the people who have owned this house. But the problem is that the title company doesn't have it done at this late date. Here we are, week of closing, and they have a list of 16 or so judgment liens they need to verify don't pertain to this property. Turns out the woman who is the principal of this company has been on vacation, and it would seem that her assistant let it slide. She says she was working on it, but if she really was, we wouldn't be in this position.

Almost lost in all of this is my mortgage broker. Apparently, he still doesn't have the loan commitment done. Which ought to be done by now, but he just needs to get it done. Its not like he has to call all these lienholders and get written verification that the liens on apply to this land. Why just yesterday I had to reexecute disclosures pertaining to the second mortgage because he put the wrong address for the mortgage company on them -- nothing I would have caught from my review of the docs, because hey, you figure the guy who writes it up knows which of his addresses to use! Its not like he got my address wrong, or the address of the house. But he isn't worrying me like this title company. So far he has given me no reason to think he's not going to pull it off in time.

Calling It Wisdom Would Be Too Generous

When I was younger I didn't understand why people older than me hated birthdays. But as I get older, I think about what I haven't accomplished yet. More so than New Years resolutions quickly forgotten, with every birthday I find that I am a year older and I wonder what I have toshow for it.

I can be happy about certain things. With cautious optimism, I would state that my personal life is back on track; I am loved by someone I love. And I am about to become a homeowner again. Professionally, things are moving forward, but I do not think I have accomplished nearly enough. I won't go into great detail here, as I decided when I started this blog that my work would not be a topic here. Suffice it to say, I don't know that I could ever be satisfied on that front, and like many, I try to use that negative inspiration to move forward, rather than brood about it. But on a day like today, its a little too easy to end up brooding instead of using those feelingsconstructively.

The best advice I can give myself is to not look back, to keep looking and moving forward. And that's its ok to reassess my goals as long as I am constructive about it, and not mourning missed opportunities and paths not taken. I spend just a little to much time pondering what might have been instead of maximizing what is. And what I do have is a someone I love who loves me, a new home on the horizon, and fantastic opportunities where I work provided I can use them to my full advantage. And what more could I really want? Plenty, of course. But whenever I start feeling satisfied, I start feeling complacent. And there is too much to do to afford to feel that way -- that's what retirement is for!

"The open road is infinitely hopeful." -- Mr. H

Monday, August 08, 2005

Starbucks Venti Molotov Traditional

File this under "stupid drivers." This one was not driving a Buick.

Sunday morning, MJ and I were on our way to Jefferson to celebrate August family birthdays. We stopped at Walgreens and picked up a sunday newspaper and a card for my dad (I already had a card for Marcy). And then we stopped at Starbucks. MJ picked up a Coke Zero at Walgreens, so I ended up going in alone for coffee.

As an aside, I do not understand why people take little children to a Starbucks. It doesn't seem like a kid place to me. And here I was surrounded by 3 moms and 2 strollers with screaming babies, and 3 more kids (all 5 and under) running around. And the mom at the front of line, instead of ordering, is yelling at one of her kids, reminding him who the adult is. Whatever, sweetheart! With all the screaming, I was about to leave, but I knew I'd be more sullen without my coffee.

So I finally get my venti traditional coffee, cream, sugar, shake of vanilla. And I get out, much agitated already, and climb into the passenger seat of Meatball -- so I can read the paper while MJ drives. We go to pull out of the parking lot.

But we can't.

Because there is an idiot blocking the exit, and now, for whatever reason, he is trying to back up. And he backs up close to our bumper -- and he still has his reverse lights on, so it would seem he wants us to back up so he can keep backing up. And MJ honks at him. So he backs up right to the bumper. And she honks again. I mean, c'mon jackass, you're blocking the exit. If you want to come back into the parking lot, turn left and then re-enter the lot through the entrance! But no, this jackass (in a jacket and tie) gets out of his BMW 5-series with out of town plates, comes up to the window, and starts yelling at MJ.

Are you fucking stupid? Pull around me. Can't you see I'm backing up? not an exact or complete quote, I know he called her fucking stupid at least 2 or 3 times, and was getting in her face through her open window, but by now I am pretty much enraged so pardon me if I can't quote him exactly. And she's yelling at him to get out of the way. And mind you, its not like this jackass even motioned for her to drive around him. He went from trying to back up through the exit to out of his car and in her face.

So, I get out of the car. No one talks to MJ like that. I yell at him how dare you talk to her like that, you're the moron trying to back up through the exit. I yell at him to move his car, and then he calls me fucking stupid. So, while I didn't touch him, I did get into his personal space a little bit. And I gave him a clinic on the many uses of the f word. And then I told him if he knew what was good for him, he'd get back in his car and get the hell out of here. So he gets back into his car, and I get back into mine.

But he still doesn't move.

So, I finally tell MJ to just go around him. She carefully squeezes past him on the left. And as we pass him, he is flipping us the bird. And I've had more than enough. I woke up late, had to put up with single mom morning at Starbucks, and dealt with far more crap from the jackass than anyone should be reasonably expected to tolerate. And since I do take it upon myself to let stupid drivers know when they are being stupid, out of hopes of educating them, so they perhaps learn and not act so stupidly in the future, there was really one thing left in my hand that I could offer as a parting shot. And it wasn't the finger, due to the fact that a venti coffee cup was already in my hand.

Now, I don't advocate or recommend that anyone do this. Indeed, after cooling down a bit, I wished that perhaps I hadn't done this. I was, at the time, both enraged and indeed a little scared, because I thought he had acted in a threatening way to MJ and to me. And you never know what someone might be capable of doing. Even someone who seems mild-mannered is capable of murder under the right circumstances. And no matter what happened as we drove by, he might have been inclined to chase us. But of course, that is a lot harder to go with an entire venti Starbucks traditional coffee with cream and sugar all over your windshield. And yes, my cup landed dead on, bullseye, 10 points out of 10, on the windshield of jackass's BMW (an older 5-series, MJ scoffed). And just to be sure the cup didn't bounce harmlessly, hit the ground and then break open, I did manage to loosen the lid on the cup with my thumb just as it was leaving my hand.

And with the BMW immobilized, MJ and I headed off to Jefferson, where we spoke not one word of it. It occurred to me that jackass might call the police, but then, since he was the one that got out of his car first and threatened us, I doubted he'd be that stupid. And knowing the local police the way I do, once they heard he'd gotten out of the car first, they wouldn't have been all that interested.

Porcupine Tree Returns

One of my favorite bands is returning to Cleveland.

Porcupine Tree will be playing at the House of Blues again on Sunday, October 9.

My review of their May show in Cleveland.

I'll be there!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Fat Fish Blue

Here is Kristen's account of lunch, complete with photo.

We thought about going for Pho again, but like anything, if you go too often, then its not as special. Plus it wasn't as hot today as it has been, so the idea of walking toward Tower City was appealing to me. We met outside of Vincenza's -- the plan being to get slices of some of Cleveland's best pizza. But even though we arrived at ten minutes before noon, the line was already longer than the BMV's. So we walked down the street to Fat Fish Blue instead.

I love Fat Fish Blue. Good food and a great atmosphere, with live blues most nights. When I first moved to Cleveland, I'd go to the original Fat Fish Blue in the Warehouse district (where The Liquid is now.) It had a gritty feel to it, and a limited cajun and creole menu. It closed and then reopened a couple years later at Prospect and Ontario -- in the old Goodyear Tire showroom. Its a huge, open space, with a stage in the middle, and a parking garage above it. In fact, if you park and eat at Fat Fish, they'll validate your parking making it just $2 to park there, even if you eat there and then go to the baseball game.

Today I had the lunch portion of chicken and dumplings, which looked a little skimpy, but was rich and starchy enough to be enough for lunch, especially with a half a piece of their wonderful cornbread. Kristen had the blue cheese and bacon burger, which was huge -- and delicious (I had some of it.)

I missed the cute butt Kristen wrote about. Our server was fairly milquetoast herself, competent but not exceptional, and I had trouble understanding her. Instead of the usual plastic fish and animal toys, we had toy soldiers in our napkins. And yes, I traded my solider to Kristen for her watermelon Jolly Rancher.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bolton Idiocy Watch (The First of Likely Many Installments)

Look at this!

It appears that Bolton is already cozying up with the Chinese against Germany.

Earth to John Bolton: China is the e-n-e-m-y. Germany hasn't been for over half a century now.

Thanks to Vodkapundit for the link. Also, check out his analysis on the upcoming joint military exercises China is conducting with Russia.

OK, I finally did the list thing

Having seen Jason's and several others, I finally did the list too.

1. What time did you get up this morning? The alarm starts at 5:30, I crawl out of bed between 6 and 6:30.
2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Revenge of the Sith
4. What's your favorite TV show? Reruns of NYPD Blue (thank you TiVo!), Real Time with Bill Maher, Arrested Development
5. What did you have for breakfast? Caribou Coffee – large dark roast with cream, sugar-in-the-raw and three shakes of white cocoa
6. What's your favorite cuisine? Japanese, then Mexican.
7. What foods do you dislike? Poached eggs. Hot Tuna Casserole. Beets. Anything with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.
8. What is your favorite chip flavor? Depends on the type of chip. Either Salt and Vinegar, or white chocolate.
9. What's your favorite CD at the moment? Deadwing by Porcupine Tree
10. What kind of car do you drive? Depends on the day. Either a 2004 Volvo S40 or a 1997 Chrysler Sebring JXi convertible
11. Favorite sandwich? Corned Beef on rye with swiss and 1000 island.
12. What characteristics do you despise? Piousness, hypocrisy, closemindedness, yellers.
13. Favorite item of clothing? Anything black. Especially my black microfiber jacket.
14. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would you go? St. Petersburg, Russia – in the summer, when the daylight is nearly around the clock
15. What color is your bathroom(s)? White – until we move. Then it will be maroon, black and cream.
16. Favorite brand of clothing? Polo.
17. Where would you retire to: beach, or wooded retreat? Both.
18. Favorite time of the day? Happy Hour.
19. What was your most memorable birthdays? My most memorable were disasters, both of them. When I was a kid, my mom threw a party, and no one arrived until much later than the original starting time – I thought they had all forgotten. When I was older, my then significant other didn’t acknowledge my birthday till the day after. We broke up about a month later.
20. Where were you born? Erie, PA
21. Favorite sport to watch? NFL Football.
22. Who do you least expect to send this back to you? I’m not sending it to anyone, so this question doesn’t apply
23. Person you expect to send it back first? See question #22
24. What fabric detergent do you use? Whatever is on sale.
25. Were you named after anyone? My mom’s brother, Michael, and my mom’s favorite writer, Dylan Thomas.
26. Do you wish on stars? No. Who does that?
27. When did you last cry? The last time I listened to “Brave” by Marillion. Gets me every time.
28. Do you like your handwriting? Not especially but it’ll do.
29. What is your most embarrassing moment? Blowing a piano recital.
30. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? perhaps.
32. Have you ever told a secret you swore not to tell? Sure, but not until it no longer mattered.
33. Do looks matter? Yes.
34. How do you release anger? Drinking. Breaking things. Driving aggressively. Sending emails to the LEIMUN Board of Trustees (j/k)
35. Where is your second home? Pick one: Jefferson, Ohio. NYC. And I’ve always felt at home in Western PA.
36. What was your favorite toy as a child? Atari.
37. What class in high school do you think was totally useless? Health. Shouldn’t have been, but it was.
38. Do you use sarcasm a lot? No more than necessary. I prefer irony and understatement.
39. Favorite movies? Blade Runner, Memento, The Empire Strikes Back, Trading Places, Eyes Wide Shut
40. What are your nicknames? I don’t know.
41. Would you bungee jump? I’d much more likely try skydiving.
41. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Only when they’re new.
42. Do you think that you are strong? Only if I don’t shower.
43. What's your favorite ice cream flavor? Cookies and Cream, or anything with peanut butter
44. What are your favorite colors? Green. Orange. Blue. Black.
45. What is your least favorite thing about yourself? My lack of discipline.
46. Who do you miss the most? My Uncle David. RIP, 11/1/94.
47. Do you want everyone you sent this to send it back? See question #22
48. What color pants are you wearing? Olive.
49. What are you listening to right now? Marillion XM show.
50. Last thing you ate? Rice.
51. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Indian Red – do they still call it that?
52. Last person you talked to on the phone? MJ
53. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex? The flaws. I don’t mean that in a mean way. To me there is something beautiful in slight imperfection.
54. Favorite Drink? Grape juice. UDF Chocolate Milk. Various beers.
55. Do you wear contacts? Not since I was a freshman in college.
56. Favorite Day of the Year? Thanksgiving. Its family without all the materialistic gift giving.
57. Scary Movies or Happy Endings? happy endings
58. For some reason, this list didn't include number 58...Hmmm.
59. Hugs OR Kisses? Both
60. What Is Your Favorite Dessert? Bananas Foster.
61. What Book(s) Are You Reading? Some history book MJ has in the bathroom – it is excerpts of American history as told in textbooks from other countries. I got a big kick out of the Iranian version of the Hostage Crisis.
62. What's On Your Mouse Pad? Omar Vizquel.
63. What Did You Watch Last night on TV? A rerun of NYPD Blue. God bless the TiVo.
64. Favorite Smells? Fresh linen. Turkey in the oven.
65. Rolling Stones or Beatles? Beatles. I once saw the Stones, and I left early.
66. What's the furthest you've been from home? England

Adidas Buys Reebok

Adidas is buying Reebok. With Reebok, Adidas plans to challenge
Nike's dominance in athletic shoes and apparel.

Are there any Reebok connoisseurs out there who won't be buying
Reeboks anymore because they just won't be the same now that German
Adidas-Salomon AG owns the brand? Somehow I don't see it. Its not
quite like when Nike bought the rights to the ubiquitous Converse
Chuck Taylor shoe. People who buy Reeboks will keep buying them.

Personally I've grown to prefer Adidas. I like my Adidas Superstars.
Mine are white with black stripes. They go well with all of my
all-black outfits that Aliasgrace picks on me about. They pretty much
go with all my casual wear.

Do people who wear these shoes care about who makes them or who owns
the brand? I think most people who wear Nike like the marketing, and
like the celebrity athletes associated with them. And generally Nike
makes a quality shoe (by Nike, I mean the third-world laborers who
actually make them.) And yes, that is a little jab that the leader
gets because, while pretty much all of our shoes and clothing are made
far away and under conditions we'd rather not think about, just like
McDonald's we pick on the one who is doing it best, and therefore,
must be the worst offender of the cause du jour.

Mmmmm. Think I'll put on my Adidas and get a Big Mac.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Happy Birthday from the State of Ohio

Next week is my birthday. I got my present from the State of Ohio
already. Somewhere along the way, someone decided that your birthday
was the perfect day to set as the deadline to renew your license
plates.

Since I still own two cars, and stupid me, I have vanity plates on
BOTH of them. And since one car is old enough to still require an
E-Check emissions test -- which beginning next year will be "free"
since the proceeds from the tobacco settlement will be used to cover
E-Checks -- but as of right now, the test is still $19.50 -- today I
spent $199.12 just to renew my plates and registration, and do a
tailpipe test to the Vapor Trailer.

Thanks, State of Ohio! Happy Birthday to me!

Liberty, Equality and Order

All over the internet, there are online issues tests one can take that are supposed to help you decide how you lean politically. I tend to find those tests amusing, as they are usually written by someone who has an agenda. Because really, who follows or thinks about politics without having a few views of their own?

I don't claim to have come up with this by myself, but really, there is a more general test that I think is helpful. It comes down to how you balance three competing interests: liberty, equality and order. And how you prioritize them pretty much defines where you sit politically.

So...
If you think Liberty is more important than Equality and Order, then you are a LIBERTARIAN.

If you think Equality is more important than Liberty and Order, then you are a LIBERAL.

If you think Order is more important than Liberty, AND Liberty is more important than Equality, then you are a CONSERVATIVE.

If you think Order is more important that Equality, AND Equality is more important than Liberty, then you are a POPULIST.

Perhaps this is somewhat simplified, but I think it is more helpful than a test that asks you whether you to choose between two positions, neither of which comport with your opinion, and then assigns you a label.

And for those keeping score, I do think liberty is more important than equality and order.

Of course, I am curious as to what the rest of you think. Where you think you fall in, and whether the definitions as outlined above are accurate.

Skool's out

The stealth school levy for Cleveland Schools failed, 65% to 35%.
Turnout was at only 11%. This was due to the stealth campaign to
quietly put it up on the ballot at the last minute with direct mail
sent to only a list of people deemed certain to support the levy.

Most of the votes against apparently came from Old Brooklyn and the
West Side, which turned out big compared with the other neighborhoods.

Two observations:

1. The stealth levy was shameful -- in essence, Campbell and the rest
of the levy's supporters tried to sneak through a tax which, if it had
been well publicized, was certain not to pass. The fact that the ploy
didn't work doesn't make the effort any less shameful.

2. The fact that we still use school levies on real property for
financing schools years after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the system
to be unconstitutional is also shameful. Yes, I am aware that when
the court changed composition, ongoing decisions and review by the
court ended. But that does not mean the system is now better,
improved, or acceptable. And it appears that no one in Columbus has
the will to fix it.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Getting Asked Out

Well it finally happened. I knew this day would come. One of these days, someone was going to ask me if I wanted to run for office. Someone important enough to actually do something about it if I wanted to run.

I grew up on the Democratic side of the aisle. My mom started NOW chapters in Ashtabula and Youngstown, and was president of the West Queens Independent Democratic Club for years, and is a peace activist now. My dad was president of his teachers union. I worked on Democratic campaigns and causes throughout my childhood.

In college I began to develop my jaded view toward the party. While I was involved in College Democrats, I helped out not in just democratic races, but in one local independent race, and yes, provided support to even one Republican race. The local Democratic party and its elected officials on city council were not exactly friendly to my interests as a student at BGSU.

In law school I developed a more conservative outlook. When it comes to the courts, I don't agree with judicial activism. Legislating from the bench is inappropriate, whether or not you agree with the ends. It is the role of the courts to uphold the law, not create it. And
the courts should look at the text and construe it, and may consider the legislative intent -- but should not substitute its own judgment for that of the legislature. And because I agree with this
philosophically, I find myself in the judicial restraint camp, which is usually where the GOP is.

Granted, I also think the legislature should respect the role of the judiciary -- which, as we saw with Terri Shiavo, today's GOP (at least the President and Congress) is willing to dispense with in order to appease the religious right. The fact that Jeb Bush, Senator Frist, and ol' dirty Dubya himself would interfere, not only with the realm of the judiciary, but indeed, with the marital rights of a husband and wife, was just downright appalling to me.

I interned with a Democratic congressman, and clerked for a Republican judge. I have credentials on both sides. Its not that I would describe myself as being in the middle of the road. I just recognize that there are different ways of solving problems. Sometimes it is true that the best thing that can happen is that the government step in. And other times, the best thing would be for the government to get the hell out of the way.

There are extremists and hardliners in both parties, and I don't relate well to any of them. I used to employ what I called "The Jesse Test." Whenever I wasn't sure on which side of the aisle I was sitting, I'd ask myself, who offends me more (or less): Jesse Jackson or Jesse Helms. Of course, with Helms retired, I don't use this test anymore.

But what has been true for some time is that I do not comfortably wear the label of any party. I considered myself a D in 1992 when I voted for Clinton. I respected Dole and liked Kemp in 1996 and if they had run on Kemp's economics and Dole's social policy, rather than the other way around, I may well have voted for them in 1996 (I'd sure vote for that now, if offered!) In 2000, I voted for Gore. And in 2004, I didn't think W had deserved reelection, and I while I agreed with the intervention in Iraq, I thought he had mismanaged it, and that his priorities were out of order -- consider the twin nuclear threat of Iran and North Korea and ask again when Iraq should have been at the front of the queue. So I voted for Kerry, even though I thought he ran a dreadful campaign (and wasn't even convinced that he'd be much better of a president).

At the same time, I voted for Mike DeWine the last time out. I did not vote for Bob Taft, and I stand by that, not because of his politics, but because he is not an effective governor. I would have voted for Voinovich last time, but having once worked for Eric Fingerhut, I felt I owed him my support. For as long as I have lived on the East Side, I have not voted for Stephanie Tubbs Jones -- either voting Republican or leaving it blank. And when I lived on the West side, I had a tough time voting for Kucinich. So difficult that today, I don't remember whether I ultimately voted for him or not.

I do remember a few years ago, whenever it was that DeWine was up -- I voted such a split ticket -- I voted for candidates 5 ways: Ds, Rs, aLibertarian, a Natural Law, and an independent.

But the bottom line is this: if there is one thing that I know I don't believe in, it is that there is any bright line as to whether Ds or Rs or anyone else are good or bad, right or wrong, virtuous or evil. Often times we default to one or the other. That is a large part of what party affiliation is about: that if you know nothing else about a race, you might ask, who is the D, who is the R, and whichever way you lean, you vote that way.

I don't vote that way.

I learn about the races and the candidates. And if I can't decide on their own merits, I don't vote in that race. And I am not a single issue voter. For instance, I am pro-choice, but I don't have a
problem voting for pro-life candidates. Roe is the law of the land, and despite the huffing and puffing, that's not going to change any time soon.

So, while it may seem peculiar to some, and not so peculiar to others, I was approached today. I was asked out. Definitely felt out. And its the GOP doing the asking and the feeling. It wasn't Jimmy Dimora knocking on my door. And certainly, its nice to be thought of. And its given me something to think about.

The Folly of Appointing Bolton

John Bolton is our new UN ambassador, thanks to a recess appointment. This is just a bad idea all around. Bolton is not the right man for the job. The fact that he couldn't even get through a normal confirmation should have given W a clue.

The odd thing is, I generally agree that a president should get his appointments. And all this talk that Bolton was mean to his subordinates -- I don't really care about that.

But what has gone largely unreported and is terribly damning is how Bolton nearly botched the Libya deal. When Khaddafi was ready to give up his WMD program in exchange for dropping the sanctions, Bolton was mindlessly pushing for regime change. Nevermind that the US had no troops to spare to be invading Libya. Luckily, his UK counterparts alerted Bolton's superiors and got him out of those discussions.

If anything, its not that Bolton isn't just not the right man for the job. It just goes to show how little regard W has for the UN. If he thought the UN was important, he wouldn't be sending this chump over there.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Big City Adventure

JWB drove his car back to Ohio Friday night to leave it here -- it
just costs so much to keep a car insured in the city, and what do you
really need it for anyway? For the cost of insurance alone, that's
several plane tickets home, with plenty of cash left over for
metrocards and cab fare!

First thing Saturday morning, I drove JWB back to New York City with a
car load of things too big to cart onto a plane. My mom took us out
to dinner -- a little place called Bliss -- on the corner of 46th and
Skillman in Sunnyside. Delicious!

Lots of driving this weekend -- so lots of music listening! And a
really greasy steak for lunch in the middle of Pennsylvania on my way
home yesterday.

More details later. But that's where I've been all weekend.