Friday, September 30, 2005

some MDC stories, in celebration of his birthday

It was a summer home from college.  We borrowed my dad's Caravan and drove to Cedar Point.  Six of us.  Me, MDC, ESC and our girlfriends at that time.   ESC was paired up with MDC's girlfriend's little sister (I think) -- who knew then it would be among the first of so many fix-ups?

We had the minivan with a cooler full of food and beer.  I am pretty sure I wasn't 21 yet.  MDC might have been.  I worked at a store that sold beer, so I was always able to get my hands on it whenever I wanted.  The fact that we had beer really is no clue to me as to how old we were at the time.

We spent the day at the Point.  Midway through the day we went back to the van, and ate and drank.  Then we rode Avalanche Run.  It didn't take but a couple of beers to give me a buzz back then, so Avalanche Run was uncharacteristically exciting for me.  No one lost their lunch or anything, but I would submit that beers and amusement parks don't really mix.  There was plenty of yelling on that ride -- the other people riding with us had to know we weren't quite right.

* * *

It was the band competition trip our senior year -- the Smokey Mountain Music Festival in Gatlinburg, TN.  MDC and I had a hotel room with two other guys, DJ and RD.  Maybe RD was in the next room, and JA was with us, not sure now.  Anyway, I bought a whip at some leather store in town.  And we decided we'd have a little fun with it when they came around to make sure we were in for the night.  Supposedly they put tape on our doors or something, to make sure we didn't leave after curfew.  Who knows? 

Anyway, we tied up MDC (using shoelaces), and DJ stripped down to his shorts and put his arms behind the chair like he was tied up too.  I think JA was there, because I seem to remember his wrapping himself up in nothing but the shower curtain.  And when they came to check on us, instead of answering the door, I started cracking the whip, the other guys would yelp out.  Finally, when we heard MDC's dad tell us to open up, I finally did, and it looked like, as best as a bunch of goofy high school guys can make it look, like they'd walked into some homo S&M bondage situation.  We acted deadpan like nothing was up, and so did MDC's dad -- or at least he tried, because he nonetheless looked a tad disturbed.  But he didn't ask or say a word about what he saw.  And when he shut the door we all just laughed hysterically.

* * *

In college, I helped MDC pull a prank on his floor in his dorm.  They would periodically post a list of "floor damages" that everyone on the floor would be charged for.  Some things bordered on the ridiculous, so we took it the rest of the way.

The list would go up as a dot-matrix printout.  Yeah, really high tech.  Well, I had a dot-matrix printer in my dorm room, so we replaced the real list with a fictional one, which included a brainstorm of all sorts of bizarre floor damages, including plumbing damages for someone having flushed a cat down the toilet, as well as funeral expenses for the cat.  Guys were running around, wanting to know who the hell was responsible for the dead cat, and why did they all have to contribute to pay for its burial.  

Children growing up, old friends growing older

Today, MDC turns 35. My old best friend from Geneva High School. Emphasis on the OLD, haha. He was one of the oldest in the class, and I was one of the youngest. :-) The last to drive and buy beer, the last to be able to collect social security.

I remember when I first realized that I had clear memories of my father at my age. That is, I remember when my dad was in my early 30s.

I now realize I also have clear memories of MDC's father in his mid-30s. Damn! I'm old too.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

last night

Good food, good company, for a good cause.  What's not to like? 

And their Manhattan clam chowder was so good, that even their superior New England clam chowder couldn't touch it.

It got cold last night, didn't it?  I understand it is supposed to warm up this weekend.  I have to start digging out my sweaters!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

speakers

This could go under the "house blog" -- if MJ and I ever were to update it.

I must be getting old, because whenever I used to move, the FIRST THING I would set up was the STEREO.

So, there I am, about 4 weeks after the move, setting up the stereo in the basement rec room. Now, my stereo is outdated. I have a Sony receiver from 1995 (has Dolby surround, but not DTS or THX or 5.1 audio), and Sony CD changer from 1994, a dual cassette deck from 1995, a Harmon-Kardon standalone audio CD burner from 2000. And a Pioneer turntable -- which I use a lot more than the cassette deck!

The big and obvious problem is the speakers. My good speakers -- which I got the summer I graduated from high school -- bit the dust a few months ago. The woofers simply crumbled. They could still play -- sorta -- but anything with bass sounded like a kazoo. And while the real wood cases were beautiful -- instead of replacing the woofers, in a fit of madness I put them on the curb in Cleveland Heights -- and watched to see how quickly they would disappear. They were gone in less than an hour.

So, I need to replace the speakers. But in the mean time, I've been using these Bose speakers as my mains (I used to use them as surrounds.) And the previous occupant of the house left his Technics surround speakers mounted on the wall. So I hooked them right up. They are not what I would have chosen, but lacking anything else, they will do.

What I really want to get is a 5.1 audio system. I am less concerned with the home theater aspect. I really want to get into DVD audio -- there are several 5.1 mixes out there of albums that I really want to listen to. So I have resisted running out and buying new speakers for this system because I really want to upgrade the whole thing.

But with everything else that comes with the house, should I really be dropping coin on a new stereo?

Like I said, I must be getting old...

clammy!

MJ and I are going to a clambake tonight.  It is a charity event for a worthy cause (abused children). 

This clambake is an annual event.  My old boss first took me to this clambake when I was recovering from surgery and she wanted to see me get out of the house even though I hadn't returned to work yet.  I've gone every year, ever since, with her and her husband. 

Last year's clambake was when she first met MJ.  She thought MJ was a sweetheart and that I had done very well for myself.  And they really hit it off, so I know they'll have fun too, probably at my expense.  It will probably by asked why I haven't married this girl yet.  Guess I'll have to come up with a plausible answer, because I really have no reason except that I haven't asked her yet.  I really can't say more, because it would be presumptuous of me to assume she'd accept.

But you want to know what's great about taking MJ to the clambake?  She doesn't care for clams -- which means I get to eat hers.  Score!  She can even have my chicken if she wants it.  I can get chicken anywhere.  But steamed clams and broth -- mmmmmmm!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

thinking about what Kristen wrote.

I read Kristen's posts on certain idiots.  And it got me thinking.

Some people don't change because it may not seem to them to really be in their interest.  They act irrationally and like the results.  It works for them.  Self improvement means nothing to them; they get what they want, and are rewarded for their behavior.  So why would they change? 

And what can you really do about that?  It is easier if the offender is a friend or mere aquaintance, because then you can limit your interactions with said person.  It is harder when it is a family member or a co-worker.  If your brother is crazy, or your boss, you have less options.  You can quit going home for Christmas, and you get a new job -- either of which is more drastic than just hanging out less with someone.

But I don't want to say that just because I don't hang out with someone as much as I once did that they should read anything into that.  For example ... Years ago, my best friend from high school and I agreed that one of the qualities of our friendship was that we could go for months without contact, and then pick up right where we left off.  And that is what we've done over the years.  We get together to go see a band or some other event.  But we don't see each other every other weekend.  We email on occasion.  And we both know and appreciate all the demands on each other's time, what with career and family.   But that doesn't make him any less of a friend.  Not in the least. 

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sheehan to Tilman

While Cindy Sheehan and her protests have received lots of attention, the cover-up of Pat Tilman's death by friendly fire continues to simmer on the back burner.  While Mary Tilman is not camping in Crawford, she too is demanding answers.  As should we all. 

This football player turned army ranger was wasted.  His story was used by those who wanted to portray a portrait of a young man who gave up everything in service to his country.  Only weeks later did we learn that the hero had been killed, not by the enemy, but by our own forces.  Mary Tilman wants answers, but she is getting the runaround.

Cindy claims she wants to meet with the president [again], in essence, to tell him off.  Tilman wants to know what the hell happened to her son, why she was lied to for weeks regarding the circumstances surrounding his death, and why no one will give her answers even now.  Guess whose request moves me more.

Cleveland vs. Cleveland

I wrote this in response to a question on a discussion board I post to. The question was, what do you love about where you live, or hate.

* * *

Things I love about Cleveland:

  • Cultural institutions: its a small "big city" so we have great museums, a world famous orchestra, good theater, sports, and nearly all the bands I want to see stop here.
  • It is roughly a one hour flight to New York City or DC, so any time I want to get to the East Coast, it can be done easily enough.
  • Hot summers, cold winters, a real Fall -- you never have to run away from a snowstorm.
  • Lake Erie.
  • Relatively low cost of living -- I just bought a house and I know that for the same money, I couldn't have gotten anything in some markets. With that, I love that in my neighborhood, I can walk to shopping if I want. And parking is plentiful, so if I have a lot to purchase, I can drive easily too.
  • Lots of golf courses.


Things I hate about Cleveland:

  • There is a defeatist attitude that persists. We're not good enough, we don't deserve ______, this is only Cleveland. Its not just the sports teams either. The history of Cleveland is chock full of lost opportunities, I suppose lots of cities are, but people here really take it to heart.
  • And there is a bit of a provinical attitude here.
  • Can't get Yuengling here! Have to drive to Pennsylvania for that! Though Great Lakes Brewing Co. makes some fine beer.
  • And finally, its stuck in Ohio. My family is all from Pennsylvania -- and I have always bristled at the label "mid-western." Growing up, "going home" always meant going to Pennsylvania -- we lived just over the state line, closer to Erie than to Cleveland. While I really do like Cleveland, on the whole, I can't much imagine living anywhere else in Ohio.
Your thoughts?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Indian Fever


The Cleveland Indians are:
  • 1.5 games behind the White Sox to win the AL Central;
  • leading the Wild Card race to get into the playoffs, 1.5 games ahead of the Red Sox;
  • still not selling out at home.
Well, I did my part today -- I bought two tickets for Sunday, October 2 -- the final regular season game of the year. And its against the Chicago White Sox. Maybe it will be all decided by then. Maybe not. Either way, MJ and I are there!

I will say this though. I logged onto Ticketmaster a couple of days ago to see what was available for tickets. Even two days ago, there will still seats on the lower level. Not today! We're in the $10 seats in the upper deck, left field. There were $18 seats available, but it was only one section better toward third.

So why didn't I buy seats two days ago? Ticketmaster fees. I hate them! I went to the Jacobs Field box office this afternoon and bought my tickets. Two $10 seats cost a total of $20. What a concept!

Post-season tickets go on sale Saturday at 10am!

Saturday morning addendum: OK, I went a little crazy. I bought tickets to all three home games of the ALDS. The cheap seats, but still! It assumes a lot!

First of all, it assumes the Indians will actually make the playoffs. Don't get me wrong, they're hot! Nobody puts up the kind of numbers they've been putting up since August 1. It is unheard of! It is almost as unheard of as incredible numbers the White Sox put up before the All Star Break.

Second, even if they make the playoffs, its a short series. If they go in as the wild card, then they play, at most, only two games at home. And if they went three and out, then they'd play only one game at home: the one that ends their season. (Also true if they sweep the other team in three, but I'm a CLEVELAND fan -- that doesn't happen here!)

Third, since I bought tickets to a game three at home, that game will only be played if the Indians have home field advantage, and they have to play all five games in a best of five series. Trust me, I don't want to see a game five in the ALDS!

Actually, I just had a revelation. ALDS game five will be on October 9. While they haven't announced the time, I have Browns vs. Bears tickets that afternoon and the Porcupine Tree concert that night! So, the Tribe better get it done before game five!

Kerrey, my Irish Kitty

I learned something new this morning -- Kerrey, my eleven year old tabby cat, is IRISH.

How do I know?

Well, I neglected to change the cat box on garbage day.  Kerrey has a way of letting me know if I've waited too long.

Only this time, she found a new place to go.  In the rec room, my British flag was folded neatly and sitting on the entertainment center.  I got it when I went to London in 2002.  I've made a point of buying a flag at every country I've visited -- although that's not very many.

Well, someone knocked it off the shelf onto the floor, and pooped all over it.

On the list of things I can say I've done in my life, I can now say that I've cleaned shit stains out of a Union Jack.

JAMboree

The Geneva Grape JAMboree is this weekend -- a festival in my hometown that celebrates the harvesting of the grapes.

They have a website, but its still "under construction for 2005"???

Uh, anytime now people.  How are we supposed to know when the grapestomping is scheduled?  Or when the parade is supposed to start?  Or the grape pie eating contest?

Like so many things, the JAMboree has been around a lot longer than the internet.  And the event was successful back then.  But if you're going to have a website, even a simple one, please, put up the schedule of events and directions to Geneva.  How hard is that?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

More Missing Photos Found

Hard drive entrails....

My sister, Kat, and me -- smoking cigars in the Dominican Republic, summer 2001.




New York City, back in high school.



Dad, Darwin and me -- Christmas-time! (year?)

Even More Missing Photos

MDC & me -- Joyride show 11-7-03, The Blind Pig, Cleveland.


Kerrey! She's been my kitty since law school.



This one is for Jess -- who didn't believe it when I told her that I own a pair of orange shorts.

Missing Photos Found

Some gems that were buried in the bowels of my hard drive:


This is MJ and me in Florida last winter.




This is Minerva or "Mini-cat"




This is my cousin, Brent, and me -- before the Rush show at Blossom on the R30 tour.




This is me -- before the Rush show at the Gund on the Vapor Trails tour. Yes, I sneaked the plate into the show, and I think Alex Lifeson saw it.

Take the Money and Run

I found this article on Slate to be interesting. 


Seeing that we are about to spend $200 billion to rebuild New Orleans for the benefit of the one million people who were affected by Katrina, why not just cut everyone a check for $200,000 a piece?  An individual get $200k.  A family of four gets $800k.  And with money in hand, they can go do whatever they want.  They can move elsewhere, or stay and then use the money to rebuild New Orleans themselves. 

So I'll pose the same question.  If you lived in New Orleans, which would you rather have?  The government overseeing the rebuild of the city?  Or a check for $200,000 times the number of people in your family?

I'd take the money and run. 

Triozzi Time!

Here is a poll from WKYC.

Among the seven major candidates for mayor of Cleveland, Bob Triozzi polls in the top three for favorability and has the lowest polling number for unfavorability. 

And Campbell charts a 53% unfavorable rating.

Go, Bob, go!

Tree Time!


Porcupine Tree returns to Cleveland on Sunday, October 9, 2005. I picked up tickets a few days ago at the House of Blues ticket office for me, MDC and his DW, and MDC's brother ESC.

I've been very excited about this band for some time. I've seen them three times now. Steven Wilson is a fantastic song writer, and I hope someday soon he will receive some popular recognition for his work. And the band is agile, whether it is constructing lush soundscapes or simply rocking out.

I will admit, a lot of the music I like just isn't played on the radio -- not broadcast radio anyway. Internet and satellite radio, yes. My favorite band that you will hear on the radio on ocassion is Rush -- and even Rush only gets limited play of a few classic tracks.

But Atlantic Records sees something in Porcupine Tree. After years of boutique labels, Atlantic signed Porcupine Tree to its Lava label. Deadwing is the second Porcupine Tree album on Lava. If you are feeling even a little adventurous, here are some streaming clips...give it a listen. This is the CD that's been playing in my car all summer. The upcoming show is Porcupine Tree's second stop in Cleveland in support of this album -- I saw them when they were here last May. Only this time, ESC can join us, and I am pleased about that!

Anyway -- we have general admission tickets to the show. If anyone else is interested in going, let me know. We're meeting up before the show for beers etc. This is one of the best bands you will ever see.

And Robert Fripp is opening.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Stormy Ladies

My sister's name is Kat, or Katerina (but pronounced Katrina), and a couple of my friends have asked me if that bothered her, that one of the deadliest hurricanes in history shares her name. Frankly, I haven't asked her. I have no idea.

But now a new storm is coming. Hurricane Rita. And in my solipcistic little world, I find myself wondering why it would happen to be that two ferocious storms would be named after my sister and then my recent ex.

I checked the list of storm names for 2005. They are chosen in advance each year. And I notice that my ex-wife's name is ALSO on the list. Two storms past R for Rita will come T for Tammy.

Well, if so much as a hurricane or even a "tropical storm Tammy" hits the coast, that may be a little too much coincidence for me to process.

For what its worth, I have never known anyone named Ophelia.

The Wild, Wild Night

I got home from work around 7:30. I went to Target and bought cat food. (Sonenshein observed that my worst experiences at the store involve buying cat food, but nothing of note to report.)

I decide I am going to have a pizza and watch the baseball game. First I call Zeppe's, but they don't have any specials for a single pizza. So I stop by Papa John's, and they do. I place an order and go to CVS to buy milk.

Now CVS has a bonus card, just like the groceries stores. I refuse to sign up for it. I already resent having to carry cards for the stores in order to get their sales. At CVS the milk is on sale for $2.39. She asks me for my card. I told her I don't have one. It scans at regular price -- and then, without even asking, she adjusts the price to the sale price. I thank her. I walk back down to the other end of the plaza to get my pizza.

The pizza is ok. I am not a big fan of Papa John's pizza, but with the garlic sauce, how can you go wrong? I go home and feed Kerrey and Minerva. I turn on the baseball game, already in progress -- the first inning having just ended. I pour a glass of milk. I sit down in the recliner. I eat three slices of pepperoni-mushroom-black olive, and then pass out in front of the TV.

My phone rings and wakes me up -- its MJ, and she has arrived in Michigan. She asks me if she woke me up. I tell her yes, but its ok because I am glad to know she made it in ok. She tells me to go upstairs and not to sleep on the couch. I say ok. Then I slump over to the couch and snooze until 3am, before going up to bed.

The channel kept changing. I don't know if the TiVo was going it, or if I was sitting/lying on the remote. I thought I left the remote on the recliner. Not sure.

I understand this morning that the White Sox won the game. I don't feel disappointed for missing that.

So thanks everyone for your suggestions. But I never got around to opening wine, drawing a bath, or anything else. But I probably needed the sleep.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Home Alone

Work has been super busy, as has the house.  It has cut into my social life, and other hobbies, interests and pursuits.

Tonight, Marquise is driving to Michigan to see her grandfather.  Its a surprise visit for his birthday.  She has Wednesdays off from work.

I can't take the time off right now, as much as I'd like to join her.

But this will be first night alone in the new house.  Alone being a relative term -- I have Kerrey and Minerva to keep me company.

What to do with it?  I'll probably work late as usual.  But then what?  Sit around in my underwear and play video games?  No.  I need a better plan. 

Any suggestions?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Artrotica

This is art... but some of it may offend the shy, the sensitive, Jesse Helms, and your IT admins, so you've been warned!


I do not pretend to know a lot about art. I was a member of MOCA -- joined when the Yoshitomo Nara exhibit was in town two years ago. As an aside, thank you, Christie, for turning me on to Nara, thanks to this "Too Young to Die" ashtray she and Tom had displayed on their coffee table.

I signed up to do a Spencer Tunick shoot, but I just couldn't drag my ass out of bed early enough to do it, and the air was a bit nippy (nipply?) as I recall.

I also love Andy Warhol, like some Salvadore Dali, and have an appreciation for Monet, Rembrandt, Picasso, and others. I joined the Cleveland Museum of Art right before the renovations began, because I thought it would encourage me to visit more often (even though there will be only limited showings during the renovations). When MJ and I went to Pittsburgh last year for the Browns game, we also went to the Andy Warhol Museum, which I think is a must-visit destination in Pittsburgh. Though I must take exception to the "time capsules" series at The Warhol. I have learned that I am a lot like Andy Warhol in this respect: I throw things into boxes, and then throw them in my basement. I am amused by a gay man who is no better a housekeeper than me. But I digress.

I think art in public spaces is a wonderful thing. And that is why I was pleased when, a couple of weeks ago, some sculptures appeared in the lobby of my office building, the Erieview Tower. The Erieview itself is a lovely black and green box, though it is perhaps more of a shaft.

So, let's look at the sculptures.

Here is the first one.

One of my co-workers thought it looked like a shoe. A shoe, I asked her?

Then I realized, she is a bit shorter than me, so perhaps from her angle walking by it, perhaps it does look a bit like a shoe.

I, however, am taller, and this is what I saw:



When I saw this, I didn't think of shoes. And at first I thought maybe I just had a dirty mind, but the name of the piece is "Fertile Folds" or something like that. And that hole is big enough to stick a fist in, which another passerby demonstrated with a dirty smirk on his face.

These pieces arrived in phases. And mind you, I was getting used to the idea being greeted every morning by a set of stone cold labia. To think I got divorced to avoid that fate. (I am just kidding about my ex-wife's frigidity. I kid the ex-wife.)

But it gets better. Instead of being greeted by "stone cold" I now see this next piece first, before I even walk in my building:



This is what I walk by when I enter my building every morning. Nothing boosts the old morale like a little ass in your face. This poor ass isn't even attached to anything (except the block below it). I want to think, no, its not an ass, but I can't help it, that's what I see.

Perhaps someone in management decided that the point wasn't made by "stone cold" -- perhaps too many others were seeing only "a shoe" as well. So this fine piece now adorns the wall just past the security desk on the way to the elevators:

One of the secretaries exclaimed, "that's a woman up there!" But I disagree. When I look at that, I do not think of women. I think of butterflies and rosebuds. Perhaps a little man in a boat.

The other day, I noticed the mexican stand in the food court had raised the price of tacos. I cannot blame him though. He thought he was making food, but it turns out he was making art for the masses.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bob Triozzi for Mayor of Cleveland

I've known Bob Triozzi since 1992, when we worked together in Ashtabula County on Eric Fingerhut's primary campaign for Congress. We then worked together again in Fingerhut's district congressional office.

Triozzi is running for mayor of Cleveland. It is an uphill battle, and of all the candidates, I really think he'd be the best for the city.

It is heartening to see him get some positive press in The Cleveland Scene.

I no longer live in the city. If I did, I'd be voting for Bob Triozzi.

Vote for Bob, and all of your wildest dreams will come true.

Next to Go to Hell: Target

I was already in a foul mood when I went to Target this morning. We were completely out of cat food, and I wasn't about to let the cats go without. And then there was the door we were stripping that is now ruined -- but I don't even want to get into that right now.

I went to Target because cat food is cheaper there. I also thought I'd pick up some cold medicine. WRONG. Almost all the cold medicine, even liquid Day-Quil, is available only at the pharmacy during the pharmacy's hours. Now, I long ago stopped using Target's pharmacy because they are a bunch of lazy good-for-nothing bitches, but the long and the short of it is: I can't buy even a single dose of Sudafed or Day-Quil unless the pharmacy is open because I might go and try to make meth out of it. And the pharmacy doesn't open till 9am. WTF! You'd think if they were going to have such a policy, where you couldn't buy boxes of the stuff without going to the pharmacy, and since the pharmacy's hours aren't the same as the store's hours, then they'd at least have some single doses for sale. Who would try to run their meth lab using those single dose foil packets? But no. I end up buying some weakass cold medince, I am not even sure why I bothered.

So Target, today you can go to hell. I am sick, and I can't buy the drugs I need because someone at corporate is worried that someone else might be getting high. I ask, do you keep the airplane glue and the Redi-Wip at the pharmacy as well? I doubt it.

I know I could have gone to Walgreens, but I just didn't have time. I guess I should have. I'm feeling miserable, and now I will all day. Thank you, Target -- now go to hell.

duplicate posts...

My "cough cough" post went up twice. Often I email my posts in. The second one that posted I emailed from home before I went to work, and it floated around in space before landing in my blog. Usually they get there in seconds.

So yesterday when it didn't arrive after a few minutes, I recomposed my entry straight into blogger.

Anyone else use the email feature and have any problems with it? Normally it works great!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

cough cough

Everything is piling on me at once stress-wise.   I started getting a sore throat and sniffles yesterday.  And a bit of a cough. 

That bothers me, being sick, but what I am really afraid of is losing my voice again. 

I can work through the sore throat and the headache.  It is hard for me to do my job without my voice.

cough cough

Everything has been piling up on me all at once stress-wise. I started getting a sore throat and sniffles yesterday. And a bit of a cough.

That bothers me, being sick. But what I am really afraid of is losing my voice again.

I can work through the sore throat and the headache. It is hard for me to do my job without my voice.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Mike Brown Resigns from FEMA

Well, he was relieved of his duties sometime last week.

This week, he has gotten around to quitting.

Another delayed reaction.

I hope this man never puts his hand on a hot stove. He might catch fire before he removes it.

The Browns arrrrrrrgh Back

We went to the game. The cast of characters is different, but the show is pretty much the same:

  • too many penalties
  • too little defense
  • two touchdowns called back (for penalties)
  • a QB who keeps getting tipped, picked off, whatever
  • an RB who has a decent first half, then is barely played in the second half
  • and then finally, to seal the loss -- three chances to go 2 yards, and not doing it.

Since the Browns returned in 1999, they've had just one winning season. And for all the new changes in personnel, things just didn't look good. I knew it was going to be a tough year. I didn't think they'd win more than five games. But it is so frustrating to watch the mistakes, to watch the points taken off the board. I find myself wondering, why am I spending my time going to these games? I am wondering, is this still fun?

As it is, we aren't even unpacked yet, and here we are spending Sunday downtown. Well, there isn't another home game till Oct 9, versus the Bears. And till then, the Browns play the Packers and the Colts on the road, then get a week off. So, even though the Pack looked terrible against the Lions yesterday, I think we are looking at an 0-3 start.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Washed Away Like Footprints in the Rain

Thursday morning MJ called. I knew this day would come. I had seen it coming for awhile, and I was expecting it. In a way, I was almost looking forward to it. When you anticipate the blow, once it happens, it is a relief to put it behind you.

For awhile, its been like she wasn't there. And that is mostly because she really wasn't there. She's been parked over at my sister's.

When we were living on Eddington, we didn't have room for all three cars. And with the air conditioning broken in the Neon, we brought her back out during the hottest months of the summer. She rode rough, but she rode.

MJ almost bought a Mini Cooper in mid-August. One had come in on a trade. We even took it home for an evening. But after running the numbers, it didn't make a lot of sense. To make it work, it wouldn't have been the good deal we were thinking it would be. So, the Vapor Trailer went back into storage, and MJ went back to driving the Neon, the worst of the summer heat behind us.

But Thursday morning, MJ called me. Another new trade had come in. And this one was the one. But that meant retrieving the Vapor Trailer. The good thing about MJ selling cars, is that she is in a position to get herself a favorable deal at her own lot. Besdies, if your job is selling BMWs, driving a 1995 Dodge Neon does not exactly project the image of success you'd expect from someone who was the top sales rep in July.

Getting a favorable deal included getting a favorable price for your trade in. When I went car shopping in February, (about a month and half before MJ started selling cars,) everywhere I went, dealerships tried to steal the Vapor Trailer whenever I offered her on a trade in. So I took her off the table, and kept her. I decided that if I was going to give her away, I'd give her away to family or someone I cared about, and not some car dealer.

And that is ultimately what happened. I contributed the Vapor Trailer to the deal to make it work. And while I'd have preferred getting a little bit more for her, I got more for her than anyone else offered me back in February.

So, after MJ called me, I drove down to Strongsville to get the Vapor Trailer. I opened the garage where she'd been lying dormant since mid-August. And....

The remote didn't unlock the car. I put the key in the door and opened it. The car was silent and dark. The power seat, which had been moved all the way up by the young woman who drove it last, wouldn't budge. And that's when I noticed that the switch for the internal light had been left turned on.

I found my sister, who had jumper cables. No sooner had we connected her Corolla to the Vapor Trail that the alarm began blaring! After running around the side to turn off the car alarm, I started her up. I dropped the top and headed for Mentor.

It was a dark and crisp night -- some of my favorite weather for convertible driving. Maybe its because I sunburn easily that I actually prefer open motoring at night. But no sooner had I got on 71 was there a light spinkle. But no! I would not be denied my last ride in the Vapor Trailer! And the rain stopped.

By now it was late. MJ's shop was only open till 9. I wanted to be there no later than 8, but having to locate Kat, then her having to locate jumper cables, and then having to jumpstart the car set me back. It was already 8:30 and I was still in Cuyahoga county. The perfect excuse to drive fast.

The Vapor Trailer was the first car I ever bought because I wanted it. Every other car before it had been acquired through necessity or had been handed down from someone else within the family. When I bought her back in 2000, she had only 25,000 miles on her. She was my first convertible, my first V6, my first leather interior with power everything, the first car I owned that really was everything I wanted. And 95,000 more miles later, I was on my way to Mentor to let her go.

I drove 71 to downtown and got on 90. I love looking at the city skyline at night, and it is especially beautiful when unencumbered by any roof. Around Dead Man's Curve, then along the lakeshore, I opened it up. And that's when the rain started.

I didn't stop to put the top back up.

I rode hard through the rain, Deadwing lullaby on the Infinity stereo system. I was driving so fast that the rain was blowing over my head. The car was wet, but I was not.

And as I pulled off at Route 615 in Mentor, the rain stopped.

I pulled into the dealership, raised the top, and turned off her engine for the last time.

Horizon to horizon
Memory written on the wind

Fading away like an hourglass, grain by grain

Swept away like voices in a hurricane

In a vapor trail





Later that night:


The next day:

They Scored, They Scored!

Week 3

Perry 35, Geneva 7

Friday, September 09, 2005

Bush Should Resign

House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, both Republicans, announced what they said would be a bipartisan investigation at an event on Wednesday to which no Democrats were invited. With their plan, aides said Republicans would have the majority of members.

They want to whitewash it like Abu Ghraib.

This administration promotes torture and now has killed its own citizens through (at best) its incompetence or (at worst) its malevolence. In Iraq, they used have a guy like this. They called him Saddam.

Bush should resign. And the Democrats are pussies for not standing up saying so. Instead of arguing about committee composition, go for the throat.

That is why the GOP is in power, and not the Dems.

If this had happened under President Kerry, don't you think the calls for resignation and impreachment would have already happened??? I don't doubt it! Make Bush and the congressional GOP defend the indefensible: the federal response to this disaster.

While they are busy blaming the local officials remember this: unless you live in Lousiana, Governor Blanco is not your governor. (But I live in Ohio, and I know already that Governor Taft is both incompetent and corrupt.) In whatever state you live, Bush is your president, and if a disaster hits your town, you now know that the federal government won't respond in any timely or meaningful way.

New Rules: Every man for himself. Buy a gun. Be ready to loot your local Wal-Mart.

A couple of weeks ago, I'd have written off anyone suggesting that as wearing a tin-foil hat.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More High School Football... or not.

Week 2 for Geneva:

Madison 28, Geneva 0

Geneva hasn't scored yet.

Coming up next: PERRY. 

Go Geneva! Nuke the Pirates!

Starbucks versus Caribou Coffee

Moving from Cleveland Heights to University Heights has upset my morning routine just a bit. I used to stop at Caribou Coffee on Coventry on my way to work every morning. Now I live right by a Starbucks (at Cedar and Warrensville) and pass another Starbucks (on Cedar Hill, but parking is catch-as-catch-can).

After drinking Starbucks for about a week I've come to a realization. I actually prefer Caribou. I didn't think I had a preference. But evidently I do.

Lately, Starbucks had been tasting kind of harsh to me. I even tried Starbucks "mild" selections, and it didn't quite do it for me.

Today, I took a little detour to Coventry on my way to work and got some Caribou. And it really hit the spot.

I've always thought Starbucks offered a quality product, and it has been the coffee I compared all others against since my first cup of it on January 19, 1996 at the Starbucks on Pennsylvania Avenue next to the Navy Memorial/Archives stop of the Washington DC Metro. But now, Caribou!

Damn, when did I get so particular?

This Is the 21st Century

A wise man once said
A flower is only
A sexual organ
Beauty is cruelty
And evolution
A wise man once said
that everything could be explained with mathematics
He had denied
His feminine side
Now where is the wisdom in that?

I came just as fast as I could
Through the dirty air
Of your neighbourhood
Your name on a grain of rice
Hangin' around my neck
And a head like lead

This is the 21st century
I heard everything they said
The Universe demystified
Chemicals for God
This is the 21st century
I heard everything they said

A wise man once wrote
That love is only
An ancient instinct
For reproduction
Natural selection
A wise man once said
That everything could be explained
And it's all in the brain

We lay on a velvet rug
by the open fire
She blew air on my eyelids
I cried "What's it all about?"
As she kissed my hair
She said "There, there.."

"This is the 21st century
I heard everything you said
The universe demystified
Astronomy instead
This is the 21st century
Can't you get it through your head
This ain't the way it was meant to be
Magic isn't dead
Come to bed
Come to bed

And rest your heavy head my love.."
And slowly, from above,
She showed the answer's something that can't be written down

This is the 21st century
Flash to crash and burn
Nobody's gonna give you anything
For nothing in return
There's a man up in a mirrored building
And he just bought the world

Would you want
To have kids
Growing up
Into what's left of this?

She shook her head,
She said "Can't you see?
The world is you
The world is me."

-h

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Quincy Morgan Breaks Out Again

Last year, MJ wanted to buy a Browns jersey to wear to the games (I have season tickets, you see.)  We found a store at the mall that had jerseys on sale.  Not a great selection in her small size, but we found an orange Quincy Morgan jersey.  Mind you, this was before the start of the 2004 season. 

She asks me, what about Quincy Morgan?  I said, "Quincy Morgan is due to have a breakout year."

Words that have been thrown in my face repeatedly ever since.  Morgan was again unexceptional.  And then Morgan really DID break out ... Butchie traded him to the Cowboys for Antonio Bryant.  Which MJ reminds me of every time she gets dressed to go to the game, as well as every time she thinks about what she will wear to any game.

Turns out that was probably the best deal Butchie ever made while here in Cleveland.  Bryant enters this season as the Browns' number one receiver.  Morgan got cut over the weekend by the Cowboys.  Only to be signed by ....

The Stillirs!  Yes, Morgan will be wearing the black and gold.  Just goes to show how far Pittsburgh has fallen in a short time, signing Morgan to bolster their depleted wide receiver corps. 

I told MJ last night we need to take Morgan's name off the back of her jersey.  Bryant wears the number now anyway!  And, while I don't want to curse him by saying that he is due to have a breakout year, well, he is on the team, and he is presently listed as the number one receiver. 

So let's see what happens.  We might win FIVE GAMES this year.  Go Browns!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No Warm Fuzzies over LEIMUN

Yes, I got the warning email, that if my LEIMUN dues were not paid by August 31, then I would be shut off from the LEIMUNmembership Yahoogroup. I just checked, and sure enough, it is no longer on my list of groups.

There are a lot of things this organization doesn't get done on a timely basis -- and this was true when I served as a trustee on the board too. And that's acceptable to a degree, since it is, after all, a volunteer organization. But not getting your membership check in, that is something they don't mess around with. And that's ok.

I wrote my dues check over two weeks ago. It is still in my checkbook. I didn't mail it because I wanted to wait and see what my new mailing address would be (since closing on the house was not certain.) Knowing that the Chief Administrative Officer (read "secretary" with title inflation) will soon be on vacation overseas for three weeks, I don't imagine that if I were to mail my check now that anyone would be cashing it or reactivating my privileges any time soon. And again, that's ok. The only thing coming up is the election, and since there is only one candidate running for two available seats, it isn't actually contested. Indeed, write-ins are not permitted under the bylaws, and since the board can no longer appoint replacements (as of the bylaws revisions effective 8/15/05), they can't even appoint someone to fill the position, not even on an interim basis. Interestingly, it does not appear from the minutes that their most recent trustee appointment made it in under the wire, but since there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of people clamoring for these trustee positions, who would complain?

Except that certain deadlines are firm, or maybe they aren't. And whether they are or aren't is either arbitrary, or at the convenience of whoever is seeking to enforce the deadline.

But since I am shut off now, and since members' votes won't matter in the upcoming election, and since I won't be attending the upcoming conference anyway, I don't really see the incentive to rejoin. If I were looking for even a sentimental reason to do it, then maybe a gentle reminder of why we support the cause, as opposed to the shut-off notice, maybe that would have been better received. Or maybe not. But I speak only for myself. As I have been told, repeatedly since the end of my term as a trustee, my views and thoughts don't reflect the silent anonymous masses within the organization. Maybe I am the only one who didn't run right out and get his dues in. Maybe I was the only recipient of what appeared to be a mass email. Maybe.

Buried in the Back Pages

On Friday, the house finally closed, and the title transferred. 

As a white male landowner, I get to vote now.

The Federal Government Pre-empts Local and State Government in Its Responsibility to Act Quickly

From Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish:

BUSH'S OWN PLAN: The 2004 National Response Plan explicitly states that, at times of
any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions,
the federal government pre-empts local and state government in its responsibility to act quickly. After 9/11, the administration wisely dispensed with the formalities of deferring to local authorities (which, of course, in this case had already issued a state of emergency as early as August 26). The attempt by the spinners to blame this on the obviously overwhelmed and incompetent local authorities, doesn't fit with the Bush administration's own rules. Proof positive can be read here.

Download and read the plan yourself.

Waiting for the Gas Part I

Sitting at home … waiting for the gas company to come out and read the meter.  The gas meter is in the basement, over by the washer and dryer. 

I am not sure why it is that gas meters are in the house.  And I am not sure why they cannot be read remotely. 

But for whatever reason, I sit here, and my window is from 8am till noon.  That's another thing.  A four hour window.  I am sure they could be more precise than that, but they have no incentive.  For the next four hours, I am fearful of even going to the bathroom, lest I be indisposed when the doorbell rings. 

Which reminds me… the doorbell on the side door doesn't work.    Add that to the list of things to do!

Waiting for the Gas Part II

Are there any more basic roles of government than to protect the citizens, the infrastructure and the borders? With New Orleans, the Bush administration has failed all three.

We haven't learned a damn thing since 9/11.

Even if you ignore the higher temperature of the Gulf of Mexico, even if you ignore the lost opportunities to fix the levees before they failed, the federal response to the disaster was nothing short of incompetent. How many thousands have died waiting for help that didn't arrive for days?

Bush said on Friday that the efforts thus far were "unacceptable." Well, sir -- those efforts were YOURS, yours and your adminsitration's, yours and your Department of Homeland Security -- a bureaucracy that YOU created.

Bush's failure to act in New Orleans -- this is the moment that will define his presidency. Not 9/11. Any idiot could point at Afghanistan on a map.* Even Al Gore. And Al Gore wrote a whole damn book on global warming. You think he might have taken the reqeusts for funding to fix the levees more seriously? We'll never know for sure, but we know Bush didn't.

All the Bushies on TV saying "this isn't the time to lay blame." Oh really? Well when will that time be? Because every moment these idiots are on TV is another moment of delay piled on top of unconscionable and incompetent delay.

*Although it takes a special kind of idiot to then point at Iraq.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Carterization of W

Record high gas prices, talk of a gas shortage, and a foreign policy that is incompetently executed. 

All that is missing is double digit interest rates and runaway inflation.  But substitute that for the administration's inability to rescue the citizens trapped in New Orleans.  Let's see, do we have busses?  Helicopters?  Food and water?  Well, not fast enough to save the poor SOBs who didn't get out of The Big Easy on time. 

Hurricane Katrina was coming, we all saw it coming on Sunday.  Its Friday and there are still people stuck at the Superdome?  Still people stuck on their rooftops?  How many will have died because the help isn't getting there?  This was only a hurricane!  What if we had been attacked by terrorists? 

After 9/11, we endured the Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.  Many of us went along with the president on Iraq.  He said the WMD were there.  Colin Powell went to the UN and said they were there, too.  Then none were found -- and granted, Saddam was playing cat and mouse with the weapons inspectors, and everyone thought he was hiding something.  But this post isn't about the incompetence of the Bush administration in executing the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  It is about the Bush administration's incompetence in general, and now, in particular, in the handling of the storm damage in New Orleans, Biloxi, and along the Gulf coast. 

Once again, the government is caught with its pants down.  The government is ready if a terrorist wants to try bringing box-cutters on a plane again.  But for anything else, forget it.  I keep thinking, why aren't we flying every helicopter we can get our hands on down to New Orleans to (1) drop food and water, and then (2) rescue these poor bastards???  Then I think of Carter's legendary helicopter rescue attempt of the Iranian hostages.  Bush would find a way to screw this pooch too.

For me, it is settled.  Bush is the new Carter.  Except without the warmth or integrity.  Jimmy had Billy, George has Neil.  Jimmy had his peanut farm, George has the ranch.  Jimmy would never tell a lie, George can barely talk. 

And now George is telling us to conserve gas!  How soon before we have 55mph speed limit forced upon us again?  Or some similarly drastic measure?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

September Brings Clams

RB called me -- KAS wants to send me an invite to the clambake.  Nothing says "summer is over" like the onset of clambakes.  But I LOVE clambakes!  I took MJ to her first clambake last September -- guests of KAS.  I got to give her my new address!

To me, the clambake is all about the clams.  If I can get extra clams and clam broth, I am in heaven.  Whether steak or chicken is served with the clams is secondary to whether I can get a cup of Manhattan clam chowder.  I think I prefer New England clam chowder overall, but a good clambake offers both, and I get both.

I just told MJ, and she is excited to go for the same reasons I am. 
(1) the food is great
(2) the company is great, e.g. KAS et al
(3) its a great marketing opportunity for us both.

I just hope its not the same weekend as Grape JAMboree.

Change of Address

Now that we've moved, there is this whole Change of Address issue.  I always miss stuff. 

The credit cards ... that's easy.  They bill you every month.

The car loan ... also easy.  If you think no one pays any attention to you, just miss a car payment.

Student loans... yeah that's another.

Then there are the less obvious ones.  Magazines are catch as catch can.  My 401(k) servicer.  And others even less obvious because I am not thinking of them right now.

And then there is the whole Christmas/holiday card thing.  If I don't get my cards out early this year, I'll have cards going to the old address.

I may send out a massive email with my new address.  But then I thought again.  Is there anyone I don't want to send the new address to?  Not really, I don't think.  But what if we have a housewarming party and we neglect to invite someone who thought they should be included?  And when does one have a housewarming party anyway?  If we do it too soon, its "hey come look at all our boxes!"  If we do it too late, its just a party.  Not that just having a party is bad or something!  And what about the people in my email address book who I haven't communicated with so frequently?  That is, maybe the last time they heard from me is the last time I sent them a change of address?  Well, maybe the last time they heard from me was when I switch from AOL to gmail.

Anyway, I'll be working on the house this weekend.  That is how I am spending my Labor Day.  No Air Show this year, no going anywhere.  No Macinac (sp?) bridge for MJ.  My dad is coming over on Saturday, I think we're going to do some painting.  Gotta check with MJ and see what she would like done first.  I am thinking its still the bedroom. 

Actually, the first thing I should really do is fix the house numbers.  Even if its just a temporary fix.  There are two sets of numbers on the house.  There is a set on the front door, which can be read easily from the road, except that with this weather, I've been leaving the front door open for ventilation.  With the door open, the numbers cannot be seen.  There is a second set of numbers under the front door light, but they are all sunfaded.  They cannot be read from the road.  That needs to be fixed.


The Cart Before the Horse (House)

I just got back from the bank -- got a certified check to cover my share of the closing costs.  I have a meeting at the title company at 6:00pm tonight.  We are closing, finally.


Moving During the Storm

I could call it part of the ongoing string of not-so-good luck that we tried to move furniture and so on during the remnants of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Katrina -- but in good consceince, I cannot call bad luck when I see the devastation in New Orleans.  I am reminded of a conversation that MJ and I had with JDG earlier this summer in Put-In-Bay about how New Orleans was just waiting to be destroyed by a direct hit from a hurricane.  The amazing thing is, this was not even a direct hit.  And if it were, things would be a lot worse -- if that can be imagined.  This destruction that did occur is on par with the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and may be even worse.  The headlines scream that thousands are feared dead. 

So a little rain is no big deal, in comparison.  I will not complain further.

Casualties from the move:

  • One Darth Vader photomosaic framed poster: the glass shattered.
  • My right wrist: I was attempting to open the window to the TV room to remove the AC.  The window was stuck and I started hitting it.  I put my wrist right through the glass.  The cuts weren't too bad -- I decided I didn't need stitches.  The medicine cabinet having been packed already, I stuck a folded up paper towel on my wrist and taped it tightly with packing tape.  And reminded myself that I am NOT living at the Louisiana Superdome.
  • The wardrobes: MJ and I bought wardrobes from Ikea last Fall.  I bought a HUGE one -- it held all my suits and sweaters.  Hers was a little smaller.  We got them to the apartment and MJ assembled them upstairs.  It never occurred to us that, once assembled, they would never make it down the stairwell.  There was no time to disassemble it -- and I think if we had tried to, it wouldn't have reassembled and had the same integrity.  So mine is, and will be for the rest of its existence, a permanent resident of the apartment on Eddington.  MJ's did make it out the apartment, but again, it was too large to make it up the steps of the house!  So right now it is sitting in the living room -- where we may convert it into another entertainment center.  Unless we can figure out a way to hoist it onto the roof of the screen porch.

The other thing I learned from this move: the beauty of maid service!  MJ found a maid service to clean the apartment yesterday -- because we knew we would have the time or motivation to do it ourselves given we had to hand over the keys last night.  I'll tell you what -- that place has NEVER looked better.  It is far cleaner now than the day they handed me the keys.  I'm giving them a wardrobe!  I did break a window. 

After doing the final walkthru of the apartment last night, I went outside to find THREE Cleveland Hieghts police cars -- all with their lights on -- they were taking statements about something that happened just down the street.  It looked like someone was being taken into custody.  After all the crap we've put up with this summer, I can't say I'm surprised -- and it made me feel that much better about moving on.