Friday, December 30, 2005

Beefy!

I went to Vienna Distributing on Carnegie on my way home from work last night.  It is open only till 6pm during the week, but I left early enough yesterday to make it in before closing.  I had never been there, but heard raves about it from a co-worker.

Apparently, if you are a fan of the Vienna Beef hot dog from Chicago, this is your place.  You can buy them by the pound, or by the 10 pound package, and various sizes in between -- as well as an assortment of polish sausage, kielbasa, Hebrew National products, and more.  Much more. Much, much more...

When I walked in, the thing that hit me that I wasn't expecting was the smell of hot corned beef.  I love that smell.  And while I waited in line, I saw lots of corned beef being sliced.  At $8.95 a pound, I thought it might be a little steep, but it smelled and looked so good.

So I got to the front of the line, and I ordered a pound of Vienna franks, and (why not) a pound of corned beef.  The woman asked me if I'd like a little corned beef to sample right there.  Well, how could I not?  Ohhhh it was delicious, it melted in my mouth. 

I went home and dumped the whole warm and juicy pound of sliced corned beef on a plate.  It needed no mustard, no cheese, no thousand island dressing, no rye bread.  Just me, the plate of corned beef, and a fork.  And I ate the whole thing.  Delicious! 

And it destroyed me for the evening.  I was just too full of juicy corned beef goodness to be worth a damn for anything else.   I'll be back.  But no more than a half pound next time! 

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Things I Did NOT Get for Christmas

10. A pony.

9.  My two front teeth.

8.  Anything "Star Wars."

7.  Cheetos.

6.  The Brooklyn Bridge.

5.  Chlamydia.

4.  A ninja sword.

3.  Billy Bob Singing Bass, thankfully.

2.  A case of cereal.  Wait, actually we DID get that!

1. A daily, tear-off calendar for my desk.  For 2005 I had "Get Fuzzy."  Last year I had "George Carlin."  For 2006 -- nothing.  I'll be hitting the sales!

DARKNESS

i'm scared of swimming in the sea
dark shapes moving under me
every fear i swallow makes me small
inconsequential things occur
alarms are triggered
memories stir
it's not the way it has to be


i'm afraid of what i do not know
i hate being undermined
i'm afraid i can be devil man
and i'm scared to be divine
don't mess with me my fuse is short
beneath this skin these fragments caught

when i allow it to be
there's no control over me
i have my fears
but they do not have me

walking through the undergrowth, to the house in the woods
the deeper I go, the darker it gets
i peer through the window
knock at the door
and the monster i was
so afraid of
lies curled up on the floor
is curled up on the floor just like a baby boy
i cry until i laugh


i'm afraid of being mothered
with my balls shut in the pen
i'm afraid of loving women
and i'm scared of loving men
flashbacks coming in every night
don't tell me everything's alright

when I allow it to be
it has no control over me
i own my fear
so it doesn't own me

walking through the undergrowth, to the house in the woods
the deeper i go, the darker it gets
i peer through the window
knock at the door
and the monster i was
so afraid of
lies curled up on the floor
is curled up on the floor just like a baby boy
i cry until i laugh

-- Peter Gabriel

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

O Tannenbaum

Now that Christmas is more or less behind us, but still in our thoughts, I have a question and seek your input.

Consider the Christmas Tree.

The act of cutting down a tree and decorating it originated in pre-Christian Germany.  While the Christian tradition has borrowed it, this does not change its pagan origins.

So, with that in mind, is the display of a decorated tree necessarily a Christian act?  I don't doubt that the display of a nativity scene is.   But, if you are a non-believer in Christ, is the act of decorating a tree in your living room around this time of year bizarre or inappropriate?   I think there are some who would want to reserve all of the good tidings of the holiday season for those who are religious, and of the Christian faith in particular. 

I think there is nothing inconsistent with being a non-believer (in the divinity of Jesus, or in God altogether) and still decorating a tree and putting some gifts under it.  There is more to this time of year than the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  The winter solstice was celebrated long before Christ.  And it seems like the efforts by some Christians is to make the holiday exclusive to them -- that if you don't believe, then you don't have any business celebrating.  I give them credit for the pressure play -- but I call it as just that.   

The New "Liberals"

Fun little "exchange" over at Buckeye Politics .  Enjoy.
 
If only Barry Goldwater were here. 

D'oh!-minion

I spoke back too soon.  No sooner did I do a little talkback about Dominion's gas bill ... my gas bill for last month arrived. 
 
My first winter in the new house.  My first $377 gas bill.  And we don't even run the heat that high. 
 
Judging by the icicles on the roof, there is a lot of heat escaping out the top.  We have older windows.  And the kitchen is drafty. 
 
Living in the basement is sounding like a good idea right now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

No Tuesday Talkback

Yesterday I read Monday Moaning in The Plain Dealer. Would the holidays change anything? Perhaps it did, because this was the most uninspiring set of moans yet since I started Tuesday Talkback. I started moaning about it to MJ.

Me: I don't know if I can do Tuesday Talkback this week. These are pathetic! Take a look at this first one...

With all the gas stations making money, I was out of luck when my tires needed air. I went to 20 stations to find an air hose that worked. After putting air in one tire, the hose broke, and the attendant says 'tough.' " - Lyndhurst

MJ: I saw that one. Why don't you just say, since you are so full of hot air, why don't you blow up the tire yourself?

Me: Yeah, I guess I could say that. I don't know. I've had a slow leak in a tire before...

MJ: Don't tell me you are starting to feel sorry for these people. You are getting soft.

Me: I am not getting soft! It is just that the material is so bad this week. Look at this one...

"I'm calling regarding the G lights. They have wicks that are made out of string. They really do not hold up. And the wax, it looks like oil. They are pathetic. I sure wouldn't buy them again. I think they're a hazard." - North Olmsted

Me: I don't even know what a G light is!

MJ: Me neither. Did you look on the internet?

Me: Yeah, I googled "G light". I didn't come up with anything helpful. I don't even know what this person is talking about. And then this one is just incoherent...

"I moan that hearing workers who don't say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to a deaf person at work are very disrespectful. She was looking for them, realized that they were gone for the next two weeks. They did say to others. Hey, hearing people if you can't communicate with her, just write it down. She would appreciate no matter how hard you try. Deaf people do have feelings. And celebrate many ways with family and friends like you do." - Concord Township

MJ: Hmmmm, I see.

Me: Yeah, I could make fun of this person for being incoherent. Or I could make fun of deaf people. But I don't want to make fun of deaf people. That's just mean.

MJ: [shrugs] yeah.

Me: I could try to make something out of that last line, that "they celebrate many ways with family and friends like you do." You know, hopefully the deaf don't go and ________. But again, that is making fun of the deaf. It is one thing to make fun of the person that is phoning in, but making fun of the deaf, I have to draw the line. I cannot come up with anything funny enough to justify the meanness.

MJ: Maybe you could just write this week that in celebration of the holiday spirit, no Tuesday Talkback this week.

Me: I could. But then did you see these two about the deer?

"All they have to do is ship the deer to Maine in boxcars. They need them desperately up there because of the terrain. All they ever seem to do is kill off the animals." - Lakewood

"My complaint is to Solon. Now you're charging people for feeding deer by sending them to jail or fining them. It's our job as human beings to take care of the beautiful wildlife. Blame the builders for destroying all our woods and lands, so the animals have no place to go. Shame on Solon." - Medina

Me: What, they need more deer in Maine because of the terrain? The terrain? Really! The Terrain in Maine is a little like the Rain in Spain... maybe there is a rhyme gag in there. Not to mention the idea of catching the deer, loading them in boxcars, and then setting them free in Maine. Maine??? Why Maine? Oh yeah, the terrain.

MJ: And who is going to pay for that? Has this person ever hit a deer before with her car? I bet that would change her mind.

Me: And then this other idiot, "it's our job as human beings to take care of the beautiful wildlife." No! What, the deer are our pets now? And what about the ugly wildlife? Skunks, rats and roaches, we can still kill them, right?

MJ: Why don't you just write that this week the moans were too pathetic to be worth talking back to?

Me: I would, but I want to talk back to this last one...

"It's disgusting that Dominion is advertising how high the bills are going to be in January. Do you know how many people are having a hard time trying to pay the normal bill? How are they going to pay these bills?" - Parma

Me: I haven't seen these ads, but what's this guy want? To take the money they spent on ads to lower everyone's gas bill? That wouldn't even be a drop in the bucket. And if you think about it, aren't they advising us to use less of their product due to high gas prices? Wow, a company urging us to use less of its product! Yes, my gas bill makes me ill too -- but you blame it on the ads? Or think that the ads are somehow there to taunt us?

MJ: Weak.

Me: You're right. This is all weak. It is settled. No Talkback this week.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Cards

I am starting to get Christmas cards in the mail.  It is so wonderful and thoughtful to be remembered.  But I am not getting cards out this year.  I usually send some cards out, but this year I am not. 

I was thinking about sending out a kind of holiday email.  In fact, I drafted one.  I just haven't sent it.  It seems a little cheesy.  I didn't want it to turn into a holiday letter.  And it pretty much has not, since it is not that long, even by normal standards (let alone mine.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Chairman Chris Redfern

Congratulations to Chris Redfern, the new chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party .

I first met Chris Redfern 15 years ago at BGSU.  He was a grad student then, and I had just transferred in as a sophomore.  He was charismatic and well spoken, and very likeable.  I knew then that this guy would go places.  And he has.  Yesterday evening in a rough-and-tumble, tumultous type of meeting that Democrats are all-too-well known for, Redfern was elected state party chairman.

He has his work cut out for him.  The last several Democratic chairmen presided over a terrible electoral slump.  Ohio has only one Democrat holding statewide office, Alice Robie Resnick on the Ohio Supreme Court.  And the Ohio GOP has had a lock on the governorship for the last 15 years or so, between Taft and Voinovich, and the other statewide executive and federal offices as well.   That is the result, as much as anything, of the superb work of Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett, a fantastic man who has my respect both as a man, and as his party's chairman.  But finally, with Redfern, I am confident that Chairman Bennett has a worthy Democratic counterpart.

On one hand, with Chris at the helm, this party has nowhere to go but up (short of losing the seat on the Ohio Supreme Court.)  Ohio has been a single party state for too long, and the scandal and complacency of the GOP officeholders show it.  Jim Petro's values ad only turned me off, and I have never liked Ken Blackwell.  I've long liked and supported Betty Montgomery, but where is she these days? 

With Redfern in place, Ted Strickland has the chairman he wants while he runs for governor.  Unlike the candidacies of Hagan, Fisher and Burch, it is beginning to feel like Ohio could see a real race for governor.  And that should be good for this state, regardless of who ultimately wins. 

Tuesday Talkback

More talking back to the knee-biters who phone into Monday Moaning -- I rib them for your pleasure and mine.

"Why is it that highly educated people write ads and say 'free gift'? If it's free, it is a gift, period." - Lorain

I think you've made a fundamental error in assuming that highly educated people write such ads. Some ads are very clever, and are likely the product of highly educated people. No ad that screams "free gift" is such an ad. Also, do not forget the maxim, "There is no free lunch." I assure you, despite its seeming redundancy, there is no "free gift" either.

"They should put those red light cameras in school zones. You would probably pay for them in six months." - Garfield Heights

Why do people think that the red light cameras will create that much revenue? Once they are in, people will get wise and either slow down, come to a complete stop, or find a new route. Did I mention that Superior from downtown to the Heights has NO RED LIGHT CAMERAS? The other night I made it from East 12th to East 105th without having to stop!

"I get very annoyed when I see and hear of children being referred to as 'kids.' I am not a goat. I gave birth to children. And I'm sure the other children I see around the neighborhoods do not have a goat for a mother either." - Maple Heights

OK, it is clear to me that what you are is not a goat, so we won't call your offspring kids anymore. We will call them puppies instead.

"I work for a local delivery company and have to walk up driveways. Some people do not clear or get the ice off their driveway. I slip and fall and hurt myself and I can't do anything about that. And people wonder why their packages are damaged." - Parma Heights

Now, I am wondering -- do the packages get damaged because you land on them when you slip and fall? Or do you beat on the packages out of frustration? Look, if the driveway is not passable, why are you risking your neck? That’s stupid. And you have no one to blame but yourself for taking unnecessary risks. I am sure your employer doesn’t want you hurting your fool self within the course of your employment.

"The morning weather forecasters who refuse to say 'precipitation' and say 'precip.' They are neither hip nor cool. They are plain lazy and they should all be fired." -Cleveland

It seems as if morning weather forecasters can do nothing right. Since you cannot actually blame them for the weather, you blame them for how they report it. I am glad I am not married to you, and I am very glad I am not your puppy.

"If service stations are concerned about drive-offs, they could reduce the problem if they would just come out and pump our gas." - Streetsboro

They have reduced the problem by requiring people to pay first. I think you are just lazy. Or perhaps you are from New Jersey, and are spoiled by their law requiring that the gas stations pump the gas for you. As someone who had a job pumping gas in college, I'd agree that no one ever drove off from the full service pump. Plus I’d’ve caught that Buick on foot before it left the parking lot. But the extra 30 cents a gallon we charged also prevented most people from even pulling up to that pump.

"Merry Christmas to the ACLU (Anti-Christian Liberties Union)." - Brooklyn

Now now, you've got it all wrong. Don't you know it is the American Commie Lovers Union? I kid the ACLU, God bless them. And their little dogs, too!

"When will Parma police enforce the no parking ban during the nighttime hours? - Parma

When? As soon as they get their overtime hours back. Ow, did I just touch on a sore spot, or what?

"I can't believe the White House has the nerve to publicize how many pounds of ham, turkey, lamb, beef, etc. that they will be serving for Christmas, while people are starving and do not even have homes." - Rocky River

Well, I can't believe the White House has the nerve to listen in on people's phone calls without a court order, while some people don't even have telephones!

"To all the people who walk in the street after it snows. If you have to walk, recall that it is Cleveland and it is winter. Buy a pair of boots. You're much safer on the sidewalk than in the icy street with cars and SUVs. If you slip and fall on the sidewalk, you won't injure yourself as badly as if I run you over with my 4-by-4 because you're out in the middle of the street." - Lakewood

I was all ready to agree with this guy until he brought up his 4-by-4. You know what? Your vehicle isn't even made for the road. So, let's make a deal. All pedestrians stay on the sidewalks where they belong, and you and your 4-by-4 stay in rural un-paved areas where you belong.

"Where do they get the people who plow the snow at all the mall parking lots? They shove piles of snow into the handicapped areas." - Maple Heights

I think they get them from Lakewood -- where at least one 4-by-4 driver takes pleasure in watching people slip and fall, that son of a puppy’s mom!

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Monday, December 19, 2005

If you go carryin' pictures of Chairman Mao, federal agents will be visiting you now.

The Standard Times in Massachusetts reports the following story of a university student who reportedly received a visit from two agents of the Department of Homeland Security. 

What did the lad do?  Apparently, he ordered a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's "Little Red Book" through UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.  The book is supposedly on a "watch list."  By ordering it, he gets a visit. 

The story could be stronger.  The student remains anonymous.  His professors report what they say he told them about the visit from the federal agents. 

And I wouldn't agree with his professor's comment that "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless."  Has he forgetten The Cultural Revolution?  But the larger point remains that there are legitimate educational reasons for reading and studying Mao, as surely as there is for reading Karl Marx.  Or John Locke or Adam Smith, for that matter.  I have read Mao myself, and Marx and Engles, Lenin, and Trotsky.  Reading communist literature as a first source gave me grounds for thinking critically about it and rejecting it.

The lesson to be learned -- beside the ongoing encroachment on our freedom -- is that some transactions are better done anonymously and in cash.  Do not check out subversive literature with your library card.  Pay cash for it at your local revolutionary bookstore.  Wear an overcoat and a hat, and don't park right in front of it. 

Yet another reason why I would never want to see paper money disappear. 

Sunday, December 18, 2005

BROWNS WIN THEIR FIVE, COLTS LOSE THEIR FIRST

At the beginning of this season, I predicted that the Browns would win five games. Tonight, the Browns not only won their fifth, but Charlie Frye won his first game as a starter. The Raiders are a woeful team, and the Browns took advantage. Now, I'd like to see the Browns win one or even two more. WHY NOT? The Browns host the Steelers on Christmas Eve. And why not play to knock the Steelers out of the playoff hunt? For all those Steelers fans who claim that there is no rivalry anymore, how about the Browns deliver them a death blow to their playoff hopes? THAT is the sort of stuff that rivalries are made of. And if we can walk away from this season improved to 6-10 (actually, let's say 7-9, cause they oughta beat Balmer), AND we ruin the Steelers' chances for a playoff berth -- I'd consider that a decent improvement over last year. Heck, with five wins, the Browns will finish better than their 4-12 record from the 2004 campaign. But I want us to knock out the Steelers. They are hobbled, and ripe for the fall. Let the fall happen on the icy shore of Lake Erie.

The Colts fell for the first time this season, thanks to Marty-ball. San Diego is the best team that might not make it to the post season. Today they can walk tall. I was really pulling for Indy to have the undefeated season. But what it comes down to once again, is what happens when a team that is fighting to get into the playoffs plays a team that has already clinched, not only a berth, but everything. And down the Colts go. And the mythical champagne corks are popping by that Dolphins team of old.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Santos--?????

In the alternate world of The West Wing -- we are in the midst of a presidential campaign between California Republican Arnold Vinick and Texas Democrat Matthew Santos. Santos (or the show's writers, more accurately) chose Leo McGarry for the Vice Presidential slot on the Democratic ticket. On the show, Leo is a recovering alcoholic and President Bartlett's former Chief of Staff, who resigned as chief of staff after suffering a heart attack at Camp David.

Well, here is where real life necessarily crosses over into fiction. John Spencer, who plays Leo McGarry, died of a heart attack at the tender age of 58. Sad!

So, here is a curve ball the writers weren't expecting. Now they have to deal with the unexpected death of a VP candidate in the midst of a presidential campaign, and Santos will have to replace him with ... who? And on such short notice! My initial suggestion is Pennsylvania's Governor Baker (played by Ed O'Neill -- and better known to the world as TV's Al Bundy.)

The NBC West Wing site already acknowledges and mourns John Spencer's passing.

Rush on Rockline Download 12/14/05

Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee were on Rockline last Wednesday in support of the R30 DVD. Rockline is not available in all radio markets. If you missed it but want to hear it, you can download it HERE. (The songs have been edited out--as if you've never heard them! This is just the call-ins.)

Some highlights: Besides talking about the new DVD, they are getting ready to begin writing a new album after the new year with a probable release in late 2006, and looking to kick off a new tour in April '07. Explanations about the pirates and Jerry Stiller. For the next tour, Alex would like to play more from Power Windows, Geddy from Hold Your Fire. Alex likes Porcupine Tree.

Thanks to Rushchic for hosting the download!

Friday, December 16, 2005

E-Card Greetings!

What a great idea THIS is!

Except you know it is going to be abused, especially when you can send these anonymously.

Dear One Night Stand,

Remember me?  Of course you don't, you never return my calls.

Well, guess what?  I think I may have given you something that you will always remember me by!

Toodles!

Anonymous

Fujifilm Threesome

I went to the store yesterday and purchased a videotape.

As you can see, the packaging features three very happy people. It vaguely reminds me of the hospital bus ads that feature not just one baby, but babies of every color. Here, the marketing department at Fujifilm has narrowed it down to three people. Two white, one black. Two female, one male. All very happy.

They appear to be watching something. The man has the remote, so he is in charge here. They are all seated rather closely. But interestingly, the white woman is submissively seated on the floor, in front of the white man, who dominates above her. Compare with the black woman, who is seated next to the white man, as equals. It probably wouldn't be P.C. to do it the other way around. If anything, the black woman is most dominant, because her head is highest in this picture. Either way, they are all seated rather closely. The man is touching the shoulder of the woman in front of him, and his other arm appears to pressed up against the other woman. Both woman are gazing ahead, so maybe they aren't aware that he is touching them both at the same time.

I wonder what their story is supposed to be? Why are these three so happy? What do you suppose they are watching?

It is possible they are watching Arrested Development. That is why I bought this tape, so someone could make a copy of it for me from last Monday. I've been known to smile like that when watching that show.

But I think they are watching a porno, featuring an interracial threeway. Even the way the man is holding the remote suggests that he is holding something else. What I can't tell is which woman the man is supposed to be with initially, and who is being enticed to join in? I think the couple seated on the same level could be together, and the man is trying to entice the woman below him by touching her shoulder and showing her the remote in a suggestive way. Or maybe it is the other way around, and the woman seated on the couch next to the man is pressing into him, expressing her interest.

Despite how happy they are, I suggest that their chances of pulling off the threeway are diminished by the fact that it appears that the man is in charge. Despite his eagerness, if he really wants this to happen, he cannot take the lead on it. The ladies have to do it.

By now I am sure you are thinking what I am thinking: Should have bought the TDK tape instead.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

McCain Brings Bush Around on Torture?

I really hope that McCain has pulled this off. 

Those Darn Campbell Cameras!

The morning commute was especially slushy, even down Chester.  People were driving slowly, and no surprise, sometimes people will make a judgment as they approach a yellow light:

Can I safely stop in time?  Even if I stop, will the car behind me stop in time? 

I was at one of the intersections on Chester that has the red-light cameras (which I have dubbed "Campbell Cameras" -- other mayors get parks named after them, this is what Jane gets.) Anyway, I went through a green light just as it turned yellow.  The car behind me, a few car lengths back, went through the light -- as did the car tailgating it.  It was probably red when they went through because flashbulbs started going off. 

It was the first time I saw the Campbell Cameras in action.  I bet the guy in the first car didn't stop because the other guy would have rearended him if he had tried.  For that, they will both be receiving "holiday greetings" in the mail from the city. 

I am hoping that the car in front doesn't get ticketed because the other guy was tailgating him so closely that it might have blocked the license plate from the view of the camera.  Don't know.  But there were two flashes, so I am assuming two pictures.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

...and what about YOU?

What do YOU want for Christmas?

all grown up for the holidays

When I was a kid, I'd ask for ridiculous Christmas presents, and as a fall back I'd say, "nevermind, a sweater would be fine."

But when I said that back then, I really didn't want sweaters for Christmas.  I really wanted whatever ridiculous gift I asked for.

So, when my family asks me now what I want for Christmas, I really have nothing to tell them now.  I have a list of big ticket items I'd like someday, but I don't want anyone to buy them for me for Christmas.  So really, when I say now, "a sweater would be fine" -- I assure you it would be!  XXL.  Black or dark.  Pullover.  Crew or V-neck.   Cotton, wool, whatever!  I trust your judgment.  But get a gift receipt anyway.  Some things just aren't flattering -- like horizontal stripes. 

simple pleasures

"Maybe you should try to come up with one positive comment for every negative one you post on the blog. After having read all of your posts in the last few days - I think that you owe the blogging community about 50 positive comments!"  -- James

Hmmm. 

I had tacos for lunch today.  Only $2.99 for three.  They were tasty.  Yay, tacos!

Today I am wearing a purple tie.  I love purple.  I love purple ties.  This one is purple and black striped.  I am wearing it with a black suit.  Yay, purple ties!

I am enjoying a cold glass of water from the water cooler.  How did we ever drink water before it came in a bottle?  Drinking out of the faucet at home is one thing.  But drinking out of the faucet at the office always seems suspect.  Yay for the water cooler!

Three down, 47 to go.


And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?

I'm just not feeling it this year.  I haven't hung up anything.  Until yesterday, I hadn't bought anything.  I haven't sent out cards, and there is a good chance I won't get to that this year -- which is bad because I moved, and it would be a good way to get my new address out to anyone who doesn't have it yet. 

MJ and I have all these places to go to, and sometimes that would be fun, but this time it just seems arduous.  It won't be so bad as long as the weather cooperates.  But still.

Since my family does its celebrating on Christmas Eve, it is only 10 days away.  No one on my list is complete.  List, heck, I haven't even made a list.  I don't have a plan.  Some years I've gotten a fair portion of my shopping done on Black Friday.  I didn't do that this year, which is ok.  But I haven't taken a day yet to really get out there.  Probably this Saturday.

For me, Christmas is about getting together with family, exchanging a few little gifts, having some nice food and drink, and enjoying everyone's company.  I've been trying to downplay the gift angle.  This is not a contest.  And everyone should be spending time together, not money on each other.  I suspect I won't really feel the spirit of this until some time next week.

War on Drugs RUINS Nyquil

I have complained here before about how certain stores have put behind the pharmacy counter the cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine. All the really effective cold medicines contain this decongestant. And pseudoephedrine is the drug used to make meth.

Vicks, the manufacturer of Nyquil, doesn't want its product only available behind the counter. So it has taken pseudoephedrine out of its famous nighttime cold elixir.

The problem? Apparently the new Nyquil doesn't have ANY decongestant in it AT ALL. Check out the FAQs on the Vicks website:

What's the difference between the old and new versions of NyQuil? The old version of NyQuil contained the nasal decongestant pseudoephedrine. The new version does not contain a nasal decongestant.

Will the new version of NyQuil work as well as the old version? The new version of NyQuil does not contain a nasal decongestant. NyQuil still will relieve headache, fever, sore throat, and coughing associated with a cold or flu.

In other words, Nyquil will no longer relieve congestion. Congested? Too bad. And Nyquil is what I turned to whenever I was congested and couldn't sleep. I've used it for years. This is terrible. I am dreading my next cold already.

I am angry at Vicks for changing the formula, but I can't blame them for wanting to get their product back on the shelf. Except now the product will be crap. So much for wanting to sell a quality product that works.

The real problem is this stupid War on Drugs this country has had since the Reagan years. As pseudoephedrine demonstrates, people are going to look for ways to get high. If you could get high from drinking too much milk, people would do that. And what would they do then, put milk behind the counter?

So, now we have this perfectly useful product changed into something considerably less useful, because politicians and corporations are more interested in making life difficult for the few people who make meth, making all of us who catch colds miserable. When I sit up late at night sick and miserable and unable to sleep, I will curse them all.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

maple not so goodness

Sometimes at work I just need to get up and exercise my legs.  I hate sitting at a desk all day.  There are lots of days when I am running around the office or I'm on the road, but this day was just one at the desk. 

It doesn't seem like we're getting as many holiday snack trays as we did last year, and I went in search of sugar.  Nothing in the coffee room.  So I went downstairs to the card shop where they sell chocolates.  I spent $2.09 on four pieces of dark chocolate New England maple nut candies.  I love maple.  These weren't that good.  Not worth the money, or the calories.  Bah.

* * *

I made soup the over the weekend.  MJ and I ate it for dinner last night.  Ate it for lunch this afternoon.  And there is plenty of soup left to eat.  It felt like soup weather.  I don't know how to make anything but a large pot of soup.  I didn't add enough salt, but that's ok.  It is easier to salt the soup in the bowl than to suffer through soup that is too salty.  I just made plain old chicken noodle.  I let the broth cool down so I could skim the fat, and I used yolk-free egg noodles to keep the fat down.  Besides the chicken, I used an onion, celery, and bay leaf to make the broth.  It turned out pretty good, if I may say so.  But I have a lot of soup left. 

* * *

I am so bummed, my TiVo failed to record Arrested Development last night.  Did anyone record it?  It ruined my night, coming home I wanted to eat a bowl of soup and watch AD.  I watched part of Anchorman, the Legend of Ron Burgundy instead. 

* * *

Why do I feel so blah?

Tuesday Talkback

Another edition of talking back to Monday Moaning.

"I can't believe these people who do not scrape the snow off their car windows and, especially, their front headlights. Come on folks. Let's get with it." - Mentor

For me, it is the ones that don't scrape of their license plates. If I get run over, I want to at least know who hit me.

"Why do they call them suicide bombers when they are murderers? And by calling them suicide bombers, they are tying to give them a little bit of dignity and I don't think they deserve it. Their main objective is to kill others - they are homicide bombers." - Parma Heights

I am not sure what dignity you think we are giving these people when we accurately describe them as suicide bombers. What makes someone a suicide bomber is that they die with the bomb. Other bombers don't do that. If someone makes a bomb that kills people, but they don't die in the explosion, are they not "homicide bombers" as well? And while we are on the subject of calling something what it is not, what "Heights" do you have in "Parma Heights" anyway? The doublewides sit on two levels of cinder blocks instead of one? You are surrounded by Parma on three sides, so what do you know about dignity? Oh, I kid Parma Heights. I am just jealous because they have a Mr. Chicken right there off of Chevrolet Boulevard.

"Why do stores in shopping malls feel they have to keep the heat at 100 degrees? It's bad enough that we have to carry packages and our winter coat. You think they could cool it off a little." - Lakewood

What store has the heat at 100 degrees? C'mon! Don't you have a houseboy carry your packages for you? I think you are having hot flashes. That would explain a lot.

"Why do all forecasters have to say 'lake effect' snow? I understand we have the lake, but in about a 40-second weather forecast on Channel 5, they said the words 'lake effect' eight times while predicting the weather." - Concord Township

Since you live in the snowbelt, one would think you might care about what kind of snow you are getting hit with. I would think you'd understand that it does make a difference. I am glad you are clear about the part that there is a lake of some sort nearby. They probably repeat the phrase "lake effect" a lot so someone with your level of uptake doesn't miss it. Words mean things, and if they use the words "lake effect" -- that means something. They could call it sunshine, but then sunshine is exactly what they would be blowing up your ass.

"The last time I checked most radios have on and off buttons and a tuner. If you don't want to hear Christmas carols, use one." - Middleburg Heights

Calling in your own moan to last week's moan! This is just like the people who write letters to the editor in response to previous letters to the editor. I'd mock you, but then I'd have to take a moment of self-analysis about exactly what it is I'm doing here.

"Why do the media and government have to tell other countries what, when, how, etc. when it comes to fighting terrorism? There was a saying during World War II - 'loose lips sink ships'." - Lakewood

"Loose lips sink ships" had to do with the soldiers themselves revealing information on a personal level -- not the information the government releases to its own people about how the war effort is progressing. They had another saying during World War II: "Do with less so they'll have enough." And what consumption have you curtailed to make sure our troops have what they need? Right.

"How much attention was paid Dec. 8 to John Lennon and how little attention was paid to Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7? Very sad." - Lakewood

The 25th anniversary of anything is a milestone anniversary. So Lennon got his due this year. Instant Karma! I think it is sad that Richard Pryor and Eugene McCarthy died on the same day. Because I just don't see those two getting into a shoutdown outside the pearly gates. Could you really imagine Pryor calling McCarthy a honky? Not me.

"Why can't the streets of Cleveland get cleared of snow so we can go to work on Sunday?" - Cleveland

What are you, a Sunday bike messenger? How clear do the streets need to be for you to stop whining? It is December in Cleveland. There is lake nearby that you may be aware of. On the other hand, there is still time to Blame Jane. Blame Jane! While you still can. Then start practicing the new mantra: Frank's Fault! No, I kid the new mayor. For now.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Oh, to be burdened with THIS decision...

The Indianapolis Colts have clinched not only a playoff berth, but also the bye, and home field advantage.  In other words, there is nothing left to play for until the playoffs, except for one teensy thing:  a shot at a perfect record.  Despite that, there is talk that Coach Tony Dungy may sit his starters.  Winning the Super Bowl is the goal, not the undefeated season.

I see Coach Dungy's decision as a tough one.  If you play your starters and someone gets hurt, you're a goat.  But if you sit your starters, you risk breaking up the rhythm of the team.  Say you sit Manning and Harrison and James, then you screw up the chemistry and they struggle and lose in the playoffs.  Then you're still a goat. 

I think you do it halfway -- at least.  You start everyone, you give them a break after the half.  The Colts might win anyway, even if the starters each only play half a game.

Me?  I'd go for the record.  Someone wins the Super Bowl every year, without fail.  But the perfect season has not been done since the Miami Dolphins did it over 30 years ago. And no team has ever done it with a 16 game schedule.

Aim high, Tony Dungy! 

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Mr & Mrs Bebout's Rockin' Baby Boy

Mr. Bebout said:

By the way, if you (whoever you are) get some ideas about going crazy and photo shopping Mr. Bebout the Younger into your sick and depraved life, Think again.

Shouldn't have said anything, Dave.

Naturally, Kristen got right on it, and posted some to her blog.

And then these showed up ...


I am not sure which of the last two is more disturbing.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Calendar Cycle

My grandfather used to hang up old calendars.  Packrat that he was, he knew that calendars repeat.  Not accounting for holidays that float due to moon phases, there are only 14 different calendars. 

Next year, 2006 -- is the same calendar as 1995, and 1989 before that.  And it will repeat again in 2017. 

The 2005 calendar -- you can throw it in a drawer and pull it out again in 2011.  Then you can be all nostaligic about your 2005 Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter calendar, and everyone else can make fun of you for being an old coot who saves everything.

Who Dey?

Of course I want my Browns to upset the Bengals this Sunday.  I don't think it will happen.  And even though the Bengals are a division rival, I cannot begrudge them their success.  The Bengals have been so bad for so long that to see them turned around by Marvin Lewis, Carson Palmer and the Johnsons, I can't hate them for that, not this year anyway.

For as bad as the Browns have been -- the Browns have been to the playoffs twice since the last time the Bengals went -- and the Browns didn't even field a team for three of those seasons. 

So, I hope the Browns play their best game and find a way to win on Sunday.  After that -- I am looking for a Colts-Bengals matchup in the playoffs -- that might be a better game than the Super Bowl.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

It was 25 years ago today...

...that John Lennon was murdered outside his apartment in Manhattan. With him died any hope for a Beatles reunion. With him died a quintessential voice -- an established, anti-establishment figure. With him died the music. With him died a father, a husband.

But the myth and the legend has only grown. Lennon was a figure that Nixon, and apparently others, wanted out of the way. A search of the internet will yield all sorts of conspiracies more elaborate than the deranged fandom of Mark David Chapman, with gun in one hand and "A Catcher in the Rye" in the other. The lone gunman remains the simpler, more likely story.

I've long been a fan of John Lennon. It started as a child, I think when I heard the news of this death -- who was this man that everyone was so sad to have lost? But as I grow older, I grown away from some of his lyrics. The idyllic, socialist vision of "Imagine" is one that not only does not seem attainable, but doesn't appeal to me anyway. "Imagine all the people sharing all the world" doesn't do it for me anymore. I want mine! But since he was worth over $250 million at the time of his death, I question whether he really would have been first in line to get his wealth redistributed. So, I'll cut him a break that he had it both ways. We can sit around the campfire and sing Imagine, and then continue fighting to amass our own personal wealth. If I had a flat at the Dakota overlooking Central Park West and then wished everyone could live that way, what would be wrong with that?

We missed out on the stunts Lennon would have pulled had he lived to see the Reagan presidency. We missed out on any scandal of him sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom during the Clinton presidency. And we missed out on him singing Happy Christmas (War Is Over) with the anti-war protesters today. Imagine that!

A working class hero is something to be...

Let's get ready to... nevermind

The rumble is off.  For now, anyway. 
 
It is not over, but I can reduce my pace now to merely "breakneck."
My life can return now to some sort of normality. 
 
Or "normalcy" if you prefer words made up by presidents.  Harding, in this case.  Funny how it has been in our national vocabulary ever since.
 
What is your favorite made-up word or bit of presidential wisdom?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Brrrr

Too cold for me today.  Remind me again, why do we live here?

I was looking in my fridge last night at the Nordica cottage cheese (from PA) and the bottles of Yuengling (from PA).  I finished off my Romolo's chocolate sponge candy (from Erie, PA), and noticed I still had in the freezer Smith's hot dogs (from PA.) 

I haven't lived in PA since I was an infant.  But with all of our family in Girard and Erie, we'd get back there all the time when I was growing up.  Because of that, Pennsylvania always felt like home.

Not that the weather is any better there.  Erie is halfway to Buffalo, and Erie gets weather that is mild, only when compared to Buffalo.

A considerable number of my friends today are also refugees from the Keystone State.  How did we get here?  And what would it take to go back? 

Of course, its just as damn cold.  And Erie County gets more snow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tuesday Talkback

Tis the season for more Talkback to Monday Moaning.

"Save the trees. Since many office workers are frequently away from their desks and unable to answer their phones, we should make fewer desks, therefore saving lumber and trees." - Mayfield Heights

If you were calling me at work to offer that inane observation, I would be away from my desk too.

"It's so irritating to go to shopping centers and malls and see the employees take all the close parking spots. That should not be allowed." - Cleveland

Yeah, and you know what really irritates me? When late at night the workers walk all the way back to the dark part of the parking lot where they get attacked by people lying in wait -- usually by people harboring a grudge about some petty grievance like having to walk an extra ten steps to buy their holiday trinkets.

"What happened to the separation of church and state? Heavily laden political ads with religious overtones are totally offensive and should be avoided." - North Ridgeville

Uhhhh, the political season is over and the "holiday" season is here. I know you are confused but I assure you -- the little guy in the green tights next to Santa is NOT Dennis Kucinich.

"Radio stations that insist on playing Christmas music an entire month before Christmas. Some of us like Christmas music, and we don't want to get sick of it." - Kirtland

Uh, change the channel? You know what, I kinda like Evanescence, but when they played nothing but "Going Under" for a whole month, well, I got sick of it. That's what radio stations do. That, and cower to the FCC.

"Why do they keep the lights on at Browns Stadium all night during the week? It just seems to me a tremendous waste of energy and, you know, those high-powered lights aren't cheap to run." - North Olmsted

As a season ticket holder since 1999, let me tell you: having the lights on during the game is apparently a waste as well.

"Why is it that people think you have lost your mind as soon as you reach 70? I don't think so." - South Euclid

Buick in the driveway, Viagra in the nightstand -- why wouldn't we assume your brain has gone soft too?

"Why do police in Seven Hills leave their cars running, with no one in them, sometimes for an hour at a time? It seems a terrible waste of city taxpayers' money." - Seven Hills

You know what is a waste? Watching an empty police car running for an hour. I wish I had your free time.

"I have always bought American cars and have nothing but problems. But my friends buy Japanese, and only have oil changes and one set of brakes at 115,00 miles. I will never buy another American car until they learn how to build a quality product." - Seven Hills

This again? Jeez. Here is what you do. Next time you want to buy a car, figure out what kind of car you need. Don't buy a roadster if you have kids to cart around, and don't buy a truck if you never have to haul anything. Next, do your research on the quality of the various models (foreign and domestic) that suit your driving needs. Write out a list of these cars, and do some research on the invoice price and any incentives the dealerships are being offered so you can negotiate your best deal. When you're finished, throw the list away and email my girlfriend, MJ. She sells BMWs, and daddy needs a new pair of shoes.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Same Old Story

Braylon Edwards, the Browns' number one draft pick for 2005, is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Another first round pick of the Browns bites the dust. 

Well, maybe next year, if Winslow and Edwards both come back healthy, and if Droughns is still in the backfield, and with Frye under center -- that would be quite a set of weapons on offense. 

But seriously, every first round pick of the Browns since 1999 either is a bust, or is injured, or is Jeff Faine. 

I like Jeff Faine.  How excited can you really get about a center?  Mostly, you get excited when the center messes up -- otherwise you tend to forget about him.  I wonder how he has escaped?

And William Green is still on the team, isn't he?  Haven't checked lately.  He is in the bust column, unless he ever proves otherwise.  Maybe Denver would like him too.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

FIRE! FIRE! (Settle down, Beavis.)

Last night MJ and I went to Home Depot to buy snow shovels and salt. The bargain priced salt HB told me about was long gone. I bought 100 pounds of regular rock salt, and 80 pounds of the cold weather stuff. As for snow shovels, they had the ones with the curved handle left -- I guess these are supposed to be more ergonomic? Maybe not, since there were a lot of those left. They also had this silly one "as seen on TV" with a funky handle that is supposed to be easier on your back -- but I found it really clumsy. They were completely out of snow pushers. We bought the one with the curved handle.

Then we went home and proceeded to empty out the garage. I didn't think there was that much stuff left in there, but I guess I was wrong -- it seemed like a huge amount when carrying down a slippery driveway and down the basement steps.
I put some hooks up in the garage to keep the bikes, golf clubs, etc off the floor.

The screen porch was completely snowed over -- which was bad because I left a couple of lamps out there, some cardboard boxes, and lawn furniture. The solid plastic chairs I am not worried about. Many of the cardboard boxes out there I was going to tear down and dispose of, so those are no real loss. The other stuff was brushed off then put in the basement near the dehumidifier and the floor drain.

Finally, the garage was clear for both cars. Marquise pulled her car in first, no problem. Her car is rear-wheel drive, but the snow tires seem to be helping a lot!

My car... I was parked only halfway up the driveway to begin with. For anyone who hasn't seen the house, it is on a hill, and the driveway goes up that hill with the garage in the back. I love the look of the house up on the hill away from the road -- even though it is still fairly close to the street, it makes it seem further away. But, even with snowplow service, they only come up to twice a day. I back the car up to the bottom of the drive, out into the street, and then gun it to go up the hill.

No luck. The car would only make it up to about the front stoop. I kept trying, and on the third try I slipped back into a snow drift and had to dig myself out. Grrrr. I then shovelled two tire paths up the hill. MJ and I spread salt all over it. We gave it a few minutes to work.

I went back to the garage and got some firewood. It was late, but I was really looking forward to making my first fire in the fireplace. I knew MJ was tired, but I want to try it out now.

I stacked the wood in the fireplace and got it ready to light. I went back outside and tried to get the car up the driveway again. Success!! I happily watched the garage door close with both cars inside. MJ remarked that she's glad I don't still have the Sebring, because that would have been a very tight fit.

We went back in, and I lit the fire. I had never built a fire by myself. I've seen others do it, I know there are superior ways of stacking the wood. I wasn't sure if I got it right, but you know what? It lit, and it burned. And I enjoyed it. I was going to sit by the fire and have a scotch, but as I was sitting there, I just didn't want the scotch enough to get up and pour it. I just watched the fire. Minerva and Kerrey watched it pensively too. Neither kitty had seen a fire, and they seemed entranced it. MJ curled up in a ball and quickly fell asleep on the couch. I eventually took the loveseat. It was too late to have started a fire, but we dozed downstairs next to the fireplace till the last embers were out.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Suicide Is Painless, It Brings on Many Changes...

Too funny!

Does This Purse Match My Explosive Belt?

(Thanks, Tom!)

WINTER WONDERLAND

Looking out my office window, I can barely see the club on the other side of the parking lot.  Lots of beautiful, fluffy snow.  It will be so much fun driving home tonight.  And I know MJ has it even worse, as she will be driving home from Mentor.

Over the last few weeks we've made some headway getting stuff out of the garage and into the house.  The bookshelves are all in, all the carpet we tore out is gone, and a number of boxes have made it into the house, many of which are unpacked now.  Everything else has to come in so we can park both cars in the garage now.  At this point, having a neat and empty garage means more than having, say, a neat and empty rec room in the basement. 

So, despite everything I have going on at work, I know how we'll be spending our Friday night.  And when we're done, maybe we'll try out the fireplace.

* * *

Rereading the last sentence, I realize that what I more or less just wrote is: we are going to take everything we own and bring it into the house, and then start a fire.  Famous last words.  We DO have a fire extinguisher, and it will be closeby if needed!

Remembering Seinfeld

What was so great about "the show about nothing" was that it really was, at least for a large portion of its run, a comedy about manners.  Social interactions and what is considered acceptable and appropriate behavior within those constructs and mores is something to which most people can relate.  Most people try to be polite or do what is social acceptable at least some of the time (am I going out on a limb, I hope not?)  Some people play a little more fast and loose with the "rules."  Some people expect to be treated one way, but then treat others another way.  Or sometimes we do things as a matter of ritual that just don't make a lot of sense when scrutinized and thought out. 

The characters of the show all treaded in various degress of that gray area of what is appropriate and what they could get away with.  And sometimes things just happen.  You either misunderstand what's going on, or the situation is outside of your control to such a degree that you try to hold on and keep your dignity best you can.  And sometimes you set off a chain of events that result in far reaching consequences you never foresaw, just due to one little slip. 

For anyone who has studied law, the most humorous consequences are those that fall well outside of Cardozo's "zone of danger."  If you haven't studied law, think of the yarn about a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon causally affecting a tropical storm half way around the world -- everything in synchronicity.  You can see the connection, but you cannot possibly be held responsible.  Yet in Jerry's world, the characters often found themselves responsible for the unintended and unforeseen consequences.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

WHITE CASTLE DREAMS

I didn't get home last night till about 2:00am or some ridiculous time.  I took Superior back to the Heights for two reasons. 

First, I didn't have to stop at a single light till I got to E 105th, and really, I probably didn't have to stop for that one either. 

Second, I hadn't eaten in hours, and I was ready for some Castle!  East Cleveland, here I come!

White Castle drivethru is SLOW.  And I knew that and I stopped there anyway.  I got four cheeseburgers and an order of clam strips.

I ate the clam strips in the car.

I got home to University Heights, and brought the sliders in with me.  I used the last of the Hellman's on the first two.  I used the canola oil Hellman's on the second two.  (Quick mayo review: skip the canola, get regular Hellman's Real Mayo.)

I sat down in front of the TV -- watched last week's South Park on the TiVo and ate my sliders.  And fell asleep in the chair. 

I woke up at 5am, crawled up to bed, and that's when I had "the dream."

I will never tell who was in this dream, but I know she reads this blog. All I can say is, girl, you are DIRTY! 

And in my dream, MJ said it was ok.  So I KNOW I was dreaming!!!

(Note to self: no more 2am White Castle.)

THE TIES THAT BIND

All this talk about race relations, I thought I'd weigh in.

I have this tie.  It is one of my favorite ties.  I bought it at a mens store a couple of years ago off the sale rack.  It is purple and violet with a little yellow.  I wear it primarily with my three button black suit.

The mens store is one that appears to have a significant African-American clientele.

I've noticed that whenever I wear this tie, I get compliments.  Especially from black folks.

Today I wore that tie.  And today when I was at court, I went to the clerk's office to file a brief.  The clerk who docketed my brief complimented me on my tie.  Yeah, she was black.


TORCH SONG

Read some Kerouac and it put me on the tracks to burn a little brighter now
Something about roman candles fizzing out, shine a little light on me now
Found a strange fascination with a liquid fixation, alcohol can thrill me now
It's getting late in the game to show any pride or shame
I just burn a little brighter now, burn a little brighter now

Doctor says my liver looks like leaving with my lover, need another time-out now
Like any sort of hero turning down to zero still standing out in any crowd
Pulling seventeen with experience and dreams, sweating out a happy hour
Where you're hiding 29 you know it ain't a crime
To burn a little brighter now, burn a little brighter now

- Derek Dick