Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tuesday Talkback

Moan all you want, I will still talk back.

"It was very obvious that we were experiencing a snowstorm Tuesday and Wednesday, as many of us have lived through several. Was it really necessary for Channel 5 to treat it like a national disaster with their nonstop newscast? Please stop sensationalizing news or you're sure to lose loyal viewers such as myself!" - Munson Township

Hack TV meteorologists love a big storm, because they finally get to be center stage, justifying all their equipment. Even though they scream like Chicken Little most of the time, let them have their day in the sun. Er, snow.

"Mail carriers should not be expected to deliver to houses or businesses where the steps, sidewalks and driveways have not been cleared. I am not a postal employee. I'm 75 years old, and my walkways are clear!" - Parma

They aren't and they don't. But the post office heightened everyone's expectations when it carved this into the Central Post Office in New York City: “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Mere puffery.

"My Monday moan is to all these great Americans driving foreign cars with these 'Support our troops' and 'God bless America' ribbons and 'Proud to be Americans.' " - North Olmsted

Putting one of those silly ribbons on your car, foreign or domestic, does not make you a great American.

"My moan is about the neighbor on my street who puts his garbage out on the curb every week between 8 and 9 a.m. the day before garbage pickup, even though the ordinance states you aren't supposed to put it on the curb until after 5 p.m. the night before. And this guy doesn't work and comes and goes all day long! On windy days, his garbage blows all over the street. What is it with these lamebrains who think rules apply to everyone but them?" - Brook Park

And what is it with lamebrains who call into Monday Moaning instead of calling the city and having someone sent out to cite the guy if he is violating a local ordinance?

"I am not a restaurant server and never was. Tipping servers is a fact of life. They make a lousy hourly wage and they run their butts off. They may not save lives like hospital workers, but I am going to tip well the server who asks me if they can refill my coffee after I put in a hard day at work especially if they are friendly. This is a respectable job. If you can't tip properly, then give the Northeast Ohio servers the best tip of all: Stay home and cook and clean up after yourself." - Parma

Yada, yad, yada. Three weeks of this now... can we move on to something else?

"Recent events, President Ford's funeral with no mail delivery for three days and the snowstorm with no mail delivery show there is no need for everyday mail delivery. The post office should go to every-other-day delivery. This will allow a cut in their work force, thus eliminating the need for an increase in postal rates." - Brunswick

That is a terrible idea. Maybe this moron doesn't get anything worthwhile in the mail. But besides generally disrupting delivery, how would it save money? Assume there would be just as much mail -- just that carriers would have to deliver twice as much of it. Maybe that doesn't seem like much when you are talking one or two houses, but think about how much more mail that is for an entire route. And do you think they would get paid less of working harder and longer every other day instead of six days a week? There are a number of thing that the government does pretty well, and delivering the mail is one of them. Why screw that up to try to save 2 cents?

"I wish that the state of Ohio would pass a law that would require all property owners to remove snow from their sidewalks and not just from their driveways and parking lots. It doesn't make sense that people (including children, the mail carrier and people who walk their dogs) have to either struggle through high snow on the sidewalks or put themselves in danger by walking in the street with cars." - Euclid

As a property owner, I already pay too much in taxes to be told yet again how to manage my affairs for the benefit of other people. If the state or the city wants my sidewalk clear, let them come by and clear it. They put the sidewalk there, they can clear the snow off it. And if they stop plowing the road in front of my house, you bet I won't be out there shoveling that either. And, I might add, where I live the city does clear my sidewalk. Good to know where the money goes.

"When you come to the deli counter in the grocery store, please read the sign and take a number and know what you want when your number is called. Also, no cell phones by the deli counter. It is rude." - North Royalton

Deli people do this to themselves when they sometimes use the numbers and sometimes don't. I hate it when they aren't using the numbers, then suddenly they switch back to it while you're standing there. So I always take a number even if they aren't using them. Let them call out dozens of numbers that were torn off earlier in the day.

"To the people with snowplow companies who sweet-talk everyone and are so nice when the leaves are still green and contracts are being signed and deposits given, then when it snows heavy (what a surprise) they complainabout how impatient we are because our driveways are unplowed at 6:30 p.m.,and we can't drive up them, and they offer excuses about traffic and unusual weather. Right. Maybe if they weren't so greedy and didn't take on so many customers, or started out earlier, they wouldn't be dealing with so many complaints. When they say they'll be out when there is two inches of snow, it doesn't mean on their front porch! And a double moan to those who ignore the older folks because they think they shouldn't be going out in the weather in the first place." - Mayfield Heights

I agree with most of that -- but I don't know of any plow driver who saves for last the homes that older folks live in due to not wanting their menacing Buicks out on the street during snowy weather -- but that sounds like a good idea to me.

"Cars idling forever at a traffic light at Ames and Day drives in Parma while no cars exit the car wash are adding to the pollution problem. Either remove that light (there is another one just a few feet away) or install a motion sensor." - Parma Heights

Pollution problem? You are adding to the pollution problem whenever you drive your car, regardless of whether you are sitting at a light a few extra moments. Just say it is wasting your time and you don't like it. Next week, this guy will say the traffic light is causing global warming.

"We were both appalled and repulsed by the front page spot (Sunday, Feb. 18) for the article 'Pursuing perfection.' Such trash should not have warranted any space in The Plain Dealer. Shame on you for running this kind of garbage in a family paper. This type of journalism is tabloid junk. Many co-workers felt the same way. We do have to say your image has certainly been tarnished by this type of reporting." - Bay Village and Cleveland

I don't remember what this article was about. I am sure I was too distracted by all the bra ads.

"Regarding the four-hour backup on I-90 caused by a cement truck: In cases like this, why not close entrance ramps to the freeway until the situation is eased, instead of letting more and more cars become stuck?" – Cleveland

Because that would make sense. And we have learned this month that Mayor Frank Jackson doesn't give a shit about commuters. Because if he did, he would not have changed the snow removal plan for the city. In the storm of February 13-14, instead of getting the main roads of Cleveland cleared first, Jackson made them merely "passable" -- a single lane -- and then pulled the plows to work on side streets.

This is the same guy who told us all to stay home and not come downtown. Good enough. But come the next day, when the main city streets were still merely passable -- this was a huge headache for commuters -- you know -- those of us who work in the city and, by virtue of that work, pay taxes to this city -- even if we live elsewhere.

I drove down Carnegie at 10pm on February 15, and the underpass just east of East 55th street was still just one lane in each direction, with the rest of the lanes covered in piled up snow. Nevermind that just a few years ago, Carnegie was SIX lanes, reduced to four under Queen Jane, and now effectively only two lanes under the quiet-as-a-mouse Frank Jackson.

If the mayor doesn't want businesses to stay downtown, just keep it up. Just keep up not plowing the streets, keep hitting us with those red light cameras, keep an undermanned and abusive police force harassing us over nonsense and absent when we really need them -- directing traffic to evacuate downtown during a storm.

Rockside and 77, the 271 Corridor -- all you suburbs with your business parks -- watch and gloat. Can the region survive without a center? Can the metropolitan area be a donut of thriving business and commerse that surrounds an unwelcoming and inhospitable void? I think we'll be finding out.


Monday, February 26, 2007

The New York City Visit / Marillion Listening Party Recaplet

The New York roadtrip was a lot of fun, overall. Granted, I did suffer an OCD moment when I couldn't remember whether I had locked the door on the way out of the house. I overcame the urge to turn around to check by phoning back to have someone stop by and check the door.

It was Gina's first trip to the city, and so on Friday night, I gave her the walking tour -- Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, The Waldorf-Astoria, Grand Central Station, Bloomingdale's, Diesel and more. We stopped by my mother's office on Third Avenue, and from there went to John's Pizzeria -- where we were met up with by James. We had Brooklyn lager and some of the best pizza in the world.

On Saturday, we wandered around Chinatown and Little Italy -- we saw people lining up for a parade, but being hungry, we sought a nice little Italian place for lunch and found that in Grotta Azzurra on Mulberry Street, where we nearly ate ourselves to a divine death: A prix fixe two course meal (pasta then a main course), plus garlic bread, wine, and cappucchinos. We walked it off around Battery Park and the Financial District, a stroll past the conspiracy theorists on permanent display at Ground Zero, a trip to JR Music World for some CDs, and a hike around Soho.

We met up with some of my Rushtour friends at the Bleecker Street Bar, and from there went to Kenny's Castaways for the Marillion Listening Party. VT had made arrangements to get a group of his buddies into the venue. As it turned out, there was no real policing of it. All the talk of being on the list and so on was not enforced that I could see. We all just walked up to Kenny's doorman, told them why we were in, and we were in.

There was a poetry reading going on, and some of the poet's friends were sitting at the two frontmost tables. As the poetry reading finished, they got up, and we scurried to the front and took the two newly opened tables right in front of the tiny stage. Pete Trewavas and Steve Rothery were soon setting up and doing a sound check. Pete complained about his jet lag and about how he and Rothers had to fly all the way here while Ian, Mark and H were in Spain, and about getting the short end of the stick on the travel, and then remembering where he was, tried to salvage it by saying "but I love New York." Nice try. He did look like shit though, very tired, and his body language was clear -- he did not want to be there. And Rothery looked tired as well, but if he was pissed off, he was hiding it much better.

Now, the invitation the band's management sent said that the doors would open at 6:30 and the new album, Somewhere Else, would be played at 7:30. Instead, we got into the venue around 6:10, managed to score the best seats in the house, and then they started the album an hour early, at 6:30! Which surprised me more than a little bit. And surprised a lot of other people too, given that they arrived between 630 and 730 to find the album already in progress.

After they played the album, Pete and Rothers took the stage, Pete on bass, Rothers on 12 string, and David Levine on drums. And Pete sang. Pete's singing was what it was. The crowd was into it, and singing along, and very forgiving as Pete tended to go flat on the high notes. They played just four songs, 80 Days, Easter, Sugar Mice, and The Answering Machine. Interestingly, Pete said right in the beginning that they were going to play four songs, and when they were done, he said, "that's all we know."

Pete said they weren't sure as of yet whether they'd be in the US on tour to support the new album, and that maybe they'd come as "Los Trios Marillos" again -- which was the three piece acoustic version of the five piece full band that Haves and George and I went to see in June 2005. That is disappointing. The three piece tour was fun that one time, and that came after they'd been here once on the Marbles tour as the full band. I don't see how you can support a new album here without touring on it here as the full band.

They announced they'd play the album again for the people who missed part of it the first time. The music started, and Pete and Rothers began tearing down, while being interrupted for photos and autographs. Pete was looking increasingly more annoyed by the whole situation. And we blew out of there halfway through the second playing of the album to get some Thai. I don't think it was even 8:30 yet.

The album itself ... it may have been the sound system at the venue, but I thought the vocals were too low in the mix, and were overwhelmed by the instrumentation, which was edgier than it had been on Marbles. There were a couple of more uptempo songs. And the album ends with a new recording of "Faith" -- a live version of it having been a B-Side to one of the Marbles singles. The new Faith is really good, and might be the best song on the album. It remains sparse and Blackbird-like in the beginning, and the full band come in later, and there is a flugelhorn bit. Outta time ... so more on that later.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Wet Slippery Slope of Home Ownership

Sunday I was sitting in my living room. I had turned off the TV and was reading the paper. I heard a >drip-splash< -- and I thought that can't be good. So I stood up to listen for it again. With each drip-splash, I moved closer to the source and found, in the breakfast nook, that there was a leak in the window frame between the window and the storm window, and that an inch of water had pooled at the bottom. Thus the splash.

Not coincidentally, I am sure, was the fact that the basement wall under that part of the house was also dripping, and there was water trickles showing up on my basement floor. Grrrrr. I mopped up the basement water, and then I went back to the nook window.

Naturally the window had been painted shut. I never had to open that window before. So first I had to work it open. Then I soaked up the pool of water. But this didn't stop the drip. I noticed how warm I was by the window, the sun beating down through the glass. I figured the water was coming from the roof. I went outside and sure enough, the icsicles hanging off the gutters were dripping like mad. Better remove them!

I could hear my mom's voice reminding me that kids get killed by falling icsicles -- adults too. I could picture Ralphie almost shooting his eye out with the Red Rider BB Gun and blaming it on an icsicle. I opened the garage to look for something I could throw up two stories to knock down the ice. A football! If only I could find one. No. Instead I found the Coleman gas canister to my portable grill. About the size of a football. Hmmmm.

OK, this is going to sound really dumb, but, I took the gas cannister and started throwing it at the gutter. Do I sound like I am going to end up on the Darwin Awards yet? I knocked down some ice and managed not to puncture the gas cannister when I decided there must be a better way. I eyeballed the screenporch -- yes I'll go out on the screenroof and knock down the ice.

Of course, the screen porch had about 3 feet of snow piled on it. And the door to the screen porch opens out. So I went upstairs and opened the door -- about 3 inches. Luckily, the porch door has two windows on it that pop out fairly easily (so that they can be replaced with screens in the summer). I popped out the bottom window, and started digging a path for the door using my hands.

Once I got the door open enough that I could step out on the roof. I tried not to worry about how much weight the roof could bear, what with all the wet snow piled on top of it. I went out there with my shovel, and started knocking the ice from the gutter. Got a whole lot of it down, too. And the dripping in the window slowed down considerably -- enough that I felt like I had accomplished something. Yay!

The next day, Gina called me. She went to the house after she got off from work. Apparently there was water leaking in the basement again. Only this time, there was water on the floor under the basement steps, where I keep the cat box. The cat box was full of water, and the litter all clumped. What a treat! And more water was dripping from the light fixture above the cat box. The light fixture! Electricity and water!

I went home and investigated. The landing halfway to the top of the basement steps is also where the sidedoor of the house is. The floor was absolutely saturated. Aha. I thought, we've tracked in so much snow that it is now leaking through the mat, through the carpet, and through the floor. We'll just have to start using the backdoor through the screenporch, and let this dry out.

I thought I was so smart, but I misdiagnosed it. For you see, besides the side door, also at that landing is the first floor bathroom. It is a tiny half bath that I like to refer to as the "maternity bath" because it is so small that you can sit on the toilet and throw up into the sink at the same time. Great for parties. And during a party a few months ago, a candle (and candle wax) fell into it that little sink. And ever since, the drain is very slow and prone to clogging. I think I need to just replace the trap, but have I done that? No. Instead I limp along with the sink, and pour drain opener in it whenever it backs up.

So once again, the sink had backed up. Only this time, the hot water faucet had been left dripping. And sure enough, the sink was overflowing all over the floor.

Well, so much for the "snow tracked in" theory. I blotted the water best I could. I went to Target for drain opener and kitty litter. I put a space heater on the toilet to warm up the bathroom, and put a fan in the stairwell to air it out.

And a day later, the floor was dry... whew. And the sink, unclogged. Yes.

So this morning, I got up and went downstairs to use the bathroom. No sense destroying the bathroom you want to shower in and get ready in, if you know what I mean. I do my business and flush.

And the toilet tank starts pouring water all over the floor.

I am only half awake, so what do I do? I flush the toilet again to observe more closely what's going on. And again, the water was going only partly into the bowl from the tank. The rest of it was streaming out from where the tank and throne meet, and pouring all over the carpeting once again. Which reminded me, whose flippin idea was it to carpet the bathroom? The house came this way! But duh!

So I turned off the water on the line leading to the toilet. My neighbor recommended a plumber. Or maybe I will try to do it myself. Hahahahahahahahaha. What treats await me? I have visions of having to replace the toilet, then discovering that the subfloor is rotted and needs replacing too, and having to rebuild the floor, recover the floor (with tile this time, dammit) and then replacing the toilet. And I still have to fix the trap in the sink. There is this little waxball that I can see in the drain whenever it backs up -- it floats up to where I can see it, but can't quite get to it because of the drain cover.

On the bright side of things, at least I have one toilet still up and running. So it isn't really a crisis just yet.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday Talkback -- Big Snow Edition

Big snow makes big moans -- makes for big talkback.

"Shame on the business on Pearl Road in Strongsville that had an employee standing outside in one of those silly costumes on one of the coldest days last week! Do these companies really bring in business by having someone wave to cars? Sure never brought me in! Seems pretty dumb to me and cruel to the employees they put out there!" - Strongsville

It seems to work for the streetwalkers on Lorain Avenue.

"This is in response to someone's moan in the Monday, Feb. 12, PD. A big moan to the whiner who slammed food servers. I'm not a food server but I can tell just by watching them that it is a tough job, especially when they have to serve whining complainers like you. Maybe you should stay at home and serve your own food. Or maybe you should try serving food to a bunch of people like you and see just how 'real' the job is." - Cleveland

I addressed this last week, but this isn't the last moan in response. Hey, anyone ever see Reservoir Dogs?

"To Parma in regards to tipping: How dare you insult all the hard-working people in restaurants! Do you work? Probably not with your mentality! Hopefully, for all the servers in Parma restaurants, you get your food to go! Serve yourself!" - Fay, Ohio

Since most of us eat every day, even the laziest among us, isn't it strange how people will dismiss the preparation and serving of food as unimportant?

"Why do these otherwise enjoyable TV shows ('CSI,' etc.) insist on that awful rock 'n' roll music in the background - and not far enough in the background at that?" - Novelty

Because that's what the kids listen to these days! By kids, I mean everyone under 60.

"It sure must be nice to have a job with the schools in almost any capacity. It appears whenever they don't like the weather, they call a snow day so they can have a day off. What other occupation gets as many days off as they do? Maybe the days they had earlier were worthy of being off, but most all of the schools have cried 'wolf' too many times to believe that this was warranted. Maybe they should all try being a mail carrier or any of our service people: telephone repair, gas man, electric company employee. Most any other job you have to go to work no matter what the weather." - No city

When schools call a snow day, it isn't about teachers and adminsitrators being lazy and taking a day off. It it about the safety of school children. In a big picture sense, it also gets a considerable percentage of people off the roads to allow others to travel. You think calling off school last Wednesday was "crying wolf"? Obviously you have one of those "optional jobs" yourself, because you obviously didn't go outside and see what was going on out there.

"I'm upset with NBC news. Lots of air time for Anna Nicole and the crazy astronaut. But not one word, not one song for Frankie Laine, who died last week. Twenty years from now we'll still be enjoying his songs when watching westerns like 'Blazing Saddles,' and those women will be forgotten." - Pepper Pike

First of all, Anna Nicole knocked the astronut right off the radar screen. And no, the death of Anna Nicole will not be forgotten, just like the deaths of Princess Di and Marilyn Monroe have not been forgotten. Frankie Laine will never be famous for his death, and what's wrong with that? Would you prefer a Michael Hutchence-like spectacle for Mr. Laine?

"People who do not know how to tip, I would like to think that the public is aware of the fact that the standard is 20 percent, and tips are crucial to a server's income, our hourly wage being just a fraction ofthe minimum wage, but some people don't get that a bad tip can do some serious damage. If you can't spare that extra dollar or two, please stay home or go to McDonald's." - Cleveland

I don't agree that the standard is 20%. The standard is 15 to 20% on the pre-tax total of the bill. If you used a coupon, you figure the tip based upon the full price of the meal. Paying a tip is part of the cost of going out. Generally when I go to a restaurant I go in assuming I will be tipping 20%, and depending on the service, I adjust it from there. I don't like to leave coins smaller than quarters. And if I go to a cafe or greasy spoon, and get attentive service, I tip way over 20%, because a mere 20% of a $2 or $3 bill seems cheap.

"Come on, Cleveland, you have the No. 2 basketball team in Ohio, and you don't show it on TV. What we do get is a bunch of channels that have paid programming on. Let alone Sportstime Ohio that has nothing on. There are a lot of Ohio State fans here in Northeast Ohio. Let us watch at least one team in Ohio that has a winning record." - North Ridgeville

Yawn. Strange how people get north of the Polaris Parkway and get all surprised that most people around here just don't care that much for that school or its teams. OSU has basketball? How interesting. Remind me when the March Madness brackets come out, so I can predict when they choke.

"My one big gripe is people who don't seem to realize that in a snowstorm their car is next to invisible if they don't turn on their lights. Just because it is past the sunrise time doesn't mean no lights are needed. The same is true when we have a severe rainstorm. People, please use your common sense." - Bay Village

If you can't see them, how do you know this is a problem?

"Al Gore and his rich friend are offering $25 million for anyone who has the answer to global warming. We, the middle class, donate a lot of money to research for all kinds of things. If they want results, pay for the research, don't offer a reward if someone can come up with the answer." - Eastlake

Donate? Hahaha. You mean we pay taxes. Answer: ban the internal combustion engine. Hey Al, make that check payable to Audient.

"What has happened to Channel 5's morning news? They are using the weather woman to read the news when they have Jack Marschall, an experienced and likeable reporter." - Broadview Heights

Jack Marschall's mom lives in Broadview Heights.

"I long for the day when all canned goods can be opened with a can opener as opposed to the lift tabs provided today. Are lift tabs an improvement? No way!" - Parma

Someone in Parma sells can openers for a living, it seems. Perhaps this clown will wax nostalgic for the pull tab Coke can next.

"I was totally disgusted with the photo you published in the Monday, Feb. 14., front page. What next, playmate of the month? You have hit a new low! The photo was not necessary. Keep the smut out of the paper!" - No city

Man! One snow day and I miss the hottest paper of the year! Anyone know what was on it???

"I do not understand why I must press English on my bank's ATM or why I must press 1 on telephone menus. I thought the language for the United States was English. I would think people wanting some other language would press the screen or a number to have the choices specified in that language. Why isn't there a choice of, say, German or French or Japanese? All I ever hear or see is Spanish." - North Ridgeville

At the end we get to the heart of it. You don't care for Spanish-speakers. Why don't you just cut to the chase and complain that Mexicans don't have any money anyway, since we pay them with scrip for the company store?

"I hate those drivers who overtake you in a flourish, and either (a) brake on the freeway exit on an exit ramp or (b) on a regular road turn right into a secondary road. This often happens when there is no traffic behind me for half a mile. On the freeway it should be illegal to exit from any lane except the right hand lane." - Lorain

Yeah, people who brake on those freeway exit ramps upset me too -- why don't they just travel full speed to the top and crash? And the people who pass you and then turn right aren't nearly as big a problem as the people who pass you then turn left. Mr. Lorain, do you drive a Buick?

"Shame on the guy who drove right past me in a plow truck and didn't offer to help me get unstuck from a pile of snow in an apron at 4:30 in the morning. I thought for sure this guy would help because that's his profession. I was wrong." - Cleveland

His job is to clear the roads, not rescue your sorry ass.

"I hate Microsoft. For 20 years I used a simple DOS-based word processor, which did everything I needed. Now I have to use Word, which is unnecessarily complicated. Also I used Lotus 1-2-3 to manage and draw XY graphs, which I printed with Harvard Graphics - stuff that I can't do with Excel. Seems the computer industry has taken one step forward and two steps backward." - Lorain

20 GOTO 10

"Being held for 10 hours in a plane on a tarmac is false imprisonment. Since when do you waive the Bill of Rights when you get on a plane?" - Streetsboro

Since 9/11/01.

"Why does the Palace Theatre blow cold air on the audience in the middle of February? The Chita Rivera show was terrific but the chilling effect was not enjoyed." - Lakewood

Sorry, but a theatre that is too warm sucks any time of year. Even in February. Even with Chita.
"This is regarding the letter from the person from North Olmsted who apparently didn't know there was a school levy on the ballot and/or where to vote. I also am a single homeowner with no children in the schools, but I read the local papers and watch the news, so I knew there was a school levy. Since I have voted at the same place in the past umpteen elections, I figured that's where I should vote, and, by golly, I was right!" - North Olmsted

You read? Wow. A reader. I bet someone taught you to read. Might have been your parents, might have been a teacher. And you vote! And you used reasoning! And they say there is Brain Drain around Cleveland.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Bring Back Marty

After what we've seen in Cleveland since Romeo, since Butch, since Palmer, since 1999, since the team left, since Bud, since -- oh for cryin' out loud -- THE LAST TIME MARTY WAS HERE -- high time we bring him home, and make Marty Schottenheimer the once and future head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
John Elway ain't around to stop him this time.

Stories here and here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Giving Boston the Finger

Yeah, THIS amused me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Snowy Valentine

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I took this picture from my office window yesterday afternoon. This was around 3:30. The traffic was already beginning to pick up (and slow down to a crawl). I ended up leaving my office around 4, and it took me well over 90 minutes to get home -- although that included stops for gas and to pick up some bacon at UDF.

I told Gina before I left work that she was welcome to stay with me, rather than drive to drive all the way to the west side. I got home and found her in my driveway. Even after shoveling, this is as far up the drive as she could get.

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Gina took the bacon and went in to cook dinner, and I took over shoveling. When the snow is falling so hard, it is difficult to keep up. Still, I got the drive somewhat clear enough to make an attempt for the garage. My car is a little better in the snow, but I could still only get it up the hill to just past the back door. Gina's car, I could only get up the bushes next to the front door.

She also thanked me for the flowers. Allow me to pat myself on the back for specifying that a 2/13 delivery was ok for Valentine's Day flowers! Her work is closed today, and if I had specified the 14th, she would not have gotten them today. As it was, they were delivered to her just as she was leaving work, so she simply took them with her, rather than leaving them on her desk. This too was a smart move -- since her office is closed today due to the snow, and if she hadn't have brought them home, no one would be enjoying them today.

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Here is the view from my living room window at 9:40 this morning.

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I have some things in my briefcase to work on. Gina is here, reading for her Victorian Lit class. I brought in firewood from the garage yesterday evening. There are treats from Trader Joe's in the freezer. While it is nothing as I planned or expected, it still stands to be a good Valentine's Day.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tuesday Talkback

The Monday Moaners were out in force -- and now it is time to talk back. Certified 100% Anna Nicole free.

"Co-workers that talk too much. Do you really think I want the boss to see you sitting on my desk for 20 minutes at a time all through the day? Just because you don't have any work doesn't mean that I don't, and, then both of us end up getting more projects from the boss, when I had enough to do in the first place." - Independence

No one can take advantage of you without your consent. If you really were busy, you could have told Chatty Charley to go away. Or tell him to get instant messenger. Then it looks like you are working, all busy typing away. Better yet, urge him to get messenger, then block him whenever he logs in.

"Tiger Woods usually gets the headline no matter how far down in the pack he finishes. Give the credit to the winner, for cryin' out loud!" - Avon

Tiger is the best golfer today, and he may be the best that ever was. Therefore, it is news no matter where he finishes. Accept it.

"When are auto manufacturers going to start installing turn signals? On the other hand, could it be that 98 percent of drivers these days are just too lazy and inconsiderate to use them." - Berlin Heights

Oh, how clever you are! That, or Berlin Heights is 98% Buick drivers.

"To the high intellect that feels it needed to jog Drake Road, roadside at 6 a.m. in the dark in zero-degree weather opposed to the sidewalk." - Strongsville

Jogging on the sidewalk in the dark is stupid, especially when it is icy out. Here's to the high intellect that can't share the road with a simple jogger.

"Moan to all the weather forecasters and news anchors. You are contributing to the decline of this area economically. After hearing you folks on TV, what business would want to come here or expand here? It's winter, quit whining, get over it." - Strongsville

Oh sure, blame messengers. Perhaps it is the news anchors fault that we are still in Iraq too. Must be -- they keep talking about it.

"Why do the news people always tell what is going to be on the 11 p.m. news, when most people have to go to bed before 11 p.m.? They all do it." - No city

Most people? HAVE to go to bed before 11? Only if most people are still in elementary school.

"Where is global warming when you need it? Brrrrr!" - Wickliffe

Dumbass. Where is evolution when we need it?

"I'm getting ticked off at all these people who think no one knows how to tip. Who says we have to tip you at all? That's your job to serve people in restaurants. If you don't like it, you can go out and get a real job where you have to work to make your money." - Parma

Seems like all these people who think that no one knows how to tip just got their moans validated by one jerk out in Parma.

"When I was a kid, the only time I saw a woman with a tattoo was at a side show." - Willoughby

Me too. I miss the Circus and Sideshow. Talk about some tattoos. And piercings. And strength, to hang from a pole like that.

"Who wants to buy food where someone is trying on shoes or clothes? If the discount stores, like Kmart, Kohl's, Target or Wal-Mart would sell department store wares, maybe the grocery chains would survive." - Broadview Heights

What is inherently wrong with buying food where people in close proximity are trying on a pair of shoes? Were you trying to sniff the cheese, and you got a whiff of some sweatsock? No, I bet you work at a grocery store. And it seems like grocery stores are always pushing kitchen gadgets and the like which are better-priced at Target too, so maybe you should knock that off first.

"Dirty minds see dirty things. Prince was one of the best halftime shows I've ever seen for a Super Bowl and I'm 65." - Strongsville

If Prince wanted to show us his johnson, he would have. He wouldn't have been coy.

"So North Olmsted finally passed a school levy! Is that because I, a single homeowner with no children, did not receive any notification of when and where to go vote for this special election? I've gotten them every other time." - North Olmsted

I too am a single homeowner, but I know when the elections are, I know where my polling place is, and still a good goddamn about the kids even though I don't have any. Perhaps your taxes shouldn't go to defense or homeland security either -- you should just agree to shoot any terrorist who steps onto your lawn.


Monday, February 12, 2007

A Confession about Me and Anna Nicole

I remember the first time I saw her. It seemed like any other ordinary day, except that fateful trip to to the Bowling Green Dairy Mart in late April 1992. She was newly behind the counter for the month of May. She was with Elizabeth Ward Gracen (Amanda from Highlander the series). I did not know her then, but I liked what I saw, and I took her home with me. She went by Vickie back then, and her hobbies included "couch-potato-ing" -- which she and I did together for the better part of that weekend, with the chain up on the door. That and reading the Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller features.

Over the years, she's wandered back in my life: PMOY 1993 was the first time. And then she'd appear here and there and again in various states of undress. A woman like Anna Nicole could not be tied down. Nothing could restrain her -- certainly no brassiere. And while the poor thing could could be tragic and trashy, so was, I confess, our relationship.

And this is where it all gets complicated. With her passing last week, she left a lot of things in disarray.

Zsa Zsa's husband may be an opportunistic cad, but there was one thing he said that was on the money. He said there may be twenty or even thirty of us who may be the father of that kid. Given that millions of us saw her starkers in the privacy of our own homes and dorm rooms, I would guess that the prince's number is a touch on the low side.

I am here today to go on the record, that yes, the kid might be mine.

I'm not doing this for the money. No, quite the opposite. The Marshall family can be assured that I am seeking nothing from them. But if that baby is mine, then I want it to grow up in a relatively normal and stable home. And while "normal" may not seem like something I could offer -- just look at the other would be baby's daddies. I'm a freakin' paragon of virtue.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Fear of a Blank Planet

The cover of the new Porcupine Tree CD.


Rush: Snakes and Arrows -- Release Date

Starting my morning off right...
Canadian Rock superstars Rush are set to return later this year, with a new album expected to be in stores on May 1. Blabbermouth reports the record is tentatively titled Snakes And Arrows, and also has a handful of unconfirmed tour dates for the band. The rumored tour dates are along the east coast of the U.S. in mid-June and early July.

The first single from the album is expected to be "Far Cry," which will impact at radio on March 13. Last month, drummer Neal Peart wrote about the new album on his Web site, saying that "I have never enjoyed the recording process so much, nor been so satisfied with the results."


Canadian rock trio RUSH is rumored to have scheduled the following live dates in support of their forthcoming new studio album (provisionally titled "Snakes and Arrows"):

Jun. 13 - Nashville, TN @ Starwood Amphitheater
Jun. 15 - West Palm Beach, FL @ Sound Advice Amphitheater
Jun. 16 - Tampa, FL @ Ford Amphitheater @ Florida State Fairgrounds
Jun. 18 - Atlanta, GA @ HiFi Buys Amphitheater
Jun. 19 - Charlotte, NC @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Jun. 27 - Mansfield, MA @ Tweeter Center
Jul. 02 - Wantaugh, NY @ Jones Beach Amphitheater
Jul. 04 - Darien Lake, NY @ Six Flags
Jul. 07 - Homdel, NJ @ PNC Arts Center

It should be noted that these dates have **NOT** been officially confirmed by the band or its management.

In other news, the first single from RUSH's upcoming album is expected to be "Far Cry" (or "Farcry"), and it is set to go for radio adds on March 13.

RUSH's new album is expected to be released late spring/early summer via Atlantic. The tracks were put to tape at Allaire Studios in upstate New York with co-producer Nick Raskulinecz. "I have never enjoyed the recording process so much, nor been so satisfied with the results," drummer Neil Peart wrote last month on his web site.

Peart previously told Billboard.com some of his lyrics for the new songs were inspired by his motorcycle journeys throughout the United States, chronicled in the recent book "Roadshow: Landscape with Drums".

"Just seeing the power of evangelical Christianity and contrasting that with the power of fundamentalist religion all over the world in its different forms had a big effect on me," he said.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anna Nicole Dead

Someone is taking this Marilyn Monroe thing just a little too far.

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The Analog Kid

A hot and windy august afternoon
Has the trees in constant motion
With a flash of silver leaves
As theyre rocking in the breeze

The boy lies in the grass with one blade
Stuck between his teeth
A vague sensation quickens
In his young and restless heart
And a bright and nameless vision
Has him longing to depart

You move me ---
You move me ---
With your buildings and your eyes
Autumn woods and winter skies
You move me ---
You move me ---
Open sea and city lights
Busy streets and dizzy heights
You call me ---
You call me ---

The fawn-eyed girl with sun-browned legs
Dances on the edge of his dream
And her voice rings in his ears
Like the music of the spheres

The boy lies in the grass, unmoving
Staring at the sky
His mother starts to call him
As a hawk goes soaring by
The boy pulls down his baseball cap
And covers up his eyes

Too many hands on my time
Too many feelings ---
Too many things on my mind
When I leave I dont know
What I'm hoping to find
When I leave I dont know
What I'm leaving behind...
--Neil Peart

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bengals - Police on Alert

From Haves -- thanks!


1. What do you call a drug ring in  Cincinnati ? 

A  huddle.  

2. Four Cincinnati Bengals in a car, who's driving?  

The  police.  

3. Why can't Chris Henry get into a huddle on the field anymore? 

      It is a parole violation for him to associate with known felons. 

4. The Cincinnati newspapers reported yesterday that Paul  Brown
Stadium is going to take out the artificial turf

because the Bengals  "play better on grass."

5. Coach Marvin Lewis has adopted a new  "Honor System" for his players

"Yes, your Honor, No your Honor".  

6. The Bengals had a 9 and 6 season this year:

9 arrests  (literally),  6 convictions. 

7. The Bengals knew they had to do something for  their  defense, but
they couldn't get the defensive coordinator they really wanted:  

Johnny Cochran

8. How do the Bengals spend their first week at mini-camp?  

  Studying the Miranda Rights.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tuesday Talkback

The schools may be closed, but it is never too cold to moan or talk back.

"Jeers to CBS for canceling 'Armed & Famous.' It showed the difficulty any person would have adjusting to and performing police work, one of the most demanding, difficult, thankless and dangerous jobs around. It portrayed police in a positive light. I guess 'good cop' doesn't sell, but 'bad cop' does." - West Salem

Not the difficulty of just any person becoming a cop, but celebrities becoming cops. Face it, if we really wanted to see Erik Estrada running around with a gun, CHiPs would still be on.

"Real men don't wear earrings in both ears, period." - Streetsboro

What is this, 1985? You want to cry about how you knew George Michael was gay because he had earrings in both ears? Hines Ward, last year's Super Bowl MVP, has earrings in both ears. And so does LeBron James. And many others. Man, I can't believe we are even talking about this.

"Why are the weather temps on TV different depending on the station you watch?I am referring to the temps in my area, Cleveland - one said it was 9 degrees, another 11, another 15. How am I to know?" - Cleveland

Because all of these stations record the temperature from different places. Generally, meteorologists record the temperature, dew point, and other information from instruments installed at the airport. And remember, here in Cleveland we have more than one airport! Once we are talking 9 versus 11 or 15, does it really make a difference? This is no longer an issue of whether you bringing a light jacket with you. If you want to know how cold it is outside where you are (as opposed to the airport), buy a thermometer, and mount it outside your window.

"Dick Goddard is predicting the weather for the rest of the year. How can he do that when he just gives a five-day forecast each night? The rest of the year is a long, long time." - Cleveland

Because there are trends in weather that are subject to forecast. If you don't understand science, or in this case, meteorology, you can learn it, or remain ignorant and moan. I see what your choice is. Please don't pick the science textbooks for our children.

"I am moaning about all the front-page hype and hysteria over the death of a racehorse (Barbaro) and a dog (Cleveland Clinic sales demonstration) while dozens of our finest, bravest American citizens are killed in Iraq every single day, fighting a senseless, winless war, and they receive barely a mention in The Plain Dealer, in a small box buried deep in the A-section of the newspaper. How did our priorities get so screwed up?" - Twinsburg

Dozens of our soldiers are not killed every single day in Iraq. The death count is nowhere near that high. We tend to forget that our soldiers are not anonymous, that they are the children of parents who love and miss and worry gravely about them. But this does not mean that we cannot be insensed about that poor dog, or sad for that horse.

"I think it is really a shame that the snowplow people at the shopping centers are so inconsiderate that they push the snow into the handicapped parking spaces or they don't plow them at all because there are poles there that mark the handicapped spaces. Shame on you guys!" - Solon

Snowplow guys can't vaporize the snow -- it gets piled up at the ends of the rows. So, what you are saying, is that you resent having to manuever around the snow pile? No one likes having to do that.

"Don't people know how to tip for service at a restaurant? Two dollars plus four quarters on a $35 tab is an insult. And no, you cannot put a tip on a gift card!" - Fairview Park

I don't condone shabby tipping -- and yes, $3 dollars on a $35 bill is cheap. I didn't know you couldn't put a tip on a gift card, though that sounds more like the individual policy of the restaurant. I don't think most people should be expected to know that. Which makes a gift card to your restaurant sound like a really lousy gift.

"Can speeding people please watch the news and see how many deaths occur each day because of senseless accidents due to speeding." - Mayfield Heights

The accidents I notice are the oldsters who have no business being on the road anymore but are too proud to give up their licenses. And what are we doing about that? And who would buy all of those unused Buicks? If a speeder caused an accident, it was probably because a Buick was in the way.

"I am so sick of the media and weather people scaring people half to death about the weather. This is winter in Cleveland ever since I was born. Cold, snow, windy and cloudy. The equipment now is just great, and they do a great job of cleaning up the streets. Please just do general weather reports. Thanks." - Brook Park

I have to agree. I'm watching Heroes last night, and they are running the newsflash ticker that it is cold outside. As if we didn't know. And how about the full bottom fifth of the screen dedicated to listing every school that is already closed for tomorrow? Why does so much space have to be taken up? A small, running ticker, like a stock ticker, would convey the same information a lot less obtrusively.

"Send Bush to a VA hospital for one week and let him see what our poor boys are going through." - Maple Heights

Send him to a VA hospital? How about sending him to the front line? Send him to Iraq and leave him there on site and tell him he can stay as long as he wants, but that he can't come home till he brings the troops with them.

"The constant clapping on 'Family Feud' and 'Wheel of Fortune' for one half hour, even when they say a wrong answer, is ridiculous and irritating. Can't this be stopped?" - Brooklyn

Why yes, it can be stopped. Change the channel or turn off the TV.

"Enough already with these infomercials - the same shows are on every weekend. These companies should pay us viewers to have to watch this . . . Since we don't have cable and have more choices to pick from, it is really hard watching TV on Saturdays and Sundays with all this junk on. Show old movies or old TV programs." - Parma

I repeat: Change the channel or turn off the TV.

"Channel 3 says their news at 11 p.m. is No. 1, but 19 Action News says their 11 p.m. news is No. 1. Help me with this." - No city

Channel 19 is number one at making up sensational stories about Randy Lerner selling the Browns because they have an ax to grind over Lerner cancelling the Browns contract with their station after they pissed him off by playing that 911 tape of his sister freaking out after her daughter died in that accident. I presume that Channel 3 is number one at things that are news related.

"Will someone tell the news anchors to leave the weather info to the meteorologist?" - No city

Oh, but the top story is that it snowed in the middle of winter! And they tire of talking about dead dogs and horses. Who wouldn't rather report that Ol' Man Winter is to blame for our problems?


Friday, February 02, 2007

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

My friends two doors down from me in University Heights have just bid on a house in Shaker and it was accepted.  Sure, there is the home inspection and other contingencies, but assuming it all goes through, they'll be putting their house up on the market.  It is a 5 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house that comes with the undeveloped lot next to it as a side yard.  Finished basement and third floor (the fifth bedroom is on the third floor with its own full bath), and family room addition (if you know where the screen porch is on my house, it is in the corresponding spot.) 
I had lunch with my friend today, and he said, if you know anyone who is looking... I don't offhand, but I don't profess to know what all of you are thinking.  It is within walking distance of the soon to be open Whole Foods store, not to mention O'Reilly's -- which Mr. Bebout and I can attest to is a quality watering hole.

Black Velvet Republicanism

A Velvet Elvis is cliche.  But how about pairing up a Velvet Nixon with it?  So many Nixons to choose from! 
The Velvet Cheney ... strange that the artist chose the sneering Cheney -- it is as if Jon Stewart picked the pose.
The Velvet Bush is made to look all serious -- probably more serious than he has ever looked in real life.  Strangely, he looks more like a melding of W and Josiah Bartlett -- Bush as portrayed by Martin Sheen.
The Velvet Reagan and Velvet Dole seem out of place here.  They don't belong in this rogue's gallery.  Who on earth wants a Velvet Karl Rove?  Please. 
See them all here.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Still a Few Decent People Out There, It Would Seem...

Gina met me downtown last night for dinner at Cafe Sausalito.  Sausalito is right by my office, yet I have not grown tired of it (unlike the Galleria foodcourt).
I then went back to work to take care of a few things.  I left late, went to my car and drove home.
I pulled into my garage at home, that was when I noticed the note under my windshield wiper. Name and phone number, and a rather incoherent "Please ____ ____" which I could not understand.
I thought, hmmmm, maybe she thought I was someone else.  I tossed the note on the front seat of my car, and went in for the night.
This morning I went to my car and saw the note again. 
I picked it up, read it again.  Nothing.  I don't know who this person is, and I can't read the scrawled out three word note, other than the word "please."
I drove to Starbucks on Cedar Hill and parked the car.  I walked up, saw the line of about eight people to coffee.  Sorry, but Starbucks is not worth that long a wait.  I've been going to Phoenix about half the time.  I really only go to Starbucks for two reasons: first, to get a maple scone; second, out of chance that I'll run into Pat.  Though I haven't run into him lately.
I walk back to my car, and that's when I see it.
The back corner of my bumper cover is cracked, and some of it is missing.
I brought the note into the office with me, and I just left her a voice mail.  I am not the least bit upset.  I am thrilled that this person was decent and responsible enough to leave me her name and number.
It isn't going to be a cheap repair either.  They don't fix the bumper cover -- they replace it outright.  I know this because I've had this repair done before.