Call me a heartless bastard ....

... but I really don't care that Barbaro's on the way to the glue/dogfood/piano wire factory.


He's a horse. Well, he was a horse. A big, fly-drawing, grass eating, genetically altered outdated transportation device / plowhorse ... who had millions spent on his medical care in the last eight months.

Meanwhile, back here in the land of people, we have millions who can't get their needed prescriptions or basic medical care care because they can't afford the costs.

And this horse was getting top-notch state-of-the-art care.

Yeah. That's why I don't care. At all.

If you care ... you can go here and send a message to Barbaro's team. I sent this (which probably won't be posted):

"I wish I had a dog so I could buy him the alpo you've become. Spend money to help people walk again, not horses."

There are pages of get-well wishes posted back before he was turned to glue. The best part: apparently, these messages were shared with Barbaro.

Um, color me confused, but HE'S A FUCKING HORSE.

People - Mr. Ed was a TV show - horses don't really talk. The Horse Whisperer may have thought he could talk to horses, but John Edward thinks he talks to the dead.

Scanning the quotes - it's a bunch of old women - the same types who hoard cats and won't give a homeless guy a dollar - talking about how numb they feel about a horse dying.

So I'm doubtful horses can understand our get well wishes.

But it gets better. Or worse.

There was a post from a couple who, after hearing the news, "walked down to our stables and told our horses of your passing. They were devastated."

I'd sell my left nut to see that. Christ on a pony, as Allison used to say.

No wonder we're so fucked as a race of people.

Anyway ... let's see why this "prestigious" example of equestrian breeding ... like many of his peers ... broke his leg and had to be "put down" humanly.

Hmmm ... a large horse - and racehorses are bred to be large - can weigh anywhere from 1,000 to 1,600 pounds.

The lower half of horses legs are about the same size as human legs - their ankles are about the same size as yours and mine.

And when a racehorse runs at a full gallop each foot supports the horse's weight with each stride - in Barbaro's case that's 1,200 pounds, per foot, per step.

On ankles the size of a average human.

"They're designed for speed, not necessarily to be ill and recover well," said Kimberly May, a veterinary surgeon and spokeswoman for the American Veterinary Medical Association.

And what prompted Barbao's death?


What is that? Let's again ask the vet.

It's a painful inflammation that causes separation of the hoof, has long affected racing horses. References to it can be found in books on lameness from the 1800s, May said. Barbaro's laminitis developed from uneven weight distribution.

Hmmm ... like putting 1,200 pounds on a hoof at full gallop.

Go figure the odds of that.


Well, now it makes sense

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 ... 1:30 p.m. ... Well, now it makes sense.

Was sitting in my doctor's office about 11:00, she was wondering why I've had such a serious problem the past year or so with sinus infections and other normally minor illnesses hitting me harder than they hit most people.

In fact, a friend said to me, "You don't get sick often, but when you do, you're really sick. That scares me. I'm glad I'm not your girlfriend. I'd be worried to death about you."

So anyway, my doctor is poking around in my nose, and my ears and trying to see how bad this thing is and start suggesting we do things other than the normal antibiotic for 10 days, because the bugs tend to get resistant to the treatment. Ugh. I'm hoping she doesn't recommend a sinus aspiration. Because that sucks, literally and figuratively. In the end, I had both - the antibiotics and the aspiration. If you've never had a sinus aspiration - hope you never need one. Imagine being in a dentists office - ya know that thing that sucks the spit out of your mouth? Put that up your nose into a sinus cavity. Seems like a great idea to get rid of all the nastiness, right? Wrong.

First - it's a tube, up your nose, poking around your face between soft tissue and bone.

Second - when they turn it on and it sucks all the stuff out of you it's loud.

Third - ya know how sometimes when your sinuses finally drain on their own you get a bit dizzy when the dam breaks (so to speak)? Imagine that happening in about a second - instant pressure change in sinus cavity = pain, dizziness and disorientation for hours.

But, yeah, I needed it. Turns out it this one was pretty freakin' bad.

How bad? Well, on Friday I woke up about 2:30 p.m. and realized it was 2:30 p.m. and realized I was home, in bed. I grab the phone, I call my boss to apologize for not coming to work or calling, he said, "Dude, you were here, I sent you home." It was that bad.

So why do I get sicker than most?

Turns out my white blood cell count is a bit lower than normal.

Turns out that's a normal after-effect of the gastric-bypass surgery. The surgeon said it's something they're tracking. They don't know why, they don't know what causes it, but between 24 and 48 months, the white blood cell count dips in surgery patients.

Well, now it makes sense.


Why I Do drink Coke

So a while ago I posted this about why I don't drink pepsi.

Here's why I drink coke.

Nuf said.

Fuck it, let's eat lunch

There's a great Lewis Black routine about what's wrong with America where he talks about the changes in what you're allowed to bring onto aircraft in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On the prohibited list: Lighters. Not on the list: Matches.

His take - you can take matches but you can't take a lighter?

The left half of your brain looks at the right half of your brain and says, "Fuck it. Let's eat lunch."

Much like me and the telcom industry.

Back in 1984, I did a paper for school about the breakup of AT&T in to seven regional baby-bells after what became MCI/Sprint sued to get a foothold in the long-distance market. According to the Justice Department, AT&T was too big and was preventing smaller companies from getting a foothold in the marketplace. That gave birth to seven regional baby bells:
  • Ameritech
  • Bell Atlantic
  • BellSouth
  • Pacific Telesis
  • Southwestern Bell
  • US West
For about 10 years, AT&T (meaning the long distance provider - which is what was left of it after the break-up) was a good monopoly and played along with the Justice Department before friends in high places allowed them to slowly start to rebuild their empire:

1994 - McCaw Cellular is purchased by AT&T.
1997 - SBC (Southwestern Bell) purchases PacBell (Pacific Telesis)
1998 - SBC buys SNET in New England, an independent Bell subsidiary
1999 - SBC buys Ameritech, another regional baby bell.
2000 - SBC and Bell South create Cingular Wireless.
2001 - AT&T makes AT&T Wireless a separate business unit.
2004 - Cingular buys AWS and rebrands it with the Cingular name.
2005 - SBC buys AT&T (basically, a child buying its parent)
2006 - SBC changes its name to AT&T
2007 - Cingular becomes AT&T Wireless.
2007 - AT&T Wireless is a part of AT&T.

Fuck it. Let's eat lunch.

In 15 years we've gone from AT&T being too big, to AT&T being only long distance and havng seven regional baby bells handle local service to AT&T, SBC and three regional baby bells (USWest, NyNex and Bell Atlantic) handling everything. Every. Thing.

On the wireless side, in 13 years we go from McCaw to AT&T to AT&T Wireless to Cingular to AT&T Wireless to AT&T.

The best part - all of this buying and selling of companies did nothing to lower costs and increase competition for consumers. All it did was make us bundle services, pay higher rates and have fewer choices and make billions for the high-stakes stockholders.

The FTC under Reagan said AT&T was bad.

The FTC under Bush I made the ruling under Reagan stand up.

The FTC under Clinton made the Reagan ruling lay down.

The FTC under Bush II made Americans take it laying down.

It doesn't matter if you're red or blue - in this case we're all black and blue.


Song of the Day

Damn. I was so in the Jay Farrar camp until I heard this song.
Damn you Jeff Tweedy. Get outta my head.

"Box Full of Letters"
Jeff Tweedy (Wilco)

Got a box full of letters,
Think you might like to read
Some things that you might like to see,
But they're all addressed to me

Wish I had a lotta answers,
'Cause that's the way it should be
For all these questions,
Being directed at me

I just can't find the time
To write my mind
The way I want it to read

You'll come back again
And I'll still be your friend

I got a lot of your records,
In a separate stack
Some things that I might like to hear,
But I guess I'll give 'em back

I wish I had a lotta answers,
'Cause that's the way it should be
All these questions
Being directed at me

Just can't find the time
To write my mind
The way I want it to read

You'll come back again,
And I'll still be your friend

I can't find the time
To write my mind
The way I want it to read

Just can't find the time
To write my mind
The way I want it to read

I've had some bad dates ... but

I thought I had some dating horror stories until I read this:

To sum it up ... a father in Jordan shot and killed his 17-year-old daughter in what's called an honor killing because he doubted she was a virgin - despite two different medical exams when she was alive confirming she was a virgin.

The girl - who was medically declared a virgin by two different sets of doctors - was shot four times in the heads.

An autopsy revealed she was still a virgin.

Now remember, this is Jordan (that's in the middle east where crazy fundamentalist Arabs are in charge, not like the US, where crazy fundamentalist Christians are in charge). And apparently, about 20 women a year are killed for things ranging from premarital sex to simply going on a date.

The punishment - up to 15 years in jail - and a hero's welcome upon release for keeping your family honorable. But that's up from the prior sentence of 6 months in jail.

I thought I had some bad dates ... at least no one I ever dated was killed simply for going out with me.


So I have two questions:

From Yahoo News:

Thu Jan 25, 12:03 PM ET

ANTWERP, Belgium (Reuters) - Mozart, an iguana with an erection that has lasted for over a week, will have his penis amputated in the next couple of days.

Veterinarians at Antwerp's Aquatopia had sought to treat the animal's problem, but decided removal was the only solution because of the risk of infection. The good news for Mozart and his mates is that male iguanas have two penises.

Mozart, sitting on the shoulders of his keeper as camera crews focused on his red, swollen erection, seemed unperturbed by the news.

"It doesn't bother him. He doesn't know what amputation means," said vet Luc Lambrecht, adding that Mozart's sexual activity should be undimmed by the operation.

"I don't think so. That's all in his head."


So I have two questions:

1. Who would give viagara to an iguana?

2. Who knew an iguana had two penises?


The joys of Apartment Living

I'm listening to my neighbors fight.


They're an interesting pair.

Early 20's ... and act like it.

Two nights ago the hallway reeked of whatever they were smoking.

I will admit it was better than whatever the people on the 2nd floor cooked about a month ago. Damn, that shit was bad.

They're always partying.

Lots of people in and out.

I can't hear them because I'm on the 3rd floor, they live on the 1st.

The bad cookers insulate me from the sounds.

I wouldn't care what they do, honestly, except there's a kid involved. Not sure if he's hers or theirs ... but he's always getting yelled at. I hear him cry from time time. He's about four, so that could be for any number of reasons, but I feel for the midget growing up in that environment.

Oh, wait, maybe it's not my neighbors fighting. It's just some kids playing.

Never mind.

That's okay ... I'm sure they'll be fighting later.

Those who forget history ...

For years, Cleveland and New Jersey have been the butt of most jokes about America.

New Jersey just took the lead.

The New Jersey legislature has passed a proposal that - if the governor signs into law - would lift a mandate in their school system that requires teachers to teach students about Veteran's Day and Memorial Day.

Apparently, the lessons learned on the battlefield and the heroic sacrifices of those who founded, defended and protected this nation - as well as those who continue to do so - have been forgotten by those who sit in the statehouse in Trenton.

Trenton ... boy ... that rings a bell in my brain.

Oh yeah ... December 26, 1776, when General George Washington crossed the Delaware River, marched 2,500 troops for nine hours through ice and snow, and with frozen, barely-functional muskets, won the Battle of Trenton in forty-five minutes against professional German soldiers hired by the Brits. What many call the turning point in the Revolutionary War - the first real solid defeat of the enemy by the fledgling Army of the Republic.

But apparently, 237 years later, that's not worth remembering - or passing on to future generations.

Because those who forget history ... are doomed to repeat it.

Perhaps my friends in Manhattan are right.

Fuck New Jersey.

More info (on the legislation, not on fucking New Jersey) can be found here.


Scanning the globe ...

The news that won't die - apparently three county election workers in Cuyahoga County right here in O-H-I-O are on trail for not properly counting during a recount in the 2004 election ... because they didn't want to have to count again.

Basically, in Ohio, when a recount is ordered, three percent of ballots are hand counted. If the hand count of three percent matches closely enough to the given results, it's good. If not, they pick another three percent to hand count. If those are still off, they count them all by hand.

And it wasn't the democrats that wanted the recount ... it was the Green Party candidate and the Libertarian Party candidate.

The results - after counting 600,000 ballots - John Kerry gained 17 votes; George Bush lost six votes.

So Kerry had a net increase of 23. Which means he still lost Ohio approximately 118,000 votes.

Maximum penalty for the three workers - 18 months in prison.

Link is here.

Reading isn't fundamental(ist Christian).

All I can think of here is a Bill Hicks joke about when a waitress at Waffle House asked him:

"Whatchu readin' for?"

His response, "I've often times been asked what I'm reading. I don't think I've ever been asked what I'm reading for. Gosh darnit, you stumped me. I read for a lot of things, but I guess, mostly, so I don't end up a fucking waffle waitress."

Apparently, a mother in Georgia, thinks we need more waffle waitresses.

She's suing because she wants all Harry Potter books removed from school libraries.

Because they teach and promote witchcraft. And Satan.

"I didn't want to do it if the Lord didn't want me to" she's quoted as saying.

Do what? Evolve? Live and let live? Be sin-free and yet cast the first stone?

Whatever. It is Georgia. I'm sure she'll win.

Hey kids in Georgia - apparently Jesus doesn't want you to read. He wants you to stay stupid. So pick your knuckles up off the ground - stop staring at my opposable thumbs and repeat after me, in your accent:

"Y'all want that in a combo? The extra-large or jumbo sized?"

Link is here.

Playing video games is good?

Apparently, video games can satisfy deep psychological needs and improve people's well-being.

Link is here.

Editorial comment: So can sex. Which is also can be a single or multi-player game. And, even if you do have to purchase, normally costs less than a PS3. And you don't have to wait in line at Best Buy, either. (So anyone up for a match? I'm a great doubles partner.)

Seriously ... when scientists start telling us that video games are good for us ... you know that's some purchased researchtime to pull the plug, on the games, the scientists and the gamers.

Here's some fucking news (seriously):

An AIDS treatment group is suing the company that makes over Viagra because their ads are 'promoting unsafe sex.'

Who's next? Budweiser? Chevy? Those people who tell me it's not my car or the clothes I wear but my timepiece? (Anyone else remember when a watch was a watch? Me too.)

Damn. No wonder our country is fucked.

Welcome to America. Here's a handgun, a beer, some Viagra, a Big Mac, oh, and a lawyer. Enjoy your stay.

Link is here.

How to tell you've wasted your life on an inane pursuit:

I don't know if this is better or worse than the guy studying how video games make us 'feel' ... cause we're all about how we 'feel' these days ... but an expert on the person in the undated da Vinci painting called "Mona Lisa" says he's figured out her maiden & married name, husband's name, their children, when she was born, when she died and where she's buried.

(Insert the voice of Chic McGee:)

That's good work boys.

(Insert the voice of Bob Kevoian:)

Man I don't care.

But if you do ... the link is here. And a life is also available to you, outside. Look into the latter, please.

I love movie soundtracks, usually.

Movie soundtracks are very bizarre sometimes. Like this one, for the movie "Lucky You" starring Eric Bana and Drew Berrymore.

The soundtrack features Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, George Jones, Johnny Rivers, Shawn Colvin, Ryan Adams ... and then songs from both Liza Minnelli and Drew Berrymore. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Or not.

Testes? Testes? That rocks.

How well do you know your album artwork? I got 40 out of 52. And I'm one of about ten people who got the Marbles album by Steve Hogarth's band.

Test yourself here.


Dinosaurs aren't extinct.

They just happen to run music labels and music-industry trade groups - like the RIAA and the International Federation of the Phonoographic Institute.

In this article ... the IFPI says it's time to start suing ISP's who allow music piracy.

Oh, since suing your customers - those who want electronic music - was so successful.

Genius, boys, genius.

If I was an ISP that was sued by this group, the first thing I'd do is block access to the labels, their related artists and all legal ways to purchase their music.


Hey guys - I have an idea - how about you look at what music fans want:
  • First - good music
  • access to all the albums
  • access to all the songs
  • the ability to purchase individual songs
  • not for 99 cents each - make them cheaper
  • offer live and exclusive tracks
  • hell, offer whole concerts and other bonus material - videos, lyrics, etc.
  • albums in advance of the street date (no delay to complete the artwork, pressing, printing, packaging, and distribution)
  • and the biggie - MP3 files that have no Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Oh, wait, someone's already done all of that.


And who's the second largest online seller of legal digital music behind innovator iTunes?


Wow. Guess that whole listening to what your customers want, and then delivering that, still works.

Anyone in label-land listening?

Didn't think so.

(FOR THE RECORD - I am currently not a subscriber to eMusic. I was a subscriber for more than a year. If I was a subscriber, the link would be a referral code. It's not. It's merely to the eMusic home page. I gain nothing from you clicking, or joining.

eMusic is not paying me to write this. I wish they would though. I'm one of their biggest fans. And they have cool shit that music snobs like me like. Check them out.)

The funniest guy on the web

I'm in a rut writing right now. Busy with work.

So read these. This is the funniest fucking guy on the internets.

John Moe's Pop-Song Correspondences

Basically, John Moe takes songs we all know and love, and views them from a different point of view. The latest - a letter from Beth to Peter Criss in response to his song.

I wish I was this original.


Rub some dirt in it

So I'm reading this self-help book (because I'm the only one that can help me, right? Right) and came on the greatest quote:
"If I had my life to live over again, I'd dare to make more mistakes the next time." ~ Nadine Stair
Made me stop and think because I know I'll make about every mistake you can make. In life. In love. At work. At home. If there's an opportunity to say or do something that can turn out one of two ways - odds are I have - or will - choose the wrong one.

Luckily, I don't often make the same mistake twice. Sometimes, yes. But not often. And not lately.

But this quote made me smile, because it's someone else who realizes that making mistakes isn't the end of the world.

And it made me realize some of the best things that have ever happened to me can be directly traced to a mistake I made.

Okay, back to work. Probably to make mistakes.


I love being a smartass

So today at work I get a notice that I need to update my Performance Tracking for 2006 ... all of my company's HR stuff is online, including how we set, manage and verify our personal and account goals for the year.

Since I was employed by this company when I started 2006, and when I ended 2006, despite a eleven-week period of unemployment (Aug 1 - Oct 23), I still have goals.

From the old account and the new account.

Pretty funny stuff. So I went ahead and updated my goals from the old account.

Click the picture to see what I submitted ... the two areas circled in red are the highlights - the top is what the goal was, the bottom is how I achieved it.

Man, I love being a smart-ass.


I am the MFM

So today is day one of our new help desk at work.

I'm no longer on the help desk - cause I gotz mad server skillz 'n' shit.

I am, now, a level three Intel Engineer, which means the level one and level two help desk monkeys rely on me to fix what they can't.

The place I worked at before we had an automated ticketing system. The level one person would get the phone call or email. If she couldn't (or wouldn't) fix it, she'd assign it to me, and I got an email and/or page depending on how critical the issue.

If I needed to escalate the issue up to level three because I couldn't (or wouldn't) fix it, I updated the ticket with my info, and reassigned it. The person I assigned it to received an email or page, again, depending on how critical the issue.

This new account ... it was all manual. We'll use a ticket being assigned to me as an example.

Ticket would come in to level one at the regional help desk. The regional level one would enter it into the tracking system. If they couldn't resolve it, it would get escalated to the regional level two tech. If the regional level two couldn't fix it, they'd escalate it to our combined level two help desk.

Here's where things get messed up and slowed down.

The old regional combined level two help desk would CALL ME ON THE PHONE and say, "Eric, this Grover from Tier II. I have a server down that needs rebooted. Can I assign you the ticket?"

Um, what? Can you? Um, sure. That's my job, right? Just send it over.

I swear I spent at least 40 minutes a day on the phone talking to people giving them permission to assign me tickets that it is my job to fix.

Yep, wasted effort. Seriously. Wasted. Time and Effort.

So today we start the new system - which is all automated. Which I like. Ticket gets assigned to me, I get a page and an email. I acknowledge the ticket, and start working on it. No need to take or make phone calls to say it's okay to give me the ticket. Just here's the ticket now get to work.

Here's where I prove just why I'm the MFM.

MFM is a term we use at work for whoever has the best idea of the day to solve the biggest problem of the day. Somedays, that's shit so far above my head I''m relegated to being the dumbest guy in the room. And I'm okay with that because I'm learning, a lot.

Other days, the MFM is the guy who has the best suggestion on where to eat lunch. So the criteria is flexible.

Today, as we started the new help desk procedures, which require us to acknowledge all tickets a specified time frame based on the severity of the ticket - we were all wondering who was gonna miss the first "Severity One" ticket and have the bosses gather around for the beatdown.

For three days I've been watching a server die. The customer said, basically, let it limp along. When it dies, we'll migrate over to the backup and then you can fix it.

All of this was documented in the ticket in the old system, which I'm not allowed to create in the new system because it exists in the old system.

This morning - about 4:55 a.m. - it died. I got emailed by the customer (the regional level two tech) saying, "It's dead. You can take it offline and fix it." So I pull the server out of the rack at 8:15 and try to fix it with existing spare parts so there's no additional cost to the region. No love. Spares are bad. We figured as much, but hoped maybe we'd luck out.

Nope. So I go back to my desk and weed through the tickets, and pages, and emails, glad I don't have to talk on the phone. Because I hate talking on the phone. And at 12:15, four hours after I turned it off, I get a SEVERITY ONE ticket saying the server that I had performed the autopsy and board replacement on was not responding.

No shit. It's in pieces on my workbench, its guts intermingled with innards of two other servers.

So me and the guys I work with had a good laugh about the fact it took our new 'state of the art' monitoring tool four hours to realize this server was not working.

Unfortunately, for me, I forgot to acknowledge the fact that our 'state of the art' monitoring system told me the server was dead in the 15 minute time frame I have to respond with "Yeah, I know. I got a ticket. Yay me." or something a bit more corporate like, "I am aware of this issue and working on the ticket."

So 15 minutes later, the secondary guy gets a page about a sev one issue that's not been acknowledged by the primary guy. He's at lunch.

So 15 minutes later, my manager (and his manager, and probably his manager, too) get a page because it's been 30 minutes since a SEVERITY ONE ticket was entered and it's not been acknowledged. Since the three of them are in Cincinnati, cell phones ignite and marching orders are issued ... and their footsoldiers beat a path to my desk.

Who's the first guy to blow the clock on a Severity One ticket?


Cause I'm the MFM.

Fuck yeah.


This * is * my life.

So I'm waiting to hear from an old friend who's in town on business - so I figure I'll go get something to eat.

She's in Boardman ... so I figure, darn, I'll go to Boardman, too. Good eats in Boardman.

So I remember it's been a while since I've had Panera.


And it's cold. So I figure a nice breadbowl with chicken noodle soup will hit the spot.

Now if you know me - you know what I want and what I get are usually worlds apart. Not that I'm not happy with what I get - but often, it's not what I wanted - not my first choice.

And if you know me - you 've heard me say, often, "I get nothin."

Witness that which is, so richly, my life:

I wait in line for 10 minutes. I order.

They're out of breadbowls.

And they're out of chicken noodle soup.

Oh well ... like the movie says, "Always have a Plan B, Dave."

Fuji Apple Chicken Salad - no dressing.

Whole grain baguette.

They're out of whole grain.

Okay, since I settled for salad instead of soup, I suppose I'll settle for sourdough.

They're out of sourdough.


Panera is out of bread.

Yep, that's my life. I get nothin'.

End-O-Year Blog Link Wrap

So here's my End-O-Year Blog Roundup. Follow links to some of my posts from 2006. Then, if you're a blogger, fill this out yourself.

  1. Was 2006 a good year for you?

    It was a hectic year.

  2. What was your favorite moment of the year?

    Seeing my daughter get to feed and pet a beluga whale - her favorite mammal from the time she was 3 and first saw the white whale.

  3. What was your least favorite moment of the year?

    Realizing that long distance relationships don't fit into my life.

  4. Where were you when 2006 began?

    Rocking out to Watershed at Oldfield's on High in Columbus.

  5. Who were you with?

    Kara and a few dozen others.

  6. Where were you when 2006 ended?

    In New Castle, Pennsylvania.

  7. Who were you with when 2006 ended?

    Cammi, Gage, Jess, Adam, Alex, Mandy, Stef and a barking dog.

  8. Did you keep your new years resolution of 2006?

    To take over the world? Sadly, no.

  9. Do you have a new years resolution for 2007?

    Nope. Decided since I failed miserably at taking over the world last year I would not make a resolution this year.

  10. Did you breakup with anyone in 2006?

    Kara. Twice. (August, December)

  11. Did you make any new friends in 2006?

    A whole shitload.

  12. Who are your favorite new friends?

    Favorite friends? What are we, in high school?

  13. What was your favorite month of 2006?

    July. Travel. Travel. Travel.

  14. Did you travel outside of the USA in 2006?

    Does Cananada count? Yes? Then Yes, Cananada.

  15. How many different states did you travel to in 2006?

    Seventeen. Yep.

  16. Did you lose anybody close to you in 2006?

    My Grandpa - my last surviving grandparent. He was 90.

  17. Did you miss anybody in the past year?

    No. I'm a heartless bastard. (Yes, of course, everyone misses someone)

  18. What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2006?

    Little Miss Sunshine

  19. What was your favorite song from 2006?

    "Cutlass Cruiser" - Aaron Tashjian.

  20. What was your favorite new album from 2006?

    David Ford, "I Sincerely Apologize For All Of The Trouble That I Caused."

  21. How many concerts did you see in 2006?

    Hahahahaha. No idea. Lots. Lots. Lots.

  22. Did you have a favorite concert in 2006?

    Being two feet away from Nels Cline seeing Wilco for the first time in Sayreville, NJ, in April was pretty cool, since I wasn't a Wilco fan before getting to be in the front row. Seeing Kara two feet away from Jeff Tweedy was pretty cool then, too (and still is now).

  23. Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2006?

    More than in 2007.

  24. Did you do a lot of drugs in 2006?

    Had some good times washing down Vicodin with Budweiser watching the X-Rated Cowboys hours after getting a vasectomy. That's about all the drugs I did. Drugs are bad, m'kay?

  25. How many people did you kiss in 2006?

    I don't kiss and tell (hello Miss Soft Lips)

  26. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?

    Nope. If I'm gonna do - or say - something, I'm not going to second guess, regret, wallow or feel shamed after.

  27. What was the worst lie someone told you in 2006?

    I don't really know.

  28. Did you treat somebody badly in 2006?

    point of

  29. Did somebody treat you badly in 2006?

    Again, depends on your point of view.

  30. How much money did you spend in 2006?

    (Checks W2 to see how much money he made in 2006. Checks savings account. Yep, about that much).

  31. What was your proudest moment of 2006?

    Realizing I'm a damn good photographer.

  32. What was your most embarrassing moment of 2006?

    Gimme a P (P) ... Gimme a J (J) ... Gimme a second chance?

  33. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2006 and change it what would it be?

    See #38

  34. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?


  35. Compared to this time last year, are you thinner or fatter?


  36. Compared to this time last year, are you richer or poorer?

    About the same.

  37. What do you wish you'd done more of?

    Wow, I did so much more in 2006 than I've ever done I really can't answer this.

  38. What do you wish you'd done less of?

    Been an ass.

  39. What was your favorite TV program?

    Battlestar Galactica (the new series.
    Got into it when I was not working). The 4400 (ibid).

  40. What was the best book you read?

    "Everything I'm Cracked Up To Be" by Jen Trynin

  41. What was your greatest musical discovery?

    David Ford, "I Sincerely Apologize For All The Trouble I've Caused."

  42. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?


  43. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

    Same as the past 16 years - Julia Fordham.

  44. What political issue stirred you the most?

    How shitty the media is.

  45. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006:

    Paraphrasing the genius that is Drew Hastings: Some people think having a girlfriend younger than you is cool. No it's not. It's revisiting the same shit you dealt with when you were that age.

  46. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

    "I"m just adding up the corners of the walls inside my heart."


Left lane? Right lane.

Saturday I went to visit some friends in Cleveland ... and on the way home, on the turnpike, decided I'd rather drive through Warren than go back into Niles through Austintown and Mineral Ridge.

No biggie - it's about the same time and distance either way, and the toll difference is a quarter - so no real big savings there, either.

As I exited at Mile Marker 209, there were two toll booths open. Being the exit ramp I wanted to take was on the left side, or maybe because maybe I'm left-handed, I decided to take the middle booth - or, as my choices went, the one on the left.

Cause that's me.

Most of the time I got to the right, sometimes I go both ways, tonight was a left-side decision.

As I pulled up to the toll both about 1:30 on an unusually warm Saturday after spending the day working and adding a side-trip on the way home to Cleveland, I started to laugh.

Because the face behind the glass looked kind of familiar.

Yes, I'm that guy - that guy who finds someone he knows damn near everyplace he goes.

The middle tollbooth at Exit 209 of the Ohio Turnpike at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday was yet another place I ran into someone I knew.

He is the father of a very old and dear friend I lost contact with (yeah, imagine that, me, losing contact with someone?) many years ago. She and I, as most of my teenage stories go, spent a lot of time together barely dressed, hot and wet.

(And for the record - get your minds out of the gutter ... she and I learned to be lifeguards in the same class - at the pool at Packard Park - so we spent a lot of time in bathing suits in the water - and then worked together for two summers at the world's largest fresh-water, land-locked, automatically chlorinated concrete bottom swimming pool, or it was at the time, Willow Lake. And rocked out to some of the finest 80's rock at Blossom Music Center drinking Little Kings. Because you can still rock in America. Oh yeah. All right.)

And we spent a few nights out on the town together, too. And, as most of my teenage (and 20's, and 30's) stories go, we didn't kiss. Well, I don't think we ever kissed. We might have, once, but she liked the bad boys and I was never quite the type. But she and I had the type of relationship that made my girlfriend and her boyfriend uncomfortable. To say the least. She was hot, had amazing blue eyes, a great smile, and I had zero self-confidence and game. So we were friends. We had fun together.

ANYWAY ... as we all do, she graduated high school a year after I did, and went to college, eventually got married, and eventually moved away. I haven't seen her since, probably, 1989. I don't think I've seen her father since 1989 either.

Yet there he was. Looking just the same as the last time I saw him.

I think we talked for about 10 minutes until another car came up. We exchanged email addresses; he showed me pictures of his grandkids (her kids), I showed him pics of my kids. He told me about his life, how he's loving being a grandpa, how his younger daughter's a teacher now, as he was, in the school system he taught at.

I also lifeguarded with the younger daughter. She was much the same as her sister - fun, flirtatious, amazing blue eyes ... but she hotter - had those curves I like, was waaaaay outspoken and you could see some serious playfulness in her smile.

But she was the younger sister, and therefore, off limits.

But back to our story.

Funny how sometimes when you take that exit, and pick the tollbooth, just for a change of pace, how good it can make you feel.

I gotta go ... gotta write an email to an old friend. Or two.

Media Manipulates Numbers?

In the words of the great philosopher Butthead:

"I'm, like, angry with numbers. There's, like, too many of them."

In the words of the great philosopher Me: I blame the Arabs. It's their fault. (Nope, not the Muslims. The Arabs. Why? Well, we don't use Roman numerals for anything but superbowls, sequels and Heywood Banks songs. All our math is based on using - and sometimes mis-using Arabic numerals.)

Like in this article from the Financial Times discussing the fact the majority of U.S. military deaths in Iraq are not poor blacks from the inner cities, as some would have you believe; but white men from small towns in rural America.

The writer says the following:
What is often missing from America’s increasingly recriminatory debate over Iraq is how isolated are the communities that bear most of the human cost. The Pentagon does not disclose the socio-economic background of the 25,000 US soldiers who have been killed or wounded in Iraq.

But a breakdown of their ethnicity and states of origins shows they are overwhelmingly white and from small towns in the interior states of mid-America and the South.

For example, the ratio of killed to the state’s population is 221 per cent for South Dakota, 178 per cent for Nebraska and 163 per cent for Louisiana. In contrast, the District of Columbia, which is home to Washington, the US capital, has a ratio of just 52 per cent, while Connecticut is 66 per cent and New Jersey is 60 per cent.
I'm not quite sure what he's trying to say here. Math people, can you help me out?

First, how 221 per cent of anything be killed?

I hate that. "We gave one-hundred and ten percent" is a quote you hear come from the mouths of jocks.

No. Un-possible.

You can't give more than 100 percent. Period. If you have 10 apples, and you give me ten, you can't give me another apple. Because you don't have another apple to give. You had ten. You gave me ten. You're out of apples. You've given me 100 percent of your apples.

See how that works? You can give 100 percent. Period.

Now back to our story.

Based on the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2006 projected population of South Dakota is 781,919.

Two-hundred twenty-one per cent of that is 1,728,041 (781,919 multiplied by 2.21) .

U.S. Deaths, in Iraq, as of today, January 9, 2007 - 3,014.

Perhaps he's trying to say a large number of uS troops from South Dakota have been killed.

Not even close.

Of the 3,014 deaths, 17 are from South Dakota, according to this report. (3,004 confirmed as of Jan 8; 10 pending. And the point that is always overlooked when the media throws out numbers - 2,435 American military members have died as a result of enemy action; 579 are classified non-combat deaths, meaning accidents, suicide, homicide, illness, etc - acts not attributed to direct enemy engagement).

Now based on those Arabic numerals and our math functions - I'm not sure where the writer got his population numbers, but they're close if you run the ones I quote - 2.21 out of every 1,000 South Dakota residents has died in Iraq.

Not 221 per cent.

Zero point zero two one percent.

Two-tenths of one percent.

Please don't think I'm taking that number lightly. I'm a military veteran. I raised my hand and swore to defend this country, so I know the risks. And like everyone else in the military, voluntarily accepted them.

Please don't think I'm taking the death of someone in the prime of their life lightly, either. I lost someone I loved in the prime of her life. Unnecessarily.

So I know about military service, and the impact of sudden loss.

And I support the wars in Iraq and Afgahinstan. And I'm sad to hear the body counts every day. But understand this: I'd rather had our brave soliders dying over there to keep the wolves at bay than hearing about terrorist attacks on the streets of this country. I'd rather have our warriors fighting their warriors then them raining down random acts of terror on our civilians.

But yes, the fact that two tenths of one percent of the population of South Dakota has died in Iraq, to me, is sad. The fact that one one-hundredth of our population has died in Iraq is sad. The fact that one one-hundredth of our population was killed as a result of the attacks of September 11, 2001, is equally as sad, but more often glossed over, or forgotten.

But back to our story.

The report also says that the ratio of those killed to the population of Nebraska is 178 per cent.

U.S. Census of Nebraska: 1,776,331 (2006 projected).

Nebraska soldiers killed: 31.

Again, I run the numbers, and see, roughly, 1.78 per 1,000 Nebraska residents.

That's less than two tenths of one percent.

Same with the rest of the stats - and states - mention.

Maybe what he was trying to say got lost in the translation from British English to American Spanglish. Maybe he didn't mean to put the wrong numbers, maybe it's just the wrong words describing those numbers. Maybe his intention was not to manipulate the truth.

Maybe. Maybe not. But it's out there. And because number, as Butthead told us, do suck. Because there are too many of them.

Especially when they're manipulated.

By people who should know better.

You'd think a magazine like the Financial Times would do a better job at math, eh?


They're Dead, Jim.

Okay ... I know it's Elvis's Birthday today. Well, it would have been. Had he not died. And I don't care if you saw him at a gas station, or pancake house. I don't care that the Enquirer and the Weekly World News see him weekly.

Elvis is dead.

And it's time to let the dead be dead. Or, for us to admit they're dead and leave them the fuck alone.

Here's why I say that:

Yep, Saddam, who's still dead, can rest in peace because won't be put on trial, while dead, for killing people, who are still dead.

Yep, Diana, who's still dead, can't rest in the numerous pieces she's in from being cut out of a car, and then cut up in an autopsy, because the British media and the father of Dodi Fayed won't allow them to stay dead. They want to blame someone. Fayed says the queen's husband, Prince Phillip, is to blame for concocting a death plot to kill Diana and Dodi.


It really makes no diffeerence ... it's not like any court in England is going to put Prince Philip on trial. Or extradite him to France for the trail. Fayed's rich, but he's not that rich.

And it won't bring either of them back to life.


They're dead, Jim.

Along with Elvis.

And Tupac. Who keeps putting out albums. But Biggie doesn't. He just haunts South Park.


Those crazy French!

You gotta love European socialism.

Well, not really. But we'll have it here, in America, now that the Democrats are in power in Congress. (No eye rolling - this is not a US government being dumb rant - the Democrats won ... and to the victor go the spoils. This is, however, a France government being dumb rant.)

Apparently, feeding the homeless, at a soup kitchen, in France, is not as easy as having compassion enough to care, a kitchen big enough for cooking pots of soup, and the people and place settings to feed your fellow human who needs a warm meal.

Now you have to be politically correct - and serve food that doesn't offend.

Straight up serious, yo.

The French government has closed numerous soup kitchens for serving pork-based soup on the grounds those helping take care of the hungry are - intentionally - serving pork soup so they can feed homeless people of European heritage - not the homeless from France's growing (5 million+) Muslim and shrinking Jewish populations.

Because Jews and Muslims don't eat pork.

Because pigs are dirty.

Then again, what should we expect from the French? They're all about taking care of their fellow man. As comedian Will Durst said back when East and West Germany got back together, "The French went out an planted trees along all the major roads to Paris so the next invading German army can march in the shade."

Hang Up and Live

For lots of reasons, none of which I can really put a finger on or explain, like Leonard Shelby, I'm not a big fan of the telephone. I have a cell phone because of work; I have a house phone because, well, I'm an adult and I believe it's legally or socially required. Granted, it's VOIP, because I'm a geek, but still, it's a home phone. I have unlimited local and long distance on both the home and cell phone.

And no desire to use either.

The only person I routinely call is my daughter.

But all that aside ... in addition to Seinfeld being responsible for this country's staggering adult attention deficit disorder, I think the cellular telephone is the single worst invention to hit the market.

There are times and places to talk on your phone.

And, more importantly, NOT to talk on your phone.

And I'm not even talking about driving. (Hey, let's get distracted while operating a 10,000 vehicle at a high rate of speed. That's genius!)

And I'm not talking about standing beside someone shouting into their phone while I'm trying to hear a band.

Last night, after work, I stop at my local grocery retailer because I have no food in my apartment. Not unusual, but normally I at least have some consumables. I don't eat much - I had the stomach stapling surgery almost three years ago. I've lost over 100 pounds. I've lost 14 inches off my waistline. I've lost the need for my clothing size to have an X (or two, or three) before the L. I've lost a host of health problems. And I lost my relationship with food. All of which are good things.

But I'm there, getting the few things I do eat on a regular basis - vegetables, cereal (eat it dry, like a bag of chips - healthier and full of fiber!) bananas, some frozen pizza (because it's good!) ... and I go to make my way down the baking aisle because I'm trying to learn how to cook (stop laughing. All of you. Now.) this year.

That was when I realized, again, there are times in life to hang up and live.

If this was a Staples commercial, my Easy Button would disrupt cellular signals.

And no, I wasn't on the phone trying to get off the phone.

There was a smartly dressed woman standing in front of me. She had on the female version of the business suit - the skirt, blouse jacket combo. Accented by one of those cyborg devices growing out of her ear (I know it's bluetooth. My phone supports it. I just think those things look too Star Trek Borg for me to be comfortable with).

She was standing there, in the aisle, talking.

She was not facing the shelves to the left where the noodles are.

She was not facing the shelves to the right where the baking goods are.

She was standing, facing forward, in the center of the aisle.

Beside her buggy.

Blocking what's left of the the aisle.

Why was she standing there talking?

Apparently, moving forward, or backwards, put her in a bad cellular reception zone.

So she just stopped, in the middle of the aisle.

In front of me.

And said, "Can you hear me now? Okay. I'll just stand here for a minute then."

Now if she was talking business or breaking up fight between her kids - I'd be okay with that.


She was discussing details of her life that should not be spoken of in public - let alone in a grocery store.

Details I have no desire to hear.

What was the Carlos Mencia line? "I don't wanna know what goes on down there. Sometimes I eat at that restaurant."

And yeah, she was edible.

So I don't wanna know what goes on down there.

Talking about yeast in the baking aisle is a good thing.

Talking about a yeast infection, however, is not.

So I say excuse me to try to get through. She doesn't move.

So I lean forward and say it again. She. Doesn't. Move.

I make noise with my buggy to alert her gabby ass that someone needs to get beyond her stopping point and out of range of her conversation.

She turns around to glare at me for making noise that apparently disrupted her conversation.

But. Still. Doesn't. Move.

So I turn around and go back the way I came.

Realizing how much I hate cell phones.

And the idiots who don't know where and when to use them, and what to talk about in public on them.


New Years Resolutions?

Not from me.

Last year I used that random internet resolution generator - and with the help of some html and java scripting, by clicking my mouse I resolved to take over the world.

Since you're not all worshipping at my feet and showering me with gifts of voluptuous red-headed women and the finest white ale from Belgium, I obviously have failed. While I could blame the programmers ... I realize that world domination isn't all it's cracked up to be.

So since that didn't work, I decided that was my last attempt at setting unrealistic goals simply because the calendar has changed. Maybe because I'm too lazy to find the page again, or maybe I'm just not in the mood to randomly click until I find one I like.

Or maybe I'm just not all that concerned with resolutions.

That's not to say there aren't things about my life I'd like to change ... just that I don't make resolutions based on a flawed way of measuring time.

We need a metric time system. Something nice, round, modular, not this 60 seconds in a minute; 60 minutes in an hour; 24 hours in a day; 7 days in a week; 28, 29, 30 or 31 days in a month; 12 months in a year thing we have going on. And don't tell me that it's all based on how the planet revolves around the sun. I'm a man of science. The sun revolves around this flat earth we live on.

Sorry, I guess that's my rant for the day.

No, I'm not against setting goals to improve my life ... I just prefer to improve my life in little steps, one day, one hour, or one minute at at time. Flawed as our current time system is.

How do I do it? Well, lots of drugs - either legally prescribed or over-the-counter drugs; or, if those don't work, then illegal, prescribed-to-someone-else or under-the-counter drugs.

No, really ... here's how I do it: I look at the people I like and/or admire and/or respect (there are people I admire and respect I don't like, people I like and admire I don't respect, and so on), see what it is I like and/or admire and/or respect, and see if I can put that trait into my life, my personality, my existence.

That's the only way that works for me. When I see it, I remember it, I try to emulate it. I don't sit around thinking of ways to improve and setting dates to start - I find them, I choose them, I start.

Others, however, continue to make lists of ways to change their lives, and pick the start of a new year as the kickoff point.

And I've read a few lists from a few people ... friends, fellow bloggers, pundits, etc.

But nothing - and the Rock means nothing - is better than this:
Try to avoid staring at the cleavage of the pastor’s 18-year old step daughter at church when you’re serving her communion and she wears a totally low cut blouse with a push-up bra. Oh, did I tell you she’s a redhead too. You know, the whole lead us not into temptation bit, God. Well, I mean, really now. You could help a brother out, here.
His complete list is here. For the record, I don't know the guy, never have talked to him, emailed him or commented on a blog - he's a blog-friend of someone who used to be a real-life friend of mine. She's one of the friends I unmade last year (as mentioned in my 2006 Wrap-Up).

But he has great taste in music.

And he is funny, too.


Random MMA Thoughts

As you may know, I'm a huge mixed-martial arts fan. I started watching UFC after finding a bunch of old shows online, the stumbled upon Pride Fighting Championships - the only real parallel to UFC in the fighting world today.

Pride, based in Japan, is different in that they use a ring, not a cage; and have different rules for different weight classes. They also feature some of the best fighters in the world most UFC fans have never heard of - Takadori Gomi - the best 155 pound fighter in the world, and Fedor Emelianenko, the best heavyweight MMA fighter on the planet.

On December 30th, both Pride and the UFC had year-ending events, Pride Shockwave 2006 and UFC 66.

I've now watched both and have to say PrideFC's Shockwave show was significantly better than UFC 66 - although Keith Jardine's beatdown KO of Forrest Griffin was rather unexpected.

But like always, the hype factor nearly killed my enjoyment of both.

UFC is a three hour show featuring 2 hours of hype. PrideFC is a three hour show featuring 20 minutes of hype. Granted, PrideFC has the ability to edit out the ring entrances, and ring exits, as the North American broadcasts are tape-delayed due to a time difference, but there's a whole lot more fighting in every PrideFC show than any UFC show, live, DVD or tape delay.

But PrideFC is, unfortunately, learning the hype game, too.

In Canada, put two teams on the ice for a hockey match and people will watch. In Japan, put two fighters in a ring, and people will watch. In America, we need our entertainment spoon-fed to us, in digestible doses, mixed with multiple reminders to watch what's next because we all have ADD.

Because of that, PrideFC is really, really, really pushing the return to Las Vegas on February 24th ... and apparently Vanderlia "The Axe Murderer" Silva is fighting. I say apparently because they mentioned that fact BETWEEN EVERY SINGLE FIGHT ... and sometimes during the fights as well. And I love me some Vanderlia, but really, we get it.


Then again, the way PrideFC is bleeding talent right now, who else can they advertise that they know they'll have come the end of February?

But bleeding talent isn't always a bad thing.

Mirco "Cro-Cop" Flipovic and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson signed UFC deals. But are those really big losses? I don't think so. Cro-Cop has shown he can't beat Fedor; Jackson has shown he can't beat Silva. So essentially, stay in Japan as the second-best guy in your weight class or give the UFC a try? This will not only create more opportunity for the two of them, but for give the UFC new matches to try, and free up the second spot in Pride for new shoes to fill.

Perhap's Pride's biggest loss could be Fedor Emelianenko - the current heavyweight champ - who has signed to fight with Bodog. Should he lose the Pride belt, and fight only for the up and coming Bodog, on the surface, that's a huge hole to fill.

But is it really? No. First, he's beaten everyone but Josh Barnett. Everyone.

Second, Emelianenko looked lackluster in his defense against Mark Hunt at Shockwave 2006. Granted, Hunt - a K1 veteran who has perhaps the hardest head since Cabbage "My head is filled with cement and junk" Carerra - had just seven MMA fights coming into the bout, but Hunt looked significantly better on the ground since his loss to Josh "The Baby Faced Assassin" Barnett in the semi-finals of the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix and nearly submitted the champ. In fact, it wasn't until about halfway through the opening 10-minute round that Emelianenko came to life - after he was bleeding from the nose; after Hunt took him down, twice, and after Hunt nearly submitted him. It was not the same Fedor who demolished the field in years past.

Now for the UFC show - I'll admit to fast-forwarding through the hype and just watching the fights ... and the fights were good, for the most part. Nothing as mind-numbing as the Tim Sylvia / Jeff Monson five-round snoozefest; but nothing as spectacular as Rich Franklin being demolished by Anderson Silvia or the (well-deserved) beatdown Matt Hughes received from Georges St. Pierre, either.

As I said, Griffin getting KTFO'ed was quite unexpected. Tito losing (again) to Chuck Liddell was in the cards.

But the UFC hype of Cro-Cop was legendary. But they're giving him a total bag of pucks to fight in his first UFC battle. Granted, he'll need that to get used to fighting in the cage, but Eddie Friggin Sanchez? Cro-Cop gets Cake-Walk.

The most disappointing factor? Someone as good as Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is on the mic - and he can cut some killer promos - he was nowhere near one.

That'll leave a mark. Especially with GSP out for his fight against Matt Serra.

Until next month's MMA update .... peace, love and elbows.


Now that's funny

So Saturday, I'm in Austintown, sitting at Sheetz pumping gas in Icey before heading down to Columbus for the awesome X-Rated Cowboys / Joe Oestreich / Ryan Smith show (separate blog with photos to follow).

As I'm standing there facing the front of Sheetz, I see a woman walk out of the store, walk to the parking area, open a car door, get in the car, and then jump out of the same car.

Very fast.

With a shocked look on her face.

She then looks at the car and realizes it's not her car.

Her car is parked next to the car she just got in - and out of.

For the record, they were the exact identical car:

Same year.

Same make.

Same mode.

Same color.

So the mistake would have been an easy one for anyone to make.

As she stood there, looking kind of bewildered, she looked at me and realized I saw the whole thing.

She pointed at her car, pointed at the other car, shrugged her shoulders, and we both had a good laugh.

While I've not gotten into someone else's car ... I have stood beside a car that looked like mine (white escort) trying to open it with my key wondering what was wrong with the lock before realizing it was the wrong car.

I did have someone hop into my car once at a gas station thinking it was a friend of his.

He was nearly punched out, but that's another story in the "Wrong Place Wrong Time" department.

Like the guy who came into an apartment I was renting - with a key - looking for Jim.

All he saw was the rifling on the inside of the barrel of my 9mm pressed to his eye as he walked up the steps.

He soon realized Jim didn't live there anymore. And he left the key behind.