Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mother of Pearl 5" x 7" Frame

A little whole ago there was a short discussion on Liz's blog about gift registries. On-line gift registries are great. My nephew is getting married three weeks from today. (I can say "my nephew" because I have only the one, but there's a fifty-fifty chance that soon I will have another.) He and his fiance have on-line registries with two national chain stores. I just sat here and in a few minutes perused both lists, saw what had already been bought for them, and made my purchase, to be delivered to my door, hopefully before three weeks have passed. What could be cooler than that?

The only thing that bothers me (a little) is that as items are selected from the lists, they are marked as "fulfilled." So my nephew and his fiance can log on at any time and see what they're getting for wedding gifts. They just don't know who they're getting what from. Shouldn't a wedding gift be, well, a surprise? That took some of the edge off the experience.

The other thing about public gift registries is that they tell you something about the people receiving the gifts. For example, exactly why do my nephew and his fiance want a poker card table that converts for blackjack?

Anyway, RJ and Hilary, the Mother of Pearl 5" x 7" Picture Frame that you already know you're going to get? It'll be from me.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Chariot of Fire

Last night I was coming home from work late. Well, okay, at my usual hour. Which is late. There's a four-way-stop at an intersection on a busy street that so needs to be a traffic light. Cars back up scores deep waiting for their turn to get through. But by the time I'm heading home, it's usually clear.

Not last night. I was stuck blocks from the stop sign. Creep forward. Stop. Creep forward. Stop. Creep... well, you get the idea. The car ahead of me had really dark window tinting -- too dark for me to see through -- but it looked like the next vehicle beyond that was a motorcycle. I could only see around the left side of the car ahead of me, but... no... it couldn't be. It looked like no one was riding the motorcycle.

My curiosity piqued, and with after all nothing better to do, I peered around the car ahead of me as best I could. Was it a sidecar attached to a motorcycle? I could see a pannier on the left side. Who puts panniers on a sidecar? And I was pretty sure that was the gas tank. Yes, I was sure of it... it was a riderless motorcycle!

And then the riderless motorcycle turned on a street before we got to the stopsign, and this was the deal: There was indeed a sidecar, but it was attached to the right, not the left, of the motorcycle. And it wasn't low and aerodynamic, like a normal sidecar. It was obviously homemade, and it looked like nothing so much as a Roman chariot. Handlebars had been attached to the front of the "chariot" to allow the motorcycle to be controlled, and there, in the chariot itself, driving the motorcycle, was...

...are you ready?

A guy in a wheelchair.

How great is that!

He was a big guy wearing a black leather vest and a bandana over his head (Florida doesn't have a helmet law). In a wheelchair. Cruising down the street. He wasn't going to let a litle thing like paraplegia slow him down!

I would have gone after him and taken pictures, but I couldn't. It would have made me late for an appointment that I didn't dare miss. But it made my evening.


Thursday, February 23, 2006


...are a women's fashion trend that I vividly hope will come to a quick, abrupt, and even violent end. Like, maybe, next Tuesday. Is it possible for women to make themselves look any more ridiculous?

I think not.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Founding Fathers, version 2.0

This is a quote from an article written by by Hank Pellissier, dated February 16, 2004, and available at

Why was big George [Washington] chasing foxes on Sunday morning, instead of praying at church like his current smaller namesake in the White House? "Washington -- like many original patriots -- was not a believer," says Dr. Philip Schoenberg, a history professor at New York's College of Aeronautics and proprietor of a Web site called "The Presidential Expert." It is ironic that religion has deeply wormed its way into a government largely designed by agnostics.

These are some quotes from an article written by Ken Lynn, available at

The discussion over Sunday mail began in Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1809. The town postmaster, Hugh Wylie, followed the commonly practiced, though unofficial, custom of sorting the mail and opening his post office on Sundays so that churchgoers from nearby villages could pick up their mail after church services. Wylie, an elder in the local Presbyterian church, was expelled from the church for this outlandish violation of the Sabbath. U.S. Postmaster General Gideon Granger responded in 1810 by having Congress pass federal legislation governing all 2,300 post offices, declaring that U.S. mail would be moved seven days per week, and all post offices that received mail had to be opened at least one hour each day.

Petitions immediately began arriving in Congress from religious groups asking for the law to be repealed. By 1815, more than one hundred petitions had been received urging repeal. Sounding remarkably similar to the Christian right of today, one petition summed up opposition to Sunday mail as follows: "our government is a Christian government, a government formed and established by Christians and therefore, bound by the word of God, not at liberty to contravene His law, nor act irrespectively of the obligations we owe to Him."


In 1828, the General Union for the Promotion of the Christian Sabbath (GUPCS) was formed in new York City. This organization launched a new and much broader Congressional petition campaign to repeal the 1810 Postal Act. Members of GUPCS had to pledge to boycott all businesses that operated on Sunday. After a call for petitions went out, 467 petitions arrived in Congress by 1829 (and more than 900 by May 1831). Many petitions again mistakenly claimed America was founded as a Christian nation.

Defenders of Sunday mail called attention to the secular Constitution as the blueprint for the federal government. Some called the campaign of the General Union "the first step of a Christian party plan to seize control of the national government." In 1830, three states filed petitions with Congress opposing repeal of the 1810 law. One of the three state petitioners, Indiana, strongly endorsed the secular ideals of the United States Constitution and concluded its petition with words as meaningful today as in 1830:

"There are no doctrines or observances inculcated by the Christian religion which require the arm of civil power either to enforce or sustain them; we consider every connection between church and state at all times dangerous to civil and religious liberty."


The story of the "Sunday mail" is noteworthy because it demonstrates that even fifty years after the founding of our nation a powerful national consensus existed over the absolutely secular nature of our Constitution and our federal government.

As those of the Christian right have so mistakenly advanced, the United States was not founded as a Christian nation which was then eroded by secularist and liberals; in fact, just the opposite is true. Our great nation was founded by the adoption of an utterly secular Constitution and the nation has endured erosion as "God" first appeared on U.S. currency in 1863, entered the postal service in 1912, the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, and potentially could enter the Constitution itself....

The religuous right has rewritten the beliefs of the Founding Fathers to suit their agenda. Or maybe the religuous right are simply uneducated and ignorant. That seems more likely. But what's interesting to me is that I came across these two related quotes while I was looking for information on two completely unrelated subjects: George Washington's dogs, and the history of Sunday mail delivery.

Funny how that works....

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Friday, February 17, 2006

And just who did kill President Kennedy, anyway?

I hate jeans. The clothing, that is, not girls named Jean. Or even guys named Jean. No, I just hate the pants made out of tent canvas. I live in Florida. It gets hot here. And jeans are heavy, thick, and bulky. So not-Florida. I prefer shorts. Actually I prefer no clothes at all, but given that I live in a garmented society, I prefer shorts. If shorts are not appropriate then I like pants with pleats at the waist. Something loose and light.

That said, sometimes it does get cold here, and then there are those occasional social situations where jeans are the only acceptable attire. So... I have to own a pair. And they do get faded and raggedy over time. So... once every so-many years I have to shop for a new pair.

That time came around this past winter.

I hate shopping for jeans. Actually, I hate shopping for clothes of any kind. When I go clothes shopping I start out miserable, because I know how awful it's going to be, and then with each thing I try on that doesn't work out I get more frustrated and discouraged so that after a while -- like, two items -- I could just cry. Except, of course, Guys Don't Cry. We learn that in Guy School.

But as much as I hate shopping for clothes, I really hate shopping for jeans. Me, I like my jeans baggy. Not waistband-at-scrotum-level-baggy, but comfortable-baggy. But, you know what it is, is the main problem is that jeans aren't designed to be worn by human beings. They're designed to be worn by Space Aliens. Space Aliens who don't mind having a double-folded double-stitched seam of tent canvas stuffed up their butt cracks. That's the main problem.

So anyway I went on three shopping expeditions and tried on scores of pairs of jeans. I'm not exaggerating. And, finally, among all the scores, I found the only pair that were tolerable. Not exactly comfortable, but tolerable. But -- and get this -- they have buttons instead of a zipper for the fly.

A long time ago, all trousers had button flies. Then someone -- a Nobel Laureate, surely -- invented the zipper, and zippers quickly replaced buttons in trouser flies (except in the Navy -- what was up with that, anyway?). Note to Levi Straus (and Co.):

There was a reason for this.

I could probably write a thesis about why zippers replaced buttons in trouser flies. Maybe someday I will. In the meantime, I'll just treat you to the abstract:

Buttons suck. Zippers rule.

I would say I don't know why anyone would buy pants with a button fly, but I can't, because I did. So all I am entitled to do now is complain. The biggest problem is they take so darned long to unbutton. You'd better not have to "go" in a hurry. In fact, you practically have to make an appointment to do your business:

Me (on phone): "I'd like to use urinal three in the second floor men's room at ten tomorrow morning."

Receptionist: "Okay, I've got you down. Please arrive fifteen minutes to fill out paper.. er, unbutton your pants."

And you can pretty much forget about sex. The button fly is as good as a chastity belt. By the time you get your pants unbuttoned, your partner will have grown tired of waitinq, masturbated, and curled up and fallen asleep. In fact, I now suspect that button flies are part of a Conspiracy on the part of the Religious Right to Reduce Teenage Pregnancy.

And you know, it just might work....

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006


At 5:00 this morning I was laying in bed, on my back, with my head turned to the side, waiting for the alarm to go off, when BJ began giving me kisses. She had her muzzle pressed very hard against my lips, so her tongue could only go out a little way, and she was lapping my lips very quickly, very intently, laplaplaplaplaplaplaplaplap. She was so intent she wasn't even taking time to wag her tail. I draped an arm over her back, and she warm and soft. It wasn't until I opened my eyes that I remembered that BJ is gone.

Even then, I felt her curl up against my side, her warm fur on my chest. I was wide awake and I could feel it.

I hope your day-after-Valentine's-Day got off to as loving a start as mine.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Skye's Journey

I know I've been off the air a bit. Last year Judi and I made a trip to pick up a new beagle, and I planned to post an account. The weekend before last was the one-year anniversary of that trip, and I still hadn't done the account, and I felt bad, so that's what I've been doing this past week. If you want to see it, it's here:

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Monday, February 06, 2006

The important things

I don't watch television, and so I missed the Super Bowl yesterday. However, it was a hot topic of conversation on the radio stations on my drive to work this morning. It seems that the diet Pepsi commercial had a diet Coke can for a stunt double, and Jackie Chan had a cameo. And if the Budweiser commercial with the Clydesdale pony didn't tug at your heartstrings, check your pulse, you might be dead. Fabio was in a gondola in Venice. The chimps in the commercial were a big hit. The one where the surgeon kills the bug with the defibrillator paddles was good, too. And the Budweiser one with the streaker was a fave, and so was the FedEx one.

The half-time show lasted for more than a half-hour, which some people think was too long. The main attraction was the Rolling Stones. They sang three songs. ABC had the half-time on five-second delay so they could edit out any Janet-Jackson-like shenanigans, and in fact they did bleep two words out of the Stones's show.

It's a very sad commentary on the state NFL football as an actual sport that I have no idea who won the game.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006


Four middle-aged (younger than me) men were seated in the booth next to mine. The waitress was taking their drink orders:

Waitress: What would you like to drink?

One guy: Diet Pepsi. No, wait, I'm on vacation! I'll have ice tea.

Like, what does the one have to do with the other? Later, she was taking their food orders:

Waitress: That comes with your choice of baked potato, mashed potatoes, french fries, or rice.

Same guy: Do the mashed potatoes have anything in them, like garlic or anything?

Waitress: No. They have the skins in them, but they don't have anything else.

Guy: I'll have mashed potatoes.

Waitress: Would you like those loaded -- butter, sour cream, cheese, chives, and bacon?

Guy: What did I just order?

Very patient waitress: You ordered mashed potatoes.

Guy: I don't want mashed potatoes. Give me a baked potato, plain, nothing on it.

I know I'm always asking the waitress what I just ordered, but it's because I have multiple personalities, and I can never be sure if the personality who inhabited my body five seconds ago may have ordered the seaweed salad. But I thought I was different that way. I hope in this guy's case that the personality who inhabited his body when his food actually arrived wouldn't have preferred french fries. Loaded.


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