Random Thoughts
Archives: 2007, 2006, 2005

NOTE: The following discussions contain some strong opinions. If you don't want to read controversial, personal opinions, please do not read on. I do not like "knee-jerk" liberal or conservative philosophies. I try to be open-minded, but certainly have my own biases. I hate "political correctness" and tend to overreact against those who practice it. - Bill McArthur, aka Hungry Mother (hungrymother) and Computing Doc (computingdoc). I sure do enjoy these blogs. I appreciate these awards. To find our what I'm doing in real life, click here and choose "Current Activities" from the menu bar.

Beach House Sale


12/31/08 comments

New Year's Eves

For a change, I have no plans for tonight as I'm on a vigil for a new grandson or granddaughter, due any day now. In the past, my plans have ranged from the sybaritic to the spartan and from the exotic to the mundane.

I have participated in my fair share of drunken parties where I have been one of the featured drunks. One year, I drank Scotch all night so I could remain fairly sober for driving home (I loath Scotch).

The midnight kiss with a loved one has been a highlight of many New Year's Eves. My wife has been that loved one for almost all of those occasions. On the few others, the kissee was only a passing fancy.

I spent New Year's Eve of 1962 in a jungle outpost in Thailand as a soldier. I've spent three New Year's Eves in Key West, where the conch drops at Sloppy Joe's. I spent a New Year's Eve in South Beach Miami, watching fireworks. One New Year's Eve, I ended up in L. L. Bean's in Freeport, Maine. I had a fantasy of this being a pilgrimage site for outdoorsmen from all over, but the only others in the store were disgruntled clerks. I bought a plastic duck call and went outside to make some noise.

When my kids were little, we used to light a fire and toast the New Year at home with the children. When the kids were older and had their own festivities, my wife and I would go to an evening movie and spend midnight driving home on a very empty I81 between Carlisle and Shippensburg, PA.

Lately, I've been in bed by 10:00 PM. What will tonight bring?


12/29/08 comments

Bowl Games

Here are my picks for the New Year's Day bowl games. I am not a betting man; you will see why.

  • Hall of Fame: Iowa 24 - South Carolina 21
  • Citrus: Georgia 39 - Michigan State 14
  • Gator: Clemson 28 - Nebraska 7
  • Rose: Penn State 49 - USC 35
  • Orange: Virginia Tech 21 - Cincinnati 18


12/26/08 comments

Love Actually

I had seen this chick flick before and would never have thought that I would suffer through is again, but my wife and daughter wanted to see it, so I sat with them and endured it again.

There are actually a couple of funny moments and a bit of titillation in this movie, but I could feel the little bit of testosterone left in my system draining out as the film droned on.

The plot consists of 10 love stories and an embedded look at Titanic, just to sweeten the pot. It is also very Christmassy and has Hugh Grant in it. Enough said?


12/18/08 comments

Landing in the Cold North

About that landing: my plane blew both nose gear tires when it touched down at Atlantic City International airport in a hard rain on Tuesday. We in the plane felt and heard the "flopitty flop" of blown tires right after landing, but didn't know what the problem was until our plane stopped smack in the middle of the intersection of the airport's two runways. This location for our plane shut the airport down. The Captain notified us of the problem and told us that we'd have to sit there until the plane could be towed down the runway a bit.

After a long wait, the plane was slowly towed out of the way of the intersecting runway and then we had to wait for debarkation stairs and vans to transport us to the terminal. It was 41 degrees outside and raining hard as we finally descended and loaded into the vans. We were on the plane for an extra hour and 20 minutes.

The next problem was that our car, that had been sitting for six weeks in a storage lot, got a dead battery after we ate a mid-afternoon snack at Starbucks. Thankfully, the AAA battery truck arrived quickly and gave us a jump.

We couldn't stay in our house because the water and heat were off for the winter, so we stayed in an ocean-front motel in Cape May, which had a great view of a dreary ocean.

We are shivering here in Doylestown, PA and facing six inches of snow tomorrow as well as temperatures in the teens with heavy wind around Christmas.


12/15/08 comments

It's Good to be Santa

I was talked into playing Santa Claus for Saturday night at the annual Christmas party at our trailer park RV resort. I wore my kayaking PFD (life jacket) underneath the Santa suit to provide the proper heft and feel.

I had decided to play Santa the way Alex Karras played Mongo in Blazing Saddles: "Mongo love sheriff Bart." For example, I always referred to myself in the third person: "Santa wants to hug pretty lady."

I was able to hug all of the women at the party and talked the only young, nubile female into sitting on Santa's lap. At that time, I looked over at a nearby table and said, "That's what Santa is talking about!"

Here is a panoramic view of the hall.


12/12/08 comments

Another History Lesson

I've always loved history and hated history courses in high school and college. My history has to be packaged properly for me to enjoy it. Here are some great ways to package history:

Civil War: you can learn that the Old South was good and the Yankees were bad in Gone With The Wind. As a bonus, you can enjoy Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.

A Night to Remember: you can learn that the ship hit an iceberg in Titanic. As a bonus, you can enjoy Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Day That Will Live in Infamy: you can learn that the Japanese bombed our Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor. As a bonus, you can enjoy Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale.

Land Down Under: you can learn that that cattle were raised in the Northern Territories, the "white fellas" were nasty to mixed blood children, and the Japanese bombed Darwin in Australia. As a bonus, you can enjoy Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.

Anybody know where I can sign up for a history course?


12/11/08 comments

Political Corruption

Why do we put up with it? The great state of NJ has the highest property taxes in the country, caused by corruption according to the book Soprano State. We all gripe about the property taxes, but when we hear about former Senator, now Governor, Corzine paying off his girlfriend, who happens to lead a union that NJ has to negotiate with, we just wryly laugh. Where's the outrage?

I think that we expect politicians to be corrupt. In any case, that seems to be what we get. My idea of an ideal politician is a leader who doesn't want the job and has to be brought kicking and screaming to the post. Such a leader will do the job and not devote any time or energy into re-election.

Current politicians, after collecting their bribes, spend the rest of their time and energy to ensure that they are re-elected.

What can we do? Always vote against the incumbent. Set term limits for all posts to one term for life.




12/08/08 comments


I remember one fall afternoon in 1968 when I was a graduate student at Penn State. My wife and I and a couple of friends spent the afternoon in a bar watching USC play Oregon State, matching two great running backs, O.J. Simpson and Earthquake Enyart. It was a close game, but the "juice" ran for 238 yards and USC won. It was this game that convinced me that O.J. was the best college running back ever.

I remember another fall afternoon in 1973 when, on a snow-covered field, O.J. reached a record 2003 yards rushing during the Bills and Jets game.

In 1977, I enjoyed watching him run like the wind in "Roots." I also enjoyed his Detective Nordberg in the "Naked Gun" movies.

In 1991, O.J. was working the sideline during the Los Angeles and Cincinnati game when Bo Jackson was tackled hard at the sideline. O.J. said, right at that time, that it was a very bad injury. In fact, it ultimately ended Bo's career.

In 1994, O.J. destroyed his life.

So sad, so sad.


12/06/08 comments

The Wire

Thanks to Sadcox and Billymac, Blog-O-Sphere buddies, I was introduced to this HBO series on borrowed DVDs. Both of these gentlemen have similar tastes to my own with regard to movies and TV shows, but not music (unless they've been converted to Air Supply). Because of their enthusiasm for "The Wire", I knew that I would love the series, and I did.

I just finished viewing the fifth and final season. There are several concurrent themes in the show, including the city of Baltimore, the war on drugs, racism, politics, education, law enforcement, news media, and the judicial system. Above all, I found the show to be a morality play.

The many characters are richly developed, and by the end we know each of them very well. There are good guys and bad guys and, realistically, most are somewhere in between. The show deeply explores the tragedy of being locked into a destructive lifestyle. For those characters with choices, questions about intentions versus outcomes are plentiful.

I tried to find some heroes and villains. Unequivocally, my candidates for villains are the Greeks who channel drugs into the city ("Re-supply") and mayor Carcetti who sacrificed everything for his personal glory. My candidates for heroes are Cedric Daniels, who remained true to his principles, and Roland 'Prez' Pryzbylewski, who decided to make a difference as a teacher.

More realistically, it's interesting to analyze each character and try to calculate whether there was more good or evil in that character. For example, I would reckon that Jim McNulty was more good than bad, and that Clay Davis was more bad than good.

The tragedies are the failed war on drugs and the hopelessness of those who are doomed to a life of poverty and crime.


12/03/08 comments

Four Christmases - One Lump of Coal

I don't pay much attention to movie reviews unless they're written by people with similar tastes to my own. So I didn't care that this holiday movie wasn't getting rave reviews. Normally, Vince Vaughn acts in movies that I like. Reese Witherspoon occasionally acts in a movie I like, but her presence in the cast doesn't bring me to a theater.

I think what happened in this film is that the producers spent too much money on the cast and had little left over for shooting or editing. So, what you get is a collection of hastily cobbled scenes, some of which are very funny.

I want more from a movie than an occasional laugh. I want a lot of laughs from a comedy and I want a coherent piece of work. The post-production work was the biggest joke of all. As an example of the lousy editing, as the couple drives along the Big Sur, they keep passing by the same scenery, over and over. The other gaffs are much more evident, such as when a family magically appears in a house from one moment to the next.

The best parts of the movie are shown in trailers, so don't waste your time, if you're a man. If you're a woman, you'll find some syrupy scenes to scintillate you, but spare your spouse, sil vous plait.


12/01/08 comments

Cyber Monday

I spent most of the morning today on paying our monthly bills online. Because we have traveled during the winter since 2003, we have arranged to pay, via the Internet, our credit cards, phone bills, electric bill, cable bill, and various non-recurring bills. We have a few bills that are "autopayed" via credit card, but most of them require me to take some action to pay.

I don't usually do online shopping on Cyber Monday because I do most of my online buying for Christmas during October and November. I also try to do some in-store shopping when it gets close to Christmas to take advantage of the last minute sales.

Updates from Key West:

  1. We went on a fishing trip on Captain John's Greyhound V party boat. I caught a good number of fish while my wife sunbathed. We have been fishing on the Greyhound V since 1997.
  2. I went to my first "drag queen" show. Randy Roberts, the performer, did a great job as Cher and then as a generic cabaret diva.
  3. I ran my third Hog Trot 5K race and won a mug by finishing second in my age group (60-69).


11/27 comments

Happy Thankgiving from Key West

I'm spending my third Thanksgiving in Key West. Last night my wife and I enjoyed another fabulous dinner at Blue Heaven.

This morning, I did my usual "run to the sunrise", which gets me to Smathers Beach just in time to see the sun rise over the ocean. I am so thankful that I can still jog (slowly) at my age. It's a great day to be alive.


11/25 comments

Caveat Emptor - A Frustrating Online Shopping Experience

On Tuesday, 11/18, my digital camera died. I've wanted to to get a waterproof camera to take on kayak outings, so I did a bit of online research and decided to buy the Olympus Stylus 1030SW 10.1MP Digital Camera. I checked BestBuy.com and found that I could pick up a camera there to $314, but they only stocked the ugly green model. The best online price I found was on Amazon.com for $289 for the silver model that I wanted.

I've been doing online shopping for as long as it's existed and I've shopped on Amazon.com for as long as it's existed. I have had a very good comfort level with them and I always receive my goods earlier than their shipping estimates.

As the years have passed, Amazon has added more and more partner companies to their network so that they've become a comprehensive shopping source. Even when dealing with the partners, I've had good experiences. So, when I found that my camera purchase would be handled by Beach Camera, I still felt as though I was in good hands.

Since 1999 when I purchased my first digital camera, I've been in the habit of taking photos daily to chronicle my activities and surroundings. I felt very uneasy without my regular camera. I took a couple of photos with my Pocket PC, but I needed to get my new camera ASAP.

I'm always enticed by the free shipping option on Amazon, but I needed this camera soon. I almost selected the "next day" option which said that I'd have the camera on Wednesday, but the "expedited shipping" option looked good enough. It seemed to say that my camera would arrive on Thursday or Friday and I would have the new camera for the weekend. I ordered the camera.

Being anxious to get my new camera, I assiduously tracked the order. On Wednesday the 19th I saw that FedEx was estimating that the camera would arrive on Tuesday the 25th. I paid $22 for the expedited shipping and figured that free shipping would have been just as fast.

I emailed customer service at Beach Camera and got an auto-response indicating that they wouldn't be looking at my email for 24 hours. A few hours later I got the email message:

Please contact our customer service department at 1800-572-3224 ext 2,so that we can be able to further advise in regards to your enquiry.

Customer service was closed for the day, so I had to wait until morning to call. I called Beach Camera customer service around 1:00 PM after waiting all morning to see if the camera package would move from Memphis, TN toward us. I talked with Elie, a customer service representative. He said that he would cancel the current order and get it returned from FedEx. Then, he said, he would reorder the camera, send me an email with the new order information, and ship it overnight to arrive Friday before noon. He took my credit card information.

I never received an email message. However, I saw on the tracking report that the camera package had move to Fort Myers, forty miles to the north, at 1:26 PM. Wow, this guy Elie tweaked the shipping (I thought).

On Friday morning, I saw that the camera package had reached two Naples locations at around 7:30 AM and 8:30 AM. I kept checking the RV resort office all morning to see if the package had arrived. Finally, we went out during the afternoon and returned after 3 PM. I checked the office and found no package. I checked the tracking report. At 12:19 PM, my camera was shipped back from Naples to Beach Camera. I called Beach Camera customer service shortly before 4 PM and found them closed until Monday. I tried to find out about the new order on the Beach Camera website and they website knew nothing about me. I checked my credit card online: two charges of $311. And no camera! I fired off some emails to Beach Camera.

I dug out my very old digital camera from many years ago and got it ready to use for the weekend. I used that old camera on Saturday night and got some pretty lousy photos from it.

On Sunday, during late afternoon, I received an email from Beach Camera with the new order number. I checked the tracking and found that the second camera was due by late afternoon on Monday, 11/24.

On Monday afternoon, the camera arrived. Part of the package was supposed to be an adapter converting a micro-SD card (which I already have) to xD (which the camera uses). The adapter was missing from the package. Monday evening, I drove to Best Buy and purchased an xD card for $39 since they didn't have any of the adapters, even though they sell the camera.

What a lousy shopping experience!


11/21 comments

No Newts!

Previously, I'd thought that Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh were just kindred A-holes who vented their stream of stupidity in a fairly harmless manner, largely ignored like the boy who cried "Wolf." However, Newt has elevated himself to a Chief Muckety-Muck A-Hole with his recent pronouncement, as reported on Politics After 50:

GINGRICH: Look, I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion. And I think if you believe in historic Christianity, you have to confront the fact. And, frank -- for that matter, if you believe in the historic version of Islam or the historic version of Judaism, you have to confront the reality that these secular extremists are determined to impose on you acceptance of a series of values that are antithetical, they're the opposite, of what you're taught in Sunday school.

In commemoration of this kind of idiocy, I designed a T-shirt which I will have made and will wear proudly.


11/18 comments

Ten Cent Tipsy Arrives in Naples

Although I like Air Supply, occasionally cross-dress for Halloween, and think that anyone who says "I'm not gay" is probably gay, I'm not gay.

Nevertheless, somehow I found myself visiting a blog written by a toy bear and taking part in a contest, which I won, to name a different toy bear. I won the contest with the name "Ten Cent Tipsy", based on the bear's biography which indicated that he was the mate on the ship "Marches of Dime", had trouble keeping his balance on board, was a bad tipper and sometimes drank too much. I learned from another blog that TenCee was heading my way to Florida.

He arrived today and, at the same time, my camera got fatally ill and could only take pictures that had bad colors, were grainy, or both. I put TenCee to work helping me to order a new camera online, after he had read my latest blog posting.

I'm not gay, even though I have a feminine Blog-O-Sphere handle, and my wife has to check my browser history to check the genre of the porn sites I use visit.


11/17 comments

Waiting for the Cable Guy

I hate being help captive. I'm talking about waiting in doctor's offices, sitting in traffic jams, and waiting for the cable guy.

On Friday, the cable guy was supposed to come between 1 PM and 5 PM to bring us a cable modem and a HD DVR box with HBO. We had ordered the Internet service on Wednesday and then added the rest on Thursday when we remembered that we wanted to have the same kind of RV Theater system in Naples as we did with our home theater system back in NJ. The cable guy finally arrived at 8:30 PM, after holding us captive all afternoon. He claimed that he had the wrong phone number. Also, he only had the cable modem. He called the office and found out about the rest of the order and left us with a digital cable box. He said that Comcast would call on Saturday morning.

At noon on Saturday, I called Comcast and apprised them of the situation. They put me in for a Sunday morning installation between 7 AM and noon. At 12:15 PM, after being a captive all morning, I called Comcast. They said that the cable guy had called me, but since I had basically been holding the phone in my hand all morning, I knew better. Meanwhile I assembled the other components of the RV Theater: our receiver and DVD player from home. The other component was our new 26" HDTV which I had dropped around 5 feet onto the floor, but that's another story*. The cable guy called at 3:30 PM with not much of an idea about how to find our campsite. I told him that I'd walk to the road to meet him, and I did. I rode with him back to the rig and he and I installed the HD DVR box into the system. We finally had our RV Theater.

The only thing I don't like about the system is that the Comcast software (guides, menus, and tuner switching) is far superior in our NJ version than is that which we've found in DE, GA, and here in FL. It's pretty good though.

*We had set up the TV in our loft and hooked it up to the basic cable that the campground provides, when we discovered that the side-to-side level of the RV was too far slanted due to a hole under the left rear wheels. I saw that I could simply put some of my leveling boards behind the wheels and back up a couple of feet to solve the problem. Even though we were connected to electricity, sewer, and cable at that point, I saw that I could move a couple of feet with no problem to the connections. Our new TV replaced a smaller TV that was attached to the RV wall and the new TV sits on a small base on the somewhat soft surface of the loft. Without thinking, I just backed up a couple of feet and hit the brake. I heard a loud crash behind me as the TV tumbled off of the loft and crashed to the floor. It destroyed its power cord and yanked the cable connector out of its back as it fell. It also put a small hole in our screen door and a dent on the inside of our door. After rediscovering that Best Buy won't help with broken TVs that it has sold, we turned it in to a TV repair guy in Naples. He called on Thursday to tell us that the tuner was broken into small pieces, but the TV worked on other than coax input. The solution, he said, was to get a cable box. We picked up the TV and called Comcast to add the box to our order.


11/14 comments

Beach Day

The high temperature for today in Naples (Florida) is forecast to be 88 degrees, so I went on a thong hunt. My wife, who is very good at scoping the babes for me (see this shot from Spain in 2003 to see how good she is), was there with me for a 5 mile beach walk.

We didn't spot any thongs or topless fashions, but we did see this, this, and this. It can only get better.


11//08 comments

An Unexpected Surprise

There I was, dining out with a couple of grandkids at a very nice Italian restaurant in the Atlanta area, when I looked at the wall just down from our table and saw this.

I flashed back to 1957, when I was in my prime, as a strapping 17 year old. I remember how I loved Sophia Loren from afar and how her dripping wet scene in Boy on a Dolphin made such an impression on me.

I was snapped back to reality when my 3 year old granddaughter said, "Granddad, why are you staring and drooling?" Why indeed?


11/08/08 comments

New Web Host

I inherited a dedicated server when a large ecommerce project my company was working on folded. This was several years ago when having a Linux server on the Internet was a good deal for $99 per month. I know just enough Linux to administer a server, if things don't get too gnarly.

Over time, I migrated 8 of my personal websites to the dedicated server and enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of having complete control over the entire computer. As time went on, I knew that there were cheaper alternatives, but I stuck with the server because it was the easiest course of action (no action). A couple of days ago, my server vendor notified me that I had a month to change the IP of the machine, and by the way, the server is obsolete anyway, or upgrade to a new server and transfer the websites, domain names, and databases to the new server.

I challenged technical support about the amount of work it would cost me, thinking that they would volunteer to mirror my old server on the new one. They simply agreed with me that I was in for some work. I decided that, if I have to migrate to a new environment, I might as well find a cheaper one.

I did some research and found a web host that would support my websites, domain names, email addresses, and databases for under $15 per month. Although I don't have a dedicated server, I have similar flexibility. This blog and my other websites are now running on the new host. I spent about 12 hours on the project and will save a lot of money.


11/05/08 comments

After Thoughts

1. Congrats to the best run campaign I've ever seen. It will be studied for a long time.

2. McCain didn't know what he could've done differently:

a. You should have just pretended to be on the dark side, instead of selling your soul to get the republican nomination.

b. You should've said that you were a master of Economics.

c. You should've said that the Iraq War was a mistake from the beginning and you would move to end it ASAP.

d. You should've picked a moderate woman from the East Coast for your VP.

e. You should've campaigned positively in the center.

f. You should've been the old John McCain.

3. Even if McCain had done all of #2, I'm so mad at the republicans for f-ing up our country, I wouldn't have voted for him anyway - but he would have won.

4. Who will the democrats blame for their failures this time?


11/03/08 comments

A Bit of Culture

To distract myself from the tension of Election Day Eve, I decided to indulge in some cultural activities:

1. I went to see Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I knew I would like the confluence of the work of Kevin and Seth Rogan and I was not at all disappointed. I can't wait for the DVD to come out to check out the special features, especially the commentaries. The movie is filled with the smart wit of Kevin Smith, carried out by a great cast. No spoilers here, except for the "Dutch Rudder." Go see it.

2. I read the book, The Alphabet of Manliness. I understand myself much better now.

3. I completed the USA Today crossword puzzle.

What do you mean, dumbing down?


10/31/08 comments


One of the perks of Grandparenthood is being able to attend the grandkids Halloween parties at their daycares. This year, we were in position to enjoy that perk in the Atlanta suburbs with a couple of our grandkids.

We started the morning by dropping the kids at daycare. Then we went to the nearby Starbucks and drank expensive espresso drinks and read a couple of newspapers. It's great not to have a job, so the whole day is free! Then, we went back to daycare to watch the kids' parades (pic1, video1, pic2, video2) and the beginnings of their parties before we sneaked away to spend the rest of the day in indolence.


10/28/08 comments

Toys Tools for the Road

I just finished up two days of high speed driving from NJ to the Atlanta, GA greater redneck area. I not only keep up with traffic in my 24 foot class C RV, but I generally lead the pack down the road. My wife, the putative navigator does a lot of napping and occasionally wakes up and, rubbing her eyes, says, "What state are we in?"

To help me with my navigation, I'm now using my third generation of vehicle GPS, a Garmin Nuvi 760. I have my Pocket PC on a little Bluetooth network with the GPS for hands-free phoning. As an unexpected bonus, the GPS uploaded my whole phonebook, so the GPS can essentially be the phone. I also subscribed for a year of MSN Direct so that I can make use of its services, such as gas prices of nearby stations.

I have three other Garmin GPS, an eTrex Vista and two GPS watches. The whole family is compatible with my MapSource Mapping CDs and software which allows for easy development of waypoints and routes. For this trip, I wanted to go the easiest way for driving an RV instead of the shortest way. For example, an RV cannot go through any of the Baltimore tunnels and must go over the Key Bridge. I went that way last spring and wasn't happy with my blood pressure around Baltimore and Washington D.C.

My chosen route is to go over the Delaware River on the Commodore Barry Bridge, up I95 a bit to the "Blue Route" I476 to the Schuykill Expressway I76 to the PA Turnpike to Carlisle, over US 11 for a mile and then south on I81 to I77S to I85S, then off on US 129 through Gainsville, GA, and then to our destination. So, why do I need a GPS? To tell me where the entrances and exits are and whether they're on the left or right.

I used my mapping software on my laptop to set waypoints that ensured that my route would be followed, and then downloaded the waypoints to the GPS. I could have set up the waypoints directly on the GPS, but the PC interface is much more convenient and faster. On the GPS, I grouped the waypoints into a route. Then, all I had to do was to tell the GPS to follow that route.

The voice that came with my GPS sounded like Hillary in a bad mood, and I don't take directions from a male voice, so I downloaded an Aussie female voice. That Sheila made me feel like I was back in a watering hole down under. I imagined her looking like Daisy Duke. Yee-Haw!


10/25/08 comments

Early Picks for 2012

I'm getting bored with the 2008 Presidential election and I've already voted, so my mind has wandered to the 2012 race. Here are my early picks and odds for 2012. Call your bookie today.

Far Right Religious Nut Wing of the Republican Party: Palin/Huckleberry (1:3)

Analysis: Mitt made a strong reach for the furthest right nuttiest speech at the 2008 Republican Convention, but enough of the party remember that he was the socialist governor of Massachusetts. Campaign manager: Karl Rove.

Far Left Communist Wing of the Democratic Party: Obama/Clinton (1:2)

Analysis: Joe Biden has already said that Hillary is a better choice for VP, so this one is a natural. Campaign Manager: Dennis Kucinich.

Centrist Wing of the Bicoastal Party: Bloomberg/Schwarzenegger (1:1)

Analysis: Bloomberg figured out how to finagle a third term as the country's mayor, so it should be easy for Ahnold to get around his Constitutional bar on running for VP. Campaign Manager: Christie Whitman.

Chaotic Wing of the Matter-Antimatter Party: Pelosi/Limbaugh (0:0)

Analysis: This interesting combination of highly polarizing opposites is the brainchild of the Co-Campaign Managers: James Carville and Mary Matalin.


10/23/08 comments

Heading South

My wife and I are heading down into Red State territory for the winter. We leave on Monday and will head the RV toward our winter headquarters in Naples, FL. We have a "That One 08" sticker on the back window which might draw some comments, but hopefully no stones. We will be stopping over in the Atlanta area for a few days on the way to Florida, so we'll be able to get the vibes from the local crackers down there.

It will be interesting to find out how the market crash has affected the retirees down at our RV Resort. The housing situation was bleak in Naples when we were there the past two winters and can only be worse now.

My one regret about leaving at this time of year is that the Striped Bass season is just getting underway. Oh well, there are fish to catch in Florida, too.


10/20/08 comments

Socialized Medicine

I grew up in a family dominated by a very Republican father. He graduated from Penn State as an electrical engineer in 1929 and couldn't get a job in his field. So he moved from his home in Altoona, PA and headed for the Big Apple. He set up an oil recycling business under the Brooklyn Bridge and weathered the depression. I remember him speaking with disdain about FDR and his socialist ways.

I always thought that socialized medicine was a very un-American idea. I had very good medical insurance from my college teaching job and, after 27 years, I was able to retire with a robust Blue Shield policy that has done well for my wife and I since I retired in 1996.

Although I've been happy with my health insurance, I've become increasingly unhappy with the state of medical care in this country. Since I have good insurance, doctors are very happy to perform in-office procedures and any kind of testing: x-rays, MRIs, blood work, and ultrasound scans. However, most meetings with doctors are very brief encounters with someone too busy to really know anything about me. It seems like the main focus of energy has to do with patient billing.

In the last year or so, I've become increasingly aware of the plight of many of my friends. One couple who live nearby have lousy insurance and therefore don't get the tests that they need to diagnose some severe medical conditions that they have. One friend who's a chef only gets 10% of his medical insurance paid by his employer and just had a monthly increase from $400 to $500 on his premium. An artist friend who owns a small gallery cannot afford insurance and therefore has neglected his teeth for years. His wife has struggled with cancer for the past year and she has had to go on charity for her treatment. Meanwhile, that couple will become homeless next week and he can't afford to pay the rent for his gallery. Another friend is locked into a bad job situation because he can't afford to give up his medical benefits.

The other day, we got a bill from a lab for a recent blood test for my wife. Normally, we don't see these bills because our insurance just picks them up, but do to a SNAFU, we saw this one: $670 for a few blood tests. How could someone without insurance afford this kind of charge?

Well, anyway, the U.S. has great medical service, don't we? According to this study by the World Health Organization, the U.S. ranks 37th in the world for the quality of its health system, just below Costa Rico and just above Slovenia.

Is it any wonder that a market-driven health system will find billing to be the most important element in health care? A year ago I helped a neighbor to try to fathom all of the options of Medicare part D prescription drug coverage. When I was finished with my research I was convinced that the main idea of the program is to make some companies rich by obfuscating their coverage rules.

I've concluded that socialized medicine in America would be a big step toward improvement of our health care. Does that make me a dirty communist bastard or just a person finally coming to his senses?


10/17/08 comments

Negative Attack Ads

Sadcox came up with a brilliant idea in a recent posting: put together an attack ad on yourself based on your past blog postings. So I'm going to imagine that I'm in a debate with Sarah Palin where she's making negative attacks on me, citing some of my blog posts, and I'm going to try to defend myself.

Sarah: Hungry Mother, you're a godless sort. You're anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, anti-Buddhist, and anti-Mormon. You said that here on August 15, 2005.

Me: You've got it wrong, honey. I railed against organized religion, not religion.

Sarah: Whatever. You're obviously against home and family with your approval of gay sex in your movie review here on January 23, 2006 and gay marriage here on June, 6, 2006. You even admitted that you are gay here on April 1st of this year.

Me: I have a number of gay friends and acquaintances, whose intellects and political beliefs are far superior to yours. I think that sexual orientation is biological and cannot be viewed morally. As far as home and family values, look to yourself first before casting a stone in my general direction.

Sarah: That was a pretty gay response. You are certainly a lousy predictor of sports results as shown by your basketball picks here on March 31, 2006. As a hockey mom and wife of a snow machine champ, I have no respect for someone with no sense of sports.

Me: You have me there, babe. I am terrible at picking sports results. In a football pool, I usually get under 50% right and could do better flipping a coin.

Sarah: You betcha I got ya. Do you realize that you didn't even accomplish one of your goals for 2008 that you set here on October 17, 2007? How could anyone take any of your recommendations seriously when you can't accomplish goals?

Me: You got me again, cutie, but I remember something about the reach exceeding the grasp as being worthwhile.

Sarah: I guess it's OK for a poetry reading elitist like you, Hungry, but for Joe Six-Packs, walkin the walk is the important thing. Another example of your elitism is your putting down those of us common folk that can't do higher math that some of you intellectuals waste your time on. You talked about that here on November 4, 2007 and here on November 16, 2007.

Me: Sometimes, foxy, I think that some kinds of ignorance should be a crime.

Sarah: Well, you'll never be in charge. I'm thinking about banning from my state that nasty porno film by your favorite director Kevin Smith. You talked about that dirty director here on December 12, 2007.

Me: I love the Kevin, cupcake. Ask the First Dude if he knows your friend Jenna Jameson, and then Google her name, if you know what that means.

Sarah: I know what "her name" means, Mother! Finally, you show gender bias in your discussion of movies that us women love, like when you talked about "Mama Mia" here on October 5th and "Atonement" here on January 17th.

Me: Nolo contendere, sweetheart, if you know what I mean.

Sarah: I don't, and I'm proud of it.

Well, I think I lost the debate, but I'm not sorry for any of my cited postings. I'm not sure that Sadcox's good idea is a meme, but you might enjoy trying it yourself.


10/14/08 comments

Great Weekend

Warm sunny days were the rule over the past weekend. I spent a lot of time barefoot on the beach. We had a nice visit with three of our grandkids and their parents. It's so much fun watching them grow and go home. I saw an awesome moonset this morning.

I really enjoyed Penn State's victory and Notre Dame's loss on Saturday. ("My favorite teams are Penn State and whoever is playing Notre Dame" works well here.) Why do I like Penn State? My father graduated from there in 1929. My older brother graduated from there in 1959. My younger brother and sister both attended there in the 60s. I received a Ph.D. from there in 1969. My son drank beer there for two terms in 1989. Why do I hate Notre Dame? Two reasons: Ara Parsegian, their coach, going for the tie against Michigan State in 1966; and, the special status that they have, and haven't earned, in the BCS.

But the highlight of the weekend was the virginal and telepathic Sookie finally showing the goods in HBO's "True Blood." We've seen the character's brother Jason's bare butt more times than I need (zero, by the way), but Sunday night was a first baring for Sookie. I don't know if sex with a vampire erases virginity, but Sookie's virginal status might have changed.


10/10/08 comments

Hate Speech

Our local weekly newspaper, Cape May County Herald, has a large section called "Spout Off", which allows people to publish anonymous comments. There are a number of these "spouts" that consist of the following:

Barack Hussein Obama. 'Nuff said.

It really pisses me off that the paper will print that garbage. I wrote a post in a very prestigious blog concerning the situation, but I felt that more action was necessary. Since I don't know who the anonymous spouters are, I can't give them the beatdowns they deserve, so I wrote the following letter to the editor of the paper:

Editor: I am very disappointed to see you publishing hate spouts from some very ignorant people. It is no crime to be ignorant, or even stupid, but hate speech is actually a crime in many countries (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech). Although I agree with those who feel that our First Amendment supersedes any criminality for hate speech, I think that a newspaper can set some rules for appropriate behavior of those who write anything that will appear in that journal. I find the Herald to be a very useful weekly newspaper for Cape May County and hope that it will hold a higher standard for its contents.

I know that this will have no effect, but I really do feel better. Next time I go in Wal-Mart, I will fart in their general direction (movie reference).


10/08/08 comments

The Horror of the Dark Side

The words I remember best from one of my favorite movies, Apocalypse Now, is the bloated Marlon Brando, as Kurtz, saying, "The horror. The horror." This was the tormented cry of someone who had lost his soul by crossing to the dark side. I have also enjoyed reading the book, Heart of Darkness, which was the thematic inspiration for the movie.

Last night, I watched the documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, which I had DVRed earlier. My wife spent the whole viewing time yelling at the TV, while I just lay on the couch dumbstruck. I had known bits and pieces of the whole story, but it finally all came together in a mosaic of evil. I remembered back to 1961 when in Army basic training I learned the Code of Conduct and about the Geneva Convention. I assumed that we would treat POWs in the same manner as we expected to be treated. I was and am sick at heart knowing what we are doing and have done with our prisoners. No wonder I have been ashamed to be known as an American when I visit another country. I have felt this way since 2003.

A while ago, I formulated my definitions of Republicans and Democrats. I have revised my definitions:

Democrat (rich): someone who wants to give away someone else's money
Democrat (poor): someone who wants to take someone else's money
Republican: someone who wants to keep their money and will cross to the dark side to do it

In Taxi to the Dark Side, John McCain looked pretty good when he fought the administration on the torture issue, but when he decided to run for President, he crossed to the dark side and voted for the Military Commission Act of 2006.

I finally understand the Star Wars saga. The current members of the Sith are Cheney and Bush (who is the Darth Vader character). John McCain is the wannabe Sith member waiting in the wings. The Jedi Knights are we, the American voters. I am ready to wield the force as soon as my absentee ballot arrives in the mail.

I might lose a little money, but I'll keep my soul.


10/07/08 comments


Is there anyone in the U.S. that can look at things without filtering them through political filters? Diogenes spent his life searching for an honest man; I'm searching for an objective person.

I've been listening to people talk about Obama and his connection with William Ayers. The first thing I wanted was some objective information about Ayers and then some objective information about Obama's connection with the man.

From what I've gathered, Bill Ayers was a member of the Weatherman organization, later called the Weather Underground. He wrote a memoir called Fugitive Days, describing his early life and time in hiding. A documentary film was produced in 2003, which purports to be objective about the Weather Underground. I remember those radical days very well. I had served in the Army from 1961 to 1964, spending a year in Thailand while 20,000 American "advisors" were in Vietnam. I knew that the U.S. was engaged in Southeast Asia because of the Domino Theory, espoused by John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower's Secretary of State. The U.S. and Thailand were in an alliance known as SEATO, an asian counterpart to the european NATO. My Army unit of construction engineers built a road, ammo dump, and a storage depot for tanks and other military vehicles. The strategy was that, if enemy troops swarmed into Thailand from Laos, SEATO troops would be flown in and equipped from the depot to defend the country. Bill Ayers had a very different view of the world. Objectively, he went to war against the U.S. A Time magazine article states:

On March 6, 1970, several Weatherman gathered in the basement of four-story Greenwich Village townhouse, preparing for an upcoming dynamite attack on an officer's dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Due to an improperly attached wire, the townhouse exploded. Three Weathermen were killed, including Ayers' then-girlfriend Diana Oughton. Over the next few months the rest of the organization went into hiding.

It's a little hard for me to be objective about blowing up things at Fort Dix since I was stationed there in an MP battalion from January to September of 1964. But objectively speaking, Bill Ayers was a terrorist.

I find it hard to believe that Bill Ayers is a faculty member at the University of Illinois in Chicago. If I were a taxpayer in Illinois, I would be furious.

Next, what were Obama's links to Bill Ayers? Last night, Anderson Cooper talked about it on his CNN show. At least, Obama was connected more deeply to Bill Ayers than Obama has admitted. I think Obama and his campaign better have full disclosure on this issue before my absentee ballot arrives.

When I was discussing this stuff with my wife yesterday while we were walking, I posed this question:

Is it more evil to bomb an abortion clinic or a draft board office?

It seems as though it takes objectivity to answer that both acts are equally evil.


10/05/08 comments

Mama Mia

We went to a great wedding between a friend and the son of another friend on Saturday. The wedding was held in a famous old church in this area and was a mercifully short service. The day was perfectly gorgeous and made me want to be fishing instead of in church.

The reception was held in the Town Bank Fire Hall where I'm used to sitting in sweaty running togs after our annual Coombs/Douglass Memorial Bay Run. It was very different to be in the hall with its wedding decorations and people wearing more than tank tops and shorts.

The DJs were fabulous and had the best dancing mix that I've ever experienced at a wedding. My wife and I danced for most of the evening. At one point, late in the evening, our friend the bride was located in the middle of a circle of mostly women on the dance floor as "Dancing Queen" played. I found myself singing and dancing with the bride to this song that normally makes me a bit nauseous. Here is my brief review of the film from my online journal from the week of July 21, 2008:

After lunch, we went to Rio Grande to see the chick flick "Mama Mia", which proved that Pierce Brosnan can't sing. Bill endured the painful movie with his usual uncomplaining manner.

This morning, as I paddled my kayak in a choppy bay, I couldn't get "Dancing Queen" out of my head. Help! I still can't. Can you?


10/02/08 comments

Googling and Voting

Two more strange phenomena from the Google front:

a. If you Google "formal invitation" (without the quotes), you should get this page. If you click on the image of the invitation with the gold ribbon, you'll find it is a copy of the invitation that our kids used to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.

b. This is very weird. If you Google "the hokie bird getting beat up funny picture" (without the quotes), you should get this page. Lots of weirdness to go around on this one. First, why would anyone use that particular search expression? Apparently, 8% of the people that arrive at CapeMayBeach.net by Google search do. Second, why would that expression, which I have never said or written pick out two photos from my web pages? I must have a lot of strange birds reading my pages (present company accepted [sic]).

My wife's absentee ballot arrived yesterday, but mine hasn't shown up yet. I wanted to wait until after the debate tonight to cast my vote for Obama anyway. I hope to be lounging on a Florida beach on election day.


09/30/08 comments

Bad Situation

Yesterday was a day of ignominy for me. The day started well enough with a fresh northwest breeze brought on by a weather front that passed through the past night. My wife and I took a bike ride to the Hawk Watch platform at Cape May Point to look at the hawks that were brought in by the northwest wind. We enjoyed sitting with the geekily dressed birders and looking at the many hawks in the vicinity.

When we got home during mid-afternoon, I got the bad news from my wife: "I picked up a DVD that you'll hate at ACME this morning." I recoiled as if I'd been slapped in the face or heard some devastating news about our financial future. I spent the rest of the afternoon dreading what was coming at dinner time.

As we sat down for dinner, I dutifully inserted the DVD in the player, since my wife doesn't know how to work it. I could have subverted the process by secretly ripping out some wires, but I was a chicken. Then, the horrid DVD came on: "Sex and the City."

I had successfully failed to watch any of the episodes of the show during its six year HBO run from 1998 to 2004, even though we subscribed to HBO during all of those years. I was proud of my record and bragged about it whenever I had the opportunity. "You don't let your wife watch Sex and the City, you bad man?", my wife's friends would say to me. "And I don't watch Katie Morgan while my wife is in the room either, just to make it fair", I would reply.

I measure how bad a movie is by the severity of the leg cramps that I suffer during its viewing. Last night I was in agony as I was virtually waterboarded by this very lousy movie. The only other emotion that I felt was sympathy for Mr. Big, who had to put up with SJP's chin wart as he kissed her. It was one of the worst nights of my life.


09/28/08 comments

Banned Books Week

The best way to fight book censorship is to read a banned book. Support your local library and librarians as they battle the forces of ignorance who are trying to limit your access to print and other media. Support your local school board as they fend off parents and preachers who are trying to determine which books can be taught in the classrooms of your communities.

My wife used to teach English in a rural high school in central Pennsylvania. One of the books that she regularly taught in her 10th grade section was A Separate Peace, by John Knowles. A student in one of her classes, who probably didn't want to take the trouble to read the book, complained to his mother about the realistic language used in some of the book's dialogues. The mother, abetted by her preacher, made a list of all of the objectionable words and petitioned the school board to ban the book and censure my wife. I liked the way the local paper, the Chambersburg Public Opinion, reported on the incident: on their front page, they listed all of the objectionable words. The censorship battle raged on for quite some time and caused my wife a lot of grief. She ultimately "won" the battle by being able to keep her job, but everyone lost because the school board wanted control over which books were taught in the entire curriculum.

At the time my wife was fighting her battle against ignorance, I was serving in my 10 year stint on the school board of a neighboring community. During my term, with two years as president of the board, we had parents and preachers that wanted to ban books from the schools' libraries. These attacks were all defeated. The biggest battle I had to fight was against a group that attacked the teacher of a health class for using explicit biological terms in the classroom and actually writing them on the blackboard. I presided over a school board meeting where hundreds of foaming fundamentalists called for blood in the case. My proudest moment was when I threatened to throw the whole bunch of them out of the meeting if they wouldn't follow the rules of order. We "won" the battle.

I write "won" to describe results of battling censorship because every battle erodes our liberties. The only way to truly win a censorship battle is to hang the rotting, gutted corpses of the would-be censors from the ramparts of our libraries and schools.

Mark Twain said many things best:

   "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."

Read a banned book today.


09/27/08 comments

The Answer

People occasionally ask me, so here's my answer. Any other questions?

09/26/08 comments

Rainy Day Bits

The unnamed tropical storm that hit the Carolinas has been dumping rain on us for a couple of days, so there's not much else to do but to stay on the computer and enjoy the photos and blogs.

1. Doesn't Barack Obama seem more of a polished statesman than the grouchy old guy? I just sent off my application for absentee ballot today. I'm excited about casting my vote.

2. My wife and I saw a great movie yesterday as we escaped from the rain and wind: Burn After Reading. I was crying from laughing during the whole movie. It has a brilliant cast and a wacky story line. Highly recommended.

3. I saw a great movie on HBO last night: Strange Days. Somehow I missed this one back in 1995 when it was released. The action is non-stop and the film has the feel of Blade Runner, one of my all time favorites.

4. Mika Brzezinski is eye candy with intelligence. She and Joe Scarborough and company are a lot of fun and informative on the Morning Joe show on MSNBC. When Katie left the Today show, I switched my morning viewing to MSNBC and CNN on my two tuners as I eat breakfast and zap commercials.

5. This time of year I wish I liked to watch baseball on TV.

6. Every time the sports pundits christen a team with any of the words, "dynasty", "unbeatable", or "team of the century", they lose a game that shouldn't have been close. USC Trojan's are the latest beneficiary of the curse.

I have too much time on my hands. I wish the rain and wind would stop.

09/24/08 comments

My 15 Minutes of Fame

I was looking at my stats on Google and found that 55% of my query traffic to CapeMayBeach.net comes from the query "french beach". When I did that query, I found one of my photos at the top of the page. When I clicked the photo, I landed on this blog. Hurry up and try it, my fame clock is ticking.

09/23/08 comments

Solution for Wall Street

I've been working on a comprehensive solution to the fiscal crisis which rewards the innocent and punishes the guilty. I was in the final stages of my plan when a much more important issue crossed my desktop.

Evidently, there are photos of Jamie Lynn Spears breastfeeding. I did a ton of research on the Internet, but couldn't come up with any sneak peeks other than this one. Another disturbing aspect of the situation is that the photo department in Wal-Mart isn't as secure as I thought it was.

After a lot of hard work, at least I found a picture of a woman in the act of breastfeeding. With some imagination, we can see, in the mind's eye, what Jamie and Maddie would look like at chow time.

Unfortunately, I've completely forgotten my solution for the nation's finances.

09/19/08 comments

Real Estate

Freddy Mac's Nightmare on Wall Street has the nation's financial institutions wondering whether it was a good idea to sell a house with an inflated price with no down payment to a person who couldn't possibly pay the exorbitant mortgage with the hope that they would default and the price of the house would have increased in value. I think the answer might be NO.

Anybody left with money might wonder what to do with it. The Donald suggested on TV yesterday that T-bills or real estate were the only two good options. Since I'm trying to sell my house, this might be good news.

Does anybody know The Donald's email address? I'd like to tell him about my house.

09/17/08 comments

Weak Dollar

My wife and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary in Venice in August of 2001. Back then, one Euro was worth 88 cents. We still found Venice to be expensive. Today, one Euro is worth $1.41. We remember well our $200 dinner at the Gritti Palace. Today that dinner would cost $320.45. I'm glad we went to Venice when we did because we could never afford it now.

Why is the dollar so weak? I've read that a weak dollar is good for exporters of American goods. It certainly isn't good for American tourists abroad, but it is good for tourists in America from abroad.

The weak dollar is good for the French art galleries in New York. The weak dollar is good for those who invest in gold. The weak dollar is good for U.S. business. Any guesses as to who is running Washington D.C. these days?

09/15/08 comments

A is for Avarice, B is for Bailout

When I was raising kids, I tried to dissuade them from their natural tendency toward greed. My wife and I also attempted to show them by example and, since we were both teachers, we either were not greedy, or stupid, or both.

During my few avaricious moments in life, I remember the haze that greed put over my rational thinking. It's very similar to what happens to a man's mind when he has an erection.

My wife and I don't gamble for money and don't buy lottery tickets. We also don't own any stocks. We had one greedy foray into the world of IPOs a few years ago and lost a few thousand dollars. After that experience it has been easy to stay out of the stock market.

I know a couple of people in the world of investment banking and wondered what the difference was between them and the high rollers in the casinos of Vegas, Atlantic City, or Monte Carlo. I figured the only difference was where they report to work.

I have a very good friend that's a stock broker. I have another good friend who's a high stakes poker player. I only consider the first friend a gambler.

I feel bad about all of the people that have been hurt by the abundance of greed that resulted in the mortgage meltdown, but very few are innocent bystanders.

At least when a high roller has a bad night in the casino, he doesn't expect Uncle Sam to bail him out (Bear Stearns, Freddie Mac & Fanny Mae).

09/11/08 comments

Delaware Bay Crossing

Maybe put this in the category of more guts than brains.

09/10/08 comments

Lipstick on a Pig

It has become too hard to remain silent on the Idiocracy that is the Presidential campaign. Guess what is the title of the 2006 book by Torie Clarke, onetime Pentagon spokesperson and press secretary to John McCain? Drill baby, drill (on the word "book" above).

It's time for a change. Even though I have little in the way of experience in political matters, I can see that the pitbulls (even those with lipstick) are loose in both political kennels. My wife is threatening to go and live in another country (presumably with me). But I know that there is no country for old men, so I ask her, "Which country is better?" Unfortunately, every day brings more and more answers to that question.

Who's the rock star now? If you say Obama, I say you're out of date. I'm just about ready to buy a formerly governmental jet on eBay and head for the hills.

I have some advice:

1. To the Democrats: Do not say a word about Sarah Palin and boil your campaign down to two easy soundbites:

Republicans brought high gas prices
We can give you affordable health care

2. To the Republicans: keep McCain and Palin together on all campaign appearances and only let John introduce Sarah. Keep Sarah on track with her "Hockey Mom" speech.

3. To the media: shut the hell up.

08/06/08 comments

42nd Anniversary

At high noon on August 6, 1966, a day that will live in infamy, I waited in the sacristy of St. Katherine of Sienna Catholic Church in Wayne, PA for my soon to be bride and monster mother-in-law to show up. The night before, they were so late for the rehearsal that it and the dinner following were almost canceled. I listened to Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of the President, walk all the way up the aisle of the National Shrine in Washington before we could get started. I often describe my wedding as the worst day of my life, not because I've ever regretted it, but because I had no control over the proceedings. Here's what we looked like (my wife is the one smiling).

It's been a great ride so far. Right now, we're in the midst of a family reunion at the Shore with all 6 of our grandkids and their parents.

08/02/08 comments

Why I Love Drowsey

Pardon this interruption from my hiatus, but I want to help celebrate Drowsey Monkey's first anniversary in the blog-o-sphere. Drowsey, by means of her gentle Canadian chiding, caused me to start using paragraphs instead of just typing as did Jack Kerouac. The other major reason is that, no matter how useless a blog I post, Drowsey is always there with a kind and funny comment. I also love that little blonde doll, but that's another issue for another day. Congrats, Drowsey!

07/26/08 comments


It seems as though my August hiatus has already started. I'm much too busy doing nothing worthwhile for the rest of the summer. See you in September.

07/18/08 comments

Maybe Some Balance?

I like the New Yorker magazine. I grew up in California reading the cartoons of every issue. My mother, a native Brooklynite, had a subscription to maintain her roots. I usually buy an issue at an airport newsstand before a flight. My only problem with the controversial Obama cover is that it shows a lack of balance. There are at least two fantasies about Barack, not just one. Here is a cover design that I propose as a substitute.

07/09/08 comments

Cheney is Evil Incarnate

Dick Cheney's sins against humanity continue to be revealed. He will be reviled as the most evil Vice President ever. Impeach him now, before he bombs Iran.

07/07/08 comments

Mid-Summer Ramble

My wife and I had an interesting dialogue this morning while she was reading and commenting on the opinion section of the New York Times website, and I was surfing some movie websites about the movie, "Beautiful Girls", which we had watched last night. Some samples:

She: What is John McCain going to do about al Maliki's statement about time limits?

Me: Actually, Tim Hutton has been appearing in movies regularly, we just haven't noticed.

She: That Medicare bill should be looked at by everyone our age.

Me: Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem.

My birthday came and went during the July 4 extended holiday. We had various groups of company which took our concentration. Being 68 is about the same as being 67 was. I'm still a geezer.

I'm starting to do a crossword puzzle in the local newspaper in addition to the one I do online. The mornings have been so nice on the deck that the paper version makes good sense in the outdoors.

I've developed a bothersome condition that requires me to go back to my urologist before my October appointment for PSA monitoring. Regular visits to the urology office are part of growing older.

06/28/08 comments

A Nice Little Adventure

This morning my paddling buddy Joe and I did one of my favorite kayak paddles around Cape Island. I have done this trip too many times to remember, but it's different every time. Today's trip had an exciting twist to it around the middle of the journey.

I brought 100 ounces of liquid with me, mostly Cytomax with one 20 ounce bottle of Gatorade G2 and one 16 ounce bottle of water. I carried a soft cooler with ice and a few of the bottles so that I could enjoy some icy cold drinking when we stopped for our break.

I packed a couple of power bars and put them with my pocket pc in my dry bag. I also had my marine radio in my PFD (life jacket). I had an extra paddle strapped on the back of my kayak and a couple of bottles of Cytomax in the cockpit with me.

I have equipped my main single kayak with a mount for a Garmin eTrex Vista GPS which can have local charts (marine maps) loaded onto it. In this fashion, I can see where I am on the chart as I paddle. I usually only bring my eTrex on open water crossings, so I didn't even consider bringing it along for this trip. What I did bring was my new Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS watch which my kids just gave me for my birthday coming up on July 1. This powerful tool (not a toy, ladies) allows for complete tracking of a workout.

I left from my beach at 6:39 AM and headed south to Joe's beach, a mile away. He joined me and we headed down the Bay, across the Cape May Canal and through the Concrete Ship. I was a little nervous about fog, but everything was clear as we paddled through the rips around Cape May Point. The ocean swells were pretty big and there were lots of standing waves in the rips, but we managed to avoid most of them by staying close to the jetties. We almost got involved in some life guard life boat races as we passed the Grant Street Beach, home of the Cape May Beach Patrol, but we saw the marker flags in time and swung further out into the ocean to avoid them. About that time we started to notice some fog settling in around the Cape May Inlet jetty. All of a sudden, we were in a white-out fog. We started to worry about getting killed by a speeding boat and Joe started blowing his whistle while I sounded the small airhorn that I carry. Also, we headed toward shore where we could hear the waves crashing on the beach. We used the sound of the breakers and the occasional glimpse of the shore to guide us to the jetty, where we turned right and followed it to the mouth of the inlet. As we turned in the inlet, The fog was gone and we had a relaxing paddle the rest of the way. I was back at my beach in 4 hours and 40 minutes.

My Forerunner 405 gave this set of statistics (which seems to indicate that we climbed a small hill, but actually, the wave swells on the ocean were pretty big and added up) for the trip and this map of the journey. I got back for lunch, which pleased my wife, and had a nice little adventure.

06/27/08 comments

Vista Sucks

I thought that the "MS" in MSNBC meant Microsoft. Joe Scarborough, on "Morning Joe" this morning, totally bashed Vista as an unworkable operation system. It'll be interesting to see the damage control roll out. BTW, Vista sucks.

06/25/08 comments

Too Much Play?

This time of year is the reason that we live at the Jersey Shore. I have so many ideas about outdoor activities that I can't begin to do all of them. I concentrate on kayaking, running, and walking during the summer months. I also work in step aerobics, cycling, and fishing as time permits.

I don't spend much time working at my computer business or home projects, but I have to do a little of each to satisfy my few clients and my slave-driving wife. (I discovered that my wife does not read this blog and hardly reads our photo journal.)

We entertain many guests during the season. We get to do some other activities with them: boardwalks, site-seeing boats, the (free!) Cape May County Zoo, and beach sitting.

06/19/08 comments

Innumeracy Redux

Yesterday, I read an article in the local paper, Atlantic City Press, about a property tax increase in our township in South Jersey. I was struck by the misleading way that the tax increase was presented, so I wrote a rant for the "spout off" section of another local paper:

The article in the Press (6/18/08) says that Lower Township raised the property tax rate by 2.4 cents. Wow! That'll be easy to pay, it's just pennies. This isn't the way to tell us poor taxpayers what's really happening. Here's a little grammar school arithmetic:

old rate: 32.4 cents
new rate: 34.8 cents
difference: 2.4 cents
% of change: 2.4/32.4 x 100 = 7.4 %

That's the number that should have been announced and reported. That's a 7.4% increase in property taxes, which are already high.

Here's another number that should be reported: our property taxes will DOUBLE in 9.7 years with this rate increase. Have I got your attention yet? Shame on the Lower Township government and shame on the Press for shoddy reporting.

Later in the day, I mentioned the 7.4% tax increase to another resident. He was flabbergasted. He thought he would just have to pay pennies more.

06/17/08 comments

Energy Plan

Back in the 70s, I happened upon a copy of the book "Limits to Growth" by the Club of Rome. The book was very controversial and stimulated a great deal of work in computer modeling. One of the implications discussed in the book was that the world would run out of oil at some point not in the distant future.

Now that we're paying over $4.00 a gallon for gas, more people are believers that we have an energy problem to solve. In the interest of preserving a decent way of life for my children and grandchildren, I've formulated the following plan:

1. Rather than seeking more ways to get oil, make a national decision to convert all possible machines to use electric power.

2. Ensure that all generating plants for electricity use clean, non-fossil fuel sources of power, including nuclear, hydro, solar, wind, and tides.

3. Utilize and enhance the current infrastructure of gas stations to swap out batteries as a new form of refueling. This will require a few standard types of batteries that can be quickly replaced and recharged by the stations.

I'm convinced that, if America mounts an Apollo-like program to accomplish this plan, it can be accomplished within a decade. Big Oil will balk and try to be a hindering force, but they can get in on the action in transforming the infrastructure and make their money.

Ships and trains can be powered by nuclear reactors, but I'm not sure what replacement power source would be appropriate for airplanes. I am sure that all issues can be solved if the national will is behind the effort and the resources are available.

We've been refusing to take on the energy problem, but the time is now, or never.

06/13/08 comments


Part of the fun of outdoor activities is the acquisition of gear appropriate to the task. While I was in Boulder, CO on my recent trip, I bought a couple of items. For the couple of hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, I needed a new water bottle to hang by a carabiner for ready access. Just before the trip to Colorado, I had thrown out all of my water bottles because they contained dangerous chemicals, so I needed a replacement bottle. The one I found has a straw inside so that, by biting the foldable mouthpiece, I can sip without inverting the bottle. I've used the bottle on two long hikes and one short hike and two kayak paddles.

The second piece of gear subjected me to a lot of ridicule from my fellow travelers: a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I intended to use them for times when I wanted to be barefoot, but needed a bit of protection on the bottoms of my feet. I've already used them for two kayak paddles and love them. I think that they might be chick magnets in addition.

06/10/08 comments

Killer Hike

My son-in-law Tom prides himself on pushing me to my limits whenever he gets the opportunity to do an outing involving just the two of us. On his wedding day, with my daughter, Tom introduced me to bike riding in Blacksburg, Virginia, where you start at your high point, descend into the valley and then bust butt to get back. Another time, in Georgia, he had me hiking up Springer Mountain from Amicalola Falls, a 17 mile round trip with lots of climbing. We had a third guy with us the day in Switzerland that we took a much, much longer hike than we needed or wanted. At dinner that night, we consumed $24 worth of mineral water (back when the exchange rate was good). When Tom suggested that the two of us hike up to Estes Cone on a cold and breezy day when the women didn't want to venture out, I should have been more wary.

A couple of hours later, I was huffing and puffing as we ascended a very steep trail to the 11,000 foot summit. I made it to the top and was rewarded with views as breathtaking as the hike. It was so windy and cold at the top that Tom and I ate our peanut butter sandwiches wearing gloves.

For more detailed info, see our web journal.

06/08/08 comments

Rocky Mountains

Three of us took a nice hike that took us to a waterfall and a mountain lake at 10,000 feet. There was more snow than I expected.

For more detailed info, see our web journal.

06/07/08 comments

Boulder - Estes Park

The day was clear. We drove to Boulder to see how the hippie side of things was doing. In the spirit of things, we all ate vegetarian in a creperie. We saw a group of "omers" trying to levitate themselves. In their own minds I think they succeeded. We drove up to Estes Park, where we will stay for 3 nights with a view of the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park. We took a short walk around Sprague Lake with the 3 year old. The word "awesome" gets overworked here, but this view of the Continental Divide fit the bill. We saw some elk along the road.

For more detailed info, see our web journal.

06/06/08 comments

Pike's Peak

We were under a severe thunderstorm warning today and had rain off and on. We headed for the USOC training facilities for a private guided tour which was very interesting. My wife and I have been fleeing from the harshness of winter for the past several years. It was ironic to find us taking the cog train up to the summit of Pike's Peak where it was 21 degrees and snowing. My friends in Canada are probably chuckling as they make their own snowmen.

For more detailed info, see our web journal.

06/05/08 comments

Garden of the Gods

The last time I was in Colorado Springs, I missed seeing this spectacular and free place. Our little group enjoyed looking at the red rock formations. Our dinner spot had a view of Pike's Peak.

For more detailed info, see our web journal.

06/03/08 comments

Traveling Again

I'm heading out again. I hate to leave the beach at this beautiful time of the year, but I also love the mountains. A group of five of us are going to a couple of spots in the Front Range of the Rockies in Colorado for a few days. I should have some pictures to share. We leave tomorrow morning and return early on Tuesday.

06/02/08 comments

Going for the Groove

While I was out for a jog yesterday, I was thinking about the pain of running and why I don't do it fluently. I pound the pavement and huff and puff, while I'd like to glide along breathing with ease. Some refer to that feeling as "being in the groove" or "being in the zone."

I thought about my "magic run" back in 1977, when I was on sabbatical leave at Duke. One day, when I was doing a power walk, I jogged for 3 miles for the first time in my life. That run was smooth and effortless. I felt as though I could run forever.

I think that performing physical activities with fluency has to do with relaxation, rhythm, breath control, and proprioception. I learned about proprioception when I took my first AAAI certification as an aerobics instruction back in 1988. I think that I am blessed in that regard. For example, since I've been about 6 years old, I've been able to do a headstand with little effort. Also, when I close my eyes, I can easily visualize how the parts of my body are oriented. I'm not sure how one can improve proprioception. The practice of Yoga can definitely improve relaxation and breath control. I practiced Yoga regularly for several years and am anxious to begin again any day now. I think the best way to improve rhythm is through dance. I am a pretty good dancer when I work at it.

I had a "magic ski run" once, back in the 80s when I downhill skied for 3 years. That night, I felt completely in control and was able to glide down the slope smoothly. I quit downhill skiing because my wife wouldn't do it (actually, she agreed to do it one year, but broke her foot doing aerobics one week before we were scheduled to hit the slopes); I took up cross-country skiing instead and generally skied with fluency.

When I am on a long kayak trip, I get so much in the groove, that I actually doze off in microsleep sometimes as I paddle. Last summer, as I crossed the Bay with a couple of buddies, I slumped over a couple of times, triggering a blast from my air horn on my life jacket, snapping all of us to attention.

I can do step aerobics with fluency and I usually do. I have only fallen once since 1985, and that was because I was staring too intently at the instructor's anatomy and lifted both legs simultaneously during a knee-up maneuver. I crashed down on my step, but my eyes never left their targets.

Riding a bicycle is an activity that most people do with fluency. Once you get just a bit practiced, you can ride smoothly for hours. I used to take many bike rides in the 60-75 mile range when I lived in Pennsylvania. If I could run as I ride a bike, I would be satisfied.

Maybe, instead of analyzing my running, I should just do it.

05/26/08 comments

Thank You for Your Service

It's Memorial Day, so I'm thinking about those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, especially those who have died or been disabled in that service. On Saturday I watched a triathlon which was dedicated to Veterans. In attendance and competing were several disabled veterans. My most memorable moment was watching a guy with an artificial foot jump off of a 5' high wooden jetty as he ran the 5K portion of the event. He landed on his good foot, stumbled a bit and took off running in the sand of the beach. What a courageous guy! Minutes before that, the same guy was helped to refasten his foot after completing the ocean swim in 55 degree water. Later in the day, I visited and chatted with one of my wife's cousins who was disabled in Vietnam. After a year or so of surgeries, he was able to spend 32 years working for the postal service. He complained to me, not about himself, but about the older military, called into service from their National Guard units, who, when disabled near the end of their 20 years of service, are denied one of the two pensions: 20 years of service and disabled veteran. On his part, he'd like to have his body back.

One of my son-in-law's friends, who competed in the triathlon, was an Airborne Ranger who served in the First Gulf War and was disabled on a parachute jump. He whipped my son-in-law in the triathlon, but he would have liked to have stayed in the service and joined the Special Forces. He'd also like his body back.

My next door neighbor was disabled in Vietnam. He lost much of the use of one arm and hand and has bad knees and back due to his injuries. He doesn't complain, but he hurts. He'd like to have his body back.

None of these guys were into the political discussion about the rightness of their wars, they just served out of a sense of duty and patriotism. It's a good day to remember all of them.

05/22/08 comments

Corporate Conscience

Congress had Big Oil in for some discussions this week. Senator Dick Durbin asked about the existence of "corporate conscience" as the executives revealed their multi-million dollar salaries. My answer was somewhat covered in a comic strip that I published on Anonymous Idiot.

Although a corporation has some qualities of an individual, "conscience" is not one of them. When dealing with an entity without a conscience, the only behavior modification techniques that work are ostracization (boycott, for corporations) and regulation, backed by penalties.

The great god "Competition" seems to have fallen by the wayside as government has crawled into bed with business interests. Without competition, we end up with a computer operating system that could be written better by a college student, yet is deemed necessary (Vista). We also end up with prices in control of the cigar smokers instead of the open market.

Like John McCain, Economics is not my strong suit, but I can smell things that stink. As Senator Clay Davis of "The Wire" would say, "Sheeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiit!"

05/20/08 comments

A Flash Movie

It's a rainy day today, so I've been messing around with an online movie maker that can create Flash movies. My first effort is a slide show of some photos of a sunset that I took on Sunday night. The music is from the library on the movie maker's website. Here is the Flash movie. The movie maker also provides an upload to YouTube. Here is the same movie from YouTube.

05/18/08 comments

The Change You Deserve

As I've said before, I get my best insights into current events from The Daily Show. This week, Jon Stewart and his cronies crafted an ad for the Republican party that was a real gem. Here is a link to the segment. Be a little patient, the fake ad, adapted from a real ad for Effexor, is a bit into the segment.

05/16/08 comments

More Prostations

In my earlier post about my prostrate situation, I talked about my 4th biopsy. I got the negative results today - no cancer. I found out that the doctor had taken 24 core samples this time. He also gave me two weeks worth of meds (Uraxatral) for BPH with a followup appointment in two weeks. Meanwhile the PSA testing and possible 5th biopsy loom on the horizon for September. Meanwhile, I can breath easier for a while and enjoy beachcombing for the summer.

05/15/08 comments

Human Rights

Drowsey Monkey reminded me this morning about BlogCatalog's campaign for Human Rights. There are human rights issues all over the world and certainly right here at home in the United States. The U.N. made its Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. As an American, I usually think of human rights violations as happening in other countries far away. Here are some of the "rights" in the U.N. declaration that our government is violating:

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.
  • Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  • Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

I wonder if our government knew that we were violating human rights if it would boycott us or invade us?

05/13/08 comments

Notes from San Diego

I spent the weekend at a family wedding in San Diego. It was a great reunion with my wife's side of the family in a city noted for its wonderful climate. However, during our stay from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, we only had a typical San Diego day on Saturday for the wedding.

We left Philadelphia airport on Friday morning in a driving rainstorm after waking at 3:30 AM and driving from the Jersey Shore. There were 2 hour delays at the airport, but our Northwest flight left on time, probably due to the ground controller thinking, "Northwest flies out of here?"

I found out that Northwest thinks that Minneapolis is en route to San Diego. I haven't bothered looking at my map, but somehow that doesn't seem right. I thought that 20 minutes waiting for the connection on Friday and 2 hours waiting for the connection on Monday were about the right length of time for a visit to the Twin Cities.

However, self please note, a weekend is not sufficient for a trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific. To my credit, I had tried to organize a few day side trip to Palm Springs to climb Mt. San Jacinto, but couldn't get anyone in the family, including my wife, to go with me.

It was fun watching the activity in the San Diego harbor, including a regatta and the passing of an aircraft carrier. How much does the Navy pay per gallon of gas? We saw multiple gas stations charging $3.95 per gallon for regular.

We went through La Jolla without seeing any surfers getting beaten to death.

We really lucked out with our kids flying into Philadelphia before the huge nor'easter hit on Sunday and we flying in after the storm on Monday night. Our pilot told us that he wasn't sure how we'd get into Philadelphia because of storm delays on Monday, but we slid right in on time, probably due to the air traffic controller thinking, "Northwest flies into here?"

Valet parking at an airport is pretty cool. The driver drops off your car to you and takes a shuttle back to his parking lot. Meanwhile, you're heading down the road. We didn't get into our house until 2:00 AM, but it was good to be home.

05/06/08 comments

Innumerate People

I was reading the Atlantic City Press on Sunday, expecting some more news of political corruption in the city, something about Donald Trump, and maybe a beach photo or two, when I happened on the column by the "Answer Guy." I would like to sell this guy my house, because I think he would pay my upwards of $90,000,000 for it.

As the article indicates, the extra 9/10 of a cent tacked onto the price of a gallon of gas means a price increase of 90 cents for 10 gallons of gas. I think kids learn this stuff in 3rd grade don't they?

A mathematician named John Paulos, who I met when I was teaching, wrote a few books about the topic of innumeracy. I heartily recommend the books.

05/04/08 comments

Co-ed Dorm Rooms

Back in 1960/61, when I was at Florida State, the girls' dorms were protected better than the Green Zone. The dorms had curfews, were locked all night, there were random bed-checks, and the girls even were subjected to breath-checks when they came in for the evening.

As a college professor, I saw the changes creep in. First, no more in loca parentis, where the colleges substituted for the parents. Next came male visitation in female's dorm rooms. Then came co-ed dorms and single sex bathrooms.

This morning, I read about the newest trend, co-ed dorm rooms. I looked carefully at the picture in the article. Weren't those two guys? The article seems to say that guys and gals can share the same dorm room without any "sexual tension." The only tension I would have in the room that was shown would be, "Stay on your side of the room, OK?"

05/02/08 comments

Snitching on the Sea

I'm reading "The End of America", after getting a strong recommendation from Dolphin. The premise of the book is that America is sliding toward a totalitarian state. The author, Naomi Wolf, presents 10 warning signs that she has extracted from looking at Stalin's Russia, Mussolini's Italy, Hitler's Germany, Castro's Cuba, and other such states from the past and present. These signs represent 10 steps that a government can take to lead it to fascism.

One of the 10 steps is Surveil Ordinary Citizens. I was reminded of this step when I saw this article in my morning paper. The initiative is called America's Waterway Watch program. It's funny how I look at this program differently now than I would have before reading "The End of America." I took particular note of the government's call to recreational boaters because I am a former power boat owner and an avid kayaker who is often on the water. I am in a good position to observe suspicious behavior by fellow boaters.

To be practical, what I think I will do is report boats who are lingering over my favorite Striper holes in the Cape May rips. Some of them might be terrorists.

04/30/08 comments

Google Stats

I updated my site map for my main photo-journal website, www.CapeMayBeach.net, this morning. The main reason that I want my stuff to be visible to the Net is to allow people from my past to find out what I'm up to, in case they wonder about me on a rainy day. Occasionally, I get an email from the electronic universe that really makes my day. For example, a while ago, I got an email from two of my first and most memorable students, who happen to be married, giving me an update on their lives. They discovered my stuff and contacted me. Fabulous!

When I resubmitted my updated site map to Google, I took a peek at the keywords that people have recently used to hit that website. Most of us in the blogosphere have seen that crazy stuff, but I was interested in the following searches and added "capemaybeach" to each to see where my stuff fit in:

cathy's rv - finds a report from the road in 2005 (mistitled as 2004) where my wife Cathy and I were in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico with our RV. We had found out that one of our granddaughters was born a bit early in the report. We mentioned Cathy's boarding passes for her flight to be with the newborn. There is a website called catheysrv.com that might have been the true object of the search.

cheerios beginning - finds our holiday report for 2005. One of our granddaughters was beginning to eat Cheerios. I think that the searcher was looking for this information on when kids can start to eat Cheerios, or maybe this information about early Cheerios commercials on TV. I guess that I watched those early Cheerios commercials when I viewed the Lone Ranger show.

french beach - this was a very popular search and it probably hit on exactly what was sought, this report about our transatlantic cruise in 2007 where we were on a French beach when we stopped at Monaco. The picture that I took on that beach was probably right on target for the searchers.

600 miles south of abilene kansas - finds our report of a 1994 trip west to hike the Grand Canyon from north rim to south rim. We had driven 600 miles on some of the days of the trip. We spent a lousy day in Abilene, Kansas on the trip. What is 600 miles south of Abilene, Kansas? The town of Bastrop, Texas is about there. It wants to be the best community in the nation, according to its website. I'd suggest that it move to a better waterside location than the banks of the wrong Colorado River if it wants that kind of designation.

hokie birg - finds the report of our trip to Europe in 2004. My wife and I were traveling with our daughter and son-in-law and two friends of theirs. The four others were all graduates of Virginia Tech University, the Hokies. While in Switzerland, we climbed the Schilthorn, which is connected to the Birg station of a cable car system. The searcher was probably trying for Hokie Bird. Coincidentally, one of the guys took this photo on the summit of Schilthorn. Also, we saw the Hokie Bird this winter when we went to the Orange Bowl. Somebody out there misspells "bird" as "birg" as this website shows.

debuq iowa - finds last year's archive of this blog, where in my post for 12/03/07, I wondered why anybody gave a crap about what people in Iowa think? I used Debuq as a fictitious name representing some generic midwestern place where Presidential candidates might go to pander. Anybody doing this search is far better off finding my blog than any real information about Debuque.

chum ball snapper fishing in liitle torch key - (note the misspelling of "little") finds this blog again when I recounted my fishing trip to Key Largo. Whoever did that search found the best thing is his life, I'm guessing. I hope his life changed and he stopped wanting to know about his original search.

woman without boobs - finds this blog again, when I was grousing about Keira Knightly in my 01/17/08 posting about the movie "Atonement." The best part of this search is this website which I found serendipitously.

What's my conclusion? I have way too much time on my hands while I'm taking it easy after my biopsy.

04/28/08 comments


I scheduled my fourth prostate biopsy for the day after returning from the Atlanta area. The problem is that my PSA number keeps going up and the previous biopsies haven't shown any cancer, so the testing continues. For those that don't know what a prostate biopsy is, here's a brief description: the doctor sticks an anal probe in and uses ultrasound to guide him in shooting several darts into the prostate from inside of the colon. It's almost as much fun as it sounds like it would be.

In 2002, I had my first biopsy in a dark underground torture chamber at my Urologist's old office in a haunted mansion. The doctor gave me a single Valium to get me through the procedure. After the doctor had inserted the anal probe, I told him and his nurse that I had at least thought that the pre-op enema the night before would be a thrill. This caused him to start singing "Looking for love in all the wrong places ..." The other thing I remember was the excruciating pain caused by the 12 darts he fired into my prostate. Afterward, I bled while urinating for a month. Good stuff!

So, I learned two things. First, I never wanted another biopsy, and second, I really never wanted another biopsy. I am a bleeder, so if I take baby aspirin, I develop nose bleeds. I also bleed when I get a flu shot and I started to develop bruises on my arms without much trauma. I went to my GP in December, 2006 to get checked out and discovered that my PSA had gone up to 10. My GP got all excited and asked what my winter plans were and told me to cancel everything and get back to my Urologist. I told him that we had made plans for travel in the RV and would get it checked out in the spring.

I had two biopsies in 2007, in June (24 darts) and September (18 darts). Luckily, my Urologist had moved to new, highly automated digs and could have his Anesthesiologist knock me out. So, I had no pain during the procedures, but still had some pain and many days of bleeding afterward.

I'm still recovering from Friday's biopsy, where I was knocked out and won't receive results until May 14. I've watched all of Season One of "The Wire" and half of Season Two. I'm taking it easy to avoid heavy bleeding. Meanwhile, I've learned of a good way to prevent prostate cancer and wonder if fellatiously, it would be possible to combine two health preventions with one frequent activity. Keep dreaming, Bill.

04/24/08 comments

Notes From the Road

I was away for about a week on a trip, where I drove, to the Atlanta area. Here are some thoughts:

1. It's becoming a close call as to whether it's cheaper to fly or drive to Atlanta from Philadelphia.

2. I paid up to $3.58 for gas and didn't see much change from state to state. So much for the free market.

3. At a pizza place in North Carolina, the owner told me that his 10" pizza was half as big as a large-size 20" pizza. Actually, it's a quarter as big, so at his price, a large pizza would cost $28.

4. I drove on I95 through Baltimore and D.C. for the first time in several years. It wasn't too bad, so I'll put that option back in my itinerary planning.

5. Listening to NPR on my satellite radio for a total of 30 hours for the trip has turned my mind into mush. My navigator chose the channels. I would have settled for 30 hours of Air Supply.

6. They sure are polite in Georgia.

04/21/08 comments

8 Random Facts/Habits

DrowseyMonkey, who taught me how to write paragraphs, has tagged me with a meme to write 8 random facts or habits about myself. I've done similar things in the past, but I'll do this one afresh.

1. Although I'm 67, inside I feel as though I'm 27. I am very immature in many ways and, if I still drank, I'd have a beer bong hanging on the kitchen wall.

2. I've been messing around with computers for work and play since 1965. I bought my first personal computer in 1978 and have owned so many that I've long ago lost count.

3. I spent a wasted year drinking and carousing at Florida State University in 1960/61.

4. I was an altar boy when I was in grade school in California. Oddly, I was never abused by a priest. I remember walking in the dark to serve 6:00 AM weekday mass.

5. I love working on the NY Times crossword puzzle. I don't always finish it, but I never look anything up.

6. I wanted to climb Half Dome in Yosemite when I was 10 years old, but I just climbed it for the first time in September.

7. I delivered newspapers from a car to earn my way through my last 2 years of college.

8. Dick Clark, of American Bandstand fame, did a stand-up act at my high school graduation's all night party in 1958.

I'm tagging anyone on my bloglist who wants to do some introspection and tell the world a few things.


Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment on their blog and tell them they have been tagged, and to come back and read your blog for the whole story.

04/20/08 comments

And Good Riddance

I'm usually considered a nature lover, but sometimes I have to accept, encourage, or even cause animal destruction. My encounters with the Barbary Apes of Gilbraltar have been documented elsewhere. In summary, because of human interference, the apes have become a hazard. It's not their fault, but now something must be done. Maybe Gilbraltar should be evacuated and turned into a wildlife refuge. Since that's unlikely, here's what's going to happen. Because of my past experience, I have to go along with the solution, but I always feel bad when humans interact badly with wildlife.

Where I live, some stupid humans feed seagulls, turning them into obnoxious pests. Instead of thinning the flock, I'd be in favor of thinning the crowd, maybe by drowning.

04/19/08 comments

To the Pope

Guten Morgen, Your Holiness. It's nice of you to visit us here in America and I really appreciate you mentioning the rampant sexual abuse of many of your priests here in this country.

My mother-in-law dated a priest for many years. That relationship eroded her marriage and caused great scandal among those who observed them on the dating scene. A few of her acquaintances reported the activity to the bishop of Philadelphia, whose response was to transfer the priest to different parishes.

That same action of many of your bishops, transferring priests guilty of abusing children to different parishes, has been widely reported. Due to my own observations of the rogue priest that I knew, I have to believe that it is true that some of your bishops covered up the abhorrent activities of many priests.

So, while it is nice that Your Holiness is talking about regret for the pederasty of your priests, you really need to take action against those bishops. Until you do, you and your Church will have no credibility in this matter.

By the way, I knew one of those sex offender priests, also of the Philadelphia Diocese. He was quite the party guy as I knew him. I didn't know about his pederasty, but many did, including the bishop of Philadelphia.

04/17/08 comments

Cycles of Nature - Sunset

We get a sunset over the water here at home many nights of the year. When we first moved into the house in 1995, I wondered if I'd ever get jaded and complacent about the sunsets. Thankfully, that hasn't happened and I've found that every sunset is different and each has its own beauty.

Last night's sunset was another special one. It was very clear because of the chilly dry air. Also, we saw our first dolphins of the season as a huge pod swam up the bay past our house. At one magic instant, a dolphin breeched with the golden rays of the sun shining off of its skin. I've never seen that before. I tried for a photo, but I missed, as usual.

One of the cool features of my GPS watch is that it can display the times for sunrise and sunset wherever I'm wearing it.

I collected several of my sunset photos from different places at this link.

04/16/08 comments

Cycles of Nature - Sunrise

I love being up before sunrise and having the opportunity to experience the beginning of the day. As with most old people, I have no problem waking early in the morning, so I usually am up when sunrise occurs. I have taken some sunrise photos over the years, but for some reason, I have taken photos of far more sunsets. Maybe it's because the sun sets over the water at our house.

I collected some of my favorite sunrise photos on one of my other websites and offer them for your consideration with this link.

04/15/08 comments

A Toast for Mike

Here's to you, Mike. Wishing you the best following your surgery.

04/14/08 comments

Atlantic City

The west wind was really howling at our house on Sunday, so we decided to drive up to Atlantic City to walk on the boardwalk. This time of year, sans tourists, it's an easy 45 minute drive up the Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway to get into the resort city. We usually park at Caesars, but I got in the wrong lane and had to park in Trump Plaza. It only cost $5 to park regardless of how long.

As we walked through the casino on the way to the boardwalk, we could smell the cigarette smoke in spite of some restrictions on where the gamblers can light them up. My wife and I do a lot of walking and the Atlantic City boardwalk is a favorite for us. The boardwalk runs about 5 miles from the spot along Absecon Inlet where there used to be a marina to the Ventnor/Margate boundary. At times, we've walked the whole 10 miles, but normally we only walk part of the way. On Sunday, we walked about 6 miles.

Atlantic City is on Absecon Island, one of the string of barrier islands that line the New Jersey coast from Sandy Hook to Cape May. The island contains 4 towns, from south to north: Longport, Margate, Ventnor, Atlantic City. I've known Atlantic City since the 50s, prior to the casinos. Back then the resort consisted of beach, boardwalk, and slums. The game of Monopoly uses Atlantic City streets and places in its layout. I played so much Monopoly as a kid that I know the color of each of the streets in the game. Coincidently, the NY Times crossword on Sunday contained the clue, "Place in Monopoly." The answer was "St. James", which I remembered as orange.

After our walk, we went into the Tropicana casino so I could buy a cappuccino at Starbucks. After reloading my caffeine level, we did our version of gambling: losing a dollar playing a slot machine. I owed my wife after refusing to accompany her to church in the morning, so I was willing to walk into The Pier Shops at Caesars with her. This 3 level enclosed pier is populated by upscale stores and restaurants. Scattered around inside are fake beaches which actually are done tastefully. At the end of the pier is an atrium where a water show, called "The Show", is played every hour on the hour.

As we were driving out of the city, my wife said, "Look, we're crossing Baltic Avenue"; I thought of the color purple.

04/12/08 comments

Good News for Women (and Men)

For many years, I've been a staunch supporter of the Race for the Cure (pics: 1, 2) and Walk the Decks for the Cure (pics: 1, 2, 3). In addition, I've been involved in several local fund-raising events. I've tried to keep abreast of progress for this important cause.

I've also been extremely interested in the preventive side of medicine to complement the diagnose and cure side. I discovered the Prevention magazine when I was a member of a fitness center in Pennsylvania and I used to enjoy reading it on the stationary bike.

So, it excited me immensely when one of our field reporters sent me an email yesterday with a link to the results of an important study on breast cancer prevention. I am firmly standing up for contributing to the prevention as often as I am able. Together we can beat take a bite out of lick this thing. It would be fellatious to think that you can't make a difference.

Of course, I'm still very interested in participating in the Race for the Cure. You can find the dates of the event in your city here.

04/11/08 comments

A Couple of Casino Movies

Big news in Atlantic City - no smoking in any of the gaming rooms. The Donald is predicting disaster for the gambling resort. Evidently the biggest gambling losers are those that puff; no big surprise. I remember how much smoke was in the bingo hall when I spent several years calling bingo numbers for a Catholic church.

I don't smoke or gamble, but I was a hard core smoker for about 15 years in my youth. That makes me a neutral reviewer for two movies about card playing that I've seen recently.

I saw the first, "Lucky You", on HBO. This is mainly a chick flick and secondly a gambling movie. The highlight for me was Robert Duvall in an appropriate role. The story line seemed a bit weird to me, but again, I don't gamble. Drew Barrymore played a pretty good role, but could have shown a bit more skin, the best way to interest guys in chick flicks. The hero took a small beating from some gambling-related goons, but it was a girly kind of beatdown.

I saw the second, "21", in an almost empty theater on a rainy afternoon. Funny, in Naples, FL, the old people would have filled the room. It makes a difference when most people have jobs. I had read and enjoyed the book, "Bringing Down the House", that inspired the film. The movie adds some fictional elements that actually makes it more enjoyable. The hero gets a real beatdown by a casino security guy. The team card-counting elements of the movie remain realistic.

I would suggest viewing both movies on DVD.

04/09/08 comments


I was in Wal-Marts (to buy a yoga mat) and Starbucks (to buy a cappuccino) today. I've been spreading the false rumor around the blogosphere that Wal-Mart supercenters will be including a Starbucks inside. I have to laugh whenever I think of the clash of the demographics.

Anyway, I read an article about Starbucks in the Philadelphia Inquirer today. I was amazed to find out that the Inquirer writes about other things than the for-shit sports teams of the city. I was also amazed to find that Starbucks has 16,000 locations worldwide, which means that I haven't visited them all. How do I know that? I have a personal rule, broken only 3 times, that I don't go to Starbucks more than once a day. I would have to visit a different Starbucks daily for over 43 years to get to them all, but Starbucks was named in 1987, only 33 years ago. Ain't math great?

I got to thinking about some memorable Starbucks stores that I've been in. The one in the middle of Madrid has to take the cake for chutzpah. Situated in the center of a city and a country that have the best coffee I've ever drunk served from every little kiosk and bar, how do you figure to compete? But that Starbucks had quite a crowd. I didn't go in for the coffee, but to see what kind of idiot would choose Starbucks over the 1,000 better places to get a cup of coffee in Madrid.

The most memorable Starbucks store that I haven't been in is the flagship store in Seattle. In the 2 cloudy, chilly, drizzly, miserable days that I was in that city, I drank coffee in the 3 major chains of coffee shops and one mom and pop store. We couldn't find the flagship store even after searching Pike Street Market for it. Why didn't I just ask someone? Need you ask that question?

I liked a Starbucks in Manhattan near the U.N. for the rudeness of the barristas. They had that genuine in-your-face NYC attitude. You know that their favorite line is "What do YOU want?". Also, the scones in the City are the best.

There was a Starbucks on the Ohio Turnpike that made us realize the midwesterners have no idea how to make a scone. It might as well have been angel food cake. The kind of vacuous politeness of the barristas made an interesting contrast to the ones in Manhattan.

The wonderful ambiance of the village square in Keystone, Colorado, made the Starbucks there stand out. There was better coffee across the square, but for old times' sake I went into the Starbucks one time.

The Starbucks in the center of Doylestown, PA is quite unique in my experience. One of my daughters lives there, and when we visit, we eat every breakfast in that Starbucks. There are several other Starbucks around town that I've also drunk in.

BTW, the most memorable cappuccino I've ever drunk was not in a Starbucks. It was at the cafe that was used in Godfather for Michael Corleone's meeting with Appolonia's father.

04/08/08 comments

Cycles of Nature - Tides and Currents

Living here on the edge of the Delaware Bay in Cape May Beach, we are very involved with cyclical processes and events. The most obvious cycle here concerns the tides, which are linked to the phases of the moon and position of the sun. Our tides here on the bay are simple. We typically have 2 high tides and two low tides per day, with each high tide followed about 6 hours later by a low tide which is followed about 6 hours later by a high tide. Actually, the daily tidal cycle is 24 hours and 52 minutes long. Around here, the boaters and fishermen are the people most interested in the timing of the tides. To keep track of the tide times, most people make use of a tide table. The timing of the tides changes depending on position on the body of water. For example, the high tide at my house occurs about 9 minutes later than the high tide at Cape May Point, which is about 4.5 miles away.

As an avid kayaker, I am also very interested in the tides because of the related phenomenon of currents. When the tide is between low and high, the water in front of my house moves up the bay and is called a flood tide; when the tide is between high and low, the water moves down the bay and is called the ebb tide. That is about all I need to know in order to plan a simple, along the shore, trip in my kayak. For example, there is a high tide here today at 11:07 AM. If I want to have an easy 2 hour paddle, I'd leave at 10:07 AM and head up the bay. At 11:07 AM, I'd head back home. This way I would have the current at my back for the whole trip.

Actually, it's a bit more complicated because of the slack tide, a period when the water is barely moving. It happens that the current doesn't change directions at exactly the tide of a high or low tide. Here is a table that shows the current flow at the mouth of the bay. Here is a table that shows the tides at Breakwater Harbor, a nearby location. High tide today is predicted at 10:59 AM and the ebb tide begins at 12:27 PM. Some other numbers that are available are the tide height above mean lower low water (an average of normal lowest water level) and the maximum speed of the current in knots (multiply by 1.1 to get mph).

Kayakers use the "rule of 12s" to approximate the way current varies between high and low tide:

  • during the 1st hour of the tide, 1/12 of the water moves
  • during the 2nd hour of the tide, 2/12 of the water moves
  • during the 3rd hour of the tide, 3/12 of the water moves
  • during the 4th hour of the tide, 3/12 of the water moves
  • during the 5th hour of the tide, 2/12 of the water moves
  • during the 3rd hour of the tide, 1/12 of the water moves

Around the time of the full and new moons, the tides are highest and lowest. These extreme tides are called spring tides. When the moon is half, the tides have the least variation. These tides are called neap tides.

The wind has a great effect on tides and currents and can actually "turn the tide" if strong enough. One interesting phenomenon is a "blowout low tide", where the water is literally blown off of a beach.

One the average of once a year, I try to plan a kayak paddle across the Delaware Bay, usually from Delaware to New Jersey. I've done the trip across the bay 10 times and every time brings new adventures. I never go alone on this trip and have made the crossing with from 2 to a dozen people. I've found that a group of 3 is best. Here is an example of how I plan the trip; here is an example of an announcement (note that this trip was cancelled); and, here is an example of a trip report.

One of our trips was an "over and back" event. This summer I'm planning a trip I call the "Ultimate Double-Cross", which will be a 40 mile round trip. Anybody interested?

04/07/08 comments

42 - Blackwater's contract was just renewed for a year. With all that we know about that secretive militia, how can that happen?

23 - Who are the people behind the scenes of the candidates, pulling the strings? We occasionally hear a name or two, but their are veritable armies of lobbyists, surrogates, and other planners in the back rooms. Who are they and what are their agendas.

16 - It looks like we'll soon be loading the helicopters on the roofs of the "green zone" as we hastily evacuate Baghdad.

15 - Now we get to pay $1.70 for a euro. It was about half that when I visited Venice in 2001. Goodbye Europe for me.

8 - We'll soon see how bad the recession is as people flock or not to the Jersey Shore and other U.S. vacation spots. I guess the Canadians and Europeans might come in numbers, but how about Americans?

4 - The olympic torch was extinguished yesterday and today in London and Paris.

I'm feeling a little lost, how about you?

04/05/08 comments

Arabian Art and Science

I fell in love with algebra long before I found out about its origins. For a normal, oversexed ninth grader, it took a lovely subject to get me to stop thinking about girls for even a short time. I found algebra to be enriching and empowering. I still love it today. I later found out that algebra was invented by an Arab in the 9th century.

The word algorithm is derived from the same source. This concept has been the basis of much of my work as a computer scientist and is fundamental to a book I co-authored.

I hated geometry when I first took the course in 10th grade, because I had a really lousy teacher. My Ph.D. thesis was about a very advanced geometric topic, topology, but I really learned to love the subject when I taught it in a college class. When I visited Spain in 2003, I came to admire the geometric designs in the architecture of the Moors who occupied Spain. Two particular examples are the Mezquita in Cordoba and the Alhambra in Granada.

Also, while in Spain I learned to love the Moorish ceramic tiles with their intricate geometric designs, such as this, this, and these two from Islamic Turkey.

I've been very perplexed that the Middle East is no longer known for these beautiful emanations of the human spirit. Is it because that spirit of creativity no longer lives there or that the MSM doesn't tell us about it?

04/04/08 comments

Movie Review: In the Valley of Elah

I don't do very many movie reviews because I'm not a very insightful movie critic. My algorithm for understanding a movie is

1. Get a copy of the DVD from Red Box, NetFlix, Best Buy, or my son
2. Try to get my wife to turn off the kitchen light so I can see the film and try to get her to stop asking questions so I can hear the film. (I've discovered that her sister and one of my daughters also have that questioning habit.)
3. Watch the film again with the director's commentary on. If the director doesn't understand the film, who does? My wife is always absent for this step because she hates commentaries. I never listen to cast members' commentaries because the cast usually has no clue what a film is about. An exception is Viggo Mortensen, who seemed to understand "Rings". (But Sean Astin couldn't tell the difference between "Rings" and "Goonies".)
4. Watch the film again with the commentary off. My wife is always absent from this step because she hates to see movies twice.

So, basically, I let the director tell me what the movie is about. This is typical for me, just doing what other people say. For example, I only use paragraphs (randomly) in my blog because DrowseyMonkey told me to. Unfortunately, the DVD that I received from NetFlix didn't have any commentaries on it, so I'm on my own to fathom this film.

In my opinion (you expect something else here?), the movie has the message, "The Iraq War is bad." OK, I have believed that since before the war started in 2003. The movie throws in the secondary message, "Sexual Harassment is bad." OK, I've believed that since before Personnel Departments were renamed Human Resources, because "personnel" is such a sexist word.

But the reason that I ordered the DVD from NetFlix was that the blurb promised Charlize Theron. I think I started to notice Charlize in the movie "Italian Job." This was a great action movie with a great cast and some cool cars. In fact, one of my relatives bought a Mini-Cooper based on this film. Charlize did a good acting job in the movie and, most important, she really looked good.

When I watched "Elah", I couldn't figure out where Charlize was. The female lead had a broken nose and two black eyes and didn't look anything like the lovely Charlize. Also, BTW, Tommy Jones spends the whole movie with tears in his eyes.

If I were a movie producer who wanted to make a ton of money, I'd redo "Cast Away" by just showing Charlize walking up and down a beach on a deserted island. There'd be no plot, no dialogue, and no musical score, just Charlize.

Unfortunately, Charlize thinks that she has to look like shit in order to be taken seriously as an actress. "Monster" is a horrible example of the misuse of her talent. She's bloated and unpretty. Another example is the movie "North Country", where she's beaten. Charlize, we take you seriously honey, please look your best in the rest of your films.

For those who don't take me seriously as a writer, notice that I've said nothing about the nude photos in Playboy.

04/03/08 comments

Back to Aerobics

We headed back to the gym yesterday to participate in our favorite step aerobics class. I was the only guy in the class of 25. I took up my usual position in the back left corner of the aerobics room, which affords me the best opportunity for up-class views of my classmates' butts and cross-class views of their racks. I can also use the floor-to-ceiling mirror in the front of the room to view any available cleavage. Now before any of you guys rush out to buy a tutu and join an aerobics class, you need to realize that there is a price to pay: you actually have to do step aerobics while you're looking at the scenery.

It happens that most straight guys either don't have the skills or the patience to master step aerobics, even though it would put them in close proximity to a group of sweating, nubile, fitness conscious women. The first skill that's needed is the ability to listen carefully to the woman instructor. This is a hard skill to master when you're used to tuning out your wife or girlfriend when she's talking about anything but sex. The second skill is the ability to carry out elaborately choreographed dance moves, some utilizing the step, in concert with women close enough to touch on all sides (another reason why I prefer the corner). The third skill is to be able to avoid a high speed collision with a woman who is going the wrong direction or who has stumbled. If you lay a rugby-like hit on a woman in an aerobics class, you can kiss your step aerobics career goodbye. It's almost as bad as laying out a deadly fart in class.

Somehow I've mastered the art over the years and can reap the benefits, as I do as often as possible. See anybody out of place in this picture? That's me and some of the girls at an aerobics convention. To save money, we stayed 4 to a hotel room. Here's our group out to dinner at one of the conventions. Guys, would you like to have 3 of these woman in your hotel room for the night?

Now that my computer business is winding down, I'm thinking of offering instruction for guys so they can fit into the step aerobics scene. I might change the name of my company from Computing Doc to Aerobicizing Doc. What do you think? Anybody want some instruction?

04/02/08 comments

Tax Time

I had promised my wife that I'd begin working on our income tax returns when April began, so I dutifully started yesterday. I remember fondly that, when I was in a business partnership back in the 80s and early 90s, my partner and I hired an accounting firm to do our business and personal returns. Back then, tax time meant signing the returns and mailing them to federal, state, and local governments.

Since 1999, I've owned a small computer consulting company, constituted as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). I've used the business version of Turbo Tax, federal and state, and the deluxe version of Turbo Tax, federal and state, to do my income tax preparations. Turbo Tax used to be cheap, but now, this stuff costs me around $200 per year. I use Quickbooks for my company accounting, and my wife uses a shoe box for our personal financial information.

Every year I (literally) buy into the fantasy that, since both Quickbooks and Turbo Tax are produced by Intuit, and since Turbo Tax for business can import the company's accounts directly from Quickbooks, the Turbo Tax/Quickbooks combination is the best bet for me in April. My faith in that fantasy was shaken in 2003 when I tried to do my taxes while in Spain. When we had arrived in Europe that January, my laptop decided that it wouldn't connect to the Internet, no way, no how. I was working over half-time on company business, which I had to do on my laptop in our living quarters and then connect to the Internet in a smoky Internet cafe filled with screaming and cursing young Spaniards playing a multi-player killing game. I had been smart, I thought, and brought my copies of Turbo Tax with me on CD, and my Quickbooks was active on my laptop. I figured that I could do my taxes without a problem. Oh, by the way, my wife brought her shoebox. When I started to do my taxes that year, Turbo Tax insisted on being connected to the Internet, or it threatened to put a watermark on each page of my returns stating that I'd prepared them with an out-of-date version of Turbo Tax and my returns probably weren't valid. Also, Turbo Tax refused to import my company information from Quickbooks because my version of Quickbooks was more than 3 years old. After spending an hour or so cursing, I contacted one of my sons-in-law in the States and asked him to buy the latest version of Quickbooks and send it to me. It turns out that Quickbooks doesn't sell in Europe. When the mailing hit Spain, the customs folks decided that I had to pay $100 in duty fees. I had also paid the full price for the software in the States. After all of that, I found out the truth behind the fantasy:

Unless the information in Quickbooks is organized in exactly the way that Turbo Tax wants, the imported information is so wildly incorrect that it has to all be redone manually.

So I did it all manually, printed the watermarked returns and wrote cover letters that explained my situation to the IRS and state tax bureau. Luckily, I never had to redo anything later.

By May each year, I forget about it. This year, I decided to upgrade my Quickbooks Pro 2004 to Quickbooks Pro 2008 so that I could do the importing operation. I spent a couple of hours buying and downloading Quickbooks and then had to call Intuit when my Quickbooks couldn't register itself online. While I was on hold to the second Intuit support person, my Quickbooks decided to register itself. I installed my federal and state versions of Turbo Tax for Business and started to work. Soon I was to the "import from Quickbooks" step and I let it fly. I got an error message that wasn't on the list of errors on the help screens in Turbo Tax or on its support website. I saw that there was a 60 minute wait for phone support and dialed the number to get in the queue.

My current laptop runs the evil, malfunctioning Windows Vista operating system. Among all of the buggy stuff in the system, the User Account Control (UAC) , designed for large companies, is the most horrid monster for small software developers or users. I have had lots of problems at home and at clients' site due to this malicious code which deletes important files and rearranging things according to its own agenda. I've learned to turn it off.

When I finally was able to talk with a support person for Turbo Tax, he told me to turn on the UAC. I was flabbergasted, but it worked. In the short time that it was on, the UAC managed to screw up a registry entry for Outlook, my email program, but I haven't found any other mischief that it's caused yet. So, I imported my Quickbooks information, and found that, as usual, it was unusable and I had to re-enter all of it manually anyway. After a day of working on it, I got my business returns done and printed (without watermarks). Now I can work on our personal returns today.

04/01/08 comments (reminder: TIps for cheerleaders is defunct due to this)

Click ... and Out

42 - The last tumbler clicked into place this past weekend when I realized that my granddaughter Smiley's room was done up in my favorite color, and that I wished that her new music box was playing "Lost in Love" rather than "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies."

23 - Whenever I dress Barbie, I think about undressing Ken.

16 - I always liked Donny better than Marie.

15 - My favorite suit used to be a purple velvet one.

8 - This is what I like to wear to weddings.

4 - I dress for aerobics like this.

Ohmygod, I'm GAY! As soon as I realized it, I dragged my wife to the obligatory impromptu news conference in Cape May.

I hope you win the lottery. Happy gay April First!

03/31/08 comments

Bush's War

I viewed the first half of the Frontline documentary, "Bush's War" last night. I've never been so disgusted with the evil maneuvers of government officials than while I was seeing how the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz branch of the hordes of Hell manipulated the hapless Bush and neutralized the only possible hero, Colin Powell, to lead us in a foolhardy venture that has cost us over 4,000 lives and over a trillion dollars of treasure.

If you haven't seen the documentary, you can view it online. I finally found the answer to a mystery that has bothered me since I was in Spain during the Iraq invasion. The overwhelming consensus of opinion in Spain and in Europe in general was against the venture. I couldn't figure out why the Bush administration went ahead. Now I know that it was due to lies and manipulation by very evil people. Bush seemed to be a pawn in all of it, due to his ignorance and stupidity, but that doesn't make him innocent.

What to do? Impeach Cheney and then Bush.

03/29/08 comments

Barbie and I

I was sitting out on my stateroom balcony with my 5 year old granddaughter Hurricane a week ago. We were enjoying a beautiful ocean view while on a cruise with her sister and my wife on the Carnival Freedom "Fun Ship." Hurricane had just purchased a Carnival Cruise Barbie set and was happily playing with it while I daydreamed about being out on blue water on a sunny, 80 degree day (oops, that was reality). Hurricane interrupted my dream reality by handing me her bare-naked Barbie and a slim little red gown. "Pop-pop", she said, "I can't put her dress on, can you?"

I grabbed her voluptuous Barbie and the dress and and furtively looked around for security cameras. Hurricane went back to her playing with other elements of the set, while I held Barbie with my thumb on her lovely breasts and tried to figure out how to get the size 0 gown over her huge rack. I wrestled with Barbie as I tried to get the gown on her and tried harder not to enjoy my work. I finally got the gown on her and handed her back to Hurricane with a sigh of relief.

I dreamed of Barbie that night.

03/27/08 comments

My Jinxed Car

In 2003, I bought a Nissan XTerra based purely on its roof rack. Since I'm an avid kayaker, I wanted to make sure that my next car had the ability to haul my kayaks easily. I also wanted a vehicle that could haul a trailer, since I had the intention of camping with a pop-up camper. I chose the silver color because I wanted the car to be very visible on the road. I think that white and silver cars are the most visible and I think that white cars look cheap.

I figured that a pretty cool trip for the XTerra/pop-up would be a 44 day RV caravan into Mexico. I didn't know that no one had ever done that trip with a pop-up, but I'm pretty sure that I would have gone anyway. While we were in line at a toll booth, I got the first hint of the XTerra's jinx: the driver of the RV ahead of us decided to go to his bathroom and take a leak; he forgot to set his brake; we were on a slight hill and his rig rolled back and slammed into our front end. I was a bit shaken, but the damage to the car was minimal.

The second hint of the jinx came in December 2004. I wrote this one up in my "Happy Holidays" report:

Tuesday, December 14

We went to the dentist at 8:30 AM. When we got back home, I called Jim from Imperial 500 and arranged to go over there to install the program and get his old mailing list data. All went well on my visit to Wildwood Crest. After lunch we drove to Borders to buy a copy of Hawaii by James Michener. Then we went over to Hamilton Mall to walk for a while. After walking, we searched for packing cubes, but couldn't find any. We were driving over to Target and were in the left turn lane near Borders when the car in front of us went through the red left arrow and got trapped in the middle of the intersection. I saw this unfolding and left some room in front of me for the car to back up out of the intersection. The car was a late model white Nissan with four people. A chinese lady in the back seat kept looking back at us as we motioned them to back up out of traffic, which they did. I noted that the driver had left the car in reverse, but there was still some room in front of me and I prepared to lean on the horn as soon as they started in reverse. When the left arrow went green, the car started like a jack rabbit and slammed into us. I was just getting out to talk with the driver when they took off down the road. I took a look at our front end and saw that the bumper was pushed back and cracked (pics: 1,2,3). The other car had some smashed lights and dents (we saw them as they left the scene). I decided to pull across the highway and park in the Target parking lot. Then I called 911 and reported the hit and run accident. A Hamilton Township police officer arrived and I described the accident and the car that caused it and ran. Later, when we arrived home the officer called and said that he had located the other car and was trying to interview the driver. I worked on importing the old mailing list data for Imperial 500 before dinner. The wind was still blowing and the temperature was dropping below freezing as we headed for bed.

Wednesday, December 15

At 1:38 AM, I heard the business phone ring. I was awakened from a deep sleep and didn't get a chance to get it. I used the opportunity to head into the bathroom where I heard someone coming up our outside stairs. I went to the door in my underwear and found a Lower Township Police officer there. He asked if I were me and if our car was ours. So far, I knew the answers, but I excused myself to put on a pair of pants. The officer asked how the front end of the car got damaged. I explained about the hit and run accident and showed him the card from Hamilton Township and the case number there. He explained that he was investigating a local hit and run accident and had been following a trail of water drops that ended near our driveway. What an unbelievable coincidence! The officer called in the Hamilton Township information to his dispatcher and quickly apologized and left. I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning from the double dose of adrenalin. I finally climbed out of bed. The outside temperature was 28 degrees and the wind was howling. After breakfast I made several phone calls and coordinated between Byrne Insurance Agency, Rio Auto Body, and Enterprise Car Rental for a 2:30 PM drop off of the XTerra and a pickup by Enterprise. Stephanie from Byrne said that she would get the police report from Hamilton Township and mail us a copy. I made arrangements to go to Imperial 500 on Thursday morning and left a message for Steve Tecco to try to go to Armada on the same trip. When I went outside to look at the XTerra, I saw that the front-end had moved too close to the right front tire to safely drive. I called Lou at Rio Auto Body and asked him to send a towtruck. Then I called Enterprise Car Rental and asked for a home pickup. After lunch, the towtruck came. Later in the afternoon, I went to Enterprise via my pickup and signed for a Pontiac rental car. The car was filthy because Enterprise had suffered a broken water pipe. I took it through the car wash in Rio Grande on the way home. On the way, I also picked up our knives and machete from John's Sharpening Service in Green Creek. Cathy and I went shopping at ACME. When we got back home, my DVDs for the extended edition of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King arrived. I watched the over four hour feature during and after dinner.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I got the third hint of the jinx. We had hired a driver, who happens to be a retired detective, to drive the XTerra from Naples, FL to our home in NJ. When our driver was pumping gas in mid-afternoon on March 7, in Latta, South Carolina, this geezer, hit the XTerra. Here is the driver's description of the incident. I wrote up the hassle it caused us in my online photo-journal:

  Monday was a sunny, clear, chilly day with less wind. Bill called Nationwide Insurance several times trying to get fast action on the XTerra damage. He talked to 4 different people and got an appointment at Rio Auto Body for Tuesday at 8:30 AM. Bill unloaded everything from the XTerra so Cathy could go to the store. Bill dumped the RV tanks and winterized the RV. He also continued to unload things from the RV. We took a 6 mile walk (Cathy 4) along an increasingly windier Bay. Everything looked very bleak compared to Naples. Bill took the trash out and quit work for the day. We had a good quiche meal in front of the fire while we viewed "The Jacket", a very good film with an interesting plot and great acting.

  Tuesday morning, Bill dropped the XTerra at Rio Auto Body. The manager decided that the car was unsafe to drive and made arrangements for us to have a Jeep Compass rental from Enterprise. Bill was back home by 9:30 AM after a stop at Ace Hardware to get some mousetraps. We don't know if we have mice, but the traps will find out. We finished unloading the RV and took it to storage. Bill got a cappuccino at Starbucks on the way back home. After lunch, Bill fixed the "No Trespassing" signs on the path to the beach. Our painter, Bill Addesso, came over at 2:00 PM to talk about his painting the house while we are on cruise. During late afternoon, we walked on the beach. Cathy went as far as Harpoon Henry's on the beach and then returned home via the roads. Bill walked to the Canal and back via the beach. We went to dinner at Alfe's in Wildwood. Later, we viewed "Pure", a tough movie with a semi-happy ending.

  Wednesday was chilly and windy. Bill temporarily fixed 3 of our lattice panels that had blown down during our absence. Then he went out on the dune and trimmed foliage. After lunch, we both worked on clearing the walls for the painter. We didn't walk because of the cold wind. During a good tortellini dinner, we viewed "Across the Universe", which was a very good movie with lots of great music and a good story line.

  Thursday started with a calm wind. Bill Addesso and his assistant, Dennis, came over at 8:00 AM and worked the morning repairing tape, cracks, and holes. We spent the morning packing for the cruise. After lunch, we went to Peebles to replace a pair of Bill's slacks that were eaten by moths. We also stopped by a drug store for some items. We went to Cape May Point State Park to walk on the beach, but the cold wind forced us to take a short walk on the nature trails in the meadow. Bill talked with Lou at Rio Auto Body, who said he was waiting for parts for the XTerra. We finished packing for the cruise and viewed "2 Days in Paris" during dinner - very edgy, funny movie which makes one think differently about balloons. We watched "Lost" using our DVR.

  Friday we had a number of issues to deal with before we left for Alex and Phil's house in Glen Mills. The most important one was getting our car back from Rio Auto Body. Bill called Lou early in the morning and got a promise that the XTerra would be ready at 12:45 PM. The painters were in the house for most of the morning, making it difficult to get things done around the house. Bill jumped on the computer at 9:55 AM and got an error on the US AIR website when trying to check-in for our flight. He called technical support for the website and got 2 seats checked-in. Then he called Customer Service and found out that we would have to wrestle for boarding passes at the gate on Saturday. Next, Bill called our travel agent at Cruise and Vacation Travel and explained our problem. Our agent said that Carnival booked the flights, so she would call them. Later, the agent called back and said that, after talking to 3 levels of employees at Carnival, she found that they had no interest in the situation. Bill realized that two of us had been bumped from the flight and that trying to get back on during Spring Break with two small kids would be frustrating at best. He knew that the only solution was to find someone with some pull at US AIR to get us all on the plane. We didn't know anyone, but Bill thought that our son-in-law Phil might have a connection. Bill called Alex and explained the situation and asked if Phil had some connection at US AIR. It turned out that Phil did have an indirect connection, a friend of a friend, who would work on the problem. Meanwhile, we were hustling to get our stuff and our house ready. Bill drove the rental car to Rio Auto Body and picked up the XTerra.

At this point, I'm almost afraid to stop the XTerra when I'm driving. All three incidents involved the car getting smacked in the front end while it was stopped. I'm nervous when I'm behind someone in line at a toll booth, I'm nervous whenever I see a Chinese woman driver in front of me at a red light, and I'm nervous when I'm getting the car gassed up. I don't know if the XTerra needs an exorcism or needs to have its chakras cleared. Pray for me and my car.

03/26/08 comments

I'm Back, Tanned, Rested, and Ready

First of all, I'm freezing my butt off in the north when I should be in the tropics still, at least until May.

Second, "Tips for Cheerleaders" is defunct, due to this epidemic.

Third, cruising with Spring Breakers offered lots of glimpses of beer bongs and beer pong, but no topless coeds.

Fourth, I came back from the cruise with a dreadful cold.

Fifth, my alma mater, Villanova, is in the Sweet Sixteen.

Sixth, I don't know whether to wear my "Life is Good" hat or my "Life is Crap" T-shirt. I guess I'll wear them both.

03/02/08 comments


I am taking "a gap or interruption in space, time, or continuity; a break" from blogging. We're getting ready to leave paradise to head north and open our house in NJ. Then, after a few days of feverish preparation, we'll be heading out on a "Spring Break" cruise with a couple of our granddaughters. After the cruise, hopefully I'll be filled with tales to share.

Meanwhile, my day-by-day photo-journal will continue as usual. To see what we're doing, head to

http://www.CapeMayBeach.net/ "Current Activities"

Thanks for coming by; I shall return.

02/29/08 comments

Cruising with Cheerleaders

The whole "Tips or Cheerleaders" staff has just completed a planning retreat at a posh resort near Clearwater Beach, FL. Unfortunately, the weather was rainy, windy, and cold, but that gave us more time to plan our exciting new venture.

Our staff has arranged with Carnival Cruise Lines to rent some space on its upcoming March 15 "Spring Break" cruise on the "Freedom" so that we can have a Cheerleading Camp on the Seas. For those of you over 18 high school cheerleaders, this is your chance to enjoy a Caribbean vacation and hone your skills at the same time.

Meet us at the "Timeless Pool Bar" on Saturday, March 15 anytime after 4 PM. Wear your sunscreen and look for our "Tips for Cheerleaders" tattoos on our arms. Workshop times will be announced as the week goes on. Don't forget to reserve a place at our table at the St. Patrick's party on Monday at Carlos and Charlie's on Cozumel. We'll be there all day.

02/24/08 comments


I heard that Sen. John McCain has lobbyists as advisors to his campaign, so I thought I'd try to understand what that would mean. Here's a definition: The process of influencing public and government policy at all levels: federal, state, and local. Here's my interpretation: The process of being a scum-sucking maggot trying to bribe government officials to bias laws in one's unearned favor.

Lobbying is legal, but is it ethical or moral? Is it fair? Who's lobbying for me in Washington? Nobody, that's who. I don't think that the blue-eyed lefthanders have an office on K Street. Therefore, lobbying is wrong!

Here's what McCain said about having lobbyists running his campaign: "These people have honorable records, and they're honorable people, and I'm proud to have them as part of my team." I wonder who's on the team looking out for me? Nobody, that's who.

How many lobbyists work for McCain? This source says: "All told, there are 11 current or former lobbyists working for or advising McCain, at least double the number in any other campaign." How many working for Hillary? This source says: "Public Citizen reports that McCain had at least 59 registered federal lobbyists raising money for his campaign, compared with 19 for Clinton." I wonder who among Hillary's lobbyists are looking out for me? Nobody, that's who.

How many lobbyists work for Obama? This source says none. So why am I not for Obama? Why not, indeed?

02/22/08 comments

Back to Work Vacation

I only caught 3 fish in 12 hours of fishing, but it was a fun trip. I always love being on the water, so fishing for me is a secondary part of the experience. Twenty-four of us were on the boat, which seemed older than any of us. It rained occasionally on Wednesday night and Thursday, but I was equipped with a rain jacket, so it wasn't a problem. The temperature was in the high 70s and low 80s with a 15 mph wind. The seas were running 4 to 6 feet as predicted.

I found out that night fishing is like day fishing except that you can't see. I perched in the bow (like in "Titanic"), so I was sitting in compete darkness. We were about 12 miles off shore, outside the reef. The two young mates (helpers) were shanghaied from a local bar, I think. They were glum and taciturn and unhelpful. It was pretty funny watching them try not to do anything. I was able to catch some good looks at the eclipse of the moon through the scattered clouds. I ended up with a very heavy duty tuna pole with a huge reel, cable-like line, and a giant hook. I got a great arm workout working that equipment. I had a hard time feeling any fish action (it's like a mosquito crashing into a tractor), but managed to catch a keeper Yellow-Tail Snapper and a throwback Mutton Snapper. The boat came back at midnight. I got to bed in the motel at 1:30 AM.

For Thursday's fishing, I got up at 5:30 AM and caught a nice pancake breakfast at a typical Keys breakfast room, equipped with the standard tan 40-something blonde with short shorts and a cigarette voice. The coffee felt good going down. We checked out and boarded the boat around 8:30 AM for the day's fishing trip. Once the boat got outside the reef, we were in the dark blue water that I really love. Back home, we have to go out about 40 miles to get into the deep blue, but in the Keys you can be there in under an hour. The boat was doing a bit of rocking and rolling, which doesn't bother me. I spent some time on the "Yellow-Tail assembly line", but ended up on my perch on the bow, loving life. I saw some flying fish, a big sea turtle, and a Magnificent Frigate Bird while we were out. I caught a keeper Mutton Snapper for my day's effort.

The "Yellow-Tail assembly line" was this weird dance of 10 anglers shuffling along the back of the boat and returning to the baiting station after each traversal. At the baiting station, a small piece of bait was put on the hook which was then embedded in a softball sized mass of oatmeal and some fish oils. The mate threw the ball in the water to start the dance. The idea was that Yellow-Tail Snappers would swim into the chum cloud and get on the hook. That didn't happen for me, but a few people did catch fish this way. On one of my repetitions, the guy next to me hurled a chunky stream of vomit into the water. I cheerily remarked that it was nice of him to add some chunks to the chum. I don't know if he liked my comment, but the next time I saw him, he was lying on a bench in the cabin with a few other sufferers of mal de mer.

When I fish, I don't eat, drink, or take breaks. I simply keep baiting and rebaiting and fishing. At the end of the day, when the captain starts the engine for the last time, I'm the guy that thinks that the trip was too short. I love fishing from the shore, in my kayak, on a small boat, on a charter boat, or on a party boat.

The hard part of the trip was driving the 3 hours back to Naples through the Everglades. My wife made me watch the Democratic Debate after dinner and kept nudging me when I dozed off. To her credit, she let me go on the trip and was happy that I enjoyed it.

02/19/08 comments


I'm leaving the paradise of Naples, FL, where I'm doing a whole lot of nothing and loving it, to go on a fishing junket with 24 other denizens of our trailer park RV resort. We're heading for Key Largo tomorrow morning. We have chartered a party boat and will be out for night fishing tomorrow night and then fishing all day on Thursday. The marine forecast for outside the reef is for 4-6 foot seas, so I hope the hurlers stay downwind of my position.

I've just survived a few days without my wife while she's been on a girl's retreat in Ft. Myers, so I need some time off. I've been struggling not to dirty any dishes and have restricted myself to a teaspoon and a measuring cup. I made the bed this morning and uncluttered the RV. I cleaned the porn off of the computer and I'm set to go.

If anything worthwhile happens on the fishing trip, I'll be sure to report it. Hasta la vista.

02/18/08 comments


Up until 1985, I was an opportunistic omnivore, just like a seagull. In that fateful year, I played a game of kickball, barefoot, on an asphalt playground and stubbed my right big toe under during a thunderous kick, destined to be a grand slam. I don't remember what I said, but I'll bet it wasn't pretty. I rushed myself to the hospital with what I thought was a broken toe, swollen, purple, and hot to the touch. In the ER, I was X-rayed and mostly ignored until a doc showed up and said, "You've got gout." Visions of Henry VIII chomping on a turkey leg danced through my head as I tried to fathom what he was saying.

I used to put away prodigious amounts of meat, mostly beef. We, mostly I, devoured half of a friend's daughter's 4H project, named Jocko and then bought sides and hind quarters of beef for our rental frozen food locker in a continuous stream for years. A local restaurant had an "all you can eat" prime ribs item on the menu. I could easily go 3 deep on the huge beef slabs, rare of course. I ate NY strip steaks every friday during our "gin and skin" night, rare and grilled of course. I was also a big gin, wine, beer, and cognac drinker. Was I a candidate for gout? I didn't think so.

I didn't believe the diagosis until I spent four sleepless nights, kept awake by the weight of the top sheet on my big toe. I think that I was prescibed Indocin to calm the inflammation. A week or so after my acute gout attack, my family and I traveled to France with a group from my wife's French class. Unfortunately for me, I had put myself on a strict bread and water diet to help alleviate my swollen toe. I had to fashion sandals that put no pressure at all on my toe in order to walk.

When I returned home from France, I did some research on gout. I didn't have the Internet available, so I guess I went to a library, but those details have faded away. In any event, I discovered that gout was an arthritic disease that, in an acute attack, was characterized by uric acid crystals settling into joints. Because of gravity, the big toe was often where the attacks occurred. I started getting regular blood tests, which never showed abnormally high uric acid levels. I was told of a drug that could prevent gout attacks, but it was a daily dose medicine that I didn't want. I decided to tackle the problem by means of diet.

Somehow, I discovered Dr. Dong's arthritis diet. Here's a summary of his diet: no meat, no fruit. So I gave up meat and fowl in 1985. I loved fruit, so I ddn't give it up, but I cut down a bit. I also quit eating broccoli, cauliflower (great sacrifice), and asparagus. I ignored the fact that alcohol, especially white wine, were very bad for gout. As time went on, my diet evolved. I put myself on a heart attack diet of no fat, no sugar, and no salt. I gave up coffee for a couple of years. This was the hardest part of the regime. I started sucking down caffeine again when I read about the performance enhancement provided by coffee for night driving. Finally, in 1990, I gave up booze, easy compared to caffeine. I took my diet to a macrobiotic minimum. I only drank water and herbal tea and ate mostly rice and beans and a little fruit.

In 1995, we moved to the Jersey Shore. I decided that I would have to add fish and other seafood back into my diet or else move to the mid-west. Meanwhile, I had very few gout attacks, but they continued sporatically, usually accompanied by some foot or leg trauma such as our six days of backpacking in Norway in 1990.

I had a kidney operation in 2002, evidently unconnected with any health issue. During the pre-op, my urologist put me on a daily dose of Allopurinol to prevent gout attacks. I am still on it; so much for diet.

I have backslid a lot since my macrobiotic days. Now I eat pizza and lots of "normal" food. I eschew meat and fowl and try not to eat eggs unless they are in pancakes or waffles (or desserts). Anyway, for anyone reading all this way into this post, it was motivated by this article in the NY Times. My poor wife has suffered with the various forms of my diet over these pas 23 years. She is a moderate eater with a very "normal" diet.

02/16/08 comments

My Haircut(s)

Yesterday, my wife and I decided to get haircuts. We found Rosa's Esthetica around the corner from our RV Park, in a strip mall with a Latino flavor. On the window it said "UNISEX", so we figured we were at the right place. We arrived early, at slightly before 10 AM, since we didn't have an appointment.

The only thing that I think is pretty cool about the Roman Catholic liturgy is the magic moment when the consecrated host is broken into the chalice. Most Catholics don't know this, or care about it, but the church says that that moment in the mass is joined in a nexus with all other such moments in all masses, past, present, and future. What a great concept. I've used a variation of this to imagine that my every jog is in the presence of every other one. I can use this device to actually run in Key West while I transport my mind to Bath, England, for one example. I also can imagine the same nexus for all of my haircuts.

I can only remember one of my haircuts that was completely voluntary, and that was on the day that I got married. On that banner day, my regular barber gave me a free shave and haircut as a wedding present. Other than that, my mother, my First Sergeant in the Army, and my wife have always "suggested" when it is time for me to get my hair cut.

The last time we walked into a hair cutting establishment called "Esthetica" was when we were in Oaxaca, Mexico. On that occasion, we walked into a tiny shop with two women that spoke no English. Luckily, we remember enough of our Spanish from the year before to communicate and get our haircuts.

We weren't prepared for the sight that awaited us inside of Rosa's: two gay Mexican hombres sitting on a couch in an otherwise empty shop. As my wife said later, "They weren't doing anything." It's a good thing that they weren't doing anything, because "Six Feet Under" used to cause me to look away at times, and my wife had ordered me to get a haircut. One of the fellas spoke a bit of English, so we were in luck. Also, a man's haircut was just $10, a woman's was just $15. My gay caballero spoke very little English, so I had minimal conversation, but my wife was able to talk with her hairdresser. It turned out that these guys were very good barbers, gave us shampoos, and blow-dried our hair for the low prices.

It wasn't exactly a trip to Wal-Mart, but it was a good trip anyway.

02/14/08 comments

Cada Dia es un Regalo*

Today was a special day for me. Was it because it was St. Valentine's Day? No, I don't get too worked up over Hallmark's holidays. Was it because the sky was a beautiful blue all day? No, but it was sure nice to see that gorgeous sky after two days of rain. Was it because I saw two Bald Eagles during the walk after my run this morning? No, but it's always wonderful to see Eagles. Was it because I had a great day on the water in my kayak today? No, but I really appreciate being out on the water. Was it because I caught my first ever Snook while fishing off of the kayak today? No, but I hope that small fry will be followed in March by a bigger Snook that I can keep.

Today was a special day because every day is a gift. I didn't deserve today, I didn't earn it, I had no right to it, I wasn't lucky to win it. This day was a present, given to me, and I sure did appreciate it. As with any gift, I could have analyzed it and found some faults. As with any gift, I could have just set it aside, maybe for later. As with any gift, I could have accepted it gratefully and try to use it the best that I could; and that's just what I did.

Yesterday was a special day for me, too.

* I said this to our somewhat cynical Spanish teacher at our school in El Palo, Spain, leaving him a bit speechless for a while.

02/13/08 comments

Over at Mental Poo, a "commandments" meme has started. This list is from an earlier post of mine where I was thinking about things I would force people to obey, if I could:

1. No feeding seagulls
2. No smoking (this one is very hypocritical, but within the rules)
3. No Chinese woman can drive a motor vehicle
4. No wife can deviate from the dicta of Ephesians 5
5. No citizen can miss voting in an election for which they're eligible

#5 came from my wife, Scrambler, who doesn't agree with or follow #4.

02/11/08 comments

Things That Go BEEP in the Night

Early this morning, in the wee hours, I heard a BEEP, and was instantly, but groggily, awake. What was that? My mind quickly wandered over the prime candidates: cell phone, computer, smoke detector, CO detector, propane detector, owl.

This happens to me very often, but more often at home than on the road in the RV. I had flashbacks to BEEPs in my past. Most often, one of our cell phones is crying out for juice in a most persistent way. Why do they usually do this in the middle of the night? The weirdest one I ever had was my "noninterruptable" power supply beeping because it thought its battery was bad. So, it was "noninterruptable", but "interrupting?"

We actually have a smoke detector at home that is 20 feet up from the floor. This is the one of the whole set that usually BEEPs at night. I remember one night when it was 25 degrees and windy outside and the high smoke detector started BEEPing at 3 AM. I had to dash outdoors into the cold and go under the house to get my aluminum extension ladder. I carried it up the side stairs into the house and then wrestled it up the inside stairs. I set up the ladder in the upstairs hall and extended it. Then I climbed the ladder and changed the battery.

During the winter of 2003, while we were residing in Spain for 4 months, we were on a weekend trip to Lanjarón in the Alpujarra mountains, staying overnight in an old hotel. In the middle of the night (naturally) I heard a BEEP which occurred periodically for the rest of the night. I got up and looked around and finally established that the sound was right outside of our window. I imagined that an electrical transformer was about to blow up and destroy our room, but held back on evacuating. Some days later I discovered that the sound was the strange call of a Saw-whet Owl.

Last night, after hearing the BEEP, I jumped out of bed and started looking around. I found that the problem was with the propane detector. A yellow light was on steadily and it was BEEPing every 10 seconds or so. The propane detector is under our dinette table, so I had to dismantle the table to get a good look at it and read the front panel. I found 3 lights: green, yellow, and red. Normally, the green one blinks. The red light would mean that there is free propane and the RV is about to explode. The yellow light was marked "fault."

From our previous RV, I knew that low voltage causes a propane detector to go into the fault condition, so I checked to see that our power was OK by making sure that the microwave panel light was on. There is a "test" switch on the front of the propane detector, but I thought that pushing that button might set off a constant siren or something that would wake up the whole trailer park RV resort.

By now, my wife was also fully awake wondering why I hadn't fixed the problem. I dropped a few F-bombs to quiet her and then went outside with a flashlight to check our propane supply. We had over a quarter of a tank, so that wasn't the problem. I came back in, turned off the furnace, turned off the water heater, and dropped a few more F-bombs. Then I went back outside and turned off the main propane valve. As a last resort, I pulled out the telephone-book sized RV manual with no index or table of contents with random vague information about every RV that Coachmen makes.

I muttered F-bombs as I paged through the manual and learned that we might have a propane system on board if we had an appropriate RV model. Then I dug out our bag of manuals for each and every item in our RV. I went through the materials, one after another. There was the manual for the TV, DVD player, toaster, ...., and finally a 2 by 2 inch micro-manual for the propane detector. I read through the information after choosing the English section. I found that if the yellow light was blinking, then there was low voltage, but there wasn't anything about a steady yellow light. Then I saw a tiny schematic on one of the tiny pages. It said that a steady yellow light meant that there was a "nonmicroprocessor fault." The suggested remedy was to push the "test" button. I pushed the "test" button and nothing happened. Some F-bombs followed.

When my computer freezes and all else fails, I hold the power button for about 10 seconds and the computer turns off. Thinking analogously, since I was very wide awake at this time, I held the "test" button until the yellow light went out and the green light went on. When I released the button, the green light started to blink normally. I went outside, turned on the propane, came in, turned on the hot water heater and the furnace and crawled into bed.

02/08/08 comments

I'm tired of listening to the pundits on CNN and MSNBC, so here's my two cents worth:

  1. Romney restyles himself as a short liberal and offers himself as the Democratic VP candidate.
  2. Huckster quits the race and joins McCain as the Republican VP candidate. They immediately launch a national campaign in the traditional swing states.
  3. Richardson endorses Clinton and gets the VP candidate slot. Obama accepts a deal for Secretary of State. The Democratic national strategy becomes:
    1. Richardson stumps for Latinos
    2. Obama stumps for African Americans
    3. Clinton stumps for women
    4. Bill is sent off with a 9 month supply of nubile young women to occupy him until after the election.
  4. The election ends in an electoral college tie. The House of Representatives elects Gore/Obama as President and Vice-President. Gore wears his Nobel Medal to the inauguration.

You heard it here first, folks.

02/07/08 comments

I found out the other day that I'm related to George Bush, both of 'em. In fact, I'm related to the last six Presidents. If Hillary is elected, I'll be related to her, too. Wait a minute, I'm related to her anyway, aren't I?

This is pretty weird stuff. How can I help voting for Cousin Hill? Does this mean I can't date Cameron Diaz? Or, maybe I just can't marry her. It's a big relief for me that my wife has beautiful brown eyes. Think of the inbreeding we might have kicked off otherwise.

Doing some thorough research on the Internet, I found a website that claims that 8% of the world population is blue-eyed. I also found a website that claims that 10% of the world's population is left-handed. Note the coincidence that 8% of 10% is exactly the same as 10% of 8%. That must mean that 0.8% of the world's population are blue-eyed left-handers like me.

That must mean that there are only a few of us, including four of the last six Presidents (Ford, Reagan, Bush(41), Clinton). McCain and Obama are left-handed but not blue-eyed. Angelina Jolie, Marilyn Monroe, and Sarah Jessica Parker are members of my exclusive club. I'm going to try to get a reunion organized down here in Naples for early March. I guess Norma Jean won't be coming.

Trivia: how many know that Marilyn was on the cover of the first issue of Playboy? How many of you bought and used that issue as I did?

02/06/08 comments

It's the first day of Lent and I'm not hung over because I don't drink (anymore) and I'm not sacrificing anything because I'm a Pagan. Living is easy because I'm in Naples, FL where we tied a record with 87 degrees yesterday and today will be 84.

So why am I upset this morning? As I've reported before, I spent 4 months in Spain in 2003, January through April, and was there when Dick Cheney invaded Iraq in March. I, and most of the Spanish people, were very upset about the invasion, but we would have been even more enraged had we realized the kind of piss-poor planning went into the fiasco.

Last night I viewed the documentary, "No End in Sight." Here's a spoiler: you will want to throw a brick at your TV while viewing it. For me, the documentary put together a lot of bits and pieces of information about the mismanagement of the invasion and occupation. I was angry before, but I'm enraged now.

02/04/08 comments

New Award

I am awarding the premier edition of Hungry Mother's Princess and the Pea Sensitivity Award to the lovely Preposterous Ponderings for her treatment of a geezer blowing his nose in a restaurant. This award, not hindered by the writers' strike, will be given out, on an aperiodic basis to

"those individuals who have exuded hypersensitivity in their writings as chosen by our board of directors."

In discussing this first time honor for Preposterous Ponderings, the board highlighted a case of hypersensitivity that bordered on First Amendment Rights of excretion, which include:


Congratulations to Miss Ponderings!

02/03/08 comments

Back home in Cape May Beach, NJ, I try to participate in the Jersey Shore 5K, 5 Mile, and 10K road races, which are usually available on Saturday or Sunday during the late spring to the mid-fall along the shore from Cape May to Brigantine. I would say that I "run" the races, but, in recent years, my pace has slowed to either a jog, a slog, or a plod, depending on the weather and the state of my old legs.

These road races are quite the social event, because the same hard core of runners attend from week to week throughout the season. Running is one of the "gravity" sports that work against my thick, neanderthal frame. I do better at swimming or kayaking, where I get some help in countering the force of gravity. So, when I do run, it often isn't the most pleasant of activities for me, especially in the heat and humidity of the Jersey Shore in the summer.

I have developed a strategy that works very well for me in road races. I try to find a trim female runner, preferably from 18 to 35, with a sweet little rear end, and, most importantly, who runs about my pace. When I find my target, I position myself about 5 yards behind her and enjoy the scenery for the entirety of the run.

During a 5 miler last summer, my target turned back to me at the finish line and thanked me for pushing her to a better pace than she would have had otherwise. I didn't thank her for the view, but maybe I should have, because I think she'd have been happy to help me in that innocent way.

On Saturday, I ran a local 6K Naples race called the "Run for the Paws", sponsored by the Humane Society. Now, I'm not known to be much of a pet lover, but I was just in it for the race, not for the fun of running with a bunch of dogs on leashes. The race morning was beautifully warm and humid, just like home in the summer.

Shortly after the start, I located my target, a willowy young woman in cute black shorts who was running just about my 9:45 per mile pace. I took up my position and enjoyed the view until we came to a place where the course narrowed to a concrete path through a palm forest. At this point, I had to pass some dogs to keep in the proper viewing position. I found that dogs don't like to be passed in a running race. I guess it's that canine pride, but each of the dogs made a threatening feint towards me as I passed, causing its owner to pull on the leash and say something like, "No, Bobby, leave him alone." I managed to keep up with Miss Black Shorts because I wanted the view more than I was afraid of getting bitten.

In the last quarter mile of the race, someone handed a leash to my target and she had to slow down because of the dog and I had to pass her because she had slowed. So, I hurt more for that last bit of the race because my pleasant distraction was gone.

Just another little tale of how a geezer gets along.

02/01/08 comments

Finally, "Lost" came back on the air. I so missed seeing Kate and Claire and the other foxy chicks in the show. I've been thinking for some time that the show is dealing with time warps and alternate universes, and my guess was reinforced by the show last night. I think that the island is some kind of portal to alternate times and universes.

Those of you that watch the show know that the beach scenes are from the North Shore on Oahu. The peninsula that is often in view is Kaena Point, which my wife and I walked along in our trip to Hawaii in 2005. Those big waves that you see in the show are North Shore surfing quality.

If you're not a "Lostie", I suggest that you buy or rent the DVDs for the previous seasons and tune in to this season. It's a great show for many reasons, not the least of which is due to the physical beauty of the cast.

01/31/08 comments

I'm going to postpone my "Tips for Cheerleaders" post for this month and make a special offer for cheerleaders in my February 29 post.

A couple of days ago, I was walking on the path along the fence of the Naples Airport, near our trailer park RV Resort, when a B17 landed right over my head. It was a thrill, but I didn't have my camera with me to record the event. I thought about the role of that airplane in WWII and all of the brave young Americans who died in it.

I read in the paper this morning that the B17 was going to take off around noon, so I positioned myself on the path at the end of the runway, after using the wind direction to figure out which runway it would use. I had to wait until almost 1:00 PM, but it was worth the wait to see the dramatic takeoff.

Back home, I don't have a big deck, but it's very functional (a nod to the Back 40). Last summer, out on that deck, I had the privilege to see a few planes of that WWII vintage fly low over it. When I think back to WWII, the last "good" war for the U.S., I feel a sense of patriotism that listening to politicians doesn't instill.

After I watched the B17 take off, during lunch I listened to Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA", where one line is "From the coast of California to the shores of Delaware Bay", which is the story of my life.

01/30/08 comments

So Caroline and Teddy Kennedy endorsed Obama yesterday, along with the justifiably lesser known Patrick Kennedy, whose last name is all he has going for him. I have fond remembrances of Caroline when she was a cute little Presidential kid, but I don't think that gives her the juice to tell me who to vote for. Teddy, on the other hand, has a lot of accomplishments. For one thing, he managed to kill a young woman without suffering the kind of penalties that most of us would suffer in similar circumstances.

Teddy was lucky about his timing in his killing of Mary Jo, because 2 days after her death, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. This exciting moment of history and Teddy's hard work suppressing the news of his problem, probably saved his ass. I know that was a long time ago, but Mary Jo is still dead. In my opinion, Teddy has been an embarrassment as a senator.

Therefore, when Teddy endorses something, my instincts are to go the other way. My main idea of Obama is that he is a creation of the media. In 2004, he was acclaimed as a "Rock Star" when he delivered an address to the Democratic Party convention. The media's enamorment with him makes my rebellious streak balk at supporting him.

But, Hillary, in the last few debates, has reminded me of my high school English teacher, Miss Raycroft, right before she slammed a kid's head into the blackboard. Scary! Her husband, Wild Bill, has been a loose cannon, which makes me wonder what he would be like as a first lad (to borrow from Maureen Dowd). I'm not quite ready to jump on Obama's bandwagon, but I'll be watching the Clintons carefully in the next few weeks to see if they improve.

01/28/08 comments

Last night, we took some time off from the incessant political chatter on TV to watch the far more fulfilling SAG Awards:

1. There were some great gowns on some of the "actors", but where have gowns like this gone?

2. Why does the very useful term, "actress", disappear during this show? Consider the sentence: "The most important thing for an actor is [her, his, their, the, his/her, her/his] role." Why make it so difficult? Why not just have the two very clear and grammatically correct sentences? To further complicate matters, in the show's lead-in, and actress claimed to be Johnny Depp.

3. I loved "The Sopranos" and it was a good night to remember and honor the show and its actors.

4. "Entourage" deserved the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. I choke myself on laughter when I view that show.

5. Daniel Day Lewis is such a great actor! His acceptance speech was weird, but touching.

6. Woody Harrelson looked smashed, coked up, or both. His appearance and behavior were bizarre on the red carpet, in the audience, and on stage with fellow cast members of "No Country for Old Men."

01/27/08 comments

I'm trying to figure out when I consider a show a comedy. No spoilers here, but I viewed "No Country for Old Men" yesterday and didn't consider it a comedy. I really liked this movie by the Coen Brothers, but what made me think it wasn't a comedy? So far in my viewing of the Oscar candidates, I rank them in the reverse order in which I've seen them:

No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

I'm dreading the day I have to view the chick flick "Juno", but maybe I'll like it.

Here's an example of my quandary: I think that "Big Love" on HBO is a comedy. Does anybody agree with me? One definition of comedy is:

...any sort of performance intended to cause laughter.

So, to find out if something is a comedy, we have to find out the intentions of the producers? Somehow, this seems wrong to me. I think I would modify the definition as:

...any sort of performance that, in the main, causes laughter.

When I compare "Raising Arizona", usually considered a comedy, with "No Country for Old Men", generally considered a film noir, I find that the characters and events match up very closely, so the whole must be more than the sum of the parts.

01/25/08 comments

Today I find myself limping, I have to use my hands to lift my legs into my kayak, bed, and the car. Many, many of my muscles and tendons are screaming in pain. What's going on? Not much, just that I decided to take up softball after 35 years without playing.

I never played a lot of softball or baseball because I've always preferred ball sports that allow direct contact with the ball, rather than those that use a bat, a racket, or a club. I enjoyed playing basketball, football, volleyball, and handball rather than golf, tennis, or softball/baseball. But, I did play some softball, and was known to have an awesome throwing arm and a big bat.

The geezers here in the trailer park RV resort in Naples, FL engage in lots and lots of activities. Every night there is a happy hour held in a gazebo near our RV. There are weekly men's and women's luncheons, fishing trips, weekly golf, exercise classes, noodle water aerobics, bingo, and myriad parties. Also, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a few guys play in an over 50 softball "league" at one of the county parks. The people here are very friendly and try to be inclusive in their activities. I was invited to join the guys that played softball. I explained that I hadn't played in 35 years, but I was told that I could join anyway. I said that I'd try to make it this past Tuesday.

I had to get a glove so I could play. Since I'm left-handed, I couldn't borrow a glove because there are relatively few left-handed ball players. I tried to get a glove at Wal-Mart, but naturally there were only right-handed gloves available. I had to go to a local sports emporium to find a left-handed glove and I had to pay a bit more than I wanted to. I also had to buy some neat's-foot oil to condition the glove so that it wouldn't be to stiff to use. I spent a couple of days oiling the glove to get it ready.

My first day of softball came on Tuesday. Six of us from the campground drove over to the park forming a larger group of 40 guys. We were randomly divided into two groups to play on the two fields. Then, on our field, we were randomly divided into two teams. Next thing I knew, I was playing in right field, the traditional place to hide a team's worst defensive player.

Especially with the stiff new glove, I knew that I would suck at catching the ball, partly because I wouldn't be able to judge trajectories of flies and grounders. I knew that I would suck at batting the ball because I prefer direct contact with a ball and hadn't had any practice in so many years. I knew that I would suck at running to or after balls and running bases. I didn't know that I would also suck at throwing the ball.

The first time a ball was hit in my direction, I picked it up and heaved it toward second base, but the ball only went for a very short distance. I couldn't believe it! I used to be the big kahuna of throwing a ball for long distance. I think two of my granddaughters could have thrown the ball as far as I did on Tuesday.

My hitting actually went better than I thought it would. My only goal was to actually meet the ball with the bat, but I got a couple of hits and got on base. I was running bases faster than I thought I could also, until I got on third base. I told the third base coach that I needed to be told what to do, since I hadn't played in so long. The next guy up hit a deep line drive. The third base coach didn't say anything, so I didn't do anything. I happened to look toward second base and saw a base runner about half way between second and third, heading my way. Holy crap! I had to run home as fast as I could. When I started my sprint, I tweaked my left groin. No more "fast" running for me on that day, but I did score.

At the end of the session, I was already sore and limping. To cut to the chase, I showed up again on Thursday, slightly hobbled. I sucked and tweaked my other groin and picked up some additional soreness.

I'm resigned to being the worst player on the field for a couple of weeks until I get used to playing. I'll show up next Tuesday and see what happens.

01/23/08 comments

Some very random thoughts today:

1. It's so great when someone is just purely nice to you with no possible profit to herself. I was fishing on my kayak yesterday, hooked a small fish, and drifted into a dock while reeling it in. A lovely young lady, Diana Mei, who happens to run an international bedding design business, was standing on her lawn when she spotted me next to her dock. Instead of yelling at me to get away from her property, she came over to the dock with a smile on her face. I explained what happened and she pulled out a digital camera and took two pictures of me. For the police? No, she asked me for my email address, and by the time I got back to the RV, the photos were in my email inbox. What a nice person!

2. I went to a theater and viewed my second Oscar nominated picture, "There Will Be Blood." This film is such a showcase for the talents of the great actor Daniel Day Lewis. It is sometimes a very tough movie to watch, but it will be a classic. I highly recommend it!

3. Will John Edwards emerge as the Democratic candidate because Hillary and Obama aren't talking about issues? I thought he won the last debate and only have his humongous mansion and attack dog lawyering against him. He does have a solid, populist message.

4. Am I a straight guy who's spiritually gay, as suggested by Dolphin, a real friend of marine mammals and those of us who care about them?

5. For two days this week, Naples, FL has had the highest temperature for the whole continental U.S. I picked at good spot to hunker down in, didn't I?

6. Isn't it great to find out what's really going on from Jon Stewart, on his "A Daily Show?"

01/22/08 comments

Stealth tagged me for the "quirky meme" yesterday, because she wants me to shut up about Hillary. So I only get to say "Hillary" twice in this posting today.

My wife told me that I don't have any quirks, but I think that I have these six:

  • I'm very rebellious - my mother used to say, "Tell Billy that it's black and he'll say it's white."
  • I think I'm an average Joe - I really don't think that I deserve anything special out of life and I'm very accepting of anything I have to bear that the average person has to bear.
  • I'm a "real" left-hander - I definitely have some mixed up synapses and scrambled neurons.
  • I can have women friends without any sexual thoughts - some people think that this is impossible, but it's not. This was even true when my hormones were raging when I was a teen.
  • I'm part of the definition of extremist - I even shock myself sometimes.
  • I love "Air Supply" - I haven't met anyone who thinks this is normal.

The rules of this meme are:

  • Link to the person that tagged you.

  • Post the rules on your blog.

  • Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.

  • Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.

  • Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

I'm giving my "limp" tag to anyone on my blog roll who hasn't done this meme and wants to reveal some quirks.

01/21/08 comments

DrowseyMonkey awarded me this award for "Excellence in Blogging." I appreciate the award, particularly from such an excellent blogger. Excellence is such a wonderful concept, much better than good, great, or perfect. Excelling at something implies that you work at it and have some degree of success. Thank you, DrowseyMonkey.

The award originated with Project Mommy who says: ... I love being a part of the blogging community and part of all the friendships that I've formed so I wanted to give a blog award for all of you out there that have Excellent Blogs.By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10. Thank you out there for having such great blogs and being such great friends! You deserve this! Feel free to award people who have already been awarded…

Here's my list of 25 Excellent Blogs, in no particular order; hope you check them out if you haven't already:

Total Diatribe
Hear ItFrom.Us!
The Velvet Factor
Mimzie's Muzings
Spazoid's Space
Preposterous Ponderings
Observations from the Back 40
C. Rag
Tequila Mockingbird
Tongue in Check
Totally Useless
The Quixotic Hierophant
Vonnegut's Asshole
Editorials from Hell's Leading Daily Newspaper
Kelso's Nuts
Mental Poo
I'm Down with That
Olga the Traveling Bra
Mutterings of a Mad Bookseller
Omyword, Did I Say That?
Beer is not Food
Eye of the Dolphin
Politics After 50

01/19/08 comments

Yesterday, on TotalDiatribe, BillyMac presented the results of his research team on the roots of the Huckster's Christo-fascist movement. I commented that I was going to go to the local Create-a-Bear and make a bear that I would name "Jesus" as a kind of protest of something or another.

Anyway, I was thinking about religion and noted an article in the Naples Daily News about Ave Maria and its failure to get its oratory consecrated by the Catholic Church. Ave Maria is a town and university founded by Domino's Pizza and dedicated to the idea that you too can subject yourself to Catholo-fascism by living their under their rules and regulations.

With the sorry state of the Catholic Church, not that I'm sorry about it, you would think that Mother Church would welcome a group of zealots willing to set up a whole town under Catholic guidelines. But no, the Church is only interested in power and money and is not willing to allow anybody else to own their consecrated halls. Where are Penn and Teller when you need them?

01/18/08 comments

I'm on a testosterone rebound from yesterday's post, so I thought I'd write about two things I admire about women (and I don't mean the left one and the right one).

Common Sense
   I've found that women wield Occam's Razor far better than men do. I often build up fabulously complicated scenarios to solve situations. I do extensive research on the Internet, I wander up and down the aisles of Home Depot, and I reserve large blocks of time for the task. Usually, at some point in the process, my wife says, "Couldn't you just ...", and thereby provides a simple solution. At this, my knee-jerk reaction is to say one of, "If you knew how complex this is, you wouldn't say that", "I wish it were that simple", or "Shut the hell up". Actually, I've never dared used the third one, but I've thought it many times. My testosterone-driven ego won't allow me to see the truth of my wife's simple suggestion. If I'm lucky, I'll come to my senses and take her approach; otherwise, I just dig myself deeper into the morass of a badly designed solution.

Over the years, my daughters have also picked up the mantra, "Dad, couldn't you just ...". I've even detected my four granddaughters starting to take the same approach with me. Anyway, I admit it, they're right.

Physical Grace
I really enjoy watching women joggers (and not just for the jiggly bits). The fluency of movement awes me. When I jog, the best description of me is "thundering herd", as I pound the ground and grunt and wheeze with my jerky movements. Women just flow along with no inefficiency of movement and no wasted energy.

I have been doing aerobics since 1985 and am a twice-certified aerobics instructor. At one time in the 90s, I averaged two aerobics classes a day. For the most part, I have been the only man in the class, occasionally joined by some other stumbling guy. I've done a lot of research watching spandex-clad female bodies go through heavily choreographed routines with ease and grace. Meanwhile, I always appear as though I am illuminated by a strobe light with my exaggerated jerky movements.

So I'm this clumsy, muscle-bound guy with no common sense. I've got to blame my testosterone for both of these deficiencies.

01/17/08 comments

My wife and I make it a practice to try to see each of the films nominated for Oscars. You can imagine that this requires me to view some movies that I would never, ever see or want to know anything about if they weren't nominated. So, when the Oscar nominations are announced, I root like crazy for T&A and action movies and root against all of the chick flicks.

This afternoon the temperature in Naples only got to 77 degrees and it was a bit windy, so we decided to go see a movie. I was informed that we were on our annual quest for the nominated films, so I prayed for a movie that a dude could enjoy. Instead, we attended "Atonement." First of all, where did all the old people in the theater come from? Oh yeah, we're in Naples, FL where I just got an ad from a company that will deliver your mortal remains back to your home up North if you expire unexpectedly while here.

I did get teary eyed during the movie when I noticed that Keira Knightly didn't get a boob job since her last film. Her "wet t-shirt" moment in the film was worthless. The only real suspense was when I was anxious lest an old bag with her blue hair in a beehive might sit in front of me. I tend to measure movies like this with the extent of my leg cramps and, believe me, my legs were bouncing and tapping and shaking.

I think that the acting was OK, but the story stunk so bad that I can't tell. By the end of the movie, I wanted all of the characters to die in some sort of nuclear accident. For you dudes out there, if you can in any way avoid this movie, do yourself a favor and stay away. Don't even read reviews of this dog, not even this one.

My reward was a cappuccino from Starbucks.

01/16/08 comments

I hope most people are blogging about this:

"[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards,"

I imagine that there are a lot of folks in the Middle East that are saying, "What's the matter with those Christo-fascists over there in America? They seem to want a country run by religious fanatics."

Mike Huckleberry's scary rating has just gone through the roof.

01/14/08 comments

I've decided to modify my list of candidates in the order that I would vote for them if they were the nominees of the major parties:

Ron Paul
John McCain

The omission of Richardson is of his own doing since my other list was published. I've moved John McCain up a notch because he is a veteran. Ron Paul is a veteran too, by the way. I'm not sure if Hillary should be subjected to the "vet test", but she was probably leading anti-war marches at Wellesley when she could have been serving.

Back in 1964, I felt that an American should only achieve full citizenship by serving in the military or some equivalent national service. That was the year that I finished my 3 years of active duty in the Army, which included a year in Thailand. I've tempered that view over the years, but I've been remembering how I felt and why I felt it.

I concluded that I want my President to be a veteran. I think George W. Bush technically qualifies, so the "vet test" is necessary, but not sufficient. Bill, the draft dodger, Clinton was blatantly a non-veteran.

Over the years, I have liked John McCain as a person and as a senator. He did a couple of things in 2007 that made me wonder about him, but I think that he is still a good guy and could be a good President. His position on Global Warming is exactly mine.

I don't know if my endorsement will tip the scales for McCain, but it can't hurt. Stay tuned.

01/12/08 comments

When a woman disappears, why don't they just arrest whoever is having sex with her regularly (husband, boyfriend)? He's almost always the perp and she's probably buried in his backyard or close by. Exceptions are when the woman is hiking or jogging alone. In those cases, arrest the drifter who works the area.

I don't understand why women put themselves in these bad situations. First of all, don't hike or jog alone. Second, don't get in a relationship with a guy who might kill you. Someone should develop a high school course on calculating the odds of a person to commit a homicide. Sometimes it's easy. If a boy is wearing a black trench coat to school every day, he's probably going to kill somebody, maybe in a mass execution. If a guy goes out of his way to run over cats and squirrels, would he run you over? If a guy ever gets rough, will he go all the way? Good possibility. Maybe I should develop the course. Except that I don't know much of anything about all of this.

What I do know is that I would never, ever strike a woman. I never have, and I never will. I think that any man who does is a coward and less than a man. My favorite scene in "Godfather" is when Sonny kicks the crap out of the wimpy guy who's beating up his sister. Every such guy should be hit over the head with a trash can lid.

01/11/08 comments

I viewed the movie, "Venus" the other night, just because Peter O'Toole was in it. I've loved so many of his movies over the past years, especially "Night of the Generals" and "My Favorite Year".

I can only recommend this very sad movie to those who wish to deal with the problem of quality of life versus quantity of life. In the movie, O'Toole and those that are left of his buddies are old, over the hill actors kind of left by the wayside of life.

Spoiler coming: a sort of slutty grandniece of one of the buddies comes into O'Toole's character's life. She has her issues with life and he has his. They accommodate each other to an extent and end up enriching their own and each other's lives. O'Toole dies after dipping his foot into the water at the beach, something he has loved to do all of his life. The young girl, the title character, comes to see a better way of looking at other people and life.

Since I'm not that much younger than O'Toole's character, I thought about the movie in a subjective way. First of all, I don't want to live like the old guys in the movie. They had quantity of life, but not quality of life. Even Venus didn't provide enough quality to make it seem worthwhile to me.

All of us who don't die prematurely have to face this conundrum. The ideal, of course, is a life that has both quality and quantity, but we all know from many examples that eventually, quantity reduces or destroys quality. Most of us believe that there is a level of quality of life that they do not want to go below in their own lives. It is harder to define the exact level of quality that tells them that it would be better to die. I had a friend in a nursing home who was in her 90s when she died. For a couple of years she told me, when I visited her, that she wanted to die. I don't want to come to that, but how can I prevent it? I try to eat right and stay fit, but maybe I'm just ensuring that I'll end up like her. I had another friend who died in his 50s jogging in Washington D.C. on one of those days when it was just too hot. He was better off than my older friend, in my opinion.

I'm starting to understand why Hemingway committed suicide. I'm not in that state yet. I'm loving life, which is rich and interesting every day. I have a great wife and family. But what's down the road? I tell people that I want to go by being harvested by a Mako Shark while I'm kayaking, but who knows?

A colleague of mine told me many years ago that he thought it was important to take more risks as we get older. I definitely agree, so maybe I should take up skydiving or drive a taxi again.

Sorry for such a maudlin topic today.

01/09/08 comments

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is back! We treated ourselves to a Starbucks breakfast this morning and I read in the NY Times that his first show, since coming back on air, really sucked. The article went on about how many people use this faux news show as their only news source. I would be in the same boat if my wife would ever turn frigging CNN off, but I'm stuck, when indoors, with Wolf, and Lou, and Jack all through the evening.

Since I can stay up until the 11:00 PM broadcast of the show, and since I can't TIVO or DVR in the RV, I'm stuck with 10:00 AM or 8:00 PM for the prior day's show. My wife watched the 10:00 AM version this morning while I walked. I did catch the opening segment and realized how much I missed the show in the last 9 weeks.

BTW, my RV is a mini-primary all the time. First of all, we have already sent in our absentee ballots for the NJ primary. I voted for Ron Paul in the Republican Primary and my wife voted for Obama in the Democratic Primary. If the national election was held today, I would vote for the topmost of this list that is a nominee:

Ron Paul
John McCain

My wife would vote in this order:

Ron Paul

I've got a lot of work to do. Maybe I should start making political calls to her cell phone on behalf of whoever my candidate will be. I don't expect much success, because we've only voted the same way for President in the last election when we both voted for Kerry.

01/07/08 comments

The weather is fabulous here in Naples. Today was sunny and the temperature hit 86 this afternoon.

I'm trying to weigh the wonderful weather versus the horrors of shopping with old people. OK, I'm a geezer, but my idea of shopping in a supermarket is to grab a good shopping cart with a recent lube job and round wheels and then tear up and down the aisles as if I'm on the GS Parkway, pushing people out of the way, knocking down those stupid little displays of stuff that act like speed bumps, get my groceries in a hurry, find the fastest cashier with the shortest line, race and beat the pregnant ladies to the line, pay and get out to my car where I use my cab driving skills to fly out of the lot with a bunch of shaking fists and middle fingers in the windows of the honking cars behind me. I'm from Jersey, and I don't take prisoners when I have to shop.

I discovered in the local Publix in Naples that things will be different for me here. First of all, about half of the other customers are driving those electric wheelchairs that I learned to love on my last couple of cruises on Holland America. Next, I found out that none of the other oldsters are in a hurry. They don't have a clear mission and they don't care how long they're going to be in the store. Also, if one of these QTips wants to get an item, or look at an item, on the left side of the aisle, she parks her cart, on an angle of course, on the left side of the aisle, creating even more slow motion havoc. I also noticed a couple of shoppers park their carts at the head of the aisle, not inside the aisle, and just sashay (slowly, naturally) into the aisle, to freelance. Don't these people know that there are rules? I also saw a couple of couples where the guy was on his electric scooter, totally out of it, not knowing where he was, probably soiling his diaper, and his wife was following with a shopping cart. It was like a glacial jack-knifing eighteen wheeler.

I don't know how I'm going to survive 9 weeks of this. The only good thing so far is that the other geezers seem to stay away from Starbucks, because they eschew caffeine for some reason, so I can be my Jersey rude self when I get my espresso drink of choice.

Pray for me.

01/06/08 comments

I'm still not online as readily as I want to be, but I'm now located in Naples, FL at an RV resort. I hope to be able to set up better access to the Internet in the next couple of days.

We attended the Orange Bowl in Hollywood, FL where I got really pissed off at all of the advertising before and during the game. Everywhere you looked there was an ad. All afternoon, banner planes flew over the tailgating area, distracting us from our drinking. The worst part was that some of the TV ads and all of the Orange Bowl's own ads for its 21 sponsors appeared on the JumboTron with the sound really cranked up. We were seated in the club level. Right above us, circling the entire stadium, was a another screen in the shape of a band. Throughout the game, this band was dynamic with all kinds of advertising. The variation in lighting on the field must have been distracting to the players (oh yeah, they fit a game in amongst all of the ads, too).

I am so fed up with advertising! This country is absolutely becoming the "Idiocracy" described in that movie. I try not to ever use any products that I see advertised in an intrusive way. Maybe if we all did that, we would not be so bombarded. We don't need laws, just consumer action.

01/01/08 comments

I got tagged for the archive meme by Drowsey Monkey. In looking back over my archives, I realized that most of my posts are either reminiscences, mental notes, or conversation starters.

1. 10/20/05 - a family post on the occasion of the birth of a grandchild

2. 10/01/05 - at least I mention a friend in this post

3. 10/10/05 - this post about me came about when I was thinking about life's highlights

4. 02/27/06 - I really love my DVR and pay homage in this post

5. 06/06/06 - a devilish post about marriage

Archive Meme Instructions: Go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you've written. ... but there is a catch: Link 1 must be about family. Link 2 must be about friends. Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are... what you're all about. Link 4 must be about something you love. Link 5 can be anything you choose. I think this is a great way to circulate some of the great older posts everyone had written, return to a few great places in our memories and also learn a little something about ourselves and each other that we may not know. Post your five links and then tag five other people. At least TWO of the people you tag must be newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better....and don't forget to read the archive posts and leave comments!

I'm giving my usual limp tag to anyone on my blog list that is interested in exploring their archives and reminding us of past posts.



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