Thursday, March 26, 2015

This woman is stalking me...

Here she is waiting outside my apartment, just waiting to pounce.  I'm scared.

This is Angie Hicks, of Angie's List fame.  Ever since I went to her website to check up on a local business, she won't leave me alone.  Of course they wanted me to buy into their service, which I didn't want to do.  First they sent me a few polite email "invitations" to join, which I ignored.  Then they called in the Big Gun, Angie herself.

It seems like every day Angie sends me a personal plea to come to her site.  (I think that's some sort of code word.)  She wants me, badly.  I told her I was married, and asked here to leave me alone.  She won't take no for an answer.  Listen to me Angie...."no" means NO!  I've moved on.  

I think she must have learned about perseverance from the Wall Street Journal.  If you've ever subscribed to the WSJ, then let your subscription lapse, you'll know what I'm talking about.  They hound you unmercifully.  They must have spent a small fortune sending me mailers.  

Then they resorted to calling me on the phone.  "Please.....PLEEEEEEEEEEASE come back" they begged.  I reminded them I'm on the no-call list, but they said we already had a "relationship"....thank God for that Evade and Escape book I found at the half-price used book store.

Now it's Professional Builder magazine.  It's nothing more that a book of ads, and I don't read it anymore.  When my subscription ran out (it was free to begin with) they fired up their email pleadings.  They send me half a dozen a day, really!  I've tried to unsubscribe, but they ignore my request.

What is it with these people?  Do they somehow think I have money?  Have they seen my penny jar?  Are they all Angie's kinfolks?  

I think I need to officially sign up with that witness protection program.  *Shhh....I'm not here*

S


 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Drum roll, please......

 You may now kiss my ring.

This is a momentous occasion in American history, according to the esteemed junior Senator from Texas.  That's because he, Ted Cruz, aka "Mister Modest", "Scuz"*, and "Teddy the Turd"** (hereinafter referred to in polite company as simply "TT"), has announced his candidacy for President of the United States of America.

On a social media message today he asked us to look at his record, proving he's the one-and-only true conservative that can lead us to the Promised Land.  He's not a poser, he says, but a true conservative's conservative.  Go ahead, look at his record.  See for yourself.  

In the interest of political enlightenment I have compiled here his complete two-year record of Congressional accomplishment:





There you have it.  So if you want more TT (and there's plenty more where this came from), your time has come.   Oh joy!

S

*    Late night talk show hosts, feel free to use this.
** Late night talk show hosts, feel free to use this.








Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I can't HEEEEAR you!


There was a big rally in the Wisconsin state capital recently to protest the fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American youth by a Madison policeman responding to a disturbance.  Tragic....absolutely.  But was the shooting justified or not?  I don't know, and you don't know, and neither does anyone attending the above protest rally.  

Maybe I missed something.  Are they protesting this particular shooting or just the idea of unequal enforcement of the law, "profiling", and discrimination in general?  If it's the latter, why aren't these protests year round?  After all, those injustices happen year round.  Fact.

K and I have gone round and round about this.  She says I'll never "get it" because I'm an old white guy.  I don't understand what there is to "get"?  Until an investigation is complete and the results released, no one can say who was right or wrong. 

What the protesters should be demanding is an impartial, detailed, transparent investigation.  To their credit the State of Wisconsin has a law that says local police cannot investigate a fatal shooting by one of their own.  Otherwise the potential is there for the local mounties to cover for a friend, someone they know well, worked side-by-side with, who they've shared meals and personal milestones with.  A distant third party needs to be the investigating body.  This should be a law everywhere.

And how many of these tragedies do we need to go through before we mandate all responding police officers be equipped with body cameras?  I'm sure the cost is an issue in some cities, but with the way our federal government throws around blank checks, surely they could subsidize local police departments who can't afford them on their own.  It seems like the absolute best way to know how a shooting actually went down.

You can't crucify the cop without knowing the facts.  TV news and non-eyewitness accounts are NOT facts.  That just isn't how our justice system works.  WAIT....come to think of it, why not just decide guilt or innocence by popular opinion?  BRILLIANT!  

Put the parties involved, dead or alive, on a stage with (former game show host now judge) Chuck Woolery.  He could hold a sign over each guy's head, one at a time, and let an applause-o-meter decide.  No stinkin' facts, no grubby lawyers to muck things up.  Just up or down....5 minutes....wham, bam.  Done! 

  

 Then, if you lose, Chuck can take you out back (assuming you're not already dead) and shoot you.

Our Founding Fathers would be so proud of our thoughtfulness and efficiency.  :)

S


Monday, March 9, 2015

Old dogs and new tricks



 Me, performing a new trick.  NOT!

Last Friday evening while we were out for our weekly date night K asked if we could stop by Target on our way home....she said she needed some shampoo.  I asked her why she hadn't told me this sooner as I had just gone to the store that day and done our weekly shopping.  She said it was because she didn't know what kind of shampoo she wanted.  She chooses a different one every week, and she doesn't know the weekly winner until she peruses the shelf.

She does this on every occasion, in every category.  When we go out to a favorite restaurant, for example, she gets something different every time.  And 4 times out of 5 she's disappointed.  She always says on our way out, "I should have had what you had."  She calls me a "stick in the mud" because when I find something I like, I stick with it.  She's right.  That's why I'm not disappointed 4 times out of 5.  She says I'm in a rut.

My shampoo is Suave for Men....always.
My soap is Irish Spring....always.
My deodorant is Arrid....always.
My toilet paper is Charmin....always.

My pizza always has the same toppings.
My entree is the same each visit at a favorite restaurant. 

My steak is always a fillet, medium rare.
My chicken is always a breast.
My bacon is always crisp.
My scotch is always Glenfiddich.
My beer is always Dos Equis. 
My coffee is always FourBucks....er....Starbucks.
My soft drink is always Coke. 
My water comes out of the shower head in the bathroom.

My t-shirts and shorts are from LL Bean.  They fit, they last, and they aren't expensive.
My heavy coat came from LL Bean, too.  Lighter ones come from REI.
My dress clothes (such as they are) come from Men's Wearhouse.
My jeans are Wrangler.
My underwear is Jockey.
My shoes are Sperry, Merrill, or Asics.

My watch is a cheap solar powered Casio G-Shock because my expensive watch (which now resides in a drawer) kept eating batteries.  I am maintenance intolerant.

My cars are foreign.
My trucks (back when I had a truck) were Fords.
My lawnmower is a....Hahaha!

My firearms are Beretta, H&K, or Benelli.
My ammo is Federal.
My shells are Winchester.

My airline is Southwest.
My TV is Samsung.
My computer and phone are Apple.
My pets are dogs.
My sport is football (college), followed by its English cousin, rugby.
My music is smooth jazz or oldie goldies.
I prefer reading to TV.

My political party died years ago.  (I'm still in mourning.)
As did my favorite politicians.  (Teddy Roosevelt & Winston Churchill)
My positions are constantly morphing.  (Notice I avoided the word "change"  :)

For the record, I have been tempted by trusted friends to branch out and try new things, and occasionally the "new" thing becomes my comfortable standard.  (There ARE a few off/on-ramps in my rut!)

I'm fond of indoor plumbing, electricity, motorized transport, and regular meals.  
Autumn, winter, and spring are my friends.  Summer is my enemy.  
I don't like mean, narcissistic, loud people.
I don't like big crowds. 
I don't like biting my tongue.  It hurts, so I don't do it. 

If it isn't broken, I don't fix it.

Life is good.  :)

S



Monday, March 2, 2015

Square peg, round hole




So Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is in the US to address Congress, and the pro/anti battle lines are drawn.  As much as I pride myself on my knowledge of the goings on in the world, I'll admit my understanding of Israel is like that proverbial mile-wide, foot-deep river.  Somebody please throw out some positions for me to ponder.

Generally I'm a supporter of Israel.  Pretty strong, actually.  I admire their tenacity, their vigilance, the fact they keep their eye on the prize....namely never again letting themselves get into a position where they can be annihilated.  They seem to have taken a pretty nasty looking piece of real estate, land that the former Arab landlords had done virtually nothing with during their stewardship, and made it bloom.  Now some of it at least is green and productive.  

Their relatively tiny defense force routinely kicks the ass of combined Arab armies many times their size and potential power.  Israel doesn't seem to be a serial rattler of their nuclear sabre.  They have nukes, and everyone knows it, but they never talk about them.  

Nukes seem to be Israel's unspoken ace in the hole.  In contrast, Iran (which isn't Arab, BTW) wants nukes, but they've stated publicly what they will do with theirs, and it doesn't have a pretty ending.  Israel just seems smarter than their adversaries.

My understanding is that the Palestinians are upset with Israel because they want a homeland of their own where they can run their own lives without interference.  I don't blame them.  It is also my understanding that Israel offered them that IF they could show they were capable of policing their own people.  

When they could crack down on the forces that lob missiles at Israel and otherwise plot to kill Israelis, then Israel would back off and adopt a "live and let live" policy.  But Yassar Arafat (the PLO leader at the time) realized that if that happened, he would be without a job, so he scuttled the offer.  Yes...No?

Egypt accepted Israel's offer (and it cost Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat his life) and kept their hot-heads relatively in line, Israel ceded the Sinai back to them, and all has been quiet on that front for decades since.  It can work.

That will apparently still not happen with Gaza and the West Bank because the thugs Israel wants the authorities to crack down on are the very thugs in power....Hamas.  I can't say I blame Israel for maintaining a strong upper (iron) hand.  When a neighbor's avowed policy is to kill you, you can't unilaterally let down your guard.

On the flip side, I don't understand why Israel keeps allowing new settlements to be built on "disputed" land in the West Bank.  Why?  Is that the ONLY land left to build on?  I don't think so.  This just seems like pouring salt on an open wound.  Why go out of your way to piss off your opponent?

At the heart of it all is the fact that the Arabs are miffed that Israel still controls land captured during the Six Day War back in 1967.  (Arabs don't want Jews on ANY land in the region, period.)  They need to get over it.  

Look at history: most countries today, in every part of the world, include land that at one time or another was part of another country.  The entire Mideast is land taken from the Ottomans (Turkey) after WWI, who earlier stole it from...uh...I can't remember.  My state of Texas is in fact land that was claimed by "Texians" who kept it as a war prize after the defeat of Mexican strongman Santa Anna back in 1836.  And do we need to talk about how the first Europeans in the New World seized lands from Native Americans?  Shit happens, OK?

So on the surface my sympathies are with Israel 90% of the time.  Am I missing something?  Are there some material facts I'm not considering?  Why can't cooler, more reasonable heads sit down and work things out?  

'Course, following that reasoning, why can Democrats and Republicans sit down and work things out?  *sigh*

S




Thursday, February 26, 2015

Point / Counterpoint


The West, led by the United States, as well as Israel and most of the UN, are dead set against Iran developing nuclear weapons.  Of course we are.  Iran's leaders don't seem to think the way we in the West do.  They see sacrificing a few million of their own people in a counter-strike in order to wipe out Israel a fair trade.  Their idea of "national pride" is near suicidal.  The same goes for North Korea.

But what right do we have in telling them they can't pursue a nuclear program?  How can one sovereign nation, or group of nations, tell another sovereign nation what they can do internally?  As long as they don't use their nukes against others, shouldn't that be their right to have them?

It would be like the OPEC nations prohibiting the US from pursuing hydraulic fracturing to recover more domestic oil.  Of course it would be against their national interests for us to do so, but they don't have the right to prohibit us from doing it.

Seems to me we are just throwing international law out the window here.  That said, this is one area where I think Civil Disobedience is justified.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The US and Europe are also all bent out of shape over Russia's incursion into Ukraine and their annexation of the Crimean peninsula.  It just seems like a land grab, much like what Nazi Germany did when they took over Austria and Czechoslovakia prior to WWII.  That's how we see it at least.

But the Russian psyche is much different than ours.  They have a long memory and remember how they have been invaded repeatedly from the west.  That's why after WWII they set up all their Commie proxies....E Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungry, etc....between Western Europe (read: NATO) and themselves.  

If the West attacked again, they could devastate those proxy countries before they reached The Motherland.  At least that was their plan.  Now with many of their former Warsaw Pact allies (?) actually part of NATO, and right on their border at that, they are super antsy. 

When Russia saw the overt courtship going on between the West and Ukraine, they no doubt saw full-fledged European Union and NATO membership for Ukraine on the horizon.  Their already tightly wound paranoia snapped.  I think we were a bit too "bull-in-a-china-closet"-ish.  Now it's gonna be difficult if not impossible to get that genie back into the bottle. 

As I see it, here's our dilemma:  We need to punish and marginalize Russia for their actions without actually pushing them over the edge (letting the Russian Federation dissolve).  

Remember what happened the last time we took down evil (Iraq, Libya, and soon Syria)?  What we got was dramatically more dangerous than what we dismantled. Of course we (the West) could collectively take Russia down, but would that necessarily be a smart thing to do?

S



Thursday, February 19, 2015

DAMN PASSWORDS, No 26...with EDIT



Have I mentioned how much I hate passwords?  Oh, yeah, I have....many times.  Anyway, they have once again kicked me in the butt-tock.  My collection of multi-colored sticky notes attached to the inside of one of my desk drawers, containing various passwords written in my own secret code, have become a bit too secret.  I suppose I no longer trust myself with my own passwords, as I can't decipher any of them.

I found on my desk a survey request from my vet.  When I last took the dog there they asked that I fill it out and send it in to HQ.  It seems it becomes part of their job evaluation and a kind word would be appreciated.  

So I fired up the 'puter and, following instructions, was directed to a website.  You guessed it, the first thing it required is that I sign in.  Sign in to an account I haven't used in years, with an account password that has long since gone the way of the Dodo bird.  Sorry vets.  I'd love to help, but my lack of a #%&* password won't let me.

Then I just read one of my favorite blogs, The Chubby Chatterbox, where he asked that readers go to a site that published one of his stories and leave a comment there.  I tried, but once again it asked for my Wordpress account name and the dreaded password.  And once again....crash and burn.  I tried using a couple of passwords that I vaguely remember from back in the day, but without luck.  Sorry Stephen, I tried.  :(

Hard as I might want to be an active participant in things 21st Century-ish, at heart I guess I'm just a yellow pad and #2 pencil kind of guy.  *sigh*

S

EDIT:  On another recent occasion I was locked out of an account so I thought I'd just re-register.  Problem was, it wouldn't accept any of my email addresses, or my first name, or my back name.  Out of frustration I tried to register as F__K Y_U, but they said that was inappropriate. 

I'm thinking of putting a hacker on retainer, just to get me into my own accounts.