Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ready for a laugh?

Check out this gem from the American Spectator. I'll quote a few choice passages, with my replies, natch.

The Republicans lost control of Congress. They deserved to lose, but we don't deserve what's going to happen because they did.

So, really, it would have been better to keep a corrupt, arrogant, incompetent leadership even when you are aware they are such. Check.

From here on, we shall never speak ill of a fellow conservative. Yeah, it's okay to blast any faux-conservatives who deserve it (such as the "Republican" co-author of the McCain-Lieberman "global warming" bill and the Georgia fellow who thinks we have to limit the First Amendment in order to win the war). But no more bashing other Conservatives, even when they deserve it.

So no speaking ill of conservatives, except those conservatives who piss you off. Them you can bash.

The test case will be illegal immigration. The Senate Waffle House will produce an amnesty bill, and the House will have no problem rolling over the few tough Republicans left there. But we can fight a holding action in both, and I promise to fly lead and drop all our rhetorical smart bombs right through the windows of the Oval Office.

I believe he's referring to the dreaded filibuster. Whatever happened to a "straight up-or-down vote"? I guess that's attractive only when you're certain the vote will go your way.

Oh, and in case you didn't notice, this guy is pushing a Rumsfeld-Bolton ticket for 2008. Yes, I read that too. No, it wasn't a trick of your eyes. If this is what we've got in terms of opposition, how could we lose?

Friday, December 29, 2006

No one to fight

Dan and I once realized that we handle problems very differently. You know that fight-or-flight response? Well, he flees and I fight. Seriously. You might not think it to look at me, but I have the ability to make an incredible nuisance of myself when I feel I've been wronged or misused in some way. I've gotten lots of free stuff from companies via this technique: free shipping from Gateway, $100 credit on my Visa from FirstUSA, a complimentary pay-per-view Indigo Girls concert, etc. It's useful.

What I want right now, however, I can't get, no matter how many letters I write or phone calls I make. I can't complain to Death's supervisor, or threaten to report Death to the Bureau of Parts of Life, and it really makes me angry.

A Warm Interlude

Florida's not my favorite state, but as a break from a Philadelphia winter it's not bad. Couple that with lots (and lots) of to-die-for Italian food and you've got yourself a recipe for an enjoyable winter vacation.

Staying with Dan's parents is like being at a resort. There's always great food (and plenty of it) and you don't have to do anything but sit around in bare feet and watch TV. Which I did. I caught an episode of Jerry Springer entitled, "My Sixteen-Year-Old Daughter is a Drug Dealer and a Whore." That's entertainment, my friends.

The flight out was suspiciously on-time departing and arriving, but we paid our dues coming back when our flight was an hour late. During our wait I did some brisk laps around the terminal, and I can therefore say with some authority that there was nary a cute guy to be seen. Apparently, it was No Cute Guys Flying from Fort Lauderdale day, so I was reduced to reading my book about Darwin and the theory of evolution. ( that's important to anyone.) Also, either I had some bad luck, or everybody and his sister Sue is wearing those awful, awful velour track suits, in a horrid profusion of colors: brown, black, pink, and even peach. The prize winner was a fiftyish man in a black version of said suit, wearing a large gold medallion over a hairy chest exposed by the partially opened zipper of his jacket. Not making that up.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Closing up

My company's closed betwixt Xmas and New Year's, so right now I'm wrapping up a few things, a.k.a. cruising the Internet until I can sneak out. A number of things are going on during the holidays, among them various Eve gatherings, a sweet sixteen party (no, not mine, unless you mean sixteen on Jupiter), and a one-two New Year's brunch and Sex Dwarf. Oh, and there's a brief foray to Florida in there, too, which I wasn't looking forward to until last week. Now I'm kind of anxious to get out of Philadelphia for awhile; these days there are a few too many ghosts around the corners.

I'm looking forward to seeing my nieces on the Eve; I haven't seen them for ages, and recent events have made me want to stay in closer touch with people. I promised the older one I'd teach her to drive when the time comes, and I think that'll be fun. I've taught two people before her, with no freak-out and a distinct minimum of wiggins. And that was in the days when my car was worth more than, say, a big pack of gum.

Speaking of cars, it's kind of fun to have an old car that runs well but otherwise doesn't matter too much. I've managed to bang the right side on a post leaving the garage roughly once every two or three times I pull out, leaving a scrape and a deepening dent. Ten years ago that would have sent me scurrying to the repair shop, but now I just shrug. My car and I are very alike: We turned 30 the same year, and these days we're both older and more battered, but we still get the job done.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Now here's some gall

Apparently, the city officials in New London, CT, can't imagine why they got, uh, unusual Christmas cards from Susette Kelo. Here's a particularly choice reaction:

"It's amazing anyone could be so vindictive when they've made so much money," said Gail Schwenker-Mayer, a development supporter who received one of the cards.

Umm...maybe because she wanted her home more than the money? Hey, Ms. Stupid-Hyphenated-Name! Some people might possibly value something like a home over a bunch of money. Folks are just crazy that way, I know. And check this out:

"I still feel bad for Susette," Burdick said. "The sorry part of this is that the things she's angry about were not done to be mean-spirited toward her personally."

He's right. I can't imagine why she would take personally being kicked out of her home so that the city could put in condos she most likely could never afford to buy. Lighten up, Susette.

Burdick and Stupid-Hyphenated-Name, in my view, are so out of touch with reality that you'd have to bitch-slap them from now until mankind evolves into pure energy beings before they'd understand how wrong they were.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Attention last-minute shoppers!

Has Colombia got a deal for you!

As hulking as they are, hippos can outrun humans on land, which helps explain the periodic deaths of unsuspecting safari travelers in Africa. That speed, and their highly aggressive disposition whenever their turf is invaded, makes them a threat and is the main reason authorities are offering the animals, or at least most of them, free to anyone who will come and take them off their hands.

Sounds neat, but I'm not sure where I'd actually keep sixteen of these bad boys. I hear that VisMajor now has a backyard...


I've obtained a username for, and, yes, I've been posting there. I don't expect to change opinions, but I'm enjoying myself for now. I'm a fish out of water there not only because I'm damned liberal (unless of course you ask Mediagirl), but also because those folks hew closely to conservative political philosophy. Personally, I don't think most Americans worry overmuch about political philosophy; instead, they go with what seems to work. Case in point: Mississippi, among the reddest of red states and a foe of gub'ment intervention was happy to take the federal dollars it was offered for Katrina relief. And I'm not saying they shouldn't be, but if they do I don't want to here any more whining about the "evil" feds. Let's face it: When Uncle Sam wheels out the government trough, every little piggy - rich or poor, liberal or conservative - is happy to put in a snout.

Dan and I are flying to Florida on the 25th. I'm sometimes asked, "Isn't it kind of depressing to have Christmas without cold and snow?" My answer? Nope. In my view, nothing says "Seasons Greetings" quite like eighty-degree weather and palm trees. I can drink egg nog just as enjoyably in shorts, t-shirts and bare feet, thank you very much.

Can I say how good freshly ground peanut butter is? We've been buying it at the Reading Terminal, and it's delish. I've had spoonfuls of that heavenly treat for dessert and been completely satisfied. Why the hell does Jiffy add sugar?

Does this entry seem kind of frantic? It's a good reflection of my current state of mind, which runs frantically from distraction to distraction to avoid slipping into thoughts that, for now, are just not good for me to think.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A little good news...

...and some is long overdue, I'd say. I got permission to substitute for a required course, which means that (assuming all goes well) I will finally finish my graduate certificate this spring. I'm totally hardened by last summer's schedule-busting, seven-week proposal writing course, too, so right now I fear no graduate work.

Sex Dwarf was fun Friday, despite the drunken yuppies who managed to shove people around, drop several glasses (making the floor a jagged peril), and get creepy with Babs. At one point the bouncer was leaning on a nearby ledge, staring right at them, but they refused to get the hint that maybe they should tone it down a bit. They left shortly after midnight, off to annoy and grope other clubgoers, no doubt, but in any case I was glad to see the back of them. They couldn't diminish my gratitude in seeing that the beloved Sex Dwarf DJ team had festooned the walls with silver stars, in remembrance. It was like Star was with us, even if not in the way we would have chosen.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another Day

The services were yesterday, and they were both heartbreaking and strangely uplifting. Not sure how those two things go together, but they did. Sooo many people was a real testament to the lives Star touched.

When I got home around 5pm, I remembered that my department's office party was that evening at a bar in Center City. Remembering that the party featured an open bar, and needing a drink* after the day's events, I decided to go and at least put in an appearance (and down some free booze.) I had promised the party planners that I would do karaoke there, but I was reconsidering it given that I'd spent the last four days in a daze. Then I thought of what Star would have counseled, which was that I should not only do karaoke, but that I should bring that motherfucking place down. So I took the mic and belted out "Dancing With Myself", with a mental nod towards an invisible Billy Idol, and I did bring that motherfucking place down. When I was done I threw the horns, which I expect my coworkers took for bravado. I knew who those horns were for, though, and my Movie Night peeps, had they been there, would have known too.

*I've drunk more alchohol in the last four days than I have in the previous four years. No regrets.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is this getting by?

I'm at work today. I didn't want to go, but since I didn't want to stay home either and white-water rafting wasn't an option, I decided to work. Not sure if that was a good idea for me, and I know it wasn't a good idea for the coworker whose head I nearly took off over pretty much nothing.

Anyone else having trouble sleeping? Takes forever to drop off, and then you wake up a hundred times a night, always thinking of the same thing? I haven't had any bad dreams, though; I guess my subconscious decided that Sunday morning was nightmare enough.

I've found food a wonderful method of coping, and Monday I said to myself, "If some of a good thing helps a little, way too much will help alot!" That sent me on a junk-food frenzy until I felt sick and realized what I was doing to myself.

Another coping method has been busywork. Monday night I decided that those summer clothes I'd neglected to put away just couldn't wait another minute. Tuesday Dan and I did housework. Actually, the place needed it; after Sunday we did nothing to clean up, and there was food sitting out getting grosser by the day. I usually don't do stuff like that, but then this week's not been very usual. The place is clean now, though, so Movie Night people can be assured they won't be walking into a mess tonight. Would that the hosts were as tidy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I don't know what to say

Most of you reading this know that Star Foster, a.k.a. Sarcasmo, died yesterday morning of a pulmonary embolism. Those of you who didn’t…well, I’m sorry you had to hear it this way. I’m at work today, because I can’t take another day of thinking about it. That’s small of me, but over the past 24 hours I’ve learned that the small things are what get you through. Of course, I’m here at work blogging about it, so I guess I didn’t do myself much good after all.

Dan and I got the call around 11 am, and we were at Graduate Hospital shortly afterwards. We walked down Lombard to get there, and it was a beautiful winter day, which somehow seemed wrong. You know what else seemed wrong? There were all these people out enjoying the (relatively) mild day, and it struck me that they had no idea what had happened. Dan and I were in a completely different world, and I almost expected them to be able to walk right through us. I don’t know if they were the ghosts or we were.

All I’ll say about how things were in the ER is that no matter how bad you think it was, it was worse. I don’t know how those ER nurses and doctors do it, witnessing that kind of awfulness every day. Maybe you get hardened to it, but I don’t know if I want to get hardened to that. I never know what to say in these circumstances, so I settled for looking at the ground or – really close up – at the shoulder of Dan’s coat. I’ve been told that I’m very diplomatic, but when Star’s folks approached Dan was the one who said the right thing, while I hid my face in the crook of his arm.

We invited everyone who was interested to gather at our place, which turned out to be a better idea than I at first realized. On the way back I found myself fretting endlessly over what we should have in terms of food. Food happens at these times, I knew. (Remember, the small things.) Mouserobot held down the fort while Dan and I went out and bought pasta and chicken and cheese and chocolate cake. The pasta turned out badly because I screwed up boiling it, which sounds funny. How do you screw up boiling stuff? You screw it up by putting in too much pasta and not enough water, that’s how. Given my state of mind at the time I guess it’s fortunate I didn’t stick my head in the pot. Bad pasta notwithstanding, lots of people came over, the Movie Night crowd plus others who’d known Star. Two people were missing, the first being VisMajor who had very kindly volunteered to help go to upstate New York and get Star’s younger sister. The other was Star herself, who I kept expecting to walk in at any moment.

The knowledge of Star’s death keeps coming at me from different directions. I’ll try to get my mind off it and think of something else, but the knowledge just pops up right along each train of thought and slams into me. I’ll think about the concert I was planning to attend that weekend (the one Star wanted to see), or the next episode of Battlestar Galactica (Star will never get to see how it comes out), or about Sex Dwarf (Star was so excited about the New Year’s Eve bash). It’s like the knowledge is saying, “Howdy doo! You thought you could lose me by distracting yourself, but here I am. I think I’ll settle in and stay awhile. A good, long while.”

I guess this is the time to say nice things about Star, but others have done that more eloquently than I’ve a heart to. As I said, I’m not very good at coming up with the right words at these times. I’m pretty much just thinking one thing.

I wish that Star wasn’t dead.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

If I were to convert to theism...

...this is the kinda think that'd do it. The God Squad's all worked up and they can't do anything about it. Nice.

I don't have any sympathy for Mary Cheney, by the way. I think she's a mealymouthed orientation traitor who's happy to feather her own nest by stepping on every gay person in the U.S. Yeah, yeah, I know Dick Cheney can't legalize gay marriage, but for Pete's sake, he doesn't have to oppose it to gain traction among the bigot set. Yet he does, and he and his master have profited handsomely from it, and so has his daughter Mary. As far as I am concerned, she and her partner can fall off the earth into some heterosexist hell, leaving behind their baby to be raised by people who won't teach it that treachery for profit is fun.

Oh, and Andrew Sullivan, who makes an appearance at the article's end, is quite the fool. He thinks liberals are wrong, wrong, wrong, yet he ignores that liberals are the ones who make it possible for a gay man to be Republican. Kinda like Ann Coulter decrying feminists; if she really hates feminism she should get married, stop earning money and just stay the hell in the kitchen.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Election Dreaming

I had a really vivid dream a few weeks back, the details of which I'll relate here. It was Election Night, and while watching the returns on CNN I was surprised to see myself projected as the winner of the congressional race in my district. This was particularly surprising since I wasn't running. Apparently (I knew this in the way you just know stuff in dreams) someone had mounted a write-in campaign on my behalf, and that campaign was successful.

Cut to the first day of the 110th Congress, with me in a waiting room with dozens of other freshman reps, all waiting to be sworn in. I'm chatting with reps from Iowa and Arkansas and such, and in comes my friend Cathy with congressional cupcakes. Those of you who know Cathy have experienced her tasty and creative treats, so you'll believe that she could make cupcakes appropriate to a congressional swearing-in ceremony. She passed them around to all the freshman reps, making me (for an hour at least) the most popular congressman on the Hill.

Congressional cupcakes...heh, heh...

Monday, December 04, 2006

I can't believe I just remembered this...

...but apparently typesetting utility industry catalogs makes you think of embarrassing situations. Here goes.

A friend of mine had just moved into his house, so I went over to check out the new place. After the tour and renovation/decoration talk was finished, we put on music and starting dancing. (Gay guys do this. Don't ask.) Anyway, one of the albums was "Television Hits of the 70's", with theme songs from stuff like "Welcome Back, Kotter" and "Barney Miller", etc. When the theme for "Laverne and Shirley" came on, we started acting out the stuff Laverne and Shirley do in the montage: opening the doors into each other, putting the glove on the beer bottle, running out of the apartment, and all that. We were having a blast, and just as we were imitating the gals on the bike - me Shirley bent over the handlebars pedaling, and my friend being Laverne behind her standing up, arms raised - in comes my friend's cousin. He thought to surprise my friend with a housewarming gift, and walks in on us in a posture that I'm guessing did not immediately remind him of that lovable TV duo.

He didn't ask any questions, and we didn't explain. It was an object lesson in how innocently acting out a 70's sitcom montage can be badly misinterpreted.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A little bit of disillusionment

In case you thought that wiretapping was bad, check this out. Here are some of the highlights:

The scores are assigned to people entering and leaving the United States after computers assess their travel records, including where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor-vehicle records, their previous one-way travel, their seating preference, and what kind of meal they ordered.

Better think twice before pre-ordering that kosher or vegetarian meal. Everyone knows that Jews and vegans are soft on terrorists.

The government notice says ATS data may be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring decisions and in granting licenses, security clearances, contracts or other benefits. In some cases, the data may be shared with courts, Congress and even private contractors.

Well, there's something to be said for near-total disclosure, even if the subject of the record is the only one who can't see it.

The Homeland Security privacy impact statement added that "an individual might not be aware of the reason additional scrutiny is taking place, nor should he or she" because that might compromise the ATS' methods.

Or it might, you know, reveal that the criteria are pure bullshit. Either or.

Nevertheless, Ahern said that any traveler who objected to additional searches or interviews could ask to speak to a supervisor to complain. Homeland Security's privacy impact statement said that, if asked, border agents would hand complaining passengers a one-page document that describes some, but not all, of the records that agents check. It also refers complaints to Custom and Border Protection's Customer Satisfaction Unit.

Does it take a whole page to write out, "Fuck you, it's a secret"?

"If this catches one potential terrorist," he said, "this is a success."

Uh-huh. Does that mean if it doesn't catch a potential terrorist we get to can it? Also, exactly what is a "potential terrorist"? Someone who intends to attempt a terrorist act? Someone who plots one? Someone who might be sympathetic to someone either attempting or plotting one? Nothing like deliberately vague language!