Thursday, May 31, 2012

GRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'VE HAD IT WITH THIS FUCKING COMPUTER! (wait... nevermind...)

              A couple of weeks ago everything in our house turned to shit.  After undergoing massive repairs to the screened porch (twice, mind you), the car, and replacing our television, the last thing we needed was for one (or both) of our computers to go on the fritz.  The Hooey Gods live for those "Last Thing They Need" moments, so both of our computers went on the fritz.
              I've had a love/hate relationship with computers since the moment one of them was drug into my happy little apartment about seven or eight years ago.  I fought this procedure tooth and nail, telling helpful relatives that I "didn't want or need" a computer in my life, that "life is what happens while the rest of you are on-line" and other such bromides of regrettable nonsense uttered in the ignorance of the non-user.
              Within days of having a computer in my life it broke down, and suddenly getting the thing (which I didn't want in the first place) repaired was the sole focus of my attention.  It had become my favorite new thing, and the thought of living a single day without the joys of dial-up world wide webbing made me apoplectic.
               When I finally bit the bullet and signed up for high speed internet with our Comcastic cable company, I was formally and forever hooked.  Instant access to unlimited porn, information, sports, music, films, and adorable kitten videos was more than a lonely bachelor could resist.  I began to spend an inordinate amount of my time planted like a fern in front of a flickering monitor, foregoing sleep, sustenance, and companionship in favor of the latest music video by Nickel Creek or the highlight reel from an obscure rugby match in Ireland.
                Now that I've started my own event photography bidness, the computer is our financial lifeline, in addition to all of the aforementioned shiny baubles of attention-grabbing distractions.  We need this thing to work, and we need it to work now.
                That's why this latest techno-spasm has been so frustrating.  One my lovely (and dangerous) wife's best friends is a computer tech for the local school system, and from time to time we have to ruin her evenings by begging her to come over and fix whatever snarly mess I've made of things back here on this damned computer.  Sometimes I get lectures about surfing in uncharted waters, and sometimes the age and limitations of the computer itself are blamed.  But she always gets the thing back up on its feet, and when she leaves I go to work messing it up again.
               It was suggested that my ongoing problems could be solved by replacing the worn out hard drive on this computer with something more in line with the work I do for a living.  It has super memory capacity, lots of rams and biters and bits (I put that techno talk in there for all of you computer literate people... you're welcome) and promised to be the last thing I would ever need.
             And ever since she drove away after making the hard drive installation it's been nothing but a pain in my ass, like a red hot fireplace poker wielded by a deranged proctologist.  This morning, after spending most of yesterday wrestling with forgotten passwords, computer names, user codes, and installing software that often didn't seem compatible with my new hardware, the computer wouldn't restart.
              I go to bed and everything's fine.  I get out of bed six or seven hours later and my monitor has a screen notification saying "Sorry to tell you this, but you're fucked today!" on it.

              I announced to my lovely wife that I was "over it" and was headed to Staples or Best Buy or Computers-R-Us for a new tower, and added a few expletives and exclamation marks to my sentence on my way to the shower. 
              I cursed, loudly, the entire time I was under the shower, as if to underscore just how serious I was about replacing this entire screwed up system.  I dressed, marched back in here to yank the plug one last time, and discovered my home page was waiting for me to tell it what to do.  It was as if the damn thing had suddenly developed a sense of self-preservation.
             Somewhere in the back of my mind I could hear the disembodied voice of HAL, calmly suggesting I might want to take a stress pill.
             "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do... I'm half crazy all for the love of you..."

             I figure any day now this bastard is going to figure out a way to lock us out of our own house...


Wednesday, May 30, 2012


        What bullshit...  When news broke yesterday that a local magistrate had ruled against the county's planning commission on the grounds that they gave insufficient notice of the meeting to discuss a proposed mosque construction back in 2010, I wrote that it would bring all of the bigots and Islamaphobes back out of their caves.  Here we go again...

         While some critics of the controversial mosque are sticking to the party line and saying all the right things ("We just want the law followed... they didn't give adequate notification of the proposed mosque" etc. etc. etc.) at least one asshole has shown his true colors.  Attorney Joe Brandon has represented this motley group of cranks and fear mongers from the beginning, often making the most outrageous and inflammatory statements to the press and in court, and now he's back in the spotlight he so craves, holding forth about Muslims and Sharia Law.
          The people who are building the mosque haven't been notified to stop construction, and until they are given clear instructions by the county are proceeding with their work.  That has Mr. Brandon's bow tie spinning like a Piper Cub's prop.
          Here's a quote from this morning's Murfreesboro Daily News Journal:
“At the present time, they (congregation members) are in violation of the law if they as much as lift a hammer,” Brandon said. “Further from that, this Shariah-compliant facility must show they are a religious organization, which we vehemently dispute. They are a political organization with Shariah-compliant rules and regulations. Shariah and the U.S. Constitution cannot coexist.”

          Got that?  If you aren't a lawyer and have a construction contract underway, you might be tempted to carry on with your work until given official notice to stop the project.  In Brandon's head that means you're trying to impose Sharia Law to trump the ruling of local courts.
          These asshats can call their little jihad anything they want, and they can parade around in front of the cameras touting this "victory for the people" as proof that they meant no religious intolerance, merely wanted protocol followed concerning adequate notification by the planning commission. 
          But people like Joe Brandon can't help themselves.  Once the cameras and microphones are in place, they have to spout their hate rhetoric because that's what they're really all about.

           Here's another quote from Mr. Brandon concerning the ongoing construction:

Brandon said more lawsuits could be in the works if the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro doesn’t abide by Corlew’s ruling.“That’s 100 percent of Shariah law,” Brandon said. “Their law trumps all other laws, the Constitution and the law of Tennessee. They are aware they don’t have a permit, but yet are continuing to build. …They’re thumbing their nose to the chancellor and the laws of Tennessee. They don’t have a permit, but by their own omission are continuing to build. Their arrogance will no longer be tolerated.”

            What a shitstorm.  We need this kind of negative attention in Murfreesboro like the Tea Party needs another "birther".

       Attorney Joe (Tucker Carlson Wannabe) Brandon 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

CONSTRUCTION HALTED ON MURFREESBORO MOSQUE AFTER JUDGE'S RULING (Chencellor Corlew shits the bed... bigots will be dancing in the streets by nightfall)

           For over two years the city of Murfreesboro has been the center of a nasty debate about religious tolerance, with foes of a new Islamic Center lined up on one side and supporters of religious freedom on the other.  Through all of the bullshit lawsuits designed to challenge Islam itself, justice has prevailed.  Now, as all other options have dropped away, the opponents of the Islamic Center have received a victory in court that will temporarily halt construction of the mosque.
           Chancellor Robert Corlew, who has until today ruled in favor of the Islamic Center in each challenge brought before his court, today ruled that the county gave insufficient notification of a city planning commission meeting back in 2010.  His ruling effectively halts construction on the mosque, which supporters say has only six weeks worth of work remaining until completion.
           Corlew says his ruling doesn't mean the county can't take up the measure at an upcoming meeting, and the next one is scheduled for June 11th.  Since this ruling was only released about half an hour ago, its ramifications are unclear.
            But this much is certain:  If the right wingnuts who have made this issue a stalking point for the past two years are suddenly allowed to bring their bullshit back to the Murfreesboro Courthouse, they will do their best to intimidate the planning commission into ruling against the new Islamic Center.  To suggest anything less as a result of this decision is to ignore reality.
            These people will be reinvigorated, and as a result they will take their case directly to the politicians who had thought this whole sordid mess was behind them.  Pressure will be brought to bear on those charged with making the legal decision for future construction, and I don't for a moment believe they'll be strong and independent enough to do the right thing.
            This is a sad day for Murfreesboro.

SQUATLO'S VISIT FROM THE JEHOVAHS LADIES (and why it's always nice to discuss religion with lovely women...)

           One of the things that happened last week that hasn't made it into a blobber post was my visit from a couple of women representing the local Jehovah's Witnesses.  Witnessi?  Jeez, I sound like Mooner.  One sentence into this thing and I'm already a deputy from the grammar police.
           First of all, let me say this about these occasional visits from the Jehovahs.  I used to roll my eyes and do my best to make those encounters as brief as possible when I lived in an apartment in Nashville.  Usually I was in the process of getting blitzed when they'd arrive, and one of the effects recreational drugs used to have on me was a sense of self-conscious paranoia.   Now, I guess I'm old enough to not give a shit what some stranger at the door thinks, so I'm not as quick to pull the "Not interested" trigger.
           But even at my rudest, I was never as blunt as my father was the day he saw four Jehovah's getting out of their car in our driveway and approaching the front door.  I was probably fifteen years old at the time and had no idea who those guys in the suits with books in their hands might be.  But dad knew exactly who they were, and had a pretty short fuse for folks who interrupted his birdwatching/beer drinking day off with proselytizin'.
           "Watch how quick I get rid of them." was what he said as he went to our front door and waited for the doorbell to ring.  As soon as it rang he pulled open the door and in his deepest, booming bass said:
           "We're orthodox Jews!"
           And with that he slammed the door.  They went back to their car, and my mom pitched a conniption fit over dad's behavior.  Apparently, she knew one of the Jehovahs and was concerned word would spread around town that we were Jews, which would have been quite a story at the Blessed Sacrament Church where I was an altar boy.

            My sister's ex-husband once told me a story about one of their former neighbors who tired of having the same ladies from the Jehovahs show up on his doorstep, so out of desperation to be left alone he decided to answer the door in the buff.  According to my ex-brother-in-law, their neighbor was a 6'5" black man.  The Jehovahs didn't bother him after that encounter.

             But I digress...

             Last week we were having television troubles, and in an effort to rule out various connection issues I was rewiring the entire audio/video system in the living room.  I had two or three remote controls out on the coffee table, half a dozen unconnected wires and cables dangling from a couple of shelves, and a flashing television screen asking me if I'd like to adjust the picture contrast.
             In the middle of all of that nonsense the doorbell rang.  We have a solid front door with no windows in it, and the peep hole was replaced years ago with a brass door knocker thing rendering it impossible to know in advance who might be standing on the other side of the closed door.  The only way to know who's knocking is to open the door and ask.
             I knew the two black women on my front steps were Jehovahs instantly.  Both were carrying books and satchels of printed materials, and both were dressed much too formally for middle Tennessee heat and humidity.  One of the women had kind eyes and a smile, but the one who insisted on doing all of the talking for the pair looked exactly (I shit you not) like Herman Cain wearing a wig and dress.

             I had to look twice to make sure I wasn't being pranked.  Turns out it wasn't Herman Cain in drag, after all.
             But for the sake of identification, we'll just call that particular woman "Hermie", because she did most of the talking.  Hermie asked me if I was satisfied with the way the world seemed to be spiraling out of control, if I thought injustice and violence was worse than ever, and if I realized it was beyond the scope of man's power to bring sanity back to the world.
             I told her I did indeed think men had the power to correct man-made problems, but that it would take an evolutionary leap of enlightenment to get to that point in our development.  With that, Hermie began to thumb through her Bible for the appropriate passage needed to bring me around.
            Having been through these exercises before, I knew that if I let her get started we would be standing out there for hours.  So I asked, very gently, "Are you going to talk to me, or read to me?  Because I already know how to read."  And I smiled.  The pretty one smiled back at me.  Hermie looked a little perplexed and proceeded to read a few verses about false prophets.
            I interrupted her, because it was one of the few Biblical passages I had stored in my memory banks from all those years of Catechism.
            "You're about to read a passage about wolves in sheep's coverings, right?"
            Hermie didn't skip a beat and read me the passage anyway.  Her wingman just smiled.
            "Excuse me, ma'am... I don't mean to interrupt." I interrupted, "But I thought you wanted to talk to me about the evil in the world and the ways we can fix the problems?"
             That's when the smiling woman began to paw through her Bible in search of just the right passage.  I took that opportunity to explain that I was as moral and ethical a person as anyone they would meet all week, but that I had a serious problem with organized religions, including theirs. 
             "You have a problem with religion?" said the pretty one.  Hermie was flipping pages in her Bible, no doubt looking for a verse about heretics with beer breath.
             "I have a problem with hypocrisy." was my reply.  I spent the next couple of minutes giving a few dozen examples from our own little community, spoke about the intolerance of the so-called Christians in our town who were up in arms about the mosque down the road, then mentioned the mega-churches on every other corner that seemed more interested in their expanding campus constructions than any efforts toward ministering to the homeless, hungry, or infirm in the community.
              I capped it off with a Mark Twain quote, the one in which he says (paraphrasing) if Jesus were to come back today the last thing he'd be is a Christian.  That brought about a lot of page turning on the front porch.
              I was given some pamphlets to study, and asked if it might be okay if they came back another day to see what I had thought of their reading material.  I told them I'd be happy to put their material next to the toilet in my bathroom, because that's where I do most of my serious reading.
              We shook hands (and Hermie's grip made me revisit the Herman Cain in drag question... this woman had a vise for a handshake!) and they went to their car.
              The actual conversation above has been condensed greatly.  We were on the porch for almost fifteen minutes, during which I managed to forget which exposed cable went to which electronic device, setting my repairs back at least an hour.
              Meanwhile, the television was flashing a screen asking if I'd like to correct the hue and saturation of the screen's color.
              Somewhere out there Hermie and the smiling lady are knocking on doors, perhaps headed this direction with a new armload of reading material for my morning constitutionals.
              I'm thinking about converting to Orthodox Judaism before they get back...


Monday, May 28, 2012

MORE "HOLY SHIT" FOR MURFREESBORO CHRISTIANS TO FRET OVER (application filed for new Buddhist Temple!)

           "Get out the cross, Mildred, we're goin' marchin'!"

           There's an article in this morning's Murfreesboro Daily News Journal (motto: "Hey, we're a Gannett paper, just like The Tennessean!") that should inspire a knee-jerk xenophobic reaction among some of the locals.  Seems the city planning commission has issued notice indicating their intent to study an application to construct a new Buddhist Temple not far from the Islamic Center mosque that has everyone so concerned about terrorists around here...
           In fact, this situation is very much like the one involving the controversial mosque that has drawn national attention to our fair city.  Not that there was anything controversial about the mosque itself, just the reaction of some of the wingnuttier Christians here in town.  For the longest time, the mosque was all anyone could talk about in Murfreesboro.  You were either "agin" it, or some kind of "Blame Amurka First" asshole who didn't mind inviting suicide bombers to train in our backyards. 
           The folks who wanted a new Islamic Center had been peacefully living and worshipping in Murfreesboro for over 25 years at the time of their application to the planning commission.  Suddenly, when sleepy bigots realized they had been harboring potential terrorists all those years they went ape-shit in their efforts to prevent a mosque from being built.  Losing all of their court challenges, they've finally decided to fight the mosque (which is now about halfway completed near here) on the grounds that the city planning commission didn't adequately notify the public.
            Apparently, the planning commission can be trained, because they're giving everyone (!) a heads-up that this Buddhist Temple application will be discussed at an upcoming meeting.  I guess if you've had to listen to redneck bullshit for almost two years because of a mosque you make sure you alert the media when Buddhists want a new building.  And for good reason!  Aren't those Buddhist monks in the news from time to time?  Seems like they were picking on Christians in one of those tracts the Holy Rollers left in our mailbox, weren't they?
            Anyway, in an effort to get out the loons, I'm helping to serve notice to the area's more easily frightened natives.  They won't be able to claim no one warned them when the Temple is halfway finished, not if I can help it.
             Funny thing, though...  If this application were for another Babtist Church or Church of Christ building it probably wouldn't be front page headlines in the local rag.  In fact, I doubt it would even make the paper at all.
             We only take exception when it's "them".  You know who "they" are, right?  The "others"?
              Film at eleven.  Expect our little village to make the national news any day now...

Sunday, May 27, 2012


       If you've ever seen and heard Doc Watson flatpickin' his guitar and singing in that distinctive voice of his, you've seen and heard one of the best.  Doc's music always picks me up, and I'm hoping for the best as he recovers from colon surgery.

       I've attended two of Doc's shows, and probably own most of his recordings on vinyl or CD.  Made a point to purchase a few of his DVDs recently, playing with some of the best pickers on the planet.

       He's currently at Babtist Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

       Get well soon, Doc!


        If you didn't see Bill Maher's "Real Time" on HBO Friday night, at least (!) watch the clip and listen as Paul Krugman explains our only viable way out of the current depression:  government spending.

        And Maher's explanation for the lack of progress made by Congress is dead on target, too:  the misuse of the filibuster.


          There's an article in the New York Times by columnist Nicholas D. Kristof worth a few minutes of your time, especially on this weekend when we celebrate our veterans.
           According to Kristof, for every soldier killed in battle in 2012, 25 have died by their own hands.

           A veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes in America. 

           More vets take their own lives annually than have died in Iraq and Afghanistan combined since those conflicts began.

           One out of five vets suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, and by their third or fourth tour of Iraq or Afghanistan that number rises to one out of every three.

           Over a million vets will be joining the VA's already overworked case-load by the time these wars are formally concluded, putting an overwhelming burden on an agency that is dealing with Congressional budget cuts.

           The next time someone brings up the presidency of George W. Bush and our collective reaction to the attacks of 9/11, keep those stats in mind.  Those who didn't object to the Iraq invasion then almost certainly do now, and that fact alone should make us wary of anyone beating war drums for an Iranian adventure anytime soon.

           The average American will celebrate the 2012 Memorial Day weekend with Indy and  NASCAR races, barbecue, and maybe an outing on the lake with friends and family.  Only those with direct connections to the fallen and those with loved ones who have returned forever damaged will truly understand the realities of the wars most of us would rather ignore.

            Happy Memorial Day. 



         Okay, this will probably not be as brief as I want it to be, mainly because I'm a windy asshole when I have a story to tell.  But as the little button above says, some days you can be too tired to give a shit...
         Lately everything I've touched around here has turned to shit.  If I need to use a piece of equipment, it will either break or refuse to run properly until I've released it into the capable hands of another.  After a series of events too numerous to mention, trust me when I tell you this: it's been a strange couple of months around here.

         One of the things that makes me lose my shit quicker than anything is on-going techno trouble.   If a computer won't go on-line, or the cable goes out on the television, or a car refuses to start, etc. I'm quite likely to blow a fuse trying to get things working.  I don't deal well with slow, indecisive people, either, but that's a given.
          A few weeks ago our relatively new flat screen television (less than three years old... is that relatively new or over the hill in TV years?) began to screw with us at the most inopportune moments.  My lovely (and dangerous) wife and I would be settled in for night in front of the boob tube when out of nowhere the on-screen television menu would begin to flash in front of whatever we were trying to watch.
           Would we like to set "English" as our preferred on-screen language?  Would we like to "auto-tune" all of the cable channels for optimized viewing options?  Would be like to set the time to "Central Standard" or let the television automatically adjust itself?
            These little tests would pop up for no reason whatsoever, as far as we could tell.  Neither of us touching a remote control, no one moving, and yet there's another pop quiz on the TV in front of Dr. House and his team.  Sigh...
            When your back porch is in shambles for the third time, neither computer in the house is operating properly, you car's AC needs to be replaced, the pressure sprayer won't, and photography customers are balking on paying their bills, adding TV troubles to the mix is really unnecessary roughness on the part of the Hooey Gods.
             We called "LG", went on-line to get help, and finally broke down and took the TV to a local repair shop.  The techie there demanded $40 just to do a diagnostic, then kept the television for five days.  It never acted up while in his care.  He recommended a new HDMI cable.  Or a new cable box from Comcast.  Or maybe it was the way I had the DVR/Bose System hooked up.  Not the TV, as far as he could tell.
              So I brought "Flashy" home and put it back into the cabinet.  We left the DVD and stereo system unattached.  Two days later "Flashy" was back to normal, asking us if we'd like to adjust the color on our screen.
              So we got a new cable box from Comcast.  That worked for about two hours, then the flashing messages began to get more insistent...
              Comcast suggested we take one of the smaller cable boxes out of the bedroom and attach it to the TV instead of using the digital HDMI cable.  Okay, all's well... except we now don't have access to HD channels and our remote doesn't work on that particular television.  And two or three hours later Flashy was back at it, asking if the sound levels were adequate.
               Yesterday we had had enough.  Or, better put, my lovely wife had had enough.  I'd had enough when this shit first started, but my wife likes to exhaust (!) all possible solutions before replacing an appliance.  We drove across town in Memorial Day Weekend Traffic and bought ourselves a brand new 40" flat screen television, managed to get it into the back of the Infiniti, and brought that sucker home.
               I was worried that our entertainment center would have to be adjusted to accommodate the new, larger television, and my fears were confirmed when I read the dimensions requirements on the side of the "Smart, Very Smart" television's box.  This thing clearly said we would need cabinet space height of 31.9".  Our cabinet shelf was only 28".  It would have to be raised a few inches to hold the new television, which was still safely in the box.
              The shelf in question is a very heavy wooden monster with expandable wings that can be adjusted to any width.  On top of said shelf rested a large Comcastic cable box and a DVD player (as well as dozens of CD cases and DVD boxes... clutter is my middle name).
              We made an executive committee decision to raise the shelf without unwiring or removing all of the components sitting upon the shelf.  I would take out the four wood screws from beneath the shelf, and with my wife's cardio-bulked-up arms we would simply raise the shelf and put the screws back into place at the proper height.  What could go wrong?
             Well, this sumbitch was a lot heavier than we'd thought it would be, so I had to support a lot of the weight on my head while she did the bulk of the balancing as I screwed the shelf back into place.  It went smoothly, even if both of us were sweaty messes by the time we finished.
             Time to unpack and assemble the new television to its base.  We did so, then put it into the cabinet.  There was at least five inches of space between the top of the television and the shelf we had just raised, meaning all of the connecting cables behind the TV were visible.  I pulled out a tape measure and discovered the shelf's original height would have been perfect for this new television.
             Some asshole in Indonesia had probably gotten the dimensions wrong on the side of the box.
             We had to lower the shelf back to its original position.

              If this television starts "flashing" messages at us any time in the next three years you will hear the meltdown wherever you are.

              Nothin's easy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


         Apparently, Republicans realize there is danger in letting critics of venture capitalism bash Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital with impunity, so they've unleashed their attack dogs to threaten anyone who questions Romney's business practices.  Got a problem with a guy who bought companies, gutted their assets (including employee pensions), forced those companies into bankruptcy, then walked away with millions?  You must be a socialist asshole who hates capitalism!
          The problem with that method of deflecting justifiable criticism of Romney's much-touted business acumen is pretty obvious:  every single one of Mitt's primary opponents used the same tactics against him during the long slog toward the Republican nomination.  Most of those criticisms were aired live on television during GOP presidential debates and in television interviews.  There are tapes available for anyone willing to go back and check the archives.
          So if criticizing Romney's work at Bain Capital makes you a socialist, then Trump, Cain, Santorum, Paul, Perry, Huntsman, Bachmann, and Gingrich must all be socialists, right?

          How ridiculous.  Mitt trumpets his business skills whenever possible, then cries foul whenever those particulars are brought up for discussion. 
          A new study shows the average worker would have to earn his current salary for 244 years to make what the average private company CEO earns annually.  A lot of people find that discrepancy problematic, especially for a guy who gutted companies and put a lot of 'average' workers out of their jobs, after gutting their pensions.

           Here's how The Donald put it last April:  "He'd buy companies, he'd close companies, he'd get rid of jobs, OK?"


Friday, May 25, 2012


          You can go to this link and read the particulars about Jesse Kelly and his unsuccessful attempt to unseat Gabrielle Giffords in the 2010 midterm elections, but just watch the video to get to the meat of the matter.  At the end of the clip you'll see a reporter ask several questions of Kelly concerning an endorsement he had received from a hate group of neo-Nazis, and instead of answering the questions he just repeated the same lines over and over and over, ala Rep. Coffman of Colorado.

           Is this some sort of Stepford Wives contagion the CDC should be warning us about???

           Christ, this is scary shit!

           Brain dead from the neck up is spreading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THOUGHTS FROM THE GROTTO: WORKING MY ASS OFF TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THINGS I'D RATHER IGNORE... (the trials and tribulations of being married to Superman's daughter)

            For what it's worth, I'd much rather have spent the past couple of days sitting here posting snarky commentary on my blobber than doing what I've been doing.  There's just so much of the Home Improvement routine a former apartment dweller can do before he starts to miss his hedonistic life of leisure poolside at the complex.  But some things don't wait for "rainy days" and just have to be done around here, hence my prolonged absence from the blog.
            Those who visit regularly know we've had to replace the (replaced) tile on our screened-in back porch, due to some sort of "movement" beneath the house (that I'm convinced is proof that the home was built on an Indian burial ground).  Or over a sinkhole.  Take your pick.  One of the steps in the replacement process was to grind down all of the quick-set that had been laid under the tile.  This required a hydraulic chisel device employed by the tile guys, and the use of that piece of equipment created a Mount St. Helens amount of dry, chalky dust, most of which ended up stuck to the mesh screening that surrounds our porch.
             I hadn't really noticed how bad the screens were clouded until last night when I stepped out on the porch, B-52 in hand, and flipped on the overhead track lighting.  Suddenly, screens that normally look black at night had an almost angelic white glow about them.  I drug a damp finger (which had just stirred the B-52) across one screen and immediately found said digit covered with a layer of quick-set dust... and saw that the mark I'd made on the screen stood out as clearly as if I'd drug my finger across a dusty back window on a station wagon.
             No rest for the weary.  Why should a retired guy who makes his meager living pointing a camera at kids playing sports be weary?   Well, probably because said photographer had spent the entire day attached to a balky pressure sprayer, blasting the accumulated crud off of our driveway, sidewalk, and front porch.
             Which brings up another sore point, besides the blister on the inside of my right index finger caused by repeated pulls of the starter cord on that aforementioned pressure washer...
             We don't own a pressure washer.  We borrow one from my wife's father, who loans me things I would rather buy for myself, but am not allowed to purchase, because "Daddy has one we can use!" 
             The trouble with using borrowed equipment is multi-layered...  First of all, I worry that I'll break and have to replace someone else's gear if a piece of equipment dies in my hands.  It could die of old age, disrepair, or prior neglect, and I'll be hung with the replacement costs because it chose my moment of operation to pass on to that Great Home Depot in the Sky.
             Secondly, borrowed equipment needs to be treated differently than stuff you actually own, because you don't want to just drag the thing around or toss it into the tool shed when you're done with it.  You never know when you'll be expected to return it to its rightful owner, and you want it clean and presentable just in case.
             Thirdly (or C...), borrowed equipment never runs like it's supposed to run.  Case in point, the mother fucking pressure washer.  I had used this thing before and knew from experience it was temperamental (another word for 'unreliable', but I'm trying to be tactful here, because it belongs to my very generous Father-in-Law).
             This thing will fire right up, but if you turn it off for any reason, it wants to test your religion before it will restart.  On Tuesday of this week I attempted to pressure spray the tool shed as a starting point for my projects.  I got through with one side of the shed, turned off the motor so I could spray a little bleach/soap solution on the second side of the shed, then returned to find the Hooey Gods had decided to play tricks with my patience for the remainder of the day.
             I finally gave up and put the damn thing back into the shed in disgust.  That's when my lovely (and dangerous) wife's dad showed up on his Harley to see how things were going.  When informed of my "troubles" getting the sprayer to start, he volunteered to show me the ropes.
            Without removing it from the shed he gave it a pull, and of course it fired right up.  I explained that it always starts easily the first time, but restarts are a bitch.  So he turned it off, and it restarted on the first pull.  Three or four times... turned off, restarted, let it run, turned it off, restarted, turned it off, restarted...
             "What's the problem?"  was his question, and my wife looked at me as if I was Mr. Incompetent.
              All I could do was point to the blister on my finger for proof that it didn't always cooperate as during his demonstrations.
              It's tough being married to Superman's daughter, in case you didn't know.

              So yesterday was spent pressure spraying the driveway, sidewalk, and front porch, and today was spent washing the dust covered screens on the back porch... an ordeal that took about six solid hours of work, much of it on a ladder.

               And tonight I get to go be the photographer at my wife's niece's dance recital, because that's what great uncles with wonderful cameras do!

               Heavy sigh...  sure would love a cold beer right about now...

Thursday, May 24, 2012


           A few days ago, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-of course-Colorado) raised a few eyebrows with the following comment during a fundraiser in Elbert County:

I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American.

           Now, when you question whether or not the Commander in Chief of the nation is actually an American and legally entitled to hold office, or express doubts about his motives, or tell folks you're embarrassed by the man (and do so while your country is involved in a foreign war) your words might be considered treasonous.  But that's a concern for criticisms aimed at REPUBLICAN presidents, not this Obama guy (just ask the Dixie Chicks).
           Shit, making comments about the legitimacy of Obama's term in office is so commonplace for Republicans they've been given a funny little name for their efforts:  "birthers"
           And no amount of evidence will dissuade them, because they're pandering to the idiots who put them into office, idiots who prefer to live in a reality-free environment.
           But lately this birtherism thing has drawn an unusual amount of ridicule and scorn, and those who publicly partake in the practice have been seen doing their best crayfish imitations as they slide back under the rocks from whence they came.  Case in point, Rep. Coffman's written statement of apology concerning his idiotic comment:

More importantly, I was also wrong in another respect. I should never have questioned the president's devotion to our country. The president and I disagree on many issues — his approach to health care, jobs and energy independence, to name a few. But disagreeing on these issues was not license for me to question his devotion to our country.

I believe President Obama loves this country and wakes up every morning trying to do what is best for our nation, even if I disagree with his approach. To question the president's devotion to our country based on the fact that we disagree over policy issues was wrong of me and I am sorry.
Elected officials have always been held to a higher standard, as we should be.

           Okay, so the guy realized he had fucked up, and he apologized, right?  Well, listen to this interview on the street when Coffman was pressed about his reasons for retracting the birther comment:

         I don't think I've ever seen an actual brainwashed person, but if this guy ISN'T under some kind of hypnosis he should be checked for Manchurian Candidate potential.

          "I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize."

          Rinse and repeat as necessary.

          Jeez, is this clown a Stepford Wife?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


                Not that it will matter to anyone on either side, because you already know this for a fact or deny the evidence.  Conservatives HATE it when actual polls suggest their favorite source of the unadulterated Fair and Balanced truth is actually a bastion for the misinformed.  But here it is, one more time, just like every other study on the subject has confirmed...
                Farleigh Dickinson University PublicMind performed the survey, asking four of eight random questions to those polled.  The study concluded that folks who listen to NPR (that liberal government-tit-sucking mouthpiece for socialism at the left side of your FM dial) answered more questions correctly than those who cited any other news outlet as their primary source of information.  In fact, even those who WATCH OR LISTEN TO NO NEWS WHATSOEVER are more likely to score better on a current events test than those who only watch Fox News for their information.
                 Think about that...  A person who lives in a cave without electricity is more likely to answer questions correctly than a regular viewer of Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.
                  Here's the graph provided by Mediaite:

              Conservatives will bitch that the survey group was too small, the questions too specific, the methodology skewed, because that's what they always say when these studies confirm the obvious.  There will be no mention of this on Faux News tonight, either, unless a liberal brings it up during an interview.
              I think one thing about this survey that might explain the vast differential between NPR listeners and Fox News watchers is this:  NPR attracts progressive thinkers, while Fox News attracts troglodytes.  The fact that Fox News is consistently the most popular cable news outlet says less about their content and volumes about the ignorance and gullibility of the average American.
              After all, McDonalds sells the most hamburgers.  I hope no one out there thinks they sell the BEST hamburgers...

"BOYS FROM BRAZIL" CLONERS TAKE NOTE: YOU CAN BUY YOURSELF A BOATLOAD OF RONALD REAGANS! (vial of Reagan's blood goes to auction, and people are actually bidding...)

         According to an article in the Washington Post, the photo above purports to show a vial of blood taken from Ronald Reagan after the failed assassination attempt on his life in 1981.  A woman took the vial, kept it until her death, and now her son has put it up for auction, saying:

“I had served under Pres. Reagan when he was my Commander in Chief when I was in the ARMY from ’87-’91 and . . . I was a real fan of Reaganomics and felt that Pres. Reagan himself would rather see me sell it rather than donating it,” the man wrote on the PFC Web site.

        PFC Auctions is handling this morbid little item, billing themselves as "a boutique online auction business specializing in world class art, antiques, and collectibles".  They also claim to have a lock of George Washington's hair, and ironically, the blood of Reagan was drawn at George Washington University Hospital.

        I don't understand why the bidding is only up to about $14,000 so far.  You would think some conservative think tank would snarf this up and insist all Republican candidates for office drink from the chalice of their anointed saint Ronnie, wouldn't you? 

         Or maybe take it to a secret lab in South America for cloning armies of little Reagans!  They could come back to America (if they could get over the fence) to save us from liberals and socialists.

Monday, May 21, 2012


         Here's one our favorite troll Theo will find interesting, since he considers the usage of "illegal" drugs far worse than just about anything a person can do.  I guess pedophiles, terrorists, murderers, rapists, and necrophiliacs have a higher social standing in some people's minds than someone who admits to having smoked pot...  but Penn Jillette (the talking one) finds the entire policy of ignoring "state's rights" on all issues other than gay marriage "beyond hypocrisy", and goes ape-shit with an epic rant.
         It really is hard to believe that this president, like all of those before him, continues an insane war on drugs that has resulted in one out of every six convicts currently serving time in American prisons.  The issue of medical marijuana is completely bonkers when you look at it.  Local laws can be passed to allow the sale, purchase, and use of prescribed medical marijuana, while federal laws can send storm troopers to bust anyone involved in the process... and we just shrug and act as if that's not hypocritical.
         Jillette's rant is an eye opener, but you might want to turn down the volume on your speakers once he gets cranked up.

THE YOUNG GUYS JUST DON'T PRACTICE THE FUNDAMENTALS! (Kyrie Irving disguised as old "Uncle Drew" schools the youngsters on the court)

- Watch More Funny Videos

           2012 Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving shows some young dogs an "old" dog's tricks.  The expressions on the faces of the onlookers as he "finds his groove" are priceless.


            "House" has been a staple of my life for eight years, and I'm going to miss his cranky ass after tonight's series finale.  A show that became so much more than "disease of the week" let us take an inside view on the career of a brilliant sociopath, and tossed us a lot of useful medical information in the process.
            The actual concept of the show might have been a little over the top, but who really cares if this particular hospital had an entire team of highly compensated physicians dedicated to solving one patient's problem.  It might never happen in the real world (who could afford to pay six doctors for their time/tests/tantrums?) but the twisting saga of Gregory House and his beleaguered co-workers was compelling television.
            Gonna miss this show, even if the basic plot to every episode could be summed up as: patient suffers unexplained medical problem/House doesn't want to take the case because it's boring/patient has sudden seizure/House becomes slightly intrigued, makes incorrect diagnosis and prescribes all the wrong tests and treatments/patient's condition rapidly worsens/House becomes obsessed with case, but continues to prank and torture his colleagues/patient's family objects to radical treatment House recommends/House insists on performing dangerous procedure despite hospital administration's edict that he cease and desist/patient gets even worse/House has epiphany in Wilson's office or an elevator or in a parole hearing, limps off to save the day/patient on verge of death is miraculously saved by House's last gasp heroics.  Cue credits, show the previews of the next week's mystery, crank up the theme music.

           "That's some bad hat, Harry."

           Gonna miss this shit...


Sunday, May 20, 2012


TAKE TEN MINUTES TO CONSIDER THE "EVOLUTION OF EMPATHY" (ten minutes that will explain all you need to know about our current political divide)

       I found this video by Jeremy Rivkin on Crooks and Liars, only intended to watch a moment or two to see if it would catch my imagination, and ended up watching the entire vid twice.  If you sit back, take the time to just absorb the information (presented in an entertaining animation style), you might arrive at the same conclusion I did:  empathy, or the lack thereof, explains our current political differences to a TEE.

       Have you ever wondered how it is that some of us can look at the less fortunate, the infirm, or those who are suffering from geopolitical strife or natural disasters with eye toward lending a hand, helping any way we can, while others among us see those individuals as somehow threatening, or deserving of their fate?  I call it the "I/Me/Mine" philosophy of life, and it applies whenever you take a close look at conservatives and their policies.  Conservatives will respond that this is nonsense, citing studies that show their charitable donations equal or exceed those of progressives.  What conservatives don't want to admit is that their generosity tends to be rooted exclusively in taking care of "their own"; their church, their extended families, those of their race, ethnicity, religion.  In other words, their "kind".
        I've noticed this in family settings when the traditional holiday discussions turn to politics.  People who are normally the most generous and loving of folks suddenly turn on their heels and slam an emotional/intellectual door on any notion of empathy for the poor, the downtrodden, the elderly (not all elderly, just old folks who don't share their bloodline or community of friends).
        What's missing is an empathy gene, a trigger that kicks in among those of us who feel a sense of community with total strangers in need.  That "trigger" doesn't kick in with conservatives.  What they feel in response to events or information that others might find compelling is a sense of "It's not my problem" or "I got mine, let 'em get theirs".  It's as primal and defensive as anything a cave dwelling troglodyte might have felt a hundred thousand years ago.  They are empathetic only for their own, their tribe, their fellow cave-dwellers.  Not those assholes in the caves on the other side of the mountain... those are the "others", and need to be watched with suspicion.
         How else does one explain the stunning lack of empathy some otherwise well-adjusted modern people display in their economic and political policies?  They are incapable of seeing the suffering of others through their own experiences, and unwilling to assist unless there is a compelling reciprocation of benefits for their actions.
         Maybe one reason conservative fundamentalists have so much trouble with the theory of evolution is because part of their brain development simply hasn't evolved. 
         They have a missing empathy gene.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


          "This is a school you flunk out of when you get the answers right!"


          According to a story in Think Progress, a local family asked permission to distribute DVDs of an anti-abortion film called "180" to students at Wagoner High School in Oklahoma, and were given permission to proceed as long as students brought in  signed permission slips from their parents.  Apparently, the film was shown to students in at least two classrooms prior to parental notification, and an unknown number of the DVDs were distributed on the same day.
          Why should this raise eyebrows?  The film in question was produced by a group called "Christian Ministry Living Waters" and in it they compare abortion with Hitler's Nazi extermination of the Jews during the holocaust.  The Anti-Defamation League called the film "one of the most offensive and outrageous abuses of the memory of the holocaust we have seen in years".
           Once students began showing up at home with stories of the film they'd seen at school, as well as with free copies of the DVD they'd been handed after classes, parents notified the school district of their concerns.  The school district has apologized and all the necessary mea culpas have been issued...
            Here's a clip of a guy named John Piper holding forth about the film from behind the pulpit (while holding up a copy of said propaganda piece) in which he says "I'd like to see this by the millions into the hands of young people, especially".

        While I was poking around the Living Waters website I noticed they have quite a little retail enterprise built around this film and the abortion issue.  Here are a few of the products you can obtain, for a price:
This stylish had sells for $10, and is great for wearing outside of abortion clinics on sunny days, according to the ad pitch.

         The film itself sells for $5 on the website, but if you purchase 10 or more the price drops to $1.50 a pop.  I'm reminded of those TV info-mercials... "But wait!  If you call in the next ten minutes will also give you your very own life-like pure resin model of a 12 week old 'preborn' baby!"

         Actually, they don't toss in a baby model for free, I just added that as a commercial touch.
The baby model thing costs $25, but according to the website it "can be used in educational settings as well as outside abortion clinics."   It's 'hand painted' for realism, unlike actual 'preborn' babies.

         And if you're going to be standing outside abortion clinics passing out movies of the holocaust and showing off your "preborn" baby model in freezing cold weather, you might as well advertise your cause while wearing a comfy hoodie:

         Wouldn't it be ironic if a George Zimmerman-type gun nut decided that someone wearing a black hoodie and passing out mysterious packages was "probably on drugs and up to no good"?
That sanctity of life message might get blown away in a terrible moment of misunderstanding, you know?

          And why not advertise your stance on abortion by promoting your movie on your vehicle's back window?  Just write Living Waters a check for $25 and this beautiful window decal can be yours:

             "Call now, ovulators on duty!"

Friday, May 18, 2012


        Four years ago conservatives warned the Republican Party that their nominee was toast against Barack Obama, and John McCain managed to live down to their expectations, even though he was a decorated war hero and had served admirably in the Senate.  He just wasn't "rightie" enough for the fundies, and they'd rather go down with a cross carrying zealot than lose with a (gasp!) "moderate" as their standard bearer.

        The GOP primary has produced nothing if not a million examples of how much conservatives loathe and fear the prospect of Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee in 2012.  For the past eight months we've seen attack after attack on Romney's record/religion/conservative bona fides, with one contender after another taking the "front runner" status away from the eventual nominee, Willard Mittens Romney.  They liked Trump, swooned over a comedian pizza guy who sang the Pokemon song at his events, rallied around Noot the Gingrich, and even flirted with certifiable loons like Michele Bachmann, Rick "Oops" Perry, and Rick "Frothy" Santorum.  'Anyone but Romney' led in most Republican polls until very recently.

          But now the writing is on the wall, Romney is the nominee, and desperation is beginning to set in on the right, even though we're still five months away from the election.  These people are losing their ever-loving minds...

          Consider the news just from yesterday:

A billionaire offered to fund an attack ad campaign against Obama that would drag race and religion back into the mix by focusing on the words of Obama's former church minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, even though that tactic fizzled pretty quickly four years ago and was utterly dismissed by McCain's campaign.  Romney's team seemed interested in pursuing this distasteful ploy, or at least signed off on preliminary approval, until the NY Times leaked the story.  Suddenly no one on Team Mitt knew anything about such a nefarious scheme.  Mitt himself had to explain comments he'd previously made about Rev. Wright, which brought about this quote, certain to be a classic we hear over and over for years:

          "I'm not familiar with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was."

          Whew... That's as bad as John Kerry's "I voted against the bill before I voted for it."

          Then there's the right wing echo chamber's reaction to Mitt's refusal to play the race card.
Sean Hannity, the chihuahua nipping at the heels of the adults in the room, can't believe Romney won't press the Rev. Wright "issue"...  He's convinced linking Obama to Wright's rhetoric will work this time, and if it would get Obama out of the White House, Hannity would endorse an anthrax mail-in campaign.

           Former Faux Talking Head Glenn Beck has even offered Rev. Wright $150k to spill the dirt on Obama, offering to pay for anything poisonous to Obama's reelection campaign.

  has dug up a publicity pamphlet from 1991 in which a literary agency screwed up Obama's bio blurb by saying he was (gasp! again~!) "born in Kenya"!   Too bad Wikipedia wasn't popular at the time, because Obama's literary agency Acton and Dystel could have used a little help when they were putting that bio together.  It's probably Al Gore's fault for not inventing the internet in time for that publication's research.

            And finally there's Family Research Institute's very own expert on all things homosexual Pastor Paul Cameron, who alleges Obama has participated in "homosexual acts" with multiple partners over the years.  Seriously.  Obama repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell, then "came out" in support of gay marriage, so he must be gay.
             Here's a portion of the transcript from Mediaite:

“Homosexuality is the one sin, the one habit, that is 24/7,” Cameron explained on the program. “While I’m not sure about the claims by the various people who have reported that Obama has at least participated at times with them in homosexual acts, this certainly lends some credence.”

Mark my words clearly; the long term goal of the homosexual movement is to get every little boy to grab his ankles and every little girl to give it a try. They will not rest until every one of our children at least gets to try, has the opportunity and maybe is forced to at least once experience homosexual acts. There is no retreating from that, they made it very clear earlier on—now they don’t take about it—but that’s what they want, they will not be happy until they get it, marriage is just a step along the way.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

SQUATLO GETS A VISIT FROM A STUNNING RED-HEAD (and sees a flash of red-eyed fury...)

         When you share your living space with a 4th degree black belt in karate you don't make silly blog headlines that might make that person angry... so obviously (!) this isn't a post about some beautiful mystery woman dropping by for a visit.
          We did have a guest stop by, though, and a most unusual guest, at that.

          Red-headed woodpeckers are not very common in this part of Tennessee, at least not in suburban neighborhoods.  We've had a couple at our suet feeders in the past two weeks, and I finally managed to get a shot or two.

             The ruby-throated hummingbirds are becoming more frequent, too.

            Here's a bluejay on our birdbath....

              And here's "Death from Above" flashing through the maple tree on one of his frequent raids.  I'd rather he not snatch songbirds from our feeders, but you have to be in awe of the speed and fury this bird exhibits when he makes an ambush.  After one of his "visits" it's usually about ten minutes before birds begin to reappear on our feeders, and even then they're a little tense...


          If you make a living covering youth athletics, you look forward to the sports that rank high among your own personal favorites.  After a spring full of soccer, baseball, and rugby, things finally bounced around to football.  One of the local high schools I shoot athletic events for held its annual spring football game earlier this week, and for one evening I was reminded of why I love to do what I do for a living.

          It's a long time between now and the actual kickoff of fall football, but at least we got a taste of things to come!