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An Email From Mom  
Friday, June 27, 2003 09:40:47 AM EDT

I'm posting this email I got from my Mom today, because I'm actually on vacation number one and as many people have certainly noticed by now, terribly deficient in the blogging department. But my Mom seems to be in a fired up rage against a Catholic Nun! Now that's worthy of a blog post! (Thanks mom!) Here, she tells of a sister's rant against our recent actions in Iraq and her own response to it. Read in its' entirety and you'll understand just one reason why I love my mom.

Mom's email message (body) to me this AM:
Hi Marc,

This is long, but I thought you might appreciate the arguments I posed in response to an article forwarded to me from a friend of Mother and Daddy's (ed note: her parents, my grandparents). The author is a Catholic sister, and the article appeared in the
National Catholic Reporter. My response to her follows. Also including my latest picture!

Here is the article she mentions:
"Is there anything left that matters?
By Joan Chittister,OSB

This is what I don't understand: All of a sudden nothing seems to matter. First, they said they wanted Bin Laden "dead or alive." But they didn't get him. So now they tell us that it doesn't matter. Our mission is greater than one man.

Then they said they wanted Saddam Hussein, "dead or alive." He's apparently alive but we haven't got him yet, either. However, President Bush told reporters recently, "It doesn't matter. Our mission is greater than one man."

Finally, they told us that we were invading Iraq to destroy their weapons of mass destruction. Now they say those weapons probably don't exist. Maybe never existed. Apparently that doesn't matter either.

Except that it does matter.

I know we're not supposed to say that. I know it's called "unpatriotic." But it's also called honesty. And dishonesty matters.

It matters that the infrastructure of a foreign nation that couldn't defend itself against us has been destroyed on the grounds that it was a military threat to the world.

It matters that it was destroyed by us under a new doctrine of "pre-emptive war" when there was apparently nothing worth pre-empting.

It surely matters to the families here whose sons went to war to make the world safe from weapons of mass destruction and will never come home.

It matters to families in the United States whose life support programs were ended, whose medical insurance ran out, whose food stamps were cut off, whose day care programs were eliminated so we could spend the money on sending an army to do what did not need to be done.

It matters to the Iraqi girl whose face was burned by a lamp that toppled over as a result of a U.S. bombing run.

It matters to Ali, the Iraqi boy who lost his family — and both his arms — in a U.S. air attack.

It matters to the people in Baghdad whose water supply is now fetid, whose electricity is gone, whose streets are unsafe, whose 158 government ministries' buildings and all their records have been destroyed, whose cultural heritage and social system has been looted and whose cities teem with anti-American protests.

It matters that the people we say we "liberated" do not feel liberated in the midst of the lawlessness, destruction and wholesale social suffering that so-called liberation created.

It matters to the United Nations whose integrity was impugned, whose authority was denied, whose inspection teams are even now still being overlooked in the process of technical evaluation and disarmament.

It matters to the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world, both now and for decades to come, perhaps.

And surely it matters to the integrity of this nation whether or not its intelligence gathering agencies have any real intelligence or not before we launch a military armada on its say-so.

And it should matter whether or not our government is either incompetent and didn't know what they were doing or were dishonest and refused to say.

The unspoken truth is that either as a people we were misled, or we were lied to, about the real reason for this war. Either we made a huge — and unforgivable — mistake, an arrogant or ignorant mistake, or we are swaggering around the world like a blind giant, flailing in all directions while the rest of the world watches in horror or in ridicule.

If Bill Clinton's definition of "is" matters, surely this matters. If a president's sex life matters, surely a president's use of global force against some of the weakest people in the world matters. If a president's word in a court of law about a private indiscretion matters, surely a president's word to the community of nations and the security of millions of people matters.

And if not, why not? If not, surely there is something as wrong with us as citizens, as thinkers, as Christians as there must be with some facet of the government. If wars that the public says are wrong yesterday — as over 70% of U.S. citizens did before the attack on Iraq — suddenly become "right" the minute the first bombs drop, what kind of national morality is that?

Of what are we really capable as a nation if the considered judgment of politicians and people around the world means nothing to us as a people?

What is the depth of the American soul if we can allow destruction to be done in our name and the name of "liberation" and never even demand an accounting of its costs, both personal and public, when it is over?

We like to take comfort in the notion that people make a distinction between our government and ourselves. We like to say that the people of the world love Americans, they simply mistrust our government. But excoriating a distant and anonymous "government" for wreaking rubble on a nation in pretense of good requires very little of either character or intelligence.

What may count most, however, is that we may well be the ones Proverbs warns when it reminds us: "Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks the truth." The point is clear: If the people speak and the king doesn't listen, there is something wrong with the king. If the king acts precipitously and the people say nothing, something is wrong with the people.

It may be time for us to realize that in a country that prides itself on being democratic, we are our government. And the rest of the world is figuring that out very quickly.

From where I stand, that matters."
Mom's perfect response:
"Dear Sister Joan,

Having just read your May 27th article in the National Catholic Reporter titled "Is there anything left that matters?", I feel compelled to respond.

Yes, it does matter! It matters to the women of Afghanistan that they can leave their homes now without fear of being accused of some "horrible" crime and stoned to death in the soccer stadium. That they can, if they choose, forego the "veil" for less restrictive dress. That their little girls can now go to school. That they can get a job for which they were trained before the Taliban took over that country. All this matters, to them.

Ask the Iraqis with relatives whose bodies were unearthed from mass graves if it matters that we Americans were there. Be sure to ask them when those relatives disappeared if they felt sure that Saddam would take good care of their loved ones. If you could, it would be enlightening to ask the young girls that Ouday Hussein kidnapped and tortured, raped for days, and finally killed, if they felt that the U.S. "pre-emptive" strike mattered. If it were possible, it would be interesting to listen to the Kurds who were gassed by Saddam to see if they would condemn the American government's intervention in their country. I seriously doubt it.

Weapons of mass destruction? Yes, it matters that in October of 2002, ALL of the nations of the Security Council of the U.N. agreed that Saddam possessed them. I don't believe that anyone has said that they probably don't exist. We've been in Baghdad less that three months and already the "peace and love" folks are screaming because our search teams haven't found them ….yet. These are the same people who wanted to give the U.N. inspectors as long as a year to find them, so maybe, just maybe, that matters too.

Yes, it matters that some of the infrastructure of Iraq was destroyed, and we are working very hard to repair and restore full functionality to the country. And by the way, it has been reported that most of the antiquities that were supposed to have been stolen, were in fact hidden by the museum curators for safekeeping. Most of the Iraqis who are chanting the anti-American slogans are either Saddam loyalists (and yes, I'd be anti-American in that case too!), or are Iranian fomenters of war.

In the 1500's St. Augustine wrote a theory about a "just war". Papal biographer George Weigel summarized St. Augustine's theory this way: "military action is justified as a last resort under certain circumstances: when there is a reasonable chance of success and the good likely to be achieved outweighs the harm that will result if nothing is
done. It also demands civilian immunity and the use of no more force than necessary." It seems to me that pretty much is what our American government's plan of action followed. We spent more than six months trying diplomatic solutions, U.N. resolutions, negotiations, and inspections, so we were down to the last resorts. And WMDs or not, the good that we are doing there likely will far outweigh the harm that was done. Yes, it matters that there were some civilian casualties and injuries, but our military zealously tried to avoid the civilian populations, often at great risks to their own lives.

Yes, it matters that the citizens of this country of ours are being asked to sacrifice. After 9/11, how many U.S. taxpayers would say, "Keep my neighborhood safe, but don't expect me to pay for it!"? In the dark and immoral world of terrorism, pre-emption and strength are the only qualities that will keep us safe from harm. There is a price to pay for that, and it matters to most Americans. When you attack Americans on American soil you can darn well expect there will be retribution. And we'll pay for it.

Yes, it matters that most of the "new European" countries are now our allies and agree 100% with our policy of pre-emption. They know what dictatorships and repression can do to a people. And no, it DOES NOT matter that our "reputation" is on the rocks with the French, who are an ungrateful nation where 56,000 of our liberating U.S. forces are buried. And we should care what they think? I think not!

Unlike the previous administration, this president tells it like it is, and the majority of American people trust him. Believe it or not, it does matter when you lie to a grand jury, regardless that it's a question about "private indiscretions". To me, it matters that Bill Clinton sold classified information to China for campaign contributions. It matters that he schmoozed North Korea and thought they would not engage in nuclear proliferation because he was so charming and asked them not to. Looks like they laughed all the way to the reactor! It matters that he launched a pre-emptive strike against an Iraqi aspirin factory to deflect attention away from his "Monica problem". It matters that he gave last-minute presidential pardons to convicted drug dealers, thieves and fugitives. It matters that he and his wife took gifts intended for the White House when they left, and trashed the image of the office of the president in the eight years they were in the White House. It mattered.

And lastly, it matters that never before in the history of the world, has a country with the awesome power and might of the United States of America been used for so much good in the world. We are a nation of compassionate people, and we care about our neighbors, both those who live next door, and those who live across the seas. We open our hearts and our wallets to help someone in need. We donate food for famine-stricken people, and send relief workers to help with victims of floods and earthquakes. We send our young people to Third World countries to teach other people's children how to read and write. We adopt the orphans of war from foreign lands.

And it still matters that we believe in God. This country was founded by men who prayed to and believed in a Power greater than themselves. And, I'm pretty sure if you could ask them if they believed, like St. Augustine, in a "just war", they would answer YES! Because it matters for the survival of a civilized world.


Jackie (Ed note: proud Marc's Mother)
Columbus, OH"

Posted by: Marc's Mom  

Poor Camerawork  
Tuesday, June 24, 2003 7:39:05 PM EDT

Take two medium sized high energy dogs.
Place on leashes in one hand.
Put 5 lb. camera in other hand.
Wait for groundhog to show up.

Here's what you'll get.

Posted by: Marc  

Acidman is a fraud  
Saturday, June 21, 2003 10:02:54 PM EDT

Check out who I saw him doing kamikazes with last night at Wisenbaker's.

Posted by: Marc  

Backyard Wildlife  
Saturday, June 21, 2003 3:07:00 PM EDT

A couple of photos of some of the other critters hanging out in my backyard.

The Goose Clutch - taken about a month ago.

One of several wabbitts that lives here.

Posted by: Marc  

Government's Clever Sin Tax  
Friday, June 20, 2003 8:07:44 PM EDT

I stopped to get some gas at the local Duke station during lunchtime today. I didn't use my credit card at the pump because I had cash with me. This turned out to be a decision that was a huge mistake. When I went in to pay for my gas, there was a line of about 10 people in front of me and one attendant. There was a man at the counter turning in a large pile of lottery tickets to be scanned to see if he won anything. The cashier took forever to do it, and when she finally was done she said "nope, sorry" to the guy. He insisted that she do it again because he was certain he had a winner in there. This was frustrating for everyone to say the least, but the scraggly homeless looking guy was impervious to our presence. She did it again with the same result. Finally, the guy said "ok" and asked for $20 worth of new tickets. He had his numbers written down on a piece of scrap paper for her to enter manually into her lotto machine. Needless to say, I wanted to punch the guy. When he was finally done, after several minutes, the next customer steps up to buy what else but lottery tickets! 4 More people did the same after him. Chriminy! Don't these people understand that the lottery is just the government's way of taxing people with bad math skills? They stand a better chance of getting hit by a truck on their way out the door than they do of winning anything meaningful in the lottery.

It literally took me 15 minutes to pay for my gas and be out of there. Lunch hour shot all to hell by people lining up to be taken to the government cleaners, and they weren't even rich.

Posted by: Marc  

Don't kill the Killdeer  
Friday, June 20, 2003 7:20:18 PM EDT

I don't know how this species of bird has managed to remain so prolific as opposed to extinct. Their favorite nesting place is in the friggin' driveway of all places! How bright is that for a nesting location? I have at least one pair that nests here every year. Fortunately this one picked a spot that is somewhat on the edge of the drive and now has 2 large orange pylons next to her nest so that nobody will run over her and her babies.

She's hatched a couple of chicks so far, but is still sitting on some eggs too. The little ones hatched either today or yesterday and are really funny to watch. The father tends to them as they run around while mom finishes out the eggs. If you look closely under her right wing you'll notice a little leg and an egg. The leg belongs to one of her chicks that ran for cover when I came near. Momma put him under her wing and yelled at me to go away.

Posted by: Marc  

al-Qaida in MY back yard  
Thursday, June 19, 2003 7:27:18 PM EDT

It's kind of funny, but everytime I go to the airport to leave for a trip somewhere, I get "randomly" selected for the full on "possible terrorist" shakedown. Mind you, I am about as whitebread American as they come. I often wonder just what the hell it is that makes them "randomly" pick me every single damned time? Curiously, this has never once happened to me at LaGuardia.

Yet we have al-Qaida operatives driving around right here in town in commercial explosives haulers trucks with impunity. It was announced today that Iyman Faris AKA Mohammed Rauf, a US citizen and local truck driver, pleaded guilty to terrorism related charges. It seems that one of Mr. Rauf's assignments was to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge for al-Qaida.
"The officials said Mohammed, who was captured March 1 in Pakistan, told U.S. authorities that Faris, 34, had been assigned to look into ways to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge and derail trains, among other potential attacks."
Hmmm. I'm just glad the guy drives trucks, because if he were to head to the airport, he'd probably be boarding while the TSA boys are strip searching my sorry terrorist ass.

Posted by: Marc  

Cupboard bare?  
Wednesday, June 18, 2003 6:51:42 PM EDT

No problem. Simply huff lots of butane gas and you'll be amazed at what looks appetizing.

Posted by: Marc  

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 6:45:44 PM EDT

Here is reason #1 to never say no to four women that wish to have sex with you.

Posted by: Marc  

The Bull Rider  
Tuesday, June 17, 2003 8:46:33 PM EDT

I was sittin' in a bar room one rainy afternoon
Tellin' stories about a rodeo and listenin' to a tune
The rodeo starts tomorrow in this one horse town
So Bill took our names and put our entries down
I went to the rodeo office the next day to see
What bareback horse I had and to pay my fees
I looked across the list but my name wasn't to be found
I thought Bill just might have forgot to put me down
I looked across the board and I happened to find
My name was on another list I was in the bull ridin'
My knees began to knock and my face began to sweat
And I heaved and gagged on the rodeo office step
Well I may be a fool but a coward I'm not
So I borrowed myself a bull rope with a bell in the knot
I walked into the arena with them other bull ridin' fools
I walked down the chutes and finally found my bull
Then I put my rope in the middle of his back
And had some cowboy pull up the slack
Then I wrapped the tail around my hand and back
And said boys open that gate just a little bitty crack
Well the bull hit the gate with his head
And I could see over his hump that his eyes were red
He bailed out of there with a big snort and beller
And something inside me told me I was yeller
Well the dust and hair and flies from off of his hump
Did wisk to my nose as he made another jump
And the stink of it all was more than I could stand
So I jerked my wrap and opened up my hand
Well he jumped in the air and he made one more turn
And as the rope slid through my hand it sure did burn
He flung me down in a great big heap
Then right in the middle of me he did leap
With his feet in my belly a standin' in place
That dirty filthy old bull blew snot in my face
So them damned old bulls you can run'em in a chute
And put your ropes on them big galloots
But the closest you're gonna find me to their stinkin' hair
Is to help some other fool get flung in the air

- The Bull Rider - Chris Ledoux
One of my 3 readers (Hi Stevie!) asked recently what I meant by the comment "occasional cowboy" on my About Page, which I'll admit right now needs a serious update but I digress. Those that have been reading my blog for a while are probably aware of the fact that I have a couple of horses. I've been around horses for most of my life and have always had a fondness for them, so when I say "occasional cowboy", I'm referring to my time doing horsey things.

But one thing I've never discussed on my blog that might enlighten a few folks that don't know me all that well, is that for one summer at least, I actually was a real cowboy. Well, not so much in the sense that I worked on a ranch herding up little doggies. No, what I mean is that for one summer after graduating from high school, I became a rodeo bull rider.

My story was actually very similar to the lyrics in Chris Ledoux's song up there. It happened very much by accident. Up until that summer, I had never had any desire to strap myself to the back of a one ton ball of enraged testosterone filled beef brisket. But at the time, I was running around with a kid that had transferred to my school from Oklahoma. His old school had a rodeo team, and he had been a star bull rider on the team. I don't know of any schools in Ohio that have rodeo teams and ours certainly didn't, but Randy was bound and determined not to lose his edge in the bull riding sport. He started looking around for rodeo promoters that were within a reasonable driving distance. He found several as I recall, guys that would set up at a local fairgrounds on a saturday night, complete with all the livestock necessary and portable arenas and stands for the fans.

One day Randy asked me if I'd like to be in a rodeo. You see he knew that I had some horse experience and one of these promoters had asked him if he knew of anybody that would ride lead on one of his horses in the opening parade carrying an American flag during the National Anthem. I said "sure, why not, sounds like fun." Besides, I'd never seen Randy ride a bull before and was anxious to do so. I signed on as flag bearer.

But when we got to the rodeo office that day, the promoter was worried that he wasn't going to have a very good show that night, as several of the bull riders that normally would have been there had opted to attend a competitor's rodeo in a small town several counties away due to a higher winning purse being offerred there. He only had two or three guys show up for his bull riding event and a whole pen full of bulls. Randy turned to me and said "whaddya say Marc, wanna learn to ride bulls?". I think my reply was something like "gulp, excuse me, are you crazy?". But Randy was very non-chalant and cool about it, saying he'd teach me everything I needed to know and that he'd let me use his gear. He also hinted that I'd be kind of wimpy to let them down and I should at least give it one shot. The promoter also said he'd give me his easiest bull for my first ride and that he was a cake walk anyway. Well, being the indestructable 18 year old that I was, I agreed to enter the bull riding competition along with Randy. I was nervous as hell though.

Things started out pretty badly actually. During the parade, while the National Anthem was finishing up and I was sitting atop that horse holding the flag with all eyes on me, the horse took a couple of steps backwards and accidentally put his rear foot through the arena fencing. His foot got hung up as he tried to pull it free and he momentarily panicked and fell down on the ground, with me still trying to stay on. I damn sure didn't want to drop that flag on the ground during the National Anthem. Luckily I didn't. When the horse fell, his foot came free, and he immediately got back up on his feet, complete with me intact on his back and "the flag was still there". It was a bit embarrassing, but I was proud of the save nonetheless.

Afterwards, it was time for my "crash course" in bull riding out in the pens as we awaited that event. I didn't have the benefit of first practising on one of those mechanical bulls you see today, nor was I be able to ride a real bull in a practice session, without stands full of fans watching me make a fool of myself. I was going to have to do it in realtime.

As promised, when it came time to select our first round of bulls from a hat, the promoter explained my situation to the other riders and they all agreed that I should take the easy bull. We all knew that meant I would stand no chance of winning, as half your score goes to the bull's performance and an easy bull is not what a cowboy wants to draw. Except on that day, that's exactly what I wanted. I didn't care if I won the lousy $25 or not. I just wanted to get it over with.

I was shaking like a leaf on a tree as I mounted that bull in the chute, adrenaline pumping at maximum pressure, with Randy giving me support at my side and trying to settle me (and the bull) down. We didn't have helmets or body armor like so many guys (wisely) use today, and I was thinking to myself that a guy could really get hurt doing something like that for a living. But, the terror only lasted a moment, as once you're settled in and the bull is reasonably quite, it's time to open the gate and let 'em rip!

My first ride was actually pretty decent according to Randy. As expected, my bull wasn't too difficult, nor was he all that big, and though I didn't make the full ride, I lasted for about 6 seconds and apparently showed pretty good form for a first timer. I remember the fans applauding me as I got up and dusted myself off, which gave me quite a bit of confidence and on top of that, the adrenaline rush was exhilirating. I was ready to go again.

For the second round, the promoter asked if I wanted to draw one fair and square, or if I wanted him to select another easy one. I opted to select one from the hat and drew what he said was a good bull, and not too easy. I didn't last too long on that one either, but I once again did a graceful dismount when the time came, so I didn't embarass myself. Unfortunately though, I was out of the running after the second round, which was just fine with me. On that night, Randy was the winner.

I had a lot of fun at that first rodeo, and told Randy to let me know when the next one was, and that I'd like to keep riding bulls with him. I enjoyed the rush. We ended up going to several rodeos that year and I was pretty much mediocre at it all summer, but I didn't worry about it, because I was just in it for the thrill anyhow. I didn't feel all that competitive about it, I was concentrating more on just improving my technique and Randy was more than happy to spend the time teaching it to me over those few months.

But one Saturday afternoon, late that summer, we went to a fairly good sized rodeo about an hour away. On my very first draw I drew what everyone said was the meanest bull in the bunch. He was a huge Brahma Bull. I think his name was "Firecracker", or something to that effect. I went and checked him out in the pen before my ride and started getting really nervous. He seemed to be at least twice as big as anything I'd ridden up to that point and he looked none too friendly. Turns out he wasn't. Randy had taught me a lot about style and technique, but failed to mention the one thing that you NEVER, EVER do, which is to keep trying to stay on, even when you've lost control. You see, you don't get points for just staying on. You have to have some sense of control over your ride. For my ride on that particular bull, he threw me off balance almost right away and I did everything I could just to hang on. By the end, I was fully 90 degrees from where I should have been, meaning my upper body was on his side. Now it only took me about one second to figure out that a bull with great big massive horns swings his head from side to side and that after one of them came within an inch of my face at maximum velocity, it was probably a prudent idea to let go. Fortunately I did and fell straight down on top of my head in the dirt. Luckily, this particular rodeo had some good clowns to distract the bull away from me as I slowly got up and tried to orient my bearings. I decided even before I got out of that arena that that was the last time I was going to ride a bull and I've kept that promise to myself ever since.

It's a young man's game, and a hell of a lot of fun too. I wish I had the balls and my youth to try it once again.

Posted by: Marc  

The Bishop's Compassion  
Tuesday, June 17, 2003 07:47:49 AM EDT

Earlier this month, Arizona Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien narrowly escaped charges of obstruction for protecting child molesting priests under his charge. Yesterday, he once again showed his true colors after doing a hit and run on a cat, or a dog or something. He's not quite sure.
"Police said in court documents that O'Brien told them he thought he had hit a dog or a cat or that someone had thrown a rock at his car. O'Brien's attorney, Jordan Green, declined to comment."
Aren't people in Bishop O'Brien's position supposed to be among the most compassionate people on earth? I mean assuming it even was a cat or a dog (which would have to be a pretty huge one to go through your windshield in the first place) wouldn't it be the prudent thing to do to at least stop and see if there was anything at all you could do for it?

Well, maybe not I suppose if you had something to hide. But what could a Bishop possibly want to keep secret?

Posted by: Marc  

A snake story  
Monday, June 16, 2003 9:02:24 PM EDT

Acidman tells the story of finding a rattle snake on his back porch and the necessity of ridding himself of the evil creature, to which I can sympathize. I've killed two rattle snakes and was glad that I did, because I just plain don't see one single reason for having them nearby. They might kill an occasional rodent, but there are far safer and more efficient snakes for that. I've also killed two copperheads and one coral snake so far. Also, an occaisional garter snake with a lawnmower by accident and one black snake that we killed for supper at boy scout camp once. I don't like killing non-venomous snakes, but I have a healthy respect for the poisonous ones. Well, maybe not enough respect to let them live, but you get my drift.

Where I grew up (SE Ohio), our indeginous poison snakes were copperheads and timber rattlers. We rarely saw the rattlers, as they tended to live high in the hills among the rock outcroppings, whereas copperheads weren't all that uncommon, but still more rare than the common black snake.

I remember one day my brother and I grabbed a five gallon bucket and headed off into the woods behind our house where there was a nice creek, full of salamanders and crawdads. We were going to catch a mess of them and make a meal or at least that was the plan. I think we just wanted to see how full we could get that bucket with crawly critters.

We had been down there for a couple of hours flipping rocks in the stream over and catching whatever tried to swim away. My brother found a big rock right next to the stream that required both of us to lift. When we did, lo and behold, there was a whole nest of young black snakes all slithering over each other in a shallow depression that was under it. They began to move out in all directions upon their exposure. We shouted with glee at our find and started frantically trying to round them all up. We were so excited, because we knew nobody that we hung with had ever made a snake haul like that. We gathered up about a dozen snakes or so and put them all in the bucket. It was one big heavy slithering black mass in there and they kept trying to get out as we raced home with them to try to find a more secure confine for them for a little show off and tell.

My parents had been relieved of child care duty for a week by my grandma at the time. She was a woman raised on a farm and quite appreciative of something as useful as a barn rat killing black snake. We thought we'd be able to scare her to death, but she just looked in the bucket, smiled and admired our haul. "What are you gonna do with 'em boys? she said. "We're gonna take 'em over to Charlie and Ted's and show those guys what we found. But we gotta get 'em into something that they can't get out of first." we told her. Grandma said that she had an idea. She found some screen mesh to put over the bucket that was fairly heavy gauged, but had large holes that according to her, would give them plenty of oxygen. It seemed perfect. The snakes didn't like that screen and it seemed to settle them down. We raced over to Charlie and Ted's house to show off a little and when we rang the doorbell, their mom answered and nearly fell over with fright when she saw what we had in our bucket. We asked for Ted and Charlie and she said we could come in, but we had to leave the snakes on the back porch, which was fine with us. But when Charlie and Ted came outside to see them, they were all gone! The screen was big enough that they could still get out through it and they had all scattered back to the woods.

We figured out later that Grandma knew this the whole time. She knew that she didn't want a dozen blacksnakes hanging around the house as there wasn't a rodent or snake problem there, so she instituted a plan to set them free. Dammit Grandma! Nobody even got to see 'em first. Nobody's gonna believe us! We were gonna let 'em go after a while, I swear!

Posted by: Marc  

Thumb Sucking  
Monday, June 16, 2003 8:06:02 PM EDT

I don't have much in the way of politics on my mind tonight, other than my brief opinion about the suddenly and surprisingly newsworthy former NSC official, Rand Beers who after resigning his position on Bush's National Security team a few months ago and has now signed on with John Kerry as his National Security Advisor.
"Things were dicey," said Rand Beers, recalling the stack of classified reports about plots to shoot, bomb, burn and poison Americans. He stared at the color-coded threats for five minutes. Then he called his wife: I'm quitting."
Ohhh, my job is sceery! I want my momma! I quit!

You pansie assed moron. John Kerry deserves the likes of you. I'll do my level best to make sure he (and you) never make it to office too. I want someone with a backbone in the position you once held, but couldn't handle. I don't have any respect for someone that pulls a stunt like yours. If you want to effect change, you were in a high powered position to do it but you blew it pure and simple. I don't need to hear any thing more from you. You've said all I need to know.

Posted by: Marc  

Home again  
Sunday, June 15, 2003 11:19:12 AM EDT

Well, I made it back home safe and sound. I had a good trip to New York as I mentioned earlier, and was able to have a couple of evenings off which allowed me to have a couple of nice dinners with friends and even pay a visit to my favorite neighborhood bar, Flannigan's. One thing struck me as different from previous visits to NYC, that being that it seemed like a lot more New Yorkers had taken up smoking. I noticed lots more people walking around with a smoke in their hand. It didn't take long for me to realize that this was just cause and effect from Mayor Bloomberg's smoking ban. People can't smoke in buildings anywhere, so they are all out in the streets doing it. It was really kind of a funny thing to see. I doubt though that the bar and restaurant owners see it that way. Flannigan's was only about half as full as it normally would have been when I went there. The ban has obviously had an effect on that type of business, and not in a good way.

The Bloomberg administration seems to really be ticking off a lot of New Yorkers for other things too. They had a poll last week on the local news that showed Bloomberg's approval rating at just 24%, which is apparently lower than any mayor in 25 years. It didn't surprise me though, as they were running stories about entire blocks of businesses being fined for not having their recycle stickers displayed promptly in their lobbies. Most of them had the stickers over the recycle cans themselves, which naturally aren't in the lobby. Of course these business owners were upset and accused the city of being on a bogus revenue generating mission, driven of course by Bloomberg's demand for police ticketing quotas. One business owner (a dry cleaner) said that a cop told him to "blame Bloomberg" as he wrote out his ticket. No, I'm not surprised by Bloomberg's approval rating whatsoever.

Absolutely the funniest part of my trip though was the cab ride back to LaGuardia. Now I've been going to NY pretty routinely for the past 13 years or so and have learned the ins and outs of catching a cab in Manhattan. Sometimes, it really is an art, one that has taken me some time to perfect. On Friday, when it was time for me to leave for the airport, I was sidetracked by one of our employees and my delay put me behind schedule, which made me nervous, because there is no guarantee that you'll be able to catch a cab in a timely manner, especially on a Friday afternoon, and more importantly, in the rain. On top of these obstacles, I've discovered that many cabbies don't want to go to LaGuardia (or Kennedy for that matter) because they face a long wait behind other cabs for a return fare. It is illegal for a cabbie to refuse you a ride anywhere, but they do it routinely if you are headed to the airport. I've found that the best way to catch a cab is to go to one of the nearest main streets, not the cross streets and hide my suitcase behind a parked car while I attempt to hail a cab. If they don't see your suitcase, they usually won't ask where you're going until you're in the car. I'll go up and open the door, then go retrieve my suitcase, which usually gets a look of distaste from the driver. But by this point, he's been had and he knows it. On Friday though, it was raining a little and there weren't many cabs available. I did my normal routine and watched several occupied cabs going by and nary one with a "vacancy" light on. But after a few minutes of that sinking feeling that I was going to totally miss my plane, I noticed a cab coming along that had his "off duty" light on. I didn't try to even hail that one, but he pulled over next to me and said "where are you going?", which caught me by surprise. I said "LaGuardia" and he said "hop in". This delighted me and I ran to get my bag from behind someone's Toyota and jumped in the cab. I knew that I'd make my plane at this point, because I still had some time to spare unless traffic completely sucked, which was possible, but I wasn't too concerned about that, as the cabbies usually know where the traffic problems are and will take an alternate route to LaGuardia if necessary. As I got in, the driver said, in an Indian accent, "which way do you want to go?" and I asked which way would be fastest today. He said the Tri-burrough bridge would be his choice and I said "go for it". Ultimately, this might have been a bad move on my part, because I got the impression that my driver, a man named Mario Andretti "Mr. Toqeer", took that statement as a challenge.

He hit the gas and took off towards the big bridge from midtown. I was a little shocked by his "need for speed", as it wasn't really necessary, but I figured what the hell, it'll just buy me more time and I was cutting it pretty close as it was. As Mario sped along at 75 miles an hour down FDR Drive (think Appu from The Simpson's, hopped up on Ephedrin) he explained that he was coming off duty, but that he lived in Brooklyn, which isn't far from LaGuardia and so he figured he'd take one more fare for the day, much to my delight. He wouldn't have to wait there after dropping me off, because he was going home anyway. I thought he was an unusually enterprising sort of fellow for a NY cabbie and was most appreciative of my good fortune to have crossed his path, but his driving sure gave me the willies. He was a speed freak of the worst kind and as he drove, he explained that he had been driving a cab for 11 years and that his best time from midtown to LaGuardia was 9 minutes (usually about a 20-25 minute ride on a good day). He went on to say that he managed that trip at 5:00 AM though, so he probably wouldn't be able to top his previous record with me as it was currently mid afternoon on a Friday. He sure was going to try though. As he weaved in and out of traffic going half his speed, with me hanging onto the handgrip and my feet planted firmly against the back of his seat, I began to get a sense of just how good of a driver he actually was. He was fearless, but deadly accurate as to what he could get away with. He was clipping along at 75-80 mph, just inches from the mirrors of other motorists, and it didn't faze him in the least. He got me to LaGuardia in 14 minutes, which I think was a record for me if not for him. I was so appreciative that I gave him a 25% tip. He was the best cabbie I've ever had in NY and that kind of rare entreprenurial spirit should not go unrewarded. I made it to LGA with 30 minutes to spare, only to find that my plane was delayed by an hour due to the rain. Heh, go figure.

Posted by: Marc  

New York Rules  
Wednesday, June 11, 2003 10:22:09 PM EDT

So I'm here in New York and I'm hitting on all cylinders. I've finished a job that should have taken 4 days on my second day. It's not normal for me, but I'm rockin' for some reason. I'm in coast mode now. It's WAY cool. I love being here when I'm not under the gun, which is what I'm used to. No more for now though, because I shouldn't be bloggin' when I'm in this environment. I should be out experiencing it once again...without duress. But I do have some things to say about it, just not right now. More later. I'm doing fine though, hope y'all are too. See you this weekend!

Posted by: Marc  

Quit That! Light(er)  
Monday, June  9, 2003 10:42:25 PM EDT

Blogging will likely be light until the weekend. I'm going to NYC tomorrow morning for a couple of projects that will probably consume most of my time while I'm there. I will have the Powerbook though, so I'll try not to let things get too stale around here while I'm gone. No guarantees though. Click on some of those links over on the right column if ya get bored.

Posted by: Marc  

Monday, June  9, 2003 8:43:27 PM EDT

Bob Kirschner, from The Arizona Republic, weighs in with brief thoughts on Hillary's new book.
"Then I wondered if Hillary would mention the laments of Bill's golf buddies who watched him, hole after hole, declare fewer strokes than he took, only to further trim his score in the clubhouse. But the article woke me up. No truth here from Hillary, either."

Posted by: Marc  

Where's the WMD?  
Monday, June  9, 2003 8:09:05 PM EDT

[link via Occam's Toothbrush via American Realpolitik.]

Posted by: Marc  

The Death of France  
Monday, June  9, 2003 7:53:52 PM EDT

Front Page Magazine invited a panel of experts to discuss the root causes of France's current economic anorexia in a symposium called The Death of France?. A few brief quotes:
"The reports that France helped Iraqi officials escape to Europe were not surprising, because France is now the European leader of the Arab world and of Arab interests.

In light of these circumstances, many would argue that France is no longer. . . .well, France."
They would now like to be called Al-France Mohamed Hussein.
"France's position on the Iraq war was influenced by its Muslim population -- France feared domestic unrest."
Really? You think?
"...France is a welfare state where it’s easy to earn more money asking for assistance than looking for a job. In many families, and now many Muslim families, assistance has become a way of life. If you spend your days doing nothing, you can start to have temptations. If you see drug dealers driving around in fancy cars, your temptations take shape."
And people wonder what it is about entitlements that I don't like.

[link via Winds of Change, who has some good thoughts on the issue as well]

Posted by: Marc  

Richard's Poor Almanac  
Saturday, June  7, 2003 3:04:11 PM EDT

After reading Richard Cohen's latest, Of Tricks and Trailers, Charles Austin from Sine Qua Non Pundit finds himself in a state of general "mean spiritedness" and unsheaths his exacto knife for some precision surgery. As you might imagine, things get ugly for poor Richard.
"And that possible downside -- a quagmire in Iraq, for instance -- may come to haunt the Bush administration.

Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire!

...We won and it’s still Vietnam! It's so ... spooky"

Posted by: Marc  

It's only a flesh wound...  
Saturday, June  7, 2003 2:33:12 PM EDT

If you find yourself to be somebody's target as the main course for tonight's dinner, it's best if you don't lose your head over it. But even if you do, you can still fight back.

[link via Interrobang]

Posted by: Marc  

What's your blog's buzzosity?  
Saturday, June  7, 2003 10:34:29 AM EDT

"In simple terms, Buzzosity™ the the measurement of the "buzzword-i-ness" of a document."

Posted by: Marc  

Cold beer for hot days  
Saturday, June  7, 2003 10:19:00 AM EDT

When you're serious about your beer, spending even a little time in the sun can pose problems. Some purists take this very seriously.

Are you paying attention Bigwig?

Posted by: Marc  

Chicks in tight jeans  
Saturday, June  7, 2003 10:10:44 AM EDT

I love 'em. But damn! Where's Jenny Craig when you need her?

Posted by: Marc  

The Senate Caves  
Friday, June  6, 2003 12:55:37 PM EDT

Fearful republicans in the senate apparently thought the child tax credit issue that I spoke of the other day was just too hot of a potato to hold onto, so they aren't going to. The senate has passed, by a vote of 94-2, an expanded child tax credit that now includes a welfare bill for low-income families with children who were previously excluded from the $400 increase per child tax credit in Bush's tax cut plan.

As usual, Ravenwood's Universe is on top of it.

Posted by: Marc  

D-Day Anniversary  
Friday, June  6, 2003 12:30:38 PM EDT

Today is the 59th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy.

Here's an interesting item at the BBC called the D-Day Flyover which has an aerial photograph taken over the eastern portion of Omaha Beach on June 6th 1944 at 10:00 AM. You can zoom in and out, pan all about and it will also show you the positions of six veterans they've interviewed about their experiences on that historic day.

Posted by: Marc  

The Race Card  
Thursday, June  5, 2003 7:27:25 PM EDT

You know, I get at least one credit card solicitation each and every day. Well maybe not Sundays. But I've been waiting and waiting for a solicitation from Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson for one of their cool race cards. You know, the ones everybody uses as a get out of jail free pass? O.J. got all kinds of mileage from his, so did Rodney King. It's WAY better than hitting the lottery too, because not only will it get you out of a shoplifting charge, it'll net you a much bigger jackpot at the same time. Yep, Al and Jesse have built lucrative careers around The Race Card. Hell, they've practically built an industry out of it.

Today we have Jose Canseco running his card through the slot, charging that the media is treating Sammy Sosa unfairly because of...say it with me now...his race! Ugh. I suppose someone from Fox News rigged Sammy's bat for the set up too, right Jose?

It's bad enough when an ordinary citizen uses their race card erroneously, even worse when a celebrity like Jose Canseco does it, but I really begin to get nervous when drunk driving, car crashing, New York Supreme Court Justices start using it in an attempt to stay out of jail.

Yeah. That sure would be one handy card to have. Jesse, Al? Do you guys need my address?

Posted by: Marc  

Phone it in  
Thursday, June  5, 2003 6:20:45 PM EDT

Cincinnati Enquirer cartoonist Jim Boorgman is on vacation. So how did he get today's cartoon so suspiciously accurate?

Posted by: Marc  

Here in Seattle  
Wednesday, June  4, 2003 8:30:13 PM EDT

[wait a sec, I live in Ohio] I mean here in Ohio, our state motto is "if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute". The funny thing is, the weather hasn't changed here in over a month so nobody believes it anymore. I've got a literal black cloud over my head that follows me where ever I go. Rain, rain and more rain has been the norm for weeks on end. I don't think I've worn sunglasses since I was nearly snowblinded back in February. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating just a teensie bit, but seriously, I'm really getting tired of it. Oh look, the cloud looks to be hovering over Donnaville too.

Meanwhile, Ernie the Attorney has been suffering through a drought. Fortunately for him, it ended Tuesday. Unfortunately for him, his car has a mind of its' own during lightning storms.

Posted by: Marc  

Blog Father Car  
Wednesday, June  4, 2003 7:25:49 PM EDT

I recalled that the Blog Father was looking to buy a new car back in December. He wanted to test drive the new Nissan 350Z, but unfortunately had a bad experience with the dealership, who sniffed that he wouldn't be able to test it unless he bought it and the thing ate one of his CDs! No wonder he walked away from it.

Now I don't know if Nissan has worked out the CD player issue yet or not, but if this video called "The Run" is any indication of what that car is all about, I say screw the CD player. I'll take it!

Posted by: Marc  

DIY Riot Control  
Wednesday, June  4, 2003 5:07:57 PM EDT

Having problems with pesky rioters at your G-8 summit meetings? Fed up with wacky PETA protestors trying to gum up your fashion show?

Save an already overburdened police force some time and the local taxpayers some money by handling the situation yourself with the ever handy Talon Riot Control Vehicle. You can purchase one today for less than 20% of the cost of a new one. Imagine, with the money you'll save you'll be able to finance an entire closet full of fine sable coats!

Posted by: Marc  

Gecko Tape Will Stick You to Ceiling  
Wednesday, June  4, 2003 12:14:14 PM EDT

From the childhood fantasy department:
"A new material covered with nanoscopic hairs that mimic those found on geckos' feet could allow people to walk up to sheer surfaces and across ceilings, say researchers."
Climbing walls and ceilings is normally a feat reserved only for Geckos and super heroes, but scientists believe that other applications for this new "Gecko Tape" are possible in the near future, such as on vehicle tires or climbing robots.

It remains uncertain however what impact the new tape will have on auto insurance rates.

Posted by: Marc  

Sammy "say it ain't" Sosa  
Wednesday, June  4, 2003 09:52:18 AM EDT

After breaking his bat in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays Tuesday, Chicago Cubs superstar Sammy Sosa admitted to accidentally grabbing an illegal cork filled bat. When asked for an explanation, Sosa claimed that it was a bat that he normally uses only for batting practice, "to put on a show for the fans". As he prepared to approach the batter's box during game time however, he somehow grabbed the wrong bat.

In related news, TV personality and former Playboy centerfold model Anna Nicole Smith displayed a surprising show of solidarity and misinterpretation of Sosa's misfortune by admitting that she too stuffs herself with pork for the entertainment value it provides for fans of her show "The Anna Nicole Show" on cable TV's E! Entertainment Channel.

[Title attributed to Charles Gibson of ABC's "Good Morning America".]

Posted by: Marc  

Fast Times at Iamso High  
Tuesday, June  3, 2003 7:41:27 PM EDT

Jeff Spicoli sets down his bong momentarily and stumbles out of a smoke laden van with a rambling and unintelligible manifesto in the New York Times called Kilroy's Still Here. No comment yet from Mr. Hand, who was last seen hunched over a toilet in the men's restroom.

Note to Mr. Spicoli: Dude, save yourself a lot of cash and start a real blog if you want to spew that kind of navel-gazing, nonsensical drivel.

Posted by: Marc  

Robbers foiled by shotgun weilding woman  
Tuesday, June  3, 2003 6:22:05 PM EDT

A Woodville Township Ohio woman disrupts the plans of two male robbers Sunday with a shotgun.

No word yet on the status of ceiling tiles apparently in the line of fire.

Posted by: Marc  

Snuggle Bear the player  
Monday, June  2, 2003 7:06:33 PM EDT

Snuggle Bear turns 20 and decides to change his image.
"With a blissful demeanor, squeaky voice and high-pitch giggle, Snuggle, the longtime spokescreature for the Snuggle brand of fabric softener, used to behave like a Care Bear. Now cuddly Snuggle is getting an image update, becoming a devil-may-care bear, complete with sunglasses à la Tom Cruise, dates with models and knowing winks to the audience.
Smarter than your average bear it seems.

[Link via Mimi Smartypants]

Posted by: Marc  

Pulling the can  
Monday, June  2, 2003 06:43:44 AM EDT

I have one of those great big garbage cans on wheels. I also have a long driveway and have to wheel the can out to the curb every Thursday morning. On Friday (sometimes Saturday) during my daily dog walking routine, I'll grab the can and drag it back to the house. My dog Sydney seems to love this job function. She likes to push her neck into the collar and pull hard in front of me on her leash while I'm dragging the can with my other hand. It's as if she's actually the one pulling the can back to the house. I've propagated this attitude with her, and treat it as though she IS the one doing the work, but in fact she's not. I have her in one hand and the can in the other, but for some reason she thinks she's the one pulling the can. Really though, she's just pulling me. I guess that helps, somewhat.

I have a new dog puppy now though, and I walk them together. As some of you know, I asked for names for him and I've decided not to have a vote as I suggested earlier. I'm going to skip that, because I had some really good suggestions that I didn't want to get lost in the voting process. I've decided to go with Greg's suggestion and call him Backup Dog. Actually, I'm also going with Kay's recommendation and shortening it to BD (or BeeDee), because yelling "here backup dog!" just seems to windy. He's already responding to it too. He's turning out to be a pretty good pup after all. He's got a lot of moxie and he gives Sydney all kinds of grief, which she seems to enjoy. He's chock full of energy and he wrestles with her incessantly. She's doing a great job of teaching him how to be a dog.

Sydney stopped being a watchdog a long time ago. She almost never barks at people that come around, just rabbits and deer, which probably aren't going to break into my house and steal stuff. BD, on the other hand, seems to only bark at people, which is exactly what I want to see out of an outdoor dog. His anxiety tends to bring Sydney out of her normally comatose state too, and she'll join in the fray. They seem to make a pretty good team together.

Yesterday was BD's first attempt at "pulling the can" though. I walked them both with one hand, each on a seperate leash, which normally works well, because BD is forced to walk where Sydney goes. It was rather funny with the can though, because BD didn't know what to make of that monster can on wheels rumbling down the driveway, and was barking and growling at it all the way. Sydney just did her thing though, and drug the can, and BD all the way back. He didn't have a clue. He'll get it eventually I'm sure though. He seems to be pretty smart. Smart enough anyway to listen to what Sydney has to say about anything.

Posted by: Marc  

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