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Musings and Meanderings

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Odds and Ends to catch up.

1) My car is getting fixed on Monday, his insurance IS paying, and I get a rental car till its done.

2) Liza's birthday is Sunday. Email her at liza@nycap.rr.com even if you have never met her.

3) I've been out selling the last three weeks, so I don't spend much time online at work anymore. Though I do miss being online I LOVE being out selling.

4) I've been .. get this.. READING.. Instead of being online at night at home. Imagine this. Instead of staring at a chat screen or playing a game or burning something I actually sit in a nice chair and engage my mind in learning and good escapist fantasy. I'm reading all at the same time: Sometime Never (the new 8th Dr. Book) The I hate Republicans Reader. The Economist, the Atlantic Monthly, The Sunday New York Times, Lost Tales Vol 1, and Censored 2004.

5) The accident threw my back out. So I went home early on Wednesday. Felt so much better on Friday night that I shoveled snow when I got home. Big mistake.

6) MW is coming to visit today and tomorrow for Liza's birthday. So we did the final clean this am. woo hoo. We are going to the Albany Pump Station for dinner. Liza is getting the presents from Alex and myself this evening instead of tomorrow. She does not know this.

7) SUE!! I need daycare Sunday night the 22nd! I am taking Liza to see Nancy Griffith and the Blue Moon Orchestra at the Egg (her birthday present). Pppplllleeeaaaassseeee?

8) Specifically Mom arrives sometime soon (it's 4pm and she is calling from Springfield via cell phone). Then she flys home to SF on Sunday at 4. If I lived in Paris she would stay longer but I don't think Albany is as fun. I jest of course, as she and Geoff came for Xmas a few years ago which was just great.

9) Rarely discussed musical excitement department. My friend "washac" is remastering low generation copies of the Wall shows from the 80's. I saw the closing night show by the way. I have all the LA shows on the way in the mail, and am very excited. A trader from Brazil is unearthing some rare Genesis recordings and has sent out two already, both of which are Soundboard quality and amazingly good. Exciting times in the trading business.

Well that is a wrap.


posted by Mike 4:06 PM

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

SMASH CRASH THRASH

A SUV came sliding through a stop sign this AM and whacked the HWKWND mobile something feirce.

I made the mistake of turning my head a weird angle when the idiot hit me and so my neck and back are stiff.

HIS insurance company is going to make this right....









posted by Mike 6:45 PM

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Looong Weekend......

In no particular order of happening or importance.

Went bowling with Alex.

Didn't go to NH, but promised that we would go the weekend of 2/7.

Did a bunch of fun stuff out of the WeBeLo's handbook so Alex will qualify for his "artist" pin.

Had a blow up with Liza, one of the bigger in our marriage. Made up the next day no worries.

Cleaned the Upstairs bathroom, not pretty trust me, its the "boy's" bathroom.

Read a TON of information: Economist, Atlantic Monthly, Couple of current events books.
(As a side note I'll be digesting and summarizing this week - my little gift to you readers)

In the you know when your team sucks dept: Read an interesting article in the Sunday New York Times of all places on Da' Raida's and how things fell apart last year.

Watched the Talking Heads shows on Sunday - Go Kerry! Go Edwards!

Didn't watch ANY Sports, a preview of the "dead zone" in my Sports life between the Super Bowl and Opening Day of Baseball - yea sorry Basketball and Hockey leave me cold.

Began making my way through Christopher Tolkein's "Lost Tales" Vol 1. Got the first five in paperback in a box set for Christmas with some gift card money (thanks Cathy!).

I'm sure I did more. Just can't remember!
posted by Mike 11:33 PM

Friday, January 23, 2004

Beating a Dead horse I know...

But I just finished reading a ghastly account by an American Ex-Pat journalist that works for the Guardian regarding the erasure of thousands of voting rights in Florida. Now the piece I'm reading is published in a book that has a serious Right Wing bashing agenda. But the story is horrifying none the less. Whether or not Fla Sec of State Harris had an agenda (she was working for the GWB campaign, and working for GWB's brother) or not is probably immaterial. What is scary and very telling is that the only journalistic efforts to uncover this erasure of voting rights was done by Salon.com and the Guardian, an internet journal and a British Journal. American Journalists stayed away from the story.

The charge this author makes is that due to mistakes in the "purge" files of the Voting Registers in FLA 57,000 Americans were denied their voting rights. Some were denied this right legally as the list was SUPPOSED to contain 100% felons. However the list was so full of errors that this author claims 15% of the voters on the list were there incorrectly. Among those on the list was a circuit judge in FLA and a woman working for the voter reg office. A vast majority of the people on the lists were poor white, African Americans and Hispanic Voters..........

I.E. Democrats.

This author sees a vast conspiracy to complete the promise Jeb made publicly to deliver FLA to his brother in the '00 Elections. The company that created these purge files is run by a team of Right Wing republicans. I'm not sure that I am that paranoid. Demographics say that unfortunately Felons are the same demographic as the three listed above.

What is scary is that his information came to light DURING the recounts. No media outlet took up the story. The author (thankfully) doesn't ascribe this to a Right Wing Conspiracy but to simple Economics. Some of the Networks looked into the story, by calling the Gov Jeb's office (who surprisingly said that no such thing had happened) and then let the matter drop. The Author's point is that none of the Networks wanted to spend the money researching the story.

Apparently Salon did research the story and this is how they came up with the 15% figure for the percentage of voters turned away at the polls due to mistakes in the purge list. The FLA election was flawed from the start and should have been thrown out.

GWB won by less than 600 votes in FLA if my memory serves. 15% of 57000, even when you discount out 1) those who would not have voted anyway and 2) those who would have Voted for GWB; is a heck of a lot more than 600.

Looks like Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris delivered FLA as promised.
posted by Mike 8:49 AM

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

And now for something completely different

I have no comment regarding the State of the Union.

I cannot listen to him for more than one sound bite at time, his voice and delivery really grates on my nerves.

So I will read the speech at some point maybe.

-=Foul language warning=-

To me its all full of shite politics anyway. I am so used to this guy saying one thing and then doing another that I really don't see the point of even paying attention to what he says. He is just going to do something entirely different anyway.

OUT!
posted by Mike 11:03 PM

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Visit from the 'rents

Gosh is that an "I love the 80's strikes back" word or what? The 'rents....

Anyway we had a lovely visit from D&K last night, they drove over from their new place in NH ostensibly to get their Kitchen table that they had so nicely lent us while they were overseas.

We also got to go out to dinner, which on a "boys night in" was a boon for me, not having to cook dinner. We all pigged out big time at Fresno's in Troy. We all had two appetizers, their chicken nachos and buffalo wings. THEN we had our dinners! K and Alex had burgers, big burgers, D had the catch of the day and I had their Santa Fe Chicken, which was very good.

Other than the terminally perky and loud wait person named "dani" I'd say it was a pretty good experience. This chain type restaurant set itself up in the vacated premises of a much loved Troy restaurant called Castaways. They used to serve the best Sunday Brunch Buffet! Fresno's had not done much interior redesigning, mainly just removing the "Hawaiian" theme of nets and such.




Iowa

I would be remiss in not mentioning the caucus' last night. To everyone's surprise the second place finisher was my favorite candidate John Edwards! Dean came in third. So what does this mean?

Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

Personally I detest the primary system. The idea that two primarily white "northern" states could, in certain scenario's determine the future nominee of any party is absurd at best, criminal at the least. Not to mention that the whole caucus system resembles NOTHING that actually goes on in the real elections.

No I firmly believe that we should have a national primary or at the least four regional "super" primaries sometime in March or April. This makes these guys (and ladies) cover the whole country and not pander to a particular state.

Because what plays well in Iowa and NH may not play well in the South or the West, and if the Dem's cannot win in those states, then they are doomed to loose the upcoming election.

However having said all that I am absolutely delighted that the Dean Machine has shown to have warts. Nothing more revolting than the Press branding a party's nominee before the process even begins!!

OUT
posted by Mike 8:53 AM

Monday, January 19, 2004

Odds and ends throughout the day

Sunday Bush Talking Heads

I always wonder if we all are living in the EXACT same dimension and reality. Is it possible that Washington DC is actually shifted slightly off the prime reality (Earth One we can call it)? According to the latest Bush mouthpiece on Stephanopolis' Sunday AM show yesterday the Job situation is improving!

Here are the facts from Earth One, Mr. Mouthpiece.

In December the economy created barely 1,000 new jobs, though something nearer 150,000 had been expected by experts.

In all, over the past five months, America has generated only 278,000 jobs in non-farm businesses, a typical figure for a single month during the glorious boom.

George Bush presides over 2.3m fewer jobs than when he came to office.

Most of the fall from 5.9% in November to a 14-month low of 5.7% was accounted for by people leaving the labor force.




The reality is colder though for the Dem's

The sad fact is that the American populace according to the major polls are fairly well satisfied with the way the "War on Terrorism" is going. Their dissatisfaction in the present Administration has more to do with the Economy.

Why is this sad for the gaggle of Dems running for President? Because the natural business cycle is going to rise up and bite them squarely in the arse. The Economy is finally rising in spite of the enormous debt laid on it by this Administration and will be fairly ticking along come Fall of this year.

So that will leave little things like Civil Rights, Supreme Court Packing, and this whole "tax cut and spend" concept to be the talking points of the Election.

Americans will Yawn cause "if it doesn't happen to me" its not important, and re-elect this serial bungler.

Bummer




Return of the Return of the King

Friday Alex was off due to the cold. (Don't ask). So I picked him up from Cathy's and we went and saw the final installment of the Lord of the Rings again. It stands up well to a second showing, but if I were to recommend WHEN to go see it, I would say fresh as a matinee vs. tired after a long week. It really IS a long movie, and by the last half hour (945 to 10:15!) I was definitely ready for the movie to end.

I've thought a lot about the missing "scouring of the shire" bits and frankly, unless they had made RotK into TWO movies, I just don't see a place for it. To fans it is consequential, but to new movie goers, I don't see it as being that important.




Football Football Football!

With apologies to my nephew in South Shore MA, I have to say that in the end I was disappointed that Indianapolis lost yesterday. However I was happy to see Carolina make it to the big game.

So its New England vs Carolina in Houston in two weeks. NE is a 7 point favorite to start. Though I love the Carolina team (from ashes to the top in a year) I don't see them beating an experienced Super Bowl team like New England.
posted by Mike 8:49 AM

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Completely around the bend

Hey guys!

What the hell is going on in the White House?

Every day we get a new new agenda to spend more money to buy votes.

lets see...

The immigration bill
The Nasa agenda
and now.....
Federal funding to make marriages better.

You know with a "Tax and Spend" Democrat at least the books balanced.

With this "Tax cut and Spend" Republican I guess the answer to the deficit is like Doritos......

We'll just print more!!!!!!!!!
posted by Mike 9:05 AM

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Taking a Mental Vacation from Winter

Pulled my entire Beach Boys CD Collection down off the shelf and hauled it into work today, I am celebrating California Summers, Surfing, Cars, Bikini Clad babes and generally anything that has NOTHING to do with North East Winters.

Bet you had no idea how prolific the Beach Boys have been. I have the ones in bold on CD or Vinyl

SURFIN' SAFARI (1962)
SURFIN' USA (1963)
SURFER GIRL (1963)
LITTLE DEUCE COUPE (1963)
SHUT DOWN VOL. 2 (1964)
ALL SUMMER LONG (1964)
CONCERT (1964)

CHRISTMAS ALBUM (1964)
TODAY (1965)
SUMMER DAYS (AND SUMMER NIGHTS) (1965)
PARTY (1965)
PET SOUNDS (1966)
SMILEY SMILE (1967)
WILD HONEY (1967)
FRIENDS (1968)
STACK-O-TRACKS (1968)
20/20 (1969)
LIVE IN LONDON (1968)

THE FLAME - THE FLAME (1970)
SUNFLOWER (1970)
SURF'S UP (1971)
CARL AND THE PASSIONS - SO TOUGH (1972)
SPRING - S/T (1973)
HOLLAND (1973)
IN CONCERT (1973)
15 BIG ONES (1976)
LOVE YOU (1977)

DENNIS WILSON - PACIFIC OCEAN BLUE (1977)
BRUCE JOHNSTON - GOING PUBLIC (1977)
BLONDIE CHAPLIN - S/T (1977)
M.I.U. ALBUM (1978)
L.A. (LIGHT ALBUM) (1979)
KEEPIN' THE SUMMER ALIVE (1980)

LIVE AT KNEBWORTH (1980)
CARL WILSON - S/T (1981)
MIKE LOVE - LOOKING BACK WITH LOVE (1981)
CARL WILSON - YOUNGBLOOD (1983)
THE BEACH BOYS (1985)
BRIAN WILSON - S/T (1988)
STILL CRUISIN' (1989)
SUMMER IN PARADISE (1992)
BRIAN WILSON - I JUST WASN'T MADE FOR THESE TIMES (1995)
STARS AND STRIPES (1996)
BRIAN WILSON - IMAGINATION (1998)
BRIAN WILSON - LIVE AT THE ROXY (2000)
BRIAN WILSON - PET SOUNDS LIVE (2002)
AL JARDINE - LIVE IN LAS VEGAS (2002)
posted by Mike 10:40 AM

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Ick!

High pressure Sinus. Raveged throat. Headaches. Eyes watering. Chapped lips and nose.

Sounds like fun eh?

Take that and 1) Get up early to take son to important test (air temp below zero) and 2) Attempt to play Mr. Plumber when you don't know JACK about fixing toilets.

Equals Mr. Sick and Grumpy. Grrr.

Public Kudo's to Ed for coming over in below zero temps to look over our amature attempts to play Mr. Plumber. He got us pushed in the right direction.
posted by Mike 11:44 PM

Friday, January 09, 2004

Send Shrub to the Moon.

You may think this a weird opinion for a Sci Fi head like me.

But I cannot think of a bigger political circus than trying to go to the Moon again, or even Mars with a manned mission.

Foolish waste of money.

Who would have thought 10 yrs ago, when "tax and spend" democrat was a popular slur, that "tax cut and spend Republican" would become even stronger.

Its a strange strange world.
posted by Mike 11:56 PM

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Another Astute Rovian Move?

First of all let me say that any proposal that sends the Conservative (read Xenophobic) Caucus into a tizzy gets my nod of approval any day. Of course I am referring to the President's new initiative on Immigration Reform. Click to read his speech, if you have a high tolerance for platitudes. The meat of the proposal, such as it is, starts 3/4 down the page.

If this proposal comes to pass then it will be a boon for the undocumented workers of America for whom there are few civil rights, no health care, or other benefits that some other Americans do enjoy.

However the cynic in me says that this is a HUGE political move on the part of the President. If he had a Democratic held House or Senate I would certainly think differently, but with the Republicans controlling the Congress, and the Conservative Wing of the Party controlling the Republicans, I see little chance of success as proposed.

So is this a great proposal with little chance of passing? I guess that depends on what is actually proposed.

These points are taken directly from the text of the press release from the White House (linked above) and are either direct quotes or paraphrasing. The order of presentation is his not mine. I use his term "We" as well, this is his phrasing not mine.

Boiled down the proposal is as follows.

1) We have finished consolidating the disparate departments covering Immigration and Border control with lots of new monies and high technology. This is to keep "our borders should be open to legal travel and honest trade; our borders should be shut and barred tight to criminals, to drug traders, to drug traffickers and to criminals, and to terrorists."

2) "New immigration laws should serve the economic needs of our country. If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job. "

3) "We should not give unfair rewards to illegal immigrants in the citizenship process or disadvantage those who came here lawfully, or hope to do so."

4) "New laws should provide incentives for temporary, foreign workers to return permanently to their home countries after their period of work in the United States has expired."

5) We propose a system to match foreign workers with American employers when no American's can be found to fill the job. This system must be efficient and quick.

6) To participate you must be a foreign worker, have a job, or a job offer if not in the US. Program members will get temporary citizenship for three years, which will be renewable, but not indefinitely.

7) Undocumented workers here now will pay a fee to be in the program. Workers not living in the US with a job offer will not have to pay said fee. They will be given a ID card which will allow them to go to and from their home country without fear of harassment.

8) Foreign and temporary workers will be encouraged to go home eventually. To facilitate this the US Government will work with their home Government to get them credit for the years worked in the US to the home country's nationalized pension programs if any. They will also be encouraged to participate in Savings Plans when in the US so they can carry that money back home when they go.

9) Participation in this program will not put a worker on the fast track for Citizenship. There will be no Amnesty for present Undocumented workers. Citizenship tests and requirements will be strengthened.

Whew, its a lot.

One of the problems with the "rap" that liberals have now a days is that they simply slag off any proposal the present Administration makes without examining it. Although I could probably come up with some snipping comments regarding this proposal, it seems to me to be a "good thing". If indeed it is a huge Rovian move to boost the Hispanic Vote in the coming election, then this is certainly not the first time in American History this has happened.

Dissent is not however snipping. By now if you listen to NPR or some of the less balanced news feeds you have heard the pro's and con's argued ad naseum. I will not repeat them here. I simply hope that this is just NOT ONLY a deft political move by the President, but a genuinely "compassionate" attempt to help these undocumented workers.

There has been a whole lot of Conservatism these past three years and not much Compassion. Nice to see a change for a brief moment in time..

posted by Mike 11:12 PM

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Cool Webcast

No heavy blog today. Talked to Brother Greg via the cell tonight as he was arriving for a Web Cast only concert by a jam band called Plum Crazy. He is very good friends with the Bass Player and was doing the still shoot (not the web cast shoot).

Their web site is Plum Crazy Music. The concert was hosted by Immersion Theater. I did notice that there were tons of archives at the site so perhaps this concert will be archived as well. However there is an archive of Widespread Panic, another great Jam Band

Great music in the vein of String Cheese Incident.
posted by Mike 10:27 PM

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Free Speech Zones


Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


Yet it seems in 2003 - 2003 that the Executive and other public institutions like Universities can.

Ok Mantra Time: If you are not completely appalled you are NOT paying attention. Maybe a better one is: I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

This President, never one for free speech (as Gov of Texas he cordoned off the front of the Capital which has been an historic place for people to congregate and express their free speech), has decided, along with that notorious champion of civil rights Atty Gen Ashcroft, that when he visits the country at large, areas will be cordoned off as "free speech zones".

This is fascist speak for "censorship zones", because to exercise your right of free speech in a public area that is not cordoned off as a "free speech zone" is to attract the possilbility of arrest. If you don't believe me do a "google" on the name Brett Bursey. This gentleman was arrested last October for have the unmitigated gall to carry an anti-war sign through a metropolitan airport (public property) in South Carolina.

Didn't we fight the cold war against the "Evil Empire" so that people could have a right to say what they felt without the worry of the loud knock at the door at night? Erosion of Civil Rights is a snowball effect. It starts slow and before you know it the snowball is huge.

This administration is not the only one guilty of this flagrant violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Universities all over the US have also set up these so called "free speech zones". Thank god for the ACLU. They have challenged these zones and won time and time again.

What in the world is this country coming to? Why isn't the country up in arms about this? This is the MOST FUNDAMENTAL right an American has.

America I cry for you tonight.

Ironic Addendum

When I "publish" a blog I have blogger set to e-mail me the piece. Then I forward it to a dear friend who is on AOL.

Well AOL has decided to get into the free speech act and they are blocking any emails that contain links to the domain blogger or blogspot. Big brother is watching you!


posted by Mike 10:07 PM

Monday, January 05, 2004

Back to my Muttering.

(Ok if you haven't figured it out yet, I muse on my life and mutter about the world.)

There has been little muttering here because of the Christmas season, Congress is out of session, the President is off doing who knows what, and basically the world takes a back burner to real life. But with the first full work week of the New Year this boy's attention turns to the world again.

Here is a scary fact. The US dollar has slid nearly 31% against the Euro and the Yen during this present administration's so called recovery.

But heck you say, the stock market is bullish again, breaking 10,000. America's GDP grew at an annual rate of 8.2% in the third quarter. So why is this important, and why are you bothering me while I am still digesting my Christmas Turkey and New Years Champagne.

Because the value of the Dollar against other 1st World Economy currency's is not a strutting machismo indicator like the Dow. It shows the global consensus of the actual strength of the US Economy. This is a critical factor. Because the truth is that this recovery is as hollow as a bronze statue.

The combination of Tax cuts, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the future cost of the Gordian knot of the new Medicare bill will mean that to service the debt, the US Government has to borrow $2 Billion.

EACH BUSINESS DAY.

That is 2,000,000,000 dollars. A day. Boggles the mind doesn't it? No wonder fiscal conservatives are boiling mad at this Administration. Although this has happened before, its been a long time since the US has had an economic recovery while showing a net job loss. In fact this Administration has presided over the biggest net job loss the US economy has ever seen. Boggles the mind doesn't it?

Keep saying this to yourself: If you are not completely appalled you are NOT paying attention. Make it your mantra. Say it to your friends. The facts are out there, it's just apparently not patriotic to say things like this.

And here is something new to chew on. The concept of "Free Speech Zones". Think a bit about that oxymoron and I'll be muttering later on it.

posted by Mike 10:00 PM

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Do I know how to have fun or WHAT?

I have held off blogging since New Years Day for a few reasons. First and foremost to keep the Year in Review at the top so people will see it first. That is just below this blog so just scroll down for that.

Second because I've been busy with a project. Yes boys and girls its that time of the year where we completely erase our Hard Drives and reinstall our OS. I usually do this annually, but I have put it off for 6 mo.

Why do it at all?

1) It speeds up the computer dramatically.
2) It gets rid of tons of programs you don't use or may have forgotten you even have.
3) Eliminates library files and TSR's that sit around Chunking up your RAM or HD.

Why I don't like doing this:

It is remarkably scary. There is always the real possibility that some conflict will arise and you won't be able to put your computer back together. This time around the scare was that the second drive was not recognized. I had to reformat it earlier than I expected. Which leads to reason two.

Loosing Data unintentionally. I'm pretty good at backing up things and I spent Thu and Fri burning like 6 discs of stuff, but the fact is you always forget something or a plan goes awry. This time I lost some music files as I thought that I could move them from D to C before reformatting D. No giant loss, but still a pain.

So that is what I did from 11am yesterday till after midnight. Finish backing up, repartition, reformat, reload OS, Update OS via the web, Repartiion Disc D after finding that the OS did not recognise it. Twice actually, well three times before the OS recognised it.

Reload programs, "un backup" special files like Email archives etc to return the Computer to some semblance of the way it was before hand. Oh and I watched three football games. No surprises. Tennessee and Carolina beat Baltimore and Dallas respectively.

Off to the final Christmas fete of the year, meeting with Liza's cousins and relatives who live out west of us.
posted by Mike 12:10 PM

The musings and meanderings of an overworked and underemployed mind