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Musings and Meanderings

Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Weekend

Saturday

the backstory
Earlier last week I downloaded the GURPS lite rules and innocently laid them in a binder next to where Alex hangs out in the living room. Well it took till Friday to notice them. What's this? Oh just something I printed up for you to look at. Oh.. and he disappears to his room.

Came back out and was stoked. GURPS is the Generic Universal Roleplaying System by Steve Jackson games. It puts all the other RP systems to shame, and is truly what it says. Over 200 "worldbooks" have been published to support this system so you can RP in any environment imaginable.

what I did
So I went looking for my full rule book and worldbooks on Thu night and couldn't find them. Therefore Saturday was dedicated to completely reaming the attic and reorganizing boxes. I pulled out the mirrors that came with the furniture from Denver, and mounted one of them. I threw away five trash bags of stuff. I put all of Alex's old toys in one place so they could to go Equinox house or the Good Will. And I pulled out all the book boxes and cleaned them up and reorganized them. Took most of the day.

Sunday

We had Alex's Blue and Gold Dinner on Sunday. This is where he graduates to become a Boy Scout. And time for me to don my new uniform and become the Assistant Scoutmaster. I went to the BS store (oh "BS" .. he he this will be fun) Anyway I went to the scout store on Friday and got my full uniform, but put off till Sun morning putting the patches on. Well I got most of the patches on myself, but Liza got Sue to do the hem on my official pants. Thanks Sue!

The dinner was at the Marriott and it was pretty good food. The Cubmaster was his usual organized self, but the "moving over" ceremony was pretty cool. The first meeting as a Boy Scout is next Friday and hell they are even going to be camping at the end of March. Nothing like easing into this...

Yea I loved the Oscars. More on that later.
posted by Mike 11:59 PM

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Just don't think they are not net savy

Have you seen the latest thinly disguised attack on Kerry by the right? It's one of those internet pieces that floats around that becomes "urban lore" if not nipped in the bud.

Now I got this piece from UR in France, so I'm not sure how prevalent it is in the US yet. But it is allegedly a piece written by a Vietnam War Vet named "Mike", who throws dirt on Kerry's war record by questioning just about every fact that exists.

Now there is a site that jwrites turned me onto called SNOPES, that investigates these types of things. The version of the e-Mail I got from UR had been passed around quite a bit, so I reformatted it and sent it along to them. The part I sent along is reproduced with my carriage returns, so I think it was from my submission.

Take some time to note the site, and what it says. When you get this dirty trick e-Mail from some poor unsuspecting soul make sure to reply that it is simply a smear job by the Right.

Here is the link: The Snopes Urban and Internet Legend site.

Here is the piece I am referring to: Were John Kerry's Vietnam War service medals earned under "fishy" circumstances?
posted by Mike 8:51 PM

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

A Day at LaSalle

As many of you family members know from phone discussion or reading earlier blogs, we have decided to send our son to a private school next year. After much debate and recommendations from family friends we chose LaSalle Institute.

This is a positive move for our son for the next three years, allowing him to be guided more closely than the public schools can understandably offer. At the end of 8th grade he will (if his grades are acceptable and we think he is disciplined enough) be offered the opportunity to attend the excellent public high school in our 'burgh.

So our son got to spend a day there Tuesday. Gosh he was so pumped and excited. He is even going to use the agenda (this is a date book cum assignment calendar that has become standard in schools today) he got from LaSalle. His attitude is better here at home, and he is paying more attention in school.

I have some concerns that this is a boys only school, but on the other hand they have tons of social events with the local girls school Emma Willard. Now I do pick up and deliver electronic equipment from Emma Willard under the guise of my job, and all I will say (in this politically correct world) is that Alex could do worse than dating a EW girl. Also since we both work late into the day, and cannot be there to watch over him in the "after school" hours, I am quite happy in the knowledge that he will be in a study hall with a bunch of boys, instead of walking the streets with the girls, or worse, experimenting with drugs, cigarettes or alcohol.
posted by Mike 8:12 PM

Monday, February 23, 2004

I saw the Love Bug today, on the road, in 2001

Don't believe me? If you have seen the movie you know that it a perfect paint job...


On I-90 heading towards Mass on the Berkshire Spur.
posted by Mike 10:38 PM

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Sunday Night Concert at the Egg


This pic is from a show in Birchmere VA, not the Egg, but it illustrates a point...

We saw Nanci Griffith at the Egg tonight. Nancy plays "folkabily which is folk/country/bluegrass with her band The Blue Moon Orchestra. Now she only had part of the band so she called it the Half Moon Orchestra... She's a funny lady.

These were the tickets I gave Liza for her birthday back on the 1st. We had center section about half way up at the Egg, and there really is not a bad seat in the house. The usual crowd was there, the aged hippy Pete Seger crowd, including our own mini celebrity (at least in his own head) Alan Chartok. (Alan runs the local PBS radio station, is a professor, does political commentary etc etc etc.)

The concert opened with a band called Olabelle who opened with a soulful set of gospel-influenced rock, highlighted by a take of Blind Willie Johnson's "The Soul of a Man". They were very Jam Bandish, with two female singers, a keyboardist, killer guitarist and drummer. They did a bunch of songs from their newly created and not yet released CD, of which we bought a promo copy in the Foyer. Liza had them sign it and everything.

Nanci came on after the intermission and Liza's first question after the first song was, "what's the button on her guitar strap". Well it turns out Nancy pulled out her old Nixon Agnew buttons because she thought it was probably the only time in history where the button was so appropos. This woman is such a lib! And a crackup.

Since none of my readers have any idea of her catalog I won't waste bandwidth with song titles. Overall it was a very relaxing night of good music. Remember that I love the Dead, and part of that is the love of bluegrass. So it's not a huge stretch for me to go see a singer who has performed at the Grand Old Opry four times. The acoustics at the Egg are pheonomenal as any local knows, so the sound was amazing. Made me wish I did stealth recordings.....

Nanci is a long time veteran of the music business and is of that protest school that has Bob Dylan and Pete Segar. She works with Vietnam Vets and does tons of politically active left leaning performances. She has written or first performed some amazing songs, including being one of the first to record Julie London's Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler mad this famous) Heck she even did an early Rolling Stone song!

Her second encore was Pete Segars "If I had a Hammer" which had everyone singing. The hammer of Justice. Bell of Freedom. Song of love.. Important words in today's world.

So the photo below is not mine, but it clearly shows the Nixon Agnew button. Missing from this picture however was that although she was wearing the same black suit here in Albany, over it, here in Albany, she wore a beautiful Indochinie overcoat-thingy. Very thin, with an amazing tapestry sewn into it. It was quite an outfit.
posted by Mike 11:00 PM

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Stupid is as Stupid does

The stupid man who put Bush in the White House is going to run again for President.

I don't mean Carl Rove.

Looks like Ralph Nader is thinking of running again?

Is he not satisfied that he put Bush in the White House four years ago? Misleading young voters that a vote for him was a vote for his platform?

A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. It is simple maths. The electorate is a zero sum game. No "Green" die hard would ever vote for Bush, if Nader did not run they would go Democrat as that is the party more likely to support their casues.

For some reason Nader thinks that is is a Parlimentary Democracy like in Europe. It doesn't work that way in this country. A vote for Nader simply bleeds off left wing support for the man who will replace Bush in the White House. Its not about "making a change" cause he isn't going to change the system. It isn't about "making a statement" because unless he wins a plurality (an impossibility) he gets no representation in government. No its simply about an egotistical man who thinks he is so important that he can run not once but twice for President.

The election in 2000 proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that EVERY VOTE DOES COUNT.

Lets stop this idiot in his tracks.

E-mail his office with this message.

Support the Democratic candidate and don't bleed liberal votes away from him. Don't run and stay out of politics.

http://www.votenader.org/contact/index.php

If you feel as I do, cut, paste and pass this on to your friends and loved ones who care about not putting George Bush back in the White House.
posted by Mike 11:27 PM

Friday, February 20, 2004

Where are the Voices in the Wilderness?

A strong sounding board for this blog has e-mailed me with this quesion. After reading the Rhetoric vs Reality pieces she simply asks: My question is simple: how come no one cares? Why are we the voices in the wilderness?

Very thought provoking!

There are voices in the wilderness, but they are truly in the wilderness and not heard.

They are buried by the "liberal" media, too afraid to piss off its' corporate sponsors by running quality journalism about this administration.

Rove et al have brilliantly marketed the concept that questioning what this President does is unpatriotic and helps the "terrorists".

Meanwhile Bush keeps throwing ultra right wing conservative judges at the senate. His latest is Bill Pryor, to the Eleventh Circuit federal bench.

The left is in major disarray. For the last 20 years the Right has been quietly taking towns, then counties, then state assemblies and senates with the expressed intent of being in power when the time was right, and that is at the census.

The most recent Gerrymandering had practically assured that unless this style of redistricting is thrown out in court that the Right will be in power in the Congress for the next 10 years.

I hope that the American Public wakes up off their collective asses and puts a Democrat in the White House, just to have SOME form of check and balance against the Legislative and Judicial branches.

This is a Republican Wet Dream.
posted by Mike 11:05 PM

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Rhetoric and Reality Part IV

Fiscal Responsibility

The Rhetoric

“One of the ways we've got to make sure that we keep our economy strong is to be wise about how we spend our money. If you overspend, it creates a fundamental weakness in the foundation of economic growth. And so I'm working with Congress to make sure they hear the message -- the message of fiscal responsibility.” Bush, 9/16/02

The Reality

Less than 6 months after this pronouncement, Bush proposed a budget that would put the government more than $300 billion into deficit. As National Journal noted on 2/12/02, Bush’s own 2004 budget tables show that without Bush’s tax and budgetary proposals, the deficit deficit would decline after 2006, but with Bush’s proposals the deficit would grow indefinitely.



Vocational/Technical Ed


The Rhetoric

“I want to thank the good folks here at Rochester Community and Technical College for your hospitality…The most important issue -- the most important issue for any governor in any state is to make sure every single child in your state receives a quality education.” – Bush, [10/18/02]

The Reality

Bush’s 2004 budget proposes to cut vocational and technical education grants by 24% ($307 million). His budget also proposes to freeze funding for pell grants for low income students.


Veterans

The Rhetoric

“These men and women are still the best of America. They are prepared for every mission we give them, and they are worthy of the standards set for them by America's veterans. Our veterans from every era are the finest of citizens. We owe them the life we know today. They command the respect of the American people, and they have our everlasting gratitude.” – Bush, 11/11/02

The Reality

According to a letter sent to the President by the major veterans groups, Bush’s 2003 budget “falls $1.5 billion short” of adequately funding veterans care. [Independent Budget, 1/7/02].

posted by Mike 6:00 PM

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Rhetoric and Reality Part III

Retirement Security


The Rhetoric

“We've got to do more to protect worker pensions.” – Bush, 8/7/02

The Reality

Just four months after touting pension security, Bush’s Treasury Department announced plans to propose new rules that “would allow employers to resume converting traditional pension plans to new ‘cash balance’ plans that can lower benefits to long-serving workers. Such conversions are highly controversial. Critics contend that they discriminate against older workers in violation of federal law” [Washington Post, 12/10/02]

Labor


The Rhetoric

“Our workers are the most productive, the hardest working, the best craftsmen in the world. And I'm here to thank all those who work hard to make a living here in America.” – Bush, 9/2/02

The Reality

Bush’s 2003 Budget proposed a 9% ($476 million) cut to job training programs and a 2% ($8 million) cut to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Similarly, his 2004 budget proposes a $60 million cut to adult job training programs and a total elimination of the Youth Opportunities Grants, which provide job training to younger workers.


Border Security

The Rhetoric

“A secure and efficient border is key to our economic security.” – Bush, 9/9/02

The Reality

While Bush did hold a photo-op to sign legislation promising more INS/Border Patrol staff and facilities, his budget provided no additional money for this. Additionally, in August, Bush vetoed $6.25M for promised pay upgrades for Border Patrol agents. Additionally, he vetoed all $39 million for the Container Security Initiative. His 2004 Budget slashes total total “Border and Transportation Security” by $284 million.
posted by Mike 8:05 PM
So anyway......

I am blogging along by hitting the random blog button as I like to do every once and a while, just to see what others are saying.

I find one from Los Angeles and one of his/her links is In and Out Burgers. This is the amazingly fantastic burger joint I used to go to in college. Hell we all went to it. Mega pig out on fat and beef. Ah those were the days.

So I checked out the T-shirts. Cool. Maybe I'll get something to remember my bygone days. Then I see "locations".

What the hell I'll check it out, see which one I used to go to.

Well damn if they don't have a picture of it. Same as it used to always look! What a walk down memory lane.


Upland California, on Foothill Blvd just East of the Colleges.

Same leaden sky, same old building. It really brings back a rush of memories. I have VERY fond memories of my years in College, the camaraderie of a large group of people all within 4 yrs of age, all extremely intelligent, all with a bit too much money than they should responsibly have (I went to a "richie rich" school.)

And speaking of Memory Lane and College, I recently got a hold of a remastered copy of the Pink Floyd: The Wall show that I saw at the LA Arena (right off USC campus) Feb 13th 1980. Its amazing that I remember the in between bits so well that Roger said all those years ago.

Well enough reminiscing for one night. Back to beating on GWB tomorrow.

OUT
posted by Mike 5:00 PM
Ok I had one other comment

And this one is really strictly for the men, and those who enjoy cultural commentary.

Last year after the SI Swimsuit issue came out, I read a column where the commentary was basically, at this point what do you do to top what they have done for 39 yrs? His answer was simply to have the models just naked with the swim suits draped on the beach next to them. I couldn't find one example to show you but the pic below is pretty close.

Well go get this year's edition because that is exactly what they have done on a few pics. I mean What Is The Point?

Is SI now just a girlie mag once a year, at least up until now there was some semblance of legitimacy, showing the bikini's being actually modeled. NOW they just lay them in a heap on the sand.

Frankly its very funny. Sad, titillating, but funny.

By the way that's my 2nd fave super model Marissa Miller. All of 24 yrs of age. Damn I'm getting old...

posted by Mike 4:45 PM

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Rhetoric and Reality Part II

Even Start

The Rhetoric

Under the headline “Bush lauds Albuquerque woman for volunteerism” the AP reported on Bush’s visit to New Mexico to tout Lucy Salazar, a volunteer with the Even Start literacy program. “One of the things I try to do when I go into communities is herald soldiers in the armies of compassion, those souls who have heard the call to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself, and have followed through on that call; Lucy Salazar is a retired federal government worker. She teaches reading skills to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children -- incredibly important…And oftentimes, citizens such as her never get the praise they deserve. Lucy, thank you for coming and representing thousands of people like you.” - Bush, 4/29/02


The Reality

According to the Associated Press, Bush proposed “to slash funding 20 percent for the Even Start program, which offers tutoring to preschoolers and literacy and job training for their parents” – the very program he was touting in New Mexico [2/4/02].



Housing

The Rhetoric

"Part of being a secure America is to encourage homeownership." He also went on to talk about his experience meeting the residents saying, "You know, today I went to the -- to some of the home -- met some of the homeowners in this newly built homes and all you've got to do is shake their hand and listen to their stories and watch the pride that they exhibit when they show you the kitchen and the stairs...They showed me their home. They didn't show me somebody else's home, they showed me their home. And they are so proud to own their home and I want to thank them for their hospitality, because it helps the American people really understand what it means." – Bush, 6/17/02


The Reality

According to AP, “President Bush's proposed 2004 budget for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced Monday, phases out HOPE VI” the program Bush visited and touted in Atlanta. “Renee Glover, executive director of the Atlanta Housing Authority said. ‘We didn't anticipate that HOPE VI would be eliminated.’” [AP, 2/5/2003]


Port Security

The Rhetoric

“We're working hard to make sure your job is easier, that the port is safer. The Customs Service is working with overseas ports and shippers to improve its knowledge of container shipments, assessing risk so that we have a better feel of who we ought to look at, what we ought to worry about.” – Bush, 6/24/02

The Reality

The President’s 2003 and 2004 budget provides zero for port security grants. The GOP Congress has provided only $250 million for port security grants (35% less than authorized). Additionally, in August, the President vetoed all $39 million for the Container Security Initiative which he specifically touted.

posted by Mike 9:19 PM

Monday, February 16, 2004

Rhetoric and Reality, Part I

(Thanks to Vacuum Kitty for this information)

Children’s Hospitals

The Rhetoric

“This is a hospital, but it's also - it's a place full of love. And I was most touched by meeting the parents and the kids and the nurses and the docs, all of whom are working hard to save lives. I want to thank the moms who are here. Thank you very much for you hospitality…There's a lot of talk about budgets right now, and I'm here to talk about the budget. My job as the President is to submit a budget to the Congress and to set priorities, and one of the priorities that we've talked about is making sure the health care systems are funded.” – Egleston Children's Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia 3/1/01

The Reality

Bush’s first budget proposed cutting grants to children’s hospitals like the one he visited by 15% ($34 million). His 2004 budget additionally proposes to cut 30% ($86 million) out of grants to children’s hospitals.

"First Responders" - firefighters, police etc..

First Responders

The Rhetoric

“We're dealing with first-time responders to make sure they've got what's needed to be able to respond. “ – Bush, 3/27/2002

The Reality

Bush had been saying that he was proposing $3.5 billion in “new” money for first responders. However, his budget tried to cut more than $1 billion out of existing grants to local police/fire departments to fund this. Then, in August of 2002, Bush rejected $150 million for grants to state and local first responders. Bush’s decision prompted the President of the Firefighters Union to say, “President Bush, don't lionize our fallen brothers in one breath, and then stab us in the back by eliminating funding for our members to fight terrorism and stay safe.” The President of the Virginia firefighters association said, “The president has merely been using firefighters and their families for one big photo opportunity.”


Ethanol

The Rhetoric

“I said when I was running for President, I supported ethanol, and I meant it. (Applause.) I support it now, because not only do I know it's important for the ag sector of our economy, it's an important part of making sure we become less reliant on foreign sources of energy.” – Bush at South Dakota Ethanol Plant 4/24/02

The Reality

According to the AP, Bush’s 2004 budget proposes to eliminate funding for the bioenergy program that funds the Dakota Ethanol Plant he visited.




posted by Mike 9:25 PM

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Bit of a burning Day

Nay, not a hot day ye silly bugger. Usin' that thar burner in this here computer don't ya know.

First off was actually yesterday: I burned a three disc set of old Edison cylinder transcriptions that I got from a friend for Uncle Ed. I didn't actually say who they were from so it will be interesting to see if he susses it out WITHOUT HIS WIFE'S HELP.

Then I spent this am trying to figure out which of the six remastered LA Forum Pink Floyd: The Wall live recordings was the best. A friend from the UK is remastering every Wall show he can get his hands on. Turns out the best quality is the show I went to, the last day of the LA leg of the tour in 1980.

Then some odds and ends: The SEVA Foundation Benefit that the Dead did in December of this year. Two Lizard (Polish Prog) shows. The XM Radio show that Rick Wakeman did (which is side splitting funny as well as having great music). A Pendragon show. Probably some others I can't think of.

THEN the big event. Volume Four of the "Tangerine Tree". This is the seminal remastered collection of Tangerine Dream shows from the early 70's to the present. With the fourth "tree" being released we are up to 37 amazing shows over the four "trees". I have been painstakingly making sure I have each "tree" when they come out, but this time the people sponsoring the Remasters (in unofficial collaboration with band) put it up on a server so people could just download them.

So another day wasted doing burns? Nah. I'm reading all sorts of things while this happens. Finished last week's Economist. Did a bit of the Lost Tales Vol 1. And read some of a local history book on Chincoteague.

Alex gets to do the YMCA this week, and the adults have to work.

Can I turn in my keys and my mortgage payment and be a kid on Winter Break again? No? I didn't think so.
posted by Mike 11:05 PM

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Valentines Day

Most people don't know that Feb 14 has extra special meaning for L and I.

It was basically our first date. So when one of Alex's friend's Mom called and asked if he could spend Saturday night over, well DUH!

So this old married couple celebrated that fateful date 17 yrs ago by spending some private time in the afternoon and then going out to our favorite Mexican Restaurant - Garcia's. We even have a favorite waiter named Sergei. He is from Belorussa and is the most attentive wait person we have had in ages. Liza gave hime a big kiss on the cheek for Valentines Day, which completely blew him away lol.

As we were sitting at the bar waiting for our Table the bartender blithely asks me how my company is doing by name. I just looked at him, and then down at myself wondering if I had some sign on saying who I worked for. But no, turns out the bartender was one of my co-worker's roomates! Small world.

Anyway it was a wonderful evening and I must say, 17 yrs just seems like yesterday.
posted by Mike 11:12 PM

Thursday, February 12, 2004

What I got

2001 Honda Civic EX Sedan



Obviously this is not MY car... there is no snow in the background.. and honestly I do take much better pictures....but its the same year model and color and it will suffice till I get the Digital Camera out this weekend....

The all new, 2001 Honda Civic EX Sedan, 1.7L I4 OHC 16-valve engine (127 HP); FWD; automatic transmission; front independent suspension with stabilizer bar, rear independent suspension with stabilizer bar; power steering; front disc/rear drum brakes with 4-wheel ABS; front seatbelt pretensioners; 15" x 5.5" steel wheels, P185/65HR15 tires; air conditioning, pollen filter; 6-speaker, AM/FM, CD Player, and element antenna; cruise control; engine immobilizer; remote power door locks; power windows, 1 one-touch operation; power front glass sunroof; Instrumentation and warnings include tachometer, clock, low fuel; fixed intermittent wipers, rear window defroster; premium/velour upholstery, height-adjustable driver seat; 60/40 folding rear seat; passenger side vanity mirror; tilt adjust steering wheel; power body color mirrors; front door pockets; remote trunk release, and remote fuel door release. It also has a 38 MPG highway, 32 MPG city rating, and a 13.6 gallon gas tank. With regular commuter driving, it can easily get 450 miles to a fairly inexpensive tank of gas.

posted by Mike 10:27 PM

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Holy Moly - I got noticed.

I posted my piece below on the Grammy's on the Slate discussion board under Television.

I got picked as a Slate editor Fave post.

Neat.

My Slate Posting

Have a great day

OUT
posted by Mike 10:17 AM

Monday, February 09, 2004

Musically Enriched.

I have to give a big hand to the Grammies this year, and the musicians in general. I felt enriched after watching the Grammies this year by not only the integration of many disparate musical forms that performed live, but also by the kudo's that the industry offered their own. Seeing, for instance, the Foo Fighters play with Chick Corea, or Sean Patrick perform with Sting, and the entire Funk portion of the show, filled me with hope that the music industry has a future.

See I think the Same Old Pop that the industry puts out is really mindless garbage. Yes there will always be Christina Aguillara almost falling out of her outfit. But seeing, for example a band called Black Eyed Peas for the first time, and listening to their very uplifting rap lyrics filled me with hope for all genres. See I don't have a problem with this cross genre molding. Whatever your personal opinion of say Kid Rock, he is pioneer in bring Country, Rap and Heavy Metal together.

Please don't think I'm getting soft. I still find the difficult and challenging music much more interesting than the easy to listen to. But there is a place for these Grammy headliners as well as a place for bands like Magma or other RIO (Rock in Opposition) bands in the hearts of all music listeners, and hopefully in their pocket books.

Finally watching the much-pilloried Yoko Ono Lennon almost cry onstage when quoting John's lyrics almost brought tears to my eyes as well. This year the awards were almost a secondary attraction to the musical acts and the tributes to some of the musicians who have left our lives this year, such as Warren Zevon and the Cash couple.

Alas the awards were closed out by an important but ultimately futile new ad campaign to stop digital downloading. My personal opinion is that the quality of the music being offered to the public, and the competition for the 18 - 35's dollar from DVD and Game Systems far outweighs any loss of income that the industry gets from piracy. However I don't condone it either. But studies have shown, that these sorts of ad campaigns just don't work. The people that they are supposed to affect just laugh at them, and those who are already in agreement just nod sagely.
posted by Mike 8:44 AM

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Mega Update Blog..

Personal first, politics second.

Personal odds and ends.

The Car

I got a good offer today (yea Sunday go figure) from Progressive Insurance Co today on the Nissan. They are indeed totaling the vehicle, and they offered right around what I could have sold the vehicle for on the open market, this is more than the dealer trade - in and less than what a dealer would sell it for. The big decision is whether to give them the car, or to go pick up the car. If I give them the car then I get the rental till Friday, and they get to keep 150 of the write off. If I go get my car back (it is drivable) then I get the whole amount. So is the trade in worth more than 150 in it's wrecked state? Can my car guy find me a vehicle I want by next Friday? These are the questions I have to research on Monday.



Kathy

Is home in NH and resting fine. The ankle surgery went longer than expected and she is laid up for quite a while. I keep missing her; she is usually asleep when I call. But Dad said they rented one of those hospital type beds and she is downstairs. Alex and I didn't go out this weekend due to the weather. It didn't stop sleeting and freezing rain till Saturday afternoon and by then it was too late to get a move on. Due to the accident they may be there longer than they expected so we may go out in a few weekends.



Liza's trip to the Office


..... took a plane ride to Cincinnati lol. Her company's headquarters is in OH and they held their kick off the year meeting there this year. This was her first visit to the Home Office because usually they do the Road Map meetings regionally. After such a tough year for the company they wanted to start the New Year right.

Liza received the top award for her district, which isn't a trip to Cancun mind you :-) but it was a great recognition as to her achievements in a lousy economic environment. Its called the Leadership Award and is one of those translucent Lucite jobbies that has the letters etched into them. VERY classy company as usual. She had a great time and now two of the home offices Gnomes have the hots for her as well. Poor girl always seems to have these silly older men getting obsessed with her. Now what any late 30's ego needs is some young hottie to obsess on her. lol. No I don't get jealous over these things.



How I spent my Single Dad weekend.

Movies: Alex and I rented three movies this weekend. Pirates of the Caribbean; Charlies Angels II; and Underworld.

Pirates was really great, and Jonny Depp rocked in this one. The female lead was bugging me all movie, as I couldn’t place her, but knew her voice and eyebrows. The IMDB told me the answer: she was the co-star in Bend it Like Beckham. Anyway the movie was very fun and a great ghost story. There were many "scenes" from the ride too so that was fun as well. Overall I would give it a 4 out of 5 for entertainment value alone.

Charlies Angels: Full Throttle however gets one star. Its really quite bad. The support cast is atrocious. The "special Effects" are so bad as to make you wonder if that was the intent. Maybe it was. My problem is that I really like Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. So we rented it. Demi Moore plays the baddie and at the very beginning of the move Bruce Willis has a cameo and gets killed by an unknown assailant, we can only assume later that it was Demi's character. Very funny 'in joke'. There were quite a few nods to the series and 70's era inside jokes so it was not a complete waste of time.

Underworld was very interesting. It's about a hypothetical war between the Vampire Race and the Lycan Race. There is some very hoopy Matrix type fight scenes, and lots of tight leather. I love Vampire stories so I was set for a good run here and it was worth the wait (I was going to see it in the theatre). What I love is a good back-story and this movie had a great one. For those who are seeing it I won't spoil it, but it was well conceived as a plot and back-story. The whole movie is shot at night needless to say, in some unknown metropolis (US or UK). A good rent if you don't mind a bit of blood and gore.

Cleaning up my act Spent the rest of the weekend when not watching movies doing a major ream job on my office. It really needed it, so bad it was getting hard to move around in it. I ended up with two black trash bags full of flotsam and jetsam that had been floating around in boxes and piles of junk in the office for at least a year. Amazing what you can find if you actually go through everything though. This took the better part of Friday evening and Saturday am and afternoon.



(told you this would be long)



Political Odds and Ends

Ladies and Gentlemen the President of the United States

Taped from the Oval Office, as many have/will see, the President did a full hour interview with Tim Russert on Face the Nation. I was amused watching Tim bite his toungue when going after answers, where if it weren’t the President, he would have done his usual terrier impression to get the answers. Overall it was a good interview though I am openly concerned that the White House vetted the questions before the show.

Don't fall over, but I thought that President Bush did a fine job in the interview. Here is what I came away with; The President truly believes and has unbelievable faith that everything he is doing is good for the world and the country. He is not part of some Right Wing Conspiracy as some of my left wing patriotic friends intimate.

As far as I am concerned this makes him even more dangerous than if he was just taking us all for a ride. He truly believes that his whole Voodoo Economics stimulus package is good for the country in the long run. He truly believes that he should have gone into Iraq WHEN he did, even in the face of the evidence that there was no immediate threat. He actually believes that the Intelligence Panel should take longer than till next November and its' not a political move. Finally he truly believes that he is the best man in the White House for the times.

Now if I was impressed with President Bush's belief that what he is doing is right, though I disagree, what chance does any opponent have against this in November?



Ask the right questions

In my arguments with the Albany Times Union Forums alluded to earlier this week, one of the points I made was that what the Democrats need to do is clearly differentiate between the Ends and the Means in foreign affairs, and the Short Term and the Long term in domestic affairs.

Ends and Means. Obviously I'm talking about the Iraq situation. Of course Mr. Dean the world is a better place with Saddam Hussein gone (he is still disagreeing with that). What was so wrong was the unilateral attack, the preemptive attack, when there was no overwhelming proof of WMD's. What was so wrong with this war is the after math. Rumsfeld's insistence that there was no way to know what would happen after the war, stated time and time again, was disingenuous. A recent Atlantic Monthly article by James Fallows clearly shows that there were tons of Government and NGO created documents that predicted the costs and exactly what would happen when Hussein fell.

The Dems need to concentrate on how this Admin could have done it better, and less on whether it was good to do at all. Mainstream American is never going to buy that taking out Saddam was bad. That's because it wasn't. He was a madman and a menace. Its just the means to that end that need to be examined.

Short and Long Term. I loved Thomas Friedman's article on the BMD's. Bush's "Budget of Mass Deception". I could not have put it better, so I won't. He said basically that with all the fiscal stimuli that Bush has jammed into the economy there HAD BETTER be a recovery. The Tax Cut and Spend Republican’s Fiscal actions will pump up the economy. But he said the Democrat's mantra should not be "are you better off than you were four years ago" but "Is your FUTURE better off than it was four years ago". The Jobless Recovery is due in part to this stimulus. What jobs there are low paying service sector jobs, and the stimulus goes to the rich and powerful. Economists have proven that "trickle down" does not work.



Democrat's Fuax Pas.

I cant leave without two comments from the primaries. The first is that Edwards stated AGAIN he doesn't want to be VP. Not too smart, and not what is best for his party. He needs to tone down the "never" rhetoric and get on with it. Two Gov Dean is still insisting the world is NOT better off with Saddam behind bars. Dr. Dean you make the Dems look like wholly radicals who are out of touch with the world. Please get your act together.

I was very impressed however with Dr. Dean's firm commitment to getting ABB (anyone but bush) elected. Senator Edwards needs to take a page from that book.



Wow. My fingers are tired.

OUT
posted by Mike 2:58 PM

Thursday, February 05, 2004

It's not like I have not been writing.....

It's just not been here. See there are only so many minuites of the day that I can sit and write, and I've been sucked into a couple of "message boards", Slate and of all things my local Times Union. (Albany's Newspaper)

So if you want to see the latest melting of Mikey's mind go to The Forum at the Albany Times Union. I am the Mike Montfort guy if you can't figure it out...

It all starts with someone posting a piece that has been flying about the web, a Bush Resume if you will. It's not very nice to be blunt, and it is mostly bluntly true. Needless to say the Conservatives on the board were upset. If you continue to page forward by hitting the "more" button at the bottom of each page you can follow the conversation.

This was my first and last dipping into the "message board" waters. My dear friend CJWrites has warned me what a huge time "black hole" these can be. I see now what he means. Though they are a bit more fun than blogging because you get into some interesting conversations. Blogging is a bit one sided, and the message board below and to the left sometimes makes me feel like no one is reading this. (I know some are so don't worry and thanks, its very nice that you do check in from time to time.).

Anyway over on Slate it's been a bit less fractous, I posted my peice from Tuesday regarding the Janet Jackson sillyness, and got some very nice responces from that. I had previously posted a review of the new SHOWTIME show called "The L Word" (not a very nice review I will admit, its a pretty bad show) amidst the usual gay and lesbian bashing the nazi right performs every time the subject comes up peripherally.

So I will continue to post from time to time, but not get sucked into mega intellectual battles.. Why?

Simply because it has been proven via some very significant studies that these sorts of boards convince no one of the others' opinions. They actually REINFORCE the opinions that someone holds to be self evident.

This was a little study I read about somewhere in my recent reading. Apparently Libs gravitate to the Lib boards, Con's to the Con boards, etc etc. Its all horribly self reinforcing. The main tennant of that article was that the internet is actually making people drift farther apart, not bring them together, via this mechanism of selective association.
posted by Mike 9:36 PM

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Ok some backdated quicky updates from the family side of things

Mother Kathy has broken her ankle severly by slipping on black ice in NH this week, well today in fact. Surgery will follow.

Mother Kay had a wonderful visit with Our Fine Selves for L's birthday. She took us to the Albany Pump House on Saturday night and I took us to Fresno's for Sunday Brunch.

Remember this is BACKDATED. As of Thursday at the close of the day I had still not heard from Progressive Insurance regarding my vehicle. I had dropped it off Monday afternoon to have it fixed and they got me a rental (more on that later). Got a call Mon afternoon saying that they were going to total out the vehicle. Said I'd get a call Tues. No call yet.

I am driving a 2003 Ford SUV called an Escape. This is the LAST thing I would want to Escape in. I think it gets 17 MPG city and 24 HWY. My god, Father Larry's 1964 1/2 Mustang 286 got 15 MPG city. More powerful lobbyists here.

Wife Liza goes to Cincinnati Friday am at the proverbial crack of dawn. She returns on Sunday. It is the Big Hoopla for the new year for her company. Called the Road Map Meeting.

In the meantime Son Alex and I are supposed to drive to NH to see Father Samir and Mother Kathy. We shall see. We have a storm coming in this weekend and I'm driving a rental.....

I have been spending a ton of time on the road pitching the New and Used Car Dealers on our services. This has been fun. Even in the SUV the last week.

I found out that my good friends left over at the end of the "old company" have been resurrected in a company started by the ex-owner's wife and son, so they can all earn income while a "unnamed bank" here in the north east continues to screw with my old boss. I wish them all the best!

posted by Mike 9:58 PM

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

MUCH ado about nothing

Leave it to the braying press. That "liberal" media. They are haveing a field day with Janet Jackson's boob job. No bunch of liberals would care by the way, it's just another indication that one of the great American Myths is the "Liberal" Press.

Was it an costume malfunction? An accident? Genuinely preplanned?

Who gives a _________!

So let me get this straight. It's ok to show multiple killings, psychopathic madmen, rapists, violent war scenes and gang killings on Television but the human breast is off limits?

Oh gosh honey the children saw a boob.

Don't be a boob people. A little less interest in how to wipe each other off the planet and a tad more interest celebrating the human body and the world would be a better place.

As for Kid Rock wearing the American Flag, what do you expect from a self promoting white boy trying to be a rapper?

he he

OUT
posted by Mike 8:32 AM

The musings and meanderings of an overworked and underemployed mind