Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Politics of Astronomy

This may be a little late and others have talked about it, but why is it that Pluto was demoted? Oh, I know the company line. It is different than the (other) eight planets so the International Astronomical Union wanted to call it something different. I still do not see the point.

The astronomers redefined the definitionn of planet. Because Pluto's orbit takes it through part of an asteroid belt, it can't be a planet. Now a planet's orbit must be clear from all other things. Why that is important in calling something a planet, I don't know.

Pluto is now a dwarf planet. Is a dwarf planet not a planet? I still don't get it. The Toyota Prius is a hybrid car but it is still, indeed, a car is it not?

I would have loved to hear the debate on this topic at the meeting. On one hand you have the conservative planet snobs who want the "planet club" to be as exclusive as possible. I mean, c'mon, we can't let just any space rock in. The whole idea of status is making sure we are better than someone else. If we let Pluto in, then it will drag down the whole neighborhood, right?

On the other side, there are the liberal, free-love group who doesn't want any heavenly body excluded. To this bunch, the moon should be a planet and even the fringe is lobbying to let Australia have planetary status. This stuff is pure lunacy (pun intended).

Pluto is a dwarf planet because all that is necessary to be a dwarf planet, according to the group, is that the space body must be round. According to the New York Times, Pluto joins Ceres and Xena as the system's dwarf planets. But wait, if all it has to be is round to be considered a dwarf planet, wouldn't that include all the moons? They are round, aren't they? That means our moon should be considered a dwarf planet. Is that a step up? Is it a revolution of sorts because the Moon doesn't have to be Earth's moon, it can now consider itself the dwarf planet Luna?

I guess one rock's loss is another one's gain.







Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Yesterday morning, as I was doing my weight lifting routine in my fiancee's garage, I heard what sounded like the pop of a pistol. I didn't pay it much attention because I knew no projectiles were coming my way. A little later, I noticed a neighbor out and lamenting over a huge tree branch that had fallen and barricaded her car in her garage. Ah, the mystery of the "pop" revealed.

I walked over and asked if she needed help. This young lady lives there with her toddler daughter and a dog - not the best crew for removing heavy tree parts. As we examined the tree, it was apparent that it wasn't going to be a quick job. There were many branches linked to this large limb still tenuously attached to the tree and there was some concern that the branch could come crashing down on the garage.
She told me that her brother was coming to take her to work so it wasn't imperative that the branch be removed till later. I told her I would take another look at it at lunch.

Lunch time came and grabbed my trusty chainsaw and began to work. Being the spiritual guy that I am, I whispered a little prayer in hopes that some divine influence would stop any calamity - particularly the trashing of my neighbor's garage. Calculating which branches to cut in the proper order to insure the garage comes out of it unscathed, I looked like a pro - till IT happened.
With one final cut of a limb, the huge branch came crashing down into the driveway, missing the garage by about a foot. However, the physical law, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" came about in a furious event. As the giant piece of wood crashed to the ground, the opposite end which I just happened to be straddling came up with an anger right into my nether region, virtually lifting me up off the ground.

Immediately, the impact of the branch which was about the same size as the business end of a large baseball bat, gave me a huge headache. If you are at all familiar with male anatomy and injuries to this area, you will know that often injuries here have a delayed reaction. There I was, with a huge headache, wondering if there was a bloody mess where important things used to be and waiting for the impending, excruciating pain to surface. That wait is torture in of itself.
I slowly walked and coached myself saying, "Okay, Jeff, you're fine. There is no pain it is going to be okay." About five minutes later, I realized something. I WAS, indeed fine. No pain surfaced.

Don't be confused; there should have been pain. It was a direct hit. I have played sports all my life. I have had my fair share of these type of injuries before. The branch was not small enough for my parts to dodge it, and not big enough for my legs to prevent impact. In fact, I felt the impact, there was just no pain - there still isn't.

I can only chalk this up to God. What else is there? God knows I am getting married and I will need these items that were under attack. Children are important and I have none. I didn't specifically ask Him to protect me from physical harm, but He knew what I needed. I still have those items that I need. Miracles do happen, but I won't be SHOWING anyone this miracle. I am not real comfortable even talking about it. ;)





Friday, August 25, 2006

For the Short Term


We now rent just about anything. We rent houses and cars. We rent tractors. We rent (to own) computers, TV's and furniture. We rent tillers and banquet halls. We rent like crazy these days. Why not rent a casket?

Think about it. We buy a fancy box for THOUSANDS of dollars so we can look nice on display. Then, this fancy crate is buried forever - theoretically never again to be seen. Why do we need to BUY it; we should rent it.

Here's how it works. We go the funeral home and pre-plan our send-off. We pick out a nice fancy casket that will aid us to set up a pretty glorious display. We take our rented box and lay there in all our splendor.

Then, when the last mourner is gone, the flowers have been divvied up, and all the cold cuts are stocking the family's fridge, they can dump us into a pine box or even a cardboard one and plant us under the old oak in the corner of the cemetary. The funeral home can then run the rental through the wash or whatever they do to get it ready for the next customer. Makes sense to me. It is kind of like renting a tux for your wedding. Sure it is an important occasion, but there isn't much point in keeping a tux you may never wear again, right?

Now, I know the burial ceremony may complicate things a bit, but I think it can be worked around. With the price of gas these days, it might make more sense to say goodbye at the mortuary anyway.




Monday, August 21, 2006

Holiday from Smiles

I am a little banged up today. In fact, I feel like I have just been beaten by someone using a pillowcase full of batteries. It is a result of a) lack of sleep; and be b) spending the day at an amusement park yesterday.

My fiancee and I had the opportunity to spend the day at Holiday World and Splashin' Safari yesterday. It is an outstanding place. It was, according to the place's commercials, was voted the cleanest and most friendly amusement park in the world. I believe that it is true. The place is spotless and every employee greets you and smiles. It wasn't the creepy kind of greeting, either; it seemed genuine like everyone wanted the guests to have a great time. We did.

Here are a couple of things that made the place unique and worthy of a visit. It had something for everyone. The rides ranged from an abundance of kiddie rides, to three of the best wooden roller coasters in the world. The park also had music and diving shows. The food was great and the prices at the stores and concessions were quite reasonable. Not only that, but there are "oasis stations" that offer free, unlimited softdrinks (including tea and Gatorade) all over the park. You would be surprised how many times we stopped at one of these throughout the day.

Spashin' Safari is a water park within Holiday World. It is bigger than we expected and offered a huge number of water rides. The park also offers free sunblock.

We had a great time - better than we anticipated. It was well worth the price of admission which for us was free. Why was it free? A neighbor of mine stopped me and asked me if I could use them. She also provided us with meal tickets to a picnic buffet at the park. It was a real treat. She asked me if I wanted the tickets (opposed to someone else) because I am the only one in the neighborhood that is friendly to her.

This is a study of human behavior. My neighbor is one of the few people in my area that is not Caucasian. Every time I see her out, I wave and she waves back with such enthusiasm that it looks like she is hailing a cab. I am the only neighbor that waves and speaks to her and her family. Not that the other neighbors are unfriendly, they just ignore her (and most everyone else for that matter). I wouldn't ever talk to the neighbors, either, if it were up to them. I force a "hi" or "goodmorning" on them just to let them know that people still speak to each other - or should.

My fiancee wrote a paper in one of her classes last year about how personality effects a person's good fortune. Her thesis was that friendly and outgoing people are "luckier" than the withdrawn because they put themselves in a situation to benefit from their social behavior. She was quite satisfied with herself when she reminded me of that paper as we headed down the road with our towels and complimentary tickets.


Friday, August 18, 2006

The Business of Rights

In continuing the Henderson, KY smoking ban controversy, I think the solution is clear. If you missed it, you should read, “Do You Mind if I Smoke” from yesterday.

I am clearly in favor of the smoking ban. To be fair, and in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I am a non-smoker and I absolutely abhor having smoke forced on me in public places. Not being able to enjoy a game at sports bar without wearing other people’s lung waste is very grating. It is right up there with washing my clothes at a laundromat and having to dash out to the car with clothes unfolded just to insure they are still clean when I get home (and forcing me to iron when it shouldn’t be necessary). Maybe these things prevent me from being totally objective, but I have made the effort to be so.

Despite the argument that it is not government’s place to regulate such things, I think precedence defeats that position. Government regulates all the time regarding public safety and nuisances. There are laws forcing drivers to wear seatbelts and motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Property owners must keep their lawns cut at a reasonable height, and one cannot have cars old cars parked in their yards. Protecting the health of non-smokers - especially children and employees (who are both compelled by their position to be present) is not out of line. It is the responsible thing for government to do to protect the citizenry.

The government also is responsible for picking up the tab on medical expenses for a large part of the population. Medicare and Medicaid programs are necessary for some to get the healthcare that they need (and it is still greatly lacking, but that is another topic). The point is that if the government is going to pay for the consequences of smoking (cancer, emphysema treatments, final expenses, etc .), it follows that government certainly deserves some say on the manner these harmful behaviors can take place.

In addition, claiming that smoking in public is a liberty that people have in a free society is bunk. It does not outweigh others being able to have the right to breathe clean air in those same public places. As it has been said many times, your freedom to swing your arms stops at the tip my nose. I think this also applies to blowing smoke. Does one have a right to smoke? Absolutely. Do they have the right to expose others to it? Absolutely not.

As far as business owners losing business, I just don’t see it. I think business owners may face a challenge to attract and retain business, but to think eating and drinking establishments will become a thing of the past is ridiculous. Elsewhere, business have reported MORE business after this kind of legislation was passed. After all, there are more nonsmokers, than smokers. I don’t think anyone will say, “I can’t go to Joe’s Grill and smoke anymore, so I think I will load up on groceries and go to the trouble of cooking every meal and cleaning it up and not eat out anymore.”
I also doubt people will stop drinking alcohol or decide to stay home and drink alone all the time. We call those who drink alone every night alcoholics. Maybe people will learn something about themselves or their family members that they need to know.

A good businessperson will take an apparent setback and turn it into a positive. For instance, the local club owner that has decided to sell his business could take a different approach rather than just quitting. He could appeal to those in the bigger city across the river to come over and enjoy a smoke-free club, because they certainly aren’t going to find one in Evansville.

Times change and people must adapt with them. Just as livery stables are not practical anymore, car dealerships are. Refrigerators replaced iceboxes but no one is shedding a tear for the ice deliveryman. We learn, we progress, and we rise to challenges. That is the American way. It is also the American way to learn from our mistakes and do our best to stop destructive behavior. Fortunately, these things fit together very well.







Thursday, August 17, 2006

Do You Mind if I Smoke?

The city of Henderson, KY is in the process of passing and ordinance that bans smoking. It seems that there is a wave this thing going on - at least in this area. Henderson follows Owensboro, Lexington, and Frankfort of cities in Kentucky that are moving in this area. Henderson, however, may have the strictest legislation of them all because in its present form, the legislation would ban all smoking in public - even in bars.

Henderson is a city that can't stay away from controversy. It seems that every year there is SOMETHING that gets the citizens' bowels in an uproar. Last year, the issue was a payroll tax. Previously, there was a gay rights ordinance (that was quickly overturned the following year when the citizenry ousted the representatives that voted for it). This year's controversy is the smoking ban.

The basic dilemma is does the desire to protect the public from the nuisance and danger of second-hand smoke outweigh the freedom of business owners to decide their own policies regarding smoking. There are key points on both sides.

On the pro-ban side:

Government regulates all the time regarding public safety and nuisances. There are laws forcing drivers to wear seatbelts and motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Property owners must keep their lawns cut at a reasonable height, and one cannot have cars old cars parked in their yards. Protecting the health of non-smokers - especially children and employees (who are both compelled by their position to be present) is not out of line. It is the responsible thing for government to do to protect the citizenry.

On the anti-ban side:

Business owners in a free country have the right to decide the policies that occur in their businesses. Many people come to these establishments to relax, smoke and drink. Smoking is a basic element of this lifestyle and customers will go elsewhere if they aren't allowed to smoke. This will drive businesses to close (one in Henderson has already put his club up for sale). Nonsmokers know what to expect when going to these type of establishments. They can choose to go elsewhere if they do not want to be in that atmosphere. In a free, capitalistic society, we should let the market decide.

Those are the basic arguments. If anyone has an opinion on this, I would like to hear it. Just like in the "Little League Ethics" post, I will give my opinion next time.






Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Road Woes and the King

I have a couple of things on my mind today:

Driving

Today was the first day of school 'round these parts. The mentality of the drivers has changed because of it. One would expect that they would be more careful - perhaps even more thoughtful with childeren about and such. Nope. The opposite is the case.

People are bustling around trying to get their kids to school and themselves to work. At one intersection, a lady tried to "cheat" the light by creeping up while it was still red to try to prevent me from turning when the light turned green. I didn't let her disuade me however; I turned in front of her anyway (there was still plenty of space). Why did I have the mindset to "challenge" this person? Because I was already victim of "The Exception".

The "Exception" is the lady that I let in front of me on the way to stated light who, for my courtesy, decided to proceed to the intersection at 18 mph - while the light was green! This is no ordinary intersection. If you miss this light, you might as well bring the newspaper because you are going to have time to at least read the obituaries - and hope you will someday see the slow woman on the page. Yep, missed the light. That is when the "cheater" entered the picture.

After making the turn, it isn't long before I come up on the "passing lane lolligagger". This was a guy in big pick-up truck who thinks that the rule is pick a lane and cruise (they always pick the wrong lane). I wanted pull him over and explain to him that staying in one lane is only the beginning of highway decorum. But, I didn't. I waited till I could get around him and went on my way.

I hate what driving makes me. I want to be patient, kind, etc. It is almost impossible to do that on the road. I don't know what it is about driving, but it brings out the worst in people. I certainly hate what it does to me.

Elvis

Twenty-nine years ago today Elvis passed away in Memphis. Elvis was always a big part of my life growing up. My mother and oldest sister are huge fans. I know the words of probably 85% of all songs he recorded. I have seen every movie he made and never minded that he played pretty much the same character in about 27 of the 33 he made. I liked THAT character. Besides, he came along in the final days of the "Golden Age of Hollywood" where most of the stars played pretty much the same character anyway. It worked.

For years, I was always in denial about the negatives about Elvis (at some level, anyway). I didn't like to admit he had a weight problem (he was swollen as the apologists put it) and of course the drug abuse (prescription - as though that makes it better). As I got older, I accepted that Elvis was just like the rest of us - flawed and struggling with life. As successful as he was by the world's standards, in many ways his flaws were magnified and ultimately caused his demise.

The King is dead. Long live the King!



Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Can I Get Milk With That?

I don't know if I am the only one, but I am having trouble with mannequins in stores. Let me clarify; I am having trouble with the philosophy of the stores that display mannequins with protruding nipples - particularly in the junior department.
Do we really want our 13-16 year-old daughters going for that look? Times sure have changed, I guess.

Back in the '70's, the biggest thing on the minds of teens were the breasts they saw on Charlie's Angels - particularly Farrah Fawcett's. The reason was that she periodically would wear shirts that were more revealing than anything else one could see on television. She trumped this with "THE POSTER". It is probably the most famous poster of a pin-up girl in history. There she was Farrah with the hair, the legs, the teeth, the legs, the tiny swimsuit and those nipples. It was even part of the set decoration of Tony Manero's (John Travolta) bedroom. Such a scandal!

Fastforward to today. JC Penney (and I am sure other retailers) commonly has these mannequin's on display with small t-shirts marketed to teens. I am surprised the t-shirts are not sharing a rack (no pun intended) with half-bras.

That is enough for this rant. I have to go buy a gift for the daugher of my friend. She is 14 today. Maybe I can get a deal on some crotchless panties.





Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Kid's Game

I am now prepared to submit my opinion from my post yesterday. If you hadn’t read it, please stop now and read it first. Otherwise, this post will make no sense. Plus, it will be worth it. I mean who can resist a kid story about little league baseball and a child cancer patient?

I used to coach little league and I know it is easy to get caught up in winning. Sometimes, one can lose perspective on what is really important and make decisions that lack ethics. I have seen coaches cuss out umpires and parents get into it with coaches – making spectacles of themselves in front of their kids. Setting poor examples in youth sports is perhaps the most common problem that occurs.

Despite that, I believe that the Yankee coaches made the right decision. Sure, it is tough to watch this poor kid, Romney Oaks, strike out when the game was on the line with his tears streaming down his face. However, from all accounts, Romney played little league to find normalcy in his life. He didn’t want to have special treatment; he wanted to be a ball player. He also wouldn’t have wanted his coach to use his cancer as a weapon against the other team. What kid, no matter what his health status, would want to hear, “You guys only won because we couldn’t play to win because of your cancer!”

No, I think Romney would have rather had the chance to win the game in the honest way – by hitting the ball. Nothing risked, nothing gained.

Life is tough that way. You get breaks and sometimes you get broken. Kids need to learn that life is tough and sometimes unfair. When a kid realizes that and strives to overcome what stinks about life, he can finally realize what victory is all about – and I am not talking about sports here. In the process – and it is a long one, boys become men.

In addition, the Yankees were kids, too. They worked hard to be undefeated. How could their coach not try for them? I think the coaches made the right decision. Maybe next time, Romney is the hero. That would be a better story, wouldn’t it? However, that story never has a chance to be told if the kid doesn’t get a chance to bat.

I think Romney got it right. He told his dad after the game that he wanted to work on his hitting so next time he will be the kid that the other team wants to walk.









Little League Ethics

I found an interesting story yesterday about a Mustang league baseball championship game in Utah. For those of you not interested in sports or baseball, be patient. This game was interesting because one of the coaches has been panned for a decision that he made. His decision was within the rules and helped win the championship for his team. What do you think about it?

The Yankees were undefeated. They had a one-run lead in the last inning of the championship against the Red Sox. The Sox had two outs and a runner getting ready to score on third base. The Yankees just needed one more out and they would be the undefeated champions of the Mustang lead. However, the best hitter on the Red Sox was coming to the plate. This kid had already hit a homerun and a triple that day.

The Yankees coaches decided to intentionally walk the kid (told the pitcher to throw four straight balls and award the kid first base). This brought up then next boy in the order who hadn’t demonstrated that he was very good. The poor kid struck out and the Yankees won the game.

So far, no big deal. Ah, but here is the twist. The Yankees walked the Red Sox’s best hitter to pitch to 9-year old Romney Oaks, a kid that had been battling brain cancer, which retarded his athletic development. He even had to have a helmet on when he played in the field because he needed to protect a shunt in his head.

Here is the dilemma: Should the Yankee coaches have pitched to the star athlete and risk losing in order to not put Romney in that position, or did they make the good “baseball” decision and walk him knowing that Romney would be an easy out which means an easy victory?

I will give it some thought and give my opinion tomorrow.






Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lieberman the Maverick


Senator, and former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman went down in defeat in the Connecticut primary election. Lieberman was hoping to return to the Senate as a Democrat. Instead, Ned Lamont will be on the Democratic ticket in November. This was a coupe of sorts, because the popular Lieberman has been in the Senate since 1989.

Why should you care about this unless you happen to live in Connecticut? Because it COULD mean big changes in the political system as we know it. Lieberman has decided to run again against Lamont in November as an Independent. Republican Allen Schlesinger is technically in the race, too, but only technically. In a poll I saw recently, Lamont and Lieberman should be in a dead heat come November.

The reason Lamont even had a chance against Lieberman is because of Lieberman’s support of the President Bush regarding the Iraq war. Lamont is anti-war and so are most Democrats in Connecticut and elsewhere.

If Lieberman wins in November, it could mean a shift in the general population towards a more moderate, less party-line way of doing political business. This, in my opinion, is good because I think the political parties have hurt the US by having a “party before country” attitude. This applies to both parties.

I happen to be more in the Lamont camp concerning the Iraq war. I think the war was ill-conceived and we should have been more concerned with bin Laden and not so much Saddam Hussein. Saddam would have been there AFTER the Al-Quaida problem was solved. In many ways, it reminds me of two dogs that I used to have around (mine and a friend’s). I would tease and antagonize my dog and he always took it out on the other dog (who had nothing to do with the teasing). Bush couldn’t find bin Laden so he decided to go after Iraq. He always hated Saddam Hussein anyway.

Despite my views on Iraq, I think the country will be better served if Lieberman wins in the fall. I would like to see the American electorate send a signal that they are tired of political parties having so much influence. They had this chance back when Ross Perot ran against Bush Sr, and Bill Clinton. Until Perot cracked under the pressure being put on him by “The Republican Dirty Tricks Squad” as he put it, Perot was ahead in the polls and could have been the first Independent president in the modern era.

It is my wish that something comes from this that pushes our politicians to be more independent in thought. Perhaps some will put the country first on an issue-to-issue basis instead of worrying about the promises their colleagues made to special interests. I won’t hold my breath, though. There are plenty of “Dirty Tricks Squads” out there to prevent that from happening.
____________________
No lyric game in this post. If you want to play go to the "Pride" entry below.











Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pride - More Dangerous than a Bunch of Lions


FOR YOUR PLEASURE
First, let me introduce a new little game within my posts for your amusement. (probably mostly for mine). It is called, “Find the Song Lyrics”. Here is how it works: Somewhere in my post, there will be an obvious lyric from some relatively well-known song. See if you can find the lyric and name the song and the artist in the “comments” section. I will give the answer at the bottom of the next post. I will try to do this most days. I will let you know when I do or do not have one.
_______________________

I think most of the lessons I learn in life are tested with my morning workouts. Sure there are the obvious tests like discipline, endurance, etc. However there is a lot more than that.

Often on my daily runs, I run across other people trying to get some exercise in. There is one guy that seems to have an engine that won’t quit. He passes me going the other direction and then I will see him again down another road in the distance a short time later. He runs with a pretty good pace and he seems to go on and on like the Energizer Bunny.

SIDENOTE: Now that I am thinking about that guy, I realize that he bugs me at many levels. The first time I passed him, we both kind of “Good Morning’d” each other. Then I would greet him and he would respond with a little nod. That’s fine. Lately when I greet him, he completely blows me off. What is with people like that? And why does my life repeatedly mimic various Seinfeld episodes? Now I just ignore him, too. I FORGOT to say “hello” to my neighbor. Sometimes I question my own behavior.

There is another person – a lady that walks with her daughter. She is always friendly – sometimes too friendly as she makes me check my watch too often – if you know what I mean. Her (adult) daughter is pretty quiet, though, and I wonder if she would even greet me if she was out without her mother.

So here is the thing. I would come across these people often in my walking phase of my workout. I do an escalation type thing where I walk, then jog, then briskly jog, then run, and start the cycle over again after the running. At the end, I walk the “cool-down” part. Sometimes when I am “caught” walking by these folks, I am really spent. I look like someone who can’t walk without gasping for air before he inevitably passes out. Yesterday, as I finished the most strenuous part of my run, I ran into the guy across the street while I was walking toward the house. He, with genuine concern, asked me if I was holding up all right. I just responded with a brief “sometimes.”

The point is that every time I get caught walking, I want to go into a whole discourse about how my workout works and why I am walking and not jogging or why I appeared to be all tuckered out from my walk. Why do I want to do this? PRIDE. It is too hard to remember sometimes that IT is not about me.

Pride is a killer. It is the very thing that reminds us that we are too concerned about ourselves and the way others see us. We always are starving for someone else's approval. When we are too self-absorbed, we rob ourselves from the joy of being and giving.

I shouldn’t care if my neighbors judge me in this way. Maybe, seeing me exhausted after a “walk” makes them feel better about the state of their own health. I fight to restrain myself. I am usually successful, but I don’t like the struggle. I don’t like that about myself.

In the third paragraph above, I bolded the phrase “going the other direction” after I wrote it. It was pride that made me put it there. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that someone ran faster and passed me going in the same direction, would I? Pride.

ENDNOTE: If the song lyric game flops, pride will again become an issue with me. ;)





Monday, August 07, 2006

Hergemütlichkeit

I had an interesting weekend. I went to a German Beer festival, a racetrack and the last summer social of the year.

My future father-in-law (FFIL) was in town to visit his daughter, and I guess to a lesser extent, me. I like my FFIL. He is an outgoing guy that likes to talk and have fun. But, it goes beyond that; he will talk to anyone and has no shame. He is a pod (Seinfeld reference). It is amazing. I like being around him, which is a good sign.

Friday night, the three of us went to the Germania Männerchor. It is a fraternity of sorts that encourages the preservation of old German culture. There are a lot of people of German descent around here and this club has been around to help connect them and show-off all things German.

The Volksfest is a huge event in Evansville. It is a big, glorified beer drinking festival. They serve German food (I had pig’s knuckles) and German beer. There were three German bands in three different areas (a LARGE beer garden, a dance hall, and the club room). It is perfect for large groups of beer drinkers to gather to make ein Prosit (a toast) and have Hergemütlichkeit (warm fellowship – loosely translated). I don’t know how many people were there over the three-day festival, but seats were a rare commodity.

As we went into the festival, I paid for the three of us to enter. It wasn’t long till we were in the food line. As we gathered to pay, my FFIL reached into his wallet and discovered no money. He asked the woman taking the money if he could write a check. I thought I was going to die laughing. Here we were, holding the line up and he asked the poor woman who just had glorified cash drawer if she takes checks or “plastic”. I had SOME cash, but not enough for the three of us. It was kind of understood that he was going to treat so I didn’t worry too much about having excess cash.

After getting nowhere with the check idea, she told him that we could put our plates on the side while he ventured off to find an ATM. He countered with, “how about I give you my driver’s license while and I will go after the meal so we can eat the meal while it is hot.”

What could she do? The line was growing behind us. So, we ate and then he walked down the street to get some cash. When he returned, they didn’t want to let him back in without paying again. After some discussion that included, "Look, I owe you guys $24. If you want to collect it, you will let me in. They finally let him in - I guess because they conceded the battle of attrition. My FFIL! He is a piece of work.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Explore Kentucky, I Dare You!

I live in Indiana but work in Kentucky. I am subjected to all kind of Hoosier and Kentuckian nonsense. Maybe I am just biased, but it seems that there is more to make fun of about Kentucky. I will often harp on the drivers there and some other seemingly dimwitted actions that make up the Kentucky mystique. Here is the latest thing that I just simply can’t stop chuckling about.

Kentucky has what I guess is their version of a safe-driving campaign. It is called “Blue Lights Across the Blue Grass.” Hey, I agree that if any state needs one of those, Kentucky sure does. However, if any of you have seen it, there is a commercial on television that has the Earth viewed from space. It is nighttime in the US, but the place where Kentucky should be is a mass of flashing lights. Then, the picture changes to a group of state troopers (or is it commonwealth troopers in Kentucky, I don’t know). These officers are standing there, acting bigger than life – you know, the attitude that causes the average Joe to dislike them, and one of them tells the TV audience that they will be patrolling a lot and writing a lot of tickets. “No excuses, no exceptions,” I think is the motto.



It seems to me that the public perception of the state police is not that great in the first place. Most people have the impression that all they ever do is cruise the highways looking for that terrible person going 59 in a 55. While people are being shot in our cities, the state police officer is busting someone for not wearing a seatbelt between a tobacco field and a seed corn retailer.

DISCLAIMER: This opinion is not necessarily MY opinion, but my understanding of public perception. ;)

Okay, the state troopers are tough guys and no one is going to speed on their watch. Fine, I get it.

However, the next commercial sometimes is an ad for some Kentucky theme park, or sporting event, or even a business in the area that happens to be located in Kentucky. It seems that every time I see these commercials, I hear a phantom “No Thanks,” I will stay on this side of the river. There is one commercial from Kentucky that the spirits seem to have a different response, though. It is one from the Kentucky Tourism Commission that urges folks to discover Kentucky. The phantom response I hear then is just laughter.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Get Your OWN Life


I ended the last post with, “Celebrities are under the microscope too much. This sounds like the beginning of a new post.” Well here it is as promised.

These items are true (or at least reported as being true):

  • Jack Osborne likes to wear purple.
  • Jaime Pressley had a birthday, barbeque bash at her house last weekend.
  • Diddy kept his party guests waiting for over five hours while he caught up on some sleep.
  • Lindsay Lohan will testify at her mother’s fraud lawsuit. She is also known to party too much according to her studio.
  • Liv Tyler has a big zit on her nose.

    Why do we care about these things? Let me rephrase, why do YOU care about these things? I certainly do not. I don’t care if Jennifer Aniston is getting married or getting dumped or even been caught by the Paperazzi TAKING a dump. It just doesn’t matter.

    Maybe someone can explain it to me. Do people live vicariously through celebrities? I hope not, because there aren’t too many good stories they are involved in other than the ones screenwriters created for them.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not campaigning for their privacy. If they want to cash in on their celebrity, they have to take the good with the bad. It goes with the territory. I am just not fascinated with Lohan getting blitzed, or Jessica Simpson giving the finger to Nick Lachey’s new love interest (not that she did). I don’t care one way or the other. Why do you?


















Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Where there is smoke, there is Mel Gibson


This morning was interesting. I am out on my daily run around 5:30 when I smell smoke. I didn’t think too much of it at first. In my running workout (anything over a walk is a workout to me, btw), I work at different intensity levels. As I was trying to push it to the next level, I just gave out. The strange thing is that I was feeling pretty good at that point and the fatigue or whatever just hit me all of the sudden. At any rate, it caused me to stop and walk so I took the next road (not planned) to circle around back home (to prepare for the weightlifting part of my workout).

SIDENOTE: If you hate parentheses, you probably don’t want to read my blog. ;)

As I walked down this unplanned street, I noticed smoke coming from a garage. So, at 5 something in the morning, I knock on the door to the house and was greeted (and I use the term loosely) by a gruff man that was in no mood for visitors. He was awake already, thank God, but he looked a little suspicious of me. When I showed him the smoke, he thanked me and ran to his garage. I didn’t stick around to see what the deal was. Maybe it was because he was a macho-type guy that looked like he didn’t need anyone’s help or maybe it was because he was particularly unfriendly toward my intrusion, but I decided to continue on my way.

So, I may have saved a life, saved some property, or I could have just bugged someone for nothing on a peaceful Tuesday morning. All I know is that for some reason I unexpectedly went down that particular street. I may never know the end result. I hate my curiosity, sometimes.

Speaking of Mel Gibson (how do you like that transition?), I don’t know what to think of his whole situation. He gets pulled over for DUI and apparently talked disparagely about Jewish people. Now there is some kind of charge about a police cover-up because the anti-Semitic comments were not on the original report.

One thing at a time:

1. I am disappointed that Mel drank and drove, though not particularly surprised. It happens. People talk about how Gibson is supposed to be religious and stuff, but still. Catholics do not preach against drinking (compared to say, Baptists). Drinking happens and bad judgment happens (as a result).

2. Gibson’s anti-Semitic comments are troubling. The world is in bad enough shape without groups hating on other groups. He was drunk and usually alcohol doesn’t cause one to say things they don’t mean, it just makes them say things that they wished they kept to themselves. He apologized for his words so at least he knows they were inappropriate. One can debate about the reasons he may have apologized, but that is between Mel and God as far as I am concerned. I see no reason a drunken diatribe needs to ruin a man’s career (as some are suggesting).

3. The cover-up thing is ridiculous. A man can say whatever he wants. What difference does it make to the police officers? They aren’t charged to inform the public about every sentence a celebrity utters. It is just stupid.

Celebrities are under the microscope too much. This sounds like the beginning of a new post. Stay tuned.