Sunday, August 30, 2009

DISH TV: Part Two

I can't watch a DVD or video at present. Why? Well, now there are two reasons. 1) The Combo unit used to connect to the DirecTV control box, but now there is no box. When I tried to play a DVD last evening a message appeared on the screen "no signal" and when I looked behind the TV I noticed the yellow, white, and red cable was lying on the floor. I was so pissed, I took a shower and went to bed.

2) When I got in from work this evening and turned on the TV it emitted a loud 'pop' and died. I had hoped to put off the visit to the Sony store until next month, but I guess I'll be stopping by after work tomorrow after all.

Above is the 26L5000 - 26" LCD TV that I've been eyeing, but I'll have to find out if it requires an audio receiver between the DVD player and the TV and what cables are necessary. I used to know all this stuff in the dark ages, but nothing is easy to figure out these days, not to mention the new words for everything. I feel so out of touch.

I'm told the L5000 sells for $369.00 at the Sony store, so with a 15% discount it would be about $314.00 IF the sale is still on. And, since the accessories necessary for the now dead TV to function properly were to cost around $200.00 I am not feeling so bad. I get a new TV and save the extra $$$ required to run the dead one. You can imagine how I would feel if I purchased all that stuff and the TV suddenly died as it did today. This death was a blessing.

May this old 20' Sony CRT rest in peace. It gave me many years of joy and entertainment.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

DISH TV - a Stroll Through The Crazy

The DISH TV technician was to be here between 8 am and noon today. He called the landlady at 12:45 to tell her he'd be here in a half hour. She conveyed the info. He arrived at 1:30 and has only just finished attaching the two dishes to my porch, so I have one at eye level. Charming. I wonder if it will fry my door, or brain...

He is downloading the necessary software to the LL's control box (forgive me I have no idea what the technical term is for such things) and after some complicated witchcraft my TV is on Ch. 60 awaiting a signal. An occasional sputter emanates from the TV speakers, but I have no idea why.

English is the tech's second language, so when you ask to confirm a specific detail that he just disclosed, he says 'no' contradicting himself, clarification takes more time. I am not sure where he is from originally and I can't place the accent. He looks to be Latino, but his accent is not. I work with many Latinos at job #2, and this is clearly something very different. More eastern European, it seems to me.

3:50 pm, the LL's TV is on the network and the downloading of the software to run on my TV is in progress. I know this because suddenly music coming from the TV speakers coordinated to an orange screen informed me that this is, in fact, happening as I type. The picture sucks, btw. (sigh.)

4:10 pm, the music has stopped and the screen is blank. (Are you with me, so far?) It seems that I will not have my own receiver, either. Unlike DirecTV, my TV will be connected to the LL's main receiver.

I am so confused.

4:15 pm, a gold screen has now appeared with "Congratulations! You are looking at the 61.5 Orbital Location" and classical guitar music is playing in the background.

4:30 pm, the technician just left after a whirlwind session of instructions on using the DISH remote and how to switch from the dish to a DVD or VHS.

The picture still sucks, but what can I say, it's free and I can even view local channels whenever I need a good laugh. I've lost the Science Channel, History International, and National Geographic, not sure that's an even trade.

5:20 pm, the LL just informed me that I will need a, HDTV or cough up almost $200. for an antenna and controller. Since I lost the newer flat screen TV sets in the settlement 3 years ago, my TV is more than a decade old, I believe the money is better spent toward a new digital one. So, after work tomorrow it's off to the Sony store where, I am told, they have discounts on 27 and 32" flat screens.

My DVD collection is my only entertainment, so the investment will be appreciated and well deserved.

Oh, and btw, the technician is from Albania. I asked. Most of his instructions and explanations were a mixture of Albanian and English, so we weren't misunderstanding him after all. The words and concepts he had no English for, he substituted his own in its place. Makes perfect sense to me...

My only day off is almost over. After supper there will be a short learning session with the 'quick start' cards that came with the DISH remote. DirecTV was straightforward, this isn't and will take time to comprehend.

And so it goes.

Democracy for America Hiring in Delaware

Found this on another progressive DE blog asking that this information get spread as far and wide as possible, so here it is.
Democracy for America is hiring state-level Public Option Field Organizers for an intense three-month pressure campaign to pass a public option as part of healthcare reform.

We're upping the ante and are looking to put full-time, hired, grassroots field organizers, on the ground to pressure elected leaders to pass healthcare reform with a public option in your state.

You can see the entire job description here:

You know your state better than anyone and you have better contacts. We need your help to get the word out because time is critical and we have a very tight timeline to hire additional staff.

Can you pass this position onto anyone you think might be a good fit? Can you post this on a local blog? Send it to a local email list?

Public Option Field Organizers will have their work cut out for them. They need to hit the ground running to build grassroots pressure and get Senators and Representatives off the fence in support of the public option.

If you know anyone interested in joining this intense three-month campaign to get a public option passed, please send them this link:

Thank you for all that you do,


Adam Quinn, Field Director
Democracy for America

P.S. Questions? As always, feel free to contact me and the rest of the DFA Field Team at
I would apply but I think my raging activist days are pretty much over.

And so it goes.


Thoughtful Caturday

More later.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Katrina - A First-Hand Account

On the eve of the 4th Anniversary of the most devastating disaster to hit this country comes this from the American Public Health Association and was written a week after their experiences during the first few days following Katrina. Here is a taste:

Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky are paramedics from California, SEIU Local 790, who were attending an EMS conference in New Orleans at the time Katrina struck.
Sept. 6, 2005, 11:59

Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, Pampers, and prescriptions and fled the city. Outside the Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry.

The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized, and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottled water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead, they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.

We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the television coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed, were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hotwire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the city. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20 percent of New Orleans that was not under water.

Day 2
On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the city. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible, because none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have 10 buses come and take us out of the city. Those who did not have the requisite $45 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and newborn babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute they arrived in the city limits, they were commandeered by the military.

Day 4

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the Convention Center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the city, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the city's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the city's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only two shelters in the city, what is our alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no, they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement."

We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no, they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to city officials.

Things got progressively worse. Read the rest here.

And so it goes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Katrina - Another 4th Anniversary Post

This is the beginning of a film by Greg Palast one year after Katrina and since Greg is white he didn't get the same bad press and claims of bias that Spike Lee did for his "When the Levees Broke" but the story is essentially the same. Here is part 1 of Big Easy to Big Empty:

Part 2 is HERE. You can find the rest at this link as well.

I strongly suggest you view this film and ingest what is being reported about the Bush White House and FEMA's negligence. Not to mention that of the ACOE.

And so it goes.

My Universe - Out of Balance

Bizarre happenings throughout my personal universe these past two days.

Wednesday started out well enough, but quickly turned into sadness, chaos, disharmony and disorganization. It began when I read in the Times that Teddy Kennedy had died. Sad, to be sure, but this Kennedy wasn't assassinated and accomplished many important things his brothers weren't allowed the time to get done.

Then I made a bank deposit only to have the funds credited to the wrong account. A personal nightmare due to time constraints of the two jobs. When I arrived at job #2 Kennedy's demise was overshadowed by the sudden emergency ER visit by my boss's Mom.

One server arrived with a sore throat and headache and asked if he could go home and rest (he was pulling a double and didn't think he could handle such a long day) leaving us one server short for hump-day lunch. We would manage.

Later, another server decided that he was leaving at 2 pm just as we were getting busy, which left me with only three servers - two good and one not so good - as the restaurant began to fill.

At this point the boss arrived clearly pretty stressed still not knowing what the tests would reveal about his Mom's condition and promptly blew his top at the dipstick who decided to quit early.

While all this is going on in the background, a server scheduled for the evening shift called to ask if he could have the evening off. I suggested that he would do well to show up for his shift, but he chose not to listen and phoned the, now very angry boss, I am sure he now wishes he hadn't made that call. Another employee's car broke down, but fortunately it occurred nearby so she was in to work early.

One person behaving badly can throw everything and everyone out of sync. I am a novice at this, but I saw it and was disappointed in the person who sent the snowball down the hill.

Somehow we made it through the shift without any more drama. I definitely hung around for my after-shift cocktail. I needed it. Still, I'm resigned to the fact that this may have been my first such experience with drama queen behavior in this business, it won't be my last. Yes, everyone is tired after this long and busy (thank G*d) season, and it's almost over. People count on one another to hold up their end of the responsibilities to get the restaurant open and running smoothly.

First thing this morning when I arrived at job #1 I learned that a co-worker closed the store yesterday morning because, (guess what?) her mother had to be taken to the ER and ultimately whisked off to the IC unit. The store remained closed until the afternoon relief guy showed up to reopen and finish the day. The place was in varying states of disarray and I never really sorted it all out. An irate customer called and was pissed that I had no idea about her special order and began to verbally abuse me. I told her again and again what I knew (which was nothing) and after telling me that I was not fit to work with the public, I told her that I had to go and wait on customers in the store who thought otherwise, and hung up.

I was happy as a clam when my relief arrived and I could get the hell out of there. I am enjoying a festive martini as I type this and may have another before my stomach is unclenched enough to even consider supper.

And so it goes...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Four Years After Katrina...

Homeless and Struggling in New Orleans.

This is simply obscene after almost four years, but here it is. From Signs of the Times:
Crawling through a hole in a fence and walking through an open doorway, Shamus Rohn and Mike Miller lead the way into an abandoned Midcity hospital. They are outreach workers for the New Orleans organization UNITY for the Homeless, and they do this all day long; searching empty houses and buildings for homeless people, so they can offer services and support. "We joke about having turned criminal trespass into a fulltime job," says Rohn.

Up a darkened stairway and through the detritus of a building that looks like its been scavenged for anything of value to sell, Rohn and Miller enter a sundrenched room. Inside is Michael Palmer, a 57-year-old white former construction worker and merchant seaman who has made a home here. Palmer - his friends call him Mickey - is in some ways lucky. He found a room with a door that locks. He salvaged some furniture from other parts of the hospital, so he has a bed, a couch, and a rug. Best of all, he has a fourth-floor room with a balcony. "Of all the homeless," he says, "I probably have the best view."

Mickey has lived here for six months. He's been homeless since shortly after Katrina, and this is by far the best place he's stayed in that time. "I've lived on the street," he says. "I've slept in a cardboard box." He is a proud man, thin and muscled with a fresh shave, clean clothes and a trim mustache. He credits a nearby church, which lets him shave and shower.

But Palmer would like to be able to pay rent again. "My apartment was around $450. I could afford $450. I can't afford $700 or $800 and that's what the places have gone up to." Keeping himself together, well-dressed and fresh, Mickey is trying to go back to the life he had. "I have never lived on the dole of the state," he says proudly. "I've never been on welfare, never collected food stamps." Palmer rented an apartment before Katrina. He did repairs and construction. "I had my own business," he says. "I had a pickup truck with all my tools, and all that went under water."

Palmer is one of thousands of homeless people living in New Orleans' storm damaged and abandoned homes and buildings. Four years after Katrina, recovery and rebuilding has come slow to this city, and there are many boarded-up homes to choose from. The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center counts 65,888 abandoned residential addresses in New Orleans, and this number doesn't include any of the many non-residential buildings, like the hospital Mickey stays in. Overall, about a third of the addresses in the city are vacant or abandoned, the highest rate in the nation. UNITY for the Homeless is the only organization surveying these spaces, and Miller and Rohn are the only fulltime staff on the project. They have surveyed 1,330 buildings - a small fraction of the total number of empty structures. Of those, 564 were unsecured. Nearly 40% of them showed signs of use, including a total of 270 bedrolls or mattresses.
The rest is here, if you've got the stomach for it. How will we commemorate this fourth anniversary, I wonder, or will it even be addressed and acknowledged?

H/T to Happy in Nevada for the link.

And so it goes.

Ted Kennedy - R.I.P.

I woke up to this today:
“Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port,” the statement said. “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.”
More than the end of an era. And, who now will take up the cause?

I don't have the stomach to turn on either radio or television to hear or see their long prepared eulogies.

I think it's going to rain today.

And so it goes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

NOAH - New Orleans Arcology Habitat

Caught last few minutes of a program regarding this project last evening and decided to hunt around for more info. I hit pay dirt, though I would like to see the program and how this will help protect NOLA residents in the future. Yes, it's fanciful to be sure, but hope dies a slow death. Thank Goodness. This is so cool.

First, the video animation followed by more detailed information:

Tangram 3DS, a firm specializing in visualization and computer animation, announced its collaboration with E. Kevin Schopfer AIA, RIBA. Together, the companies have designed and presented a bold new urban platform. New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) is a proposed urban Arcology (architecture and ecology), whose philosophic underpinnings rest in combining large scale sustainability with concentrated urban structures, and in this case a floating city.
Tangram 3DS worked with Schopfer to visualize this unique concept and structure. Starting from basic sketches, Tangram 3DS transformed Schopfers ideas into visuals and an animation. Our work helps Kevin convey his concept to the City of New Orleans, investors, the media, and public, said Stefan Vittori, president and founder of Tangram 3DS, LLC. To be able to visualize a design project in 3D and through animation is absolutely vital when attempting to sell a design concept that may at first glance be hard to grasp, adds Vittori.
Why a floating city? There are three major challenges to building in New Orleans. The first challenge is to overcome both the physical and psychological damages of recurring severe weather patterns. Though repopulation has begun, the need to provide a stabilized and safe environment is paramount to a long-term recovery and economic well being of New Orleans. The second challenge is that New Orleans has been built at and below sea levels, which creates a consistently high water table and makes it prone to flooding and storm surges. The third challenge is that New Orleans is built on soil condition that consists of thousands of feet of soft soil, silt and clay. These conditions make building large-scale concentrated structures difficult. Believing that NOAH is a viable plan, our solution to overcome these challenges is to take advantage of these seemingly conflicting issues with the introduction of a floating urban platform. This solution is deceptively simple, using water as a controlled, naturally occurring, bearing foundation, is perfectly feasible and practical, states Schopfer.
As depicted in the 3D renderings by Tangram, given the design's massive scale -- nearly 1,200' tall with a footprint nearly 1/3 of a mile in diameter -- it was clear that Tangram's imagery would need to depict a significant amount of downtown New Orleans to contextualize the project. A 3D model of the downtown buildings was combined with satellite and aerial survey imagery to build a highly-detailed context model in which NOAH could be placed. This allowed Tangram to create a wide range of imagery, including aerials that covered dozens of city blocks, which effectively communicated the ambitious scale of the NOAH project.
When it came time to produce the animation, the massive scene scale combined with the river and dense activity of the area were extremely challenging to reproduce faithfully in motion. Tangram teamed up with the team at VFX Direct, located north of Boston, to further polish the animation frames. The two teams worked closely to build passes of animated elements that VFX Direct would include in their final composite of the animation, along with additional water, smoke, and lighting effects that made the imagery pop.
A triangulate shape has been chosen as the basis for NOAH, given the fact that a triangle is inherently the most rigid of all structural framing systems. The triangle also allows for an open frame configuration, dividing NOAH into three separate towers converging at the top. The intent of this open system is to allow all severe weather to in effect blow through the structure in any direction with the minimum of massing interference. To further dissipate wind loads, the outer edges are curved and tilted.
This is a project of tremendous potential which pushes beyond current expectations for New Orleans and places it in the forefront of the new age of urban growth possibilities, adds Schopfer. We hope to one day see it become reality, and with Tangram's unique experience and expertise, that reality comes alive today.

NOAH will house:
•Residential Units / Rental and Condominium: 20,000 units @ average 1100 Sq ft
•Three Hotels: Average 200 rooms plus associated services
•Time Share Units: 1500 units @ average 1100 sq ft
•Three Casino Facilities: (to be determined)
•Commercial Space / Rental and Condominiums: 500,000 sq ft
•Commercial Space / Retail: 500,000 sq ft
•Parking Garage / within foundation: 8,000 cars
•Cultural Facilities: 100,000 sq ft
•Public Works: 50,000 sq ft / includes storage
•District School System: 100,000 sq ft
•District Administrative Office: 50,000 sq ft
•District Health Care Facility: 20,000 sq ft

Estimated Total Square Footage: 30 million
Interesting, no? But, THREE casinos? WTF???

More later.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Note to Self: Count Blessings

Another stressful week here in Gayberry DE. Early in the week it was revealed that the job #1 store is due to close on Sept. 30th. The Center owners refuse to renew our lease, so we're out after 12 years. Not that there are companies beating down the door to lease space from these idiots, either. So, they're actually shooting themselves in the foot big time.

It's anybody's guess what will happen after Sept. 30th. The boss is said to be looking for another location, but we shall see if that pans out. I will hold off on job hunting for another week or so in case something positive comes through and we four employees are not left without an income. Still, there is job #2 and plenty of people around here are without even that partial income. Note to self: Count blessings.

The heat and humidity have been horrid this week too. By Friday the heat index had reached 112 degrees F. The still air was thick and almost chewable making it hard to breathe. Fortunately, the boss at job #2 chose to keep the AC on rather than open the semi outdoor dining glass doors and we all breathed a sigh of relief. The shifts there go quickly and the customers, for the most part, are a delight.

A friend from New Jersey is spending some quality time at her place nearby and called to suggest dinner plans. I suggested we meet after my shift at job #2 last evening. We enjoyed two Bombay Sapphine martinis at the bar as I was teased unmercifully by Bartenders and servers alike, before deciding to stay for dinner. The special was Alaskan King Crab legs - which happens to be one of our favourites, anyway. We spent a few hours catching up on the happenings of the past 4 months and confided in one another about one of two pressing issues that will require decision making in the near future. With our mouths and tummies happy and the shared laughter (not to mention those martinis) we ended the evening relaxed and drained from the hectic events of the week.

I slept like a baby last night until rudely awakened at 4 am by outrageous lightning strikes and heavy rains, but no accompanying thunder. Which seemed very strange. I sat on the sofa watching the lightning wondering how far away the strike might be that there was no thunder. The show lasted a half hour and as quickly as it began, it ended, the rain disappeared, too.

Today is a work-at-home day. Since I was up early anyway, after a coffee and light breakfast, I got to work editing and formatting a local bi-weekly LGBT newsletter for their website. With everyone gearing up for the 22nd annual Sundance celebration on Labor Day weekend, (a fundraiser for AIDS research and the local LGBT Community Center project) it took a week to get the disc. The time sensitive info would be outdated if it wasn't put up soon. Working since 6 am I've just finished and taking a break to clear my head (HA!) before returning to the pages to proof then upload the completed issue.

Following that, it's time for a festive Sazerac cocktail and supper.

Begin the cycle all over again tomorrow. Seriously, last evening with Elizabeth reminded me of the life I ought to be living, though no matter what forward step I take, there are always two backward.

And so it goes.

Caturday Hokey-Pokey

And now I'll be singing that damned tune all day!

More later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dump DOMA - Don't Defend it

Just found this in the inbox and thought I'd share in case anyone isn't on their mailing list.



On Monday, the Department of Justice filed a brief in the case Smelt v. United States, which challenges the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The brief acknowledges that DOMA is discriminatory and that this administration supports its repeal. It also repudiates dishonest and offensive attacks that anti-gay forces have made against parents in same-sex relationships and it rightly points out that the children of same-sex couples are happy, well adjusted and successful. But it disappointingly continues the administration's contention that the discrimination in DOMA does not raise serious constitutional concerns.

Because of DOMA, legally married, same-sex couples are being denied benefits and protections that their neighbors take for granted. That's unacceptable.

We must challenge the president to work with Congress on a clear road map to achieving equal justice for all people. And we must challenge Congress not to wait for the president, and to show some leadership in the much-needed repeal of DOMA.

Please make sure to add YOUR voice to the fight to repeal DOMA.

Thank you for all that you do. Together, and with your continued activism, we will win the fight for full legal equality for same-sex couples.

-- Michael B. Keegan, President

Click the link if you are so inclined.

More later.

Obama = Hitler?

I keep hearing this comparison on the street, on radio, TV, and reading it newspapers:

A bi-racial man is being compared to the leader of the Nazi Third Reich.


It's just the best oxymoron out there.

Does anyone remember what Hitler stood for and planned for the planet when he (eventually) ruled the world?

More stoopid from "keep the guvmint out of my Medicare" crowd.

More later.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Death Eaters at the Beach

This is what I came upon in front of the post office early today. You can imagine my surprise. At one point they began preaching loudly and a policeman shut them up. There were only 3 crazies, but that's more than enough to draw a crowd. As I exited the PO, I paused for a few minutes to take in the scene - and snap a few pics. Of course, it's the Lyndon LaRouche crowd and as long as I watched no one was buying what they were trying to sell. At one point the crazy woman in the pic chased after a couple who made the mistake of looking back at the table of pamphlets. Gotta grab every opportunity, even if it really isn't one.

By noon the temperature had reached 94' and when I looked across the street from job #2, they had already packed up and moved on. Granny's Death Panel would have to wait. Too hot, I suppose.

And BTW, this is a f**king beach resort town, fercrisakes! Why weren't they peddling their propaganda in DC, or Baltimore, or Wilmington?

G*d! The Stoopid, it burns.

(Click on the images to embiggen.)

And so the craziness goes.


Monday, August 17, 2009

The Point: Think About Your Troubles.

In case some of you were under the impression that I was suffering from heat stroke when I wrote this post I found the actual animation used to deliver the song. If you want to know more about the story, just use The Google!

As I said before, I love Harry Nilsson.

The film is well worth your attention and ahead of its time 30+ years ago.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Simulated Hell.

The primary reason for light posting:

When I arrived at the apartment Monday evening, after a good sales day at job #1, and switched on the AC all appeared to go well. Cool air began to flow bringing down the temperature and humidity that had built up all day. This week has been the hottest of the summer, so far.

After prepping supper I began checking email and realized that I was sweating. That's not the way it ought to work. Checking the thermostat I noticed that the room temperature had actually climbed 5 degrees. The air blowing from the vents was no longer cool, but hot. WTF?

Switched off the unit, left the ceiling fans running and opened the windows. It was 10 degrees cooler (?) outside. A chat with the landlady sent a tech out the very next morning to fix the problem. We thought. He arrived before I left for work at job #2 and I asked if he needed access to the apartment to do the work. I could have left the door unlocked and he could lock it when he was finished. He assured me that as long as he had access to the basement and the compressor outside all would be taken care of.

Not so much.

Arrived Tuesday evening to find a note on the doorknob explaining that he would need access to the air handler which must be located in the apartment. How this could be, neither the LL nor I had a clue. We searched and searched, then at last came upon a rectangular piece of plywood afixed to the ceiling of a small closet used as a pantry. Removing this cover we found the air handler in the small crawl space in the attic above the pantry. The opening was so small that I knew the tech who had been there that morning would never fit through. How embarrassing that would have been...

Placing another call to the repair service I explained the whole situation and highlighted the fact that the next tech must be very thin. The appointment was made for Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. Another night of heat, gulping lots of water, and with little sleep. Thunderstorms came and went with no change in the temps or humidity.

The tech arrived 5 minutes early on Friday at a steamy, hot apartment and performed miracles. Well, it seemed that way to me. He replaced the clogged air filter (not knowing the unit was in the attic the filter hadn't been touched in the 8 years it's been up there), then went to work on the compressor. Within an hour cool air began to flow and I was able to breathe again after 4 days in simulated Hell. He hung around a while longer poking and prodding all around the outdoor compressor, then I helped him seal the access hole to the attic.

While he fiddled with his diagnostic widgets outside, I dressed for another day at job #2. Believe me, I hated to leave the cool, dryness of the apartment but knowing what awaited me at evening made it all worthwhile. Another good day at the restaurant followed by a festive end-of-shift cocktail and I was on the way to the apt. Switched on the AC with some trepidation, changed out of the work drag, took a shower, and threw on shorts and a tee shirt. It was already comfy as I listened to the Pet Shop Boys sipping a G & T. I treated myself to a surf and turf supper of baby top sirloin steak, shrimp, zucchini, and a tossed salad. Yes, above is the actual supper from last evening. and while the pic isn't very good, the food certainly was. The first full meal I'd had all week. This heat and humidity kills my appetite.

What a luxury to sit in quiet coolness and enjoy a real meal for a change. As the old song goes, "you don't know what you've got til it's gone." But, we got through it and all is well.

Another plus - it turns out that I didn't have to work a half day today and that is a very good thing. I have been chopping onions and garlic for the Jerk Chicken and wouldn't you know, I am missing one ingredient - orange juice. Maybe I can "borrow" some from the LL. Not in any mood to fight traffic or the heat for a half cup of OJ!!! Jeez.

More later.

Happy Caturday

Happy, indeed. A quiet day off and spent in air conditioned comfort.

More later.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Harvey Milk's Medal of Freedom Means to us All

From HuffPo written by Chuck Wolfe:

When Stuart Milk stands before the president and the country to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom on behalf of his late, slain uncle Harvey Milk, it'll be a moment of incredible pride for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT).

Yet this is a moment that will transcend identity politics because Harvey Milk represents the aspirations of all Americans. More than 200 years ago Washington, Jefferson and Adams fought to create a more perfect union. They probably had no idea that their vision would be embodied in the late 20th century by a gay, Jewish camera shop owner in San Francisco.

Milk's story, as recounted in last year's Academy Award-winning movie Milk and books such as The Mayor of Castro Street, involves his struggle to become one of the first openly elected gay public officials in the U.S. His political ambitions coincided with the rising gay rights movement and resulted in him winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Simultaneous to his election, another candidate named Dan White won a seat on the board. In 1978, White resigned his seat only to later want it back. He became frustrated that the appointment wasn't going to happen, went to City Hall, and murdered Milk in cold blood along with Mayor George Moscone.

Milk's murder could have had a chilling effect on the then burgeoning gay rights movement. Many forces were already actively at work to put gays back in the closest including crusader Anita Bryant. Instead it's a testament to American idealism that in the 30 years since Milk's assassination, we have continued to appreciate and honor his political work.

In fact, there are now more than 440 openly LGBT public officials in our country who serve in states as diverse as Alabama, Idaho and Kentucky. That's real progress, but even that number seems small when you realize there are more than one half million elected offices in the U.S.
The rest is HERE.

More later.

Monday, August 10, 2009

FBI Raids NOLA Police over Katrina Killings

Katrina stories and investigations are far from over - four years on. Every phone conversation with my sister or friends contains new revelations about the days and weeks following the storm. Now this...From Raw Story:
Nearly four years after the police shootout that took the lives of Ronald Madison and James Brissette on New Orleans’ Danziger Bridge, the FBI raided the offices of the police investigators who had been looking into the deadly incident.

The bureau’s move suggests that the federal government may be serious about seeing police officers prosecuted over the Sept. 4, 2005 shootout, when Madison and Brissette were allegedly killed by police while four others were wounded as they crossed a bridge in the midst of the Hurricane Katrina crisis.

It also suggests the FBI may be worried that New Orleans police are trying — or may in the future try — to destroy evidence of what happened that day.

According to ProPublica, “the police officers involved say they began shooting in response to gunfire from the civilians; that claim is vigorously disputed by the shooting victims.”

“Survivors of the high-profile shooting incident have said they were unarmed when ambushed by officers on the bridge, who came to the site because they heard a radio call that described other police officers in distress,” the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported last year. “But police officers have maintained that police were in a firefight, shooting only after they were fired upon.”

According to an article in Friday’s Times-Picayune, FBI agents seized “the files and computer hard drives of two officers assigned to investigate police conduct” in the incident.

Last year, the federal government announced it would be investigating the possibility of federal charges against some or all of the officers involved in the shootout, after a state prosecution of the incident fell apart.

According to New Orleans TV station WDSU, the “investigation had been years in the making and the probe into the police department is broader than the events that happened on the Danziger Bridge that left two dead and four wounded.”

Harry Rosenberg, a former US attorney, told WDSU that FBI raids on police homicide squads are rare. “It’s done when the FBI believes evidence may be destroyed if officers or other individuals become aware of a criminal investigation and are likely to dispose of electronic data or paper evidence that might assist the FBI in its investigation,” Rosenberg said.

WDSU also stated that the federal investigation would look at “the police-involved shooting of Adolph Grimes on New Year’s Eve and the death of Henry Glover, whose body was found in a burned out car in the days after Hurricane Katrina.”

The Times-Picayune reported in June that federal authorities are investigating Glover’s death. According to the paper, the owner of the car in which Glover’s body was found said he last saw it in the possession of the New Orleans police, before it was found burned with Glover’s body inside.

“A community group that has been monitoring each of the cases said it’s glad to see the FBI push for more information,” WDSU reported.

“This has been a long time coming,” Evelyn Lynn of the activist group Safe Streets Strong Communities told WDSU. “The police department here has been in crisis for a long time. Having federal help is going to help a lot in terms of the cases and the reforms that we need to make in the department.”
It appears that George Bush isn't the only person who doesn't care about black people. Another piece of our national shame over this disaster.

And so it goes.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Classic: Dusty Springfield & The Pet Shop Boys

This is the first I've seen of this video and to my delight it features Chris Lowe. I've had a crush on him for over 20 years. He has beautiful eyes, an incredible mouth, is a good dancer - and his musical talent ain't bad either.

I'll have lovely dreams tonight.

Hope you do, too.

And so it goes.

The Countdown to Labor Day...

Friday was as beautiful as Thursday was ugly - in every possible way. Woke to temps in the upper 60's and a cool breeze blew in from the Atlantic. Humidity was low and the sky was clear and bright blue. Today turned out to be an exact duplicate. For some reason I feel happy, if more than a little overwhelmed by the present work schedule. Doing surprisingly well though, if I may say so myself. And I just did!

With another 6-day work week under the belt, counting down to Labor Day and the end of the tourist season, I am looking forward to the less hectic work environment. I am actually looking forward to Autumn this year. Since I haven't looked forward to anything these past three years, this is very telling about my frame of mind. Yes, I notice this stuff. Annoying, isn't it?

No new friends to speak of, but that will change as I get out and socialize more in the cooler months. As least that's the plan. When I begin to see the fruits of my labors, so to speak, and enjoy a bit of that gay "disposable income" everyone talks about, I'll know that I have made a significant dent in the ever growing bills - medical or otherwise.

The boss at job #2 is definitely keeping me on after the summer - so, I suppose I performed well enough - but I have no idea how many days or in what capacity. It was interesting to hear him talk about what the place is like off-season. The more relaxing atmosphere, regular customers and locals returning when the parking meters are shut down, and the changes in the menu he has planned. Saying basically, "you're going to love it"! Sounds great to me. I am grateful to be a part of something, and this something is right up my alley.

Truth be told, I didn't expect to land the job. I didn't know if I would fit in, or if I was too old, or even if the owners didn't want to get involved because of the previous life. This was one of our favourite local restaurants and had been customers for about 10 years before the relationship dissolved. But, I thought, what the hell! Maybe they wouldn't even remember me, I downloaded the application, completed and hand delivered it to the restaurant. I was shocked when I got the call a week later for an interview; surprised when they called back and offered me the job.

Experiencing the restaurant from this 'other' perspective has been quite an education. Having always loved working with the public, this restaurant especially has been great fun and challenging for a guy my age. I learn something new every day so what's not to love! Bits of information helpful to make things run smoothly are shared often. As if the boss chooses the precise time when the info will most likely stick in my gray matter.

Of course Autumn will be a sad time as the students working for the summer return to their countries and universities in September and October. We've become friends and I know I will miss them. They keep everyone cheerful by noting that they have Internet access and will keep in touch. The two guys from Jordan want me to think seriously about visiting them in Amman in the future. I would like that very much. Practically speaking, it's not likely to happen anytime soon. Others will return to Russia, Ukraine and Romania, to name a few. I have been blessed to get to know them. Maybe I was a positive example of an older American who was more interested in them than in the politics of their countries. At least I get that impression.

I plan to take pictures of them all before we go our separate ways and they will be posted here. Promise.

Four more weeks to Labor Day, but who's counting? Um, me.

And so it goes.

Dance Caturday

Yes, and I Remember it, too. Oy!

Work to be done here, so more later.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day of the Locusts, er' Crazies

Where is Karen Black or Donald Sutherland when you need them?

Great swarms of crazies were everywhere today. The day was dark and drizzly so they were wreaking havoc among the locals.

See, when it rains on their vacation, it is our fault. If they can't get into a particular movie (because other crazies got there first) it's our fault. And if they can't find a parking spot at the Outlet centers, well, they simply block the entire right lane of the highway until a spot opens and then fist fights break out because two crazies swear they each saw the spot first. Oh, and yes, that's our fault too.

Traffic was bumper to bumper from Ocean City, MD to Lewes, DE and that's our fault, too. One brain dead, painfully over sunburned idiot whined about the traffic asking why it was so heavy and took so long to drive up to the outlets and movies. I told him it was because his idea was not original, that everybody else decided to do the same thing. He just looked at me with wide, vacant eyes. Well, Duh!

Sirens wailed all day as accidents brought out police, rescue and fire folks to attend to more results of the crazy.

I left work at job #1 at 3:30 pm, I got in at 4:45 pm - one hour and fifteen minutes to drive 6 miles back to the apartment. This is a record of some sort, but I don't want a prize. Just pray to get back in one piece without incident.

As I've written before, I hope to G*d that legislation will be passed banning drivers from using hand-held cell phones and/or texting.

Something needs to be done, the crazies are out of control assuming these two dangerous practices are their "right" not privilege.

I got your rights right here, asshat!

A customer of mine - a very handsome man - told me that when he and the family come down on holiday they turn off the cell phones (only use the land line at the house) and remove their watches. Immediately!!! They eat when they are hungry, beach it when they are in the mood, read or watch a movie when weather is uncooperative, and sleep when they are tired. Works for me. Wish he'd bottle that and give it to the crazies who have no clue as to how to relax on vacation.

Hmmm! I smell olives and that means a martini is in the vicinity. Yes!!!


And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

DNC: "Enough of the Mob"

Listening to clips of various town hall meetings yesterday on NPR - not to mention their own stoopid running commentary - I wondered if anyone was going to go after these crazies. Then this arrived in my inbox last night.

Now, when are the 90 percent of those attending, who really have valid questions on the issues going to stand up and out shout them or have them ejected from the meetings?

We all know what this is really about. There is a black man in the White House and that is unacceptable. Plain and simple.

Maybe more later...busy week.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

(Almost) One of Those Days

An altercation at job #1 this afternoon almost ruined my entire day. Actually, I would have let it ruin the day. Fortunately, a little help from old friends brought me back from the edge.

There are certain things that make me see red and all rational thinking goes out the window. This incident triggered indirectly, one of those things. As I replayed the incident driving back to the apartment I began to get really angry then sad that I allowed myself to be sucked into such questionable behavior.

As soon as I arrived it was clear that the quiet evening I imagined was in real jeopardy, absentmindedly turned on the CD player and promptly stopped in my tracks. As if on cue, the song "Think about Your Troubles" (written by Harry Nilsson for an animated TV special titled "The Point") began to play, and being sung by Holly Near it forced me to sit down immediately and listen to the lyrics. Although I've known them by heart for years they took on new meaning and in context to the incident gave me a whole 'nother perspective.

Thought I'd share. I love Harry Nilsson:

Sit beside the breakfast table
Think about your troubles
Pour yourself a cup of tea
Then think about the bubbles
You can take your teardrops
And drop 'em in a teacup
Take 'em down to the river side
And throw 'em over the side
To be swept up by a current
Then taken to the ocean
To be eaten by some fishes
Who were eaten by some fishes
And swallowed by a whale
Who grew so old
He decomposed

He died and left his body
To the bottom of the ocean
Now everybody knows
That when a body decomposes
The basic elements are give back to the ocean
And the sea does what it oughta
And soon the salty water
Which is not too good for drinkin'
'Cause it tastes just like a teardrop
So we run it through a filter
And it comes out of a faucet
Where it pours into a teapot
Which is just about to bubble
Think about your Troubles

Thanks to Harry and Holly, I have reclaimed that quiet evening after all.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Teach Drinking?

As the blogging day began on a drinking theme, I thought I'd run this interesting article up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes.

From The Atlantic, by John McCardell

High-school seniors tend to hold romantic notions of college life: newfound freedoms, enlightenment, keg-fueled free-for-alls. But the last attraction has lately achieved a new prominence: at one major university, student visits to the emergency room for alcohol-related treatment have increased by 84 percent in the past three years. Between 1993 and 2001, 18-to-20-year-olds showed a 56 percent jump in the rate of heavy-drinking episodes. Underage drinkers now consume more than 90 percent of their alcohol during binges. These alarming rates have life-threatening consequences: each year, underage drinking kills some 5,000 young people and contributes to roughly 600,000 injuries and 100,000 cases of sexual assault among college students.

The way our society addresses this problem has been about as effective as a parachute that opens on the second bounce. Clearly, state laws mandating a minimum drinking age of 21 haven’t eliminated drinking by young adults—they’ve simply driven it underground, where life and health are at greater risk. Merely adjusting the legal age up or down doesn’t work—we’ve tried that already and failed. But federal law has stifled the ability to conceive of more creative solutions in the only place where the Constitution says such debate should happen—in the state house—because any state that sets its drinking age lower than 21 forfeits 10 percent of its federal highway funds. This is called an “incentive.”

So what might states, freed from this federal penalty, do differently? They might license 18-year-olds—adults in the eyes of the law—to drink, provided they’ve completed high school, attended an alcohol-education course (that consists of more than temperance lectures and scare tactics), and kept a clean record. They might even mandate alcohol education at a young age. And they might also adopt zero-tolerance laws for drunk drivers of all ages, and require ignition interlocks on their cars. Such initiatives, modeled on driver’s education, might finally reverse the trend of consumption by young people at ever earlier ages. Binge drinking is as serious a crisis today as drunk driving was two decades ago. It’s time we tackled the problem like adults.

John McCardell is a president emeritus and a professor of history at Middlebury College.
Growing up in New Orleans beer and wine were always in the house, with a fine Bourbon added to the mix during the winter holidays and Mardi Gras. Everything ended with Lent. I was told that if I wanted to try anything to do whatever it was in the house with everyone around. Don't be ashamed. It would come to light sooner or later, anyway so save everyone the embarrassment.A good rule, at least to me.

When there was a Crawfish or Crab Boil I was always given a beer - or two as I got older. Nothing was ever denied. During the holiday season it was not uncommon the my family to enjoy a highball and by age 14, I was enjoying one, as well. Truth be told, nobody in the family had a drinking problem - it was all taken for granted that certain foods and seasons called for certain elements to give more pleasure to the family as a whole. I realize that if this was family tradition in some states today, my parents would be arrested and I'd be a ward of the state. Thank G*d for a Cajun childhood.

As a result of this I suppose, unique upbringing, I didn't feel the need to binge drink. Oh sure, I've had days and nights of excesses - both food and drink - so no, I ain't no angel, cher.

When I moved to NYC the drinking age was 18 and for years there was pressure from the neighboring states of New Jersey, and Connecticut to raise the legal age to 21, as was the law in those states. The argument was that 18 to 20 year olds were flocking to NYC where they could drink legally and those states were losing revenue. To me that didn't hold water. Since they couldn't legally drink in their home state anyway, how did this cause a revenue drop? Never did get a satisfactory answer to that one. The prudes finally won out and the age was bumped up to 21. I forget what the year was, and who cares, anyway?

What I found most infuriating and unfair was that it was OK for an 18 year old teenager to go to Viet Nam and die as 'a man' for his country, but at home he was still 'a child', legally speaking. Just my two-cents, plain.

Well, Cheers!

Note: The image above is a Sazerac cocktail, the official cocktail of New Orleans. If it wasn't so damned hot and humid I would have one this evening. However, I think a G & T would be a better choice.

Maybe more later. Maybe not.


Drunken Caturday

I missed the Drinking Liberally gathering on Thursday at the Parrot, having to work later than expected. And this was the first to be held 'downstate' as they say. Maybe there aren't enough liberal bloggers in the county to warrant such events. Still, it would have been nice to put a face on some of the bloggers I read almost daily.

Click the image to embiggen. As usual, it's from here.

More later.
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