Friday, July 31, 2015

A Liberating Experience

I used to wake up in the morning to somewhere between 15-30 emails.  Not from family and friends, either.  Just miscellaneous crap.  Every time someone commented on a Facebook thread that I had commented on it would generate an email to let me know.  We briefly were house hunting in South Carolina in 2012.  Three years later and I'm still getting emails from Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Zillow.com.  Emails from car parts suppliers.  Emails from ammo suppliers.  Emails from AARP.  Emails from gun ranges.  Emails from Steeler online forums.  And on and on and on.

I finally realized that I was getting email from anyone from whom I had ever purchased anything online or from whom I may have requested a catalog.  So I made the decision to take matters into my own hands.  Yeah, it's easy enough to just delete all the crap, but why bother if I can just not receive it at all.  Deactivating my Facebook account eliminated a lot of it.  Then I started checking all the crap emails for the fine print at the bottom where they have the "unsubscribe" link.  It's amazing how far some companies will go to keep your email active in their system.  On some sites it's necessary to check a bunch of boxes.  On others you have to uncheck the boxes.  They make you concentrate to make sure you are really accomplishing what you intend.

Slowly but surely I started making progress.  Now when I wake in the morning I have, on average, 1-3 emails.  Emails that I actually want to receive and read.  There are still a few that need to go, but my days of poring over useless crap are over.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bed Time

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

I’m a night person. Always have been. I’m pretty sure this is due in part to the fact that my parents were still making me go to bed at 7pm when I was eight years old. Why? Maybe my pediatrician told then that growing children need twelve hours of sleep a night. Maybe my parents liked to go to bed at 8pm. Maybe they just didn’t like me. I have no idea. Imagine if you will lying in bed in the middle of summer two hours before sunset trying to fall asleep. The windows are wide open and you can hear all the kids with normal pediatricians still outside playing tag. Oh, and it’s hot and there’s an electric fan doing its best to lower the temperature of the bedroom from 92 all the way down to 90. Good times. Good times.

I think that my late night habit grew out of always worrying about what I might be missing. It always seemed that even when my parents finally pushed back bed time I always had friends that got to stay up later than I did. They were getting to see that last hour of prime time television or even, holy cow, Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Obviously you realize this was back before you could watch whatever you wanted whenever you wanted, although I’m willing to bet it’s not nearly as much fun watching Jimmy Fallon at 4 in the afternoon.

For me, all this added up to the belief that sleeping was a waste of time. Who needed to sleep? Stupid pediatricians ruined my childhood and I decided to prove them wrong. One Friday night, age twelve, I decided to just skip sleeping. After my parents were in bed and out cold I sneaked myself into the living room, turned on the TV and watched it until there was nothing left to watch. Yes, also back there in the dark ages television stopped late at night and did not start again until the following morning. Hard to believe, huh? The last show ended, they played the national anthem while you watched a film of the American flag waving in the wind and then…nothing. At that point I turned on the radio and listened to the all night disc jockey make jokes and read car dealer commercials between playing the hits. Eventually the sky began to lighten. I had made it until morning. Still alive and doing fine, except for the incredible buzzing in my head. I was probably just in desperate need of sleep, but I had met the challenge and I never needed to do it again.

The best part of eventually (allegedly) growing up was that no one could tell me when to go to sleep except me, although having to hold down a full time job which, on more occasions than I would like, had to begin at 5 in the morning certainly got in the way of my perfect day. Now that gainful employment is a part of my past I seem to have settled into a rather comfortable 10am to 2am period of consciousness. Unfortunately the overnight rest period is filled with a series of wake up calls some of which find me filling the time sending emails on my iPhone. People frequently remark to me when they see the time stamp. The standard answer is always “we never close.” And I’ve always figured that anyone who can actually sleep through the night by time they’re in their late sixties is probably an alcoholic. Warren Zevon said, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” and at this point that seems a very reasonable time to catch up.     

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hero Of The Week

Coast Guard Damage Controlman 3rd Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal
Age:  24
Tactical Law Enforcement Team South
Detachment 403
Patrol Boat Firebolt
Died 24 April, 2004
Persian Gulf

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Lousy Business Plan

Since the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage rights it seems every week brings a new story from somewhere in the country of a baker (florist, caterer, DJ, venue) that refuses to provide services to gay couples.  They all cite the same reason, doing so would violate their religious liberty.  So you're admitting that the religious group to which you belong promotes, condones and tolerates discrimination.  I don't know why anyone would voluntarily belong to such a group, but apparently many people do.

Here's some news for those of you refusing service to gay couples.  Your cake (flowers, music, food, venue) is not necessary for the marriage to take place.  The couple can always find a different supplier of whatever it is that you deny them.  YOU ARE THE HIRED HELP.  The marriage is legal whether your cake (flowers, music, food, venue) is used or not.  You have turned down business, and revenue, because of your bigotry.  To me that doesn't sound like a very sound business plan.

However, I hope all of you who discriminate in providing your services will continue to run to the local media in your area and make sure your beliefs are on the local TV news and in the local paper.  Keep putting "No Gays Allowed" signs in your windows. By all means keep filing lawsuits.  Publicizing your ignorance and bigotry will hopefully lead to fair minded people in your vicinity withholding their business from you.  Maybe decide to get that donut and coffee somewhere else.  Maybe buy flowers for their spouse somewhere else.  Make sure their friends and family and co-workers don't schedule a meeting or social function at the venue that discriminates. 

Everyone in America is entitled to their religious beliefs and to practice them freely.  When those beliefs lead to discrimination, they need to see there are consequences to their behavior.  We can all do our part.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Yes, I'm A Snitch

I recently detailed how our neighborhood Civic Association had awarded us their Yard of the Month award for June.  Obviously we take pride in keeping our yard, house and property clean, well kept and maintained.  One of our neighbors makes no effort with his property.  The house, in reasonable condition when he bought it many years ago, now looks on the verge of collapse.  Siding is falling off in several places, gutters are loose, vegetation is growing from his chimney and most of the roof.  Another neighbor, situated for a better view, has reported seeing raccoons entering and exiting a hole in his roof.  I can only imagine the condition of the inside.  It is so bad that if he were to sell the house I'm sure new owners would have to do a complete demo.

Several years ago the grass in his yard had grown above waist high.  Finally having had enough, I went to the city's website and found that the Department of Public Services had a form where citizens could report private property with overgrown grass and weeds.  I reported him and two days later actually saw a city car parked in front of his house.  He was cited and within a week the yard had been cut.  For a few years he has used a weed whacker to keep his front yard at a reasonable level; a lawn mower probably isn't necessary because I don't think there is anything but weeds in the yard.  This year there has been nothing cut and again the weeds are waist high.  At least they partially block views of the home.

Last night I went back to the city's web site and ratted him out again.  I'm happy to do so and I don't care if he knows it's me.  All he has to do is the minimum and I'll leave it alone.  Now if there were just a way to prove the house is a hazard and have it declared uninhabitable.  I would chip in to have it torn down.

It's Started Already

 I hate to say I told you so, but a columnist for the National Review has called Sen. Bernie Sanders a Nazi.  The guy whose family died in the Holocaust.  And so it begins.


http://www.vox.com/2015/7/20/9007815/bernie-sanders-national-socialist

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Even More Random Thoughts Than Usual

By The Big Guy
SeƱor Contributor

Hop into my Uber car for a quick spin around my mind. Maybe we’ll hold up a liquor store on the way…

> Until this week I honestly thought Ashley Madison was an online ladies clothing store. I bet there’s a lot of folks out there right now who wish they could say the same. Aside from that oldest profession thing and that what you consider to be sexual relations thing, I suppose it was only a matter of time until someone figured out a way to monetize cheating. And remember, we’re not talking about the chemistry exam here. All that said, if they can hack the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Home Depot and Target and Michaels and Google and Dairy Queen and J.P. Morgan Chase and even P.F. Chang’s for gosh sakes, how do you, for a single second imagine that someone isn’t going to crack into Ashley Madison’s servers? Were you trysting when they promised you it couldn’t happen? 

> I don’t know where you’re from but where I’m from the way you know it's really summertime is when evenings in the backyard are filled with fireflies. Pretty. 

> Donald Trump is the next logical step for the far right wing of a political party that has become a family of inbreeds. And here is America, slowing down on the political highway to get a good look at the car wreck on the side of the road. When will they realize that this is not a reality show? It’s real life with real consequences. And that concludes tonight’s sermonette. Maybe we should just skip the liquor store thing. 

> I never expected this but multitasking for me has become playing solitaire on my iPhone while I watch television. Very productive.

> When the guy at the grocery store tells me it's in the soda aisle I imagine I will turn the corner and discover a very long row of little round glass top tables for two with wire back chairs, each one populated with guys in white shirts, seersucker jackets and straw hats and young ladies in long white linen dresses and matching parasols. On each table a tall glass filled with ice cream, flavored topping, seltzer water and two straws - a soda. But when I actually turn the corner all I see is pop, boxes and boxes of pop, which is what I was after in the first place.

> People always say 'it's just like riding a bike' because you never forget how to ride a bike once you learn. So how come putting names to faces isn't just like riding a bike?

Okay, here we are. Thank you for riding with Uber. No tipping necessary. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hero Of The Week

Army Sgt. Elijah Wah Wong
Age:  42
363rd Explosive Ordnance Company
Arizona Army National Guard
Died 9 February, 2004
Sinjar, Iraq

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Getting Clipped And Other Thoughts

That's the love of our lives, Abby, pictured on Saturday last just after her quarterly trip to the groomers.  I'm not usually one to complain about the cost of things; if I think something is overpriced I can always walk away.  In my opinion, dog grooming is expensive.  I don't know how much training goes into becoming a pet groomer, nor do I know how much that training costs.  I do know our groomer is getting $46 plus tip to groom a 16lb. wirehaired dachshund.  My groomer gets $14 to groom a 210 lb. adult.   I suppose I should just be happy we don't have a Great Dane.

Speaking of clipping, over the last month, due to nearly daily rain, we have been cutting our grass every 3-4 days.  And the temps have been in the upper 80's with high humidity, which is why I try to get it cut in the morning, before the heat of the day.  Could we let it go a few days longer?  Probably, but dachshunds are low to the ground and if we let the grass go little Abby comes inside after her early (6:00 a.m.) morning constitutional with her chest soaked.  Even after toweling her off, she's still pretty damp.  Then Mrs. Grumpy isn't happy when the wet dog returns to bed.

Here's how things work in the modern world if you're 21 yrs. old.  Our granddaughter, a recent college graduate, decided she wants to live in California, at least for awhile.  Online, and all online, she found a roommate looking to share an apartment three blocks from the beach, registered with a nanny agency that will immediately start trying to place her with a family when she arrives and secured a volunteer job at Planned Parenthood.  I wish I had her balls.  I've spent all but about eight years of my life in the same zip code.

I hope Donald Trump stays in the Republican primary race for the long haul.  As long as he's around to say stupid things, the American Taliban candidates will be focusing their energy on attacking him and each other.  Oh, and Scott Walker says he's "not sure" if being gay is choice or not.  I'd love to see how that plays in a general election.  That and his record in Wisconsin on almost any issue from jobs, to women's rights, to collective bargaining to education.  Ask a University of Wisconsin grad their opinion on the governor.

While we're on politics, look at Sen. Bernie Sanders drawing large and enthusiastic crowds everywhere he goes.  He's an appealing guy, plain spoken, a populist who projects a no bullshit attitude.  And he doesn't come with all of Hillary's baggage.  It's highly doubtful he can win the nomination and I honestly hope he doesn't.  Sen. Sanders is Jewish.  I personally believe this country will elect a woman and probably a Muslim president before they elect a Jew.  And when a Jew does become president, I hope I'm gone.  If you think the jokes and memes and hate directed at a black president have been bad, things will really get ugly with a Jew in the White House.

Friday, July 17, 2015

I Went To High School With These People

  • This is a screen cap of a conversation that took place on Facebook over two days.  I should have just moved on, but couldn't help myself.   I am not blacking out the names of those posting since they put it on Facebook for all the world to see, so they shouldn't have a problem standing by their statements.  If any of them do, sue me.  You don't know how badly I wanted to respond to the last comment, but I counted to 10 and walked away.  The original poster, Jim was a classmate of mine from the 3rd grade through high school and arguably my best friend in elementary school.  The others were not in my class, but I know all of them.  I like the comment at the bottom by Chuck Mitchell; "...at least two of my grandfathers...".  I guess in Kentucky it's possible to have more than two grandfathers.  Hell, his grandfather could also be his father.

    **Important update:  As of last night my Facebook account has been deactivated.  You can follow me on Twitter @Grumpyolddog1



    I guess eliminating the Confederate flag in South Carolina was not enough to overcome racism in the U.S. There is now a movement afoot to remove statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. This should do the job for sure.
    But just in case it doesn't we need to be ready to close or rename the 10 army bases named for Confederate generals (I counted 10, there may be more). Specifically, Ft. Rucker, Ft. Benning, Ft. Gordon, Ft. Polk, Camp Beauregard, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Hood, Ft. A.P. Hill, Ft. Lee and Ft. Pickett.
    These need to be renamed for civil rights leaders who served in the Army. I can't think of any offhand, but there must be a few. This would end all racism for good!
  • Jennifer Leas Coughlin Oh if it were just that easy! Wouldn't that be nice?
  • Fritz Wise Ft. Sharpton just doesn't just have same ring.
  • Stu Graff That's not the point. Why were military installations named for generals who led an army of insurrection against the U.S. government? An insurrection whose purpose, at its' core, was to preserve slavery.
  • Stu Graff And if you're looking for civil rights leaders who served in the military, Google is your friend. No generals, but they would be hard to come by in a segregated military.
  • Chuck Mitchell Give 'em hell Jim. Just ordered a "Stars and Bars" flag. Wish I could find a ball cap with it on. Oh, I am not a racist; but at least two of my grandfathers hailed from Kentucky. It's my heritage. Also, last I recall, I have an unfettered right to freedom of speech, free from the concern of political correctness. Enough is enough !!!
    Like · Reply · 1 · 20 hrs

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Barrel Brigade

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

I live in a suburb of a very big city. Traffic here pretty much sucks round the clock. Okay, I’m being unfair. It only sucks twenty-two out of the twenty-four hours in the day. This includes weekends. And I know we don’t even have it the worst. I feel for the people in the D.C. area who have to contend with the infamous beltway; or the folks in Los Angeles who daily navigate the Santa Monica, Hollywood and San Diego freeways. These people deserve special commendation as well as free lifetime psychological care.

With our highway system comes a certain amount of downtime for repair work. It makes bad situations worse but it’s a necessary evil. Can’t live with it, can’t run down the guys doing the work. It’s years in the slammer and a major fine to pay. So we deal with it. Doesn’t mean we enjoy seeing the boys in the barrel brigade. In good weather cities this stuff goes on all year. Those of us in normal towns that experience winter know the work is confined to roughly March through November. Getting the work done in nine months just makes matters worse.

That’s why it’s so lovely to get away to a small town for vacation. That’s where I’ve been recently: a city with a population of just fourteen hundred and a metropolitan area about ten times that size. Heaven. Wide open spaces and wide open roads, sometimes as wide as two lanes in each direction and a left turn lane all the way down the middle! Now imagine me traveling this road at the breathtaking rate of one mile per hour (yes, really) for a distance of two miles wondering, since I had two hours to wonder in great depth, what the hell could have caused such a terrible backup in my quaint little metropolis.

There are situations when the word “apoplectic” is just the right word. When we finally got close enough the first thing we saw was a left flashing arrow. Next was a line of striped orange barrels taking out the right lane of traffic. Then, at the rate of one mile per hour we passed four guys laying a sidewalk in front of a Taco Bell. Apparently as a safety precaution they took it upon themselves to shunt all the traffic passing down the main highway of my lovely little town into a single lane causing a miles long, hours long backup. I say they took it upon themselves because I couldn’t imagine a traffic manager, or streets department manager or a chief of police (and in a small town all three jobs could have been held by one individual) allowing this to happen. Clearly there were much less disruptive steps that could have been taken to get the job done. I wanted to jump from the car and throttle them all, not for inconveniencing me and the other occupants of my vehicle, as well as the other fourteen hundred people in the town, but just for being so incredibly stupid.  

On our way home last night, passing through our big city I once again encountered the striped orange barrels taking out a lane of traffic on the undersized, over utilized four lane freeway near home. More repair work, dammit. The two express lanes in the middle of the road, which could have picked up some of the slack, were for no apparent reason, shut down. I guess a city’s size has no bearing on the stupidity with which they handle traffic situations.

Thanks for letting me vent. Sadly, it doesn’t help. Idiots.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hero Of The Week

Army 2nd Lt. Seth J. Dvorin
Age:  24
Battery B
3rd Battalion
62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment
Died 3 February, 2004
Iskandariyah, Iraq