Monday, August 28, 2006

D'oh!

As I was adding a link or two to the right, I accidentally screwed up my HTML, so I had to redo the template. I like this one a little better (the colors are more Ravens-esque and less Deadskins-like), although now I'd like to learn how to customize it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Good Walk Unspoiled

On my list of links you will see one that says "What the heck is a volksmarch?" Well, let me tell you.

On Saturday I endured an unusual 30-minute traffic jam as I drove west to Hagerstown. More working-class and industrial than my current home, "Hagerspatch" nevertheless has a rugged charm to it. And to celebrate its annual Augustoberfest, the local volksmarch club had a 10K (6.2 mile) walk through the city. You follow the directions a la The Amazing Race.

The walk passed the quaint city market, complete with goats outside; a seedy hotel with a seedier lady outside shopping for, um, clients; the railroad tracks, several times; the city park and various museums therein, plus plenty of ducks, geese, and Cygni; and the Jonathan Hager House, for whom the place is named.

The walk took me about an hour and 45 minutes. I passed a few people on the way (although it's decidedly NOT a race), including a young couple who were both in sandals. I would not walk 6+ miles in sandals.

Actually, I made the walk a little longer; I turned the wrong way at the last street. But aside from the excessive sweat, a little chafing, and some sore arches, I had fun.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's OK to deface signs

. . . as long as they slam Bush, as Michelle Malkin points out. (BDS = Bush Derangement Syndrome.) I love the sign at the bottom, but if that's real, that has to go too. Sure that didn't come from Reuters?

There have been many of these anti- Bush stop signs in my town, which fortunately the DPW must have taken care of because they didn't last long. Last I checked, vandalism is still a crime.

Also, I know PETA (or someone who supports them) has stickers that are designed just to deface stop signs; they say "WEARING FUR", for example. Some yahoo has also put up an "Impeach Him" sign above I-270 southbound on a walkway near the Capital Beltway.

Finally, take those stupid Kerry-Edwards stickers off your vehicles. It's been two years. There will not be a do-over. You lost. Deal with it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A not-so-victimless crime

Those of you who are (trying to be) proud of your abortions (or those you've helped arrange) should read this essay by Julia Gorin, which I first saw on Michelle Malkin's site. Gorin does a great job of making those who are covering their ears and screaming "Lalalalalala, I can't hear you!" look seriously at the ramifications of this crime. Who around you would you not have had around? Thank your mother that she didn't abort you.

And it's okay to regret your abortion, or one you facilitated; there is healing.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Getting topical (?)

With everything in the news these days:

  • The foiled terrorist plot in the UK
  • The defeat of Israel in its war with LebanonHezbollah
  • The confession (or so we think) of Jon-Benet's killer
  • The ruling on the NSA's eavesdropping
I have no choice but to respond to these with . . .

The return of the Worst. Album. Covers. Ever! (Someone had some of these up at work today.)

Non Sequitur Theater will return after these messages . . .

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Weekend Tidbits

It was a good weekend.

The weather was gorgeous and I didn't have to work, but I DID do a good bit of driving. Drove to Cranford, New Jersey on Friday afternoon with a couple friends to a church-related function. Found this really neat park (Nomahegan) which we all decided we wanted to take home with us. I sat and communed with the ducks, geese, and even a couple of Cygni. Drove back on Saturday evening, fortunately missing a 20-mile delay NB on the NJ Turnpike.

On Sunday, my wife and I were slated to go to a christening party for the daughter of one of my broadcasting school classmates. Through a series of events which I hope she will explain on her blog, she was unable to go. So I went stag.

It turned out to be quite an enjoyable pool party, even thought the only other person I knew was my friend. She was the youngest student in my class, and I was the oldest. Wound up playing some intense games of water volleyball, during which I hit bottom. Literally. I dove for a ball that was falling toward an open spot. I managed to save it, but I went under and smacked my elbow on the bottom. Ow. Ow. Ow. The other folks called me "Matrix" because of how slow some of my movements were during the games.

And now my wife and I are back together. Time to catch a nap before my alarm goes off at 4 AM. Goodnight.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More from my past

Something a little lighter:

I was putzing around on retroland.com (which used to be yesterdayland.com) and stumbled onto their message boards. And boy, did some synapses get jogged into place!

Remember ordering paperback books from Scholastic Books in grade school? These folks did.

As one of them said, you'd pick your books off a list, then order with the money (that you begged from Mom and Dad) by giving the slip to the teacher. Then you'd forget about it for a while.

Six to ten weeks later, the books would arrive, and the teacher would put them in stacks with each person's slip on top. It'd be like Christmas.

Some of the books I got:

  • Most of the Henry Huggins and Otis Spofford books by Beverly Cleary.
  • Transcripted Disney movies like That Darn Cat and The World's Greatest Athlete.
  • The Encyclopedia Brown series (I could never solve the dumb things) and Two Minute Mysteries.
  • Baseball Stars of 1973.
  • Peanuts books.
  • True Classroom Flubs and Fluffs. (That was actually my brother's.)
I never had it as my own, but I remember reading 100 Pounds of Popcorn, how this kid finds a 100-pound bag of popcorn that fell off a truck and tries numerous ways to take advantage of it once he's allowed to keep it.

Along the same lines, does anyone remember SRA kits, which apparently still exist? Boy, did THAT turn into a classroom competition! I only remember one in particular: "225 Pitches", about how Giants pitcher Juan Marichal pitched an entire 17-inning ballgame.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Damn, I still miss him

It hit me again tonight: My ride to or from work, whether the Metro is involved or not, takes me right past where my friend John lived. A year and a half after his death, I still miss the guy. :'-(

A couple things I didn't mention in the above link:

John didn't have the easiest life. His father left his family when he was young. He was born with only nine fingers, and he was legally blind. But he never used any of that as an excuse. His mother was a saint, every bit as Christian as he was agnostic.

He was fiercely loyal to us who were his friends. He never really had a girlfriend, but he was very close to a couple women from college and remained friends with them even after they'd gotten married.

But he had a lot of pain, much of which was caused by some of the above issues. And I get the feeling he was on the lonely and depressive side in the days leading up to his death.

Horizon to horizon, memory written on the wind
Fading away, like an hourglass, grain by grain
Swept away like voices in a hurricane
In a vapor trail

God rest your soul, John.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Pros and Cons of Maryland

I've lived in Maryland for all but three years and three months of my life: the three years we spent in the UK when I was small, and the three months I was working in Tampa as a contractor for Special Operations Command.

What's to like about Maryland? Well:

  • I know it's a slogan, but it really is America in Miniature. There are mountains hills here out west; plenty of farmland in the central and eastern portions; all the urban and suburban life you can handle in Baltimore, DC, and their suburbs; the Chesapeake Bay; the slower pace of life on the Eastern Shore; and the Atlantic Ocean. And at most, it takes 5 hours to drive from one end to the other; not much is ridiculously far from anything else.
  • Its rich Catholic heritage, combined with a tradition of religious freedom.
  • Plenty of outdoor activities from hiking to bicycling to Civil War history to refuges of serenity like the Grotto of Lourdes replica in Emmitsburg.
  • Speaking of history, towns like Frederick, Ellicott City, Annapolis, and Berlin, to name a few. (And nearby towns like Shepherdstown, WV and Gettysburg, PA.)
  • Although it's disappearing to a degree, a strong spirit of community in areas like Baltimore.
  • The Ravens, of course.
What's not to like?
  • The ridiculously high cost of living here. Our closing costs are the second highest in the nation. The only house we can afford is the one we're living in. And as nice a county as this is, its average weekly wages are the second lowest in the state. Any wonder why nearly half the population of this county commutes to DC every day?
  • The lockstep economic and social liberalism that rules--and ruins--this state, courtesy of just three jurisdictions: Baltimore City, Prince George's County, and the "limousine liberals" of Montgomery County. Elitism, thy name is Maryland. (I don't expect Republican Governor Ehrlich to get re-elected; he won't have Michael Steele's help this time, and he also has to deal with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a far more polished campaigner than Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 2002. Then again, the tree in my front yard could campaign better than Townsend. Ehrlich's tenure has consisted of discovering what a one-party state this is.)
  • The crime in Baltimore City, which neither Martin O'Malley nor his predecessors did anything about. That's what forced me out of the city in 1994, almost certainly never to return to live.
  • The gridlock. Thanks to NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) and BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) in Montgomery County, we'll never have a comprehensive solution to traffic problems down toward DC. And that's just the way the NIMBYs and BANANAs want it.
So I take the good with the bad in Maryland.

MTV is 25. *yawn*

What am I missing on MTV by not having cable? Not much.

The only things I used to enjoy on MTV were Beavis and Butthead (and even then, only when they were ragging on videos) and the Rock 'n Jock basketball and softball games. Oh, and there was once a good rockumentary about Yes.

Can we say "lowest common denominator"?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Science as Religion

A momentary lapse into the deep end:

Yep, we've got to destroy those embryos for stem cell research. Especially when they still haven't helped anyone, while adult stem cells have assisted many:

Based on the published science, there are 72 maladies for which human patients have received some benefit (which is not the same as being "cured") from adult stem cell or umbilical cord blood interventions. Meanwhile, embryonic stem cells have yet to demonstrate any human therapeutic use.

Guess science isn't always about research and the facts.

Read the whole Wesley J. Smith article.

The Ass Saving Kit

. . . or, as it is better known by its acronym, ASK.

When I go into a store, I'm a typical male in a couple ways. I go in, get what I need, and get out. And in the process of so doing, I'm reluctant to ask for any help; I figure I should be smart enough to find it myself. Most of the time, I do.

The other day, I was in one of those buyout discount stores called Ollie's Bargain Outlet (I take it you have similar stores where you are) where I picked up a pack of light bulbs for our living room chandelier. Or so I thought. Turned out they were the wrong size.

So I went back, checked the shelves again, and decided there were no bulbs there in the correct size. I went to get a refund, but the cashier told me they had those. She showed me that I had walked right past a bin in the center of the floor with all sorts of bulbs, including the ones I needed. Okay, I technically didn't ASK, but if I had just stuck with what I knew, I wouldn't have gotten anywhere.

Today, I got a haircut in the beautiful town of Thurmont, noted for its proximity to Camp David. Around the corner from the barber shop is a quaint Ace hardware store run by one of the town commissioners. I looked all over the store for those suction cup hangers, but couldn't find them. So I broke down and asked, certain they didn't have them. Of course, they did.

Why is it so hard for me to ask for help? And don't get me started with directions. :-)

Oh, one other thing about those discount stores: They're often stocked with team logo apparel from teams that are nowhere near the area (the Seattle Seahawks, for example). I wonder whether Seattle-area discounters are trying to unload, say, Baltimore Ravens merchandise.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Yo, Summer! Come back!

It's August already. Sure, the years go by more quickly as I get older, but that fact doesn't bother me so much; actually, I can't wait for football season to start.

It seems that with each passing year, I get to enjoy summer less and less. Because of my commute to my job (and its attendant crazy schedule), I don't get outside very much, much less my wife and I together. We do belong to the local Y, but the pool is usually quite crowded, not to mention indoors. Other pools in the area are (rightly) for the kids. We've been biking a few times, but it's a chore to load the bikes onto the car and take them to the C&O Canal or somesuch. And we're not planning on taking a vacation this year.

But there's good news: Some of the better events in the area have yet to occur, such as the Great Frederick Fair next month and "In The Street" and the Myersville Trolley Festival in October. Perhaps we'll also get to take in a free concert in the park sometime before the season winds down.