Thursday, September 28, 2006

Yum

Been a busy week work-wise.

We had a wonderful dinner out last night at Brewer's Alley. On Thursday nights, they have a most reasonable lobster or New York strip steak special. Man, was that lobster good. First time I ever had an entire one. A bit crunchy, but . . .

Which reminds me of something I was subjected to when I worked at Gateway years ago, made possible by a grant from the Ridiculous Thrash Metal section of the Department of Way Too Much Free Time (TM): Lobster Magnet. Sponsored by Schloshd Beer.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ravens - Week 3

Whew. As Robin would say, "Holy heart failure!"

Thank you, Matt Stover, and your ageless leg for bringing the Ravens back from the brink and escaping Cleveland with a 15-14 win and a 3-0 start. A 52-yard field goal at age 38. Not. too. shabby.

I didn't get to see this game, but I heard it. And for three quarters, it was all Browns as they scampered to a 14-3 lead. Let's face it: no matter how lousy their team may be, Cleveland always gives its AFC North foes a hard time, especially at home. And QB Charlie Frye looked rather good; the Ravens defensive backs were confused at times.

In the 4th quarter, the Raven offense finally woke up and pulled to within 14-12, but it seemed to be all for naught as Frye was leading the Browns straight down the field. A TD would have sealed the deal. Instead, he threw an ill-advised pass that Chris McAlister stepped in front of in the end zone. Steve McNair led the Ravens back the other way, but couldn't get any closer than the 52-yard attempt that Stover nailed. A fumble on the Browns' next play from scrimage ended it.

If we can get some more consistency on offense, I think we'll be hard to deal with. Defensively, it could be 2000 all over again. Next week: a tough foe in the Chargers.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Another Fall Morning

I was grateful to have gotten about five hours of sleep. The room was rather comfortable for being a Super 8. I woke up and decided to take a walk around the north side of Hanover, PA. Unlike the previous few days which had been hot and humid, September 23, 1995 was cloudy and cool. I got back and found my friend John awake. We met up with a couple other guys and had breakfast at Shoney's.

It seemed so surreal. As I went back to the hotel and climbed into my tux, I wasn't completely sure this day had arrived. After all, everything I'd been doing for the last several months had been leading to this day. And here it was.

I met Ed and we climbed in my car. We'd been best friends since childhood, and he'd gotten married the previous year. John rode over with Ed's wife. In driving to the church, I actually made a wrong turn and started heading westbound out of Hanover. But I quickly realized my error and turned around.

It was when I saw the church that I got nervous. It's.Really.Gonna.Happen. We headed into the sacristy and met with my uncle, a Catholic deacon who would officiate the ceremony within the Mass. I got over my last bundle of nerves.

It was time. We walked out to the top of the aisle. And there she was, standing with her dad, behind all her bridesmaids. She was more beautiful than ever. On the videotape, I'm clearly heard to say "Oh, my. . . she's gorgeous."

I was almost in a trance as she walked up to me. She had her glasses on because she said she wanted to see me there. I made her dad give me a hug; he's not really into that sort of thing.

During the Mass, we either stood or knelt. Fortunately, no one put "HELP ME" or anything like that on my shoes. Sandy's aunt cried as she read our first reading. Our good friend Vince read the second. Then the Gospel, preceded by the worst version of the "Celtic Alleluia" anyone has ever heard; I was miked up and my voice trembled more than the San Andreas Fault. Nik, our ringbearer, couldn't sit still either. Either my brother or John were ready to clock him.

Then the homily, given by my uncle. His most memorable words: "Sandy, we're praying for you." Followed by, "I've contacted Rome for dispensation to have you declared a living saint." Everyone laughed.

As we exchanged the vows, you can clearly see my mother-in-law's shoulders relax. No, Mom, I wasn't going to bail out. Neither of us messed up the vows. And we said them so that people could hear us. Ed's got the rings. Very good.

Then we did something completely different: we read a "prayer of the couple" that we had found written in a workbook for the ceremony. It said just what we wanted it to. To Sandy's surprise, we weren't invited to kiss yet. I whispered, "Not yet, give it time."

The only time I cried was when Sandy made her devotion to the Blessed Mother after the Eucharist, and Art (our cantor and, ironically, her former prom date) sang "Ave Maria."

We finally got to kiss. Only then did I really get to see who all had come, nearly 200 people. Wow. I high-fived some of them on the way out.

Pictures, lots of pictures. I was relieved and excited. Then the limo ride to the reception. Ed nearly crashed my car heading out of the parking lot.

We entered the hall to the tune of the Liberty Bell March, also known as the theme to "Monty Python's Flying Circus." Ed gave a nice toast. We got lobster for dinner. :-9

I excused myself briefly to go to the restroom. When I came back, I stood for a minute at the back of the hall. That's not some other couple up there this time, I thought. That's my fiancee wife and me. Wow.

Our first dance was to "The Meeting", a song by Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe. We had two different expressions saying the same thing. She had a grin from ear to ear. I was looking deep into her eyes, my expression more serious.

The reception was a blast. We did the traditional dances with our 'rents to the tune of "Love Can Build A Bridge." There was the Chicken Dance, the Magic Circle, and a dance we started at a prior reception: to the tune of "I Can't Dance", we walked like the Genesis members do in the video, and everyone followed along. While we were out of the room for more pictures, the DJ sneaked in "YMCA," which we didn't want played.

We celebrated the anniversary of our friends Thom and Doreen, making them dance to the Anniversary Waltz. He threatened me with bodily harm. We also gave Sandy's matron of honor and her husband the first dance song that they never got at their reception, which was in the same room. (Sadly, he would leave her and her kids seven years later, and he hasn't been seen since.) Finally, we didn't embarrass the couple catching the garter and bouquet (much); we had them do a dance together. Each got married within a couple years.

We went upstairs to change into our casual clothes. It was the first time I'd ever seen my fiancee wife au naturel, or she me. Almost didn't want to come back down! Our final dance was "Keeper of the Stars" by Tracy Byrd.

Mercifully, my friends had spared my Plymouth Acclaim from decoration. Maybe they felt sorry for it. But they took one of the disposable cameras for a tour of the shopping center where the hall was located. In this photo, they must not have had enough to eat at the reception.

Tired but still excited, we headed to Willow Valley for the next couple nights. Then we flew to Key Largo, and returned in time for the Mass with Pope John Paul II at Camden Yards.

All this is just a long way of saying: Happy 11th anniversary, love. And I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

*smooch* *repeat*

Friday, September 22, 2006

Let's hear it for porn!

I *heart* the National Catholic Register. Patrick Novecosky just gave me a "well, DUH!" moment:

War Porn: U.S. Military's Other Problem in Iraq

Quelle surprise that no one but the Reg reported about the photos of Iraqi prisoners in bondage being a symptom of the pornography onslaught to which soldiers are exposed. But the minute anyone tries to limit access of this carp to the military, in come the porn industry defenders civil libertarians, fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Right to Fornicate and Masturbate.

Why is it we never hear anyone except Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt, Bob Guccione, Howard Stern, and Dick Branson come out strongly in favor of porn? Where is the silent majority of porn advocates? Show yourselves! It's what America wants, right? When's the Million Perv March?

You see, there's no need for a grass-roots effort against porn. Rather, it's the pro-porn side that needs to get better organized. I mean, it ONLY makes $12 billion a year! We could export this to low-income areas, right? It could revitalize cities! Lift people out of poverty! Reduce crime!

(In other news, I am also advocating the eating of children.)

And one serious rejoinder: I believe, as the article states, that pornography is a serious addiction that is not easily broken. Dr. Laura Schlessinger sees it as not an addiction at all, and is something that can easily be stopped with the proper amount of will. I also *heart* Dr. Laura, but she couldn't be more wrong, and even one of her listener letters undercuts her position:

My husband is now a very broken person who is willing to do the hard work to keep his family. He knows he has one chance. He's in counseling and in a support group. He's becoming a very different person as he's learning to do the hard work of relating to people, creating friendships and accountability in his life. It's called growing up. I'm sad that he's now doing the work at 38 that he should have done at 16, but this is where we are. It may take another 10 years before he is really the man that he was meant to be. That is IF he CONTINUES to choose to do the hard work towards becoming a healthy! man of character. There is no short-cut to growth as a person.
I look forward to hearing from you fearless porn defenders.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Active Relaxation

Ladycub and I were anything but sedentary during our two-night stay in Ocean City. Since our room was not yet ready when we arrived on Monday, we played golf at Assateague Greens, a nine-hole course near Berlin. Each of us had a par, thanks to our much improved tee shots. We walked the entire course, although it wasn't that long. We left with a few bug bites.

This course has meaning to us because when we played there in 1998, LC fell into a water hazard while trying to retrieve her ball. Her feet kept slipping on the bottom because it was so slimy. She came out resembling the Creature from the Black Lagoon, covered with mud from head to toe. I covered the seat of our brand-new car with plastic bags and threw her in the shower when we got back to the hotel.

After a refreshing dip in the pool, we walked a lengthy ten paces to Olive Tree for dinner, watched some Monday Night Football, and went to bed.

The next day, we rode our bikes from 127th Street to the Ocean City inlet and back. There are no hills in Ocean City, which is good and bad; good in that you don't have to over-exert at any given point, but bad in that there's not much of an area to coast. That turned out to be a 20-mile ride round trip. And LC was right behind me the whole way. We spent a little time on the boardwalk, where LC got her obligatory Thrasher's Fries (to them, ketchup is an insult) and I set a new personal best on a video game I hadn't played in years, the original Mario Bros.

We got back to the hotel just in time for the rain to start. LC had wanted to do some shopping at the outlets in Rehoboth Beach, so we did so. First, however, we had dinner at Cracker Barrel in Rehoboth. As we were finishing our meal, a woman came up and hugged us. It was a friend from our old neighborhood in Glen Burnie! Consider the odds.

As we went to the outlets, LC's friend Camie joined us, as she lived nearby. Neither of us found much there; I just don't want to pay $40-50 for a pair of pants. So I wound up getting mine at Wal-Mart instead. :-)

After leaving Wednesday morning, we played another nine holes at Pine Shore Golf, joined eventually by an older gentleman from Philadelphia. Again, we walked our game. LC beat me by 5 strokes. I so need to learn to hit straight.

As usual, this respite was way too short. But it was nice while we had it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Happy Birthday Mom

Today was my mom's 70th birthday.

My mom has taught me so much about spirituality, and she still does to this day. She and my father are prayer warriors (but not in the sense of that crazy lady on Wife Swap!). I've always been able to talk to her about various aspects of our religion and prayer. She's written various coincidences (God-incidences) that have happened in her life as well as ours. If I get time later, maybe I'll squeeze one in here.

Mom has always been a thoroughly giving person. She's opened her house to all sorts of people at various times, including my brother and his kids as they awaited housing at Bolling AFB in DC. As I type, she's hosting a lady from the UK who will be joining her and my dad for a trip to the Grand Canyon. She also introduced us to a delightful lady from Cameroon who stumbled into her office years ago as a stranger in a strange land. Mom helped her get acclimated to this country. Finally, she's spent most of the last several years watching two Chinese girls adopted by a lady who never married.

As difficult as I know it must be for her at times, she has respected her children's boundaries and not meddled in our adult lives. I really appreciate that. She still expects us to call or visit, and we do so gladly. She may try to keep the lid on decorum at our family dinners, but I can tell that deep down inside, she's laughing just as hard as we are.

There have been times when Mom and I have had our difficulties, largely because our personalities are so similar. I admit that I used to enjoy pushing her buttons. But I know too that she has always wanted the best for me. Like my dad, she was a Depression-era baby, so the effects of that time were not lost on me or my sibs. We learned how not to get so tied to material things, but that family was always more important. And she got that from her upbringing in her close-knit family. It was also from Mom that I got my interest in music, which I hope not to let slip away as I get older.

Yes, Mom may have made her mistakes with me. But for every mistake, there were hundreds of things she did right. And I'm all the better for it.

Happy birthday, Mom.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A slight pause

Whilst my lovely wife and I escape to the OC (Ocean City) for a couple days.

Ravens - Week 2

A 2-0 start, yessirree! And a smashing job by the defense, with six turnovers by DaRaydahz. This is the sort of Ravens D we've come to know and love. And another hilarious lineman runback of an turnover, this one by Kelly Gregg after a fumble. He lumbered 59 yards before Ray Lewis yanked the ball from him, after which Gregg threw one block and collapsed. And we even had a safety.

But it was a somewhat less than spectacular job by the offense. The Silver and Black's defense actually did pretty well, all things considered. And Steve McNair has to seal the deal more. The score should have been more like 42-6 instead of 28-6, but there were too many field goals and punts inside Oakland territory.

And Coach Brian Billick, Sooper Genius, how about calling a naked bootleg to McNair once in a while? He can run that as well as anyone. Or a flea-flicker to keep the eight men in the box honest?

Still, I'll take it. Bring on the Crybaby Browns!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

This Bird Has Flown

I'm not much of an Orioles fan, and haven't been since the strike in 1994. In fact, the only two major league games I've been to since have involved the Chicago Cubs, mainly for my wife's benefit.

But I do know this: The franchise is right now listless and uninspiring. They've had nine straight losing seasons, unthinkable in the days of "Oriole Magic" when I was a kid.

Yank-me and Red Sox games at Camden Yards might as well be home games for the visitors. And I'm waiting for owner Peter Angelos to gripe that Camden Yards needs a facelift, or replacement, because it's now 15 years old.

Support for this sentiment here, here, here, and here, the last one being a publicity stunt protest set for September 21 and led by local sportswriter-turned-sportstalker Nestor Aparicio.

I can understand Aparicio's frustration, however. I went to gobs of Oriole games when I was a kid, including both of the first two World Series games in 1983. I saw the miraculous Doug DeCinces home run in 1979 which launched "Oriole Magic".

Now? No one cares, including me. And until I see changes, including if Angelos sells the team, I won't be shelling out any money for a long time.

And here's how much Angelos, a trial lawyer who is living quite comfortably off tobacco lawsuits, thank you very much, just doesn't get it:

We were concerned it would cause us severe economic problems . . . it already has caused us a certain loss of fan support. And we have lost fan support from the losing seasons. But we think we can restore that portion by way of investing more dollars in the club. We have a very low average ticket price. The Boston Red Sox tickets are over $45, ours $22. When [Fenway Park is] filled with 35,000 at $45 per and we are filled with 46,000 at $22, at the end of the day when the money is counted, that money is what ultimately determines how much one has [available] to spend on players. They are so far ahead of us, I can't do it in my head without writing on paper, but I would simplify it by saying in order for us to match what they take in [during a game] where they have a sell-out at 35,000 at $45 dollars [a ticket], we would have to have a ballpark that would hold 70,000 and sell that park out.
So what are you saying, Fishlips? That you're planning to raise ticket prices to Fenway Park levels? The Sox charge that much because they can. You? Cannot, because your product on the field is unmitigated carp.

Unfortunately, Orioles fans will have to suffer through Cygnus' First Rule of Sports Economics: You can't fire owners. That's a lesson we Colts fans learned all too well from Bob "If I were going to move the %$%damn team, I'd have told you" (see #8) Irsay, a far worse owner on his best day (assuming he had one) than Art Modell, even on the day Modell announced the Browns coming to Baltimore.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I stand with Benedict

Here is the text of Pope Benedict XVI's address to the University of Regensburg, Germany this week. His comments, which have raised a furor in the Islamic world, were actually not his own; Benedict made it perfectly clear that he was quoting an earlier Byzantine dialogue from an emperor who was under attack from--surprise!--Muslims. As I read it, the overall point was that faith is not inconsistent with reason. Islam rejects this.

As I see it, Benedict was calling a spade a spade. He has nothing to apologize for, and I wish the Vatican would stop backpedaling and stand with him, just as I am doing. And the subsequent actions of the "Religion of Peace" bear this out.

I am becoming more convinced by the day that we are already seeing World War III.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mass transit rant

How am I supposed to ride the DC Metro if EVERY PARKING LOT IS FULL?! I had to drive all the way in and compete with the illegally parked (and Denver-booted) cars on the streets of this less than safe neighborhood. :-P

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where was I?

It was a gorgeous day for mid-September. I remember thinking the sky seems only to get that deep a shade of blue out West. It was the second full day of classes for me at the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. When I arrived, I warned told my radio instructor that Yoko Ono had a new album out, as I had heard that morning.

I headed back downstairs and sat through my first class of the day, Promotions, which dealt with the different ways in which a radio or TV station makes a name for itself in the public. Getting your call letters in another form of media is a great thing. If you see a radio station's van at some sort of event, look for the promotions interns doing most of the legwork.

It wasn't until our sales class that started just after 9 AM that we heard a plane had crashed into a tower of the World Trade Center. Our instructor Norm Brooks put on the television set just as the second plane hit the other tower, and we knew this was no accident. I remember saying, "This was an intelligence failure," which it sadly turned out to be.

We actually tried to go on with class for about 20 minutes or so until one of the assistant instructors came down and said that the Pentagon had been hit. At that point, we put the TV back on. Both WTC towers were still burning, and then we watched each one collapse. I don't think he meant this in a disrespectful way, but one of my instructors said, "35 stations just went off the air," because they all had their antennas atop the WTC.

After the collapse, the school realized there was little point in continuing with classes that day, although for us it was a fantastic way to see how any radio or TV station can become all news, given the circumstances. I stepped outside and called my old office at the Defense Department, asking if they needed help. They said they'd put my name and phone number on a list. I never heard from them again.

So I drove back home in a daze, and as I went through the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel with no small amount of trepidation, I kept glancing at the downtown Baltimore skyline to make sure it was still there. It was on the way home and after I arrived that I first heard of United 93 crashing in Pennsylvania.

My wife came home later, and after being glued to our television sets, we decided to ride our bikes. Seemed that everyone else had the same blank expressions that we did. And something was way out of place; there were no airplanes landing at or taking off from BWI Airport. It was way too quiet.

The next day at BIM, we launched right back into our lessons, although not as though nothing had happened.

That weekend, I saw an old Looney Tunes cartoon about a skyscraper being built, to the tune of the ever-popular Second Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt. At the end, the whole thing collapses.

It wasn't very funny, not then anyway.

We got to go up to Ground Zero in the winter of 2003, my first-ever visit to New York City. As moving as it was to be at the WTC site, even more so was seeing all the banners and other memorabilia left at St. Paul's Chapel across the street. This historic chapel served as a rest station for all those working at Ground Zero after the attack, and somehow remained unscathed by the devastation nearby.

God rest the souls of those who perished on 9/11/01, and I'm thankful my two cousins who lived in NYC weren't among them.

And may we win the war on terror that Islamic fascists declared on us that day.

ETA: What a gut-wrenching piece that Michelle Malkin put up at her site.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ravens - Week 1

Okay, who are you and what have you done with my Ravens?

Wow. Shutting out Tampa Bay 27-0 at RayJay. Just wow. Shades of 2000. So much for that road losing streak. By the last two minutes of this contest, that enormous stadium on North Dale Mabry was as abandoned as an Ashlee Simpson concert.

Here's why the Ravens won:

  • Turnovers. The Ravens picked off Chris Simms three times, and didn't give up the ball at all. They did, however, fumble four times, getting all four back. They will have to work on that.
  • The defense otherwise. Holding Cadillac Williams, Michael Pittman, and Mike Alstott to 26 yards rushing. Oof. And forcing the aforementioned three picks, one of which was returned most impressively by Chris McAlister for a TD, and one that should have been a TD from the rumblin', bumblin', fumblin', and stumblin' tackle Haloti Ngata. And Ray Lewis, down the road from his hometown of Lakeland, got a sack.
  • Steve McNair. How cool is it to have a starting QB who knows what he's doing? If it were me, Kyle Boller would be on the waiver wire in the next five minutes.
  • The O-line. Only one sack of McNair, and over 100 yards rushing combined against a Bucs defense that didn't do too badly; usually, yielding less than 300 yards of total offense is pretty good.
It felt good to wear my Ray Lewis jersey today. And I pray this win is a trend, and any quiverings of impending doom turn out to be my stomach rumbling from spaghetti.

Friday, September 08, 2006

But really, I'm glad I'm not a teenager again

Great article in the National Catholic Register, "Counter-Cultural Conquerors: Teens Transformed by the Theology of the Body." It deals with the challenges young people face with raging hormones, peer pressure, and what the media tell them to do with themselves.

The priest who is teaching this "theology of the body" notes that

many teens don’t see the inconsistency between what they profess in church and, for example, what they listen to on the radio. Today’s music, the priest points out, is rife with degrading messages and pounding, primal prompts to live immorally.

Meanwhile many of the fashions on display at Mass seem more suited to a beach club than to a spot before the altar on which Jesus Christ’s holy sacrifice is offered.
I'm not a fan necessarily of kids listening ONLY to a station like WGTS in Washington, but so much of what passes for music today is raunchy (I know, I'm sounding like my parents!). And the majority of Christian music is lame, but that's another discussion. But the point of this article is the inconsistency for Catholic kids mentioned above. Also, how many teen girls watch, for example, "Sex and the City" and think that's a how-to manual for their social lives? How many guys think that, thanks to "The Real World" and the like, they can do any girl, anywhere, anytime?

I am a firm believer in abstinence until marriage; as Rush Limbaugh says, it prevents pregnancy 100% of the time that it's tried. It's true that many Catholic teens who pledge abstinence, falter. But not all of them do.

And I appreciate the point made about how Catholic girls (and others) dress. There are two sides of this coin, one of which was explained to me as "How a girl/woman dresses is none of my business." There is something to be said for that; if I'm lusting over someone dressed in a low-cut whatever, who's got the problem, her or me?

But if there's anything women often don't realize, it's the effect on guys from how they dress. Just because they CAN be alluring, doesn't mean they SHOULD. Who knows what they'll attract? I am in no way saying young women should be in burqas so that they don't become Foul Temptresses, but a little something left to the imagination is a good thing. And I want to make it perfectly clear that no woman ever invites rape or other violent crimes by how she dresses, although certain clothing can indeed bring unwanted (and, of course, wanted) attention.

The response of this girl in the article heartens me:
“I look at the way I present myself to people differently,” Katie says.
When I look in my college yearbooks, I'm surprised how little skin my female classmates showed. None of them would even think of wearing pants low on their hips or showing their navels. But since that was the mid-80s, and the girls were wearing those oversized T-shirts and sweaters with huge letters on them, maybe they were wearing burqas after all. :-)

And for guys, I have never felt that shorts or T-shirts were appropriate clothing for Mass.

Hooey

Thomas Joscelyn nicely skewers the Senate Intelligence Committee report that there was no pre-9/11 link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, never, never, never. And this report wasn't politically inspired, no sirree. I never knew negatives could be proven so conclusively.

Stephen F. Hayes, call your office.

And another piece by Hayes and Joscelyn together.

DAW Alert: The Final Mention

If you didn't catch my brief appearance along with some of my cow-orkers on the Today show a couple months ago, you can still see it here. It's about two minutes in. Still requires Internet Exploder, though; whaddya expect from (P)MSNBC?

Much love to Da Queen for extracting da URL.

UPDATE: Looks like the link is no longer available.

Local politics can be amusing

As it is in many other areas, growth is a huge issue around here. There are plenty of legitimate arguments about growth: does the infrastructure exist to support it, is there a sufficient supply of housing to keep prices and taxes at bay, are businesses coming in or leaving, etc.

Also, there's plenty of animosity between the pro-growth side (which I espouse) which is said to want to pave the whole county, and the no-growth forces which want to bulldoze any home that was built after 1990. No rhetoric here, eh?

With our primaries coming up on Tuesday (9/12), two PACs endorsing two different groups of Republican candidates are sniping at/demonizing each other: the pro-growth Frederick Countians for Real Republicans, which has nothing to do with the Alliance for Frederick County, and the anti-growth Friends of Frederick County (essentially just a blog), which is totally unaffiliated with the Citizens for Quality of Life of Frederick County.

Clear as mud? And then FOFC nabbed a similar domain name to the FCRR, resulting in this. Although I disagree with the premise, I admit it's clever.

The main reason I support the pro-growthers is that we have low unemployment, which is good; but also low average weekly wages, which is bad. That tells me businesses don't want to relocate or start up here. And then everyone wonders why folks like me commute from here to Washington or Baltimore to work. Also, if there's no growth in housing, prices will continue to skyrocket (you can't get a decent townhome for under $300,000). We couldn't afford the house we live in, which has nearly doubled in value since we bought it four years ago.

And unlike FOFC's blog, I allow comments. :-)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Who wants this MTV?

Nice to see that Bob Lefsetz came around to my way of thinking about the irrelevant black hole that is MTV. And he points out a nice "Well, DUH!":

What are the [MTV Video Music Awards] for?

Fearful of conflicting with 9/11 memorials, MTV moved the show BEFORE Labor Day. What a big mistake. The show worked because you were ALREADY IN SCHOOL! Summer was over. It was a way to avoid doing your homework. AND, you tuned in so you wouldn’t be left out of the discussion at your school the next day. But with all the kids spread out over the landscape, there’s no center, the VMAs were/are not MUST SEE TV, so people don’t.

And the show no longer makes sense. Kids know there’s no music on the channel, and oldsters haven’t heard of the acts. What is the DRAW? MTV proved it in Miami. If you’re playing to the "National Enquirer" crowd, you’ve lost it. The VMAs were always hip, irreverent. Now they became what they were mocking. Vapid "stars" fawning over each other. The VMAs are just not where it’s at.

So the ratings tanked.

Guess I'm not so fuddy-duddy after all. Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta go listen to "Interstellar Overdrive."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

So how's the weather?

Fortunately, all Ernesto gave us was some much-needed rain all day Friday into Saturday afternoon. But by Saturday evening, there was a gorgeous sunset, and a feeling of fall in the air. The clearing sky with the stormclouds to the north was breathtaking. We got a little bit of wind, but the rain wasn't hard enough at any one time for any significant flooding, except down by the Potomac River. The rain did mess up my Friday homeward commute, however; it took two hours, twice as long as normal, thanks to everyone heading out for the Labor Day weekend.

So that capped off the non-event that was Ernesto. But after Katrina, I don't think anyone will be underestimating any tropical storms anytime soon.

More fun with the Cygmobile

UPDATES - see below

The following is a sequel to this stirring prose.

On Thursday, I noticed that the Check Engine light came on on the Cygmobile's dashboard. Knowing that this could be something semi-serious, I made an appointment to have it checked out by our local mechanics on Tuesday, after the holiday (which isn't a holiday for me).

I also noticed that the fuel economy was starting to worsen. That could be why the light came on; I'll have that checked too.

This morning, I noticed that the battery light was flashing on. If you recall from my story above, I got a new battery installed only weeks ago. Next thing I knew, the car started losing power big-time. Eventually, it stalled altogether. I tried to make a run for Sears, but failed. Turns out that the alternator had died; that's what it often means when the battery light comes on.

So I had a tow truck take me and the Cygmobile to Sears, where they proudly told me, in as many words, "You're screwed." They wouldn't touch it until Tuesday, whereas I had to work both Sunday and Monday.

I then called my mechanics and had the Cygmobile towed to their garage, where it should have gone in the first place. Not only will they replace the alternator today, they'll also change the oil and rotate the tires. I lvoe this place, and I say *hock ptui* to Sears' auto shop forever.

Well, it'll cost me a few extra bucks for that second tow, but I don't mind that it cost to learn this truth: A good mechanic is hard to find.

UPDATE: Aarrgghh. After tearing my engine apart to get to the silly alternator, my mechanics found that the replacement alternator . . . was defective. :-( So the Cygmobile will indeed sit until Tuesday. But I'd rather have it there than at Sears just the same. Now, how to afford this?

Blessings to the lovely and talented Rona for riding me in tomorrow.

UPDATE 2: Double aarrgghh. They tore the engine apart again today (Tuesday), awaited the new alternator, and found that . . . it was the wrong one. And apparently there isn't another alternator for my vehicle in the whole town. So one is being overnighted. They say the Cygmobile will be ready by tomorrow morning. It better, or I have no way to get to work!

UPDATE 3: It's done . . . it's done. And we are $700 lighter. Half of that was the alternator itself! Apparently not all Ford Foci (plural of Focus, right?) take the same alternator. They also replaced the serpentine (makes me think of Alan Arkin in "The In-Laws") belt that goes around everything, so that's one less thing to worry about in the future.