Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Band of Brothers

Rob is in the Air Force. Thom is in the Army.

They have given up much to serve their country. Rob spent the first six months of his marriage apart from his wife because there weren't quarters for both of them. Of course, there are military couples who have been separated for much longer than that. Thom could still be sent to Iraq at almost any time.

Rob went from being a member of the Security Police to working on computer security. Thom is a brilliant writer and has been touted as a possible linguist.

They? Are smart. And they? Are my brothers. And I'm damn proud of them.

And Senator John Kerry, D-MA, former presidential candidate, insulted them, and refused to apologize for it. For he hates my brothers.

Any one of us would be proud to smack him across his long face. But we'll do the next best thing and vote next week.

ETA: I remember back in college when the leftist editors (I know that's redundant) of the school paper had signs around their office: "The Greyhound Regrets Nothing!" Never knew Kerry went to my school.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ravens - Week 8

Wow. What a nice thumping 35-22 victory over the Saints. They got nothing on the ground. Never mind Drew Brees' stats; they were just about all in mop-up duty. He was too busy throwing TDs to the Ravens. Jamal managed to scrape out 100 yards.

So, is Brian Billick as offensive coordinator the answer? We'll see next week against Cincinnati, who looks like it'll be our only rivals for the AFC North title. You see, we Ravens fans are always waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop. But I like what I've seen so far.

Speaking of which . . .

We would like to thank the Pittsburgh Squealers for their participation in the 2006 NFL season. 2-5 with a loss to *Oakland*, which now has as many wins as they do. Now all you Squealer fans can sit down, shut up, and wait until the Ravens kick your butts, and then you can sit down and shut up some more.

I love it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hell's Seafood

I know that in Noo Yawk, it's customary for market vendors and their customers to be a little bit brusque to each other. At least that's how an outsider like me would see it.

But New Market, MD, is not Noo Yawk.

For Ladycub's birthday, I will be making her crabcakes, and she told me where I could get some to make at home: a place called Trout Seafood in New Market. The place is now known as Lighthouse Seafood and Deli.

I quickly located the nicely-sized crabcakes for broiling, but only after the manager (owner?) was busy berating his employees for all sorts of things. Out loud. In front of me. The lady who got me the crabcakes told me he was like this all the time.

Well, I don't have to like it. There are other seafood places around that aren't run by a Gordon Ramsay wanna-be.

I invoke Cygnus' First Law of Retail Economics: If an establishment acts like it doesn't want your business, don't give it to them.

Friday, October 27, 2006

TAR All-Stars

Those who know Ladycub and me know that The Amazing Race is the only current TV show we care about.

Now that the news has leaked that The Amazing Race 11 will be an All-Stars Edition (which I didn't really want, but oh well), the whining has begun from those who weren't picked to be in it, such as Chip and Kim from TAR 5 and BJ and Tyler from TAR 9. Um, maybe you weren't picked because you ALREADY WON?!

I rooted for Chip and Kim in that race, the first we ever watched. Theirs was a stunning upset over Colin and Christie (who apparently WILL be in TAR All-Stars), but I think Chip has been busy destroying his good will ever since by DAWing* all over the place. Heck, he and Kim were on Battle of the Network Reality Stars, which I sadly (heh) missed. That should disqualify anyone in my book.

As for BJ and Tyler, BJ makes this pronouncement: "We were the most winningest winners ever to win." (Earl Weaver, call your office.) After all, they only finished last in non-elimination legs twice! I'm not saying they didn't deserve to win, but do get. over. yourselves.

So Just Shut Up and enjoy your million if you haven't blown it all already, thank you.

Oh, to see Colin melt down again. He says he was the victim of severe editing. I'm waiting for the footage where he was really nice to the folks in Kenya, or where he treated the "ox" in the Philippines so well. But having said that, I gotta admit the gameplay between him and Christie and the others made that Race especially memorable.

I'm not so sure about the return of Mirna and Schmirna Charla, even though they're from my hometown. Maybe Mirna should start seeing Peter from the current Race. Like him, Mirna always had the undersized but gritty Charla do the tougher tasks. I didn't like them, and was relieved when they were gone.

I hope Romber don't come back, although Rob butting heads with Colin might be priceless. Then Christie and Amber could compare notes on how to do just about nothing on the Race. Let's not bother with Lynn and Alex; they don't need the exposure. Might Debbie and Bianca be given another chance to see if they just made one stupid move? Or Lena and Kristy from TAR 6? Speaking of which, I think it'd be neat to see Kris and Jon again, but they seem to be more anti-DAW here of late, so I doubt it'll happen.

And I agree with others that it won't be a true All-Stars edition if the Festers, Kevin and Drew, aren't there. I can't comment on TARs 2-4, which I haven't seen.

No Family Edition teams. And NO JONATHAN AND VICTORIA. Ever.

*Desperate Attention Whoring, or trying to extend his 15 minutes of fame.

To my fellow Blogger users

Wanna send trackbacks (and those are . . .)? You can, provided you're using Firefox, the official browser of Cygnus' Sphere!

Follow the directions that Ohad's Internet News has so graciously provided. Make sure you install Greasenonkey first before heading to the Singpolyma site to install the script. You'll get prompted for the trackback URL once you've completed your post.

I'm not sure that this allows Blogger users to receive trackbacks, but at least they can be sent to blogs that use them. More as I continue to figure this out.

The British Balderdash Corporation

We would like to thank the BBC for their participation as a respectable media organ.

They have been in the process of squandering their heritage for quite some time, but they recently made it official in a Daily Mail article where they threw out all pretensions of objectivity. (Hat tip: the ravishing Michelle Malkin). Thank you so much for admitting what we already know.

And as if that weren't enough, a BBC reporter has been embedded with the Taliban in Afghanistan, finding out how they plan to kill more . . . British soldiers! Why didn't Benedict Arnold think of something like that?

If I were in the UK, I'd probably save myself the annual license fee for a TV and not buy one. It'd be that much less money for the BBC to get hold of.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Don't play this game

or you may become addicted, courtesy of the Department of Way Too Much Free Time. Great music!

Stackopolis

Now, get someone else addicted.
(Hat tips: Kim Komando, Ladycub)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Voice of Dilbert

1. I didn't know Dilbert creator Scott Adams had a blog.

2. I didn't know he lost his voice.

3. Naturally, I didn't know he got it back either.

Read the whole story. Talk about triumphing over adversity!
(Hat tip: Cheebie.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ravens - Bye Week

(which I forgot in my last Ravens post)

Thank you, Michael Vick, Alge Crumpler, and Morten Andersen, for making this such an enjoyable week.

Few things give me such Schadenfreude warm my heart like the Squealers losing.

That is all.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Another Day, Another Volksmarch

With the day off today, I drove through four states and wound up in the same county.

Let me explain: I started in Frederick County, Maryland and wound up in Frederick County, Virginia. To get there, I went from Maryland to Virginia to West Virginia and back to Virginia. En route, a truck had dumped its load of sewage on Rt. 340 between Charles Town, WV and Berryville, VA. Ew. Ew. Ew.

My destination was the year-round volksmarch in Winchester, VA. (More on volksmarching here.) Winchester is a town at the northernmost end of the Shenandoah Valley that changed hands more than 70 times during the Civil War. I started at the visitor center, where the volunteers where quite helpful and pleasant.

The walk went through a park, then past two cemeteries where hundreds of unknown Civil War dead from both sides are buried. When I entered the Mount Hebron Cemetery, I couldn't help noticing one of the first headstones I saw: Geo. W. Bush. Really. But this one died more than 100 years ago. I almost said "at the turn of the century", but that's now the turn of LAST century!

From there, the walk wound through the historic downtown of Winchester, which includes a quaint pedestrian mall. I walked it a few times by accident; street signs were not plentiful downtown. So much for my winning an Amazing Race leg here! Among many other historic buildings is Stonewall Jackson's headquarters, right in the middle of a posh residential neighborhood.

All in all, a nice 10K walk through a town I hadn't been to before. It was blustery, however, making the walk a little challenging. It seems I arrived one day before Winchester's hot-air ballon festival! Shuckmeisters.

On the way home, I stopped at what may be my favorite clothing store: Gabriel Brothers. I scarfed up three sweatshirts, two pairs of jeans, two flannel shirts, and some underwear . . . for $70. And it wouldn't have been that much if one of the sweatshirts wasn't a Ravens hoodie.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's Genius Time!

. . . I hope.

Brian Billick fired Ravens offensive coordinator and longtime friend Jim Fassel the other day and replaced him with . . . himself.

Now remember, Billick was brought over in 1999 from the Minnesota Vikings because he was an Offensive Genius there, as Randall Cunningham, Randy Moss, and Robert Smith helped light up the scoreboard. With the Ravens, Billick has had a parade of mediocre quarterbacks, which I alluded to earlier. Remember Forget these names:

  • Scott Mitchell
  • Stoney Case
  • Tony Banks
  • Trent Dilfer (who was the winning QB in the Super Bowl)
  • Elvis Grbac
  • Randall Cunningham
  • Chris Redman
  • Jeff Blake
  • Kyle Boller
  • Anthony Wright
  • Steve McNair
Mitchell, Cunningham, McNair, and Kordell Stewart (who never started for the Ravens) were all in the twilight of their careers.

Frankly, I don't hold out much hope that Billick at the offensive helm will change much. We're averaging 18 points a game, and after the torching we got from Jake Delhomme, I realize we don't have the 2000 defense anymore. Sheesh, if we want "Hey diddle diddle, Jamal up the middle", we can always get Ted Marchibroda back. And oh by the way, Jamal doesn't have much gas left in the tank either. Yes, he rushed for over 2,000 yards in 2003, but the Ravens were still bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

Somewhere, Matt Cavanaugh is laughing hysterically.

All we fans want is for the Ravens to go 12-4, beat Pittsburgh in the AFC title game, win the Super Bowl, and then fire Billick. I think the last outcome is the most important one.

Footnote: Did you know Billick was a Match Game contestant in 1977? I didn't! Where would we be without Google? Hope I stumble across his appearance on Game Show Network someday.

But that tan leather jacket . . . ew.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Five Minutes to Curtain!

I don't remember all that many of my dreams, but this one was vivid.

I have long wanted to get back into community theater since my last performance, 1776. But my work schedule (or lack of one) has kept me from doing so.

I dreamed I was back in school and had somehow forgotten to attend any rehearsals for the Shakespeare play, Much Ado About Nothing. I was to be Borachio, one of the main bad guys. And we opened the next night, and I had 24 hours to get all the lines down and memorized! So I remember looking around for index cards on which to write my lines so I'd remember them. It was complete stress. And I was convinced that I was going to have to stand on stage and make an idiot of myself.

Actually, I was in Much Ado a number of years ago, and was supposed to be Borachio until a schedule conflict forced me to take a bit part instead. Also, I'd worked a 16-hour shift yesterday that was my own doing, and I forgot that I'd scheduled myself for that until I got to work! So I woke up at 4 AM, got to work by 6, left at 10:30 PM, and got home at 11:30 PM. Not much stress there, huh?

Surprisingly, I felt better during the second eight hours of the shift than most days when I get home from the 6 AM - 2 PM shift. Must have been the adrenaline; I don't drink caffeine.

Ravens - Week 6

Since I was unable to see this game (rassem frassem NFL exclusivity, not to mention that I was at work), there's not a lot I can say about it. I can say that the defense did not do very well; we were unable to hold Jake Delhomme or Steve Smith in check. But we almost rallied to win, until Carolina ran out the clock. And props to Kyle Boller for not giving up, as he had been wont to do much of his career. He needs to throw more deflections.

Of course, Boller came in because Steve McNair was injured early on. But by that time, McNair had already thrown an interception. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that McNair isn't the answer. He's on the down side of his career, and he's thrown more interceptions than TDs. It's not enough to be "inspirational." I hope he doesn't become the latest in the parade of Mediocre Ravens Quarterbacks (name three!).

The task doesn't get any easier against New Orleans next week. I hope the Ravens that went 4-0 choose to show up, because I'm not liking this 0-2 team as much. Granted, those losses were to good teams, but to get somewhere in the NFL, you have to beat good teams.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Latest on the Cygmobile

Yesterday, I took the Cygmobile (Ford Focus wagon) up to get the oil changed. I also asked my mechanics to check the brakes while it was there, thinking they hadn't been attended to in a while. Turns out the brakes were fine (to my surprise), but the bearings in the right front wheel were shot and needed replacing.

For a change, this turned out to be quite a necessary job, because my ride has now become MUCH quieter! I thought it was the tires making a lot of moise on the pavement, but I should have known something was up when I turned the steering wheel to the left and it wasn't as noisy. I'm shocked at how much more tolerable driving is now.

So, if there are things going on with your vehicle that you can't explain, get them checked out sooner rather than later. And here's hoping you can find a reliable mechanic to do so. Mine is a family-owned bunch that I got referred to by a former cow-orker.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Another nice thing about moms

I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour on XM, and not just because I work for XM. He pulls songs out of the backs of racks that I didn't even know were racks. I'm sure that a few of these pieces had to come off of 78s ("What are THOSE, Pop-Pop?"). My current quote in the browser bar ("Take me back to Tulsa, I'm too young to marry") is from a Bob Wills tune that I heard on TTRH. Almost everything I hear is new. Maybe not everything is my taste, but it sure beats a lot of what passes for music these days.

Anyway, XM had an all-day marathon of TTRH yesterday, and I recorded a whole mess of it on my XM radio. I was listening this morning to Dylan's "Mother" theme.

He had a quote from Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller fame. He couldn't have interviewed Teller because he doesn't talk. Now, Penn Jillette is not one of my favorite people; he's a typical Hollywood leftist in many regards. But on TTRH, he proved that even a stopped clock is right twice a day, unless it's digital.

I'm pretty much going to paraphrase what he said, because I don't feel like transcribing it word for word.

Jillette said that there were two ways of looking at the term "mama's boy": the effeminate wuss who never learned to stand on his own two feet, which is the dominant perception; and the boy whose mom's unconditional love made him feel twelve feet tall.

As an illustration of the latter, Jillette recalled when Penn and Teller made its off-Broadway debut. The tradition at the opening night party is to stay up until the early edition of the New York Times (a.k.a. the Newspaper of Wreckage these days) comes out and they can read the review. Jillette's parents were there, and they got to read the review aloud; the comments were quite glowing.

That morning, Jillette's parents were having breakfast with his producer. He said something along the lines of, "You must have been proud to see your son written up so well in the New York Times."

His mom's response was priceless. She said, "I don't need the New York Times in order to be proud of my son. I've been proud of him since the day he was born!"

Wow.

In a day and age when we hear so much about people who probably should never have been allowed to become parents, it's nice to know there are still some quality moms out there. Like mine.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I'm Your Handyman . . . not.

(Or, Cyg vs. the Weed Whacker)

All summer/early fall long, my weed whacker and I have been at odds with each other. I think it's winning.

Replacing the fishing line in the spool has become drudgery. I get it wound up around the spool, then either the whole thing unwinds or something gets jammed and the line won't feed. Or, as has more recently been the case, too much line feeds out. I've gone through two spoolfuls because it just kept feeding and cutting, feeding and cutting.

Then I lost the lock spring that holds the whole dern thing in place. I had to order new ones from Sears, and they cost more delivered than an entire new spool.

No, I have no idea where my owner's manual is. Why do you ask?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ravens - Week 5

A 13-3 loss to Denver. Carp.

We had a chance to win this, and we blew it. Three interceptions and a 10-yard punt will do that to you.

Not that I don't credit the Broncos: I do. They didn't make mistakes when it mattered, and RB Tatum Bell kept us off balance. Crafty veteran WR Rod Smith snagged the touchdown that put the game out of reach, on a play that Steve McNair tried to pull for the Ravens before the end of the half and was picked off by CB Champ Bailey.

But why didn't we keep former Bronco Mike Anderson in the game when he was accomplishing something? I mean, there's only so much you can do offensively when playing in a freezing typhoon like that at Mile High Stadium Invesco Field.

This was the sort of game where we just could not get away with any mistakes. And we didn't.

Okay, so we're back to Earth, and only Da Bears and the Indianapolis Irsays are still undefeated. Let's take out our frustrations on Carolina. (ETA: Double carp. I won't get to see this game, because FOX 5 in DC won't show it, I can't get Fox 5 anyway, and NO ONE shows Fox 45 in my town.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Great Sign

Oh, just a minute. Real fast . . .

Seen along Interstate 70 at the Howard County Fairgrounds:

"Nearly New Kids Sale"

I bet you can get the new ones for not much more on eBay.

In The Street

We had a nice time today at Frederick's annual In The Street festival, where the main north-south drag gets blocked off for a mile or so downtown. And accompanying it was the seemingly annual rain. But it wasn't constant, and there were still thousands of people.

Of course, the politicos hit it hard, so there were plenty of banners, stickers, and balloons. Lots of different food options also, although we bypassed them for the excellent Pizza and Pretzel Creations right on the street. Ummies. Followed by TCBY yogurt from the TCBY RV, which was for sale.

We saw a bunch of kids doing their skateboard thing, including one shorter kid (whom we thought was a girl and others thought was a boy) who kept trying to leap across two ramps. He/She never quite made it. How none of these folks sustained serious injury, I'll never know.

But the biggest part of the day was seeing a couple of the bands that were playing. We only caught the tail end of Donegal X-Press, but their Irish "roots rock" was kicking! I swear their fiddle player looked like she was about 14 (yeah, I know, Cyg digs the jailbait :-)). She stole the show in this last number.

We spent a while watching an impressive cover band, Carey Zigler's Expensive Hobby. As we approached, they were playing the Doobie Brothers' "Takin' It To The Streets." They then launched into a fine rendition of the Who's "Eminence Front," and after a nice percussive original number, they surprised us by doing a spot-on version of Elton John's "Funeral For a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding," not exactly the sort of song that many bands cover. In addition to the usual guitarbassdrumsandkeyboards, CZEH also has a three-piece horn section, rendering them a little Chicago-esque.

Oh, and both these bands hail from my hometown of Baltimore. No wonder they're good.

I'm pooped, and 4 AM comes mighty early. Goodnight.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Words Will Never Hurt Us . . . Um, Check That

In the words of someone I may have known in a former life, "Why do they fear the Constitution?" Always remember: Free speech, good for the Left, bad for the Right.

Evidence, courtesy of Columbia U. via Little Green Footballs as moonbats put their hands over their ears and scream at the founder of the Minutemen while bum-rushing him off the stage. I hope you haven't eaten.

One can debate the impact of the Minutemen. If there's allowed to be a debate.

Oh, and get a load of this, if there's anything left in your stomach: it's all the speaker's fault!:

We celebrate free speech: for that reason we allowed the Minutemen to speak, and for that same reason we peacefully [guffaw] occupied the stage and spoke ourselves. Our peaceful protest [chortle] was violently attacked by members of the College Republicans and their supporters, who are the very same people who invited the Minutemen to our campus in the first place. The Minutemen are not a legitimate voice in the debate on immigration. They are a racist, armed militia who have declared open hunting season on immigrants, causing countless hate crimes and over 3000 deaths on the border. Why should exploitative corporations have free passes between nations, but individual people not? No human being is illegal.

"The things that pass for knowledge, I can't understand . . ."

ETA: Here's Michelle Malkin's take on it. (I so *heart* Michelle Malkin.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Stone Is Still A Stone

I was wondering whether to see the Oliver Stone-directed film, World Trade Center. Thanks to Cox and Forkum, I won't bother:

(click on the cartoon for a clearer image, on the link above for an explanation)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Red Light Revenue Enhancers

Heard on the radio this morning: Red light camera violations have dropped in the past year in my town. The chief of police says this is a good thing.

But is it? I have a feeling that somewhere in City Hall, someone in the finance department is giving birth to a bovine (that's "having a cow," for those of you in Dundalk). You see, from the standpoint of city coffers, this is terrible news.

A decline in red light camera violations means that less revenue from fines is coming in. And remember, with these fines, an owner of a vehicle (not the driver!) may NOT confront his accuser (a machine) in a court of law. Much more about that phenomenon at this site.

I predict that within three to five years, the red light camera program here will be discontinued, just as it has been in Salisbury, MD and Greensboro, NC. The reason is simple: the revenue generated will be insufficient to pay for the costs of the system. As drivers get more accustomed to red light cameras, there will be more compliance (the stated goal of the program) but less revenue (the unstated, but more important goal).

This just goes to show that red light cameras, while trying to raise more taxpayer money, turn out to be a waste of taxpayer money.

Note: I am not advocating the violation of highway laws, nor am I trying to say that running red lights is a good thing. Indeed, one of Maryland's unwritten laws seems to be that the red light means "only three more cars." I am opposed to a solution that's worse than the problem.

Hi, Crimestoppers!

Our next door neighbor is selling his house. We've had an up-and-down relationship with him, but lately things have gotten better. For one thing, his Great Dane used to poop on our lawn, but after I asked nicely, he made sure she stopped doing so.

His house has been on the market quite a while. It's had a lot of upgrades inside and out. Some of us on the block have jokingly argued about who would get his hot tub, which he never uses.

Well, one day after coming home from work, I noticed this older gent in a black Subaru (at first, I thought it was a Toyota) sitting in the space that I normally use in the middle of the cul-de-sac. This guy had a bunch of papers on his lap, some of which looked like tax documents. He got out of his car a couple times and examined the outside of the house.

Over the next couple weeks, he was there again, sitting for a couple hours at a time. We thought maybe he was an appraiser or such at first, but we became increasingly suspicious.

Finally, Sandy came home from an errand one morning and noticed he was still there in his car, and walking back and forth from the house. I called the county Sheriff's Office. This guy departed about one minute before the deputy pulled up. We haven't seen him since.

He must have been casing the place for a crime of some sort, so I'm glad we listened to our gut on that one. Suspicious people come in all shapes and sizes.

ETA: Forgot to add that our neighbor was thankful; he had no idea who this guy was.

Ravens - Week 4

As the announcer said, "This was a game that the Ravens tried to lose, and they still won anyway." It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win. Especially over a formerly undefeated team like the Chargers.

Oh, there were gaffes. For two, Dan Wilcox fumbled at the Chargers' one-yard line, and Derrick Mason totally dropped a sure touchdown pass that Steve McNair couldn't have giftwrapped any better. And the Chargers had plenty of goofs as well, such as a flubbed field goal which may well have put the game out of reach.

But I swear this is looking more like 2000 Redux all the time. Who needs an offense? I gotta give Brian Billick props for deciding to punt late in the 4th quarter so as not to give Philip Rivers a short field to work with. And when they had to, the D not only stopped Sandy Eggo, it forced them to surrender a safety, setting up the game-winning drive that was capped off by Todd Heap's impressive effort to reach the end zone. This guy is trying to make Baltmore sports fans forget John Mackey.

And the icing on the cake: as Rivers was about to try his Hail Mary heave with no time left, he was sacked from behind. Nice.

Four.And.Oh. Bring on Pittsburgh. Bring on Cincinnati. (They'll have to wait, though; we play Denver next.)