Thursday, January 31, 2008

What part of "illegal" are you having trouble with?

It's bad enough that this Inside Catholic article puffs up "shamnesty" as championed by Sens. Sam Brownback and John McCain, without realizing that it was such a position by Brownback that drove him out of the Presidential race. (If you're scratching your head as to who Sam Brownback is, you're not alone.) Or that Brownback holds all this influence over Catholic voters. Or that only "white evangelicals" oppose McCain (Laura Ingraham, anyone?).

Worst of all is that author Deal Hudson, as is typical of way too many Catholics, doesn't use the word "illegal" ONCE in this article. He just doesn't get it, but the voters do.

Morning Radio Shows

Any radio station worth its FCC license puts its greatest effort in talent and production into its morning show, because that's when most people listen. At least that's the way it's been since the TV captured living rooms in the evening.

One of the first morning shows I got into was that of legendary Baltimore DJ Johnny Walker, regarded as one of the original "shock jocks." I'm not sure whether he was really a shock jock or not, but I loved listening to his Little News of the Morning where he'd make one-liners about the news of the day, followed by "audience reaction" through all sorts of sound effects and drops ("Wow, it sure doesn't taste like tomato juice!"). In fact, I think I enjoyed those more than the jokes themselves. That's when my taste was whetted for the Theater of the Mind.

In high school and college, I became a fan of Allan Courduff of 98 Rock. He had all sorts of characters that he played, including refuted scientist Dr. Robert Flatula, the oldest living rocker Hyman "Be-Bop-A-Lu-La" Lipschitz, the "mama" of fellow jock John Panzarella, and Bawlamer-based stoner Glen Burnout, to name but a few. I also enjoyed segments like "Where's Your ID?" where callers had to identify a song from a few seconds of it played backwards, and the "Dreaded Morning Oldie" where a sappy 60s or 70s song (Clint Holmes' "Playground In My Mind," Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again . . . Naturally," or Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey", for three) would be played until a listener identified the song and the "perpetrator." Then a record-skidding noise would stop the song. There was also a series called The Adventures of the Preppington Family," featuring a kid who, for story purposes, went to my high school. BTW, I didn't join the 98 Rock Air Force listener club, but I know lots of folks who did.

Also in college, friends of mine got me into the Greaseman (Doug Tracht). Yep, he was crude, but he could be hilarious, and he too had a whole bevy of bits: Sergeant Fury, the Lawman, stories of his ex Estelle and his DADDY!, West Virginia, etc. He also played his own newsman Rod Allen Fritz, traffic reporter Dick DeLuca the Big Palooka, and sportscaster "What The Hell" Biff Cantrell. Sadly, his schtick hasn't changed a bit in the last 20+ years, and I've long since outgrown him.

Nowadays, I listen to Steve Czaban's morning show on Fox Sports Radio and enjoy his numerous Simpsons drops ("I have NO idea who that is", "I've already forgotten his name", and Krusty the Clown's grimace), his "Daily Czabe" wrapup of all the news that matters to him, and his rotating bits such as "Upon Further Review," "I'm So Done With . . . ," "Mancrush," "This Might Be A Dumb Question," and "Lock It Up."

You see, it's what happens between the songs or the news reports that makes a worthwhile morning show.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

System Sounds

Thanks to Ladycub, I've been back on my new and improved computer for a little more than a week now. It's a AMD Athlon 64 2.0 GHz dual processor with 2 GB of memory, a nice 320 GB hard drive, and a fast DVD player/burner. And we Ladycub built it ourselves herself. There was a little problem when I realized that the sound card wasn't really equipped to handle digital speakers that weren't part of a wider home entertainment system, but switching to a set of analog speakers (thank you, Freecycle!) took care of that.

I was shopping for some sounds to replace the usual ones with Windows. There's plenty of sites where you can find them; just do a search on "system sounds," "startup (or shutdown) sounds," "mail sounds," etc. Actually, any sound file with a .wav ending (for Windows) will do. Might want to edit them down to size where necessary with a sound editing program like Audacity.

So now, here's the lineup, with links where appropriate:

Startup: The theme from The Amazing Race (edited, and since it was an MP3 file, I had to re-record it as a WAV).
Shutdown: Bob Barker's Price Is Right signoff. (I'm probably going to change that to something to do with Animaniacs.)
Mail: Big Ben's (not Toothlessberger, thank you) chime.
Asterisk: Rimshot.
Exclamation: Pac-Man dying (although I copied mine direct from the Microsoft Arcade game, so it's a bit cleaner).

and my favorite:

Critical Stop: The Price Is Right sound when you lose.

What unique sounds do you have on your computer?

This is worth celebrating?

In the latest example of Nanny State-ism, Maryland goes smoke-free in public places (read: restaurants and bars) starting Friday, and the Frederick County Health Department is celebrating.

What's to celebrate?

Why can't individual businesses decide if they want to cater to smokers or non-smokers, and leave the decision up to the one who can decide the best: the consumer? Because that wouldn't redistribute funds to groups like the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Smoke-Free Maryland Coalition, etc. (Keep telling yourself that money isn't part of this.)

Oh, and by the way, tobacco taxes in this state are among the highest in the nation. Annapolis is still banking on people to smoke while banning smoking incrementally, because it doesn't want to ban it outright.

I wish I could afford to be at Morton's in Baltimore this Thursday night for the "Last Hurrah" cigar party. Oh, what a threat these refined cigar aficionados pose to public health.

You can come get the cigar I smoke at weddings when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. And I think Annapolis would consider that arrangement if I could be taxed for it.

My previous rant on the subject here.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Anyone For Some Haugen-Haas Ice Cream?

(H/T to The Curt Jester for this title.)

We usually don't go to 11 AM Mass, but we did today. The visiting priest gave a great homily, saying (paraphrased) that whatever we worry about going to sleep, and whatever we think about when waking up, that is our god.

Wow. My mind goes 47 different directions when I sleep at night. I can stand to do much better in this regard.

The downside of this Mass was the song selection. It was just about all Marty Haugen and David Haas, including "Gather Us In" (Worst. Opening. Song. Ever.), "We Are Many Parts" for the Eucharist, and "We Are Called" for the recessional. Yep, Mass is All About Us. Thank you, GIA, OCP, and "We Are Church." I dread the impending rollout of Tom Conry's heretical "Ashes" in a couple weeks when Ash Wednesday arrives early.

I used to sing and play this campfire-written drivel and stuff like it (Conry, Cooney, Schutte, Dufford, Farrell, etc.) regularly at Mass. I now regret ever doing so. And now I have another reason not to be a cantor; I won't lead the congregation in any music of this sort.

I don't blame the music ministry at my or any other church; they just don't know any better because the GIA-OCP (motto: "TLM Died And Left Us Boss") cabal has music and liturgical ministers everywhere convinced that Haugen, Haas, et al. are all there is. If I walk into Mass and hear "O Holy Name", I think I'll pass out.

But I must remember and draw hope from the refrain of that song:

Fierce is the fight
For God and the right
Sweet name of Jesus
In Thee is our might.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What a bunch of losers

Oh. My. Heck.

I just looked at the various pages of those seeking the GOP nomination for the 6th District Congressional seat in Maryland, and I cannot believe this bunch of morons trying to unseat octogenarian Roscoe Bartlett. He once said he'd only serve three terms in Congress; how's that working out? Most of the time, I like Bartlett, but he's got to retire. When he speaks, he sounds like he has a perpetual need to clear his throat.

Here are your soon-to-be also-rans:

Tom Croft says he'll only vote what his constituents say via the Internet, even if it goes against his principles. Stand for nothing, and you'll fall for anything. Next.

Joe Krysztoforski opposes the war in Iraq and is pro-death in the womb. Next.

John Kimble
is anti-illegal immigrant and a gun rights advocate, but he's also a trial lawyer and ACLU member and supports "gay marriage." Next.

And one-time Cumberland mayor Frank Nethken, who says he was told by the Lord to run, has dropped out and moved to Arizona. I may vote for him anyway; he's still on the ballot.

Hey, Democrats, I think you have a good shot at picking up this seat and making this state an even deeper shade of blue than it already is. Andrew Duck came mighty close last time, and as long as he holds off former Frederick mayor Jennifer Dougherty, he could find himself in Washington next winter.

Friday, January 18, 2008

More Heat Than Light

A dumb idea, brought to us by Allegheny Power and the Maryland Public Service Commission. (Quick aside: Remember when we were told we could choose our electrical supplier? How's that working out?)

A couple months ago, LC and I got a box in the mail. We had no idea what it was or who sent it to us, so we refused it and sent it back.

It turns out that this box contained two compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs. Allegheny sent these to us via a supplier right around the time that President Bush signed into law an energy bill that will effectively legislate the incandescent bulb out of existence, as this Weekly Standard article details. You might want to know, inter alia, that

once it's fully aglow, according to Department of Energy guidelines, you need to leave it on for at least 15 minutes. In a typically chipper, pro-ban article last week, U.S. News and World Report explained why: "Turning a CFL on and off frequently shortens its life." Odd, isn't it--an energy-saving device that you're not supposed to turn off?

Truth be told, we have many CFLs in our house already, but they do take quite a while to warm up, and many of them simply aren't as bright as their incandescent counterparts. In any event, CFLs aren't all they're cracked up to be. And you can't just throw them in the trash, either.

Bearing all this in mind, Allegheny mailed two of these bulbs to each and every one of its 270,000 Maryland customers, generally from Frederick County westward. And then had the nerve to BILL all its customers for the unsolicited CFLs! That's a move that Eddie Haskell would admire, he who snookered Wally Cleaver into shoveling snow from some lady's walk and then trying to demand money for it.

The outrage was quick, loud, and furious, save for a ditzy local newscaster who was happy to receive--and pay for--these bulbs. Beyond the consumers who started noticing a 96-cent monthly surcharge on their bills for the CFLs, post offices in small towns began to be overrun with the boxes.

Finally, Allegheny gave in and agreed to eat the costs of the bulbs. How gracious of them.

Note too this scare tactic used by the MD PSC:

In a report released a month ago, the Maryland PSC said that because Maryland uses more electricity than it generates, efforts to conserve energy are critical. The report said shortages could force mandatory usage restrictions such as rolling blackouts by 2011 or 2012.
Note how that's conveniently timed after the current governor's term ends. Coincidence? No chance for a Schwarzenegger-esque recall unless O'Malley gets re-elected, which I doubt. And I love how the PSC tried to look tough by taking Allegheny to task for a program that it (the PSC) approved.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pizza Man!

I've started delivering for a local pizza joint that has many other tasty dishes as well. (Yes, Silvergirl, that one.) This is in addition to the traffic job. Most of the time, I'm old enough to be the father of everyone else, including my manager, but not the owners.

I joined at a particularly slow time of year, post-holidays. Despite working today from noon to 7 PM, I only made five runs and not much in tips. I ran a $52 order to one place and got $2. I took a $25 lunch to a local store within 10 minutes and got a dollar for my trouble. Seems to me that folks who are more affluent tend not to tip as well, while those not so well off tend to remember whom the tips help. Ladycub has sure educated me about that!

In one night, I delivered to:

  • A man whose wife had died the week before. God rest her soul. Someone else bought the dinner for him.
  • A hotel not far from my house (where I got a good tip), while some guy in the hotel across the parking lot was standing in his altogether with his curtains wide open . . . on the FIRST FLOOR!
  • A house . . . almost. Every light was lit in this place except for the bedroom, where a TV set was flashing. I knocked for over five minutes with no answer. The folks at the store couldn't get hold of whoever called. So I wound up with his cheese pizza. :-9 We think the non-customer may have been drunk and fallen asleep, but we'll never know.
I'm sure I'll have more stories in the future.

Meanwhile, the search for a new computer goes on. I think I have a combination with Tiger Direct that will work.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sinus Boning

(That's how a guy at a radio station I worked for once said "signing bonus.")

I have a sinus infection. I've been spending most of the last couple days asleep, coughing, enduring headaches, and expelling stuff that would make you want to go, "Spewwww!" LC's been under the weather as well.

Pass me the Mucinex.