Friday, October 31, 2008

Surprise, surprise

You Are 96% Republican

You are a card carrying Republican, and a pretty far right one at that!

There's no chance anyone would ever mistake you for a Democrat.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Punishing the Wealthy

Who will benefit if B. Hussein Obama, who is going to give tax cuts to millions who pay no taxes, allows the Bush tax cuts to expire, raising the top marginal income tax rates to the highest levels in the western world?

No one but government.

Here's an excellent argument as to why this is not only stupid, but immoral, from Kate Wicker.

Would someone explain to me how making the rich poorer is going to make the poor richer? (And that doesn't even take into account the Keynesian fallacy that taxpayers won't do anything different with their assets to make them less taxable when rates go up.) I don't know about you, but I don't remember the last time a poor person created a job for someone else.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Asking for Miracles

From Fr. Z:

Saints are presented to us by Holy Mother Church for “the two I’s”: imitation and intercession.
As all Christians are called to imitate Christ, we also must experience self-emptying and the Cross, abandonment to providence and self-donation. We must be willing to lose everything.
We are not alone: the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant are closely knit, interwoven in charity. We on earth mustintercede for each other and believe and ask for the intercession of the saints.
God makes use of the weak to demonstrate His might and love.
If we do not believe in miracles, we do not ask for them. If we do not ask for them, they will not be granted.
Our life of faith is noticed by non-believers and they are not unaffected.
What a difference a bishop can make.
How often do you invoke the help of the saints and holy angels?
God’s ways are not our ways.
No one is too small to be an occasion of grace for others.
Wow. Amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why I Hate Car Shopping

It's bad enough that I've had to plow through gobs of Craigslist ads for vehicles and take time to test drive them, only to find most of them have been poorly cared for, or have been in wrecks.

Then, I check out the fly-by-night dealerships who sell all their cars "as is" and manage to score a markup anyway. Check out, for example, the obnoxious site of High Sierra Auto Sales (warning: music and a stoopid cursor geegaw) which bills itself as a "CARFAX Certified Dealer!" Um, Carfax doesn't certify dealers. Also, when I noticed their cars carried none of the federally-required Buyer's Guide forms indicating whether there was a warranty or the car was being sold as is, I ran fast and ran far.

Then there are these scoundrels, Lithia Chrysler Jeep of Reno, who sent their sales manager running out the front door of the dealership to try to stop me from leaving after I made it clear I wasn't buying anything that day! He even banged on my window and yelled at me as I was leaving! How pathetic. I e-mailed Lithia coroprate offices to let them know how unprofessional this schlub was.

I've never really liked auto dealers much, especially after our experience buying LC's Prizm at Blowhanka Saturn in fashionable Marlow Heights, MD four years ago. Today didn't help matters any.


This Is Only A Test

Check out Dan O'Day's posting of Terry Moss' production that could be called, "Test of the Emergency Broadcast System: The Musical." And note how the FCC responded to it!

BTW, for those not in radio: A "donut" is a space in a commercial where an announcer can read overtop background music or silence before the commercial concludes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Born "Gay?" Maybe not.

Keep telling yourself that homosexuals are born that way, especially after you read this post from a Jewish man who has recovered from the homosexual lifestyle. He echoes my long-held view that homosexuality is a subconscious choice made as a coping mechanism. BTW, that sound you hear is activists screaming while putting their hands over their ears, for they cannot abide to hear that someone has gone non-homosexual:

I grew up in what psychologists call a "triadic family" -- it is so common in the backgrounds of men who struggle with homosexuality that it has a name. A distant or belittling father, an emotionally smothering or needy mother, and in the center a boy with nobody to guide him on the path to manhood. A boy for whom manhood has become dangerous, threatening, distant. A boy who grows up feeling different from other boys and men, yet yearns to connect with them, with his own masculinity.

When I was five or six years old, my cousin brought her boyfriend -- a strapping muscleman -- to a family party. I threw myself at him, climbing into his lap and onto his shoulders. He threw me in the air, wrestled me, and played with me as my father never did. I couldn't get enough. The adults were vaguely embarrassed at the intensity with which I pursued him; eventually they pulled me away to go to bed.

When I passed through the gay world years later as a young man, I saw the same thing -- men desperately trying to connect with other men. Over time, that yearning had become sexualized. In baths and gay bars, some gays dressed up as caricatures of the most macho of men. The gay community was full of men like me: boys still desperately seeking to crack the code of real manliness.

But consuming another man's masculinity can only temporarily substitute for an honest male self-image. So the search, for most gay men, becomes a series of compulsive, yet fruitless encounters.

I also like this:

In our generation those who struggle with homosexuality have the option of wrapping themselves in the gay liberation narrative. The mantle of chic victimhood quiets a lot of the inner distress -- for a while. The haunting sense of otherness folds in on itself to become a virtue. It feels wonderful to finally renounce that sense of being less than a normal man by declaring you are something else entirely.

But it's a false identity. As I saw up close, brave statements do not end the compulsive search for masculinity. There is no resolution, no revelation of true self.

The pornographic mentality of the gay subculture focuses unrelentingly on physique and external appearances, further postponing the confrontation with true inner self.

And finally (emphasis added):

People ask, "How did you change your sexual orientation?" But the language of the question betrays incorrect notions about homosexuality.

I didn't have to "change" anything. The definition of teshuva is returning to one's true self, one's soul. The sexual attraction I felt to other men was not my true nature; it was an attempt driven by my yetzer hara, my baser self, to satisfy unmet needs, a symptom of missed developmental opportunities and distorted perceptions.

The healing path for men struggling with these attractions focuses on the underlying causes. We build trusting relationships that satisfy our healthy need for male bonding in a non-sexual way. We reclaim our rejected masculinity -- renounced by us in fear and anger -- and re-enter the community of men. Through these actions, we reshape our perceptions, seeing ourselves as the authentic men our souls have always been.

Bless this man for his courage; read the whole thing.

HT: The indispensable

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Withering Heights

What was it like for the movers who had to haul our stuff up to our 3rd-floor apartment? This video may give you an idea. Start at about 3:10 in, and forgive the needless colorization:

(Our movers were a little more reliable than them.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Sky Is Falling!

At least that's what the reaction has been of Deadskins fans to DC Channel 9's decision to show the entire Ravens-Dolphins game on Sunday at 1 PM before going to the Deadskins-Brownies game at 4:15. Chances are that the latter game won't even be affected!

You'd think Jack Kent Cooke had come back from the dead to move the team to Irwindale. Now maybe some of these "fans" will get a taste of what we Ravens fans in Frederick County have had to put up with for years. "The foot's on the other hand now, huh?"

What a sorry bunch of whiners.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Goodbye, Maryland; Hello, Nevada

Monday, 10/6 through Wednesday, 10/8

Pack. Pack. And pack some more. We only thought we'd packed everything we had, given how much we had put into storage, but our offices and kitchen told us differently. The Salvation Army took the entertainment center, but not the sofa since the cushions were becoming threadbare. That was quickly rectified with a Freecycle post; it was gone the same evening.

Unfortunately, we just didn't have time to Freecycle everything. We tried to consume as much food and other items as we could, but we soon realized we'd have to part with a lot of those as well. All the existing cat supplies (litter boxes, carriers, etc.) had to go.

Thanks to my former boss David at Vocelli's for all the cheese boxes; they were perfect, and we had just about enough! Before getting some legitimate boxes from the moving company, I had also snagged some from my prior pizza delivery job and from the liquor store next door to that.

We got a lot of exercise going up and down the steps.

Thursday, 10/9

I got a brief repose from packing as I joined my father for one final round of golf at Frederick Golf Club. Whereas last time I played well and he could have stood some improvement, I stunk up the joint and he had one of his best rounds ever, including a birdie. I can't count how many balls I lost out of bounds from the tee. But we had fun. I'll miss playing golf with him on a semi-regular basis.

Then the packing continued well into the night. (Thanks, love, for picking up the slack while I was having fun.)

Friday, 10/10

Moving day. Enter the huge Allied Van Lines (you think we'd go with Mayflower?) tractor-trailer, backing gingerly into our court. The two guys had everything packed in about four hours, and then set off for Sparks, NV by way of Los Angeles and Sacramento. The only place we could sit out of the way was on our deck; we bequeathed the deck furniture, most of our outdoor equipment, and some other things that were impractical to take along, to our buyers. I made three landfill runs that day. (Note to self: Next time, make sure the movers take ALL the long, thin items like my walking cane (purely decorative, for now) and LC's doorstop so we don't have to try to fit them on the plane!)

Finally, late in the afternoon, we packed our remaining stuff into the rental Chevy HHR that we had obtained a couple days before and headed for La Quinta at BWI Airport. Dinner that night was at the Chevy's at Arundel Mills; it was quite satisfying.

Saturday, 10/11

We awoke to find that someone had backed into the HHR overnight! We got the last available parking spot on the La Quinta lot, and I noticed that someone had parked behind it in a nonexistent space. I figure that had something to do with how the accident occurred. So we had to shell out our deductible and get another vehicle from Enterprise, who actually handled the situation quite well.

I met some old friends for breakfast in Laurel while LC worked on a nursing course. That afternoon, we were both wiped, so we slept for a while. We dined at the Olive Grove restaurant just off the Beltway in Linthicum.

Sunday, 10/12

After an early Mass, I sacked out some more before we headed over to a different hotel, the Ramada Inn, for our going-away party. We wanted to let our family and friends know how much we were going to miss them. Over 80 people attended, and others said they would have shown if they didn't have conflicts. One of our friends brought all seven of his kids from southern Pennsylvania! My, are we blessed.

Monday, 10/13

By this time, I wasn't just tired from the rigors of moving; I was just plain not feeling well. I had a lot of pain on the right side of my head, and some itchy portions on my chest and neck. So we both took it easy through the daytime. That evening, LC's aunt and uncle took us to Sullivan's in Laurel for dinner. The meals were good and the company great, but the service was quite poor.

Tuesday, 10/14

Closing day. But first, it was cleaning day.

We had Elizabeth's Helper, an Emmitsburg-based cleaning company, do one final cleanup of our house before the settlement. I recommend using cleaning folk for such big jobs; believe me, neither of us could have done so. We left them all our remaining cleaning chemicals and buckets.

In the meantime, I saw my NP and found that most of my pain was from a cut behind my ear that had gotten infected somehow. And the itchy parts were poison sumac that someone so generously gave me the week before. I got horse pills for the infection and a steroid-based cream for the itch. Guess I can kiss my baseball career goodbye.

I mailed out our EZ-Passes. For some reason, the Maryland MVA can sell EZ-Passes, but it won't take them back. Eeesh. Meanwhile, LC got our boarding passes for the next day while using her new notebook computer at a Barnes and Noble (the Starbucks wireless net was down).

We had a few hours to kill before settlement, so we had lunch and played pool at Hard Times Cafe. I took a quick 2-0 lead in games of nine-ball, but LC stomped me by winning five of the next six. She was like a pair of nylons; she was on a run!

Then over to our agent's office in downtown Frederick for the settlement. The buyer and her agent were late in arriving because they couldn't find the office, and downtown Frederick at PM rush is not the easiest to negotiate if you don't know what streets are one way in which direction. We blitzed through our documents, then she muddled through hers with some good questions; she and her husband are first-time homebuyers. Then we gave her the keys and told her what to expect about trash pickup, snow removal, the HOA, etc.

We bade farewell to Frederick, and celebrated with one last dinner in one of our favorite places: Rocky Run.

Wednesday, 10/15

The day we go west. Thank goodness that Southwest doesn't have nickel-and-dime charges for extra pieces of luggage. But if we still had even one cat, we couldn't have flown her on Southwest. My CPAP is a bear to take through security; I found out it isn't enough just to have it in its own case, but it has to be removed too! Ick.

As it turned out, my mom and dad were also flying out on Southwest that morning; they were heading to Chicago to see my niece star in a school play. Our flight was leaving from the end of Terminal B. I walked twice from the end of Terminal B to the end of Terminal A to try to find my parents, but no luck. Then I found them the third time I trapsed there. At least I got my exercise in! But why couldn't they have been on one of the Chicago flights leaving from a gate right near us? My mom said she hates multi-stop flights; oh, well. We said our goodbyes to them.

I'll miss you, Mom and Dad. Save for my three months in Florida in 1999-2000, I've never been more than an hour from my folks.

We were not as fortunate as my folks with nonstop flights, but then again, since my FIL gave us his comp tickets, we certainly weren't going to argue!

So long, People's Republic of Maryland.

Flight 1 from BWI to Louisville (SDF) was quite smooth and uneventful; we had room to spread out.

Flight 2 from SDF to Las Vegas (LAS) was much more full and considerably more rowdy, especially with the tipsy, high-roller card players right behind us who were playing either bridge or spades VERY LOUDLY. My leg muscles didn't have much of anywhere to go; I wonder how they managed the four-hour flight. Fortunately, my MP3 player kept me company.

When we landed in LAS, all we'd had to eat for the day was breakfast and a series of small snacks, which I augmented with an Auntie Anne pretzel back at BWI. So we each snarfed a small Uno pizza. I've had better; that one must have been sitting out a while.

To my surprise, Flight 3 from LAS to Reno-Tahoe (RNO) was full as well. The nice lady from Carson City who sat with us explained that many on the flight were Reno-area commuters who, like her, might have an office in Vegas to which they have to report from time to time. We got a nice view of the sunset over the Sierras and Lake Tahoe.

We were fortunate to find a nice cabbie who took us straight to my ILs' house; we tipped him well. Then their friend Iris met us to let us in. BTW, my ILs had flown that day to San Francisco for an operation on cancer in my FIL's liver the next day.

Dinner that night was around the corner in a nice neighborhood Tex-Mex joint called the Buenos Grill. Like Chipotle, only better.

Thursday, 10/16

We started the day with Mass at the St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno, doing so especially to pray for my FIL. Actually, because the cathedral is undergoing renovations, Mass took place in the chapel under the parish offices. There, we met Fr. Masseo Gonzales, whom we had known while he was still a Franciscan brother living at the friary in Ellicott City, MD. He gave us a priestly blessing after Mass. Wow. We're blessed to know him, and will keep him in our prayers; he has a lot of responsibilities.

After breakfast at the Peppermill (no, we didn't gamble, just ate! And took advantage of my ILs' platinum parking pass), we decided to look at our apartment in Sparks to the east, located near the Sparks Marina. Yes, there's really a marina in Sparks! We found out that we could actually take possession of the apartment as soon as we had the money to pay for the initial rent. Finding a local Bank of America where we had established an account before we left Maryland, we got a cashier's check. Then we brought it back to the Marina Village office, and the apartment is now ours! At least through April 30, that is.

It's a third-floor apartment, so I'm not looking forward to hauling up groceries! But it will give us a workout whether we want one or not. Speaking of which, there's a workout room, plus bike and walking paths around the marina and elsewhere in Sparks. And, if we really like the area, there are homes nearby for sale! (We didn't want to buy a home sight unseen, but we shall buy one soon enough.)

After I took a nap, I contacted a neighbor of the above-mentioned Iris about a car she had for sale; we'll need to get cars out here. She was offering a 2-door 2004 Chrysler Sebring that had only 14K miles on it for only $6000, which certainly sounded like a steal. But the first thing we noticed out of whack was the tires; they were feathered and badly worn. We opted to pass, and a Carfax check bore us out; the car had major engine problems at one point.

Good news: my FIL came through his surgery fine. Please keep him in your prayers.

So, our Nevada adventure has begun! Stay tuned as the story unfolds . . . because I didn't fold it properly when packing.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Top Ten New Career Choices In Nevada

Some help for my impending job search, courtesy of my dear friend Vince from his home office in Reisterstown:

10. Blackjack dealer

9. Professional snowboarder

8. Spokesman for the Bunny Ranch

7. Dead guy in CSI: morgue scene

6. Guy with no pants on Reno 911!

5. Flying Predator drones to hunt terrorists

4. Flying Predator drones to give traffic reports

3. Driving clown car in Cirque du Soleil

2. Feeding tigers for Siegfried and Roy

1. Enforcer for "Don" Papa John's pizza deliveries

Thanks, I think!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

It's Not Even Going To Be Close

It's over. Goodnight and see you in 2012.

Was John McCain the BEST we could find on the GOP side, or are we that much at an ebb right now? Actually, the best on the GOP side . . . is his running mate. But she couldn't save the most putrid campaign this side of Bob Dole.

Steve Czaban mirrors my thoughts on the subject quite nicely, and note in his piece how the GOP punditry is conceding to Owe Bama as well.

Since I've already voted by absentee ballot, I figure I'll find something else to occupy my time come election night.

Enjoy, Democrats. Go crazy.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

And Double Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh

*utter frustration*

For the second week in a row, the Ravens outplayed their opponent and lost.

Remember the ABC's:

A - Always

B - Be

C - Closing.

Always Be Closing.

If this team can't find a way to go for the jugular, it'll be known as The Team That Showed So Much Promise.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Economic Quotes of the Day

We are now in the midst of a normal cyclical market correction, with the economy having created 9 million jobs since the 2003 tax cuts.
--Investor's Business Daily editorial, 10/3/2008 (emphasis added)

I have correctly predicted 41 of the last 3 recessions.
--My friend Sean, today

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Klaatu Barada Nikto

Remember the early 50s sci-fi classic, The Day The Earth Stood Still? Klaatu and his robot Gort managed to stop all power on the earth and threatened to destroy it because humanity was posing a danger to other planets. Only the above phrase kept Gort from carrying out that task.

The movie was an anti-nuclear screed, but now there are those like China and Iran who want to make this a reality. It's called an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.

The premise is stunningly simple. You and I are dependent on all sorts of electronics and electricity to run our lives, including in the running of the computer that you're using. But what if a missile detonated an EMP high above the United States and set it off in the precise fashion? Life as we know it would grind to a halt.

No communications systems would work. What few vehicles that could operate would not be able to get gasoline from anywhere. There would be no such thing as emergency services. Hospitals would be out of business. Banks and financial services would all but vanish . . . and your money with it. Airplanes would all have to make emergency landings on dead reckoning, or crash. Bicycle-jackings, anyone? Know how to ride a horse? Got any good Amish friends? (thanks to LC for that last one)

The topic isn't new; it's been explored in various works of fiction, and in one of the few things I commend him for, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has been sounding the alarm about EMP attacks for some time. But the reason EMP has come to the fore again is that a new draft report from the State Department (!) says the U.S. must go further in space-based missile defense systems because

A simple Scud missile, with a nuclear warhead, could be fired from an inconspicuous freighter in international waters off our coast and detonated high above the U.S. It would wreak near-total devastation on America's technological, electrical and transportation infrastructure. With the explosion masked as a terrorist attack, Iran could plausibly deny any responsibility.

Iran has practiced launching and detonating Scuds in midflight, launched from ships in the Caspian Sea. Iran has also tested high-altitude explosions of its Shahab-3 ballistic missile, a test consistent with an EMP attack. Iran only needs a nuke.

I wonder whether the late Robert Wise and those who made The Day The Earth Stood Still ever envisioned this scenario. I wonder too if those whou would grant Iran unfettered nuclear access really think Mahmoud AhMADinejad and his mullahocracy have no interest in seeing this attack come to pass.

Finally, I wonder whether one day we'll be wringing our hands in despair as we sit in front of our silent TV sets and computer screens, and don't even hear static on our radios, because we did nothing to prevent this from happening.