Friday, June 30, 2006

Please Stand By for an Historic Announcement!

Ladies and Gentlemen (cough), tonight I introduce to you the post of posts, the premier prognostication (shut up, spellcheck), the ultimate utterance, the font heard round the world..........

We are experiencing technical difficulties, please stand by.......

(what do you mean we lost it? Lost it HOW? Didn't save? DIDN'T SAVE?! What are you, a bunch of idiots? Dammit, I spent minutes typing this masterpiece up, spent what seemed like an hour researching it, and you tell me that you shut the damn computer down without saving what might possibly have been the equivalent of the Watergate tapes, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bob Almighty NEW TESTAMENT of blog posts......????!!!!!!!!)


Ladies and Gentlemen, it seems that tonight's post has suffered a tragic accident. The normally talented and hardworking staff here at Dances With Leaves would like to apologize for robbing you of what may very well have been the post to end all posts, the kind of literary wonderment that few people in the literate world could ever have hoped to have the opportunity to read. We are so heartbroken, in fact, it has been decided that in order to make amends, we are all going to line ourselves against the nearest wall and have ourselves shot with very large caliber weapons. We feel this is the least we can do for having failed so miserably to provide you with the kind of quality expression that you have come to expect from Dances With Leaves, but never really enjoyed. The survivor of this great sacrifice to literary excellence (the lucky SOB who draws the short straw), will provide you with high quality digital photographic evidence that this sentence has been carried out, in hopes that the graphic detail said photos will provide will somehow cater to your thirst for vengeance for having been slighted so horribly. We thank you for this opportunity, and hope to have the blog back up and running in time for the next post, which we will now admit ahead of time shall be quite mediocre, as not to be forced to waste another perfectly good editorial staff, as it is frankly getting rather difficult lately to recruit adequately talented people to work for us, especially for what we can afford to pay them.

Sincerely yours......

Executive Editor
Dances With Leaves

Anybody know where the white-out is?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Caught in the Middle

One of the most conceptually brilliant yet poorly executed jobs in a wide variety of disciplines is that of the middle manager, that poor hapless person who is assigned to supervise the underlings in a department and wring as much performance out of them as possible. When these people do their jobs correctly, they are invaluable to their departments, providing assistance as a resource, a little extra "oomph", plugging the holes that pop up from time to time and pumping up the morale of their workers when things get hairy. Or, they take what would otherwise be a well oiled machine consisting of experienced people who know how things work and totally screwing it up.

Half the time it's not the clueless individuals fault. While the guys in the trenches who are actually performing the work know what works and what doesn't, and are committed to getting the most return for the least effort, the person appointed over them usually hasn't a clue as to what's going on yet is made to believe they have some god-given superior knowledge that they need to impart to those beneath them. Now, the superior knowledge we speak of is that magic piece of paper we all know as the college degree. The degree might be in English literature, basket weaving, or pop psychology, and might not have anything to do with selling shoes or producing transistors, but it is still expected to translate into some magic management ability. And you wonder why the fresh faced pimply college graduate that just got to appointed to manage you seems to be out to destroy you and your department, if not the entire company.

It is well known in the military, although I'm not sure this is imparted to the fodder at the service academies, that if fresh young lieutenants desire to survive their tours of duty, that they best listen to their older NCO's. Theoretical leadership is one thing; leading the charge into stupidity due to lack of real life experience is another.
I would suggest that aside from the military, and sometimes even including it, the two major courses of study that need to be majored in when it comes to managing people is Respect and Humility. When you are first entering ANY field of endeavor, you may come with fresh ideas and idealism, but you are only asking for failure if you think you have all the answers and ignore the resources at your disposal already present in your assigned department. And if you truly expect to succeed, for yourself and your company, then respect and humility are two virtues you ignore at your own peril. These people you are expected to lead will not follow you, and will even go so far as to sabotage your agenda if you do not draw upon their knowledge and experience before running roughshod over their contributions to the collective. With their help, you have the potential to become an excellent manager. Without it, you invariably will become the monkey wrench and your career will be short.

So whose to blame for middle managers being the bane of the worker, the customer, and the company? Well, simply put, it's the people who hire them. These are usually upper tier management types who came up through the ranks by rote rather than actual work and have no real idea how their workers do what they do. They hire BODIES, preferably with that magic piece of paper, and throw them into the fray with very little preparation, orientation, education, or any real explanation of what's expected of them or how to achieve it. They usually pay them just enough to compensate them slightly better than the hourly staff, yet work them incredibly long and inconvenient hours for a set salary. The buck usually stops with them, but only after the hapless greenhorn manager has destroyed the morale of the department, causing the best ones to quit and firing the rest. By then the damage has already been done, they get fired or demoted, and then the cycle begins again. In the meantime, another group of hourly, hard working stiffs are taught to hate college graduates and the companies that employ them.

We are constantly fed this ration of shit about how we can all become upwardly mobile in the business world by taking advantage of higher education, adapting our skills to the new realities which keep changing all around us. That's all fine and dandy, but let's say we ALL become college graduates and become middle managers. Who's left to do the work? Do we genetically alter orangoutangs to "man" the sales floor? Do we train chimpanzees to fabricate computer chips? How about an especially bright rhesus monkey to take care of you in the Critical Care ward of the hospital? Is THAT how critical the common hourly wage worker is viewed in the workplace? Does knowledge and experience count for anything when it comes to value in the company?

I occupy a particular niche in my organization which is not particularly well compensated or respected in the grand scheme of things, yet I know the impact my contribution has on this entity which cannot easily be done without. Sometimes I have to provide my own sense of self worth in order to give my contributions some validity. But, I am sure that I am in the majority in that respect, so I am fairly confident that what I have discussed here rings true with many people. What I would hope is that those of you who have aspired to become or are middle managers understand the foundations upon which your position are built, and perhaps that you endeavor to develop that all-important virtue of RESPECT and HUMILITY that wasn't taught to you in college or written into your employment contract. You might find yourself actually becoming a big help to your fellow man rather than someone we'd just as soon murder in the back store room.

Results 1 - 10 of about 7,060,000 for incompetent managers. (0.27 seconds)
Incompetent Managers Cost Businesses Too Much
Incompetent Managers Cost Businesses Too Much. ... The cost to business of leaving an incompetent manager in place is high. It costs the company in errors, ... - 22k - Cached - Similar pages

Performance Management Instead of Layoffs
It costs too much to leave an incompetent manager in place. If the employee won't request a return to a level at which they were competent, the company must ... - 27k - Cached - Similar pages

Ten Signs of an Incompetent Leader
I recently changed employers after suffering with an incompetent manager for 4 years. It was difficult - I had been with the company for 13 years and am 49 ... - 67k - Cached - Similar pages

BBC NEWS | Education | One in 10 workers 'incompetent'
I agree there are a lot of workers who are incompetent. But this applies to managers too. Often incompetent managers are asked to report on staff who are ... - 49k - Cached - Similar pages

Advice Line by Bob Lewis | InfoWorld | Reader: The problem is ...
Reader: The problem is incompetent managers. Filed under: None. Bob ... The response to Reorg'ed sounds like the standard management school line with all ... archives/2005/03/reader_the_prob.html - 54k - Cached - Similar pages

Job Seekers Advice :: View topic - Incompetent Managers!
Incompetent managers. Evil or Very Mad ... Also, some managers don't want to change. At my current workplace, my supervisor has no real desire to expand the ... - 49k - Jun 24, 2006 - Cached - Similar pages

How to avoid recruiting the incompetent
Incompetent managers often make their subordinates' lives quite miserable and more senior managers are often too slow in recognising the symptoms. ... ARTICLES/BF_NEWSART/VIEW.ASP?Q=BF_NEWSART_90444 - 25k - Cached - Similar pages

The incompetent manager: Part two
When I wrote in my last Headhunter piece about incompetent managers, I didn't expect much of a response, but the article really touched a nerve! ... ARTICLES/BF_NEWSART/VIEW.ASP?Q=BF_NEWSART_94332 - 24k - Cached - Similar pages

The Adams Principle
Scott Adams: I'd say 10 percent are villainous; 90 percent are incompetent. The Dilbert Principle explains why there are so many incompetent managers. ... Copy_of_MA_SegArticle/0,4453,227587,00.html - 50k - Cached - Similar pages

How to Deal With a Lazy Manager
She is technically Incompetent and just repeats what she pumps from others. ... 06/10/04. Incompetent managers are hired by incompetent managers. ... html?forumID=7&threadID=153145&start=0 - 116k - Jun 25, 2006 - Cached - Similar pages

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Death of a Tire

Ah, the excitement of living on the edge! The tire that I plugged and put about 3 cans of fix-a-flat in to hopefully wear some tread off before having to replace it decided it didn't want to live anymore and blew out on me while going to pick up the wife from work. I had budgeted enough time to get there to pick her up on time, yet I still managed to get that toy tire they call a spare onto the car and still make it only five minutes late. Am I good or what?

The thing about dirt roads is that you get to pay more often for front end alignments than you normally would if you enjoyed the luxury of paved access. Not only do I have a fairly good tire with a puncture that won't stay fixed, but the right front tire is getting rather thin thread-wise on the left side of the wheel, thanks to the beating our washboard road inflicts on the front end. Oh, sure, they grade this road at least once every two weeks, but that washboard effect returns in no time at all, that is, if it hasn't rained all week and turned it into a mud bog. So, I have TWO tires that have to be replaced, AND a front end alignment to boot. Just one more reason we're broke all the time.

I know that the car manufacturers put that itty-bitty "space-saving" spare in there only to get you to the nearest tire store, but perhaps you've noticed how many cars are driving around on these things as though they came standard equipment. The truth of the matter is that sometimes we have to drive on these things for several weeks before we can afford to replace them, which is why I'm happy as hell that they engineer these "temporary tires" to higher standards than they will admit to. The warning labels say "Do not exceed 50 mph", and "Only use to get to the nearest service station". Yea, right. Service station? I haven't seen one of those places in years! There are gas stations, but you're lucky if they even have an air pump, much less "service" of any kind. Anyway, anything that costs anything usually has to wait till pay day, and then I get to rob peter to pay paul.

We've been "roughing it" since we received our last electric bill. In an effort to reduce the damage on the next one, we have taken drastic measures, such as washing the dishes in the sink (my generation was raised without dishwashers, so we know how it's done), actually hanging clothes outside to dry, and shutting off lights when they are not needed. I think I have every bulb in this house replaced by a fluorescent, so there's not much more I can do about that aspect of power usage. I've even given up my daily hot bathes in favor of an every-other day shower, with some touch-ups in between to keep from getting ripe. Now THAT has to save SOME money on this damn electric bill. There is one thing, however, I refuse to give up, and that's my air conditioning. Air conditioning in the South is like the life support system on a space craft. Especially if your more suited to living in Alaska to begin with. I have it turned "up" to 78, but that's as far as I go. So, we'll see if all this frugality is actually going to have any effect on our bill or not. Personally, I think it won't. They'll just jack up the "fuel charge" to ensure it's outrageous, no matter what I do, short of living in the hot, humid dark.

I really had some profound thoughts percolating around in my mind today that I wanted to post, but first I had to take care of the auto angst. Posting about it is something like taking a deep breath and letting it all out. Very cleansing. Over and done, time to move on.

Stay tuned for our next exciting episode when the wife spies me naked and the chase begins!


Dearest Troll,

If you are reading this, I hope it provides you with your minimum daily requirements for something to bitch about, since you have this overwhelming need to complain about people who mention the bad things that happen to them that you consider so much pablum. I tried very hard to seem as though this was an Earth shattering event in my life. so that you could draw upon your inner rage and righteousness concerning my need to get a life. I do so try to accommodate you. If I have failed to whine and moan in a manner consistent with your standards, please let me know so that I can add the appropriate manner of drama to my next catastrophe which will sufficiently fuel your ire. Thank you and have a nice day.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The War Tapes

There is a movie out called "The War Tapes". This is footage taken by soldiers during their missions, without any of the "hollywood" being used to craft what occurs on the screen. I haven't yet seen it, but I did catch some snippets of it on the news. I could see immediately that this is what the American people needs to see. You will see the down and dirty reality of the world these guys find themselves in. You will see cultural confusion, mayhem, things going horribly wrong, and humanity being found in the most unlikely places. It's one thing to hear narrative by those who hate this war, and by those whose job it is to put positive spin on the mission. It's something else entirely to see this world virtually thru the eyes of those who are getting shot at, without all the bullshit editing. Of course, there's no way in hell you are going to see video of American soldiers gone wrong as has been brought to light recently, but there is one incident involving a humvee vs little girl that highlights the tragedy that can occur in the least expected ways.
They say that history is recorded by the victors, and as such, the record can tend to be rather one sided. There's no way an American sitting in their easy-boy can have the same view of this war as the average Iraqi who has endured this hell over the last five years. No matter what their understanding is of religion, history, politics, geography, or this thing we call democracy, the Iraqi's viewpoint of Americans is colored by what has happened to them in the vicinity of American military power, or even the death and destruction snuck into their midsts by the insurgency and the terrorists. One way or another, Americans are going to either be blamed for what they did, or for what they didn't do, for everything that is happening now began when a brain-dead American President and his rich handlers put our fighting men in harms way for no good reason.
Even highly educated and politically astute Iraqi's now find themselves trying to survive in a world that has gone from bad to worse, and have learned giving credit to Americans for any good they might have tried to do is a no-win situation, for they can be killed just for thinking that we are anything but infidel crusaders who are occupying their country.
Anyway, thanks to portable high tech media, we are able to get first-hand glances at the truth rather than the rah-rah glossy spin that the mainstream media and our government likes to feed us. And thanks to these brave men who carried these cameras, we can make up our own minds whether or not we will write history to favor the victors, or to favor the truth, however painful it might be.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Not sure about this.....

Well, I get a look at the results of posting with this new browser and I see that somehow it uploaded TWO of the pics I intended to insert. I think I might stick with what I know..........

Testing a New Toy

OK, I just loaded this new browser which is supposed to make blogging easier by integrating it into

the browser.  Let's see if this works..........


Blogged with Flock

Monday, June 19, 2006

Where there's New Bloom County, There's always Hope......

If bloggers were rock groups, I would almost count myself as an "Aspects of Amber", as well as her husbands associated "Views from a Penised-American" groupie. I have no real idea why I enjoyed her blog so much once I came across it, but I guess the content rang with me on some level. She is truly gifted when it comes to writing about whatever she thinks or about what happens with her and her family. Or maybe it's just me.

I remember how long we die-hard Beatles fans held out for a Beatles reunion, and how devastating it was when John was murdered, putting that dream more or less to rest forever. In retrospect, had they actually kissed and made up, they might have actually fallen flat on their collective faces with new material after having done somewhat rather well with their individual efforts. Ah, but one can always imagine.........

Some people do things so well, so naturally, they seem oblivious to just how amazed others might be with their talents. I suppose they are too close to themselves to understand the impact they have outside of their influence. Now, I don't want it misunderstood that I am the kind of person who can be so rabid about ANY person and their talent that I could ever be considered a FAN of the worst kind, much like those people who dress up as Klingons or Vulcans and attend every Star Trek convention they can get to. If I were to spy my favorite singer or song writer across the room, I would not make any overt effort to approach them and swoon, because aside from their talent, as far as I am concerned they are simply human beings, no better or worthy than myself. Besides, it would annoy me to no end if they came across to me in any superior sense, because I know damn well they put their pants on the same as I do, even if they have servants do it for them.

So, due in part, I believe, to this oblivion, Amber has decided she doesn't need the pressure she might have felt in posting to her blog, and has taken a take-it-or-leave it approach to the whole enterprise. Well, I can understand. There is so much to life and enjoying said life outside the pages of a blog, and one does not always lend that much weight to recording it for the enjoyment of strangers. Again, sounds logical to me.

But........well........DAMN..........I'm in withdrawal. I hate admitting to it. It's silly on the face of it, but there you have it. It's as though the paper boy rides his bike past my house and deliberately refuses to throw me my Sunday paper, even though I subscribe to the damn thing, and he does it with a smirk on his face. You miss those comics, those Circuit City sale papers, the commentaries, etc. You miss it because you can sit down whenever you have the free time, take your time, and slowly savor each and every printed word. Much like a well written blog that you have gotten used to. Sometimes you want to throw some tacks on the sidewalk in revenge. But of course you don't. You just die a little bit each day you see that same last post just sitting there, perhaps never to be updated. It's like your favorite dog died and still hasn't returned from the Pet Semetary.

If Amber is still visiting us, this might perhaps piss her off. She'll contemplate sending me an e-mail telling me to chill, that she has better things to do, doesn't need the judgment, yadda yadda, and she would have every right to. However, I want to hopefully head that off by saying that even if she never posts again, I just wanted to tell her that while she did grace the monitor of my Imac, she added just a bit more wattage to the sunshine of my life. She made me laugh, she made me smile, as I am sure she did whoever read her fantastic blog. Whatever she does in the future concerning "Aspects of Amber", I wish her well, whether that be an occasional post, another full blown run, or leaving it behind forever. At least many of us were given a quick look through the window of a life well lived, and to me that has been as good as any novel I ever read. And should there be a sequel in the works, you can count me at the head of the line to get first glimpse at it.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Just Another Soap Box Derby

I know it's not wise to classify people with a broad stroke, but my experience seems to indicate to me something that is rather straight forward. The more "conservative" a person tends to be, the meaner they tend to be at the core. Now, inherent meanness is also a symptom of people who lack empathy, who tend to behave in a violent or anti-social way, such as stealing, robbing, or any number of ways that have a negative impact on the people around them, but you would think that educated, law-abiding people who consider themselves moral and religious would be constrained from these same behaviors, and they are not. Some of the most outspokenly "moral" people seem to show up alot at protests spitting on people and screaming at them that they are going to burn in hell. They tend to be the ones most likely to interfere in the personal lives of people they don't know, such as gays or some other group they view as being less than human. They manifest themselves as police and prosecutors who worry more about opening a can of whoop-ass on those they consider scum, than serving and protecting the public, no matter who that public happens to be. They show up in congress passing every law they can cutting off assistance to those less fortunate and in need of help to find some hope and meaning in life. You find them running private companies and corporations doing everything they can to get as much work out of people while at the same time cutting back on their wages and benefits, presumably in an effort to maximize the returns to their stockholders (and maximizing their own personal wealth while they are at it). These people sport perfect haircuts, impeccable suits, drive statement cars, and hobnob with all the "right" people. They are pillars of their communities. I wonder about the strength of these pillars that are said to hold up our communities. Seems like a pretty weak foundation to me.

There is not one person that can consider themselves the slightest bit intelligent who can claim to not know the basic difference between right and wrong. Yet, their definition seems to be that right is anything you can get away with, wrong those things you get caught doing. Students seem to think that cheating at exams are simply tools for success, and those who can skillfully wield these skills will see that success. Those who don't try are dopes. Lobbyists get paid to promote the interests of their clients, and you have to wonder how so many of these bright, intelligent individuals can cash their rather large checks and sleep at all that night, considering the things they do to promote those interests, and how outright immoral many of those interests are. Subcontractors take federal moneys handed out by the truckloads in times of crisis, and retire to their new hot tubs laughing at how easy it was to get rich putting a few tarps on damaged roofs. And meat packing plants, corporate agricultural giants, and developers welcome illegal aliens with open arms, so willing are these downtrodden individuals to be exploited in order just to have a job. Are all these people possessed by some devil?

Something rather frightening is the idea that most, if not all these people, really do know the difference between right and wrong, and simply don't care. What's puzzling is how easily those who claim to be religious, with all it's moral teachings and promised rewards/punishments, justify their clearly off-kilter interpretations of the moral code. We know that many God fearing people actually do conduct themselves in such a way as to reflect the teachings of Christ, yet just as many somehow act as though they got the teachings of Christ confused with the Satanic Bible. We are already coming face to face with the power of a corrupt interpretation of the Koran, and just how bloodthirsty it's adherents can be. Our past is also equally painted in the blood spilled by Christian inquisitions. Perhaps the sin we commit the most is the sin of self-serving righteousness.

Those of us who have no idea what to believe in are not in the clear. We are dependent entirely upon our influences, our upbringing, and perhaps something genetic in order for us to see paths to take through our life that does not run roughshod over our peers. As our societies are constructed, you would think there was some tangible reward for living our lives in some benign, caring manner, yet so much misery can befall those who attempt to do so. I suppose the rewards ARE intangible, personal, and can only be realized only by those equipped to do so. Wealth may not exactly be the source of all evil, but neither is it the ticket to happiness, as many a lottery winner has discovered to their dismay. The pursuit of happiness itself seems to be a vehicle for misery in and of itself, depending on what you decide the goal actually is, happiness-wise. It's all so relative. An African who hasn't lost half his children to work the farm that hasn't been destroyed by drought or marauding rebels might think himself extremely happy, while the hard charging executive making six figures might one day look in the mirror and ask himself if this was all there was.

There are guru's galore and books-a-million which tell us how to find God, happiness, or make lots of money in just minutes a day. So tell me, was every thing we were taught growing up totally irrelevant? Our parents, our community, our government was supposed to have instilled in us the rules of engagement, yet pay attention to any mass of humanity you find yourself in the middle of and it's quite apparent that you aren't in Kansas anymore. Look in the rear view mirror at the idiot riding 2 inches off your rear bumper and tell me where in driving school he learned THAT brilliant maneuver. Observe as kids run around out of control while their parents ignore them while shopping, and try not to think of forced sterilization. I just don't know what happened to the world while everything was supposedly getting better. Better how, exactly?

So here I am, sitting here writing these observations, and you'd have to think. "Ah, here's Mr Superiority, sitting in his own goody-goody highchair telling us how bad we all are, probably upset that he hasn't been awarded his own Nobel Peace Prize for being above it all." I wish. I wish I there weren't people out there who are reading this and agreeing with most of it, because they know it's true. I wish there wasn't some intangible line hidden somewhere between the good guys and the bad guys that we seem to have lost track of. I wish I myself truly knew what happiness was and how to somehow be able to say these things and not be thought of as naive for doing so, if not downright deluded. Well, since I am NOT the sophisticated, highly intelligent, world renowned columnist that was licensed to make such proclamations, the most I can suggest is that all this is nothing more than humble opinion that will carry little weight in our collective arguments. But they are mine. I am comfortable with them. They keep me warm.

Which brings me to global warming.........

Just kidding.........:)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Passion Fruit, Overipe

My passion for anything of late has been sadly lacking. I do not know if this is a consequence of age, circumstance, the constant stress I find myself under, or the low normal testosterone levels my DO has accused me of having, but it sucks all the same. I vaguely remember the fire that burned within me concerning matters of love, lust, adventure, whatever strange trip I undertook at those given times, yet the effect such emotions had upon my pulse rate are but a distant memory to me now. Perhaps my master control center has accepted some sense of resignation and has adjusted my brain chemistry accordingly in order to preserve my sanity. Perhaps that is a good thing. I am certainly in no position to suddenly find myself in the grip of some wanderlust, some post-midlife crisis that can only be sated by abandoning my sinking ship and swimming with the mermaids, for in that direction lurks pain for one other if not just myself when the inevitable falling down comes to claim me and smite me for my foolishness. Ahhhh....but one can craft such fine daydreams from such longing, can one not?

I have not read a good book in awhile. But thanks to Netflix, an affordable alternative to cable or satellite when you can't fit that monthly ransom in the budget, I do get to enjoy an occasional happy ending to ease my unease at what the future holds for me in these last few decades of my performance this time around on planet Earth. I seriously need to consider whether or not giving up watching or listening to the news would be a wise move, considering that the ratio of good news to bad as so sadly out of kilter these days. They say that what you don't know can't hurt you, but I have always been a firm believer in knowing what to try and dodge and when, rather than risk getting blind-sided in ignorant bliss. However, it has become painfully apparent that knowing how terribly wrong things are going and being able to do anything about it are two completely different things, the former, being terribly good at, unfortunately has no bearing on the later, which I am not. So, why worry? Perhaps the people who were pulling the Gipper's strings were geniuses after all, getting what's his name to put out that snappy little tune, "Don't worry, be happy!"

The current crisis in national identify, the environment, consumerism, etc, are meaningless if in addition to all that, it's just window dressing on the surprise ending starring the killer asteroid which has our name on it. So, knowing that entire ecosystems and most of the creatures that inhabited them have come and gone with fair regularity over the course of geologic history, perhaps it is pointless to worry over the ultimate fate of the current residents. Perhaps it is pointless to worry what effect energy prices will have on interest rates. Perhaps it is pointless to worry whether or not American Idol will be subcontracted to run our next election. Perhaps it is pointless to worry whether or not The Michael made the slightest dent in the fabric of time, space, or the memories of those who stumbled across him while playing with the next button.

I have been equally silly to think that people I know, even my wife, have given weight to the idea of keeping up with my thought processes by reading my blog. It is strange that the people closest to you are the ones least likely to go out of their way to see what you are up to out here in blogville. Perhaps that is why we ARE out here, because we know that those who do read us are not tainted by any vested interest in doing so. Does that make sense? It does to me, though I'm not sure why. And when I do become somewhat used to visiting with any particular blogger, much like expecting that sunday paper to be there on the doorstep, and then it's not, it's similar to being jilted by some lover who you think has suddenly tired of you. There are withdrawal symptoms, and you hate yourself for projecting onto these more or less complete strangers some need you don't even recognize in yourself, much less admit to. So you take a deep breath, get your bearings, and realize that blogging is as fluid a state of relationship as any you have with flesh and blood people that you interact with on a daily basis. They have their own self-contained lives, that don't include you; they share a laugh, they shed some light, and then they move on, and you try and remember them, these wraiths you came to value so much, perhaps for no valid reason other than the smile they brought to your grey day when you needed it most.

Just thank Bob for them, and get back to the keyboard, for you just might be bringing a smile to someone just like you, for reasons only they could know, and that's a good enough thing when all is said and done.


I was listening to NPR (yea, that commie liberal propaganda machine out to poison our minds) and they brought up the fact that Missouri, and now some other states, have begun to lower their flags to half-staff whenever one of their citizen-soldiers are returned to them from Iraq in a coffin. This is right and good, to honor each individual husband, son, wife, daughter, that gave their life in service of their country. But......what's this? How DARE they do such a thing? There are those who are suggesting that it's not appropriate to lower the flag for just anybody in such a fashion. Oh really. They say that we have Veterans day and Memorial day to honor our vets living and dead, and that should be enough. You don't say....

What I see here is the same mindset that suggested we shouldn't be allowed to see pictures of Air Force cargo plans full of flag-draped coffins. Nope, we don't need to be upsetting people by putting the cost of this war right in their face, where they have to see it and acknowledge that all this is not just something happening somewhere else, that it's happening to us all, and not all of us can remain detached as the body count mounts in this insane conflict our insane "president" got us into.

I remember the time when westerns and combat movies were sanitized, cowpokes wearing pressed, clean jeans and not a drop of blood to be seen when the bad guys, or even the good guys, caught a bullet. You never saw one soldier with a look of terror painted on his face, and the enemy was made out to look like some maniacal smiling half-human creature that was perfectly alright to kill. Then, finally, Hollywood got real and started portraying the not so clean and pretty aspects of conflict, be it in the old West or in Vietnam, and suddenly cowboys and indians wasn't so fun anymore. Even the squeaky clean bulkheads and decks of the Enterprise gave way to the dirty, not always well maintained look of a more realistic depiction of spacecraft interiors. You might remember that the Millennium Falcon looked like it hadn't had a wax job in quite awhile, and it carried it's well earned share of scorch marks. Life, real or imagined, is rarely pretty.

I am not the kind of person who thinks burning the flag is going to make friends and influence people, despite the fact I and plenty of other Americans have plenty to protest about. I think lowering the flag to half-staff is a VERY appropriate way to pay honor to my brothers in arms who did not make it back. But, I have been tempted of late to consider flying the flag in another configuration that delivers a message loud and clear, another way which under these circumstances I believe is right and proper, and respects the flag and the nation it stands for......upside down. Flying the flag upside down is the internationally recognized signal of distress. Not since World War II has this country been so tested, from within as well as without. Vietnam was just a primer. America is beginning to lose sight of what it stands for, and if that is not an emergency, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


It's you and me, guy. Slowly but surely our universe is shrinking, as posts from our companions become few and far between. LIfe goes on, which seems to be the mantra, yet here we are, you and I, drawing on our Tequila's, lazing in our beach recliners, commenting on politics, life in general, and that awesome sunset kissing the horizon. Next to us we can see the imprints of other recliners, perhaps some empty beer bottles, left there by those who used to share our passion. What is it that keeps us here, my friend? Certainly our lives back in the real world are just as busy, just as full of circumstance, as those who have abandoned us. Will that nasty shark leap out of the surf and drag us into the water as well?

It disturbs me to think that perhaps this passion we have is nothing more than some passing fancy, some fad so yesterday we will dismiss it as something we did for lack of something better to do. I realize thay the gauntlet we have to run every time we seek the time to sit down and do this can be intimidating. Even our own loved ones glance sideways at us and whisper amongst themselves, worried that we have more to say to the world than we do to them. Ah, but if only they would realize that we are speaking to them as well, only sometimes in the only way we truly feel comfortable with. Why is it that complete strangers seem to "get us" while those who think they know us think of us as eccentric for spending so much time with this? You'd think we had just one day up and announced we were headed to Peru to commensurate with mystic llamas, please don't forget to feed the dog. I could think of worse things a husband, a wife, a friend, a coworker could worry about us getting involved with. Or is it just me?

I can only imagine what people must of thought about the likes of Da Vinchi, Martin Luther, and Steve Jobs as they became engrossed in concepts and ideas that people must have thought were a total waste of time. Did it give them pause, so much so that short of their force of will they might have abandoned it in order to fit in better with their associates and family? "Dammit, Albert, enough of this relativity crap, come to dinner before it gets cold!" Imagine the what ifs.......

What disturbs me most are those truly talented ones who suddenly up and decide the whole thing bores them and suddenly drop off the face of the Earth, Blogger-wise. They have no idea the holes they leave in a wondrous universe that would not have been quite so wondrous had they not helped to create it. They have no idea the impact they have had on those who shared their lives, their ideas, their rants, their tribulations. Of course, some will attribute to us the same lame dedication that makes such fools of Trekkies and such, but the fondness that we have for our brothers and sisters in blogging goes much deeper, to family and values, than to fantasy and wishfulness. We truly end up caring about each other, and however you viewed your participation in all this, it hurts as deeply when one of us flippantly dismisses their value to this family and leaves it.

I know how both you and I struggle sometimes to remain relevant on a consistent basis, but we also know that we will have our good days, or bad days, and our moments of utter brilliance, such as the law of averages and how life in general treats us. So we stick it out, my insane friend, and if in the end, you and I are the last comics standing, then you and I alone will hold our heads high as we take the golden wet noodle award and place it on our mantles, more than happy to brag to our progeny just what it meant and how we won it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Here we go again........

It's the first storm of the new hurricane season and already the media is outside in raincoats acting like dumb kids. They somehow figure in order to be authentic, they have to stand outside, leaning at 45 degrees, risking getting decapitated by a flying piece of tin roofing. Hey, just point the stupid camera out a thick window, we can see it, dumb-asses!

The thing about this one, the first named this year, is that it powered up rapidly once it got somewhat organized. It may not reach hurricane strength, but it will dump alot of water, only in those areas that have pathetic drainage, of course, and the winds will be strong enough to clean out alot of those dead limbs that are otherwise out of reach in our trees. This does not bode well for the rest of the season, since it seems these things are going to appear, organize, and turn into the same kind of monsters that trampled all over us last year, perhaps quicker than most of us can get out of their way. Used to, these storms would form up over near Africa and slowly wind their way towards us, but now these bastards are popping up right off the coastlines and it's instant hurricane; batten down the hatches if you have any.

And we deserve it. We deserve it for ignoring the likes of Al Gore when he tried to bring attention to the fact that we have had a major impact on our atmosphere. We deserve it for electing conservatives who's favorite pastime is hiding their heads in the sand because they think denying problems make them go away. We deserve it because we have to make "statements" by driving the most stupid kinds of cars we can afford. We deserve it because we buy this myth that promoting conservation and efficiency costs money and jobs, when in fact it actually creates them. We deserve it because too many of us believe in a God that is going to come down and clean up our mess for us so we don't have to take responsibility for it. Can you spell "L E M M I N G S" ?

This place is going to be a fantastic archaeologic site some time in the not-all-that-distant future for any alien species that happens to stumble across this planet. They are going to uncover evidence of an advanced civilization, and are going to be so puzzled trying to understand how a species that could build the things they dig up could have destroyed itself. Hopefully, the planet itself will have survived the upcoming environmental catastrophe as it survived all the others, and it's verdant plant life will have erased the ugliness we imposed upon her. Perhaps the rats, which seem to be able to survive just about anything, will evolve into a sentient species that doesn't trade common sense for the ability to love, create art and music, and ponder their place in the universe. Whoever comes after us, I wish them well.

Friday, June 09, 2006

OH, and One More Thing..........

I would very much like to shove a corn cob up Ann Coulter's ass and make her brush her teeth with it.

P.S. Don't let this distract you from tonight's actual episode. Just scroll down.

I Gave Up WHAT?

Someone, whom I will not out, has complained of my seeming to abandon politics. Absurd! I found out that the dynamite I was planning to use to blow up people who were oppressing me would have an equally bad effect on my own health, so I decided to practice peaceful protest and lay down in front of them, hoping they would trip over me, since I'm hard to notice, and maybe break a hip or something. But then I realized they would probably get admitted to my unit, forcing me to take care of them, since my employers, being health care oriented and all, would frown on me cutting off their oxygen or something equally nasty, so I gave up on THAT idea as well and have been sinking into a depression that has threatened to make me feel kinda sad about shit, but then I heard on the news that Al-Zalcawi, that Al-Quida bastard in Iraq, somehow survived a direct hit by two, count them, TWO 500 lb bombs dropped by pretty F-16's flown by American Patriots who got recalled from reserve duty flying for Jet Blue, suffering a major pay cut but quite happy all the same to kill that son-of-a-bitch, before he finally croaked while being carried from the bomb crater on a stretcher, ironically to be given free health care and rehabilitation so that he could join Sadam in his cell and perhaps argue politics, which incidentally, I have NOT given up, it's just that Dubya hasn't been impeached yet, which has me wondering what a man has to do to this country to have his ass fired from the oval office.

Which brings me to sports; soccer specifically. Why is the world's most insanely popular sport an afterthought only promoted by Moms in this country? Are women with children the only Americans who have anything in common with all the people of the world? Are American men somehow brainwashed or have they been genetically altered by a special fluoride additive to our Gatorade to only care about the NFL or NBA? Is that why men, who actually run this place, have no problems lately with us fucking with other countries we have no real business fucking with just because we can. while totally ignoring places suffering the bad luck of having no oil but plenty of genocidal behaviors? I am willing to bet that not many Americans even know we HAVE a soccer team. Iraq had a soccer team while Sadam was in power, but they performed badly due to this habit of Uda Hussein making them to nervous to play very well. with the torture and all. We don't torture OUR teams, thank Bob, but then again they now have to do photo spreads to the sound of alternative rock music, so I guess it's all relative.

Speaking of extreme sports, have you seen the skate-boarding bull-dog? This creature is amazing! He even knows how to steer the thing! He's starring on Google Video, so go look.

I'm going to start my bath water now, so you'd better have gotten to this sentence by the time I get back, because I'm picking up right where I left off.......

Where was I? Oh, yes.......Tom Delay officially resigned from Congress, and I am so pissed he got to give a rosy little speech rather than getting dragged out on his ass in handcuffs. Which makes me wonder; if Tricky Dick Chaney gets fired by Bush (which he can't really do since Dick actually runs the show), does he actually have to step down if no one can find him to hand him the pink slip at his "undisclosed location"? Remember, this crew can do anything they want, cause Bush says it's "constitutional". I think the definition of that term got changed since I looked it up in the dictionary. Now, King George and his minions on the wrong side of the aisle are wondering why their conservative base is up in arms, frothing at the mouth, wanting to fire every damn one of them. I wonder if it has something to do with them trotting out the Marriage amendment, flag burning amendment, and other as-sundry bullshit items that didn't have a rat's chance in hell of passing, just so they could claim to be trying to promote "conservative" values. Even the conservatives are getting a clue that piss poor paying jobs replacing ones with decent wages, illegal aliens flooding the construction sites lowering wages, health care which isn't, and the worst response to a natural disaster ever to have happened are not "values". Or maybe they are tired of our new "pay as you go" form of democracy, which means you pay them, and they go on expensive trips to play golf, and they pass your pork onto the "president" who hasn't vetoed one bill since he stole the election.

So, as you can see, this claim that I gave up on politics is ludicrous, to say the least. This is THE Michael, this is my take on this whole bloody mess, and you know where to find me.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Crazy Train

Free-flow, uncontrolled, random ramblings and verging on coherency, I think, I muse, I ratify, file, retrieve, and process, bare of the knowledge of how it all arrives, I take what comes and spew it forth, and what is this I see before me, I dare to imagine my imaginings are meaningful, for of all the seconds, the minutes, the lifetimes within this life I have squandered would dredge up some horror indeed to examine and acknowledge, and thus I avoid.

I am big in my pond, immense, a giant, for I know myself, or think I do, and then I stand back and gaze upon this kingdom of mine, and it barely contains me, it is so miniscule, thus what does it avail me my measure in this universe, so relative it might be. I bang my own gong, beat my own drum, on frustrated occasion, so rare am I validated, and I fight back the guilt for having done so, thinking it necessary, for if I do one good work, is that work less valid for never knowing the light of notice? I soak it up, take it within, store it away, if only to crowd out my unworthiness, for I am indeed in so many ways found wanting, if should I stand in third person and judge, so harsh a judge I can be. Masochism, the gift you gave me, Father, the only gift short of your whip-tailed delivery of your half of creation, which I do not thank you for, for what would I know of never having existed?

Flagellants all, those of us who know something of empathy, of possibilities, or goodness so rare in the hearts of men in a heartless world, where to think to hard, to speak to loudly, to care of things best left uncared for, said thoughts that rock the boats, sink the ships, bring down towers in a heap of dust no less dirty than the roads trodden by the common man. I care nothing of your heart, your acts pronounce you loudly enough, even though deaf ears abound and rush to defend all manners of folly. You claim your page in history, and wish it written as though with the quill of a blind scribe, for if you knew truth, you would know how false any thought you could lay claim to history will reveal. You shalt sleep well tonight, and I will not, for your very existence does vex me, as Hitler vexed Churchill, thus I suffer my humanity, while you savor your lack of it.

But I digress. Like some train with a choice of tracks I try them all, and arrive in pieces, once I have returned from every journey my fleeting mind embraces, all at once, for what fun is linear when there are parallels all enticing, to explore, embrace, digest, and deposit for your inspection. I know a crazy man, residing at the end of a copper wire, saner than I could ever hope or wish to be, for he sees things, while I deny them. I know a sandpaper soldier, who rides an iron pony, and visits a forgotten world, still percolating in the background of our geography. I know a harpy, a cynical yet refreshing amazon who fights even battles she's already won, for when she tastes the blood of torment, it matters not she escaped, for her prison is too precious to escape till she's torn it down brick by dirtied brick. I know a sparrow, trapped in sorrow and joy, who knows herself by knowing me, always touching me in slumber but never in a waking moment, for she knows me so well. I know an artist, a jokester, a jester, a knave, who tilts at windmills and orbs and speaks my mind before I can. I know a gem forged of love and adventure and well spoken wisdom who takes as much from me in her absence as she gives to me in her pages of a life well lived. I know a sojourner, a wise old youngster blessed with adventure and a lust for learning to his last breath, who offers me peace should I need it bad enough. And I know an ebony mystery, elegant, quiet, who can laugh even as she dries a silent tear, and winks at me from some secret place.

I could say this all in some humdrum fashion, with no room to guess, no wicked smile to accompany my scattered thoughts, and you would shake your head and light a candle in whatever temple that draws your worship, and I would be no better said than in all these months of rants, raves, and rare moments of sense, but I see no labor of love in such a dish, thus I serve it up and beg ye clean your plate, for your Mother lied about starvation in China; no, my friends, it is you who starve when my muse speaks easy and you have nothing to ponder.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Destination Unknown

Ah, Yester, I knew him well. Tween worlds, indeed, in this one or that, I know not, for what matters, which is which, one never knows. This dream dreamt by so many, I count myself amongst commoners, such is this state we all share, a reality false to our sense of justice, this solid evidence of lives lived for reasons beyond us, grasping for reason, a mere pittance paid to our yearnings, our desires unfed, tasteless, barely palatable, yet we gorge ourselves upon it all, such that it is.

I listen to this, myself, my ramblings that lead down primrose paths to nowhere, yet I seek destination, be that destiny or some ending of my own choosing, and I ask the question upon all our tongues, the big one dare not asked and never answered, yet I shall answer, for I am so daring today, would ye not agree, to suggest to challenge the omnipotent, the reaper, the writer of the rules, and suggest he be mere figment in the minds of people I despise. Oh, I do not hate them, for they are not worthy of my rage, my despair, my certainty that it all amounts to naught, a knowledge so set in stone and testing of my faith I beg of just one to prove me wrong, for when I am right, I may know validation, and in such I am doomed.

You tire, your patience wears thin, you give me such short time to make my case, for clarity is what thou seek, something you can use, something your mind wraps about comfortably, and demand I reach some conclusion, some point to all this font that seems to reproduce itself like some irritant virus, infecting that which is worthy of your time and threatens to kill it altogether and I say to you, no, I demand of you to see this through to an end I can only promise poses questions rather than answers, for I know, if anyone does, that answers are ethereal, poppycock to some, gospel to others, and when shalt such the twain meet?

Then fine, I grant you your grand finally, the curve upon the road, which coming upon, you kept the wheel straight and true and left this line of arguable reasoning. There be method in this madness, and should it take thee a lifetime of reading and rereading it is revealed in all good time. I called upon my muse and he/she/it delivered, not wrapped neatly in marketable fashion nor guided by polls, for opinion is of little value on trips to such places as this. I did not drag you kicking and screaming to this last sentence, thus your angst is of small measure as I bid thee goodnight, merry met, and merry meet again.

Madness has no copyright............

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Who you calling WEIRD?!

I've been tagged by a schizophrenic who isn't satisfied to think he's Napoleon Bonapart; no, this character thinks he either knows or IS Jesus H. Christ, which, I'm not sure. Not that that's a bad thing........hehe......

So, another one of these lists is loose on the net. I consider these things cancers eating away at the fabric of an otherwise tranquil universe. Six weird things about yourself. I am so amused how eagerly my compatriots rise to the occasion and list some of the most interesting tidbits about themselves, all of which I have filed and categorized for future use, in case I need to sell someone out to the NSA in exchange for not getting sent to Gitmo. Well, since I can't seem to come up with something to post that would be any less painful to read, I suppose I might as well succumb to this insanity and list my own foibles for all the world (well, OK, the infinitely tiny portion of it who come across my madness) to see. However, this is being written very slowly, as one man's weirdness is another man's perfect normality. Let me think........

1. For some reason, I think it is absolutely imperative that when I record an account number that begins in zeroes, that the number be begun with at least one of the zeroes to denote that the number after it is NOT the first number of the entire string, and to prevent any other number from being inserted ahead of it to change the number. For instance, the account number 00000587637854 is not 587637854, but 0587637854, so that if someone slips, say, an 8 before that 0587......then it's apparent that the number was altered after the fact. Not that anyone's likely to have any reason to alter that number, but if I wrote that puppy down, then it WON'T get altered, unless of course they white out the entire number, then the fix is obvious as hell. Call me crazy........

2. I have to have a hot bath every day. Not a shower, but a bath. I can't stand this Florida heat and humidity, but I love my VERY hot baths. I really like them after one of my 12 hour work days, to soak the dull pain out of my legs. The wife and I often share a bath, but she likes the water a bit cooler. Not sure if this qualifies as weird, exactly.....

3. I can talk something to death once I get going, especially concerning things I'm passionate about. Now, I realize this fully, yet at the very moment I need to realize it and moderate my motor-mouth accordingly, I fail utterly to realize that I need to shut up and let someone else get a word in edgewise, or at least abbreviate my resertation before the glazed look comes over their faces. It's almost like a convict's bad habit of walking out of jail and heading straight to the nearest convenience store with this asinine idea that they are actually going to get it right this time.......robbing it, I mean. This has to be genetic, and I bet I got it from my asswipe father, may he roast in hell........damn.....I don't believe in hell.....sigh.

4. I have this totally unrealistic idea, knowing human nature as I do, that absolute power does not necessarily have to corrupt absolutely. I have it in the back of my mind, refusing to acknowledge that it is a outlandishly romantic notion having nothing to do with reality that one man could actually rule a kingdom in such a benign fashion that all his (or her) subjects would absolutely refuse to ever let him retire. I believe that right and good is so fucking obvious to someone with a good grasp of logic and common sense that he could actually run the entire show in such a way as never to bring harm to the common man and stamp out all evil intent. Of course, even if this were true, it would do him precious little good to have all this good will and not have equally stand-up people surrounding him to enforce his dictates, while not practicing some of their own personal enrichment on the side. Who in this entire world could possibly be capable to ruling in such a fashion? Why, yours truly, of course. And to think I think Mickey is delusional...........

5. I believe I suffer from a "line" curse. Any line I get into, be it at the supermarket, the post office, it matters not where, that line will slow down drastically or stop for an extended period of time. Where once traffic ran smoothly, if I'm driving in that traffic, something will invariably turn it into a parking lot. If I am in the right hand lane of three lanes, and the middle lane is moving right along, if I dare pull into it, it will come to a screeching halt, simply because I got into it. I did something truly horrible in my last life concerning lines.........

6. I'm afraid of needles. So? Allot of people are. But, I work in a hospital, and I stick people on a regular basis. I see somewhat horrible things as a matter of course, and rare is it that any of it bothers me. My gloved hands have been up to the elbows in some pretty gross stuff. All part of the job. But come near ME with a needle, and I freeze. Oh, I steel myself and will get a shot if I HAVE to, but you'd think I was getting a spinal tap the way I approach the whole idea. The idea of something penetrating my skin just gives me the willies'.

Ok, so there you have it. The six weirdest things about me I could think of on the spur of the moment. I'm sure there are weirder things I could have listed, but there are limits on what I'm going to put out into bloggerville, where people who thought they already knew just how weird I can be would discover otherwise. I think you know what I mean.