Friday, June 29, 2001

Last week New York lawmakers became the first in the nation to initiate a statewide ban on using cell phones while driving. This act was immediately criticized as an example of legislating by polls, and not by facts.

It was pointed out by many detractors that the AAA had recently released a study showing that cell phone usage ranked 4th in terms of driver distractions. Number 1 was Food; Number 2 was Radio; Number 3 was a passenger.

In an attempt to save face, the New York state legislature today enacted a new driver safety law banning eating, listening to the radio, and the carrying of passengers while driving. Amendments that failed to make it into the final bill including bans on drinking, listening to tapes or CDs, and the carrying of pets while driving.

Environmentalists immediately reacted, stating that the banning of passengers would destroy years of efforts at encouraging carpools, and would cause more traffic as well as more environmental degradation by forcing more single-occupant vehicles onto the road. They did, however, applaud the banning of food behind the wheel, as the most commonly eaten road foods are national chain burgers, and rarely macro-biotic snack treats.

State Senator Hrummph P. Hrummph replied to the environmental lobby, stating, "The saving of human lives through this traffic safety measure far outweighs any minor increase in so called 'greenhouse emissions' that may result from having more cars on the road. Besides, think of the health benefits of forcing all children and others without driver's licenses to walk everywhere!"

The above is satire. If you cannot tell the difference between the real news these days and satires of the real news, you're not alone. God help us all.

Thursday, June 28, 2001

Now this truly is sad news. Jack Lemmon died yesterday of complications from cancer. He was always one of my favorite actors, going back as far as I can recall.

Early on, for me, it was the comic roles that made me a fan when I was a kid: The Apartment, Some Like it Hot, the Odd Couple..., but as an adult I discovered that Lemmon was a great dramatic actor as well: Save the Tiger, Days of Wine and Roses...

He'd been a favorite of mine for so long that it seemed like a stronger relationship than just that between a movie fan and an admired actor. There was almost a sense of kinship that ran deeper than simply being proud to be from the same home town. His roles seemed to hold a meaning for me, that there was something to learn from. Even the silliest of films, where he played the most unassuming, or even pathetic, of characters, there was an inner strength that made him come out on top of the more obvious heroes. That was something I could relate to, and take hope from.

This story deserves two links:
Beloved Actor Jack Lemmon Dies at 76 - (Yahoo/Reuters)
Jack Lemmon Dead At 76 - (CBS/iWon)

Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Some dogs just refuse to die. Checkers, the Nixon family dog who saved Dick's political career in 1952, is going to be moving from her current home in New York, out to California. No, Checkers is not still alive, but she'll be moving anyway.

Checkers is currently buried in a Long Island, N.Y. pet cemetery. On CNN last week, however, Julie Nixon Eisenhower said she wants to move Checkers' remains to the Nixon presidential library in Yorba Linda, California.

Says Julie, "Some day we're going to bring her to the library." I just hope she doesn't mess on the library carpet. I guess it's true, they really are going to keep Checkers, "regardless of what they say."

Speaking of old [Republican] dogs that just refuse to die, a according to a new survey, forty-three percent of W's appointees worked for his dad's administration as well. Thirty-one percent served in Reagan's, and fifteen percent worked in Clinton's White House.

Monday, June 25, 2001

Gore II: This Time it's Personal

An interesting article by David Corn on, THE GORE GAP: Coming Soon to an Election Near You? , takes a look at whether or not Big Al will be attempting to right the wrongs of 2000 by running again in 2004.

The article points out the hypocrisy of many Democratic "leaders" who supported Gore through the whole Florida fiasco, but are now distancing themselves and privately saying they would not support Gore in 2004. Corn further points out the possible disconnect between these "leaders" and the Democratic rank and file, who might be open to a revenge-tinged Gore pitch: "It's time to even the score: Gore in '04."

All of which adds up to this: If Gore, the ultimate insider (son of a Senator, former Congressman, Senator, and VP), runs again, it will be against the party establishment, making him an outsider candidate.

What the article stops short of, but I will point it, is that recent elections have shown the voters love "outsiders." Being dissed by the party establishment may be the best thing to ever happen to Gore.

Sunday, June 24, 2001

Yesterday was our fifth anniversary. Leslie and I celebrated with a very nice dinner out. One we had to get all dressed up for, very special.

While it was our fifth wedding anniversary, we've actually known each other for twelve years, and have been together for most of that time. We met in a summer astronomy class at UC Santa Cruz in June of 1989. As the Rabbi at our wedding put it, "They met in astronomy class, and they saw stars."

Actually, it was more like I just thought she was cute, and she thought I might be smart enough to help her with the homework. Eventually, we both got what we wanted.

Also, very exciting book news: John Irving's new novel, "The Fourth Hand," will be out on July 3. You can pre-order it from Amazon, if you're afraid you'll forget to pick it up locally on that day.

Friday, June 22, 2001

Veteran bluesman, John Lee Hooker, also died yesterday. In his memory, I urge you all to have One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer sometime this weekend.
Bush needs a geography lesson - or - Did we win a war I wasn't told about?

The kids at Oakhill College in Lancashire, England sent a congratulatory letter to Bush after his inauguration and recently received a signed letter from him in response.

The letter read: "As young Americans, you have an important responsibility, which is to become good citizens... I hope you will continue to learn more about our wonderful country. School provides the right foundation so I urge you to study hard. Then you can be well-prepared for the future."

Now, did he somehow grant U.S. citizenship to these students in England? Is that legal? Does that mean John Major gets to claim an American class as British subjects?

Also in today's news: Carrol O'Conner, Dead at 76. - A truly sad day. I personally feel that O'Conner was far under-rated as an actor. I grew up with him as Archie Bunker, but I also appreciate him in some of his older, movie roles.

O'Conner trivia: He auditioned for, and really went after, the part of Skipper Jonas Grumby on Gilligan's Island, but lost out to Allen Hale, Jr.

Thursday, June 21, 2001

It was another scorcher here yesterday: Up over 95 degrees, which means it gets to be over 100 in our apartment in the late afternoon and early evening. So last night, we were out again to borrow the air conditioning at the mall.

A new store at the mall: Well, not really a store, but one of those little free-standing kiosks blocking up the aisles in the middle of the mall. "Rubber Duckie Republic." Your one stop shop for all your rubber duckie needs.

They've got your basic bath-time rubber duckies, the rubber duckie with a cowboy hat, the rubber duckie dressed as a fireman, etc. You get the idea. Also for sale are over-sized, inflatable rubber ducks for use in the pool, and tee-shirts proclaiming that you're a rubber duckie fan.

There did not seem to be much interest in this little booth, and the proprietor looked very bored and upset. I don't think things are going well in the rubber duck business these days.

I told Leslie, "No matter how bad the job and financial situation gets, if I come home one day and say I'm investing all we've got left in a kiosk full of rubber ducks, shoot me immediately."

Meanwhile, it's only 7:00 AM, and it feels like it's already up to 80 degrees. I wonder where tonight's adventure will take us?

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Yesterday was definitely a weird one.

First thing in the morning I went to have some blood drawn at my doctor's office (more tests). The nurse taking the blood found a nice a vein and stuck in the needle, then we wait for the vial to fill. And wait. She looks down and says, "Well I'll be damned, there's nothing coming out." I'd stopped bleeding. She checks, it's in a big old vein, she slaps my forearm, I clench and unclench my fist a few times, and it starts again. Slowly. No problem with the needle stick, she did great. I've just run out of blood.

So, then it's lunch time, and Leslie meets me downtown at my "work." We head into one place, and we're standing looking at the menu. I feel a hand or two on my elbow, caressing it. I assume it's Leslie. I look down and see her hands both in front of her. I turn and the man who's been fondling me moves on into the restaurant.

A little freaked out by that, we head back out onto the street and start walking towards choice number two. That's when the drunk young woman comes towards me. She's heading down the sidewalk, out of control, her friends right behind trying to catch her. I sidestep to get out of her way. She follows and leaps into my chest and grabs my right breast with both of her hands and twists. I just to the side, and she continues her trajectory down the sidewalk.

Leslie and I changed plans at that point and cross the street and head around the corner to get off of that block. We sit down with our lunch at place number three. We begin to enjoy ourselves, and to laugh about the previous incidents. Then the dude from the first place walks by like he's looking for somebody. He didn't see me.

I managed to make it through the day, and in the evening we find ourselves out again. I'm having a little salad for my dinner: romaine lettuce with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts tossed in a light vinaigrette dressing. Very nice. I'm just about done with it when I feel a bit of walnut in my mouth that just won't chew. I figure it must be a bit of a shell, and I pull it out. Looking at it I as Leslie, "Walnut shells aren't supposed to be clear, are they?" No, this was a piece of glass. The waitress and the manager each apologized profusely (and picked up the tab) but I just calmly explained to them that it was simply the type of day I was having, and they weren't to blame.

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Last night we had dinner at a local pub called Johnny's Northside Grill. In any other town this should be a heavy drinking establishment with only adults in attendance. But Los Gatos is such suburban, middle-class, white bread, that even the bars end up being family establishments. But what I wanted to write about was the TV.

It must be an off-season for sports because on one of the TV screens spread around Johnny's was women's professional bowling. Who knew that such a thing even existed, let alone was televised? I don't think I'd seen bowling on TV since I was a kid. But I was hooked, and couldn't take my eyes off of it.

Maybe it's just the TV deprivation we've been going through, but I found this bowling tournament to actually be exciting, as I found myself picking which players I was going to root for, and which ones I wanted to loose. And the woman I picked did win!

At least the bowling was more exciting than the baseball game that was on the other set: Atlanta v. Florida. But, as a friend of mine pointed out, the Florida Marlins aren't exactly professional sports.

I'd have to say the most boring sports event I've ever seen on TV was while I was in England many years ago. They broadcast sheep herding. Yeah, that's right: Sheep Herding. Fat old guys who blow a whistle and the dogs do all the work getting the sheep into the pen.

It was highly surreal, and made even golf look like an exciting show. I have to admit, some of the dogs were cute. But this could never qualify as a sports event in America. Here's why: No place for your beer.

You see, we Americans will let bowling and fishing enter our sporting lexicon, because they each provide a place for your beer. It's almost an encouraged part of these sports to have a drink while you participate. But it's hard to take a drink when you're blowing a whistle and yelling at a dog to round up the sheep.

Monday, June 18, 2001

Weekend movie round-up time:

What we saw in the theatre: With a Friend like Harry - We had no idea what to expect here. All we knew was that it was what was starting next at our local little theatre.

The Los Gatos Cinema is a bit of an "art house." It is not a typical multiplex that only plays the big hits. It has just two theatres, and plays foreign films at least as often as American ones.

Harry turned out to be a French drama, and somewhat of a thriller or suspense picture. A nice young family go on holiday and run into Harry, an old school friend of the husband's. Only the husband can't remember Harry. Harry, and his girlfriend, Plum, latch onto the young family and try to "help" with results that get more bizarre as the film builds to a crescendo.

A fascinating look at the workings of a sociopath (or is Harry a psychopath?), this is definitely a well done bit of work that also brings up questions about the meaning of life and whether or not we allow our daily routines get in the way of our calling.

What we rented: The Tao of Steve - An independent American film. Very good intellectual comedy. Not your typical ode to the slacker lifestyle, the main character in this film likens his lack of career (or personal grooming) to the desirelessness of the Buddhist monk.

The Steve in question is actually Steve McQueen, the ideal of the strong, independent American male. The Tao of Steve is the main character's guide to life and picking up chicks through achieving a Steve-like state of cool. The female point of view is also well represented. Highly recommended.

Sunday, June 17, 2001

Sneak Preview time. Here's the first chapter of a new short story I'm working on...

I was watching the night that Jerry Stucker lost it all on live TV. He started the newscast without any outward signs of the stress that must have been building up inside of him. He got through the first segment stories of the latest terrorist bombing in the Middle East and the investigation into the business affairs of the President’s sister-in-law without any show of emotion.

He started to slip in second segment, the local news. I’ve never seen him upset over a zoning decision, but he was starting to sweat as he told us about how the old Ferguson swampland making way for a new major high-tech office development. Maybe it was just because he knew which story was coming next and was already upset about it. I don’t know why he found it so difficult. Nobody had died, no bombs went off, and it wasn’t going to have any effect on the local economy. Still, I guess he found it somehow disturbing.

What had happened was this woman over on the east side had flipped out and taken a baseball bat to her six children. She’d just had enough of them, and who could blame her? Six of them, all needing things she couldn’t afford and energy she didn’t have. So in the middle of a family ball game at the local park she went after them all with a bat.

The field reporter talked to a couple of the older kids who explained how a few of them would try to jump her to take the bat away, but she’d just fling the bat around and beat them off as quickly as they could get up. As bloody as the kids were, all swollen red eyes and busted noses, and their arms already slinged, you could tell they were getting off on being on the news. You know that as soon as the interview was over they were asking the reporter what time and channel it would be airing on so they could call all their friends and set the VCR to record it.

Then the report moved on to the hero of the story: Charlie Wilson, an un-employed 32 year-old black man who lived across from the park. "I couldn’t believe what I was seeing," said Charlie. "This crazy white woman was beating the heck out of these kids, and they just kept coming at her, and she’s just beating them off again. So I came running out into the park and just tackled her from behind. Just put my shoulders to the back of her knees and took her straight down. Then a couple of the kids held her in place while I took the bat away and ran back inside to call the police."

When the taped report was over and Stucker was back on the air he was visibly shaken. His high forehead was red and wet and for the first time you could see every line and wrinkle that the make-up normally covered. His chin, normally firm and square, a real power-chin, was trembling and seemingly hiding behind his jowls that had grown swollen with bile.

He looked up at the camera and started to speak, "This report just in: Scientists at Cal-Tech and MIT have confirmed reports of an asteroid heading towards Earth." His voice was cracking in a very un-anchor-like manner as he continued, "Experts say that the asteroid will likely hit in just under five years, and set off a chain reaction of events the like of which has not been seen since a similar event several million years ago led to the demise of the dinosaurs. The Pope and the Dalai Lama have each issued statements offering spiritual guidance to those who would like to get their lives in order in the five years left before the end. The President has met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and..." and then he was gone. But instead of going to video of the President, or the Pope, the scientists, or even the dinosaurs, it went to a commercial for a new video game called Torture Chamber 3000.

After what seemed like a very long break the show was back, but Stucker was gone. It was Jimmy Sanders going right into sports as if nothing was wrong, without even any introduction or pleasant banter. Just Jimmy and sports.

The next night the news was being anchored by Shelly Folie, who normally anchored the weekend news. No word was ever made about the fate of old Jerry Stucker or the asteroid that was supposed to wipe us out in less than five years.

Saturday, June 16, 2001

Well, the Clinton era is now officially over here in the Bay Area. Chelsea has finished up her studies and graduated from Stanford this week. I still can't believe that in all the time she was here she didn't even call me once.

Meanwhile, it's time for another check-in with the magic tongue of "W in Europe":
  • In Spain, W called Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, "Anzar."
  • According to W, there should be "more countries" in Europe. We think he means the European Union. Or maybe NATO. Or maybe he really does mean Europe?
  • "Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease, and it suffers from poverty, as well." Ummh, nation? How about continent?
Next stop, Russia!

Friday, June 15, 2001

I'm listening to Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and Wings. One of the greatest rock albums of all time. It's one of those that gets pushed back into the collection for years on end, then, for whatever reason, I dig it out and am amazed again by how brilliant and relevant it still is.

It was released in December of '73, but my memories of it are more in the 1975-76 period. That was when the debate over who the most talented Beatle was still an important and regularly held discussion. Nine-and-a-half out of ten times, I'll answer on the side of John Lennon. But Band on the Run is the album that makes Wings a serious contender, and not the punch line of a rude joke.

In addition to the hits (Band on the Run, Jet, and Helen Wheels), I've always loved Picasso's Last Words. Today I find myself strangely drawn to Mrs. Vanderbilt as well. I don't know why, I just am.

I've got my original vinyl LP of Band on the Run stashed away, but today I'm listening to the 25th anniversary edition CD. This set includes a second CD with some alternate takes and interviews with Paul and the gang.

Damn, I love this album!

Thursday, June 14, 2001

Health update time...

I talked to my doctor about two hours ago and got back the results of the blood tests I took on Tuesday to find out why I'd been so sick since Friday. (I'm actually feeling a bit better, but not quite great, today).

Two things were standing out as not right in the blood tests. Each could be a one-time error, or the result of not fully fasting before the test, so I'll go back next Tuesday for another set of blood tests to confirm or deny these results.

The first thing was my blood sugar had a reading of 147. Normally, if anybody comes in over 120 they say they've got Diabetes. Again, I'd been living on Jell-O and ginger ale, so it's not too surprising my blood was nothing but sugar and water. We'll see what it says next week before buying any insulin.

The other thing may be the culprit, but it's too early to tell. I failed one of the liver tests. My "bellirubin" (sp?) is elevated. Whatever that means. It sounded like he said Billy Rubin is messing around with my liver. I told him I don't know this Billy Rubin kid, but if he's getting high in my abdomen, get him out.

Leslie says that if they've got to remove my liver, she wants to cook it up for dinner with some fava beans and a fine Chianti.
I have a new article posted on a site called "Sex Scrolls: A Journey Through the Hormones of History." The site, edited by Janet Thompson, is full of great satire, and I'm glad to be a part of it. (No, it's not a hard core porn site - it's quite safe, as long as you have a sense of humor).

So, here's the link: Virgin Territory - From Mary to Elizabeth I to Britney Spears, I take a look at the virgin ideal and some dangerous side effects.

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

The Honorable Jesse Ventura
Governor of Minnesota
130 State Capitol
75 Constitution Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55155

Dear Governor Ventura:

As a third party activist, I read your book Do I Stand Alone? with great interest. There were, of course, several policy areas on which I disagree with your position, but I was pleased and surprised to find many more on which we do agree. What I wanted to write to you about, however, is a point where I don't believe you stood up quite enough for the political reform that we each believe in.

In your concluding section, "Beyond Two-Party Politics," you state, "The bipartisan system was supposed to function as a moderating force; the two parties were supposed to create some kind of balance." Not only is that false, it is misleading, and gives the two major parties far too much credit and credibility.

To say the bipartisan system was "supposed" to do anything implies that the founders intended for there to be two major parties, and that they set up this system deliberately. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Constitution is party-free. The founders had intended for every person to be an independent, and for those who stood for office to stand as individuals, not as representatives of one or another official ideology.

In his farewell address, George Washington himself warned against the formation of parties, saying in part, "[The existence of parties] serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with illfounded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection."

The formation of parties was an accident of two key elements of what the founders did set up: single-member legislative districts and winner-take-all elections. Had the founders foreseen where this would lead, I believe they would have designed multi-member districts (allowing fairer and broader representation) and a means proportional representation.

We can still make those modifications to the Constitution to allow something closer to the original vision of truly independent citizen legislators to develop. I believe that if you are serious about being a national leader for the third-party movement (and I hope that you are) that these are the victories you should be after.

You go on to discuss the "15% rule" set by the Commission on Presidential Debates to keep third-party candidates out of the national discussion, which is very important. But again you give them too much credit when you call this rule a "piece of legislation," "a bill," and "that 15 percent law." The Commission on Presidential Debates is not an official arm of the United States government, it is an independent and private body. They do not legislate, they do not pass bills, and they do not make laws.

The rules of the Commission on Presidential Debates have as much legal standing as the rules of order at any local Kiwanis club chapter. We the People can choose to ignore any arbitrary rules set up by the Commission. The Commission was set up by representatives of the two major parties which, we should be reminding the general public, are also private non-governmental organizations. The Commission has no legal standing when their actions are designed to keep us from our Constitutional right to a representative government.

Each time you, or anybody else, makes a statement giving the major parties, or any organization linked to them, too much credit, it reinforces the exact message that we're trying to overcome: That two parties is the way it was intended to be, the way it's supposed to be, and the way it should remain.

I think you'll agree with me that these two private organizations, the Republican and Democratic parties, have hijacked our government, and are preventing the will of the people from being the effective ruling force of this nation.

Will Durant wrote, "The political machine triumphs because it is a united minority acting against a divided majority."

I hope that you will continue to be a national voice for uniting the majority. Thank you for your wonderful book, I look forward to more.


Ken Goldstein

Monday, June 11, 2001

Now here's why the medical insurance system in this country is going to kill us all no matter how much reform we throw at the problem. I'm going to tell you about two items in today's mail.

The first item was a refund check for $8.30. Not bad. I like to get refunds. It was from a medical group who had billed me $8.30 a few months ago for some lab tests I had done in November of last year. The letter attached, explaining the refund, showed that I had paid $8.30 and that since that time the insurance company had paid an additional $4.98. Therefor I was due a refund. But if you do the math there you can see that they refunded too much. I shouldn't have gotten back the whole $8.30, only the $4.98 that the insurance and I each paid.

Which brings us to the second item. A bill. From the same lab. For the same tests. Last November. Can you guess how much the bill was for? $3.32. That's right: the difference between the $8.30 I had been refunded and the $4.98 that the insurance had paid.

Now, some of us lazy idiots (myself included) would have taken the "efficient" route, and just issued a refund for $4.98 and not required the second bill. But that would have been taking the easy way out. The truly imaginative refund the full amount and start the billing process over from the top.

That's seven months after a simple lab test, and they're still creating new paperwork over three dollars and change. But thank God we don't have the government involved in running the health care system in this country. Right. Imagine the bureaucratic stupidity we'd have to put up with if that should ever happen.
What a weekend. We flew down to L.A. Friday morning for a wedding Friday afternoon. The bride was a childhood friend of Leslie's. The wedding was nice, the reception was fantastic (at La Venta, at the top of the Palos Verdes peninsula, with an incredible view), and me turning blue.

Yeah, I was sick. I must have picked up a bug earlier in the day, or eaten something bad, because I was fading fast and we all had to leave early (we were with my in-laws). Turns out we got out of there just in time. We stopped as soon as we could to pick up a bottle of Pepto, and I took a shot, but it was too little too late.

We got onto the freeway and just a few miles down the road I started spewing. It was actually quite a site, with my head out the window, watching it fly off into the night. We pulled off immediately, and I continued my retching into the gutter. We had to make several more gutter stops along the way back to my in-laws house.

At only one stop did anybody walk by on the sidewalk (nobody walks in L.A.) and make any notice of what was going on. Obviously tourists, I hope they truly enjoyed the show and will tell all their friends when they get back home about the Hollywood decadence.

Now here's the good news: I spent Saturday, and part of Sunday in bed watching TV. I couldn't eat anything (I'm still only up to crackers and Jello), so I was just camped out there. With cable. Yes, cable. On TVLand they were having a Dick Van Dyke show marathon. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

The original Dick Van Dyke show is my favorite show of all time. I swear, even if I weren't really sick, I'd have faked it to be able to watch Dick Van Dyke (and Mary Tyler Moore!) all weekend without being bothered.

Anyway, I'm back. Hope you didn't miss me too much.

Friday, June 08, 2001

I'm leaving for Los Angeles for a couple of days - Check back for new posts on Monday.

Thursday, June 07, 2001

Well, today seems to be the day for laundry stories:

"I know I don't want to share my tights and I don't want to share my underwear," says Gary Steverson, a stilt walker at Disneyland.

Workers of the world unite! Costumed characters at the Magic Kingdom have finally won the right to wear their own clean underwear under their costumes. Previously, the undies were issued daily with their outfits, and turned in at night to - hopefully - get laundered. They'd then be assigned a different pair of filthy under garments the next day.

I thought Pluto looked a little perturbed the last time I stopped by...

Disney characters win right to clean underwear
My Pet Peeve: People who take your clothes out of the washing machine without giving you a chance to come take care of it yourself.

Alright, we all have to do it sometime (at least, all apartment dwellers, the rest of you have no idea what I'm talking about). But I make sure I've given whoever may own the clothes a decent amount of time before I take them out and leave them on the counter. I make sure the person has really abandoned their laundry first, before handling it. I don't want other people messing with my clothes, and I certainly don't want to mess with theirs unless absolutely necessary.

So this morning I'm doing a wash, and 45 minutes after I put it in, I go down to move it to the dryer. I waited 45 minutes because three years of experience with the machines in this apartment complex tell me that 45 minutes is how long it takes. I walk into the laundry room and my clothes are all over the counter, still dripping wet.

Anybody who reads this blog often has probably already figured out that my patience is at an all-time low. I'm under-employed, and possibly soon to be unemployed, and I'm on a very short fuse. So I wasn't pleased to find my clothes treated like this. But I put them in the dryer, checked my watch, and went back upstairs.

Sure, I had fantasies of doing something rude to that person's laundry to get even. I thought about spitting (or worse) in the machine, or just leaving it open so the load wouldn't run, or adding trash it, or (you get the idea). But much as I'd love to, and can certainly write about such things, I just can't actually bring myself to do anything like that.

Maybe it's because I'm too nice, maybe it's because I'm chicken-shit, I don't know. But I just keep my violent, nasty fantasies to myself. But still, I was also hoping to accidentally run into the offender and tell them how rude it is to throw people's clothes about without giving them a chance to claim them, and how they must be the biggest damned asshole in the building.

I go back into the laundry room 1/2 hour later to get my stuff from the dryer (the dryers run for 40 minutes, but I wanted to be sure I got down there before they were done), and it turns out the offender was the building manager. She was all sweetness and light with me, talking about the upcoming weekend. I just mumbled some "yeah, right, weekend" bullshit, packed up my clothes, and left without saying a word about the incident.

As Lyndon B. Johnson once said, "I may not know much, but I know the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit."

But, in this case, maybe it's for the best. Leslie wouldn't like it if I got us evicted over wet laundry.

Tuesday, June 05, 2001

Man! Next time I'm laid off, I want to be canned by Guinness.

When a Guinness packaging plant closes in Dundalk, Ireland, next month workers will be able to drown their sorrows in beer, thanks to a severance package that includes up to 10 years' free supply of stout. Oh, yeah, and they'll get some money too. But it's the beer that makes it palatable.

If I had a Guinness allowance of two bottles a day, I'd be feeling much better right about now.

Laid-off Guinness workers get liquid compensation

Monday, June 04, 2001

It's been painful, I tell you. Painful. No internet access for about 48 hours. Trouble with my ISPs DNS servers prevented me from getting anywhere online, and I think you all know how painful that can be. Anyway, they're back, I'm back, and on with the show.

They always go in threes... Since my last posting the world has lost three great entertainers: Hank Ketcham, Imogene Coca, and Anthony Quinn. Thanks for the memories...

And in the continuing saga of the Bush girls and their drinking problems, it seems that back in 1997, while he was Governor of Texas, Daddy W signed a little zero tolerance law when it comes to underage drinking.

To begin with, they can each have their driver's license suspended (30 days for Barbara's first offense, 60 days for Jenna's second offense). But what really gets fun is if Jenna is busted again ("If?" Right. How about "When"). When that happens, she can be fined up to $2,000 and jailed for up to 180 days, under Daddy W's "three strikes and you're out" clause. Won't that be entertaining to have the President's daughter in jail for six months?

Friday, June 01, 2001

In the News:

Davis Appeals to New Yorkers - With the continuing energy crisis Governor Gray Davis has found his popularity and approval ratings slipping away here in California, and has gone on the PR offensive. Davis has written an op-ed piece explaining his position, and why he thinks W is a prick, and put it before the public.

What's baffling about this is that the piece did not run in San Francisco, or Los Angeles, or even Sacramento. It ran in the New York Times. Hell, even the Washington Post would have made more sense than that. Has there been some sort of weird, inter-state re-districting that I should be aware of? Is Gray thinking about running for Governor of New York, too?

$300 to Save America - Well, the W tax cut has passed, and the IRS has been ordered to send out the refund checks. Checks of up to $300 per tax payer (up to $600 per couple) will be mailed out between mid-July and the end of September.

"This will give a much needed boost to the economy and could very well make the difference between an economy that continues to grow and one that slips into recession," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at

Right. My wife and I will be getting $600 (the maximum), and with that we're supposed to rescue America from a recession? Isn't that just putting the pressure on just a little too high?

Hey, with what's happening here in California, we'll be lucky if that just covers our electric bills for the summer. And with my current job situation, that money is only going to help pay rent. It may prevent us from being homeless for an extra two or three weeks, but we won't be going on any wild shopping sprees here.

The only thing worse than the administration saying that this token refund is going to save the economy from ruin is the newspapers actually printing this propaganda as if it were a fact. Give me a break. (And the $600).

Trebek Not a Felon - I know that we've all been waiting for the resolution of this one: A review of airport security tapes has shown that Jeopardy host Alex Trebek did not assault a security guard at the baggage x-ray machine.

I don't know about you, but I'm actually a little disappointed. I think old Alex could have used a bit more of a macho image.

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