Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lightning Strike

Man, was that close! Jackson and I were sitting here on the couch reading a book when the whole room went white, followed a split second later by a tremendous crash of thunder.

It scared the daylights out of me because I wasn't expecting it (it wasn't raining). Jackson on the other hand isn't afraid of anything; he looked at me and signed "more" as though I could create deafening thunder and blinding lightning on command (Since I am his dad, he probably does think that. That's pretty cool.).

Once my heart stopped pounding, I went to the back door to see if there was visible evidence of a strike, but I didn't see any smoldering trees or homes. I'm guessing it struck the high-voltage power lines that run beside and behind our property, but I wasn't going to venture any further to find out.

The scariest part, once I got to thinking about it, is that it didn't start raining until about 15 minutes after the strike. There had been no rumbles of thunder in the distance, no sudden rise in wind, nothing. Jackson and Rosie and I had been playing in the back yard and had come into the house about 20 minutes earlier, not because of the weather, but because Rosie was getting hungry.

The National Weather Service put out the following bulletin at 9:44 am:

Which would have been helpful, except that the strike here happened about 9:35.

[where: 01564]

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Deval Patrick, Supreme Court justice?

I'm not sure how I missed this one from a couple of weeks ago...The SCOTUS Blog, a pretty reputable (if a bit conservative) source for Supreme Court analysis has predicted that Deval Patrick will be one of the appointees to the Supreme Court if the Democrats don't blow it in the 2008 election:
...I assumed that the candidates would want the job. That is not always the case. Multiple candidates turned down Bill Clinton. On my list, Barack Obama may be otherwise occupied (and face constitutional questions about the power to appoint himself). Deval Patrick may prefer to run for a second term as Governor. More generally, though being named a Justice is obviously an extraordinary and profound honor, a nominee on the left is in all likelihood signing up for ten years of dissent on many of the most important issues of Court confronts....

My ultimate predictions? Kim Wardlaw (2009, for Souter), Deval Patrick (2010, for Stevens), and Elena Kagan (2011, for Ginsburg).
I would be in favor of that, although I think Patrick is looking more toward the 2016 Presidential election (or 2012 if the Democrats implode in the next 18 months).


Crimefighting tip #1: Lock the jail door

Remember the ongoing gag on the Andy Griffith Show, where they would leave the door to the lockup open so Otis the town drunk could let himself in to sober up? Not only do the Leominster police remember it, they practice it.

Last weekend a prisoner escaped his holding cell because the officer who threw him in the clink left the door unlocked! The Telegram and Gazette provides the details:

LEOMINSTER-- A Wilmington woman called police Sunday afternoon saying her brother had just telephoned to tell her he had escaped from the lockup at Leominster police headquarters.

The dispatcher who took the call apparently didn't believe her and told her the bail for her brother was still $540, according to police reports.

But a subsequent check of the cell block proved that Joseph Kweedor, 23, of 158 Middle St., had indeed escaped.

That's fantastic! The guy escapes, his sister calls the cops to tell them that he's escaped (pretty tough when your sister tries to turn you in) , and they tell her to pay $540 or take a hike.

Officer Jerome Moore wrote in his report on the case that he had gone to Mr. Kweedor's cell at 2 p.m. Sunday to let him make a telephone call. He returned him to the cell after the call was made, he wrote.

"It is apparent the door did not close and lock," he wrote. "Mr. Kweedor opened the door and exited the lockup via an open window (minus the screen) and lowered himself to the ground."

When police determined almost two hours later that Mr. Kweedor had left, officers searched the area of the station and began calling members of Mr. Kweedor's family.

"It is apparent the door did not close and lock" should probably be more correctly reported as "It is apparent that I did not close and lock the door." But who wants to take responsibility for letting a violent suspect escape when you can blame the door?

And it took them two hours to realize that he was gone? Did the guy rig up a decoy like escapees from Alcatraz? And now, the suspect is in more trouble.
He was ordered held on $7,500 cash bail in connection with the charges Saturday, and $100 cash bail was set on a single count of escape from a municipal lockup.
Is it really fair to charge someone with "escape from a municipal lockup" when he was not, in fact, locked up?


Monday, July 23, 2007

"This is a ridiculous exercise." and other thoughts on tonight's debate

You're looking live at The Citadel, South Carolina, for the first "official" debate of the Democratic Presidential cycle (although I don't imagine this one will be any more important that the previous million debates). This is the You Tube debate, where the questions have been submitted by You Tube users via Internet video.

I'm highly skeptical of the format. Hopefully, CNN will choose questions that deal with important issues, not trivial ones. And hopefully the questioners won't be total goofballs. And how should the candidates respond. Do they thank Hotguy69 for his question? Do they look into the monitor to respond?

I think the candidates have a very high chance of looking incredibly foolish. I hope it doesn't turn out that way, but I fear that the whole thing will be gimmicky and diminish all of the candidates. If it had been up to me, I'd have chosen the questions in advance, and them brought the questioners to the debate to ask the questions live, not using video at all. Maybe that's how they'll do it. I guess we'll see...
  • OK, this is already goofy. They're all looking up at some goofball in a hat using his fingers to do quotation marks while he lectures the candidates to answer the questions asked. He is condescending.
  • And apparently Biden tried to stuff the box, busted...
  • Anderson Cooper is tumbling so often, I wonder if he's been drinking.
  • See, this guy from Utah might have a great question, maybe not, but the giggling girl in the background and the "Oh, I'm running out of tape!" makes the whole thing seem like a joke.
  • Dodd talks like a senator. I can't get past that to hear his answer. I guess that's my fault, but I can't get into him at all.
  • At least this is fairly fast paced...Kucinich standing up for his anti-war "strength through peace" message at The Citadel. Good for him for not standing down.
  • Michelle: Hillary's make-up looks awful. I agree. She looks really pale, almost unhealthy. She did make sure to note the questioner's name, however.
  • Rob Porter is a smarmy ass. Hillary, are you a liberal? She prefers the word "progressive" and considers herself a "modern progressive." I suppose.
  • Gravel whacking Obama for his contributors and their bundling.
  • If you had to pick a GOP running mate, who would it be, Joe Biden? Chuck Hagel, Dick Lugar. Edwards? Hagel, but let's not talk about that, let's talk about change. Takes a nice whack at Bill Clinton's "triangulation" strategy.
  • Chris Dodd, with a funny video about white hair and rabbits. Not bad.
  • Will, just ask the question! Reparations for slavery? No dipping and dodging (although dippin dots night be tasty). Edwards...No. but let me talk about something else. Power to the people.
  • Obama doesn't answer the question at all, but says we need more money for poor minority schools in "The Corridor of Shame." Sounds like someplace David Vitter has visited, maybe he could help.
  • Kucinich is for reparations, and the bible.
  • Another question for Dodd, apparently all of his grumbling about face time in the earlier debates has paid off. Speaking of which, I wonder if Richardson will get to say anything tonight. Oh, there he is...And he fumbled the answer, saying we need to remove the red tape that helps people rebuild.
  • I think Obama is saying that he's black enough to not get a cab in Manhattan? Maybe? He kind of muffed what could have been a good line. It sounds like he and Clinton are going to get most of the questions again. Clinton with a much better answer, talking about how she doesn't have any choice but to run as a woman and she's proud of it. Obama should take these questions head on.
  • Edwards is patronizing Obama and Clinton. Yuck. Stick to the question. He says will be a better advocate for women because of his stance on economic issues. Clinton trying to keep up, but Edwards has set the bar on this issue, and Clinton is trying to meet his standard. I think he wins.
  • Why do they make gay people look stupid? I suppose they did the video themselves, but if there were so many questions about the topic, why get the one that has goofy people asking it.
  • Kucinich yes, Dodd no. Richardson, no, because it can't be achievable. I like that honest answer. Essentially, he's saying that the country will only go so far, but that we should push them as far as they will go, making gay relationships as close to traditional marriage in the eyes of the law as is possible.
  • Edwards, why is it OK to use religion to deny gay marriage, when it was wrong to use religion to uphold slavery? Great question. What a fantastic question. And Edwards does not answer it. He's boxing it around. "I don't believe gay marriage is right, but I wouldn't use my religion to affect my decision as president" or something like that. I'm so confused. He's not making any sense.
  • That Clinton campaign video is awful. Show me something about you, not a list of what is wrong with the current administration. We already know that. At least Dodd put some thought into his video. This was clearly thrown together at the last minute by some intern with something better to do.
  • That is absolutely fantastic! Wow! Edwards hit's a home run with that video. I love it.
  • Richardson gets a question right in his wheelhouse about Darfur, and he's taking a good swing. Talking about his experience at the refugee camps in Darfur, and how he'd do it. It's the first time he's sounded passionate in any of the debates. He needs to do more of this.
  • Biden trying to go one step farther and putting American troops on the ground. Clinton trying to say no to US troops without explicitly saying no. Anderson Cooper pins him down.
  • Are we watching the same blanking war? How do we pull out now? He asks us four times. Did the questioners have to use all 30 seconds? If you can ask the question in 10 seconds, then turn off the cameras. Biden says he's the only one telling the truth here, that it will take at least a year to pull out the troops.
  • Another good question. Are Democrats afraid to end the war because they don't want to be blamed for losing? Clinton says we've been trying, but the Republicans are blocking them. Kucinich says "the Democrats have failed" on Iraq.
  • Dodd talks in big senatorial words "nation-state", "sexual orientation".
  • Richardson: "The lives of our young troops are more important than George Bush's legacy." He'd pull them out with no residual force.
  • Gravel says yes, in fact, the soldiers in Vietnam and Iraq are dying in vain. Obama says that no, I don't want to answer the question, so I 'm going to tweak Clinton for asking about withdrawal four years after she should have asked.
  • Should women register for selective service? Dodd appears exasperated that the question was given to him, and sighs audibly. He does, but since he's against the draft, it doesn't really matter. Clinton says the same thing, but she seems more secure with her answer. Both of them talk about public service on the same level as military service. Kind of reinforces for some people the idea that Democrats don't quite hold the military in the highest regard.
  • God Bless America! Can Obama answer even one question directly? The question isn't about the Tuskegee airmen, it's about women in selective service. And when he does finally get to it, he smushes it saying something about maybe not in combat roles. Just a bit chauvinistic, eh Barack?
  • Would you meet with despotic leaders with no reservations? Obama, yes. He's been getting an awful lot of face time tonight. Hillary, no. She falls into his trap, by suggesting what conditions might exist in order to meet. Edwards agrees with Hillary. I don't. We shouldn't worry about whether someone else will use us for propaganda. We're the most powerful nation in the world.
  • A good tussle on Iraq. Richardson will pull out all forces in six months. Biden says it's not possible. At least a year, and we've got to keep a residual force to protect the civilians remaining. Clinton agrees with Biden.
  • As an aside, Hillary "hopes to goodness" that the questioner's youngest son doesn't die in Iraq. It's OK to say "God" Hillary, especially in this context. Again, she's reinforcing anti-Democratic stereotypes.
  • Richardson just recycles one of his campaign commercials, instead of coming up with a new video. Funny ad, but kind of weak.
  • Who was your favorite teacher, Mike Gravel? The guy who taught me to speak. Too bad you don't let me use that skill, Anderson!
  • This question from Trona, California is stupid. Or the presentation is, at least. For what it's worth, I've been through Trona, CA on the way out of Death Valley, and let me tell you, it might be the most desolate, god-forsaken place in America. Richardson is winning over the crowd with a passionate answer on No Child Left Behind. It always helps to have the crowd cheering in the background.
  • Public or Private School for your kids? Good question, but I wish they would follow that up by asking each candidate why they made that choice.
  • Anne works for Planned Parenthood and wants to know if the candidates have talked to their children about sex using medically-appropriate terminology. Talk about throwing a bomb! Let's see who squirms and who doesn't...Edwards is stammering and staggering. Yes. And off to Obama for comment on the Romney criticism.
  • See, this is what I don't like. I don't want to hear an Amos and Andy skit, I want to hear questions. And what the hell is with the snowman? I'm sorry, but that's not funny, it's embarrassing. Not that I think any of these guys (and gal) should be "above" this kind of stuff but they're running for President of the United States, not the senior class.
  • What the hell? Gravel says we're going to save money on energy by changing the tax structure? Speaking of taxes, Dodd at least has the nuts to say he'd raise taxes on corporations that add to pollution.
  • Nuclear power? Edwards no, we should be looking at cellulose-based biofuels. Obama yes, we should look at it "as part of the mix." Nothing with Obama is ever yes or no, it's always yes,, but. Clinton is "agnostic about nuclear power." Thank goodness.
  • Richardson is in favor of optical scan balloting across the nation. I have voted with them a number of times here in Massachusetts and I completely agree. It's the only way to go.
  • Biden also recycles a campaign commercial for his "You Tube style video." Meh.
  • Who is Kucinich texting P-E-A-C-E to?
  • Raising the Social Security tax threshold is "an option on the table," according to Obama. Everything is "an option on the table," nothing is yes or no, just "an option on the table. What do you stand for.
  • The problem with the question from the guitar guy (besides the fact that having a guy sing a question is stupid) is that all of the taxes he complains about are local taxes, not federal taxes. It sounds like he needs to take it up with his city council and state legislature. These candidates can't help.
  • And now I'm just about totally offended. Here are a series of questions where the questioners are exploiting the infirm and disabled to make their points. I am against human props. This is becoming uncomfortable. If I were the Republicans, I'd cancel the You Tube debate in September before the sun rises tomorrow.
  • Dodd is getting frustrated about the format, and the fact that Obama and Clinton seem to get to respond to every question.
  • Richardson will probably take some heat for a semantic flub in his answer about health care for undocumented workers. In an effort to explain that everyone should get health care (including undocumented workers) regardless of their status, he said "every American deserves the right to quality health care." He could get hammered by the far right for suggesting that undocumented workers are Americans, if the far right cares at all about Richardson's candidacy.
  • I think the question about a Clinton-Bush dynasty is a good one. It is one of the reasons that I am hesitant to vote for her. I don't think it's healthy for us to have the same political machines in Washington year after year. Think about it, anyone who began working in politics in the last 27 years has worked either with a Bush or Clinton in the White House. That would be almost everyone.
  • I think Clinton would have the quarter say "In Goodness we Trust," based on her answers tonight.
  • Edwards says he won't impose his faith beliefs (seems redundant) on policy decisions. I think that's a little bit disingenuous. One's beliefs always influence their decisions.
  • Wow. Biden just called that gun nut a gun nut. I'll bet that will get a lot of press tomorrow. Nice of him to say what he thinks.
  • Dodd loves Elizabeth Edwards. And Edwards doesn't like Clinton's coat. I'm glad someone said it. This is a stupid question. Biden tells the truth "This is a ridiculous exercise." I agree.
  • Anderson makes a funny. Can't find anyone left of Kucinich. Pretty good.
That's it. This was a stupid format. Even so, there were a few really good questions. If they had gotten rid of the silly crap and asked more good questions, and it could have been a pretty good idea.

Winners: I thought this was Richardson's best debate, even though he stumbled a bit, he was much more passionate and less wonky than he had been previously. He seemed to connect with the audience for the first time. I also thought Biden did well. He spoke honestly and could barely hold his contempt for the format and some of the questioners. I'll bet there were a number of viewers (like me) who felt the same way. Edwards was OK too.

Losers: I though Obama was awful. He just cannot give a straight answer. I didn't think Clinton was as good as she has been (I thought she won the last two debates).


Friday, July 20, 2007

Michael Vick: "Barbaric!"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Sox Memories -- Kevin Romine beats the Rangers, July 3, 1990

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been part of a couple of discussions about memorable Red Sox games that I've seen in person: two weeks ago tonight while sitting with my brother in the bleachers at Fenway (at a decidedly unmemorable game), and yesterday in a discussion on the Boston Sports Media Watch forum. I've been fortunate to have been at a number of memorable games (although none recently) and thought I'd share a few of them over the next few days.

romineOn Sunday, July 2, 1990, I went with the family to see the Red Sox take on Nolan Ryan and the Rangers. The Sox won 3-2 when Kevin Romine hit a home run off then-rookie reliever Kenny Rogers. We sat in the left field grandstand, and had a great view of the game-winning home run into the screen.

At the time, Scott and couldn't imagine why Ryan didn't come out for the ninth, having allowed just two runs. Looking back at the game story from the Globe the next day, I can't believe he went eight innings. If you've ever wondered how things are different now than they were just 17 years ago, read along:
Outside Boston, Kevin Romine is mistaken for a fancy kind of lettuce.

In Boston, he is the magic maker....

Two years later, it was his leadoff, ninth-inning home run off lefthander Kenny Rogers that gave the Red Sox a 3-2 win, ending their 11-game homestand with a 9-2 record and boosting their American League East Division lead to 4 1/2 games.

Check your astrological charts on this one. It was a game that was supposed to feature Nolan Ryan and Boddicker. Both pitched well. Boddicker, the junkballer, improved to 11-3 and 33-17 as a Red Sox, winning his 10th straight game. Ryan, who lasted eight innings and threw 144 pitches, surrendered seven hits and left a 2-2 game in the hands of Texas' interim closer, Rogers....

On 3-2, Romine sent the second-largest Fenway crowd of the year quickly into Happy Hour. In one fell swoop, he saved Boddicker some deep frustration. Boddicker, who is still pitching with a tender elbow and threw 139 pitches, allowed 10 hits and walked three. He struck out nine. To have come away with no decision would have been like fingernails on a blackboard.
(OK, one thing that hasn't changed in 17 years is Nick Cafardo's writing--or lack thereof. "Kevin Romine is mistaken for a fancy kind of lettuce." Ugh!)

144 pitches in eight innings for the 43-year-old Ryan, and 139 pitches in nine innings for Boddicker. Having a pitcher go for 139+ pitches is almost unheard of. Having two pitchers do it in the same game...well, I'll bet that hasn't happened twice this decade if at all.

It's also amazing to think that Red Sox team won the AL East for the third time in five years. Looking at the box score and play-by-play from that day and seeing that the bottom four were Tony Pena, Carlos Quintana, Kevin Romine, and Luis Rivera. The big hit before Romine's heroics was a game-tying, pinch hit double by Ware's own Billy Jo Robidoux in the seventh. Wow. Not a murders row.


You married the Antichrist, how'd you think it would turn out?

This headline on the Religion News Blog made me laugh...

religion blog


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Moving on up

Good news for my candidate for president, Bill Richardson. According to a CNN poll released earlier today, Richardson is running third in New Hampshire for the first time, overtaking John Edwards:
  • Clinton 36
  • Obama 27
  • Richardson 11
  • Edwards 8
I still think he will end up being a player come January. Governors win presidential elections, senators don't.


The warm President Nixon

Nothing says "compassion" like calling the losing coach of a Big Ten football game. Here, in his own words, is President Nixon outlining to his chief of staff examples of his "warmth":
Incidentally, on the warmth deal, the fact that after the Ohio State Game I called the Coach at Purdue --a team that had lost 8 games this year, and where the Coach is probably on the way out, and told him how I felt he had done an awfully good job under terribly difficult circumstances. This I did not put out and did not try to broker.
See, most presidents only call championship teams. Nixon also points out his way with foreigners:
I have used the Latin phrase to people over and over again "Esta en su Casa", which means, "whenever you are here you are in your own house".
Cuddly indeed.

(via Wonkette and Slate)


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Speaking of odd people...

Thanks to the Telegram and Gazette for the following juxtaposition of photo and unrelated story:

Regional digest

Police warn of burglary spree

GARDNER -- City police are warning residents to be wary of odd and unknown people passing through their neighborhoods....

Odd indeed.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Southern Michigan Travel Journal -- Too hot for Bob Evans

So, I'm in Southern Michigan on business for a couple of days, and to pass the time and to deal with the boredom, I present the "Southern Michigan Travel Journal." I'm sure this will be thrilling…

Destination City, 10:20 pm
It is still brutally hot here. You know it's hot when Bob Evans' restaurant is the scene of police action, as it was a few moments ago. I went out to the store to get some Diet Coke and some Pringles, and on the way back to the hotel, three police cars pulled into Bob Evans and there were people out back pointing and shouting. It's a Bob Evans people! It's got to be about the safest place in the world. I mean, who's going to get pissed off enough to shoot someone at a Bob Evans?

As an aside, I don't know what it is, but the only time I ever eat Pringles is when I'm traveling. If I'm on a long drive or staying in a hotel, I'll munch on a tube of Pringles. The other 350 days of the year are Pringles-free.


Southern Michigan Travel Journal -- No way out of here

So, I'm in Southern Michigan on business for a couple of days, and to pass the time and to deal with the boredom, I present the "Southern Michigan Travel Journal." I'm sure this will be thrilling…

Destination City, 9:30pm
All I want to do tomorrow is get home earlier than 11:00pm. My meetings tomorrow were cut short, so I can get out earlier than planned if I can get an earlier flight. You'd think that would not be a problem, since there are flights from Detroit to Boston every two hours, but apparently Northwest wants to make flying on standby as thrilling an adventure as possible.

I figured that since I'm less than 24 hours away from my scheduled flight (about 7:30 pm) and therefore have the option to check in via the Internet, that I'd have the chance to put my name on the standby list.


I did have the option to spend $133.00 to change my seats, however. Apparently you can only request standby the day of the flight, or in person at the terminal, or after demonstrating an aptitude for biophysics or who knows what, but you can't do it when checking in online 22 hours before your flight.

On another note, in the otherwise bleak downtown of this city, there is an absolutely beautiful Wendy's restaurant. It is housed in a classic turn-of-the-century brick building that looks like it could have been an old train station or post office or something. It's entirely possible that it is a new building and not a classic structure, but either way, it's a pretty good-looking place, as Wendy's go. I'm not sure what it is with the beautification of chain stores here in Michigan, but it works at some level.


Monday, July 9, 2007

Southern Michigan Travel Journal -- Destination City

So, I’m off to Southern Michigan on business for a couple of days, and to pass the time and to deal with the boredom, I present the “Southern Michigan Travel Journal.” I’m sure this will be thrilling…

Destination City, 10:30 pm
Because I’m traveling on business and I refuse to write about my work on this blog, the name of my final destination shall remain a secret. Let’s just say that it’s like a mini-Fitchburg only bigger, if you catch my drift.

I took the old highway here from the Detroit area (as opposed to taking the interstate). As usual, it was worth the trip. I found out that the car was equipped with XM radio, so I cruised down the old road through bypassed towns with classic country on the radio. As it should be. I was fighting with the GPS system the whole way, as the voice kept yelling at me to turn onto the interstate, but I ignored it.

There was a couple of old 40s and 50s era motels with their big neon signs along the way. Entering this city I passed an Arby’s with an original sign, which was cool. Reminded me of the old sign that used to be in Webster Square in Worcester. Otherwise, there isn’t much of anything in this town. About the only other thing that stood out was that they have a huge self-service recycling center right in the middle of downtown. If you are envisioning a park full of dumpsters, you would be correct.

Oh, and the hotel has free wifi, which makes this place better than Logan Airport.


Southern Michigan Travel Journal -- Hoarding toothbrushes

So, I’m off to Southern Michigan on business for a couple of days, and to pass the time and to deal with the boredom, I present the “Southern Michigan Travel Journal.” I’m sure this will be thrilling…

Canton, MI, 6:45 pm
Just dropped five dollars and change at one of the most beautiful Wal-Marts I’ve encountered. Not inside, of course—they’re all the same once you get through the doors—but the façade is brick with a gabled roof and attractive windows. I stopped to pick up some travel-sized toiletries—I try to travel without them since the whole three ounce, quart bag crazy rules aren’t worth the trouble. While scanning the display of travel-sized items, a very talkative, very annoying young lady asked me if I was going on vacation. I made the mistake of answering her, and she proceeded to give me all sorts of advice as to which toiletries were the best deals.

I attempted to pick up a travel toothbrush (for some reason, she had about eight of them), and she suggested that if I was just going to throw it out anyway, I should by the 50-cent model around the corner. I thought about asking her why she had a handful of the more expensive toothbrushes, and how she knew so much about Wal-Mart’s toothbrush inventory, but I decided that fleeing for the checkout was a better bet.

(Posted from Southern Michigan, because I wasn't going to hang around Wal-Mart looking for a place to post.)


Southern Michigan Travel Journal -- The rest of me is also on fire

So, I’m off to Southern Michigan on business for a couple of days, and to pass the time and to deal with the boredom, I present the “Southern Michigan Travel Journal.” I’m sure this will be thrilling…

Canton, MI, 6:23 pm

Well, that was quick. In and out of the restaurant in about 25 minutes. Can’t complain about that.

What I can complain about is this heat. When I got in the car at around 5:20, the on board thermometer read 98 degrees. While driving to Canton, it hit 100 at one point. I’d guess it’s probably not that hot, since the direct sun and the radiating heat from the pavement probably added a few degrees, but it’s still hot. I had to wait in the parking lot for about five minutes for a car, and it was hot. (Have I mentioned it’s hot? Yes?)

Got a full-size car (only two dollars a day more than the standard), and it ended up being a Pontiac Grand Prix. Whatever. I was hoping for something a little better. I tried to talk the attendant into giving me a Cadillac, since my car wasn’t ready and there were a number of them just sitting out front, but no dice.

Oh, and it's hot.

(Posted from Southern Michigan, because as good as Don Pablo's is, it doesn't have free wifi.)


Southern Michigan Travel Journal -- My Prairie's on Fire!

So, I’m off to Southern Michigan on business for a couple of days, and to pass the time and to deal with the boredom, I present the “Southern Michigan Travel Journal.” I’m sure this will be thrilling…

Canton, MI, 5:50 pm

My prairie is on fire!

OK, so that might not mean much to some of you, but others will appreciate that I’m at a Don Pablo’s Mexican restaurant, eating Prairie Fire bean dip. And enjoying it very much. Were I smart enough to have remembered my cell phone, I’d call my friend Stacy and yell, “My Prairie is on fire!” through the phone. But I can’t so I’ll keep eating.

And my food is here, just five minutes after I ordered it. Adios.

(Posted from Southern Michigan, because as good as Don Pablo's is, it doesn't have free wifi.)


Southern Michigan Travel Journal -- Flying in Limbo

So, I’m off to Southern Michigan on business for a couple of days, and to pass the time and to deal with the boredom, I present the “Southern Michigan Travel Journal.” I’m sure this will be thrilling…

38,000 feet over New England, 3:17 pm
I have completed the crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine in record time. To be fair, this was far and away the easiest crossword I’ve done on a plane, and that’s saying something. Apparently Northwest either caters to dumb people, or they want everyone to feel good about themselves. I feel accomplished, so I guess they’ve succeeded.

I’m sitting in the third row behind the first class section, and frankly, this has to be the cheesiest “first class” section I’ve seen on a plane. Instead of a curtain, or a door separating the important people from the rest of us, there is literally just a two-inch swath of fabric draped across the cabin. It appears more like the set-up for an in-flight limbo contest than a barrier to movement. Bet those folks wish they hadn’t paid extra for that. Although, we peasants are blocked from using the lavatory at the front of the plane, and can only watch the hoi poi relieve themselves. It certainly won’t do anything to keep the noise of the two children across the aisle from me from disturbing the folks in front.

I’d be apt to be annoyed by the kids (who appear to be about 2 and 4), but we’re taking Jackson on his first flight in November, and I’ll hold back any judgment until we see how he fares. Right now mom is moving the older boy from the aisle to the window in an effort to keep him from annoying the people around. Which means the child that just abdicated the window sat is angry about it.

But since he’s younger he gets over it by standing in his seat and trying to get the man behind him to laugh at him. The man (who is wearing an orange shirt and reading glasses attached with a gold chain, with faux-stylish sunglasses perched on his head – talk about a mid-life crisis) is playing solitaire, and does not appear to be interested in small children.

And someone needs his diaper changed! I’d suggest the mother check into her kids, but she’s probably got enough to do just to try to keep them in control. I suppose it could be mid-life crisis man, although soiling oneself seems to be more of a late- or early-life crisis.

(Posted from Southern Michigan, because if I tried to post from the air, the Feds would track me down.)


Southern Michigan Travel Journal -- Still stewing about Logan

So, I’m off to Southern Michigan on business for a couple of days, and to pass the time and to deal with the boredom, I present the “Southern Michigan Travel Journal.” I’m sure this will be thrilling…

Boston, 2:03 pm
There is a sign right next to me saying that Comcast provides the airport wifi. I’m a Comcast subscriber. I’m already paying for my Internet access through Comcast. Why can’t I get on here?

Looks like a family I used to have in the Little League where I umpire is also on this flight. Bet they are not going where I am going. (In fact they are headed to Detroit for a basketball tournament. I’m not. Sigh.)

(Posted from Southern Michigan, because Massport blows.)


Southern Michigan Travel Journal -- Leaving Logan

So, I’m off to Southern Michigan on business for a couple of days, and to pass the time and to deal with the boredom, I present the “Southern Michigan Travel Journal.” I’m sure this will be thrilling…

Boston, 1:15 pm
You’re looking live at Logan Airport where…oh, wait, you’re not looking live anywhere, because Massport insists on charging me $7.95 for the privilege of using the same internet that countless airports around the world provide for free. So there won’t be any live updates, because apparently Massport has decided that letting you and I use the Internet for free will help the terrorists strike. Or maybe they just want to take another $8.00 from connected fliers.

Anyway, I’m flying Northwest to Detroit, and then getting a car for the remainder of the trip. I was going to visit family in Lansing tonight in advance of our business meetings tomorrow, so I got an early afternoon flight out. Then I realized that the family is on an Alaskan cruise, so I get to kill time on a pleasant peninsula.

Northwest’s gates are in the international terminal. As I’ve never flown Northwest or internationally (one of those has been a dream of mine, I’ll let you decide which), it’s my first time in the terminal. It’s unusually quiet, except for the Best Hits of the 70s, 80s, and 90s playing on “Logan Radio” over the loudspeakers. (I’m surprised they don’t charge us for that too, although I think they should pay me to listen to this stuff.)

I looked for someplace to eat, but apparently Logan has decided that the best way to greet international travelers is to immerse them immediately and totally into our most prized cultural icon—the mall food court—so my choices are Sbarro’s, McDonald’s, au bon pain, Starbucks, and the Wok and Roll. Meh. At least Atlanta has a Chili’s--and where is Cinnabon when I need one? I eat at McDonald’s for the first time in I can’t remember when. As McDonald’s go, it’s decent. At least the fries are fresh, which is all I ask.

Looking around, it’s pretty clear who here is traveling home to Europe, and who is touring from America. Europeans are drinking beer at 1:00 and generally look like ABBA. (Yes I know that sounds incredibly trite and stereotypical, but I'm telling you, I'm sitting across from these four beer-drinking, designer glasses-wearing, bleach blondes with Germanic accents. If I called out to Annifreda, I expect one of them would answer.) Americans look like Americans (and bonus points to the old lady wearing a straw hat with flags and buttons. She’s probably been trying to find her way to the airport since the Democratic convention.). I’m guessing there is some traveler in Paris making exactly the same note about how the Americans stand out in de Gaulle airport.

The guy behind the counter at Sbarro’s looks an awful lot like Julian Tavarez.

(Posted from Southern Michigan, because Massport blows.)


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Seamus on you, Mitt! Romney dogged by cruelty charge

I really don't have a whole lot to add to the growing controversy over Mitt Romney's pet husbandry. I just wanted to use the story as an excuse to run this headline.

I was talking to my brother about this a couple of nights ago. His take on the story (and I'm paraphrasing): "Everyone's getting fired up about a 25-year-old story about Romney's dog. Why isn't anyone bothered by the fact that he's nothing but a power-hungry stuffed shirt."

I suggested that the story is the kind of thing that could tip people off to just that. Romney is the kind of guy that is so driven by efficiency, he would put his dog on the roof of his car to save space without once thinking "Oh my God, there is a dog on my roof!" David Kravitz at Blue Mass Group said it better:
I can say with certainty that strapping your dog to the roof of the car for a 12-hour drive, windshield or no windshield, is, well, nuts. It also strikes me as classic Romney: it solves a problem efficiently, in a business-like manner, and with no regard whatsoever for the suffering that the solution may cause...

Romney's utter obliviousness to the suffering of his dog and his corresponding enthusiasm for torturing detainees are indeed unsettling. As someone who knows Romney well once said to me, "ice runs in those veins."


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