Monday, December 27, 2004

The Donald Would Fire This Donald

First, came word that he was using computer-generated signatures for letters to families who lost loved ones in the war in Iraq. Then, he gave a patronizing and confusing response to a soldier’s question about the lack of equipment needed for combat.

If it weren’t for bad management skills, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld would have no management skills at all. He’s the new Richard A. White.

Using a computer-generated signature for condolence letters is impersonal and classless, obviously. Besides, if you lost a family member in Iraq, would a letter from Rumsfeld really have that much of an impact. A letter from the Shrub probably would be more meaningful to those families.

One Congressional Republican commented that, if the president can sign his condolence letters personally, so should Rumsfeld, implying that if someone as busy as the president can sign, so can others.

What could be keeping this dumbass president busy? An Etch-a-Sketch could keep the Shrub occupied for hours, so of course he is going to have time to sign letters personally. An image of Gov. William J. Le Petomane in Blazing Saddles comes to mind. “Why don’t you give these out to some of the boys in lieu of pay?”

In an attempt at damage control, Rumsfeld made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Christmas Eve to boost troop morale. I never understood how a visit by the Secretary of Defense is supposed to boost morale. The troops probably all think that he is full of shit, so how is that helpful? I can understand how a visit by the Shrub could help the troops because most of them probably support the dip shit.

If you want to boost troop morale, hire a bunch of hookers or arrange for conjugal visits by spouses or significant others. Granted, this would cause a major uproar, particularly over how such a plan would be implemented among gay soldiers.

So absent that, how about canceling one of the many Halliburton contracts and allocating those funds toward bonuses for the troops? Lord knows they need it with all the bullshit they are forced to deal with over there.

Friday, December 24, 2004

In The Criminal Justice System ...

The envelope arrived in nice, red holiday letters.

"Official Jury Summons"

A Merry bleepin' Christmas greeting from the Montgomery County justice system.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Cleanup in Women's Shoes

I briefly joined the holiday shopping masses over the weekend by visiting a local department store despite my objections over a practice that has become all too pervasive in the department store industry – clipping coupons out of the paper in order to reap additional savings.

When did shopping at Macy’s become the equivalent to shopping at Safeway?

There used to be some refinement associated with department stores, but now it seems they all are racing toward the bottom to see who best could resemble Wal-Mart, which is ironic considering Wal-Mart rarely forces customers to use coupons. I don’t mind clipping coupons if I’m buying cereal, but it feels wrong if it’s for a suit. If you want my loyalty, just give me the damn sale price without making me jump through hoops.

Some of these coupons are ridiculously complicated and exclude so many departments, that they often apply to maybe three items in the entire store. I think the one I had stated that if you were at least 5’3” and it’s after 1pm, you could qualify for an extra 15 percent off an item if the bar code on that product began with an even number.

No wonder more people are shopping on-line. Only things you have to worry about with that are spam, worms, viruses, server crashes, security breaches, and identity theft.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Take Me Out For a Drink

Oh my God, could it actually happen? Could the Washington Nationals actually become a reality? Today, the D.C. Council approved a deal to finance a baseball stadium along the Anacostia River. What once was lost, now is found.

After all that has happened, I'm not ready to call it a certainty yet, particularly when it involves baseball owners and members of the D.C. Council. As everyone well knows, so much still can go wrong when dealing with both parties. I'll believe it when the Nationals take the field for opening day.

But Can He Buy Pokemon Tabs From a French Kiosk Man?

My son is amazing. He had a bit of a rough weekend because of a cold and an ear infection that he is getting over, but you wouldn’t have known he was suffering because he would play, smile and laugh as if nothing was wrong. Granted, there were times where he was crankier than he normally would be, but that was completely understandable.

Last night, he was so tired from battling his ailments that he went to bed at 6pm before he had dinner and before we could change him into his pajamas. We are very lucky because usually he goes to sleep between 7:30-8pm and sleeps through the night until about 6-6:30am; he has been doing this since he was 2 months old. Because he went to bed so early, we assumed he would awake in the middle of the night hungry.

Sure enough, he awoke around 10:30pm. We gave him his bottle, changed him into his pajamas, and hoped he would go right back to sleep. After a little fussing, he did go back to sleep, but we were sure he would wake up again. I slept restlessly waiting for the next time he would awake. He didn’t and awoke at his normal time. He is such a trooper. Here is a picture.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Brought To You By The Refresh Button

Let's get an update on some of the stories OTP has been following.

  • Ding Dong, the Witch is Gone. Due in large part to the actions of the parents at my son's day care center, the evil director who was making everyone's life miserable was dismissed. The mood changed dramatically after the ouster, as the upbeat and engaging attitudes of the teachers returned, which only means good things for the kids.
  • His Vitals Have Stabilized. A return visit to the doctor's office brought good news as I was able to lose a few pounds (although with the holiday season, I probably gained it back), and, with a little medicinal assistance (no, not marijuana), my blood pressure now is well within the normal range.
  • Maybe Some Flaxseed Oil Would Help. The Giants continue to sign players in their 30s to ridiculous contracts. Armando Benitez is a head-case and he gets a 3-year deal worth $21 million? Ugh.
  • Beat the Cropp Out of Washington. Oh my God, don't even get me started on this woman. For three glorious months in 2004, Washington actually had a baseball team.
  • Susan O'Malley Credits Singles Nights. The Washington Wizards are 12-8 and have the third best record in the Eastern Conference. As Tony Kornheiser likes to point out, it will be mathematically impossible for them to get off to their traditional 9-20 start.
  • Like When the Brady's Went to Hawaii. In this post, I referred to myself in the third person, which means that this blog may have jumped the shark. Several years ago, I wrote a silly little newsletter that I would send to friends for shits and giggles. Then, for one issue, a friend who was living in Budapest at the time wrote a guest column. The newsletter went downhill from there.

Lastly, the following story needs no updating. It still applies:

Oh well, sometimes you go through life with the president you have, and not the one you might wish to have.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Maybe If It Qualified For Medical Marijuana

There is a radio commercial that has been running a lot recently that solicits participation in a clinical trial for the treatment of something called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

According to the authoritative voice in the ad, symptoms of GAD include: restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge; being easily fatigued; difficulty concentrating or mind going blank; irritability; muscle tension; and sleep disturbance.

Many of us are familiar with these symptoms, but we call the ailment by another name – LIFE! Heck, I think I’ve experienced all these symptoms simultaneously at various points in my life. Parents probably don’t realize there is an alternative. However, instead of seeking medical treatment, we all just suck it up and move on.

If this truly is an illness, perhaps more focus should be placed on possible causes. Judging by these symptoms, I must have had a bad case of GAD immediately after election day, and after discovering all the crap that Cropp is trying to pull.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Reid: There Will Be Hell to Pay

Okay, the mild-mannered Mormon Minority Leader really did not say that, but suggested that is what might happen if Senate Republicans attempt to eliminate the right of the minority party to filibuster, and thus block judicial nominees.

“If they, for whatever reason, decide to do this, it’s not only wrong, they will rue the day they did it, because we will do whatever we can do to strike back,” Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was quoted as saying in the Washington Post article. He warned, “I know procedures around here. And I know that there will still be Senate business conducted. But I will, for lack of a better word, screw things up.”

Finally, a Democrat talking tough and making threats instead of merely expressing passive reservations about policy changes. Although, the article suggested that some Senate Democrats from red states could be reluctant to filibuster judicial nominees for fear of being portrayed as obstructionist, as Daschle was in his losing re-election race.

Give me a break. They are going to allow less than 400,000 people in a small Midwestern state decided whether a historical procedural maneuver in the Senate should be eliminated. Let’s get tough here. Tell the Administration not to nominate goose-stepping Nazis. Let’s not be afraid to tell the Administration to stick it up its’ ass. After all, there is a lot that should be stuck up their ass!

Republicans would be crying like babies (they’re good at that) if the situation were reversed. They have a rich, proud history of hypocrisy and double standards. In February 2003, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) violated a committee rule by moving to a final vote on two nominations without the support of at least one minority party member. Yet, Hatch invoked that same rule in 1997 to prevent a vote on a Clinton Administration nominee.

Also, the Senate has a ‘blue-slip’ policy that allows home-state senators to delay action on judicial nominees by not returning a nominee’s ‘blue slip’ to the committee. Hatch made this policy clear in 1998 by stating that no further proceedings on a nominee will be scheduled until both blue slips have been returned by the nominee’s home state senators.

However, Hatch declared a new policy after the dumb-ass became president arguing that, although the lack of a blue slip would be a factor, it would not be allowed to prevent Hatch from moving nominees that he supports. This was in direct contradiction of HIS policy.

Hatch has a lot in common with the dumb-ass president - he hides behind a deeply religious façade, when he really is a liar and a hypocrite. Thus, the ‘R’ that comes after his name.

Monday, December 13, 2004

These Are Their Stories ... Duhn-Duhn

I don’t have to tell anyone with kids that time is the most valuable commodity as a parent. Time has a way of getting away from you and suddenly you are behind completely on any number of things.

I have subscriptions to several magazines and I think I’m several months behind on all of them. About the only thing I have done in a timely fashion lately is pay bills, which my wife would be happy to know.

A favorite event for me and my wife is TV night. There is no time to watch our favorite shows like ‘Law & Order’ and ‘CSI’ during the week, so we tape them and watch them all at once on Friday or Saturday night. It’s funny how we sometimes eagerly await the arrival of TV night during the week, as it signals the start of the weekend and a brief respite from the rollercoaster ride of parenthood.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune confirms that we are not alone in enjoying TV night. The article reported on a study published in the journal Science that found that working women were happier watching television and that way down on the list was taking care of the children. While it is rewarding, the article also concludes (rightfully) that taking care of kids, particularly younger ones, is hard work, grueling, and relentless. “Who wouldn't like watching television more?”

An old friend who now lives in Oregon checked in recently after a lengthy period under the radar. She had her third child this year, so she understandably has been very busy. She apologized for not having been in touch, explaining that one son started kindergarten this year, her other son is into everything, and her new daughter requires so much time. To exacerbate matters, she noted that her husband has been away on business a lot during the past three months. Major yikes.

This friend quipped that she only has time to glance at the computer as she walks by it on her way to the next chore, let alone turning it on and typing out e-mails to people.

No explanation was necessary, of course. I think there is this implicit understanding among long-time friends who become parents that communications are going to be scarce, but that it has minimal, if any, impact on your friendship. When you are able to touch base, you just pick up where you left off and appreciate those moments.

Then, there are the moments which appear on the surface to be major time-sucks, but actually can be the most endearing. This weekend, our son was taking a much needed nap on the way home from an errand. We were reluctant to extract the car seat when we got home for fear that it would awake him, so I stayed in the car with him and listened to the radio, so he could continue his nap. My wife graciously brought out sandwiches and she and I ate lunch in the front seat of our car parked in the driveway while our son slept in his car seat in the back. That’s time well spent.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I'm All In

I play in this regular poker game with an eclectic group of people, of which I am the village idiot. The group consists of an Ivy League economist, an Ivy League-trained lawyer who moonlights as a stand-up comedian, an accomplished artist who has had showings all over the world, and a chief-of-staff to a U.S. Senator.

Our game started years ago before poker became the cultural phenomenon that it is today, so we like to think that we were ahead of the times. Many players have come and gone, and some will be re-introduced when they return to the area, but the five of us have made up the core of the game.

My meager brain cannot match their brilliance, but I have a great time and contribute to the festivities when I can. I subscribe to the old Mark Twain adage, ‘Better to be silent and thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.’ They’ve probably been around me long enough to know the truth though.

It’s funny how the game has evolved. When we first started out, it was your standard piddly little nickel-dime-quarter game with a $5 buy-in, and it was easy to get people to fold with a 50 cent raise. Now, we play Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments with a $25 buy-in and are able to play two or three tournaments each time. Instead of scurrying away from a 50 cent raise, we now don’t think twice about the possibility of losing $50 each time we play. The poker craze definitely was an influence with respect to the money issue.

One of the funniest stories to come from the poker game involved a philanthropist friend of the economist who used to be a semi-regular participant in the game. The lawyer/comedian is from the Midwest and has the stereotypical Midwest manners in that he stands up when women come into the room and makes sure he shakes hands with everyone when he arrives and inquires about everyone’s well-being. I say that as a statement of fact, and not a criticism, except that the bastard makes the rest of us look bad sometimes.

The philanthropist noted to the lawyer/comedian one night that he usually inquires about his wife and that he forgot to that night. The lawyer/comedian apologized and dutifully asked how everything was going.

"We are getting a divorce," he replied.

Dead silence, everybody was stunned.

"How long were you married?"

"Ten years," said the philanthropist.

The artist quipped, "At least you made it to double-digits."

It was funny to us and we take great delight in re-telling it whenever a new person joins the game.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

But It's Not February Yet

The Washington Wizards have won 8 games so far this season.