Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Cornbread Wars

We don't always agree on the correct time to put the cornbread in the oven, but we usually end up with a fine meal nonetheless. I don't quite understand when txrad learned to deviate from the normal routine, but whatever.

I say, start the pasta first, then start the cheese sauce, and meanwhile, throw the cornbread in the oven.

It's just me.

At least the music's good. Whiskey River Take My Mind. Whiskey River Don't Run Dry.

Remembering Mr. Ed

Mr. Ed died on this day in 1979.

Collard Greens

I really can't think of a better way to celebrate the end of February than going out to the garden and picking some fresh collard greens and get them ready to boil for dinner tonight.

Yum yum! txrad gets the credit for growing them. I get the credit for cooking them. Also on the menu will be some purple hull peas, macaroni & cheese, cornbread, and a veggie "chicken" patty. Now that's a dinner! And I can be excited about the leftovers I'll be having for lunch at work tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More Birthday Tributes

Elizabeth Taylor is 75.

Ralph Nader is 73.
I guess his presidential ambitions are over.

Let's not forget Misty over at Shakes' place.

And a blog birthday wish for many many more goes out to Kelly -- her 1-year blogaversary just passed.

Light Blogging

I really need to come up with a way to do more blogging during the week to keep this place interesting, I know. Honestly, having a real job certainly does interfere with the hobbies!

I am thoroughly exhausted today and it's already after 7:00 here. I used to take the laptop with me to work and at least I could slip a short one in once a day or so. I'll keep thinking about this.

Meanwhile, there's a few birthdays today I can sling up in a few. Adds some color to the blog if nothing else.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Strange Mix of Birthdays

Fellow-Texan Erykah Badu is 36.

Fellow-Arkansan Johnny Cash would have been 75.
Sheer agony.

Jackie Gleason would have been 91. God, does THAT make me feel old!
I will core a apple with this implement!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

{N-word} Please!

I've always been fascinated with words and languages in general. When I was taking a German class in college I mistakenly substituted the German word for cocksucker in place of vacuum cleaner in a sentence I was using. I never would have known the difference had the instructor not enlightened me. The experience taught me one thing: there's far too much emphasis put on words being "bad" vs. words used with bad intent.

Just because I, and probably most people, would never use the word "cocksucker" in front of my mother, or at a church potluck, I would never support any attempts to ban the use of that word, or any other. Faggot included.

Now there are other words with double meanings and I really love those: pussy, cock, dick and ass immediately spring to mind.

I belong to the George Carlin school of semantics when it comes to words. They're just words: a combination of letters, and when spoken they are just sounds. Many words sound unpleasant to some people. My mother never cared for the word funk. Not that it's a "bad" word (although it's just one consonant away), she just doesn't like the way it sounds, and therefore she never uses it, despite the fact that very few other people would find it offensive. Such was never the case with the word nigger.

To be honest, my parents didn't use the word that often. I heard it far more frequently elsewhere. But I did hear it in my home on many occasions. For a good portion of my childhood, I honestly thought that was the proper term used for black people. I don't remember when I first heard someone correctly pronounce negro, but it was long after I had grown accustomed to the sloppier rendering.

What is far more interesting to me is how I absorbed the intention behind the word. It was hardly ever uttered casually in polite conversation. There was always an underlying anger embedded in the use of it. And that's what made me uncomfortable rather than the word itself.

Racism can be masked behind any words, or no words at all. Imagine a white woman saying, "I used to feel really safe in this neighborhood until that black family moved in next door."

That is offensive and blatantly racist. And still quite common. And she didn't even use the n-word. She didn't have to; the intent is what I find objectionable.

I have used the word, or variations of it, usually in a music context (like when I'm drunk on tequila and listening to N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton cd, but that's another story) and intended as a mockery of something my father said to me over 30 years ago regarding my music preferences. I'm verbally rubbing his nose in the fact that these black folks, to whom the word was so often addressed, have my utmost respect for their struggles and accomplishments. The stark contrast of a word which has been used for decades by racists who believe black people are inferior serves as a shocking reminder to me when used in the context of expressing my love for black musicians who were the inspiration for virtually all popular music today.

And I still get bitterly angry when I am reminded that some early black singers and musicians were not allowed to sleep or dine in many of the hotels or other establishments where they entertained.

This is a rather long-winded post leading up to a NY Times story today about efforts to ban the "n-word."

The New York City Council may vote on such a proposal by Wednesday; Paterson, N.J., and Westchester County recently approved bans unanimously.

The measures, which describe the forbidden word as an “ignorant and derogatory” insult toward blacks, try to sidestep First Amendment questions by calling for “symbolic” bans only, meaning they do not have the force of law. Because they are largely aimed at blacks who use the word among themselves, the proposals have revived a debate over whether minority groups can co-opt epithets and make them empowering.

Empowerment is something you feel; it's in your head. Derogatory insults are a malicious intention. Words are merely the transportation system. And what the hell does a "symbolic" ban accomplish? Why not just pass a "symbolic" ban on all derogatory insults and leave the words alone?

“There is a swelling population of black youth that use this word as if it is a term of endearment,” said Andrea C. McElroy, a black councilwoman who sponsored a ban on the racial epithet in Irvington, N.J., that was passed this month.

Umm, did she ever consider the possibility that it is a term of endearment in the manner in which it's being used by the individuals using it? She doesn't have to like it or use it. And I would certainly never criticize her decision to refrain from using it, or for despising it. There are millions of people who have been hurt by racism -- many of them physically, and many have been killed. The n-word has certainly been utilized in most of those situations. But words don't kill.

The sponsors of the bans on the epithet say that education is precisely their mission. Clinton I. Young Jr., who is black and who introduced the measure that passed in Westchester, said the legislation he drafted was meant to raise awareness about the painful history of the word.

He and other legislators said their goal was to create more programs like the one in Mr. Young’s district at Ossining High School. That program, called Project Earthquake, exposes black students to the origins of the word through lectures and documentaries, challenges them not to use it, and encourages them to dress professionally for class.

Dress "professionally" for class? In a high school? What does that mean exactly? Wearing the attire which evolved from their white oppressors? {n-word} please! Get a grip on yourself.

It's sad really that in the 21st century a word can still cause so many adverse reactions. And it's more disturbing to see all this energy directed towards banning a word when clearly there are serious race issues which still exist in America. Yes, let's educate our youth (and adults alike). Let's try and understand why white flight is still common, and why whites might be more likely to get a better deal on a loan. And where's the outrage over suppression of the black vote? What about the shameful lopsided rate of black incarceration in our fucked-up prison system?

Banning the n-word isn't going to accomplish a damn thing when it comes to solving real issues.

For those of you offended by the n-word, you might want to skip this Dave Chappelle clip. It is one of the funniest skits I've ever seen and there's no way I'd do a post this long and difficult, on this subject matter, without using it:

I'll leave you with a memorable quote from a 1969 episode of Star Trek, The Savage Curtain:

Abraham Lincoln: What a charming Negress. Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property.

Uhura: But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words.

Crossposted at Big Brass Blog.

And Cheaper Than a Dildo Too

oh my...

click the pic for more info.
That's what Alton Brown would call a real multitasker.

Order Five and Save

In Remembrance of Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams

What a life, and what a way to exit. Tennessee Williams died 24 years ago today at the age of 71 after he choked on a bottle cap.

From Wikipedia:
Williams was the victim of a gay-bashing in January 1979 in Key West. He was beaten by five teenage boys, but was not seriously injured. The episode was part of a spate of anti-gay violence that had occurred after a local Baptist minister ran an anti-homosexuality newspaper ad.

"Whether or not we admit it to ourselves, we are all haunted
by a truly awful sense of impermanence."-- Tennessee Williams

That Sinking Feeling

How far has the Christian Right swung when they can't seem to agree on their ideal presidential candidate, or whether they even have one?
“There is great anxiety,” said Paul Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation. “There is no outstanding conservative, and they are all looking for that.”

Just how bitter and mean-spirited does a conservative have to be to win them over and be considered "outstanding?"

Giuliani is too pro-gay rights, not hostile enough on the abortion issue, and most importantly, has been married too many times. Brownback is deemed too wetback-friendly. Huckabee is viewed with suspicion on the issue of tax cuts. Romney is simply not Christian enough and his great-grandfather had too many wives. And McCain is just... McCain -- like an out-of-control 18-wheeler on a long downhill run.

Will a genuine gay-bashing, abortion-outlawing, warmongering, Constitution-shredding, tax-cutter-for-the-rich, photogenic, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white male Bible-thumping Christian from a pre-approved mainstream denomination with one beautiful wife and 2.5 adorable clean-cut children please step forward so these lunatics will stop all the unnecessary gnashing of teeth?

Because the ones currently running just don't seem to have enough hateful anger.

Go Ahead: Demotivate Me

Finally someone has done the right thing with these annoying motivation posters. When I see them proudly displayed in an office I can't decide whether to quietly cringe or blurt out a blood-curdling scream.

via Chet at The Vanity Press

2,000,000* Kisses... my dearly beloved bloggrrl Shakespeare’s Sister who just surpassed a big threshold on her blog:

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Big congrats! Have some cake.

*figure includes trolls

Saturday, February 24, 2007

One More Cat Post...

...and then I'm done for now. This is essential viewing for feline fanciers.

More at Raven's Wing Studio.

Austin Gives Ego Boost to Obama

At least 15,000-20,000 turned out on Friday to hear Barack Obama speak in Austin.

Austin real estate agent Cynthia Carlisle said Obama did not seem to have the charisma of Bill Clinton, the last Democrat to hold the White House. But she got a positive chill when he referred to activism toward ending racial segregation.

"He needs to pump it up," Carlisle said of the speech.

By and large, crowd members were transfixed and thrilled.

Iman Houston, 24, a University of Texas School of Law student, was among dozens of fans who shook Obama's hand. Smiling, Houston said: "I've never met anyone who's just a mega demigod." Her heart fluttered, she said, adding: "We had energy going between us. I could feel his sincerity."

Hmm, it's a little early to be declaring him a "mega demigod." I'd prefer to wait a year or two into his first term before bestowing that kind of praise on anyone running for political office.

KVUE has some video clips here. I can't seem to get them to play. Maybe you'll have better luck.

Happy Birthday Michelle

Michelle Shocked is 45

Michelle Shocked

I can hardly believe it's been over 14 years since we saw her at the Wiltern in L.A. The June date in Austin was in 2000, and I attended alone since txrad was visiting his family in North Dakota. His loss, my gain.

Another Cat Spanker

I don't know why I get endless amusement from this. Probably because I've been a cat spanker for a long time and mine seem to love it.

Thanks to Paul the Spud for this one.

Anyone Can Grow Up to Be President of the US

Bullshit. Get over that antiquated idea. These days it's only open to those who are either obscenely wealthy or extremely well connected.
While the top candidates are expected to raise as much as $100 million before the first nominating contest in Iowa in January 2007, Vilsack had set a more modest goal of raising about $20 million.

He said the possibility that big states like California and Florida could move their primaries to early February 2008 would make presidential politics even more expensive, and suggested it was time for a debate about public financing of campaigns so they can be more than "a money primary."

"At the end of the day it's not about hard work or effort or good ideas, it's about money. It's got to be more than that," he told reporters in a conference call.

And even if an "outsider" were to be successful in raising the funds necessary to wage a competitive race, the odds are they would cease to be an outsider after a few successful primaries. By the time the lucky winner takes the oath of office, he or she is already bought, paid for, and owned by somebody else.

And that's just the way it is.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Pussy Blog

What a week. TGIF.

The good news is.. txrad has an interview on Monday at the same place where I am gainfully employed. Wish him luck. It's chaos and I know without a doubt he can bring some sanity into the situation. The cats aren't going to like both of us being out all day but hell, it's more money for cat food in the long run so they need to understand the BIG picture.

So, here's my Tater Tot just a few moments ago. Top picture: he's checking out my inbox, probably wondering why I never touch the stuff. It's all bills anyway, so why bother.

Middle picture: He's standing in front of the monitor. He was wondering why my site meter has dropped substantially this week. (Hell, bitch, I have to work for a living; I've got no blogging time!)

Bottom pic: He knows that laptop from work doesn't belong on my desk. He has to check it out.

I sure do miss spending days with my boy but he seems to not have a problem making up for lost time when I get home in the evening.

What's everyone else up to tonight? It be FRIDAY!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Remembering Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol died on this day in 1987 at age 58.

Warhol Museum

Back in the early 80s when I had a subscription to his Interview magazine, I received a Swatch watch as a gift for subscribing, and I got it on my birthday. So I used to joke that Andy Warhol gave me a watch for my birthday. That's the last watch I ever wore. I haven't worn a watch since the 80s.



Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Nina Simone was born on this day in 1933. She would have been 74.
Mercy me, I sincerely LOVE this woman with unbridled passion. Here she is from 1962.

Mary Chapin Carpenter is 49
Interesting (unsanctioned, I'm guessing) video.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Toad Weather

I've often struggled with trying to define my ideal outdoor temperatures. And I have found it. I can't pinpoint it with a number such as 72 degrees. It varies from day to day and month to month.

Today, February 20, 2007, at 8:37 PM, this is it.

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Celebrations & Remembrances

Nancy Wilson is 70

Kurt Cobain would have been 40.

Gee, that means Nancy Wilson was only 30 when Kurt was born? Wheeeeeee... stop me from thinking!

Productivity Rules!

Not bad. I'd only been home from work slightly more than an hour and already had a blog post up (OK, so it was an easy one), baked a batch of blueberry muffins, and got the pizza dough rising in a warm oven.

I try to keep muffins around to take to work so I can avoid spending $1.79 on one at Whole Foods Market. My recipe calls for an 8-oz. container of lemon yogurt and I had none. So I substituted sour cream sweetened with a spoon of that frozen concentrated juice -- used tropical punch today. I suspect orange juice might work as well.

In a pinch it's fun to experiment. The sour cream substitute isn't bad really.

I Am Not the Least Bit Surprised

Because I'd do anything in my power to get my hands on that last donut.

You are Cleopatra

Beautiful and Charming. You are able to persuade anyone to do anything you would like, because of your hotness and charisma. You are an expert in gaining power over anyone you choose.

Take this quiz at

Via Shakes.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hold On! Hold On!

If you are having to gamble to pay for education.

Aren't you just fucking yourselves?

It Just Hit Me

I'm the last person on the planet who needs to call undue attention to himself.

And no, this has nothing to do with trolls. It has far more to do with Norah Jones.


"Mama" Cass Elliot was born on this day in 1943 and should have been 64.
Sad. I'm still waiting on "all those labels to be removed."

Tony Iommi is 59
This is the kind of crap that makes me realize just how old I'm getting.

Seal is 44
Is he doing anything lately?

Damn Good Advice.

Sign on the wall in the office kitchen:


Gee, are there still people on the planet who are unaware of that common courtesy?

It's right up there with "No Smoking in Bed." In my opinion.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Blogging About Money

I love reading about blogs and the New York Times had this story today about bloggers who blog about their personal debt. I decided I'd make my own contribution to money & debt.

I am thankful that I have recently landed a new job and I got paid on February 15. That money, which covered only my first week of employment, went directly into my savings account. I'll get paid again on February 28 and that will cover a full 2 weeks. I literally have stomach aches when it comes to dealing with finances until I get all this under control.

It's amazing how much self-discipline you can have when you are in a penny pinching position. As I've posted before about riding the bus to work, I won't dwell on that topic except to say I love it. And for $10 a month it can't be beat. That's 400 miles of travel I get every 4 weeks for ten bucks.

We've also eliminated most of our dining out expenses. A few years ago we were eating out for lunch AND dinner. Something prompted us to reconsider. Probably the $700-$800 a month we were spending in that particular category. We started cooking during the week and only eating out for lunch on the weekends. Even that can be expensive. A quick glance at my Quicken software tells me we were averaging around $300 a month, including margaritas.

Since January 1st, we probably have only had one or two meals out, all of them in that first week of the year, and both were cheap meals. And since I started working at the new job in late January I have taken leftovers to work most days. A couple of times I've had to run to Whole Foods and pick up something for lunch, and I've developed a particularly nasty habit of going over there around 10:00 to purchase a cup of coffee, and on the days when I don't have a muffin of my own to take to work, I'll buy a muffin or scone.

Nevertheless, the two of us spent only $63.00 on "dining out" expenses in January. What's more astonishing is that I expected our expenses for "groceries" -- which are tracked separately -- to increase somewhat. It didn't increase much at all, despite the additional cooking.

The really weird thing about all this is that I don't miss the eating out experience as much as I expected. Sure, I'd love to go to a restaurant at least once a week, but right now I'm in major conservation mode and it feels good. And cooking can be a major stress-reliever in and of itself.

So Many Birthdays, So Little Time

Yoko Ono is {gasp!} 74

Matt Dillon is 43

Dr Dre is 42

Molly Ringwald is {gasp!} 39

The Scrotum Monologues

I am so happy. As a male (for the most part), I've felt rather left out when it comes to vile, nasty and obscene body parts worthy of censorship. But lo and behold, I do have a scrotum. And the appearance of that word in a children's book has set off an uproar. While it probably doesn't carry the same baggage as vagina, at least I feel us guys are making some progress towards equality now.

The inclusion of the word has shocked some school librarians, who have pledged to ban the book from elementary schools, and reopened the debate over what constitutes acceptable content in children’s books. The controversy was first reported by Publishers Weekly, a trade magazine.

The scrotum mentioned in the book is actually attached to a dog, not a human, but I doubt it would make any difference. We certainly can't allow our children to know that our body parts have names.

Pat Scales, a former chairwoman of the Newbery Award committee, said that declining to stock the book in libraries was nothing short of censorship.

“The people who are reacting to that word are not reading the book as a whole,” she said. “That’s what censors do — they pick out words and don’t look at the total merit of the book.”

Wendy Stoll, a librarian at Smyrna Elementary in Louisville, Ky., said: “I don’t think our teachers, or myself, want to do that vocabulary lesson.”

No, of course not. But you probably never had an issue with teaching a child about a "pee pee" or a "tinker bell."

Look! It's a nut sack!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Freedom to Marry Celebration in Austin

txrad and I attended the Freedom to Marry Week Celebration in front of Austin City Hall this afternoon. It was a beautiful day for several dozen couples to take commitment vows in the plaza.

The woman performing the group ceremony made the comment that she is legally able to perform marriages but is not permitted to get married to her own partner. Now that's justice in America!

There was also a wedding cake. I tried to get a picture of the cake but my camera strap obscured the shot. The sun was so bright I didn't notice until I got home.

There were several speakers before the Austin City Council member Brewster McCrackin spoke briefly, with his 2-year-old son in tow, to a crowd numbering at least 200 -- based on my totally unscientific guesstimate.

Also speaking were Alyson (left) and Heidi, pictured below. They were briefly legally married in San Francisco before the validity of those marriages were tossed out. They reaffirmed their commitment vows in today's ceremony.

Heidi comments over at Pam's House Blend and both of them were familiar with my blog so it was fun to surprise them.

The event was very casual and relaxed. The absence of protesters was just an extra perk.


Billie Joe Armstrong is 35

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Pussy Blog

OK, it's the weekend, and I have pussy to share. Pussy Galore, as it were.

Tater Tot got tired of posing for pictures and finally fell over with his toy which he sometimes carries around in his mouth like a dog. That's the shiny thing next to his fat belly.

And here's kona checking something on the blog earlier this week with a Tot ass in my face. The Tot loves to summon me to the office so he can prance around on the desk while I'm working. There's a lot less of that going on now that I work outside the house but it does continue when I'm at home.
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Now, earlier today I did promise some musical entertainment, so pop one open and enjoy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for an appointment at the Spartacus Ale House.

At Least It's Friday

The weather forecast says "tranquil."

As I sit here typing, it's 16 degrees. That will make for a fun half-mile walk from the bus stop to the office. But it is Friday, the wind isn't blowing, and we should be in the 50s today and tomorrow.

The Friday pussy blog will appear late this afternoon or early this evening. So check in after work, have a drink, and I'll have a tune playing. Then I'll drop in over at Shakes' place for a few more drinks and some Friday merriment.

After this week I am definitely looking forward to some weekend blogging.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I Am Spartacus

And I am late. But hell, yesterday was a LONG day.

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Don't Be So Sure

Overheard at work today. Three guys chatting:

Guy A says to Guy B: "I heard you're gonna have a baby boy."

Guy C says to Guy B: "Oh you already know the gender?"

Very few things in life are certain; that's just one of them.

It's OK; I have no particular love for the NBA either

This is blunt. What's the big deal with people? I don't go around saying "I HATE heterosexuals."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tell Me This Guy's Lyrics Don't Sound Like a Woman's

Did this post make any sense at all? I'll clarify. His lyrics to the one song I was referring to seem to have been written from a feminine perspective. Vocally he also strikes me as sounding like a woman in the Madeline Peyroux vein. I should probably do my blogging before I do my drinking to avoid confusion. That would also save me the trouble of deleting posts which make absolutely no sense the next morning!

But what the hell.... it was a long exhausting day yesterday and I was in dire need of tying one on.

I think he sounds like Madeline Peyroux. In fact, that's who I thought it was until I heard her referred to as a him.

This Ain't No Party

This Ain't No Disco
This Ain't NO Foolin' Around.

I had a pretty good day at work. Life is looking up finally.

Hearts to you all on Valentine's Day! I love ya!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Shakes is Out of the Edwards Campaign

I read in the New York Times this morning that Amanda of Pandagon (the site is currently down due to unnatural causes) had resigned from the Edwards campaign so I was not the least bit surprised to read this afternoon that Melissa of Shakespeare’s Sister had done the same.

Politics is nasty. I learned this at the tender age of 12 when I was solicited by a kind woman working for a mayoral candidate in my small hometown. I was offered $5.00 to go door to door in a neighborhood and hand out flyers. This was not even something I was eager to do but five bucks was five bucks.

It just so happened the neighborhood I was assigned to was where my cousin lived. My aunt was a teacher in the public school and her boss was also running for mayor. I'll never forget the scorn I received from my cousin when he saw me going door to door campaigning for "the other side."

I felt really bad for even getting involved. Sometimes I think the best approach for us all, as bloggers, is to remain true to ourselves, and influential from the outside. Unless of course the candidate for whom we are campaigning is a radical of our equal. And sadly, I don't think such a candidate exists yet.

I understand that there will be progressive bloggers who feel I am making the wrong decision, and I offer my sincerest apologies to them. One of the hardest parts of this decision was feeling as though I'm letting down my peers, who have been so supportive.

If progressive bloggers feel she is making the wrong decision, then they are not truly progressive bloggers.

And the folks who issued threats to both Melissa and Amanda, whether serious or not, are about the most un-American group of malcontent fuckers imaginable. Not only are they immature and devoid of understanding and compassion, they are clearly against the freedoms which we have all been blessed by the founding fathers. They are in the same league as the terrorists against whom we are supposedly fighting overseas.

If such people on our shores think they have scored any victory as a result of this, think again. You've got another thing coming.

We will never be silenced by the true enemy.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born 198 years ago today.

Ray Manzarek is 72.

Paging Lamar Smith

Rep. Smith,
Don't waste everyone's time requiring ISPs to monitor everything I say or do online.

I'll make it blatantly clear what I think: Fuck you. Last time I checked, this was not Iran, China or even Nazi Germany. Let's keep it that way.

Yes, It's Monday

Just curious: who do I have to blow around here to get a mild sunny day occasionally? Fog and drizzle resulted in a one-hour commute today on the bus. Given the amount of coffee I drink before leaving in the morning, that's pushing my limits. I was lucky today. My tolerance for dreary and dismal is wearing thin -- not that I'm even remotely aware of what's outside unless I get up and leave my cube.

Here's a workplace factoid:

It took over three months to formulate the agency's core values.

Not bad. It took me over 35 years to formulate mine.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Press 1 For Ignorant Bigotry

Photo credit: Angel Franco/The New York Times

Bill Balsamico is quite a guy. Not sure I'd ever want to eat in his restaurant. On the contrary, aside from the inevitable indigestion, this is the kind of shit that gives America a bad name.
Mr. Balsamico, the grandson of an Italian immigrant, describes himself as an open-minded man who uses obscenities and ethnic slurs to make his messages memorable. “As far as offending somebody, I really don’t care,” he says. “That’s just the way I am.”

Open-minded? Wow. That's stretching things a bit. Thanks to Fox News, his mind is so open I guess it all spilled out somewhere along the way.

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Or press 6 to stop Italian immigrants from coming over here to spawn bigots. Sweet Jesus, this country must be filled with crazies. Obviously some folks in the area are supporting his restaurant and apparently business is brisk on his website with sales of bigotwear.

Here's another sampling for your amusement.

Visit his restaurant site, Casa D’Ice, for more if you haven't seen enough already. As for me, I have the sudden need to cleanse my palette:

Comment of the Week

This deserves preservation. From the Bacon Eating Atheist Jew:
The first life on this planet was bacteria. We evolved from bacteria. Lots of our innards are made up of bacteria.

If God made us in his image, God is bacteria.

I stumbled upon that comment over at Mike's Neighborhood. Some things are simply too good not to share.

Portugal May End Abortion Ban

I cannot quite grasp the concept that other nations in the world are at least showing signs of moving forward on social issues while the United States of America always seems poised to slide backwards at any moment.

The only constant is the tasteless tactics of those who insist on limiting the right to choose.
Last week, children from two Roman Catholic day-care centers in the port city of Setúbal were sent home with a most unusual note: a fictional letter from a fetus to the woman who conceived and aborted it.

“Mommy, how were you able to kill me?” the letter read. “How were you able to allow me to be cut up in pieces and thrown into a bucket?”

The Rev. Miguel Alves, the day-care center director who sent the letters, defended his action as perfectly normal, adding, “There’s no reason for indignation.”

No reason for indignation? Ahh, excuse me, but this borders on mind rape. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not aware of huge numbers of women going around saying "I can't wait to get pregnant just so I can have an abortion."

As a man, I will never fully understand the thoughts a woman might experience when making a decision to have an abortion. However, I think I'm safe in assuming the experience is no joyride, and these guilt trips inflicted by suppressive control-freak religious organizations certainly aren't helping anyone.
“This is an important moment for Portugal because it’s a chance to shed the image that we are in the Middle Ages,” said Maria de Belém Roseira, a Socialist deputy and a former health minister. “We had the Inquisition here, and we still have people who want to publicly punish women. That a woman who ends an unwanted pregnancy can be sent to prison is unacceptable and hypocritical.”

Women who have been prosecuted for having abortions have been punished not with prison but with suspended sentences and a fine. But health-care professionals have been punished more severely. In one highly publicized trial that ended in 2002, a hospital nurse spent four years in prison for conducting illegal abortions.

Is this something we can look forward to in the US? It's quite possible. The answer could become much clearer by 2008.

Crossposted at B3

Birthdays.. and a Suicide

Good Lord! Eva Gabor would have been 86 today.

Leslie Nielsen is 85.

Mary Quant is 73
Mary Quant

Gene Vincent would have been 72

Burt Reynolds is 71

Sheryl Crow is 45
(would you please stop selling your songs out for corporate advertising? Are you that broke or do you just not care?)

Sylvia Plath killed herself on this day in London at age 30.

WHEW! It was a busy day in history!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Gay Marriage "Experiment"

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on the presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire spewed more nonsense this week regarding gay marriage.

Republican Mike Huckabee said Friday that marriage shouldn’t be treated as an “experiment,” responding to questions about whether he thinks Vice President Dick Cheney’s gay daughter should have the right to wed.

It's not an experiment; it's a basic human right being denied because you and others with your majority belief system prefer to suppress it. But who the hell am I, besides a guy who has been in a same-sex relationship for 17 years? I guess I'm a loud activist who doesn't feel the marriage option is just an "experiment."

“There are some very strong, loud activists who want to completely redefine marriage,” Huckabee said on July 6, 2004. “Many of us (amendment supporters) feel that it has become necessary to reaffirm the historical definition of marriage. It cannot be redefined to be something that culture wants it to be.”

This term "redefine" is becoming tiresome. How about simply "expanding" the definition of marriage?

“Whether or not our culture should accommodate persons of the same gender who wish to share hospital visitation rights, insurance benefits, and so forth is an entirely different discussion, but to call anything and everything a ’marriage’ is unacceptable because marriage means something specific — a permanent relationship between a man and woman for life.”

There he goes again with that "anything and everything" code talk intended to get his right-wing base all fired up with notions of men marrying goats. When will he and most other politicians begin having this "entirely different discussion" in which we would be granted such basic human rights as hospital visitation privileges? (Hint: Don't start your timers just yet -- it's gonna be awhile.)

I have another idea. If marriage is a "permanent relationship between a man and a woman for life" then let's try that experiment. Allow a man and a woman to get married. If the marriage fails, neither person should ever be allowed to marry again. Set up a separate but equal system for people who have failed at marriage but just don't call it marriage the 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th, or 5th) time around. And since it can't be called marriage, then gay couples can also have the same recognized union.

After about 15 or 20 years we'd have a vivid snapshot of just how sanctified marriage really is.

The link to the article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette is by subscription only. I stumbled across this link with another bizarre quote from the presidential wanna be:

Huckabee, speaking earlier in the day at Daniel Webster College, warned audiences that the country is at war with a perversion of Islam and that any bending of U-S resolve will let the jihadists destroy America.

He said anything less than a resounding victory in Iraq and elsewhere would mean the end of US culture.

Great. Just what we need in the White House: another batshit purveyer of fear. God help us.


Another drawback to being a working stiff is that I missed honoring a few noteworthy birthdays this week. So without further ado, let's begin.

Carole King was 65 on Friday.

Mia Farrow was 62 on Friday.

Axl Rose was 45 on Tuesday.

Charlotte Rampling was 61 on Monday.

Friday Pussy Blog

Yeah, I know it's Saturday. Give me a break. I have a real job now.

Miss Samantha taking a rest from screeching for canned chicken.

Sissy strutting her stuff on my desk just a few moments ago.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, February 09, 2007

The "Christofascists" Lost This Battle

Amanda and Melissa were front page news in the New York Times today -- below the fold, thankfully. Maybe this entire fiasco has now run its course.
This week, William A. Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, had called for Mr. Edwards to dismiss the women. Stunned to learn that he did not, Mr. Donohue said in an interview Thursday, “The bloggers are no longer the issue. Edwards is the issue.”

Actually, politics being heavily influenced by intolerant religious beliefs is the issue.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Common Sense on the Road

Today while riding the bus home from work I glanced over at a vehicle next to the bus. The woman driving had a parakeet on her shoulder and was chatting to it. I wonder if that would qualify as illegal under some of these proposed new laws regarding driver distractions.
Vermont lawmakers are considering a measure that would ban eating, drinking, smoking, reading, writing, personal grooming, playing an instrument, "interacting with pets or cargo," talking on a cell phone or using any other personal communication device while driving. The punishment: a fine of up to $600.

I occasionally will take along my drink after having a quick sandwich at lunch but I tend to only sip when I'm at a traffic light or when the traffic is light enough that I feel safe with such a distraction. I've never been fond of eating a sandwich or anything else while driving, and personally I just don't understand people who apply makeup or do other personal grooming activities while driving. I find it embarrassing that we even need to have such laws under consideration. Apparently we do.
"What finally pushed me over the edge was when I was at a stop sign and somebody opposite me was trying to navigate around the corner with a cell phone to the ear in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and she wasn't doing very well," said Republican state Rep. Thomas F. Koch.

He said his wife recently saw a driver playing the flute, which led him to include the instrument ban in his bill.


Distracted drivers were involved in nearly eight out of 10 collisions or near-crashes in a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute that was released last year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Young drivers are some of the worst offenders. A study of more than 5,600 students released last month by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Co. reported that nearly 90 percent had seen friends drive while talking on cell phones and that half saw drivers playing hand-held games, using listening devices or sending text messages.

I don't even have the patience to send a text message on my phone if I'm sitting at my desk!

Question of the day: What's the most absurd thing you have ever seen someone do while driving?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sexual Harassment

I just heard the announcement:
"The sexual harassment training for supervisors will begin in 5 minutes."
Many companies have a problem with supervisors sexually harassing others. Apparently at this company they need to be trained first.

Don't Fuck With the Catholic Right

Or else you'll quickly end up in their crosshairs. I was very happy for Shakes Sis when she landed the position of Netroots coordinator for the John Edwards presidential campaign on the web. There was some speculation as to how this would fly, and now we know. The Catholic League is pushing the Edwards campaign to take suppressive action to silence truthful speech.
The Catholic League, a conservative religious group, is demanding that Mr. Edwards dismiss the two, Amanda Marcotte of the Pandagon blog site and Melissa McEwan, who writes on her blog, Shakespeare’s Sister, for expressing anti-Catholic opinions.


Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said in a statement on Tuesday, “John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots.”

Mr. Edwards’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, said Tuesday night that the campaign was weighing the fate of the two bloggers.

Misty, a regular contributor at Shakespeare's Sister weighed in with some comments last night.
I'm not anti-Catholic. I'm anti-ignorance and bigotry--which are what your ideas on gay people, abortion, and contraception are, Mr. Donahue. Ignorance and bigotry. And you can take them and shove them right up your ass.

Right on! I'll eagerly await the decision by the Edwards campaign. I'll be extremely disappointed if they cave in to the demands of the Catholic League.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Thought for the Day

If you receive a transmission from the other side
and you have a phone to intercept it
then obviously you are prepared for anything.

But if you don't have such a phone
or don't even know that such a phone exists
then such transmissions might freak you out.

I hate to brag but...

Damn! I love Austin. I bought a bus pass today. I thought they were $17 monthly which is the rate that includes the express bus. As it turns out, the bus I ride isn't considered an express bus even though it gets on the freeway and we have about 9 miles without any stops. The bus pass which includes my route is only $10. And that's for a 31 day pass, regardless of the number of days in a month. This means I can go to and from work for 25 cents or less each trip.

There's a grocery store where I do the park & ride and they sell bus passes so I bought one today. This is just too lovely. I was able to get away from work a bit early today and caught a bus at 4:50 and I managed to get from downtown to the park & ride, went across the street to the store to buy a bus pass and then still got home around 5:35.

I am beside myself with excitement. Sorry I keep blogging about bus service but I told you when I started working the blog posts were likely to get erratic, not to mention eccentric.

I've read the comments everyone left in yesterday's post and I'm deeply sorry for those of you not blessed with the level of service we have here. I picked up a book of bus routes with a big fold out map on the bus this morning and I'm just amazed.

There's even an insurance policy you can buy -- I swear I think it said it only costs $5.00 per year -- and if you miss the last bus you can take up for 4 taxis home per year and they cover the cost.

How socialist is this town anyway?

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Bus is the Way to Go

After driving to work five days last week I decided to try the bus this morning. That worked out fine. Aside from only costing $1.00 roundtrip it was as quick as driving. Of course the tradeoff is that I now have to stress about getting out of the office on time to catch the bus which is still about a 12 minute walk from the office. Because it's a commuter bus they don't run all day; they have 4 or 5 in the morning and about the same number in the afternoon, so there's a narrow window of opportunity.

Nevertheless, I think this is the way to go. It's way more relaxing than driving, and a lot cheaper. I figured I'm spending $3.00 a day on gas when I drive vs. $1.00 to be driven. Granted, I do have to drive to the park & ride but that's only 3 1/2 miles vs 13 miles to the office.

Watching all the cars packing the freeway this afternoon I cannot understand why more people don't take the bus. It's crazy.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The War on the Homeless

I've been overdue for a good rant, so off we go. I can't think of anything more despicable than these new laws popping up which attempt to restrict or ban feeding the homeless. What this country should be doing (and is perfectly capable of doing) is declaring a war on homelessness, not punishing the homeless.

Now we have family-friendly Orlando getting hateful against the down and out.

Orlando, population 200,000, works hard to conjure the image of a true-life Pleasantville: a safe, welcoming place where visitors can soak up year-round sunshine and devour choreographed experiences at palm-ringed theme parks. But its spotless sidewalks, sparkling lakes and twinkling skyline belie a real city with real maladies — most notably, a surging homeless population that authorities are struggling to control.

After a law that banned panhandling was struck down by the courts, the city tried to discourage aggressive beggars by obliging them to carry ID cards, and later by confining them to 3-by-15-foot "panhandling zones" painted in blue on sidewalks downtown.

Despite these laws, the number of people living on the streets of the Orlando metro area swelled, from roughly 5,000 in 1999 to an estimated 8,500 today, dwarfing the city's shelter capacity for 2,000 people.

So in July, the city commission tried a "supply-side" approach: It passed an ordinance regulating the feeding of large groups of people in Orlando's downtown parks.

Those who wished to feed more than 25 hungry individuals at parks within a 2-mile radius of City Hall could do so, but only if they obtained a "Large Group Feeding Permit" from the parks department — and no one would be granted more than two feeding permits a year.

No exceptions.

For the first time anyone in Orlando could remember, not only would panhandlers find themselves in the crosshairs of the law, but so would those trying to help them.

What kind of friggin' sick society have we become where cities enact laws to punish those who help the needy?
"Have you seen the fat people walking around Disney World? We should make it illegal to feed THEM.--Jay Leno

This is all abhorrent enough, but here's the twisted logic of one Orlando blogger who supports the restrictions:

"Feeding the homeless only encourages more homelessness," one resident, with the moniker "Justin Credible," wrote. He then summed up his argument in an equation. "Less Homeless Less Problems Better Place to Live."

What a selfish prick! Like someone is going to choose to be homeless in order to get free meals?

Advocates for the homeless feared it wouldn't be long before other cities passed similar laws. As it happens, they were right.

Already, the cities of Dallas, Fort Myers, Fla., Gainesville, Fla., Wilmington, N.C., Atlanta, and Santa Monica, Calif., have laws restricting or outright prohibiting the feeding of the homeless. In Fairfax County, Va., homemade meals and meals made in church kitchens may not be distributed to the homeless unless first approved by the county.

Other cities, including Miami, are considering similar anti-feeding measures.

Screw these absurd laws. And screw these "tourist towns" and ritzy well-heeled assholes. What would Jesus do? He sure as hell wouldn't be seeking approval from any fucking county!


Alice Cooper is 59

I would have given anything for a chance to see them live when I was about 14. The first album I bought was probably Killer but my favorite had to be Love It to Death. Back in those days they could really crank the sexuality. It was difficult to find some of their pre-"School's Out" stuff and I really thought I'd scored something when I found this LP in a store:

I loved all that long hair! Now, 32 years later I have my own long hair.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

My Father's Side of the Family

My father, pictured on the right, would have been 84 today. So I thought this would be a good excuse to continue with the family series of posts I started at the end of December. For me, this was the interesting side of the family tree. That's my grandfather on the left. I never knew him as he died long ago. His wife was a true piece of work. She divorced him after giving birth to my father and married another man with more money in order to support her lifestyle which was, shall we say, loose & carefree and involved spending money. That's probably why I loved her so. We were very much alike.

Here's an early picture of my grandfather. Not a bad looking chap!

And here's my wild and feisty grandma.

After she married into money, she would travel around the country leaving her 2nd husband behind to run his laundry business. However, she would take her "colored" maid along on the trips!

In the 1960s husband #2 decided to sell the laundry and retire. (He died in 1968.)They packed up and left town for Dallas shortly after I was born. She managed various apartment complexes in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for many years. From the time I was 10 or 11 I would visit her every summer for several weeks. That's probably where I acquired my filthy mouth.

She loved to get in the car and go places. She also loved going to the airport, even if she wasn't flying anywhere. Sometimes we'd just go eat at the airport. When I was old enough for my parents to feel comfortable allowing me to fly alone, I flew from Little Rock to Dallas on Braniff. This was back in the old days before deregulation and not every airline had figured out the efficiency of the "hub" concept. My flight to Dallas took me via Ft. Smith and Tulsa. Or maybe that's why Braniff is no longer serving us.

My grandmother was certainly one of the few liberals in my family. And she'd flaunt it. I think she enjoyed the shock value. I remember her bragging about having two gay guys living together in her apartment complex. She called them her "gay boys." Once in awhile she'd have other stories to tell, like the time she found a tenant growing marijuana in an apartment.

By the time she was in her 70s it was obvious her boss was ready for her to retire. She was frequently getting moved to a new complex. She always kept a cheery attitude about it, even when she was moved to the far west side of Fort Worth. Finally, about the time she was in her late 70s she was fired. I know that must have been devastating for her and I know she expected to continue doing what she did, and living the big city life until she died.

With no job and no place to live, she had to return to rural southeast Arkansas where she grew up. Fortunately my dad had a small rental house that was vacant. He fixed it up so she would have a home. It was very small but cute. Her belongings filled every square inch of the place. It took her awhile to realize she was no longer the "manager" who could bark orders to have something changed or upgraded. I honestly believe for awhile she thought this was only going to be a temporary situation and eventually she'd return to Dallas.

It was only a few years before she began to slide into frail senility. That's when I realized I'd lost my grandmother. Her tough persona faded into something unrecognizable. She was no longer independent. Her last years were spent in a nursing home after she was unable to care for herself. I hated visiting her there. She became clingy -- always wanting to be touched. She was content to sit in her wheelchair and hold my hand and she was always sad when our brief visits ended. This was never the grandmother I knew.

I honestly don't remember when she died or how I was notified. I don't even know if I went to the funeral. It's odd how I tend to put unpleasant events out of my mind.

Part 3 in a series on Parents/Grandparents.

Part 1: Father and Son
Part 2: Meet the Grandparents

Friday, February 02, 2007

Thus Concludes the Workweek

Normally you would expect the week to fly when starting a new job. Such was not the case with my week. It seems like a month has passed since I started on Monday. Well, technically a month has passed since it's now February. I think one problem was that I had very little work to do on Monday & Tuesday. Wednesday was a slight improvement and then the last two days actually went by fairly quickly.

Yesterday's commute home was by far the worst of the week. I was so annoyed by the time I got out of downtown Austin I stopped at a liquor store on the way home for some tequila. After 45 minutes I was still just walking distance from my office! If that doesn't justify a stiff drink then I don't know what would qualify.

After five days of trying different routes to and from work, and there certainly is no ideal route, I have this to say about Americans and their cars: it's just stupid. Austin desperately needs mass transit in the form of light rail. It's in the works, thankfully. One problem in this burg is that many of the major streets were designed for a city with a metro population of about 300,000 rather than the 1.3 million we currently have. And many people seem to take major streets into the downtown area rather than the packed freeways which creates a huge congestion problem. After attempting several routes this week, I have decided the freeways make about as much sense as any other route.

Our house is 13 miles from the office where I work downtown. In light traffic I can make the trip in about 20 minutes. During morning and evening rush, it can take a minimum of 30-35 minutes which isn't bad considering how long it seems I'm sitting in slow traffic. I can handle 45 minutes. Anything approaching an hour just makes me want to blow a gasket.

We do have an express bus service I'm going to try one day next week. The park & ride is less than 4 miles from the house and I would be dropped off about 1/2 mile from my office which isn't bad considering I currently walk a bit more than that from the parking garage to the office. A monthly bus pass is $17 and I'd probably save a considerable amount on gas and far more wear on tear on my nerves if I didn't have to deal with driving. I'm hoping that is the solution to my problem. We shall see.

Meanwhile, I just want to relish every moment of the weekend.

Friday Pussy Blog

Working certainly does interfere with the timely posting of the Friday cat blog but here you go!

Top: Sissy showing off her butt and bushy tail, as well as the damage she has done to my lovely chair.

Middle: Tater Tot

Bottom: Rebecca's Gidget taking a big nap.


Graham Nash is 65

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The First Clean Negro

George Allen Syndrome: Part 2. Joseph Biden of Deleware has kicked off his 2008 ambitions with a bang. What the hell was he thinking?
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, who announced his candidacy on Wednesday with the hope that he could ride his foreign policy expertise into contention for the Democratic nomination, instead spent the day struggling to explain his description of Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat running for president, as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

This was probably just poor phrasing, rather than racism, but...damn. Before saying something I usually give it an internal trial run just to hear in my own head how it's going to come out.

This is not the first time something controversial escaped past his lips.
Mr. Biden’s comments also focused new attention on remarks he made about Indians last year, when he said, “you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

Al Sharpton assured Biden that Barama isn't alone. “I told him I take a bath every day.”

Sharpton is pretty bright and articulate as well. So now it seems there's at least two of 'em out there.

Meanwhile, the inarticulate Biden might want to reconsider that White House bid.