Friday, August 31, 2007
I almost never put a video into my blog, but I am so very impressed that I feel I must share this.
Please don't watch this only partially (or not at all) and leave me a comment. I ask you to watch it all the way through before you comment. This is on the honor system, so it's up to you and your conscience... but you'll find it's worthwhile and amazing. Perhaps after you see it, you may not wish to comment at all.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Yesterday evening I attended the candlelight vigil of John Graziano. Graziano is the young man who was the passenger Hulk Hogan's son's car. You've probably heard of that terrible car crash in Clearwater, which resulted in Graziano's current state.
John Graziano is in critical condition, and there appears to be brain damage (although they're not saying the extent of it). Last night, I heard a self-styled "missionary" (who has been with the Graziano family for the last 72 hours) whisper that Graziano is currently completely and absolutely unresponsive.
It is obvious to most people that Hulk Hogan's son is going to turn out to be the "bad guy" in all this mess, and well he should be. After all, he has received numerous tickets for speeding, is into "drifting" and has been seen to try to antagonize other drivers on the street, attempting to get them to race him. Obviously he's a dangerous speed junkie and deserves to have the book thrown at him.
But he's not the only speed junkie. John Graziano has been reported to love the adrenaline rush. Friends recount that he would do anything for it: Skydiving, jet skiing, he lived for the thrill of the thrill.
So at the candlelight vigil last night, emotions were mixed and his family was defensive. Repeatedly, family members and friends spoke defiantly, demanding that others pray for and care about Graziano without taking into account any personal defects. They talked about his service as a Marine in combat, and his heroism overseas. They said he is more than "just a friend of so-and-so" and I can agree with all of that. But knowing Graziano's history, it seems more than possible that he knew what he was getting into. And whether it was for the rush or because he was basking in the glory of being part of the entourage, he went willingly.
During the vigil, there were wretched moments. It was stomach-turning to see some of the photographers get within inches of a knot of sobbing people, so that they could get the best shot of a tear-streaked face.
The man who pulled the vigil together (the self-styled "missionary" I'd mentioned before) was most obviously doing it for the press. He puffed himself out, spoke in stentorian tones, and did his best to show his plumage. This was his chance at fame, and he wasn't going to give away a moment of his 15 minutes. He brought along with him a guy who played keyboards, and a pretty blond singer who couldn't carry a tune and was obviously more concerned about where to set up and how to perform.
When someone from the press actually cared enough to ask him for his personal information, the "missionary" was happy to give his full title and claimed credentials, finally admitting that he was presently a missionary without a country to go to. He quickly added that he prays constantly, however: Apparently that's the current mission. Good thing the Grazianos came along with a personal tragedy he could attach himself to.
It was a sloppy mess of a vigil, with constant distractions. First the rains and lightning came, and everyone was forced to find shelter under a smallish, tin-roofed area. The sound system was quickly re-arranged and the entertainment commenced. It was appallingly false, and those people who had come willingly to genuinely pray for Graziano seemed baffled at the show-and-tell. A supposedly simple prayer vigil had moments of prayer interspersed with vast amounts of showboating and the whir and click of cameras.
Growing sick of it all, many made their escape before the candles were even lit. And as I left, I had the eerie impression that the focus had never once really been on the man we were praying for.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Does even Craig think anyone is buying this? Even his poor wife, who was standing next to him during his press conference, doesn't seem to buy it. There she stood, in the obligatory Supportive Wife role, hiding behind massive sunglasses and saying nothing.
Another one bites the dust.
Republican or Democrat: Most politicians are so sleezy that you want to take a shower after you've spoken with them. I should know: I've dealt with plenty. And the neocons are exactly that: New Cons.
Craig is just another bad apple. It's time to toss him out of the barrel. Too bad the barrel's getting mighty empty come election time.
Monday, August 27, 2007
I live in a bordello and I'm using a cheap camera one of my customers left behind so that I can try to buy my way out:
Seriously, why in the world didn't they crop this photo? On the left we see a space alien modelling the latest in wigs on Ebay. On the right: Beetlejuice as Beetlesnake (made famous in the original movie). Do we see a resemblance here!?
Go on and splurge on your woman a little. Show her you care as much as we did when we took this picture. Go ahead, you know you want it! That's right! It's a ... wait a minute, what is it again? A napkin ring?
Here we have a handbag that tempts the most discriminating of purse snatchers:
This is the wig that gives you that "Just woke up, had a cigarette, and am going shopping in a MuuMuu with bedroom slippers" look:
Finally, this is the famous photo that was taken in England years ago. It's a lesson to be learned. Apparently this isn't unusual! Who knew that people like to list their Ebay items when they're butt-nekkid?!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Lisey's Story is an interminably dull story about a tormented horror writer's wife who has been left behind to pick up the pieces after his death. Because she takes too long to sort through the papers he's left (and potentially unpublished manuscripts), a crazed fan decides to stalk her and kill her. Throughout the plot, she reminisces about her husband, who was apparently a very brutalized child who grew up into a disturbed (but relatively harmless) individual. Sound familiar?
If this is Stephen King's cry for help, it's pretty obvious. However, he takes 653 dull pages to do it in. It would have been sheer kindness to spare the reader such puerile and uninteresting (and at times downright disgusting) reading. In King's defense, this is the way most of his novels are written, and yet people still buy them.
However, I find this truly enheartening. If people will buy this crap, it's time for me to whip out a similar novel. I am currently mulling this over.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Our local paper, the St. Pete Times, thought it was somewhat comical. However, they also mentioned that Mossgrove was at City Hall to take part in budget negotiations with the Brooksville City Manager.
Brooksville is a strange little town. The only thing that it's known for is Roger's Christmas House & Village. Every fall, Brooksville attracts visitors who want to roam throughout a series of old, wooden houses that have been converted to sell Christmas items. Each house has a theme: Storybook, Tropical, Kitchen, etc. It's a charming way to spend an afternoon before you retire to a local teahouse for blueberry muffins and scones. However, it's the only thing to do in Brooksville unless you are a farmer.
So, it's understandable that Mossgrove (and Brooksville!) might want a little attention. After all, not much goes on out that way. But I find it a little ludicrous to believe that a bag of burning popcorn could clear an entire building.
Incidentally, no one has claimed responsibility.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Rosie keeps her girlish figure through sheer perseverence, never tiring, always on the run. She keeps her customers through her constant, unflagging good spirits and fast service. When in doubt, breakfast at Rosie's is always a smart choice.
My nephew is now 7 years old and much better behaved than I remembered him, I'm happy to say. However, while we visited and ate breakfast, he kept his eye on The Claw.
The Claw is located within view of the entire dining room. It's a massive, glassed-in box filled with stuffed toys. At fifty cents a try, it's a child's dream and a parent's nightmare for, as most of you know, it's a rigged game. Although The Claw looks formidable, it's grasp is as weak as a dying woman with carpal tunnel syndrome. You can position it exactly over the item you want, and all it will usually do is slide limply over it, then return to it's original position, and you are out fifty cents.
My nephew wanted a particular hat desperately. He kept getting up to look at the machine, but had already been warned by his father not to ask for money. However, there is an old man there who is an expert at The Claw. When he came in for breakfast, I leaned over and asked The Regular if he'd be willing to try to get that hat. He happily agreed, I coughed up some quarters, and he and my nephew went to try their luck.
My brother sighed and said lightly "I am trying to teach him that gambling isn't good. I don't want a kid who dreams of Vegas and the slot machines. I really hope he doesn't get that hat!"
Shortly afterwards, my nephew was back. Still without the hat.
"See?" my brother asked him. "You just lost fifty cents of your allowance as well as Aunt Saur's money, and what did you get for it?"
"Nothing," his son replied reluctantly.
"Ahhh," said my brother, winking at him.
Meanwhile, Rosie was running to and fro in her usual state of harried cheerfulness, bringing us omelettes, grits, and chocolate chip pancakes. An omelette I created is now a featured item at Rosie's and my brother had to try it, and my nephew received the pancakes (loaded with chocolate chips) with great excitement. So, we tackled our breakfast and forgot about The Claw for a while.
However, after breakfast ended, The Regular called across a couple tables and asked my nephew if he was ready to try again. This was not in my brother's plans, but there was little we could do without seeming to be rude. My nephew scrambled out of the booth, I handed him a couple of dollar bills, and they went at it again, this time loudly encouraged by Rosie who kept assuring them that it was just a matter of skill.
Soon the money was exhausted and my nephew still had no hat. "Thank goodness," my brother mouthed to me. I grinned back at him. We thanked The Regular politely, waved goodbye to Rosie, and headed out the door into the Florida heat and sunshine.
Just as we reached our cars, I heard my name hollered and looked up to see Rosie racing toward us. She was waving the hat. "I told you that it was just a matter of skill," she said, laughing breathlessly, as she handed it to my nephew.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Of course it's good that Rove's gone. In a news conference yesterday, President Bush still claims him as a very close friend. I believe that, if we judge people by their friends (as we should), this speaks for itself.
And, it's obviously quite silly to believe that Rove is leaving at this point in a desire to spend more time with his family. What no one is really asking, however, is why is he leaving now? Rove is, after all, a neocon and hardly a classic conservative. Therefore, his choices and policies always leave me a teeny bit confused. However, I can venture to guess (and I think I am correct).
Karl Rove is leaving now because it is simply getting too hot for him to hang on any longer without putting himself or the Republican party in further jeopardy.
The Bush administration is seeing an ever-increasing resentment concerning decisions and policies that Rove stands squarely behind. And, we are facing a Presidential election in the not-too-distant future. Since it doesn't benefit anyone to have Rove active in the current administration any more, he has been asked to step down. Asked, that is, not by President Bush (who doesn't have the sense) but by high-end Republicans who don't want any chance of losing the White House in the upcoming elections.
As Michelle Malkin said, it's a great pity Rove didn't step down a year ago (or more). However, it's better that he should step down now than not at all.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Now, if I were selling men's underwear, I'd have no problems restraining myself. However, I tend to sell what I like. You see, from the time I was a little girl, my mother always told me to give away gifts that I like so that if they come back to me, I can live with it. The only problem is that it makes it harder to give them away in the first place. The same applies to selling the stuff.
I got to go through Orlando, over to Daytona, and up the coast to Jacksonville in my quest. The days were lovely, the drive was easy enough, with all the stops and starts, and I enjoyed seeing new scenery along the way.
I stopped in a designer's shop at one point during my trip. She was a petite Asian woman, with a strong accentless voice. I asked her if she was from New York originally and, startled, she admitted she was.
"But you know how many people ask me what country I'm from, instead?" she asked.
She had a man who walked in recently, and said "Konichewa! Or, how do you say it where YOU'RE from?"
"I say 'Hi, howya doin,'" she said, "Cuz I'm American and I'm from New York."
The man's wife promptly hit him and apologized profusely to her.
"He had it coming," she said, philosophically.
Friday, August 10, 2007
We now have four published authors in the family: Myself, and two other members. The fourth, my grandmother, was one of the few female journalists in the 1930s - 50s.
I'm very happy for this most recent author, and have been asked to oversee the marketing. She, on the other hand, is quite shy and doesn't like the necessary publicity she is going to have to go through in order to market the book. I will have to do a lot of cajoling and some bullying. :-P
The Art of Emails
Although emails have been decried as depersonalizing the workplace, I find that there's a great art to them. I often prefer them to speaking, as there are times it's better to say, or not to say, something in print than in person. I also find that they're a good way of keeping a distance, yet maintaining a kindly professional tone. And (admit it!), there are some people that are better kept at a distance.
One of the great bonuses of emails is The Caveat. You know - It's tacked onto the end of an email and reads something like this:
This email is intended for the intended recipient only. Should you not be the intended recipient, you will be sued or shot on sight: Whichever is easier. Should you be the intended recipient, you'd better read it and then destroy it. Whatever else you do, don't let it fall into the hands of the enemy. This message will self-destruct in 3.... 2.... 1....
I've decided to start sending out Caveats more often.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Illegal immigrants do so much damage to us as a nation. Not only do they cost more than they put back into the country, but they also create a system in which higher wages are easily suppressed among legally working American adults. According to a study in 2004 by Professor Borjas of Harvard University:
• By increasing the supply of labor between 1980 and 2000, immigration reduced the average annual earnings of native-born men by an estimated $1,700 or roughly 4 percent.
• Among natives without a high school education, who roughly correspond to the poorest tenth of the workforce, the estimated impact was even larger, reducing their wages by 7.4 percent.
• The 10 million native-born workers without a high school degree face the most competition from immigrants, as do the eight million younger natives with only a high school education and 12 million younger college graduates.
When you think it about this, common sense tells us that this is true. Only in today's political climate do we need to fund a study to prove that 2+2=4.
Additionally, they drain our medical system by going to hospitals if they're suffering from even a cold, knowing that hospitals cannot turn anyone away and must treat patients even if there is no hope of payment. They don't pay, of course, and thus medical costs to legal Americans go up in order to cover this.
Crime is also increased through these illegal immigrants. Just as they choose to not obey US laws when they come into the country, most continue to disregard our laws once they're living here. In some areas, the majority of criminals wanted for violent crimes are illegal immigrants. Our jails are filled with many illegal immigrants, who will hopefully be deported once their sentences are served.
Now we are forcing employers to be responsible, for the first time in almost 30 years. I've heard it said that this will only force illegals to the welfare lines. However, welfare is NOT available to illegal immigrants. In fact, since the welfare crackdown in 1996, welfare is not easily available to many people who are legally here. And ultimately, that is why we need the illegal immigrants to leave. They're taking our jobs, driving our wages down, and yet we still are forced into lower-paying, low-end jobs because we no longer have the luxury to hold out for a good job.
It is time for illegal immigrants to leave, and it's about time that the government is cracking down on them.
Monday, August 06, 2007
We get into Wendy's, get up to the counter, and I say "I'd like a Spicy Wrap" (or whatever the heck it's called). I wait for a couple of seconds, the woman smiles back at me blankly, and I finally say "Er, is there anything that comes with that?"
"No," she says. "But you could get a fries and a drink for a dollar extra." The way she says it implies that this is a whole lotta money, and she's not sure if I can come up with that amount.
"OK," I say. "Let's do that and make it a diet Coke. Oh, and can you add a small vanilla Frosty with m&ms?" (livin' large!)
"Um," she says nervously. "You mean a... wait a minute...." she looks behind her, carefully scanning the menu. She really takes her time, and makes a big production of this. She's straining to read the board. "It's uh..." and she reads the "official" name of the treat off the lit menu board.
Yeah, thanks for reading that one off to me: Obviously it's made a great impression, as I can't think of that name for the life of me this morning.
"OK," I say. I don't really care if it's called dog vomit, but if it makes her happy to say it, fine with me.
"Er, do you want it vanilla or chocolate?" she asks.
"Vanilla," I say again.
"Anything else?" she says, seemingly oblivious to the other two people with me - the ones that I've been chatting with the entire time. I then look at her name tag, figuring I'll see the word "Rookie" on it, or "Mentally Handicapped: Be Patient", or something. Instead, it says "Manager."
"Yeah," I say. "He'll have..." and I jerk my thumb at my son.
"Number 9," says my son promptly. "With a coke. Oh, and a chocolate Frosty with m&ms, too." He looks at me and says "I don't know how you can stand vanilla."
She looks back over her shoulder again. "A whaaa...? Oh, a..." and she names the Frosty combo again. "And what flavor would you like that to be?"
"Chocolate," says my son. Again. We look at each other.
"Is that all for you, then?" she asks brightly.
"Er, no, I think he'd like to have something too," I say, pointing to the guy with us, who orders his meal.
She then goes into fully-spastic mode, getting us three drinks. It looks like a real production back there and I begin to wonder if Wendy's has some sort of special punishment for managers. Is that why she's so nervous? Maybe if she doesn't get everything perfect, a great pit in the floor will open up and shoot her straight into a large fry vat or something.
While she busies herself getting the rest of the food together, my son and I take the tray and get the condiments, etc., and set up camp in the dining area. The other guy stays behind to get the rest of the food. My son returns to wait with him, while I plant my butt in front of a large glass window overlooking a steady stream of cars: Ah, the view!
In a minute, both guys return, laughing. "What's up?" I ask.
Apparently the manager had been looking around in panic for the tray, and when Number One Son told her that it had already been delivered to the table, she nearly tore her hair out in frustration. "I don't know what I already served you," she said in great anguish. My son told her it was only three drinks. "I... oh, this is making it all so difficult," she chided them both as she scurried off to finish putting the order together.
I go up to watch this process. She finally hands over the trays with the food, and we see that one of our Frosties is only partially filled. We point it out to her. "That's as much [name of Frosty with m&ms] as we give," she says huffily. I point out that the Frosty next to it is full.
The guy with us turns to my son and says in mock seriousness, "Did you order only 3/4 of a Frosty?" I'm afraid that she's about to correct the name again, but instead she purses her lips into a fine white line, snatches the chocolate Frosty off the tray, and takes it off to another area outside of the range of our vision, where the Frosty machine isn't.
Shortly she returns with the Frosty. Now the mixed portion is below and there's a large dollop of plain chocolate Frosty on top. Since it didn't take that long to just add a little Frosty to the top, and the machine was in the other direction, I'm tempted to ask what she just did, but I say nothing. I only ask why she didn't add more m&ms and she says "Because that's the only way I can do that!" You'd think I'd asked her to build the Brooklyn Bridge out of matchsticks. My son thinks it's fine, and neither one of us would like to send the manager into the Fry Vat Beneath the Floor, so we say nothing else.
She takes her time going over everything on the tray, matching it to everything on the receipt. She's so earnest, her lips are moving slightly as she pores over it.
Finally, we all go sit down, start to eat, and the guy with us says "Oh NO!"
"What?!" we ask.
"She gave me fries when I ordered a baked potato!" he sighs.
Here we go again.
So he goes up to the Manager, who then demands the receipt, pores over it in obvious and growing frustration, and finally dramatically admits that she goofed and she owes him a potato. He gets the potato, and sits down again.
As he digs into the potato, I ask "How is it?"
"Good," he says. "But you know how much I like sour cream?"
I nod Yes.
"Well, you should've seen how she took it when I asked for some extra sour cream," he says.
Friday, August 03, 2007
1. Someone try to blackmail me by threatening to return the item or give me bad feedback if I didn't send him something ELSE he wanted in addition to the item sold.
2. Someone who purchased a brand-new item, then returned a nasty, used version of the item so that he could both keep the item AND the money (I lost over $100 on that one).
3. Someone pretending to represent a major company and threaten to sue me or have my listing yanked because I was (accurately) describing the item and named the maker. When I finally realized this guy was just a scammer, and ignored him, he stopped writing. However, it took a lot of time, energy, and stress to deal with the troll.
4. Someone who left me poor (neutral - which isn't as bad as negative) feedback because an item I sold didn't come with extras.
5. Buyers who insist on having the item shipped out next day, despite my warning in the listing that it can't be (I DO have a real job, people!)
6. People who write to me, telling me what they'll give me for an item I've put on auction. Uh, hello? If I was open to suggestions, I'd add that to my listing. And no, you can't have it at a lower price: I don't care why you're specially deserving.
7. The buyers that ask questions, don't check their email, and then write increasingly hostile letters asking you why you haven't responded!
8. The sellers who sell fraudulent products and make the rest of US look suspect (most of these sellers are from asian countries, primarily China).
Needless to say, Ebay isn't what it used to be. I certainly wish there was a better auction service out there: One that would police everything, instead of allowing chaos to reign.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
1. Authors who poorly attempt to create a character that has unusual tastes.
For example, instead of making a particular detective merely human, he has to like obscure jazz. Now what REALLY bugs me is when they draw the other characters into the scenario. Here's an example:
Detective Snapes is listening to jazz in the dark. His boss calls and hears it in the background. His boss then asks Detective Snapes if it's the little-know tune "Jonquil" by the almost unknown band "Harry and the Hendersons". Almost unknown, that is, except to the author, who is trying to show off his impeccable taste. Snapes agrees that it is, in fact, the music that he (due to having a tortured soul and ecelectic tastes) is listening to.
OK: When have you ever liked something intellectual or obscure and found that your boss or even a colleague knows what the hell you're talking about? You'd be lucky if they knew who COLERIDGE was. And, in some instances, the name "Shakespeare" would bring blank stares. I am so sick of authors who employ this little tactic, and it's not simply one author that indulges in it - myriad authors are guilty of this easy and snobbish device.
2. Most Radio Talking Heads:
RUSH LIMBAUGH is a washed up has-been. I was a fan in the 80s, may I add hastily. However, he's been purchased by the Republican party and in a fawning attempt to please, will never go against the party line unless his listeners are so adamantly against it that he has no choice. The illegal immigration issue is one example: Rush was for them until he began to look as credible as Bill Clinton after Monica Lewinsky's blue dress came out of the freezer. What frightens me is that he still has an audience. This is, sadly, an example of how uneducated and gullible the blue collar workers are.
GLENN BECK started out as a perfect, independent moderate. But fame has turned his head. Because he is running with the Big Boys now, we are beginning to see their influence. Although there are times that he reasserts himself and will stand on his own, there are times that we see otherwise. Both sides are tugging at him, and I'm sorry to say that it appears that both are getting their hooks into him.
MICHAEL SAVAGE is often "right on" as a classic Reagan conservative (in other words, a moderate in today's political climate). But his caustic style and over-the-top viciousness at times dilutes his message. Are his advisors encouraging this? Let's all remember how Eddie Murphy's career died for a while after such blockbuster hits as "Beverly Hills Cop". Eddie began to listen more to his advisors than to his fans or his own common sense. He began to be so self-important that his career spiralled out of control until he got a grip on himself once more.
THE REST: The rest of the talk show hosts all fall roughly into the same pattern. I listened to one idiot yesterday ask sneeringly when we started calling vegetarians "vegans". Before *I* started spouting my ignorance to the world, I would grab a dictionary and look it up.
As most people know, a vegetarian eats no flesh but will eat animal by-products such as eggs and milk. A vegan will touch nothing that has come from an animal.
Then on top of that brillian rant, the moron proceeded to talk about how most vegetarians were hypocrites because they ate fish. I was ready to tear my hair out! That would make them...lessee here... NOT vegetarians! Of COURSE! And here's a tip for everyone: If you run across someone who tells you that they're a vegetarian but they eat fish, they're NOT a vegetarian. They're merely stupid. As stupid, that is, as this particular conservative talk show host.
I'm a moderate. That means that I come very close to what Glenn Beck once was (and perhaps still will be). As always, I find it hard to identify with either side, apparently because I'm educated.
Yesterday, a well-meaning friend listened to my rant and then said patronizingly that such talk shows were merely for entertainment, and the idiot anti-vegan was merely trying to stir things up for the fun of it. That's possibly a fair assessment. But, does that make it the right thing to do? And is it right that these men should be able to reach out to the mostly brainless, drooling blue-collar worker and plant ideas in his head that he will readily accept and absorb because he's too lazy to do the homework?
I am almost re-thinking The Fairness Doctrine.