Sunday, April 30, 2006

No one, I think, is in my TREE...
I mean, it must be high or low...
--John Lennon, "Strawberry Fields Forever", 1967

It seems like that rogueish scamp, Keith Richard, who by all rights should be DEAD right now, is trying his best to end up that way, according to a news article that a friend sent to me. (And I am highly grateful; without that, I'd have nothing to post today!) The Rolling Stones were evidently in New Zealand, goofing around as only rock stars can, when ol' Keith decided he needed to find a new way to get high. So he promptly climbed a coconut tree, and then proceeded to fall out of it. The big news was that he caused a huge dent in the ground. Did Keith feel any pain? That's a silly question; he fell on his HEAD; of COURSE he felt no pain!

Shortly after THAT incident, ol' Keith then had an accident on a Jet-Ski! I think maybe, this is Keith's Strategy: Since the Rolling Stones' total intake is roughly that of our Social Security System, Keith is trying to become disabled, so that he can get disability payments from the Stones. In short, he wouldn't have to get onstage and play guitar anymore, yet he'd make the same amount of money if his disability interefered with his work (if you can call what he does "work"). After all of this, Keith spent the night in a hospital, under "observation".

This was a new experience for the New Zealand doctors who observed him. After all the chemicals he's ingested over the years, he should be on an "astral plane" somewhere, not running around here on Earth. It could be, that Keith is bionic. Maybe he'll never die! My take on all of this? It could be that drugs are GOOD for you...if you can survive the amount that Keith's consumed over the years, you can fall out of coconut trees, stick your tongue in electrical sockets, and never come down with flu or colds. Yes, folks, it is my hypothesis that Keith's taken so many drugs over the years, that he's now immune to EVERYTHING.

I don't need to do a photo-satire here...any photo that Keith Richards is in is distorted somehow. Indeed, here, we are looking at the visage of a man who may outlive us all. Better living thru chemistry? There may be more to that phrase than we can possibly know.

To paraphrase an old Neil Young song:

Hey, Hey, My, looks like Keith will never die...
There's more in his system than meets the eye...Hey, Hey, My, My...
Out of the blue and into the black...he can O.D. and come right back...
He's done everything... from "grass" to "smack"...Hey, Hey, My, My.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mother Nature changes moods FAST!
Evidently someone tried to fool Mother Nature. It didn't work...

For the most part, today was really NICE. Like John Denver once sang, it was "Cool 'an Green an' Shady." Yeah, I was in the park today; I brought the little transistor radio with me, and the Mariners actually won in a come-from-behind game today. As I listened to the game, I was watching the pickup basketball games on the new Park "slab", and other people tossing frisbees, baseballs and soccer balls. All of a sudden, everyone's come out of the woodwork; two weeks ago, the park was absolutely vacant. Something about the warm weather and sunshine, I guess.

Listening to veteran Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus is always an interesting experience. Today, the Baltimore Orioles had loaded the bases. He said, "There's a bird in every bush, and their wings are flapping", as they threatened to score bigtime against the M's. If someone hits an easy fly ball to an outfielder, Mr. Niehaus will say that it's a "can of corn", and of course, whenever someone hits a home run with the bases loaded, he'll yell out, "get out the rye bread and mustard, Grandma, it's GRAND SALOME TIME." (he hasn't had the chance to say that very much this season!) I have a sneaking suspicion Niehaus is manic-depressive, but I don't have proof.

So anyway, I spent the day in the park. MMMM, sunshiny all day long. After listening to the M's game, I went up and sat on the Sea Wall and practiced some note combinations I picked up last night. I got a new DVD by Traffic, and I found the melody line from "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" really interesting, so I was playing that over and over. I probably drove everyone around me crazy in the process. I think I drove Mother Nature crazy, too...because all of a sudden, I began feeling raindrops. I looked up, and a big old cloud had parked itself right over me, and splat, splat, splat...I looked down, and the ground was DRY within a ten-foot radius of where I was sitting. My own personal rain cloud. Whoopee.

And then, all of a sudden, WHOOSH! The winds started kicking up, rain started falling everywhere; I threw my guitar in the case, and toted it, along with myself, to the nearest tree so I could shield myself from Mother Nature's assault. Someone out there somewhere must have done something terribly wrong; that's what I think whenever a severe storm kicks up all of a sudden, that someone somewhere made the Gods angry, and their wrath was thus vented upon us all. Of course, the storm is probably nothing but coincidence, but that's not good enough for someone who makes molehills out of mountains like I do. After that, I just went home. I can be thankful my roof doesn't leak, I guess.

Anyway, for those of you who meandered through this obviously boring, irrelevant posting, here's a nice little visual reward: In the first photo, here's CDA's City Beach as it appears today; you can see Independence Point, and the log boom which marks off the portion of the swim area that the Lifeguards try (in vain) to control...

In the photo below, you'll see City Beach and Playland Pier, which sat where Independence Point is now; you can see the swimming docks that, in my humble opinion, made the swimming area a whole lot more fun.

When I was a kid, I had so much fun swimming here. Gotta lotta sunburns, too! Judging from the haircuts in this older photo, I'd say this photo was taken somewhere in the mid to late '50s, possibly early '60s. You can see the old shade trees by the park benches, and unlike now, there was no concrete between the sidewalk and the seawall. I hope you liked this version of "Living in the Past"!

Not bad, not bad at all, considering I didn't read a newspaper, or exercise any kind of free-thinking today. I guess the ol' propaganda machine is still working...

Friday, April 28, 2006

I find this HARD TO SWALLOW...
...that a certain Mr. Limbaugh actually has a drug problem!!!

I don't pay ANY attention to Limbaugh...all I know is that he is some kind of right-wing ultra-conservative blowhard demagogue who uses (used?) the airwaves to spout off his no-holds-barred highly-restrictive outlook upon unsuspecting American radio listeners. He's a dyed-in-the-wool-suit-type guy, who probably has to remove his necktie before operating a drill press, mowing the lawn, or changing his oil. His idea of hard rock music is probably The Partridge Family, and a wild night out for him probably consists of going out and hearing who's left of Lawrence Welk's musicians if they happen to be in town.

So, I was initially surprised when it was disclosed that he has a DRUG PROBLEM. This bastion of traditional (his version of traditional, anyway) American values. This pompous,ideological-smashing-unless-it-agrees-with-me guy who is slightly to the "right" of Newt Gingrich and the late Senator Joseph McCarthy; in fact, Limbaugh is SO conservative, he can sleep only on his RIGHT side. On the freeway, he won't ever pass another car because in doing so, he'd have to swing to the LEFT. And we can't have that! But, like rock stars, movie stars, wannabee-stars, former stars, hippies, flippies, dippies, yuppies, guppies and puppies, he's got a DRUG PROBLEM. That's just not the CONSERVATIVE American Way! (or is it?)

I'm finding all of this HARD TO SWALLOW...

If you see ANY of these pills in your over-the-counter medication, take 'em back! Throw 'em away! Incinerate them! They're not GOOD for you. And if you accidentally swallow one...sadly, all you can do is wait for the effects to wear off. It can take a LONG time.

A FIRST for "Thin Air"...this blog has INTERCEPTED a

The wide wonderful world of politics...everyone jockeying for position. Who's gonna step down next? Who's gonna fill his/her shoes? What's the next scandal gonna be? Who's gonna screw up next, and how is the new Press Secretary, Tony Snow, gonna gloss things over? And will he fail miserably, as did Scott McClellan? To be fair, though, Billy Graham himself couldn't make this administration look good.

Everyone in Washington is living for the present, but it is undeniable that they're all planning for the future. Those close to the President don't want to be seen as rats jumping off the ship; it's best to stay the course and be seen as a person of commitment and fortitude. But...they're thinking ahead; they're ALL thinking ahead. And Condee Rice, the Secretary of State, is among those quietly planning their future...

Strangely, in a way, I kinda like Condee. She seems to have some BRAINS and personality, two things which are sorely lacking in this lame-duck-for-two-terms-adminstration. I know one thing for sure...I'd hate to get on her BAD side...she probably eats piranhas for breakfast. Eats 'em ALIVE, in fact. Ack! (gulp)

Putting "two and two together"...sort of...
There's really no excuse for this post, but I'll try to explain myself...

Sometimes I just can't resist temptation. Sometimes the things which are placed in front of me are just too good to resist. I know I shouldn't do things like this, because they're NOT NICE, but what can I say? I try so hard to be a good guy, but sometimes I'm lower than third-rate pond scum, and this post is indicative of that. I'll explain further...

In tonite's "Huckleberries Online" (, there were two pictures. One picture showed muckraking journalist GERALDO RIVERA together with a couple of other people. The other photo was an image of a girl who was being packaged as a "piece of meat", which was a commentary about the loss of human life (I suppose).

So anyway, I looked at one photo. And then the other photo. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and all of a sudden, BANG! It hit me, and I'm sorry, but I HAD TO DO IT! I couldn't stop myself! It is a sick compulsion within me! Totally disgusting in a sadistic sort of way! It's hard being me sometimes. Anyway, here 'tis...

If I were taken away to the Humane Society, they'd probably put me in the cage with the rest of the SICK PUPPIES. Arf!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I feel I'll do some damage one fine day...
But I would not be convicted by a jury of my peers,
Still Crazy after all these years...

That's kinda how I feel sometimes. And, that's why I love pop and rock music; there's a lot of philosophy in some of the songs I hold dear. I suppose even "Doo-Wah-diddy-diddy" can be philisophical to a point. Anyway, like Paul Simon, I'm the kind of man "who seems to lean on old familiar ways"...and it has always been hard for me to accept change. I've lost jobs because too many things messed with my sense of order. And, not only are there changes, but there are more and more changes happening, and they're happening faster and faster.

To wit: I wrote yesterday that a crew was starting to tear down the Social Security building. Starting to tear it down. Today it is GONE. Just like that. Each time I'm made aware that something has disappeared all of a sudden, I feel a sense of shock. The Social Security building, gone. So much for "security", I guess. The "social" structure is changing. Instead of down-and-out blue-collar Social Security seekers, there'll be fur-collared condo-dweller wives with their yuppie husbands who are eternally attached to their laptops, forever making deals. Sometimes I feel like I don't belong here anymore.

I can't help but think that we are at the mercy of every single fairly well-to-do up-and-comer who visits this area. They decide to relocate here, and when they do, they proceed to change everything in order to make the area more like what they are used to. In short, if they're going to convert this area to what they're accustomed to, WHY DON'T THEY JUST STAY WHERE THEY ARE? That bothers me a WHOLE LOT. But they don't care. They don't give a damn. And, that's basically the way the whole world is anymore. I try not to think about this too much, because it bums me out. So I'm going to change the subject now before I get further bummed.

I spent much of today outside. I went down to the Spokane River, again with loaves of bread for my feathered friends. I remember Dad used to take my sister and me swimming there, back in the days when you could actually DRIVE close to the riverbank. There's a steel gate that prevents any automotive beach-trekking now. Reminds me of another old song, "There's a Chain Around the Flowers; There's a Fence Around the Trees"...(old song by the Lewis and Clarke Expedition from 1969). And it was an absolutely gorgeous day. The blue sky was dotted with clouds; this was the most perfect day so far this year.

And you know what? As I headed home, I stopped off at the grocery store. I got out of the car easily, and walked smoothly into the store, and I came to a realization that shocked me: I ACTUALLY FEEL GOOD!!! Wait a minute, that's not me. I need agony, I need to suffer, I need pain, I need something to complain about...could it be that I'm recovering my HEALTH? As long as I don't make any sudden moves (my back is still a little touchy), I'M FINE! And I'm not USED to that. I may have to be careful with my back the rest of my life, and I have to take gout medication the rest of my life, but I felt GOOD today. Huh? What?

For those of you who were stuck inside a manufacturing plant or some oblique office cubicle all day (ala Dilbert), THIS was the kind of day it was in Coeur d'Alene...

When the weather's great, it amplifies the beauty of the area. That's what entices all o'them condo-building yuppies who are escaping their own personal hells to come up here and create brand new hells, right here in the middle of paradise. How much of the beauty of our environment is gonna get gobbled up before people come to their senses and limit the height of downtown buildings and regulate the amount of homes per acre? I have long loved this area, but I don't like what it's becoming, AT ALL. But...and this is long as I can gaze out over the water...I'll be okay. Crazy, but okay.

Here's a little bit o'trivia: What famous country-western performer was in the Lewis & Clarke Expedition, the group I mentioned above? Answer: Michael Martin Murphy, only then he didn't use the "Martin". He also did the really immortal song, "Wildfire". That song is three minutes of pure MAGIC.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

HEADLINES that will give you WRINKLES!
Or, in this world, why take any more chances than you have to, right?

If you're one who writes headlines for a newspaper, obviously it's your job to try and sum up the article into a brief, crisp, clear, concise few words so the reader will have some kind of clue what he's gonna be reading about. And one headline writer wasn't taking any kind of chances with an article about gasoline in today's paper. We all know it's going up, right? We've known that for AGES now. Well, at least a couple of months, anyway. An article today was prefaced with the headline, "GAS PRICE RISES LIKELY" Really??? That's about as profound as saying gravity pulls things DOWNWARD.

However, another headline REALLY threw me for a loop. Habitually, I'll buy a newspaper and read it over coffee or over breakfast. Today, that's what I did. Grabbed a paper and went into the restaurant. Laid the paper down on the counter, and got smacked with the following header: "NIC (North Idaho College) GETS ITS FIRST CADAVER." Ulp!!! Hey, I've been contemplating my mortality ENOUGH lately, going to all of these different DOCTORS around here. And, the headline wasn't referring to any students who've had massive coronaries because tuition there has risen so much. It was a 90-year old lady cadaver, actually. (cadaverette?) Another weird parallel e-mail screen name is "cdadave" (Dave in Coeur d'Alene), and if you put an "A" after the "C", remove one "D", and tack on an "R" at the end, it spells "cadaver"! Yikes!!!

Here's another jewel of a headline by yet another headline writer who was obviously playing it A5 of the S-R this time: "HEART DEFIBRILLATOR REPLACEMENT CAN BE HIGH-RISK SURGERY". CAN??? When is cutting one's chest open, propping the rib cage open with a crowbar, and taking out a device that assists the heart NOT ABSOLUTELY DANGEROUS? Next thing you know, I'm gonna see a headline somewhere that reads, "DEATH CAN BE FATAL". No kidding!!! I've heard that the paper is trying to cut back on the amount of mistakes it makes, but I kinda think "carefulness" such as is exemplified in these headlines is going just a bit too far.

I've got a headline for ya dept.: HYDROPLANES are FAST BOATS. Well, if you're piloting the X-15, hydro's may not be all that fast, but you get my drift. Hopefully. Anyway, I tried to post this hydro-brochure-cover several weeks ago, but that was when my computer was beginning to come down with amnesia; it couldn't remember what I was telling it to do. This time, I have a sledgehammer at my side, and my computer knows I will USE IT, so it's behaving. Although, it probably laughs at me behind my back...or every time I have to reboot.

ANYWAY, from the year 1962, here is a brochure that PROVES the hydros raced upon CDA Lake once upon a can actually see Tubbs Hill in the background of the artwork:

This serves as another reminder of times past, before yuppies, condos, cellphones, rap music, eyesore resorts and other irritating factors which all serve to chip away at today's society. In 1962, I was 8 years old, in 2nd grade, and we were still 2 years away from Beatlemania. Long, long ago, long ago..........

For a change today, I got a bill that I didn't OWE! The bill was for partial payment for my back-steroid shot, but I'd paid the whole thing AHEAD. Still, I got the bill. Paranoid as ever, I called and was reassured I didn't owe anything. I tells ya, you gotta WATCH these medical people!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The fine art of BIRD-FEEDING...
...trying to achieve some order in the wild kingdom...

I've watched people feed the birds...they'll have a sack of bread pieces, and they'll throw out handfuls which land in big bunches on the ground, and the birds swoop in madly, killing each other in the quest for a few precious crumbs. It's "survival of the fittest", because the most aggressive birds get the most food, while others stand away from all of the action and go away hungry. Well, I don't do things that way. I bring 2 or 3 loaves of bread with me, and I'll pull out a slice, tear a little bite-sized bit off it and throw it to an individual seagull. If I see an aggressive bird bite another bird, I'll toss a piece to the bird that got bitten. Oh yeah, I'll toss one to the bird who "bit" also. See, I don't like competition. I think everyone deserves a fair shot, as do all the birds. So, I'll toss pieces as far as I can for the birds who don't want to come up close, and I'll drop pieces for other birds close to me.

I have found that even though seagulls are largely afraid of humans, through my bird-feeding method, they'll perch on a picnic table where I'm sitting; sometimes they'll even roost on the bench I'm sitting, once they perceive I'm no threat. They must know I have a bad back and can't move too fast. You oughta hear the welcome I get when I show up on the dike road with my loaves of bread...they all swoop in from wherever, and raise a holy ruckus. "Oh boy, the bread guy!!!", they must be thinking. All of those doggone seagulls look so much alike, it's hard to tell one from the other. Although there are a few aggressive birds who are slightly bigger than the other ones. There are a couple of them that have brown spots rather than the standard gray-and-white color scheme; I wonder where they came from; they're larger; I wonder if they came inland from the ocean, because I've seen birds like that there.

As I mentioned, I hate competition; everyone gets a piece of bread. (oh my, now I'm actually "personalizing" the seagulls!)(am I turning into a BIRDbrain?) There are a couple of seagulls, though, that I really favor, because I really admire them for surviving in the cruel, competitive bird world. One seagull has only one foot; his other leg reaches the ground, but there's no foot on the end of it, just a stump. Another seagull has only one leg. That bird is really aggressive, tho, as if it is making up for its physical shortcoming. So if I see those two birds, I'll toss just a few more bits of bread their way. Actually, the one-legged seagull is very resourceful. Today he (or she?) flew overhead, and I tossed a bread bit into the air, and "he" snagged it. So, all the while I was feeding the birds, this one just kept flying in circles around me, and although I missed him a few times, "he" had quite a meal. The one-footed bird with the stump isn't quite as resourceful; it stays on the ground and gets victimized by the other birds. So I'll throw a few crumbs at all the birds around it, and when they're in a feeding frenzy, then I'll toss one to the bird with the "stump". Like I said, "everybody gets some".

I make a game out of bird-feeding; I'll spot a bird that hasn't had a piece of bread for a while, and I'll try to toss one to it; I'm getting pretty good; oftentimes the bird doesn't even have to move to get a piece of bread. Other gulls will stand rather close to me, and I swear they look right at me and squawk out their best version of "please, throw one to ME!", and I do. I'll toss crumbs to the left, to the right, and even in back of me. And I've noticed that the birds just kinda stand around me without squawking at, or pecking at each other. I try to be fair, and I believe in some primitive way, they sense that, and know that if they're patient, I'll get to them. Now the GEESE kinda complicate things. They'll walk right up to me, and steal the bread right out of my hands. Today, a goose was actually standing on top of the picnic table, in back of where I was sitting, waiting for bread. That goose got a meal, too. In fact, when "he" got impatient, he would actually peck my COAT, letting me know he was there. For a while today, one goose and 2 seagulls were on the table-top, within arm's length of me. That is odd, especially for the seagulls, who never really get close to people.

Today, as I fed the seagulls and geese, a "mama" goose approached me, and following her were 4 or 5 baby geese, which REALLY surprised me. Well, it's spring, after all. These things happen. The mama goose ate a couple pieces of bread and then walked away, again followed by the "goose-ettes". That was really something. There is one big white "daddy" goose who comes up to eat bread sometimes; today he stayed away. He is HUGE, with a huge thick beak, and I was kinda afraid of him. But one day, he waddled up to me and I took a chance; I held out some bread and he slowly and gently removed it from my hand. Was I ever surprised!

I don't know when this photo was taken, but it's possible some of the gulls that gobble up my bread are among the flock here.

I don't have it "together" enough to have a pet. I don't want to have to tend to it constantly; I don't want to walk a dog and have to "scoop up" stuff; I don't want a parrot or a parakeet; it would drive me crazy squawking all the time. I am allergic to cats for the most part; I have to wash my hands every time I touch one; if I touch my face without washing my hands after petting a cat, my face will break out and I'll start sneezing. I used to HATE seagulls; why do I feel different about them now? I honestly don't know. This last winter, I saw them outside trying to survive, and that touched a nerve. I also feel that way about the ducks and geese. So I fed them. I don't know if birds are smart enough to be thankful; I don't even know if they can THINK. But while I'm feeding them, I feel like they all are my pets for a short while. I swear those seagulls look at me and PLEAD. And when they're all squawking and flying around me, I have "life" around me. Feeding them the way I do, I honestly have a good time doing it. I must be getting senile.

And finally, these closing comments from the birds themselves: "Squawk! Screeeee! Aaaaark, aaaaaark! AWWWWWWK! Squawk, squawk!" (Thanks, guys...)

I mean, what else is there to do?

After going to yet another doctor appointment today, I decided that I would wait until after the Seattle Mariners' game before blogging. I was all ready for a nice relaxing night of baseball. Since the M's beat the World Champion White Sox last night, I figured maybe Seattle would be competitive tonight. Yeah,'s the 7th inning, and Seattle is behind 7-0. So, I might as well blog! It'll help make this forgettable attempt at a baseball game go by a little faster.

It's a veritable potpourri of pills dept.: It seems that as my life continues day after day, I'm a-poppin' more pills all the time. Pills for anxiety/depression. Pills to inhibit manufacture of gout. Other pills to help filter out what gout there is in my body. And the occasional hi-powered, hi-octane sleeping pill if I haven't slept well for 2 or 3 nites. Plus aspirin or ibuprofen if my osteoarthritic knees are letting me know they're there. Each nite before bed, I go thru a sort of medical smorgasboard. Oh, and I can't forget to take one more gout pill when I get up, too. They're too strong to take 2 at a time when I go to bed. That's me...I'm a pill-poppin' son of a gun. I guess as long as I'm well enough to ingest more food than pills, I'm okay. Right?

One less place for the riffraff to go: Coeur d'Alene's Social Security office is a place where you'll see the more ingrained, diehard, standard-type Idahoans. People who aren't rich, who are seeking various kinds of assistance that only the Social Security Dept. can offer. People who aren't dressed up, who often drive old cars, and some of them don't get around so well; life has taken its toll on each of them and they're getting by the best they can. Well, today began the eventual demolition of the Social Security building at 5th and Front in CDA. A high-priced condo will be built on that block. No more Social Security seekers coming downtown now. The more cynical side of me would say this is all part of a plot to keep the po' folks out of downtown CDA, as the Lake City seeks to foster an image of affluence and political correctness when it tries to appeal to outsiders. I hope that's not the case. I really do.

I almost lost my appetite dept.: Seen in today's Coeur d'Alene de-Press, a want ad that caused me to do a double-take so severe I almost got whiplash in the process. The ad read, quote: "Free to good home. Not to be used as food. Hand-raised, sweet baby RATS." Huh? What? As I mulled this over in my empty head, I slowly came to the realization that "oh, it must mean not to be fed to CATS." Okaaaay...but for a minute there I had visions of little mouse-sized Vienna Sausages. I know times are tough, but I don't think anyone around here is that hungry...yet...(I still have this vision of "sweet rats" in my mind.)

Songs heard over coffee dept.: Today, Java on Sherman was featuring pop music from the '70s over its speaker system...among the songs I heard, "I'll Play For You" by Seals and Crofts; yeah, they might have been lightweight airheads, but their songs were melodic, agreeable and pleasant to the ears. Then I heard "Lady" by the Little River Band; this Australian group had great pop hits, but their albums also featured a lot of good tunes that radio never played. Finally, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart", a #1 song by the Bee Gees. I have NEVER heard ANY Bee Gees' material I didn't like. By the way, oldest Bee Gee Barry Gibb came down with severe back problems in the 1990's which forced him to cut the group's performances way back. Barry, "ah feel yer pain". So what the Bee Gees ended up doing, were a limited series of concerts around the world, and each concert was broadcast far and wide so all of their fans could see 'em. Good strategy, that. They made a DVD out of one of those concerts. Rakin' in the bucks, those guys. They make money faster than the average DOCTOR! Or plumber.

Oh Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie dept.: My doctor used to be here in CDA. He moved his practice out to Rathdrum. So, I've got a ways to go if I wanna see him. But it gets me out of CDA, which may or may not be a good thing. About a mile or so south of Rathdrum, to the east of hiway 41, a huge relatively flat field is being bulldozed to make way for, yep, another massive subdivision with 72 homes to the acre (hopefully less!), and that's where you can see the old and new Idaho clashing; a field to the west will be green, with mobile sprinkler systems insuring a good crop, while a field to the east will one day be a field no longer. This is not an indictment, it is only a comment. That said, thar sure are a LOT MORE people around here than thar used to be! I'm glad I live in an older section of CDA, where nothing changes. So far, anyway. But I may yet wake up one day to see a Condo tower looking down on my little house.

A rather quirky period of history dept.: You probably remember when, during O.J. Simpson's trial, Mark Fuhrman said he'd never used the "N"-word, when in fact he did. That was all part of Johnny Cochran's "grabbing-at-straws" strategy to defend "the Juice"; I'd say it worked. I just hope O.J. doesn't carry a knife when he's out golfing with his buddies. If O.J. lost a match, there might be a couple less golf buddies returning with him to the clubhouse. Anyway, around here, way back around the turn of the century, a certain "point" on CDA Lake utilized the "N"-word. It was called "N-word head point". (I'M not gonna type that word here!) Can you guess what that "point" on the lake was?

Yep, here it is, Arrow Point, the former "N-word head" point. I have never actually been on the point itself, so I don't know if it's publicly accessible or not. Probably not, what with so much of the lakeshore being owned by those who want to keep everyone else away. As I sit in City Park looking out over the lake, Arrow Point is what, maybe 2 miles to the south of me? Yet you have to drive close to 20 miles to get to it. I always thought this was an interesting place. Anyway, sometime in the early 1900's, the point's original name was changed to Arrow Point. Which proves that we in Idaho have been racially enlightened for ages, no matter what pseudo-militant-churches have located up here in the past.

...meantime, the Mariners' game continues. The M's have actually scored 2 RUNS!!! Trouble is, the White Sox have scored 5 more runs. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz...............blahhhhhh................

Monday, April 24, 2006

The fine art of MERCHANDISING...
or, how they keep us coming back for more!


Last week, I bought my first pack of recordable CD's. I bought 30 Memorex CD's; they were packaged in a round plastic container. "Hmmm", I thought, "I'm gonna need some little jewel boxes for them", so I bought what I thought was a package of 30 jewel boxes. When I got home, I found that those jewel boxes already CONTAINED CD's. I'd THOUGHT the purchase total was kinda high! Have I ever told you I can be dumber than a mud fence sometimes? So, I had 30 CD's in cases, and 30 more WITHOUT cases. So, I went to Staples' ("Yeah, We Got That"), and I was informed that yes, they had CD "cases only" and that they were on sale. They had 50-packs going for $8.99. Great! So I bought those, and when I got home I realized that I now have not only 30 CD jewel boxes for my 30 unboxed Memorex CD's, I now have 20 EXTRA jewel boxes. It'll be just my luck that when I need to replenish recordable CD's again (which will be years from now, since I have 60 recordable CD's, after all...), I'll have to buy more recordable CD's, and I'll probably only be able to buy them in packs of 10, 20 or 50. Which means I'll either have not enough or too many discs for the amount of jewel boxes I now have. I could solve all of that by buying three boxes of "ten", but the smaller the pack, the more-per-cd you spend. So I'll play CD "leapfrog", probably; first, buying CD's, and then having to go buy jewel boxes, hoping someday that the totals for both will match up but knowing they probably never will. I think you've (accurately) realized that every single damn thing in life is a problem for me!

A tale of financial assualt "by" battery: So, that's how they keep ya coming buy more, but it's either too much or not enough, and you're always having to go back and make extra purchases. For instance, I've seen AA batteries; normally, they're sold in 2 packs or in packs of 250...well, there have been times when I have seen AA's and other batteries sold in 3-packs. Wait a minute; most every battery-operated thing I have either takes 2 or 4 batteries, but not THREE. Assume that all of the battery-operated clocks in your home are working (they usually take 'one' battery); you're stuck with one lonely, single solitary battery. You don't wanna throw it away, because it's "new" and full of energy. Yet you can't use it anywhere. So, you save that one extra battery. Then your transistor radio or TV remote fizzes out. You have that one battery, but you need two or three more. So you gotta go buy another pack of batteries, after which, you'll have extra batteries AGAIN, because after all, you had that one good "extra" battery to begin with.

The Medical Community is especially good at this shell game! I had an MRI done three weeks ago at a cost of $900. It cost me $200 more to have it READ. Huh? What? Well, I also had a steroid injection in my lower back, which cost me $1300. I kinda thot that anesthetic was part of the process, right? Well, today I got a separate bill from the anesthesia place, and they want another $450. Huh? WHAT??? I'll call them in the morning to see if this is a mistaken charge, but having experienced the Medical Community first-hand over the last month, I'll probably have to pay that bill, too. It's a wonder they don't charge a processing fee for accepting your payment. And a debit/credit bill for entering the amount you paid into their system. And an extraction fee for taking your payment out of the envelope you sent. And on and on and on...I don't mind paying costs up front; I just wanna know what the damn costs are so I CAN PAY THEM. But there are so MANY of these little hidden fees that attach themselves to one's main medical bills the way a wormy, slimy, killer virus creeps inside your computer and never lets go until forcibly removed. I may be totally wet behind the ears, but is this in some way DISHONEST, or is this just the way the medical community works?

Say you go into a grocery store. You buy a can of beans for 69 cents or whatever. If that store was located in the IRONWOOD Medical community, you would then pay a checkstand fee. And a checkstand-scanner fee. And a fee for accepting your payment. And a fee if the checker has to give you change. And a packaging fee, because after all, a sack was needed for your purchase. So you wouldn't dare ask to have your groceries carried out! Those Grocery Store Ambulances can be expensive, after all! How long would a store last, doing business like that? But yet, from what I've seen so far in the Medical Community, stuff like this happens at every single turn. My Arthritis Doctor has a way of being very unclear about what he wants one to do. I can't keep his rapid-fire instructions straight, regarding when my next visit is, how many of what kind of pill to take, etc. He is a nervous man, and he makes ME nervous. He is a GREAT doctor, but he "weirds me out". So today, I went into the arthritis clinic to verify what I'm supposed to be doing. I talked to a nurse who patiently explained everything to me. I'm trying to be a good patient. But I suppose I'll be charged a fee, for talking to a nurse who helped me make sense out of the doctor's rapid-fire instructions that confused me so much in the first place. I'm so masochistic by now, I WANT to be charged! BRING IT ON!!!

Am I stupid? Am I totally unfit for this world? Do I have absolutely no clue? I know one thing for sure; I don't have insurance. I suppose if I had 80% co-pay or whatever, I wouldn't be watching the dollars and cents like I do. I have the money put away, so I can handle it; so far, that's no problem. But I am just flabbergasted by all of this medical stuff. I suppose it's the way it's always been, and it's worth spending money to recover my health. But I'm just kinda shakin' my head here. So anyway, you get into the car after paying all of these medical bills, and you look at your gas gauge....UH-OH, yer almost empty...time to fill 'er up!!!

So you've got cars honking to the left, honking to the right, drivers talking on cellphones while zigzagging all over the place; kids in hot rods and bikers on Harleys rush by with the sound of their engines deafening you if you're less than 200 feet away from them. It's hot outside, you just wanna get home, but grudgingly, you pull into the gas station and drive up to the pump. You get out to fill the tank, and realize that you pulled up on the wrong side of the pump because you couldn't remember what side of the car your gas tank is on. So you pull out, back up, turn around, and finally align the correct side of your car with the gas pump, and you proceed to fill the tank, or put in as much as you can afford. With gas prices rising, the numbers on the fuel amount/dollars spent gauge are whizzing by faster than electrons spin around an average-sized atom (or, for those of you not scientifically inclined, faster than a developer can pounce upon empty land in Kootenai County!). And then you head home, hundreds of dollars poorer, but secure (maybe) in the knowledge that you won't be taken to the poorhouse for another week, and that you've got gas to go and pay those bills. Ain't life fun? I am seriously thinking about doing electronic bill-pay, but with all these medical bills that are multiplying rabbit-style, I'd need to make hundreds of time-consuming entries, and wait a minute, I already spend enough time online doing stupid stuff like this post!

Times like this make one think of a quiet place, a more serene locality, a place to go, not to withdraw from the world (although it's tempting), more a place to recharge one's batteries. (No, not AA batteries!!!) A place like this...aaaaaaahhhhh....

Somewhere on Hayden Lake there was peace and tranquility, in this photo taken long about 1921. Someone probably drew up a full-color postcard from this old black and white photo. If this was taken on a hot summer's day, I pity the ladies who are wearing full-length gowns. I suppose back then, there were no power-boats, which means the lake would be DEFINITELY quieter than it is today, what with speedboats and annoying jet-skis which buzz around like oversized, water-bound mosquitos. Anyway, I'm trying to get this post done early, because, you see, I have another doctors' appointment tomorrow. I think I'll ask him if I need my head examined.

After the visit to the doctors' office, I think I'll go back to the grocery store, and see if they have cheese on sale. I need something to go with my 'whine'. And I'll bring my own sack, if necessary. I'm trying to cut down on hidden fees...

I guess no one's safe anymore!
It's a case where someone takes your job and shoves YOU!

One of the easiest things to do in life is to LOSE A JOB. Some workers have quotas imposed upon them, along the lines of producing so many "widgets" per hour. If yew don't produce, yew are HISTORY. Many other employees are relentlessly scrutinized on the job during what is called the "probationary period", in which the worker's arrival times are duly noted, along with how much time they took for breaks, how many restroom breaks they took, how they got along with other workers, and how much they kissed up to management.

"Probationary periods" enable the employer to continually refresh their jobsite with new blood, whenever the old blood's production slows, or when workers' attitudes go downhill for some reason. Of course, the best way for you to keep your job is just to be PERFECT day in and day out. You're not a person, you're a workplace-production-machine. So, never have any problems or get sick, and you'll be able to hold your job for a long, long time.

Most every workplace will issue each worker an "employee handbook", which, if you cut through all of the political-correctness, is basically a document that lists all the things you can possibly do to LOSE your job. It's all written right there. The employer doesn't care if you read it. It's an "out" for them; this way they can fire you, and if you ask why, they'll say, "you violated something in the HANDBOOK." Their way of saying "I told you so" if the fired employee tries to take 'em to the Labor Board.

Still others find themselves in jobs which are well-insulated from the public; all they have to do is show up like good little drone worker-bees, do whatever it is they do, and keep their mouths shut. Mainly these are government jobs, like the ones you find at the White House...all kinds of advisors and advisor-advisors running around with access to sensitive information that they'd better not leak OR ELSE...THIS can happen...

This photo was "leaked" from Not to worry, tho, because the folks who work there will have their jobs longer than the average Pope.

Maybe the White House should just fire everyone and host a JOB FAIR? There is one White House official who is secure in his job, though. He can't get laid off. He still has just over 1,000 days left in his TERM. (See "Bush Clock" in this blog's left margin)

Getting with the (political) program...
I'll betcha BILL GATES wishes he'd invented this! He'd rake in the dough!

Well, never mind. Bill Gates ALREADY rakes in the dough, so I'm not about to help him out, unless it's to count his money, but only if he pays me for doing that. Hey, ya can't give it away in this world, after all...right?

Those who are keeping watch over the developments in Washington, D.C., are seeing a certain amount of upheaval going on. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan recently jumped off the Titanic into the frozen water, where he has MORE chance of long-term survival. The White House Chief of Staff recently resigned; he's so faceless that I can't remember his name. Of course, Mafia look-alike lobbyist Jack Abramhoff has been sentenced for all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things. I need to go wash my hands after TYPING about these guys!

Secretary of War, Pillage and Plunder Donald Rumsfeld is currently being touted as being someone no one wants to be within a thousand miles of, even though Prezzident Bush is "Standing By His Man." Come to think of it, no one wants to be within a thousand miles of Bush, either. It's only fitting that while reading today's paper, I saw a picture of Prezzident Bush and California Gub'nor Arnold Schwarzenegger together. If people keep leaving government service, THOSE TWO, with a combined I.Q. slightly lower than the number of games the Seattle Mariners will win this year, will be running things. LOOK OUT!!!

And now I've found out, that in the grand manner of master leaker "Scooter" Libby (I'm still not quite sure what his government function was), it's possible that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice might have eminated some sensitive info! Condee? That bastion of tough-mindedness who can flash her teeth and scare off a rabid pit bull? It's gonna be interesting watching the dominos fall.

But for all you OTHER politically-inclined public servants who hide behind a shroud of secrecy, so that we the taxpayers will never know exactly what your function is, or remain unaware of your existence altogether, YOU NEED to PROTECT YOURSELVES. With that, let me unveil my latest program which will protect YOU, no matter WHAT you are thinking about doing or saying!

Politicians and government officials, place your order now! I understand these things are gonna sell like hotcakes!

I slept in, getting up in the early afternoon on Sunday. Turns out the Seattle Mariners' game (against Detroit) was already in progress. I listened for a little bit on the radio, then got up & dressed, and switched the TV on and proceeded to watch the game. The M's were behind 1-0 midway thru the game. The starting pitcher left, in came M's relief pitcher Clint Nageotte, the Tigers hit a 3 run homer off him, and the M's fell further behind. Realizing I'd seen all I need to see, I switched off the tube and went out for fresh air. It's gonna be a long, Long, LONG season.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

This post is about the group... such, there was no way I could keep it short. Sorry 'bout that!

CHICAGO I, ("Old days")
...The best guitarist that no one remembers anymore...

You've heard of Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple), Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Ted Nugent, but does anybody out there remember TERRY KATH? Who, you say? I'm talking about the late Terry Kath, lead guitarist for the group Chicago. He accidentally shot himself while cleaning one of his guns on January 23, 1978. (He was a firearms aficianado, evidently.) When the band Chicago started out, they were actually called the "Chicago Transit Authority" (they were forced to change the name; the REAL "Chicago Transit Authority" of the City of Chicago threatened 'em with legal action. Hence, "Chicago".) Back in those early days, I've read that none other than Jimi Hendrix saw Chicago with Terry Kath in the lineup, and Hendrix was blown away by Terry Kath's guitar work. So much in fact, that Hendrix actually TOURED with Chicago in those early days, which is written about in a song called "Scrapbook" on Chicago X (the "Chocolate Bar" album).

This is the late great Terry Kath. It's his voice you hear on such Chicago classics as "Make Me Smile", "Colour My World", on the verses of "Wishing You Were Here", "In The Country", (an album track from "Chicago II"), and he can be heard alternating verses with Peter Cetera in the song "Dialogue" (On "Chicago V"). To me, the guitar solo on the album version of "25 Or 6 to 4" is one of the most amazing guitar leads I've ever heard by ANYONE. Kath played with precision, yet he played in a coarse, husky, driving manner that really added a much-needed rough element to counterbalance the precision of the rest of the group. And, he could play jazz, too. Check out "Aire" on "Chicago VII". It is just a shame his life ended so soon, and he's basically been long-forgotten. I was working the late shift in a radio station when the teletype went "ding-ding-ding", indicating an "urgent" story, and that's how I heard about Terry's demise. I remember slamming my fist into the desk over and over, shouting, "no, No, NO!!!"

I saw Chicago TWICE, in 1971 and 1972, when they played at the Spokane Coliseum, and I was immediately struck by how HARD Terry Kath was working all during the group's performance. Even though Chicago was a horn band, underneath it all, Kath was furiously bashing away at his guitar, with a churning funky rhythm that really drove the band. Maybe one of the reasons he's so underrated is that he couldn't "step out" as much to solo, as could, say, Eric Clapton with Cream. Chicago had a LOT of stuff going on, but occasionally, space would be provided for Terry to rip away with a blazing solo, and he was amazing. I have a couple of bootleg DVD's of Chicago in Concert in 1972 (at the Budokan Hall in Tokyo), and yep, it's just like I remember 'em. Terry Kath was such an important part of Chicago. And those were Chicago's best days. To quote a song title from "Chicago VIII", the best days were indeed the "Old Days".

CHICAGO II: "Look Away"!
...which is pretty-much what their later music has caused me to do!

Chicago has long been one of my favorite groups, but something just DIED when Terry Kath's life ended. Chicago's music, while still good for a while after Kath's death, was just never the same; the soul, the funkiness, the hard edge was just MISSING. And then, with stupid love ballads like "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" and "You're The Inspiration", things just kinda went downhill. Chicago slid further downhill with the hits "Hard Habit To Break and "Will You Still Love Me", in that they were recording sappy ballad material by outside songwriters, and while those songs were hits, they rank among the absolute WORST pop material I've ever heard. Especially "Hard Habit To Break"; in my mind, that song is pure listless GARBAGE. The song is an unequivocal MESS. Chicago's penchant for syrupy pop actually began way back in 1976, with "If You Leave Me Now" (not a bad song), and really STUPID pop songs like "Baby What A Big Surprise", and "No Tell Lover", which is one of the most AWFUL, INSIPID songs I've ever heard. It's a song about having an affair...hell, why not just call it "MOTEL Lover"? It'd be funnier that way!

I didn't know this for a long time, but Chicago's late 80's song, "Look Away" was a #1 hit; I actually kinda liked that one; same with "What Kind of Man Would I Be"; another nice tune. I don't hate ballads, I just hate CRAPPY ballads. But the thing that's spun out of control with Chicago is the same thing that happens whenever there's an influx of new blood into any organization; the "new version" is so different from the "old" version, it just ain't the same thing. If there were "truth in advertising" principles applied to this band, they should call themselves "Chicago Lite" perhaps. Robert Lamm, the keyboard player (he's a really cool guy, and still a GREAT singer) and the three horn players are the only original members of Chicago left. Peter Cetera, an original founding member, left the band in 1983, and has sung nothing but CRAP ever since. Of the "replacement" Chicago members, bassist Jason Scheff (who took Cetera's place) doesn't enunciate clearly, and sings in an overblown breathy style; I can't bear to watch him...Bill Champlin, keyboardist, led his own band, the Sons of Champlin, back in the 70s. I saw an A&E Chicago concert, and he sounds absolutely TERRIBLE; he tries to sing in a soul-brother way that DOESN'T work! Keith Howland, the guitarist, sings well and plays good guitar, as a matter of fact, he sings the high notes better than Jason Scheff does. Scheff should keep his yap shut and just play bass! And the drummer, Tris Imboden, plays okay, if VERY unimaginatively.

See, Chicago's music took imagination to play. Very polished, intricate, groove-oriented. Trouble was, as Chicago's career progressed into the 80's, they were relying on digital keyboard sequencers and electronic percussion, which I've read was much too stifling for Chicago's original drummer, Danny Seraphine. So what did the group do after Seraphine had been with them for only 25 YEARS? They FIRED him!!! Chicago...the band that eats its young! So now you hear the "old" Chicago music done by the "new" lineup, and the drummer just kinda goes "thumpa-thumpa-thump". Is it me? Do I not want to accept new things? I don't know, but these days, to THESE ears anyway, Chicago just kinda goes thru the motions, playing for an ever-aging audience who "kinda" remembers them, and for new generations of music listeners who've grown up on just awful, crummy music, who weren't around when Chicago was a GREAT band. Recently, Chicago put out "XXX"; it was their first album in ages; it consists of more love ballads and half-baked originals; it's okay, but I'm nowhere near as excited about that album as I was when I first heard "Chicago II" or "Chicago V" way back when I was a kid.

Ironic, then, that back in 1993, this same new Chicago lineup (well, with a different guitarist that they ALSO fired), released an album called "Stone of Sisyphus", which was REJECTED by their record company. I've heard a bootleg CD of it; I taped it, and even though the disc features the same AWFUL singers I referred to in the paragraph above, it is a great album, because it is enthusiastic and punchy and contains only a couple of ballads. "Sisyphus" is highly original, and it "lives and breathes" the way the old Chicago albums I grew up on did (and still DO). If you ever get a chance to hear "Stone of Sisyphus", DO SO; it is full of great music throughout. It's a much better album than the recently-pressed "Chicago XXX" CD is. So why did I buy "XXX"? I may not really dig what Chicago's done since Peter Cetera left in the '80s, but I wanted to see what the band was doing. Like I said, "XXX" ain't bad, it's just kinda "there". In closing, I want to comment on the audience which was present for Chicago's 2004 A&E concert, which I have on DVD...does it NOT matter to them that the band consists of largely NEW personnel who don't sing or play as well as the original personnel? It sure would matter to ME! And another thing...even though this concert was televised in 2004...only TWO of the songs were originally recorded before Peter Cetera left in 1983. In short, if you read between the lines, Chicago's song selection that night was pretty much an (unconscious or otherwise) indictment of all the junky, klunky schlock they're recorded, almost without exception, over the last couple of decades.

If there is one lackluster later-period "Chicago" album to avoid at ALL COSTS, it would have to be "18". It features klunky electronic percussion in which the drums sound like overamplified dinner plates when you hit 'em, and contains a really awful RE-recording of "25 or 6 to 4", and it is amazing how much they SCREWED UP that tune, which had sounded so GREAT in its original incarnation. The entirety of "18" is too overproduced, too "in your face", too "mechanical"; it is an album that I have to ENDURE when I play it (which ain't a LOT, by the way). It has yet ANOTHER purely AWFUL ballad, "If She Would Have Been Faithful" which almost TIES "Hard Habit To Break" as the WORST song in the world. Even the best tracks on this album are rendered virtually unlistenable by the big-over-amplified '80s production. A purely awful album. And I never thot I'd say that about a Chicago album. One last Chicago note: I always thought "You're The Inspiration" would make a great "Arrid Extra-Dry" jingle: "You're the ROLL-ON in my life, you fight PERSPIRATION"! How 'bout it, Madison Avenue?

This next section has to do with collecting BEATLES records! I know this post has gone on waaay too long already, but I don't give a damn. Anyway, there are certain Beatles records out there that are hard to find! That's because certain "issues" of Beatles records were short-lived, and as such, they're hard to track down. They consist of the same Beatles' songs we've all come to know and love (well, except for Revolution 9, I guess), but the difference is, the PACKAGE those songs were issued on. For example: You've seen the '62-'66 and '67-'70 collections out there; they're not worth all that much in terms of collectability because millions of copies of it were issued. But, those two albums were issued, in part, because the following UNAUTHORIZED Beatles Collection was issued:

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present "The Beatles Alpha and Omega Vol. 2"...this is a 4-record set featuring all kinds of Beatles material, group performances as well as, strangely, cuts from some of John, Paul, George and Ringo's SOLO, post-Beatles albums. A set like this in mint condition can go for upwards of $300.00! And, yes, there is a "Vol. 1", also. I FOUND "Vol. 1" the other day at a second-hand store; they charged me $6.00 for the 4-record set. I had no idea of its worth. So I "Googled" it, and was I ever surprised at the collectors' value! The "box" of my set is in rough condition, but the records are virtually scratchless. I priced copies of this record in similar condition, and the copy I have is worth anywhere from $60 to perhaps $120. Not a bad return on a six-dollar purchase! That's the cool thing about record Forrest Gump said, it's "like a box of Chocolates; ya never know what you'll get!" This record set was advertised on TV and Radio, and the ads were PULLED after only ONE DAY. So there aren't a lot of copies of this out there. Lawsuits were filed against the TV network and the manufacturer of this record, for it didn't have the RIGHTS to issue this compilation!

I will freely admit I should keep my OWN yap shut when it comes to most topics. But, I've read every book on pop music I can get my hands on, and have gotten RID of more records than the average listener buys in his lifetime. A record collector friend of mine said "it's an addiction; it's a disease". Yep, I kinda agree.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Gas Pump Sticker Shock???
...soon, it'll be the latest American neurotic phenomenon!

I was listening to a news correspondent today, and she was explaining some of the reasons gas prices are zooming ever-upward into the stratosphere; of course, there were the standard reasons such as, "it's peak season, everyone's traveling more"; "hurricane Katrina made our oil reserves less accessible", and even though SHAMELESS CORPORATE GREED was NOT one of the reasons for escalating gas prices, I heard a NEW reason for having to take out down payments for a tank of gas...I can see it now, people going to "auto-title-loans" places, mortgaging their cars so they can buy GAS to get around! Anyway, more "ethanol" gas is being produced than before, and it is a time-consuming (and material-consuming) process. Something about more raw materials, in larger quantities, needed in order to produce today's energy-efficient, cleaner-burning fuels. (I sound like I work for EXXON, don't I?)

Anyway, I bought gas last week for $2.49. This week, I saw a local TRUCK STOP's gas prices (aren't they supposed to be the lowest-priced fuel vendors?), and their marquee' read $2.60-something a gallon. I heard one station in the New Yawk area was selling it for upwards of four bucks a gallon. Ack! So what's gonna be my strategy next time I get gas? Will it come to the point where I consciously try NOT to look at the per-gallon price as I approach the pump? Will I have to blindfold myself so I can't see the dollars-and-cents racing by at ever-faster speeds as the fuel courses its way from pump to gas tank? Will I leave the gas station missing an arm and a leg (or both)?

We have a new city bus line that provides FREE transportation around town, and who knows, I may be their next newest rider. People nationwide will leave for vacations, and if prices keep rising like they have been, when they get to their destination, they'll just have to turn around and come back home because they spent so much money for gas, they'll have none left over for lodging or meals. Proudly marching backwards, this is America. Yaay. Whoopee. Back to horse n'buggies before ya's know it. Cartoons such as the following little masterpiece are indicative of these weird times in which we live in...(Hey, if Paul McCartney can write like that, so can I...)

I have read that there is going to be a design modification for all new cars coming out of Detroit (if indeed Detroit is making cars at ALL this time next year). It has to do with the speedometer design. In its desire to try and conserve more and more fuel, so we can fill up bomber, helicopter and tank "tanks" with gas, a cost-effective-ratio-implemented speedometer will be installed on all cars to be made in the future (assuming we have any kind of future), and it will look something like this:


Still trying to figure out my Paul McCartney comment? In the song "Live and Let Die", one of the lyric lines is, "in this ever-changing world in which we live IN." In closing, one of my erstwhile faithful commenters provided me with the above gas'toons. I've got more of em. I'll save 'em for another night in which I have no original thots I can call my own. Like tonite...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Things are getting INTERESTING now...
I don't care about politics; I wanna know, who's in TROUBLE?

Rumors are going around the circuit that this is a time of "transition" for the current administration. So far, a White House Chief of Staff, and the Press Secretary, have both announced that they're going to leave the shrouded secrecy surrounding Prezzident Bush.

So, it's fun to speculate, "Who's Next"? The rumors are swirling. Actually, Prezzident Bush is made for times like these, because the ever-present non-expression he always wears conceals (almost) the fact that those around him are about as secure in their jobs as Barry Bonds' steroid supplier.

In the Nixon administration, the famous question during Watergate was, "what did he know, and when did he know it?" In the current Bush administration is, "does he know anything, and if not, when will he become aware?" With that in mind, I present the following photo-satire:

A blogger at posted this photo, although how it got defaced is a mystery to me. I plead ignorance.

I thought I had a controversial, muck-raking SCANDAL on my hands!
At first I couldn't believe my eyes. I was SHOCKED!

Hoo-boy, I thot I'd uncovered something here. Well, so did Dan Rather of the CBS Evening News before he fell from grace. So did The Coeur d'Alene Press when their front page headline screamed out that the recent School Bond levy passed, only to get it WRONG; it didn't pass, which was what the competing paper, the Spokesman-Review, printed in ITS headline. So, I've set no precedent for being wrong here; we've all slid down that slippery slope at times. Here is my tale of ruin, despair, and agony on me...

This concerns two comic strips: "Pearls Before Swine" and "Get Fuzzy". The CDA Press runs both strips; The Spokesman-Review only runs "Fuzzy". Today's "Pearls Before Swine" strip featured a cow and a mouse in a restaurant booth, with an obnoxious guy in the booth next to them, yakking on a cellphone. The Mouse gets annoyed, and beats the cellphone guy into submission. Something I'd like to do. Today's "Fuzzy" features the SAME dialogue, the SAME situation and the SAME Cellphone guy. Only, the Dog and Evil Cat of "Get Fuzzy" are pasted OVER the "Mouse and Cow" characters of "Pearls before Swine". And, I thought, "whoa, a case of comic-strip PLAGIARISM!!!"

I thought I was uncovering some really big scandal here. Plagiarism! Surreptitiousness! Unlawful duplication! Covert comic operations! Subversion of the entire entertainment-page!
In all fairness, Monday's "Get Fuzzy" comic strip showed the main character being "late" with his comics, so he was going to use some "unpublished" "Pearls Before Swine" comic elements; his idea being pasting in the "Fuzzy" characters, mailing 'em in, and that was the gist of the comic strip. So, in other words, this all was planned, signed, sealed and delivered. NOT plagiarism. An alert commenter (see 'comments' section) took me to task, tied me to the whipping post and lashed me into submission. Okaaaay...remember the old Saturday Night Live show, when Gilda Radner's character would start ranting and raving about something, only to find out she'd gotten the story wrong? That's happened to me. And like her, I'll just say, "NEVERRRR MIND!!!" You can see the original Monday "Fuzzy" strip at this address,

I do have TWO observations: 1. Today's "Get Fuzzy" strip is the best one I've seen in WEEKS; the one with someone ELSE'S idea. So his "comic plagiarism" thing may not have done him any good at all! In my defense, yes, I saw that Monday "Get Fuzzy" comic strip. Today is Friday. So I didn't even THINK about what I'd seen Monday, and I honestly don't know if elements of "Pearls" were used in "Fuzzy" every day this week. I suppose if I'd been a "Fuzzy" fan, I woulda paid more attention. But "Fuzzy" is truly a pathetic cartoon. So I generally ignore it. "NEVERRRRR MIND!!!!!" I suppose that I could draw some kind of parallel between how I got the story wrong, and how Geraldo Rivera or Bill O'Reilly gather their news...and, 2, I didn't go blaming everyone else for the factual error I committed, UNLIKE a certain editor at a certain local area newspaper. Can we move on now?

Something nice in this old cold world dept.: The CBS Evening News, every Friday, does a story selected by the viewers. Today's story was about a lady who graduated from the High School in Lakeland, Florida. She then became a teacher there. She's taught there for generations. She is now 90 years old and is STILL teaching. She's a real sweetheart with a great sense of humor, and the students love her. She's been teaching there for at least 60 years. She's being forced to retire this year, tho; her hearing is starting to go. So, she's gonna travel. People like her are absolute GEMS in todays' society. My heart was warmed, as I saw that story. How nice. How very nice.

Talk about an obvious conclusion dept.: The headline said, "distractions greatest cause of car crashes." It's no wonder you don't need a doctorate or PH.D. to work for a newspaper. (I used to work at one myself; that's PROOF!) Well, Yeah, Sure! Distractions, yeah. The article said that women are more subject to distraction, what with brushing hair, putting on makeup, changing their hair color, removing the curlers, or whatever they do. Guys, on the other hand, are more subject to speeding, which leads to more traffic mishaps for them. It's amazing, though, how things sorta "dovetail"; elsewhere in the paper was an article about two guys driving along, and they were "checking out" a female jogger, and CRASH!!! They ran a stop sign and hit a car. Which proves that females have the best of both worlds: They get distracted more, and they ARE distractions. I suppose the guy will say in court, "I can't help it that she was wearing skimpy jogging shorts", and try to beat the rap that way. A great case for "Judge Judy"!

Could there ever BE such a thing dept.: The Spokesman-Review was taken to task today, as someone wrote a letter to the editor that whined about the "bad" photo of Vice President Cheney (the mighty hunter) that it printed during the Veep's recent Spokane visit. The letter's writer asked why the paper couldn't use a GOOD photo of Cheney. Excuse me, but have you SEEN Cheney? I rest my case. You CAN'T take a good photo of the guy. Paparazzi who take pictures of Cheney have to first take out insurance on their cameras. Cheney's image has been known to fracture lenses. When Cheney was born, the doctors slapped his MOM! You get the idea.

I guess I'll be happy with my little slice of land dept.: I don't like the fact CDA is changing. Every time a new hole is dug, every time a building comes down, I feel like "things are getting away from me". Today, going down Sherman Avenue, as I've done only every day this week, I noticed (at last) the "Pre-Press Color" building between 5th and 6th Streets on Sherman is gone, and there's a big hole in the ground in it's place, where a CONDO is going. Okay, well, whatever. Soon after, while reading the paper, I saw where land is being grabbed for a PARKING GARAGE in downtown CDA. Makes me wonder...say I go away for 5 years and come back...will I even RECOGNIZE Coeur d'Alene?

We want a closer, not a pitching poser dept.: I made that up. And it shows. Anyway, Seattle Mariners closer Eddie Guardado WALKED 4 BATTERS, ALLOWING THE WINNING RUN to score last night! Isn't the general idea in using a closer, to GET THE OTHER TEAM OUT??? WithOUT any more runs scoring? It's not that often we get a good performance out of starting pitcher Joel Piniero, after all, and he only allowed 1 run thru 6 innings. He "gave Seattle a chance to win". My strategy for Seattle? The M's should go out and find a good WOMEN'S SOFTBALL PITCHER to close. She'd shut 'em down!

Patting myself on the back dept.: (Hope I don't break my arm in the process!) I've been MOANING and WHINING all week about how "blah" I've felt, how "listless" my brain is, just whining, whining, whining. So today I slapped myself in the face, actually READ thru the paper, JOTTED down notes, and so today I feel you got a pretty good post! matter HOW bad my blog would be, I will NOT copy what someone else has written in their blog, and post it here on "THIN AIR". Which is what happened in "Comic-Gate", which I described above. And to close this masterpiece (judgment IS subjective, after all), a nice lil' visual for ya's...

Back a long time ago, CDA's City Park was called "Blackwell Park". I don't know where all of these little pathways in this old "enhanced photo" were located, but long ago, the Park looked like a great place to visit, and remains so to this day. I was down there, playing guitar today. I was forced to stop early due to the windy, wet weather which was starting to present itself. Which leads me to compose an original joke: "How do the Seattle Mariners know they're not going to lose that day's game? When they're RAINED OUT!!!"

Obviously, I've had a little too much coffee today. Looking back over what I've written here, the first half of my "manic-depressive" side has obviously risen to the fore.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wandering in the Wilderness...
...where the air is not only thin, it's pretty dry, too.

I'm having trouble concentrating on very much of anything these days. Chalk it up to the change of season, I suppose. And, so all of a sudden, spring is here like it never left. The old cold winter, which dragged on and on like it always does, is now a figment of my recent past, never to return. I wasn't going to write anything at all tonight, but if I can just make myself type long enough, I'm sure a tangible idea (if indeed an "idea" can be "tangible") will present itself.

More little houses on the Prairie dept.: I guess I can dig back into my memories of yesterday; I'm actually being forced to since I didn't accomplish much of anything today. When I went out to the Flying "J" truck stop, I noticed all of a sudden, that a whole lotta new homes are being built out there, between the RV park and the Idahline Apartments, which have been there for a few years. I pity people who live in localities like that. That flat treeless land swelters in the summer, and winter winds whip viciously thru there. Some things I just don't understand, I guess.

Something's developing dept.: It's the hallmark of rampant subdivision. First, they bulldoze the land where the streets are gonna go. Then they pave the streets. Then come the sidewalks and curbs, and I suppose city sewer hookup is in place long before that. Empty streets just waiting for the inevitable springing up of yet more houses. I'm referring to that area on Atlas Road, just north of I-90; it's gonna be a hillside neighborhood, and I suppose it won't be any better or worse than all of the other new neighborhoods around here. I find, though, it's an assault on the senses. After all, I didn't grow up in mass surburbia. All this takes gettin' used to; it's a bit much.

Burn, baby, burn dept.: I posted recently that I am almost impossible to teach. But, I always loved being around sound equipment. In radio stations I worked in, I reveled in my surroundings; tape decks, microphones, monitoring equipment, broadcast automation machinery, and in the latter days, recording things onto a computer hard-drive for broadcast. Me and all of those little electronic "slaves". Anyway, I recently had a CD burner installed into my computer. And, last night, I learned how to operate it, never having burned a CD before. A rare case of getting "burned" and digging on it. I made no mistakes! I usually have a hard time with new things, but once again, I was working with sound equipment and everything made perfect sense. Now all I have to do is find a way to put RECORD albums onto CD.

We are the world...we are the bloggers dept.: See? I knew a few ideas would present themselves. I've long thot that if computers were used in a positive way, they could truly unite the world. (I sound like I'm applying for work at the United Nations, don't I?) Anyway, one blogger who stops by and reads my nonsense is a guy who calls himself "Scan"; he's from England, and always leaves interesting comments. He's one of these mohican-haircutted, lip-ring-type "up and comers" who's experienced his share of workplace ups and downs. Another blogger, "Sage", is a fellow gout/arthritis sufferer, and I'm glad he made contact; it's nice to know there are 'others' out there who suffer in that manner. Perhaps I can learn something from him; he wrote of having an all-over simultaneous severe full-body gout attack once...ack ack ack...I've had pain, but nothing close to that. And now, we both consume allopurinol (the gout-maintenance drug) for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-between snacks. We pop 'em like Screaming Yellow Zonkers. (Okay, I exaggerate!) Anyway, it's always a gas to hear from people as diverse as the two I mentioned here. I KNOW from my little "indicator" thing that I get a lotta views (over 8,000 since October!), so if you stop by, feel free to comment. Unless you have extra Spam you wanna drop off at my front door. Actually, I kinda like spam. As long as I don't know what all goes into it. Don't tell me about pork lips or intestines...I just don't wanna know!

Another visual and then I'm gone, long gone dept.: I published an old picture of the Kootenai County Courthouse recently. So, since I have absolutely nothing original to offer today, I thought I'd publish another picture of the same Courthouse. Only, this is a color rendering of a 1940's-era picture...

Note that in the foreground, is some sort of driveway where you could motor right up to the front entrance. Also, notice the lack of trees, as opposed to nowadays with the courthouse being surrounded by all kinds of luxurious shade trees. It's a grand old building, really it is, unless you have to do jury duty there, or if you're on trial there. Then, you'll wish you were somewhere else. I've been called for jury duty, but have always been passed over. Which is cool; I'm not sure I'd want someone like me, JUDGING me, if I were in trouble!

Okay, all right, I'm done, and not a moment too soon. I'm having a tremendous craving for something with Milk Chocolate. mmmmm...Will it be an "Idaho Spud" bar...will it be "Mello-Mints"...or some good ol' fashioned Hershey's? I'm losing my mind here...

"Come on over, baby...

During any kind of natural disaster, the animals start runnin' for cover...they have a built-in sixth sense, a sort of internal warning system that tells them to SCATTER, to just GIT OUTTA there. They flee the approaching storm, well before it assumes hurricane, monsoon or tsunami proportions.

Now, with politicians, it becomes a little more complicated. For instance, Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan tendered his resignation yesterday. He may have thot, "well, it's gettin' a bit hot in here". Or, perhaps Prezzidential Advisors told Bush, "Everyone thinks McClellan is a squirming weasel; you'd better get rid of him". Who knows?

I've been watching McClellan's recent briefings; he's had to do a tough job for an administration that obviously hasn't given him much to work with. How do you put a positive spin on the Vice President shooting a hunting buddy? Or a dimwit Prezzident who continues to say we're fighting for freedom when all we're doing is protecting our oil interests? Everyone knows it, c'mon!

So, even though McClellan has been a master at verbal obfuscation, leaving absolutely no clear details of anything in his wake, in a way, I do kinda salute him. A true political garbageman...

Personally, I'm so sick of this administration I could just HURL. Hoooo-ahhhhhh!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My brain seems to be somewhere else.
I've been looking for it all day!

I like to go out, read the paper, take note of what I've read, and then comment on that stuff in my blogs. But these days, I can't seem to apply myself to much more than the comics page. As long as I don't read the stupid "Get Fuzzy" strip, I'm okay. Well, that and the deplorable "Mallard Fillmore", which has NEVER been funny. DUCK!

We want a pitcher, any kind of pitcher dept.: Felix Hernandez was supposed to be the next big thing, the "phenom" we've all been waiting for, with that over-100mph fastball, and he did pretty well, the last part of last season. Last night, he relied mainly on off-speed pitches, and got hit all over the place, and he looked flat-out UNINSPIRED. I suppose the mellow-cool-vibe of Seattle has a drugging effect on the Mariners. It has an effect on me, too. I like to watch their games, but I really don't care if they lose anymore. Right now, I'm watching Jamie Moyer's blazing 57mph fastball. Yawn. Tonite, the M's are tied for the lead. So far.

I'm getting really good at spending money dept.: It's quite a talent. I drop $700here, $490 there. Today I got rid of another $600. So I paid in full for my first steroid shot. Only two more steroid shots to go. Plus arthritis doctor appointments, plus another visit to my primary care physician. I'm on a one-man crusade to make sure that area Doctors can afford new golf clubs and the latest in camera equipment, obviously. And I'm doing my part. I buy second-hand clothes so I can make sure as much money as possible can be used for paying my bills. Yes, I am a true American. A patroit, really.

What is it with gas prices dept.: At Flying J Truck Stop, where gas is usually lower than anywhere else, gas was up around $2.60 today. I think we'd better take Prezzident Bush's advice and start burning CORN. Corn is the solution to our gas prices, he says. He actually said that. Something about corn being used in lead-free gas or whatever. Bush's remarks about corn give ME gas. But, back to the topic: At two stations across the street from each other on East Sherman in CDA this week, there was a 20-cent DIFFERENCE in gas prices. Well, I guess someone's making money. And, someone's making MORE money.

This picture may not be worth a thousand words dept.: I went down to the park today; it always feels good to go down there. I feel a sort of "relaxation" I just don't seem to find anywhere else. Perhaps the City Park is one big "spirit world", I don't know. Or, maybe it's just the relative spaciousness of Coeur d'Alene lake. Well, the upcoming old photo shows a cabin on the lake, with a boat docked out in front. The unique thing about this photo, taken about 1910, is that our area featured 'mystery guitarists' even way back then. Times never really change.

Obviously that guy is a-pickin' and a-grinnin. Hee Haw!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Possibly my THINNEST posting ever?
I have not prepared for this post in any way. And it shows!

It's a gas...or not dept.: I just saw a report on the TeeVee news that you can now buy "gas pills" for your car. That's nothing new. I can buy "gas pills" for me. They're called "Beano"!!! Anyway, you can buy gas pills and pop 'em in your car, and they're supposed to give ya 4% greater mileage. But there's a catch, there's always a catch. For the pills to do your roadster any good, you have to travel at 65mph or over. And city cops generally frown on you going that fast. Wonder what happens if you put Beano in the tank?

Chipping away at the madness dept.: Doggone, I wish I could still run, but right now, I'm content just to walk relatively pain-free. But in this year's Bloomsday run, all participants are gonna wear a computer chip that signifies WHEN you get to the start line, and when you finish. So, no more of those "add 10 minutes to your time" when you read the race results. I think that's really cool. Right now, if I began the Bloomsday run, I'd have to take it in shifts. A half-mile or so every day until I finished. At that rate, it would take me TWO WEEKS to finish. I think they shut off the race clocks before then, however.

Another reason its gonna be a long season dept.: "Everyday" Eddie Guardado, the "closer" for the Mariners has saved a heck of a lot of games. But he is hittable, very hittable. He doesn't have what I consider "closer stuff"; he's more of a "location" pitcher, and if he tosses it in the wrong place, BAM, POW, BOOM! He gets hit like Charlie Brown. Yesterday, he gave up a "walk-off" home run. Our closer. Eddie has made things interesting last season and so far this season. Right now I see the M's relief-pitching as the weakest link in the chain. No matter how well the starter does, if the closer doesn't git it done, it won't get done. Maybe Mr. Guardado's status should be "every third-day Eddie"?

Two guitars are better than one, in theory anyway dept.: Partly cloudy today, and that's maddening. You're warm for a little while until the sun goes behind a cloud. Then yer cold again. Acoustic guitars are temperature-sensitive and the changes in warmth are always causing strings to go out of tune. I needed some fresh air, went to the park, and a friend of mine was already there playing. So I played along; he was singing and strumming rhythm which gave me a chance to lay little "flavorings" on top, and that was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. The advantage to your guitar going out of tune? You can hit the wrong notes and they sound RIGHT. Well, sort of.

So what's happening "back" there dept.: If you're masochistic enough to be following my medical stuff, which I've posted here, well, an update of sorts: I got a steroid shot in my lower back last Thursday. At the time they told me it would take about a week for the steroids to have maximum effect. They're supposed to reduce swelling somehow. And it appears to be working; I felt like I was moving more smoothly today. I had discs & nerves that were being pinched by vertebrae, but no tears or ruptures. Well, a rupture in my FINANCES maybe, paying all those doctor bills, but I'm feeling pretty good right now.

Maybe I was being really stupid dept.: Two or three years ago, my primary care doctor advised I take Allopurinol, which gout patients need to take every day. Not being very disciplined, I didn't. I've been in all kinds of pain since then, and it has really interfered with my life. Well, finally, I started taking the stuff; I've taken it daily for 2 months now, and I have virtually NO gout wrist, finger, hand or elbow pain. Pain free, mostly! It's the kind of drug someone with gout has to take like a diabetic takes insulin. That's okay with me. I'll pop pills for a better quality of life any day.

Before this post becomes too self-absorbed dept.: You, faithful reader, have endured another "me-me-me" post, in which the whole world revolves around me, Me, ME, because it's all about me, after all. So I need to come down off my high horse and throw some objectivity in here. Okay, I can do that. Here, for you is an interesting little visual element...the Steamer "Idaho", cruising Coeur d'Alene Lake, long about 1907, some 98 years ago...

Here, we're looking south across the lake; in the foreground, this old Steamer, which probably nowadays resides on the lake bottom somewhere. I've often wondered, if it was possible to completely drain the lake for a day, what you'd find. Old cars, old coins, sunken boats, snowmobiles, and who knows what else. Stuff that "antiques roadshow" would love to get hold of, for sure.

Finally, before leaving, a bumper sticker that kinda turned my head, on a car obviously owned by a lady: "That's MS. Bitch to you!!!" could say I walked a wide circle around that auto.

McCain: Let's hope it doesn't come to this...
Being all things to all people is noble, but is it possible?

Look, I don't know squat about politics, and I don't much care what's gonna happen. Well, actually I do care, but if one waxes existential ("whatever will be, will be"), then we just kinda float in the river and the water takes us to our destination; this just seems to be the ultimately unpredictable course that life seems to run.

I don't have much political background; most of the political stuff I hear is on "Imus In The Morning". But, Don Imus has said that John McCain "has the possibility to be a really great President", and I agree. McCain is the real deal, and the only reason I WOULDN'T vote for him is because he's a Republican.

Just from the "drift" I get from the various talking heads, it seems that McCain is softening his approach; exercising all kinds of caution concerning any potential withdrawal from the Iraqi War, this from a man who was a tortured prisoner of war for such a long time in Vietnam. You'd think he'd wanna pull our troops home ASAP, so go figure.

Is he trying to appeal to Republicans by exercising caution in troop withdrawal? Is he trying to appeal to Democrats by advocating that our troops will one day be brought home from the war? Is he wanting to associate too closely with Prezzident Bush in order to stay "true to the Republican Cause", or is he trying to stay just far enough from Bush to prove he (McCain) isn't some sort of ideological clone?

I LIKE McCain. If anyone's the real deal, politically, he is. I'm not saying he's one thing or the other, but I wonder. It's a political point I have admittedly pondered, as you can see below:

Oh well, we don't have to make any rash decisions on this until 2008. So there's adequate time for everyone to flip and flop around and jockey for position. Oughta be interesting.