Friday, June 27, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?
I kinda feel my stomach rumbling here...

As far apart as they were previously, well, they're now sharing the same stage. And I'm getting a strange sensation similar to when I went out on an Ocean Fishing Charter many years ago. Even before the ship left the harbor, my stomach began rumbling...and sure enough, the waves were soon tossing the boat around like a cork in a maelstrom...and I developed a full-blown case of seasickness. It happened on a family vacation, and I'm sure I disgusted Dad 'cos I couldn't Stand Up and Take It Like A Man. Oh well...So much for Family Unity, I guess.

Speaking of Unity, well, that's the burg in New Hampshire where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared side-by-side today. Weren't they opponents in the Political Wrestling Ring not so long ago? Things appear different now...she's saying Obama Must Be Elected Prezzident, he's saying Hillary is rough and tough. They're Actually Endorsing Each Other. To me, Hillary is not unlike Lucy, who always pulled the football away from Charlie Brown, who would land flat on his back with a resounding thud.

In my mind, Hillary has an instant disadvantage, in that I Can't Stand To Listen To Her. Gosh, if I were Bill Clinton, I'd run the other way and Keep Going. Yipe! Yipe! Yipe! Let's see...She appears With Obama, while at the same time, Bill Clinton is reportedly Hopping Mad at Obama. Yep, a lot of "unity" in that marriage, huh? Bill's just mad that, because Obama won the majority of delegates, that he (Bill) will never be the first person ever to serve in the role of "First Gentleman" (As opposed to "First Lady").

So, here's what they were Really Thinking when this foto was taken:

Hillary: "Well, I might as well enjoy this; it's as close as I'll get for a while".

Obama: "I've heard of the ol' 'ball-and-chain', but this is ridiculous."

After all of the Implied idealism and Change that Mr. Obama has been promising everyone over the last few contentious months, something is Just Wrong with both of them together on stage. Can you say "political necessity"? Hillary needs to stay in front of the public and Obama needs the Womens' Vote. So I guess it's just a new version of The Same Old Politix. "Tix" me OFF!


I MAY YET BUY A HORSE SOMEDAY: Gasoline is now at a National Average price of $4.08 a gallon. Where I'm at, it's at least 30 cents more per gallon. Pshaw. And earlier this week, SOMETHING ELSE went bad on my car...that dependable ol' "check engine" light came on again. This time it was a sensor which has something to do with something involving the Ignition of My Car's Engine. There went another $178 bucks. My THIRD car-repair in 2 WEEKS. Sheesh. So I've spent a lot on gas that takes me to the Car Repair Place, where I then get to Spend More Money. What a deal. While there may be a "Popular Mechanics" magazine, I sure can't think of any Mechanics who are Popular.

I TRY NOT TO BE A HERMIT AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENS: I've cut waaay down on Restaurant Usage since gas crossed the $4.00 threshold. But, today, well, I decided I needed to eat somewhere else besides Home. So for the second time in two weeks, to an eatery I went. 'Twas one o' my claustrophobic episodes; I became a soul in search of a change of scene. So I ordered soup & sandwich & a large glass of milk. Large? More like 'Medium-small'. And that glass of milk cost TWO DOLLARS AND TEN CENTS. Near as I could tell, that glass couldn't have held more than 12 ounces. At that price, I should pour the milk into my GAS TANK.

IF SHE'S GOOD LOOKING, THEN I MUST BE BLIND: I just saw a Nutra-System commercial featuring Jillian Barbieri, the tomboy-girl who works for Some Sports Network Somewhere. She's the one who catches the football in the TV ad. And I'm sorry, "tough chicks" have never, EVER impressed me. She's awfully leathery-looking...probably too much time in the Tanning Booth. Me, I'll take the Nutra-System ads featuring Marie Osmond in that Hot Red Dress. Ooh yeah...

I DIDN'T KNOW THIS: Just now, Keith Olbermann, the MSNBC Talking Head, has informed me that the Soil on the Planet Mars is rich enough in which to Grow Asparagus. And with that, suddenly Everything Makes Sense Somehow. For instance, if you go to your neighborhood grocer, and see Bunches of Asparagus being sold at $57 dollars a pound, well, you'll know which planet they were grown on.


Finally, proof that Life Is Still Worth Living: Tonight's sunset, in which El Sol, magnified by the earth's curvature, resembled a big iridescent Sunkist Orange as it sank slowly beneath the Ocean. Now THAT'S sweet.'s FREE.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present...
Miss JANE GREEN, singer...

You won't find a whole lot of songs out there by Jane Green. During her recording career, she made only 33 sides, and that doesn't count the number of songs which her record label rejected. Ah, the price of stardom...where songs you've put your heart into are left sealed away in record company vaults, never to be heard by the listening public.

Like others in show business, she fell on some hard times later in her life. She ended up losing a bunch of money in the Stock Market; she lost her first husband, whom she was exceptionally close to; her 2nd marriage was evidently quite stormy. And, she was severely injured in a car crash, after which her recording career slowed waaay, waaaay down, and she passed away a few years after that.

But for a brief shining moment, she had it all. She recorded for a big record company, she was a huge star, she sang with verve and enthusiasm, and when you listen to her records, her personality bubbles forth, and although she's been gone for a while, she sounds fresh and immediate. And even though I've posted about her before, I wanted, again, to introduce you to Jane Green...

Ain't that a great photo? You might recall that I mentioned she'd Departed From Us some time ago. In 1927, she was involved in a fairly serious car crash in which she suffered a broken nose (never a good thing for a singer), and the after-effects of the crash made her health ever more fragile; she passed away due to a paralytic stroke in 1931, at the tender age of 34.

I mentioned that she recorded for a big record label. She actually recorded for the old Perfect Records label to begin with; one of her label-mates there was Miss Lee Morse, who I really, really flipped out over. I discovered Miss Morse on YouTube, and that's also where I found out about Jane Green. She was signed to the Victor label in the late 1920's...back before the label became RCA Victor. And here's one of her Victor tucked away safely in my collection...

And, as I stated before, she was definitely an exuberant singer, and I have evidence of that coming up. I don't know anything about posting my own audio on the Internet, so I've stolen a song of hers from YouTube which comes complete with a cool little photo montage; it's another song I have in my own collection, "Honey Bunch", from 1926. Sounds like the 'roaring 20's' were really a fun time...

Finally, if you find yourself getting into this music from a Vintage Songbird, just about everything she recorded is on a CD, available from Superbatone Records, and an LP, pressed on Blue Vinyl, containing 13 of her songs can also be obtained there. Just put "Jane Green Superbatone" into your favorite search engine, and go from there.

One of my favorite things-to-do is to turn people on to music they might not have already heard. True, a person can't be expected to like everything (In my case, Opera and Rap), but there are Unknown Worlds of Music out there, waiting to be explored. Have fun exploring!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Compact Disc or...
Once upon a time, George Harrison, he of Beatle Fame, commented on the death of the 45 rpm record, by saying something along the lines of "we just bang and clang around too fast for our own good, and it's a shame to see the 45 disappear"...which is how I felt in the mid-80s when Compact Discs were introduced. I was one of the last people on Planet Earth to start buying CD's; I swore my allegiance to vinyl and Would Not Buy CD's. Well, what happened was, as CD's came more to the forefront, Limited Vinyl Editions of current albums became PROHIBITIVELY expensive...even Neil Young's latest vinyl issues are ridiculously expensive. C'mon, Neil, give yer Vinyl Fans a Break! So, at long last, when a new release came out by Neil, or The Beatles, or U2, a band I think are great, I went ahead and just bought the CD of their newest music.
Not that I've opted for CD's in a big way, 'cos I haven't, but looking at my meager CD collection, I'll bet I have 400 of them. I still have piles of vinyl threatening to overtake me every time I enter the living room. But I've got my share of Little Shiny Silver Discs too. I've bought a nifty little CD dubber that's hooked to a turntable; it has plug-in jacks, which means I can make CD's from vinyl, cassette, another CD player, or even an 8-track player (hard to find an 8-track player that works anymore, tho). And I probably still buy 2 or 3 CD's a month; mostly collections of music which are hard-to-find "if you buy all those songs separately", as those annoying Time-Life commercials tell you Over and Over and Over until you're ready to kick the TV and yell, "okay, OKAY!!! I'll buy yer damn CD's; just shut up so I can hear some of the music that you keep yakking over while you're trying to convince me to buy your damn CD's!!!"
I've also found music I've only heard about thru the years, or old albums I could never find on record, by artists like the Chocolate Watch Band, the Blues Magoos, the Gods, or any number of long-forgotten groups, the former members of which are now either not with us anymore, or are drawing Social Security while they remember the Good Old Days. Hmmm...sounds like me...ack. Admittedly, only about 25% of my CD's were purchased new. The rest I found in pawn shops or in bargain bins. And I do like the way CD's, especially the more archival ones, assemble music that has been long forgotten for Ages. But I'll admit one of the first things I noticed about CD's, waaay back when I played my first one: with a CD, you don't have to actually GET UP and turn the album OVER. How lazy is THAT?
- was with the Demise of the Vinyl Record as the prevalent music format long ago, I was put in my place again today, some 25-odd years after Vinyl Bit The Dust. For, I found out today that the initials "CD" also stand for "Commercial Dinosaur". There are some chains, such as K-Mart, which AREN'T SELLING THEM ANYMORE! And I live waay out in the sticks, over 50 miles from the nearest Interstate's not like Where I Live is waaaay ahead of the trends, after all. I went in to K-Mart, because they have some pretty good prices on Bird Food...and as I usually do, I sauntered back to the music section to see if there was anything new out by artists I'm interested in, or maybe the store got in some cool budget-priced compilation CD's...I found a "Best Of Miles Davis" there, last year...over an hour's worth of music for $ aesthetic as well as budgetary bargain. Fast-forwarding back to Now, I didn't see any CD's on display anywhere in K-Mart today, which caused me to wonder, "Huh? What? (something I wonder quite a lot) CD's? Can't Be!"
"Oh yes it can", I found out. I asked a lady stock clerk who was replenishing the DVD racks, "don't you sell CD's anymore?" "Nope", she said, telling me that "mp3's have replaced CD's", and as soon as she said that, I felt Instantly Old. Again. It's not like I've gotta have that idea reinforced ad nauseum before it sinks in; DAMMIT, I KNOW I'M OLD! But I remember back when CD's were the 'cat's pajamas'...I remember putting my first CD into the player, and the spotless, clear sound which eminated forth...and now, that format is DISAPPEARING...and in its place, music comes on a format which you cannot Hold and Appreciate on an individual basis. CD's shrunk down the LP-size artwork, but still, that was cool, because in the little CD booklets, oftentimes you can find out some really interesting information about the artist whose music you'd just purchased. I have a really cool Glenn Miller double-CD, for instance; it contains ALL the recordings he made during World War II (his very last recordings, previously unavailable) and some spiffy annotation as well. Neat-o, man!
So, it turns out that CD's, when they do finally die out altogether, will have been around for less than half the time Vinyl Records were made en masse. Every time I've gone into a music store, and have found an album (CD or LP) that I'd been eagerly anticipating, part of the thrill was actually having that music in my hands; something tangible. You can hold an mp3 player, but you can't take out each album that's crammed into the player and hold it! Long ago, I thot it was so cool to have a record in my collection that was Actually Being Played On The Radio. And mp3 aficionados are totally missing out on that part of music collecting, the exciting part...since everything is instantly available For Download. My heart still races when I find an old record I've looked ages for. On Ebay, I've just ordered a fairly rare promo copy of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" single...a history-making record. And when I watch it spin on my turntable, I'll see Just What The DJ saw. That's important to me.
Another thing about Mp3's: they enable selectivity of downloading; if you don't like a song (or two or three) on an album, just leave 'em off and download Just the songs You Want. Imagine if "Sgt. Pepper" had originally been available that way. No one would've downloaded "When I'm 64" or "She's Leaving Home", 2 of my least-favorites on that record, but still, within the context of that record fit perfectly. That's the trouble with context. Just gimme what I want, nothing more. And, some songs enrich, mature and grow increasingly relevant over time. A song you may not fancy right now, you may grow quite fond of later on; that's happened to me countless times. The thrill of "Re-Discovery". Another thing that's missed by mp3 users is the 'special edition' factor; records and CD's were/are still issued in limited-edition "single" and "promo" formats...the Edition Itself, like a rare coin, is to be Treasured. I'm afraid that in this non-tangible "virtual" age, that aspect of music collecting is also disappearing.

(Get It While You Can, I guess!)


Speaking of new CD's, an album Chicago recorded in 1993, but had been commercially unavailable until NOW, has Just Been Released. The title is "Stone Of Sisyphus", and the songs are among the best the group's ever recorded. I just placed my order for the commercial edition last night. I've had the Bootleg of that album for a couple of years now. Much to my chagrin, the 'just released' version LEFT OFF one of the best songs, "Get On This". WHY do record companies DO that?

Finally, I am noticing that a lot of the alternative bands I'm hearing these days sound really, really good. A radio station down here plays a lot of that stuff, but they Never Tell Me Who The Song Is By! I do think the rock scene is healthier today than it was 10 or 15 years ago, at least from what I've heard. So maybe I'm not all that much of a dinosaur after all?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's a New Name for the Same Old Politics...
The HOKEY-POKEY Principle...

Okay, this Political Funds stuff as applied to the Prezzidential candidates is starting to confuse me a bit, and Barack Obama is beginning to sound as 'slippery' as everybody else. Of course, Obama might say, "well, McCain started it!", and McCain might say, "did not!". But this has been going on for a while now. Like FOREVER. Candidates point fingers and spread half-truths just like everyone else, even those candidates who Aspire To The Highest Office In The Land. Even candidates who aspire to "change"...

Some time ago, Mr. Obama said that he would gladly submit to the U.S. Government's Federal-election-cost funding thing, and Mr. McCain expressed his approval of that because it put both candidates on a Level Playing Field. And then Obama said recently, that he was "opting out" of the Government's election-funds-program, and instead, he would go "private". And, in justifying that move, Mr. Obama pretty-much said that 'going private would be the only way he could get the REALLY-PUBLIC funds'...(huh? what?) citing that he, after all, was the recipient of numerous small cash gifts from Americans Such As You And I; you know, $5 dollars here, $10 dollars there, here a dollar, there a dollar, everywhere a quack-quack...and Obama said that taking all of these small private contributions would pretty-much put the kibosh on Big Influential Types Thinking They Can Buy The Election.

Now, in a normal Political year, a Candidate would most likely go after those who can provide the biggest financial political-gifts, but this ain't a normal year. As a matter of fact, Mr. McCain cried "foul" at Obama's non-reliance on the 'system' because Obama has A WHOLE TON OF MONEY, coming from those tiny political contributions, as opposed to the Lesser Amount Available To McCain thru the Federal Election System. Sounds like a case of "it's not fair; Obama's getting more money than I'm getting"...but if Mr. McCain had any personality, any charm, any semblance of believability, he might get a lotsa plain folks contributing to his candidacy as well. Right now, McCain is totally without fire, spontaneity, personality or believability. This ain't the same McCain we first became familiar with long ago.

Now it's been reported that McCain HIMSELF has gone back and forth between Federal Funds and Private Donations. So what's McCain really griping about? Could it be that McCain perceives Obama as a Real Threat? Of COURSE. So McCain will throw anything he can at Obama, hoping it sticks, and Obama defends himself, dodging left hooks and right crosses that McCain's throwing around with wild abandon. So, we can sum things up according to "The Hokey-Pokey Principle"; McCain, a Republican, uses the "Right" foot, while Obama, a Democrat, would use his "Left"...

McCain, for example, would put his "right" foot in (taking private campaign donations earlier), take his "right" foot out (switching over to Federal Campaign funds), so he'd do the Hokey-Pokey and run off at the mouth.

Obama, on the other hand, would put his "left" foot in (saying he'd go the Federal Funds route), pull his "left" foot out (saying he switched to private funds to get public money), and he'd do the Hokey-Pokey and cause all kinds of doubt.

No matter what anyone does or says in this world, it comes down to three words: FOLLOW THE MONEY.

I suppose I run the risk of viewing the upcoming election in dangerously simplistic terms, but I've gotta start somewhere. And the sinking feeling I'm getting is, that Obama is a "Politician", just like all the other "Politicians" out there, and probably through default, McCain is going to look better and better as more and more things are said to apply tarnish to Obama. In short, they just might end up being more alike than either would ever admit. Doing the same old dance. The Hokey-Pokey.

And yet, part of me thinks I'm missing the boat here. I think I should maybe go out and Run for something. Would you like to contribute? While you mull that over, remember that the Hokey-Pokey is Nothing New. Aerosmith would call it the "Same Old Song And Dance, my friend..."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Of Sunsets, Ships and Seagulls...
Or, time for another Post from the Coast...

Today was what some people would call a real Chamber-of-Commerce Day down here on the Southern Oregon Coast. A brisk breeze was blowing, but No Coat Was Needed...the sun, blazing in all its glory; the cool, thick air swirling all around...people flying kites on the with their pets, who absolutely go crazy with all of the freedom the ocean beach implies...and the sheer luxury of solitude, for although people share the beach, it's never crowded and there's plenty of room for everyone. This portion of the South Coast is a place where tourists visit, but it's not really "touristy" at all. None of the raging, rampant commotion that throngs bring to more populated areas. And I just love it. It's a different pace down here. Slower...more casual...where "image" doesn't mean 'squat'...little in the way of pollen in the ever-blowing breeze, which is great for me, since my allergies are AWFUL, and none of the scorching temperatures that make summer almost unbearable in many inland locations. In some ways, I still feel like an outsider, a newbie, a stranger. Sometimes I Still Cannot Believe I Actually Moved All The Way Down Here. But on days like today, wow...I'm glad I came here. It's days like this when I know I Really Need To Be Here.
But enough of all the verbage...I'll attempt to write the rest of this post in 'vignette' form...and so, I'll present three little, perhaps inconsequential incidents which nonetheless resulted in a very interesting day for me. First of all, as I was walking on the beach, I met a lady who was walking her dog, and talked to her for a bit. It's cool, meeting all the dog-owners (and their dogs), and I'm getting to the place where I know the names of certain pet owners and their dogs. And as we talked about things pertaining to the ocean, she related a little story to me...she was in a nearby seaport town recently, and was watching some fishermen cleaning their catch, throwing fish parts into the water, where seagulls eagerly feasted on the scraps...
She told me that one seagull that ate so much, that it Literally Could Not Fly. Not at all. The poor bird flapped its wings weakly, but no matter how much it tried, it could not Get Airborne. Finally, the bird regurgitated what it had eaten (or at least most of it) and flew away. I couldn't help but think of myself, overdoing it at an all-you-can-eat restaurant. I know that Seagulls are wild animals, but sometimes even Nature's Instincts can sometimes go wrong as they did for Mr. Seagull, who Got Too Much of a Good Thing...
On a day like this, I HAVE to go to the ocean. Too many times this year, I've gone out paying bills and running errands around town on what I thought was going to be a cloudy day...a typical day down here can start out cloudy and stay that way all day long, then long about sunset, the clouds can disappear, and voila!, a beautiful sunset presents itself. And most of the time, I end up missing great sunsets on what started out to be a cloudy day. Well, today it was CLOUDLESS ALL DAY (a relative rarity down here), and if I'm gonna go to the beach, driving on $4.35-a-gallon gasoline, I'm gonna get my money's worth, by sticking around for the SUNSET...I've seen quite a few ocean sunsets by now, and I never get tired of them. But long about sunset, as I was sitting in a parking lot overlooking the ocean, what did my eyes see, but one of those old schooner-type Tall Ships heading up the Coast...
...and there it was, about 3/4 of a mile offshore, moving slowly, silently, toward its destination, and just for an instant, I was teleported back to a century or two ago when seafaring vessels such as this were commonplace. At various times of the year, Tall Ships visit the community, and although the local newspaper lists when they'll be here, I've never made a special trip to go and see one. And so the Tall Ship cruised by, Just For Me. It was one of those "How Cool Is That?" moments.
Right around this time, I was in a quandry...for, Sunset was approaching as this Tall Ship cruised by, and I honestly didn't know what to pay the most attention to...the Tall Ship, sailing majestically on the ocean, or the prospect of an approaching Sunset...some ocean sunsets are nothing more than ever-deepening blue sky with the luminiscent 'dot' of the sun disappearing under the water...other sunsets illuminate the clouds waaay out there on the horizon, splashing the sky with all sorts of colors like an artist gone mad...tonite's sunset showed the sun passing through bands of clouds, revealing technicolor shades of burning orange and yellow as it strained to keep itself above the horizon before finally giving in to the forces of nature, sinking out of sight as another day ended.
Obviously, this is not the sunset I just described, but you get the idea. I never cease to be amazed at how drastically the curvature of the earth magnifies the sun as it approaches the horizon. And, the same thing happens with the moon, and if I hadn't known that before, I would've found out tonight...for, as I headed home after watching a gorgeous sunset, I saw the Moon rise above the other horizon...huge and sorta yellowish; fairly bizarre, but definitely majestic. I wonder, in the grand scheme of things, did this convergence of sunset/moonrise mean anything important? I don't know...but I do know that what I saw today was absolutely GORGEOUS. And inspiring. It rains A LOT down here...but days like today more than make up for the gloomy, cloudy days which are such a large part of Coast Life.
I don't want for much of anything anymore. A day like this, however insignificant it may seem to those reading this, means a lot to me. Fresh air, blue sky, the roar of the ocean...I am positive experiences such as these are among the closest I'll ever get to Heaven On Earth. I wish I could feel like this all of the time. And when I'm at the ocean, I do...

Monday, June 16, 2008

I feel the same way, too...
A picture that's definitely a thousand words...

Democratic strategist James Carville and his wife Republican strategist Mary Matalin burst into tears during a taping of "Meet the Press" in memory of the late moderator Tim Russert Sunday at the NBC studios in Washington. (photo and text courtesy of Huckleberries Online,

Last night, I found myself asking, "God, why did you have to take Tim Russert? He was so good." And I'm not even that religious...or political. 'Mysterious ways' indeed...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Reflections on the passing of Tim Russert...

An intelligent man and Genuinely Good Guy, gone at the age of 58...

I had the TV on this afternoon as I was replenishing the bird food in my Parrot's cage, and I heard the news as it broke; Tim Russert, moderator of "Meet The Press", died suddenly at NBC's Washington, D.C. Bureau, while at work, doing a job he relished and savored. And with his passing, I firmly believe we have all lost one of the Best and Most Believable Talking Heads out there. His interviews were always a pleasure to watch, especially the way he had of getting the Interviewee to dump the rhetoric and focus on What Was Going On, or What Had Happened. It seemed that the rapport between Tim and the other NBC reporters or analysts on the program was very, very good, and from all that I've read and heard, he was a Good Guy. Most of all, he was as Smart As They Come. I respected him.

The death of a Public figure makes us all look up and take stock of things, and somehow, we have to get thru it and do our best until our time comes, and when that happens, hopefully someone, somewhere, will have a good word for us, when we pass away. As I write this, while watching MSNBC this afternoon, certainly a lot of folks have said good words about Tim Russert. Those who sat in the 'Meet The Press' hotseat said today, without exception, that his interviews were Tough but Fair. In addition to his "Meet The Press" program, he'd also been hosting a weekend TV interview program which allowed him to step out of politics a little, and converse with those who weren't necessarily involved in the political spectrum. He wasn't flashy, not especially good-looking, but he was dedicated to his craft, and he brought sort of a working-class sense to the high and lofty art of political interviewing. Tim Russert was the Real Deal. I'm sad he's not with us anymore.

Tim Russert, who passed away this afternoon at age 58. Done Too Soon.

How DUMB does this guy think we are?
...and why does he think anyone would want to buy this?
He's the "Video Professor". He's always saying, "Try My Product". And he breathlessly advertises his video discs which are Supposed To Help You Use The Computer. And his newest addition to the ol' product line is a disc that will tell you Everything About Ebay, How To Buy And Sell your stuff, and Get The Stuff You Want, or Put Some Money In Your Pocket. DOES HE THINK WE'RE ALL FLAMING IDIOTS??? Honestly, if there's someone DUMB ENOUGH out there that they don't know how to use Ebay, they might as well hang it up and Never Touch A Computer Again because He or She is an absolute Cyber-MORON.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet John Scherer, an enterprising sort that is full of ideas, savvy, marketing know-how. Why, he'll help you find out All About Windows, or he'll show you how to Navigate the Internet, or do all kinds of interesting stuff. And he wants to send you a FREE DISC, 'cos he knows that if you learn something, ANYTHING, from his overvalued discs, that you'll want to buy other discs in his series of Rudimentary Remedial Average-Everyday Computer Usage that Anyone Can Perform. "Something FREE???", you ask? "It's too good to be true!", you must be saying to yourself. All he wants is just a lil' ol' fee for Shipping And Handling! So I guess it's not really FREE, rrright? A long time ago (ten years or so), when I thought I needed his free disc to Learn More About Computers, I didn't have a credit card. I called his toll-free number, told the operator I could send a check or money order, and the operator Told Me "No". I didn't have a credit card, you see. WHY SHOULD THAT MATTER AS LONG AS THEY GET THEIR $%&!!! MONEY? I never could figure that out.

Now, I consider MYSELF to be an absolute Cyber-moron, and I figured out how to go on Ebay, Navigate the Internet, and indeed, I did a Total System Recovery earlier this year when a virus took over my computer earlier this year. Doggone it, you just keep pressing computer keys and learn for YOURSELF. You don't need a dumb DISK! Moving around the internet, at first, is sorta like ambling down an unlit passageway; you bump into walls and corners until you arrive at your destination. So, when you're online, you press computer keys and click on things until something happens. It's not rocket science. If you can speak your native language well, you can use a computer, f'cryin' out loud. Mr. Scherer, I'm sorry, but we don't NEED you, OR your discs!

Come to think of it, paying for a disc that teaches you how to use Ebay is sort-of a double-jeopardy thing. First, you're paying for a disc that helps you use Ebay, and then you end up spending thousands of dollars On Ebay. ALL THE STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW in order to navigate around Ebay IS ON THE EBAY SITE ITSELF! It's THERE! As it is with ANY OTHER WEBSITE. However, as you've undoubtedly found out with all of those bothersome, mailbox-cluttering discs you've been sent by AOL or Earthlink or any other service provider, that actually, computer discs are just the right size for beverage coasters. That would also apply to Video Professor discs..."hey, if yer gonna set that drink down on my teakwood table, set it down thar on that shiny silvery disk, okay?"


This is something I've thought about posting for a long time now. And I managed to do it without the help of the Video Professor. Or his dumb disks. Another new post lurks immediately below this one, by the way. So, if this post hasn't yet given you a migraine, you might as well stick around and read that one while yer here. It may be boring, but at least it's painless...I think...

Car-jacked By My Own Car, AGAIN...
Another tedious installment of my Automotive Repair Adventures...

Last Friday (can it really be a week since I posted here?), I belabored to death the fact that I was becoming immersed in the quagmire of Automotive Repair as related to the Auto's electrical system. A NIGHTMARE. I'd bought the new battery last week, battery light kept coming on, found out it was an Alternator Problem last FRIDAY and couldn't get it installed until Monday. So what they did on Friday was to charge up my new battery as best as they could, and they told me that if I didn't drive over 30 miles total for the entire weekend, that I would (probably) still have enough juice in the battery to return Monday for the installation of my new Alternator. Well, both Saturday and Sunday last weekend were BEAUTIFUL; the sun was out and I wanted to Go To The Ocean. But I stayed home Saturday. (They'd told me not to drive very much, you see.) But on Sunday, Cabin Fever prevailed, and yea, verily, I did cast my fate to the wind and went to the OCEAN anyway, damn 'em all!!!

And you know what? My battery light didn't come on ALL WEEKEND. Well, I was told that "sometimes the alternator was working and sometimes it wasn't". So, my car waited until I had already committed to buy another alternator before It Began Working Properly Again. Sheeeeesh...ain't that the way it always goes? So I made it to the Automotive Repair Place on Monday for my 10AM appointment. Since there was a restaurant next door, I thot that would be a good place to pass the time. So, Eat Breakfast I Did. I killed 2 hours of time in the Restaurant. After which, I thot I should get back to the Automotive Repair Place, 'cos my car would be ready soon. Yeah, rrrright....once I got back to the Automo0tive Repair Place, I was told my car wasn't ready. "Oh well, soon", I (erroneously) thought to myself...(who else would I have 'thought' to, I must ask)...

And so, again I waited. I must admit here that I exhibited great patience thumbing through some of the Dullest Magazines On Earth while waiting there. Finally, after a couple hours of THAT, the Automotive Repair Place's boss asked me if I wanted one of his flunkies to drive me somewhere. I was thinking by this time, "ANYTHING to get me out of this place, if only temporarily!" And they were probably thinking, "we've got to get him out of here; he's driving us nuts.") So the parts runner-guy drove me into town, and said, "give us a call long about 3pm, and we'll come get you". Okay, fine. I'm new to this town anyway, and I had a chance to look around a part of town I haven't been to yet. So I be-bopped around for a while, looking at this, seeing that, buying a little something along the way (yep, I found a couple of cool thrift shops). Long about 3pm, I found myself in a Wendy's hamburger place, and the nice clerk behind the counter let me use his CELL-PHONE to call the Automotive Service Place and get picked up. That was nice of him, huh? And I was amazed at how TINY cell-phones are!

I placed my call to the Automotive Service Place at about 2:35pm; I told 'em to come get me at 3pm, and that they could even show up a little after that, 'cos there was a Wendy's Root Beer Float with my name on it that I was going to savour. MMMM....Root Beer Float....(my Homer Simpson imitation there)...I finished it long about 3pm, 'cos my ride was coming, you see. And, so, in Wendy's, I waited. And Waited. And WAITED. Finally, long about 3:40pm, I just decided, "dammit, if I don't get up and do something, I'm gonna go bonkers", so I figured 'hell with it' and WALKED back to the Automotive Service place. Mind you, I was underslept when I got UP Monday was now going on 4pm, which meant it'd been 6 hours since I'd taken my car in for a job that was supposed to take THREE HOURS. I got there about 4:20pm, and WAITED AGAIN in the Automotive Service Place, reading dull and boring magazines and want-ad papers, and finally, long about 5:30pm, They Were DONE! Net result: I was approximately $400 dollars poorer after swiping my bank card in their machinery. But I had my car fixed...rrrright?

You're not going to believe this: As I got in my car to GO HOME, FINALLY, my drivers' side WINDOW went bonkers! I lowered the window, thot 'something's not right here', tried raising the window, and it kept going up CROOKED, and it had NEVER done that before. Huh? WHAT? My car is white, but at that moment, I was tempted to get it painted "LEMON" Yellow! So I made another appointment, right then and there, to come in Thursday (yesterday), again at 10am, to Get It Fixed. What happened, (they told me), was that a metal clamp that held the bottom of the window came undone. The clamp consisted of two pieces of metal GLUED TOGETHER. How STUPID is that? GLUING two pieces of metal together! So the technician at the Automotive Service Place WELDED the clamp back together. And since they had to rip the door apart to service the window machinery, well, that was another $70 in labor I had to pay. (I didn't have to pay for parts, since it was My Window Part that was welded.)

As far as waiting time for THAT...well, I'd brought my car in at 10am for a window job that was supposed to take an hour and a half or thereabouts...let's just cut a long story short and say that After Breakfast (again at the nearby restaurant), I came back, found out my car WASN'T done, and I Just Went Walking. Where, I didn't care. Marooned without my car once again. I found myself in a Fred Meyer store looking at paperback novels, like the kind the drugstores sell (apologies to Gordon Lightfoot)...and long about 3pm, I walked back to the Automotive Service place..."well, they've gotta be done by now", I (again) thought in error. Everything You Know Is Wrong (or so the '70s comedy troupe, The Firesign Theater, once said). I waited ANOTHER long, tiring hour, looking at boring magazines and want-ad papers until the Warden (er, I mean, the Boss of the Automotive Service Place) said I was free to go. SPRUNG!!!! Yaaaay! Whoopee! I'd only been waiting approximately 5 hours for a job that was supposed to take an Hour And A Half. Precious Moments Of My Life That I'll Never Have Again, and What Was I Doing With Them? WAITING.

So what was the First thing I did once I re-acquired my Automotive Freedom? I noticed the Gas Tank was almost empty. Gosh, if it ain't one thing, it's another. Gag, ack, blech, yow, ackthptff, I did grit my teeth and I did pull into Ye Olde Gas Station where I put $25 worth of $4.35-a-gallon gasoline into Mine Automobile, all the while thinking that if Gas gets much more expensive, they're gonna pull all the Gold Bars out of Fort Knox and instead fill up the vaults with regular, premium and diesel fuel. Makes me glad I don't heat this place with oil. I use space heaters which NEVER go much above 70 degrees.

After all that, I went to the beach. An absolutely gorgeous, almost cloudless day. Ahh, the ocean breezes. I walked slowly, gazed at the pelicans and gulls flying overhead, and soaked in what just has to be some of the most gorgeous solitude on Planet Earth. And with that, I was reminded Why I Came Here. Ahhhhh......

Friday, June 06, 2008

I guess that's what I get for griping about gas prices...

Right now, it turns out, Rising Gas Prices are not my biggest concern. I mean, they were until today...welcome, my friends, to the show that never ends...the automotive merry-go-'round. I used to regularly fall victim to the bottomless pit of the automotive service system until several years ago when I finally bought a pretty-good car. And I've babied my Dodge Intrepid. It had 37,000 miles when I got it in 2001, and doesn't even have 75,000 on it some 6 and a half years later. But...I've also heard that the 75,000 mile mark is when to expect things to Start Going Wrong. And boy, did they ever. I'm still reeling from the impact. Bring back the days when all I was worried about was $4.25-per-gallon gas...

It all started yesterday when I went out for a drive...something within my dashboard emitted a faint "Beeeep!", and when I looked down at the speedometer, the little red BATTERY light came on. Uh-oh! As far as I know, my car has never had a new battery installed; in short, I've driven 7 years on One Battery. Now, there've been a couple of times lately when I'd start my car and it was "sluggish"...not starting up right away, but it did start. This time around, the windshield wipers were creeeeping slowly across my windshield, and I thot, "well, maybe I need a NEW BATTERY". I've had car batteries die on me before, after all. So I went to the home of "Sudden Service" and a new battery I did purchase. And install it they did. And, on the way home, on came the battery light AGAIN.

Then, 'KLUNK!' went the transmission, and all of a sudden my car was stuck in either 1st or 2nd gear. And the speedometer stopped working, and I'm surprised all the tires didn't fall off, leaving me stranded in the middle of the road. My Car Was Beginning To Do Itself In. Ack. On the route I was driving, I knew I'd be going past a Dodge/Chrysler service center, and there I did go. I left it there overnight, and the next morning, they said they'd fixed all the "sensors" or "computer chips" or "hidden automotive gremlins" (all automotive gobbledygook terms to me). The Speedometer worked once again, and the tranny was behaving normally. So I left, proceeded to drive my car to another part of town, and further down the road (and $138 poorer), the BATTERY LIGHT came ON again. Huh? What?

So I returned again to the home of "Sudden Service" where I'd bought the battery the day before, and, warranty in hand, I did enter, sauntering up to the counter and telling the very patient cashier lady that I thot the battery I'd bought was "bad". And so I did wait, reading uninteresting magazines in the waiting area, until the Tire Service Person tcame up and told me, "well, we checked out the battery, and it seems to be good, but you probably need a new ALTERNATOR." And I thought, "oh no. I have entered the realm of mysterious undefinable automotive electrical issues", which is sorta like paddling a canoe inside the Bermuda Triangle. Beware! Anyway, I was given the name of an independent Automotive Place which I was told had cheaper shop rates than the Chrysler dealership, and well, since Saving Money is a Pretty Good Idea, to the independent Automotive Place I did go. Ever had the feeling that Your Day Is Turning Out to be One of Those Days? This day was fast feeling like one o' them...

I arrived at the independent Automotive Place and described my problem, and I've gotta give 'em credit for successfully concealing the fact that they were probably licking their chops. Sure enough, after they "diagnosted" my car, I was told, "well, yer alternator works some of the time, and not at other times". So, call around they did, and an alternator they did find. But...said alternator's gotta be shipped down from PORTLAND, about 250 miles north of me. But, they gave me some good news; they found me a REAL DEAL..."we thought we were gonna need $500 for parts and labor, but it turns out it's only gonna cost you $400." Obviously, that makes me feel better, but not much. Almost half of that is labor, I guess. In today's automobiles, there's not quite half a centimeter of space between engine and Remainder Of Front, basically, removing an old alternator and replacing it is about as graceful an activity as a Dentist trying to pull out a crooked Wisdom Tooth using a pneumatic hammering device 'cos he can't get his pliers to grip. Ouch...

My car is back at home for now. Sheeesh. To insure that I was able to get here, they super-charged-up my new battery, told me not to drive too far, or with a lot of electrical things going heater, no lights, etc...and with any luck at all, there'd be enough 'juice' left in the battery so I won't get stranded when I head back Monday for the Alternator Operation. (Just my luck I'd run into time-and-electricity-consuming road construction delays) Evidently, I've got electricity coming Out Of Battery, but not Going Back In sometimes, depending on If Alternator Decides It Wants To Perform At All Or Not. Gosh. This is painful. But, just like my colonoscopy, which HAD to be done 'cos I'm over 50, after all, my car is Finally Needing New Parts, since it's closing in on the 75,000 mark. I'll be really glad to get all of this done. And what am I gonna do with the $100 I saved on my Alternator-related expenses? I'll buy a few gallons of gas with it. Whoopee...

I keep telling people this, but now I've got to try to make myself believe it: "Once you've accepted that Money Is Not Meant To Hang On To, you won't feel so bad about spending it." That can be my Delusion For The Day...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Could this blog be a...

Aw, come on now...don't be silly. I don't purport to have the vast knowledge of an Alan Greenspan, or a Les Schwab, or even the janitor at the local High School...still, it's pretty easy for me to grasp at least part of what's going on. All you have to do is read the business page. The header says "BUSINESS: Economy...Jobs...Development...well, the economy's kinda stale right now, people are getting laid off from jobs, and according to a big Los Angeles developer, the home building industry won't improve until 2010. Judging from those three little things, I'd say this isn't exactly the best of times. That is further reinforced by the little news item that's headlined, "Oil prices fell sharply Tuesday, dropping below $124 a barrel, as demand concerns grew." Prices fell BELOW $124? That's sorta like the $4.25 PER GALLON price of gas down here on the coast, right now, receding to, say, $3.99 a gallon. If that ever happens. We're being conditioned; we just don't know it yet. Or maybe we do and there's nothing We Can Do. I do find it ironic that One Letter can make so much difference, yet both words are permanently conjoined together...GAUGE, as in gas gague, and GOUGE, as in what Gas Prices are doing to us.

Another sign o'the times can be found in advertising...A Big Auto Company is running commercials advertising $2.99-per-gallon gas FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS! But you can only drive "so many miles" (12,000) per year, which means you can only fill up at the $2.99 price "so many times", which means you can only buy "so much'" $2.99 gas during any calendar year, after which you pay regular price for gas until the next year of your 3-year Gas Agreement commences. That would be the "fine print" department which flashes on the screen at commercial's end, only you're too busy ogling the hot babe in the car commercial ("Mercury Mariner" comes to mind here). Auto-corp ads are structured sorta like those prescription-medicine ads that say sneaky things like "if you have a 72-hour erection or your arm falls off after taking this medication, see your doctor because something could be wrong with you." Economic Rule #1: If It sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Economic Rule #2: If it STILL sounds like a great offer, wait for a few seconds until the disclaimer at the end of the ad. I swear, on some of those medical ads, more time is spent detailing Every Possible Thing That Can Go Wrong if you take the medication than actually saying something POSITIVE about the product.

And a headline in today's paper says, "Book A Hotel, Get A Gas Gift Card." A hotel down here is doing just that...Hotel Guests get gift certificates worth $10 per each night's stay, redeemable at a local Chevron station. $10 worth of gas? That oughta be enough for you to drive to the next hotel, provided it isn't too far away. Oh, and you've gotta make rezzervations before June 30th and stay before July 30th. Then the offer is over. I guess the hotel figures gas prices will increase by another dollar a gallon after July 30th. Then, maybe you'd get a $15 gas card, for which you'd get the same amount of gas that you got with your earlier $10 gas card? But the Official Feedback to all of this comes from the General Manager of the Hotel, who said 'it was too early to say whether high fuel prices might cut into coast travel this summer.' ARE YOU KIDDING? Rising gas prices are gonna affect EVERYTHING AND TRAVEL TO ANYWHERE adversely. What we're experiencing now is best described by the title of an old Bachman-Overdrive song..."You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet."

All I know is, I am sure developing a one-track mind, concerning this fuel thing. I've written TOO MUCH about it lately. Okay, how about something different? Obama has allegedly won the Democratic Nomination, but Hillary still hangs in there, basically Not Giving Obama Credit for Existing. And now McCain wants to debate Obama. Don't we have to wait on all this stuff 'till we see what happens at the Democratic National Convention? Maybe McCain wants to try and make Obama look bad before the primary because if that happens, he'll run against Hillary and He'll most certainly win BECAUSE NO ONE LIKES HER. Perhaps the Democratic convention will be a case of "who is disapproved of the least by their own party?", and then in the general election, the candidate who offends the least (and has the most hanging chads) will probably win. And really, after that, life will go on, pretty much as it has gone on for eons. The day after the Election is just Another Day.

Okay, let's approach the Economy thing from another angle: Fed Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said that "the time for cutting interest rates is over in view of soaring oil and commodity prices and a weakened dollar." Come to think of it, tho, maybe that just summarizes everything that I've typed above. And if that's the case, then this post is waaaaaay longer than it had to be. I stand accused. All righty, then, I'll just end this with a little humor: I saw, on a car bumper this week, a little thing that said, "My kid got me this for my birthday. Not the car, the STICKER." And since Visual Elements are important to any piece of literature (or in this case, cyber-literature), I offer the following little photo satire below:


You notice I didn't post anything about how the Seattle Mariners have been doing lately...if I did that, it would only add to the misery...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Nothing Is What It Is, Or Is It?
Political Impressions...or the lack thereof...

What's all this I hear about "half-votes" in the Michigan Democratic Primary? I have absolutely no idea; can delegate counts really be manipulated like that? A half vote? Sounds like that would be a good option, should a delegate not want to commit to either candidate. Well, this is politics, after all, and don't forget that strange things can happen here in the land of the Hanging Chad. I don't have a clue about this, but then again, I never thot I'd ever hear of a 'half-vote', either. How silly is that?
Meanwhile, Former Prezzidential Press-Secretary Scott McClellan (the human race's best example of the Charlie Brown syndrome), has written a tell-all book describing how much the Bush Administration has lied to us all about everything. Bob Dole, Republican Dinosaur that he is, has stopped just short of saying McClellan would feed his mother to the dogs. In Another Time, Bob Dole was a War Hero, and will always be, but as far as the current political scene, he's Just Another Republican Weasel, so there. Do some more Viagra ads, Mr. Dole. Maybe then people will think you're Still Current, a real 'happening' dude...

In the meantime, Barack Obama is fast becoming the Ultimate Master Of The Politically Correct Cave-In. He was taken to task for not wearing an American Flag Pin. Hey, folks, HE'S RUNNING FOR PREZZIDENT, so I think he's an American, and wearing a damned PIN won't make him any more 'American'. So all of a sudden, he starts showing up on the stump with Flag Pin On Suit-Coat Lapel. CAVE-IN! And, he finally got around to Resigning From His Church, because the off-kilter Pastor's sermons contained Things Objectionable. CAVE-IN! Why did he wait until now? Maybe he's trying to get some 'news mentions', since Obviously Hillary Won't Go Away, especially now that she's got all those 'half-votes'.

Every time she opens her mouth, that flat nasal twang of hers sounds like she's NAGGING. It's hard to get past that. She just LOOKS (and sounds) unlikeable. Some have gone so far as to speculate on a Clinton-Obama (or Obama-Clinton) administration. Can you say "disaster"? I knew ya could... To quote the waitress Flo, who worked at Mel's diner in the old '70's TV series, "Alice", "WHEN DONKEYS FLY!" Yeah, like THAT'LL happen. Meantime, Obama appears to be losing his lustre...continually, he makes All Kinds Of Promises, utilizing Glittering Generalities, Expecting Us to believe all of them, but he sounds more and more like candidates of yore who promised the Same Things using the same Old Glittering Generalities. And don't even get me started on McCain. I hear he's been looking for a running mate lately. Hopefully McCain will pick someone with a background in Economics, since HE himself is an admitted ignoramus in that department.

In the meantime, the country is in the clutches of $4.00 a gallon gasoline (give or take, mostly, "take")...and things are finally getting to the place where people are curtailing their driving habits. This is a free country, so it's ironic that high gas prices are going to be imprisoning us. The weather was Beautiful this past weekend. And Purely Out Of Principle, I didn't drive ONE INCH during that time. When I pulled into the gas station last Friday, I got there Just In Time. Although the numbers on the readerboard said $4.19 a gallon, the pumps hadn't been switched over yet. I only ("only"?) ended up paying $4.17. That would mean that I saved roughly a DIME over roughly $20.00 worth. How pathetic. How frickin' pathetic.
How Ironic would it be if things got so bad, that motorists had to take out one o'them Auto Title Loans in order to be able to put gas in the tank? Meanwhile, the War Machine gobbles up more and more gas. We wouldn't wanna pull out anytime soon...might make those in the Oil Cartels unhappy!