29 June 2005

Bush sucks (no not that band, although...)...

Bush is a dolt, an idiot, a man with nary a clue as to what’s going on around him, or in the world today. I think he’s surrounded himself with enough yes men and yes women that they tell him things, and he just believes them. This is very easy for me to believe due to past statements he’s made, such as something about not paying much attention to current events or the news, or listening to his speech last night on NPR. Is the world really that different in his mind? Some things that he said that come to mind to me are things like, we are winning this war on terror. Umm, statistics say otherwise. Statistics say that terrorism was on the rise for 2004 as compared to 2003, as compared to 2002, and as compared to 2001. It has been ever increasing since the time of our invasion into Afghanistan. The man also claims that things are going well in Iraq. Umm, let’s look at that again shall we? Over 1700 US soldiers are dead, over 12,000 have been wounded (many of them will suffer the rest of their lives with their injuries), over 8,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed just this year and this year is only half over, the insurgency in Iraq seems to grow everyday, and appears to be getting stronger (against the statements of Cheney who mentioned something about the insurgency being in its death throes), and Iraq is so unsettled after we’ve been there for over 2 years, that there is no possible way we can leave anytime probably in the next decade. If we pulled out now, chaos and civil war would rein in that country, and would probably carry over to other countries. Bush keeps talking about democracy in Iraq, but it’s not happened yet. Their politicians are getting killed by car bombers, and in an interesting statistic I heard last night, it was has been polled in Iraq that over 45% of the country’s inhabitants support the insurgents and what they’re doing. That’s just about ½ of the country supporting people who are purported as being the “bad guys”, while we prop ourselves up as being the “good guys”. Well, the people whose country we invaded unjustly, they don’t seem to view us as the good guys. We get blamed for everything, and it’s possible that this is rightly so. Water doesn’t come on. It’s the American’s fault. Electricity goes out again and again. It’s the American’s fault. My little sister gets blown up by a car bomb. It’s the American’s fault. I can empathize with their point of view because if we had not invaded their country, there are a lot of those things that wouldn’t be happening (such as car bombs, no utilities, and so on and so forth). Also, since we invaded Iraq, we have turned it into a terrorist haven. It’s not a safe place for them, because by our military being there, we make it dangerous, but it also gives them a new training ground. They now have an entire country on which to practice on live targets. The invasion of Iraq was viewed or is viewed by most in the Arab world as an attack on an Islamic nation, and an attack in Islam itself. They don’t see a deposed despot or a leader, they see an attack on their religion, and possibly later on down the road on their own sovereignty. Why stop at one Muslim nation when there are so many to invade in the region? It’s been the policy of the Bush administration to spread democracy throughout the Middle East, and since most of the other nations surrounding Iraq are NOT democracies, that places the rest of them firmly in the cross-hairs of the Bush administration. Luckily, we only have a few more years of Bush in the Oval Office, unless of course Jeb gets elected in 2008. I’m definitely moving to Canada or France if that happens. I wouldn’t be able to stand it I don’t think.

There are so many rosy predictions coming out of the White House right now it infuriates me. I mean, does he really think that the American public doesn’t pay attention to what is really going on? Yeah, well, that’s probably more or less true I have no doubt, but for the rest of us who are paying attention; oh my God! I can’t believe he thinks that some of us are stupid enough to listen to him and believe what he’s saying. Look Mr. Bush, you have to stop basing your entire foreign policy on the September 11th terrorist attacks. I have a feeling that before that day, he had no idea about what a foreign policy needed to be, or what one was. This was a man who had never even been out of the country except to go to Mexico, and he was supposed to lead us in foreign policy matters. Holy shit! I was scared. I’m even more scared now because ever since the terrorist attacks, that has been the make-up of his entire foreign policy. Have to get the terrorists no matter what. 300 billion in funding for the war in Iraq later, we’re no further along, and most would say, we’re deeper in the hole with resistance getting harder, and with more people getting killed. Imagine what we could have done with that 300 billion in America for whomever or whatever needed it? It would have paved the road for us, and made America a better place for everyone who lives here, but then again, the money wouldn’t have been there for social programs, and for things to benefit the common American, nah, we only “find” money like that when we are going to war. But by and large, there has been no sacrifice by the American public at large, we just bitch and complain mostly about inflated gas prices, and how we don’t want to pay them. Come on, you know it’s true for most of you.

We, meaning the United States of America, are never going to win this war on terrorism. As long as we survive as a nation, and long after that, there will be terrorists and people who are intent on doing this nation, and others harm in the name of whatever it is they think that they’re fighting for. It’s never going to go away. Our presence in Iraq only serves to increase recruitment for terrorists and terrorist groups, as essentially we are proving their main argument. Their main argument being that Americans want to take over the world, and especially the Islamic world because we’re a Christian nation. Afghanistan… Check. Iraq… Check. Who is next? I’m sure Washington has its sights firmly set on Iran, and will gladly send over warplanes at the first twitch of the muscle in Iran’s neck. We’re on hair trigger alert, and it won’t take much for the bombs to being falling in Iran. The war on terror is not winnable. Small special forces group searching out terrorist cells and destroying them is what is going to pare down the terrorist threat, not invasion of an entire country who really had nothing to do with terrorism in the first place.
The other thing that completely irks me about Bush is his insistence on mentioning September 11th in just about every single speech that he’s given in the last 4 years. He can’t make it an entire speech within invoking that single day. As I said before, you can’t base an entire foreign policy on one incident. He does a disservice to the victims of that day by mentioning it endlessly, and politicizing it for his own benefit as he did during the 2004 elections, and also by every single time he mentions it now. It drives me up a wall. Especially since he did nothing to prevent it (as far as I can tell), and used it to deceive the American public at large into thinking that Iraq had something to do with that day (they didn’t), and that they had WMDs and they were going to give them to our enemies. He promotes this war as protecting our freedom, protecting our liberty. What a joke. What a waste of life, time, and money for this country at large. History shall judge him very harshly, I guarantee that.

28 June 2005

Sundry items...

I have a serious case of vacationitis. Yes, it’s true. I am looking forward to the end of this week when I can leave work for the safety of home for the next 2 weeks. I can wake up in the morning when I want to. I can ride my bike when I want to. I can watch le Tour de France when I want to, and essentially, I will not be beholden to much of anyone for about 2 weeks, or actually a little more if you count weekends and all. 17 days of not being at work. It’s going to be nice indeed. I have it all planned out. Wake up, small breakfast, ride for an hour and a half or 2, come home, shower, tune in the last bit of the Tour stage of that particular day, take a nap during said Tour stage during that particular day, wake up, get a snack, ride for another couple of hours in the afternoon, get some dinner, maybe do some laundry, maybe do some cleaning, maybe do some bill paying, and essentially, just hang out. Relaxation is the key. I’ll definitely be working on my tan during this time as well. I’ve been looking forward to these 2 weeks just about all year since I’ve had this time planned to be off from work for oh, I don’t know, since about the start of February. See, the plan was initially to go to Superweek (www.internationalcycling.com/) in Wisconsin, which is a series of 17 bike races run over 17 days up there. Unfortunately, my fitness is not what I’d like to call good right now, because of the prior 5 weeks or so of NOT training and riding and racing, so going up there would be a shellacking for me certain. So I’ll just avoid that again this year, because my fragile ego can’t take the daily beat downs that Superweek provides. I need to get up there to do it though, and next year, well, next year is going to be the year I think, finally. Then again, this is what I said this year. Once again next year, the play it by ear ruling will come into play.

With the recent spate of training that I’ve been doing though, I’m starting to feel human on the bike again, and starting to feel good about just riding again. I’ve found that my happiness on the bike is directly proportional to how fit, or how un-fit I am while riding. Case in point. Last week, a 3 hour ride felt like a death march. This past weekend, a 3 hour ride was fun again, and I enjoyed being on the bike. I took Monday the 27th off from riding, as if I had ridden, it would have been my 11th straight day of riding, and everything was still pretty sore from this past weekend’s riding, so a day off, not a bad idea. I got to sit around, hang out with the SO, watch a movie, and got to bed early. All very good things. More riding this afternoon though. I have a 3-4 hour ride planned for today, and tomorrow, we’ll see how those go, as the weather right now, so hot and humid. It’s the time of year when taking 3 water bottles on the ride is a must if you’re going to go over 2 hours on the bike. 90 and humid, so nasty out there. At least it lets you get a good sweat going though. Salty dog is what I look like when coming back in from a ride like this. I have this sheen on me that looks like I’m covered in white. Which I actually am, because I’ve sweat out enough salt that it’s collected on my body and re-crystallized when it cools and forms a nice white crust over the body. It’s actually quite nasty indeed. It’s like you’re just a human salt lick and all. Not very attractive at all.

24 June 2005

All hail the cone of meat...

All hail the cone of meat.

When I say cone of meat, what I really mean is a gyro sandwich. If you've never had the pleasure of having one of these tasty delectible things, I highly suggest you take this under advisement, and get yourself to the nearest Greek deli or middle eastern food joint post haste, and experience it first hand. I work in a town called Roxboro, NC, which is about as far from Egypt as you can get, and yet, there is a group of Egyptian immigrants who have a deli in town. Rightly so, they named it The American Hero, because to name it something else, the local riff raff would not know what to make of it. Like if they named it Mubarak's Sandwich Shack, or something like that. I'm still surprised when I walk into the place, and they're all still there because the townspeople of Roxboro probably think they're terrorists anyway. They speak Arabic, and are dark complected, but they seem to have a thriving business, and that is awesome indeed, and without them there, I definitely would not get the good food that they serve. The place is great. They have about 30 different sandwiches, hot meals, and other stuff laying around the joint. Good stuff, all of it. And in a stroke of brilliance, after 9-11, they plastered American flags all over the place, and pictures of Jesus Christ (even though they are all Muslims that work there), and their business grew immensely. I salute them for being smart and savvy enough to realize that they needed to do something or their business probably would have gotten cut in half. Anyway, back to the cone of meat.

So the expression cone of meat comes from the fact that there is an actual cone of meat sitting behind the counter. When you order a gyro, they get out the sharp long ass knife and start slicing nice big chunks of meat off of the cone of meat as it spins on a spit being warmed. I think the meat is some kind of weird beef/lamb compaction pressed meat loaf, but whatever the hell it is, it's freakin' good as well. Throw said meat onto a pita, some lettuce, green olives, feta, tomatoes, maybe some onions (if you like that sort of thing), and of course soak the entire comglomeration in taziki sauce (yogurt and cucumber sauce that's tasty as all get out). Look, one of these things will make you slap your momma they're so good. No, seriously, you'd go home and be like, "Mom. I have to slap you because I just had the best sandwich ever." OK, maybe it's not that good, but it's damn close my friend, damn close. Check out the following links for pictures of the actual cone of meat, and the sandwich itself:

I have spoken to the guys at The American Hero many times over the last 4 years that I've been going there since taking the job in God forsaken Roxboro, and they are extremely interesting and nice people to be sure. Hard working as anything, and just genuinely nice. I've talked to them about their religion, about the conditions of their home country, the upcoming elections in Egypt, and their politics because I like to get a feel for what other people, especially folks who have moved into the US, think about the conditions in the country, how it relates back to their own country, and what their general overall impression is of the US of A in general. I probably should give their place of business a plug if I can find a website out there for them. OK, there isn't a website for them, but if you're ever passing through Roxboro (don't know what else you'd be doing there), stop in, get something to eat, you'll dig it.

23 June 2005


I’ve been thinking about a disturbing trend that I’ve read about lately. The trend of pharmacists refusals to fill certain prescriptions because they have so-called “moral objections” to filling certain medications. The list is very anti-woman. It centers around the refusal of pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception (aka the morning after pill) and birth control in general. In a sense, no, not in sense actually, but in practice, these pharmacists are placing their so-called moral objections above the health of a woman who has been prescribed something from her doctor. This is happening across the country, so it’s not like it’s some backwater Bible belt issue. If these drugs are prescribed legally by a woman’s doctor, then they should be filled and handed over to these women without recourse, or without a lecture. Who do these people think they are anyway?? Don’t they realize, well, I guess that they don’t, that birth control is just basic health care for women, and that every patient should not have to face discrimination at the pharmacy because of what they’re picking up. You don’t see these pharmacists holding back male contraception, or Viagra for that matter. You don’t see the men being discriminated against in the same manner that women are being judged by someone who doesn’t know them, doesn’t know their situation, and doesn’t know why they are getting these drugs. Since these people are all high and mighty, and consider themselves good Christians for doing this and filling prescriptions according to their moral value and judgment, then they should know that God is the ultimate judge, and that they are not the ones to judge people, God will do that if and when they arrive at the good old pearly gates. They are essentially trying to play God by judging others, lest ye be judged I say. Essentially what we have again, is an assault on a woman’s choice to choose what she wants to do with her body. There are even States trying to legislate this into law where a pharmacist can refuse to fill something based on their moral perception of the situation. Look, you’re the damn pharmacist, the doctor prescribed something, you fill it, and everyone is happy. It’s not your choice for crying out loud. It’s your job. If I were running a pharmacy somewhere, first person under my wing that did that, they’d get the boot. Sorry, have no room for someone who doesn’t do their job. Here are some links about this disturbing trend, and the increase it has seen lately:


Personally, once again, I blame Bush and the right wing agenda that has attacked a woman’s right to choose since the inception of Roe V. Wade, and their moral outrage and indignation that anyone would choose to end a “life” that God has given them. Then they would piss and moan about the burden that possibly single mothers would put on the welfare system because of the children they are having out of wedlock, and couldn’t support on their own. Well, if you didn’t restrict access to birth control, you might not have these issues. Of course North Carolina, the state that I live in now, has introduced legislation to make it OK for a pharmacist to not fill a prescription based on his or her belief system. What a crock of shit my friends, a crock of shit. Damn, this country is getting worse and worse, and living over in a European country looks better all of the time.

The other thing that the right wing boys have trotted out this week is the whole flag burning amendment that they’re wanted to make to the Constitution for who knows how many years. It’s free speech people. Sure, it’s not a very nice thing to do, but it’s still free speech. The flag, it’s just a symbol of our country, and that’s it. I mean, I wouldn’t burn the flag, but if someone else wants to do it, then they should be allowed to do such a thing. Maybe these people in DC don’t have enough to do so they have to try and get stuff like this passed. Then again, it probably energizes their base constituents again. It’s a tough one to call because if you vote for it, good. If you don’t vote for it, you’re somehow anti-American. It’s the whole do as I say kind of thing, and if you don’t, well, you’re unpatriotic for some reason. The right is soooo good in their attacks that the left just backs down, and we run. That stinks. Even people known within the Democratic party as straight shooters, and people who speak their minds keep backing down when reproached by the right, take Howard Dean and Senator Durbin. Both, backed down from their positions when confronted with calls for apologies from the right. Have some balls fellas for crying out loud. Have some balls. What happened to the knock down drag out left wing guys? The hard core members? We don’t have them anymore, we’ve turned into whelps. I don’t get it really. We need more pipe swingers in Washington. Yeah, there are some who take no prisoners (Barbara Boxer comes to mind), but we need more like her. Willing to call out anyone and everyone when they can detect even the faintest odor of bullshit wafting from the right side of aisle. I do think that the tide is going to turn, possibly even as early as the next election cycle, because people in the US are getting fed up with the Bush administration. Couple of things that come to mind that ended up being really hurtful for the Republicans were the Schiavo case, the war in Iraq, terrorism, and the deficit. I think, or I hope, people are starting to see through their hail of crap to see what lies at the end of rainbow.

21 June 2005

The Fog of War...

I watched a great documentary last night. It was called The Fog of War. Essentially, it was a 2+ hour interview with Robert McNamara who was Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and Johnson during the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Vietnam War, and Bay of Pigs. Talk about an engrossing movie. I just sat there and watched and listened to him talk. This man I don’t think sleeps very well at night. He has a lot on his mind from his days in office and subsequently at the World Bank which he ran for 15 years or so after his Secretary of Defense days. He brings up a lot of insightful information, things he’s said that he’s had the hindsight now to look back upon, and to judge what happened during his times in WWII and forward. You see him move from telling Kennedy that there should be an announcement saying that troops are going to be pulled out from Vietnam in a very short time period, then Kennedy getting killed, and Johnson taking over and calling for more troops and more war in Vietnam, and his subsequent support for his new President in the war effort in Vietnam. He said that years later, he was meeting with Vietnamese officials, and they brought it to his attention that they were fighting for their independence, and that they would have fought until the last to gain that. He didn’t understand that then, but understands it now. This movie provokes a lot of thought, especially considering that it was filmed before we the United States invaded Iraq, and how closely things parallel each other from Vietnam to Iraq. People say that they’re not even close, not in the terms of body count, but in terms of how the administration now is speaking about Iraq and how the Johnson administration spoke about Vietnam, it’s eerily familiar, and there are a lot of turns of phrase that sound almost exactly the same. Hell, driving to work this morning I heard George W. Bush proclaiming how well the war in Iraq is going. I think back to last night, when I heard McNamara saying the same thing about Vietnam over and over again, until all of a sudden, it really wasn’t true, which it wasn’t true in the first place. I think the same could be said for Iraq. Yes? No? I think yes. Everyday, we hear about insurgents killing off civilians, our soldiers, and the number of attacks seems to be ever increasing over the last few months. How well could things be going if people are still dying, the country is in shambles, and the people there and around the world in general feel less safe now than they did 2 years ago? Can’t be going too well I don’t think. Here is the link for the movie itself:


I think that it is super thought provoking. One thing that he says during the movie that rings true is something about America being the pre-eminent world power, and that we shouldn’t take this power lightly. He says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that America shouldn’t act unilaterally against another country unless countries that are our allies and who share common cultures and moral values as us aren’t on board with us in acting unilaterally. This rings true especially with Iraq, when most of our closest allies wanted nothing to do with the invasion and subsequent occupation of that country. I we can’t get our closest allies and friends behind us, we shouldn’t do it. But, we did anyway.

So, watch this movie, think about it. See where we’ve been, and where we’re going, they seem like similar paths. It’s not a good thing at all.

20 June 2005

Racing, radio, and anime...

Over the last 3 to 4 weeks, work has been a pain in the ass for the most part. Long days, followed by longer days, followed by even longer days. It’s just no good, and leaves little time for play in the evening. Therefore, riding has taken a very large back seat to everything else revolving in this little thing we call life. The training has suffered, and I’ve lost pretty much all of the fitness that I accumulated early on this year. Actually, which wasn’t a whole lot, because I’ve been unable to string together more than a week of good training at a time this year. And then I wonder why I can’t seem to compete even on the same level that I did last year. It’s really no wonder at all. In order to ride competitively at the Pro 1-2 level in cycling, you need to ride. A lot. Well, at least for me. This year, I’ve been unable to do that, and my racing has suffered. I got very discouraged pretty much at the end of May, and decided to take off June and most of July to train, and get back on it. So now I face an upward battle for the most part, and I’m starting back off at phase 1. Base mileage again. Long slow miles to get the riding back in the legs, and to maybe take off a few pounds of blubber that is now plaguing my mid section. This is what I get for not riding much, and eating a little too well. But hey, that’s life, and shit like that happens sometimes. I’m sure I’ll swing back by the end of July, when the Crossroads series of races come about. I’m looking forward to that stuff already, which is what I predict would be my, hopefully, semi-triumphant return to racing. I’m also hoping that with the time off I’ve had or will have in the middle of summer here, I’ll do some cyclocross racing again in the Fall, which is something I’ve not done in a few years. I have a cross frame, sitting in my room, waiting for components to grace it’s nakedness. I should be able to cobble something together by the time October rolls around I would hope. Then I can go out there, and get my ass kicked in that discipline as well.

What is the deal with radio stations these days anyway? Anything that you tune into, at least in the Raleigh NC area, sucks. I mean, it’s just bad. Really bad. Luckily, we have NPR, but you can only take so much of that and hear the same news stories throughout the day. There is another talk radio station out of Greensboro, which I’ll tune into sometimes just for the fun of it, because they have a shit-ton of right wing talk shows on there, which either infuriate me, or just make me laugh. I get infuriated (see previous rant about Michael Savage) because there are actually a lot of people who listen, and believe everything these guys say. I laugh, because the thoughts they present are just so ludicrous at times, there is nothing that you can do but laugh. Or cry maybe?? Drive time radio in the morning is completely useless (once again, aside from NPR). The local radio shows concentrate essentially on what they watched on TV last night and how bad, or how good it allegedly was/is. This of course centers on reality TV. Or should I say, so-called reality TV. Let’s face it folks, reality TV is nothing of the sort. It’s just awful stuff. I think most networks are officially out of ideas when they start running reality TV shows. Either that or they’re cheap and don’t want to actually pay for a good TV show. The influx of reality TV, it kills me. I concentrate now on the following channels: Discovery, TLC, History, Military, and that’s about it. Sure, I check out Law and Order SVU re-runs on USA, but that’s a well written and produced show. Luckily, there is Netflix. Mounds and mounds of movies to watch, and for 18 bucks per month, how can you complain about that? So now movie watching has begun with a vengeance. Such a good surface. No late fees, at all, and they just deliver them to your house. Whoever came up with that business model was a freakin’ genius. One of those ideas that I wish that I had come up with, but alas, I’m just not that smart.

My most recent sphere of influence has come from watching Japanese anime. I’ve been watching a lot of anime lately, it’s been some good stuff. Check out the following link for one of the latest movies that I’ve watched:


I would highly recommend this movie. Good plot line, good action, and well, it’s just a good movie, for a cartoon. I think this whole anime thing goes way back to when I was in kindergarten when I first saw the cartoon called G-Force:


That was some cool stuff, even then back in the day. Even though that was a long time ago, I do remember some of the episodes, but what I remember the most was actually “playing” G-Force out on the playground for recess. Yes, we’d pick our favorite characters and pretend we were them. Hey, we were 5 years old for crying out loud. It’s OK. Later on though, there was Voltron. Man, that was the kick ass stuff as far as anime went. A big ass robot kicking asses all over the universe. It had all of the elements you like to see as a kid. Robots, destruction, and of course swords. Big swords. Check out:
http://www.voltronforce.com/ There were 2 versions, 1 of them was with about 30 vehicles that formed Voltron, but the other one, which I thought was better, was the version with the 5 lions that all formed together to make Voltron. Yes, lions I said. Then of course there were the Thundercats. Another cool ass cartoon. http://thundercats.vpga.com/ I have friends who to this day (Jason Darden you know who you are) will still come out with, “Snarf, Snarf… Oh, Lion-O.” If you’ve ever seen the cartoon, you know what I’m talking about over here. So yeah, anime, been a fan for a long time, and it continues now with my most recent movie additions and viewings. Quentin Tarantino had a bunch of it in Kill Bill Volume #1 as well. There were some gruesome scenes in that movie that were animated. Another movie that I have on my Netflix list that looks promising is Samurai Champloo (http://www.samuraichamploo.com/) which appears to be something that is going to be very good. A Japanese TV show, they’ve released it here in the US on DVD. That’s on the list, and I bumped that one up to the top of things. It looks really good. Samurais, noble missions, and hip-hop. Seems like the perfect set-up to me. There is a lot of good stuff coming out of Asia as far as entertainment I think lately. They seem to have some really original ideas, good story lines, good movie making, and everything else in the US is getting stale and boring. It seems like now they’re remaking every single movie out there. They’re even remaking movies that don’t need to be remade. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for instance. Was there any need?? I don’t think so. The original was so trippy and out there; how can you improve on such things? I say good day sir to that.

Seeing that it is almost 11 in the morning, and I’ve been writing this entry for awhile now, I might want to get back to work, and do something for this fine fine Monday morning. I mean, it is work after all. Mondays are horrible, especially when the weather is as spectacular as it is this morning. Mid 70’s, slight breeze from left to right, and projected to not get hotter than that today. For June in NC, that’s like a little slice of Heaven.

08 June 2005

Getting outdoors...

I was listening to NPR the other day (there are no good radio stations in North Carolina at all), and they were discussing something about kids not having a sense of the great outdoors anymore. I couldn’t possibly agree more with this statement. These days, kids are locked up in their houses, placed in front of their video games and computers and TVs, and left to rot there. Is it any wonder that right now we have a huge problem with obesity with children and the general population? Not to me it’s not. I see it every single day that I go to work with the majority of people that I work with. I see it in the food that they eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I mean, we have a cafeteria here at work, and when I try to get something to eat there, I can’t. I can’t because everything is either fried or covered in butter and or cheese, or a combination of all of the above, so I end up having to bring my own food to work, because I feel like there is nothing that I can possibly eat that they serve without getting sick from it. I digress though, because once, they tried to serve some healthy food, and myself and maybe 2 or 3 other people were the only ones who bought it, so they had to revert back to the deep fat fryer. I did hear something else this morning that warmed my heart. Over summer break this year in a lot of different public schools in NC, they are removing their deep fryers, and are going to replace bad food with good. So maybe we have a chance? We’ll see.

Going back to kids and the outdoors though. Granted, I grew up in small town Maine, which is smaller than most small towns, and it’s a place where everyone knows everyone else for the most part. I seem to remember getting until about 8AM on a Saturday morning, and then getting tossed out of the house by my mother, and was basically told not to come back until lunch at around noon or 11:30. Then after lunch was served and eaten, we got thrown back out the door and was told not to come back until supper (as my Dad says, rich people eat dinner, workingmen eat supper) which was at 5 or so. This was repeated on Sunday as well, except for the small excursion at 11:15AM for going to church, this was of course unless we went to mass at St. Theresea’s at 8AM instead, which sometimes we did, because then we could have the rest of the day for ourselves. I’m not saying that I didn’t spend my fair share of time watching TV as a kid, or playing video games (we had a Colecovision
www.classicgaming.com/vcoleco/ and the first edition Nintendo later on), but my parents wouldn’t put up with it for the most part. We did get to do that, but there were limits, and once my Mom reached her limit with us, we were cast out of the house, not to return until we were hungry or until we were called or when the 9 o’clock whistle was blown at the fire station (at 9AM and 9PM every single day of the year the fire signal was blown 1 blast indicating it was, well, 9AM or PM. It sounded like a foghorn and was used by the local volunteer fire department to notify them if there was a fire somewhere, and they had to report to it or the fire station). You’d be surprised how far you could actually hear your mother’s voice carry around the neighborhood when she was yelling for you to come home. Then just repeat this process throughout the year for the most part. Winter didn’t stop her from throwing us out of the house either. There were snow forts to be built, snowball fights to have, and of course we could always convince her to drop us off at Black Mountain of Maine for an all day skiing adventure. Black Mountain would open at 8AM, we’d get dropped off with a bag lunch, and a dollar for a drink, and either my Dad would come up and ski with us later, or we’d get picked up in the parking lot at 4 when the mountain closed down for the day. There were some weekends where we’d ski all day during the day, go home for supper (remember the terminology), and then go back for night skiing from 6-9. Then in the winter also, there was the hockey rink in town. Yes, I was one of the rink rats in town. Same kind of deal. We’d show up there in the early AM to get the fresh ice (because the rink crew would have flooded the rink the previous night – meaning they resurfaced it). If you got there before the rink shack opened, you could play hockey the full length of the ice. We’d gather up the troops, go down there in the early morning (before 8 most weekends), and play hockey outside in the freezing weather with our friends until the shack opened up around 9 or so. By the time the rink crew got there, we were mostly frozen, couldn’t feel our toes or hands or bodies for the most part, but we got to play hockey for a couple of hours.

Summer brought out the bikes. Ride around town all day hanging out with friends, going to the arcade to play a dollar’s worth of games, riding around some more, making jumps, crashing, breaking bike parts (and sometimes body parts), and repeating day after day in the summer and the Fall, and the Spring. Summer also brought out the ability to go into the woods and explore. Since we had a big stand of trees in the back yard, it was easy to get lost out back as we called it. We could round up some scrap wood from the barn, build cabins, chop down smaller trees, and generally walk around. There was also the Swift River in the hometown. This was THE place to go swimming during the summer. The water was semi-fast flowing, but not dangerous for the most part. Just enough to make swimming in it interesting sometimes. It was always cool, even when the summer was really hot. You could jump in, feel refreshed, and explore the river. You could swim in the small rapids that dotted it. You could jump off the rocks that surrounded it. You could jump off the bridges that crossed it (well some of them you could). And this was all accessible to me a mere mile or less from my parent’s house for the most part.

The problem today is that most adults think that if they let their kids leave the sanctity and safety of their homes, they’re going to get snatched up at the corner before they even make it out of their neighborhood. Nothing could be further from the truth. Abductions of children are at an all time low for the United States right now since 1972. The numbers have been steadily decreasing since that year actually. Yet, parents are more afraid now than ever. Why? Media coverage. Sure, we get tons of news almost instantly these days, but is that a good thing? It’s good that we’re informed like that, but it’s bad because we’re informed like that. With 24 hour news networks, and the internet, any little news story gets put up there. There is no limit to what you can find out these days. None. So anytime a poor kid gets kidnapped, it’s high drama on the news networks. They get a lot of airtime for such things, because we as a nation, and the world in general, are suckers for stories about kids. Kid gets trapped in a well, there is a huge outpouring of support, and people get all weepy about it. Kid gets abducted, same thing. These are just singular cases, but you’d think that these bad things were happening with so much frequency that your children would never be safe in the big mean world out there, so the parents shelter them. Buy them satellite TV, computers, high speed internet, and X-Box’s and Playstations, and they keep them in their houses. Kids aren’t allowed to explore anymore, or make adventures for themselves. Sure, they can look stuff up on the internet, but then they don’t see and experience the real thing. They can look at pictures of mountains on the internet and TV, but wouldn’t it extract another measure of wonderment and excitement if you actually took your kids to a mountain and walked up it with them? How about just walking around your neighborhood (if that’s possible, because sometimes it’s not)?

I had to make my own fun sometimes, and a lot of times I complained that I was bored and that there wasn’t anything to do. Amazingly enough, I found things to do, and created things for myself to do. This lead me to experience things I don’t think I would have otherwise. I also think this lead me to be more of an individual. It lead me to be more of an independent person and thinker really. I now find myself not having to rely on anyone else to “create” fun for me, to NOT make me bored, I can do that myself. I think it also has created greater confidence in myself. I don’t have a problem going to eat at a restaurant by myself, or go to see a movie by myself, or basically to do anything by myself. I prefer to have company most of the time, but if none is available, that’s OK, I can make it on my own without too much trouble. There are a lot of people I know that can’t, and won’t do this. Is it because of upbringing and what they experienced as a child? Don’t know for sure, but I think that it has something to do with it for certain. How can this change? That’s a question for the people that do have children, not for me.