29 September 2005

Sick of it...

I'm kind of sick of the bickering going on back and forth with the Republicans and the Democrats really. For example. Tom Delay gets indicted this week on some possibly campaign contribution money laundering items that the Texas DA (who happens to be a Democrat) brings against him in a grand jury in Texas, and they hand down an indictment. Delay, instead of coming out and saying something like I never did that, we're looking forward to having our day in court so I can prove my innocence, and so on and so forth, Delay's response is something more akin to, "This is just Ronnie Earl attempting a partisan attack on me. He's a democrat with an agenda, and this is nothing more than partisan politics..." Or something of that nature, sure eventually he gets around to saying something about not doing this evil deed, or breaking the law, but the first thing out of his mouth, is the new way the Republicans attack things, and that is to not talk about the issue, but to immediately attack the messenger, and to try and discredit whoever is coming at them. Ronnie Earl the Texas DA who got this indictment, his current record for prosecuting politicians has been 15 people. 12 of which have been democrats. Hmm... Super partisan is he? Then of course the next thing out of the Delay camp when this is brought to their attention is that, well, the democrats that he's prosecuted have been politician enemies of his. This guy is obviously so corrupt, and so partisan and willing to take out anyone in his way, that the good people of Texas have kept re-electing him to the office that he currently holds for almost 30 years. Yeah, he must be really out to get people. Maybe the problem is, is that he gets the people or tries to get the people that break the law, and most of the people he catches breaking said laws are the ones who seem to think that they can get away with anything (cough, cough, Delay, cough, cough). Then along comes this guy and says, not on my watch mo-fo you can't get away with this shit just because you're some high falutent politician. And hey, look. If this guy doesn't have anything on Delay, The Hammer will have his day in court, he'll not get convicted, and then he can go back to being the miserable son of a bitch that he is. Let's face it. Tom Delay is a mean mean man in politics. He rolls over people constantly, and makes no bones about what he thinks his "power" is. I was watching Hardball this evening on MSNBC, and they of course had a guy in Delay's home Congressional region, and they were asking people what they thought of this whole thing. The only people who would talk on camera where the ones who only had good stuff to say about Delay, and one woman who had served on a past grand jury that said she thought Texas grand juries did a good job of deciding the facts, and passing down indictments. The guy reporting on the scene summed it up best though in that, he said folks around there were starting to get disenchanted with Delay, but they didn't want to say that on camera, or give their names because they were afraid that if he heard it, there might be repercussions against them. What the Hell? Where do we live? The former Soviet Union? Damn, that's scary if his own constituents think that he might come after them in some way, shape or form because they spoke ill of Tom "dumb ass" Delay, I mean, that's just messed up pure and simple. Going back to his crying and whining about partisan politics. Hey, Delay, you're not helping matters much by saying that, you're just making the problem worse, and or creating a problem that wasn't there in the first place, and driving a wedge further between the 2 parties by mouthing off like that. And of course, the attacks on Ronnie Earl have begun in earnest from the right wing side of the spectrum. I heard it all today on talk radio. Rush, Boortz, and the rest of the Republican apologists were out there slinging mud at Earl. Not once did they actually talk about whether or not Delay may have done what they said he did, or address the actual issue that one of the more respected (by the Republicans bear in mind) Republican leaders had been indicted on serious felony criminal charges. They were too busy crying about partisan politics, and how Ronnie Earl was "out to get Delay". Obfuscation, and attacking the messenger, 2 things the Republican party has been so so good at since Bush took office. So good.

These high level politicians these days, like Delay are like the spoiled sports stars that we have in the US. They think that they can do anything, and pretty much get away with it. And sorry to say, they're probably right. So whenever I hear about a politician doing something wrong, or illegal, and I just assume that there's a very good chance that they did it. They think they are Gods, and that they can just do this or that. Doesn't matter to them. I think that's why Delay is probably guilty as hell, and if he is, I hope they nail his ass hard, and send him off to federal "bang me in the ass" prison.

Anyway, time to head off to sleep. This cat is tired as all get out. Just needed to get that other stuff out there for this evening.

26 September 2005


I have to say, I'm quite happy that Tom "The Tornado" Boonen took the World Championships this year. He's the man, OK, aside from Ekimov he's the man. Boonen has been on a tear this year, and I have a good feeling that if he had not crashed out in the Tour and injured himself, he would have almost easily taken the green sprinter's jersey as well. He got shnooked in the spurts at la Vuelta this year, but I think he was biding his time, getting back some lost form, and getting ready to rip it in the World Championships this past weekend. I'm with my friend Graham, I enjoy seeing the World Championship race ripped apart, and just seeing shreds of people coming across the line at the end, but this was more of a sprint finish, although not a mass gallop this year like it was for Cippolini in Zolder in 2002 when he took out McEwen and Zabel in the sprint. No, this was more of a hard man's finish this year. A small group had torn away from the main field near the end of the race, and Boonen put his very strong Belgian team on the front to chase it down. The pace of the Belgians (most of his teammates being some of the top one day riders in the world) splint the group again, and with 600 meters to go to the line, Boonen was back in control. From there, it was really just a matter of who was going to take 2nd this year, of course, it was a Spainard. The Spainards man, they come with their game faces on for World Championships every year. They do bring their "A" game, and they bring their best one day riders. And it was no different this year, except for the fact that Oscar Gomez Freire wasn't able to ride the race this year. He's been sidelined with an ass problem this year, he's had some bad saddle sores, but don't count him out, he'll be back. He has won World's a few times already, and I can see another one in his future somewhere down the line. This year, all Boonen. Although I have a feeling that if Freire were there this past weekend, there is a good chance he would have been in the hunt at the end. Instead it was Alejandro Valverde taking a well deserved 2nd place. The 2 big names that were being kicked around as the favorites for this weekend, Alessandro Pettachi and Robbie McEwen were 20 some odd seconds behind the winner in the 2nd group on the road. When it got really hard, those 2 couldn't hang.

Let me tell you about Boonen. As far as races go this year, he has won what every young Flemish man dreams of winning. That's the Paris-Roubaix / Tour of Flanders double. He has proven himself as a hard man, as a classics man, and the Belgian people, they dig him, and I don't see his popularity with those guys dying down anytime soon, as long as he doesn't get busted for doping. He's what Frank Vandebroucke was supposed to be, and then some. And he's still young, he's still got a lot of time to go on the bike, and I can see a bright future for him down the road. Some don't like him because they say he's got an attitude, and to that, I say, I'd have one as well if I was as strong on the bike as he is. Damn straight. It ain't bragging if you've done it. The man could retire now, and still be considered a legend in Belgium. I like how he wins races. He can win from a sprint. He can win in a breakaway group. And most importantly, he can win solo by himself just throwing it down. He's done all of the above this year. A Tour de France he'll never win, but in the big one day races, the classics, and World Championships, count on it people, it's money in the bank, along with what I'm sure will be many stage victories in the grand tours held in Italy, Spain, and of course France. And, and most importantly of all, chicks dig him. He's got a Euro Hawk (the hot new look in European circles this year), and has been known to kick the mullet for fashion's sake, and he dates a Belgian model (are there such things?? I guess that there are). He's coolness personified, or at least he thinks so, and hey, he's got a good first name, I can't begrudge him too much.

The thing I can't stand with guys in the pro peloton though is when they "change countries" so that they can race World Championships. For instance, last year, Rebellin tried "defecting" to Argentina when the Italian national coach wasn't going to give him a place on the team. This year, Stefan Weseman has "defected" over to Switzerland so that he can ride World's. What the Hell guys? If you don't get selected, suck it up, come back and maybe get a spot next year. I can say this being American, because our best guys don't give a shit about World's for the most part, most of our best riders are done and sitting on the beach at this time of the year. I can't blame them for this, it's a long ass season, but damn, wouldn't it be nice to get another World Championship title back in the good old USA? Hell yeah it would be. We've had Lemond and Armstrong both win it, now who is going to do it now? Fred Rod was supposed to be in the mix this year, but he got spit out the back best I can see from the results. America's best finisher again this year was Guido Trenti, who is for all intents and purposes an Italian who rides for the US every year because one of his parents is an American, and he has dual citizenship, but actually races on a US license. At least he didn't "defect" to do this. He's always held an American racing license, and American citizenship, and damn, it's a good thing we have him, because our other guys haven't done jack shit. Our best one day rider hasn't gone to World's for a couple of years now. Now George "I need a sandwich" Hincapie, I love you man, but damn, get out there and ride World's for crying out loud, and go into it healthy for once. Damn son, you could do it. But anyway, I digress. It's just too bad that it's not a point of honor for a lot of these guys anymore to win World Championships like it was in the old days. Eddy and the boys, and others, they'd kill each other to win this one race of the year. Oh well, it ain't the old days anymore, no matter what Jason "The Fart Sniffer" Darden wants.

24 September 2005

He's back...

He's back everyone. Of course I'm talking about Slave Ekimov of course. This man, Russian hard man from the cold war era, fell off his bike during a training ride earlier this year, and broke his back, literally. Broke and or compressed some vertebrae in his freakin' back, and now, only a few months later, he's riding in the World Championships this year. Sure, he didn't win (he finished 26th I think) but damn, that's a comeback. He's already retired once in the recent past, only to come back, and be a key player in the Tour for Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service squad that year, and now, now he comes back from breaking his back, and he's riding at what is a high level once again. And of course this is after not racing much this year at all, because of the injury. There were lots of people who claimed that he was done after this fall and subsequent injury, but he's back. He's awesome, and his is without a doubt my most favorite rider ever in the professional peloton these days, and even in days past, he's still great. Make no bones about it, I'd have to agree with Jason that Sean Kelly is probably the coolest badass ever to ride a bike, but Ekimov, comes a pretty damn close second place in the badass category. If anyone says different, you've been smoking the rock my friend, the rock. Lay down the pipe and pay attention to what has been going on in the world of professional cycling. I hope that this guy keeps riding for years on end here. YEARS!!

He's been around riding, and being a hard man for years now. He can't stop himself. Ekimov is a cold war veteran. What can I say? I dig his style. Maybe it's his Russian sensibility and that I once rode a race with him in 2001 when he was hungover and had spent the night at a local Greenville, SC strip club with George "I need a sandwich" Hincapie. I saw him chase down a break by himself that had a 10 minute gap on the rest of the field. The rest of us just hung back, and went along for the ride on this one. We didn't have a choice really, nobody could pull through, we just had to hold on, and the group kept shredding as he kept the power down. Of course, as it came near the end of the race, he set his own little ambitions aside, and lead out the final sprint for the remaining 10 or so guys in the race to push for the line. I think that was really classy actually. He didn't contest for the win, not that he needed to (seeing as how at the time of this race he was the reigning Olympic time trial champion), but he could have won easily, but instead, shut the engines down, and rolled across the line last out of the final front group selection. I think that was seriously classy without a doubt. Hincapie was in the race as well, but I don't think he was used to riding/racing with a large hangover, so he pulled out of the race early, and rode around the course backwards for training. Of course, the 2 of them were stuck in Greenville that weekend because of the events that transpired on September 11th of 2001. They were supposed to be racing a big ass criterium in Dallas that weekend ($100k race in fact), but all air travel was shut down because of the terrorist attacks. It was the following weekend that Hincapie took the win at the first San Francisco Grand Prix, helped out, of course, by Ekimov. So I can say that I beat an Olympic gold medalist once, of course, he wasn't trying very hard, but hey, still beat him didn't I? Indeed. Just one of my many claims to fame. Another one is that one time, I spotted Stephen King when he was bench pressing at the Y in Bangor Maine. Yep, true story. I asked him if he thought that if I had dropped the bar on his forehead, would that make it into one of his books someday? He kind of nervously laughed, and told me that he had never thought of death by weight lifting equipment before. So bear in mind, if you're reading a King novel, and someone dies a horrible death by a barbell loaded with 225 pounds crushes someones head, that was my idea. If you see it, let me know so I can get some royalties for that one. I also met Cousin Balky (Bronson Pinchot) once from Perfect Strangers. Which was actually tied into Stephen King sort of. There was this woman named Amy Farris that lived across the hall from me in college, and she was interning at a local NBC affiliate in Bangor, and she got tickets to attend the world premiere of the Langoliers, and since she didn't have anyone to go with, she asked me. So I went. Cousin Balky was in the movie, and he was there, along with Stephen King again. Then again, actually seeing Stephen King in Bangor was in and of itself, not a big deal. We saw him all over the place in that town. At the grocery store, at the movies, at baseball games, at hockey games, at the symphony, and so on and so forth. That smelly pitted guy was all over the place. He definitely had his own stink, I don't think he believed in deordorant so much, but then again, he's rich, so he could pretty much do what he wanted to, and then again, in Bangor, nobody really cared much for the rich guys, we just let him do whatever it was he wanted to do. Nobody took really much notice of the man himself, which is something I think he enjoys.

Brushes with fame. Don't we all have them? Somewhere around the way, you always brush up against fame. I think that it's what you do with it when it does happen to you that defines you. And hopefully the regular obsession most people in the country have with the rich and famous doesn't infect you, and cause you to go momentarily crazy.

Gin and juice???

No fool, it's Gin and tonic, with a dash of lime juice of course, or just a lime tossed in there. Either one works. This is what I was drinking last night, late into the night. Somehow post dinner I was able to throw down 4 of thse tasty little gems. Sapphire blue gin, little tonic, squeeze some lime in there, or actually in this case, just the juice. Damn that's some good stuff. When did I turn into a Rat Packer though? That's what I'm really wondering over here.

Last evening started with a dinner in the SO's friend Jen's honor. It was her Birthday, or well, today is her birthday, so we got dinner last night for that little celebration. So Happy Birthday Jen! It's today. You know, to be honest, not really sure how old she is. I'm guessing 29ish? This is just basing this on how old the SO is. I assume that they are the same age, but I don't know, I could just be really really wrong. Anyway, I digress. Dinner started the evening, at a casual 8:30PM at this restaurant in Durham. I think the name was/is Saluda maybe? I can't remember actually. Well, whatever the place was, it was good dining. It took a little long for dinner to get over and done with, but it was worth it, the stuff this hippy is cooking up over there is delicious. Think Mario Batalli, except just a touch smaller. It did make me wonder who was doing the cooking though, as the head chef seemed to be walking around, working the restaurant a lot more than he was throwing food around in the back. So don't know who was doing the cooking for the most part, but whoever it was, it was damn good. I had this roasted tomato stuffed with risotto and some other things, some spices, and served with some fried okra, on some kind of cucumber sauce. Hot and cold mixed together well in this little infusion. Good stuff. I also had some fried risotto balls that they threw out there for an appetizer, and damn weren't those good as well. Deep fried, risotto, tomatoes, mozarella in there, all fried up. Good indeed. Reminded me of fried food night at Johnny and Maureen's house last week. Maureen whipped up something similar to it, and actually, her's might have been just a touch better. But then again, I'm probably biased because I know her, and not the hippy who was cooking last night. I was sort of surprised at the lack of people eating there though last night. It's a nice place, and reasonable in price. I think the location though, it's not so good. I'd go back for sure. We did have the curse of having a waitress who was there in her first night, which can sometimes be good and bad, but it appears that she didn't have too much experience waiting tables, so I'm more than willing to cut her some slack. Can't get stuff right like that the very first time. I'm certain that my friend Dahron could have taught her a thing or 2 about waiting tables, and flare of course. If you don't know what flare is, watch Office Space, you'll see what I'm talking about over here.

After eating, it was back to the old SO's basement apartment for drinks, a lot of which I seemed to have had, and desserts. The SO got some mini pastries from somewhere, and damn those things were good as well. Good for coming from Costco I would say. We had liquor galore. We had a lot more liquor than we really needed, but hey, that stuff doesn't go bad, so it can be used again, and consumed and can be used to get one another drunk again at a later time of course. Being people of "good taste" that we are (I write this as I sit here in a "Shocker" t-shirt) we had to get the expensive stuff to drink. Bottles of wine, good booze, it was a free for all. We only had a few folks come by post eating and such, and hence, the leftover stuff that we now have to deal with, and drink. I'm thinking another party sometime should be in order to get rid of the rest of the stuff that we have. There was also some good key lime pie. Mixing that with some gin and tonic was surprisingly not that bad. Kind of like when Paris Hilton guess starred on Saturday Night Live, she was surprisingly not that bad either, well, then again, I was kind of drunk that evening as well when she was on, so I am no person to make judgements on such things. I'd have to watch it again to make sure, but I think that watching it again might make the old brain fry, so I'll resist that certain temptation.

Then getting to sleep last night was tough as well. We had a black dog stored away in the back room in her hive/cage, but hearing us talking in bed, she of course woke up, and started whining to get outta the cage. Because if there is one thing that the black plague, otherwise known as The Bea loves is to be around people. If she hears people, she wants to be around people, and when she's in the hive, unable to get out, there is a lot of whining and crying to get out. This will stop eventually, but sometimes it takes an hour or so. This evening, it took an hour or so. And since her pattern of behavior is that she gets out of the cage in the morning, and goes outside for a pee and or some relief, she was up and ready to roll at 5 in the morning. Going to sleep at 2 or so in the morning, and then being awoken by a whining dog at 5, not the ideal situation. Oh well. We let her out of the cage, and she predictably jumped into bed with us, and then started crawling around. Which wasn't too bad as long as she stayed at the bottom of the bed, but of course, this only happened occassionally. I was driven out of bed around 8 in the morning, rolled back home, pulled the shades in the room, laid back down, and am now only getting back out of bed for the afternoon (it's like 1:50PM as I write this sentence). Another Saturday wasted. I needed the sleep, work week was tough, hard, and long.

Hopefully, I can get some more rest this evening, ride tomorrow, and get back on the old exercise train to fitness again. I need to. It's an imperative for me now.

22 September 2005

Did Jesus dig chicks???

So I was wondering about this today. Did Jesus dig chicks? I'm sure that he did, unless he was gay, not that there is anything wrong with that really. But seriously, he was a mortal man, sent here by his father, God right? So to me, mortal means, he was digging women at some point in time for certain. He had to at one point in time I'm sure. I mean crusing around J Town in his sandals, kicking some flowing locks, I'm sure that the women dug him right back. How come we never hear those stories in the Bible? This is what I'm looking for. I mean, the Bible rolls from the time he was born, right over to like the mid 30's or so. What happened during the time he was a kid, teenager, young man and so on? Was he a delinquent as a teenager? You know, rebelling against "the man", that being his Dad and all.. Hmm, makes one wonder doesn't it.

What about Jesus' brothers? Sisters? Did he have a ton of siblings. It's not like contraception was in popular use back in the day, and Joseph and Mary, well, they were married, I'm sure they engaged in intercourse at times, and probably had a few kids out of those bouts of sexual bliss.

I don't know, just some random thoughts running around in my head this afternoon/evening.

I do think that there might be something behind this t-shirt...

Ever have one of those days???

You ever have one of those weeks? I’m having another one of those this week, again. It’s kind of like Groundhog Day where Bill Murray keeps repeating the same day over and over again, until he gets it right (and by getting it right, that means gettin’ with the git down with Andie McDowell). It’s been like that the last few weeks for me for the most part. I keep coming into work, and it keeps being the same for the most part. I come in, work until well past the time I should be here, get nothing done, get further behind in other things I need to be doing, and then repeat the process and rinse. It keeps repeating, and repeating, and repeating again. Ah, the frustration.

Let me tell you about launching and starting a new program here at my place of employment. It’s a joke really, and probably the worst organized disaster that I’ve seen in places that I’ve worked. I’ve seen better organized clown colleges. We were supposed to run parts for the customer last week on Thursday. All of the machinery we needed to run said parts was not in our location, until Wednesday. Now, if you’ve never worked with moving machinery around and proving it off, you wouldn’t know that when you do this you prove off the machines first at the location that they are being built at. We didn’t do this because the machinery required was late in getting built, and we didn’t have parts to run through the machines to prove them off. Second, after you move said machines from where they were built to where they are going to reside (our assembly plant in Roxboro), you have to set them up, and prove them off again. I don’t care how good the machine ran at the place it was built at, you box it up, and move it, and then bolt it back down again, it’s not going to run properly. Now for most new programs, this is going to take you anywhere from 2 weeks to a month to get the machines up and running properly and completely. We had, ½ day. So of course, this didn’t work out so well. The customer got here, and the machines weren’t working at all. We looked idiotic. Tie into this that we didn’t have enough parts to build what we were supposed to build, late design changes, people who didn’t know what they were doing (me being one of them), and ineptitude out the wazzoo, and you have the mess and the trouble we ran into last week. This was compounded this week when we tried to do the parts run again, and failed, again… Time and again, I’ve seen in this organization the innate inability to get anything organized. Could I do better? I don’t know, but I’d like to think I would have at least all of the paperwork done for the customer when they walked in the door, at the very least, but we didn’t even have that. Matter of fact, I’m still waiting to get information from one of my team members that I’ve been asking for now for oh, 2 months! I still don’t have it. And now people are looking to me to create it, or conjure it up, or pull it out of my ass and hand it on over to them, and I can’t, because I don’t have the cursory knowledge of this product that others have, and are supposed to be imparting to me. Unfortunately, the so-called “experts” that are supposed to be teaching me don’t know jack shit about what they are trying to teach me. OK, not all of them, just one person in particular, and no, it’s not the other guy I was writing about before, although he is still a gigantic pain in the ass. It’s amazing. I’m telling her what to do, when it should be the other way around. I can’t stand it. When we launch a new program, we have what we call Advanced Quality Engineers who are supposed to do everything up until start of production. This one, hasn’t done anything, and I mean, nothing… Therefore, it gets dumped into my lap if we don’t want to look like idiots, although, we’re looking like it now.

Anyway, I digress…

Hopefully, I can bail on out of here in the very near future, and pick something else up, with a company that can do something right, because I’m starting to feel like, no, make that I know that these guys can’t seem to do anything right. They’re too busy talking about football games, cows, and other such nonsense. They’re also all too busy being “buddies” when they need to be co-workers. God forbid you upset someone you work with or have them do something that they’re supposed to be doing. The workplace here, it has become too touchy feely. Yeah, you should have professionalism, and tact when dealing with others, but when did it become déclassé to tell someone they weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing without getting hauled into HR because you hurt someone’s feelings? Damn… Imagine if there were an HR department in your house growing up. You’d be hauling your parents in there every other day. Now, in the workplace, you can’t tell someone straight up whether or not you think that they’re doing what they should be doing. You might step on someone’s toes a little too much, and hence, to HR with you. Damn it. I WANT someone to tell me when they think I’m not doing what I should be doing, so I can correct said behavior before it gets to be a problem. Or if it is a problem, I fully expect my manager to come and talk to me about it. That’s what happens. That’s what is done, but oh no, not here. I think that it’s most definitely a problem of the fact that most of the people that I work with here, all grew up knowing one another. There are a lot of people in-house here that have been friends for a long time, and have known each other since they were 2. It’s kind of like inbreeding, and meeting your future wife at the family reunion if you know what I mean. Anyway, the situation is messed up to the extreme ends. It’s not going to resolve itself anytime soon. I think that I most definitely need to get the hell out of here.

I need to get back to riding, and exercising in general. I’m starting to look like a large fridge right now, but I do have a lot of time to get ready for next race season. After reading Graham’s entry about possibly racing, I’m thinking along the same lines as he is. Do some racing, not my usual 50 or 60 races per year, although it would have been hard to do that this year since there seems to be a downturn in the number of races happening. But above all, have a good time doing it. That’s why I’m doing it. I’ll give myself one more season as a cat. 2 though, just to kind of prove to myself that I can ride at that level. I know that I can actually, I’ve done it before, and done it fairly well on certain occasions, so I know that I can. I just want to prove that to myself. And if next season goes badly, well, I’ll just get the downgrade, head back to cat. 3 land, and maybe take home a few dollars every weekend instead of shelling out. We’ll see. Hopefully, I can make the comeback for next season. I need to start working on things now though. I’ll just start riding a little at a time, here and there, maybe do some running, throw some weights around. It’ll be all good come March, I’m convinced of that.

19 September 2005

Cycling in America...

I have now found that the general population of America doesn’t care about bike racing very much, but this is something that most of us (who race bikes and or follow the sport) have known for years. Look people, cycling in America is about the biggest fringe sport that there is. There are things though, that give me some hope that folks in America can enjoy the sport. The US Pro championships that are held in Philadelphia every year is one bastion of light. Hundreds of thousands of people turn out to watch the guys and gals race every year. People line the route just about from start to finish, with of course high concentrations of people at the start/finish, and on The Wall (the big climb over in Manayunk that the riders have to scale just about every lap, and where most of the race carnage takes place). A relatively new race, the San Francisco GP is another one that draws crowds, but it has been in trouble. There are costs for local police that keep running up, the city doesn’t like to close down the streets all day, so as a function of this, they dropped their women’s race this year in San Francisco, which is another shot to women’s racing in America. Then there is the semi-local to me, Charlotte Downtown Criterium that they’ve had the past couple of years. I wasn’t able to go this year, but last year, there were about 20,000 people out watching the race, and with a prize list of $125,000 for the men, and $50,000 for the women, the racers turn out in droves for this one. Centered in downtown Charlotte, I can say that this is one race worth attending. They covered it live on local TV last year for the last 30 minutes, had overhead helicopter shots and everything. It was pretty sweet, and I can only hope that it continues.

The thing that does bring me down about racing is doping. I’m getting sick of hearing about it, sick of hearing about who is on dope, who isn’t, who got busted, who hasn’t gotten busted, and so on and so forth. Then the arguments start on the cycling websites that I frequent, and all too often, the news of cycling events going on around the world get drowned out by the doping talk. Most recent of course was Armstrong’s urine samples from the 1999 Tour were analyzed and found to have EPO in them. The test for EPO is in question, especially regarding 6 year old urine samples, and coincidentally enough, there is nothing Armstrong can do to defend himself in this situation, because the remainder of the samples used to “show” he used EPO in 1999 were used up in the testing, or they didn’t have enough left over to complete further tests on, and they were destroyed. Yeah, pin someone up against a wall without a way to prove their innocence, that’s pretty nice, and just follows along the French journalist path that has been to take down Armstrong ever since he started winning le Tour in 1999. Then there is Tyler Hamilton who is still fighting his blood doping charge in the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) just last week from a year ago. On one hand, I hope he gets off, I seriously do. On the other hand, if he was cheating, then he should be thrown to the wolves. Everyday, there is a new doping story, and everyday, you have people arguing for and against the accused doper. It’s an endless stupid cycle, and essentially, I want clean sport just as much as the next guy, but can we just report on the races, and have doping as a side note? Doping in cycling has been going on as long as there has been professional cycling, and it will continue forever I’m certain of that. The pressure to perform for most of these guys, too high, and they will do what they need to do to remain in the professional peloton. In America a lot of times, if you compete in cycling, you’re most of the time, a little more well off than the common person, you are most likely upper middle class and or higher. In Europe, cycling is seen as a way for the lower class folks to get off of the farms, and break out, and possibly make some money and not have to work menial jobs and labor for the rest of their lives. It’s a way to crawl out of poverty for them. So, they will do what they need to do to remain a professional cyclist, and to remain on a team, and to get paid possibly a little more than their brethren working in a factory in Europe somewhere. Even then, a lot of pro cyclists don’t get paid too much money, and seldom will they have health insurance or other benefits that normal workers might have. This plight for American pros is even worse. You can have a pro team in America and essentially “pay” your riders little to nothing. Let’s just say the vast majority of American pro riders don’t make a livable wage riding bikes for a living.

I still love it though, still love it especially on the local level that I compete at (well, not so much this year, but in year’s past and all). I still love being on the bike, I still love hanging out with the people that I’ve met over the years, and still love the sport itself. I do get disillusioned with all of the talk of doping, and we’ve even had a few cases of it on the local level in North Carolina. One of my teammates got busted for it last year, though he maintains his innocence, and he doesn’t have the cash reserves to prove his innocence, so he is serving a 2 year suspension. Another guy from Chapel Hill, Randy Dreyer got busted for taking diet pills, and is also serving a 2 year suspension. While I sort of feel bad for my former teammate, Dreyer, good riddance. That guy is an asshole of an unimagined magnitude. I have never in my life met someone so cocky and such an asshole that there is nobody that I personally know that likes the little sawed off bitch. And that’s being nice. But I digress, him not being around for 2 years is a good thing indeed.

Where am I going with this? Don’t know really. Next season, I’ll be back riding and racing again, and I hope to “get the band back together.” Meaning, we’ll start getting more folks to come out and race with us again, as Jason has promised. Get people to take road trips on the weekend, and just get a large group of folks together to hang out with, goof off with, and have a good time again. This year, a lot of that was lost, and even the year before. People falling out of the sport, moving away, and doing other things with their time. Used to be that we’d all roll down to some races, and we’d have 3 or 4 hotel rooms all next to each other, people jam packed into them like sardines, and telling jokes, farting, watching TV, making fun of one another, especially making fun of Curtis, and just generally have a great time. That’s been lacking, and maybe we can get some of it back. The camaraderie, that was the BEST thing about racing in the past, and I hope it can be like that again, because I miss it. I still love racing, but having the friends and people around, well, that was bar none the best part of the weekend. I could have bad races, but having good people around, that more than made up for it. Maybe we can get Graham, Jason, Joel, Scott, Matt, Jeremy, Jason Mc, Johnny Wall, Steve-O, and others to come on back out. I’m sure that I can convince some of them to get back out there, and I think that would make a huge difference, besides, they miss it, they just don’t know it.

18 September 2005


So I went to Raleigh last night to get Cuban food with the SO, and then to take in a local theatre group performing The Taming of the Shrew by locals named Burning Coal ( http://www.burningcoal.org/ ). They're a local Raleigh group, and to tell the truth, at first, I was sort of skeptical that it was going to be any good at all. My fears, allayed after I saw their performance last evening. It was just damn good is all I can really say about it. They did a great interpretation of a classic tale. I had never seen Taming of the Shrew, but of course, some sadistic high school English teacher always made you read Shakespeare when you were there, and there is no comparing it to seeing it performed really. This is something that English teachers should do if they're going to try and actually get high school kids interested in Shakespeare, pick a good performance, and take them to it, make them watch it, because seeing it, so much better than just sitting at your desk in a smelly high school classroom with an ugly old wrinkled English teacher telling you to read it to one another. It just doesn't translate as well, or at all for that matter. I think we need to get more culture in the country in general, but we aren't a society that will take that in much, or at all. We are too, gimme gimme gimme, and don't want to take the time to sit down, watch a performance of something great, and then maybe talk about it. We like small sound bites, and reality TV. That sucks. There are so much better things to do out there. Looking at the performance schedules for the BTI Performing Arts Center in Raleigh, there are a lot more things I want to take in this year, and probably will. I'm willing to bet that when I go to a symphony performance, myself, and the SO will be the youngest people there, and that's just sad. Because even if you're a punk rock kid, or a metal head, or even someone who digs on just regular old pop music, there is something in classical music that you can get into. Classical music is complex, and there are just layers upon layers of tones, flow, and stuff that one who appreciates music can just take in. Who doesn't like music of some sort? There is something in there for everyone I'm telling you. Check it out if you get a chance, most cities have a local orchestra that plays, and I'm also willing to bet that it's cheap to get into, and that there won't be too many people there in the first place. Culture people, culture...

Reading another friend's blog earlier today, he was talking about NOT being that Patriotic. I think he's got his terms confused personally. You can love your country, and not agree with a lot of things that they are doing. That's Patriotic. I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said, "Being Patriotic is being in opposition to tyranny." So whether we're talking about another country, or possibly your own government, I think you can be Patriotic in different ways and means. You don't need to be rah rah go USA to be Patriotic. Just trying to influence someone, or believing in something, and following your beliefs, that could be Patriotic. Graham, you're wrong, you are Patriotic, just in a way that's different from what's generally believed or perceived.

Why is Sunday morning TV so bad? The only thing that I can find to actually watch right now is Drop Zone, with Wesley Snipes. God, it's a bad bad movie. You don't even know how bad until you've actually seen it. Just take my advice on this one, don't watch if you can avoid it. Although, it's either this or Sunday morning church services, I'll take this. Since I'm a heathen and all. Well, agnostic, not heathenistic. I can't stand the Sunday morning preachers on TV though, talking about sin, talking about retribution, talking about how righteous they are, and at the same time, asking for money, asking for this, asking for that. As Bono once said, "The God I know ain't short of cash mister." Televangelism is horrible, and should be outlawed. Go to your local church, they're probably doing good works out there somehow. Whether it's feeding some local homeless, or taking people in, caring for old folks, and so on. Most churches are doing good things. Now, I don't or won't go to church these days, but I believe that there are good folks in church, and for the most part, they care about their fellow parishioners, and their local community a lot. No doubt about it.

15 September 2005

My Friend Jason...

My friend Jason, also known as, The Fart Sniffer (I'll explain later) has started a new blog this week. This is so that we can shame him into riding his bike and getting back in shape, and this is not such a bad thing. I can see where he's coming from on this. The guys who ride and race and work (unlike Chad you mo-fo) find it very hard to be motivated enough to ride enough to be competitive when you are racing the bike. So, hence, his blog, and his need for admonishment from the rest of the world when he's been bad, and praise for when he's been good. Now I'm just waiting for the before and after photos.. Now that would be something. Check out Jason's blog at the following:


Oh, it's worth checking out, just for the mere fact that Jason is possibly the funniest man alive (except for me of course). The man has more stories than just about any 4 people that I know, and hell, you can have an entire conversation with him, and not even have to say anything. Throw his brother Joel into the mix (funny that we both have brothers named Joel, but I digress), and there is enough energy to light up the freakin' Chrysler Building, no, really. I once drove to a race with the 2 of them and myself in the car, well, OK, more than once, but this one time it was post The Chad's wedding, and I was hung over from drinking too much beer, and skinny dipping in the pool at all hours of the night. I almost drove off the road heading to Morganton because the 2 of them were at about 13 on the Spinal Tap scale (as anyone who is in "the know" knows, their scale only goes to 11). Of course, on the way home, they felt the need to both fall asleep, until we got to Hooters, at which time, they were fully awake. Burgeoned with beer and bad food, they quickly fell back asleep. Joel once shit his pants in the back of my car though, and that was funny, but I digress once again.

Jason, we call him the fart sniffer for the simple reason of, when he lets one fly, he makes sure to waft it to his nose, and then pass it along to whomever is daring enough to sit near by him wherever he might be. Usually, it goes along the lines of, "Ooh... Oh God." Wafting action of the hand to his nose, and then, "Joel. Dude. Seriously... You've got to get a whiff of this!" At which point Joel will exclaim, "Oh gross Jason.. Here. Give me a smell." It's sad that I find this funny, but I can't help it. It just is.

I'm hoping though, that we can get the band back together for next race season, and have fun. Before, it was about hanging out with the fellas, riding bikes, making fun of people, and doing a lot of dick and fart jokes. This year, it's just myself and Chad, and now, just Chad, because I cut off racing early. Hopefully, everyone gets back together, and we have a posse once again.

12 September 2005

I sometimes hate my co-workers... Well, just one actually...

I hate tattletales. I say this, because I’m no longer in kindergarten. Didn’t anyone’s parents teach them that it’s not nice to “tell on people” or to “tattle”? I mean, damn, it was one of the best episodes of the Brady Bunch when Cindy learned her lesson about tattling from Mike and Carol. It does seem though, that we might have a problem with this at the place I work at. There is one guy in particular who seems very good at it. His name will be withheld to save the guilty from further incrimination.

Essentially, here is what happens. This person is responsible for doing something. He consequently, hardly ever does what he is supposed to be doing. Nobody is actually really sure what he’s doing on a daily basis, and there are some days when nobody can find him at all. Is he at the Alamance plant? We don’t know. Is he at the Columbia plant? We don’t know. Is he at the Roxboro plant? We don’t know. Is he at the Durham office? We don’t know. There are days, and I do mean DAYS where he’ll disappear, and nobody can find this guy. Calls to his cell phone go unanswered. Calls to his office voicemail go unanswered and unreturned, but then, he’ll just pop back up. Sort of like that bad penny that nobody wants to have in their pocket. Now when this person doesn’t complete the job he is supposed to be doing, we like to call him out on this. Which in turn makes him really defensive and snippy. For instance, last week he was supposed to write up this paperwork for me. I of course asked him for it. He told me in no uncertain terms that A. It wasn’t his job to be writing up the paperwork I needed (it actually IS part of his job) and B. He didn’t have the time to do this writing up of paperwork anyway. In a checksheet that I have created for the items I need and for the people assigned to them, I wrote in the “notes” section of the list (where I describe either what the hold up is, or if the tasks have been completed) that, “Packaging engineer stated he did not have time to complete the packaging standard required, so QE will complete the paperwork). This of course did not sit well with him, because the other 10 people on the list can now see what a slack bastard this guy is. He of course predictably calls me, and categorically denies that he said he didn’t have time to complete the paperwork required. I know better. So not only is he a slacker, but he’s also a liar. I talk to my boss in a pre-emptive move, and tell her that this guy will probably be calling her. Sure enough, a short while later, an e-mail comes through to my boss, copied to me, from him talking about how there were mistruths on my checksheet (that nobody of consequence saw) and that I was being unprofessional in my actions, and blah, blah, blah… Essentially, him trying to cover his ass because as everyone around here knows he doesn’t do jack shit. It’s not uncommon knowledge, but he’s allowed to get away with a lot of shit, and nobody seems to care. What can I do about it? He also tattled on another co-worker of mine because she talked to him in a semi-raised and “gruff” voice as it was stated. And by tattle, I mean, he turned her into HR, and this other co-worker of mine had to go and sit with someone from the HR department and be lectured to that if she needed to talk to him again, they should do it behind closed doors, lest someone else hear that he’s not been doing his job again. So in an effort to keep this individual honest, anytime I have a problem with him, or need him to do something, I will be copying his boss on any e-mail that I have to go back and forth with him on, that way, there is some oversight as to what his activities are, and how he does them, and or IF he does them (which is the biggest question really). I’m sure he’ll have a problem with this, but I’m at the end of the caring line of things. Funny thing is, is that he’s sitting behind me right now doing something, when he’s actually supposed to be in our Columbia facility. See what I mean?

This is the lowest common denominator of person that I know. One who can’t handle his own business, but yet has to try and blame everyone else for his failings at work. I’ve also noticed that the people who talk the most during meetings when you ask them a simple yes or no question, are the people who are not doing what they are supposed to be doing, and have to try and explain a yes or no answer. This guy does this. For example, “Mr. X. Did you finish the Ford required paperwork for the packaging.” Mr. X responds, “Not yet, but it’s because the Ford packaging engineer hasn’t given me the specifications that are required for the packaging and even if he did give them to me, I wouldn’t have been able to do it because I need this, that, yadda, yadda, yadda…” When an answer to a question becomes a long soliloquy as to why you can’t actually answer the question, well, you’re shit out of luck there, because the asshole answering said question doesn’t know his asshole from a hole in the ground. I also hate it that someone calls you “unprofessional” when he in fact does the same stuff. Meaning, if you have an issue with me that you don’t think you can resolve with me, then yes, by all means, contact my boss if it is impacting your job performance. I would expect it then. But if I do something that has no impact, and you just have an issue with it, take it up with me, no need to get “bosses” involved if they don’t need to be. If we can’t resolve our issues, take it up a level. Until that time though, let’s just leave it between us. I can’t stand it when people talk shit about you to your boss when they don’t need to. I always make efforts to keep someone’s boss out of it. I don’t copy people’s bosses on stuff between 2 people who are the same level. What the Hell??

Bottom line, this guy sucks. The co-worked of mine that got hauled into HR purgatory last week because of him, is probably one of the nicest, most Christian woman that I know. She doesn’t hate anyone, or dislike anyone. Except for this guy. Her direct quote is, “I know everytime he opens his mouth and or starts smiling that he’s about the start lying again.” That says it all. A man who has an excuse for everything. He’s doomed. I’m out to get him now. Even indirectly. I’ll make his life a living hell at work if I can, and I will. I can find a way. OK, maybe I won’t, but his boss will know every little mis-step that he makes from now on though.

06 September 2005

Job searching...

Well this weekend I finally decided that it was time to start looking for new work around where I live instead of driving for 45 minutes one way every single day. This has been going on for more or less 4 years now, and I'm really done with. Luckily, I have a decent resume, and have a good chance at getting a job at The Park, and of course when say The Park, that means the Research Triangle Park which is like only 10-15 minutes from where I live. This is much better than the current drive that I have, so much better, but thus far, recruiting folks don't s seem to know what you mean when you say you want to work around the Triangle location of NC. So far I've had offers of interviews from Colorado (which wouldn't be bad really), Minnesota, Wisconsin, and a few other locations nowhere near North Carolina. So what's the deal with these people? Do they have reading skills or something like that? Or can they read at all? I don't know for sure. This is what happens every single time that I try to use recruiters to find a new job, and it never seems to sink into their skulls that when you say NC, you mean NC, and nothing else. And then these guys get pissed at you for not wanting to take the money that they're offering you to work in some strange and exotic locale like Missouri. They just don't get it. I guess, the upside to that, is that there are other jobs out there should I want to move somewhere or sometime in the near future, or far future, but really, right now, I don't want to move. I like it here in Chapel Hill, NC, and in NC in general of course. It's a great place to be living. But the recruiters, they don't so much care about what you want, they're more in it for what money they can get out of placing you somewhere. And by placing you, I mean, they will bend over backwards to get as much money for you as possible, because they'll get a cut of whatever it is someone signs you for. This is the one good thing about recruiters, is that they will try to get you as much moolah as possible. But if it's not in the place I want to be? What's the good of making a ton of money? It's no good at all. We'll see what shakes loose of course. I have sent out a few resumes thus far, haven't really heard back from the ones that I have sent out, but I can keep hacking away at it.

Work has been too stressful lately. Too much to do, and not enough people to do it. Which sucks. The whole quality department is pretty much overworked, and taxed out to the maximum ends of insanity, so I might not be the only one looking to jump ship, although, I would be the first one in awhile to bail out if I can find something new and interesting. There was an aerospace quality engineering position that I put in for, but chances are good that the position I sent a resume in for has already been filled since it has been open for awhile now. I haven't heard anything back from them yet. But then again, it's only been a day or so since I sent in a resume to those guys. Aerospace would be sweet indeed. Working with planes and stuff like that. Hells yeah. Something I've been geeked out about for a long time, airplanes, then I could work with them, it would indeed be very sweet. I hope that those guys call back, but I'm not holding the proverbial breath on that front.

I've got 10 years in automotive quality, and it's starting to burn me out I think. Quality is kind of a rough business for the most part. Because for the most part, anytime someone is calling you, they're calling you to yell at you, because you, or your company did something wrong, very wrong. Sometimes parts break, and sometimes things are just a little bad, but for the most part when something goes awry, the customer wants blood. And since most of the guys I deal with at the customer end of things are old fuddy duddy's that work the incoming quality sector at most Big 3 automakers that I deal with, these guys have been there for a long ass time. And when these guys have been there for a long ass time, they get bitter, and then they get mad, and then you give them a little bit of power, and or influence, and next thing you know you've got a guy who knows nothing about your parts telling you how wrong they are, and how you're going to be paying out the nose through it. Sure, this doesn't happen all of the time, but a lot of times, it does. Interestingly enough, these things don't happen with Japanese manufacturers, no sir. This only seems to happen with American automakers. Why? Like I said, they don't really care about the quality of the parts, they just want to seem bigger than someone else and want to show you how much power that they have. I've hung up on guys before, because they've been so irate, and so rude with me. I mean really, there's no need to be dropping f-bombs to your supplier, no matter how bad they might have screwed up, and well, it really gets nothing accomplished, because people don't respond very well to that I think. At least I don't. I've got the back from my plant manager about things like that though. He has told me that when someone does start acting like that, to forward them onto him, and he would take care of it. So far, I've only had to do that once with this one guy who wouldn't let me talk at all, but instead, decided on screaming a string of expletives at me that would make a sailor blush. So I had to pass that asshole off. Then, my plant manager hung up on him. The dude called back, started yelling again, and my plant manager hung up again. So this calling and hanging up went on for about 45 minutes until the guy at the far end decided that indeed, maybe he was wrong on this one, and apologized, and then we started getting something done. As far as my plant manager goes, this is about all he's good for. The management at my business is horrible. I mean, some of the worst that I've ever seen, but I digress, they're good people, but they'll run this company into the ground at some point in time.

I mean, for instance, I've got a boss that takes 1.5 hour lunches, just about every single day. She'll also take, on principle, days off to take her kids to the zoo, take her kids on field trips, take days off for the first day of school, the last day of school, and so on and so forth. This woman has had so many days off this year, my vacation days in comparison, pale as compared to how many days she's taken off for just "kid" reasons. Hey, I don't have an issue with her being there for her kids and all, but damn woman, come to work once in awhile as well why don't you. This theme continues throughout the company. There are people in the office who take a lot of time off to deal with their kids and all. I mean, my parents had 5 kids as well, but I don't remember them ever taking time off like that and getting away with it. But then again, there is the difference between people who are on salary, and people who work hourly. And let me tell you, the folks out on the floor see this, and they are pissed about it, and they should be. For instance. Snow days. Kids are out of school, people in the office will bring their kids to work with them (this pisses me off spectacularly), and people on the floor either have to spend money to have someone babysit their kids, or they stay home with them. They can't bring their kids into work with them like the people in the office can and do. That shit has got to stop. I have said things about it before to aforementioned plant manager, but nothing gets done about it. I try to speak for the folks on the floor, because they don't dare to say anything for fear of losing their job. It's messed up really, really messed.

See what I mean about how the company is whacked?

Now, ask just about anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you that I'm a fairly quiet guy. I like to do my work, stay quiet, stay focused, and get things done. The guy who sits to the left of me though. Damn, that guy is a talker. He'll freakin' talk about anything at all. Shit like, "How you doing today (which doesn't sound bad, but after the 14th time during the day it gets wearing)? Don't make me open up a can of whoop ass... What's going on?" And just on and on and on and on and on, it drives me crazy I'm afraid. CRAZY!!! There are days when I want to strangle that mother fucker. Seriously. Then he does this other very annoying thing, which is he'll print out these outrageously long files on our crappy printer, that doesn't work too well anyway, and he'll jam it up, and then ignore it like he never printed anything out. This will happen 2 or 3 times per day for the most part. Then he'll run the paper out of the printer, not replace it, so it's sitting there blinking for hours or so saying, "PC LOAD LETTER" and either I have to do it, or Larry does. And the shit that he prints out, well, 9 times out of 10, whatever it is he's printing out, doesn't need to be printed out. Wasteful, and annoying. The perfect combination. He'll also say stupid shit like, "I don't mean to be mean or anything, but..." Or, "No offense, but..." I believe if you're starting a conversation with either of those 2 sentences, you're going to end up pissing someone off for certain. He just pushes it, and pushes it, until we have to actually yell at him to shut the hell up, or we're going to start throwing things.

Yeah, that's what it's like at work for me almost every single day. No wonder I take "sick" days every once in awhile. I don't feel bad about it either. Not one bit. OK, sometimes I do, but lots of times, no way in Hell, especially since my boss takes so many undocumented vacation days of her own. Just a few weeks ago, she mentioned that the vacation time she took back in August was the first vacation time that she had taken all year. Um, yeah, right... Sure, whatever you say. Completely insane she is, completely.

I've complained enough for one night. Almost time to hit the rack, and sing the "Bed" song. If you're lucky, someday, you might hear it, but I doubt it.

Gene Simmons is a moron...

I heard something very laughable today on the radio driving into work. Well, I heard several funny things on the way to work, but one that struck me as especially funny was the story folks were carrying about how Gene Simmons of KISS fame was decrying how the talent pool in the music business has gone way down hill, and especially in the rap music business. He went on to state how you didn’t need any talent to be a rapper at all. Here is a link of what he was saying:


It’s also funny to me that a man who has no talent whatsoever, and is more famous for having a long tongue, and wearing make-up is saying this. I mean, have you listened to KISS’ music ever? It’s so non-challenging and formulaic that it’s borderline pathetic. KISS has been a band with a gimmick ever since they started. Their gimmick was the make-up and the costumes. Essentially, they’re just a stripped down version of Gwar, who is actually more musical than KISS by the way ( www.gwar.net ). KISS made their millions on playing bad music, and wearing make-up, and having people wonder what they looked like under the make-up. They haven’t had a good album in I don’t know how many years. They were so pathetic when they took off their make-up, that eventually, they put it back on, and went back out on the road playing the same old songs that made them famous, and gave up their new stuff. This is in the form of The Rolling Stones, and other famous rock acts that have sucked over the last 20 years, but people are still willing to shell out $50 or more per person to go and see them because they’re known as rock gods (for some reason, not because of their music). KISS needs to hang it up, and get off the road. They suck. They’ve always sucked, and they always will. There is really no other way to put it than that. Gene Simmons and his ilk are so egotistical that they believe that the world revolves around them. I’d love to meet the guy and laugh in his face. I’m sure he would be aghast that someone would do something like that to HIM. I guess, just in general, I have a problem with how we view celebrity in this country, and in the world in particular. I just don’t understand, personally, why people get all goo goo over someone famous coming across their path. Maybe it’s the New Englander in me, or maybe because I’ve seen my fair share of famous people, but have rarely been impressed by any of them. There are of course people who bring a certain charisma to their fame, and have a certain presence, but for the most part, the common pop celebrities don’t have it. Gene Simmons, and the other members of his band, they don’t have it. They don’t have it at all.

Why is it anyway, that the people who have the money to get “things”, are always the people who will get the free stuff? Take for instance the schwag bags that they have at awards ceremonies that they give out to celebrities when they show up. Some of the things in those gift bags are worth immense amounts of money. Instead of lavishing celebrities with free stuff that they don’t need, and can afford on their own, why don’t they donate the money they were going to spend on these self absorbed folks to some charitable foundation? That’s what I’d do if I had an awards ceremony. It could be like that Seinfeld episode where George didn’t want to shell out money for office Christmas gifts, and instead gave everyone cards saying that he donated money to “The Human Fund” in the name of the person he was supposed to be giving a gift to. But instead, in this case, the awards people could actually give money to a charitable organization. Any celebrity who came out and said something negative about that, would be painted an even bigger asshole than he or she already is. It’s all upside for the awards people. For instance, I heard that this weekend Beyonce Knowles had her birthday party with 1000 of her “closest” friends. Among her gifts were a 2.5 million dollar ring (a freakin’ ring people!!), and a 650,000 dollar watch. That’s some bling. And some stupid bling to say the least. Would you actually wear something that expensive? I doubt it. And damn isn’t that self centered. I suppose though, if you’ve got it, and want to spend it, far be it from me to tell you what to spend it on, but I’m pretty sure I could think of a few other things to do with 2.5 million dollars, and buying a ring wouldn’t be very high on the list of things to do with that amount of money. I can tell you that. I have heard though, that in the past, certain celebrities like Keanu Reeves, when presented with extravagant gifts, and high dollar gifts, he’s sold them off, and given what money he’s gotten from those things to some sort of charitable organization. Now that’s being a pretty nice guy. And even though he doesn’t have very much acting ability, he seems like a stand up guy. We need MORE celebrities like that I think. But then, if they were all like that, I wouldn’t have anything to gripe about. So maybe it’s better that celebrities suck at life so much.

A note about the Republican spin machine. It appears that it is in full swing. Instead of taking responsibility for responding slow to the Katrina disaster in the deep South, they’ve decided to attack the cities, and the leadership of the cities that have been very outspoken in their criticism of the Bush administration. You’ve got to love Karl Rove. When someone says something bad about you, make sure you attack them as soon as possible, even if they’re right. By the time the attackee’s respond, it’s too late, the credibility gap is there. This continues even with the hurricane tragedy. Just once, I’d like to see the Bush administration step up and say, yes, we messed up, and here’s what we’re going to do to fix it. Instead though, we get, “The Mayor of NO is responsible for not getting all of the people out.” And so on and so forth. Then again, I’d have to believe that Bush actually believes that he has never been wrong, and that he hasn’t made any mistakes. Easy to do when there are people all around you telling you what you’re doing is absolutely right, absolutely correct… I hate yes men and women.

04 September 2005

Make that 2...

Alright folks, make that 2 Supreme Court justices that Bush gets to nominate now. Rehnquist has died. I'm not so sure what this means right now, because it could really change the face of the nation for years to come if Bush can pack the court with highly conservative judges, which is almost sure to happen. He has Roberts already, and now he can replace Rehnquist. I'm not sure what to think of this, except for, we're probably screwed.

The SO and I were discussing how many changes have taken place in our country, and in the world in general over the last 5-10 years, and it looks like this trend is going to continue with the appointments that are coming from the Bush administration. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that Bush is going to get the nominees on the court that he wants. He has a Republican Congress, and there is very little to stand in his way of placing who he wants on the bench. The Dems if we want to block someone, we're going to have to filibuster, which might make the Republicans pull out the famed "nuclear option" to remove the possibility of a filibuster, and to place whatever nominee it might be onto the floor of the Senate for a vote. This is going to get ugly my friends, very very ugly. I don't know what to do about it, and there is probably very little that I CAN do about it. I'll have to write my Senators, but that is going to do very little since both of my Senators are Bush "yes" people and they just step in line with the others, and vote "how" the Republicans are supposed to. Bush nominations could change the face of law in this country for 30 or more years. Things that we've had in place for a long time now could be taken back, freedoms we've been given, and rights that we've gained, they could be swept away in a short amount of time depending on who gets on the court, and when. I'm kind of scared about this. OK, not kind of scared, but really scared.

What's even stranger though is that with the Chief Justice now gone, the news cycle has changed from hurricane Katrina to the death of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Yes, it's important that he's now gone, and there is a battle to come for sure about who is going to replace him, but the folks suffering down in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, that's the real story I'm sure. We need to move coverage back to this as soon as possible. Which I'm sure that it will, I'm hoping that it will. What is going on in the deep South is the most important thing going on in America today.

I read something on a newsboard that I post on from a guy who is in the military, and he has said that the reason we couldn't respond to the disaster in a timely manner is that Rumsfeld has basically taken the military down from what it used to be and outsourced just about everything he could think of to private companies. He's taken away our ability to transport within the military itself, and placed it into the hands of his cronies like Halliburton and others who stand to make a significant profit from their friends being in power. I even read a news item this morning that said as much, that Halliburton has been sub-contracted out to help with hurricane relief. When will the corruption end? What is with these no bid contracts going to these contractors? I don't get it. I don't get it at all.

This is labor day weekend. A long weekend. Thank God. I think myself, and pretty much everyone else that I work with need this long weekend so that we can unwind, and relax for an extra day. Things have been at the highest stress levels that I've seen at the joint in a long time. Plants are closing down, we're taking in their business, we're starting new programs in a short amount of time, and things are rolling incredibly fast, and we're going to get caught underneath it unfortunately. We have too many things to do, and not enough time or people or resources to do them unfortunately. We're going to get screwed on some of the things that we're bringing in for certain, just because we're starting late, and we're starting way behind. I would love to have a different job right now, and bail out. I might just have to look around a bit this afternoon while I'm sitting here watching TV, and not doing much of anything else. Wireless internet. Isn't it the best???

02 September 2005

Dentists and McDonald's...

I once wrote about vibrating razors, but now I also have a vibrating toothbrush to go with said vibrating razor. I think vibrating implements are the new hot thing this year, or at least they seem to be. I know that powered toothbrushes have been around for a long time, but this one is self contained. Meaning, there is a non-replaceable battery sitting in the toothbrush handle, with a simple on/off switch, so basically, when the battery runs out, you replace said toothbrush. It’s good stuff, and I actually believe that it works better than regular. My teeth and gums feel cleaner, more fresh, and I don’t get that awful sweater tooth feeling like I normally would mid way through my regular day. Instead, the teeth seem to stay smoother and cleaner throughout the day. Good stuff. Oral-B. What a company. Dentists love Oral-B. I wonder if they get paid off to SAY that they love Oral-B, or if they’re just provided some samples of their products, and they find them to be the best. Don’t know how the dental pay off business works, but I’m sure there is some kick back to dentist’s offices using their products, and or supplying them and recommending them to their patients. Back in the good old days when I felt like I was at the dentist like 4-5 times per month, that’s what they used to give me to brush the tooths with. Oral-B stuff. Dr. Kivus and Dr. Marcus in Auburn Maine. I’m pretty sure Dr. Marcus is most likely dead now, as he was pretty old when I was really young. Dr. Kivus I heard ended up retiring here recently. It’s funny how dentistry has progressed from just the time that I was say, 10 or 11 years old to where it is now. When I was younger, I’d roll in there, get the choppers cleaned up, and the dental hygienists wouldn’t wear masks, wouldn’t wear gloves, and would just stick their fingers into people’s mouths bare handed. Same for the dentists. That was just how it was “done” back then. Fast forward to now. You go in for a cleaning, and you have a fully masked, caped, and gloved hygienist working on you, and this is a good thing. It’s not like there isn’t a lot of blood and bodily fluids rolling around in people’s mouths during a regular dental visit and all. Now that I think about it, I can’t believe that they didn’t use protective measures even then. What are you going to do about it now? I smell class action lawsuit. Nah, just kidding. But I could see that happening to those guys. It’s not like blood born pathogens and other bad things weren’t known to dentists even in the early 80’s/late 70’s.

I had so much dental work done when I was a kid. I jumped off of a stage on roller skates, lost my footing, and snapped out my 2 front teeth. That was a few trips down and back for that one. Amazingly enough, I only had to have work done on those replacements 2 times since I was in 6th grade, and one time was completely avoidable. That was the time I was at a party at St. Michael’s College in Winooski Vermont visiting my friend Kathy over St. Patrick’s Day. When you’re at an Irish Catholic college, they tend to party fairly hard during St. Patrick’s Day. This was no exception to the rule. We were awoken at like 8AM by one of her friends with beers. Go forward about oh, 16 hours, and many beers later, I’m at a bar, with people I don’t know, on a campus that I’ve never been on before, and I have lost my friend Kathy somewhere along the way during the evening. I’m walking around meeting people who I will never remember, drinking a beer, when someone smacks into me. Not on purpose of course, but I was walking around drinking a beer, and it was crowded, just a simple bump, which of course was enough to knock the bottle into my 2 front teeth, and knock out one of the replacement nubs. And then I swallow it for added measure. The other time, same replacement nub, I was eating some Cheetos when I was in high school, and it just fell out. Both times required more reconstructive procedures to be done to my mouth. I’m sure my parents paid 2 arms, and 3 legs for my dental care. Then there were the braces, the repeated visits for braces adjustments, retainers, more visits, and so on and so forth. By the time I was a senior in high school, all of the work was done and over with. Since I’ve been in college, I don’t go to the dentist too much. Last time I went was when I had my wisdom teeth yanked. Is it any wonder I don’t go much anymore?? I think I went to the dentist enough when I was a kid to cover me throughout the remainder of my life. Over the years I’ve had the braces, I’ve had 8-10 teeth pulled, I’ve had retainers, I’ve had reconstructive tooth repair, I’ve had cleanings and manhandlings by technicians, x-rays, and on and on and on. It’s truly not a fun experience anymore. I guess in Seinfeld parlance, I could be considered an anti-dentite. It used to be OK when I was in school, because I could get out of class. For some reason, we had to drive an hour away from where we lived to go to the dentist. I never knew why, but that usually meant a stop at Burger King in Auburn on Center Street, because we only had McDonald’s at home, and compared to Burger King, they suck. That was our “special treat” for going to the dentist, lunch at Burger King. Good stuff. What’s funny though is that in the fast food nation that we are now, if you go to Rumford Maine, still the only official fast food place in town is McDonald’s. Nobody else ever came to town. There aren’t any fast food joints in Mexico Maine, well, except for Subway, but they don’t count I don’t think. Oh, and there is a Dunkin’ Donuts, but that doesn’t count as fast food either, because that’s just some freakishly tasty breakfast items and coffee. We never had a Burger King, a Wendy’s, or any other burger joint, just McDonald’s. And I used to work there.

Yes, it’s true. I used to work at McDonald’s in Rumford Maine. We had these awful brown pants we had to wear and horribly maroon colored shirts. The pants, on everyone not just me, were way too tight, and were high water style. And I mean, they were this way for everybody. It was some ugly color combinations there. In a bit of rebellion, I used to wear regular clothes to work, and then change when I got there. I say rebellion because I seemed to be the only person who did this. When I started working there in 1988/1989 I was 15 years old, and I made, wait for this, $3.75/hour. When I finished working there, I was making a whopping $3.90 (after 2 pay raises). Working for McDonald’s was like working for the Gestapo. I swear. If you even had so much as a minute or less of downtime, there was a manager yelling at you to clean something, or to arrange something, or to re-stock the cups, or get some water, get some ice, and so on and so forth. You got time to lean, you got time to clean they would say. This is Rumford Maine though, not what I would call the busiest McDonald’s in the history of the world. There were times where there was NOTHING to do, when you hadn’t seen a customer in hours, and the old retired folks who frequented the joint would complain because you didn’t make their free coffee fast enough. I do have to say though that with this management style, that place was freakin’ spic and span all of the time, which is something I never see at fast food places these days. We had to clean the bathrooms once per hour, or more if someone complained about them. And I mean clean. Mop the floors, brush the toilets, clean the stainless, clean the sinks, the urinals, and so on. But yeah, the place was spotless. There was a bit of a power madness throughout the management staff there though, as for the most part, the managers were kids who had barely graduated high school and were most likely to be given swirlies, yet here they were in a “seat of power”, and they were going to make good on it, and make everyone else around them miserable. McDonald’s, the place for cheap minimum wage labor, and for workers to be looked down upon very much so by their bosses. It’s classic low wage work conditions. Except you’re 15-18 years old, and for the most part, in a job situation, you just do what people tell you, and don’t know what to expect (as lots of times it is your first job), and probably won’t stand up for yourself. There is always a thumb on the back of your neck from The Man. But then again, it paid for my Bon Jovi / Skid Row concert tickets, so it couldn’t have been all bad.