Tuesday, September 30, 2008


could there possibly be anyone more irrelevant to America these days?

I just watched his clip from this morning - totally pathetic.

Monday, September 29, 2008

more funny stuff

McCain's Voicemail to Palin Leaked to Press

episode IV - A New Hope

The Stockton Record endorses a Democrat for the first time since 1936.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

how is this possible?

On the plane to Wisconsin last week (?), I pulled out my Smartphone, on which I had loaded hundreds of megabytes of MP3 tunes. I thought I'd pass the time listening to something soothing.

Imagine my shock to discover that the output jack on my phone (which I had never used) was too small for the jack on my headphones, which I had successfully used on my iPaq (still for sale if you are interested).

In Wisconsin, I searched around on the internet and found various places selling a stereo 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm adapter for between $6 and $12. Then I stumbled on a site that only wanted $1.41 for the adapter, with no charge for shipping. Too good to pass up - I said to bill it to my PayPal account and forgot about it.

Today, in my mailbox, the adapter arrived and it worked perfectly. Now, here's the amazement factor - the package was mailed from:

Room 225-226, Block B
Focal Industrial Center
21 Man Lok Street
Kow Loon, Hong Kong

Yes, for the measly price of $1.41, someone in Hong Kong put exactly what I need into an envelope, posted it to my very own mailbox, and, somehow, made a profit.

What a world!

photos: Dylan goes to Ashland

Loading up my car, with his buddies.

Stopped by Karen's office, to say 'bye-bye'.

Just before I left, to drive back to Portland. We were standing on a slope, and all I could think about was the day my parents dropped me off in Baltimore before driving away.
Good luck, Bill.


this and spread it around.

Friday, September 26, 2008

debate 1

McCain was soft-spoken and his lies and distortions were delivered effectively. Too soon to tell if his condescending attitude will hurt him or endear him to a gullible public.

Obama was, as expected, eloquent and detailed, but I cringed every time he said "John is right" or "I agree with Senator McCain on that" - I'm sure the new McCain ads with those snippets are already nearing release.

Who won? It depends who you wanted to win. The big event is actually next week's VP 'joint appearance' (not to be confused with the notion of 'debate', according to the limitations which the Republicans, apparently, are insisting upon). Wonder who the GOP nominee for VP will be, by next week? Sarah, we hardly knew ye.

I think I will go upstairs and continue reading 'The Count of Monte Cristo'. The bodies are beginning to pile up.

nice video


Thursday, September 25, 2008

pretty darn empty nest

Tuesday afternoon, Dylan loaded his stuff into the car and the two of us drove to Ashland. It was a lovely drive (once you get past Cottage Grove) and we pulled in around 7. We checked into our B&B (where Karen and I stayed last year), then strolled into town (1 block) to have dinner at a pretty good Italian restaurant.

I had a pretty good martini (gin, straight up, with two olives) and Dylan, thanks to his beard, calmly had two Heinekens.

We got up early Wednesday morning and headed over to the SOU campus, for many hours of orientation (parents and students were split up after the first hour). It was totally reassuring, with the staff continually demonstrating their professionalism, good sense, and genuine desire to help students succeed.

It was a warm day. After lunch, I ran around town doing chores and getting various questions answered. Dylan was done around 2:30, and he was clearly getting burned out. Still, he was already making new friends (and even ran into a kid from his middle school), but we had lots to do.

We got him checked in and moved in to his prison-like dorm room. He requested a double (with roommate) and was assigned a double-room, but he has it to himself (until they need to stick someone else into that room). It took multiple trips to the car to unload everything, and we were getting tired. Did I mention it was pretty darn warm?

After that, we still had to visit the local Wells Fargo, to get my name on his ATM account (so we can make deposits and monitor statements up here), and then visit the Bookstore, where he bought his first pile of books (not an enormously large pile either, for over $200). That was the last chore.

We drove back to the dorm, got out, gave him a hug and told him I loved him and that he was going to be great. We asked an innocent bystander to take a photo of us, and I drove away, looking at him in my rear-view mirror, and thinking about my parents driving away, leaving me standing by my freshman dorm in Baltimore, in September 1969.

It was not a total good-bye, though. We spoke on the phone three times while I was driving north, as I tried to diagnose a networking problem on his computer (they have Ethernet to every room, but he couldn't connect - I think it's a firewall issue).

I was on I-5 at 4:30 and walked into our house in Portland around 9, pretty darn burned out. I drove 70-75 most of the way, except for the rain between Eugene and Albany.

The animals were happy to see me. Karen had left the house around 6 pm, to go to the airport. She is in Pasadena thru next Monday afternoon, so I have over 4 days completely by myself. There is plenty to do around the house.

It's all very mysterious.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Is it Game Over for humanity? If so, then it makes perfect sense that the Wall Street crowd's philosophy is to grab everything they can, in the hope that they can buy safety and security in their compounds as long as possible. Meanwhile, the rest of the world (i.e. the other 99%) should shut up and fork over everything.

In the words of Craig Carothers ("More for Me") :

The world is shrinking and I've been thinking
how ominous the future seems to be
everybody needs to make the sacrifice to simplify their lives
and that would guarantee

more for me; more for me
you think it's not fair? tell someone who cares, but who would that be?

more for me; more for me
give up what you've got, and there'll be a lot more for me

it'll be an adjustment but I've always believed
that everyone should give and I should receive
'cause there's so many people and it's plain to see
it would be best if you would take less and leave more for me

more for me; more for me
'cause there's never enough so fork over your stuff immediately

more for me; more for me
just give up what you've got and there'll be a lot more for me

you can have squat I'll have a lot more for me

the world is shrinking.

Isn't it ironic that the Bush crowd, instead of being remembered as War Criminals, torturers, and shredders of the Constitution, will be remembered as the Most Brazen Socialists in human history?

Monday, September 22, 2008

having a glass of wine

Life is full of surprises.

So, as you know, I got back from Wisconsin Saturday night. Yesterday, we did yard-work and laundry, and went to a weird play last night.

This morning, around 9:30, Dylan heard from Southern Oregon University, and he is accepted.

That means that he is packing today. Tonight is his last night in his childhood bedroom, before launching into a whole new life-phase. Ben is coming over for dinner (salmon, salad, veggies, bread, etc) so this will be the last family dinner until, at least, Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow, I drive him and his stuff to Ashland. On Wednesday, we register and move him into his dorm room (which was just guaranteed around 3:30 pm this afternoon - the final step to make this happen).

After I get him moved in, I will drive away, thinking about my parents driving away, leaving me standing by myself in Baltimore, in September, 1969. On that day, I felt, my real life was finally beginning.

I should be back in Portland by early evening, in time to drive Karen to the airport. She will be in LA for a few days, visiting Sylvia. For about 5 days, it will be just me and the animals in the house.

Pretty amazing, eh?

Oh yes, we leave for 3 weeks in Turkey, two weeks from today. Dylan will really be on his own. Ben will be on his own. The house-sitter will be on her own.

That's the news, except for a final comment about the Government's plan to save the failing investment banks. As heard on Randy Rhodes show: "this is not a bail-out; it's a stick-up". It's the Bush people making their final, total withdrawal from the public Treasury, before waltzing out of office, congratulating themselves with a hearty "Mission Accomplished".

It's all over for the United States of America. It was nice while it lasted. For some, it was incredible.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

more converstations from Assisted-Living land

Arrived back in Portland late last night. O'Hare was sure busy!

Conversation with Augie (95 years old - former pro bowler)

Augie: Time for me to go for a walk.
Me: Do you go walking every day?
Augie: Some days 2 or 3 times.
(more light chatter about this and that)
Augie: (pause) Well, I'm not getting any younger! (heads off with walker)

Another conversation with Mom:

Me: Do you remember So-and-So?
Mom: Yes - is she still alive?
Me: No, she died years ago.
Mom: (pause) I've outlived them all.
Me: How did you do that?
Mom: (pause) shredded wheat.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

the sounds of worms turning

The media is turning on McCain/Palin. I just watched the opening segment of 'Hardball', where Chris Matthews was brutal in his put-downs of McCain's positions and the statements coming out of his campaign.

And then there's this. Even the dyed-in-the-wool conservatives are realizing that the pickle we are in demands more than McCain/Palin/Rove can deliver.

All the poll-people say that, once mid-September passes, the majority of voters have pretty much made up their minds. Could this week be the turning point, that will carry us thru to November?

Of course, you can't discount an inevitable October Surprise. If I were a gambler, I'd sure place my bet on a White House announcement that Iran is about to do something very bad to us. This sort of thing has always worked for them.

But, this time, maybe the Media will take a moment to say "is that so?"


Maybe not.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

my 94 year-old mother, the comedian

Conversation overheard this morning, between my Mom and another resident at her facility:

Resident: Is that your grandson?
Mom: My son.
Resident: He looks like you.
Mom: That bad?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

an encouraging development

At my brother's house in Wisconsin, after a fun day of travel: one bus, two trains, and three planes.

Here's the surprise: the TV was tuned to MSNBC all night, not Fox, and the sweet sounds of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow filled the air.

There is hope, after all.

Monday, September 15, 2008

great Tom Toles cartoon


I leave at the crack of dawn (i.e. 6:30 am bus to the airport) to fly to Wisconsin, to see Mom and family. Back on Saturday.

Within the next couple of days, we should be hearing if Dylan got accepted to transfer to Southern Oregon University in Ashland. If he does, that means that I must move him down there next week, while Karen is in LA.

Stay tuned...

suggestion for democratic party leaders

In the spirit of "kick 'em when they're down", isn't this a great opportunity to put the "let's privatize Social Security" to death, by simply asking "aren't you glad your Social Security account isn't managed by Lehman Brothers or Merrill Lynch"?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

sunday morning

Up at 7 am, to sit on my back porch, watch the early morning sun on the tree tops, slurp my cereal, listen to NPR, and think how lucky I am to be here, not moving.

Starting in a couple of days is an extended month of continual movement, before I have another chance to sit on this porch and contemplate my back-yard. By then it will be almost November, and not nearly as green and mild as today.

Lots to do today - all fun.

Friday, September 12, 2008


check out this page of Obama-related t-shirts. It took me a second to realize that you have your choice of pro- or anti-Obama designs.

Capitalism: it's All about the Money!


Now that Sarah ("Don't Know Much about History") Palin has made it cool once again to look forward to the Final Days before Armageddon, I am reminded of something I witnessed driving around town yesterday.

It was a van for a local Heating-and-Air-Conditioning company, whose license plate was encircled by one of those metal holders that said "This vehicle will be unmanned in case of The Rapture".

Seems to me that they'd realize that some folks might be disinclined to depend on them for service, knowing that, in case the Fires of Hell really did arrive, reliable air-conditioning would be essential for those of us who were Left Behind.

We heard Susan Werner sing a great song last weekend, which lampooned sanctimonious Religious folks who criticize non-believers. I can't remember the entire refrain, but the final line was "Why is your Heaven so small?"

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Palin family values

Just when I was thinking that the pregnant daughter was the one blot on a spotless, upstanding family's record, now there are multiple reports that the Noble Son, about to head off to Iraq (Country First!!!!) was given the choice of the Army or Jail, due to multiple vandalism arrests.

Looks like, just as with Bush, John McCain is also developing a track-record as The (New) Decider.

Sisters Folk Festival wrap-up

What a fun weekend. We pulled into Sisters around 4 pm Friday and checked into our reserved condo at Black Butte (which we were darn lucky to find, after hearing all the motel owners laugh when I called them).

Karen's cousin Steven owned a vacation house at Black Butte MANY years ago, which we stayed in a few times - they sold it long ago and we had not been back since. After settling in, and realizing how tiny the room was (about motel-room size, with a teeny fridge and no microwave: $180/night), we got on our bikes and leisurely tootled around the lovely bike paths.

We biked by Steven's former house, and, seeing the front deck, I instantly remember sitting on that desk in the sun, with two toddlers, toddling around. 20 years ago!

We headed into town, picked up our Festival buttons and some dinner, and found seats in the Big Tent. We heard most of the Wailin' Jennys set (good stuff), then headed for one of the other stages, to catch two acts we were very much looking forward to.

We got to the mostly-empty tent, found seats right up front, and prepared to wait for the guitar-player to finish his set, to see the person we had come for, Susan Werner.

Turned out that Richard Julian was one of our biggest pleasures of the entire weekend. A fabulous guitar-player, with quirky songs that alternated between touching and hilarious. We were spellbound at his cleverness, stage presence, and musicianship. More later.

We were sorry when he had to leave the stage, but Susan Werner, who we had heard playing solo piano some years ago in Portland, brought out two lady friends and the three of them set the place on fire. She was magnificent, and her harmonica player astounding. The third woman, who had a lap steel guitar, was poorly miked as to be inaudible - she was clearly unhappy with the sound guy. More later.

Then, after Susan's amazing set, 3-Leg Torso came up. We had seen them before and I had just played a gig with Courtney, the accordion player, a few weeks ago. They were electrifying and the crowd clearly blown away by the musical brilliance and entertaining stage presence.

By then, it was after 11 pm and we were exhausted. Back to Black Butte.

Saturday morning, we drove over to the Swim Center for an hour of yoga, then to the Lodge for breakfast-with-mountain-and-meadow-view, then back into Sisters.

We found great seats in the Big Tent, and the 2nd act that morning was, again, Richard Julian. He did many of the same tunes as the night before, and they were still as enjoyable as before. The crowd was surprised and pleased. After he finished, I went out to the CD table and bought both of his CDs, and even chatted with him briefly.

We stayed in the Big Tent for the next 3 or 4 hours, listening to one musician after another. Our main interest was Rosalie Sorrels, who delivered a quiet, thoughtful set of songs by her old friend, the remarkable Utah Phillips (who died a few months ago).

We left the Big Tent and headed over to another stage, to see the woman who had had the bad sound, playing with Susan Werner. This time, the sound was perfect and Natalia Zukerman was joined by Susan and the amazing harmonica player (Trina? Tina?), and they were incredible. Natalia mentioned that her grandfather was a klezmer musician and her parents were 'classical musicians'. Indeed - her father is violinist Pinchas Zukerman! Karen bought her CD.

Long day by now, but the music and the scene was wonderful. A warm, clear day in Sisters, with well-behaved, enthusiastic crowds.

We discussed heading back to the condo (and perhaps a soak in the outdoor hot-tubs?), but inertia won out, and we headed back to the Big Tent area, where we grabbed some food and stood in line to get back into the Big Tent, for the evening show.

We got great seats again, and Susan Werner and Friends (yes, the same trio we had already seen twice!) played an incredible set, before the cheering throng. She was brilliant.

The headliner that night was Jesse Winchester, who I had vaguely remembered from the 60's. Now, he's the reincarnation of the archetypal laid-back southerner, and played solo guitar. I remembered two of his songs from long ago, and the rest were pleasant, touching/humorous little dittys. The crowd loved him, and, I admit, I was won over, too. He was simply charming.

Now, very tired, we headed back to condo-land.

Sunday morning, we packed up, checked out, drove into Sisters for breakfast, and decided that duty was calling back in Portland, and headed home. It was a long drive (got behind a couple of very slow RVs twisting thru the mountains), and, before we reached home, we had stopped at Lowe's (to look at sinks), George Morlan plumbing (to look at sinks), and two or three other chores.

It was great to be home. Nice weekend. Less than a month to Turkey now!

Friday, September 05, 2008

one month to Turkey Day!

No, I am not calendar-challenged. We leave for Turkey the night of Oct 6, and I believe I just made the FINAL lodging reservation, after months of unpleasant surprises, schedule changes, and logistical complications.

Not only that, but I wrote a detailed complaint letter to the tour operators, explaining how their many failures to communicate logistics and changes to policies had caused me to not only spend a zillion hours talking to Customer Service, researching alternatives, and arranging the details, but also had cost us approximately $500 more than expected. This morning, they wrote that they are giving us a $500 credit.

The system works.

We are off to Sisters around 1 pm, to spend a weekend there at the Sisters Folk Festival - staying at a condo at Black Butte. With any luck, nothing could possibly go wrong.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

God is sending us messages

First, He sends Gustav towards New Orleans, to let the GOP know that they have sinned and must pay the price.

Since they didn't get that message, and are now pandering to the wacko Right-wing God squad, He's (pronoun intentional) making it more clear now, by aiming the next hurricane at George Bush's (for now) house:

Meanwhile, speaking of messages...

a first for me!

my very first scam email in Spanish:

Me llamo . Me director adjunto de la empresa de .

Nuestra empresa seocupa en el desarrollo aplicado de la empresa, las sistemas integracionistas, las cadenas corporativas y otras soluciones de software para el negocio, las haciendas y otros tipos de problemas. Nuestra empresa esta situada en Ucrania. Gozamos de buena fama y somos los socios seguros y dignos de confianza. Trabajamos con exito con muchas empresas de la Europa Occidental y America del Norte haciendo el software seguro para ellos. Casi un ano trabajamos con los clientes de los paises extranjeros y no teniamos los problemas con ellos a excepcion de los terminos del pago. Transferencias financieras en sumas de 3000-20 000 EUROS van al Ucrania cerca de 3-5 dias + lo mismo termino para la comprobacion por el Banco. En total, junto con los dias de descanso, este termino puede ser desde 10 dias hasta 2-3 semanas. Ahora estamos trabajando con los proyectos grandes, que tienen necesidad de los inversiones grandes de dinero y no tenemos las posibilidades para esperar el pago tan largo tiempo. Por eso, en este momento estamos buscando los socios en su pais, quien nos ayudara aceptar el pago mas rapido. Si Vds. quieren ganar el dinero complementario, Vds. pueden ser los representantes de nuestra empresa en su pias. Vds. podran recibir 8% de cada transaccion, que realizamos con la participacion de su cuenta. Su trabajo consistira en la aceptacion del capital en la forma de los giros postales a su cuenta y la salida del dinerom a nosotros. Esto es un metodo muy comodo y rapido de recibir los ingresos adicionales. Ademas, estudiamos la posibilidad de la apertura de la oficina en su pais en el futuro proximo y entonces Vds. podran tener los privilegios de recibir el trabajo de plena ocupacion. Si Vds. tienen interes trabajar con nosotros, entonces, estamos en sus ordenes.

Pueden contactar con nosotros con ayuda de E-Mail:

y envien a nosotros la informacion siguiente:

  1. Su nombre y apellido
  2. Educacion
  3. Direccion
  4. Numero de telefono/fax
  5. Conocimiento de la lengua Inglesa
  6. Su edad
Por favor, respondan a nuestra carta y nosotros daremos los datos adicionales sobre la cooperacion. Este colaboracion no vale nada para Vds. , pero esto la posibilidad de recibir los ingresos adicionales muy comodo y rapido. Si Vds. tienen algunas preguntas, no tienen escrupulos en contactarse con nosotros.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

better and better every few hours


i'm lovin' it

Since the GOP has declared that a candidate must surely be held responsible for attending a church whose pastor makes 'controversial' comments, guess what?

I'm expecting audio and/or video to be hitting YouTube quite soon, and the MSM will surely not overlook this, right? The link on the HuffPost piece to the Pastor's recorded sermons is here. Better grab those files before they disappear!

Monday, September 01, 2008

hot off the presses!!!!!!

Consider this:

'Sarah Palin' is an anagram for Sharia Plan

The International Muslim Conspiracy is far more devious than we ever suspected! My brother must be right, after all.

a diverse weekend

We drove over to Lincoln City Saturday morning, to join a group of 6 others on a kayaking romp up the Siletz River and then out into Siletz Bay. Amazingly, it was timed with the approach of high-tide, so, for the first leg, all you had to do was point upriver, and the current hurtled us along.

Beautiful day - I was in t-shirt and swim-trunks. Once we turned around and headed downstream to the bay, the wind was a factor, and, out in the bay, we frolicked among the pelicans and sea-lions. The final push back to the marina, although the wind was at our backs, was tiring due to the swells. Fortunately, the organizer had made reservations at a wonderful restaurant in Depoe Bay, where we feasted on many wonderful things.

After a walk on the beach at sunset, we retired to our motel room, which I felt darn lucky to have been able to get. I slept like a baby - Karen, not so well.

Sunday morning, though, I had a life-changing experience - my first ever restaurant experience ordering off the Senior menu (55+). The waitress didn't ask to see an ID, which was disconcerting, but the portion size, reduced from a giant omelett to a smaller one, turned out to be just perfect. Uh-oh.

More shopping at the Outlet Stores, then back to Portland by 3 (stopping briefly at the Dollar Store in Newberg to buy a couple more pairs of $1 reading glasses). I see a trend here.

The, last night at home, we watched this sweet movie - highly recommended.

Happy Labor Day, everyone.