Ashdown press release: 08/31/06

Ashdown Statement on Bush, Hatch Comments

SALT LAKE CITY, UT--Pete Ashdown, Democratic nominee for the US Senate in Utah, released the following statement in response to the comments of President Bush and Senator Hatch today at the American Legion Convention and the fund-raiser.

"First of all, I welcome the President here. As I have said before, I wish the President would come here more often and more Presidents would come to Utah. However, I believe the President is wrong when he says that Orrin Hatch is doing an effective job for Utah. I believe Senator Hatch has done good things, but has not represented Utah well in the United States Senate and that I would better serve the people of Utah. I represent a Utah that wants to win the war on terror, but does not believe that freedom itself must be sacrificed on the altar of freedom. I believe that our rights to privacy, to free speech, and to dissent are not negotiable and our sacrificing them is not a necessity to achieve victory. I believe that our national dignity should not be compromised by those who believe that torture is sometimes acceptable, as my opponent does.

"I believe the people of Utah and the United States want a clear plan to win the war in Iraq: I present that plan. That plan is simple: let the Iraqis vote on how long they want the US to stay, then do what they say. If they vote for us to leave, then the military has a mission: within sixty days, move to friendly countries such as Kuwait and Qatar to prevent Iranian invasion until the Iraqis can stop it on their own. If they say stay, then there is a mandate. Whether the result of this vote is a mission or a mandate, both should be executed with maximum transparency to the American people and the rest of the world. Another US President, John F. Kennedy, who faced similar challenges, stated in the Salt Lake Tabernacle: '...men and nations will pursue a variety of roads, that each nation will evolve according to its own traditions and its own aspirations, and that the world of the future will have room for a diversity of economic systems, political creeds, religious faiths, united by the respect for others, and loyalty to a world order.' We must give the Iraqis the opportunity to evolve, and a referendum on our involvement will allow this. The President is wrong when he ignores all the polls on Iraq. There is only one poll that should decide the Iraq policy in the war on terror; that is the ballot that the Iraqi people themselves should cast.

"I believe the people of Utah and the United States want to get off foreign oil; they do not want to pay $3 or $4 or $10 for gasoline, especially when most of that money goes to dictatorships and oppressors. They do not want mercury poisoning their fish and fowl; they do not want to see our beautiful valleys clouded over with toxic smog. My opponent does not want to see America end its addiction to oil; he wants to push us into the false hope of oil shale. The majority of Utahns believe that government should take a stronger role in lowering energy emissions; that can only be done when we balance our energy policy. That means no more tax loopholes for big oil and more incentives for wind, solar, geothermal, and research into nuclear fusion.

"I believe the people of Utah and the United States want to have health insurance, but too many of them do not. We learned Tuesday that 46.6 million Americans, over a million more in a year, were uninsured in 2005. In 2005, the number of Utahns without health insurance rose by over 5000. My opponent believes that tort reform is the end all be all of health care reform; I agree reform is a good idea, but it is not enough. As someone who actually runs a business in Utah, I know that tort reform is not enough. Senator Hatch's own Health Care Task force recommended that Congress should 'Establish a national program that ensures coverage for all Americans.' I will fight to do that; Senator Hatch will not.

"The people of Utah have a choice this November. I will fight for democracy, independence, and prosperity for all Utahns and all Americans. The opposition is someone who will fight only for those who can pay $500 or more for influence. My door is open now and will be open throughout my term in the Senate. My calendar is available for anyone to see and will stay that way. I have pledged to: uphold democracy; have open and honest government; fight for fair elections; encourage fiscal responsibility at my own expense; and stop nuclear testing. The people of Utah deserve a new Senator, for a new century."

Busy news week

Interesting to see the coverage of the Whitehouse Rock and Roll Tour. The Salt Lake Tribune ran a picture of Bush this morning making him look like a cross between a Curious George and Gollum. Deseret News ran the headline: Bush Wows SLC Crowd. (Should have been : Bush Wows GOP Crowd.)

The TV and radio news ran interesting quotes as well:

Rocky, at the rally he sponsored: We're here because it's time for us to tell our government to get out of this immoral and illegal war!! Give us the truth!! (repeat as needed.)

Heard at the We Love Bush rally: We are here because Bush is a great president, he's going to protect us, he's going to teach us how to protect ourselves, and he's going to help us civilize the entire world!!

So, my question is this: Are we paying Bush to civilize the whole world, mostly against their will?

I swear, that's the most egotistical thing I've heard in the last 25 minutes.


I heard that last one on my way to the office this morning, and I almost drove off the road. I also laughed outloud when they showed Bush getting off his flying limo last night - Hatch and Bennett, standing there, poised to plant their lips firmly onto the ass of the Commander, and Chief warmonger. And they couldn't have been more proud to do it either.

Pied piper.

On a loosely related note, Economic Census data has been released. Highlights:

Forty percent of the 20% lowest income recipients live in the South.(p17)
Thirty two percent of the highest 20% income recipients live in the South.(p17)
The number of uninsured, 46.6 million (15.7%) is the highest in US history.(p30)
Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured population, 24.6% of Texans.(p34)
36,950,000 people live at or below the poverty line.(p53)
8.3% of White, Non-Hispanic, Households are below the poverty line.(p55)
24.9% of Black Alone Households are below the poverty line.(p56)
11.1% of Asian Alone Households are below the poverty line.(p57)
21.8% of Hispanic Households are below the poverty line.(p58)

Seems this country could use a little civilization right here. The middle class, upon which the government depends for the vast majority of its revenue, is quickly dissappearing, right before our eyes. Meanwhile, the Federal deficit spirals its way toward 9 Trillion. With a T.

And this just in: (hat tip to SLCSPIN, and The Utah Amicus)

Thank You Pete Ashdown
Feed the hungry

Ashdown holds a "feed the hungry, not the politicians" event, in stark contrast to what Hatch and Bush are doing at lunch time today:

Fundraiser: More than 1000 Wealthy Republicans will pony up $500 a plate to attend.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT--Pete Ashdown's "Feed the Hungry, Not the Politicians" dinner collected $8370 for charities in Utah and nationwide. Remarking on its success, Ashdown said: "Once again Utahns have shown that they are the most charitable people in the country, and I am just very excited about how many people opened their hearts and pockets to help our needy families." The event, personally financed by Ashdown, mainly benefited four Utah charities that deal with hunger in Utah; the charities' only involvement will be receiving the individual contributions.

In short remarks to the crowd, Ashdown touched on today's Census Bureau report on poverty in the United States. "In the richest country in the world, we have one in eight Americans in poverty; we can do better than that, both as a state and as a nation." Playing off a presidential slogan, Ashdown said "To truly leave no child behind, they must have the energy to make it through the day." Ashdown applauded President Bush coming to Utah, and wished there would be more presidential visits to the West. However, Ashdown added that: "Each time the President has come to Utah, he has banged the drums of war. I would hope that there would be a time when he plays the pipes of peace."

Custom Order Your Slut Now....

In my email this morning....

I didn't realize you could custom order your slut. It's like driving down the hooker street, but in your fuzzy bunny slippers with your morning cup of coffee in your hand.


Jordan School District

I wrote earlier about people trying to dip into the Jordan District School District share of property tax funds....

Then I heard on the news yesterday that Jordan District had to hire more than 500 new teachers for this fall, mostly because of attrition, and they haven't filled all the positions. They are finding that prospective teachers are being contacted by more than one potential employer, and most of the time, Jordan comes out on the losing end of that stick, because they don't pay as well as other districts, as is outlined well in the comment section of the above link.

So there are at least 17 substitute teachers who are filling the void there until they can find more teachers to hire.

But let's ask them to give up some money for a soccer stadium.

The Airbrushed Anchor

It seems that CBS is taking some heat over releasing airbrushed photos of Katie Couric, who joins the Evening News as anchor on September 5th.

In May the network released the unretouched photo, and then it was used again in another campaign very recently. Comparing the two it is obvious they are the same photo, and it's equally obvious a dude with Photoshop got jiggy with the Katie photo.

Diet by photoshop.

OK, so gimme a break - I've been overloaded today... no time for any real THOUGHTFUL posts....

Shut up and sit back down.



Reflections... too much information.

There are times in the year when we take the time to reflect on the past year... New Year's, Spring time, birthdays, the start of the school year.

September is an interesting time around ThatOneHousehold. Both ThatOneWife and I have birthdays in September, six days apart. That time is separated with other ThatOneKid September birthdays as well, and is book-ended by a ThatOneDaughter birthday on Aug 28th, and by both of our fathers' birthdays in October.

This time around it is a bit more interesting than most. ThatOneFamily, in case you weren't aware, is a bit of a Brady Bunch Home on steroids... we each brought four kids to the mix, rather than the three we usually think of when we talk about the Brady kids. (and yes, I would give my left nut to have that lovely mid-century modern house we all grew to know as kids - although, my left one is shooting blanks these days, so there's not much value in that proposition.) Sorry - that was probably too much information.

Anyway, it's the INTERIOR that interests me, rather than the exterior, which never matched the interior shots... Again, Probably too much information.

I digress.

This year, ThatOneWife is blue, because her youngest just started Junior High, and the oldest daughter, heretofore referred to as ThatOnePrincessDaughter, has just started her Freshman year at USU. Her oldest has been out on his own for about 14 months now, and the other daughter, ThatOneOtherDaughter, is a ninth grade SBO and is, reportedly, growing boobs measured "by the minute" (ThatOneWife's report, not mine).

My oldest is at the MTC, and the middle two (twins - "thing one, thing two") are high school juniors, and the youngest has just begun fifth grade.

So, all of this is to note that ThatOneWife feels old now, when taken in conjunction with the idea that we celebrated her 40th birthday LAST September. However, most people think she looks 31, an opinion I happen to share.

For myself, I do feel the years sometimes, but, as with most males, I suspect, it's only a fleeting thing, and then it's off to look at boobies from there.

So, this post is to tell ThatOneWife that I think she is wonderfully beautiful, lovely, fun, and not old, like she thinks. She's my best friend, and I am looking forward to doing the things we want to do as our kids grow and move on to their own things. She's the smartest person I know. She's my hero, my buddy, I can't imagine how I survived for so long without her, and I can't imagine being without her now.

Happy birthday to us both.

And speaking of Stefi Graf

We caught the last couple of sets from Andre Agassi's first match from his last US Open last night. Pretty convincing win, but a dramatic match for a first rounder. Mr. Pavel probably didn't realize he would have to play the entire city of New York AND Andre Agassi all at the same time.

"I pity the fool" who has to play him next, Baghdatis.

Should be an interesting second round on Wednesday night. It would appear that instead of the actual US Open, it's the Andre Agassi Rock And Roll Farewell Concert.

And Stefi was looking mighty fine for a mommy. She got plenty of camera time. Hell, she was looking mighty fine, period.



And on a lighter note: MEME's

What is it with the meme's going around the blogosphere? It seems there are themes for everything from "half naked thursday" to "friday five", to "long live Chuck Fridays" to "100 things about me", and all points in between.....

I just saw an interesting one here... "The Interview", where you tell someone to ask you five questions of their choosing, you commit to putting them on your blog, before the questions are submitted to you, all for a chance to do the same to someone else...

So, in keeping with "MEME day", here's my list of lovely hotties with whom I would most like to be stuck in a hotel room... in no particular order

Keira Knightley
Sandra Bullock
Lara Flynn Boyle + 25 more pounds
Demi Moore
Jennifer Connelly
Diane Lane
Cheryl Crow
Tea Leoni
Meg Ryan
Stefi Graff
Penelope Cruz
Gabriella Sabatini

Mrs. ThatOneGuy will tell you that there are probably others, but now you know. Bonus points if you know who that last one is....

What the "looney left " did...

So I've had three different posts written and linked up every which way from Sunday, but didn't post them. Instead, I offer you, "What the "looney left" did."

It all comes from the idea that protesting at the legionnaire's conference is not the responsible thing to do. Mayor Rocky has organized a little rally/protest again, "Rocky II", and there are those who think it's unpatriotic. While I think the Office of the Mayor shouldn't be involved in this (and I know, before you all send me your hate mail, he hasn't used his office time, or office email, etc... ), I think a protest is in order, but I agree with you that Rocky shouldn't be the one doing it...


Some say that, regardless (or "irregardless" for you Utah County folks) of who is doing it, a protest shouldn't be part of the convention/Presidential visit this week. I disagree. In fact, I disagree so strongly, that I will go so far as to say that not only should there be a protest, there should be impeachment hearings scheduled. There are those who say that we shouldn't be wasting our time on impeachment, there are those who say we should simply let the electoral process take its course. Horse-apples, I say! What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Near the end of 2005, Democratic members of the judiciary committee called for a select committee to investigate "those offenses which appear to rise to the level of impeachment." By March 06, 26 house members had joined that cause. There are also at least two books published on the subject - one called "Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush", and the other called, "The Case for Impeachment".

Why all the furor? It's simple - with revelations of Bush's domestic spying program -- and the president's unrepentant insistence on continuing it -- former Nixon White House counsel John Dean called Bush "the first president to admit to an impeachable offense."

Why would we NOT want to impeach a president for breaking the law, committing crimes, lying, and insisting that his unlawful actions will continue?

Why would we not want to do this when we were so gung-ho to impeach a president for a simple, harmless sexual indiscretion less than a decade ago? (and by harmless, I mean "from a national leadership" perspective. Whatever you think, morally, there weren't any state secrets divulged or national security breached.)

Again, the answer is easy. The Republican government was elected on moral grounds, by morals-based voters. By doing so, they have essentially agreed to flush away any fiscal/legal responsibility in favor of having what was termed as a "moral man" in office.

You get what you pay for, I guess. Because while we have a "moral man" in office, he's shown a base dereliction of his duties in almost every other area, and some might argue that dereliction extends to moral issues as well. But he's kept his pants on - and that's GREAT. Those who WOULDN'T argue that way are the "ultra-right" uber-conservatives who were responsible for his election, and are now calling the note due.

At the end of the day, the history books will be/already are written thusly, taken from the official www.whitehouse.gov web site:

Regarding President Clinton:
"During the administration of William Jefferson Clinton, the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history. He was the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term. He could point to the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country's history, dropping crime rates in many places, and reduced welfare rolls. He proposed the first balanced budget in decades and achieved a budget surplus. As part of a plan to celebrate the millennium in 2000, Clinton called for a great national initiative to end racial discrimination."

Regarding President Bush (II):
"Since becoming President of the United States in 2001, President Bush has worked with the Congress to create an ownership society and build a future of security, prosperity, and opportunity for all Americans. He signed into law tax relief that helps workers keep more of their hard-earned money, as well as the most comprehensive education reforms in a generation, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. This legislation is ushering in a new era of accountability, flexibility, local control, and more choices for parents, affirming our Nation’s fundamental belief in the promise of every child. President Bush has also worked to improve healthcare and modernize Medicare, providing the first-ever prescription drug benefit for seniors; increase homeownership, especially among minorities; conserve our environment; and increase military strength, pay, and benefits. Because President Bush believes the strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens, he has supported programs that encourage individuals to help their neighbors in need."

Up until very recently no republicans have voiced the idea that maybe impeachment is warranted. Some who don't go that far still decline the offer for the president to come and stump for them in their state in an election year. It would seem that toeing the party line has become less and less atattractive and more and more costly to the mainstream Republicans, and they realize that the party has been hijacked by these ultra-morality factions within the party. There's MUCH to read out there on this concept.

This isn't your father's republican party. Not by a long shot. Many of you just don't realize it yet, because you're scared to look too hard, it might force you to act in a way to which you aren't accustomed.

The time is now for republicans to drop their loyalty to the party in favor of their duty to the constitution. That was the argument during the Clinton impeachment hearings - duty to the constitution.

Republicans, where is that duty now? You've succeeded in flushing the good name of our country, nation, government, and ultimately, our personal/national reputation down the world toilet.

But he kept his pants on.

So yeah, the looney left is trotting out the vitriol, the idea that there are protests to be held, impeachments to be had - what's good for the goose.....

Let the hate mail begin - you know you wanna...



So it seems the happy couple, Tom Dolan and Dave Checketts, are teaming up to meet with the Jordan School District in October to ask them to please give up some of the money the district gets from property taxes, so they can build their stadium.

No taxpayer money, but we can just get it from the schools instead.

Because Utah schools are apparently rolling in money. Stashed in desk drawers and in cafeteria cupboards, I guess.

That sounds like a GREAT deal. If your name is Checketts.

Am I the only one who thinks that sounds like a salt-laden breakfast cereal?

I'm just sayin'.

#250: Guess the Legs

OK, you can't guess the legs, and it's not what you thought, is it??

These are the legs that belong to Ron Boone, Utah Jazz color commentator, retired player. He hobbled in to the office to get his taxes done upstairs - the tax guy upstairs from us does several of the Jazz players and staff. Did you know that they have to pay state taxes on money earned at every "away" game they either play or broadcast? That can't be fun - and it's gotta be a nightmare for the tax dudes too. That's a lot of 1099's.

Anyway, have you EVER seen a former/retired player (who played a full career) who is able to WALK, as opposed to HOBBLE?

He has a GNARLY 10 inch scar on the outside of his left knee, and it obviously still hurts. He almost winces every time he steps on it. Obvious limp. It's been this way every time he comes in here, at least for the last 3 years... I've also played golf in a group behind him too... same thing... hobble.

Seems there is a price for the bling and glamour of sports... I doubt they talk about that much when you're negotiating the first contract out of college. Kickin it at the crib with the ice-pack, not with the Tu-Pac.

I'm just sayin'.

249th Post: Time for house-cleaning

249 posts - believe me, I'm as surprised as you are....

but anyway, I thought this would call for a little clean-up. So here are the main things:

1. LINKS. I stole a few bytes on the company server to dump links - now there is everything I choose to share... roughly 25% of the total, and I'll rotate them in and out on occasion. Check that out on the right side over there...

2. BLOGS I read semi-regularly... This is a partial list of the stuff i have on the RSS feed. I mostly choose to get the whole experience right from the blog site in question, but this way, I at least know there is something new to read there... I'll put more of them on the right as time permits in the future as well. No more dead links there either.

And in other news...

I REALLY dig these shirts. You pretty-much can't go wrong with a Jermyn Street shirt maker since 1898. They know what a good shirt is all about. They have a yearly sale where they offer any 4 shirts for 100 (pounds). This is the only time of year to buy them, because otherwise they are spendy, when you do the exchange rate and shipping... the sale puts them in the range of good shirts you would buy here - but they are made in London by THEM!! You can't really find the hard Windsor cutaway collar, which I really like a lot, here in the states at any sort of affordable price, so that's where to go.

Also, these guys are here in the US and their "Shirt and Tie Book" just came out. They also have nice shirts and GREAT ties, great cufflinks as well. They are a good alternative to the London shirtmakers here. They make a collar that is pretty close to the Windsor Cutout, so that's nice. I REALLY like their ties though. Nice and bold, elegant, and just fetchin' good lookin'.


RIP Maynard Ferguson

I wrote about Maynard Ferguson a while ago (here and here) when he was here earlier this year - I was lucky enough to take ThatOneSon, a young trumpet player, to see him around Valentine's Day this year. I was amazed then at his seeming effortless ability to still hit those stratoshperic notes. I was stunned.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jazz trumpeter and big-band leader Walter "Maynard" Ferguson, famed for his screaming solos and ability to hit blisteringly high notes, has died at age 78, associates said on Thursday. The Montreal-born Ferguson died on Wednesday at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California, of kidney and liver failure brought on by an abdominal infection.

His four daughters and other family members were at his side when he died.

Ferguson started his career at 13 when he performed as a featured soloist with the Canadian Broadcasting Co. Orchestra.

He played with several of the great big-band leaders of the 1940s and '50s, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Barnett, Jimmy Dorsey and Stan Kenton, with whom he was a featured performer.

He became known with the Kenton band for being able to hit "ridiculous high notes with ease," according to jazz critic Scott Yarnow.

The Penguin Guide to Jazz says of Ferguson: "There are few sights more impressive in animal physiology than the muscles in Maynard Ferguson's upper thorax straining for a top C.

"... Putting a Ferguson disc on the turntable evokes sensations ranging from walking into a high wind to being run down by a truck," according to the Penguin Guide.

While he wasn't exactly "mainstream", he was a fixture that will now leave a void. For sure.

Move to Portland / Free Willy!!

So, I have a co-worker here who has gathered up the gumption to finally do what he has talked about for two years. He's moving to Portland, Ore.

He's been searching online for a room to rent while he gets his schnizz together. Every once in while I hear little giggles coming from his side of the office, and then he shares.

One of the rooms for rent is advertised (as many of them are, he reports) as "must be green friendly, 420 friendly - BYOB (bring your own bong), and GLBT friendly."

We have a good laugh, and he goes back to looking... He's thinking he's going to need to eschew the shower and start up some dreads in order to fit in. He needs some Crocs too. He's leaving around Sept 15th. I'll miss him.

You go, Willy!!

Your free real estate advice for the week:

It's no secret here that I work in the real estate industry. It's also no secret that I'm not generally a big fan of most realtors, although I do have a friend or two who are realtors. They're not all idiots, but the pool does indeed have some pissers in it.

If you are one of the MANY people, particularly in Utah, who purchased a home in the last 36 months, but didn't have one of the following:

down payment
decent credit
ability to absorb the payment shock of a 30 year fixed rate mortgage

...you may be asking yourself if you should be thinking about a refinance. Well, maybe you should, and let me tell you why.

Point 1. This morning, the YIELD on the 10-year bond is at its lowest point since March of this year. Why do you care about the 10-year bond market? Because that is where your mortgage is. It's a bond, and it's in the bond market. Mortgage rates are tied to the yield on the 10-year bond. That means mortgage rates have been going down for about three weeks now. Did you know that?

Point 2. If you are in the situation described above, you probably financed close to 100% of your value, or purchase price. Currently Utah real estate is at the top of the list in appreciation in the US. (most parts of the country are dealing with the dreaded "bubble" - but not Utah at this point, and we won't for another 24-36 months) What does this mean? It means that although you have paid on a mortgage for 2 or 3 years, you probably have not paid down much of the original amount you borrowed, but with the appreciation rates the way they are right now, you probably have some equity that is "free" equity, or equity you didn't have to purchase - the result of simple appreciation.

So, what do these two things mean? It's simple. If, through appreciation, you now owe 80%, 85%, or even 90% of what your home is WORTH, you can probably get a BETTER mortgage on a long term fixed rate, as opposed to the short-term adjustable rate, that is at either a BETTER payment, or at least at the SAME payment you are now paying on an adjustable mortgage. While it might seem like you aren't improving your position (by lowering your payment), you are in fact definitely improving your position, because you are bringing stability to your situation, rather than staying in an adjustable rate loan that was used to finance 100% of the value when you did it.

Lenders like equity, and they reward equity, via RATE. Which is why you will get a better deal, ALWAYS, if you either PURCHASE equity with a down payment, or you LEAVE equity there if you refinance.

So, some numbers:

If you purchased a home 24 months ago, for 150,000, and had no down payment, which means you borrowed 150,000, you got a mortgage rate that reflected high risk, because if a bank has to foreclose on you, they have no equity to work with when they try to sell the home. They pass the risk on to you, in RATE.

Now, there is a good chance that now your home is worth 165,000, and through your 24 mortgage payments, you may have paid down maybe 1500 in principle. Which means you now "own" 10% in equity.

You can now refinance for 148,500, with a value of 160,000. That's 90% rather than the 100% you financed earlier. You can now get a 30 year fixed rate loan, with a good rate that will probably be equal to what you are doing now. The difference is this new mortgage is FIXED, rather than the ADJUSTABLE you were forced to take when you couldn't really afford to get a good mortgage at the outset. Remember, lenders reward equity, and they will like you a LOT better - ie: give you a better rate, because they now see less risk in you.

Now, remember, don't think about refinancing in terms of getting cash out on your equity. (many people think this is the only reason to refinance.) If you came to me for that ("cash-out"), you would have to show me some MASSIVE personal benefit to you in order for me to allow you to do that. Otherwise, I would tell you to take a hike. Beyond that, I would be looking to improve your mortgaged position versus your value, into a long term solution that would put you in a good place.


Seen in reporting and marketing lately

"Well, after further examinations from the doctors that have been looking at him, the healing process has probably gone as far as it's going to go," said Laviolette, who in turn through all those pious principles out the window with his team in need of a boost in the wake of Weight's injury.

From MSNBC – July 19 2006.

I mostly ignore this stuff when it is in personal communications, like emails or blog posts, etc., but when it's published reporting, and even more grievous, marketing materials, it just KILLS me. Fingernails on the chalkboard. I'm not perfect, but if I was actually published, or if I was a marketing writer, I would make damn good and sure I had it write [sic].

I have not done this much recently, but I'm beginning to get a full page of these again, so it will soon be time again for a blog-flog.

Picture=1000 words

A Murder Of Crows

Filed in the topic of Odd Sightings:

In our parking lot this morning was a murder of crows. They flew up to the power pole when I walked by, so this is the only picture I got. They probably got scared out of the trees this morning because Olympus Cove is apparently on fire - or somewhere very close to it.

I went right in a pulled up the appropriate Sting album on the iPod. 20 points if you can guess the album and song title.

The song in question was written as the story of Sting's father passing away. It was actually on the radio, one of the only songs from that album. It was also recorded in Q-Sound. One of the only albums ever to use that technology. It was invented by a dude in Calgary, Alberta, of all places.

It is meant to give a set of stereo speakers the feeling of a more 3-D sound experience. The technology didn't really catch on all that well. But Sting is an early adopter, that's for sure. Another story for another day.

Welcome to the Big City

OK, so we have all HEARD the stories of the old used needles laying around in parks and stuff. But have you actually SEEN one? Here in the Holy City of Salt Lake? Me either. Until yesterday. I jumped out of the car, began dragging my bass out the back, and noticed this beside the car:

First time for me. Welcome to the big city. I guess we really are a big city now. Thanks, junkies. You're putting us on the map.


When Big Dogs Get Sick...

... You end up calling one of these:

because all your carpet looks like this:

No, that's not actually my carpet - but that does look like what was deposited in several spots over the last 48 hours at my house.

The canine in question:

She not happy.


See If This Is You.....

If you're a coffee drinker you are familiar with this practice.

Last weekend we took ThatOnePrincessDaughter up to Logan to get moved into the dorms for her first semester at USU. We planned to stay overnite and pre-booked a room at a lovely chain hotel that claimed to be "just off-campus." Well, if you have ever been to Logan, Utah, you know that the campus is stuffed up on the hill, and the "town" is down the hill, surrounding the obligatory Main Street thing present in all small towns. Anyway, I digress... The hotel could not have been further from the campus if it were actually OUTSIDE of Logan... but that's okay, everything is within a 10 minute drive, so no big deal...

So if you are a coffee drinker who travels, you know that your first and primary objective upon arriving in a new place is to scope out your options for good coffee tomorrow morning. You begin to compile a list of your options, and then you rank them according to the likelihood of actually have coffee that you would actually drink. Usually, the list looks like this, ranked from lowest possibility of actually drinking it:

1. The hotel room coffee maker. You know the one, with the little pre-packed filter pack that looks like it has enough coffee in it for one or maybe two cups, but the coffee maker is for a four-cup serving. Couple that with the little "convenience" pack of condiments like powdered creamer, and not enough sweetener, and you are looking at a sad event. Just whose convenience are we talking about here.

2. The hotel "serve-yourself breakfast bar". Unless you get up at the crack of dawn, you are destined for disappointment here too. That's most likely the situation even if you DO get up at the crack of dawn. You're looking at a giant pot, 40 cups maybe, made by a 19 year old who only knows how to follow directions, but not how to make a good cup of coffee.

3. Gas Station Coffee. Ummm, ECCKKKK! It's either recycled car wash water, or recycled oil change oil, whichever service the gas station offers.

4. IHOP. Generally, their coffee sucks. But it will do in a pinch, and is a better choice than options 1 and 2 above. It'll wash those biscuits and gravy down fine, if need be.

5. Albertsons with a Starbucks sign glued to the front of the store. While this isn't as good and consistent as a regular Starbucks, because although it is starbucks coffee, it is usually manned by the little lady who was either late for work and lost the lottery, or the one who lipped off the boss yesterday. Often not even coffee drinkers, just Albertsons employees.

6. A local coffee shop advertising "ESPRESSO" on a neon sign on the front of the building. This is usually a good choice.

7. A local Starbucks establishment. While there are those who don't like the Starbucks, I am not one of them. You know what you're going to get, and it is what you order every time. And besides, the CrumbleBerry coffee cake is a pleasure for which one pays in calories for about three days, without even worrying about it, it's THAT good.

So there it is, the little gymnastics we go through for the opportunity to find a good cup of coffee. Some might call this slavery to an addiction. Well, okay then.


It Doesn't Hurt Yet

A recent study relates that in Holland, and typically for most european countries, 30% of all trips out of the home are done on bicycles. In the US, that figure is less than 1%.

I saw that last week, and then was kicking myself for not remembering where it was so I could look it up and read more about it. Then I realized where it was: sitting on the back of my toilet at home in the most recent issue of Men's Journal. And yes, most men do their best thinking/reading in that room. They don't call it the "throne room" for nothing. I noticed it again last night as I was serving an eviction notice on some of my "resident evil." But that's another story for another day...

It seems that the veritible inventor of the mountain-biking phenomenon in the early 80's, Gary Fisher, has been hanging out in Holland, studying the reasons for this disparity. His conclusions are many, but the bottom line is that gas at $3.00 per gallon here in the US is not nearly painful enough for us lazy bastards to change our habits.

I saw a dude riding a Gary Fisher bike the other day - it was just a basic bike, no shocks, no nothin special, and noted that the guy riding it probably paid a pretty penny for it back in the day, and further, that it is probably worth a large bundle today - Gary Fisher sold his bike company to Trek a long time ago, and his original bikes are not all over the place today. Fisher still has a bike company, but it's now a relatively small player in the overall marketplace.

Anyway, back to my point. Fisher noted that Holland in particular underwent a transformation some time ago, because its citizens were not coping well with "benzine" prices, and instead of finding a way to make/buy it cheaper, the government went the other route, and instead implimented an agressive program to make the cities more bike-friendly, and the people have embraced the "new normal." Essentially, they looked at the big oil companies, and said, "F.O.A.D." (Holland has gained a bit of a reputation for this - they said the same thing to any and all illegal immigrants to their country a while ago, rounding them up and driving them back to the border, and kicking them off the (proverbial) bus.)

From this, two things are brutally obvious:

1. Our gas prices here in the US are not yet painful enough for us as consumers to be motivated to do anything besides what we've been doing for the last 40 years: putting more, bigger cars on the roads every year.

2. Our government is too intertwined with Big Automakers to be able to embrace an alternative transportation solution from a legislative/infrastructure standpoint here. There's too much money at stake. Lobby money is too attractive, elections are too easily purchased.

So let's get on the phone to our legislators this week and ask them to release more oil reserves and get our gas prices down again..... because that's the answer for sure.

I'm just sayin'.


House of Hooka... oops, I Mean... "Kabob"

I was invited last night to stand in on bass at an open jam session at the newly re-opened House of Kabob. I had been forewarned, and came generally prepared to play two tunes, one an old Miles Davis tune called All Blues, from his "cool" period (see here for an explanation of the "cool" period), and another latin tune called "Song For My Father."

I was nervous about it because although I have spent a fair amount of time performing music in front of people, this was the VERY FIRST TIME I did so on acoustic bass in a venue like this. It took only a few bars for me to drop into the music and enjoy myself. The stress came after, when they started flipping through the "Real Book" looking for more things to play. We settled on "Footprints", another fairly famous Miles Davis tune written by Wayne Shorter. It's simple, but has a very catchy bass line, and is fun to play, because it sends you up the neck of the instrument, which is challenging and fun at the same time.

The Hooka I refer to in the header here has to do with the fact that, about an hour after we had gotten there (I went with ThatOneWife, and her longtime friend, ThatOneLori, from out of town), out came a couple of Hooka Pipes. For those unfamiliar, a hooka pipe is basically a smoking experience where the smoke is drawn through water (sometimes flavored and/or cooled water) . The "tobacco" is a flavored biscuit (apples, berries, spices, etc.) that is burned with the use of a clump of natural charcoal, and as it is drawn through the water on its way to the mouthpiece, it captures a cool, scented flavor and has the texture of flavored dry ice fog, although I wouldn't recommend smoking dry ice to anyone... :)

Anyway, so there you are... it was fun, and I'll probably do that again.


SO something I would do....

From yesterday's Tribune: While the Torgersens and Eastons normally see the rooftops of the other houses along Reeves Lane below them, this house extends more than 5 feet above the line of the hill. (Gasp!! 5 Feet!!)

"We used to have a view of the mountains," Janet Torgersen lamented. "He didn't have to take everyone's view."

All together now, let's have a little pity party for the Torgersens and the Eastons, who think that because they built their starter-castles ABOVE everyone else, that the lots also came with unobstructable views. How DARE someone build THEIR Garage-Mahal right next to MY Starter-Castle??!! I mean, THE NERVE of some people!

Poor Janet. Now she can't look down the hill at her loyal subjects anymore.

After continuous complaints from the Eastons and Torgersens, the owner of the new home had a "decorative vent cover" installed on the back side, facing the lovely neighbors. See for yourself - what do YOU think it is? Cactus? Abstract art? Yeah, I don't think so.

Janet Torgersen said she spoke with - and showed photos to - Riverton City Manager Lance Blackwood and others at City Hall.

Wood (owner of the house under construction) said he might be willing to change the vent covering. "If it's offensive to them - as they have been to me - I'm not above an apology [from them]."

Poor Janet. See you at church on Sunday, though!!

What a GREAT day to be alive

So, I feel pretty much like CRAP today. You know, dook, scud, hud, loaf, 24 inches of schedule "C" PVC, flop, you get the idea.

On top of it all, I've spent what FEELS like DAYS babysitting people who should not need to be babysat in order to accomplish things that are written on their job description. And we're not talking about employees here, we're talking about people who work elsewhere - title companies, other lenders, etc.

It would appear that "The New Normal" goes like this:

"Hmm, this just came in on the fax machine, Becky, it says we are supposed to do something, but I'm not sure what. Can you help me?"

Becky: "Well, I can't tell either, so just put it on the corner of your desk, and maybe somebody will call you back and tell you what to do with it."

"Do you think I should call ThatOneGuy back and ASK him what I should do?"

Becky: "Nah, he'll call you - he always calls to follow up. Just wait for him to call you back."
Then I call back, because NOTHING HAPPENED, and what do I get? See previous post regarding Music on Hold.

So, in light of this conversation, I've put together a little list of my new appellations for these sorts of people:

38 Kinder, Gentler Terms for Stupid People

The wheel's spinning, but the hamster's dead.
A few clowns short of a circus.
A few fries short of a Happy Meal.
An experiment in Artificial Stupidity.
A few beers short of a six-pack.
Dumber than a box of hair.
A few peas short of a casserole.
Doesn't have all his cornflakes in one box.
One Froot Loop shy of a full bowl.
One taco short of a combination plate.
A few feathers short of a whole duck.
All foam, no beer.
The cheese slid off his cracker.
Body by Fisher - brains by Mattel.
Has an IQ of 2, and it takes 3 to grunt.
Warning: Objects in mirror are dumber than they appear.
Couldn't pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel.
He fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down.
An intellect rivaled only by that of garden tools.
As smart as bait.
Chimney's clogged.
Doesn't have all his dogs on one leash.
Doesn't know much, but leads the league in nostril hair.
Elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor.
Forgot to pay his brain bill.
Her sewing machine's out of thread.
His antenna doesn't pick up all the channels.
His belt doesn't go through all the loops.
If he had another brain, it would be lonely.
Missing a few buttons on his remote control.
No grain in the silo.
Proof that evolution can go in reverse.
Receiver is off the hook.
Several nuts short of a full pouch.
Skylight leaks a little.
Slinky's kinked.
Surfing in Nebraska.
Strong, like Bear ... Smart, like Tractor.

I have other lists too, compiled over long periods of thought on deep subjects. My favorite list, I think, is the list of alternate names for the beloved camel-toe. I'll post that one day, and offend you all in one swell foop.

Until then, I have people to babysit. Heaven forbid that they should follow a task to its logical conclusion. That would be TOO MUCH. Way above and beyond the call of duty. Hazard pay.


Eagerly Awaiting: September's Playboy

Apparently, there are faked photos of Paris Hilton. Which is stupid, because that would imply that some portion of her is, in reality, actually REAL. Which I don't believe for a moment.

Music on Hold

Have you ever called some big company looking to talk to an actual human and been frustrated by the whole experience? I have. In particular, I love the whole "your call is very important to us, so please remain on the line and the next available representative will answer your call in the order it was received..." then back to the rebaked Peaches and Herb song, played by Kenny G. Or Billy joel, or the Carpenters.

In the interest of full disclosure, I think companies should be made to say what they really mean when you're on hold:

"Hi. Thanks for calling. We've moved our phone services to India. Please hold while we send your call over there. There will be a small charge appearing on your phone bill for this service."

"Hi, our company has downsized all but one of the telephone operators. He's in the bathroom right now. Please hold."

"Hi, you don't really mean any more to us than anyone else, so just wait, and we'll get to you when we get to you."

"Hi. We're in the middle of our monthly "birthday lunch" and we'll answer your call when we're finished singing and eating cake."

"We're all playing poker online, and when one of us loses all our money, we'll get back to our regular job, which is pissing you off."

"Hi, we're dealing with the OTHER 79 really irate people who called us in the last 90 seconds, so just chill out and see if you can get even MORE irate. We like that. And when we hang up with you, we'll take your most outrageous comment, print it out, and put it on our "Wall of Shame."

"We'll answer your call in the order in which it was received, or when we feel like it, whichever comes last."

Tax n' Spend: Today's Realities

Kudo's to The Utah Amicus on the compliation of this material. Go there. The stuff below represents about 20% of what is posted there.

“According to the Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group, there has been more pork-barrel spending during the Bush years than at any time in American history. By their calculations, the Clinton years were fairly typical, with the amount of identifiable pork barrel spending varying between $10 billion and $17.7 billion in 2000. The number of projects went from a low of 958 to a high of 4326 in 2000. But the Bush years are in a class by themselves. Both the amount of money and the number of pork barrel projects have risen every year, from $18.5 billion and 6333 projects in 2001 to $27.3 billion and an amazing 13,999 projects in 2005.” [emphasis added]

“(Bush is) the biggest spending president we’ve had in a generation.”
Steven Moore, Club for Growth

“(Bush’s) fiscal record is appalling.”
Ed Crane, Cato Institute

“The final tallies show that overall spending grew by almost 9 percent for the 2003 fiscal year ending September 30, and by 21 percent over the past two years. This is before the $400 billion (yeah, right) Medicare prescription drug benefit and this year’s energy and omnibus spending bills. If Bill Clinton had tolerated this, Republicans would be shouting from the rooftops…..This is astonishing when you recall that only a few years ago ‘revolutionary’ Republicans were proposing to eliminate actual federal programs. Instead, the GOP is now slowly restoring or adding to programs that it once took the political heat for killing or shrinking.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Mr. Bush has few peers among American Presidents in his willingness to let Congress spend as freely as it always wants to do. And the Republican Congress has few peers in history in its willingness to take advantage of the president’s generosity.”
George Melloan, The Wall Street Journal

I've decided that this place and the lovely neighbor directly to the north simply follow along, doing what they are told, without any thought to the actual facts, having no memory or sense of holding someone accountable at all. A few years ago, there were impeachment hearings against a sitting President (literally) whose moral indiscretions caused a veritable uproar, which I lovingly call the "Smoking Cigar Incident", or "The Devil In A Blue Dress", but which had no real effect on the world in general (unless you misunderstand what the meaning of "is" is), and yet, when federal laws have been broken, bent, ignored, and generally flaunted in the face of the nation's citizens, as they have been in very recent times, nobody says anything.

I. Don't. Get. It.


Weekend Bike Ride

ThatOneWife and I FINALLY got out onto our bikes over the weekend. We had taken a drive out to Evanston a month or two ago. Though it wasn't PRIMARILY to pick up some fully-leaded Molson Golden, that was certainly accomplished as well. Beside the highway in many spots is the "Rail Trail." It runs from Coalville into Park City.

We decided to do a portion of that trail into Park City, and put on about 8-9 miles. Which for us is good these days, we haven't been on the bikes much this year, and it was definitely good to get out to do that. Now we have the badges of sore muscles and sore arses. We like the feeling of having sore legs, it means we actually DID something for a change.

Then I was reading Holly Mullen this morning, and she noted that she also went for a ride this weekend. She rode from the Shopko on 20th east at the mouth of the canyon, up to Snowbird in the annual Snowbird Hill Climb. 10 miles, 9% grade.

So, now I suck.

Update to World's Happiest Country

So a little while ago I posted results from the compilations of mulitple surveys distilling the "satisfaction with life" results on a country-by-country basis. Some of you noted that although there were several Scandinavian countries listed in the top 10, that Norway was in fact absent from that group.

I have now found out why that is. Now you can find out too.

Don't worry, it's a G-Rated news story.


Photo manipulation debacle

"Reuters on Sunday withdrew an image of smoke rising from burning buildings after an Israeli air strike on the suburbs of Beirut on August 5, 2006 after evidence emerged that it had been manipulated to show more smoke. The manipulated image is shown on the left. The unaltered image, shown on the right, has since run. Reuters has told the photographer, freelance Adnan Hajj, that the agency will not use any more of his pictures."

"After evidence emerged"????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Even without the image on the right, any dope can see that the image on the left is messed up.

Evidently, the photo editor at Reuters needs to be fired. And the "manipulator"? Needs to go through the PhotoShop tutorial. This is 10th grade stuff. If you're a photojournalist, a) you shouldn't be messing with your photos, or b) if you DO, make damn sure it's done better than my daughter does it on her MySpace site.

I'm just sayin.


Mel Gibson's New Bumper Sticker:

No Subject - for fear of backlash....

I didn't write it.

Self-Defacating Humor (?) for Friday

You've probably seen the "Pee & Poo" plushies, (here)

But now there is something for you ladies who anxiously take the little "pee-stick test" every so often, (here), you can wrap it up and give it to your man once you get yor results. Your results may vary.

And in other news: New Masthead Tag Line this week, for you who watch that sort of thing. I try to rotate it about every week or so. See, odd humor packed into every bit of your online experience here. Now THAT'S great value, people.


The five gallon bucket-head

OK, so I have a big noggin. This was taken by the daughter on her phone as we left the theater after seeing the 3-D movie, Monster House with the whole bunch of them.

They were mortified (or at least entertained) that I would wear the 3D glasses out of the theater as if they were MY glasses... so she got right up in my face and snapped a pic.

Sorry about the glare off my solar panels.

Today's Homeland Security Alert Level:

Elmo: Flights from the UK
Ernie: All commercial flights
Bert: Everything else


Draft Post from a few days ago:

I had a post started a long time ago, but I read a post on Bob Aagard's site that made me realize I needed to get it finished and posted... this is the link to it, a few posts down from here...

made ya look...


Trip to Provo...

Here's a pic of me and my oldest kid, checking himself into rehab... er... I mean.... the MTC...

He's my kid - I'm proud of him. We're all proud of him. He'll be great at whatever he does.

He's on his way to Fiji in October. He'll be leaving his suit jacket at home.