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Archive for June 2008

Evening Reverie June 30, 2008

Good evening, everyone…

Do you read the Crosscut web site? Each morning, long before most “normal” people are even stirring, I am hunched in my bathrobe absorbing the news from a considerable number of different sources, including Spokane-centric news resources. Moreover, by the time most people have had their morning coffee I have read or replied to as many as 50 e-mail messages, and alarmingly, a great number of them seem to think the Spokesman-Review is a claptrap assembly of marginal news editors and reporters. So, in my evening reverie, I decided this evening to see what one critical news resource in the Seattle area had to say about how the Spokesman-Review Online is doing at their job.

First, let us examine the thinly-veiled allegations that the SR is falling behind in the race for Web domination online. There is hardly a newspaper in the Pacific Northwest that doesn’t offer at least part of its daily print newspaper online. Some provide outstanding, well-written articles and pictures, while others are sadly falling behind the times. I frequently read/store or use articles from both Seattle papers during the course of my morning ritual, as well as stories posted overnight here in Spokane.

Read what someone else in a world-recognized position to recognize the status and quality of the Spokesman-Review online had to say about it:

While you are at it you might also read as well. It’s a bit longer but contains some real meat about how the SR Online actually works.

The Editor of Crosscut goes on to say at length:

So what are the barriers to excellence? They are substantial. A reader commented that newspapers shouldn’t charge for online news because the overhead is so much lower than that of a printed edition, which eats up a lot of material and involves lots of big machines and people to produce and distribute the product. This is true to a point, but as Spokane’s Smith said, there are still very high costs related to creating the content, and if you can’t raise enough revenue to do that, what’s the point?
There’s another expense that people give short shrift, and that’s the cost of programming. Believe it or not, just about every newspaper or newspaper chain creates, or at least greatly customizes, its own software to present content on the Web. There are very few turnkey software solutions out there that do everything a newspaper needs to do online, fewer still that can handle the volume of data a daily newspaper handles, and integrating the various best solutions to specific tasks is unbelievably time-consuming, and time is money. It’s as though everybody had to design and build their own printing press.

Offhand, when two separate critical sources have recently reviewed the performance/under-performance of many major Pacific Northwest Online news sources, and both of them had strongly-worded and glowing terms for the SR, I am astounded that the critics of the SR missed this vital piece of the picture.

We are at or near the top of the pile when it comes to innovation!


Today’s Picture…

Good morning, Netizens…

Our picture of the day, shot by the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday by Mark Costantini, shows an interesting cross-section of the population of one of my favorite cities as they watch the Gay Pride Parade weave through the city. According to the piece which accompanied an entire set of pictures of crowd responses, the Drag Queen Float had just passed by this area moments before, and the perplexed looks of some of the elderly people in the foreground of the picture seem to suggest they are asking, “What the HECK was THAT?”

Incredible as it might seem, I would tentatively propose that some of America’s elderly, among others, may be still somewhat confused by the gay/lesbian/transgendered evolution taking place in contemporary society. It isn’t that they are or are not alienated against the proponents of the movements involved; in fact, some of the folks with whom I have spoken live somewhat isolated lives with little or limited access to television or print media. While that might seem an outrageous statement for me to make, these people exist; it is just they seldom appear and live isolated lives.

Here is a question that is apt to raise some eyebrows. If you were amenable to such change, how would you go about introducing members of Dykes on Bikes or a pair of utterly outrageous Drag Queens to an elderly live-alone isolated man or woman? How would you compassionately go about explaining the social changes taking place in American society to someone who does not stay in tune with television?


Quote of the Day June 30, 2008

Facts are facts and will not disappear on account of your likes.

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 - 1964)

What would you do? 06/29/2008

Good morning, Netizens…

In the news this morning, workers clear debris that fell off the exterior of the Qwest Center in Omaha on Friday after a severe storm with strong winds hit the area. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) Just previous to the storm several world-class skaters were practicing on the ice, and were forced to take shelter in the hallways as the storm descended.

What is also making news is it will likely take a week to restore power to everyone in the Omaha area after the 80 mph winds tore through much of eastern Nebraska, uprooting trees, damaging homes and killing two people in a neighboring city.

Nobody has stated this was a tornado. All that really is known is that a huge chunk of Omaha is without power, there are trees and power lines down over two or three different counties and some sources say it may take a week to restore electricity everywhere.

Ye Gods, what would YOU do if there was no power for a week? Do you remember the fun we had during Ice Storm? Well, this would be like having Ice Storm in the middle of a scorching hot summer.

Some things that come to mind: Freezer melt-down with megabucks worth of groceries turning into sludge, no air conditioning on a 100 degree day, and none of your appliances will work, just to name a few. I even coined a new word to describe the pandemonium: eeshkabibble.

It is not that far-fetched to assume this could happen right here in Spokane. So what would you do?


A Block — a good maneuvar for Hoopfest Weekend BUT…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

I have come to the Virtual Ballroom because it is the only place I can find where the heat of our first real day of the Summer cannot reach me, for I am somewhat old and sometimes doddering.

As I walk up the stone walkway to the invisible front door of the Virtual Garden, I see where even the Garden Gnomes are nestled beneath the wide flowing leaves of some plant whose name I cannot recall, and are fast asleep in the cool shade. Here it is nearly 7:00 PM and it is still nearly 90 degrees, so I do not blame them for hiding from the heat.

I am somewhat startled, however, when I walk up to the Virtual Espresso Bar because only a few people, and the usual handful of ghosts, are gracing the bar stools at this hour of the afternoon. Our barrista of the day, Gonzo Warthrop, smiles as he slides a cup of today’s special espresso blend, “Dave’s Justice” in front of me.

How utterly apt. Earlier today David Brookbank, a frequent flier in these parts, was banned from posting in all the SR blogs. According to the message I received from Doug Floyd, the block was supposed to apply only to A Matter of Opinion, but it was readily apparent to me that this was not entirely accurate, because David no longer could post in Community Comment’s Virtual Ballroom or any of his other favorite haunts. I fired off a message to Becky Tallent, our Ombudsman for the SR, and she indicated she was just as much in the dark as I was.

Finally, I located David Brookbank’s IP address in the list of banned addresses after some considerable searching. Then I did the unthinkable: I contacted David by telephone and extracted a promise from him that he would observe and obey the ban against him posting in A Matter of Opinion in exchange for my freeing up his IP from the banned list. Once I had corrected what I firmly believe was an honest mistake, and set matters to right, David Brookbank is once again back with us. As I explained to him, part of our “gentleman’s agreement” is that he cannot break his promise.

It might mean the guillotine for both of us rather than simply my own head. At least then I might be able to dance with several really comely ghosts I’ve seen wafting their ways across the Virtual Dance Floor.


Quote of the Day June 28, 2008

Don’t flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant things from his enemies; they are ready enough to tell them.

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 - 1894), The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, 1858

A Quote of the Day 06/27/2008

When you are eight years old, nothing is any of your business.

Lenny Bruce (1923 - 1966)

Out of Commission Momentarily…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

I had a simply mahvelous time last night, to borrow from Talulah Bankhead. I spent the night in Holy Fumbling Hospital’s ER with what at first appeared to be a heart attack, but instead turned out to be a gall bladder kicking up.

I am once again reclining in the Great Chair, overlooking the Grand Ballroom, and expect to be back in the pink by tomorrow.


What would YOU do?

Good morning, Netizens…

Somehow I saw this coming, which is why it is an integral part of both last night’s and this morning’s reverie. I admit I have an open, respectful, non-sexual love for Dr. John Olsen because he understands and does not fear the custom of abrazo I inherited from living in the Southwest United States. Abrazo is the the lost art of embracing someone with both arms and a pat on the back regardless of gender, and it implies a friendship that is like a deep-flowing river that chuckles at itself as it wanders by our doorways.

The first of these litmus tests for the type of friendship that John and I have known in our relatively-short time together is that we do not have to agree on virtually any topic you’d care to name. He and I have already discovered places in our hearts where we disagree on various issues, but rather than waste our precious few hours of life left on this earth, we move onto topics where we, by chance, agree with one another, and simply move on and part from one another with hearty abrazos.

One of the core values John possesses which I admit I find incredibly alluring is that he believes in unconditional love, which he practices without ceasingly, but especially for his beautiful daughter, Britta, who was married last weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area to another woman. When he asked me to post a picture of he and his daughter and her spouse, I didn’t hesitate, and in retrospect, I would do it again simply because, in my opinion, regardless of gender issues, any celebration of love is a good thing in this increasingly hostile old world we call home.

Quote of the Day June 25, 2008

I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by a dryrot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in a magnificient glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.
Jack London (1876 - 1916), Personal Credo

BINGO Buckwheat!

Good afternoon, Netizens…

On June 20, 2008, at 9:35 a.m., an Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer stopped Randy R. Durham from Spokane driving a 2008 Cadillac for a moving violation near Flagstaff. A search of the vehicle with the help of DPS Canine “Gabby” revealed $602,473 in a suitcase in the trunk. The suspect was purportedly traveling from Atlanta to Las Vegas.
Granted, the police had every right to arrest the man on money laundering charges and toss his butt into jail, which they unceremoniously did. However, if you were driving a brand-new Cadillac across the desert, violated one or more traffic laws and were pulled over how would you explain away that matter of the money in a suitcase in your trunk?

“I won big at the casino last night, see…”

Hum a few bars of Arlo Guthrie’s Mr. Customs Man (“don’t check my bags if you please, Mr. Customs Man”)

“Well, how the heck did that get there? It must have been my rich aunt when she was visiting here last week. What a wonderful surprise!”

“What happened to the naked go-go dancer that was in there before?”

“BINGO. I play power BINGO a lot and last night I was HOT.”

So, what would you say?


Good-bye Bill!

(Picture provided by AP)

Good morning, Netizens…

The chances are quite good that most of you are reading this piece this morning because of the baby-faced geek at the lower left hand of this morning’s picture, for without young Bill Gates, pictured with the organizational structure of Microsoft in 1978, you probably would not be running Windows software as you know it today.

Top row, the founding fathers of Microsoft are from left: Steve Wood, Bob Wallace and Jim Lane. Middle row, from left: Bob O’Rear, Bob Greenburg, Marc McDonald and Gordon Letwin. Bottom row, from left: Gates, Andrea Lewis, Marla Wood and Paul Allen.

First, such as I can, I am going to briefly list of history of Microsoft, excluding those portions which are covered by a non-disclosure agreement between myself and Microsoft.

In 1981 Microsoft joined the computer generation to be with the completion of MS-DOS 1.0, which was ugly, not Internet-aware and yet was popular enough for Microsoft to claim a huge chunk of the then-fledgling market share as compared to CP/M and other operating systems. Windows 1.0, a truly hideous graphical interface, followed. In 1987, Gates becomes the youngest self-made billionaire. May 1990, Windows 3.0 is released, purportedly the only “windowing” software for Intel PC’s. August 1995, Windows 95 is released. May 1998 Microsoft is sued by the U.S. Government, for anti-trust violations. In 1998 Windows 98 was initially released, although it bombed within days of its release, which is why we still have three different versions of the same software. In 2000 Bill Gates steps down as CEO of Microsoft, handing those tasks over to others. On February 13, 2001 Windows XP is released, and in November of that same year, Microsoft settles the anti-trust lawsuit with the feds. In January 2002, after a truly macabre set of high-profile security vulnerabilities, Gates declares Windows security to be Micosoft’s “top priority”. In January 2007 Windows Vista was released, followed by half a dozen “bug fixes” nearly all of which were greeted by negative reviews and weak sales.
( all excerpted from a variety of sources, both public and private, including personal archives)

This of course is Bill Gate’s final week as CEO of Microsoft because at the end of the month, he is leaving the company he helped created, lo those many years ago. In the parlance of the times, he’s come a long way, baby, from a Harvard dropout to the richest man in the world.

Does this affect you at all? Even worse, do you care? Do you have any choice memories regarding either Microsoft or Bill Gates?

Proudly written entirely using Open Source Software since 1992.

Quote of the Day June 23, 2008

Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.

Dame Edna Everage (1934 - ), In a television interview with Joan Rivers

Comediene George Carlin Dead at 71

[Picture from AP]

Good morning, Netizens…

Hang down your heads and cry.

George Carlin, the quintessential king of hard-edged comedians made most famous for his “Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV” routine, died of heart failure Sunday. He was 71.

Carlin checked into a Santa Monica, Calif., hospital Sunday complaining of chest pain and died later last evening.

Carlin performed as recently as last weekend at the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas. It was announced Tuesday that Carlin was being awarded the 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Carlin constantly pushed the envelope with his jokes, particularly his famous “The Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV.”

When Carlin uttered all seven at a show in Milwaukee in 1972, he was arrested for disturbing the peace. And when they were played on a New York radio station, they resulted in a Supreme Court ruling in 1978 upholding the government’s authority to sanction stations for broadcasting offensive language.

His prodigious output of 23 comedy albums, 14 HBO specials, three books, a couple of TV shows and appeared in several movies kept his name in lights. Carlin hosted the first broadcast of “Saturday Night Live.”

Carlin began his stand-up-comedy act in the late 1950s and made his first television solo guest appearance on “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1965.

Carlin released his first comedy album, “Take-Offs and Put-Ons,” to rave reviews in 1967.

By the end of the decade, he was one of America’s best-known comedians. He made more than 80 major TV appearances during that time, including “The Ed Sullivan Show” and Johnny Carson’s “Tonight” show.

In 1970, Carlin discarded his suit, tie and clean-cut image as well as the relatively conventional material that had catapulted him to the top. Carlin reinvented himself, emerging with a beard, long hair, jeans and a routine that, according to one critic, was steeped in “drugs and bawdy language.”

By 1972, when he released his second album, “FM & AM,” his star was again on the rise. The album won a Grammy Award as best-comedy recording.

By 1977, when his first HBO comedy special, “George Carlin at USC,” was aired, he was recognized as one of the era’s most influential comedians.

In the years after his 1977 cable debut, Carlin was nominated for a half-dozen Grammy awards and received CableAces awards. He also won his second Grammy for the album “Jammin’ ” in 1994.

During the course of his career, Carlin overcame numerous personal trials. His struggle to overcome his self-described “heavy drug use” was well publicized.

But in the ‘80s he also weathered serious tax problems and two open-heart surgeries. His greatest setback was the loss of his wife, Brenda Hosbrook, who died in 1997. They had been married for 36 years.

Carlin is survived by wife, Sally Wade, and daughter Kelly Carlin McCall.
[Portions excerpted from the Associated Press]


Quote of the Day June 22, 2008

Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.

Johnny Carson (1925 - 2005)

Police Ombudsman is ratified by the Guild…

Good evening, everyone…

The vote, at least according to the KXLY web site, was on Friday the Police Guild voted 121 to 4 in favor of civilian oversight.

The ombudsman agreement still needs city council approval before it can be made official.

I submit that this step on the part of the Guild is a positive step forward, a necessary step for our community and that the City Council needs to expeditiously move forward with approval.


To Everything a Season…

Good morning, Netizens!

Yes, it’s TGIF Day, time to hitch up your knickers or tighten down your braces, depending upon your respective gender because it’s Friday. Time to take that big load off your back, cast off your irons and make headway toward the weekend!

Perhaps that is why, as I come strolling into the Virtual Ballroom this morning, I note the presence of the First Universal and Triumphant Ganja Chanting Choir out parading in the street in front of the Virtual Garden chanting words of celebration and ecstatic apostasy, something about the eternal weekend that goes without end forever and ever Amen, or perhaps that was potheads unite. I am not certain.

As I am chuckling to myself, having noticed that the Garden Gnomes are already hard at work this morning in the Virtual Garden, occasionally pausing in their labors to express their opinions of the Chanting Choir just outside the fence by uplifting their middle fingers in derision, since for the Garden Gnomes there is seldom a spring nor summer day when they are not hard at work. Of course, our Virtual Garden reflects that, with juicy baby strawberries are already ripe and everything else is starting to grow nicely, despite having had a cold Spring this year.

As I slide onto my favorite espresso bar stool and grasp a copy of the morning paper, I see where a deer crashed through the rear side window in State Highway 26 in the Palouse and then began thrashing about in the back seat. I had that something quite akin to that actually happen to me once upon a time in Wyoming. I had stopped to pick up an injured deer with a broken back and laid it gently on my VW Rabbit’s back seat to find someone to put it out of its misery. Once I got back underway, said deer incredibly sat upright in the back seat and proceeded to watch me drive. Curious thing that, driving down an isolated country road in Uinta County, Wyoming with a deer closely monitoring my driving skills. I never did quite get over that.

Gabriel, this morning’s barrista sidles up to my place at the bar and with a grin, slides me a cup of today’s special virtual espresso blend, announcing it as, “Just for You”. Now having had various flavors of espresso from the Virtual Espresso Bar, some that took me up and others brought me down, I didn’t know quite what to expect.

One sip, and I simply felt like my same old self, funky, yet at ease with that, not grumpy since it is too early in the morning for that yet, and actually quite comfortable. Even the orchestra is getting into the mood, and begins playing a 60’s hit, “White Bird” by a band called “It’s a Beautiful Day” from long, long ago.

You might try a cup of this morning’s virtual blend and see how it feels to you.


Quote of the Day June 20, 2008

Stuffed deer heads on walls are bad enough, but it’s worse when they are wearing dark glasses and have streamers in their antlers because then you know they were enjoying themselves at a party when they were shot.

Ellen DeGeneres

My Daily Horoscope

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Having had my fill of the Daily Horoscope, as most of what it says never comes true anyway, I decided this afternoon to consult with my old buddy and some say the genuine article, Maharishi Linguine, the Italian Pasta Soothsayer who lives somewhere beneath the stage in the Grand Ballroom. Maharishi Linguine is the real deal when it comes to giving good horoscope. Yes, you heard me, he gives such good horoscope that it drives the newspaper censors mad, which is why his fact-filled predictions never appear in print.

For example, his prediction today for Capricorns ranks right up there with the image of Madonna in her knickers, when he says,

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) Face it my dear, today is the day if you were going to ever get filthy rich and drive one of those big gas-guzzling cars you so fantasize of owning, today just isn’t it. Don’t take your wallet out today, not that you ever would have enough money to buy a decent pair of socks to begin with. Do not contact anyone with whom you ever wish to establish a meaningful relationship in the future today. Make it a point to sit astride your riding lawn mower, for which you have no money to buy gas anyway, and simply contemplate the weeds in your lawn. Most important of all, disregard anything that smacks of making progress. It is a good day to practice self-pity. All the other positive uplifting Horoscopes you may have read are totally bogus. Only the one true spiritual master, Maharishi Linguine, knows all the ways of the stars and the pasta.

Now you know why Maharishi Linguine lives among the dust kittens beneath the stage in the Grand Ballroom and I why I so seldom visit his world headquarters.


Quote of the Day June 19, 2008

Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.

Edward Abbey (1927 - 1989)
Author The Monkeywrench Gang and others.
Edward Abbey web site

When Disaster Strikes…

A railroad crossing sign sticks out of the water along the Mississippi River Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in Burlington, Iowa. The federal government predicts that 27 levees could potentially overflow along the river if the weather forecast is on the mark and a massive sandbagging effort fails to raise the level of the levees, according to a map obtained Monday by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Good morning, Everyone…

Over the last few days, I have been exhilarated at the number of people who have told personal stories about optimism, since I feel that is probably the most-important emotion we can bring in our lives each day. This morning, however, since the news wires are full of the disaster, rather than any good that could be found in the Midwest Flooding along the Mississippi River, we are going to look at a pair of somewhat rare pieces of American character: endurance and compassion.

“There’s one thing about Midwesterners,” said Don Giltner, mayor of Louisiana, Mo., a picturesque river town north of St. Louis where 40 square blocks were under water Wednesday, three days before the Mississppi’s expected crest. “We’re resilient as hell. We’re all worn out. We’ve put in a lot of long days.” Quote attributed to ALLEN G. BREED, AP National Writer.

I can speak to the Midwestern farmers’ character, having spent so many years of my life living and working there. There is incredibly heart-stopping fear farmers live with every summer, from tornadoes, floods and hail storms, and along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, the great floods that sweep people lives away in the course of several times each decade. The dry years, the years when all you get at planting time are dust clouds because there is no moisture in the richest soil in the United States.

Quote of the Day June 18, 2008

Learn to value yourself, which means: to fight for your happiness.

Ayn Rand (1905 - 1982)

Father Pfleger has returned!

Good morning, Netizens…

Scarlett Washington celebrates at St. Sabina when it was announced that the Rev. Michael Pfleger (inset) would be back soon. (Jean Lachat/Sun-Times/AP)

That’s right! After being removed from the pulpit by Chicago archbishop Cardinal Francis George two weeks before, last Sunday Pfleger was reinstated at Saint Sabina’s parish in South Chicago and preached from the pulpit. Pastoral associate Kimberly Lymore, speaking for the diocese, stated that Pfleger will continue as the pastor of the church he has led for 30 years with “no restrictions”— other than not being able to publicly mention the names of Presidential candidates nor to campaign for them.

In a sermon delivered Sunday, it seems that Pfleger was not letting up one bit on the primary theme of his ministry when he stated, “If we are to move forward and become who God has called us to be as a human family, we must be willing to have an honest and open discussion on race and justice.”

There are some in the blogs who state emphatically that Saint Sabina makes more money on any given Sunday than any other parish its size. There are even more who rail mightily about the mural of the Black Jesus that hangs in Saint Sabina’s. There have even been death threats made against Pfleger for his outspoken speeches, including the infamous rant about Hillary Clinton and white entitlement.

No matter what your opinion, Father Pfleger has returned to the pulpit, and you can bet his message, while devoid of such direct and incendiary comments about politics in America as put his sermons on U-Tube, will nonetheless continue his mission of broadcasting the word, as he sees it.

One thing his U-Tube sermons did better than anyone in history is expose the mindless racists who have written their hatred in various blogs for all to see. That, by itself, is a shame. While I do not entirely espouse many of the teachings of Rev. Michael Pfleger, I have a zero tolerance for hatred of all forms.

Of course, your thoughts may differ…


Wild Card Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Today’s morning picture features a baby bird that was trapped inside a kitchen wall for three days. It was finally freed after the homeowners enticed the bird out by playing a CD of birdsongs (RSPCA/PA)

An alternate version of how this picture came to be is that the CD they played was Bach’s St. Matthews Passion, not bird songs, but the bird insisted on singing the chorales in Italian, not German. However, that is purely speculation on my part since how many birds have you encountered in your walk through life that could sing Bach in German?

Of course, this morning’s barrista, Dovey, seems to have a special affinity with birds, and promptly mixes up the virtual coffee beans into what he calls his most-optimistic espresso brew ever, something he titles “Wings of Optimism”. Since at this ungodly hour of the morning, I seem to be the only person sitting at the Virtual Espresso Bar, and remembering some of the truly unique effects our custom-blended espresso has had in the past, people doing back-flips and the like, this morning I am somewhat reluctant to test the latest blend until I see what effect it has on others.

However, I needn’t have worried. Upon sipping my first cup of the day’s daily blend, I immediately feel uplifted, optimistic that whatever I hope to attain today will be just fine. Suddenly two blue-eyed tiny wrens, always among our morning songbirds, show up on the garden fence outside and begin singing “It’s a wonderful day.” in harmony. Will miracles never cease?

Even our resident Virtual Ballroom grump, who never smiles at anyone most days, is sitting quietly at the end of the bar smiling benevolently at me, acting as if we have been friends for a long time. I cannot be too friendly with a grump most days, as sometimes I more resemble a grump than a benevolent host. In fact, I’m so sanguine and uplifted, I may have to kick a computer to restore my typical early-morning equilibrium to its normal state of paranoia tinged with absolute dread. If it were not for the Virtual Ballroom and Espresso Bar, I do not know how I would get through each day.

What about you? Do you have ten reasons to be optimistic this morning?


Wild Card Monday June 16, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

If we could change history department:

If you stop and think about it, we should get down on our knees and thank Honda and other Japanese auto manufacturers for preparing us for these high fuel costs. If the people in Detroit were the sole authority over what we drive, we would all still be driving Hummers.

I was shocked to learn from a car salesman at the Hummer dealership in Liberty Lake they are still selling a lot of new Hummers every day, all that get between 9 and 10 MPG going down the road.

“If you can afford a Hummer, you can afford the gas to drive it,” the salesman I spoke with quipped with a pearly white grin stated.

It must be nice to be so rich you don’t care what fuel costs.

Can you think of any justification for driving a gas hog, regardless of the brand name?


Quote of the Day June 16, 2008

Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.

Mae West (1892 - 1980), Klondike Annie (1936 film)

Quote of the Day June 15, 2008

I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist.

Sally Kempton

The Pride Parade…

Good morning, Netizens…

Originally I was going to attend this morning’s Pride Parade 2008 simply in case anyone else from the Mainstream News Media hadn’t bothered. Very early this morning when I first began looking for news of this event, I was stunned to discover how little newsprint had been dedicated to this event, although I could quickly find it in Google.

Unfortunately, within an hour of making the preliminary decision to attend the breakfast and parade, business reared its ugly little head, thus bringing a rapid close to any possibility of being downtown for either event. Lord knows I truly shiver each time I miss out of all-you-can-eat breakfast at Dempsey’s Brass Rail, 909 W. 1st Avenue. This one only cost $5 and the proceeds benefit a truly worthy cause, Spokane AIDS Network.

You remember Dempsey’s, don’t you? It’s the bar where Spokane Police Officer Jay Olsen was drinking with his girlfriend the night he shot Shonto Pete during the purported theft of his pickup truck. According to my sources, Olsen was a regular at Dempsey’s long before the shooting. Shonto Pete was later found not guilty of the attempted theft of Olsen’s pickup truck, and Olsen eventually was fired by Chief Kirkpatrick. Some say he was not the only SPD officer in Dempsey’s that night. If so, perhaps that might explain why the preliminary evidence just seemed to “fall into place” against Shonto Pete, at least under cursory examination. However, the DNA evidence from inside the truck showed conclusively that Shonto Pete had never been inside the truck.

Instead of reliving that old memory of Dempsey’s and thus engendering more internal distrust of our Police Department, which I am personally trying to overcome, I tended to some unexpected work. Then, as the late morning began to truly shape up into a perfect day for a parade, even more work arrived, and thus I spent most of the day working, which I suppose is my excuse for nonattendance. Work, particularly on weekends and holidays, is what I do. I gather from several sources I missed out on a truly festive event.

As for the news media coverage of the Pride Parade through downtown Spokane, or of the festival held in Riverfront Park today, there appears to be none on either KXLY or KREM. While I understand there was what I would call a blurb in the Spokesman-Review yesterday, the parade and festival might as well have not happened for all the prime-time news coverage it received in the Spokane news media this evening.

So what passes for middle-class America in Spokane will not be forced, willingly or unwillingly, to confront nor acknowledge the number of gay, lesbian or transgendered adults marching in the streets today. The unseen videotape showing men kissing men and women kissing women in Riverfront Park will not disturb the collective mindset of Spokane, although for the sake of it, as a strictly heterosexual male in a monogamous relationship, I truly regret its absence.

Love, whenever and however you can find it, beats hate and distrust, hands down.


Quote of the Day June 14, 2008

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.

Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662)

New Atomic Element Discovered on the Internet…

Good morning, Netizens…

Algorp gave us the Internet, which was defined by science as a infinite quantity. When you add the energy generated by half a million bloggers per second, you generate newfound infinite boggling. From there, we obtain new atomic mass and a new atomic element is defined.

Research has led to the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years; It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant
neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

[Taken from the Internet and, because Algorp created the Internet, it has to be accurate.


Wild Card Friday, June 13, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

This is 2-fer day, with two pictures since it is Friday the 13th, and simply because I am enamored of sand sculptures, here is a nicely-done AP picture of Indian Artist Sudarsan Pattnaik working on a sculpture named “Global warming” at the International Sand Sculpture Festival Sandsation in Berlin, Thursday. Together with his student Jitendra Kishore Jagadev, Pattnaik was placed first at the USF (United Sand Festivals) World Double Championship. (June 12, 2008)

Utterly amazing…

Today is also Loving Day…

Good afternoon, everyone…

Today is the 41st anniversary of Loving Day, named for the Lovings, that could not live in their home state of Virginia because it was one of 15 states that did not recognize interracial marriage in the 1950s.  The Supreme Court finally made their decision that legalized interracial
marriage in the United States on June 12, 1967. ┬áLoving Day celebrations commemorate the anniversary of the Loving decision every year on or around June 12th.

So, inquiring minds want to know, have you loved someone today?


Quote of the Day June 12, 2008

Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together….

Carl Zwanzig

Severe Thunderstorm menaces, then fails…

Good evening, Netizens…

We had an interesting little set-to earlier this evening, when the Spokane News Media collaborated once again with The Spokane Weather Bureau to broadcast a severe thunderstorm warning. It has been two years since we last had a really severe thunderstorm of any magnitude here in Spokane and then the Spokesman-Review sent its photographers scattering out into the dark that night, and to their extreme credit, they obtained some pretty good time-lapse pictures of the night skies lit up by flash after flash of earth-ground lightning.

Alas, most of the storm tonight moved to the East of Downtown Spokane, purportedly dumping a little hail on parts of Millwood and heavy rains, thus sparing us the light show, although we did get an early burst of wind as the storm front passed, with an unofficial gust of approximately 39 MPH at Glass and Morton Streets in Spokane, which knocked all the garbage cans akimbo. Also unofficially, it rained heavily for half an hour, no light show to speak of, not even a flicker of the lights in the Grand Ballroom.

Our barrista in the Virtual Espresso Bar served up another round on the house, once the discussion of the storm had ended. Meanwhile at the end of the bar, one of our resident ghosts just cleaned up a 5-card stud poker game, winning 11 matchsticks and another free espresso on the house. If it were any more exciting here in the Grand Ballroom, we would need nitro for all the heart patients, when Artie Shaw begins playing from our Virtual Stage at 11:00 o’clock.

In the meantime I am heading for my repose until tomorrow at 3:00 AM.


A Vision of things to come?

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s picture, a woman walks by empty shelves in a supermarket during a transport strike in Barcelona, Spain. Truckers in Spain stepped up protests against rising fuel prices, causing mayhem on highways and resulting in supplies not reaching stores. (Samuel Aranda/Getty Images) (June 10, 2008)

With the prices of fuel rising at obscene rapidity, could this become a view of neighborhood grocery stores in the United States? Or, instead of following the trends in Spain, will the prices for fresh produce simply escalate beyond our ability to pay?

Plus we have another “added attraction” facing our grocery supply lines: the weather this year has turned unmercifully bad for produce growers in key areas of the United States.

Are you worried about the rising prices at the checkout stand, in addition to the price of fuel?

Seems like a good way to kick things off on Hump Day to me.


Evening reverie, June 9, 2008

Good evening, Everyone…

There are many aspects of my life that most members of the younger generation will never understand, such as the incredible awe at hearing Janis Joplin perform live in San Francisco, of the adrenalin rush of pre-NEXRAD weather radar days of chasing tornadoes across the Great Plains and, as a result, saving lives or seeing pre-Katrina New Orleans shining like a rare diadem in the galaxy during Mardi Gras. I admit I have been blessed with some of the finest experiences that a wandering vagabond could ever ask to undergo, and yet some of the memories that stick with me and I feel become part of my character were, for the most part, simple things in life.

The simplest pleasures, drinking spring water out of a hand-pump in the kitchen each day, a warm crackling fire in a pot-bellied stove on a snowy winter’s night, and yes, an outhouse well-stocked with the latest copies of various farm-related, humor and various other reading material suitable for reading by lantern light on a cool summer’s night. I am probably a member of the last generation that will have used an outhouse; in fact, most members of the next generation may never have seen one of these utilitarian devices, and thus never will know the aspects of life in the country they may have missed entirely.

Tonight’s picture, of an outhouse near Crabapple Lake, Washington (courtesy of Wikipedia), with its wafer board walls and a fiberglass ceiling really doesn’t do the image of an old outhouse justice. There are things, important things that are simply missing in the picture. Any self-respecting farmer or other person living on the land far from the city lights would never have such a woefully-understocked outhouse, for it must have suitable, trenchant reading material and a can of wasp and bee repellent at a minimum. The former, of course, is for ones continuing education which must progress onward, even in times when nature calls. The latter is for necessity.

Kudos to S-R Helpers

Just noticed that our Recent Comments feature is working - very well! If you click on Recent Comments on the right, you will get the last few days of recent comments in order posted. Great feature! Thank you Magical S-R Wizards!

Quote of the Day June 9, 2008

You get fifteen democrats in a room, and you get twenty opinions.

Senator Patrick Leahy (1940 - ), May 1990

Your Wild Card for Monday, June 9, 2008

Good morning, everyone…

Since we were discussing old loves and new at the close of last week, I figured why not start the new week with a picture of a touching marriage and speak of the enduring qualities of love.

In today’s picture, Bernice Jenkins and Wallis “Rich” Richard, both 95, lean in for their first kiss as husband and wife at Pleasant Valley Bible Church in Camarillo, California. Each had been widowed after a marriage that lasted more than 60 years. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

It was a dead-heat race between this picture and one of the 65th wedding anniversary of a couple in Kansas, both of them well into their nineties, who announced they were still hopelessly in love. Alas, the picture quality was pretty rough, and thus it probably would have displayed poorly in this environment.

In your minds, what are the secrets to marital happiness?

If you were well up in years and widowed, and you met Mr./Mrs. right would you tie the knot again?

Or not?

Having spent quite a few years volunteering at a Senior Center here in the Spokane area, one of the most-enduring memories of that time were the number of married couples well up in their years who, to all appearances, still had most of the same arguments and relationship dysfunctions as the younger generation, but somehow persevered and were happy together. Perhaps later, if my hectic Monday allows, I will weave a few tales of those memories.

In the meantime, this will do nicely for your Monday early-morning Wild Card while we are praying for summer to arrive.


Remembering the love

Good morning, Netizens…

In life, I did not particularly like President Ronald Reagan either as an actor or a politician. I did find, in his passage, that his austere funeral was truly moving, the kind of way I would envision a head of state should be honored. But perhaps something else should be noted, that the quiet dignity of his widow, Nancy Reagan, sits very well in my heart and mind. Now 87 years old, in the above picture (AP 2008) each anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s death, Nancy Reagan pays homage to him at the Reagan Library where he is entombed.

When I consider this picture, it speaks to me first of love, for despite my political and ideological differences with the Reagans, I never have had a moment’s doubt of their love for one another, a love which now has surpassed even the grave. One of the “gifts”, as odd as it might seem, of not having anything resembling a close relationship with my family is that I tend to cherish close friends all the more, and thus this picture reminds me of how deeply the love of family must run.

Some of us here in the Grand Ballroom have lost partners and friends over the passage of time, but how do we remember them? Do we remember the anniversary they died by paying a visit, as does Nancy Reagan? Did you let go of the heartbreak of death and simply let it pass, or do you commemorate their passage each year?


Quote of the Day June 8, 2008

The awareness of the ambiguity of one’s highest achievements (as well as one’s deepest failures) is a definite symptom of maturity.

Paul Tillich (1886 - 1965)

Early Reverie Saturday June 7, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

It is another blustery day outside the Virtual Ballroom this morning, and at this ungodly hour of the morning, shortly before 5:00 AM, there aren’t a lot of people mingling at the Virtual Espresso Bar. Our virtual barrista this morning is proudly crowing about his latest coffee bean blend, “leapfrog syndrome”, so named because one sip of this delightfully, reverberant espresso bean suitably prepared and served at our candy-apple red espresso bar with chrome handles, will cause even Septuagenarians to leap over complex sentences without tripping over their thesaurus.

What is truly frightening is the character of this coffee bean blend is such that, despite the hour, I was able to write the former sentences in one sitting, all without using a grammar checker, but I am not a member of the Septuagenarian brigade quite yet.

Have you ever thought about The Supremes? No, I’m not referring to the song group of the 60’s and beyond, I am talking about the members of the Supreme Court. For barristers, litigants and defendants, the Supreme Court is the last bastion of what passes for justice in the United States. While some citizens may feel that the Supreme Court justices are better at passing gas than dispensing justice, they are, after all, the last stop on the train that administers the appeals process of the justice system. If you get to their august headquarters and they decline to hear your case, you need to purchase the favor of a few members of the U.S. House and Senate to win your argument.

Father Pfleger’s termination…

Good morning, Netizens…

You do remember Rev. Michael Pfleger, the priest of St. Sabina Church in Chicago, don’t you? He is the priest who made what many have stated were insulting comments about Hillary Clinton from the pulpit.

Father Pfleger of St. Sabina parish was removed from his duties there Tuesday, according to a statement released by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

In the statement, Cardinal Francis George says he asked the Rev. Michael Pfleger, 59, to “take leave for a couple of weeks from his pastoral duties.” The statement said Pfleger “does not believe this to be the right step at this time.” “While respecting his disagreement, I have nevertheless asked him to use this opportunity to reflect on his recent statements and actions in the light of the Church’s regulations for all Catholic priests,” George said.

I do find it interesting that Cardinal George spent more time debating the termination of a priest who was arrested and charged with molesting boys in his parish than he did Pfleger, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Why did he drag his heels then, but posted so quickly to remove a priest who spoke out against racism?

Oh, I’m sorry Father Pfleger hurt Hillary’s feelings. I’m sorry he mocked corporate America’s unwillingness to combat racism and sexism by failing to promote women and people of color in the board room. I’m sorry he said all those nasty things about entitlement and the white ruling class. But they were true in my opinion.

I am, in some ways, more fortunate than if I knew I were white, for I do not know what race I am. I was the outcome of a rape, and thus never knew my true father. Perhaps that is why Pfleger speaks to me when he says, “Violence is the sign of inarticulate rage.” He reaches my heart when he states that America has a rapist’s mentality against people of color, and we must ask for forgiveness.

But why did Cardinal Francis George hasten so in removing Pfleger from the pulpit, when he took his own sweet time about removing a rapist priest who was convicted and sent to prison for gross sexual crimes against little boys?

What hidden darkness lays upon the heart of Cardinal Francis George that he would so hastily reprove a priest for telling it “like it is”?


Picture credits: Cardinal George, the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, AP, Father Michael Pfleger UTube

Early morning reverie and shots at life…

Good morning, Netizens…

Dave wanders back in the doorway of the Virtual Ballroom, now eager for a hot Virtual Espresso after an early-morning do-or-die rescue mission for a client, and after answering a few messages, I sidle down by where our barrista, Juan Gomez, is peering with a beatific smile at this mornings rendition of Virtual Espresso named morning meadowlark. According to Juan, this fine virtual espresso, when suitably imbibed, will temporarily render those who drink it capable of beautifully singing any song of their choosing. Hey, after all, this is a Virtual Ballroom, right? The meadowlark picture is courtesy of Wikipedia.

Come to think of it, I did notice a few of the ghosts wandering around the Grand Ballroom a moment ago warbling some old Broadway Show Tunes, but when you are a ghost, you often do things out of sequence.

On my way to my Virtual Bar Stool, I grab a copy of the morning news hot off the tin can telegraph. According to Reuters, The Senate Intelligence Committee (isn’t that a misappropriation of the English language?) has discovered that Bush’s administration “led the nation to war on false premises,” said the committee’s Democratic Chairman, Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia. Several Republicans on the committee protested its findings as a “partisan exercise.” Several of the Democrats on the committee ostensibly then banged their beer mugs on the podium, calling the Republican Committee members liars and malcontents. As word of this news spread throughout the Grand Ballroom, a group collectively known as “The Virtual Singers”, no doubt impressed with this morning’s espresso blend, burst into anti-war songs, banging their espresso cups on the bar for emphasis.

Some local youngster is in jail this morning on a charge of committing bad math. He spent $100 for a color printer and paper to make bogus $10 bills so he could buy $90 worth of pot. After he gets out of jail, aren’t they going to send him away for Math lessons?

The number of mortgage foreclosures and payment delinquencies set records over the first three months of the year, and are expected to continue rising. At this rate, pretty soon I’ll be able to lease out space to renters in my aging, sagging-on-its-springs motorhome, Beulah the Wandering Road Hog parked out back since at $4 a gallon, who can afford to drive it?

BREAKING NEWS The Mars Lander has been told to start digging up dirt. Oh, wait a minute. Both Presidential campaigns are already doing that. Never mind.

Question of the morning is, if you could be someone else in life, other than being fabulously and independently wealthy, who would you be?


Wild Card Friday June 6, 2008

If giant pandas could talk:

Ahhh, that’s it, a little to the right if you please.

Have you got an itchy spot you can’t reach? Curl up in our Virtual Ballroom and Espresso Bar and let us scratch it for you.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images) (June 05, 2008)


Incredibly Wild Card for Thursday, June 5, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

Hoo boy! In our picture of the day, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pats Carson Duncan, 6, on the head after upon arrival in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
(June 04, 2008)

Do you think the news media could possibly taken an uglier picture of John McCain?

I cannot even remotely suggest that I support John McCain, unless he decides to cancel his candidacy for President of the United States and opts to clean the zoo cages at the Washington, DC zoo.

However, I am always a bit perplexed, even miffed, at the manner in which pictures are chosen by various news sources for the front page each day. Some of them, such as this situation where McCain more closely resembles Jabba the Hut than a Presidential candidate, smack of unfairness to me.

Of course, as always, your opinion may differ.


A Quote a Day…

Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach’s ‘St. Matthew’s Passion’ on a ukulele.

Bagdikian’s Observation

Wild Card and Reverie 06/04/2008

Good morning, Netizens…

This morning’s AP picture is another in the series of sand sculptures that I have found, in this case a sculpting contest held in Russia. I admit a perverse fascination with sand sculptors, as I truly believe this to be an incredible art form. Will this and other beautiful works of sand sculpting art in weeks or months be just another stretch of sand by the sea? Will I someday, unknowing, step upon what was once an abstract art work in passing? Other sculptures, paintings, drawings may last for generations, even eons, but sand sculptures may pass in a windstorm, it seems.

This abstract beauty is somewhat like the colorless, haunting, tiny finch that sings outside the doorway of the Virtual Ballroom each morning. In the vast scheme of the universe, he perches on the fence, yet always remaining out of view. Weighing less than a pound, an entire block of cityscape rings with sound when he opens his tiny beak and dispenses his complex sixteen or eighteen-part melodious song. Then as suddenly as he has arrived just after the dawn, he is gone on the wing to some unknown destination until tomorrow.

Like the finch and the sand sculptor, we each come to the Virtual Espresso Bar each morning bearing our unique gifts of beauty and meaning. Some may say this cannot be true, that they have no such gifts that would delight and amaze others, but I disagree. There are wonderful singers, obsessed writers, madcap humorists, rambling poets and pedantic philosophers in us all, just waiting to be discovered. I have to believe that all anyone needs is to open their hands and hearts and it will be yours. Yet in the rapid-fire pace most of us live, we often as not forget the greatest, most-powerful gift that any have seen, that being of the love for one another and this Universe in which we live. If we lose sight of that, we are doomed to perish empty, unseen and unremembered.

The barrista of the Virtual Espresso Bar sidles down my way briefly, speculatively looking at my empty cup.

“I think I’ll have another cup of today’s blend, morning songbird,” I say, and thus, with a light heart and a hidden song still ringing most gently in my ear, I’ll be prepared for whatever is yet to come.

This is not your ordinary Wild Card. Rather, this Wild Card, when it lands on the scarred espresso bar before you asks you tentatively, what is the most-beautiful gift you bring to the Community bar this morning?

A Quote a Day…

[Feminism is] a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.

Reverend Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson (1930 - )

It’s Obama…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

As of late this afternoon East Coast Time, most major news wires have given the race to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States to Barak Obama, and several, including the AP wire are speaking of a deal that perhaps is being brokered for Hillary Clinton to be Obama’s running mate.

If you were Obama, would you accept such an offer from Hillary?

The day is facing us quickly when we will see how this all plays out, perhaps as early as this evening. Purportedly Hillary has already told her campaign staff their last checks are in the mail, and both she and Bill have returned home rather than make additional appearances.

I cannot help but flash back to a statement made by one of the former members of the Tuskeegee Airmen, the all-Black pilots who served so gallantly during World War II.

According to a journalist back then, a black sharecropper and his family met several of the young pilots while they were in training in Tuskeegee, and marveled to their children, “Black pilots. Kids, I want you to remember this day. We got black pilots now, and this is history.”

This is the first day that a black man has obtained enough delegates to run for the office of the President of the United States. It is history. For better or worse, it is still history.


A Gaffe A Day…

Good morning, Netizens…

David Brookbank has summarized a great deal of what happened yesterday. Although his comments were so filled with fascinating, relevant references to various other sources, most of which I read, perhaps what he wrote that most struck me square in the forehead was toward the end.

David Brookbank wrote:

Let’s just be open. There are banned individuals on the outside of the Virtual Espresso bar, banned from entering because of some crime of excess of words or passion with words or imprecision of words or perhaps precision of words. Are there also people excluded from entering because they smell bad, or spell bad, or can’t pay for the internet access or are banned from the public library?
Sure there are. But these are just virtual questions for the virtual free speech forum at the virtual S-R. An S-R staff person wrote on a blog thread I still can’t find that the ability to write here is not a gift of the constitution, it is a gift of the publisher.

Yesterday probably ranks right up near the top of the number of strategic and/or personal mistakes that have crept into my administration of Community Comment since its inception over three months ago, because I committed the unspeakable crime of forgetting that Rocketsbrain was banned from all SR blogs. I have committed a lot of strategic, literary and procedural gaffes since this all first began, but fortunately most of them do not rise up out of the concrete and macadam to where everyone points and looks, saying, “Oh look, Missy! Dave Laird has blown it again!”

Things I no longer do department…a reverie…

Good evening, Netizens…

Here is my “short list” of things I no longer do and the reasons why:

1. I no longer do more than one cancan dance per day, primarily because nobody cheers and throws flowers at me as they once did. Instead they seem to favor rotten fruit and occasionally rocks.

2. Possibly through age and impinging imbecility I no longer speak Urdu because the Pakistani couple next door who used to have the somewhat unique habit of streaking past the living room windows without any clothing on moved back to Pakistan.

3. I no longer am entertained by the elderly toothless mutt next door who once used to come over and gum my leg for entertainment. Now I simply hand him a rubber dog bone; that seems to keep him happy for hours on end.

4. Like most young men, I used to spend countless hours “adjusting” myself before going out in public so as to put my best foot forward. As I have aged, I have had to become more efficient in how I use my time, spending it now trying to remember to put on shoes and socks that match.

5. As I age, bless their hearts, my loved ones try to convince me of new things I should avoid doing each year, generally about the time of my birthday. I generally try out what they have told me not to do at least once, only to discover most of the time they were right.

6. In my ancestors day, according to my great-grandfather’s diary he never once saw my great-grandmother naked, despite having four children together. Unlike great-grandpa, one of my best friends, a septugenarian, says he has seen his wife naked many times, and she him. I no longer ask him any questions about such things, simply out of embarrassment. What I don’t know I cannot discuss in public.

7. I have trimmed down the number of devices and gadgets I require to sustain my life since my earlier years. The coffee pot, channel changer and the microwave oven just about complete my list of things I cannot do without. It will save time if I ever have to move again.

8. Earlier in life I used to love chasing my wife who, in those days, was frequently attired only in a towel and her gracious smile, and I could catch her four days out of five. Alas, I fear I am aging, for now I wait until she gets dressed, then make an attempt to chase her. Damn, but she has gotten faster every year!

9. Years ago, a lot of people years learned to steer a wide berth around my hot rod as I could break windows with one good blast from my custom-tuned open-draught exhaust pipes that shot blue flames out the back. I no longer do that because, at 4 miles to the gallon, I would have to mortgage the house to buy gas to drive it around the block. Besides, how, at age 60-something, would I explain a ticket for an illegal exhibition of speed to our two resident cops, Dan and Jim?

10. I used to spend time gazing out over the pastures of plenty in the summer, dreaming of things I wanted to do while I was still young. I still gaze over those pastures, but now I no longer dream of things to do, but rather am content with who I have become.

Do YOU have a list of preoccupations from your youth that you would either rather forget or no longer do?


The Things People Do Department…

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s picture we see participants of the second annual Red Bull Soapbox Derby compete with their rolling hospital bed in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday. (June 01, 2008) The reason I chose this picture was because about twenty-five years ago, while suitably oiled and primed with some of Colorado’s favorite adult beverage, some friends and I decided one blustery spring day to hold the first annual barstool race in Central City, Colorado. We had to buy quite a few brewski’s for the Town Fathers in order to get them to comply, but eventually they were faced with the decision to either pass out and fall off the barstools where our proposal was being considered or accept our offer as good for tourism.

You may think I jest, but browse to, one of the many resources for dedicated bar stool racers in modern times. In the parlance of the times, we have come a long way, baby.

Our rules were pretty funny, given how bar stool racing has apparently advanced since then. The bar stools all had to come from a working bar in Central City and must have seen service at least once within the previous 10 years as a regular bar stool in Central City. The completed units could be no larger than the outside perimeter of the normal bar stool legs. It could be motorized or not; how it was driven was entirely up to the contestant. You could have a steering wheel, of course, so you could steer the damned contraption, and that was it! That first year, the motors ranged from a Stihl chainsaw motor to a 15 horsepower Briggs and Stratton power plant engine that someone had surreptitiously “borrowed” from the U.S. Forest Service nearby.

It was a truly fine frolic, I must admit. Half the participants never made it through the first turn, and by the third and final turn of the race, there were less than a third of the original 30-some contestants still in the race. Although I did fall on my butt twice during the race, I did manage to finish in last place. No trophies for this kid, uh uh. I did merit a really sore behind and a hangover that lasted until Monday.

The sad part is, look as I might this morning, I could find no references to our Early Spring bar stool races anywhere online. I would speculate that with Central City now a big-time gambling town, people probably just found other sources of entertainment.


Casey King’s farewell…

Good morning, Netizens…

Just as I try to always make new arrivals feel at home in our Virtual Ballroom, I try to keep everyone informed about changes in the instance that someone notifies me they are leaving.

Thus I note, in Casey King’s own words this morning, that he is dissatisfied with the Community Comment Virtual Ballroom, is leaving us forever and wrote thus:

A Brief Examination…

An Examination of Community Comment
June 1, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

This morning, like most mornings, I am sitting in the Great Chair overlooking the Virtual Ballroom at 3:00 AM, an hour most people would find more suitable for sleeping than writing. We just passed an anniversary last week, and like all the various experiments I have undertaken in my life, I figure it is time to assess and perhaps reflect on not only where we stand today, but examine our collective history.

I wrote my first official message for the Virtual Ballroom on March 24, 2008, and I quietly allowed that three month anniversary date to pass without comment last month. Nobody, myself included, ever figured Community Comment would make it this far. That is because Community Comment, much like the Virtual Ballroom and Espresso Bar, operates without any visible means of support and, for the most part, free of any of the heavy-handed oversight of the Editorial Board of the Spokesman-Review, through whose auspices we continue to operate. In fact, in looking back over 90 days of continuous operation, I cannot recall anytime that a member of the Spokesman-Review has once posted a message in our blog. In the past I have sent e-mail messages about technical issues about the administration of Community Comment to the entire Editorial Board, including Editor Steve Smith, and I can count the number of responses I have received on one hand. So it is not as if I belong in the “inner circle” of journalists that truly administer the Spokesman-Review. I am not a SR employee, nor do I speak for them. Hell, they do not talk to me on a frequent enough basis to make it worth mention.

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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane.

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