Tuesday, October 31, 2006

No Ghosts Today

I had originally planned to have another ghost story today, but I've told the only three real-life ghost stories I know. I then considered finding something else online and posting it, but that's just not what my original intents were. So I have no ghost story to share today. If you're just dying for a ghost story on Halloween, check out Halloween Ghost Stories.

And have a happy and safe Halloween.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Butterflies in the Rain

Have you ever seen a butterfly in the rain? By nature, butterflies must remain in shelter when it rains. The weight of the raindrops on their wings makes it impossible for them to fly when it's raining. So, have you ever seen a butterfly fly in the rain? I have.

My mother passed away at the relatively young age of fifty-eight. After battling for nearly a year with an enemy the doctors were unable to diagnose, my mother succumbed to cancer. She was misdiagnosed with "mini-strokes" and kidney failure, and a number of minor conditions, while the cancer ravaged her, spreading through her body until a healthy internal organ did not exist.

Before her passing, we all had the chance to say our goodbyes. Not much of a chance, as the diagnosis of cancer was followed quite rapidly by her passing, but we all had the chance to express our love for her and say "goodbye." We were at peace with it, because she was a Godly woman -- a Christian -- who secured her place in Heaven decades ago.

Her final moments on this Earth were spent with family. All four of her children, their spouses, and three grandchildren were at her bedside when she drew her last breath. It's an experience I'll never forget but don't plan to get into now.

Mom touched so many lives that her funeral was standing room only and over a thousand people paid their last respects during the visitation the day before. In accordance with her wishes, after a brief private, family-only viewing, the visitation and funeral were closed-casket. We placed into the casket before it was sealed a poem I wrote for her and some of her favorite things: Wise potato chips, Reese peanut butter cups, Clorets gum, and an iris. Her family was the last to see her off once again. There was no graveside service.

Later that day, my wife and I paid a visit to the cemetery, where we placed some more of her favorite things: fresh flowers and silk butterflies. Mom always loved butterflies.

As you'll recall, just over two months ago I was involved in a rather lucky auto accident. Lucky because I survived without a scratch. I lost traction in the pouring down rain. The back of the car spun 270 degrees as I slid across the roadway and into the ditch on the opposite side. Upon contact with the solid ground that rose up from the ditch into a cornfield, the car began to roll. I believe it only rolled once, but it's hard to be certain -- I was a bit disoriented afterwards.

I did have my wits about me enough to jump from the car immediately when it came to a stop. I guess it's a good thing I wasn't injured, because that couldn't have been helpful. I flagged down a passing motorist who -- though they wouldn't let me in their car in the driving rain -- was kind enough to let me use a cell phone to call 911.

It wasn't until after the Sheriff's Deputy arrived that I was able to locate my own cell phone. It was lying in a puddle of water in the grass with a book I had been reading and the Palm Pilot I'm writing this on now. As I gathered up my scattered belongings, I looked into the car for anything that I might need to secure before leaving it with the wrecker company. I opened the back passenger door and the most beautiful Monarch butterfly buzzed past my face as it escaped the vehicle. At the time I wondered how it got into the car, but dismissed it to the shattered front passenger door window. It's only now, almost three months later, as the rain beats the pavement outside once again, that it comes back to haunt me. How did that butterfly manage to fly in a downpour? Where did it come from? And how did it get into the car? And when?

Or was it not really a butterfly at all? Could it have been an Angel of Mercy sent to shield me from harm? Sent in the form of something that was so dear to mother?


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Getting Past the Graphics

I know if you're reading this on a mobile device, the graphics in the header can be a major inconvenience for you. I deal with it whenever I look at the site on my Palm handheld. I've added a link immediately after the title (Average Joe American) that says "Click here to jump to posts." In the future, clicking this link will skip you past all of the header graphics and right to the post content.

Hope this makes things a little easier for you.


I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

This business of turning the clocks back an hour really stinks! I know this is how it would be if Indiana hadn't adopted Daylight Saving Time this year, which is why I say we should spring forward and never fall back. I lived for almost thirty years in parts of the world that observe DST. Eight years in Indiana has been enough for me to realize the senselessness of the whole thing.

It's 6:40 pm as I write this. I'm giving my son his bath because it's already dark outside. Yesterday at this time of day it was 7:40. We've been cheated out of a full hour of daylight: a full hour of outside playtime on the first nice day we've had in over a week. Tomorrow when I come home from work, it'll be dark outside before I even get home.

I challenge anyone out there to give me a good argument for not switching to DST forever (springing forward, that is). I don't want to hear historical arguments -- I know the history of it. But what is the purpose of it TODAY? Any takers?


The Unexplainable Engineer

When my wife was eight years old, she had a frightening brush with the unexplained.

She was lying in bed one night in a dark bedroom. Her bedroom was in the front of the house, off the living room, while her brother's was in the attic and her parents slept in the addition -- down the hall, around the corner, through the family room, and down a longer hall -- completely out of earshot.

Shortly after everyone else had gone to bed, my wife looked up from her pillow to see the head of a man peering around the corner from the hallway. Frightened as an eight-year-old would be, she closed her eyes.

If you've ever had children, you know that they go through a stage where they believe that you can't see them if they can't see you. So they close their eyes when they play hide-n-seek and hide right out in the open, thinking you can't see them because their eyes are closed. It was similar reasoning that caused my then-young future wife to think the man would go away -- if she couldn't see him he couldn't harm her.

Upon opening her eyes a few moments later she discovered something more frightening: the man was standing fully in the doorway looking into the room. He was not a tall man, but not particularly short, either. She couldn't make out his age for his hair was covered by a hat -- the hat of a railroad engineer -- matching the rest of his clothing.

She closed her eyes again and thrust the covers over her head, hoping once again that this intruder-engineer would disappear. Why children don't scream or call out for help in such situations, I'll never understand. I guess sometimes you can just be too frightened to think the situation through that rationally.

Several minutes later she opened her eyes with the covers still over her head and listened: silence. Hoping for the safety of an empty room, she slowly pulled the covers down from her face and peered around. He was no longer in the doorway. Relieved, she slowly began to sit up and look around the room. Where she saw him again. At the corner of the foot of her bed. With a muffled whimper, she dove back beneath the covers, where she cried herself to sleep.

A week later, my wife found herself and her family at the home of her maternal great-grandmother. She had said nothing about the railroad engineer to anyone. In fact, she wasn't sure if it had actually happened or been a dream.

Until after lunch, while the women of the family were gathered in the dining room and the men in the family room, she overheard a conversation. Her great-grandmother was relaying a dream she had to the other women. A dream that involved a railroad engineer sneaking into her room in the middle of the night.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Energy Policy Act of 2005

From Wikipedia.com: One more thought, with Daylight Saving Time coming to an end for this year: don't get too comfortable, it won't be long before we switch back. In fact, it'll happen sooner than you might know.
...changing the start and end dates of daylight saving time starting in 2007. Clocks will be set ahead one hour on the second Sunday of March instead of the current first Sunday of April. Clocks will be set back one hour on the first Sunday in November... .
I repeat what I've said one, two, three times before: we should spring forward and never again fall back. We should put an end to this silly time change business. I personally have had enough of it.


Daylight Lost

Tonight's the night. I wonder how many fellow Hoosiers will forget. How many have just totally forgotten about it? How many people in Indiana will arrive at church or work tomorrow an hour early? Because they forgot to "fall back" tonight.

That's right. With the newly observed (for Indiana) Daylight Savings Time, we've been living an hour in the future all summer long. Tonight we get back to normal.

Don't forget to set your clocks back tonight. Officially, at 2:00 am it will become 1:00 am again.

Good luck with that!


President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20061028.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "I believe that our economy grows and the American Dream reaches more citizens when you keep more of what you earn. With more money in your pocket, it is easier for families to afford a good education, it is easier for young people to afford the down payment on a home of their own, and it's easier for small business owners to go out and invest and create jobs."

Grandfather's Last Request

circa 1970

I was just a very young child when my maternal grandfather passed away after losing his battle with cancer. I have very vague memories of him, but have been told by my family that he treated me as if I was very special to him. I like to think that is true.

At the time of his illness, my family did not attend church anywhere. I don't know what denomination my grandfather labeled himself as, but my grandmother was Methodist, so I have to assume that he was as well. He had tried for years to get my parents to start taking us all to church. As he came closer to the end of his battle with cancer, his pleadings became increasingly more urgent. They continued to go unheeded. When he passed away, we still were not attending church.

* * *

My father has always been a man of many talents. Many of which he has allowed to go greatly underutilized. One such talent, that would probably surprise many people who have known him, is a surprising ability to paint. To this very day, I have several oil paintings that he did when I was young. One such painting is of my maternal great-grandparents. My father painted it from a photograph, and it is uncannily realistic.

As I was growing up, I remember this particular painting hanging on the dining room wall of my childhood home. There was another painting my father did from a photograph hanging on the living room wall over the television set: a painting of the grandfather I never really got to know. Beneath this painting, sitting on top of the television, was a clock. It was a small clock styled after it's much larger cousin, the grandfather clock, with pendulum, chimes -- the whole works.

* * *

One day, an unknown number of years after my grandfather's passing (unknown to me, because I have very vague memories of my grandfather but rather vivid memories of what follows), my family was gathered in the house. It must have been a weekend day, because on any given day during the week there would have been hardly anyone home. I remember that the majority of the family -- if not all of us -- were home on this particular day.

We were in the living room watching television -- my dad sitting in his chair, my mother in her's, and I lying on the living room floor in front of the television set. I'm unsure where the rest of the family was, but I'm nearly certain they were all in the house some place.

As we were watching television, there came a rather loud ka-thunk from behind the television set. Startled, we all tried to find the source of the sound. I believe it was my father who first discovered that a picture had fallen from the wall. It was the painting of my grandfather. There had been no apparent cause for the painting to fall from the wall. The windows and door were all closed, eliminating the possibility of any draft. The cats were nowhere to be found.

* * *

This occurred on at least one other occasion, to my knowledge. Again, I remember it as the entire family being home at the time. This time, however, the painting fell from the wall as my father watched. As he later described it, the painting first moved away from the wall just the slightest bit, hovered, then fell. On neither occassion was there any damage to the painting or the frame that held it.

* * *

Such a thing occurring once, with no real eyewitness to the event (we were all just ear-witnesses the first time, so to speak), wasn't much cause for concern. Stranger things have happened. The second time it happened, with my father looking on at the very strange behavior of the painting, presented cause for a bit of concern. But I have no knowledge of the painting ever jumping from it's home over the television after that.

But that wasn't the end of the strange occurrences. You'll remember the clock I mentioned earlier. The miniature grandfather-style clock that sat on top of the television, beneath the jumpy painting. Again, with the majority of the family in the house, and several of us gathered in the living room watching television, we found ourselves dumbstruck. This small grandfather-style clock, weighing enough to require a two-handed lift, went crashing to the floor beside the television. By "crashing," I refer only to the sound the clock made when it struck the carpeted flooring, because it -- like the painting -- sustained no damage.

* * *

Again, that wasn't the end of it. I don't recall how many times this relatively weighty grandfather-style clock went strolling across the television set and diving off, but someone in my family -- I unfortunately cannot remember whom, though I would have to guess that it was my father again -- witnessed this stange occurrence on one occassion. As it was later described, this heavyish clock actually rose from the surface of the television's top just the slightest bit and began moving toward the edge of the set. Ever so slowly it made the trek to the edge of the set and beyond, hovered, then dropped to the floor -- again sustaining no damage.

* * *

As I've said, I don't know exactly how many times the grandfather-style clock took a dive. And I don't know the time span of these events that occurred with the painting and the clock -- I was a very young child of the age when the only meaning the word "time" has is when it's prefixed with "bed-" or "dinner-." But I do know that these strange events did end. They ended when my parents found a church that they felt comfortable with and began taking the family every Sunday.

I can't say that the ending of these strange events and the beginning of a long life of going to church three times a week are connected. I can't say that these strange events are related to my grandfather's long-suffering attempts to get us into a church. I can only say that, at the very least, they are quite coincidental.

* * *

If I remember correctly, the painting I described above -- the one of my mother's father -- currently resides in my brother's possession. I would be surprised if he actually has it hanging on a wall somewhere.

I don't know what happened to the clock.


Friday, October 27, 2006


It's Halloween weekend. Okay, that may be stretching it a bit since Halloween is on Tuesday, but why not? This time of year, you hear lots from the wackos who speak out that Halloween is evil, and it's a Satanic holiday, and we should do away with it.

I'm a Conservative Christian, and I'm here to tell you that's a bunch of bunk (my personal opinion, but hey, that's why you're here). Do Satan worshippers and wiccans and whatever those Earth/nature/tree worshippers call themselves do anything special on Halloween? It wouldn't surprise me at all. But does that make it a Satanic (or otherwise evil) holiday? I say absolutely not. In fact, I'm not even sure you can call it a "holiday" any more than Earth Day is a holiday. No one is off work or school just because it's Halloween. The mail still runs. You can still go to the bank.

So what is Halloween? I could give you the historical version, but you can get that on Google or Wikipedia. What you can't get from them is what I think Halloween is (not until Google adds this post to their index, anyway).

Halloween is like going to an amusement park in July. It's like running down the street after the ice cream truck hoping to get a Froze Toes or other cool creamy confection. It's like splashing in puddles after a hard summer rain. Halloween is fun. It's fun for kids, and can be fun for parents, too. It can be fun for everyone, really -- just keep it clean and safe.

Halloween is the first big thing kids have to look forward to after summer ends and school resumes. It gives kids something to look forward to as they sit in a classroom watching the leaves fall, remembering an all too short summer break. Halloween is what you make it. You choose whether it's good or evil. You choose whether it's fun or just another day. For me and my family, it will be Fun (that's fun with a capital F).

My son chose his costume earlier than usual this year: a bat. My daughter will be a flower. We'll give out candy and go trick-or-treating, then stop by my wife's parents' house to show off the kids' costumes. When it's all over, my son will trade in some of his candy for Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, which are much healthier, less fattening, and don't cause tooth decay. My wife and I will probably take enough pictures to fill a CD.

Over the next few days, I'll have a little Halloween fun here on the blog, as well. I'll be sharing with you some ghost stories that are actually based on true stories. You may not find them spooky or scary, but they all have an element of the unknown. I hope you enjoy them. And if you've got a ghost story to share, send it in to averagejoe.blogs@gmail.com.

And I hope you (safely) enjoy Halloween, as well. Here's wishing you a Happy Halloween, whether you want it to be or not.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Book Review: The Real America by Glenn Beck

Book ReviewI haven't yet reviewed a nonfiction book here. Most of the books I read are fiction, and most of those are Christian fiction. Too much nonfiction tends to become either outdated or historical if you don't read it as a new release, and much of what's left is just preachy. From time to time, however, I'll stumble across a book that breaks that mold.

Glenn Beck, nationally syndicated radio personality and host of The Glenn Beck Show on CNN Headline News published a book in 2003 that is still timely today: The Real America.

First, an introduction to Glenn Beck. This is how I see Glenn Beck. I don't know if he would approve of my introduction or not.

Glenn Beck is, above all else, a Conservative (with a capital C). He doesn't come across as entirely Republican. He voices his support for President Bush, not because of party affiliation, but because they share Conservative values. He believes the war should be won, not ended. He strongly opposes illegal immigration.

There's so much that could be said of Glenn Beck, but that's enough for you to know where he comes from.

In The real America, Beck treats us to his unique commentary on life in America. From political correctness to religion (he's a reluctant Mormon), to business, Beck tells it like it is with little or no concern for what anyone else thinks about what he says.

If you're a Republican, or just a non-party Conservative, you'll love Beck's work. If you're a Liberal or Democrat, you'll love to hate him. If you're a Centrist, maybe you can laugh a little at everyone.


Monday, October 23, 2006

The Daily Gripe #40 - Restore & Renew

My full system restore is coming along slowly, for several reasons:
  1. While trying to back up some critical data to CD, the system locked up. Instead, I had to manually move the data to another hard drive;
  2. The Restore Disk that came with our computer is corrupted, yielding several Abort/Retry/Ignore errors. Even after completion, several required files were missing. I had to get a new Windows disk to reinstall;
  3. After reinstalling Windows, I had to manually delete several Composite USB drivers before installing drivers for my Broadband modem;
  4. I can't seem to locate drivers for a couple of my peripherals;
  5. To maintain my profiles in Firefox and the Mozilla browser my wife uses, as well as Thunderbird, my email client, I had to copy several directories before reinstalling Windows, then paste them back after reinstalling the software;
  6. To install the driver for my broadband (cable) modem, I had to install Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the install guide. Version 6.0 is included on the driver disk, but Internet Explorer 5.0+ is required to use Adobe Reader 6.0. I don't use Internet Explorer at all and have no desire to install an upgraded version of the junk on my computer. So I installed Adobe Reader version 3.0 from another disc, but it wouldn't read the files due to newer features in use. So I searched my discs and found a copy of version 5.5 that works fine;
  7. On top of all of that, I had to leave for work early this morning, so I ran out of time to work on it last night;
  8. I have a movie I want to watch with my son tonight, so I won't get anything done on it after work;
  9. My son has basketball after I get off work tomorrow, so I won't get much done on it then;
  10. I may be taking the air bags out of my wrecked Focus on Wednesday to sell them to someone, and mowing the lawn, and getting the hallway ready to repaint... .
The list goes on and on. But I got enough done to cover the essentials for now.



I still can't find the stinking audio drivers, so I have no sound at all right now. Okay, so maybe it's time I upgrade from Windows 98? Yeah, I know. Soon, maybe.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Daily Gripe #39 - Restoration

Computer problems have driven me to the great dreaded Full System Restore. I don't think I even need to say how much that gripes me!


Saturday, October 21, 2006

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20061021.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "The terrorists are trying to divide America and break our will, and we must not allow them to succeed. So America will stand with the democratic government of Iraq. We will help Prime Minister Maliki build a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. And we will help Iraq become a strong democracy that is a strong ally in the war on terror."

The Daily Gripe #38 - Learn Something

This is petty, I admit, and it will be brief because I'm at work.

I'm taking a Computer Based Training course for a certification coming up in November. At the completion of one step in the course, the following is displayed:
In Step 4, you learnt how to make an accurate diagnosis. ...
Now, why do you think that really gripes me!? My company paid another company big bucks to access this course, and they don't even have a grasp of the English language. Learnt! Come on! That really, really gripes me!


fwd: Breaking News

From MSNBC News:

-----Original Message-----
From: MSNBC Breaking News
Sent: Sat, 21 Oct 2006 05:16:37 -0700 (PDT)

MSNBC Breaking News: Bush says he will consult with generals on change of tactics in Iraq.

Find out more at http://breakingnews.msnbc.com

Is this just a ploy to stall? Or could the President be seriously considering tactical changes? More to follow....


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Reader Comments

Reader Comments on Justice Scalia Gets It. Do You?
Anonymous said...

You touch on an excellent point here.

Perhaps the MOST important job that the President does is to select those who sit on the bench in the Supreme Court. It is this act - more than any other - that will affect the lives of U.S. citizens every day.

It is the most important job that any President will do.

Actually, It was Justice Scalia that made the point to which you refer. My post was a direct quote from him. However, this does bring one very important point to my mind. While this indeed is the most important job that any President will do -- because it affects everyone every day for many years due to the lifetime appointment of Federal Judges and Justices -- it gives every U.S. adult citizen the opportunity to do the most important job that they will ever do in just over two weeks: get out there and vote!
While we may not be voting for the office of President this year, there are many seats on the U.S. Senate that are on the ballot. Every judicial nominee that the President selects must be confirmed by the Senate before taking the bench. You now have the opportunity to impact what Senators will be involved in those confirmation hearings.

Which gives me the opportunity to voice my opinion once more. I'll bet that doesn't surprise you. In 2004 I voted for the candidate running against Democrat Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. Not for any reason other than the fact that I think Evan Bayh is such a terrible Senator that even a monkey could do a better job.

This year, Senator Richard Lugar (Republican) is up for reelection. If you've been around here long, it's no surprise to you that I'm a conservative. But that doesn't necessarily mean I always vote Republican. In 2006, for the Indiana Senate, I'm throwing my support behind the Independent candidate, Rick Hale. Rick Hale is both a social conservative and a fiscal conservative, as well as a candidate who has the courage to stand up for what he believes, rather than for a party line. While I believe that Richard Lugar has done a fine service to the country and to the people of Indiana, I believe it's time for a change to someone with morals, conservative values, and the freedom to do what's right, not just what his party says is right.

Good luck, Rick Hale. You'll have my vote on November 7.


Reader Comments

Reader Comments on Childhood Innocence:
Anonymous said...

Yesterday, my youngest child turned 18 years old.

Just last week he was 1 year old and we were putting together his first Halloween costume.

I suspect that in less than a year he will be in Parris Island, SC training to be a U.S. Marine (his dream for many years now).

Those 18 years have gone by very, very fast.

I believe you are right about your calendar. Put it away. Take out the camera. Enjoy every moment, good and bad.

Next week, he will turn 18 years old.

Childhood Innocence

My three-year-old son is a very intelligent boy. Of course I'd say that, right? After all, I'm his Daddy, so I naturally would think he's very intelligent. Well, my opinion is as unbiased as it can possibly be. My son is just an intelligent kid.

During my vacation we took him to Pumpkin Works to pick out his Halloween pumpkin. He must have looked forward to it for a week, based on how much he talked about it. Every time he asked to go, we'd answer, "In a few more days," or "In a couple of days."

Now Halloween is coming up and, like all kids, he's looking forward to trick-or-treating. He picked out his costume himself (it's a bat). It's all made me do a little thinking about the passing of time.

I'm tempted to buy him a calendar and start marking off each day so he can tangibly see Halloween getting closer. I'd put a big orange pumpkin on Halloween day and let him mark out each day with a big bold X when he goes to bed. I can just imagine the excitement building up inside him each night.

Then I have second thoughts. At three years old my son is blessed with True Innocence. He understands right and wrong, but he isn't afflicted with the knowledge of just how much evil there is in the world. And he doesn't care -- or even know, really -- if this is Monday, if it's October, or what the date is, or even what year it is. In his world, those things don't matter. Today is just another day of his childhood, and I hesitate to do anything to make him actually start realizing that these precious days are numbered. It's already going too fast for his Mommy and me. I don't want to do that to him.

So I'm scrapping the calendar idea. Let his child last as long as possible. Because, "in a few more days," he could be a man.


Back To Work

It's back to work today. I'll be leaving in about ninety minutes. My wife is still sleeping. My daughter is still sleeping. My son is rolling all over me and the couch that I'm sitting on. It'll be hard to say "goodbye" this morning after spending so much time with them over the past six days.

My daughter is waking now, which means my wife will be soon. Oh, what I'd give for just one more day of vacation.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Daily Gripe #37 - Camouflage

I'm no military strategist. I'm certainly not qualified to make battle plans or lead troops into battle. I served eight years on Active Duty in the Army. I was lucky enough to get to see other parts of the world at no cost to myself (other than my portion of taxes that covered such things). I was also lucky enough to never be deployed into harms way. I served during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. I served during Operation Just Cause, and numerous other maneuvers. I was lucky enough to be assigned to units that were not deployed in any of these activities.

Lucky, I say, because although I was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for my country, I was never asked to. While I have the utmost respect for those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world, I am thankful today that I was never asked to go into battle.

But something really gripes me!

Any time you turn on the network news -- CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, MSNBC, CNN -- you see two things. First, you see insurgents on the street, armed and dressed in the common attire of the rest of society. Second, you see United States military members on the same city street, standing next to armored desert-colored "Humvees," wearing full battle dress: desert camouflage; Kevlar helmets; LBE belts heavily laden with ammunition pouches, canteens and other equipment; cravats; combat boots; flak vests; full ruck sacks; etc. What's the problem here? Let me tell you.

During my time in the military, while on training maneuvers, I never found myself even remotely comfortable in full battle dress. That's the first problem. While our troops are loaded down with a hundred pounds of movement-restricting equipment, the enemy looks just like any other man on the street.

Which is the second problem: our troops stick out like sore thumbs while the enemy blends in. If some Saddam-loyalist freak wants to kill an American GI all he has to do is look for the color of desert sand in the middle of town. Boom! And if he hits an Iraqi civilian, who cares? But how does that same GI defend himself? Duck! Because if he retuns fire, at whom does he shoot? If our soldier kills an Iraqi civilian because he can't tell the difference between a civilian and the enemy, he could go on trial for his life. At the very least, that soldier, the American military, President Bush, and the entire cause in Iraq will be dragged through the press and crucified for killing an innocent civilian.

I know we have to outfit our troops with the latest in protective equipment for their safety, but come on! What protection does a person get from wearing a desert camouflaged uniform on the streets of Baghdad? You may as well dress him in a t-shirt and paint a bullseye on his back!

I served during the late eighties and early nineties, more than twenty years after the "end" of the Vietnam War, and we wore jungle fatigues! Why? We haven't fought a war in the jungle since Vietnam, but American GI's stationed here in the U.S. are still issued jungle fatigues!

I'm a supporter of the military, and I voted for President Bush twice, and for his father twice, but I think it's past time to outfit our soldiers with real camouflage. The word camouflage is defined as: the act of concealing the identity of something or someone by modifying its appearance. Tell me, how is it camouflage if we dress our troops in ways that make them unmistakably identifiable as American miltary?

I believe if we ever want to truly win this war and bring our troops home we need to forget about such nonsense as the antiquated and oft-overlooked (by others) Geneva Conventions and adopt a new convention: When In Rome. That's right, if we're going to fight a nonstandard enemy on his own turf, we have to fight like the enemy. We have to look like the enemy, act like the enemy, and fight by the same rules (or lack thereof). As long as we continue to hold ourselves to a standard that no one holds this enemy to, we will be fighting an uphill battle.

Tell me what you think. Email me, or submit your comments using the link below.


I Need More Time, Captain!

Today is the last of six short days of vacation. Tomorrow, it's back to the long commutes and the daily grind of work. I guess I should be thankful for the time off with my family, but it just wasn't long enough: I need more time!

We did have some fun together, though. Every October here in (what I call) West-Central Indiana, there is a week-long event called The Covered Bridge Festival. Now, if you've ever been to a festival of any kind, you might not be expecting what you would find at the Covered Bridge Festival. It's more of a large flea market than a festival. There really aren't any rides, or games, or a midway. It's a bunch of vendors who gather in one place hocking their wares. Some of the "merchandise" you find is new, desirable, and priced right, while some of it can only be described as junk (which is still a quite generous label). Every year at Festival time, all along the routes to the three Festival sites, every home you pass is having a week long yard sale -- junk sales, to be exact. On Friday, we hit the yard sale circuit, where I bought a nice Black & Decker hedge trimmer for ten bucks.

Saturday we went to Plainfield, Indiana (just west of Indianapolis), stopping at some of the many yard sales along the way. Now that I think about it, this is where I actually bought the hedge trimmer. I didn't find anything of use at Friday's yard sale outing.

Sunday was a rest day. Kind of. I mowed the grass, used my new hedge trimmer to (obviously) trim the hedges and cut the branches off some unwanted trees growing behind our back fence. We also took down the front door and repainted it. More of a chore day than a rest day, but not too bad. I actually enjoyed trimming the hedges.

Monday, before the rain could move in, we headed out for the Covered Bridge Festival. We had already been to one of the three Festival locations (in Rockville, Indiana) on Friday during our yard sale outing. Sunday's outing took us to Mansfield, Indiana, to the old Mansfield Mill, which is actually the largest of the three Festival locations (we don't usually go to the third, located in Bridgeton, Indiana). We got a "shingle" with my daughter's name and birthdate on it to add to the shingle we got in Gatlinburg on our honeymoon and the shingle we got three years ago at the Festival with my son's name and birthdate on it. These shingles hang on our back deck together. We got through the Festival just before the rain started falling (and falling, and falling, and falling until early the next morning). After leaving the Festival, we took my 5-1/2 month old daughter to have her ears pierced. She was incredibly calm throughout the process, and though I was unsure about it beforehand, I have to say she looks mighty cute with those little diamonds (CZ, actually) in her ears.

Tuesday brought another fall tradition. Each October we take our son (and now our daughter) to Pumpkin Works. My son gets to pick out the pumpkin for his jack-o-lantern, which he and my wife will carve today. We also trek our way through a maze cut into a three-acre cornfield (there's a nine-acre version, as well, but my son isn't patient enough for that one yet). We have pumpkin ice cream and peanut butter fudge, and just enjoy a little time together as a family.

Today, Wednesday, the whole vacation wraps up. I'm sanding and refinishing the shingles I mentioned earlier, as they've become quite weather-beaten over the past three to four years. I'll be rehanging them when I'm finished, adding my daughter's shingle to the group. My wife and son will be carving his pumpkin and putting it out on the porch tonight. The rest of the day will be spent getting the house recovered from my time off, cleaning my son's room, and hopefully getting a little rest before returning to work tomorrow.

It's been a nice non-travelling vacation. I've enjoyed spending the time with my family, and, though I'm resigned to it, I'm not looking forward to returning to work (away from my family) again tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hostettler for Congress - Indiana

With election day right around the corner, it's important that every American get out and vote. It is especially important that those of us among the Conservative ranks get out and cast a ballot for those who share our values. That's why I proudly support John Hostettler for the U.S. Congress for the state of Indiana.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Justice Scalia Gets It. Do You?

From NewsMax.com:
Arguing that liberal judges in the past improperly established new political rights such as abortion, Scalia warned, "Someday, you're going to get a very conservative Supreme Court and regret that approach."

"On controversial issues on stuff like homosexual rights, abortion, we debate with each other and persuade each other and vote on it either through representatives or a constitutional amendment," the Reagan appointee said.

"Whether it's good or bad is not my job. My job is simply to say if those things you find desirable are contained in the Constitution," he said.
At least one of the Justices understands his role on the High Court for what it truly is.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20061014.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "In response to North Korea's provocative actions, America is working with our partners in the region and in the United Nations Security Council to ensure that there are serious repercussions for the North Korean regime. ... North Korea has been pursuing nuclear weapons and defying its international commitments for years. ... And with its actions this week, the North Korean regime has once again broken its word, provoked an international crisis, and denied its people the opportunity for a better life."

Friday, October 13, 2006


The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a phobia (fear) of the number thirteen.
It's almost 11:00 pm here in the United States Eastern Time Zone, and it appears that my family and I have made it safely through Friday the 13th. Not that I'm prone to superstition. In fact, I didn't realize it was Friday the 13th today until I started writing this post just a few moments ago.

In preparing to write this entry, I read up a little about the history of para-..... parask-..... parasi-..... the fear of Friday the 13th. There are nearly as many supposed reasons for this irrational fear as there are websites that discuss it. From having religious roots (though the Bible nowhere describes 13 as an unlucky number, and the Friday on which Christ was crucified is called "Good Friday), to ties to Norse mythology, to just about everything else in between, you could probably take your pick at any one of the supposed roots to this ridiculous fear.

The bottom line is, Friday the 13th is just another day on the calendar. There really is nothing to fear about it. Well, I guess there is one logical fear you could have: the fear of yet another Friday the 13th movie sequel.

But if you actually want to have a little fun with this baseless fear that reportedly afflicts from nine to ten percent of the American population, try taking the Phobia Quiz at Infoplease.com. It's quick, and it, too, is meaningless, but I scored ten out of eleven. If you take it, drop me a note and let me know which question you think I answered incorrectly.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Vacation Time

The countdown has reached zero and it's finally time for a little vacation. For the next six days, I'll be getting a little rest and relaxation, taking a few day trips with my family, and probably doing a million "projects" for my wife. If the posting gets light, bear with me.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Podcast of the Week

I don't listen to much radio at all anymore. There are several podcasts I listen to on a regular basis -- many of which I have mentioned here before. I get my music, news, and tech updates through these podcasts.

One of the musicians I've heard in some of these podcasts is Matthew Ebel, and in addition to being an independent musician, he's also a podcaster. High Orbit, Ebel's podcast, is both entertaining and unique.

High Orbit features selections from other podsafe musicians (and occassionally some of Ebel's own music). But unlike many other music podcasts out there, High Orbit puts Matthew Ebel at the helm of the UTF Revolution, an intergalactic freight ship staffed by droids and Captained by the musician/podcaster himself. In addition to some great music selections, you get to share the experience as Ebel suffers a bout of Galactic Biodiesel Plague (it will teach you a whole new respect for rats), and be there when Ebel's droid, Prodo 1, mutinously assumes command of the ship while Ebel floats in space attached only by a tether.

It may sound cheesy, but it's actually quite entertaining. It beats the drivel-filled music podcasts so popular these days. Give it a chance before you write it off.

You can subscribe here, or for a quick sample, download a recent episode. And don't forget to visit Matthew Ebel on the web and support him by purchasing a CD.


And by the way: episodes 13 and 14 -- they're keepers.

The Daily Gripe #36 - Time Travel

Not travel THROUGH time, but the travel OF time. It's just too slow! Time files when you're having fun. We all know that. But what happens when you're looking FORWARD to something? Something a few days away, for example. Like vacation. Then time seems to come to a screeching halt! Or even move BACKWARDS for that matter.

Friday I begin a short (six-day) vacation. What does that mean? Naturally, it means that the past two days have lasted a week, and the next two days will last a month! And when Friday finally arrives and I get an opportunity to settle down and enjoy some time off with my family, the week that follows will be over in an hour. Doesn't that gripe you? It gripes the heck out of me.

After working fifty-hour weeks and driving twenty hours a week for the past fifty weeks, you'd think a person could enjoy a little time off without feeling like he's counting down the days to his pending execution like notches on the wall of a death row cell.

We won't be doing any major traveling. Just taking a few day trips, spending some family time together, and (knowing my wife) getting some things done around the house (but that's a gripe for another day).

Speaking of time, maybe I should stop calling this the DAILY Gripe, since it hasn't been a regular daily posting for quite some time.


Monday, October 9, 2006

What Else Happened Today?

With Columbus Day and Leif Erikson Day both occurring on this date this year, I did a quick search on Wikipedia to see what else of note occurred on this date.


  • 1000 - Leif Ericson lands at Vinland (Newfoundland), becoming the first known European to set foot in Canada. His father, Erik the Red, was previously the first European to set foot in North America when he landed in Greenland in 982.
  • 1075 - Dmitar Zvonimir was crowned as king of the Croatia.
  • 1238 - James I of Aragon conquered Valencia and founded the Kingdom of Valencia.
  • 1446 - The Hangul alphabet is published in Korea.
  • 1514 - marriage of Louis XII of France and Mary Tudor
  • 1582 - Due to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar October 9 does not exist in 1582 in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
  • 1604 - Supernova 1604, the most recent supernova to be observed in the Milky Way.
  • 1635 - Founder of Rhode Island Roger Williams is banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony as a religious dissident after he spoke out against punishments for religious offenses and giving away Native American land.
  • 1701 - The Collegiate School of Connecticut (later renamed Yale University) is chartered in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
  • 1771 - The Dutch merchant ship Vrouw Maria sinks near the coast of Finland.
  • 1776 - Father Francisco Palou founds Mission San Francisco de Asis in what is now San Francisco, California.
  • 1799 - Sinking of HMS Lutine with the loss of 240 men and a cargo worth £1,200,000.
  • 1812 - War of 1812: In a naval engagement on Lake Erie, American forces capture two British ships; the HMS Detroit and the HMS Caledonia.
  • 1820 - Guayaquil declared independence from Spain.
  • 1831 - Capo d'Istria was assassinated.
  • 1845 - The eminent and controversial Anglican, John Henry Newman, was received into the Roman Catholic Church.
  • 1864 - American Civil War: Battle of Tom's Brook - Union cavalrymen in the Shenandoah Valley defeat Confederate forces at Tom's Brook, Virginia.
  • 1871 - The Great Chicago Fire is brought under control.
  • 1874 - General Postal Union was created as a result of the Treaty of Berne.
  • 1888 - The Washington Monument officially opens to the general public.
  • 1914 - World War I: Siege of Antwerp - Antwerp, Belgium falls to German troops.
  • 1919 - Black Sox scandal: The Cincinnati Reds "win" the World Series.
  • 1934 - Regicide at Marseille: The assassination of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and Louis Barthou, Foreign Minister of France.
  • 1936 - Generators at Boulder Dam (later renamed to Hoover Dam) begin to transmit electricity from the Colorado River 266 miles to Los Angeles, California.
  • 1940 - World War II: Battle of Britain - During a nighttime air raid by the German Luftwaffe, St. Paul's Cathedral is pierced by a bomb.
  • 1942 - Statute of Westminster Adoption Act formalizes Australian autonomy.
  • 1957 - Neil H. McElroy was sworn in as the 6th Secretary of Defense of United States.
  • 1962 - Uganda becomes a republic.
  • 1963 - In northeast Italy, over 2,000 people are killed when a large landslide behind the Vajont Dam causes a giant wave of water to overtop it.
  • 1967 - A day after being caught, Che Guevara is executed for attempting to incite a revolution in Bolivia.
  • 1969 - In Chicago, the United States National Guard is called in for crowd control as demonstrations continue in connection to the trial of the "Chicago Eight" (trial started on September 24).
  • 1970 - The Khmer Republic is proclaimed in Cambodia.
  • 1983 - Rangoon bombing: attempted assassination of South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan during an official visit to Rangoon, Burma. Chun survived but the blast killed 17 of his entourage, including four cabinet ministers, whilst 17 others were injured. Four Burmese officials also died in the blast.
  • 1986 - United States District Court Judge Harry E. Claiborne becomes the fifth federal official to be removed from office through impeachment.
  • 1986 - The FOX Network begins broadcasting.
  • 1989 - An official news agency in the Soviet Union reports the landing of a UFO in Voronezh.
  • 1989 - In Leipzig, East Germany, 70,000 protesters demand the legalization of opposition groups and democratic reforms.
  • 1991 - Ecuador becomes a member of the Berne Convention copyright treaty.
  • 1992 - A 13 kilogram (est.) meteorite lands in the driveway of the Knapp residence in Peekskill, New York, destroying the family's 1980 Chevrolet Malibu.
  • 1995 - An Amtrak Sunset Limited train is derailed by saboteurs near Palo Verde, Arizona.
  • 2001 - Second mailing of anthrax letters from Trenton, New Jersey in the 2001 anthrax attack.
  • 2002 - After losing a massive amount of ground during the summer of 2002, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at 7,286.27, its lowest level in five years. The NASDAQ also hit a six-year low of 1,114.11.
  • 2004 - Democratic elections held for the first time in Afghanistan.
  • 2004 - The tri-annual federal election is held in Australia and Liberal Party of Australia leader, John Howard, wins a fourth term as Prime Minister in a landslide victory over opponent, Mark Latham of the Australian Labor Party.
  • 2005 - China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping officially announces the new accurate height of Mount Everest is 8848.43 m.
  • 2005 - When Tropical Depression 23 strengthens into Hurricane Vince it makes the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season the first season on record to use a name beginning with V.
  • 2005 - Smoking is fully banned on the UK rail network.


  • 1201 - Robert de Sorbon, French theologian and founder of the Sorbonne (d. 1274)
  • 1221 - Salimbene di Adam, Italian chronicler
  • 1261 - King Dinis of Portugal (d. 1325)
  • 1328 - King Peter I of Cyprus (d. 1369)
  • 1581 - Claude Gaspard Bachet de Méziriac, French mathematician (d. 1638)
  • 1585 - Heinrich Schütz, German composer (d. 1672)
  • 1586 - Archduke Leopold V of Austria (d. 1632)
  • 1757 - King Charles X of France (d. 1836)
  • 1796 - Joseph Bonomi the Younger, English Egyptologist (d. 1878)
  • 1835 - Camille Saint-Saëns, French composer (d. 1921)
  • 1840 - Simeon Solomon, British artist (d. 1905)
  • 1852 - Hermann Emil Fischer, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1919)
  • 1859 - Alfred Dreyfus, French military officer (d. 1935)
  • 1871 - George Gauthier, Bishop of Montreal and rector of the University of Montreal (d. 1940)
  • 1873 - Karl Schwarzschild, German physicist and astronomer (d. 1916)
  • 1873 - Charles Walgreen, American entrepreneur (d. 1939)
  • 1873 - Carl Flesch, Hungarian violinist (d. 1944)
  • 1874 - Nicholas Roerich, Russian painter (d. 1947)
  • 1879 - Max von Laue, German physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1960)
  • 1886 - Rube Marquard, baseball player (d. 1980)
  • 1888 - Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin, Russian politician (d. 1938)
  • 1890 - Aimee Semple McPherson, American evangelist (d. 1944)
  • 1892 - Ivo Andrić, Serbo-Croatian writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1975)
  • 1892 - Marina Tsvetaeva, Russian poet (d. 1941)
  • 1893 - Mário de Andrade, Brazilian writer and photographer (d. 1945)
  • 1900 - Alastair Sim, Scottish actor (d. 1976)
  • 1903 - Walter O'Malley, American baseball executive (d. 1979)
  • 1906 - Léopold Sédar Senghor, Senegalese poet and politician (d. 2001)
  • 1907 - Quintin Hogg, British politician (d. 2001)
  • 1908 - Jacques Tati, French filmmaker (d. 1982)
  • 1909 - Donald Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 2000)
  • 1911 - Joe Rosenthal, American photographer (d. 2006)
  • 1915 - Clifford M. Hardin, United States Secretary of Agriculture
  • 1918 - Lila Kedrova, Russian-born actress (d. 2000)
  • 1920 - Jens Bjørneboe, Norwegian author (d. 1976)
  • 1921 - Michel Boisrond, French film director (d. 2002)
  • 1923 - Fyvush Finkel, American actor
  • 1925 - Johnny Stompanato, American organized crime figure (d. 1958)
  • 1926 - Danièle Delorme, French actress
  • 1928 - Einojuhani Rautavaara, Finnish composer
  • 1933 - Peter Mansfield, British physicist, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine laureate
  • 1935 - Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, member of the British Royal Family
  • 1936 - Brian Blessed, English actor
  • 1938 - Heinz Fischer, Austrian politician
  • 1940 - John Lennon, British musician and songwriter (The Beatles) (d. 1980)
  • 1941 - Trent Lott, American politician
  • 1941 - Chucho Valdés, Cuban musician
  • 1944 - John Entwistle, British musician (The Who) (d. 2002)
  • 1944 - Nona Hendryx, American singer (LaBelle)
  • 1944 - Peter Tosh, Jamaican musician (d. 1987)
  • 1946 - Tansu Çiller, Prime Minister of Turkey
  • 1947 - France Gall, French singer
  • 1948 - Jackson Browne, American musician
  • 1950 - Jody Williams, American teacher and aid worker, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1952 - Sharon Osbourne, English music manager and wife of Ozzy Osbourne
  • 1953 - Tony Shalhoub, American actor
  • 1954 - Scott Bakula, American actor
  • 1957 - Don Garber, American sports commissioner
  • 1958 - Michael Pare, American actor
  • 1960 - Kenny Garrett, American jazz saxophonist
  • 1962 - Jorge Burruchaga, Argentinian footballer
  • 1964 - Bobby Flay, American celebrity chef and restaurateur
  • 1966 - David Cameron, British politician
  • 1967 - Eddie Guerrero, Mexican professional wrestler (d. 2005)
  • 1969 - P.J. Harvey, English musician
  • 1970 - Kenny Anderson, American basketball player
  • 1970 - Savannah, American actress (d. 1994)
  • 1970 - Annika Sörenstam, Swedish golfer
  • 1971 - Simon Atlee, British photographer (d. 2004)
  • 1971 - Michael Manna, American professional wrestler
  • 1973 - Steven Burns, American actor and musician
  • 1973 - Fabio Lione, Italian musician (Rhapsody)
  • 1973 - Terry Balsamo - American guitarist
  • 1975 - Sean Lennon, English musician
  • 1975 - Mark Viduka, Australian footballer
  • 1978 - Nicky Byrne, Irish musician (Westlife)
  • 1978 - Juan Dixon, American basketball player
  • 1979 - Gonzalo Sorondo, Uruguayan footballer
  • 1979 - Brandon Routh, American Actor
  • 1980 - Henrik Zetterberg, Swedish ice hockey player
  • 1981 - Zachery Ty Bryan, American actor
  • 1981 - Darius Miles, American basketball player
  • 1982 - António Mendonça, Angolan footballer
  • 1986 - Laure Manaudou, French swimmer
  • 1992 - Tyler James Williams, American actor
  • 1994 - Jodelle Ferland, Canadian actress


  • 1047 - Pope Clement II (b. 1005)
  • 1253 - Robert Grosseteste, English statesman and bishop
  • 1390 - King John I of Castile (b. 1358)
  • 1555 - Justus Jonas, German protestant reformer (b. 1493)
  • 1562 - Gabriele Falloppio, Italian anatomist (b. 1523)
  • 1569 - Vladimir of Staritsa, Russian prince (b. 1533)
  • 1597 - Ashikaga Yoshiaki, Japanese shogun (b. 1537)
  • 1691 - William Sacheverell, English statesman (b. 1638)
  • 1709 - Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland, English mistress of Charles II of England (b. 1640)
  • 1729 - Richard Blackmore, English physician and writer (b. 1654)
  • 1793 - Jean Joseph Marie Amiot, French missionary (b. 1718)
  • 1797 - Vilna Gaon, Lithuanian rabbi (b. 1720)
  • 1806 - Benjamin Banneker, American astronomer (b. 1731)
  • 1831 - John Capodistria, Governor of Greece (b. 1776)
  • 1924 - Valery Bryusov, Russian writer and critic (b. 1873)
  • 1934 - King Alexander I of Yugoslavia (assassinated) (b. 1888)
  • 1934 - Louis Barthou, Prime Minister of France (assassinated) (b. 1862)
  • 1940 - Wilfred Grenfell, medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador (b. 1865).
  • 1941 - Helen Morgan, American singer and actress (b. 1900)
  • 1943 - Pieter Zeeman, Dutch physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1865)
  • 1950 - George Hainsworth, National Hockey League goaltender (b. 1895)
  • 1955 - Theodor Cardinal Innitzer, Austrian Catholic archbishop (b. 1875)
  • 1956 - Marie Doro, American actress (b. 1882)
  • 1958 - Pope Pius XII (b. 1876)
  • 1962 - Milan Vidmar, Slovenian electrical engineer and chess player (b. 1885)
  • 1967 - Che Guevara, Argentine revolutionary and guerilla leader (executed) (b. 1928)
  • 1967 - Cyril Norman Hinshelwood, English chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1897)
  • 1967 - André Maurois, French author (b. 1885)
  • 1968 - Pierre Mulele, Congolese revolutionary
  • 1972 - Miriam Hopkins, American actress (b. 1902)
  • 1974 - Oskar Schindler, German businessman (b. 1908)
  • 1978 - Jacques Brel, Belgian singer and actor (b. 1929)
  • 1987 - Guru Gopinath, Indian classical dancer (b. 1908)
  • 1987 - Clare Boothe Luce, American diplomat (b. 1903)
  • 1987 - William Parry Murphy, American physician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1892)
  • 1989 - Penny Lernoux, American journalist and author (b. 1940)
  • 1995 - Alec Douglas-Home, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1903)
  • 1996 - Walter Kerr, American theater critic (b. 1913)
  • 1999 - Milt Jackson, American jazz vibraphonist (b. 1923)
  • 2000 - David Dukes, American actor (b. 1945)
  • 2000 - Patrick Anthony Porteous, Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross (b. 1918)
  • 2001 - Dagmar, American television personality (b. 1921)
  • 2001 - Herbert Ross, American film director and producer (b. 1927)
  • 2005 - Louis Nye, American comedian and actor (b. 1913)
I guess that pretty much covers it.


Leif Erikson Day

This month seems to be filled with observances of the accomplishments of great European explorers. Today is not only Columbus Day. Today is also Leif Erikson Day.

From wikipeida.com:
Leif Erikson Day is a United States observance occurring on October 9. It honors Leif Erikson, who led the first Europeans believed to have set foot on North American soil. ... October 9 is not associated with any particular event in Leif Erikson's life. The date was chosen because the ship Restauration arrived in New York Harbor on October 9, 1825 at the start of the first organized immigration from Norway to the United States.
There's little else to say about Leif Erikson Day, and I only found it notable and worthy of mention in light of it's proximity on the calendar to Columbus Day. Columbus Day is officially designated as the second Monday in October each year. Leif Erikson Day was authorized by Congress in 1964 and, depending upon an annual Presidential proclamation, occurs on October 9 each year. This year, those two days happen to coincide.


Columbus Day

Whether you believe it's possible for someone to "discover" a land that is already inhabited by other human beings (Native Americans), it is a fact that Christopher Columbus discovered one thing: and that is that the earth is round. And he made this discovery by landing somewhere in the Americas on October 12, 1492.

He is often credited with discovering America, though the name "America" stuck after German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller created a map in 1507 labelling the South American content "America," after Italian merchant, cartographer, and explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who discovered that the South American content extended much further south than was previously known by Europeans.

Christopher Columbus is often credited with discovering America, though prior to reaching the "New World," tools that appeared to have been crafted by hand were found floating in the ocean, and Native Americans already inhabited the continent "discovered" by Columbus.

Columbus is often credited with discovering America, although Nordic Vikings are known to have sailed up and down the coast of the Americas some 500 years before Columbus' historic voyage.

No matter what you believe, Christopher Columbus was among the first Europeans to land in the New World, and was the first to bring European culture to the Americas. His voyage proved his unpopular belief that the earth was not flat, and that one would not fall off the edge of the earth if one sailed far enough into the Atlantic ocean.

Today is Columbus Day. You don't have to believe the he "discovered" America to believe that he was a great explorer and a great contributor to making the world what it is today.


Saturday, October 7, 2006

Quality Time

I spent some high quality time with my kids today while their mother was having her yard sale. We made pancakes for breakfast, watched some Saturday morning cartoons together (not the same cartoons we had when I was a kid) while I did dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, then got ready for a little road trip.

We went first to the bank with a rebate check, then to get some political campaign signs (a Republican candidate or two) to put in the yard. We stopped at a display by the Indiana Historical Society called the Indiana History Train, where we saw some civil war history and a Union soldier reenactor.

After a quick stop by the yard sale to say "Hi" to their mommy, the three of us (father, son, and daughter) went to McDonald's for lunch. Later, after running a few errands when my wife got home, I took my son to the playground at the elementary school to play on the slides and swings.

It's been a nice day -- the kind of day that makes a man feel great to be a daddy!


President Bush's Weekly Radio Address

20061007.a.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "As we work to keep our classrooms safe, we must also ensure that the children studying there get a good education. I believe every child can learn. So when I came to Washington, I worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, and I was proud to sign it into law. The theory behind this law is straightforward: We expect every school in America to teach every student to read, write, add, and subtract. ... When we set expectations high, America's children will rise to meet them. And by helping our children succeed, we're creating a brighter future for them and for our Nation."

Weekend Off

Being a Retail Store Manager often means babysitting people who are much too old to need babysitters. It's a fact of life in Retail Management, and you learn to live with it. It also means working almost every Saturday of the year. I literally have had only two Saturdays off this year, not counting vacation time.

Today is one of those two Saturdays. And, even though I'm not at work, I'm still babysitting. My wife would say it isn't babysitting when it's your own children. My wife is at a friend's house today having a late season yard sale, and I'm home with the kids. And it's gone rather well so far.

My son has been quite well behaved, and my daughter has cried surprisingly little. In fact, she sat on my lap on the couch for probably forty-five minutes without complaint. That's an amazingly long time for a five-month old baby who likes to stay on the go.

We're getting ready now to head out to the bank and do a drive-by waving at their mommy. And to top things off with a cherry, I'm off tomorrow, too. WOW! Two days off in a row, on the weekend, no less.

Oh, and it's countdown to vacation time, which starts next Friday.


Thursday, October 5, 2006

Podcast of the Week

The podcast netcast of the week this week is not just one podcast netcast. It's a whole Army of podcasts netcasts! The TWiT Army, that is.

Leo Laporte, formerly of Tech TV and The Screen Savers, has an Army of podcasts (or, as he has recently taken to calling them, "netcasts"), and an Army of followers. Recently voted the Podcasting Person of the Year at the Portable Media Expo (otherwise known as the Podcast Expo) in Ontario, California, Leo Laporte currently has a network of twelve podcasts netcasts, with more to come soon. On the flagship netcast, This Week in Tech, Leo is joined by a panel of top names in the technology industry to discuss everything tech.

Dick DeBartolo, Mad Magazine's Maddest Writer, joins Leo daily to discuss the latest in gadgets on The Daily Giz Wiz. Dick turns the tables on Leo on Tuesdays and plays host while Leo presents a gadget of his own choosing, and we're taken to Dick's Gadget Warehouse on Fridays for a classic gadget from the past.

Leo is joined by Steve Gibson (the man who coined the term "spyware" and created the first anti-spyware program) each week on Security Now to discuss computer security, from online threats to the latest vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system.

And once you've listened to just one of Leo's netcasts, you'll know how he's more than just a podcaster (netcaster, sorry Leo): he's a radio personality. Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 2 pm Pacific Time, Leo discusses all things tech on KFI 640AM, and brings that informative and entertaining show to us via netcast on the KFI Tech Guy.

Vin DiBona from Google (yes, THE Google) joins Leo each week on FLOSS Weekly to discuss Open Source and speak with leaders in the Open Source movement. If you're looking for a software or service (such as Firefox, Linux, et. al.) that is improved and maintained by developers who have a passion for doing it right, tune in to FLOSS each week for the latest and greatest in Open Source.

And in Leo's latest addition to the TWiT network (as of this writing, that is), Leo is joined by Paul Thurott to discuss the next big thing in the computer industry, Windows Vista, in the Windows Weekly netcast. It's been over half a decade since Microsoft rolled out Windows XP, and this eagerly awaited successor promises to hit our systems in the coming months.

This is merely a sampling of the many netcasts from Leo Laporte and the TWiT network. These are some of my favorites, and you're sure to find a few that you'll enjoy, as well.

You can find TWiT online at http://www.twit.tv, get the latest episode of TWiT here, or subscribe to one RSS Feed that includes all of the TWiT netcasts by pasting this link into your favorite aggregator.



Tuesday, October 3, 2006

The Daily Gripe #35 - Can't Find Good Help Anymore

The Daily Gripe Is Back! It's been a few weeks, but I'm back with more gripes.

I'm a Retail Manager, and I have two key-carrying Assistant Managers working for me. One of us has to be in the building at all times during business hours. That can make for some really hard times when someone is unable (or unwilling) to work.

That's exactly what happened yesterday. One of my Assistant Managers was at the hospital attending the birth of his grandson. No problem, I would have done the same. The other Assistant was scheduled off. When called and asked to come in to cover the evening shift, she stalled and created excuses. She said she had to pick up her son and four other boys. I don't know when or where. She called twice during the day and claimed that she was unable to reach any of the other parents to pick them up, but that she would keep trying. She never called with a final yes or no about whether she would come in.

I expected this. She is a highly unmotivated, severely overweight (which in itself doesn't mean anything -- it's everything else about her that perpetuates the obesity stereotype), low performing person who can't spell the word TEAM without substituting a couple of I's for the E and the A.

What really gripes me about this is that she always finds an excuse not to cover someone else's shift, but she's been out several days for back problems caused by her obesity, and she expects others to happily cover for her.

Another thing that really gripes me is that her husband -- who doesn't work and is on disability because he's also obese -- was home and perfectly capable of picking up the kids.

I didn't hire her, but I'm trying like heck to get the blessing from above to fire her.


Monday, October 2, 2006

The Answer We've Long Awaited

I wouldn't call him my favorite author, but he is definitely one I enjoy. In a feature called Ten Questions on his webiste, Dean Koontz provides the following in-depth response to that popular question: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? — Dan, Shreveport

You have posed an unanswerable question, Dan. It’s unanswerable not because the chucking capacity of a woodchuck is one of the great cosmic mysteries, and not because there is a powerful interest group that would be offended by the very discussion of the subject. I’m sure that in contemporary America there are in fact several groups who will be ferociously offended by the subject and that even by allowing you to raise it, my reputation will be savaged and my life will not be worth spit. But we are not going to be cowed by the threats of the politically correct. I would be happy to answer your question if you would qualify it in ways that make an answer possible. First, what is the time frame? Are you interested in how much wood a woodchuck could chuck in ten minutes? An hour? A day? A standard woodchuck lifetime? Second, please define what you mean by the word chuck. Do you mean “to toss, to throw with a quick motion” or do you mean “to tap or pat lightly?” I hope you do not mean “to vomit,” because this raises in the mind the disgusting image of a spewing woodchuck, which would offend the sensibilities of my gentle readers. Finally, by the use of the word if in your question, you suggest that in reality woodchucks cannot chuck wood, that your question is entirely and hopelessly hypothetical. But to pose your question from such a philosophical position suggests that woodchucks are frauds, that they choose to be called by a name to which they cannot live up. Personally, I have never met a woodchuck who was anything but straightforward and honorable, so I am quite sure that they can indeed chuck wood, and I think you should apologize for implying otherwise.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Book Review: Babylon Rising - The Edge of Darkness

Book ReviewThe latest book in the Babylon Rising series by Tim Lahaye is out. The Edge of Darkness is the fourth book in the line.

I'm no author, obviously, and certainly no exprert on writing. I do, however, love to write, love to read, and love the English language. One thing that really gripes me when I'm reading a book is when I come across an obvious error in the text. I can understand a spelling or typographical error. I can even forgive the occassional punctuation or grammatical error. Editors should catch this type of thing, but the major publishing houses today are nothing more than page mills cranking out the latest drivel (in many cases) as fast as they can, hoping to stumble upon the next great literary masterpiece.

But one thing I simply cannot tolerate is when there is a material error in the text that causes a structural flaw to the work. For example; a setting that doesn't fit with the plot, a major inconsistency in events of the story (which I'll discuss further soon), or a character error.

While reviewing book three in the series, The Europa Conspiracy, I discussed a major inconsistency in the story line. Mere pages apart, a character survives what could have been a tragic accident, only to later be referenced as having died in the very accident he survived.

I have encountered a major character misuse in The Edge of Darkness. First, a brief character inventory. The series involves a group of seven international power magnates manipulating events to hasten the beginning of the last days. This group is led by a man named John Bartholomew. One tool this group uses is the owner of an American communications giant, named Shane Barrington, whom they use as a pawn to do their bidding to further their evil plan.

On page 147 in the book, the group is meeting to discuss the next steps in their plan. Among other things, they discuss what action they will have Shane Barrington take to aid in the establishment of a unified religion. Barrington clearly is not present at the meeting, as his status as a lowly pawn has left him out of the decision making process throughout the series of books. As the meeting is coming to a close, while clearly referring to the leader of this evil consortium -- John Bartholomew -- the author uses the name Barrington. One paragraph later, he's back on track with the correct character name.

It seems to me that this could cause quite a confusion for the reader. I immediately noticed something odd and reread the passage to clarify. It appears that the editors of the Babylon Rising series either don't read the work too closely before publishing or, more likely, rely on a low-level staffer to proof-read for them. Either way, I find this sort of error disturbing and unacceptable.

* * *

Babylon Rising: The Edge of Darkness, seemed to move a little slowly early in the reading. The rest of the series seems to progress quite rapidly. But don't let the seeming slowness fool you. A great deal of plot is laid out for events to come in future installment(s). There are also some surprises in the closing chapters -- things one might never expect when there is obviously at least one more volume to be released in the series.

I found the book to be a rather good story, and essentially true to the rest of the series. Other than the inconsistency mentioned above, The Edge of Darkness, like the rest of the Babylon Rising series, is first rate. I would recommend it to anyone.


Average Joe's Review Store