Saturday, July 01, 2006

Scaring People

I don't know what this says about my personality, but I think scaring people is very funny. Well, as long as it's a prank. Check out this vid to see what I'm talking about.

My fav is the lucha wrestler in the locker.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Let Me Count The Ways...

Speaking of bars...

Last night I went out with Ginger, again...third time this week...and we ran into some regulars at the bar. One girl named Jenn, who Ginger occasionally plays volleyball with, got a little drunk and let it slip that she thinks I'm cute. Her word, not mine.

It's flattering, but also kind of embarrasing, too. I don't think of myself as hot shit. I look in the mirror every day and it's the same face staring back at me, so I'm pretty familiar with my appearance. I'll say I have a great head of hair, and that I would consider myself to be tall, dark and handsome...but cute?

As in desirable cute? Man, I just don't know...I always thought I'd make a woman very lucky someday, but not because of my looks.

Maybe I'm selling myself short. I did have a woman ask me once with a straight face if I was a model. Are you kidding, a model? Never even considered it... Don't you see I'm more brain than body anyway?

It's always interesting to see how your conception of yourself rubs up against the opinion of another. Here I was, content to believe I was ruggedly handsome, when in all actuality, I'm cute!

Oh, the humanity!

Still on the bar topic, let me introduce you to my future wife, Jesi. Jesi is not only cute, but she's beautiful. You might remember this bit from an earlier post:
A new bartender girl, just as beautiful as Rebecca, managed to laugh at some of my jokes and entrance me with her effortless good looks. I gave her a big tip, but didn’t ask for her number.

I still don't have her number, but she did pose for Ginger's camera, and next time I go to the (now, smoke-free) bar, I'll be sure to use my powers of cuteness to ask her out. She's take home to Mama material, one of those girls I could wake up tomorrow loving more than I did today.

And I say that about so few...

Where There's Smoke, There's a Crooked Politician

Tonight Colorado becomes the latest state to ban smoking in public.  As a smoker, this is going to be a pain in the ass for me personally.  Not so much in the summer, but in winter time?  Fuggetaboutit.

The funny thing is that this isn’t a complete smoking ban.  There are exceptions, and no, bars are not one of them.  But casinos are, and so is the smoking lounge in DIA (lest smoking layover travelers bypass the state altogether).

Why is it okay to smoke in a casino, and not your corner pub?  My guess is that the millions casinos bring in a day bought the folks who wrote the legislation.  There is no other explanation.  Is smoking in a casino safer?  

I mean, this is all about public safety, right?  It’s not about being annoyed by smoke.  It’s about the innocent non-smokers who must breath that noxious smoke-filled air.

Yeah right, and I look like Rob Reiner.

I think not.

Non-Political Sundries

Enough politics for now…

I truly had other subjects in mind for my post today, but got sidetracked by the carnival. So now…back on track. First things first…

Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted a compost heap. Okay, I exaggerate, but a compost heap is practically essential to any successful gardening operation, and until the other day, I had no real place to put one. An ideal place would have been behind my shed, but since one of my trees fell last year, the back of the shed has been one big brush pile.

Witness Exhibit A.

Finally, I called some guy’s to come clean it out for me. It was a pretty penny…but it was also necessary. Not only did I want a compost heap and all that brush gone, the City has been breathing down my neck to get it removed.

And voila. The area is cleared for compost.

News on the job search. I didn’t really start my job search in earnest until a few weeks ago. I was still getting paid from my former company and really enjoying the first summer vacation I’ve had in ten years. But alas, the party must end…and if I’m going to be eligible for unemployment benefits, I had to make at least five job contacts a week.

I still haven’t got my first unemployment check, but it seems the job contacts may be bearing fruit. I got a call from an employment agency who is recruiting for a NOC (that’s Network Operation Center for the less-technical) position at a major telecom company.

It may not seem obvious to the rest of the country, but Denver is a major telecommunications hub for the United States. My former company, Qwest, is headquartered here, and so are Time Warner Telecom, Level 3, and Echostar (better know as DishNetwork). Lucky for me, then, that I have 9 years of telecom experience and I live in Denver, the last few years of which was spent in a NOC environment.

The company that I’m interviewing with next week is one of them (no specifics yet...if I get the job, I’ll spill the beans) and the funny thing is that when I was at Qwest, this company was like the mecca of former-Qwest employees. Every disgruntled Qwest employee at one point has said to themselves, “Fuck this. I’m going to work for ______.” I’ve known many folks who did just that, and many others who found a home there after their Qwest careers were over.

So that right there got me instantly excited about the job. Another thing is that it pays the same as my old job, which is actually quite a relief considering I was fully prepared to take a pay cut and go into an entry level job at a completely different, unfamiliar industry. This weekend, I’ll have to do some crash-course research to bone up on all the terminology and concepts that might have slipped my mind during my brief vacation, because I would really like to get this job. And since my severance pay is finished, I need one.

So wish me luck.

Just Asking For It

Recently my blog has been getting pounded by a strenuous war debate. I wish I could say it was a traditional right versus left fight, but this one isn’t so easy to classify. Instead of liberal versus conservative, it seems that on one side there are those who expect some accountability and success in our latest American war, and those who intentionally blind themselves to the foibles of our political leaders out of optimistic loyalty and a strange militaristic God complex.

In the latter story line, everything the President does on behalf of the War on Terror is right and necessary, and it would work if it weren’t for those whiny liberals with their bitching and moaning about civil liberties and the rule of law. This thought process allows one to justify torture, the Gitmo gulag, domestic spying on innocent Americans’ phone and bank records, civilian massacres, and any number of assorted Un-American and morally reprehensible things.

These things are justified in their minds because of two things. The most noble is to prevent another 9-11 from happening, which is something we can all get behind. The second reason is less noble, more primitive and immature, and that’s a desire for revenge. Obviously Osama and his butt buddies are the main targets for this revenge, but in the meantime any old Muslim camel jockey will do.

I’m not going to go into the philosophical reasons against revenge, but I will note that there was an obscure Jewish guru who wandered the desert a few thousand years ago, spouting civilization changing rhetoric like “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your enemies.” (Some people even consider this dude to be God, while I would be comfortable only saying he was a very wise man who was way ahead of his time.)

The modern imperative is for justice, not revenge. There is no justice in vengeance, especially when the avengers are projecting their anger at the completely wrong people. What we have been doing in Iraq for the last three years is respond to an injustice (9-11) by more injustice (Abu Ghraib, etc).

You cannot be serious about “winning” this war if you ignore justice. There will be no victory without it.

That’s why I think it’s sad, and somewhat funny, to hear things like this:
“You need to come outside of your little MSM box and truly see what is going on with Iraq.”
You’re right. I should ignore the daily bombings and concentrate on the school openings. I should stop looking at what is, and instead look at what could be, if only our Commander in Chief wasn’t tied down by the Geneva Conventions or the United States Constitution.

Invariably Clinton will always come up in these discussions, usually to illuminate Bush’s sparkling performance in the face of Clinton’s gun shy approach. You’ll hear it in phrases like this:
“I don't completely agree 100% on things our President has done over his course of time, but he has done a helluva a better job than Clinton did by burying his ass in the sand.”
It makes me laugh because what short memories these people have. They must still be under the impression that the first shot in the War on Terror was fired by George Bush, when that’s simply not supported by the facts.

On August 20, 1998 Bill Clinton ordered airstrikes on Al Qaeda hideouts in Afghanistan and Sudan. If you’re a Republican, you might not remember that because you were a little distracted by a cum-stained blue dress. The right wing collectively called the airstrikes a “Wag the Dog” style sham to distract the country from Clinton’s embarrassing sexual indiscretions.

Boy, were they wrong about that one. Almost three years exactly, these same terrorists launched 9-11.

And what was Bush doing at the time? Not listening to Clinton’s terrorism czar, Richard Clarke, that’s for sure. (Bush, like most of the right wing at large, was and is dismissive of pretty much anything Clinton ever did, good, bad, or indifferent.) Bush was actually more concerned about giving federal money to churches and Laura’s literacy program. When Clarke came in to talk about Al Qaeda terrorists, Bush could barely sustain a yawn.

And I’m supposed to believe that on the morning of September 11th, Bush had a “Road to Damascus” moment and suddenly became this infallible anti-terror guru? I don’t think so.

Bush has proven his willingness to use the War on Terror as a political flog, not as a serious all-important American endeavor. What has he asked of the citizenry? More taxes to pay for rebuilding Iraq? Nope…he wanted to repeal the Paris Hilton tax, apparently so the supply of partying heiresses goes undiminished. All he has asked us to do is blindly support him, keep shopping, and keep watching Fox News. What about a draft? Nope, won’t even consider it. What about using the Powell Doctrine of Overwhelming Force? Forget about it…not with Rumsfeld in charge, with his fantasies of a fast, light, mobile military.

And what about that Powell Doctrine? How does it apply to this war? Let’s take a closer look at some of the questions Powell’s Doctrine poses.

Is a vital national security interest threatened?
You could say that. Saddam’s Iraq was a threat to our national security interests for many reasons. It just so happens that his WMD aspirations were the least persuasive…well, once the facts came out that is.

Do we have a clear attainable objective?
Are you kidding? Hell to the no. At first, the objective was to rid Iraq of WMD, which was pretty easy considering that had already happened. Then the objective became the capture of Saddam and the installation of a democratically elected government. Check. Then the objective became defeating the insurgency, which is basically what we’re doing now. Any way you slice it, the objective has been anything but “clear” and some of it, like a democratic Muslim country (if there is a religion incompatible with democracy, Islam is it), may not even be “attainable.”

Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
I suppose you could make a case for “fully,” although I certainly wouldn’t be the one to do that, but “frankly” is just inconceivable. Does “we’re going to be greeted as liberators” sound very frank to you?

Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
Ha! Going to the UN was just procedure. Bush never intended for the UN to deal with Iraq’s WMD problem, because in his eyes, the UN had been dropping the ball since the first Gulf War. Never mind that Iraq’s WMD programs were effectively reduced under the UN inspection regime…that’s not really germane to whether all other non-violent policy means have been fully exhausted. There was more that could have been done before the invasion, but there was no interest in doing it. Saddam had to go, and he had to go NOW.

Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
Bush’s exit strategy does not rise to the level of plausibility. “We’ll stand down when they stand up.” That’s a strategy? How much more vague can you be? And don’t forget that in this hostile Republican Congress, even mentioning the very phrase “exit strategy” will get you branded part of the “cut and run” crowd. So the answer is no, there is no plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement.

Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
Not by those in charge. They’re too easy to use quips like “Bring em on.” Others, though, have considered the consequences of our action, including a hefty bill for the next generation, intensified anger and resentment against the United States in the Muslim world, and consequently reinvigorated terrorist recruitment. It may be unwarranted pessimism, but if these consequences become a reality then I expect some vocal rightwing sectors to go silent.

Is the action supported by the American people?
It used to be, three years ago when our politicians conditioned us to expect an Iraqi nuclear attack on the White House. Now that the WMD claims have been exposed as being highly exaggerated, if not completely wrong, the Americans are losing heart. I suppose one could blame the NY Times and the liberal media, but that’s an oversimplification that is so absurd that it could be dismissed as soon as it was spoken. It might be more apt to blame it on the utterly dishonest way the war has been waged in the political theater. People generally don’t like being sold a pack of lies.

Do we have genuine broad international support?
Another no. We had some international support, yes, with the Coalition of the Willing, but man, what a sorry bunch that was. The Brits were the only ones who gave us “broad international support,” and though the other 29 countries participating in the Coalition can be considering “international support” I wouldn’t exactly say it was “broad.” Besides the US and the UK, only three other countries are providing military forces, Australia, Denmark, and Poland, and while I’m glad they’ve got our back, where are the real global players? Where’s Russia? China? Where’s the big European powers like France and Germany? You must include a few of those to get “broad” international support. (At least Japan sent doctors.)

So for those amongst us who think my opposition to Bush’s policies comes from a knee-jerk liberalism, just know that my views have been tempered by an objective view of the facts, as well as a genuine desire to see the United States win. If that makes me a communist Meathead, I’m happy to wear the label.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Morning Blogging

In a world of meaningless gestures, the city of Berkeley, CA is set to trump them all.  A new measure will allow Berkeley citizens to vote on the impeachment of George Bush.  Uh, let me know how that goes.  

After a bit of controversy, the Pentagon no longer classifies homosexuality as a disorder.  Now they just call it very, very gay.  No change in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is expected.

You want to see something gross?  How about a nasty pregnant lady naked on the cover of a magazine?  Yes, I know we’ve seen that before with Demi, but this time it’s Britney.  If that’s not enough to make you puke, I don’t know what is.

Speaking of pregnant ladies, I saw one playing on the opposing team at the other night’s softball game.  I wonder about the wisdom of such a thing, a pregnant lady playing softball.  Yes, it’s slow pitch and she was playing outfield, but it seems pretty dangerous if a stray ball comes your way on the plate or you have to slide into home.

Michael Hirsh argues in Newsweek that inciting the United States to attack Iraq was Al Qaeda’s “greatest victory.”  I don’t know if I’d call that a “victory” per se, but Hirsh brings up an interesting point.  Did Bush play into Bin Laden’s hands when he decided to go John Wayne on the Middle East?

I guess we’ll let history be the judge.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Uncle Jim at Bat

Yesterday, I ran around doing errands.  I went to the library and got myself into a little good news/bad news situation.  The good news:  I picked up Michael Connelly’s new non-fiction book.  The bad news:  the cute librarian that makes my library visits so enjoyable is married.

I also went to the driving range with a buddy of mine.  What I know about golf can be summed up with the word “jackshit,” but I’m reasonably certain that you’re supposed to hit divots out of the green and not the skin of your hand.  Yesterday I inflicted upon myself a horrendous wound at the base of my left pointer finger, a divot the size of a dime.  It hurts like hell and will be a bitch to heal, I know it.  Apparently I need to focus on the proper grip and wear a glove.

But I sliced a few good balls and am starting to see why people are so into golf.  Although I still don’t think I’ll become one of those people.

In other sports news, I also went to Uncle Jim’s last softball game of the season.  If they won, they would have taken first place in their division.  The stakes were high.  Then I showed up with my camera and threatened to mess everything up.

Uncle Jim’s team had a comfortable lead going into the final inning, but they got a little nervous and the second team got a second wind.  The lead slipped away and soon it came down to a 7-7 tie that Jim’s team had one inning to break.

Watch this video to see what happened.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The President Who Cried Wolf

Senator Joe Biden says of Cheney:
He’s at 20 percent in the polls. No one listens to him. He has no credibility. It’s ridiculous…
It’s pretty true. Cheney’s reputation, whether he knows it or not, has been ruined. He’s not known for being a stand-up guy. Rather than explain why, let me just provide an illustration of Cheney’s complete lack of credibility.

He says:
The worst possible thing we could do is what the Democrats are suggesting, and no matter how you carve, you can call it anything you want, but basically it is packing it in, going home, persuading and convincing and validating the theory that the Americans don’t have the stomach for this fight.
Forget the obvious distortion of what the Democrats are trying to do, just notice how he paints their plan in as dark a light as possible. It’s not just a bad idea, it’s the worst possible thing we could do.

I’m with Biden on this one. Cheney’s lack of credibility is ridiculous. Cheney is literally the boy who cried wolf. He has a nasty habit of painting things in the most dire apocalyptic terms, exaggerating to absurd lengths, and he's almost always wrong. Last throes...Ha!

Cheney’s not the only one with an absurdity problem. His Co-president Bush came out the other day against the First Amendment. Yes, that’s right. The man who has sworn to uphold the Constitution has decided (he is the Decider, after all) that Freedom of the Press is harmful to the United States.
“For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America,” Bush said, jabbing his finger for emphasis. He said the disclosure of the program “makes it harder to win this war on terror.”
I guess my question is this: How does this leak hurt the War on Terror? Terrorists, I assume, have known about this war since at least 2001, when Bush stood on the rubble and promised they would hear from us real soon. Presumably they also knew the United States was playing with their money when billions of suspect assets were frozen after the 9-11 attacks.

I don’t think the NY Times disclosure is really much of a security breach, and I’d really like to know how knowledge of its existence will make it harder to win the War on Terror, which is a war against a murderous ideology as much as it is on a specific group of people. I just don't see it.

And let’s not forget the context of this NY Times report. Some on the right have already accused the NY Times of treason, of being more sympathetic to Al Qaeda than the United States. I can understand their hurt feelings, considering how the NY Times routinely makes them look like jackasses, but that idea is beyond absurd. If they’re with Al Qaeda, the Times is damn subtle about it. When I read the Times, and I read it quite often, it seems pretty mainstream American to me.

The story is obviously in the “what your government is doing when you’re not looking” category rather than the “We must help our brothers in the Jihad!” one. That’s why I’m not mad about it like the frothing jackals on the right. This is what I say when I read a story like that: Good for the NY Times and the First Amendment. Freedom’s not freedom unless you use it and some asshole wants to take it away.

As for the real War on Terror, rather than the mythical alternate universe one created by talk radio-listening Bush apologists, these are the kooks they are giving us. Also in a video from Crooks and Liars, John Stewart skewers the latest terrorist plot uncovered by our War on Terror. I can offer nothing to improve on it, so watch it for a laugh or two.

The government’s going overboard for this? You gotta be kidding me.

Updated: I swear to GOD that I didn't read this Richard Cohen piece before writing this. He's basically saying the same thing I am, but of course he does it better and he got paid.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Pridefest 2006

This weekend has been one big gay party. Yep, lesbians in cargo-shorts and tank tops and gay men in girly jeans descended on the city for the annual Pride parade, arguably the largest parade in Denver. It's not unusual for it to take two hours to wind down Colfax from Cheesman Park, and this year was no exception. There were over 180 entrants, and tens of thousands of people in attendance.

It's become a tradition to go with my Mom every year and I don't mind. I'm one of those guys who loves it when Civic Center is taken over by some festival or another, whether it be the Capitol Hill People's Fair of a few weeks ago, or the Taste of Colorado (which is coming up). And of course, I love to go to support my Mom and the rest of the Family.

That's one of the great things about gay culture. It's very tribal in that respect, almost like the mob. You can say to a gay person "So and so is Family," and they'll know exactly what you're talking about. It's great.

I have to say though that I'm not into gay culture that much. Take drag queens, for instance. I really don't like drag queens. For one thing, I hate that song I Will Survive and all drag queens must perform that song to get their heels.

Another thing about drag queens is that they are huge flirts. They're as bad as construction workers, which is funny, because some of them are probably in construction), and probably worse. After spending some time with a drag queen, I know what it feels like to be sexually harrassed. I've actually been felt up by a drag queen. It wasn't a pleasant experience.

Another thing about gay culture that I don't get is all the leather and chains. I suppose that's a good thing, considering that I'm allegedly straight, but I can't even see how gay people can be into that kind of thing.

I'll tell you what I'm into. Roller girls.
And samba dancers. These girls were beautiful, and quite talented.
See, there's something for everyone.

And if this picture isn't proof, I don't know what is. This little old lady watched the whole parade from under her scarf and long winter coat. She was Danny Devito short and obviously born many miles from here. What a trooper.

She wasn't the only strange character. Every year there is this toothless old man walking around showing off his leathery tan and sagging skin in a bikini. He danced around in front of us, but I intentionally didn't take a picture of him. My camera was too expensive to risk it. But later, as I was scrolling thru my pics, I spotted a pic of the leathery old man. It's a candid shot, obviously, and I was originally intending on taking a picture of Congresswoman Diana Degette, but somehow the leathery old man snuck in.

So let's play a game, shall we? Where in this picture is the leathery old man?

Here's a hint.

Thank God I didn't get his bikini in the shot...


I'm entirely way too proud of my garden. I can't help it. It takes a certain amount of effort and care to create art out of nature, and as I polish my knuckles on my lapel, let's just say that this stuff is art. I'm just capturing it in pixels.

I think we have a winner. Here's a tomato plant that has eight, count em eight, tomato flowers. Obviously not all of them will become juicy red tomatoes, but you have to admire the effort. Better Boy tomatoes? I'll say.


More zinnias.

And marigolds.

Ah, the simple pleasures of life.