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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bourbon and E-Z Cheese

I cranked open my left eye and saw a blurry, red 7:02, at the same time heard what caused me to wake up, "Mommy I can't wait anymore." Welcome to Christmas with a six year old. Excuse me a "six and three-quarters" year old.

My options were not many, I could remain curled up on my right side, my back to Leslie and Jenna who I know was standing face to Leslie's lying face, and feign sleep. That I knew would not work, being the lightest sleeper in the house, I knew that Leslie knew I was awake already. I could pop out of bed and say, "Let's go!" But I knew Leslie needed more that twelve seconds to get into consciousness. I opted for marital peace and child appeasement, "Jenna why don't you snuggle in between Mommy and me for a few minutes and then we will wake up Blaire and see if Santa came."

"He came. I looked and he came. I can't wait any more," stated as facts she crawled in between us and slowly brought us into Christmas morning 2008. After my imposed fifteen minute waiting period I went down and got Blaire and brought her up into the bed and by now anxiety and angst were barely contained.

I told the girls, "I just hope Santa brought me some cookies, that is all I want." Blaire displaying wisdom beyond her years, beyond many people's years, said, "you all ready got what you want for Christmas Daddy, we are all here together!"

Santa did in fact bring me cookies, a box of Animal Crackers with a little string so I could carry them on my wrist. But deep down in my stocking was something special, a can of Easy Cheese! Oh joy!

When I was a kid our family vacations were often camping trips in the wilds of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri. Later when we moved east we had a couple of vacations where we chartered a sailboat for a week and Mom, Dad and the three kids would share thirty odd feet of cramped space on the ocean blue. Camping trips and sailboat charters have a few things in common: packing in your food you will be eating all week as stores are not abundant and lack of refrigeration. My mom would pack Easy Cheese and crackers for cocktail hour to accommodate the limited space and the beauty of not needing to keep the Easy Cheese refrigerated. Our kids know that vacations are official when Dad breaks out the Easy Cheese and Ritz crackers. Santa gave me a vacation in a can!

Later in the morning as we moved through the Wii Santa dropped down the chimney, with care, and the puzzles and games, and the clothes. Leslie handed me a gift bag with something inside wrapped in tissue, it was from my brother, the girls "Unkey-Monkey" and his wife Diane (Di-Di). Glory be to Christmas it was a bottle of Woodford Reserve bourbon!

I have come to realize that having daughters makes birthdays and Christmases pretty easy in many respects. Mainly this is because they like clothes and jewelry, no matter what their age and no matter what the price range. If it is pretty, cute, sentimental, colorful and the right size they are pretty happy. Give my daughter a furry black vest with pink piping and a plastic faux ruby necklace and she is a princess. Boys on the other hand are very picky depending on their age. First they do not like clothes for any occasion. Second you have to make sure the toy or game you are getting them is age appropriate and not a "baby" toy, or one that is perhaps a few years past them and they will either cut themselves or someone else, or blow something up. Boys and gift giving is very difficult.

For me Easy Cheese and Bourbon make a pretty complete Christmas, throw in the Animal Crackers and I have my dinner and dessert for next Thursday when I watch the Oklahoma Sooners thrash the Florida Gators for the BCS Championship. Yep, Easy Cheese on a Ritz and a sip of Woodford Reserve is a pretty good vacation.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Anniversaries, Claw Crackers and Nutcrackers

Sunday was Leslie's anniversary of her 39th birthday, which one I cannot say lest I be removed to the couch, and also Blaire performing in "Nutcracker" for the Long Beach Ballet. She was to be in the afternoon and evening performance however exhaustion caught with her and after spilling her guts twice before lunch we pulled her out of the afternoon performance and played the evening session by ear. After a two plus hour nap she was ready for us to continue our plans.

The plans started with a dinner at Gladstone's in Long Beach before we had to drop her off to get ready for the 8:00 show. When we walked in the waitress told us that until 6:00 they had a pound and a half lobster for only $19.99. I never order lobster as I have never found it to be a good value to taste proposition. Now however I can get 1 1/2 pounds of lobster for less than $20--a very good value proposition that I decided to order. After the usual messy tussle to extract the meat and finishing the meal I determined that my previous decisions regarding the value proposition for lobster were correct. Either I am missing something or I had a not very good lobster last night; it was a bit chewy and a bit flavorless. I prefer crab--especially when picked fresh from my sister's local store in Novato and eaten with linguine and pepper flakes. Even at $19.99 I was disappointed and thought, well you don't need to order lobster again for a while.

After dinner we dropped Blaire off and waited for the show to begin. We had a live orchestra for the performance and despite this being my third, fourth or fifth viewing of the performance in the last three years I enjoyed it--and not just the Mother Ginger scene with Blaire! The Long Beach Ballet puts on a very good production with a great mix of local children and talent, some of our area's teenagers are wonderful dancers, and professionals brought in for some of the main parts. Again, having a live orchestra adds to the evening and the enjoyment.

Getting home very late I think we all slept soundly with visions of nutcrackers, sugar plum fairies, toy soldiers and snow princesses in our dreams.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Twit, Twit, Twittering

So I guess I am twittering now, plus the Facebook thing, and the LinkedIn; I am so connected I must be only two degrees from Kevin Bacon at this point. So you can twit me at if you wish to twit me or what ever it is called. My brother sent me a twit and I decided to check it out because I had heard Hugh Hewitt and several guests on his show the past few weeks speaking about twitter. It costs nothing (but time spent setting up, surfing, etc, etc) and if it can enrich my life (literally if anyone needs a mortgage in California who is reading this) there is no harm in being a twit.

What I can see from my first experience and about twenty minutes is that twitter has a long way to go, a very, very long way to go, to be anything near Facebook in terms of connecting people. It appears several applications are down this evening, it is not easy to search for someone and to "link" them (or "follow" in twit terms). From conversations on the Hugh Hewitt radio show it seems a lot of members of the GOP and conservatives are using twitter to try to close the technological gap on the Democrats--which as was seen in the recent election is huge. From my brief experience thus far twitter is about 1998 in terms of technology. If key members of the GOP are counting on this to return to a majority in Congress then I better get used to Madame Speaker Pelosi for at least four more years.

Anyone out there twit? Let me know some tips as to how to navigate and why I should be using twitter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BSOD or I Hope You Get The Flu

This is the Blue Screen Of Death, BSOD. Leslie does not know of the BSOD because she's a cool Mac user and hates anything Windows related. I am somewhat familiar with the BSOD having had, like many Windows/PC users, a semi-major viral attack about every 18 - 24 months. Today was the fourth work day in a row that I spent considerable time on the laptop because of a virus I picked up last week. On Facebook. On a video. Stupidly clicking the button to "update your flashplayer." So several hours Thursday with the anti-virus scans and the spyware scans. Friday was more of the same, and then my Internet Explorer died, which introduced me to Mozilla Firefox, which is a pretty cool browser; unfortunately many of the websites in our industry require Internet Explorer. The weekend was somewhat slow as I was busy with house stuff and just ran the anti-viral/spyware. They kept coming up clean. Monday, I worked through it waiting for our IT vendor to somehow save me. Yesterday he took control of the laptop via remote and when I came in today, Wednesday, my laptop was "fixed."

Fixed means that everything was reloaded on my laptop--everything except my settings, you know the things like your labels for Outlook Calendar, instant messenger, Adobe, log-ins and passwords to the fifty sites you visit everyday. So today, I hope, was the beginning of the end to get my laptop back to where it was before I stupidly clicked on the button to update my flash player--which as soon as I clicked I knew I was in for it. Argghhh.

So I was stupid once again and let down my guard and was violated by a virus concocted and sneezed out into cyberspace by some guy with a personality disorder, or perhaps he is just an asshole. There are penalties for spreading viruses, for maliciously disrupting computer activitiy, stealing information and other cyberactivity that is malicious in intent and practice--when was the last time you heard of someone being busted and serving time for writing and spreading a virus?

I Googled virus, virus jail, computer laws virus; as we Google everything these days. I came across this debate on where one guy argues that those who spread computer viruses be jailed and another guy argues they should not. The anti-jail guy says it is a form of free speech, and that there is a college in Canada (figures) where they teach how to write computer viruses, and if they teach it in college then how can it be illegal? Well they also teach nuclear physics but that does not make blowing up a nuclear bomb illegal. And many colleges have ROTC or riflery classes but that does not make shooting someone, except in self defense, illegal. They teach communism in college as well, which goes to show just because something is taught in college doesn't mean it is good.

While I have been trying to be more positive and forgiving and understanding on this issue I hope the jerk who wrote and released the virus I got last week gets a real virus; I hope he gets the flu. The yellow sputum cough and racking vomiting and pounding headache and bones that just hurt and you can't sleep type of flu. For a week, or maybe more. I hope he hurts so that he understands his malady is cosmically caused and he confesses to the authorities what he has done so they catch him and send him to prison.

Have a nice day. May the BSOD not be with you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It Is Mythical, So Calm Down

Despite the really cool Sooner Schooner and the interlocking O-U logo, not to mention the great crimson and cream color scheme, some are bashing on the Oklahoma University Sooners football team for playing in the NCAA Division I Football Championship.
Most of those doing the bashing and criticism are from below the Red River and are supporters of the University of Texas Longhorns with their hamburger on the hoof mascot and color scheme that looks like what I changed from our daughters' diapers after they had pureed carrots. While I say tough skirt steak regarding their not making the Big 12 Championship because of the conference tie-breaker rules, I do feel they have a better argument to be in the "national title" game than Florida does.

Florida lost at home to a crappy Mississippi team, they played Citadel from the mighty Southern Conference (where they were 2-6) in November and played in the SEC--perhaps the most over-rated conference in college football; forget perhaps the SEC is the most over-rated conference. History doesn't play football, but unfortunately it ranks football teams and because of that the SEC teams are over-ranked every year. Florida does not belong in the title game instead of Texas just because the beat an Alabama team that managed to win out through an easy schedule--a really easy schedule.

But in the end it really does not matter who plays in the BCS Championship because the title is mythical since it is not decided on the field but rather by interns to sports information directors, lazy East Coast writers who don't watch any games played East of the Appalachians that kick off after 5:00 their time and computer programmers--in other words those who vote in the myriad of polls it takes to determine who "should" play for the "national championship". "We're Number 1" can be proven in every sport but Division 1 football, so to say it is hollow.

Until there is a playoff the "champion" is a mythical title bestowed by those who are not participants on any of the teams who may lay claim to the title. The games are fun to watch, and I enjoy it immensely when Oklahoma wins its games, but I will refrain from joyous rapture after their victory over Florida sometime in January. That guys who run institutions based on smarts and intellect cannot figure out a way to make a lot of money
and have a playoff for their football teams may say more about the decline of education in our country than it does about the money involved in college sports.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Conspiracy Theories

My hand has been slapped a few times by the publishers and editors of the Long Beach Post because they want me to tie the issues I write about on My Front Porch directly into Long Beach, while I take the position that if you feel we are a global community then every issue relates locally as well as nationally and internationally, they do not tend to agree so many of my thoughts on national and international issues are left out of my contributions. It is their site however it is their content requirements I abide by for my posts. I will use this forum which has one one-hundreth of the views of the LBPost (if I am lucky) to put forth some of my crazier ideas. That said here are some theories I have been ruminating about that pertain to my community only in that they pertain to every community. I use the term conspiracy theory as these go to the dark side of current or perhaps future events; note they are all just my opinions and I have no proof of any of them being real...yet!

Obama ending Hillary's career: A lot of people are wondering why President-Elect Obama would nominate Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. My conspiracy theory is that now that Obama has knocked out the biggest power players in the Democratic Party in Hillary and Bill Clinton he is going for the jugular and finishing them off politically. By nominating Hillary to SecofState, Obama gets her out of the Senate where should could continue her campaign for President in 2012 or 2016; as SecofState I believe she can no longer fund raise for campaigns; as well part of the deal between them is Bill will disclose donors to his Presidential Library. So the nomination and subsequent confirmation shuts off the flow of funds the Clintons have become accustomed to since leaving office--or at least stems the flow from a gush to a trickle. The confirmation hearings could, and should, get pretty nasty if the Republicans on the committee treat Hillary the way so many Bush nominees have been treated the past eight years in Senate confirmation hearings. Who will bring up Vincent Foster first? Campaign donations from phantom donors in New York's Chinatown? Bill's international jet setting with Ron Burkle and "friends" ? By putting Hillary in the Cabinet Obama is able to control her exposure and her message. At some point there has to be a falling out, no one controls a Clinton, and when that happens, when Hillary is no longer a member of the Cabinet her political career is over.

Hillary gets even richer: When she is shoved out of the Secretary of State position my theory is that Hillary finally divorces Bill since she has no more use for him and hits the speaker circuit and corporate boards and makes even more tens of millions. If there is anything the Clintons love more than themselves and power it is tens of millions.

Chavez invades Cuba: Because they never really think things through Socialist dictators do what pleases them and angers their enemies. I think that Venezuelan "President" Hugo Chavez will "invade" Cuba before the end of 2008 to force President Bush to react and probably mobilize U.S. forces into the Caribbean. Recently Russian President Dimitri Medvedev visited both Venezuela (with part of his navy) and Cuba; giving three world leaders who have no positive emotions for President Bush, or the United States, getting together a few months before we transition from Bush to Obama.
"Hey Dimitri, what would you think if I were to send my troops into Cuba to, um...let's say to put down an 'uprising'?" asks Chavez making quote signs in the air.
Medvedev thinks for a moment and says, "Let me ask Fidel and Raul when I see them tomorrow. But I like where you are going with this!"

Pakistani based Islamists Attack U.S. The same group(s) responsible for the attacks in Mumbai last week will try something similar in U.S. after Obama is sworn in as President. Obama is on the record as saying we should go into Pakistan. Attacks in the U.S. based out of Pakistan will force his hand and pretty much mandate U.S. incursions into Pakistan. This will destablize Pakistan, which is what the Islamists desire, further provoking India into a war and also serve as an issue to recruit more terrorists for their suicide missions. With thousands of boys being indoctrinated across Pakistan in terrorist controlled madras school they have plenty of potential recruits.

Big 3 Automaker Threats. The Big 3 automakers will continue to threaten Congress with shutdowns and closure until they get their money, then do it again in ten months to get more. After that with mid-term elections approaching the Big 3 and the UAW will get by on earmarks so their friends (D) in Congress do not lose their re-election bids in 2010 and then continue to create a fully government subsidized American automaker industry.

Vegans and Environmentalists will unite to shut down my barbecue. This is the one I fear the most. In order to reduce the number of animals slaughtered so that I, and hundreds of other Americans, can enjoy the ritual of barbecuing and eating meat, the vegan coalition will join forces with the uber-liberal factions of the envionmentalists to ban barbecuing in California because of the emissions from our grills. Not only does the barbecue emit smoke, if done properly, but it requires the used of wood and you know where that comes from! So I am denuding the forests, polluting the air and killing innocent bovine just so I can enjoy a perfectly tender and tasty slice of tri-tip---I must be stopped!