Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 2: Headed to the Hill

Hey! How ya doing? Long time no see.

The good news is I made it through my first day on the new job without any major difficulties. There really is no bad news, although I do have a lot to learn especially when it comes to my new co-workers and how things are done.

My first major task is kinda-sorta covering a briefing by an assistant SecDef. Should be interesting. Also got assigned to do an interview with our new incoming deputy director when she gets here in a month or so.

All in all, not too bad.

On to some other random things I’ve been meaning to write about, but haven’t gotten around to during the recent unrest.

I read this article last week about the troubles the U.S. Postal Service finds itself in these days. The Post Office lost almost $3 billion last year and is facing even bigger losses in the future.

One idea Post Office leaders have floated is cutting mail delivery from six-days-a-week to five, but congressional leaders have reportedly been cool to this plan.

To Hell with that, I say. Five-day-a-week mail delivery? Who the Hell needs or wants that?

There is nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, arriving in my mailbox today (and yours as well, I’m guessing) I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to get. In fact, most of the crap in my mailbox today, tomorrow, yesterday, last week and last year need not have been there at all. Do your or I really need another unsolicited flyer from the local supermarket telling us about the weekly specials? I think not.

I actually feel bad sometimes picking up my mail while the carrier is still there (my building gets its mail at the end of the day) and I end up throwing most of it away right in front of him. He took the time to haul it from the Post Office to his truck, his truck used fuel to bring it to my building, he then schlepped it from the truck to my mailbox and then took the time to slot it along with everyone else’s.

And then I throw it away, right in front of him. Seems kinda rude.

But, seriously, why should I haul the junk up to my apartment to toss it when it’s so much easier to just chuck it in the can five feet from my mailbox?

I say cutting back from six to five days isn’t nearly enough. Residential delivery should be cut to three days a week (businesses can keep getting their mail on all the week days, though). If you need something to get somewhere tomorrow or Saturday, you can pay the extra cost for express delivery from either the USPS or FedEx or UPS.

When a business stops making money or, in the case of the USPS, stops breaking even, it needs to reexamine how it does business.

The Post Office, like many businesses of the previous century, has been killed of late by the Internet. People don’t send letters and cards and such any more. They send emails, IMs, txts and such. (Note: I'm a bit old fashion, I still like to write the occasional letter. Despite checking our email 53 times a day, we all still get excited by a letter in the mailbox.)

According to its annual report, the Post Office delivered 201 billion (give or take) pieces of mail in 2008. This was off from 210.6 billion in 2007 and 211.5 billion in 2006. The article I mentioned above said the USPS expects a further drop of 10 billion to 15 billion this year.

If my business lost 10 or so percent of its work in a three-year period, I'd say it's time for some serious changes.

Like Lawrence Garfield explained to the workers in the factory he was trying to buy in “Other People’s Money” (a good early 1990s film, I recommend), there was a time when there were many companies making buggy whips. Eventually, there was only one company left making them and they were probably really good buggy whips, but who really cared now that everyone was driving cars?

I don’t know exactly what the Post Office needs to do to keep doing business, but I do know one thing: Like many other companies providing a vital 20th century service that became bloated by the end of that era, it needs to quickly figure out how to operate in a new millennia or it’ll die like the buggy whip manufacturers of the 19th century. (If you care, it's called "Creative Destruction".)

Who’s Your Boss?
Has anyone else seen that ESPN ad ending with the woman wearing a “Who’s Your Boss?” t-shirt and saying “Sweeeet” after she apparently completes a fantasy baseball trade? I must have seen that ad a hundred times in the past couple of weeks, but it wasn’t until this morning it hit me: Is that Alyssa Milano?

I know she’s a serious baseball fan, so this ad would make sense, but I just need another voice to tell me it’s true. Or I will go mad.

Mojitos Anyone?
This just in from the Senate: Some one of these days soon, you and I my fellow Americans, may just have a right our brothers and sisters to the north are lucky enough to enjoy. For a view of what could await us, visit this
lovely lady pirate’s place and read about her recent adventures in the land of rum and cigars 90 miles from Florida.

Wending its way through our lovely legislative process is the
Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act. Should this bill pass the Senate and the House and be signed by the president, we too will be allowed to visit and enjoy the sunny beaches of our Commie southern neighbor. Supposedly, we can’t go there now because of the repressive nature of the ruling regime and the political clout of a couple of aging Cuban ex-pats in South Florida.

Can someone explain to me why it’s wrong to go to Cuba, but it’s OK to do HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in business with China, Vietnam and Russia? If those same ex-pats in South Florida really hated the Castros, they should have been trying to get as many Americans and American businesses to Cuba as possible over the years.

Nothing, and I mean nothing in the world, will bring a vicious dictator to his knees faster (they're usually men) than a green wave of tourist and business dollars.

That’s all for today, gotta get up to the Hill.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Sitting in my office, last day on the contract, virtually nothing to do.

I've already moved 95 percent of my stuff down the hall to my new cube. A cube with a view in fact, the first view of the outside world I've had during work hours since I worked in Texas. I had the only desk in the newsroom where you could see the river. It wasn't much, but it was more than the guy next to me. It was also in a corner. That was very nice.

What the hell do you do on your last day on a contract? It's not like they're going to let us go early, those are billable hours and the company is going to get every last cent out of us. Before they cut us adrift like the Bounty mutineers did to Capt. William Bligh.

Nothing else to say on this. In a little less than six hours I'm done doing what I do and, on Monday, will be back doing something different. Something infinitely more interesting.

Words you've never heard said before: I can't wait until Monday.

1 p.m. Update: Four out of my five co-workers who were going to be unemployed Monday just got the word they successfully interviewed for the jobs they currently have. I was sitting nearby and listened in as the new contractor's rep was telling them all about how the company is sweetness and light and how they rent out the Air and Space Museum for their Christmas party and this and that and blah, blah, blah, blah-blah.

I was thinking, damn, that sounds like a pretty decent deal.

Then I remembered, out of everyone I work with, I'm the only one who really moved up in this whole situation. I'm extraordinarily pleased for all of them and glad I'll still be working near some of them, but I'm also glad I'll be moving on to something new Monday.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

TMI Thursday: Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

It's TMI Thursday my friends. For more stories that will entertain and disgust you at the same time go to LiLu’s place for this week's full list. And now, on to the fun!

Once upon a time, I was visiting the happiest place on earth. No, not Disney, but an even happier place than the kingdom of the rat. Where is this of which I speak?

It was the land of barbecue, sweet tea and Blue Cups of beer, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets, the very heart of Chapel Hill,
a place where I've dance in fires after emerging victorious over dook.

It was a couple of years ago and I was in town for the University of North Carolina’s football game against the University of Maryland. Joining me in this adventure were some of my bestest friends in the whole world including Sarita (and her hubby, a great guy), my oldest friend from school who I met on the very first day of our freshman year.

Also joining in the fun was JJ who, if neither of my brothers or best friends is available on that day in the future, I would seriously consider asking her to be the “Best Woman” at my nuptials.

Since we were grown-ups, instead of crashing on someone’s floor some where, we were staying at the Carolina Inn. A lovely place to rest your head right on campus and a stone’s throw from the football stadium. More importantly, it was an even shorter walk to the eating and drinking (mostly drinking) establishments of Franklin Street.

Friday evening, before the game, we took advantage of both of these aspects of Franklin. Starting with the barbecue platter at Spanky’s, we then headed to (in order) He’s Not for a Blue Cup, Goodfellas for some more beer and, finally, ended the evening at Linda’s Downstairs.

Following a slight at Goodfellas where the doorman neglected to card the then-late-20-something JJ, I was determined this would not happen again as we entered Linda’s.

“Make sure you check her ID,” I told the guy at this door, “Cause you never know who’s going to try to sneak in.”

“Hey there Foggy,” the other guy at the door said, “How’s it going?”

I looked at the guy, didn’t recognize him, and the only thought going through my mind was this: “Which one of my loser friends is still in Chapel Hill working the door at a bar?”

Turning around and smiling after being carded, JJ looked at my inquisitor, leapt at him wrapping her arms around his neck shouting, “Rutland!”

Turns out the guy I couldn’t remember had lived in the suite next to mine in Morrison Residence Hall for a year and had dated JJ for about six months of that time (she lived in the suite on the other side of me, roommates with my girlfriend that year, just to clear things up).

We take a moment to get re-acquainted and I then I pop the question to Rutland, “So, what’re you up to these days?”

“Oh, I bought the bar.”

Sonofabitch! How cool is that? This guy, who spent hours searching for his frat pin in the bushes nine floors below our suites after JJ threw it off the balcony when they broke up, now owned the third (possibly second) coolest bar in Chapel Hill.

“Hey man, that’s great.”

After a couple rounds of beers and a lap or two along Memory Lane downstairs, JJ and I headed (read: stumbled) back to the Carolina Inn to rest up for the next day. By the time we got there we were kinda leaning on one another to help each other along the way.

After modestly changing for bed – simultaneously she in the bathroom, me in the main room – we lay down for our naps. Together, but in more of a “friends spooning to feel the presence of another human being” kind of way. Nothing happened.

Nothing happened, that is, until the little gnome sitting in the “Digestion Operations Control Room” in my brain was startled from his mid-shift nap about an hour later by the “Massive Abdominal Cramp” warning light blazing a bright red, followed almost instantaneously by the “Holy Shit, Bathroom NOW!” warning siren.

You ever have one of those moments? A moment when, once safely out of bed and in the bathroom in the middle of the night when you just can’t decide what to do? And, especially important, how every action has an equal but opposite reaction?

The brain gnome must have hit both purge buttons within seconds of one another because, just as I started puking my guts into the toilet, the overwhelming force burst through the other end of my digestive tract.

Spectacularly, if I do say so.

A half hour later, after using some of the Inn’s expensive towels to clean up and a quick shower to clean myself up, I slipped back into bed. My own bed, that is, because I didn’t want to take the chance of any accidents in a shared space.

My only lingering question about this whole affair is this: How is it that JJ and I ate and drank the exact same things that night and I’m the only one who ended the evening on the cool tile of the bathroom?

Some mysteries, I guess, aren’t meant to be solved.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Whole lotta nuthin'

Yesterday (Tuesday), when I went for my first day of jury duty, I decided to keep a diary of my experiences dispensing justice for the man. Here's yesterday's entry:

9:40 a.m. Tuesday - Arrived in the jury assembly room with the other members of Group A Sections 1-5 for the first real day of jury duty. The group, so far, looks like a decent selection of "peers" except, yanno, for the fact that but for one South Asian woman, everyone is white.

Most have chosen to read the paper to kill some time. One woman is reading a book and another is working on what looks like office work. I have chosen the book route.

9:44 a.m. - The jury coordinator comes into the room and says, "Thank you for coming, but next time check our Web site before leaving home. We posted a notice at 8:15 we didn't need anyone today."

HUH? Damnit!

I checked that site at 8 a.m. and it still said I needed to show up. I then went out, caught my bus to the Metro and then rode over to the courthouse. When I mention this to the nice lady she reminds me I could also have called the jury information line to check the jury needs for that day.

I, in turn, then remind her that since cell phones are not permitted in the courthouse, and since I rode the Metro like a very good and very eco-conscious citizen, my cell phone is sitting on my dining table at home.

Her response, "What about a pay phone?" draws a bemused look from me and the guy beside me listening in on our conversation. I seriously can't remember the last time I used a pay phone, although I did touch one last weekend at Polly's when, while waiting for the gentlemen's facilities to become unoccupied, I picked up the receiver just to see if it still actually worked (it did).

How about instead you take into account that even to go the five or six miles via bus and train can take a little bit of a while (let alone driving and finding a parking space) and post your final notice about jury needs no later than 8 a.m.?

You think that might be a better idea? I do.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

One of 12

Making my last week on the job with my current company even more golly gee swell, I got a letter a couple of weeks ago telling me I was been offered the opportunity to serve my friends and neighbors. So, instead of heading into work I'm heading over to the county courthouse for juror orientation.

I'm actually not kidding, I really can't think of a better way to spend the last week on a job than on jury duty (except vacation, that'd work too). I get paid and I don't have to go in and help clean up the place.

Although, my time as a juror almost didn't happen. I got my summons in February. Early February. And then promptly forgot about it with everything else going on (yanno, losing the job and all that). It wasn't until last Tuesday, during dinner with friends at La Lomita, I was reminded of my civic duty.

Blah blah blah blah like how they always show Ken Burns shows while you're on jury duty blah blah blah,” my friend Mike said from across the chips and salsa.

Huh?!? What!?! What was that you said?!? Oh. Holy. Shit!! IhaveJuryDuty!! IForgotIWasSupposeToReportForJuryDuty!!!! WhenWasISupposeToReportForJuryDuty?!?!?! AmIGoingToGetArrested?!?!?!”

Sudden. Total. Overwhelming. Panic. Attack.

OK, at least as sudden and total a panic attack as I can have. I'm pretty low-key and generally unflappable. But the thought was there nagging in my head.

All night long. Like an itch I couldn't scratch.

But, as the Lord looks after fools and drunks and I am thus dual-qualified, turns out Mike's comment gave me the warning I needed to avoid an unpleasant session with a county judge for skipping jury duty. Thanks Mike, I owe you a beer or two for keeping me out of jail.

Aside from judges, lawyers and cops, I've probably spent more time in courtrooms than most people covering this case or that. In fact, I've personally sat through five death penalty cases that ended 4-1 in favor of the needle. What? You're surprised? It was Texas after all.

If there's one thing all my time in courtrooms has taught me it's this: Trials in real life are nothing like they are on TV. Lawyers don't trip up witnesses, it's rarely exciting and it's never, ever over in an hour. Hell, it sometimes takes 20 minutes just to establish the chain of evidence for a single exhibit or establish a witnesses' credentials.

Here's the other thing I've learned: Innocent people almost never end up in a courtroom. Defendants on trial are usually the ones who A) couldn't cut a deal and plea out or, B) Think they can beat the charges.

But it's like I said, this is usually the case. You never know when you'll come across an honest man or someone who's been wrongly charged.

If nothing else, I'll definitely have a story or two to tell. When it's all over of course, I wouldn't want to do anything illegal. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

“Oh, What I wouldn't give for a holocaust cloak”

So I signed off kinda abruptly last week and, except for the P-I's obit on Tuesday, I haven't written anything since my “Awwww, Damn!” post. There is a reason for this and, continuing a theme, Let me 'splain.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Last Wednesday around 11 a.m. I lost my job. Not right then at that exact moment, but for all intents and purposes, I was about to become a statistic the government announces each week.

Long story short(er), I work on a government contract. Since October my company's been rebidding the contract and, after all those months of work, we got underbid by a competitor named after a euphemism for alcohol.

Let's just say I've been in better meetings than the one where our business group president, division V.P. and account lead broke the news. I was seriously concerned for one of my co-workers who's six months pregnant, and it truly hurt to see my production manager trying valiantly not to cry – and not totally succeeding in her efforts.

Mother. Fucker.

Don't know if anyone reading this has ever lost a job, but it's a pretty shitty experience. Everything after “We lost the contract” was pretty meaningless. I worked as a reporter for a long time and I like to think I'm pretty good at telling when someone is either A) bullshitting me, or B) just plain flat out lying their ass off. The first time I heard “Our main concern right now if for you,” (it was actually said about four times in total) I knew that as a group the people I'd worked with for more than three years were pretty much screwed.

That doesn't leave much time for dilly-dallying.

The contract I work on ends March 28 (actually the 27th since the 28th is a Saturday). Two and a half weeks to find a new job. Sixteen and a half days before the paychecks stop coming. No severance.

Anyone care for a little advice? Unlike most things it's free and, in this case, worth more than you're paying.

One: Keep your resume current. If you haven't updated your resume in the last three months, pull it out, shake the dust off and make sure the lies you told when you wrote it still stand up to the light of day. There are few things higher on the “Sucks Scale" than having to start a job search by rewriting your resume.

Two: Drink less, save more. Even though I had a hard unemployment date rushing at me like a pissed off hippopotamus, I wasn't yet between the rock and the hard place. Part of every paycheck since I moved to D.C. has gone straight into a savings account. It's my “raining cats and fucking dogs and if I don't need it for that a down payment on a house” fund.

I've always heard you should sock away six months salary just in case, but a better measure would be six months of living expenses. What does it cost you to pay your rent, eat, keep the Internet flowing into your house and, here's the biggie, buy health insurance every month? (And remember, you're going to be paying the full price for your insurance.)

You got that number figured? Good, now multiply by six and start saving.

Three: network. I really can't overemphasize this point. Talk to your friends. Talk to their friends. Talk to the people in the next office around the water cooler. Go to alumni events. Call old girl/boyfriends. Leave no stone unturned.

I've always been a quick healer. What are our liabilities?

So, what have I done over the past week? Well, Friday morning just before I was set to spend the day lounging on my giant couch while watching the ACC Tournament, I spent 15 minutes on the phone with the guy who runs another contract in my office.

Then I sent him my up-to-date resume around 11 a.m.

Monday I interview with the government client.

At 3 p.m. Wednesday (today when I wrote this) I signed an offer letter.

For a better job.

It's possible, Pig, I might be bluffing. It's conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. But, then again... perhaps I have the strength after all.


Like a fairy tale, this story too has a happy ending. I end one job next Friday and, after a relaxing weekend, I walk back into the same office and start another.

You know what? I can't wait to see what's on the other side of sunset.

9 a.m. Update
How's this for funny: I just got a call from my current company's corporate recruiter. She'd like to schedule an interview for me tomorrow with one of the other business groups.

Just a bit outside.

A day late and, as good as my company's been to me, probably a couple grand short. My word is my bond and the offer I accepted is really good. No turning back now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Requiscat in Pace

(Just a quick post today on a topic near and dear to my heart)

Rest In Peace Seattle P-I.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its last Dead Tree Edition today. From here on out, the P-I will be an online-only newspaper.

I talked about this topic last month, but the death of a big-city newspaper is still a bit of a shocking turn of events. The P-I is owned by Hearst, the company I once worked for, and if it's getting rid of the P-I, which one of its other major dailies is now facing the headsman? My guess, either the San Francisco Chronicle or the Beaumont Enterprise, respectively one of the bigger and the smallest metro dailies the company owns.

The newspaper business is indeed living in interesting times.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I've been a little slack posting lately and, unfortunately it's gonna get worse for the next couple of weeks before it gets any better.

"Strange things are afoot at the Circle K."

So much of this and that. I'm going to be scrambling a bunch until at least the end of the month so I'm really not going to be able to devote the time this little corner of cyberspace deserves.

But don't worry, depending on how things go, just like the governator of a certain Pacific coast state, I'll be back.

Inigo Montoya: "Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life.

Westley: "Have you ever considered piracy? You'd make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mall Reflections

I spent a lovely day Sunday out exploring our nation's capital with friends walking here and there and to and fro. Couldn't think of a better way to spend what seems like the first real day of Spring we've had.

I've always found one of the best parts of D.C. is showing it off to visitors, and while I wasn't in charge of this expedition, I was a willing follower. Also, I got to test out my spiffy new camera bag. Sadly, my old one, after more than two decades of faithful service, was on its last leg, and that one was artificial.

Anyway, taking advantage of the balmy weather our party of intrepid adventurers did a short loop of the Mall, from the World War II Memorial, down to Abe's house and back via the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This was, of course, before heading off to see another masterpiece, Carolina's mighty defeat of the minions of evil. (Not kidding about the evil part, they're even nicknamed the blue devils. Blue from another beatdown and from lack of sex. Especially the basketball team.)

The only thing missing to make the journey complete? Pink fanny packs. Then all of us would have looked like we were from out of town, rather than the one legitimate guest in our noble homeland. But I digress.

Imagine if you will, the excitement of a family from far, far away, scrimping and saving in these difficult times for the trip of – if not a lifetime then certainly of the their most recent memory. In their heads they have visions of our gleaming white capital, monuments glowing in the sun (OK, it was a bit overcast today, but that's not the point, I'm getting to it), and reflecting in placid pools of water.

Something like, say, this (taken on Veterans Day 2008):

Now, imagine how you, and more importantly, Daddy Jimmy, Mommy Sandi, Little Susie and Little Johnny in town for the weekend from some place that's not here, would feel looking out over this panorama* (taken March 8, 2008) of our fine city:

I'll bet, when they saw this mudpit on the Mall, Jimmy, Sandi, Susie and Johnny were crushed, just crushed at what they saw (and Little Johnny even cried a bit). Their faces must have looked a lot like Clark, Ellen, Audrey and Rusty's when they got to Walley World and Marty Moose told them America's favorite family fun park was closed for two weeks for cleaning and repairs.

Well, at least there's still a glimmer of a reflection for them to see before loading up in the Wagon Queen Family Truckster and heading back to wherever they came from.

*Yes, yes, I know they have to do maintenance on the Reflecting Pool every once in a while, and it's better to do it in March rather than, say, July or August, but it's still a bit of a drag.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

TMI Thursday: Free Beer Every 30 to 45 Minutes

It's TMI Thursday my friends. For more stories that will entertain and disgust you at the same time to to LiLu's place for this week's full list. And now, on to the fun!

As I looked back through my TMIs I realized many of them come from my time in the Marine Corps. There is a reason for this, and it’s not because Marines are stupid. I’d say we just had a healthy appetite to explore the unknown.

We also liked free stuff. People’d think when you live for free in the barracks – generally a two-man room perhaps a little larger than your average dorm room – and eat for free in the Mess Hall – again, about on par with your average college dining hall – you wouldn’t really need anything else. Not true, not true at all.

Most of us had to make payments on cars we couldn’t afford. And then there were the tattoos, just one of these little beauties could eat up a whole month’s disposable income (including some of what you needed for your car payment, but meh, you can make that up next month, right?)

So the truth is when the chance for something free comes along, especially free beer, if there’s Marines around you should probably watch out since there’s going to be a rush to the bar.

The setting for our little story is the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center at a place called Pickle Meadows in Bridgeport, Calif. At the end of a row of tents where the units live during their six-week mountain and winter warfare training rotations, is a Quonset hut housing what used to be called a slop chute.

The name of this slop chute was the Pickle Bunker – they even had a cute little logo with a pickle in a machine gun bunker. The fare proffered by this humble establishment was, well, humble. One tap with two heads poured the regular and light versions of an American brew, usually Bud or Miller, and if you were lucky the fridge might have a frozen burrito or pizza for sale.

But the really special part of the Pickle Bunker was the grey Rubbermaid tub located just below the beer taps. There was no drain system under the taps of the Pickle Bunker like in yer fancier joints, so the overflow and foam created while beers were poured was just spilled into the tub.

Kinda like this one:

Depending on the intensity level of training that day – ranging from the merely sadistic to things the Founding Fathers didn’t even dream of when they wrote about prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment for criminals, let alone training for servants of the government – the tub would fill up with a gallon or two of beer about every 30 to 45 minutes.

Being resourceful young Marines with few liquid assets available, the leap from “tub of piss-warm beer foam and spillover” to “free beer” was microscopic and virtually instantaneous.

When the free beer reached the rim, the tub was gently and carefully removed from beneath the taps – we didn’t want to spill any of the free beer – carried in front of the bar and anyone who wanted some free beer was welcome to partake.

Of course, since the tub was kinda wiggly, as Rubbermaid tubs tend to be when filled with a liquid, we decided it probably wasn’t a good idea to try to pour the free beer into mugs. You'd spill more than you'd drink.
And, seriously, who wants free beer from a tub everyone and their brother’s been dipping their dirty mugs into?

The simplest solution was, as usual, the most obvious: why even bother with mugs when you can just bend over, stick your face fully in the beer and drink to your heart’s content.

As long as you could hold your breath, you could drink to your fill and never have to pay a dime.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It’s Hockey not Baseball and we’re in D.C. NOT Baltimore

Dear Retarded Assholes sitting behind me in Sections 412 and 413 at the Verizon Center during last night’s Washington Capitals game against the Carolina Hurricanes,

First off, let me thank you for the effort you put in hauling yourself to your feet when the nice lady who’d won the ESPN Zone Star Spangled Sing-Off started in on her not-too-bad rendition of our country’s National Anthem. This shows you have at least some of the basic motor skills necessary to maintain rudimentary control over the lower functions of your barely evolved primate-like bodies.

Personally, I generally don’t sing along with whoever is chosen to perform the Star Spangled Banner, but will sometimes do so in the absolute privacy of my own home when I’m sure there’s no one around. This is mainly because it is a tough song to sing, and my singing has been known to cause birds to drop dead and fall from the sky and young children to run screaming for their mothers.

I don’t like to subject the general public to this kind of abuse, so I refrain.

You retarded assholes, on the other hand, did join in, which is fine since you obviously don’t care about what others think of your singing voices. But, if you’re going to sing it, sing the whole song not just the single syllable you think makes you cool and allows you to giggle like a tweener touching herself for the first time.

I’ll start this off simply so your cretinous, pre-anthropoid walnut-sized brains can absorb it without bursting into flame and turning into a teaspoon of ash.

No matter what you’ve been told by the people you believe are your natural, biological parents as you’ve grown up, it is never, ever OK or cute or supportive of the team or whatever to shout out the “O!” in the line “O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave” of the national anthem.

I can even spell that out for you if you’re having trouble with the concept: N-E-V-E-R. NEVER.

And here’s why you warthog-faced buffoons:

1. First and foremost it’s disrespectful. We’ll leave aside for a moment the person singing it for real won the ESPN Zone Star Spangled Sing-Off, but she sang it well, so that’s a push. Most people can barely deal with the actual singers mangling the song; do not aid and abet these singers in their crimes.

2. We were at a friggin’ hockey game, not a mid-summer contest at Camden Yards fercrissakes. Yes, yes, I know you were deprived of local baseball growing up and were forced to root for the Orioles and I’m truly very, very sorry for that (and for your having to live with a jackass of an owner like Peter Angelos). Trust me, I know about sorry, I grew up a Pirate fan.

But guess what? Good news. In case you haven’t heard, we (my hands are circling around in an inclusive motion) have a local team now, the Nationals, who are getting ready to start their second season in their lovely, if somewhat horrendously overpriced park in Southeast. Even better news: You can trade in all of that ugly black and orange Orioles’ gear at least, for Godsakes, on hockey nights. (I’d never ask someone to switch team allegiances just because a pro team moved to your city.)

3. Take a look at this map from the good folks at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (they’re pretty smart). Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you to catch up.

See that yellow rectangle with a little something dangling off it in the bottom left corner of the map? That’s Washington, D.C. Extra bonus information: The D.C. stands for District of Columbia. Now you can impress all your friends and win bets at your local watering hole.

Now, up there in the top right corner of the map? That yellow Nevada-looking polygon? (I won’t even try to define that, just trust me) that’s Baltimore, Maryland. I’ll say that again sloooowly: Bal-ti-more, Mary-land.

Quick quiz: Where were you when you shouted out the “O!” in the Star Spangled Banner? Correct! Slow, but correct nonetheless. You were at a HOCKEY GAME in WASHINGTON, D.C.!! Not a baseball game in Baltimore, Maryland.

Shouting out the “O!” at a sporting event in Baltimore, let alone Washington, isn’t cute. It isn’t funny. All it does is make you look and sound even more like the retarded assholes you actually are.

Thanks so much for your time, you can now return to your daily drooling. (Of course, the drooling thing only applies to the actual retarded assholes who do this, everyone else, thanks for reading.)

The Foggy Dew

(And don’t think I don’t have my eye on you Atlanta fans who, for years, have been singing the last word of the first verse as “Braves” rather than “brave.” That’s even worse than the jackasses this post is directed toward.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Carbon is Not a Food Group

Since today is one of those busy, busy days I’m going to kinda cheat a bit here and direct you to this news story about a young couple from New Mexico who are in love. Click the link, trust me, it’s hilarious.

Seriously, how do you not notice this is going on?

You’re boyfriend’s got all your friends gathered around at the local Wendy’s, which I’m guessing is the local romantic hot spot there in Farmington, they’re all acting a bit strange and you don’t notice anything is up? Can you say “Clueless”?

Also, have you never heard of brain freeze? Racing down a Frosty is a sure-fire way of giving yourself a world-class case of the freeze.

The lesson from this story is very, very simple: Never, ever, put anything in a Frosty cup you don’t want digested. Also, any two people this stupid should probably be denied a marriage license.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Prop 8 Redux

I haven’t ranted in a while so, with all the snow falling from the heavens today and the pace of work a little slower than usual, I thought it’s time for a good old fashion diatribe. A screed if you will on one of my favorite topics from last year.

On the day after the election I wrote about how California voters had outlawed gay marriage but, at the same time, approved a ballot measure giving egg-laying chickens more rights.

I believe my reaction was something like this: “Are you seriously fucking kidding me? What the fuck is up with that state? How the hell do you go into a voting booth and say ‘I think we need to be nicer to chickens and give them enough room to stand up, spread their wings and turn around, but screw those fags and dykes they don't deserve the chance to love someone and be happy.’ ”

Actually, that was exactly what I said. I checked.

Well, according to the news this morning, attorneys for and against Prop 8 are heading to the California Supreme Court this week to argue their case before that august and esteemed body. (I don’t know if they actually are august or esteemed, but I liked the phrase.)

To me it seems the basic question the court must answer is this: If a majority of voters approve, can they deprive a minority of their fellow citizens of what the U.S. Supreme court has already said is a basic civil right?

In Loving v. Virginia the Court ruled:

“Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

I included the whole citation from Wikipedia here to point out that Loving v. Virginia was a case dealing with the right of a white man to marry a black woman in Virginia, hence the descriptions of racial classifications and discrimination. I know some don’t like comparing the fight for civil rights based on race to those of sexual orientation, the thinking being it lessens the importance of those successes. But the truth is a lot of people really didn’t like the idea of equal rights for people who didn’t look like them in the first place.

To make it even more clear that Prop 8 is a violation of all our rights (in my opinion, of course), Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment reads, in part, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Seems simple, states cannot make laws – like the ones that once prohibited interracial marriage – to deprive individuals of their rights. And, since marriage has been declared a right, they can’t prevent eligible citizens (i.e., those who are of age and such) from marrying someone they love.

(Personally, I feel marriage is a religious institution and the state has absolutely no business mucking around in it. Why the hell should people have to ask the state for permission to take part in a religious ceremony?)

Ballot referendums are a useful tool. They are often used to right wrongs elected officials are unwilling to pursue. But they can and are abused from time to time. The passage of Proposition 8 was one of those times. It’s easy to see how the term “racial classifications” in Loving can and should just as easily read “sexual orientation” today.

Or, better yet: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”