Monday, September 27, 2010

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the....bed!

Due in no small part to my timely and erudite post about bed bugs ("Good morning..." August 22nd), the war on those creatures is being won. It appears the "surge" created by my post has had the intended effect.

Now we are faced with an even more insidious pest - the stink bug. All over the mid-Atlantic states you can hear the hue and cry. Wanting to find a warm cozy retreat for the upcoming winter, the stinkers are clustering around doorways and window sills waiting for the hapless owner who opens them to enjoy a little autumn respite. You may think you can stop their entry with a brush or a broom but their sheer numbers will prevail. We found one nestled happily in our blanket as we were changing our sheets yesterday.

It also appears that this variety, native to Asia, has no natural enemies here in the states. C'mon birds and frogs, get with the program! Maybe it's because when you kill them they let off a pungent smell, hence the moniker. They're not after you, they're after your fruit. They just bore a hole in it and suck away. While they pose no health threat and do not bite, the thought of my body becoming an egg laying nest during sweet morpheus is more than a little unsettling.

For those of you who remember the documentary film and science fiction novel The Hellstrom Chronicle, you'll recall that it predicts that insects will eventually inherit the planet. This is that theory incarnate. And when that big asteroid comes along and produces the earth's next extinction event, I know one species that won't be raising a stink about it.                                                     

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oh, silly me....I guess I just never looked at it that way before.

 Dear readers,
Two recent quotes from two very, very rich elitist liberals:

1. John Kerry: “We have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on."
A testy U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry yesterday blamed clueless voters with short attention spans for the uphill battle beleaguered Democrats are facing against Republicans across the nation.

2. Warren Buffett: "Get over your anger…………it is not helpful to have people as unhappy as they are about what’s going on in Washington."

Who'd a thunk it? It's actually our fault! Dumb out-of-work voters. I mean, what part of "you're too stupid to understand" do we not understand? Why does this even have to be a democracy, anyway? Damn. I am one voter who is truly sorry and pledge my support to those who know best for us. I'm also holding a big "keep home the vote" rally so that we can keep these wise people in Washington.

And whose idea was it to restrict Presidents to two terms? Obama can't change us over to a socialist society in just a couple of terms. Roosevelt would have done it if it weren't for that pesky World War II and an early demise. Give "the One we have been waiting for" the time he needs.

Sincerely, your now enlightened blog host, Big Al

Friday, September 24, 2010

Here's an idea --- Fantasy Congress!

I'm one of the millions of fantasy football players that dot this landscape called America. I play the free leagues for fun, no money involved. One day, while I was so cleverly adjusting my lineup for the following week, it occurred to me. What if we elected and managed congress like we do our fantasy teams?  Would it look like this?

Fantasy Congress League rules:

 1. Keeper leagues- There will be no "keepers" from one season to another. Once you have drafted (elected) and used a player (congressman/woman) for the season that player will not be eligible for another season, ever. Think term limits.

2. Trades- If during the season you feel the urge to trade one of your players, no one could blame you. However, that player would have to sit out for their new team until after the next recess is over. Since there are longer recesses than sessions, that would limit the amount of damage that player could do for the poor owner that agreed to take him/her.

3. Waivers- Players that were not selected (elected) in the draft (election) would be put out on waivers. If an active player (incumbent) were to perform poorly, a very real scenario indeed, a player from the waiver wire could be selected to fill that position. Needless to say, the "dumped" player would have no more eligibility, ever.

4. Make up of teams- Each team shall consist of 9 players made up as follows: Seven congressmen/women, two senators. No more than two congressmen/women from the same state, and the senators must be from different regions of the country. No player who has been convicted of bribes, sex offenses or DUI's will be eligible (on the ballot), ever.  In the interest of having a pool big enough to select from, those with indictments without a conviction may be ruled eligible after careful review by the league commissioner (me). If still deemed ineligible they will not be in the draft pool again, ever.

5. Points will be awarded to teams based on voting records of the team's players during the season. For example: Votes to lower taxes (touchdown) - plus 6 points. Votes to increase taxes (fumble) - minus 6 points. Listening to the will of constituents (field goal) - 3 points. Voting for legislation that 70% of the country doesn't want (sack) - minus 3 points. Just showing up for a vote at all (extra point) - 1 point. You get the idea.

6. Super bowl - There will be no super bowl. Even fantasies have their limits!

Next blog: "Survivor" - Washington, D.C.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nov 2, 2010 - What's it about?

It's simple. Capitalism or socialism.

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." - Winston Churchill

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dr. Changelove...or, how I learned to stop worrying and love retirement.

Please forgive the play on words from the title of one of my favorite movies. You can really get a runaway imagination when you're retired.

Which brings me to my blog topic for today, retirement. According to Wikipedia: "Retirement is the point where a person stops employment completely (or decides to leave the labor force if he or she is unemployed)". Of course the operative phrase here is "stops employment completely". This is where many retirees go so horribly wrong. They have trouble just being themselves and enjoying the things they could only just dream about during their employment. Instead they feel they have lost their identity or their value to society. Well, actually you have not lost your identity, you have just begun to discover it. And to my way of thinking, you couldn't be of more value to society than to be a happy, contented person.

Retirement allows you to expand your world like never before. From traveling to taking classes to volunteering to reading, you will fill up your time in a heartbeat. How often have you heard someone say " I don't know how I ever had the time to work"?

Well then, are you a good candidate for retirement?  Before you answer, let me caution you. Retirement is not for the meek. You might not be aware of the many pitfalls associated with retirement. These are just a few of the things you will have to deal with:

1. A lack of authority figures making demands on your time and energy
2. More time to spend with your grand kids
3. A choice of what time to arise in the morning
4. Not being able to be a part of rush hour traffic
5. Special rates during weekdays at most facilities

That's it. If you think you can handle it, we're looking for a few good men (and women).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Five unequivocal truths

I thought long and hard about what to say in recognition of the 9th anniversary of 9/11. So many words have already been spoken and so many commemorations have paid due respect to those involved, I could hardly add anything new. Just looking at the tapes will put you right back in that moment with all its attendant horrors. So I decided to post something very closely related to the events of that day. So here are the truths, as I see them, that affect the lives of each and every American.

1. This country, in spite of all its flaws and shortcomings, and there are many, is by far the greatest innovation of self-government ever devised by man. 

2. No one, who has even a modicum of sense, would ever want war or violence in their lives. They would want peace between all countries, religions, races and people in general. Basically, they would want all mankind to live by the Golden Rule.

3. In spite of our Utopian desires and lofty ideals, evil does exist in this world. It exists in terrorism, dictatorships, criminal violence and domestic violence.

4. There are a select group of people who, though subscribing to truth number two, are nonetheless cognizant of truth number three. These are the people you see everyday in police uniforms, firefighter garb and military dress. These people understand that freedom and security are not without cost.  Everyday, many in this select group pay that cost with their lives.

5. It is incumbent on every American to honor that select group. Not just today, but every day.

To those who died on 9/11 trying to save so many others, I think it is befitting to invoke one of the most famous quotes of Abraham Lincoln which appears on the magnificent memorial in the Cemetery of the Pacific; "The solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom".

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Facebook users are insecure, narcissistic and have low self-esteem.

That was one of the headlines in the Daily Mail, a British newspaper.

I couldn't believe my big beautiful blue eyes. Do you think I should stop using Facebook? I just can't make up my mind. I want people to like me. Do you think my Facebook friends make fun of me behind my back? What do you think they say when I post one of my gorgeous pictures? I only want to show them that I'm aging so well. And how do they know these things? Are they spying on me? I couldn't really blame them because I am pretty important. What would they do without my imparting my knowledge to them? But maybe they think I'm too smart and resent me for it. I'd sure feel bad if that was true. People have always been jealous of me I think. They don't like me because I'm so good looking. All of the other people on Facebook have more friends than I do. Do you think that's fair? Maybe if I sent money along with my friend requests I would get more friends. That might work. Oh well, it's their loss. Am I worrying too much? What do you think I should do?

Anyway, I think that newspaper should do more research before they say something like that. They're way off base on this one.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What in the name of all that is holy.........?

Why any organized church would stage an event to burn the holy book of another religious sect is way past my understanding. But the Dove World Outreach Center is planning to do just that on 9/11.

It just further underlines a problem that has plagued the world since time began. Religion is wasted on mere mortals. We have used, abused and cannibalized religion over the millenniums as an excuse to eradicate literally millions upon millions of our fellow man.

Extremists have hijacked Islam. Fundamentalists have hijacked Christianity. The Jews are the only ones who try to keep a low profile and still they face hostility just for being who they are. Israel faces daily threats of annihilation. They may have to go to war with Iran to prevent another holocaust. If I may paraphrase, "exterminate me once; shame on you, exterminate me twice; shame on me".

The very reason that people came over to this country 400 years ago was due to religious persecution. What they couldn't have known was that it was not governments, but the dark human condition that was at fault. That, unfortunately, sailed over on the same boat. It took root as fast as the settlers could build churches. Today, it is on display on an unprecedented scale. From the David Koreshes and Jim Joneses to the KKK to the misguided churches who cheer the deaths of American servicemen and women, our bastardized religion is out there for all to see.

The vast majority of religious people are peaceful, God loving and trying all they can to help their fellow man. Religion can be a comfort in time of sadness and trouble. But how does it help when the trouble and sadness is of our own doing? Like this Dove World Outreach Center. How ironic! What they are doing is the antithesis of outreach. Pray that they don't find themselves victims in a very real sense. They are, after all, mere mortals.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My world versus the real world

It's a sorry state of affairs when someone just being nice prompts a blog post, but that's exactly what this is about.

In my world, everyone is nice to each other, especially when they are a customer who has arbitrarily chosen to give their business to an establishment. In the real world, you're lucky if you are not berated by the people providing the service.

In my world, you are waited on promptly or given a courteous salutation such as "be with you in a moment, sir". In the real world, you are either ignored or ushered around without a word.

In my world, people actually thank you for your business and urge you to come back again. In the real world, you are history the moment your money has been proffered.

In my world, you usually have a good feeling about your experience and recommend it to friends. In the real world, you are often disappointed and warn your friends to avoid it.

In keeping with that, I want to tell you about a fabulous place. I had the pleasure of playing golf  on the Virginia eastern shore at a club called Bay Creek Golf Resort. From the moment I pulled up attention was lavished on me. They took my clubs out of the car, put them in the golf cart explained the lay of the land and even gave me the first name of the starter like we were going to be lifetime friends. In the golf shop they were interested in where I was from, had I been there before and told me how happy they were that I had chosen their course. The starter could have been a top maitre'de from an exclusive restaurant he was so attentive. It was like this in every aspect of the facility including the club house dining room.

And today, the piece de resistance. I received an email thanking me again for choosing them and attaching a coupon for 30%  off my next visit.

As I said, that this kind of friendly, gracious service should stand out in my mind is a testament to the lack of it elsewhere. But it does give me pause to think that somewhere there might be a bridge linking my world and the real world. As the man said, "hope springs eternal".

Friday, September 3, 2010

The War at the Shore...or... David and Goliath; redux

Try to imagine: you’re opponent weighs 80 pounds; stands 2 ½  feet high; has sharp canines and vice-like jaws; great stamina and a predatory instinct honed over millions of years. You weigh 6 ounces after a hearty meal; stand a paltry 2 ½ inches high on your tip toes; and the biggest fight you’ve ever been in was with a feisty minnow. Now you have an idea what a match between a Labrador retriever and a sand crab would look like. This is exactly what happened on our beach walk when our lab “Queenie” took on a sand crab who inexplicably forgot where its hidey hole was.

This confrontation entertained us for quite a while last evening. At first we were horrified that “Q” was going to devour this poor little guy who suddenly found her between him and the safety of his burrow. But before we could grab her collar, we realized this was not going to be a quick kill at all. This prey was going to give as good as it got.

Startled that this crustaceous Rocky was not in full flight, Q seemed puzzled. She couldn’t quite figure out what those miniature scissors were that kept snapping at her nose. And what footwork! This little guy could move sideways with blinding speed. You know, kind of a “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” thing. No slouch herself in tactical maneuvering, Q would feint left and then quickly come in from the right. But the crab would counter by jabbing with the small pincer then crossing with the big gun. Q would then bark, sensing that this would somehow intimidate the crab and shorten the bout. But this just managed to stiffen its resolve. It would stand up on its legs, claws open and leer at Q as if to say “is that all you’ve got”?

Well, this went on for a while and although Q was ahead on points, the crab managed to find some soft sand and dig its way underground. The judges had no choice but to call it a draw.

We’re going back over to the beach with Queenie tonight. This time we’re taking some wine and snacks, just in case the next one goes the full 15 rounds.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Requiem for a relationship

Well, gals I suppose you all know what a special day tomorrow is. What? You have no idea? The most celebrated day in the life of your significant other and you have no idea! Fear not, your old pal Al will fill you in. Tomorrow is the first day of college football.

All over the country games will be played to mercifully breathe life back into that mass of protoplasm that went into a catatonic state when the last of the bowl games was played last January. He will now display a knack for regeneration that would make a salamander jealous. He's excited and optimistic. After all, his favorite team is undefeated so far. Life is good. God is in his heaven.

Saturday afternoons will  require his full attention as he berates and second guesses coaches who, if they had only done it the way he said, would have been victorious. This is no small responsibility. His bragging rights with his friends are at stake. His whole identity as a person could be shattered.

I know it's hard to be out of touch for a whole day, but take heart. It's just one day out of the weekend. There's always Sunday. Oops. Forgot. NFL and Fantasy leagues.

Try email, he usually checks it during halftime.