Monday, July 04, 2005

The Cook and Inquisitor Has Left The Building!

NOTE: If you've already visited the new site, you may need to refresh your browser on arrival to view the new furnishings.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The New Doublewide...

The new site is now in place but headaches still abound.

So until I get enough schooling to make it look and feel right, will continue to make home here, at blogspot.

New site: www.sincityq.com

We have company coming in for an extended visit so won't be doing a lot of writing again until maybe Monday... probably Tuesday.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bang, Bang... You're Alive Again!

We here on the free side of the Little Muddy often light a firecracker just to hear the noise. But sometimes we do it for a holiday event and the 4th of July is one of those you can sit on your back porch and watch your neighbors put on a show.

And sometimes, we even have fun too...

Now, I ain’t gonna go into laws and why popping fireworks is a criminal offense in that imprisoned state to the East... or why folks here do it as regular as they buy a 12-pack of Chek soda. But because we can, we often do and that raises the question of… sleep deprivation.

During the 24 hours that both preceded and followed the year 2000 New Year celebration, the air was thick with the smell of burnt gunpowder. So thick in fact that my Mom lost a dog that eventually turned up in Chambers County with a cold beer in one paw and a Bic lighter in the other. No, don't ask.

It was one wild night but my recollection of it is not nearly as smokey. Because we had just moved from a regular life and into a small trailer, I was a bit tired. We had hauled everything we owned at the time in the back of an old GMC Safari van. We used the youngest to sit on the inside end of the sofa so when we negotiated the obligatory humps of Auburn Road, we didn’t deposit the same in front of someone’s driveway. She followed safety procedures and tied herself to the variously dispersed seatbelt mountings using bungee cords. Outside, it was somewhere in the area of 30 degrees and with the back doors open and the sofa hanging out about 4 feet, there was no shortage of fresh air. By the way, her memory is just as fresh as the air that night and she says it was closer to 20...

Anyway, after we finally got the day’s moving done and decided to settle in for some beer and the regular falling of the New York Balls at Madison Square Garden, we noticed that we had company... of a sort. You see, after both of us had moved away from failed marriages and spouses that probably deserved far less than our previous homesteads, we had no real idea of how to start our lives over again. Between us, we had been married for nearly 30 years... just not to each other. We both came from places where we owned our own land and our neighbors weren't close enough to know the difference between a person using the john and a car without a good muffler. This was different.

It started with a few pops... then a loud bang and then... all hell erupted. I thought for sure that our new home was in labor and about to give birth to a Black Cat. One detonation that was particularly close caused my bottle of room temperature Champaign to explode prematurely. We ran outside and sat in amazement as this otherwise quiet, blue-collar setting was transformed into a firey display that would have made the most avid arsonist weep with envy!

We spent that evening unable to sleep so... we did what most any other healthy couple would have done and made the most of it.

The next morning, the ground was covered in litter from the show but not to worry. The people who produced the entertainment had also produced younguns, and they were out picking up the fallen remains. By lunch, it was completely cleaned up.

So far as I am aware, no one was injured... not even a broken eardrum. And as for us? We slept all New Year’s Day... with a smile on our face.

Epilogue: We have long since moved from that little park and have a piece of dirt, and a home, of our own again. But that first night on New Year's Eve 1999/2000 is always good for a grin and a few shared memories.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Journalistic PC... or Pc

Has anyone else noticed how the media is moving more and more to a sort of print-minimalism? I’m not sure why this trend has taken hold but it basically takes acronyms like NASA and AFLAC and reduces them to Nasa and Aflac. I think there is some kind of journalistic Pc (political correctness) going on that is essentially taking these acronyms and turning them into words. Well, words they are not, sorry. NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration and AFLAC means American Family Life Assurance Company.

The more disturbing possibilities looming on the horizon include making USA into Usa or just US into just Us. How about the CIA and FBI into the Cia and Fbi?

I have to wonder if there isn’t some adolescent 13 year-old making the rules in the media these days anyway, so this just reinforces the feeling that they’ve lost a portion of their playing deck.

Here are some more potential victims: VW into Vw. GMC into Gmc, which makes your truck a little less impressive, no? ASAP becomes Asap and not nearly as soon as before. COD slides easily into Cod… having a fish delivered, postage due? And speaking of delivery, what about UPS slimming down to Ups? (Sounds too much like ‘oops’ to me!)

Oh, and then there are POTUS and SCOTUS. We all know what they mean, right? They evolve into Potus and Scotus… almost like a mess of obscene body parts that can be boiled down into a toxic potion and then plied upon some unsuspecting Disney character…

Witch (whispering in a witchy voice): "I will take a pinch Potus and 1/3 cup of Scotus to poison the apple before I give it to that goody two-shoes, Snow White, and those seven horrid little perverts!"

Talk about slippery slopes!

Ummm... Your attention please...

Sometimes, things you thought you had so perfectly planned turn out to be less than perfect and then you have to admit that your perfection was imperfect. But not me! No siree! The plan was perfect… and is… almost… to a point.

It ain’t funny!

Anyway, the move to the new domain is in a holding pattern for about 48/72 hours so until then, I’m gonna use this perfectly good blogspace by adding posts to keep my fingers from becoming bored and getting into mischief.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Comrade, Your Slip is Showing (or is that, Show is Slipping?)

About a week or so back, I commented that I thought Robbie Watson’s morning radio show at WRCG was a fair and balanced affair and that she did a good job.

But after today, I’m not so sure.

Today’s show has been mostly about Bush’s speech last night, which is fine. It was a very good speech. She obviously likes him, which is okay too. But when one caller came on to question the connection between 9.11 and Iraq, she commenced to calling him “comrade”, which was undoubtedly a lefthanded insult. She became argumentative, interrupting him time and again with “comrade” this and “comrade” that.

For those who don’t get it, “comrade” is a term often connected to Soviet, communist Russia. It was the most common way one communist party member addressed another.

Talkline is Robbie’s show. She can speak her opinions and conduct herself as she sees fit. That’s her right as an American, and as the host of her show. And up to the point when she got barrel-mouthed with her caller, I had found it all quite enjoyable. But I can get a gut full of just plain rudeness by going to the local Wal Mart or driving in everyday traffic. I was hoping for something better from her.

Up in Smoke

I’m not going to cry about it... but I will donate a few minutes and a few comments to it because I think it deserves as much.

Beginning July 1st, Georgia’s new anti-smoking laws take effect, effectively bringing that state down on the side of the anti-smoking industry. Most restaurants that used to have smoking sections will be forced to give them up but, pubs and bistros that do not serve or employ anyone under 18 will be able to allow their patrons this liberty.

An entire list of what will and will not be tolerated can be found within the Ledger-Enquirer story here.

Everyone I know is fully aware of the dangers of smoking. Everyone I know personally who smokes already tries to respect the airspace of those around them. Everyone who smokes already pays two arms, a leg and an internal organ to the government for a pack of cigarettes. I think the groveling should be allowed to stop there but the state of Georgia, as well as others, think differently. I also feel that while smoking is a bad idea, government has no business in governing how a business, like a restaurant, approaches the issue of patrons who smoke.

The same goes for use of seatbelts but, that’s another story for another time.

In the South, smokers nearly equal in numbers those who don’t smoke. This figure will be disputed by the anti-smoking industry... but I believe it to be true. I also believe that smokers have allowed themselves to become society’s leper colony because they feel as though they are somehow guilty of being lesser citizens and because of this, they continue to let themselves be kicked around.

Perhaps once the anti-smoking industry has tired of working over their neighbors and local businesses, they will turn to issues like air and water pollution. You know, designate an area where cities like Atlanta can trash the environment at their leisure without fear. Maybe they will make dirty industries clean up their act or face having to buy supplies with huge tariffs attached. They may even begin doing commercials of large rats dying on a public sidewalk to remind all of us how industrial pollution is dangerous to all of us.
Or, maybe not.

There are both smokers and non-smokers in my household. We have made arrangements to accommodate each other without the intervention of government. The smokers know the risks and accept them. All those who smoke in my family will probably, eventually give them up but will do it on their own terms. They just feel that it should be their decision.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

You Can't Beat City Haul

Monday’s Ledger-Enquirer had a news item regarding garbage pick-up (or the lack thereof) in rural Lee County and specifically, the incorporated areas of Smiths Station. For anyone who’s lived in this area, the issue of garbage collection is nothing new. Basically, land/home owners pay an annual fee for collection and this gives them the right to load their cars and trucks with trash, transport it any number of miles to a collection point and then unload it into compactors.

For those that may think this is something of a rip-off and wish to protest this practice by withholding that portion of the land taxes each year, Lee County has pre-printed documents that require you to understand that you have no rights, no voice on this issue. What it says is that if you refuse to pay this fee, your case will be turned over to someone who will take you to court and then seize your property in lieu of payment.

But the L-E article didn’t mention any of this. What this piece was reporting was that questionnaire, or survey, had been sent to residents of Smiths Station merely asking if they would prefer to keep things as they are or have door to door pick up. According to this same report, it was a straightforward question with no mention of a cost involved for changing to curbside service. Sounds simple enough, right?

Here’s a portion of the article as it appears on the Ledger-Enquirer site, including the title of the article, details of the distribution of the survey and the response.

City eyes services change

Residents want curbside garbage pick-up

The commission sent out more than 15,000 postcards as part of a survey to gauge county residents' interest in changing the system. About 7,000 residents (45 percent) responded, with 72 percent of those responding saying they wanted to keep the current system.

Now, the lead in to the story which does appear just below the title clearly says:
"Residents want curbside garbage pick-up"

But the published results of the survey show otherwise…
"About 7,000 residents (45 percent) responded, with 72 percent of those responding saying they wanted to keep the current system."

What’s that contradiction all about? Huh?

Here’s another quote from the same article:

The large margin against the proposal made the commission's decision to maintain the status quo a no-brainer. A citizen vote for curbside pickup, however, would not have the change happen.

"The commission has to look at it from two ways," English said. "Yeah we've got to look at it to serve the people, but we also have to do it within the financial framework we have to work with."

Yeah… serve the people. What a concept!
And the no-brainer was a no-brainer before the ink on that survey had a chance to dry, I'm sure.

Now, while you are digesting this, consider that over the last 20 years, the garbage collection system has remained relatively unchanged. Aside from an extra compactor here or another scheduled pick-up of the containers that hold the refuse there, it is pretty much as it was in 1985 when I first moved here. But also consider that over that same 20 years, the population of this corner of Lee County has exploded and with that explosion comes revenue and with that revenue comes… what? More garbage on the side of the road as it continues to fall from loaded cars and trucks? More Lee County Sheriff’s deputies writing more tickets for seatbelt laws while cars often have to dodge limbs and sacks of household refuse left on the local streets? County mowers that shred the roadside blight into millions of smaller pieces to be blown by the wind over an even wider area?

The ‘City Haul’ concept of garbage collection is undoubtedly cheaper than curbside pickup and even with the added garbage of so many more residents, the county is either realizing a revenue bonanza or… that money is going somewhere else. Some things are for sure though; cute little surveys will not solve the problem, and comments like Judge English’s passing dismissals are more worthy of one of those garbage collection points, than of a public servant when addressing the needs of the people.

Monday, June 27, 2005

These are your rights... in a frying pan

A Supreme Court, in the addled death throes of a body that has no direction, has made life more difficult for those who it used to serve... those who used to be free.

Ten Commandments – Yes and No. What a crock. The elder judicial body of our nation was unable to escape Political Correctness.

P2P Software – Yes ? The writers of software ARE responsible for what someone else does with it. Be careful whom you trust with your computer or car or frying pan… under this logic, you could be held responsible for their actions.

Cable Networks – Forget about any competition in this arena. Expect your rates to increase and service to decline… especially on the West Bank.

Finally… the Big Government and Corporate guys can now steal your property legally. Don’t try and pin this on one political party because most of those voting in favor of the big money here were Reagan appointees. Just goes to show why Supreme Court Justices need limits to their terms. Money is the buyer, not values.

Knock-Knock. Who Are You?

Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on the web has noticed that newspapers all over have begun locking their website doors to the free-surfing citizen. Publications like The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sacramento Bee, Minneapolis Star-Tribune as well as a host of others have begun requiring visitors to submit varying amounts of personal information (called 'Registration') and in return, they allow you to access their site via a sign-in name ('Subscription').

NOTE: The Journal-Constitution will often let you browse a bit before whisking you away to their registration page…

One of the reasons these media outlets have resorted to this tactic is because, well, they are a business and they need advertisers to make their websites work. A newspaper can use a lot of bandwidth and if they serve a large market, that usage can get expensive. They need to have a way to make the effort pay for itself.

Now, in this information age in which we live, advertisers want to know who it is that visits these sites so they know how to target them with advertising designed to generate sales. So the advertisers tell the paper to either get as much information as you can from your web audience or we won’t pay you very much for the space to run our ads. The newspapers in turn, place registration gateways on their sites and make you submit stuff like your zip code, date of birth, an e-mail addy that can be spammed, your blood type and sexual preferences in return for the cyber subscription.

The whole thing is really intrusive, especially when you consider that the on-line version of a newspaper is most often still far less detailed than what you get in paper and ink. And what they often ask of the visitor in the way of personal details can sometimes be very personal. Who you are - is very valuable information and you shouldn’t be too willing to just sell the farm upon request.

But there is a way to beat this…

A website called ‘Bug Me Not’ (www.bugmenot.com) is a database of registrations for most every subscription based newspaper and by simply entering the name of the website you wish to access, they will give you both a log-in name and password for it. If by chance you do come across one they don’t yet have a file for, they will ask you to create an account there and then, share the sign-in information so others can use it. It’s a sort of community involvement thing for the electronic age.

The reason I am approaching this subject is because it would appear that our local newspaper, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, has begun clearing some of their publicly accessible files and this could be a first step in creating such a gateway for us locals. On the other hand, they may just be clearing some disk space and opening some bandwidth… but if they ever do begin requiring subscriptions for their website, we will be sure to remind everyone of the Bug Me Not alternative.