Friday, December 02, 2011


I am KILLING IT on my 5K training program!

25 days down, 143 to go!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2011: A Partial Reading List

I have enough books on hand to last the rest of the year, so here are at least some of the books that I moved through this year.
  • See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody by Bob Mould
  • 1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel by David Mitchell
  • London's Sinful Secret: The Bawdy History and Very Public Passions of London's Georgian Age by Dan Cruickshank
  • The Three Roads by Ross MacDonald
  • The Ferguson Affair by Ross MacDonald
  • Blue City by Ross MacDonald
  • The Killer by Tom Wood
  • Dark Borders: Film Noir and American Citizenship by Jonathan Auerbach
  • The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer
  • The Limehouse Text by Will Thomas
  • The Black Hand by Will Thomas
  • The Hellfire Conspiracy by Will Thomas
  • The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps, Otto Penzler, ed.
  • A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene
  • Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
  • A Red Death by Walter Mosley
  • White Butterfly by Walter Mosley
  • Known to Evil by Walter Mosley
  • Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe by Kate Buford
  • Say It With Bullets by Richard Powell
  • Bloody Crimes: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Chase for Jefferson Davis by James Swanson
  • Home is the Sailor by Day Keene
  • Night Walker by Donald Hamilton
  • Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester
  • One Lonely Night by Mickey Spillane
  • The Big Kill by Mickey Spillane
  • Kiss Me, Deadly by Mickey Spillane
  • I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane
  • My Gun is Quick by Mickey Spillane
  • Vengeance is Mine by Mickey Spillane

I've been busy...

...busy enough to shut this thing down? Maybe. We'll see.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What he said.

A Pict Song

Rome never looks where she treads,
Always her heavy hooves fall
On our stomachs, our hearts or our heads;
And Rome never heeds when we bawl.
Her sentries pass on – that is all,
And we gather behind them in hordes,
And plot to reconquer the Wall,
With only our tongues for our swords.

We are the Little Folk – we!
Too little to love or to hate.
Leave us alone and you'll see
How we can drag down the Great!
We are the worm in the wood!
We are the rot in the root!
We are the germ in the blood!
We are the thorn in the foot!

Mistletoe killing an oak –
Rats gnawing cables in two –
Moths making holes in a cloak –
How they must love what they do!
Yes – and we Little Folk too,
We are as busy as they –
Working our works out of view –
Watch, and you'll see it some day!

No indeed! We are not strong,
But we know Peoples that are.
Yes, and we'll guide them along,
To smash and destroy you in War!
We shall be slaves just the same?
Yes, we have always been slaves,
But you – you will die of the shame,
And then we shall dance on your graves!

We are the Little Folk – we!
Too little to love or to hate.
Leave us alone and you'll see
How we can drag down the Great!
We are the worm in the wood!
We are the rot in the root!
We are the germ in the blood!
We are the thorn in the foot!

– Rudyard Kipling

I've just about had enough.

Between what now passes for "political discourse" and the general, "IF YOU TRY TO REASON WITH ME I'M JUST GOING TO YELL EVEN LOUDER!!!" attitude of the general public on any and every issue, political or otherwise, I'm ashamed of and disappointed in all of us.

No longer is this the country my grandfather fought for or the country my grandmother emigrated to.

Normally I'd want to do my part to fix this, but I think we've already gone past the tipping point.

Right now, however, I just want to pack my bags and leave.

So, before I depart, here's a short list of what drove me out:
  • Phony Christians
  • Not-so-thinly-veiled racism
  • Anti-intellectualism
  • Economic discrimination
  • Willful ignorance of history
  • People who don't know the difference between "socialism" and "fascism" calling other people "socialists" and "fascists"
  • Anyone whose background isn't Lakota, Seminole, Abenaki, etc. daring to speak about "illegal immigrants"
  • Hate

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I'm a day late with this...

...okay, maybe more like five minutes late, but here it is anyway.

"The only part of conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part, which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."
-On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

Just as importantly, no social body has a right to coerce or restrict the individual unless the individual causes harm to others- the individual's own physical or moral harm is not justification for constriction of their liberty.*

In other words, while a person's behavior or beliefs might be objectionable to you, you do not have the right to infringe upon them. You have the right to be morally outraged, you have the right voice your outrage, but you do not have the right to "coerce or restrict."

*This is known as the "Harm Principle"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is it too much to ask...

...for Woody Allen to stop making movies?


Alright, maybe we can compromise- can we at least ban people from having fawning conversations about his movies in public?

And while we're at it, no more Bob Dylan albums, okay?


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coming Full Circle

I think I'm becoming interested in the Civil War again- it only took 30+ years for that to happen.

Spin it ANY way you like, but...

...nobody smokes "occasionally."

You either do, or you don't.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One more reason why I have the best dad in the world.

My Dad, who has been living with Parkinson's Disease (and the problems that go with it) for well over a decade, has been in a rehabilitation center (and before that, the hospital) for over a month.

Today our family went to see him so that he could be part of a belated Mother's Day celebration for my Mom and my sister in-law and my brother's birthday (which is this this Tuesday) celebration.

My only goal for the visit was to make my Dad happy- as usual, he was one step ahead of me.

The minute he saw me he held eye-contact with me, put one of his hands over the same area on his body where I just had surgery and gave me a "thumbs up" gesture with his other hand-

He wanted to make sure that I was okay.

With a Dad like that, how could I not be?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm long overdue for a rant...

I was reading a news article today about a speech President Obama gave in Texas about immigration and it got me to thinking about something that's been on my mind for a long time.

Let me begin by saying I'm no expert and I'm sure that there are things I'm overlooking, but at the same time, I'm no dope. I'm pretty pragmatic, I know my history (how rare is that becoming!?), I have a finely-tuned B.S. detector, and I'm fairly good and finding solutions to tricky problems- not ones that fix everything, but ones that fix most of the big things.

First of all, I think the whole idea that illegal immigration is a serious problem is, to my mind, a "straw man" used by people who have other agendas and that some- maybe most- of those agendas are pretty nasty.

Second, and speaking of straw men, the idea that illegal immigrants are not taking anybody's jobs is a crock. If there were current U.S. citizens who were willing to do these same jobs they wouldn't be available for illegal immigrants to take them- would they? I know, I know, people don't take these jobs because they don't pay enough, but that's still a choice not to take the job- the job still exits. If you don't want to pick vegetables in the Salinas Valley because the work is too hard and the pay is too low, that's fine, don't. But you can't then complain that people from Mexico or Central America or the Philippines or wherever, "take our jobs"- especially while you're chowing down on your organic micro-green salad.

Third, and here's another phony argument, "the country is too crowded!!" Really? Take a look at the map at the top of this post. Granted, the "empty space" might not be "prime real estate," but there's plenty of it and our history is all about the pioneer spirit, exploring, adapting, making something out of nothing- right?

Fourth, "but what will they eat!?" "We don't have the resources!!" 40% of the food produced in the U.S. is thrown away- 40%!! Thrown away!! Seriously, you can look it up!!

Fifth, and I'm starting to feel like I've collected enough straw to fill a barn, there is the complaint that illegal immigrants "live off the state/rest of us" because they don't pay taxes. Except that they do! In the states that have them, they pay sales tax, property tax, excise tax, etc., and they would pay state/federal income taxes too if they weren't afraid of being deported for being here illegally! Think about this: I grew up in New Hampshire which has no sales or income tax, if I had stayed there for the rest of my life and rented an abode rather than buying one the entire time there is a good chance that I would pay less in state and federal taxes than an illegal immigrant in most states.

Sixth, there was no federal law regulating immigration into what is now the United States until 1875 (Chy Lung v. Freeman is the relevant case- if you're interested). This brings up two points. 1) That free immigration to the "U.S."- it couldn't be "illegal" if there was no law!- worked just fine from c.1600-1875. The only "bad immigration" that took place during this period was slavery and some forms of indentured servitude- and those types are wrong whether they were legal or not. 2) Almost every U.S. immigration law, regardless of how it has been "presented" to the public since 1875 has had as its basis- first explicitly, now implicitly- racism, regionalism, religious bias, or some other despicable notion. Is this, by any measurement, progress? Is it even moral?

Finally, and most importantly to me, I truly believe that the single thing that makes this country so wonderful is that we receive a constant infusion of people who want to be here. People who will leave everyone and everything they know behind to be here. People who will risk their lives to get here. All of these people provide- welcome or not- a kick in the ass to so-called "natives" who have become complacent. Some of these people will live real-life Horatio Alger stories, some will be deadbeats and a drain on society, but the vast, VAST majority will simply be sold citizens who make a positive contribution to American society. Those are pretty good odds and the net result is a more vibrant and productive society. Mull this over the next time you're stuffing a taco, bahn mi, or slice of pizza into your face.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

That's a pretty good description of my ancestors- probably yours too. Maybe we should remember that and try a little harder to live up to those words.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Why am I not shocked?

Since I've been out of work due to my surgery only one person has contacted me- and that was my boss wanting to know when I'd be back at work.

As for the other people I work with...really? Not a call? Text? Email? Facebook message?

Okay then.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Not dead, just resting.

A lot going on- not much of it good.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


It seems kind of fitting that I'm a couple of days late with a post welcoming somebody who was, herself, two days late in arriving...

So, welcome aboard niece 2.0, also known as Sophie Elizabeth!!

No, I didn't forget, I'm just lazy!

Okay, fine, I should have done this a month are the results of my Christmas prognostications- a mixed bag at best.

Four books by Ross MacDonald, all will be available at Amazon starting on Dec. 7: “Blue City,” “Meet Me at the Morgue,” “The Three Roads,” and “The Ferguson Affair.”

100%: I won't get them all, but I'll get at least one.

Actually, I did get them all. 1-o.

Peerless 76950 2-in-1 Shower System (Chrome)

20%: There's always a chance, but it's a little pricey, non-essential, and frankly, who wants to be the person who buys somebody a shower head for Christmas?

I got it...but didn't think I would. 1-1

Magic Chef .9 Cubic Foot Microwave Oven in Red (MCD990R)

50%: I'm hedging on this one. Mom's been good about stuff like this in the last few years (the George Foreman grill from last year being a good example.) so it's "possible," but perhaps not "probable."

I hedged this one and didn't get it. I think that's a "loss." 1-2

Indoor/Outdoor Digital Thermometer

100%: Of all the things on the list this year, this is the lock. Not expensive, practical, and easy to "farm out" to a relative or friend who has no idea what to get me.

Yup. 2-2.

“Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood” for PS3

50%: This one is tough I've been right and wrong about PS3 games in the past. What I do know is that if I do get it my brother will be the one who buys it for me.

Waffled towards the "negative" on this one and didn't get it. 3-2.

PlayStation “Move” Starter Bundle

65%: Two weeks ago I would have said maybe 30%, but my Mom asked me some questions about it at Thanksgiving, so I'm inclined to think she might make it happen.

I'm not going to say that my mom "played me" on this one, but she might have! 3-3.

Gift Certificates to any of the following: EMS, REI, Old Navy, Borders, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IKEA, Marshall's/TJMaxx, iTunes, or Target.

100%: I'll get at least one from Amazon and I WILL NOT get one from IKEA- Mom had a bad experience with them last year.

Winner! 4-3.

“The African Queen” BluRay Disc.

70%: I feel pretty good about this one- it's the only movie on my list and I always seem to get a movie from somebody.

Loo-zer. 4-4.

Post-It notes in assorted colors/sizes.

100%: Lock.

I got almost too many of them, not sure they will all get used before next Christmas. 5-4.

Room credits for the cruise.

75%: I not only think I'll get these, I'm going to say that I'll get them from at least two people.

Yup! 6-4

Roadpro 12V, 2 Outlet Platinum Series Fused Cigarette Lighter Adapter.

100%: Cheap and practical, another gift that is easily farmed out.

I'm on a roll...7-4!

“Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul” (CD)

100%: My spies tell me it was already purchased.

Not a hard prediction given what I knew. 8-4.

Pure Komachi 2 Series 8” Bread Knife (Orange)

50%: I split the difference because I'm sure I'll get a bread knife but I'm not confident that I'll get this one- even though it's under $10!

Go mom! 9-4.

Salomon XT S-Lab 3 Sneakers (size 10)

0%: Not a chance in hell- too expensive- but you've got to take a chance, right?

Is it fair to count this as a "win" when I was so sure? Oh well. 10-4.

Iomega eGo 1TB USB 2.0 FireWire 800 Desktop External Hard Drive, Mac Edition - 34794

15%: This is another one that I probably won't get, but if I do, my brother will be responsible.

Nope. 11-4

11-4 is pretty good (or even 10-5 if I don't get the benefit of the doubt on the video game), but I could have done even better if I hadn't forgotten one important thing: just prior to writing my list my parents surprised me with a ticket for a Caribbean cruise! If I'd taken that into account with my predictions I would have given myself MUCH lower odds on all of the more expensive items- which, as you can see, I did not get.

Still, that's a nice problem to have!