Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A quick check-in

Hello all. Yes, I am still ticking, although my life over the last few weeks has had me considering, seriously, removing myself from the mortal coil. That has passed, as I now (as of yesterday) can count myself among the ranks of the full time employed! YAY!

Anyway, I still have one major hurdle ahead of me, so I'm by no means out of the woods yet. I can, however, see the clearing ahead. Hopefully the new year will allow me to get on a regular writing schedule so that maybe, just maybe, I can turn this into something more than an intellectual exercise.

I would like to thank my 3 readers for sticking with me. It will be more worth it in the near future. I have some big plans for this. Will it ever materialize like I want? Probably not, but the maybe is getting stronger! My writing time has been divided lately and this has suffered. I've regained focus on my book and a new story began to take shape Sunday. I'm still not sure where that one will take me, but I am excited about the premise. If any of you are fans of White Wolf's games, you may enjoy that one once (if) it gets finished.

Well, this seems rather short...How about a story? Here's another from my collection of flash fiction. There is a bit of a moral to this one, and it's pretty in your face, but I still enjoy the premise. I hope you do too!

"It's still amazing," DeShawn says without looking up from his gloves.

"What's that killer?" Rod, DeShawn's manager, asks from his usual position, leaning against the dressing room door.

"It's amazing that, without fail, this is always the calmest moment. Not after the match, not on the ride home, right now." DeShawn sighs. "I'm actually going to miss this. Right here, right now."

At 41, DeShawn knew that, essentially his career was over. Sure, the big name heavyweights could still fight into their 50's, but he was no big name star. Although the last 20 years were great, he just couldn't get over that hump. Never quite made it.

Everything started out so well too. Golden Gloves championship in his class on his 21st birthday. Under card matches for some of the biggest events of the time. But all that is ancient history. Now, it's merely survival fights in dingy arenas where more often than not the purse isn't enough to cover the travel expenses. DeShawn would have hung up the gloves months ago, except for the phone call.

Six months ago, DeShawn got a call from an old sparring partner who turned into one of the larger promoters in the Deep South. He was putting on a huge card over Thanksgiving weekend, and wanted DeShawn to fight in one of the under card matches. A few years earlier, and it would have been a no-brainer. Now, staring retirement squarely in the face, DeShawn wasn't sure if he had what it took to put on a good match, even if it was for an under card. The persuasiveness of his old buddy and the guaranteed purse eventually won him over.

Now, just a few short minutes from his last ever professional bout, the doubts that DeShawn had all those months ago came flooding back.

"Rod," DeShawn asks with a tear in his eye, "What am I doing here?"

"One last, big payoff killer!" Rod responds in his usual gruff exuberance. "A chance to go out in front of a big crowd instead of in front of a few dozen drunken gamblers!"

"Yea, I suppose," DeShawn replies weakly. "Is it worth it though?"

"Of course you punk!" Rod jests. "Now get out there and beat that mook senseless!"

With a chuckle, DeShawn headed out of the locker room for his last, long walk to the ring. Upon entering the arena, he was overcome by the spectacle. Nobody would confuse the Bartow Arena with Caesar's Palace, but it was a damn sight better than the back of Ernie's Pool Hall in Tulsa, the site of his last bout. Even a half full house was still good for several thousand boxing fans.

Climbing between the ropes, DeShawn is confronted by his opponent for the night, a lean, hungry up and comer 15 years his junior. The last thought DeShawn had before facing off for the last fight of his career was, 'Lord, please let me not get embarrassed out there!'

At first, it seemed to DeShawn that the youngster would make quick work of him. His opponent came at him from the bell with a flurry of punches that DeShawn barely was able to fend off. As the round went on however, DeShawn began to see a few flaws in the youngster's game that could be exploited. Unfortunately, his opponent's age allowed for a torrid pace that DeShawn was unused to.

As the first three minutes came to a close, DeShawn was only able to land a few weak punches. What he lacked in offense however, was made up for in the amount of knowledge he gained about his opponent. With the ringing of the bell for the second round, DeShawn's confidence began to grow. Not only did he think that he was going to have a decent fight, he might actually win!

After three more minutes and a few more weak, tentative attacks, DeShawn began to see his opponent weakening. Apparently this was the youngster's first fight in front of such a large crowd. He had thrown everything he had in the first two rounds. Now it was time to show the rookie what a veteran can do!

Dashing from his corner at the start of the third round, DeShawn began throwing powerful punches with bad intentions. After exhausting himself in the first two rounds, the youngster's defense wasn't as quick and sharp as it should have been. Glancing blows turned quickly into solid, damaging shots. One shot ended in a sickening crunch as DeShawn crushed his opponent's nose. Only feeling slightly guilty, DeShawn continued the onslaught until a solid shot to the youngster's midsection crumpled him like a used beer cup.

Collapsing into a neutral corner, DeShawn watches as the referee slowly counts, quickly becoming aware of his own fatigue. Only after he hears the three chimes from the bell does he realize that he has won. Dropping to his knees, fists thrust triumphantly above his head, DeShawn basks in the polite applause from the crowd.

Striding back to the locker room, head held high, DeShawn finally knew what it was all about. It wasn't about the fame, glory, or money. It was taking pride in a job well done.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brain Nuggets

Time for a few more things that are too short for a post on their own, but too long for a Facebook status!

At what age, if any, is it too old to have crushes? Seriously, is there a point that it turns from 'Awww...that's so cute!' to 'EEEEEEWWWWW....creepy!'? Does it make it worse that the person knows it's a crush? Pre-teens and teens by and large don't know the difference, that's what makes it sooooo cute. I get that a 60 year old man crushing on a 21 year old is creepy in the extreme, but what about the gray areas? These are the things that come to my mind as I'm coming off of a caffeine fueled Epiphany...

Ladies...What is the big deal with the 'bad boys'? I'm not talking about the barflies that act all big and bad, I mean the true bad guys. The guys with a rap sheet that goes from Green Bay to Milwaukee. Maybe it's a difference in the sexes, but in reverse, I wouldn't find a gal with multiple felonies and who was just released from prison attractive, no matter what they looked like on the outside. I just don't get it. The incident in the Milwaukee freeway recently brought this one to mind. When given the choice, the gal stayed with the felon. Am I missing something?

As much as it pains me to say it, I have officially gone over the line from huge fan to fanboy. It's not something that I want to admit. I have spent my entire adult life trying desperately to avoid becoming the 'OMGOMGOMGOMG' kind of fan of anything. Yes, I have deep respect and admiration for many different people from all walks of life (writers, musicians, sports players, etc), but it has always been in a respectful way. I came to the realization last night that there is now one person that, if I ever got the chance to meet, would turn me into a blubbering pile of fanboy goo...The conscious part of my brain was a little surprised by the subject of said fanboydom, but the subconscious apparently always knew. Oh well...time to go over to the dark side.

edit: After a bit of a reflection, it has come to my attention that if you look at my electronic presence, you might get a hint at the person who is discussed above...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Googling away knowledge?

Over the past few months, there have been times where I thought it would be fun to have a bit of a trivia contest either here or on my Facebook page. After about 10 seconds thought, I realized how silly that sounded. With the ease of finding information online, any contest is only as good as the fastest Googler.

That got me thinking. Are we losing the desire for knowledge? With the ease of web searches at any time thanks to PDA's, cell phones, and netbooks, what motivation does the average person have to actually learn things? Am I the only one left that enjoys reading information and learning it so I don't have to Google everything?

I heard a story on my way home from work the other night that said teachers, despite the negative affects that it has, have had to introduce more electronic media into the classroom so their students pay attention at least part of the time. Now, I'm not a technofear person, but perhaps the reason that we seem to be getting less and less out of our students lately is the fact that they don't feel the need to learn anymore. If the 'typing' I see online is any indication, that attitude is getting more and more widespread.

Yes, we need to embrace the future. So much good has come from technology over the past 25 years, but if we don't remember what got us here, how can we continue to move forward?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

As some of you may or may not know, I have turned writing into a bit of a hobby. Not only here (which is mostly my random thoughts and feelings at the time), but also in the forms of novels, short stories, and poetry. Most of this has been unpublished for various reasons (in the case of the novels, they are all in rough drafts that are in various states of incompletion). Until now.

The reason for this is kind of a bit long winded, but if you will bear with me for a minute, it will become clear.

I am a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy fan. Growing up with Red Dwarf, Star Trek (Both TNG and watching TOS reruns with my mom), and being introduced to David Eddings and Robert Jordan. As such, one of the places I drop into fairly frequently is WWdN: In Exile, the personal writings of one Wil Wheaton. Mr. acting Ensign Crusher himself. It was because of his recurring role that I really got into The Big Bang Theory.

Anyway, some time after his first appearance on that show, I came up with a bit of an odd story idea. I had been playing with the flash fiction genre (generally 1,000 words or less) at the time. One night at work, I made two critical mistakes. First, I let my muse and my mind wander off together unsupervised. Secondly, when they returned REALLY happy about what they created, I was foolish enough to listen. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the insanity that my mind lives in and the creativity of my muse startles even me with it's brilliance sometimes. That doesn't mean that I should have even considered hearing their love child. I was tired. I wasn't thinking. I let them tell me about what I created...

I will have to admit, it was pretty good in a funny, demented, fan fiction kind of way. So when I returned home that night, the three of us sat at the computer and put 0's to 1's and saved it for posterity (or at least until a hard drive crash). That's where it's sat for well over a year. Now we return to the afore mentioned Mr. Wheaton. For some reason, I commented on a post of his where I vaguely mentioned the story I wrote about him. About a week later, he posted an unrefined story of his own. After the story, he made a comment to other writers to not be afraid to publish to the world. I think in some way that was, at least partially, directed at me.

So, in that spirit, and without further ramblings by yours truly, here is the first of my short stories that I am willing to bring to the light of day. Most of these haven't seen any revision since I originally wrote them, nor have they undergone any more advanced editing than a spell check, so don't expect perfection.

Trying desperately to avoid being lulled to sleep by the rhythmic swish swish of the wiper blades, Pamela began to wonder, again, whether this trip shouldn't have been put off until tomorrow. No matter how many times her mom told her that it was just a routine procedure, Pamela had this funny feeling that there was nothing routine about it. So, after only a few minutes thought, she grabbed what she needed and headed off into the rainy, Ohio night.

Approaching Akron with no sign that the rain will let up anytime soon, Pamela decides to pull into the truck stop ahead. "Maybe", she thinks, "I'll get lucky and the diner will still be open and I can get a cup of coffee." Pulling into the well worn parking lot, it appears that Pamela's luck is with her. Although empty, it does indeed look like the diner is still open.

After carefully parking her car as close as she can get to the door, Pamela sprints to the diner door in a vain attempt to avoid most of the rain. Practically diving into the diner, Pamela is greeted by the inviting warmth. "Hey hon!" calls the waitress cheerfully. "Dreadful night isn't it?"

"Tell me about it!" Pamela says breathlessly. "You guys are open, right?"

"Of course!" the waitress replies. "24 hours, even on Christmas! The name's Flo. Grab a spot anywhere you want. I'll grab ya a menu and be over in a sec."

"Thanks!" Pamela calls as she slides into a booth near the register. Looking around, she sees that, while clean and tidy, there isn't much remarkable about the place. Just your typical roadside diner.

"Hear you go dear," Flo says returning with the menu. "Can I get you something to start with?"

"Just a cup of coffee," Pamela replies while trying to shake the last of the rain from her hair.

"Sure thing," Flo calls over her shoulder. "Leaded or unleaded?"

"Leaded!" Pamela chuckles. "Haven't heard that term in quite a while!"

"Well, we are pretty old fashioned here!" Flo says chipperly, returning with the coffee. "What brings you out at this time of night?"

"Just passing through and need a bit of a recharge," Pamela says with a nod of thanks. She explains to Flo about the issues with her mother while giving the menu a once over.

"Oh honey," Flo says empathetically. "Sorry to hear that. I'll get this over to the cook."

As she casually flicks the ticket to the cook who is leaning through the service window, Flo calls to Pamela, "Care to talk about it some?"

Even though the last thing Pamela wants to do is air her problems to a complete stranger, she does that the entire time. The odd thing about it is, since her dad passed away several years ago, Pamela has had such a hard time talking even to her close friends about her feelings. Now, sitting in this little roadside truck stop, talking to someone she has never met before, she finds herself pouring out emotions she never knew she had.

Dabbing up the last bit of egg yolk with the last scrap of toast crust, Pamela turns to Flo and says, "Thanks a lot. I guess I've been meaning to get that off my mind for quite some time."

"Oh, don't you worry dear," Flo replies sweetly. "We don't often get customers this late during the week. Well, except for the long haul guys, and I spend most of the time trying too keep their hands off of me!"

Getting up with a long needed stretch, Pamela says, "How much do I owe you?"

"Never mind dear," Flo says. "It's on me. Like I said, it was nice to have someone to talk to for a bit."

"Really?" Pamela asks incredulously. "No, I got to give you something!"

"No really," Flo insists. "Go see your mom. She needs to see you."

With a wave to the cook and a hug of thanks to Flo, Pamela heads back into the monsoon. As she pulls onto the frontage road, Pamela is startled by the sudden appearance of flashing red and blue lights in her rear view mirror. Slightly annoyed, she pulls over and waits for the officer to approach.

As she rolls down her window to talk, the officer gruffly barks, "Please turn off the car miss!"

Complying quickly, Pamela asks, "What is the problem officer?"

"Can you tell me what you were doing back there?" the officer asks sternly.

"I was just getting something to eat and some coffee. I have a long trip ahead of me!" Pamela says innocently.

"Right," the officer replies sarcastically. "Give me another one!"

"No really!" Pamela pleads. "You can even go back and ask Flo!"

"Flo?" the officer replies, significantly less gruff than he was a few seconds ago.

"Yes!" Pamela almost squeaks. "She's the waitress!"

"Miss," the officer replies gently. "That restaurant has been closed for years. Ever since the fire."

Whipping her head around, Pamela notices that the place where she was just minutes ago has, in fact, been shuttered for years. The faded fire scars are still visible even in the dark. "Wha...Who..." Pamela stutters. "What is happening?"

"I think you better come with me miss," the officer says calmly. "We'll get you a room at the motel."

Following the officer numbly, Pamela wonders, did she imagine the whole thing, or did something else happen out here? Although no answers would come on the short drive to the local motel, Pamela did know one thing. Her life had changed in a way she wouldn't have believed just a few hours ago.


Perhaps I'll share some more in the coming days and weeks. Real life is going to get VERY real for me, so I can't make any guarantees. Anyway, I'm sure you were expecting the Wil story. Sorry dear reader, but whether it's actually a legal issue or not, I don't feel comfortable publishing anything, even digitally, that contains a real person without their blessings. Sorry to disappoint!

Friday, December 3, 2010

This Old Cub

OK, fist things first. This is probably the worst thing to do considering the news is less than a half an hour old as I write, but if I don't get it down now, I don't think I will be able to.

WGN is now reporting that legendary Cubs player and announcer Ron Santo has died at the age of 70.

It will come as no great surprise that I am a Cubs fan. I have been as long as I can remember. I am a proud member of the WGN generation, growing up with a summer of 140 games televised on the network. When I got older and found myself away from the TV more frequently, I turned to the radio to get my Cubs fix.

I never got the chance to see Ron play. He retired a few years before I was born. My love for Ronnie developed over the years as I listened to the games on WGN radio. I'm sure there are a lot of people that feel that he wasn't a great color guy, but to those of us who were fans he was the perfect color guy. He was as much a fan of the team as we are. I know I don't speak just for myself when I say that we often didn't hear Ron's cries of despair because they were drowned out by our own. Often, you didn't need the play-by-play. Ron's emotions told us all exactly what happened.

There's no more deserving player who is not in that Hall that deserves to be there. I'm not going to go into this now. It's not the place or the time. All I'm going to say is that it's way past time. Let's get it done now.

I can't go on anymore...I'm still too shocked. Rest assured I will say more later and it will be more of fitting tribute. I'm not real religious, but if everything the Christians have been telling me is true, God is now blessed with the best baseball announce team. Rest well dear Ronnie....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Peu de mort blanche

Well, it starts...

Yea, I know we've been spoiled. It's already December and we are looking towards only our first accumulating snowfall. It doesn't mean I'm happy about it!

Well, let's be honest here. I am looking forward to it a little bit. I'm a weather geek, and that means all weather/storms. The reasons I'm not happy about it have been fairly well documented. I won't rehash this, even though I know damn well it will happen again. As I write this, we are roughly 24 hours from the expected start of the snow and the exact strength of the system is unknown. That makes me very nervous. Doubly so when they are talking about possible lake enhancement.

But I digress...The real reason for this post is to gather advice. For those that missed it, the first storm last winter was also a doozy. One of the more complex storms of the season a well. During that storm, I made hourly observations as long as I was physically able (it was overnight and I did have to sleep a bit). I put it to you, dear reader (yes, I mean my only reader!) should I do the same this year? It will be a bit more difficult as there are few places where I'm living now that I can use for official depth measurements, but I am willing to give it a go.

So, what say you? It will be a fairly short duration storm (aprox. 6 hours as of this writing), so the only thing stopping me from every hour is the timeframe (12 am-6 am Sat.). Would you be interested in my hourly updates on Facebook? Leave a comment either here or on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TSA T&A

I joked about this earlier on Facebook, but, as my mind often does, it's been chewing on it all night and an interesting thought came up...

As I mentioned semi-jokingly today, if you are fed up with the TSA's patdowns, all you need to do is fly naked. At first blush, it would seem likely that you would be arrested for indecent exposure, the story would make the rounds for a day or so and that would be it.

However, there could be a but at the end of that sentence. The TSA is a government agency. If done properly, presenting yourself to the TSA screeners in your birthday suit could be taken as a protest. In that case, which wins. Your First Amendment rights or indecency laws? What a sticky wicket that would create.

I'm not going to go into a long editorial about the current security issues. Many others who feel stronger about it have said a lot more than I could. I prefer to look at things from unusual perspectives. You can't have it both ways kiddos. You either have high security or you have more attacks. It's just that simple. This is the most unconventional war (and yes, it is a war) that we have ever fought. We are constantly on defence because as soon as something works, our enemies change tactics. They change because they know our playbook. They know that one chance is all they get before they have to think again.

We've gotten so used to our freedoms that as soon as someone wants to curb them, even if it's to protect us, the cries go out. We are so concerned about offending people as well. We know damn well who is doing a vast majority of these attacks. Muslims, of middle-eastern decent, male, aged 18-30. The minute we say that all people fitting into that group is going to get extra attention, the liberals start screaming 'racist!'.

I'm going to leave it there, because that's not where I want this to go. Back on topic. Now, the thing is, who to get to do this? I think I'm a bit too self-conscious to do it. Of course, if I was 6'4", toned, tanned, and hung like an Arabian, it would make it a bit easier! It's a difficult choice. It can't be a celebrity...people will think it's nothing more than a publicity stunt. It can't be a person that's too hot either, for the same reason. Best bet is a moderately attractive C-list star. Get to it folks! I want to see that protest!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

(insert depressed sigh here)

As you may have noticed, a majority of my recent posts have leaned towards the socio-political aspects of life. I've been meaning to get around to a few other, significantly less important, things, but the motivation just wasn't there.

Even now as I write this, the desire is pretty low. My beloved Wolverines dropped another turd in the proverbial punch bowl today with an embarrassing 48-28 loss to Wisconsin. The problem with writing about them is it's not really news. I was never a fan of the Rodriguez hiring in the first place, but I was willing to give him a bit more of a break than a lot of fans. After all, he was completely redoing the team concept. Now that his first recruits are finishing their junior year, it's time for the axe to fall. With an offense that is sporadic at best and a defense that gives up more yards per game than Magellan logged, it's time for a change.

It's even hard for me to write about my dear Sharks. 9-5-4 isn't horrible, but after all the recent disappointments and a huge shakeup in net, it's real hard for me to get excited right now. Niemi is the over-rated stiff I thought he was last year. Niittymaki has done well, but he always will be a solid #2. He wasn't meant to be the go to guy. The depth is still an issue, particularly on the blueline. They are only 18 games into the season and they are already scrambling to find injury replacements.

My offline life is a swirling shitstorm, but I'm not going to go into that. So that's that then. I guess it's back to the socio-political!

A greater mission?

For those of you that follow my inane ramblings on Facebook, you might have noticed some rather unusual posts the last few days. Now, I can imagine that most of you thought that I sustained a sharp blow to the head, finally made the transition from normal crazy to foaming at the mouth insane, or, more likely, both. No my dear friends, I have retained the tenuous grasp on both sanity and reality that I always had.
I stumbled upon a very interesting site a few nights ago. It had the Hail Mary translated into many different languages. The first post was me being fascinated with languages and, honestly, trying to buy a little karma (yes, I know the idea of trying to acquire a tenet of Sikhism/Hinduism with a Christian prayer is a little counter-productive, but just go with me here). However, after I posted the first one my mind, as it does from time to time, took the idea and ran off with it for a while. What it came back with really got me thinking.

As we all know, there are many places where Christianity is not welcomed at all. Still, there are always missionaries that are going to these places to spread The Word. In many of these places, they are literally putting their lives on the line. Uttering those words in those languages could easily be a death sentence. That has always amazed me about people who were totally devoted to their faith. The fact that they would willingly put their lives on the line for an idea.

People like Paul Hypki from Crosswalk Church in Waukesha. Granted, he wasn't putting his life on the line when he was going to Tajikistan, but the government really didn't want him there. At one point, if he was caught, he would have been lucky to just be deported (the restrictions have since been eased). That still didn't keep him from going over and guiding a small group of Christians in the small, poor, former Soviet republic.

So, as a very small tribute, I would like to share a few of my favorites. For the less known languages, I will provide a short explanation.

Ave, Maria, yu pulap long grasia. Lord, i stap long yu. Ol i onaim yu moa long ol meri, na ol i onaim Jisas, Em Pikinini bilong bel bilong yu. Santu Maria, Mama bilong God, pre bilong helpim mipela manmeri bilong sin, nau na long taim milpela i dai. Amen. - Tok Pisin

Tok Pisin is a Creole/English hybrid that is spoken in Papua New Guinea. Although the government of Papua New Guinea has a freedom of speech law similar to ours, there are literally thousands of different cultural/ethnic groups in the country. Many of them can be hostile to those who are different, especially once you get outside Port Morseby.

Ave Maria, nopunu' do graasia, miampai diau O kinoingan, obitua ko do id saviavi' tondu, om obitua o tuva' tinan nu Jesus. Sangti Maria, tina' do Kinoingan Pokiinsianai zikoh tu' tuhun do momimiduso; baino om ontok jaam do kapatazon za. Amin. - Kadazan

Kadazan is a language spoken in an area of Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Again, the Malaysian constitution insures freedom of religion, however, over 60% of the country is Muslim and Shariah law is upheld in their court system. Also, ethnic Malays are constitutionally considered Muslim.

聖母經

萬福瑪麗亞,你充滿聖寵!主與你同在。你在婦女中受贊頌,你的親子耶穌同受贊頌。

天主聖母瑪麗亞,求你現在和我們臨終時,為我們罪人祈求天主。阿門。- Chinese




Arabic

I really don't have a greater point or moral for all of this. It's just food for thought. I'm not really out to shift any personal paradigms. Take from this whatever you will.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Live on Big Fritz

35 years ago, the greatest Great Lakes maritime wreck occurred. At approximately 7:20 pm, November 10th, 1975, the Edmond Fitzgerald went down in Lake Superior. With a mere 17 miles (15 nm) to go until they reached the relative safety of Whitefish Bay, The Big Fritz succumbed to a severe storm with wind gusts of up to 100 MPH and waves as high as 35 feet. As no distress signals were sent, the true cause of the Fitzgerald going down will never be known.

As a born and breed Wisconsinite, the tale of the Fitzgerald is well known to me and most folks in the Great Lakes area. What really brings this home is the storm we had just 15 days ago. It was a almost identical storm to the one that brought the Fitz down. Just experiencing that storm on land gives me new respect of what happened on that lake that night.

29 men went down that night. 29 men who were just doing their jobs. The youngest, Watchman Karl A. Peckol, was just 20 years old when the ship went down. With the current glorification of blue collar workers in tough jobs, I hope that the memory of the Fitzgerald and other wrecks on the Great Lakes will live on. Even though Great Lakes shipping isn't what it once was, the men who still ply the mostly calm, but often deadly, waters of those inland seas take a great risk just to make their way in life.

So, as my last thought, I leave you with the words and music of Gordon Lightfoot...


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kill all the babies you want, just put down the Big Mac!

As I look around at all the laws that have been passed to force us to change our behaviors, the ones that really frost my knickers are the ones that are "for our own good."

It's not just San Francisco and their idiotic new law banning happy meal toys...It's all the laws that put us in the middle of the Demolition Man world. If some morally righteous zealot deems something to be even slightly bad, they will get some politician to pass a ban against it. Even if it's a legal product, they will do everything they can to prevent you from using it (am I right smokers?). If I am to believe the teachings I got while I was searching for religion, we were given the gift of free will. Why are our "leaders" doing everything they can to take that away?

You have to wonder though...Why is it that they are so intent on legislating all sorts of behaviors that are bad for us, but they still allow abortion? When you boil it down, it is all about life. These laws are supposed to save our lives. So why not preserve life by passing a law against the behavior that directly leads to taking a life? Why is free will good in this case and not in any others? If you ask a pro abortion person, their first argument is always, "We must protect a woman's right to choose!" Well, what about my right to choose to stuff my face with never ending plates of poutine? What about a parent's right to choose whether to get the Happy Meal for their kid or not?

Our society has truly begun it's decent. We can't keep the worst among us (murderers, rapists, child molesters) behind bars, but we can pass laws telling us what to eat, what to drink, what to wear, and even what kinds of products to buy (bye bye incandescent light bulbs). Has it really come to this? No, I'm not advocating anarchy, but come on, if I want to sit in a greasy spoon diner and have a jumbo rack of ribs with a side of chili fries, why should the government feel the need to try to stop me?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Underground Conservative Part VI

OK, I admit it. I was dumb. I gave in to the hoopla.

After I volunteered for the Walker campaign on election day, I grabbed a bumper sticker and...put it on my car. Yea, it makes it a bit harder now to be undercover, but I don't care. This was such a historic election cycle for me. I had to do it.

I have always leaned towards politics. I rarely miss voting in an election. I've voted in every presidential election since I turned 18. I have missed a few primaries though. By and large, I have always participated in the process. Over the last two years, however, I have taken it to a new level. I have blogged about it (both here and in the first version of Sharks and Bears), written about it at various other sites, and this year I actually pounded the pavement and knocked on doors on election day. I have attended rallies and defended my candidates online. I don't consider myself a political activist yet, but I do feel that I am knowledgeable enough to be considered a pundit.

I'm more than a little nervous about the sticker. My car is my lifeline (needed for work and food shopping) and in a neighborhood where windows were broken by bricks over a sale of a TV that died (yes, this really did happen...I watched the guy throw the bricks), a Walker bumper sticker might be all the motivation needed for some prick to slash tires or break windows. Still, I am proud to have it there. Make no mistake though, if he doesn't live up to his promises, I will be one of the first ones to vote him out.

That is what all of us who identify with the TEA Party are all about. It doesn't matter if you have a D or an R after your name. If you are committed to lowering the tax burden on the people, control spending, and return this country to it's glory, then we are with you. If you don't do what you said you were going to do, we will find someone who will.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Congressional twister

Now that all the election data has shaken out from that historic midterm, we move on to the first huge decision that the state has to face...Redistricting.

For those that don't know how this works, here's a short overview. Every 10 years, the government sets out to count every person in the country (the census). The numbers that the census turn up play a large part in the government at various levels. Perhaps the biggest, most visible way, is the number of representatives that each state sends to the US House. Since 1913 (not counting the one time Alaska/Hawaii exception) this number has been set at 435. Leaving out the complex math that goes into it, after each census it is determined how many house representatives each state gets (although each state is guaranteed one) based on the number of people there.

That's where it gets interesting for Wisconsin. We will be losing one seat. Considering the fact that every congressional district has to include the exact same number of people at the time of redistricting, it seems likely that the seat that will be lost will be in SE Wisconsin. Logic would dictate that the current 4th district would be absorbed by the 1st and 5th to some degree. Of course, we won't know for some time yet what sort of cartography contortions will be done to give Wisconsin it's 7 seats, but with the Republicans in control of the Governor's Mansion, State Assembly, and State Senate, you can be sure that the balance that we currently have in SE Wisconsin will change.

But what to do with that extra representative? Someone is losing his/her job. I'm far from a scholar when it comes to redistricting, but if it were me, the person that is representing the district that is eliminated would be out of a job. Some people, I'm sure, would argue that the most junior representative would be tossed. And that's the ballgame folks. Either very liberal Gwen Moore (WI-4) is out if the 4th really is dumped or either Sean Duffy or Reid Ribble (both won their first terms on Tuesday) will be ousted. It is possible, although quite unlikely, that a current representative would voluntarily retire to free up the seat. The only candidates that I see doing that are James Sensenbrenner (WI-5) and possibly Tom Petri (WI-6). Tammy Baldwin (WI-2) is such an entrenched part of the Madison liberal establishment that I don't see her going anywhere. Ron Kind (WI-3) may also consider it. Had the winds of change not been blowing so hard the other way, Kind would have considered a run for governor this year.

As much as I hate to say it, the wild card here is Paul Ryan (WI-1). He is a rising star in Republican politics and is poised to become a leader in the new Republican majority. However, despite his assurances to the contrary, if the tide continues to turn against the Democrats, he will be given the full court press by the RNC and prominent Republicans to change his mind. A one year break to put his ducks in a row before a big time campaign might be enough to get him to at least consider it.

It will be a very interesting time. How are the lines drawn? Who will be looking for a new job? Will someone "take one for the team" so another colleague can keep their job? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 midterms - a look back

It's interesting how things can look so different just by changing the perspective. Nationally, the Republican wave didn't surge as much as it could have. It was still pretty powerful, (taking back the House with a significant majority and evening up the Senate) but it wasn't quite the tsunami that it could have been.

Here in Wisconsin, however, it was quite a different story. Two House seats went from blue to red (a third, WI-3, nearly fell in what was, going in, considered a safe seat for the Democrats), the governor's mansion will be occupied by Republican Scott Walker, Wisconsin's junior Senator is now a conservative business owner from Oshkosh, and the State Assembly and the State Senate switched to a Republican majority. The last time the Assembly, Senate, and Governor all switched parties in the same year, you have to go back to 1938.

All that is a good thing. Perhaps we can get the big spending under control now. While I know that Mr. Walker and Mr. Johnson know that if they don't do what they promised, we will replace them with someone who will. Hopefully the State Assembly and Senate get the hint too.

The most confusing thing though, is what's coming out of the WI-4. For those that don't know, the 4th is basically the city of Milwaukee and as strong a lock for the Democrats as any district in the country. In this election, Gwen Moore was challenged, rather strongly as it turns out, by local business owner Dan Sebring. At first glance, the 69-30% win for Moore is what you would expect in a race that wasn't heavily backed by GOP money. However, all doesn't seem to be kosher. After Mr. Sebring posted on his Facebook account last night that he would not be conceding due to what he called "irregularities" in the vote counting. I took a bit of time myself and dug a little deeper.

Granted, I do not have access to the numbers of same day registrants, but basing the vote totals for the Senate race and the number of registered voters in Milwaukee county as of October 20th, it began to look a bit fishy. According to my numbers, 63.5% of Milwaukee county registered voters turned out to vote. Now, there was a VERY high turnout in the south suburbs, but that also is a cause for concern because those areas also voted heavily for Ron Johnson and Scott Walker. Cudahy, St. Francis, South Milwaukee and a segment of West Allis are a part of the 4th. According to JSOnline's map, those areas also voted pretty strongly for Walker and Johnson. I would tend to believe that they would have voted for Sebring as well.

That leaves us with the city of Milwaukee. Sure, Republicans tend to do very poorly here, but even still, there were irregularities. Again, according to JSOnline's maps, Aldermanic districts 11 and 13 leaned significantly to Walker. You would think that those voting Walker would vote Sebring as well.

So what does this all mean? Could it be possible that all this evidence only accounts for 30% of the vote? Sure, it's possible, but unlikely. That is probably the reasoning behind Mr. Sebring's official protest of the election's results. Thee has already been one account of illegal actions by poll workers (an inner city poll worker said to a voter, "Let me show you some of my favorite candidates"), who's to say there wasn't more?

It looks like it will be quite a while until the dust settles in this one. If you are interested, go ahead and follow Mr. Sebring's Facebook account. I'm sure that it will be very interesting...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election night thoughts

Just a few quick things while they are still fresh in my mind.

I just returned home for the Scott Walker victory rally. Two things stuck out. First, to no real surprise, there was only a few African American faces in the crowd (I counted 3, but there was a HUGE number of people there). What did surprise me a bit was the number of younger people. I did see some college age people, but not nearly as many as I would have hoped. I don't consider myself young by any means, but we need us younger folks to step up and get active. The generation before us is aging quickly. If we want to continue the gains we made tonight, we have to keep it up.

Milwaukee county concerned me. It seemed that they took forever to report their totals. Maybe it was the fact that there were long lines at 8, I don't know for sure. All I do know is that the only time I saw slower return reporting was when I was living in Appleton. Whatever the reason, it does look a bit shady...even more so when you consider all the fraud allegations that come from certain parts of the city.

I'll write more tomorrow once all the dust settles and we get the final numbers. There seems to be a bit of an issue in the WI-4 race. Dan Sebring refuses to concede under allegations of Irregularities in vote tabulation. We'll check that out as well.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prediction time!

Well, since every other political blogger is putting their money where their mouth is, I guess I should too.

US Senate

This one will be real close. With the announcement that Joe Liberman may caucus with the GOP should there be a party flip or a 50-50, it makes the Senate races all that more interesting. I do think that the Senate flips straight out and Liberman starts to vote with the GOP, giving a 52-48 majority to the Republicans.

Locally, it's practically a foregone conclusion that Ron Johnson defeats Russ Feingold. It's just a matter by how much. There are reports that the turnout in Milwaukee could be as high as 55%. If that holds true, it will be a narrower margin. The problem is, despite how liberal this city is, I haven't seen a large amount of yard signs/bumper stickers for any of the Democratic candidates. While far from scientific, that leads me to think that the turnout may be a bit lower than they think. If that's true, Johnson wins by at least 4 points.

US House

This is a slam dunk. The Republicans will take back the house, the only thing in question is by how much? I have heard anywhere from 50 to 76 seats. I think the 50-55 range is closer to the truth, but we will know for sure how big of a tide this is by 9pm CDT. The WI-3 race will be a key. If Ron Kind loses out there, you know that things are going to go very badly for the Democrats nationwide.

There really are only the 3 seats that are in play in Wisconsin. As far as the 3rd goes, it truly is a tossup. I haven't followed that race as closely as the others, but I think Kind will hold on. The 7th and 8th are runaways for the GOP. Sean Duffy will dominate in the 7th while Reid Ribble holds on to win in the 8th. Steve Kagen turned himself into the Dan Quayle of this generation. I think the GOP could have run a stuffed bunny against Kagen and received 40% of the vote. There is a challenge in the WI-4, and despite what Dan Sebring is saying on his Facebook page, he really doesn't have a real shot. Even with the reports of vandalism to his supporters' homes, it's not going to be enough to overcome the long odds.

Wisconsin Governor

Again, this is almost a sure thing. Tom Barrett has been the reluctant candidate all along. I'm sure, deep down, he never really wanted to be governor. He's happy being the mayor of Milwaukee. The president and the DNC sweet talked him into this. Scott Walker should win by a comfortable margin. Again, Milwaukee turnout will determine by how much Walker wins, but I'm thinking a 59-41% margin is realistically attainable.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

The moment before the moment

You know, Lewis Black had it right all along when he said, "This moment we are sharing right now...Is as good as it's going to get."

The moment of anticipation. There is no better moment. There's nothing better than the feeling you get right before something big happens.

That's where I find myself. This weekend will, for the foreseeable future, be my one and only weekend where I can do what I want, when I want. I'm going to try to enjoy it. I have determined that it will be either the best weekend EVER or suck on toast. There will be no middle ground. I'm going to get out of my comfort zone. I'm just going to let the night come to me. Where I end up is where I end up.

That's the big issue. As Mr. Black also said, "The moment is reality, and reality kinda sucks". I have no delusions about my luck. I have seen it work for me and against me too many times to be able to properly gauge what is going to happen. Still, it will be worth the effort I believe. I've really only just begun to feel 'normal' (I'm never going to be mainstream normal...I'm just aiming for normal for me) and I'm hoping to keep that going as long as possible.

So, if you are a praying person, say one for me. If you are not, I'll be starting the night at Stonefly, so feel free to join me! :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Underground Conservative Part V

We all know that sex sells. We see it every day. Every consumer product out there has used sexuality at some point to sell itself. What confuses me is why don't political campaigns do the same?

I've been debating with myself ever since about whether I would share any/all the details of my journey into the absurd that occurred last Friday night/Saturday morning. On one hand, there are many details of my life, past and present, that I will never be sharing online. That's just the way I am. Still, what happened to me borders so much on the insane/absurd/bizarre that it is hard not to talk about it. I've gone over a few details with a good friend (mostly to confirm my own thoughts), but for the most part I've been silent because I still have not fully come to terms with what went on and how I reacted.

However, when the above thought came to me earlier today, I had a bit of an epiphany. Perhaps it is now time to share a bit of my night.

As a part of the unusual night, I met several new people. One of which just happened to be a very attractive young woman. We had a good time just talking for well over an hour. Somehow, the conversation turned to politics. That's when I discovered that she was a rather extreme liberal. Now, normally under these circumstances, I would have had a good game of Tweak The Liberal and call it a night. After all, I had just met her in the most random way and unless the gods of chance have a sense of humor like mine, we would never see each other again. However, this time was a bit different. For whatever reason (Yes all you dirty minded people...That's probably why!) I found myself either being vague about my beliefs or flat out concealing them just to continue talking to her.

Which brings me back to the original point. I do believe that I would be strong enough to avoid the "vote for my guy and I'll sleep with you" invitation, but we all know that there are an awful lot of people who don't vote on a regular basis that would, given the right enticement, go along with those terms. So why don't we hear more about it? I'm sure that if it IS going on that the media in this country would jump all over it. So if it isn't going on, why not? Bribery has always been a part of politics in one shape or another. This would just be another form of bribery with the added bonus that the politician in question could have total deniability.

Maybe politicians hold themselves to a bit of a higher standard. As hard as that is to believe when you look at all the attack ads that are out there now, maybe it is true. Honestly, I think the only reason that they don't do it is that they haven't found a way to get their followers to do it and still keep that deniability...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Have boombox, will travel...

Ok...Anyone who's my age or slightly older knows this scene well...

Well, in jest, I was taunted with it by a good friend earlier (Now that I think about it, I owe you a bit of payback Denise! :P) and like it usually goes, my mind started chewing on it.

While under my current circumstances I wouldn't consider something this extreme, there was at least one point in my life where I seriously considered it. I never did for several reasons. This always looks so good in the movies, but is it something that translates to real life? Has anyone ever done that? Have any of you considered it and didn't? Why not?

The logical part of my brain tells me that this looks WAY better on the big screen than it would in real life. However, I'm sure that it could be pulled off if done in the right way. I wonder if any of the MP3 player folks have a docking station that big...