Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Can't Wait For This Election To Be Over

This has been the ugliest Presidential campaign I can remember seeing and frankly I'm disgusted. I am absolutely fed up with the twisted half-truths, veiled insults, ridiculous accusations, blatant lies, partisan bullshit and general douchebaggery now littering the nation's media. The ongoing rhetoric of hate and divisiveness serves no beneficial purpose and can only serve to cause considerable harm to this country. This toxic negativity needs to end and it needs to end now. It's an insult to any free thinking individual with a measurable IQ, an embarrassment to this country and a total abandonment of the principles and values for which this country supposedly stands.

Our whole political and electoral system has been corrupted and is in dire need of serious change. So, here's my suggestions for election reform. They'll never happen but I'll feel better by writing them down.

Eliminate The RNC And The DNC.
   In fact, eliminate the parties altogether. Let the candidates fend for themselves since they, not their respective party committees, are the ones up for election. I am not interested in what some committee has to say and I resent having to pay for their election year multimillion dollar extravaganzas with my wasted tax dollars. I'm also sick to death of the nonstop partisan fighting. If our elected officials took even a quarter of the effort they waste on sabotaging each other and redirected it to doing what's good for the country then we'd be in far better shape. This will absolutely never happen so I put it first, call it wishful thinking. The rest of my suggestions are made with the knowledge that there will always be distinctly different parties.

Fix Campaign Financing.
   Deduct one dollar from every federal tax return filed every year and put that money aside. When campaign season starts all the candidates split it evenly. They can then match the amount they receive with their own money. That's all they get. No more buying the Oval Office, no more special interest groups and fake non-profits contributing millions of dollars, everyone starts on equal terms. How they spend it is their choice. This would also have the effect of allowing for more than two parties to present viable candidates for us to choose from. Currently no candidates from alternative parties have a chance. Without several hundred million dollars to spend they are practically invisible and remain unknown with the end result being we voters ending up with fewer choices.

 Demand And Require Absolute Truth In Advertising.
   No more accusations, misquotes, comments taken out of context, twisted half-truths or any other political garbage. If it is not the 100% truth it can not be used. Period. ALL ads would be reviewed by an independent organization like and mandatory stiff penalties put in place to punish any untruthful ads. Unable to bash each other with bullshit the candidates will have no choice but to tell us about themselves, their priorities and their plans. Imagine that, voters heading to the polls with clear ideas of what the candidates want to do and how they want to do it. Wouldn't that be different?

Get Rid Of Electoral Votes.
   The candidate with the most votes wins. The one with the next highest amount becomes Vice President. Finally all votes would then count equally. There would also be the added benefit of the VP being the voters' pick, not the candidate's pick.

Fix The Debates.
   This is a personal peeve of mine. The "debates" are a joke, nothing but a waste of television air time. Why are only the two main parties' candidates invited? Why can't the Green Party send their candidate, or the Libertarian Party? If the debate is for Presidential candidates then all of the presidential candidates should be there.

   Next, what's the point of asking a question if the candidate won't answer it? The moderator should hound them until they answer each question thoroughly and with the same standards I outlined for their advertising. Then the debates would finally serve a purpose. If a candidate feels that they can't thoroughly, concisely and honestly state their positions, goals and plans on national tv then frankly they've got no business running for office.
   Come on November 4th! I can't wait to get this over.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My "Vacation" Is Over

Sometimes you don't need to go anywhere to have a vacation.  In fact, sometimes it can be a vacation when someone else goes away.  That's how it recently happened for me.  My wife was going to a work related conference for several days then instead of coming home she was going to be taking care of the dog at her mother's house for almost a week.

For thirteen days I was single again and it couldn't have come at a better time. Just before it started I'd found out that my wife had gone behind my back and done something incredibly stupid which she knew I would never agree to.  It will in all likelihood end up being the final nail in the coffin of this dying marriage, but that's another story for another time.

I thoroughly enjoyed my brief singledom.  It was nice to find things where I'd left them, nice to clean something and see it stay that way and really nice to be able to get through a day without feeling aggravated or angry. I even took advantage of the freedom to go on a little trip, but that too is another story for another day.

Unfortunately my little vacation is now over, she's back. It was so much nicer with just Zeus and I.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Summer, Just About Over And Done

So it's been 9 months since I posted anything, don't think I'm going to make up for it by posting some incredibly exciting blog from which you can't tear yourself away. You'll be very disappointed if you do. I haven't really done much of anything interesting, I'm pretty boring.

Last night I went to Longwood Gardens to see their last Fountain and Fireworks show of the season. It's a really good show and I hadn't been to one in several years so I figured I was due, plus I know someone who works there so I didn't have to pay to get in. If you plan on coming to the Philadelphia/Baltimore/Delaware area anytime during the summer months I recommend that you try to schedule your trip so that you can make it to one of these events. You can easily spend a day on the property and cap it off with the fireworks.

It's basically a really good 30 minute fireworks display over top of a 5 acre fountain garden with musical accompaniment. The fountains change constantly, both the shapes and sizes of the water jets as well as the colors of the lights, and it's all synchronized and controlled by computer so the fountains, fireworks and music all work together. Here are a few photos of the main fountain garden.

At the end of July and into early August I went on a family vacation, the first in about 25 years. It went better than I expected. We went to Williamsburg and I got to be a kid again, that was fun! We spent one whole day in Busch Gardens where I managed to ride every big, fast ride they had, some of them several times. I think the high temperatures (high 90s) and high fuel costs at the time kept a lot of people away, the lines were short and on one roller coaster we didn't even have to get out, we just stayed in our seat and rode it again. The next day we went to Water Country and rode all the water rides all day, what a great way to spend a hot summer day.

Here I am with one of my nieces waiting for the ride to start.

Everything else is the same as usual. Work has been busier than expected and is getting even busier as we start preparing for my oh so freakin' favorite time of year and it's accompanying six weeks of Hell. The yard has been pretty much taken over by two weeds that just won't die no matter what I spray them with or how much I spray on them. Those little wild violets and that creeping charlie ground ivy seem immune to weed killers. The garden is starting to wind down a little early, the dry summer has pushed many plants into an early dormancy. If I ever get around to organizing and sorting the hundreds of pictures I've taken I may post an album of some of the flower pictures.

That's it, my past 9 months in a nutshell. You may now amuse yourself by making fun of my boring life or by expressing shock and/or surprise at the fact that I got up off of my lazy ass and typed something.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Garden Critters

Assorted critters and insects I've photographed in my garden over the years. Click the slideshow to enable full screen capability at Picasa.

Monday, January 7, 2008

All Good Things Must Come To An End

In the late 80's through most of the 90's I was working in the Open Space Management division of a municipal government in Maryland. One morning in mid-February of 1990 I walked into our tool shed and discovered a trail of oil blobs. I followed them to their end and discovered an even bigger oil blob. I picked it up to see what it was and it let out a pitiful little meow. It was a kitten, she had fallen into a 5 gallon bucket of used motor oil which one of our genius mechanics had left outside and despite her tiny size she had somehow managed to get out.

Being a cat lover I took her home, cleaned her up and waited to see if she'd live. After a couple of days with oil coming from both ends she seemed to be improving so I adopted the poor thing and named her Valdez. This was not long after the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill and she looked like one of it's victims so it seemed a suitable name. She's been my companion for 18 years, the closest thing to a child I'll ever have. She's also been the only real constant in my life during that period.

On January 2, within days of her eighteenth birthday I took her to the vet. She had been eating less and that morning her breathing seemed labored. An x-ray showed fluid in her chest which was preventing her lungs from fully expanding so off to the specialist we went. They tapped her chest and pulled out 4 ounces of fluid, in the process her lung punctured so she still had difficulty breathing. They had to tap her chest several more times to remove air which was having the same effect as the fluid has been. They had to keep her overnight so they could keep her on oxygen and drain the air again if needed.

I got to bring her home late the next afternoon, her lung had sealed and she was breathing normally again and had been eating. The vet told me the bad news, the fluid in her chest had been sent for testing and came back positive for carcinoma. My little girl was dying of cancer. Anything diagnostic or preventive would be invasive or at her age may prove to be worse than the disease itself. So, I took her home to spoil her rotten for the remainder of her life. I refused to allow her last little bit of time to be uncomfortable or traumatic, she deserved better.

For 2 days she ate like a little pig but today she was again having trouble breathing so I took her back to the emergency clinic for another x-ray. The results of the exam weren't good, as a result she died in my arms calmly, quietly and peacefully. She was a sweet, gentle and loving companion and I feel lucky to have had her in my life for such a long time. She brought me nothing but joy and I can only hope that I gave her as much happiness as she gave me.