Wednesday, October 31


Unless you are a hermit or have only recently been washed ashore from some far distant deserted island, you know full well that Halloween has become a major event in America's festival allegiances, rivaling even Christmas for the degree of consumer attention it is afforded. In Tampa's artsy-craftsy district, known as Ybor City, a week long Latin-style celebration entitled "Guavaween"is celebrated, replete with several parades and costume contests. Those festivities are as mild as a picnic on the church grounds when compared to the far more bawdy and risque annual Fantasy Fest in Key West, where costumes are minimal if not forsaken altogether in favor of full body, spray painted "artwork." "Art," it is said, "is in the eye of the beholder," and there are untold dozens of female canvasses walking about to behold. (That's what I've been told, anyway)

One of these years we will perhaps be invited to attend a Halloween costume party where creativity is the rule. Nothing store bought. Everything made from scratch. I've already have mine and Judi's costume planned. I'll find two large appliance cartons, paint them to look identical to giant Almond Joy candy boxes and label them "Plain" and "With Nuts." I'll let you figure out who gets to wear which costume.

With our daughter now out on her own, our recognition of Halloween night consist of little more than putting a plastic pumpkin out on the front steps filled with candy and a sign that says "Help Yourself." It will be a rather uneventful Halloween night for us. Guess I'll just spend the better part of the evening looking through the Party City catalogue at the Halloween costumes and masks. Below are three of my most disturbing favorites...

If these three creatures don't scare the crap out of you...nothing will. Happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 30

It Ain't Your Mama's "Cosmos" Anymore..."

Come on guys...fess up. You know you've sneaked a quick peak at an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. Perhaps your wife or your significant lady-friend had them laying around in plain view. The cover is certainly eye-catching, prominently displaying a voluptuous female smiling alluringly back to meet your eyes of growing curiosity. Just a quick peak. After all, it's a "woman's magazine." The contents couldn't possibly contain anything within that would even remotely interest you or pertain to your manly, day-to-day pursuits. Still...what can it hurt to quickly thumb through a few pages and see what the modern-day woman finds interesting?

Based on the most recent issues, it's apparently "sex." What a shock.

As is my daily habit I stop in at my local convenience store to grab a cup of coffee to accompany me on my commute to the office. And, as per usual, I also paused just long enough to glance at the front page of the local newspapers to catch up on the latest headlines. Next to the newspaper stand is a well stocked rack of the latest popular magazines. On this morning, as I gazed hurriedly across the various titles, my eyes became focused on this month's copy of Cosmopolitan. The very attractive female model de jour was predictably smiling seductively from the glossy cover. But what caught my lingering attention was the bold type that heralded the various topics that would be detailed within.

As an example, "Ten Things You Can Do With Your Hands That Will Drive Your Man Wild!" I thought to myself, "For one, how 'bout cooking dinner? We can discuss the other nine options later." Or, "The Ten Do's and Don'ts of Seduction," and "Ten Fashion Tips That Will Drive You Man Wild With Desire." Apparently, like David Letterman's nightly list, the number ten is the basis for evaluating anything and everything of substance, and driving "your man wild" the intended ultimate destination, having checked off meticulously all of the ten listed items. I'm not sure that I could stay awake for all ten items, but that's probably just me. There seems also to be the propensity to repeat the same lists every six months of so. I'm guessing this might be because the "ten things " you can do to "drive your man wild" is anything but inexhaustible, or the average Cosmos reader has a short memory and needs a periodic refresher course.

The cover reproduced above is the June, 1936 issue. Your Mama wouldn't recognize the ole girl today. Gone are the days when the editorial staff dedicated itself to being "a first-class family magazine." In its place is "Cosmos," the quintessential "women's magazine" catering to a female readership approaching three million that has adopted without bias the premise that "sex sells." If there are any true feminist remaining among it's dedicated subscribers, they have determined that burning their braziers is in vogue no longer. On second thought, maybe it is. I'll have to keep my eye out for future issues to determine if that is one of the featured items included as one of their "Top Ten Ways To Drive Your Man Wild!" I'll supply the matches.

Monday, October 29

"Vicarious Insanity"

Much to the chagrin of the National League's Colorado Rockies and perhaps more so to Mr. George Steinbrenner and his New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox captured this year's World Series baseball championship in a four game sweep. Whoopee! I say that tongue in cheek. Don't get me wrong, for any sporting team to win a recognized championship, having pitted their skills in a defined season against equally striving foes, is by no means a minor accomplishment. To celebrate the ultimate culminating victory in any competitive endeavor should be duly recognized. I doff my hat in appreciation to all such athletic achievements.

That having been said I also recognize that the team's accomplishments is theirs and theirs alone. Other than the minuscule part I may have played as a "fan," either as paying customer or a viewer of their exploits on television, I can lay no claim to hoisting them on my shoulders and carrying them forth to victory. I'm not singling out the Boston Red Sox fans exclusively. They just happen to be the latest examples of some the more vociferous fans who have elevated "their" team's accomplishments to a level of irrational fanaticism. To listen to the majority of these "fanatics" you would think the Red Sox World Series victory was a parallel to man's landing on the moon! Hardly.

What intrigues me the most (and perhaps disturbs me equally so) is the propensity for some die hard fans to wrap their entire identity in total allegiance to their favorite team, dying a thousand deaths when expectations fail to achieve idealistic goals or insufferable sociopaths when any success is achieved. Defining oneself vicariously to any extraneous entity is dangerous if taken to the extreme. Dissolving into abject depression or delirious euphoria over a team's performance boarders, in my uneducated opinion, to mental instability. It's just a game with winners and losers. If one has chosen to define one's opinion of one's worth on a school's or team's win and loss record, there exists a hollowness that desperately needs filling with a better sense of person.

Sports can most certainly provide a viable means for connectivity between sport's minded people. But it never should evolve to become the be all and end all of social interaction. Sports in America has become the opium for the masses. We idolize our teams and heroes that make up those teams. It is one thing to be an enthusiastic supporter of sports, it is quite another to elevate that type of allegiance into worship. That's idolatry and that's quite another matter entirely.

Sunday, October 28


When it comes to knowing my way around a computer, I'm a Pulitzer Prize winning author. "Finallly!!" I figured out how to scan, download (or upload...whatever) the photograph of yours truly and my bride Judi to perch atop my profile. Ask me how I did it, I couldn't tell you. I just tinkered until...presto, magico...there it was. I'm so proud of me!

Some folks have advised me that I shouldn't publish a photograph of myself or members of my family. I suppose it has something to do with protecting our privacy. One can never tell when a ne'er-do-well will download (I wish them luck) a copy of the photograph, climb through our bedroom window in the middle of the night, flash a bright light in our eyes and declare, "Yea, it's them! Pay Up! Your water bill is overdue!!" I'll take my chances.

Suffice it to say that I'm pleased to show off my beautiful bride of going on 25 years. That's the good part. The down side is that I'm also in the photograph...prostrate at her feet (so to speak), where I've gladly regaled myself in homage to her constant faith in and love for me. She's a great lady and I'm pleased to share her with my readers. Now if you'll pardon me, I'll head back to the main page and sit in gloating amazement at my computing prowess.

Thursday, October 25

Free Hugs Campaign. (music by Sick album out)

The "Abrazos Gratis" campaign is now in its third year and still going strong. The movement was initiated by Juan Mann, a native Australian who determined that his part of the world could stand a little infusion of demonstrated human kindness. With the words "Free Hugs" hand-printed on a single sheet of white poster board, Juan ventured unabashedly out into the hustle and bustle of the Sydney's Pitt Street Mall, initiating a movement that has spread with equal acceptance and enthusiasm all around the globe, as may be evidenced by the differing world-wide locales on You Tube.

The "Free Hugs" infectious message really began to pick up a full head of steam when the teenage band "Sick Puppies" created the song "All The Same" and attached it as the background music for the video. Amateur videographers and adherents to Juan's message grabbed on to the campaign, creating their own unique versions, many of which may also be viewed on You Tube. The "Free Hugs - Amsterdam" selection is particularly appealing in that it has an original song that also compliments the film's message.

I continue to be personally enamored by and attracted to this simple idea of sharing and expressing one's humanity with one another. The poet Robert Frost mused that "Good fences make good neighbors." The intent of Mr. Frost's words was to encourage the clear division of property, not the solitary isolation of the fence owners. Mankind longs for meaningful connection and a viable, visible assurance that we each belong to a community of like-souled individuals that can break down the artificial and unnecessary barriers of isolation to join hearts and minds in an expression of heartfelt appreciation and kindness. The "Free Hugs" campaign demonstrates that quest and promotes the hope and vision that that which separates us can easily be dissolved with a simple, no-strings-attached" hug.

If you haven't viewed the original "Free Hugs" film, take a couple of minutes to do so. If it has been a while since you last enjoyed this little up-lifting film clip, go take another look. Then share a hug, why don't you? It will brighten your day and the people who hug you back.

Monday, October 22

"The People," First & Foremost.

Amendment II - "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Amendment IV - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."

Amendment X - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, not prohibited by it to the states, are served to the states respectively, or to the people."

Central to the above cited Bill of Rights amendments to our United States Constitution are the words "the people." Not the government, but to "the people" who themselves determine through free, open and unrestricted elections who shall be designated as their advocates in matters of promoting and safeguarding "the blessings of liberty" as illuminated in the Preamble of that august document. Unfortunately, through ignorance and apathy, "we the people" have abdicated our responsibility to hold our elected officials in check, allowing our government to bloat into a self-sustaining conglomerate that fiercely holds to the staunch belief that it and it alone is to be the final arbiter in all matters of defining and regulating our existence. Too many of our elected leaders hold to the premise that we the people are incapable of determining our own destinies, and we the people have sadly determined that our protest to the contrary shall continue to fall upon unresponsive ears; that we are, therefore, powerless prisoners to the agenda driven whims of our elected representatives. As we apathetically stand by our government encroaches further and deeper into usurping our rights as free and independent citizens. What lies ahead on the horizon, as we approach the 2008 national elections, is not a promise of better prospects to come, but the repackaging of the failed remedies of the past and present. We the people are at a crossroads.

Let it be known that I do not own a firearm. Once I met my obligation to serve our country through military service, I determined that I would never again possess a firearm of any description. In my younger more idealistic years I held to the belief that society as a whole would be far better served if all firearms were smelted into plowshares. That was then. But now as I helplessly observe the detrimental effects of millions of illegal immigrants pouring across our boarders under the tactic if not complicit approval of our government, wreaking havoc on whole communities' social order, I am of the revised opinion that if my government cannot or will not protect me and my family against those persons among the unchecked throngs who would without remorse inflict death and destruction, I have little choice but to rethink that position. Rather than seal the boarders from further incursion and to determine who among these multitudes represent ideological sociopaths, our Congress turns a blind eye to that reality and offers all unencumbered sanctuary; granting the benefits of driver licenses, enrollment in social security, free education and medical care, the cost of which is bankrupting the ability of local communities to sustain without imparting an additional levy of burdensome and oppressive taxes.

Individuals who are outspoken advocates to close the boarders and cease these government handouts are labeled racists at best or, at worse, enemies of the state. Underlying these assessments is a predominate belief among the more liberal members of Congress that the right of the American people to "keep and bear arms" has outlived its historical validity. Therefore, since we are a nation of laws, the need for individual citizens to own a personal firearm should be eliminated, leaving only duly authorized institutions to "serve and protect" its citizenry. Since it is now obvious that our present elected leaders are adamantly reticent to safeguard on the national level the security of our persons, houses, papers and effects, why would any citizen fore go their right to bear personal firearms to further protect their right to be free from the next invasion of freedom that might very well be determined by our federal government, the expectation to be free from opening their doors to unreasonable search and seizure? When the Federal government arbitrarily decides what is best for me without my influential input, then I will with a vengeance declare and protect my right to say "mind your own business and get out of mine!"

The redirection of our Federal leadership need not be at the point of a gun. The power of the voting booth still remains the best impetuous to affect a pendulum sway to placing more of the direction of this country's future back in we the people's hands. However, until our elected officials understand and we the people demand that they do our bidding, that they are our servants and not the other way around, the basic guarantees of our constitutional form of government must not be allowed to be water downed. The loss of any freedom is to the detriment to all of our freedoms. First and foremost, it must be "We The People" who preserve those freedoms.

Friday, October 19

Friday Morning Reality...

I'd like to smack with my cast iron avenging skillet whoever said, "All good things must come to an end." That reality for the South Florida "Bulls" football team came to roost last evening after suffering a very disappointing defeat at the hands of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The 30 to 27 loss will result in USF falling out of its lofty 2nd place ranking in the national polls. It will not be until this approaching Sunday afternoon, when the new college team rankings are released, that USF will see just how far it has fallen from grace.

It serves no beneficial purpose in this discourse to recap the game's turning points, as no one can reinvent the past. Unexpected set-backs can either lead to demoralizing resignation or a renewed determination to establish new goals for which to strive. The events of the world most certainly do not turn on the results of one football game. An athletic contest of any nature represents at worse but momentary disappointments or fleeting joys. At best they represent mileposts along life's road that mark how one embraces defeat or celebrates victory and learns from both.

There is always the next game...the next season...the next challenge. For the "Bulls" that next challenge comes a week from this Saturday when they travel again northward to face the University of Connecticut. What this team learned from last evening's loss will determine how they choose to approach this next contest. What they learn about this season will begin to define the possibilities for the next. What they learn from all of their athletic endeavors will in part define how each embraces the balance of their lives. None of us are immune from the peaks and valleys that we each transverse along our individual journeys of life. Sports has a way of crystallizing more emphatically such impassioned efforts. The games in and of themselves are merely games. It is the intrinsic values derived from the competition - win or lose - wherein lies the magic of transformation. Win or lose, we are all the better for having competed.

Nevertheless, I'd still like to "bonk" on the head the callous person who said, "All good things must come to an end." We Bull fans we're quite contented with the status quo of an undefeated and prefect 6 & 0 season. Go Bulls!! Look out UConn. We're not in the best frame of mind.

Thursday, October 18

"Where's My Skillet When I Need It?"

I have decided that Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson is most deserving of a resounding "Bonk!" on the top of his skull from my trusty cast iron avenging skillet! The woefully misguided Thompson, Democratic Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, instructed his staff members to receive inoculation and immunization vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, among other commutable diseases, prior to traveling on fact-finding trips to the recent NASCAR events in Talladega, Alabama and Charlotte, North Carolina. Apparently "NASCAR Cooties" is a disease of dire consequence.

I need to clarify that I am not by any stretch of the imagination a "die hard" NASCAR fan. I only occasionally watch a televised scheduled event when there isn't an alternative professional football game or golf tournament to lull me to sleep on a Sunday afternoon. Off hand I can, if asked, name several of the more prominent drivers, their respective car numbers, their team sponsors, and, if pressed, take a stab at the automobile manufacturers each represents. I have attended in past years only two races, one in Daytona Beach and the other at the season ending race in Homestead, Florida. I enjoyed both, but continuing to do so is not on my short list of things to pursue again.

What grips my tail about this inoculation debacle is Representative Thompson's ignorant insensitivity and reckless arrogance...and you know how I rail against arrogance. (Bonk!! Bennie...there's one for starters!) Although the voiced reason for sending his staffers to these two large NASCAR events, "to study health issues at events involving mass gatherings," has acceptable and reasonable motives, to suggest, however, by inference that by doing so he was exposing his employees to the scourge of social disease among the thousand of event attendees lacks even minuscule rationalization. As may be predicted, Bennie lamely defended his ill-advised remarks by suggesting that they were (here's a shocker) "taken out of context and maliciously blown out of proportion." Bonk!! Here's the deal, Bennie. If you keep on opening your unguarded trap, flies are going to go exploring and feast on the crap that keeps coming out of your mouth!

NASCAR fans were expectantly outraged at Representative Thompson's stupid "suggestion," and rightfully so. One can hardly let such vapid stupidity go unchallenged. Said North Carolina Representative Patrick McHenry (cool name) and himself an ardent NASCAR fan, "It's the NASCAR fans who should get immunized against Washington officials, not the other way around." Trust me, if there was such a shot available, I'd be pulling my pants down in front of Bennie right now! Better yet, let me loose in Washington and within a week's time I would have wielded my avenging iron skillet through the hallowed halls of Congress, knocking even further senseless these indignant and self-righteous idiots back to the backwaters from whence they came. Bonk!! Bonk!! Bonk!! "Your empty cranium has a nice ring to it, Bennie."

The Secret's Out...

Game Day. Actually "Game Night." Our University of South Florida "Bulls," currently ranked as the Number 2 best college football team in the nation, has traveled to New Jersey to play the Rutgers "Scarlet Knights" this evening. The contest is be nationally televised, permitting the individuals who determine the weekly ranking, plus thousand upon thousands of skeptical football fans who don't believe our home team is worthy or deserving of such a lofty perch, will watch the game, as will I, with varying selfishly defined expectations and hoped for outcomes. It has been observed that when two of the more popular professional football teams match up in the Super Bowl, retail sales in the team's respective home towns drop off to almost zero. I dare say that with "Bull Mania" at fever pitch here in the Tampa Bay area, tonight's contest will find the local Wal-Mart stores vast echo chambers.

Rather than stay home this evening to watch the game in the comfort of our own living room, Judi and I have opted to travel to a local family sports pub to cast our lot with what we anticipate will be dozens of other like minded Bull's fans. We'll either drink a toast to victory together or drown our mutual disappointments in like manner should the game's outcome be otherwise. As for daughter Megan, a senior at USF and a marketing intern in the athletic department, we have yet to hear her plans. No doubt she will be among fellow students who will live or die with every play. But I do know one thing...she will be wearing her "lucky underwear." This revelation just came to my attention earlier this week, as "Mother" spilled this can of susposed secret beans. Seems Meg began this superstitious practice the first game of the season and has continued to do so for the next five games...all victories. Personally I firmly believe that superstitious ritual contributes no part in any endeavor of life. That outcomes, especially in sports, are based solely on human effort. However, just to hedge my bets, I am going to suggest that Judi give Meg a phone call today and strongly advise that her present affiliation with such "foolishness" continue unabated. One can never be too careful. Go Bulls!!

Wednesday, October 17


A regional grocery store chain, formerly recognized for eons as Kash-N-Karry, has undergone in recent years a metamorphosis and re-emerged under the new corporate logo, "Sweetbay." I was never enamored with the moniker Kash-N-Karry, believing it was most likely coined by a collection of otherwise bored ad-men who placed a wad of potential name brands in a hat and the name Kash-N-Karry won by default. Perhaps "Sweetbay" survived such a similar process. Sounds a "little lite in the loafers" to suit me. "Hey Burt...why don't you run down to Sweetbay and pick us up a couple of six packs of beer?" Just doesn't have quite the same manly ring to it. But I digress...

Not only did the name change, but the entire corporate image underwent a major face lift with completely revamped interiors designed to invoke, I suppose, the ambiance of a country store of old. On the whole, the improvements make for a much more enjoyable "shopping experience." Not that I put much stock into that type of purposeful allure, as I'm usually in my neighborhood store just long enough to find the milk and cookies. Keep all the food stuff in the same location from week to week and I'm generally satisfied.

One of the neat little nuances that I've learned to appreciate is to give all the employees name tags that have an inquiry printed just below their names. "Ask me about..?" Some have the expected, "my children, my grandchildren, my dog, etc." One young man who waits on me frequently wishes customers to ask him about "Football." Devion and I have become accustomed to now conversing for a few moments about the exploits of various college football teams. His face lites up with a warm smile when he gets to expound on his football theories and predictions. I like this "getting to know me" approach to customer service. It adds an always needed and appreciated human touch to what otherwise would be a very sterile and predictable interaction.

On recent forays into this establishment I have been "checked out" by a new female college-aged cashier who has the following "Ask Me" question on her name tag. "Ask Me About The Word for The Day." Being somewhat of an amature etymologist myself and pretty sure I would recognize and be able to define whatever word she offered, I was naturally intrigued to discover her daily offering. The word was "eudaemonism." She stumped me. She has stumped me several times since. Now when I am on my frequent milk and cookies run, I look forward to her attempts to stump me yet another time. Sweetbay may not be the name I would have selected to identify this grocery chain, but it has a few interesting wrinkles that one wouldn't expect to make the "shopping experience" even more so.

The definition of "eudaemonism?" You can look it up. It's in your friendly Funk & Wagnel.

Monday, October 15

A Little Sunday Relaxation...

People who chose not to live in Florida most often comment that there are no changing of the seasons. Oh contrair mon amie! We Floridians enjoy all four, football, basketball, and hockey! Tongue in cheek aside, this is the time of year when we Floridians who live in close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico enjoy the most. The summer's oppressive humidity has noticeably waned and the day time temperatures drop into the mid to upper 80s. For us...this is heaven.

Judi and I decided that a Sunday afternoon at the beach yesterday was just what our souls longed for. Off to Pass A Grille Beach we trekked, which is the southernmost beach in our county and a short twenty minute ride from our home. The photograph above is looking southwestward along this stretch of powdery sand. Thousands of tourist flock to our beaches every summer. We thank you. The money you spend allows our state to flourish without a state income tax. We also are most appreciative when you pack up and return to your colder climes, as this leaves our pristine beaches uncrowded and more accessible for we "locals" who, for the preceding summer months, have been sequestered in our air conditioned abodes. We come out of hibernation in the fall and thoroughly enjoy the spoils of our long wait.

Arriving gulf side at around 3 p.m., we had our choice of waterside spots, choosing to unfolded our blanket in close proximity to a young couple who were both sleeping sounding on their beach chairs. The woman, wearing a bikini swimsuit, was about as pregnant as a female could possibly be and not be in the throes of giving birth at that very moment. Judi and I kept a wary eye on her throughout the afternoon just in case the latter event came to fruition right before our very eyes. Later we observed the husband taking photographs of his lovely wife with his cell phone, making sure that he captured her bountiful and most feminine profile in the lens against the surf as a backdrop, backing up a number of steps to make sure, I suppose, that some view of the Gulf of Mexico could be detected in the final composition. They laughed and admired the images recorded on their camera phone. I smiled too, hoping that her delivery (probably happened today!) was successful and that one day this new mother would share these special photos with her son or daughter. "See sweetie? This is what Mommy looked like just before God gave you to me!" That would be cool.

The world may be ceaselessly wagging woe upon itself, but for one Sunday afternoon at the beach, God was truly in His Heaven and all was right with the world." We are blessed to live where we do. Here in our neck of the woods the season for soaking in the fall sun at the beach is upon us. "Pass the sunscreen please. "

"We're Number Two!! We're Number Two!!"

I know...I know I said that I wouldn't allow this blog to turn into a "sports" forum, but allow me to brag on our home town college football team, the University of South Florida "Bulls," who this week moved up once again in the national rankings to the Number Two slot!!

"We're Number Two!! We're Number Two!!"

Okay, I admit that we are still one ranking shy of being considered - for this week at least - the best college football team in America. That honor is currently held by "The" Ohio State University, who has vanquished previously seven opponents in a row, albeit their competition thus far has been less than stellar, if one considers Youngstown State, Akron and Kent State to be examples of football "powerhouses." Most co-ed cheer leading squads could beat those teams. But I must admit that the "Buckeyes" compete in a fairly competitive conference - still inferior to the Southeast Conference - but Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan are no slouches.

My wife, Judi, hails from Columbus and her sister and brother still reside in that fair city, where "Buckeye" football is akin to a cult. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to rag on them about their football fortunes, which came to beautiful fruition when the Florida "Gators" beat the "Buckeyes" this past January for the NCAA National Championship. They're still smarting from that spanking! To pit another Florida football team against them for the up-coming National Championship would be so sweet! But, both teams are a long way still from claiming that berth. The rest of the formidable season for both squads remains dead ahead.

For this week at least, the USF Bulls can lay claim to achieving the most loafty and heretofore unimaginable Number Two ranking for a football team that only 11 years ago fielded its first team ever. You've come a long way baby. Enjoy the journey.

Friday, October 12

"Gee...That Tune Sounds So Familiar."

Guess who came to lunch today? Euphemistically called "The Most Powerful Man In The Free World" (and I don't mean Donald Trump), George Walker Bush, our nation's president, is just down the road about a mile from where I pen this missive munching on luke-warm chicken and lumpy mashed potatoes at - stand by and grab your wallets and pocketbooks - a $25,000 a plate, VIP guest luncheon! Why I wasn't invited to be among such high-rollers has me profoundly disappointed. Far be it for me to disparage our President - I voted for him twice - but when he decides to drop by the neighborhood for a bite to eat, life, as we know, becomes a major inconvenience.

My office is located on the major byway on which the President's motorcade passed. The Union Army's General William Tecumseh Sherman had far fewer soldiers accompanying him on his infamous "March to the Sea" than were the number of police officers that swarmed over ever inch of the route that the President's convoy traveled. Every intersecting road along the route was blocked off and guarded by a police cruiser and orange traffic cones. The cones reminded me of Halloween candy corn. For a half hour before the motorcade got underway, the road was made void of any vehicular traffic. Commerce came to a virtual standstill.

On-lookers came out of their places of businesses, I among them, to get a glimpse of the President entourage as they passed by in a blur. A dozen or so motorcycle riding officers lead the possession, followed by an equal number of police cruisers, all with sirens blaring. I don't know who these police officers were trying to warn...there wasn't a non-convoy vehicle of any description within a half mile of the President's motorcade! Within the main body of the convoy were two vehicles containing the secrete service contingency, followed by two identical black stretch limousines, both festooned with fender-mounted miniature flags adorned with the Presidential Seal. There was no way to tell in which of the two limousines the President was a passenger, the windows being tinted dark. I took no chances...I waved at both. Following immediately behind the limousines were a couple of more vehicles containing additional secrete service personnel, a menacing-looking truck transporting the Sheriff Department's SWAT Team, then two ambulances, and finally several more police cruisers. Just as quickly as they came over the horizon to the east, they disappeared to the west. The road in front of my office wasn't again released to regular traffic for at least a half-hour. I guess the local authorities were hedging their options just in case the President decided he didn't particularly like the lunch menu and would want to be transported immediately back to Air Force One.

Everything has now returned to normal. The President will spend this evening in Miami at another grossly over-inflated dinner fundraiser. With any luck he'll arrive just in time to totally ensnare that city's evening rush hour traffic. Jeez...what is that tune that keeps floating through my brain? "Dum, dumdy-dum, de-dumdy, de-dumpty, dum, dum ..." Oh, yes..."Hail To The Chief." Have a nice flight, Mr. President, and good riddance.

Tuesday, October 9

"Not So Much..."

In politics and social norms, I'm about as conservative as a person can be. But as to personal freedoms and the expression of same, I tend to be very liberal. What you choose to do is your business as long as it doesn't require me to alter my personal freedoms. If a person wishes to wear their pants on backwards, so be it. I think it looks pretty ridiculous, but I'm not the one walking down the street with a thousand pair of eyes staring back at me. Which brings me to my point; tattoos and body piercings. As a lingering craze, I wish that it would soon run it's course.

When I was in high school the fashionable thing for we guys to do was wear socks that matched the same color as our shirts. In college the really "cool" fraternity boys would tuck the alpaca sweaters into their khaki slacks and blouse the sleeves of the sweater under so that the cuffs of our neatly starched oxford cloth shirts would show. I long ago gave up socks that are any color other than dark blue or black, and I no longer stuff my sweater into my pants. I do, when I can get away with it, still blouse my sweater sleeves. (Drives my dear wife batty!) The thought back then, however, of getting a tattoo or, perish the thought, piercing any part of one's body in order to have a convenient place to hang jewelry was as foreign to us as cell phones. Tattoos and body piercings today are certainly just as prevalent as are cell phones, if not more so.

Tattoos on men don't bother me so much. They have been in vogue pretty much for decades. A guy sporting a tattoo on his shoulder or forearm that says "Mom" or the "U.S.S. Enterprise" I understand. It's the string of barbed wire or bandoleer of ammunition around the guy's upper arm or thigh that I don't get. Heck, I almost passed out when I had my fingered pricked to have my blood test prior to getting married. I can't begin to imagine the excruciating pain that must be involved to have anything more invasion performed on one's skin! And I just continue to have difficulty adjusting to the sight of man with pierced ears. Maybe it's just me, but it just strikes me as being unnecessarily effeminate. I realize that many manly-men have gone that route, but to see a professional football player remove his helmet to reveal diamond studs in each ear still doesn't sit quite well with me.

What really grabs my attention is seeing so many girls and women liberally and unabashedly displaying all manner of tattoos. Some look like walking billboards for all manner of creepy-crawlies, abstract designs, potted plants, symbols, and far-eastern hieroglyphics...and they are about as discretely hidden as a pimple on one's nose! Then there are the more adventurous souls who have determined that one pair of pierced ear rings just ain't gonna cut it. No, they have adorned their face with metal loops by the dozens around their outer ears, and for good measure several more through their lips and nose! And this is suppose to be attractive? In the eye of the beholder I suppose...

Be assured that I am not in favor of returning to the days when the most outlandish fashion statement one dare make would be to wear colored sock to match one's dress shirt. But it would be a nice change to appreciate the beauty of the human form without the need for so much artificial adornment. Maybe it's just me. I am getting older in spite of my best efforts to do otherwise.

Wednesday, October 3

I Despise Arrogance!!

Each weekday morning I stop by a local convenience store to purchase a cup of coffee to enjoy during my commute to the office. This morning's visit was otherwise uneventful except for the presence of an older unoccupied and poorly maintained foreign made sedan that was parked, not in an individually marked space, but caddy-corner so as to take up two spaces. I probably would have payed little note to this observation were it not for the added facts that the car was unoccupied, the motor was running, and the radio was blaring at the top of its range. The ear-splitting sounds emanating from this vehicle...I hesitate to call them "music"...were so loud that I dare say they could be clearly discerned in an adjacent zip code. The owner of this vehicle was easily identifiable as he purposefully displayed a "kiss my rear end" swagger as he sauntered aimlessly around the convenience store as though the entire world's population was waiting with bated breath to observe his next "cool" move. Exiting the store...catch this...he walked slowly around his car several times, coyly casting glances in all directions to see if any one was looking his way, finally entered the car, turned up the volume yet another ten decibels, put the car in gear and roared off with the tires screaming and smoking in protest. I certainly was impressed!

The comic George Carlin once suggested that all motorist should be equipped with a bow and a quiver of arrows that had little flags attached with the word "stupid!" These arrows would be utilized when one motorist observed another motorist doing something asininely "stupid," like coming to an intersection with one's turn signal indicating a left turn then making a right turn across traffic. "Zonk!!" That's the sound the arrow makes as it's suction cup makes contact with the vehicle's trunk. Everyone who followed this particular vehicle would then take added precautions to steer a wider berth, being pretty assured that the operator was not of sound mind. This morning I wish I had such a supply of arrows, although I seriously doubt that I would have restricted my aim solely and exclusivley to the automobile.

Some people would more kindly classify the individual at the convenience store as being "rude" and "inconsiderate." For me those labels don't quite cover his behavior. I call it blatant arrogance. I despise arrogance! Despise it with a burning passion! Personal observations of such misguided displays of false superiority, conceit, and self-importance makes me wish I had a large cast-iron skillet to whack purveyors of these behaviors squarely across their mouth. "Bonk!! That's the sound the skillet would make as it made contact with their empty skulls!

As much as I would wish to be given vigilantly license to "bonk" away to me heart's content, laying low all the arrogant fools I inevitably encounter, I have learned to restraint my wrath to less retaliatory remedies. Example... I stopped by the local neighborhood post office recently to drop off a letter. Exiting the building I encountered a well-heeled lady of no little means herself exiting her high-priced Mercedes. Problem... She had parked in a clearly marked handicap space. Observation... No visible blue handicap sticker was hanging from her rear-view mirror. Said I, "Where is your handicap permit? "What?" said she. "You're parked in a handicap parking space and I don't see that you have permission to do so," said I. "I'm only going to be a few minutes," said she. "Fine," said I. "That will be just enough time for me to let the air out of your front tires." "What!?!" said she. Said I, "When the police get here, I want to make sure that your car is clearly observed to be parked illegally." "You can't do that!!" said she. "Try me," said I. She moved her car.

"Bonk!!" The skillet wielding vigilante strikes again!!

Monday, October 1


The daily news outlets scream that the world is rapidly going to hell in a gigantic hand basket. But for yours truly, I am content with my lot in life based on two events that occurred this past weekend.

First of all, our home town University of South Florida "Bulls" defeated convincingly the University of West Virginia "Mountaineers" this past Friday evening 21 - 13. I was among the 65,018 fans who filled Raymond James Stadium to witness this historic event. "Historic" not in the sense of this particular game, as we also defeated the "Mountaineers" as equally convincingly at their home last season. It rose to the level of historic because the game was televised nationally, because we were ranked 18th in the country and the "Mountaineers" were ranked number 5. Historic because the USF football program is only 11 years old. Historic because we jumped in the polls from number 18th last week to number 6 this week. Talk about your David and Goliath story! The entire Tampa Bay metropolitan area is ecstatic over the meteoric rise of the USF athletic fortunes. Included in that number is my daughter, Megan, who only a couple of weeks ago was employed by athletic department, and my fanatic wife, who has threatened to dye all of her underwear "green & gold!" I can live with that, but when she decides to paint her entire body green and gold and wear a bull's horn helmet...I may have a slight problem with that.

Secondly.... Previously I have posted about how thoroughly discouraged I have been over my woefully pitiful golf game. Yesterday I timidly ventured back onto the links in Orlando and broke 100! Admittedly my 98 score was still 26 strokes above par, but I managed to complete the round without maming or killing anyone, or destroying any private property. It's the little things in life that make me happy.

Did I mention that "Life Is Good!?!"