A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ADHD Blog Writer’s Block

Move along now! There’s nothing to see least not today. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, but, well, okay, I can’t focus on any one topic to make it worthwhile.

Oh, there’s plenty going on in my world. The job is good, but it leaves me mentally exhausted at night. My coding class is going into the home stretch, with the actual certification examination scheduled for November 5. Between these two poles are my everyday life and all of its obligations. In short, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by it all. I have too much on my, strike that, I have so much going on that I feel like I’m carrying two full plates at once. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — I’ve been known to accomplish such a feat at various Chinese buffets in my area — but sometimes the weight of the contents can strain your arms.

I’ve fallen off the exercise wagon. I haven’t used my stationary bicycle in weeks; ordinarily I would do at least 25 minutes a day, or about five miles. Three times a week I would go to cardio rehab, but this month my heart hasn’t been in it. (ba boom ching!) There are various other reasons: a cold one week, car trouble the next, and a spell of very humid weather which by all rights should have departed with the summer season last week.

Would you believe I’m working up a sweat while I’m writing this entry? That’s how humid it is!

Beyond my life, the world is plodding along. The Philadelphia Phillies found their bats again after an eight game losing streak. They are now on the verge of setting a new franchise record of 102 victories in a single season if they can sweep the Atlanta Braves tonight. In the regular season, a sweep of the Braves would be a tall order, but stranger things have happened lately. After tonight, all eyes will be on the post season, and I hope the Phillies players get a few days rest before the slate is wiped clean for the start on Saturday.

The political world has been rather ho-hum lately. There’s been no clear front runner yet in the Republican presidential nominee race. All of the straw polls — those self-inflated media events that are treated as one big party wherever and whenever they happen — have not produced any one viable candidate. Oh yeah, Bachmann took Iowa, Romney won in Michigan, and Cain wowed them in Florida (I suspect a massive free pizza giveaway to the party faithful there), and the shadow of Perry looming over everything else. Palin has become a wallflower, dressing up nicely and making waves once in awhile as she awaits the right moment to join the dance.

The big scandal of the week involves a wardrobe malfunction on Dancing with the Stars, when television talking head Nancy Grace spilled out of her costume, and revealed that she does have at least one nipple. Naturally, the still pictures and a clumsily edited video version have become an Internet sensation. Nancy has denied that it happened at all, which is not the route to take. She should (okay, I’m getting this out of my system now) bare all on an episode of her own show, come clean about the ensuing scandal, and perhaps flash the other one. After all, these things do come in pairs!

Did I use the word scandal? Alas, it is much ado about nothing.

Anne Marie is in mourning: two of her favorite blogs have decided to cease. There will be no more “Undie Monday” (a weekly feature of scantily clad men in undershorts) as that blogger has decided to stop writing. I can’t say that I blame him. I enjoy blogging myself, even if the entire concept comes off as an egotistical exercise for many writers. On the down side, the pay is non-existent and the benefits suck! Don’t even ask about a retirement plan.

I’ve contemplated taking a similar break, at least until my coding class is finished. Honestly, I don’t know what to do yet. I’m still mulling over my options. So come back Friday; better yet make it Saturday. If I’m here, I’m here. If not, then go on and live your lives, balancing as many full plates as you can handle at the buffet of life. Check back every few days; I may be here after I rest my arms.

(Thank you for reading; this is my 600th post, believe it or not! Go Phillies!!!!!!!!!!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Adios, Summer

Today, autumn begins, and many of us are welcoming the change this year. We are looking forward to cooler temperatures, hopefully drier conditions, and colorful displays of foliage that could dazzle our senses. We are looking forward also because we don’t want to look back at a largely disappointing summer season.

To put it bluntly: summer, you were a bitch this year. First, you gave us long stretches of hot weather that was too dry for our crops. Then you ended with several intense periods of very wet weather that caused untold damage in monetary terms, put our crops out of their misery, and threatened a fragile bipartisan mood in our national politics. Okay, that bipartisan mood is largely a figment of my imagination, but it was great while it lasted, which I estimate was until the end of Obama’s speech to the joint session of Congress earlier this month.

Aw, summer! Our memory of you brings visions of long, lazy days in the country, relaxing on a porch with older relatives and sipping on powdered lemonade mix as they recounted the days of their youth when life seemed simpler. Or it conjures up other memories of camping in the great outdoors with mom and dad while the kids frolicked in the woods, discovering the wonders of Mother Nature. Okay, so the old folks would gloss over the hardships of national traumas like the Great Depression and World War II, and your nature expedition could have ended badly with you suffering the withdrawal effects from the steroids which passed for acceptable medical treatment of poison ivy in the 1970s, but hey it was summer, and you were determined to have fun even if it killed you.

Personally, I am more than happy to see the summer of 2011 leave. I lost my oldest friend this summer, and I’m left with the feeling of lost opportunities which my friend never realized in his lifetime and the opportunities I missed in devoting more time to our friendship. So, I can only dwell on such thoughts only momentarily before they consume my entire day, shrug my shoulders, and console myself with the philosophy that this was the way life was meant to be (to paraphrase an old ELO song) and move on. Farewell, Nick.

On the brighter side, my tomato crop this year was an utter failure. I tried a new variety of tomato this season and the results were disappointing. In past years, I would harvest well over 100 tomatoes; this year I’ve had twenty, with maybe a dozen more still on the already withered vines. They grew to a certain size – a little larger than a pea — stopped growing and refused to ripen.

I suppose I should consider a number of other factors that affected them. There were the previous hot spells, which would have been nice if there had been an occasional rainstorm, but no such luck this growing season. All the rain came at the end of the season, resulting in a nice crop of mushrooms in my backyard. It pains me to admit that my mushrooms did better than my tomatoes this year.

All this was Mother Nature’s way of falling down laughing at my puny farming efforts. The backyard wildlife was another factor. My tomato plants were tortured by deer nibbling on the tops and one too-fat groundhog stealing the low hanging fruit from below. I must also consider that perhaps my remedy of spreading used cat litter at the plant base to discourage the groundhog may have backfired. Next year will be different, I vow somewhat unconvincingly...

The first day of fall this year will have uncharacteristic weather for the season: more rain. The forecast predicts that 1-3 inches of rain will fall today, with a 1-in-3200-percent chance of falling NASA satellite. Yes, another of our interplanetary vehicles is due to fall back to Earth today, a six ton school bus size chunk of scientific technology which will break apart into harmless bits of three ton or so pieces as it plummets out of orbit. So, if we hear the soft tick-ticking of hail on our roofs today, we might want to consider that it isn’t hail we are hearing. I can only hope that the combination of rainfall and satellite debris will destroy my mushroom crop, but this might be wishful thinking.

The new season will bring with it the promise of a baseball post-season to Philadelphia. Now this is something to look forward to! This week has not been good for our Phillies, who are enduring a season high six game losing streak as they go into a weekend series with the Mets. The team is noticeably tired, not having a day off this month since before a combination of hurricanes and tropical storms battered the Northeast, and Presidential calls for bipartisanship were heard in the halls of Congress. Admittedly, these events have nothing to do with our baseball woes, but it has been that long since the Fightin's have had a day of rest. I hope they get to rest at least one day before their post season begins.

And so, considering all this, we bid a not-so-fond farewell to a kidney-stone of a season. Adios, summer! Don’t let the autumnal equinox hit you in the ass on your way out!

(Thank you for reading! Summer, are you still here?)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Snort Notes – September 2011


With their win over the STL Cardinals on Saturday, the PHL Phillies clinched their fifth straight eastern division National League title, ensuring that they will move into the postseason. The fans celebrated with a fireworks display and the team celebrated by popping multiple cases of bubbly champagne at Citizens Bank Park. Sunday night the team was shut out, and they lost Monday's game as well.

Yep, that’s our Phillies!

So Little Leaguers, let this be a lesson to you! Lay off the sauce after you win a big victory, otherwise you’ll be worthless for the next game. Grape juice is okay, but non-alcoholic cider is verboten!

Second note to the Phillies: the fans have noticed that your hitting hasn’t been as consistent as it should be. Okay, you’ve won the right to play the postseason, but it pains us to remind you that the regular season isn’t over yet. There’s still a matter of a dozen or so games yet to be played. I’d like to see you win at least two more to get a 100 win season. Two more wins beyond that and you’ll beat the franchise record of 101 wins set in 1976 and 1977. (Thank you, Wikipedia!)


This week’s Internet sensation is the photo of a pumpkin growing on a pear tree. I’m not surprised, being it’s Iowa. However, it does make me question more than ever their right to proclaim the next biggest star of the Republican Party once every four years in the Iowa straw poll.

Let’s face it! Why should we trust them to tell the Republican faithful for whom they should vote (although this is a dilemma that I don’t have to worry about) when they can’t even grow their fruit correctly? I’d expect this type of thing to happen in La-La Land, but upright, midwestern Iowa? I could better believe it if I was still inhaling the second hand smoke from those funny cigarettes my fellow Alpha Psi members smoked when we were in college, but I haven’t been near those cigarettes in decades. (Okay, Janey, insert your comment here...)

Of course, there is a logical, non drug-induced, agriculturally-viable explanation for the pumpkin in the pear tree. The pumpkin vine has simply grown up the trunk of the tree and followed a branch to its terminus where it is now sprouting its fruit. This is not surprising for a pumpkin plant. Hell, these things are so easy to grow. All you have to do is discard your used, moldy jack-o’lantern in a compost pile after Halloween, and the next year you have a pumpkin patch.

Pumpkins sprout as easily as fear-mongering politicians in an ideological vacuum. While we’re on the subject of Republicans...


President Obama announced more of his plan to reduce the deficit through spending cuts to Medicare, and raising taxes on those making over $250,000 per year. So far, the President’s announcement has caused the usual excitement among the nation’s pundits, but of course the biggest sounds are coming from Congressional Republicans, who are acting all pissed off at the President’s plans.

I’m already onboard with Obama’s proposal, particularly since it has ticked off the GOP, and any day that the GOP is ticked off is a good day indeed. They have actually renewed their “class warfare” accusations against Obama. When will the Republican Party admit that they’re the ones that have been waging warfare against middle class America for years?

Obama believes that a mixture of spending cuts and revenue increases (by raising you know what) is simple math and not class warfare. Spending cuts only go so far. Eventually more revenue will have to be raised to meet our obligations. Please don’t take my word for it. Just ask any of the 9.1% of Americans who have not seen any revenue in their lives in months! They can tell you that spending cuts alone won’t alleviate the debt.

Better yet GOP, don’t ask them! Just keep pursuing the failed economic theories that postulate that the super rich should be able to keep their money so they can be the wonderful job creators you love to defend. Only the jobs aren’t being created, or haven’t you noticed that? Again, refer to the 9.1% of unemployed Americans. They’ll set you straight, real fast.


The self-defeating policy, which disenfranchised thousands of military personnel who happen to be gay, finally came to an end at midnight last night. Now, homosexual men and women can serve their country openly without fear of dishonorable discharge. While it was in place, the DADT policy penalized many talented soldiers and sailors who could have proven very useful in the on-going war against terrorism. This narrow-minded way of thinking only hurt all of us as a society in the long run.

Of course, there are those who will decry this progressive turn of events as undermining American society and contributing to the moral decay of our nation. The end of DADT will tick these people off no end. As I said before: it’s a good day.

(Thank you for reading. Pumpkin pear pie anyone?)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thank You, Tea Party

Dear Tea Party,

How do I ridicule thee? Let me count the adjectives!

Thou art belligerent. No, too strong! Thou art very angry. No, too subtle! Thou art hostile! Perfect!

Thou art strong-willed. No, too positive for this left-leaning blog. Thou art uncompromising! Oh, duh! Thou art as stubborn as a jackass! Perfect!

Now let’s add another adjective: blood-thirsty!

We come to this latest adjective due to the audience reaction at the Tea Party sponsored debate featuring the announced candidates for the Republican nomination for President. Moderator Wolf Blitzer posed a hypothetical situation to libertarian leaning candidate Rand Paul about an otherwise healthy young man who foregoes the cost of a health insurance policy, but ends up comatose in a hospital. Blitzer asked who should pay for his care.

Paul dug back into his own experiences and recounted a time when churches and the community would step forward and help out, instead of allowing the young man to depend on the government for his care. Blitzer followed up with a blunt question, “Should we let him die?” While Paul continued this answer, members of the audience responded with shouts of “Yeah” and applause.

The audience's shameful reaction shocked many. It was repulsive — oh, there’s another wonderful adjective for this political cult — and (dare I say) most unchristian-like. The whole episode points to the classic conflict between the economy, with its attendant costs of accomplishing results such as good health, and good old-fashioned Christian charity.

So, in this hypothetical case of this young man, we should let churches step forward and see to his needs. Okay, fine, I can see this working to a point. Volunteers could help with the man’s custodial needs, but how many church-goers will be able to keep putting money in the collection plate for other expenses like, say, medication. The pleas from the pulpit for more contributions could get old real fast, particularly now, when many in the congregation may themselves be unemployed and without health insurance. An apple pie and a ham dinner are nice (sorry for resorting to the old stereotyping of Christian churches, but I am trying to make a point), but these acts of charity won’t revive a comatose patient.

We live in a society which has developed the best medicine in the world! How can we not take advantage of this level of medical care, which incidentally was developed over many years of financial investment and blood, sweat and tears? How could members of a community hope to afford the care our critically-ill example needs to recover? Would these people seriously expect pharmaceutical companies to forgo a return on their investments and write off the cost of their product to help one patient? How could they expect hospitals to stay in business if the facilities granted deep discounts to uninsured patients?

Never mind the uninsured, what about the insured who need treatments which their policies won’t cover? Could the good churches pass the plate around again for an expensive medication that is too new and experimental for the health insurer’s tastes? The congregation's motives would be admirable, but many times it would not be practical.

Basically, the principles of good Christian charity fly in the face of one of capitalism’s darker aspects of Darwinism. This idea would dictate that only the strong survive in a pure capitalist society. The captains of industry would look upon our patient with sympathy, exclaim “Oh, well! That’s too bad!” with a shrug and move on. This is obviously the view of the Tea Party audience members who, I thought, were faithful Christians. Go figure!

We could agree that good Christianity can be bad capitalism, and leave it at that. There have been efforts over the years at compromise and make both systems work together. The Reagan era edict that emergency rooms cannot turn away patients who are uninsured may be good Christianity, but it has placed a financial burden on our medical institutions. The hospitals have survived by spreading the cost of uninsured services to other patients — like you and me.

More recently, Obamacare has sought to spread the cost of health care out more evenly to everyone through its individual mandate and tax penalty for those who don’t buy health insurance. By the way, has anyone noticed that the proposed tax penalties would cost less than a good health insurance policy? Price some policies and see for yourself. In this respect, the tax penalty may backfire on Obamacare supporters.

I won’t pretend that health insurance is a bargain these days. I also won’t pretend that today’s health insurance policies are a godsend; presently many of them are far from perfect and don’t meet the needs of their customers. The industry trend toward consumer driven high deductibles make the policies nearly useless for day-to-day health care needs. Consumers should adjust their thinking about health insurance and look upon it like they would an auto insurance or homeowners policy. People don’t need it day after day, but when an accident or catastrophe strikes, they’ll be glad that they invested in the policy.

So Tea Party, drink all this in as you ponder the wretched conduct of your members at this week’s debate. Those that applauded are an embarrassment to whatever Christian principles to which your movement clings. Of course, your public chagrin is a major win for my satirical musings. So, thank you, Tea Party, for your very biased, narrow-minded attitudes. They may ultimately prove to be bad politics, but it’s great blogging material!

(Thank you for reading. Could someone offer an unsweetened ice tea to our comatose patient? It’s the least we can do.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vacation and Remembrance

I can sum up my just concluded vacation in Cooperstown, NY with the words, “Too much rain, too much food, and not enough alcohol.” Overall, it was a nice relaxing time, but it’s good to be home again. I read two novels in the space of a week, and we did accomplish our main goals of beer and wine shopping. Still, the whole week was literally dampened by a tropical storm that had all the moisture, but necessarily the punch of a full-fledged hurricane.

We should have realized what our week would be like when Anne Marie and I drove through a torrential thunderstorm — complete with hail — in Binghamton on our first day. The next two days were cloudy with nothing falling from the sky. Then another round of intense rain on Wednesday wiped out activities for the rest of the week.

Once again we were denied the chance to ride the Glimmerglass boat on Otsego Lake. The Baseball Hall of Fame even shut down for an entire day because their employees couldn’t drive into work. The entire county was under a state of emergency, which limited travel to essential purposes only.

The weather was not kind to us or the region. I woke up one morning to find that our carpet was soaked at the back of our room. The management of the Lake Front Hotel dutifully moved us to a second floor suite and didn’t charge us for the upgrade for our last full day in Cooperstown. Further down the Susquehanna River — which has its origin a block from the hotel — the swollen channel raised havoc in places like Binghamton, Wilkes-Barre, Bloomsburg and Harrisburg.

Otherwise, we had a grand time stuffing our faces and indulging our appetite for wine and fine liquors. We marked Anne Marie’s 57th birthday with a fine meal of scallop bisque, broiled bluefish, and steak at the Doubleday Café. Most of our other meals were taken at the Lake Front Hotel Restaurant, where one night I satisfied my craving for peel n eat shrimp. Anne Marie had two raspberry cosmos; she deemed them VERY drinkworthy.

Our return travel plans got complicated due to Wednesday’s precipitation. We postponed our return by one day since the highways around Binghamton were flooded over, and we heard rumors of various closures along the New York State Thruway to the east. We didn’t like the idea of adding two hours to our normal six-hour trip by way of Albany, but that’s precisely what we had to do when we came home on Friday. That drive was longer, but not as bad since most of the flood waters from the previous day had receded enough to make the roads we took passable.

Naturally, the weekend that followed was dry. Just our luck! Although the dry spell was welcome news to the otherwise somber events marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it came too late for our vacation.

Yet it was poetic that nice weather allowed the various memorial sites in New York City and Shanksville, PA to be dedicated. It was a good day to reflect on the sacrifices of those we lost and to renew our vows that these events should never happen again. It was, to paraphrase an old Ronald Reagan campaign slogan, “Morning in America.”

I didn’t spend much time in front of the television on 9/11. The story was all too familiar with me. So, as the History Channel trotted out every foot of documentary film they could find, and as speeches were made and prayers were whispered, I went about my business of a harried Sunday on the day before I returned to work. My car needed to be inspected and groceries needed to be purchased. In short, I was able to continue my daily routine as a free American because of the sacrifices made by other Americans that day. For that I am grateful, and my thoughts about their efforts were never far from my mind.

The events of 9/11 should remind all of us how important the virtue of tolerance is in our daily lives. It was intolerance for our freedoms which brought the attacks on our soil in the first place. It was a long — and I’m talking centuries-long — intolerance of other people’s religious beliefs which fueled the hatred within our enemies.

So the 9/11 celebrations should by all rights be the perfect time for everyone to reflect on their own prejudices and figure out ways to overcome them. Good luck with that! Already the Tea Party-influenced dysfunction of our federal government gears up again even in the wake of Obama’s call for bipartisan cooperation to create more jobs. House leaders are allowing funding for disaster relief to go through, but now Republicans in the Senate are blocking the same disaster relief until it’s paid for through spending cuts.

Same old same old, just a different day. Ah, yes, it’s good to be home again.

(Thank you for reading. Stay dry, everyone!)

Friday, September 02, 2011

Meanwhile, At the National Board of Bloggers...

Counselor: Good morning, Anne Marie. I’m Charles Titsmore III, and I’ve been assigned by the National Board to review your vacation request.

Anne Marie: How do you do, Mr. Titsmore. (snorts)

Counselor: What? What’s so funny?

AM: Oh, nothing! You were saying?

Counselor: I see you have applied for some time off from the arteejee blog.

AM: Yes, just one week.

Counselor: And arteejee is your blog?

AM: Actually, it’s written by my husband, Todd. I serve as the editor-in-chief.

Counselor: And where is Todd now?

AM: He’s waiting outside. You can see him through your window.

Counselor: Oh,, does he have to press his nose against my window?

AM: No, and I’ve told him about that before. (shouting) Get down, Todd, down. Sorry!

Counselor: No problem. So, where are you going on your vacation?

AM: I’m going to Cooperstown, NY.

Counselor: That sounds nice! Todd should enjoy that.

AM: Todd? Oh, I wasn’t planning on taking him with me.

Counselor: Ah! Actually, that’s why we called you in. The Board believes that Todd should also take a week off.

AM: Really?

Counselor: Yes, we’ve reviewed his most recent entries, and in our snotty-faced opinion, he’s been getting stale of late.

AM: Stale? Oh come on, let’s be fair. In the past week alone, we’ve had an earthquake and a hurricane. Also, it’s been at least 12 hours since Michele Bachmann has said anything awe-suckingly stupid. There’s no material about which to write!

Counselor: Well, I can see your point about Michele Bachmann. She is overdue to make a gaffe; but nevertheless, Todd should...he should... What’s that noise at my door?

AM: Oh, sorry! That’s him scratching. (shouting) I’ll be out in a moment, dear!

Counselor: Anyway, he does need some time off.

AM: Why? I can leave him home alone. My cats can look after him.

Counselor: He needs to get away. Just look at the quality of his writing. Here’s something he submitted last week. “Why did Handel refuse to loan Bach money? Answer: Because he was baroque.” I don’t get it!

AM: It’s not meant for you to get, but any musicologists reading this right now are falling over laughing!

Counselor: Really?

AM: Okay, maybe not. Look, I need some down time away from him. I’m looking forward to a nice, leisurely drive north. Just me and my Zooey Deschanel CDs. If I take him along, I’ll have to listen to crap like ELO, or...or ABBA! Argghhh!

Counselor: Nevertheless, we must consider his mental condition.

AM: What’s wrong with his mental condition?

Counselor: Well, just look outside and watch him. Ever since you got here, he’s been trying to convince the board that he believes he’s a dog.

AM: Okay, so what?

Counselor: So what? Can’t you see it’s a cry for help? He needs a change of scenery. We can understand him walking around our parking lot and marking all of our cars with his urine. That’s a nice touch, but frankly the dog collar and leash are over the top. I can only approve this vacation request if you promise to take him with you.

AM: Alright, I’ll take him with me to Cooperstown...but I refuse to listen to ABBA!

Counselor: Thank you! Now I’ll just go down the hall to have your request signed off and...oh, look what he is doing now.

AM: What? Oh, I’m so sorry.

Counselor: Before you leave, Anne Marie, please curb your husband.

(Thank you for reading. This is where I leave a snarky comment, but it’s time for my walk.)