Wednesday, March 16, 2005


It's Been a While

Three things have kept me off the blog. Work, baseball and a severe meltdown on the new laptop.

The job.
Work has been exceptional busy at a time in the retail universe when it should be excruciatingly routine. The months of February and March for most normal people (with real jobs) are unremarkable, never-ending quagmires of time interrupted by infinite college basketball coverage. But to a retailer these months usually represent unfettered freedom. Freedom from the four month build-up and assault on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Freedom from the After Thanksgiving and After Christmas sales. Freedom from the January inventory preparations and the 5 days it takes to complete the inventory. Freedom from resetting every shelf, fixture and floor for the new Spring season which is now upon us. We retailers should be on cruise control right now but for some reason we're still charging hard without enough time at the end of the day.
This is the time of year for anyone in retail with more than a year under their belt to be on vacation, just back from vacation or about to go on vacation. For those on vacation right now, we hate them. They're dearly missed because of all the work to be done and everyone of us but them deserves to be in their shoes. For those just back from vacation, we hate them, too. They look like they're back but they're not. They drift and wonder from miserable slave to miserable slave sharing their adventures and fun of the prior week and ask, "So, what all went on here? D'I miss anything?" Did they miss anything? While they were gone last week there was more work than anyone could ever remember and the entire retail industry was on the brink of total collapse. They missed every minute of it. To make matters worse their brain is still out on the slopes or beach, a good three days behind the head here at work that ought to contain it.
Then there's me. The most resented of the three vacation types. I'm the guy who's about to go on vacation and makes damn sure everyone is well aware of the pending catastrophic hell which is about to consume each and everyone of their troubled lives. Much like the brain that stays on vacation when it's home cranium returns to work, my brain leaves early for vacation. It's currently in the shade of a palapa with a fat book and good cigar in southern Baja. Meanwhile, I, and my vacant cranium, slog through the week hoping that the weather is still good in Baja by the time we catch up to it. Until then, there's much work and many projects to reschedule into next week while I'm away.... there's no brain on hand to handle it right now.

Baseball. The good time consumer.
Here in Southern California Little League Baseball is a near year-round enterprise that I participate in as a coach. As soon as Fall Ball ends in late November, from a September start, it's back to the fields for Spring sign-ups in December. Try outs for the '05 season are in January, the first practices start in February, and the games begin in March and run through June. Each year the teams are put together after all the nefarious horse-trading and underhanded team stacking has been completed by the handful of elite Coaching Royalty. We're supposed to believe it's pure coincidence that one team in each division can pull together most of last years All-Star team while the rest of us get squads primarily loaded with spasmodic little monkeys who couldn't hit the dirt in front of them with a ball.
I'm a wee bit fortunate this year to have a team that has a healthy number of kids who've been in the league for a few years. At least they know which way to run and can easily throw the ball from third to first. But, like any team without a member of the Coaching Royalty on our staff we've got an equally healthy number of the aforementioned spasmodic little monkeys. This time of year practices are short, cold and dark, starting at 4 PM and ending around 5 / 5:30 as far as we can stretch the daylight. To top it off, we had 8 February practices completely rained out. Our first game was held after only two practices on a make shift field as the regular fields were drying out. We hardly knew who could do what with a bat and ball or which kids even had a basic grasp of the game. We lost that game.
Since then we've had three practices between each game, settled our infield and pitching and have won the last two. We may have some good little monkeys after all.

The meltdown of the new laptop.
Two words: Frozen stiff. Five days ago in the middle of a post to this blog, (now out dated and so deleted) , I walked away to make the Lad his dinner. Upon my return 20 minutes later the normally twirling and twisting screen saver that says, "I'm getting dizzy!" was very still and not getting very dizzy at all. I threw all the advanced tricks I know at it; I tapped the touch pad, hit control-alt-delete, pressed escape, turn on, turn off. Nuthin'. To my astonishment, none of them worked. So, tomorrow between the hours of light and dark a geek will show up with several new chips, cards and drivers to screw into place and hopefully get it back to it's normal hot rod qualities.
I'm currently on the old wood burning Compaq running Windows 98 after excavating it from under several months of things that we were able to balance on the keyboard, monitor and box. Incredible. This software and computer are now over 7 years old, (which in technology years stretches back to the Kennedy administration), and compared to the new malfunctioning hot rod laptop it's as fast and nimble as a river barge. But here I am getting somewhere on it.

If possible I'll send a few posts from the palapa where my brain is currently snoozing. (If the geek can get the hot rod started). -Wb

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Thank God for the Middle East these days!

Were it not for the Middle East and the far reaching ripples of freedom that George W. Bush sent into motion, we wouldn't have much good news to feast on lately.

It's bad news that the Michael Jackson trial is under way. It leads off all news casts at the top and bottom of each hour. Out here in California we all but have the Michael Jackson Molestation Trial channel. Did you see what was on MJMT this afternoon? It was file footage of Michael Jackson getting out of a black SUV and waving! Did they show an aerial shot of his Neverland Ranch with sheriff's cars and crime scene vans lining the drive way? Yep! Four times! The spooky freak ought to be in jail for the simple admission on video that he sleeps in the same bed with little boys. At least lock him up for that stupid little nose of his.

It's bad news that the good people of West Virginia don't find some way to get Robert Byrd to stop embarrassing them and get his senile old ass off the stage. This week the nutty Senator, a current member of the minority Democratic party since dirt cooled off, (and a former member of the KKK) was upset that the majority GOP leadership had plans to make a Senate rule that would prevent the Democrats from abusing the judicial nomination process for the past four years. Never in Senate history had the minority party invoked the filibuster rule to block a President's judicial appointments. The GOP wants to make sure this unprecedented and cowardly option isn't available to the obstructionists for this term. Because the GOP leadership wants to create a rule in the Senate to restore the tradition of allowing judicial appointees a fair and balanced review and up or down vote in the Senate, Robert KKK Byrd has compared the Republicans to Nazi's in Hitler's Germany. The Nazis? Hitler? Yes, keeping minority party members of the Senate from obstructing the process of confirming or denying the President's judicial appointees is akin to the extermination of millions of Jews and the invasion of all of Europe. I don't know about you, but I see a strong resemblance in this proposed United States Senate rule change and Hitler's extermination of Jews and the invasions of Poland, France, Belgium, Russia, North Africa, Norway..... With this rule change hanging over the Senate's chamber now I know how the Jews and tens of millions of Europe's citizens felt throughout World War II, and I don't like it one bit.

It's bad news, too, that the Supreme Court of the United States of America can't let those same United States in it's august title decide a few things on their own through elected local councils, state congresses, officials, judges and governorships. The latest issue that 50 states and their elected legislators and governors aren't allowed to deliberate over is the age of a criminal qualified for a ride on Ol' Sparky or a dirt nap injection. Anyone raping, beating, stabbing and then drowning your sister/daughter/wife/mother, who is only 17 years and 364 days old at the time he commits this brutal crime, is now ineligible for the death penalty. Why? Because it seems to be the trend of our national consensus to make the death penalty age 18, and, internationally speaking, it's just so passé nowadays to execute these immature children. (But, it is OK for 12 year olds to get abortions without their parent's knowledge or consent, or, for the sake of convenience to kill a partially born baby just before her knees and feet pop out of the womb.) Never mind that my own 9 year old son knows that it's morally wrong to take one of his fish out of the water and let it die, but a young adult committing the murder of a fellow human being isn't thought to fully understand and appreciate what's right and wrong and doesn't possess the faculties to control himself. But beyond the issue of the death penalty ruling handed down from The Nine Almighties, is why in hell can't these men in black stay out of our legislative or moral state level issues? It's none of their business how each state wants to administer it's justice and establish it's laws pertaining to flag burning, gay marriage, sodomy, abortion, busing, prison segregation, voting, displaying of crosses and ten commandments and on and on and on. We vote for our representatives to avoid precisely what this court has been doing for the last 30 years. Dictating through judicial fiat laws that never saw a deliberative body at the state or federal level. No wonder liberals love the judiciary, it's the only way they can get their stupid ideas to stick. We have 50 different states because each state is, and wants to be, it's own entity for the good of the nation as a whole. Almost 250 years ago some ingenious men, (much smarter than most of today's Supremes for sure), with providential foresight in my opinion, created a form of government that has blossomed into the greatest nation the world has ever experienced. Why these folks on the Supreme Court seem hellbent on beavering away at the dilution and weakening of our Constitution is beyond me. We may as well erase all the state borders and send all our elected officials home. The nine unelected, unaccountable, self-important and lifetime appointees to the Supreme Court of America will decide everything for us.

That's the bad news. The good news is coming from half a world away in the stone-age hell holes of the Middle East.

In his January Inaugural Address, Mr. Bush told the oppressed peoples and dissidents of the world, "When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." The feverish liberals, predictably, went off the sky-is-falling charts with that one. How could he say that? Are we to send troops and tanks to every tyrant's capital when protest breaks out in the streets? What a stupid, un-nuanced cowboy! Evidently, the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt heard the message with a different perspective. Each of these regimes has made extraordinary moves lately to allow some form of democracy to stick it's nose into their tents. Witnessing the scarred and brutalized citizenry of the worst-of-the-worst hell holes in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq, successfully and jubilantly vote their way into the 21st century has provided strong evidence that their days are numbered, and could end painfully, if they don't get on the democracy wave sweeping the region. That's good news.

Israel and Palestine have re-engaged in discussions and Abbas almost seems genuine about conducting these talks in a reasonable fashion. That's good news.

Lebanon's Syrian controlled puppet regime looked out the window and called it quits this week. The wave of freedom has emboldened this oppressed society to take to the streets demanding immediate withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. That's good news.

Dissidents within Syria are beginning to speak out. That's good news.

Mubarak has floated the idea of limited elections in Egypt. IN EGYPT. That's good news.

Saudi Arabia will hold limited elections. For men only, but it's a start. That's good news.

After the voting in Iraq all parties and factions waited peacefully for the results. When the results were announced the much anticipated civil war didn't occur. In fact there's good old fashioned horse-trading, debate and negotiating breaking out among myriad parties and factions as Iraqis take their first nascent steps toward a representative government. That's good news.

Thank God for the Middle East! (Where's the Supreme Court decision on that? Can I still say, "thank God" over an unregulated interstate communications network?) -Wb

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