August 31, 2006

I don't think that sounds like a good idea... know, considering how much trouble her husband got into for touting in the Oval Office--Sen. Clinton touts woman for president.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)

Yet another way to waste time at home.

For some reason, I got on the computer last night. I usually don't, since computers are a thing of evil and all, and noticed right away that the kids (or to be more specific, Rebecca) had been using it. I had clicked on the Start Menu (since I have been now well-trained to do things in the most anti-intuitive way imaginable) and saw that one of the recently used programs was Internet Checkers.

In almost an instant, I deduced this had nothing to do with either Richard Nixon's cocker spaniel or Winston Churchill's family estate or an oddly-bifurcated fast food drive-through establishment or a rotund rock and roll singer or, or...what was I talking about?

OH YEAH, anyway, apparently Windows XP has a link where you can play checkers against some other weirdo retard out in the ether. It's not like real checkers where you get to slap people's hands, which is a drawback.

Anyway, I figured it might be good to see where this thing leads, so I clicked the icon (which is from a forgotten Russian Orthodox ritual) and found myself staring at a checkboard, and it even had a place at the bottom where you could "chat" with your opponent. Now supposedly there is someone else out there, but you have to figure it's really either a computer program or some crazed checker fiend you'd rather not have to talk to (unless she looks like Scarlett Johansson), so I turned that part off. No use messing up my gamesmanship by typing.

The first game started and in pretty quick fashion, I beat whomever or whatever I was playing against. Victory is addictive! I managed to beat 5 out of 6 opponents--the one time I got beaten was because of my own stupid mistakes, so I will throw that one out and say I was completely undefeated. Oh, sure, I was playing at the beginner level, but it was still quite exciting.

For checkers.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:05 PM | Comments (2)

Fortune Cookie Wisdom of the Day!

Well, the crafty Chinese have been hard at work again, and I have been gifted with the two following messages.

NUMBER ONE: Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.

Not when I've got to go to the restroom, it's not.

NUMBER 2: Someone you haven't seen for a long time will re-enter your life.

Hmmm. That might not be a good thing. I wonder if there's a way to specify exactly who it is? If so, I would have to say my friend Tall Blonde Tracy who lives up in the wilderness of Cullman County. If not, I would ask anyone else to please call ahead so that I can decide whether I'll be in town or not.

AND NOW, for your lucky numbers:

6 12 28 38 42. 21


7 16 28 32 45. 12

OOOooooh--verrrrry auspicious!

Or not.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

Yeah, well, good luck on that.

Italy coming out of Washington's shadow

Lots of blather in this one about how Italy is walking with a swagger nowadays, based on--well, based on something about having someone other than Berlusconi in charge and having troops in Lebanon.

To which I say, 'big whoop'--we are talking about Italy, after all, where governments wear out revolving doors faster than they can be made. I did happen to find this a bit on the funnyish side--

[...] The Lebanon crisis provided Prodi — whose government was given little chance of making a big impact after winning a razor-thin margin in April elections — an ideal platform for showing the world the new Italy.

Italy has no colonial history in the region and enjoys close relations with both Israel and the Arab world, making it a natural leader in peace discussions. [...]

Well, I suppose it's a bit of a stretch to recall Roman occupation of the region that lasted up until around 476, but Italy does have a relatively recent colonial history in nearby North Africa with Libya and Ethiopia, and its treatment of Muslim inhabitants during that time was about like any of the other colonial powers in the Middle East and Africa. That is, nothing to be proud of. Likewise their treatment of their Jewish population within Italy itself during the Fascist period. Again, geographically a bit remote from South Lebanon itself, but when you're dealing with populations who are still fighting over Ishmael's and Isaac's birthright, well, you know.

Obviously, things change, and Italy's past is past, but it does seem slightly unfair that certain countries are allowed to paper over their historic injustices when there's a political expedient for it, while other countries tend to remain popular targets of ill-considered hatred and derision, no matter how immaterial such criticism might be to the matter at hand.

But you know what? Big talk never did anything.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:58 PM | Comments (4)

Oh, please.

Last-ditch meeting on Iran scheduled

Folks, this is the UN we're talking about--the only concept of "last ditch" its estimable batch of yammering ninnies understand is, "Last ditch, before we go off and dig another ditch behind this one. Which will be the absolute last ditch, until we can get one dug behind THAT one. And if you do not believe us, we shall appoint a commission to discuss possible further ditching, after which a stern rebuke will be forthcoming, unless we decide to issue an ultimatum, then appoint a commission. It probably needs some study."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:18 PM | Comments (2)

Speaking of cars and computers...

Swiss police stop multitasking motorist

GENEVA (AFP) - A 34-year-old saleswoman was caught driving down a Swiss motorway while she was using her laptop computer and chatting on a handheld mobile phone, police in northeastern Switzerland said.

The driver said she was unaware of any wrongdoing and responded that she was "driving like I always do", police in the canton of St Gallen said in a statement.

A police patrol pulled her over on Wednesday afternoon after they saw her car zig-zagging along the A3 motorway near the town of Murg.

The woman was remanded to magistrate's court because of her "unreasonable behaviour", police said.

Those sophisticated Europeans!

I find it difficult to believe a saleswoman--a woman, who's job it is to sell--couldn't find a way to talk her herself out of a ticket--or as in this case, a trip to the judge.

Or maybe I'm just used to all the real estate agents around here who pretty much do the same things without impediment.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

Speaking of cars...

An interesting item this morning from regarding car repair scams being run at some SoCal Jiffy Lubes, and they also give a link to a good bit of advice on MSN Money about avoiding such scammery.

Car repair is a difficult business--there's a lot of overhead costs and labor turnover--but when you have a clientele that is basically at your mercy, the temptation to cheat can be overwhelming to some folks. But one of the greatest benefits of the Internet Age is the ability to quickly seek out information and determine if you might be getting taken for a ride by a mechanic. It is also a great aid when you find that there are things that you can easily fix yourself.

I have remarked before and it bears repeating that I could not afford to own my old Volvo if I had to rely on other people to fix it. It's an old car, but not necessarily a simple one. Having information available (and some handy skills picked up over the years) has made it much easier to deal with economically. The same can be said for our Focus. The two major problems we've had with it, the jammed ignition lock cylinder and the leaking pollen filter housing, were able to be fixed because I was able to go online and find other people who'd gotten in similar jams, and find out how to fix the thing. The ignition lock I probably saved myself $300 on, the pollen filter, probably a couple hundred.

So in addition to the help offered by the MSN article (and more comprehensive advice offered by the Federal Citizen Information Center--the folks in Pueblo, Colorado who send you pamplets), before laying down some big bucks on your car, utilize one of the most powerful information tools you have.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:33 AM | Comments (2)

World's Most Useful Blogger!

Sorry not to have anything posted this morning, but I've been working on my Boy Scout badge for helpfulness.

New Accordian Owner Skinnydan had a photograph he sent me--

--and wanted to know if I could help him date it based on the cars parked in the lot. I've done this before, too, when I ran across an undated photo of a building or project. Although you can't date something exactly, you do figure that if you have a car built in 1970 in the photo that the picture couldn't have been taken in 1940. You might not be able to get the upper age right, but at least you know the earliest time limit.

Anyway, as best as I could tell, the Mustang in the photo was the newest vehicle, which meant April of 1964 (when the Mustang was introduced) would be absolutely the earliest the photo could have been taken. No way to tell for certain if it was any later, but I kinda figure it was probably no later than about '67 or '68. For you car fans out there, the vehicles are, from left to right, a Renault Dauphine (uncertain vintage, built between 1956-'68), a VW Bug made sometime after 1958 judging by the larger back window, a '64 1/2-'67 Mustang, and a '64 or '65 Ford Fairlane. (And a big dope slap to me, because I didn't notice the Lincoln Continental parked in the upper parking lot. Looks like a '63 or '64 model, but it's a little too small to tell for sure.)

AND THEN, Miss Janis reached out to Cletus' Car Corner guys this morning to see about getting some help for repairing her bumper car. However, since they have been lax about checking their e-mail, the account had gone dormant, so as their technical assistant, I had to get that back up and running, and then track down Luther to see if he could offer some sage advice. He mentions he has been busy this summer, but I know for a fact he has spent most of his time the past few months at Godly Hollow's newly opened 7-7-7 International Magic Lotto Internet Sweepstakes Club. Anyway, I had to get him up and moving and finally did manage to get him to offer some assistance. And then I think he went back to sleep.

Now then, who else needs help!?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:25 AM | Comments (15)

August 30, 2006

It's a start, I suppose.

Alabama seniors beat national average on SAT exam

However, it is still quite a shock to learn that fully 50% of students score below average.

Sorry, that's an old joke and should have no place in such a vibrant and non-boring place as this. Please, disregard it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:21 PM | Comments (2)


Poor Miss Janis.

But at least you have compatriots who are equally adept at vehicular maneuvering.

This morning Catherine and I were outside playing with Lightning, and Catherine was holding on to the kids' new volleyball. It was a cheapo one we got at the grocery store yesterday (as I was buying turnip greens) and it wasn't quite aired up all the way.

"Cat, would you like me to get the pump and air that up for you?"


Now we have a small ball pump in the garage. It's over by my toolbox, which is over by the wall, which is on the OTHER side of the van. Usually, the van isn't pulled so far forward, though. When it's parked right you can brush around the front and get to the tools and junk, and to the hidey place for the ball pump.

This morning, however, the van was all the way up against the cabinets. Reba had missed the wooden wedge I keep on the floor to keep from pulling to far forward. No big deal--I'll just walk around the back, then scootch up the passenger side between the van and the shelves.

No dice. She had gotten too far to the right of the wooden wedge as well, and there wouldn't have been enough room for Calista Flockhart to squeeze by there, much less someone built like Hoss Cartwright.

Well, I'll be a good husband, then--go ahead and back the van out onto the driveway. AND be a good daddy--be able to get to that all-important ball pump.

I got my keys out of my pocket and hopped in and pushed the button to open the garage door and cranked up the van and decided not to mess with the mirrors to keep from Reba having to adjust them again and put it in reverse and slowly eased back and thought what a good person I am and WHAM!


I seem to have forgotten that last night I had moved the Volvo over to the other side of the driveway so Oldest could get out of the garage in the Focus. It was sitting right behind the van and WALLOP!


I got out and surveyed the damage. Honda Odyssey, with nice big plastic bumper, and NOW with that AND with two big, distinct puncture wounds caused by the top two acorn-shaped nuts on the front license plate bracket of the Volvo.

Volvo 240, no damage aside from a license plate frame that was bent back slightly so that it now follows the slight curve of the bumper, as well as a couple of stress marks on the face of my decorative Auburn University tag.

Had I not gone junkyard shopping with the express intent of finding a front license plate bracket for the express purpose of holding my decorative Auburn University tag, there probably would have been no damage to the Odyssey.

Had I adjusted the mirror, I probably would have noticed the Volvo and not hit it.

Had I not been so focused on finding a cheap plastic ball pump to pump up a cheap volleyball, I would not have had to move the van.

Had I not been such a moron, this blog post would not exist.

So, hey, there's always an upside, no?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:52 PM | Comments (16)


Ernesto Drops to Tropical Depression

Is it just me, or is there an equally palpable sense of depression amongst weather forecasters and 'Bush Controls the Weather' sorts who seemed to really, REALLY want there to be lots of destruction and Katrina Anniversary Irony? Maybe I'm just imagining it, but it does seem as though a lot of people are miffed that there isn't much going on this year.

Not to say that there won't be something pop up later in the season, weather being, after all, weather, so maybe they'll have some misery to feed on.

Just trying to look on the bright side, you know?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

The Price of Morality

Baxley calls for raising state minimum wage by $1 per hour

Democratic candidate for governor Lucy Baxley said during a rally in Birmingham today that Alabama workers deserve a “moral wage,” and she urged the state to raise the minimum wage by $1 per hour.

“I will lead the charge to increase Alabama’s minimum wage, because people who put in an honest day’s work should earn enough to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads,” Baxley said.

Raising the hourly minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 has become a key issue of Baxley’s campaign for governor. Her campaign held a rally at union hall to support her proposal.

“It is morally unacceptable that anyone working 40 hours a week still earns $5,000 less than the federal poverty line for a family of four,” Baxley said.

Kim Chandler

If a person works 40 hours per week for 52 weeks a year, he or she will work 2,080 hours per calendar year. If that person makes minimum wage now, and is given a dollar extra for each hour worked in a year, it means his or her increase in pay for a year will be $2,080.

According to the candidate, it is morally unacceptable for any wage earner to earn $5,000 less than the poverty line for a family of four. Setting aside the argument that a single person is not the same thing as a family of four persons, and that no information is given as to exactly how many persons to which this would apply, we do find that if that minimum-wage earner does get a $1 raise, he or she would still have to earn an extra $2,920 to make up the total $5,000 "shortfall."

Therefore, it is morally acceptable for a person to earn $2,920 less than the poverty line for a family of four, but anything shy of that is just wrong. Why one sum is more moral than another is not clear, and why it would not be super-duper moral to propose erasing the $5,000 gap entirely I do not know, but I suspect it might have something to do with political affiliation.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:59 AM | Comments (8)

I LOVE meetings!

Actually, not a bad one this time, which really is sort of refreshing. Although, as with all sorts of things of this nature, you eventually run into someone whose finely honed gift of businessjabber sprouts a malaprop of some sort. Witness, "we want to make sure we have everything and go the whole ten yards."

Although the actual derivation of "the whole nine yards" continues to be up for debate, bypassing that conundrum in a Nigel Tufnel-esque, "goes to 11" fashion does seem to be worthy of an attaboy.

Anyway, that's done now, and I even got to visit with Pam the Liberal for a few minutes before having to come back, so that was a nice diversion. Now then, LET'S NOT BE BORING!!

How about a Morgan Fairchild/Bo Derek catfight with CAKE!!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:30 AM | Comments (2)

Promoting Boredom!

Well, it's gonna be boring, but it's my own fault because I have a meeting this morning down the block and I have to get ready for it, SO I have to do all that mess, MEANING that not only will there be a lack of the normal junk on here, there ALSO will be a lack of junk PERIOD--normal, abnormal, or Abby Normal.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:15 AM | Comments (5)

August 29, 2006

All I got to say is...

...tomorrow better not be as boring around Possumblog as it was today, or I'll be forced to post extended passages from Reginald and Dempsey's 1854 edition of The Compendium of Supperation and Putrefaction.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:02 PM | Comments (2)


No, not quite. Jordana and Skinnydan both seem to have hit upon the same idea for their lunches, whereas I went over to Sneaky Pete's and picked up some chicken.

HOWEVER (and in an odd parallel to my earlier comments about stereotypes), as I was paying for my food, I was suddenly overtaken with an incredible craving. The Lauren Hutton Lookalike Woman was back at the griddle and mentioned to one of her coworkers that she had recently made some cornbread, and almost as soon as she had said it, I was overcome by an intense desire for a big plate of turnip greens and cornbread.

I don't know if Reba had anything in particular planned for supper tonight, but I know there's going to be at least one member of the family who's going to be sopping up pot likker with a hunk of pone.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:22 PM | Comments (6)

Time flies.

Even if you have to do dumb ol' work! Just realized it's lunchtime--in fact, it's PAST lunchtime!

I must go forage for provender else I shall swoon.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:56 PM | Comments (5)

Yoiks! And Away!

BBC's `Robin Hood' series tapes stolen

--Given to Poor

Say, that looks like a buck and a quarter quarterstaff--


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)

What is it with people like this? Part II

Go Joe! When ever anyone gets to thinking Joe Biden might have a chance, he goes and talks. The following is yet another in one of his tone-deaf pronouncements, apparently intended to appeal to people like me: Biden not worried about Southern Dems

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joseph Biden says he can hold his own in a 2008 presidential primary against Democratic contenders from the South, noting that his home state of Delaware was a "slave state."

Biden dismissed the notion that he was a "Northeastern liberal" who would have a poor showing in the South against other likely contenders such as Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee.

"Better than anybody else," Biden said, when asked on "Fox News Sunday" to rate his chances of winning Southern states.

"You don't know my state," he said. "My state was a slave state. My state is a border state. My state has the eighth-largest black population in the country. My state is anything from a Northeast liberal state." [...]

I'm sorry, but the fact that Delaware was a slave state DOES NOT make me, as a Southerner, as a citizen of a state whose capitol once served as the national capital of the Confederacy, as a person who believes the Bible teaches the equality of all men in God's sight--WANT TO VOTE FOR YOU!

It is insulting in the extreme that this twit seems to think I sit around thinking that the measure of candidate's attractiveness is based upon whether his state held slaves. Does he think this is a GOOD thing? Does he think this degraded part of American culture is worth using as a political yardstick? Does he have anyone around him to slap him in the back of the head and tell him to quit being so condescending and patronizing and stupid?

First it was Dr. Dean and his outreach to guys with Confederate flags in their pickups, and now it's Senator ProtoByrd reaching out to--whom exactly?

Well, not me. Look, I like joking about stereotypes--possums and talking slow and rednecks and stuff, but there is a difference between that, and believing the stereotypes, and attempting to pander to them in an attempt to get votes. It happens on both sides, obviously--I'm not saying it doesn't. What is instructive in all this is that certain political groups seem to get a pass when it comes to such slipshod crudity. Or maybe it's just that by now, everyone expects Joe Biden to say stupid stuff.

In any case, he has no chance of doing anything but wasting money in the South. But, hey, thanks anyway.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

What is it with people like this?

Kerry revives 2004 election allegations

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. John Kerry didn't contest the results at the time, but now that he's considering another run for the White House, he's alleging election improprieties by the Ohio Republican who oversaw the deciding vote in 2004.

An e-mail will be sent to 100,000 Democratic donors Tuesday asking them to support U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland for governor of Ohio. The bulk of the e-mail criticizes Strickland's opponent, GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, for his dual role in 2004 as President Bush's honorary Ohio campaign co-chairman and the state's top election official.

"He used the power of his state office to try to intimidate Ohioans and suppress the Democratic vote," said Kerry's e-mail.

Kerry, D-Mass., conceded the election when he lost Ohio and its 20 electoral votes. A recount requested by minor-party candidates showed Bush won by about 118,000 votes out of 5.5 million cast. But Kerry's e-mail says Blackwell "used his office to abuse our democracy and threaten basic voting rights." [...]

Move on, sir. Although wallowing in lunatic conspiracy theories is quite apparently not beneath you personally, it is beneath someone who holds the office of Senator.

Not by much, obviously, but still.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

The Churchill Wit

From my favorite Little Red Book, this from page 81:

Upon receiving an honorary degree at the University of Miami, Mr. Churchill remarked:

I am surprised that in my later life I should have become so experienced in taking degrees, when as a schoolboy I was so bad at passing examinations.

In fact, one might almost say that no one ever passed so few examinations and received so many degrees.

From this, a superficial thinker might argue that the way to get the most degrees is to fail in the most examinations.

February, 1946

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

The Wonders of Silicone

I have to tell you, silicone is something else! And I'm not even talking about the variety used in medical procedures.

For the last several months I've had a scritchy sound around the plastic parts in the Volvo's dashboard, which is pretty much par for the course in any old car, but it got to the point I couldn't stand it anymore. SO, last night when I went to get Jonathan from his Scout meeting, I stopped by the parts place and picked up a spray can of silicone lube and spritzed a few sprays in between some of the various bits and pieces in front of me and SURPRISE! No scritches!

Now, what this has to do with anything, I have no idea. I just felt the need to share.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2006

Now then.

I have stuff to do, and so you'll just have to wait to hear about all the other exciting things that happened this weekend.

Oh, who am I kidding! I'll go ahead and tell you now!


The rest of the weekend was free of drama (for the most part) and free of disaster, and I completely missed the Emmy Awards. I didn't have to cut grass, and I only had to fold up a few clothes, and the hummingbirds are in fine form, and so there you go.

NOW I'm gonna go do my paying work.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

Hooray for Hollywood!


After eating a bit and getting a shower and combing bits of metal and gravel out of my hair, it was time to head up to the movie theater.

Reba told me that morning while I was grunting with a tire and wheel on my lap that she had thought about taking the girls to go see the newest Duff girls vehicle sometime during the day. I'd heard only the most vague information about the movie, but even from that knew without a doubt that it would be a complete waste of time, and that I did NOT want to see it. Anyway, she first said she wanted to go in the morning, then at noon, then finally later that afternoon. Even though I didn't want to go see some stupid movie about stupid girls who like stupid things and say stupid things, I DID want to go to the movies--maybe Boy and I could go see the thing about animals.

So, after I had recovered we got ourselves over to the theater and got our tickets--and Cat decided she wanted to got with Jonathan and me, which was just fine. So, three for Material Girls, three for Barnyard.


Well, the premise is that animals become bipedal humanoids when we have our backs turned. Hijinx ensue.

Overall, a lot of frenetic CGI action, some moments that are actually kind of touching, the music is pretty good (heavy on the North Mississippi Allstars), and enough lame humor to keep the kids chuckling. ("Hey, Pig--dead bee in your nose." ::snort:: "Nope--another live one.")


The same thing everyone else says--udders. Next time anyone puts an udder on a bull, I'm going to scream. Look, it's a kid's cartoon--we certainly don't want hyper-realism here with all sorts of huge dangly bulljunk--but udder is the wrong direction to take. Give the girls udders, give the boys a nice smooth undercarriage. Think Ken and Barbie, guys.

And then there's just the way in which the animals are drawn--so much detail on things like cars or brik-a-brac--but all of the animals look like they're wearing animal suits. Especially the cows, who look like they've got rolled cuffs on their sleeves and cow hoof mittens. And they're smooth--shiny smooth--like they're wearing neoprene. It's very disturbing. And then there's the whole thing with milk. The cows (and all the other animals) guzzle it like it's bootleg booze, but you know, it still comes from OTHER COWS. The equivalent would be like if humans were really into drinking mass quantities of breast milk.

And then there's the whole political message--we have Sam Elliott as the bull(ish) guy who runs the show and holds the meetings and sees to it that no vicious coyotes (i.e., terrorists) eat anyone. The coyotes (i.e., terrorists) attack, and I'm sitting there screaming in my mind, "KILL THE FRIGGIN' COYOTES!!", but they are allowed to skulk away yipping after being told not to come back.

Hey, guess what? They (i.e., coyote terrorists) come back. Bigger, and badder, and more of them, and they manage to compromise national security when Junior Bull takes over (i.e., Democrats) by promising only to take a few animals at a time. Junior gets scared and decides to cut and run, but then finds out one of the animals taken by the coyotes is a little baby chicken. THEN he decides to be brave. Well, at least there SOMEthing that finally gets his attention. So, big climactic fight like at Pride Rock in the Lion King, and ONCE AGAIN, same situation comes up, and once again I'm screaming in my head, "KILL THE COYOTE NOW!!" and ONCE MORE, the main bad guy gets away, although not before getting walloped in the backside with a makeshift golf club. LIKE THAT'S GONNA STOP HIM!

I suppose this is supposed to make us vicariously feel good about being merciful and junk to coyotes (i.e., terrorists) who don't deserve it, but it does nothing but make me wonder if we can't even find a palatable way to off some bad guys, WHY EVEN SHOW THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE!? Don't make them the embodiment of all evil (unlike Wile E. Coyote, who was a silly dupe, and not really evil evil), and then act like they'll just go away by having everyone make angry cow noises. AND ANOTHER THING--these animals have found a way to steal human stuff and use it--cell phones and cars and junk--STEAL SOME DANGED VARMINT RIFLES! Maybe some nice Remington 700s in .243. BUT DON'T LET THEM GET AWAY.

Probably reading a bit too much into it, but still, it's a layer of frustration on top of the bullteats that made the whole movie even less entertaining.

Overall, a lot of funny throw-away lines and pop-culture asides, some snappy music, but with visual incongruities and an overlay of feel-good preachyism that I could have done without. I give it 3 out of 10 curly possum tails. The kids kinda liked it, though, but I don't think they would give it above a 5 or so.

HOWEVER, it does seem to have been better than what Reba and the older girls went to see--Reba usually gives me a movie review comprised of exhaustively recited passages of dialogue and action, but I haven't heard a peep from anyone of them about the movie. I think we have finally plumbed the depths of just how bad a chick flick can get before it completely loses its intended audience.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:42 AM | Comments (2)

And so--

Up Saturday, put on clothes, go downstairs, go outside, see that no one has dared touch my precious rear wheelless heap, survey what must be done during the day.

Set in to work.

Finish getting rear calipers bolted on, install new pads, put wheels back on, remove jackstands, lower car. It all sounds so very easy--and when you get right down to it, each of the individual tasks IS easy. However, when you have all of them to do in sequence, and you keep having to interrupt the flow of work when you realize you left your 14mm wrench on the other side of the car, and you have to get up and go around and get it and then come back and then you realize you also need your hammer and you have to go get that, well, all of that combined gets to be somewhat fatiguing.

I need a monkey.

Nice little beast to go get me stuff that I forget. Of course, monkeys tend to poop on things. And I don't know how you'd train one to get you a pair of slip joint pliers instead of a pair of wire pliers. And they'd be screeching and chittering when they weren't doing something. And they'd probably want to lick up antifreeze. Maybe I just need an assistant. Boy would do, except he isn't at the age where cars are interesting. None of the girls want to help, except for Rebecca, and then only for about five minutes. They will get me ice water, though, which is nice.

Maybe I need a robot. Who looks like Catherine Zeta Jones.

Nah, then I'd never get anything done. Unless--unless I program the robot to do car repair! Hmmm. I think I might be on to something...

Either that, or I have breathed too many petroleum distillates.

ANYway--back on with the wheels, and lower it down, and move on to the fronts.

Jack up one side, jackstand, jack up other side, jackstand, wheels off, pads out, calipers off, rotors off, rotors on, calipers on, pads in. It sounds so simple in retrospect, but all of the grunting and hammering and torquing and sweating and getting up to go get stuff I forgot wore me out.

As for the front rotors, they were worn slap out, too. They'd gotten a goodly amount of warp in them, so the pedal vibrated violently every time I put on the brakes hard, and they were 2mm too thin as well. Apparently all four rotors were the original ones, so I guess that's pretty good for 225,000 miles.

So, I had everything put back together by about 12:30 or so--EXCEPT. Seems that a while back I had bought some lower braces from an old GT model for the subframe (makes the structure a bit stiffer), and I had not gotten a chance to put them on. But, here it was, all jacked up with no wheels. If I was going to put them on, this was the time.

Obviously, however, they can't go on easily.

And by now, I was feeling woozy. 90 degrees, humidity like breathing though a wet blanket, no breakfast, and lots of exertion.

Anywho--the braces are simple thick bars with flattened ends and bolt holes. There is already one set of holes in the frame on the front side, but the rear mount holes have to be drilled. Which is difficult under the best of circumstances, but much harder when you find you haven't got the car jack up quite high enough, and the stuff you're drilling into is so hard you can barely even dent it with a center punch, and when you DO get the drill started, little hot shards of metal shavings rain down onto your arm, and then later lodge themselves in your scalp. Luckily, after cooling down.

But, despite the travails, I did manage to get two holes drilled in the appropriate spots underneath the car. Then, there was the bolting on. Which was made difficult by the lack of access. I wound up removing the bones from three of my fingers so they could wiggle into the space so I could hold a wrench on the top and bottom of the nut-bolt combo, but by gum, I did get those silly things installed. Even better is the fact that I actually CAN feel a slight difference in the ride and handling!

Or maybe it's just wishful thinking of a highly delusional variety.

Or maybe I'm just a moron.

No matter which, the wheels were reinstalled, the jackstands removed, the tools put away, and it was time to go test the brakes and make sure I didn't kill myself.

OH! And I installed my cupholder!

Off down to the foot of the hill. Soft, slow. Easy--not too hard--don't want to glaze them over!


Not a squeal, not a squeak, not a groan, not a grind, not a wobble, not a wiggle.

Volvos are notorious for loud squeaky brakes, and yet, despite everything, I had managed to get everything stuck back together and lubed just right so that I was spared that distress. ::shakes fist at Murphy::

I drove up to Target and turned around, then figured I would go back to Winn-Dixie and treat myself to a can of Coke, which I would put in my brand new cupholder. Got there, pulled up to the curb, hopped out with my crisp dollar bill, stuck it in the machine and it spit it back out. Five times. ::Murphy smiles:: I did have a quarter in the car, so I went back and got it and bought a cheapo Diet Chek, which is just as good as a Diet Coke.

Cupholder works just fine.

On back to home, feeling quite satisfied, but still, there was one thing left to do.


My pretty little shiny trim rings were dirty, and most especially the one on the rear where the pad had worn away. The dust that came off was full of iron shavings, which had coated the trim ring with a fine layer of rusty stuff. Can't have that.

SO, as I teetered on the brink of passing out from fatigue and heat and foodlessness, I got the tires and wheels all sparkly again. Finally got completely done around 3.

Then it was time to get ready to go TO THE MOVIES!!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:34 AM | Comments (7)

The Lord giveth...

...and Murphy taketh away.

YET DESPITE THAT, I did manage to avoid any permanent disfigurement, and am able to come in this morning and peck upon this glorious computing machine and bore all of you to tears! Surely that must count as a weekend well spent.

Or not.

In any event, my great big package of brake pads and brake rotors (and my new cupholder!) arrived Friday just as predicted, and in a flurry of joy I ripped open the box to make sure everything was there, and it was, and set in to get started on the necessary dismantling right away.

As I was getting the car situated and finding my floor jack, I was still bothered by the one oversight in the whole process. When I had ordered my parts, I decided not to order a set of rear rotors. I don't really know why, other than I think I thought the ones already on the car could be turned and reused.

I don't really know why I thought this.

Especially after all that horrible grinding noise, noise that I knew was being caused by a pad that had worn down to the backer plate. That can't be good for a brake rotor. Yet, for some reason, I didn't order them. And to make things worse, I really couldn't add them to the order, without paying a huge tariff for shipping. The only way I managed to get this other stuff on the cheap was that the nice people out in Oregon were having a "no shipping charge" sale. Let me tell you this--shipping from Oregon is outrageous. So, after I couldn't order more (without paying an extra billion dollars to have them shipped) I figured I would just make do with what I had. If the rotors were too thin, I'd just have to have them smoothed out a bit, then order the rotors and install them later. Which is just a real messed up way of doing things.

But, as we have now thoroughly established, I Am A Moron.

Anyway, out with the wheel chocks, the jackstands, the jack, various wrenchy things, and off we go.

Jack up rear, set the stands in place, take off the wheels, yikes--my left rear rotor look like it had been scrubbed by a comb with diamond teeth--great big deep grooves running round and round. Yep--I could see there was no more friction material left on the pad. Aside from the piece of metal it had been attached to.

Took out the pads, took off the brake caliper, and measured the rotor thickness. Wow. Both sides were 2mm thinner than the minimum thickness. I really should have ordered rear rotors.

By this time, Reba had gotten home and I asked her to call the parts place to see if they could do the rotor turning. No. ::sigh:: They had some other places that could, but it was going to mean a lot more running around on Saturday, which I did NOT want to do.

Oh well.

I still had other things to do while there was still enought daylight, though, so I went ahead and made a run down to the foot of the hill for some brake cleaner in a spray can. Just out of curiosity, I asked the gangly kid at the counter if they had rear rotors for an '86 Volvo 240. "Yessir, we have two in stock."

You could have knocked me over with a flare nut wrench! What are the odds of them having something like that--IN STOCK!? He brought them out, and they looked beautiful--smooth and round and glistening and--ahem. Well, they looked real good.

Home, singing the 'Happy, Happy, Murphy's Law Don't Live Here' song. Which was obviously a mistake. I knew I should just be quietly grateful and not tempt fate. Because Fate is a real jerk when it comes to stuff like brakes.

Got to the house, found out there was one more piece of hardware to remove before getting the rotor off, did that, pulled the passenger side, doused the parking brake apparatus with brake cleaner (whew! highly aromatic hydrocarbons!), slid the new rotor on, and noticed it was getting sorta darkish.

Which is what happens at night.

Not going to get it all done this evening, obviously.

Grabbed my shop light and started the replacement on the right side. Undo extra hardware, pull rotor, douse the parking brake apparatus again. Boy, there's a lot of gunk in there. Spray. Spray, spray, sprrrrrrrray. Popped the new rotor on.


Felt like something had pinched my butt. I was sitting on the driveway with my legs akimbo as I was working, and it felt like I had sat on a pin. Started putting the caliper back on. Ouch. OW! Whatever that was that was pinching me really was hurting. I grunted and pulled on the wrench and OWWWW! That's BURNING! And now my left calf was burning, too. I leaned over and felt the bottom of my thigh and felt something wet on my jeans. OUCHBURN! "What is going on!?" I thought to myself.

It was then that I noticed I was sitting on one of the lateral joints in the driveway. And then I noticed that all of the vast amount of brake cleaner I had doused the mechanism with had puddled up on the driveway right underneath the brake, and at that exact spot was the lateral joint in the concrete. And that lateral joint seemed to be tilted at just the right angle to allow the huge puddle of brake cleaner (Caution: Highly flammable--avoid skin contact) to run toward the place I had only moments before been sitting. It then stopped when it found my buttock, and was handily soaked up by my jeans.

And made my right buttock and thigh and my left calf feel as though someone had gotten after me with a flamethrower.

I jumped up and started doing the 'Murphy's Law Strikes Again' tap dance, and ran inside and up the stairs to get in the shower before I suffered further damage to my fleshy backside. I ran into our bathroom, and lo and behold, Catherine was in the shower.

"CATHERINE!! I need you to get out! Daddy's got stuff on his leg and it BURNS! Please get OUT!"

She opened the door and looked out at me.


She got out and stood on the bathmat.

"Catherine. I have stuff on my pants that is making my leg HURT REALLY BAD! I need you to leave the room so I can wash my legs off before I have to GO TO THE HOSPITAL! Please LEAVE!"

"But Mama told me to get in here and bathe before the pizza gets here."

"SUGAR! I KNOW you want to bathe, I'll let you back in in just a minute, but I have GOT TO GET IN THERE!"

She pouted and stalked out of the bathroom wet and nekkid, and I started ripping my pants off and stumbled into the shower.


Luckily, no permanent damage to my delicate undercarriage, but I do have a newfound respect for caustic chemicals.

I put on some different pants and finished getting my tools and stuff back inside for the night. I hated leaving the back end of the car up in the air overnight--it just looks rather low-class for such a fancy high-tone place like my neighborhood, but frankly, I'd had enough excitement for the night, and figured daylight would be better to work on things.

Got my real shower after supper, and in a fit of domesticity, made sure to take ALL the clothes out of the hamper and downstairs so that there would be no sudden CLOMP of laundry baskets on the bathroom floor Saturday morning.

And sure enough, there wasn't, and a certain wife of mine actually allowed me to sleep all the way until 8:30!


And then, time for more car repair!


About which, more in just a bit.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:51 AM | Comments (7)

August 25, 2006

Weekend Forecast Already!?

Yep, because I just checked, and it appears that this afternoon the UPS Guy will be dropping off 32 pounds of Volvo brake parts at the house, and I'm so excited I'm about ready to make odd little noises!

The brake pads front and rear on the car are just about shot--the rears more than the front--and the front rotors have a bit of the warp to them that causes the wheel to shake and the pedal to bounce. Not a good thing. So I got some front rotors, too, which is where most of those 32 pounds come from. Probably needed to get rear rotors, too, but I thought maybe I could get those turned down. Right now the metal backer plate on the old brake pads are doing a pretty darned good job of it themselves--if I don't get new pads on there pretty soon, there won't BE any rear rotors left. Bad mechanic!

So, that's gonna start first thing when I get home. Hopefully this won't be an all-weekend thing. (He wrote, knowing that he was summoning the great hellish lawgiver, Murphy, who will do everything possible to smite him with a variety of calamities.)

Anyway, I got things to do here before I go, so all of you have a great weekend and I'll see you Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

Well, it's about derned time.

Speaking of the mindlessness of bureaucracies, this was some welcome news--DHS Gets Rid of Dress Code, Hotel Regulations for Air Marshals

WASHINGTON — Air marshals were told Thursday they will be allowed to dress the way they want and choose their own hotels in order to protect their anonymity while on missions.

Federal Air Marshal Service chief Dana Brown, who has been in the job for five months, said he was changing the rules, starting Sept. 1, after listening to air marshals' concerns.

In a memo to the air marshals, Brown said the dress code was changed to "allow you to blend in and not direct attention to yourself, as well as be sufficiently functional to enable you to conduct your law enforcement responsibilities." [...]

When the bad guys know who is most likely to try to stop them, based on the fact that a political appointee wanted the good guys to look like the good guys, it would be pretty simple if mischief was planned to make sure THAT guy in the snappy Washington G-Man Suit was taken out of action first. Or, alternatively, wait until you got on a flight that didn't have Lil' J. Edgar sitting in it.

The only question is why this is only NOW being instituted--allowing at least some air marshals to blend in seems to be so bafflingly simple on the face of it you have to wonder why in the world anyone would be so stupid in the first place. Sure, we want passengers to feel safe, and having a visible presence means you can show them their tax dollars at work. "See me!? I'm from the government, and I'm here to help!" But here's the deal--feeling safe and BEING SAFE are two entirely different (although not mutually exclusive) things.

In this instance, the fact that it was easy to spot the air marshal meant that it would be just as easy for him to be picked off before he could stop an attack. The fact that it hasn't happened up until now is partly blind luck, and partly due to the combined efforts to keep terrorists off balance.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:01 PM | Comments (3)

I don't know if instituting sharia law would help...

...but something needs to be done about Australians who display such a vicious disregard for common decency that they employ puns to ambush unsuspecting readers!

It is enough to make me swoon, I say. And caused a bit of Diet Coke to spurt onto my keyboard.

::shakes fist::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:15 PM | Comments (1)

Steevil's Losers of the Day! UPDATED!

Taking a break from rocket science, Steevil (brother of Dr. Weevil), sends along his picks for Loser of the Day--

Via The Corner, ol' Ez let's us know what the big problem is.

And for the second candidate, more lip-dribble from one of the most industrious members of the Idiot Hall of Fame.

UPDATE: Steevil breaks in with a late entry! I would also like to nominate the Washington Post for including an accompanying picture that has absolutely nothing to do with the article in question.

In fairness--the cleanup of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast truly is several orders of magnitude more difficult to accomplish than people wish to think, if for no other reason than the huge amount of area involved. Then you add in all the political and bureaucratic idiocy, and it certainly doesn't help things. The damage is difficult to comprehend, and although it might be easy to say more could be done, it is far more problematic to quantify exactly what should have been expected to be accomplished by now.

There are apparently a lot of people who think a year is plenty of time to have everything back and running, but if you just think how long it takes in good times, with a slack labor market, to, say, get a house built--five, six months?

Now think about just how much of the Gulf was blown away.

Even in the very best of circumstance, with a functional bureaucracy dedicated to both assisting the rebuilding AND maintaining the public health, safety, and welfare; with local leaders willing to work hand in hand with state and Federal authorities to lead and make timely decisions; with a funding mechanism that is transparent and expeditious; and with the availability of qualified tradesmen able to do the necessary rebuilding work--NONE OF WHICH ACTUALLY EXIST, EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF NATURAL DISASTER--the rebuilding effort would STILL be a multi-year endeavor, and it might take an entire generation to recover fully.

It's not a perfect world, though--there is graft and corruption up and down the line, and the supply of labor is tight, and the local political movers have never been anything close to being a model of efficiency. But I can say this, the old adage that 'doing the same things over and over again while expecting a different outcome is the definition of madness' has never been more appropriate. In a disaster of this scale, there is very little to be lost in trying to come up with newer, better solutions that don't rely on the pandering, self-absorbed idiocy of people like Nagin. In a perfect world, rebuilding would take years. In Moronica, it might not ever get done.

As for Nagin's analogy to the WTC, it's inapt and stupid and insensitive. And par for the course. Cats meow, dogs bark, Nagin yammers. But hey, he's the Choice of The People, so who am I to question their wisdom?


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:33 AM | Comments (5)

Y'know, not everything is a tragedy.

Now how will students learn the planets?

It's just a silly little fluff piece on the reclassification of Pluto that, had it been written by a blogger, would have been used in a hard-hitting, 12 part series as an example of how dangerous blogging is when compared to Real Journalism. But what makes it even sillier is that after the silliness of the new mnemonic suggestions to remember the planets, the article actually goes to great pains (relatively speaking--it's only a few sentences long) to note how much of a problem this is going to be for museums. And it actually seems like they're trying to be serious about it.

Now, maybe the reporter is doing spoof of a spoof--one of those stories like "World to End Tomorrow--Women, Minorities Hardest Hit," since he does pick up on two of the Great Thematic Elements of Modern Reportage: The Childrentm, and Endangered Public Institutionstm. But I really have to believe that there is actually someone somewhere who really does see this as some kind of calamity that must be documented. I can only guess how long it will be before a way is found to blame George Bush for, for--well, for SOMETHING.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:37 AM | Comments (6)


This morning's version of Friday catblogging is very slim, because The World's Most Expensive Free Kitten was in a rip-roaring mood this morning and ran around like a wildcat.

Catherine managed to grab him as he was eating and present him to the camera in her usual way.

Although it looks like he's yowling for help, he's really only licking the crumbs off his mouth. The rest of the photos are pretty much of his backside as he ran hither and yon. And up.

Speaking of backsides, Rebecca is on the yearbook staff at middle school this year, and they have a local photographer they are going to be assisting when it comes time for school picture day. His name is Mr. Buttram. However, when she pronounced it for me, you can guess how it came out--accented heavily on the first syllable.


"Sugar, his name is pronounced but'trum, not BUTT' ram."


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:53 AM | Comments (2)

I question the timing.

Really--Rep. Schmidt's marathon ad questioned

By MATT LEINGANG, Associated Press Writer
Thu Aug 24, 8:51 PM ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt is fast, capable of running a marathon in 3 hours, 19 minutes, 6 seconds.

At least that's what a photo on the Ohio congresswoman's Web site shows.

No way, [a clever reporter would have said "Not so fast"] says a rival who contends that the picture from the 1993 Columbus Marathon is doctored and complained to state election officials. A four-member commission panel ruled Thursday that there was enough evidence to look into the complaint. [...]

The photo shows Schmidt near the finish line at the marathon with a time clock showing 3:19:06, which would have made her one of the top finishers. But a newspaper list of the top runners does not include Schmidt, said Nathan Noy, who is seeking to run as a write-in candidate against Schmidt.

Noy said he believes the photo may be fake and suggested that Schmidt never even participated in the event. In the photo, Schmidt doesn't cast a shadow while other runners do.

Joseph Braun, an attorney representing Schmidt, denied that the photograph is fake. He produced what he said was an official race results book, listing Schmidt as the fifth-place finisher in her age group with a time of 3:19:09 — three seconds slower than the time depicted in the photograph. [...]

On her Web site, Schmidt, who is 54, said she has completed 59 marathons. In April, she received a public reprimand from the Ohio Elections Commission for claiming on her Web site that she had two college degrees when she had only one.

Be interesting to see how this plays out--it seems a remarkably stupid bit of vanity if the allegations of Fauxtoshopping turn out to be true, but it could just as easily blow up in her challenger's face if it turns out her corroborating evidence is real. I do find it odd that her attorney would just happen to have an "official race results book" in his possession from 13 years ago, and that her name wasn't listed in the newspaper. It doesn't help matters that she's already been found to have padded her resume.

Rep. Schmidt's husband Tommy Flanagan could not be reached for comment.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2006

Speaking of vilification...

Survey: Couric better known than rivals

[...] While 40 percent of all respondents' one-word impressions of Couric had a positive tone (compared with 36 percent for [ABC's Charlie] Gibson and 34 percent for [NBC's Brian] Williams), she also scored higher in words deemed negative (including liberal, biased, bad, annoying and overrated), with 14 percent. This compared with 4 percent for Gibson and 5 percent for Williams.

Color me shocked.

While the word most often associated with all three journalists was good, the list of adjectives for Couric included perky, cute, nice, energetic, bubbly and fluffy — words no one raised for Gibson or Williams.

And I am willing to bet they were exceedingly glad.

Other words Couric inspired were informed, knowledgeable and smart. But her personality and style were foremost on the minds of the respondents, as opposed to their words describing Gibson and Williams. [...]

One gets the sense that all this has become something of a search for the world's most perfect booger.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:00 PM | Comments (7)

I got all excited...

...because I thought she and John Bolton might be able to team up and vote Kofi off the island--Rice hopes to catch on with reality TV

But then I found out it was Jerry, not Condi.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

Today's Object of Intense Vilification!

Pretty much the usual thing. I've posted about this before, "this" being the seeming necessity of newspaperpersons to work in some sort of gratuitous reference to something perceived as evil by the members who sit within their little coffee klatch, even if it really doesn't have much of a relationship to the actual story. The one that always seem to catch my eye are the stories about SUVs.

The general bias of folks in the nattering trades seems to be that anything SUV related is automatically suspect, and more likely than not the source of evil, what with their gas-guzzling [evil--Bush Oil Halliburton] and ponderousness [evil, like obesity] in hauling [evil--should be using public transport instead of hauling your own stuff like some rustic rube, unless he's a rube who is a union cabbage picker] suburban [evil--surburan sprawl] soccer moms [evil--implies subservience to a bygone lifestyle of feminine unliberation, although this one is slightly less obnoxious to them because it involves soccer, which is popular in socialist dictatorships] to nail appointments [evil--product of tax cuts for wealthy]. All this despite the fact that the definition of an SUV includes even such tiny and relatively fuel-efficient things as Honda CR-Vs and Toyota RAV-4s, and despite the fact that as a type, SUVs have become every other vehicle on the road. It's really not a big deal to see one. Never has been, as a matter of fact. (Until it was decided they were evil.)

ANYWAY, I was looking through the news and saw another example: 9 hurt when SUV plows into N.Y. market

Ooooh. Evil plowing SUVs. "Plowing" no--that's not a loaded term, is it? [Rubes plow, you know. Unless they've been bought out by an evil Big Farm conglomerate. Which are actually okay if they make ethanol.] And, as we mention, SUV hasn't become a code word at all. (He wrote sarcastically.) We now read the story, which is scant:

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A sport utility vehicle driven by an 83-year-old man plowed into pedestrians and vendors at a public market on Thursday, injuring eight people.

The driver lost control when his foot apparently slipped off the brake and hit the accelerator, and the vehicle rammed through at least eight food stalls at the Rochester Public Market, police Chief David Moore said.

At least one person suffered serious injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

The car ended up in a shed, and firefighters had to extract the driver, the police chief said. He said the driver's injuries appeared to be minor.

That's it.

Now what purpose did it serve to say he was driving an SUV? In this story, there is nothing to indicate the type of vehicle had anything at all to do with the incident. In fact, a more telling proximate cause might be the age of the driver, and the fact that his foot slipped off the brake. Older drivers seem to be more prone to this, but even then, it's not outside the realm of possibility for ANYone to have this happen. Even if the person is NOT driving an SUV. To further point out the utter unseriousness of this tactic is the fact that the story itself calls the vehicle as both a sport utility vehicle AND a car.

What's the story here, journalism grads?

The fact that several people at a market got injured when a driver lost control of his vehicle and hit them.

Accidents like this can happen to anyone driving anything, so to continue to refer to the type of vehicle in a way that implies it is somehow pertinent to why the event happened, WITHOUT GIVING ANY FURTHER details, smacks of simply playing to emotionalism and fear about an inanimate object. It MIGHT be interesting if he was driving something that wasn't as ubiquitous as an SUV--a fire truck or ambulance he'd stolen, perhaps--but in this case it appears the type of vehicle is meaningless.

So quit trying to score brownie points in whatever little I-wanna-win-a-Pulitzer clique you've got going on there, and quit offering up prejudicial references that serve no other purpose than to provide a way for the reporter to passively state his opinion diguised as news.

Better headline: "Driver loses control, injures self and 8 others at NY market." If you simply cannot resist specifying the type of vehicle in the story, give all the information--make, model and year.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:51 PM | Comments (4)

Speaking of Land Speed Records...

Although the biggest news coming off the Salt this week has been the stunning 329 350 mph (still unofficial right now) Diesel-powered speed record, this item I originally saw in the Hemmings e-newsletter is what really caught my eye. In this press release, GM Performance Division rightly crows about its success this year, but notes one frightening whooptydoo:

[...] The team did have a couple setbacks during the week, proving just how hard it actually is to set a record at the Salt Flats, especially when considering a vehicle has to make two successful runs to set a new record.

Once a vehicle qualifies to beat the previous record, it is immediately impounded until the next morning when it can return to the same course for a record run. The combined average between the qualifying and record return runs are what establish a new record.

After only two passes, the Chevy So-Cal HHR was finished for the week on Aug. 14 due to an on-course incident.

GM engineer and driver Jim Minneker was beating the previous record of 226.835 in the G/BFCC class (G Class/Blown Fuel Competition Coupe) by more than 20 mph with a qualifying run of 246.686 mph when the HHR lost traction after parachute deployment at the end of its run. Minneker walked away with only minor bruises, and although the HHR was still structurally intact, it was unable to continue running. [...]

Emphasis mine--the Hemmings blurb said he rolled the HHR, but no matter--walking away from ANY 250 mph crash with only some bruises is just incredible.

As for the wreckage, there is a photo of the horrifyingly mangled vehicle in the extended entry. Hard to believe it was once actually a vehicle.


Shocking, no?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:15 AM | Comments (12)

Yes, that's right.

I am still loaded up with stuff to do and just can't seem to find the necessary concentration skills to make any headway on it. Need to, though. Not only that, I can't quite concentrate on something to include here, either. It's all just a bunch of random stuff.

For instance: So Pluto's not a planet?

My response? Who cares.

SEE!? That's no way to do a blog post! It should be loud and stupid and call for something like blowing it up if it's not a planet. And then Frank J. could claim I'm ripping off his Nuke the Moon! schtick, and we could get in a big slap fight about it.

Something else, then. Mmm--what about newborn albino pygmy marmosets?

My response--Awwww. Who cares.

AGAIN--that is just no way to put out something with punch and vigor! I should be all over that story with bright ideas for a new line of cornbread-battered and deep fried marmosets on a stick--or even better--MINIATURE cornbread-battered and deep fried marmosets on a toothpick. MiniCornosets! But no. It's just too obvious, and it's not even worth the trouble. Nor would it be worth mentioning that it might be cool to stuff a whole bunch of them into a little plastic barrel.

What about Logitech unveils new cordless laser mice ?

My response: Who cares.

I mean, I SHOULD care, what with there being an obvious "Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering" angle just ripe for a stupid riposte, but I just can't work up the necessary effort to go find the required Pinky and the Brain fan site that has the canonical list, then find something completely unrelated like, "I think so, Brain, but, the Rockettes? I mean, it's mostly girls, isn't it?"

Maybe I'll redecorate around here. Maybe some nice curtains, or a change to the font sizes, or a picture of a buffalo or something.

Nah. Too much trouble.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:31 AM | Comments (4)

August 23, 2006

Yeller Jackits

Okay, so I'm really busy today, but there are some things that simply cannot be ignored.

Such is the case with the following story--Giant nests perplex experts

I have now been sent this exact same item TWICE by two different bloggers--the mother of Perfect Tommy (and a lovely brunette herself) Miss Sarah, and well known cripple Dr. Jim Smith.

Read the whole article, it's creepy as all get out. I had seen several articles about it (including some of the ones here), and a news report on TV here showed the car in the article with the huge nest inside, but I guess I never thought anyone would really care about it. Which proves that even I can be wrong once in my life.

Anyway, the whole idea of supernests just creeps me out all over--I can't stand yellow jackets because they're mean aggressive little SOBs, but when they were mostly just something that made a nest underground, I didn't worry so much about them. But these nests are huge and look like some kind of something you'd see on Star Trek. I didn't even realize yellow jackets were paper wasps--I always figured since I saw them in the ground they were dirt wasps like a dirt dauber. But the things they build are like giant sheets of corrugated cardboard--almost like seeing a hornet's nest turned inside out and unfurled. And what I don't understand is why they seem to be doing this HERE. I know the article says it was because of the mild winter [insert obligatory, "I blame George McHitlerburton ChimpsterRove and the lack of a signature on Kyoto which led to global warming."] but you'd think if it was simply a matter of mild weather, you'd be just as likely to see them in Florida--or better yet, GEORGIA, where there's a whole SCHOOL that uses them as a mascot. But NOOOOOO. They're HERE!

Here are some helpful tips for dealing with these satanic little scourges from the Auburn Extension Service, as well as a couple of more recent Extension blog posts about the phenomenon. They've got better pictures, too.

Anyway, if you see a nest like this, don't mess with it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:31 PM | Comments (8)

Well, let's hope...

Court: Nader must pay for election suit

...that it's not one of those ugly, ill-fitting, mismatched things he's usually seen sporting around in. A nice tie would help, too. And maybe something with the hair.

GOOD MORNING! Or, Good Nearly Afternoon. [Update--Afternoon. I didn't realize it would take so long to type so little.] A very long morning today, which, when added to the very long night I had last night, makes for a blog of supremely low quality AND quantity.

Open house at the high school last night, a task which I took by myself since the other kids had tons of homework left to do, and Reba didn't really want to go. And also because Oldest really WANTED Mom to go. Gee, I wonder why that could be?

Since they've gone back to the traditional 7-period class day in lieu of block scheduling, the usual procedure whereby we pick up the kid's schedule and follow it to each of the classes was a bit more rushed this year, which meant that there really wasn't time as in the past to delve too deeply into talking over with the teachers all of a certain student's odd proclivities and perceived needs for various pamperings and accomodations.

Got there late, of course--it started at 6, and I still had to get the kids home and make sure Reba was there, and then drive over to the school, so I was tardy to Latin. I learned Corsica insula est. Pretty interesting, although they're doing more conversational stuff than all that stuff with declensions. Whatever those are. Caveat lector, I suppose. Everyone was very impressed when at the bell for the next class, I stood up and shouted "ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam!" (Not really.)

Next, AP World History, taught by the same guy she had last year for US History. And yes, despite only having been in school for eight days total, and despite the fact that this year the class is right in the very early part of the morning when all other people are fresh and bright, there still seems to be a tendency for one of his students to nod off. I am certain it is someone else's fault, though. It always is.

Let's see, next was English, I think. Nice lady. Then AP Chemistry, with a teacher who looks like David E. Davis, Jr., and talks a bit like the late Shelby Foote. (Whom, it should probably be noted, also sorta favored DED, Jr. in appearance) I'd like to take his class right now, because I think I would finally understand chemistry if he taught it. Next was Business Tech--hallelujah. She will finally get instruction on using a keyboard and complicated things like MSWord, rather than either expecting us to do it for her, or, alternatively, pretending she already knows it all. Choir next, where I find out she has become something of a queen bee, for once. Goodness knows she's starved for the mindless adulation of her peers. (Not that I'm not--but I don't go home and throw fits because Glenn Reynolds never links to me. Well, not often, anyway. Fits, that is. Of course, part of that is because I realize Glenn Reynolds and I are peers in the sense that we both occupy a certain volume of space.) Final thing was Honors Algebra II/Trig. Nice lady, again.

In all, I marvel at the amount of technology available to hammer information into recalitrant skulls, and the dedication and depth of commitment and knowledge of the folks doing the hammering. I told Reba last night that I sure wish I had had such things in the school where I went--although the teachers were for the most part dedicated, the lack of resources was noticeable even then. If I'd not had that ancient set of 1959 World Book encyclopedias, I wouldn't have learned anything at all.

ANYway, in the midst of the tour, it came a torrential downpour that lasted forever, so I got wet getting to the car. Got home, walked in the door right around 8, and was really ready for some supper when I was accosted by a small Boy (who's actually not so small anymore) who wanted some help creating a crossword puzzle using his vocabulary words.

Here's a word--"I am very hungry and want to try to eat at least a little bit of supper before helping you with your junk; now go on and go do something else for a while."

Talk about technology--after I ate my heated-up-in-the-microwave leftovers, I bounded upstairs to my computer, hit the Google box with "online crossword puzzle maker," hit the Return key, and found this right off the bat--the Instant Online Crossword Puzzle Maker. Type in your words, your clues, hit the create button, and you've got yourself a nice little crossword puzzle that looks just like a crossword puzzle. It takes less time if you don't have someone hovering over your shoulder, though. The fact that I refuse to disclose who this hoverer was should tell you exactly who it was.

That done, more loose ends done, bed, dream about a house where we'd moved that had its own small primate in it, something like a Capuchin monkey, yet also something like a lemur. It was all over the house, and I was trying to keep it away from the cat, which was not the one we have now, but a very fat black and white number. At one point, I was floating on a seat cushion in the living room, because it was raining so hard. I had my little primate beside me to keep him from getting wet. Then I went upstairs and noticed that the wall in Jonathan's room was water stained and actually had water leaking through it, which just made me mad to no end at the worthless contractors for not having fixed it the first time I called them. And then I woke up because the clock went off. Raining. Which explained all the rain-allusions, I suppose. That, and I had to pee really bad. So I did. Went everywhere, it did. (Not really.)

Meeting this morning was long and tedious, and full of note-taking fury. And there was a decided lack of supermodels. Which I think is one area we need to really work on a lot.

And now? Still trying to clear out the paperwork and get on to the really important task of note transcribing! Wheeee.

And remember, Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:47 PM | Comments (8)

August 22, 2006

And like clockwork...

...the flow of silliness is suddenly choked off by the intrusion of work. Tomorrow marks yet another one of those marvelous off-campus meetings of which I'm so fond, so there will be no new Possumblog tomorrow for many, many hours. You may find something much more interesting to do, however.

Oh, who am I kiddin'!? Nothing more interesting out there than this! With the possible exception of watching fruit flies eat a piece of banana.

ANYway, see you all later on tomorrow sometime.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

I thought this was about something COMPLETELY different.

'Top-two' supporters lose appeal

I mean, I've heard of them losing their elastic, but not their appeal, unless you're talking about those ugly ones your grandma wears. But then I figured out it was just some dumb story about politics.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

Speaking of NASA...

...has anyone ever considered renaming Cape Canaveral "Cape Carnival"? Yes, I know--tradition and all--but still, Carnival has such a fun sound to it. Or better yet, make it "Cape Carnaval" and have a bunch of glistening Brazilian girls parading around in feather boas at launch time.

Just a thought.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:11 PM | Comments (7)


Astronaut lets slip new moonship name

The Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The name of the new vehicle that NASA hopes will take astronauts back to the moon was supposed to be hush-hush until next week.

But apparently U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams, floating 220 miles above Earth at the international space station, didn't get the memo.

Williams let it slip Tuesday that the new vehicle's name is Orion. [...]

'Oops'--not for the astronaut, but to the reporter, who might have, with a bit of research, noted that the name Orion was already a pretty well established unofficial sort of "no comment, but you caught us" name back in July, as noted by, and then last week by the folks at, who had a nifty article where you can already see the rilly kewl logo and everything.

Remember, reporters--just because you don't know something, doesn't mean others don't.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)


Just saw this story--What Is Britain's Funniest Accent?--which, oddly enough, belongs to the Magic City's namesake.

What I found so odd about the piece?

One--that this guy gal actually exists:

[...] The research, led by comedy expert Dr Lesley Harbidge from the University of Aberdeen [...]

and second, the fact that if indeed he she DOES exist and DOES actually consider himself herself a comedy expert, he she should know better than this:

The test joke was chosen by Dr Harbidge for reflecting traditional British stand-up comedy.

With no notion of cleverness on the part of the teller, the listener's concentration is focused on the lilt of the words themselves.

The joke goes: Workmen are eating sandwiches, balancing on a girder miles above the ground.

"You ever get that urge, Frank? It begins with looking down from 50 storeys up, thinking about the meaningless of life, listening to dark voices deep inside you, and you think, 'Should I?... Should I?...Should I push someone off?"'

Friends, scholars--THAT is NOT a joke! At least by itself--it is a CAPTION, proceeding from the comedic gold mine found inside Gary Larson's bulging head.

Captions rely on the artwork and in most cases the artwork relies on the caption to be funny. In the original cartoon, without the caption, it's just a cartoon of two guys sitting on a girder. With only the caption, you miss the subtle bulging of Frank's eyeballs as the words sink in and he realizes he's sitting beside a psycho. In any event, I find it difficult to see how any of this is "reflecting traditional British stand-up comedy."

But then again, I am from Birmingham.

(I do wonder what it takes to get a gig at a college as a humor expert.)

UPDATED 12/14/06 Well, it turns out that such peoples as Doctors of Comedy do exist! Just got a note in the comments below from the Dr. Harbidge HERself, who says that in the research it was noted that the Far Side cartoon was used as the basis for the joke, so it's not like she just heard it second-hand as a joke and then decided to use it. SO, as I noted below, my regrets for relying upon a news report for facts.

Along with my apologies for mistaking her for a he. But it's just that all those fancy-pants British university guys have girl names like Lesley and Ashley and Pamela, so I just assumed. And we know what happens when one assumes, right? OF COURSE we do!

As always, though, we are happy to correct ourselves in the unlikely event we are ever mistaken about something.

Also, it is a great pleasure to report to you that we have decided to confer upon Dr. Harbidge the Axis of Weevil Distinguished Chair of Comedic Studies, and will call upon her often to weigh in on matters of a funny nature. (Funny 'ha-ha,' not funny 'strange'.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:45 PM | Comments (4)

Well, there's one you don't hear every day...

Psycho killer raccoons terrorize Olympia

One wonders which group of Aggrieved-Americans will be the first to speak out about this bit of reportorial defamation--psychos, killers, or terrorists?

Anyway, seems Oly's got problems that even the Ledbetter boys would have difficulty handling. One thing worth considering--all you urban dwellers who might say something like this:

[...] "We used to love the raccoons. They'd have their babies this time of year, and they were so cute. Even though we lived in the city, it was neat to have wildlife around," he [Tony Benjamins]said, "but this year, things changed. They went nuts." [...]

--just remember that they aren't little humans, despite what years of Disney movies might have led you to believe. They're wild animals, and you need to leave them alone.

Or make them into a hat.
davy crockett.jpg

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:16 AM | Comments (6)

Well, darn.

You know how you think up a snappy rejoinder about a day late, after it will do you no good?

Such is the case with this story that was in the news yesterday: Pilgrim's Pride offers to buy Gold Kist for $1 billion

It would have been much funnier yesterday to have quipped, "Hey, that ain't chicken feed!" Now, it's just sorta dumb.

Not that leftover stupidity stopped me from going ahead and posting it anyway.

And by the way, I think it's high time to get rid of homophones.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

Obscure Architectural Term of the Day!

LACUNAR. A panelled or coffered ceiling; also the sunken panels or coffering in such a ceiling.

From the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, Third Edition

Despite having read and reread this little dictionary, I'd never alighted on that particular word, even though I know exactly what it's talking about. I just always called it a coffered ceiling. Anyway, a good classical example would be this, the ceiling of the Pantheon--


Them Roman guys was real smart like. That dome is made out of concrete, and each one of those coffers had to be designed and constructed to become smaller in size and volume as they march their way up to the oculus at the top. In order to make the dome lighter, they incorporated small clay jars into the mix to create voids--in effect, the whole thing is something like a big sponge.

A more recent example, both of lacunars and of impressive concrete work would be portions of I.M. Pei's East Building of the National Gallery. Those might look very simple, but the formwork had to be constructed by a team of cabinet makers, due to the complexity of the geometry and the desire for absolute precision in the final product.

So there you go!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2006

Related, or Not?

What happens when two stories run closely together on the feed:

• College students use old approach for success in sales 2:17 p.m. CT

• College lobbyist loan former two-year chancellor $125,000 1:29 p.m. CT

That probably leaves an impression not intended by either story...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

I can't quite tell if it's inherent bias...

...or just being so stupid you can't tell the difference between commenting and reporting. Bryant Gumbel makes one of his usual catty little remarks, gets in trouble for it, then tries to be above it all by donning the hat of Objective Journalist:

[…] Gumbel, once the host of the NBC pregame show and later co-host of "The Today Show," said when he was hired that no restrictions had been put on his ability to comment on what he sees on the field.

"It's a lot like covering any story," he said. "You see what is front of you and you report on it." […]

Uhhm, no, Mr. Gumbel--what you did was conflate your own personal opinion about something with reporting news.

Not that news reporting is necessarily one of those things at which he's particularly adept--he's much better at offering ill-though-out, smugly self-congratulatory brain flatulence that tries to pass itself off as deep thought.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

Hey, new quarter!

Got a new state quarter today, this one for Colorado.

It's real pretty, but I am somewhat baffled. There is a relief of a mountain range on it, and below a small banner with an inscription. Now, maybe I'm just being too picky, but I think the slogan "Colorful Colorado" tends to lose a bit in translation when it's displayed on something that is decidedly monochromatic.

Thankfully, there is a place that I'm certain will be able to provide a remedy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:41 PM | Comments (12)


...we must find a way to blame America for this blatant attempt to incite Moslem anger.

Or, you know, global warming.

(Thanks once again to Steevil for finding such interesting stories about cricket. Goodness knows they are few and far between.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:30 PM | Comments (6)

Is our children learning?

Via the ever erudite Steevil (well known rocketologist), this article from the Washington Post by journalism prof Michael Skube, in which he wonders if anyone is teaching basic English anymore.

Not enough, they aren't. I'm blessed with a pack of kids who are voracious readers and who manage to do quite well in their language classes, yet even then, they manage to come up with some real corkers when it comes to words. My biggest chore is trying to instill in them some sense of how to figure out meaning from context, and failing that, to GO LOOK IT UP.

I will take slight issue with the author on one thing--sometimes a dictionary by itself isn't quite as useful as he or I might think, because the information available online truly is amazing. IF you know where to look. I pretend to know a lot, but really I just know where to look, and one of the handiest online references is the OneLook dictionary. Another that I use even more is one that's actually part of a University of Chicago project about the French language, ARTFL--it's an online version of the 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged dictionary. It's quick and simple and gives a much richer background, and has more obsolete words, than many newer dictionaries.

Anywho, make sure your kids can name some favorite authors.

(When I hit the gates of College U. back in the Long Ago, I think I remember my favorites being Twain, Thurber, P.J. O'Rourke, and Samuel Eliot Morrison. Not that anyone ever asked me, because they didn't.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:07 AM | Comments (5)

And here I thought...

...he was just off lolly-gagging around not doing anything. Fritz has been a busy fellow!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

So, it's finally here.

For some reason, I just can't get that worked up about it, but nonetheless, it is nice to have visitors in town who otherwise might not have ever come here.

I have a feeling that although the producers felt compelled to have tryouts here due to the success of past winners, that only means they will be MUCH less likely to have yet another person with ties to Alabama get NEAR Hollywood this year. Birmingham is, though, a good town for musical talent, so even if you don't see someone from here on American Idol, don't think that's because they couldn't find someone.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

Speaking of naps...

...I think it's about time to become a Papist! Pope Says Working Too Hard Is Bad For The Spirit

My kinda guy! (Thanks to Dr. Smith for that one.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)

Good Morning!

I'm barely able to stay awake! That's why I keep using exclamation points! They are SO loud, you know!

Anyway--or should I say, ANYWAY!--it was a not particularly worksome weekend, but there was enough crammed in there to give me a bad case of the slows this morning. Probably started at 8:06 Saturday morning. Seems that although my wife was miffed that her mother called LAST weekend at 8:30 and woke us all up, she herself has no compunction about letting others sleep if she's already awake. SO, up she gets, and rather than be quiet and let her poor hubby luxuriate in slumber on the one day of the week he's not required to get up at 5:30 a.m., she proceeds to go get the laundry baskets.

Being slightly awake, I knew when I heard her shuffle past the foot of the bed that the next sound would not be pleasant. For some reason--probably because she learned it from her mother--she cannot simply place something. It must be dropped. It MUST make noise or else it's as if it hasn't been officially delivered. At least I was kind of awake this time, as opposed to those times when she arrives upstairs and BLAM! drops the empty plastic baskets on the tile of the bathroom floor. BLAM! BLAM! BUMP! SCRAPE! When I'm not expecting it, it's like hearing a gunshot. When I AM expecting it, it's like hearing a gunshot, but at least it's one you think you can duck and miss.

So, here she comes, and sure enough BLAM! SCRAPE! BLAM!BLAM!

I dozed back off for half a second as she transferred the clothes from the hamper to the baskets--which ALSO somehow managed to be loud. How can cloth be loud!? Anyway, back off to alpha-wave state for a moment then all of the sudden BUMP-CRACK! WHUMMA- THUMPA!THUMPA!THUMPA!THUMPA!

Yet another odd habit picked up from her mom. The inability to open anything slightly resistant to being opened. In this case, the shower door. It's a bit tricky, in that it does hang up a bit (from abuse), but the trick (which I have demonstrated on numerous occasions) is that you have to lift under the door handle just a bit as you open it, and then the magnetic strip on the frame releases easily and quietly. If you just yank on the handle (as some are wont to do) the door bows out dramatically and then suddenly releases and begins to wobble and vibrate wildly and make a tremendous amount of loud ANNOYING noise.

But, you know, she had to get that bathcloth off the grab bar.

No use trying to sleep. I got up and got on my grass cutting clothes so I could go outside and crank up the mower and get some peace and quiet.

Epilogue: I came in after getting the front yard done about an hour later, walked upstairs to find Jonathan, walked in our bedroom and found Miss Reba asleep on the bed. And yes, I let her sleep. Although I do think I'm going to make a request next Friday night that on the next day she get all of her sleeping done early, rather than getting everyone up, then going back to bed.

Now then, time for a nap.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:43 AM | Comments (6)

August 18, 2006

Don't let me interrupt you.

The Great Literature story continues below, but it's getting close to time for me to leave for the weekend. Where have I been all day? Here, but been busier than a hackneyed analogy writer. I have a feeling it will extend on into the weekend as well. I really DO have to cut the grass this weekend, and there's a bunch of other stuff I think is supposed to be done, and this whole week has just been a blur. First full week of school for the kids, and so the evenings have been full of admonitions to finish homework interspersed with trips to go pick up MORE supplies that somehow got left off supply lists.

There was a parent's night last night for Boy's classes. Reba had to go to that since I had my little zoning board meeting to attend. It would probably have been more pleasant for her had she also not had Catherine along with her, who was in a foul mood and wicked distemper. Fortunately, Jonathan's teachers were full of nothing but praise for him, as well as shock that he's so much more vocal than his big sister who had just been through their classes last year.

Sometimes that's good, and sometimes it can be a bit embarrassing. He has one teacher who gets the kids to provide a bit of class levity (the thought being that they're going to do crazy crap anyway, so why not set aside a few minutes at the first of class to get it out of their systems). Boy's decision was to sing a song for the class. I can barely hear him in church, but Reba said his teacher told her he sang loud and long and without flinching in front of a crowd of his seventh grade peers.

The song?

One of the variations of this.

I don't know whether to chide him for his earthiness or congratulate him for being willing to stand in front of a crowd.

I believe I am leaning much more toward expressing congratulations. Or maybe I'm just leaning for another reason...

ANYway, other than the Tiny Terror living up to her name, it went well and things continue to work well. Even for Oldest, who has now managed to drive for an entire week without collision. Which is good, because we finally got the bill for how much adding her to the insurance will cost. As much as it does for both Reba and I to be insured, that's how much.

And so the headlong rush to destitution picks up speed. I really need to find a way to make some more money. But, obviously, something easy that requires no work. I think I'll be a celebrity--that looks pretty cushy.

IN THE MEANTIME, I will go on home and do house stuff, and all of you have a good weekend and I'll see you bright and somewhat early come Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:10 PM | Comments (1)

Great Literature--UPDATED

As the handy Kitchen Hand rightly guessed in the comments from the last post of yesterday, we're gonna have us some Story Time today!

Now, here's the deal--you have to write it. Yes, I know you're used to coming to Possumblog and having a giant smorgasbord laid out for you to choose from, requiring only that you grab a plate and partake. Yes, I also realize it's never been one of those spreads that's really full of nice food--there's a lot more Vienna sausage and saltines on the table than there is caviar. But hey, caviar is what we call catfish bait around here, so big whoop, am I right!? Sure.

We have done this here at Possumblog one time in the past, and I would link to it if I could find it in the vast dusty archives. But I couldn't. Anyway, to explain--I will start you all out with an opening paragraph of a story and YOU, noble readers, will continue the story in the comments section.

To make it a bit easier for you, remember to click on the link that has the time stamp on it to go to the comments section. The OTHER thing that actually says "Comments" won't ever remember your log-in information, and it only shows the comments and not the full post.

The only rules are to keep an eye on your more earthy language--asterisks are encouraged; the story can take any turn or twist you want, whether dramatic or comedic; and each comment does need to have enough continuity to be readable.

UPDATE: You can write as little or as much as you want. But everyone has to leave something, or else this thing will just stay up here all day being all boring and non-fun.

Here we go:

Dewayne Stratton put on a cap and a light jacket. He looked himself over in the mirror, and for the life of him couldn't remember why he ever thought this would be a good idea. He patted his pants pocket, and decided it would be better if he left his lighter and cigarettes on the dresser. He jumped when the telephone on the nightstand rang. It was one of the old style phones, with the big red "message waiting" gumball lights above the dial, and a set of bells inside that could wake the dead. Almost. He picked up the grimy receiver and held it up to his ear.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:05 AM | Comments (11)


So that I can proclaim myself to be just like all the A-list members of the blogosphere, I take this opportunity to participate in the well-established citizen-journalist tradition of Catblogging Friday, with the able assistance of Lightning, the World's Most Expensive Free Kitten!

Whew. That sure was a long sentence. I need to learn to use more periods.

ANYway, this morning he was in quite a mood. Although he looks all sweet in this picture--

--he was twisting and squirming for all he was worth to get loose.

After letting him down, he did his usual full speed lap around the yard, then came back and began the obstacle course around all the stuff on the patio. Hard to get him to sit still, although this one does give that appearance.

He lunged at the camera immediately after it was taken. After taking out his aggression on the camera (and my hand) he decided to take on the house. I'm sure he thought it must have moved or squeeked or something, which would explain why he felt it necessary to pounce on it and give it a good bite.

Silly kitty.

AND THUS ENDS yet another episode of Pretending to be a Big Time Catblogger!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2006

There better be more stuff on here tomorrow, or...

...well, I don't know what, but I don't think ANYone will like it.

I'm thinking it's time for a contest of some sort.

We'll see.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:54 PM | Comments (2)

Why, back in my day...

Candidates seek youths at MySpace

WE called 'em "online predators"!

I hope they track 'em down and throw 'em in jail.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

The Road to Hell...

...apparently has painted dots spaced 80 feet apart. In yet another one of those 'law of unintended consequences' moments, we have this from the great state of Washington: Washington: Attempt to Stop Tailgating Causes Massive Traffic Jam

An attempt by Washington state transportation officials to stop tailgating failed an important reality test over the weekend when it caused massive traffic jams on a two-mile stretch of northbound Interstate 5. Officials had just unveiled the "2 dots 2 safety" program that urged motorists to keep no less than two of the specially painted freeway pavement dots -- 160 feet -- distance from the car in front. Each dot is spaced eighty feet apart on the freeway between Lacey and Nisqually.

Awwww--good intentions! My only surprise is that no attempt seemed to have been made to say the program was For The Childrentm. Anyway, back to good intentions...

The hope was to expand the program statewide and use the dots eventually to help police issue $101 citations to drivers for following too closely.

Yep, nothing like setting up a nice little revenue enhancement scheme to make everyone feel good about themselves. IT'S FOR THE SAFETY!

During heavy Saturday traffic, however, motorists maintained the 160-foot distance as required by the posted signs, even though such distances were unnecessary at the crawling pace. This further reduced the freeway's capacity causing a chain-reaction slow-down.

"The idea was not to impede traffic, but to increase safety," state Traffic Engineer Ted Trepanier said in a statement provided to The Olympian newspaper. "We apologize for delays drivers faced as a result of this program."

To their credit, they recognized the boneheadedness pretty quickly. However, statistics and a credulous press enter the picture, and you can pretty much guess how that turns out:

The state maintains tailgating is a problem because it leads to rear-enders. "Twenty-one people died in rear-end crashes in Washington during 2005," the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) website asserts.

Okay, following too closely is inherently a bad idea, and it can lead to rear end collisions if the following vehicle can't stop in time. But the raw number of fatal rear-end collisions cited does not necessarily mean that tailgating is necessarily the cause, nor that dot painting was the way to solve the problem.

First, where did the fatal rear end collisions occur? I don't have any idea, but it would be nice to know how many occurred on Interstates versus surface streets or rural roads, because in general Interstates are much safer than any other type of roadway, and although it may seem counter-intuitive (you know, since "urban" = "scary") urban Interstates are safer than rural ones. And what about such things as the day of the week, the time of day, and the weather? It's much less safe in the dark, or in the rain or snow, and in the dark rain and snow is even more scary. Especially on a rainy snowy dark Saturday night! So, it would be nice to know a bit about that as well.

Second, of the collisions that occurred on Interstates, how many were actually the result of following too closely, versus those caused by inattention to stopped traffic ahead? Because if you think about it, if you're following too closely behind another moving vehicle, the net difference in speed between your two vehicles isn't nearly so great (and potentially fatal) as it would be if you're off wool-gathering at 70 mph and decide it might be a good idea to see where you're going, only to find that you have sped up onto a line of traffic at a dead stop. I'm willing to wager that a goodly portion of those fatalities probably involved something other than simply following too closely.

Third, of all the rear-end collisions, exactly how many occurred due to impairment on the part of the following driver? Seeing as how about 40% of all traffic fatalities are the result of someone driving while under the influence of something, could it be that 8 of those 21 deaths were by someone so hammered that painted dots on the roadway would have been meaningless? Maybe.

Fourth, 21 compared to what? Is this an increase, or a decrease in the number of deaths? And more importantly for the way in which statistics are kept, is this an increase or decrease in the rate of fatalities? That is, the amount of fatalities for a given amount of miles traveled. Because just about every set of statistics released by the Feds has shown a decline in Interstate traffic deaths per 100,000,000 miles traveled for almost every year of the past forty. Despite everything, it's actually safer to travel by Interstate now than it every has been.

Fifth, if we take Washington's rate and compare it to that of other states, is it higher or lower? Although there's nothing inherently wrong with trying to make travel safer, if it's already ahead of the average, it might be worth considering another avenue (so to speak) where funds could be more efficiently allocated. According to this table, the U.S. rate of fatalities is 1.4 per 100,000,000 miles traveled. Washingtons seems to be doing something right already, as their rate is only 1.0. Us po' slobs down here in Alabama are offing ourselves at a rate of 2.0 per 100M. (And as always, we say thank heavens for Mississippi, who come in at 2.3 per.)

If you take all that into consideration, it is possible that the good citizens of Washington might be being squeezed by some overzealous--although well intentioned--folks who just want to do what's right. Or not.

In the context of red light cameras, however, Washington state dismisses the importance and severity of potentially fatal rear end collisions and encourages cities to install the automated ticketing systems.

Well, there IS that whole revenue thing again, isn't there? As my good friend Fritz Schranck notes, there are some valid reasons for a municipality using these cameras as an aid to law enforcement, and they don't necessarily lead to higher numbers of rear enders (especially if the yellow light interval is lengthened enough to give ample warning of change to red).

However, in practice, there IS a lure out there and there ARE jurisdictions who see things such as red-light cameras as well as all these other sorts of putative safety programs (which are invariably run by private contractors who take a cut of the money and give a bit back to the public coffers)--as nothing more than a way to pay lip service to safety, while tapping a previously unplumbed source of cash. It also doesn't help when the politicos take advantage of the fun offered by the lobbyists representing the companies who install and maintain traffic cameras and issue the tickets.

Although it might be difficult to believe, it's almost as if some lawmakers are being somewhat misleading about their true intentions!!

Yes, I know! Shocking!

Anyway, at least we can again applaud the folks up in Washington for seeing this was a bad idea and stopping it. Right? Well, maybe not.

WSDOT will now remove the dots from I-5 and try them on another freeway.

Imagine that.

Now then, if you want to REALLY do some good, do something for me. Learn to drive.

Be aware of your surroundings and alert to potential danger from other drivers.

Be confident in your abilities and the capabilities of the vehicle you're driving.

Understand the effects of such things as weather or your own physical condition can have on your reaction time.

Rather than trying to gauge a particular number of feet, try to maintain an adequate cushion based on your time interval between you and the car ahead of you. The old "two second (and more as conditions dictate) rule" serves well, and has for many years--if you use it.

Update--I note that the "time of day and road condition" table gives the percentage of accidents, not a rate. Obviously, more accidents occur when it's light, because most travel occurs when it's light. I have not been able to find a table showing the rate per mile driven at specific times or conditions is higher at night or in foul weather, but if there's a stat to be gathered by the Feds, I feel certain it's out there somewhere. If you run across it, let me know.

It does serve as a point of discussion, though, about reading statistics--some might see the large percentage and suggest that if so many fatal collisions occur during the day, wouldn't it make sense to outlaw daytime driving? It's a bit like the old joke about the guy who found out most fatal accidents occur within five miles of home, so he moved to a new home ten miles away from his old one.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:57 AM | Comments (7)

Well, now.

That's out of the way, what do you want to talk about?

Update 1, for Kathy: Yes, we had a very good anniversary, but of the kind that married couples who both work and have four kids in school and have a Wednesday evening church service have. That is, one so busy and full of other things that the various "I love yous" flew back and forth somewhat like someone having a water balloon fight. It was fun whether they connected with the intended target or not. In any event, Miss Reba did greatly appreciate her roses and earrings--they made her get all mushy and girly and stuff; emotions which I hope lasts long enough for me to be able to manipulate to serve my admittedly more base desires.


Update #2 for Janis: Thank you, I think. And far be it from me to mention it, but isn't it a bit early in the day to be hitting the bottle? (Glad to see y'all are finally getting some rain!)

Update #2.1 for Janis: Ooops. I seem to have misunderstood the lack of vowelliness for an abundance of corn squeezings. Readers will be glad to know it was only coffee. As for what the message said, I thought the last part of it said "we're drowning up here," which I took to mean that it was raining. I zipped over to the National Weather Service site and called up the Soopr Doppler 15 MILLION and it sure looked like it had been raining, but it might have just be lots of blue pixels, which the TV meatologists call "ground clutter." So, you know, ummm, well, you know.


Update #3 for Steevil: CRYPTOZOOLOGY!! My fave! Steevil refers to reputed death of the Maine Mystery Hybrid Mutant Beast. Sez the article:

[...] The animal was found near power lines along Route 4 on Saturday, apparently struck by a car while chasing a cat.

The carcass was photographed and inspected by several people who live in the area, but nobody is sure exactly what it is.

Michelle O'Donnell of Turner spotted the animal near her yard about a week before it was killed. She called it a "hybrid mutant of something."

"It was evil, evil looking. And it had a horrible stench I will never forget," she told the Sun Journal of Lewiston. "We locked eyes for a few seconds and then it took off. I've lived in Maine my whole life and I've never seen anything like it." [...]

Possumblog photo stringers have been unable to see the carcass, but do report having seen the animal in question several years ago when it was briefly captured by an Arkansas hunter.


We cannot vouch for the veracity of this photo however, and have some suspicion that it is nothing more than a clever Photoshop forgery.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:45 AM | Comments (7)

Mailout Thursday!

Paper! Folding! Envelopes! RUBBER BANDS!!

Be back after while. ::sigh::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:50 AM | Comments (7)

August 16, 2006

I got so excited!!

Bush White House fires back at critics

Until I found out it didn't involve Dick Cheney and a shotgun.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)

Again, maybe I'm missing something here, but...

Iran seeks to test taboos with Holocaust cartoons

By Parisa Hafezi
Wed Aug 16, 10:49 AM ET

TEHRAN (Reuters) - At the exhibition entrance, a poster shows a helmet with the Star of David lying on top of others carrying a Nazi Swastika. Inside, the Statue of Liberty is pictured holding a Holocaust book while giving a Nazi salute.

Organizers say displaying more than 200 entries from Iran's International Holocaust Cartoons Contest aims to challenge Western taboos about discussing the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews died but which Iran's president called a "myth." […]

…I kinda always thought “challenging taboos” a bit more edgy if there was an actual chance the person doing the challenging might suffer some adverse repercussions from it.

I realize the Iranian government is merely cribbing from the Western “progressive” playbook where dimwits cloak themselves in the mantle of the oppressed whenever they mount their little art shows or protests or whatever. Oddly enough, the only adverse repercussion about such events (aside from the event) is having to be around a bunch of smelly sorts who think soap is a government conspiracy. Somehow, despite the jackbooted thugs lurking around every corner, they still manage to have their show and prance around on the stage as they pat themselves on the back for being boldly transgressive and brave.

Anyway, when you get a big cash prize and all sorts of international acclaim for challenging taboos, I have to say I’m a bit suspect about the whole affair. I mean, I wonder how much prize money Atefah Sahaaleh got for challenging taboos?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)

Where I was.

Well, I had a bunch of work to do, and then I had to go get Miss Reba's anniversary present delivered. This year was something of a rolling assault, with cards this morning as she awoke, then a delivery of roses sometime today, and when she goes out to her car after work, she will find a small gift sack hung from the gearshift containing these. (I sure hope they work, since her ears are pierced, not pearced.) Anyway, being a big traditionalist, since the 15th anniversary gift is crystal I figured she would find them suitable to the occasion.

If not, there's always this as a backup.

Anyway, it took a while, because I had to hoof it over to Bromberg's, and it's sorta warm outside today. By the time I got there I was melting into a puddle of butter. After finding what I wanted and having it wrapped, then there was the walk back up here which caused me to finish melting, and then on out to the parking deck. Thank goodness my air conditioner was working. Over to her workplace, wringing myself out with leftover napkins kept in the map pocket on the door for just such exigencies, hopped out, placed the gift bag just so, then back into the car and back to here.

So that's where I was.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:05 PM | Comments (4)

Yes, it's true.

I love Tim Blair. But only because of stuff like this, not because he's a ruggedly handsome Australian. Because I've never even noticed that. And even if I had, that wouldn't be the reason.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:42 PM | Comments (1)

Maybe it's just me...

Disturbance diverts London-D.C. flight

BOSTON - Fighter jets escorted a London-to-Washington, D.C., flight to Boston's Logan airport Wednesday after the pilot declared an emergency because an apparently claustrophobic passenger caused a disturbance, a federal official said. [...]

The female passenger aboard United Flight 923 said she was claustrophobic and became very upset and got into some kind of confrontation with the flight crew, said George Naccara, federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration for Massachusetts' airport. [...]

--but just in case you think you might be prone to claustrophobia or acrophobia or aerophobia or herpaerophobia or overheadbinophobia or ANYTHING ELSE THAT MIGHT CAUSE YOU TO LOSE IT, I happen to think it would probably be awfully considerate of you to consider alternative transportation. I know I would be very angry with you if your sudden mental break caused me and my fellow passengers to be blown out of the sky by a fighter jet just because you got all William Shatner "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" on us.

I'm just saying...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

And it's full of B.S.!

David Copperfield says he's found Fountain of Youth

By Jane Sutton
Tue Aug 15, 11:43 AM ET

MIAMI (Reuters) - The man who made the Statue of Liberty appear to vanish may soon claim to do the same for unsightly bags and wrinkles.

Master illusionist David Copperfield says he has found the "Fountain of Youth" in the southern Bahamas, amid a cluster of four tiny islands he recently bought for $50 million (26.4 million pounds). [...]

"I've discovered a true phenomenon," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. "You can take dead leaves, they come in contact with the water, they become full of life again. ... Bugs or insects that are near death, come in contact with the water, they'll fly away. It's an amazing thing, very, very exciting." [...]

[Following is a gratuitously catty comment. Reader discretion is advised.]

Gee, I wonder if he could put his relationship with Claudia Schiffer in there and have it come back to life?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

Oh, so you thought my idea of Poison Possums on a Plane was a BAD idea?

Well, it's CERTAINLY better than Badgers on a Hovercraft!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:46 AM | Comments (2)

August 16, 1991

I'm not sure why that particular date, other than it was on a Friday, and didn't interfere with anything else on the calendar. It didn't have any significance as a holiday or anything to do with any date that was important to the family, and when we set it, we certainly didn't realize it coincided with the discovery of the body of one E.A. Presley in his throne room.

No matter, though--it was still quite a day for me, in that it meant that Miss Reba and I could now (legally and scripturally) spend as much time as we wanted to in each other's company, including, but not limited to, those entertaining times of the day betwixt the end of the chore time and the beginning of sleep time.

It has been, as I have said every year, quite an interesting set of years. Despite the tumult of the world around us, we have managed to do pretty well for ourselves. I think there's a couple of reasons for that, and I know they will sound hokey and contrived to folks who have lost that part of their soul that allows them to see beyond contrived hokiness.

But they are that we both know we haven't gotten where we are by ourselves. Obviously we have good families and friends, but their help would be meaningless if we also didn't have the help of someone much greater than ourselves. There is a God, and He takes care of us.

The second is that we love each other.

That's it. I figure you have those two things, the rest of it will take care of itself. And it has. And it will.

ANYway, to Mrs. Oglesby, should you ever accidentally stumble upon this collection of thoughts, I offer you a very public thanks for our time together, and will see to it that you are given a very private thank-you later on.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:34 AM | Comments (16)

August 15, 2006

My sincere apologies to Miss Janis

But I must report that it has come a cloud here, and there is much thunder, lightning and rainfall at the moment.

In other news, the dead armadillo is STILL dead, and it's still propped up against the curb down toward the bottom of the street going out of our neighborhood where it was on Saturday. However, it's not quite in as good a shape as it had been previously. Why the city maintenance guys won't come get it is beyond me. It has proven to be quite the science experiment for the kids, though--

"HEY!! It's got fur on its underside!"

Yes, children, although they have a hard outer shell, they are soft and warm inside.

"EWWWW! Flies!"

Yes, such is the way of all flesh. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, armadillo to fly bait.


That would be something called a "car," doing something called "hitting a dead armadillo and squishing it sideways." Just be glad it wasn't Daddy, or he'd be having nightmares for weeks.

"Where did it come from, Daddy?"

The sky, kids. Giant birds pick them up over the vast deserts of the American Southwest and fly over here and drop them out of the sky WATCH IT!! Sorry--thought I saw one.

"Daaaad. Really!?"


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:24 PM | Comments (5)

Adventures in Headline Writing!

Ads coming to texbooks

One wonders how long it will be before spelling lessons are reintroduced.

This was posted at 1:28 p.m. It's 2:01 by my clock now--wonder how long before the missing T will be found?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:00 PM | Comments (2)

One for the stupid people.

You know, when I first saw the headline of this article this morning--X-rays won't detect liquid or gel bombs--all I could think of was, "Well, duh."

Expecting it to be one of those silly mangled headlines that had only a slight relationship to the actual meat of the story, I went on to read the article, and it actually is a report in which the reporter seems to think she has discovered some sort of incredible thing that The Government Is Covering Up.

Hey, guess what, feeb? Airport metal detectors won't detect brain waves of terrorists plotters. Searching hand luggage won't detect a missile fired from the ground. And the deal with X-raying shoes has nothing to do with detecting the presence of chemicals.

The "reporter" hints at this later on, noting that the idea is to scan shoes to see if they might have been messed with. As if someone might have hollowed out a place in the heels or sole to make a place to hide something. But lest we be unclear, once more, X-rays are magical invisible radiation waves that you can use to see through stuff--they DON'T DETECT CHEMICALS.

It's not a coverup or a government conspiracy or anything else. No one in charge has ever said that they COULD detect liquid explosives. And this screening has been going on ever since dipwad shoebomber Richard Reid tried his stunt back in 2001. The only person who seems to have been so gullible and uninformed about this seems to be the reporter.

Imagine my surprise.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:36 PM | Comments (2)


Comments are working again!

At least for the moment...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:18 PM | Comments (2)

I saw that!

Military helicopter tested over city

I went to the restroom yesterday afternoon and just as I walked in, I noticed a big chopper swooping over by the Alabama Power parking deck. Not that unusual, since they do have a helipad and occasional arrivals and departures, but what caught my eye was that the helicopter looked not at all like the usual craft, at least with the brief glimpse I got of it through the blinds. "That looked like a Jolly Green Giant," I thought to myself. "Nah. Surely not." When I got on into the restroom, the window was open (of course--I hate it when people won't close the window) but when I looked out, the helicopter had gone on somewhere else and was out of sight.

But, sure enough, it was what I thought. All those years as a kid spent poring over aircraft books were obviously ones well spent. I guess.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:13 PM | Comments (2)

Hideous nightmares...

...of frustration and underpayment.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

Hmm. I wonder...

After reading this "news" "story"--Breast implants save woman's life? about a young Israeli woman who snagged a bit of shrapnel with her mammoplasty--are soldiers and Marines concerned about what effect this may have on the design for future generation body armor they are required to wear? Will the burden of having to carry around yet another couple of items of field gear be offset by the potential entertainment value? Will there still be a need for USO shows with bosomy female entertainers?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Yes, I know.

The comments appear to be quite well broken at the moment. I offer my most abject apologies.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

Some good news.

Report gives Birmingham high marks for treatment of evacuees

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Evacuees from Hurricane Katrina who fled to Birmingham generally fared as well, if not better, than those who ended up in other cities, according to a report released Monday.

The report by the nonprofit Appleseed Foundation focused on how evacuees have fared in five major cities — Atlanta, Baton Rouge, La., Birmingham, Houston and San Antonio. It also took a close look at New Orleans, where about 40 percent of the city's residents have returned.

The report found that about 20,000 evacuees ended up in the Birmingham area and that about 1,500 are still there, the smallest number of evacuees remaining in any of the cities studied.

The report found that the Birmingham area could have handled more refugees partly because of the "open heartedness of Birmingham's citizens, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and businesses."

The report also found that Gov. Bob Riley set a positive tone for the evacuees when he asked state residents to treat Hurricane Katrina evacuees "like our own."

"The report reflects favorably on how effectively the people of Birmingham responded to this crisis. Indeed, in large part Birmingham did it right," said John Pickens, executive director of the Montgomery-based Alabama Center for Law & Justice.

Pickens said the number of evacuees who ended up in the Birmingham area was small compared to other cities, such as Baton Rouge which initially received as many as 300,000 evacuees, and Houston, which received as many as 250,000. [...]

Overall, it sounds good, and I don't want to take anything away from anyone who has been associated with this effort. Birmingham doesn't get a lot of good press, and the volunteers who helped coordinate relief for these folks are to be commended. I'm just glad we didn't have to see how the system would work if we had gotten the same volume of people as Baton Rouge or Houston. The system we had in place worked, but it might not have with ten times as many people. Especially with what the report noted about the lack of convenient public transit here.

I'm not one of those who believes that Western Civilization will end if there aren't buses and streetcars and stuff, but I figure if you are going to have them, at least make sure you're actually running the system efficiently.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:59 AM | Comments (2)

That must have been one REALLY--oh, wait. I already used that one.

West Ala. judge arrested on drug charges in Mississippi

58!? Maybe he could find a nice temp job in Oregon.

(By they way--who wants to take bets that at least a portion of his defense will be that he was conducting his own freelance undercover sting operation.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

That must have been one REALLY wide turn...

Oregon driver strikes Alabama skateboarder

It's a very short blurb, but I find it fascinating that the victim is a 29 year old female skateboarder working a temporary job in Oregon. Obviously, it's wrong to stereotype people, but I have this strange feeling that her temporary job was not working as a brain surgeon.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

Steevil says...

...that Little Alex seems to be a bit unclear on the whole concept, but I kinda think he figured he was going to go there anyway, so it didn't matter if it was for one thing or two.

Might as well get both of them out of the way at the same time, eh wot?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

Oh, okay.

If you really want to see what I was doing yesterday, here is a sample.

Here's a long shot from above the expressway of my subject--

and one zoomed in a bit. The idea is to show the lack of billboards, although it kinda misses something unless it's a before and after view.

Here's a picture of the corridor with the pretty window and view of the city beyond--

--and here's the sorta muddy photo I had to take through the door.

There were several more, but I won't bore you with those. Why?

Because I just found out that Sophia Loren has been voted the World's Most Naturally Beautiful Person!

(Although I have no quibble with the top ranking for my good friend Mrs. Ponti, I find it bizarre that the list include Jack Black. Jack Black!? That's just crazy talk. Must be like that silly Euroweenie poll that named the Fiat 500 the world's sexiest car.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:01 AM | Comments (2)

It just occurred to me that--

--there has never been a major motion picture based on a story about an assassin on an airliner who releases masses of hungry, venomous possums. I wonder why that is?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:31 AM | Comments (6)

Today holds great potential.

Either for lots of fun, or more boring paying work.

Unfortunately, right now it's the boring stuff, but that might change if I can ever get done with it. But for some reason, boring work saps my desire to do boring work. Go figure.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:56 AM | Comments (5)

August 14, 2006

Things to avoid when you take a job.

#1. That tiny clause at the bottom of the list of job duties that says, "And other tasks as may be assigned."

I had no sooner punched "Publish" on that last post than the phone rang with my megaboss on the other end, obviously on a cell phone, obviously a long way away, "Are you any good with the digital camera?"

"You mean like for shooting porn, or what?"

I didn't really say that.

"Well, I suppose I can do well enough."

"Oh, that was really more of a rhetorical question."


Seems he's supposed to be giving a PowerPoint presentation somewhere over in the Sportsman's Paradise of Louisiana (a great waste, seeing as he's not a sportsman), and in the course of assembling his lecture, found that the photos he thought were on his flash drive, weren't. So he wanted me to drop what I was doing--if I wasn't too busy--and go take some photos of one of our local hospitals.

Like what am I gonna say?! "Um, sorry, but although I'm pretty good with the camera, I have ALL these stupid meeting minutes to type up, and I haven't had my afternoon Diet Coke."

No, we can't say that.

We stop, drop, and roll.

Or duck and cover.

Or something. But we don't tell the megaboss we can't.

So, what he needed was a shot of the front of the building, crafted all artsy-fartsily with the nice huge fountain a'spraying everywhere. Next, a shot from up on the Red Mountain Expressway pointed back toward downtown so you could see both the hospital and the old historic Sloss Furnace in the background and the lack of blighting billboards. (Which are scattered everywhere ELSE in town.) Then a nice shot inside the chapel of the hospital, if I could manage it--THIS would be the icing on the cake. Or, as he put it, the cherry on the cake.

SO, he gave me his cell number, told me to e-mail the photos, and that he'd gladly reimburse me for the cost of parking.


Thank heavens I still had my camera in the car from the previous week's kitten-shots. We have a giant expensive digital camera on the floor, but I never know where it is, or if my smallboss has torn it up.

First, the shot of Expressway, then. Round and round I drive, trying to find the one exact spot where you can see everything. It happens to be the short section on Highland Avenue with the pretty iron fence and pretty plants and shards of broken bottles of Mad Dog. Took forever to find it--I kept thinking if I went up through all those crazy dead end streets around where the old apartment buildings are that I'd be able to get a better shot.


Anyway, got my shot there on Highland, and went on to the hospital.



Seems that the fountain had a boo-boo, and had been completely drained, and had a small track-hoe sitting beside it. I figured that probably wasn't the ambience he was looking for.

Zipped around to the backside and came back around to the parking deck. Ran inside, here's the church, here's the steeple, open the door loudly and HERE'S THE PEOPLE! Oops. Hadn't considered that there might be something going on at 4 in the afternoon, but there was. So I turned off the flash and tried to take some pictures through the glass in the door. Which later I found out looked not good.

Back out, snapped a photo of the corridor, which also had some stained glass in it as a directional thing to get you to the chapel, ran outside, melted, took a shot of the OUTside of the chapel area, found my car, left, paid a buck, and came back here to sort through what I'd done and see if I could steal some images off the Internet of the shots I couldn't get.

I couldn't. They were all pretty muddy and small, so I just formatted what I had, and sent those along to him. But not before falling victim AGAIN to the pernicious Adobe bug that affects our computers. Was going to look at one of the hospital's marketing things to see if it had a usable photo, and before I realized it, I'd clicked on a .pdf. EEEEKKK! BAD MOJO! It chugged for a second or two, and then the screen went blank.

Bzzooooh. Blip.


Redid my e-mail, reattached the proper photos, sent it along to him, left him a message on his cell phone, and now I am now going to go home.

So there.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 06:16 PM | Comments (10)

And then...

I did even MORE laundry!

Sunday was full of church things, as well as...


I went all the way over to the Head Start over by Target and got Miss Amanda to give me the "ol' once over," if you know what I mean. What she did with her hands--why, I don't know if you'd be able to stand it--but she put her hands all over my entire scalp!! And then, when I thought surely she must have exhausted herself, she proceeded to gently unbutton the


"Scandalous!" you exclaim?

Why, yes, I suppose so. But such is the thrill-a-minute life I lead. I even gave her a two dollar tip!

Now then, back to what I was doing before, which was typing. Uhmm, I mean TYPING!!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:13 PM | Comments (5)

And so...

...slowly I lifted the lid. Nothing. Nothing but wet clothes, that is.

I took them out one by one, and they landed in the basket at my feet with a damp clammy plop. I had just reached in to grab the last item when SUDDENLY! There it IS! A PENNY!

See how exciting that was, even though you already KNEW what was coming! That's the way ALL my weekends are--just one exciting thing after another! I went to the grocery store first thing Saturday to get detergent, and I found they had big jugs of liquid Tide with FEBREEZE!! And I got EGGS! And BACON!!

After breakfast, I unloaded the DISHWASHER!

Afterwards, since the rain had stopped I decided to work on my CAR! I recently bought a new (used) center brake light for it, because the plastic cover on the old one had gone to the Great Plastics Graveyard in the Sky. It had also come unmoored again from its fiendishly difficult to fix slidey retainer clip thing that was glued to the back window. SO, while it was nice and cloudy, I figured I'd go work on that. You know what? Even though it was cloudy, it was about 500 degrees in the car, and the humidity was like a wet wool sock stuffed in my nose. Five minutes I was drenched in sweat. Changed out the entire lamp fixture, and got out my BLS.

"BLS?" you ask?

Why yes, my BLS--the Brake Light Stick. Those of you with old cars know how often the brake lights seem to fail, and in order to tell which ones are burnt out, you need to be able to look at them, but to look at them, you need to hold the brake pedal down, and unless you have some of those cool stilts like the circus tall-guy has, you can't quite stand behind the car and push the brake pedal with your foot, so you need a short stick that you can wedge between the big metal hump on the floorboard (or other convenient vertical surface) and the brake pedal. (My BLS also happens to double as my ice scraper and frost brush, because that's what it is.)

Anyway, I deployed my BLS, and to my everloving consternation found that my new center high-mount stop light (CHMSL) did not light. It was the AntiCHMSL! (SEE!? EXCITEMENT!!)

Grumble. Grumble. Unhook the thing and find out that although the fixture looked brand new except for a bit of dust, it did come from the seller with a burnt out bulb. AHHHH!


SO, a trip to the store was in order, since I had no new bulbs of this particular type. And I needed something to reattach the aforementioned slidey retainer clippy deal that glues to the back window.

Off down to the foot of the hill, AHGGHHHHH!! ARMADILLO!

Filthy leprotic little stupid beasties, and now they live where I DO! Oh well. On down to the car parts place, where I hoped that Lisa the Parts Guy would be on duty.

She wasn't.

It was Terry. Not me, though--the OTHER Terry, who has more gray hair and less fat. ::sigh:: Found a package of bulbs, found some black adhesive (the place where the retainer clip sticks on has a flat black coating on it to hide the various bits of electrical hardware, so I wanted something to cover up the BIG GIGANTIC BIT OF MISSING BLACK that used to be on the window before the clip came unglued the last time, taking part of the black with it. Not that you cared.) and headed back up the hill to the house.


I'll never get used to seeing those things.

Home, pop in the new bulb, use the BLS--YAY!! SUCCESS! Sort of. Something was wrong.

Even though all the brake lights were working, the specially-designed Volvo Bulb Out Warning Light on the dash kept coming on every time I pushed the brakes. But--but the brake lights work!



I hate me.

A lot.

I figured out, as I had started to sweat copiously once again, the root of the problem. That new light I bought was a slightly newer version of the fixture. It still had the same dimensions, but the bulb and holder were different. And the way the Bulb Out Warning works is by measuring the electrical resistance in the circuit--a different bulb, even if it does light up, has a different resistance than what was originally on the car. Which caused the warning to come on.

I am a moron.

SO, off with the new guts of the light, and back on with the OLD lamp--thank HEAVENS the black plastic cover (the reason for all of this in the first place) was the same for both versions of the lamp--it still fit the old one. The only other thing left to do was to reglue the retainer onto the window, which was done with no further mess or dismay.

And today, that brake light is firmly attached to its retainer clips, and has a spiffy new plastic cover that doesn't have a bit of black electrical tape holding it on! Yet.


And now, ice cream for everyone!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:22 PM | Comments (10)

Made it AGAIN!

Yet another weekend passed in which I was not struck by a meteorite or a bus! So, we must call it a success.

As for the more full discussion of that weekend, however, you're going to have to wait. I walked in to a bunch of junk to do this morning, so it's going to be a while before you get to hear about the DEAD ARMADILLO I found--RIGHT DOWN THE HILL FROM WHERE I LIVE! I had thought we would be able to be bypassed by this invasion of yet ANOTHER slow, dimwitted, nocturnal set of critters, but it appears that we possums now have some competition. But, as I said, you'll have to wait a bit to hear about that. AND about the Great Pear Harvest--we went and picked Boy's tree Saturday after the yard dried out some. We wound up with about 40 giant pears. All of them looked to be about the size of a grapefruit. We'd have had even more if the blasted squirrels and birds and bugs would have left them alone. ANYway, you'll hear about that later.

Wait a minute. I just realize I've told you the two MOST EXCITING things that happened all weekend!! Now all that's left is to hear about laundry.

Oh well. Come back after while and we'll talk about the shiny PENNY I found!

Dang--I gave away the surprise again. Just come back later and we'll all sit around and look at each other.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:23 AM | Comments (14)

August 11, 2006


Well, okay, if you insist. All of you have a happy weekend, and come back on Monday and let's see what all happened.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

Lunch with My Friend Jeff!

Well, it was long past time to meet and swap car magazines, so we hied ourselves over to the oh-so-precious environs of the new SoHo Square. No, not this one--this one in Homewood, which is just chock full of shops and restaurants and condos and pretense.

In order to make the biggest impact in reducing the level of chi-chi, we ate at the very hippy dippy zoës restaurant, and to further reduce the pleasant ambience, we decided to seat ourselves right out in front on the patio so we would not be missed.

And I have to admit it whether I want to or not, but in spite of the girly atmosphere, they really do have good food. Not big enough portions to my way of thinking (and eating), but what they give you is good.

I had a chicken roll-up that consisted of chicken, rolled up, and marinated slaw with chips, and Jeff had something else.

Topics of lunchtime conversation included kids; school; teenaged drivers; overprotective parents; underprotective parents; garage cleaning; car repair; the fact that Jonathan is 12; the fact that although Jonathan still looks like a little kid; the girls in his class who do cheerleading definitely do NOT look like kids; vacation; jobs; men who wear makeup; pigeons; Engrish (YEASTY!); more car repair; building contractors; BMW pedal cars; paint; RAIN!

As we finished up our lunch, a sudden thunderstorm boiled up so we ran inside lest we become dampened and continued on with our conversation--women; The Bad Place; mullets; Gomez Addams; bicycles; yet more car repair--with injuries!; tools. The rain let up, so we went out and finished up the day with a review of reading material (various Hemmings, Automobile, AutoWeek, Hot Rod, and Car Craft for him, and three lousy Car and Drivers for me), and cleavage.

It was a very good lunch.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:48 PM | Comments (6)

The Scandal That Squeaked

How can you tell when the New York Times is wrong about something?

When the original story takes up 3,245 words, and the story reporting the final outcome of the investigation [NYTimes registration required] that was launched by that original story only yields 857 words.

In the end, the University's investigation found that--despite the Times' breathless hopefulness for a rousing athletic scandal at an SEC school (check the title of that first article--"Top Grades and No Class Time for Auburn Players")--the problem lay more with the lax standards for assigning directed study classes.

The University has now released a revised standard for how, when, and to whom directed studies classes may be assigned, and the two professors holding leadership positions within the disputed areas of study have stepped aside and returned to normal teaching duties.

There is still a petulent tawdry little tale in here, however, of academic snittiness by folks who by all rights should know better. The professor who first brought up the allegations of abuse made a point of directly accusing not only a professor, but also the athletic department of wrongdoing, but he now seems to think the University was wrong to concentrate on clearing the athletics department. Or something--here's his quote:

[...] Gundlach said in a telephone interview Thursday evening that the changes were “much more than I expected, to be honest.”

“I expected them to do everything possible to clear athletics,” Gundlach said. “You can see that when this first came out, athletics was their primary concern. With those kinds of policy changes in directed readings, and a change in administrators because they are not maintaining academic integrity, I think are all pretty good things to come out of this.” [...]

Why NOT do everything possible to make sure the athletics program was cleared? THAT'S WHO WAS ACCUSED OF WRONGDOING. That department would be the one most harmed were the charges of "easy grades for athletes" to be accurate. That department would be the one which stood to lose millions of dollars if any sort of NCAA violations took place.

And THAT is why the good professor decided to use the athletics department as a foil to make SURE he got changes made. I am certain he could see from his own data that athletes weren't the only ones to benefit from the poor control over assignment of directed studies, but he knew they would be the only tool to make sure the University did something.

And a sports scandal is the only thing sexy enough to make the New York Times take any notice of anything related to Alabama at all. Because, let's face it, there is no such thing as a scandal when just regular students stumble upon a way to make an easy A, but there IS when it involves big time athletics. If, indeed, it actually did in the first place.

Now, whether using the athletics program as a tool to further his goals was smart on his part, or whether this was driven by a pure desire to hold the Sociology department to the most rigorous academic standards, or whether it was just a crass attempt to embarrass a colleague whom he disliked, I can't say. But for the love of all that's holy, DON'T sit there and act surprised that the university did exactly what you'd hoped they'd do--snap to attention when an allegation of misdeeds by the athletic department were made, and were made in a way guaranteed to cause as much heat as possible by peddling the story to the Times.

The Times allows this to end the article:

[...] Gundlach said he was optimistic that there would be positive changes in academics. He noted a memo sent to professors insisting that they provide rigor in their regular courses.

“I think we’re going to see a noticeable change in the academic climate at Auburn,” Gundlach said. “I think we’ll see a lot more students on study dates then [sic--or, at least I think it is... Ed.] drinking dates.”

Yes, now there will be no more drunken debauchery upon the Plains. Not that I don't think it's a noble goal--I happen to believe life for everyone would be a lot better if folks didn't dip into the booze vat. And further, I think the vast majority of directed study classes ARE a crock, and I wouldn't have my feelings hurt if they were done away with completely. But I think the good professor might be indulging in a bit of self-serving wishful thinking here. Just a smidge.

Anyway, as things move forward from here, let's remember one thing: sociology isn't exactly up there with aerospace engineering when it comes to the amount of mental rigor required to be successful at it.

Or as my good friend Dan Rather might say, "Just because you saw a dancing chicken at the state fair doesn't mean Fred Astaire could lay eggs."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:58 AM | Comments (10)


Good grief, this thing packs away the vittles like a starving tiger. It's difficult to believe how tiny and meek he was when he first came to live with us. He's filling out nicely and is frankly the most athletic cat I've ever had. We can let him out of his pen and after a few skips and hops to loosen up, he lays his ears back, fuzzes himself up, and streaks around the yard at top speed, and climbs up every tree at an equal speed. And not just to the first branch--he goes WAY up in the trees, and then as far out on various limbs as he can. The kids freak out and think he'll be stuck up there forever, but they're finally realizing I was right when I said not to worry about it, using that time-tested platitude--"How many cat skeletons have you ever seen in a tree?"

TODAY'S first photo has Cat trying vainly to subdue The Cat for his closeup.

And the second is Cat in her Birmingham-Southern Panther-Cat shirt, after wrestling The Cat into submission. He got loose after this was taken and climbed a tree.

Silly Cats.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:21 AM | Comments (6)

August 10, 2006

Perpetuating the Stereotype, Volume---uhhmm, I seem to have lost count...

Four neighbors arrested for fight over cigarette butt

DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — A cigarette butt casually tossed to the ground sparked a daylong argument between four neighbors that escalated into a fight that sent at least three of them to the hospital and got them all arrested.

"It's sad that people were injured over a cigarette butt," Lt. Chris Mathews, spokesman for the Decatur Police Department, said Thursday.

Sad, yes, but still, COMEDY GOLD!

Police said a guest visiting Bobby Joe Ray, 42, tossed a cigarette butt toward the edge of Ray's yard on Aug. 4. The butt landed near a fence belonging to Ray's neighbor, Michael Alan Bradford, 24. Bradford got angry and started shouting about it.

The odds of someone in this story being named Bobby Joe Ray?

You have to figure they're about even.

Several residents of the neighborhood said Ray and Bradford argued about the butt all day, Mathews said, and eventually Ray's sister, Shirley Lynn Ray White, 32, who lives across the street, tangled with Bradford's wife, Health Mills Bradford, [sic. Her name is actually "Heather" we learn later. But she's probably not the same Heather Mills who was married to Paul McCartney. And I don't know if she has a fake leg or not. As with the previous odds-making, I'd give it about an even chance. Ed.] 27, and the men soon joined in.

Reminds me somewhat of the old Todd Rundgren tune, "Bang on the Drum All Day," as in, "I'm Gonna Argue 'Bout the Butt All Day!"

At least three went to the hospital for treatment of injuries, and all four were arrested Tuesday and were released on bond the same day.

Shirley Lynn Ray White is charged with third-degree assault. Bobby Joe Ray and Heather Mills Bradford are charged with harassment. Michael Alan Bradford is charged with harassment and third-degree assault.

Officials confirm that there is no ordinance in Decatur prohibiting stupidity.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:48 PM | Comments (3)

The Private Distress of the Chronically Bothered

You ever see someone with their clothes adrift in some way--a button loose, a hem turned up, a pant leg in a sock--and it's all you can do to not fix it?

I don't know when this started with me. I suppose it was when we got so many kids in the house, necessitating near constant attention to insure that various pants are zipped, shirts are on right-side-out, and skirts are not stuffed into unmentionables. Oftimes it's just easier to reach over and fix that flipped up collar, even if the kid in question doesn't like me doing it.

Anyway, that nervous fidgetiness regarding someone else's appearance sometimes hits at bad times, such as just now, as I stood in line at Sneaky Pete's for lunch, and there was a hefty lass in front of me, and I could tell that her right bra strap was twisted. I was in one of those wandering-mind mindsets, and for an all-too-long split second, I considered reaching up there to fix it for her.

Luckily, I caught myself before embarrassing myself. And lest you think this was some veiled attempt at groping a good-looking female, I must be frank and say that although I do not automatically disdain women of a certain avoirdupois, once it becomes obvious that they outweigh me, the desire level drops off precipitously. And by my reckoning, this young lady made about 1.7 of me.

It was just that darned bra strap--WRONG! "Can't she FEEL that? Doesn't that drive her INSANE?" Apparently not. Or, at least not as much as it does some people.

I am reminded of an old story told by the late Grady Nutt. Obviously, this retelling leaves something to be desired, since storytelling requires an element of hearing and seeing, but I think it's funny so I'll put it here anyway.

Grady said he was sitting in church and it came time to stand up and sing the invitation hymn. As everyone stood, he noticed a kind sister in front of him, of considerable girth, whose dress had become lodged up between the valley that marks the joining of her left and her right leg. He decided to be of help to the unsuspecting woman, and so he reached out and gently tugged her dress out of its resting place.

He said the next thing he knew, that big gal swung around and caught him in the head with a hymnal. After recovering, he took the open cover of his own songbook and reached back over the pew, and shoved her dress back up into her cleft. Whirling around again in a rage, the angry woman walloped him again and asked just exactly what he thought he was doing. "Well, you got so mad when I pulled your dress out of there, I thought you must have wanted it to stay up in there!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:50 PM | Comments (4)

See? B.S.

CBS' Wallace interviews Iran president

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer

NEW YORK - Twenty-seven years after a chilling sit-down with Ayatollah Khomeini that was one of Mike Wallace's most memorable, the CBS newsman snagged an interview this week with current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.

The 88-year-old Wallace had been pursuing the interview for so long that he had to be reminded by Ahmadinejad when he first asked for it. [...]

Of Ahmadinejad, Wallace said, "He's an impressive fellow, this guy. He really is. He's obviously smart as hell."

Wallace said he was surprised to find that the Iranian president was still a college professor who taught a graduate-level course.

"You'll find him an interesting man," he said. "I expected more of a firebrand. I don't think he has the slightest doubt about how he feels ... about the American administration and the Zionist state. He comes across as more rational than I had expected." [...]

"And he left me a 20 on the nightstand, and when I gave him my number, he even said he'd call me again!"

Mr. Wallace seems to be of the mind that evil and intelligence are somehow mutually exclusive. I am not the least bit surprised.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:14 PM | Comments (7)

I didn't even realize he had still been with us.

But he had been, up until yesterday, when he passed away at 91. In a field full of big brainy brilliance, he still managed to find a way to make his mark--Pioneering Astrophysicist James Van Allen Dies

An autobiographical article from 1990 can be found here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

Well, if he's NOT crazy...

...then he sure is stupid for picking the absolute worst time to take a high-speed drive through an airport fence--Man crashes through Fla. airport fence

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A driver believed to be mentally ill crashed through a fence and led police on a high-speed chase around a runway, endangering passengers on two planes, authorities said.

The car crashed through a perimeter security gate and onto a runway at Southwest Florida International Airport, came close to a Southwest Airlines plane that was taking off Tuesday night and sped under the wing of another plane preparing to depart, authorities said. [...]

The chase began when a Lee County sheriff's deputy showed up at 34-yer-old [sic] Jack J. Brems' Fort Myers home on a disturbance call. A port authority officer picked up the chase after Brems' car crashed through the airport security gate. [...]

Brems' former father-in-law, Dennis Mucerino, said Brems had been treated for mental illness and had recently started referring to himself as Jesus.

"He kept preaching the Bible," said Mucerino, who lives two doors down from Brems in San Carlos Park. "He was coming down to my house. He wouldn't stop talking. You couldn't get a word in. I told him to go away because I didn't like dealing with him." [...]

Just a tip here, folks, but if one of your family members starts getting all Messianic on you, don't let him have the car keys.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:56 AM | Comments (1)

Oh, my!

Google sees privacy threats

By Eric Auchard
Wed Aug 9, 6:38 PM ET

SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) - Web search leader Google Inc., which stores vast amounts of data on the Web surfing habits of its users, sees government intrusions rather than accidental public disclosures of data as the greatest threat to online privacy, its chief executive said on Wednesday. [...]

'Unless, of course, you're talking about the Chinese government, in which case we'd like to say they are fantabulous and kind and always smile broadly at us and have such lovely, thick black hair! Super-duper folks, those Chinese! No, what we're talking about are the governments that don't require us to pay what amounts to huge bribes to operate in their countries. THOSE are the really dangerous ones, you know. Just can't trust them an INCH. Sure, the Chinese can look at anything they want, anytime they want, but they're not the least bit dangerous to us. Especially after we make sure nothing bad gets through. Nope--no Falun Gong for us! Strictly business, you know--we've got to be there when the masses of Chinese people want to use a search engine. I mean, they're gonna use SOMEthing, right? Why not Google, we say! But AMERICA! Oooh, buddy--THERE'S your problem.'

Anyway, to paraphrase the old joke, we've determined what Google is (along with Yahoo! and Microsoft) , all we're doing now is negotiating the price.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

Speaking of Religion...

Famed rocket scientist and pushrod adjuster Steevil sends along (via the Volokh Conspiracy) a worthy and fine rendition of a somewhat Biblical take on dietary laws, especially as they pertain to youngsters.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:34 AM | Comments (4)

You know, for something that prides itself on being...

...The Religion of Peace, they sure do seem to breed a lot of folks with decidedly antipeaceful aspirations. Oh, sure, we're supposed to adhere to the PC line that anyone could be a terrorist--from the little old grandma clutching her bottle of Sprite to the family of ruddy Ohioans travelling to Washington with two screaming babies and a twin stroller--but you know, it never seems people like that are the ones who wind up getting caught in these sorts of incidents. Yeah--I know--because of the West's hatred of the swarthy man, such people are ignored.

Yet, still, for some reason, I just can't help but think that if you're going to call yourself peaceful adherents to a religion whose name means peace, that you'd do a lot better in the PR arena if you'd quit trying to come up with new ways to kill all the Jews and infidels and be a bit more like the Amish. They seem to get along okay in this world, even with all of its Jews and infidels and "the English," and I can't remember the last time any of them drove a buggy full of black powder into the county square and detonated it for the sake of purifying the world of unbelievers and paving the way for the return of the Caliphate.

Oh, sure, that would mean you have to actually become a productive citizen and work at something like working a plow or a two-man saw, and you'd have to actually practice what you preach, and you'd have to stop blaming everyone else when you stub your toe, and well, you know, quit just being so flippin' insane and all, but I think the idea is at least worth considering.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:03 AM | Comments (7)

"Happy anniversary, baby..."

I got the Smiths on my miiiii-ind! Dr. Smith and his nice wife, whom I've never met, celebrate 32 years of connubial bliss! Glad tidings to them both.

And not only that, but Jimbo also celebrates three years of blogubial bliss for Unfreezing. Congratulations on that as well, Doc.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2006

As for middle school...

We managed to find a good parking place in the back of the building, which was nice, but had to stand around for several minutes before we could get in the building. There must be some new state regulation requiring a certain amount of sweat and body odor in schools, and they wanted to make sure they hit their quota.

First up, Rebecca and the 8th graders. Got her schedule from the lunch room, no changes. She had really wanted Latin. Maybe next year. On then to her homeroom to get her locker and drop off her supplies, then back out to the hallway to see if the locker worked. It did. And it's a top one, which is nice.

Next stop, the front lobby of the school for Jonathan's schedule. One change in PE teacher, and that was it. Dropped off his supplies, went and got his locker card, made sure it worked, and it did. And it's a top one, too.

THEN back around to see everyone's teachers, although I had to cut it short so I could get back here. I was on a combination lunch hour/comp time hour and I could hear the clock chiming midnight and could see my lovely gown turning back into tatters, so we had to rush out and get the kids dropped back off at Grandmom's house.

Of course, they aren't really kids anymore. This was made quite obvious when we ran into a couple of the girls Rebecca had played soccer with. One in particular I remember from just a couple of years ago--she was the second tiniest player on the team--little stick arms and legs and a mop of baby fine hair on top. Somewhere between then and now she grew up into a model. As tall as me, and with arms and legs that turned from sticks into stems.

Tempus fugit, and all.

Anyway, tomorrow starts a brand new school year. It should be interesting.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

A milestone, of sorts.

For all you lovers of homely Swedish automobiles, at 12:21 p.m. today, at this stretch of Interstate--

located one mile from the I-59/I-459 interchange, the I Am A Moron Project turned over 225,000 miles.

Approximately. I mean, there was several years in there where the previous owner didn't have an operable odometer, but he did keep up with his mileage through the use of a highly entertaining and somewhat disturbing set of office calendars, where he obsessively would track his mileage driven to and from work each day, along with gas prices and repair work. Adding up the mileage of all the separate entries allowed me to piece together a workable estimate of total mileage that I used when I repaired the odometer gear. It's not exact, but I will say it's probably pretty darned close.

So, a tip of the hat to the fellows in Gothenburg who designed him, and to the folks in Torslanda who put him together.

(And yes, I know the temp gauge looks like it's about to explode, but it went back down to normal soon after the photo was taken. Don't know if I have a sticky thermostat or just need to change out the coolant. I will take care of it, though.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:26 PM | Comments (11)

Ever have one of those happy-scared moments?

Just got a call from Miss Reba, who, due to the fact that I had an early morning meeting and will have to take off later this afternoon to go take the middle kids to school, took it upon herself to wake up at FOUR A.M. today to haul Oldest BACK down to the driver's license place in order to attempt once again to take the driving test. They left at 4:30, got there around 5:00, and found that there were already two people in line ahead of them! Those people got there at 4:00. Again--that's four o'clock in the EVER-LOVIN' MORNING!

But at least this time, Oldest was assured that she would get her turn.

She made an 81.

She is now officially able to operate a motor vehicle in every single territory, possession, commonwealth and state in the Union, and I assume in both the provinces of Canada and the states of Mexico.

And full of happy-scaredness am I.

As for her test, she did have a bit of trouble from the administrator for not using hand-over-hand steering. Part of this is my fault, partly the fault of her driving instructor last year. He never taught them about the "proper" way of using the tiller, while I, on the other hand, did show her the "proper" way, as well as something better.

I cautioned her that since cars now have airbags, there is some concern that if you are ever in an accident that causes the airbag to deploy while you are in the middle of a turning movement using the hand-over-hand method, the force of the deployment could cause you to smash your face with the back of your forearm, leading to broken bones in your face and arm, or worse. (.pdf from NHSTA research discussing this here, and an abstract of an article from The Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care here.)

I think in the greater scheme of things, the probability of such an occurance is tiny, but it's worth thinking about, as is the habit of some people to park their hand at the top of the steering wheel as they drive.

Anyway, what I showed her is the way I drive now, which is something like the way you drivers of old Italian cars operate--shuffling the wheel underhanded. (Older Italian cars are referenced due to a peculiar habit of having their steering wheels at an angle something like that of a bus.) It has the advantage of keeping your hands out of the line of your sight, as well as off the center of the steering wheel where the bag of exploding gas resides. (Related articles on technique here and here.)

But the test administrator graded off for that. Whatever.

So, now there begins a new phase in her life, and no doubt more gray hair springing out of my scalp.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:42 AM | Comments (10)

August 08, 2006

'Nother'n tomorrow.

Busy day, that is. Got my regular off-campus meeting of the style patrol, then have to leave at lunch to go ferry the two middle-schoolers to the middle school so they can meet their teachers and stuff. So, as has become all too frequent, your usual dollop of possum for the day will be reduced in size by 90%, and it will lack the usual package of condiments, and you will be forced to consume it with a single chopstick.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause.

Until we meet again, then!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

I don't think it means what you think it means.

I was sitting in class Sunday listening to a good lesson about the necessity of sacrifice when the teacher got tangled up on a word. He searched his mind for a second before deciding "spontanuity" was what he wanted.

'That's an odd one,' I thought. He was going for either "spontaneous" or "spontaneity" but what came out sounded like some kind of a cross between spontaneous and continuous. Or maybe spontaneous and ingenuity. Or, as the Pseudodictionary has it, a combined form of spontaneous and opportunity.

Anyway, now I can't quit thinking about it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:27 PM | Comments (8)

Small things.

I was sitting in my chair in the bedroom last night watching the news when Catherine came bounding through to say goodnight to us and give us our goodnight kisses.

Kiss, hug, head butt.

Odd thing we picked up over the years, that. I don't know what ever started it, but it's sort of a hug without hugging. Probably had to substitute it for a real hug for some time when we were holding a baby or something. Anyway, a kiss on the cheek, a real hug with arms, and then we touched our noggins together for a moment.

"I love you--sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite."

"Okay, I love you, too, Daddy!"

Off she went in a flash.

Reba was working on work stuff on the bed and said, "We were in the car yesterday going over to Mom's house and Catherine looked at me and said, 'It's almost time to go back to school, isn't it, Mom?' and she just looked so sad!"

I know that look--she's usually such a bounding swoosh of ball lightning, but sometimes she gets still enough to think about things, and sometimes those things make her sad. And the summer, which is already shorter than it was back when I was young, and was made shorter still by her not getting to ride her bike nearly enough, well, it finally hit her that Thursday is the end of all of it until next year.

For me the summers are all beginning to run together, but to her they're all still living individuals--they come for a while for a visit then leave. It's never long enough when they decide to go, and never soon enough till they come again.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:38 PM | Comments (11)


Judge: Lawyer is too drunk to argue case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A judge ordered a blood-alcohol test for a defense lawyer whom she said smelled of alcohol, then declared a mistrial after declaring him too tipsy to argue a kidnapping case.

"I don't think you can tell a straight story because you are intoxicated," Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt told defense lawyer Joseph Caramango as she declared a mistrial for Caramango's client, Dale Jakuchunas.

Caramango told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a Tuesday report that he was not drunk, and had been ready to go forward with witness testimony. Jakuchunas, 32, faces life in prison if convicted.

"I've always considered myself the consummate professional," Caramango said. "I take all my cases very personally."

He said he received a head injury in a rear-end car crash while driving to court on Thursday, but that police were not called. Caramango did not immediately respond Tuesday to a message seeking comment.

In an exchange recorded by courtroom video, Caramango arrived about 90 minutes late for trial, and can be heard slurring his words.

The judge asked if something was wrong, and said she became suspicious when details of Caramango's accident account varied.

Caramango also identified a woman who accompanied him to court as his ex-girlfriend, and called her Christine. Questioned by the judge, the woman identified herself as Josephine and said she just met Caramango about 20 minutes earlier at a nearby bar and grill.

Leavitt summoned Caramango and prosecutors into her chambers and ordered Caramango to be examined by a courthouse nurse.

The nurse told the judge that Caramango said he had shots of tequila hours before court. Caramango acknowledged in court that he was drinking the previous night, but maintained he was not drunk. [...]

I am reminded of the heartwarming scene in of one of the early episodes of Happy Days, when Ritchie sneaks out to a fraternity party.

RITCHIE: 'I'm not drunk--we just had beer, in teeeeeny weeny little glasses.'

MR. CUNNINGHAM: 'How many teeny weeny little glasses did you have?'

RITCHIE: 'Seventy-two.'

There's probably a good Johnnie Cochranism wandering around here somewhere, too--something like, "If the lawyer's lit, you MUST acquit." (You know, it's hard to make up a rhyme for 'mistrial'.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:12 PM | Comments (3)

Ol' Slow Joe

I just saw the story that Senator Lieberman's website was hacked--you know, for a bunch of folks who spend countless hours patting themselves on the back for their open-mindedness and acceptance and tolerance and love and peace and gigantically-brained intellectuality, the people who are doing their best to destroy the Democratic Party seem awful annoyed when it comes to allowing anyone to say anything with which they disagree.

Mr. Lieberman is a liberal. The fact that he has a reasoned and logical stance regarding the use of American force in Iraq or elsewhere in the fight to defeat terrorism that just happens to be similar to the views of people in the Republican Party shouldn't--in a sane world--mean that he should become a pariah to his political party. I doubt that I would agree with him on much of anything, but I believe I could guarantee you we could sit down and have a really good conversation over lunch, and I could leave feeling that it's good to be an American, and that I was glad I got to sit down and have a nice chat with him. Whether I agree with him or not, I think he's got scruples, and a backbone, which puts him ahead of far too many people in this country.

Whether he wins or loses today, I figure he can sleep at night, and that says a lot.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:55 PM | Comments (5)

Speaking of cars...

...Chef Tony e-mailed me the news that Chevy is going to go ahead with production of the Camaro concept car they've recently been flogging, and asked my opinion of the decision.

Well, I've actually already mentioned what I think of the concept, back in January.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but while the new Camaro is interesting, it still does not grab me the way the Dodge Challenger does, or even the new Mustang. I take issue with its unconvincing grille treatment, and with the fact that the lead designer STILL insists that inspiration for the concept came from the '69 model (the '69 was the one with the pronounced lines streaking back from the tops of the wheel well openings--the new concept looks much more like a '68, but what do I know), but most of all, I have seen how badly GM can mess up a perfectly good concept when it goes through the production justification process.

For some reason, DaimlerChrysler has been incredibly consistent in bringing cars to market that LOOK like the concept cars they were based on--Viper, Prowler, Magnum, 300, PT Cruiser, Crossfire, Pacifica--all of them obviously varied in detail from the showcar prototypes, but the overall look is remarkably true to the design intent.

GM, on the other hand, has long had a way of cheapening everything to squeeze out the last few quarter pennies. In the past, this has been quite visible, mainly due to the wheel and tire packages offered on their "hot" designs. Too often, what goes out on the sales lot are cars with supposed sporting intentions, wearing the most meek and knock-kneed wheels imaginable. The lamentable Aztek was most noticeable in this regard, with its huge ungainliness seeming to wallow around on roller skate casters, but it also afflicted the weird, Dustbuster-nosed GM minivans of the early-'90s as well. Both of these looked pretty interesting as concept cars, with wheels and tires large enough to add some visual balance to their peculiar proportions, but none of that made it through accounting.

To be fair, General Motors lately has made remarkable strides in coming up with good designs that translate well to production--the Pontiac Solstice was an especially well-done concept-to-production design, although the usual cheapness managed to manifest itself in other areas, such as interior trim and a certain heaviness and lack of integration not found in its closest competitor, the Miata. The Corvette continues to have much goodness to it from concept to roadway, and the HHR looks like its showcar forebear, and for the most visually arresting concept that became real, I'd have to say the giant-wheeled, gigantic truck/roadster SS-R looks about as much like the concept vehicle as was possible.

But that itself is why GM continues to confound me.

The reason the Camaro and Firebird were killed in the first place after the 2002 model year was that GM said they couldn't make a business case for it. Certainly plausible--the market for largish, rear-wheel-drive, V8 GT coupes has never been a huge one, and has been shrinking in recent years. Back in the long-ago, this didn't make as much difference because this ponycar segment (named after the most successful of the breed, the Mustang) relied on sharing parts with a variety of other model lines. The Camaro shared parts with the Nova, just as the Mustang did with the Falcon, and the Barracuda did with the Valiant. When Camaro and Firebird's F-body became its own platform with the 1984 model, GM took a gamble that they'd be able to sell enough to justify it. And they did, and apparently enough to give them the confidence to tool up for an even more capable upgrade for what was to become the last, 4th Generation version. It was a very good chassis, and maybe too good for a car that started out with economy car roots.

By the time the last ones rolled off the line, they were competitive with the Corvette in terms of power and handling. But there were no real gas-sipper, peppy sporty versions--sure, some came with V6s, but it wasn't a convincingly economical car to drive. And again, the market for big, heavy grand touring cars was changing, so it might not have made good business sense for Chevy to continue making them, or at least not in that way.

The nagging question I always had, though, was if there was no case to be made for keeping the car, or coming up with a way to justify production through shared parts with another model, how in the WORLD was there a way to justify production of the SS-R!? A huge, heavy, thirsty--but admittedly very fast--convertible truckette that could only seat two people. And the styling--although I like it from the kustom kar point of view, wasn't really one of those things that polarizes people the right way.

I'm sick to death of hearing car designers say about ugly stuff that only a few people REALLY like well enough to purchase, "Well, it's really a love-it or hate-it design." That might be fine for some things, but when you're making a multi-billion dollar investment, I think I'd have much have a design that THOUSANDS of people would give their left arm to own and only two or three hate enough to close their eyes when they see it, rather than vice-versa. I don't think the SS-R was ugly, necessarily, but I can tell you right now it was never something that a hundred thousand people would want to buy.

But, they built it anyway.

Must have had some extra money floating around after killing off the Camaro, and couldn't do anything with it.

Anyway, I hope that GM does find a way to make a good, four-passenger, rear drive coupe. I hope it looks good, and drives good, and is built with an eye toward long-term value, not short term cheapness. I hope it is lightweight and efficient, yet sturdy as an anvil. I hope it can offer the public a variety of driving options, from simple, sporty, fuel-efficient transportation to something so lurid and violent and window-rattling that Mustang drivers wet their pants everytime they see one turn the corner.

That is a tall order, and one I don't think the Camaro concept as it is now will be able to fill.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

There is no such thing as wasted time.

Oh, I mean, sure--you show up at the license-getting place at 7:30, even though you already warned a particular person that you needed to be out of the house REALLY early because there were only so many places available in line even though the place opens at 8, and anyway, you get there at 7:30, and you see that there's a line of approximately 60 people ahead of you, some in lawn chairs, the rest sitting on the sidewalk, all waiting with the same sense of dead dread of not being close enough to the front of the line. SO, you park, and go take your place at the tail of the line. Your companion hauls out a book and starts reading while you sit there and worry about scuffing your work shoes. Then you sort of nod off a bit. You wake back up and look around. Girl and her mama to the left of you. The younger wears her hair dyed black and burgundy and chopped with a Cuisinart, and has a bright silver pimple protruding from her upper lip. She does, however, have a tiny, almost baby-like whisper when she talks to her mom, which is something of a shock. Especially since the person you brought with you--who looks quiet and demure--is now loudly declaiming all of the knowledge of the known universe. Or, rather--the knowledge of HER known universe, which you and everyone else in line is quick to understand is not quite so deep nor wide as she seems to think. But we are not the target audience, are we? No, that would be the ultra-cool young man with the perfectly recreated Andy Gibb hairdo, circa 1978, who is doing his best to carefully exude his ultra-coolness and hairness, alternately complaining about school then bragging about all the classes he's taking.

At 8:15 everyone in line stands up and we stand up and stand.

By this time, I figure that about half the line--which has now grown to around 80 people or so--aren't actually taking a test of any sort. They're chauffeurs. So, only about forty actual testees. Of those, only a certain other percentage are taking the driving test. How many I don't know. But if there are more than 20, we are sunk for the day. Young Master Gibb did manage to work in some good information to someone else in line, that being that they only administer ten driving tests in the morning, and ten in the afternoon.

We wound our way around the sidewalk and finally made it to the corner where we could actually see the doorway. "The spots for the morning driving test are now full!" boomed the deputy sheriff at the door. They'd gotten through about the first third of the line. We trudged forward some more. "The spots for the afternoon driving test are now full!" We were about ten people away from the door.


Well, not much else to do except leave. I did decide to ask the deputy what sort of information was required to take the test, seeing as how these places are notoriously lackadaisical about having such information in one easy-to-decipher location. "Permit, proof of insurance, and registration."

The latter two of which were not mentioned anywhere in anything I read online.

My passenger and I walked back to the parking lot. "I'm NEVER going to GET my LICENSE!"

"Look, there's several million licensed drivers in Alabama--if they managed to get one, I really don't think you have too much to worry about."

But, you know, logic being useless in such instances, she merely kept repeating her grumpy rote paean to victimhood. Whatever.

Back to home, dropped her off, and went by the school to get them to confirm for our car insurance company that she's had driver training and is a good student (the standards of which are remarkably pliable) and headed on in to work.

MUCH earlier than I would have ever anticipated.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:53 AM | Comments (5)

August 07, 2006

Well now, tomorrow...

...tomorrow is gonna be a LOT more funnier than today's been!

Or not.

I'll just have to wait and see. As I noted, I will be taking a certain child of mine over to the driver's license place to sit in a big waiting room full of people also waiting to take their driving tests. Based on the experience we had when she went to get her learner's permit, I imagine there will probably be something that we've forgotten and that will be unobtainable during normal business hours.

ANYway, all that to say that the Possumblog Show will start much later than usual tomorrow, or, depending on the efficiency and punctuality of our local cadre of licensing administrators, not at all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:23 PM | Comments (2)

24 Seconds

Well, I'll be. I always kinda wondered, but never figured it out. But now I know.

And you can, too!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:34 PM | Comments (2)

And in Animal News...

Katharine Harris holds up a possum, and A Manatee Grows in Brooklyn--or, as Dr. Smith puts it with a Graf Hindenberg-ian twist, "O! The Huge Manatee!" Manatee Spotted In NYC, Far From Home

It's the same old story--a naive kid goes to the Big Apple to find his dreams, and winds up lost and alone, living on handouts, and hoping for that One Big Break.


Anyway, what's a manatee story without a manatee recipe!?

Here's a nice one:

Cornish Game Manatee Acapulco
1 lb garlic puree
1/2 gallon olive oil
1/2 gallon lemon juice
1 lb ground coriander seeds
1 lb ground cumin
1/2 lb loosely packed fresh oregano leaves (or 2-1/2 lb dried oregano)
1 quart salsa (or 1 teaspoon cayenne)
Salt to taste
1 manatee
Sour cream and salsa for garnish
1 avocado, sliced

For sauce, blend first 7 ingredients until smooth. Add salt to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Clean manatee, drizzle both sides with sauce, and bake approximately 10 hours in shallow pan, skin side up. Baste often.

To serve, garnish with sour cream, salsa, and avocado.

Yield: 4 servings

MMmmm--that's good manatee!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:41 PM | Comments (7)

And then, Sunday.

Yet another day that went well! Up early, breakfast, church, lunch, and then the first possible snag. Oldest still had that gift card to the Galleria she was desperate to spend. So, it was either go home and do more laundry, or make a run to Hoover to spend money.

Made the run to Hoover.

She found several books, and with the no-tax deal still in place, managed to get them all for her $25 card plus 94 cents of her own money. Back in the car, and to home.

Folded clothes, and decided to watch The Seven Year Itch--it's been on the shelf forever, and just haven't had a chance to see it. Didn't get a chance to finish it, either. It's to the part where the janitor takes Marilyn's tomato plant upstairs for her. What an odd, strained movie. But, you know, I can forgive a lot of odd straining if given sufficient incentive.

Anyway, time to leave early to go to a meeting at church, met, evening worship, home, supper, turn around and go back and pick up Oldest from teen get-together, home again.

All this hauling around of Oldest may be about to end--I intend to take her to take her driving test tomorrow to see if she can get her license. What with there being not enough odd strains in my life up until now.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

Tax Free

As did so many other folks, I took advantage of this weekend's sales tax holiday to buy school supplies. To take an even greater advantage, we piled in the van and drove to the Wal-Mart in Springville, although I probably could have just as easily gotten what we needed closer to home. At least this one had the advantage of being relatively frenzy-free. The only bad thing was that they'd sold out of loose-leaf paper.

But they had everything else. Got a bunch of stuff (and this is AFTER going through and reusing an even BIGGER bunch of stuff we had left over from years past) and then did some clothes shopping. Overall, saved about 25 bucks in taxes over what we'd usually have paid. Of course, there was that extra gas I used. And the idea certain family members have that says you're really saving a LOT of money if you spend a lot.


To home, unload, supper, baths and hairwashing for the kinder, fold clothes.



I'll have to complain more often. But it was very nice--we were vacationing in Norway, and Reba and the kids had gone off to visit someone, and I was left by myself with nothing to do but kill time. "HEY!" I said to myself, "since I've got time, I think I'll hop in the car and go drive down to the coast and visit the Battle of Jutland site!"

You military history buffs will notice a slight discrepancy here. I've not read enough WWI history, but I did know that the Battle of Jutland was a naval engagement out in the open water of the North Sea, making a quick jaunt in a car from Norway rather difficult. I must have realized this in my dream, because I gave up on the idea and just drove around Norway the rest of the afternoon. Big place, Norway.

ANYway, then there was Sunday!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:05 PM | Comments (2)


Of course, it very nearly killed me, so it's kinda one of those good news-bad news things.

Anyway, got up and got out at about 9 Saturday morning and dragged out the lawnmower, hoping with all my being that it would crank. AND IT DID! Hooray.

Then there was the grass cutting.

When I borrowed my father-in-law's mower last week, I didn't lower it down to the height I usually cut. This neatened up the grass very nicely, and left it pretty and green. But tall. This weekend, I went ahead and cut it all down to the height I usually do, leaving it stubbly and brown. And leaving me THOROUGHLY EXHAUSTED. So to speak.

Due to the height, and the continual need to empty the grass catcher with every half lap of the yard, it took THREE HOURS to cut the whole thing--nearly two hours longer than usual. I can say with pride that the Briggs and Stratton four stroke reliably pumped out several hundred pounds of combustion by-products with nary a bobble, and cranked on the first pull every single time. I suppose the problem beforehand had been one of it being so completely flooded that it required a whole week for the fuel in the carburetor to evaporate.

ANYway, such a long time breathing in the rich effluent of carbon monoxide tends to clear the mind and allow one to think deep thoughts about world events. I am now convinced more than ever that there would be far less hatred and bloodshed in this world if we could just get people to put down their guns and come cut my grass instead. Yardwork in the blazing sun tends to damp down any feelings of vengeance. Well, unless you run over a bed of fire ants.

After completing my arduous task, completed by mowing only a six inch wide swath on each pass to keep the mower from bogging down, I came inside and cleaned up to get ready for the AFTERNOON FUN!

School supply shopping!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

Well, the first thing of note...

...the trip to the orthodontist for Boy on Friday was remarkably uneventful. And cheap. He was back there for about five minutes while they installed but a single spacer between two of his back teeth. THURSDAY, however, promises to be much more involved and costly. Goes in first thing that morning and gets a full set of wires. ::sigh::

But, at least I was able to get through early and get the Focus fixed finally. Fantastic! Yanked off the old hose and PCV, put in the new ones, and THAT was done in about five minutes or so. Zipped down to the foot of the hill and had Lisa the Parts Guy erase the fault code and reset the warning light, then it was on to pick up the girls from Grandmom's.

Home, and it was pizza night when Mom got there. Ordered from Papa John's online, and it got there in 30 MINUTES! Amazing. And they didn't have to call for directions this time.

As we waited, the kids got out and rode their bicycles. A wonderful evening--the sun had gone down, and there was a strong breeze blowing from the north. Looked like a storm somewhere. Didn't rain at the house, though. But it was so nice and quiet and peaceful, even with the various whooping and hollering of the kids. And the Wreck of Boy, when he hit his nose with the handlebars when he fell off onto the sidewalk.

The pizza guy pulled up as I was on the end of the driveway. We swapped hellos and pizza, and then there was supper, and that was pretty much the end of Friday.

Which led directly to Saturday...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:02 AM | Comments (4)

Well, hello there!

THAT was a pretty good weekend!

Long version to follow shortly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:14 AM | Comments (1)

August 04, 2006

Short Day!

I have to go get Boy to the orthodontist, so I'm going to sign off for now. All of you have a great weekend and Lord willing I'll see you all again on Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

Why, no, now that you mention it...

...I HAVEN'T had much to say today.

I'm not that work-busy today, and the computers are humming along just fine, and my fingers all work, but I just can't get the necessary oomph to post anything substantive.

ALTHOUGH, I did just get off the phone with my mom, who will be turning 77 this month. A fine faithful woman, yet with a crusty streak of saltiness about her. I figure she's earned the right to it. Anyway, she was describing a woman she knows--and one for whom she has a deep disdain--who had been afflicted with a severe bout of looseness of the guts. Or, as dear Mom put it--"the ol' biddy has had to go so much she's sh't higher than a ten-rail fence."

Hadn't heard that one in a while, and I must confess I had to chuckle when she let it fly.

My mom is something else.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)


I just now occurred to me that I forgot today was Friday, when I attempt to ape all the heavy hitters in the blogworld by participating in Catblogging Friday and posting photos of Lightning, the World's Most Expensive Free Kitten.


Therefore, I shall post the closest substitute I have.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:46 PM | Comments (4)

Fortune Cookie Wisdom of the Day!

You know, when you first walk out of the building, the heat is kinda nice. Gets the blood flowing. Then by the time you get to the bottom of the steps, the fun is over with.

Had a couple of bank stops to make, then to the swank '90s icon of the AmSouth-Harbert Plaza for some lunch. Obviously, with it being so infernal outside, the choice of food needed to be something cool and refreshing.

So I got the kung pao chicken and hot and sour soup.

I couldn't help myself--the distaff side of the ownership team was doing duty behind the counter today in her husband's absence, and I have found it to be in extremely poor taste to simply stand there in the cramped confines of the luncheonette and gawk without ordering food. It's not nearly so creepy to actually purchase something whilst ogling.

SO, as my mouth bursts into flames and the sprinkler system that is my sweat glands attempts to douse the conflagration, allow me to share with you the ancient secrets of the Orient:

First, this--You will be called upon to help a friend in trouble. Answer the call.

BLAST these inscrutable Chinese--it says I must answer, but it doesn't say whether it's permissable to screen my calls first! I mean, there's trouble, and then there's the sort of trouble that could require the outlay of funds for bail bonds and such. I guess the best I can hope for is that the first person to call will be someone I really like, who needs to borrow a sheet of paper.

Second: You shall soon make a long, overdue personal decision.

Hmm. "Long--comma--overdue." This I must dispute. There are no decisions I must make in my life that require an answer longer than yes or no. Or maybe. And the vast majority of those are made for me by other people. So, I call shenanigans on this one.


5 9 32 33 37 48


8 11 16 21 30 40

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:54 PM | Comments (2)

Thursday Evening

Subtitled, "Hey, that's not a vacuum line!"

Got home, got the kids, went and got gas--for some reason, between the time I left for work yesterday morning and I got home last evening, the price of gas had jumped 20 cents a gallon at all the stations at my exit. Except for the Raceway, which for some reason had only gone up 6 cents. All of which meant that their price was 12 cents a gallon cheaper than everyone else. Figuring I'd better go ahead and get while the getting was good, I filled up. (Nice to see that they didn't boost it more overnight.)

Got to the house, "DADDY! Can I ride my bike now!?" I've been promising Catherine for the past three days she could ride her bike again. She got her wheel privileges yanked at the start of last month when she decided she could just take off on her bike without telling anyone. I was doing something in the kitchen, missed her, and went looking for her. Found her all the way up at the end of the street, doing slow circles in the middle of the intersection. Our rules had been that there was no street riding unless an adult was out there to watch for cars. No riding in the front of the house unless someone was outside, and if that person was busy, you had to stay on the sidewalk. If no one was outside, it was backyard riding only.

She'd managed to mess up really good. So, no bike riding, no scooter riding until August 1. The morning of August 1--"I get to ride my bike today!"

It didn't quite work out like that, so yesterday was the first day she really got a chance to ride. "PLEASE, DADDY?"

I reminded her of our first chore for the afternoon--the bird feeders. She said okay and went upstairs to change and I did the same. I also had plans to work on Reba's car when she got home, too, which would allow me to keep an eye on a certain bicycle girl. But, no Reba yet.

Outside, and hmm. The Squirting Frog Fountain Feature had stopped spitting. So, that to clean out. Managed to get full flow reestablished, as well as be swarmed by giant West Nile/bird flu-bearing mosquitos. In a further delay to Catherine's bike riding in the street desire, I deciced to water the plants while I was getting eaten up by mosquitos already. She contented herself with tearing up the backyard grass.

Now then, that done, opened the Big Plastic Playhouse Cleverly Disguised as a Rubbermade Storage Shed and got out the bucket of seed, filled up the feeders, and decided the bird bath needed water. OUT with the hose again, waterwaterwater, "Are you through yet, Daddy!?"

Yes, I am. Rolled up the hose, walked around to the front and was nearly blind-sided by her as she came whipping by me on her bike, lured by the freedom of the open road.

Nothing like that feeling, to judge by her reaction. She whooped and wheed and pedaled as fast as she could. While I was out there, I decided to do a bit of upkeep on the Volvo while I waited for Reba to get home. Popped the hood, and figured I'd check around for vacuum leaks--those old hoses and such tend to be not so durable. Got out my can of carb cleaner and spritzed various hoses and ports to see if there were any changes. Nope. Sealed up nice and tight. Went ahead and doused everything to clean off the accumulated gunk as Catherine whizzed back and forth, and then saw a broken wire.

Yet another jackleg repair by the previous owner's mechanic, it seems. I am constantly amazed at the crap the guy did--more half-assed and useless repairs I have never seen before, even when I was learning how as a teenager. In this instance, the wire was from the oil pressure idiot light sending unit. In the past there must have been another break in the wire, but rather than simply repair it, the guy put on a weird little quick disconnect fitting. No reason for it--the wire fits on the sending unit with a simple spade terminal--one of those flat things you can slip on and off. There was just no reason for another disconnect in the wire. And on top of this, it looked as though it had been stuck together with glue. I have no idea how it was actually attached, but the insulation material around the wire was all gummy and disintegrating, and the wire end had broken out of the thing.

So, something to putter with.

Found a suitable-sized crimp fitting, my heat shrink tubing, and my wire pl--my wire plier--where are my wire pliers!?

Looked in the screwdriver drawer, the plier drawer, the file and wire brush drawer. Lifted the lid and looked in the top wrench box. Looked in the wire brush drawer. Looked in the plier drawer. Looked in the screwdriver drawer. Looked in the tiny drawers. Looked on the counter. Looked on the OTHER counter. Looked on the shelves. Remembed I'd left Catherine outside, and she was probably doing lazy circles in the middle of the intersection again. Went and found that she'd gotten up on the sidewalk when she saw I wasn't there. Good girl! Got her to come back closer to the house. Looked in the screwdriver drawer. Lifted the lid and looked in the top wrench box. Looked in the wire brush drawer. Looked in the plier drawer. ::sigh:: It's GOT to be here! Looked in the plier drawer. Looked. Hey. There it is, right on top of the pliers.


Got my stuff and went back outside and clipped and stripped and crimped and shrinked (yes, I know, but "shrinked" worked better with the rhythm I had going there than "shrank" would have) and now the idiot light was once again working.

Still no Reba. Cat asked if she could go back out in the street, and I said yes, then noticed something and called her back. Her tires seemed awfully squishy, so we set up the air compressor and aired them back up. I showed her the dial, and explained that the tires are supposed to have 50 pounds of pressure pushing on each little part of the tire this big [holding thumbs and forefingers to describe an area of exactly one square inch] "Wow! That's a LOT!" Yes, but her tires only had 10 pounds in them. The pump clattered away, and she was ready to go. BUT WAIT! "Awwww!" I figured I'd get the car done while I had the pump out. THAT done, and it was time for her to be released again.

I flopped down on the grass in the front yard. For the first time in a long time, I noticed that when I sat down, it didn't crunch. That little bit of rain we had sure did work good.

I sat and she rode, and soon Boy came out to play as well. They rode and rode, and were very careful when a car would come by. The sun finally slipped down behind the treeline and it almost got comfortable. Still blazing hot, obviously, but still better than having direct solar gain.

Rebecca came trotting out of the garage with the phone--"IT'S MOMMY!!" I talked, and while doing so proved the theory that telephones are child magnets. We can't get on the phone in the house without there appearing all four children under our elbows, each one fighting with the other and yammering at top volume. Well, it works outside, too. No sooner had I gotten the phone than Catherine and Jonathan came rolling up and squeeching their brakes, then set in to argue about who got there first.

After several angry, bee-swatting motions with my hands, I finally could hear that Reba was at the exit and would be home shortly. And that she had Rebecca in the kitchen boiling some eggs and cutting up some chicken for supper. Which I thought was odd, since Rebecca was still standing right beside me.

Told her when she got home I'd start in to fixing her car, said my "I love yous," told her 'bye, and gave the phone back to Rebecca.

The other two scooted on off to ride some more, and I decided to get my stuff ready to work on the Focus. First thing was to back up the van so I could get to my toolbox better. "WHAT ARE YOU DOIN'. DADDY?" Yikes! Where'd they come from?! "DAD! YOUR CAR'S BEHIND YOU!"

"I know kids--I'm just backing up the van to get to the toolbox better."

"Oooooh," in unison.

Something smelled weird when I got out. Like a transformer burning. That weird electrical burning smell. It was faint, but I could smell it. Is the van on fire!? Nope. I looked and sniffed and couldn't find it.

Inside the kitchen I went and WHEW! "REBECCA! WHAT'S BURNING!?" She was calmly sitting at the table, chopping chicken on the cutting board.




It smelled like maybe the stove was becoming a giant arc welder.

"Wait--what's that?"

She showed me the corner of the cutting board. The old ancient laminated melamine plastic cutting board. More or less the same sort of stuff they use for electrical insulators, which explained the distinctive smell. It was charred and about a half inch was gone. "WHAT HAPPENED!?"

Although I knew--she'd probably left it too close to the eye on the oven when she brought me the telephone and it began to smolder. She sort of shrugged and said it got too close to the hot thing. Well, yeah. "Well, open up the windows and let's see if we can get the stink out."

Went back out to the garage and got my long iron pliers from the plier drawer and a box cutter for cutting off the end of the hose, and in just a few minutes, the lovely Reba was home. Kisses, promises to be fixed shortly, after which I would take the car back down to the foot of the hill and have Lisa the Parts Guy erase the fault codes in the computer, then go get gas before it went to $10 a gallon, the eat supper. Yea!

Set right in to work. But first, needed my trouble light. I thought I would have plenty of time to work in the sun, and would have, if Reba's boss had not come in and wanted to work late. ::sigh:: Got my lamp and plugged it in, and bent under the hood.

Hot. HOTHOTHOT. Scrape. HOT. My iron pliers I had were too big. Needed my needlenosed pliers to get that clamp--ooomph--off--ergh. HOTHOT. Went and looked for my needlenose pliers. Plier drawer, screwdriver drawer, wrench drawer, etc. Found another one that might work better. HOT. Slice. HOT HOT HOT! Nope. Need those small, redhandled needlenose pliers, doggone it. Looked in the plier drawer. Hey. There they are--right on top.


Went back out and found that I could just barely get them in position and squeeze them just enough to cause intense pain to course through my fingers. Really needed a long needlenose pliers. Which I don't own. Maybe go get some? NO! DO THIS NOW! Shoved my hand in there, oblivious to the HOTNESS of everything and FINALLY managed to squeeze and pull the clamp up over the hose. HOORAY! OUCH HOT! Deftly worked in the end of the box cutter, and pulled the hose off and WHOA! LIQUIDS!!

There is nothing more disconcerting than to be disconnecting a hose you thought was a vacuum hose, only to discover vital essences coursing through it. I thought at first I'd hit gasoline, but no, it was only coolant. Hot coolant. HOTHOTHOT. Seems that there is some kind of coolant line running near the throttle body. Also explains why the parts guy couldn't find that particular hose in the vacuum and emissions hoses.

I quickly scissored off the end I'd split and put the hose back on, and got the clamp on as well. At least now with the light, I could see that back BEHIND all of the stuff I thought was leaking was ANOTHER hose.

A hose that led directly back to the PCV valve. Yep, that's right. The hose I'd turned down the day before was indeed the correct thing. I felt around down by the hose fitting--the little elbow that fit onto the tube was as squishy as a piece of chewed up gum. I started the car just to see, and sure enough, it was making a sucking sound like a fat guy with asthma in a sauna. Well, poop. One more day without having fixed it.

At least I knew for sure what it was.

Off to go get gas, bought myself a cold Diet Coke to make up for all the sweating and burning I'd endured, then back home, wash up, suppertime.

The smell was changed now--I think Reba must have sprayed some kind of air freshener. It might have been Febreeze. But now it smelled like a dozen burning transformers set in a field of calla lillies.

Oddly enough, it did nothing to dampen my hunger.


"Yes, Catherine."

"Did you get any tea?"

We really like iced tea, and have become spoiled by the availability of gallon jugs of it, sweetened with Splenda. The six of us can almost drink an entire gallon just for supper.

"Uh, well, no, Sugar--Daddy was too dirty to stop and get out at the store."

"You look fine to me."

Daddy is tired.

Finished up supper and my Diet Coke.

And wanted about a dozen more.

"Reba, you know what I want?"

She raised an eyebrow, "What you always want?"

"Well, yeah--that--but besides that, I would just about kill for a giant vat of Diet Coke right about now."

"What's "that," Daddy?"

"A kiss from Mommy, son."

"Well, why don't you go get yourself one," said the other beneficiary of that.

I began to protest that it was too much trouble--"And while you're out, you can get some tea! And some mayonnaise. And some milk. And some ice cream. And some sherbet. And we need eggs."


Undone by my lusts.

Despite having been too dirty and filthy an hour earlier to make such a stop, I now went back out, down to the foot of the hill, at 9 p.m., for to make a grocery bill, dressed just as I had been, with a grease-stained Auburn tee-shirt, frustration-tousled hair, and the combined stench of burning melamine, calla lillies, gasoline, antifreeze, and body odor.

At least that Diet Coke was cold, and I have never enjoyed a bowl of ice cream quite so much.

And so, anyway, this morning I made the trip back over to the Ford dealer, was greeted by the Bob Uecker lookalike, and expeditiously sent on my way with a brand new PCV valve and tubing assembly, lighter in the wallet to the tune of $44.46.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)

August 03, 2006

Well, he may say he's lazy in the kitchen...

...but he's certainly been getting busy elsewhere.

Congratulations to the happy family!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)

Oh, is that all?

Ahmadinejad: Destroy Israel, end crisis

Reached for comment later, Ahmadinejad expressed that what he said was vitriolic and harmful, and asked "the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery--you know, by ceasing to exist or something. I mean, come on--meet me halfway here, 'kay?!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

It's not that I'm antisocial...

...I just don't like people or having to endure being around them!

Steevil makes note of this post from the Brothers Judd about people who spend a lot of time on the computer. You know--those type of people.

Not like me at all.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:13 PM | Comments (4)


Yay! I love it when people leave!

We had an upper-level sort who went on to bigger and better things, and as is the way of the jungle, it was only a matter of time before the wounded carcass of his office would be picked clean of usable things that cannot be procured through the usual channels.


It replaces one that I stole several years back when I got my stolen harman/kardon speakers from another muckety-muck who moved on. I love the ability to scroll and click using the finger wheel, and after I found out how nice it was absolutely hated using a regular mouse.

Then, my stolen one crapped out on me. ::sigh:: So, I had to go back to a regular mouse. Took forever to get used to again.

BUT NOW--in a daring daytime raid, I took my old broken scroll mouse and substituted it for the newer one in the empty office, and have just plugged it in and it's so NICE! Obviously, I have to keep my regular old mouse for when this one goes Tango Uniform, but until then, I will be scrolling and clicking just for kicks!


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

You know what?

It's rather warm outside.

Just got back from my meeting--well, actually I've been back for about thirty minutes now, and the trip FROM my meeting took about fifteen minutes, so it's been about 45 total minutes since I escaped from the blast furnace that is Woodlawn on an August afternoon, and I am still all nasty and sweaty.

It's a bad idea to wear a tie and long sleeve shirt in this kind of weather. Even if you don't have pants on.

Some thoughts you can use--if you see a building with puffy bits of paint flaking off, you can pretty much bet you've got a water problem. That is, water inside the wall, trying to get out. And that's not a good thing, or a cheap thing to fix.

Second, buildings made of brick look better if they retain some semblence of an actual brick color. Painting a brick building blue, or green, or painting fake shutters on the sides of the windows is not a good thing.

Third, it sure is hot outside.

Fourth, you know those little plastic letter openers people give you with their business cards on them? I always take the cover off and put my own business card inside. I'm sorry about that, but it makes it less likely to walk away from my desk.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

Did You Look At Your Garters This Morning?

Was perusing the Library of Congress' American Memories website, and found a silly bit of mid-1920s social commentary about advertising.

"All Wrong" by Richard Connell is a short piece of farcical fiction which pokes fun at posters on New York City's subways. The author shows how subway ads stimulate feelings of fear and social insecurity in those who read them.

You can start reading it here.

I'll admit I had never heard of Richard Connell before, but according to his Wikipedia entry, he was quite the well-known sort, and was even nominated for an Academy Award for his story that was used for Capra's Meet John Doe. In fact, he wrote a BUNCH of stories--it seems his 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game" was the most enduring, though. Eight different movies used it, the latest being Lethal Woman in 1989. 1987's Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity sounds like a good one, too.

Anyway, I have a meeting to attend now, so all of you amuse yourselves with the amazing variety of stuff out there.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

Again with the stupid dreams!

This is getting old. I still seem to have fallen into some kind of REM rut, and continue to have the stupidest dreams. Last night burglars broke into the house--by taking out the whole back wall. I keep thinking of different dreams I'd LIKE to have, but of course, that jinxes EVERYthing and means you wind up dreaming something even stupider.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

I blame global warming.

Rare snowfall across South Africa

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

Sexy Car Redux

As you no doubt recall, I had a post earlier about some Brit magazine's list of sexy cars, some of which I agreed with, but the majority--not.

In a nice little surprise, my new issue of Automobile arrived yesterday, and lo and behold--their cover story was about the 25 Most Beautiful Cars Ever Made.

Now, "beautiful" is a slightly different set of criteria, at least to me, than what makes a car "sexy," but nevertheless, it was interesting to see that of the list I made up of cars that I like--

Jaguar E-type
Lamborghini Miura
Ferrari 365 GTB/4, S/4 Daytona
'63-'67 Corvette
Ford GT40
Mercedes-Benz 300SL
Maserati Ghibli
Lotus Elite
and a late addition of the Cord 810/812

--every single one of them was in the Automobile list, with the exception of the GT40. They also managed to grab a few from the other list that I thought deserved attention, such as the Bentley Continental, and my suggestion of the 1940 Lincoln Continental.

Pretty nifty list of other cars in the Automobile article--I can't remember them all, but there were the ones mentioned above plus the Jag XK-150 (which I'm not particularly fond of), the Jag XJ-6 (which I am), the 1963-65 Buick Riviera (almost bought one of those long ago), the various Chrysler Airflows, the slab-sided 1961 Lincoln Continentals (stunning, but not quite sexy in my mind). Anyway, I didn't have a disagreement with any of them, but one niggling little detail caught my eye.

IN the blurb abuot the Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona, it was mentioned that its design influenced many different cars, including the Rover SD-1 and the Chevy Monza. Well, I might give some credit for the Rover's front side-marker light that sweeps back toward the front wheel, and the shallow groove along the side, but actually there is another Ferrari that is much more of an inspiration for both of the cars, expecially if you look at the vertically slatted B-pillar and the upward sweep of the sill of the rear quarter window--the 365GTC/4.


Here's an unfortunate looking Chevy Monza Spyder for comparison--

monza spyder.jpg

Interesting thing about that name--it had a lot of fond memories to it based on Chevy's Corvair Monza Spyders of the early-'60s. Monza meant sporty turbocharged power, and Spyder meant convertible top. The later model Chevy of the same name was strictly a coupe (which made the Spyder part sorta silly) and all of the blazing power of other mid- to late-'70s cars. I.e., precious little. Which made the whole "Monza" part seem a bit silly, too. That, and the fact that under the skin it was the same as a Vega.

But hey, it was the age of disco.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:46 AM | Comments (7)

August 02, 2006

Perpetuating the Stereotype, VOL MCMLXXI

Valley Head man arrested for waving flag in the nude near highway

FORT PAYNE, Ala. (AP) — A Valley Head man was arrested for walking naked along a highway while waving an American flag.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested Gerald Lynn Kelley, 52, and charged him with public lewdness in connection with the incident, the Fort Payne Times-Journal reported Tuesday.

DeKalb Deputy Mike James said deputies were sent to Hammondville about 3 p.m. Sunday after receiving calls about two men walking nude along U.S. 11, just inside the town limits.

James said Kelley, who was allegedly drunk, was wearing only a cowboy hat and boots.

The other man, reportedly clad in the same attire as Kelley and carrying an American flag, could not be found. Police reports show that Kelley and the other man had been at a party that got out of hand. [...]

Ya think?

But at least we don't have to question his patriotism.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:06 PM | Comments (4)


Saks selling Parisian to Belk for $285M

I have no idea how this will all turn out, but I still have a sense of sadness about it. In the past, Birmingham was always just big enough to have some high quality, regional chains based here (Yeildings, Loveman's, Pizitz, McRae's, and Bruno's in the food biz and Marks-Fitzgerald in the furniture trade), and for so many years Parisian was the best--good quality merchandise and the best service. But when they got big enough to make folks from outside the area take interest, money started changed hands awfully fast. After the Saks deal a few years back, service began to take a dive at Parisian, and I can't see how being sold to Belk will make it any better--especially when Belk already took over their closest former competitor, McRae's.

Also of interest is that the new shopping center in Trussville was scheduled to have both a Belk and a Parisian--I wonder if both brands will still be included in the mix?

UPDATE: Ahh, I see. Parisian name to disappear

The new owners of Parisian plan to phase out the department store name, which has a rich history in Birmingham. [...]

A company official said plans call for converting Parisian stores to the Belk name in the third quarter of 2007.

Individual decisions will have to be made regarding what to do in instances where both a Belk and a Parisian are in the same mall or shopping center. [...]

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:24 PM | Comments (11)

The Pride of East Germany


I wonder how you say "overloaded hoopty" in German?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:57 PM | Comments (4)

Worst Job in Birmingham

I complain a lot, but only due to lack of perspective.

Things tend to clarify themselves, however.

Driving back from my noontime car parts escapade (about which, more later) up 20th Street, or as we like to call it, Birmingham Green. Temperature at noon today, 92 degrees; relative humidity, 50%; winds, calm. (For you punishment gluttons and RealFeeltm fans, that's like 111!)

Up ahead I see a giant cup with the Quiznos logo on the side, walking along the sidewalk. Upon closer viewing, I see that it is not just a giant cup, but a giant 8 foot high cup costume with a person inside, walking up and down the sidewalk to entice people to visit the Quiznos on the other side of the street so that passersby might partake of some sort of icy frozen concoction vended therein. A frozen concoction that manifested itself by a simulacrum of frost heaped up on top of the cup costume with the obligatory straw.

Give the body credit, though--he was in full peppy jittery mascot mode, prancing and preening with all his cupful might--bobbing, and weaving, and waving, and gamboling. He WAS the cup.

Thank goodness it wasn't as hot today as it usually is.

And thank goodness it wasn't me.

AS FOR THE HOSE--I went and got the car, parked right outside the parts department, had Bob Uecker come out, and he proceeded to look very carefully at everything before pronouncing himself confused. Went back inside to look on the computer, and was further stymied and baffled. Seems the hose left the throttle body, arced down, went around, and ended somewhere near Tijuana. Althought this was not a certainty, and it could just as easily been closer to Calgary.

By this time, I had already decided what I was going to do. He wanted to order the hose he thought it might be, but I told him I would hate for him to order it and it be the wrong thing. He said it would be simple to send it back, but my REAL objection was the added frustration of having to bring the car by AGAIN and it possibly STILL not be the right part.

"Tell you what I'm gonna do--before I have you order that, I'm going to do this--I'm going to cut off the leaky end of that hose and clamp it back on there and see if that works."

"Hmm--yep--that'd be a good idea!"

Thanks. Although it still seems like it would be a better idea to have a shop manual somewhere close by to look things like this up, but I realize that to do so would be to penetrate the veil that hangs between the service department and parts department, and it could lead to a cosmic cataclysm.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:31 PM | Comments (9)

Can't stand days like this.

One step forward--getting my mailout all ready and in the copier and humming along...

56 steps backwards--finding out that the docket for the next meeting has completely changed after making half my set of copies.

All that running around and flailing my arms, completely for naught. Aside from the entertainment value. And now it's almost time to go get Reba's car and see if I can finally get the necessary rubber tubey thing for it, and I haven't had a second to spare to come by here and play.

It's enough to make me pout!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

Who CARES about MATH!?

I just want to know if the guy is connected to the thighbone!

Via Steevil--famed NASA scientist by day, finder of oddities by night. Or during the day, too, when not playing with rockets. (And as Steevil mentions below, he stole this from John Derbyshire.)

And no, I'm sure the author has NEVER had ANYone make a joke about his name. But it does raise an interesting question for conversation--just how many people out there have surnames derived from body parts?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:14 AM | Comments (7)


Had one this morning that I enjoyed more than usual--we had a 7:30 subcommittee meeting at a jobsite, so it was a nice change of pace from a conference room. The venue made everyone not want to stand around jabbering about stupid stuff.

I suggest that all future meetings be held outside in the hot sun with no chairs.

Afterwards, I had to run over to the Ford dealership--seems that Lisa the Parts Guy (who works at Advance Auto Parts, by the way, NOT Autozone) didn't have a PCV valve for the Focus when I went by there on the way home last night. They seem to be as rare as conservative Democrats, at least judging by the number of them I found on eBay Motors last night. Which was exactly zero.

Anyway, after I found out they didn't have PCV valves, I bought some carb cleaner anyway just so I could buy something, and took it home and started looking for vacuum leaks. (While still wearing my white dress shirt--I am a moron, you know.)

Sprayed the PCV valve and hose--no change in idle.


The hose was off a bit, so I snugged it up, then sprayed some more. FINALLY found a hotspot, over behind the head, in a hose coming up off of the throttle body. I finally could hear the hissing it made when I got close to it, and jiggering with the hose made the whole car quiver and quake. THAT'S the part I need! Probably a new PCV couldn't hurt, but that hose had to be what was causing most of the problem.

SO, this morning, after my meeting, off to The Friendly Downtown Ford Dealer. I didn't have the car with me, though, which was a mistake.

"Well, here's the PCV hose assembly right here..." said the genial Bob Uecker lookalike.

"Uhmm, well, I really need the hose that comes up off of the throttle body, and loops down under the engine. It had a squeeze clamp on one end of it at the throttle."

"This has a plastic elbow on the end."

"Well, yes, but the hose I'm talking about doesn't."


He looked at another screen. "What about this?"

It was a diagram of the air intake system, back to the mass airflow sensor.

"Ummm, nuh-ooooo, it's not any of that, it's the hose that comes up off the top of the throttle body, about a half-inch inside diameter. About a foot long or so. Might have a formed end, but not a rigid elbow."

He had to go do something else for a minute for another customer.

I studied the picture and knew that if I could only get him to pull up a picture of the throttle body, I could point out the right hose. He came back with a box for another guy, and carrying the PCV hose and valve assembly (which might explain why it's so hard to find just the valve--it only comes as an assembly).

"Right here's your part for the PCV hose and all."


"Do you think you could show me a picture of the throttle body?"

"No--that last screen had the throttle body in it--see?"


He was pointing at the mass airflow meter--from the back of the air cleaner box, there's an elbow, then the meter, then a big accordian tube leading to the throttle body, which was cleverly not shown on the drawing. No use trying to make him believe he was looking at the wrong thing, however. He was, after all, The FACTORY Parts Guy.

"I think I'm going to have to bring in my car and let you look at it."

This pleased him greatly. "Yeah, I believe so--this has happened before, had a part on a car and it wasn't even listed in the catalog!"

How very comforting.

Anyway, that's for later--now to do some paying work.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:09 AM | Comments (4)

August 01, 2006

Well, it was more sort of a rusurlic mood...

...a mixture of surly and manic, with a helping of rudeness.

Boy, was it a weird way of doing things--long line outside of the gym, then they brought everyone in in a long snakey line that wound around the perimeter of the gym then back around to the tables set up by the door. Add to this the need of certain teacherish sorts who want to do ANYthing, simply to appear to be doing SOMEthing--one lady had the line splitting up into four smaller lines at the intake tables. Having taken one class in queuing and distribution, I knew this was a false effort at making the line seem to move quicker. It didn't make the process any faster for the people at the tables, and it also angered someone like me, who'd been standing in the hot sun, then saw someone who'd gotten in line WAY after me manage to get AHEAD of me. Do it like the bank, folks--multiple clerks, single queue--first in line gets served first.

Got to the front of our mini-line when the sign blew off the table due to the giant fan blowing behind it. "Uhm, here--your sign came loose."

"WELL FINE!" said the lady at the table, "--just give it here. Everyone knows by now to come here anyway--COME ON, COME ON, NEXT!"

Look, woman--first of all, I'm already standing right in front of you and was just trying to help you out a bit with your silly piece of cardboard, and second, you might speak to a snot-nosed punk kid that way, but have a little sense of decorum when it comes to talking that way to THE PEOPLE PAYING YOUR FRIGGIN' SALARY.

I don't think any of that breached the Angry Internal Monologue Barricade.

Next stop, schedule. If I remember right, there was Latin (hehehe), advanced placement history and algebra/geometry and chemistry, honors English, choir, and business tech (learning to type--hallelujah).

Next, ID photo, which was blessedly quick, then on to the fee person--locker, yearbook, parking, grade mailing, Latin, choir, computer, and chemistry. No total yet, though--that's at the NEXT stop.

Which ground to a halt just as we go there. Computer breakdown. Wait. Wait. Wait.

After about fifteen minutes, which I spent screaming in my head "JUST TURN IT OFF AND TURN IT BACK ON AGAIN!" things were rolling again.


I am fixing to get all real angry about all this perfunctory treatment crap, folks. I didn't cause the problem, and I really don't care if the people behind me have been waiting, because I HAVE BEEN WAITING LONGER THAN THEM! So stow it!

ANYway, total tab? $224. For that much money, I want dinner and a show, dadgummit.

On then to pick up the parking tag, which was quick, then the locker card, which was quick (and thank goodness she got an upper locker--she's complained forever that she has suffered immensely due to having a bottom locker.)

Left her there--she has to stay until 7 tonight--found one of the teachers to talk about some church-related stuff, then headed back here.

Oddly enough, no one even knew I had been gone.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:44 PM | Comments (2)

Well, poop.

Now that the machinery is up and working again, I have to take a break and run out to Paradise Upon The Pinchgut and get Oldest registered for school. She's working there today as a student helper, which means she's either going to be surly or manic when I get there.


ANYway, I'll be back shortly. Or short backly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

You know another thing I love?

Or at least like a whole bunch? The Internet.

I don’t know if you’ve ever used that thing before, but good grief it’s nice to have around. ESPECIALLY when you’re doing car repair. Reba’s Focus had the ‘check engine’ light come on again, and I figured it was just the same thing as it has been in the past--something to do with a faulty temperature sensor that didn’t really mess up anything important. However, this time she said she had a problem with it idling, then stopping. It would crank right back up, and would run fine on the road, but it sort of sputtered when parked for a few minutes.

Last night when I went to pick up Jonathan from his Scout meeting, I decided to swing by the Autozone at the foot of the hill and let them hook up their code reader and give me a printout of what it says. This is another one of those nice things that I really am in deep likefulness with--if you took a car to the dealer or a shop, you pretty much have to expect getting whacked with a $50 charge to download the fault code from the computer. Something parts stores now are able to do for you for free.

Which I had done. Takes about five minutes, which includes about a minute fumbling around in the dark finding the onboard diagnostic port. Went back inside and the parts guy (a cute young redhead named Lisa) plugged in the code reader to the printer and I got a printout:

(System too lean Bank 1)

Now, here’s the deal--unless you know what that means, you are still pretty much out of luck when it comes to fixing the thing. Even though I’ve worked on a lot of cars, I still couldn’t begin to figure out where to start fixing this, because there are about a gazillion things that can cause a lean reading. I could go to the library and look around some to figure it out, or maybe find it in a shop manual, but the Internet has revolutionized the process of looking things up. I plugged in those terms, and found out in about five seconds that there’s a whole website devoted to deciphering fault codes.

Which I did--as you can see here, the Focus’ stumble could be fixed with something as simple as installing a new crankcase vent and hose. There are some more involved things that might need fixing, but at least now I know what all it COULD be, and am able to choose the easiest and cheapest things to look for first that I can do myself, BEFORE having to give up and rely upon a repair shop to fix it.

The Internet is really cool.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:29 AM | Comments (6)

My wife loves me.

But should you ever meet her, I ask that you not repeat this tale.

Anyway, Miss Reba loves me, and that’s why when she went to the grocery store the other day, she picked up a bunch of fresh scallops. Despite the fact that if I were left to my own devices, I would look at the price sticker and, after recovering from my swoon, put them back on the shelf and try to find a way to satisfy my seafood craving with some store-brand fish sticks. Anyway, she still got them, because she knows how much I love scallops. Not as much as her, obviously, but a great deal, nonetheless.

And to make it even better (although, again, more pricey) these were real scallops, not the big (but still tasty to me, at least) fake scallops which tend to be circular plugs taken out of ray or skate wings.

Since she brought them home, I had gotten myself all hungry for them, and looked forward to cooking them. But I was beaten to them. By my wife, Miss Reba, whom I love more than all the scallops in the world. You see, even though Reba is a wonderful cook, she hasn’t quite mastered some things. Broiling a steak in the oven, for instance, about which I’ve spoken of to you before--the process inevitably creates huge clouds of acrid smoke in the house, setting off every smoke alarm.

And another thing, sadly, is scallops.

Scallops don’t like a lot of cooking, because they tend to become rubbery very quickly. I like to cook them by first showing them a hot skillet with some sizzling butter, just to taunt them and make them nervous, then dump them in and swirl them around quickly just until they’re opaque, then serve them up. A little lemon juice, and that’s it. Do it right, and they’ll melt in your mouth and make you think naughty thoughts. However, if you dump them in the pan and let them simmer and stew for ten minutes or so in a sea of salty stuff, they don’t perform quite so well.

My expensive spoonful of scallops arrived hot and coated in a caramelized layer of Old Bay seasoning, and despite being flavorful, they weren’t quite scallops, but more like chewy nubbins of fishspice-flavored Gummi balls. (By the way, she also whipped up some baked tilapia to go with the scallops that was super fantastic, so again, it’s not like she can’t cook.)

“How are they?”

“I love scallops!”

And I do, but not as much as I love my wife. Nor as much as I love a peaceful house.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:27 AM | Comments (7)


Yet AGAIN something wrong with the Internet connection here, and yet AGAIN more frustration at not being able to communicate with the outside world, virtual though it may be.

I’m telling you, it’s got to be a sign of some sort.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)