Friday, January 29, 2010

Stolen Content - Somebody had to say it

Allow me to be blunt, probably one of my favorite selections to President Obama's Cabinent was Education Secretay Arne Duncan, partly because of his work in improving Chicago's schools, and partly because he hasn't been beholden to the Teacher's Uniuon, arguing instead for merit pay based on actual results.  So the following coming from the White House may surprise some, coming from Duncan however, it doesn't surprise me.


Education Secretary Arne Duncan: Hurricane Katrina helped New Orleans schools

By Nick Anderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 29, 2010; 4:48 PM

Education Secretary Arne Duncan called Hurricane Katrina "the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans" because it forced the community to take steps to improve low-performing public schools, according to excerpts from the transcript of a television interview made public Friday afternoon.

Duncan's interview on "Washington Watch With Roland Martin" was scheduled to air Sunday and Monday on TV One.

The excerpts, e-mailed to reporters, quoted Duncan as giving an evaluation of the effect of the 2005 hurricane on the city's schools.

Martin was quoted as saying to Duncan: "What's amazing is New Orleans was devastated because of Hurricane Katrina, but because everything was wiped out, in essence, you are building from ground zero to change the dynamics of education in that city."

Duncan was quoted as replying: "It's a fascinating one. I spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and this is a tough thing to say, but let me be really honest. I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that 'We have to do better.' And the progress that they've made in four years since the hurricane is unbelievable. They have a chance to create a phenomenal school district. Long way to go, but that -- that city was not serious about its education. Those children were being desperately underserved prior, and the amount of progress and the amount of reform we've seen in a short amount of time has been absolutely amazing."

Education Department spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya confirmed the accuracy of Duncan's quote.

In a statement e-mailed to The Post, Duncan elaborated on the comment: "As I heard repeatedly during my visits to New Orleans, for whatever reason, it took the devastating tragedy of the hurricane to wake up the community to demand more and expect better for their children."

Another excerpt from the TV One interview quoted Duncan on New Orleans educators:

"I have so much respect for the adults, the teachers, the principals that are working hard. I spent a lot of time talking to students at John Mack High School there, many of whom had missed school for six months, eight months, 13 months after the hurricane and still came back to get an education. Children in our country, they want to learn. They're resilient. They're tough. We have to meet them halfway. We have to give them an opportunity, and New Orleans is doing a phenomenal job of getting that system to an entirely different level."

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Let's just get the discalimer out of the way right now, this is going to be a long blog entry. Not like I really had to say that, by now anyone that has frequented the page knows that I have a tendency to ramble on and on and on and on. See, I just used four ons where obviously two would have sufficed. Anyway lots of ground to cover here so it's best to get cracking already.

I will not say I am a fan of the US Postal service, but going to the mailbox has certainly been more enjoyable these last few days. It all started last Saturday when I opened my mailbox to find my first delivery from in the box. As I mentioned before, I used part of the gift card I received for Christmas and went on the WalMart website to do some shopping, rather than braving the elements to actually shop in the store. I picked out two items, a fleece Starter jacket and Iron Man on DVD. Well, apparently doesn't ship orders in their entirity, maybe the objects were found in different locations, I am not sure, but the DVD and the jacket came on two different days. Saturday was DVD day, which is fine with me, I needed something to break the monotany of bad television that seems to run rampant on the networks these days and DVDs work as well as anything in doing just that. I also got a phone call from Rich, who asked if I would be interested in shooting some pool on Sunday afternoon. That is an easy answer, yes, yes and yes. Again, three yesses where one would have been fine. So my plans for Sunday were set.

For those that don't kknow who Rich is, take a look back at the Asshat thread on Pat Robertson, he is the one doing most of the arguing with me. That is cool, if there is one thing I learned after doing talk radio for 12+ years it is that you don't value friendships based on the opinions on any one particular issue. I would argue it is one of the few successes to my blog page. Had it been based solely on ideological grounds, then the fact I am a Democrat, albeit a socially liberal, fiscally conservative one, a large swath of my acquaintances here would have left many moons ago, because I know a significant number do not come from the same political leanings as moi. Which to me is cool because I get to learn from them through their own blog entries and hopefully they get to learn through mine. Lesson one to be learned here is obviously don't say in one or two words what you can say in ten or twenty.

Before I trudge forward and while I am still on a semi political bent, I might as well hand out an Asshat award. This one is kind of close to me, because way back in the day I was a supporter of his, so I have to admit I was wrong and not in a small way. You guessed it, my Asshat this week is Senator John Edwards. Back in 2004 when George Bush won his second term as President over John Kerry, I was a supporter of Edwards during the Democratic primary race. I thought, correctly I might add, that despite the negatives that Bush was carrying in that race, John Kerry just didn't have the "it" factor that would make him a compelling candidate for office. Not that Edwards would have beat Bush either, that race never happened so I will not assume one way or the other how it might or might not have turned out, but Senator Kerry just came off to me as too aloof to connect with the American public. His idea that the Swift Boat campaign wouldn't harm him (it did, regardless of its actual accuracy regarding Kerry's service record) and his inability to connect with the general populace during campaign stops (note to future candidates stumping in Pennsylvania for votes, do not put Swiss cheese on a Philly cheesesteak), Kerry just didn't have that "oomph" factor that would compel people to vote for him.

Okay, I am getting sidetracked here. Back to the Asshat at hand. Anyway in 2008 Edwards again sought the Democratic nomination, and silly old me said on the air that I thought he would win it. To be fair to my political ignorance, I also thought Guliani would win the Republican nomination, neither of which happened, instead they both dropped out of the race on the same day. I would like to say that I am the political kiss of death, but factors far beyond my prognosticating came into play into both of their demises. During the early days of the Democratic primaries I would sit in the radio studio working on the Lynn Cullen Show. She also being a Democrat meant that a large quantity of our callers were of the left of the aisle variety and during the primary it was amazing to watch to what lengths supporters of one candidate would go to savage another candidate from their own party. I tended to stay middle of the road, save for suggesting Edwards would win, because by and large I liked most of the field of entrants for the Democratic party in that race. At the time I viewed it as a abundance of riches and would have been happy voting for most of them in a Presidential election (save for Gravel and Kucinich, who were at best comic relief and at worst nutbags). But as the savaging began I mentioned that there is plenty in the whisper stream that could savage any of the candidates, my own pick, Edwards, included where it was in the very early stages but there was murmuring out there that he had an affair. After Edwards fell out of the race, those whipserings became substantiated, Edwards did indeed have an affair with Rielle Hunter, a videographer that was part of the campaign. It was a blessing in disguise for Democrats, had Edwards actually won the nomination, or even been selected as the Vice Presidential candidate, the idea of a man cheating on his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, who has incurable breast cancer, running for one of the highest offices in the land, would surely have been a body blow to the campaign.

Surely by now you would like me to shut up, after all, what do the comings and goings of what happened years ago have to do with this week's Asshat. I am sure some of you know, but for those that don't (or even if you do), read on. During the affair, Reille Hunter would give birth to a baby girl, a girl that Edwards said couldn't be his because the timing was all wrong. He even said that he would be willing to take a paternity test to prove he wasn't the father. The name of the father on the birth certificate was, in fact, a man by the name of Andrew Young, who was serving as an aide to the Senator at the time. While that reeks of improbability, it didn't reek of impossibility. Some people are attracted to that political power set, so maybe Young and Edwards did in fact sleep with the same woman.

Of course we now know that that isn't the case. Whether it be because Young is about to come out with a tell all book about the Edwards campaign, including how he signed the birth certificate in order to save Edwards political embarassment and was asked to procure a used diaper to test the baby's DNA, or the current best seller "Game Change" which savages a number of the campaigns in the 2008 race, Edwards's included, the real story behind Reille Hunter's baby was going to come out. And so it did this past week, with Senator Edwards finally admitting that he is in fact the father, after denying paternity of the baby for the first two years of her life. Then to make matters better or worse, Edwards hops a plane to help with the efforts in Haiti. The noble minded would suggest he did this to help out in time of tragedy, the more cynical minded, myself included, would say he is using the tragedy to avoid answering questions about why he denied his daughter for the last two years. Whether either of those notions is correct, the underlying fact is that Edwards first lied about the affair, then lied about the paternity of his own daughter and for that he wins this week's Asshat award.

See what I mean, why use two words when you can use twenty, or in this case, much more. I could simply have said "Edwards lied" but what fun would that have been? Far better to draw the whole thing out and make you ask yourself "Why the hell am I sitting through all of this?"

Now where were we in our story. Oh yes, the opportunity to shoot pool. Rich and I are fairly evenly matched when it comes to pool, so it is fun to shoot him because I never know how it is going to turn out, Sure we talk a little smack back and forth, but unlike some of the people in the bar, who consistently kick my ass, I never really have a feel for how a match between Rich and myself will turn out. Sunday was no different, as after 15 games Rich had a lead, 8 games to 7, when we finally decided to call it a day. I walked back to his place with him so I could do some visiting, it is always nice to get out of the apartment once in a while, so I hung out and chatted with his family for a bit and made my way back home, though not with my tail between my legs, as I am sure Rich would have liked (just seeing if you are paying attention Rich).

Anyway Monday comes along and again I find joy in the mail. First at work, where I have been jokingly putting together an "Employee Lounge". See, we have a decent amount of room in our basement, but it wasn't always the case, as lots of stuff that can best be classified as junk littered the basement. Before Ed left for Florida, we actually had a guy come along with a truck and haul three truck loads of just junk out of the basement, things that we would never use and were far to big to be disposed of via a normal trash pickup. Unused shelves and displays all found their way into the back of the truck, clearing up a decent amount of room, but not enough to create a lounge as it were. One section of the basement was these large plastic totes, each one full of old porn magazines (yes, we sell those, it is a newstand after all, and what could be newsier than tits and ass). We are talking magazines that are 10 to 12 years old at least. Ed wanted to sell them at a discounted rate, three mags for $3.99. Since most of them were still in their original plastic it didn't seem like a half bad idea, so we went about starting the process of taking the books, putting them three to a bag and then putting them on the floor as needed. It is a process that is still in the works, we had that many books. It would not be beyond belief to say that we had at least 50 totes of these books. So we started the process and an amazing thing happened, some of the books sold and we were able to pack up more and put them out. All told we have probably moved 20 or so totes of porn to this point, which creates a significant amount of space in the basement. So much so that when John, one of our managers, got himself a new office chair because his old one was missing a wheel, I took the chair, removed all of the wheels so it would be semi level at least, and placed it in the area where the porn mags used to be and declared that it was now officially the employee lounge. Nothing more than a joke by me, but the joke caught on and now as we clear out more totes of porn and more space becomes available the "employee lounge" is starting to grow.

Enter Muscle Milk. This is a beverage for those body builder types, certainly I wouldn't drink it, the idea of a "milk" beverage that doesn't need to be refridgerated when stored strikes me as yucky. But we sell it, not in great numbers, but decent numbers. It comes from our Pepsi supplier and during one of his visits to the store he mentioned that there was a giveaway. Apparently Muscle Milk was giving away stuff to those stores that purchased a set number of cases of the product, starting in the beginning of September and running till just before Christmas. The prize tiers were in groups of 10, three prizes to choose from if you bought ten cases, three to choose from at 20, and three to choose from at 30. The prizes went from a windbreaker (10 cases) all the way to a 4 GB video MP3 player (30 cases). While I knew enough about our sales to know we would never get a 30 case prize, there was a good chance we could get to the twenty case level and I was convinced we could at least get to the ten case level. As the promotion drew to a close, we had enough to get to the twenty case level if we wanted it, but at the ten case level was a directors chair and thoughts of the employee lounge again danced in my head, so I filled out the appropriate paperwork and xeroxed the necessary invoices and sent out for the second piece of lounge furiniture. Sure enough on Monday it arrived.

Also on Monday I came home and the second half of my order came in, the fleece jacket. It is a little brightish on the blue side, but it is actually pretty warm, comfy enough that when the temps are in the 30s or so I can wear it and not be freezing my ass off. If it gets colder then I can always go back to a heavier coat, but this fills a nice springtime need, and springtime is just around the corner for those not paying attention.

Tuesday the mailbox and the inbox was filled with goodies as well. In the mailbox I had a couple of things I signed up for on the internet. One was 10 $1 off coupons for Marlboros. I realize this isn't everyone's idea of a good thing, but to a smoker who prefers Marlboro Lights but has been going the Pall Mall route because of the increased taxes on smokes, coupons are a good thing. Pall Malls are still cheaper, but this at least puts the Marlboros in play now, where as before they would be as much as $2 a pack more. Over the course of a week, since I smoke one pack a day, that works out to $14-$15 just to upgrade, or $728-$780 a year. That is a month and a half of rent right there kids. Also in the mail was an assortment of Nescafe flavored instant coffees. I think I signed up for this on Facebook, I am really not sure, but there were packets for 6 different instant coffees in there. I tried one, wasn't all that impressed, I will not be giving up brewed coffee anytime soon, but free is free, so who am I to complain. When I logged onto the computer I found that my code for my most recent $5 Amazon gift card had arrived, making that 6 gift cards I have gotten so far. That is $30 free dollars to spend, not including the change I had redeemed at Coinstar for use on Even with me purchasing a book I still have over $30 on the site to play with and I am getting very close to being able to add another gift card to the tally.

Wednesday was hoagie day. My cousin Sarah was selling hoagies to help her school fund a band trip to Florida. I found out about this through my aunt, who posted something on Facebook and I said I would purchase a couple sammiches (as the locals sometimes say). Of course picking them up could be a problem, they live in Natrona Heights, which is on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. City buses do go to that area, but I wasn't sure exactly where they lived, so I didn't know where I would be getting off of the bus and how far I would have to walk. After a few messages back and forth with Amy (my aunt) and a little hopscotching between the Port Authority website and Mapquest, I had devised a plan that would get me there. The bus would leave me off about 8 blocks from their house, and better yet, it would be an express bus, which would cut down travel time somewhat. For those not in the know, there are basically two types of buses in Pittsburgh, there are your city buses that run fairly regularly but make a ton of stops along the way. Then there are express buses, those tend to run to the suburbs during the rush hours, in the morning they will run into town, stop running during the afternoon, then as the work day ends, they run back out of town. The express buses tend to not have as many stops in the city, maybe some stops downtown, but then will not stop (save for a couple of stops on the busway) until they are outside the city proper. As I was looking at the schedules I saw that I could take one of two buses, I could take a 1A New Kensington, which is a city bus, which means it runs more frequently but would be making a ton of stops. The estimated time of that route would be about an hour and 25 minutes. Or I could hop an AV (Allegheny Flyer) which would take about an hour and 5 minutes. As an added bonus, since I get off of work at 3pm, I could catch the first AV bus downtown in about 30 minutes, if I could manage the length of Smithfield Street in that time.

Time out here kids, something very, very, very (three verys where I could have used one) just came up and I need to address it as soon as possible. I'll be back soon, I promise.


Okay, I am back. Just put the hockey game on, though that is not why I had to step away from the computer. Far bigger things have come to bear than simply a hockey game. It involves checking the messages on my phone and I promise I will get to that story in due time. But allow me to get back to the original story that I left off on.

Amy asked if I wanted her to wait for me at the bus stop so I didn't have to walk up to the house, but I had a good idea of where I was going and Amy was supposed to go to the school to help with getting all of the orders organized and out to their respective sellers and I wasn't sure exactly what time I would be arriving, so far better to just go about things and let me fend for myself. Amy told me her two sons, Christopher and Ethan would be home in case I got there after she had left. The thing is, I haven't seen them in a while, I had missed the Christmas Eve party, and Amy had a broken ankle during the birthday party my family had thrown me last summer, so I hadn't seen them in better than a year. While I am sure that Christopher would know me, the same can't be said for Ethan, who is much younger. Anyway, I go to catch the bus. Based on the bus schedule I had all I had to do was walk down to the other end of the street I work and stand there and all would be good. I escaped work in ample time and made it to the bus stop in about 10 minutes, leaving me plenty of time to catch the bus. I double checked the bus stop sign and it did list the AV as being a bus that stopped there, so I settled in with my book and waited. And waited. And waited. And for good measure, waited some more. No bus. There were a couple of 1A buses that rolled by, buses that I could have taken but would have taken far longer to get to my destination, but given how long I was waiting, I was beginning to think maybe I should have taken one of those instead. So now I go looking for a clock and I see that my bus is running 25 minutes late. That isn't the best part though, I look underneath the bus stop sign to see that the stop has been discontinued for the AV bus, because of the BIg Dig that is taking place downtown. The Big Dig, not to be confused with Boston's Big Dig, is just as much a taxpayer waste as the Boston version. Basically it is a tunnel that will go from downtown under the Allegheny River and come up on the other side on Pittsburgh's North Side. The fact that there are already three bridges that go there from downtown (6th, 7th and 9th Street bridges) would make one think we have ample connection to the the North Side, but what is a half a billion dollars for a dig that goes to the very same location. As a result a number of streets downtown are closed and some bus routes have been detoured, including the one I wished to board. Instead, I could have just crossed the street at work and I would have been at the bus stop I needed, instead I walked out 6 or 7 blocks out of my way and missed the bus I wanted. The next one was due in about ten or so minutes, so I made the necessary correction to which bus stop I should be standing and after waiting a little bit more (the second bus was 15 minutes late) I managed to head out to my destination.

Finding the house wasn't a problem, proving my mastery of all things Mapquest and I arrived a little after 5:30 pm. Not too shabby I thought, I still might be able to visit for a while, I could catch a 1A back into town a little after 9pm, giving me 4 hours and change to play with (yes I could catch an earlier 1A, but I am dealing with the last possible bus to leave here before I am stranded).so after locating the house I ring the doorbell and Ethan answers. Of course I ask if Amy is home, though I am positive by now she has indeed left for hoagie distribution, so next I ask if Christopher is there and again I get a no. And it seems that Ethan has no idea who I am because he tells me to come back in an hour. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not upset by this development, I actually understand it. A guy Ethan doesn't recognize comes to the door, he shouldn't let me in. I figure the best thing I can do is go find a place to kill an hour and then come back. The problem is finding a place, first I start in one direction on the main drag and after about 5 minutes of walking I don't see anything, and I remember that I passed a Dunkin Donut the other way when I first arrived and guess that a coffee and a couple of donuts could easily occupy my time, so I head back the other way when I see Ethan running down the sidewalk trying to catch up to me. Apparently he called his mom and learned that in fact I am related to him and therefore can be trusted with going inside the house. Fred, my uncle, was the first to arrive that might know who I am, and we sat around laughing about what happened. Amy got there a little before 7pm and more laughing ensued. I got to do some family visiting, something I really need to do more of, and it was a pretty fun evening by Matt standards. And Fred offered me a ride home, which he really didn't have to do but was much appreciated as it was far quicker than relying on public transportation. Of course when we got to Oakland we ran into traffic because the Pitt-Georgetown game was letting out, a game that Fred was going to ask me to, but he was just offered the tickets that day and didn't have anyone to go with, and I was at work which made me relatively unreachable. Technically someone could call work and I would be allowed on the phone, but I don't give out my work number and I am still of the not willing to buy cell phone set, and a call to reach me at home would have went unanswered, since I left for his place directly from work.

Actually, missed messages are going to bring us to our next story, but first a little background. When I left 1360 AM last December, one of the first places I applied was to was KDKA 1020 AM. It is one of, if not the oldest radio station in America and the #1 station in the Pittsburgh market. At the time they were looking for a radio producer, something I had just a little bit of experience in doing. They are also owned by CBS Radio, which owns a handful of stations in the Pittsburgh market, one AM station as well as three FM stations 93.7 (CHR), 100.7 (Adult Standards) and 107.1 (country). I was in touch with Marshall Adams, the program director for KDKA and while the job I was applying for was filled, he asked for a demo of some of my work on those occasions where I guest hosted in Lynn's absense. I sent him a couple of CDs of my work and he was complimentary and said that they would keep my information on file. The thing about the business of radio, you never really know when someone is being polite because polite is good, or being polite because they actually like what you did. So it is hard to put any amount of weight to something like that, you hope for the best but are realistic that nothing may come of it.

It was recently annouced that one of CBS's FM stations, 93.7, was going to be flipping formats, going from CHR to sports talk, becoming the first FM sports talk station in the market (there are two on AM). Pittsburgh is a big time sports market, esepcially when it comes to the Steelers, and to a lesser extent, the Penguins and there are also plenty of people that follow the Pirates and the sports teams of the University of Pittsburgh, so an FM station devoted to sports has the possibility of working. And from a cost perspective, depending on how it is done, a sports talk format could be cheaper than a music format. You instantly lose the cost of paying music royalties and the salaries for DJs needed to man the daypart shifts (usually most stations these days will run jockless overnight) and save for whatever talent you are going to bring in that isn't satellite programming (which can usually be had for free via a barter agreement) the bottom line is somewhat lower. It also allows you the ability to stream cheaper, as the music royalty fees get doubled for those stations that also stream on the net and are a music format.

What does this have to do with missed messages you may ask? Well, even if you don't ask I am going to answer. As I mentioned I picked up the hoagies on Wednesday but I missed a phone call from Fred. Not for the basketball game, which while he thought of me for the game, he didn't think I'd be available, after all I was going to his house that night. But he did call to see if I needed a ride to his place, since he works in McKees Rocks, he passes by, albeit indirectly, both where I work and where I live on his way home. Because I was working I missed the phone call. Anyway, while getting this blog entry started I figured I could multitask and remove the old messages off of my phone. I knew Fred's message was still there, but I really hadn't checked them in almost a week. If the phone rings and I am home I may answer it, but usually if the phone rings there is a better than average chance I am in fact not home.


Sorry, another break in the blog. While I am writing this I am also on and off a few different websites and during my bouncing around I managed to pick up another Swagbuck, which makes 45, so I had to head over to the website and pick up another $5 Amazon gift card. I am all about free stuff and if people want to hand me money for more books and stuff (there is plenty on Amazon besides books after all) who am I to argue?

Again we get back to our story. So I am sitting here, working on the blog and checking phone messages and who should be on there but Marshall Adams, program director of KDKA. Apparently he kept my info on file, which in and of itself is surprising since I submitted it a year ago, and he wants to talk to me. Now I don't want to get my hopes up too much here, but unlike previously when I was out seeking employment, this is a different animal, I really have barely been dipping my toes in the radio pool. spending most of my hours worried about my current job than exploring other possibilities. I dropped him a quick Facebook message today and will be calling tomorrow and maybe I will have some more information about what the phone call was all about. It could be something to do with KDKA, or it could be something to do with the new sports talk station, I really don't know at this point, though my curiosity is definitely piqued.

OKay, I have rambled more than enough, just a couple of odds and ends updates to get out of the way. First, I did pick up a couple of additional tokens in Scratchix this week, one for the DVD of the month, which I am sure will be relatively useless, you need to collect 10 of them in a month and I have 1 and only 7 days to get the other nine. The other was for the $30 Amazon gift card and it was the second of 10 needed, again I am not close to cashing that in, but at least I don't lose it in a week. And lastly the change meter moves a little again, another .26 and the new total is 139.78. The numbers are definitely down to start this year, but that is okay, I didn't expect it to be like last year, just hope it isn't an embarassing year for ye olde meter. And that kids is all.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Asshat - I can file this one early

Yes I know, usually the Asshat will come later, but I have the utmost confidence that this can't be topped in the next couple of days.  Some of you may remember when I threw Sharon Stone the Asshat crown for her comments regarding the earthquake in China, saying that it may have happened because of China's treatment of Tibet.  Karma I believe she called it.  Now we have another earthquake, this one in Haiti and another Asshat opens his mouth, this one Pat Robertson who first suggests the earthquake may be a blessing in disguise, then later says that Haiti is cursed because the Haitian people made a pack with the devil.  See what I mean, the Asshat is solidly locked up this week.  As for the evidence.....





Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Things I think I think

Lest you think I am awake at all hours (it is 3:34am when I type this) rest assured I have at least napped, falling into a slumber around 10pm only to awaken around 2:30am and not get back to sleep. I tried some reading, that didn't work, clicking on the radio, that didn't work either, so I figured maybe I could bore myself to sleep with a blog entry. How's that for reassuring the reading audience that this entry will be worth the time it takes to actually read it. Anyway, time to break a leg, or since I am typing this, maybe break a fingernail would be more appropriate.
Has anyone seen the new Domino's ad? The ad features Domino's employees talking about customer complaints they have received in the past (the crust is like cardboard, the sauce tastes like ketchup) about their product and how they went about making it better. Color me stupid, and stupid is blue, but Domino's has been around since 1960 and is the second largest pizza chain in the United States behind Pizza Hut, so whatever problems they may have had, it wasn't for lack of customers. I am sure they have received complaints from time to time, any business does, and I am not here to defend their product, just to question the line of reasoning behind their ads. By saying that they are changing their product to make it better, what they are telling the consumer is that for the past 50 years we have served you shit. Now, however, we are going to make better pizza. Does that means the customers you admittedly screwed over by serving an inferior product now get to demand a refund on their orders? I am not saying don't tinker with the product or don't try to do things in a better fashion, but by just stepping out there and saying that you knowingly served an inferior product for half a century, it makes me less likely to spend money there. After all, who is to say in another 50 years you don't come out with an ad that says "Look, we fucked you over again, ha ha!".
I am watching the fallout from the Leno/O'Brien debacle that NBC created with a certain amount of amazement. Not amazement that it is happening, but amazement that anyone with half a brain didn't see this coming. I had argued in the past that putting Leno's show on at 10pm was a recipe for disaster and was NBC's way of doing television on the cheap. By throwing a talk show in that slot they were saying that they didn't want to spend the money on scripted programming that costs more to produce but also generates more viewers. Leno tended to generate the same number of viewers at 10pm that he previously got at 11:30pm, the difference being there are far more people watching TV at 10pm, so whereas Leno was winning his time slot at 11:30, he was soundly getting beaten at 10pm, and not by just network programming, but even some cable shows had begun to pass him in viewership. The loss in viewers also affected the NBC affiliates, who usually run a newscast at 11pm, and the local newcasts are one of the major money generators for the affiliates. Leno's show was chasing away those viewers, thus killing revenue for the affiliates. Meanwhile back at the ranch, O'Brien took over the Tonight Show hosting gig, and the problem with that is his brand of comedy is not what you would call everyone's cup of tea. While I admittedly like him, I know full well that his show would either have to be tamed down in the new time slot of 11:30pm (as opposed to the old 12:30am) because bits like the Masturbating Bear, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog aren't going to play with the crowd that used to watch the Tonight Show, or it wasn't going to hold the same audience. Both happened, fewer of the more quirky bits that made him popular at 12:30am were shown and the audience shrank, to the benefit of David Letterman on CBS, who Leno regularly beat at 11:30pm. So now comes, how does NBC fix what it never should have broke? The plan seems to be to put Leno back at 11:30pm, but only for a half hour, and move O'Brien to 12:00am. But this is where the contracts come in, because of the deal NBC made with O'Brien, technically he can't be removed as the host of the Tonight Show, if he is, he's owed somewhere in the ballpark of about $48 million. But by moving the Tonight Show back a half hour they mess with a broadcasting institution, the Tonight Show has aired immediately after the late local news since its inception, back in the earliest days of TV. Only NBC could create a clusterfuck like this. While O'Brien's show trailed Letterman in the ratings, it was holding even with the 18-34 demos that advertisers love, so messing with the lineup could cost NBC money in advertising dollars as well, and Fox has said they would be interested in hiring O'Brien for the 11:30 slot should NBC either let him go, or should he leave of his own volition. The sad thing is, the most compelling thing on NBC right now are the jokes that both Leno and O'Brien are telling in their monologues about the very company they work for.
Some things I learned about the NFL during the first weekend of the playoffs; 1) The Dallas Cowboys are really good. When your starting running back doesn't even gain 10 yards and your #1 wide receiver is a guy who, before this season nobody had even heard of and you come out and just throttle an opponent like Philadelphia then I am impressed. 2) Wes Welker, not Tom Brady, is the MVP of the New England Patriots, how else to you explain how bad they looked against Baltimore. Sure the defense is a year older and a year slower, but that offense could do nothing without Welker in the lineup. And before someone dismisses this as a simple one game argument I am making, consider that last year Welker also made Matt Cassel look good, so good in fact that the Patriots made him their franchise player despite being the backup quarterback, and better still, the Kansas City Chiefs matched the offer from New England so Cassel could be their starter. And how has worked out for you KC?
Did anyone else see Senator Harry Reid's press conference where he was trying to explain away his "light skinned" and "no Negro dialect" comments regarding President Obama? I was watching in stunned amazement the other day at work as they were covering the press conference on TV. It was getting to the point where I was expecting Reid to just say "some of my best friends are black people". It was bad, very, very bad.
Another casualty locally on the radio dial as Ellis Cannon was let go by the city's FM talk station, 104.7 FM. Ellis is a sports guy and admittedly other than him and their contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the station does very little sports programming, with talk being the standard fare with the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Savage, and Norry the main players. With Ellis on at 6pm, that meant the station would carry Michael Savage on tape delay. And while I didn't listen to Ellis all that much (I actually liked him better years ago when he and his brother did a show on the local ESPN station, 1250 AM), anytime someone loses a gig around these parts for more syndicated crap is has a certain resonance with me. The plan is to just move Savage up to his normal time slot (6pm) and carry his show live. Great, so a local guy loses his job so that we can have a man who once told a gay caller to his TV show to "get sick and die" on live here. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
One of the things that does bother me about my job, and to be honest there aren't that many, is the number of people that pick things up in the store, then find something else they want instead and rather than put the first thing back, just drop it wherever they happen to be, assuming that someone else will put it away for them. Maybe I am being petty here, but if I were to come into your home and shit in the living room and my reasoning was that, well "the shit is kind of close to the bathroom so you really would mind putting it in there for me", you might, just might, have a problem with that. So next time you are out shopping, please, don't be an ass. The people working there have far better things to do with their time than to pick up after you.
Okay, let's see if that puts me to sleep, but I doubt it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


So I am getting off of work the other day and while waiting for my bus outside the news stand I see another bus pass by. Along the side of the bus was one of those bus sign ads (I know a unique place for a bus sign ad, along the side of a bus, but I digress) for Jefferson Hospital with the slogan and/or job notice "We are hiring compassion" which to me was a bit odd. While I suppose compassion may need a job, if I am going to the hospital I would prefer they hire doctors and nurses, who I imagine also need jobs and would be of far more use to those people likely to frequent a place like a hospital. This, of course, once again set me about thinking about stupid ads I have seen, one of which was over a year ago and I had planned about mentioning it in a blog back then but now I don't remember if I did or not.

The setting was my last Christmas vacation, not too long after being let go from the radio station. Funny thing about losing your job, you actually have time for a vacation, now, not so much, but again I digress. Hmmm, "Digressions" a new fragrance for Matt. Okay I better stop before this train gets way off track. Anyway, when I am home for an extended period of time I will sometimes venture forth and take a walk, usually over to Sheetz, about 20 to 30 minutes away and grab a coffee and drink it on my way back. Lest you think I am walking for my health, I make sure to have plenty of cigarettes and coffee while walking, but that still has little to do with our story. One of the last places I pass before making it to Sheetz is a pet crematory. Outside the establishment they have a lit up sign identifying the place, as well as one of those programmable scrolling message board type things underneath, the temperature and time would pop up, then another message would come scroll across the screen, followed by the time and temp again, then another message and so on and so on, as the old shampoo commercial might say. As I am walking by one of the messages programmed into the board pops up and says to be sure to get your 2009 calendar, which I am sure the business hands out as a means of promotion, but the first thought that crossed my mind was, "Why the hell would I want a calendar of dead cats?" Maybe I am the only person to whom such a thought would occur, I really don't know, but needless to say I did not stop in for their giveaway.

If that were enough of stupid ads maybe I wouldn't bring it up as a blog topic, but tonight I am watching the first round of NFL playoff games on NBC. They had two, the Jets-Bengals and then the Eagles-Cowboys, and during the games they would run some promos during the commercial breaks, such as the coming season 3 premiere of "Chuck" on Sunday night (which I am so geeked for because Yvonne Strahovski is hot) as well as promos for the upcoming Winter Olympic games, which NBC has the rights to. During one of the promos I am seeing clips of Michael Phelps, who may or may not be a nice guy, or may be a nice guy when he is high and a dick when he isn't, I don't know, but last I checked he was a swimmer and swimming was a Summer Games event, not Winter. Please tell me that the coverage will actually focus on the current games and not on games that happened in a different season 2 years ago.

BRB, I have few things to take care of. Sorry, had to put away my Polish feast of a dinner, which was quite tasty though my ass has already fired off a couple of gas grenades that were impressive in their ability to make my eyes water. I also had to play off all of my scratchix cards. Not that I won anything, save for more tickets on some. Here is what my last day on Scratchix looked like....


Jan 10 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 10 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 10 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 10 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 10 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 10 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 10 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 10 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 10 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 10 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 10 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 10 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 25 scratch cards (prize value:5.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 25 scratch cards (prize value:5.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 1 scratch card (prize value:0.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 3 scratch cards (prize value:1.00 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD) Jan 09 2010 10 scratch cards (prize value:2.50 USD)

Lots of more tickets, but little else. At least my giveaways elsewhere have been a tad bit more profitable. On Swagbucks I reached the 45 swagbuck plateau again and picked up my 5th $5 Amazon gift card. I thought I had actually accomplished this a day earlier, but those dang blasted rules and regulations got in the way. See, in a nut shell Swagbucks is a search engine, not unlike Google or Yahoo or what not, the difference being twofold, 1) You can actually earn swagbucks for using the site, or for finding different swag codes that they have hidden in numerous places and 2) as a general search engine they suck. So what ends up happening is if I want to go to a place like Multiply or Facebook I will just type in the name in the search bar in hopes I win something and usually the link I want is within the first couple of hits. Now if I wanted something more specific, say the nuclear program of Isreal, then I might be better off with a Google search instead. The thing is there are also affiliated sites with Swagbucks, and they too offer the chances for winning prizes and what not. As luck would have it, recently a memeber of the band Avenged Sevenfold died, and they have a search engine tied to the Swagbucks people, so they offered a swag code for one hour that if you went to the Avenged Sevenfold site and entered the code you would get three bucks. All cool, found the code, went to the page and entered it and I was three bucks richer, can only use those bucks on the affiliated pages, so anything I got on the Avenged Sevenfold site could only be redeemed there, even though it showed up in my Swagbucks total. Not that it mattered a whole lot, I got the three needed bucks within the next 24 hours, and I just dumped the 3 useless bucks on raffles, but it was a glitch that I was completely unaware of and something I will not waste time on in the future, I don't care how many members of Avenged Sevenfold kick the bucket. Still I did get my 5th card today, I should get the promotion code for it on the 16th and then I will have another $5 to spend at Amazon.

As an added bonus, one of my Christmas gifts may get me even more Swagbucks in the near future. I mentioned I got a gift card for WalMart for Christmas. My mom sprung for a $100 gift card and I used part of it to buy a pair of pants, a sweat shirt and some groceries but still had almost half of it left. One of my plans this weekend was to head out to WalMart and spend some more of my cash but in case you hadn't heard, the weather around these parts has been sucky to say the least. A trip to WalMart on public transportation becomes less bearable of an option knowing that one will be standing outside waiting for a bus. Cue up the Swagbucks. One of the ways to earn bucks, besides just doing searches and entering codes is to buy stuff through stores on their website. For every $5 spent you get another buck. Lo and behold WalMart is one of said stores, so I sat down last night and ordered me a Starter fleece jacket as well as Iron Man on DVD and spent about $20, except I didn't spend anything, I put it on my gift card. There is something very satisfying about shopping at home and spending nothing in the process. Now, once my order is aproved and shipped I should get and extra 3 to 4 Swagbucks as well.

If that were the only gievaway I would tinker with that would be cool, but I am still also working with Coke Rewards. I had been adding a decent amount to my account there and finally decided to cash some of them in, actually a large chunk of them but in return I got another free year on I think I have almost a year and a half in reserved time on that site now just from finding codes and entering them online. My next target goal there is to see if I can get to the maximum prize level, which is 2000 points. There really isn't much at that level I want, the Stoneware Mixing Bowl set looks okay, but I just want to see if I can do it. I know I have a case of Coke returns sitting at work (they are out of date so they can't be sold) that as soon as we get credit for I can dump out and take the points off of the caps for my own use. For now I am sitting at 80 points, so Stoneware (or any cool prize they may add) is still a long ways off.

Have I bored you to tears yet? Trust me, the tears here are coming from too much sauerkraut.

In caes you hadn't noticed, I went about changing the background theme around here. During the whole moving of servers that was going on at Multiply my old background disappeared, at least on my computer. While it probably would have come back (I noticed it was still listed as the background in my custom theme setting) it was time for a new coat of paint around here. At first I was going to go with a Mount Washington pic I had taken during the day (the old one was from Mount Washington at night that I snagged off of a restaurant website), it was a decent enough photo but taken when it was really overcast and grey out and I have seen enough grey skies around here recently that I didn't want to see them on the blog page as well, so I dug through more of my photos and opted for one of my walking tour pics, the Cathedral of Learning on the Pitt campus, about 5 blocks from where I currently reside. The building has a unique history that I will not get into here, but if you are curious, by all means, go read up on it here. For me this blog will be long enough without getting into even more details than I already have.

Since I didn't bother with the trip to WalMart, that meant one thing off of my list of to dos for Saturday was already taken care of, but I still was going to have to venture out and fetch me a bus pass. I thought about taking the camera along and making it one of my walking tour blogs, but I was running a little late and having my camera wasn't as important as getting on with my day. Besides, if I opted to wait and catch the next bus, I know it would have been like smacking a snooze alarm for my motivation for the day. As soon as I talk myself out of getting up once, it becomes easier and easier to do it again and again. Far better to just leave the camera behind and get about the task of attacking the day. Usually I will get my bus pass either downtown or at one of the many Giant Eagles around the area. Since I didn't get it while I was downtown Friday that meant to Giant Eagle I go. Of course I have a few options that are all relatively close by public transportation standards, I could walk up the street to Forbes Avenue, much like I did in my last walking tour blog, and catch a bus to Squirrell Hill, I could walk a block further in that direction and catch a bus headed to the South Side, or I could walk over to the Blvd of the Allies and catch a bus headed for the Waterfront. Since the Blvd is the closest and I am not one to like standing around in the cold if I can help it, the Waterfront was the winner.

I stopped and picked up some smokes at the corner store and as I was leaving there was the bus coming and I just barely made it to the stop on time, as a missed bus would have kicked in the whole snooze alarm thing for me as well. I hopped on the bus, cracked open my Einstein book and headed out to start my day.

The Waterfront really isn't that far from me, I was there in maybe 15 minutes or so, so I climbed off the bus and started walking down the road to the actual shopping area. The entrance to the Waterfront has three sets of train tracks crossing it and because it was cold (though not nearly as bad as it has been), and snow was again starting to fall, you had to know that a train would come barrelling through just to keep me from reaching my destination. Eventually the train did pass and I headed for a beakfast at Eat N Park, where I had a breakfast consisting of a Mexican Omelet, homefries, coffee and toast. The omelet was a new menu item and was okay, though it could have been spicier for my tastes. Plus breakfast gave me more time to work on finishing my book.



Sorry, I took a little break there. I was up typing pretty late and just felt a nap coming on. Now, having gotten a little bit of sleep and having fired up a pot of coffee I think I am ready to get back at it. Now where exactly was I? Oh yes, the Waterfront trip.

After breakfast I went and picked up the bus pass and also did a little grocery shopping. I got some things to throw together a couple of crock pot meals, a toy that I love cooking with in winter. I got my stuff for a Polish feast (sauerkraut, kielbassa) since I already had pierogis at home. I also grabbed some hot dogs in case I wanted to do the kraut and dogs thing later. I also got some stuff to throw together a mean batch of chili, and a couple of odds and ends that either I thought I might need or were on sale and thought they might look good in my cupboard until I got about putting them into my stomach. Then it was back home to watch some TV and after the high school All American football game, I threw the Polish stuff together in the crockpot and watched the two NFL playoff games. I also managed to finish off the Einstein book, which those of you that pay attention to the page will have noticed. I am pretty close to finishing off a second book this year. I made the mistake of reading two books at the same time. I know some people can do that, for me though it just leaves me feeling like I am not accomplishing anything in the reading department if I find myself quetsioning which book I should be reading. For the most part I had the Einstein book in my bag and would read it on the bus and when I was travelling, then the other book I had on my bed and would read most nights before I would go to bed. The downside of buying all of those books after Christmas is that I have so much right now that I want to read that I have a hard time disciplining myself enough to finish one before starting the next. Now, since I have got one of them out of the way I can go back to reading in a more normal manner for myself. I am close enough that I should be finishing the other book I started in the near future, though I imagine it will have far less appeal to the readers of this blog than the Einstein book, it is about the business side of the NFL, and I know how well nancyball goes over with the likes of many here.

I did complete another online offer yesterday, it was inside my pack of cigarettes I bought and it was for $10 off of Marlboros, either in the form of two $5 off coupons for cartons or 10 $1 coupons for packs. I opted for the ten coupons because rarely do I buy cartons of smokes and while I could take all of them to work and redeem them on my charge sheet even if I didn't buy them, $1 coupons I can actually hold on to and use as needed as opposed to the $5 ones where about the only place I would use them is at work.

I was listening to the radio last night before falling asleep and I heard a commercial for another website I need to check out,, a website for older women to find younger men to date. I am hoping this has as much comedic value for me as my old standby, I know the radio spot was hilarious, with a bunch of men doing one of those military chants they do when they are marching, except the entire rhyme they were doing was about how they were all going to hook up with older women. Now if the behind bars people could come up with a commercial or two, maybe a woman rattling her coffee cup against the jail cell bars asking for a man, that would be priceless.

Elsewhere in our little land of blog believe, I guess it wouldn't be out of the ordinary for me to do a change meter update. Not that there is much to add, just .24 but if I am going to preattle on and on, this seems worthy of prattle. The new total is $139.52.

Since the new Food Friendzy is now reset over at Facebook I think I will take a second and see how I do today. For those not in the know, Food Friendzy is a Facebook app where you can win coupons for local restaurants. I have had okay luck with it recently, a couple of $1 off coupons and one $2 off, but it has been a couple of weeks since I have ordered in, so most of them have just gone to waste, the coupons are only good for three days. Still, every week they pick one member and one team that each win $100 dollars off, so I went ahead and created a team (Black N Gold) to which I am the only member for now to ever so slightly increase my chances of winning. Okay, 275 points this morning, that is good for a $1 coupon (175 points) and 100 entries into the weekly drawing, plus I won an additional 10 entries on tile selections, an additional 10 points to start with tomorrow and I am shielded from having points stolen for the next 24 hours. The site is linked to two sites that I know of for delivery, and one that I use, Rather than call up a restaurant and place an order, you go into the applicable website and set up an account and then based on your zip code, they give you a list of places that deliver to your address that are also members. Since I live right next to a college campus I just use the server. They will then take the order for the restaurant online and place it for you. Those places that deliver will still deliver, other places that are pick up only you obviously have to go get. Their selling point seems to be that 1) it provides a web based service for those restaurants that otherwise wouldn't have it and 2) rather than paw through a number of places everything you need is laid out on one specific webpage. Since I had been using campusfood well before I had started on Facebook, this just became a no brainer for me.

Sorry, had to run out and pick up some smokes and settle in for day two of the NFL playoffs. I signed up for a free fantasy league on Just a lark more than anything else, I certainly don't plan on winning anything which is good because the two guys I had yesterday were pretty much useless, Marion Barber and DeSean Jackson. Today I am doing a little better, Ray Rice already has close to 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns and the game is only in the second quarter. Most of the guys I have play in the second game today.

I also bought a few scratch off tickets while at the store. Spent $10 bucks and for a change I actually won, $28 total which I guess pays for the cigarettes.

Also spent some time working on my resume for Clear Channel radio. I am just doing it in bits and pieces since they have a save resume option.

Okay, back again, took another break, shorter than when I went to bed but a break nonetheless. Checked the messages on my phone for the first time in almost a week and found out Rich had called me, so I returned the call and he and I chatted for an extended period of time. I also had some internet issues, not sure if they are computer related or not, but kept getting signed out of Facebook, as well as having some problems on a couple of other sites, like Gmail, where I couldn't get in. I devised a temporary solution to the Facebook problem, by going through Swagbucks and connecting that site to my Facebook account, but still can't get into Gmail for whatever reason. It doesn't show up on my Igoogle page, nor can I go through the Gmail site. I have a couple other options I can try and may get around to it before the evening is over. Aha, just came up with a temporary fix, using the mail2web site. So far so good, I can see all of my emails anyway. Doesn't look like I missed much, just some Facebook notifications.

I also tinkered again with the Neverending Thread, since I finished the second book I blogged earlier about. I also changed my Virtual Bookshelf (a Facebook app) to show the next book I am reading, which I really haven't gotten into all that much just yet, wanted to finish the last one first.

And of course I reheated the leftovers from last night, added some more kielbassa to the crock pot and have it keeping itself warm in the kitchen so I will have good eats come time for the "Chuck" season premiere in a couple of hours. I guess I should put a wrap on this thing, that way I will have some time before the show starts to go back and do a little spell checking. Not a lot of spell checking, but some. Till later.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Asshat - Fuck like rabbits

Okay, so the title is a bit blunt, but then again this Asshat isn't for the faint of heart anyway.  Rather that try to come up with some clever way of explaining this week's winner, I will just mention the name, Abel Aguirre and let the story tell the tale.


Chelsea rabbit rapist convicted of cruelty

By Edward Mason | Friday, January 8, 2010 |

| Local Coverage

Animal lovers be warned - this report is not for the squeamish.

Abel Aguirre, 38, of Chelsea was convicted yesterday of animal cruelty for having sex with his roommate’s rabbit, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said. He faces up to 2 years in the House of Correction and a $2,500 fine at sentencing today.

Aguirre assaulted the rabbit June 1, 2008, district attorney spokesman Jake Wark said. Aguirre’s roommate told investigators she came home and found blood and clumps of rabbit fur on the bathroom floor and a claw belonging to the bunny. In Aguirre’s room, she found a used condom with rabbit fur on it. The rabbit was injured and bleeding.

"My jaw hit the floor," one juror said about the disturbing testimony. The rabbit has died, but not of its injuries, Wark said.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Stolen Content - The unfriendly skies

In keeping with a very early bit of what may be a tradition this year, that being actually posting stuff on occasion, it is about time we get about a stolen content entry, and who better than someone I turn to frequently when looking for words of wisdom.

Slate Magazine
fighting words

Flying High

Why are we so bad at detecting the guilty and so good at collective punishment of the innocent?

By Christopher Hitchens

It's getting to the point where the twin news stories more or less write themselves. No sooner is the fanatical and homicidal Muslim arrested than it turns out that he (it won't be long until it is also she) has been known to the authorities for a long time. But somehow the watch list, the tipoff, the many worried reports from colleagues and relatives, the placing of the name on a "central repository of information" don't prevent the suspect from boarding a plane, changing planes, or bringing whatever he cares to bring onto a plane. This is now a tradition that stretches back to several of the murderers who boarded civilian aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001, having called attention to themselves by either a) being on watch lists already or b) weird behavior at heartland American flight schools. They didn't even bother to change their names.

So that's now more or less the routine for the guilty. (I am not making any presumption of innocence concerning Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.) But flick your eye across the page, or down it, and you will instantly see a different imperative for the innocent. "New Restrictions Quickly Added for Travelers," reads the inevitable headline just below the report on the notoriety of Abdulmutallab, whose own father had been sufficiently alarmed to report his son to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, some time ago. (By the way, I make a safe prediction: Nobody in that embassy or anywhere else in our national security system will lose his or her job as a consequence of this most recent disgrace.)

In my boyhood, there were signs on English buses that declared, in bold letters, "No Spitting." At a tender age, I was able to work out that most people don't need to be told this, while those who do feel a desire to expectorate on public transport will require more discouragement than a mere sign. But I'd be wasting my time pointing this out to our majestic and sleepless protectors, who now boldly propose to prevent airline passengers from getting out of their seats for the last hour of any flight. Abdulmutallab made his bid in the last hour of his flight, after all. Yes, that ought to do it. It's also incredibly, nay, almost diabolically clever of our guardians to let it be known what the precise time limit will be. Oh, and by the way, any passenger courageous or resourceful enough to stand up and fight back will also have broken the brave new law.

For some years after 9/11, passengers were forbidden to get up and use the lavatory on the Washington-New York shuttle. Zero tolerance! I suppose it must eventually have occurred to somebody that this ban would not deter a person who was willing to die, so the rule was scrapped. But now the principle has been revisited for international flights. For many years after the explosion of the TWA plane over Long Island (a disaster that was later found to have nothing at all to do with international religious nihilism), you could not board an aircraft without being asked whether you had packed your own bags and had them under your control at all times. These two questions are the very ones to which a would-be hijacker or bomber would honestly and logically have to answer "yes." But answering "yes" to both was a condition of being allowed on the plane! Eventually, that heroic piece of stupidity was dropped as well. But now fresh idiocies are in store. Nothing in your lap during final approach. Do you feel safer? If you were a suicide-killer, would you feel thwarted or deterred?

Why do we fail to detect or defeat the guilty, and why do we do so well at collective punishment of the innocent? The answer to the first question is: Because we can't—or won't. The answer to the second question is: Because we can. The fault here is not just with our endlessly incompetent security services, who give the benefit of the doubt to people who should have been arrested long ago or at least had their visas and travel rights revoked. It is also with a public opinion that sheepishly bleats to be made to "feel safe." The demand to satisfy that sad illusion can be met with relative ease if you pay enough people to stand around and stare significantly at the citizens' toothpaste. My impression as a frequent traveler is that intelligent Americans fail to protest at this inanity in case it is they who attract attention and end up on a no-fly list instead. Perfect.

It was reported over the weekend that in the aftermath of the Detroit fiasco, no official decision was made about whether to raise the designated "threat level" from orange. Orange! Could this possibly be because it would be panicky and ridiculous to change it to red and really, really absurd to lower it to yellow? But isn't it just as preposterous (and revealing), immediately after a known Muslim extremist has waltzed through every flimsy barrier, to leave it just where it was the day before?

What nobody in authority thinks us grown-up enough to be told is this: We had better get used to being the civilians who are under a relentless and planned assault from the pledged supporters of a wicked theocratic ideology. These people will kill themselves to attack hotels, weddings, buses, subways, cinemas, and trains. They consider Jews, Christians, Hindus, women, homosexuals, and dissident Muslims (to give only the main instances) to be divinely mandated slaughter victims. Our civil aviation is only the most psychologically frightening symbol of a plethora of potential targets. The future murderers will generally not be from refugee camps or slums (though they are being indoctrinated every day in our prisons); they will frequently be from educated backgrounds, and they will often not be from overseas at all. They are already in our suburbs and even in our military. We can expect to take casualties. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives. Those who plan our destruction know what they want, and they are prepared to kill and die for it. Those who don't get the point prefer to whine about "endless war," accidentally speaking the truth about something of which the attempted Christmas bombing over Michigan was only a foretaste. While we fumble with bureaucracy and euphemism, they are flying high.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the Roger S. Mertz media fellow at the Hoover Institution.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What's old is new again

Never let it be said that fanatsy football is without its own unique brand of drama. As I have blogged about previously, my football team qualified for post season play a few weks ago (week 14 of the NFL season for those keeping score at home). Nothing was really sorted out until that week either, I could finish anywhere from 2nd to 7th place going into that week, but a win by me secured a playoff spot and a little assistance moved me up to the 2nd spot by virtue of points scored in a three way tie at 9-5. What that meant was I had a week off as the #2 seed, I would get the winner of the #3 seed versus #6 seed in the semifinals. As luck would have it I ended up with the 6th seeded The Jamesons for my first playoff game. For those in the know these two teams have had a habit of facing each other in the post season, we met for championship games in 2005 and 2007, back when the league still played for cash and most everyone lived in the same area, now it is just for bragging rights. I was the winner in 2005 (102-92), Jeff would win in 2007 (69-63) and here we were two years later, like clockwork, meeting again in the playoffs, this time with the winner going to the championship game.

All seemed well and good, through the course of that Sunday's games I was doing quite well, well enough in fact that I had managed a 21 point lead. The only problem was there was still one game to be played, on Monday night, between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings and Jeff had on his roster Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, arguably the best running back in football. 21 points out of AP was certainly within the realm of possibility and my mind was flashing back to last year, when it took the first tiebreaker (final score was 78-78, tie was broken by TDs scored by roster that week) in that game to determine a winner before I eventually moved on and won the league title. Early on I caught some breaks, Chicago had jumped out to a 16-0 by halftime. What that means is a team is more likely to abandon the running game to catch up, which was fine with me, fewer touches for AP meant I had a better chance of winning. At halftime he had only 1 point and my 20 point lead seemed more secure, though certainly not a lock. The second half wouldn't be as easy for me however. A 1 yard TD run by Peterson had cut the game score to 16-6 and had cut into my lead as well, and AP's point total was to 9 and the lead down to 12. The Bears would come right back with a TD of their own to make it 23-12 and again I was breathing a slight bit easier as time was coming off the game clock and the Vikings weren't getting any closer, less time for AP to put a dagger in my heart. But the Vikings weren't done, they would go 73 yards in 10 plays and cut into the lead again, 23-13. While AP didn't score on that drive, he did pick up another point and the lead was 11. This was looking like a classic matchup between Jeff and myself. Before the 3rd quarter would end, the Bears would have a pass intercepted and AP would squeak out 1 more 5 yard carry, so heading into the 4th quarter it was just a 11 point lead. The only solace I took in that was the Vikings would still have to score twice just to tie, hopefully the Bears could hang on. The Vikings drive continued into the fourth quarter and AP had another 7 yard run, getting Jeff another point, the lead was now 10. As an added bonus, he also had an 11 yard catch. Now I am worrying about him racking up receiving as well as rushing yards. The Vikings got a field goal out of the drive and now it is a one score game at 23-16. To make matters worse, the Bears do nothing with their next possession and punt the ball back to the Vikings with 9:55 remaining in the game. AP touces the ball twice that drive for only 9 yards, but one of those touches was a 1 yard touchdown run and with 5:49 left in the game it is tied at 23-23 and the lead is down to 4. The Bears come out and promptly score another touchdown on a drive that takes all of two plays after a big kickoff return, and once again Chicago has a lead, 30-23, but they are giving the ball back to the Vikings with 4:55 left in the game. AP starts it off with a 2 yard run, bringing his rushing total to 90 yards and knocking off another point, the lead is 3. The very next play he catches a 16 yard pass, his receiving total is now 27 and he picks up another point, the lead is 2. Then with 22 seconds left the Vikings throw a touchdown pass to tie the game at 30-30. This is possibly the worst case scenario for me, the idea of an overtime period where AP can add even more points to his total when I am hanging on to a very slim lead. The Bears just take a knee rather than risk a turnover late and we are headed to overtime. Much to my glee, the Bears win the coin toss and elect to receive the kickoff and proceed to march down the field. Finally on a 4th and 2 situation from the Vikings 27, the Bears line up for a field goal that could end the game and save my ass and they miss it. My heart just sunk a little. Out come the Vikings to take over. The very first play is a pass for AP but it is incomplete. Whew! The next two plays result in sacks, the first two the Bears had registered all game and the Vikings are forced to punt the ball away. For the time being I have dodged a bullet. The Bears do nothing with the ball though and just as quickly punt it right back to the Vikings. First down and AP gets a carry but no gain. Second down and it is a pass to Adrian Peterson and he picks up 16 yards with it, thats another point and the lead is 1. But wait, he fumbled the ball on the reception and the Bears have it. The fumble is a -2 for scoring purposes and the lead is not 1, but 3. I would kiss AP's hands at that point for helping my cause. One play later and the Bears throw deep and it is caught for a touchdown, ending the game at 36-30 and my fantasy game at 100-97. And this wasn't even our championship game, that would be the following week.

As I have said before, I really don't like fantasy football leagues that play their championship games in the last week of the NFL season. Far too often it leaves you playing guys you normally wouldn't, because many of the better players see limited to no action that week, dependant on whether their team has secured a playoff spot or not. Ask any Peyton Manning owner if he would like to play in a 17 week season and I bet he says no, because Peyton Manning rarely has to play in week 17 (he didn't this year either, the Colts had locked up the #1 seed and home field advantage). That means many guys are scrambling to find players on the free agent wire that are going to be uselful for just that particular week. If you are lucky, you have a few guys that are playing for something. I was a little lucky in that regard, Houston was still in the hunt for a playoff spot, which made Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson valuable, Baltimore would get a playoff spot with a win, so Ray Rice had value for me, MInnesota was playing to get a first round bye, so I went out and grabbed their kicker, Dallas was playing for a division title and a home playoff game, so Jason Witten had value as well. But plenty of my guys were useless, Chad Ochocinco, Garrett Hartley, the Tennessee and Green Bay defenses, Darren Sproles, Justin Forsett, Sammy Morris. Still I managed to piece together a roster for the last week, I lucked out on a couple of guys (Larry Fitzgerald and Ryan Grant both scored touchdowns and the Green Bay defense intercepted three passes and scored once in the meaningless Arizona-Green Bay game) and I worked the free agent wire to get Ryan Longwell (3 FGs, 5 XP), and Jerome Harrison (127 yards rushing, 20 receiving, 1 TD) and the final was sort of anticlimatic, I built a big lead early and won 107-71. The only downside was that I beat Damon to do it. This might have been Damon's best showing in our league since we started over a decade ago, so in that I congratulate him. Still the chance to repeat in our league as fantasy champion is a rare thing, to actually pull it off, to be honest, I don't know if has been done until now and now I am just counting the days until the next draft so I can start thinking about a three peat.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Asshat - Neither bros nor hose

The very first Asshat of 2010.  Maybe I will look back on the Asshats of last year and see if we can determine a winner for the full year, another project for another time perhaps as I am just sort of typing out loud here.  For the time being we need to polish up the crown for Dustin Abney.

Dustin's claim to fame isn't just the fact he is a robber, heck that wouldn't even be Asshat worthy, rather it is in the manner he did it, by first telling an employee outside the store that he planned on robbing the store and asking whether the employee would like to get him something while he was busy robbing the place.  At that point you start to venture into Asshat territory by being the courteous robber tipping off a store employee of your plans.  The kicker you ask?  Dustin was armed....with a garden hose nozzle.  That's a good bingo and we have Asshat #1 of 2010.  From the Indianapolis Star

January 2, 2010

Robbery suspect arrested before he leaves CVS

Police say they broke up a drugstore robbery early Friday on the Southwestside by arresting the suspect -- "armed" with a water hose nozzle -- before he could get out of the store.

Dustin Abney, 27, 4800 block of Red Horizon Boulevard, faces preliminary charges of robbery and criminal confinement. He was being held on $200,000 bond at the Marion County Jail.

Abney was arrested by officer Daniel Frank of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, who responded to a report of a robbery in progress at the CVS pharmacy, 3705 Kentucky Ave.

A police report said Abney approached an employee who was taking a smoking break outside the store, announced he was going to rob the business and asked whether the employee wanted any money or pills. The employee went inside and called 911.

The report said Abney returned to the store a few minutes later with his hand in a sweatshirt pocket, ordered the store worker to the pharmacy counter and pulled out a list of prescription drugs he wanted.

Police arrived before he could leave the store.

Stolen Content - Beating off

Smacked children more successful later in life, study finds

Children who are smacked by their parents may grow up to be happier and more successful than those spared physical discipline, research suggests.

By Murray Wardrop
Published: 1:26PM GMT 03 Jan 2010

A study found that youngsters smacked up to the age of six did better at school and were more optimistic about their lives than those never hit by their parents.

They were also more likely to undertake voluntary work and keener to attend university, experts discovered.

The research, conducted in the United States, is likely to anger children’s rights campaigners who have unsuccessfully fought to ban smacking in Britain.

Currently, parents are allowed by law to mete out "reasonable chastisement'' on their children, providing smacking does not leave a mark or bruise. These limits were clarified in the 2004 Children’s Act.

But children’s groups and MPs have argued that spanking is an outdated form of punishment that can cause long-term mental health problems.

Marjorie Gunnoe, professor of psychology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said her study showed there was insufficient evidence to deny parents the freedom to determine how their children should be punished.

She said: "The claims made for not spanking children fail to hold up. They are not consistent with the data.

"I think of spanking as a dangerous tool, but there are times when there is a job big enough for a dangerous tool. You just don’t use it for all your jobs."

The research questioned 179 teenagers about how often they were smacked as children and how old they were when they were last spanked.

Their answers were then compared with information they gave about their behaviour that could have been affected by smacking. This included negative effects such as anti-social behaviour, early sexual activity, violence and depression, as well as positives such as academic success and ambitions.

Those who had been smacked up to the age of six performed better in almost all the positive categories and no worse in the negatives than those never punished physically.

Teenagers who had been hit by their parents from age seven to 11 were also found to be more successful at school than those not smacked but fared less well on some negative measures, such as getting involved in more fights.

However, youngsters who claimed they were still being smacked scored worse than every other group across all the categories.

Prof Gunnoe found little difference in the results between sexes and different racial groups.

The findings were rejected by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which has fought to ban smacking.

A spokesman for the charity said: "The NSPCC believes that children should have the same legal protection from assault as adults do.

"Other research has shown that smacking young children affects their behaviour and mental development, and makes them more likely to be anti-social."

However, Parents Outloud, the pressure group, welcomed the research, saying parents should not be criminalised for mild smacking.

Its spokeswoman, Margaret Morrissey, said: "It is very difficult to explain verbally to a young child why something they have done is wrong.

"A light tap is often the most effective way of teaching them not to do something that is dangerous or hurtful to other people – it is a preventive measure.

"While anything more than a light tap is definitely wrong, parents should be allowed the freedom to discipline their children without the fear that they will be reported to police."

Aric Sigman, a psychologist and author of The Spoilt Generation: Why Restoring Authority will Make our Children and Society Happier, told the Sunday Times: "The idea that smacking and violence are on a continuum is a bizarre and fetishised view of what punishment or smacking is for most parents.

"If it’s done judiciously by a parent who is normally affectionate and sensitive to their child, our society should not be up in arms about that. Parents should be trusted to distinguish this from a punch in the face."

Previous studies have suggested that smacking children can lead them to develop behavioural problems such as being more aggressive.

A (boring) Christmas Story

Since the weather outside is frightful, and certainly not delightful, I guess I can take my indoor confinement in good measure and get some writing done that I have been putting off. I have already wrote a letter to my grandmother and have finished a mail survey for and started a letter to my aunt and now, as a break from those activities I figured that I would come over and blog for a while. After all, while I did post some Christmas pics, I really didn't cover the whole Christmas story. Sure there are other things I could blog about, my fantasy football team who last week had me on the edge of my seat and I have to finish the change meter tally, but I think I will save those for their own individual blogs and just focus on Christmas on this here entry.

As I said before, I had to work Christmas day, a 7am-3pm shift at the news stand which meant while many people were running down the steps of their warm and comfy abodes bright and early Christmas morning to get about the business of unwrapping gifts, my alarm was buzzing around 4:30am trying to wake me out of a slumber from which I really didn't want to come out of. Normally I wouldn't have set my alarm that early for a 7am shift, but the city buses were on a holiday schedule so I couldn't take my normal route in, and whereas I sometimes arrive 10-15 minutes late if I take the bus closest to my apartment, that isn't all that much of a problem when I am a stockperson, it is a big problem when, like Christmas, I am in charge of the place. Thankfully I am not in charge all that much anymore, maybe it has something to do with my confidence inspiring comments like "When the ship starts to sink, I want to be at the helm so I can drive it right into the ocean." As a result I am now only left in charge when it is absolutely necessary.

Back to the story, the alarm goes off at 4:30am, allowing for me to have the appropriate number of smacks of the snooze button before I actually get out of bed. I am so terrible at getting up in the morning that I now set my clock a full two hours ahead just so when the alarm does go off, the first thing I have to do is a math problem to figure out just what time it is. If I can force my brain to do a little work I find it helps get the rest of the body moving in the morning as well.

I manage to get up, start putting the things I need to get together for my trip home later all rounded up, throw on some clothes, just sweat pants and a sweat shirt, thus ruining my chance at being GQ's News Stand Man of the Year, and head out the door around 6:15am. I catch my bus and get into work about 6:45 am, where I start by counting the bank, then the cigarettes cartons, then the cell phones, then putting together the two register banks for Brittany and myself and finally getting the lottery in order and proceed to start my work day.

And then I wait, and wait and wait, as the shop was incredibly slow, as was to be expected Christmas morning. Most of the newspapers we normally carry didn't arrive, the local paper, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the driver never even stopped in, he just blew off our stop, and many of the out of town papers like the NY Post, NY Daily News, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Harrisburg Patriot News, Wall Street Journal, etc. didn't show up because apparently their driver had the holiday off. About the only aspect of the business that really did any significant amount of money was the lottery, which was made more troublesome by Brittany, who really needs to be properly trained on running the lottery machine, so it was a multitude of mistakes when she tried to sell tickets. Part of the reason for it being busy was the Powerball drawing which was to take place the next day had a jackpot of $120+ million, and anytime the jackpot grows to those type numbers sales obviously increase.

For the entire day I didn't even clear $600 in sales, so in many ways it was a waste of time. I cut my stockperson loose two hours early, thus saving a little on payroll and I would have cut myself loose early as well if I didn't have to balance the books at the end of the shift.

So 3pm comes, the bank balances out and the lottery number games all balance out yet my instant tickets come up as being $20 over. I racked my brain for where the discrepancy could be but couldn't find it, so either the earlier shift sold some tickets and didn't turn them in or I made change out of my drawer and just misplaced the cash, in which case my drawer will come up $20 short. In any event I had places to go and things to do Christmas day so I didn't waste too much time on it.

I go and catch my bus and am back in my apartment by 3:30pm. One of the advantages of living in Oakland is even on a holiday schedule there are enough buses that head this way that a wait at the bus stop isn't too long.

I get in and wrap the last few presents I didn't get to the previous night and make sure all of my Christmas cards are in order then I grab the few things I didn't have packed away, my laptop and my camera. I didn't even bother packing clothes, I figured if I was only going to be home a day there was no sense in packing a bunch of clothes I wouldn't wear.

My family arrived around 4pm so I loaded everything into the truck and off we went. I thought I did okay in buying gifts this year, I know I didn't spend the money my family did, but I also don't make quite the money that they do. Thankfully I really have only three people to buy for, my mom and her husband and whoever I get in the family gift exchange. The gift exchange item was shipped out already so it would be there by Christmas Eve, I had my aunt Valerie's name and I got her a programmable coffee pot, a few small sample coffees (Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Irish Cream) and a couple of matching photo albums that came already wrapped in a bow. Anything to help me, because my gift wrapping skills are sure to keep gift wrapping stations in department stores in business for years to come. My skill or lack thereof with gift wrapping is almost as much of a running joke as my actual Christmas list is.

So we pile into the truck and off we go. First stop is my grandmothers house where we are going to drop off her gifts and do a little visiting since I haven't seen her since my birthday party back in June. When we get there my cousin Bob is also there, so we talk a little about our respective jobs, since he too had to work on Christmas Day. We were going to head down to his place after our stop at my grandmother's house, but since his dad was sick with the flu, we decided it best to not disturb them and instead just gave Bob all of the stuff that was to go to his place. We also were going to walk across the street to my cousin Amanda's house but her and her husband Mark had company, I think it was Mark's family, so we just dropped off the stuff for them and after chatting with my grandmother for about an hour or so we headed home to perhaps begin with our actual holiday festivities.

The road between my grandmother's house and that of my parents is almost a straight shot along a US highway (US 422 for those that need to know such details). Along the way is a little town called Shelocta, a town that derives its name from the Iroquois language, meaning "Shainee Cabin". Honestly I have no idea who the hell Shainee is, or why the town is named after his or her cabin, but I often joke that it is a suburb of Elderton, my hometown. Not that my hometown is large by any stretch, fewer than 400 poeple actually live there, but Shelocta is even smaller still, with just 127 residents as of the 2000 census. The main feature of Shelocta is a little truck stop called Sandy Kaye's, which has been there for years. Back when I was in high school it was open 24 hours and it wasn't uncommon to see high school kids in there late night, trying to sober up before facing their respective parental units after a night of drinking and partying. The staple of such events was usually french fries with gravy, but through the years the hours of operation have changed, it is no longer open 24 hours, I think it closes around 10pm most nights now.

The reason I mention these odd bits of useless trivia is bacuse as we are driving home, we drive by and I happen to notice that they are open. I believe my actual words were "Look, Sandy Kaye's is open on Christmas." I said it more out of curiosity than anything else, but Mike decided that it would be better to eat now than go home, try to do all of our Christmas stuff and then make something to eat after it. It was a logic that my stomach agreed with, all I had to eat all day was an egg salad sandwich at work and a free coffee from Sheetz when we first left Pittsburgh (the free coffee thing may end up becoming as much a holiday tradition as my Christmas list blog.) so there was no argument from me on the prospect of eating.

We went in and there were maybe three people there, one of which looked like the boyfriend of the high school girl who drew the short straw and had to waitress on Christmas. I ordered the meatloaf sandwich with french fries and gravy but when it came to the table it was mashed potatoes instead. Rather than make a big fuss about it I just ate the mashed potatoes, no big thing and really nothing to get all upset over on a holiday. I offered to buy dinner but Mike said no, so I threw $10 on the tip, Mike added another $5. Hopefully it was enough for the waitress having to work a holiday.

From there it was back to the road home, all of about a ten minute drive from there and unloading the truck. We exchanged gifts, some of which I took pictures of and posted earlier. If you notice a lack of me in those pictures it is because I tend to stay out of photos as much as possible. I have previously mentioned many of the goodies I got, so I will not revisit that bit of history either.

Next it was onto laptop surgery. I have been having problems with my laptop since the dreaded BSoD. I had it mostly running, but no sound, so I cracked it out of its case, sat down and tried to figure out what it was that still ailed my laptop. I went to the Microsoft page which thankfully had a diagnostic program I could run. So I do a quick check of my computer and while I had most of the programs I needed reinstalled from the Dell website, I was still missing a sound mixer. So off I was to websearch to find the audio mixer I was sorely missing and after some tinkering I managed to find it. While I was downloading stuff I went ahead and downloaded Firefox as well, then used it to test the new mixer by heading to Surf the Channel and trying to watch a TV program. The sky parted, the angels sang and the audio worked. I felt so happy. Plus the trip home gave me the chance to test the WiFi, which was also renstalled and I was able to steal a signal from the neighbors with little to no problem. Dare I say it was a Christmas miracle, but the laptop seems to be back and almost better than ever. There is still some free ware I need to put back on it, like Open Office, but for now it seems to be working quite well.

A little TV watching later and mom headed off to bed, Mike headed into the front room, where I normally sleep when I am at home and was doing something on his laptop and he fell asleep in there, so I just crashed in the living room in the chair I was sitting in while watching TV.

Saturday morning I was up by 8am after a rather long Christmas Day. First things first was coffee, which I tend to start most days with. I puttered around the house with my coffee, checked out the TV to see if anything was on the dish, smoked a cigarette or two out on the back porch. Mom started making our day late Christmas dinner by getting the turkey ready for the oven. Mike woke up and we were talking in the living room when he mentioned that my mom's computer was having audio problems as well and could I look at it. Unlike my laptop or desktop, which are still running Windows XP, they have Vista which I am not very familiar with, so I said I would take a look at it, but couldn't promise anything. It turns out on their computer the speakers are attached to the monitor, a feature that I don't necessarily like, but to each their own I guess. Anyway, I run the same diagnostic program that I ran on my laptop and unlike my laptop, that required some relatively serious work, at least serious work compared to my limited technical capabilities, this time the diagnostic just said that a cable was unplugged. So I pull the computer out from the cabinent and while there is something plugged into the microphone jack, nothing is actually in the line out. Better still, I have no idea what it was that was actually plugged into the microphone jack, so I located the cable for the speakers and plugged it in and not so miracle of miracles sound started to come out. Imagine that!

After fixing the computer I sat down to a rather tasty post Christmas dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, egg noodles, gravy, green beans, corn and for dessert, pumpkin pie. Wow, after living off of my bachelor cooking for so long it was incredible to sit down and have a real meal.

Then we kind of laid around for a while, I will call it tryptophan poisoning where no one really wanted to move. I watched the Meineke Car Care Bowl since Pitt was playing and ity was a pretty good game, with Pitt beating North Carolina 19-17 to get their first 10 win season since Dan Marino played at Pitt back in 1982.

Afterward it was time to start packing for the trip back to Pittsburgh. Mike had to work Sunday, so rather than do a ton of running around the day he had to leave we decided to just bring me back on Saturday night. My mompacked a cooler full of leftovers and other groceries she thought I might like, I packed up all of my presents and we loaded up the truck for the trip back. The ride back was relatively uneventful, no stops or anything like that. About the only thing that was even remotely surprising is that early on in the trip we encountered a decent amount of fog, something that you don't see a whole lot of here in the Northeast in winter, but nothing so unmanageable that we could plow forward. There was no real traffic on the raods and with Oakland deserted because the students had went home for winter break getting into and out of my place was relatively simple.

And really that was that, Christmas lasted all of about 24 hours and then it was back to the same normal daily grind that I am used to.

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