Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Other Side Of The Seasons

As with anywhere, there's another side to the best and worst of the seasons, even in Colorado.

As these photos (again, taken by moi) demonstrate.

Two of these photos will be revisited in June, as I continue the "Tornado Chasing For Dummies" series...

Notes: the two tornado pictures are from the same storm in June, 1990, that hit Denver and parts therein (thereafter all over, where applicable); the snowstorm is from December 1987, and the one that I carry memories of every day since in chiropractic bills; and the last is the very intense backside rains of a supercell I chased to Limon, CO, during one of my '05 TCfD episodes.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Seasons in the Rockies

The first day of spring here was heralded in with a snowstorm; that night (at least at work), the temperature plunged (for perhaps the last time this season) below zero (-4 when I left).

Welcome to one of the seasons in the Rockies.

On the other hand, today -- Saturday, March 25, 2006 -- we are looking at sunshine and projected highs in the 60s.

Welcome to one of the seasons in the Rockies.

The above photos -- all taken by moi -- highlight the seasons one will see here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More Ahmerikan Eyedull: Bulkmailer Poets

Here we go again.

In checking that Yahoo email account wherein the 'bulk mail' builds up, I found another 30 messages awaiting the recommended brand of routine filing (aka, delete). 24 of them were more of the same "agents competing for your refi" wordstring nonsense.

Been there and done that, even if Seymour and Jane were eager to do another judging gig; worse, Seymour wants to judge and be a contestant. He missed the William Hung fiasco on AI, so it's little wonder he isn't into learning from example, but more on that coming up.

As I reviewed the remaining six messages, four of them were headed "message subject"; upon opening, each had the graphic (top right) sandwiched in the verbiage of the message, offering up online prescription drugs with "no hassle" (aka, no quality control, no proof of what's ordered is what's received, no one to complain to when your 'Viagra' is actually alum, etc).

But each message that ran before and after the graphic was -- instead of the usual word strings of gibberish -- poetry. Or at least, what the bulkmailer meant to come off as poetry.

It might qualify as such in a Boulder (CO) or Berkeley (CA) coffee/cocaine house, but I digress.

I'm not much of a poetry person, as my last quip exemplifies. But with a pet rock and earette of corn egging me on, I took the time to read each one. So did Seymour and Jane. Their obvious enthusiasm for another episode as judges was not infectious. But rather than have to deal with a day off shared with a pouting rock and earette...I reluctantly relented.

The reluctance mounting when I heard what they had in mind for this one.

Thus, we bring you another episode of Ahmerikan Eyedull: Bulkmailer Poets.

This episode, we have five contestants. Four from the bulk mail; and...I know I'm gonna regret this...Seymour (yes, I'm gonna let the rock be a contestant; he's disqualified as a judge on his own, which he's still trying to understand). In order to present each contestant in an atmosphere conducive to poetry, according to Seymour/Jane, while each contestant's poetry is 'read' (by yall), you have to envision Seymour, quietly strumming a ukulele (gag me), and Jane, softly humming.

If you've ever heard the version of Elvis losing his composure during a rendition of "Are You Lonesome Tonight" -- aka, the Laughing Elvis song -- imagine Jane sounding like his background vocalist did in that rendition, and the rest will logically follow.

*Did Jane just kick me in the shin?*

'Nuff said. Onto tonight's contestants:

Dorothy Reyes in, I Babble (*Seymour starts strumming, and Jane starts humming*):

shrinking sensation, Watson..
But I kept trudging on through the lonely years..
(*the graphic at top right was inserted here*)
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV
Considerests thous alone the burial of stars?
Children, I come back today.
On glancing over my notes of the seventy off cases I find many tragic..
is broken, Says Noel Tichy, A University of Michigan business school.
But, above all, they floated. Above all, they were light..
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother
Stands a child, with her father
it might be a shadowy trace
But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth
To start, simply type the value of currency to convert in the amount box..
One picture, one puzzle piece.

(My vote: what the f*** was that?; Seymour and Jane are 'thumping' the table, which is the equivalent of applause in a coffee house, I gather...)

Next up, Mohammad Youngblood with Syntax Jihad (*Seymour, quit shooting paper clips off the ukulele strings, and get to it*)

Swim the delicate brothers, the Pleiades..
the rest of us pinned the kid down to the ground..
(*the stupid, irrelevant graphic was hyar*)
I had to keep on! No stopping for me --
They were luminescent without having form or light
Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair
Quince used to wonder if these poor souls were the only type
Longer than sun, or any revolving satellite
But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth..
GM's reliance on cash incentives to sell its vehicles has only added to the company's problems..
Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave --
for, working as he did rather for love of his art than for the acquirement of wealth,
in a small room in a small hotel, staring out of the windows at the street,
dark ones of today, my dreams must come true;
while in the wild wood I did lie
having nothing, but one old wet picture puzzle piece
and a sound in the night, with no smell.

(See my comments from previous; Seymour is in tears, and Jane is genuflecting..).

Next up (Gawd hep me)...Bette Franks with Babblicious (*Seymour, it's a ukulele, not a violin, and a flyswatter's not a bow...cut that out*):

So shake the very Heaven on high,
some grinning morn --
(*yep..the graphic was hyar*)
Deep in my breast -- the Negro mother
it might be a bit of the cloak
Be sure you're you're sure -- you know --
They were humble without having a self to humble..
With my lips soothing thee, adding, I whisper
no safety, no love, no respect was I due
with him -- indeed, he's here at my invitation.
On the big belly bounce,
it's down upon my spirit flings...
I give them the first suggestion, the problem and the indirection;
company Brand dimensions whereas GM would best be described as having a 'brand penalty', with his face in the curb, he kept pushing until it opened.
And I grin in the morn.

(Oooooookay...Seymour has a *duck hit on the head* look, and Jane is scratching her kernels on this one...I think we have a unanimous *sucks* rating...finally).

Next up...Heidi Merrill with Dialectical Dump (*Jane, give Seymour back the ukulele...you're the hummer, not the strummer*):

Remember the whip and the slaver's track,

taught me my alphabet to say..

(*yep...it's hyar*)

believe in the right, let none push you back

I am the one who labored

something there is, make of my pass a road to the light

professor and former chief of GE's Crotonville leadership development program

to lisp my very earliest word

and stand like free men supporting my trust,

hum, he's about due...do you feel a creeping...

our caravan was lost where the odd job woman lived

weep not, my darling

of the Witch of the West.

One picture puzzle piece and know thine self

a simple, separate person

up through the darkness

when Washington calculates inflation based on 105

remember my years, heavy with sorrow

devouring the stars only in apparition.

(I vote *sucks*...Seymour, don't hit the *sucks* button with the ukulele...Jane is now holding the ukulele while Seymour beats the *sucks* button with the flyswatter..).

Well, here we are...the four bulkmail poets have had their time. Now I...what? Me? I can't play a ukulele! Oh hell...I knew this was a bad idea..

At any rate, our final contestant, Seymour Stonesworth Roundfellow, and his decompostion, Flatus Ad Hominum (*I'm TOINGing the ukulele, and Jane is laughing hysterically*):

Asteroid, my celestial cousin

afire in the atmosphere,

I'll bet it sucks, you know;

go 'round next time, you dummy.

My base fiddle loudly shrieks,

beneath the tuba.

Memories of the quarry are but

sand through the catboxes of Time and Rosemary

who taught him to play the ukulele like that..ewww...

causing my hair to stand on end,

but that I have none, so it must be moss...

oh, the life of a rolling stone.

I snort the banana

and get no satisfaction from onion flatulence.

My friend in another realm, a duck by any other species,

but not GM, whomever they so think to be

while flatulating a love song in E flat.

Whoa, the aroma..

open the windows, it's blue hereabouts.

Bituminous, bituminous,

tis a coal coal world out there,

hard to be, and harder to spell,

so my ukulele plays a tune

the world has never heard

as Jane hums the melody

in E flat.

And you better pick me,

or I'll pout.

(Okay, readers: I had earplugs in, and so did Jane, to blot out the ukulele's screams of agony...so you get to vote in the comments section...who won?).

We already know the ukulele didn't.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Animation vs Science Fiction

Life can be so surreal sometimes. At other times, just surreally absurd. When viewed by a pet rock, put the emphasis squarely on absurd.

That's Seymour's take on this current controversy between the animated Comedy Central mainstay, South Park, and a cultish, screwball creation amusingly called a religion by its "followers".

Seymour doesn't get it: South Park can (and does) lampoon about anyone and anything. When it comes to religion, no denomination is safe from the satire and parody of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Except, apparently, when it came to the 'thetans' of L. Ron Hubbard: last November, the episode Trapped In The Closet ran on Comedy Central. In it -- apparently -- the four animated and totally out-of-control fourth graders of South Park, CO, take their turn lampooning the so-called religion of Scientology. One of the side characters in the episode -- "Chef" -- is voiced by none other than Isaac Hayes, a devout Scientologist.

In an interview earlier this year, Hayes made light of the episode, chiding anyone for taking it too seriously, and noting with amusement that (Trey) Parker and (Matt) Stone "make fun of everyone".

But with a re-run of the episode scheduled for the week of March 17, first Hayes quits the show, claiming (suddenly, and after years of willingly intolerant and bigoted participation) that he can no longer put up with "the intolerance and bigotry on the show". THEN it comes out that Comedy Central -- a subsidiary of Viacom -- is not going to re-run the episode. It seems that Paramount Studios -- a subsidiary of Viacom -- has been told (allegedly) by Scientologist Tom Cruise that if the episode is allowed to run again, he'll not promote Paramount's upcoming summer release of Mission Impossible 3. Seems that Cruise is one of the Scientologists parodied in the episode. And he didn't like it, anymore than celebrity whiner Sean Penn liked the Parker/Stone marionette representation of hisself in Team America: World Police. Thus piqued, Cruise allegedly went to Paramount with the threat, to get it (the re-run of the South Park episode) suppressed.

An allegation that Cruise's paid mouthpiece pithily denies.

But Parker or Stone don't buy it. And apparently, neither does Seymour.

At any rate, South Park creators Parker and Stone have declared "war" on Scientology, in the same fearless manure they take on anyone and anything with their irreverent, parodious style.

This should prove interesting.

Not having watched much (ie., any) of South Park, answer me this: is Kenny still around to get killed by "those bastards"?

I confess that I know little more about Scientology; I don't travel in the circles of celebrity dupes..er..Scientologists. Fact is, I don't care a great deal about learning the details of other foo-foo religions or sects; I tend to annoy Seven Day Adventists who knock on my door with this joke: what do you get when you cross a Seven Day Adventist with an atheist? Someone who knocks on your door for no reason... Bottomline is, I believe what I believe, and don't have time for new age religions or those pushers of odd-denominations who basically spend their time whoring for money, first, last, always (like the infamous Pastor Gas).

But Seymour -- the ever-inquisitive pet rock -- has mondo time on his ha..er...time to do research. So he's chosen to look more into it.

What he came up with, well...take with a grain of salt. Perhaps a block of it. And remember, he's a rock: he's still learning basics of English grammar and comprehension from yours truly; and yall know how I slaughter the language for fun and raised eyebrows:

G. Sod Dubyard is the creator of this quasi-infume religion. He came up with a science fiction concept for the newly-evolving television genre in the early 1950s, which was panned by the critics as reading "too faux-religious sounding". Brooding over his rejection with a cup of coffee laced with meth, it suddenly came to G. Sod in a drug-laced *TOING* that he had made up..er..divined a tremendous and potentially tax-free way to dupe the IRS: thus was born Signabathroomwallogy (which would be shortened later, but the rock digresses).

Thus it came to pass: the birth of a cult religion, based on a rejected and poorly-written science fiction script, which would prove to be based loosely on characters of the eventual cult hit Science Fiction Theatre 3000.

Quickly making up..er..divining concepts like "flatua" (an energy existing in the bowels of every entity of the universe; the sulfer-based ones were particularly disgusting) and Energy, Space, Munchies = TTR (Time To Run) which flatua controls, particularly in enclosed spaces like elevators, Dubyard began to spread his New Word in his introductory book, Dysenterics, which well prepares readers for what's to come in the formal religion thereafter.

G. Sod's theory is that flatuans are a part of each of us, and live on when the physical portion crumbles and disperses after one too many spicy tacos or garlic & onion fajitas. Most current flatua have "lost" their way and their path to greater fragrance, through the impurities of an impure world; but using renewal and loads of mandatorily-donated dinero, individual flatua may find their way back to fiscally bankrupted bliss (make the checks, 401ks, stocks, bonds, trust funds, properties, soul of first borns, etc. payable to Signabathroomwallogy, to be shortened later).

Besides the impurities in an impure world, what else derails the flatua from the path of total financial dependence on the cult? According to G. Sod, things like pre-birth trauma; watching an episode of The Apprentice; exposure to CSPAN, CNN or a William Hung CD; topless photos of Patricia Ireland; an intellectual discussion with the bimbos of Airhead America; and/or watching a "Girls Gone Wild -- The Geriatrics Ward" video.

But there's something deeper, and more sinister yet, that forces flatuans from the path of spiritual olfactory-hardening: the evil influences of X-Emu (pictured top right).

Millyuns and millyuns of years before Carl Sagan talked like that, alien invaders from the Gallaxy game and other malevolent orbs like Moveon.org and the MetroCab Confounderacy, invaded the land of the dinosaurs and pre-liberals, sequestering themselves deep inside volcanoes (using the heavy sulfur to mask them from the more astute Flatuans), beer vats, outhouse pits and within the footnotes of Hillary Clinton's Rose Law Firm billing records. It was He who decreed this be so: The Evil Emperor, X-Emu.

It is claimed that the Evil Emperor was defeated and is being held without bail at Club Gitmo, pending a writ of habeus corpse; being ably represented by Clark Clifford, it is thought He has the same chances of parole that Saddam Hussein's marionette puppet has, but that's for later.
Nonetheless, His evil influence lives on, clouding the path of righteous nonsense for the wayward and lost Flatuans; evidence of which (according to such followers as His Nibs, Tom Cruisecontrol) is found in the purveyors of nefarious, scattergun humor against The Word, aka South Park.

Save for those, of course, who are found, cleansed (of every last penny) and rebirthed by G. Sod Dubyard's Signabathroomwallogy, soon to be shortened. Adherents (aka, the brain-washed) of Signabathroomwallogy -- soon to be shortened -- seek, through the redemption of wealthy, easily-suckered recruits, and tactics embracing the best of the Soros playbook (threats, intimidation, picketing, personal smears and the planting of rumors that detractors' mothers wear barbwire corsets), to eventually rule the world, and forever banish X-Emu to re-runs of Sesame Street.

And there you have...."it".

At any rate, I'll be watching how the South Park/Scientology controversy plays out, though probably not as closely as Seymour. I just hope that Seymour doesn't get "bitten" by the religious cult 'bug'; Seymour usually is the one making impressions, especially in anything he falls on. But he's still rather impressionable himself. Just ask Jane, when she got him on a "pull my finger" episode in a lead-up to April Fools...

Meantime...and pseudoseriously...anyone have a notion of how expensive it is to de-program a pet rock? Let alone, keep him from sending my loose change to some freak cult. Just askin'...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ahmerikan Eyedull -- Cruciverbiologyonics

I'm sure versions of this have been written about ad nauseum all over Cyberville; but heretofore, not by me.

I'm pretty good with words. I'm very good at misusing them tactically and strategically, especially with email scamsters. But I must admit: I got nuthin' on these bulk mailers.

Nuthin'. They know and string words like I never thunk to. More on that in a mo'.

Checking one of my email accounts, I had 36 new inbox entries in a day; 34 of them from 34 different names, with the same general message "Agents Compete For Your Refi". I really ought to tell 'em that I rent an apartment; but do they really care? I think they're competing for 'most bizarre word string in cyberland'.

First, I had two oddball emails: the first was from Eric Adamsen, who writes in the subject line, "Spending Their Time Online". In the text is the simple, clear and concise message "get a fack buddy", followed by a totally gibberished website listing. I'll put that right at the bottom of my list of things to do in 2030. I might need a fack buddy by then, if I remember what it was like to fack...

Next, I had a genuine 'phishing' email: Chase Bank Online SM Service (banks offer THAT now adays, too?:O ) announce Chase Online SM and Bank One Online are coming together (I know countless partners who wish they could as well) ! Please update yous account(s) today! I thought about clicking in and entering a bogus account, but eh...

Now to the 34 aforementioned offers to have them agents compete for my refi! I found it amusing that, as I examined each message (yes, I have no life to speak of, so I can do this), the top half of the message was basically the same: This is the final notice (my ass it is) You have been selected for our lowest rate in years, even if you have a bad credit histree (mwhahaha) You could get over $420,000 for as little as $400 a month!

All I hadda do was click on the accompanying link, and let the phishers try and get my vitals.

But I was more drawn to what followed: the absolutely nonsensical word strings. Though, not all of them were totally nonsensical. As I read each of the 34 messages (told you I had no life), I found some that were almost profound, in a bang-your-head-against-something-solid-awhile kinda way.

The scholarly pet rock Seymour and his better half earette of corn, Jane, saw where this was headed, and immediately volunteered their *expertise*...

Since I selected what, in my opinion, were some of the more inspired strings, I am really obligated to credit the fictional persons who were purported to have sent these emails from Madison Avenue's CyberUnWashed Armpit of Advertising Online (www.gagmewithafrontendloader.com) , or wherever it is this sh...stuff is sent from. Better still -- and to let the rock and corn participate -- let's run the first-ever version of Ahmerikan Eyedull: Cruci..Cruvi..Ah (expletive deleted) It..Werdsmyth. I can be a fair-minded pri..judge of good word strings, just like Simon Scowl, that one pri...judge on American Idol. I'm more dubious about Seymour in this role, but ready or not, here we go:

James Holley includes in his message "herculean cony TRY IT terminus sophistry stunk eastwood dart consume TRY IT stammer brat fugue siesta midget attorney (I almost fell out of my chair on that 'un..) chickweed xenophobia chapel". (but other than the midget attorney, it was basic gibberish...James, you suck...next)

Raymond Davis offers up " counterintuitive it's cherry ham snort okinawa on abyss see lummox". (Sorry, Ray, but *yawn*...you suck at this...ouch, Seymour..easy on the button...next..)

Eduardo Fuentes counters with "massacre it's debutante be emasculate some cherokee bisque some lower the blow". (seems Eduardo has some issues...any psychoanalysis-types out there? Tell Eduardo when he's back on his medication that he sucks at this...next)

Marciela Pitts is much more earthy with "be channel and brood but criss consort it a mailbox may washbowl its hymn of bowel". (good thing there was nuthin' in there about specific religions...gits folks all twitterpated, it do..we might let Marciela hang to Round 2..then again, I don' need no fatwahs decreed on my first show...ah, Jane beat me to the *Sucks* button...next)

Marshall Smith took a more cerebral approach with "sheer locutor a bobby lipschitz afford cartesian see mop smoothbore hyperextend details". (are you getting some good karmic flow yet? Good...neither am I...whoa, Seymour...that button isn't made of armor...Marshall's off to Sucksville...next)

Dye (that's all) was most likely into rap with "its on on on be a some see in see in, see may not in try and or its a and but or not" (it did little to change my opinion of rap, but I digress, and Dye is the William Hung of this episode, sucking all sorts of things not meant to be so...there was nearly a three-way collision trying to hit the *Sucks* button this time...next)

Regally titled Renee Q. Rutherford V was of the more profound with "Toyota, on the other hand, practically glows in the eyes of American dermatologists, which can cost as much as top shortstops". (all I ever got from Toyota was a car....) I consider her in the top three...Seymour seems to agree; Jane's more grudging about it, and now's doggin' my ass for a name upgrade..sheesh.

Iris Cooper -- a closet Italian -- proclaims widda gusto "subterfuge not spumoni may puddly the jitterbug atwitched" (so Iris, don' let da friggin' jitterbug drink da spumoni foist, y'knowadda mean? Jane says suck your spumoni and next...)

Harley Tyler is obviously Southern with his "alabamian try bedpost decertify in grits". (yes, I'm looking for some place now to bang MY head....Seymour, crush the *Sucks* button and NEXT...)

Denise Redmond is obviously of a northeastern media background as she "try butt fuzz colonist whig but crucify codfish viewpoint with horsehair". (I wasn't aware codfish had suddenly replaced Dubya as the object of their crucifyin', unless the codfish was a card carryin' consoivative...you almost knocked off Ms Regalbutt for third, but Seymour and Jane vied for the *Sucks* button; Jane won and NEXT)

Tammi Mathews almost won my top award here with "roast may cackle in doltish derriere of officialdom", but I hate the image this puts in my mind the next time I go to Stuart Anderson's restaurant... (Seymour's convulsed, and even Jane is grinning at this one...Second Place...Next)

Finally -- and I think my choice for champion -- is Karla Perry, for this truly profound word string and obfuscational rant "filch a reliant germicide lamb it's kibbutzim in a bookcase and try woo in cereal send marmot chiropractor".

A moment, please, as I insu..consult my fellow judges (Seymour and Jane are arguing about recounts, redos...oh hell, now Seymour wants to compete...Seymour, you're a judge, not a contestant this time...Jane, assuage the pouty rock and let's get to the winner).....


Much as they all were 'winners' in their own peculiar ways, this episode of Ahmerikan Eyedull is....KARLA PERRY!

You can only hope this dingb...champion is an elementary school teacher somewhere, teaching 5 year olds the basucks of spelin.

Unless you really value real education, then...get your kids out of that public school district, fast.

Oh well. Now, wasn't that fun? Doesn't it make you want to kiss off AI for my version of AE? Let's have a show of hands: Who's in for American Idol? *Seymour's counting* Who's in for for another round of Ahmerikan Eyedull? A show of hands....feet...anything...


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mission: Iraq

Not me; I should be so useful.

A local radio reporter/show co-host (Steffan Tubbs, Colorado's Morning News, 5-9am, 850 KOA AM, Denver CO) has been in Iraq since the beginning of March, giving listeners to the 50,000 watt "blowtorch" of the West a personal and no-spin view of the on-the-ground situation in Iraq, as the 3rd anniversary of the invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein is upon us.

I told Steffan in an email (we've never met, but we exchanged correspondence during another of his earlier assignments at a domestic warzone: Oklahoma City, April 1995) that he's nuts: volunteering to go to such a hot zone as Iraq, leaving behind a wife, kids and nice, safe gig in Denver. I told him he's the same kind of nuts that Walter Cronkite was, riding a glider into Holland with the Operation Market-Garden American paratroopers during WW II; that Andy Rooney was, riding along in B-17s and B-24s during bombing missions over France and Germany, seeing the airwar up close and almost too personal; that AP's Larry Allen was, having survived the sinkings of 8 warships he recorded the war from; that Ernie Pyle was, who told the GI's story from Africa thru France, only to go off to the Pacific to tell the stories of the Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen serving there, and dying on Okinawa so that the American public would know the pride and the pain of the combat soldier as he lived it. The same kind of nuts that defined Gene and Charlie Jones, Marguerite Higgins, and others who covered the ground war in Korea from the trenches; the same kind of nuts that defined Joe Galloway, covering Hal Moore and his battalion of the 7th Cavalry at Ia Drang in '65, walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death (and immortalized in We Were Soldiers) to tell a story that couldn't be done justice in the telling, save for by someone who was there.

The kind of nuts that volunteer to go into that valley of the Shadow, to see that what the troops experience and endure, is not ignored or forgotten by the folks it is being done for, regardless of the right or wrong that put them where they now stand.

Legends, every one of them. One helluva fine group of nuts to stand with, Steffan.

I almost wish I had the opportunity to do what he's doing; whether I'd have the guts to do it is something I'll probably never find out.

At any rate, he has posted blog entries for his travel to/and experiences so far in Iraq (thru March 15) on the KOA website along with a gallery of photos (such as the one top right); he has also posted for readers, email addresses for some of the troops he's been embedded with, sharing their stories and their experiences in their day-to-day efforts to carry out the mission they're tasked with.

And I'm here to tell you, Cindy Sheehan: there's not a 'dupe' among them. Volunteers and heroes, every one.

If any of you would like to send words of encouragement to these fine Americans, here are some of the email addresses Steffan has posted:

rebelrumble@aol.com Private Chris Daley, Richmond VA
darkwerewolf01@yahoo.com Private Matthew Harris, College Station TX
r22stud@yahoo.com Private Roger Studdard, Sullivan MO
donald.locke@us.army.mil Sgt. Donald Locke, Ann Arbor MI
jason.e.grunow@us.army.mil Spc. Jason Grunow, Conifer CO
lostsouls22@yahoo.com Sgt. Carl Washington, Manhattan, NY
hershel.tidwell@us.army.mil Spc. Hershel Tidwell, Leesburg FL
ghostvc1@yahoo.com Sgt. Nathan Byrd, Hickory NC
matthew.ginter@us.army.mil Pvt. Matthew Ginter (no hometown listed)
siempre_papichulo@yahoo.com Spc. Vicente Diaz, King City CA
kevin.o.wood@us.army.mil Sgt. Kevin Wood (no hometown listed)

Note: Steffan notes that Sgt. Washington and his fellows have a fondness for Little Debbie snack cakes...and I'm waiting to hear how this fondness can be faciliated. When I know, I'll update.

Not all of us who wish to serve in times like these can serve in the manner of the young men and women now in harms' way; but we can serve in other ways. For example, by letting them know we support and salute them.

I've taken the time to write to the soldiers listed above; let them know you're thinking of them, too.

It means as much to them as what they're doing means to us all.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Tennyson Ducks

Reminiscing sucks. But it can sure be funny to others.

Going through my collection of photos taken over the years, I found one of me from 26 years ago, teeing off in my first-ever corporate golf tournament, after a summer of playing in my first-ever corporate golf league(s).

Trust me: I ain't near as svelt as I was then, but I digress. And don't let the golf swing fool you either, as the upcoming will reveal.

Just how did I do in my first-ever golf tournament, you ask? I'll say this much: the scene was truly picturesque. A country club close to the US Air Force Academy north of Colorado Springs. Set off the interstate, in an area akin to the Black Forest region (awash in trees). If the scenery for 18 holes was the measuring stick, I won. Alas, it wasn't. And I didn't.

Instead, I'll let this badly-written parody of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's epic poem Charge Of The Light Brigade 'splain it, with apologies to the following, of course: Alfred, Lord Tennyson; The Johns-Manville Annual Golf Tournament (1980); Woodmoor Golf Club and the residents living thereon; The PGA; The Sierra Club; The Audubon Society; Pinnacle Golf; Wilson Golf Clubs; Dexter Golf Shoes; the beer cart babe; my foursome, and those ahead, behind, and to either side at any given time; and random traffic on I-25.

For Whom The Strokes Toll

End of league, end of league
to the annual tournament onward
went the league golfers
"Forward to the nineteenth hole" they cried.
To the club of Woodmoor, went the league golfers.

In his foursome, was there a trio dismay'd?
For the others knew,
the way he played.
From whenst the first tee off,
and the golf balls fell
rode his foursome.
Into the Valley of the hazards of Hell,
rode the foursome.

Trees to the left of them, trees to the right of them,
trees in front of them,
cracked and ricocheted;
storm'd at with fades and hooks,
oft they ducked and well
within range of his drives,
into the 'Fore!'s of Hell
dodged his foursome.

Flash'd all their irons bare,
flash'd as they got thrown in air
flying as they ducked and dodged his errant shots there
while the rest on the course wonder'd:
plunged in divots' spray
right through his line of fire went they
through the course at Woodmoor
ducked his foursome.

Players to the right of them, players to the left of them
players behind them, acringe and asprawl;
diving 'neath shanks and errant ball;
Of the three dozen balls with which begun
back from the traps of Hell came not every one.

When can the memory fade?
O' the gawdawful score he made!
All the league wonder'd.
Forget it not, the game he flayed;
forgive it not, the game he played;
forget not the golf duffer
and his 143.

Worry not; I have no intention of giving up my day job...

Sunday, March 5, 2006


Proof -- if any is truly needed -- that not all scams are online, and not all scammers are Nigerian.

Back in late 2003, I received a snail mail with no return address on the envelope. "Probably an ex-goilfriend with something else she thinks she forgot to call me", was my first thought as I pondered the neatly hand-written cursive of the addresser.

Nope: it was something better. An old-fashioned scam letter. The kind one used to get before the proliferation of email and blackberries.

I read it. I smirked at it. I tossed it. Then came the belated *TOING* that usually signifies another bad idea about to escape the mental delete button.


Click the link to what I did with this letter in early '04; if nothing else, it'll show you that the first impulse -- tossing it -- was probably best:


And yes: I really sent this to the persons listed on the letter I received, confident that they'd never find me. Unless you, the reader, were one of them...*TOING*

Friday, March 3, 2006

World Geography?


it ain't what it used to be...

This might be revealing my age, but when I took geography, I was taught geography. When I finished, I knew where things were. I could look at a map and know what and where I was looking at.

Independent of that, I had some pre-conceived notions about various nations and political systems around the world, opinions that have ebbed and flowed a tad as I've aged and gained a bit of life experience, wisdom and cynicism. My personal opinions have had some shaping from outside influences, no doubt there; but little came during academic instruction from my junior high/high school geography teachers. Or history teachers. Or English teachers (one outstanding one in particular). Or Science/Math teachers. Gym/sports coaches. Counselors. Not even the study hall monitor.

Other than to study hard and learn well, that is.

What I got from most of them was a base foundation of knowledge, suitable on which to build upon; what I erected upon that foundation was mine to build. They gave me the tools, and the rest was up to me.

I'm sure they all had opinions, political and otherwise. A couple-three did discuss a few such opinions with me, but not in front of the class, nor during the class. During class, they stuck to the class curriculum. As it was, many were demanding-enough taskmasters with the curriculum itself. The tests weren't cakewalks, and they were college-preparatory.

For the most part, my teachers were professional, dedicated educators, and they took the job of educating their students seriously. Thus, I got a reasoned, rational, sound education in the public school system. True, I graduated in 1975, before the abominable nonsense of outcome-based education began diluting the public education system in so many places; and I'd get plenty of exposure to the more liberal educrats during my college years. But by and large, my educational basics were set well before some of the progressive dilution of educational standards kicked in.

Nowadays, public education gets a bad rap in a lot of locations. In some, the bad rap is well deserved. In others, it isn't. But even in good public education systems -- as in so much of life -- there are exceptions to every rule. In one such case, geography just ain't what it used to be. Particularly to one teacher in the well-regarded Cherry Creek school system, specifically at Overland High School (Aurora, CO): Jay Bennish.

Mr. Bennish has been at Overland High since 2000, instructing in both history and geography. Like all of his peers, he is educated. Like all of his peers, he keeps an eye on world and current affairs. Like all of his peers, he has opinions on much of what he sees, hears, and interprets about the world around him.

Unlike many of his peers, he apparently likes to impress upon his students those opinions. Apparently one-sided opinions that some students and their parents find objectionable, and of dubious relevance in a world geography class.

Recently -- in the wake of President Bush's 2006 State of the Union address -- Mr. Bennish felt it necessary to spend 21 minutes of a 45 minute world geography class, analyzing the President's speech in a most critical, anti-Bush manner. Among his many opinions (almost all of which are fact-void if not deliberately dishonest): he made a not-so-subtle but idiotic Hitler/Bush comparison (and the reason I added a Goebbels graphic); he decried the US as the world's leading terrorist; he claimed that Bush threatened the planet; that the US gave tanks, guns and aircraft to both sides in the Iran-Iraq War, so that neither side could win and the US could keep the region destabilized; that the CIA seeks to kill innocent civilians; that the US didn't really want peace in the Middle East; that capitalism is contrary to human rights; that the terrorists didn't see civilians in the World Trade Center: they saw a military target, because the CIA and FBI had offices there. And that we should understand where they -- the terrorists -- were coming from in their hatred of America.

One student -- Sean Allen, a sophomore -- recorded those 21 minutes. Which he later played for his father.

To the incredulous father, what he heard on the recording went over like a fart in a divers' suit. A complaint was made to the school administration; when it didn't seem that the administrators were taking the matter very seriously, Mr. Allen took the tape to a local radio talk show host, who made a point of playing it for his audience, and seeking comment from the father, the student, the administration and Mr. Bennish.

The administration was not pleased, either by the unwelcome and negative media attention or what seemed to be (at least on the tape) a clear violation of curriculum standards that all school district instructors are expected to teach by.

As for Mr. Bennish, he isn't talking (for now).

The controversy quickly went national. The school district is investigating. Students, parents, teachers, pundits and the public at large on both sides of the issue are debating. At times, constructively. At times, with inane insults and pejorative drivel.

Everyone involved (the student, the teacher) claim to be receiving death threats.

Speaking for me, I debated posting this entry: as a childless bachelor, I don't have a direct dog in this fight. I don't live in the Cherry Creek school district. I don't know a single person attending/working at Overland High School.

There is a First Amendment, and everyone's entitled to their own opinions. True enough.

But even the First Amendment has limits, including where and how some more controversial opinions are expressed.

In this constitutional republic of ours, we have freedom of expression. We also have a personal and societal responsibility for how we exercise that freedom of expression. EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US. Where self-control is not enough, we have laws that regulate aspects of that freedom of expression. Some regard conduct of the individual in a public venue. For example, you can't yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater when there isn't a fire. You can't yell racial epithets at another person of a different nationality/skin color in public, and so on.

Employers -- public and private sector -- have standards of conduct as well: what you can and can't do or say as an employee of an institution.

Mr. Bennish had standards he is required to maintain as a teacher of the Cherry Creek school district. The following is a quote from a Cherry Creek School District No. 5 regulation document, regarding "Teaching about Controversial/Sensitive Issues":

1. Good teaching of subjects involving controversial issues requires particular skill and so far as possible only teachers of superior training and experience will be assigned subjects in which a large body of material deals with such issues.
2. The approach of the teacher to controversial topics must be impartial and objective.

The comments he made that I related above, appear neither impartial nor objective. And not curriculum relevant in the context they are made.

At the same time, I took the time to listen to the entire tape (the whole 19 mg audio file is available for download at http://www.850koa.com/main.html); one oft-repeated allegation during the debate is that Bennish did not allow for dissenting comments during his diatribe. That is clearly not true in this specific case, as the student making the recording did venture dissenting questions several times, and was allowed to pose his questions by Bennish; at one point, Bennish even commended the student for the questions posed.

Was the teacher wrong in what he did? Yes. Should the school district hold him accountable for violating school policy in this case, and perhaps on other occasions as has been claimed by other students and teachers, which the school district was allegedly aware of? Yes. Should he be fired for his conduct?

Depends; established precedent in the school district with similar such matters should be the guide on this question. My guess is that he won't be fired; certainly if Mr. Bennish chooses to continue to ignore school policy, and continue his policy-violating conduct in the future, termination of his employment agreement will be wholly supportable.

Likewise, if another instructor is pushing controversial conservative opinions, there should be no difference in the outcome as regards discipline for violation of a clearly defined school district policy.

It is my opinion -- one I suspect is widely shared -- students in public K-12 education deserve the same balanced educational foundation upon which to build that I was afforded. Students and parents -- and the taxpayers -- should hold teachers and administrators to account when and where this is plainly and demonstrably not the case.

This concludes this personal opinion. We shall return you to your regularly expected hooha next entry.