Wednesday, December 31, 2003


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that several employees of the Tennessee Valley Authority had been disciplined for hazing a fellow employee. I don't know about you, but given the TVA's location, I immediately pictured a guy yelling "squeal like a pig" and "hazing" Ned Beatty. I know, I know. Old stereotypes and all. Still, it was a sphincter-clenching moment.

By the way, the hazing appears to have been much more benign than that.


While in Boogie for Christmas I read Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Suffice it to say that if you've read The DaVinci Code, you've basically read this book. Same set up, with an old guy getting killed in a strange fashion and his daughter joining forces with the same protagonist to solve a mystery near and dear to the Catholic Church's heart. It was great for what I wanted, which was a mindless exciting read over the holidays.

By the way, Dan Brown's web page contains a "Bizarre True Facts" section about his books. For The DaVinci Code, one "bizarre true fact" is:

243 Lexington Avenue, New York
The Vatican prelature known as Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic sect that has become controversial recently due to allegations of brainwashing, coercion, and a dangerous practice known as "corporal mortification." Opus Dei has recently completed construction of a $47 million, 133,000-square-foot American Headquarters at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City.

Yeah, Opus Dei is really a big secret. Their web page is cleverly concealed at, where they also state the "bizarre true fact" that Opus Dei has centers in 19 (gasp) American cities. You sometimes get the sense that Dan Brown needs to take a step back and chill. It's as if he forgets that he is writing trashy fiction and starts to believe the crap he made up.


Happy New Year. May the road rise to meet you, and may you look as "young" as Dick Clark until your moment of expiration.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003


Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan has issued its 2003 Banished Words List. While I generally am willing to be a snob when a new "Where's the Beef" sweeps the nation, I have some issues with the words chosen below. See the link for THEIR commentary. See below for mine. Hit "back" for neither.

Selected items from their 2003 list:

MUST-SEE TV: Wasn't this NBC's tag line in like 1999? Do they still even use it? How can this be banished if nobody uses it?
UNTIMELY DEATH: Seems redundant until it happens to you, I guess.
BLACK ICE: This is different from regular ice because (a) it is extraordinarily slippery, and (b) it is almost impossible to see on a road at night. I would have thought Lake Superior State folks would know that, but I do notice MANY Michiganders in the ditches when I drive there in winter. Many more than in the Chi, or even Ill-ini land.
HOMELAND SECURITY: Good luck banning this one. No government since the Iron Curtain speech has found a more useful phrase, and Lake Superior State isn't getting rid of it.
NOW, MORE THAN EVER: Ban it. People use it to make smarmy points to make you feel guilty about not buying a car or toaster since WTC came down.
BRANDING: Ban the practice, not the word.
THERE IS NO SCORE: I agree with the smarty-asses who say that there IS a score, and it is 0-0. However, they are smarty-asses and the fact is that we commonly treat 0-0 as a score only when it is a final. Worse, with some of the terrible sports announcers out there, I think we should ban other words LONG before this one. For instance, anything that Bill Walton says should be banned.
____ IN COLOR: HA! HA! HA! HA! This one IS terrible. "Red in color" as opposed to red in size, weight, or orientation is stoopid. Not only ban this one, but kill people who say it.
UNDISCLOSED, SECRET LOCATION: The brain trust at Lake Superior State claims this is redundant. "Undisclosed" means I have not told you, not that it is a secret. My car is parked in an undisclosed location, but hundreds of people see it. A secret location is one unknown to the public, as opposed to simply untold to you. Right now the president is in an undisclosed location (to me), but it may not be a location that is a secret at all. Idiots.

The really sad thing is that Lake Superior State has all of their banned words in a single list and "upsurge" did not make the list.

The other interesting thing about this list is trying to determine the most hated word. For instance, there are 19 words that have been banned twice (which has its own metaphysical issues, since these bans appear to be forever). For pure longevity, "very unique" (1983, 2002) obviously deserves to be on the list of most hated, with an incredible 19 years between bannings. "Ongoing" (1984, 1986, 1993) was been banned three times in less than a decade, as has "basically" (1984, 1986, 1993). However, the term that makes the best claim for most hated is a combination of "live audience" (1983, 1987, 1990), and "filmed before a live studio audience" (1983, 1987, 1990). They hated it so much they banned it twice.

Finally, if they ever do a list of words and terms that need to be added to English, I nominate the clothing size "extra medium" from the Snoop/Dre epic The Wash. It is one of the only funny things in that movie.


I am from the Chi. That means that when I think of poetry, I think of Carl Sandburg before any other poet. He's like the hometown slugger for poetry. Everybody knows at least part of the beginning of Sandburg's "Chicago:"

HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders . . .

What you probably don't know is that if a computer translated that into French, it could read something like this:

Boucher de PORC pour le monde,
Fabricant d'outil, bac décaleur de blé,
Joueur avec les chemins de fer et le traiteur du fret de la nation ;
Orageux, enroué, se bagarrant,
Ville des grandes épaules . . .

In German it could look something like this:

SCHWEIN Metzger für die Welt,
Werkzeug-Hersteller, Stapler des Weizens,
Spieler mit Eisenbahnen und der Fracht-Zufuhr der Nation;
Stürmisch, heiser, keifend,
Stadt der grossen Schultern . . .

In Spanish, perhaps this:

Carnicero del CERDO para el mundo,
Fabricante de la herramienta, apilador del trigo,
Jugador con los ferrocarriles y el tratante de la carga de la nación;
Tempestuoso, fornido, peleándose,
Ciudad de los hombros grandes . . .

That a computer can render a group of words in one language into another is not news. The Google language tool does this for entire web pages without a (major) problem (usually). People still learn languages, in part, because these translations are often very bad. Thus, a computer translation of a poem is particularly likely to be awful. The shocking thing is that a web page dedicated to Carl Sandburg offers a link to this service. What are they thinking?

In any case, here is a little lesser known Sandburg to put all language debates into context:

THERE are no handles upon a language
Whereby men take hold of it
And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
It is a river, this language,
Once in a thousand years
Breaking a new course
Changing its way to the ocean.
It is mountain effluvia
Moving to valleys
And from nation to nation
Crossing borders and mixing.
Languages die like rivers.
Words wrapped round your tongue today
And broken to shape of thought
Between your teeth and lips speaking
Now and today
Shall be faded hieroglyphics
Ten thousand years from now.
Sing--and singing--remember
Your song dies and changes
And is not here to-morrow
Any more than the wind
Blowing ten thousand years ago.


I read that the three major US burger chains announced that there had been no decrease in burger sales since Tuesday's announcement of a cow with mad cow disease in the United States. It took me a minute to figure out the relation, since I have been assuming for years that there is no actual beef in any of their burgers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Merry Christmas to all. I know that this will be my last post before the holiday, and may be the last before the new year. Thus, get all of your holiday greetings now.


I have been kicking an idea around for a while. It is still in its infancy, but the basic idea is that the Chinese, particularly those in the Diaspora in Asia are very like the Jews in Europe. Today I read a Straights Times (Singapore) article that made me think I might be on to something. First, it is important to know that there are substantial Chinese communities all over Asia. For instance, Singapore is essentially a Chinese city, Malaysia has a strong Chinese population, and the subject of this article, Indonesia, has about 10 million Chinese out of a population of 215 million. The Chinese are generally not Muslims, while most Indonesians are, and are obviously racially distinct from Javanese, and other indigenous Indonesians.

The article talks about the fact that the Chinese are becoming more politically active in Indonesia. It then talks about some of their grievances. First, the Chinese are not granted automatic citizenship, second Confucian weddings are not recognized. Finally, while the Chinese are about 4.5% of the population, they represent less than 2% of parliamentarians. The traditional barriers to Chinese political involvement are stated as a focus on business, rather than politics and avoiding making waves as a minority. Now, I suspect that the real barrier is an extreme lack of democracy in Indonesia for most of the last 50 years. Still, the sort rationale for Chinese disenfranchisement sounds awfully familiar.

The Christian Science Monitor ran an editorial today calling for the status of Puerto Rico to be finally determined. Puerto Rico is currently a Commonwealth of the United States, which is essentially a colony. They are not a state, they are not a separate country. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917, are subject to federal laws, and can be drafted. However, they have only a nonvoting delegate to the US House of Representatives, and cannot vote for president. However, they are not required to pay Federal income tax (no taxation without representation…). How many states would take that deal?


In keeping with my love of odd translation, Merry Christmas in various unlikely languages:

Merii Kurisumasu (Japanese)
Sungtan Chukha (Korean)
Milad Majeed (Lebanese Arabic)
Schéi Krëschtdeeg (Luxemburgish)
Festusu Natale (Monagese)
Craciun fericit si un An Nou fericit! (Moldovan)
Selamat Hari Krimas (Malay)
Happy Christmas (New Zealand)

By the way, I wouldn't go around saying these without double checking. The Dutch includes Happy New Year, and God only knows what some of these other languages are really saying.

Thursday, December 18, 2003


Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas, and is a very strong devotion throughout Latin America. Thus, particularly in Mexican and Central American areas you will see many depictions of her. These include shrines in Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mexico City, as well as hundreds of small parish shrines (including at St Alphonsus).

I was aware of all of this when I went into a small Korean-owned hat shop a few blocks north of our house last weekend. I had seen the place before, but it was always closed. It looked like the kind of place that would have the sort of merchandise I have come to appreciate for its absurdity. For instance, I have a hat with the Seattle Mariners logo, on the front, but the word "Twins" stitched on the rear. My buddy Mope used to have a hat that read "Montana State Grizzlies." Not so funny until you know that Montana is the Grizzlies, while Montana State is the Bobcats. In any case, I walked in. Stacked floor to ceiling were hats of all kinds and belts. Everyone in the place was Korean except me. This looked promising.

I rooted through stacks of blank baseball caps, baseball caps with major league logos, but Japanese written on them, baseball caps with "East Side" on them (I figure those sell particularly badly, since the East Side in Chicago is mostly Lake Michigan), and Mexican League soccer team logos. I found a nice Puebla Camoteros hat that I liked and got ready to leave. Then it hit me. It is a black hat. In the middle is the Virgin of Guadalupe surrounded by roses. On either side of her in Gothic script it reads "Viva La Raza." At her feet on the bill are two 1962 Chevrolet Impalas, one red, one black. It is beautiful, and obviously the reason the Mother of God appeared to Juan Diego. "Juan, one day, I want to be on a hat with a couple of six-deuces rolling at my feet…" By the way, the Friday before I found the hat was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (cue X-files spooky music).


Tuesday George Bush said that Saddam Hussein deserves the death penalty. In light of this, while I am sure that Saddam's eventual trial will have all of the bells and whistles of due process, I am sure glad it will b his court and not mine. That has kangaroo court written all over it. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, but it would still be nice if we could preserve the sentencing debate for AFTER we have a trial.


KPIX in San Francisco reported that an accordion bus swerved out of control in San Francisco and smashed into an adult book store. Now, I understand (oh *I* understand) impulse buying, so I present to the driver a number of tips for controlling impulse buying. Feel free to utilize these when purchasing porn videos or DVDs, marital aids of both the battery and plug in variety, and other goodies at the adult book store.

1. Do I really NEED this?
2. Is this price reasonable?
3. Is this the best time of year to buy?
4. If this is a bargain, is it a current model?
5. If it's on sale, is the price a true sale?
6. Am I sure no less expensive item can be substituted?
7. Am I sure there are no major disadvantages?
8. If excessive in price, will it truly satisfy an inner need?
9. Have I comparison shopped for price and quality?
10. Have I allowed for this item in my spending plan?
11. Do I know the seller's reputation?
12. Does the seller offer any special services with this item?

I think that the answers to 8 and 12 could be of particular value for the bus driver.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Today on NPR they said that American officials expected an "upsurge" of violence in Iraq. When lesser lights like Fox News used this word, I ignored it. When NPR uses it, it concerns me. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition (2000) defines "surge" thus:

INTRANSITIVE VERB: 1. To rise and move in a billowing or swelling manner. 2. To roll or be tossed about on waves, as a boat. 3. To move like advancing waves: The fans surged forward to see the movie star. 4. To increase suddenly: As favorable reviews came out, interest in the software surged. 5. To improve one's performance suddenly, especially in bettering one's standing in a competition. 6. Nautical To slip around a windlass. Used of a rope.
TRANSITIVE VERB: Nautical To loosen or slacken (a cable) gradually.
NOUN: 1. A heavy billowing or swelling motion like that of great waves. 2a. Wave motion with low height and a shorter period than a swell. b. A coastal rise in water level caused by wind. 3. The forward and backward motion of a ship subjected to wave action. 4. A sudden onrush: a surge of joy. 5. A period of intense effort that improves a competitor's standing, as in a race. 6. A sudden, transient increase or oscillation in electric current or voltage. 7. An instability in the power output of an engine. 8. Astronomy A brief, violent disturbance occurring during the eruption of a solar flare. 9. Nautical a. The part of a windlass into which the cable surges. b. A temporary release or slackening of a cable.

I think it is clear from these definitions that "upsurge" is redundant. All surges except the nautical use imply or state an increase (to rise…, to increase suddenly…, a sudden onrush, etc.) Sadly, the same dictionary defines "upsurge" as "to surge up." When I am the defender of the intelligent use of the language, we all have problems.


They say politics make strange bedfellows, but it seems that reality does the same thing. In order, we have the Finnish ambassador to Japan trying to tie the two countries together, black homosexuals seeking help from black churches for their civil rights struggle, and Spaniards from Japan. Sure, I am lacking an article about gay Republicans, but it was a busy week, and these just fall in my lap—I don't seek them out.

In the first event, the Japan Times reported on the statements made by the Finnish ambassador on the occasion of Finland's independence day. Proving that there is not much to talk about when Finland comes up, the ambassador pointed out that it was only nine hours by airplane from Japan to Finland, and that "When you come to Finland, it is nature that welcomes you, whether it is winter or summer, nature is all around you." Glad to know that nature doesn't pack it in for the season in winter.

The Washington Post had an article about the attempts of black gays and transgenders (what the kids used to call trannies) to gain support from black churches for what the gays see as the continuation of the civil rights struggle. Now, I don't suspect that people who don't feel that the civil rights struggle is yet won (i.e. many leaders of black churches) are looking to embrace a cause historically not popular in the black community (gays and trannies). Still, I love the image of a a bunch of six foit black trannies going to the black church from the Blues Brothers to make their case. Priceless!

The Japan Times came through again with an article about the surname "Japon" in Span. Apparently, in the 17th century a delegation of Japanese was sent to Europe to check things out. They went to Seville, and on to Rome. Some of them settled near Seville instead of continuing to travel. Thus, there are approximately 650 people named "Japon" in the area. The excellent thing is that, "a pediatrician said he saw blue spots on many Japon infant buttocks. The so-called Mongolian spot is a feature of every Japanese baby." Wow, they MUST be Japanese! Spots on the ass and everything.


The Moscow Times periodically reports on the status of Kaliningrad. This city was Königsberg in Prussia, but was seized by the Soviets in the aftermath of World War II. It is now an "exclave" from Russia, separated by Poland and Lithuania from Russia. Where a more dynamic society than the Russians might have been able to turn this into a Hong Kong in the Baltic, with free trade driving development, the Russians have just about killed the area. Thus, it is probably good news that the Russians have allowed direct train service from Kaliningrad to Berlin, traveling though Polish Gdynia. As Poland and Lithuania join the European Union, it may be that the Russians are willing to see Kaliningrad integrated into a regional economy that includes its historic ties to the west, rather than its more recent ties to the east. In this, Putin may be creating a Window to the West like Peter the Great did with St Petersburg. We'll see.


I am still reading Constantine's Sword. However, with the holiday season upon us, I felt duty-bound to tell anyone planning to give it is a gift that it is terrible. The historical connections are tenuous, the author is a self-hating whiner (although I hate him too, so I guess I can't blame him for that), and the thesis is WAY overblown. Reading this book, you'd think that Christianity's unfortunate history with Jews was actually a 2000 year conspiracy focused on nothing but hurting Jews. It is just out of all proportion to the historical record. Just terrible.

Monday, December 08, 2003


My earliest coherent memories are from an apartment we had in Albany Park when I was pre-Kindergarten. I have memories from Old Irving, but they are not enough for a narrative. They are more like flashes. Anyway, we lived in an apartment on Drake between Wilson and Lawrence. Today that area is a little rough (although not terrible), and it may have not been that great when we lived there. I'm not actually sure. My universe was too small to really know.

Our building had six units. Three on each side of a stairway. At one point, the north side of the building had a family from India, a family of Jews from eastern Europe, and a family from Greece. The south side had a Yugoslavian family, an Arab/Kentucky mountain folk family, and us. The next door neighbors on one side were Cuban, while on the other it was a white cop and his family. This area remains extremely diverse. Lawrence from Kimball to Pulaski or so is very, very Korean. From Kimball to Kedzie it is pretty Latin, from Kedzie to the river it is Arab, with some Vietnamese and Spanish mixed in. Further west it is extremely Polish. This is the same street we live near now, although our stretch is more Greek and Bosnian.

It was in this milieu that I experienced some of the important events in Chicago in the late seventies and early eighties. For instance, when Star Wars came out, we went to the suburbs to see it. However, I got my Star Wars GLASSES from the Burger King that still stands on Kimball, just south of Lawrence. Similarly, when the snows came in 1979, I experienced them by diving off of the roof of a church into snow drifts, and climbing on top of vans buried in snow. That was the snow that destroyed Mayor Daley's Croatian successor as mayor, Michael Bilandic. The snow didn't get cleared, and he was defeated by a nice Irish girl named Jane Byrne. Interestingly, Bilandic bounced back to become Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, and is the Chief Justice whose signature appears on my law license. Is there another state where the consolation prize for losing the mayor's office is Chief Justice?

Anyway, I believe it had to be 1976 or 1977. I had been a Cub fan for years, although I was only five or six at the time. I am told that I was drawn to the Cubs before anyone realized I was drawn to ANYTHING. Maybe the moth-to-a-flame analogy is apt. In any case, I knew I was a Cub fan, and I knew that the guy who was the precinct captain was a guy who gave people stuff. It is hard to imagine in the post-311 era, but there was a time when all city services and benefits flowed through the precinct captain. Precincts were so small that the captain knew everybody, and knew who played political ball and who did not. Thus, there was a lot of incentive to be what we call "cooperative" in the city. Of course, this also gave the alderman lots of power. Now, the city has the 311 line that doles out the goodies, rendering aldermen largely irrelevant for prime goodies like city services and new garbage cans.

I remember seeing the precinct captain on our street where me and my friends were playing. He started talking to us, and must have asked if we were Cub fans. I don't really remember the genesis of the conversation, but I know the result—he said if it was OK with my mom, I could have two tickets to the Cubs game. I had never been to a game, but I knew I desperately wanted to go. I still can't imagine what it must have been like to have a five-year old ask, "Mom, if I get Cub tickets, can we go?" That must have seemed like the easiest yes in the world. "Yeah, and if you tickets to the moon, we can go there too" must have crossed her mind. And so I got my first Cubs tickets from the (South Side) political machine for which I have been voting ever since…

It was also in Albany Park that I lost my first dog. We had a very sweet Irish Setter named (cleverly enough) Tara. She was a great dog, and my memories of her are all very fond. As much as I dressed her up in T-shirts and tried to put pants on her (which, like hats, she simply was not patient enough to master), tried to ride her, and generally irritated her while she was trying to sleep, I have no recollection of her ever snapping at me. We also had a white Beetle. So, while the car was being worked on, my friend and I pretended we were driving. Obviously we needed a passenger, and the dog was a prime candidate. We put her in the back seat and proceeded to pretend to drive anywhere and everywhere our four year-old minds could think of. Our passenger apparently dozed off while we did all the driving. That is the only reason I can imagine for why she did not get out of the car when we did. I assume she continued to doze while we locked the garage, my friend went home, and I went inside. I have no idea why I did not remember where she was when asked, point blank, where the dog was. In fact, I did not remember as we walked the neighborhood calling her name, or while I was getting yelled at for losing the dog. I did not even remember when the next morning my dad went to go to work—and found the dog in the car. It wasn't very funny at the time.

As a postscript to losing the dog, I note that one of us got the other back. I don't remember if it was before I "lost" her (in which case I got the revenge) or after (in which case she got the revenge), but there was an incident. We had fried chicken, and for whatever reason I was allowed to eat it in the front room. I was equipped with a board that went from arm to arm on a chair on which my plate sat. I went to get something (I don't remember what) and left my plate on the board. I covered the chicken with a napkins to protect against dog attacks. When I returned, the napkins was exactly as I had left it. However, underneath the chicken AND the dog were gone. Either I locked her up in revenge, or she ate my chicken in revenge. I'll never know which.


I have always wondered why in turnpike states they did not just hand me a speeding ticket when I arrived at the collection gate too quickly from the ticket gate. It is an easy calculation, and even charging me at my average speed would be more than not charging me at all. I have been told, when asked, that they "just don't do that." Now we have a species of that in Illinois. People can get automatic transponders that automatically deduct the toll from an account when your car passes through the toll both. Obviously they can tell the time, and if you pass through two toll booths, they could calculate your average speed between the booths. However, the Tribune Getting Around column indicates that they will not issue speeding tickets because, "tollway executive director Jack Hartman has said on the record that the data . . . would never be used for speeding enforcement." Oh, OK then.


Whew. Since the publication of The De Vinci Code, we Catholics have been the object of a lot of conspiracy theories. In fact, it was even seeming that we might replace the Masons, the CIA, and Jews as the controllers of the universe in paranoid land. Thankfully the Washington Post has an article about The Fellowship. They are a loose group of religious people that started as a prayer group in Seattle in the 1930's. Now they have exclusive unofficial headquarters outside of Washington and "seem to have its hand in every branch of government." Said the Post "There's something about this whole thing that gives me unease," said Jim Pebley, past president of the Arlington County Civic Federation. "Limos and national heavies running in and out of there at all times of the day and night. You have to wonder, what the heck is going on?"

We know what is going on. Global domination!


The Seattle Post- Intelligencer reports that a New Hampshire transsexual will be housed at a women's prison in Washington state. Apparently New Hampshire has a men's prison area for transsexuals, but that this prisoner had already been moved. In any case, the shocking thing here is that the prisoner had sex-reassignment surgery in CASABLANCA in 1969. Now THAT is a man who needed to be a woman. I'm not sure I'd get a check-up in Casablanca and this person got sex re-assignment surgery. High roller.


From today's Chicago Tribune, "teeth are the new breasts, with everyone assessing a perfect set, and wondering, 'Are they real?'"

From last night's Simpson's when Krusty finds out he's not really Jewish, "I thought I was a self-hating Jew, but it turns out I'm just an anti-Semite."

Friday, December 05, 2003


The Chicago Tribune ran a very short piece indicating that a coyote had been captured near Navy Pier. Now, I suspect that this is the same coyote that used to lurk at the water filtration plant just north of Navy Pier. This is basically in downtown Chicago. They say that the coyote hid among the rocks on the lakefront after they shot it with a tranquilizer. How did it get there? Does it have a mate? Inquiring minds NEED to know. On the other hand, I bet it was pretty good rat control.


Last night was a cold, rainy night in Chicago. It was about 32 degrees, with a spitting, crappy rain that defied efforts to avoid it. It was also pretty windy. Just a crappy night. Naturally, this is the night that L and I went to buy a Christmas tree. We got on to the lot, and surprise, surprise we were the only shoppers! I guess everyone else decided they had 20 more days to buy a tree, so there was no reason to go out on a miserable night.

In any case, we were four blocks, or so, from home, and the original plan was that I would just walk the tree home. Evergreens are really very light, so this was not going to be a problem. Standing outside picking a tree in my new coat (see below), I realized that I was not going to walk home with a tree in the rain. It was time for THE WHITE TRASH MOVE!

Now, I have white trashed things before. I like to use that term because it really makes L crazy. In any case, for those of you who are white trash, and don't realize this is non-standard behavior, white trashing in this context is sticking something in the truck of your car with securing it in any way and driving around with it like that. I once took a chair to my cousin's place like that. It was beautiful because the chair did NOT fit in the trunk, so over half of it was hanging out and it was not secured at ALL. Still, people tailgated my all the way up Addison. In any case, this time we had a Christmas tree perched precariously in the trunk. We were also on Western Avenue, which is three lanes in each direction there, and facing north, while we live south. I did the obvious thing. I made a 6 lane u-turn (which might actually be legal. I'd have to check) and headed towards home at a very reasonable rate of speed. When we got a block from the house, a guy road so close to me that I couldn't see his headlights in my side mirror (the rear view has obscured by the trunk door and the tree). Sadly, the tree did not flip off the back of the car, pivot and skewer him through the eye. Maybe next time.


As mentioned above, L and I were in Boogie for Thanksgiving. When we left there were snow flurries and cold in the Chi. When we arrived, it was 55 and sunny. When we left, I was wearing my winter jacket. When we arrived, I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt. Being the tidy person I am, I put my jacket in the coat closet in Boogie. As L tells me, this is much better than draping it over the furniture. My jacket still sits in that coat closet. I may leave it there as a testament to the dangers of tidiness. Still, I thought I would just get it at Christmas. I could make it through December without a heavy, informal winter coat (as opposed to the wool overcoat from my former life as a suit wearer).

HA! I am the proud owner of an olive green barn jacket that is much warmer than the jacket in Boogie, and has more storage space to boot. Also, as I discovered last night, it is water repellant.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

L and I had a very nice Thanksgiving week. We went to a very secluded cabin in southern Illinois for three days, then over to her parents' house outside of Boogie for the holiday. We even returned Sunday early enough to catch the Simpson's and unpack. Life is good. While we were at the cabin, we had the experience of driving down a one and a half lane road and having deer stand and eat on both sides of the road while we sat and looked at them. It was pretty cool.


The Boston Globe ran a very good piece about the flip side of the Supreme Judicial Court's gay marriage decision. Namely, the application of divorce law to gay couples. The article makes it sound like it will be a real benefit. It will be, but only for the person in the relationship who has less financially. For instance, now if a couple has disparate financial resources and they split up, the poor one is on his own. If they are married and get divorced, the rich one will be paying support. Now THAT'S equal protection under the law.


The Financial Times, which is barred from links because of their ignorant links policy, had an interesting article on the Budweiser controversy in Europe. As the learned among you must know, there is a brewery in the Czech Republic in the city of Česke Budejovice. It sells a beer in America called Czechvar. It is a quite delicious beer. What fewer of you may know is that Česke Budejovice in German is Budweis, and when Budweis was part of the Hapsburg Empire, beer in the Budweis style was called . . . Budweiser. This is parallel to the Czech city of Plzen, which in German is Pilsen, and beers in the style of Pilsen are called . . . Pilsners. Pilsner Urquell is the most famous exemplar from Plzen. I have read that just as Pilsner is a generic name for a beer style, Budweiser was a generic name for a style of beer before the Anheuser-Busch product monopolized the name.

In any case, the Czech brewery wants to use the name Budweiser for its beers, while Anheuser-Busch claims that such use would violate its rights. Thus, in Ireland a "Budweiser" is a beechwood-aged beer from Anheuser-Busch. In Germany it is a delicious beer from the Czech Republic. In England, you could get either. It all depends on the company that holds the trademark in the individual country. The Czechs are claiming that because Budweiser is a geographic indicator (like Parma ham, or Champagne), only beers brewed in Budweis should be allowed to use the name. On the other hand, geographic indicators are pretty unpopular in international trade circles, and Anheuser-Busch is an enormous company. Also, the Czech government owns the brewery in Česke Budejovice, and Anheuser-Busch keeps offering to buy it and produce the Czech beer there. Obviously that Czech beer would get a new name if that were to happen. It will be interesting to see what happens. In the US the issue is settled, but worldwide it is still in play.

By the way, the headline for this little piece is the punchline to this joke, courtesy of German cousin Paul Joswig: How is American beer like sex in a canoe?


The Chicago Sun-Times ran an article yesterday by a woman with Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome. This syndrome causes her to have, if she is not careful, 800 "orgasms" a day. I put orgasms in quotes, because it sounds almost more like a sort of cramp that mimics an orgasm that an actual orgasm. In any case, it sounds like a pretty miserable condition and I was feeling bad for the woman. Then I read further. The high points were:
• her male gynecologist told her she was "every man's fantasy" because she had what amounted to a debilitating condition. I am always a little mistrustful of women with male gynecologists. Could be L's influence, but what does a guy know about what you are experiencing?
• She could never get a diagnosis, but she was reading PEOPLE MAGAZINE and they described the condition. People f—ing magazine? Maybe she read it waiting to see Mr. Ob-Gyn.
• She attributes the onset of the syndrome to the stress of being bullied at work and thus having panic attacks. Oh boy. Now I am thinking this is Jean Teasdale from The Onion.
• Finally, she says the condition started in August 1995. She says her marriage ended in 1995 because of the stress. Hmmm. That was quick. Now I know she is Jean Teasdale.
So, the moral of this story? Unfortunate condition, crappy person to have tell the story. However, she did remind of Jean Teasdale, and that always cracks me up.


There are no links for this. However, in the past month, I have heard Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, a politician in St Louis, and Senator John McCain all talk about other people spending money "like a drunken sailor." I have gone 32 years hearing that phrase about twice a year. Suddenly it comes up three times in a month. These people need to hire a wider array of thinkers and speech writers so that we don't have this sort of tiresome repetition. How about "spending money like a pimp with the Superbowl in town" or "spending money like Rush's pill supplier," or something else original and funny.