Friday, July 31, 2009

BANKS PAY OUT BILLIONS IN BONUSES TO EXECUTIVES

(Tom writing) I'm sad today. Sad on so many fronts, but I'll attempt to be succinct. On the train ride in to work this morning, I read on the front page of the Washington Post Express that Citigroup paid out to its executives over $5.33 billion in bonuses - this action was carried out despite the bank being paid billions of dollars in taxpayer money to get out of trouble which their top paid executives got the bank into in the first place. But the report, commissioned by President Obama soon after assuming office and written by Mario Cuomo's son, Andrew Cuomo, also lists more banks involved in this pay out of bonuses using taxpayer money: Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs - in total paying out over 4,800 million-dollar-bonuses to their executives. I, for one, no longer believe that paying these outrageous sums to these idiots is the only way to retain "the best and the brightest" when these are the dumbheads that directly contributed to the mess we're in. Am I the only one getting angry over this?
On another front, I'm saddened that we are now learning more about our President's inner circle of "friends" - first it was the firebrand Rev. Jeremiah Wright, now it's a hothead Professor Gates. Professor Gates absolutely and categorically acted badly and did the wrong thing. Rather than calmly and professionally (like a well educated and highly respected Harvard professor should do) politely thank the officer for responding to a potential "emergency" at his home and hand over his I.D., he became belligerent and disrespectful of the officer's badge and immediately played the race card. The President should have had no comment and the whole matter would have gone away and Professor Gates would have faded off into obscurity without the rest of the country ever even knowing his name. But the President admitted to knowing Professor Gates, said that the police "acted stupidly," and now the President has a public relations nightmare to address distracting him from dealing with the mess outlined in the first paragraph above. And Professor Gates has gotten his 15 minutes of fame. He can go away now. Just like Rev. Wright.
OK, I'll get to my point. I'm saddened today because as I read the article describe in paragraph one above, I realized that the innocence of the country that I love and where I grew up is gone. I think it has finally dawned on me this morning that we (a collective "we" as a country) cannot any longer believe that our politicians and leaders will do the right thing. I firmly believe that corruption is endemic and has pervaded every corner of our Government and financial institutions - and no one knows how to clean it up. Our leaders are completely devoid of any conscience, ethics, or morals. The lust for money has pervaded every fiber of their being. Remember the day when at the first whiff of impropriety a politician would step down? Not any more. Now, a politician holds a press conference, sheds a tear or two, has his wife stand behind him at the podium, claims he has found Jesus, and he continues to stay in office. What's that all about?
Rob and I have these discussions all the time and I continually ask, "What will it take to wake people up?" What will it take to shake America out of its sleepy existence? I certainly don't have the answer and it's frustrating. Rob says to write to your Congressmen. Well, the two Congressmen from Maryland - Hon. Steny Hoyer (from the 5th district) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski - have been in office since I was in grade school and their ability to be instruments of change has long since passed. Rob says to stop banking at the institutions listed above. I guess that is one potential solution. I understand that our country goes through cycles of ups and downs - we just happen to be in a really serious "down" swing at the moment. I, for one, hope that we will find leaders that will stand up and do the right thing. And do it soon.

(PHOTO INSERT FROM ROB: I think this is a picture of a deceased banker from those institutions Tom mentioned. Note where his head is located in this skeleton.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Help a Weimararer Walk Again - Donations Accepted


Sydney Has Opportunity To Go To The Rehab Center At The University of Tennessee.
Sydney is a Weimaraner at the Wolf Creek Weimaraner Rescue in Tennessee (Where we adopted Dolly from) who came to the rescue in February 2008 due to complications from a surgery to remove a blood clot in her spinal cord. This paralyzed Sydney leaving her helpless to use her rear legs. With lots of work from Dr. Marti Drum and her staff at UT Vet Hospital and Amber, Laura and the staff at Wolf Creek. Sydney began her long journey to recovery and currently lives with Amber and Laura full time and goes to work with Amber daily. There she can swim most
days and work out. She is showing improvement and hopefully just on the verge
of being able to walk again. The time is also near to find Sydney a more permanent home if possible. This may take a while, but we are hoping that we have great success with the opportunity at UT. Sydney will be getting extensive therapy and rehab. but the cost is $2500!
I've made a donation, and urge any readers to help out - Make a Donation in memory of someone you know- Dog or Person. Go to: http://www.wcweimrescue.org/

Dogs and Heat Danger

(Dog Suffering from heatstroke in Brooklyn, NY, Summer 2008 being cooled with ice packs before being taken to a vet)
Every spring and summer, we always see some DUMB dog owner that left their dog in the car with the window cracked open. Last summer I heard a small poodle yelping in an SUV parked outside a Marshalls store. I went in and had customer service page the owner. A woman walked up and said "what's wrong with my dog?" I told her that with 92F temperatures and being parked in the sun, her SUV was heating inside to 120F in 10 minutes, and her dog was suffering from heat stroke. She shot me a dirty look and stormed out in a huff, leaving her clothes shopping on a table. People standing behind me in the customer service line thanked me.
FACT: Takes less than 30 minutes to injure or Kill a dog from heatstroke in a vehicle when temperatures outside are 75F or higher.
FACT: Cracking a window does NOTHING for air temperature
FACT: Dogs pant because they lack sweat glands. You're sticky, they're hurting.
FACT: Opening a window or leaving a bowl of water makes little difference.
FACT: SYMPTOMS OF HEAT STROKE: Excessive panting, a rapid pulse, overly red or purple gums, increased salivation and lack of coordination are warnings signs of heat stroke, according to the SPCA. More severe signs of heat stroke include a dog's reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing or a pet suffering from seizures, vomiting or diarrhea.
FACT: Walks along hot pavement, attending outdoor events and sitting inside automobiles - even with windows open - can quickly lead to deadly heat stroke.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND HOW TO COOL DOGS DOWN:
http://www.vanerp.net/ilse/GSDINFO/Heat%20Exhaustion.htm

A 36 Hour Flu hits the house

Tom came home Tuesday night not feeling well. In fact, he had a fever of 100.9F, headaches, bodyaches and after picking at dinner he went to bed at 6:30pm. He awoke at 8:30pm for five minutes and went back to sleep through the night. Yesterday, Wednesday, we awoke at 4:30am as usual and his fever was still burning at 100F, still with the headaches and bodyaches, so he smartly stayed home. He took ibuprofen and rested all day. When I came home, I made dinner and rubbed him down with rubbing alcohol which cooled him down. I gave him something to sleep and he slept through the night, waking up today feeling well with no fever and an appetite again, so he went to work. That was 36 tough hours - not sure what it was, just glad he's well (and hoping I don't get it now!).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another GOP Senator Is Unfaithful

This article appears in the Tennessean Newspaper today, July 29th. This is another "conservative, Christian" GOP politician who has committed adultery - I know that both GOP and democrats have been unfaithful, however, it seems the conservative GOP "Christians" are doing a lot more of it- Like the NV Senator, SC Governor... What Irks me is that these are the people that PREACH "marriage" being sacred between a man and woman. This idiot also even states in the article below that he stands against sex outside of marriage and single people adopting. Who in the heck are these people to tell US how to live when they can't abide by the rules? Thinking about it a different way, maybe he meant "Once you get married, then it's okay to have sex with others" - that worked for him!
Here's a photo of him - and I say this as a gay man- He is NOT all that.

Tennessee state senator Stanley resigns, admits affair
By Chas Sisk • THE TENNESSEAN • July 29, 2009
State GOP Sen. Paul Stanley resigned from the legislature Tuesday, telling a Memphis radio station that he stood by his socially conservative record despite the sex-and-extortion scandal that forced him from office. Stanley, a Republican from the Memphis suburb of Germantown, will leave office effective Aug. 10. The announcement comes more than a week after a court hearing in Nashville named Stanley as the victim in an reported extortion plot that centered on nude photos of McKensie Morrison, a 22-year-old Austin Peay student who interned in his office.
Stanley acknowledged in an interview with WREC radio host Ben Ferguson that he had an affair. He also defended statements he had made condemning sex outside of marriage and a legislative record that included backing a ban on adoptions by unmarried couples. "Whatever I stood for and advocated I still believe to be true," Stanley said. "Just because I fell short of God's standard ... doesn't mean that God's standard is reduced."

Finished Good Book: The SHADOW #13: Green Eyes

This classic series about The mysterious superhero of the 1930s was written in the 1930s by Maxwell Grant (also known as Walter Gibson). Reading these really gives you a feel for the way society and technology was in the 1930s.
In this story: The Shadow is in San Francisco, on the trail of the mystery of the Chinese cult leader "Green Eyes." A government agent is investigating, and The Shadow is shadowing him, rescuing him several times. The gov't agent poses as a Chinese cultist and the Shadow is always around but never obvious. The story is told from the government agent's perspective so the reader never knows what the Shadow is thinking... but, "The Shadow knows!" (Couldn't help myself with that). Although it's out of print, used copies are available on Amazon. Read it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mary Ann Visits- Day #2 and 3

After a walk around Baltimore's Inner Harbor in the 91F heat, we headed up to a unique place for dinner. The Paper Moon Diner in Baltimore. The place is painted funky colors on the outside, and has a toilet and sink outside that are used as planters. It's a wacky, fun place.

(PHOTO: Inside the diner, there are countless toys glued to the ceiling and the wall. You could spend hours looking at them. The menus are actually fastened between covers of old children's book covers, too).

(PHOTO: The Paper Moon Diner also has a large PEZ collection, so Mary Ann posed for a photo next to it, but it's next to a window, so the light wasn't right for a photo)

DAY#3: ANNAPOLIS!
On Sunday, July 27, we drove to Annapolis and met our friends Mike B. and Amy (his girlfriend) for Breakfast. Mike is the friend who married us in Connecticut, and he and Amy were in Annapolis for his sister's wedding. So, we met at the restaurant his Dad owns called "Eggcellence" a WONDERFUL Brunchery in Annapolis. We met Mike's dad and also enjoyed his mom's company at breakfast. http://www.eggcellencebrunchery.com/
PHOTO: Mike and Amy

PHOTO: After breakfast Tom and I took MaryAnn to old Annapolis for a quick tour of the State House and shops. Here's Mary Ann in the lobby of the State House next to a giant model ship that sits there.

PHOTO: Of course, we had to take a goofy photo of Tom, MaryAnn and Rob (me) in the State House, with a statue of George Washington in the background. In fact, we were in the very room where Washington had resigned his commission.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mary Ann Visits -Day #2

These are more photos from our free tour of the Australian Naval Ship. While in line we talked with a really nice sailor who told us that he's 43 (he looked 60), and he quit working in offices at 30 because he wanted to see the world and was bored by business. He said that he's been all over the world, and that the ship came from NYC, next to Norfolk, VA, then through the Panama Canal to San Diego, CA, then Hawaii, Japan and back to Australia. Australians are incredibly friendly folk.

(PHOTO: I got Tom and I these matching Dog T-shirts for our Weimaraner and Dachshund. I thought they were cute. Although the tee-shirt says "let the dog in, let the dog out..." It should say "walk the dog, walk the dog..."

(PHOTO: Jeff gets assistance from an Australian Naval Officer coming up steep stairs on the ship. This is Jeff's dream to be man-handled by a Navy man!)

(PHOTO: Here's the gang inside the ship- Rob is taking the photo)

(PHOTO: Here's a self picture of Tom and Rob- Rob took this in a hallway on the ship).

(PHOTO: Baltimore's Beautiful Inner Harbor as seen from the deck of the Australian Navy Ship)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mary Ann Visits from New England - Day #1 and some of Day #2

Our friend Mary Ann in Massachusetts needed a getaway weekend, she works two jobs, has two grown sons, and 2 grandchildren and never seems to get a break- so we made her take one and come visit us this weekend.
We picked her up from BWI Airport on Friday night, and it was a warm evening, but not terribly uncomfortable. After a nice dinner at Bob Evans, we came back home and Mary Ann and Rob took the dogs, Dolly and Franklin for a nice neighborhood walk. To wind down, Tom and Mary Ann sat on our front porch (later joined by Rob and the dogs) to watch the thunderstorms build up from the west and move in. (PHOTO: Tom and Mary Ann enjoying the front porch)

The next morning, Saturday, Tom and I (Rob) were up early with the dogs, and we wanted to let Mary Ann try and sleep. So we fed the dogs and took them out after 6am. Then Tom watered the garden. Here's a picture of Franklin (the dachshund) inside, looking at Dolly (on the patio) with Tom watering the garden in the far background.I liked this shot.
Later on Saturday, we were joined by friends Jeff and Gary and all drove to Baltimore to visit the Australian Navy ship that docked there. We learned about it through our friends Craig and Jim, who were also there, but we missed them.










(PHOTO: Tom found a funky sculpture in Baltimore City that he liked)









(PHOTO RtoL: Tom, Gary, Jeff and MaryAnn in front of the Australian Navy Ship at the Inner Harbor, Baltimore)








(PHOTO: MaryAnn joins Rob and Tom for our typical goofy closeup, near the Navy Ship).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Test Your Comic Book Knowledge


My friend Alan sent me this quiz from MSN - to test comic book knowledge.
http://zone.msn.com/en/celebtrivia/comicbook_default.htm?gt1=29000
I went all three rounds and missed one question: Who was the first comic book to be advertised on TV? hint: it's not Batman. My score was 45.560. Can you do better?
GOOGLE OFFERS NEW SCREEN COMIC BOOK THEMES - If you use Google a lot, like I do, they now have different "skins" with comic characters on them. From Superman to "Pearls Before Swine" and others. Of course, I picked Superman. Go to www.google.com and look for "Themes."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Bad Dental Week - finally... Relief!

You've already read about my emergency root canal earlier in the week. Well just when I thought things were better...last night, after the novacaine wore off, I got a stabbing, searing pain in the left side of my head! I knew that this was not due to the root canal procedure. In fact, the pain from the root canal had subsided. I knew what this was and I dreaded it. It was a molar.
Months ago, I had to have a large filling replaced in a back molar. Since it was replaced, the sensitivity in the tooth has increased to the point where I just didn't chew on it. I knew it needed a root canal, but I had the other tooth in the front to worry about since that one was actually hurting. Apparently, the drilling from the root canal earlier this week into the front tooth 4 positions over on the same side (and on the bottom) pegged the sensitivity meter to 10! The headache was SEARING. I took 2 Percocets last night and still felt it. I applied a cold compact, I took Motrin, I paced and paced the floor all night. I finally called Maryland Oral Surgery Associates http://www.mosa4os.com/, a local dental surgeon, at 5:30am (emergency line), and talked with a great doctor. He said, "Yes, the tooth needs to come out," and yes, that can happen. I called back at 8am and got a 9:30am appointment.
Fortunately, my mother-in-law (I like saying that!), Ruth, was home and agreed to drive me. She stayed with me during the procedure, took me to the pharmacy, and brought me home. I truly have the greatest in-laws. Her husband,Bob, reminds me of my dad who passed one year ago next week.
The folks at Maryland Oral Surgery were great. (They have locations in Crofton, Silver Spring, Greenbelt, Laurel, and College Park). I took the nitrous oxide and just felt tingling and felt the pressure when the tooth was removed. When I was under, I sensed that Ed, Tom's late partner, was there with me - I saw his face in the haze in my eyes. It was a comfort to me. Later that night, before I told Tom about Ed's appearance, Tom mentioned to me that we should call Ed's dad, Tom, because Tom is a pharmacist - to check out what I was prescribed. There is no such thing as a coincidence.
Anyway, it's 10 hours later and I slept most of the day, ate oatmeal, and drank water.
When the tooth was removed, there were three immediate benefits: 1) the headache vanished 2) The old root canal (dead tooth) stopped hurting and 3) the swollen glands in my throat started going down.
As for why I didn't get a root canal in it? With TMJ, keeping my mouth open for a molar root canal would hurt as much as the procedure on the tooth. Besides, my dentist was on vacation today. :) It will be nice to sleep tonight without the pain.

Virtually Painless Root Canals

They're a rarity - Virtually painless root canals. However, not with my dentist! Dr. Cheryl Hunn in Greenbelt, Md. is the GREATEST dentist.
Before I found her, I was afraid to go to the dentist. I've been going to her for years, and when I go in- we share laughs and stories during my appointments.
As I mentioned yesterday, I had severe headaches from a small front tooth. The tooth had old amalgam fillings in it, and as they age, the shift and the tooth appears to have fractured. So, the answer was what I expected- A Root Canal. Before Dr. Hunn, those words would send me in a panic.
The only pain I experience is the gentle jab of the needle with novaciane. She makes sure that you're "comfortably numb" and proceeds. In fact, some of the novacaine was cherry flavored which made it even better! :)
Because she has the high-tech tooth imaging (no more x-ray films), she can immediately see the insides of teeth. She also double-checks to make sure she got the entire root out. Yes, if you're squeamish this is something you don't want to think about - but when I felt a twinge while she was working to get the root out, she put in more novacaine on the root directly then took it out no problem. She also asked that I call at the end of the day and tell her how I'm doing. WOW.
I told the receptionist that Dr. Cheryl needs a superhero outfit. She's certainly a hero in my book.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kohl's Cares for Customers, too!

One of our favorite blogs is "Consumer Wingman" and the blogger has the BEST consumer news there. She recently cited our story of great customer service at Adirondackchairs.com, and reminded me of another great experience.
Here it is: Tom and I had a great customer service experience recently at the Kohl's store in Glen Burnie, Md. (Quarterfield Road). We drove up there in search of a stuffed duck toy that they sold as part of their "Kohls Cares for Kids" promotion in June. Our dog, a weimaraner, loved the duck, and it's wearing out (Weims have an inbred hunting/retrieving instinct). The toy was $5 and dog-safe (no sand or foam inside). I asked a young lady working there about the stuffed duck toy, and she remembered them and said the promotion ended July 1. But, she took me to the toy dept. where any extras are placed (there were none there either). She checked the back stock room, she walked me to the front of the store from the back and checked 3 other locations. We didn't find one - they were truly sold out, and even SHE was disappointed we couldn't find one for our dog. I would drive out of my way to go back to that Kohl's store again. THAT is great customer service!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tooth Pain!


Having a tooth-induced headache is a miserable and painful feeling- and that's what I developed on Monday in a small bottom tooth (that has a filling in it). By Tuesday, the pain was like a knife stabbing me in the left side of the head and acetaminophen did not make a dent in it. So...tomorrow is an emergency root canal. Thaaaat's great.

Why Spelling is SO Important

As someone who makes his living writing (among other things), I've always tried to be the best speller I could be. If you don't have a way to look something up, use a word you CAN spell. Don't guess. Spelling AND grammar make BIG impressions on people. In both Tom's and my office, we receive emails from people in management positions (yes, managers or those in training) that have a poor grasp of grammar and spelling. We send each other these emails all the time. They should know that Microsoft Word AND even some emails have a Spelling AND Grammar check, and need to use it.

LOCALLY: There's a hair salon that spells its name "Ilussions" (instead of Illusions); and a CHURCH named "Church of Preceptual Praise" (instead of Perpetual). It also makes us wonder if people that work at sign companies ever question their clients. Anyway, you'll laugh at the examples the following story from Reuters gives:
Single spelling mistake can derail job application Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:21am EDT
TORONTO (Reuters) - Typing mistakes in a job application can kill a would-be employee's chance of landing a job as employers bet that a sloppy resume means the applicant will do a sloppy job. A telephone survey of 100 senior Canadian executives showed that more than a fifth of executives said a single typo on a resume or cover letter could cost a potential employee a job, while 28 percent said two mistakes would kill their chances. Common mistakes include: "Dear Sir or Madman", "I'm attacking my resume for you to review", "Following is a grief overview of my skills" and "Have a keen eye for derail.

Monday, July 20, 2009

FINALLY - A COMPANY THAT "GETS IT"

We wouldn't want regular readers of the blog to think that we are ALWAYS critical of everything and that we are ALWAYS being wronged by someone or some business somewhere. I'd like to put that opinion to rest right here and now.
Recently I purchased a pair of Adirondack chairs for the backyard. An online search produced a company called Adirondackchairs.com. I placed the order, paid by credit card, and within a few short days two large boxes arrived on our front porch.
I hastily opened the boxes and followed the easy-to-follow assembly instructions - no words, just pictures. Each chair took approximately 45 minutes to assemble with some simple tools - a screw driver and crescent wrench.
We enjoyed the chairs for about two weekends when one afternoon, while moving the chairs back to where I like them (the lawn mowing crew had moved them to mow the grass), I happened to notice that the arm of one of the chairs had developed a crack right along the grain in the wood which will only be perpetuated with exposure to the weather.
The next day I sent an email to the customer service department. I explained the problem and I emphasized that we loved the chairs and don't want to return them. I just wanted to order a replacement part for the arm that was splitting. Within a day, I received a response. Without hesitation and without dickering around and giving me a hard time, the company refunded the purchase price for the one chair in addition to sending a sincere apology for the inconvenience. I sat in front of my computer screen with my mouth wide open.
America doesn't produce a thing - it manufactures nothing, so customer service is the last source of employment that America has and it stinks at it. I mean, really stinks at it. So imagine my surprise to find a company that finally "gets it."
So, if you're in the market for an Adirondack chair - check out this company. Of course it sells a wide variety of other back yard furniture and supplies and I will definitely shop with them again. Visit them at http:\\www.Adirondackchairs.com.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekend Stuff

(PHOTO: Franklin the Dachshund and Dolly the Weimaraner in their favorite pose for the camera- LOOKING away from each other).
(PHOTO: Franklin and Dolly being more camera-friendly in our backyard)
This has been a nice weekend so far, and it's only Sunday morning. High temperatures in the low 80s with low humidity (it should be near 88F normally) and night-times lows in the low 60s make for great days. The sky is a beautiful blue, too - we noticed it walking the dogs this weekend. (When was the last time you looked up?).
It has finally been a weekend of catching up with some friends we haven't seen in ages - although there are always more to see. We saw Tad and Rich for a nice dinner; went comic book and tree shopping with Robert and Tom (another couple, same names- however, that Tom likes comic books like me, and that Robert likes plants like my Tom); met our friend Les for a nice light dinner (coffee and bagels); took lots of dog walks, and today we'll cook and eat under the screened in patio. Here are some pictures from this weekend.
(PHOTO: Goofy us in the backyard after lugging in 7 bags of mulch from our pickup truck)
(PHOTO: Tom watering the newly planted Crimson Crape Myrtle tree we bought from Homestead Gardens in Maryland during their Crape Myrtle Festival Sale)

Friday, July 17, 2009

IRON MAN 2 Movie Interview


The second Ironman movie is being made, and they're introducing another Marvel Comics superhero in it: the "Black Widow." She's been around for 30 years, but in my opinion is still a minor character (modeled after DC Comics' "Black Canary" from the 1940s). Here's an excerpt from the Entertainment Weekly interview:
When Marvel Studios first announced the sequel, no one was sure what the movie would be about. Downey, director Jon Favreau, screenwriter Justin Theroux, and the rest of the creative team struck upon the idea of introducing two very different foes for Stark. On one side is Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a fast-talking weapons manufacturer who fancies himself the next Tony Stark; on the other, Vanko (played by Micky Rourke - pictured right on this cover), who, while incarcerated in a Russian prison, creates his own battle-suit, which shoots devastating, whip-like beams. Hammer and Whiplash join forces to take down Downey’s character, Tony Stark. Rourke, for his part, wanted to instill some lightness into the role of the heavy. "I told Favreau, 'I don't want to just play him as a one-dimensional p----,'" he says. "He let me have a cockatoo, who I talk to and get drunk with while I’m making my suit."
Adding more flesh and blood to the new movie, Scarlett Johansson joined the cast as Stark’s mysterious new assistant, Natasha, who has an alter ego of her own, Black Widow. That introduction inevitably sparks romantic tension between Stark and former assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who’s been promoted to CEO of Stark Industries. "The men want it to be, like, 'Ooh, the girls are fighting over Tony,' but it's not as standard as that," says Paltrow. "There's a weird male catfight fantasy. Downey agrees.

'Tales from the Crypt' Comic Book Features Palin


Here's a strange comic book that I wouldn't buy... but I guess they're parodying Palin because of her call to ban books in Alaska. Last year Obama and McCain were depicted heroically in their own comics. This year its the ex-Alaskan governor. Personally, I think it works- it would be a horror story! :) Ooooooh...
Sarah Palin is horror-fied in 'Tales from the Crypt'
11:36 AM PT, Oct 18 2008
"Tales from the Crypt" is about to take a whack at the nation's most famous hockey mom.
The next issue of the horror comic book has Sarah Palin, GOP vice presidential candidate, depicted on its cover swinging a hockey stick and rousting the ghoulish "Crypt" characters made famous in the book's gory glory days back in the 1950s.
"Didn't we get rid of you guys in the 50's?" the Alaska governor asks with a sneer as she scatters the Vault-Keeper and his creepy mates from a stone castle doorway. The poltician is wearing a campaign button that reads "Palin-McCain" -- as well as a red top with a plunging neckline.
The cover is a reference to two instances of content debate, one that played out on a national stage and the other a seemingly minor moment in Alaska that has been made major by the current political season.
"Tales from the Crypt " became one of the signature names in horror and American pop culture after five years of memorable mayhem that ended in 1955. That was after months of intense pressure and new industry regulations targeting the lurid comics, spurred by televised Senate subcommittee hearings on juvenile delinquency and its causes.
Palin, meanwhile, has taken heat for some overtures she made in 1996 while as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Criticized after reports that she sought to ban books from a local public library, the GOP candidate has said that on two occasions she asked "a rhetorical question" about removing objectionable books from shelves, but that she never pursued it or mentioned specific titles.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Aging Parents

Aging parents are a concern for many people, now including me (and my brothers). Since my dad died almost one year ago (Aug. 2nd) my mother's emotional state has really deteriorated. She's afraid to go out for the most part, can't seem to get the hang of starting her car very well, and seems bitter about everything and everyone. What's interesting is she is physically well for 82, and mows her lawn, cooks, cleans, walks a mile a day, etc. However, it's difficult to even talk with her 10 minutes long distance without her going off on something and she gets very angry and hangs up.
My younger brother and his family live in the same town, so he unfortunately bears the brunt of her nasty behavior. This is not the mother I grew up with. She's now in her early 80s, and we know that there are memory issues, and there's an increase in the hostility level when talking with her about anything. She seems paranoid, and is derogatory to those trying to help her. The trick is getting her to admit it - which she doesn't - or trying to get her help. We're exploring options and it's going to be a hard road, whichever one we choose. I just miss the mother I grew up with.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Personal Tragedy: Friendship vs. Religion on Marriage

Recently, a couple whom we have come to include in our inner circle of close friends told us that they couldn’t celebrate our recent marriage, nor attend our reception, because of religious reasons.
I'm having a difficult time coping with this decision and I'm really hurt.
I understand that the majority of religious denominations are opposed to gay marriage. Fine. But marriage is not just a religious institution; it is also a civil contract between two consenting adults with real world consequences and real world legal obligations. Gay marriages do not need to be performed in a religious setting. Churches do not need to perform gay marriages. Tom & I didn't attempt to get married in a church – so, for us, it wasn’t about religion, it was about recognition of our commitment to each other in front of God.
At first, I was extremely disappointed in their rejection; I tried to be understanding and realize that they are hanging onto an antiquated belief system that has probably been engrained in them for a very long time. For me personally, my disappointment in religious institutions has grown out of a frustration with religions leaders who continually preach hatred and intolerance. Since God is love, logically, wouldn’t God want all people to find love? After all, love is a gift. I learned this teaching as a young person growing up in the Catholic Church. As an adult, and now legally married to his partner, it has been difficult for me to accept being shunned by the very Church I have loved.
Now, my disappointment in our friends' decision to not honor and recognize us as a couple is morphing into feelings of anger (that is the cycle after all). I'm angry that religion can stand between and dictate who to love. I'm angry that two friends, who we had come to love and share wonderful times together for the past couple of years, feel they must now turn their backs on our marriage and us as friends and shun us because of what their church teaches.
I'm not saying all religion is bad - it's certainly not. It can be a foundation to learn love, faith, kindness, hope, and many other virtues. But when religion starts to divide people and be more about politics, and destroy friendships, then I have a big problem with it.
The two empty seats at our reception will now be filled with hurt, anger, and disappointment. Both of us feel that our friendship has now been irreparably damaged.
Love isn't about religion. It's about people, their relationship to each other, and their relationship to God. Not the church.
Being abandoned by our friends at this time - when we are celebrating a once-in-a-lifetime event - is truly not a good feeling.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Protection from Email Spam, and Cell Phone Spam

A Helpful article from USAToday, on ridding yourself of E-mail and Cell phone spam.
Don't bother unsubscribing from EMAILS
Many spam messages contain an unsubscribe link. Ignore this. In fact, don't even open spam messages. They can infect your computer with malware. Clicking the unsubscribe link simply confirms that your address is active. Instead, forward spam to the Federal Communications Commission at: spam@uce.gov Legitimate mailing lists are the exception to this rule. Use their unsubscribe links.

Protect your phone
Cellphone spam is relatively new. You may not be receiving any yet, but a proactive approach makes sense. First, join the Do Not Call Registry. This will end most telemarketing calls. It will also stop companies from sending text messages to your phone. After 31 days, you can file a complaint if you're still getting messages. The CAN-SPAM Act bans unwanted commercial messages on wireless gadgets. You can file complaints at the FCC's site. Finally, check your account settings with your provider. Most spammers send their texts from the Internet. Your provider should offer tools for blocking messages sent from the Web.

Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim's free e-mail newsletters, sign up at www.komando.com/newsletters. Contact her at gnstech@gannett.com
FULL ARTICLE: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/kimkomando/2009-07-09-spam_N.htm?csp=DailyBriefing

Friday, July 10, 2009

From the News: Drunk Badger Disrupts Traffic In Germany

This was too bizarre not to share with you. Now Germany has to watch out for drunk badgers!
Date: 09-Jul-09 Country: GERMANY Author: Dave Graham
BERLIN - A badger in Germany got so drunk on over-ripe cherries it staggered into the middle of a road and refused to budge, police said Wednesday. A motorist called police near the central town of Goslar to report a dead badger on a road -- only for officers to turn up and discover the animal alive and well, but drunk.
Police discovered the nocturnal beast had eaten cherries from a nearby tree which had turned to alcohol and given the badger diarrhea. Having failed to scare the animal away, officers eventually chased it from the road with a broom.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Coffee Enhances Memory! - new study


I guess I'll have a good memory when I'm 80!:)
NY DAILY NEWS (July 7, 2009) Studies have found that giving lab mice the equivalent of 500 milligrams of caffeine per day had a positive impact on their memory.
The researchers found that the caffeine had "a very positive effect on their memory and thinking actions over a two-month period," said Dr. Jennifer Ashton. "So put another one in the column of a good effect of caffeine."
The research, published online in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, found that for mice with the rodent equivalent of Alzheimer's disease, consuming the caffeine-spiked drinking water resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the levels of a protein in the brain that is a key aspect of the disease. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/health/2009/07/06/2009-07-06_coffee_may_help_treat_memory_loss_a_major_symptom_of_al.html

Beginning today: 12 weeks of Superman in USA Today on Wednesdays!


How cool is it to read SUPERMAN comics in USA TODAY once a week? It's true, and it starts TODAY!
Beginning today: 12 weeks of Superman
Every week, usatoday.com will feature a new episode of the Superman serial running in Wednesday Comics, a weekly collection of 15 newspaper-sized comic strips from DC Comics. The complete package is on sale every Wednesday for $3.99 at comic book shops.
To read today's installment, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/life/comics/2009-07-07-superman1_N.htm?csp=DailyBriefing
When was the last time you read a Superman comic?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 8th- a Numerically Cool Day!

What is so different about the 8th of July this year?
At five minutes and six seconds after 4 AM on the 8th of July this year, the time and date will be 04:05:06 07/08/09. This will never happen again!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Our Wedding Vows on Video!

It turns out that our friend Colleen did in fact videotape our Wedding Vows! Because it's longer than the other videos, it took a lot longer for her to download to us- and we can't tell her how much we appreciate it. This was the day we'll always remember.
Tom and I wrote our own vows (I'm a writer, so you can guess mine are longer), and Tom said his first, followed by me saying my vows to Tom. We both got very choked up reading them to each other, as you can see. Thanks again, Colleener!
video

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July! - Cookouts/Ins, Dog Walks/Movie

We had a nice fourth of July- Tom put the American Flag up outside, and we enjoyed several nice dog walks, breakfasts at Panera bread on the 3rd and 4th, and a fun cookout at our friend Ed's house in Annapolis. On the 4th, our plans for a doggy parade didn't happen, so Jeff and Gary drove up from Virginia, and Jeff and Rob cooked inside, making kabobs, homemade potato salad, pasta salad, ears of corn, and homemade apple pie. It was great.
We also took a nice 30 minute dog-walk after dinner, then shopped a little, had dessert and watched a movie. Here Franklin the dachshund was already giving up on the walk after 10 minutes because he was warm (he's overweight, so he gives up quickly in the heat.). Tom (front), Jeff and Gary wait for him to get up, while Dolly (the weimaraner) and I stopped and took the photo. PHOTO: Franklin gives up walking... so Tom had to carry him! Here's Tom's expression while carrying Franklin, who is super-hot with his fur, and even hotter in the 81F heat!
MOVIE NIGHT: Gary and Jeff brought over this movie on DVD and we watched it tonight. In my opinion, it was good until the last 10 minutes... IN BRUGES - is a 2008 film directed and written by Martin McDonagh. The film stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as hitmen in hiding, with Ralph Fiennes as their gangster boss. The film takes place within the Belgian city of Bruges. Colin Farrell won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for the film.(Although I don't see it as a comedy).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Traveling for the 4th of July? Man Disrobes on USAirways Flight

For anyone traveling over the 4th of July weekend, here's a story from USA Today/Associated Press you may find interesting. Although to onlookers who didn't know the man suffered from bi-polar disorder would find his behavior amusing (even as I do), it's SO important that people with this disorder take their medication. I know a couple of people that have the disorder, and they think they're cured and stop taking their medication, then have outbursts or other weird behavior they can't recall later. On a lighter note, you just never know what you'll run into on vacation. Maybe even at 50 years old he was musclebound and had ripped abs, so he'd be nice to look at!- Then again, with the stats out yesterday that 20-25% of Americans are obese, I doubt it. Happy 4th!
Plane diverted to Albuquerque after passenger disrobes mid-flight
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) July 2, 2009— A 50 year old male passenger from NYC stripped naked during a US Airways flight and resisted a flight attendant's efforts to cover him with a blanket before two off-duty law enforcement officers on board subdued and handcuffed him... (and he was still naked).
The man, Keith Wright, told the FBI he is suffering from a bipolar disorder and had not taken his prescribed medication before leaving New York that morning, and had a beer before flying. As with bi-polar disorder, he said he recalled nothing about the flight or his behavior.
As the plane took off again, the usual announcement to please fasten your seat belts came over the loudspeakers including "a reminder to everybody to please keep your clothing on. FULL STORY: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2009-07-01-naked-passenger_N.htm?csp=

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

Great Books by our friends

Great Books by our friends
Check out these great books (yeah, Rob's are in there, too)

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next

Podcast of Rob's 50 min. interview on Paranormal Filler Radio 7/13/14