November 29, 2006

Bittersweet Anniversary

Today would have been my beastie's 13th birthday.

It's been just over four months since he went to the bridge, and though I miss him, life has of course continued. Generally the time I most feel the loss is just when I come home - for so many years any return to the apartment was greeted with his rare expressions of excitement, and those first few minutes of bonding after a long day were my favorite time with him.

Walking around the neighborhood bumping into the dog owners with whom I once shared such camaraderie is sometimes jarring as well; the initial awkward conversation as they mention they haven't seen me and Zeke in a while and I explain why... Seeing dog owners meet and greet one another, seeing a new dog on the block - it's a club I was a member of for so many years, yet no longer.

Many people wonder if I'll get another dog, and of course I will - though not for some time to come. I can't imagine life without a dog in the long term, but for the immediate future circumstances conspire against pet-ownership. Any pet ownership, including the cat my parents tried to pawn off on me last month. "Why do you want to give him to me?" I asked. "Because he pukes on everything" my dad replied. Not much of a cat salesman, but Pops gets points for honesty.

Normally for his birthday I would get Zeke a special treat like eggplant pizza, a whopper, or I'd cook him some steak. Of course he had no idea why November 29th was a special day, but then in his mind I've no doubt that he assumed steak or a whopper or his favorite pizza was no less than his due.

Here he is playing with a very wet Hershey, his best pal for many years.

Happy birthday buddy.

November 26, 2006

Loosening the belt...

As I sit here gorging for the third day in a row on leftover stuffing (I love food that's named after what it is or does, like oranges and stuffing) I am happy to confirm that I am very much pro-Thanksgiving. Such a terrific holiday this year, with everything that could have gone wrong going right instead, and I got to spend two solid days with family and friends.

Each meal was wonderful, with everything tasting just as it should. And both my Thanksgiving dinners featured one of my all-time favorite dishes, butternut squash soup. Hot damn that is some good soup... Thursday I spent time up in Massachusetts with my best friend and his family and friends, which I don't get to do often enough, and Friday was a second Thanksgiving in New Jersey with family, our yearly event. No traffic to speak of marred the travel, and the company and conversation were wonderful all-around.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, both because it's a secular holiday that most Americans can get behind and also because it's a holiday based on and steeped in the act of hospitality. As some of you may remember from an earlier post, hospitality is very important to me and something I take very seriously. One of our most ancient rituals, the act of both giving and receiving food and shelter hearkens back to our most ancient and earliest civilizing practices. I love that we have a national tradition that originates with, and continues to be practiced as an expression of the act of welcoming others to your home and hearth.

Sure, I doubt the first Thanksgiving was anything like the sanitized version that is currently celebrated, but then as we all well know, faith doesn't require any historical accuracy. Those same pinko-commie liberals who are trying to ruin Christmas (an act of holiday sabotage I heartily approve of) would also have you believe that recognizing the reality of Pilgrim-Indian relations must by necessity mean feeling guilty each Thanksgiving, and I won't have any part of it. Thanksgiving is more than an origin myth, it now serves as a hearty reminder of what is truly important in life; a reminder we desperately need just before we launch into the greatest example of what's not important - the Christmas season.

The radio stations and stores let us know beyond all shadow of a doubt that the final barrier has been crossed, the seventh seal has been broken, and it's now the Christmas homestretch. The soundtrack of the season plays like George Bailey's ipod locked on permanent shuffle, so let the government-sanctioned marginalization of non-Christians begin!

November 22, 2006

We're all in this together.... (by "this" I mean getting girls...)

Looking ahead to 2008 is an interesting exercise at this early stage, because the field is still so littered with candidates who haven't yet realized they have already failed.

I'm sure I will be stunned in 18 months as I read about how much money a pre-ordained loser like John Kerry has spent to discover that he isn't nearly as popular in 2008 as he was in 2004, and that he wasn't really all that popular then either. Some obvious choices are looking to jump out ahead and get some early inertia, while others are playing it cool, playing their cards close to the vest.

We're already hearing a lot about Barack Obama, and I admit I don't take him particularly seriously just yet. In general I don't take candidates who come from a Congressional background all that seriously, as they lack executive experience while at the same time they possess a long voting record which can be willfully misinterpreted to an opponent's advantage. Governors may not make better Presidents, but the certainly make better candidates, and there are plenty of hale and hearty governors out there calculating their odds who may yet throw their hat in.

But every now and again something shows up in the news about a candidate that seems to be an authentic window into who they are, and those moments can make or break a candidacy. If they are positive moments, perhaps shedding some healthy, helpful light on the character of a relatively unknown person, they can do more to promote a Presidential bid than a bucket full of prime-time ad buys .

Now, this is not one of those glorious moments, but it is something which resonates with me and I'm suddenly much more of an Obama fan than I had been.

Obama '08, Let a playa play!

November 19, 2006

Anyone else bothered by this (Part 3)

Loyal readers, your Chief is not normally one to credit minority blathering about disenfranchisement, marginalization, and discrimination, yet I can't help but point out something which showed up in the news last week.

For your consideration I present two photos. Can you tell which one is the fake AP photo and caption, and which is the real?

You're right, obviously it's the Denny Hastert photo which is fake, because no one comments on what male Congressmen are wearing save for fashion magazines. Which of course means the Nancy Pelosi photo and caption are genuine, and apparently it's just fine to comment on what incoming Speaker Pelosi is wearing. As much as I'd hate to encourage them, this sort of patronization does indeed support the feminist contention that men suck and what not.

On one hand you have giant blob of mendacity Denny Hastert, or bloated sack of hypocrisy Bill Frist, or even horny fat Bill Clinton, and many other questionable human beings whom no one likes and no one finds attractive, and who are not judged on their repulsive appearances because they're men. And on the other hand you have the single most powerful woman in the history of America, who will be third in line for the Presidency, and who despite her many accomplishments still can't get a mention without someone noting what she's wearing to Capitol Hill like showing up to govern is no more significant than walking the red carpet on Oscar night.

I'm proud of the Dems, and of Nancy Pelosi, and even mentioning her outfit in a way that implies that what she's wearing has some bearing on her role as Congresswoman undermines her authority and does a disservice to her, the U.S. government, and the people who elected her and her party. It's nothing but an intentional belittlement of the incoming Speaker of the House, or even worse - the culturally ingrained belittlement of women everywhere.

Now, I'm all for belittling people, but I like to do it based on merit and not gender.

Anyone else bothered by this (Part 2)

That's just great, because what we really, really need more of is branding on a planetary scale. The Planet Earth, brought to you by Yum Franchises, Inc.

Anyone else bothered by this?

I don't listen to the weekly Presidential radio addresses anymore, ever since I grew so horribly disenchanted with the quality of a Yale education as exhibited by the current occupant of the Oval Office, but I still check the transcripts regularly to see if he says anything interesting/disturbing.

Last weekend one particular quote leapt out at me, which you may have seen making the rounds on teh internets:
"One freedom that defines our way of life is the freedom to choose our leaders at the ballot box. We saw that freedom earlier this week, when millions of Americans went to the polls to cast their votes for a new Congress. Whatever your opinion of the outcome, all Americans can take pride in the example our democracy sets for the world by holding elections even in a time of war."
President George W. Bush
Now, please feel free to tell me I'm hyper-sensitive or over-reacting, but is anyone else concerned that our President seems to suggest that we should be proud of our democracy holding elections in a time of war?

I certainly don't disagree with this sentiment as I am indeed proud of us every time we have a peaceful election, yet it's alarming to me that our President seems to imply we should be grateful we were given the opportunity to vote at all; that GWB is expecting some form of gratitude that he hasn't declared marshal law.

The United States has a long history of holding elections in times of war much more dire than the current circumstances, and with leaders with whom there was demonstrable dissatisfaction. The troubling aspect of GWB's statement is that it is something he felt needed to be said. Me, I do take it for granted that America holds elections because that's what we do, it's who we are. An election for us isn't in the realm of the optional, it doesn't only happen when there aren't more important things to consider. If the day ever comes when a sitting President refuses to hold elections that are a referendum on his running of a war because of that very war, that would be America's Rubicon; a line once crossed that signals the end of the Republic.

For our President to mention the unmentionable merely points out that it was indeed mentionable after all. And for GWB to note how proud we should be that we got to have elections this fall instead draws my attention to how dangerous a threat to America the far-right agenda truly is.

November 13, 2006

In town you're the law; out here it's me...

I went paintballng this past Saturday, something I had only done once before when I was 17. And I had a blast back in '87, so it's actually somewhat surprising to me that I hadn't done it again since. Oh wait, wait - no, not it's not surprising at all actually, cause I'm wicked lazy. Right...

Other than my total sloth when it comes to making plans and doing things, there's no other reason why I haven't done it since. So when one of my co-workers from my former job started making the arrangements, and I merely needed to pay and show up, man - that's my kind of outing.

Though let me tell you, I'm not the spry young thing going over the top 'Nam-style that I was back in the day. Post-game, I hurt. Sure, I hit the gym regularly, and despite being, you know, all fat and what not, I'm actually in pretty decent shape. But wholly unprepared for the crouching, crawling, sliding, climbing, running, diving and ducking that a solid game o' paintball requires. Oh sure, I did it - and pretty well I think, making some funky dope maneuvers - but I could tell even before the day was over that I was going to pay for it.

And Sunday the check came. Ow. Ow. Ow.

Lots of muscle soarness, but also some straight-up welts from the paintball hits I took. Sure, you would expect me, as agile like a gazelle as I am, to be able to dodge and weave between the flying paintballs with nary a splat on me, but alas, twas not the case. Apparently I make as large a target sideways as I do full-frontal, and I got hit. A lot. I know I got hit at least 9 times, because I can count nine of these on my body:

(Hairy Dan Photo Below)

No, those aren't hickeys on my well-shaped flank (easy girls, settle down) no, those are souvenirs of my day in the woods of Pennsylvania. Though I did my share of tearing others up too; I had a couple of pretty memorable sniper shots and at least once I totally surprised a guy who didn't see me coming as I came around a bush and served up a nice double-tap to his chest.

It was a long day, but loads and loads of fun. Looking forward to doing it again at some point before I'm too old to crawl around in the mud pretending to be manly. And I have a whole bag of paintballs left over, so I'm thinking it shouldn't be 19 years until I do this again. Though it may be 19 years until the pain goes away...

I aint as young as I was when I was younger...

November 09, 2006

Midterm Midweek Wrap Up

I woke up early Tuesday morning to vote before work, and spent the day listening to the talking heads talk on the radio. Tuesday night was a "second date" with a lady I met off of e-harmony, somewhat late because she worked until 8:00. So I went over to her place at 8, and we sat and watched the results and chatted.

Dork date? Yes, in all honestly, not my finest hour. And it was my idea - we wanted to see each other, but dammit I'm an election junkie and I didn't want to miss what I knew would be a nail-biter. And one of my minimum requirements is an intelligent woman with opinions that interest me, and I suspected this would be a night when I had a chance to learn what she thought about issues, how current she was on the issues of the day, and how her mind worked. Also, if I do say so myself, it was a chance for me to impress her as well with how wicked mega smart I am.

So from 8 to about 10 we hung out and flipped between NY1, CNN, and Fox news. My all-time favorite election commentator Tim Russert was no where to be found so we settled for a solid number 2 - Lou Dobbs. CNN's coverage I felt was brilliant, and while NY1 had local races, there really wasn't anything local worth watching once it was clear that Alan Hevesi was cruising to re-election. Not sure how I felt about him, though I did vote for him. It was a combination of the evil you know vs. the evil you don't, and all things being equal I'll take his sort of political scandal over the looming unknown scandal that a new politician was sure to spring on us. Hevesi has done a terrific job even if he couldn't do the job without stepping over the line a bit, so I was happy the voters appeared to forgive his indiscretion. Though the question remains, is it that people can not wield both power and integrity at the same time, or are our laws so complex and our expectations so high that it's impossible for even a good person to stay on the straight and narrow?

Despite the Hevesi business, New York didn't provide much in the way of excitement but how about Virginia huh? Man, I was riveted by that one... even before control of the senate was at stake, I was watching this race closely because I'm a serious anti-Allen man, and seeing it flip back and forth all night between Allen and Webb was so frickin' exciting I couldn't stand it. The icing on the cake of Allen's concession today was that it completed the trifecta of glory when teamed with Santorum and DeWine losing their seats as well. As my current favorite Jew likes to say... VERY NICE!

In other news, my good friend Amy has a cousin who ran for Congress and he won his district. Now, this isn't just anyone, her cousin John Hall just happens to have been the lead singer of the 70's band The Orleans, who sang the song my parents chose as their song - Still the One. (Congressman-elect Hall is the topless man in the middle...)

For several reasons I'm a big fan of the newly minted Congressman, but as if he needed further cred he showed up on The Colbert Report last night and had a terrific appearance, singing the National Anthem with Steven. I'm a fan of a well-sung National Anthem, and the two of them just killed. Not to mention, it was all funny and what-not being The Colbert Report. November just gets better and better.

Oh, and the date part of Tuesday night? Ehhh, so-so. She's nice and all, but I'm not particularly moved. I think one more date to see how it goes... Since she tolerated my election geekiness, I'm spending next Monday watching a hockey game with her despite no interest whatsoever in hockey, and sadly waning interest in the lady herself.

November 06, 2006

Wake up early and

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.
- B. Franklin