Thursday, January 31, 2008

Curse You John Edwards

As Motherrocker commented, the minute I go to all the work about posting how this could be the most interesting presidential convention in decades, Mr. Edwards drops out just before Super Tuesday to almost ensure that someone is going to have the nomination locked up on the Democratic side before the convention. Darn him. One has to hope that Huckabee sticks it out and we at least have some fun on the Republican side.

A comment on eating meat: I've been following the blogs of Chris Cosentino and Michael Ruhlman who have been writing a lot about humane meat raising and slaughtering practices. If you're interested go to these two sites. But take this as my two cents.

  • Man became what he is because a million or so years ago he started eating meat which allowed brain size to increase.
  • Meat is an incredibly inefficient means of converting energy from soil and sun into food for humanity.
  • Mankind has a millennia long history of overusing his environments resulting in civilization collapse (see Jarad Diamond's book, "Collapse")
  • Most societies that have collapse had perfectly logical reasons (from their perspective) for what they did even though they were ultimately self-destructive
  • It's pretty hard for any one person to change the world, but you can change yourself.
  • I still like meat, I just don't eat a whole lot
  • Wine is vegetarian

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Let the Real Race Begin

Isn't it fascinating that we have an actual, for real political race in both parties this year? I for one have been totally put off by politics for decades now as we've had a series of shoe in candidates or inept candidates or decisions between candidates that were the lesser of two evils. Now we have a variety of people with very different personalities and no one to date has the clear advantage. We've eliminated some of the pretenders and we're down to the legitimate contenders and a couple of spoilers.

Before the election of Ronald Reagan, presidential political conventions were often tumultuous affairs where there were many rounds of voting until via back room wheeling and dealing a candidate was finally chosen. Subsequently, most of the years since, candidates have already had the nomination locked up before the convention. Wouldn't be great if this was a throw back to that prior time. Here's how it happens. You need the third candidate (Edwards and Huckabee) to each stay in the race to the end and have enough delegates to prevent either of the front runners from having a clear majority. Then you go into the convention where on the first (and maybe the second, I don't actually remember all the rules) round each delegate has to vote for the candidate that they were elected for.

Now here is the cool part. After that first round, when nobody has a majority every delegate is up for grabs. They can now change candidates, vote for people who weren't even in the primaries. That's what I'm hoping for - a real electoral circus. For more information on what can happen read this.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Should We Give People a Second Chance

I was reading an article in the WSJ about Bill Gates new efforts in charity. Already having set up a record setting foundation along with Warren Buffett's fortune, as he is moving away from active involvement in Microsoft, he is moving to a much more active role with his foundation. One of the major themes he was discussing was the failure of historical capitalism in the vast majority of the world that suffers from endemic poverty and sub-standard living conditions. The gist of his argument was that a revised approach to capitalism and charity were called for.

The article's author quoted many who were quite critical of Mr. Gates saying that who was he to be criticizing classic capitalism when he has been a primary user of that system to build up his wealth. Efforts by Microsoft to squelch competition has been the critics example. Mr. Gates says he was younger and as he and his wife have traveled the world for their foundation, he has changed his opinions.

This gets to our topic. Because we are inundated with people who want us to forgive always their prior lives, decisions and actions. It makes no difference if it is the politician caught stealing, the religious leader with the sex problems, the athlete with the drug problems, and on and on, when they are brought to task there is the great mia culpa and claim that they've learned their lessons and now they're going to be different and a credit to humanity.

Is this all bullshit? Have we just made it so no one ever should suffer the consequences of their actions? Or is this an acknowledgment that people can change and we should embrace that change.

What do you think?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Have a Dream

Unfortunately mine is lot more pedestrian and self-centered than the great MLK. I dream that all my travel the year round would have the traveler density of mid-January. While the weather may cause a problem here or there, loads on planes, hotels, rental cars, etc. are down 30 to 40%. This means short lines, empty seats next to you, upgrades, low prices on rooms. If things were like this all the time, life would be so good.

I'm happy to say after two days of illness and non-eating, I'm finally somewhat back to my old self today. I'm in LAX waiting to catch a late flight back to Albuquerque.

Answer to the last History Trivia Question (or as we call it in de-I land, our nefarious plot to turn Lakeview into a history geek by exploiting his inherent competitive instincts).

Indeed Lakeview is 2/3rds right. The Sassanids and the Parthians were both legitimate Persian Dynasties. However, I think most historians would exclude the Greeks as they were outside conquerers. I believe that most experts would choose the Achaemenids which included Darius the Great, Cyrus and of course Xerxes. They build the largest Eurasian land empire which stretched from the Indus River in modern Pakistan to Egypt up to Turkey and north of current Iran. Alexander the Great ultimately conquered Achaemenid Persia and one of his generals became the founder of the Greek Dynasties there.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

If You Have to be Sick

...And you're on the road, there are worse places to find yourself than the Lafayette Park Hotel in Lafayette, CA. Monday night I had a horrendous evening with no sleep whatsoever. I had to be up early to catch my flight to CA and just wasn't feeling right at all. I couldn't even eat anything for breakfast. I slept on both flight (unheard of for me), got to the hotel, did an hour's worth of work and then jumped into bed at 3 PM and stayed there until 5 this morning fighting off the fever and chills (which seem to have gone thank goodness). The bed in this particular hotel is fabulous and the heating consistent (not a given in any hotel). So all in all, a pretty good place to be bed ridden.

On the menu today

Nourishing Glycerin Soap
Exfoliating Sea Salt Soap - (some how rubbing my body with salt doesn't seem exciting)
Detoxifying Sea Kelp Shampoo - (I didn't even now I had toxins in my hair!)
Moisturizing Sea Moss Conditioner - (Sure I want to lump a bunch of sea moss on my hair)
Relaxing Sea Fennel Body Lotion - (is this lotion for sea fennel that are up tight?)

I hope I don't go to my meetings today smelling like a rank lagoon.

Today's History Quiz

Guest poster Pulisha referred to Persian Dynasties a couple of days ago. What were the three great Persian Dynasties prior to the Islamic take over in the 7th and 8th centuries AD. Points taken off if you use Wikipedia Lakeview!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Comment Card from Pulisha on Casa de-I

This is a very nice hotel. The staff are pleasant, though a bit territorial when it comes to the televisions and computer areas. Printing is free, but you must do your own laundry (there is a little jar next to the machines since the coin operator appears to be out of order).

Dinner is only occasionally provided, so be prepared to cook some of your own meals. Also, the cook can be a bit surly at times, and he tends to start ranting about ancient Persian dynasties (I think, I may have tuned out at that point), but the food is excellent so I suppose the eccentricities can be forgiven.

Hubs wants me to point out that the sports stations are severely lacking. You can find a soccer game in any language at any time of day, but there is a distinct lack of any Buffalo sports teams package on the cable. I just want to point that out because I know that it is a very important point for many travelers. Also, the service is a bit lacking. You have to clean up after yourself, change the toilet paper roll, wash your own linen, etc. They also do not carry cat litter for when your car leaks oil onto the driveway (can you believe that!). And the woman who runs the place will give you a very dirty look if you even think about asking for turn down service!

But, it is a fabulous place for children. The staff will even watch them for you if you need to go out and run errands! At least, I think they were the staff...I wonder where J went...oh well, I'm sure she'll turn up sooner or later. That plus the endless supply of booze makes this quite a charming little place full of character. I give it three stars. Wait, this isn't Trip Advisor? Shit.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Not Much

Not much of anything to report. I was on the road again last week spending the first four days in Chicago before going on to Wichita. It will be on to the Bay area and LA next week for three days. In the meantime I will fall back on a time tested posting technique, pictures featuring the Pulisha clan.

Mr. A showing off his prowess at standing up himself up.
He wasn't doing that when I left last week!

Miss C showing her prowess as vegetable cutter
(also her prowess as vegetable eater since only about 60% of what she was cutting avoided her mouth and made it into the bowl)

Miss J showing her coolness and "above it all" attitude
(She is a two year old you know)

Finally Pulisha and Tim de Buffalo
This was just after they got back from signing a lease for their own place.
This week's contest - What was Tim de Buffalo saying when this picture was taken

  1. Thank goodness I can escape from de-I's clutches
  2. I can't believe the New England won again
  3. If de-I feeds me truffles for one more meal I swear I'm going to....
  4. Hmmmm, being puked on or changing a horrible diaper. Which would be better.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Trivia Answer

A tip of the hat to Lakeview who through (I have found) some determined research techniques using Wikipedia correctly identified that William of Orange invaded England in 1688 with a force of about 6,000 and immediately set to rout the forces and supporters of James II. James had managed to alienate just about every center of influence in England through his seeming desire to turn the realm back to Catholicism. William was a joint monarch with his wife Mary, daughter of James, (don't get any ideas Pu and Tim) followed by Mary's sister Anne. Next the Hanover's were imported

We have to discount the later Stuart invasion since although he successfully landed troops in Scotland and made his way into the depths of England, he also immediately turned around and gave up leading to no permanent change in the monarchy.

A wag of the finger to SRM's English boy friend. Evidently English schools are no better than American schools in teaching correct history.

A note to AinA - yes, William of Orange was probably the last really bad ass Dutch man. The Dutch had actually been kicking English ass on the sea for most of the 16th and 17th centuries. But the Dutch were very fractionalized. The ships and officers of Rotterdam would refuse to serve with or under those from Amsterdam (or the other two main "Admiralties" associated with areas of the Netherlands whose names I've forgotten). The Dutch started to decline as a sphere of influence throughout the 18th century until they were conquered by Napoleon who evidently neutered them and used the parts for some gastronomic creation.

As winner of the contest, Lakeview has won a dinner at KFC. I offered to take him to the much better and trendier Popeyes but he's declined.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Want a Shower - Not a Fruit Salad

When you turn 50 you receive your AARP card (American Association of Retired People) even though most don't have prayer of retiring for another decade and half or more. When you turn 60 and are a male you receive your AGOM card (Association of Grumpy Old Men) which allows you to be a curmudgeon about just about everything.

Today's rant will be about fragrances, specifically those in soaps, shampoos and other assorted toiletries. At the hotel I stayed in the last couple of days they had an oatmeal soap bar - with little bits of oat chaff in the bar just to show you that it was the real thing I guess. I don't know about you but getting little bits of oats up my orifices isn't my idea of getting clean. Then there was the shampoo. It was lavender. I've run across various citrus, berries, wheat, and miscellaneous herbal fragrances. All I want to do is get clean and not smell like a Visagoth.

Short Stuff

Historical Trivia Question of the Day (winner gets dinner cooked by Moi) - when was the last successful invasion of England and who was the monarch who led the invasion?

Housing Market Warning - The USA Today (which I only read when I'm in a hotel) today had an interesting article talking about the effect that the retirement of baby boomers over the next 20 years is going to have on the housing market. The basic theme was that there will be a a general and long term increase in housing sell offs as these people retire. That will lead to a long term situation where there are more houses on the market than there are buyers. Younger home owners should take this into account in their planning.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

On the Lam

As Lakeview so rightly said, I have taken a page out of the success stories of medieval monarchs and escaped the carnage of Castle de-I and escaped to Chicago. I will be here for most of the week trying to gather the forces to re-take the homeland from the Pulishan hordes. However, like the Romans at the end of the Empire, we may have to offer them a homeland in side Empire territories to appease them.

Later in the week I have to go to Wichita. Can't wait for that.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Report from the Front Lines

This is Forward Base Alpha reporting - Mayday, Mayday, Mayday - we are under attack.

The legions of Pulisha are at the perimeter.

They're starting with human wave attacks of midget warriors.

Oh no two of them have broken through. OH MY GOD They're both pooping in their pants at once!

Now they're trying to break down the walls by slamming their heads into them crying like crazy!

Suitcases - tons and tons of suitcases - we can't hold them off. We need help fast.


Static, Crackle

(end of communication)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gone - Man at the Top of the World

Today's news announced the passing of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first known person who climbed Mount Everest. Now when we have the Discovery Channel giving us reports of teams of relative amateurs who go up the mountain and read stories of problems they have with trash and junk from all the for fee expeditions taking people up the mountain, it's hard to believe that it was only slightly over 50 years ago when no one had ever climbed the peak.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

But We Don't Even Have The Concertina Wire Yet!

Its on back order. And they're out-of-stock on claymore mines. And I won't be able to get any Congolese mercenaries for at least two weeks.

We're doomed. The hordes of Chairwoman Pulisha are projected to be arriving her Friday.


And if you think that this sense of alarm and need for protection is unwarranted, I merely ask you to read this to understand how a total breakdown of civilized life is to be expected here in de-I land.

Wife, of course, has been an absolute trooper in all this. Her comments?

"Homey could you please help put together the bunk bed."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Islamic Justice Has Nothing On Us

You don't want to get crosswise with Mrs. de-I on the discipline front. You will remember the pictorial evidence I posted concerning our booze thieving Norfolk Pine which I've re-posted below.

When Mrs. de-I found this out she at first was amused...until she found out that the tippling tree had taken a liking to her after dinner drinks. This was a horse (or a tree) of a different color.

Following a short trial presided by, prosecuted by and defended by Mrs. de-I (no one said that justice is fair here in de-I land) sentence was handed out and promptly carried out - Amputation.

The Now Chastened Norfolk Pine

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Let's Throw Some Gas on the Fire

During my restful holiday period I was able to do the rousing, partying things that de-I is noted for -- like watching two hour series on Discovery and History Channels about the geological history of the earth and the Dark Ages. It really doesn't get more exciting than that especially if you're sipping a cognac and eating some homemade chocolate truffles.

While watching the former, the history of the earth, at the end they came to a very interesting part where they were talking about how we've been through and extended (I think a million years or more) period of ice ages and that we were in one of the brief inter-glacial periods and that another ice age was certainly in our future. We've had a very cold winter so far so I've been making a lot of global warming jokes. But the show and this winter got me to thinking. "What if we really are just in an inter-glacial period. And what if all our obsession with global warming is in fact going to make it colder faster."

Well I'm no scientist and I just let it rest until a week later I was having breakfast with a friend who brought it up. He told me he has been fascinated by this subject for years and had a whole library of web sites for me to check out if one wanted to get beyond the hype.

I'm just getting into them but to get the passions flowing I offer for you this BBC show that was produced on the subject.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Childs Fantsy or An Actuality?

When granddaughter 1 of 4, also known as C of the Pulisha clan, comes to visit we often play a game whereby Grandpa de-I is the Tree in the Enchanted Forest that captures unwary little girls and holds them ransom unless they go to their parents and get the Tree Icky Wine. Icky Wine is C's code word for all things alcoholic from when she was younger and wanted to try some of my wine and pronounced it "Icky".

I've always thought of this story as figment of my imagination. But recently I noted that some of the stuff in my liquor cabinet seemed to be going down faster than a could account for. So I set up a camera with a trip wire and recorded this image. You decide for yourself.

Tree reaching for booze?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Welcome 2008 - Goodby Sanity

That's probably somewhat of an exaggeration but 2008 (at least the first half) is going to be as jammed packed with events as any year that I can remember (which isn't hard since I really don't remember much of anything).

Mid-January - Relocation of the Pulisha clan to Albuquerque

Not only will this create an entirely new family dynamic but the five Pulisha-s are going to be staying with us until they can find a place to rent. Seven of us including two under the age of three in a small non-child proofed home -- let's see that sounds like fun. Perhaps I should schedule travel for the entire last half of January -- oh wait I have (Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha).

End of January, beginning of February - Beginning of the Remodeling Project

As many of you know, we are going to be adding a second floor over about a half of our house in order to capture the fabulous views around us. The plans are just about done. We've made most of our selections (lighting, flooring, etc.) and are waiting for the quote (I've reserved a room at the New Mexico Heart Hospital in anticipation of my coronary when I see it). Our builder has told us that he will be ready to start in the late Jan/early Feb time frame. (Note to self -- Reserve a large tent for the backyard in case the Pulishas are still in the house)

Mid-April - Trip to Central Europe

Mrs. de-I are taking a long awaited vacation; a cruise up the Danube River from Budapest through Austria and on to Germany near Munich. We're starting with a side trip to Prague.

Mid-May - Body Part Disassembly (Put your orders in Now! First Come, First Served!)

Actually what is happening is I'm scheduled to be donating my kidney to my sister barring being disqualified at the last moment for some change in medical status. This is naturally a rather big event. Since my sister lives in Connecticut and is incapable of traveling, it is going to mean my having to go there for the surgery. Working with the hospital in Hartford has been extremely frustrating as they refused to communicate with me at all on planning until my sister was absolutely approved for the transplant. That combined with a host of personal logistical issues (figuring out where to hang out while I recuperate, keeping my business going, etc.) has caused much gnashing of teeth. But we have finally gotten their acceptance of her and their agreement to my timetable. We are now just just waiting for the final date approval.

July 4 Weekend - Mrs. de-I Family Reunion

A triennial event that brings her whole clan together. We're doing another pig roast so that will be a blast. Unfortunately we know that EIBW (Elegant International Business Woman) daughter has to be in India for a good friends wedding (it was a tough choice -- go to India for the first time or go to rural Ohio), we we are going to make a full size cut out of her along with pre-recorded answers to questions so she can still be a fountain of knowledge for her younger cousins (think the Magic Eight-Ball)

I figure if nothing else this year is going to offer lots of material for me to write about.