Saturday, July 12, 2008

The New Apple iPhone 3G’s are Hear

Wow, the new Apple iPhone is here. Are you as excited as I am? You can now own a cell phone for about two hundred dollars that you can then pay another ninety dollars a month for internet connection and whatever else the thing does. Just what I want folks on the freeway doing, texting their friends and checking on the latest baseball scores. It’s bad enough that some yo-yo in a Buick is screaming at his ex-wife as he goes between twelve and ninety miles an hour depending on the answers he’s getting from that good-for-nothing battleaxe. If he’d at least use his turn signal it wouldn’t be quite that bad.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not against progress. I have a computer and internet and I really find them useful – at home. Perhaps if I had twenty-five year old eyes I could stand looking at screen the size of a baby’s forehead. I also have a cell phone that was given to me at work. I turn it off when I get in the car. There is nothing that important that I need to screw up my driving to hear. You don’t want me talking on the phone when I’m driving, and I’d appreciate it if you’d return the favor. Oh, and all you people at the grocery store, the park and at public events, please be quiet. Figure out if you’re out of Vanilla Wafers before you go to the store.

I was at the movies a few months ago and a woman answered her ringing cell phone a couple of times and everyone wanted to stone her. It is the ultimate in selfishness to bring your world into the lives of people who not only do not care but are actively seeking to stay out of it by paying money to go into a darkened theater and escape reality for a couple of hours. After the movie, a teenager chastised her. I was stunned. I was in a doctor’s waiting room the other day and of the four of us there I was the only one who didn’t make a cell phone call in the fifteen minutes I sat there.

Cell phones are great for keeping track of your children and I highly recommend them for that purpose. They are also quite a help if you find your car dying and you’re stranded on the highway or there is some other true emergency. What I do not understand is someone who waits until they are in their car to call a friend to tell them they are going to be late. Why not call them before you get into your car?

If someone wants an entire communications system, internet and TV in the palm of their hands at all times, that’s fine with me. Just, please, use headphones, keep it down and if you crash into me while using your device in the car I’ll break it.

Peace, and quiet.

Monday, June 23, 2008

So Long, George

George Carlin died yesterday. Please see my previous Blog from May 26 to see how I feel about that. If you were never a Carlin fan please feel free to skip this. For those of you who did enjoy his comedy, I thought I’d share some of my favorite Carlinisms. They may not be word-for-word but you’ll understand

Who gave airline pilots the rank of Captain? The airline? The Captain requests that you put your seats in the upright position. Oh yeah, tell him Field Marshall Carlin says to go #!@$#@ himself.

The wrong two Beatles died.

The radar indicates a line of thunderstorms along the East Coast, but it also indicates a bunch of nuclear missiles coming at us, so I wouldn’t sweat the thunderstorms.

Nobody wants to save the world; they just want to save their little piece of it. Suppose the only reason the planet wanted us here in the first place was to provide Styrofoam and plastic bags? Some day the earth will shake us off like a bad case of the fleas.

Why does everyone carry around their own personal bottle of water now? When did everyone get so thirsty?

Maybe our loved ones aren’t all going to heaven. Maybe Grandma will end up baking pies in hell, with no oven.

If you’re not black, please turn your ball cap around.

When you get old, you can leave a place whenever you want. All you have to do is say, “I’m tired.” It’s great.

Hey, we’re bombing more brown people. Tell me when we were bombing some country that wasn’t brown? Yeah, there were the Nazis, but they were bombing brown people, and that’s our job.

Gone but not forgotten. RIP, George.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hearing a True Story

This really happened. A while back, my wife got tired of me asking, “What?” to half the things that she said to me. She insisted that I go get my hearing checked. Being a dutiful husband, and curious myself, I made an appointment with the Ear Doctor. I underwent the tests he had me take and waited for the results.

The Dr. called me in to his office and told me that I had some high-end hearing loss. He further explained that what this meant was that I needed more treble in my music to enjoy it, which was true. It also meant that I had more trouble hearing women’s voices than men’s. After I finished laughing I explained to the man why I was there in the first place.

He said that I should ask my wife to always be looking at me when she talked. She shouldn’t talk with her back to me, from a distance, or if one of us was walking away. I was very grateful when he offered to write me a note explaining this to my wife, though I didn’t take him up on it.

I did ask him what had caused the deterioration of my hearing. Was it the many very loud concerts that I attended when I was younger? Was it the weapons I had used when I was in the Army back in the Seventies? Or was it simply a function of getting a bit older?

Yes to all three was his answer. When I asked if I should turn down the music in my car he thought that would be a good idea. I don’t know about that one. Music without volume is like salad without dressing.

So, I went home and told my wife and daughter what the Doctor had told me and you’d have thought that I had just said that Martians had landed in our front lawn. I should have gotten the note. Just another tale in getting older.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

One Man’s History is Another Man’s, “So What?”

There were two historical events this past weekend, or should I say there could have been two. The horse Big Brown could have been the first Triple Crown Winner in thirty-one years but had some sort of problem and ended up last in the Belmont.

I remember the last Triple Crown won by Affirmed and told my daughter and my wife that we could have history in the making if Big Brown won the race. It could take another thirty, or fifty, years until there was another one. My news was met with a fairly resounding yawn by both of the ladies. Admittedly, I only watch the Belmont if a horse has one the first two races and Big Brown was such a prohibitive favorite that it seemed I would indeed see history.

There was no history and it turns out my wife and daughter didn’t miss a thing. I couldn’t argue with their, “So What?” on that one.

Then you have Hillary Clinton dropping out of the race and endorsing Barack Obama. See my Blog dated May 16 to see how I wanted it to end. My eighteen-year-old daughter is thrilled that Obama is the nominee. She is not thrilled because Obama is a Black man, or African-American if you prefer.

The reason she likes Obama is because of his message and his spirit. She never saw the old days in this country when Black people were fire-hosed in the streets of Selma and Civil Rights workers were murdered because they tried to help Black folks to vote. She wasn’t around for the murder of Martin Luther King or the riots that followed. I’m not sure if she’s ever heard of the Black Panthers.

She just likes Obama because of who he is and what he says. The fact that Hillary Clinton was the Woman Candidate never entered the picture for her. Woman, Black man, doesn’t matter. For her it’s, “Who do I believe?”

Whether Obama can be elected remains to be seen, but history has been made when my young daughter bases her choice on what she perceives as, “The content of his character and not the color of his skin.” I’m proud of her.

Vote, unless you don’t like any of ‘em.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The War in Juarez

My friends and family around the country are now asking me if living in El Paso, Texas is dangerous. The reason they are asking is because of the drug war going on in Juarez, Mexico. For those of you who do not know, Juarez and El Paso come together at the narrow Rio Grande. I can see Juarez from my back yard and you can walk there from downtown El Paso.

There are two drug cartels fighting over the Juarez shipping route. So far this year there have been over four hundred murders there. Six people were murdered yesterday. Not all are drug related but it seems most are. I’m not sure how many Juarez cops have been killed; quite a few. The Mexican government sent in over two thousand Federal police to patrol the streets with automatic weapons. Somehow, none of the killers are ever caught.

I can understand the concern over violence so close to El Paso, but there really is no connection. If Minneapolis had four hundred murders, I’m sure those living in St. Paul would have reason to worry. However, Juarez is in a foreign country no matter how close geographically.

For all the hundreds of killings in Juarez, there have been three murders in El Paso this year. El Paso has been ranked the second safest city, for its size, in the United States the last two years. Yet I am asked by friends in other parts of the country if I have to dodge bullets on the way to work.

When I was younger, you could park your car at the downtown bridge and walk over to Avenida Juarez. You only had to be eighteen to drink there, not that anyone ever was carded. A steak dinner was a couple of bucks and as long as you didn’t stray off the main drag it was a great place to party. Now, parents are begging their kids to stay away from Juarez.

Since 9/11 and increased security on the border the wait time to drive back into El Paso from Juarez went from about thirty minutes to upwards of a couple of hours. Right now it just takes a few minutes because not many folks are going into Juarez and the drug war is destroying tourism. It’s not that Americans are being targeted at all but a stray bullet knows no nationality.

What is the solution? Some blame the Mexican government, others the drug cartels. I’ve also heard from Mexicans that a lot of the responsibility falls on Americans, the biggest users of all those illicit drugs. It’s all a matter of illegal entities staging a battle for those billions of illegal dollars.


Friday, May 30, 2008

The Best Candy Bars

This is about Candy Bars I have known and loved. I’ll give you the Top 10 of my life. It is about candy bars only, not Good ‘n Plenty or Chuckles or Junior Mints, Raisenettes or Goobers. The Sugar Daddy doesn’t count either, although you could consider that a candy bar on a stick.

It’s my list so it really has only candy bars that I like. If it has nuts there’s a decent chance it’s on the list. If it has chocolate and nuts be surprised if it isn’t on there. Some of the candy bars have been around almost as long as I have and some have only been around a few years.

One candy bar that has been around since I was a kid is the Bit O Honey, which did not make this list. If you are over 50 and can remember the commercial with that six-headed creature that sang, “Bit O Honey goes a long, long way, if you have one head it’ll last all day,” then your brain is officially as full of useful stuff as mine. Big Hunk is not on my list either. Big Hunk of what?

Oh yeah, and just what is nougat? I’ve never known and as I was writing this I was tempted to look it up on-line, but had the will to resist. There are some things I’m just not meant to know, like that line in Elton John’s Rocket Man that goes, “I’m a Rocket Man, burning out the da da da da da da.” I could find out the real lyric but feel that it would ruin the song for me.

Anyway, here are my Top 10 All Time Candy Bars:

10. 3 Musketeers – Chocolate filled with, is that nougat?
9. Hershey Bar with Almonds – Good chocolate with nuts.
8. Payday – No chocolate, but lots of nuts.
7. York Peppermint Patty – Chocolate, and I also really like mint.
6. 100,000 Grand – Good chocolate with caramel and crunchy stuff.
5. Baby Ruth – Chocolaty, chewy, and nuts.
4. Oh Henry – Like a Baby Ruth but I like the chocolate better.
3. Mr. Goodbar – See above, but I like this chocolate even more.
2. Snickers – Good chocolate and nut taste and the best real snack
candy bar.
1. Chunky – Really good chocolate, nuts and raisins. I’ve loved this
one since I can remember.

Please don’t be offended if I didn’t include your favorite, I just don’t like Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, they have peanut butter. Whatever that is inside a Butterfinger makes my teeth ache, and so on. Hey, remember when candy bars only cost…oh, never mind.

Open wide for Chunky.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Old and Older

George Carlin was just in El Paso doing a show. I missed it because I was out of town but I have seen him twice here. This isn’t about whether you’re a George Carlin fan, though I find the vast majority of those who appreciate his humor to be male. My wife doesn’t like him.

What I’m discussing here is the joy one gets when following the career of someone you like over a long period of time. I became a Carlin fan back in the 60’s when he still wore suits and was on Ed Sullivan and Mary Tyler Moore. He was just funny to me. When he changed his act to include “dirty words” and anti-god and government rhetoric, he was still funny.

I’m fifty-four now and Carlin just turned seventy-one. That means I’m much younger than him and will likely outlive him and be very sad when I hear that he’s dead. As I get older I find that celebrity deaths bring varying degrees of sadness. Just today I saw that Dick Martin of Rowan and Martin passed away. My thought was, “That’s too bad, he was pretty funny in his time.”

Some deaths of the folks you grew up admiring get to you. I was very young when John Kennedy was assassinated but kind of understood the importance. When his brother and Martin Luther King were murdered I was a little older and I better understood what those deaths meant to the country.

Then there are the dumb celebrity deaths, mostly from excess. Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison all died within a year of each other. Why do these people have to drink and drug themselves to death? You had John Belushi, River Phoenix and the list goes on.

When you’re watching the Oscars or Emmy’s don’t you pay attention to the “Who Died This Year Segment?” Okay, I’ve never heard of many of the Costume Designers or Cinematographers but when you see someone you recognize, but didn’t know had died, don’t you turn to who you’re watching it with and say, “Hey, I didn’t know he was dead?”

I think the most common celebrity that people from my age group are surprised that he’s not dead is Ernest Borgnine. I don’t know why, I just always think he’s dead. Then I hear about him doing something and I’m happy he’s not. I will be sad when he goes.

Someday my obituary will be in the paper and someone who I know won’t see it and will be surprised when they hear about it. That’s fine, I love surprises.

Keep George and Ernest in your thoughts.