Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday afternoon

Thoughts on 'choice'

If a woman wants to have a baby or not, it's strictly her business (not the state's). Sarah Palin, John McCain's choice for vice president, doesn't sanction abortions even in the case of incest or rape.

If I were a woman, I wouldn't want to bring a hopelessly sick or deformed baby into the world and have the child suffer through a short, painful life, just to show I'm a bona fide right-to-lifer. How selfish and cruel of me.

I don't see any disconnect where a person who values the sanctity of life might choose to have an abortion and prevent a baby from suffering. While the choice would be a difficult one, in some cases it might be the most humane, "Christian" thing to do.

(And I'm not for aborting gays.) (Society desperately needs us.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday night


Today was the first Saturday since Eric left that I haven't felt like I was drifting in a dark void, with the only light (and lifeline) coming from the TV. (I'm one of those spatial synesthesia people.)

Today I went to Jiffy Lube for an oil change but first stopped to get some gas and put air in my tires (which at one point, during a driving rain, I was doing holding an umbrella). While waiting for my truck at the Jiffy Lube, there was someone in there who was almost a dead ringer for Carter Oosterhouse on HGTV, down to the long hair and all.

When I got home, I saw that my dracaena on the terrace had been blown over and its pot broken. (We have hurricanes in the area.) So I repotted it in a spare pot I had, and while I was at it repotted a ponytail palm I'd been meaning to repot for months. (I really hate fussing with plants.) I also swept out there. Now I'm washing the throw rugs and won't be putting them back out on the terrace. The cats don't need them and they get wet.

Had dinner at Flanigan's, then had a Jamba Juice and a coffee under the overhang at Starbucks, waiting for the bottom to drop out of the sky, but it never did (and still hasn't).

Later I drove to the store and bought a load of groceries--cat food mainly.

Maybe I'm in a better mood knowing that the kitchen project is being watched over by the Home Depot district services manager, rather than languishing in the hands of the ditzes who've made such a mess of it so far.

Lucky wants to go back out on the terrace. Today he was out there, sitting on the ledge. I'm afraid he'll get blown off, so he's staying in for the night. Also, they close the pool deck (one floor below the terrace) at 11:00 and if he were to fall off, it would be a real hassle trying to get him back, and he might get hurt and/or traumatized besides.

'How The Obama Camp Should Respond'

Eric Kleefeld post here.

So, how should the Obama campaign handle the Palin selection, and what is a rather obvious play/pander for suburban women who supported Hillary Clinton?

I think they should go easy on her for the next several days -- give the public some time for this all to sink in. Then really go after her, and do it in style.

It is practically certain that on the night of Palin's speech on Wednesday, we will be treated to her repeating her praise of Hillary Clinton, and the talk about how women still have a chance to break the glass ceiling. This will be accompanied by the bizarre sight of the Republican convention cheering for Hillary Clinton, all in line with the gimmick.

And the Obama campaign should be prepared. Just as John McCain bought his ad time for right after Obama's speech last night, they should get their own for right after Palin.

And here's the ad: A one-minute spot featuring Hillary Clinton herself, talking to the camera and laying into Palin on the issues, her complete lack of qualifications, and the temerity of the McCain campaign to think they could get away with this. Then she urges anyone watching who might have supported her to get out there and support Barack Obama.

Then it closes simply with Obama walking on to the set to shake Hillary's hand: "I'm Barack Obama, and I approved this message."

Lucky keeps stealing my chair

Every time I leave the room, he's back up on the chair.

I have to tell you, he and I have bonded like glue. He's constantly at my side (when not in my chair). He sleeps right next to me in the bed (against my back). (Lucy used to do that, too.) He's really a people cat. I'm so glad he joined the household. I think he's happy and he's certainly made me happy. Plus, I think Bootsy likes him now and they keep each other company while I'm not here.

Obama's speech sets record for TV viewers

And they're off and running.

Too bad Obama didn't pick a certain highly experienced, ethical woman as his running mate.

'McCain’s VP Choice Is Under Ethics Investigation For Abuse Of Power In Alaska'

From Think Progress here.

In Dayton, OH today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will announce that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be his vice presidential running mate. Palin, who entered office in 2006 after running as a reformer, is touted by conservatives as being “a politician of eye-popping integrity.”

But Palin’s reformer image took a hit last month when she was accused of attempting to get a state trooper fired. That state trooper was her former brother-in-law who had gone through “a messy divorce” with her sister. After the trooper’s boss wouldn’t act on the governor’s request, she fired him. Though Palin says she doesn’t “have anything to hide” and she “didn’t do anything wrong there,” an investigation has found that one of her aides pushed the firing . . . .

Friday, August 29, 2008

What the U.S. is all about, Part II

From the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Enough said.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What the U.S. is all about

I heard some interesting commentary at work today from a Cuban-American. The person said the U.S. is all about becoming a millionaire, and that if you don't become a millionaire you're effectively doomed to being taken advantage of by the millionaires and can never expect to have a very good lot in life.

I think it's a pretty accurate description of the Republican mindset and the way our system has been rigged during the Bush administration (and previous Republican administrations of late). It's the winner-take-all view. But the winners wouldn't be able to win without the efforts of the rest of society, and the rest of society should expect some modicum of security for their efforts. Essentially we're all in this together.

What this commentator perhaps fails to appreciate is that the United States was not founded as some sort of feudalistic plutocracy but as a democracy in which everybody counts. It's time we got back to our roots.

(My own ancestors fought with distinction in the American Revolution against the tyranny of hereditary monarchs who fashioned themselves to be ruling by divine right and without the consent of the governed.)

Obama speech a winner

See Big Tent Democrat's post here.

The language did not soar. The rhetoric, tone and demeanor were down to Earth.

I give this speech, in this place, at this time, an A+. It was the right speech, with the right delivery that needed to be delivered by Barack Obama tonight. Even towards the end, where change was the discussion point, it was down to earth. And then a quick shift to why AMERICA is great. Of course the end was the soar. But it was just the end. In the live blog I wrote: . . .

This speech will get lukewarm reviews afterwards. I give it a rave, for that very reason. He brought it back down to Earth. He rolled up his sleeves. Even the fact that his makeup is getting a bit sweaty works for him. A little rough. A little effort. A little less cool. A lot more real. This is a winner.

I stand by that.

Thursday night

As you can see, I don't have much interest in this convention. I've watched hardly any of it. I trust my favorite bloggers and some members of the news media to fill me in. Ever since Obama didn't choose Hillary for vice president, I haven't much cared. I'll vote for him but I'm not enthused. I just hope he wins. I would have preferred eight years of Hillary and then eight years of Obama, when he had more experience. But I think he can win. I think it would have been a shoo-in with Hillary as vice president.

Tonight I took a nap and then walked down to Walgreen's at around 9:00. I didn't really need to buy new plush balls for Lucky, but I thought the walk would do me good (and bought some anyway). I've been gaining a little weight since people said I was starting to look too skinny (down to 164 lbs. (74.4 kg)). (I'd been losing weight on purpose and can now fit back into some clothes.) So I've put back on 5-6 lbs. but now need to keep it there.

Thursday after work

Lucky likes going out on the terrace. Bootsy stepped out there for a minute and came back in--too hot outside for him. Maybe later. I took this shot through the sliding glass door, since I didn't want to spook Lucky. He's sitting on the 4" (10 cm) concrete ledge. (I watched him spring right up there from the dirty floor. Sorry.) He also likes to walk along the top of the glass railing, which, as I've said before, is not a flat surface--but round.

There must be a God. I found a $20 bill on the sidewalk as I was walking to the bus stop after work. Also Lucky found a plush leopard ball sitting somewhere with nearly all its feathers intact. (I thought he'd about destroyed them all--he'd probably lost track of this one.)

Kitchen update here.

Preoccupied

Sorry I've been a little preoccupied by this kitchen situation lately, but this project has to be completed. It's been dragging on since the beginning of May, and I haven't had a kitchen since July 2. I'm over it, and I've gone to TPTB to try to get things moving. The way Home Depot has handled this is indefensible, as I told the district services manager yesterday.

'Is Obama A Rejection Of "Clintonism?"'

See post here.

Last night Rachel Maddow said that Obama is a rejection of Clintonism. And I wondered, if that is so, then isn't that an argument for Clinton supporters to NOT vote for Obama? To not get over it? After all, if that were true, then the PUMAs would have a point, wouldn't they?

The fact is this is mindless nonsense from Rachel Maddow. Barack Obama is Clintonism Redux. Obama's Post-Partisan Unity Schtick is merely Clinton's 1990s Third Way for the 21st Century. Obama's victory is actually victory for triangulation. But pundits are mindless and they say and do anything to feed their freak show narratives. And Rachel Maddow is certainly among the worst at that. . . .

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday night

Here the cats are lying next to each other on a small throw rug--it's a shower mat--by the computer desk tonight. (Bootsy is actually a lot larger than Lucky.) They were playing tag earlier.

Tonight I was back at the gym after a brief nap (plus I napped on the bus). Tomorrow morning I have a nursing appointment. After work I'm going to find some more plush feathered balls for Lucky. I think I saw some at Walgreen's. He has ripped all the feathers off the balls (the feathers are everywhere) but still bats them around.

I'll definitely clean house a little bit before the Home Depot people come back in to work on the kitchen, which I hope will be soon. I'm tired of living like this:

More snags in the kitchen remodel

See here.

'After Tonight, The Republicans Hate Hillary Again'

I didn't catch Hillary's speech tonight but will watch it as soon as I can. From Big Tent Democrat. (Check out the comments also.)

What a speech! In that moment, at that time, just an unbelievable speech. If you saw it, there is nothing I can write that can do it justice.

Here's my bottom line, after tonight, the Republicans hate Hillary again. It was a dagger through McCain's political heart.

Barack Obama will be the President of the United States. But remember this, the reports of the political death of Hillary Clinton were greatly exaggerated.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kitchen update

Here. What a gruelling time I had on the phone today, but I think I was effective. This has been a horrible experience. Today took the cake.

Cats are getting along

At long last. Dare I say.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday night

Feeling perkier today. (No more blues.) I slept well, for one thing.

When I got to work today, I called the district services manager at Home Depot, who had left a message Friday on my home phone, asking me to call him to discuss the issues about my kitchen construction. I called once in the morning and again in the afternoon and didn't get through to him, though I left voice messages asking him call me at work. I'll try calling again tomorrow.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday night

Tomorrow I call the Home Depot District Services Manager and see what he has to say about the kitchen situation. Another week or so and I'll have been without a kitchen for two months. It's putting me off and getting me down. Plus I have the new kitchen cabinets sitting in the living room and all my kitchen stuff packed away. It's pretty bad. (The cabinets have been sitting in the living room, displacing my furniture, for longer than the kitchen has been demolished.)

For what I spent last night on going out, I'd have to say the net gain on my happiness index was negative, so I've been a little down today (and the beer at Jamboree, which is a beer bar, gave me a slight hangover). I was extremely disappointed I didn't run into anyone I know. I have to say (again) I miss going to my local place that closed and talking with people I know.

Having a negative experience also brought to mind the good times B. and I once had, which bummed me out more. I do miss him. Tonight I felt like walking over to his restaurant and saying hello, but I had to do laundry. He's with someone else now, so what's the point? I would just look like a fool. Maybe I'll do it anyway. I still care about him and am concerned about the situation he's in now.

(I drove back down to Jamboree at around T-Dance time (8:00), thinking the locals might be out, and they had one customer. I had one beer and left.)

Well, I have my little cat family to go back to.

The Life of Biden

See here.

But I'll get over it

I've always liked Biden. See here.

The most important factor for Obama, in selecting his running mate, should have been to ensure that the person a heartbeat away from the presidency is up to the job. Biden clearly qualifies. The second most important factor should have been to ensure Obama's election against an opponent who truly might be even worse than the worst president ever. On that, Biden was not the best choice. We can debate who would have been best, but there are at least a handful who would have been better. But Biden does bring one critically important strength to the campaign, and it is not his much-touted experience. Paradoxically, it is something for which he is also often criticized -- his oratorical skills. An already legendary speaker, himself, Obama must have taken particular notice.

And here.

Biden is a far superior choice over the other possibilities on Obama's short list: Evan Bayh, Tim Kaine, or even Texas Democratic congressman Chet Edwards. Biden brings Beltway experience, feistiness, and boatloads of foreign policy seasoning that Obama sorely lacks, and Biden knows more about sensible foreign policy than McCain, Tom Ridge, Tim Pawlenty, or Mitt Romney will ever know themselves. In fact, the Biden pick allows the Democrats to fight the GOP on turf that Obama heretofore has failed to grab and hold himself, which is the mark of a good pick.

Went out tonight

Didn't run into anyone I know but I had a nice time. It was good to get out to a couple of clubs. I enjoyed the music more than anything.

What happened to the "unity ticket"?

With the prospect of Hillary winning the Democratic nomination, the Obama people were screaming about a unity ticket, or else there would be "blood in the streets."

Now, with Obama's choice of Biden for vice president, I'm sure a lot of Hillary people feel they've been abandoned and won't vote for this ticket or will stay home (I'm kind of feeling it myself).

See here.

Once Obama made the political calculation that the personal discomfort of putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket more than outweighed the potential electoral gains, the nominee needed a way to justify his decision to her fervent supporters. Picking a first-term governor like Virginia's Tim Kaine or a political unknown like Texas Rep. Chet Edwards (who had a brief media flurry this week) would have seemed like an anyone-but-Hillary rebuff, especially since the V.P. choice will speak the Wednesday night after Clinton's name is put in symbolic nomination.

Who cares about Obama's "personal discomfort" if he could have easily clenched the election for the Democrats by getting Hillary's supporters on board? There are a lot of them (me included). It was so wrong to ignore them. (And I won't be sending Obama any money. He apparently doesn't need me is the message I'm hearing.)

See here also.

Think what you want about Biden, and I think that given Obama's stubborn and wrongheaded unwillingness to pick Hillary Clinton and put a lock on the election, Biden was the best choice politically that Obama was willing to make . . . .

I hope Obama wins the election (absent my enthusiastic support). It was his decision to actively alienate the Hillary supporters. A mistake, if you ask me. He could have sewn it up, but his ego got in the way.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Going out tonight

Maybe I'll run into someone I know.

'The right and men who live off their second wives' inherited wealth'

Glenn Greenwald here.

What's most notable about John McCain's confusion over the number of homes he owns isn't merely that it demonstrates that, after running his campaign based on depicting Barack Obama as an out-of-touch elitist and himself as the all-American Everyman, McCain lives a life that is about as far removed from the Average American as one can get, and has done so for decades. What's notable is how McCain was able to live that way. McCain himself isn't actually rich. He just lives off the inherited wealth of his much younger former mistress and now-second-wife -- for whom he dumped his older and disfigured first wife -- and who then used her family's money to fund McCain's political career and keep him living in extreme luxury (after insisting that he sign a prenuptial agreement, which would make McCain the first U.S. President to have one). . . .

Bill Scher: What Biden can do for Obama

(9:35 minutes)

Kitchen update

I don't have to write these very often, since nothing happens. And there are no pictures to put up.

On Friday when I got to work, I had a message from Home Depot's general contractor on my project. The message was that there are "problems" with the City of North Miami and that the application for a permit won't be submitted till next week. I called back to find out more. The person said something to the effect that the City rejected the company and they had to go through someone else and get it notarized, etc. She was apologetic. That was nice. I reminded her that I haven't had a kitchen since July 2.

This morning I had a Magic Jack message from yesterday afternoon. (A little slow in coming.) It was from the District Services Manager with Home Depot. He'd received my information from the corporate office and wanted me to call him to discuss further the issues I'm having with construction of the kitchen. I'll call him first thing on Monday.

Barack chooses Biden

[MOI]--

I have some important news that I want to make official.

I've chosen Joe Biden to be my running mate.

Joe and I will appear for the first time as running mates this afternoon in Springfield, Illinois -- the same place this campaign began more than 19 months ago.

I'm excited about hitting the campaign trail with Joe, but the two of us can't do this alone. We need your help to keep building this movement for change.

Please let Joe know that you're glad he's part of our team. Share your personal welcome note and we'll make sure he gets it:

http://my.barackobama.com/welcomejoe

Thanks for your support,

Barack

P.S. -- Make sure to turn on your TV at 2:00 p.m. Central Time to join us or watch online at http://www.BarackObama.com.

TGIF

But I have to go in to work tomorrow for a few hours. Glad the week is basically over. No more storm.

More bad news about the kitchen. To make a long story short, the permit application will not be going to North Miami until next week. (It should have gone there in May.) (Not my doing, or lack thereof.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama's running mate

The way the TV news is covering this topic, they're essentially saying that Hillary would be the obvious choice. Do it, Obama. Don't let your personal scruples get in the way of our prosperity.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

'Conservatives Grow Wary of Mixing Church, Politics'

As the country and the natural environment (i.e., God's creation) deteriorate, I guess they're beginning to see the error of their ways (but who am I to judge). Complete story here at The Advocate.

Social conservatives are growing more wary of church involvement in politics, joining moderates and liberals in their unease about blurring the lines between pulpit and ballot box, a new study found.

Fifty percent of conservatives think churches and other places of worship should stay out of social and political matters, up from 30% four years ago, according to a survey released Thursday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

That significant shift in conservative thought has brought the country to a tipping point on the question: A slim majority of Americans -- 52% -- now think churches should keep out of politics.

That's an eight-percentage-point increase over 2004 and the first time a majority of Americans has held that opinion since Pew officials started asking the question 12 years ago.

On this question, the gap between conservatives and liberals is narrowing: Just four years ago liberals were twice as likely as conservatives to say churches should stay out of politics. Now 50% of conservatives and 57% of liberals think that. Four years ago 62% of liberals opposed church involvement in politics. Democrats and Republicans are about even on the question as well. . . .

If Obama picks Hillary

Some Obama purists will be disappointed, but I think they'd ultimately support the ticket. (I don't think they'd stay home or, heaven forbid, vote for McCain.) Meanwhile, you'd get Hillary's supporters, many of whom are yet undecided or plan to vote for McCain, and more women voters. I think it's a win-win.

I just hope the realists in the Obama camp (if there are any, and I hope against hope) prevail. The whole point is to win this election and return the presidency to the Democrats. It's not all about Barack Obama and his high-mindedness and staying above the fray. Get into the fray and let us have a better government. (It appears he's starting to get into it now, but he still needs Hillary to get the votes he needs to clinch the election.)

Idealism is great, but winning is better.

Top story on 'Nightly News' (guess)

'Last Chance: Hillary For VP'

Big Tent Democrat has this.

Want to put the election away, Barack Obama? Yep, one more time, with feeling, pick Hillary Clinton as your VP. The most compelling reason? Obama is underperforming with Clinton supporters, the most persuadable group for him. Picking Hillary Clinton is the most powerful action Obama can take to persuade them. It is that simple. . . .

Check out the readers' comments, too.

what possible reason would he not pick her. Makes me question the brains over there. Risk a win or outright win it? Seems like a no brainer to me. . . .

I remember way back Randi Rhodes screaming for a Unity ticket when people still thought HRC would win. She was screaming that it was the only way Hillary could heal the rift, yadiyada blah, blah. Where are the screaming voices for unity now, except for BTD and a few others.

No way of knowing but if Hillary was the nominee and she didn't choose Obama, would there be blood on the streets? . . .

Inside Edition: McCain's Phoenix mansion

'Obama Himself Unleashes Broad Populist Attack On McCain'

At last! From Greg Sargent at TPM.

John McCain's number-of-houses gaffe may well be remembered as an important turning point in the campaign. It's a moment Dems have been waiting for that is serving as a catalyst for a much more intense and unified populist attack on McCain coming from many corners, particularly Barack Obama himself.

On the trail today, Obama unleashed a fusillade of populist criticism of McCain, weaving together a number of different recent gaffes or quotes from McCain or his surrogates: [watch video in previous post]

Among the various points hit on by Obama: McCain's claim awhile back that we've made great economic progress; McCain's (possibly tongue-in-cheek) claim that $5 million is the threshold for richness; Phil Gramm's claim that we've become a "nation of whiners"; and of course the houses gaffe.

Separately, the Obama campaign is apparently planning to deploy surrogates in at least 16 states to press the "houses" attack.

This gift is four-fold: It allows the Obama campaign to reclaim the offensive after a far-too-defensive stretch. It energizes rank-and-file Dems who had been hand-wringing about what they saw as Obama's unwillingness to get tougher with McCain.

It gives Obama the opening he needed to sound a more aggressive populist tone that until now he'd left to others. And it shifts the focus away from national security politics, where McCain was making clear gains, on to domestic economic issues, which are paramount in the minds of voters.

Obama attacks McCain

Latest Obama ad

Fun project at work today

I was asked to remove the taxis from this photo and leave the street (Ocean Drive on South Beach) open.

Once I got rid of the taxis, I had some filling in to do. I also added a Mercedes "Ocean Drive" in place of the car that was parked outside the hotel behind the BMW convertible.

It's still not perfect but it was a lot of fun. And, most important, everybody who matters liked it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another one

Another one

Obama ad

Latest poll

Hillary supporters make up half of the "undecided" vote. All the more reason for Obama to choose Hillary as his running mate. (Forget about Joe Biden. Jeez.)

'Obama steps up anti-McCain message in his TV ads'

It's about time. Article here.

Barack Obama stepped up his hard-edged ad campaign Wednesday, launching two tough commercials against Republican presidential rival John McCain.

One ad, aimed at the most competitive states, criticizes McCain's economic policies as a boon to corporations. The other, meant for Atlanta voters, sought to exploit a fundraising connection between McCain and a political strategist linked to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Both ads are part of a quickly evolving Obama strategy that has featured a flurry of anti-McCain spots in targeted markets across the country. It signals a shift from the biographical spots that had been dominant in the weeks after Obama secured the Democratic nomination in June.

It also puts Obama in the same league as McCain, who has been running stinging ads against Obama, including a buzz-generating spot that compared Obama's celebrity to that of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

McCain's camp continued the theme Wednesday with a radio ad on Obama's spending plans. "Celebrities like to spend their millions," says the ad. "Barack Obama is no different. Only it's your money he wants to spend."

McCain's camp continued the theme Wednesday with a radio ad on Obama's spending plans. "Celebrities like to spend their millions," says the ad. "Barack Obama is no different. Only it's your money he wants to spend."

Obama aired about 10,000 spots last week, including 9,000 against McCain, according to Evan Tracey, who tracks political ads as head of TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group.

Still, because Obama is running a positive ad during the Olympics, the widest audience in the country is not seeing the negative ones.

During the same period, McCain aired virtually all anti-Obama ads. Of 13,000 spots, only 302 ads portrayed McCain as a political maverick and did not mention Obama, Tracey said.

Obama's strategy, Tracey said, suggests that his poll numbers show that the "positive bio spots that they've been running the balance of the summer don't appear to be making any significant connection with undecided voters," Tracey said.

Several new national polls show McCain beginning to close the gap with Obama. . . .

But while the ads might neutralize McCain's anti-Obama ads, they also could undermine Obama's image as a new style of politician who rejects divisive politics. . . .

The reality is that politics is divisive, so deal with it if you want to have any chance of winning.

Obama: 'Disappointment'

See here. I'm sorry, but I have to agree. Obama may have already lost this race. See here, too ("Rove Says Obama Should Pick Hillary"). Do it. I personally think that's the only thing that can save this campaign.

Fay at 11

I see the wind speed has diminished, but it should pick up over the ocean.

Glad Fay is gone

And things are back to "normal." (Cleaned the camera lens, too. Spot gone.) I'll still wait till tomorrow before returning the furniture to the terrace.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Latest on Fay

On the way to work this morning, I saw some trees down along the sidewalk and others leaning sideways. That appeared to be the extent of the damage around here.

The accordion shutter I was having trouble with last night turned out to be OK. I slept really well last night once I got to bed. Too much excitement for one night, as they say.

Chair envy

I realize now that this is Lucky's chair when I'm not here. (I see a spot on the lens from being out in the bad weather earlier.)

Fay: Full tilt boogie

Nasty, vicious weather. And this is just a baby storm. Internet was down for a while and the power went out at least twice.

I'm trying to head off to bed but it's really kind of exciting. And to think the worst is yet to come (at around 4 a.m.). I went ahead and closed the remaining hurricane shutters. The one in this bedroom wouldn't lock, however, and I even sprayed it with WD-40. We'll worry about that later. The shutter isn't budging at this point, so I'm not too concerned. I can always have the shutter people come and fix it if I can't.

It's scary to see all that violence going on outside the window, and you're separated from it by thin piece of glass. I could get storm-proof windows, but they can get damaged as well and have to be replaced at great cost.

Monday, August 18, 2008

11:00 p.m. update

Looks like it's going to plow through Orlando.

Fay: 'Not so fast there'

Saying "bye bye" was a little premature. Even though Fay isn't plowing through Miami, we're on the strong, "dirty side" of the storm and getting a lot of wind and rain. Our most severe weather is expected at around 4 a.m. , at which time I expect to be sleeping. I've got the hurricane shutter closed and locked in my bedroom.

I put on some shorts, sandals and a plastic poncho and went on a little walk tonight. Starbucks and Jamba Juice had hauled all their tables and umbrellas inside and closed early. Publix was closed. The gym, McDonald's and Blockbuster were open. Flanigan's was open and the bar was full. (I'd thought I might stop in for a non-alcoholic iced tea but I kept walking.) The convenience store was open (got some tea there).

I shot this photo shortly after I got home. You see the palm trees outside my terrace yielding to the wind (always looks dramatic). I caught the bus home, by the way, and the buses were still running when I was out on my walk. The county won't shut down the transit system till the winds reach a sustained 39 mph (63 km/h).

When I got home, there was a notice on the door from the condo association, telling us to secure all items on our terraces. I immediately brought all the light-weight items inside and secured the rest.

Lucky is very curious about the storm and sat out on the terrace watching it for a while. Now he's watching it in this room at the floor-to-ceiling window (when he's not trying to steal my chair). (Lucky walks along top that glass railing. The top's not even flat, as you can see.)

McCain's Mansions

Obama: 'Still Unable To Connect'

Steve Soto here. I think Obama is doing a lousy job myself. I'm disappointed. I just hope he picks Hillary as his running mate. It's nice to run on "change," but Obama should never have tried to disassociate himself from the Clinton administration and hold himself out to be "above politics." He needs to embrace it.

The Clinton era was bliss compared to the mess we've had with George W. Bush. I think choosing Hillary would show we're going to pick up where we left off in the Democratic tradition and make progress once again. See here.

It’s very possible if not certain that a larger and larger part of the Democratic establishment is increasingly uneasy with Barack Obama’s chances this fall. They can point to a range of reasons, from his inability to connect with the general electorate on real issues of concern, especially economic anxieties, to his inability to define John McCain, and to his dismissal of any effective Tier Two and surrogate effort. Some are troubled that Obama still seems too focused on image and pandering instead of connecting effective campaigning with substantive politics. That is how we find ourselves with two flawed candidates tied in some national polls, even though the GOP brand is very unpopular.

There should be little surprise with all of this, although I was hoping against the facts before me that Obama would be ahead in the national polls by 6-10 points by now. Yet Obama seems to be banking on a good convention and football stadium acceptance speech to give him the large bounce that will then withstand a nasty GOP convention containing non-stop under-the-radar racism. I don’t think it will work.

We may have to accept that Obama will never connect with everyday voters, as he doesn’t take ownership of pocketbook issues and hammer 3 to 4 main tangible reasons for his presidency. We will have to accept that he hasn’t defined major differences with John McCain on the economy, taxes, trade, global warming, health care, and the rest because he is fixated on running to the center. Unfortunately, because Obama refuses to run a Tier Two campaign through an effective surrogate operation, he finds that McCain already operates in the center after redefining himself as a moderate and not as a Republican without an effective effort by Obama to define him first. Why? Because Obama disdains the politics of the present and wants to get us all to that happy place of the politics of the future where everyone gets along and gets a pony.

When Clinton tweaked Obama’s style, shallowness on the issues, and inability to connect with the general electorate on real pocketbook issues, she was branded as running a racial campaign and eagerly trashed by his supporters and the media because she was a Clinton. That was, and is, the Obama campaign’s answer to all criticism that he cannot connect, or is too focused on his image at the expense of delineating a campaign of differences: my opponent is running a racist campaign through old-style politics.

Well, now we are heading into the conventions against a guy who was allowed to define himself as anything but a Republican, while he defined Obama as a lightweight elitist celebrity more in love with his image than with real issues. We can’t say we couldn’t see this coming, because it has already played out in the primaries. Nevertheless, many of us were all-too-ready in our swooning to honestly accept that it wasn’t racism to point out Obama’s shortcomings, but simply a preview of what was to come with Obama in charge of the party. Since it was Hillary saying these things, it was easy for the Obama supporters to dismiss it and chalk it up to racism from a bitter bitch and her overrated husband. However, that didn’t make her criticisms untrue.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bye bye, Fay

Latest on Fay

You can see it beginning to cloud up here.

Here's the latest:

HEAVY RAIN MAY BEGIN TO AFFECT THE FLORIDA KEYS AND SOUTH FLORIDA LATER TODAY AND INTO MONDAY. RAINFALL TOTALS OF 4 TO 6 INCHES...WITH MAXIMUM AMOUNTS OF 10 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE FOR THE FLORIDA KEYS AND SOUTH FLORIDA.

REPEATING THE 1100 AM EDT POSITION...20.5 N...78.6 W. MOVEMENT TOWARD...WEST-NORTHWEST NEAR 13 MPH. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...50MPH.

(National Hurricane Center link located at right under "Links".)

'It's Me or the Dog'

Good show on Animal Planet. Glad I have cats, but they have their quirks, too (as well we know here). It irks me that some people think cats are somehow superior to dogs. I think it says more about the people who think that than about cats or dogs. (I love both.)

Cats are not pack animals, like dogs. They live more solitary lives, but they're no less loving or devoted to their human provider. Plus (what's important to me) they don't smell and have to be bathed once a week. And they don't need to be taken outside to relieve themselves (and catch fleas and ticks). I'd rather clean out a cat box.

A friend of mine (now deceased) never liked cats (mine included) until by happenstance he got a kitten of his own and raised her. (He found the kitten in the parking lot where he worked on a rainy day and took her home.) She became his pride and joy and was well provided for up to and following my friend's death.

I was raised with a dog myself (and had to bathe him) and never really cared much for cats until I got my own and raised her, and we became fast friends for life.

Had fun videochatting on iSpQ tonight

Kept me up late, but that's OK. I still plan on getting out next weekend, if not sooner.

Latest on Fay

It appears this storm will miss Miami, but we're still in the cone of probability. At any rate, we'll get some bad weather (but we can always use the rain).

I've got my hurricane shutters, so I'm not that concerned. The worst scenario for me would be going without electricity for days on end, but this neighborhood seems to get power restored fairly quickly. After Wilma, our power was restored in maybe two or three days. It took longer for Andrew, as I recall. There's not much to do when you don't have electricity, plus it's hot and fans don't work (much less the A/C). We would sit and listen to the radio for hours on end, waiting for the power to come back on.

Andrew was supposed to hit here (Dade/Broward county line) and ended up hitting South Dade instead. At the time, I lived on the first floor of four-plex that sat right on Arch Creek and was prepared for a flood. Instead we lost a lot of trees and roof tiles. (D. and I watched a 50-ft. ficus in my backyard topple onto the roof of the place next door.)

We had a lot of hurricanes when I was growing up here. I remember one of them inundated Key Biscayne and killed all the lawns (and probably a lot of the other plant life, but I remember the brown lawns once the water had subsided and we could pile in the car and driver over there to gawk).

I would just as soon not live on an island here, although I did live on South Beach for a while. Still it's nice having a view of the water.

Saturday Night Cabin Fever

Tonight I bought iSpQ and got connected to that. Next Saturday night, however, I plan on getting out of here for a while--and not just over to the Starbucks for a green tea. There's a gay beer/wine bar a few miles south of here, and I'll pop in there for a while. I'll take the bus. The last time I was there was with B., and we ran into at least one person we knew. Then B. never wanted to go back, which was fine with me.

I don't plan on making a habit of it. I just need to get out and be with "my people" for a while. I really miss having my place close-by and the people there I'd known for years, with whom I enjoyed sitting and chatting. Going online to see or meet people is interesting and gives me something else to do besides watch TV or play on the computer, but I think it's time I ventured back out to a gay bar. Flanigan's has a nice bar and I could walk there in three minutes, but it certainly ain't gay (it's a sports bar). I just need to go someplace where I don't have to keep my guard up and can relax and possibly see gay people I know or meet new ones.

This beer/wine place is also within walking distance of another bar, on 79th St., which I heard is a very late-night hang-out. If I feel like it, I can walk up there also and check it out. (I'd driven down there a couple of months ago shortly after 10 p.m. and it was totally dead. I didn't even bother to get a drink.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

'Putin's soul'

From Paul Krugman's blog.

Apropos of nothing much, but way back when, when George W. Bush — displaying those instincts he prefers to careful analysis — proclaimed his satisfaction with what he saw of Putin’s soul, my instincts told me that Putin looked an awful lot like Number 5 from From Russia With Love. I recently Tivoed the movie, and I think I was closer to the mark.

'Heckuva Job, Bushie'

Digby quotes from a McClatchy commentary.

Although Vice President Cheney bravely rattled a sword or two and George Bush was talking a little tougher to his old soul mate Vlad the Impaler, the simple truth is that there's not a damn thing we can do about the Russian invasion and perfidy short of nuking them. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made it amply clear that we aren't going to do that, or much of anything else beyond sending some humanitarian medical aid and supplies for the Georgian refugees.

The Georgian government made two mistakes — it took the Bush administration's rhetoric seriously and it ignored the Russians' bluster — and now both the Georgians and the world had best brace themselves for further Russian military action, economic pressure and diplomatic chicanery.

The opportunity to punish the Georgians is simply too tempting for Russia to ignore, so Putin will drag them back into Moscow’s orbit, if not Moscow’s ownership, and thus fire a warning shot across the bow of other breakaway republics that are considering membership in NATO or otherwise thumbing their noses at Putin.

Washington can respond only with tough talk. We can threaten to punish the Russians by expelling them from the International Monetary Fund and the Group of Eight wealthy nations, but with a fat bankroll bulging with Arab-size oil earnings, the Russians don’t really need to care about this.

If there's any silver lining to these dark clouds, it might be that Bush and Cheney will be so preoccupied grumbling at Bush’s buddy Vladimir and issuing empty threats that they won't have time to issue other threats or take some irrational action against the Iranians.

Things have truly come to a sorry pass when both our military and our diplomatic threats are as empty as our national treasury, and the Russians of all people can afford to laugh them off.

The lead paragraphs:

Only someone with a tenuous grasp on reality and a poor knowledge of history and the world could have looked into the flinty eyes of a onetime colonel in the Soviet KGB and "found him very straightforward and trustworthy."

That was newly elected President George W. Bush's pronouncement in June 2001, on his first meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Saturday afternoon


'Obama The Antichrist: It’s All About Scaring The GOP Base'

Firedoglake post is here.

Last night CNN aired a segment wondering aloud whether or not Obama is the Antichrist. It's just the latest step in making what ought to be an outrageous and nonsensical bit of religious nuttery into an actual campaign issue. . . .

The story that inspired the segment -- in which "Left Behind" authors Tim LaHaye and Dan Jenkins officially pronounced Obama NOT the Antichrist -- was actually a clever bit of politicking: Even though the verdict was negative, it gave the very question a veneer of legitimacy it does not deserve. It made the question seem like a serious theological problem -- one that could then be debated further -- rather than the scurrilous nonsense it really is. . . .

[T]his is yet another component of the larger strategy being planned this fall by Republicans. Like their dog-whistle racial campaign ads, these are in fact very subtle appeals -- the kind that let the McCain campaign send messages to their lizard-brain base while giving them a measure of plausible deniability about doing so. As Jane said awhile back, their strategy is to make "implicit" appeals without creating the backlash that would result from more explicit appeals.

The same theme courses throughout Jerome Corsi's smear job. Indeed, it's going to be an endless stream of this crap until November. The Obama campaign's frontal assault on these smears has been somewhat effective, but the subtler appeals have proven a thornier problem -- one that ain't going away.

From the Time article referenced in the post (emphasis mine):

A new TIME poll finds that the most conservative Evangelicals are the least enthusiastic about McCain's candidacy. Convincing them that Obama does have two horns and a tail might be the best way of getting them to vote. That's what worries Campolo, who also sits on the Democratic Party's platform committee. "Those books have created a subliminal language, and I think judgments will be made unconsciously about Barack Obama," he says. "It scares the daylights out of me."

Fay

See here.

'Fla. gov. declares emergency as storm approaches'

Story here.

Aug 16th, 2008 MIAMI -- Florida's governor has declared a state of emergency for the state due to the threat of Tropical Storm Fay.

Gov. Charlie Crist says in the order that the storm threatens the state with a "major disaster."

Forecasters warned that Fay could bring hurricane-force winds to the Florida Keys as soon as Monday.

Forecasters said Saturday that the storm could hit as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane, with winds perhaps reaching more than 100 mph. But forecasters stressed it was too early to tell how intense the storm would become.

New spam/virus threat

Full story here.

SPAM CAMPAIGNS TARGET MSNBC.COM, CNN

Spammers have upped the ante in their efforts to trick news consumers, switching from e-mails with tabloid-style headlines to impersonating major online news services. On Wednesday, e-mails that appeared to be from msnbc.com landed in inboxes worldwide, promising breaking news and confusing some recipients.

The spam unleashed Wednesday follows a massive campaign last week in which spammers impersonated CNN.com. That campaign saw 250 million spam messages sent in one intense 24 hour period, according to spam-fighting firm MX Logic Inc. Those e-mails appeared to include links to CNN's top 10 stories, but Internet users who were tricked into clicking on those links were sent instead to Web sites overseas that were booby-trapped with malicious software.

Recipients should immediately delete any unexpected e-mails purportedly from CNN, msnbc.com or any other firm that they haven’t done business with and authorized to contact them.

Users who open the fake CNN or msnbc.com e-mails and click on a link are in for a bad day if they fall for the ruse. Those who do are sent to Web sites that attempt to trick them into downloading what is described as a video player plug-in. Instead, the malicious software will infect the user's computer, ultimately giving hackers complete control over the machine. Infected computers are then used to send out even more spam. . . .

TGIF - Stoner cats

I gave the cats some catnip tonight on paper plates. You would surmise they're getting along now. Lucky took advantage of Bootsy's stoned state to get a little closer and commune with him. All Lucky really wants is to get along and party a little, if not a lot.

I'm keeping Lucky's Humane Society-issue collar on him for now, since if he jumps or falls off the terrace, it'll be easier to get him back. My phone number is on the tag. (But he also has a microchip embedded between his shoulder blades somewhere. I've felt around for it but haven't located it.) (Lucky's a very modern young cat.)

Re-joined Gay.com

I'd joined it when B. left but I was still too pissed and hurt to go there at that time. As you know, recently I joined Match.com, but I've found their response to making changes disappointing. (I guess they have to run everything by the Christian Coalition, or else they're inundated since people aren't driving as they used to and are dating from home.) If I don't get a better response soon, however, I'll discontinue that service when it runs out in three months. I should be able to change my profile without a lot of hassle, especially since I'm paying good money for this.

Have been having fun on Gay.com tonight, just looking at the people. That's enough for me right now.

Tropical Storm Fay

See here.

Movie Reviews: 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' and 'Elegy'

From The New Yorker, here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lucky progress report

(I won't report on that, since I don't want to jinx it.) Suffice it to say, Lucky and Bootsy are still co-existing and I leave them alone together when I'm at work.

Lucky's favorite playthings are pigeon feathers I find lying on the ground when I'm out walking. He's playing with one in the top photo. (He also likes the store-bought plush leopard balls with the attached feathers, which he detaches.)

Lucky steals my chair at every opportunity, such as when I go to the bathroom. Even if I'm sitting in it--and I usually sit on the edge--he'll hop up and lie in back of me on the chair. I guess it's the best seat in the house.

Beyond my chair is the card table I set up in this room to hold some of the kitchen paraphernalia, like my dish drainer and some dishes and silverware I use these days. (Everything else is packed away.) Tomorrow or the next day I'll make some chili. I store the chili pan in the dishwasher after I wash it in the bathtub. Fortunately my recipe (it's down below somewhere in the blog) doesn't require any use of the counters, such as for chopping. I have no counters. I brown the meat and add three cans of other ingredients, plus a packet of Chili-O, etc., stir and simmer.

Today I heard from the Home Depot kitchen expediter (she left a message at home rather than call me at work as she did on Monday--and I was very nice to her). The application for the general contractor's permit was sent to the City of North Miami today--not Tuesday or yesterday, as the expediter had previously said. (It should have been sent at the beginning of May.) She'll call me back next week to let me know what's going on. I'd like to see workers back in here soon. The kitchen has been dysfunctional since July 2.

With everything lying around in disarray, it's difficult to clean, but I do what I can. I think I'll hire Merry Maids or Cleaning Queens to come in after the new kitchen is installed and give the whole place a thorough cleaning.

Follow-up: 'Obama Campaign Mapping Out Aggressive Counter-Attack Against Swift-Boating'

That's good to hear. I think it's crucial. From Greg Sargent at TPM:

In stark contrast with the Kerry campaign in 2004, the Obama campaign is mapping out an aggressive counter-attack against the new Swift-Boat-Vet style book targeting Obama -- including plans to dig more deeply into the author's past statements, plans for increased surrogate action against the book, and stepped up pressure on high-level media executives to let the Obama team have air time to rebut the charges.

(They can't Swift-Boat Hillary. I sincerely hope she's the VP choice.)

'Swiftboat 2.0'

From David Kurtz at TPM.

As TPM Election Central reports, the Obama camp is coming to grips with the fact that the new book by swiftboating author Jerome Corsi isn't going away anytime soon. Set to remain at the top of the NYT bestseller list for another week, Obama Nation will test whether the campaign can mount a more effective response to such smears than John Kerry did in 2004.

'Should You Believe in Obama?'

"He may have stumbled on marriage equality and cuddled with a few homophobes, but the people who know him best swear that he’s your man." Advocate story here.

What Bush hath wrought: 'Putin's war enablers: Bush and Cheney'

Salon story by Juan Cole here.

The run-up to the current chaos in the Caucasus should look quite familiar: Russia acted unilaterally rather than going through the U.N. Security Council. It used massive force against a small, weak adversary. It called for regime change in a country that had defied Moscow. It championed a separatist movement as a way of asserting dominance in a region it coveted.

Indeed, despite George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's howls of outrage at Russian aggression in Georgia and the disputed province of South Ossetia, the Bush administration set a deep precedent for Moscow's actions -- with its own systematic assault on international law over the past seven years. Now, the administration's condemnations of Russia ring hollow. . . .

Eight years ago, the United States would have been in a position to condemn Russia for its unilateral war without necessarily seeming hypocritical. After all, even the Korean War had been sanctioned by the United Nations, and President Dwight Eisenhower had condemned the 1956 tripartite attack on Egypt by Britain, France and Israel for violating the U.N. Charter. . . .

In a unipolar world, the Bush doctrine of preemptive war allowed Washington to assert itself without fear of contradiction. The Bush doctrine, however, was never meant to be emulated by others and was therefore implicitly predicated on the notion that all challengers would be weaker than the United States throughout the 21st century. Bush and Cheney are now getting a glimpse of a multipolar world in which other powers can adopt their modus operandi with impunity. Bush's rhetoric may have sounded like that of President Woodrow Wilson, but his policy has often been to support the overthrow or hobbling of elected governments that he does not like -- and that has not gone unnoticed by countries that also count themselves great powers and would not mind following suit.

The problem with international law for a superpower is that it is a constraint on overweening ambition. Its virtue is that it constrains the aggressive ambitions of others. Bush gutted it because he thought the United States would not need it anytime soon. But Russia is now demonstrating that the Bush doctrine can just as easily be the Putin doctrine. And that leaves America less secure in a world of vigilante powers that spout rhetoric about high ideals to justify their unchecked military interventions. It is the world that Bush has helped build.

New Obama ad

From Salon's War Room:

Obama may be on vacation this week, but in his absence, his campaign has apparently settled its recent debate over whether to hit back at McCain's recent negative ads. This one aims at the one issue Republicans think is helping them -- gas prices -- and it uses two of McCain's potential vulnerabilities -- the war and the economy -- to do it. Quite a few Democrats worry that Obama isn't doing as well in polls as he should be, considering that generic ballot questions indicate most Americans would almost rather elect a communist than a Republican to most federal offices. So Obama's campaign has ratcheted up its efforts -- matched by the Democratic National Committee -- to link McCain and Bush, and this ad is the latest sign. [Emphasis added.]

I'm one of those worriers. Obama can't be on the defensive all the time. He needs to go on the attack. He can't come across as above the fray. People want a fighter. A lofty, "post-partisan" approach will never work against the dirty liars on the other side.

Certainly Obama knows how to play dirty. Or get surrogates to do it, like the Swift Boaters for Truth did against Kerry. They don't even need to lie to make McCain look bad.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'Re-Framing The Georgian Debacle'

Steve Soto here.

There are many implications to the Russia-Georgia fighting, both geopolitical and closer to home. On the world stage, it was already clear that the Bush Administration's war of choice against Iraq eliminated our ability to lecture and hold others accountable for actions like these, and it was left to the Europeans to take the lead in dealing with the Russians on this, despite the "me-too" claims from the administration that they brought pressure upon the Russians to stop this. Certainly the Georgians made a grave error in provoking the Russians, who were looking for an opportunity to demonstrate their military control over their neighbors. Unlike the misguided and misled Georgians, Putin and the Russian military knew that despite whatever bluster and encouragement these former Soviet regions and satellites heard from Dick Cheney and Condi Rice about American support, the United States was reduced to a paper tiger militarily and diplomatically by eight years of Bush/Cheney foreign policy.

We have been courting these countries on Russia’s border over the last eight years because they have oil and gas, or can be transit routes for pipelines that feed us or our allies. Some of them are led by leaders who share Bush/Cheney’s view that civil liberties and freedom are secondary to authoritarianism in support of disaster capitalism. And yet these countries will now wonder if they will be the next Georgia, subjected to the military might of Russia while waiting for an American cavalry that will never come.

Closer to home, no amount of empty saber-rattling from John McCain, written by an advisor who helped steer Georgia and the Bush Administration into this mess can hide the fact that Russia has just shown the world and especially China that America has been neutered and is no longer a credible guarantor of anything. Our economy and our people are now shackled to impoverishment caused by dependence on foreign oil produced by unreliable states, priced by economic speculators unregulated by our government, paid for with money borrowed from countries that have used globalization to run up trade surpluses deployed against our interests. As a result, Bush/Cheney will leave office with this country in a far weaker position than any administration in decades.

It would be wise for Senator Obama☼ to push back immediately against the smears against his patriotism by Joe Lieberman and John McCain, by telling the voters what role they and McCain's Georgian lobbyist advisor played in the events leading up to this debacle. It gives Obama another chance to point out that the same wrongheadedness spewed by the likes of McCain and Lieberman that ended up making Iran more powerful at the expense of our treasury and blood has also now made Russia more powerful to the detriment of the Georgian people and their neighbors.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A good laugh

In light of Bush's lying his way into invading Iraq and all the death and mayhem that have ensued, it's funny listening to him deliver threats to Russia over the conflict in Georgia. Just listen to him (mercifully, it's short).

Sunday night late

Bootsy on the floor by the computer (top). Lucky stole my chair while I was out of the room (bottom).

Talked to my old friend in Canada tonight. Today was the first anniversary of his brother's death, and he read some Bible verses at a special mass in his hometown, near the border with Maine (I believe). Had a fairly relaxing weekend myself.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday afternoon

Lucky rearranging the throw rugs and playing with his plush feathered ball.

'"Gay Street" Keeping Its Name'

Advocate story here.

A request made by Second Baptist Church of San Antonio to change the name of Gay Street, which runs adjacent to the church’s property, was denied by the city council on Thursday, reports WOAI TV.

The church wanted to rename the street “Second Baptist Way” in a supposed effort to reach out to the community. Many involved, though -- including attorney Rosie Gonzales, who participated in the hearing -- suspect the reason for the request had more to do with the controversial existing name than it did with outreach efforts.

Gay Street was named after a prominent community activist, and those who live on the street and in the general area have requested the street keep its name as a tribute.

At the hearing at City Hall on Thursday, the request was ultimately denied by a nearly unanimous vote. According to WOAI, city councilwoman Sheila McNeil requested that the name change be denied, and the council agreed.

Is coffee good for you?

Short answer, yes. Article here.

Tips from Match.com

There are a lot of them. This is one for dating off-line.

DON'T leave personal belongings (purses, wallets) or drinks unattended. Don't risk having your personal information stolen. The same goes for your drink — don't risk having it tampered with.

Tip: If you must leave your drink unattended to go to the restroom, order another when you return.

Here's another one.

DO stay sober. Refrain from drinking excessively, as it could impair your ability to make good decisions and may put you at risk.

Joined Match.com

What the heck. A Lesbian friend mentioned that today. I didn't know gays (or Lesbians) used this service. I thought I had recalled something like this (which I quote from Wikipedia): "It has been criticized for not allowing gay or bi-sexual couples on the site because it goes against the corporate value system."* But leave it up to the gays to know a good thing when they see it, and there are a lot of them there now. So tonight I wrote a profile and took some pictures with the QuickCam and submitted them. The profile has been approved but not the pictures (and they will be).

Right after B. left, I subscribed to Gay.com for a month, but I really wasn't ready for that. Also, I found it confusing to use at the time.

When I was single before B. came into the picture, I used to enjoy going on ICUII. I tried that again also after B. left, but there didn't seem to be a lot of people using it anymore, so I didn't bother to subscribe.

I'm not really looking to date, exactly. I'm looking to occupy some of the spare time I now have. I always enjoyed chatting on ICUII. I can't say that I ever got any successful dates out of it.

_____________________
*I don't understand the reference to "couples," since the site is for singles only.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

John Edwards: 'The Recent Unpleasantness'

I agree. TPM post here.

You've seen the news as our feature for almost a day now and no doubt at every other news outlet in the country. So I thought I'd share a few thoughts about the Edwards matter. His personal failing speaks for itself. And I don't think I have anything to add to the obvious. Fundamentally, it's between him and his wife and their family. And I wish them the best.

But this decision on his part involved several overlapping betrayals. And the one that is very much a public matter is his betrayal of his supporters and, really, all Democrats nationwide -- one that continued at least until he dropped out in the spring. Edwards made a strong run for the presidency knowing full well that he was carrying on an affair, at least in the early stages of the campaign, which could come to light in the midst of the general election and fatally damage all Democrats' hopes for regaining the presidency. Just think how fun this weekend would be if John Edwards had won the nomination. Indeed, it seems clear that the aftermath of the affair was such that the chances of its coming to light were substantial. It's a level of recklessness and selfishness that I probably shouldn't but still do find shocking.

One can only hope that the scrutiny into such unfortunate matters will now be applied on a bipartisan basis, as it has not been heretofore.

'Show the games live'

My reader would appreciate this story (see my post here). Salon story here.

We want to see what we want to see, when we want to see it. The TV networks had better get with the times or they're going to get left behind. Because somebody's going to figure out a way to give us what we want, when we want it and the way we want it. And when they do, we're going to give them money.

'Why watching the Olympics is torture for me'

Story here.

Everyone's excited about the Olympics. Marketing and endless hype have all good Americans whipped up into a frenzy of competition gluttony and "Go USA" zeal. And of course it isn't all hype: There's a lot to get excited about. Will 41-year-old Dara Torres strike gold in her record-breaking fifth Olympics, making 40 the new 20 once and for all? Will Michael Phelps become the winningest swimmer in history? Will the U.S. women's gymnastics team beat the Chinese, a repeat of the last World Championships? Or will the Chinese topple America's darlings, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin, proving their country's mettle and worthiness? How will the U.S. men's gymnastics team perform without their leader, Paul Hamm, the 2004 Olympic champion? Who will be crowned the World's Fastest Human after the most anticipated 100-meter race in years? And lest we forget, who will test positive for steroids?

So there's no shortage of drama in Beijing. But I confess I'm deeply ambivalent about the Olympics. To tell the truth, I usually don't watch them at all. As a former internationally competitive gymnast, I find them too emotionally complicated -- exhilarating, depressing, disappointing, maddening, transcendent, draining. I get enough ups and downs in my own life -- I don't need to borrow others'. . . .

Which brings me to the third and final reason why I haven't tuned in throughout the years. Gymnastics is an impossibly dangerous sport, posting injury rates among young athletes that rival football's. Even those who are the best can fall, with sometimes tragic consequences. In 1987, at the World Sports Fair in Japan, Julissa Gomez missed a foot on the vault, crashed into the horse and broke her neck. She was paralyzed from the fall and later died from complications. But because there is five-star entertainment value in watching these darling pixies with glow-in-the-dark smiles, we forget the inherent risks. Their taped-up ankles should remind us, but we get swept up in the glory of it all. As someone who's faced it, I know the danger in this sport is ever-present. I can't watch without flinching. . . .

Olympics fireworks artist

About that haze in Beijing

It's mostly humidity.

Olympics TV blackout

A reader writes:

I am appalled (or at least concerned) regarding the old American audacity by our media that would describe their coverage of the Olympic opening ceremonies in China as being brought to the U.S. consumer "live" when in fact the event took place this morning. China is 12 hours ahead of us. The blackout by other news media sources (traditional network/cable) just adds to this erroneous conception. To knowingly confuse an American people that sometimes are unaware of the time differences just to gain a larger audience to sell more beer and soap brings our capitalism into the range of what is more important: the sale of the latest gizmo or the latest news reported in a timely manner. As far as I can discern, the rest of the world watched the event in real time.

I don't think I'll be watching much of the Olympics myself. They don't really interest me. I would like to have seen the opening ceremonies, however, but I had to go to the gym.

'Canada Denies Entry to Westboro Baptist Church Members'

Good for Canada! Story here.

The Canadian government has notified border patrol guards to prevent extremist antigay church leader Fred Phelps from entering the country, the Canadian Press reported Friday. Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., was scheduled to take church members to Winnipeg to protest a funeral for a man who was killed by a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus. The cause of death, Phelps says, was God's response to Canada's laws allowing abortion and gay marriage.

According to the report, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day alerted border patrol about people with signs and pamphlets that fit the church's hateful messages, urging them to keep them out of the country. A group of church members was stopped at the border on Tuesday and turned away.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, Phelps's daughter, said that a smaller group of protesters will cross into Canada at a different point of entry.

"They’ll have to strip-search everyone who crosses that border, or they won’t know who we are," she told the Canadian Press. "They’ll have to see the WBC tattoo on our butts."

Tim McLean, 22, was on the bus bound for Winnipeg when he was stabbed and decapitated by a man in the seat next to him on July 30. Vince Weiguang Li, 40, has been charged with second-degree murder.

The church is known for protesting funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers and those lost to HIV/AIDS as a means to disseminate its belief that God hates gays.

The cats

I now have the cats eating together in the demolished kitchen. I had been feeding Lucky separately in my closet, but the other day when I got home from work, I saw that his plate had hardly been touched, while Bootsy's plate in here was almost empty. So Lucky had been eating out of Bootsy's plate (and Bootsy had been letting him). So I decided to start feeding the cats together, in the kitchen, where they'll be fed anyway when the kitchen is done.

Before I got Lucky, I had moved Bootsy's feeding station to this room, out of the workers' way. But since there haven't been any workers lately (and apparently still won't be for a while), I just decided to do it this way. Lucky has been a little confused the last couple of days, but I'm training him. (Bootsy was already used to being fed in the kitchen.) I've been watching them, and Lucky doesn't appear to be intimidated eating near Bootsy, and Bootsy hasn't bothered him in the kitchen.

As you can see, since I don't have counters, I use the stove top and a card table (and the floor) to put things on. I've stopped putting stuff on the ledge at the right (above the green wall, where a counter will go), since that's Lucky's runway.

UPDATE: All that said, there was a major skirmish tonight, with Bootsy going on the attack. I attacked Bootsy back. Poor Lucky--he's rattled. "My nerves" (as somebody used to say). I think I'll go back to feeding Lucky in the closet. I may shut him up in the bedroom with me tonight.

I gave Bootsy a lot of attention tonight, brushing him, etc., and then Lucky came back into the picture, and Bootsy resented it. But Bootsy has to know he can't act that out by attacking Lucky while I'm around. (All of this probably wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been here, meting out attention.) I'm sorry that I had to remind Bootsy that I'm the alpha cat around here, not him, and that Lucky is a member of the household.

UPDATE 2 (Saturday): Bootsy was happy to see me after being locked out of my bedroom all night. He even said hello. I'm not going to say anything to jinx things. Last night was upsetting, especially after I'd emailed the Humane Society last week, with photos, going on about Lucky's successful integration into the home (and then forwarded it to my vet).

Friday, August 08, 2008

Kitchen update

Kitchen update here. The City of North Miami doesn't even have the permit yet and I FedExed it to the general contractor last Friday (they received it Monday morning). It will be sent to the city next Tuesday or Wednesday. Then I was told it would take a few days for them to approve it. So it appears nothing will get done here next week either.

Heard about B.

From someone I know who used to work with him. She ran into him at a store. B. was with his new friend. She said she didn't recognize B. at first since "his face was so big" as was especially his gut. She said he'd gained 20 lbs. at least. (I haven't seen him lately.)

I guess B. and I diverged on this issue (getting fat), even though he accused me of getting fat before he left. I've lost at least 10 lbs. since he left and have gone back to the gym on a regular basis after my shoulder healed (almost). B. didn't "like" the gym when he accompanied me to work out (the way he doesn't like mushrooms or soup). I'd bought him a year's membership as a birthday present and he could have taken dance aerobics classes, since he loves to dance. The gym has a lot of different programs and B. had a lot of time on his hands, but he used it to cheat around instead.

I hope his new friend likes chubby. (I'm not into that, but I loved him anyway.) B. was very attractive when we first hooked up (as was I, I guess, and still try to look half-way decent, and I'm 14 years older than B.*). We all get old--there's no escaping that--but we can counteract aging. I'm sad that things didn't work out.

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*At the time we met, he insisted he liked "older men," so I (somewhat reluctantly) went along with it.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thursday

Still no word from Home Depot. I think I'll call the store tomorrow and try to talk to the designer, if she's on duty. The reason I decided to do this remodel through Home Depot is that there's a store right down the street, and it's very convenient for me to go there. There's even a bus stop there in case I need to stop in after work.

The cats continue to get along better. I'm not going to worry about them anymore. I think I'll also discontinue the cat box in my bedroom. Lucky, being a kitten still, likes to play in it and has strewn litter all over the floor. (I had been keeping the box in my bathroom, but I closed off the bathroom at one point so as not to give Bootsy the opportunity to corner Lucky in there and start a fight.) Meanwhile I have two litter boxes in a hall closet in the main part of the house, which I think are sufficient. Lucky uses them also. I'll just vacuum up the strewn litter with my electric broom and put it back in the cat boxes. (There's a lot of it, so I'm not going to waste it.)

Wednesday night

No word from Home Depot so far this week. I'm not going to call them. I've done everything I can do. The ball is in their court and they already dropped it.

When I got home after work today, the cats gathered around me here at the computer, waiting to be fed. Lucky even went up and kissed Bootsy on the muzzle, and Bootsy didn't recoil or attack. That's a lot of progress.

Tonight they've been chasing around the apartment a bit, but nothing serious.

So I'll try to banish all thoughts of coming home from work and seeing blood on the floor.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Olympics are coming. Time for some Chinese culture.

From The New Yorker:

Few citizens of China stand to benefit more from this summer’s Beijing Olympics than classical pianist Lang Lang. Lang Lang will be a ubiquitous Olympic presence. Bookstores will feature his new autobiography, “Journey of a Thousand Miles,” along with his best-selling album, “Dragon Songs.” Theatres will later screen “Lang Lang’s Song for 2008,” an adoring documentary. In the realm of high culture, he is China’s first crossover star.

Here's Lang Lang performing at Carnegie Hall with his father, Lang Guoren, who plays a two-stringed Chinese instrument called an erhu. I love the sound of it.

Here's Lang Lang playing Chopin's "Black Key" ├ętude with an orange.