31 August 2005 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

Q. How do you know there is a teenager in the house?

A. The icetrays in the freezer are empty.

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31 August 2005 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

My father died on May 7. He was 82. He and my mother were about seven weeks shy of their 60th wedding anniversay.

The other day, a friend of mine asked why I thought their marriage has lasted so long. The question was made more poignant because I am twice-divorced, the friend who posed the question is divorced, and my brother is divorced.

Here are my thoughts in response to that question:

I think my father was in charge. I don’t mean that he was a dictator or anything–he certainly wasn’t–but that it was established early that he would have the final say in things. This got worked out when my grandfather had a heart attack in the late 1940s.

At the time, my father was doing research at the Ag. Experimental station in Virginia Beach and planning to get a Masters. My grandmother–his mother–wanted him to come home and work the farm. He did. My mother told me many years later that she didn’t like it when it happened, but that it had worked out for the best.

I think from that point it was pretty much established that, if she had 50 votes, he had 51. But there were damn few decisions that came down to that kind of vote–changing jobs, which he did a couple of times, and always successfully–was the primary one.

Don’t think I’m saying the man has to be in charge. What I am saying is that a couple has to recognize that there are going to be some decisions come along that one person just isn’t going to like, and he or she has to live with them and make the best of them if the relationship will survive.

It’s called “compromise,” my friends. And compromise means that sometimes we don’t get what we want.

I also think that they had plenty of friends, relatives, and acquaintances. One thing I believe is that men and women–especially women, perhaps, these days-expect too much from their partners. I don’t think a husband or wife can be spouse, lover, best friend, confident, and social buddy all in one. No husband can be the kind of friend a best girlfriend can be for a woman. No woman can be the same kind of friend that a best guy friend can be for a man. Men and women are simply wired too differently in what they want and expect from their friends.

Yet families these days are so separated from having nucleus or a circle of friends–how many people don’t even know their neighbors?–they expect their partner to fill all the roles that several people are needed to fill. And the partner will certainly fail, because it’s just too much to ask.

I also don’t think that either my father or my mother thought he or she had a “right to be happy.” There is no such right. They thought they had a responsibility to try to do good. They did, and, as a result, they were happy.

I spent a lot of time on the support boards when my marriage was entering the slow break up. One thing I saw over and over again was the statement, “I have a right to be happy.”

What a red flag! It was immediately followed by some kind of justification for doing something bad–having an affair, gambling away the savings, running away from responsibilities.

There is no “right to be happy.” Rather, there is an obligation to do one’s duty. That is the highest calling.

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31 August 2005 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

I know one person in New Orleans, at least as well as you can know someone with whom you’ve traded newsgroup posts for almost 10 years.

We heard from him today. He posted today to alt.aol.tricks, where we hang out, that he got out. He’s safe with his family at his sister’s in western Florida.

The Philadelphia Inquirer filled two thirds of the front page with this picture. The little tiny web-based JPG does not do the printed version justice.

It shows a sea filled with the roofs fading off towards downtown in the background. The picture at the link is too small show the blue expanse of what used to be Lake Pontchartrain filling the streets and yards and alleys of what used to be a city.

I can’t say I’m surprised at reports of looting. Those who could not or chose not to evacuate pretty much have nothing left–no food, no water, no spare clothing. Nevertheless, I can find no sympathy for those who have chosen to take advantage of this disaster to stock up on DVD players, televisions, and other such luxuries. And I wonder, how many are stocking up on guns and ammo?

And, for that matter, what are they going to plug all those Xboxes into, anyway?

Stray thought–not only have I-10 and many other highways collapsed along the Gulf Coast. So to has the “information super-highway” collapsed along the coast. I can type all I want, but the people I’m typing about will probably never see it. By the time they are online again, today will be old news.

Granted, there will be information backroads–reporters and relief personnel with fresh cell phone batteries and satellite connections, but a lot of the news will have to come to us the 20th century way–from people on the ground relaying what they are seeing and hearing by telephone, from garbled government press releases, and from eye-witnesses as they are debriefed after each day’s work.

I feel as if, since I am so bold as to put comments about this in a public place, where anyone can read them (whether or not anyone does), that I should be able to find more to say–something with profundity, with power, with import.

But I can’t.

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30 August 2005 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

The local rag ran an article today about what universities in the Philly area are doing to introduce students from out of town to life in Philadelaphia. Apparently, two of the three indigenous foodstuffs played a big role in this: soft pretzels with mustard and cheesesteaks (the third, scrapple, was noticeably missing from the festivities).

And, indeed, one of the true pleasures of living in the greater Philadelphia Co-Prosperity Sphere is the cheesesteak sandwich. Those who have not had one have missed a unique gourmet–well, gourmand–pleasure.

If you are interested in trying one, remember this: if you are in a restaurant more than 35 miles from the statue of William Penn on Philadelphia City Hall and reading a menu that refers to a “cheesesteak,” be skeptical; if the menu says “Philadelphia cheesesteak,” be prepared to file a consumer complaint for fraud, because the odds are that it is not cheese, nor steak, nor Philadelphia.

Not long ago I was down home in Virginia in a little locally-owned sandwich shop that advertised a “Philly Cheesesteak” with Swiss cheese. Now, Pat Oliveri, who invented the cheesesteak was not Swiss. He was an Italian from South Philly. Provolone is Italian; Mozzarell’ is Italian; Swiss is–well, it’s not Italian.

The “Cheese” refers to real cheese, Italian cheese.

Oh, yeah, and sometimes you see these pseudo-cheesesteaks made with “Cheez Whiz.” Cheez Whiz is not cheese. It’s “pasteurized process cheese spread.” Whatever that is, it’s not cheese, hence it does not make the cut for cheesesteaks. And the cheese goes above the bread and below the meat, not on top of everything. (Although, when mixed with the right proportion of dry sherry, as I watched the barkeep do in the Lobby Bar at the Algonquin Hotel once, Cheez Whiz becomes quite a nice treat to spread on crackers.)

The “steak” refers to steak, thinly sliced. Ground beef is not steak. “Steak-ums” are not steak. (I searched the web and could not find any recent references to “Steak-ums”–maybe they have attained the oblivion they deserved).

And the bread–crusty Italian bread. Bread that won’t sog or leak when loaded with that succulent mixture of cheese and steak.

Canonical toppings include sauteed mushrooms or sauteed onions, but not both together. Mixing them is not canonical.

Cheesesteaks do not have spaghetti sauce on them. They may have pizza sauce, in which case they become “pizza steaks.”

They do not have fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on them. That’s a Cheesesteak hoagie.

If you put catsup or mustard on them, the cook will laugh at you when you leave the steak shop.

If the Cheesesteak is properly prepared, it needs no further adornment than the basic ingredients. It is a feast by itself.

I have heard rumors of acceptable Cheesesteaks in Phoenix and Jacksonville. In both cases, the proprietors of the steak shops are said to be transplanted Philadelphians who have their bread flown in daily from the Amoroso Baking Company.

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29 August 2005 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

This is old news, but it’s so strange I can’t pass it by. Here’s the lead:

Springfield police got a call Sunday afternoon that sounded like crazy fiction.

A naked woman, locked in the bathroom, was tearing up and flushing a $90,000 work of art, the frantic caller reported.

It turned out to be true. According to police reports, a Springfield woman played Lucy to a neighbor’s Charlie Brown on Sunday, when she allegedly stole and destroyed a one-of-a-kind Peanuts cartoon storyboard.
And yes, police say — she was naked, in the bathroom, flushing it down the toilet.

Read more about it here.

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29 August 2005 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

A bar in Ocean City, Md., has a novel promotion. It’s goal is to attract women customers during the waning days of summer, so that guys will come in a drink.

So they running a contest. The winner gets breast enhancement surgery. Read more here.

I’m sure there’s some kind of deep commentary on human nature and our society here, but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what it is. Just seems like a silly and superificial incentive that’s attracting silly and superficial people who have one thing in common–an obsession (as opposed to a mere fascination) with female appendages.

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28 August 2005 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized

This is where my son went today. The girlfriend of one of his friends really likes rats.

All I can say is, “Oh, my.”

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28 August 2005 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Every working day I am puzzled by this: On my way to work, I cross a bridge, then get on a four-lane limited access highway (not quite interstate quality). After a couple of miles, this highway merges into an interstate. We come down the ramp and do not have to change lanes, because at this point the interstate goes from two lanes northbound to three lanes northbound.

Yet, every day, I see persons come down the ramp. There is no traffic in the (new) right lane. So they automatically merge to the left into the center lane and proceed to drive slower than anyone else.

Anyone who can explain this behavior is ready for a Ph. D. in psychology.

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This site is running on a IBM PC 300 (that’s a Pentium 300 machine that was rescued from the boneyard) under Slackware Linux 10.0 with the Apache webserver v. 2. The blogging software is WordPress with the Connections theme.

I’m running the Firestarter firewall and F-Prot anti-virus for Linux. I’m still looking for an HTML editor that I get along with to use on this box.

I been messing about with Linux for about six months and am just barely beyond complete newbie, but I find this machine, as old as it is, is faster than my Celeron 1 GHz box with Windows XP sp 2. I don’t think I’m much longer for the world of Windows, at least for my home computers.

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27 August 2005 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

After poking at it all summer, I’ve finally got this thing working and now I don’t know what to say. But I will come up with something, never fear.

And no, the picture on the banner is not where I live; it’s where I grew up, but it is Pine View Farm and it is still in the family.

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