I get so damn tired of people asking me for advice, my taking the time to give it, then they either keep asking the same thing over and over again (like the answer’s gonna change) or they do whatever the hell they’re gonna do anyway, all advice be damned.

I try to stay up on the latest technologies and user reports on different electronic gadgets, brands and models. In my circle of friends, I’m considered fairly knowledgeable about various features, both in benefits and shortcomings. And I really don’t mind imparting what I’ve learned to anyone who asks. I’ll even research an unfamiliar product to give them a better formed opinion.

The problem is certain people can’t seem to make any decision and keep asking me the same questions, as if I hold some magic answer to ease their namby-pamby, hand-wringing. I could almost understand this anal-retentive behavior when it comes to large ticket items but what really drives me up a wall is …

Well, let me relate a recent incident.

I know this guy, even consider him a friend somewhat. This, in spite of the only time hearing from him is when he wants someone to baby sit his neuroticism over breaking loose with a buck.

I happen to be the unfortunate one he calls about technology related issues or products. Now this man is perhaps either one of the most technology deficient individuals I’ve ever known or just one of the laziest. Add to that, one of the cheapest S.O.B.’s I’ve ever known.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind somebody trying to save a buck. That’s why I try to help in the first place. But when people with money run around crying poor mouth all the time, agonizing over every single dollar as if it were their last, it makes me crazy.

This particular person is a retired firefighter, a Captain from a large, well funded fire district. His monthly stipend is conservatively around $3,500. It would have been roughly double that but he was taken to the cleaners by his wife of 25 years, taking half his pension along with other considerable nest egg savings. Raw deal? Sure.

Originally I had empathy for the guy because of the hosing he got (she abruptly left him for another guy she’d known before they were married.) But after awhile the story gets old and weary.

But emotional issues aside, $42,000 a year plus social security and other investment income hardly qualifies this guy as destitute. Except maybe in his mind.

He calls me, first and foremost, because he knows I won’t charge him anything. Truth be known, I suspect that may be the only reason he calls me. It must be, because he sure never takes my advice. At least not for the first 8 or 9 times, anyway.

And that’s what drives me to distraction.

Not content with my answers to move forward, he continually keeps asking the same ones over and over again, delaying his purchase. Re-explaining my recommendations to him repeatedly takes considerable time on my part. When I finally get terse, he gets offended. I can’t help getting real with this guy ’cause my cats getting tired of being kicked after each phone call. It’s to the point where she goes into hiding every time the phone rings.

I’m not a salesman, factory rep or any other paid consultant whose job is to help steer people to or away from a certain product.

I work for myself and this represents time for which I’m not getting paid. He calls me anytime that’s convenient for him (did I tell you he’s retired?) almost as if I’m his personal help desk. Maybe I’d feel different if I had a job where I was being paid to sit and talk on the phone all day but that’s neither my situation nor would be my choice.

And as I said, I could almost understand his behavior over large ticket items but this guy bugs the living crap out of me for several weeks over which $39 printer or $89 digital camera he should buy. This is the same guy who never once consulted me or needed my opinion to buy his home or any of several new vehicle purchases. Must be hell to be so damn broke. I mean, come on!

It should go without saying, this man has never once offered to pay me anything for my services. He simply picks my brain and when his neurosis has subsided, makes his purchase, takes the gain and I never hear from him again… at least until he needs something else or if he can’t figure out his new toy.

This is the kind of fellow who ruins it for everyone. He gets what he wants and goes away. Doesn’t even call to say thanks or report how he likes the item. I don’t even want to help anybody anymore. The only saving grace is I know they’re not all like him. Some people can make a decision, do appreciate my help and even call me to thank me afterwards.

There are some who really can’t stretch their budget to afford the $20 upgraded model, opting instead to offer payment for my services. I regularly decline but appreciate the gesture. Most often I’m just glad to help them get the most bang for the buck.

As for others, I don’t know. They leave me clueless… which is exactly where this “friend” would be if it weren’t for me. But I guess he’d probably just find some other host to parasite on. After all, people like me are a dime a dozen, aren’t we?

Jeez.

OK. Here’s your Doodle-O’Da-Day. Saw it on a bumpersticker and thought I’d draw it out, complete with caption:
“I hope to die in my sleep just like Grandpa,
not yelling and screaming like those other people
in his car.”

grandpa.jpg

C’ya!

Posted by: zycos | August 28, 2007

Too little… too late.

You know, I’ve always had a secret desire to be taller. Not just tall like some folks. That carries around its own set of issues.

And not really tall, because nothing is designed to accommodate people who are really tall. They have it about as rough as those of us considered height-challenged.

No. I would like to be only a ‘little’ taller.

Like when I try to reach something on the top shelf of my kitchen cabinet. I jump onto the edge of the counter, balancing myself on one knee while desperately trying to reach whatever object I need. Forbid getting a chair. That would mean having to drag the thing almost five feet from the table, only to put it back again. Besides the last time I tried using a chair, it slipped out from under me and left me hanging on the cabinet door for dear life. No sir. Can’t trust them chairs.

Changing a simple light bulb usually presents a height challenge to most people but changing one in a basement is pretty straightforward. The lower ceiling height makes the fixture easily reachable. Except for me. Like an awkward ballerina, I stand on my tip-toes, body fully extended with one arm reached straight up, head down, using my fingertips to unscrew the burned out bulb.

More often than not, the bulb is installed with gorilla-like force (sorry, wife) and I can’t summon enough pressure at my fingertips to break it loose. Usually the bulb is very hot from being on (or else I wouldn’t have been able to locate it in the first place, duh!) and I burn my fingertips.

Frustrated, I begin jumping at it, making twisting motions with my hand only to wrench the globe from it’s secured metal base. Angry at her for installing the light bulb so tight, I leave the darkness, go upstairs toward the beckoning light. I grab a beer and sit in front of the TV, the source of that light.

My wife does laundry using a flashlight for several weeks afterward or at least until she reminds me I was the one who replaced the bulb last. Resigned and a bit humbled, I drag the chair from upstairs and pliers in hand, remove the resistant bulb base. (Note to self: Make certain electric is off… next time.)

It’s not just vertical space that drives my angst but horizontal challenges, as well.

Needing something under the bed always seems to be just out of my abbreviated reach. Using the handle end of a broom, I try to coax the elusive object from it’s dark, safe space. As my cajoling subsides and my impatience intensifies, I sometimes get carried away. Some might say, “fixated” until …. Bam! There goes the bedside table lamp, alarm clock and of course, with it all… my water filled drinking glass.

Or when something rolls under a large, heavy, immovable object like, say, the entertainment center. Lying flat on my stomach, I extend my arm and fingers as far as I can. Oooo…it’s right there! I can feel it! Unfortunately feeling it is all I can do since it’s just beyond the grasp of my stubby, little fingers. Did I say immovable? It all seems to move quite readily as I use it for leverage and the whole structure starts to pivot, perilously forward. Maybe it’s only stationary from a lateral point of view. Hmmm.

I really sympathize with anyone shorter than me. I mean how do they cope? And I know for a fact, taller people fancy themselves superior to anyone over whom they tower. I know this because on those rare occasions when I find myself around someone shorter than me, I feel empowered. I’m told several psychotherapy sessions might ferret this latent aggression out. I don’t know. I don’t care. Just so long as I’m taller.

And buying clothes for little people is next to impossible. Especially rotund little people. Ever try to find off-the-rack pants where the waist size is almost one and a half times bigger than the inseam? Don’t laugh. I said “almost” and I’m doing leg stretching exercises.

My home is filled with solutions in an attempt to mitigate my shortness. I have extend-a-reach tools, add-an-arm extensions, a segmented ten foot pole and a whole host of other “As Seen On TV” aids and handy devices for little people. Trouble is, I can never find them when I need them. Seems my grandkids love playing with them, trying to grab each other, acting like little robots and who knows what else.

I’ve probably spent hundreds of dollars on these devices over the years only to not find a single one in my time of need. Amazingly and only after I’m helplessly lying on the floor, my dear wife is able to produce just the right tool to have prevented me from overextending my reach. I suspect a conspiracy. After all, I do have a fully paid life insurance policy and she is the named beneficiary along with my grandchildren.

Since you’ve read this far, I’ll assume you now have some degree of empathy or sympathy for my height plight. As such, I feel emboldened to share with you an intimate confession. Note: If you’ve only read this far because you’re amused, your tallness is showing.

When driving, I’ll sometimes move my seat as far back as I dare, just to let the outside world think I’m much taller than my mini-stature would present. I actually drive around like this for awhile. But then my arms get tired of being so extended, my toes barely reaching the pedals, I begin to worry about performing evasive maneuvers in an emergency. I move the seat forward to it’s factory pre-set “Midget” position. You know, the one that puts my life in danger from the explosive impact of the air bag? I could turn it off but somehow that’s more of an unbearable admission to my ‘short’coming.

And not that it makes any real difference but I’m not the only one affected by shortness. You, regardless of your height, have been impacted also.

Admit it. You were disappointed to find out your favorite male movie star had to stand on a wooden box just to appear as tall as his leading lady. Kinda ruined the whole persona for you didn’t it? Box office mega-mini males like Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise and even… oh no… not Arnold Schwarzenegger. Say it ain’t so! Not the terminator?!? Not the guv’na!

OK. Maybe Arnold will never grace the cover for Randy Newman’sShort People” song but he isn’t as tall as they make him look on TV. Large, yes. Tall, no.

You want proof of the trickery? Remember ‘The Green Mile‘? There was a main character named John Coffey played by Michael Clarke Duncan, an excellent actor. The first time you saw him, I’ll bet you were awed by his largeness. I was. Creative camera angles made this man appear larger than life, literally. But that’s how it’s done in Hollywood. Maybe I should move there.

I know how disillusioned I felt upon learning Raquel Welch, that sex goddess from ‘One Million Years B.C.’, was only about 5’3″. Man, she looked so tall and leggy in her movies and those scantily-clad posters. Damn it all!

But then again, if she was as tall as they made her seem, she probably wouldn’t have had anything to do with a short, little guy like me. Oh wait. That’s right. She never did have anything to do with me. At least she never returned any of my personal, intimate letters.

(-heavy sigh)

Where’s that damn chair?

OK. Here’s your Doodle-O’Da-Day.

taller.jpg

C’ya!

Posted by: zycos | August 27, 2007

Craigslist, Ebay and Flying. All one and the same?

The owner of Craigslist needs to take a serious look at the airline industry.

One time, long ago, boarding an airliner and flying to a far-off destination was part of an exciting and fun adventure. I looked forward to it as much as my destination. But over the last several years, flying anywhere has become a complete pain in the arse.

With all the restrictions, conditions, admonitions, requirements, late arrivals, layovers, stayovers, cancellations and delays, not to mention having my private parts x-ray’d, I’d rather take a beating than fly. In fact a beating is what I sometimes endure, preferring driving to flying, even when time is critical.

Too many times, too many people have been completely abused by the airline industry. From detainment to strip searches and other horror stories, if there was another way of getting someplace as quickly as the flying part, the airlines would find themselves out of business in less than a day. That’s how bad the airlines have sh*t on themselves by continually abusing their customers.

They’ll tell you it’s unavoidable and all in the name of security and providing better service. How secure can anyone ever really be going 550 mph through the air in little more than a jet propelled aluminum stovepipe? And service? If ever an oxymoron exists, it’s in the name of “airline service.” Same for “airline food.” Kind of like “military intelligience.” But I digress and it’s getting late so, back to Craigslist.

I admit, I’ve used Craigslist several times and even sold some things occasionally. But sometimes getting an ad to stay posted on Craigslist is something akin to getting free publicity on C-Span.

Most of the time it’s far too restrictive and conditional for even casual use. More often than not my ads are canceled, returned with their infamous “Flagged for Removal” email notification.

If I hadn’t read the posting rules to the point of almost knowing them by heart, I wouldn’t complain. But I’ve read them all and re-read them each time one of my ads are abruptly removed.

For my part and to my credit, I try to keep all my ads in their proper classification and not (purposely) abuse their service. But many times, even staying well within their own rules, my ads get kicked. And I’m damn tired of it.

In the email telling you the ad has been removed, Craigslist admits that 2% of all ads are mistakenly flagged for removal. This is supposed to make my feel better? I strongly suspect the true rejection rate is much, much higher.

My ads have been kicked after posting because I used a webmail address for posting verification. That’s obviously a big no-no to Craig. Only after I formally registered with Craigslist, did they accept the same address as being “valid.”

Among the fast and hard rules, I find the one about multiple postings, absurd.

First off, it is sometimes desirable to post an ad in several locales, even neighboring cities at one time. (I mean, Craig, do you think that might be a possibility, this being the world wide web and all?? I understand your paranoia over multiple posts and the fact too many lowlifes would abuse the service if some sort of parameters weren’t set, but come on! Your all-too-strict rules are crippling the potential of such an otherwise great service. Let’s show a little common sense.)

And what about a 45 day listing period? After the first one or two days, your ad becomes so buried no one sees it anyway. But you can’t re-post the same ad within that time period or it’ll be refused. Shame on you for trying to stay on top. Forty-five days? Is that really necessary? What are we selling, houses? Jeez.

Admittedly, it is a good service overall and one that is free. Maybe it’s become too good a service. A victim of it’s own popularity.

What we see here is a site with no direct competition to create a more reasonably accommodating listing experience. A better way of saying this is, Craigslist has become a legend in it’s own mind. That’s evident the first time anyone reads their list of fines clause written into the Craigslist TOS. Up to $3,000, if you don’t want to bother reading it for yourself.

Ebay is another prime example of a major service too impressed with it’s own success and importance. And Ebay, despite it’s financial success, is failing in the eyes and hearts of many once loyal, followers. I count myself among them.

Continually higher fees, more restrictive rules and conditions all contribute to the decline of an internet site or any business for that matter. Once powerful, these companies forget it was their initial openness and friendliness that brought attention and success to their original model.

If it’s too restrictive or becomes too moribund under it’s own rules and procedures, the very people who made it work will look elsewhere. Easier, simpler, better value, friendlier service are still the time tested virtues of the business world, online or off. At least as far as customers are concerned.

Most of us, begrudgingly, still use Ebay. But like the airline industry, if another auction service were to come along capturing that same excitement Ebay once held for it’s audience, we’d jump ship in an instant. No amount of one-day special reduced fees could compensate for lack of true customer appreciation.

So too, with Craigslist.

How about it? Anybody out there want to start a free, classified site capitalizing on the weaknesses and restrictions of Craigslist. I, for one, would welcome it. Let me know.

OK. Here’s the Doodle-O’Da-Day. Conserve nature. Plant a tree.. or kill one by digging it up.

treeman.jpg

C’ya!

Posted by: zycos | August 21, 2007

“All your base belong to us.”

Remember that phrase? Of course you do. It wasn’t THAT long ago. It aptly describes how I’m feeling today as I look around my computer room.

Somehow, at some point I lost control… or maybe it was just all taken from me… or maybe I never really had any in the first place, I don’t really know. What I have figured out is, probably the only thing of which I have any real certainty of … maybe,

I think… no, I know… I hate computers. (heavy sigh.) Really.

I think back to what my life was like BC (before computers) and I really miss those less complicated, simpler days. Now before you go off thinking I’m crazy or just getting too old, let me explain.

I look around my computer room and realize there isn’t even one small inch of uncovered horizontal space anywhere. The bookcases, the countertops, even the wall recesses once used for indirect lighting are all now occupied by computer sh.., er, stuff.

I mean there’s just about enough room on the floor to move my chair from under my desk, restricted by the computer carcasses lying all about in various stages of disrepair.

My office isn’t a small one. It’s dimensions measure 12’x 14′ not including the closet, which is stuffed too, btw. That’s almost 200 square feet of space, something equivalent to a one car garage, without the car.

All that would be bad enough but for the spillage. The spillage represents all the other places in the house and garage and storage areas that have given their all in advance of the all-consuming computer creep. It’s like something from a cheap sci-fi flick.

And it’s not limited to just horizontal space either. Oh no. There’s several old Mac Quadras, a PowerMac and two 20″ Mitsubishi monitors stacked like building blocks to the ceiling, silently sitting in one corner. Do they work? I dunno. Used to… I think.

And boxes and boxes of parts, and miles of wires and ribbon cables. And switches and hard drives and old video cards, oh my! Video cards?

Think about it. To you gamers: Is there anything more coveted than that powerful, new video card or as worthless as the last one? You know, the one less than six months old. The one you’re still paying for on your credit card? Or would that be… your mom’s credit card? (ouch! – Sorry.)

But gamers aren’t the only ones sucked into this vortex created by ever-evolving computers. I have bags of old EDO, FPM memory sticks, parity and non-parity, simms, dimms, PC100/133, some backward compatible, some not… and on and on. Is there anything more worthless than an FPM parity memory module?? (besides hundreds of CD-R’s full of downloaded old upgrades, I mean.)

Why do I still have all this stuff?

Just because fifteen years ago I waited in line for 12 hours to get my hands on an 8 meg memory upgrade at the super closeout price of $800, doesn’t mean I should keep it F-O-R-E-V-E-R!! … Does it?

Not too many years ago my entire life fit into two medium-sized, cardboard storage barrels. Moving someplace new was a very simple thing. Both barrels easily fit into my small Honda Accord and on short notice I could be on my way to anywhere. I even had room to recline the passenger seat for overnight travel.

Then I got my first computer. An Amiga. It was so simple back then. One little 7 megahertz computer with a 13” monitor. That’s how it all started so innocently. Then an improved model came out and I had to have it. Then the next… and the next… and the next… and… like the worst crack whore, I was addicted for life.

And life is what I mean, literally. I often think, when I’m on my deathbed, if I’ll look at the time I’ve used up sitting in front of a computer. I’ll probably feel like I’ve been self- incarcerated for a long time, having missed many of life’s bigger and more important moments. Will it all have been worth it, then?

What would I give to get that incredible amount of my time back? How would I spend it? With my family? My friends? Traveling? Enjoying the great outdoors? I wonder. If I could recover all those days and nights spent troubleshooting, repairing and learning computers, it would probably extend my life by at least 2 decades, not to mention lowering my stress levels.

And my friends? Oh, I’ve got LOTS of them. They call me whenever they have a computer problem, need a cheap system or can’t install some new application.

Oh, my “real” friends? Well… I don’t have too many of them. Only about 1 or 2, by actual count. And one of them is who I go to for technical help when I’m stuck!! Jeez, what a vicious cycle!

You hear the term “interactive” used a lot when someone’s talking about computers. I find that odd because if there’s one thing you stop being when using a computer, it’s interactive. At least with other humans, anyway.

And even with computers. True inter-activity means a give and take, or exchange of thoughts, ideas or actions. Try expressing yourself to your computer as to how you think it should operate. See how far you get. Go ahead. I dare you.

About the only people who can truly interact with a computer is a programmer. And they don’t have any friends to begin with. Too weird. They might know other programmers and even go to lunch with one occasionally but that only serves to illustrate my point. It’s a closed system. A ‘goto’ loop routine. Something only they would understand… and appreciate.

I’m gone but not that far gone. Not yet, anyway.

OK. Here’s the Doodle-O’Da-Day. I have to get back to my other computer. Hey! That’s a good slogan for one of the MegaballZ t-shirts.

“My other computer…  is a computer.”

Pure genius!

allyourbase.jpg

C’ya!

 

Please disregard any inadvertent mix of past and present tense as I wrote this more from an emotional state than a literary one. I hope the intent of this post sticks with you longer than any grammatical impropriety. I promise to either find time to correct it or strive to do better next time. Thanks!

Over the last two weeks my life has almost been ended or at very least, dramatically changed at the hands of four separate but equally inattentive drivers.

I ride a motorcycle. A big motorcycle. One that is at least the size of a small car. It has a large, bright headlight and loud exhaust pipes. Very loud exhaust pipes. The value of which, if you’re not motorcycle savvy, you are about to learn.

The first incident took place as I was riding down a two lane state road. It was an older road with gracefully winding curves. The surface smooth and along a section that was very straight.

The speed limit for this road is 60 miles per hour. I was traveling between 55 and 65 depending on the terrain. My average speed well within the limit for this road.

It was a dry, clear and sunny day, about 3 in the afternoon. The road lay open before me with no obstructions to my vision. Up ahead on the right, lay a side road intersecting at 90 degrees to this main road.

I try to always look far enough ahead of me so as to be able to react in time and avoid any possible hazardous situation. I’ve conditioned myself using this 12 second rule and it has saved my bacon many times in the past.

On this particular day I was heading home from a nice, long, relaxing ride. Too bad it couldn’t have remained that way.

As I approached the intersecting road, my hands and feet automatically assumed a casual but defensive position on the controls. Experience had me cautious about vehicles sometimes shooting out of these type side roads without warning. At this point, I wasn’t overly cautious or even concerned but simply aware of the possibility.

As if to prove my instincts correct, I see a pickup truck on this side road approaching the intersection at a relatively high rate of speed.

I know from driving in the country some folks travel 70 or 80 miles an hour on these usually deserted, rural roads. They also have tendencies to not stop at certain, selected stop signs. Out of boredom or routine familiarity this is more the case with people living in the country than the exception, at least in my experience.

As I’m watching this driver quickly close the gap between myself and his vehicle, my mental timing is approximating our speeds over the distance between us. It becomes readily apparent that if he doesn’t, can’t or won’t stop in time, we’re on a disastrous collision course.

My hands and feet are now in full alert, positioned to apply whatever amount of pressure needed to try and avert a disaster.

Sure enough, the truck is now only about 50 feet from his stop sign, still showing no signs of slowing down. My body reacts by moderately engaging the rear brake, next to apply the front brake, my left hand and foot on the clutch and downshift lever.

And the truck keeps coming. Ever closer to the stop sign and he’s still not slowing. I write this in almost a slow motion, detailed accounting but everything was happening in mere seconds.

Realizing the impending danger I’m now in full response, applying firm but balanced pressure between both front and rear brakes, slowing my bike to safely downshift for engine braking while sounding my horn with my left thumb. I quickly rev the engine between downshifts in hopes the driver will at least hear me coming.

Even though his window is down and my horn and pipes are loud, he keeps coming. Past the stop sign and onto the apron of the intersection. Luckily for me, this intersection had a wide and deep shoulder, whereas most do not.

I’m now in full emergency stopping mode having slowed from 60 to about 10 miles an hour in just a few, short heart-pounding seconds. I’ve downshifted all the way from 5th to 2nd gear and now interminably waiting to see what happens next. I considered any options for evasive manuevers in the event all else failed. Barring any, my only last chance was to lay my bike down in a sort of controlled slide.

At the absolute last possible minute… no, second, the driver comes to a very abrupt and planned stop. Evidently this is how he regularly stops at this particular intersection since he still hadn’t noticed me.

At this point I was pretty much out of harms way. I revved my engine, let out the clutch and after screaming a few obscenities…uh, reprimanding the driver, continued on my way home. He may not have seen me coming but I made damn sure he at least knew I was there!

I’m writing about this only because it was the least dangerous encounter I’ve had in the last two weeks. The other three incidents would’ve been life changing events if God had not been there with me. Two of those times I had a passenger whose life was put at equal risk.

Each of the times I was completely within my right of way, observing all road and safety precautions. In one I was completely stopped at a residential stop sign when a woman cut her left turn at a sweeping angle across the front of my bike, coming within mere inches of my left leg, narrowly missing the end of my handlebar grip. She didn’t even slow down. She stopped only after pulling in her nearby driveway, obviously shaken, apologizing and repeating that she didn’t see me.

I’ve been riding street motorcyces for over 4 decades. All of them Harleys, except for my current, beloved Roadstar. Many close calls but with God’s Grace, no accidents.

As I said, these are big bikes. But even the largest one is no match against any automobile, however small and much worse against a larger truck or SUV. What might only be a minor fender bender in a car can turn deadly for a motorcyclist, all due to an inattentive or distracted driver behind the wheel.

They make us wear helmets, arguably to keep us safe while riding. Yet the same legislature appearing so caring as to require the use of those helmets, does nothing to push for tougher laws against drivers who often get off using the same old excuse of, “I didn’t see any motorcycle.”

A drivers lack of attentiveness, whether momentary or habitual, has caused more lives to change forever or abruptly end than any other issue surrounding the sport of street riding.

The situation already critical, is exacerbated through use of cellphones and text messaging while driving. Some reports have been noted of people using laptop computers, PDA’s or choosing songs on their iPods while driving.

My solution? Because most motorcyclists drive other vehicles as well, I have the following recommendations for all drivers:

1. Incorporate extensive motorcycle/bicycle awareness training as a uniform pass/fail part of all state driving tests.
2. Pass tough, no nonsense laws with just consequences for drivers failing to look for motorcycles sharing the roadways.
3. Ban the use of any and all distracting devices while underway for the safety of all drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

And for motorcyclists exclusively:
A graduated licensing program restricting new drivers (any age) to motorcycle engine size and power to weight ratio limits within their first two years of driving. Reason? Nothing counts more than real world experience on the road. To have an inexperienced driver atop a 3-second, two wheeled rocket is equivalent to letting a child play with a loaded handgun. Same goes for a heavyweight cruiser or dresser type bike that requires extra handling and stopping skills.

Only then, might we be able to see accidents between motorcycles and other vehicles, decline. Helmet laws and motorcycle rider testing alone, just won’t do it.

That’s my 2 cents. To my riding brethren, happy and safe riding! To the rest of you, hang up the cellphones and always watch for motorcycles! My children and grandchildren will thank you, as will I.

Addendum: I know it’s impractical for many people but I’d like to see everyone have to learn to ride a motorcycle. Riding a motorcycle has made me a much safer car driver because of my 2-wheel experiences. Among other things, I maintain the 12 second motorcyclist’s rule even behind the wheel of my car, constantly scanning the road ahead for potentially hazardous situations.

One tip I’ll share is upon approaching an intersection where I have the right of way, I’ll keep an eye on the front wheel of stopped, crossing vehicles. If their front wheel begins to turn at all, I go into appropriate alert. This has helped me avert many accidents both while driving my car and when riding my motorcycle. I hope it helps you drive and ride safer.

OK. Here’s your Doodle-O’Da-Day.

manfrommars.jpg

C’ya!

Posted by: zycos | August 20, 2007

Woman! What are you thinking?

I went to Walgreens this morning to get a gallon of milk. Normally I don’t like buying milk from them because they’re high in price but it’s a quick in and out.

As I’m waiting in line, there’s one person between me and a woman at the front of the checkout line.

The woman has two children. One a little girl about seven or eight years old standing next to her and a baby, under a year old, she’s holding in her arms.

Juggling her purse open, still holding the baby, she looks for a credit card to pay for her purchase. She shifts the baby to her one hip, finds the card and attempts to swipe it through the reader.

Finding this a bit too cumbersome, she sits junior on the counter balancing him there with her free hand. She then makes several more swipes but for some reason the reader unit isn’t accepting her card.

For the next 90 seconds or more she makes repeated attempts to complete her purchase. All the while junior, sitting in a loose fitting diaper and bare feet, is playfully kicking the counter display items and putting said feet all over the cookie display much to the checkout clerk’s dismay.

The mother appears completely oblivious to the kid, only once making a remark to the disbelieving clerk about how junior likes to kick things with his feet. The tone wasn’t apologetic but more as if junior had learned something cute.

Her daughter, certainly old enough to safely hold the pint sized mini-me, was too self absorbed to help out. (hmmm, wonder where she learned that from?)

Now I’m no prude but I was appalled! It was all I could do not to tell that woman to keep her kid’s dirty ass off the counter, much less his feet off the cookies.

Mommy may have thought it cute but this was the same counter where other customers were waiting to place their food and other items to be scanned by the clerk. And pity the unsuspecting customer who wants a cookie! Yuck!!!

Woman, what the hell is wrong with you??

While I like babies and sometimes think them cute, my appreciation doesn’t extend to having some stranger’s kid contaminating the work surface where I’m about to place my food items.

I’ve seen this time and time again. You go to a restaurant and see some ditz mother sitting or standing barefoot junior right on the tabletop. Worse are the mothers that think it OK to actually change their kid’s diaper on that tabletop. Sure it gets wiped off but it still grosses me out. I’ve actually seen this done in restaurants more than once. (Maybe I should upgrade my dining considerations.)

Mothers of the world, wise up! Just because you don’t mind swapping body fluids with your kid doesn’t mean everybody else wants to or thinks it adorable. Your filthy habits leave an invisible germ trail for the next unsuspecting victim… which could be me!

I really don’t ever want to see your sitting/standing/lying babies on any countertop, tabletop or other surface that other people have to use after you. Take the kid into the bathroom for changing or out to the car. Oh and the proper disposal of a dirty diaper, even if it’s “only” urine, IS NOT on the ground.

Woman, what the hell are you thinking?

Have a little common decency and respect for other people, could you? If not them, then for yourself if it’s possible. Realize to others, your baby is NOT the end all, be all gift to the world you think it is. It may be cute but to me when you do something like this, it’s nothing but a bacteria laden, germ carrying, drooling, poop machine.

I don’t care if lil’ Junior had 3 baths that day, don’t put his or her little ass on any table or countertop! And keep it’s chubby little hands, feet and slimy drool to itself. Got it?

Damn! Why should anybody have to tell you that?

OK. Here’s the Doodle-O’Da-Day. Anybody hungry? Have all you want. I’ve lost my appetite.

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C’ya!

Posted by: zycos | August 18, 2007

Brave Hunters Kill From Helicopters

Stopped in at the local feed and grain store the other day. Not for myself but I had to pick up on some bulk birdseed. While browsing the store I came across one of those promotional product videos playing in the hunting area. It was a presentation by the Drury brothers who own and operate their largely successful Drury Outdoors, a hunting supply company.

First, I’ll tell you I used to enjoy hunting. Most of my teenage years were filled with hunting squirrels, some rabbits and occasionally anything else in season that crossed my sights. It was a good experience as I learned profound respect for nature and the outdoors and for firearms and their proper use and safety. Even though I haven’t hunted for several decades, those early learning experiences are still strong within me.

My decision to stop hunting was one based on a fervent sportsman’s belief that if you weren’t going to eat what you were about to kill, you didn’t kill it. With a freezer containing several squirrels showing signs of aging freezer burn, I realized I had begun to lose interest in eating them. Even trying several new exotic recipes didn’t reignite my tastebuds. They just weren’t as satisfying to me as they once were. That not only signaled the end of my interest in eating small game but in hunting them, too.

I couldn’t justify going out into the woods and hunting down animals if I wasn’t going to eat them. Unlike catch and release in fishing, once you kill an animal it stays pretty much dead. So I decided to simply not do it anymore, a decision which I’ve had no problem with ever since.

As I matured, the idea of hunting seemed less and less logical. I reasoned that with today’s remarkable chain of food distribution, you can walk into just about any supermarket there is and take your pick of a wide variety of meats. From bison to rabbit, turkey, quail, duck and goose including hybrid meat like Beefalo. But even without these selections, you would still never go hungry for meat.

Back in the old days hunting was necessary for survival, today it’s not. One could argue it’s for the sport of it. I guess that could be true but for real sport I suggest you give the wild game semi automatic weapons outfitted with high powered scopes and sophisticated ammo loads. Then send the hunters in, unarmed, with just their basic instincts. For those hunters (now the hunted) who come out alive, a gift certificate for two at Appleby’s Restaurant would be their prize. It would become a new sport, one of survival, where the great hunters become the great hunted. One could collect gift certificate receipts as trophies.

Imagine hunting magazines featuring survivors with their harrowing stories of narrowly escaping death from a woods full of armed and dangerous animals. Now that would be sporting!

All kidding aside and back to topic. As I glanced at the Drury video playing on the monitor, I caught glimpse of a dog-like animal foraging through the countryside, most probably looking for food. It was a coyote. Unlike humans, coyotes and most wild animals for that matter, can’t go to the local Super Wal-Mart anytime they’re feeling hungry.

The next cutaway was of the Drury boys flying across same countryside in a helicopter, obviously looking for prey to demonstrate their new line of Super Varmint ammunition.

Next shows a closeup of the hungry coyote. Back to the chopper as the one Drury brother has his high powered rifle zero’d in and squeezes off a shot. The crack of the shot seems enhanced by the video’s sound editor but maybe it wasn’t.

Instantaneous cut to the coyote at the instant of impact. I hear him yipe (again, enhanced sound effects?) and watch him fly into the air from the hit and then fall dead silent to the snow-covered ground. His red blood streaming from his body for further visual confirmation of the new product’s deadly effectiveness.

Meanwhile back in the chopper, the Drury boys are congratulating each other for building the more perfect varmint load. On the ground they take turns picking the lifeless animal up by one extended, twisted hind leg, smiling for the camera crew, then dropping the body onto the ground.

Now I know coyotes can be very harmful to other animal populations including livestock but watching this latest Drury production I couldn’t help but notice a couple things.

One, it was highly doubtful they weren’t going to eat this kill. That eliminates the off-chance they were just hungry and needed something to eat. No. They were simply out to prove something and had to take a life to do it.

Two, they weren’t doing it for sport. How much sport can there be sitting in the heated cockpit of a $175,000+ helicopter chasing down and shooting unsuspecting animals below?

I don’t have anything against the Drury Brothers or their company. I just thought it peculiar how these guys demonstrate their new line of Varmint Killers.

And I must admit, my first words upon seeing this display of wanton waste was appropriately, “What assholes!”

To the Drury Brothers: I hope your new video serves you well and sells lots of your new bullets, bringing you greater wealth than before. One of God’s living creatures gave his life for it.

Which brings me to my last, but foremost reason for not hunting anymore. As I used to clean and gut my squirrels, I would take note of various organs as I pulled them from the body. I would see readily identifiable lungs, stomach, intestines, liver, bladder, kidneys, even sex organs and oh yes… the heart. I say identifiable because they looked very similar to those of human organs I’d studied in school.

Always impressed by the sheer beauty of how a living body works, I couldn’t help but consider how I had just put a stop to another creature’s beating heart. All the functions that enable and sustain life, I had made a calculating and conscious decision to end.

I thought, what right do I have to do so? What right does anyone have to take the life of another living creature? An animal created by God who is alive by the same internal mechanisms that keep me alive. Do I, or anyone else for that matter, really have that right? I don’t believe so.

In defense of one’s own life (and others) or for survival, I can understand but simply to feed an ego in the name of sport?

Maybe that was the real reason I stopped hunting. I just couldn’t justify it to myself or my God, anymore.

And yes, I am a hypocrite because I’m not a vegetarian. I eat meat. Meat from other animals slaughtered for profit and my consumption. But it is a part of our food chain, like it or not. As I said, I believe in killing for self defense and for survival. Eating is a necessary part to ensure survival. Collecting trophies or bragging rights is not.

The Doodle-O’Da-Day is not my own but I thought fitting, nonetheless.

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C’ya!

Missed posting yesterday due to another electrical outage. Once it came back on I started a post ranting about Ameren UE, our monopolistic utility company here in Missouri. Almost got it finished and BAM! Lost electricity again… almost as if “they” (cue conspiracy music) were trying to silence me. The bastards!

While searching Ameren financials, I came across an interesting post titled “Third-World Ameren Strikes Again.” Here is a cnp of that post:

“Ameren UE, our local electricity monopoly, has a record of service and reliability that is the envy of the nation. Unfortunately, that nation is Bangladesh.”

How true, how true. And pathetic in light of showing a $143 million dollar net profit this past quarter, representing a 16% gain from last year. But I digress.

OK, it’s another day. The electricity’s back on at least for now. It’s time to move on to more important issues. Here’s one that sets me off.

I see where they want to bring back the draft. The draft?!? If I had a son or daughter, I would be screaming, “NO F*IN WAY!!” and publicly calling for the heads of those who advocate doing so.

I remember Vietnam… and the draft. Politicians and military generals waging a so-called “police action” using the lives of my generation and friends as cannon fodder.

Note it was not the Vietnam “war” as is popularly being renamed today, nor the Korean “War” was never a declared war but a mere(?) “conflict.” At least today our elected officials have the balls to call it an actual war in Iraq… maybe they thought they’d have more support with that term.. something they did learn from Vietnam.

Now that the Great Oz is being revealed from behind the curtain, the gullible among us are beginning to see it’s not about freeing a people at all. Oh sure, that’s the ruse and some might actually taste freedom as a side effect of it all. But it’s really about money and contracts… and oil and profits. Those of you who still don’t see it, my only recommendation would be a trip to Pearle Vision.

It’s about companies like Haliburton and players with names like Cheney and Bush. The stakes are high… very high but not for the reasons we’re told. The playing tokens they’re using are our fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters.

And the minions aren’t joining the cause fast enough to keep their cannons loaded and firing. But that’s not a justification for drafting people against their will, to fight and/or die for an empty ideal, much less a fat cat contract.

I have no doubt if a real enemy were marching onto the East or West coast in imminent attack of our country, you wouldn’t need a draft. Every one of our able men and women, young and old, would be at the forefront fighting for what’s left of our freedoms. That’s if we still have our guns.

No. The war in Iraq is the same boondoggle it was in the Vietnam police action of the 60’s. That runaway trainwreck was created by the politicians using the same old message of liberating the good people from their evil oppressors. Millions of gullible American people bought it then as they do now, proudly serving up their young offspring in believed patriotism to inject… or inflict our ideals into a backward and unwelcome land. Ironically, for many of those same ideals we’ve already lost or are about to lose for ourselves in our country.

When the mainstream media decided it was time to swing the other way, things rapidly started becoming too graphic on the nightly news. I mean for many, it was mealtime after all. Soon Americans were getting an uneasy taste of what was really happening to their sons and daughters in Vietnam and they were horrified, as they should have been. The American people were getting uncomfortable and the politicians began playing hot potato over the mess they created, turning like common houserats on each other, pointing fingers at each other’s party. Forget about your dying sons and daughters, their blood isn’t mine!

It’s all too familiar to me and should be to every other person who experienced the BS our government called the Korean conflict and the Vietnam police action. It should be forever taught as it happened, not rewritten or renamed, in hopes that we the people will never let our sons and daughters be drafted for cannon fodder again.

Reinstate the draft to give the politicians and generals more cannon fodder to play their games with? That sends a cold chill up my spine but really puts a fire in my gut!

No Doodle-O’Da-Day today, just a poignant reminder of our too easily forgotten past.

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C’ya!

Posted by: zycos | August 15, 2007

Are you busy too… or just ignoring me?

There was a time when a follow up phone call or even a visit was apropos in civilized society. It was a common courtesy. A gesture showing consideration for the time spent making the original contact.

Not always warranted, nonetheless it was usually most often replied to or responded in kind. But evidently that decorum doesn’t exist anymore… at least not in our society.

Today “RSVP” formal invitations go unanswered. Close family members won’t even reply to their private emails. And business requests needing a response… hell even just an acknowledgment, go without confirmation. All this in spite of the broader, easier, faster and even free ways we have to communicate with each other.

What’s going on? Are people all just bunch of inconsiderate pigs?

Or are they all just ignoring me? Sometimes I think that just might be.

As you get older and the fast track starts passing you by, it becomes a little blurry. Things that were once critically important for you to know in order to run with or preferably lead the pack, just don’t hold the same degree of significance after a certain point in time.

As example: Even into my late 40’s I knew most of the artists and songs across the music charts and had first name familiarity with all the movie stars covered in the media. Hell, I could even hold my own in conversations with younger fans in just about any of their own categories.

Now when I hear someone’s first name mentioned on TV or elsewhere, I have to admit (to myself anyway) I don’t have a freakin’ clue who they’re talking about!

F’shizzle my n’izzle.

I remember laughing at my father about his embarrassing lack of common knowledge over once current and worldly important things like: What kind of bass guitar did Paul McCartney play? (Hofner) or was John Cougar and John Mellencamp really the same guy? (Yes)

Gee dad, I’m so sorry. Turns out I was the stupid one.

Nowadays I question myself: Is 50cent some new hip-hop artist (I use the term lightly, for those of you who know what I mean) or is it just change back from a dollar?

And who the hell is (fill in the blank) anyway?? What did he/she/it say or do? And why should I care anyway?

The plain truth is that with coming of age, at any biological age, it really doesn’t matter. Only those whose maturity levels not exceeding their hat size fret over what Britney said, Lindsey wore or Justin did. I mean, who gives a crap? I certainly don’t.

Why should anything any of them say or do matter more or less than anything anybody else says or does? Bottom line is it doesn’t. No, not really. And it shouldn’t.

But I digress. Fortunately, I’m getting too old… er, mature to even care about such nonsense.

What does bother me… no, annoys the hell out of me …is people who won’t return your calls or reply to your emails.

It’s like going to a friend’s house and knocking on their door. You know they’re inside and they know it’s you outside but they still won’t answer the door. Does that piss you off or what?!?

The most common excuse I hear today is, “Oh I’m sorry, I just didn’t have the time. I was just too busy.” or “I thought you’d just know I was(n’t) coming.” This is the modern equivalent to “The checks in the mail.” Clue up! It didn’t work then and it don’t work now.

Why can’t they just be honest and say “I didn’t answer your email or come to your party because…

You’re just too old and I didn’t think it would matter! After all, you’d probably forget about it in an hour or so. Even if I did answer, I’d have to repeat it over and over again.”

or even brutally frank,

“I don’t like the smell of all those old people in one room together.”

Seriously! Nobody’s feelings would be hurt. (Not that you care, anyway.)

And I personally look at it as saving me from using what little time I have left, just trying to get a response from inconsiderate, immature people.

Besides if they replied, they’d just want to talk about something stupid, anyway. Like what Britney said, Lindsey wore or Justin did.

That’s my crank for the day.

And here’s my Doodle-O’Da-Day with your choice of caption:

“Say, isn’t it time you scheduled your alien colonoscopy?”

or

“For an out-of-this-world rectal exam, call 1-800-ALIENPROBE.”

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C’ya!

Posted by: zycos | August 14, 2007

Tuesdays Suck Too… just kidding.

Wanted to see if you were reading my whole blog or just select headlines!

Yea! It’s Tuesday! Monday’s gone for good! Long live Mondays! Well, this past Monday is gone for good as are all the Mondays that came before it. Ramble on my wayward son, ramble on. Isn’t that what a blog is for?

OK. It’s still too hot (and humid) to do anything outside today. I enjoy the heat but can’t stand humidity. Dislike the cold. Hate overcast days, especially when so many are strung together to make a month. Oh, that’s right. It’s not the weather I hate, it’s just the Midwest! Yeah, that’s right!

I mean seldom do you get a nice day here. It’s either too cold, too hot (humid,) too wet, too windy or too (fill in the blank) in the Midwest. The saying goes, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait a few minutes and it’ll change.” Uh-huh, from bad to worse.

When you finally do get a truly nice day… clear blue sky,70-80 degree temps with low humidity, light breeze (I said “light” dammit!) … you’re probably either working or owe prior commitment to attend your six-year old nephews birthday party. You know, the one that’s inside the rented church hall, lower level.

They say some people’s moods are changed by the weather. I believe it. I know mine are.

Add tornadoes, ice storms, power outages, moronic drivers on some of the nation’s worst roadways ever designed(?) and engineered. Why, you can only be in… must be in… (drumroll, please.) St.Louis. Aaaaghhhh! What a pit!

If there ever was a city with a “Me too” complex, St. Louis is it. Starving for attention but with all lack of imagination. They even have their own version of Mardi Gras called, what else? Mardi Gras. A too obvious but pitiful misrepresentation of the one held in New Orleans.

Whenever something big is happening elsewhere, good or bad, St. Louis feels they have to play up their own hometown version of it.

There could be a tsunami disaster anywhere in the world and the St. Louis media would feel the need to start their lead stories with, “Could it happen here? The real threat of a riverfront tsunami here in St. Louis. Video at 10pm.” The real threat? Maybe it’s the tidal wave caused from all those winners jumping up and down in the stupid floating casinos.

About the only things really good here are: The St. Louis Zoo, truly a world class zoo second only to San Diego’s and the admission is free. Forest Park, city art museum, science center, history museum, Anheuser-Busch Brewery and Grant’s Farm Tours – all of which are free, including the beer. Hmmm, the more I hear that word “free” the better I like it.

The incredible Missouri Botanical Gardens; the Boathouse and restaurant in Forest Park; Central West End and U-City Loop; Mississippi River Boat Cruises serving an incredible luncheon complete with live Dixieland band; the ride along the river road in Alton in the fall; the bald eagles nesting along that same route and… and…

Hey, maybe St. Louis isn’t such a bad place after all.

Notice I didn’t mention the illustrious Gateway Arch. Why? It’s a snooze. You can ride to the top and catch view of a pretty ugly city, as cities go. The only outstanding and unique piece of architecture was the old Busch Stadium.

I mean it. You could look at any aerial photo of any city in the world and be able to tell you were looking at St. Louis by its unique, coliseum-like stadium. But they tore it down to build some “me-too” looking piece of crap, then further dishonoring the old stadium by giving the new one it’s name.

Now we have a stadium and a city that can’t be distinguished from the other ugly-ass cities with their look-alike stadiums…oh yeah, except for the arch.

There was a guy who did an illustration of it some years ago, summing up my feelings exactly. It was more of an engineering, mechanical type drawing as I recall. I tried finding it but many searches on Google came up with nothing.

So as my Doodle-O’Da-Day, I’ve attempted to recapture at least the gist of his illustration best as I remember it but without the mechanical drafting influence.

Hope you find it as funny as I do.

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C’ya!

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