30 May 2008

Just Another Freaky Friday...
It's been one of the "busier" weeks in the Fort (then again, it's ALWAYS busy in MY part of the city), what with the Clay & Berry streets accident that killed a Parkview hospital worker, and the recent pot bust out in Ligonier.
This week has also seen our 14th homicide, as well as drugs in Waynedale (still a better part of town than the "badlands" aka the SE side). So without any further ado...
Two Suspects Sought in Hit and Run -
Elgin and Antwon (It's called PHONETIC spelling, in case you're wondering - an ethnic cultural nuance) Davis are the two "people in question" that the FWPD wants to ask a $hitload of questions regarding the accident they were involved with early Wednesday.
Antwon (nice mugshots, btw) is ALREADY on the active warrant list for criminal confinement, domestic battery, and failure to appear in court (must have failed to appear in SCHOOL as well - that would explain a lot). Gee, what an upstanding citizen. Can't wait to see him UP STANDING in front of the judge when sentence is passed on his sorry ass.
This is a case of Black-on-White crime you never hear about or see as a statistic...the unintentional crime.
Federal Cocaine Charge names Four -
Four men were indicted in cocaine trafficking in the Waynedale section of Fort Wayne. The men face a laundry list of charges from intent to distribute to possessing a firearm to further a drug crime.
Their names are: Woodrow Ormiston (35), Michael A. Bower (32), Kevin Bender (45), and Dan Phillips (46). This spring, Feds obtained indictments for Shane Silvers and Alan Lichty, both of Ft. Wayne. They are charged with conspiracy and intent to distribute as well.
When Feds arrested Ormiston in May, they found $21,600 on his person, 4 cell phones, and a gram of cocaine.
In August 2007, Bower purchased a Chevy Avalanche (lousy mileage, but expensive), saying he was "employed" by SS Computer & Tech and had a "salary" of $40K. Investigations discovered that Bower started SS Computer & Tech to hide money earned by dealing drugs. Federal prosecutors hope to make Bower forfeit $108,475, the Avalanche, 5 guns and ammo, a 2003 Caddy DeVille, a 2006 customized Charger, and a a 2001 Harley.
Police believe Bender bought drugs from Phillips, Ormiston and Bower. Both he and Phillips are also accused of threatening informants who cooperated with authorities.
Let the bidding commence!
Someone could wind up with a REAL bargain here when this stuff is auctioned off.
Number 14...And Counting -
So much for the Urban League's commercial asking for a halt to this senseless violence.
Another shooting on the city's SOUTH side resulted in the death of one Tarockus N. Calmes (20) in front of a house at 3526 South Park Drive yesterday evening at about 1750 hrs. A white Buick with dark tinted window (what did I JUST say the other day about the TINT?) was seen pulling up in front of the house, said a witness (great aunt Frozie Calmes). Shots were fired from the vehicle as Tarockus ran to the backyard where he collapsed. Taken to the hospital in critical condition, he died shortly after arriving.
The victim did not LIVE at the house on South Park Drive, but he frequently spent time there (sounds a lot like MOST of the "neighbors" living around US - same behavior patterns).
When Ms Calmes heard what she thought were gunshots, she looked outside to see a bunch of people running from the area, she said. According to the article, she has "gotten used" to to this recently. "Here lately in the past month or so, I've heard what sounds like people shooting fireworks or guns a lot. I don't know what the sounds are", she said.
The white Buick was seen heading south towards Rudisill.
Now let me weigh in here...
When you hear enough gunshots...you KNOW what they sound like (and in most cases, you learn to grab some cover...FAST).
A stationary target is an easy target.
Ask anyone that has been exposed to combat or been a police officer, or even a hunter. They know.
I have a list of vehicles that are suspicious in MY area, and I will be checking it for any WHITE BUICKS, and will be those plate numbers into the FWPD tip-line.
I wonder if the case for NOT ALLOWING loud fireworks within city limits means ANYTHING now? I've argued against this from the beginning. Such loud (and dangerous) ordnance need NOT be in the hands of neophytes, and certainly NOT in areas where gunfire is prone to happen.
It also bears witness to the ease at which the WRONG PEOPLE can obtain firearms. Back in the militant 1960s, even in gangs, there were FEWER firearms, and that was a time when you could ORDER A RIFLE BY MAIL (think Lee Harvey Oswald and his Mannlicher-Carcano), and the prices of all firearms were a helluva lot cheaper than today.
Another life snuffed out. Black-on-Black crime, which is close to 30 times more likely to occur than Black-on-White crime, but none the less just as heinous, ethnicity and color not withstanding.
We're turning into a city of "back-watchers"...and with good reason. We just cannot know where it will be coming from. So we tune ourselves to be more aware. We watch. We listen. We are vigilant.
One thing, at this rate of murders, I can say that I'm right on track for this city to hit THIRTY homicides by year's end. Small city "charm"...with BIG city issues.
That's Fort Wayne -Number 18 on the list of BEST places to raise a family.
Just don't get shot by any black thugs in a white Buicks in the process.
Lastly, on a very sad note -
Comedian Harvey Korman has passed away after a a lengthy illness regarding an aortic aneurysm. Once the star of Blazing Saddles (That's HEDLEY...not Hedy Lamarr), as well as the quintessential comic on The Carol Burnett Show (with sidekick Tim Conway), he began his career on The Danny Kaye Show, appearing in skits on the show.
After leaving the cancelled show in 1967, he signed on with Burnett, and the rest was...history.
One could say that in many ways, Korman and Burnett became the "new" Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca.
He was 81. And he, along with his humor WILL be missed.
Kind of makes one long for a kinder, gentler time...
Still...life COULD be worse.
Today is the anniversary of St. Joan of Arc's burning at the stake for heresy.
See? Someone's always got it tougher than you.
In the meantime, DO have a safe weekend.

29 May 2008

Post-Humpday Happenings...
Yes, Virginia, it IS Thursday.
Not Wednesday.
And you can plainly tell (in my neighborhood) that not too any people really know WHAT day it is. I however, do.
Let's use trash pickup day as an example.
We USUALLY get our trash picked up on THURSDAY (that would be today), but due to MONDAY'S holiday (that would be Memorial Day), the schedule was moved BACK a day (that would be FRIDAY, as told to us on the news and in the papers), and NOT Thursday (that would be TODAY). See...it all comes "full circle".
But almost everyone else placed their can out YESTERDAY (Wednesday) in anticipation for a Thursday pickup, which isn't going to happen until TOMORROW (Friday). Now if we take a look at the guidelines for trash pickup, we see that you can place your bin out by the curb/alley/street NO EARLIER than 12 noon the day BEFORE THE PICKUP. And since trash will be collected tomorrow, anyone with their bin ALREADY out is IN VIOLATION, right?
Yeah...so easy a CAVEMAN could figure it out. Wouldn't mind having a few of THEM as neighbors instead THIS load of ambulating flotsam.
Some other tidbits that I just have to weigh in on:
--Kindergarten teacher in Southern Indiana draws reprimand.
The teacher's "yelling" was caught on a hidden device on the mother's son (who SHE claims does misbehave). After listening to it, I don't believe the teacher was yelling at all. She did do a nice emotional smackdown of the little brat. I mean if a 5 year old is a CHRONIC problem and disruptive every day in KINDERGARTEN...what's that say to the efficacy of the parent's discipline? Answer: Not a whole hell of a lot.
I guess the school system wanted to do a CYA because the parent must have used the "lawsuit" word, when in fact SHE should be brought up on charges of being a complete IDIOT when it comes to her parenting skills. Damn shame we can't legislate being a dumbass (one reason I could never run for political office...I WOULD legislate it).
--Another Huge Pot Bust Made in Indiana.
This time the pot was discovered outside a factory in Ligonier. I wonder if the people behind this knew Mr. McChesney from the earlier bust this year up in Harlan? It did say that ICE was involved, and that the trail of this marijuana was traced back to TEXAS.
This haul (3,000 lbs) had a street value of about $4.5 Million (a little more than half of the Harlan take). Considering the Antwerp Road haul in pounds versus price, I'd say that even the cost of getting high is rising...imagine that. Must have been all the diesel fuel needed to bring that crap up from Texas. Yeah, that's it.
--Nepal Ends 239 year Kingdom.
The last Hindu kingdom in the world has become the newest secular republic. Led by former Communist insurgents, the lawmakers abolished the monarchy that reigned over the Himalayan land for 239 years. The newly elected Constituent Assembly declared the country a republic and abolished the monarchy with a vote of 560-4.
It's GOOD to be king...except in Nepal. There, you're now part of the newly unemployed.
--Superbug is a Growing Threat.
Hospitals and nursing homes across the nation are trying to deal with an intestinal "superbug" that played a role in nearly 300,000 hospitalizations in 2005 (more than double the number seen in 2000). This bug can cause diarrhea, and more serious infection know as colitis. Spread by fecal spores, it's proving hard to kill with most conventional disinfectants and antibacterial soaps. And just when you thought it was safe to go to a hospital, eh?
--Noted TV-Theme Composer Dies.
When I say the name EARLE HAGAN....how blank is that look on your face? Surely you've heard his music; I KNOW you have, and I would bet you a year's salary that you have. But you never heard of the composer, right?
If I say The Andy Griffith Theme (go ahead, whistle it yourself)...THEN you know who I'm talking about.
He actually DID the whistling with his 11 year old son doing the finger-snapping for the demo.
Earle was also responsible for the I SPY theme (Bill Cosby / Bob Culp), and no matter what locale they shot an episode, Hagan was prone to use local ethnic musicians to capture the flavor of the venue.
How about the DICK VAN DYKE SHOW?
Or The MOD SQUAD (Julie, Pete, and Linc)?
He also did the themes for THAT GIRL (Marlo Thomas), and GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C (Jim Nabors).
Mr. Hagan wrote songs and themes for over 3,000 episodes and TV pilots. He also co-wrote Harlem Nocturne in 1939, which was used as the theme song for the Mike Hammer series (Stacy Keach) in 1984. He played trombone with Benny Goodman as well as Tommy Dorsey. He also wrote the first textbook on movie composing.
He was 88 when he passed Monday night.
He will be missed by many, but the music WILL live on.
And that's a good a tribute as any man can get.
And a helluva legacy.
Be nice if the rest of us could even come close to that.
Stay safe out there.

28 May 2008

Dude, Where's My Donk?
Remember that really NICE car you (or maybe your Dad) used to own.
Pride of the family.
Nice and shiny, whitewalls, chrome spoked wheels...all factory installed.
It looked exactly the way it did in the brochure Dad (or you) looked at when the salesman made his "speech".
Do you recall how well it handled on that test drive?
And remember how much time was spent keeping it clean ("Because a clean car is a fuel efficient car", Dad used to say).
And so we kept our cars looking as if they just came from the showroom. Yeah, we were that particular, because we knew that other people would view our cars and make conclusions about US in the process.
After all, you ARE what you DRIVE.
Anyone motoring about in our fair city must have (by now) seen one of the growing numbers of "vehicles" with these HUGE, over sized rims (some that spin) that look like someone took a Hot Wheels car and soaked in it Miracle-Grow for about a month.
In many cases these vehicles were once VERY NICE, some even belonging to the old "muscle car" stables of the 70s. But somewhere along the way, this car (or SUV) got waylayed, and was bought by someone with absolutely NO intention of true preservation. They repainted the car in some horrendous shade of some God-awful color (all the leftovers from Earl Scheib's color pallet, obviously mixed together), screwed with the mechanics of the car, and stuck those ugly-ass RIMS on it.
And then they have audacity to still call it a "car". They're mistaken. It's not a car.
This is a DONK.
Get used to them.
In some cases, these guys are rolling billboards...
I'll tell you one thing...it's all I can do to keep from laughing whenever I see one of these morons driving down a street. Yeah, it's that ridiculous. Makes me happy for my normalcy in ways I never imagined.
Now if you look at these vehicles, you will notice that they sit HIGHER than designed (which is itself, a violation of the law; a law that will most likely NOT be enforced along with SO many others in Fort Wayne). This is not a 4x4 truck, or a "Bigfoot"...it's a damn CAR. And in the extreme, it's sitting high enough to require a step stool to enter (or a few hand grips).
Next, from a mechanic's standpoint, you have to realize that these were designed and built with the laws of PHYSICS in mind (to which at least THOSE laws ARE still strictly enforced - police, take note).
Even back in MY day, when we "jacked up the rear" of our car (which was actually lowering the transfer case and suspension - same deal), we were changing the GEOMETRY of the vehicle. We were moving the center-of-gravity FORWARD by doing this, and that places a lot more wear and tear on the entire front end OF that vehicle. The worst problems encountered were brakes and parts wearing the hell out, but the tires wore out a lot sooner too. All for the sake of looking "cool". Well, I never bought into that crap. I wanted my car to do what I tell it to, and not whatever it wants to do. So I kept them "stock". Those that modified them got exactly what they deserved...namely higher maintenance costs. Sometimes you DO get more than you bargained for.
Same is true for these DONKS.
If you raise the ENTIRE car up...the center of gravity goes WHERE? (all together boys and girls)...UP (thank you). And what makes a vehicle want to ROLL OVER easier? Right...a HIGHER center of gravity. That's why many SUVs and Jeeps (today) suck in panic maneuvers and cause rollover crashes.
PHYSICS: Not the BEST law...just the ONLY law.
I love it.
But that's only part of the problem.
We still have these HUGE wheels to deal with. Problem with those are that they could bind in the wheel wells during a turn, blowing a tire, or the added weight on the suspension parts could cause a catastrophic failure if you even hit a rut.
And of course, all that height and weight isn't doing a DAMN thing to help your FUEL ECONOMY...is it?
But...it looks "phat" (that would be what tries to pass for COOL today).
Now I don't know about YOU, but there are enough things to be concerned about on the streets and highways of America without having to deal with these idiots in their Donks. And just try to see past them in traffic...not gonna happen. God help you if you park next to one in a lot, and then try to back out. You're blind as a bat (without the radar to boot).
Makes me wonder where people that DO NOT WORK manage to get all the money to trick out these once nice cars?
Oh, wait...this is Fort Wayne. We have a thriving DRUG TRADE here...that's gotta be it. That also explains why the price of GAS isn't a problem for them. With the THOUSANDS they make EVERY day on our streets, gas could rise to $10 a gallon...and THEY would still be able to AFFORD it (while we have to park the police force). Yeah, it all makes sense now, right?
And while we're talking fuel economy, let's add in that several hundred POUNDS of AUDIO gear that shakes the hell out of our homes, eh?
Yeah, that's saving gas.
You trying to sell me a bridge in Manhattan as well?
If the city was "smart" (yeah...I'll wait until your laughter dies down)...they COULD enact a law that bans these vehicles on the streets (you want to show them off, get a trailer, load it up and take it to a "Donk-Fest" in a ghetto venue), or AT LEAST restrict the height and wheel size.
Face it...it's not a safe vehicle meant for daily usage. Not with the demands on the mechanical aspects of these vehicles.
And while the city's at it, they can lose all this TOO DARK WINDOW TINT. That's a catastrophe waiting to happen. Ever try to see the road at night with SUNGLASSES ON? Well, some of this window tint is damn near as dark as a welding helmet lens! People can't see what's on the roads, and officers can't see in if making a traffic stop.
I suppose all of these "suggestions" will go for naught, however. That's the way the city works. If it's not in THEIR best interest (alone), then fagedaboudit.
Still, all these Dorks, Donks, and Dimwits ARE a public Safety issue.
And failure to address them will lead people to think that everything truly IS permitted.
That's not good public safety now...is it?
But then again, it IS Fort Wayne.

27 May 2008

Wouldn't You Just Know It...
Now who would have thought that a day of REMEMBRANCE would be considered a day to set off FIREWORKS? Well, that's the dustoff I got from the FWPD dispatch when I attempted to call in some a**hole who was setting off some "blockbusters" yesterday afternoon and well into the evening.
Sorry, if I'm a bit "dense" here, but doesn't the SOLEMNITY of Memorial Day trump being a dumb ass?
In THIS city (Fort Wayne)...apparently not.
Now I can see the "need" to set off fireworks on say Flag Day, Independence Day, and even new Year's Eve, but yesterday? I don't think so.
To me, it's akin to someone at a funeral being a drunken SOB...you just don't ALLOW that. Show some DIGNITY for the fallen. I guess that's asking WAY too much of those in this part of town, though.
When I called dispatch, I notified them that wanted to report LOUD fireworks (think somewhere in the decibel range of 40-60 mm rounds), to which the response was a rather icy: "SIR, WE ALLOW THEM TODAY".
Well, I was amazed. I said to the dispatch girl (named LYNN...and your name will figure prominently in my email to the quadrant captain, sister): "I suppose *if* I called this in as a SHOTS FIRED call, I could have some boots on the ground here?" She replied : "Yes, but you sound like it's more fireworks than gunshots". I then said to her: "How long is this permitted?" She said: "Until midnight".
I said "Fine, I'll call back one minute AFTER". And hung up.
Suffice it to say, within FIVE minutes, I saw TWO FWPD cars cruise the area. And I'd wager that someone ELSE called the fireworks in as a code *113* "SHOTS FIRED". I hope that dispatch girl likes having egg on her face.
But that's just (as I like to say) "All part of the show" down here.
I'm not dissing fireworks. They have their place in celebratory venues, but not this house-shaking, nerve-jarring ordnance meant to wake the dead we're trying to remember with honor.
C'mon people...wise the f$ck up!
It's no surprise when people like Phil Marx and I are summarily "dismissed" (all too often) whenever "we" attempt to right some wrong, or try to keep our respective areas from otherwise falling farther into the "abyss of apathy" that is most prevalent in our part of Fort Wayne.
And it's not that we're trying to "inflict" OUR brand of justice (it's the justice laid down by the laws already on the books...no more, no less)...we'd just like to see (once in a damn while) the LAWS that have been written to protect ALL citizens enforced to SOME degree.
We could give a rat's backside as to how many "seat belt" violations they ticketed this weekend.
That's inconsequential when balanced against active drug dealing, pyrotechnic mismanagement, and sundry other violations we are exposed to daily on our streets.
Cripes, this department can't even get a handle on the boomcar "Donks" (more about them tomorrow) we have running the area every damn day, nor the speeders on cafe bikes, who make something as harmless as getting one's mail an exercise in "timing", not to mention the hazard to kids and pedestrians (who frequent the middle of the street instead of the sidewalks).
It amazes me that in an area where NO police have a home or apartment (read VESTED INTEREST), people like Phil and I are THE first best defense to hold this crap at bay (and we're the minority of the minority in that respect). I'd bet that in those neighborhoods where the police DO live, there's a LOT more PROACTIVE policing than REACTIVE policing.
Wonder why?
Hell, it wouldn't take a rocket scientist too damn long to figure that one out, eh?
The SE quadrant has the most public safety resources dumped into it...and what's the NET result? We STILL have shootings. We STILL have rapes. We STILL have arson. We STILL have burglaries, robberies and the usual array of criminal activity, with little if any abatement (not to be confused with the abatements given to businesses that WE pay for anyway).
Now I'm not ragging on the rank and file of the force. They just do what the hell they're TOLD to do. The problem lies farther up the totem pole with whoever's collecting the admission fees for this freak show.
It's small wonder that our local HOUSING AUTHORITY is being audited. Look at the monster "they" collectively created (and are allowing to grow).
This part of town has been all but "written off", by much of the city officials. Trouble is, they keep telling us the exact opposite. Well, we who are trying to survive down here STILL have EYES...and EARS...and MOUTHS. We KNOW what we SEE. We KNOW what we HEAR, and we're not going to "go gently into that good night" like they would have us do.
WE WILL speak up...and often about things and people operating in some realm devoid of the laws that are binding the rest of us.
And please don't tell us what you're TRYING to do.
We've heard that song before, and it's STILL being sung off-key.
Watch The Empire Strikes Back, and take a cue from YODA: "No...try not. Do...or do not. There is no try".
Seems the city could use a NETFLIX account in that regard.
Memorial Day is about REMEMBERING. And I can think of NO BETTER way to carry on that aspect than to REMEMBER all the city is (not) doing to ensure the safety and quality of life for ALL. NO matter what happens, we WILL remember. Doesn't matter if it's a snippy dispatcher, or the lack of police presence, or ignorance on behalf of the representative city councilmen.
If all this sounds ominous...so be it.
I like ominous.
My Dad had a great saying:
"When you toss a rock into a pack of wild dogs...the one that YELPS is the one that GOT HIT".
I'm going to be listening VERY carefully for that yelp.

26 May 2008

Well, It Took a While...
But *I* finally made it to MARS.
(Move over Buck Rogers)
And in spite of high fuel costs, I managed to get pretty good mileage.
But the best part is, I really never left the confines of THIS planet in the proceess.
Talk about the ultimate "vicarious" adventure, eh?
Sure beats Six Flags...especially with no lines to stand in, no parking woes, and no overpriced concessions.
Here's the link for the whole story:
NASA's Phoenix Spacecraft Lands At Martian Arctic Site
May 25, 2008
Phoenix has landed on Mars. After traveling for 10 months on a 422-million-mile route, the spacecraft landed right on time in the northern arctic plains of Mars, at 68 degrees north, near the polar cap, just before 5 pm Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). And the first images are already in.
The signal confirming Phoenix's arrival on the surface of Mars came into NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at 4:53 pm Pacific Daylight Time / 7:53 pm EDT / 11:53 pm UTC. The landing actually happened about 15 minutes earlier on Mars, but at the current distance between Mars and Earth, about 172 million miles, it takes 15 minutes for the radio signal confirming the spacecraft's arrivial to get "home."
About two hours after confirmation came through that Phoenix landed, the engineering and terrain images the team instructed the spacecraft to take came into the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Arizona Phoenix Science Operations Center.
They show the solar arrays fully deployed and some of the patterned arctic terrain around Mars' north pole.
Phoenix joins NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, on the surface.
Phoenix's entry, descent, and landing -- or the "seven minutes of terror" -- as it's been called, looked to be textbook all the way down. The Phoenix flight operations team was able to maintain the signal of the spacecraft all the way down to the surface, as they had hoped they would be able to do.
The spacecraft, it was reported, landed tilted at one-quarter of a degree. In other words, it appears to have been a near flawless landing.
Could it have possibly gone any better?
"Not in my dreams," smiled Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager of JPL.
Phoenix is about to become the world's first mission to make direct measurements of water on another planet and the first to dig below the surface of the Martian arctic and sample water-ice.
"We have to make sure the spacraft is healthy, but by gosh, it's landed in a place where it's almost horziontal to the surface, tilted a quarter of a degree," enthused Peter Smith, principal investigator from the University of Arizona, just after the landing. "It's not on a rock. It's on a nice flat place, very safe and happy."
"This is not a trip to grandma's house. Putting a spacecraft safely on Mars is hard and risky," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Internationally, fewer than half the attempts have succeeded."
On board Phoenix is a special message from Earth --a silica-glass DVD provided by The Planetary Society that contains a quarter-million names and a collection of Mars-related literature, art, and audio called Visions of Mars.
The disk, designed to last hundreds of years, is sent with the hope that future human explorers may one day find the message.
And you guessed it...I'm one OF those 250,000 names that has made it to the red planet.
Even have my own certificate to prove it!
So if any of happen to be in the "neighborhood"...stop on by and look me up.
I'll keep the light on.
(FYI- bring long underwear)
And after trying several times to find the "right" words, I noticed that something seemed too "familiar" about today's post. Then I went back and looked at LAST YEAR'S Memorial Day post, and thought: "Damn, that's exactly what I'm trying to say" So, since I was having this major case of Deja vu, I decided to REPOST what I placed here last year. After all, it needs to be said that repetition is a good way to learn, and THIS is what today is ALL ABOUT - Learning.
((This is one of THOSE days where I dig out the old soapbox and get a bit "preachy", so bear with me...
This weekend (and especially today) is about ONE thing primarily...everything else is fol-de-rol. It's about REMEMBRANCE of those in our armed services who have seen fit to give something back to their country for all that they (read WE) enjoy. Many have given that "last full measure of devotion" (as Lincoln remarked during his Gettysburg Address). They have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy (with our oft times cavalier sense of nonchalance).
They are doing (and have done) the RIGHT THING...for the RIGHT REASON.
THEY are the reason we have "a day off"....a day to "barbecue"..a day to "do nothing".
And during all of our "extracurricular activities", how often do we stop for even a moment to acknowledge THEIR patriotism, THEIR sacrifices, THEIR willingness to do what NEEDS to be done in the protection of our freedoms?
Those who at least display our nation's flag are doing more than most.

Check out this link:

I recall a time when a Memorial Day parade in downtown Philly was THE ONLY place to be. Families would gather together, waving small flags as representatives from every armed service marched by. Tanks rumbled along the Ben Franklin Parkway past the Art Museum...trucks, jeeps and color guards passed while the throngs cheered, saluted, placed their hands over their hearts, or even wept for what these brave men and women represented to each of US. They were as much the symbol of liberty and freedom as our flag. I never forgot that.
Air stations and local bases had "open houses" where you could get up close and personal with the machines and personnel attached to our armed services. We even saw the Navy's Blue Angels and Air Force's Thunderbirds on those dates. Many of those bases I attended are now closed...part of the budget cuts that swept through the military during the 80s and 90s.
Today, I don't see all that much in the way of those parades of years gone by. We might have a few small units that are locally stationed march by in some microcosmic version of what we USED to look forward to. I don't even see air shows at local airports all that much. The last show in Fort Wayne that I recall was AT LEAST 6 years ago.
Nothing since.
Maybe a "warbird" or two dropping by for a few days, giving rides as a way to maintain these historic planes...that's it.
We still see veteran organizations or scout troops placing flags on grave sites in our cemeteries...at least THAT hasn't fallen out of "vogue". If you ever get a chance to go to Arlington National Cemetery, you'll get a chance to see HOW it's done. It's something that WILL bring a lump to your throat. There is that somber type of dignity shown wherever you go there. That is patriotism in a most demonstrative form.
We still see the occasional honor guards at cemeteries firing off volleys to recognize those that have passed on, or as we always liked to say, "On Patrol".
New York has "FLEET WEEK", where military personnel spend some much needed liberty, and during the Army-Navy game (when it used to be played in Philly), we had something much similar. It's nice to buddy up with a grunt or a squid at a local bar, and share a brew and some tales.
And of course Washington D.C. is replete with ceremonies to commemorate those who serve and have served. And it's times like that you get a sense of honor, dignity, and duty to one's country.
Used to be a time (during WWII) when ANY military personnel never had want for ANYTHING while staying in some city, awaiting deployment or attending a specialist school...the people bought them drinks, or dinner...and some even invited them HOME for a meal or a place to stay for the night. Of course, that was a time when we held our military personnel in a lot higher esteem than we (apparently) do today. And they didn't have to be a family member to qualify....they were there (in whatever foreign nation) to fight for OUR freedoms against tyranny.
That was good enough for us.
What these brave souls do (and have done) is not about politics...it's about defending freedom and liberty for ALL people, everywhere.
Today, it's all about getting the troops home, and while that IS a primary concern, we should at least have the fortitude to support a stance of VICTORY, instead of "cutting one's losses" and bugging the hell out. I never met any winner in a fight that had his "tail tucked neatly between his legs". You'd have thought we'd have learned that lesson all too well.
In Vietnam, our armed forces WON EVERY MAJOR ENGAGEMENT...that's 100% victory, but does history label us the victors over there? Well, we DID get out (after over 52 thousand troops were killed), but it was nowhere close to the victory we had in WW2, which my father referred to as "The Last Popular War". Our returning troops from 'Nam were labelled "baby killers" and were treated less than noble (by those that didn't understand) for no other reason than the fact that they wore a uniform and served (with honor) this great nation of ours. At least our families "got it".
War has become too close a bedfellow to politics these days.
Our pathetic attention spans (today) demand we "win" within the first several days (or even weeks), or else we're just "not interested" any longer, and move along to other things. That is not the mindset of anyone wanting to win against something as insidious as global terrorism. It didn't work with Nazism...or fascism, or even communism...so why should this be any different?
The media latches onto this, runs with it, and spins it any which way in order to keep viewership up...screw how the troops really feel about winning this conflict...screw those that support the troops, and screw those that think we need to win every war against terrorism both here and abroad.
We decry the fact that over 4000 troops have been killed while close than TWICE that number died in ONE day (June 6, 1944), when we thought it noble and necessary to beat back and defeat the forces of fascism.
It's no wonder that any war, conflict, police action, whatever you call it becomes fodder for the 11 o'clock report. We can always worry about the radical islamists TOMORROW.
Tomorrow is closer than everyone thinks.
So, as today unfolds before us, take some time to remember those that have served (and died) in our military.
THEY made it all possible for YOU to enjoy YOUR brews, your barbecues, and your "day off". If this sounds like I'm laying down a guilt trip on those that need one...works for me.
The rest of you know better...you "get it".
If you have a Vet in your family (or even know of one)...make it THEIR day more than yours.
They have EARNED it...in so many ways...AND...they are DESERVING of it.))


23 May 2008

Friday Follies...
We're on the eve of Memorial Day weekend 2008, and anyone that has the slightest inkling of what the REAL meaning behind Memorial Day is probably going to be taking some time to reflect.
And reflection is good.
Think of it as "food for the soul".
A way to remember.
As a preamble to my Memorial Day post (this Monday), I want to offer some "reflections" if you will regarding the current state of affairs in this fine nation.
---With the ever-rising cost of oil, we've been seeing a financial catastrophe looming, the likes of which (imho) has yet to be rivaled in past history. We could offer up the burning of Rome, or the fire-bombing of Dresden, or assorted floods, earthquakes, and other "acts of nature" as good examples. But what we have here has all the makings of a potential paradigm shift in the global status quo.
If we were to consider some of the possible ramifications of this oil crisis, the world could take on a very different appearance. We could be looking at fiscal collapse of national infrastructures. We're already seeing the house market dropping faster than a $10 whore.
We're also seeing prices rise astronomically, as these fuel costs are passed onto the consumer for every item under the sun (and then some). And when we stop to consider all the products we use in our homes that has some type of petroleum base, we find ourselves deeper in this quagmire of "need".
And what better way to defeat the "nasty USA" than by ECONOMIC means (that we have little control over)? That's for all you conspiracy theorists out there.
In our rush to preserve environments, save species from extinction, and attempt to keep the earth pristine, we've neglected our real needs, and supplanted them with our narcissistic wants. We had the chance to wean ourselves off of SO much oil back in the 1970s...and we did sat on our asses. We had the chance to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, build more nuclear plants, and pursue wind, solar, and geothermal power with an honest zeal for a true balance between nature and ourselves. And we just scratched the asses we sat on.
Now, we spend time reflecting on what "could" have been. We do this because we're no longer able to frivolously drive anywhere, anytime, unless we're willing to hand over a nice chunk of our paychecks to fill the gas tank to do so.
Nice wake-up call.
---I think about when I was a kid...no computer stalkers wanting to "meet" me, no camera cellphones catching us picking our noses (or worse), no video game babysitters, no MTV/BET crap soiling our synapses, and just a lot FEWER problems.
We had simple solutions TO simple problems, when we even HAD problems (like Cold War nuclear annihilation). But that's what being a kid was all about.
Take bicycles...can't get ANY simpler than that, right?
You learn to ride, and that's about it. My dad taught me (I started out on a 24" model of all things - NO training wheels either). And when he did that, it opened up a much larger world for me.
Your bike was many things...it was your motorcycle (with strategically-placed baseball cards in the spokes, which today's kids seem to lack the skills to mimic), it was your horse, it was your partner, it was your "best friend".
Yessir...all I needed was my bike, a stretch of pavement or a road somewhere, and my imagination, and I was off on another "adventure", as were the rest of us kids. And woe to those of us that did not obey the rules of the road. No getting in the way of cars by riding down the middle of the street. NO riding across other peoples' property - that was "Verboten"!
We figured as long as we respected some simple rules, we would be shown respect back. And aside from the rare case where some numb-nut didn't know HOW to drive a damn car, that pretty much worked for us all.
Being a kid in "my" day meant that you had a decent command of your imagination. Hell, you had to have an imagination, because many times, your parents couldn't afford anything else. And if they did, they usually made sure it didn't run on batteries ("...Because they cost money, son").
So we had toy soldiers (green army men), cap pistols, toy trucks and cars...and plenty of "brain activity" to make it all work.
Kids today all seem to have problems we never had. Many are "bored", others suffer from ADHD, and still others just have heads full of bad wiring. And yet...they have ALL this stuff at their fingertips. Now I know some will argue that my generation had the same things said about them by OUR parents and grandparents. Yeah, we do that...compare other generations to OURS. But never was it more pronounced than with today's kids.
MY parents had none of what my generation had, and they still made out OK. MY generation had little if nothing of what kids have to day...and WE (for the most part) turned out OK. But you really have to wonder about today's generation. Every past generation has used what they had available to them to make being a kid work for them. We can't seem to say that today. Today's kids have more problems than we ever did, and yet they have all this "stuff" to keep them from becoming that way.
Makes you think, right?
Makes you "reflect".
So when I have the luxury of a few minutes of peace and quiet, I like to reflect on things like this, among other things. If we never feed our souls, we can't satisfy the hunger that we never can seem to explain. When our stomach is empty...we fill it. Maybe not with the "best " food available (pizza, hoagies and cheesesteaks for me, please), but we are compelled to eat what we need to just to survive. It's instinctual. It's primal. It's necessary.
Would it be that we take as much time wondering how to properly feed our souls as well as our bodies.
Personal reflection might not be a pork tenderloin, but it sure beats the hell out of starving oneself in ways one cannot imagine. And like any kid, you surely must have SOME imagination in you to figure that one out.
---Now if you'll pardon me, I've got to go and see what the squirrels are up to outside.
Looks like my "watch-squirrel" found some new "friends"...and the Force is strong with them apparently.
Catch you on Memorial Day, but in the meantime...
Do have a SAFE weekend.

22 May 2008

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet...
We finally hit the "magic" number. FOUR DOLLARS A GALLON for gasoline. Take a few moments to let that sink in as you sip your coffee. FOUR DOLLARS. Say it a few times out loud. It's OK to get pissed over this. I know I sure as hell am.
I grow weary of people (in power) telling ME to cut back, drive frugally, and consider alternative forms of transportation like bikes and buses.
Been there, done that...and at a time when it wasn't "in vogue".
Enough is truly enough. Now...it's MY time. I've been as frugal as I'm going to be, and it got me NOWHERE, as I'm sure many of you also have seen as you did likewise.
It's OUR time then.
It's time to stop hugging trees, and get those drills tapping the vast reserves under OUR territory for more oil, until this nation wakes the hell up gets serious and does something about another fuel source (and between you...me, and the fencepost...ETHANOL ain't gonna cut it, and certainly NOT for under $3 a gallon). We're not going to "ruin" our environment...not by a long shot. And we're not going to kill of species, destroy our natural resources, or increase global warming. Other nations are doing that much FOR US. And no one seems to bother THEM about it.
The American oil companies are before our lawgivers now in D.C. and the "grilling" they're being exposed to is so limp-wristed it's not funny. MY parent scolded me worse than this to get to the truth.
Let ME ask them some POINT-BLANK questions, and toss a few colorful metaphors, laced with expletives at them, and then we can ALL watch them sweat.
Personally, I'd love to see the government take control of these companies, but it's not going to happen...these mega-firms are too damn powerful, already run the government, have too many people in their hip pockets, and have been at their game for too damn long.
Meanwhile...back at the ranch...we, the consumer have to deal with the fallout from their huge profits. How's $36 BILLION in 3 months grab 'ya?
Be nice if a LOT more of that went into opening NEW refineries (none have been built in close to 30 years), enlarging current ones, and making life tolerable for those on the brink of financial collapse, due to fuel costing more for people to travel to and from work than they're being paid on the damn job.
Predictions say we might very well see FIVE DOLLARS A GALLON gas by summer's end. Amazing how this occurs PRECISELY when we look forward to getting away from it all for a spell, isn't it?
I've belabored this point here to no end. This nation needs to do something...and quickly. If we were to drill for oil in NEW locations today...right now....we still wouldn't see the net results for months, if not years, but at least we'd be moving in a positive direction, instead of having the oil company moguls sitting on their grossly fat asses, smoking $50 cigars, dining on caviar on their yachts.
This is worse that the rail barons of another millennium in SO many ways.
Still...we can do better than this as a nation.
We should.
We must.
And now...let's switch gears...
Missed It By One.
I reported here this past Monday that the new INDIANA JONES film was to premiere this FRIDAY. Thanks to the "overwhelming responses" I received (yeah, I'm being sarcastic here) I found out I was in error. Yeah, I know this RARELY happens, if ever, but I want to be correct whenever I bring you truth in news and information that's worthy of publication here.
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL starts TODAY (Thursday) at theaters near you. But if you still want to go tomorrow, that's fine too.
This did take me by surprise, as I'm used to some blockbuster opening on FRIDAY (as did IRON MAN), or even on a WEDNESDAY (as did the very first STAR WARS movie did on 25 May 1977...a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away), but this Thursday thing threw me off my game, and I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
Tell you one thing...Harrison Ford does pretty good for someone reaching retirement age. He's 65, and to see him once again as our favorite action hero/archaeologist/professor, you'd never think it, or know it. Even though, at one point in the movie, he mentions (during one harrowing ordeal) "This used to be a lot easier".
He's got that right.
Life itself used to be a "lot easier" and I mean that.
If there is ONE THING I have gleaned from all the years I've attended the cinema, it's that no matter WHAT goes on OUTSIDE the theater, given the right movie...the right actors, and the right plot, we CAN forget about the trials and tribulations that will await us after the next two hours are up.
We need to forget some things...for a little while.
We have earned that right.
So for an all too brief time, we won't have a care in the world, as we pass the popcorn.
It's nice to know that.
(We now return you to your regularly-scheduled lives)

21 May 2008

Hump Day Again???
Well, that week sure flew past quickly.
Be nice if we could slow things down just a wee bit. It must be true what they say about getting older - time speeds up.
At least it sure is seems that way.
- Ted Kennedy has been diagnosed with a glioma in the brain...sorry, been through that already. My grandmother (mom's side) had that, and she lasted for almost 4 years.
It started the same way with her...a seizure.
As the tumor grows, loss of balance, coordination and thought processes are the usual symptoms as the glioma presses on certain nerve clusters in the brain.
- Judge Kenny Scheibenberger gets a smackdown from the state appellate court and told to overturn his previous ruling for a 100 year sentence for a career drug dealer, one Sharico Devon Blakeley (29).
During his initial sentence last year, Blakeley often interrupted his lawyer and the prosecutor and challenged Scheibenberger stating at one point, "I'll be back. Soon".
The court of appeals thought the 100-year sentence inappropriate, and remanded the case and ordered Judge Kenny to reduce the sentence to SIXTY years, which (pending good behavior) could see this poison peddler Blakeley released within THIRTY years. Yessir...another travesty of justice.
Gotta love it.
God willing, if I'm still around and see Blakeley walking MY street in 30 years, I'll just shoot the bastard. And with me being in my 80s, what can the judicial system do to me THEN, eh?
- Allen County Sheriff's Department rejected a bid to unionize by a vote of 245-58.
Good idea.
- Kelty home slated for auction to pay for court costs. And to think at one time, he was the best hope (short of a Libertarian) this city had to break this cycle of spending and taxation. Well, I won't dwell on the witch hunt that ensued, but I wish Matt well as he moves from his Florida Drive home to a cottage on Sylvan Lake built by his late great grandfather. It's not a permanent move, but he's going to take things one at a time.
- Last night's City council meeting with County council members in a joint "tether ball" match proved most enjoyable. The ball went back and forth regarding WHO is responsible for bridge maintenance. Tim Pape turned it into a "moral" issue by making an analogy to finding a baby along a road. Discarded infants and bridges in need of repair...yeah, there's a correlation there.
Where's Denny Crane when you need him?
Don't worry folks, that lady ain't singing just yet on this one.
- Oh, Indy will host the 2012 SUPERBOWL (big fat hairy deal)...guess they've got to pay for Lucas Oil Stadium SOME way, hmm? But if that MAYAN calendar prediction of the "end of days" is true (12/21/12) I wouldn't be blowing the wad and getting those tickets JUST yet.
- Harrison Square limps along. But we already predicted problems, didn't we?
Can't quite sell those CONDOS, can they? The "Hardballers" have mentioned about FIVE restaurants that are interested for the retail aspect of the project.
Yeah...more LOW-paying jobs. JUST what this city needs to shore up that welfare-driven tax base eroding the hell out of this 'burg.
Does the phrase "Biting off more than one can chew" have ANY relevance NOW? If not, I'd still stock up on WHITE PAINT, because I know of one "pachyderm" that will be NEEDING it.
...And let's take a talley of the stirring I've been doing in my neighborhood's $hitpot. I've managed to get at least ONE house cited for weed violations, and had one trailer full of refuse (that had been sitting for 2 weeks) towed the hell away (and the people called in a stolen vehicle report the next day...ROFLMAO!)...I love it!
That's 2 for 2.
Now, let's see about calling parking control on that minivan that's been sitting at the curb down the block for OVER a week. And maybe we'll contact NCE to do some follow-ups. Sounds like a plan.
Like I'm fond of saying - Someone has to do it, because If I DON'T do it...NO ONE will, and that's WHY things DO get done down here. It's just ONE GUY trying his damnedest to keep things from getting worse. Imagine what would happen if a few MORE people felt likewise.
Oh, wait...THEY all MOVED.
Life is never without a perverse yet humorous sense of irony...don'cha think?
It's got to get better eventually, because it can't get much worse.
And that's about AS POSITIVE as one can hope to be in OUR part of town.
"Smiles, everyone...Welcome to Fantasy Island".
Yeah...I wish!

20 May 2008

Time Keeps On Slippin'....
...Into the future (as that Steve Miller song goes). And yesterday, we spoke about history. Well, today that IS history, so let's focus on TOMORROW'S history, namely today's PRESENT. If you're a bit confused by all this "time travel", rest assured all will be straightened out...in good time.
One story the local news aired was about the rising cost of LANDSCAPING. Now anyone with some common sense will tell you that doing something half-assed doesn't take much money (or brains), but doing something worthwhile and lasting requires something I like to call WORK.
It's much like Accounting 101 in that regard.
Most every time, you will GET OUT whatever you PUT IN to whatever endeavor you choose to pursue.
That applies REAL WELL to landscaping.
Now since we're not fortunate (or is that UNfortunate) enough to have some palatial estate requiring a platoon of gardeners and an arsenal of equipment to maintain, we have the essentials for lawn care. With the rising fuel prices, many are rethinking the cost of HIRING a landscaper, and with good reason. Down side to this is that these landscapers are taking a hit IN THE WALLET (as well as on the chin).
Many professionals have to put out so much more money for fuel...for their vehicles that carry the equipment as well as the equipment itself, so...well...you do the math on all that.
Some firms have had to cut back staff to balance the ledger. It's not a pretty picture for those businesses in times like this.
Then we have the semi-pros...those that freelance themselves all over the place with nothing more than a trailer with a riding mower, some rakes, a blower, and a smile. Even they are feeling the pinch.
Down from that we have the "I drive a mower in the trunk of my Lincoln to whoever stops me so they can avoid Neighborhood Code enforcement citing them for not cutting their lawn" fellows. These men are farther from retirement than I am, and yet this is the ONLY thing they do. Must be for the pocket change. They will be affected the least.
As for me? Well, I'm one of those that does his OWN lawn, as I've mentioned here often. And I do it using Nikola Tesla's offspring, namely ALTERNATING CURRENT vis-a-vis ELECTRICITY. Got my electric mower, weed whacker, and blower. Less noise than gas-powered counterparts, enough power to get the job done, and NO pollutants. Also...NO going to the gas pump when something craps out. The ONLY thing that can stop me is a power blackout, and the usual time something like THAT would occur would be during a thunderstorm.
And between you, me and the fence post, I don't see the need to drag a 120 Volt power cord about in the pouring rain JUST to mow the damn lawn. I can wait. Patience is STILL a virtue, right folks?
But all of this is just another one of those dominoes you hear falling.
With these fuel prices, the future of family travel also comes into question.
Those long Sunday "drives to nowhere" have all but gone the way of the passenger pigeon.
Every Sunday, after church, the family would get into the car, and Dad would drive....anywhere...somewhere.
No destination in mind...it was just to get away from it all for a spell.
That was something we all came to look forward to.
And it WORKED.
Back in those days, hell we even took the DOG out with us!
Those times when Dad would head outside the city for a nice weekend afternoon tour of Americana are relatively extinct!
AAA has folded their hand, and admitted that people will be travelling LESS come this Memorial Day weekend.
Perhaps it's times like these that family will mean what it USED to mean, as far as "togetherness" is concerned? Maybe we'll see more family activities that are centered around the house (because we can't afford the luxury of driving frivolously to see some farm animals out in the country). Can the old horseshoe pit or badminton net in the backyard be far behind?
I've pretty much been a "homebody" most of my life, except those times when I was "compelled" to be away from home by circumstances I had no control over. But there was always something to do AT or NEAR home. We didn't even have to take a bus to attend school. We had neighborhood schools (something you will most likely see revisited in the very near future). We had neighborhood stores (none of this mall every so many miles apart thing). We had NEIGHBORS (that were a vital part of the communities we grew up in).
We had it all back then, and we didn't even have iPods, cellphones, GPS, MP3, computers, electronic watches (you WOUND it up every day), calculators (pencil, paper, fingers, and some brains were our calculators), and in some extreme cases...portable radios (that was for the "rich"). We couldn't even afford a car early on, so we did without one until Dad could get one. He had friends with cars and they offered to drive us around.
Amazing how we managed to MAKE IT to now...isn't it?
By comparison, today we've become SO accustomed to having "it all", whatever that means this week, and we cringe at the thought of NOT having all this stuff we seemingly cannot do without.
Well, this gas crunch is forcing us to think "outside our box" as it were.
And perhaps taking a few pages from our past will see us through just fine during the interim.We might even start a damn TREND!
Maybe if we were all just a little MORE self-sufficient, and a little LESS reliant on all these bells and whistles, we might rekindle what it meant to be a family...a community...even a nation.
What the hell...it sure can't hurt at this point in time...right?