Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fast fights?

Has anyone ever sold a war claiming "man, this is going to go on for years"? Seems like every time someone elects to go to war there's that "it'll be over by Christmas" pledge.

Althougth they didn't have Christmas back then as a war ending benchmark, the Athenians promised a quick victory over the Spartans. More than 30 years later, the Athenians lost their ass.

In August of 1914, the so called great powers, now that the holiday had been invented, promised that it would be over by Christmas. Four years and millions of dead later, the world lay in ruin.

We were supposed to get in and out of Vietnam right away. Ten years later, we get out, three years later the cause 50,000 Americans gave their life for - protecting South Vietnam from Communism, was lost.

How long was Kosovo promised to last? Last time I checked, we're still in Bosnia.

Now we go into Iraq. Whatever happened to those chickenhawks who told us it would be over in six months and we'd pay for it all with oil money? The Bristih initiated a Mesopotamian campaign in 1914, where they invaded Iraq. Five years later, and over 30,000 casualties, they finally conquered the country. As for lasting impact of the ultimate sacrifice of those dead and wounded, the Iraqui house has never been in order. It still isn't.

There was a pro war "support the troops and their mission" rally last weekend in Washington. Speaker after speaker spoke of the "ultimate sacrifice" made by our troops, and the need to finish the mission - honor that sacrifice.

"Mission accomplished" is more than a propaganda baner on ship - it's got to me an idenfiable, realistic goal - worth the most precious resource we have - American lives.

Do people really think that, at some point in the very near future, Iraq will become a stable democracy, say like Iowa, where everyone just gets along.

Democracies are forged, not imposed. A successful democracy, with a diverse population, requires that people trade their differences, foregoing revenge for past wrongs, for the blessings of peace and liberty. To those supporters of the "mission" - does it really look like the Sunni, Kurdish and Shiite factions, who've been at odds for centuries in Iraq, are ready to eat such humble pie? Or, like two combatants in a domestic disturbance, are they just waitin for the cops to leave?

When the epilogue of this war is written eighty years from now, I hope and pray the American blood staining the sands of Iraq will bear better fruit than their British predicessors'.

How many times can we turn our heads - in favor of a cartoonistic notion that we can remake in just a short time an Iraq that dates back to Mesopotamia - and pretend that we just don't see what's really going on?

The answer is blowing in the wind.


A Picture Share!

A camera phone post from Boston

Monday, September 26, 2005

Evil House of Spirits 6?

This morning I came out to find a flat tire on Debra's brand new Element!

It looks like a screw became embedded in the tire. The smudge around the screw suggests that the Element was driven for awhile with the screw before the tire became flat.

I drove the Element to work Friday morining, and from there to Virginia to do a bike ride. I drove 60 miles back to home on Saturday afternoon. Then Debra drove it to the grocery on Sunday afternoon.

Maybe one of us ran over the screw. Or maybe somebody screwed the screw into the tire on Saturday night so that it would eventually puncture the tire after we started driving.

It's probably just a coincidence that I testified to the liquor board about the House of Spirits Thursday afternoon.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bike Ride Report - DC Randonneurs Fall 200k

I rode a 200k Brevet yesterday in Virginia. It had 6860 feet of climb. I kicked butt, but it looks like the butt-kicking went the other way right after I finished.

The privacy curtains for Debra's new Element arrived this week. Here is the camp scene before bed the night before. I just parked on the street by the start point.

This is Ron, another recumbent rider and T-Bone owner, who did the ride. Ron and I often exchange e-mails. This is the first time we've met. Ron kept flying by me at insane speeds on all the downhills. This is right before the ride started, at 7:00 am. It was overcast so it wasn't very light out yet.

Uh-oh, there everyone goes! Enough chit-chat!

I was on a mission during the ride, and didn't take any pictures. However, Ron did, and he e-mailed me this one to put on the blog:

It was a gray, overcast day, about 70 degrees out. The scenery was excellent as always. Starting in Warrenton, VA, we crossed the Blue Ridge on 55, then rode along the Shenandoah River, then west through historic towns. On top of the ridge, we turned north into West Virginia for a bit. Then it was back down over the Shenandoah, and up a long climb over Snicker's Gap to Bluemont. The return was through giant horse farm estates with stone fences around The Plains. Coming back into Warrenton, we had to go through some short, steep valleys. One last attempt to make your legs fall off. It took me 8:30, average rolling speed was 15.9 mph.

I rode the Cobrabikes Royale, it was flawless, and climbs like a mountain goat.

The map with elevation is over on my web site.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dem O's (that's zero's)

Every now and then, I hear rumblings that the Orioles might leave. You ask me, they've already left. The Orioles who won world series, the Orioles of Palmer, Stone, Boog, the Robisons - Brooks and Fank. Simon & Garfunkel asked "where did you go Joe Damagio" I'm asking "where did you go Earl Weaver?"

It seems like that coffee commercial, somenone secretly replaced the team. Can we get Fox Mulder to look into how a team can lead the American League East, arguably the toughest division in baseball for the first half of the season, and now they can't win at Tampa Bay. And to rub salt in the wound, they lose so many games to the Yankees, that the Bronx Bombers have now replaced Boston as the first place in the division.

You can blame free agency, for assembling so called teams that are nothing more than aggregations of superstar egomaniac non-team players. You c an blame the owner, who not only signs players, ingnoring the baseball scouts hired to scout talent, but agreed to a team 45 minutes South of here, as long as he, the owner, was garanteed money. With another major league franchise so close, are we ever really going to have the large media market needed to bring in the bucks needed to sign top players - or are we destined to become the Milwaukee Brewers of the AL East?

According to the birding crowd, the true Baltimore Oriole, the orange and black bird, is now extinct. Somehow, while none of us were watching, it faded away into obscurity, and then ceased to exist. This baseball season is a wake up call that the team that bears their name is proving the addage that "birds of a feather flock together."


Testimony from a recent convert

I've seen the light. I can't believe it's taken so long.

Flying Spaghetti Monster

I believe. Check it out.

Evil House of Spirits 5 - GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY

Today was the liquor board hearing. The liquor board voted 2-1 that the EHOS had sold booze to an intoxicated person. They have to pay $125 in court costs, and their choice of a $900 fine or a 9 day closure. They had to pay for a lawyer, too.

Unbelievably, one of the board members found the material on this blog unconvincing. Or maybe he believed the testimony of the EHOS that I kick old men, sic my dog on children, and run over people with my car. I am the problem. As to Mr. Cleveland, he is a nice old man, unfortunately homeless, and they bring him sandwiches and glasses of lemonade as any charitable person would.

After the verdict was read, we received a lecture on how we all have to get along and not escalate this conflict. I received a lecture on how they have a right to run their business.

I found the whole experience to be very stressful and unpleasant.

Apparently, the EHOS guys thought the part about getting along better in the future only applies to me. As soon as we left the hearing room, they were immediately in my face, especially this guy:
He said if I didn't take his picture down in three days, he would sue me. I guess he's embarrassed to have a picture of himself standing in front of his family's store making an obscene gesture posted on the Internet. I have to admit I was mistaken in yesterday's post about which guy from the EHOS called the police in a lame attempt to get me to take his picture down.

Since they all started yelling at me while we were waiting for the elevators, I ducked into the stairwell and took the stairs.

When I went to walk the dog, they were all in my face again when I tried to cross the street by their store. I said nothing and kept walking.

I hope this all cools down. It will be great if Mr. Cleveland never reappears and the EHOS guys ignore me as I intend to ignore them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Evil House of Spirits 4

Two police officers came to visit me tonight. They were called by this guy, who complained that I had taken his picture and put it on the web without his permission.

I said, that is in fact the case. It's not against the law. The policeman said he was pretty sure it was against the law, and the guy was unhappy about it.

I said, I'm sure the guy is unhappy, but that is because his family liquor store is getting hauled before the liquor board tomorrow for selling alcohol to drunks, and this is his final attempt at intimidation so I don't testify.

I told the police officer that I would be glad to take the picture down if I was breaking a law. He called back to his supervisor, and determined that it is not against the law.

I should hope not. It's called the right of free speech. This is America. By exercising my right of free speech concerning liquor stores selling alcohol to drunks who then pass out on the sidewalk, I am helping law enforcement and making my community a better place.

The police were nice. One of them had taken the complaint when Debra was a victim of identity theft a couple months ago, and he did a great job then. He asked what happened with the identity theft case: the perpetrator is in jail in part due to his good work.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Bike Ride Report - Backroads Century

I rode a century today. Yesterday, too. Here I am at the end of today's ride. Don't I look fresh and perky?

Today's century was the Potomoc Pedalers Historic Back Roads Century. 100 Miles of scenic country roads and rolling hills in the Shenandoah Valley of northern Virginia and West Virginia. I measured 3500 feet of climb.

What was cool is I got to test out Debra's brand new car! She just got it yesterday.

Here is what's cool about the Element. This century started in Berryville, VA, which is 100 miles from home. You have to register between 7 and 9. So that would mean getting up pretty darn early to drive out there from Baltimore.

But with the Element, you can drive out the night before and sleep in the car. With your bike!

I woke up about 7:00 am because of all the people slamming car doors around me. I went over and registered, and had a Frappechino and a Luna Bar for breakfast. By 8:15 I was ready to roll, and very well rested.

This is the new bike, a Cobrabikes Royale carbon fiber recumbent. I've been messing with it for months to make it road-ready. Yesterday was a 100 mile ride shakedown ride on the Eastern Shore, which is very flat. But today was the big test. Lots of hills. The Royale did great. I averaged 16 mph, and I only had to do a couple minor adjustments on the road.

They had nice rest stops. This is the Burwell Morgan Mill, built in 1785. It was grinding corn today when I was there.

The rest area was behind the mll. In addition to the usual bananas, Gatorade, and peanut butter sandwiches, they were giving away salted boiled potatos. My potato was delicious. The people working the rest stop were very funny. They suggested lots of things we could do with a potato.

Another rest stop was at White Post Restorations, in White Post, VA. I just assumed they restored houses, but it's cars they restore. They were having a mini car show with about 20 antique street rods and other cars. Bluegrass music was playing in the background. (Yes, Gabe, that's a 442 on the left.)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bushed in New Orleans

Got to admire a President who got re-elected by carping that Kerry was a flip flopper. Obviously From praising the political appointee heading FEMA days after the disaster, to now saying that Fed's let us down, Bush qualifies for the Guiness Record for flopping, then flipping.

Isn't this the same Commander and Chief who ran on his record as a wartime President, assuring the electorate he'd scared to death that we were now so much better prepared. He appoints a guy who worked for the International Arabian Horse Association. Now I can see how an Arabian horse expert might come in handy if those pesky arab terrorists attack us on arabian horses, but the last time I checked, they used aircraft. It gets better, according to the Boston Herald, Brown got his job at FEMA after being fired from the arabian horse association, because a "spate of lawsuits alleged supervision failures." Small wonder that anyone with a TV set knew there were people desparately in need of help at the Convention Center in New Orleans, except the FEMA director.

Now we're going to spend two hundred billion dollars. Echoing in the background you can already hear the words "no bid contracts" and "Haliburton" resonating. One thing is for sure, they won't have to give a lot of that money to those hard working locals hired to do the hands on rebuilding, since Bush signed an excutive order suspending a rule that requires that employeees of federal contractors be paid the prevailing local wage.

Two good things about this whole ordeal:

First, the last time we were sold a 200 billion dollar proposal, it was for a 300 billion and still counting war in Iraq. Here, the money will be used to help our fellow Americans do somethign other than fight and die for a cause that's never been fully explained.

Second, it's been an eye opener to see "refugees" from an American City, looking like they were from a third world country. The lesson here is that poverty doesn'g to away just because you chose not to look at it. Barbara Bush was right. The refugees, once relocated, will be living better than they were at home in the Big Easy. Blame whoever you want, but the people I saw on TV were not the tourists bussed out before the storm hit, but urban poor - seemingly all African American.

Make all the noise you want about "no child lecft behing," these are an entired class of people left behind. And you'lld find them in all colors and creeds, in every major metropolitan City. They don't need houses and $5,000 - they need a future - a reason to perceive themselves as having a stake in society. Stop throwing them them a fish and teach them how to fish.

It's a shame that it takes a flood to teach us that we have turned away from the Commandment to love our neighbors. Unlike Noah, though, this time only the tourists were spared.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Waterfront Hotel - Review

Debra and I went out to dinner tonight. I thought I'd write a review.

We went to the Waterfront Hotel. It used to be the Waterfront Hotel was a regular Fells Point place with some loser playing guitar for people who drove down from Towson. But Debra's suburbanite cow-orkers were down here for a conference, and they reported back to her that they went to "some dive bar" in Fells Point that had remarkably good food.

This triggered Debra's memory that we had been talking to Ben a couple months ago at the Red Star, where he has a stake. Ben used to have a place called "The Planet on the Corner" that was a couple doors down from us. He had great food. We used to eat there every other night (take-out due to the cancerous death fumes in the establishment). We loved the Planet. But it went away because Miss Darlene the landlady who lived upstairs didn't like the noise and she used to call the cops with noise complaints on her own tenants, so the story goes. Anyway, when we saw Ben a couple months ago, he said he had bought the Waterfront Hotel, which had been closed for awhile.

Debra and I went to check it out. Downstairs was pool tables and a cancerous haze. We went to the dining room upstairs which was very nice.

We were saying "this is very Ben", because the paintings on the walls were just like the Planet and there were board games in the cabinet on the side. There used to be a piano and a guitar in the the back of the Planet, and I remember we went in there one night with some musical friends and commenced to singing every truck driver song we knew.

The view from the dining room was first rate.

Baltimore has been invaded by South Beach Trendy Food. Ceviche.

I love ceviche. I can't believe ceviche is appearing on every menu in Fells Point all of a sudden.

I have tried ceviche in three Baltimore places so far. The Waterfront Hotel ranks #2. It is good but not so authentic. It is cooked for one thing. It is served on SLAW! Good grief.

El Trouvador on Broadway is the best so far. It is actually raw as it should be. Last is Carolina's Tex Mex, which is all cooked and had salmon for fish. Get real.

At the Waterfront, my entree was Ahi Tuna, which I ate most of before I remembered to take a picture. It was the bomb. Debra got the smoked chicken on pasta with sun-dried tomatos (which looked like rat brains). It was very good. But the tuna is the bomb.

All in all, we were delighted and we are so glad the Food of the Planet is back. Maybe there will be blancas as a special some day. I miss the blancas.

Happy happy happy.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Top ten reasons I love Bush

10. Reminds me of the beer by the same name - leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and the next day you wake up feeling like you got beat up.
9. Sends Congolesa Rice, the PHD educated cold war specialist Secretary of State to review the Gulf hurrican damage. Maybe he got the wrong Gulf.
8. Repub. Gov and Mayor in New York get unprecedented federal immediate response. Miss and Ala Repub governors get a visit. Louisian, with a dem gov, and New Orleans, with a dem mayor, get an Air Force One fly over. I think he was waiving with all his fingers.
7. Thank God he stayed at the ranch on vacaation two days after the hurrican hit. Without Cheney to tell him what do do, one can only imagine how much worse it would have been.
6. Love the praise for the FEMA director- can't wait t'ill those "support our FEMA troops" magnetic ribbons start appearing.
5. He tells a woman who asks for aid to try the salvation army store - which of course was destroyed by the hurricane. Nice to see that charity mentioned by someone other than a bell rining Santa.
4. Says his administration will investigate what went right and what went wrong with the response to Katrina. Translation: they need some time to "swift boat" what went wrong into what when right.
3. Billions for a Homeland Security Department that's supposed to respond right away to unforseen threats or disasters - yet that Department can't respond right away to a hurricane that anyone with a TV set knew for a week was headed for New Orleans.
2. Doubt we really want the rebuilding of the Gulf coast broung to you by the Admnistration that gave us Iraq. Hope Haliburton employees will not doubt like this Gulf more than the Persian one.

And the number 1 top ten reason I love Bush:

1. The effort being made to keep reporters and cameramen from showing the dead, to "protect the families." I'm sure those families deeply appreciate the fact that their loved ones' sacrifices are not made public. Besides, showing the dead is a realy downer, because it reminds us that incompetence, neglect - and yes war - have a horrific cost. Showing these pictures is like the guy at the college toga party who goes around the room reminding everyone that it's going to be hell cleaning up the mess.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Evil House of Spirits 3

Everyone is invited to come and watch!
(You have to receive a subpoena to testify.)

You would think that with a liquor board hearing only two weeks away, that I would not come home to find Mr. Cleveland sitting in his usual spot across the street from the EHOS in a state of advanced intoxication.

With an open bottle next to him.

The EHOS guys are always glad to see me taking pictures. I wish I had held the camera more steady. He's flipping me off.

I went up to the park and walked the dog. On my way up, I called the police to report Mr. Cleveland and his open container. On my way back from the park, I hung out on the corner waiting for the police to arrive. Mr. Cleveland and the EHOS guys started ranting at me. Mr. Cleveland picked up his bottle and started to walk away.

The police did a great job. The arrived promptly, before Mr. Cleveland could make it half a block, and hauled him off.