I Never Thought I Would Write A President Before – The Debt Ceiling Edition

January 15, 2013

This administration has changed my thoughts on writing the president. Add in the fact that the internet has made it a lot easier, I think this one is number five. I also never thought I would address a president using a “four letter word” but sometimes a properly placed expletive adds just the right emphasis and I think this is the time. This is what I sent him.

Mr. President,

Why are you complaining that your second term will be a battle against Republicans who you claim prefer to heed “the imperatives they feel with regard to their own politics” rather than the will of the American people? The American people didn’t elect you to hear you complain.

The will of the American people is that you do what you promised and cut the debt, not raise the debt ceiling again. It is time you listen to us, the American people.

I read a great analogy not too long ago about the debt ceiling. I think it expresses how most American feel about it. If you came home and found a horrible sewage leak had flooded your home, what would you do? Would you raise your ceiling or shovel the shit? The majority of Americans with a modicum of common sense would shovel.

The time is long overdue for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to do the right thing, grow a backbone and use some common sense. Stop the entitlements, stop over regulating and most importantly, stop spending. So many fixes for the debt crisis are so easy and evident to those with common sense yet overlooked by lawmakers.

Mr. President, it is time for every person in this country to start shoveling the sewage that virtually every politician in this once great nation has allowed to bring our country to this pivotal moment. My question to you is, are you man enough to do what you promised and cut the debt, or will you just go down in history as another politician who couldn’t make a difference and had no common sense?

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Why Are We Poisoning Our Pets?

December 6, 2012

Most people assume that the flea and tick treatments used for our pets are safe. I certainly did until I was shown an all-natural product that claimed to eliminate the harmful chemicals used in pet flea and tick products. I decided to do some research to find out what these supposedly harmful products were and what they may or may not be doing to our pets.

The first thing I discovered is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not begin to review pet products for safety until 1996. There is a substantial backlog of products waiting to be tested, so many pet products containing potentially harmful pesticides still make their way onto store shelves. In addition due to their testing procedures many products are only tested on one breed type or one size of cat or dog. A product that causes little distress to a Rottweiler may have a much different effect on a Chihuahua.

In my research I was able to find that virtually all pet flea and tick products sold over the counter or by prescription contain substances called Pyrethrins (natural) or Pyrethroids (synthesized). Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids are defined as contact poisons. According to Cornell University, “Animals exposed to toxic amounts may experience tongue and lip numbness, nausea, and diarrhea. Symptoms may also include incoordination, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, respiratory failure, and death”. Despite this most over the counter and prescription flea and tick treatments contain these poisons. These same natural and synthetic poisons are deemed safe for pets by the EPA are defined by them as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans”.

In 2008 the Center for Public Integrity released a report showing that in the previous five years 1,600 pet deaths and over 25,000 reports of reactions were reported to the EPA for spot on treatments, alone. These were for treatments produced by Hartz, Sergeant’s, Farnam, and Bayer.

The concentrations of pyrethroids in over-the-counter spot on pet treatments range from a 40 percent to an 85 percent solution, eight to 17 times stronger than the strongest pyrethroid product currently approved for use on humans. Neither the EPA, which generally regulates topically applied products, nor the Food and Drug Administration, which generally regulates orally applied pet products, has a product registered for human application containing a pyrethroid concentration above 5 percent, and the FDA-approved product requires a doctor’s prescription. In fact, the Sergeant’s Gold Squeeze-On for Dogs warning reads: “Harmful if swallowed or absorbed through skin,” while the application portion of the label directs people to apply the treatment “to the dog’s skin.”

The Center For Public Integrity’s study said pyrethroid-based flea and tick treatments are approved for sale by the EPA, and they are readily available in powders, shampoos, dips, sprays, and other forms, “but they are also linked to thousands of reported pet poisonings, and they have stirred the ire of pet owners, the concern of veterinarians, and the attention of regulatory agencies.”

Pyrethroid toxicity targets nerve and muscle cells in pets, according to a study published in The Veterinary Journal in June 2008. The study found that dermal exposure by application to the skin or coat is the most common route of toxic exposure, potentially causing hyperexcitability, tremors, profuse salivation, and seizures. The seizures can result in brain damage or, less frequently, death.

Besides pyrethroid-based products, ingredients to be wary of are organophosphate insecticides (OPs) and carbamates, both of which are found in various flea and tick products. The only OP currently found in flea and tick products in the U.S. istetrachlorvinphos. This chemical is classified by the EPA as being “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” There are questions about the effects of long-term, cumulative exposures as well as combined exposures from the use of other products containing OPs and carbamates. Permethrin is another chemical that the EPA has classified as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” if ingested orally.

If the ingredient list includes carbaryl or propoxur, the product contains a carbamate. According to the NRDC, the potential dangers posed by these products are greatest for children and pets. Propoxur is considered to be a “probable human carcinogen” by the EPA. As of September 2010, Carbaryl will no longer be permitted for use in new pet products. However, existing stock of flea/tick products containing carbaryl can still be sold. The Humane Society of the US recommends that pet products containing carbaryl should be disposed of and not used on pets. It has been found that residue levels produced by some flea collars are so high they pose a risk of cancer to children up to 1,000 times higher than acceptable to the EPA.

In a 60 day period in 2011 the EPA received over 1,100 public comments from private citizens and groups including the American Veterinarian Association, Animal Health Institute, Humane Society of the US, Beyond Pesticides, TinyTimmy.org, Hesperian Group, Biospotvictims.org and Companion Animal Parasite Council, reporting adverse effects related to the use of pesticides in animal pest control.

The upshot of these findings is, for me, fairly simple. First off, it is obvious that a great deal of research and probably regulation needs to be done. Secondly, I have decided to not use these products on our pets any more. Despite the fact that our dog seems to have no adverse effects to flea and tick products I can’t see risking them when there are safe, natural alternatives. She is now wearing a Pet Protector disc for her flea and tick protection. Pet Protector is the only nontoxic pet protection with scientific proof of its effectiveness. Over 20,000,000 have been sold worldwide with none returned under warranty. Best of all it is 5 times cheaper than the chemically laden collars, baths and rubs.

http://petprotectorus.com/

Pet Protector Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoPCigGbNs0&feature=youtu.be
Pet Protector Presentation

The Allergy Gods Are Cruelest

March 30, 2012

When I was a kid I had allergies. These weren’t the sniffly, nose, runny eyes things they talk about on TV ads for allergy remedies. These were the kind of allergies that when my parents took me out in public between March and November, 1960’s vintage housewives in 1960’s vintage housewife uniforms would approach my parents, tentatively, lightly touch my head, or grasp my chin, look into my completely bloodshot eyes and in tones normally reserved for churches or hospitals, ask my parents, “will it live?”

Dad worked in an Army surgical hospital in Germany in WWII. He never talked about it but I’m sure my allergies seemed like a minor annoyance compared to what he had seen in war. The only time I ever saw him overly concerned for my health was the time I had an artery nicked and he stopped that blood flow in a matter of moments. For the other 500 + stitches, the breaks, sprains, tears, his care was usually advice to walk it off and a look of minor admiration that his boy was growing up tough.

My father’s take on my allergy care was similar to his care of most wounds, which was the breathing equivalent of, walking it off. The medical community was stumped so I truly believe Dad thought the more exposure I had to allergens, the better. He owned a funeral home and a small complex with a laundromat, dry cleaners and store. They both had grass and bushes and from the time I was about 6, I was involved in maintenance, which meant mowing the grass.

One day, when I was 7, Dad and I were working on the lawn and clearing and trimming a row of bushes at the side of the funeral home. It was probably 90 degrees and the humidity was about as high as it can get in Pennsylvania. If you have ever spent a summer in PA, you know the humidity can get well into triple digits.

At the end of our lawn care marathon Dad and I sat down on the front steps and he said, “Here, want a sip?” Through the haze of my mostly swollen, blood shot, rummy eyes I could make out what looked like a ham holding a golden chalice. I will never forget my first taste of Miller High Life, The Champagne of Beers. I am sure there were angels singing nearby but my ears were too congested to hear.

I know most people say they had to learn to like beer. I had to learn that I had to wait many years to get more of it on a regular basis. As I have gotten older I learned to appreciate beer in all of its many varieties. In college I started buying imports, which at the time was still pretty exotic stuff. I started brewing at 24 and my tastes became even more refined. My wife and I love to travel and we always incorporate a new craft brewery or beer festival on our travels.

If my father was still living I’m sure he’d be a little disappointed in that I haven’t been able to walk off a chronically bad back and neck. I used a cane for many years and sometimes the strangest things will set me off into a new world of pain. One of those is sneezing. I sneeze, the neck cracks and I’m looking for pain meds. When I’m on pain meds, I can’t drink beer and I’ve noticed something extremely discouraging of late. When I’m not drinking beer, my allergies are better.

The wife has been out of town for a few days on business. I wasn’t drinking while she was gone. To celebrate her return home last night we cracked open a bottle of Abita 25th Anniversary Vanilla Doubledog and followed it with a Sierra Ruthless Rye. When I woke up this morning my left eye was slightly swollen and felt like it had an ice pick in it. My ears were ringing, my nose was running and I cracked my neck sneezing, which means I need a pill for the pain from my botched neck surgery. It is a vicious cycle, which I must conquer.

We are leaving for San Francisco in a few weeks. One of the events on our itinerary is a beer festival. I have decided that my father had the right idea with regard to allergens. I need more exposure. I’m pretty sure we have some Weyerbacher Fireside Ale in the garage. That should be a good start.

A Response to 8 Reasons to Support President Obama

March 25, 2012

I am a 52 year old white male who lives in a racially mixed area in a small city. Anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t have a racist bone in my body. My stepson is married to another man and I support their choice and all gay unions. I believe that women should control their bodies. They should make choices for their health and well being and not have those decisions dictated by state or federal government. I have been published and support the arts. I do not own a gun (yet) but support the right to responsible gun ownership and usage. Most of my social leanings are to the left of center but I am also a fiscally conservative businessman, which puts me in a tough spot given the times in which we live.

Recently, I’ve been seeing some people post a hand written poster on Facebook stating 8 reasons to reelect President Obama. I think it might be a good idea to address some of those reasons from a factual standpoint. I also encourage you to research what you are reading, not just accept it as fact. The reasons from the poster are italicized. The facts I present are from government statistics:

1. Health care reform. President Obama’s original forecast said the cost would be $940 billion dollars. The Congressional Budget Office recently released figures showing the actual cost will be $1.76 Trillion. He was wrong by about half. If you or I had a cost overrun of that magnitude we would be fired.
2. He ended the war in Iraq. False. Policy was already in place regarding troops leaving Iraq when President Obama took office and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq happened almost to the exact timetable set before he entered office. He is drawing the war to a close in Afghanistan. False. There are more US boots on the ground now in Afghanistan than ever before. Many of these are private contractors, which obscures the numbers but at the end of 2011 there were 87,000 private contractors in Afghanistan. US troops in Afghanistan increased in 2010 from 30,000 to almost 100,000 by year’s end. In addition to escalating military efforts in Afghanistan we have bombed Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia and threatened Eritrea on President Obama’s watch.
3. He thinks women should have free preventative health care. There is nothing in the constitution that says anyone should have free anything given to them by the government. More importantly, what you are referring to is socialized health care which is failing the world over. Documenting this would take more time and room than I have allotted here. Do some research.
4. He signed Lilly Ledbetter Act. That is a fact. He also signed it three days before he promised he would sign any bill during his campaign.
5. He is promoting and investing in clean energy jobs. The companies he invested tax payer monies into paid big bonuses to their management and then went bankrupt, leaving taxpayers liable for his bad judgment to the tune of half a billion dollars. Do a search for Solyndra. You may also want to search for George Kaiser and check out his relationship to President Obama’s 2008 campaign and Mr. Kaiser’s investments in Solyndra.
6. He supports no child left behind. According to the Department of Education the federal government causes 41% of the administrative cost burden at the state level for education while providing only 7% of overall educational funding. According to the Federal Office of Management and Budget, No Child Left Behind increased state and local governments’ annual paperwork burden by 6,680,334 hours, at an estimated cost of $141 million dollars. To put it into painfully simple terms, if you had $41.00 would you willingly give it to your bank, knowing that you would get $7.00 back? Of course you wouldn’t. It is another glaring example of federal programs costing a great deal of money to little effect.
7. He thinks the wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes. It is a no brainer. Agreed. Is that a reason to elect someone president?
8. Despite inheriting one of the worst economic messes since the Great Depression he added 2.6 million private sector jobs to our economy and indications are the economy is slowly improving. To anyone who thinks it’s been too slow – don’t you know you can’t turn the Titanic around in a day? The Titanic sank. Obama’s job record looks decent only if you look solely at private sector jobs. Overall, his job performance is the worst in history since Herbert Hoover. Check the facts.

Since I’ve started down this path I thought I would make my own list, based on factual research of reasons to consider not voting for President Obama, listed in no particular order.

Everyone knows politicians are not going to be able to live up to all of their promises, especially as president. There are several websites tracking President Obama’s campaign promises and the failures according to most of them are about 4 typewritten pages long. That being said, there are a few glaring failed campaign promises that should be addressed on my list:
1. Close Guantanamo Bay. As a democrat new to office, this could have been a bold strike against republicans. Instead he has gone back on his word and has resumed military tribunals there as well as transferred the accused 9/11 plotters from a civilian court in NY to a secret military tribunal at Guantanamo.
2. Health care for all. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that if the reforms take place, by 2014, 22 million Americans will still be without basic health care.
3. End income tax for seniors making less than $50,000. It has fallen completely off of the radar.
4. End no bid contracts above $25,000. It hasn’t happened and probably won’t.
5. He claims he wants to increase taxes for high earners but agreed to allow the Bush era rules to stand in place. The only way he’ll be able to fulfill that promise is being reelected so effectively, that is a broken promise for this term.
6. Allow imported prescription drugs. Due to negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies in exchange for support of Obamacare, the plan is off the table.
7. Double funds for cancer research. It has gone from $4.8 billion to $5.196 billion. His math was almost as poor on this as it was on healthcare reform.
8. Reject the Military Commissions Act on handling detainees. See Guantanamo notes on number 1.
9. Allow 5 days of public comment before signing non-emergency bills. The Lilly Ledbetter Bill, the first bill signed by President Obama, which is mentioned in number 4 of the reasons to support President Obama, was passed by the House on January 27, 2009 and signed by the president on the 29th.
10. Support of a human mission to the moon by 2020. It has been dropped from the budget but not before $9 billion dollars was spent on it.
11. Within one year of taking office convert the entire White House fleet to plug-ins. I can’t wait to see the president climbing out of the back of a Nissan Leaf.
12. No family making less than $250,000 will see any form of tax increase. Talk to your accountant.
13. Negotiate all health care reform on C-Span. Another transparency promise failure.
14. Comprehensive immigration bill in the first year. We’re still waiting.

Aside from failed campaign promises, why might it not be such a good idea to reelect our current president? According to the US Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans living in “extreme poverty” is at an all time high. Please note, this is not sheer numbers. This is the highest percentage, ever in the history of the USA. This is a statistical fact from the federal government, not a random opinion, like what is stated in number eight of the reasons to reelect Obama poster.

Since Barack Obama took office, recipients of food stamps have risen by 45 percent. Again, according to the Census Bureau, 49% of Americans live in a household that receives direct monetary aid from the federal government. When President Obama entered the white house the number of “long term unemployed workers” was at 2.6 million. Today it is at 5.6 million. Again, this reflects poorly on the poster statement in #8.

Since President Obama took office, according to figures released 02/27/2012, total jobs have decreased by 1.2 million, home values have decreased by 13% and the misery index has risen from 7.8 to 11.2 or a 44% increase during his term in office. See poster #8 again.

Barack Obama is certainly not the cause of all of these woes but there are a couple areas that are even more disturbing than the facts already laid out. Federal spending is the first concern. Despite claims that he would not increase debt, it has risen from $10.6 trillion dollars when he took office to $15.6 trillion as of March 16, 2012. According to the U.S. Treasury, President Obama is increasing debt by an average of $4.24 billion a day. He is on pace to increase the national debt by term’s end to $ 6.2 trillion. That is more debt than was accumulated by all presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton, combined. The U.S. national debt did not eclipse the $6.195 trillion level, the amount Obama is on pace to increase it in one term, until August 19, 2002, during President George W. Bush’s second year of office. During George W Bush’s term in office, his spending was at $1.66 billion a day, the highest spending by a president until Barack Obama took office.

My greatest concern is the implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA. On December 31, 2011 President Obama signed the NDAA into law, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in US history.

On, March 4, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder told an audience at Northwestern University Law School that the President of the United States “in full accordance with the Constitution” can kill American citizens that pose a threat to the Federal government. Holder added that the President’s authority to murder U.S. citizens without due process, trial or conviction is “not limited to the battlefields in Afghanistan” because “we are at war with a stateless enemy, prone to shifting operations from country to country.”

Judge Andrew Napolitano put Holder’s explanation of why it is acceptable to kill Americans without trial into perspective in a recent FOX News interview, “His [Holder’s] argument is that there is a substituted form of due process. That if the President and his advisors carefully consider the danger of a human being and conclude that that human being needs to be stopped before that person causes any more danger, then the President can kill him. That’s their argument. There is no case law that stands for that, there is no statue that authorizes it and it directly defies the 5th Amendment to the Constitution.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union website, “The breadth of the NDAA’s worldwide detention authority violates the Constitution and international law because it is not limited to people captured in an actual armed conflict, as required by the laws of war.”

Given the fact that the U.S. federal budget deficit continues to grow, as weak economic growth and stagnant unemployment numbers decrease revenue, I will not vote for him. Given the number of failed campaign promises, I will not vote for him. Given the facts stated earlier in response to the opinions on the poster, I will not vote for him. Given the current administration’s end runs around Congress (cap & trade, net neutrality reclassification, recess appointments and drilling bans), it’s violations of civil rights (Guantanamo, increased wire tapping, TSA searches, increased surveillance, allowing human rights violations continuing in Uzbekistan to keep supply lines open to Afghanistan and the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki) I will not vote for him. I must say that I don’t oppose killing a terrorist but it sets an unfortunate precedent in that he was an American citizen, whose civil rights were denied by Presidential order.

Finally and most importantly, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law on New Year’s Eve, 2011. With the President’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the writ of habeas corpus, a civil right so fundamental to Anglo-American common law history that it predates the Magna Carta, is now voidable upon the command of the President of the United States. Anyone he deems “belligerent” to the United States or the Federal Reserve Bank, he can order arrested without warrant and detained without legal counsel. When a sitting president who is a former law professor signs a law that both liberals and conservatives agree is in violation of the Constitution of the United States, I certainly will not vote for him.

My Wife The Thrill Seeker

January 16, 2012

Most people accept that there are people genetically predisposed to thrill seeking activities. My parents thought a good round of golf was thrilling. I didn’t.

 

When I was 7 I began riding motorcycles without my parent’s permission. At an early age I learned the thrill of controlling a fast mechanical device without the consent of my elders. It was the thrill seeker’s  exacta and I was hooked. As I grew if someone who knew me said something that involved the phrase, “I dare you”, it was usually directed at me.

 

At 16 I got my driver’s license the day after my birthday. A week later I took part in my first sports car rally. I eventually earned my Sports Car Club of American ProRally competitor’s license. Without boring you with details of rallying, I have driven down a dirt road that I had never seen before at over 100 mph. At night with another thrill seeker sitting beside me telling me when to turn. On purpose.

 

I went to school in the late seventies and early eighties. I have no intention of incriminating myself or anyone else but I did attend some parties during that time. I partied like a thrill seeker. Use your imagination.

 

At 25 despite having limited use of one leg I was introduced to skiing. I’m sure it was odd looking to see someone walking to the ski area with a cane but I became good enough to qualify as an instructor. I also became good enough to ski regularly on the most difficult runs and regularly did. I also did some ski racing. Skiing was just another way to get a thrill when I couldn’t ride motorcycles or drive race cars.

 

As I’ve aged the thrill seeking activities have lessened primarily due to lack of funds or physical inability. If someone offered me a rally car drive today I’d be in, in a heartbeat but I just don’t have the funds to make it happen myself. I still ride motorcycles and will until I or the law deem myself unable. I do ride a little less hard than I used to. That is more of a decision to avoid possible legal repercussion than less of a need to get a thrill. If I can get that rush from something else I will.

 

A couple days ago my wife and I were participating in a couple of our less risky avocations. We were shopping for antiques and geocaching. As we were getting close to home she asked if we could go to a particular store so she could get coffee. I never got the whole caffeine rush thing as it has pretty disturbing effects on me physically so I just avoid the stuff. I may be a thrill seeker but that doesn’t make me a fool.

 

We got to the store around 4 on Saturday afternoon. This store has a huge coffee selection and the coffee junkies were there in droves. My wife was looking for a particular brand and type of coffee. Being the helpful hubby I tried to help but knowing not much about coffee I was just kind of in the way of the regulars. That’s when it happened. I turned 180 degrees from the rack I had been browsing when I saw him. Built like a middle linebacker and intent on the beans directly in front of me he was hurtling towards the coffee rack at break neck speed. Fortunately, I was able to employ two things I learned from racing motorcycles, cars and skis which was situational awareness and accident avoidance. At the last microsecond I moved out of the way of the blitzing linebacker and saved my neck. Dick Butkus got his beans and I got that rush. I now know what it must feel like to run with the bulls at Pamplona. I can’t wait to go coffee shopping again.

 

Frozen Peas?

November 3, 2011

Several months ago my wife, a friend and I planned on spending the day geocaching in and around Myerstown, PA. Due to the fact that it was brutally cold and windy we knocked off early and vowed to return. Shortly after that the wife got a Groupon offer for a meal at the Porch in Myerstown and thought we could finish up there after our geocaching return trip. We never made it back to geocache but since the Groupon was about to expire we went to the Porch for dinner last night.

From the outside the Porch resembles many long standing historic inns that are found in towns throughout Pennsylvania. Downstairs is a bar featuring light fare with fine dining served upstairs, which is handicapped accessible.

I always feel good when I enter a restaurant for the first time that is fairly crowded on a weeknight. When we arrived for our 7 PM reservation there were only two empty tables. I took that as a good sign.

The Porch has over 50 craft beers available which appealed to the beer snob nature in both of us. The list is reasonably priced but leans heavily towards IPA’s, porters and stouts. Despite having one of my favorite IPA’s, Racer 5 on tap, I opted for a Manhattan, which was properly made and the wife went the wine route, which is available by the glass.

The menu is somewhat limited but I tend to like a smaller menu as I feel that many restaurants try to tackle too much and fall short in many instances. The menu is broken into 1st and 2nd course followed by entrees. Due to food allergies and a lack of anything that really jumped out to either of us we just moved on to the entrée section.

The wife is a big crab cake fan and Chef Joe Edwards claims that his were awarded a Top Five Best Award from “Baltimore Magazine”. The crab is paired with pasta, which she thought a bit odd but she didn’t have too difficult of a time making her decision on the $28 entree.

Several years ago I was at a brewpub in Boston that had Kobe beef meatloaf on the menu, which I ordered. The idea of Kobe beef and meatloaf at first seems almost criminal but after that meal, if I see Kobe beef meatloaf, I’m in. The menu at the Porch described their meatloaf as Wago beef, red wine and wild mushroom sauce with mascarpone mashed potatoes for $18.00. I think they meant Waygu beef, which is a generic term in the states for beef similar to Kobe beef, which isn’t imported into the US. Waygu actually means cow in Japanese so last night I ordered the cow beef meatloaf.

When our food arrived we both had the same reaction. We looked at each other and both mouthed the word peas. Both of our plates were served with peas as a green. One of the things you learn when you grow up in a farming area is what foods are fresh when. Peas are one of the earliest things planted in PA and are usually harvested in June or July. If they are planted in early summer they are harvested by early October at the latest and I’m writing this in November. Even if I didn’t know that by looking at them my brain would have screamed frozen peas.

Regardless of the peas we were there and had plates of food in front of us, so we dug in. The crab cakes (2) were everything you would expect of an award winning crab cake. They had big lumps of crab, were creamy, yet firm and best of all absolutely delicious. The pasta was nicely done but nothing out of the ordinary. Then there were the peas. For what they were they were good. Unfortunately, to our way of thinking they shouldn’t have been on plates that totaled $46.00 especially when the menu proclaims using only the finest ingredients.

Chef Edwards says his meatloaf is a “local favorite with flair”. I think he forgot to put the flair in mine. Don’t get me wrong it was good meatloaf. It was moist but for me not much better than good diner fare that could be had for half the price. The other thing I found surprising about the meatloaf was the size of the portion. When I think meatloaf I think about food I want to eat when I’m hungry and for a 145 pound guy who was moderately hungry when I got there I had plenty of room left over after dinner for more. As far as the mashed potatoes were concerned, they were every bit as good as my partner’s crab cakes.

About two thirds of the way through our meal the people at an adjoining table finished their meal and left. That was when the waitress began clearing the table. I was always under the impression that you never left a table uncovered in a fine dining establishment but that’s what she did. Shortly after that she presented the table next to us their check and proceeded to announce to all in earshot how she was ready to go home.

As our waitress approached to see if we wanted dessert my wife excused herself and headed to the restroom. I have never done this in a restaurant before but I just told the waitress that I had asked my wife if she wanted dessert and she didn’t and we were ready for our check. It just felt as though it was time to leave, not a welcoming atmosphere in which you would want to spend relaxing with coffee and dessert.

When she came back with the tab we presented our Groupon coupon. She then asked if we were there for the first time due to the Groupon offer and invited us back. I was tempted to reply that we were there for the frozen peas and extraordinary hospitality but just left instead.

I have Seen the End and it is Beginning Here

October 8, 2011

When you think about the end of the world you hate to think about it beginning in your home town. Unfortunately, I have seen the beginning of the end and it is beginning right here in the oldest inland city in the U S of A. I’m told there are many other communities laying claim to our title of oldest. I have meant to research it for some time but with the end so near I doubt I will.

I think the reason I’ve never found out where the true oldest inland city in the US is located is the only time I am reminded of it is when I enter my home town from the east. There is a sign on the edge of the city limits proclaiming we are number 1. Evidently, it isn’t so important that there are signs on the north, south or western entries into town so normally by the time I get home and could research it, I’ve forgotten. Now I don’t have time.

I’ve been thinking about the end of the world a fair amount lately. It might be because every time I turn on the History/Discovery/NatGeo Channel I am reminded that the Inca/Mayans/Aztecs ran out of numbers on their calendars 5000 years ago causing our impending doom in a couple months. Just because some ancient mathematician/astronomer/shaman couldn’t count beyond 2012 doesn’t portend death and destruction in my mind. Before last night I had thought we would last longer than their calendar.

Rarely does a day go by that I don’t receive an email from one of my more conservative friends urging me to consolidate all of my fundage into precious metals, stock up on Spam (that wonderfully delicious pork product, not the email I frequently complain about), freezers, solar panels, generators and arm myself to the teeth because the end is near. Unfortunately, none of these folks has explained why the end is near. Until last night I wasn’t stocking up. Now I’m reconsidering.

I often think about the end of the world when I see what our government is doing. I need more space than I have allotted here to describe why but the short version is that if our current administration totally screws the pooch, which they seem intent upon, our country may lose its world status as number one. We could wind up number two or three but that won’t destroy the world. That might not be so bad. The Swedes have a culture related to competition where it is more than okay to wind up second or third. Losers are not looked down upon and are actually held in high regard. They have a name for it but since the end is so near I don’t have time to find out what it is called. If it comes to the US being number 2 or 3 and we become more like Swedes I can think of worse places to live than in a country where the cars are designed by aeronautical engineers and the women are tall and leggy. This fate seems so much kinder than what I fear will happen now.

What has me concerned about our impending doom is the invasion that started yesterday in downtown Lancaster, PA. Of course, I am talking about the beardapocalypse. We have been invaded by a group of men and women (yes) who are here to have their facial hair judged. If ever there has been a sign that civilization is doomed it is people judging other people’s facial hair and then paying them for it. To prove the idiocy of this “competition” even more, the prizes are being furnished by Panasonic Shavers. Don’t get me wrong. I like beards. I’ve been sporting one for about 25 years now and intend to wear it to the day I die, which, unfortunately, appears to be imminent. By many accounts the final sign of the end of a civilization is the failure of its people to see what is happening. So people, here is your wake up call. What is happening is people are paying other people for the privilege of looking at their facial hair, financed by a company that sells shavers. The end is nigh.

The Jobs Act Speech

September 9, 2011

I’ve been watching some friend’s posts on Facebook tonight following the President’s address to Congress related to his job act. They were mostly of the warm, fuzzy variety cheering him on. My hope is they take a look at some of the facts surrounding his presidency so far and not judge him solely on his speech making abilities, which are impressive. I encourage anyone who may read this to do just what I have done. Research the facts and make your voting decisions based on facts and performance not a warm, fuzzy feeling.

President Obama claimed he would reduce military involvement and wouldn’t spend money off the budget.  He had a huge military budget supplement in his first year in office, failing on that promise. During President Bush’s term in office anti-war protests were rampant. When President Bush left office there were 33,000 troops in Afghanistan. By mid 2010, under President Obama, that number had grown to 91,000 plus more civilian contractors in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Those same contractor’s casualties were greater than US military personnel last year. In addition to ramping up involvement in Afghanistan he has drone attacked Pakistan, bombed Somalia, hinted at issues with Iran regarding a nuclear reactor that governments around the world agree is perfectly legal and threatened Eritrea. Eritrea? My question is where are the anti-war protestors now?

Then there is the issue of civil liberties. The ACLU gave President Obama a list of items it asked to be acted upon in his first 100 days in office. On issues like spying on Americans, monitoring of activists, terrorism watch lists, the Real ID Act and DNA databases, the administration has carried out none of the ACLU’s recommendations.  Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU said, “Our hope a year ago was that the Obama administration would restore our nation’s long tradition of respect for privacy and the rule of law by rolling back the privacy-invading domestic security policies enacted by the Bush administration,”. “Unfortunately, many of those policies have not been reversed, and we now run the risk of seeing them become a permanent part of American life.” He promised to close Guantanamo Bay in his first year. It looks as though it will never close. He claimed his administration would protect whistle blowers and then detained Bradley Manning.

Then there is the issue of the execution/assassination of Anwar Awlaki without due process. Awlaki, an American citizen, is regarded by the government as a terrorist. A Department of Justice spokesman was quoted by the “Washington Post” as saying that Awlaki “should surrender to American authorities and return to the United States, where he will be held accountable for his actions.”  He’s not been charged with any crimes, let alone indicted for any. Awlaki’s father, the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights have filed suit against President Obama, Leon Panetta and Robert Gates among others as defendants. The suit was filed on his behalf as the suit states “Awlaki is unable to file the lawsuit on his own because the U.S. government’s threats to kill him, as well as its prior unsuccessful attempts to do so, cause him to be in hiding and thus make it infeasible for him to assert his legal rights directly”. The Department of Justice has claimed the suit should be dismissed due to state secrets. If suit dismissal is allowed it will enable the President of the US to sentence Americans to death without due process. I certainly am not inclined to protect terrorists but I am very much in favor of protecting the Fifth Amendment and due process. So far, very little has been done to improve civil rights. Potentially much will be done to harm them.

Mr. Obama claims that Obama Care will reduce insurance costs. In 2006 Massachusetts instituted what is generally regarded by industry experts as the beta version of the plan. In March of 2010 insurance carriers in Massachusetts asked for approval of rate increase for businesses and individuals ranging from eight to thirty two percent. Beta tests usually show how things actually work.

President Obama passed a stimulus bill that is supposed to stimulate the economy. Some of the things in the bill include a $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film. $650 million for the digital TV convertor box coupon program. $448 million allotted for construction of the Homeland Security headquarters. $1 billion for the 2010 census which is expected to have a cost overrun of $3 million. $10 million is dedicated to inspecting canals in urban areas. $650 million has been set aside for wildfire management on forest service lands. $1.2 billion dollars is allocated for youth programs and an additional $100 million dollars is slated for reducing the hazards of lead based paint. I’d like to know how any of these things, especially reducing lead based paint hazards will improve our economy. This brings me to my real worry about our current administration.

My greatest concern regarding the current administration is President Obama’s legacy. My fear is that President Obama will not be remembered for being the first biracial president. I fear history won’t remember him as an incredibly articulate, gifted speaker. My concern is he will be remembered as the man who bankrupted America. President Obama promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. He has already quadrupled it. In his first three budgets, Obama borrowed nearly $5 trillion. Currently, the government is borrowing about 45 percent of everything that it spends. The government during the last three years has borrowed on average about $4 billion each day. That staggering sum is far in excess of the $1.6 billion per day borrowed during the eight-year tenure of George W. Bush, who until Obama entered office borrowed more money than any other president.

President Obama has embraced Keynesian economics. Huge deficits empower more federal hiring and more entitlements and our President has certainly done that. 100,000 new federal jobs and almost 50,000,000 new food stamp recipients can only lead to two things, bigger government and higher taxes.

It is said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. I am afraid that the path we are on will create a situation in the US much like that in the European Union. Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal have huge national debts yet they have not had significant job creation, which is what Mr. Obama spoke about tonight. Stateside, Texas and Utah shine in new job creation in the last few years. Both states are regarded as having fewer governmental regulations than other states with more private sector jobs than government based. President Obama said that small business is key in promoting job development and I agree. Job development in a stagnant economy is vitally important but so is reducing the overreaching arms of government, entitlements and spending money we don’t have. At one point during his address Mr. Obama said something about simple math. Math is simple. When you go from borrowing 1.6 billion dollars a day to borrowing $4 billion a day it is time to break out the calculator and figure out a way to stop borrowing all that money.

Setting the record straight

August 27, 2011

A few years ago I was looking for information about a motorcycle. The only place I could find it was on Facebook and I became a member of the Facebook community. Since then I’ve discovered that people I haven’t spoken to in 30 years and people I just met want to answer questions about me so they can receive “coins”. My intention here is to set forth the proper responses so that my “friends” can receive more “coins”. I will only post answers to the really tough ones, not things like have I ever eaten a booger (no). So without further ado let’s begin with the most pressing question of all.

Do I have smelly feet? From about 1974 to 1976 the answer would have unequivocally been, yes. In 1974 I shot up from about four feet ten inches tall to about five feet eleven, which meant that I could then obtain sneakers like my basketball idol Walt Frazier wore. After much pleading, cajoling, begging and whining I got a pair of “Clydes”, which were blue suede athletic shoes. If ever there was a bad idea it was putting the feet of a pubescent teenager in blue suede shoes for about 18 hours a day, most of which were spent running. Fortunately for olfactory concerns everywhere, a couple years later I got my driver’s license, which meant I stopped running everywhere and more importantly, discovered women which required I also discover better hygiene. I hope this little insight garners you mondo coins.

Let’s move on to the burning question of trying to determine if I have ever skinny dipped. Let’s see, I grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s. I lived in a town of a few hundred people in a rural area with a creek half a mile from home. I went to a swimming pool practically every day, every summer from the age of 3 until 9th grade. I was one of those people other people talked about who thought I may have been into experimenting with things. You know the kind of things people experimented with in the 70’s. In college I lived in a trailer court with a pool for two years and an apartment complex near a pool my last year of school. You would probably think I did it all the time but no coins for you if you answered yes.

The questions about have I ever had stitches and do I drive too fast can be combined into one answer. I was the kid who when his buddies said I bet you can’t, I usually could. Most of these challenges revolved around, higher, longer and most often faster. When I couldn’t it sometimes ended in stitches. My last surgery put me over 500 stitches, total. None of those came from driving too fast. More importantly my question to you is do I drive too fast for what?

I’ve decided to finish up this little reveal regarding part of my creative side. One of the questions people are whispering about me involves cooking and the other karaoke. More to the point, can I cook and do I enjoy singing karaoke. The short answers are yes and no. The longer answers are below.

My mom got sick when I was a kid and died when we were both too young. I learned to cook young, out of necessity and decided in college to learn to cook things that required more than fat and a frying pan. It has become a lifelong passion. I love to cook and believe, by all accounts from what I’ve heard about my cooking, I’m pretty damn good at it. I even had a friend offer to buy me a restaurant. I don’t want it to become a job. If you’re in the neighborhood stop by with some mystery protein and maybe I’ll treat you to a little cast iron chef treatment.

At the height of the karaoke craze I was selling cars. At the end of a selling marathon a group of us went to a bar where we set about the task of drinking too much. At some point it was determined by the group that I had reached the appropriate level of intoxication to play along with this new fad and I was unceremoniously drug up on stage. About two notes in I realized that I was expected to sing a Jimmy Buffett song. I immediately sobered up and left the stage. Probably the only thing that would have gotten me off the stage faster was a Bob Dylan song or a jetpack strapped to my back. I don’t like Jimmy Buffett and I can’t stand Bob Dylan, primarily because I appreciate music. I know there will be knee jerk reactions to that but that is part of the beauty of music. I don’t have to like what you like and vice versa. I have sung in a choir, a chorus, an a cappella jazz group, a rock band and briefly a funk band. I have been told I sing well. I have almost a three octave range and perfect pitch. I can’t imagine what my life would be without music. As I write this I am singing along with Joan Osborne who is covering a bunch of great R&B and soul songs on her 2002 release, “How Sweet It Is”. Joan and I sound great together all by ourselves but you may not think so, which is a big part of why I don’t sing Karaoke. I don’t want to inflict my musical choices on someone who is mostly defenseless against the karaoke onslaught. Recently, I was in an antiques store where people were singing karaoke. My only defense was to leave. The only thing worse than people singing karaoke in an antiques place is people doing it any other place I happen to be where I have made a commitment to staying by having had the audacity to order food or drink. I don’t get it. I don’t like it and I’m not going to do it. There, you have it. So, if you promise not to sing karaoke I promise I’ll let you have all of the “coins” I earn when I get around to answering stupid questions about you.

Dear Craig’s List Spammer

April 7, 2011

You know who you are. Hiding somewhere in a dingy, one room apartment overlooking the landfill. I see you lurking on CL, waiting for the legitimate business or individual to post a listing. Once you see a post with a real live email address you spring your dastardly scheme. That’s when it all goes wrong.

The plan seemed pretty good up until you actually acted but then it quickly unraveled. You have two things against you. Spam filters and your lack of a fully functioning brain. Do you really think that someone is going to “white list” their ad when the return email address you show for Craig’s List is teslamuffin444@gmail.com?

To the idiots who send the email asking if I want to trade with their fictitious item with the blind link, the answer is no. You see my ad wasn’t for an item. There isn’t anything there to trade and I don’t like the fact that you are phishing. If you had actually read the ad instead of relying on some crappy software to find email addresses you would know that.

The other thing you might have read if you had read (assuming you can read) my ad is the final line of all of my posts on CL. It reads, Spammers will be forwarded to CL and the Federal Trade Commission. CL has no real teeth to speak of. The FTC on the other hand has the ability to fine you at the lovely rate of $16,000 per spam email and I hope they find you, with my help.

My suggestion, CL Spammer, is grow a brain and get a real job. For some reason I doubt you’d be able to pay those fines when the Feds do catch up with you and they will. I’d hate to think of you leaving that room with the lovely view to become someone’s bitch in prison since you can’t pay that mountain of fines. On second thought, just keep doing what you are doing. I think the FTC is just around the corner from your apartment now. Can you spell bitch?