Saturday, January 31, 2009

John Updike "At Rest"

Like his famous character, Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, John Updike is at rest. One of the premier American authors of ALL time, not just the last 50 years, Updike died of lung cancer on Tuesday, January 27th. Coincidentally, I had just finished reading his latest offering "The Widows of Eastwick".
Updike was not for everyone, that's for sure. His prose could be tough going but it was worth getting through. No one, at least not in my humble opinion, was able to string together a series of sentences for 2 or 3 pages without paragraphs the way he did. He's won just about every major award there is except the Nobel Prize for Literature. Maybe posthumously. He definitely deserves it.
So who does that leave on the literary scene that I always look forward to? Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, Garrison Keillor, Khaled Hosseini, Tom Wolfe to name a few. For shear entertainment there's always Elmore Leonard, John Grisham and Carl Hiaasen. For historical fiction there's Jeff Shaara & David McCullough but I haven't seen anything from him since "John Adams" .
One author I've always wanted to read but never got around to yet is Joyce Carol Oates. Maybe when I reach the bottom of my 'to be read' pile. In the meantime, RIP, John. You've given me many hours of great reading.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Small (well maybe not so small) Annoyances

Well, here we go, a new administration, a time for hope and optimism. Unfortunately there are already a few things that concern me, to wit:

A. If Obama is going to close Guantanamo, what’s going to happen to the guys who are there? I read somewhere that they’re going to be released. Some of them continue to swear allegiance to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Isn’t that a problem? Something doesn’t seem right.

B. The stimulus package being advanced by Nancy Pelosi has so much pork in it, it’s ridiculous! Fine, the economy needs an infusion of cash, but why be wasteful? One of Obama’s biggest challenges is going to be reining in Pelosi. Good luck with that!

C. On 60 Minutes Sunday night there was a piece about a town in Ohio that is in dire straights do to the closing of the one company that was employing its 12000 people. One of the men interviewed had just lost a son in Iraq and he wanted to know why financial institutions are getting bailed out to the tune of $700 billion while ordinary people are ignored. Very good question!

D. How well did Obama’s team vet Timothy Geithner for Sec’y of the Treasury? He somehow fails to pay taxes for the last two years???? Uh, not good for a Sec’y of the Treasury of all things, is it? Pay attention to details, Barack, and don’t delegate too much. Obviously you can’t do it all but the buck stops at your desk. Period

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Virtues of Volunteerism

Since my retirement over 4 years ago, I have involved myself in a number of activities, i.e. babysitting grandchildren, subbing, volunteer work, home projects, etc. Among those things, babysitting grandchildren has been the most enjoyable and second to that is my volunteer work. Just this morning I met with a 91 year old lady who was struggling with some computer problems. She uses a computer as much as possible because she's determined to keep her mind active. Also, it's the best way to keep in touch with children and grandchildren. Anyway, the reason she called me was because she was having problems with email. She uses MS Outlook which is generally a very reliable and easy to use program. She said she keeps getting error messages but she doesn't know why. When I sat down to do a little troubleshooting I found that the program worked just fine but when I looked in her 'draft' folder, I found over 4000 error messages. It seems when there's an undeliverable email it gets bounced back to the user's 'draft' folder in Outlook. What she had been doing was mistyping people's email addresses so naturally they wouldn't go through. The system got so clogged with undeliverable messages that it kept asking her if she wanted her to delete them. To make a long story short, I told her what was going on and gave her a little basic computer inservice. She didn't realize that computers don't know when someone has made a typo. After I explained how everything works, she was extremely grateful. You'd think I cured her of some horrible affliction. I find this to be true of all the people I help. It doesn't take much to make people happy. What we take for granted is extremely important for others. That's why I volunteer.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Next Rulers of the World

Want to know who's going to end up ruling the world? Click here:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Ultimate Irony

I have to admit, it was quite a thrill watching Barack Obama get sworn in as President of the United States. But even better was the exquisite irony of watching Dick Cheney getting pushed out of Washington in a wheel chair. That pretty much sums it up!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Say Goodnight, Gracie

Hey Junior,
What’s going on, big guy? I saw your speech the other night. Not exactly earth moving, was it? I was a little surprised that you called asking for my opinion. It’s a little late now. I wish you had called years ago. Anyway here we are, at long last, eight years since 5 Supreme Court justices made you the president. It hasn’t been easy, has it, bud? No sooner are you appointed the President, we’re attacked by Pakistani based Al Quaeda. Of course, no one is blaming you for this. Ah, but then instead of going after those bad guys you yield to Rummy and Cheney and attack Iraq. Unfortunately, it was all down hill from there. Torture, lies, illegal wiretaps, ‘Mission Accomplished’, suspension of many Constitutional rights-the list goes on-all because you thought you had something to prove to your father. And as if that weren’t enough, you and your trusted advisers sat and watched the economy of this wonderful country go to hell in a hand basket. (I won’t even bring up Katrina!!) Not a pretty picture, is it, bud? And yet, there you were, in total denial, insisting history will judge you favorably. It’s amazing. It’s as though the past 8 years never happened. I’ve gotta give you credit though. Not ever have I seen anyone, adult or child, in spite of all the facts and domestic and world opinion, be so utterly convinced that you were actually right about everything you did, well, except for that Mission Accomplished thing. That, you admitted, was stupid-albeit the least of your missteps. I’m sure psychiatrists the world over are marveling at your ability to change reality! But, no matter. You’re done now, and frankly you have been for the past several weeks. Pack up, go back to Crawford and write your memoir. I’m sure there’s a Ph.D. candidate out there somewhere who needs a topic for his dissertation who will read it. So, go forth, Junior, and enjoy the rest of your days-oblivious to the fact that you’ve done more harm to this nation than any other elected official in history. It will take Obama & Congress the next 8 years to straighten out the mess, but at least we’re on our way. Ciao.

Respectfully submitted,

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More About Grandchildren

Yesterday was another great day with my five year old and two year old grand daughters. They love to do 'arts & crafts' but that invariably evolves into another kind of game. For example, while experimenting with food coloring, the five year old discovered that when made in a strong enough concentration, it strongly resembles blood. Since the two of them have always had a strong interest in things of a medical nature, the five year old thought it would be neat to paint the two year old's arm red thereby resembling an operation she was performing. She then covered it with bandaids. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to me, food coloring does not readily wash off. Mother was therefore not a happy camper when her daughter presented her with a solid red arm! So Grandpa learned a lesson but you have to admit, it was pretty clever of the five year old.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Gods Have Gone Crazy

Headline in this morning's paper:
Obama recovery plan faces stiff congressional opposition.
One's immediate thought of course is that the guy isn't even sworn in yet and the Republicans are busting his chops. But reading the article reveals it's the democrats who are putting up the fuss. It seems they're concerned that, among other things, there isn't enough of a tax break for upper income people. Specifically, they have a problem with the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). That's right. You read it correctly. Democrats worrying about upper income people. Aren't Republicans supposed to be doing that? What's going on here? Have we gone completely nuts? Just kidding of course. Since the Republican party is officially dead I guess someone has to look out for their constituency. It might as well be the Dems.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Definition of Obnoxious

Is there anyone on this planet more obnoxious than Ann Coulter who just appeared on the Today show? I suppose one could make a case for Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly but my vote is for Coulter. Why isn't it possible for many conservative pundits to make their case without being so hostile? It greatly distracts from the point they're attempting to make. Take George Will for example. He's as conservative as they come yet he has the ability to present his arguments in an intellectual manner that doesn't get personal or nasty. Why can't the others do that? Maybe it's because they're not as interested in the issue as they are in basking in the limelight.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Two Weeks to Go

How much more damage can Junior possibly do in the next two weeks that he hasn't already done? Keep your fingers crossed and knock on wood (not that I'm superstitious or anything!)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year

I want to be one of the first to send Happy New Year greetings...
As I reflect on 2008, I can say we had a great year:
Blacks are happy; Obama was elected.
Whites are happy, OJ is in jail.
Democrats are happy; George Bush is leaving office.
Republicans are happy: Democrats will finally quit saying George Bush stole the election.
And all of us are happy; The election is finally over!

2009 should be even better:
Immediately after his inauguration, Obama will:
balance the budget,
revive the economy,
solve the real estate problem,
solve the auto industry problem,
solve our gas/alternative energy problem,
stop the fires and mudslides in California,
ban hurricanes and tornadoes,
stop identity theft,
reverse global warming,
find Osama,
solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
get rid of corruption in government and...
achieve world peace.

Then on the 7th day, He will rest.

Best wishes for 2009!