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Posted by on Oct 19, 2012 in Blog, Travel, What's Left | 0 comments

My Great Privilege — Meeting a World War II Veteran

American Veteran Photo

 

In few more years, they’ll all be gone.

Every one of them.

The millions who marched on foot across a continent and who sailed the high seas some 70 years ago are slowly but surely leaving us.  They pass away at the rate of thousands per year, which will gradually come to a few hundred, and then to a trickle.  In another decade or so, they will be no more.

They are what has been called “the Greatest Generation.”

When times were the toughest, they endured it.  When duty called and the bell of national service rang, they answered it.  When our way of life and liberty was at stake, they defended it.  And when it was all over and some came home, they honored and remembered those who didn’t.

They are our heroes.

Indeed, most aren’t young anymore.  Most have seen and suffered far more than any human should endure.  They don’t play on sports fields.  They aren’t moviestars.  They aren’t rich or famous.  But they are far more special than any of those superficial icons with fleeting illusions of accomplishment.  They are the survivors and the victors of the last century’s most trying test.  They are the champions.  The champions of the world.

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Posted by on Oct 12, 2012 in Blog, What's Left | 5 comments

Gasoline at $6 a Gallon? It’s Here (Almost)

Death Valley Gas 

In a scene right out of Mad Max, some places are now charging $5.90 a gallon for unleaded.  The premium fuel has actually hit six bucks.

SIX DOLLARS!  A GALLON!

Where is this?  Some remote whaling village in Norway?  No, it’s right here in the USA.

Here’s a snapshot of the sign out in front of the Chevron station in Shoshone, California — which is located close to Death Valley.  Admittedly, this is a tough place to reach.  So, gas is going to cost a little more in out-of-the-way places where it simply costs more money to transport fuel from the producer to the consumer.

But a 50 percent markup from the national average of just under $4 a gallon?  (Note:  This sign and price was not unusual — other stations in the area had similar prices per gallon).

Might this be a conspiracy?

Let’s agree that it costs significantly more to truck gasoline to remote parts of the country, such as Death Valley.  I’m not sure precisely how much more it takes to drive a tanker from a fuel hub such as Los Angeles, which is 200 miles west.  But let’s concede that it costs more.

I wonder — does it cost any more to transport fuel out to the desert than, let’s say, to a small town in the hills of Tennessee, where the same gallon of unleaded gas now costs $3,89 a gallon?

Someone please explain this to me.  $5.90 a gallon in Shoshone….$3.89 a gallon in Gatlinburg.

Roughly the same geography from refineries and tankers, and the same reliance on overland transport.  Shouldn’t the high dessert in California and the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee have roughly the same gas prices?

Again, please educate me.

Moreover, Id like to know that if indeed it’s more difficult to move goods to the consumer to a place like Shoshone, then why aren’t the other products also marked up significantly?  A coke that costs $1 in Los Angeles is not priced at $1.50 in Shoshone.  In fact, it’s the same $1.  A candy bar that costs 60 cents elsewhere is also 60 cents here.  Same with just about everything — except gasoline.

When people in one part of the country are forced to pay a 50 percent markup on a product that is widely available in similar regions at a substantially lower cost, something is very wrong.

I have a solution:  I hope the day comes when this nation nationalizes the oil industry.  Seize them all.  Acquire all their assets.  Take them over in the public interest and damn all the greedy shareholders who are caught holding an empty bag.

But all this pales in comparison to my final inquiry.  Alas, I’ve saved the biggest question for last.  Take a close look at that sign again.  Look carefully.

I wonder — can’t the idiot who runs the Chevron gas station afford some legitimate signage, rather than using black electrician’s tape?  I mean, the criminal oil company and the service station are raping consumers to the tune of $6 a gallon.  And the sign looks like a fucking lemonade stand?

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Posted by on Oct 11, 2012 in Blog, Personal, What's Left | 1 comment

How Is This Possible? Three Laptops Destroyed in Six Days!

 

Me and laptops don’t get along.

I average approximately three laptops per year.  What this means is — I somehow manage to lose or destroy about three laptops every 12 months.  Given those dismal odds, I started buying refurbished laptops a few years ago — which refers to discounted merchandise that went through hell and was returned to the store usually by some lying scumbag who pretty much did a war dance on the keyboard and then blamed the computer for suddenly “not working.”

Things got so bad for awhile, that I resorted to buying used laptops off of Craig’s List — which is really scrapping the bottom of the barrel.  I figure — why spend $795 paying retail at the store when you can fork over $250 for a used machine from some thief that will probably last just as long?

You’ve already read what happened to my new Acer while visiting France.  I bought that machine at Costco for $695.  It lasted only a month before some punk walked into my hotel and stole it.  Read the story here:  WHERE’S INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU WHEN YOU NEED HIM?

So this week, as soon as I got back home, I returned to Costco again and bought the same Acer model that had been pilfered in Cannes.

This one lasted a day.

Even worse, I somehow managed to destroy my backup HP mini-laptop — the one I use in case of emergencies.  You know, such as when something goes wrong with the primary laptop.

How this happened is a marvel not to be believed.  Here it goes:

Wednesday afternoon I was busy installing files onto both laptops — the new 16-inch Acer and the older 12-inch HP.  The laptops were plugged into the wall and sat on the floor beneath my office desk.

Marieta usually makes me a tumbler full of some kind of cocktail during the late afternoon.  The tumbler is actually a stainless steel mixer that’s commonly used as a shaker by bartenders.  At home, I prefer my cocktails served in a giant tumbler which stays colder longer because its made of metal rather than glass.

I have absolutely no idea how the following happened.  But we do own two cats — Alex and Faro — and they’re both now serious suspects.  I sat the 20-ounce tumbler down on top of the desk and walked away.  Meanwhile, the two computers beneath the desk were downloading new programs.

When I returned a few minutes later, I saw a horrifying sight.  The empty tumbler was laying on its side.  Liquid was spilled all over the desk and was dripping down onto the two laptops beneath.  The carpeting was SOAKED.  Both laptops were open and had a puddles of liquid and ice cubes all over both keyboards.

It was not a pretty sight.

No big deal, I thought.

I grabbed a towel and padded down both laptops, hoping to soak up what remained of what would have been a delicious Rum Runner.  To my amazement, the Acer keyboard no longer worked.  Worse, the HP showed a black screen.  After rebooting both laptops several times, I feared the worst — an accidental spill had wiped out not just one, but two laptops — one of them not even 24 hours new out of the box.

A hectic web search on my wife’s desktop (she usually forbids me to touch her computer, for some reason) found one possible fix — holding a hair dryer over the keyboard and blowing hot air into the motherboard.  Supposedly, this dries out the liquid trapped inside.  I tried that.  It didn’t work.

I allowed the laptops to rest and dry out overnight; but when both laptops were turned on this morning, the results were exactly the same.  The bottom line was — two laptops had been destroyed in my faux home happy hour.

The HP appears to be fried.  Ruined.  Gone.  Oh well — no big loss.  I bought that unit for $140 off Craig’s List a year ago.

But the Acer was more problematic.  I’m not exactly sure what the warranty says about spilling cocktails onto the keyboard and the liability thereof, but I decided to chance it and try and return the laptop to Costco, hoping for an exchange.  This afternoon, I returned the Acer with the keyboard that mysteriously no longer works, with no questions asked.  For those out there in the market for a refurbished laptop, you may want to avoid a silver Acer if you lean over the keyboard and get a heavy whiff of Bacardi.

So, for those keeping score — that’s four computers destroyed in 2012.  And, I still have nearly three months left to go.

What you’re reading now is my first post on a brand new Acer, bought (you guessed it) at Costco.  In a few minutes, Marieta will be bringing me a Tennessee Highball, encased in my beloved silver tumbler.

If you don’t see me updating my blog for the next few days, you can pretty much guess what happened.  And keep those cats out of the office.

 

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Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in Blog, What's Left | 0 comments

R.I.P. Steve Sabol — NFL Films

 

 

Pro football lost a giant of a man today.

He wasn’t a player.  He never coached.  You rarely saw his face.

But you must certainly know his astonishing body of work which spanned more the four decades, and which left an indelible impression on the game that’s now been America’s real ‘national pastime” for two generations.

Steve Sabol was the architect of NFL Films.  Together with his late father, Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Ed Sabol, the first family of NFL historians made football into something far more than just a game.

They made football into art.  Their productions were grand theater on the gridiron.  Many of their shows were inspirational and epic.  Everything they did set the bar higher, not just in sports journalism but in all media.

Their narrative often accompanied by blaring trumpets, NFL Films programming was often better than the actual games they covered.  They created legends out of players and coaches most of us had never heard of.  They tore down myths.  Indeed, Steve Sabol wore many hats — writer, historian, filmmaker, journalist, announcer and marketer.  Everything he did showed pro football in a more interesting light.

Steve Sabel’s body of work is extraordinary.  Dating back to his early days as a rival-league AFL cameraman during the mid-1960s, Sabol used his natural talents and creative energies to push the bounds of sports coverage into something grander and greater.  He not only helped to transform many athletes into heroes and legends.  More important, he made them human.

All NFL fans everywhere owe a great debt of gratitude to the late Steve Sabol.  He passed away today at the age of 69.

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Posted by on Sep 3, 2012 in Blog, Rants and Raves, What's Left | 2 comments

Breaking News: Deranged Fuck Dies

Deranged Religious Leader

 

In case you missed the news, a sick fuck named Sun Myung Moon died today.

Moon was best known not only as the creator of the Unification Church, but for claiming to the entire world that he is/was the messiah.

People, I am not making this up.

That’s right — some crazy fuck living over in South Korea actually woke up one day when he was in his 20s and thought he was on par with Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, and Donald Trump.  Seems this Korean guy was pretty powerful, or at least was persuasive as hell, since he ended up with so many adoring followers.  Estimates are that Moon had about seven million believers in his line of bullshit.

Moon’s millions of fantatics became better known as “Moonies,” an appropriate sticker since just about all of them might as well have been living on the moon.  The accounts of what this beast did to his devotees are well-publicized, so I won’t launch into a lengthy tirade here — as appetizing at that propsect might be.  However, all one must do to measure the degree of brainwashing that this deranged man had on disciples is to recall the horrific mass marriages that he and his church arranged.

That’s right — arranged.

In a ritual right out of the Middle Ages, the Unification Church held mass “weddings” with stadiums full of followers, joined in matrimony by a sick fuck standing at the podium.  Many of the young people who came to the ritual to be married at the instruction of this wacko church had never met the person they were about to marry.  You can imagine the pain and misery of such a medieval practice.  Again, this is all documented.

A few years ago, this man wed 360,000 couples in one mass ceremony.  That’s not a typo.  360,000!  Imagine getting stuck with that fucking bill.  What did they do for a wedding cake — invade fucking China?

How’d you like to be the guy who owns the tux rental shop down the street from the stadium?  That guy must have made a killing!

So, might there be any possibility that this self-described “messiah” really was who he says?  You know — the Korean commoner born when his nation was under Japanese rule, the man burned through two wives, the man who evaded his taxes, the man who served time in prison, the man with a child out of wedlock, and the man who is alleged to have built his vast empire by getting his followers to fork over all their money to the church?  Out of six billion people on the planet, this was God’s “chosen one?”

If Moon is who he claims to be, then I’m in some serious trouble.  Or, at least my soul is in serious trouble.  It’s going to end up looking like a charred sirloin at the Outback Steakhouse.  But hey, I’ll take my chances.  Make mine medium-rare, Rev. Moon.

If all this sounds mean spirted, I do not mean it to be so.  But when some joker claims to be “God” and then wrecks the lives of millions of susceptible people with his preposterous teachings about the world and who he is, such a death does not desere respect nor sanctity.  Instead, this deranged fuck’s life and mass charade should be exposed for what it is.

An abomination.

Rev. Sun Myung Moon, may you not rest in peace.  May all the lies you have propagated upon millions be buried forever.

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