Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Never Enough of Too Good a Thing

CoffeetiniLast night I posted a recipe for the Coffee-tini, a coffee based martini. I suggested that the ingredients be doubled to create two drinks at the same time so you could share the Coffee-tini experience with a friend ...

... while the idea of doubling the recipe was a HUGE hit with my readers, there seems to be a bit of confusion among them about the concept of "sharing" ...

... we'll talk more at another time about sharing, especially sharing the good life, but for now, I think it best that I post a revised formula for the mixing of the Coffee-tini using mearsurements suitable for the Gathered masses ...

The GatherSized Coffeetini
  • For starters, forget the espresso! You'll burn out your poor little machine making enough shots for this recipe, just brew up a whole pot of extra thick Joe.
  • While the coffee is brewing gather together all other ingredients, glassware, and bar accessories. You will need one bottle of vodka (regular or flavoured), another bottle of coffee liqueur, 5 pound bag of ice, a handful of chocolate candies or giant Hershey Bar, bamboo barbeque skewer, rocks glass or Pyrex mearsuring cup, two (2) cocktail shakers (unless you have one of the 1 gallon commercial sized ones) and finally ... a Rubba-dub-dub sized Martini glass to fit everything in!
  • Fill both cocktail shakers 2/3 full of ice, then fill oversized martini glass with remaining ice.
  • Pour one rocks glass worth (or mearsuring cup) of vodka into one of the cocktail shakers.
  • Pour same amount of coffee liqueur into the other shaker.
  • If there is any room left in the shakers, add coffee to each shaker until almost full.
  • Grasp one of the cocktail shakers in each hand and violently shake them up and down, then shake them over your head, and finally give them a twirl across your open palms while hopping around the room. (Note: This would be a very opportune time to start a conga line if your party guests have not done so already.)
  • Dump ice from the Gathersized martini glass and immediately strain contents of both cocktail shakers into the glass.
  • Since we aren't firing up the espresso machine for this drink, there won't be any frothed milk, but you can top the Gather-Sized Coffeetini with canned whipped cream for ease. Plus it's always fun to suck some of the nitrous oxide of the top.
  • Stab chocolate olives ..er.. candies onto the bamboo skewer for garnish. (if you are having difficulties getting the candy on the bamboo skewer, toss the skewer and just throw in the chocolates, at this juncture if you just can't wait to start slurping down the coffeetini it's your choice whether you even bother to unwrap the chocolate olives.)
!!! Now, ENJOY YOUR GATHER-SIZED COFFEETINI !!!

Remember, don't share your Gatherized Coffeetini with anyone, it would just defeat the whole purpose of all of these revisions and contorted gyrations!

Please note: The really big book of Shakespeare in the accompanying photogragh is only for visual effect and so I can post this to the Coffee & Books photos. Do not try to read Shakespeare, or anyone else for that matter, while attempting to scull a Gatherized Coffeetini! You're gonna need both hands free to tip that glass, and besides, you'd probably get a hernia trying to pick up a book that big.

GatherSized Coffeetini

Three Planets Line Up With Moon For New Year's Eve Spectacular!

Celestial Show Set for New Year's Eve

There will be no need for tickets to this celestial event where three planets - Venus, Mercury, Jupiter - will all be lined up with the moon. This display of planets and the moon occurs tonight! New Year's Eve! and should be visible for anyone who steps outside and looks to the southwest horizon just after sunset.

Venus is the planet that shines brighter any of the other planets and brighter than most stars (what we call the "Morning Star" is actually Venus). Venus will dangle just below the thin crescent moon in the southwestern sky. It'll be visible and almost impossible to miss just as the sun goes down if the skies are cloud-free in your area.

Just after sunset Mercury and Jupiter can be seen hugging the southwestern horizon (just above where the sun went down) and will be right next to each other. Jupiter is very bright and easy to spot, Mercury is fainter and more difficult to see, but it'll be just to the left of Jupiter. Jupiter and Mercury will set less than an hour after the sun sets, and you will need to time your viewing for just after sunset. A location with a clear view of the southwestern horizon without buildings, trees or mountains, and away from city lights will give you the best view.

And Saturday morning, about 3:00 AM EST, there is a chance for glimpsing some falling stars in a spectacular display by the Quadrantid meteor shower! With the moon a mere sliver the sky should be quite dark and show off the meteors. So if you are out late Friday night, or up early Saturday morning don't miss this chance to start off the new year with a big wish on a falling star!

What a great way to begin the new year with these celestial events!

Coffeetini ~ Coffee comes to Happy Hour!

Coffeetini ~ Coffee comes to Happy Hour!
Coffee-tini
The Coffee Martini
1 fresh espresso
1 shot vodka
1 shot coffee liqueur
Combine fresh streamed espresso, vodka, and your favourite coffee liqueur with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake to mix and chill, then strain into cocktail glass. Top off with frothed milk foam, and garnish with chocolate olive.

I recommend doubling up on this recipe and pouring it into two glasses ... it is best when enjoyed with a friend! (-;

Coffee-tiniNotes:

The chocolate olive is actually a small solid chocolate "egg". Just stick one on each end of a toothpick for a garnish. The Chocolate Oranges that split into wedges are a great visual and tasty too!

If you like flavoured vodkas, use your favourite. Vanilla vodka is currently very popular.

Also other liqueurs can be used in place of the coffee liqueur. Irish Cremes, like Bailey's and Caroline's are a nice change, or try a shot of Gran Marnier, Amaretto, or Frangelica.

Baby Got New Shoes

Baby Got New Shoes
~ or ~
Mother Nature, Make Up Your Mind!

I'm just not sure what has gotten into ol' Mother Nature lately ... here in Tahoe she has been teasing us the past couple weeks with fleeting mirages of Spring. I say teasing because she tempts us with a couple or three days of blue skies and shorts and t-shirts weather, only to sneak in under the cover of darkness and goose us with another dusting of snow followed by a day or two of gloomy grey skies, fresh snow accumulations of more than a foot deep, and chilling temperatures.

Dear old Mum de Naturale launched one of her infamous sneak attacks last night, catching me quite http://media-files.gather.com/images/d781/d351/d744/d224/d96/f3/full.jpgoff my guard. Yesterday had been one of those lovely Tahoe days that you dreamed about all winter while shoveling snow. A day to venture out and wander 'round, listen to the birds sing, and enjoy the snowbanks melting and the appearance of patches of green on the ground. The kind of day that caused yours truly to forget all about stoking the fire ... consequently I woke up to a quite chilly, nay, frigidly arctic like house this morning! This sent me scrambling for my lamb fleece slippers to warm my frozen tootsies.


Serendipity had smiled favourably upon me a week ago. One of the local merchants had declared an early end to the Christmas shopping season and they had severely marked down most of their winter-wares tohttp://media-files.gather.com/images/d787/d351/d744/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg make room for flip-flops and beach towels to sell to folks bound for warmer holiday climates. I grabbed up not only a warm and cuddly pair of New Zealand Lamb Fleece slippers but also a pair of sueded lambskin and fleece slip-on boots for but a trifling pittance 'bout twelve bucks for the lot. I had worn out and recently tossed my muck-about slip-on winter loafers, so finding this most affordable treasure of lambskin boots was quite fortuitous indeed. The slippers were a bonus as I usually opt for a pair of heavy wool socks to kick around the loft on winter days, and nights too.

Well, my tootsies are toasty, the fire has been stoked, and all is warm and well in the woods of Tahoe again. I think I may slip out of the slippers and into my fleece booties and go brush the new fallen snow off the truck and head into town. Cheers! to all and I hope you are warm and your toosties toasty wherever you may be! (-;

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Jumped From The Train ...and... Landed In Gather Town


I Jumped From The Train
... and ...
Landed In Gather Town

Two years ago today, I jumped from the train and landed in Gather Town. Yes, it's quite true! I came to Gather by train ... Amtrak actually!!! Though the stop at GatherTown was not announced by the train's conductor ...

I had just returned home after a month long journey through Latin America and had an overwhelming pile of email sitting in my inbox. I opened one from Amtrak and thought I was going to be registering for updates and special travel offers from Amtrak ... instead the train link took me down the line and dropped me off in GatherTown. Wasn't sure what the Gather site was all about at first ... so I felt my way around ...

I eventually got the swing of things ... I signed-up with Gather that first evening, even posted an icon pic and filled out a little trivia in my profile; but, it would be another week before I published my first article, actually three short poems - On Tapas de World, the Looking Glass, and A Hard Scrabble Life (all later republished with images). A week later I would publish my first travel adventure on Gather - Me Tarzan - and two days later discover Gather's call-out for submissions to fill newly created positions as correspondents.

It's been two years since that day Amtrak dropped me and my backpack on the outskirts of GatherTown. Since then, there have been over a thousand articles, a couple hundred videos and around 12,000 photos left along the tracks. I wrote a series of travel columns - ¿Where the Heck are You? - as one of Gather's original Essential Channels Correspondents, valiantly battled the GatherGlitchGremlins™, entertain the Trolls, host some of the most active member groups, have made lots of new cyber friends, and have a good time goofing around writing satire, poetry, and the occasional serious article when I'm not off on a journey.

So, as I commence a third year in Gather Town, I wish to say to all my old Gather pals (of course you're still young at heart), to new friends that have yet to be met, and to my trolls that hang on every word and view all my pics, I bid you:

Ni Sa Bula, Kia Ora, Selamat Detang, Yasas, Buon Giorno, Gruss Gott, Bonjour, Gdaymate, Hola, Gruezi, Guten Tag, Kiaorana, Dobraye Utra, Ahoj, Dzien Dobry, Merry Meet, Ola, Wan An, Sawatdii, Sama, Merhba

... or as I'm fond of saying on Gather - Greetings!

LTMoonSpin.gif Spinning Wheel Gotta Go Round image by mrbill01


As the Grateful Dead so aptly sang it in Truckin' -
"Oh, what a looong strange trip it's been!
"




Cheers and wishing you all the best in the new year! MrBill (-;[>

neon_sign02.jpg image by mrbill01

Travel_banner_MrBill

My ArticlesAdventuresMy PhotosMy PoetryMy Videos

Friendprints

~* Friendprints *~

footprints of a friend
linger in your memory

beyond waves of time

fileId:3096224744289946;size:full;

fileId:3096224744289947;size:full;

fileId:3096224744289950;size:full;



~* MrBill © 2007 *~

fileId:3096224744289986;size:inter;

This presentation is in honor of some very
special friends back home who still often
wander through my thoughts. Images above
were created using their original photo.
Footprints - cblazich © 2007

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Freakin' Cold Out Tonight! ... but I'm So Warm And Toasty!!!

It's Freakin' Cold Out Tonight!

Life in the freezer continues ... it's still unseasonably, and unreasonably, cold outside here in Colorado! The weatherman is promising a little snow tomorrow which should bring warmer temperatures. Believe it or not, it can be too cold to snow! Mid 20s is best for snow. So bring on the snow! Back home in Tahoe they're getting some of the white stuff and enjoying midday highs in the 30's ... sounds almost tropical compared to here. Not much has changed really since my last weather report (or weather-bitch-session) posted last week ... it's been cold outside and inside! The furnace died ... RIP ...

This morning I was awakened from my dreams of sugarplums that were dancing through my head by pounding on the front door ... guess they couldn't find the doorbell ... maybe it wasn't working ... maybe it froze its tush off too ... both the button outside and the bells inside ... Anyway, I was now awake and hanging out the window from the second story yelling to the herd of shivering guys at the door, to wait! That I'd be right down! Right down as soon as I pulled another pair of sweatpants over the ones I wore to bed, the ones I pulled way down over my heaviest pair of socks ... even though I was hiding under the big fluffy down comforter ... and got on my boots and vest, and found my fleece beanie ... yeah, I wore it to bed too, but it must have got cold and crawled under the pillow in the middle of the night 'cause I had to search all over to find it.

Dressed ... but really wanting to find a big mug of hot coffee to stick my tootsies in and crawl back under the down comforter ... I opened the door to find three shivering guys in matching dark blue coveralls that claimed to have a furnace in the back of their truck. "That's nice" I said ... "what address are you looking for? We could really use one of those things. In fact, we have a furnace on order, its suppose to be delivered and installed tomorrow. Any chance you guys would install that furnace here?"

The guys looked at the clipboard, looked at each other, looked at me, and then they said "you betcha! just as soon as you let us come in and warm up!" Yippie! Not one to look a gifthorse in the mouth, especially a hot one, I didn't care whose furnace it was supposed to be, we'd take it!

I showed the guys inside the igloo. Paraded them down the stairs. Then through the basement, and finally all the way to the all-the-way-in-the-back backroom where furnaces go to die. All three of the guys in the matching dark blue coveralls crowded around our dearly departed heat source, and collectively agreed ... it was DEAD! Sheesh! we knew that. We weren't freezing our arses off the past week just for fun, ya know!!!

The guys in the matching dark blue coveralls set to work. First they disemboweled the dead furnace. I am not quite sure just what was going on down there in the all-the-way-in-the-back backroom ... I'd gone back upstairs in search of that previously mentioned coffee ... but wafting up the stairs, and through the vents, I could hear all kinds of hammering and banging and sawing, drills and other implements of destruction running, and what I hoped was the screams and screeches and other sounds of sheet metal being ripped in half. It made fingernails on the chalkboard sound like a lullabye ... yep, all that plus every now then a whole lot of swearing ... I'm pretty sure that was the three guys in the matching dark blue coveralls, but for all I know, it might very well have been from the ghost of the furnace passed.

As I sat in the kitchen warming my exposed skin on my coffee mug, pieces of dead furnace started flying up the stairs from the basement. Then someone yelled out "we're going to need another duck!" Oh my ... this exorcism was getting messy, I couldn't believe it was going to take more than one poor waterfowl to rid the demons that killed our furnace. Just as I was preparing to flee, one of the guys in the matching dark blue coveralls, I think he was the chief furnace witchdoctor 'cause he was the one with the clipboard, came upstairs to the kitchen, and much to my relief, informed me that there wasn't enough combustible air coming in from outside for the new high-efficiency furnace and they would have to install another "duct".

Finally the last pieces and parts of the old dead furnace left the basement, and then new pieces and parts of furnace began making the journey down the stairs and all the way back to the all-the-way-in-the-back backroom where hopefully the new furnace, with it's new additional outside air duct, would live and work in peaceful contentment. Installing the new furnace was anything but peaceful. Again, wafting up the stairs and through the vents, I could hear all kinds of hammering and banging and sawing, drills and other implements of, hopefully this time, construction running. And the screams and screeches and other sounds of sheet metal being ripped in half were much more muted this time ... as was the cussing and swearing.

Three hours after I had to abandon my snug cocoon under the big fluffy down comforter to brave the arctic like indoor temperatures and answer the door ... it was all over. The dead furnace laid disemboweled in the back of the three guys' (the ones in the matching dark blue coveralls) truck, awaiting its final departure. And the new furnace (it better have been ours 'cause we ain't giving it back!) was installed. Installed today not tomorrow. The new furnace was attached to, and breathing easily and happily through, the new additional outside combustible air duct (plus the old air duct!), and the new high-efficiency furnace was pumping quickly warming air throughout the house!

... and now I'm So Warm And Toasty!!!

[no ducks were harmed in the making of this blog]

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Plane Crashes and Burst Into Flames During Take-Off @ DIA in Denver

Shortly after 6:00 P.M. Denver time, Continental Airlines flight #1404 bound for Houston veered sharply off the runway into a ravine. The right side of the plane burst into flames on impact. No one died in the crash. 38 people were taken to several different hospitals in the Denver metropolitan area for treatment of what is believed to be mostly lesser non-life threatening injuries.

The Boeing 737 was carrying 107 passengers and a flight crew of five. The plane crashed about 6:18 P.M. on the western side of the airfield. The impact sheered the wheels and landing gear off the plane. Passengers and crew members escaped using the safety slides on the left side of the plane. 20 ambulances and 6 firetrucks rushed to the inferno that was described as "surreal" by the firefighters.

The crash caused a general delay for DIA closing the runways for about 40 minutes. The airport is now operating with only the east side runways with departures and arrivals being somewhat delayed. Flight schedules should return to normal tomorrow.

This is the first plane crash at a Denver airport in 21 years. A Continental Airlines DC-9 jet crashed shortly after taking off in a heavy snowstorm November 15, 1987 at DIA's predecessor Stapleton International Airport killing 28 of the 73 passengers onboard.

Alex Zamora

Photo: CBS Denver Channel 4

Most Delicious Almond Toffee Coffee Cake

Been in a mood to cook & bake the past couple weeks.
... probably the season has something to do with that.
As did the Mad Dame of Cooking and that recipe she
posted last week for Almond Toffee Coffee Cake!

It just sounded too good not to try it out, and being
here in Denver, I am separated from my recipe files
and baking formulas by a thousand miles, so I took
Donna's recipe for a test drive.

I followed her recipe fairly closely, which of itself is a
bit of a christmas miracle, making only three itty bitty
alterations:

  • I needed more than one 8-9" coffee cake so
    the recipe got doubled at the starting line.
  • Doubling meant that I needed ¾ of a bag
    each of sliced almonds and toffee pieces
    so ... I just used the whole bag of each.
  • And since I have been cooking and baking for
    a group that have a serious sweet-tooth, I
    whipped up a light sugary glaze with just a
    little Apricot Liqueur that I drizzled on top.

See, I stayed mostly in the lane, only swerving for
that Apricot Glaze at the finish! No one was going
to object to adding a little extra almonds and toffee.

http://media-files.gather.com/images/d999/d385/d745/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Not only did everyone love it, I have several requests
to bake some more for Christmas Morning Brunch!

Thanks Madame for a great recipe!!! (-;[>

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Missy Higgins: On A Clear Night


"On A Clear Night", Australian singer and songwriter Missy Higgins' second major studio album, presents an interesting blend of pop styles from easy listening to jazz laced to moderate rock. Pacing of the album alternates between slow and quiet and more up-beat and syncopated rhythms so it does not bog down after the first song. Though the first song itself is rather slow and quiet for an opening track.

While the album presents several different moods I am not sure it ever introduced Missy Higgins the individual musician. Young artists are often over-produced and have less input and little control over their music. I
n the case of "On A Clear Night" I am hearing a lot of other female performers that I have listened to in the past. I hear at least strong whispers of the likes of Aimee Mann, Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos (though definitely not Amos' virtuosity on the piano), all the way back to Rickie Lee Jones. I was hoping for a more distinctive sound from Higgins, maybe along the lines of her age peer Anna Nalick and her debut album "Wreck of the Day", which came out in 2004 about the same time as Higgins first Australian releases.

Granted, I'm not the core demographic for most early twenty's female songwriters who are finally releasing their latent teenage angst in their music and lyrics. Gir
ls and young woman in their teens and early twenty's will surely relate to, and appreciate, Missy Higgins lyrics and musical moods much more than I do. However, I can appreciate a pleasant voice and well produced album. Higgins' songwriting, and/or prehaps the producers, relies on lengthy repeated choruses, often twice as long as the verses to craft most of her songs.

The most enjoyable songs on the album for me were "jazzy" with more intricate and syncopated rhythms such as Secret and The Wrong Girl. The song Peachy reminds me of Rickie Lee Jones debut 30 years ago. Steer, the album's first single, is good fast-paced radio pop with the repeated five-line chorus making up two thirds of the song, you will probably hear the catch-phrase "you can steer" being bandied about.

The song that most grabbed my attention on first play, and in my opinion the best song on the album, is the second track 100 Round the Bends. Another song invoking Rickie Lee Jones images musically during the first and third segments. After a driving start this song about "feeling rage is feeling real" Higgins invites you to "jump in my car we'll go 100 round the bends" , then the song takes a strangely airy bridge just over half way through, before shifting back into high gear for a final go at "100 round the bends" to drive it all home.

Drawing inspiration from earlier performers is all well and good, but I think Missy Higgins needs to discover and define her own distinct voice, both in singing and as a songwriter, so she stands out from the crowd of todays young female pop artists. But what I want and what we got here are different things. On A Clear Night is good music with quality producing, Missy Higgins has a pleasant voice to listen to, and while I personally found only a couple standout songs the whole album is a good listen.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Enya: And Winter Came ...

And Winter Came ... bringing sleep to the cold lands.

I recently received Enya's new CD from Gather and with it, a wonderful night's sleep. Enya's music has always been a great sleep inducer for me. Her new winter themed album features icy treatments of new compositions and arrangements of some traditional songs.

It was a struggle to stay awake and listen to the complete album the first time, even in the early evening. As it was the next morning and afternoon as I played it again a second and third time. For me, Enya is music to sleep by or fall to sleep by. No, it's not bad music, it is music, orchestration and vocals that just lulls me to sleep in one and a half songs. For over 20 years Enya's music has had this effect. Enya is best listened to in radio-mode or shuffled on your mp3 player to intersperse her songs amongst more rousing tunes. One should not drive with Enya exclusively playing on the stereo.

Enya is very much a solo performer, writing and arranging most of her music and then performing both the instrumentation and vocals, rarely incorporating other musicians or singers into her process. On "And Winter Came ...", Enya's wispy ethereal vocals invokes an icy cold soundscape that matches the mostly white-on-white album cover scene. The CD arrived in the midst of a record breaking cold spell which only added to its chilliness.

The opening album namesake the instrumental track "And Winter Came ..." fades into "Journey of the Angels" which is almost the same song but with vocals. "White Is in the Winter Night" picks up the pace with a light marching tempo. "Trains and Winter Rains", another promoted track on Enya's website along with Winter Night, is an Enya composition with a more catchy melody and chorus that might be a major hit in the hands of another producer and pop artist using less orchestration. Enya breaks into a more mainstream pop sound with "My! My! Time Flies!" and is helped along by the rare appearance of another musician, Pat Farrel, lending a couple choice electric guitar rifts and with understated orchestra backing gives this song a Fab Four feeling.

Much of Enya's music has a soundtrack kind of feel to it. She makes good background music for a scene. This should not be a surprise as her initial success as a solo artist came from providing background music for movies. One of her biggest audiences would come from her music featured in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Considering the season, I most enjoyed Enya's arrangements of old hymns or carols. Presenting "Qíche Chiúín, the original French hymn we know as Silent Night, with full choir backing her. My favourite song on the And Winter Came ... album is her rendition of the traditional carol O come, O come, Emmanuel. This is Enya at her trademark etherness and is a most pleasant performance of this traditional and familiar Christmas carol.

If you are an Enya fan, you will of course enjoy this seasonal album. Other folks will most likely appreciate Enya's treatment of the Christmas carols and find another song or two they like on the And Winter Came ... album.

_______________________________

And Winter Came...
And Winter Came...Last Time by Moonlight
Journey of the AngelsOne Toy Soldier
White Is in the Winter NightStars and Midnight Blue
O Come, O Come, EmmanuelThe Spirit of Christmas Past
Trains and Winter RainsMy! My! Time Flies!
Dreams Are More PreciousOíche Chiúin (Chorale)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

IT'S COLDER THAN A ... the Furnace Is Out ... and Other Notifications


DAMN!

It's colder than _(you fill in the blank)_


It's damn cold along the Front Range in Colorado. Not quite Stock Show Weather, but the Denver area has been on a record setting streak for unseasonably frigid (freeze your arse off) temperatures in December. Yesterday we broke the standing 111 year old record set back in 1897 with a high of only -2° F (that's about -33° for those on metric). I been away long enough in the relatively tropical and balmy Tahoe region of the Sierras that I'd forgotten about the long stretches of negative temperatures. Many of you have seen the pic of my Tahoe door (just click it for the big picture), yes, lots of snow, but it's not anywhere near as cold in Tahoe as it gets in Colorado. Typically Tahoe only has a handful of below zero nights and gets back into the positive numbers during the day. The Front Range of Colorado is usually more pleasant temps and a bit snowier leading up to Christmas. Today should get above zero but temps again dip below overnight.

Not only are we freezing our arses off outside, where I'm staying we've got icicles hanging off our derrières even when we're inside! The furnace has chosen to take leave of its senses in the middle of this deep freeze. Supposedly the furnace has a "smart" controller ... not so smart if you ask me ... and apparently the furnace has "brain freeze"! This is the second time in 14 years that the furnace has become brain-dead and the furnace brain-surgeon says it's no longer worth keeping it on life-support. Installing a new furnace is about 50% more than parts and labor to bring the old furnace back to life, plus the new furnace will be a much higher efficiency model, using less gas to make more heat, and has a bigger and better fan to push all that hot air around! ... only problem is they can't install it until next Tuesday! So in the meantime ... we're shuffling a pair of little ceramic space-heaters around the house trying to keep everything above freezing, especially the plumbing thingies, wearing all available layers plus wrapping ourselves in down comforters, and spending a lot of time huddling together in the garage ... yes, the garage! where the propane blast furnace type shop heater resides. I'm pondering whether or not we can pull some hotdogs out of the freezer in the garage and roast 'em on a coat hanger in the blast furnace's flame ...

Those wondering where the annoucement is for the 2nd Round Songs of the Christmas Carol Show Down and waiting to find out who's sitting on Santa's Lap today, please be patient, as soon as I thaw my digits out in the flame of the blast furnace and gulp down another pot of tea (assuming I can resist the temptation to warm my toes in it) I will get those posted. I wrote a whole bunch of things last evening and was readying to publish them last night when the internet connection went out again! No, the cat is mostly innocent ... this time. The router was working just fine, but the gateway could not find the internet anywhere! And since we were nice and helped all the neighbors setup their wireless routers to be secure, I couldn't even piggyback off one of them. Late last night AT&T decided it was a good time to take down the internet. Who knows what they doing, the good news is they did what they did and then turned the internet back on by this morning.

So keep an eye an out for upcoming announcements about:

... and Santa really needs someone to sit in his lap today!!!

Cheers! MrBill (-;[>

Sunday, December 14, 2008

ST&W Disco Elves

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

ST&W Elves Barn Dance

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dancing With The ... Elves!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Friday, December 12, 2008

Help Get My GATHER GEAR Out Of Hock!

Help Get My GATHER GEAR Out Of Hock!

Ok ... the other day I went down to that new GATHER GEAR store. I looked around the place. Looked at the stuff hanging on the racks, looked at the stuff on the shelves, heck I even sneaked a peek in the back room when the sales clerk wasn't looking ... not anything real interesting back there, just a couple elves working ... one was packing and addressing boxes while the other elf had a stencil and a can of Gather Gloorange spray paint and was busy tagging t-shirts with the gather logo.

... It took me a while to go through all the shirts and other stuff in the store, but I finally found a Mock-T that I really liked, they even had one of them in my size right there on the lower shelf. I went looking around for that sales clerk I saw when I came in, she was no where to be found, probably made a quick scan of store when I snuck into the back and thought I left and that the store was empty, so she ducked out and ran down the mall to the Starbucks for a jolt of caffeine or maybe over to Borders to grab a book, who knows, maybe she was over sitting on Santa's lap ...

Anyways, there's no clerk in sight to ring up the shirt, so I wander back into the back room, you know, where the elves are, and gave them a shout ... probably wasn't such a good idea to have just walked in and shouted "Hey, wazzup!" ... that scared the beejeezuz out of the little guys. The elf packing boxes fainted. The other one with the spray can must have jumped 10 feet in the air ... it was kind of funny ... now there's this Gather Gloorange streak straight up the back wall almost clear to the ceiling. But it's all good. The clerk ain't gonna say nothing 'cause well, she was off on that unscheduled break, and the assistant manager won't squawk 'cause he was AWOL half the afternoon hanging at the Orange Julius stand trying to make time with the new juice girl. I am pretty sure the elves won't talk. Seemed like they might be undocumented workers. I got the feeling they had slipped over the border from Canada. They said "eh!" a lot, and I noticed a pile of empty Molson cans under one of the tables ...

So after the one elf and I had a good laugh about his jumping and spraying and the big ol' Gather Gloorange streak he tagged on the wall, we revived the little fellow that fainted away. I told them I wanted to get that Mock-T shirt I had found way down on the lower shelf, but that I couldn't find the clerk anywhere. The jumpy elf looked at the shirt and said that what I should do first was let him stencil and paint some stuff on the shirt ... and maybe by the time he was finished painting the shirt that the clerk would be back to ring it up. The elf said he had some things he wanted to try with the shirt, things they didn't usually do. He was really excited about it, and it all sounded like a pretty good plan to me, so that's just what we did.

I left the Mock-T shirt with the elf in the back room, he was going to paint up the Mock-T shirt real fancy, and in the mean time, I would go finish my other errands and then come back. Well, when I got back, the clerk was back too, and the elves were back, they were all the way back in the back room stenciling shirts and other stuff and packing it up to ship off. The clerk took the Mock-T shirt and swiped it over the scanner and the price rang up on the cash register, but then she picked up a piece of paper that was laying next to the shirt and started keying in all these codes. There was a code for the gather logo on the front of the shirt, then there was more codes for each of the lines of printing on the back of the shirt, and finally she keyed in even another code for painting my Gather namespace on the sleeve of the Mock-T shirt, and then ...

Yes, then the clerk pressed the total button on the cash register. Oh my gosh! The cash register started grunting and grinding and making all kinds of terrible sounds as it began to shudder and shake and jump all around on the counter ... then, just as the clerk and I were about to dive for cover because we thought for sure the cash register was going to explode ... there was a tiny, short and crisp, little ding that came from the cash register's bell, and then the cash register spewed out a paper tape out the top of the machine that flew across the whole width of the GATHER GEAR store and then some! On the paper cash register tape was printed the base price for the Mock-T shirt, and then the price for the GatherGloorange Gather logo on the front of the shirt and then the cash register just kept on printing away on the paper tape, printing a line and a price on the tape for each line that had been printed on the back of the Mock-T shirt, and finally it added onto the cash register tape the price for my Gather namespace that was printed on the sleeves of the Mock-T shirt.

Well, I looked at the sales clerk. Then I looked at the divinely decorated Mock-T shirt and the GatherGloorange Gather logo on its front, and looked back at the sales clerk. I took another glance at the hopefully soon to be mine Mock-T shirt and then ... swallowing hard, looked down at the paper cash register tape that the sales clerk had carefully folded so that it no longer stretched across the whole width of the GATHER GEAR store and maybe then some, I looked down where the paper tape lay folded in the clerk's' hand and read the total for my divinely decorated Mock-T shirt with the GatherGloorange Gather logo on the front and all the lines of printing on the back, and of course my Gather namespace on the sleeves ... and I wept.

The sales clerk looked up into my tearing eyes and said, "I did include a special Coupon Code: GATHERGEARHOLIDAYPROMO that people who order online can use to get 20% off their whole order if they place their order before December 12th 2008, and since you are in the store in person and not ordering online there is no charge for shipping because you can take it with you in one of our nice GATHER GEAR store printed plastic shopping bags, but ... you do have to pay sales tax!"

Again I looked longingly at the divinely decorated Mock-T shirt. I admired the GatherGloorange Gather logo on the front, then reread all the lines of printing on the back, and of course my Gather namespace on the sleeve, and looked back at the sales clerk. I then dug deeply into the pockets of my pants, all the way to the very bottom amongst the little lint bunnies that collect in the bottom-most seam, and pulled out all of my PointyThingies™ and layed them carefully on the counter. The sales clerk seemed somewhat disappointed that I would not be paying by PayPal, but she began stacking and counting all of my PointyThingies™ as I continued to search each and every pocket for every last PointyThingie™ I could find. After stacking and counting the very last of the PointyThingies™ I had placed on the counter, the sales clerk look at me, this time she had tears welling up in her eyes. She just knew how much I wanted to take home the divinely decorated Mock-T shirt with the GatherGloorange Gather logo on the front and lines of printing on the back and even my very own Gather namespace on the sleeves ... but there just were not enough of the PointyThingies™ to pay for the Mock-T shirt and all the printing and the GatherGloorange Gather logo, even with no shipping charges and the 20% off online coupon, not to mention the sales tax the governor was going to want ... no, there just wasn't enough PointyThingies™.

The sales clerk said she would hold my my divinely decorated Mock-T shirt with the GatherGloorange Gather logo on the front and the lines of printing on the back, plus my Gather namespace on the sleeve until December 12th. That is today, and today is my last chance to take home my divinely decorated Mock-T shirt or else I will have to find 20% more of those PointyThingies™ to pay for my divinely decorated Mock-T shirt with the GatherGloorange Gather logo spray painted on the front and all of the lines of printing on the back, plus of course my very own Gather namespace neatly stenciled on the sleeves.

I don't think Secret Santa will help me with this, so I was wondering if maybe, just maybe, some of you had a few spare PointyThingies™ in your pockets, or purses, maybe just laying around the house or under the sofa cushions that you could give me so I can get my divinely decorated Mock-T shirt with the GatherGloorange Gather logo sprayed on the front and all the lines of printing on the back and even my very own Gather namespace painted on the sleeves out of hock???

Yep, right up above! That's my divinely decorated Mock-T shirt with the GatherGloorange Gather logo spray painted on the front and all of the lines of printing on the back, plus of course my very own Gather namespace neatly stenciled on the sleeves! I sure hope I get to finally take it home ...

Cheers! and Happy Holidays to everyone!!! (-;[>

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Have You Been Enchanted?

HAVE YOU BEEN ENCHANTED
http://www.KathryneKennedy.com

ENCHANTING THE BEAST, is the third book by Kathryne Kennedy in the RELICS OF MERLIN SERIES, about a Victorian ghost-hunter who’s hired to solve the mystery of a were-wolf’s haunted castle. In the ENCHANTING THE BEAST Merlin uses thirteen different jewels as a focus for thirteen mysterious spells, and the 'magical' jewel in ENCHANTING THE BEAST is a blue topaz.

Check out the author and her available books at her website.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Of Holiday Traditions - Be Careful You Don't Break "Tradition"

One of our family's holiday traditions is to watch a movie after the after-dinner conversation of the feast. This tradition began back in the early days of home VCRs. That first year I had given my parents their first VCR as a present, and had brought along a tape of the "family friendly movie" type for everyone to enjoy. The next year I gave movies as presents to some family members, and again brought another "special" movie for us all to share during the holidays.

This continued for several years until one year ... I did give more movies as gifts, I think this was the year I gave my brother's family their first DVD player, but ... after the table was cleared, leftovers stored away, and dishes washed, my brother asked, "what's this year's movie"? OMG! I had forgotten to bring the "special" movie for after the feast! The whole house, three generations of extended family, was in chaos! "Oh No! MrBill had NO after-feast movie!" ... whatever shall we do?

I had broken "tradition", a tradition that I had even founded and perpetuated. You see, if you begin doing something, and continue to do it year after year, it becomes expected, maybe unconsciously expected, but an expectation that is looked forward to none-the-less. Just like my mother's standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding that is the centerpiece of our family's holiday dinner, it is expected, it is ... TRADITION!

So, as "tradition" dictates, I will again bring a "special" movie for the entire family to watch after we gorge on the traditional standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding feast, have coffee and pie, store the leftovers and wash the dishes. The traditional movie is usually of the light-hearted comedy romp genre, occasionally animated, and with the arrivals of my three little monkeys had to become kid friendly. Last year "Hairspray", which was a huge hit with my dancing nieces, was added to the long running list of films that have played on our holiday-after-feast movie screening.

Once begun, traditions are hard to break, especially family holiday traditions. And even though a particular "tradition" tends to happen only once a year at most, you better remember them and take care not break a family tradition, especially during the holidays!

2008 © MrBill
You can find more published works from MrBill at Gather.com

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm Telling You ... the Cat Did It !!!

The past few days I have been experiencing intermittent internet interference ... in other words - sometimes I can connect to the internet and sometimes not! And thus, I am unable to Gather at will.

This phenomenon has been most pronounced in the late evening and middle of the night hours, after the rest of the crew had gone to bed, and when I prefer to sit and write. I would be surfing along researching topics and clicking on my connections' articles and photos to view, when everything would come to a screeching halt! Not an unheard of issue with Gather, but when I say everything, I mean everything - email, my website, Yahoo and Google too! Nothing was working on down the line from the laptop. It was all gone.

The folks I'm visiting in Denver both telecommute from home offices and they have the highest available broadband tier for their internet connection. For their work they use wired connections for their respective VPN's, but even the wireless router for the rest of the house is just incredibly fast and wonderful to use. It's one thing to watch youTube and promo videos online, but I've even been able to watch full-screen full-length streaming High Def movies on the laptop without any hitches with their connection. Things that just don't do well online back home in the woods. Or I should say, it was wonderful to use ... until Monday night ...

It was around midnight and I was doing the searches so I could post the ♪ Ping-a-long Sing-a-long ♬ for Tuesday when the connection just dropped out of sight. I opened up the Windows control panel and went about checking the connection. It took a a couple tries, but it finally reconnected. Five minutes later it was down again. This time the control panel couldn't even find the router. A couple more minutes and the router reappears. The number of bars on the graph is five (very good connection), but before I can click on the connection all the bars disappear. Then two bars come back ... jumps to four ... down to one ... back to five ... settles on two for a while ... I reconnect. Don't need all the bars, not watching a movie, just doing some searches and hopefully publishing the article.

Got the links I needed so I went offline to write the article. Later, ready to publish. So I open the browser and try to log onto Gather ... can't connect ... check the control panel and the router is no where to be seen ... this time I go check the actual router where it hides in the entertainment console along with the VCR, DVD, TIVO and other assorted new fangled entertainment machinery bearing acronyms, like the box that brings HBO into the house and the other one that plays CDs. The lights were blinking normally, so I opened the cabinet door, reached in and pressed the reset button. The router goes through its gyrations of resetting and reconnecting, and everything looks good. Back at the laptop I again find the router listed, and it and the laptop have already reconnected and are acting like long lost best buddies. Get logged into Gather, open the editor, paste in the article, click to add photos ... and ... and nothing! It just sits there. No little spinning whirlwind on the screen, not even one of those "I can't find that server so I give up" error messages, the window just sat there and did nothing. I gave up, too. Went upstairs, brushed my teeth, and got in bed with my spy novel.

Tuesday night. Another late night writing fest and attempt to post the ♪ Ping-a-long Sing-a-long ♬ for hUMp dAy. Events are a rerun of the night before ... I gave up earlier this time and got to read several chapters from Robert Ludlum before falling alseep.

Wednesday night. The mysterious router disappearances continued ... however, I did manage to get an article posted Wednesday during the day ... but last evening was another repeat performance of the previous two late night adventures in hide-and-go-seek routers ... at this rate I am going to finish reading the spy mystery in record time!

This morning. As usual, I sat down to check my email with coffee before getting started for the day. Coffee was hot and delicious ... the internet connection was cold and bitter ... nonexistent actually, or possibly still AWOL from last night. Other folks in the house are also having problems connecting through the wireless router, though the wired connections in their offices are fine.

So we begin a thorough game of hide-and-seek-router ... while getting in behind the entertainment console and all of those monogrammed boxes of electronic entertainment wizardry ... we are greeted by a flying ball of fur and claws making a screeching and hasty exit from the secret cat-nap place it had claimed between the cabinet and the wall on top of the nest of cables and cords that emanate from the backside of all the monogrammed entertainment boxes!

The cat that claimed this hiding spot is a feisty little guy of about five pounds when soaking wet (and being wet is right up there with having his secret hiding place discovered as one of his least favourite things!) and he is just heavy enough to stretch the router cable and partially disconnect the plugs in their sockets, yet not enough weight to pull the plugs completely out of the wall or router. Coming in from the front of the cabinet to press the router's reset button at night, I was not seeing the cat quietly abandoning his new secret hiding place, and my pressing the reset button was enough to get the CAT-5 cable's plug on the back of the router to realign the connection until the next time the cat crawled back into its hiding place.

Now that the mystery of the kitty connection, or dis-connection as it was, has been solved, I can again do my late night searching and writing unimpeded. The ♪ Ping-a-long Sing-a-long ♬ will resume its regularly scheduled postings later tonight just in time to end the week!

The Culprit - aka Verne Kitty
(don't let the cute face fool you!)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Getting Better Search Results

"Boolean" searches can be performed using most any of the search engines, it is not another search engine. Boolean searches include using operatives like - and, or, not - in your search terms to better define what you are looking for. The major search engines do some of the "and" functions for you automatically by searching for any and all words you type in the search line.

Say you are going to visit Colorado and want to find some hot springs to soak in. If you search for hot springs colorado on Google you will get what you asked for ... plus a ton of things you didn't realize could be found from those three words! Like a lot of information about the city Colorado Springs and all the other cities and towns in Colorado that have "springs" in their names. You will probably also get info on things and places that are "hot" in Colorado, and info on "hot springs" regardless of which state or country they are in!

But if you change your search terms to 'hot springs' + colorado - 'colorado springs' which translates as "hot springs" in "Colorado" BUT NOT "Colorado Springs", the sites returned by the search will be what you are actually looking for and the best answers will be at the top of the listings (except for the 2 to 5 "paid-for" crap listings that will be listed first as "sponsored" sites).

Often you can find what you want in a search by just typing in the keywords, but the first search often returns too much stuff. Your second search would be to exclude some the extra stuff and would be best done by adding some ANDs and ORs and NOTs.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Get more SEARCH Bang! without adding a bunch of toolbars to your browser.

Some people limit their search abilities because they don't want to add a bunch of extra "toolbars" to their internet browser. More and more websites are promoting their own flavour of search toolbars. This is especially true of shopping and news sites. Most are just crap! and rob you of viewing space in your browser window. These toolbars also tend to rob you of other resources as they constantly ping their home site and often they scroll a continuous line of advertisements, weather reports, and other useless information.

I agree! I don't want all that extra crap hogging valuable space on my browser!

BUT! you don't have to add a bunch of "toolbars" to get access to more search engines.

Both Internet Explorer and Firefox allow the user to have a collection of search engines inside the main browser search line. I have 6 to 10 different search engines in both browsers. You just click on the search icon and scroll down to "manage" or "add" search engines in either browser and then it will take you to the webpage where you can add more search options to your browser. Below are some of the search options you can add to your main browser search without adding extra toolbars.

Microsoft Internet Explorer
[click here to view Explorer Search add-ons]

Web Search Engines
Topic Search Engines

Mozilla Firefox
[click here to view Firefox Search add-ons]


Personally I use the following engines on my Firefox search bar:
The above search engines are the ones I use the most often. I have some more search engines bookmarked in special categories within my Favorites to make them easy find when I need them.

There are over 350 search engines and search enhancement modules currently available to Firefox users. Many of them can also be downloaded for use on Explorer. I am not going to list all the ones for Firefox. At the Mozilla.com website you will find the search engines listed these fifteen categories to pick from:
  1. All Search Engines
  2. Bookmarks
  3. Business
  4. Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
  5. General
  6. Kids
  7. Multiple Search
  8. Music
  9. News & Blogs
  10. Photos & Images
  11. Shopping & E-Commerce
  12. Social & People
  13. Sports
  14. Travel
  15. Video
So check out the many search options available for your choice of browser and add the ones you think will simplify and enhance your online search life!

Check out what is available for your favourite browser:
Mozilla Firefox [click here to view Firefox Search add-ons]
Microsoft Internet Explorer [click here to view Explorer Search add-ons]

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Musings - The Dinner Revolution

This is the tale of the 2008 Thanksgiving Dinner Revolution.
For those seeking background on the Damn Chickens haiku,
this may help explain why there were so many damn chickens.
Words to the wise - if you don't want to be found, get out of town!

Thanksgiving Dinner Revolution

... it all started out simple enough

a small and quiet supper
for her, for you, and for me
not so different from any other Thursday
but then it began, an evolution
taking on a life of its own
it exploded into a revolution

... and the damn chicken was now three!


... twas so simple in the beginning, before

piles of green beans and other things
clamored for space on the counter top
as sacks of potatoes sat on the floor
pots and pans lined up on the stove
the rebellion cheered, they roared for more

... and the damn chicken was now three.


... quiet of the day was shattered

a house to be cleaned
table leaves to be found
pies were baked and salads prepared
relish trays and appetizers to be made
we were all scurrying around
extra chairs would need to be scrounged

... and the damn chicken was now three.


... valiantly we stayed our stations, as

knives were flying, onions were dying
bread crumbs soared high in a bowl
the soufflé exploded from the middle rack
showering eggs and sugar upon the burner
strafing candied oranges for flak

... and the damn chicken was now three.


... resolved to our new dinner order

plates and forks were marched around
the table filled with clinking glasses
wine was summoned from the cellar deep
as gravy flowed into the boats
the heaping platters took center place

... and the damn chicken was now three.


... it all began so innocently

it was never meant to be a feast
just dinner, for her, for you, for me
no turkey, not this year, just a chicken
and potatoes, some beans and dinner rolls
but word snuck out
they all began to shout
first two
then four
get another chicken
run back to the store
but hungry cries came
from a dozen more
what else could we do?
trapped unable to flee

the one damn chicken ... it had to become three!

-- 2008 @ MrBill

Friday, November 28, 2008

Damn Chickens

Damn Chickens

damn chickens

chickens chickens, damn
chickens where ever I look
pot full damn chickens

2008 © MrBill

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dancing With The Stars Finalé

Are you surprised I'm writing this?

I am!

You should be too!!

Two months ago I would never have thought I would have spent almost 24 hours total watching has-been, ne'er-do-well, and never-were celebrities learn to Waltz, Foxtrot and Cha-Cha-Chá! The folks I am visiting in Colorado are die-hard fans, and got me hooked on DWTS. So here I am, coming out of the closet in my tux and spats! DWTS won't replace my favourite show - Amazing Race - but since it does not overlap the summer series Burn Notice it is welcome to share my #2 slot!

It was apparent from week one that Brooke Burke was hands down (or feet up!) the class of this seasons stars. I don't think anyone can quibble with the final results, Brooke and Derek were beautiful and graceful on the floor all season. From a guy's point-of-view, what wasn't to like about Brooke? The shapely former swimsuit model (and mother of FOUR!) still has the goods and could knock most of the current models off the cover of any magazine! Grace, poise, and good looks make for a great foundation, but she took the show seriously, trusting Derek to teach to her and was able to follow his lead and take big risks on the floor.

For pure entertainment value, you had to love watching the big ol' teddy bear Warren Sap doing his darnedest to get up on his toes to satisfy Len. As is typical with the sport stars, Warren was doggedly competitive, but was so cheerful and engaging, and incredibly open to learning from Kim. I doubt a 300 pound lineman will ever win the DWTS trophy, but as Warren was fond of saying, "the fat man can dance!" The almost weekly comment from the judges was that Warren brought an energy to the dances and the show that engaged the viewers. It was apparent that his fan base helped overcome his technical short-comings, most notably in the finals by boosting him to 2nd place over Lance. Something that has been missing in the TV line-ups for many years is the "variety show", though DWTS is sort of close in a reality kind of way. I hope that some ABC executive has taken note of Warren's charming demeanor and his ability to connect with an audience and draw them in and hold their attention. Few sports stars transition well into TV personalities, especially when trying to go beyond being a sports commentator, but Warren seems to be a complete package and in my mind he would be a perfect host or MC for a 60's or 70's style variety show showcasing music, dance, comedy and short sketches along the lines of Flip Wilson, Rowan & Martin, and the Smothers Brothers.

Boy-Band Lance was a slow starter and it took Lacey half the season to get him whipped into shape, both physically and mentally. Then it happened! There seemed to be an emotional connection for the "lancey" team (though Lance outted himself two years ago), monstrously demonstrated by what can only be described as a late season "lover's quarrel", and their routines really began to dazzle. Not well liked by the judges when performed, I loved Lance and Lacey's smoldering barefoot Rumba during the season. I thought their performances Monday and last night in the finals were definitely #2, but Lance just couldn't match Warren's fan base for viewer votes. Lance and Lacey will continue to dance together in the upcoming DWTS Tour, and it should be interesting to see what they can do without having to cater to the demands of the judges.

Long gone, yet returning for last night's finalé (and just out of the hospital from pneumonia), was the queen of this season - Cloris Leachman. At 82 Cloris was the oldest ever Star, but while her age was a running gag, she more than gave it a go every week she was on the floor. Ingeniously paired with Corky Ballas, father to DWTS Mark Ballas and stand-in parent and mentor to Derek and Julianne Hough, plus coach to more than half of the other DWTS professional dancers, Cloris not only tried to learn to dance, but true to her character and long career, she played the clown! Corky was brilliant in choreographing dances for Cloris that exploited her multi-award winning comedic talents, and together they appeared to be having more fun than anyone. The comedic relief could only last so long, but it was great that DWTS kept Cloris and Corky on until it was necessary to make room for only the dance couples that were truly competitive.

So, am I now a die-hard Dancing With the Stars convert? Well ... maybe! Next spring will tell when the new season of DWTS begins. If the next group of stars are as engaging and entertaining as they were this fall, I will most likely be swaying with the Samba and Waltzing to my easychair every Monday and Tuesday night to watch DWTS!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thankgiving Haiku


friends and family

come together in season

feasting as they share

2008 © MrBill

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Do You Really Know -- Who Is Running For President?

Who's on first.
I don't know.
No, he's on third.
What?
What is on second!*

Has the election cycle become a comedy of errors?

Do you really know who is actually running for president?

Oh sure, you know about those two whiney candidates - Where'sMyMama and AnyoneSeenMyCane - and their pitiful VP running mates that tag along for the ride. But, do you know who else is running for the highest office in the land? ... oh, you probably don't even care ... you think America is just a two-party system, and you really really really wish one or the other of those parties would just go the heck away! However, truth be told, there are lots of other candidates you can vote for next Tuesday.

Who's on the ballot varies from state to state. Because of unfair election laws, hurdles imposed by the two major party-poopers to keep the riffraff out, most of the candidates can only make it onto ballots in a few states at best, and many can only make it on to their home-state's ballot.

If voters truly wanted to implement "change", they would all cast write-in ballots for "none-of-the-above" and send a decisive message to the politicians and their pooper parties that we have had enough of the bullshit! Unfortunately, write-in campaigns rarely work, especially beyond local level politics, and of course the major parties have pooped on this option as well. Most states have instigated rules such that a write-in candidate has to be registered before the election, some require the candidate to have been registered for the state primary and even receive a certain amount of the primary votes to be a valid candidate. All of which just serves to protect the special interests of the pooper-parties and their candidates while keeping the masses disenfranchised. Here's a little Write-In trivia: In 1920, Eugene Debs ran a write-in campaign from a federal prison and garnered almost 4% of the 26 million total presidential votes cast, the most votes ever received by a Socialist Party candidate in a national election. Debs was serving time for espionage resulting from his speaking out against World War One.

So abandoning the proposed last minute write-in campaign, we are left with picking from the ballot buffet of would-be presidents. I'm visiting in Colorado and checked their ballot. On Tuesday Coloradoans will be able to pick from a total of 16 presidential candidates. Now that's a PARTY! What choices do you have on your ballot?

Presidential Candidates on the 2008 Colorado Ballot

John McCain - Republican
Barack Obama - Democrat
Chuck Baldwin - Constitution
Bob Barr - Libertarian
Cynthia McKinney - Green
Jonathan E. Allen - HeartQuake ‘08
Gene C. Amondson - Prohibition
James Harris - Socialist Workers
Charles Jay - Boston Tea
Alan Keyes - America's Independent
Gloria La Riva - Socialism and Liberation
Bradford Lyttle - U.S. Pacifist
Frank Edward McEnulty - Unaffiliated
Brian Moore - Socialist USA
Ralph Nader - Unaffiliated
Thomas Robert Stevens - Objectivist

*Apologies to Abbott and Costello for the bastardization of their genius.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Politics of Oz

The Politics Of Oz

Some people are like the Scarecrow,


they vote Democrat because they have no brains.

~

Other people are like the Tin Man,


they vote Republican because they have no heart.

~

The rest are like the poor Lion,


they vote Independant because they have no courage.

However, things could be worse ... you could be
the incumbent witch and get hit by a house!

During this election year remember ...
watch out for flying monkeys, falling houses, and
pay no attention to the person behind the curtain!