Tuesday, January 31, 2006



Many of you remember that I vacationed last summer with my sister's family at Weko Beach on Lake Michigan. It is a park and campground run by the city of Brigman. Very upscale, on the Riviera of America, and well, fairly urban. It adjoins Warren Dunes State Park. While camping there last summer, the campground was awakened about 2 am by this horrible. very loud, screechy, snarly, growl. It sounded like a large cat that couldn't decide if it wanted to mate with something or eat it. The noise was loud enough to cause me to almost fall of my cot, and sent our then 9 mos old Airedale, Kipper, into a bout of apoplectic barking, growling and snarling. I had assumed it was a bobcat, rare around here, but not unheard of. Then I watched the 11 o'clock news last night. Warren Dunes and Weko Beach are about to post cougar warnings all over the parks. These signs instruct you how to behave if confronted by a Mountain Lion. Which incidentally, is quite a bit different from how you would react to a bear. but, I digress.

Apparently, park rangers at the two parks have spotted cougar prints numerous times, and there have been a number of actual cougar sightings, the latest early yesterday morning. Apparently, a lady living across from the state park let her 170lb. Rottie out to relieve himself, only to find a Mountain Lion drinking from the goldfish pond in her backyard. The cat and the Rottie apparently had a several minute staredown before the cat decided that might be more dog than it really wanted to deal with. Discretion being the better part of valor, the Rottie accepted his moral victory without pressing matters further.

I spent some time on the web tonight, and as near as I can tell, up until a couple of years ago, the last confirmed Mountain Lion sighting in the lower peninsula was in the 1880's. But two summers ago, Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore posted cougar warnings like those about to go up at Warren Dunes. And last spring, Macomb county had a cougar that was hanging out around a local elementary school. Macomb county is the far northeast side of Detroit. Not exactly rural in nature.

More and more we see wildlife that used to be seen only in extremely rural areas right here in the city. About 7 years ago, I stepped outside late one night to have a smoke, just in time to watch a Lynx jump from the huge maple tree in the backyard, onto the garage roof, then disappear down the alley. I thought I was imagining things, but the next few days the police and the zoo got numerous calls wondering if the zoo was missing a cougar. Well, it wasn't big enough to be a cougar, and it was too big to be a bobcat, so my original impression turned out to be right, a lynx. It was spotted a number of more times before it disappeared from the scene. Thing is, until then, it had been over a century since a lynx sighting in our area.

Up until the early 70's, there had been no coyotes in the lower peninsula since before WWII. But a couple of hard winters drove some of them across the straits to the LP where they multiplied like rabbits. It is not uncommon to see coyotes in here in South Bend now. I see them on a fairly regular basis at the park along the river at Indiana University South Bend. Kipper will sometimes go nuts if we walk over there, and my friend Bob's big yellow Lab has had a couple of run ins with them. The coyotes have become so common that they are starting to show up on a regular basis as road kill along US 20.

It amazes me how adaptable some of these creatures are. I work downtown, and have to arrive at work very early (4:45 am). It is not uncommon to see a fox trotting down the alley, a rat or rabbit in it's mouth. Perfectly oblivious to the fact that it is a busy city, and he has no business living there. Apparently, somebody forgot to tell him that!

I have the feeling that as we destroy more and more of these creatures natural habitat, we will see more of them in major urban areas like this. I only hope we adapt as well to their presence as they apparently are to ours!



i have been tagged by the lovely Julie, one of the Rocky Top Bloggers. The rules are simple: Name the eight things you most desire in a romantic/intimate partner.

My perfect woman is....

1. Smart, because smart is the ultimate in sexy. Smart turns me on!

2. Funny, which is almost as sexy as smart!

3. Good natured and easy going, because one curmudgeon is enough in any relationship!

4. Forgiving/Have a short memory, because nothing is a bigger turn off than having something you said ten years ago thrown back in your face!

5. LIBERAL - If ya voted for Dumbya, ya need not apply!

6. Love the outdoors: If your idea of the perfect romantic evening is a moonlight swim and making love on the dunes... we should talk. Owning your own canoe and/or fishing equipment a definite plus!

7. Prefer other people's kids to having your own, cause at my age, the grandkids are about all I can handle!

8. Appreciate the occasional nuzzle behind the ear or kiss on the shoulder, because I really like doing that! At least, I vaguely remember liking to do that!

I know a number of you have already been tagged on this one by Bridget Jones or TSHSmom, so I will leave this an open ended tag. If you feel like doing it, consider yourself tagged!

Friday, January 27, 2006


The Midas Touch.....NOT!!!!

New Canadian PM rebuffs US envoy: It appears rumors of a new US/CANADIAN detante are greatly exaggerated. Already, the bickering has begun. See the entire story HERE

RECAPPING THE INEPTITUDE OF THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP.... a brief look at the front pages the last few days encapsulates the story of 6 years of Republican incompetence and corruption. Has there ever been an administration that has so consistently screwed up everything it touched? You be the judge: (note: commentary in italics mine!)

from Wednesday's SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE: Army now "thin green line".

Okay, according to two separate reports, one commissioned by the Pentagon, the other issued by a group headed by former Defense Secretary William Perry, the US military is stretched disastrously thin, and does not have sufficient strength to outlast the insurgents in Iraq. Just one more indication that all the promises the administration made to the Iraqi people about rebuilding their country are as empty as the west Texas plains. This has been one of the biggest human disasters in world history. Unfortunately, perpetrated by us. What a shame. Related story HERE

from Thursday's USA TODAY: Rx plan failing to help neediest: "Fewer than 300,000 of the 3.6 million people who have voluntarily enrolled in the drug program were approved for a low-income subsidy. That's just 4% of the 8.2 million people the Bush administration has estimated could qualify for the subsidy."

Okay, this is just part of the disaster that is the Bush drug plan. Over half the states have been forced to pass emergency legislation allowing the states to pay for Senior citizens prescriptions and seek reimbursement from the feds. What's more, the Senate is about to launch an investigation on the activities on behalf of the US pharmaceutical industry by a Tom DeLay related lobbying firm. This drug plan is just an unmitigated disaster.

from Thursday's USA TODAY: Mideast democracy boosts Islamists.

This is what happens when ideology overrides pragmatism. Yeah, in theory, everyone should have the right to vote and a say in the way they are governed. But pushing democracy on people not ready for the responsibilities of it, and then being "shocked" by the consequences is a sign you are way out of touch with reality. In the middle east. Bush's pressure to democratize has strengthened the hand of Islamic fundamentalists in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and now, of course, Palestine. George Bush and company, again so confident in their own ideology, apparently couldn't believe things would turn out this way and had no plan of action in case they did. Once again, caught with pants down, and no suspenders to be found.

from Thursday's USA TODAY: New Orleans plan lacks okay; White House rejects Louisiana plan for special agency to buy ruined homes.

From the continuing disaster that is the Administration response to Katrina, Bush rejects a plan that has the backing of virtually every Republican and Democrat in Louisiana. That Republicans and Democrats in Louisiana agree on something is quite extraordinary! That Bush would veto it on ideological grounds, (it would "create a new federal bureaucracy") is just baffling. Fortunately, this plan appears to have enough support in Congress that even the Congressional leadership may not be able prevent a veto override.

from Friday's USA TODAY: New equation shocks mideast; Palestinians choose avowed enemy of Israel.

Could I possibly be the only one who saw this coming? Paleeeeeeze! Who the hell advises the pres anyhow? Don't his intelligence analysts read the paper? Or at least listen to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED once in a while? Christ, anybody not living in a cave should have known this was a very good possibility, even a likelihood, for months. That we apparently have no plan for this eventuallity is absolutely inexcusable!

from Friday's USA TODAY: State of Union? "Going the wrong way"

62% of Americans believe the US is headed in the wrong direction. What I want to know is: What the hell are the other 38% smokin'? And were can I get some?

Americans have always been willing to tolerate a little corruption in return for well run government. Chicago being the most obvious example. The elections next November may reveal if, for the first time, we are willing to tolerate incompetence and corruption in favor of ideology. Could be interesting. Go Pragmatists!




Mario Lemieux retired from playing this week, the victim of the aging process and heart problems. A bad back and a bout with cancer robbed him of the chance to be the greatest ever, but his impact on the game was tremendous.

For 10 years, "Super Mario", fought and cajoled the dinosaurs who run the NHL in an effort to open up the game and give the most skilled players an opportunity to display those skills. Unfortunately, by the time the new NHL came around, his skill had diminished to the point he couldn't compete in the new up tempo game.

He will, of course, remain in hockey as the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and mentor to child star Sidney Crosby.

appears to be down to a two horse sprint. The favorite has to be Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom. Clearly the best player, let alone defensemen, in the NHL, Lidstrom should be a shoe in, barring injury or slump.

But don't count out Ottawa's Zdeno Chara. He is having a great year, and is the emotional favorite of the Canadian contingent. But, teamate Wade Redden could pull enough from the Canadian voters to make the point moot. As it is, Lidstrom is clearly the most deserving at this point.

Current NHL Power Rankings:

1) Ottawa
2) Carolina
3) Nashville/Detroit
5) NY Rangers
6) Dallas
7) Calgary
8) Los Angeles
9) Philadelphia
10) Buffalo

Moving up fast: Tampa Bay, New Jersey

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Tampa Bay Goalie John Grahame, who pitched a shut out against New Jersey last night, his third in five games!


I just came acrossTHIS STORY on Miss World's website MY DAILY HIGH HORSE, and it just really pisses me off! What the fuck kind of people have we become, anyhow? I am so ashamed! Miss World has a really great post on this, some of which I may soon steal! Check it out, and i won't have to!

Friday, January 20, 2006



Mother nature decided to drop the other shoe this week! The knee wasn't bad enough, oh no! This week she decided to ravage me with the mother of all colds! Runny nose, sore throat. ears ache, severe cough, chest congested. Yes, I feel like shit! Actually, I'd have to feel much better to feel like shit. Our beautiful Hoosier weather isn't helping matters much. Mid to high 40's all last week, mid 40's Monday, low 20's with snow Tuesday, mid 40's Wednesday, mid 50's yesterday. It was 52 at 1 am this morning. Now, at 9 am, it is 36 and dropping, with 4" of snow in the forecast for tonight.

Even alcohol isn't helping! In the old days, when they used to forward my mail to the City Limits Lounge, I was never sick! I'd smoke 2 1/2 packs a day, drink 6-10 beers and a few shots a night, and be healthy as a horse. I always thought it was cause the alcohol was killing all the germs. Well, let me tell you, whatever bug I have come down with, it is alcohol resistant! Funny, since I quit smoking and severely moderated my drinking, my health has gone all to hell. But I digress.

Ever notice that when you are sick, everything seems to conspire to torture you? Wednesday night, I fell asleep about half way through the 11 p.m. news, only to wake about 1:30. Kenny Rogers was hosting one of those Time-Life music series infomercials. Now, I generally hate country music! But I love a couple of sub genres. Especially the Austin sound. I love the music of the old Outlaws (Waylan, Willie, Kris, David Allen Coe, Charlie Daniels, et al). Now, all these artist songs were well represented on this show. So what song do you think has been rattling around my brain for the last two days? Only the twangiest piece of country tripe ever written, Jeanne Pruett's "Satin Sheets". Talk about severe torture!

The upside of being in severe pain and deathly ill is that I have watched more television in the last couple of weeks than I had in the previous year. My impressions:

24 - This was the best start ever! I usually just wait till the season comes out on DVD to watch this show. However, I can tell you that I will not be disturbed on Monday nights for the remainder of the season! Jean Smart is brilliant as the presidents neurotic wife. What a terrific addition to the cast!

LOVE MONKEY - This show is every bit as good as the hype surrounding it. Tom Cavenaugh is a terrific actor, the cast is great, and the dialogue is hip, smart, funny, and poignant all at the same time!

The CSI's - The only one of these I really like is CSI: Miami. The pace of this show seems to be much quicker, and quite frankly, this is the role David Caruso was made for. I don't like the pace or the characters in the other CSI's nearly as much.

NBC Thursdays - Will and Grace stayed a season too long. 4 Kings should be renamed 4 Deuces. The Office isn't nearly as good as it's British counterpart. However, My Name Is Earl saves the evening. This is a very clever, original and funny show. I must admit, however, that living here in Hoosierville, some of the characters look a bit TOO familiar. Kinda creepy.

LAW AND ORDER - This franchise is getting tired and old fast, although Chris Noth seems to have breathed some life into SVU

THE NHL ON NBC - Excellent start. I really like having Bill Clement and Ray Ferraro on the ice, in skates, at Rockefeller Center. It allows them to demonstrate the things they talk about between periods. Very nice touch.

CROSSING JORDON - Besides CSI: Miami, this is the other crime scene show I like. This is different than the CSI's in that there is much more made of the relationships between the investigators.

My fervent desire is that I get well and never acquire enough knowledge of TV to do this post again.

Has Ossama Bin Laden become completely irrelevant? You get the feeling he released this latest tape as a means of saying "hey guys, remember me?"

Alexander Ovechkin's brilliant goal last weekend has moved to the top of my all time great goal list. For those of you who don't watch the evening news, it happened like this. Ovechkin is breaking in alone on the left wing. The goalie moves out to cut down the angle just as a diving defenseman manages to trip Ovechkin. Stick in left hand, he is sliding face first and about to slide past the goal. He somehow manages to roll onto his back, get the heel of his stick on the puck, and slide it behind the goalie into the net!

My ex gf, Christine (isn't there a horror flick by that name) is an administrator at a local university. We used to argue endlessly over the subject of math. It has long been my contention that there is WAY too much emphasis on math in hs and college, to the detriment of the other subjects that help make one a well rounded, useful citizen. The vast majority of us NEVER use an algebraic equation or calculus in our entire adult lives, and get along just fine with good old arithmetic. Why force someone who wants to be a novelist or historian to take calculus? Imagine my surprise when MARKETPLACE aired a feature saying that math is way over rated, that the vast majority of people get through life just fine using nothing but arithmetic, and that this time spent studying advanced math might be much better spent elsewhere for most students! VINDICATION! I love it!

Friday, January 13, 2006



My apologies for neglecting you all. I am still trying to recuperate from last weekend. The short of it.... I severely sprained my knee last Thursday. It was sore in the morning when I woke up (apparently I twisted it in my sleep), then later in the day I swung my leg over an object at work, and something in the back of my knee went pop, completing the job my restless sleep started. Add to that the 10 hours driving a 12 passenger van to Auburn Hills and back Saturday (arriving home at 5 am, having to work at 9 am) for a Pistons game, walking across about 50 acres of asphalt to get to the Palace, the lack of sleep , and my knee was truly a mess by Monday. Operating a clutch and climbing in and out of a semi 12 hours a day hasn't helped much. So I have spent virtually all of my non working hours laying on the couch, watching TV, with my legs elevated by my sons old bean bag chair.

The truth is, I have trouble sitting at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. My knee gets stiff and sore really fast. But it's not like I don't have anything I'd like to talk about. There is so much going on! Like, will Patrick Fitzgerald use Tom DeLay's wife's legal problems to leverage a deal out of him. Does anyone think DeLay is the kind of guy to sacrifice himself for his wife's sake?

How about, "will Harry Reid grow a proper set of Irish balls and filibuster the Alito nomination?" Seems to me a good question! With a good Irish name like that, you'd think he'd have gotten his Irish up long ago. C'mon Harry, grow some!

More personal news: my tickets to see George Thorogood arrived in the mail yesterday! He is playing at the old, historic Elco Theatre in Elkhart. This building has acoustics rivaled only by The Auditorium in Chicago! This is gonna be a dynamite concert! I am pumped!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006



I spent New Years Eve in the heart of Dutch Reformed country, Grand Rapids MI. The Detroit Red Wings #1 farm team, the Griffins play there, and we thought we'd check out a couple of the prospects who will likely be in Detroit next year. It turned out to be a very interesting evening!

The Griffs have a section of seats in the corner of the rink that go for $5 if you order in advance online. Sounded like a great deal, so I ordered 5. Turned out to be an even better deal than I could have possibly imagined!

When we arrived after the two hour drive from South Bend, we went in to Van Andel Arena (virtually every public building downtown has either the Van Andel or De Vos name on it, in honor of the founders of Amway) and attempted to find our seats. We could find no row R in section 220. We tracked down an usher, who told us we would have to take the elevator.

We got on the elevator, and at the next floor the door opened and a VERY well dressed woman of middle age got on the elevator. She took one look and asked us "are you folks lost?" We told her that the usher had directed us to take the elevator to our seats in section 220. She told us that you couldn't access section 220 from the elevator, that there must be some mistake, and demanded to see our tickets. She looked at them for a long few seconds, got this look of angry, bemused disgust on her face, and said "oh, I guess that's right". The elevator opened, and we walked out to find ourselves in the luxury boxes! We had our own box approximately 20' x 10', with exactly five seats in it! Apparently, this section is normally reserved for parties with wheelchairs. It must have been the only row in section 220 with 5 seats together when I ordered tickets. So the computer assigned these five seats to us. My daughter-in -law commented that she had never felt wealthy before!

We must not have displayed the proper wealthy Calvinist decorum during the match, because people in the other luxury boxes kept eyeing us suspiciously. But we had a great time, it was an exciting game, they had a nice fireworks show afterward, and the food at the arena is excellent!

Downtown GR is exceptionally nice, but a bit haughty. We went across the street to a building called BOB (Big Old Building) that houses a number of bars and restaurants, only to find that they were charging a $30 cover just to enter the building. Exiting patrons told us all the restaurants inside were charging covers too. We checked out a number of downtown bars to discover $20 - $30 was pretty much the going cover. We did mange to find a Friday's downtown, so we celebrated the incoming New Year there, complete with complimentary glasses of Korbal. We managed to stay awake during the drive home, and arrived a bit after 3 am.

New Years day I was up at 9 preparing our belated Christmas brunch and dinner. Brunch consisted of a crustless Quiche with Ham, Onions, and red Bell Peppers, plus Biscuits with homemade Sausage Gravy. Dinner included an 8 lb boneless Ham cooked in 7 Up, a 12 lb Beef Briscuit, Au Gratin Potatoes, Skillet Beans, Green Beans, home made Potato Rolls, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, and Pudding Cake.

I was so glad to get back to work to recuperate!

Hope everyone had a great holiday! I'll have more to say later, so much juicy news the last few days, but wanted to get a post in before ya'll forget me!

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