Monday, June 30, 2008

Frequent Flyer Felons

I swear, you just can't make this stuff up.

From the San Francisco Chronicle - An effort by San Francisco to shield eight young Honduran crack dealers from federal immigration officials backfired when the youths escaped from Southern California group homes within days of their arrival, officials said Monday.

The walkaways are the latest in a string of embarrassments for city officials who are protecting illegal-alien drug dealers from federal authorities and possible deportation because of San Francisco's 1989 declaration that the city is a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

My first question is, why were the eight juvenile cocaine dealers in a group home and not in a California Youth Authority facility? The answer will astonish you, or it may not. For the past few years the City of San Francisco has been flying illegal immigrants convicted of drug dealing back to their country of origin rather than turning them over to federal immigration authorities. Just to make sure you are not dreaming, stop and pinch yourself. Did you feel that? Good.

That's right, the taxpayers of San Francisco are paying to fly dope dealers, in this country illegally, back to their home countries to avoid arrest on immigration charges. The 8 youth drug dealers were at the 'group home' because the flights out of the country were being reported in the news and the City had to come up with another way to hide these drug dealers from authorities. It seems selling crack and heroine is ok, however enforcing our immigration laws is a travesty of justice that cannot stand. Cities like San Francisco and other 'sanctuary cities' are not just turning a blind eye to traffic enforcement and other petty crimes when it comes to illegal aliens, now it seems that no crime, no matter how hanis, warrants a call to immigration officials.


What do the environmentalist in San Francisco think of this? How big is the carbon footprint of a Honduran crack dealer if the city flies him back home every time he gets arrested? Considering the City's stance on greenhouse gas emissions, one would think incarceration would at least be more carbon neutral.

Seriously, the monthly cost at group home the crack dealers walked away from is $7,000 per youth, I believe you can get a suite at the St. Francis Hotel for the same price. In a city with so many problems to solve you might think flying crack dealers around the western hemisphere would be a low priority, but you would be wrong. In the eyes of liberals, the drug dealers are the good guys who need protection at all costs, and the US Citizenship and Immigration Service are the bad guys, plain and simple.

What will it take to make Americans wake up and stop the nonsense of these 'sanctuary city'? When one of the young crack dealers walks away from a group home and murders someone, will the citizens of San Francisco take responsibility? Don't bet on it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

High Dessert get away

Why would you drive 5 hours to see a bunch of sagebrush and have a BBQ with friends who live just up the road? I am not entirely sure is the quick answer, but it must have something to do with the high dessert.

I love the Sierra Nevada forests and I enjoy the roar of the surf and the sting of the salt air at the ocean, but I enjoy the the high dessert above them all. We met up the Capay Valley crew at our friend Stig's place in Alturas Friday night. We played horseshoes (poorly I might add) and had a great tri-tip BBQ. Saturday my wife and I drove up US395 towards Oregon and took the gravel road over Fandango Pass down to the Surprise Valley.

Cattle land to be sure.


A high dessert meadow on the Fandango Pass road.



The view at the Mocod County Fairgrounds.



Inside the arena.



The contestants for Miss Modoc County 2008, wonderful young ladies all.



The real reason I wanted to go was the 'Ranch hand Bronc Riding'. The event was called the SuperBull. The ranch hand bronc riding was just thrown in, but for me the local cowboys riding rank horses was the main event. The ranch hand event is similar to PRCA saddle bronc riding except the ranch hands can reach down with their second hand and grab their coiled rope, after the first jump out of the chute to stay on board. Great rides and great wrecks.

This poor guy's horse flopped over on him in the middle of his ride. Its one of the worst feeling in the world to have a horse laying on your leg and praying when he jumps to his feet your boot isn't caught in that stirrup.



This is great style, looking at the sky and hoping he doesn't go all the way over.


I told you there were bulls.


video
Here is a great bull ride I took from my little digital camera.


video

And here is one of the finalists from the Ranch Hand Bronc Riding.


I had a great time, my wife thinks I am crazy for dragging her all the way to the Oregon Border to watch a rodeo, but she puts up with me. I drove back home last night arriving in Esparto about 2:30 am. I will concede that is a little crazy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Twenty years ago

The glory of yesteryear that was 1988. I remember that one well. I bought a new pickup in 88', a Chevy 3/4 ton 4x4 with air, tilt wheel, cruise control and most of the upgrades. It cost me $14,500.When I went to the gas station to fill it up, unleaded regular was 91 cents a gallon. The Dow was at 2,168 and the average home cost $91,600. Not to put too fine a point on it, but those were the days. But looking back, I realize the average income was $24,450 and inflation was over 4%.

In 1998 one thing that stands out for me above all others, it was that day in June when I married my wife.

Wednesday night we celebrated out twentieth wedding anniversary at Morrison's upstairs.

Walt and the staff at Morrisons were great, I had reserved the private little room shaped like an ICBM in the corner of the restaurant and we had a wonderful dinner.

Twenty years ago we were different people really. My wife and I were 21 and 22 respectively when we were married. Both of us were so young, I thought I was ready for the world, ready for the responsibilities of married life. Boy did I have an education coming. Twenty years, two great children, four moves, financial success, financial disaster, new life, the passing of loved ones, good times, bad times, we have experienced them all.

In those twenty years, my wife has been the one constant. She is my rock. When things were bad, and believe me when I say things were bad, she put her head down and kept us moving forward. She is steady and strong.

I could say she is stubborn and mule-headed, and when we argue those terms come to mind, but after I step back and look at the situation, her stubborn streak is probably why she stayed with me when I had no right to think she would. For that and so much more, I love her dearly.

My wife loves animals, from driving a team of Percherons, to raising an orphan bobcat. I know I'm in trouble when she comes in the door smiling and says "hi honey". I consider myself lucky that she will not be showing me a pair of $300 Italian shoes, but I know that she has brought home and new orphaned critter.

Here is a photo of my bride, circa 1988 with a new batch of cowdog puppies.


Here is a photo this winter of Holly the Christmas goat.


We don't live in a gated community, we will not be cruising to Crete for our anniversary, we both work full time and we could always use a little more breathing room financially,but I wouldn't trade the last twenty years for anything.

To say I am a lucky man would be an understatement. I am truly blessed.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Because 'the people' means the people

Of all the Constitutional issues American liberals have fought over, the Second Amendment is one I shake my head over most. The left celebrates Supreme Court decisions that seemingly invent rights out of thin air, the Roe decision for example, whereas the Second Amendment baffles them in it's simplicity.

Never let original intent or original content for that matter, get in the way of 'doing something' to make everyone 'feel safe'.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States;


A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Now, liberal democrats will try to tell you the prefatory clause of the amendment, 'A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State,' means the enacting clause, 'the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed' ties the right to own a gun to service in a government militia. That is a load of manure.

In today's ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority and put an end to this line of liberal thinking. Read the whole decision, I dare you, I couldn't get past the part in the dissent where Justice Breyer talks about the phrase "bear Arms' could only be interpreted in a military manner or some such nonsense. But here is Scalia;

Relationship between Prefatory Clause and
Operative Clause

We reach the question, then: Does the preface fit with
an operative clause that creates an individual right to
keep and bear arms? It fits perfectly, once one knows the
history that the founding generation knew and that we
have described above. That history showed that the way
tyrants had eliminated a militia consisting of all the ablebodied
men was not by banning the militia but simply by
taking away the people’s arms, enabling a select militia or
standing army to suppress political opponents. This is
what had occurred in England that prompted codification
of the right to have arms in the English Bill of Rights.
The debate with respect to the right to keep and bear
arms, as with other guarantees in the Bill of Rights, was
not over whether it was desirable (all agreed that it was)
but over whether it needed to be codified in the Constitution.
During the 1788 ratification debates, the fear that
the federal government would disarm the people in order
to impose rule through a standing army or select militia
was pervasive in Antifederalist rhetoric.

He sums it up quite well.

"We hold that the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense,"

The Second Amendment, Scalia said, "surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home."
When I talk to anti gun folks, I love the way 'the people' in every other right found in the Constitution means just that, 'the People', but when it comes to those evil firearms, 'the People' suddenly turns into the 'National Guard'.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fire season

Growing up on a cattle ranch in Shasta County, fire season was something we took seriously. My father had a 300 gallon water tank with a 5 horse power gas engine that we pulled with a pickup. When May rolled around, the gas tank and water tank were kept full at all times. The volunteer fire house in the thriving metropolis of Oak Run California was about 7 miles away from our ranch. Most of the volunteers lives a few miles away, so by the time alarm went out, the fire fighters arrived at the station and then drove out to your house, you may be talking about a half hour response time. We put out a few fires on our place and the neighbors' long before we saw the flashing lights of a fire truck.

Most of the fires we put out were man made, mostly cigarettes thrown out the windows of cars. I am not an anti-smoking hard case, if you're an adult who want to ingest cancer causing smoke into your lungs, smoke away. However if you throw your flippin' lit cigarette butt out the window of your car, as Merle Haggard would say, you're walking on the fightin' side of me.

You know that little metal tray you keep your looses change in, put you damn cigarettes in there! Oh I know, my cigarettes are always crushed out when I toss them out the window. Yea, sure they are. One tiny ember in a 5 mile an hour breeze is all it takes to set fire to the dry grass along side the road. One stupid mistake, and people loose homes, livestock or in the worst cases, their lives. I don't think I am asking too much to keep your cigarettes inside your car. Besides, it littering.

If you see someone toss their cigarette out the window, write down their license plate, I don't know if there is anything you can do with the information, but it is against the law. A $100 to $1,000 fine for the first conviction may teach them to be more careful. Strike that, it may teach them to act less like a jackass.

Misspent youth update number 17

As a kid growing up in the country, when I did reach high school and found the other world that lay just beyond my rural existence, I was instantly hooked by a couple of comedians. Talented as they were, they were terrible influences on me.

The first time I heard Richard Pryor and George Carlin, I rolled on the ground trying hard to catch my breath from laughing so hard.



The only clean one I could find.



I was not raised in a strict household but I wouldn't have dreamed of dropping an 'F bomb' within ear's reach of my parents. Oh, but did I learn to curse from those two guys. I think during my senior year of high school, my majors were drinking beer, chasing girls, (unsuccessfully for the most part) and working on my masters in profanity. This is not a course of study I would recommend to anyone by the way, the temporary enjoyment of partying in place of studying closes many doors of opportunity that are hard to pry open later in life.

I see that few things have changed since my high school days, the language kids use today is worse, its more personally insulting. While the 'F word' was my favorite adjective to describe pretty much anything, both good and bad, I would never say it towards a person who was not my friend. If I called someone I didn't know a "MF'er" I was ready to throw down at that point. Now, it seems like calling someone that is on the same level as calling them a jerk or dork.


Both men are now gone. I still think they are funny, but I cringe at the language they use. The same language that drew me in as a freshman in high school, makes me change the channel. I just don't need to hear it, and the odd thing is, they didn't need to curse to be funny. Both men were gifted as comedians, but they never would have achieved the commercial succsses they had without the forbidden fruit of cursing.

Ted Nugent, subtle as a cement truck in a funeral precession

That's why I love the motor city madman.
Country singer Toby Keith held a press conference at BMI Thursday afternoon to talk about his new movie, Beer for My Horses. Due to hit theaters Aug. 8[.] …


Keith and [director Michael] Salomon did all the casting, assembling a terrific group of actors that includes … gonzo rocker and hunting buff Ted Nugent.


At one point, Keith added, a cottontail rabbit crossed the movie set. Nugent, who still had his crossbow in hand from the scene they had just finished filming, shot the animal and gutted it, right in front of all the Hollywood types there on location.


I'm sure a few Hollywood types lost their lunch right there.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And did I mention he's black?"

There are very few things in this world that genuinely make me angry. Being called a racist is one them. Senator Barack Obama did just that in a speech in Jacksonville Florida last Friday.

"It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy," Obama told a fundraiser in Jacksonville, Florida. "We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid.

"They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

And did I mention he's black?

Funny name, youth and inexperience aside, I am not basing my judgment of Senator Obama on the color of his skin, my only concern is the content of his character.

That character is getting a little more attention these days. The spotlight of a presidential campaign makes it easier to spot the flaws under all that polish. I will be pointing out some of the more glaring flaws on each of the candidates as the general election nears.

But since I am now officially a racist, I guess I'll start with Obama.

If the Jr. Senator from Illinois thinks the only way Republicans can find fault with him is pointing out the color of his skin, let me scrape away a few layers of Obama polish and show you just a glimpse of the real politician behind his new 'Shield of Hope and Change'.

This week Barack Obama decided break his pledge to accept the limits of public funding for his campaign. Something he spoke about for two years, but it seems now that high sounding rhetoric and inspiring speeches don't add up to cold hard cash. If you buy his explanation that Republicans are using 527s to get around public funding, you will have to explain how to me why Democratic 527 have outspent Republicans 2 to 1 this year. Its not about 527 groups, its about cash, Barack is winning the fund raising war right now and if he has to break his word to gain a political advantage, his high minded ideals take a back seat to politics.

A different kind of politician? Did I mention he's a liar?


This week Barack Obama decided to go back on the idea of holding a series of townhall meetings with Senator McCain without conditions, just real people asking real questions. If you take Obama out from behind his "Shield", away from a prepared speech and have him answer question on his feet, his inexperience and naivete when it comes to foreign policy and the economy is apparent for all to see.

A different type of politician? Did I mention his word means nothing?

Do you remember the senator's position on 'domestic spying'? Glenn Greenwald says is best.
What had been a vicious assault on our Constitution, and corrupt complicity to conceal Bush lawbreaking, magically and instantaneously transformed into a perfectly understandable position, even a shrewd and commendable decision, that we should not only accept, but be grateful for as undertaken by Obama for our Own Good.

This is only going to get worse as Obama moves to the right for the general election. I could go on for a while, but for someone who talks so much about being a new kind of candidate, why does Obama act like such a typical politician? Behind the image of hope and change, Barack Obama is a liberal Chicago politician who wants to be President so bad he is willing to do or say anything to get there. After all, he can't make any change if he looses, right? If elected he will turn back to his radical left roots and we will all get a taste of progressive socialism. I can hardly wait.

Is it too much to point out his actions don't live up to his rhetoric without being called a racist?
Apparently not.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Anwar, we can't do anything there, we'll kill all the caribou

Just a little perspective..


The environmentalists are weaving yet another story of destruction and doom if we develop a 2,000 acre area in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge to drill for US oil. The postage stamp on a football field image is pretty accurate although the greens seem to want you believe that there will be an oil rig on every hilltop and every valley. Lets say the enviro's are right and the production area doubles or triples in size. Oh the catastrophe! now we would be talking about a place the size of a playing card on the area of a football field! Oh no!


I remember doing a report on the Trans Alaska oil pipeline when I was in grade school. I remember our 'progressive' teacher explaining that the pipeline would disrupt the migration patterns of the caribou and would ultimately lead to their extinction. Its a good thing we took pictures of them so we could show our kids what caribou looked liked. Oh that's right, the 800 miles of pipeline, roads, pumping stations and other development in a place the size of Alaska didn't upset the caribou, did not lead the their extinction, and didn't have a meaningful impact on the surrounding environment.


The current fight over Anwar isn't about the environment, it isn't about the animals, its about America. If you think the United States of America is destroying the planet, you will oppose doing anything that will increase domestic oil production, period. Never mind that China is bringing 20 coal fired power plants online each month or that it has surpassed the US as the number one greenhouse gas emitter on the planet, lets keep America dependent on foreign oil from the most unstable ares of the world. Good idea.

I am all for solar and wind energy, really I am. Right now solar and wind energy account for less than 1% of energy production in the US. Less than 1%. Don't let the environmentalists fool you, they always use the term renewable energy, most of that comes from hydro-electric dams, when was the last the Sierra club was in favor of building a new dam? (sound of crickets)

Innovation is the future of energy, and when solar and wind become economically viable, they will play a larger part in domestic energy supply. Until then, we need more nuclear energy and we need oil, preferably from our own backyard. Or we can sit back as China and India continue to buy a greater share of the world's oil supply. How does $250 a barrel oil and $10.00 a gallon gas sound?

Doing nothing isn't an energy policy, its economic suicide.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sheepdogs

I just ran across this piece at Black Five, and it sure made me think.

On Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves
By Dave Grossman

One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.

Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there that will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."...

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, which is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."

Until the wolf shows up! Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.


Read the whole piece

Ah the wonders of a 22" wide screen monitor

I have never been the kind of person who has to have the newest or fastest new widget, but I believe I have squeezed every last bit of life out of my Compaq laptop. I purchased the Presario 2500 in 2003, right after the merger of Compaq and HP. Heck its probably one of the last products shipped out with the Compaq name on it. I have been through two hard drives, two operating system upgrades and it has been a workhorse for me. The Pentium 4 processor was smokin' hot at the time I purchased it, but as technology goes it has been woefully inadequate for two years or more. I have been trying to explain to my wife that a five year old computer is equivalent to a 30 year old horse, it still eats and poops, but other than those basic functions, its pretty useless.

Having been in the business for a few years, this might surprise you but I purchased my new HP desktop system from Costco. I probably could have beaten the price on a feature to feature system at dell or from a VAR, but I like being able to deal with Costco, not the nightmare of customer service through the manufacturer.

My new monitor is the HP w2207h.

I have one word to describe it.

Suh-weet.
22" wide screen, built in speakers, tilt it up for portrait or sideways for landscape. Very cool, I wanted to see how it looked playing a DVD so I popped in Master and Commander and I was impressed, the wide screen format fits the monitor just right. I turned off the light in my office and watched the whole movie.

I am still tinkering around but all is well right now, and I don't hate Vista yet.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I know its not Friday, but I couldn't resist......



Is there nothing George Lucas will not pimp out?
I guess not, you haven't lived until you see Darth Vader dance to Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Ok Matt, this is not me.

Another pre-emptive strike before Matt Rexroad posts this photo.

Photo from the Daily Democrat

Dude what's up with the cowboy theme? It was only a movie guys, and they were sheepherders!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The choices we make.

This week brings the terrible news that Yolo County Sheriff's Deputy Antonio Diaz was shot and killed in the line of duty Sunday night.

Two young men, both Sgt. Diaz and the suspect in his murder were 37 years old. For one, his life has ended, for the other his life will never be the same. From the news reports the suspect is a long time gang member who had served a 12 year prison sentence for a shooting right here in Yolo County. How did these two men come to their fateful meeting in Dunnigan on Sunday? How many choices, both good and bad were made by each to become the men they were?

I don't know either of them personally, but I do know about choices. I have made both kinds, good ones and bad ones. It would certainly be easy to say that the families of both men had a large role in shaping their lives. A broken home, an abusive situation, or a kind loving home can make a huge difference in how young people see their place in this world. However, I am willing to bet that both men growing up had choices to make.

I know a handful of police officers personally, I knew one as a young man when he was still in high school. Most of the officers I know have a pretty good wild streak in them, I think that is one reason they are drawn to this line of work. Its not a job for the timid or the tame, if you wear a badge, you are going to have to mix it up from time to time with some of the worst our world has to offer. My friend I grew up with was as wild as they come. We got into trouble, did many stupid things together and had a lot of fun along the way. I always seemed to be the conscience of our group of friends. I would be the one to say, you know we will probably go to jail if we do this, and with a little persuasion, we would find something else to do. As we went our separate ways, my friend went on to make some pretty bad decisions as a young adult, but thankfully he made better choices and turned his life around.

I would bet Sgt. Diaz had plenty of opportunities to make the wrong choices and become caught up in a destructive lifestyle. Why he didn't, only he could tell us. No matter how bad the childhood of Sgt. Daiz's murderer was, I would also wager that someone, a family member, a friend, or a even police officer took him aside and told him that he was heading for a very hard life if he didn't start making the right choices in his life. Why didn't this young man see the destruction awaiting him and make the hard choices to walk away from his gang and the gang lifestyle? We may never know, he may never know.

We all face choices and we make both good and bad ones, all of us do. The difference is being able to see how those choices effect our lives and the lives of those around us. When you are young, the choices you make can have impact on the rest of your life. One thing is certain, a young man made terrible choices and never learned from them. He continued to live out those destructive choices, and they cost the life of Antonio Diaz.

My prayers are with Officer Diaz' family in these difficult days.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I apologize in advance

For what you may ask? This Sunday I will be making my on-stage comeback. It has been almost twenty five years since I last sang in front of a crowd. Well there was that time back in Iowa when I sang karaoke at that college bar, but I was out of state and I knew I would never see those people again, and it was two-for-one well drink night. I know, I know, I used to be young and foolish. I have since given up the party life, so now I'm just foolish.

Countryside Community Church in downtown Esparto has asked us to play this Sunday while their music director is away. Becky is the person who usually leads our group, but she has a family commitment this Sunday, so this week I had the chance to pick the music and try to match it to the message of the service. Becky has a wonderful voice and good range, however Tim and I sing a few keys lower, so I picked a few songs that may fit our style better.

Our opening song will be Everlasting God, followed by one of my favorite worship songs, Mighty to save, we will close by playing Lord I lift your name on high.

I remember being the only singer in my band back in high school. Its no fun trying to sing alone. The chorus parts sound weak and I could never get any members of my band to help at all. So I told Tim I would sing with him this Sunday. One acoustic, one electric guitar and yours truly. We practiced last night and we don't sound half bad. We don't sound half good either, but we sing because we love the Lord and we want to praise him.

So if you find yourself in Esparto on Father's Day, after you have fixed your dad his favorite breakfast, you're going to fix him breakfast right? After that, head down to Countryside for church service at 10:00.

I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can you people just relax for second?

Seriously, since when did 23 people, in a nation of 300 million, being hospitalized over salmonella poisoning become a national crisis? Are you kidding me?

Of those same 300 million folks last year, 42,642 were killed in automobile accidents. 42,642 people who are not feeling under the weather, but who are now under the ground, dead.

You and I buckle up each day and drive without thinking about the danger we face because the odds are very small that we will be involved in an accident. These same people hurling themselves down the road at 65 miles per hour in a small box made of sheet metal, plastic and glass won't order a burger with tomatoes because 23 people halfway across the country went to the hospital?

California tomatoes are safe, if you like tomatoes, eat all you want.
I bet they will be on sale.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Don't let the truth stand in the way of your witch hunt.

You have to love the House Democrats, they want to bring down Vice President Dick Cheney so badly, they won't take yes for an answer. They want to get to the bottom of who leaked the identity of the supposed 'undercover' CIA employee Valerie Plame. Now that Scott 'I have a book to sell' McClellan is in good standing with the left, Nancy Pelosi and the gang on the Hill want to know what he knows.

To all those who want to impeach Cheney and think he is the Devil incarnate, I will spell this out for you, if you want to know who first leaked Valarie Plame's name to Robert Novak. It was R-I-C-H-A-R-D A-R-M-I-T-A-G-E.

Its a fact, you can look it up. Yes, it was former Clinton pal and under Secretary of State, Richard Armitage who told the world about Joe Wilson's wife.

He watched as Scooter Libby was thrown under the bus by the press who smelled blood and hoped Libby would turn on his boss Cheney, all the while knowing he was the one who identified Plame as a working for the CIA.

Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy.
Why don't they call Armitage up to the stand and ask him how he can sleep at night?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Big Bad Brown

Big Brown


I almost bought into the hype, almost. I have spent Belmont Saturday with the recorder on before, waiting to catch a piece of history. But like many other super star horses who have come to Nassau County looking to win the Triple Crown, Big Brown will have to make do with two very special victories. The Kentucky Derby and the Preakeness Stakes are wonderful races and Big Brown won both in style. However, the Belmont Stakes is another animal all together, at a mile and a half, it is where Triple Crown dreams go to be shattered.

So Affirmed will be the last Triple Crown winner we have, for another year. Until a horse wins the Derby and the Preakness, and then the talk about the next Triple Crown winner will take everyone back to Long Island, and the dream crushing Belmont.

I think Big Brown will bounce back, it just hard to win three races in a row, especially against the caliber of horses in the those three races.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Celtics - Lakers 2008 NBA Finals; missing something


Game one was great, Paul Pierce being helped to the locker room in a wheelchair with a sprained knee only to make a Wills Reed like return in the 3rd quarter, Garnet's two handed putback over Paul Gasol to put Beantown up by 8 with less than two minutes to go, it was very exiting basketball. But this is supposed to be Celtics-Lakers, this is one of, if not the best sports rivalries of the past half century, something seems to be missing.

It must be the hate.

I remember being a big Lakers fan back in the 80's, that was before the Kings came to town so don't give me any grief about it. I thought Magic Johnson was the best player I had ever seen. With Kareem in the middle and Worthy and Cooper on the wings, the Showtime era of the Lakers was absolutely amazing to watch.

Then there were the Celtics. I flippin' hated the Celtics. I hated Danny Ainge, I hated Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale with his arms hanging down to his knees, and I hated Larry Bird too.

The two teams did not like each other and it showed. The Celtics were everything the Lakers were not, while Magic would run the floor and make no-look passes for dunks or kick out to the corner to Cooper to drain a three, the Celtics would grind you down with their half court offense and grab, hold and mug on the other end of the floor. Hard fouls and a few stitches per game were about average. Two different styles, two different towns and two different stars.

Larry Bird looked like a very tall mail man or auto mechanic, pasty white skin and very limited sense of fashion. Magic on the other hand was born to live in L.A. You could see his smile from across the room, he was a rock star in high tops.

My hatred of the Celtics began to fade after the Bird era, and with the Kings rolling into town in 85' I started to root for the hometown team. With my new team in the West, I started to dislike the Lakers.

When Shaq and Kobe came to L.A, and the Vlade, Webber, J-Wil, and Peja Kings becoming real contenders, Oh my goodness I wanted the cocky Lakers to loose almost as much as I wanted the Kings to win. Don't talk to me about Game 7 in 02', I was there at Arco Arena, and I am still not over it.

Oh grow up you say, just get over it. Not a chance.

I was rooting for the Celtics tonight, that is how 'not over it' I am.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A commencement speech no one will give.

I have sat through a few high school commencement speeches in my life and to tell you honestly, most of them are pretty boilerplate stuff. Follow your dreams, you are the future, make the world a better place than you found it, the same themes are delivered from podiums across our great land to a sea of bright faces, straining against the leashes of confinement, waiting to burst forth and set the world ablaze.

Not that following your dreams is a bad thing, or trying to make the world a better place is an unworthy goal mind you, I just wish there were two commencement speeches, one for the top ten percent who will most likely achieve some sort of financial or professional success, but what about the other kids, what about the kid with a 2.3 gpa and no plans for going on to college? What about their commencement speech?

No one asked for it, but here it is.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2008, or at least the lower 90% of you, today is a great day. On every job application you ever turn in, you will be able to check the box that says I have a high school diploma. This may not seem like a big deal now, but it is. There are a few more ideas I would like to have you think about as you go out into the world, here are just a few.

Your job will define you only if you let it. If you grow up to be a plumber, be the best plumber you can be. When someone calls at you 3 A.M. with their basement flooding, you will be the most important person they meet that month, a fact you will remind them of when you hand them a $400 bill for a two hour emergency service call.

If you bounce around from job to job for few years trying to find something you like, don't get too stressed out, I worked all kinds of jobs before I stumbled into the communications field. However, don't make bouncing around your permanent occupation. There are enough lazy kids in their parent's guest room 'finding themselves', the world doesn't need another one. Keep working, even if its something you don't like, think of it as practice until you find you dream job.

No one cares what kind of car you drive or the kind of shoes you wear, really, they don't. If you spend half your paycheck on a car payment and the latest fashions trying to impress your peers or the opposite sex, you will have friends who like you because of your car and date people who like you because you look cooler than you really are.

When you finally settle down and get married, you will look back at your twenties and stand in amazement at the amount of time and money you spent chasing the opposite sex. This may help. Try to think of your future girlfriend or boyfriend as a car. What kind of car do you want? Do you want that fast sports car with the shiny rims and a high performance engine? If you do, you had better have the time and the money to keep that thing running. High performance equals high maintenance. If you choose say, someone with the attributes of a mid-sized sport compact or a small pick up, you may be much better off in the long run. Low maintenance, steady, reliable and if you keep them waxed and clean, you can still take them up town on Saturday night.

Having cool stuff is very similar to the car and shoe example I spoke of earlier. Only this time, you will buy stuff to make yourself feel good. This feeling of 'yea, my big screen, HD set rocks' will last for a few weeks or until your friend buys one a little bigger. Chasing after stuff, more stuff and better stuff is another cycle to avoid. Remember, happiness isn't having what you want, its wanting what you have.

Be a good friend to your friends and be a nice stranger to those you encounter in you life. Keep confidential things confidential, and forgive your friends when they screw up because you will certainly be asking for someone's forgiveness someday. A word about friends, choose them carefully. The friends you make and choices you make concerning drugs and alcohol can turn a bright young person into a cynical, angry person. I have seen it happen, and so have you.

If you are a person of faith, don't give up on it as you enter this new world. Your faith will be questioned, tried and tested, you may even walk away from it for a time, I know I did. When life gets tough, and believe me it will, having a personal relationship with God can give you the strength to make it through. You will never know how much God means to you until He is all you have left.

If you find yourself in twenty years with a mortgage, a spouse, a couple of kids and maybe a chubby golden retriever in the back yard, relax, you did just fine. You may look at others who seem to have it all and wonder why your life turned out so ordinary, but if you love your spouse and your children and if you make an effort to be just a little bit better person everyday, you will do fine with the rest of your life. If you find yourself on your third marriage, with two bankruptcies and an outstanding bench warrant, you may want to start rethinking your decision making process.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

You have to love the Italians

I believe if I could choose one nationality to have in my family tree, it would be Italian. No, not because I'm built like Tony Soprano, because most of the Italians I have ever met have been fun, life loving people, plus I already talk with my hands.

In my younger, slimmer days I used to ride street bikes and my friend and I would ride down to the Superbike races at Laguna Seca or Sears Point raceway, now called Infineon raceway. In those days the Superbike class was being revolutionized by the Ducati bikes and most of the best Ducatis were owned by a very cool Italian guy named Eraldo Ferracci. If you worked in Superbike, Fast by Ferracci was the team to be on. In a world of corporate sponsors who had tents filled with beer and hamburgers, if you were lucky enough to get an invite, the spread at FBF was like a trip down to North Beach in the City. The smell of pasta, good wine and the sounds of laughing Italians was a sure sign you were closing in on the Farracci camp. I always wished I had pass to that tent.

Today in Moto GP its great to see that the Italians are still providing the fun. This is Valentino Rossi. Valentino won the Italian GP in Mugello this weekend and the face on the left is the top of his helmet, Rossi is on the right. When he tucks his head behind the windscreen going down the straightaways, the his screaming face is all you see on the bike.

When I saw it today as I flipped by, I had to hit the rewind button on my DVR to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.

That is funny.

Any Italian family out there want to adopt a middle aged cowboy? I am almost house trained and I like an occasional glass of vino. Let me know before Columbus Day, I have always wanted to march in the parade.

An unapologetic, semi-denial of a convenient distancing.

As you have obviously heard by now, Barack Obama has officially left his church of more than 20 years. In his statement you can see for yourself that the junior Senator from Illinois isn't very happy about being forced from his church.

"This is not a decision I come to lightly ... and it is one I make with some sadness," Obama said at a news conference after campaign officials released a letter of resignation he sent to the church on Friday.

"I'm not denouncing the church and I'm not interested in people who want me to denounce the church," he said, adding that the new pastor at Trinity and "the church have been suffering from the attention my campaign has focused on them."

What? Who is forcing him from his church? What about his first amendment rights? What a travesty!

If I had to lay money on who is making the most noise foro the Senator to sprint away from his church with the speed of a gazelle with a cheetah on his tale, look no further than his own campaign handlers. With Obama's poll numbers in decline with white, working class voters, the one group he cannot win the election this fall without, he has to hope when more video of the craziness going on inside his church surface, and believe me, there will be plenty more to come, by distancing himself from the church now he will try to use the ' that is why I left Trinity' defense. Will it work? Maybe.

I am sure the faithful Obama supports wouldn't be swayed if someone found a video of Senator Obama in the first pew cheering loudly while the Reverend Wright was spouting some crazy conspiracy theory about AIDS or some other such nonsense. I keep coming back to looking at a candidate's actions and not their words. If you waited to quit because the spotlight of a Presidential campaign became too bright on the troubling doctrines being preached from your church's pulpit, then it would stand to reason, you would not have left Trinity Church if the press never reported what went on inside. That is not standing up for unity and bring people together, that my friend is standing up with those who revel in the victimhood mentality running rampant inside your church. That is a message that will not be embraced by the vast majority of Americans.

For those of you who think I am nothing short of a blind, Republican party hack who thinks the GOP is just wonderful, I use the same test on them. When Republicans run on small government and conservative values, then get to Washington and spend money like drunken sailors and don't kick people like Larry Craig out of the party, I stop sending money to them. If they want my support, and my money, they will start acting like the Republicans of 1994, not 2004. It cuts both ways, be who you are and don't change with culture that surrounds you. If you are going to govern one way, don't campaign the other way.

Barack Obama's decision to leave Trinity Church is as politically calculated as his joining the church some twenty years ago. When you strip away the veneer from Senator Obama, his warm smile and smooth speaking persona, you are left with a Chicago politician who thinks very, very highly of himself, and not too highly of those he wants to govern.