Thursday, October 2, 2014

Attention To Detail

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

Some suggestions to bring order to the chaos:

So you’ve decided to do what the networks begged you to do all through late August and most of September and try out some of those “great” new shows. Perhaps you’ve discovered that their definition of “great” is not the same as yours. So before you are stuck with a knock off of The Big Bang Theory or a knock off of Scandal or a knock off of The Good Wife, know that any new show needs a maximum of three episodes to evaluate. The first episode, which is the pilot that the network executives saw and decided to buy has to do a lot of work. It has to establish all the characters, explain how they will interact and give you an idea of what to expect in the future. There’s not a lot of time for an actual story line with plot development. Even if you’re disappointed, to be fair you should watch the second episode. This will give you your first true opportunity to see the type of story that will be told each week, whether the characters help move that story along and most importantly whether it’s worth your time to invest thirty or sixty minutes each week in exchange for what you hope will be entertainment. If after watching the second episode you still can’t decide what to do then you should watch episode three which will be similar in nature to the previous episode. By now you either have enough information to decide whether you want to hang around or you have no life and spend way too much time in front of the TV. By the way, those network executives do exactly the same thing. The first of the new show cancellations should be announced any day now.  

It’s election season. You should not be watching any television show as it is broadcast. You should DVR everything including the news — especially the news. This will allow you to skip all the commercials, most of which are political ads. None of them for either side is true and the percentage of commercials that are political ads will only increase between now and November 4. Remember that this gives you the added benefit of being able to watch Hawaii Five-O in just forty minutes, which is plenty.

It’s time to get rid of all that junk e-mail in your life and no I am not talking about the stuff from your former spouse or gal/guy pal. If you have to delete thirty junk e-mails each day that’s almost a thousand e-mails a month. Just because you ordered a couple pillows from Pier 1 Imports last Christmas doesn’t mean you have to endure an email from them every other day of the year. Believe me, when you want to buy something from them they’ll be there whether you’re on their e-mail list or not. Look for the “Unsubscribe” in the infinitesimally small type at the bottom of all those e-mails from the merchants at the mall and give ‘em a click. You’ll feel ten pounds lighter.

Do yourself a favor. Put your camera, real or phone, on a table by the front door and when you have a chance, get out and take some pictures of autumn. Nothing to it. With a camera almost anyone can be an artist. Try just standing in the middle of a thicket of trees on the edge of a nearby park and then point your camera right into the middle of them and push the button. You’ll be surprised at how frame worthy it will be.

Enjoy the season.   

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hero Of The Week

Army Sgt. Marshall A. Westbrook
Age:  43
126th Military Police Company
New Mexico National Guard
Died 1 October, 2005
Baghdad, Iraq

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Time Has Come

The Washington Redskins have been under considerable pressure for several years now to change their nickname.  Their owner, Dan Snyder, has said on numerous occasions that he will not bow to the pressure and that he will never change the nickname.  He invariably makes the argument that the name is meant to honor the Native Americans and that the logo depicts a proud warrior.

I've heard all of this before and I am in a unique position to speak on the matter.  My alma mater, Miami University, was for decades known as the Redskins.  Some of the logos from the 40's and 50's and even extending to my time on campus are truly cringe worthy when viewed through today's prism.  Rumblings started in the late 80's to change the name; the university resisted and even received a proclamation from the Miami Tribe in Oklahoma that stated they were honored by the nickname and by their association with the university.

By the late 90's the pressure was building and the handwriting was on the wall.  The university finally announced that they could no longer support the use of what was becoming viewed as a derogatory term.  The outcry from the older alums, including yours truly, was deafening.  We thought the school was bowing to outside pressure and scraping our beloved traditions and heritage.  Eventually the nickname was changed to RedHawks.  Many older alums still wear Redskin gear to athletic events and can still be heard to yell "Go 'Skins". 

To me they just sound and look stupid.  We're not going to change back, nor should we.  There is no defense, in the course of our cultural evolution, to call any person or business or entity, Redskins.  It does not honor the supposed honorees.  We wouldn't stand for the Carolina Sambos or the New York Jews and the Washington Redskins just doesn't cut it anymore.  Change it now, get it over with.  It won't be long before Washington Redskins will be an historical footnote.


A proud Miami RedHawk

Monday, September 29, 2014


Vinny Minchillo, a former Mitt Romney strategist (sort of tells you all you need to know), is tired of how Republicans are often portrayed on social media as evil, hateful, bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic, gun loving morons.  So he decided to do something about it.  He started a Twitter campaign, #IAmARepublican, to show that Republicans are really just everyday people.  Black people, white people, blue collar, white collar; in other words, not at all like they are often portrayed.

So this showed up under #IAmARepublican:
Didn't take long to find that the picture, purporting to show a black, Republican woman was actually lifted from the webpage of the Togio Foundation.
Ok, how about a blue collar Republican welder?:
Uh, sorry.  Exposed as a stock photo:
How about a kindly looking white woman?   She sure looks Republican:
Just one problem.  Her image was lifted from the Inclusion Institute:
Of course it didn't take long for the trolls to find out the whole #IAmARepublican Twitter campaign was a fraud.  If you're on Twitter, search #IAmARepublican.  It's a hoot.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Don't Try This At Home

Kai Xu is a Canadian citizen living in Windsor, Ontario, right across the bridge from Detroit.  Heretofore I thought Windsor was only a place for Americans to gamble and see titty shows.  But Mr. Xu and a partner have established Windsor as something else, a key stop on the Underground Railroad of the illegal reptile trade.  Actually, in this case, turtles.  First Xu's partner, a Mr. Lin, was caught trying to check a suitcase with 200 turtles onto a flight to Shanghai.  Then Mr. Xu topped that by picking up a package mailed to him at a U.S. Post Office in Detroit, stuffing the 51 turtles in the package into his sweat pants and then trying to drive back into Canada.

Turns out these turtles are valued as pets and food, some commanding prices up to $800 each.  Ok, we could all use some extra cash, but are you willing to drive around with 51 turtles in your pants?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Turn Out The Lights

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

There’s always something sad about the end of the baseball season. Well, there is if your affections are tied to the team on the north side of Chicago. The end comes every year at the end of September, although there are those who would say that this year the season ended before it even began.

The last home game was played last night and there I was in a great seat behind home plate. Good seating at reasonable prices was plentiful this year as season ticket holders unloaded everything they could, looking upon their losses as an investment in the (hopefully) very near future. The Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals, one of those teams that will most likely still be playing baseball two weeks from now, by a score of 3-1, so there was that. What made it more worthwhile was all the Cardinals fans in the house that had to go home having lost two out of three to the worst team in the division. Satisfaction! And the Cubs, who will be done for 2014 this coming Sunday, will be able to point to a record of winning nine out of every twenty games they played. Persistence! Wait until next year.

No, really. Wait until next year. The building process that has made this team suck perform even worse than usual since the beginning of this decade is supposed to bear fruit in 2015 in the form of several new young players who have been nurtured through the farm system and will be ready to go. Besides that, the building process extends to the beloved and ancient Wrigley Field. Having spent this season celebrating the stadium’s hundredth anniversary, it’s time to kick the purists to the curb, bring in the bulldozers and drag the place kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century. While the game ended just last night around the time the late news started, by dawn today the jackhammers were to be out in full force on the streets behind left and right field (Waveland and Sheffield for those of you who have visited the neighborhood) ready to make Chicago style magic happen whether the neighbors themselves have any misgivings about the changes or not. Hey! You move next door to a major league baseball stadium what do you expect?

By the time the place opens for business again on April 6, 2015, year one of the renovation process will be completed. The outside walls of the bleachers will be torn down and rebuilt. Just to the right of the good old early twentieth century scoreboard there will be another advertising display and just to the left of the lovely Toyota sign will be one humongous video board…at last. I would wear a tee shirt that says, “I love Wrigley’s new video board” but it would probably get me shot or at least beaten up and left in an alley. Finally, pictures, stats, video replays, action from around the league, and I suppose a healthy dose of advertising, all the better to pay for those new young players that will be signing long term contracts to finally bring some semblance of respectability back to the team on the north side of Chicago.

I remain the eternal optimist and I can’t wait.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hero Of The Week

Army Staff Sgt. Daniel R. Scheile
Age:  37
1st Battalion
184th Infantry Regiment
3rd Infantry Division
California National Guard
Died 24 September, 2005
Baghdad, Iraq

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Do Your Job

Increased security AFTER the fact.
The Secret Service isn't looking so good today.  On Friday a man armed with a knife was able to jump the fence of the White House and run the length of the lawn before entering the front door, finally being apprehended only after getting inside the building.  It turns out he was arrested in Virginia in July with a car full of weapons and a map of D.C. with the White House circled.  The Virginia State Police say the notified the Secret Service about him, but his only crime was a minor firearm violation for having a sawed off shotgun, so he wasn't held.  He also had previously been stopped by the Secret Service after they noticed him on the sidewalk in front of the White House with a hatchet in his waistband.  Again, he had not broken any laws and was released.

If you jump the White House fence should you be able to make it all the way to the front door without being stopped?  Would it be a good idea to post officers closer to the fence?  What were the guys on the roof we often see in pictures doing at the time? 

We don't want the People's House to become a fortress, but come on guys, you've got to do better than this.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Never Again

Actual picture from '77 as firefighters rescue stranded passengers.
I know The Big Guy covered the whole scared of heights thing last week, but his post made me think of my two most traumatic encounters with height.  The first episode was sudden and unexpected; until then I didn't know I was afraid of heights.  The second, given my own self knowledge, was just plain stupid.

I was about 11 years old when my father set out one Sunday to clean the gutters on our house.  I wanted to help and he agreed.  I bounded up the ladder and we both circled the whole roof, plucking leaves and assorted debris from the gutters.  I didn't feel any fear the whole time I was up there.  When it came time to descend, I couldn't take the step necessary to turn my body 180 degrees and put my lead foot on the ladder.  I started a couple times, but got scared and backed away.  My father, already on the ground, tried to talk me through it, but I reached a point where I couldn't move, frozen in my fear of stepping off of that edge.  Eventually, Dad came back up and held my arm to steady me as I finally maneuvered myself onto the ladder and safety.  From that day on I have been afraid of heights. 

My second traumatic experience with heights was my own fault and came about because I didn't want to look like a wimp.  I was dating a woman who had two girls, ages 8 and 11.  We took them to Kings Island, a place I would never go because nearly every ride involves your feet leaving the ground.  I figured we would just put them on the rides and spectate, which is exactly what we did until just before leaving.  At the time there was a gondola ride that spanned most of the center concourse of the park.  I don't know how high it was but I would guess about 60'.  The girls wanted to go, but had to be accompanied by an adult.  I agreed, thinking it was only going to take 5 minutes and I could tough it out.

The three of us were in a small, round metal bucket with a metal shelf around the inside circumference to sit on.  As soon as we moved out over empty space I knew I had made a terrible decision.  The tightness began in my arms and shoulders and I was soon in a full panic.  I felt so scared that I even considered jumping out, and probably dying, just to end the horrible panic I was feeling.  Every time the bucket hit a stanchion it would swing and sway, which only added to my fear.  I finally decided to just stare at the horizon and keep my eyes focused on that distant spot until we were safely at the other end.

If anything around here needs to be done on a ladder, I call Mrs. Grumpy.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Go Ahead, It Won't Hurt

As Apple geeks around the country line up tonight in anticipation of tomorrow's release of the iPone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple quietly made their new operating system, iOS8, available for installation.  I have an iPhone 4sS and I wasn't notified by Apple, nor did I see anything on my phone to alert me.  It was probably there in the Software Update file, but I had no reason to check it.  I knew the new operating system was coming, but I hadn't paid much attention to the release date.

I was reading the Huffington Post last night when I came across an article talking about the new features in iOS8 and how to go about installing it.  I like new, shiny things, so I figured let's do this.  Last time there was an update I had lost a few things in the transition, so this time I did the update through iTunes on the desktop and that backed  up everything on the phone, as well as speeding up the process.  If you are going to do this update and have another Apple device, I strongly suggest plugging your phone into the other device and syncing them up.  Even doing that, when all was said and done, my entire Photo Stream had disappeared from my phone.  None of my other albums were missing, just the Photo Stream.

Today I'm browsing the Huff Post again and there is a prominent article warning iPhone 4S users to not install iOS8.  The author's main complaints were that it would slow down browser loading times and would suck the life out of your battery.  After a day of using the new system I see none of those problems.  I used the phone just as I would any other day and my battery strength seems about where it is any day at this time.  I suspect the author forgot to check all the unnecessary crap running in the background that needs to be shut off.  As The Big Guy famously advised me, "Google doesn't need to know where you are at 3:00 a.m."

So if you have an older iPhone and you want the new operating system, go ahead and install it.  Just back up everything and don't forget to turn off what you don't need running.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Full Circle

By The Big Guy
Senior Contributor

Let’s be clear about one thing from the outset. To put it mildly, I do not do well with heights. Just envisioning myself close to the edge of the roof of a tall building is enough to make me weak in the knees. Forget airplanes. The thought of air travel makes me lose sleep. I don’t remember when this first started but I do remember a rather horrific (most would have considered it uneventful) Ferris Wheel ride with my mom at an amusement park when I was six or seven years old, a ride I’m sure she regretted taking me on the entire rest of her life.

That’s why I cannot fathom in any way whatsoever the chosen occupation of one Mr. Nik Wallenda. You might not immediately recognize his name but you’ve most likely seen him at work, since thirteen million people watched Mr. Wallenda on the Discovery Channel walk fourteen hundred feet along a two-inch thick wire suspended high above the Grand Canyon in June of last year. No net, no safety harness, no common sense. Only a twenty million dollar life insurance policy for the wife and kids, just in case. And twenty-six million eyes waiting to see if he succeeds or the other thing, something they never would have seen anyway since the Discovery Channel insisted they would only present the event with a ten second video delay — not completely live.

The list of accomplishments at altitude that Wallenda has performed is nerve racking just to read. They include hanging by his teeth hundreds of feet in the air from a rope attached to a helicopter as well as another high wire excursion directly over Niagara Falls. He has performed all of those high wire stunts you’ve seen in the circus involving bicycles and human pyramids that have delighted millions and killed a number of the members of his famous Flying Wallendas family. That would include great-grandfather (and the man responsible for the decision to perform without a safety net) Karl Wallenda.

Here’s where things get coincidental. At age 73, Karl Wallenda ran a wire between the two towers of the Condado Beach Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and on March 22, 1978 began the walk one hundred-twenty feet in the air above Ashford Avenue. He never got to the other side, falling to his death due to improper wire support and high winds. Four days later the brand new Mr. & Mrs. Big Guy arrived in San Juan for our honeymoon at the Condado Beach Hotel. No examining the street but I did spend a good deal of time looking up at the roof and wondering what possessed people to do what they do.

Two days ago Nik Wallenda announced that his next high wire excursion will take place November 2nd in Chicago, Illinois, approximately six hundred feet over the Chicago River, without a safety net, and the southern anchor of the wire will be tethered to the roof of the building built and occupied by the advertising agency where the little lady and I met all those years ago. Creepy.

I will not watch. No one should watch. It only encourages him. Just let me know when it’s over and whether that twenty million dollar insurance policy gets cashed or not.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hero Of The Week

Army Staff Sgt. Regilio E. Nelom
Age:  45
249th Quartermasters Co.
1st Corps Support Command
Died 17 September, 2005
Asad, Iraq

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

If The Police Tell You To Do Something, Do It

"Actually, I have no idea who you are."
Did you see Django Unchained?  Me neither, so maybe that's why I don't know actress Daniele Watts.  But Ms. Watts thinks she's recognizable and also above the law.  She and her boyfriend were in a parked car outside CBS Studios in the San Fernando Valley area of California when a 911 caller claimed they were having sex in public view.

When the police arrived, Ms. Watts claimed she and her boyfriend were just kissing and immediately blamed the cops questioning of her on her race.  Google her name and you can hear audio of the incident from various sources.  The cop never mentions race, she does.  She also plays the fame card by using a variation of the always helpful "Do you know who I am?". 

The officer is polite throughout and tells her he is there because he is duty bound to investigate when there is a citizen complaint.  He asks for her ID and she goes off on him, then walks away.  While she is being retrieved by another cop her boyfriend has a reasonable conversation with the first cop and has no objection to providing his ID.  After the incident is over Ms. Watts takes to Facebook to blast the police and claim that they assumed she was a prostitute because she is black and her boyfriend is white.

Object lesson:  When the police ask for your ID, give it to them.  When the police ask you to take your hands out of your pockets, do it.  When the police ask you reasonable questions, answer them or ask for an attorney.  Your best option is to cooperate with the police in the moment and sort it all out later.  And don't play the "Do you know who I am?" card.  They don't care who you are; they just want to do their job and move on.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crisis Ahead At The Grumpy Estate

The liberal, pinko, commie, rat-bastard eco-terrorists are at it again.  Now they have their sights set squarely on the plastic grocery bag.  They claim the bags are filling landfills and polluting streams.  That they never degrade and will clog the environment for millions of years, giving off harmful vapors and gasses that will choke the atmosphere and hasten global warming, to say nothing of causing us all to die miserable deaths.

They don't even want a return to paper bags; that would involve the cutting of trees.  These assholes need to make the drive on Rt. 32 between Cincinnati and Athens, OH.; we've got plenty of trees doing nothing but holding up hillsides.  No, what they want is for all of us to carry canvas bags to the grocery to tote our stuff home.  We already do that at Aldi.  Now they want the major chains to emulate that example.

So why are my panties in a bunch over this?  I'll tell you why.  Plastic garbage bags are perfect for picking up dog poop.  At our house that usually works out to three bags a day.  We keep them after we bring our groceries home; sometimes I'll even take a few extra to bolster our supply.  I'm not buying and then taking some kind of Pooper Scooper out with me every time the hound has to go.  Nor am I carrying one with me on walks with her. 

You're thinking, what an asshole.  He doesn't give a hoot about our precious environment or the world we leave for our children and grandchildren.  You're right, I don't.  I'm only concerned with myself and my convenience.  Our children and grandchildren can figure it out for themselves.  They'll still have to deal with dog poop.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Living Large

I have discovered the perfect living arrangement for retirement.  It's the Tiny House.  Typically less than 1,000 sq. ft and usually between 120-500 sq. ft., the tiny house stresses design over size.  Every square foot of space must be utilized, leading to innovative design and space solutions.  Most are built with full kitchens, loft bedrooms and even full showers.

Most tiny homes are built on wheels and may be towed with a pick up, making them the ultimate movable home.  Building costs range from $20-$50K, making them affordable to a wide range of people.  Building permits are not required, though before you locate one in someone's backyard it's probably a good idea to check the local zoning codes.  The advantages to a tiny house are lower building costs, lower taxes, lower heating costs and lower maintenance costs.

Here's my plan:  From Nov. 1-May 1 we will plop our tiny home in my step-son's backyard in North Carolina.  Run an extension cord from their house and we're talking free power.  I'm sure we can tap into their satellite system for free TV and obviously a simple password lets us use their WiFi.  In May we will move our tiny house to The Big Guy's back yard in Chicagoland for the summer.  All the same amenities plus just a 20 minute drive to the lake shore.

We will greatly reduce our cost of living, reduce our carbon footprint, thus helping the environment, and we'll be living in beautiful neighborhoods with nice people right on our doorstep.  Win-Win for everybody.