Saturday, July 31, 2010

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds

Talk radio and FOX News have been full of attacks against the Mosque proposed for a location a couple of blocks from the World Trade Center.  A lot of the talk tried to link the promoters to jihadists though there seems to be no link that I’ve found.  As that talk has died down, the new argument is “yes they have the right, but it will offend the victims of 9/11.”

Palin on the mosque: "Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing"

Beck on the mosque: “I don't know, how that might be a little insensitive to open and dedicate a 13 story mosque on the lip of the hole that is still there, the scar that is Ground Zero? You don't think it's a little insensitive to dedicate that mosque on 9/11 at Ground Zero?”

Now, the NRA has announced that it will participate in the Glenn Beck and Sara Palin “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. 

Glenn Beck on the date “coincidence:”  “I believe in divine providence. It was not my intention to select 8-28 because of the Martin Luther King tie. It is the day he made that speech. I had no idea until I announced it and I walked off stage …. I believe this is a reason, because whites don't own the founding fathers. Whites don't own Abraham Lincoln. Blacks don't own Martin Luther King.”

Sarah hasn't weighed in yet though I'm sure she will.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Though I don't like it, I can't argue against it

“It” would be taxing Internet sales. As law stands, there is no sales tax on an Internet purchase you make, unless the seller has a physical presence in your state.

(Did you know you break state law each time you buy something online? You do. To my knowledge, all states have a use tax payable by the buyer up to the state’s sales tax rate, less any sales taxes paid to another state for a purchase.)

I’ve always looked at the shipping and handling as the Internet equivalent of the “cost” of sales tax; but, that is not a valid argument. The store down the road usually has higher retailing costs than the equivalent Internet retailer, even if you factor in S & H. Add the physical store’s need to add tax and you have, often, an uncompetitive situation.

And, why should one sale be tax-free and another be tax encumbered? I can’t think of a legitimate reason.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Immigration follow-up: now what do we do?

On the twenty-first, I did a post about the Arizona Immigration law focusing on what I saw as the practical civil rights issues it presented.  Since then, a U.S. District Court judge enjoined enforcement of several portions of the law.  Both sides are spinning the ruling, claiming a win.  Then this morning I read an article at that talked about the economic realities of illegal immigration here in Georgia.

First, what does the judge’s ruling mean?  Depending on how you look at it, nothing or a lot.  She issued a temporary restraining order against Arizona’s enforcement of several parts of the law, most significantly, the “papers please” part.  Now that doesn’t mean that when all is said and done, the plaintiffs will win on the issue; but, it is a pretty good indicator as to how she will rule down the road.

Like it or not, she thinks Federal immigration law trumps state immigration law because of the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.  When the feds decide how something within the enumerated federal powers is going to go, the states can’t do differently.  “States rights,” the “will of the people” and that kind of stuff don’t matter.  (My condolences to you Ninth and Tenth Amendment fans.)


“Although Judge Bolton’s ruling is not final, it seems likely to halt, at least temporarily, an expanding movement by states to combat illegal immigration by making it a state crime to be an immigrant without legal documents and by imposing new requirements on state and local police officers to enforce immigration law.“

So, we are back to the status quo while the lawyers fight.  What does that mean for your average black or brown person?  Not much.  If you get pulled over, the police can but don’t have to ask for ID.  Will the police use racial profiling when they see a black or brown person?  Some will.  But at least its use isn’t institutionalized.

Still upset about all the illegals?  Want to do something about it?  That’s easy.  Take away their incentive to come in the first place and stay when they get here.  Why do they come and stay?  Money from jobs.  Go after the jobs.  It is a violation of law for an illegal to work in the U.S.  It is a violation of law for a U.S. person or company to hire an illegal.  Enforce the law.

Indeed, that is just what the Obama Administration is doing at a faster clip than the Bush folks did.  Step up assessing penalties to the employers.  In the current enforcement environment the employer gets a slap on the wrist and hires another illegal to replace the one that ICE carts away.  Cart the employer away with the illegals for a while and you will see fewer illegals working in your neighborhood.  Don’t like to see corporate execs in handcuffs?  Impose fines that make hiring illegals an economically stupid practice.

Or, maybe you want to be economically rational? has an article today about the economic effect of illegals in Georgia.  You can read the article for yourself, it covers a lot of ground.  But here’s a shocker for you.  Get rid of all the illegals in the state and there’s a $21.3 billion loss in economic activity (just under 7% of the state’s economy) and a loss of 132,460 jobs.  Don’t trust studies by liberal think tanks?  Don’t worry, the figures come from Americans for Immigration Reform, a business-sponsored group.  Greedy capitalists!

But wait, you’re worried about foreign terrorists, thugs, gang bangers and their ilk, aren’t you.  So Dave, you say, we need racial profiling to track them down, admit it!

Well, if you accept the economic reality that immigration helps, not hurts our economy and you regulate it; you can put your time, effort and money into grabbing the bad guys.  If a foreigner is attracted to the U.S. for the money a gringo offered job brings, the foreigner is going to be happy to sign up, go to the border crossing showing ID and paperwork and proceed to where the money is.  And that’s a nice bottleneck to check to see that the people coming in are indeed upstanding, hard workers seeking their part of the American dream.

Sure, you’re left with the bad guys wading the Rio Grande at two in the morning (along with “you name it” bombers trying to get on planes.)  But guess what, you now have some actual grounds for a reasonable suspicion that the river waders are up to no good; and, you can use the resources you’ve saved by regulating foreign workers to catch them and the bombers.

Still don’t like damn foreigners?  There’s a Tea Party chapter near you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Politcal Privacy: Yin and Yang UPDATED

The GOP blocked a vote in the Senate today about disclosing the source of corporate contributions to politicians.

Conservatives have pushed lawsuits this year trying to bar public disclosure of the identity of people signing petitions to put initiatives on a ballot.

I don’t like telling people a lot about me unless I know them really well; and, even then…..

So, is the answer, if I want to play I have to pay?

Is requiring payment of a loss of privacy a legitimate ante for playing the game of politics?  Way back when it was because our forefathers lived in villages.  If Joe did something or said something, everyone knew it.  His neighbors took “Joe” into account when they decided what they thought about what he did or said.

Our Constitution, our laws and our social contract are predicated on the village model with a strong tinge of leave everyone alone if they aren’t hurting anyone.  But we don’t live in a world that for the most part that matches the model.  We don’t know our neighbors, much less Joe.  So, we struggle with deciding what to believe.

Every now and again, I give some money to a politician.  It always bugs me that I have to write down my name, address and occupation.  Then too, it really bugs me that corporations since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, even though identified, are allowed to spend money to elect politicians without disclosing the source of the money they spend.

I think I come down on you have to “ante up” your privacy to play politics.  Back in grade school I learned about the “W’s” – who, what, where, when and why.  Don’t trust what you hear until you know and understand all of the W’s.  And the first one is who.  Masking the “who’s” spending money to get ahead in politics limits voters’ information and cheapens the outcome.  The Wizard behind the curtain pulling the levers in Oz is an instructive picture.  Don’t we want to know who is behind the curtain?


I just read an article and Target's response about it's political contributions to a group that gave money to an anti-gay and anti-immigration candidate (who also has advocated castration for some minority people whose identity I've forgotten in my ire).  See, disclosure is good.  Though I spend a decent amount of money at Target, I bought a toothbrush, some ibuprophen and some shampoo yesterday, I can stop buying from a company that wants to oppose my political beliefs.

This is kind of fun, I haven't boycotted anyone in years and years.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Smart phone people - a request

So I tap the contacts icon on the screen of my smart phone.  I scroll to get to the person I want to call and tap again.  Then I have to tap the call rather than text or email box.  Then I get a screen that gives me the name and number (and if I'd taken a picture) a picture of the person I'm calling in scarlet while the phone is dialing.  It switches to green once the call starts.

Here's the thing, when you make a call to a business, and a lot of people, you have to go through phone hell.  Why doesn't the screen go to the number pad?  I know who I've just called, I got their voicemail or am in the aforementioned phone hell.  I need to press 1 or 3 or mash 0 a bunch.  But before I can do that, I have to push another icon in the lower right corner of the screen to get the pop-up number display, not something that is wise to do while driving and a pain to do while just sitting or standing.

Calling on the phone wizards here, why are you making me do this?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sometimes it's tough to be a snob

I'm a snob of sorts.

Take coffee.  I use filtered water, a French press and I grind beans that are kept frozen until used.  For the most part, I don’t order coffee in restaurants because it’s not all that good, though that is changing. 

Then there are hot dogs.  Atlanta is a hot dog desert; and, don’t talk to me about The Varsity.  You can’t get a decent New York or Detroit Coney here.  None of the LA dog places have set up shop here.  Even if you were to reduce your standards and want a Chicago or Cincinnati dog, they aren’t to be found.  Barker’s up in Cobb County is about it for quality around here.

Here I’ll get in trouble; but, you’d think that here in the heart of the South, in the city burned down by a Union General over a hundred and fifty years ago (where in some circles you are looked at disapprovingly if you mention his name), you could get a good glass of iced tea.  But you can’t.

Some nomenclature is in order.  “Tea” isn’t the stuff you put in the water to make the drink.  Tea is the drink.  If you ask for Tea in a restaurant, you get sweet tea:  a jaw wincing mixture of a bit of vegetation boiled with a ton of sugar then poured over ice.   (I really don’t know how Tea is made other that a bunch of sugar is dissolved in a bunch of water.  I’ve never actually seen tea put in.) Think iced sugar water with a hint of another flavor that you can’t quite identify and you’ve got a handle on Tea.

If you don’t want the sugary concoction you have to add an adjective – unsweet.  Even in an Oriental restaurant, you have to put green or hot in front to get what you want.

I don’t really know why everyone in Atlanta serves weak tea.  Maybe it’s a result of the realization that it doesn’t make sense to waste money on leaves when all you’re going to taste anyway is sugar, with a carry over to making unsweet tea.  Whatever the reason, strongly flavored tea is a rare thing. 

Best glass of tea in town?  A kosher deli – Bagel Palace in Toco Hills.  Maybe the cook is a culinary refugee, unexposed to the horror of Tea.  But, what do I know – after decades down here, I’m still a Yankee to most.

Careful, the Villain Changes Again!

It’s only Thursday and I can’t tell who’s the villain without a scorecard.

On Monday, Andrew Breitbart put an edited video starring Shirley Sherrod on his website charging that she and the NAACP were the real racists in comparison to people in the Tea Party.  The edited video cherry picked from a Sherrod speech this spring at an NAACP banquet.  Fox News picked it up and piled on – just look at those hypocritical black liberals.

Quickly, the Obama Administration, not known for its deft touch when it comes to defending itself from slime throwing, panicked and asked Sherrod to resign at about the same time the NAACP threw her under the bus.  The Administration was aghast at the specter of Glenn Beck doing a story about the speech that night.

Whoops, Beck did a story but it called for restraint until the emerging facts about the editing were learned.  His colleagues at Fox News continued to run with the NAACP as bigoted organization story line.

Come Tuesday, the wife of the white farmer Sherrod was supposed to have treated in a bigoted manner, told CNN that Sherrod had been a lifesaver some 20 years ago and saved the couple’s farm.

Fox spun the new disclosures saying that all along it was really just telling a story about Sherrod’s audience, some of whom were applauding her telling of her decades old poor treatment of the white farmer before she realized that she was wrong.  Sherrod was just an unfortunate casualty of the fight between the NAACP and the Tea Party (and the NAACP started it!).

For its part, the NAACP blamed Fox for “snookering” it.  Damn right wing media!

So, the Secretary of Agriculture, falls on his sword for the Administration. “I did it on my own, the President had nothing to do with it; I dumped this poor woman and made her life a living hell.  I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”  (Of course, Jesse Jackson has weighed in, telling reporters he demanded that the Administration apologize to Sherrod before it did so.)

Meanwhile, Bill Gibbs spins the problem, telling reporters that there is blame enough for all about acting too quickly, trying to turn the Administration’s fumbling into a “teaching moment.”

Which brings us to this morning.  The Secretary of Agriculture it turns out offered Sherrod a new job at USDA, dealing with civil rights problems at the agency.  Sherrod’s not too sure.  While she doesn’t want an apology from the President, before she decides on the offer, she wants a sit down with him for her own “teaching moment.”

"’I'd like to talk to him about the experiences of people like me, people at the grassroots level, people who live out here in rural America people, who live in the South. I know he does not have that kind of experience,’ Sherrod said.”

Poor Obama.  Now though he’s black, he needs some remedial education in being black in the South, from someone he’d never heard of until a day or so ago.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “As the News Cycle Turns.”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Forget the Constitution

Politicians of all stripes are in love with the idea of passing an “Arizona type” immigration law hereabouts.  It plays well in a state where a lot of folks only want to see folks of color installing drywall, picking crops and mowing lawns.

But, let’s assume that is the will of the people and there aren’t any constitutional problems with an “Arizona type” immigration law.  Let’s pass one.  Poof – here it is.

“For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official… where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person…. Any person who is arrested shall have the person’s immigration status determined before the person is released…. [The official] may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of [this law] except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.  A person is presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present … if the person provides … any of the following:  1.  A valid [Georgia] driver license.  2.  A valid [Georgia] … identification [card].  3.  A valid tribal identification card….  4.  [Another valid ID card if the issuing entity] requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance…” *

OK, now, you’re the cop and I’m driving my car.  I blow a red light and you pull me over.  I'm driving a beat up van with faded business lettering on the side.  I forgot to renew my driver’s license on my last birthday, so I have no valid ID to provide to you. Determine my immigration status under the language set out above and you have to do it before you release me.  Now, you can’t solely consider my race, color or national origin and indeed, they won’t do you any good because I’m a rapidly aging, balding, graying white guy.  Do your job.  Come on, do it.

Just how can you do it?  Am I illegal because I'm driving a beat up van?  Based on the facts, you can't conclude I'm illegal can you?

Of course, this isn’t going to happen because you aren’t going to suspect that I’m illegal in the first place.  I’m white and look like I belong.

Now let’s move to later in the day.  You gave me my ticket and are patrolling for more traffic scofflaws.  You see a banged up white van with faded business lettering on the side and it rolls through a stop sign.

Assume all of the facts I gave you about me, except the driver is my late friend Tony who was born in Cuba decades ago and was a naturalized citizen.  Change him just a touch so that his English isn’t flawless (as it was) – for our hypothetical he speaks only broken English (as a good number of quite legal Hispanic people around here do). 

Now remember, you can’t solely consider his swarthy skin, his language difficulties or even the fact that he tells you he was born in Cuba.  Read the text of our law again.  So what are you left with?  He’s a middle-aged guy who doesn’t have a valid license, driving a broken down van (he had such a van that he used in his business).  Is that probable cause to arrest him for being illegal?  (Note that our text doesn’t speak about needing probable cause – if you have a reasonable suspicion, you’ve to haul him to jail and hold him until he digs up his naturalization papers.)

Putting aside his racial characteristics, does driving a beat up van give you a reasonable suspicion that he’s illegal.  It didn't work with me, is there any difference?  Now take away the van, he’s driving a nice new car.  What’s your verdict now?

You see, there simply are no non-racial indicators of illegal status.  Tony and I are exactly the same to the cops, except for our accents and coloring.  I have little chance of detention; he would risk it on an ongoing basis under our new law.

A long time ago I listened to a Michigan State Trooper talk about pulling people over for DWB - driving while black.  He'd make up a pretext for the stop and then harass them.

I fear, no change that, I know that our nice new law is a ready made for similar racial profiling.

An "Arizona type" law would give cover to bad cops and be a nightmare for good cops.  Or, maybe not a nightmare for good cops as, as I said, there are no non-racial indicia of illegal status; so, a cop acting rationally wouldn't detain anyone.  If that is true, all such a law does is encourage bad cops to act badly.

That what anyone wants?

* The “law” above uses the exact language of the Arizona law.

(Here's a link to the Arizona training video for enforcing their law.  The best they come up with for non-racial illegal characteristics are foreign drivers license or registration, nervousness, fleeing, inability to give an address and "dress" whatever that means.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm willing to go along with the GOP; but, ...

since they say they want to extend unemployment benefits but won't do so because it increases the deficit by thirty or so billion bucks, what other spending are they saying they want to cut?  I can't find any proposals they have.

There's a news piece on the Internet where a reporter keeps pressing a GOP guy to specifically identify what programs the Republicans would cut so as to not raise taxes.  The Republican dissembled for awhile and then repeated his talking points.  Nothing specific.  The reporter went to another Republican with the same question - nothing in response.

I agree with the GOP in general; but, I can't cut other spending.  (There's tens of billions spent in Iraq and Afghanistan that I'd cut really quick if I could.)

So GOP, you don't want to raise taxes, I don't either.  You don't want to add to the deficit.  I'm with you.  What are we going to cut?  A nice list with bullet points would be nice.  Thanks.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm Guilty

Back when I was in law school and then a baby lawyer, by day I thought and talked, and by night, dreamt, law.  Everything my senses took in raised a point of law and a “discussion” of the relevant facts. That’s a fine way to live if you are a law student or hang with baby lawyers.  It’s not so fine if you are talking to real people.  They tend to resent cross-examination for sport.

So, for the most part, I gave up my inquisitorial ways.  The older I get the more I realize that silence is best unless talking is absolutely necessary.  And then if you have to talk, say as little as possible.  (I don’t tend to follow this rule here, this is my guilty pleasure place.)  And think about what little you say, before you say it.  And, most importantly, listen to what is being said (and meant even if that isn’t what is being said) before you think or talk.

I’m told that women have more conversations than do men.  They listen to each other and respond.  Maybe, probably.  I do know that guys talk to talk.  “I said, did, heard, blah, blah, blah.”  “Yeah, non-sequitur, non-sequitur.”  “You got that right, did you believe that call by the umpire….” 

Or “you’re full of it, Jordan is the….”  “Wait just a minute, you just said that Kobe….”

And in spite of all the words above, that finally brings us to the point of the post.

We spend way too much time personally and as a society either not listening to what is said or trying to pick at each other.  Where’s the flaw in the other guy’s argument?  Forget the overall argument, where’s the little thing we can zing him with to throw him off?  Can’t find it?  Just start talking about something else or can I throw in something to move the argument in a different direction?

To sum up (or perhaps state it cogently for the first time):  We should think a lot and talk less.  Listen, then think again.  Perhaps as our first words, ask a question that doesn’t seek to trap and rather seeks to draw out what the other person means rather than what he may be saying.  Repeat as necessary until you agree or disagree but understand why.

It’s easy to do life the other way, don’t think, don’t listen (or listen only to those we agree with), avoid, argue; but, where does it get us?

This needs more thought and work; but, then, I’m lazy and have bad habits.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Political Pandering Reaches High Gear in Georgia

Georgia voters go to the primary polls this coming Tuesday.

Broadcast stations and cable TV companies are wallowing in cash from the campaign funds.

The Republicans are engaged in a contest to determine who hates gay people the most.  “I do!”  “No you don’t, I’ve hated them since I was a kid!”

Both the GOPpers and the Democrats, to a person, WILL NOT RAISE TAXES!  And at the same time, most of them promise to increase funds for education, transportation, sewers and water resources.  They usually throw in raises for teachers, police and firefighters.

Then too, no politician ‘round these parts likes them Messicans.  We need an Arizona type law!  No racial profiling of course – we’ll do it right.
Damn Obama!  Damn Congress (except for “my” Representative)!  They ain’t good for nothin’, always trampling States Rights!  (Sotto voce:  except borrowing money from the Chinamen and sending it down here to balance our budget the last two years.)

But readers, there’s a saving grace, a silver lining.  You see, they don’t mean a damn thing they say.

AT&T Still Sucks; but,...

after about 69 hours, the Internet flows again.  Back to making a living rather than bitching.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Facebook Special for Thomas

"You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."

Consider signing up again.

Multiple Expletives Deleted

As the result of the incompetence of AT&T, I'm sitting at my dining room table, typing this on my laptop, rather than working.

I have been working, just inefficiently, because I'm doing it at home, where I'm constantly finding that I forgot to bring something home that I need to do what I want to do. Where I don't have a printer and have to toggle constantly between pages. And so on and so on.

AT&T sucks. The office internet has been out since about 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday. It was "scheduled" to be restored yesterday at 2:12 p.m.. Don't you love the precision?

I went in this morning, no Internet. The person I finally got to after about ten minutes of automated hell read to me, in a positive tone, that restoration had been ten tonight but it was moved up to five this afternoon. Why is it out. "They" haven't said. Who's "they?" The field repair people. How do I reach them to find out? You can't. I did several loops of that sort of back and forth and quit.

The office manager looked into getting cable Internet. (I know, trading one uncaring monopoly for another.) We can, early next year, if they lay the cables on schedule.

Now I'm going to go back to trying to find some part of my job that I can do without what I don't have at home.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm no Michael Vick fan; but, ...

from what I’ve seen about his run in with a co-defendant a couple of weeks ago, he’s getting a raw deal in the media.

Vick spent some time in prison for various crimes related to dog fighting.  He got out and played as a back-up quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles last year.  They signed him to an about $5 million deal for the upcoming season.

Vick held a birthday party for himself a week or so ago in Virginia where he grew up.  I’m not sure if it was a charity event, or a money-maker for him.  Towards the end of the evening, one of the people convicted with him showed up.  There was apparently a confrontation and Vick left.  The co-defendant was shot by someone, who he won’t identify.  The police have said that Vick isn’t a suspect.

Vick’s parole requires that he have no contact with the co-defendant.  The NFL doesn’t have “conditions” as such on his re-instatement; but, it has him on an “extremely tight leash” (perhaps an unfortunate description).

As part of the aftermath, the parole authorities in Pennsylvania have not let him leave the state, resulting in him being a no-show at two events he had committed to.  He’s now under investigation by the parole people and the NFL and getting flack from the media.

My thought is that unless and until it is found that he initiated the contact with the co-defendant, everyone needs to shut up.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Justice in the Dark

Here's your legal hypothetical for the day.  

You were a defendant in a criminal case and were convicted.  Some time later it is learned by the powers that be that your defense lawyer was sleeping with the judge.

A meeting is convened among two other judges in the jurisdiction, the district attorney, the chief public defender and an attorney on his staff.

In discussing whether the defendants should be informed of the sleeping arrangements of their lawyer, the two judges opined that they should, telling the chief defender to advise his board of the issue (which wasn't done).  The District Attorney disagreed, as did the two defenders.  They said they looked into the cases of defendants convicted after discovery of the affair (but not those before the discovery) and concluded there was no harm done.  The PD's said telling the defendants about the situation would create a "monster" with every individual case needing to be looked into, leading to a flood of appeals (unsaid, and a bunch more work for the defender's office).

It's three months later, the philandering judge resigned, the compromising defender is on leave, with pay, and the defendants still haven't been informed about what happened.

Public defenders aren't paid a lot.  It seems that is reflected in their work ethic.

Is it just me?

Would you find it a bit creepy to find a campaign flier stuck in your door jam with a post-it note addressed specifically to you?

"David, I came by to hear your thoughts on our state government.  Sandy. 404-xxx-xxxx."

I don't know the candidate, I've never heard of the candidate.  I suppose it isn't too hard to get my name from some data base that associates it with my address.  But still....

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

You know you're doing something right...

...if when you’re 81 you look like you did twenty some years ago and have a hot girlfriend.

If you read my last post and the comments you saw that Seth was perturbed that I swept him aside to talk about Susie our blind friend.

So here’s your post Seth. 

Ever known someone, even when they aren’t happy that doesn’t show it?  Someone that is almost always on.  Someone that’s generous to a fault.

There’s a Yiddish word for it, named after Seth.  Mensch.  (Word doesn’t have that spelling and suggests menace.)

Need something?  He’s there, probably having thought of what you need before you thought of it.

I do have a bone to pick with him though.  Back in the Miami days he arranged a weekend canoeing in the Everglades, moving up to Central Florida for a rodeo on Sunday.  (As an aside, either Susie or another female friend told us she’d go to the Everglades with us the minute they built a Hyatt.)  His motel arrangements were one room short the night before we went to the rodeo; and, I and another friend were the odd men out as the others were either girls or girls with guys in tow.

So we had to find a place to stay.  Except, there was a rodeo in the fairly small town.  We found a place the third or fourth try, cheap, and not worth the pittance we paid.  Mold.  Bugs.  Running water in places where you don’t want running water.  Loud noises too close to the thin walls that enclosed us. We were out of the place at about five in the morning, having slept a couple of hours.

I’d forgotten about it until Seth reminded me over the weekend, conveniently forgetting about the one room short part.  Being a mensch isn’t everything.

There's good and bad in everything

The good first.

I'm playing golf tomorrow at a private club that wouldn't let me in the gate were I not on a list.  The tee boxes, fairways and greens will be perfect.

The bad.

The high temperature may hit a hundred or within a degree or two.  I'm not going to find out the heat index.

The other bad.

My game isn't worthy of the course.

The rationalization.

Most members have a lot of money, thus they probably spend a lot of time working or doing other things that the rich do, and are no better at the game than I am.

Never had a caddie, should be interesting.  I wonder how he or she is going to figure out what club to tell me to use after a hole or two of wild inconsistency.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Lady and Her Dog

I spent the weekend with 2,200 people at a convention of sorts, though not really.

Back when I lived in Miami I was a member of the convening organization and met a number of good friends who I lost track of after moving to Atlanta and lapsing my membership. Last December, on a whim, I rejoined and looked up names from the past, learning that several of my old friends were still members. Over a series of Emails back and forth, I got roped into going to the convention this last weekend.

I don’t like crowds and speakers and presentations and hospitality rooms and bad banquet food; and, I found all of them over the weekend. But I also reconnected with my friends from Miami.

You know you have a friend when you start a conversation a couple of decades removed pretty much like you would have a day or so after you had last been with the person.

For purposes of this post I’ll skip my male friend, though he’s a post in himself, and focus on my female friend. The inner her hasn’t changed a bit. The outer her has changed. I’m not talking about the changes you might think. About three years ago she lost most of her sight, she’s legally blind. She can read 120 point type and “sees” blobs where people and things are.

I’m going to fake blindness and get a service dog. They’re chick magnets. Over the weekend I walked her dog a lot. I don’t get attention. This weekend I did, even when I was alone. “Where’s the dog?” Too, it’s been sometime since I’ve spent time with a dog. I grew up with them, black labs. My new friend from the weekend is a yellow lab and she is smart as hell.

When she has the “handle” on she is working. With it off and only wearing a leash, she is off duty; but, at first she still worked. She stopped at the curb. If there were people obstructing our path, she stopped. By about the third walk, all we had to deal with was accommodating the difference in my and her owner’s pace, something we never quite achieved as I walk quite a bit faster and since she was off duty, she felt it her right to wander and sniff as she liked. I knew we had bonded when we had returned to her mom, she greeted her and moved back to me and settled in next to my leg. Kind of nice, though I drew the line at getting kisses.

Moving on, there’s a sea of kindness and indifference in the world. For the most part, as my friend and I walked with the dog, as my friend put it, “I’m Moses parting the waters.” Even at the last minute, people moved quickly aside as the saw her and the dog and we flowed through the masses. Then there were those that would look right at her and her dog and cut a foot in front of her forcing the dog to pull back. They didn’t see or didn’t care when they saw my “you #%%(+@!” look.

There’s some ignorance too, though that’s not the right word. We sat at a table at one of the banquets. The server had seen the dog. She asked me if I would like coffee and I said yes. “Would she like coffee too?” My friend smiled. I said “I don’t know, Susie*, would you like coffee?” It turned out she would enjoy a cup of coffee and told the server. As she sensed the server leaving she said, don’t worry it happens a lot.

I might do another post about Susie* and some of our other adventures over the weekend; but, I’m still digesting the grace, equanimity and plain determination that has allowed her to be no different than the woman I knew a couple of decades ago.

(*I told Susie I might do a post and she asked that I not use her name. I hope I picked a name she hates.)

Monday, July 05, 2010

A Critique of GoGo Inflight Internet

While this will published using wireless from an Airtran flight, it took me twenty minutes to figure out that though Firefox takes me to my home page automatically, it doesn't when connecting to GoGo. Rather it has to churn to "can't find server at" and then if I hit the home page icon, which I did in frustration, it will take me to the GoGo sign in page where I had to search too long for how to paste in the code to get the free session I had.

I'd be really pissed if I didn't have a free coupon code.

Happy July Fifth

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Live From Dearborn

As I type, I'm hearing the booms and pops of fireworks from Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. Can't see them as my hotel room window faces the wrong way.

Nice weekend out of town, the details, I won't bore you.

Happy Fourth of July!