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Archive for May, 2007

Everything Must Go

I’m doing some spring cleaning and have decided to sell my stuff on Craig’s list. I know the drill: take pictures, put everything in the garage, lock the door to the house, be willing to bargain. Couldn’t be easier, especially since everyone says Craig’s list is the fastest way to get rid of almost anything. For example, I just read about an ad posted not too long ago that invited folks near Tacoma, Washington to help themselves to the complete contents of a home in the area. Eager bargain hunters stripped the place of everything, including the water heater. Only problem was, it came as a complete shock to the woman who owned the house. Seems her niece was ticked off because Auntie evicted her mom so she placed the ad for purposes of, um, revenge. Gads, I wouldn’t refund that security deposit.

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Vested Interests

According to an NBC report, the body armor issued to U.S. Army troops may not as efficient as another, more expensive type, called Dragon Skin. This more expensive armor was banned by the Army – before, apparently, testing it. At the same time, it appears that elite squads guarding certain Army generals routinely wear Dragon Skin despite the ban and swear by it. Family members are incensed that they’ve also been barred from purchasing the allegedly superior armor for their loved ones serving overseas. Needless to say, Congress and the news media are investigating. That said, I’m stuck on a related point: how is it that parents, spouses and others who routinely send socks, sweaters and CDs to make our volunteer troops comfortable now feel they must also send a better body armor to make them safe?

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Crisis at the World Bank, crisis in the Middle East, ongoing crises in Africa: the news is dismal. Then there is the scandal plaguing professional cycling. I started watching the Tour de France in the early nineties but it was Lance Armstrong who really hooked me with his strength, his skill and his successful battle against cancer. We all bought the “Live Strong” bracelets in those years and we mostly discounted the rumors about artificially enhanced performance because he was our guy. But somewhere along the line money came into the picture, lots of it, what with all the endorsements, sponsorships and TV spots; then came drugs, notoriety and scandal. Now we have the disgraced 2006 Tour de France champion Floyd Landis spinning his wheels in a courtroom mired in tales of drugs used, drug tests failed and threats made by his manager against LeMonde, whose own difficult past has come to light. Looks like cycling hit paydirt; then the mud started flying.

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I read pretty voraciously but I admit I enjoy sitting in front of the tube, usually while doing something else like reading. I tend to like the traditional dramas or “dramadies” as they’re now called. There are a few shows I watch regularly but nothing has inspired me to become a long-term fan like I used to be. This year’s season finales have really annoyed me for some reason. I guess that’s okay. I won’t need to make the effort next season to be home on Thursday (or Wednesday or Sunday) evening. I’ll read more or get out more. Still, I can’t help but feel disappointed, as if an old friend has let me down. Maybe I should look into premium cable.

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Summer may be just around the corner, but it’s not a great time to think about living at or heading to the Jersey shore. For one thing, a terrible fire over the last few days has destroyed much of the Pine Barrens, a protected wetlands by the ocean, threatening homes and necessitating the evacuation of hundreds. The fire was started by a flare shot from an Air National Guard plane during a training routine. Last year, an Air National Guard pilot accidentally strafed an empty New Jersey school, also during a training routine. Time for some new routines. Meanwhile, unexploded munitions dating back to World War II were discovered earlier this month at another Jersey beach during a replenishment project conducted by the Army Corps. It’s hoped the beach will be rendered safe and open in time for Memorial Day. I’d suggest spreading the towel and slathering on the sunscreen but maybe hold off on digging for clams.

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Confusion

I probably don’t understand the way politics work as well as I should. That’s why I was a little confused when I heard that the number two man at Justice had resigned. Isn’t everyone clamoring for number one at Justice to resign? I’m also losing count of just how many people have left the department in the past year or so. Granted, it’s a big department but if you add the eight fired attorneys and the four resignations to the normal attrition, that’s a lot of job openings. And talk about losing count: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is considering a run for the White House in ’08 as is lawyer, actor and former Senator Fred Thompson. That makes how many within the Republican party alone – twelve? If Bloomberg jumps in, we’ll have a baker’s dozen. Good grief, how am I supposed to tell all these amazingly homogeneous candidates apart? And imagine the debates: will anyone get a word in edgewise or will it all devolve into a confusing babble?

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Mother’s Day is a holiday, I guess. It’s more than a private observation but seems less than those old standbys that celebrate religious holy days or nation-founding, national independence or national heroes. On Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day), businesses that would normally be open on Sunday (which itself used to be a major holiday) are open and those people who normally work on Sundays are working. Yes, there are Mother’s Day sales and Mother’s Day brunches. Still, it was weird to hear someone say last Friday, “Have a nice holiday.” But maybe that’s me. Mother’s Day isn’t my holiday; my mom is no longer living and I never had kids. I always feel a little excluded and a little sad, to be honest. However, I did receive a card from the dog, thanking me for all I do. I suspect a human hand behind her thoughtful gesture but even so, it’s nice to know I’m appreciated.

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