Friday, April 30, 2004

Nightline and the War

Here's a copy of the letter I sent to Sinclair Broadcasting concerning their decision not to air tonight's Nightline, due to it's "perceived anti-war stance":

Mr. Smith:

I heard with some disappointment your company’s decision not to broadcast tonight’s Nightline. Your protestations to the contrary, I don’t see how tonight’s Nightline program is anything other than an effort to put a human face on war, an opportunity that we are frequently denied living several thousand miles away from the active conflict.

While I personally have reservations about the war in Iraq, I fully support our troops, who are in an impossible situation. Given the opportunity, I would have watched tonight’s program; unfortunately, your decision prevented me from doing so.

So my ultimate question becomes this: why do you have so little respect for the viewing public? Why can’t we watch the broadcast and make up our own minds? In the words of Leroy Seivers, producer of Nightline:

"As I have said many times, whether you are for the war or against it, these men and women, whose pictures you will see tonight, have paid the ultimate price in our names. We think it is only fitting that for one night, we present their names. All I would hope is that all of you who watch, like all of us who are working on it, will take a moment at least to think about that sacrifice. "

That doesn’t strike me as a particularly anti-war stance, nor does it strike me as any sort of condemnation of the war in Iraq. It’s a reminder that these are real people dying in Iraq, and that war, while sometimes necessary, always comes with a terrible price.

One of the cornerstones of our country is that we live in a marketplace of ideas; without the ability to share and communicate those ideas and concepts, we become a weaker society. Frankly, I believe your decision not to broadcast this program was a far more unpatriotic stance than any that you so “bravely” decided to shield us from.

As I said, I'm not for this particular war. By no means am I a pacifist, but I think we're barking up the wrong tree. If we want to catch the people responsible for Sept. 11, then let's get them.

But they're not in Iraq.

I'm pretty certain they're holed up in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan, laughing and waiting their chance to strike again, which they'll get because we're going on an ill-conceived poorly planned expedition into Iraq. There never have been enough troops available to do the job properly; there's been no plan for dealing with post-conflict Iraq; and now we're seeing the results of this planning.

So I can't help but wonder just what the hell has this administration been thinking?

But what burns me up more than anything is that there are people who refuse to acknowledge that people are dying over there. Military personnel, civilians, insurrectionists - it doesn't matter; that's the price of war, and yet people complain when photos showing bodies appear in the paper. The military has had people fired for showing caskets being transported into the country. It's like we're all for a splendid little war, but let's not show you what happens in one.

That's wrong. If you're willing to fight, you need to be prepared to pay the price, and you should be reminded of that price. Otherwise, the people dying over there are sacrificing their lives in vain, and there's no bigger sin than that.

EDIT: Check this out to see someone do a far better job than I breaking this down.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Slow News Day

So I'm sitting here, watching the news and they've spent approximately one minute talking about President Bush meeting with the 9-11 Commission (a.k.a. Let's find a scapegoat! What were YOU doing in August 2001?), the fighting in Iraq and the potential cease fire and how their news chopper helped track down some shoplifters. Then they spent something like 5 minutes on the new Ellen DeGeneres show now appearing on Channel 5 (the channel I happened to be watching) and about three minutes on where ladies can find single men (they didn't show my house --- I thought about offering it up as a good hotspot, but that damned restraining order keeps me from contacting television personalities in person).

What I learned here is there is apparently NO depth to which networks will sink to pimp their programming. Personnally, I thought the only bit of news in there was that someone actually believes Ellen is funny. Who knew? Oh, and apparently that "Friends" show is ending. Huh.

Nothing like wasting time reporting on the upcoming Presidential election, Iraq/Afghanistan, the (ahem) "War" on Terror, the stagnating economy, home rule finally being voted on in St. Louis, the squabbles between homeless shelters in town, the whole "Oil for Food" bribery scandal that's brewing.

Nope. We get several minutes on Ellen and how she dances at the beginning of each show.

It's becoming easier to see why only about three people vote in elections anymore.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Still Ticking . . .

I'm still here, but between softball, kickball and a few other things I can't mention yet, I haven't had time to post.

Oh, and I broke the space bar on my computer, but don't worry; all will be fixed soon and I'll have more nonsense posted shortly.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Vacation Approaching . . .

This week was eye-opening, because I saw just what kind of bad shape I'm in currently, and it's not pretty.

Saturday, I woke up early and hit the gym, where I had a nice leg workout (and no, she wasn't there, so don't ask). I followed that up on Sunday with some yard work, and then I played two games of kickball. And I followed the kickball with a softball game.

Needless to say, on Monday, I moved like an 80-year-old arthritic.

Usually, I'd laugh this off, but in one month, I'm going to be hiking through Olympic National Park, and I really don't want to die on this trip. I'd really prefer enjoying the beauty of the rain forest while walking through it, instead of trudging through the mud trying to keep my heart beating.

At least I have a month to get my shit together, so I'm hitting the trail this weekend, with a full pack. And hopefully, I won't drop dead 20 feet from the trailhead.

Strangely enough, I'm still looking forward to this trip - it's a week away from work. It's a week away from here, which is something I can use, since I don't get away nearly enough.

So we're 31 days away from me vs. nature. May the best competitor win.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Lessons Learned at 70 RPM

Like many people these days, I try to go to the gym a few times a week. It's necessary, because, well, I have a weakness for the potato chips and the television, and that's not a good combination to deal with regularly.

Unlike several people who hit the gym, I'm there to work out. I go in, take care of business, and leave. I don't socialize, I don't talk, and I never, never, never, never, never would dream of trying to pick up a woman while in the gym. Seeing women in makeup, leaning on machines and gabbing at guys preening for the ladies in their custom-made work out clothes just makes me ill. Never would I stoop so low.

Until yesterday.

My membership allows me to go to one of several locations throughout the area. Usually I hit the same gym, but every now and then I go to a different one. And she's there, and lord, is she beautiful. I've been mildly interested in this woman for some time. Well, let's be honest - replace "mildly interested" with "kind of obsessed".

But I keep returning to the dilemma. I don't want to be one of "them". I'm there to exercise dammit, not have fun! But the fact that I haven't been in any sort of relationship in nearly a year started to take its toll on my resolve.

So as I wrapped up my weight lifting, I saw her on one of the elliptical machines. There was an open spot next to her. This was fate. This was kismet. This was a giant green light from Heaven, saying "GO! GO! GO!"

I hopped up on the machine and smiled and nodded at her. I figured I'd get started and say something witty. Or smart. Or hell, just something. So I punched up the settings and get started.

A little note here: I use the same model of machine regularly. I change the settings to vary the workout, but I can run on one of those things for a good 30 minutes, work up a good sweat, and be on my way. However, that's at my usual gym, where everyone knows my name (or at least my face, because I don't talk to people much). Apparently, you can change the calibration on these things, making the same settings much harder or easier - something I didn't know. But I do now.

After one minute, I was gasping like I'd just sprinted up a long flight of stairs. At two, the mild burn in my legs started to become an inferno. Plus, I sounded like I'd been smoking three packs a day for ten years. At four minutes, I began to see the light - and thought maybe going into it was a good idea. At five, I just about fell off the damned machine, looking and breathing like I'd just sprinted out of a rain forest.

Needless to say, looking cool and suave was out of the question, because the only two words I could put together (between panting) coherently were "Sweet" and "Jesus".

So not-so-suave-and-cool me headed off to the exercise bikes to finish my foray into cardiovascular fitness and nurse my wouned pride.

As for the girl? I need to regroup a bit here. I was going to fall back on plan B - follow her home and start "just showing up" where she does, but apparently, there are "laws" against that sort of thing.

So ulltimately, I'm going to have to revert to plan A - actually strike up a conversation, and risk the wrath of the gym gods. I just won't try it on the running machines; that could get ugly.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Yep. I rule . . .

In case there was any doubt . . .

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

You may begin offering sacrifice to me at any time . . .

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Batting Cage Groupie

Last post sucked. I apologize. All three of you deserve better, which I'll try to do, so without further ado, here's today's entry:


"Out to left field." First swing. The ball barely cleared the machines, straight into the imaginary left fielder's glove.


"Out to center field." Same drill; only this time to the imaginary center fielder.

. . .

"DAMMIT!" I shouted that one after a spectacular nearly-landing-on-my-ass strike, when I felt a twinge in my side.

"I like it when they talk to themselves," she said, while leaning against the fence, helmet balanced on her head. Red hair peaked out from under the helmet and she cradled a bat in her skinny arms. The slightly awkward way she held herself - along with the acne - put her age at right around 16.

"He does it all the time," Shane replied.

I started practicing for softball yesterday. I opened my regimen with a one-hour session at the batting cages, where she alternated between sitting along the fence and leaning over the railing and watched my friend Shane and I hit pop-ups and ground-outs as she gently massaged her bat. I started getting a little nervous when she kissed the bat and started talking to it.

When Shane looked at her, kind of smiling, she said, "It's okay; we don't have the same DNA."

I stopped making eye conatact and started slinking away, figuring she was going to turn on me, cracking that Louisville Slugger over my head at any moment. Fortunately, the semi-pro softball player showed up and she leaned over the rail, admiring his stroke, so to speak.

OK, so she was odd but harmless. I imagined her hanging out at school with her one friend - the outcasts (believe me, I know that group - we can smell our own), and hitting the batting cages alone after school.

Shane and I took off, headed to our team practice, and she was in the parking lot, trying to back her approximately 85-foot long station wagon out of its parking space. I remembered a similar scene, with me trying to back a 18-ton Buick LeSabre out of a crowded parking spot (and actually hitting the cars behind me).

And I guess, in a strange way, I kind of envied her. This girl wasn't afraid to be herself in front of a bunch of strangers. At her age, I wouldn't have said a word to anyone I didn't know. Heck, I still don't like it when strangers talk to me; I get nervous (especially when it's in the men's room. I HATE that.). In a few years, she'll head of to college and have the time of her life. While I wouldn't give up my life for anything, sometimes it's nice to remember a time before mortgages, careers and crazy ex-girlfriends.

So as I drove off to practice, I remembered those days, and I couldn't help but smile.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

My Own Friendly Fire Incident

I hefted my rifle and pointed it into the thick woods ahead of me. Shane and I were on a hunt. He was out there. Our last opponent.

Two of our teammates took the left. We took the right. Hiding in the brush behind a log was our quarry. Shane held him in position while I crept around to his side. Once set, I opened fire. He jumped up, shot Shane twice and ran as I kept shooting in front of him, over him and behind him. But not one of those damned paintballs hit him.


The stinging in my back made me stop shooting. I turned around to see my own teammates, happy they took out our target. Or so they thought.

"Sorry man." They said.

Thanks to the welts and bruises, I spend the rest of the night looking like I was in a proper posture ad. And I couldn't sit without wincing.

And to think, I paid to do this Saturday.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Who Says Romance is Dead?

A co-worker told me of her friend's 30th birthday party the night before; how her friend's boyfriend rented a party room at the Ritz-Carlton and had it stocked with mountains of appetizers and rivers of booze.

And I, never afraid to boldly stick my foot in my mouth, said "For 30? Isn't he raising the bar awfully high? What's he going to do when she hits 40 - if he's around that long?"

Co-worker looked at me sadly for a moment and said "I think it's romantic. It shows how much he likes her."

"But he has nowhere to go but down!" I came back at her with this brilliant response.

She shrugged and replied "I think romance is dead; it was a neat idea and a fun party. She was completely surprised and blown away by the party."

And I ran out of gas here. Where could I go? I was thinking he's kind of a sucker. MAYBE if they're married, or if they've been together for a long time. Or they will be married, but if he's only just been seeing her for a few months?

She's going to expect more. Bigger parties. Better food. Longer trips. I would have gone with a nice surprise party - with hills of appetizers and creeks of booze. Save bigger for later, dammit!

Of course, there may be a reason he's throwing parties for his girlfriend and I'm throwing parties for myself (granted, they're good parties, but you can only drink alone so many times before people start talking).