Wednesday, December 21, 2005

No Fly Zone

Flying isn’t fun any more. It hasn’t been fun since the days of being able to show up to the airport 30 minutes before take off and being assured a seat went the way of the dodo. At the time of September 11th, I was a consultant and flew on a weekly basis. I enjoyed it. I’d leave my house about an hour before my flight and I’d stroll onto the plane just as they were announcing boarding. After that, I’d have to leave 2 hours yearly and early just to feel safe about getting on the plane on time. Then a few months later, that idiot with the explosives in his shoes made people think that this was an actual threat and we were stuck with having to take our shoes off, too. The first time I was told to take my shoes off was the time I realized that I had to get a new job. There was no way I was going to be able to have a job that required I take my shoes off at the airport.

And now that some of the population is slowly regaining its sanity, you’d think it’d be better. You’d think that with more people realizing the government is only looking to control us with fear, not protect us, perhaps we wouldn’t let them get away with making us take our shoes off. You’d think that you would hear fewer interviews about these ridiculous hoops we have to jump through end in the phrase, “I don’t mind having to bend over and have my prostate examined because it makes me feel safer.” Well, you’d be wrong. It’s worse.

I read an article last week about the “No-Fly List”, one of The Village Idiot’s “indispensable tools” in the war on terror along with everyone’s favorite affront on the Bill of Rights, the Patriot Act, and illegal phone taps of private US citizens compliments of the NSA. Turns out no one has any clue as to how many names are on the list because absolutely no part of the list is accessible by the public. And if you happen to share the name of someone on the list, you don’t fly, period. And don’t find out you’re on the list until you actually show up to the airport. And to get clearance to fly, you have to contact the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and they’ll give you a letter saying you are probably OK to fly, BUT every time you go to the airport, you’re basically going to have to go through a monstrous hassle, with or without the letter. Why? Because there’s absolutely no way to have a name removed from the list.

I know what you’re thinking: “My name is Whitey Whitebread. There’s no way my name is on the list.” WRONG AGAIN!!! There are tens of thousands of requests currently filed with the NTSB from people looking to have their names cleared and the great majority of them are people with names no more ethnic than John Stevens. Babies are being turned away on an almost daily basis because their parents didn’t have the foresight to make sure the name they chose for their new born wasn’t on the list (not that they could have seen the list even if they did have the foresight).

I can’t even imagine if I was a consultant and it was my job to fly and my name were on the list. Basically, the government would be preventing me from doing my job because they’re too dumb or lazy or power-crazy or blind to know the difference between the dozens of Paul Brittons out there. But who would I be mad at? I mean, this is blatantly illegal. I can’t even imagine the argument saying that it isn’t. But are you mad at the Village Idiot and his minions for wielding that kind of power and using to excess? Are you mad at the Congressfolk that gave them these powers? Or are you mad at the Sheep that run around saying they like being treated like criminals because it makes them feel safe?

As much as I hate the Village Idiot and the Congressfolk right now, I’d have to blame the Sheep. THEY’RE the ones that voted these criminals back into power. THEY’RE the ones too stupid to recognize that you’re far less safe today than you were the morning of 9/11/01 as a direct result of the Village Idiot’s policies. THEY’RE the ones that are willing to allow these wretched freaks to completely demolish the principles our freedoms were built upon (and this is the fucking insanely ironic part of it all) IN THE NAME OF DEFENDING OUR FREEDOMS! The fact of the matter is, these Sheep are so ignorant, you could say you’re doing just about anything in the name of their safety and they’d get on board and believe you.

So flying isn’t fun any more because we have to tread through the dung of millions of sheep just to get to the airplane. The No-Fly List is just a symptom of a greater illness. But it all stinks. And I hope that enough people wake up in time to realize it before the next elections. It’s getting to the point where those of us who’ve been smelling that shit for 4 years now can barely breathe.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Cheesecakium peanutbuttercupia

I like food. And of all the sub categories of food there are, I like the dessert sub-category the best. And of all the dessert classes there are, I like the Cake (cakiius) the most (with Cookies [cookenium] pulling in a very respectable 2nd). And the cake genus that holds a very special corner of my heart, due to the variety of species in the genus and the time and effort into creating a superior example, is the cheesecake.

For the record, my favorite favorite dessert is the Publix white cake with butter cream frosting (Publixea publixea).

Since I do love the cheesecake, it is worth mentioning that a Cheesecake Factory has opened in Fresno. The Cheesecake Factory knows how to make them some cheesecake. And they are all over the place with their offerings. For a year, while I lived in LA, I worked across the street from a Cheesecake Factory. This offered me numerous opportunities to sample their wares and figure out which cheesecake is the champion of them all. If cheesecakes were subject to Darwinian theories, which one’s characteristics would we find dominant in the cheesecake of 1,000,000 years from now. The answer: Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple. If you don’t like the combination of chocolate and peanut butter in you desserts, too bad. Your lame ass will be weeded out in 1,000,000 years of evolutionary advancements any way, so bitch to someone else.

I’m not saying that the others aren’t good and that APBCFR is the best on every single level. I’m just saying that it has the overall best characteristics. I’m also a fan of the Godiva Chocolate cheesecake (the Fudge Ripple part could evolve into a Godiva Chocolate ripple). Their strawberry is awesome (if they still have it where the strawberries are in the cheesecake, not just on top). But strawberries and chocolate is great and peanut butter and chocolate is great, but strawberries and peanut butter and chocolate doesn’t work, so eventually the strawberry trait would become sort of an albino recessive gene where 1 out of every 100 cheesecake babies would end up being strawberry.

Their selection is insane and I’ve been the to Cheesecake Factory so many times and have known my favorite for so long that I don’t even bother ordering anything else any more. So you’re going to have to forgive me that I don’t go through the laundry list of their cheesecakes and rate them all. Figuring that out for yourself is a magical journey and I highly recommend it for everyone. However, just don’t be surprised when you find out that you’re disappointed that you didn’t just go and get the Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Serious Radio

The highlight of our road trip to San Fran this past weekend was definitely the Sirius Satellite Radio that I bought myself for Christmas the previous weekend. As of right now, it ranks in the top 10 purchases I’ve made in the past 5 years (for those that care, #1 was the washer and dryer). I love my Sirius radio.

First, the music stations are better than I expected. I never knew that radio could be so cool! The multitudinous formats are just phenomenal. You hop from the 80’s to the 70’s to today to old school rap. You know you’re going to find a song that you like. The only question is, “How long do you stick with that station before you turn?” Usually you wait until a song you don’t like, which usually takes 3 or 4 songs. But sometimes, a decent song is playing and you just know there’s something better elsewhere so you flip around. On the regular radio, if you find something even listenable, there’s no way you flip.

Next, is the commercials. The lack of commercials is like a little gift from God. The regular radio is almost intolerable with the length of the commercial breaks. I can’t even begin to imagine what listening to Howard will be like when the commercial break is less than 15 minutes long. Even without all the other stuff, no commercials makes it all worth while.

Of course, one of the things I love is the NFL Station. A station dedicated to the NFL: how can that be anything but great? I don’t listen to it as much as I would if I didn’t car pool with Jenn, but what I do listen to, I like. Good times!

Lastly, the main reason why I got Sirius was the impending arrival of Howard Stern. Every once and a while, I stop over and listen to the Howard Stern news. It’s actually kind of funny that he programs news about the Stern Universe. Because there are so many different personalities on the show, and if you listen to the show, you know each one of, it actually works. It’d be like someone making a radio show about you and your friends and you get to find out shit about your friends that you never knew or you get to find out what they do when they’re not hanging out with you or e-mailing you pictures of naked grannies peeing. Once the radio show moves over, I’m sure it’s going to be spectacular. It might lead to Jenn not wanting to car pool any more. But at least it will be funny.

There are some things which are annoying. Even a little interference (like driving under an over-pass) will interrupt reception if even for just a split second. Reception with the home kit is crap if the antenna isn’t outside and even then it can be spotty (that might just be a problem with where we live). You have to learn a new remote and learn it while driving, which isn’t necessarily the best of ideas. Also, Sirius doesn’t have a radio that you can walk around with, like XM has. I was really disappointed about that. Their version is like an MP3 player where you can record stuff for playing while you walk around later. If our i-Pod didn’t have hard drive problems early on, that last fact probably would have been enough to make me decide to just get my own i-Pod.

On the whole, though, Sirius is well worth it. It really make driving a much happier experience. The selection of programming is just too good to be ignored. I'll probalby never even turn to 70% of the channels and I bet many of those would have programming that I'd listen to. Now if I could only get Jenn to agree to a cross-country trip to really test this baby out.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I don't know what else to say about the debacle that was the Steelers game on Sunday. After a less than stellar trip to San Francisco, I was in need of a little boost compliments of a strong showing by the Steelers on Sunday. Unfortunately, they didn't get the memo. The problem isn't so much that they lost: that part sucked, but that sort of disappointment only lasts about a week and I can deal with it. The problem isn’t so much the way they lost: they got beat (demolished, really) in every phase of the game and if it weren’t for Big Ben throwing in a few nice tosses, making the game at least appear interesting. The problem is now I’m forced to look ahead and realize that the Steelers have to win their last 4 games.

I commented on this last week: if the Steelers lost Sunday, they’d be hard pressed to make the playoffs. And now, the worst has happened. If they don’t win out, no playoffs. 2 years ago, when they had a pretty bad team, it wasn’t’ the worst thing ever when they missed the playoffs. They got a high draft pick and that turned into Big Ben. This year though, if they only lose one more game (which is likely, if they lose any), they’re going to wind up 10-6, out of the playoffs and with a barely mediocre draft pick.

Another problem with missing the playoffs this year is they actually have a good team. A potentially great team, really. For whatever reason, their offensive line has been playing like crap for a month or 2 now and their LB corps has been banged up just enough to be allowing dink and dunk passes to kill them. These were supposed to be strong areas.

So now I’m staring a very long and painful January in the face. When Denver or New England goes into Indy and completely manhandles the choke-artist Colts, I won’t be able to help but think, “That should be the Steelers doing that.”

They still have a chance though, and for that I am grateful. Doom and gloom can wait for another week. Right now I am just a little nervous (a step below cautiously optimistic). I’m only going to change my playoff predictions a little by swapping the Steelers and Bengals. The Steelers have the kind of team that can cause some damage in the playoffs from teh Wild Card spot, so we have that going for us, which is nice.