Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Katie Couric--Liberal Activist???

You have probably seen Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin. The first sketch, with Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton, was an absolute riot. Whether you are for or against Palin, you have to admit that Tina has her down pat.

When I heard there was a new sketch, I had to see it. I googled and was quickly able to find the new sketch with Amy Poehler playing Katie Couric. It's also funny, but I didn't appreciate the full value because I had not seen the Palin-Couric interview.

So I googled and quickly found the Palin-Couric interview on YouTube. It's almost as funny as the Fey-Poehler sketch, and more frightening than any of the Saw movies. The most amazing thing, however, was that the post was labeled: Palin interview with Katie Couric (Liberal Activist).

I'm an NBC man myself, out of habit more than anything else, and haven't really paid much attention to Katie since she left the Today show. I was more than a little surprised to learn she had become a liberal activist. Shocked really. I never saw it coming.

Then I googled "liberal activist". Apparently, a liberal activist is anyone who dares to challenge or in Katie's case, ask questions about Republican positions on gun control, abortion, gay marriage, the war in Iraq, etc. I guess in comparison to Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Miller, Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter, Katie Couric would be considered a liberal activist. By that standard, the world is chocked-full of liberal activists.

The YouTube label, however, is more about the Republican way of saying something with the hope that if they say it often enough, others will believe it. It's not about truth, and it's certainly not about justice. It's about winning, at any cost. McCain is following the same doctrine, with a lot of help from the Republican machine. That's why so many people believe Obama is Muslim, that activist judges have run amok, and that the GOP stands for solid Christian values.

It's also why I'm still...

The Crotchety Old Man

Monday, September 29, 2008

About Your Comments...

I don't know about other bloggers, but I'm always happy to see that someone has commented on one of my postings. It means that somebody out there is reading, and that they care enough to offer an opinion about something I've said. That's a good thing.

What I write in my blog is my opinion at that particular point in time. Contrary to what some say, I am entitled to my opinion, just as you are entitled to yours. You can disagree with me, and in many cases, probably do. That's one of the great things about living in this country.

Unfortunately, I have found it necessary to delete many of the comments I receive. To be clear, I'm not deleting them because they disagree with some of my ranting. I delete them because they come from an anonymous e-mail address that doesn't allow for replies. If you don't care to hear a response to your opinion, I'm not interested in hearing your comments about my opinion. Sue me.

Several of the nasty comments I receive focus on my spelling, grammar, and/or word choice. I am far from perfect, and appreciate having any errors called to my attention. However, to date, the errors have not been mine. One nasty commenter informed me that "counseling" should have two "l"s. Wrong. Another informed me that misperception is not a word. It is. It may not be the best word I could have used, but it is a word and it was the word I wanted. Before you jump me for something like that, doublecheck to be sure you are correct.

I welcome your comments. You are free to disagree with me as much as you like. That's what's missing from society today--the opportunity to freely discuss differences of opinion. Perhaps you will share something with me that I didn't know, or didn't understand and my opinion will change. It can happen. I will delete comments that come from anonymous addresses that don't allow for replies. I reserve the right to delete comments for other reasons as well. But I promise that I will never delete a comment just because it's one I don't agree with.

Looking forward to hearing from you...

The Crotchety Old Man

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Things You Read in Gay Profiles

A lot of what I read in profiles on various gay web sites is disturbing. To say we have an image problem is a huge understatement. Things have gotten much better in the 30+ years I've been out, but that's not really saying much. Before I came out, the only images of gay men I had were: 1) an ancient drag queen called Sweet Evening Breeze that everyone in town knew, and 2) the dirty old men that hung out at the Greyhound bus station trolling for runaway teenagers. I didn't know what to think of my scoutmaster and the first couple of bosses I had as a teenager. Now I know they were pedophiles. Ewwww.

I couldn't identify with any of those groups. I was aware of my attraction to men, but figured I was just more honest than the other guys my age. A little later I thought perhaps I was bisexual. Now I think bisexual is synonymous with undecided or unable to commit. I came out when a straight female friend of mine dragged me kicking and screaming to a gay bar so we could dance. Once we arrived and I saw a bunch of very attractive gay guys my age, I knew immediately that I was gay and was in fact, dating one of them by the end of the week.

Much of what I read in gay profiles suggests that these guys don't see images of gay people they can relate to. They probably watch Bravo. Project Runway, Top Design, Top Chef, Shear Genius, Split Ends and a host of other reality shows with gay participants do little to help. Nor does it help that politically, we're now lumped in with lesbians, transgendered, transexuals and a host of others that have absolutely nothing in common with me. Sound like a group you'd want to join?

More likely they go to church. I've observed that the more religious one is, the harder it is to come out. In fact, many fundamental Christians never come out. Instead, they get married and then sneak around with men behind the old lady's back. Married men cruising gay chat rooms and web sites for sex seem to think that all gay men will have sex with any willing man at the drop of a zipper. Does anyone really do that? These married gay men probably vote Republican, too, just to oppose gay marriage.

I think the majority of gay men are far more "normal" than anyone would believe. Over the years I've had straight colleagues from around the country come visit. They stay here at the house--we have plenty of room--and we show them a good time. Without fail, after their first visit they comment on how surprised they are at how "normal" our lives are. These are colleagues I have known and worked with for many years--and yet somehow, they acted like they were coming to visit some exotic, foreign land.

So when I read "not into the gay lifestyle" in a profile, I wonder what kind of notions they have about what our lives are like. Contrary to expectations, we don't have a sling, a 55-gallon drum of lube, and a chest full of sex toys in our living room. We don't have stacks of porn laying around the house, or closets full of wigs, dresses and high heel pumps. We don't have sex parties. We're not in to high fashion, and our house is nice enough but hardly a show place. We eat 3 meals a day (give or take). We work five days a week. We do laundry, clean the house, mow the yard and otherwise take care of routine and sundry tasks--just like straight people do.

Ignorance, misinformation, and misperceptions--more reasons I'm still...

The Crotchety Old Man

Saturday, September 27, 2008

On Tea Olives

There are a lot of things I like about living in the Deep South. Yeah, it gets hot in the summer, and humid. But what we call Winter is downright pleasant. It's a rare day I need more than a lightweight jacket, and even then I usually don't need it in the afternoon.

I love the long growing season. I moved here from Kentucky where there's not much happening in the garden from November to March. Here in Athens, GA there is something blooming just about all the time. I have early and late season camellias that together, bloom from November to April. My hellebores typically bloom in December, with the flowers lasting well into March.

The biggest difference between here and other places I've lived are the wonderful fragrances. My absolute favorite is blooming right now. Everywhere you go the air is heavy with the fragrance of tea olives (Osmanthus fragrans). I have half a dozen planted on the side of my house. It's a delightful fragrance and I've never met anyone who felt that it was overpowering.

My tea olives bloom just about all year. I hear that Spring is the main blooming season, but mine are covered with tiny white flowers right now. If they do bloom as much in Spring, for some reason the fragrance isn't as noticeable. If I look I can usually find a couple of flowers throughout the summer, but not enough to notice.

There are very few things I enjoy more than the smell of tea olives. That's why today, I'm taking a break from being...

The Crotchety Old Man

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dog Poop Redux

I was riding my bike today when I saw a lady walking two Yorkshire Terriers and another little dog--maybe a West Highland White Terrier or something similar. As I rode by, one of the Yorkies took a dump and the owner walked off, leaving it behind. I live for these moments.

Regular readers (if there are any) know that few things tick me off more than an irresponsible pet owner. So I doubled back and asked if she was going to pick it up. She said, "Isn't this a dog park?" It was not a dog park, but a grassy, landscaped median. I told her it was not, and it really didn't matter if it was or not because the city ordinance applies wherever your dog poops.

Then she told me that nobody else picks up, pointing to several piles around her that were clearly too big to have come from one of her little dogs. I told her that didn't matter to me either--that they were in violation of the ordinance just as much as she was. In case she reads this, I would stop and say something to them too if I caught them in the act.

Then she asked me how she was supposed to pick up when she had three dogs and just two hands. Can you believe it??? I again told her that wasn't my concern, but leaving poop behind was a violation of a city ordinance and she needed to pick it up. I suggested that if she wasn't able to take care of her three little dogs, she shouldn't have them.

Then she got mad. She told me she wasn't about to pick up until she saw everyone else picking up. I asked her what her address was so I could turn her in to Animal Control. Of course she wouldn't tell me. As I rode off she was yelling at me about how glad she was to meet me.


Just another reason I'm The Crotchety Old Man

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Share the Road...

Share the Road is one of those ideas that works a lot better for cars than it does for cyclists. I know you've seen the signs. You usually see them on roads that are too narrow for bicycle lanes. Or judging from my experience, maybe you haven't noticed them.

It would help if everyone was required to ride a bicycle at least 3 miles on a busy road that isn't designed for bikers. I know you're thinking I should be on the sidewalk. Some of you even holler at me to get my fat ass on the sidewalk as you drive by. Ha! Been there, done that and just about got killed.

When you ride on the sidewalk, drivers completely ignore you. I got cut off, forcing me to stop fast which caused me to flip over my handle bars. Broke two ribs. The stupid chick that cut me off didn't even see me and never stopped. Nobody else stopped either. Eventually I climbed back on my bike and rode about 2 miles back home. Now I won't ride without a cell phone so I can call someone if something happens.

Since the broken ribs, I ride my bike on the street, including country roads where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour. I know that some bikers will ride side-by-side. I hear that is safer, but too me it's more than a little passive aggressive and just asking for trouble. But that's just me.

I read letters to the editor in the paper just about every week from both sides of the bumper. Drivers complain about bikers not following traffic laws. Ride a mile on my bike and then we'll talk. Yeah, I go through stop signs and red lights on occasion. But that's really the extent of my law-breaking, and it's only when the way is clear and/or there aren't any cars around.

Wish I could say the same for my fellow bikers, especially on campus. Very few wear a helmet which suggests to me they are either really dumb (and therefore, should not be allowed to ride on city streets) or have a death wish (in which case it should be OK to just run them over). Nowadays, quite a few have iPods and MP3 players plugged in. I have an MP3 player and love it. As much as I'd love to listen while riding, I just don't think it's a very good idea.

I see students riding the wrong way in bike lanes, riding on sidewalks where there are bike lanes, and in general riding wherever they feel inclined to ride, safety be damned. The other day I even saw one riding down the street on the wrong side of the road. That's another one with a death wish.

I want to live a long time. That's why I ride my bike in the first place--it's great exercise and I enjoy it more than just about any other form of exercise. So I try to ride as safely as possible. Some drivers would rather risk hitting me than moving out of their lane a little bit to provide a safe distance when they pass. Others will slow down, stay behind me and honk now and then--just to let me know they are there.

With gas prices as they are, more and more people are hopping on bikes. Frankly, I don't have the balls to ride my bike to work. I routinely ride a greater distance so that's not the issue. Bike lanes are only present for a fraction of the trip, and too many drivers are just plain rude. Just another reason you can call me...

The Crotchety Old Man

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fox News Makes My Blood Boil!

I accidentally stopped on Fox News--twice. I need to block it on my set before I have a conniption fit and my head explodes. The same with so called "conservative" talk shows on the radio.

The problem goes beyond bias. The commentators and pundits are mean-spirited bullies. It's fine to disagree with the opinions of others. But calling them names and otherwise taking pot shots and belittling people with different views is anti-American.

I think we should have "truth in broadcasting" laws for news shows that purport to be reporting on the facts. I also believe we should have "truth in campaigning" laws with severe penalties for violators. It's amazing to me that the Republicans apparently believe that if they say it often enough, it's true.

The huge crisis going on with financial markets is a direct result of Republican policies. They are all about deregulation--market forces will root out wrong-doers. They are all about businesses making money, and of course, those profits should not be taxed because that's a disincentive to productivity. Best of all, when these businesses fail because the greed got out of hand, they want us poor taxpayers to bail them out.

The thing that gets me the most is how these so-called conservatives refuse to let facts get in the way of their ill-conceived beliefs. I overhead an elderly couple talking (loudly as they were both more than a little hard of hearing) in the waiting room at the doctor's office a few weeks ago. He said he was terrified Obama was going to get elected and we'd all have to "turn Muslim." I'm guessing they regularly watch Fox and/or listen to crap on the radio like Dennis Miller or Rush Limbaugh.

I couldn't help myself. I said, "excuse me--I couldn't help but overhear--you DO know that Obama is Christian, don't you?" He turned purple and said "I don't want to hear it." God forbid the facts should get in the way of his opinion. I told him that dumbasses like him shouldn't be allowed to vote. Damn! How un-American is that? I should be ashamed...

But I'm not. Instead, I'm still...

The Crotchety Old Man

On Driving in Atlanta

I had to run up to Chattanooga this weekend for business. The 3 hour and 1-minute trip (according to Mapquest) ended up taking us more like 5 hours. We maybe could have timed it better. Night driving is not my cup of tea, so we opted to hit the road as soon as we could rather than wait for Friday afternoon rush hour traffic to ease up. Given that we would be going against traffic for the first part of the trip, we thought traffic would clear out by the time we joined commuters on I-285. Besides, it was a beautiful day for driving with the top down.

If I had to deal with Atlanta traffic to get back and forth to work every day, I'd have more anger issues than Dick Cheney. It's a wonder dozens of commuters don't get shot in the face every day. Even going against traffic we were bumper to bumper, moving at a snail's pace toward the I-285 bypass--and that's in the fast lane going the opposite direction of rush hour traffic.

Getting on the bypass was a cakewalk compared to getting off. Everyone in the left lanes is trying to shift to the right, and everyone in the right lanes is trying to shift to the left. A few even use turn signals. By the time we completed the merge onto I-75, I was wishing for a gun so I could shoot somebody in the face.

I don't know why they bother posting speed limits on any of the interstates around Atlanta. When there is a lot of traffic, you wish you could hit the 40 miles-per-hour posted minimum speed. When there is not as much traffic, if you go the posted speed limit you're going to get blown off the road. I tend to set my cruise control about 5 miles over the posted speed limit. Most traffic whizzes by me. Most are doing 85 or 90--some have to be doing 100.

Where's law enforcement? I keep hearing that tax revenues are down. They could easily make up the difference if they just went after speeders on Atlanta interstates. Throw in the folks that pass on the right, change lanes without signaling, and otherwise drive like they're playing an arcade game and we could easily make up the budget shortfall.

Every time I have to deal with Atlanta traffic, I renew my vow never to return without a court order. Life is too short to spend several hours among thousands of cars, each with a driver happily chatting away on his or her cell phone smoking a cigarette, and refreshing the make-up they put on in the car on the way to work that morning. Having to deal with that kind of traffic is just another reason why I am...

The Crotchety Old Man

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Going to the Doctor

I hate going to the Doctor. It's not the needles, poking, or probing that bother me. It's the flagrant disregard for my time and the underlying assumption that the doctor's time is more valuable than mine.

I'm never late. It's not in me to be anything other than right on time, if not a few minutes early. If it looks like I might be even a minute or two later than expected, I'll call ahead so whoever might be waiting for me knows. It's just common courtesy.

So I arrive a few minutes before my scheduled appointment and sign in with the receptionist. Her only interest in me is whether or not I have insurance. I had a procedure done the last time I went to the doctor and learned that she was also interested in collecting my deductible.

On most visits several pharmaceutical representatives get in to see the doctor before I do. Fifteen to 20 minutes later (and on occasion, as much as 45 minutes later), the nurse calls me back to the examination room. By this time I'm always well on my way to crotchety. I suspect I have abnormally low blood pressure because it's always normal when she checks it.

By now it's at least 60 minutes later than my scheduled appointment and once again, I'm waiting for the doctor. Only now I'm half naked in a room with no magazines that is cold enough to store meat. I can hear the doctor right outside the door. He's discussing something about UFOs from Mars (I'm not making this up--it really happened) with the nurses and pharmaceutical reps. This discussion goes on for about fifteen minutes.

Finally he finally pops in for my appointment, he launches in to a long description of his most recent vacation. He can't tell I'm about ready to blow a fuse, which makes me wonder a bit about his observational skills. You should know that my doctor looks like Randy on "My Name is Earl." That makes it easier for me to ignore anything he might say about my weight. He tells me my lab work came back fine, pokes me a few times, and then tells me to come back in six months.

Even with the vacation update, his time with me rarely exceeds five minutes. My time investment for the same appointment? Something close to two hours. Just another reason they call me...

The Crotchety Old Man

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Up to My Ears in Dog Poop

Why do so many dog owners think it's perfectly OK to leave poop wherever it falls? Our town has at least two different ordinances about picking up after your dog. I don't know why such ordinances are needed. You can do what you want in your own yard but it seems common sense would dictate removal when your dog does his or her duty elsewhere. Given election outcomes, it's evident that common sense has left the building.

I complained to the powers-that-be about my dog poop issues. They were very helpful. According to them I need to catch the offending party in the act, find out where they live and then animal control will give them a warning. Yeah right. They suggested I place signs in my yard encouraging dog walkers to do their duty. I'm going to give that a try but am expecting that the end result will be even more poop.

On occasion I have confronted guilty parties caught in the act. Most look at me like I'm crazy--which may not be far from the truth but we'll leave that for another time. A few offer sheepish grins and promise to do better next time. Just another reason you can call me...

The Crotchety Old Man

About those fundraisers....

As my partner will tell you, I'm a regular viewer of the cable listing menu provided by my crappy cable service. You never know when something interesting is going to turn up on an obscure channel. OK, I admit. It's rare for something interesting to turn up on any channel. Nonetheless, being the eternal optimist that I am, hope springs eternal and I continue searching.

Have you ever noticed that the only time Public Television has something worth watching is when they're trying to raise money? I long ago gave up trying to watch any of these shows. At least with commercial television, the commercials are rarely longer than 60 seconds. The begging on Public Television drones on for 15 an 20 minutes at a time. No thanks.

I made the mistake a while back of donating to a charity for a cause I was happy to support. And so it began. Because of that one little donation I received countless telephone calls and mailings asking for more. I have also made the mistake of contributing to universities on behalf of former professors and colleagues that set up scholarship funds when they retire. I'm happy to support the wishes of these folks, but end up being sorry I did because of all the calls I receive year after year asking for still more.

I now have calls from unknown numbers blocked, and routinely screen my calls to avoid calls from telemarketers. My number is on the National Do Not Call registry, but charities, politicians and pollsters are exempt. That's just another reason you can call me...

The Crotchety Old Man

Anyone Seen Marilyn Decker?

I've searched high and low for a picture of Marilyn Decker. In case you don't know, she's the witch pimping Ultra90 on various radio stations around the country. I probably would not pay any attention to her, but she has one of those Midwestern accents (think Sarah Palin) that grates on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Unlike every male Republican's wet dream Sarah Palin, I imagine Ms. Decker to be as wide as she is tall. I strongly suspect she's blond and a chain-smoker, but that's probably because she sounds just like my ex's mother. If Ultra90 (and the other snake oil sold on the web site) worked, she'd be a real babe and as such, would have her pictures posted everywhere.

Anyone employed as an on-air personality with our local radio station has pimped Ultra90 at one time or another during the past 10 years. The fat ones are still fat. I bet if they asked, listeners would be willing to contribute to a fund to replace whatever advertising revenue these ads generate just so they wouldn't have to hear that voice again. I know I would. Just another reason they call me...

The Crotchety Old Man
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