Friday, February 27, 2009

Gleno v. The Man

Wednesday morning I dragged my sick self out of bed and staggered into Quincy District Court to fight a traffic ticket. This was my second trip there; having attempted to have the ticket rescinded once already, I decided I'd go for the appeal.

I don't think I blogged this, but back in January, whilest commuting into the office, I found myself sitting at a light, three cars back. When the light turned green, the first car went. The second one started to go, then stopped. Not being by nature a particularly patient fellow, I managed to hold off a few seconds before honking my horn as if to say, "Hey! Whatsamatta for you?" At length she looked up, and started to go. I started to go as well. As we were going through, the light turned yellow. As I passed under the yellow light I found a veritable rainbow of other brightly colored lights flashing behind me.

I pulled over.

In short order Officer Friendly was at my door inquiring about my day, making small talk about the weather, and asking if there might possibly be any service he could perform for me, a valued citizen of the Commonwealth.

Actually, no.

Instead, I found myself facing a rather pissed off cop who had little interest in anything I had to say and who promptly wrote me a ticket. He said he was right behind me, though somehow he didn't see the person sitting at the green light for 30 seconds. In his sullen rage, I managed to extract one important piece of information from him: I asked him if the light was red. His answer? "No. But I don't care, you could have stopped."

"Could have stopped?" How about "could have gone!" I already sat through the light once!

He handed me a $100 ticket. Now, remember, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, that $100 is just the start. Your auto insurance goes up every month for the next six years. Oh, by the way price of auto insurance is one of the highest in the country. It's set by the Commonwealth so there is no shopping around for a better deal. There is no Geico here in Mass.
So, as you can tell, this quickly became a sort of "V for Vendetta" sort of a mission for me.

I got to work, flipped over to the back of the ticket and checked off the box labeled ""I request a hearing" (though I really wanted to check the "You bastards will never take me alive" box). I popped the ticket into an envelope, and waited.

A few weeks later, I was in Quincy District Court before a clerk or a magistrate or some other fat slovenly decrepit bureaucrat who should have taken the last round of retirement offers but instead decided to cling onto the public trough for yet another four more years in hopes of getting another 2% of his salary in his retirement package.

But I digress.

I gave him my story, making it clear that Officer Friendly had himself stated the light was not red.

"Cops don't give tickets for yellow lights."

"I know that. That's why I'm here. That's why I request it be rescinded."

"Cops don't give tickets for yellow lights."

Fine, you want to call me a liar, let's go to the mattresses. He told me I could pay right then and there or I could go before a judge on appeal. I took the appeal.

So there I was, Wednesday morning at a quarter of ten sitting on the Group W bench with all sort of mean, nasty, ugly looking people who were there for all sorts of mean, nasty, ugly crimes. There were litterers... father killers... mother rapers... father rapers... In all seriousness, there was this one 20 year old live-at-home kid there who had apparently taken a crowbar to his father's car and had spent a few nights cooling his heels in the Big House.

So I'm there on the Group W bench sweating it out, wondering what I'm going to say to win this thing when the clerk at the front of the room starts announcing names and asking if that person is there. For each name he calls out, the Perp responds. Then, as a sort of echo, a police officer who was there at the scene of the crime sounds off as well. But when he calls my name, there's no cop. Officer Friendly hadn't shown up. He waited twenty minutes and announced my name a second time. Still no Officer Friendly.

"The officer has not appeared today. Therefore, you are found 'Not responsible.'"

No two words have brought me more happiness in quite a long time. "Not responsible." It's a far cry from "Innocent", heck, it's even more insulting than "Guilty", but I'll take it.

Maybe I'll show this state just how Not Responsible I can be.



Monday, February 23, 2009

A Simple Request

This morning, I sent my boss an email requesting a day off and a pony.

He would only agree to the day off.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Support the Arts

In Boston, we're very fortunate to have a lot of street performers and musicians. The T, our subway and bus system, welcomes musicians in the stations and thus, there are many who go there to ply their crafts. I consider it one of life's simplest and most profound privileges to listen to a guy playing a steel guitar, a flute, the keyboards, an upturned bucket, in a train station. I frequently give money to anyone I feel is serious about what they're doing, and I will linger longer than I should to hear them.

Several years ago, there was a rumor going around that the T was going to install television monitors in the train stations that would provide train info and run advertisements. I was approached by a gaggle of Bohemians and hippies toting a petition to prevent it from happening. They were upset that the TV's blare would overwhelm the musicians and prevent them from being heard. I was pretty upset too. But, instead of blindly signing the petition, I pulled out my cell phone and called the T to find out what they were planning.

The agent explained to me that they'd been getting a lot of unnecessary flack from protest groups. Yes, monitors were going to be installed, but that they were not going to have any sound at all. It would be a non-obtrusive video display.I explained this to the gaggle.

I got off the phone and explained this.

The hippies seemed to feel kinda foolish. The Bohemians put down their torches, pitchforks, rakes, and other implements of mass harvestation and sauntered off. I'm not sure if they were more relieved that the musicians were safe or if they were more disappointed to have lost thair cause.

Friday, February 13, 2009

You Say It's Your Birthday?

Hey! It's my birthday too, yeah!

It doesn't happen often, but once again my birthday has fallen on a Friday the 13th. Today I am two-score and one.

Friday the 13th's have always been a sort of unofficial lucky day for me. I remember turning 13 on a Friday the 13th. My family threw me a surprise birthday that really did catch me by surprise and my dad got me a new ten-speed bike. It was great. One of the happiest memories I have.

February, particularly this week in February is a huge birthday time for some reason. It never fails that when I tell people when my birthday is, they always seem to reply, "Hey, my such-n-such's birthday is the 12th/13th/14th/15th too!" I don't know why it's such a big month for births. My guess is it that it's nine months after the previous spring. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Not sure what's in store for me for my birthday. I think we're going to have a family party at my sister's house tomorrow. My mom's birthday is the 24th, so we may do a dual celebration. (Both of my grandmother's birthdays were the 25th of February too. See what I mean?)

Janet bought me the first four seasons of Lost on DVD and gave it to me a few days early. I was griping that the Sci Fi channel had been playing it, but they seemed to misname a few episodes and skip a few others. I was bummed because there a was a big hole in my understanding of some of the plot. At first I was annoyed that she had spent money on a TV show, but as I started watching them, I grew more and more grateful. I hate when we spend money, especially when it's on me.

You know, my birthday always makes me crave chocolate cake. I think I'm going to see if I can find some somewhere.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Bed

Yes, this is another post about food. Please bear with me. Food is important to me. I enjoy food. In fact, I enjoy food so much that I could pretty much live on it. If all you gave me to eat for the rest of my life was food, I could survive. OK, and maybe something to drink. But that's it.

If you're like me, you enjoy Chinese food. Now, we all pretty much know that "Chinese food" a more of a blurred reflection of Chinese cuisine with a very Americanized twist. But if you love it, you love it nonetheless.

There is one phenomena that, at least from where I sit, seems to remain true about Chinese restaurants and I wonder if you've seen it as well. That is, when a Chinese restaurant opens, it's great. The food is tastey, the vegetables fresh, the fried foods are crisp, and the fortune cookies say wonderful things like, "You will discover a big pile of money in your sock drawer."

However, give the joint a year and you begin to notice a downward slide in quality. Things don't seem quite as fresh as they once did, the food is mushier, less flavorful, and they give you that barely discernable sigh of annoyance when you ask for an extra little tub of duck sauce.

By year two, you've found somewhere else to get your Chinese food from. Then comes that one day when you're just craving beef teriyaki and they are the only place that delivers. So you order from them once more. It arrives. You eat. And you realize why you stopped going there. You never order from there again. In six to eight months, the place changes hands, puts up a new sign, and the cycle repeats.

I think Chinese food joints have about a one year half life. What do you guys think?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Where's the Outrage??

Once again, I feel the oppressive foot of government upon my throat. I've been storming around the house for a week now grumbling about the government that we've all succumbed to. Where's the outrage?

Once upon a time, there was a little country that was founded by people who were tired of a far away government meddling in the fabric of their lives. They were outraged. When the Tea Act of 1773 was passed by the British Parliament, it actually had the effect of lowering tea prices in the colonies. However, just the suspicion that the Crown was messing with their freedom was enough to set off the Boston Tea Party.

Think about that for a moment. Government interference with the lives of people to help them angered the patriots of the colonies.

Let's look at the "help" our government has been offering us more recently:

Obama and company are seeking a 835 billion dollar spending package to "help" the economy. Who's going to pay for that? Me. And why do I have to pay money to people and companies who FAILED to be proper stewards of what they had in the first place?! I'll tell you what, you let me keep my "contribution" to the stimulus package and let me stimulate my own family. Let me invest that money in the company my wife is attempting to get started. Let the fools who brought about their own demise bail themselves out.
"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one...." --James Madison

Where's the outrage?!

Gov. Duvall Patrick is currently seeking a $.26 gas tax. A GAS TAX?? The economy is crumbling beneath us and he wants to increase the cost of our primary energy source by twenty-six cents a gallon? If a foreign power tried to do this to us, we'd consider it an act of war. I guess that must make his move an act of treason.

Where's the outrage?!

Last evening, my tax preparer had to file additional paperwork in order to prove to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that I have health insurance. Hello? How is governing a state in any way, shape, or form related to whether or not I have health insurance? If I decide not to have health insurance or cannot afford it, where does the state get off fining me for my choice. "Free country" my ass.

Where's the outrage?!

In order to declare my newborn son as a legal dependent, he has to have a Social Security number. I can't file my taxes until I get one for him. Pardon me? What does my son's retirement have to do with the money I am owed by the Federal government? Why are we standing by and allowing our Social Security numbers to be used as a personal identification number. When was the government granted the authority to brand us all with a number? What angers me more than anything is that the majority of people who read this will wonder what is wrong with me and why I'm not keeping my mouth shut and doing as the government tells me.

If someone knocked on your door in 1788 and told you that you had to provide proof that your children existed so the government could assign a number to them and keep tabs on them for their entire life, you'd load your musket and shoot them in the face. Why is it different today?!

Where is the outrage!?

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Checkup

Stop me if you've heard this one.

A man goes to his doctor for a checkup. After examining him thoroughly, the doctor says, "John, you're in surprisingly good health. You're fit, you're strong, and all your blood work came back great. You've got the body of a 35 year old man. Just how old are you anyway?"

"I'm 76," John replies.

"That's amazing!" exclaims the doctor. "What do you do to stay so fit?"

"Well," John explains, "I get up ever day before dawn, I head out up the mountain, and I go turkey huntin'."

The doctor rubs his chin thoughtfully and says, "That certainly is good exercise, but there must be more to it than that. I'd bet you've got really good genes. Tell me, how old was your father when he died?"

"Who said he was dead?" retorted John.

"You're dad's still alive? How old is he?" the doctor asks.

"He's 97."

"Your dad's 97? Wow! That's great. What is his secret?"

"Well, every morning he gets up before dawn, we walk up the mountain together, and we go turkey huntin'."

The doctor is absolutely amazed. "That's incredible. Your dad is 97 years old and he goes turkey hunting with you? That's -- that's just incredible. You must have incredible genes in your family. Tell me, how old was your grandfather when he died?"

"Who said he was dead?" replies John dispassionately.

"What!? Your grandfather is still alive?"


"How old is he?"

"He's 118 years old."

"What?!" exclaims the startled doctor. "Come on! I'll bet next you're going to tell me he went turkey hunting with you this morning."

"Nope. He couldn't. He was getting married this morning."

The doctor is bewildered and says, "Getting married? Why in the world would a 118 year old man want to get married?"

"Who said he wanted to?"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Are You Real?

If you've ever posted a comment or a website (perhaps even on this one) you may have been required to prove that you are indeed human. Many websites, Blogspot included, require that anyone posting to them verify that they are a real person and not a "bot."

Wikipedia describes bots (or web bots) as programs written to run automated tasks on the Internet, repetitively, and much more quickly than a human could. Unfortunately, such programs are often nuisances, spamming websites with advertisements.

One of the most common means websites use to test the non-artificialness of your intelligence is to require you to enter a series of characters into a field. Usually those characters are blurry and partially obscured so that a bot cannot pass the test. This then proves that you are a real person and allows you to post to the site. Sometimes the characters you are asked to enter are a real word. Often, it is just a string of random characters.

I often post comments and such to websites and I've been asked to prove I am a real person many, many times. It occurred to me that some of these random strings of characters, though not (yet) words, were worthy of having definitions. I decided to compile a list of the confirmation strings with which my humanity has been challenged and to provide a suitable definition for them. Here is the list thus far:

dheatio - Sex with people who are on fire.

itlyssi - A very small country that appears on maps as a small bunion on the toe of Italy's boot.

sonati - A form of opera, sung in Japanese, and performed entirely inside a small moving vehicle.

peringl - A clear sparkling wine made from the juice of squeeezed birds.

nereglu - A primitive dwelling made by some African tribes from blocks of ice.

outog - The realization that you're really not going to clean those fish anyway and you might as well throw them back.

nonsions - Excuses or apologies made to your boss or spouse that were completely unnecessary and that, rather than exonerating you, have the effect of making you appear guilty of something they had not previously considered.

aymerns - A verbal response intended to convey agreement, spoken by people who are half asleep in church.

nomacinc - A brand name dietary supplement taken by those who spend significant time wandering in the desert.

lutoggl - The act of bursting into laughter while playing the clarinet or other wind instrument.

facksis - A contusion of the back or shoulders caused by a sudden violent assult by one's sibling when you were not looking.

sprove - To throroughly analyse the facts of a situation and to then render a conclusion that is clear to everyone else as being a complete crock of crap.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I've Been (Extreme) Right So Far...

Last month, in my sagely post entitled "Great firsts in American History" I predicted that the Obama regime was going to be one of, if not the most corrupt presidencies in our country's history. Only a few short weeks into his tenure, let's take a quick look to see how my forecast is doing:

Let's start at the beginning, in fact, even before his presidential term had begun, we found ourselves whipped by the political gusts coming out of the Windy City as Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was charged with trying to sell Obama's vacated Senate seat. Blagojevich is likely headed to jail in the near term for his actions. Now, even I can't blame Obama for this little criminal fiasco; however, I think it makes a nice backdrop to frame the political environment that Obama comes from. He may not be culpable, but it goes a long way to show us what sort of people he's accustomed to working with.

And so we skip a head a few weeks to the nomination process of Obama's cabinet appointees. I quote columnist Cal Thomas here:
[Tom] Daschle's problems are more than a 'speed bump,' as one of his defenders called it. They constitute a large and growing sinkhole for this administration. Most presidents encounter difficulties with possibly one cabinet nominee or other high-level official, but Obama has had three in less than a month. Daschle could have been confirmed, given the Senate's Democratic majority, but it appears someone showed him the door rather than add to Obama's difficulties in cleaning up Washington.

Three cabinet appointees in less than a month went down in flames.
  • New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, withdrew when his confirmation appeared headed toward complications because of a grand jury investigation over how state contracts were issued to political donors.
  • Nancy Killefer, nominated to be Chief Performance Officer, withdrew herself from consideration due to tax problems.
  • Former Sen. Tom Daschle, nominated for Secretary of Health & Human Services, withdrew himsef from consideration due to tax problems and conflicts of interest.
  • Timothy Geithner was confirmed as treasury secretary, but only after days of controversy over the fact that he had only belatedly paid $34,000 in income taxes.

This little snippet I found in a number of news sources made me chuckle:

Obama took no questions Tuesday after announcing his choice of Sen. Judd Gregg to be commerce secretary. He left the White House lectern ignoring a shouted question about why so many of his nominees have tax problems.

Now, while you're there bringing up whatever cases you may remember akin to these that occurred during the Bush administration, let me remind you that Obama has only been in office a mere three weeks. And while the Democrats rightly decried any hint of corruption in Bush's administration, they've described the lying and cheating that Tom Daschle was involved in as "sad and unfortunate."

Sad. Very sad.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Imperialist Taxation: We're Being Used

This one is just rich. Today,, a website owned by that liberal media mecca, The Boston Globe, is reporting that the Commonwealth is trying to enforce its 5% sales tax on other states by means of what is called a "Use Tax."

A Use Tax is a sort of excise tax levied, not based on the sale, but based on the fact that you own an item. Here in Massachusetts, we're accustomed to paying an annual excise tax on our cars. Which means, you pay a tax on the car you own, the gas you fill it up with, the roads you drive on, and the license you have to obtain to drive it. You also have to pay a tax to have it inspected and a tax to put a license plate on it. If you should happen to not have enough money to do any of these last three things, don't worry, you will be pulled over and fined an additional amount of money for not having the money for the other things.

But I digress.

Now they're trying to force a chain store that sells tires in New England to apply the state sales tax on people from Massachusetts who buy tires in New Hampshire. Town Faire Tire Centers is fighting back with a lawsuit against the Commonwealth, seeking relief against a new fascist policy that is patently offensive.

In years past, towns along and near the New Hampshire border have petitioned the Commonwealth for a waiver of sales tax to enable to compete with merchants who have been attracting Massachusetts residents over the border to do their shopping in "Tax Free New Hampshire," as it is advertised. However, it looks like the Mass-Holes running the show here have taken that idea one better. Rather than pulling back its curtain of taxation along the border, they've decided to use it to invade New Hampshire.

This is nothing short of despicable. If this doesn't piss you off, then, frankly, my friend, you don't have American blood in your veins. My first reaction to reading this article was to whip out a copy of the Constitution of the United States and... (what do you mean? You don't keep a copy of the Constitution with you?? You pinko)... and do some checking to see if this was even permissible. I was astonished to see that there was nothing preventing it. While Article I section 10 did give me some hope, as I looked at it closely, it did not restrict this sort of shannanigan. In fact, Wikipedia's examination of the topic provided further evidence that this sort of thing isn't without precedent.

So what do we do?

Well, for one, call your local soviet, er, I mean legislator and read him the riot act. Make it clear you're holding him personally responsible. Then if you're buying something out of state, don't use a credit card. Don't show any ID at all. Use cash.

While liberals like Obama are calling for tax cuts for the middle class to help save the economy. Gov. Patrick is here at home sucking up more taxes. He just initiated a tax on candy, snacks, and tonic (Pop, for those of you who don't know), and he's moving to raise taxes on gasoline. Raise the tax gasoline? Is he freaking insane?!

For crying out loud folks, make some damn noise. When those of us living in the People's Republic of Massachusetts going to get fed up??

Monday, February 2, 2009

Random News

No rant today, and no stories. Just a bit if rambling about my day.

Today started at 12am for me, like for most people. I had just finished watching the Superbowl with a pile of large hungry friends. Geesh, what an array of galoops. Ugly could cite the stats each player had in high school, while Rono showed up not even knowing who was playing. My apologies to the girls from Boston Baptist College who arrived just in time to hear the F-bombs commence. Janet made a spectacular array of dishes. Beef Stew; some sort of triangular filo pastries filled with sausage and cheese; and an amazing appetizer that contained citrus juices, fruit slices, shrimp and scallops. ZOMG. I'm still full.

The Cardinals made a fanastic comeback only to fail at the very point I said would be the deciding factor: their secondary. How could you NOT expect a jump-ball toss to the back corner of the end zone? What were you thinking??

I got to bed at 2:30am and awoke at 7:15am to make my way into court. Yes, I had a court date to fight a traffic ticket. Three months ago, I was given a ticket for running a red light. The problem being, both me and the cop agreed the light never turned red. What had actually happened was that car in front of me stopped in the middle of the intersection inexplicably. I was sitting there behind him wondering what the heck was going on. Just as we finally got moving, the light turned yellow. A cop pulled me over for it. I was flabbergasted. I wasn't at fault and I certainly wasn't going to sit in the middle of traffic waiting for the light to change. So what does the magistrate tell me? "Police don't give tickets for yellow lights." No kidding, that's why was I was there! I explained that the cop himself admitted to me at the time that the light was yellow.

"Police don't give tickets for yellow lights." Screw it. I'm still fighting it. I told them to give me another court date before a judge. I'm not going to pay a fine for something I didn't do.