Monday, September 18, 2017

Don't Protest Shame Me Bro

Ramblings Post #340
I am, in case this is your first time reading, a Dallas Cowboy fan. Long time fan. Die Hard. When the Cowboys lose don't talk to me the next day  type of fan (see Broncos game). Let Dez score a TD or Zeke break a big run and suddenly "We going to the Superbowl" type of fan. And I realize that the NFL is flawed. I am fully cognizant. Rich old guys own the teams, young black people play. Completely aware. But I grew up in the South. I grew up when one of the most popular shows on TV featured a car with a confederate battle flag on top. I grew up in a town where they had a moment to fallen to the fallen southern soldiers in the town square. And because I was raised bathed in an almost casual racism, I don't see quite the way many others do. It's doesn't mean I'm not mad, it just means I've learned to endure differently. And that's okay. 

Apparently if I'm not completely and totally outraged enough to sit-in, stand-in, go on a hunger strike, chew rocks and march on Washington because (fill in the racial issue of your choice), them I'm a collaborating appeasing self hating respectability politics believing motherfucker and I'm not woke or really down for the struggle. What. The. Fuck. Ever. Because what I am is a grown ass man and I'm of the opinion that if your answer to every injury is burn it all down then I think you're not REALLY listening to what's being said. So, let's clear this up. Am I upset about police brutality and do I want to end the policies where police officers are not being punished for overstepping their authority or committing crimes? Yes, of course I am. Do I think Colin Kaepernick not only had a right to protest, that he did it in a way that was highly visible but not especially disruptive? Yes, it was a brilliant concept. Am I also watching pro football this season? You goddamned right I am. Because while Colin Kaepernick is a stalwart man of purpose and vision who believes in standing up for what he believes in, his protest was to bring attention to his issue. At no point did he say he wasn't willing to play. 

Now, does Kaepernick deserve a shot in the NFL? Considering his QB rating last season, around 90, and the current ratings of some of the starting QBs playing in the league, around 70 or below, then the logic says yes, he should have gotten a shot. Considering the play so far, some GM SHOULD be digging through their trash can right now looking for his number.  

But then, this is football. And if you know how football works, it's not simply how the numbers stack up because if it was there is no way to explain how all those castoffs and rejects end up doing all that winning up in Foxboro. Football judgement is murky, a custom combination of those numbers, a GM or coaches gut feelings, some arcane magic, blind luck and a unwavering belief that a players primary interest in football and football only. Not to diminish Kaepernick's stance, but we're talking about a league that dinged an high potential player who expressed a desire to pursue his opportunity to be a Rhodes scholar in the off season. Kaepernick is a very upfront social activist. Asking a team to hire a player deeply concerned about a social issue that they can't exploit AND who angers a great deal of their most loyal customer base is asking a lot.  

But however, just a a few games into the new season, some of these teams are going to have to make a decision even Kaepernick doesn't have to make: Principle or winning. I don't know how to explain this to a non-fan. Winning fixes a lot. Winners get a great deal of leeway. There are dyed-in-the-wool-name-their-child-Robert-E-Lee-fill-in-their-last-name racists in the south who punch the local sheriff in the mouth if he even thought about arresting the local black star athlete who ensures that his team WINS GAMES for anything less than...well, that's a pretty wide slot right there. Hell, murder is not even a lock if a championship is on the line. But you have TO WIN. And although Kaepernick statistically is a better quarterback than more than few guys who have jobs at this point in the season, unless he's guaranteed to put W's on the board, thereby mitigating they social backlash from their socially unaware season ticket holders (and there are apparently a lot of them) it becomes a tricky question for the Owner and GM. Bring in a better QB (Kap), piss off the fan base and hope he wins games, Or stick to their asinine principle, continue to lose and lose the fan base anyway?    

Money is a powerful thing. But it has no conscience. And no memory. 

I'm of the opinion that a few more games in or the someone else gets hurt and somebody will be desperate enough to have to re-prioritize (see Bengals). The slump in TV ratings and the empty stadiums will only speed things along, provided that the league can package their capitulation properly. And then the rubber meets the road and Kap better win, or then we've got a whole new problem. Would we be just as outraged he couldn't find a job...if he was subpar? Now there is an interesting question. 

I'm not against protesting. And I damn sure don't think Kaepernick should have stuck to sports, after all nobody is telling J.J. Watt to stick to sports. (By the way, Watt is admirable for using his platform to help out hurricane victims - Just like Kap is trying to help his people. Kap started something there.) But protest fatigue is a very real thing. It's hard not to get overwhelmed when it seems like a never ending onslaught. This one, this particular protest, is just not for me. But, let's be clear, here. Should we protest when we as a people are injured by institutional racism and those whose ingrained biases distort their vision of our reality? Hell yes. Every single infraction? Bruh, there isn't that much time. 

Barkeep. I'll not need my protesting libations today. But keep them handy.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Realities in Government : A Critique

This is a political post. 

One of the problems with government running as a business is the business at it's core it is supposed to be designed to maximize and react quickly to changes in it's operational theater. By contrast professional government exists as a kind of national insurance policy - financial, medical, military - required in it's purpose to maintain reserves so that it can mitigate misfortune and disaster and is designed to change slowly. Lost in the shuffle of response, rescue and rebuild is the reality that just before Hurricane Harvey struck, the Republican led Congress was about to gut $900 million dollars out of the budget of country's national disaster response organization - FEMA - using that always prudent (at least to them) kind of thinking that "well, the money is just sitting there," and putting it towards The Wall, the new administration's idea of how border security is supposed to look. It's as though  to them the term "natural disaster" only appeared in CGI heavy movies full of split second escapes made by crazy directors. Then, Hurricane Harvey made that unexpected shift and devastated the city of Houston. And last weekend Irma made Disneyworld close for like the fifth time, ever. 

And our glorious Republican leaders have responded to this massive disruption of life, stability and loss of property,....by suggesting a tax cut?

Well color me surprised.

But then these are people who swore that government was so wasteful, but seemed determined to treat it like a unlimited charge card and free advertising platform while attempting to destroy so much of it we have no choice but to try something else. It's like the captain of the Titanic purposely ramming the iceberg because using lifeboats will prove who the real men are. This is who is running the country now.

I have long been of the opinion that business and government are fundamentally different, have diverging purposes, and the techniques of success in one cannot be applied wholesale to the other. And very soon we it will become evident to everyone but the most fervent of believers that the reduction in government oversight on a massive scale and the reduction of taxes, instead of a creating a capitalistic libertarian utopia, is almost certain to birth a national version of what happened in Kentucky, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. The less government/less taxes mantra has left a trail of busted budgets, reduction in basic services, and living for some a lot more harsh than even their grandparents remember from the Great Depression. And now we're going to try it on a national scale. My question is what would be enough for them to admit they made an error in judgement? How do you jibe a 50+ billion dollar increase in outflows (military spending) with a reduction in inflows (taxes)? Not one of the current ruling party seems to remember that the Great America they want to get back to, where rampant oppression for everyone not them was a common as kudzu, happened during the absolute highest levels of taxation ever. I'm not even going to get into the political realities of rights and changes in the social atmosphere since then.

And once the hard reality hits that these same people have redrawn the voting districts so that the scoundrels can't even be voted out? Even when they've turned on themselves. We won't even be a representative Republic anymore, much less a democracy. I mean, does anyone else find it interesting that the party in power is working harder to make sure people can't vote than it is to get folks to actually want to vote for them. Just me? Okay, just me.

In it's purest form, running a business is like managing a sports team. Management of the enterprise is a constantly shifting combination of practical experience and gut feeling resulting in a odd mix of proven entities and hoped for future production assets where additions and terminations are regular occurrences and expected by all participants.  Government has to run more like a family - in that a great of those things necessary for continued existence are fixed over time, additions are usually limited, depleted assets must be maintained because that's what you do. Moreover, it does and should takes a great deal of soul searching and agonizing before to committing to drastic action because the consequences cannot be avoided. We are America the family. Not America the sports team.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

And thus ends the road production of the Great White Hype

Ramblings Post #339
There is thing, this feeling that you've been somewhere before or done something before called Deja vu. I sometimes get it when I get invited to a thing and I'm a little nervous but when I pull up realize that not only have I been there before but I had a great time. That feeling that this isn't wholly original...

When it was announced, I was inclined to believe that MMA fighter in the heart of his career could beat a retired boxer. But then I didn't really pay attention to it because I don't really watch MMA and boxing stopped being exciting once the Eastern European man mountains got their hands on the heavyweight title. To me, MMA was always the sport of people who think waiting at red light means pickup your cell phone - people who expect to be entertained every second without having to think about it. Not that there isn't tremendous skill in MMA, it's just that the format doesn't lend itself to long form strategy - it's really an all-in sport every outing. In contrast, boxing requires "thinking long." And while I can appreciate the smaller weight classes and the talent within, for this kid of another age I've always viewed the heavyweights as the big draw - and the dominance out by the Klitschkos sucked the excitement out of the room.

shot by photographer Idris Elba for Mayweather Prod.
But back to this fight - Money Mayweather, a undefeated boxer of great skill, versus the human form of the Tasmanian Devil in the form of Connor McGregor. Mayweather a champion whose fights weren't quite the draw they used to be fighting a Irishman who had never boxed professionally before. And suddenly it struck me - I'd already seen this movie starring Samuel L. Jackson. And I'll be damned if that movie's scheme didn't work again - only this time in real life.

The Great White Hype (1996) is a film starring the aforementioned Sam Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Jamie Foxx and Damon Wayans as the heavyweight champion of the world. Only this champ is so good his fights are boring and no one wants to wants to watch anymore. His manager the Sultan, played by Sam Jackson, with his back against the wall recalls that the most profitable fight in history was Holmes v Cooney, even as he proclaims "Cooney's jab couldn't even break wind." Thus the Sultan promises the champ that he'll find him a white boxing opponent, and if he can't find one he'll create one. Thus is birthed Mayweather vs. McGregor, er, sorry Roper v. Conklin, where here Conklin is the last person the champ lost to in his amateur days. Sultan finagles a title shot for Conklin, nicknames him Irish Terry Conklin and before the dust can settle the seats and pay-per-view are selling like hot cakes.

Sound familiar, doesn't it?

Now, while Mayweather didn't show up for the fight overweight and smoking in the corner between rounds like the champ in the Great White Hype, in his own way he didn't take the fight seriously. Oh, he trained, but then training is what he does really, with the one night fight events really more interruptions. No, training is Mayweather's job and he's good at it. And I don't mean the pre-fight head massage because well, hell, I'd like a pre-anything head massage so more power to him. I say he didn't take the fight seriously because of something I heard on ESPN the next morning. As the announcers sat around one reported that the day of the fight - around 4pm - Mayweather visited a local casino and tried to place a bet on himself. This is not as crazy as it sounds. He thinks he's gonna win, he's going to try to win, the money is green, so why not? Only it wasn't a straight bet, Mayweather tried to place a bet that he'd win the fight in nine and half rounds.

Now,  when they called it,  McGregor is despite what he said later in the locker room interview, is clearly almost out on his feet. He's weaving, he can't really defend himself and he's about to take another almost two minutes of damage. In the NINTH round.The exact round Mayweather tried to place a bet on him winning. The announcer indicated that had the casino let him place it, Mayweather would have won the bet by about thirty seconds. This is why you don't normally let athletes bet on themselves.

Now, I'm not saying the fight was fixed. In the movie Conklin really thought he could win, and I'm certain McGregor was pretty sure he could pull off the upset was well. He is a proud, game fighter, who was winning the early rounds. But even before I knew what I know now I was of the opinion that the longer the fight lasted the better Mayweather's chances. MMA fights are intense but shorter, and I didn't think McGregor had enough time to build up his endurance, which is crucial to boxing. But it seems like Floyd has the sweet science down to well, a science.

And thus end's the road production of the Great White Hype. We applaud Floyd Mayweather in his deal roles of Sultan and champ. Tax problems goodbye.

Barkeep, I'll need a bottle of your cheapest champagne...and funnel. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

The White House and the KKK

This is a political post. 

I used to have conversations with Hardcore Black Progressives who were upset that Obama had not done more specifically for black people. They would say that he should do this, or he should have done that, as though they imagined the  election of the first black president should have made all blacks the elites of society and completely reversed racism. And I would pragmatically counter and remind them that Obama wasn't voted to be the President of Black people, but the President of the All Americans and he just happened to be black. He didn't really have the option of just being the President to his base, but then no President does. Once we give you the chair, you have to work for those who voted for you...and those who didn't. And I think that someone needs to inform the current guy sitting in the Oval Office of that reality.

Cheeto saying that there is blame on both sides  in Charlottesville is a little like saying the young coed in the horror movie had a bat, so the clown mask wearing axe murderer who just killed everyone in the summer camp is completely justified trying to decapitate her - she's just as at fault as she is. And that's about as flawed as argument as you can make. And no Cheeto, there were no "good people" out there with the Neo-nazis. By definition people who think Hitler not only did nothing wrong but idolize him are NOT good people. We, meaning the whole world, took a vote and the people with swastikas lost. AND...People who side or chose to associate with unashamed Neo-Nazis are also NOT "good people." They didn't end up over there by accident. They didn't miss seeing the Nazi flags or "protestors" who showed in body armor. They made a conscious decision to side with people who believe in genocide. Good? I don't think you're using that word right.   

Side note - Quick Question? Why is Jared still there? I mean, Jesus, his father in law supports people who want him to not exist. Jared, the man who Trump thinks can single-handedly replace the State Department, boost the economy and makes the world's best guacamole. Why hasn't he packed up and moved by New York? Where is his self respect? Without him, the whole thing falls apart, and Cheeto hasn't got his back? Wow.   

I am well aware that this would be Cheeto attacking his hardcore base. But when your hardcore base, those who would support him "even if he shot somebody on Broadway in broad daylight," turn out to people who follow the same ideology of people the rest of us fought a war against just a generation or so ago, you might want to take a long hard look at yourself. This is beyond conservative. Even the most conservatives of conservatives - McConnell and Romney disagree with you. I'm almost certain a large number of people who voted for him in November are trying not to watch the news right now, because denial is terrible thing. I don't know anyone who enjoys being wrong, and I think if that blaming both sides is his final answer, well, a lot of people got it wrong.

Getting rid of Bannon, a man who is a real life overweight Joker come to life, is a good first step. But since Cheeto is ultimately a self promoting narcissistic but ultimately under qualified person to hold the office the President, and entirely too full of himself to ever understand that, I'm not sure what the next step is. Impeachment? Resignation? I think not. Honestly Pence would be worse, because unlike his boss, he knows what he's doing. All those things we are terrified Cheeto might do, Pence would actually get done. This maybe a situation where, and I realize this is a weird idea, but you leave the incompetent demon in place just because he's so incompetent. I mean, he couldn't pass his healthcare rollback and his party owns the government.

With luck, by the midterms he'll have pissed off so many folks he loses his lock majority, and by the next election even outside interference won't be able to save him. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nazis and the Old South

This is a political post 

We're here now? Seriously? What the actual fuck?

If you don't know, and you should by now, in Charlottesville VA people who consider themselves the oppressed, white males, gathered together and marched while shouting....er, Nazi slogans and giving the salute that literally gets you jail time in Germany. In a supposed protest against the removal of a statue of a person who was an actual traitor to this country. We're living in one of those crackpot alternate word books right now, we have to be, and I think if we all get together and chant the right words we can get back to a place where common sense is in charge. I say that because what I just wrote is completely true but makes no actual sense.

And then, as if to add butter on the already burnt popcorn, the President's statement was the mealy mouthed political equivalent of the teacher handing out a reprimand for fighting to the both you and the bully who jumped you, because reasons. (This is also the political equivalent of the bully being the teacher's child, or at least nephew.) Someone tell the orange one there is not hate "on many sides," just the side that showed up a "peaceful" rally carrying torches, shouting slogans that give old men night sweats and toting weapons.
The new No Hoods option

I don't even want to get into why there were no police in riot gear on hand. Or why the cops just seemed to stand around and watch. When six black people get together to protest you get SWAT teams. In Ferguson MO, when black people tried to peacefully protest the failure to charge an officer with murder or even investigate the circumstances, the National Guard was called out and they were met with tanks. Because protesting unlawfulness by the people who are supposed to keep the law should be like a thing. But when white people stand in the streets protesting the removal of a statue of a traitor to the country, shouting the slogans of a group that wanted to destroy America, well, it's just something that happens, right? The cops just mull about, if they show up at all. In my opinion, it's this casualness that lead to the circumstances of Heather Heyer's death. But I'm gonna stop there, and I'll leave that to others to fight.

Are we seriously here? I used to think that Obama's presidency and the dawn of the true ascendancy of the black man (and woman) had just uncovered the long simmering and festering hatred from 1950s we'd been unable to eradicate through education, integration, civil rights laws and television. Well, if you're from the South, since last Tuesday, but you get the idea. But now I see it's much worse, because in the 1950s they may have been racist, but at least they hated Nazis. Now they want to be Nazis? Jesus, this is suddenly the 1930s but with internet.

I'm not sure where this going, but as a kid I wonder how those people who fought for my rights did it, how they found the courage and the strength. So, I guess I get to find out.

 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The New Office Odd Couple

Ramblings Post #338
Work. I want to say something profound and memorable, but all I can muster is "There must be more than this. Isn't there?" I realize you can't chase your dreams forever, but I'm of the opinion you can still walk slowly in their direction while you keep your eye on the important things. Depending on how you define important things.  

One of the things about being a freelance ranch hand is that you keep running into characters. I'm talking about fellow Ranch Hands who apparently ride the range because they're just a little too bronco to bust, they ride rough in a world with smooth edges, or they just don't fit in anywhere else. These are people who either make you happy or dread heading out onto the spread. It is from those people you get the best stories, who with you have the most interesting experiences, and who create those moments that make you consider the priesthood.

For the purposes of these recitations I shall call this pair Shotgun Minnie and Pecos Slim.

When I moved to the big new ranch, I didn't move alone. A few of us rode up north, and among them were these two. Both of them are like me, long time Ranch hands with lots of miles under the belt, and how they ended up out here freelancing like me I refuse to ask. I've seen Pecos Slim turn down a spot in a law practice and Shotgun Minne says she used to do work all over the state. I'm freelancing because this is just where I am right now. They apparently have other views. But the two of them couldn't be more opposite.

Pecos is a middle aged guy like me, maybe a little younger, who worked at big Ranch until he just decided he didn't want to do that anymore - something that happens but nobody talks about. He holds himself out as a GQ type, and a bit of a rake, and to my honest surprise seems to do okay with the ladies. Maybe he's more charming to people with nice thighs? He eats healthy and works out a lot, sometimes twice a day, so maybe that's it? But he's also very thin skinned, wanting things his way always, as evidenced by the time I pointed out to him he was thin skinned and he nearly went ballistic. That and his declaration that his latest gym sucks, not because the equipment is bad or being too crowded, but that he can't get a wifi signal and I should have know that's the most important part of working out.

Shotgun Minnie by contrast is a older white female and may actually be the text book definition of the term "piece of work." She openly admits she thinks the word 'budget' is how you say get your buddies together in French and may have seen every single local band to play Atlanta in the last two years. Every single band. I'm not kidding. She also once asked to take a day off because she read online that a local singer she saw ten years previously had died and she needed to process it. At the old spread she would find an excuse to leave early every single day, such a doctor's appointment or something she has to pickup or something she has to do, which is odd because she also disappeared for hours at a time when she claimed she was there. If it rained she went home for the day. She told me that she preferred to go grocery shopping at 3am the day we got paid and she once sold me a commemorative coaster to get gas money.

Both of these people are firm believers that they are God's gift to the world.

At the previous spread their interaction was limited. Back down south, myself and the "trail boss" worked with Shotgun Minnie on a daily basis, trading off who would help her when she called for assistance. For everything. The running under/over for calls for assistance was six, but I think Minne beat it everyday (we're cowhands, not bookies). Pecos Slim and I shared an office, but he would arrive and put on his headphones and pretend nobody else was there. Several times a day however, he would suddenly ask a question out of the blue, usually about a news article he'd just seen online or something existential. Then get peeved if we didn't understand.  

At the new Ranch however, well, then get on Abbot and Costello. Like Crosby and Hope. Like a mismatched Cheech and Chong. Pecos still puts on his headphones, but he seems to take joy in needling Shotgun Annie about her inability to stay at her desk so he has them off more often. We counted one day and were able to get to 14. Also, this new spot requires a full eight hours, something foreign to her, and Pecos Slim doesn't seem to want to let her forget that either. Then, he talks about popular urban culture to her as though she knows what he's talking about, and holding her own she talks to him about local bands and clubs she's trying to go to in the future like he's trying to tag along. The, um, long time local ranch hand who we've been paired with and who looks like she's always laser work focused told me that she thinks the two of them are a hoot.

***

I'm not sure how to take that.

Barkeep. Some of that old Snake Eyes and some ice water. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Go...um, go Tennis?

Ramblings Post #337
The something about sport. It transcends a lot. People who can't stand each other will come together for sport. People who don't know each other will come together for THE game, whatever it maybe. As long as the common element - the home team- is winning. Winning hide flaws and quells fears. Losing however is the devil's tool shed.  

First, at the new "Ranch" they put Wimbledon up on the big screen around mid-day on Monday, so the whole office could watch. I've worked a lot of places, and I can't really think of any place else that ever did something like this. Normally a big game or event might be shown in the break area and if you were willing to catch the evil eye from your manager for thinking about something than barge lifting or bale toting, you could enjoy for few minutes. But this setup let people at their desks could literally stop and just watch for a while. We discussed rankings, shot selection, serve speeds. I'm not sure if this type of stuff is supposed to happen in a professional environment.

At some point I started rooting for Mueller, because the crowd kept cheering for Nadal.

When I broke for lunch, #4 Rafael Nadal was down two sets and I thought it over. Way underdog #16 Gilles Mueller was on his game and I figured even if Nadal surged late, the Luxembourger could weather it and close it out in short order. Your guy went to lunch, had a lovely custom made garden salad with roast chicken flavored with a able honey mustard dressing, and took a few moments to enjoy the afternoon breeze on the veranda. When I came back Nadal may as well have been running up the steps in Philadelphia while the Eye of the Tiger jamming though the speakers. As comebacks go, this one was shaping up to be epic, man versus man in the harsh and unforgiving English Savannah of the courts. Deuce after deuce, unforced error after unforced error. And seemingly the only people backing Mueller were his family and a the one guy in Leeds who put down a hundred quid. Every shot, every point by Nadal the crowd... well, it is Wimbledon, they respectfully clapped quietly. It's an English thing I guess. Without looking at the screen I knew when Mueller was doing good - I was at work after all - because the crowd would have been quiet for too long.

And they kept playing. Apparently on the English greens of legend there is no tie breaker, they are to just keep playing until someone wins by two. So it went first it was both 6, and then 8. I stopped watching to get some things done and a while later was surprised to realize they were still playing and it was 12 all. Had this been in the US no doubt both men would have been commended for their strength of character in the face of adversity, and if Nadal was able to complete the comeback it would become the stuff of legend. Wheaties commercials, an ESPN 30 for 30, maybe even a blurb on Buzzfeed....stolen from Reddit. At 13-all I was ready for someone to just stand there while the other served and watch it go by. They'd been playing for almost 5 hours, the final set at this point longer than other players complete matches, and quite frankly had more than earned a dramatic "Fuck it" as far as I was concerned.

When Muller finally was able to close out the deuce, an astonishing 15-13, I was almost certain they would both have to sit there court side for ten minutes or so getting their legs back. Or maybe I'm just that out of shape. It was good tennis...something you don't hear everyday.

They turned it back again today but the matches - Djokovic, Venus Williams match and one with a classically named Coco Vandeweghe (she lost poor dear) went pretty much as expected. They paled in comparison to the herculean effort of the previous day. Now, if Konta can beat Venus....well, then...well, it's still tennis. I just started really watching like Monday. 

Barkeep. We'll have tea and cucumber sandwiches in the garden. And by tea I mean the kind in the bourbon bottle. And by cucumber sandwiches, make mine honey-bbq and all drums. And by garden I mean hear at the bar. It's an English thing. Pip pip and all that.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Incoming!

Ramblings Post #336
I used to go to the best cookouts. Two hundred or so people, food that would run out in a half hour, a line for single bathroom, people drinking all the chaser for like no reason and girls who just needed someone to keep them occupied until the cute guys arrived. Ah, the memories. There really is something to growing up. 

The word fireworks doesn't quite cover it. The correct term is "munitions."

If there are any vets in my area who are suffering PTSD they have my deepest sympathies.

My neighbors really lit it up for the fourth. For a solid hour and a half they launched what must have been a lovely cross section of the entirety of the US military's impressive arsenal, the festivities sounding at times like a thunderstorm, then a volleys of gunfire (Steven Segal gunfire, not real gunfire), and having your position shelled.  Honest to god explosions. There is a scene in the movie Full Metal Jacket where the soldiers are resting in the bunker but the noise outside sounds funny, then suddenly they've grabbed their gear and are running as fast as they can for the slit trenches, preparing to lay down suppression fire. It was like that. My windows rattled.

When I wandered outside to see who was winning, the street was thick with the haze and smoke that comes from exploding a lot of things at the same time for a long time. And I think a few of the people had their displays set too low, as a few blooms went off while still below the tree line. Music was playing, in the dark children were granting them 'ooohs and aahhhs, and I could hear the yelling that comes from patriotic fervor, or too much alcohol  or a need for everyone to be impressed at their purchases. I went back into my house. I could still hear small explosions in the distance even after midnight as I tried to keep Vietnam movies from invading my dreams.

And I live in a pretty much all black neighborhood.

I've seen a lot of chatter online suggesting that the descendants of slaves (so, just to be simple - black people) shouldn't celebrate the 4th, because while the declaration did set off Brexit 1776, the notions espoused in it really didn't apply to everyone in that country yearning to be free. But then by that weird logic, the only people who should be celebrating it would be landowning white males, which would mean the way we celebrate would be the same - exploding things - but there would just be less demonstrations of patriotism.

Apparently women shouldn't celebrate, as they didn't get the basic benefits of being American, getting to own their own property or vote for 150 years after this grand declaration. And blacks faced  slavery and then legalized discrimination for the first 180 years since we pulled out of the BU, and things aren't so great now, so we have no reason to be happy either. In reality, when I think about it the words to "This land is my land, this land is your land" from my childhood, it really was more an expression of a idealized America, provided most of us stayed in our lane, than a realistic view of the United States. So, what exactly are we marginalized folks celebrating?

Well, for starters, I'm celebrating the country that I was born in, am a citizen of and that I live in. No, I'm not a closet nationalist or whatever term they're using these days (collaborator?), and although this country still has its many faults, problems and shortcomings* if you're not a landowning white male, it is still a fairly decent place to be in a world still rife with problems common sense should have handled years ago. I'm not necessarily celebrating America as it is today, but that idealized version of America I thought we'd have when I was a kid.

That I even have to explain this strikes me as odd now. Even those who are theoretically on the same side are so divided in their thinking.

Barkeep. A beer. Cold. No, it's just beer, it really doesn't matter.

*Faults and shortcomings being almost too many mention, including racism, sexism, injustice, poverty and the need to put cheese on everything. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

New Ranch

Ramblings Post #335
Ah summer 2017, and I'm home again, trying to get my situation right, as they say taking the time to do those things I need to do to get to where I'm going. The issue I have is, unless you're satisfied with where you are you always need to be working on the next thing. Which means I'm going to working for a long time, because satisfaction is a hard thing to pin down. 

After a bit too long a hitch at the old ranch, I've quite unexpectedly been moved onto a much better looking ranch just up north. Well, north Atlanta. North inside the perimeter Atlanta, not North northern Atlanta. It's complicated. And the transition has got me all twisted. But then, who is used to change?

To be honest, my old ranch was a place to do what I needed to do. Basically a stable, a pasture and the work. (Okay, I'm using metaphors off and on here, work with me - this ain't really no ranch but I'm keeping is nice and vague. For like, legal reasons.) But, I'd gotten used to the setup, as one does when one has been a place a touch too long. Traffic patterns for arrival, when the coffee was fresh, what time the bathroom was clear, you know, the basics. Then whoosh, just like that we get, um, the call to head north.

Now, let's be honest here, this new 'ranch' has all the amenities - free snacks, gourmet coffee, ergonomic chairs, A WINDOW, and more than the same four lunch restaurants which had fallen into a weird shifting rotation which could have me eating pasta three days in row. This place has an actual CHEF at the restaurant in the lobby. I stopped eating at the place near the old ranch because I just couldn't deal with 'guess today's price' style of running the joint. I will miss the brownies from that one spot though up the street though. Mind you this new place there is a Chipotle right there! But, the new ranch is however, as I said, further north...and therein lies the rub.

Not quite this, but for the Keurig machine the do have Stabucks cups. 

Atlanta traffic you may have heard, is a bit an odd duck. I'm fairly certain that the Marquis de Sade Traffic Commission was the principal architect of most of the city's thoroughfares. One fender bender can change a 10 minute drive into an hour wasted. The bit of I-285 between I-75 and I-85, which will eventually be known as Spaghetti Junction East and West, is commonly regarded as one of the worst stretches of roadway in the country. And all of that vehicular fever dream is directed towards or halfway funnels into and out of the area where I work now. It's a hot area. Which takes some of the shine off all the aforementioned niceties.

Given my druthers I'd much rather go in a little later and work a little later to avoid the peaks of rush hour traffic. Doing just that was an option at the old ranch, as the hours were flexible, but it isn't the case at the new one. Now that I have to deal with Atlanta traffic at its naturally occurring intersections of chaos, I have to have my track shoes on a lot earlier than I previously did, which is annoying to the say the least. It shifts my prep time and thus my whole evening schedule, which changes essentially my life. But change happens, so this is isn't the end of the world. The ride home however is a different story.

I used to have one of those unbelievable commutes, but I got deeply downgraded, to like steerage.  I live inside the perimeter, so my previous commute was 20 mins both ways. Seriously. People who live in Atlanta might scoff at the insanity of that, but from parking garage to driveway in medium just off peak traffic it was less than a half hour. I might get through five or six songs on a album. That five to ten minutes difference depended on one intersection and just how backed up the cross street was. That was the whole of my issue. Now, my commute home after a hard day of ranching is, well, unknown. I think it's 45 mins to an hour? Maybe more? All I know is that I get home at the same time or later than I used to, although I leave as much as an hour or more earlier.  

And while I get home around the same time, I now have to go to bed much, much earlier to get enough sleep. Which means my evenings just got smushed. My writing is suffering, my studying for the "cooking" school is suffering - metaphor people - and I just realized if I want to cook I need to start as soon as I walk in the door. I'm about to become one of those people who rushes to everything on Saturday because during the rest of the week I have no time.

So suddenly, I'm like normal people? What the hell?

Barkeep, I'm gonna need a tall drink of ...wait, I got to get early in the damn morning. Just an ice tea. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

And they done done it again...

Ramblings Post #334
There is something about sport. After games where my team won I've hugged people I don't know, bought drinks for people I can't stand and once got kissed by this girl who was in the moment. I felt used, but in a good way. Sport brings us together. But then I've also stopped speaking to people because I found out their Patriot fans. Or Steeler fans. Or one of those anybody versus the Cowboys fans. Grrrrr. And this is from people who don't even play. Imagine how the players feel. 

I didn't really watch much basketball this year, as my Lakers are still at the low end of their pendulum swing and the rise of the player initiated "super team" is upon us. Which is great when it gets to the very end, but really means the season is watching two wrecking balls slowly gravitate towards one another over 82 games. The storyline is straight from the old hero series style action novels I used to read, where it's not IF the hero will when but HOW? Will they when by 10 points or 30 points? Can the star get a triple double? Will they spend an entire quarter just shooting threes? It gets for lack of better way of putting it ...unexciting. 

Glad Golden State Warriors won it all though.

Not because I am necessarily a Curry fan, if you know anything by now with my persistent affection for the Cowboys, I am anything but a bandwagon fan. It's because I am not a fan of LeBron James, and the legend thereof. There, I said it. Although he is a good player, blessed with a deft touch, great shooting skill and a fantastic knowledge of the game, I think that he's not as good as his fan boys want to make him out to be. He's like an Apple product, in that if you listen to his fan club he's the greatest thing ever, but if you take him in context he's just very, very good. Now, keep in mind that when people start screaming that MJ is the GOAT I like to remind them that MJ couldn't even get out of the East until Bird's back caught up with him and Isiah Thomas (the first one) lost a step. My money is still on Magic Johnson, a point guard who could even play center at the championship level - and did when Kareem got hurt. LeBron is good, maybe the best playing right now, but still.
The current league is built from this matchup. Yet neither is in the GOAT convo?
What bugs me most about Bron-Bron is his incessant need to work the officials, as though they won't notice if something bad happens to him. Trust me, the league is looking out for him every moment of every game including halftime bathroom breaks. The way LeBron is always looking for something, if you took a shot every time he looked at the ref as if pleading for him to call the defensive player for looking at ole #23 too hard, you'd be drunk by the end of the first quarter. And it is this incessant need, this victim role, this...greed for even more, that cheapens his actual really good abilities, at least to me. He can shoot the three, knows tendencies, bang shoulders down low, so why is he looking for cheap fouls like he's playing 2K? Nobody like a whiner. And right now, he's a whiner. I wonder how many players aren't playing him tough, thus inflating his stats, because they know not is he getting that primo "Superstar foul leeway" he's also "crying for a call every time a stiff breeze ruffles his jersey?"

And for those who ask, NO, he doesn't stack up the old players. MJ, Barkely, Reggie Miller and others in their prime would dominate this current offensive minded league. No hand checks? All that space to shoot? The old school would have a field day every day. And going the other way, the current stars would be heavily hampered by the defensive allowances of old. I say this after just watching ESPN's documentary on the Lakers - Celtics where Kevin McHale literally clotheslines Kurt Rambis during a layup and wasn't even ejected. Today we're talking about throwing people out for flexing their are at the wrong moment and those guys were suplexing each other and giving up "and ones."
"Personal foul, two shots."
That and then, forgetting he left with Wade and Bosh to go play with Irving and Love, LeBron had the audacity to say he'd never played on a "super team." Even when he's the best there is, he pretends like he's some kind of victim, some kind of underdog. And so what if he is? it happens to all of us. Get over it. Go out, work harder. Geez.

I guess this really wasn't a article about Golden State, and how much Durant earned what he got. But I just had some things to say. And it is my blog.

Barkeep. I heard them Warriors ain't even thinking about going to DC. Get them a round on me. But beer only. Nothing imported!

Monday, June 5, 2017

But it's not...

This is a political post. 

Sometimes I envy those whose who work in meme. They're quick jabs of statement that get a point across. Quick jab, jab. Because of their brevity, they rarely do they possess nuance, but when they do, they are one hell of a statement.

I can't settle of how I would mine to look just yet, maybe caricatures of Cheeto and Spicer doing a convoluted "Whose on First" routine using the term "travel ban." Or maybe Spicer as a bad ventriloquist dummy. All I know is that I would not want to be a lawyer for this thing, as the courts have already indicated they're going to use what are considered contemporary statements to determine the intent behind this retread legislation. And Cheeto put them out there again Monday morning. He did not mince words.

The really weird part? He wants those listening to think the Department of Justice is undermining him, when what they're working with is the LEGISLATION HE SIGNED. After his first couple of tries got kicked back. 

And while the White House Communications office would have you believe he's just talking here (a NY concept), the idea that that what Cheeto tweets and what he means are two different things as an explanation is laughable. People have gotten fired for tweets. On more than one occasion. These contemporary statements  mean that while the actual legislation may be neutral on its face, the intent is discriminatory. And it it is, or it's execution is discriminatory, then the legislation is  unconstitutional, just as the lower courts have already determined. And let's be clear, no man - no administration - no President, is above the law.

Letting this legislation happen is us laughing in the faces of the founding fathers we supposedly revere and lays the groundwork for a return to monarchy.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Death of a Mr. Bond

Roger Moore was MY James Bond, in by that I mean he's the Bond I grew up with.

My introduction to the character James Bond was a suave, just on the high side of cool, just shy of silly gadget carrying world hopping spy who always had a bit of quick wit when the situation called for it. It wasn't until college that I really had a chance to get into the character and realize that Connery's more bare bones and ruthless Bond was closer to the how the character was written. But by then it was too late, because in my mind Bond had gone to space, jumped off a mountain and had car that turned into a submarine. Roger Moore's Bond was a character of it's time, although I'm hard pressed to look back at most it and think it's still cool. The submarine car though.

I realize now that the movie scene I wanted to shoot with all the Bond actors is now NEVER really going to happen for real. Although, they are doing wonderful things with CGI. But that would be cheating.

And although he soured a bit at the end, with the spurious reasoning as to why Idris Elba shouldn't play Bond, I liked him. Moore's spoofs of himself, both in Cannonball run and playing the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in Curse of the Pink Panther after Peter Sellers died, where quite funny, even for a kid from the sticks like me. I thought he made a good action hero in ffolkes ( also known as North Sea Hijack). I even liked him Boat Trip, a film which I'm still not sure why I watched, although I'm fairly certain Roselyn Sánchez had something to do with it.

To a degree I miss his Bond. Maybe that's what Daniel Craig is missing.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Manchester

I'm not quite sure how to voice how upset I was to hear about the bombing Manchester.

It maybe that the modern day terrorism we've experienced so far has hardened us, numbed us a bit to the reality that there are people out there who want to perform acts of violence and cause chaos to further their own ends. So when I first saw this on my twitter feed, I was like "damn, now what?"

But then I got the facts, starting watching the feeds, and to be honest something about this bothers me deeply. I'm no expert on Islam, but I think that even where it authorizes/directs/suggests(?) the use of force, it specifically prohibits its use against the innocent. So when young girls...children...are attacked, it feels over the already dim line we like to imagine is still there. Maybe this was an effort to push us back into a state of shock. A mental state where dangerous things happen. That part of the argument where we say things we regret later, even though we meant them at the time. A mental state someone hopes will trigger something.

The sad part is we've been down this road as well.

I'm not sure what to say here. Had it been an office or a subway I would still be angry, upset, outraged. But this has a special quality of anger about it.


 
Note: What's interesting is that this happened the day before hearings in the US Congress that are demonstrating that the Presidential Transition Team may have been in deeper with the Russians than we know AND the new budget is released which slashes Medicaid. And I don't hear a single peep out of the "conspiracy mad right wing" about a false flag operation. Because this wasn't. Some asshole with a holier than thou cause did this. Sometimes things we wish wouldn't happen just do. And they happen all around the same time.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Feels like 1973 All Over again

This is a political post. 

So, that happened.

I keep trying to figure out when this precariously balanced house of fraud is going fall apart. For a while I was upset the Democratic Party wasn't metaphorically setting fire to the place in protest, save Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Shumer and a few others. But surveying the situation at this point, by the time to the rest of the party gets it's shit together all of the groundwork needed to save democracy will have been done for them. Oddly enough, by the people who to the untrained eye look like they're trying to destroy democracy.

Let's review.

There is increasingly clear evidence that a foreign power "meddled" with our fair democratic election process.

The President seems miffed that the inquiry into this whole "meddling" situation just can't be over. 

If I remember correctly, we just spent a little over three years looking into an incident on the Northern Coast of Africa. Three whole years! And that inquiry uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing or treasonous activity at all, despite every effort, but was continually renewed and revisited. By contrast this new inquiry into the election shenanigans continually turns up questionable practices and actions as well as artful forgetfulness on the part of those being investigated. And it has been ongoing for less than six months!

Then the Head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations is fired by the President. This occurs in the midst of the Head of the FBI's investigation into the aforementioned claims of "meddling."

The method for the termination stunk of stagecraft and the reasons behind it are murky at best. Shortly after it was announced the White House Press Secretary literally hid in the bushes rather than talk to reporters. (Note: I'm sorry, that's since been corrected to "among the bushes," whatever that means.) First the official explanation was that the firing was on the recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General, who balked at that accusation. Then the story became that the President wanted to fire the Head of the FBI since taking office. A rumor floated that the President only became angry after the Head of the FBI testified about his feelings concerning his actions during the election process, actions which at the time were completely out of sorts for a person in that position. Later still, the White House spokespeople claimed it was because the man had lost the respect of the rank and file under his command, a charge immediately refuted by the new Acting Head of the FBI. 

Then, and not joke, within 36 hours of the firing, the President meets with a representative from that same foreign power accused of meddling in the election in the White House, specifically the Oval Office. But because the President apparently hates anything but lackey media, the only press allowed in accompanies the guest. That particular press also just happens to work for the same foreign power suspected of the "meddling." Of the election.

This could very seriously mean that the Oval Office, one of the most secure rooms in the world, now might be bugged by a foreign power.

One would almost think this a synopsis of a an episode of the trashy night time soap Empire and not the goings on of the leadership of the most powerful nation in the world.

I am aware that a lot of people who voted for him did so because he was, and still is, an outsider. That he'd shake up the system. The problem is that we're not talking about the family hardware store, we're talking about the United States of America. And it turns out we've got a guy in office who doesn't understand the basics of life, much less the basics of government. And that bodes ill for us all.

I'm not sure where I want to go with this....

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Quick Restaurant Review - Little Trouble

I don't hang out much anymore for various reasons, the vast majority of which seem to always be in flux and so a return to that swinging nightlife could be just around the corner. But right this second, I'm bingeing on a bit of law in an effort to get this "ranching" career off the ground and video games I may have purchased as long a four years ago. For the uninformed I have a habit of purchasing games when I have a few spare coins and then playing then much later. It's not like they go bad. This time the game is only two years old, but I waited like a year after release to purchase it, so I've really only had it for like a year, but I digress.

When I do go out now it's in short bursts, meaning a few hours after work or to a single event. Atlanta's night life has changed so much in the few years I've been out of rotation that I'm no longer certain of anything, and the spots I used to frequent are either gone or just not hot anymore. And with the city bisected by the highway collapse, I'm either locked into to staying near home or have to pack an overnight bag just go get drinks. Yeesh. Which is how I ended up at Little Trouble on a Friday night.

I'm not quite sure how the spot operates, as it seems a little like a out of the way bar that shows in NY movies where the protagonist is in the basement of a building that looks condemned from the outside and then suddenly bam! - trendy nightclub. Little Trouble is kinda like that only the building is like a high end shopping destination by day that has one of the busiest Uber drop offs I've ever seen. After taking a risk that Serve, the taller of the hangout duo Spanky and Serve who I sometimes hang out when I do go out, was actually going to show up this time, we met around the corner at one my fav little spots, Ormsby's which is in what I guess is Westside Plaza(?). We had a drink, had some hummus and she learned to play Bocce on the bar's indoor court downstairs. But that stop was just a social amuse-bouche before we sauntered over to Little Trouble.

The spot is at the other end of the plaza from Ormsby's, which itself is a bit of beast to find, and then down a long dark tunnel where we were greeted with a neon logo that made me think of Blade Runner for some reason. This opened into cozy little bar with low seats and lots of mood lighting on one side of the room and more formal dining tables on the other. There is a quieter smaller space in the back but I only glimpsed it. The spot has a very hip vibe to it, which may be why the people with backpacks looking like they just got off the bus from Mississippi left a just a few moments. Full Disclosure: The second we walked in I thought that Sporty would have loved it.

The wall is like from a shipping container
Serve and I posted up at the bar, which in retrospect is set much lower than I realized, and perused the menu, a take on street food from Southeastern Asia - buns, bowls and meat on sticks. I should mention for those who like to imbibe that Little Trouble is really more a craft bar - in that they really seem to excel at crafted drinks. While I pursued the food stuffs offered, I got a Crane Kick (Japanese whiskey, rum, spice and lemon - the spice apparently ginger) and Serve ordered something I forget. But it looked really fruity. The bartenders take their time too, pouring a touch of this and a little of that to get it just right. More than once I saw him assemble something that made me want to order it too. That's a sign of a good, or at least entertaining, bartender.

Crane Kick and whatever it was Serve had....
Now, my original intention was to mix and match a few of the buns to see what it was all about and started with the Pork Belly, hoping to try some of the other items like the meat on a stick, Pork Rinds or Panda Cotta later. Serve got the Salmon Bowl and split it with me, since the sauce was too spicy for her (note - it's not spicy, she just sensitive). The bun is a soft white crust-less bread shell, think really cool Slider, topped with stuff I usually don't eat and a pretty fair size piece of grilled pork. It was a very good combination. And if they didn't melt the Gruyere on the French Dip bun I would have stuck to my 'try a little of everything' plan. Instead, having found something I really liked, I got a second Pork Belly Bun which was just as good as the first, so no drop off here.  The food is good, and the portions are just the right size for someone out trying to have a good time, not too small but not too big.   

We got there relatively early, around eight or so, but the place doesn't really pick up until nine or so. This is a change from back when I used to run the circuit, when there were days I'd leave the job on Friday at 5pm and be pulling up to the spot 20 minutes later...and still not be the first one out. Maybe we were just more desperate to have a good time back then. Be aware, the crowd is a mixed bag, but mostly younger folks and people who have jobs that let them afford the ridiculous ass rent in the surrounding apartment buildings.

If you're trying to get into a little trouble, I can suggest Little Trouble. Maybe it's easier to find at night, as it might be the only thing that has foot traffic that time of the evening over there. I do intend to go back though and find out.


Side Note : While it was still early we walked across the railroad bridge and ran into a line outside Jeni's Ice Cream. We had to get some because there was a long  line, at least according to Serve. I'm not sure about the logic, but who can turn down ice cream?  The selection was a little...esoteric, with flavors along to lines of Riesling Poached Pear and Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso, but it's good ice cream. And the place smelled like they were making the waffle cones fresh. I can say with authority, it was worth the wait.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Life comes at you fast

Ramblings Post #333
I'm not sure when I stopped really watching TV. In the past few years my time in front of the tube has dwindled, and I'm not talking about it merely being replaced with another digital access port. I read more now, and study the news more. Okay, some gaming, but nothing to obsess over. But as time passes, and I get more into the news, I'm starting to understand the appeal of the information bubble. Because it's scary out here ya'll. And it's coming at us wide open.  

I used to have time to craft something. After figuring out what I wanted to comment on and determining if I even had a point, I'd sketch out an outline with a few points I'd hope to hit early during the day. Then do a little research throughout the day between other things like working or going to the bathroom. At the end of the day when I got home I would write it up, but then let it marinate a day before I'd go back over it, teasing out threads of ideas and smoothing over rough prose. Some of those posts were almost little works of art if you broaden the definition of art far enough and squint real, real hard.

But things seem to be happening so much faster as of late, and my artful style doesn't seem to be up the challenge. From Facebook shooters to the latest airline mugging to Cheeto itching to start World War III to there being a fire under every bridge in Atlanta  and the imminent return to some kind of lawless wasteland due to a lack of roads, my snark has been muted for lack of time to develop anything good. The seemingly constant barrage of notable happenings is threatening to turn this into a continuous "Things I meant to comment on" series, which is a kind of less animated less funny not  on television "Last Week Tonight." This I would not be satisfied with.

I may have to move to a smaller blurb format, a kind of micro blogging to amounts to little more than possibly unfunny meme's and one liners that fail to capture the nuance of why I think XYZ topic might so absurd. I may have to switch to a kind of monthly, or bi-weekly, which leaves a lot to be desired in that so much of it will be past tense in a world just trying to hold it in the road. Maybe templates, where I just plug in each outrage? I'm not sure but I know that I have a lot to say about a lot of shit and not getting a chance to say it. Ugh.

So, in the interest of fair play, good cooking, sportsmanship and properly aged cheese, I will simply have to try my best. How this is gonna work out I have no idea because I've got several other things I'm trying to get done, but trying i better than standing still.

Barkeep, let me get a...no, that try thing starts tomorrow. And sleep better after a drink or five.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Charlie Murphy RIP

Death comes too quick.


We almost shouldn't know who Charlie Murphy is. In the game of Hollywood unlike the music industry, it's rare that family catches on, excluding of course the Wayans conglomerate. But there was something authentic about Charlie, a real person in an unreal situation. Although he'd been around for a while because his brother was mega-star Eddie Murphy, he didn't really catch on until he started sharing his stories of what went on when nobody was looking. True stories of stars being themselves. The kind of stories that us non-famous people would tell each other about each other when we sit down with a few drinks and reminisce.

Lately, he'd started to carve out his own little space. Better acting roles, some standup comedy, and becoming famous in his own right. I think he'd figured out a way to be more than just himself, and was actually acting. And he wasn't bad. 

I bet he's in heaven right now, challenging Prince to a rematch. And afterwards, they'll have pancakes.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hey Atlanta, how about mass transit now, eh?

Ramblings Post #332
Atlanta is a car city. We have a mass transit system that people have fought tooth and nail against since its inception and now, well, here we are. It's gonna be a long hot summer. And the city is for the most part gonna be divided in half. The days of the floating party, the caravan of fun and the city wide club hopping might just be on hold for a minute. I'm not even going to talk about how the Metro Area Rail and Transportation Authority is going to have to bring it, and bring it hard. Since after all, ....nobody saw this coming.  *snicker*

Thursday evening, a bridge section of I-85, a major artery for the city of Atlanta, collapsed after the structure gave way during what could only be properly described as a conflagration. A big, roaring flame. Apparently just plain old fire can melt steel beams, who knew? Even worse it feel over a section right by another major artery, Piedmont Road. This will only compound the problem, as I'll explain later. This whole process will take months, at minimum four or five, to repair and should shut down not one but two major thoroughfares that connect the Northern suburbs and the rest of Atlanta. We might not be a car city much longer. 

This is the year Marta finally gets properly funded folks! Marta card sales are already up 80% and it's only the first day! Mark your calendar because if a catastrophe that will split the metro region in half won't do it, nothing will. Nothing.

The city of Atlanta is funny. On a map it looks roughly like the Vitruvian Man, with two major highways meeting, running together through the bulk of the city and then splitting again just above the airport. But in reality, only the northern part of the city (above I-20) means anything, as it is the focus of pretty much all development. Coincidentally, most of the black people live below I-20. Not that the two are connected, I'm just saying. A close look at the map however reveals that the city is not exactly a grid, but more a collection of paved cattle trails and footpaths that seemed like a good idea in 1820. As such, the metro area is really more a collection of roads that only incidentally connect to one another in some places, and not at all in others. This quirk of design is why the single collapsing highway section is such a problem.

Photo by Redditor - nico6426
I-85 where it runs through Atlanta is regularly used by roughly...um, EVERYBODY IN THE METRO AREA. It connects Midtown (with over 35 construction projects underway or announced) with Buckhead - the center of all things trendy in the New South. When it gets the middle of the city and meets 75 we call it the Downtown Connector.  So, kinda important. The other two main roads in the city are Peachtree Road...no, not that Peachtree, the other one, no the other other one, the one in the middle, sheesh, and Piedmont Road on the East side of town. Strangely, all three of these intersect in Buckhead. There is no counterpart on the west side of Atlanta, because there really isn't. Because that's why. And now that I-85 has fallen onto Piedmont, there is only Peachtree Road a four lane red-light riddled strip that remains.

Although some will claim it will not be that bad, because although the section of I-85 that fell is actually just north of Piedmont Road, the truth is the fire damage is extensive. Although only the one section fell, the flames touched everything around it, and even money says several other sections of the road surface above and below the area will have to be collapsed and rebuilt just to be on the safe side. More than likely one of the sections directly over Piedmont Road. And even if they don't have to bring that section down on purpose as a safety concern, the fastest way rebuild the section that did fall would involve...blocking Piedmont Road. 


Where I work, going forward referred to as the Ranch, the parking deck was half empty the day after and I had my pick of just off prime spots. The spot where I grab lunch was sparse as well. Because we had no off highway traffic a whole section of my home commute normally a pain was light and easy. But, I live INTOWN, and the highway that goes all the way around the perimeter of the city was bumper to bumper for nearly half its circumference, backing up the designated alternate routes for hours. And that's with the county in a State of Emergency and half the city told to work from home or just take the day off. I shudder to think of what's going to happen on Monday when the flood gates open. I may go to work way early. Or I mean, leave for work. When I make it is anyone's guess. 

It's gonna be a strange summer in Atlanta.

Barkeep, let me get a cold beer, some of that hot fish and some white bread.

What? You thought I was gonna make a bar-b-que joke? For shame....

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

If you guys could like, hurry up...

This a political post.

This presidency is just too much. From the start to now it's just keeps getting more bizarre, more fraught with questionable ideas being forth, more clearly the beginnings of a dystopian future being put together by people who don't know what dystopian means.

From the sitting President indicating he didn't think healthcare would be this hard, to the save a penny spend hundred dollars budget logic, to the weird and slightly perverted obsession with women's reproductive health, there is just so much going on that you almost can't concentrate on one thing. Which brings us to this administration's attempt to curry favor with African-American voters going forward. With some planned executive order on Historically Black Colleges and Universities swiftly approaching. a photo op was born. Invite them all up, show them the splendor that is Washington and the White House. See! See what I'm doing! With all the subtlety and charm a seventy year old New Yorker who got sued by the government for not renting to African Americans can muster.

Then this.

I remember Regan saying that he didn't feel right in the Oval Office without a jacket on. And I realize that every President has a moment of casualness in the Oval Office. From Kennedy to Johnson to Carter to Reagan to Clinton to Obama. A moment where feet are up, people are relaxed, after all, they're only human. But this is an official event. For the HBCUs. So why does Kellyanne Conway look like the the girlfriend waiting for everyone else to leave?

(Extra: Someone explain Jim Crow to DeVos. Like drag her into a classroom and teach her this by the scruff of her neck. No, HBCUs are not a great example of choice, they are an example of excellence against all odds.) 

This irritates me a base level. All of it.

I'm just gonna be over here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wouldn't it have been easier to...

Geek Arguments #1
I am in no small part, a bit of a geek. I've argued about Star Wars and Star Trek minutiae as though knowing how a light saber worked or untangling time paradoxes earned me money. I can argue over comics, sci-fi movies, football strategy, and even dabble a bit in video game smugness (for no reason I can think of). This time, prompted by what should be an obvious answer about a movie nobody cares about, I just have to set the record straight for nobody in particular. That and I just can't talk politics anymore for a while.    

Ben Affleck likes to relate the story that during the production of Armageddon (a terrible film that I will watch over and over) that when he asked the question "Wouldn't it have been easier to train the astronauts to drill?" that director Micheal Bay told him to "shut the f**k up." This of course was the proper answer. Because Ben's question was stupid and he should have just shut the f**k up. 

Let me state definitively that NO, it wouldn't have been easier to train astronauts to drill. Everyone would have died. Are we clear? Oh, you want an explanation?

While it is true that astronauts are smart, most holding several degrees as well as being engineers, the idea that they would be able to immediately be able to grasp all the fine points of drilling in the week or so of training they would have received is the height of elitist thinking. Proficiency or even mastery of Discipline A does not automatically translate into easy of learning semi-related Discipline B. The intellectual arrogance here is staggering, starting with the assumption that "drilling" must be easy. But rather than get into a long line of theory of the nuances of mining and instead I'm going to use the film itself show why this is terrible assumption.
Wouldn't trust them with a potato gun.
First, when the hero, Harry Stamper, arrives at NASA it's originally because government stole his drill design to use on Mars but now want to use it on the asteroid, but can't make the damned thing work. Let me say that again : a group of NASA scientists, engineers and the man the NASA director called the 'smartest man on the planet' can't figure out how to make a particular drill work after presumably weeks of going at it. Presumably one or two of the engineers present even had some mining expertise, but it still didn't help them. On the other hand, Harry the not NASA engineer arrives and after looking at the equipment for less than a minute not only tells them the issues they're probably experiencing (and he's correct) but also diagnoses the problem. But mining must be simple, right? The equipment a breeze to operate?  

Secondly, when the spaceship actually arrives on the asteroid, Harry's team faces a number of unexpected challenges. First, they overshoot the landing and instead of the intended drilling site land on an 'iron plate.' Would the less experienced trained for a week Astronaut miners have even tried to drill there? Assuming they did, the first drill bit breaks after ten feet, something Max recognizes by feel. Would a less experienced trained for a week Astronaut miner have recognized it as quickly as Max? Then, the other experienced miner Chick defers to Harry who decides they need to break out a special bit, referred to in the film as 'the judge.' Would a less experienced trained for a week Astronaut miner been able to make the determination that they weren't just unlucky? Would they have been able to handle the gas pockets, the ones the experienced miners couldn't? 

And finally, would a less experienced trained for a week Astronaut miners have taken the Time to Drill Card as gospel, dropped off the nuke and evacuated? Especially when you consider that the Astronaut who was there was prepared and willing to shoot someone did just that! The weird part is that based upon the data at hand, the Astronaut made the right call - they should have dumped the nuke because by all rights they shouldn't reached the depth needed. 

Honestly, when Chick's son called him "that salesman"...
It was only the drillers expertise that saved the entire operation. Yes, because NASA chose the drillers over the astronauts (in this movie universe) the world was saved. I'm not even going to mention the other asteroid movie of the time went exactly the other way. Okay, I'll mention it. How did that work out for them then? Right, everyone on the spaceship had to make the ultimate sacrifice so the planet only got a little blowed up. Got it? And since I've brought Deep Impact up now, anyone know why there were carrying the extra nukes? 

So, this is why to question of wouldn't sending astronauts have been simpler in Armageddon, the answer is a resounding NO. Teaching roughnecks how not to die in space clearly was. I realize that astronauts are smart. Very smart. But smart doesn't translate to a universal expertise.  

Can we let this go now? And someone tell Affleck to shut the fuck up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentines...and thoughts of Love.

If you've never had a regret, then you've never been in love. 

Love rarely goes perfectly. Most of us have a regret that calls back to us when we think about love, because love is usually an unscheduled demanding mess. It's two people meeting at just the right moment in their lives to open to the possibilities, and then willing to work together to make those possibilities into something akin to tangible. Love is shared highs and lows, because we have a tendency to take the sunshine for granted if we've never stood in the rain. Love is personal growth, cooperation and sacrifice in one constantly changing little corner of reality you're trying to make into a cozy home for your soul. But because it's not neat, not pre-cast, not set, and directions vary, things don't always come out just right. And it those mistakes we make, those moments where we feel our hearts hang in the balance, that we come to regret.  

Far too often we are just living our lives and end up with love unexpectedly, stumbling across it like a root in the dark.  Unsure in our actions because life comes with opinions but not instructions, and instead of working to an understanding of who we are and sometimes afraid of what we want, we do things with grand intentions that in time we come to regret.  Our actions are the multitude. Maybe it's benign neglect. Maybe we overwork it. Or we expect magic because magic fills our dreams. And then when something goes awry, comes regret. 

Awry? We've all said something we regretted, or perhaps worse, left something unsaid until too late.  Made assumptions that we never took the time to correct. Set our expectations too high or too low.  Or we regret giving up too soon. Or staying too long. Holding too tight or letting things get out of hand. Giving too much or not putting enough effort. Sometimes the moments we regret are seemingly insignificant, and sometimes that moment looms over us blocking out the world. And there we stand in our pathway of life, filled with regret. 

But regret meant that the feelings that birthed them were real.  That the love was real. We need our regret.  It has the potential to teach us, if only because we don't want to return to feeling. This is why love has the capacity to make us better.  And while we hope to be able use that regret to perhaps strengthen the love we have, mostly regret is a lesson we take with us going forward should we find love again.
Ah, Sporty.
As I'm not young anymore, I possess regrets. Words unspoken mostly. A few assumptions that may have limited what I thought was possible. Hopefully... I've learned. 

So why am I bringing this up? Why is this worthy of the time for me to write it and you to read it? An essay on regret on Valentine's? Because maybe you still have time to heel your regrets. Rein them in before they run away with you. A chance to ...to say the thing unsaid, or realize you've stayed too long. To get back on the course to being in love. Because even though my moments aren't always the brightest, because I've been there I don't want anyone else to have to.go. 

Love begets regret. But then love is the parent of many things.