August 30, 2005

Okay, I'm back

So, anyway, I was at my cousin's wedding reception on Saturday in gorgeous resort town of Narragansett, Rhode Island. I caught the garter, nyeh nyeh n'nyeh nyeh!

The bride held the bouguet standing with her back to the gathered maids, gave a few fake-out heaves, turned and pitch a fastball to the gal in front.

I walked up to this rather young looking gal, who looked to me to be about 14 or 15, and said "Hi, I'm Bob."
"I'm Cindy."
"Um... How old are you?"

I turned toward the crowd in search of the bride and shook my head no.

"You can put it on her wrist, y'know," came a disembodied voice from the right. I turned to the DJ, who was MC'ing the garter/bouquet rite, and he nodded to me, "Yeah, you can just put it on her wrist, man."

"Come o-o-o-on," I protested. "I'm not putting a garter anywhere on a twelve-year-old girl. We gotta have a long-legged lady sitting in that chair."

"Okay, we've got a stand-in for ya," someone said as a very lovely stranger took the hot seat. "Just don't go too high," she said with a wink. "My military boyfriend is standing right over there." Conditions, conditions, conditions.

Anywho, I slipped the garter up past her knee and resisted the temptation to keep going until she screamed. I stopped at what was mid-way between her knee and her exposed thigh. I shoulda gone about 3/4 of the way up. Oh, well.

I never did get that garter back.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 26, 2005

Road Trip!

And of course I haven't done half the things on my To Do list to prepare.

I'm outta here 'til Sunday night. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 24, 2005

Well that was odd

I got home from work and turned on the 'puter to see if the munu server was back up. But, the first stop was to get my new mail. I only had 1 new message, which is strange. I usually have at least 5 or 6 spam items and 1 or 2 other messages.

The 1 item I received was, I presume, fake eBay scam spam. But, what was really odd was that all of my backlogged emails were gone. Wiped out somehow!

Ever since I reformatted me hard drive last October I've been asking my elder sister, whenever I see her, to send me an email because I no longer have her address. (I keep old emails from people just so's I have their address handy. I don't keep them in an address book on my 'puter 'cause I hear there's some hackware that can access them.)

So, yesterday Elder Sister emailed me to ask how I wanted to handle the trip up to Massachussetts for our cousin's wedding this weekend. I was going to get back to her tonight, but now her address is gone again and I don't have her phone number.

Hey, Elder Sister! If you're reading this then send me another email!

Now back to our irregularly scheduled blogging...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 23, 2005

CD Review, pt 1

Munuvia's resident drummer CD and his buddy Ryan have put together a new collection of songs that they've been working on over the summer. He's inviting any and all critiques so, naturally, as a third-rate musician myself, I've decided to give it a go.

The opening track is called Chainsaw. The lyric can be found here, and the download of the mp3 can be found here. I'm going to review the 7 songs one-by-one. The first is tonight; the second tomorrow night and the third Thursday night. As I'll be away for the weekend to attend the funeral wedding of my cousin Andy, the remaining tracks will be downloaded and reviewed Monday through next Thursday.

Since CD is one of my favorite bloggers (when he blogs **shakes fist**), I've wondered if I should be as brutally honest as I would be about the music of an anonymous stranger. (Of course, CD and I are strangers -- we've never met -- but, still, the blogosphere has a way of making everyone semi-familiar. Or as Ted said at our first luncheon meeting a couple o'weeks ago [paraphrasing]: "It's strange to meet a familiar blogger and be so surprised. You know how they think, but you don't know who they are.")

Before I begin blathering my opinion all over this album let me tell ya where I am, musically.

In high school I listened to the Sex Pistols, Ramones, the Clash, the Stranglers, X, the Dickies, etc etc. And
I had a wide range of records by bands that I guarantee you've never heard of. Some time in college I went looking for something else. This about the time that Black Flag, Circle Jerks and Bad Brains were all the rage among those who insisted the punk would never die.

Since college I've been drawn more to Brian Wilson's music and the lyrics of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading (pre-The Key) and, for laughs, King Missile.

When Nirvana came along, I thought there was hopr for "alternative" music. I still think there is and, if a young guy was in fluenced by Nirvana, that's a good thing as far as I can tell.

The worst band in the world, in my opinion, was Weezer. They played power-pop songs to a grunge-punk instrumentation. I suppose they thought they were uniting the best of both words. All they did was piss off three sets of music fans. You're either power-pop or you're punk. The two don't mix on my board.

Anywho, on to CD Review, Pt 1: Chainsaw

CD singled out this one several times in his (above linked) post as the one to give the most elbow room. The microphones on the drums were lacking; vocals were out of his range in the chorus; etc, etc. I think he actually sounded better in the chorus then he did in the verses. Shouting seems to inspire a young man to perfection it seems. CD's vocal performance in the verses is less than a bit...... um.... stellar (to which he admits). While acknowledging no vocal training can excuse the tambre of a voice, it can't excuse to pitch control.

But let me say this: CD has excellent tambre -- his performance in the chorus proves it. I wish I had a voice that could get that much intestinal fortitude behind it. The problem is his tunefullness -- his ability to hit the notes. There's an almost tone-deaf sloppiness to his singing that he can, probably (like I did), get behind him through practice. But, as is, CD ain't no lead singer -- and he readily admits it and asks us to focus the lyric itself, not the sound. So, I will.

The thing that strikes me most about Chainsaw is that it's so non-specific to anything. It's an angry lyric about idiotarianism that doesn't mention one single idiotarian position. There's no anchor to this song other than frustration with not being able to get your own point across to someone who's unable to get their point across to you because you are too insistent on getting your point across to them. This is a song about an impasse -- due to a stubborn I'm-right-and-why-can't-you-see-it-ness -- that doesn't even realixe it.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Granted, it's good to be angry when you can explain why -- as CD does so well on his blog.
It's not so great to be angry when you can't be bothered to articulate the reason(s) why. All-in-all, I think that this song is a shadow of what it could have been. It chooses an emotion, yet neglects to anchor it in anything specific.

I suppose some might call that a virtue; That the listener -- from all sides of the political spectrum -- can hear their own voice in that universal feeling. That partisan philosophical anger. I'll grant that that was what they were going for even though they prob'ly weren't. ;)

I like to think that I am my own worst critic. As an "artist", I know that that's usually not true, though. But, at least, I do try to listen to those who know that I want honest feedback. Maybe they don't underdstand my work; but I'll assume that they understand my need to communicate the best way I can.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 21, 2005

For some Reason...

For some reason this image makes me happy.
Maybe it's the horsie. Maybe it's the girls. Probably it's both.

Maybe not work safe for prudes and puritans...

NATCH I am hereby defying accepted protocol and declaring this beautiful image to be safe for work:

Changed my mind...

Here 'tis...:


This photo makes me want to drive to Vermont and look up every single person I've ever met up there and grab a horsie and get nekkid!

Bu-u-u-u-t a horse is just a horse, of course, so therell be none of that. **shakes fnger**

Where are the blankets and picinic baskets when ya really need 'em....?

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 20, 2005

Sometimes it's better to do your thinking inside the box

As my buddy Norm said tonight: "The great thing about going to a ballgame is that you just might see something you've never seen before."

It was rock 'em sock 'em, back and forth game all evening between the Atlantic League's Bridgeport Bluefish and the Newark Bears, featuring lots of home runs and some interesting baserunning. We got to the top of the 9th inning with the visiting Bears in need of two runs to tie, as the Bluefish were up by a score of 9 to 7.

A quick fly ball and grounder later, the Bluefish were one out away from a victory. The next batter drew a walk, bringing the potential tying run to the plate.

The first pitch was called a strike and the crowd cheered.

Now, to me that pitch looked a little high, but, from my angle, I couldn't really tell inside/outside pitches so well. The batter began to argue with the homeplate umpire that the pitch was obviously outside. He's obviously trying win a game here, and the pressure is on, but you're not allowed to argue balls and strikes. The batter fumed and shouted a little more and then began to pace away from the batters box. Less than one minute had passed since the pitch call.

Rather than ejecting the batter or waiting for the batter to return to the batter's box, the umpire had the catcher get set and motioned to the pitcher that it was time to continue the game. The batter was fuming silently about 12 feet away from the plate. The pitcher set and looked long at the umpire, catcher and batter. The umpire motioned for a pitch.
Some shouting from the Bears' dugout got the batter's attention and he ran into the batter's box -- with his bat in position to swing -- just as the pitch was coming in. No swing. Strike two.

As you can imagine, the batter had some even choicer words for the umpire this time and he was immediately ejected from the game. Then it got a little ugly. I honestly thought he was on the verge of using his bat for some non-verbal emphasis, but it was taken from him by one of the coaches and players who had come running out of the dugout. It took two large teammates to back him away from the umpire. (The batter was a bit on the small side. I believe he was their 3rd baseman.)

The batter eventually left the field, but the manager and coaches were arguing furiously with the umpires. I'd say it took about 5 to 7 minutes before the game was ready to continue.

The new Bears' batter inherited the 0-2 count, with 2 out and a runner on 1st. He clocked the first pitch into center field, moving the lead runner to third.

The next batter hit a line drive to right-center. The lead runner scored and the tying run was on second; the go-ahead run on first. For anyone regularly attends Bluefish games, this is all too familiar.

Happily, however, the next batter was struck out. WE WIN, 9 to 8!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2005

Consumer Report: Disposable Razors

If you're trying to save a few bucks and opt for a package of disposable razors, don't buy Care One™. They're an el cheapo version of the Bic™ razors.

Back when I used to buy disposable razors all the time (in college and throughout my 20s), I bought Bic razors and would get at least two good shaves out of each one. A third shave would usually risk a cut or two.

But Care One? I just went through two of their crappy razors and actually cut myself for the first time in about 15 years. Not once -- about four times.

I bought this bag of 12 razors and I've got 10 left that I can either gouge into my neck or toss into the garbage can. Hmm. Maybe I'll give them another chance. I'll just remember to change razors more frequently. I'll get through a shave with about four of them. That might work.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 16, 2005

The Perfect Storm

Well, another late night at the shop -- this time trying to solve one mystery but ended up solving a different mystery. First mystery will have to wait 'til morning.

But, since I can't stand the though of someone clicking my name and finding no new post, I'll just write briefly about, yep, the weather.

The days leading up to Sunday were increasingly hazy, hot and humid. By Sunday afternoon it'd become stifling. I was at my computer -- which is right by an open window -- with sweat pouring out my from forehead to my shins. Not a whiff of a breeze was passing by and, yes, I was dressed in nothing but my blue Bart Simpson "eat my shorts" shorts.

Then it started to get dark. "Hmmm, a little early for it to be this dark," I thought. Within an hour or so the rumbling started. I thought that perhaps a jet was flying by high overhead. But the rumbling kept a-coming. It was thunder -- rolling in from far, far away.

Within a short time, the thunder was constant. One roar would build and roll and, just as it began to fade, another was building up -- from a slightly different direction. Continuous thunder getting louder and louder; closer and closer.

Then the breeze! Sweet, cool and smelling like rain, it came in from the window right beside me in a steady flow punctuated by impressive gusts. Lightening was becoming more and more frequent and bright. The storm built up faster and faster. Within minutes of the first breeze the neighborhood was in a windy, noisy downpour complete with what I decided to call "strobe lightening". It was as continuous as the thunder. It lasted about twenty minutes.

**flash!** **flashy-flash!** **flashy-flashy-flashy-flash!** **flash!**

Then, it left as quickly as it arrived. We've had a few of these over the past couple of weeks, but this one was super cool. For the past two days we've had the most relatively cool, crisp, perfect days of the summer. It's more like mid-September than mid-August. Long jeans and a t-shirt are comfortable; the t-shirt's not too little, the jeans aren't too much. There's a high semi-cloudcover, so the sun isn't out all the time baking us, but the clouds are thin and white, and the air is dry. Sweeet.

Stephen Macklin wrote about the build-up and his anticipation of the sights and sounds. RP wrote about his family's enjoyable experience after their power went out. If they hadn't written their posts I probably wouldn't have bothered to write mine. I dunno... It's just kinda fun when several bloggers can write about the exact same event yet give their own individual experience of it.

Solving the mystery of the ink resistant plate material tomorrow wont be so fun, but it should be.... int'risting.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2005

The Great Raid

When I was about 7 or 8 or 9 years old, back in the early '70s, my paternal grandfather (whom we called Grampy) was driving us up along a familiar stretch of highway that I would years later learn to call the 25-8 connector. I'd travelled this route many times before with my mother at the wheel. But, recently (at the time) a new sign had appeared:

Colonel Henry Mucci Highway

"Colonel Henry Mucci Highway," Grampy muttered. "Hmmph... Good."

Although I wondered, I never asked him who Col. Henry Mucci was. In fact, up until about a week ago I had no idea who Henry Mucci was.

Colonel Henry A. Mucci is a native of my hometown; Bridgeport, Connecticut. He led a team that rescued about 500 Americans held prisoner by the Japanese in the Philippines. The POWs were survivors of the Bataan Death March.

The Great Raid is a new release from Miramax that tells the story -- apparantly in muted (meaning honest, not cinematic) tones -- of the rescue of those 500 Americans. I've read several glowing reviews this past week and, yes, I may actually set foot inside a movie theater in the next few days for the first time in over ten years.

One review is not so favorable It comes from the desk of New York Times critic Stephen Holden.

This 132-minute Miramax film, completed two years ago and dumped into the marketplace during the dog days of August, reputedly cost $80 million. Not since Ted Turner's stillborn boondoggle "Gods and Generals" has a war film squandered so much on such emptiness.

Scott at Powerline destroys Holden's posturing and also points to Judge William's short review.

I'll, in turn, point you to this review.

Can a man be called a hero if he's "just doing his job"? That, I think, depends on what he thinks his job is.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 13, 2005

And So It Began... 15 years ago

When I was about eight or nine or ten years old, my sister chided me for saying or doing something unusual. (Don't ask for details, I have no idea what the context was.)
I shrugged and (mistakenly) said, "Hey, it's a free world!"

"No," some adult corrected me waving his finger. "It's a free COUNTRY. It's not a free world."
Even before he said it I think I knew he was right. Maybe I was just thinking wishfully.

While doing some research for a post that I want to write (and would have posted on Wednesday the 2nd if I had time during the week to do research), I came across this loverly little threat:

"If you use pressure, we will deploy pressure and force. We know that you can harm us although we do not threaten you. But we too can harm you. Everyone can cause harm according to their ability and their size. We cannot come all the way to you in the United States, but individual Arabs may reach you."

--Saddam Hussein to U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie, 25 July, 1990

(There's a sizable excerpt of the infamous Hussein/Glaspie meeting here. Fascinating read.)

15 years ago last Wednesday, August 2nd, Iraqi troops crossed the border and seized Kuwait. Before Saddam would roll, he wanted to know what a U.S. response to his aggression would be. After his meeting with Ambassador Glaspie, Saddam felt assured that the U.S. would consider it none of our business. He felt assured of that because he was:

"But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.

I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late 60's. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America. James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction. We hope you can solve this problem using any suitable methods via Klibi or via President Mubarak. All that we hope is that these issues are solved quickly."

--Ambassador April Glaspie, 25 July, 1990

Saddam had troops at the border then, ready to go. Clearly he called the meeting with Glaspie in order to make sure that the United States was neutral on the matter before he pulled the trigger. Saddam was to have a meeting with Egyptians, Kuwaitis and Saudis to "find a solution" to the border dispute.
Addressing concerns about his troop movements, Saddam says unambiguously:

"...President Mubarak told me they were scared. They said troops were only 20 kilometers north of the Arab League line. I said to him that regardless of what is there, whether they are police, border guards or army, and regardless of how many are there, and what they are doing, assure the Kuwaitis and give them our word that we are not going to do anything until we meet with them.

When we meet and when we see that there is hope, then nothing will happen. But if we are unable to find a solution, then it will be natural that Iraq will not accept death, even though wisdom is above everything else. There you have good news."

Saddam wanted good relations with the U.S., and it's probably safe to say that if April Glaspie either told Saddam that the Americans would look unfavorably on aggression or, even, said nothing of substance at all, that Saddam would have thought longer and harder, and may have scrapped his plan for invasion completely. But, with the U.S. apparantly out of the mix, Saddam was free to settle the dispute his way.

Okay, so it's the 15the anniversary, so what? Why am I writing about this? Because this, more than anything else, I think, is where the chain of events that led to 9-11, the War on Terror and our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan began.

Just as an aside, I'm wondering why it was policy not to openly express an opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts.

My guess is that it's because the sides that we favor would be out of favor with many in the Middle East. Anwar Sadat was assassinated for signing a peace treaty with Israel. The "we don't want to state a position publicly" policy might have had some strategic merit, but, in this case -- with Saddam and Kuwait both open to good relations with America -- perhaps a preference for a given Arab-Arab resolution might have benefited all involved.

Oh, well. Visualize peace. Hindsight is 20/20.......

President George Herbert Walker Bush was meeting with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when news of the invasion of Kuwait came in. The official neutrality on the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border dispute was suddenly moot. Saddam wasn't simply tweaking a map's borderline, he was annexing the entire nation Kuwait as the 19th province of Iraq.

President Bush was, at first, reluctant to respond with saber-rattling. He wanted some time to think it through a little more. Privately, Prime Minister Thatcher famously implored him not to "go wobbley" at this juncture -- wouldn't be prudent. Bush's later response was not even more forceful, it was resolute: "This aggression Will. Not. Stand."
(I remember, very clearly, thinking at the time that it was Thatcher's influence more than anyone else's that inspired Bush's resolve to eject Saddam from Kuwait.)

After a deadline for Saddam's withdrawal had been set (Jan 15th, '91), President Bush gave a speech before a joint session congress. Some of what he said that night:

We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective -- a new world order -- can emerge: a new era -- freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony.

A hundred generations have searched for this elusive path to peace, while a thousand wars raged across the span of human endeavor. Today that new world is struggling to be born. A world quite different from the one we've known. A world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle. A world in which nations recognize the shared responsibility for freedom and justice. A world where the strong respect the rights of the weak.

This is the vision that I shared with President Gorbachev in Helsinki. He and other leaders from Europe, the Gulf and around the world, understand that how we manage this crisis today could shape the future for generations to come.

The test we face is great -- and so are the stakes. This is the first assault on the new world that we seek, the first test of our mettle. Had we not responded to this first provocation with clarity of purpose, if we do not continue to demonstrate our determination, it would be a signal to actual and potential despots around the world.

America and the world must defend common vital interests. And we will. And the world must support the rule of law. And we will. America and the world must stand up to aggression. And we will.
And one thing more -- in the pursuit of these goals America will not be intimidated.

The date that he delivered that speech was September 11th, 1990.

It's never been a secret that it was the presence of American and other Western troops on Saudi soil during -- and since -- Operations: Desert Shield and Desert Storm that turned millionaire oil heir Osama Bin Ladin from a run of the mill xenophobe to a murderous madman. The liberation of Kuwait and even the recent liberation of Iraq are not important to Osama. But, the presence of non-muslim troops with guns is.

Maybe it's just that Freedom puts people that are different from him on an equal footing with him. I can't get into his head, but if Osama thinks that this about Arab sovereignty then he's a myopic moonbat. If he thinks that this is about religion then he's a tyrant.

Do I care what Osama Bin Ladin thinks? Yes. And I can read the names of over 3,000 reasons why I care.

Bottom line, IMHO:

Weaken and/or oust the tyrants;
allow liberty to take hold;
make sure it is secure and, finally;
reduce U.S./coalition troop presence to pre-1990 levels -- meaning: zero. This is in our national interest.

It may take time, but, in the end, the People will be free of the fear of torture for simply dissenting from the majority. The culture and character of the People does not have to be "Americanized", it need only be freed to flourish peacefully. In this time the state of foreign nations is not only, obviously, in our own national interest, it is in the interest of every nation's People who long to defend their thoughts and emotions by simply shrugging and saying "hey, it's a free country".

Visualize Freedom. Peace will follow.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 04:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 12, 2005

Maybe we need a 9-11 Commission Commission

The big dogs in the blogosphere are doing a great job covering the cover-up by the 9-11 Commission about the "wall" that prohibited Clinton administration military intelligence and U.S. Attorneys from sharing with the FBI what they knew about anything.

I really want to know why that wall was put in place in the first place. Not that I'm given to conspiracy theories, but something really doesn't add up here. Since it can only hamper the investigation of crimes, why in the world would erecting the wall even enter into anyone's mind?

Could the reason have been, oh, I don't know, maybe.... to hamper the investigation of crimes?

I'm just askin' is all.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 11, 2005

One Year Ago Today

It's not that I got nothin', it's that I got no time or energy left after a long day in this awful heat and humidity to show you what I got. So, in the spirit of network prime time, I present a summer re-run!

From August 11th, 2004, I give you:


Fisking Helen Thomas, that is.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt when they write something untrue, and imagine they just haven't gotten the lowdown, or are just too dumb-struck with tunnel vision to see all of the facts.
But, when it comes to someone like Helen Thomas, who's supposedly well-read and, thus, "clued in" to the facts, then I gotta wonder if she's either pathologically willfully ignorant, or simply just a lying old hag.

From her most recent column I present:

Kerry Forgot Vietnam Lesson In Voting To OK Iraq War

BOSTON -- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry made a name for himself more than 30 years ago as a passionate anti-Vietnam war protest leader. But something happened on the way to the U.S. Senate where he adopted that exclusive club's credo: "To get along, go along.''

So far, so good. The Invisible Senator hasn't accomplished much at all in his 19 years there. He seems to like letting his 99 colleagues do the work, then get the gyst of what they've recommended and vote up or down.
But, I dunno Helen. At times he also seems to be the NASCAR Senator , content to just take his seat and turn left for 500 miles.

Surely he hasn't forgotten he fought the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time in Vietnam and the ensuing quagmire that caused the greatest domestic division in the United States since the Civil War.

Well, he sure hasn't forgotten that he fought in the war. But, fighting (protesting) the war? Funny, he never mentions it.

Why didn't those memory bells ring for him when he voted last year for a resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to invade Iraq?

Actually that was two years ago. But time flies by faster and faster as you get older, so we'll let that one slide.

That resolution was a replica of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution that took the country into Vietnam and gave the president the power to do anything necessary for national security -- with few questions asked.

Yes, it was. And I was surprised that more people didn't bring that up at the time. The resolution passed in the Congress 534 to 1.

Still, the Congress can just as easily revoke it if they wanted to.

Kerry won medals ["won", not "earned"? What was he doin', competing in the Jungle Olympics? - TS] for his heroism in Vietnam and his war record has been proudly paraded at the Democratic Party's National Convention where his Vietnam veteran buddies and an array of top retired military brass skeptical about the Iraq war were in the spotlight.

Like the rest of the country, Kerry now knows that all the major reasons cited by Bush to justify his war of choice -- the alleged weapons of mass destruction, Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaida and the imminent threat allegedly posed by Iraq -- have turned out to be false.

Aah, finally, we've come to your first swooping bevy of moonbattery!

"War of choice". Every war is a war of choice -- even a defensive war where the alternative is surrender.

But, of course, what you meant by that was "A war that we started, where our actions ended the status quo of Peace." The "peace" that you so sorely miss was a 12-year cease-fire that existed only because the U.N. and the U.S. refused to hold Saddam to the terms of the end of Desert Storm. It was years of Iraqi anti-aircraft guns shooting at our patrol planes. That "peace" was years and years of the filling-up of mass graves, imprisonment of children, of torture chambers and rape rooms. And "peaceful" payments, from Saddam to you, if your son "martyred" himself for the cause of Islamist theocracy in the garden of Isreal.

More on this later, dear Helen.

"the imminent threat allegedly posed by Iraq". Once again, with feeling: Bush. Never. Said. That. Saddam. Was. an Imminent. Threat. He said that we couldn't wait until he was because that would mean that he -- with his un"alleged weapons of mass destruction, Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaida" -- would have the capability of enabling a nuclear "dirty bomb" (or other such device). Maybe you just need to pop a few Cognimax pills and everything'll be fine.

Bush has neither apologized nor offered an acceptable explanation for that immense national deception that is still taking American and Iraqi lives daily.

Maybe because there was no deception. J'ever entertain that possibilty? Of course not; and I doubt that that consideration is imminent.

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Kerry socked it to Bush without mentioning him by name. In several pointed remarks in his address to the delegates, the challenger hit Bush's obvious vulnerabilities and credibility problems.

"I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war,'' Kerry said. "I will have a vice president who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will listen to the best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an attorney general who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.''

Wow, I'm convinced. So much empty rhetoric, so many rote accusations, so little evidence. I guess that just saying it makes it so! What more can a barking moonbat ask for?!

Kerry also took a swipe against Bush's militant foreign policy but stopped short of saying what other senators have said: That if they knew then what they know now, they never would have supported Bush's unilateral and unprovoked decision to attack Iraq. Somehow, Kerry cannot cross that bridge, apparently fearing he will be called "unpatriotic'' or accused of not supporting the troops in Iraq.

Welp, he's actually come out and said that he would have voted for the war anyway. I guess he's even more frightened and uncourageous than you thought! What a lame-ass, eh?

But he has some second thoughts.

read: developing strategy.

He promised the delegates -- and the nation -- that, "as president, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics.''

read: blah blah blahbiddy blah...

He was obviously referring to Bush's blame-shifting to the CIA for providing him with the flimsy data he flaunted to back up a war he already wanted.

As opposed to what... blaming himself for reading it? Did you skip your naptime again?

"Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so,'' Kerry said. "And proclaiming 'mission accomplished' certainly doesn't make it so,'' he said in another jab at the president's past statements.

Okay, Helen, now I know what you're doing, you clever gal you! You're presenting a farse, right? You're actually making fun of those rediculously partisan idiotarians that want to convince us that they actually believe that "mission accomplished" was one of "the President's past statements"! That those words actually came out of his mouth and not just two words on a banner that the returning sailors on the U.S.S. Lincoln had put up to celebrate their homecoming! Oh, you had me so-o-o fooled for a minute there!

Oh, wait. You're not joshing? That's not a smirk to let me in on the joke? You're serious?!!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! dammit, my sides...

Kerry promised that he would "bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.''

Vietnam, Panama, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti... Do any of these ring a bell?

What was missing in Kerry's good [sic] speech was a roadmap to peace and reconciliation in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

Reconciliation? Reconciliation?!

Kerry and his nominating convention cloaked him in the Vietnam theme all week long. It's a shame that he seems to have forgotten another lesson he could have learned from Vietnam: He can best support the troops in Iraq by bringing them home as soon as possible.

Let's see now.

We were in Vietnam attempting to drive back the Communist invaders from the north thus to secure liberty in the south. We had no direct national interest, just the sneaking feeling that maybe we should bare any burden to support any friend and oppose any foe in the defense of liberty.

We're in Iraq and Afghanistan because our nation was brutally attacked three years ago. We want to cut the snake of Islamist tyranny off at the head 'cause that's the only way to kill it.

The Islamist movement was driven out of Europe by the Crusades and, to this day, children in the middle east are taught in their schools that that was a setback to the solemn goal: to see that the world submits to Islamic law.

Feeling bitterly outcast, they try to needle their way outward through intimidation and terror. The creation of Isreal 56 years ago is seen as a further tresspass on the territory of Islam. The children of the muslim world are taught to hate Jews, and Jews they do hate. Passionately. Not so much because they're Jews (as opposed to Christians, Hindus or Buddhists), but because they're non-Muslims with a recent foothold in traditionally (to them) Islamic land.
They now populate Europe in astounding and increasing numbers in order to "Islamicize" the west by sheer force of their presence. It's not the past so much as the future that they focus on. Like a laser.

How do we best preserve Freedom from the religeous tyranny that this country was founded to defeat?

The answer, dear Helen, is to go to the source of the problem and do away -- premptively -- with the shallowness of theocracy that infests the entire region, and to bring to it the prosperity that comes with democracy. We are choosing between a future of religeous persecution, medieval Inquisitions, public stonings and misery, and one of enlightenment, liberty and prosperity.

That war has been fought and won before, but only because we knew that it was worth it. We now have to drag a backward, narrow-minded, tyranical sandtrap kicking and screaming into the 17th century, 'cause it's either that or a return to darkness.

In this day, at this time, the crossroad has been reached and we have a choice. Don't cower away and hope that everything'll work itself out. If you do then yer just in denial.
Persecution and terror, or; liberty and peace. That's our choice today.
Which shall it be, Helen? Which shall it be?

Which shall it be?

Posted by Tuning Spork at 10:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 08, 2005

Running #5 1/2 envelopes on a 1360? Impossible? P'shaw!


Yes, I was actually able to run 10,000 little coin envelopes through my Multigraphics 1360 printing press!

I wish I'd taken a picture of that jury-rigged machine. Not only to show you what it looked like, but to have a record for if/when the customer re-orders them.

Without going into megadetails -- which I tried to do yesterday resulting in the most long-winded, tedious description of simple mechanical baubles imaginable -- I'll just give a brief overview. Sort of a photo put to words. Hopefully not a thousand of 'em.

The problems I identified on thursday and the solutions to them that I found on Friday:

Problem: The back paper guide of the elevator (that keeps the pile of envelopes in a pile) can't get within 3 1/8" of the front guides (sheet seperators).

Solution: I made a back "spring guide" out of stiff cardboard by cutting a strip about 4" long and slipping through a convieniently placed slot in the paper guide's crossbar assembly. (Use your imagination. Like I said, no long tedious explanations here...) and used masking tape to secure it in place. The vertical strip of cardboard kept a nice moderate pressure on the back of the envelope pile, keeping it snugly up against the front guides (sheet seperators).

Problem: The guide wheel, due to the construction of the assembly and crossbars that keep it in place, can't get within 4" of the stop fingers.

Solution: I disassembled my other press' guide wheel assembly (a Multi 1250), and got rid of the obnoxious "shoulder" that a) keeps it secure on the crossbars and b) keeps it from reaching the edge of the 3 1/8" long envelope. Masking tape and a spare bolt from my nuts n' bolts can helped to fix it to the assembly ju-u-u-u-st close enough to reach the envelope.

The next problem was that I couldn't set it low enough to actually apply some pressure to the guide belt that was spinning under the envelope. No pressure means the envelope is not being kept snug against the stop fingers. I had to tilt the thing so that the wheel ran low, but that meant the the rear wheel would sit atop the other crossbar, not on the guide belt, leaving only that one forward wheel actually riding on the guide belt. This left the next problem intact:

Problem: The space between the pullout wheels and the guide belts is about 5", meaning that the pullout wheels are essentially tossing the envelopes onto the register board resulting in all manner of flappy, crooked, fall-as-they-may envelopes ambling through.

Solution: I disassembled the rest of the 1250's guide wheel assembly and masking taped the bars and wheel to set right at the lead edge of the register board's guide belts. There was still some room between the pullout wheels and that new guide wheel, but the floppiness was brought down to a minimum.

Problem: The paper height control bar hits at the very back edge of the envelope pile, causing the top of the pile to flop around rediculously.

Solution: This could not be solved. The bar is adjustable, but it was already as far forward as it was going to go. As luck would have it, it didn't cause a problem with keeping the envelopes below the sheet seperators so long as I kept the pile height at it's lowest possible setting.

Problem: The left oscillating register guide can only reach the last 1/4" or so of the envelope once it meets the stop fingers -- making the envelope not set squarely -- and the right spring guide can't reach it at all.

Solution: I simply taped strips of stiff cardboard to the side guides to extend them closer to the elevator frame. Duh.

It was a lot of trial and error at first. F'rinstance, I realized that I had to "coat" the cardboard on those last register side guides with scotch tape to make 'em slick enough so as not to impede the smooth flow of the envelopes. (Raw, bear cardboard can be quite un-slick.) But, when all was set in place, the envelopes ran like butter on Daisy Dukes.

Customer is picking up the envelopes up in the morning. Bossman is very pleased. Sometimes I just love my job.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 10:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 07, 2005

Link of the Month

The Emperor has penned a hilarious account of his first visit to a McDonald's that opened up way back when he was in the olde country. Reading McDonald's described by someone who hadn't grown up with it is a pretty bewildering and eye-popping experience in and of itself. Beverage alert!

And, I tried to write part deux of my previous post -- how I got the envelopes to run through the press -- but a blow-by-blow account of the miracle working was too tedious a read even for me. So, instead, I'll write a short discription of the weird apparata (word?) that I assembled.... tomorrow, after I actually run the job. And you'll get to find out if all actually worked out.

And when will autumn get here? My room is a frickin' sauna.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 07:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 06, 2005

McGiver Press, How May I Help You?

WARNING: This post will probably be tedious even for my fellow printing pressmen. (Anybody out there run a printing press?) I'm writing this more for my own amusement than for whatever readership I have left, mheh. Anyhoo...

A few days ago my boss asked me if I could run these #5 1/2 envelopes. They're little brown coin envelopes that measure 5 1/2" by 3 1/8". I grabbed one and put it on the press's register board to see if the side guides and the guide wheel could register it at the elevator frame.


Oh, right. A little nomenclature for the uninitiated is in order. Since most machine parts are named for what they are and/or what they do, this shouldn't be too hard to explain. I hope.

Here is the press that I run:


That's not my actual press, it's a photo I found online. But, it's the exact model -- Multigraphics 1360 -- that I run.

Anyway, at the front end of the press (the far end in the photo) is an elevator that the paper envelope pile sits on while it waits to be fed onto the register board. The height of the pile of envelopes is controlled by an up-and-down bobbing paper height control bar. As the paper is fed into the press the elevator will automatically raise the platform.

There are blowers along the sides to the paper pile that keep the paper fanned for easier grabbing by the suction feet. The suction feet will grab the envelope and feed it to the pull-out wheels which, in turn, feed it onto the register board where it is moved on a conveyer consisting of five 3/4"-wide guide belts. The envelope will be secured against the guide belts by one or more guide wheels and several spring guide strips that simply ride atop the guide belts. (This just keeps the stock from flying loosely all over the place.)

The envelope will be conveyed across the register board until it meets the stop fingers at the elevator frame. (Why is it call called an "elevator frame"? Beats me, but it's a complicated assembly that consists of what I'm going to mention in the next few paragraphs.) The stop fingers are several steel projections that move up and down as the press runs. When the envelope meets them they will be in the up position. The front of the envelope will be at the stop fingers while a guide wheel is just at the back edge, keeping it nice as snug against the stop fingers.

One other feature that needs to be mentioned at this juncture is the trip switch. The trip switch is located just along the same line of doohickies as the stop fingers, and is what tells the press "hey, there's a piece of paper here!". Without the trip switch, the press would need to make an impression every cycle. This would be bad 'cause if there's no paper passing through the image would be printed on the bottom impression cylinder, and the pages that followed would have that image on their back sides.

Anyway, once the envelope is caught between the stop fingers and a hard place, the oscillating left side register guide will move in and jog the envelope up against the stationary right side register spring guide. The envelope is now "registered". It is in position to be fed into the press, and every envelope that follows should be in that exact same position. (When you check your proofs to see if all of the images are in the same position on every sheet of paper, you are checking the "registration".) All of this so far happens in about half a second.

The stop fingers will then drop just as the feed rollers close, grab the envelope and feed it into the impression cylinder's grippers. The grippers are several 1/2"-wide clamps that pull the envelope through as it is then pressed between the impression cylinder and the blanket cylinder. The blanket cylinder is the one that carries the ink.

After the envelope is imprinted, it is fed to one of three gripper bars that rotate on the chain delivery. The chain delivery gripper bar carries the envelope all the way to the back of the press where it is dropped onto the pile of envelopes that took that same journey a moment earlier.


So, as I was saying, my boss asked me if I could run those little #5 1/2 envelopes. I checked to see if the guide wheel could reach forward enough (5 1/2") to hold them up against the stop fingers. It could. Of course, it could. I've run 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" the short way plenty of times.

But, could I set the register guides to have the envelopes meet two of the stop fingers? (The stop fingers are several inches apart.) The 3 1/8"-wide envelopes ju-u-u-u-st made it, but there was little elbow room. I would have to be precise when I made the plate, but that's certainly do-able.

Next question was: "Since I have to have the 3 1/8"-wide envelopes meet this exact spot, at these two stop fingers and the trip switch, is there a gripper on the impression cylinder that is in place to take it once it's through the imprression phase?" I ran one through by hand. Yes!
"Will it meet up with a gripper on the chain delivery's gripper bars?" Yes, right there! Perfect placement. Apparantly the machine was designed with this very job in mind.

So, I said to bossman "Yes, I can run these." "Are ya sure?" "Sure."

Thursday afternoon I grabbed a box of 500 envelopes and set the machine up to run them. I didn't want to waste envelopes, so I set the image in place by using some card stock that I'd cut down to size. The image was perfectly centered and the cards were running flawlessly. Time to start printing on the envelopes!


The envelopes went through just fine except for one little thing: the bottom flaps (the secured ones, not the open ones) weren't glued down tightly They were glued near the very bottom edge, but the whole flap wasn't secure and they were catching on the stop fingers. A whole pile of envelopes -- with perfectly centered images -- had mangled bottom flaps on the back. Dumpster food.

I lowered the stop fingers to try to have them drop below the loose-fitting flaps as the envelopes passed over them. Still catching. Still crap. I lowered the stop fingers some more. Still catching and tearing the supposed-to-be-glued-down-tight-but-aren't bottom flaps! I lowered the stop fingers until they were letting the envelopes fly through the elevator frame before the feed rollers came down to grab them. Bad.

I lowered the feed rollers to put them more in sync with the stop fingers. They grabbed them on cue, but too soon for the impression cylinder's grippers. Very bad. And to add insult to injury, the envelopes' flaps were STILL catching on the stop fingers. There was no way in Helsinki that these envelopes were going to run cleanly through the press like this. The only solution was to run them sideways -- so's as there're no supposed-to-be-glued-down-tight-but-aren't flaps to catch on the stop fingers.

There are several reasons why I can't run the envelopes through sideways. F'rinstance:
1) The back paper guide of the elevator (that keeps the pile of envelopes in a pile) can't get within 3 1/8" of the front guides (sheet seperators).
2) The paper height control bar hits at the very back edge of the envelope pile, causing the top of the pile to flop around rediculously.
3) The space between the pullout wheels and the guide belts is about 5", meaning that the pullout wheels are essentially tossing the envelopes onto the register board resulting in all manner of flappy, crooked, fall-as-they-may envelopes ambling through.
4) The guide wheel, due to the construction of the assembly and crossbars that keep it in place, can't get within 4" of the stop fingers.
5) The left oscillating register guide can only reach the last 1/4" or so of the envelope once it meets the stop fingers -- making the envelope not set squarely -- and the right spring guide can't reach it at all.

I actually did run some envelopes through just to see what would happen.

"Impossible," I told bossman Friday morning.

"Thing is," he said nervously, "I promised this job for next week. The most reasonable place that I can outsource it to said it'd take three weeks. The second most reasonable place would charge me more than I'm billing the customer. Try to find a way to do it, please."

Ooooookay. I can't run this job on this press. But, I have to. So, we go into McGiver mode.


[TO BE CONTINUED pork chops are done]

Posted by Tuning Spork at 04:47 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 05, 2005

Know Your Scam Spam

The fake PayPal maggots are up to a new trick. I just got this email today:

You have added as a new email address for your PayPal account.
Um... No I didn't.

When I copy/pasted the text of the email into wordpad, the underlined hyperlink automagically displays the URL:


If you did not authorize this change or if you need assistance with your account, please contact PayPal customer service at:
Same hyperlink: []>

Notice the "s" after "http". That's the giveaway that it's a scam email. PayPal will never ever email you a link to a secure page. They always make you type in your password to log in.

Thank you for using PayPal!

The PayPal Team

Please do not reply to this e-mail. Mail sent to this address cannot be
answered. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and choose the
"Help" link in the header of any page.

Then they add this, just to try and establish some trust:


NEVER give your password to anyone and ONLY log in at
https://www. Protect yourself against fraudulent websites
by opening a new web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer or Netscape) and typing
in the PayPal URL every time you log in to your account.

Well that's fine advice. Notice the "https" even though it's supposed to be the PayPal homepage. Duh! And, of course, that hyperlink goes to []. I mean, fer cryin' out loud, the link would work even though there's a superfluous space between "www." and "paypal".
(Actually, I just tried the links. They open in a new window, not on the Juno web tab. "This page cannot be displayed". Juno is pretty good at blocking virus-laden emails and, I guess, scamspam, too. Yay!)

So, like the scambot says, protect yourself against fraudulant websites.

This has been a public service announcement from the good folks at Blather Review.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 01, 2005

location, location, location

When you own a business, location doesn't matter so much if you do manufacturing or "niche" work. Customers will find you. But, if you want to own a deli or a gas station, location is vital to your success.

In the small shopping plaza where I work there is one unit in the opposite corner that has changed owners quite a few times in the past eight years. For the past several years it's been three differant Chinese restaurants. The first two -- with forgettable names -- tried and failed. The new one -- it openned about four months ago -- is called Lucky Corner.

In a nearby strip of shops, called Red Bush Plaza, just off of the main road is a unit that used to be Richie's Texas Chili & Deli. Richie was a great guy, but he had horrible food except for his award-winning chili. He had a great location on the Post Road in Milford (next door to us) and, throughout the '70s and '80s, did great business.

About eight years ago the strip we were in was bought by Town Fair Tire and we all had to find a new locale. We, being a print shop, weren't as location-dependent as Richie was. My boss chose our current spot. Richie chose a bad spot. If he hadn't died of cancer six years ago his business would have died five years ago. Hope yer, Richie!

The unit was empty for some time until along came Tom and his Max's New York Deli.

Tom's food was worse than Richie's -- to me, anyway. He had the basic Boar's Head selection and, with a good location, could have done a brisk business. But he was in a bad spot and he didn't even have Richie's chili to save him. Oh, he had chili, but it wasn't Richie's chili. I rarely ate there, and when I did I usually regretted it. Everything was greasy. I'd order a grilled ham and cheese with tomato on rye and threre'd be liquid dripping from the thing as I tried to eat it. Tom never built up a good customer base and, somewhere, he just stopped caring.

Most of his money was in his free delivery. Sometimes he had an employee, but usually it was just Tom and a sign that read "Back in 5 minutes". About six months ago I noticed that Max's New York Deli had gone dark.

About four months ago my old boss asked me if I knew what had become of Tom. "No," I said, "why do you ask?".

Apparently he'd been living in his car and the store for some time, he was a few months behind in his rent and he'd, well... disappeared. The police were on a manhunt.

Two months ago the unit re-opened as Emilio's Italian Deli & Bakery. They've been dark for the past week and a half. I start to wonder if prospective business owners at a rental property ever ask whatever happened to the previous tenant.

At least Lucky Corner is still there. For now.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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