Tuesday, April 11, 2006 

Words From the Right

I start tonight's post in a state of semi-disbelief, dear reader. You see, for most of the 1990's, the majority of my generation looked at former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as someone not only not to be trusted, but to be outright taken as a truly partisan lunatic. And yet, I sit here tonight, having just heard what could easily be the slogan which wins the House back for the Democrats and it came from none other than Newt Gingrich himself.

Two simple words: Had Enough.

Two simple words which will most likely resonate and clang around in the minds (if not hearts) of the vast majority of the voting populace come November.

Gas Prices too high these days? Had Enough.
Scandal in the Congress? Had Enough.
The War in Iraq? Had Enough.
Leaks from the White House itself? Had Enough.

Two little words dear reader - from the words of a staunch Republican - which every Democrat in America needs to work into their campaign slogans.

Here's to hoping the party not currently running Congress actually listens to this one-time foe and heeds those two little words of advice. I know most of America is certainly ready for a change. One need look no further than the plummeting poll numbers of W and his band of merry men to realize that America certainly seems to have Had Enough.

One can only hope.

I'll be back tomorrow with another look at the world around me...And I would bet that column won't be an endorsement of anything which Newt Gingrich has to say. Once in a decade is probably enough :-)

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Monday, April 10, 2006 

Monday, Monday...

Is it just me or is Monday the most dreaded day in the world? I mean, seriously here. The vast majority of the planet would simply like to skip past Monday altogether and just move straight to Tuesday. We've all just finished up a weekend (hopefully a good one for you, dear reader) and are wistfully remembering things we did during those two days - or already planning things we're going to be doing with the next weekend we have coming.

Point of fact, my weekend ahead is going to be used for something much, much needed in my household: a brief reality check. This is otherwise known as a 'vacation'. We haven't taken one in so long however that I shudder to even use that word. Thanks to Friday being 'Good Friday', we are making a long weekend of it and bailing out of dodge for a couple of days. Ok, ok. So technically it's a 'mini-vacation' and not a 'full vacation' - so sue me. A break is still a break.

So let this serve as small notice to you dear readers, I will not be posting Friday, Saturday or Sunday of the coming weekend.

I know, I know. You're sitting there reading this and thinking 'what's this bastage doing that's more important than giving me something to poke fun at with his incessant ramblings?'. Two words dear reader: Florida. Beach. 'Nuf said.

I am going to take my better half, my two young guns, pack up the SUV and head out for some fun in the sun and some total relaxation. No work. No blogging. No honey-do lists. No yardwork. No fixing friends computers. Just sand, surf and sunshine. My apologies in advance for my absence, but hey, sometimes a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.

Don't worry though, I'll be back tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday with more views on the world around me to keep you occupied in my brief absence.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Saturday, April 08, 2006 

Saturday Night With The Kid

Tonight's episode of American Aegis is dedicated to all you thirty-somethings (and higher) out there who take the time to read this corner of cyberspace and who have children most especially.

Remember back in our twenties and late teens when we'd just be getting ready to go out at 10 p.m., wondering if maybe that was even a bit too early? So worried we were about getting to the clubs too early that we'd hang out and wait to go out. Fast forward now to present day. Here I am on a Saturday night, it's 10 PM, and I am about to put my 11 year old son to bed. What a day we've had together.

We spent most of the day today at an open event as his school, a 'fun day'. Big, giant blown up things to jump on, slide down, bounce around on, etc., etc., etc. The kids all jumped around and had fun. The parents, eh...Not so much. My face is sunburned. Florida remember. But that isn't the point. The point is, after that, and some other adventures this afternoon, we ended up back at home tonight, just the two of us. My much better half and our two year old are spending the night at my in-laws some hour and half away, leaving the 'big guy' and I to hang out today and tonight.

So, after our adventures today we ended up back at home discussing what to do with our night. We settled on watching the DVD version of 'Remember the Titans' - a great movie for those of you whom may not have taken the time to see it. And this, ladies and gents, is the highlight of my Saturday night these days - a movie with my 11 year old. No waiting in line to get into a smoke filled room to hang out with 'the beautiful people'. No loud music banging into my head. No staying awake until 5 AM.

Just my son, my DVD player, a couple of homemade smoothies, and me.

Saturday night with the kid.

For me, dear reader, it's been a darn fine night. Here's hoping yours is as good as mine.

I'll be back tomorrow with another look at the world around me.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Friday, April 07, 2006 

Fig Leafs, Florida and Fridays

So tonight I thought I would tie up a few loose ends.

Let's start with I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby and the ongoing CIA Leak investigation. As I discussed last night, Dick 'I shot the sheriff' Cheney's former Chief of Staff revealed in testimony before the grand jury that the authorization to leak classified information to reporters in order to try and gain some political advantage came directly from George W Bush himself. Over at Newsweek, Eleanor Clift has an entire piece on how this equates to the final fig leaf being peeled away from Bush and his supposed 'higher moral ground' that he claimed to come into office with. Remember those heady campaign days back in 1999 when W was touting his potential administration as one that would 'restore honor and dignity to the White House'? Much like I commented on last night, Clift and the good people over at Newsweek certainly remember. Nice to not be alone out here :-) Obviously, this story is one I will continue to watch daily, as should you dear reader.

Loose end number two: How 'bout those Gators?!? Again, as I have written previously, it should be no surprise that I was elated that my beloved Gators won this years Men's NCAA Basketball Championship. What is a surprise - and what I can only consider more providence from above - is that today brought an announcement those of us in Gator nation are still in shock about: the core of the Gators' championship team has decided to forego entering the NBA draft and hold off on making millions individually. Why would they do such a thing? Are they crazy? Don't they all want to be sitting pretty sipping crystal and polishing your bling on a daily basis if you're these recently crowned champions and can write your own ticket into the NBA? I'm sure they do. Refreshingly however, they all are currently saying they would rather put the team ahead of their own individual desires.

Now, for those longtime readers of this cyberspace, you'll know I have big issues with idiot sports millionaires such as Terrell Owens and Barry Bonds who put their own desires and egos ahead of not only their teams, but their entire sports'. In such a day and age where prima donna's such as those two are rewarded and held up as heroes, is there any more of a refreshing thing to see than a group of young men who prefer to stay together and try and repeat as champions? Not in my book dear reader. Not in my book.

Finally, it's Friday. Like most people I know, I look forward to Fridays like no other day of the week because I know that Friday means I am going to have two full days to spend with my family without having to worry about the daily pressures of my career. So, here's to hoping dear reader, that you're Friday brings a smile to your face and that the weekend ahead brings renewed energy and recharged batteries for you and yours.

I'll be back tomorrow, Saturday or not :-)

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Thursday, April 06, 2006 

Hand in the Cookie Jar...

Well, well, well. For those of us paying attention (and this includes you, dear reader), today was an extremely enlightening day with regard to just how far the Bush administration is willing to go to protect itself politically.

Former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff, I. Scooter Libby, testified before a Grand Jury and specifically said that the authorization to 'out' covert CIA operative Valerie Plame came directly from George W Bush himself. In documents filed by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald today, it was revealed that Libby testified to this fact in front of the Grand Jury itself.

This is the proverbial smoking gun ladies and gents. If it proves to be true, and there is every indication that it may, then W has now been proven to be the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon himself. It also proves that this president has utterly abused his power as Commander in Chief. NBC news has a great piece on the ins and outs of the subject and where things currently stand.

Now, to those who know me, it will come as no shock that I now feel completely liberated in stating once more for the record: George W Bush is the worst President of my lifetime, and quite possibly in the modern history of the office. The man has lied to us at every turn. He lied to us about WMD's being in Iraq. He lied to us about 9/11 in making a connection to Saddam Hussein. And he has lied to us about his own involvement in 'Plamegate'. He told us all two years ago that if it was shown that any person in his administration had knowingly leaked classified information that the person should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I wonder, dear reader, if Bush has half as much class as Nixon did in realizing that he was hurting the country and if he will have the moxy to own up to this fact and simply resign.

Somehow, sadly, I think not. Instead, we are to be subject to 3 more years of utter lies coming from a man who swore to 'bring dignity and truth back to the White House' during his 2000 campaign.

I'll be back tomorrow with another look at the world around me...unless W sends the FBI to 'out me' as a patriotic American and then uses his bully pulpit to make the term 'patriotic American' synonymous with 'leper'.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 

Two For 1

Oh...
My...
Goodness!

Monday night, April 3rd, 2006 will be a day long-remembered in my household. In what I can only describe as providence from above, two of my long-standing prayers were answered in the same night: the University of Florida Gators won the 2006 NCAA Men's National Championship in basketball, and on the very same night, Rep. Tom Delay (R-Tx) announced he will not seek re-election and will be resigning from Congress!

Is this truly possible? Am I dreaming? Somebody pinch me quickly before I wake up!

Wow! Just...WOW!.

The Gators put on amazing show last night against the higher-seeded and much more storied UCLA Bruins. The total dismantling which occurred on national television was truly one for the ages as sophomore center Joakim Noah led the Gators to their first-ever national championship in basketball. Heck, it was the first time any basketball team from Florida had won the national championship in basketball. With several well-established universities in the state - From Florida State to Miami to Central Florida to Rollins to UF itself - the fact that this was the first basketball championship for the entire state speaks even louder volumes about what the Gators accomplished last night.

BILLY-BALL RULES!

Ok, now while I could spend the next twenty minutes or so expounding about why the Gators deserved this, and how gleeful I was to see them hand UCLA and it's overhyped 'defense which Florida will have a hard time scoring against' a serious whooping, I won't. My ecstasy should be readily apparent at this point. So I'll just say one last time: GO GATORS! WOOOHHOOOO!

Now for some serious stuff.

A day after I called on Texans to stop Delay-ing the inevitable and recall the idiot from Congress, the man himself did so. In announcing he would be resigning, Delay is hoping to remove a bargaining chip from the Democrats come November and the mid-term elections. His reasoning seems to be that if the opposition doesn't have Tom Delay to kick around and point to in regards to scandals and ethics violations, then the Republicans will have an easier go of it during the elections.

Are you kidding me?!? Does this idiot actually believe America is about to forget that he is knee deep in scandal simply because he resigns - or that the other party is going to give he and his cohorts a free pass simply because he's gone? No chance dear reader. In fact, I would say that the probability of that occurring is about as likely as my household forgetting sometime in the near future that the University of Florida just won an incredible national championship.

It seems like every other day one of Delays 'former associates' gets indicted for something. From money laundering to illegal contributions to tax evasion, I doubt very seriously that the tide is going to turn back in Delays favor perception-wise. And despite what prosecutors have told him, can there be little doubt that at least at some level, they have to be looking at his own personal involvement with the people they are continuing to hand down indictments against?

Yes, dear reader, last night was truly a 'Two for 1' special for me. Delay goes 'bye-bye' and the Gators win it all!

Time for me to go soak my bones in some hot bath water...All this jumping up and down is making me ache a bit :-)

I'll be back tomorrow with a much calmer look at the world around me...

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Monday, April 03, 2006 

Gator Nation

So, by a simple check of my profile, you'll easily ascertain that this Alaska boy is now a Florida transplant. I came down to the sunshine to thaw out some 12 years ago now - chasing a degree in audio engineering - and never went back to the great white north. Amazing what the beach can do for a person's mental and physical well-being isn't it?

While I have been living here, I have caught onto a Florida tradition: I've embraced a college sports team. Growing up in Alaska, the biggest University in the entire state is the University of Alaska Anchorage, more affectionately known as simply UAA up north. This leaves most Alaskans the freedom of choosing their own allegiances with both professional and collegiate sports teams. Being a basketball nut, I therefore grew up with a huge affinity for both Duke and North Carolina universities. But like I said, moving to Florida changes your perspective, heh.

My first year down here, the Florida State Seminoles were huge. Most of central Florida worships Bobby Bowden and his entire family to this very day. Me, I've always been an underdog aficionado. So naturally, I fell hard for the University of Florida Gators. Football. Basketball. I've even watched a little bit of the track and field teams performing over the years.

Imagine my glee then, that tonight, my beloved Gators are playing for the national championship in men's college basketball. Win or lose, it's been amazing year for Gators basketball and coach Billy Donovan. Down here, we call it 'Billy-ball'. The little coach who could, as it were. Donovan has built a program which is both powerful and fun to watch. Tonight, a national audience gets to experience it first hand.

I'd write more and detail all the why's and how's about my love of the Gators, but, apologies dear reader, I have a national championship game to go watch, hehe.

I'll be back tomorrow with another look at the world around me...And hopefully grinning from ear to ear in celebration of a Gators national championship.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Saturday, April 01, 2006 

Immigration Made Easy

So, unless you're stuck living under a rock these days, you are no doubt aware of the great debate raging across America currently. No, no. Not the one about whether or not Karl Rove actually has life-size hand puppets of W and Dick which we have all been watching on TV for the last 5 years. The other debate. Immigration.

Immigration seems to have blown up into this huge brouhaha in the last few weeks, in no small part due to Americans' security concerns. In a post-9/11 world, we are all busy looking over our shoulders to see when and where 'the evil-doers' are going to hit us again. Notice I didn't say 'if'. From coast to coast today, there were immigrants out in force to stand up and be heard. New York city itself was home to one of the largest protests against immigration reform it seems. Imagine that. People are protesting America enforcing our laws. Truly, utterly, ludicrous in my opinion.

We have a right to protect ourselves. We also have a right to regulate immigration into this country. But here's the kicker in my book: America was built on the backs of immigrants. This country was founded some 200+ years ago by immigrants. We are all immigrants here, whether first generation or 17th.

I do wholeheartedly believe that anyone who cares to live within this country should be forced to learn the national language. Not just because this is the tradition of our country, but because history shows us that national unity depends upon it. Show me any country in the world where there are multiple languages considered to be the 'national' language, and I will show you a country who has no true sense of nationalism. Canada comes close with both French and English being utilized so much. But realistically, even Canadians can't say they have a true sense of nationalism, nor show a majority of them that speak both the languages.

So here, dear reader, is my simple solution to this current immigration debate: America should simply annex both Canada and Mexico.

Yep, I wrote it. We should simply absorb both our neighbors to the north and south wholeheartedly. Think about this a moment. Canada's provinces get tagged as U.S. States, and Mexico is broken up into a couple of manageable states of its own. Solves the 'mexican immigration' issue flat out. It also makes it much easier to control our land-based borders as Mexico ends in a narrow strip of land connecting to South America and Canada isn't going to be invaded from its north side by anyone anytime in the near future.

Besides, have you heard 'O Canada'?!?! Dreadful. Seriously. Pathetic as far as national anthems are concerned.

Absorb 'em both and call it good. 90% of the problem solved in one fell swoop.

Or, I could of course be kidding about all of this and simply putting forth my April's Fools joke for your digestion.

I'll let you decide which it is dear reader. I'll no doubt be back tomorrow in a more serious mood.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Friday, March 31, 2006 

Texans: Stop Delay-ing the Inevitable

Let me start tonight by saying to those of you whom have sent in emails since my post last night: thank you very much for your concern and support. I was honestly very surprised to see how many people responded via email. That being said, and now for something completely different...

It's about time to send Texas back to Mexico.

I am sitting here shaking my head today in utter awe and total disgust at the fact that Texans continue to inflict Tom Delay upon the rest of the United States of America. Bad enough we've had to deal with W and his ilk for the last 5 years, but this idiot takes the cake.

How many times does a Senator have to be rebuked by his fellow Senators (something which only on the rarest of occasions happens to begin with) before Texans wise up and stop voting for this moron? Here's a man who has been reprimanded in the Senate twice already. And while he and his handlers continue their spin machine tactics to try and say he had absolutely nothing to do with the growing Abramoff scandal, does anyone with half a brain truly believe this crud?

Today, longtime Delay deputy chief of staff, Tony Rudy, pleaded guilty in open court and pledged to help the government as it moves forward in its investigation of both Delay, and other Senators on both sides of the aisle, who took illegal money from Jack Abramoff. It has long been speculated that Delay himself had very strong ties to Abramoff, but can anyone logically deny such a clear connection as a deputy chief of staff who ultimately pleads guilty in court and vows to help - along with Abramoff himself - stem the tide of growing corruption in Washington DC?

The old saying goes that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Tom Delay has proven time and time again that he thrives on power. And now, clearly, there can be no denying the fact that he is surrounded by - if not participating in - corruption himself.

When will Texans finally stop delaying the inevitable and simply recall this idiot? He's already been forced to give up his position of prominence within the Congress. No longer able to act as the defacto whip for the Presidents agenda on a whole host of issues, and America is beginning to see the direct connection between his not being there to push through the Bush agenda, and the Presidents clear failures of policy - especially when relating to the Congress itself.

We can only hope that tomorrow brings us the news that Texans have finally stood up and said 'No More Delay-ing!'. I for one, won't hold my breath until tomorrow in eager anticipation of an event that probably isn't going to happen. I will, however, no doubt be back tomorrow to kick some more sand in the faces of all the idiots who continue to support such a moron without any regard for the simple things in life. Like, 'truth', 'justice' or 'the American way'.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Thursday, March 30, 2006 

Love Is Never Easy...

I grew up living in houses back and forth between my grandparents and my mother. My biological father and I have not seen one another since I was six months old. The only reason I even know where he lives today is because when I was 19 years old, I went looking for him. Eventually, I found out he lives in Georgia today along with his second wife, and with a sister and two brothers I never even knew that I had. By reading that I spent a good portion of my younger years going back and forth to my grandparents you can imagine how I wondered whether or not my mother ever truly loved me.

Love has never been easy for me.

In various stages within my life, I've gone from it seeming like something I needed to pursue, to something I ultimately realized I had to stop chasing and wait until it found me. No matter how hard I worked to earn someone's love, it seemed, the harder it ran away from me. Until I stood still.

Eight years ago - after a first failed marriage of my own - I found a woman who simply, unequivocally, loves me. Even that wasn't easy. On the night we met, I spent several hours pouring drinks into her and her girlfriend who happened to be out on the town with her that night. This was of course in my younger, less 'tame' days. I then promptly proceeded to introduce her to one of my closest friends at the time, a buddy I worked with. I was in full blown match-making mode and tried, seriously, to help provide a love connection between the two of them. Funny thing is, I have done quite a bit of that in my lifetime. I have several friends to this day who would tell you that they wouldn't be married were it not for me having introduced them to the person they now call their 'better half'.

Growing up in Alaska, the ratio of men to women was 4 to 1. Those kinds of numbers tend to force you to sharpen your wit just a bit. You need something to stand out from the crowd, set yourself apart, and make a woman notice you. You can see by the picture at the top of this page, I bear no resemblance to Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, George Clooney or any other recognized male 'sex symbol'. Pretty far from it in reality. So I learned that I had to rely on other strengths if I was going to catch the attention of a lady. I developed a sense of humor. I learned to compliment a woman when most guys around me would overlook the fact that she was wearing a certain color that brought out the natural beauty of her eyes. I put aside the inhibitions most guys hide behind and realized that the worst thing a girl could do was say 'no' that she didn't want to hang out with me, be my friend or date me. And that, in and of itself, really wasn't that bad.

Rejection is not something I was born readily accepting, mind you. Heck, none of us are. But over the years, I developed what I consider an ability to bounce back quickly. Kick me, I'll fall down like anyone else. The difference is, I'll get back up and keep coming. Persistence, as it turns out, is one of my innante strengths.

Imagine my surprise then when, after all my best laid plans, the girl I met and tried to hook up with my buddy turned the tables on me. After going out with him twice, she called me. I remember it like it was yesterday. I imagine we all, in our own ways, remember the moment our lives changed due to finding someone to love us.

It hasn't always been easy. In fact, there have been times I imagine when we both wondered if we were going to make it to year 2. Then to year 3. Then to 5. Now, we've been together 8 years. 8 years she's put up with me. My mood swings. My failures. My mistakes. All of my faults... she let's every single one of them roll off her back like a duck does with water. We're facing a crisis right now in our lives - a huge one in fact. One of our sons, our two year old, was born with Idiopathic Scoliosis you see. A truly debilitating and frightening disease which manifests in the spine. Watching your two year old sons' spine curve to 86 degrees is one of the most heart-wrenching things I believe a parent could ever go through, short of losing your child. You wake up in a cold sweat sometimes, wondering if tonight is going to be the night it crosses 90 degress and into the dreaded 'life-threatening' area like the doctors have warned you is all but inevitable. You wonder how you're going to get through the rest of the night...the rest of the day...the rest of the week.

And then you turn to your left, or your right, and you see the person who shares your name...your life...your heart. And you remember that, through the grace of God almighty, and the love of this person staring back at you, you'll find a way to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

For tonight, dear reader, I can only say, I am thankful for the many blessings laid upon my table. My wife and children being at the very top of that list. Love is never easy...it makes you work for it, no doubt. But, I hope, somewhere in your life, as you sit there reading these words in this tiny corner of cyberspace, you truly know that you are loved.

As for me, I'll be back tomorrow with another look at life, the world around me, and how I continue trying to fit into it all.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 

Rock On!

As those of you whom have taken the time to actually read my profile will know, one of my major passions is music. Heck, one of my degrees is in Audio Engineering so that should tell you something about how much I love music in general. Music, and it's power over us, is something which has piqued my curiosity most of my life.

At an early age, I can remember my grandfather Gerald (who is a saint in my book) singing while working outside or in the garage when he was home from work. And I remember thinking to myself at around age 9 or so that my 'Pop' - as I have called him virtually since I could speak - could easily have been a huge star had he ever had the inclination to be a singer professionally. The man has a voice which is both unique and powerful, even to this day. If you ask him about it though, he'd deny it and even get a little bit embarrassed about it. Catch him in the garage tinkering though and you're going to get to hear a real treat as he'll probably be belting out an old Johnny Cash or Hank Snow tune.

As you can no doubt fathom by all of this, music has affected my life for as long as I can remember. I suspect it's affected yours as well, dear reader. How many times have you gone through a breakup and heard a song on the radio which reminded you of exactly what it was you were losing in the person you were breaking up with? How many times have you been depressed and heard one of your favorite songs come on which suddenly put a lit back into your step? Music - and it's ability to shake us, move us, motivate us, captivate us or even send us tumbling into the depths of our own souls for a short while - is one of the most powerful forms of communication in our lives.

What's my point with all of this today? Quite simply put, the choice of music a persons considers their 'favorite' speaks volumes about them as individuals. For me personally, there is no better band in the entire world today than U2. And even after more than two and half decades together, they still keep pumping out songs which resonate with people from all walks of life. This is well-evidenced by the fact that during the 2005 Grammy Awards, they were awarded the Best Song of the Year Grammy for 'Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own' off of their latest album 'How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb'. This is a song which the lead singer of the band - Bono - has gone on the record as saying he specifically wrote about his father, which resonates with me personally on so many levels I could probably fill an entire book about it. I'll spare you that (at least for today :-) and simply say you should sit down and truly listen to the lyrics of the song sometime.

There are so many U2 songs which apply to varying situations in my life. From virtually the entire 'Joshua Tree' album (which is top 3 of my all time favorite albums by anyone) and the haunting lyrics of 'Where the Streets Have No Name' right down to 'Sometimes...' from '...Bomb', U2's songs have followed me throughout my life, weaving a tapestry of emotion and keeping me company along this journey. It also doesn't hurt that they named an entire album after my grandfather - 1997's 'Pop' - which has another of my favorite songs of all-time, 'Please' on it.

So I wanted to take a moment today, dear reader, and remind you to 'listen to me now/I need to let you know/you don't have to go it alone'...

I hope your day is wonderful! I'll be back tomorrow with another look at the world around me and I how I continue trying to fit into it.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 

Shuffling the Deck

After 5 years on the job, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card announced his resignation today on live T.V., which MSNBC still has posted and you're welcome to watch. There are varying views on the real reasons behind why Card decided to announce his resignation and leave the post he has held since the beginning of the Bush Presidency. Jim VandeHei, a journalist I truly respect over at the Washington Post, has a pretty good write up on his thoughts about the timing of this move. Over at Newsweek, Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey have a good piece on the why's and what's behind the timing of the move.

Here, dear reader, is my humble take on things.

W and his neo-con cronies are sinking faster than the Titanic 19 minutes after it hit the iceberg. The president has a lower approval rating in every national poll than anyone since Richard Nixon - during the Watergate Scandal. Dick 'I-shot-the-sheriff' Cheney has the lowest Vice Presidential rating of any VP in the modern era. And don't even get me started on Karl Rove, please. Bush looked at this, and for the first time in his Presidency, he blinked. That classic Texas stubbornness of his - attractive to so many voters on the right-hand side of the aisle - has finally shown itself for what it truly is: an unwillingness to change or to grow. This is the first time in his Presidency that - while playing chicken with the pollsters - he's blinked and turned away first. So what did he do when faced with the reality that his policies from Iraq, to Katrina, to Health Care, to Social Security reform have all been total and utter failures?

He shuffled the deck. He threw Andrew Card under the wheels of the oncoming traffic.

Trying to stop the bleeding, he started listening to the Washington insiders who have been saying for months that he needed to shake up his staff and do something bold. And Andrew Card - ever the good soldier, always there to protect this President and his failures - took it squarely on the chin. Even on his way out the door today, he told reporters to blame him for the failure of this administration to recognize that the Dubai Ports World deal would blow up into the firestorm which it did. He said he was looking forward to now just being George W Bush's friend.

Mr. Card, if you ever read this, heed some advice from an American who truly loves this country: shuffle your deck of your friends.

I'll be back tomorrow unless I get hit by a bus or shot by the VP in a freak hunting accident on my way to work.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Monday, March 27, 2006 

BBB - Bonds Bad for Baseball

Yep. I just can't leave it alone. I've tried to. Just can't do it.

Barry Bonds is, in my humble opinion, almost as big of an idiot as I consider Terrell Owens to be. Those of you who know me, know that I consider Owens to be one step above pond scum and that in my opinion, he is the poster boy for what's wrong with America today. But I know plenty of people who care about the game of baseball that would proffer the same opinion about Barry Bonds.

Bonds was whining today about his 'life being in shambles'. This is all due to the unwanted, added media exposure he now faces due to the revelations made in the book Game of Shadows. The authors of the book, following up on two years worth of research and grand jury testimony stemming from the BALCO investigation, detail how Bonds has lied, cheated, and injected steroids in his quest to pass Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron on the list of all-time baseball greats. Bonds, of course, denies the allegations.

Ok, let's review that for a second. We have a man who is using banned substances in order to cheat his way to the top of his game. He's become the walking poster boy for all that is wrong with a game which millions of people - worldwide - love, and which America celebrates as it's national past time. He's been showered with accolades, adulation and is making millions of dollars every single year just to play a game. And now his 'life is in shambles' because he got caught?!?!

Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

Here's the real kicker in my book for you though, dear reader - I don't even like baseball. What I do like is America. And guys like Barry Bonds and Terrell Owens flat out disrespect not only the games they are paid to play, they disrespect the fans who pay to watch those games and they disrespect America itself. By being dishonest to their sport, they are being dishonest to us, dear reader.

But hey, that's just my take and I could be wrong. I'll be back tomorrow with another look at the world around me and another topic I might be wrong about :-)

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Sunday, March 26, 2006 

Weekend Warriors

Good day to you, dear reader, and let me start his post today by offering up an apology. It seems there are more people reading this little corner of cyberspace than I might have imagined, as I received no less than 5 emails yesterday asking me why I had not posted on Thursday. One reader - a person I don't even know, mind you - even asked "are we to expect you to be taking even more days off in the near future?". Needless to say, I laughed at the query. In any event, good day to you and yours, and I shall endeavor to do better. My apologies :-)

So today is Sunday, March 26th, 2006. A weekend. And while I should be getting ready to go to church at the moment (apologies Kosma, but some of us do believe in that silly little thing called 'God') I wanted to take a moment and point out something seemingly obvious this morning. Americans - and their 'weekend warrior' routines - are totally hilarious. Think about it a moment. America has produced two gigantic retail chains now which are specifically designed with the 'weekend warrior' in mind: Home Depot and Lowes. Between these two alone there are more than 3700 massive 'home-improvement' stores scattered across North America, with Home Depot listing roughly 2000 currently and Lowes having more than 1700. Between the two of them they did more than 3 billion dollars worth of business last year alone.

This struck me in a very peculiar manner yesterday morning. You see I am currently in the middle of a serious 'home-makeover'. I own my home, as do millions of Americans, and realize that it is the single largest investment I have made thus far in my life. Therefore, it goes without saying, I want it to retain as much value as possible. Living in Florida, I am utterly amazed at how property values continue to skyrocket on a yearly basis. But, even if you have a great piece of land - unless you're on the beach - having an ugly looking structure on that piece of property will result in an appraisal of your value at less than it should be.

So this weekend brought about one of those trips to one of the Home Improvement stores for me. If you're anywhere near my age, you've probably already realized that this trip gets made by all of your neighbors, all of the time. I would bet that one of my neighbors visits one of these two stores at least twice a week. Me, I go maybe twice a month.

So there I am yesterday, standing in line at the local Lowes, happily waiting to relinquish my hard earned cash for a new garage organizing system (believe me, if you had seen my garage, you would realize that this is money very well spent!). So my wife, two children and I are waiting in this line to check out. And I look up, and there are 8 of these lines open, and every single one of them is backed up at least 8 to 10 people long.

So as the words 'mad rush at the old super-market' are flashing through my head, I start noticing the cross-check of humanity around me. Young people. Old people. Middle-aged people. Fat people. Skinny people. Tall people. Short people. Here they all stood, waiting to relinquish their money in the same manner I am about to. And while most of them were obviously annoyed at having to stand in line, underneath that veneer it was easy to see, they were all happy to be buying whatever little widget each of them was holding, or pushing, or dragging towards the checkout counter.

In the final analysis, that's what it's all about now isn't it? We all do things which make us happy. From sports to games to fitness to under-water basket weaving to religion, we all do things which make us happy. We're all looking for that little slice of the American dream, that one moment of true bliss to call our own.

Even if it is just standing in line at the home-improvement store.

I'll be back tomorrow dear readers with another look at the world around us, at how I am trying to fit into it.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Friday, March 24, 2006 

If You Love Something...

...Set it free. If it comes back to you, then it was meant to be.

Or so the old adage goes. That never seems to make letting go of something you love any easier, now does it? We've all had a bad breakup or two in our lifetimes. Heck, some of us have perfected breaking up badly into an art form. And psychiatry - in general - has almost a cottage industry within itself which specializes solely in helping us over bad breakups.

Personally, I've been fortunate enough to only have a couple of truly horrible breakups in my lifetime. But letting go of some thing can be just as hard as letting go of some one. I have somewhat of an addictive personality you see. I get addicted to things which interest me. From movies, to cigarettes, to music, to gaming, I have had some pretty severe addictions in my lifetime. Luckily, I have been able to avoid the really nasty addictions such as drugs or truly self-destructive behavior. I've never been an abusive significant other for example. A lot of that comes from watching my mother live out what I can only term as a nightmare of an existence as the other half of an extremely abusive relationship at one point years ago. Luckily, she met the man I call my dad some 25 years ago and found her way 'back into the light' as I like to say. But I digress.

My point of focus today is on the fact that giving up something important to you - from your first security blanket to your high school sweetheart - is never an easy thing to do. Anything which we as individuals give ourselves too, expend ourselves totally on, pour our blood, sweat and tears into - anything of this nature which exacts a price from us - by definition means something to us.

Some of you are sitting there wondering just what the heck I am talking about with this post today, I realize. Some of you are reading it and thinking to yourselves 'what is it he's struggling with?'. Here's the thing. I'm a gamer. Always have been. Probably always will be. It's one of those addictions of mine. And as I have already detailed in this space previously, my main gaming passion is the MMORPG genre. Unfortunately however, my day to day life has become such that finding the time to give to that passion of mine is like pulling teeth. There are all kinds of reasons contributing to this, but they all simply boil down to one irrefutable truth - I may well have to let it go and see if it comes back to me.

Part of having that addictive personality is what's always made me a competent leader in the games and the passions I have poured myself into. When you truly love something you pour yourself into it. Other people are attracted to that and drawn to it because they too have a passion which finds itself in alignment with your own. But part of being a leader, is also knowing when to put down the mantle and pass it on to someone else because your own presence - or in this case lack of a presence - is hurting more than it is helping.

Sounds simple doesn't it? 'Walk away...Don't look back.' It isn't easy though.

Leaving something you love never is.

I'll be back tomorrow dear reader with another look at the world around me and how I am trying to fit into it.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 

Bible Boy

I didn't grow up as a Christian. As a point of fact, the story of my youth is pretty much as far away from Christianity as you can get. But that is a story for another, much, much longer form of medium it seems. For tonight, I did want to touch on one thing regarding Christianity which I have always found interesting - the Bible itself.

There are almost as many interpretations of the Bible in existence today as there are genres of popular writing it seems. From the New International Version to the official King James version to the New King James Version, the Bible itself has become almost as controversial in certain circles as the religion it espouses. There are a few really good comparisons online about the varying versions. Here's one I personally find interesting.

In my own life, one of the things I always had problems with as I was coming to learn more about Christianity was that the Bible itself is written entirely from the male perspective. Growing up in a house full of women tends to skew my view a bit, I realize this, but it's an interesting point which I have nonetheless always found to be a bit unnerving. I mean, I completely understand that Eve was created as a compliment to Adam, and that since the dawn of our race the male figure has always been the dominant one of the species.

But, living in 21st century America, one still has to question whether or not the Bible has given full representation to the voices of the women throughout history whom have literally been the linchpins of our race. For example, we know a great deal about Mary from the Bible, but always through the accounts of others. As the chosen mother of Christ himself, wouldn't you think that the woman deserved the respect to write her own story? We have book after book within the Bible - Old Testament and New - all written by men. Even when the stories are about women, they are still told through a uniquely male perspective. And history, if nothing else, has shown us quite clearly that men are fallible.

In the end, as with most things, being a Christian is about belief. It's about faith. It's also about trust. Trust that the Gospels are true. Trust that the stories are meant to inspire our beliefs and set our souls ablaze with the love of God himself. I recently heard an acronym which I found to be both funny and yet quite fitting: Bible = Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. I find it fitting that we can turn what is arguably the greatest book ever written into such a silly acronym, and yet still hold true to the beliefs contained with the bindings of the pages themselves.

Moreover - and here's an admission most guys won't make, but hey, I am not 'most guys' - viewing the Bible as a set of directions which we had to stop and ask for (and which a lot of guys still refuse to follow) is the ultimate irony to me.

If nothing else, it's an interesting thought to put you to bed tonight dear reader. I'll be back tomorrow with another look at the world around me, rest assured.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 

Patriotism

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, once said:
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Re-read that statement, would you please?

Now, put that in this context: Theodore Roosevelt was a REPUBLICAN.

And now, in the year 2006, any American who has the sheer temerity and moral turpitude to stand up and question George W Bush and his entire administration, is branded UN-patriotic. From their (mis)handling of the Iraq war, to their (mis)handling of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, to their (mis)handling of the Dubai Ports World deal - anytime there has been a substantial call for the Bush Administration to re-evaluate their position, the White House has struck back by going on the PR offensive.

This week, this has culminated in the President himself going on the PR warpath and for only the third time in the history of his administration, actually conducting a press conference in which he (gulp) answered questions from reporters! The horror! The utter horror! In the midst of all of this, the White House has begun to (mis)characterize the entire media structure in America as being to blame for how Americans feel about the war in Iraq.

What ever happened to 'the buck stops here?' What ever happened to leaders who stand up and say 'Look, I was wrong. I made a mistake. I ask for your forgiveness. I will do better if you give me another chance.' And then they go out and work harder to earn that forgiveness. Am I truly such a hopeless idealist who believes in the American ideal so fervently that I believe that we should hold our leadership to a higher standard?

Yes. Yes, I am. And, as I consider myself to be a patriot - someone who believes vehemently in the principles of this country and the ideas it was founded upon - I also believe it's my right to question leadership which shows itself to be totally and utterly incompetent and insensitive to the will of the people it is supposed to be governing.

Webster's dictionary defines patriotism as love of and devotion to one's country. I love this country, and I am devoted to it wholeheartedly, having chosen to raise a family and build a life here. So, as an American, and as a patriot, I wanted to take this moment of time, in this small space on the web, to remind you dear reader, that questioning our leadership is not only right, it's our duty as Americans. Irregardless of party lines, religious affiliation, creed or anything else, we should be free to agree to disagree and to do so with civility.

Somewhere along the way, this administration forgot those last two words.

But hey, that's just my opinion, and I could be wrong. In any event, I'll be back tomorrow with another thought on the world in which we live.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Monday, March 20, 2006 

You Say It's Your Birthday...

...it's my birthday too!"

Man-o-man, I wish all my birthdays were as happy as that classic Beatles track. March 20th is actually kind of a strange day to have a birthday on, however. Why, you might ask my dear reader, is this so? Well then here are a just a few of the many, many March 20th factoids I have come across in my 37 years on planet earth:

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. My birthday is the same as Mr. Rogers'. You're still not going to catch me in one of those cardigans anytime soon, so stop asking!

Keeping this short and sweet tonight, as I have dinner plans with an unbelievably gorgeous woman (lucky me!). And before you say to yourself 'wow, how did this schmoe convince a gorgeous woman to go to dinner with him (or what has she been drinking)?!?!' I would proffer that you don't know the half of it...she's truly crazy - she married me!

I'll be back tomorrow with more, have no doubt.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Sunday, March 19, 2006 

A Day That Will Live In Infamy...

Today is March 19th, 2006. The day before an anniversary I tend to try - hard - to forget.

For those people out there who have actually met me face to face, no, I am not talking about the fact that tomorrow is my birthday :-p What I am talking about is the fact that on March 20th, 2003, the United States changed it's destiny forever. It was the day the Bush administration launched 'Operation: Shock and Awe' - which of course turned into 'Operation: Iraqi Freedom'. 2000 sorties by American and other coalition bombers on targets inside Iraq, coupled with more than 500 missile strikes. All designed with one single purpose in mind: topple Saddam Hussein.

My father-in-law is a hardcore, right-wing, died-in-the-wool through and through Republican. When Bush first was handed the White House by the conservative leaning Supreme Court in 2000, my father-in-law couldn't have been happier. We had long discussions - as I imagine lots of father and son-in-laws had around America - about the state of American politics. A year later though - after the attacks of 9/11/01 - for a brief time anyways, the vast majority of the American people were busy putting some meaning into the term United States. Nothing like a heinous act of nonsensical violence to bring a truly divided country back together it seems. As U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan - where we had been told the Taliban had helped the architect of 9/11, Osama Bin Laden -and where Bin Laden himself was supposedly holed up at - I believe, again, there was a sense of unity across party lines. We all want Bin Laden taken down, regardless of political ideology. But what happened next, truly amazed me.

I remember in the weeks running up to the start of the war in Iraq how surreal things seemed to be. Dick 'I-shot-the-sheriff' Cheney was running all over telling every reporter he could talk to how there was a connection between Iraq and 9/11. Colin Powell was sent up the hill to tell the U.N. how we had all this intelligence pointing to the fact that Iraq had acquired the means to build nuclear weapons and that the U.S. wouldn't allow this to continue happening (eerily reminiscent of what's going on in Iran today.) And then there was W. For several months in early 2003, the only time he even spoke of Bin Laden was in response to a question about whether or not he knew where Bin Laden was. Amazingly, the President responded "Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban."

By this point, all W wanted to talk about was Saddam Hussein and what a bad guy he was. W had already shifted his focus away from bringing to justice the man behind the attacks of 9/11 and had begun switching the discourse towards his preferred target - Saddam Hussein.

My father-in-law and I again began our rounds of debates on whether or not going into Iraq was a justified move. And, again, I would bet there were a lot of those discussions in households across this country. But I remember, very clearly, one specific discussion on March 19th, 2003. My in-laws were at our house for dinner to celebrate my birthday, and my father-in-law asked me point blank if I thought the U.S. should be going into Iraq. I responded then that if Iraq has nukes, then yes. If not, then no. He then asked me if I thought we should leave an evil dictator like Hussein in power when we had the power to take him out. I responded by saying that Hussein was far from the worst dictator in the world today, and that we if we opened that box now, we would never again be able to close it, since Iraq had not attacked us. If Saddam had nukes, then knowing his hatred for us, you could somewhat justify this type of a pre-emptive strike. If he didn't, then America was declaring ourselves nothing more than the policemen of the world at best, and a global bully at worst.

3 years later, dear reader, I wish I had never said those words. Not because W and his inner circle have proven them wrong. Quite the contrary. Because 3 years after the beginning of 'Operation: Iraqi Freedom' we sit as the world's biggest bully. Iraq itself is on the brink of civil war. Heck Iraq's former prime minister says Iraq is already in a state of civil war. There are times in every son-in-laws life when he feels a moment of elation because he's been proven right about something he's been arguing with his father-in-law about. Unfortunately, the realization that the country which I love has now become both the world's policemen and it's biggest bully is far from the best birthday present I've ever gotten.

I'll be back tomorrow with another look at the state of the world in which we live, and how it affects me.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Friday, March 17, 2006 

Luck O' The Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Ok, now that that's out of the way...
  • A) I am not Irish
  • B) I don't really care for Guinness
  • C) I've never been to Boston
  • D) I don't really care for gnomes
  • E) I'm not even wearing green right now

Who was St. Patrick anyways?!? And why exactly do we always have to wear green on the 17th of March? American Catholic has several useful resources to try and answer that question for you. If you're looking for the history of St. Patrick's Day, then the History Channel has a pretty nicely detailed look at it. One of the biggest things I took out of that entire site was that the reason the 17th of March is always the day we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, is because it was the day on which the Saint himself actually died in the 5th century.

But here's perhaps the most useful of all resources which I found while researching this topic for American Aegis: the 'official' listing of Irish Pubs - worldwide. Oh come on now! I already told you I don't even drink Guinness and I still thought this was totally cool. And, I might add, if you're a 'proper football fan' (that's soccer to us yanks) then frankly, there's no better place in America than an Irish pub to go watch a game of soccer. And don't be fooled into thinking that NFL has the craziest fans in the world. They're not even close. 'Proper football' fans border on zealotry. Try, try, try as I might however, I couldn't find anything on whether or not St. Patrick himself was a sports fan or not :-(

I must say, it's interesting to actually do the research to try and find out about the history of a holiday however. On this particular project, I actually learned quite a few interesting factoids. Things such as some of the stories behind the actual St. Patrick's Cathedral; how the Chicago River was dyed green for the 2005 St. Patrick's Day celebration; There's even a St. Patrick's College in Dublin.

So, now that my brain is full - and swimming in way too much green - I think I am going to call it a night and hit the sack. I'll be back tomorrow with thoughts on things not related to this holiday.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Thursday, March 16, 2006 

Homeland INSecurity

So here we are, dear reader, coming up on the 5 year anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in the history of our great nation. 5 years. That's actually a long time by a lot of standards. Think of it in these terms: people who were in their junior years of high school on 9/11/01 have now probably graduated college and are entering the workforce. More than 10% of the people who got married in 2001 are now divorced. Children who hadn't even been born yet are now walking, talking, and learning what it really means to live in a 'post-9/11' world.

So, with this stuff occurring all around us, one would think that perhaps our government might have had time to fix some of the most glaring security holes which plague our nation. One might think that with all the rhetoric this administration has put forth about 'keeping America safe' that they might actually be doing something about it. I mean, one of the other things that's happened in that 5 year period was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. This agencies sole purpose is to protect Americans every single day and to make our lives safer.

Seems that 5 years isn't enough time to do much about those pesky little things like improving airport security, port security, or even border security however. NBC's Lisa Myers has what I can only term as a truly disturbing piece on the current state of airport security in America - 5 years after planes were used to destroy the World Trade Center, attack the Pentagon and take the lives of innocent Americans who were brave enough to fight back in the skies over Pennsylvania. The piece details how 21 different major American airports today are still unprepared for an attack by a bomb. These 21 transit hubs all failed miserably to detect the materials used to easily assemble a bomb powerful enough to blow open a car trunk. Now, imagine what a blast powerful enough to blow open a car trunk could do to an airplane in mid-air. The fact that these airports' security is still unprepared is so appalling that the former head of the 9/11 Commission has called it - and the Bush Administrations total failure to rectify the problem - 'utterly ridiculous'.

Oh, this gets better however.

The Government Accountability Office today released a report which also details how millions of taxpayers dollars were literally wasted by this government in how they were allocated and used for the responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The AP has a pretty good write up on how these dollars were misappropriated, misued and basically just given out in no-bid contracts to companies who had no business getting them in the first place. Nice to know - right here at tax season - how your hard-earned dollars being put to the fine use of 'making America safer', now isn't it dear reader?

About the only thing missing tonight, is the appearance of George W Bush on our TV screens telling us how Director of Homeland Security - Michael Chertoff - is 'doing a great job!' You can almost hear it now, can't you? That slow Texas-style southern drawl...'Yer doin' a GREAT job, Mikey!'

A not so pleasant thought to leave you with as you lay your head down on the pillow my friend. As for me, I'll be back tomorrow with another look at the state of our country today, and how it affects you, me, and the people we love.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 

Eating Crow

There's a great line from the Wesley Snipes movie, 'Blade', which I am going to paraphrase here in order to clean it up a bit: "Some [people] always gotta ice skate uphill."

I've just had a very un-fun day at work. We all have them, and so they are to be expected. Some people get through them by going for a walk to calm down. Some people simply get mad, vent, and get it over with. Me, I tend to get upset for a moment - then step back and remember that there's very little which is going to occur to me at my job which is going to continue to make me unhappy from the minute I walk through the door at home and see my wife and kids. And then, sometimes, I try and find the best biblical perspective which I can to fit the situation.

And then there are days like today...where somebody decides to ice skate uphill. This is where somebody goes completely against the grain of how things are supposed to work while tending to run over the top of you (even when you're not really the source of the problem). It never ceases to amaze me how the more people 'climb the corporate ladder' the more those individuals think they are the only people whose individual projects are suddenly supposed to mean anything at all in the grand scheme of things. Amazing.

And yet, at one point or another, we've all been put in the position of having to not only bow down to these types of personalities, but to actually apologize to them when we've done absolutely nothing wrong, simply to placate their enormous, rampaging egos.

As those two people who actually read this spot on a daily basis will readily attest, I am proud to be a Christian. And Christianity is a religion which prides itself on both tolerace, and the extension of grace. The Bible has an amazing passage which deals with this exact type of situation and one which I believe bears mentions here: Matthew 18:21-22.

Here it is in short form: Peter asks Jesus about forgiveness. If someone has sinned against me, how many times must I forgive him? Peter’s question begs interpretation. He might be asking: how often must I endure these attacks? He might be asking: How long can I wait before I can seek revenge? He might be asking: Is there a limit, is there a sin too big? Aren’t there some things that—after all, considering everything, being reasonable—some things that I need not forgive?

Peter thinks he is being generous with his offer. Seven times is a lot. Forgiving someone seven times would try any person’s patience. Is Peter saying: Seven times would show sufficient compassion? Is he saying: Seven times might make me a fool in the world’s eyes, but I’m willing, because I follow Jesus. Seven times would prove my good will, my understanding, and my willingness to be humble, to give my life so that I might save it. It would prove the point.

Jesus’ reply is amazing. There is no limit, Peter. Nothing is so bad, so hard, or goes on so long that you are released from the command to forgive. The number Jesus uses—either 77 or 70 times 7, depending on the translator—just means a very big number, infinity. If you are counting up, Jesus is saying, then you don’t get it. There is no limit.

That, dear reader, is 'eating crow'. This is one of those days where I am very thankful to have the example of Jesus to follow, no question. Because I am certainly not Jesus and therefore have a much harder time reaching that level of forgiveness.

Besides, I am full from all this crow.

All I can do is hope that tomorrow brings a better day.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 

T.O.

Today is Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - a day every football fan living in the 'city of brotherly love' (aka Philadelphia) has been anxiously awaiting for several months. Today is the day the Eagles finally have cancer surgery and remove Terrell Owens from their roster permanently.

So why does a guy who grew up in Alaska and now resides in Florida care one iota about a football team in Pennsylvania and a player with a bad attitude? Simply put: because T.O. represents everything wrong with America today. Yep, I said it. The man is a walking demonstration of all which ails the USA in this day and age.

For those of you whom have been reading along as I pour myself out into the pages of American Aegis, you will readily recognize the fact that I have an issue with the current administration in power. It isn't even really a 'Democrat vs. Republican' issue. There are in fact several Republicans whom I truly believe in. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina comes to mind almost immediately. As does Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is another. And then there's Senator John McCain of Arizona - a man whom, had he won the Republican nomination in 2000 I would have gladly voted for and supported over Al Gore, but whom has since changed my opinion of him 180 degrees. (I promise more on this in a future post!) Rudy Giuliani is another fine American, Republican or not, and he may well end up being on the GOP ticket in 2008. All of these men are worthy of notice, respect, admiration, and at least a 2nd look when it comes time to helping determine our next administration.

George W Bush and Dick 'I-shot-the-sheriff' Cheney however are nowhere nearly as deserving of such respect in my opinion - for a variety of reasons which I have already begun spelling out on these pages and upon which I shall undoubtedly vent more about in the days/weeks/months ahead. And the focus of this posting today bears a lot of resemblance to the Bush Administration.

Now stay with me here a moment dear reader. Terrell Owens was once the up and coming star of the San Francisco 49ers. So good, he was even allowed to play alongside arguably the greatest receiver in NFL history - Jerry Rice. But this wasn't enough for Owens. He had to be the man. And so he helped orchestrate the push to drive Rice out of San Francisco. The Niners gave up on Rice and allowed him to ultimately sign with the Oakland Raiders, believing that Owens would easily fill Rice's shoes. (Insert joke here!) As if!

Rice proves the niners wrong and makes them pay by having several subsequent great years with the Raiders. People begin to question whether or not the 49ers did the right thing in letting Rice go and sticking with Owens. The team itself rallies around T.O. But the pressure of being the man starts getting to Owens - and going to his head. We finally saw T.O.'s true face less than 2 seasons later as he began his now notorious feud with then Quarterback Jeff Garcia. It culminates in Owens telling Sports Illustrated that Garcia is a homosexual - a fact which upon further investigation not only proves untrue but downright slanderous.

This finally resulted in Owens forcing his way out of Frisco, and ultimately to Philly in true Prima Donna fashion. The Eagles had one good season in which they made a strong Super bowl run and then subsequently fell from the heights of the NFL's elite and ended up residing amongst the bottom dwellers last season. All last season was an entire melodrama. Fans everywhere wondered 'what will this moron do next?'. Thankfully, the Eagles management had enough and suspended Owens effectively for the entire second half of the season.

This, dear reader, is where the parallel hits home for me. You see, if you think about the rise and fall of T.O., you can easily apply this same timeline to the Bush presidency. In the year 2000, America is at it's height. The 90's have brought unprecedented prosperity to the nation on several fronts. W comes in and inherits a $236 Billion budget surplus - the first since 1969. The unthinkable occurs, and terrorists attack the US on September 11th, 2001. He is at the top of his game and truly looks 'Presidential' standing amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center. The country rallies around the president. (Sound familiar?) The country gives him carte blanche - much as the 49ers gave Owens the same when they jettisoned Rice.

But it never gets any better for Owens in Frisco - and he ultimately ends up forcing that trade to the Eagles. Bush, meanwhile, leads the US into Iraq after declaring that the Iraqi's aided and abetted in the attacks of 9/11 - a piece of mis-information now totally discredited. (Much like Owens calling Garcia a homosexual.) America's image throughout the world comes tumbling down to the point that we now reside - in the minds of many nations whom we once called allies and friends - down with the bottom-dwellers. Much like the Eagles of last year. To top it all off, 2006 brings us a projected Budget Deficit of $400 Billion. And the 'conservatives' call this a good thing?!?! What happened to fiscal responsibility? What happened to being 'against big government spending'?!?! Catch phrases my friends -nothing more. Much like T.O. catches footballs (but is still an idiot), Bush and his cronies caught the vast majority of the Republican party with these catch phrases.

It truly amazes me that men making millions of dollars to play a game can be Prima Donna's to the level of Owens. We saw the same thing with Lattrell Sprewell several years ago in the NBA. And yet we American's give these idiots a free pass and let them get away with doing things we 'normal citizens' would lose our jobs - and possibly our lives - over. The most amazing piece of this entire parallel to me however is in the fact that were America the Philadelphia Eagles, we could simply, finally, cut ties with the idiot and send him home to try and find another team.

Unfortunately, we have another 1000 days of W and his ilk in Washington. Really makes you wish America could be an NFL team, now doesn't it? 'Let's cut the idiot and save ourselves the dollars and the headaches and bring our fans back'.

I'll be back tomorrow with another look at day to day life in America, dear reader.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Monday, March 13, 2006 

Loss

With my last post, I focused on something near and dear to most of our hearts: Friends. As Monty Python used to say..."And now for something completely different..."

It struck me this weekend how differently we all deal with loss. From the loss of personal freedoms, to the loss of innocence, to the loss of people we care about in one manner or another, we all experience loss in truly different ways. Some of us get sad, often withdrawing deeper inside of our own secluded walls. Some of us try and react with absolutely no emotion whatsoever - men obviously moreso than women as we are always trying to be 'the rock' and show no emotion anyways. Yet others react to loss by getting angry. Often times there is a sense of betrayal when these types of people feel loss, and the person/thing which they have lost is in direct relation to themselves.

Through the course of my own life, I believe I have been all three of those. I've retreated into my little space. I've been utterly emotionless. I've been angry. I would proffer that at varying times in our lives, we have all reacted with all three of these manners to some degree. We've all felt such overwhelming grief that we became blathering basket cases...Our emotions pouring out into little puddles of hurt on the floor around us. We've all felt such profound emptiness that to do anything other than to withdraw into ourselves and mentally regroup would do more harm to those around us than anything else we might say or do would. And we have all become angry - felt betrayed - when dealing with loss in some manner.

Losing someone - to a different city or country; to a job which means you won't see each other much anymore; to someone else; to death even - always hurts.

It's always amazed me though at how differently men and women can deal with these types of situations, depending on what end of the 'losing' you're on. For example, if a man is going to leave a woman he has been dating, some guys will simply stop showing up. They'll start intentionally overlooking all 'the little things' they had noticed about the woman before. They'll stop treating her as if she is special. Or, an even more common male reaction when realizing that you're going to be the one causing the loss, guys will simply stop communicating altogether. A lot of women on the other hand, internalize it before they decide to lose someone. Often times, a woman will think about how best to leave a guy for weeks, sometimes months or years, before actually 'pulling the plug'.

Think about this a second. How many times have we all heard/seen a female friend say 'He was a really great guy and I really hope we can stay friends' right after they have just unceremoniously ripped some schmoe's heart clean out of his chest with a chainsaw? Probably just as many times as we have seen guy friends say 'Yeah, I'm done' and then simply never speak to the woman again despite all her best efforts to find out 'what went wrong'. Both of these scenarios play out in each of our lives far too often. And they both hurt not only the people involved, but those around the pair who have come to care about them. Loss is never an easy thing to deal with - on either side of the fence. But drawing it out over weeks, months, years, usually only ends up in even more hurt feelings, more raw emotions exposed, and a more lasting image of the negative things you can remember about the individual who has caused you the pain.

I use this point simply to illustrate that loss is simply pain. It doesn't matter if you're male; female; black; white; old; young; rich; poor. Pain is still just exactly that - pain. Sometimes, realizing that can help you to move on a little more quickly than getting stuck in the rut of wallowing around in memories of 'what might have been'.

And so, dear reader, I sincerely hope and pray this year brings you as few 'losses' as possible. I hope that the people you have come to love continue to love you back. I hope that the people you trust prove worthy of that trust. And most of all, I wish you happiness - even in those moments of your deepest loss.

And I promise that my next post won't be on a topic nearly as depressing or emotionally draining as this one.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Saturday, March 11, 2006 

Friends

Tonight, I chose to tackle a topic which every person on the planet can relate to: friends.

People define the term 'friend' in many different ways, mainly dependent on their own world-view and the perspectives gained throughout the course of their own lives, obviously. A friend is someone you can commiserate with; hang out with; spend time with; share things with. Webster's dictionary online defines the term friend as:
friend ( P ) Pronunciation Key (frnd)n.
A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.
One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement: friends of the clean air movement.
Friend A member of the Society of Friends; a Quaker.
So there's the 'technical' definition of the word. But, seeing as how it is my blog dear reader, I am going to go a slightly different route here.

A friend is someone who is there for you at 3 a.m. on a Saturday night/morning when you've just had the rug pulled out from under you; had the girl of your dreams tell you "we're done with"; who will hold your head up while you're puking in the toilet because you got so drunk you can't hold it up yourself and you may drown in the process. A friend is someone who will tell you you're wrong when you are (and sometimes when you're not); tell you you're right (when no one else believes in you); and who will, in short, sacrifice their own desires sometimes to help you accomplish yours.

I've been really, really lucky in my life when it comes to friends. I've had some of the best. From Richard, to Emilio, to Jeff, to Roy, to Chris, to Robin, to Mike, to Tony, to Andrew, to David, to Phil, to Anthony, to Kris, to Sean, to Ken, to my very best friend of all, Dawn - most people can really only count their real friends on one hand (if they're lucky). The names I just rambled off are all people who have helped shape my world-view, and my life, since I was 8 years old. Some of them, I haven't spoken to in years. Some of them, I spoke to tonight.

As the world gets smaller and smaller thanks to the internet, cell phones, PDA's, and all types of technologies we aren't even thinking of yet, friends we make over the course of our lives can be kept in contact with now more than ever. People we haven't talked to in years can be found - more easily than you might imagine.

Over the course of each of our lives, the experiences we accrue, help define us. The fires we walk through harden us. The good times help gird our soul. And how many of those times would be the same without a friend in tow? Think about that a moment. How many great - or terrible - moments have you had in your life which would not have been the same experience (good or bad) without one of your friends standing beside you?

I cannot speak for those of you whom may read this blog. I may only speak for myself. And for my life, my experiences, even my loves - none of them would be what they are to me without the people I have been blessed with calling simply 'my friends'. Take a minute this week to remember the people who help make your life a little more bearable dear reader. Not only will you make their day, you may very well remember what it is you loved about those individuals to begin with.

Tomorrow being Sunday, I will be taking the day off from American Aegis. I will return to this space again on Monday however. So to my two loyal readers out there, enjoy your break, and I hope to see you come back through on Monday :-)

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Friday, March 10, 2006 

TV Nation

You can clearly see by my profile that I love movies.

Heck, I love entertainment, period. But this week, it has also struck me that I have become a true, near-middle-aged, American consumer. Mind you, I don't mean in the collection of 'stuff' as a lot of America is prone to do. I could sincerely care less about 'keeping up with the Joneses', or driving the fanciest car in my neighborhood. One of my favorite books of all time is The Man in the Mirror. In one section of the book, author Patrick Morley details the harmful effects of 'trying to keep up with the Jonses' in such a poignant, heartfelt manner, that the thought will stick with me throughout my life, no question.

But this post isn't about books. It isn't even really about 'stuff'. Tonight, it's about the medium of television, and the shows which have currently wormed their way into my everyday existence. How have these shows done so? The old fashioned way: they have entertained me. They have turned me into a consumer of the television medium. (And yes, those of you who know me, know full well that I cringe as I post these words: dare I say, that when it comes to some of these shows, I admit to being just another one of the 'sheep'.) For the purposes of time (and space) I am going to limit this post to short coverage on 7 shows (7 days of the week after all) which I believe to be worthy of your attention dear reader.

Let's just start it off with a bang, shall we?

24. In my opinion, one of the 2 best shows on television today, bar none. Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland (yes, that is really his name) continues to lead a cast which can only be described as 'stellar' (though interchangeable also comes to mind.) This show is smooth. It's fast paced. It's creative. And it's just a general joy to spend an hour with each week. If you haven't tuned in yet, I highly suggest that you do.

Hardball with Chris Matthews. It's been parodied by Saturday Night Live. It's been parodied by The Daily Show. It's been discussed on every late night talk show out there from Leno to Letterman to Tyra. There's an old saying which is very applicable here - 'often imitated, never duplicated.' Chris Matthews and his producers manage to tackle issues in such a rapid fire manner - every day - that even if you have the attention span of a gnat (which a lot of America seems to these days) your attention will still stay focused. He and Lou Dobbs are beyond any shadow of a doubt two of the few guys on TV news who actually will attack the issue of the day regardless of political backlash.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I should point out here that I am a Christian. I am proud to be a Christian. Being a Christian is not a dirty word. (But please don't tell Jon Stewart that because it will only give his entire team more ammunition to make fun of Christians!) Simply the funniest, most biting humor on television today. No one, I mean no one does the news anywhere close to this. And here's my one disclaimer on them - not a show I would let my 11 year old son watch. Call this my guilty pleasure.

Criminal Minds. CSI? Puh-lease. Mandy Patinkin ("Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You keeled my father. Prepare to die!") leads a really, really nice ensemble cast playing members of the BAU. The BAU is the FBI's elite 'B.ehavioral A.nalysis U.nit' These guys spend their days and nights trying to get inside the minds of killers, rapists and all the other worst types of sociopaths stalking society today.

House. Arrogant. Stubborn. Belittling. Vindictive. (No, this show really is not about W or his veep! Or your boss!). Brilliant. (see?!?!) Driven. Passionate. All words which describe the fictional Doctor Gregory House. If you ever thought about being a doctor, ever wondered what brilliant doctors go through, ever wanted to know about 'specialization', then watch this show at least twice. Then come back and tell me you're not hooked. I'll point you to the commandment 'thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor'.

Boston Legal. Come on, Captain Kirk and the original Dr. Daniel Jackson together in one show?!? William Shatner. James Spader. Together. Buddies. Cronies. Lawyers. Did I mention that Shatner is 'Denny Crane'?!?! (Ken if you're out there, 'Slippy Crane' is now ringing off the walls of my house!) Another great ensemble cast, no question. But the writing here is what really drives the stories. You almost have to tune in each week just to watch the train wreck. Do yourself a favor. Really. Watch this one at least twice as well and see if you're not hooked.

Battlestar Galactica. Look...You know by now I am a sci-fi junkie. You know by now I love space. You know I am a product of my times as well. Now think about the fact that in the 1970's, I was still in my single digit years - and the original Battlestar captured my attention, utterly. I didn't want to like this new version. I mean, Starbuck is a girl?!?! But, dear readers, I couldn't help myself. The best, most well-rounded, well written, fast-paced, electric show on television today, bar none.

Now, a quick side note here. You'll note there is no 'Survivor' on this list. There's no 'American Idol' either. There's also no Desperate Housewives or Commander in Chief - I am only going to go so far towards 'sheepdom' people :-p Deal with it! Sorry to disappoint. For the two readers I have out there, I hope my admission of affection for television nation doesn't turn you too far off and that you'll tune in next time.

Same bat channel. Same bat time.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes!

Thursday, March 09, 2006 

The Final Frontier

Ok...

So I have already pretty much shown myself to be a product of my times in my previous posts. Now I am really going to just throw down the gauntlet and show it all...

"Space...The final frontier...these are the voyages of the starship..."

And there's where it all falls apart. The starship...what?

Where is the Starship Enterprise? Where's the Millennium Falcon? Heck, where's that stupid carnival-cast-off-in-a-bubble spaceship that the kids in 'Explorers' used?!?!

I remember as a child growing up in Alaska - where the stars are so bright you feel like you can reach out and touch them, or simply pluck them down from the sky - what wonder space held for me. I remember watching a re-run of President John F. Kennedy's speech at Rice University - delivered a full 7 years before I was even born - in which he said, "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. " I remember all too well, how proud I was to be a citizen of America the first time I heard him deliver that speech in that Massachusetts cadence of his. Those were the days when America still believed. Both in itself, and in the dream of space.

And now, the reality has become that the private sector is going to have to take us to space. Think about that a moment. Corporations are going to be the ones going to space before too long - and the average citizen will be held hostage to that fact. Private designs are all the rage right now - and may in fact represent the best current hope for our race to reach outwards from this glistening blue ball we call home. It scares me to absolutely no end to think how far we have fallen as a country with regards to space and the exploration of 'the final frontier.' JFK would truly be depressed were he alive today to see the current state of our exploration efforts.

Today brought some hope to my mind, however small, in the form of a sphere no bigger than the drive between Phoenix, AZ and Las Vegas, NV. The Cassini spacecraft flew by a small Saturnian moon last year, and the data only just reached us and was disseminated by NASA scientists, and subsequently made public. Enceladus, it's called. And it may well be the key to opening up exploration of our entire Galaxy for this race called 'humans'.

You see, mankinds exploration beyond the limited area surrounding our planet, via a manned vehicle anyways, has always been limited. Limited in great amount due to the fuels necessary to power our 'starships'. Fuels, in large part, require water. Without water, fuels cannot be processed, refined or created.

And thus, mankinds search for water - and the life which we suspect may be in/around it - has always been of paramount interest. To anyone who has dared to cast their eyes towards the heavens and dream of setting foot on a truly alien landscape, water on another planet equals hope that we may one day set foot there.

Enceladus may well have changed all of that. Teaming with water - geysers of it in fact - this small moon (309 miles across) finally presents some serious hopes for both those seeking life and those seeking sources of fuel. Can we build the Starship Enterprise because of Enceladus? No, we cannot.

But suddenly, 'the final frontier' got just a little bit bigger in our windshields.

More on this, and other topics of bewilderment, in the days/months/years ahead.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 

The Great Uniter

Wow. So, tonight I have to eat some serious crow.

As anyone who was not in the womb during the primary and then the general electorate season of the year 2000 will remember, George W. Bush campaigned on the premise that he would be the 'Great Uniter'. He swore to 'reach across the aisle' and to form 'bi-partisan commissions' to truly tackle the problems which face our nation during the 21st century. He swore he would 'Unite Washington D.C. in a way not seen since Ronald Reagan was in the White House'.

Ladies and gentlemen, I didn't believe him. I told everyone I knew that Bush was not going to unite the country - especially in light of the manner in which he finally won the Presidency: through the intervention of the Supreme Court. To say that this man came into power as the President of these United States under ignoble auspices would be putting it mildly. And so, I said quite loudly, he would have a hard time ever uniting the Congress on anything.

After the worst attack on American soil in our history - the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on NY, DC and Pennsylvania - the country showed a tremendous outpouring of national pride; a healthy dose of outrage; and ultimately, a rally around a president who had not been all that popular prior to the attacks. Yet, even then, I said to all of my closest friends, this President would never truly gain true unity amongst either the Congress, or the general populace of the country itself.

Man, was I wrong.

You see, today - after five years of the worst kind of mismanagement, chicanery, and outright lies being fed to the American populace - the GOP-run House Appropriations Committee voted 62-2 to block the Dubai Ports World deal which would hand over control of 6 of the U.S.' largest ports to a State-run company, wholly owned and operated by a foreign nation. 62-2. Read that again. 62-2. AGAINST the Presidents position.

Ladies and gents, I pride myself on being a man who can look himself in the mirror, admit his faults, and admit my own mistakes. Mr. Bush, I was wrong to ever doubt you. Thank you for finally uniting the congress. Now please, can you also apply the logic that lead you to approve this ill-conceived deal in the first place to the agencies you have in charge of Iraq, the Gulf Coast/Katrina response, and the tax breaks given to the wealthiest 1% of our nation (at the expense of programs designed to help the middle and lower classes)?

I know, I know. I ask too much, I realize. Unity is, after all, such a hard thing to accomplish when you're too busy worrying about 'standing your ground (even when you're wrong)' that to step back and really work at it might take you away from your 14 vacations to your Crawford, Texas ranch this year.

Again, I apologize for ever doubting your ability to come through and unite us. I'll try harder, I promise. But I'll save that effort until the next time I sit down to right this blog.

Until then, don't drop any jelly on your shoes.

About me

  • I'm Michael
  • From Florida, United States
  • Husband, Father, Gamer, Writer, Phreak. Passionate advocate for freedom of speech. "I respect your right to speak about all which lights your soul ablaze...even when we disagree."
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