Saturday, December 30, 2006

ETA Breaks Its 9-Month Truce

I've had a deep connection to the Basque region since the late 1980s. I married a Basque. I've lived in the Basque Country. I'm not going to pretend to give my opinion on this conflict that was born of Franco's oppression, because Franco has been dead for more than 30 years, the Basques enjoy more autonomy within Spanish constitutional law and yet, the etarras continue this campaign.

What I will comment on is the posturing of Spain's PM Zapatero. Remember that it was the al-Qaeda train attacks of 11-M that brought the appeasing Zapatero and his Socialist party to power. Three days prior to the election, trains were detonated and, although polls showed that a few days earlier Aznar was clinging to a slim lead, Zapatero won the general election...many say because he was all for leaving Iraq (cut and run) and for "dialogue" with extremism.

Unfortunately, Zapatero is as dense as they come in the "let history teach us a lesson" crowd. Terrorists, whether islamofascists or home-grown separatists, do not negotiate. Neither should heads of state negotiate with them. You're in or you're out, in my opinion.

When ETA said nine months ago that they would (unofficially) lay down their weapons, many hailed it as an IRA-esque move towards peace. I was skeptical and viewed it as a period of reloading. It would seem that more extreme factions within ETA have gained control of the decision-making and want nothing to do with the IRA way of gaining legitimacy for their cause.

Terror has returned to Spain. Unfortunately, it will be the world opinion of Basques, and therefore Basques as a whole, that will suffer.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Snow Cats


So we find ourselves about 90 miles north of Boise, Idaho at a little place called Glenn's Ferry. Our friends had invited us up for the weekend so we took them up on the offer. The "menfolk" went hiking (well, my daughter came, too...but mostly because I think she likes one of the other boys!), and on our way back, we came across this cool little vehicle: A vintage SnoCat. We'll have to come back in February and see if the neighbors actually get it to start! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gerald R. Ford

"Ford, Ford, he's our man! Carter belongs in the garbage can!"

I remember reciting that little ditty over and over back in grade school in the run-up to the 1976 general election. I would have to say that Pres. Ford is the first US president of whom I have clear recollection. I was five when Nixon resigned, and it was second grade for me when Ford ran a doomed campaign against Carter. How could a candidate overcome such a maelstrom of negativity in less than two years and defeat the opposition party? Even for an upstanding, dignified, class act like Pres. Ford, it was too tall an order.

Now, at age 93, the "accidental president" as he's called, with no malice, has passed. In retrospect, I can only wonder what the current political landscape of the US would be had Ford beaten Carter in 1976. Would Reagan have had such an overwhelming pair of landslide victories? Would Bob Dole have been our 39th president? (He tried to be #42.) Would the hostage crisis in Tehran have happened? Ford could've conceivably been the longest-serving president since FDR, having not been elected and serving less than two years, it's conceivable he could've been elected two times, serving around ten years. Alas, the American public opted for "change" with Carter, and they got, perhaps, one of the worst presidents in the last 100 years. Hindsight being what it is, I know we all could do without Carter using his ex-President mantle as a loudspeaker for his irresponsible worldview.

Rest in peace, Pres. Ford. The country was better with you at the helm, and you'll be missed.

Casino Royale

This is a rehash of a post that for some reason unbeknownst to me, was lost in the ethersphere.

Casino Royale is now my favorite Bond movie. I like this Craig character. The movie, made from I think the second Bond book, is purely visceral not technological. The chases, the fights, the action: All man-to-man. I love it. There are no gratuitous product marketing spots for hp, BMW, Rover, etc. Bond logs onto the secure MI-6 server a few times but then goes right back to getting his nuggets whacked by the bad guys. And men, there is a scene in here where just that happens. A friend of mine said he left the theater the second time he watched the movie because he was "upset at how cruel man can be to man." Note that this was the second time he saw it, and that he knew what was going to happen...and he still left. The male nether-region and any unnatural behavior surrounding it are a touchy subject to men.

All this having been said, I can only imagine that had the movie been made in the 60s, the big poker showdown wouldn't have been poker at all, much less No Limit Texas Hold 'em. I'm sure it would've been a more elegant game of baccarat or blackjack.

Go see this movie. Worth the $10. Worth another $10. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


As a lifelong fan of the NHL, I feel kind of hypocritical about voicing this opinion, but I am no longer a fan of the NBA. It's been graduallly happening over the last few years, but tonight, I can say, that even if I was given tickets to an NBA game, I would turn them down.

Oddly enough, the last team I saw play in an NBA game was the Denver Nuggets, and they're the reason for my decision. In New York tonight, the thugs of the NBA who can't take losing had a brawl. Ten players were ejected and one fan was turned off for good. This is what you get for allowing the lowest common denominator to rule your league. You have kids who didn't attend college, and, therefore, may have barely attended high school, playing a game where the worst player on the worst team may be making millions. Add all of that to a little testosterone and "manhood questioning" and affrontery and you've got today's NBA.

I have a simple solution to the pox on pro sports that is the athlete who feels he can do no wrong: You throw a punch? You're banned for life. You hit a ref? You're banned for life. You use profane language on the court? You're out for good. You take drugs? You're out for good. Nothing cleans up a situation quite like a good, solid no-tolerance policy. If pro sports adopts one, I'd be shocked, but it just may be a reason for me to return to my seat and watch the NBA again.

Are you listening, David Stern?

Thursday, December 14, 2006


If you've never irrigated on the Erie Canal, you may not be aware of the phrase "low bridge, everybody down!" If you've never navigated in New Jersey, you've never seen one of the non-wonders of the modern world: The "jughandle."

Last night, I was reintroduced in a very sick way to the concept of the jughandle. I'm in town for business in New Jersey and decided, after four nights on the road, that I'd go take in a movie. I know exactly where the movie house is, since I drive by it everyday on my way to our main office. Thanks to jughandles, however, my two mile drive turned into ten miles of back and forth, missing my "handle" and having to go to the next jughandle to u-turn and come back, only to take another jughandle to make the turn into the movie theater. It's a good thing I left quite early or I may have missed a few of the five hundred previews and advertisements prior to the actual 2h 24m of "feature presentation" that I actually went to see.

I'd like to take this moment and share my true feelings about jughandles. Nevertheless, I'm a respectable individual that doesn't think that my loved ones who read this would like line upon line of profanity and ill will. This much should suffice: I hate jughandles. I think I'll print a t-shirt.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Scalini Fedeli

So I'm in town for work in NJ, but I'm missing the corporate Christmas party. I'm the only one of us who doesn't work out of the home office here in Jersey, and the dinner is scheduled for next Thursday. So, coming to NJ, what do my bosses decide? They take me to dinner at Scalini Fedeli in Chatham, NJ. It's the second time I've been there with them, and the first time the air conditioning worked...well, not that I'd know since it was 44 degrees tonight. No AC needed.

Let me try to accurately describe the experience. Okay, I can't, but I'll tell you what I ate, let you know the service is terrific, and that I'd definitely return. The menu is prix fixe, which means dinner is $52 a plate, no matter what you order. And order we did.

For starters, a basket of bread is delivered tableside with raisin, rye and Italian from which to choose. I asked for rye and Italian, my dining companions opted for the raisin with the Italian. They're also wine aficionados, something I'm not, so all I can say is the wine was "tinto" and they both liked it. They asked for "the best sub-$100 bottle you have." They were given a $55 bottle and no complaints.

I ordered a Tuscan white bean soup with prosciutto and a cheese whose name escapes me. It was delicious. The dinner is started off for all with a shrimp in a mild horseradish glaze (so mild it probably wasn't horseradish), then the appetizer. My companions ordered Risotto with mushrooms and petit peas from Provence with crispy zucchini and Spaghettini arrabiata with capers, black olives and minced Spanish anchovy in a spicy tomato sauce. I tasted the risotto, and not being a fan, was impressed with the full flavor.

The main course for all of was unanimous: Braised short ribs of beef with a cherry pepper and port wine glaze, fennel-apple puree and twice fried potatoes. The ribs were hardly ribs, as there were no bones on the plate and the beef was so juicy and tender that it practially fell apart on my fork. The fennel-apple puree underneath the ribs was the perfect hint of sweet and each of us had no trouble finishing off our portion.

A sorbet was served to cleanse the palate and prepare me for the apple tart with cinammon gelato drizzled with caramel. Although the apple was a little bitter for my taste, the flaky pastry crust was perfect.

Having been here before, I wasn't sure what to think going again. To be honest, I can't remember what I had last time I was at Scalini Fedeli, but I won't soon forget what I ordered tonight. Definitely three forks of three. Certo.

Hypocrisy from My Least Favorite "Comedienne"

It's been a long time since Rosie O'Donnell said anything that even made me purse my lips in an upward direction, much less smile or chuckle. Now she's done something that ought to come as no surprise from a hypocritical...and hypercritical...liberal idiot. On the heels of feigning outrage at Kelly Ripa for a benign comment that happened to be made in conversation to a gay Clay Aiken, Rosie shows her anti-Sino tendencies with this: (You'll get the idea once you see what Asian genius Michelle Malkin has to say on the subject. I don't think you'll need the subtitles to appreciate Michelle's subtlety.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

How far did you go?

Here's a fun site. According to the calculations, my latest trip is worth 4280 miles with a 2140 mile kicker for Silver status. Can you guess where I went?

Really sorry I missed this...

I'm not that old, but in my shorter-than-Methuselah existence, I've not seen a former US president do so much to undermine America, American democracy or the foreign policy of a nation that has actually been surprisingly bipartisan as former president Carter has done over the last few years.

His latest salvo is, if reviews are to be believed (I won't be purchasing the book as a conscientious objector to fiction-posing-as-fact books), nothing other than anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli rhetoric. Palestinian apologists must be drooling with anticipation for the Arabic translation. Of course, since the PA and its predecessor the PLO have done little to improve academic performance within the so-called "occupied territory," opting instead to preoccupy themselves with anti-Israel hate-ucation, they may have to wait for the audio book. Of course, ask any Palestinian child to locate "the devil" on a map, and they'll be able to point to "Israel" on any map. It's not that the education system in Palestine doesn't work, it's what's in the curriculum that's disturbing.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of this is the stature of some of their sympathizers within the international community. Ex-president Carter stumping for anything not helpful to Israel. It's enough to make you wonder if Plains, Georgia isn't really a little-known anti-American outpost in the Holy Land.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Little Green Footballs

My wife turned me onto this site. The blogmaster obviously lives on the West Coast...but it's a political blog, not a beach blog. I like it. If you're curious as to where my political leanings are located, you might start here.

Enjoy the read.

Injustice, and then justice

So last week, the Vikings play the Bears to an offensive standstill, give up to touchdowns on special teams, throw a bunch of INTs and lose at Soldier Field. I think hey surrendered thirteen yards of rushing and the Bears QB had a rating of 1.3. And they still lost.

Nothing cures losing quite like a trip to Detroit. Today, the #1 defense against the run held Detroilet to minus-3 yards rushing...and won. Injustice and justice.

I will always be a Vikings fan. It's hard to be a Vikings fan. What have they given me over the years? Four Super Bowl losses. The great choke of 1998. A dominating offense and a dominating defense, but never in the same year. Nevertheless, I will always be a Vikings fan. Cut my arm and out pours purple. Skol!


I still can't figure out what I want this blog to be. Apparently, however, I've forgotten that I want it to be evidenced by the scarcity of posts. So in a moment of lucidity, I figured that it really doesn't matter what I long as a I write something. How about an online journal with a steady dose of personal anecdote and opinion. That sounds good, doesn't it?

So it begins. With the trip I'm currently on, I enter a new world. I go from Silver elite in '06 to Gold for '07. I guess what that means is that on certain routes, instead of having 38 people in front of me for first class upgrades (Boston to Minneapolis last week), now I'll only have twelve. So 50,000 miles later, I may have a little more comfort in 2007. Here's the deal, though, as a Silver in '06, I've gotten at least a half-dozen first-class upgrades, so I think I'm in good shape (at least coming out of Boise). My wife will probably appreciate me not "taking a trip just to take a trip" like I did last December to make elite.

So what are my perks, anyway? Well, the first class thing has been mentioned. I also get to get on the plane no later than right after first class boards (if I'm not in it)...which is money to me, since I get my bags up top where I want them. (I've turned into the "all carry-on" guy who doesn't check bags on short trips...such thing I hadn't supposed I'd be.) One other cool perk is that I get a 50% mileage bonus on anything I fly. For 2007 I'll get 100% of the miles. Hopefully that will mean additional frequent flyer tickets that my wife, who hates to fly, will never want to redeem. Life is so fair it's unfair.