Still Trumped Up

In the week since my last post, I’ve received a surprising number of emails (by surprising, I mean three) from people saying that while they agree with my assessment of Trump, they just can’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary.

The arguments have ranged from “What’s wrong with a protest vote for Gary Johnson?” to “I want to send a message to the Libertarian Party that they could be a legitimate contender if they put up candidates better than Gary Johnson, like maybe Bill Weld” to “I just can’t bring myself to vote for someone who should be in jail.”

Let me check. . .yup, that’s three.

My responses:

  • Protest vote: I get it. In fact, I cast one in 1992.  But that was a year in which neither of the major party candidates was a nut-job who posed an existential threat to the Republic.  When there is a lunatic in the race, and this year there is, the protest vote has to wait.  Job #1 is to make sure the lunatic doesn’t get elected.

 

  • Send a message to the Libertarians:   This is a great idea.  And here’s a way to do it without contributing to the election of a nut-job.  Just copy the following text into a letter: “Dear Libertarian Party – I would like you to know that I think you could be a serious contender, but only if you nominate better candidates than Gary Johnson.  Like maybe Bill Weld.”  Print it, sign it and mail it to:

libertarian-party-address

  • Belongs in jail: First, in fairness, that should be “might belong in jail.”  Innocent until proven guilty, blah, blah, blah.

That said, I get it. Here’s how deep my desire not to vote for Hillary runs.  In 2008, living in the most Republican county in Illinois, I pulled a Democratic primary ballot, which meant throwing away the rest of my votes, and voted for Obama because I believed it was the only chance I would ever have to vote against her.

Her judgment has often been weak (see my post on the email server here).  Her ethics are fuzzy at best.  Colin Powell uses the words “greed” and “hubris” to describe her.  Remember – hubris doesn’t mean arrogant.   It means “thinks the rules don’t apply to you.”  That’s her (and Bill) in a nutshell.

 

All of that is true.  But the choices we have are the choices we have, and like it or not, here they are:

  • A career politician with questionable judgment and fuzzy ethics who might actually belong in jail.

 

  • A guy who belongs in an asylum. By “asylum,” I do not mean “what you apply for after you finally make it across the Rio Grande because the gringos haven’t built that wall yet.”  I mean the loony bin.  If you really don’t think Donald Trump is a nut-job, please go back and read the links in my last post.  We’re talking about a man who by all appearances is an ADD-addled narcissistic sociopath with a significant brain defect.  A man who has absolutely no interest in facts.  A man who lies like a bearskin rug and actually seems not to know he’s lying. A man who is either a sexual predator or is so insecure that at age 60 he felt the need to curry the approval of a 32-year-old entertainment reporter (take your pick, it has to be one of the other).  A man who is unnerved and provoked into response by the slightest insult (imagine if the provocations came from the Iranians, or for that matter the French, and the tools of response involved the United States military instead of a smartphone and a Twitter account).  A 70-year old who behaves like a six-year-old – whose pattern of behavior will be recognized by anyone who ever encountered a bully on an elementary school playground.  Oh, and let’s not forget the long-distance love affair with Vladimir Putin, who is currently running a close second to Kim Jong Un for Most Dangerous Man on Earth.

 

  • A dope-smoking crackpot whose knowledge of world geography ends at Santa Fe, and whose soul seems to be stuck permanently at a Doors concert.

 

  • Jill Stein

 

I don’t like that list of choices any more than you do.  But everything in life is relative, and that’s what we’ve got.  Given those options, “belongs in jail” starts to look pretty good, doesn’t it?

It’s going to be OK.  Really.  Here’s all you need:

clothespins

Trust me on this.  I tried it on Friday and I’m still here.

Trumped Up!

There’s an old saying in bridge: “Get your trump out early.”  Apparently, the Republican Party is not populated by bridge players.

In the eight years since I started writing this blog, I’ve tried to find ways to explain the underlying reality or root cause of various issues, often political in nature.  In that time, I have been careful never to tell you how I voted or how I thought you should vote.

I’m changing that now. If you’re reading this, you probably know what’s coming, and maybe this is just piling on.  Please read it anyway.  And then tell your friends.  And ask them to tell theirs.

A while back, my brother asked me what I was going to do in this election.  Here is my answer:

“I have two choices – to hate myself a lot or to hate myself even more than that. When election day rolls around, I will go to The Container Store, buy a bag of 100 clothespins, put all 100 of them on my nose, and go vote for Hillary Clinton.  There’s a lot that I don’t like about her, and I don’t think she’s going to be a great president.  But she doesn’t pose a threat to the Republic. Donald Trump does.”

There.  I said it.

When this mess is over, I hope there will be some soul searching as to how we got to this ridiculous place.  I may have a few comments to offer in a subsequent post or two.  And I hope, but don’t expect, that the deepest soul searching will be done by the Republican Party, with which I used to identify, and which once was the noble Party of Lincoln. Today, it’s the Miracle Party.  The miracle is that they managed to make Ted Cruz look like a rational option.

Whether the soul searching happens or not (spoiler alert – it won’t), here’s what matters now:

  • Trumps lack of impulse control is legendary (see “Three Disastrous Debates” and “Awake at 3 AM Tweeting About a Former Beauty Pageant Winner’s Weight”).  This short article from the National Institutes of Health explains how impulse control is provided by the frontal cortex of the brain, which normally becomes completely developed around age 25.  Trump’s utter lack of such control suggests that this part of his brain either never finished developing or was damaged somewhere along the way.

Add all that up, and here’s what you get:

The Republican Party, in its infinite wisdom, has nominated for President of the United States, an ADHD-addled narcissistic sociopath with a significant brain defect.

I wish I were trying to be funny, but I’m not.  The appropriate response to people like that is to pity them and to help them as best we can.  It is not to elect them to the most powerful office on the planet.

So let’s not do that, OK?

Start Your Year With a Smile – 2016 Edition

It’s Year 6 of the photo blog and we’re going to dive right in.  This is my annual look-back at the year just ended.  What follows are the best pictures or screen captures I took (and in a few cases, that friends sent me) from all of 2015.  In one way or another, they are all about the things people choose to do and how they choose to express themselves.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I hope you find something that makes you laugh, and that you aren’t offended by the parts that are a little off-color.  As always, I refer you to my blog rule, which is that I never make anything up because I’m not nearly funny enough to come up with stuff as good as what real life provides.

With that, let’s get started.

My journalistic year started in January, when I paid a visit to Kohler, Wisconsin.  And I want to be absolutely clear about something:

Anyone who can turn a toilet factory into a tourist destination has my undying respect.

That said, the Kohler design center has an entire roomful of toilets, including a wall full of them that must be fifty feet high.  Standing atop that wall is this guy.

2015-01-17 12.46.36

I’m really not sure what he’s so joyful about.  After all, he’s gazing down on a roomful of toilets.  He looks like the toilet version of Rocky.  Maybe he’s feels like a king, in which case could this be his Throne Room?

The piece de plumbing resistance of this exhibit is Kohler’s remote control toilet.  Call me crazy, but I always thought the idea of a remote control anything is that you don’t have to touch, or even be near, the device in order to use it.  I’m not sure how that applies in this case.  Anyway, here is the remote’s screen.

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Yes, you can now have a toilet that will serenade you.

While we’re on the subject of toilet humor, there’s a high-rise going up across the street from the building I live in.  I walked out the front door one day and saw a handful of people on the sidewalk gazing skyward.  I looked up and saw this:

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It’s a little dark, but those blue things in the middle are a trio of Flying Porta-potties.  Trust me, there were lots of crossed fingers and a few prayers being said on the sidewalk.

In June, I had the great fortune to take a road trip with my daughter from Scottsdale, AZ, to Chattanooga, TN.  In Scottsdale, I happened to see this sign.

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I was curious, so I pulled in to see what it was for.  Here’s it is.

Lunch Box

As we were traveling, I discovered that there is indeed Welfare in Texas. . .

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. . .and that there are some roads probably best left less traveled.

Bad Route

At the end of the trip, we went up to the top of Lookout Mountain, TN, where we saw this:

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I’m thinking that Starbucks may have become just a bit too important in our culture.

We also saw this.  I’m pretty sure that “Restrooms” would have been entirely sufficient.

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At the bottom of Lookout Mountain, which actually puts it in Chattanooga, we came across this place.

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If you can’t make it out, this is the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum.  Aside from the history of the tow truck, it’s dedicated to those, and there appear to be many of them, who gave the last full measure of devotion.

2015-06-07 12.54.012015-06-07 12.54.13

 

 

 

 

According to the website, this year they will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the tow truck.

While we’re on the subject of arcane museums,  I was back at the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID, this summer.

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Yes, back. Second visit. This time when it was open.  Well, not quite open. I missed closing time by five minutes, but they were still there and opened it back up to give me a private tour. I think I heard someone in the back yelling, “Hey, we got one! We GOT one!!!!”  I picked up a souvenir, a Potato Museum hat, which caused my friend Lynne Marek to comment, “OK, never wear that thing around your kids.”

This is the kind of thing you can find at the Idaho Potato Museum. Where is Garrison Keillor when we really need him?

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Last year’s post contained an ill-advised and regrettable beaver-themed section. So does this year’s.

A Beaver Tail

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In Auburn Hills, Michigan, you can find yourself at the intersection of Big Beaver and Crooks.

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And what year would be complete without Flying Beavers?  I couldn’t get the video code to embed properly.  To see this 1-minute “film treasure” (their words, not mine!), just click here or on the picture below.

Flying Beavers 2

As always, there were a few great signs in, on or near businesses:

I’ll have whatever this place is serving!

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A great sign, seen in Seattle:

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From my friend, author Debra Dean (if you haven’t read her novels The Madonnas of Leningrad and A Mirrored World, do yourself a favor. . .stop reading this, go get them now, read them, then come back here. . .you’ll thank me for it), came this rainy-day picture of our friends at the Neptune Society offering a service that I thought went out with the Spanish Inquisition.

IMG_0510

 

This place is on North Avenue in Melrose Park, right across the street from a gun shop that has assault rifles on prominent display.

Red Star

Go back and take a closer look.  It does not way “Warehouse.” It does say “Bar.” And did I mention that it’s right across the street from a gun shop?

Bad grammar aside, I love seeing the poor, beleaguered Frozen Yogurt people take a stand.

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It is so good to know that that this company, in Elk Grove Village, IL, is keeping things clean.

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For a moment, I thought the T fell off this building, but it was only a shadow. Still, one can hope.

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It was another good year for things seen on, in or from cars.

Check out the model of the car, the license plate bracket and the first 3 letters on the license plate.

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The poor State of Illinois is so broke it is now private labeling vanity plates to neighboring Indiana.

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This one is a little hard to explain.  I only know what “twerking” is because Miley Cyrus did it once while performing on an awards show.  So last year, I thought it was pretty funny when I saw a car with a bumper sticker indicating that it’s owner was a (presumably proud) member of something called the  “Twerk Team.”  Imagine my surprise when this year I saw two more.  After all, I’m only one pair of eyeballs in a metropolitan area of 16 million eyeballs.  What are the odds?

2015-03-06 15.22.14

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These people are very proud of their pastime and their membership on this team.  I figure that if there are enough people like this to form a team, then there must be other teams, so that they can hold some kind of twerk-off.

If you’re like I was and are wondering what twerkers do, I have saved you the trouble of Googling “Twerk Team Chicago.”  Click this link and watch any video you like.  I can promise that all of your questions will be answered.  I can’t promise that you’ll be happy about that.

Moving on.

Who wouldn’t give their eyeteeth to be able to go a barbeque armed with this as the answer to the question, “So, Bob, who do you work for?”

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As my friend Mike Paton will attest, I am rarely rendered speechless.  This did it:

2015-06-05 License Plate

The State of Arizona went to great pains to make sure that this cow is udderly, anatomically correct.

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Another road to leave less traveled:

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Back on the business front, every now and then, I see something that makes me wonder about the conversation that led to it.  Here is this year’s winner.  I’m picturing a team that has been charged with coming up with a new feature to differentiate their bicycles.  They’ve spend a long, frustrating day in the conference room.  They are tired and sweaty, there are empty coffee cups all over the room.  They know that soon they have to go back to the boss with an answer.  Then, suddenly, a member of the team sits bolt upright and cries out, “Eureka!  I’ve got it!”

2015-06-13 17.39.12

If you can’t quite make out the writing around the hole in the middle it says “Perineal Safety Area.”

And the winner in the “Helpful Labeling” category:

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In the ever-popular Animal Hijinks category, here’s a TV show you wouldn’t want to miss:

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If you’re old enough, as I am, you might remember Morris the Cat of 9 Lives fame. It turns out that Morris was adopted from a shelter in Downers Grove. Who knew?

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And in that shelter was this guy, whose motto, I’m pretty sure, is “Because I can.  Sue me.”

2015-11-28 12.25.02

 

Lastly, thanks to my friend Bruce Onsager, who bought the boat, did all the hard work and invited me to be part of the adventure, I had the opportunity this year to sail the Chicago-Mackinac race. We sailed in the Cruising (read “slow boat”) division, and even then we were the finest ship and crew ever to finish last in their group.  Nonetheless, we crossed the finish line with the same crew we started with, which is a win in my book.

Along the way, I got to see this:

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That wasn’t part of what I expected from the race.  It occurred to me afterward that we can’t force these experiences. All we can do, and we should, is to put ourselves in places where we might have them.

I hope you will in 2016, and that it turns out to be an even better year for you than 2015 was.

Just Plain Not Smart Enough

Political commentary coming shortly, but first, here are two recent conversations, one that I overheard and one that I was part of.

Overheard: The other day, in my neighborhood Walgreen’s, I saw a skinny young man who was wearing pants that defied gravity and an oversized baseball cap that was overwhelmed by it. I thought he was accompanied by one young woman, but it turned out to be two. I’m still not sure what that was about. He sidled up to the pharmacy counter and here’s what I heard:

Young Man (face mostly obscured by oversized cap): “Mumble. Mumble mumble. Mumble mumble mumble.”

Pharmacist (loud and clear – might as well have been using a bullhorn): “Over the counter?”

Young Man: “Mumble mumble. Mumble. Mumble.”

Pharmacist: “Fertility tests? Yes, we have fertility tests for women. They’re in Aisle 3.”

Young Man: “Mumble! Mumble mumble mumble mumble. Mumble.”

Pharmacist: “What?!?!”

Young Man: “Mumble mumble mumble!”

Pharmacist (looking a little disgusted): “No! For a test like that, you gotta go see a doctor!”

The pharmacist fled to the comfort of filling prescriptions. The young man and his crew slouched out of the store. All looked dissatisfied.

Part of: Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent way too much time on chat and phone with various forms of tech support. Most of it has had to do with Quicken, which inexplicably stopped working right, and then piece-by-piece, started working better. It now appears to be fine, although no one knows who or what caused the improvement. In the world of technology, an experience like this is known as a “Full Smolinsky.”

I have great respect for people who provide tech support from call centers in the places like India and the Philippines. To make better lives for themselves and their families, they work miserable hours supporting poorly built products that are used by ungrateful people like me.  And last week, one of those wonderful people called me and said the following:

“Hello. I’m trying to reach Mr. Daniel Wallace. Is this Mr. Daniel Wallace? Hello, Mr. Daniel Wallace. I’m calling from Intuit Quicken. I am the support agent who will be helping you on this call. My name is Ann-Margaret.”

You know my rule. I never make this stuff up.

Now, on to the political commentary.

Hillary Clinton has, at last, thankfully, conclusively demonstrated that she is not qualified to hold the nation’s highest office. This time, it’s not the general smarminess, the lack of transparency or the squishy ethics. It’s not the habit of doing questionable things and then acting outraged when people question them. And it certainly isn’t the deeply held beliefs, the policies that emanate from them, and the clear, compelling vision for the future of America. It can’t be any of those things because I have no idea what they are and, in fact, strongly suspect that they don’t exist.

No, this time it’s much simpler.

In this day and age, if you don’t know that you can carry one phone with two email accounts on it, if you think that the right way to get a personal email account is to get your own mail server, if you can actually get your own mail server, and yet your answer to the question of whether it was secure is, “Well, it was on a property protected by the Secret Service,” then, at least in my humble opinion, you simply are not smart enough to be President of the United States.

Case closed.

Start Your Year With A Smile – 2014 Edition

Welcome to Year 5 of my annual photo review. Once again, I went into the year afraid that I’d get nothing and once again I got lots. Once again, I had help from friends and family.  And once again there’s the silly, the absurd, and the in-the-kind-of-bad-taste-that-appeals-mostly-to-inner-13-year-olds-like-me.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This year instead of themes, I’m mostly going to work chronologically. But first, here are the gifts from friends and family. With apologies to those who sent them, over the course of the year, I mostly forgot who sent what.  So I’m not going to attribute them because I would almost certainly get it wrong. Here they are, in the order received:

This school bus company decided that the best way to recruit drivers was to run a bus off the road and slap a sign on it.  Which seems like a great way to recruit exactly the people who shouldn’t be driving a school bus.

Bus Drivers Wanted!

I don’t often post things that have been posted elsewhere, but I like this too much not to.

cookie jar photo

An accurate reflection of last winter in Chicago.

hell

I dare you. . .go ahead and figure out what you are and are not allowed to do here.

No Parking!

A new form of nightlife. . .the Raw-iano Bar?

Piano Player

OK, on to my year.  My tour of the visually absurd which started at O’Hare on January 13. I wasn’t fast enough with the phone, so I missed the actual picture.  But here’s the scene.  See the guy at the far end in the blue hat?

2014-01-13 09.40.14

About a minute earlier, he was right in front of me with his backpack on the floor, bent over, trying to find something in it.  Let’s just say that in that moment, he, umm, revealed himself to be a plumber. Not an apprentice, either. A full-on, no kidding, 100% card-carrying, can’t you at least feel the draft, master plumber.  As the saying goes, I will never be able to not see that.

I’ve stayed in hundreds of hotels, and I’ve never hoped or expected to find a pre-printed, fake-handwritten Post-It like the one below stuck to the headboard of the bed.  And I hope never to see another one.  Methinks they doth protest too much.

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The former Caribou near me used tips to run informal polls.  I.e., one cup for Dogs and one for Cats.  Put your buck in the cup you favor  This poll took me a second. Then it made me wince.

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By the way, Holyfield won by a knockout.

OK, bad taste time. . .

In the spring, I found myself stuck in traffic behind this car on a Chicago expressway. (Side note: now, there’s a misappellation for you.   There’s nothing “express” about Chicago freeways. For that matter, there’s nothing “free” about most of them, either.  Now, back to our story. . .)

The nice lady driving this car either loves horse country or she really likes to over-share.

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My money is on over-sharing.  A couple of days later, at the very beginning of the same “expressway,” I saw this sign.

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It’s a little hard to make out because it was flickering. It says “Beam Erection.” Really.  “In the event of a road construction project lasting more than 4 years. . .”

Departing from the chronology briefly (but staying with the bad taste). . .when I was in my mid-20s, I lived in Washington DC for a couple of years. Every day, page 3 of the Washington Post was graced by an ad from Fred the Furrier. One day, the ad featured a woman in a lovely coat under the headline “Joie de Beaver.” Now, I”m sure Fred thought he was being clever, but I got D’s in college French, and even I can translate that. It was the source of much amusement for my roommates and me.

My roommates have matured. I haven’t.  So I was pleased that it turned out to be a banner year for the beaver-related.

There’s this place – an institution on Chicago’s north side:

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And this street downtown Flagstaff (I’m actually not sure which I like better, the name itself or the fact that it’s one-way):

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None of which prepared me for this, which I saw in a brew pub in Idaho Falls.

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I had one, by the way. It was very good.

Back to chronology.  Years ago, my friend Chuck Nordhoff introduced me to the joys of in-bad-taste lawn statuary. So I was delighted to see this guy.  He’s about 4 and a half feet tall.  The hat and the glasses are real.  I don’t know anything about the neighborhood over which he presides.  Only that someone thought he was a good idea.

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We’re now up to mid-summer, and if the beaver thing wasn’t bad enough, please remember that I never make anything up. My friend Anne Beall invited me to view Chicago’s “Pride Parade” (a public celebration of LGBT life, but others join in).  It passes right by her house, and you can see her in the lower right corner of the picture below.  This was my first time seeing the parade. It’s quite a show.

This was the first thing I saw when I arrived.

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I guess everybody needs a cause.  Remember, a group of men and women sat around someone’s living room and decided that they were sufficiently, well, hacked off about this (there are adjectives I could insert here, but even I won’t stoop that low) issue to do this.

I passed this sign on my way home from a day with a client.  Maybe it’s me, but I’m thinking that this is a product for which no amount of advertising or promotion is really going to increase demand.

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I’ve always thought that the homeless suffer perhaps the worst misfortune among us.  So I was surprised to learn that they’re apparently doing quite well.

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I was enormously relieved to see this car. Since they treat all ends of the horse, there’s still a place for me to get medical care.

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This was next door to an office where I had a meeting with a client.  (Yes, you can see me exercising my craft.)  I was not able to get my client to move the meeting here.

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Please read the description of the Grill Room Burger. Then head straight to your local ER because just reading this puts you at risk.

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I saw this just before I heard that Family Dollar had put itself up for sale.  It’s a little dark and you may not be able to make out the sign on the far right.  It says, “New!  Everyday Low Prices!”  Really?  This is Family Dollar.  What the hell have they been doing for the last 25 years?

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Jimmy Hoffa may still be missing, but at least we found Miley Cyrus.

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This place is closed.  I don’t know anything else about it, other than that they stole Dunkin’ Donuts’ tradestyle. But just try to pronounce whatever it is that’s on the sign.  I tried.  I can’t do it.

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I love this place’s definition of “foot.”  Very generous.

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Presumably, the Jew Arena is a foot-traffic nightmare.

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I could imagine this company being many different colors. Honestly, green really isn’t one of them.

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And wrapping up the year, this is the entire beef/poultry section of the menu from a wonderful Italian restaurant. There’s not a lot of beef in the beef/poultry section. For that matter, there’s not a lot of poultry, either.  Lots of lawsuit fear, however.

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And lastly, putting the fun stuff aside for a moment. . .this is the new Freedom Tower (actually One World Trade Center) in New York. From a distance, I didn’t like it very much.  But up close, it’s astounding.  From the right vantage point, It truly seems to ascend forever, touching, one might hope, the souls it honors.

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That’s what I have for you.  I hope you had a wonderful 2014 and that 2015 is even better.  For my part, I already have the first entry for next year’s edition.

My Neighborhood Has a Moose! Does Yours?

 

I usually pay attention to things with more redeeming social importance than this.  Except when I don’t.  Which is often.  Including now. . .

Yesterday and again today, I’ve been busy getting ready for a week of business travel.  Lots of desk time catching up, cleaning up and prepping.  And a curious distraction.

There’s a building that I see every time I look up from my laptop.  It’s a few blocks north, older, maybe 8-10 stories.  I’ve never paid any attention to it before, but yesterday a work crew was busy painting the side of it a bright, vibrant blue.  Today they’re back.  At least I think it’s them.  Maybe it’s a different crew.  Whoever it is, today they’re hoisting up the side of the building a giant picture of a moose that appears to be blowing a bubble-gum bubble.

I have no idea why my neighborhood is getting a bubble-blowing moose.  Perhaps there’s new research showing that bubble-blowing moose(s) raise the value of nearby properties?  Maybe the building owner misses Bullwinkle, just like I do.  That seems unlikely, though, since the bubble makes this moose look a little more like Rudolph than Rocky’s BFF.

Whatever the reason for it’s appearance (and I hope that eventually I’ll find out what that is), I’m sure it will be a great enhancement.

Consistent with my rule that I never make this stuff up because I’m just not that good, here’s my new neighbor.  Enjoy!

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PS – Lots of fun trying to come up with tags for this post. . .:-).

Speaking Plainly

Having been away for a long time, I owe my handful of faithful readers something better than this.  But it’s what I’ve got for you.

Perhaps you heard that the King of Spain recently abdicated the throne.  You know what this means, of course:

  • The reign in Spain went lamely down the drain.

<sigh> Finally I come up with something Twitterable and I have no Twitter account.  I refuse to create one because I believe that behind every great Twitter is a Twit.

Or perhaps I’ve put the cart before the horse?


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