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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Surviving the Holidays Part I

We have survived Xmas, Hanukah and the onslaught of the inlaws (I get inlaws and inlaws’ inlaws). K’s brother visited for all of last week, along with his wife and son. They stayed with the DMIL. However, since Big brudder inlaw’s wife’s family all live in town, they were treated to that joy of balancing their time and presence between the two families. They looked pretty tired by the time they left on Sunday. We were able to ease some of that strain by having both tribes at DMIL’s house a three evenings. We had everyone together the night they arrived and for dinner on Xmas ( more about that later). We also had everyone over for the feast of Saint Glutton.

Never heard of the feast of St. Glutton? Neither did I, but it seems to occur the evening of December 24. Here’s how it works. One of the brudder in law’s most endearing qualities is his generosity, which he loves to express through food (and I mean generous food). He and his son went grocery shopping and prepared a dinner at home. Dad made lamb chops on the grill (and I helped), while son cooked a sauce made of cream, wine and a few fine cheeses, which they served over that posh type of ravioli you can buy at whole foods. We cooked about three chops per person and according to the labels, the ravioli should have covered about 1 ½ main courses each. We are all still working on the leftovers. By the way, I found the unintentional symbolism of lamb on Xmas eve to be moderately amusing. At least we didn’t have baby vegetables.

We (just the inlaws and I, not the inlaws’ inlaws) opened gifts later on Xmas eve. That’s convenient, since it gives us something to do while K and I wait until it’s late enough for K to leave for midnight mass. I went to midnight mass once. The music was nice, but otherwise it was the same show you can get at a much more convenient time on Sunday.

Santa, in the disguise of DMIL, gave me a digital camera. Sweet! You can expect a more self-involved blog from now on.

On to Xmas day. Most of the day was spent fretting and setting up a big dinner at DMIL’s house. We had about twelve or fourteen for dinner. Brudder inlaw likes to make prime rib for these occasions, so DMIL ordered a roast from a local butcher. She asked for the largest prime rib they could get, which was probably a mistake. We cooked a 23 pound roast for twelve people, including two women over 85 years old, and a gustatory wimp (me). Lots more leftovers there. Here’s a picture of the charred behemoth. It came out perfectly, like always. At this moment, I am making soup from the seven ribs that cradled the roast.

One of the inlaws’ inlaws gave us the highlight of the evening, when he played a couple of songs on his guitar. This guy is a senior in High School and a pretty nice kid. He is also great at music. He does well in math class, so he’s OK in my book.

Last Friday night, we had some of the visiting folks’ friends at DMIL’s place. More leftovers. Looks like our meat based diet will last at least into the new year.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shoe Your Love for for George

I just watched the official White House Holiday Video. If this is the best these clowns can do with new technology, no wonder the evil overlord and his minions couldn't win an election. This sucks like no video has sucked before. What disturbs me the most, is that after watching it twice, it seems apparent to me that that the video's authors (and no doubt their masters) have not had an original thought in the last 40 years. Let's face it, Bob Hope might have produced the same video in 1965, however his would've tickled us with his unique warm and gentle style of humor. Neither warmth nor humor can escape the from black hole that is the Bush White House. This video, according to the Geneva Conventions (remember that quaint little old document?) is classified as torture.

I just received a quick comment from Hangininsac's learned correspondent,Dr Samuel Johnson; Apparently, patriotism is the second to last refuge of cowards. I am humbly corrected to see that pets are the final refuge, who could have known?

Well, after watching the video twice for my review, I just can't seem to keep my shoes on.

If you also have that feeling, I suggest you play the Sock and Awe game. I scored 10 hits, and I wasn't even beaten by security guards! Awesome!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Guess Who's Joined the Xmas Resistance Movement?

Me! On Reality TV!!!!!

The One-Minute Writer: Today's Writing Prompt: Reality TV

I would appear in a reality show targeted at finding America's greatest slacker. Although "greatest slacker" is an oxymoron, and the show would have abysmal ratings, I think that's the only category where I would have a chance of winning.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We are Here to Praise the Dead

The One-Minute Writer: Today's Writing Prompt: Influence

My advisor in grad school had a great influence on my life, although I didn't see that until his funeral when I was about 47 years old.

From his influence I gained an ethical approach to business that has been invaluable.

Although it was not apparent to me, I believe his interest in early music has helped lead me to a great hobby career as a recorder player and recorder society president.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The British Lapland Controversy Endures

You may recall the breaking report from Britain's lapland previously,which first you read about here.

From a quick review of letters to The Sun,it looks like the controversy isn't slowing down.

Eliko,from town unspecified in the UK said,

'It's about time somebody punched that 'Old Goat' on the chin, I have waited patiently for years (since I was eight years old) and he suddenly stopped coming down MY chimney.

NOW, he expects us to pay him to go and see him, what's up with him ?, if he doesn't want to give us presents he should say so.

DJK from Australia brings upan interesting point about trademarks, 'Santa needs trademark protection. Imagine if they tried to open up Nike World instead ?"

Far as I'm concerned, he can stuff 'em !.'

In reference to the folks who slugged Santa, Ooomorgan from Wales said,'Someone's mummy and daddy are on the naughty list this year."

I found the best jounalistic follow up in The London Times. I quote directly;

Visitors who had paid up to £30 each for tickets to a 'Christmas Wonderland' in the New Forest were turned away yesterday by a woman shrieking: 'Santa's dead.'

Yep,Santa's dead. And remember, you heard it first in Uncle Rupert's rag.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Never Fear, the Guvmint’s Here

As we all await some new Federal action to modify more troubled mortgages, let’s look at the mortgages that have already been modified. The Comptroller of the currency has already taken that look for us, and it lookses nasty, precious. About one half of the modified loans are going bad by 6months. It hurts us,precious,ti hurts us!

Here’s the comptroller’s spin:

‘Comptroller Dugan Highlights Re-default Rates on Modified Loans
WASHINGTON — Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan said today that new data shows that more than half of loans modified in the first quarter of 2008 fell delinquent within six months.
“After three months, nearly 36 percent of the borrowers had re-defaulted by being more than 30 days past due. After six months, the rate was nearly 53 percent, and after eight months, 58 percent,” the Comptroller said in remarks at the Office of Thrift Supervision’s National Housing Forum today.
Mr. Dugan spoke during a panel discussion with OTS Director John Reich, Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairman Donald Kohn, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart.
A key question, Mr. Dugan said, is why is the number of re-defaults so high? Is it because the modifications did not reduce monthly payments enough to be truly affordable to the borrowers? Is it because consumers replaced lower mortgage payments with increased credit card debt? Is it because the mortgages were so badly underwritten that the borrowers simply could not afford them, even with reduced monthly payments? Or is it a combination of these and other factors? ‘
Since even the Comptroller claims to not understand what this means, I can admit with a clear conscience that I am flummoxed, too. However, it could be that the modified loans are underwritten equally as well as the original loans? Tricksy banksers!

The Comptrol dude issued this cool graph. I imagine if googles searches ‘graphic sucking’ this is what they might see.You can click on the image to make it big enough to read.

That's my story and I'm sticking ot it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

For John Milton’s 400th Birthday

Four hundred years before this day, twelve nine,
A man was born to write of heav’n and hell.
John Milton, Poet of Puritan revolt,
Invented Satan’s fall from Grace to Hell.

A protestant whose myth survived the years,
A story told by nuns of Irish birth .
The Cath’lic view of Heav’n and Hell derived
From myth that hints at ills of Popes and Kings.

John Milton was born December 9,1608, thus spake Wikipedia.
Remember folks, you read it here first.

I don’t understand what happened to the parades and fireworks I was expecting. It must be the economy.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Single Mothers of Infants, Get to Work, Dammit!

The Guardian reports the UK's Work and Pension Secretary is demanding that parents on the dole must be prepared to work or face dole reductions. The kicker is that the proposal would apply to single parents with children as young as one.

The Idler points out a poignant comparison (Thanks to Tom Hodgekinson):

The UK's DWP official said:

'Sanctions would only apply to those who refuse to take steps to be job-ready that have been jointly agreed with their personal advisers in Job Centres.'

In a classic example of the originality of British Civil servants,we can see from whose larger government regulation the DWP has copied work:

The problem?

'Work-shy elements within the meaning of this order are men who are old enough to work and who have recently been certified fit and who can be proved to have rejected offers of work on two occasions without just cause or have accepted work only to abandon it again shortly afterwards without adequate reason.'

The solution?

'All protective custody prisoners will be sent to concentration camp Buchenwald near Weimar.'

The date of this announcement? 1938. The author? Heinrich Himmler.

The moral of the story?

Watch out, people. It’s during times of economic collapse that bits of authoritarian legislation tend to get sneaked through.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

British Public Attacks Santa


I take this quotation straight from the BBC:

'Santa got attacked, one of the elves got smacked in the face and pushed into a pram.'

This is actually one small installment of the saga of a fly by night theme park that is so bad even the British noticed. Check out the nativity scene.

The Sun, surely the paragon of British Journalism (and pretty girls with bigguns) Exclaims, 'It's Slapland!'

Might this be the start breakthrough the Christmas Rovolution Movement has been awaiting? Only time will tell. Until then,I say bah Humbug!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Our Month of Music

December is the month of music in our house. Between Kathleen and me, we have at least five concerts I can think of, and probably some more I am forgetting about.

The Sacramento Concert Band is playing tonight at Christ Community Church tonight at 7:00. The first half of our concert will be normal music, followed by a short intermission and the obligatory set of Holiday music (really just Xmas and Hanukah). The church is willing to lend us their facilities in return for our requesting food drive donations. As the band’s stage manager, I am very grateful to the church. This is a giant church with great facilities and unbelievable organization that makes my job a lot easier. They have even promoted our concert to their gigantic membership. Without that kind of help, we would likely end up with an audience smaller than the band.

Hopefully we’ll be able to project the animated segment from Allegro Non Troppo for Sibelus’s Valse Triste. This is a very sad and beautiful work of art, and, a rather strong yet subtile anti-war statement. This is good enough that I’ve embedded the youtube video here.

No guarantees that we will be able to show the video, since in addition to the projecting the visuals, we’ll need to set up the click track for our conductor. The church people are pretty confident that we’ll be able to pull this off.

We will repeat the same concert, without the video on Monday, December 8 at the Winterstien Adult Education Center.

This Saturday, December 6, Sine Nomine, my recorder consort, will play between 12:00 and 1:00 PM at the Grand Opening of the New Public Library in Elk Grove. Elk Grove has needed this library for years, and I am happy to be a part of this. I will try to remember to bring a camera and take some pictures. I might even write an article for the American Recorder Society magazine! I’ll be sure to post the article here. Since almost all our music comes from the 14th through 18th centuries, it sounds like Xmas music to our audience. We actually aren’t playing any uniquely holiday pieces.

K’s choir, Schola Cantorum, will give concerts on December 20 and 21 at Sacred Heart Church, and they’ll provide their traditional music before and during Sacred Heart’s Midnight Mass. I usually skip the Midnight Mass, since it runs pretty late.

How much fun can two mediocre musicians have in one month?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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