31 July 2007


This poster is one of the exhibits which is part of a traveling exhibition starting in San Francisco this year entitled "Propaganda 3: Political Posters." The work was created by Richard Cala of CalaGraphicDesign.


I needed to find for RNA/DNA tablets. I tried getting some at GNC last night while at Poplar Plaza since I was already going to be there shopping at Petco.

The completely disinterested clerk said, "no, we don't have that". Apparently this location is a muscle-head store. Only MAX this and ULTRA that. So, I figured I'd try Wild Oats today at lunch.

A few years ago, Squash Blossom, our Midtown health food mecca, sold out to the Wild Oats. Wild Oats took over a previously vacant retail space in East Memphis giving us two locations in which to shop. Shortly thereafter, the Midtown location closed.

So today at 1:30. Me. A bunch of idiots on Walnut Grove driving east in their giant, gas-guzzling penis extensions/penis substitutes*. I saw all manner of "W"stickers. Joy.

At the store, I picked up some locally grown yellow and red tomatoes, organic mushrooms and a salad mix, some bananas and some organic bleu cheese dressing. I found that Heinz Ketchup actually does come in an organic version without High Fructose Corn Syrup. With some help from a clerk who was continually interrupted by someone asking about Noni, I found the RNA/DNA. I also picked up a complete amino supplement.

For lunch, I grabbed a Nikko spring roll and a mixed sushi box, Spicy Five-Star Nigiri with salmon, tuna and shrimp. The rolls are too big to eat in one bite, but they're good, as are the spring rolls.

There was a catered lunch here today. When the announcement went out about the leftover food, which included Key Lime Pie, I told Donna I wanted some. She brought me some when she came up with her sandwich.

The pie is gross. One bite and into the trash.

* Gas-guzzling penis extensions/penis replacements refers to the vehicles of those drivers who travel in their oversized station wagons as if they have something to prove. Or, maybe they're yapping on the phone and not paying attention. Regardless.

30 July 2007


I have been remiss. I'll try to do better.

Eric, Tom and I went to Danver's for lunch today. It was very hot. And the drive is so short that the car barely has time to cool.

I had Monday's lunch special: hamburger, fries, Diet Coke. I added a trip to the salad bar. Mixed baby greens, fresh broccoli, shredded cheddar, cucumbers, cottage cheese and a dab of blue cheese dressing. Believe me, it's not Bleu here.

They have, as of today, made the restaurant a non-smoking environment. Whatever.

Anybody have an Alka Seltzer?

"Pure as the Driven Slush"

Wasn't it Tallulah Bankhead who was credited with saying this?

I think it was. The questionnaire below provided me with the following results. It only takes a few seconds -- a relatively amusing diversion.

Hope you have a great Monday. UCK. :)

You Are 61% Pure

You're pretty pure, and you have no plans on changing that.
You do have a devilish side though... and it will probably get the better of you.

19 July 2007

Mosquitos: Satan on Earth

For the life of me I cannot see any redeeming value in mosquitos. Sure, they are part of a bat's diet. But, bats can't live on mosquitos alone.

They bring us malaria. They bring us West Nile. They, apparently, have brought my love, Doris, heartworms. Even though she has been been given Heartguard religiously, Dr. McCutcheon told me that there is a new strain that is resistant to the preventative. She asked if we had been in Arkansas recently because there is an area there where they simply cannot prevent heartworms. When I explained that we had driven through Arkansas to Little Rock, then north to Cape Fair, Missouri back in May, she wasn't sure that we were near the problem area.

Doris and Billie

Yesterday's test was preliminary. Dr. McCutcheon took extra blood and sent it to the lab for a more comprehensive analysis. We should have results either today or tomorrow. Merial (the maker of Heartguard), among other drug manufacturers, is working to fix this breach in protection. And, since Doris and Billie have been taking the drug forever, Merial will pay for the treatments.

But, the good news doesn't stop there! The Royal Canin food created specifically for Boxers, that we were excited to discover and have been feeding the girls half the recommended amount for at least a year, has too high a caloric content and both of them are overweight.

And, before Doris can have necessary dental surgery she has to lose at least eight pounds, and go through heartworm treatments.


10 July 2007

Come on, Mouse, it really is you

I just finished reading Armistead Maupin's new novel, "Michael Tolliver Lives."

After reading several reviews I didn't know what to expect. After reading "Maybe the Moon" and "The Night Listener" I realized that Maupin was trying to put "Tales" behind him, but what I really wanted was more from the folks at 28 Barbary Lane. I've read the Tales of the City series so many times I've lost count. I've bought the books, given them to others and replaced my copies. To me, they are a must read for everyone, let alone anyone who is gay and looking for acceptance in their lives -- both within themselves and from outsiders -- meaning that these stories include those of us from the lavender persuasion as a normal part of life and there are no apologies. There shouldn't be, as I see it, and the way that Armistead Maupin wove his complex, intertwined tales made me feel like I was a part of everything that happened during the decades that his storytelling covered.

My affection for "Tales of the City" may be due to the fact that I've always wanted to live in San Francisco, and later, that I felt a connection with the characters and the things that faced them as a matter of life. The stories felt very real to me.

Because I had resigned myself to the fact that Maupin had moved on, I wasn't sure that I wanted to read "Michael Tolliver Lives," but I'm glad I did. If you liked "Tales of the City," you must read "Michael Tolliver Lives."

While there is closure at the end of this novel, I hope that Mr. Maupin realizes that we want to know more.

05 July 2007


Thursday, 3 July

After work on Tuesday I skipped the gym and drove first to Easy Way for some vegetables, then to Joe's for some Monopolowa. I arrived at home around 6. Cameron's truck was in the driveway, but he heard me pull up and came out of the house to let me pull the convertible into the garage. Walking into the house I loved on Doris and Billie, who always enthusiastically greet me at the door, put my Acme bag on the dresser in the guest room and walked back outside to unload the trunk.

I kissed Cameron, who had already started pulling together the things I'd need for cooking dinner and had a cocktail waiting in the freezer for me, and started unloading the trunk.

I mentioned before I left for work that morning that I'd pick up some vegetables. And, when we talked around noon we discussed, as Alex has often said, "having a quiet evening at home." What I didn't know was that Cameron had already been to Easy Way, attempting to save me the trip. So with a surplus of pickling cucumbers, cauliflower and green onions that wouldn't all fit in the crisper drawers, we'd soon get to work scrubbing and slicing cucumbers, red and yellow peppers and onions for refrigerator pickles. I also planned to make pico de gallo with some roma tomatoes originally intended for that purpose, (which were beginning to show signs of becoming overly ripe) and the first half of a bunch of cilantro that I'd purchased for making slaw the next day.

Cameron had spent a good part of the afternoon cutting the huge slab of beef he'd purchased at Costco the day before into nicely sized New York Strips. Discovering that the knives were in dire need of sharpening, he pulled out the Martha Stewart Everyday knife sharpener bought at clearance from K-mart last Christmas and attempted to hone the blade. He must've done an adequate job because he managed to butcher the roast, but he'd left the sharpener on the counter so I could sharpen and/or resharpen all of the knives in the kitchen, another thing I had mentioned wanting to do earlier in the week.

An already thawed a package of vacuum-sealed Oven Crisped Lemon Chicken breasts (Cameron's mother's recipe) were in the fridge for dinner. I had already diced an onion and was cutting up yellow squash when David called to invite us to dinner with he and Summer at his house. Cameron explained that we were in the middle of cooking dinner and invited them to dinner at our house.

When they arrived I had already finished the pico and was measuring vinegar, sugar, mustard seed and celery seed for the pickles. Thankfully, the two of them had pretty much expected us to eat sort of late -- as we often do regardless of whether it's a "school night" or not -- and brought some homemade guacamole and chips. I put a bowl of just finished pico on the table and continued about my pickling business.

Sometime around 8:30 I put the chicken in the oven for its hour at 350° F. Through some miscommunication between Cameron and myself and because David is largely vegetarian with the exception of seafood, I thought that he was bringing some shrimp to grill. But as we visited, I realized that we needed to get something else going for our friends. One of us took David to the freezer where he pulled out two unexpectedly nice chunks of cod, much like the size of a Tuna steak. I was shocked. The cod I usually find at Kroger, for instance, comes in a bag of individually vacuum-sealed emaciated, thin, flat filets in odd-numbers so you can never cook dinner for 4 out of one bag. These looked great.

As the chicken cooked and we started thawing the fish. I broke apart a head of cauliflower and put it in a foil lined pan, drizzled it with olive oil, salt and pepper and covered it. It went into the oven with the chicken. Next was a salad of Romaine, mixed baby greens, cubed yellow and red tomatoes and green onions. David made some dressing that he'd dubbed "Mark's something or other quick this or that." (I'm finishing this post four days after the fact. David, sorry I can't remember the name.) It was comprised of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil and a couple other things, I think. Regardless of the ingredient list, it was good.

We finally sat down to dinner sometime between 10:30 and 11. I was happy to receive an IM from David on Friday stating, "btw, we had a blast the other night."

Wednesday, 4 July

We spent a good part of the morning enjoying the mid-week break from work. Knowing that it was just for one day, we didn't spend much time doing the usual housework, yardwork, or otherwork we usually do on days off. Cameron did clean the pool. And I did some tidying up in the house, but for the most part our day was spent preparing for that evening's dinner with our longtime friends and neighbors, Gene and Cindie.

Sometime earlier in the week I received a recipe flash from Epicurious for baby back ribs. Cameron had picked some up for us at Costco and they were in the fridge, waiting for their cleaning, pat dry and dry rub. They would go back in the fridge in their foil covered cocoon for two-and-a-half hours before being allowed to reach room temperature for thirty minutes, then hitting the oven for an hour-and-a-half.

I thinly sliced half-heads of red and green cabbage and coarsely chopped the cilantro left from the day before for the slaw. Olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper whisked together made up the dressing. A little toss to coat and a Tupperware bowl finished the task and put the slaw in the fridge to chill.

Next: create the barbecue sauce. I carefully prepared small dishes and bowls of all the ingredients: brown sugar, chopped onion, finely chopped fresh ginger, six cloves of chopped garlic (or in my case the equivalent -- 6 teaspoons -- from a jar), apple cider vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, salt, pepper, cumin, and water. I'd planned to substitute tomato paste, a little more vinegar and water, plus some turbinado sugar for the ketchup, but I was out of tomato paste. In the interest of time, I went to grab some ketchup but was out of that too.

Too convenient.

We had accepted Dan and Lori's invitation earlier for a couple hours by their pool. So when Cameron was ready to go to their house I told him to go on over and that I'd meet him there after a visit to the Pig.

At their house, I sat with Lori at a table by the pool while we watched the others swim. I figured I'd have to be back home by 3:00 in order to stay on track with dinner. When I started to leave, Lori topped off my strawberry daiquiri. I couldn't waste it -- I got home around 3:20.

I put away the other things I picked up at the grocery and measured three cups of ketchup for the barbecue sauce. After heating the oil, I added the onions, garlic and ginger. When the mixture became fragrant I knew that this was going to be good. I added the rest of the ingredients and let them simmer, stirring occasionally, for fifteen minutes. When I turned off the heat so it could cool a bit before being blended in batches, I had one last thing to make: the Watermelon Feta Salad. The recipe comes from this month's Everyday Food.

A little after 4, Gene came in the back door with barbecued chicken and barbeque baked beans. Cindie came in a couple of minutes later with cilantro potato salad and cucumbers in sour cream. Finally, in his second trip, Gene brought over some roasted corn-on-the-cob with tarragon and butter.

Discussing our next steps and how long it would be before dinner was ready, I was complaining about the remaining basting brush I have. Gene offered to go back next door for one of his silicone brushes. I've been tempted to buy one but was unsure of how effective it would be.

Cindie tossed oil and lemon juice with the arugula and onions while I tossed the watermelon with crumbled feta. We left the two seperate until dinnertime. Cameron started the grill when he and Gene went outside. Cindie and I grabbed our cocktails and took the ribs outside to grill over indirect heat for 30 to 40 minutes.

The silicone brush kicks it. It's fantastic. Next time I'm at Williams-Sonoma I'll be picking up at least one. Probably two. We brushed the ribs every ten minutes, as instructed.

After a half hour or so, we took the ribs off of the grill and discussed whether to eat outdoors or in the air conditioned dining room. Everything was delicious and the company was perfect. It is so nice to have friends like Gene and Cindie, and having them right next door is a blessing.

It was a nice one-day holiday that was much more satisfying and relaxing than the year we enjoyed the day with patriotically colored cocktails, starting with red (bloody marys in the morning), white (piña coladas by the pool in the afternoon) and blue (blue hawaiians while preparing dinner). We barely made it through dinner. I think we were all in bed by 8 -- no fireworks that year.

02 July 2007

Whiny Cry Baby

As the one or two of you who read my blog know, Cameron is a 17-year flight attendant at Northwest Airlines. As such, we have endured a bit of hardship at the hands of Doug Steenland, CEO, NWA. While Northwest recently emerged from bankruptcy just days after AFA suspiciously ratified the third tentative agreement, Joe-Joe, dog-faced boy, accepted a $26.6 million bonus for running the once profitable, but now, struggling airline into bankruptcy. I suspect that his undeserved bonus would have gone a long way to keep the airline solvent.

Q: Why would the compensation board reward poor performance? A: cronyism.

His heart isn't the only thing that's ugly.

In light of all the bad press Northwest is getting due to cancellations, Cameron received a whining lament from Steenland in his e-mail. After reading it I thought, "boo-hoo, asshole. You've done the same thing to Northwest that Al Checchi did a few years ago. Now, suffer the consequences." This excerpt from a 1997 Time magazine article about Checchi's failed run for California governor illustrates exactly what he and Steenland have done with the help of the compensation boards that pay them, the corrupt union officials that they bribe and the bankruptcy judges with which they're in bed:

As Checchi knows, his years as co-chairman of Northwest are the ones his critics are most likely to use against him. When asked about his piloting of the airline, he gets a scowl on his face and pulls out two yellow, legal-size pages of scrunched-up notes to defend his record there from 1989 to 1993. Critics charge that he took the once profitable carrier, burdened by debt from the LBO, to the brink of bankruptcy. Checchi used his charisma to extract some $800 million in union concessions and an additional $837 million in state and local bonds, subsidies and tax credits--while earning $32 million in management and investment fees for his outside firm.

In his version, Checchi was the "white knight" who kept the company from being dismantled by asset strippers or from going down the tubes like Eastern Air Lines. He also gave Northwest employees stock that has tripled in value. "Look," he says, "we took one of the worst airlines in America and made it one of the most profitable." But Paul Omodt, spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association for Northwest, says the LBO was "disastrous" for the employees, who ended up bailing out the company in return for stock and three directors' seats. As for the state's involvement, critics like Minneapolis' Federal Reserve Bank researcher Art Rolnick say what Checchi touts as a "partnership" of government and business was really a government subsidy in return for promises to build new facilities and create jobs. "The notion that he was a white knight is questionable," says Rolnick.


And, now, here is the letter from poor, little Douggie:

Dear Co-worker:

As everyone knows, we've had a painful week as we have had to cancel flights, inconvenience customers, and put an extra burden on all our co-workers. We are working hard to solve this problem and we all need to work as a team to make sure this never happens again.

It’s important that we understand the facts and the steps being taken to address the issue. When we first developed our 2007 business plan, we expected to increase capacity by 3.7 percent year-over-year compared to 2006. We planned this level of growth to secure jobs, take advantage of new opportunities created by our successful restructuring, and increase the profitability of the airline. In the spring of this year, recognizing that summer weather might be challenging and that this would be the first summer operating in our post restructuring environment, we took steps to ensure that we had adequate pilot staffing. Specifically, we pulled back on some of our planned growth to create additional pilot reserve hours for the summer months. In fact, we entered this summer with the highest level of pilot reserves in Northwest’s recent history.

Since October 2006, we have been retraining our furloughed pilots so that they can resume flying and we can grow our pilot staffing. Our training facilities have been full to capacity and we have offered every furloughed NWA pilot the opportunity to return to Northwest. In May, Northwest completed 99.1 percent of its scheduled flights which put us near the top of all network carriers in completion factor. This excellent level of operational performance suggested our plan for the summer was a sound one. Why then has NWA’s completion factor in June been so different from May? Several factors have contributed to the June results. Among the most important are:
- Weather: We had two major East Coast storms in early June and one in the Midwest that significantly affected our operations and caused us to use up many pilot hours. This week’s storms on the East Coast and Wednesday’s ground stops in Detroit further impacted our operations and reminded us just how disruptive bad weather can be during peak travel summer months. Our competitors were also affected. For example, yesterday, Delta cancelled 200 flights.
- Increasing Congestion: As many of you know, the East Coast is reaching the saturation point for aircraft operations. Even on good weather days, we are incurring delays into the large East Coast cities and this is getting worse by the month. These ATC delays also use up more pilot hours than expected.
Absenteeism: Pilot absenteeism increased by 80 percent in June 2007 versus June 2006 and by 40 percent in June 2007 versus May 2007. These absenteeism increases primarily involved a minority of NWA narrow-body pilots.
The cumulative effect of these factors caused the airline to have a shortage of pilots for the latter part of June. This left us no choice but to cancel flights so that we could get the airline back to normal. Some have suggested that if NWA had started retraining its furloughed pilots sooner the June problem could have been avoided. Using the perfect vision of 20 – 20 hindsight, that clearly would have helped. If our crystal ball had been perfect, we would have recalled pilots sooner and not expanded the airline as much in 2007. However, we entered the summer with reasonable expectations that the schedule would be operated reliably, for the following reasons:
- Pilot reserve hours for the summer months were at an all time high;
- The May 2007 operation realized a 99.1 percent completion factor; and
- The June 2007 completion factor would have been in line with that of prior months if pilot absenteeism had remained at the same level as June 2006. The June 2007 pilot staffing plan did not anticipate the increase in absenteeism over June, 2006. So what are we doing to address this issue? Here are some of the steps we are taking:
- Effective July 18, we will cancel our Detroit – Frankfurt second frequency which is flown with 757 aircraft, thereby creating additional pilot hours.
- In August we are further reducing the schedule by 90 flying hours per day (a reduction of about 3 percent of domestic mainline capacity) to create additional reserves and to reduce the monthly maximum hours that our pilots will be asked to fly that month.
- We are continuing our efforts to increase the number of NWA pilots. Our training facility will remain full. We will look to get all remaining furloughed pilots back to work and we will initiate new pilot hiring, if necessary.
- Recognizing that summer thunderstorms and ATC congestion are inevitable, starting in August, we will also modify the way that some of our pilot trips are scheduled, especially to and from the large East Coast cities, so that when bad weather and ATC delays do occur, the impact on the entire system can be minimized.
- We have also instituted some short-term solutions to mitigate cancellations. These include relaxed travel restrictions, efforts to ensure quick re-accommodation of our passengers, and multiple efforts to contact our customers about the cancellations.

The past week has been a very difficult time for NWA, especially for all of you who have been dealing directly with our customers, who are understandably frustrated. I am particularly grateful to our ground personnel, reservations agents, pilots and flight attendants who have been working hard every day during this challenging period. Thank you for your professionalism, hard work and commitment to meeting our customers’ needs.

Please be assured that we are taking every measure to resolve the problem and return Northwest to normal operations. To accomplish this, we all must continue the commitment we have shown during our 20 months of restructuring and remain focused on our shared goal of making Northwest one of the world’s most successful airlines.

Doug Steenland

M-kayyy... "co-worker?" Who the hell are we kidding? Steenland is the bully that stole other kids' lunch money in grade school. Besides, any CEO worth their salt would have anticipated this backlash from the pilots because the "coworkers" are tired of getting shafted so this bastard can take all the marbles. His initiatives are at best a Band-Aid. The fact is, he's changing work rules to further "punish" the pilots for not cooperating and laughing all the way to the bank.

That's OK, I guess. We'll cope. Someday, he'll be living in hell with "W," Prick Cheney, and BOBOB, Ann Coulter.