Monday, April 26, 2004

Tried to be sociable this weekend, but it was hard going due to being very tired as well as coming down with something. I started feeling bad things happening Friday night. I took the night off and just sat in front of the TV. It didn't help much, but I needed to be in Kalkaska by 9:30 am for practice with the trio for Sunday morning. Practice didn't go well for me because my ears were plugged up so bad I couldn't hear the music track. Add that to my unfamiliarity with singing tenor and it was pretty much a disaster. I had a few hours to kill before the world-famous Kalkaska Trout Festival Parade, so I headed for home, did some odds and ends for a couple hours, then headed back into town. I didn't really feel like finding a parking place anywhere near downtown with the duely, so I parked at the church and walked the mile or so to downtown. It was only in the 50's, and the wind was chilly, but the sun was out which is unusual in Michigan this time of year. Before the parade started, I did some meet-and-greet with some people I hadn't seen in a while before I found my family and settled in.

The parade was different this year, which caused a lot of grumbling. It seems the head of the parade committee told local businesses that if they wanted to be in the parade, they had to either enter a float or at least decorate the vehicle they entered in some way. This is one of those attempts to address a small problem with a blanket rule that creates a bigger problem. Yes, the parade was accumulating a lot of lame entries that had stretched the thing to nearly three hours; businesses driving by in the company pickup truck had become about half the parade. But making a blanket rule knocked out a lot of entries by the heavy equipment businesses that would enter their biggest crane or some giant rig for fighting forest fires. The kids love seeing that stuff drive by ten feet in front of them. It also eliminated almost all the local hot rod builders, which made it pretty uninteresting for me. One of those important lessons in unintended consequences. A more intelligent approach may have been to talk to the people who were being a problem and helping them move it up a notch rather than not allowing "undecorated" vehicles.

Anyway, after that I tagged along with my sister to the petting zoo at the fairgrounds. They had some pretty interesting critters including a large Bengal tiger that spent the entire time sleeping (of course). Love the big cats. Until you have stood within five or ten feet of one, you cannot appreciate just how big a 600 pound house cat is. We also spent some time cruising the flea market. Some of the stalls have a lot of things you just don't find at the mall. Others, I really have to wonder about. Why would I buy things like nuts and bolts at a traveling flea market when I can buy the same thing at the local hardware for half the price? A 9/16 bolt is pretty much a 9/16 bolt. And I can be pretty sure that the one I buy at the hardware isn't something that failed inspection and was sold as scrap. In any case, I didn't buy anything, just walked around until it was time to meet the rest of the family for dinner. One of the local churches was serving dinner for $7. By the time we were done there, it was after 6:00 pm, and I still had a bunch of stuff to get done for Sunday.

Sunday was Sunday. I managed not to screw up the trio too much. After Sunday morning service I went home intending to catch up on some sleep, but ended up working on stuff for a youth event next weekend and the deacons meeting Tuesday night. There wasn't choir practice, so I just drove in for evening service and hung around for the kick-off meeting of the local outreach committee. I'm not technically a member of the committee, but a lot of what we do in youth group qualifies as local outreach, so I'm there to make sure we don't get in each others way and to pick up on ideas that the youth group can take the point on. After that, I went home and just sat quietly trying to keep my head from exploding. It looks like I won't miss out on my Spring Sinus Infection this year.

Debbie is in Las Vegas until Thursday with her mom, so I'm on my own this week. It could get ugly...

It looks like I won't be reading Dave Berry anymore. The Miami Herald has decided to require readers to register for free. I'm sorry; I already get enough spam. I'm have no intention of signing up for more. I just won't read Dave Berry anymore and will remove the link to his column from here and my web site. I don't have a problem with subscription-only sites, as a rule. I subscribe to, for example, just so I can read Jerry Pournelle's weekly column. But that is a straight up subscription of $12 a year, and I don't get spam from them. What I don't like are the "free" subscriptions that require a functioning e-mail address. These just generate address lists that are sold to spammers... er... "affiliates" who then will stuff my e-mail inbox with spam and sell my address to still other spammers. Rinse and repeat. The result is that I currently received nearly 300 e-mails a day across four e-mail addresses. No more than ten of them are anything other than promises of low-interest mortgages, cheap life insurance, and bigger breasts/penis in 30 days. And floods of offers to watch Vicki down on the farm... Pournelle and others are right: this insanity will never end until something very painful, very bloody, and very public happens to several of the top ten spammers. I have my filters set so high that e-mail I send from my work account to my home account is usually flagged as spam. Personal e-mails sent to me by friends and relatives end up lost because I don't have time to sort through several hundred offers for cheap Viagra to find them. I guess I have to bite the bullet and create an e-mail "white list" and dump everything else automatically into a special folder that auto-deletes after some reasonable period. I hate to do that; I get a lot of e-mail as a result of my web site and this blog that I enjoy reading.


Nothing really caught my eye when I browsed the net news sites I keep tabs on. Iraq is still the same. Our soldiers are being prevented by the top brass from going in and cleaning house at the sites of the uprisings and instead are "pressuring" the militia groups to surrender. Yea, sure. A guy willing to strap on a bomb belt and blow himself up in order to kill his enemies is real likely to surrender. Anyway, the steady trickle of caskets continues to come home, which neither the military or the Bush White House want you to see. I'm not sure how a picture of flag-draped coffins violates anyone's privacy. There is no way that someone can ID a dead soldier by seeing his closed coffin with a flag draped over it. Bush and Defense both know exactly what the public response will be to pictures of rows of caskets being offloaded at Dover, which is the real issue here; politics, not privacy or respect. It seems that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree: W is looking more and more like a one-term president.

And I need to get back to work.

(Interestingly, I missed the space bar and Blogger's spell check suggested Whitewash in place of WhiteHouse...)

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