Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Personal Bucket List

I often think of things I want to do before my personal 24-second shot clock expires, but usually I don't have pen and paper in hand to jot down these incredibly important tasks. So I'll use my flawed memory to present these, and also give probabilities of them happening.

1. Touch the Stanley Cup. No other piece of sports metal carries such impact and importance. Most hockey players refuse to touch it until and unless their team wins the thing. Probability of fulfillment? Less than 1%. It would pretty much require the Dallas Stars to win their second NHL championship, and the way their fortunes are going, it might take more years than I have left.

2. Fly in the Concorde. The Concorde is the most elegant aircraft ever and the fastest commercial jetliner ever built. Probability of fulfillment? Zero. About three years ago, British Airways retired their fleet, succumbing to the extraordinary fuel costs and pressure from environmentalists. If only I had ponied up the several thousand dollars to buy a one-way ticket back in the '90's. There are a few of the birds preserved for the public to see and visit, and maybe I'll at least get to touch one.

3. Live next door to a busy railroad track. There is still a lot of little boy still left in this arthritic old man. I would love it, even to the point of ignoring the hassle of being awakened repeatedly in the middle of the night. Sure, the train whistle can jar you from slumber...but the clickety-clack will immediately lull you back to sleep. Probability of fulfillment? Zero. I am going to try to avoid moving again in the time I have left on this planet. I'm gonna leave the job of cleaning out the attic to our kids.

4. Live next door to a busy airport. No big surprise there. Probability of fulfillment: um, zero. Carole would probably leave me over #3 and surely leave me over this one.

5. Meet Claudine Longet. I have already written in the past about my fascination with the former Mrs. Andy Williams. But since I'm already in trouble with my wife, I shall not push what little luck I have left. Probability of fulfillment: less than zero.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Sleeping Giant Finally Awakes

It's easy to be swept away by glitz. Folks buy cars all the time that they shouldn't have fallen in love with but couldn't help it. The paint was too shiny, the accessories too tempting, the ride too smooth, and next thing you know, those well-meaning folks are saddled with debt and have buyer's remorse.

A lot of Americans were swept off their feet by Obama...a guy who is well-spoken, looks sharp, has a winning smile, and generally fulfilled everyone's long-time vision for our first African-American president. His campaign promises, hope and change, sounded good and enough folks bought the ideas that Obama was swept into office. Now, however, the shine is off. A year has passed and the country officially has buyer's remorse.

Scott Brown's victory in our most Democratic state is exhibit A that America has finally seen through the glitz. Several Democratic politicians have gotten the message and today offered up conciliatory remarks, talking about the party needing to move more to the middle and away from the extreme left. But Obama may be the most arrogant human on the planet. He still feels that his personna is enough to sway folks to do what they don't want to do. But the people don't agree.

This is the great thing about America. Our democratic process allows people to effect change without resorting to coups or assassinations. On Tuesday, the shock-wave of change rippled all the way to the Oval Office without anyone firing a gun or storming a palace. Mistakes get corrected and politicians get the message without physical least some of them do.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pat Robertson and Haiti

We are all aware now of Pat Robertson's comments on Haiti and the earthquake and about how it was the result of a pact with the devil. This is wrong on so many levels.

First, the timing is horrendous. Now is not the time to pontificate. As someone wrote, you don't sit by the bedside of a friend dying of lung cancer and remind him that he shouldn't have smoked. This is the height of poor taste.

Secondly, his theology is suspect. I haven't found anything in the New Testament that alludes to God acting in such a punitive matter on innocent people. There are passages indicating that He disciplines His people when necessary, but nothing about wholesale, massive, indiscriminatory natural disasters as tools of retribution.

Each time Robertson does this, he undermines the hard work of Christians who take it upon themselves to administer love to those in need. For those looking for a reason, any reason, to belittle Christianity, he gives them years' worth of material. God wants His people to be giving cups of water, figuratively, to the less fortunate (Matt. 10:42). Millions take that task to heart every day, and thousands will be involved in helping those in Haiti. These folks are the salt of the earth - totally unselfish folks looking to do what they can without any publicity or accolades.

Robertson's influence, whatever it may be, would have been much better utilized had he spread the word about how to donate to the Red Cross or, even better, organized a group led by himself to go to Haiti and render real assistance.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Wind Chill - Baloney

We've had quite a weather week here in north Texas, as have most of the denizens of the U.S. who live east of the Rockies. One particular morning, the temp was in the upper teens and the wind was gusting 30+ mph. That would put the wind chill at around minus 5.

But I have serious issues with this whole wind chill thing. The NWS says it's based on how the cold feels to a human face five feet up on a cloudy day or at night. It sounds very subjective to me but they say it's based on some "heat transfer" formulation.

Here's my beef. I think nearly everyone would much rather experience a calm, cloudy day when it's minus 5 than a very windy day in the mid-teens. The wind has a way of penetrating all those layers the experts tell us to wear. After it digs through all that fabric, it takes aim for nerves buried deep under the skin. There's a reason why "bone-chilling" is a common phrase during winter.

The coldest temp I've ever experienced was minus 1 F. It hurt not a bit. Now the sun was out, but there was no wind. In fact, I found the air rather invigorating. I would much rather have been in those circumstances, even had it been cloudy, than to have a windy, 20-degree day.

So the experts need to get away from their desks and step outside the next windy winter day. My hunch is that they will rush back inside and re-do the revered wind chill chart. And the next time the forecast calls for, say, 15 degrees with 30 mph winds, and they say the wind chill is minus 5, feel free to join me in hollering out, "B-b-b-b-b-baloney"!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Through a Glass, Darkly

With each new day and each new problem, Obama proves that he's looking at things through a different prism than most in the country. This is not surprising since he has been pals with radicals and Rev. Wright for so long.

The latest blunder is, of course, related to the "underwear bomber", a real wonderful fellow who wanted to take hundreds down with him in a futile attempt to get to those waiting virgins. The Obama administration has opted to treat this fellow as a regular criminal off the streets rather than a terrorist. This is hardly surprising since "terrorist" is not a word used by those close to the president. This jihadist was "mirandized" and any significant info he could have passed on will now be lost forever.

A Rasmussen poll shows the vast majority of Americans want this guy turned over to military authorities. They also want to see water-boarding and any other "enhanced" interrogation techniques used to get him yapping. See, Americans understand this situation for what it really is - war. Radical Islamists are out to destroy the country. Therefore, we should use whatever means necessary to protect and defend our country. But Obama, I guess, sees all this as a big misunderstanding. If we saw things his way, we'd be bowing to various potentates and eliminating "jihad" from our conversations, too.

The Islamists are dropping major hints that they have only just begun this fight. Most patriots got the message on 9/11. The situation now is, will we continue to be fortunate enough to have passengers leap over seats and subdue the enemy, or will we have our head down in a magazine and miss the hints? We certainly can't count on Obama to be alert and vigilant. Whose side is he on, anyway?