Monday, August 29, 2005

I Love My Hometown

If there's one thing more people need, and that both the media and government fear greatly, it's a sense of perspective.

Without straying too far from my point, I'll need to elaborate on that comment before you think I'm joining the Michigan militia or something. Basically, the media and politicians make their living off the general public's lack of perspective. The news outlets sensationalize stories, frequently missing or ignoring the minute details that help make things make a little more sense. Politicians on both sides get elected by making the other guy seem like an almagamation of Stalin (if s/he's a Democrat), or Gengis Khan (if s/he's a Republican) and Emperor Nero.

In reality, the person we elect president, senator, governor or congressman will seldom have a major impact on the day-to-day workings of our lives. You may have noticed that, despite the dire warnings of liberals across the fruited plain, the United States government has NOT become a fascist dictatorship, despite the election of George Bush. And yet, I digress.

One thing that does impact the daily workings of one's life is the weather, most particularly extreme weather, like a hurricane, and this is the reason for my post. I live in Rochester, New York. On a list of major metropolitan areas most likely to be hit by a hurricane, we're just above Omaha and just below Las Vegas. We're not at risk of earthquakes, like Southern California, we don't sit at the foot of an active volcano, like Seattle or Honolulu, we don't get tornadoes, like the Great Plains, wildfires like the Southwest, or any significant risk of flooding, like those who live along the Mississippi River. Sure, we get snowstorms, but in the end, even the greatest snowstorm ends up being an inconvenience and nothing more. Once in a blue moon, we get an ice storm, usually every 10 years or so, that knocks out power for a couple days. That's it.

Of course, a favored pastime for those who live here is to bitch about the weather. "It's cold." "It's rainy." "It's snowing." Hell, I've dropped more obscenities than I can count from getting my car stuck in the snow. But you know what? I'll take that any day of the week and twice on Sunday compared to those poor folks in New Orleans and coastal Mississippi.

According to MSNBC, New Orleans could turn into a refugee camp of 1 million people. That's probably a good example of the sensationalizing of the news; if you read the story, it's pretty clear they looked for the biggest doomsday prophet they could find and interviewed him for the story. Even so, it's obvious that, at minimum, thousands of people will be reduced to owning only that which they could fit in a backpack. I can't even grasp how horrifying that must feel. We have control over most of the things in our daily lives, and almost every difficulty can be either avoided or recovered from. Lose a job? Get a new one and give your old boss the finger. Get divorced? Hell, you're better off without the bitch. But a hurricane blowing your home away? There's not a solitary thing you can do about it except wait it out. You certainly can't prevent it like you often can a lost job (work harder, dummy) or a divorce (pay more attention to your spouse, dummy), and you certainly can't recover so fast.

In fact, most home losses are preventable. Check your electrical wiring and make sure the fireplace is properly vented. (Arson can be prevented by minimizing the number of enemies you make.) There's only one sure way to prevent losing your home to a hurricane...living somewhere else. Like Rochester, NY.

So do me this favor, and help me maintain my own sense of perspective. The next time I start complaining about the crappy weather here, just remind me that the chances of losing my home to a natural disaster are just about nil. I'll thank you for it (eventually).

Best of luck, Crescent City. God be with you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Lesson in Political Science

DEMOCRATIC PARTY
You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. Barbara Streisand sings for you.

REPUBLICAN PARTY
You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?

SOCIALISM
You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

COMMUNISM
You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for hours to get it. It is expensive and sour.

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE
You have two cows.You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE
You have two cows. Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.

AMERICAN CORPORATION
You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.

FRENCH CORPORATION
You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch and drink wine. Life is good.

JAPANESE CORPORATION
You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

GERMAN CORPORATION
You have two cows. You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour. Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

ITALIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows but you don't know where they are. While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman. You break for lunch. Life is good.

RUSSIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows. You have some vodka. You count them and learn you have five cows. You have some more vodka. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

IRAQI CORPORATION
You have two cows. They go into hiding. They send radio tapes of their mooing.

IRISH CORPORATION
You have two cows. The cows start arguing about cow religion and finally kill each other. You get drunk and forget the whole thing. As far as you know, life is good.

POLISH CORPORATION
You have two bulls. Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Your Fall TV Guide

A quick observation: has any actress ever gone from "I'd trade 20 years of my life to nail her" to "you know, if I met her in a bar, there's at least a 50% chance I could take her home" status as fast as Tara Reid?

Every year, the networks unleash a river of drek upon us, and one or two shows will actually go on to become something watchable. Here is your guide to fording that river of drek...

* Ignore anything that comes from CBS. Sure, CSI rules, but aside from that, when was the last time they had an original, good idea? This is the same network that's given Kevin James a show for, like, 9 years running. Don't get me wrong, James seems nice enough. He seems like the kind of guy you could go out, have some beers with, and have a couple laughs. But that's just it; he's not someone that makes you laugh out loud. He's like the friend who makes a lot of so-so jokes, so you give him the courtesy chuckle. That's Kevin James, and CBS has made him a very wealthy man based on those courtesy chuckles. Let's move on.

* "Prison Break" looks good. That's one of two shows I'll probably give a serious shot. But you've got to wonder how they plan to get more than one season out of it. I mean, one assumes the season finale features the main character, you know, breaking out of prison. And if it doesn't, then what's the freakin' point? Then again, FOX has managed to have Jack Bauer save the world on four separate days of his life, so who knows. Anyway, it looks interesting.

* The other show I'm considering is "My Name is Earl". I like Jason Lee. He doesn't quite qualify for the Donald Sutherland Theory (see below), but he's getting close. The premise looks simple but entertaining: slimy redneck does dumb things, and hilarity ensues.

* "Commander in Chief" could easily be the latest and greatest Geena Davis bomb brought to you by ABC. Okay, that's not totally fair; she only had one short-lived TV series with them. But still, these people gave John Belushi's untalented brother a long-running series, so the standards aren't high. I feel bad for her; she's a very good actress, and by most accounts is one of the most intelligent people in Hollywood (I know, I just got done talking about low standards). The problem with this show is the timing. 10 years ago, the idea of a female president was theoretically possible, but far enough off that a TV series about one would be big. But now, there's a good chance we're getting one in three years (I'm about as likely to castrate myself as I am to vote for Hillary, but still, I can't ignore the fact that she's the most likely candidate right now), so what's the big deal? However, it's got the Donald Sutherland Theory going for it, which goes something like this: if Donald Sutherland is in it, it's probably going to be good. This can be applied to a number of other actors too: Robert Duvall, Xander Berkeley (my all-time favorite "That Guy"), Jason Statham...maybe even Jason Lee.

* "E-Ring" could be interesting. Dennis Hopper is more than capable of carrying a show on his back, and when said show involves the Pentagon and national security and other cool stuff, it could be a winner. The best news of all, though is this: Sarah Clarke is co-starring. Sarah, of course, played my all-time favorite TV villain: the late, great Nina Myers. With any luck at all, they'll have a scene where she says to Benjamin Bratt, "I still have information for you" and he responds, "no, you don't", and shoots her in the chest.

* NBC has farted out another Apprentice spinoff, "Apprentice: Martha Stewart". Apparently, Martha is looking for a new designer or some such thing. By most accounts, Martha's a horrible shrew in real life, so with any luck, she'll pull a Nick Saban and make someone start crying on national TV. Personally, I'd rather see a show where she's looking for a new financial advisor. She could interview prospective candidates on their accounting practices, and see how able they are to complete tasks like fudging numbers, defrauding shareholders, lying to investigators, and swapping cigarettes for favors in prison.

* Finally, apparently NBC is trying to grab ABC's rep as the "making dreams come true for a carefully selected few" network. They've got a show called "Three Wishes". Apparently noted God-rocker Amy Grant is going across the country to do nice stuff for the poor, desperate (but heart-warming and telegenic) members of our society. I thought Krusty the Clown's idea was better: "How about a reality show where I move in with a poor family, and make fun of 'em?"

Friday, August 19, 2005

Happy Friday!

For everyone but me, that is. Ah, more painting this weekend. I talked to a guy this morning who said, "my wife won't let me paint. I'm colorblind!"

Lucky jerk.

---

You know it's never a good sign when a news headline says that a political leader "vows" not to resign:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/08/19/governor.convicted.ap/index.html

I mean, really, a sitting governor CONVICTED of misdemeanors? We're not talking about parking tickets, for crying out loud! I shouldn't be shocked, I mean, Marion Barry stayed on after getting busted for crack, but I'd like to think that in a just and fair world, some of these people would try to set, you know, an example. Maybe even a positive one.

---

Everyone screws up at work sometimes. I try to remember this in my own failures. For example, I missed a filing deadline. Oops. This would have cost one of our clients a few thousand dollars. Double oops. For which they surely would have rebilled us. "Um, boss, mind if I make a few copies of my resume on the way out?"

And then I remember a manager at one of my old jobs, who cost the company over one MILLION dollars because of a pricing error. And that was when a million bucks was actually a lot of money to a big company. Then I remember that she went on to supervise others and carve out a fairly successful career, and I feel a lot better.

(Incidentally, everything turned out okay. Turns out our client wasn't penalized, my job remains intact, and my resume un-updated.)

---

My friend Kev is a new father this week, so we're very proud of him. We're even more proud of his wife, seeing as how she did almost all the work.

In any event, my wife and I went to the hospital to visit. I noticed a dramatic difference in how I approach holding a baby and how my wife does. My wife holds the child very naturally, and is absolutely thrilled to do so. I, on the other hand, had to be zapped repeatedly with a cattle prod just to get near the little guy, let alone pick him up. When I did, I was mortally petrified and couldn't hand him off fast enough.

I was later told that this may be a male/female thing. Women almost invariably love to pick up and hold babies. Men, not so much, though I think for differing reasons. Some guys are afraid of having even the most remote connection to fatherhood, while others (and this is the group I fall into) are just scared to death of dropping the kid.

It's funny, but if you hand a guy a football (an object about the same shape and only a little smaller than a newborn baby), and he'll stick it close in his arms, run like hell and never drop it unless he's slammed into by someone really big and fast. But hand a guy a baby and he'll stand there in ashen-faced horror to the point that a stiff breeze could knock him over.

Small wonder, then, that my wife said to me, "just hold him like a football, Phil."

And it worked.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The House, Day 5

I have never been so happy to come into work on a Monday morning as I was today.

We got a lot done this weekend at the house, which was good, but my wife took today off and her parents are over there working as well. "Doggone it", I said, "I just can't get the day off. Too busy. Sorry. I might even be working late."

Saturday was devoted to getting my mom's old couches in the basement. This might seem easy, but not so much. The door frames were a bit narrow, and since the three of us (my wife, myself, and my friend Dave, who was kind enough to bring his truck along for the occasion) were too dumb to figure out that we should take both the back door and the basement door off their hinges, we ended up wedging it through, ripping the top part of the cushion and denting the door. Oops. Fortunately, we planned to slip-cover the couches anyway. DirecTV was also installed, which made the whole weekend worthwhile.

Sunday, however, I busted my ass. We prepped the whole downstairs for painting. Yours Truly got to sand the woodwork. All of it. Baseboards, window frames, chair rails, crown molding, you name it. That's not totally fair, I suppose; my wife did some while I was stripping wallpaper in the master bedroom. For more on this task, see below. Hand-held vibrating sanders are fun...until you lose the feeling in your right hand. That's when I turned to wallpaper stripping for awhile. We also got some caulking and spackling done, and pole sanded the walls. That's where you put a block of sandpaper on a pole and go up and down the walls. Duh.

My hope is that when I go over after work today, the kitchen and dining room will be painted and the living room will be primed. We'll see. Unfortunately, we're in kind of a middle ground with this house, as painting and preparation go. It's not quite move-in-ready enough that we only need to repaint a room or two, but not nearly bad enough to qualify for a reality show on FOX.

---

Cats are a lot smarter than we think. My cat KNOWS something is going on. Every time a couple large objects get moved out of the apartment, she runs and hides somewhere. She's been through three moves with me before, but nothing quite like this. Previously, we'd all take an afternoon, pack up a U-Haul, and go. However, in this case, we're moving gradually, getting things over to the house bit by bit and then saving the large and/or essential items for last. I suppose, eventually, the more stuff we move, the less able she'll be to hide. That should be interesting. Hopefully all this won't frazzle her little walnut-sized brain.

---

On behalf of reasonable people everywhere, I need to make a request. Two, actually. The following practices must cease and desist...

1. Overpumping beer kegs.
2. Painting over wallpaper.

Both caused me consternation this weekend. Saturday afternoon, my wife and I went to a wedding reception out in the sticks. It was a great time. I know this because there were beer kegs, a band and a swimming hole. However, it seems the natural instinct for anyone is to pump the hell out of a keg before pouring a beer. I don't know if this is just practiced by amateur drinkers or if a large segment of the population has a deep-seated urge to give a hand job, but this must stop. (Overpumping, I mean...what you do to your male lover, or yourself, or for non-traditional males, both, is your business.) I am tired of pouring myself a beer and having it come out 80% foam because some damn fool can't be bothered to simply test the tap before pumping it.

The practice of painting over wallpaper might be the most irritating minor thing encountered by the new homeowner. Usually, a little elbow grease and a scraper will take care of this, hence the "minor" designation. But seriously, how lazy do you have to be to say "ah, I don't feel like taking this wallpaper off. Let's just paint over it." That's about 8 man-hours of labor that could have been spent elsewhere if someone had just taken a little bit of pride in their work. It's shoddy workmanship, and it ends up looking like crap. Have some pride, man!

---

We also shopped for TVs Saturday night. We were driving some stuff over to the house that morning, including the little 13" TV/VCR combo that I've had since my sophomore year of college, that currently serves as our secondary TV, when the table we had in the back shifted and smashed through the plastic casing. The TV still works, but is something of a safety hazard now for children, small animals and other brainless living things prone to curiosity, since one can now comfortably fit an entire hand through the side of the TV. After initial consternation, my wife said, "well, I guess we'll have to buy a new TV."

Oh, darn.

I'd love to tell you that I was clever enough to plan this out, but I'm not. If I was scheming that sort of thing, it would have more than likely gone something like this: "honey, I was using a hammer, and accidentally dropped it, and wouldn't you know it, the darn thing went right through the tube."

---

Fortunately, none of this stopped me from watching yesterday's race. God Bless TiVo and/or the DVR. I don't have any idea how I got along without it. From a "glass is half full" perspective, Jeff Gordon's just 67 points out of 10th, and 120 out of 8th. With four races to go, he can very easily make the Chase, and I think he will. If not for lousy luck ("lousy luck" includes an inexcusable brain fart by Chad Knaus), he could have won both of the last two races.

From a "glass is half empty" perspective, he's finished 8th and 14th at two tracks where he was all but penciled in for a top five finish: Indianapolis and Watkins Glen. Now they go to Michigan, where the 24 team hasn't been all that great and Roush Racing (including three guys Gordon could be fighting for the last couple Chase spots) has been dominant.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Is James Bond a Metrosexual?

My friend Bianca told me she reads my blog (Hi, sweetie!), and then said the most awful thing I've ever heard...

"I'm pregnant, you're the father, and I'm going to kill all three of us!"

Wait, that wasn't it. Oh right, here it is...

"James Bond is SUCH a metrosexual!"

Frankly, I'm not sure how that's the case. Okay, he wears expensive clothes. Noted. But he drinks a real martini, not a butterscotch-chocolate-latte-frappe-with-a-pink-umbrella-and-a-kiss-from-a-man martini. And he carries a gun. Usually more than one. And knives and bombs and all sorts of instruments of chaos and mayhem. Plus, he's a badass. British intelligence, SAS trained, Navy Commander, Licensed to Kill, Member of Her Majesty's Secret Service and so on and so forth. If you've got a military rank, that forgives a LOT of metrosexual tendencies, I think.

No, I think I'm on pretty solid ground by calling James Bond the ultimate male.

---

Here's something my bud Alex was nice enough to send along, excerpts from a book called Disorder in the Courts of America. It makes me wonder how some of these people ever got licensed...

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
_____________________________________

ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.
_____________________________________

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan.
______________________________________

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
___________________________________

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty-one.
________________________________________

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Would you repeat the question?
______________________________________

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Uh....
______________________________________

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
WITNESS: None.
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
______________________________________

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
______________________________________

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
______________________________________

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.
______________________________________

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
WITNESS: Oral.
______________________________________

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!
______________________________________

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Huh?
______________________________________

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY Did you check for breathing?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Homeless No More

So my wife and I closed on our house yesterday. Huzzah! Of course, the path of actually getting there made the 6-Party North Korea Nuclear Talks look simple by comparison. But, you know, I can live with complexity. I can live with signing documents I don't even remotely understand. I can live with getting my pants pulled down and reamed in the behind with fees and interest charges. I accept that all these things are part of the territory. What I don't understand is this: why does everything have to get thrown together at the last possible minute?

We have two banks issuing mortgages. Because I'm a moron, to answer your unspoken question. One of them requested a full appraisal on the house. They did this a week before the scheduled close, and a full month after they had requested and received a limited appraisal. You'd think they would have received the limited appraisal and said, "oops, we screwed up, we need something more extensive." No such luck. Apparently, they sat around and decided, at the last possible minute "wait! STOP EVERYTHING! Give us a new appraisal!!!!" We, of course, had one done immediately and had it sent to them, and they assured us that they would have a response in 48 hours. Five days later, they finally signed off, a mere 18 hours before the scheduled closing.

The other bank, with whom we'd had no problems, assured all concerned that they would have their documents finished the night before closing. In counting upon this information, we had asked people to fill in for us at work that morning. Closing time rolled around, and nothing from them. The closing was delayed, inconveniencing our attorney, the seller and her attorney, the mortgage broker's attorney, both our offices, and of course, turning my wife and I into homicidal maniacs. I believe at one point I threatened to don a turban, start bombing banks at random and call myself Phil Qaeda.

Of course, all's well that ends well, but the person who said "it's the journey, not the destination" should be tarred, feathered and castrated.

I've heard many people say, "well, that's just how this goes." My question and that of my similarly wet-behind-the-ears friend Joe, and probably millions of other reasonable and apparently shockingly naive people, is this: WHY? Why does some dipwad paper pusher making $10.00 an hour have to hold hostage the hopes and ambitions of the average homebuyer? I know how these forms get filled out, it's not all that difficult. Enter a name, a price, a rate and check off some relevant and irrelevant forms, and the stupid thing gets printed out. It is not rocket surgery or brain science.

I refuse to believe that the banking industry is SO overburdened with mortgages that this sort of thing must happen at the last possible minute. I'm not asking for brilliant customer service. I'm not asking for some yes-man at the bank to kiss my ass and tells me it tastes like ice cream. I'm not calling anyone up at 3 am, 7 hours before the closing, and asking for an additional $50,000 for home improvements. I'm asking for absolute baseline competence. That's it.

No matter, though. We've got our house, and that's what matters. Now I can look forward to blowing my next few weekends on painting and various projects. But ultimately, it will all pay off.

I can just feel my butt settling into my couch downstairs on a Sunday afternoon....

I can see the Dolphins whipping the Bills pillar to post....

I can taste the best pot of chili I've ever cooked up....

....and I can hear my wife yelling, "Philip, get your ass outside and mow the lawn!!!"

Saturday, August 06, 2005

I Don't Write Enough

I don't. There's no getting around it. I'd love to commit to three posts per week, but it's just not happening lately. Oh well, on with it....

So I'm at Wegmans and have two items to purchase. Therefore, like most sensible people, I begin zeroing in on the "7 Items or Less" lane. One lane has 4 people in it, the other 2. The decision is made. I get in line, and the woman in front of me apparently had a "loose constructionist" policy towards the 7 item limit. I mean, 8 or 9 items are fine. I do that once in awhile and apologize to the cashier for it. But this woman had at least 20 items. I said to her, "you should be ashamed of yourself! You are wasting my time and the time of those around you, including this fine young lass working at the register! Collect your items and get the hell out of line, you illiterate piece of trash!"

Okay, I didn't say that, but I wanted to. Nevertheless, when I'm Czar of the World, the "7 Items or Less" rule will be strictly enforced. And by "strictly enforced", I mean armed Marine guards giving one warning before firing on violators.

---

There is no process so chaotic, I am convinced, as the purchase of a home. Months of careful planning that ultimately lead to a last-minute mad dash to the closing. My favorite part of this whole process is that I was informed "you'll usually be called the day before the closing with information on exactly how much money you have to bring to the table."

"USUALLY?!?" I asked, incredulously.

"Yes, sometimes they tell you the morning of the closing."

This isn't dinner at Mickey D's; we're talking about several thousand dollars that most people, myself included, generally do not keep on hand. There absolutely must be a better way to do things than this.

---

"Taurus: You will never find true happiness. What'cha gonna do, cry about it?
The stars predict that tomorrow you'll wake up, do a bunch of stuff and then go back to sleep."
-- Weird Al Yankovic, "Your Horoscope for Today"

---

This particular ruling is pretty amazing to me. If you don't feel like reading it, here's the gist: a judge threw out a jury's guilty verdict for using the internet to entice a child into sex. The rationale? An undercover agent was posing as an underage child, and the statute requires that the defendant actually entice a child, not a police officer posing as a child.

I mean, I'm all for strict construction of the laws, but that seems to be taking a literal reading of the statute a bit TOO far. If carried to its logical end, any undercover work at all by police would be worthless.

---

I'm starting to care about hockey again. Perhaps not as much as I used to, but I'm following the free agency doings. If the Bruins continue making an honest-to-goodness effort to actually be a winning team (i.e. sign Joe Thornton long-term), I might be back to hockey sooner rather than later. Of course, it's pretty safe to say that NASCAR has pretty much eclipsed the NHL.

---

So how much of a geek am I? Kev and I are in a league together, and he's probably going to end up drafting for me in another league that I'm in. So last night, we did a mock fantasy football draft and talked top-secret draft strategy. So basically, we're doing a preparatory draft for a real draft of an event whose ultimate conclusion is watching other guys play football. I guess it's hard to be much closer to a completely inert life form than that.

Or as someone once said, "ah, football. Some of the best athletes in the world running their asses off while 70,000 fans who could really use the exercise sit and watch."