Tuesday, October 30, 2012

With Apologies to Howard Shultz, et.al.

A couple of weeks ago, my younger daughter and I stuffed her two small kids and their six tons of gear into the car and made the drive to LA for my elder daughter's birthday celebration.

We filled the gas tank at Costco in Scottsdale at a cost of $3.74 per gallon, which I still think is obscene.  By the time we got to LA, the price of regular gas was $4.75 per gallon.  Between wondering what kind of modifyer was appropriate to intensify the word "obscene" to an adequate level and wondering if I'd have to sell one of the grandkids for gas money to get back home,  I received two explanations for why the cost of gas is so much higher in LA.

First, from the EPA; California state law requires a special formula of additives intended to make gas burn cleaner, reducing smog and health problems associated with air pollution.  Summer Blend, it's called.  Sounds so .... Seattle coffee house.  As a result, California is basically a separate gas market from the rest of the country.

Another reputable source indicated multiple refineries are down in California, one due to fire, others due to a chemical build-up in the lines that bring the oil to the refineries. 

I did manage to get back home with all the same kids I went with (and even my right arm and both legs), and returned to Costco for more gas.  There was a very long tanker filling the station's reservoirs.  The tanker was from California. Where the refineries are unable to produce adequate supplies for Californians but have apparently have enough to export to Arizona.  Maybe it's a weird tourism campaign.

I left Costco scratching my head and a few blocks later wove my way around an overflowing drive-up lane at Starbucks.  I wondered how much gas, at $3.74 per gallon was being burned sitting in line to buy $13 per gallon coffee (that to me, tastes as bad as gas).


Monday, October 29, 2012

Will The Real David Stern Please Stand Up

February 1, 1984, the telephone at my office and my home in Seattle rang off the hook.  The radio stations announced that morning David Stern had been chosen as the new Commissioner of the NBA.  As of that date I had been associated with the Seattle Supersonics for 16 years as owner of the team's ad agency.  So, it wasn't all that absurd for people to assume I was the new top dog. At the time, I wrote the new commissioner, thanking him for all the notoriety. 
For the record, my name has been David Stern for five years and 113 days longer than the actual NBA guy. 
A few years later when I moved to Scottsdale, new friends asked me to use my name to reserve tee times and restaurant seating.  I declined, but one guy was insistent.  "You mean you can't drop your own name?"
After Robert Horry of the San Antonio Spurs flagrantly fouled Phoenix Sun Steve Nash during the 2007 Championship Playoffs, that David Stern suspended Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw for jumping off the bench (even though the Suns coaching staff prevented them from stomping Horry into the boards).
This David Stern got calls wanting to know if I'd like to keep Jimmy Hoffa company, and others with rage-filled (although not especially creative) expletives.  Suns loyalist that I had become, I considered calling that David Stern and offering to occupy his seats for him for the 5th game of the playoffs in Phoenix.
Since the NBA commissioner announced his impending retirement I have been inundated with a variety of unsolicited offers;  retirement community living, management positions within the AARP sports league, free samples from Centrum Silver, Depends and Poligrip, a two-for-one discount offer from Krazy Karl's Katarakt Kutterz (Rove really has too much time on his hands these days), and ominously, a chance to win Free Cremation Services from the Neptune Society.
I've been forwarding everything to NBA headquarters because my boss, Mean Eileen, says I don't qualify for pension benefits until 2024 (coincidentally the same year those Free Cremation Services kick in).

Friday, October 26, 2012

En Garde Monsieur Soleil! (things I wish I could say)

Watching the news reports about the impending “Frankenstorm” on the east coast, I find myself feeling a little envious.  We, in the land of relentless sunshine, get all excited if it just clouds up. 
I know watching it on tv is not the same as watching it thru the void that used to be your roof, and I should be careful what I wish for…but still, is it too much to ask that a good soaking finds its way to us?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Where's Roseanne Roseannadanna When You Need Her?

We need more bayonets in debates and de army.  But hoses?

After watching  Monday’s debate on TV,  it occurred to me that while technology has improved some things, like battle armaments, you can’t spread peanut butter with a Patriot Missile (well, not with any precision).    That got me thinking about a little book I have in my collection of military memorabilia, the Manual of Bayonet Exercises, dated 1907. 
There are various tips on how to fight with your bayonet, both attached and separate from your rifle, tips on how to fight an opponent who is mounted on a horse, along with offensive and defensive techniques.   It describes a bayonet as a cutting and thrusting weapon.  It doesn’t say anything about spreading peanut butter, or even cutting the crusts off your sandwiches, but it stands to reason that those tasks could be accomplished.

it slices, it dices, it juliennes
Despite the advances in arms technology, there are still combat situations that require a bit more precision, and a multi-tasking tool like a bayonet seems extremely practical.  Of course you’d want to have some sort of portable cleaning product (maybe a packet of Chlorox Wipes) so you could clean opponent’s guts off the blade before engaging in any culinary endeavors.

The last paragraph in the manual reads like the advice President Obama must have taken to heart before the debate;

To sum up; Keep cool; study your adversary and try to discover his game; watch for opportunities and make instant use of them.  If you know the adversary’s game, take advantage of it; if not, make him play yours.

Clearly the president has the same book.  
But I have to agree with him about the lack of need for hoses.  What the heck do you need hoses for in combat?   What?  Horses? 
Never mind.


Farewell to a kindred spirit

In 1972 Senator George McGovern was the Democratic Candidate for President. He ran against President Richard Nixon. The economy was under water (kinda like today). The political gurus said the South Dakota Senator had no chance.
McGovern said if elected President he would stimulate the economy by giving every man, woman and child in America $1,000. I immediately thought of Robin Hood (stealing from the rich to give to the poor) and used part of my expected $1,000 to create a poster titled “Robin McGovern alias George Hood.”

The poster ended up in Time Magazine and I received a call from McGovern’s Administrative Assistant, asking if the Senator could get one. I sent six with the agreement that McGovern would autograph three and send those back to me.
Defeated by Nixon, McGovern returned to the Senate and pressed there to end the Vietnam war while championing agriculture, anti-hunger and food stamp programs in the United States and food programs abroad. He won re-election to the Senate in 1974, by which point he could make wry jokes about his presidential defeat.

"For many years," he once told guests at a formal press dinner in Washington, DC, "I wanted to run for the presidency in the worst possible way ... and last year, I sure did."

George McGovern ran for President three times. He was a good and honest public servant and a strong advocate for human rights. He died last Sunday. I will light a candle for him.

Monday, October 22, 2012

US Military Honor Flight Network

I learned recently about a wonderful organization called the Honor Flight Network.  The purpose of the organization is to honor US Military veterans with an all-expense paid flight from their home states to tour the veterans’ memorials in Washington DC.    The program is open to anyone who has served in the military, but priority is given to WWII veterans and those from other wars with terminal illnesses.  The flights operate on chartered commercial jets and are organized to accomodate veterans in wheelchairs and those who may require medical or other assistance.
My friend, Sid Felix, is among those veterans being honored this week on the Honor Flight from Arizona.  As I read more about the organization and its many hubs across the US, I can’t think of a better candidate for this trip.  In addition to serving his country in WWII, Sid is a stellar human being in his civilian life and I am very glad this opportunity was made available to him. 
The Honor Flight Organization receives no government funding – it operates through donations from individuals and businesses, and thru the work of volunteers.  It is a 501C(3) non-profit organization, and again, there is NO charge to the veterans.  There are excellent websites that detail the organization, how to participate, and how to support the programs.  There are a couple of blogs that describe the trip from the perspective of the “Guardians” – the volunteers assigned to each veteran to assist in whatever capacity is needed.

I encourage everyone to take a look at these websites and get involved.   

Friday, October 19, 2012

Innovative Ways To Support Obama

This was emailed to me ... don't know the original author, but I love it!

Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting. Well, for example, the other day, Kate, my wife and I went into town and visited a shop.

When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. We went up to him and I said, 'Come on, man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?'

He ignored us and continued writing the ticket.

I called him an "asshole." He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn-out tires.

So Kate called him a "shithead." He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first.

Then he started writing more tickets. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

Just then our bus arrived, and we got on it and went home.

We always look for cars with "ROMNEY/RYAN 2012" stickers.

We try to have a little fun each day now that we're retired. It's important at our age.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Birth of and Death of a Flog, by Mean Eileen, Editing Queen

September 2010

When David Stern was first asked to write a Blog, he wasn’t sure if “go write a Blog” was a trendy alter-colloquialism for “take a hike” (or something else that was anatomically impossible).   But being a calm and mostly rational person, he pushed back his initial brawl impulse and instead went directly to Wikipedia, not passing “go” or collecting $200. 
“A blog,” he reported to me, “is a portmanteau.”
“Port Manteau … is that in the Caribbean?”  Visions of white sandy beaches and clear blue/green water invaded my mind, pushing David’s linguistics lesson completely out.  I had conjured up steel drums and could almost smell salty air when David abruptly brought me back to hot, dry, Scottsdale in September reality.  For those of you not familiar – September is the most miserable month in Scottsdale.  Everyone is sick of the heat which will continue on at least another month and it seems like everywhere else on the planet is experiencing cooling days and even cooler nights.  But I digress.
Sullenly, I refocused on what David was saying.  He explained that a portmanteau is a combination of words that creates a new word. 
“Like Brangelina?”
Impatiently he huffed, “Like web and log – drop the we in web and add the b to log.  Get it?  Time is my mortal enemy,” he continued.  “If I become a prolific blogger, I’m going to have to give up some other activity.”
I pointed out he was writing a book about giving up golf and he shrieked, “THAT’S IT!!!  Golf is too damn hard anyway.  As of this moment, I am an ex-golfer and a newly hatched Blogger.  But I’m going to create my own portmanteau …replace the b on blog with an f and wha-lah!  Flog.”
“Flog,” I repeated.  “Flog means to beat or whip severely.”
David smirked and said, “Flog” is Golf spelled backward.  And can there really be too many F-words?”
Fast forward to October 2012
“How long have I been writing my Flog?” David asked.  “And does anybody read it?”
“You’ve been writing the Flog for two years and yes, people read it.  I can tell by the number of hits the webpage gets."
David pondered this info.  “Hits.  Any runs or errors?”  I decided to let that go.
I recently Googled “the Flog” and was surprised to see that in addition to David’s cleverly titled (by me) Flog entries, there were several others using  The Flog. 
There is Felicia Day’s video blog (vlog) on geekandsundry.com.   I couldn’t determine how long she has been using “the Flog” but I assume she has no life other than to obsessively check David’s Flog and got hung up on the name.  Okay, no life other than the acting, writing, producing, cancer-curing, puppy rescuing, etc. etc.  Still, won’t she be surprised when she reads this. 
Another more amazing Google find, was Chris Fabry’s Flog.  Now, Chris Fabry has some sort of clairvoyance because he started using David’s blog title two years before David even thought of it. Chris Fabry is an author and radio show host, has nine kids and lives in Tucson.
This is extremely unfortunate because David is now on a quest for a new blog title.  I think David is worried that if it comes down to fisticuffs over exclusive rights to The Flog, the Fabry family outnumbers his own significantly (although I’m pretty sure Izzy and Kaz could kick some serious bootay).  I personally like The Flog and think he should stay with it.  In his wiki-search for enlightenment on the subject of blogs, he discovered a confusing word; disambiguation.  It’s a term Wikipedia coined which means clarification. Why they didn’t use clarification I don’t know – David suggests the Wiki-folk are just being undisambiguous.  
So David will continue testing out new blog names – mostly because he doesn’t want a title others are using and he really wants to use his new portmanteau-ish word, undisambiguouslessly when he describes the reason for the new Flog – uh- Blog (clog, schlog, polliwog, etc.).  I guess he could apply it to his consideration of becoming an ex-ex-golfer.
Stay tuned.  Except for you, Felicia Day – shouldn’t you be drafting schematics for an eco-friendly space travel conveyance or something?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Illegitimi non carborundum

 avian blues
this bird is totally plucked
By now, everyone in the country is all a-twitter (and a-facebooked, and a-linkedin, etc.) about the big flap over Mitt Romney's stated deficit reduction plan as well as President Obama's subsequent campaign nest feathering (responsibly recycling materials left in the wake of a flightless yellow fellow who suddenly found himself contemplating forced migration).
The poor sweet guy who's job up to now has been to chirp the extraordinarily obvious for the enchantment of the much-wiser-than-he preschool viewers is now facing suspicious glares from the Tea-Partiers who think PBS stands for Propaganda By Socialists. 
And of course the "mainstream liberal media" puppeteered by the All Powerful Hope-and-Change-ful One is gleefully waiting to exploit Sesame Street's favorite formerly feathered 
And all this time he thought right-wing and left-wing referred to body parts. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Little Quinquagenarian

My daughter is officially two-thirds my age today.  She recently received an AARP membership application and commented that such things as AARP memberships were making the actual number harder to deny. 

I don’t know why she’d want to deny it, being two-thirds my age doesn’t seem all that bad to me.  

another birthday that started with 5
Two-Thirds has been an extraordinary elementary school teacher for the past two decades, so I imagine she has developed one heckuva lethal stare which can not only silence a chatty third-grader during a test, but can also silently communicate make my day … I haven’t eviscerated anyone since ten this morning to any helpful sales people who might otherwise dare to offer her a senior discount.

She can always claim AARP is an acronym for something else…

                Apple Addicts Rehab Patient
                Am Acting Really Persnippity

Okay … it’s harder than I thought to find something else that works with AARP … but Two-Thirds is a clever girl, she’ll think of something.

She needn’t really concern herself though – she is a bright, wonderful, engaging being, and she is ageless to those fortunate to interact with her.
Happy Birthday Two-Thirds!
Love you infinitely,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Politricks 101: Dirt, Water and a Catapult

I’m watching CNN this morning and the news is interrupted with a negative commercial aired by Jeff Flake, the “R” campaigning for US Senate to replace Senator John Kyle.  Flake is running against the “D,” former Surgeon General, Richard Carmona.
            JEFF FLAKE:              I’m Jeff Flake, and I approved this message.
VOICE OVER:          
Richard Carmona talks a lot about his bio.
But what’s missing?
VO:                           Carmona's bio doesn't say while he ran the Pima County Health System,
                                             their debt
 ran up to $46 million.
            VO:                          A jump of 28% in one year.
Immediately following this commercial, a new commercial for Carmona airs and begins with “I’m Richard Carmona and I approve of this message.”  The rest of his commercial doesn’t really matter, because to anyone listening, Carmona just approved the negative ad paid for by his opponent.
I blame John McCain and Russ Finegold.  In 2002 the two sponsored the “Stand By Your Ad” provision (SBYA) of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), requiring candidates for federal political office, as well as special interest groups and political parties supporting or opposing a candidate, to include in political advertisements on TV and radio a statement by the candidate that identifies the candidate and states that he/she/it approves the communication.
McCain and Finegold had a good idea, but erred in not requiring the disclaimer be at the end of the commercial or at least requiring stations to give adequate separation to political commercials. 
 Ganging” is what we called it in the old days.  Not to be confused with Gangnam (which is different horse entirely). 
Of course it’s entirely possible that McCain and Finegold misguidedly thought future candidates would have the sense to find out what commercials would air before and after their own (or maybe someone on Flake’s campaign staff discovered who to tip to ensure commercial placement).
In Arizona, the race between Flake and Carmona is as hot as the weather, well financed on both sides, and NEGATIVE.  But Flake won the primary over Wil Cardon, whose family owns a whole lot of Subways, Dunkin’Donuts and oil wells.  Cardon spent more than $6 million of his own money, much of it on negative ads.  The votes Cardon received cost a record $25 each (proving negative ads don’t always work). 
National Democrats have so far dedicated more than a million dollars to Carmona’s coffers.  National Republicans have countered with a contribution of $570,000 earmarked for a commercial that says Carmona is “handpicked by Obama.”  It seems like a waste of advertising dollars, because “handpicked by Obama” is unlikely to have any sway on voters who already oppose Obama, and it might give Obama supporters the reason they need to vote for Carmona.
Still, as far as mudslinging goes, it's on the lite side ... so far.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Reince Priebus is not a European public transit conveyance … but he does drive people (away)

Mean Eileen is responsible for the content of this FLOG (and she approves of this message, but won't know if David does until he works his way out of the duct tape).

The day after the first televised presidential nap – uh – debate of 2012, I brought David a letter I’d received from Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Party, indicating I had been selected to represent voters in the OFFICAL 2012 Presidential Platform Survey.  By the way, I am a registered Democrat.  But, I dont limit myself to party affiliation,  I tend to vote for whichever candidate is likely to do the least damage.

David read the letter and the survey and could not stop laughing long enough to prevent me from taking over the FLOG.

I deleted the first few sentences he had composed ... something about banning the St. Louis Cardinals from playing in any future wild card games ... and proceded to FLOG away.

The yes/no and agree/disagree/unsure “survey” began innocuously enough – demographic info and questions like Do you believe Barack Obama has used the presidency and powers of his office to look out for the concerns and interests of Americans like you?
Then the questions become more the variety of Do you support Obama’s plan to decapitate 11 billion American babies and use their tiny skulls as candle holders in the White House Rose Garden where he hosts fundraisers for Al Qaeda?  

Some of the questions are fair … but all are posed in a manner that leaves no room for qualification; Do you believe Obama’s policies have helped create good jobs and improved the economy in your area? The question not asked is Do you think Mitt Romney will do a better job?
In fact, the only place Mitt Romney’s name appears on the  survey is in a section marked Support Reply Form where one has three choices; Participate with a Donation to Elect Mitt Romney, Don’t Participate but donate to Mitt Romney, and Don’t Participate but donate to Mitt Romney.  Yes, you read that right.

The survey and accompanying Chicken-Little-the-sky-is-falling letter is embarrassing to the Republican party … except those who are apparently curled in a fetal position churning out surveys in their bomb shelters because they know it’s only a matter of time before that BLACK MUSLIM TERRORIST Obama tries to destroy their homes, brainwash their progeny and ban Murder She Wrote reruns from the airwaves.
Maybe Reince Priebus is on the Democrat payroll.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Sister, Sue Ellen Katz, Makes Faces

She's really my sister-in-law but I've always felt the term "in-law" has a slightly negative connotation - like "outlaw" - and there is nothing negative about Sue Ellen.  She has always been and will always be sensational at everything she does (and she's done everything). 

Her artistic endeavors have always been my favorite.  She has created stunning beadwork for years but on one of her recent annual birthdays (yes, she acknowledges them every year) she changed the B in Beader for an H, becoming a Header.   Not as in shrink, cannabis addict, or soccer player, but as in sculptor of heads.  Little ones.  To hone her craft she committed to creating a head-a-day for 365 consecutive days - and she did it. 
Inspired by her commitment and success, I vowed on my recent fifty-seventh (I'm lisdexic) birthday to honor my favorite, one and only sister on her fifty-twelfth birthday by dedicating the FLOG to Sue Ellen and all of her heads.
Happy Birthday Sue Ellen!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Perhaps if the Candidates were attached to electric shock devices...

Seven senatorial debates in Illinois in 1858 were far more civil than the Civil War.  Unfortunately the current FEC didn't learn anything from them.  Lawyer and former Whig Party member, Abe Lincoln, had jumped to the newly formed Republican Party and challenged incumbent Illinois Senator Steve A. Douglas (not Melvyn Douglas as many believe).  

Incidentally the job Lincoln and Douglas were vying for is the very one that Barack Obama filled from 2004 until he won the Presidency in 2008.  You know, the one Blagojevich found so shiny (!*^%#%!!-golden!).  So shiny the glare (and perhaps his hairdo squeezing his brain) resulted in Blago cashing in that senate seat and his own gubernatorial throne for a new position - scullery maid at the Federal Correctional Institute Englewood in Littleton, Colorado (not far from last night's "debate" between Romney and Obama).

The Lincoln-Douglas debate format was simple.  No moderators, newscasters, radio, reality TV producers or social media.  They were local debates but with apparent prominence (15,000 people showed up for the first debate held in a town with a population of 5,000).  I guess that shows there was some kind of social media in 1858.

Lincoln and Douglas were both lawyers (Douglas, a judge) and both were great orators.  The prominent issue of the day was slavery, although it's reasonable to assume there were problems with the economy, immigration and unemployment.  Douglas won the senate seat, but two years later, Lincoln won the presidency. 

Now, 154 years after Lincoln and Douglas elegantly duked it out, Romney and Obama rolled up their sleeves and proceeded to spew large but apparently random numbers, grandiose vague plans, and nasty accusations at each other.  I doubt any voter who was looking for enlightenment came away with anything but a resolve to write in Jimmy Buffett. 

Moderator Jim Leher didn't help the situation any ... I kept getting an image of Nell from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons, tied to the railroad tracks with a giant locomotive speeding her way.  Leher is undoubtedly rethinking "semi-retired" this morning.  Who knew presidential candidates would display such bad manners?  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha :)

My own interest in politics was engendered by osmosis.  I attended Seward Elementary School (where I was taught how to purchase large bodies of oil and gold rich land for bargain prices), Hamilton Junior High School (where I learned to duel), Lincoln High School (where I learned honesty and to stay out of theatres), and the University of Washington (where I learned to skip quarters over the Delaware River while authoritatively standing in a boat). 

Lincoln was the last Republican candidate worth voting for.  Although Romney's hair did look nice last night.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Tober-Tird, Two Tousand Twelve

This is my cousin, Douglas MacArthur Greenwald.  His father, Hank Greenwald, was a disciple of the great general who famously said, "Old baseball announcers never die, they just get ... older." Or something like that.

Doug was born in Austrailia, October 3, 1974.   A few years later in 1977, Doug was conducting one of his first interviews (of me) and I asked him when his birthday was.  He replied, "Tober-Tird" and I have remembered and acknowledged that for the 35 years since.

Happy Birthday, Doug!

The Giants supplied Doug with a great tirdy-eighth birthday gift ... a division pennant and at least one more week of baseball!