Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I am posting a bit later than usual, but my schedule is also a bit more confusing of late and doesn't promise to get better soon. In fact, I will be leaving the country next week (no, not at the request of the government, nor just ahead of their hot pursuit). I will endeavor to keep up my efforts and if you are lucky, I may include some pictures from warmer parts of the world. Meanwhile, please accept my apologies for the delay, as well as for the effort. I have been disconnected from the target-rich environment that is Toledo, and have had little time for editing (something that my writing requires a great deal of). These days, it seems that I am often confronted by representatives of organizations that seem to think that my life would be much more fulfilled if I purchased something from them. (I suspect that it is their own lives that they are more concerned about, but never mind that.) Now having been in sales and marketing for most of what has laughingly been called my career, I can't help but be amused and disappointed by most of this. Amused, because their efforts and and motives are so transparent. Disappointed because these same efforts do not serve what I consider to be a noble purpose.Yes, you heard that right. Selling can be a noble calling and the effort can be fulfilling when it is done properly. In order to determine what that purpose is, let's define the two types of salespeople.
  1. Peddlers: Everything that's bad about selling falls under this category. Every bad story that you've ever heard about selling about used cars, home siding, or vacuum cleaners can be laid at the feet of this group individuals. These are the fast-talking, fast-moving types that have a prepared script that that they need to get out before you close the door or hang up the phone on them. They don't care if you really need the product, want to buy it, or can even afford it. Their goal is to scare and confuse you into the purchase of a product before you can take the time to properly think things through. It is their job to "ask for a close" (get the order) at every opportunity and not to let go of you until they make the sale. The fear is that if you get out of their sight or the sound of their voice, reason and logic might take hold and you would delay or even refuse purchase of their goods or services. They are gnats and mosquitoes whose persistent buzzing drives most to a form of madness that unfortunately often ends with your name on a contract. Once the sale has been made and money is exchanged, you will never see them again (which may be the reason that many of us sign). They collect their commission and are off to buzz around their next potential victim.
  2. Salespeople: These are the people who understand that true selling involves no selling at all. It consists entirely of learning all that you can about a potential customer and the way that they do what they do, explaining the potentials of your own organization along the way. If the fit is a good one, your job then becomes removing anything that would get in the way of that customer buying something from you. The task is not to convince anyone to do anything, but instead to allow them to make an informed decision which is good for their organization. When a sale comes (if it does), the relationship doesn't end; but in fact truly begins, and a partnership is born. Now partnerships like the one formed in this way are bound to present challenges as the process goes along. Those challenges can be faced and dealt with early in the game, more painfully as time goes on, or with anger, frustration, and misery if left to fester until the end of a project. The salesperson 's job is therefore to see that they are identified and resolved as quickly as possible, and to everyone's satisfaction. Additionally, the true salesperson realizes that they have become their customer's advocate with their own company, fighting as hard to make the deal right for their customer after the order as they fought to get the order in the first place. Is there money to be made in this process, of course. Anyone in sales that tells you that they are not a "greedy bastard" is either lying or a fool. This is not the primary motivation for the sales person in the process though. The real reason for the true salesperson is to compete (and hopefully to win), but always to see the job done right. The money is the simply only way that anyone can keep score. (The fact that scoring well can significantly affect the lifestyle of the seller means nothing ... yeah right.)
So take this as fair warning, both those of you are companies building a sales and marketing department and those of you out there with your order books in hand. Many of us out here are forewarned as to your methods and tricks. Attempt to work your wiles on us and we will treat you like the illegitimate, red-haired, stepchild that you deserve to be (no offense to any of those groups intended). Treat us with respect and you might have a chance. If you want to do business with us, learn who we are, learn about what we do, and learn what serves the interest of the people who pay our salaries. Don't try to impress us with a free lunch or a shirt, impress us with being there when we need you. Your livelihood will ultimately depend on it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Writing, & Why I Do It

I occasionally had cause to wonder why I write the postings for this blog. (I am sure that many of you out there, having read one or more of these postings, have cause to wonder why I am allowed to. ) Oh sure, it's fun to do it, and every now and again I even manage to string a few words together intelligently (ususally by accident); but it sometimes seemed to me that there had to be more than that.  

Don't get me wrong here, I have no pretensions about the stuff that comes out of my head and onto these pages (apprehensions yes, pretensions no). I recognize that the nonsense that I put forth has more to do with Tom Arnold than Thomas Jefferson (and I don't even like Tom Arnold). I am not crusading for a better and smaller government, more freedom, or to protect the common man in this blog (at least not so you are supposed to be noticing). There are better and smarter people doing that in the blogging world already, and I do not place myself in their class. No, I would have to say that there is more Play-do than Plato in the what I put down on these postings. Hell, maybe I am the court jester or comic relief for their efforts, which really wouldn't be so bad a gig.

As I often do when confused on an issue, I looked at some of the quotes that I have collected over time. There is often great wisdom to be found in the words of wit from writers far greater than me:  

The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything – Walter  

It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no real talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous. - Robert Benchley

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it. – Leo Rosten  

Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard. - Daphne dy Maurier  

A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor. - Ring Lardner  

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. - Thomas Mann  

... and my favorite  

Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good. - Samuel Johnson  

These are all true, somewhat relevant (and occasionally funny), but of no real help in seeking the answer to my quest however. So I turned to my fellow bloggers, hoping that they might have some answer or insight that I might wrap my head around. The closest that I was able to come up with came from Hooda claims that he writes because the voices in his head make him. 

While I have to say that this concept scares the living crap out of me, I find unfortunately, that I can relate to it. I have written in one form or another since I was a kid, and during the periods of my life when I was not writing felt somewhat lost and disconnected. I guess that for some people, there just seems to be something that forces them to create things. They don't have to be good, but they do have to provide a sense of satisfaction when they are completed.

As for where it all comes from, I like the way that Harlan Coben put it in his book "Just One Look", that we often bore ourselves "... to the point where inspiration must emerge if only to preserve your sanity". (Oh sure, it's too late in my case, but there might be hope for others.) So maybe in the end, I have the City of Toledo to credit for the amount of writing that I am doing these days. Maybe if I lived in a more exciting place, or had a more exciting life, no inspiration would be forthcoming and little in the way of writing would be accomplished.  

Then again, it's more likely that living in this target-rich environment and being who I am, putting all of this on paper helps me to keep a healthy sense of the ridiculous in life.

For myself, I have a more important reason that will force me to continue to make these efforts now. You see my father past away this last week, right before Thanksgiving. He had been ill for some time, but managed to hang on until my son and I made it out to Kansas City for the holiday. One of the things that he really enjoyed in these last months were my efforts, and the last picture that I have of him is one where he is sitting in front of the computer, catching up on the postings for this blog site. I think that he was relieved to discover that his son could string words together coherently if he was going to do so in public. I think that he also got a chuckle over the perspective that I took on various subjects. So I will go on now, knowing that the one reason that I continue to write, if for no other, will be that it will give him a continued source of amusement.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I am putting what would normally be my mid-week posting out early, much as I did over the weekend. Travel and family will soon become a major part of my time, and I wanted to share this one with you in time for the Holiday. 

Well here we go again. Having destroyed the concept of Christmas both as a religious holiday and simply a festive occasion celebrated in mid-winter, the social progressives have set their sights on Thanksgiving (or so it would seem in Seattle). The Seattle school district sent out the third of its annual letters on November 14th this year, warning school administrators to be careful in how they observed this holiday. 

It appears that Thanksgiving is actually a time of mourning for many Native American people, and that the use of feathers and other items which Native American people hold sacred to their religious practices is something that we all need to be aware of and sensitive to. Some time not long ago, and apparently with little or no notice, Thanksgiving became a holiday which celebrates white, Christian settlers bringing disease to this continent while taking land from the native Americans who were simply attempting to live their lives in peace and harmony with nature. (Damn, I hate it when I don't get the memo on these things.)  

Obviously, this would make the holiday offensive to those Native American peoples, and the use of their religious symbols in its celebration doubly offensive. Seattle in fact, is so concerned that they reference a Native American website in this letter that says that for many Native American people, Thanksgiving is a reminder of 500 years of betrayal. 

I have to tell you people, this is putting right off of my anticipated 2nd helping of turkey and dressing (OK 3rd, but who's counting). I believe that we should be sensitive to the feelings of others in every aspect of our lives. This is part of the social compact that we make as a society in order to guarantee the continued freedom that we all enjoy. I do not believe however, that anyone and everyone is allowed to take anything and everything out of context to make their point. We display feathers for Thanksgiving, not as a religious symbols, but because male turkeys have a rather prominent feather display, and turkeys, not feathers, are a symbol of the holiday. 

At a time in this country when we are being told that Christmas has nothing to do with Christ (Nor does Easter for that matter, who knew?), and that any display of religious symbols are a violation of the separation of church and state, how can this be? (By the way, for those asleep in civics class, the separation of church and state was only designed to prevent the US from adopting a national church, the danger of which those early settlers were keenly aware of.

How can I now be told that we must sensitive to the fact that a feather is a religious symbol and that I am not allowed to display it for the holiday not because it is a religious symbol, but because displaying it is offensive to those who consider it so. Should we also be sensitive to Quakers, who feel the same way about those funny hats? Should we be sensitive to members of PETA for the use of the turkey as a symbol for this day and the needless slaughter of thousands of turkeys to feed our bloated society? Should a farmer's feelings be considered before displaying cornstalks, because it might remind him of the bad harvest he had? 

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when we gather together as families to celebrate the very freedom that allows this nonsense to be perpetuated. It goes right back to the Founding Fathers themselves. In 1789, President Washington proclaimed:  

"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country...for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interposition of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed...and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually...To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best." 

The Thanksgiving holiday is in fact a religious one, though on a much quieter scale. Quite frankly, I never remember it being celebrated as such when attending festivities at schools. It was about the friendship that developed between those first settlers and Native Americans. It was also a celebration of the help that those Native Americans gave to those first settlers, in fact saving their lives; and the desire that these people had to give thanks for their continued existence. I want to respect the beliefs of those people precisely because it was only when they worked together that all survived. I do not however, want to let the fringe groups of society dictate the public debate, nor the sensitivity police continue to find ways to ruin everything that is worth celebrating. 

So enjoy Thanksgiving with your friends and family this year, and give thanks as you deem appropriate regardless of the naysayers. And as you sit bloated once again in front of a TV set watching football, or that first showing of "Miracle on 34th Street", remember that you are only acting in accordance of the wishes of our first president. 

Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas Story

I am going to post this a day early, as I will be traveling this weekend, and Saturday is the big OSU / Michigan game. Since I will be immersed in the insanity that is Columbus while this event is going on in Ann Arbor, I felt it best to get it out of the way ahead of time. My travels will continue into the next week, as I journey to fair Kansas City; but my ability to produce my particular brand of lunacy will not diminish. (no matter how much you wish it would)  

Well Halloween is over and we are fast approaching Thanksgiving, which means that the Christmas season is once again upon us with a vengeance. The stores have put aside all of the candy, relegated any turkey-related displays to secondary positions, and begun to throw all of us (willing or not) into a Christmas shopping frenzy. All now are beginning to look forward to the arrival of that white-haired, fat guy, with a beard (but enough about me). 

This is a time when families gather together, trees are decorated, and aggressive shopping becomes a Olympic level sport. It is also quite frankly, the time of year when I most question the intelligence of my fellow man. You think I'm kidding? Then answer these questions for me: 

 - When did people start waiting in line all night in front of a store like they it was an Stephen Spielberg movie premier? Do we really need to shop at 5AM in order to save a couple of bucks and buck up the sales of bloated retailers, or would it make more sense to at least wait until the sun comes up before doing our part in the massive consumerism that is the US economy? Has anyone bothered to think of those poor schmuck store employees who have to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to face the thundering herd waiting on their doorstep?  

- What part of the Christmas spirit is it to fight with your fellow man over the over-hyped gift that your kid just has to have or the adult toy that you can't live without? People are fighting over the latest game system or a $200 laptop that probably won't do much of anything anyway! Forget the religious implications here folks, if Santa sees this you are definitely in line for a rock in your stocking.  

- When did we become so stupid (or is this merely the assumption of the advertising companies and retailers) that diamonds, big screen HD TV's, and expensive automobiles are the only Christmas presents that will make us happy? I watched "Charlie Brown Christmas", and I know and accept that Christmas has gone commercial. I just missed the part where it became "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous". 

- What part of the Christmas spirit is it to run up all of your credit cards buying expensive, over-hyped presents for everyone in your family, to the point that it will be next Christmas before you get them paid off again?

- What happened to the toy commercials (or have I just not been watching the right channels)? The Christmas hype used to always be about the kids. Now all of the commercials are about adult toys. Is this about the spirit of giving or just who has the most disposable income? (We know the answer to this of course, but I had to ask the question anyway.)  

- Will they be playing "Miracle on 34th Street" over and over again this year, with the black and white version preceding the colorized one? Is this some new, diabolic plot being perpetrated on us by evil corporations, or have this just finally worn out the copy of "A Christmas Story" that we have being bombarded with for the last couple of years? (On the other hand, could this be an even more devious plot than I have reckoned, and just the warm up; with "A Christmas Story" yet to follow?) 

- Why do we feel the need to overindulge at Christmas parties, as if we had taken a vow of abstinence since the 4th of July? 

My personal advice would be to take a pass on all of them. If the cops don't get you for a DUI (which can tend to spoil the whole family's holiday), the odds are that you will do something either personally or professionally humiliating in a very public place. The ensuing period of guilt and retribution can also make for less than a jolly holiday season. If you feel the need to over-serve yourself on adult beverages, do so at home while watching "Miracle on 34th Street". If you nod off and miss some part, don't worry, it will be on again. 

Listen folks, I may not be the Spirit of Christmas (though I am getting close enough in size and appearance to qualify for the Spirit of Christmas Present role in the upcoming holiday spectacular); but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that somehow we missed a turn from society's GPS system. I know that this is really just a pagan Holiday (Mithras) adopted by Christians way, way back to reconcile the unknown date for the birth of Jesus Christ with an already existing celebration. I also recognize the significance of the day in terms of religious belief, as well as the pagan desire to celebrate a mid-winter festival. In either Christian or pagan incarnations, this holiday was supposed to be about fellowship and good cheer. Let's not try to loose sight of that as we try to celebrate this special time of year. So lighten up everyone, and in the words of Tiny Tim (no relation), "God bless us, every one."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

That's Not Right #2: Santa Gone Wrong (Update)

For those of you concerned enough to ask, I am still waiting for my 2nd interview for the Santa position that I was trying to get at Victoria's Secret. Actually, I am still waiting for my 1st interview. I have not given up hope however, and will be making the trip down to Columbus this weekend in the hope of pleading my case personally. 

Now this trip to our state capital (and the corporate headquarters of Victoria's secret) has no direct tie to my employment effort, nor does it have anything to do with the football game this weekend surprisingly enough; but the opportunity presented seems too good a one to pass up. With luck, the interview that I hope to get will in some way make up for the resume that I sent out (next time I will know better than to tell the truth).

There have been some who, having scrutinized my motives in seeking such a position, have come to the conclusion that I should get my old "Aqualung" suit out of mothballs (and I actually used to have one of these from a band that I played with in the 70's).  

Let me assure you however, that I am merely looking for a source of additional income to subsidize the increased tax burden that the recent Toledo and Lucas County levy votes have placed me under, and maybe buy some extra gifts for the grand kids. (Besides, the green trench-coat and helmet liner of that Aqualung suit are looking pretty bad and no longer fit me.)
Anyway, I am hoping to hear something on this soon, as not trimming the beard is beginning to get kind of annoying. Neither am I entirely comfortable with the waves that I get from small children at the grocery store.

I will keep you posted (literally and figuratively)...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Super Terrorist

I found myself flying out of my bed in the wee hours of the morning in my quest for sleep last night. (No, it was not simply my guilty conscience, though you would think that would be cause enough.) The cause of my rude awakening was a nightmare of almost Biblical proportions. Somehow, my subconscious had managed to put 2 and 2 together and come up with a result that was truly frightening. Since I have no scruples where the comfort of others is concerned, let me share this horrific thought with you.

What if you took a socially-progressive liberal, added a healthy does of a rabid environmentalist, and topped the whole thing off with a dash of religious fundamentalism? What would you end up with?
A Super-Terrorist!

Can you imagine what a world with this type of fanatic would look like and the contradictions that would ensue:

  1. Hybrid, or at least fuel efficient, car bombs.
  2. Environmental groups who kill anyone and everyone just to reduce the damage that human beings are doing (in their opinion) "killing the planet".
  3. Global warming death squads that attack oil company headquarters, drilling platforms, coal mines, and refineries.
  4. The death penalty by beheading for anyone using more than their allotted carbon footprint.
  5. Solar and wind-powered bomb factories.
  6. IED's that would no long target military vehicles, but instead blow up SUV's.
  7. Cities which are riddled with plague as PETA and other nature groups prevent us from killing disease-ridden rats and mosquitoes.
  8. Suicide bombers who, riddled with guilt over the violence being perpetrated in society, kill not only themselves and their opposition groups, but often die attacking their own group as well.
  9. Sectarian violence with gangs killing each other using bio-degradable bullets.
  10. Universal health care for all of those injured in the above described sectarian violence.
  11. Government mandated weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, with strict diet controls for violators.
  12. Every child born to be given $5,000.00, with additional matching government funds provided as the child grows. These funds to be used to cover the child's cost of weapons and ammunition.
  13. Designer scarves for those who need anonymity for their terrorist activities, but are more committed to the money that they are raking in than to the cause that they are fighting for.
  14. Life in prison without parole for killing a tree, a porpoise, or a whale; but not for killing a person.
If any or all this scares the living bejeezus out of you, you can begin to understand why my night's rest might have been interrupted. Society has become socially conscious, infinitely fragmented, and increasingly intolerant all at the same time. It sometimes appears that it is only a matter of time before this equation adds up to some form of disaster. While I have faith that we will come out on the other side of this apparent insanity, I clearly understand that faith is "believing in something when common sense tells you not to".

There are few times in my life when I am grateful in life for the age that I have reached. The above listed prediction in my rather flawed crystal ball makes me glad that I will probably be taking a dirt nap before they actually occur. For those of you younger than me (and feeling pretty smug about it right up until now, weren't you): Be afraid, be very afraid.

Monday, November 12, 2007

That's Not Right #3 - Candidates

There is a TV commercial currently making the rounds that is put on by the folks at It's supposed to tug at our heartstrings by using children to tell us what kind of candidates that they would vote for if they were only old enough to vote.  

First of all let me say that once again, a liberal organization is shamelessly using children to promote their agenda, a practice which is truly beginning to sicken me. (though I am not looking for government health care to treat this illness)  

Second, there is little doubt that these are well-coached child actors who would normally not know the first thing about the issues that they are speaking about or be able to voice their opinions so coherently if they were not working off of a script written by someone with an agenda.  

Third, since these are in fact children, with very little exposure to the realities of life, why in heaven's name would I use their opinion (even if I agreed with it) to guide my voting preferences?  

OK, three strikes, you're out! I am really getting tired of any group, liberal or conservative, hiding behind children in order to get their message heard. If you believe in the message, stand behind it yourself and be proud. Don't take a cowards approach of using children as a shield. I am equally tired of the story that the job of elected officials or of the government is to take care of the citizens. 

While it has been a while since I have taken a civics class (hell, they probably don't even call them that any more), it seems to me that I remember that elected officials are sent to represent constituents, and that only. I don't care whether the cause is fixing health care or saving an endangered toad, the government exceeds its authority when it attempts such things. The Constitution defines not only the responsibilities of government, but the limits of it. If the citizens do not like those limits, they have the right and responsibility to change that document; and they have a mechanism (Amending) with which to do so. 

When are we going to recognize that it is not the government's job to supplant the care given by family, friends, or the simple generosity of perfect strangers in caring for each other? 

When are we going to recognize that it has always been the spirit of self reliance and stubborn pride in our own accomplishments that has made this country great?

So for all of you organizations out there trying to influence, cajole, persuade, or threaten me; for all of you groups that have a social agenda to push on me; for all of you who wish to tug on my heartstrings in order to change this country's government into something antithetical to the design of its Founding Fathers; let me tell you that you need not bother. I am after all a conservative, and one with a very libertarian point of view. It should therefore be readily apparent to you that I have no heart.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gun Control - A Retraction

I wrote a posting back in June on the subject of Gun Control: I must say that since then, I have done some additional research and a lot of soul searching on the subject, and have come to the conclusion that I was wrong. (Yes, you are actually admitting me hear that I was wrong on something. Write down this date, because it doesn't happen often.) I would therefore like to retract my earlier position.

Don't get me wrong here, this is not to say that I am going out tomorrow to buy some land in Montana, purchase a bunch of automatic weapons, and start to gather a cult following whose uniform involves a lot of camouflage. (Nothing against Montana, but it's just too damn cold and empty out there. Besides, camouflage doesn't go well with my eyes.) Nor is it to say that I am still not concerned with a lot of the guns that are out there. I just don't think that the government has any business interfering with a Constitutionally guaranteed right.

This recent epiphany is not even so much about guns as it is my growing detestation for the insidious, incremental encroachment of the government on the federal, state and local levels on the freedoms that I was guaranteed when the states signed the Constitution. I, like far too many people in this country recently, had been fooled into believing that I could gain some measure of safety from the horrors of life around me if I was only willing to give up a small portion of the personal freedom that the Constitution granted me. Well Benjamin Franklin put it best when he said:

"Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

On the other side of the question, this does not mean that some level of monitoring or licensing is not required. You have to reach a certain age, take certain training, and pass a test in order to get a license to drive. (The truth of the matter is that we require far more from a person to allow them to drive than we do to allow them to vote. Try and figure out that one.) Similar monitoring could be applied where guns are concerned. I would not care to see weapons in the hands of convicted criminals or mentally unstable individuals. Likewise I would prefer not to see machine guns, grenade launchers, or hand-held surface to air missiles in the hands of anyone outside of the military. Some responsibility, balance, and order needs to be discovered and maintained; but that can and should be done with the least government involvement possible.

Few realize that as recently as September of 2005, we saw local law enforcement officers and military personnel confiscating legally purchased and owned firearms from people trying to defend their homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The government imposed its will in strict violation of the 2nd Amendment with no warning, little fanfare, and no outrage from either the national media or the rest of us. If such a gross encroachment on our freedoms can happen once, it can happen again. 

As for me, I still have no intention of ever owning a gun. I don't think that there is anything wrong with them, but I have no desire to be a gun owner. That decision is a free choice that I make, and should time and situation change, it is a decision that I would like to be able to reconsider at any future date. That being said, I am still considering a membership in the NRA for no other reason than to help insure that the 2nd Amendment is protected. I find these days that while I am still afraid of the violence that might be done to me with a gun, I am even more terrified of the "nanny state's" desire to protect me from anything that they feel might be a danger to me, and their confiscation of my liberties in the process.

Friday, November 9, 2007

COSI - Titannic of Toledo

Before the ink is even dry on the tally sheets for the November 6th levy votes, we see that our local elected representatives are choosing to ignore the will of the electorate. A letter was delivered yesterday to the board of COSI, signed by Mayor Finkbeiner, and Commissioners Gerken, Konop, and Skeldon-Wozniak. It urged the board of COSI to keep the doors open while alternate means of financing were being looked at, and with the promised support of those who signed to help achieve that alternate financing for COSI. 

It therefore appears that our elected officials feel the voice of the people, as expressed through the levy vote, is wrong. (People by the way whose current positions are owed to the dubious wisdom of those very same voters.) It is apparent now that to these particular government officials, voters are only to be trusted when they vote to give the government more power and money, and that they should otherwise be ignored. 

It also appears that COSI is the issue that will not die. The voters have spoken twice now to deny COSI access to taxpayer dollars that they never really had a right to in the first place. COSI is a private, non-profit organization whose only access to request levy money was granted by a change in the laws by the state legislature. COSI is an operation who by its own admission, was begun with a failed business plan. That plan included a promise that no further tax dollars would ever be requested or required. We now hear that this promise was either an error (see failed business plan) or a lie. In its current incarnation, COSI functions on $1.00 per year rent and what appears to be utility bills that are being deferred ad-infinitum (forever, for those of you who were never forced to sit through Latin classes). Even with these generous (taxpayer funded) operating costs, additional revenues from private donor contribution, memberships, daily ticket sales, food, and trinkets sold on premises; this science museum is unable to be self-supporting. 

There is not enough money to replace or refresh exhibits on a regular basis or to keep the existing ones in good repair. There appears to be a law of diminishing returns to even meet the salary demands of the limited staff required to operate the facility. To the mayor and county commissioners I therefore say this: The ship is going down, and has been for some time. You may put a brave face on this and gamely play on with the orchestra, but please allow the rest of us to enter the lifeboats. 

Do not pour good money over the bad you have already wasted in an effort to keep this Titanic afloat. She may have been a lovely ship at one time, but will sail no longer. Allow her to slip beneath the waves with dignity. While you are at it, please respect the wishes of the people whose confidence you asked for when you ran for election. 

If we were considered smart enough to have our votes count in electing you, we are smart enough to decide what we will support now. Worry about the rest of the fleet (the Erie Market, the Docks, the Arena), which will also sink without your continued attention. In some cases they already are - aka the Erie St Market. We will be watching, and we will remember.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Election - The Aftermath

I wrote this post last night, but only this morning had the courage to post it. Please forgive the apparent time inconsistencies.  

I woke up this morning feeling absolutely terrible. At first I thought that it was simply a general feeling of listlessness and disgust for the choices of my fellow Toledo and Lucas County voters. Then I realized that it was the result of a "Three Dog-Rocket Night". For those of you who do not enjoy savoring a fine cigar, this is a term deriving from the Eskimo's 3-Dog night, a situation when it gets so cold that they sleep surrounded by 3 dogs to maintain their body heat. In the cigar version of this occurrence,(and I know you know what I mean out there Luke), it is when one who appreciates cigars makes the mistaken judgement that it would be OK to smoke 3 cigars while listening to election coverage (or for any other reason for that matter). 

The result, no matter how many times you brush your teeth or gargle, is that you wake up with a taste in your mouth reminiscent of 3 dead dogs. Knowing that my guilt over my own stupidity, and the bad mood that I was in as a consequence of my own misjudgement was affecting my thinking; I decided to wait to say anything regarding Tuesday's election. 

As the day turned into evening, my mood (and the taste in my mouth) improved however. I began to collect my thoughts, get over my disappointments, and at last began to write. It was only then that I realized that like my choice in the quantity of cigars that I smoke, I may have this whole thing wrong (something that I often do). Perhaps the majority of the minority who actually voted knew something that I didn't, voted their well-informed conscience, and put us on the path to a brighter future.

That's it! The well educated, unbiased, and independent voters of Toledo and Lucas County realize that we are on the brink of an economic recovery of heroic proportions. Wages, property values, and the quality of life here are about to soar on an unparalleled scale. Money will be flowing like water from the waste treatment plant that the mayor spoke from today. The additional money that will be removed from our pockets from the 3 levies that passed will be insignificant compared with all of the money that will be coming our way. 

The Board of Education has been on the right path all along, and we need only to give them the time to allow those practices produce the results in our schools that they were designed to do. Wow, we need to call the president and the press and make this joyous news public. 

We have no right to keep such information from the American people. The market will soar, the dollar will improve, and our trade imbalance will disappear. My god, what relief to find that everything is going to be alright after all. Wait a minute, this can't be right. 

Sorry, feelings of euphoria momentarily overcame me. It must be the alcohol from the mouthwash. Please take all of the preceding as irony, or for those of you who never seem to understand irony ... never mind.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I was so disheartened by yesterday's election that I decided to pass on the pleasure and pain of a post-election posting (at least that's my story so far). I decided instead to take on a totally unrelated subject. While part of this had to do with my despondency over the fact that I was unable to change the direction of the misguided choices that my fellow voters made. The rest was just was just my typically perverse nature, and desire to change the subject for no other reason than that I can. I therefore present the following completely unrelated, but equally mystifying topic for your edification: 

One of the few things that I have given up trying to understand about Life is Love. (There are a lot of other ones, but if I told you all of them now, what would I post about in the future?) This is not to say that I am unacquainted with the subject. I have what I hope are loving relationships with my family, my children, and my grandchildren. I even think that I have been lucky enough to have "been in love" a couple of times in my life. 

Even when I was in the midst of a situation where I thought that I was in love however, I have to say that I found myself completely confused most of the time. In this, I do not feel that I have been alone. As I am a voracious reader, I often seek the wisdom of those of a literary point of view on such weighty subjects. 

Many of the best writers in history have attempted to say something on the subject and have done well, but invariably I find myself going back to a science-fiction book called "When Harley Was One" by David Gerrold (most fans of SF know him as the man who wrote the Star Trek episode 'The Trouble With Tribbles'). To paraphrase, he described it as a process with three stages:  

1. The physical attraction between two people 

2. The bond that grows, emotionally and sexually as they learn more about each other 

3. The true loving relationship I also remember another line from the novel (which I have just discovered to my chagrin in writing this, that I have misplaced in process of my recent relocation), where the author talked about love being about "placing another person's welfare above your own".  

On the other hand, Robert Frost used an equally apt, but somewhat selfish description, calling it: " irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired". Now before we pull out the box of tissues, make a hot cup of tea, and curl up in a blanket; let me also point out that this emotional state has contributed more to silly, ridiculous, and socially suicidal behavior than anything else in the course of human history. 

Here I can speak with some knowledge and experience. In the course of my life, I like many, have probably committed some incredibly idiotic, horribly embarrassing, and potentially fatal acts in the name of this emotion (and I've led a pretty sheltered life). No "Candid Camera" reel or "America's Funniest Home Video" episode could hope to capture the range of demented behavior that I and my fellow man daily commit in order to win the hearts of the ones they love, so I will certainly not try. 

I could probably cite a few of the numerous specific examples from my own past as proof, but I'm not sure if the statute of limitations has run out on all of them, and therefore feel that it might be better if I don't. I will simply say that if this is what Evolution has determined that the male of the species should go through in order to cement the bond required for the mating and reproductive process, we may be on our way out.  

As for what women do and have done, being neither a woman nor the gay friend of one, such information has never been shared with me. The limited information that I have gleaned on this particular subject from overheard conversations however, is terrifying to me on an almost Biblical scale.  

My only conclusion is that maybe in the end, we aren't supposed to be able to figure such things out. Maybe love is a mystery that we are supposed to embrace, rather than solve. Maybe the terror and confusion are an essential part of the joy and excitement that we experience when in love. On the other hand, one has to wonder if there is some lemming DNA hiding in our genetic background and love is simply the cliff that we line up to leap from. (Could this be where the term lover's leap actually came from, maybe?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Well I was out there bright and early this morning to place my vote at the proper polling place. Of course I had to cast a provisional ballot because having been here slightly over a year, the Board of Elections in Lucas County has not properly entered my name on the voting roll yet; but then again, they have had only a year to work with. Voting right as the polls opened, I managed to do so without running into any of the candidates. 

No offense to anyone running for office out there, but you have to realize that by now we are sick of the sound of your voice and of seeing your face. The only thing that might prevent us from voting in fact, would be having to run a gauntlet of candidates in order to do so. I know that all candidates want that last bit of name recognition, but this should be weighed carefully, lest you remind us that you were the one that we wanted to be sure not to vote for. 

I was not alone at getting in to place my vote early (possibly for the same reason). It was gratifying to see that a few of my fellow citizens were braving the dark, the cold, and the snow flurries in order to perform duty as citizens. Looking at the entire process however, I find that I am constantly amazed at the way that we treat this most sacred of America responsibilities. The voting machines themselves looked like reworked projector stands from the grade school that I went to in the 60's. Record keeping is done with pads of paper large enough to be books of spells at Hogwarts Wizard School (Harry Potter, for those of you living in a cave in recent history), a system whose technology was obviously created at the same time of the projector stands. 

The only part of the process that deserves any approbation at all are the poll workers. Their good humor and willingness to do whatever is necessary to make sure that anyone who shows up to vote gets a chance to do so is the one bright spot in the process. Knowing that they do this for a wage not much better than that of a person working a drive through window at a fast food joint makes their efforts and sacrifices even more meaningful.  

With all of the money that we get asked to invest in everything from failed museums to empty buses, maybe what we really need to be investing in is the trappings and technology of the process itself. If voting is a right and a sacred duty, perhaps we need to begin to treat the performance of that duty as if it were being done in a church and not an outhouse. 

Saturday, November 3, 2007

When The Levy Breaks

We are facing votes Tuesday on levies for four different organizations, COSI, The Library, MetroParks, and TARTA. There have been postings on a number of sites (Thurber's Thoughts, Glass City Jungle, Wannabe Mayor, Hooda Thunkit's Therapy Blog, and Major Nitpickers) on each of these requests. I would simply like to make an attempt to summarize here.  

Each of these organizations has laid claim to their "rightful share" of the money that we work hard to earn every day. Each has a noble purpose, and each has an assumption that they deserve this money for the good of the community. None however, have been able to describe an effective business plan for operating in a city of declining population, jobs, and property values. 

COSI admits to a "failed" business plan from the start, which begs the question as to whether they are liars or just simply stupid. From this flawed beginning, having promised us that they would never again ask for money, and with the appearance of no real business plan to move forward; they come cap in hand like Oliver Twist, saying "Please sir, I want some more". My response, "Not today Ollie". You tell me that if you do not get this levy, you will be forced to go ... it was nice knowing you.  

Metroparks is looking for money to take care of the land that they purchased with a different levy. Now that they have the land they don't appear to have the funding to improve it, take care of it, nor to run many of the programs on it. You receive funding from a number of sources in the form of grants and gifts, but apparently that does not meet the needs of your budget. Perhaps money could be raised by selling some of the land or cutting back on some of the programs? But wait - property values are going down and selling real estate in Toledo is a losing proposition, so that won't work. And it appears to be impossible to consider doing 'less as more' for anything run on taxpayer dollars.Perhaps in a time when Toledo is shrinking in so many ways, you should realize that your budget does not need to grow. If you continue to add to our tax burden, there is likely to be plenty of green space (translate as empty land) in Toledo to choose from for future growth. 

The Library is looking for money to maintain their current programs at their current levels, none of which seems to involve books. Those expansions have to do with replacing, improving, and expanding its computer area and Internet access; and of course, adding to their DVD selections. Maybe these are the functions of the library of the future, but they do not need to be taxpayer sponsored. Libraries, by definition, are places of books. If they would like to expand in order to compete with Blockbuster video or an Internet Cafe, I suggest that they look at a mulch-tiered form of library cards, with a fee for DVD rental and Internet access, before asking everyone to finance these 'out of the box' business endeavors.  

TARTA, where do we even begin with you? You appear to run a service that few, if any take advantage of in the metropolitan area. Mayors of outlying cities are already crying over the monopoly you hold, the lack of service you provide, and the dollars that you drain. You have no real idea how many people use your service, and ask us for money to provide more. You must think that our heads are emptier than your buses. The only increase in ridership that you can show is with seniors, and you use that to frighten and intimidate us for money. (In case you hadn't heard, they call that extortion.) Go back and count your riders, give us an honest demographic of them, and present us with an effective plan to serve them before you ask for our generosity. 

It's time at last, for organizations asking for money from levies to be up front and honest with the taxpayers. Combine all of your levies and give us an honest look at the money that you would like from us to fund your endeavors. Face the financial reality of the community that you serve when presenting your requests. Do not attempt to confuse us about what these levies will cost us, whether they are new taxes, or whether they are increases. Present us with facts that justify your requests for money. Show us logical business plans to prove to us that our trust in you, once granted, will not be wasted. For many years, organizations like this have poked a stick in the cage of taxpayers. 

Perhaps it's time that you realize that you have finally made us mad enough to get off of our butts and do something about it. You had better pay attention to the reality of the present before we get to the bars and take a big bite out of you.


Ohio - Don't Bet On It

A law was recently raced through the Ohio legislature on an emergency basis, outlawing what were considered gambling machines in which people could win money. (Just for the record, what other kind are there?) For some reason, there seemed to be a great deal of concern that any form of video poker or slot machines were going to undermine the fabric of society in Ohio (you know, the same way that such devices have done in neighboring states Michigan and Indiana). 

Now this is not to say that it is illegal to gamble in Ohio. No, it is in fact perfectly legal to gamble in this state as long as you do it with THE OHIO LOTTERY COMMISSION. Yes that's right, the state is the only bookie that you are allowed to do business with. Not only can you gamble, but I would be willing to bet that right now there are as many versions of Ohio Lottery scratch-off tickets as there are flavors of ice cream at Ben and Jerry's. Tickets cost anywhere from $1 to $20 each, and surprisingly we all seem to exhibit some level of self-control while taking our chances with them at getting rich. 

And let's not forget the big ones, the original Ohio Lottery (currently at $2.6 million) and the Mega Millions game (currently at $75 million). This is where we are all forced to show some further level of self-restraint, while getting to take our chance at reaching for the real gold ring as we travel on the merry-go-round of life. 

Of course we are told that this is different, because all the "profit" from this particular form of gambling is at least supposedly directed at the schools of the state of Ohio. It appears that even an evil like gambling can be excused if we use the magic words "for the children" when speaking about it. Unfortunately, despite the volume of play done on these games of chance, property taxes across the state continue to go up and district budgets continue to be an issue from a lack of funding.

So it appears to be that the State of Ohio is not afraid of our inability to show self-control with regards to gambling, as long as it is going to a good and worthy cause. They are merely worried that they won't control it and get their percentage of the proceeds. In their hurry and zeal to protect their monopoly on something that they deem dangerous to the public on some level however, they came very close to doing away with bowling, dart, and pool leagues in the State of Ohio (though for some reason, they were right on top of the concept of protecting Bingo). 

Now I have trouble wrapping my head around how a dart or bowling league could represent a serious challenge to the morals of the state's residents, though having just seen "The Music Man" on cable, I can see how the evil things that go on in a pool hall could be a threat. Quite frankly the surprising thing to me is that the state of Ohio did not choose to take on the vicious bingo hall lobby. I guess that they found a mob of angry senior citizens with bingo card markers clutched firmly in hand too daunting a prospect to face.

This effort to prevent or limit gambling is not a new one for the state. Special interest groups in Ohio have been waging war for years to prevent casinos from opening on both the rivers and the Lake (Erie), in spite of the fact that other states have operated such pleasure palaces successfully just down the river, or up the chain of lakes from our fair shores for years. Now I have heard that this is all done to protect us from a organized criminal element who might strong-arm us, cheat us, and steal our money; but the only one that I can think that fits that picture currently is (wait for it) ... The State of Ohio.

This isn't really a big deal for me, as I'm not a big gambler. I believe that I work far too hard for the money I earn to throw it at a things that spin, blink, and makes annoying noises at me (that's what I thought children were for). I simply resent the fact that the state can't seem to keep it's nose out of my business, and is constantly seeking to find new ways to intrude itself. 

Government has invaded enough in my life and that of my fellow citizens, and there seems bent on exhibiting a serious Puritanical streak that seeks to remove any source of amusement from the lives of those governed. Smoking first, and now non-state sponsored gaming. How long will we have to wait before government begins to look at the consumption of alcoholic beverages again (because prohibition worked so well the first time), or maybe the mating rituals of its citizens (sex, for those of you who might be a little obtuse)? In what other areas of our lives will our fire and brimstone preaching state decide that it should make decisions on, in order to protect us from ourselves?

Now just to prove that Ohio is not the only state that's aggravating me where this is concerned, I am equally upset with the state of Michigan, who's annoying commercials about returning to a spirit of play by gambling in Native American casinos has long since earned my ire. 
I have already voiced my displeasure on this subject however, and see no need to re-hash information previously supplied for those too lazy to click on the link listed.

In the long run, I have to wonder as to the wisdom of adopting this position on gaming though. As we all know, states compete with each other for businesses, jobs, and residents. It appears however, that in the competition for the revenue that games and gambling can provide a state (and the casinos in Detroit have earned more than $120 million in tax revenue this year already) that the states of Michigan and Ohio have slightly different philosophies. While Michigan says "Go Out and Play", the state of Ohio responds with: "No Playing Allowed".

Thursday, November 1, 2007

That's Not Right #2- Santa Gone Wrong

Those of you who haven't paid attention to my picture on the blog page may not have noticed that both my hair and beard have gone from their natural color (which I realize now that I have forgotten) to gray, and thence to white. Having attained the stature (translate as sheer bulk) that I have achieved in my life, it begs the question about the opportunities to play Santa Claus at local stores at this time of the year.  

While my appearance has made such possibilities obvious, I have managed to resist the temptation up to this point. I have been presented with one that may be beyond my capacity to resist in recent days however. It has been suggested that I would make a great Santa Claus at a Victoria's Secret store.  

Now my knowledge of ladies undergarments, lingerie, or perfumes might be severely limited by the fact that I am neither a cross-dresser, nor gay; but the opportunity to have the typical shopper at Victoria's Secret sit on my lap before making their personal selections presents some interesting potential as a way to make extra cash during the Holiday season.  

I'm sorry if this idea offends anyone, but at my age one should never discount any opportunity that involves young, attractive women sitting in your lap for any reason (no matter how small that lap seems to have become). I don't know if the position is open, or even if it exists; but I have to admit that the possibility intrigues me. Being a red-blooded American male (though a rather senior one), I have therefore decided to stop trimming my beard until the facts of the situation can be ascertained. (... for any of you reading this who happen to work for Les Wexner, you can let him know that I am available) I will let you know what I discover.