Thursday, June 30, 2005

I've labored to produce only this

I've spent 5 hours at the library today researching and this is all I've written. This is the first part of my dissertation that I've actually typed up.

If we abide by Poe’s definition of the short story as “able to be read in one sitting,” then “Tres versiones de Judas” fails because the very first paragraph references so many names that the average reader will need several hours and the Encyclopaedia Brittanica in order to make sense of all the symbols put forth. The narrator claims that the protagonist, Nils Runeberg, would have been right at home in a Gnostic conventicle in 2nd Century Alexandria. Gnosticism can be divided (but not limited) into four general divisions: Syrian (Satornilus), Marcionism, Alexandrine (Basilides, Carpocrates), and Encratism (Julius Cassianus). The Catholic Church considered all forms of Gnosticism to be heresies because of their beliefs in a dualistic universe—the belief that God and Satan are equally powerful—and their belief in a docetic Christ (i.e. a being of pure spirit). Borges frames the idea of a corruptible and perfectly imperfect god by referencing Basilides first. Basilides taught that heaven consists of 365 different levels, created not by god, but by fallible angels. Each lesser heaven being one-step removed and less perfect than the former, until one arrives at the Earth.

That's all I've got, but at least it's a damned start. Only took me a month.

I'm half the man I used to be, well I feel, as the dawn it fades to gray

Using the Culteranismo syntax of Góngora, the Stone Temple Pilots sort of describe me today. I'm wearing a shirt today that I haven't been able to wear since 2001. Though I've lost almost sixty pounds, I'm not half the man I used to be, I'm 86.81818182% the man I used to be. I've gained three pounds in the last 10 days, but that's because I've had to hyperhydrate myself to get rid of the gout in my toe. Once I dispose of all that extra water, I'll bet I've lost a pound.

I can't seem to motivate myself to start writing something on the dissertation. I think I'll start right now and just see what kind of crap flows from my fingers. Tomorrow is June. HOLY CRAP! Los días me pasan como si fueran un sueño. La vida es sueño, y los sueños, sueños son.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A true Christian should worry about their own righteousness before attacking someone else's.

I worry over people who claim to be Christians but instead spew out streams of fire and brimstone at others. As if being moral and following the Commandments weren't hard enough faced with omnipresent temptation, do we really need people hitting us with rocks (See St. John 8) while we try to do what's right? The problem with religious people (myself included) is intolerance. If someone else doesn't live the same way that you profess to do, you can't condemn them. Same thing for people who aren't religious condemning the religious. Condemnation, if we completely remove its religious underpinings still is a brutally harsh word that means that the person is irredeemable (from whatever).

With about half the people on the planet believing in some Higher Power, we're setting ourselves up for centuries more strife. People forget their history too. Religion kills (its own, the Other). Religion saves.

These people scare me:

I feel no love coming up from this wellspring. Gospel means good news. These are just harangues against people deemed less faithful. Even if I'm wrong, and we're all a cosmic accident, there's nothing wrong with living my life trying to be more Christlike. Go gnostic if you don't have faith!

Jesus is the Christ, we should all try to be more like Him. Easier said than done. Damned near impossible, but we still are supposed to try.

Hell is a metaphor.

Good Customer Service and Business Sense

I've always liked AMC movie theatres primarily because they offer student discounts, and since I've been in school for 10 bloody years, I've taken advantage of that offer innumerable times. I just read that they are offering a complete on-the-spot refund to moviegoers who see Cinderella Man and are unimpressed. The last time they pulled a stunt like this was in 1988 and I clearly remember taking advantage of their offer by going to see this hottie (I would've said "babe" back then) named Julia Roberts in Mystic Pizza one Sunday morning with Wes Wilson and his parents at the AMC Cobb Place 8 (brand new then, it's now an antiques mall) in Kennesaw. I liked the movie, and none of us asked for our money back. I like the fact that the theatre chain is taking a risk while trying to promote what I imagine is a great movie. I'll have to go see it now. They made me an offer I can't refuse.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Art of Clifton Karhu

Imagine an American from Minnesota of Finnish extraction becoming one of the best known artist of Japanese woodblock art and you will find Mr. Clifton Karhu. I came to know Mr. Karhu's art when I purchased a shelf of art books at an estate sale and found a book of his art among the collection. As I am a sucker for bold use of color, my favorite art is Fauvist and Vlaminck my favorite artist--Karhu's art immediately caught my attention and captivated me.

Here is a good link that gives a brief bio of Karhu:

I like to think that this is how Maurice de Vlaminck would be painting were he alive today. I don't know why I like Karhu's art so much, but I do and am now a big fan. I wanted to write to Mr. Karhu to tell him thank you for his work, so I emailed the Tolman Gallery to ask about contacing Mr. Karhu. I received a personal response to my email from Mr. Norman Tolman who asked for my address in response to my lament that because of my self-imposed student poverty I am unable to own even a print of Karhu's work. A week later I received a brand new book called Karhu@ 77 that is a tribute by Mr. & Mrs. Tolman to Karhu's art. I can't really express my gratitude to the Tolmans for their generosity. I hope that someday I am in a position to bring a little sunshine to someone in a similar situation.

I suggest that you research Clifton Karhu and decide for yourself if his art appeals to you. He is now my fourth most favorite artist after Vlaminck, Picasso, and Velazquez.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

When gout attacks!

I suffer from gout, and since I've been on the South Beach Diet, I haven't had but one tiny flare-up in April when I got dehydrated at my sister-in-law's wedding. Gout is the worst pain I've ever felt in my entire life. I would do anything to stop the pain when it strikes. Imagine someone sticking a knife into your big toe every time your heart beat. I can't even stand the weight of a sheet over it when it's hurting. I hate gout. Hate it.

This is an accurate idea of what it feels like.

Uric acid is a chemical which is a natural part of the normal breaking down and building up of food and body tissues. The level in the blood can be measured and shows how much there is in the body overall. The condition of raised blood uric acid is called hyperuricaemia. When this is present the uric acid which is normally dissolved in the blood may, from time to time, form microscopic crystals in the joint. These crystals set up the inflammation which is called acute gouty arthritis or acute gout.
It follows that gout may develop in persons whose uric acid is higher than normal. There are many causes of this. The following are some of the more common causes:
Higher than normal levels of uric acid can be part of the inherited make-up of some families
High alcohol intake
High intake of food containing purines (see below)
Some of the drugs used to treat high blood pressure.
Less commonly, longstanding kidney disease may result in high blood levels of uric acid.

This is what the crystals look like! See why it's so painful?

Friday, June 24, 2005

This is just perfect!

Combining the news making news and Tom Cruise into one story takes special talent. CNN reports that Tom Cruise and Matt Lauer argue on the Today Show.

It's enough to make you wish for something else big to happen so that the media will change the subject. I seriously cannot believe that the Supreme Court's decision yesterday hasn't started a shitstorm of protests. This is something that I would be willing to go to a rally against it. We should have a jazz funeral for the Constitution here in New Orleans. Genocide, Constitutional Anschluss, or Matt Lauer asking Tom Crusie questions about Ritalin and Scientology.....which one should we lead with???

I think Neil Boortz is an ass, but his description of the dangers of this Supreme Court Decision are spot on for real. Read it with a grain of salt, as he can be a hatemonger when he wants to be, and he loves the sound of his own voice.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Batman Begins Anew!

My wife and I went to see the new Batman Begins movie tonight to celebrate our anniversary. It was actually a very good movie. Christian Bale will never ever surpass Michael Keaton for the right attitude as Batman, but I can't think of anyone else who could either. This movie had plot, character development, explanations that were plausible for most everything. In short, they've defibrillated a dead franchise and made something actually worth watching. Good show!


The Supreme Court has ruled today that local governments can seize private property for the benefit of private enterprise! HOLY SHIT!

The Fifth Amendment states, "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Throwing this out the window, the five most liberal judges approved this. I can understand if it's to remove blight, but this ruling would allow someone to come in and force me to sell because they want to build a strip mall over my rolling orchards and pastures in front of my house.

Sandra O'Connor wrote, "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

She was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

I cannot F***ING believe this!

The Nigerian Scam goes international

I got this email today. I think it speaks for itself. People who fall for this, the something-for-nothing crowd, get what they deserve. The funds mentioned are always stolen or embezzeled, yet people's greed makes them sign on to this crap. Just desserts:

Greetings from me and my family,Getting your contact was not an easy task because since I am not computerliterate, I ordered my son to seek a partner very far away and he went to theinstitute of International Business to apply and he paid them the charges. Myname is NOH DAE-JUNG, The brother of GENERAL. NOH TAE-WOO, the formerPresident of South Korea who ascended to power through a popular electoralvictory in 1988 to 1992. After serving duly, he was accused of massembezzlement which ran into billions of won because of the GREAT OLYMPICS 1988which brought Korea to the world lime light, and was arrested but releasedafter long years of incarceration and now under scrutiny.Before my brother's was overthrown, I secretly siphoned the sum of 30 mil UnitedStates Currency out of Seoul and deposited the money with a security firm thattransports valuable goods and through diplomatic means.I am contacting youbecause I want you to deal with the security company and claim the money on mybehalf since I have declared that the consignment belong to my foreign businesspartner. You shall also be required to assist me in investment in your country.I expect you to declare what percentage of the total money you will take foryour assistance. When I receive your positive response I will let you knowwhere the security company is and the payment pin code to claim the money whichis very important.we do not want the government of my Country to know about themoney because they will believe I got the money from my brother while he wasstill in office as president .Once you confirm the receipt of the money ,I willcome over with my Children to your Country or any Country in Europe to start anew life with my Family. As soon as payment is effected, and the amountmentioned above is successfully transferred into your account, we intend to useour own share in acquiring some estates abroad. For this too you shall also beour overseas manager of all our properties and you will be paid based on acertain percentage agreed on by both parties. For now, let all ourcommunication be by e-mail because my line is right now connected to the SouthKorean Telecommunication Network services therefore we can not take the chancesof being heard. Thank you in anticipation of your cooperation.Yours faithfully,Noh Dae-Jung.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Now they're just trying to get my dander up.

One fear story a day to keep us all in check.

Bush scheduled to visit Vietnam sometime next year. Trip in doubt, though, as his obligations with the Texas Air National Guard may conflict

The Green Wave of Tulane

Well the Tulane Baseball Team was eliminated last night from the College World Series. I had several of the players as my students (I won't name drop) in Spanish 102 and 203. They really are bright young men that could have gotten academic scholarships too. I was always impressed with their dedication to their classwork, especially since they are on the road more than any other sport.

President Scott Cowen sent this email to all the students today. I echo his words.

Dear Students: Last night Tulane’s magical baseball season ended with a tough loss, especially for our players and coaches who have given us so much excitement and pride this year. As a university president and a baseball fan, I am extraordinarily proud of our players and coaches. Their performance on the field and in the classroom this season represents the very best of intercollegiate athletics. This team exudes class and character, befitting true winners. I hope you all join me in thanking our baseball team and coaching staff for its record-breaking season and for representing themselves and Tulane in such an exemplary manner. Go Wave! President Cowen

Doctors predict everyone reading this article will be dead in the next century and a small plot gardening update.

First thing I see this morning is another scare story.

Anderson Cooper spent yesterday warning us of the DANGERS of dirty ice cubes. This is what his webpage on CNN says about his reporting style: "ANDERSON COOPER 360° does not shy away from strong opinions, provocative stories and challenging issues. Regular features include Anderson's take on the world of media and the news, with in-depth coverage of justice, politics, health and pop culture, all from contributors who are as engaged, and engaging, as Anderson. "

The dude should beg to be the host of The Mole again.

Well as you can see from these photos, the garden is doing very well. We've got two watermelons on the vine that are growing really well--the one in the photo is almost as big as a volleyball. We've picked 16 cherry tomatoes off our plants and yesterday when I looked, they were COVERED in new blossoms. The squash are finally putting off some good sized squash and have spilled over into the parking lot. Saturday, I've enlisted some help to till up the rest of the ground so we can plant some acorn squash. Gardening is very very fun.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Alas, Babylon

No, I'm not talking about the Pat Frank novel, I'm referring to how far CNN (and really ALL media) has fallen from grace. The once mighty network is now reduced to competing with LOCAL Fox News programs with this gem of a report tonight:

Hmmmm let's waste Primetime hours doing what boils down to a hyped-up incendiary public service announcement. Where's the reporting on stuff that matters? Get Cooper to the Sudan and let me know about why people there are dying at the machete blade and yet we, signers of the Genocide Convention, sworn to prevent it, do nothing along with that enormous bag of wind known as the United Nations. I love how no one dares call it genocide because then we might have to actually DO something to prevent it. Well they are Africans, so it's just a population correction, right? Blacks are killing each other on every continent they inhabit, and we don't do anything about it here, why start now? "It's too expensive." Life is precious, as long as they are caucasian. Remember Rwanda? 500,000 people hacked to death with machetes, and we could've stopped it all! Isn't Kofi Annan from Africa? What the hell is wrong with us? Muslim Sudanese are killing people because of their religion--trying to exterminate them from off the face of the earth, how is that not genocide?

That would be a news story. Problem is that since NBC's David Bloom died in Iraq (not from a wound mind you, but from thrombosis) all the high profile reporters are staying close to a Starbucks. Where in the world is Matt Lauer? Not even doing that anymore. If it bleeds it leads has become if it will scare-the-ever-loving-snot-out-of-you it leads (SARS, collision course asteroids, AIDS, DIRTY FARKING ICE).

The problem with most independent presses these days is we don't know how accurate or trustworthy their reporting is either. Too many politics, not enough coverage of what really matters.

If I hear another report, especially a headline at the top of the page, about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes I'm going to be sick.

What's ticking me off today?

Someone has been running a chainsaw behind our house on the next street since 7 AM, this is the third day in a row that it's been going, yet no trees have fallen. Maybe it's a new open air slaughter house.

No one is bidding on my stuff on ebay. I didn't see the expected increase in sales for Father's Day. I've got good stuff at good prices. It doesn't make any sense.

A new poll says that the majority of Americans do not like the war in Iraq. I'd hope that all Americans wouldn't "Like" the war anywhere. The media survey a thousand people and then post this half-ass news blurb about it. I call that inventing the news. If nothing really that interesting is happening, let's do a poll and inflame the masses a little more.

Eight years with no ingrown toenails--I get one on each foot within a week of each other. My sister-in-law Mindy, when I was in Utah for her wedding in April said, "Sexy toenails Mac", so out of some sense of embarassment, wanting her to shut-up, and trying to actually be well groomed out of respect for her forthcoming nuptials, I cut my toenails down to what you lessor people would call "normal". Now I have two ingrown toenails that are oozing puss. Mac knows best. I will forever let my toenails go until they start hurting people, and then I'll trim, but not cut, them.

I weigh exactly the same today as I did a week ago. I hope I haven't hit the "plateau" that people talk about. In my mind that plateau's 330 lbs., or the weight I was when I got married.

Speaking of when I got married, yesterday was my seventh anniversary. Since my wife was sick, I spent the day cloistered in the library looking up 2nd & 3rd Century Gnostic references in Borges's "Tres versiones de Judas" (text in English) story. This is actually my idea of fun, but I would've rather been re-enacting (with markely improved technique) the six (6) sexual couplings my wife and I shared our first day of marriage--even if it had only been just one of them; that's my idea of real fun. She makes loving fun. When she's sick, stay the hell away from her though cause she's what the Spanish call la cólera encarnizada. Marley is sick too. This house now has three babies living here.

So today is MidSummers Night. El día de San Juan: Los maderos de San Juan piden queso piden pan, triqui triqui tran. I want to go an build a bondfire tonight and take my lovely and jump over the flames with her. I want to go to a party that celebrates nothing other than an excuse to have a party. I imagine the Druids have already made a mockery of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain this morning. I imagine that many tribes around the world are getting out an participating in rituals that most do not really know why they do anymore, save the elders. I imagine that physical science teachers are all sitting at home, sleeping in and thinking about how to get ninth graders to remember how to spell solstice correctly; I bet some dudes at NASA are just giddy with glee over this new web page they've created that illustrates how the tilt of the earth is off by .000000000000000002% because of the wobble from the Dec. 26, 2004 earthquake off Sumatra and that the solstice is thereby almost .00000000000000000014 seconds later than it ever has been beforzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! Stupid bars that have restaurants attached are planning parties as an excuse to get rich off your inability to say no to "microbrewed" this and that. And you just know that some goths are planning some crazy party that involves black lipstick, bad lacy lingerie, and chinchillas. I'm all out of ideas, and this post is lame, but lame or not, I'm posting it.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

It's just one of those days

I triple dog dare someone to be nice to me today. So far, no one has other than Nancy Hansen. Marley's sick, Mickelle too. They're grumpier than my dead grandma at bedtime and church was a disaster today.

Happy Father's Day!

Tomorrow is my seven year annivesary and that's not in dog years.

Happy Father's Day

In honor of my Father, I offer this list of 22 things I'm grateful to him for (in no particular order):

#1 Thank you for not getting killed by an NVA regular nor a Viet Cong soldier.
#2 Thank you for not letting Mom cut my hair anymore after I reached puberty
#3 Thank you for teaching me the value of a hard day's work
#4 Thank you for not taking that wire sander drill bit that one time at Kmart when there was a really long line in the garden section and you had already written your check and the employee told you to just take it since he didn't want to ring it up and you didn't have another check. That may have been the single most powerful lesson on right and wrong you ever taught me because you told me, "Son it wasn't his drill bit to give to me, and that would be stealing." I will never forget that.
#5 Thank you for making me an entrepreneur at 14 with the baseball card business. I learned more about money, reading people, the art of the deal, and accepting mistakes from that experience that I ever did in college
#6 Thank you for watching Kelly's Heroes and Patton over 100 times with me.
#7 Thank you for baptizing me
#8 Thank you for not being an alcoholic; with your genetics it could have easily gone the other way.
#9 Thank you for teaching me to say "sir" and "ma'am" even if sometimes it was at the end of a belt.
#10 Thank you for not having a girlfriend on the side
#11 Thank you for giving me a cool name like "Mac". I would hate being a Jason, Scott, or Josh.
#12 Thank you for making me read Twain's "Mysterious Stranger" on that vacation in Hawaii when I was 15. Though I became an atheist after reading it, it set me up to receive the Gospel and also has proven very useful in my doctoral dissertation research.
#13 Thank you for not having a lawn at our house until Susanna begged for one.
#14 Thank you for never installing central air. Splitting firewood did me good.
#15 Thank you for bailing me out when I didn't have enough money to go to Europe after I graduated from high school. You sold your Stan Musial rookie to pay for my trip. I'll never forget that.
#16 Thank you for moving us to Atlanta from Dillard. This one could be a book length essay.
#17 Thank you for being an apiculturist when I was a kid. I know more about honey that anyone I know besides you. It makes for interesting conversations.
#18 Thank you for working in California all those years. Now I know how hard that must have been.
#19 Thank you for not using a condom the time you and Mom had sex that led to my conception
#20 Thank you for quitting smoking years ago instead of waiting
#21 Thank you for all your richly exaggerated stories. I learned from the Master
#22 And most importantly, thank you for not killing your brother-in-law all those times you wanted to and didn't. I'd hate to have had to visit you at the Pen.

I am an Astrocreep

I remember when I was in my early 20's how I thought that the world was this unfair place and how I couldn't change it. I had just gotten back from an LDS mission to Costa Rica and returned to my country, which I deeply deeply love, to find that it wasn't as perfect as I remembered.

While in Costa Rica I realized that Americans are rude. We talk loud, dress provacatively or poorly, and think that money can solve any problem. My skin tans easily and after two years residence in Costa Rica many people thought I was Costa Rican. For you doubters, please know that most Costa Ricans have no mestizo blood so the people look like they are from Spain or Portugal, many with blue eyes even. Towards the end of my time there, I had a companion from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala and went into a film store in downtown San José. While we were in the store, and American couple came in and wanted to buy some special batteries for their expensive camera. The employee spoke English well, but with a very think accent. The lady asked something like, "Do you have a battery for a Minolta blah blah blah." He said, "Yes ma'am I have it but it's at another location, let me call them and have them run it over." She turned to her husband and said, "I can't understand him, I don't speak Spanish." I could see the hurt in his eyes. The employee understood her, she just wasn't listening. He had a thick accent, but it was certainly easier to understand than say a thick Scottish or Jamaican accent. She turned back to him, and this is what pains me to recount, and said the same thing, just really loud. As if saying something louder would help someone understand a foreign language. At this point I realized that she was crushing this man's pride, so I stepped in and "translated" for her. I also realized that Americans were rude. I saw several church groups down to help the Ticos build churches or fight dengue fever by getting rid of standing water--the kids were rude and obnoxious and mostly toxic to those around them. American tourists thought that they could buy whatever they wanted. American expatriate retirees, in my experience mostly dirty old men, would move there and use their money and the privileges it brings to attract an endless string of teenage/20-something girlfriends. Obviously there are good polite Americans, but even most (but not all) of the Peace Corps workers that I knew were disillusioned with what they were doing.

When I came home I found a lazy country in suburban Atlanta. I found a spoiled land of people who expected luxury and felt entitled to the finer things--a nation of what David Brooks calls "Bourgeois Bohemians" in his book Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, or people who desperately want to be a Bobo no matter the interest rate nor crushing debt load. No one really suffers here. Life is always sustained. There is no fear of epidemic or malnutrition on a broad scale. Some people may not have enough to eat here, but I really feel that if it's an adult, they need to work harder, and if it's a child, their parents need an asswhipping. There's no excuse here for not being able to sustain your life and the lives of your family. In Latin America, that's not always the case, and I realized that very shortly after my return.

I live in a city dying because of three generations and counting of entitlement politics. Today at church I had the task of dealing with a woman who leeches off of any system that she can attach herself to, but who still doesn't "get enough." It seems that someone called DeFaCS on her because her children don't have enough to eat and for awhile had no electricity. Her boys are good boys, amazingly good considering their environment. She can't be that bad of a mother considering how they turned out, but still there have been times when I've contemplated contacting the authorities over how she was raising her children. I won't elaborate, but let's just say that if I did this to my kid, my parents would come and take Marley from me and not give her back until I got my act together. Nothing criminal, just damned irresponsible, things that she's done, and not done. Anyway, I told her, and this is the absolute honest truth, that the Church hadn't reported her, nor did I know who might have done so.

So, at the end of the Relief Society meeting today she stood up and announced to all the sisters that someone "from this church" had reported her to DeFaCS. This of course made it sound like we the Church had formally done it. All of the investigators and recent converts of course were upset by this. Though if you're worried that someone might call DeFaCS on you, isn't that a good thing? To make you get your act together?

I then had to have a 45 minute conversation with this sister about how she can't make a statement like that at church because it made it sound like the Church proper had done it, instead of an individual acting of their own accord and freewill. Personally, whoever it was was 1) hopefully looking out for the best interests of the children and not doing it to get back at her for whatever reason, and 2) I would really really love to scold the person who reported her for doing it and not telling us that she had done it for the following reasons:

A. The two boys are good kids and we need to make sure that they are taken care of properly.
B. They had to have known that she would come to church and cause a scene, had they told us beforehand we could have "headed her off at the pass" so to speak.
C. Anonymous reporting while a good thing in some cases, is bad if you are not intimately aware of all the issues at stake.
D. Foster care is far worse a situation than the one these kids live in right now.

I hate it when people expect others to do things for them. It's far too easy to ask someone to take away our pain, our stuggles, our tareas de enfrente. When Nephi broke his bow in the wilderness, he didn't despair; he made another one. When the Lord commanded him to build ships to carry his family to the New World, he didn't ask, "And just how and I supposed to do that, pray tell?" He asked the Lord to show him where he could find ore that he could make into tools so that he could build the boat. I find myself far too often asking the Lord to doing something for me. My prayers, when I remember to say them, usually sound like this, "Heavenly Father, please bless that I can stop cussing" or "that I can feel the Spirit more." My prayers should sound like this, "please bless that the Spirit will show me how to best stop cussing" or "that the Spirit will show me what steps to take to better myself." I am not entitled to anything but life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness--the pursuit, not happiness itself, but just the pursuit of it. Pursuing means chasing. Men are that they might have joy. Not that they have joy automatically, but that they might. All blessings are predicated on righteousness. Entitlement will enslave you to your desires and vices. If you want something, get up off your ass and get to work. Expecting someone to do it for you makes you weak, it corrupts you; it makes you idle and slothful.

When I used to feel like this, not so long ago, a little White Zombie, the Offspring, Rage Against the Machine, or 7Mary3 and their angry rhythms would calm me down: Music soothes even the savage beast. That same music now just sounds like racket to me when I'm angry. I still like most of that music, but it has a different effect on me now. Today I feel sort of like I did when I was a 20 something all alone and impoverished while in school. I had no outlet for my feelings, my frustrations, my pent up sexual desires. I walked around for years with a lump in the back of my throat, in that same place from which sobs originate when you cry. I wrote some bad poetry, I prayed a lot, went to every movie that came out, ate too much, and I did some stupid things thinking that a little sin wouldn't hurt me. Time has since softened me, and my wife restored me to full health. This angst I feel after such a chaotic day at church will fade. I don't need angry music to help me escape from this feeling. Knowing that I have a loving wife and a tender child at home is enough. If that doesn't works, I can always pop in Bob Marley's Legend album and let a little reggae satisfy my soul.

Friday, June 17, 2005

My valve is closing!*

So, my daughter Marley is puking everything she takes in back up. She puked at our Stake's jubilee celebration in the parking lot. Poor thing didn't even get to jump around in the Moonwalk inflatable trampoline they rented for the party. We left early because she wasn't feeling well. We stopped at Wendy's to get some dinner and she puked in the drive-thru all over her car seat. We got home and I went to give her a priesthood blessing and she puked on the bed. After I gave her the blessing she hasn't puked again, and hopefully in the morning she'll be okay. She did take in some Coca-Cola before she went to sleep. Hopefully it'll stay in long enough to be absorbed.

Our parents all did this for us, and theirs for them. Cleaning up vomit is an act of love. Sorry Mom.

* Ignatius says hi

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Etowah High School

I graduated from Etowah High School in June of 1992, having begun my studies there in the Fall of 1988. During my tenure, I came to know five teachers that impacted my life and are in some way responsible for who I am today. They are, in no particular order:

Jan Lee (Spanish, all 4 years)
Carol Merritt (AP US History, APP Economics)
Mrs. Hunsucker (Trigonometry)
Mrs. Hayes (Homeroom)
Jeff Brammlet (World History, Football Coach)

I had Mrs. Lee for 4 years of Spanish and she was my friend. She was up on the stage when I graduated, and it was her job to hold us until it was our turn to walk up. When they called my name, I looked at her with tears in my eyes, realizing that I wasn't going to see her anymore, and said, "I love you." Her response as she choked up was, "Damnit Mac" and she pushed me up the stairs. I used to come into her class everyday, lie down in the floor, put my feet up in the seat of my desk and sit through as much class as she would let me that way. Her daily line to me was, "Juanny Mac, get up off the floor, you look like you're giving birth down there." She was my favorite teacher in high school. I disrespected her and called her Jan my senior year. I don't know where my manners were.

I had Mrs. Merritt over the course of two years. She told us that if she ever got below a 5 on the AP US History exam, she would retire. I learned more from her than I ever did in a college history class. She tolerated my immature behavior and I still remember her classy lady Southern accent. She and Mrs. Lee are the kind of people who are where I'm from. We have accents and we're educated, playing against all the stereotpyes that Yankees and Hollywood brand us with. I got a 4 on the exam, allowing me to skip all US History in college. Mrs. Merritt was an excellent teacher.

I had Mrs. Hunsucker for Trigonometry, the hardest class I took in high school. I got tease her and really get to her. She was great. She gave me an assigned seat by her desk as a senior because my friends Norm Sandridge, Paul Dunn, and I couldn't keep quiet sitting next to each other. She has now retired.

Mrs. Hayes was my homeroom teacher. I was never brave enough to brave Calculus so I never had her for a teacher. She wasn't that much older than us, but she was a nice lady. I hope she's doing well.

Jeff Brammlett was a history teacher first who happened to coach football on the side. His class was hard. I was put in Mrs. Terza's class second semester of my freshman year, and I went and saw the Vice Principal to get my class changed back to his. When Dr. McBraer asked me why, thinking it was because I was a football player, I pulled out an outline of all the reasons why I thought I could learn more in Coach Brammlett's class. Dr. McBraer signed the slip and I went into the class straigtaway. When I knocked on the door, Coach was unbelieving. He couldn't believe that I had pulled it off, and that I wanted to be in his class. He made it even harded for me and I learned more because of it. He was a great teacher.

So, last night I went out to dessert with Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Merritt, and Mrs. Collins (I never had her for a teacher, but I remember her) here in New Orleans. I know it's the polite thing to say, but they don't seem to have aged at all. They still are real people, with accents, stories to tell about me, and the same enthusiasm that I remember so well. Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Merritt are now retired after 30 years. I'm getting very old. We sat and talked and told stories. I only wish I could be around them more.

See, that's the problem with school. We spend all our lives with people and then one day, we're all gone--scattered to the wind in a War Eagle Diaspora where we all lose touch, move on, and then maybe get together at some overpriced swanky party a few years down the road. There are some people that I wish I still had contact with from school: Francisco Zuleta, Warren Grubb, Matthew Nunn, Jon Bob Wesselmann, Eric Pogrelis, Carl "Srigley" Pyrdum. I miss these people. Not that we were great friends necessarily, but I miss the friendship and commraderie that I had being around them. The only people from high school that I keep in regular contact with are my friends Paul Dunn, Dr. Norm Sandridge, Dr. Renae (Rosenfeld) Weinick, Malissa Allen, Martin Isaksen, and on occassion Dr. Darren Pittard.

School, I'm still in it. Nostalgia could kill a man if he let it.

Mr. Joe Swann--had a heart attack and a stroke the same day. While recovering, diagnosed with colon cancer--deceased.

Mr. Alan Prichard--died from rabies, HOLY CRAP! The man was a genius and he wore the same pants every day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

And not soon enough

According to this article:

We are almost ready to launch the Space Shuttle again. It's about time. I'd hope we could accelerate our space flights. I'd double NASA's budget. Let's get this show on the road. The Space Station is a great idea, and we should be aggressively pursuing other projects in space and low costs ways of boosting things into orbit. I for one think that the vastness of space is an excellent place for us to expand. This post is sophomoric, but I'm just wanting to write something.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Pornography and Hypocrisy

Why do media outlets think that they are E! or Inside Edition lately? I get sick of headlines about things that don't matter. If I want entertainment news, I'll go to and read the comments on a story. Mainstream media needs to shape up.

Case in point: CNN and many other news outlets felt the need today to run a story about a porn star named Mary Carey attending a GOP fundraiser.

FoxNews thankfully only mentions her attendance in passing:,2933,159445,00.html

Funny how the press will make a big deal out of a porn star attending a dinner and yet make no mention of the likely consumption of porn by the other attendees. One thing's for certain, many people at that dinner will be able to really know what she looks like under that dress.

Me quedo yo varado en Varadero, en la playa y en el sol

SIGH! If it's going to be hot like it is, I'd rather be here.

Lynchburg, Tennessee

According to this article:

The Senate has officially apologized for doing nothing to stop lynchings in our country for many years. I wish that politicians would spend less time apologizing for shit that happened before any of them were old enough to remember.

How far can we take this? Lynchburg, Tennessee certainly needs a name change and right away. The name is offensive. Merrill Lynch cannot maintain that their corporate name doesn't have racial and racist overtones. Jessica Lynch almost saw her name made verb.

Too much apologizing, not enough doing or fixing. If they really want to make amends for inaction in the past, they'll never bring this crap up again and let the past be the past.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Smooth criminal

He's bat shit crazy, but he's also not guilty. Michael Jackson is not guilty. I had a reasonable doubt. The people were out to get him. That's not saying he didn't do that crap to someone else. I'm just saying that there were too many doubts in my mind about what the people testified about.

In honor of the acquittal, let's read some old lyrics:

As he came into the window
It was the sound of a crescendo
He came into her apartment
He left the bloodstains on the carpet
She ran underneath the table
He could see she was unable
So she ran into the bedroom
She was struck down, it was her doom

Annie are you ok
So, annie are you ok
Are you ok, annie
Annie are you ok
So, annie are you ok
Are you ok, annie
Annie are you ok
So, annie are you ok
Are you ok, annie
Annie are you ok
So, annie are you ok, are you ok, annie

(annie are you ok)
(will you tell us that you’re ok)
(there’s a sign in the window)
(that he struck you-a crescendo annie)
(he came into your apartment)
(he left the bloodstains on the carpet)
(then you ran into the bedroom)
(you were struck down)
(it was your doom)


So they came into the outway
It was sunday-what a black day
Mouth to mouth resus-citation
Sounding heartbeats-intimidations


(annie are you ok)
(will you tell us that you’re ok)
(there’s a sign in the window)
(that he struck you-a crescendo annie)
(he came into your apartment)
(he left the bloodstains on the carpet)
(then you ran into the bedroom)
(you were struck down)
(it was your doom)

(annie are you ok)
(so, annie are you ok)
(are you ok annie)
(you’ve been hit by)
(you’ve been struck by-
A smooth criminal)

(annie are you ok)
I don’t know!
(will you tell us, that you’re ok)
I don’t know!
(there’s a sign in the window)
I don’t know!
(that he struck you-a crescendo annie)
I don’t know!
(he came into your apartment)
I don’t know!
(left bloodstains on the carpet)
I don’t know why baby!
(then you ran into the bedroom)
I don’t know!
(you were struck down)
(it was your doom-annie!)
(annie are you ok)
Dad gone it-baby!
(will you tell us, that you’re ok)
Dad gone it-baby!
(there’s a sign in the window)
Dad gone it-baby!
(that he struck you-a crescendo annie)
Hoo! hoo!
(he came into your apartment)
Dad gone it!
(left bloodstains on the carpet)
Hoo! hoo! hoo!
(then you ran into the bedroom)
Dad gone it!
(you were struck down)
(it was your doom-annie!)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

for life's not a paragraph / And death i think is no parenthesis

So, my daughter Marley just turned three a couple of weeks ago, and lately we've been telling her that she's a big girl now because she's three. Potty training is stressing her out lately, and yesterday when she was worn out and needed a nap, she was hanging from the bars on our treadmill and Mickelle and I were lying on the bed when we had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: You're a big girl now so you can go poopoo in the potty.
Mommy: Yeah you're 3 years old.
Marley: No, I'm 2.
Mommy: No, you're 3.
Marley (crying): No, I don't wanna be 3 (pronounced "free"), I wanna be 2.
Me: You can't ever be 2 again. I'm 31, that's three, one.
Marley: You can't have my 3, it's mine. How old is Mommy?
Me: She's 29, that's two, nine.
Marley: She has my two, give it back, I want it (crying all the while).
--various reiterations of the same thing occurred for the next few minutes.

Mickelle and I couldn't help but crack up. Poor thing doesn't want all the pressures and responsibilities of being 3, she'd rather go back to the good life of 2. Also, her thinking that the number 2 belonged to her was just too cute. I love her so much.

We had Stake Conference today. We are getting a new counselor in the Branch Presidency. They told him that they were calling him to be the 2nd Counselor. If that's the case, I may have to be made a High Priest, because the new counselor is already one and I don't think I can be a presiding counselor if he holds a higher office in the priesthood. Whenever it's time to get interviewed for a calling or the priesthood, I always feel unworthy, even though I'm doing pretty well right now, I still feel guilty, like it shouldn't be me. I guess everyone has these feelings. How did Jesus remain perfect? That's the greatest miracle of them all.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Less of me to go around

South Beach Diet Update: I started this diet on January 17, 2005 and I am still on it. I imagine that I'll be on it for life now as it really isn't that hard to do, and if you cheat it's not hard to start it back up again.

Weight on 1-17-05: 440 lbs.
Weight on 6-11-05: 379.6 lbs.
-60.4 lbs.

I've lost over 60 lbs on the South Beach Diet. I'm still a very fat man, but I actually feel like I will keep losing weight. I'm not discouraged. I can wear old clothes that I haven't worn in ages. I've punched two new holes in my belt to hold my shorts up. It's very empowering. My wife is also on the diet and has lost more weight percentage wise than I have. The only bad thing is that her boobs have shrunk from a DDD to just a DD.

If and when I get down to the 100 lbs. lost weight of 340 lbs., I'm going to give my 6X shirts and size 60 shorts to charity. If I ever get below 300 lbs., I'm going to.....I need to meditate on that one.

Next update will be in 2 months or if I get below 370 lbs. before then.

Friday, June 10, 2005

This is why Tim Boisvert is my best friend!

He went to the Costa Rica vs. USA World Cup Qualifier in Salt Lake and wrote First on the Moon on this face. That's some funny shiite and exactly my sense of humor. I served my LDS mission in Costa Rica, so it's even funnier to me.

On a side note, Franklin Chang-Diaz is a Costa Rican born astronaut and has a doctorate from MIT in like Thermal Plasma Dynamics or some impossibly complex subject. The Ticos consider him one of their own even though he hasn't lived there in ages. He's never been to the moon though.

I love Tim like a brother.

My responsibilities (from most important to least)

This is mainly an exercise for me so I can see what I should be doing right now.

#1 Husband -- My first responsibility is to my wife. I must protect her, provide for her, defend her honor, love her, cherish her, satisfy her, listen to her, help her, comfort her. This is a huge responsibility.
#2 Father -- An insanely close second. By creating a child I have created the single thing capable of bringing me the most joy and the most pain imaginable. She is mine forever now.
#3 Graduate Student -- I'm getting a Ph.D. in Latin-American Literature. I've passed my prospectus defense. I should be writing my dissertation now. I'm $45k soon to be $60k in debt to student loans to pay for the education. Fulfilling this responsibility applies to numbers 1 & 2 also.
#4 Instructor -- I teach Spanish at Tulane University and as such I have a professional responsibility to do my best at all times. The laborer must be worthy of his hire. To not to do my best is to rob my employer.
#5 Son -- I have a responsibility to help my parents as they helped me. I have responsibility to my Heavenly Father to do what He commands, and to fulfill most of the other of these responsibilities.
#6 Grandson -- My three surviving grandparents may invoke their age and my respect for them at any time and ask me for my help. I love all three of them infinitely.
#7 2nd Counselor in the Uptown Branch Presidency -- The Branch President, David Van Dam, has assured himself a place in the Celestial Kingdom already. He's just hanging out here to help us get there too. His epilepsy means that he relies on me. I consider it an honor to serve him, and thus serve the Lord at the same time. There is nothing he could ask me to do that I would not drop everything to go and do, because I believe that he is inspired, and thus his requests come from the Spirit, which means it comes from Heavenly Father.
#8 Scoutmaster of Troop #724 SELA BSA Council -- I am a poor (in quality) Scoutmaster. I was never a scout. I am not physically fit enough to magnify this calling. I don't have the patience for it. I wish someone else had this calling. Especially since Scout Camp is this week and I won't be going. Our boys deserve someone who can be there for them. Responsibilities higher up the list prohibit me from doing more.
#9 Deacon's Quorum Advisor -- I am supposed to help the Deacons run their quorum. As Typann Smith and Brian Van Dam are the only deacons in the branch, it's not too hard.
#10 Home Teacher to 17 families -- This is where I struggle. I've just got too many families. The church's expectation that I visit all of these families each month is unrealistic and if I did it, would be an unfair burden on the rest of my family. Essentially the New Orleans Stake really shouldn't be a stake. We don't have enough priesthood holders to flesh out all the callings. The unit boundaries are somewhat gerrymandered to seemingly make it so that medical students all go to the same lilly-white ward. I believe that my priesthood leadership is inspired, so I don't doubt what we're trying to do. I sustain and support them. I do wish they would clue me in on why my little branch should have to struggle under such a burden when all the yuppie medical students get to attend a fully functional ward, especially when that chapel is less than 7 minutes away from where I live. I will go and do the things the Lord commands me through his servants, but I sometimes wonder why the burden is so heavy on the Uptown Branch.
#11 Melchezidek Priesthood Holder -- I must stand for morality in all places. This is easier said than done. I have the responsibility to live my life in such a way that at any time, if called upon, I could be in the right spirit and frame of mind to administer to someone who is ill. This is an enormous responsibility and one that requires daily activity.
#12 American Citizen -- I must contribute to my country and my society. If I am not productive, I am a burden to society. I haven't yet earned the right of the elderly to let others maintain them because of their past industries. I must work for the common good.
#13 Human -- I live in the world, not just my country. Decisions I make can impact others. I should work towards the good of the world, trying to do the least damage if I must do something at the expense of another.

These are awesome responsibilities. No worse than most people's, but they are mine nonetheless and I feel their weight on me every day.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A(n) Historic Day

Well, since Mickelle is at Girls' Camp all week, I've been left to being a single parent. Luckily, a member of my church named Nikki Allen has taken Marley for a few hours every day this week; I'm grateful to her for her help.

So, since I can sort of experiment with child-rearing techniques without the input, consternation, and second-guessing (I do love her, I promise) of my wife, I've decided to try a unique potty-training approach. For the past three hours my daughter has been naked in the bathtub eating pretzels and popcorn, drinking 7-UP as much as she wants and watching The Incredibles and Pooh's Heffalump movie on our portable DVD player. I bought a kid sized plastic chair yesterday at Walgreen's so she has somewhere to sit, and her potty chair is also in the tub. The idea being that unlimited pretzels and popcorn cause thirst, she can have all the 7-UP she wants, which makes her urinate more frequently than normal. This way she can recognize it and go in the potty chair, which she has done TWICE. I am happy. She did poop right in the middle of the tub though, so my system's not foolproof. To quote Meatloaf, "2 out of 3 ain't bad!"

So, I think I'll let her wear "big girl undies" all night until it's time for bed, and then I'll but a pull-up diaper on her. She still needs some practice, and I dread, repeat dread, cleaning schnit out of sheets.

So, I promised her a book for each time she went peepee in the potty. She refuses to get out of the tub because she wants more books. My daughter loves books. She likes reading them, destroying them, throwing them, having them read to her, looking at drawings.

So, I just love her I guess.


I sound like Lisa Loeb.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Storm Is Brewing

I'm sitting in my house in Uptown, New Orleans, and it sounds like a war is going on. There is lightning and thunder and crackles and rumbles. This should be a good one. Hopefully it'll cool things off <>.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Collective Soul and Carcinogens

So, Collective Soul played the House of Blues here in New Orleans tonight. My ears are still ringing from the loud music. The show was excellent, Ed Roland is an excellent showman, Will Tirpin an excellent bassist, Dean Roland an excellent brother and guitarist. They have so many hits that they couldn't play them all. Though I must admit that the latest album is my least favorite, it is still quite good. I could watch Collective Soul sing Tupac songs though and they would still sound good, Ed's voice is up there with Ben Folds's; a beautiful voice that can rock when needed.

So, this lady stands next to Mickelle and me upstairs on the balcony, dead center. During the three hours that we were there, she smoked 12 cigarettes. 12 FARKING cigarettes. She knew that they were bugging me because the smoke was heading straight for my face. Since technically we were in a bar, I couldn't really ask her to not smoke, so I tried subtle clues, like blowing it back at her, getting a piece of cardboard and fanning the ever loving shit out of her, and she kept on smoking, relishing the fact that it was bothering me. I hate it when smokers are rude. I swear next time I go to the House of Blues I'm gonna buy some cheap K-Mart or grocery store cologne and just start spraying it in the air towards people who are smoking. I'd rather have cheap perfume smell on me than the possible death in a stick smoke of tobacco wafting all around me. I love states that have passed "Clean Air Acts" like Utah, California, and New York. Oh that Louisiana would follow suit! I stink, my throat hurts, my eyes burn, all because this fat (I'm fat so I can call someone else fat, that's how it works), unkempt, greasy haired woman could get her fix. I HATE SMOKERS. It's one of the most selfish things to do. The very fact that we let people light fires inside buildings and produce smoke boggles my mind. It beggars description. It does not compute.

Also, let me further say that the opening act, Silvertide, were the biggest bunch of hyperactive, posing, posturing, trying to be the Black Crowes crossed with the Strokes, talented, and completely moronic bunch of assholes I've ever seen take the stage. We were treated to such gems as "Foxhole Jesus Christ" and the crown jewel of their repetoire, "So FV(KING CRAZY". Yes, that was the chorus and the majority of the lyrics. I especially love it when stupid little 20 year old white kids talk about partying like it's the coolest thing ever, how booze, pot, and sex are harmless and all in good fun. The highlight of the show was the lead singer climbing up to the balcony and then humping, yes humping (as in simulating sex with) a pew. I actually turned my back to the stage and refused to pay them any more attention. Attention whores that they were. If they stopped trying to be cool and just played some music and paid someone to write them better lyrics, they would be excellent. They are very talented, too bad they're pissing it all away on childish behavior. Let their work speak for itself, stop adlibing.

Shame on Collective Soul for choosing them to go on tour with them.

I know I'm getting old and lame: when all this crap happened to us tonight, I couldn't wait to get home and write and bitch and moan about it in my blog. I'm becoming someone I hate, yet I'm so becoming.

Monday, June 06, 2005

I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?

And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the rain? We got four inches of rain today. I was out in it all day too. I took the missionaries to Sam's Club at 10, to the Academy Drive Chapel, then I went to the post office, followed by the M. Clayton Brown Estate Auction to pick up what I won, and the bottom fell out of the sky. It was a doozy of a storm. I eventually got my car loaded with all the books I won and made it home. Later on my friend Mike Lindsey needed my help moving--it rained on us too. Mike took his Step 1 Medical School exam today and his newly pregnant wife is out of town, so he not only needed my help, but a buddy to talk to.

I'm going to see Collective Soul in concert tomorrow at the House of Blues here in New Orleans. It should be interesting to see how well they do without Ross Childress on lead guitar. He was amazing and I've still never been able to figure out why they fired him from the band.

When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads, they might as well be dead, when the rain comes.

Friday, June 03, 2005

My landlord sucks

I have two landlords. The true landlord is Elise and she is in her 80s, tempermental and perhaps the last two syllables of that penultimate adjective to boot. The person with whom I have to deal most frequently is her daughter Cheri. She is the most incurious, obtuse, capricious, detached, and insensitive person I have ever known in a business relationship. Our upstairs neighbor just graduated and Cheri is trying to rent the place--which ain't gonna happen as it stands right now. She has raised our rent from $850 to $900, but she's raised the upstairs rent from $900 to $1200. She's smoking crack if she thinks that some medical student can afford that much.

Anyway, the reason I'm ticked is manifold. This morning at about 8AM she finally came by to check out the upstairs so our old neighbor, Jen Gurski, now a Dr. and a Captain in the Army, and a really wonderful person too, could get her deposit back. Well, I went outside to talk to Cheri and ask her to get us a new contract since we've already paid the new rent for June but haven't yet received a contract. She's gone, but the door to the upstairs was standing wide open. I closed it.

We go take Marley to see Madagascar, and when we come home, this big box of Mardi Gras beads is sitting right in front of our door when it had been pushed up next to the wall. All my potted plants that are out on the porch were down on the ground. She took my hanging plants down, moved my garbage can to the side of the house, moved around a bunch of stuff on my porch, and didn't leave me a note nor a new bloody contract. I called her and she told me that I can't have my trash can on the front porch anymore. Nevermind the fact that our neighborhood isn't the nicest place and my wife won't feel comfortable taking the trash out if she has to go outside at night when I'm not here, but she touched me stuff. That's a bunch of crap. She never does anything we ask her to. When the garbade disposal broke once, she told us that she didn't believe in them. We had to raise hell to get her to fix it. She is a shitty landlord and if anyone asks me about her that's thinking of renting the place, that's what I'm going to tell them. I plan to rent to people one day, and I will NEVER be like her. EVER! Luckily we'll only be here one more year.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


I just sold this item on ebay:

and the fees that ebay makes on it are unjust I think.

Well the fees work like this on an item that sells for $124.99. Listing fee for an item over $49.99=$2.40. Gallery (the image you see next to the listing when you do a search)=$.35. Buy it Now fee=$.25. When the item sells they take a graduated 5%, so on $125 that's about $4.06. Then Paypal charges $.30 plus 2.9% of the total amount paid for $4.30. So "feebay" as I sometimes calls it, makes almost 10% of the sale on everything if you pay via paypal. Most auctions require the buyer to pay the 10% buyers premium, but ebay puts that burden on the sellers.

It bugs me that they are awash enough in cash to buy companies left and right (like yesterday), and that their stock keeps splitting 2 for 1 every 24 months, but they continue to raise their fees every February. At some point they will MBA themselves into a bad place. The worst part is that when someone doesn't pay for something, the only refund certain fees, and people don't pay all the time. Like 1 in 20 on my stuff. Ebay is slowly shifting from a place where the individual can sell to a place for businesses to sell off excess inventory. I can still make money, but not like I was 3 years ago.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Kofi Annan is a bad man

According to this article:

Kofi Annan, Duke of the UN, has decided to sack one of his subordinates in the we-all-knew-this-was-coming-years-ago Oil For Food scandal. That so much money could change hands with a despot without there being any graft or illegal profit should have been a given. It blows my mind that we will place an embargo on a country and then let them skirt around it. If you want an embargo to work, make it a damned blockade. Isolate the people, and after a short while, they will revolt and topple the asshole who's causing them to suffer. Letting a dictator sell oil to buy food supposedly, is like asking my wife not to buy a new pair of shoes or a new purse every 3 months--it ain't gonna happen.

The UN has lost its way. Compare the original states and their purposes. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed with no one voting against it. The Soviet Bloc abstained, and Saudi Arabia objected to allowing Muslims to change their religion, but they abstained too. No one voted against it. Fast forward to the modern age, where the end of colonialism has allowed a hundred new nations to join. These are not the highly civilized nations that founded the UN. These are new nations, most of them originally run by dictators who had decidedly different ideas about how the world should treat them. The Sudan in 1994 raised a ruckus because they were being told that they couldn't punish people via crucifixion. Qaddafi was chair of the Human Rights Commission a few years back, a known terrorist!

While I think John Bolton is probably an asskissing asshole, I imagine he'll fit in nicely up there in NYC. Maybe he'll ruffle the right feathers, heaven knows the place needs a shake down. Kofi Annan should resign and go back to the shadows where he belongs. His moral equivalency which is merely the legacy of the organization which raised him, needs to end now. The UN has actually made the world a less safe place by never choosing sides anymore. When there is a clear aggressor, they typically favor the aggressor. It boggles the mind and buggers all reasoning.

When Egypt blockaded Haifa in 1967 that was an act of war, justifying their attack on Egyptian forces. A blockade is an act of war. The UN essentially took Egypt's side, just like they did when Egypt started seizing cargo bound for Israel on ships passing through the Suez Canal in 1950, causing the British and French to invade Egypt.

The UN sucks. I understand why Laverkin, Utah voted to secede from it.