Saturday, February 07, 2009

And Then The Fight Started...

I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, took my order first.

"I'll have the strip steak, medium rare, please."

He said, "Aren't you worried about the mad cow?"

"Nah, she can order for herself."

And then the fight started...

Friday, February 06, 2009

The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

He had a photographic memory that was never developed.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Despite his past denunciations of the “perpetual campaign” — and “political hacks like Karl Rove” — President Barack Obama’s version of change doesn’t include banishing hardball politics from the environs of the Oval Office.

Like presidents before him, Obama has imported pieces of his campaign into the White House, ranging from his own Rove, David Axelrod, to two dozen campaign staffers who will serve as liaisons with agencies. A top Iowa aide, for instance, is moving to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Obama resisted calls to abolish the White House Office of Political Affairs from everyone from his rival, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), installing a well-regarded but low-profile labor operative, Patrick Gaspard, as his political director.

He’s maintaining a giant, novel permanent campaign, Organizing for America, at the Democratic National Committee. And Obama aides Wednesday hinted that they would exact a cost from Republicans who opposed the stimulus, promising to release local jobs numbers in the districts of GOP members of Congress who voted against the plan.

“You can no more take politics out of government than you can take mathematics out of physics — it is the language through which it’s expressed,” said Paul Begala, a former White House aide to President Clinton who’s close to the Obama team. “The question is how you apply it.”

Unlike reformers of both parties, Obama has always honored the practice of politics. Unlike most politicians, he’s always publicly embraced politics as such. He campaigned, in part, on his success in building a political campaign, so it is no surprise that he has kept explicit politics alive in the White House.

In fact, Obama has settled into a model that appears much like former President Bill Clinton’s, and Democrats reacted with raised eyebrows Thursday to Rove’s announcement in the pages of The Wall Street Journal that he was shocked — shocked — to find politics under way in Obama’s West Wing.

Rove’s complaint was that Obama violated tradition by moving the Office of Political Affairs across the street into the White House. Rove was wrong on that point — Clinton’s political staffers also occupied the West Wing.

Rove said in an interview that despite his error on the past office space of the political team, he now sees Obama’s political operation ramping up from the Bush years when — despite allegations that the White House coordinated grants and cabinet visits with congressional campaigns — he said politics was rarely on his mind.

"Politics took up a small part of my schedule, and I suspect it will take up only a small part of the schedules of Mr. Obama’s senior advisers,” Rove said. "There’s a White House political director thinking about politics 20 hours a day so West Wing staff only think about it half an hour a day."

That is not, to put it mildly, how most Democrats viewed Rove’s work, and Obama’s allies say Axelrod will shrink the White House role occupied by Rove.

“Rove was everywhere,” said Bill Clinton’s first campaign manager, James Carville. “David seems to be signaling that he’s going to have a narrower role. Rove would have never brought a Rahm in,” he said, referring to the muscular White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

And Obama hasn’t given him Rove’s broad portfolio: Axelrod, unlike Rove, doesn’t have a large staff reporting to him, and Gaspard won’t work directly for Axelrod, but rather for a deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina.

Gaspard will also be among the aides coordinating with Organizing for America, the Democratic National Committee, and other powerful outside groups, like the labor-backed, pro-stimulus umbrella organization Americans United for Change, which is already running ads targeting Republican senators.
Obama has not brought his own campaign apparatus to bear in the stimulus fight, and his aides have downplayed the suggestion that he would turn his supporters against specific members of Congress — something that could backfire on Capitol Hill. But Obama’s aides retain a message machine that will bypass old and new media to reach some 13 million supporters directly, and Obama’s style is to push lawmakers with his message as much as with traditional arm-twisting.

“I think you will see a White House political affairs shop that will do everything it can to protect and promote the Obama brand, and tries to leverage the Obama brand to impact external audiences in a big broad way, and will then have a trickle-down effect and impact elected officials,” said Chris Lehane, another former Clinton aide.

But the White House political office will also remain the brick-and-mortar counterpart of the Web-centric campaign organization, communicating with Obama’s outside supporters who require more than a mass email.

“I don’t expect Dorothy Height to have to go to her computer,” said Minyon Moore, Clinton’s last political director, referring to the nonagenarian civil rights figure. “Dorothy Height has a right to a phone call.”

"Elevator Ad" Script

Another American has lost his job.
Another breadwinner going home with the bad news.
Last year, two and a half million Americans lost jobs.
High-tech, construction and auto workers; engineers.
Yet, with millions of Americans jobless, our government is still bringing in a million and a half foreign workers a year to take American jobs.
Could your job be next?

On February 2, 2009, NumbersUSA with the Coalition for the Future American Worker launched the above "elevator ad" in an extended nationwide educational campaign on cable TV.

The purpose of the ad is to inform the public of two government statistics that, when placed together, show an outrageous participation of our federal government in increasing the numbers of unemployed Americans.

The two statistics from last year?

* 2.5 million Americans lost jobs
* The federal government brought in 1.5 million new foreign workers to take jobs

NumbersUSA has been doing everything in its power the last three months to persuade the nation's political leaders and media leaders to address this incongruous policy. Yet to date, there has been no indication whatsoever of a slow-down in importing an average of 138,000 new foreign workers each month -- even as half-million Americans a month are losing jobs.

The fact is that U.S. immigration policies are on automatic pilot. It doesn't matter how terrible the economy becomes -- it doesn't matter that more than 11 million Americans are looking for a job and can't find one. No matter what, businesses can still seek to cut their labor costs by bringing in as many foreign workers as they did when the economy was booming.

The feds will keep cranking out 138,000 new work permits and green cards EACH MONTH to working-age foreign adults unless Congress and the President decide to change current policies so that they serve the interests of American workers.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I believe -

The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Groundhog is another name for Woodchuck. This rodent is a type of marmot. These solitary mammals hibernate (sleep through winter) in burrows. Groundhogs are found in North America in forests and fields.

Anatomy: A groundhog grows up to 17 inches (43 cm) long. It has a tail that is about 5 inches (13 cm) long. This mammal has a bulky body and short limbs. The fur is brown-gray and the eyes are black. The hands and feet are black and have sharp, sturdy claws. Like all rodents, their incisor teeth continue to grow throughout their entire life.

Diet: Groundhogs/woodchucks are mostly herbivores (plant-eaters). They eat grass, seeds, leaves, flowers, fruit, eggs, and some insects.

Predators: Groundhogs/woodchucks are hunted by many animals, including wolves, dogs, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and humans. Groundhogs cannot move very quickly, so their best defense is to retreat into their burrows. Keen eyesight and hearing help warn groundhogs of predators approaching.

Classification: Class Mammalia (mammals), Order Rodentia (rodents), Family Sciuridae (ground squirrels), Genus Marmota (marmots), species M. monax.

Groundhog Day 2009

It's six more weeks of winter, so says Punxsutawney Phil, inarguably the most famous of all groundhogs.

Fun Facts About Groundhogs

The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long.

Groundhogs are covered with coarse grayish hairs (fur) tipped with brown or sometimes dull red. They have short ears, a short tail, short legs, and are surprisingly quick. Their jaws are exceptionally strong.

A groundhog's diet consists of lots of greens, fruits, and vegetables and very little water. Most of their liquids come from dewy leaves.

A groundhog can whistle when it is alarmed. Groundhogs also whistle in the spring when they begin courting.

Insects do not bother groundhogs and germs pretty much leave them alone. They are resistant to the plagues that periodically wipe out large numbers of wild animals. One reason for this is their cleanliness.

Groundhogs are one of the few animals that really hibernate. Hibernation is not just a deep sleep. It is actually a deep coma, where the body temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing, the heart barely beats, the blood scarcely flows, and breathing nearly stops.

Young Groundhogs are usually born in mid-April or May, and by July they are able to go out on their own. The size of the litter is 4 to 9. A baby groundhog is called a kit or a cub.

A groundhog's life span is normally 6 to 8 years. Phil receives a drink of a magical punch every summer during the annual Groundhog Picnic, which gives him 7 more years of life.

Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the holiday:

. Yes! Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just impostors.

. How often is Phil's prediction correct? 100% of the time, of course!

. How many "Phils" have there been over the years? There has only been one Punxsutawney Phil. He has been making predictions for over 120 years!

. Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking the "elixir of life," a secret recipe. Phil takes one sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life.

. On February 2, Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler's Knob - in front of thousands of followers from all over the world - to predict the weather for the rest of winter.

. According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

. No! Phil's forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2, he speaks to the Groundhog Club president in "Groundhogese"(a language only understood by the current president of the Inner Circle). His proclamation is then translated for the world.

. The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania's earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states, "For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May..."

. Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800s. The first official trek to Gobbler's Knob was made on February 2, 1887.

. So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br'er Groundhog.

History of Groundhog Day

European Roots

(Adapted from "Groundhog Day: 1886 to 1992" by Bill Anderson)

Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.

If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.

If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

According to an old English song:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

According to an old Scotch couplet:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be twa (two) winters in the year.

Another variation of the Scottish rhyme:

If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o' winter to come and mair,
If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
The half of winter's gone at Yule.

The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, supposedly brought this tradition to the Teutons, or Germans, who picked it up and concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal, the hedgehog, would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather, which they interpolated as the length of the "Second Winter."

Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were Germans and they found groundhogs to in profusion in many parts of the state. They determined that the groundhog, resembling the European hedgehog, was a most intelligent and sensible animal and therefore decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.

The Germans recited:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.

This passage may be the one most closely represented by the first Punxsutawney Groundhog Day observances because there were references to the length of shadows in early Groundhog Day predictions.

Another February 2nd belief, used by American 19th century farmers, was:

Groundhog Day - Half your hay.

New England farmers knew that we were not close to the end of winter, no matter how cloudy February 2nd was. Indeed, February 2nd is often the heart of winter. If the farmer didn't have half his hay remaining, there may have been lean times for the cows before spring and fresh grass arrived.

The ancient Candlemas legend and similar belief continue to be recognized annually on February 2nd due to the efforts of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

Growing Fame
Groundhog Day Movie

From offering support of political events, to rooting for area sports teams, to becoming the star of a Hollywood movie, Punxsutawney Phil has increasingly been in the public eye.

Early observances of Phil's predictions were conducted privately in the wooded areas that neighbor the town. Today's celebration sees tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world as revelers await Phil's appearance as most fans wait to see their favorite rock stars.

The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper is credited with printing the news of the first observance in 1886 (one year before the first legendary trek to Gobbler's Knob):

"Today is groundhog day, and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen his shadow."

Over the course of Phil's appearances, Phil has had numerous noteworthy highlights:

During Prohibition Phil threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn't allowed a drink.

In 1958 Phil announced that it was a "United States Chucknik," rather than a Soviet Sputnik or Muttnik that became the first man-made satellite to orbit Earth.

In 1981 Phil wore a yellow ribbon in honor of the American hostages in Iran.

Phil traveled to Washington DC in 1986 to meet with President Reagan. He was joined by Groundhog Club President Jim Means, Al Anthony and Bill Null.

Phil met Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburg in 1987.

In 1993, Columbia Pictures released the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.

Phil appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1995.

In the years following the release of the movie, record crowds numbering as high as 30,000 have visited Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney!

In 2001, Phil's prediction was shown live on the JumboTron at Times Square in New York City.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell attended the ceremonies, making him the first sitting governor ever to do so.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Give that shy guy a chance.

It might turn out better than you expect. Studies show that who we think is the “best catch” isn’t always the best partner. People who are skilled in social situations are less satisfied and committed in relationships than those who are awkward. So while that goofy guy in accounting isn’t Romeo, chances are he’ll be a happy, loyal hubby.

I found the above somewhere online and thought there was a lot of truth in it. Perhaps the reason those "best catch" people aren't as happy in relationships is because they are wondering if they are with the second best, meaning that someone "better" or more suited to them is still out there, waiting to meet them.

The less skilled person is happy knowing that someone loves them and is willing to put forth the effort into maintaining the relationship. I can speak from experience.

And remember, that shy, awkward guy (or girl) in high school? Remember the bookish "nerds" who did well in academics but were overlooked by the more popular girls because they were "nerds" (insert your favorite word replacement-you know what I'm talking about)? And let's not be sexist here; girls can be shy, awkward, and nerdish too (again, I speak from experience). The high school nerd grows up to own the company that the jocks and cheerleaders later report to as employees. Not always, of course. Some of the nerds become doctors, scientists, academics, writers, the list goes on. It works the other way too. The shy, awkward high schooler can be the janitor, clerk -typist, or other so-called "menial" peon in any organization. You might be the one to bring them out of their shell and help them find their inner beauty.

If you just can't see yourself with someone who is shy and awkward (this can be at any age, by the way), be nice. We have feelings too. I'm a firm believer in karma: what goes around, comes around.

Valentine's Day is coming up. If you're single give that shy, awkward guy or gal a second look. They may be "The One".