PETA Again?

Obama and the Fly. Not exactly the stuff of history books. I don’t even think it matches up with the LBJ Beagle incident. lbjbeagleIt made for good comic relief though in news cycle after news cycle of one disaster followed by another finacial crisis, followed by another war threat.

If you missed it, President Obama was being interviewed when he was annoyed by a fly. He manually swatted it, and it wound up lying on the floor. Good reflexes I’d say. Even better than George W. dodging the shoe.We need presidents with good reflexes.

So now here comes PETA, who last week was requesting that fish not be tossed at Veterinarian’s convention. I think they lost that one, so now they decide to flex their muscles and take on the leader of the free world. They announced that they are sending The President a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher.

Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher

Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher

By looking at the thing, I don’t see how he could have caught the fly with it on his arm. But aside from that, I’ve gotta think that PETA has decided that they just haven’t been in the news enough lately.  All I can say is… I don’t know what to say, but hmmm.

I wonder if it wouldn’t  have been better for President Obama to have left the fly for the secret service to wrestle to the ground. After all, it might have been wearing a dynamite vest. It’s their job.

And then I have to ask: Did he wash his hands?!

A Conversation With Jason Earls

I had the opportunity to sit down with local comedian, Jason Earls. This is the podcast of the conversation.

A Conversation With Jason Earls

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Healthcare Reform, Will it Happen? Will it Help?

Okay, the Obama administration is going great guns on health care reform. That’s cool. That’s one of the reasons he got elected. It’s also been tried before. They’ve got the same slogan as Bill and Hill: “Reduce the cost of Health Care.” Not sure what that means these days. In the past, Reduce the Cost of Health Care was code for “Medicare is going to deny more and pay less.” Never reduced my costs any.
All I know is that without health insurance, I’d never be able to afford to go to the doctor. I had hernia surgery nine months ago. At the time, I was double insured between mine and my wifes benefits. If I had to have the surgery today, I couldn’t afford to pay 20% and that’s a simple in and out little hernia repair. I can’t imagine being in the situation of catastrophic illness only to find my insurance doesn’t cover the experimental treatment that may keep me alive. Or how about this? Do I sell the house and stay alive, or do we keep the house so the family still has a home when I croak without the treatment?
It is immoral that health care has become a luxury item.
We tend make the insurance industry the ultimate villain of the story. They certainly aren’t at the top of my list of people who make me feel warm and fuzzy. As much as I like to imagine horrible things happening to them, I can’t let them shoulder the blame alone.
I believe it’s more of an unholy triad that we’re dealing with here: Insurance System, Health Care System, Legal System. As much as I like to point at insurance, I also have to ask “Who says Health Care should charge so much?” I know there are overhead issues. A doctor’s office has to hire several people just to deal with the various insurance companies. I know that malpractice insurance costs an arm and a leg. Without malpractice insurance, the obscene award given for just one “pain and suffering” case could close an office. It’s a vicious cycle.
For years, insurance just paid without saying a word. This led to a culture of over treating, prescribing anything and everything, whether the patient needed it or not. After all, the patient wasn’t paying, so what the heck. Eventually, Insurance figured out that they needed to stop paying so much. About the same time, all sorts of medical offices ceased to be run by medical people, but by business people. Guess whose interests went down a peg? If you guessed the patients, you get a hearty handshake and a pat on the back. As a former member of the health care industry, I watched, as forms being filled out accurately become more important to the bean counters, than whether or not the patient got what they needed. Of course the office needed to get paid, or I would get no paycheck. It was sad though, that a larger percentage of the day was going toward paperwork and billing.
I believe in accountability, that a patient who has been a victim of malpractice has the right t satisfaction. Having said that, I also believe that there have been some severely irresponsible awards given. This drives up medical overhead. It makes the lawyers richer and costs me more for a doctor visit. Or it costs the insurance company more which makes my premium higher.

I don’t claim to have all the answers. If I did, I wouldn’t have time to be doing this. Or maybe I’d be getting paid for doing this.

I think it would be a good Idea if all insurance companies had to be non-profit organizations. Hospitals too. (Some of them are) It works for Credit Unions. I don’t know why my ten minutes in an MRI machine costs over $1000. Don’t get me started on how pharmaceutical companies can fleece us like they do. I don’t see how just making insurance available to everybody is going to help if most of us can’t afford it. If there isn’t an decrease of what is charged, the insurance companies will cut their cost by denying more, paying less, and increasing my premiums. If there isn’t some sort of limits placed on malpractice awards, doctors won’t be able to lower their overhead. If surgeons don’t charge exorbitant fees for 5 minutes of time… you see what I mean.
Mr President, You’ve got your work cut out for you on this one. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic. I’ll keep praying for you. Read more…

To Toss or Not to Toss

I’m filing this in the “Are You Kidding Me?” File.

The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) is having their annual conference at the Seattle Convention center. That’s just blocks from the Pike Place Market. If you’ve never been to the market, one of the favorite tourist attractions over the years has been the fish throwers.[youtube=]

The AVMA thought it would be fun to have the fish throwing guys come over and do a little tossing for the entertainment of the conference goers.

Seemed like a good idea at the time, but now PETA has had to stick there nose in and request that the AVMA not have the tossers come over with their fish.

“It’s cruel enough to eat fish, but it literally adds insult to injury to use them as toys for silly stunts.” is the reason given for the request.

What?! Do these guys not have more pressing issues to deal with? Whaling? Cosmetic Industry? Medical science animal testing? Michael Vick’s dogs? The fish are dead! Go after the guys that killed them.

I could see if they were tossing live fish that were drowning in air, but protecting the dignity of dead fish? I don’t think any of their relatives will see it on TV, and be horrified by it. If that were the case, I’m sure we would have already seen lawsuits on their behalf.

The thing that bugs me is that the Vets are about to cave in and cancel the fish tossing. Whatever.

People Eating Tasty Animals

How Did I Remember That?

Funny how the memory works…or doesn’t. The memories of early childhood amaze me. Not the memories themselves, but the randomness of what I do remember from birth to around age 5.robertbaby

The earliest memory was from 18 months or younger. We were living in Germany, where I was born. I have this vivid memory of being dragged around the floor, while sitting on a rug. It was a kid or two doing the dragging. Don’t remember many details, just that it was enjoyable.

My next memories were to come from Houston Texas. We stayed with my paternal Grandmother while my dad attempted a return to college. Most of my Houston memories are on the negative side. I remember burning my bare feet on the sidewalk. I also remember sitting down on an anthill, and being rapidly carried to the bathtub by my mom.

I remember there was boy close to my age next door. His name is on the tip of my brain. I remember that we stood in our respective yards, facing each other. We then simultaneously “whipped it out” and began peeing toward each other. This little recreational activity was severely frowned upon by all of the grownups in out lives.

There was an older kid, a teenager maybe. His name was Homer. He mowed my grandmothers lawn and did other assorted errands.

I also remember that I had an imaginary pet when we lived in Houston. I used to talk to him. He was an elephant and his name was Pinky. I would usually talk to him when my grandmother was trying to nap.

I remember a trip to the circus. There were cannons that scared me. Don’t remember the clowns. Clowns never scared me. On a day at Galveston cowboyBeach, we had to run for cover during a rain storm. On our last day in Houston, a u-haul trailer was packed and ready for our drive to San Francisco. I was excited to show my new basketball to Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim, when we got there. I was pretty upset that I didn’t have it. I had to be constantly reassured that it was really in the trailer. The drive from Houston to San Francisco was quite the adventure. Don’t remember anything except for that a few nights passed, as I slept in the back seat. I don’t remember if we stayed at any motels. I can’t imagine my dad doing it in one shot. (my mom never had a drivers license)

A lot of people that I talk to say they can’t remember anything before age 6 or 8. I don’t know why some of this stuff has stayed with me. I forget what people told me yesterday.

I remember trivia, like the name of Mr Wilson’s dog on the old Dennis The Mennace tv series. Mr Wilson’s Dog?! How in the world did that get stuck in there?  It was Fremont, but who cares? Why in the world can’t I remember something that will do me some good?

I can tell you that my babysitter in San Francisco,when I was 3 and 4,  was named Esther, and her husband was Elmer. But remember to pick up some milk at safeway on the way home from work? Yeah right.

Not Sure I Understand

I was driving through an industrial park area and saw a sign posted that said: “No Street Racing 10:pm – 5:am”. Am I the only one who thinks this is pretty stupid? Does this mean that between 5:01 am and 9:59 pm, street racing is okay? I don’t know if this is county or city, but was it really necessary to spend the money to do this? Or have racers gotten out of their tickets by claiming they thought it was okay after 10 pm?

I think that most people with average reasoning capacity see a speed limit sign and assume that it is against the law to race in that area. If two cars are at the speed limit or below, it isn’t racing, is it? I guess I would be okay with a sign that said no racing if they hadn’t put a time on it.

I’ve seen signs that say blind persons crossing. I wonder how they know.

Then there’s the braile buttons on the drive trough ATM’s. Scary.

Several years ago I bought 2 studded tires for my car. A few years later, I went to the same store to buy another pair of studded tires. I was informed that they are now required to sell them in sets of 4. What?! “It’s a new regulation, a safety issue,” I was assured. Safetry issue eh? Is that why they still sell tire chains in sets of 2? I’m thinking the tire industry has a surprisingly strong lobby in Olympia.

The Old Firm

Rivalries are a part of competitive sports. Here in the U.S. we look at Yankees-Red Sox, Lakers-Celtics, or Giants-Dodgers as classic rivalries. There are rivalry weeks in College football between colleges who usually are in the same state, region, or city. The intensity of these games is generally higher than that found in the rest of the season. The players are psyched. The fans go crazy, and quite often there are alcohol fueled acts of lunacy.
Spots rivalries in this country pale in comparison with The Old Firm. The Old Firm is the name given to the meetings every year between Glasgow’s two Premier League Soccer clubs, Celtic and Rangers.

Feel the Love

Feel the Love

One big difference between the Old Firm and our rivalries is the sectarian component. For reasons best left to your own research, Ranger fans tend to be Protestant, while Celtic are supported by Catholics. This is such a foreign concept to Americans that it is hard to believe. Believe it. It stretches from Glasgow, Scotland across to Northern Ireland, the last bastion of centuries old, and (thankfully) mostly abandoned, violence between Catholics and Protestants.
Let me just state that this rarely has anything to do with how one chooses to worship. Again, do your own research.
Ten years ago, on this weekend, I arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The friends I stayed with live in a community called Andersonstown. 110 miles away in Glasgow, Scotland , The Old Firm was being played. We watched the match on TV. As Andersonstown, is a Republican (or Catholic) Community, my friend is a staunch Celtic supporter. Unfortunately, Rangers won on this day. Oh well, we’ll get em next time, right? Yeah right.

Empty Seats and two rows of police seperate Celtic from Rangers fans

Empty Seats and two rows of police seperate Celtic from Rangers fans

While my friend was disappointed in the result, it didn’t ruin his weekend. He has a life, and had other things to occupy his time with. An hour or so after the match, I walked with him to a friends house in the nearby neighborhood of Lenadoon. We were going to pick up some tools for a home project. A couple blocks from our destination we heard a commotion. As we rounded a corner we saw some cars blocking the street as barricades. We had just come upon the fringes of a small riot going on. Young men, wearing Celtic gear, were dragging bicycle racks across the street, while others were shouting epithets at a line of riot police about 20 yards away up a small hill. My friend told me that most likely, out of our view on the other side of the police line, were Rangers fans who had come to taunt the Celtic fans. Without the police in full riot gear there would have been a drunken bloodbath.
This is in another country across the water from where the game was played.

Side Note: We walked past the Lenadoon riot site an hour or so later. The streets were deserted. No cops, no rioters no barricades. We did receive some scrutiny from three rough looking fellows as we entered the neighborhood. As we got out of earshot, my friend said “Didja see those lads? That was the Ra”
“The who?”
“The IRA. They cleared the street. They don’t wanna give the police an excuse to search any houses around here”

Today I was reminded of what I saw ten years ago. I saw this on BBC Northern Ireland News:
Father killed by ‘sectarian mob’
I was heartsick when I read this. In a small town in a different country a group of drunken thugs used a game as an excuse to carry out a hate crime. I don’t have time tonight to examine the socio-politico-economic causes for the “religious” strife that happens over there. It’s a shame that there were no riot police in Coleraine this weekend.

Those #@%^%** Cuss Words! Part 2

Body parts as “dirty” words puzzle me. Mores change in most cultures. Certain terminology that had been avoided in polite company is now heard in normal conversation. Some see this as moral decline while others see it as linguistic evolution. I probably fall somewhere in the middle.
Certain parts of our body have at least one euphemism that we tend not to use in mixed company. Some have more. Some of these words have other meanings when used in a different context.
Every square centimeter of our bodies is named and illustrated in anatomy books all over the world; even the “dirty” parts.
Generally speaking, the parts of the body that were given vulgar nicknames are the ones that have to do with sex, or waste elimination. There is one part that isn’t directly related to sex or elimination, but has an association with each. Which one do I mean? You’re probably sitting on it.
Nothing elicited more giggling than Judges 15:15, where Samson slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Us kids thought that was great. We even started reading the Bible to look for more dirty words.
We could always get away with calling someone an ass.
“I meant the donkey one!” we’d shout.
I don’t know why using that word to describe one’s Gluteal region was deemed vulgar. Today we’ve softened on our stand against that word. We can talk about kicking ones ass (not the donkey) and not be viewed as too uncouth. On the other hand, if we add the word that, combined with ass, is another word for anus, we are considered to be swearing. We can say ass, but a**h*** is still kinda frowned upon in most of our society. “Butthead” doesn’t even get a second glance anymore. Although most of us instruct our children not to say that. I dare you to call someone an “anal orifice” at the top of your lungs and see what kind of looks you get.
Genitalia probably have more nicknames than you could shake a stick at. The penis for some reason was called the nickname of our 37th president. I don’t know why. Another name for it is another name for a rooster. Again, the Bible made us laugh. (Matthew 26:34 King James)
Now, some people get squirmy hearing even the official, anatomical name for the female counterpart. It’s my opinion that the “Big V” has the honor of having the most vulgar word assigned to it. (I never said I was immune from these cultural biases, just that I don’t understand them)
Testicles never seemed to reach swear word status, but we’ve still assigned them lots of nicknames.
The breast (female variety) has a lot of rude nicknames. For some reason, today the term “boobs” is acceptable, while when I was a kid it seemed to be on the same list as the “T Word”. A tit is a bird found in the Northern Hemisphere and Africa. We weren’t allowed to say it. I didn’t get that farmers always talked about teats, which were found on the corresponding location of their cows.

When I was a kid my mom never used the anatomical terms for our naughty  parts. We didn’t have penises or gluteus maximi, we had peepees, tushies, or hineys. Go ahead shout at the guy who cut you off on the onramp “You peepeehead!”  There, didn’t that feel good. “You tushface!”  I’m feeling better already.

I’m not trying to make a case for more swearing on TV, or for letting our children test out George Carlin’s “Seven Words” on their teachers. I just want to know how and why we chose which were the magic, wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap, bad words

Those #@%^%** Cuss Words!

I like to write. That being so, I have a fascination with words. I like playing with them. I like learning of their origins. I like putting words together to paint a mental picture. We see things in our minds when we hear or read words.
I don’t understand how societies decide which words are acceptable and which ones are not. There are certain standards I don’t question. Using the Lord’s name as a swear word is a taboo that I have no problem with. I understand that a society sets it’s own standards in many areas. I just don’t understand how we arrived at the decision that certain words became marked as swear words, curse words, or cuss words.
I’m not suggesting that as a society, we don’t have a right to set commonly recognized standards regarding acceptable vs unacceptable words. It’s just that I wasn’t around for the vote, and never got to hear the debate.

Why do we call it “Blue” humor? What about having a mouth like a sailor? Do sailors use more vulgar language than marines?

Most of the words that were branded as “dirty” when I was a child had to do with bodily function, bodily activity, body parts, or where we might go when our spirits left our bodies.
When I was young, the word “Hell” was used as a swear word on it’s own. “Oh Hell” you’d hear grownups exclaim. I wasn’t allowed to say it. It was one of the lesser words as was “Damn”. These words are cousins, as damnation refers to one being assigned to Hell.
Rhett Butler began the slow change in damns status in the hierarchy of our cultures array of foul language. “Frankly Scarlett I don’t give a damn” is credited as the first time that “damn” was heard on the big screen. Now if I’d get in trouble for saying damn, I’d be dead meat for G** d***! It’s sort of dumb to nod and wink at damn by itself since God is implied. Only God can damn, right? So even though our society has mostly removed the stigma of damn, I believe it’s worse than other words on our list of baddies.
Darn and dang were the acceptable replacement words. Gosh darn and goldang being the extensions. It’s really kind of stupid that those words were ok, when we meant the other.
When we were kids and got scolded for saying Hell, we’d respond with “Well it’s in the Bible.” That never held water with my parents. Heck was the replacement and we could say it with as much anger as we felt without fear of reprisal.
Though Hell was never really that prominent in the expletive hall of shame, telling someone to go there was. I suppose that since what it meant was to invite one to eternal damnation it counted as two cuss words in one.
Today we have sportscasters talking about a helluva hit on television. I thought Hell was bad. That’s part of what makes the whole good word bad word so confusing to me.
There is a show called “The Best Damn Sports show” It bugs me a little, but that’s my own cultural bias.

Next Up: Body Parts

NASL Memories

(Originally posted in the Sounders FC  Fan Blog)

I had the privilege of working in the NASL for part of the 1976 season while in college, and then for three years as the head athletic trainer for the San Diego Sockers. (1980-1983) In 76, the San Diego Jaws played in the open air toilet known as the Aztec Bowl. It was an ancient stadium, built in 1936, that held in the neighborhood of 12,000. It was narrow, bumpy, and only half covered with grass. It was located on the campus of San Diego State University.

The average attendance for the league that year was 7,642. Pele was in the league,

Pele and George Best in the mid Seventies

Pele and George Best in the mid Seventies

so we can only imagine what the average was, not counting the games he played. Speaking of Pele, the Jaws moved their game with the Cosmos to the larger Balboa Stadium, downtown. What a circus it was. The kick-off was delayed 30 minutes or so as we waited for the helicopter that was carrying the game ball to arrive. At the end of each game, Pele would honor a player from the opposing team by swapping jerseys with him. That night the Pele MOTM was goalkeeper Alan Mayer following a nil nil draw.

By the outdoor season of 81, the league average attendance was 14,084.Fourteen thou for an average! Consider that the Cosmos drew 34,835, Tampa Bay Rowdies drew 22,532, and up the road, the Whitecaps averaged 23236.
The Los Angeles Aztecs Drew 5,814 a game while playing in the Coliseum. One Sunday afternoon we were at the coliseum. You could hear Ron Newman’s voice echoing off the approximately 84,000 empty seats. The announced attendance was 6,000. I think they counted the Vendors, ushers, and players.

Television coverage was a fantasy back then. There was scattered local coverage for some franchises, but no national identity. For that matter, we had to watch the spanish language station to catch a World Cup match. Guys had to call overseas to get scores. Whenever a match was shown for novelty value, they ran commercials as if it were NFL or MLB.

While I don’t want to come across like some old geezer talking about how bad we had it back in our day…okay so that’s exactly what I’m doing. Just consider how special this franchise in Seattle is, even by today’s standards. The league is healthier than what existed back then. We’ve got local TV coverage for Every game. The league is covered by FSN, as well as ESPN2. So there isn’t the support that there is in Europe. Probably never will be. So What? Let’s enjoy what we’ve got. Can it get better? Of Course. Let’s enjoy the ride.