Thursday, November 30, 2006

Was Gordon Gekko* Right?

Christmas is fast approaching, and that can mean only one thing… do you know what that one thing is?





It’s greed.

The children, and let’s be honest, some adults, are getting greedy and The Peanut Butter and The Jelly are right in line with all the other 3-10 year olds.

Now I don’t think this is something that purely affects my children… I think all children of a certain age experience this concept of greed at Christmastime… it’s natural… they’ve been getting these brightly-wrapped packages that they are not only allowed to tear open, but are encouraged to tear open, and inside are things they get to play with or wear… how could they not get greedy?

The Peanut Butter and The Jelly are four, and they now know that Christmas = Presents. It’s a pretty easy equation along the lines of 1 + 1 = 2 that anyone (save for our current “President”— sorry, I should save that kind of talk for my poli-blog) can understand…

We as parents try to teach them the true meaning of Christmas, whether it be from a secular (the birth of Jesus) or non-secular (love to all mankind) standpoint… but who can compete with the constant barrage of catalogs, friends & cousins, TV & radio commercials and the like that are children are being inundated with?

At our house, we’ve been receiving gift and toy catalogs since mid-October… and the girls seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to those. They can sniff ‘em out and pour over them faster than people running from a Kevin Federline “concert.”

So where should we, as parents, place the blame?

Ourselves? I’m a firm believer that it’s up to the parents to make sure a child does what is right and doesn’t do what is wrong, so with that I say yes, but with a qualifier: we were probably the same way when we were their age and we turned out alright. And as I said above, we try our hardest to teach them the true meaning of the holiday, but sometimes we’re outgunned and outmaneuvered and it’s easier to pick your battles and know which ones can be won or lost.

Who else can be blamed?

Cousins? Well, I could blame a couple of my nieces and nephews who seem to exacerbate the greed with The PB & The J, but that would be unfair…

The media? Well… the media definitely seems to be an aggressor/agitator/make-it-worser (it’s a word it I use it) when it comes to children and greed, but I don’t think I can place the blame solely on them.

Greed is not necessarily a bad thing in moderation, and odds are my kids will grow out of it eventually… I did. But for now, “get while the getting’s good” seems to be the mantra for Christmas 2006.

Next year, I bet it will change….

* “…greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works.”

Monday, November 27, 2006


I no longer have access to blogs at work... so... if you thought my posting had been in a lull lately, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Seriously though, I will try and post as much as I can in the evening hours after The Peanut Butter and The Jelly go to bed.

First Scott loses his access, then me... who's next??

11/30/06 UPDATE: Hmmmm... something very strange is going on here... at times I have access, other times I don't. It seems as though someone is sitting at a computer monitoring station somewhere and every once in a while, just to piss me off, they'll take away access to bloglines...

Where's the Christmas love man? It's not like I'm surfing through porn (like any man I do that in the comfort of my home after my wife has gone to sleep...), it's a blog...I'm trying to keep up with my blogmigos (some of whom seem to be ignoring me now, but that's another post for another day)

What will the next hour hold? Access to blogs... or no access to blogs? Come back later and find out... I know I will.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy this snippit (about 5:30 minutes in length) from what I consider the best Thanksgiving sitcom episode EVAH!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Words Escape me...

Word's escape me in trying to describe this, supposedly one of the 'hottest' toys this Christmas.

This is supposed to be a children's toy, but first blush brings to mind a toy of a more "adult" nature...

Your thoughts?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Edmund Fitzgerald Redux

Kemp's Note: Today is the 31st anniversary of the wreck of the USS Edmund Fitzgerald. I wrote a post about it last year (classified to the right as one of my Top Ten Posts), so I thought I would post it again, this time with a useful LINK HERE, to a story from WJRT-TV. Enjoy.

The Great Lakes cover over 90,000 square miles and supply one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, with Lake Superior being the largest. The Chippewa Indians call Lake Superior “Kitchi-gummi” which means “great-water”. Later discovered by French explorers who named the lake, “le lac superieur”, which translates to upper lake.

Lake Superior is one of the busiest shipping lanes in North America and is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence Seaway. More than 1000 ships travel its waters each year landing either in the port of Duluth in the United States or Thunder Bay in Canada. Lake Superior is also large enough that it has considerable effect on the weather, especially when winds blow across its surface. Duluth sees over 50 days of fog between spring and fall and sometimes during a particularly cold winter the entire lake will freeze over. Another weather phenomenon common to the region, and particularly to Lake Superior, are the sometimes-vicious “northeasters”, which are gales that occur (mostly in November) and are formed when intense low pressure systems pass over the lake, thus creating hurricane-force winds that churn up enormous waves.

(Locals refer to these storms as “the witch of November.” It’s little wonder that the bottom of Lake Superior is littered with the skeletons of no less than 350 ships, most of them falling victim to the temperamental November ‘witch’)

That’s fascinating Kemp, but why the hell are you telling us all of this? And why the hell so many links?

Simple. Today (Thursday, November 10, 2005) is the 30th Anniversary of the most famous sinking on Superior (as well as the most baffling): that of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald.

This is a story that has always interested me and I knew, after realizing that the anniversary was today, that I had to write about it and give all you loyal readers the means to find out more, thus the superfluity of linkage.

The Fitzgerald was one of the largest lake vessels of her kind at 729 feet long, 75 feet wide and with a cargo capacity of 27,500 tons. The 7,500 horsepower engines were built by Westinghouse Electric Corporation and helped the ship set different shipping records.

The captain was Earnest MacSorley and gale warnings had already been issued when MacSorley steered the Edmund Fitzgerald, loaded down with taconite, out of Superior, Wisconsin’s docks shortly after 2PM. Meanwhile what looked like a typical November storm was intensifying. On the morning of November 10, heavy rain was falling and winds were gusting from the Northwest in excess of 60 mph as the storm tracked toward Canada, pummeling the Fitzgerald. A little after 3PM that same afternoon, Captain MacSorley reported that his ship was suffering damage and listing. At that time, another ship (The S.S. Arthur M. Anderson) that was sailing close to the Fitzgerald, agreed to stay close until they reached the calmer waters of Whitefish Bay.

In less than a half hour, the storm intensified with wind gusts clocking in at over 100 miles per hour. Shortly thereafter MacSorley again called in to the Anderson, and reported that the ship had lost all radar. Both ships continued on through the worsening conditions, the Anderson keeping track of the Edmund Fitzgerald on her radar screen. By early evening, around 7PM, meteorologists believe the storm’s pressure reached its lowest point; this combined with energy from the jet stream and created a series of enormous waves that first slammed into the Anderson and then into the Fitzgerald. The Anderson sustained damage but survived the onslaught and immediately The captain of the Anderson, Jesse Cooper, radioed the Edmund Fitzgerald to warn the crew of what to expect. The last words that came from Captain MacSorley were, “We are holding our own”.

Ten minutes later, around 7:25 PM… the big freighter had disappeared from all radar screens and the ‘witch’ had claimed yet another victim.

The day after the wreck, Mariners' Church in Detroit rang its bell 29 times, once for each life lost, a memorial that continues to this day. Every year on the anniversary, the church reads the names of the crewmen and rings the church bell.

An investigation by the Coast Guard suggested that the Edmund Fitzgerald had likely suffered enough initial damage that she began taking on water, causing the ship to list. Already unstable, the Fitzgerald was unable to ride out the onslaught of the massive waves once the northeaster worsened and she foundered, plunging to the bottom of Lake Superior with enough force to snap her in half. That report proved controversial, with the most common alternate theory contending that inoperative radar forced the crew to rely on maps that were woefully inacurate and, as a result, the Fitzgerald ran aground on a shoal without the crew knowing it and received bottom damage, thus causing it to gradually take on water until it sank.

The Edmund Fitzgerald now lies rusting under 550 feet of water. None of the sailors bodies were ever recovered. On July 4, 1995, a submarine expedition salvaged the ship’s bell and replaced it with another (as a tribute to the sailors and their families) with the date of the disaster and the names of the dead engraved on it. The bell is on display at the Whitefish Point museum near Paradise, Michigan.

The mystery of exactly how and why the Edmund Fitzgerald sank has never been discovered and the attachment of the ship and the story lives on, helped by the Gordon Lightfoot song: “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” (lyrics to the song can be found here)

After reading a piece about the sinking in Newsweek, Lightfoot was inspired to write one of the signature songs of his lengthy career (and also one of his greatest hits) that turned into an improbable Top 40 smash.

Maritime historian Frederick Stonehouse, when speaking about the song, states: “In large measure, his song is the reason we remember the Edmund Fitzgerald. That single ballad has made such a powerful contribution to the legend of the Great Lakes.”

Three decades after the tragedy, the Fitzgerald remains the most famous of the 6,000 ships that disappeared on the Great Lakes. And the reasons for its sinking will probably never be known.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Much left to learn, young grasshoppers...

Last night I was talking to my brother on the phone about the (euphoric) events of the past few days. In doing so, I mentioned that since Rumsfeld resigned earlier that day, and since the Democrats won control of the House and the Senate, that “Dubya is curled-up in the fetal position and crying.”

The Peanut Butter and The Jelly immediately asked; “Cuckoo-Bananas is crying?”

I obviously have taught them well...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Something Wicked this Way Comes: The Book Meme

I’m a reader. An avid reader. So I’m gonna change it a little and make it ‘More Than One Book That…’

Why? Because I’m suffering from a severe case of Blogstipation (should that be capitalized?) and think this could be the very thing to get me out of my blogging-doldrums.

What gives me the authority to change it? Well… it’s my blog so, conceivably, I can do what I want.

1. One book that changed my life. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Quite possibly the best book I’ve ever read with a message of tolerance, acceptance, and friendship. Another one is Patterns of Culture by Ruth Benedict. My parents (both Sociology majors in college) made me read this book when I was in 8th grade… and I understand why. For those of you who don’t know the book, it’s an examination of cultural studies that many say is as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1934.

2. One book I read more than once. The problem with this question is that there are quite a few books I’ve read more than once. Some of them include: Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

3. One book I'd want on a deserted island. Okay, changing this one to more than one sort of voids the premise, so I’m gonna keep this as ‘one’ and say To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s one of those books that every time I read it, I notice or read something new.

4. One book that made me laugh. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Actually, let’s throw in the entire series while you’re at it and add a couple of his non-Hitchhiker’s works like Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

5. One book that made me cry. I’m a man… we don’t cry… what are you thinking?? Me cry?? Hey! How about them Rams Bears Colts? Sigh… no one’s buying this so I might as well ‘fess up’. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Cried like a girl baby…Also Travels with my Aunt by Graham Greene. While it’s not a tearjerker per se, it’s full of wit, wry comedy and poignancy. If you’ve never read Graham Greene, I highly suggest you start off with this novel then progress to The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana and one of his plays: “The Potting Shed”

6. One book I wish I'd written.. This is a toughie. Do I go with something that made the author a shitload of money or do I go with something that changed society and/or people?? I’m gonna have to go with one of my favorite all-time books and say The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Granted, he probably didn’t make a whole lot of money from the book, but his ancestors are and let’s face it; it’s changed a lot of people and probably has altered some lives.

7. One book I wish had never been written. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen “Whiny-Ass Bitch” Covey. What a bunch of claptrap; pointless, inane, and chock full of shit that should be freaking COMMON SENSE!!!! It’s not that hard… Why do I wish it had never been written? Because some people take it to heart (if you’re one of those people: I feel for you, I really do) and try to live their entire life by it. I read it the first time in high school and felt like I needed a shower afterwards. I don’t mean to get off on a rant here, but if more people stopped reading Covey and started reading real books, then we wouldn’t have this problem with every person in the world thinking that they can solve the problems of everyone else despite not having any training or education in that area…

Whew… I’m okay now…

8. One book I'm reading now. QB VII by Leon Uris & The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra.

9. One book I've been meaning to read. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I’ve never read it… I’ve meant to… I’ve wanted to… I just never have… but I am meaning to read it… just give me some time…

10. Tag, you're it: Scott, MetroDad & Croutonboy.

Monday, November 06, 2006


There’s less than 24 hours to go and while many politicians (and Liberals) are contemplating sedatives (if not something stronger) there is an election tomorrow and we at TBWA (and Kemp's Blog) want everyone to get out and vote…

You can’t vote by sitting in front of your computer (at least not yet).

And you can’t vote by sitting on your couch at home…unless of course you have an absentee ballot.

You have to go to your respective polling place and pull the lever, punch the chad, push the button, scan the optic or fill-in the oval (which one of those do you think sounds sexual?).

In short; you must vote.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat, republican, Independent, Libertarian, Communist, Green or even a Mickey Mouse party fan… you must get out and vote.

If you think your ballot is worthless and doesn’t carry any weight you’re wrong.

According to The Voters Paradox by Leon Felkins and Mack Tanner the importance of any single vote declines the more voters as having made a rational decision.

The other side of the coin says that with fewer voters, the influence of an individual’s vote rises. Furthermore, if you don’t’ vote, you’re allowing others to speak for you… and that ain’t right.

You want another reason? Voting is a profound statement of our democracy, a birthright if you will, that no one, absolutely no one, should take for granted and ignore.

Every voice counts.

Every opinion counts.

Every vote counts.

So get your ass out to the polls and vote tomorrow.

Now… if you want to use your own brain and make an informed decision that will help our country, then vote Democratic.

If you want to screw the country with it’s collective pants on while maintaining the status quo, then vote republican.

If you feel guilty and want to vote your conscience while drinking coffee from a styrofoam cup, vote Green party.

If you want to vote with an eye on common ownership, vote Communist.

If you want to vote with an eye towards being free to do whatever you want, vote Libertarian.

However you decide to vote… just vote.

Cross-posted at The "Bush"Whacked Administration