Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GOP = Gone Out to Pasture?

Did you happen to watch President Obama's address to Congress last night? All in all, I thought it was a pretty good speech. Did you catch the GOP's response to Obama's speech? If you didn't, how can I sum it up for you in a few words? 'Pathetic' comes to mind, as does, 'embarrassing', 'uninformed' and 'woefully out of touch'.

The speech was delivered by burgeoning Republican star, Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana. GOP insiders point to Jindal as a rising star within the party, and someone who - if he doesn't screw it up - may very well head the Republican ticket within the next two presidential election cycles. His speech was stilted, filled with factual errors, and, in some instances, was downright nonsensical. this the cream of the GOP crop? If it is, then the party's usefulness is past its expiration date.

Please understand, I proudly count myself as a conservative. But I'm a conservative in the Teddy Roosevelt/Barry Goldwater mold. Along with Lincoln, I consider T.R. to be the finest president this nation has ever had. And Goldwater's book, "Conscious of a Conservative" is a must-read if you really want to understand the pure core of conservative thought. The party traditionally associated with this way of thinking has been the Republican Party...but that seems to be a thing of the past. It has strayed from the path of rational conservative thinking as to have perhaps become irrelevant.

Having had their heads handed to them in the last two election cycles, the Republican Party is running around like a headless chicken. A lack of a head - and the rational, thinking brain contained therein - is the only reason I can conclude as to why the Republicans have trotted out the likes of Bobby Jindal...and Sarah Palin and Michael Steele as the new leaders of the (once) Grand Old Party. If this is the future, give me the past, thank you.

It's time true conservatives wrestle back the party from these vacuous, bloviating children, and get back to basic, core conservative beliefs. If it doesn't happen soon, we're in for a one-party country for some time. And that would be a bad thing.

Idle Hands.

I know, I know...I really need another hobby other than Photoshop. But, in my defense, the last few weeks have been rather rainy, and it's been difficult to practice my other hobby of outdoor cat juggling. As we all know, cats hate getting wet.

But, thankfully for us all, the skies around SLO have finally parted, and the sun is out. Which means I'll be out and away from my computer. But, before I do, let me leave you with my latest Photoshop effort:

Fans of great Bourbon will have no trouble identifying this as a blatant knock-off of one of the best Bourbons on this (or any other) planet: Old Rip Van Winkle's Family Reserve 20 Year Old. If you have never heard of, or have never had tasted, the exceptional efforts of this master distiller, I urge you to check them out HERE. They are the benchmark for Bourbon.

Over the years I've been fortunate to have gotten to know Julian and Sissy Van Winkle, proprietors of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. I only hope that this tongue-in-cheek tribute to the 20 Year Old doesn't upset them. They've got a pretty good sense of humor, though. It remains to be seen if I do.

And with that, I'm out the door!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Isn't He Lovely?

Given the overwhelmingly favorable response for my Peter Frampton album cover (thank you, Mel Hill!), I thought I'd offer up yet another example of Photoshop prowess. This time, it's Motown:
Enjoy your week!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bad Santa.

A Chicago woman who claims a drunken man in a Santa Claus suit stumbled and fell on top of her, knocking her face-first into the sidewalk outside a Chicago restaurant, is taking the overly-jolly man to court.

Antoinette Basso filed suit today against the allegedly inebriated St. Nick, Daniel E. Aulwes, claiming negligence and negligent battery for the Dec. 7, 2008, incident outside the restaurant in the 1000 block of West Monroe Street.

Basso was standing on the sidewalk outside the restaurant when Aulwes "under the influence of alcohol to a certain degree and ... unable to walk in a safe manner" fell on top of her.

She hit her face on the sidewalk, suffering "pain ... disability and disfigurement," according to the Cook County circuit court lawsuit. She is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

* * * * *

Now, I always thought that such blatantly frivolous lawsuits were the exclusive domain of the citizens of California. It would appear not. I can just hear this cheesy lady's testimony...sung to the immortal strains of that equally cheesy Xmas classic, 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer':

"My face got disfigured by drunk Santa,

outside of a restaurant -- December Eighth.

A bourbon-pickled, jolly dressed-up Santa,
the drunkard’s actions really sealed his fate.

The bastard’s going to pay for his wrong deeds now,
My lawyer says he’ll pay me -- through the nose.

We’ll take as much as judge and jury will allow,

We’ll take his home, his car and his Santa clothes.”

I know, I know...I've missed my true calling. And I could have gone one stanza better, but that would have invariably necessitated the use of the plaintiff's name, "Basso" and a common slang for your backside.

Enjoy your weekend!

Do You Feel Like I Do?

But for the fact that I can't sing, I can't play guitar, and I basically don't have much in the way of musical talent, I could have been a contender!

My Latest Book Report.

"Dry and acerbic, with a bitter finish.
Read twice with same results.
72 Points."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm Searchin'...I'm Searchin'...Searchin' Every Wiiiiiich Way.*

The past few months has found me - for the first time in my life - utilizing head hunting services and internet job search engines. I've completed dozens of questionnaires, emailed my resume nearly a thousand times, and have applied to over 150 corporations around the U.S. It's a full-time job look for a full-time job. Sadly, there's no money in it.

Occasionally I'll get a job lead from a headhunter which leaves me thinking "WTF? Did he even read my resume?!" One such position just came across my desk:

VP of Business Development for a Leading Provider of Outpatient Wound Care Providers.

Now, the job does pay over $120,000 per annum, but really...where in my resume would it lead an executive search agency to feel that this job is right up my alley? Of course, I already thought up a (pardon the pun) sure fire way to develop new business for this potential employer: get in my company car and circle the clinics, performing a series of drive-by shootings. Hey...they're all going to need wound care, right?

Just an idea. Maybe I could work it into my first interview with them?
And, if the title of today's blog doesn't sound familiar to you, then you're obviously not a Beach Music aficionado: it's from "Searchin'" by The Coasters.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Things We Do For Love.

Yesterday started at 5am. My wife and I rose a bit earlier than normal to prepare items for our two sons' classroom Valentine's Day parties. Amie was in charge of preparations...which meant I was her personal, private, executive gofer. She baked while I prepared printed materials. The kids rose a few hours later, and - just as we were preparing to head out to the car - it began to hail. Perfect timing.

But the early rising, frantic working and hail dodging all seemed worth it when I got to watch our Thomas waltzing:
The things we do for our children...and they are more than worth it!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Space: The Trashed Frontier.

On any given day, the U.S. Strategic Command is tracking some 18,000 man-made objects that orbit our planet. These objects include spent booster rockets, satellites and the odd, 'misplaced' wrench, camera and other objects lost by clumsy astronauts. Combined, all of this astro-junk is estimated to weigh more than 11 million pounds. Since most of these objects travel at hypersonic speeds, the threat of one of them hitting a valuable national asset is a very real one.

That said, most men and women of science have dismissed the potential for collision so minuscule as to not be worthy of concern. When I hear such remarks I can't help be be reminded of the mindset of scientists who scoffed at concerns that we were polluting our watersheds and the air we breathe. Just like outer space, these earth-bound environments were thought to be too big for man to cause any real damage.

Well, two days ago the inevitable happened: two satellites - one American and the other Russian - collided in space. The resulting debris cloud has caused concern that fragments from the collision might impact the International Space Station. Major Regina Winchester, of the U.S. Strategic Command, commented that "Space is getting pretty crowded. The fact that this hasn't happened before -- maybe we were getting a little bit lucky."

No think?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

They're On The Road to Nowhere.

Having closed down my winery last November, I find myself in the rare position of being between jobs. I say 'rare' because I've not been without gainful employment since I was 15 years old. Okay, so I did take a month off between jobs back in 1998...but it was a month off with pay, covered by my new employer. And during that month off I contracted a nasty sinus infection. It now being mid-February, I have now gone an unprecedented 73 consecutive days without working. But the trade-off has been great in terms of my family life, and the house has never been so clean.

But it's high time I reenter the workaday world, and I'm now actively searching for just the right position. To be sure, many offers have come my way, but almost all of them require way too much travel. Those that don't require my living out of a suitcase offer salaries so minuscule that accepting the position would lead to my family and I to live in a trailer park. While the current economic situation might dictate my jumping at any job offer, I'm going to hold out for something better.

There's one thing this job search has reinforced: my belief that the U.S. wine industry is incredibly short-sighted. When word got out that I had pulled the plug on the winery, I was inundated with calls, emails and letters from industry folks all over the world. Most of these expressed surprise, sadness or congratulations...sometimes all three. Some also included possibilities of future employment. Of these, about a dozen were from businesses concerns offering positions that I felt were worth pursuing.
In subsequent conversations with these employers I've learned that all of them have decided to hold off filling these positions. They took one look at their 2008 4th quarter results, and felt it prudent to not hire anyone. And these are senior management positions like general manager, sales manager, etc. In other words, sales were bad for these folks, but they're not going to hire the one key manager who can/should improve their sales! I find myself wanting to say, "You think sales suck now? Just wait. You've made a decision that's sure to put your company on course that will lead to even lower sales". It's the Titanic without the band.

Such a mindset is kinda like saying you own a Porsche, but are only going to spend money on putting gas in the tank. No tune-ups, no oil changes, no rotating tires...nothing but gas. In the long run, this kind of thinking ends up costing more money in repairs (or replacement) than the periodic maintenance would have. Enormously short-sighted. But, hey, that's the industry I've been in most of my adult life.

To be sure, there are those out there that see this economic crisis as a great opportunity to pick up market share, equipment, land, and - yes - talent. These are the types of companies I'm aiming for. My only hope that I can stay out of the trailer park long enough to land one.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Failure to Launch.

In hopes of emulating the success of his older brother Harlan, young Pleghm Sanders poured his life savings into an ill-conceived chain of fast food restaurants. It is rumored that he was carted off to prison screaming, "Why is it my fault those customers got Tricky Noses?!"

Pleghm Sanders died in prison a broken man...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Paparazzi Paydirt!

At long last! Here's photographic evidence of the long-suspected-but-never-confirmed love child between Ernest Borgnine and Totie Fields!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Words Escape Me.

Anyone know the story behind Michael and his chicken-costumed 'special friend'? Anyone care to admit they know the story? Anyone?

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Harvest of Shame.

For decades I have suffered under the misconception that the Coca-Cola Company has been perpetrating a hoax upon the American consumer. Sprite, their popular, citrus-flavored answer to 7-Up is - if you are to believe their commercials - produced from a fruit known as the Lymon. Half lemon, half lime, the Lymon can rightfully lay claim to being the first genetically-modified food product to be mass-produced...and mass-consumed.

I have thought the Lymon to be a PR device, 'invented' by the Coca-Cola Company as a catchy little devise to hawk their carbonated wares. It now appears that I was sorely mistaken...

...the Lymon does exist.

This weekend, my son Thomas presented me with this piece of fruit, harvested from our own yard:
It looks like that's a lime emerging from this lemon! I'm thinking I can propagate this fruit and plant hundreds - perhaps even thousands - of Lymon trees. Then I can score a fairly lucrative deal with Coca-Cola to become a major fruit supplier. And, if not Coca-Cola, then I'll offer my harvest to PepsiCo.

So the Lymon does exist after all. It's either admit that, or the fact that we're living far too close to the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant for comfort*.
*In actuality, we live about 14 miles from this plant...and it's never caused me an ounce of concern.