2010 List of Blunders

Sure I could close out the year talking about the triumphs for the 2010 calendar year, but that would be soooo boring.  Here is my list of head-scratching fails this year in no particular order.  Be forewarned, a lot of these are sports related.

Michael Jordan’s Hitler mustache – He doesn’t make many missteps, but count Jordan’s Hitler-esque mustache in his Hanes commercials as possibly his biggest bonehead move since trying to make it in baseball. This is the problem with becoming an icon before you die.  People aren’t honest with you.  They just tell you what you want to hear.  How else do you explain no one in his Airness’s life telling him, “Hey, Michael that Hitler ‘stache is so 1930’s Germany”?

Maryland fires the ACC’s coach of the year – For some inexplicable reason, the University of Maryland decided to cut ties with Ralph Friedgen, Maryland alum and successful head football coach for their program the last ten years.  He had a bowl record of 7-2, and he inherited a program that was basically dead and it took him only one year to turn it around.  Yet, apparently it wasn’t enough.  Here’s hoping he gets a job in conference and gets a chance to punish his former employers for years to come.

Lane Kiffin proves Al Davis right – We all thought Al Davis was just being a bitter old man when he held a press conference to berate Lane Kiffin a few years ago, but it turns out the old Raider was right.  Lane Kiffin is a brat with zero loyalty to the people who give him opportunities to coach the greatest game on the planet.  He left Tennessee after just one year to take his “dream job” at USC and, as karma would have it, walked into a nightmare filled with NCAA violations, lost scholarships and a two-year ban from bowls.  Kiffin didn’t leave Tennessee quietly.  Turns out he had his assistants on the phone trying to convince a handful of Tennessee recruits to follow him to Southern Cal. You know what they say about reaping what you sow.

Obama Congratulates the Eagles for employing Michael Vick – I covered this in yesterday’s post, but it’s worth repeating.  This was a stupid move by a very smart man.  I’m not sure why he felt the need to praise an organization for employing a man who tortured and killed innocent animals, but it pissed me off, and I’m an Obama supporter.  This shows an uncomfortable lapse in judgment on his part.

Mel Gibson just can’t control himself – I’m of the mind that Mr. Gibson was a nice guy at one time that got along with everybody, but something has fried his brain.  For some strange reason, he decided to leave highly inflammatory and threatening messages on his estranged girlfriend’s answering machine. Even his staunchest supporters had a hard time defending his over-the-top rants. He revealed himself to be a misoneist that is capable of being very scary.  I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that biting the heads off kittens is his favorite hobby.

Simon and Schuster gives Snooki a book deal – In an act that verifies the publishing industry has given up, Simon and Schuster signed Jersey Shore twit Snooki to a publishing deal.  We’re not talking about a lame memoir or a literary tour of her favorite tanning booths.  We’re talking about a novel.  The pint-sized booze-bag openly admits to only reading two books in her life. It will have a week of modest sales and may be read by a handful of people.  Way to go Simon and Schuster.  You just squandered a publishing deal that could have gone to a deserving writer… yes, I mean me.

BP and the government’s response to a horrific oil spill – For months we watched as an oil company with more money than God, floundered and fumbled and failed at stopping an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico stemming from a Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion. It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. For some reason, our government decided to let BP take control of the disaster instead of stepping in and handling it themselves.  That would have been fine if BP was run by competent people, but it became apparent early on that they had no idea what they were doing. In fact, it became apparent that no one really knew what to do.  BP worked harder at repairing their public image than they did at capping the leak.

NBC’s late night shell game comes to an awkward end – NBC split with the funniest man on their network, Conan O’Brien, because they couldn’t part with a cardboard cutout of Jay Leno… wait, you mean that’s actually Jay Leno?  Whoa!  The experiment of moving Leno to 10:00 pm five nights a week had one major drawback, Jay Leno.  A primetime audience was reminded why most of them didn’t stay up to watch him when he was on Late Night.  He’s not that funny.  He’s a terrible interviewer, and he doesn’t even really look like he wants to be there.  His show started to hurt NBC’s affiliate’s local news ratings that followed his timeslot because the audience simply left the channel to watch something more interesting like the TV Guide Channel.  NBC’s solution?  Fire O’Brien and move Leno back to where not many people see him.  O’Brien landed on his feet on TBS, and probably will soon rule late night for as long he decides to do his show.

The outrage over Bristol Palin’s success on Dancing with the Stars – The daughter of the most polarizing figure in politics, Bristol Palin, landed a spot on the curiously popular Dancing with the Stars television show and managed to make it to the finals even though she couldn’t dance.  In fact, some called her the anti-dancer.  Either fans of the show or people who want Sarah Palin to fall in a deep hole and disappear were outraged.  It was clear that Bristol’s mother’s supporters were rigging the vote by…. well, voting for her and ruining the integrity of the show. What the outraged masses failed to realize is that IT”S A STUPID DANCE COMPETITION ON A NETWORK TELEVISION SHOW.  In the grand scheme of things, it matters less than what I had for breakfast this morning.  Some idiot even shot his TV because Bristol got voted through to the next round.

Andrew Shirvell takes bullying to a whole new level – Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell went on a private crusade to stalk and harass University of Michigan’s student body president Chris Armstrong.  Why?  Because the 21-year-old college student is openly gay.  Shirvell, a UM grad, is afraid Armstrong has a gay agenda that will turn the entire Wolverine student body into flaming homosexuals.  The staunch heterosexual created an anti Chris Armstrong blog and followed the student around campus with protest signs.  The problem was it was a one man protest.  His actions got him on CNN, cost him his job and has been deemed the worst possible way to let ladies everywhere know you’re a single heterosexual male.

That’s it for 2010, but never fear, 2011 is sure to be filled with even worse missteps and misdeeds.  Thank God for the human condition!

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Why did my president commend the Eagles for hiring Michael Vick?

Michael Vick wet a dog down and electrocuted it to death.  He shot dogs because they could no longer perform in the illegal dog fighting arena.  He drowned dogs for the same reason and hanged them and even slammed one to the ground until it was dead.   This is the Michael Vick that was sent to federal prison for torturing and killing defenseless animals.  These are the charges he bled guilty to. These are acts that aren’t just due to abnormal and deviant behavior.  These are acts of a sociopath. That is to say the man does not feel any moral responsibility for what he’s done.  Publicly he’s made his apologies, and he’s even done some volunteer work.  In other words, he’s done everything to rehabilitate his image, but nothing to rehabilitate his soul.  He is a dog killer.  He’s only sorry because he got caught and nearly destroyed his opportunity to make millions.

This is the true Michael Vick, yet, this is the man my president commended the Philadelphia Eagles for hiring.  Why? What has Vick done off the field to deserve such attention from the most powerful man on the planet?  Sure, he’s playing well on the field.  His athletic talents were never in question.  But his moral character is a blight on the National Football League.  Unfortunately, it’s not just President Obama that has seen fit to shower Vick with undo praise.  There is a growing trend to forgive him not because of his actions to right the wrongs he’s done, but because of the way he’s playing on the football field.  People are lauding his performance and athleticism and magical feats on the old grid iron and somehow letting that wash away the memories of who he truly is, a man who tortured and killed 13 dogs.  There’s talk that he may even win the MVP this year.  Should he?  Should the most valuable player in the NFL be a dog killer?  Shouldn’t character matter?  Or do we just care about how many touchdowns he accumulates or how many defenders he eludes or how many passes he completes?  If a player can be fined for his behavior off the football field in the NFL, surely he can be denied ever winning the MVP.

Let us not forget that he used the money he got from the Falcons to fund his illegal dog fighting cartel.  Some have said we should give him credit for paying off $45 million in bad investments and lawsuits.  Credit?  For doing what he’s legally obligated to do?  That’s like giving a fish credit for being able to breathe underwater.  Yes, Michael Vick has done his time, but has he paid an adequate price for his brutality.  I’m not suggesting he be kicked out of the NFL.  By law, he has a right to earn a living.  I’m suggesting that we not forget that he tortured and killed dogs.

I like President Obama.  I’m one his supporters that is hanging in there with him through these tough political times, but this move really threw me for a loop. I just don’t understand why he did this.  It wasn’t necessary.  I find it offensive and maddening.  And as trivial as it sounds, it’s something I’ll remember when I’m in the ballot box getting ready to choose my next president.

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My Neon Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like... oh, look kids there's a stripper puking on Santa!

So, I spent the holidays – the one with Santa and elves and huge religious overtones – in the city of sin this year, officially known as Las Vegas by most map makers.  I’ve been to Vegas before on business, and I had a great time, mostly because I was being wined and dined and given five star meal after five star meal completely gratis.  I had very little out of pocket expenses that trip, so how could I not enjoy it?

My wife has never been, and she wanted to experience it just once, so we figured why not.  The trip started out on a good note.  We arrived late and missed our connecting flight.  Delta said, ‘no problem,” and upgraded us to first class for the next available flight.  In case you’re wondering, first class rules.  They waited on us hand and foot.  They brought hot towels.  They offered us free drinks every ten minutes.  They brought us a delicious meal.  They gave us a free headset to watch a movie of our choice.  In short, we felt far superior to those in lowly coach.

We arrived in Vegas, took a car to The Bellagio and checked in.  Yes, the Bellagio.  It was pricey, but we figured this was a onetime shot.  We might as well live it up.  Plus, it was Christmas.  Why not treat ourselves?  The first thing I noticed was there was an enormous number of children in Vegas.  I’m talking small children, six and under.  I had heard sin city was more family friendly, so I wasn’t completely shocked, but it still threw me a little to walk through the casino and continually get cut-off by a stroller.

The other thing was that everyone (except us) had a camera.  That’s fine in and of itself, but the trouble with people with cameras is they want to take pictures of people standing in front of various picturesque scenery.  Since it’s picturesque, it’s usually well traveled.  The people taking the pictures expect a large amount of space so they can take the perfect picture.  They want 6,000 people to stop walking so they can carefully frame the scene and snap off a shot.  The first day, I stopped several times so the vacationers could get their much coveted picture, but by day two, I had had enough. I’m sure you can spot my wife and me in hundreds of pictures taken by Vegas tourists.  Rude?  Yes, but I submit it’s equally as rude to expect throngs of walkers to interrupt their travels at your picture taking whims.

Also, by day two it was painfully obvious that Las Vegas is not family friendly.  It is no place for kids.  Sure it has rides and a couple of people dressed as cartoon characters on the strip to entertain the little ones, but each casino is one giant ashtray with millions of smoldering cigarettes polluting the not-so-well-ventilated air. Believe it or not, a lot of parents, prefer the casinos to the rides, and they chased their kids around the slot machines, taking care to press the spin button, so as to not waste a single opportunity to lose their money, all the while exposing their offspring to an unsavory amount of cigarette smoke.  I also witnessed a couple of boys no older than eight happily watching a couple of scantily-clad girls gyrate and spin around a stripper poll in one of the casinos.  Trust me, if I were eight, I would have been standing right beside them, giggling madly and hoping desperately that my parents had forgotten all about me.

Now, the people visiting sin city are nice enough, but they are rubberneckers.  They walk perpetually looking to their right and/or left.  There is so much to see that looking forward would not allow you to witness some pyrotechnic feat or aquatic choreographed spectacle.  Everyone on the strip and in the casinos is basically a human bumper car.  You will crash into another person frequently in Vegas.  It is unavoidable. The law of Vegas is two objects in bipedal motion will eventually collide.  I don’t mind the gawk and walk collision nearly as much as the texters who have no regard for the sites around them or the people in front of them.  They text and walk and strike with attitude.  They are actually irritated that you got in the way of their texting by walking in a designated walking area.  I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to grab a phone out of someone’s hand and smash it to the ground.

And that brings me to another point about Vegas.  Your personality will change in sin city.  You know that person you become behind the wheel of a car, the one who rants and raves and curses every other driver on the road?  That’s who you become on the strip.  It’s a self defense mechanism.  I’m a mild mannered guy. I rarely lose my temper in public, but even I found myself yelling at some poor little old man because he dared say something snarky to my wife when she was merely following the directions of the employee of the venue we were visiting.  The look of terror in his eyes still haunts me.  I imagine now I will be the last thought he has when he lay dying on his death bed. So, I have that going for me.

Here is the odd thing about Las Vegas.  I have filled this post with almost 1,000 words of complaints, but I swear to you I had a blast.  It was a cesspool of excess and the creep factor was turned all the way up to eleven, but it was lampshade-on-the-head fun.  Most of that is because I was with the person I adore most throughout space and time, but I also have to give credit to the city itself.  It is a steaming bag full of knee-slapping fun.  There’s just no way around it.  Will I go back?  Probably not.  I’m not a gambler, so if I want a city with a lot of people, terrific stage shows and excellent food, I’ll go to New York.  But I am so glad I got to experience sin city with my lovely wife.  There is no better person to commit a variety of sins with.

So, what have we learned?  I’m sure I will be the object of revenge by the ghost of some surly little old man some day.  And, the only thing that stays in Las Vegas is your children’s innocence and lung capacity.  Other than that, you will bring home a heavy dose of regret and a complex mixture of sweet memories wrapped in a thick coating of debauchery.

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Win a signed book if you can identify this person!

Who is this Christmas icon?

I feel like giving away a signed copy of one of my books.  The first one to identify this person in the comments section on my blog below will win a signed copy of the book of your choice… as long as it’s a book I wrote. First one with the correct answer wins. Family members are excluded, so please don’t answer.  If you’re a family member and you really have to share your answer, send me an email and I’ll send you back a smiley face.

Hint – he is a well known Christmas figure.

Julian Assange has fetish for Pixelated women

I just read a story in the Daily Mail about Julian Assange’s sordid truth, and most of it is the kind of thing you’d read in any Gossip Girl novel .  The bottom line is he lied to women to get them into bed, and he’s apparently got an ego the size of a planetary system.  I’ve seen interviews with him, and he is a pompous windbag.  I am of the mind that all governments lie with impunity to their own citizenry, and should be held in check for betraying the people they represent, but I’m not dumb enough to think that Assange is on a mission to save the world from the tyrants.  He’s doing this to satisfy is need for attention.  He’s the Paris Hilton of international scandal.

But what he’s done isn’t what this post is about.  This post is about the two women who have brought him up on charges in the UK.  It’s not even really about them.  It’s about the pictures of the women the Daily Mail elected to publish in their publication and online.  It left me scratching my head when I saw them. See if you have the same reaction.

The Pixelated women of Julian Assange

What exactly are we supposed to glean from these two pictures?  Did they need to fill in space?  Maybe they want us to know he likes blondes.  Are we so out of control that a mere glimpse at these two women’s hair will feed our voyeuristic appetites?  Just what is the deal? The pictures serve no purpose unless their faces really look like that, then I could see the point.  Assange has a fetish for women with pixelated faces.

Thanks to the Daily Mail for giving me something idiotic to write about.

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Goodbye, Sammy

I am not a cat person. Although, I would proclaim many times over the years to hate cats, I don’t, but I do prefer to live in a house without cats. This disinterest in cats doesn’t stem from any particularly bad experience.  I wasn’t attacked by cats at a young age.  A cat never violated my civil liberties or, as far as I know, never gave me a bad review on one of my books.  I just never really connected with the feline species.

Sam, the feline masseuse

Then one day I fell in love with a beautiful woman who had a cat. When she asked how I felt about cats, I was honest with her about my feelings about cats, and dishonest with her when I assured her there was something special about her cat.  I somehow felt something special about her fat, black and white cat.  While we dated, I made a point to bring the cat gifts and pay special attention to the cat, blah, blah, blah.  In short, I did what every guy does who’s trying to impress a girl in the beginning of a relationship, I hid my true feelings.

The cat knew I was lying.  She bit the hell out of me whenever I tried to pet her.  She scratched the living crap out of me.  She looked at me smugly.  She hated me.  The girl became my fiancé, then my roommate, then my wife.  The cat came with us every step of the way.  I tolerated it because my wife loved the cat.  The cat and I finally reached a ceasefire accord.  She stopped biting me with vicious intent, and I stopped ceaselessly aggravating her out of spite.

Fast forward several years, I received the horrible news that due to circumstances out of everyone’s control, two adult cats lost their home, and we would be taking them into our humble and tiny abode on a temporary basis until other arrangements could be made.  Those other arrangements were never made. I now lived in a house with three cats.

One of the new cats was clued into my issues with her kind and decided that I was worthy of the occasional nip out of protest for my intolerance.  Sam, the other new cat was painfully shy.  She, it seems, had issues with my kind and her own kind.  She would prefer to live in a house without humans or other cats.  We would share a look of disdain as we passed each other in the living room.  She never meowed or bit me or even came close to me.  She just didn’t like people.

Weeks passed and I never had much contact with Sam.  I sat down to watch television and glanced over to the area she had staked out as her hangout, and she was staring at me.  I shook my head in disgust and turned back to the TV.  Several minutes later I felt something on my shoulder. Startled, I quickly pulled forward and jumped up.  Sam was sitting on the back of the couch.  She was purring.  Loudly.  Confused, I sat back down, and she immediately came over to me and started kneading by shoulders, as if she were giving me a massage.  It became a habit.  Something she would do frequently when I sat down to watch TV.  And I have to admit, it was something I looked forward to.

This cat, a member of a species I had no use for, and I bonded.  Maybe it was our mutual contempt for each other.  Maybe we liked the same TV shows.  Maybe we had mutual enemies in the other two cats. Maybe it was because we both just came to the realization at the same time that the situation was what it was.  It didn’t matter how we felt about each other, we would have to share the same living space.  We might as well make the best of it.   She would find times throughout the day to come over and say hi.  She took to lying in my lap in the evenings.  For some reason, she liked me.

Eventually, the other two cats and I treated each other with more respect.  They started to seek me out for a pat on the head or scratch behind the ears.  They must have determined that I was worthy of their attention because Sam had accepted me.  After all, she was the oldest.

Sam became ill a number of years ago, and she required daily medication.  The medication changed her personality, and she preferred almost complete isolation from the rest of the household.  Occasionally, she appeared at my side and wanted some attention, but for the most part, she just wanted to be left alone.  I gave her the space and let her be.

On Thursday, December, 16, I came home to find Sam lying on the floor in a part of the house she never entered.  She was breathing erratically and barely responded when I reached out and gently patted her on the back.  I picked her up and drove her to the vet where I got the news I expected.  She had reached that point in her illness where the most compassionate thing that could be done was to put her down.  I hesitated before I gave the go ahead.  The vet left me in the room with her by myself while I thought it over.  She was dying and suffering, but I still couldn’t bring myself to give my permission to end her life.  I called my wife, but she wasn’t available.  Sam moved slightly and I bent down and asked her if she was ready to go.  As if responding to my question, she twitched and let out a long, noisy breath.  My wife called at that moment, and I told her I thought Sam had just died, and I had to go.   I called the vet into the room, and he rushed in, quickly placing the stethoscope to her chest.  She wasn’t dead, but her heart was barely beating.  I couldn’t stand to see her suffer anymore.  I asked him to put her out of her misery.  She died before he could find her vein.  Before the vet carried her out of the room, I placed my hand on her head and told her good-bye.  I struggled not to cry.  It was a cat.  I wasn’t going to cry over a stupid cat.  I paid the bill, quickly moved to my car and just lost it.  It totally caught me off guard. I called my wife, but I couldn’t even talk.  I was a wreck.  I had lost of member of my family.

If you ask me today if I’m a cat person, I will probably tell you that I’m not.  I am, however, a Sam person.

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Why some employees go crazy

Warning, communications within the company may be confusing!

This is an actual conversation I had with one of my old bosses.

Boss – How long will it take you to learn this new software?

Me – I don’t know.  How long do I have?

Boss – It doesn’t work that way.  Tell me how long you need.

Me – Hmmm, a week.

Boss – Can you do it in three days?

I, of course, said yes, but I should have said, “Did we really need to have this conversation? Couldn’t you have just told me I had three days to learn the new software?”

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