Sunday, December 26, 2004

Damn! It's hard to fathom this many people being killed so fast by an act of nature.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&e=1&u=/ap/20041227/ap_on_re_as/indonesia_earthquake

Saturday, December 25, 2004

R.I.P. Gary Webb
1955 - 2004

America owes you a debt of gratitude that we'll never be able to fully repay. Here's hoping the next world brings you the kind of comfort you were never able to find in this one.

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2004/121304.html

Monday, December 20, 2004

President George W. Bush commented today that the bombings in Iraq, "are having an effect."

Well, duh!!!

Of course, they're having an effect. I could have told him that months ago.

Is the President really that out of the loop? I mean, I've heard that the CIA is having some problems getting information to him, but come on.

What's next? Is he going to remark that gravity is having an effect?

Somebody needs to buy that man a newspapers subscription.
There's a rumor floating around town that the Illitch family is prepared to sell the Detroit Tigers.

Personally, I think it's amazing that they would consider selling the Tigers when they also refuse to sell the former Madison-Lennox Hotel to someone who is interested in doing something with the property.

The phrase "more money than brains" comes screaming to mind.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

RIP: Agnes Mary Mansour

Agnes Mary Mansour, a nun with the Sisters of Mercy, past presidentof Mercy College and former director of the Michigan Department of Social Services, passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer. She was 73 years of age; still as fiesty as she was when shebattled entrenched bureaucrats, politicians and even the Vatican.

I had the privilege of recording one of her lectures at Wayne State University and incorporating it into my first documentary, which focused on the ethical implications of the Gulf War. She was an intellectual giant who held a Ph.D. in biochemistry. She also had a deeper dedication to serving the poor than any person I've ever met.

Reading her obitutary though, I learned things about her that I never knew. When she was director of M-DSS, she sent her entire salary to the Sisters of Mercy, taking only a $600 monthly stipend from her order. This relationship was incredible, in my opinion, because Sister Agnes was on the outs at the time with the Vatican since her department provided abortions to poor women.

It's also incredible because it's rare for nuns to publically contradict or otherwise dispute anything that the Vatican says.

You can read her obituary at: http://www.freep.com/news/obituaries/mansour18e_20041218.htm

Her passing is a tremendous loss. She was one of the greats and will be missed.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

For more than three weeks, I've been listening to one pundit after another talk about what the Democrats need to do to win in 2006 or 2008. We need to "get religion" or "abandon our gun-grabbing ways." We need to quit "pandering" to gay folks and support traditional family values. We need to reach out to the South.

Thousands of people have come forward with their ideas about what the Democratic party needs to do to be serious contenders in the next election cycle.

Thousands opinions.

Thousands of commentators.

Collectively none of the IQ that God gave to a jar of pickles.

Senator John Kerry ran what was arguably the worst presidential campaign ever. He spouted a few soundbites, but never spoke with a clear message. What message he did have seemed to change with alarming regularity. He complained about what President Bush has done over the past four years, but didn't offer a clear alternative to what he would do differently.

In short, the Kerry/Edwards campaign simply sucked.

In spite of all that, President George W. Bush was re-elected by a margin of less than 2%.

Less than 2%.

In spite of all the asine things that the Kerry/Edwards team did.

Less than 2%.

Democrats don't need to change their position on anything. They only need a better candidate and campaign staff.

If anyone needs to re-examine their positions, it's the Republicans. As things stand, the only shot they have to hold onto either the House or Senate in 2006 is to pray that the Democrats run an equally incompetant campaign next time.

Friday, November 26, 2004

There's good news and bad news out of Ford Field.

The bad news, of course, is that the Indianapolis Colts spanked the Detroit Lions by an astonishing score of 41-9.

The good news, though, is that a team from Detroit finally managed to play a complete game against a team from Indianapolis without a brawl breaking out.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I woke up yesterday morning; greeted by two news stories that were bizarre in their contrast.

The first was one that I already knew was going to be on the front page of the newspapers. Campus Martius Park opened in downtown Detroit Friday night with much hype, pomp and circumstance. It was beautiful. Calm. Peaceful.

It was almost enough to wash away every negative image one might have about Detroit.

The other big news story was the one that I had gone to bed on Friday night without hearing.

A huge brawl broke out during a Detroit Pistons vs. Indiana Pacers basketball game. At least two fans were hospitalized. Many more were injured. Bottles, cans, chairs and articles of clothing were thrown at the players.

It was a nightmare.

And it happened in the far-off distant suburb of Auburn Hills, in the heart of northern Oakland county. Almost all of the fans were making a disgrace of the region and basketball were white suburbanites.

So, to recap -- a calm, peaceful evening in the heart of "Murder City USA" and absolute mayhem in the supposedly tranquil suburbs.

Did I wake up in Bizzaro Land or something?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I was browsing through the comments that were left by others to Mitch Albom's column today. One of them really struck me. Here it is, along with my replies.

Bush is a true leader....by: mazenbluman (44/M/Lakeland/ Hamburg MI) 11/03/04 10:37 am
Msg: 5 of 54
1 recommendation

Weather you like it or not....mitch ought to change his name to bitch, because thats all he did during the campaign(about W that is). kerry was a fraud and now all you union whiners, village idiots and morons who were stupid enough to vote for an American hating communist will have to wait 4 more years!

Re: Bush is a true leader....
by: JS_Frank (33/M/Detroit, MI) 11/03/04 08:33 pm
Msg: 53 of 54

Yes, George W. Bush is a true leader. The problem is that he always insists on trying to lead in the wrong direction.

Re: Bush is a true leader....
by: JS_Frank (33/M/Detroit, MI) 11/03/04 08:45 pm
Msg: 54 of 54

By the way, I can't help but feel it's ironic that you called John Kerry "an American hating communist." The fact is the crap that comes out of Senator Kerry's ass every morning has more patriotism in than the entire GOP.

He wasn't the one who sat back and went on vacation when the CIA warned, during the summer of 2001, that bin Laden was determined to attack inside the U.S.

He wasn't the one who allowed bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora.

He wasn't responsible for a set of security breaches that enabled the Iraqi insurgents to steal almost 400 tons of explosives.

No one on his staff ever compromised the identity of a CIA operative on the NOC list.

He wasn't the one who decided to put our efforts against al Qada and its affiliated organizations; diverting our resources to an ill-advised war in Iraq.

He wasn't the one who has so alienated the members of our coalition in Iraq that many of them have already left or have indicated that they soon will leave.

Face it. America would be in a much better position if anyone in the Bush Administration had even 1% of Senator Kerry's integrity, courage and patriotism.
Mitch Albom has a column in today's Detroit Free Press. Its title poses a simple question. "After bitterness: will we let winner actually lead us?"

It's a interesting and simple question.

The answer to it is also very simple. No.
Election 2004 proved two old political adages.

First, it's rarely enough to simply point out your opponent's failings, even your opponent has as many as George W. Bush does. You have to show people a better way.

Second, you have to define yourself before your opponent gets a chance to. George W. Bush defined himself as a strong leader who could be counted on keep America safe and that Senator Kerry was a flip-flopper. (Personally, I can't believe that either label managed to stick -- especially the first one, but that's life).

As an aside note, I think this experience will also result in a bunch of heads being mounted on pikes within the Democratic party's leadership. George W. Bush was arguably the weakest, most ineffective Republican we've seen since the GOP was founded. If the current apparatus of the Democratic Party can't beat him, they really don't have much of a chance to beat anyone.

It should be interesting to watch.
Four more years of Bush/Cheney.

Four years more jobs going overseas as dead servicemen come home.

Four more years of bin Laden wandering around without the President doing much to stop him as honest Americans see their civil rights eroded.

For more years of gay couples not being allowed to marry, because that would threaten families, as 51% of straight couples get divorced, because that doesn't threaten the family.

Four more years of tax cuts for the richest among us and fewer services for the weakest among us.

Four more years of Bush/Cheney.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

It's weird how some really little things can bring back huge memories.

I went to vote this morning. One of the election officials actually seemed to think that I was my Dad, since I neglected to add the "Junior" at the end of my name when I filled out the little application for a ballot.

I guess he's still on the voter rolls, even though he passed away last July.

When I walked out of the polling site, it was all I could do to keep from crying.

Friday, October 22, 2004

"Mosh" by Eminem.

One of the coolest songs I've heard in a long time.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I saw "Late Nite Catechism 2" at the Max last Thursday night. It was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. In this live performance, sister picks up where she left off with a nun's perspective of life, religion and -- well -- everything else.

Totally funny.

For anyone who survived Catholic schools, and is in the Detroit area, this is an absolute must see.

And for those of you from outside of the D -- it's worth driving a couple of hours to see this one.

http://www.detroitsymphony.com/season/production.aspx?performanceid=454

Thursday, October 07, 2004

President George W. Bush conceded today that Sadam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. In doing so, he essentially became the last person on the face of the planet to come to this realization. Everyone else knew it months, if not years, ago.

Of course, in typical Bush fashion, as he conceded that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he argued that the invasion was still justifiable because Sadam Hussein was stealing money from the U.N.'s oil-for-food program.

Really?

Interesting.

Of course, if one takes that to its logical conclusion then Canada would be justified in launching an invasion of the United States because of all the non-bid contracts that have gone to Halibrton and other companies with political ties to the Bush administration.


There's a new game that I play when a major national or international event happens.

First, I turn on CNN to get the basic story and see how they are covering. After that, I take a look at the other news networks to see how those outlets cover the story. The differences between some of the networks can be down right amazing.

This morning was a perfect example.

There was a rocket attack on the Sheraton Hotel in Baghdad this morning; no deaths or serious injuries but, since the hotel is inside the "Green Zone" and houses Western contractors & journalists, it is quite newsworthy.

CNN reported the basic facts as they knew them, spent a lot of time playing up the fact that they had some exclusive video (no one else had video that showed the U.S. military returning fire with tracers) and said that much would depend on how effective the coalition forces were at responding to this attack.

I flip over to Fox News.

They also outlined the basic facts and showed video of the attack & its aftermath. They didn't make any comments about coalition forces.

Instead, at least two of their correspondents talked about how they didn't want to "give the terrorists any satisfaction" by revealing details about how much damage they did.

And then they talked about how much damage was done to the hotel.
  • Fox News showed pictures of the hotel's lobby.
  • Analysts talked about how much people hated riding in the hotel's elevators because they are outside the building; exposed to potential gunfire.
  • A Fox News correspondent even mentioned how all of the renovations done to the Sheraton Hotel in Baghdad were essentially destroyed in today's attack.

And after revealing all of that information, they reminded viewers that Fox News would not give the terrorists the satisfaction of learning how much damage they did.

The whole thing is just too damn funny.




Saturday, September 25, 2004

For months now, I've been bashing President George W. Bush for, well, pretty much everything. And if I hadn't been busy filming a documentary, I probably would have bashed him even more often then I have.

Now, however, it's Senator John Kerry's turn to face my cyber-wrath.

Senator Kerry has been bashing President Bush over the economy and the war in Iraq even more frequently than I have. He's the Democratic nominee for the White House so one has to expect that.

However, I profoundly disappointed in how little he has done to present the American public with a viable alternative. He's done relatively little to give me the sense that he has a plan to do things better or offer us a better solution.

Take the war in Iraq for example. People have been pestering him for details on how he would do things differently ever since he became the Democratic nominee. He finally put forward his plan.

Sort of.

The thing is only 3 pages long; consisting primarily of bullet points and sound bites. Bullet points and sound bites are fine, but you need more than that to convince the American people that you have a plan to win in Iraq.

You need more than that to convince the American public that we're better off with John Kerry in the White House than with George W. Bush.

You need details.

A good 15 - 20 pages of them.

Filled with charts, graphs, maps and, above all else, details about a Kerry Administration would get us out of Iraq better than a second round of Bush II.

You need details.

How would Kerry as president do things differently? He has talked a lot about "internationalizing" the war, but what would he do to get that level of international support for a war that the rest of the world simply wants to abandon?

How would this hypothetical, international contingent operate that is different from the way everything is currently run? If it's the daily operations aren't really any different, how can we expect the final outcome of the war to be different?

Details, Senator Kerry. Details.

When I co-directing my local chapter of Students for Clinton-Gore in 1992, I had a library of white papers at my disposal. All of them showed how then Governor Clinton would provide the American public with a better alternative than the elder President Bush. All of them were much more comprehensive than anything Senator Kerry has put forward.

The whole thing reminds me of an old poltical adage that I heard when I was running my local chapter of the college Democrats way-back-when.

"You can't beat somebody with nobody," the saying goes.

And until Senator Kerry puts forward a lot more detail before he can truly become somebody on a national stage.

It's just a shame that Senator Kerry didn't hear the same lessons in college that I did.

As things now stand, if John Kerry becomes the next President of the United States, it will be in spite of all that he has done during the campaign; not because of it.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

There's a funny thing about porn. When it's good, it's really good. But when it's bad, it's beyond terrible.

I was watching this live web cast earlier today (because I was sick of cranking out yet another meaningless report for work). There was this web cast of an amatuer couple having sex so I tuned in for the heck of it.

The guy never took his long sleeve shirt off (I don't know, maybe that was a blessing in disguise). The chick has obviously not scene the inside of a gym in years.

The two of them spent more time discussing what they were going to do then actually doing anything. And I'm not talking about that hot, steamy bedroom kind of talk either.

I'm talking about conversations about camera angles and room temperature. Boring ass stuff. All said in with this dull, clincial kind of tone.

My thought was, "is the person you're f***ing really that bad that you're gonna think about this stuff?"

After a few minutes of this, I actually went back to filing my company's quarterly tax return. It seemed a lot more interesting.

And that is sad.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Dang, it's been almost an entire month since I've had a chance to post anything in this blog. I've been super busy -- getting ready to film my documentary, dealing with my Mom going into the hospital (she'll be fine), fighting to preserve a historice building that the City wants to tear down and, of course, work.

There've been a few times where I thought of something that I wanted to post about, but, I didn't have a computer handy at the time. (Yes, I know -- I need to get a laptop).

Anyway, I've got a moment now -- but nothing overwhelming to talk about. As a result, this is going to be Random Thought Day. A collection of a few thoughts that popped into my head when I didn't have a chance to post. None of this is connected by anything other than the fact that it's what I think about when I try to remember some of the posts that I wanted to make over the past month.

Every now and then, I think about moving out of Detroit. Chicago is one of the locales that I think about moving to (mainly because they have a vibrant downtown) and I was there in the past month. While driving home, I saw a sign that I thought read IDIOT CONSTRUCTION AHEAD.

"What?," I thought, "y'all are not only making more idiots but you're advertising this fact?!?"

A moment later I realized that the sign actually read IDOT CONSTRUCTION AHEAD. IDOT. As in, Illinois Department of Transportation.

I'm not sure if the is a reason for me to move to Chicago or a reason for me to not move there. One hand, it does make for an easy joke. But on the other, it's a joke that so easy I'd probably feel guilty for using it.

I've also noticed a lot of people who are "pimping out" their cars these days. In my opinion, this is a great idea if you're a pimp and you deliver your hookers is said car. The whole thing makes it easier for johns (and the police) to find you. For everyone else, though, the whole concept just seems damn tacky.

Finally, while working at the Michigan State Fair, my friend/co-worker Augie and came up with a few of our own awards. Biggest Bootie on a White Girl (Under 200 lbs.). Tackiest Outfit. Things like that.

We also came to the conclusion that if a woman weighs more that 250 lbs. then there really out to be a law prohibiting her from leaving the house without a bra on. I actually tried pitching this idea to one of the state reps who came by. He just rolled his eyes and walked away.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I was walking downtown the other day when I saw a certain face that looked kind of familiar. I soon realized why this person seemed so familiar, I had seen him a television a couple hundred times -- it was Geoffrey Fieger.

A part of me wanted to say something to the man, but he was gone before I could figure out what. Of course, after he was gone, a tiny part of me wanted to plug my documentary to him since he's now chair of the Michigan Film Advisory Commission.

Oh, well -- maybe next time.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

It's odd how simple tasks can get very complicated. Today, for example, I left to get a haircut. I don't really have that much hair to begin with, but what I have left was starting to flop around more than John Kerry's stance on the Iraq war.

Anyway, I'm on my way to the barbershop when I get a call on my cell phone. It's a certain aquaintance of mine who works for the City. She says that she's faxing something over to me but, as she put it so dramatically, "it didn't come from me."

My curiosity gets the best of me so I turn the car around and head back. I pick up the fax, still warm. It's a letter from Amru Meah, director of Detroit's Buildings & Safety Department, to the City Council. He has declared the old Madison-Lennox Hotel to be threat to public safety and wants to tear it down expeditiously - without the usual procedures and oversight that normally comes with demolishing a historic structure.

I'm still not sure how I became to the go-to person for leaking information to about the demolition of historic buildings. For now, all that I know is that this little bit of political intrigue has found me. (And I thought all of that drama was behind me).

Anyway, some quick phone calls to the architects that I know and it's sounding more and more like the whole "impending danger to public safety" is bunch of hooey. A strategy phone call later, I decided to file a FOIA request for whatever reports Mr. Meah used to draw this conclusion.

As I'm typing up my FOIA request, my phone rings again. This time it's one of my friends who is about to move to Atlanta. We schedule a time to get together once more before the Big Move.

I was making a copy of the FOIA when my phone rangs again. It was one of the people that I had talked to a couple of weeks ago about having a product placement in my upcoming documentary.

No dice, he said. He has changed his mind. I tried convincing him to change his mind, but it was like trying to talk a river into flowing upstream. (I have no idea where that analogy actually came from; it just popped into my head as I was typing it).

Great, I thought after hanging up my phone. It looks like I'm going to be financing all of this film myself and taking all on all of the risk. (Yes, this also means that I get to keep all of the money that it brings in, but the whole thing does make me more than a bit nervous).

Anyway, I dropped off the FOIA at Detroit's Law Department just a couple of minutes before 5 o'clock. Made a note to call the folks at the National Trust of Historic Preservation for whatever guidance they can lend.

I finally did make it over to the barbershop, a whopping 11 minutes before they closed.

I miss the days gone by taking care of a simple task, like getting a haircut, didn't involve intrigue, drama or suspense. I suppose it all means -- welcome to the life of a grown up.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Now is one of the parts of filmmaking that I hate. I've put out a couple of last minute proposals that, if they're accepted soon, will enable me to make my documentary and get it done -- and done right -- in time to submit for Sundance 2005.

I've done everything to best of my ability. Now I just have to wait a few more hours to find out if my best is good enough.

I hate this part. Waiting truly sucks.

Friday, July 30, 2004

In my blog, I've ranted about one stupid politician after another. I've even ranted about stupidity in the private sector. Today, however, I feel the need to vent about stupid celebrities.

Britney Spears was recently spotted wearing a T-shirt with the message, "I'm still a virgin."

You know, it's a shame that I didn't get a chance to mention this Britney during any of our numerous conversations. However, the world has certain rules to it.

One of them is that after you chose to celebrate your 18th birthday by fucking 18 different guys in one night, you can no longer properly claim to be a virgin.

Another one of those rules is that it's no longer proper to claim virgin status once the number of guys you've had sex with reaches the triple digit mark.

I know, I really should have mentioned all of this to her. But somehow, I just didn't think of it at the time.

Hopefully, someone else will take a moment to explain a few things to her.
When I first got interested in making movies, I did a little research and learned that most Hollywood productions take two years to go from concept to screen.  When I first read that, I thought, "My God -- two years?  How can it possibly take that long to put together a movie that only lasts an 90 - 120 minutes?"

Now, I understand.

Casting. Financing.  Clearances.  The crew.  Contracts.  Research.

And more financing.

As I've tried to put together my documentary, the first time I've ever been writer, director and producer on a feature length project, I've discovered just how challenging it can all be.  I keep thinking about that old circus act -- the one where a guy has all of these plates that he's trying to keep spinning.  The second he gets one of them set, another one or two of them start to fall.

I'm still doing it.  Absolutely committed that, even if I drop a proverbial plate or two, I'm going to make this film happen -- even if only to prove to myself that I can do it.

However, after a little more than a year of trying to make this all happen, I want to apologize to all of the Hollywood producers.  I'm no longer dumbfounded that it takes two years to make a project a reality. 

Instead, I'm amazed that they managed to do it at all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Once again, I feel the need to vent.  This time, though, it's not about some idiot politician or anything like that.

Instead, I want to rant about people who lie.  I know, most people lie at least everyknow and then.

But there are folks, including one woman that I'm really ticked off at, who lie at least once everytime you see them.  And tell really stupid lies, too.

Lies where I know there lying, because it's painfully obvious that they're lying.

And so, I have to stand there -- looking at a blatant liar and wonder if I should (a) call this person out on her lie or (b) let it slide and have her thank that I really am stupid enough to believe her.

Totally frustrating.
It's odd how there are simply some things that I can't bring myself to write about.  Being there as my Dad received the Last Rites.  The cat I saw get hit by a car.  My Dad's funeral.

I've tried writing about them a couple of times in this blog over the past couple of weeks.  However, each time I do, I end up with this desire to smash my head into my computer monitor.  I can write a sentence or two, but nothing more.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

My Dad is in the ICU right now with a terrible case of pheumonia that's made even worse by the fact that he also has asbestosis. The man can't even breath on his own at the moment. They have a trach tube in him and he's on a ventilator.

They have him on other medicines to boost his blood pressure because it's too low to sustain him as it is.

And as if that weren't enough, I heard from the doctors that there's signs that his infection may have spread into his blood stream. They say if it hits any of his other major organs then he won't be with us much longer.

I think the part that's worst, from an emotional standpoint, is the constant see-sawing of it all. Last week, he was doing much better and they were talking about transferring him out of the ICU and into a regular hospital room.

This week, they're talking about him not living much longer.

Along the way, he's had two emergency surgeries. A bunch of small improvements came along the way, too. There were also all of these set-backs.

I just feel so numb.

All of this really reached a head this afternoon when I was driving home from the hospital. I saw some guy run over a little cat. A cute black and white bundle of fur.

By the time I reached him, he was having a death spasm. That final series of frantic twitching that ones body goes through as all life leaves.

I look down at his tiny body, totally surrounded by blood. His eyes seemed so large that they appeared to take up his whole face. And those looked at me for an instant, as if he expected me to do something that I didn't know how to do.

A second later, the spasming stopped. He layed there in the street in peace. No one around me seemed to notice.

"Great," I remember thinking, "one more senseless act of suffering and death that I can't do a damned thing about."

Friday, June 25, 2004

For quite sometime now, I've ranted and raved about the blatant stupidity of various politicians. Now, I guess it's time for me to turn my angst on the private sector.

The State of Michigan requires insurance agents like me to earn 30 credit hours of Continuing Education every 2 years in order to keep an insurance license. (Yes, I've always thought 30 hours of CE was a dumb idea -- but that's another post).

My deadline for earning those credit hours was June 1, 2004. I finished earning them on May 15, 2004 through a private company -- eMind.com.

One would think that this was the end of it, right?

Wrong.

I got my certificates in the mail, showing that I earned 30 credit hours. I assumed that this meant that everything was hunky dory and went on about my life. Selling insurance by day. Trying to put together funding for a film and public access TV show by night.

Then I got surprise.

In the mail, shows up a notice from Michigan's Office of Financial & Insurance Services saying that my license had been suspended because I only earned 29 of the required 30 credit hours.

My first thought was that some beaucrat simply did not know how to count. I certificates in my hand that added up to 30 credit hours. Clearly, a simple phone call to the insurance commission would rectify this.

Wrong again.

Turns out that after I completed my course, the good folks at eMind changed the number of credit hours was good for.

And they never bothered to tell me.

Numerous phone calls later, nothing gets resolved.

Finally, I realized that -- hey, it's only 1 credit hour. I'll go back on-line, take another course for 1 or 2 credit hours and that will be the end of it.

I took that course last Friday. This past Monday, the person in charge of eMind's grading and certification department assured me that my credit hours would be posted by the following Friday (as in today) at the latest.

Guess, what?

Those credit hours still aren't posted.

Meanwhile, my paychecks are in limbo. Some of the policies that I've written are cancelled (or more to the point -- assigned to other agents) because it was illegal for me to sold those policies in the first place.

And I'm stuck, not being able to do anything to earn a living.

I try calling eMind several times. Never get anything but voice mail.

So, now I'm stuck going to another CE provider, paying a lot more money -- I'll to get that 1 stupid credit hour that should have been posted to my record more than a month ago.

All of sudden, I find myself wishing desperately for my people who were as smart as most stupid politicians.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Okay -- my Dad is still in the ICU. I'm still depressed and basically convinced that life is little more than a hopeless, series of existence until one day we get lucky and die.

But I'll get over it.

The way I always do. By ranting about stupid politicians.

The latest thing to piss me off is the Michigan Broadband Development Authority. Turns out that when you live in some of Michigan's more remote areas, there's is a limited number of providers for broadband access.

Some people in northern Oakland County, for example, only have standard dial-up and satelitte based broadband access. The standard DSL and cable providers aren't interested in them because the number of potential users per mile of cable is too low to make it economically viable.

Those poor bastards.

They made a decision to live in an area where there's not a lot of Wi-Fi access to the internet. And now they have to actually live with the consequences of their decision.

What is this country coming to?

People shouldn't have to live with the consequences of a decision.

The government must quickly come to their rescue. Spend millions of dollars to rescue them from reason. Create an agency (the Michigan Broadband Develpment Authority) to make all of this possible.

And raise my taxes to pay for it all.

Yes, that makes perfect sense.

Or at least it does to the morons in Lansing. To everyone else, it's just a large number of tax dollars that I won't get back any time soon.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Argh! I feel like a zombie. I've been this way ever since my Dad went into the ICU.

I don't know. We've never gotten along in that "Leave it to Beaver" sort of a way, but still -- the fact is that when I was growing up, he's the guy that I looked to for some sort strength and guidance.

And now to see him, not even able to breath on his own. Needing a ventilator. Heavily medicated so he doesn't try to pull any of his tubes out. (He's always been a stubborn bastard).

I guess the worst part of it is the constant sense of wondering when the next shoe is going to fall. First, he's going in for a doctor's appointment. Then he's in the hospital. Then he's in ICU. Then he can't breathe on his own. Then he's in emergency surgery because there's no circulation to his leg.

Now there's another round of surgery this week and the possibility that he may have to spend the rest of his life in a nursing home.

No idea how we'll pay for a nursing home, if that's what he needs.

I know that I should snap out of it. Get on with my life. Make my movie. Get a better job. Fix up my car.

So damn many things to do yet I struggle to find the strength to do any of them.

This morning I had 12 items on my "to-do" list. 11 of them are still there.

Truly pathetic.

I pretty much hate myself for being this unproductive.

I know that being this way doesn't help my Dad, or anyone else in my family for that matter. It sure as hell doesn't help me.

I just feel like a zombie. Moving through the world. Occasionally making a noise. But never really accomplishing anything.

And most of all, not really living.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Okay, I suddenly feel old.

I came home from work today. Waiting for me in my mail was an invitation of to my cousin's high school graduation party.

A cousin that I used to baby sit for, once upon a time.

I feel old. Really, really old.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

I swear, if I hadn't seen the video for this story with my own eyes, I simply wouldn't have believed that it was true. A bunch of college students in merry ol' England riding a roller coaster in the nude.

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5032279

My first reaction was one of disbelief.

After a few seconds to let the mental dust settle, I couldn't help but wonder how the laws of physics would impact various body parts. Would the G-forces compress a young woman's breasts to the point that they're not even noticable? Would the gentlemen in the crowd notice an extreme amount of shinking? Or the centrifugal force cause certain body parts to become overly elongated?

Oh, the things my mind ponders.

Of course, I doubt any of the riders at this event even noticed these impacts on their intimate parts. They were too busy being whipped around the track with 3+ Gs.

And, of course, the report from MSNBC failed to shed any light on the subject. (Those guys never ask the important questions).

I guess I'll just have to find my own way of answering these questions. Purely in the interest of science, mind you.

Now, if y'all will excuse me, I have a sudden urge to go buy lots of
sunscreen and pay a lil' visit to Cedar Pointe.

Frank

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Wow! I can hardly believe it. It's been over a month since I've posted anything on here. I feel like a total slacker.

I guess it's just that every time I've felt writing something down, I wasn't anywhere near a computer. Last weekend, for instance, I was thinking about a lot of stuff as I drove home from Chicago (thinking so much that I darn near got into an accident, but that's another story).

But I didn't have my laptop with me, so no blog post came about as a result of all those pensive, introspective moments.

The big thing that I've been thinking about as of late is the idea of losing a parent.

My Dad has had these dizzy spells for awhile now. He'd keep falling all the time. My Mom told me that one time he even fell while trying to sit up in bed.

After a lot prodding, he finally went in to see a doctor. His neurologist wasn't sure what could cause it, so she did an obscene amount of testing. Blood work. An MRI. You name it.

The results came back. She found a tumor in my Dad's brain.

She wasn't sure if it was cancerous or not so -- time to do even more testing.

Another couple of weeks go by before all of those results come back.

The good news is that his brain tumor wasn't cancerous.

The bad news is that as the doctors were doing all their poking and prodding, they discovered that my Dad has asbestosis. (That's that nasty lung condition caused by exposure to asbestos).

My parents celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary last week. That evening, my Mom said she's convinced it will be their last one. Yes, she's always been the fatalists in the family.

Still the prospect of losing my Dad hurts.

The irony of it all is that I once told my high school guidance counselor that I wanted to be the exact opposite of my Dad. I wish I could take the back. I wish I could undo a lot of things.

My main reason for going to college is that it seemed to piss him off somehow (he wanted me to go into some training program and do CAD/CAM work).

There's a portion of me that feels like I should say something meaningful to him while he's still around. I just don't know what that might be.

I just feel numb. Totally numb at the moment.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

I want to move to Australia.

Or at least get some Australian ice cream.

There's a new kind ice cream on the market down under that's actually vodka flavored.

The simple fact that someone thought that up gives me hope for the human race.

And it makes me want to visit Australia.

Monday, April 05, 2004

10 Years Since the World Changed

It's been 10 years since the world changed.

It was on April 5, 1994 that Kurt Cobain took the easy way out and left this world.

I never bought a Nirvana record or attended a single one of their concerts.

I thought labeling him as the Great Spokesman of Generation X was an act of outright blasphemy. My generation is, and was, simply too diverse to ever have any one person as our spokesman.

Consciously, I didn't even pay that much attention to his music. It was always in the background. Always there, but never something that I paid that much attention to.

Still, when I heard that he had left us that April day a decade ago, my heart sank. I felt that the world would somehow never really be the same.

When Courtney Love read his last words in public, having an argument with him from beyond the grave, it only drove the sense of loss and bewilderment home in a way that still resonates with me today.

I actually feel sorry for everyone who was born too late to have albums like "Nevermind" as background music for their daily life. I know that sounds melodramatic. I almost feel like kicking myself for actually saying something like that.

I sound like some over-the-hill loser whining about his lost youth.

But the fact of the matter is that there hasn't been anyone on the music scene since then whose music resonates with the same kind of emotional power that I hear in every song he ever wrote. Comparing him with most of the musical acts that have come along since then is a lot like comparing Niagara Falls with a leaky faucet.

I spent most of today pondering what he would think of music in 2004. I'd like to think he'd be fond of Eminem, what to vomit at the mere thought of Justin Timberlake and hear some promise in bands like Story of the Year.

I'm fairly confident that he'd be annoyed with all of the ads that MSN Entertainment put all over their "tribute" to him.

But the more I think about it, the more confused I become.

The only thing that I know for sure is that the world changed forever 10 years ago today.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Woo-hoo!! All of my ranting in this blog seems to be paying off.

The White House announced today that Condoleezza Rice will indeed testify under oath in front of the 9/11 Commission.

And it's been at least a good week or two since I've heard anyone complain about Senator Kerry not revealing the names of foreign leaders who would prefer him in the Oval Office over George W. Bush.

Now, if only I can get them to stop trying to blame the out of control gas prices on Senator Kerry.

Or convince them to stop claiming that exporting American jobs is good for the American economy.

http//groups.yahoo.com/group/FrankNemecek

Friday, March 26, 2004

What is going on?

I ask myself that a lot when I look at the newspaper these days.

Condoleezza Rice, the Bush administration's National Security Advisor, has seemingly been in front of every reporter and television camera that she can find. Each time, she has criticized Richard Clarke, President Bush's former counter-terrorism czar, and his new book Against All Enemies.

But she refuses to testify under oath in front of the 9/11 Commission.

One has to ask, why is that she'll tell her story on a Sunday talk show but refuse raise her right hand and repeat it under oath?

Is she afraid of the questions that the commissioners will ask her?

Or is she simply worried about be prosecuted for perjury?

Either way, it doesn't paint a very good picture for her, the Bush Administration or our nation as a whole.

Everyone knows that there were mistakes made leading up to 9/11. That's a given.

Moreover, it's not entirely something that one can totally blame the Bush Administration for. Many of these public policy decisions were made during the Clinton Administration. No matter who was elected in 2000, 9/11 probably would have still happened.

Fixing these shortcomings, however, starts with knowing our faults and failings. If key officials within the Bush Administration refuse to testify under oath; to withhold key information then our entire nation's security is ultimately compromised.

The worst part in this mess is the fact that too many people in the news media are letting Dr. Rice slide by. As long as she appears on their talk show, they don't criticize her for not testifying under oath in front of the Commission.

They don't ask questions that are nearly as probing as what the Commission would ask.

Our nation doesn't get the insight that we need to fix what needs to be fixed.

And, in the end, the shortcomings that enabled 9/11 to happen in the first place will likely not be dealt with.

All of this makes me ask -- what in the world is going on here?



Saturday, March 20, 2004

I was cruising through the bookstores the other day and found a great book.



Definately worth a gander.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Okay, here's what I don't get.

Did President George W. Bush and his inner core of advisors learn absolutely nothing from the 1992 election? Or are they actively trying to lose?

On March 8th, Senator John Kerry made a comment at a fundraiser about how some un-named foreign leaders want him to win. The Republicans responded by challenging him name names, which Senator Kerry refused to do - citing a promise of confidentiality to those leaders.

In world run by intelligent people that would have been the end of it.

Instead, the White House has seemingly done everything in its power to keep this story alive.

Secretary of State Colin Powell was on the Sunday talk show circuit, again asking Senator Kerry to name names. Vice President Dick Cheney spoke at a fundraiser in Arizona, demanding that Kerry break his promise and name names. The President himself called on Senator Kerry to break his promise at a press conference with the prime minister from The Netherlands.

From a political standpoint, this is wonderful news to the Democrats. It reminds everyone that the Bush administration has made the United States very unpopular overseas (as if the umpteen demonstrations on our TV sets haven't already established it) and reinforces the notion that Senator Kerry can be counted on to keep his word (he promised confidentiality and he's keeping it - even when everyone is demanding that he not).

All of this reminds me of the Debate Chicken from 1992.

When President H.W. Bush didn't want to debate then Governor Bill Clinton, the Clinton campaign sent a guy in a chicken costume to some of the Bush-Quayle rallies. The Debate Chicken would have been a complete non-issue, a minor league diversion, if President Bush hadn't started talking to it.

Talking to the Debate Chicken gave the story a lot of life. It made people wonder why he'd debate a guy in a chicken suit when he wouldn't debate his Democratic rival.

In the end, the Bush campaign had to give in to growing public pressure and debate Bill Clinton on his terms.

The rest, as they say, is history. George H.W. Bush lost. Bill Clinton won.

And now the younger President Bush seems determined to repeat his father's mistakes on an even grander scale. No longer content with merely beating a dead horse at a campaign stop, he insists on doing in front of a network TV audience.

Unemployment is at a record high. Our coalition in Iraq is coming apart. American soldiers are coming home in body bags by the hundreds, often because the military won't put armor on their vehicles.

And the single thing that President Bush is concentrating on is lambasting Senator Kerry for not breaking a promise.

All of this makes me wonder - did the Republicans learn nothing from 1992? Or they actually trying to throw this election?

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Okay, so it turns out that Mars was once "drenched with water." It turns out that Mars may well have once support life.

We know this. There are thousands of articles and new reports that support it.

Of course, what none of these articles are mentioning is that even ancient, primitive Martians would have known that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Personally, I'd love to have the Mars Rover called home. Maybe it can explore 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Frank
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FrankNemecek
Woo-hoo!!!

I got my first royalty check from my publisher mail today!!!

It was a (very) small check, but it felt good to get that extra bit of recognition for my writing.

There was a moment where I felt like just framing the check instead of actually cashing it. But I decided against it. With all the repairs that I need to do to my car, I can't afford to turn down any amount of money.

So, instead, I'm framing the deposit slip.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Okay, this is just weird.

About an hour or so ago, someone I don't know called my cell phone. I answered and all I heard was some couple having sex rather loudly.

As I was listening, I kept wondering how these people got my number. (Yeah, I guess that's what I get for posting it on-line). Or better yet, why in world would some call just to have me listen to that?

I mean, is it a weird sort of exhibitionism? Or did they just really want me to have something to write about in my blog?

Oh, and then a few minutes later, I came across this article on-line. Turns out some woman in Germany took her neighbor to court of having sex too loudly.

The phone number that this couple called from is saved in my caller ID. Part of me wants to call them back, just to ask, "what were you thinking?" And part of me just wants to erase it and forget those 38 seconds of my life.

Frank
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FrankNemecek

Monday, February 16, 2004

My Rant for Today

Okay, my first thought was to write this big long post how glad I am that Valentine's Day 2004 has come and gone. Or I could write about how I'm already dreading the fact that Valentine's Day 2005 is only 363 days away.

But then I remembered "Frank's Blogger Guarantee."

Since I don't really want to be kicked in the shins any time soon, I'll refrain from any rants about February 14th.

Instead, I'll rant about my car.

It got stolen the other day. It wasn't much (a dark red 1997 Mercury Cougar) but it was mine. And it was fully paid for.

And it was stolen.

And I didn't have any insurance since I was putting all my spare cash towards this upcoming documentary that I want to make this spring.

I was pissed. And I felt like crying. All at the same time.

I guess you could say that half the voices in my head wanted to beat the living crap out of someone. The rest just wanted to lay down and cry.

I did a lot of both for a good day or so. Punching walls. Throwing things. Crying. (All while no one else was around, of course). Worrying about how I was going to get to work and do all of the things that I needed to do. (That one I did no matter who was around).

Not a really great time in my life.

And then I got a phone call.

The Detroit Police Department recovered my car.

Damaged.

Impounded.

But recovered, none the less.

To all the cops out there, thank you. You guys saved my ass that day.

The bill for getting my car out of impound and doing enough repairs for it to be operational again is a little over $1,200. There's some body work that will likely tack another $1,500 or so onto the bill. However, that can wait.

It's still a lot cheaper than buying a new car.

Oh, and all that money that I "saved" by not getting full-coverage on my auto insurance...

Gone.

I'm a licensed insurance agent. I should have known better. (Yeah, I only sell life & health, but I still should have known better).

Some day, I'll look back on all of this and laugh.

Or cry.

Or better yet -- you use it as an example in one of my sales presentations.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Sometimes it seems there are two George Bush's in the White House.

And no, I don't mean father and son.

It's more like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One seemingly noble, honest and courageous individual. And one who seems to be doing all he can to screw the nation over.

This week brought one of the most profound examples I've seen to date.

The Dr. Jekyll version of President Bush hit the road recently, with stops in New York, Pennsylvania and Chicago. He talked about the nation's economy and need to put more Americans to work. He talked about re-gaining the 2.3 million jobs that we've lost during the first 3 years of his presidency.

Honest. Noble. Courageous.

And then came the Mr. Hyde version of the Bush Administration.

A report surfaces that President Bush's team thinks it's a good idea for American jobs to be outsourced to third world countries. Their rationale is that outsourcing jobs makes for cheaper products to the end consumer.

Besides the obvious political repercussions that follow something like this, there's the fact that this is incredibly myopic. Who is going to buy this cheaper good or service if everyone is unemployed?

Unemployed workers, contrary to what folks in the Mr. Hyde White House seem to believe, do not buy much in the way of products and services. And those things that they do buy, tend to be limited to only the fundamental staples of life (i.e., food, clothing and shelter).

I mean, when's the last time you saw a homeless person with a sign that read, "Will work for a big screen T.V."?

Also lost in this debate is the fundamental unfairness of outsourcing to third world nations.

The last time I checked, 1 American dollar was worth roughly 43 Indian rupees on the international exchanges. This gives third world nations a huge advantage.

It's possible for an Indian worker to enjoy a fairly comfortable life with an income of only $11,000 U.S. The American, in contrast, cannot do the same thing.

It is that built-in unfairness that makes the whole concept of wide-scale outsourcing possible in the first place.

It also goes against some of the basic concepts that I've always thought make Americans the people that we are. An eagerness to compete, but a unspoken recognition that the competition must be fair.

The political controversy over outsourcing did prompt the Dr. Jekyl President Bush to distance himself from his economic team. Sort of.

He said, "we need to act in this country." However, he didn't say anything about what he was going to do.

He didn't talk about tightening the gap between the U.S. dollar and other currencies to address the fundamental unfairness in the system.

He certainly didn't talk about the $7 trillion national debt or its growing burden on the American economy.

He just left me wondering who was talking. Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?