April 25, 2006

off to Minneapolis

Heading out to Minneapolis for a conference the next few days. This year it's already been DC, Orlando, Eugene, Tahoe and Seattle. Tomorrow it's Minneapolis, then in the next few months it's Denver, Reno, Seattle, and Minneapolis again. And if I'm really really really lucky, another side trip to Seattle again.

If you look in my job description, it does not mention travel anywhere. Still, as long as someone else is paying, who am I to complain? Airplanes and lonely hotel rooms are great places to get some writing done.

Speaking of writing, a quick update: No recent rejections. I submitted another short story, so I have four out for consideration right now and will be submitting another one at the end of the week, plus I'll send out a poem in a couple weeks. But I'm back at my novel, and I've met a successful author (over 40 books published) who also does writing classes, and her initial feedback is so positive that I'm thinking that I might be on to something.

must be an election year!

I just read that Bush has relaxed regulations so refineries can produce more gasoline without those pesky environmental concerns. All of you with 8 MPG SUVs can once again return to the pump this summer. In the same announcement, he said that no oil would be set aside for the national petroleum reserves for the next several months. Immediately after Bush's announcement, oil prices dropped.

Normally, gas prices rise dramatically after the July 4th weekend and then fall again in winter. Also, incumbents fare less well when gas prices are extra high. The Republicans know these things, of course, and they are desperate to ease the pressure for this November's elections.

Bush managed to do several things in one fell swoop:

  1. screw the environment
  2. help the oil companies, who just happen to be making record quarterly profits
  3. feed America's "oil addiction," which just days ago he touted as a primary national concern
  4. keep our oil reserves low, which will be terrible in the case of another major disaster
  5. perpetuate our dependence on foreign oil, hurting our national security in the long run
The ONLY reason for making these decisions is to keep gasoline prices close to their current levels for a short time, perhaps, say, oh, maybe... through October?

My 1994 Toyota 4Runner, an SUV, gets about 16 MPG. While I would love to get a hybrid instead, my conscience is clear because I drive it only about 35 miles a week, or a full tank roughly every other month. I just got rid of my gas-powered lawn mower and got a leg-powered "reel" mower. I am doing my part to reduce America's "oil addiction," and I plan to figure out even more ways to be more efficient with our driving.

Bush, however, is rewarding rich, suburban republicans driving their Suburbans and Tahoes and Hummers with their fading yellow magnets that say, "Support Our Troops" and in the process screwing the environment, our children, our troops, the working poor, and our nation's long term economic health. When you are in debt, economic health is not created by raising your credit limit. Economic health is created by fiscal responsibility. Bush prefers raising the credit limit and toxifying the environment.

It really makes me physically ill to think of the arrogance, the sense of entitlement, the utter denial that most people have about their gasoline usage. How often do I hear someone say, "But I NEED the Tahoe/Suburban/Hummer... nothing else is big enough for three kids." Funny. When I was growing up, my dad and his three kids got around just fine in a small sedan.

Anyway, back to the point: I hate paying high gas prices, but the blatant disregard Bush shows for the environment, disaster preparedness, and national security is galling. All for a few pennies per gallon at the pump, which may or may not buy Republicans a few percentage points in November's election.


April 24, 2006

still a little left in the tank...

(Nope, not a political post about gas prices, how they've risen because of the war, the obscene profits being made by the oil companies, or how gas prices should have risen further but Bush decided to open the national oil reserves to keep prices lower before the election... no, this is a post about soccer.)

Yesterday morning my over-30 soccer team trotted onto the field with our third-string goalkeeper between the sticks and just seven field players, one of which was at about 50% due to a mysterious injury in his hamstring. Our opponent had a full squad and three subs. We figured we were in for a very long and tiring 90 minutes. (Or, this being a Cup game, possibly 120 minutes plus penalty shots.)

We looked over our numbers and decided to play a 3-3-1, which turned into a 3-4-0 after a bit, which sort of devolved into a 2-5-0, with all seven of us trying to cover large sections of the field. 25 minutes into the first half, the injured guy got hurt more and essentially wandered around trying to get in the other team's way until halftime. Then he dropped out. So we switched to a 3-3-0. Our opponent managed only about four decent chances in the first half, and we managed three of our own and even a couple corner kicks. Our goalkeeper, being a tall guy, actually went all the way forward for the corners, but we failed to score. Just before halftime, the opponent managed a good corner kick and scored off a header. After all, it's not easy to mark all 10 men with just 7.

The second half saw more of the same despite being four men down. It took about 35 of the 45 minutes for the opponent to salt away their second goal (which was a weak bouncer that just eluded the keeper's hands), and we had some very good defending in the box. Again, we had a couple decent chances ourselves, and it was hard not to be proud of the final 2:0 score.

I'm a little sore today, but with my 39th birthday coming up I think I can feel pretty good about my fitness. It really was a good game on our part, though it helped that the opponent is simply not a very good team.

April 19, 2006

saving the world one pint at a time

Give blood today. I did.

(And you thought this post was about beer, didn't you?)

April 12, 2006

fourth time the charm, or I'm Just Not Good Enough

A Love Sonnet to Rejection

A rising eastern brightness wakens me--
Oh shit I might be late to work today--
In twilit corners I attempt to see
The cleanest clothes to don without delay.

The traffic's light; the train is right on time!
My fears, ill-founded, fade by clicks and clacks.
I close my eyes and drift to thoughts sublime
While rain outside purrs gently on the tracks.

An email in my inbox lurks in bold;
I see it's from that web site as I sit.
My tingling skin feels blood beneath it cold
I'm sure it's not rejection... is it? Shit!

The email says, "It's good, but we will pass."
Well, they can pucker up and kiss my ass!

April 7, 2006

"spending restraint"

In an article about the federal budget proposal unraveling in the House today, CNN.com quotes Bush as saying, "If necessary, I will enforce spending restraint through the exercise of the veto."

This is the same president that has made a habit of leaving the Iraq war out of the annual budget and then asking for "emergency" funding for the war in the hundreds of billions.

Is anyone fooled by Bush trying to spin himself as the "spending restraint" president?

But wait... since Republicans control both houses of Congress, doesn't Bush's statement imply that Republicans are unable to exercise fiscial restraint without his personal involvement via presidential veto? Republicans can't restrain government spending? Republicans are the party of "big government"?

Welcome to Wonderland, Alice. Have a piece of cake.

rats and a leaking ship

If the President authorizes a "leak" of classified information, and the President has the authority to declassify information, wouldn't that in and of itself stop the "leak" from being a "leak"? It would make the Plame leak no longer illegal, right? Essentially, if Libby got permission from the prez to drop the info on a reporter, that would essentially amount to declassifying the information.

Then why all the coverup in the White House?

The problem in the White House is that they have a serious problem with ethics. Courage is doing the right thing when no one is looking. Cowardice is doing the wrong thing and covering it up. THIS is the problem with the tendency towards secrecy in the Bush administration.

It may turn out that the biggest illegal activity was Libby's alleged lying to the grand jury. If Bush authorized the "leak," then it would no longer be a leak per se, it would just be an unethical (though legal) abuse of Bush's power as president. But as Bush has shown again and again, ethics and courage don't matter much in his administration; the public will again let him off the hook on the technicality that he didn't specifically break any law.

Maybe by now I should expect politicians to be corrupt, unethical, and untrustworthy. And maybe I'd say "so what" about Bush, as I mostly did with Clinton's misdeeds. But Bush's decisions have led directly to the death of over 2,300 American soldiers (talk about courage) and countless innocent Iraqis, and there is strong argument that indicates he has increased the world's terrorism, not decreased it. He's a policy disaster, and the entire kit and caboodle of them comprise an ethical quagmire.

But hey, as long as the Nascar Nation feels they can have a beer with him at a backyard barbecue, he makes a great leader of the free world, eh?

April 4, 2006

A few minutes ago in Chicago...

The time was 01:02:03 04/05/06. In just under two hours it will be that time here. Cool.

Rejected Again (again)!

Sestina got canned
I worked really hard on it
Ok, not that hard

I'll show them, I will
They've not heard the last of me
I've got another

April 3, 2006

a depressing time of year

I hate baseball season. The fact that the Earthquakes moved to Houston and left the Bay Area with no MLS team makes it worse. I'm happy the World Cup is this year, but still... once tonight's basketball game is over there is little else to look forward to until late August when college football starts up again.

I can think of no sporting reason that baseball became our "national pastime." It's so lame they can't even play it in a light rain. 95% of the game consists of three players--the pitcher, the catcher, and the batter.

I had the opportunity to hear Ken Burns speak last year, and he gave me the only credible reason I can think of that baseball is so popular. You hear football fans say, "Remember that [catch|goal-line tackle|etc.] that won that game?" You hear basketball fans say, "Jordan was really something that day he scored 60." You hear baseball fans say, "Remember that time we piled in the back of the station wagon and dad took us to Fenway?" That is, the experience is not about the sport but about family, friends, atmosphere.

I think that's one reason soccer is so popular elsewhere in the world but not in the USA. I play on a team, and the only spectators we get are the occasional wife and kids that are dragged along. We sometimes play on fields next to a Latino game--in our area it's mostly Mexicans--and there are literally hundreds of people out with barbecues, kids, coolers... it's a whole community event.

I guess that's why baseball is so popular. The game's pace (glacial) lends itself to frequent trips to the barbecue, bathroom, beer cooler, Asia, etc. It becomes a community event, not a game.

But I really wish the blight on sports that is Major League Baseball would wither and fade away. Sure, it would put some sportswriters out of work, but overall the impact on America would be positive.