November 18th, 2007


Ginkgos ...

I had heard that Ginkgos were "well behaved" trees in that they don't require much maintenance, but this never quite struck home until this past Friday. The street in front of the office is lined with Ginkgos, and I guess there had been a frost on Thursday night, and nearly all the trees had simply dumped their leaves into a nice discreet pile right under the tree ... walking down the block it was bare tree after bare tree, each sitting on a carpet of yellow ginkgo leaves. Wish I'd had my camera to add a pic to this reminiscence!

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What a day ...

Hither, thither, and yon ... Daughter #1 and I took eight different public transportation trips! First we dropped off her friend who had stayed over after we all went out to see the Lights Parade (which kicks off the "holiday shopping season" here) last night ... the parade route begins up on Oak St., just a block or so away from us, so if we snag a spot a half hour or so before the start we have a great view, and are just minutes away from home when it's over.

This morning we first grabbed the #22 Clark up to Diversey ... I noticed that an old friend from highschool (and college) got on the bus, and he ended up getting off at Diversey as well, so we had a while to chat while Daughter #1 and I waited for the #76 Diversey bus. We took that west, across the River, and got off at Logan to go to the MicroCenter up on Elston. Daughter #1 has a science fair project coming up where she's looking at different "fan types" and I figured that the most cost effective way of doing this was to pick up an array of computer case cooling fans ... we were able to get 3 with noticeably different blade shapes/alignments that she'll be able to use that as her study (we'd previously picked up one of those wind guage things to measure the output), and I was happy to get out of there for less than twenty bucks. We then walked over and got the #49 Western to hop down to Fullerton where we caught the #74 Fullerton and took that back over to the Red Line stop. Today they were doing the "Holiday (aka Santa) Train" on the Red Line, and The Girls were eager to catch that. Daughter #1 and I ended up with about 45 minutes to spare, so we grabbed a bite (and a coffee), and then headed up to wait for Sanity Clause. True to CTA form, the train was late (there were two other Red Line trains that came through following the "scheduled" time), but it's always a gas. Aside from Santa in a huge sled, with life-sized reindeer on a flatbed railcar, the interior of the passenger cars are all done up with special upholstery, lights, decorations, and hilarious (well, maybe "hilarious" is over-stating it) ads and jokes, and a couple of CTA employees dressed as elfs handing out candy canes to the riders. It's a fun program, and is done by the CTA employees on their own time every year.

Anyway, the next part was the tricky bit, as The Wife and Daughter #2 were going to catch up with us as the Santa train came through Clark & Division. I watched out for them, and popped my head out, but they still ended up a couple of cars back from us. We all got off at Monroe and headed up to catch the #20 Madison bus to get out to the United Center The reason we were heading over there was that when I heard that I was getting Thursday and Friday off next week, we decided that we'd go see the Circus on Friday (like we did last year), but the cost of getting these on-line is compounded by the damn Ticketmaster "convenience charge", which we figured was worth a little side-trip to avoid. Well, it turned out even better than avoiding the charge, as The Girls had these "discount coupons" from school, but I guess that Friday morning show wasn't selling particularly well, so we got 4 "main floor" tickets (we were in "nosebleed" last year) for just $9 each (originally $24 each), which meant that we ended up getting our tickets for a total of $36 which would have been something like $115 had we gone through Ticketmaster ... plus I got a chance to take pictures of the Michael Jordan statue, that I'd never really had a chance to check out before.

After that, we grabbed the #20 Madison bus back into the Loop where The Wife did a bit of shopping at Office Depot, and the we again managed to catch the "Santa Train" on it's north-bound run! Daughter #1 and I peeled off to get some FedEx supplies for me to get some things out for work tomorrow, while The Wife and Daughter #2 hit the grocery store, and we were all back home by 5 ... albeit (speaking for myself, at least) exhausted.

I apologize for not having pictures ready to post, but I laid down to watch the Bears game, and haven't been able to work up the energy to get out the laptop and download the pics from the camera as yet. Maybe tomorrow.

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As Spock would say ... "Fascinating"

Wow ... just took a quiz that I saw over in hollie_is_right's journal, which is USA Today's effort to do a match-your-candidate survey ... The Candidate Match Game

It's an interesting format, with bar charts re-writing under pictures of each of 17 candidates for every question you answer. Also, once you're done, you can give "weighting" to the various subject areas, which then moves things around again. It's fun, it's graphic, and it's also the FIRST time that "my guy", Ron Paul, actually came in #1 on one of these quizzes for me!

My results were:
1. Ron Paul
2. Fred Thompson
3. Mitt Romney
... which, interestingly enough, is pretty much how I'd rank my top 3.

What really shocked me (holding a card up to the screen to see how the next bunch lined up) was in the next three:

4. Rudy Giuliani
5. Sam Brownbeck

I am stunned ... Her Satanic Majesty came in ahead of 3 Republicans (Huckabee, McCain, and Tancredo) ... it makes me feel so tainted!.

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Do go get a copy of this book ...

I've been putting off reading some of my "conservative" books for a while because, despite the refreshing feeling of reading something in the political sphere that I actually agree with, the subjects brought up in these tend to depress the hell out of me. I really like Mona Charen's books, as they are massively annotated (over 700 source references for a 236-page book), and she, unlike Ann Coulter, never embarrasses with forays into thumping for religion.

A follow-up to her excellent book Useful Idiots, which took a look at how the Liberal/Left was complicit in the scourge of totalitarian (primarily those of the Communist bent, of course) states around the globe over the past half century and more, Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help (and the Rest of Us) turns its attention to the disaster that Liberal/Left policies have wrought at home, the core concept appearing in this paragraph from the introduction:
Are liberals truly more concerned about the poorest and weakest members of society than other Americans? Or are they simply in love with the idea of their own righteousness? When you demonstrate indifference to the harmful effects of your supposedly benevolent efforts, isn't it fair to call your motives into question? Besides, throughout the past four decades, liberals have caused real damage. If that is "compassion", then clearly we need a great deal less of it.
I found the bit about "the idea of their own righteousness" a sterling observation, as damn near every Liberal that I have ever known was more into how "they felt" rather than the ultimate effects of what they were doing to create those warm fuzzies!

This book looks at social hot buttons such as law and order, race relations, the rise of the Welfare state, the destruction of the "traditional" family, the root causes of homelessness, and the decay of education. Here's a sample of what she says about the penultimate of those:
Homelessness came into being because liberal policy makers embraced a series of foolish ideas. They themselves were alienated from society, and so they romanticized the mentally ill and transformed them into social critics. This was unjust both to American society and to the mentally ill themselves, who paid a terrible price for the liberals' social experiment.
Frankly, most of the ills discussed in the book can be traced back to "foolish ideas" embraced by self-centered idealists whose basic drive was making themselves look "smart" or "enlightened" to their narrow peer group! However, as small as the Liberal/Left "theoretical core" might have been, they had a HUGE cheering section in the press, especially in the post-Watergate press filled with Quixotic warriors seeking to take down the next Dragon of normalcy, sanity, or tradition. For most of the past 40 years, there has not been a Leftist lie too blatant for the Press to ignore investigating, preferring to grab the falsehood and advance it by any means possible ...
The Democrats, of course, can say the moon is a balloon. Without the echo chamber of the press, their words would scarcely ripple the capital's reflecting pool. But the liberal press amplifies and dignifies the Democrats' charges, giving the most partisan and unjustified attacks the patina of statesmanship.
Needless to say, this is certainly the case today, with the Democratic leadership (and their allies in the media and academia) daily spewing out venom with no basis in fact, that goes on to become "common knowledge" among the unquestioning mass that still relies on the Left-controlled MSM ...
(claiming that "[test scores] don't tell us anything" is) a familiar do-gooder trope. If the facts don't support your point of view, dismiss the facts as irrelevant.
... after all, who needs facts if your "goals" are pure enough ... can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, right? Arrgh! I get enraged just thinking of this.

Anyway, Do-Gooders is another of those books that I really wish EVERYBODY would read, but I doubt any Liberals out there would dare to (after all, their friends would be mortified to know somebody who was reading a "blacklisted" conservative author and would probably freeze them out as a turn-coat for the simple act of considering the evidence!), and I fear it will only raise the bloodpressure of the conservatives. This is, however, available for very little at the moment. Amazon's new/used vendors have the trade paperback available new for only 1¢ (an even $4 with shipping), and Amazon has the hardcover at a special bargain price of just $4.99 ... I've been considering buying six (gotta get that free shipping) just to have extra copies to give out! It's still in print, so you can likely even get it through your local brick-and-mortar store, but DO go get a copy, and marvel at the horrors that Liberalism has foisted on our once-great country!

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