3.30.2004

truly sorry for your loss - hey, stop me if you've heard this one....

now playing: vertical horizon, "miracle"




i'm starting to feel that perhaps middle america isn't going to be the bastion of bush support that i've felt it would be up to now. a short excerpt from an article in todays' washington post:


DUBUQUE, Iowa

In the days and months after Michael J. Deutsch was killed by a land mine as he drove an armored personnel carrier down a road near Baghdad International Airport, various reminders of his short life and untimely death came home to his parents in this Middle American river city on the Mississippi.

The First Cavalry shipped back his military belongings in a duffel bag and two boxes. Michael died on the last day of July last year, at 21, but the bag and boxes remained unopened for months. His mother, Ilene, said she was not ready for the wave of grief that would wash over her again if she sorted through the artifacts of her youngest boy's final days. The U.S. Army also sent home a Bronze Star, Michael's posthumous award, and his father, Wayne, wears the small star unobtrusively, without talking about it, pinned to the collar of his shirt.

From the state of Iowa, the Deutsch family received a perfectly folded American flag that flew for one day in Michael's honor above the Capitol in Des Moines. And from the White House came a letter of condolence signed by President Bush. Two letters, actually.

"The exact same one, twice," Wayne Deutsch noted dryly, sitting at the kitchen table of their wood-frame house in Dubuque's working-class North End neighborhood. "What does that tell you? It was a form letter."......

.....Ilene Deutsch listened to her husband's lament as she stood by the kitchen stove. For several hours, she had politely refrained from answering questions about the politics of the war. She was afraid of what she might say. Now it came flooding out, along with the tears. "They didn't have a clue what was going to happen once the war was over. No anticipation. Bush had no idea," she said. "I don't like George Bush. We are listed as independents, but I will never vote for him. Surely he didn't look at the long range. . . . He didn't have a clue."



(for the entire article, click here.)





3.29.2004

lucky seven

now playing: peter stuart, "bring you back"


well, the day is half over, and it's been everything i thought it would...although i have to mentally utter a word of thanks to our drafting boys, who completely set themselves up without so much as a word or a phone call....they rock.

turns out i was wrong about the HR setup - it was apparently just as they'd intended for it to be put back in place...while not the way it was, it does make a lot more sense, in hindsight - but it didn't make it any easier to set up than it would've been were it left the old way.

i've definitely come to the conclusion, now that this is over, that it was the right thing to do in some instances to wait until the user was at their desk on monday morning before setting up their equipment. some folks simply wanted their equipment returned to its old location...but there were a great many for whom some degree of change had taken place, and i'm just not comfortable making those kinds of decisions for them. they have to sit there every day, all day long, and they deserve some say in how its arranged.

so there.

muriel, in HR, was her usual self...here's a sample snippet of a conversation:

muriel: that wasn't there before.
tom (me): where was it then?
muriel: oh, it doesn't matter where it goes...
tom (me): then why did you bring it up, then?
muriel: oh, no reason...i just wanted you to be aware that it wasn't there before.


now repeat that conversational snippet, vary the subject line, and you'll have a pretty good idea of muriels' charming effect on people.

it occured to me over the weekend that this spring, it will be seven years since our mutual angels came out. seven years. hell, let's elaborate....seven years, two girlfriends, three jobs, a fiance', two wives, three apartments and a house ago.

you'd fuckin' think, out of all that, i'd have something to have written about in the time since.

somehow, the thought of writing a song holds no appeal whatsoever for me right now. increasingly, the thought of playing guitar in a band is losing its appeal, for some reason. i'm hoping that this is a temporary thing, and i have every reason to think it probably is. i think this is the result of backing into a rut that i just can't seem to shake. i can't put my finger on whether this is a musical rut or a personal one.

i'm inclined to think the latter.

musically, i think i had expected better things of the band i play in the most by now. we're coming into april, and six months ago, i thought that this summer would be the best season we'd ever had. i anticipated spending our downtime learning a ton of new songs that would kick ass, songs that no other bands were even contemplating doing - working on vocal harmonies, tightening up in general. instead, our secret weapon has left the band, and we're doing tired-assed zz top songs, practicing once in a great while, and making no headway whatsoever on regaining what we lost vocally when we let shawn go. while donnie's a great guitar player, he seems reluctant to sing, unless it's a lead vocal part - when we work harmonies out, they seem to be quickly forgotten or consigned to confusion later on.

donnie and i keep talking about this imaginary point that we're going to get to where we're going to sit down, the two of us, and work out a ton of stuff that we've been planning on working out for a long time. it's more my fault than his that this hasn't happened yet, but it hasn't happened yet. it very well could, though. sometime.

but there's no denying that not having quin around anymore has taken some wind outta my sails.

for the last few weeks, in fact, i've been making regular stops to the classified boards on the internet, just looking around to see what's out there. what i've been finding is pretty depressing - most of it has only served to emphasize my dinosaur status in my head. and it's certainly done nothing to stir any creative juices, in terms of wanting to put anything new out into the world.

i had a long talk on friday with darren from frog holler about the current state of affairs - his band has been quite successful, and they just released their fourth album, railings, to some great reviews...and he's pondering how to take it to the next level and keep everything under the same roof it's been under. he's wary of outsiders elbowing their way into the fray and diluting the recipe, and rightfully so. he's also trying to balance the need to tour and do the right things to take the next steps with the needs of the guys in the band, which i have to think to be a source of insanity. i don't know how that's done. i do know, however, that you gotta believe in what you're doing far more than i ever did to even try.




3.28.2004

the real first day of spring

now playing: tori amos, "a sorta fairytale"


i'm here at work, and something is amiss.

today, i elected to spend the day in some fashion other than coming in at noon (not long after having gotten out of bed) and putting PC's back in their places while the sun shone and a welcome breeze was afloat in the air outside my window. so i blew off coming in at the usual time, and woke with wendy and went to our favorite summer food spot - a glorified ice cream stand just down from antique row in adamstown, pennsylvania that sits on a creek bank where you can eat and watch the ducks float downstream, avoiding the pebbles chucked into the water by the toddlers who make their way down the hill to the creek. after we ate, we drove through adamstown into ephrata and then to new holland and back through to morgantown and then home, listening to an audio copy of josephine tey's "a schilling for candles". (we'd just finished with her first novel, the man in the queue, a couple of weeks ago. i was shocked to find that, upon looking up a link for her, that this book was written in two weeks for a contest. kinda makes nanowrimo seem extravagant in its tolerance, from a time perspective.)

anyway, all this aside, i came in to work to find that, while it was apparent that the carpeters had been here and done their thing, furniture had only been returned to a couple of spots...the drafting department is completely empty, and the HR area has been put back together in a somewhat suspect manner...and, since i came in late, i'm not sure what the hell happened here.

so, methinks i will do what i can and return home to possibly watch some tv and relax a bit before starting the week off with what will no doubt be a bang tomorrow.

some thoughts about this weekends' shows as well, soon.






3.26.2004

watershed moments

now playing: shane nicholson, "designed to fade"


ever heard a record in its entirety that you knew was going to be important for a long, long time?

you really only get a few of those in your lifetime, i think. or such has been the case with me.

in this age of access to mp3s and music coming out of everything that plugs into the wall, mix-cd's all over the place - it just seems that albums...real collections of songs...are a total lost art.

so, when you trip over a record that not only holds together as a cohesive work, but manages to touch that special spot in your heart as a collective piece instead of as a bunch of individual songs...well, it's pretty goddamn rare.

rumours from fleetwood mac.

august and everything after from counting crows.

late for the sky from jackson browne.

isle of view from jimmie spheeris.


if i had to write down my high fidelity-esque, all time, top five list, then the record i'm listening to right now would round it out.

it's a movie by shane nicholson.

this is an actual album - every song on this record is amazing. and it stands together as a collective work. there's no filler anywhere on this record.

there's a deep sense of satisfaction that you get when you discover something that you know as you're exploring it for the first time that it's going to be an important piece of work to you for a long time.

i'm just gonna sit back and enjoy this.





3.25.2004

for the guy who has....

now playing: aunt pat, "fire"


if i hadn't had to go to the bathroom when i woke up this morning, i probably would have called off work.

is that pathetic or what?

i woke up with the full intention of calling off. i'm just completely out of gas, physically and emotionally. i was planning on sleeping until noon and spending the day shiftlessly cleaning the basement and feeling sorry for myself, but when i hit the snooze button the last time, i realized that i kinda needed to go to the bathroom, and once in there i just went ahead and jumped in the shower. At that point, there wasn't much use in going back to bed.

yesterday was exhausting. i feel useless at work, because we haven't really been able to unpack yet, and there are only certain things i can get done as a result. so at almost precisely the moment that wendy calls to tell me she's here with the car, an engineer walks in and hands me a stack of drawings for a project i've been involuntarily sucked into and proceeds to start asking questions...as he's sitting at my desk, i get an email from dylan's english teacher, telling me that dylan has gotten detention for failure to make up required work, and for not keeping his notes in order. as steve is sitting here asking questions about controller interfaces and such, i can feel the blood drain from my face in anger...i'm surprised he didn't say anything about it, but he left not long afterward.

so then, of course, i have to race out to the parking lot to take wendy to work at the library - and i'm so pissed i can't even talk, really. luckily, she's become adept at realizing when to push the issue and when not to, so we rode to the library in silence. after i dropped her off, i went to the house and retrieved the email and printed a copy of it, adding some choice words of my own, and then taped it to the door at his mothers' house.

to say that i was pissed would be something of an understatement.

see, here's the thing.

i've scheduled conferences already, with the two teachers who are burdened with the daunting task of trying to educate my son, in between parent teacher conferences already, to no avail. i've held back things from him, with zero effect. he's missed out on things that would've been his for the asking, without any real results.

i'm truly starting to wonder what it is that i have to do to get through to him.

it's not that he's stupid, not by any stretch - he's actually very bright. but his head isn't in it. he constantly forgets things - his bus pass, his key, his bookbag, his coat - and then trys to gloss over it by lying.

that's the thing that really makes me see red...the lying.

this is a kid that will stand in front of you holding a half eaten sandwich in his hand and tell you to your face that he hasn't eaten anything all day. he will tell you, with utmost sincerity, that black is white, up is down, and left is actually right...and convince you that he believes it himself.

now, were i twelve years old, if i had the knowledge that my mother or father had a direct line to my teachers and could double check anything i said, i'd be mighty careful of what i said to my parents, for fear of being caught or found out.

not him. he's as brazen a fibber as i've ever seen, adult or child.

the stakes are pretty high for him, and he knows this...i bought him a guitar that he's wanted since before christmas - a faded cherry gibson flying v - and was planning on giving it to him for his birthday. i'd already called the guy i bought it from and made plans to meet him yesterday to pay him for the guitar and pick it up, in fact. i had told him, after his last report card, that he wouldn't lay eyes on it until i saw his next report card, but since he'd been making what i perceived as an improved effort, i was going to give it to him for his birthday.

but he blew it.

now, i'm actually considering selling the guitar.

lord knows, it's not something i'd play.

and obviously, based on his behavior, it's not that important to him.

but i'm still on the fence.

his mother has taken away his Yu-gi-oh cards and his Playstation priveleges for the rest of the school year. I'm taking away his Playstation priveleges, and am holding his birthday money from him (a sizable sum for a 12 year old...if i'd gotten a fraction of the $125 he was going to get at that age, i'd have soiled my undies). i'm considering removing the tv and computer from his room, as well. i'm pretty sure he keeps all his cards together, so i won't have to take them from him at my house as well.

so, at this point, the only thing he has left to lose is the guitar.

what else do you take from the guy who has nothing left?

i hate this. i really do.


this is my absolute least favorite part of being a parent.





3.24.2004

happy birthday, jayda and dylan...

now playing: shane nicholson, "designed to fade"


twelve and fourteen score years ago, their founding parents set forth on this continent a new boy and girl, respectively...

jayda and dylan are fourteen and twelve on this day in history....happy birthday, you guys.









granted, they look a little different nowadays - but forever young in their fathers' eyes.

i love you guys.




just say no....mo' money

now playing: dar williams, "mortal city"



on CNN, today, contained in a story on Tenets' testimony to the 9/11 commission, is the following blurb:

A staff summary released by the commission highlights in part unsuccessful diplomatic efforts to undermine bin Laden. It describes a sustained government effort between the spring of 1997 to September 2001 to convince the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan to expel bin Laden.

"The efforts included inducements, warnings and sanctions," the summary said. "All these efforts failed."


i guess the $125 million dollars given to the Taliban by the US in 2001 alone (under the guise of "humanitarian aid") was a pretty seriously strong inducement. they also gave them an additional $43 million on may of 2001 for the "official" banning of poppy cultivation. the result of this "ban"?

"Taliban rulers had agreed to assist us in our senseless drug war by declaring opium growing "against the will of God." They weren't serious, of course. Although reliable economic data for Afghanistan is nearly impossible to find (there simply is not much of an economy), the reality is that opium is far and away the most profitable industry in the country. The Taliban was hardly prepared to give up virtually its only source of export revenue, any more than the demand for opium was suddenly going to disappear. If anything, Afghanistan's production of opium is growing. Experts estimate it has doubled since 1999; the relatively small country is now believed to provide the raw material for fully 75% of the world's heroin." (source)

interesting that the equally futile "war on drugs" ties in with the "war on terra" at this juncture in such a manner. equally obvious, when you add this to the mix, how necessary iraq became as a "smoke and mirrors" punching bag, to the avoidance of the real enemy in this war.

"all these efforts failed", the commision says.

personally, if the kid who's leaving flaming brown bags of shit on my porch and ringing the doorbell is staying down the street, i don't think i'm gonna be inclined to pay his parents' mortgage.

however, i am writing my congressman this afternoon and telling him that i'm instituting an official ban on poppy growth at 511 chestnut street in west reading, and giving him my checking account number so that he can just wire my cash directly into my account.



3.22.2004

tired and nostalgic

now playing: blue oyster cult, "don't fear the reaper" (with no added cowbell)



...so....last night was the broadcast of the 2004 rock and roll hall of fame induction ceremony. made my heart swell to see jackson browne inducted, but was disappointed not only that david lindley didn't make the trip, but that mark goldenberg didn't make much of an effort to recreate the vibe that david created in 'running on empty'. the only guitar players jackson has had that didn't leave a lindley-esque void were kevin dukes and rick vito (who also played the amazing slide guitar solo on bob seger's 'like a rock'). i never saw rick play with jackson, but i did see kevin dukes play with him, at the hammersmith odeon in london in 1986. great show.

had i posessed the energy last night, i'd have probably stayed up and watched almost famous, but i pooped out.

feeling very musically nostalgic lately, for a number of reasons...and not feeling particularly like discussing any of them right now.

goin' home soon, i think.






3.19.2004

conspicuous in our collective absence

now playing: david crosby, "orleans"

top story on cnn right now:

"U.S. official: Pakistanis suffering 'a lot of casualties'"

so right now, as i'm preparing to lay me down to sleep, Pakistanis are dying in battle to smoke out Al-Qaeda's leadership and possibly capture the number two man in the AQ chain of command...

so why aren't we there?

where is the US militarys' big stick now? if we're so fucking gung-ho with this "war on terror" shit, why aren't we out there, mixing it up with them to flush this guy out?

our priorities in this so-called war are so glaringly misaligned that i can't conceive of how anyone buys this shit anymore. iraq couldn't have less to do with the war on terror if we made it the goddamn fifty-first state.



office irrigation

now playing: clannad, "harry's game"


i have a new favorite song for a little while, thanks to paste magazine and the CD that they include with the mag...others have tried this concept before, but invariably the included CD would have one, maybe two good songs and a shitload of critic-pleasing crap that forms an indignant rash on your ass.

paste, however, has gotten it right.

there are a few names on here that fans of this style of music would recognize - starsailor, jonatha brooke, matthew ryan, for instance...but the disc is dominated by artists that i was marginally familiar with or not at all.

i'm now a fan of a.j. roach, thanks to his song "grandaddy", a tale of his whiskey-running grandfather and the community where he grew up. garrison starr is represented on the disc by a song called "gasoline" - jayda and i know her from a hit she had some years ago called "superhero" that i have a recording of jayda singing from '97 or so...when she was seven.

the standout on this disc, for me, is shane nicholson and his song, "nice to be here".

simply put, this is just an amazing song, recorded sparsely by a great singer. if neil finn of crowded house had come of age in los angeles in 1973 and had been a contemporary of the southern california mafia, this song would have been a likely result.

i'm considering picking up the whole album - he's definitely got my attention.

i'm considering subscribing to paste, too.



so today is the day that we pack up the entire shop and move it out into the hallway while they scrape our nasty-assed carpet off the floor and replace it with clean, nasty-assed carpet. it's the kind of thing you look forward to in the same sense as you would look forward to colon irrigation. the benefits are obvious enough, but that doesn't make the mechanics of it any less dreadful. i haven't even started to pack up the shop yet.

it's gonna be a long night.





3.16.2004

name names

now playing: stephen stills, "word game"


couldn't help but noticing the following headline on cnn this morning:

White House to Kerry: Name Names

(this, in reference to the statement that kerry made recently that foreign leaders were rooting for him to beat bush in november)

now, how much cooler would it have been if the headline had read instead:

White House to Novak: Name Names


of course, when you think about it, it makes absolute sense that BushCo would demand such information, since they have no problem sharing priveleged information themselves....





3.14.2004

sunday night

now playing (in my head): marty higgins, "hope for us"


8 1/2 hours at work today, and still didn't finish everything i needed to do. i left notes on selected desks, explaining the chaos that will most surely ensue first thing in the morning.

it never ends.

seriously.

so, it's 9:30, i have a couple of chicken patties in the toaster oven, and i'm gonna eat something quickly and probably go to bed. i don't really have the energy for much else.

however, thanks to josh marshall and his sidebar ads, i've developed a serious, serious crush on stephanie herseth. she's such a babe.

i want to move to south dakota and have her baby...but, of course, this isn't possible.

sigh.

this is how pathetic i've become in my politicism...i'm crushing on candidates now.

i did manage to do some work on blake's album this weekend - perhaps, before i go to bed, i'll stumble upstairs to the studio and listen to my work to see if it still holds up.


tired. tired. tired.





3.12.2004

as the weekend approaches...

now playing: jimmie spheeris, "come back"

(before i get started - jimmie spheeris was an amazing talent. if you've never heard his early seventies masterpiece isle of view, you really owe yourself. you won't regret it.)


well, let's see...lots of nerve endings close to the skin at work today - managers' meeting that preceded tomorrow's (today's?) companywide meetings that essentially equate to a small-scale State of the Union address was today (yesterday?).

while this kind of opportunity for a self-congratulatory ego stroke-orgy may not appear to require much effort on anyones' part, it came quite close to breaking the spirit of Angela, assistant to every elitist exec in the front hallway. The centerpiece of the presentation is a PowerPoint slideshow that she puts together for this event every year. She was provided with zero information with regard to what went into said presentation until she came in this morning to find our CEO's notes on her desk, with a post-it attached that said "more to come".

meeting begins at 11:30...offsite.

after putting the initial presentation together and emailing it to me so i could burn it to disk, she was handed yet another change to add to it...at 11:20.

you can just imagine her state of mind at this point...

so as she's adding it and i'm standing beside her desk, waiting for the word to go burn the corrected slideshow to disk, my boss comes sauntering back and asks in an offhand manner, "where's the cd? joel said it was ready!"

i walked out. i didn't want to be there to see the carnage.

Angela goes through her day with a smile on her face, all the while completing the most inane fucking tasks one human being could ask of another. she actually checks one exec's mail for him! never complains, never gives the ever popular sigh and shake of the head while contemplating her superiors' ineptness. never.

but they damn near broke her today.

she actually left at lunchtime close to tears to go see her daughter at her mother-in-laws', and i wasn't figuring on seeing her anymore today.

when i left for lunch, to make my routine pilgrimage to the supermarket across the highway, i bought a balloon that said "happy retirement!" on it and took it back and tied it to her PC keyboard.


in the meantime, i still have those five mysterious files from the backup that verified but never happened to try to locate - glenn's brand new, formerly beer-soaked laptop has once again flatlined, and we're looking another weekend of carpetlaying and PC/phone moving and re-moving right in the face.

i refuse to set illogical priorities for this weekend, though. i'm keeping it to two. cleaning out the basement, for one - and possibly getting started on the guitar rack for upstairs. that'll make me happy if i can check that off my list.


and i think i'm gonna go give Angela a big hug tomorrow, too.





3.11.2004

Our National Security President?

courtesy of moby's journal, culled from a report from the Center for American Progress:


In recent weeks, President Bush has touted his record on national security issues, while criticizing others for supposedly weakening U.S. homeland defense. But with the President refusing to meet with the 9/11 commission for longer than one hour, concerns are being raised about the whether the Bush Administration has something to hide about it's pre-9/11 behavior. As columnist Richard Cohen notes, "If the President wants to own Sept. 11" for his political gain "he's entitled. But it does not come alone. Sept. 10 is his, too." While Vice President Cheney has derided questioning of the Administration's pre-9/11 behavior as "thoroughly irresponsible and totally unworthy of national leaders in a time of war," serious questions remain about whether the White House grossly neglected counter-terrorism in the lead-up to 9/11. As a 5/27/02 Newsweek cover story noted, before 9/11 "the Bushies had an ideological agenda of their own": one that subordinated – and in many cases tried to reduce funding for – counter-terrorism efforts. As the NYT reported om 2/28/02, the shift was so dramatic that senior intelligence agents feared it would mean "that counterterrorism would be downgraded" over the long run and that there was a "lack of focus on fighting terrorism." What follows is an analysis of what the Administration knew before 9/11, and what it did – and did not do - with that information:

THE WARNINGS – BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS TOLD:

Upon coming into office, the Bush Administration inherited a government that was receiving more and more specific warnings about the threat of an Al Qaeda attack on the United States. As ABC News reported, Bush Administration "officials acknowledged that U.S. intelligence officials informed President Bush weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks that bin Laden's terrorist network might try to hijack American planes." Similarly, Newsweek reported "that as many as 10 to 12 warnings" were issued, and "more than two of the warnings specifically mentioned the possibility of hijackings."
Meanwhile, George Tenet, "was issuing many warnings that bin Laden was 'the most immediate' threat to Americans."

The warnings were so explicit that in the months leading up to 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft stopped flying commercial airlines and instead began "traveling exclusively by leased jet aircraft instead of commercial airlines" because of "what the Justice Department called a 'threat assessment.'" That "threat assessment" was not made public.

THE WARNINGS – POST-9/11 DENIALS:

Despite these explicit warnings, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice claimed that the Administration was never warned of an attack before 9/11, saying "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." Similarly, President Bush denied having any idea about the threat, saying on 5/17/02, "Had I know that the enemy was going to use airplanes to kill on that fateful morning, I would have done everything in my power to protect the American people."

THE FOCUS – WHAT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION INHERITED:

Upon taking office, the Bush Administration inherited a national security structure increasingly focused on the threat of terrorism. As the NYT reported, Attorney General Janet Reno ended her tenure as "perhaps the strongest advocate" of counterterrorism spending, and Newsweek reported National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was "totally preoccupied" with the prospect of a domestic terror attack, telling his replacement that they need to be "spending more time on this issue than on any other." As a 4/2/00 WP story noted Berger "insists that the threat of large-scale terrorist attacks on U.S. soil is 'a reality, not a perception.'" He said at the time, "We would be irresponsible if we did not take this seriously. I hope that in 10 years' time, they will say we did too much, not too little." And the warnings – which the Bush Administration denied ever receiving – "found a receptive ear in Clinton. In January 2000, [Clinton] departed from the prepared text of his State of the Union address to predict that terrorists and organized criminals 'with increasing access to ever more sophisticated chemical and biological weapons' will pose 'the major security threat' to the United States in 10 to 20 years."

THE FOCUS - TAKING EYES OFF THE BALL:

The NYT reported that in the lead-up to 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft "said fighting terrorism was a top priority of his agency," yet upon entering office, "he identified more than a dozen other objectives for greater emphasis within the Justice Department before the attacks, internal department documents show." On Aug. 9, the Administration distributed a strategic plan to the Justice Department highlighting its new goals from a list of Clinton Administration goals. The item that referred to intelligence and investigation of terrorists was left unhighlighted. Similarly, Newsweek reported that the Bush Administration "seemed particularly eager to set a new agenda. In the spring of 2001, the attorney general had an extraordinary confrontation with the then FBI Director Louis Freeh at an annual meeting of special agents. The two talked before appearing, and Ashcroft laid out his priorities for Freeh: "basically violent crime and drugs," recalls one participant. Freeh replied bluntly that those were not his priorities, and began to talk about terror and counterterrorism. "Ashcroft didn't want to hear about it," says a former senior law-enforcement official."

THE FOCUS – THE TASK FORCE THAT WASN'T:

The al Qaeda warnings were dire enough to move President Bush in May of 2001 to appoint Vice President Cheney to head a task force "to combat terrorist attacks on the United States." As the WP reported, Bush said that day that Cheney would direct a government-wide review on managing the consequences of a domestic attack, and that "I will periodically chair a meeting of the National Security Council to review these efforts." Neither "Cheney's review nor Bush's took place." Meanwhile, Newsweek reported that when Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and John Kyl (R-AZ) "sent a copy of draft legislation on counterterrorism and homeland defense to Cheney's office on July 20," they were told by Cheney's top aide "that it might be another six months before he would be able to review the material."

THE FUNDING - CUTTING COUNTER-TERRORISM PROGRAMS...

In its final budget request for the fiscal year 2003 submitted on Sept. 10, 2001, the Administration "called for spending increases in 68 programs, none of which directly involved counterterrorism...In his Sept. 10 submission to the budget office, Mr. Ashcroft did not endorse F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators. Mr. Ashcroft proposed cuts in 14 programs. One proposed $65 million cut was for a program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants for equipment, including radios and decontamination suits and training to localities for counterterrorism preparedness." The WP reported that in its first budget, the White House left "gaps" between "what military commanders said they needed to combat terrorists and what they got." Newsweek noted that, among other things, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld elected not to re-launch a Predator drone that had been tracking bin Laden. When the Senate Armed Services Committee tried to fill those gaps, "Rumsfeld said he would recommend a veto" on September 9. By comparison, "Under Mr. Ashcroft's predecessor, Janet Reno, the department's counterterrorism budget increased 13.6% in the fiscal year 1999, 7.1% in 2000 and 22.7% in 2001."

THE FUNDING: ...WHILE GIVING GIFTS TO THE TALIBAN:

At the same time the White House was trying to gut counter-terrorism funding, it ignored human rights concerns and the Taliban's known ties to terrorists, and gave "$43 million in drought aid to Afghanistan after the Taliban began a campaign against poppy growers." As the 5/29/01 edition of Newsday noted at the time, the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan "are a decidedly odd choice for an outright gift of $43 million from the Bush administration. This is the same government against which the United Nation imposes sanctions, at the behest of the United States, for refusing to turn over the terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The Bush Administration is so delighted at the opium ban that it's willing to overlook America's differences with the Taliban even its protection of bin Laden."

THE RESULT – EFFORTS TO PREVENT ATTACK WERE "UNDERMINED":

According to one former FBI official, the Administration "really undermined a lot of effort to change the culture and change the mind-set" of law enforcement agencies that were making progress on counter-terrorism. Newsweek echoed this sentiment, noting "the question is whether the administration was really paying much attention" to counter-terrorism at all in the lead up to 9/11.




the antiwar sprawl continues...

Military Families vs. the War
Organized Opposition Is Small, but Some See It as Historic

By Paula Span
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 11, 2004; Page A01



EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- On the night last month he learned that his son had died in Iraq, Richard Dvorin couldn't sleep. He lay in bed, "thinking and thinking and thinking," got up at 4 a.m., made a pot of coffee. Then he sat down at the kitchen table and wrote a letter to the president.

When the invasion of Iraq began, Dvorin -- a 61-year-old Air Force veteran and a retired cop -- thought the commander in chief deserved his support. "I believed we were destroying part of the axis of evil," he says. "I truly believed that Saddam Hussein was a madman and that he possessed weapons of mass destruction and wouldn't hesitate to use them."

By the time Army 2nd Lt. Seth Dvorin was sent to Iraq last September, however, his father was having doubts. And now that Seth had been killed, at 24, by an "improvised explosive device" south of Baghdad, doubt had turned to anger.

"Where are all the weapons of Mass Destruction?" Richard Dvorin demanded in his letter. "Where are the stockpiles of Chemical and Biological weapons?" His son's life, he wrote, "has been snuffed out in a meaningless war."

His is not the only military family to think so. In suburban Cleveland a few days later, the Rev. Tandy Sloan tuned in to the "Meet the Press" interview with President Bush and felt "disgust." His 19-year-old son, Army Pvt. Brandon Sloan, was killed when his convoy was ambushed last March. "A human being can make mistakes," the Rev. Sloan says of the president. "But if you intentionally mislead people, that's another thing."

In Fullerton, Calif., paralegal student Kimberly Huff, whose Army reservist husband recently returned from Iraq, makes a similar point with a wardrobe of homemade protest T-shirts that say things like "Support Our Troops, Impeach Bush."

The number of military families that oppose Operation Iraqi Freedom, though never measured, is probably small. But a nascent antiwar movement has begun to find a toehold among parents, spouses and other relatives of active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops.

A group called Military Families Speak Out -- which will figure prominently in marches and vigils at Dover Air Force Base, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the White House next week -- says more than 1,000 families have signed up online and notes that new members join daily. Other outspoken family members -- Dvorin, for example -- have never heard of the group but, for a variety of reasons, share its founders' conviction that the war is a "reckless military misadventure."

Most frequently cited, when military families explain their antiwar sentiments, is the absence to date of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. "They'd have these inspections and they'd find nothing," says Jenifer Moss, 29, of Lawton, Okla. Her husband, Army Sgt. Keelan L. Moss, died in November when a missile downed his Chinook helicopter, leaving her with three children and the belief that "he was sent out there on a pretense."

They are also angry at the Bush administration's insistence that its policies are nonetheless justified. Cherice Johnson's husband, Navy Corpsman Michael Vann Johnson Jr., was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade last March. "I'd love to say I back [the president] 100 percent, but I can't," she says, weeping during a telephone interview. "How many more people are going to die because he can't say, 'I'm sorry, I made a terrible mistake'?"

In interviews, families complained about the continued unrest in Iraq; worried about whether their service members had adequate equipment and supplies; feared post-traumatic stress syndrome. One mother who lost a son in Afghanistan last March took deep offense at the launch of a subsequent war when, she feels, the first remains uncompleted.

And, of course, they all watch the casualties mount, to 553 deaths and nearly 3,200 wounded, the Pentagon says.

In South Haven, Mich., Marianne Brown, 52, has joined the weekly peace vigil in front of the closest thing her small town has to a federal building: the post office. Most of the vigil-keepers -- who number 10 or 15 at most, shrinking to three or four stalwarts on the bitterest winter days -- hold a memorial photo of the faces of service members killed in Iraq. But Brown holds a photo of her stepson, Army Reserve Pvt. Michael Shepard, 21, an MP stationed west of Baghdad.

South Haven has not been uniformly receptive. Brown has had her Jeep scratched with a key. She's been shouted at when she goes to the bank. She's been called a traitor. "It's kind of scary, but it's changing," she says. "We used to get a lot more attitude. Now we're getting more thumbs-ups. I think it's slowly seeping in that this [war] was based on something other than what we were told."

A Way to Connect


It's the power of the Internet that's allowed relatives in far-flung places to know that others are also suspicious, bitter or ready to march on Washington. "That kind of sentiment has probably been there in every war we've ever had, but this time they have a ready means of identifying one another," says John Guilmartin, a military historian at Ohio State University and a decorated Vietnam War veteran.

Military Families Speak Out started before the invasion with two families, added 200 more when the first troops crossed into Iraq and another 200 when the bombing began. There were spikes in Web traffic and membership registration when the president declared the end of major combat and when he invited Iraqi insurgents to "Bring 'em on."

Even those who aren't affiliated with a peace group (Moss and Johnson are not; Brown is) use the Net to bolster their opinions, stoke their outrage or find others who share their beliefs.

When Seth Dvorin died, sympathetic Web sites picked up local newspaper stories about his divorced parents' outspoken responses. A few days after his funeral, his mother, Sue Niederer, was startled to get a call from a stranger in Columbus, Ohio. Jackie Donoghue has a son serving in the same region of Iraq and had looked up Niederer's phone number online. "I just wanted to console her," Donoghue says. "I wanted to tell her she wasn't alone, that other people with sons and daughters in the service feel the same way."

Of course, most people with relatives in wartime service, a group historically more likely to express approval than distrust, don't feel the same way. Though public support for the war was found to have declined in the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, most military families say their support for the action and the president remains unwavering.

They think the weapons he warned of may have been moved or may yet turn up. Some feel Hussein's tyranny was in itself ample justification for war, even if the weapons are never found. They believe that their loved ones are helping to liberate a tortured nation and that there's more good news from Iraq than the news media have reported.

The night before Pfc. Jesse Givens, a 34-year-old Army tank driver, left for Iraq, he sat down with his 6-year-old son to explain. "He said, 'There's a bad guy over there and he hurts mommies and little kids and he has to be stopped,' " his widow, Melissa Givens, 27, of Fountain, Colo., remembers. Now, "the times I start to feel like I'm against it -- because my husband's gone and he's never coming back -- I hear what he said."

Christine Dooley, who's 22 and living in Murrysville, Pa., with an infant daughter, is mourning the loss of her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Micheal Dooley, 23, killed in June. "The fact that I lost Micheal does not change my feelings about what we needed to do over there at all," Dooley says via e-mail. "Many Americans forget that we were attacked on 9/11. . . . We need to kick some butt and clean up!"

Another group of families can probably empathize with Cathy Neighbor. A 45-year-old truck driver in rural New Lexington, Ohio, she's too overwhelmed by grief for her paratrooper son to figure out what she thinks about the war that took his life. Army Cpl. Gavin Neighbor was 20 when he was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade in June.

"I still don't know what to feel," his mother says haltingly. Some days she questions why the troops were sent to Iraq; on others, she thinks they should have been. "I'm angry as hell and I'm proud as hell," she says. "And everyone says my son's a hero, and I didn't want him to be a hero."

'Unprecedented'


Yet even if the opponents represent only a sliver of military families, the emergence of organized antiwar opinion among this traditionally conservative group is something the country hasn't seen before, several historians and political scientists believe.

During the Vietnam War, a handful of Gold Star Mothers who had lost sons in the war marched with Vietnam Vets Against the War and other antiwar groups, says David Cline, now president of Veterans for Peace and an early member of Vietnam Vets. But there were only at most a couple of dozen such mothers, by his recollection, and they never created a nationwide network. The National League of Families, formed to bring political attention to prisoners of war and troops missing in action, had considerable influence but was not critical of the war itself.

And those activists, like Vietnam Vets Against the War as a national group, arose years after the first American losses in Vietnam, by which point a considerable part of the public had already lost faith in the war. For military families to organize against the Iraq war beforehand and during its first year, Cline observes, is like "Vietnam on speed."

"This is unprecedented," says Ronald H. Spector, a military historian at George Washington University. "If military families are having serious doubts about the war and don't see a reason for their relatives to go over there, that's quite significant."

How much influence they may have is another question. Small minorities can have political impact, says Duke University political scientist Peter Feaver, a former National Security Council staffer. They can gain public and media attention because "they can presume to speak with greater moral authority. . . . The picture of an angry father can resonate in a way it doesn't when it's somebody else."

Feaver doesn't expect antiwar military families to make much of a difference yet on their own. (For one thing, they don't all share the same goal. Military Families Speak Out has called for a full troop withdrawal, but some non-member families believe the best tribute to their lost soldiers is to ensure that Iraq gets stabilized and rebuilt.) But "if what we're seeing is the beginnings of a cancer of doubt," Feaver adds, "that could have serious consequences."

A Sore Subject


When Army 1st Lt. Jennifer Kaylor, stationed at Fort Myer, Va., gets together with her mother-in-law, Fairfax schoolteacher Roxanne Kaylor, they chat about their pets. They talk about Jennifer Kaylor's job and her plans to eventually continue her education. "I encourage her to think about her future," Roxanne Kaylor says.

What they don't discuss is the war in Iraq, where Army 1st Lt. Jeffrey J. Kaylor, 24, Jennifer's husband of just nine months and Roxanne's only son, was killed in a grenade attack in April. "I honestly believe that this was the best way for us to prevent anything resembling September 11th occurring on our soil again," Jennifer Kaylor says via e-mail. Her mother-in-law, on the other hand, has grown so incensed about the war that she contacted a lawyer to see whether casualty families such as hers could bring a class-action lawsuit against Bush. (You can't sue the president, the lawyer told her.)

That loved ones risked their lives -- or lost them -- for an unjust cause, as some family members contend, is a difficult view for anyone with a military connection to express. Even those willing to march with placards or wear their antiwar sentiments on their chests try to tread gingerly.

They don't want to undermine their service members, imperil their future military careers, or hurt other military families who are frightened or grieving. The military culture strongly discourages questioning a war while troops are in the field. Several relatives interviewed for this story asked that the names of their service members not be published, lest they suffer repercussions.

Jose Caldas, 44, a systems analyst in Atlanta, lost his nephew, Army Capt. Ernesto Blanco, 28, in December; a homemade bomb detonated as his Humvee passed. Caldas's son, Alec, 22, is in the Army Signal Corps at Fort Bragg and expects to be deployed to Iraq as well. Jose Caldas, a Navy veteran, has been writing his U.S. senators and representative to urge that the country's leaders be held accountable for what he deems a dreadful miscalculation.

But he is cautious about what he says to his son. "You're asking a lot of these guys," he explains. "They have to believe in what they're doing. If you don't have faith that what you're doing is right, you can't be committed and risk your life."

In Madison, Wis., retired psychologist Jane Jensen, 70, leads a military families support group that meets each Thursday evening at the United Church of Christ: mostly parents, one wife, some brothers, a grandmother. Her own son, Lt. Col. Garrett Jensen, 42, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot with the Army National Guard, expects to leave Kuwait for Iraq this month.

Her group of about 25 regulars includes a number from families that back the war, Jenson says. They can probably tell, from the Kerry campaign button she always wears, that she disagrees. She plans to join a nearby antiwar demonstration later this month, but none of the other group members has agreed to join her.

Still, they put such differences aside to talk about their service members, exchange information, pass around fresh photos. "Our group is very kind, very polite. Nobody wants to hurt anyone's feelings," Jensen says.

Sometimes feelings get hurt anyway. Nancy Lessin, stepmother of a Marine who has returned from Iraq and co-founder of Military Families Speak Out, has gotten a number of nasty e-mails; she has also reported three death threats to the Boston police.

Kimberly Huff, of the antiwar T-shirts, no longer attends meetings of the Family Readiness Group in Riverside, Calif., which supports relatives of her husband's Army Reserve unit. She was an active member for 10 months, until her shirts, and the interviews she gave at an antiwar rally in Los Angeles, made her "kind of a black sheep," Huff says. "They stopped calling to see how I was. . . . I was kind of ignored at meetings." Now she feels more alone, though unrepentant.

And hurt feelings may increase as the presidential election nears. Many of these family members, even those with no history of political involvement, say they'll work to defeat Bush in November.

John Bugay Jr., 44, a suburban Pittsburgh marketing writer and self-described conservative who hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1980, is sufficiently disillusioned by the war that he spent eight bucks to register the domain name republicansforkerry.org. "I felt betrayed by this president's administration," Bugay says. "He didn't count the costs."

Such sentiments have caused a stir at his evangelical Christian church; they also caused a public argument with his wife, an Army reservist who spent five months in Iraq, at a neighborhood birthday party. Now they don't discuss the war either.

Other antiwar families plan to register voters, write letters to newspapers, and volunteer for local and national candidates. First, they'll mark the war's anniversary this month by joining protests across the country.

Richard Dvorin has not received a reply to the letter he sent the president about his son, Seth. He doesn't expect to. But Sue Niederer, Seth Dvorin's mother, eventually learned about Military Families Speak Out and will join its march at Dover Air Force Base on Sunday.

It's one of the few places where she can say of her son, "He died a hero, but he died in vain" -- and people will understand how she feels.




3.10.2004

a nice bit of non-presidential insight

now playing: eurogliders, "no action"


from an interview about his book, "american sucker", author david denby makes an interesting observation:

"In this country, there's a feeling that if you admit error, your authority collapses. Look at the Bush administration," he said. "But I think that's wrong. If you admit error, people trust you more. So I thought, in writing the book, the only authority is the authority of words. It's my job to tell the truth. And I hope people feel it has some resonance."



hear, hear.



3.08.2004

monday morning (you shore looked fine...)

now playing: kathleen edwards, "hockey skates"



but friday i've got travellin' on my mind....


happy 50th birthday to the fender stratocaster!



other things on my mind this morning - what's up with the republican national committee crying foul over moveon.org's tv ads? i guess it's ok for assholes like tom delay to set up phony campaign fundraisers masquerading as childrens' charities without reproach, but when a grassroots organization like moveon.org brings together literally tens of thousands of donations from individuals (myself included) to try to raise a voice against the bullshit perpetrated by this administration, then there's obviously some misdeed involved.

i think i'm probably gonna send moveon another $25 later today in the spirit of spitefulness. 'cuz that's just the way i am.



i'm still not sure what to think about the whole david crosby thing. i'm pretty sorely disappointed right now...and i feel as though he owes me a personal explanation - if you can believe that. i've invested a lot of moral stock in him.



things i learned this weekend:


if you're feeling things out around you and decide to see what else is out there...you check out a few ads here and there - guitarist wanted for established band, etc. etc. - go with what your gut tells you after making initial contact. if something inside you is saying, "this is a total waste of your time", then that voice is probably right.

save yourself the trouble.

chances are, it's Greener Grass Syndrome to begin with. leave it alone.





3.07.2004

late

now playing: silence, save for the soft whirring of the furnace through the vent...


today, everyone rose and showered and we took wendy for her honorary family birthday dinner. due to an unexpected online chat, samantha and shanna came along as well. shanna got a haircut recently and, although her mom says her jury is still out on it, i think she's adorable. they herded us all into too small a place for the lot of us, but we had a good time. wendy got a huge brownie with a candle on it that she wasn't expecting. i considered asking them to do the corny-assed gather a bunch of waitstaff around someone and embarrass them routine, but i passed on that.

everyone was stuffed, and left contented for home. this was my only real reprieve from work this weekend. i have to go back in yet again tomorrow to finish this weekends' removal/restore routine. the sad thing is that this is just one of several weekends that'll find me in there doing this. they're putting in new carpet in all the offices, one office area at a time. this means that all the computers and phones have to be removed from the area before the carpetting people arrive, and then returned to their original spaces once the carpet is finished. this, of course, means that the impedus for making sure everything has been returned to its original area and rendered functional again falls upon my shoulders. (i should mention in the spirit of fairness, though, that glenn was there until almost seven pm with us on friday night.)

there are too many places i wanna be, to paraphrase ronnie van zant.

today, for instance, i should have been with blake at his sisters' vacated house, cutting tracks for his album.

i wasn't.

i could've been in philadelphia at the keswick theatre, watching david crosby's band, and pondering his recent arrest in the audience, but i wasn't.

tonight, however, after watching a bit of television with my nocturnal children, i decided to let them in on my typical saturday night post-gig routine, and we all went to queen city diner for breakfast at 2 am. it was something of a disappointment, as we were there earlier than we normally are, and the clientele weren't really arriving yet that make weekend nights what they are. ah, well.

all this being said, i should hit the hay. i'm supposed to stop and bring lunch in tomorrow when i go to work.




3.06.2004

the past meets the present

now playing: jimmie spheeris, "i am the mercury"


had two very strange dreams last night/this morning...


the first one involved my old manager, matt asbell, except in the dream he wasn't matt, he was jon cusack, for some reason. anyway, i was with him and jim boggia, and we were travelling - we ended up in lewistown, pennsylvania, and we were looking for this place i used to play there, called kirby's, but it had closed and there was an Applebee's where it used to be - so we got back into my van and went to new york - cuz boggia was playing the mercury lounge. (i'm not sure why i was along on this trip...still tryin' to figure that out)...anyway, matt and boggia went to the gig and suddenly wendy materialized and we went to some music store in the city, and wendy was impressing the owner with her far above-average knowledge of musical instruments for the typical musicians' significant other (and when i say this, i mean it...she can tell the difference between a gibson les paul standard and a les paul custom, no matter the colors, just from their appointments....from a distance, even. it's pretty uncanny - she knows her shit.)

but i digress.

we were walking around this store, i saw a couple of lap steels on the wall that i was looking at pretty closely, and then we left and started walking around town...after that, i don't really remember anything about that one.

the other one, not long after that, was even stranger.

i dreamed i was at the old house on belvedere avenue that i used to live in when i was married before, and it was dylan's birthday party. (now, it should be mentioned that dylan and jayda were born exactly 2 years and eleven hours or so apart from each other...so their parties were always the same day. not sure why that didn't present itself in the dream.)

anyway, he was as he is now for the first part of the dream. my ex-wifes' parents and siblings were trickling in, and for some reason, dylan got upset and left the room in tears. (i think this might've manifested itself in the dream because of something that happened at his moms' house last night before i picked him up...long story.) anyway, he was gone for a minute or two, and i was sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the living room that we never owned the whole time we lived there...and jill walked over and handed dylan to me, and he was no older than two, maybe. so i sat in the rocking chair and played with my son at two years old for several minutes....his little tufts of blonde hair, his little stubby fingers and hands - we sat together in the rocking chair for the longest time, until the other dylan came walking back into the room at his current age, still upset from whatever had made him angry when he left...he still had the very visible track of a tear running down his left cheek. he came over and sat down on my right knee, with the two year old dylan still on my left knee.

little dylan looked at big dylan curiously - i can't remember if he gave any indication that he recognized the older child as being him or not, but he reached his tiny hand over and touched his older incarnation on the cheek, placing his index finger on the still-moist tear and left it there for a long time. i was looking at older dylan and the expression on his face - he was looking intently at the baby on my lap, and at that point i looked back over at small dylan myself to see that tears were running down his face. he wasn't crying, but it seemed as though he had connected with whatever had made dylan upset and was channelling it himself. i was sitting there with both of them on my lap, looking at tears coming down both of their faces, and i started crying myself and pulled them both close to me, hugging them against me....

...and then i woke up.

strange, i know.




3.05.2004

yet another weekend is upon me....

now playing: kathleen edwards, "mercury"


it's friday...and what that means for me, typically, are delusions of grandeur regarding all that i hope to accomplish during the course of the weekend. typically, the modus operandi is as follows:

tuesday afternoon - friday early evening: prepare, cross-check, and verify mental "shit to do" list. go through workday adding things to list. come home and cast disgusted gaze around house and revise that days' additions to list.

friday after work: pick up kids, and solidify the weekends' sleepover arrangements if no one is grounded for whatever reason. eat out, since i haven't bothered to go to the supermarket in anticipation of kids coming over...or bothered to do the dishes, for that matter. eat, come home, hang with kids and maybe watch some tv. ponder doing dishes...if kids retire to rooms at decent hour, get started on dishes. go to bed at ridiculous hour.

saturday morning: sleep. seriously. that's pretty much it.

saturday afternoon:get out of bed...ponder showering. walk downstairs to find dylan watching VH1 classic on the sofa. inquire as to whereabouts of sister, to be met with half grunted sound indicating a familiarity with the phrase i don't know. sit down with son and enjoy a few fleeting moments of music video nirvana, only to jump from sofa in disgust when we are the eighties segment leads with robert palmer's simply irresistable.

shower.

collect remaining members of household and determine objectives for the day. immediately adjust schedule to accomodate visitors/visits/mall trips/social calendars/etc. for dylan and jayda, to allow for at least one trip back to moms' to retrieve something forgotten.

saturday night: on gig nights: meet band members at darryl's house for loadup, proceed to venue and load in.

play gig.

sweat.

soak into pores of skin the delectable combination aroma of cigarette smoke, beer and hai karate that make playing shows on my particular link of the food chain a health hazard.

close show with rocky mountain way - play lap steel guitar with beer bottle stolen from table closest to front of stage - sweat some more and jerk guitar cord from instrument to end song and evening.

pack up instruments and equipment, now that "smoke smell" has been thoroughly reinvigorated into each piece of equipment and every instrument brought to gig.

have breakfast at queen city diner at 3am, and watch endless parade of last-call freaks herd into diner like cattle. eavesdrop on countless cell phone conversations in spanish, marvel at lack of objectivity in choosing outfits for the evening among the patrons. attempt to avoid irritation as result of complete lack of conversational inhibition among patrons of diner. think to self that, hell, i don't have anything to say that i wouldn't want the whole goddamn room to hear, either. resist urge to yell at top of lungs, "aaaaaaaaiiiiy, papi!" at next sonofabitch who walks in the door.

after losing count of soda refills courtesy of usual waitress, a mid-fifties woman who calls me "honey", slide out of booth and back into the van and head home. take guitars inside and plop down on loveseat next to inevitable sleeping child on sofa who has fallen asleep watching tv. stumble up to bed.

sunday afternoon: wake up with less energy than before i fell asleep.

go downstairs and prepare the only communal meal of the weekend eaten within the confines of the house: sunday brunch. wendy takes bacon and pancake/french toast duty while i deal with the eggs - and with rounding everyone up. if dylan's not grounded on a particular weekend, his whereabouts will generally be a mystery.

eat.

begin compiling new set of dirty dishes.

sunday late afternoon/evening: invariably come in to work to clean up whatever loose ends might make monday worse than it has to be...changing backup tapes, checking the SQL downloads on occasion and such. not an every-weekend thing, but happens as often as not.

sunday night: spend what time i have left at home with the kids, if they see fit to leave the comfort of their exile zones (their rooms). personally, if i had the comforts they do when i was their age, i probably would've never left home. but then again, some of the comforts they have now didn't exist in my world at their age (internet, playstation, cable tv, running water, etc....you get the point.).

late sunday night: spend the waning hours of the weekend trying to put forth some effort to do some of the stuff that had been compiling in my brain the week previous, whatever it might be, in a futile attempt to feel as though i did something productive during the course of the weekend - in terms of what i spent the entire week previous calculating and planning in my head.


now, granted, that's not an exact script for each and every weekend, but it gives one a pretty good feel for how i systematically set myself up to fall short of my personal expectations on a regular basis by participating in this cyclical script i've set up for myself.


all hell is breaking loose at work, as well...someone has seen fit to replace all the carpet in the building, and guess upon whose mighty shoulders the task of moving and reinstalling the PCs in the offices fall upon?

figure it out yet?


it'll come to ya.




3.02.2004

...i can't tell you whiiiiyyyyyy....

now playing: atlanta rhythm section, "georgia rhythm"



for eagles fans with a sense of humor....


(the band, not the godawful football team that we all should have forgotten about by now...)




also, a quick movie thought...

now playing: marshall tucker band, "running like the wind"

it takes a certain kinda...well, yeah, you gotta feel this movie on some level before you go, but - Miracle.

seriously.

hell, even if you think you have no connection to this event whatsoever, just go.

it'll be in the discount theatres before i click on "preview your post" anyway, so you won't even have to break out the big bucks.

oh, and on a somewhat related note: if your girlfriend cries during this movie, marry her.




all you need is just a little patience...

now playing: chris whitley, "indian summer"


those of you who know me know that my primary vocation - that which pays for food, clothing, shelter and guitars - is PC/network support and repair. i'm one person of a three man IT department for a manufacturing facility in the county where i live. i also build PC's for people as a side business, and have been rather successful with it, considering that all my advertising is word-of-mouth only.

one of the reasons i think i've done so well in this line of work is my patience and my people skills. i excel at making people feel comfortable with foreign technology, and helping them to understand things about computers that they find intimidating. i use a lot of analogies and take my time explaining things until i'm confident that they understand what i'm trying to get across. i apply this line of reason both here at work during the day, and in people's living rooms when i'm setting up their newly purchased PC and showing it to them for the first time.

indeed, i think it's the fact that i'm somewhat human that has helped me set myself apart from my colder, more logical peers in this field.

however, my fabric is starting to fray.

(of course, it could be said that anytime i quote a guns n' roses song in my title line, something is rotten in denmark...)

thanks to the brand-spankin'-new netsky.d virus, i've done absolutely nothing productive here for the past day and a half, thus far. all i've done is chase NAV console popups from computer to computer, trying to root it out of the network, and hearing the same pap from the people who've seen fit to open it....

"...but the email came from a friend of mine! i knew the guy who sent it!"

boy, i never get tired of hearing that one - as if no one they knew personally would ever actually get infected with a virus, or have their address book hijacked....

the thing that's killing me here is that it's not the borderline illiterate folks who never use computers out in the shop who are perpetuating this...it's the HR director. it's the operations manager.

it's people who should know better.

and it's making me crazy.

i now have, in 4 inch high letters, the following words written on the dry erase board over my bench:

The words:

"but i knew the person who sent it!"

carry no weight in this room!


not that this is going to make my life any easier, but i felt better after i wrote it.

every month, i write a "helpful PC hints" article for our company newsletter, and on days like i've had for the whole of this week thus far, it's pretty apparent to me that it's wasted effort. seriously considering retirement.





3.01.2004

to my jayda...

now playing: crosby stills nash and young, "find the cost of freedom"


i knew that this day would come, sooner or later. i didn't expect it to be so soon.

it doesn't seem like so many summers ago that i used to pull away from the curb in front of our house, on the way to a gig, and i'd look up and see you standing in the screen door, with your tiny hand pressed against the glass, watching me drive away. then in the dead of night i'd return home, sometimes to find you awake - we'd go downstairs and i'd rock you and sing james taylor's "something in the way she moves" in your tiny ear. it wasn't long before you'd learned the song and began to sing it along with me. quicker still, you began to sing along with the other music that filled the house.

one of my most prized possessions is my collection of home movies from your early childhood - they're almost redundant, though, as i can still see you in my mind very clearly, dancing around the living room in your ballerina outfit to tori amos' "winter", or dancing in circles with your coat hanging off your arms, just like adam duritz, to "mister jones".

i never wanted you to grow up.

truth?

i still don't.

part of me would like to freeze you and your brother in time and shield you from the inevitability of innocence lost, of the toll time takes on us all - but it's past the point now where such an impossibility would serve such a fantasy. you're both grown past the point at which any attempt to shield you from the rest of the world would be less than futile. and that, as they say, is life.

life, however, as considered from an individual standpoint, is probably best defined as one's personal collection of experience. it is our experiences, after all, that form the basis for our lives - the building blocks, the pieces of the puzzle that paint the picture of who we are. from the perspective where i now stand, i can look back over my life and point to specific experiences that were watershed moments in my life - some painful, some joyous, some chaotic, some traumatic - and point to those experiences as moments that turned my life in one direction or another.

and, not unlike a lot of people, i seem to find a recurring theme...the moments from which the most positive growth sprang from were the most painful. not that i gave a shit at the time, and it certainly didn't change my perception of the pain at the time - i don't think i ever thought, "gee, this sucks ass, but i'll sure be grateful for the lessons i'm learning later." nor do i think anyone thinks that. in fact, i don't recall a single instance of rational thought that's ever occured to me in the midst of despair. i'm pretty sure i'm not alone in this mindset, either. humans as a whole aren't exactly known for their ability for rational thought amidst emotional crisis. were that the case, we'd all have a solid grip on our post-relationship behavior and there wouldn't be any such thing as the hangup phone call or the incidental drive past an exes' house or apartment...or even more immature behavior that some of us can cop to, or have been subject to.

no, right now, all you know is that you hurt. you don't want to think about school, you don't want to have to face your friends, you don't want to even think about the possibility of seeing "him" anywhere or having to talk about him. the only thing that feels like an option right now is to curl up under the covers and hide from the world. you're angry - angry that you didn't see this coming, angry that you couldn't have been whatever it is that you think you could've been to keep things going - nicer, prettier, smarter, funnier, more of this or less of that...you're angry about the feeling of powerlessness that overwhelms you. "how could this have happened to me?" "why doesn't he/she love me?" "why does it have to be over?"

and, worst of all, you think that you're the only person in the world who knows how you feel right now.

the unfortunate truth, though, is that heartbreak and loss is universal. it's something that happens to every one of us. there are variations on the theme, and there are differences in all our stories, but every one of us has (or will) hit this wall at some point. unfortunately for most of us, it's an impact that will happen often enough to breed a sense of familiarity. and if you're lucky enough to be able to feel anything after having it happen a couple of times, you'll probably find that it never really gets any easier. the answers to the questions you end up asking yourself never really become any more obvious, and the reasons why love dries up and withers into indifference never become any clearer.

so you might ask, then - why bother, dad? what's the point?

well, my dear - the answer to that question is pretty complex. and it might differ from person to person, but i think that if you're lucky enough to make that rare connection with someone who makes your heart flutter, who gives you butterflies in your stomach when you brush up against their skin - i think you may find that it's worth the risk.

it's a rare thing. it really is.

and if it were easy, everybody'd be doing it. but neither of us need look very far, even in our own lives, to see that everybody's not doing it - not even close. so if you find an opportunity to have this, this butterfly flutter that keeps you awake at night thinking about someone - giggling to yourself for no apparent reason - then i think you have to weigh the risk against the rarity of the moment.

to love without worry for the future is part of what it is to be truly alive.

so i say to you with all the love i can muster - give yourself permission to hurt, but don't forget that there's a world out there, full of possibility, full of opportunities - and you have a place in it. your pain will pass, and you'll eventually realize with age that everything happens for a reason, and that this is no different. certainly, i realize that this does nothing to dull what you feel right now, but it won't be long before you'll come to this conclusion by yourself.

much as i might want to, i can't lock you into a moment in time and keep you for myself. not anymore than i can protect you from the pain that growing up and becoming a woman will inevitably bring. it's a sad truth that becoming a citizen of the world we live in is fraught with pain and injustice, and you'll ultimately come up against it as you grow and go out into the world. if i could take it on for you, i'd do it in a second. Lord knows, i'm used to it by now. i've had my share...but i can't. i can be here for you, though - if you decide to let me.

i'll leave you to your grieving for the moment, if you wish - but don't forget for a minute that there are a lot of other people who love you, and that hasn't changed.

i'm still here.


...dad