Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Portland Mutual Admiration Society

Well, it's good to see that the folks over at portlandart.net are keeping the tradition of the mutual admiration society alive. Not unlike many local Oregon institutions, it is less about talent and experience and more about exercising sycophantic ability when it comes to getting recognition and advancing through the art ranks.

I'm a bit rough around the edges and perhaps that is why I will never find myself in the good graces of the Portland art snobs, but they have a deep pool of talent to draw from so all is not lost. Wait, no. Yes, wait. I will stop here before I find myself on the receiving end of something less than pleasant being delivered to me via courier.

Cheers Portland, kudos to your fucked up art scene.

The Beaverton School District: Incompetence In Action

Mr. Viddy has a teenage son who had been attending a high school out of our local area on an administrative transfer. This high school, whose mascot is a warrior, saw fit to deny his transfer so we were informed that he would have to attend the original school. I was sent a form informing me that on a certain day he would be withdrawn from the current high school and transferred to the new high school, whose name conjures an image of what happens at the end of the day when the sun goes down.

So as a precaution, I contacted the new high school, spoke with a man in the counseling department and I specifically asked him if I needed to take any particular actions prior to bringing my son in to get enrolled. He says to me, no problem, just bring him in and he will be enrolled right away. I ask him again, just to be certain and to help expedite things if I needed to have anything done. Again, he says no, just come on in.

So we head out this morning, in the howling wind and pouring rain. We took Tri-Met because my vehicle was in use by my daughter and we arrive at the new high school, thoroughly soaked but ready to get down to business. Immediately I know something is wrong when we get to the counseling office because the lady there is looking clueless when I explain that we are there to get my son enrolled. She asks me if I have the transfer papers from the old school. I explain to her that I do not. That some man from her office told me that I did not need to bring anything with me.

This clueless lady then telephones the old high school and we find out that they have not completed the transfer process on their end. In spite having given me a form stating specifically that they had transferred my son out last week. So my son is currently in limbo and I must take even more time out of my schedule tomorrow to trek back to finish the transfer process. I hope.

I am fed up with the bullshit I have received from the Beaverton School District for the last six years. During that time I have had problems ranging from my children being reported absent when they were in class. I have had to fight with them to take action when my daughter was being threatened with physical violence from other students. I have had untold meetings with the staff of regarding imaginary issues on their part. And now, this fiasco. I clearly made an effort to find out exactly what I needed to do in order to get my son transferred and they basically dropped the ball once again.

This was not a case of me just showing up at the counseling office unannounced. I contacted everyone involved and asked direct questions so that I would know what I needed to get done. But these folks, who have a hand in our children's education, are clueless and incompetent. And that has a direct bearing on our children. They see the poor example being set by district staff on a daily basis. And as I have said, this is not an isolated incident but a pattern of incompetence. Thank god we are moving to New Mexico soon, I am fed up with the education system here in Oregon.

Monday, January 30, 2006

History Repeats Itself: Hearts & Minds In Iraq

Army LTG Peter W. Chiarelli, the number 2 commander in Iraq stated that he will employ the winning of hearts and minds approach in Iraq. For those of you not familiar with that phrase "hearts and minds" it was a failed approach used in Vietnam, whereby U.S. forces attempted to win over the local population by performing various civic and humanitarian projects. It produced mixed results and most military historians consider it to have been a failed strategy.

Many parallels have been drawn between Iraq and Vietnam, not all of them correct. But consider this. Both conflicts began under false pretenses. Vietnam was the Gulf of Tonkin Incident and Iraq was the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. Both wars bogged down the U.S. military due to surprisingly strong opposition from insurgent forces and both wars saw a U.S. President pouring in tremendous resources without obtaining positive results.

And now we are seeing the reintroduction of a strategy which did not work in Vietnam, and will not work in Iraq. The fiasco in Iraq will drag out for many more years and in my opinion it will be due to the fact that George W. rushed into this conflict without having any clear strategy for victory. Too many items were overlooked and now we are faced with this quagmire.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Beaver Creek at Dawn

Photograph by Patrick Valdez

The path to salvation lies downstream. Do not embark upon this journey with fear in your heart. Find courage in the light of my salvation.

UPDATE: Mount Laurel, New Jersey

It would appear that the visitors to my blog from Mount Laurel, New Jersey are not the threat that I originally believed them to be. Perhaps it was just a bit of unfounded paranoia on my part. I am still not totally convinced that these are random visits but until I can gather tangible evidence to the contrary, I must accept the possibility that Mount Laurel is not a hotbed of nefarious activity.

But let this be known, I have my eye on you Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Critical Mass Hallucination

Earthquake? Didn't feel a thing. Portland mass hallucination, news at 11.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Two Faces of Oprah Winfrey: Part II

I received a very thought provoking response to my previous comments concerning Oprah's about face in the James Frey junkie author scandal. LeLo in NoPo pointed out to me quite factually that I do not know what Oprah was thinking. But let me take you through what I am thinking and how it supports my belief that in both her approval and later rejection of James Frey she was merely trying to garner some positive PR coverage.

We cannot turn back the clock and affect any changes to the circumstances surrounding James Frey appearing on Larry King , during which Oprah Winfrey called in to offer her full support of him. What happened from then up until now will remain what it is.

But let us imagine an alternate set of circumstances and afterwards all I will ask of anyone is to honestly consider if Oprah would have reacted the same way. Let us begin with the night of the Larry King interview with James Frey. Everything happens the exact same way as before, including the call from Oprah Winfrey. Now imagine in the days after this incident. In this alternate history there is not a huge outpouring of criticism regarding Oprah supporting James Frey. Little, if any is said about her in the mainstream media.

Now ask yourself, if Oprah had not come under fire in this new set of circumstances do you honestly believe she would have gone on record as saying she was duped? Would she have called James Frey back onto her show to chastise him and force an apology?

I believe and continue to stand behind my original argument that Oprah Winfrey only became indignant and withdrew her support of James Frey because of the negative press that was directed at her. Because her morals and ethics were questioned she had to realign herself with the popular sentiment being targeted against James Frey. Had all of this gone quietly I do not see Oprah proactively changing her stance. She made an unpopular move in supporting James Frey and when it turned on her she had no choice but to go along with the majority.

As always, I welcome any views that may be contrary to my own but my own personal beliefs on this issue will remain unchanged.

Point and Shoot Digital Camera Dilemma

In just two short months I will be relocating to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I will be using the move as an opportunity to get what I hope to be some really great photographs. I will be driving down there and plan on making the trip in a comfortable 4 days of driving time.

My current dilemma is deciding on which make and model of point and shoot digital camera to purchase for the trip. I already own a dSLR but I want something that will be easy to use and that can be kept out at all times without having to fear it being stolen.

I am currently looking into the Panasonic DMC-FZ20 or an Olympus E-20N which are both good quality, 5 megapixel cameras that can be had for a good price used. There are a couple of other contenders, such as the Sony DSC-F828 and the Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom and they are 8 megapixel cameras.

Seeing as how I will be more interested in more of a photojournalistic approach to documenting my travels, a higher quality, dSLR will not be necessary. And also having been on many lengthy road trips in the past, I know all to well how beat up equipment can get during the trip.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Two Faces of Oprah Winfrey

What a witch. First she calls in to Larry King to support James Frey and now, bending to public pressure and wanting to look good in the press, she reverses course and is now being critical of the author of A Million Little Pieces. She was quoted as saying, "I feel duped." Bullshit. Oprah, you just wanted to have your cake and eat it too. You neither support nor oppose James Frey and all you really want is to be put in the best possible light by the press.

Sickening but typical behavior from a celebrity.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Beaverton Police Department Sets An Example Once Again

What do you suppose would happen to you if you drove away from a gas station without paying? Suppose you had done this on numerous occasions? Better yet, if you go to work tomorrow and steal from your employer what would happen to you? And just for the sake of argument, what if you were caught siphoning gas from your neighbors vehicle? Well, if you are an officer with the Beaverton Police Department all that happens is that you get to quietly resign and have no charges filed against you for using a city issued gas card to pay for gas for your personal vehicles. Read the Oregonian story here---> "Beaverton officer resigns amid theft accusation"

Yes, the Beaverton Police Department, the same people who would gladly put the cuffs on and haul you away if you were caught stealing or embezzling. Those pillars of righteousness who protect and serve each and every one of us here in the fine city of Beaverton. Wow, they had an officer with questionable morals who knowingly broke the same laws he was sworn to uphold and they let him go quietly into that good night so that he can get a job elsewhere as a crooked cop. He'll probably end up serving with the Washington County Sheriff or Portland Police.

Sorry folks, I know that a lot of you are ignorant fucking conservatives who blindly worship the badge wearers and think all cops are perfect but I am outraged. It doesn't matter that this former Beaverton Police officer only stole gasoline and that it wasn't but a couple of hundred dollars worth. The point, the principle of it all is the fact that these scumbags are charged with protecting the public and if anyone, they should know better than to do anything illegal. And don't pretend that this is an isolated case, it was just a case of he got caught or it wasn't covered up properly.

I'll tell you what, I need a new DVD burner for my Mac. Can I walk in to Best Buy tomorrow and sneak one out without paying and then if I do get caught get to keep the DVD burner and not face any charges? Hell no. But hey, they are cops and they get to live by a different set of standards because they have a badge and gun.

Chris Penn: R.I.P.

Today's shocker was the news that Chris Penn had passed away at the age of 40. Sure, his more famous brother Sean has gotten more recognition but who will ever forget the character of Nice Guy Eddy from Reservoir Dogs or Sheriff Dollard from To Wong Fu. Timeless performances. No foul play is suspected in the death and with all due respect, I believe his death will be found to be related to his overweight condition. Chris Penn was a big boy.

Regardless, in my opinion he was a terrific actor and will leave behind many great roles.

The Path That Must Be Walked

Photograph by Patrick Valdez

Another day draws to a close. Taking me one step farther down the path that I must walk.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Is The War On Terror A War of Attrition?

A war of attrition is a strategic plan to win a war under the concept of wearing one's enemy down to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and materiel. The victor being the side with the greater such reserves at the end of the conflict.

notable examples of attrition warfare have been the Western Front during WWI where both sides found themselves in the trenches with the belief by both sides that victory could be attained by continually attacking one another head on until the other side was worn down. And most recently was the Vietnam War where again U.S. strategy was to wear down the enemy until they lost their will to fight.

In both cases, the strategy of attrition failed. In the case of trench warfare, neither side was ever able to wear down the opposition and both sides suffered tremendous losses with no real gain and in the Vietnam War the strategy failed because the U.S. severely underestimated the North Vietnamese government and their supporters determination to defeat their enemy no matter what the cost.

And now we find ourselves in a similar position with the so-called War on Terror. Except in this case we do not find ourselves facing off against a specific government or group. Of course the Bush administration likes to point to Al-Qaida as the current enemy but even if we were to eradicate every member of Al-Qaida in the coming year Bush knows that eventually another anti-American group would come along to pose a potential threat to our security and the War on Terror would go on.

Bush has positioned us into the worst possible war of attrition because the enemy could be anyone who has an agenda that is fundamentally opposed to that of the United States. The enemy could be foreign or domestic, they could oppose us based on religious, philosophical, political or economical reasons. The United States will always face the possibility of attack by groups or individuals for any number of reasons and it is precisely why declaring a war on terror is pointless.

If the leadership of this country was sincere in wanting to keep us safe we would never have stretched our military resources so thin and purposely destabilized a region of the world that has been a hotbed of anti-American activity for decades. Bush can be credited with a stroke of demented genius.

Making French Fries, The Chirac Way

You have to wonder what was going through the mind of France's Chirac when he mentioned the possibility of using nuclear weapons against a terrorist group. That man clearly had too much cheap French wine in him at the time. What is the purpose of such a statement? Especially when it comes from the leader of a country known for waving the white flag whenever danger threatens. The French haven't been known as a force to be reckoned with for several centuries. Of course the Iranians were quite happy to take Chirac's idiotic statement and turn it into a propaganda tool in order to justify their own nuclear program.

Personally, as long as the wind currents are blowing away from the United States I could care less who the French nuke. But I don't think they have the nerve.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Kudos To The Seattle Seahawks

Nicely done boys, you have brought some much needed dignity to professional sports here in the Pacific Northwest. We are all 100% behind you and know you stand a good chance of winning the big game. Now if only the pathetic, underachieving Portland Trailblazers could get their act together then maybe one day the city of Portland could stop being so ashamed at having one of the worst teams in professional sports. Just being in the general vicinity of the Rose Garden causes me to vomit just a bit into my mouth.

But this is all about the Seahawks. Once again, great job! Dominate the Raiders and show them who the better team is on Super Bowl Sunday!

Revisiting Holiday Animal Abuse

Over the Christmas holiday I had commented on the picture below. I just had to revisit it as this is one of the most hilarious things I have seen in a while. The original article from Slate.com dealt with the perils of giving a puppy as a Christmas present but am I the only one who can see that this conjures up the image of a man sodomizing a helpless puppy in front of his child? You can read my original post here---> PETA, Where are you..

I know you see it too.

Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Ok, I am officially freaking out. Whenever I check my site stats for my blog I always see a visit from someone or maybe multiple someone's from Mount Laurel, New Jersey using a Comcast High Speed Internet account. Maybe I am paranoid but it is starting to make me feel real edgy and nervous. Who is/are these people and what do they want with me? If you are reading this post then for the love of God please just tell me what you want.

You are tormenting me. Why? What have I done to you? Is this some sort of sick and twisted mind game that brings you pleasure? Please, I am no threat to you. What dark motive or plot are you hatching against me? It is getting to the point that I am beginning to drink on a nightly basis and I am unable to sleep. And the nightmares, God, the nightmares.

It feels like I am living a real life episode of Silent Hill. If anything bad happens to me remember, Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

Fear, Phobias and All That Jazz

Don't ask me why but for some reason the name of the baby in the movie, "The Incredibles," really creeps me out. Jack Jack. Wow, just typing it out gives me the willies.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

You Gotta Love The Humor On Craigslist

Damn skippy, it's Mr. Viddy's time to point out the joys of reading the Portland craigslist. Today I want to talk about the humor I find in the used car section. Just today I saw a gem. Man selling an older GMC Suburban for $3000. Based on his general description I'd drop the three grand for the Suburban if it was in really good condition all around and a 4 x 4 but this one is only 2WD and has a blown head gasket and who knows what else. Damn, he sounds like he is doing you the favor for taking your cash and allowing you the privilege of repairing the engine.

Another ad was for an older Volkswagon GTI, and again the price was reasonable for a fully functioning vehicle but this had numerous engine and drive train issues. Again the seller words the ad so it sounds like he is doing you a favor for allowing you to take his non-running vehicle and get it repaired.

And the final one, which is going to make me sound totally heartless is the ad from the poor, desperate single mother who only has a little bit of money or none at all, throwing away any bit of dignity or self-respect to beg for a used vehicle. Boo-freaking-hoo. I have been a single parent with full custody of my children since they were babies and I know the struggle but I've never begged or degraded myself. Work hard and save up, it is not always easy but you chose to have kids now do the hard work it takes to survive as a single parent and don't come begging for a car.

Where Are They Now: Michael P. Fay

Do you remember what you were doing on this date in history, May 5, 1994? Well, if your name was Michael P. Fay, then it was a good bet that you were in Singapore getting your ass caned for theft and vandalism. And then again in 1998 you'd be confessing to drug charges in Florida. So where is Michael P. Fay now? The real answer is, who really cares.

Tagged For: * *

Light Rail In Portland

Photograph by Patrick Valdez

We should consider ourselves to be very fortunate to have one of the finest public transit systems in the country at our disposal here in Portland. For even if you own a car and do not use public transportation on a regular basis, I have yet to meet a local who has not at some point utilized our bus and light rail system to their advantage.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Today's Stock Market Mimics Mexican Cliff Divers

As you may have seen, stocks took a nosedive today after news of weak earning reports from General Electric and Citigroup sent investors into a selling panic. Today was the biggest single-day percentage decline since April of 2005. I possess a rudimentary understanding of the markets and investing so am not a professional analyst but I believe that much of what caused today's drop in the markets was caused by investors reading only the headlines and not the body of the various earnings reports and news in general.

It is easy to get into a panic mode when you see the headlines of most news stories. After all, the headline is meant to grab your attention and draw you in. But if you only read the headline and then move on to the next one, you are not getting an accurate picture of what is happening in the world. The Dow has been on the rise lately and doing quite well, and not much has really changed in the world from last week to this one. Yet investors read some stories or in my opinion, read some headlines which spooked them and the results can be seen by looking at the closing numbers of today's markets.

Of course, this is simply my opinion and I could be wrong.

Cuba To Play In The World Baseball Classic

The United States has finally reconsidered and has issued a license that will allow Cuba to play in the World Baseball Classic. I am no fan of Fidel Castro or communism but I had always felt that banning the Cuban baseball team from playing was a petty act on our part. The entire world is familiar with our government's animosity towards Cuba and Castro but come on. It's just baseball.

Getting Spanked

Mr. Viddy learned a valuable lesson this morning. Do not attempt to create humorous stories regarding the Governor of Oregon. I did and it resulted in a what I can only describe as a cyber-spanking. It was a chilling experience and I hope that none of you have to experience it. It was a wake up call that made me realize that blogging and making commentaries and even humor itself should be left to the professionals.

Thank goodness for spell checkers.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Google Just Says No To Latest Bush Fiasco

Mr. Bush and his sycophantic cronies are at it again. This time under the benevolent guise of protecting children from online pornography, the federal government is attempting to coerce Google into giving up 1 million random web addresses and related Google search records.

Now if you are the typical ignorant conservative who blindly follows Bush then I suppose there is nothing unreasonable here. Mr. Bush just wants to protect the children. Or maybe this is another step by the Bush administration towards making invasion of privacy a more acceptable form of behavior. After all Bush and his right-wingers have pointed out numerous times that we are not constitutionally entitled to privacy.

What is pathetic is the fact that this administration does not have the courage to just come right out and tell the American people what the real agenda is. If you truly believe that invasion of privacy, restricting freedoms and bending the laws to suit your needs are legitimate ways to protect this country then come out and say that.

You don't want to have access to Google records to pass an internet child protection law, you want the records so you can set a precedent so that in the future you can force other businesses and individuals to divulge confidential customer information. So just say what you mean and we'll let the public decide if they truly support your ideology.

Governor Ted Kulongoski Looking To The Future?

Rumor has it that current Oregon Governor, Ted Kulongoski, was sited at a local Trader Joe's in the Portland area. This anonymous source stated that they overheard Mr. Kulongoski speaking with the store manager and apparently inquiring about possible employment opportunities with Trader Joe's. It would appear that our good Governor is not feeling too optimistic about the upcoming elections and he is looking to life after politics.

Either that or I have just made the whole thing up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

January 18, 2006: A Tree Grows In Beaverton

A Photograph by Patrick Valdez

OHSU Aerial Tram Project: Can You Say White Elephant?

You bitches in Portland keep screwing the pooch when it comes to this white elephant known as the OHSU aerial tram. Look to Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Sandia Peak Tramway which is a monster in comparison to the hoopty tram Portland is trying to get started. There are many impressive statistics dealing with the Sandia Peak Tramway and just the mere fact that it runs some 14,657 feet and has been in service since May 7, 1966 makes the OHSU tram project pale in comparison.

And really, the City of Portland is going to dump millions of dollars into a tram just so that some spoiled ass medical professionals can get to work a little easier. I say, fuck those motherfuckers. They make enough money that they can come up with their own options for getting to work.

Let's just hope that the OHSU tram project will be one of those things that just never gets off the ground. Portland, your money is not being spent wisely. Why millions of dollars to a project to help lazy ass doctors instead of the schools? Ask yourself that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Weather Update: Sunshine In Downtown Portland

I was out and about this afternoon taking in the sights around the downtown Portland area. These photos are courtesy of local photographer Patrick Valdez and show the downtown area during a break in the rain.

The Keyword Search Pervert From Seattle Pays Me A Visit

I could be mistaken, perhaps the individual was merely doing research for a school paper but it was quite shocking when I checked my site stats and found that someone had come across my blog while doing a keyword search for "how to commit rape." I'm sorry, but unfortunately I do not provide training or assistance in committing major felonies. It makes you wonder what in the hell people are doing in their free time up in the Emerald City.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Yet Another Rant Against The Craigslist Seller

I am a pretty devoted bicycle rider, what you would call a roadie because I ride a racing style road bike as opposed to a mountain bike or comfort bike. So I am here to offer some advice and yes, to rant once again about craigslist sellers. And yet again, I am taking aim at the Portland craigslist as I am in the Portland metro area.

People, I am certain that many of you are now familiar with Lance Armstrong and maybe you looked into your garage and noticed you have an old bike that sorta, kinda looks like the style that Lance rides. Now this may be true, a road bike has the thin tires and curved, dropped handlebars and even the older road bikes look very similar to current models but guess what? Yes, over the years everything from the tires, wheels and components have been drastically improved and changed, so a 10 or 20 year old bike cannot be compared to a newer model for the sake of placing a resale price on it.

For example, older road bikes typically have a different, slightly larger sized wheel and tire. The headsets have changed from threaded to threadless. Shifters have, for the most part gone from downtube and suicide style to being located on the brake assembly and even the brakes themselves are of a different size. This is not to say that an older road bike is not worthless, I myself still ride a 20 year old Nishiki that I use as a trainer and on days when the weather is rotten or when I want to run some errands and don't want to have to worry about locking my $2000 Lemond outside of a store.

But over and over again I see people posting a 20 year old bike for sale for hundreds of dollars more than it is worth and when you talk to these people to try and make an offer they stand firm. Either they have truly convinced themselves that the bike is this valuable or they try to convince you that it is a "classic" or collectors item. People, there are not many brands of bicycles that retain there value and most of the bikes I see on craigslist were department store brands or low end models of major brands. Another reason why older bikes won't retain their value is the facts I mentioned about, components have changed so if a part breaks or wears down on an older bike it can sometimes be very expensive to try to upgrade it to the newer components or wheels. For example, a decent wheelset without the tires often times cost more than the price of an old road bike.

All I am saying people is that you need to live in the now and face reality. And don't take my word for it, you can go online and verify that what I have said about older road bikes versus newer ones is true. Sell, but be reasonable. And don't try to convince me that your old Huffy is a classic and worth $300.

Oregon Worker Found To Be Totally Clueless and Has A Blonde Moment

Mr. Viddy came into the office today, same as usual. After getting my coffee and settling in to begin the day I find out the network is having issues so I can't log in to all the systems I need to do my job. Wonderful, just wonderful. So instead of twiddling my thumbs I begin to check my email. It's early on a Monday so not much is in there but then I open up an old email from last week. Guess what, today is Martin Luther King Day and my department wasn't scheduled to open until 10 this morning and I have been here since 8:30 because I forgot to read that damn email and thought it was normal hours today.

I am totally blonde sometimes, go figure.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I Was Enjoying Pinot Noir Before The Movie Was Released

I had some jank ass bastard tell me the other day that I was buying that bottle of pinot noir because I must have seen the movie Sideways. Damn, that was a bold statement to make to a perfect stranger. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church but I was chugging down pinot noir long before the movie, so don't try and revise my personal drinking history just because YOUR life revolves around pop culture trends.

I ain't no stinking wine snob either. I drink what I like regardless of the season, occasion or meal. I am drinking some pinot noir right now as I am blogging. I'd drink at work if it were allowed and believe me I have brought up that topic during many a team meeting. But going back to buddy boy at the market. He got me riled up something fierce but I maintained my composure. No need risking arrest over the comment of some ignorant fool. And if I am not mistaken I think he was purchasing some nasty malt liquor beverage. The nerve of him!

So remember, next time you see someone buying some type of food item or alcoholic beverage don't jump to the conclusion that they were motivated to do so because of a movie, book or episode of the Real World.

Tagged For: * *

A Late Night Mission To Stark Street

If you knew Jeff G. like the rest of us know him then the following story would be pretty shocking and revealing. Without divulging too many details about Jeff I will just say that he presents himself as a pretty conservative, old-school type of guy. He is not overly macho and he doesn't drive a pickup or beat his wife but he's definitely not what you'd consider to be a modern man.

Anyhow, the story begins at the end. I received a call from Jeff last night or rather early this morning, it was 2 am. Jeff says he is downtown and needs a ride home and although I had to be at work this morning I don't question a call from a friend. So I ask where he is and he says he will be waiting outside of Silverado's down on Stark Street. For those of you not from Portland or just don't get out much, Silverado is a gay club. So yeah, it was a bit surprising to hear that Jeff would be waiting for me there. As I was driving downtown my first thoughts were that Jeff went off the deep end and had gone out for a night of gay-bashing. I know that sounds harsh but as I said, he is pretty conservative and has not always spoken well of the gay community. But then again, had he been out making trouble then I'm sure he would have been calling from jail and not asking for a ride home.

So I make my way downtown and pull up in front of Silverado's and there is Jeff, waiting by himself and he sees me and runs over and gets in the car. What kind of vehicle I drive is not important to the story so I won't go into it. Jeff looks ok, he doesn't reek of alcohol or look rumpled in any way so I feel a sense of relief but I am also damned curious. As we begin to drive away I don't say anything, hoping Jeff is going to fill me in. He does.

Apparently Jeff had been questioning his sexuality lately and this was the night he chose to put himself to the test, or however you care to look at it. Jeff tells me about having had mixed feelings most of his life and now at the tender age of 38 he thought it was about time to explore these feelings. Knowing that Stark Street held a collection of bars and clubs catering to gay men he had gone down there to look around. He didn't provide the intimate details but apparently he had met several very cute guys and was very excited about the possibility that he would be seeing one of them again under more intimate circumstances.

Jeff apologized for calling me at such an early hour but he explained that he needed to talk to someone about all that was going on and he said he trusted me the most out of our group of friends and acquaintances. So I felt a bit honored and decided not to rip into him for getting me up at two in the morning. I dropped Jeff off at his house and went home, got a couple more hours of sleep and went to work. I haven't talked to Jeff since then but I am glad that he is feeling happier and better about himself.

The Real ID Act: Showing Us That Freedom Is An Outdated Concept

I want to thank all of our elected representatives who helped make the pending creation of what will be a national ID card and database a reality. Thank you for playing to the fears of the American people. Thank you for hiding this legislation within a spending bill for the Iraq war so that it would quietly pass into law.

The quick and easy explanation of the Real ID Act is that it directs the Department of Homeland Security to create a set of standards for all driver's licenses and state-issued i.d. cards to include linking all of this information from all 50 states into a nationwide database supposedly to make it more difficult for terrorists to obtain valid identification in this country. Any state not complying with this act will find that it's residents will be unable to board a plane or enter a federal building.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that the federal government can be so totally clueless when it comes to the job of combating terrorism. Do you really think that a determined terrorist group who really wanted to attack the United States is going to be stopped just because they are unable to obtain a driver's license? Hell no. This is just another piece of legislation that strips away another level of freedom for American citizens. By using scare tactics and playing to the fears we may have about another terrorist attack, the federal government moves another step closer in it's ability to keep a sharp eye on the American people.

So now the government is going to get a national ID card and database but of course it is not being referred to as a national ID card system it is just coincidental that every state must meet with the federal guidelines and the database with everyone's info, that is just there to help nab the terrorists. So an Oregon ID will still have the state seal just like California ID will have that state's seal and the database itself will never be used to keep tabs on everyday people just the terrorists. And we will all be complacent and accept the simple explanations and be lulled into submission and when the federal government says that in order to further combat terrorism within our borders it will create legislation restricting travel between states or maybe even travel between cities within a state unless you obtain travel documents, what then?

The September 11th attacks were a tragedy but they cannot be used to remake the United States into a nation under constant surveillance. On March 23, 1775 Patrick Henry made the speach which included the famous quote, "
Give me liberty or give me death." The point he was trying to make is that with freedom comes risk but death is far better than surrendering our freedoms and liberties to oppression.

A Rant Against Selling Your Car On Craigslist

This rant is aimed at those psychotic and/or delusional sellers on the Portland craigslist who are selling vehicles at least 20 years old with varying degrees of mechanical/body problems. People you must explain to me how you can set a price on the upper end of the scale for an older vehicle with problems like windshield wipers inoperative, bumper smashed, windows leak, leaks tranny fluid, quarter panel smashed, interior ripped and other major and minor problems. And then to top it all off you state that the price is FIRM even though you are stating you really need the money. The statement that really set me off was the guy selling the 1985 BMW 535i with multiple cosmetic and mechanical problems selling his car for about $500 more than it would be worth in perfect condition and he says, "i will not go less than $1500. the only reason i'm settling on that low of a price is because i need the money NOW! the price is firm."

Wow. Listen buddy, as the old saying goes, beggars can't be choosers. If you are so damned hard up for money don't be so firm on the price of your old beater.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Anonymity Is A Tool For Evil and Terror

I read a pretty good article over on wired.com today regarding a project by kaos.theory security research to keep your computer anonymous and secure by using a bootable disk called Anonym.OS. Being an American I was thrilled to hear about this but when I began to think about the current state of affairs in our country and how willing the general population has been and continues to be when it comes to giving up their freedoms I saw the writing on the wall, so to speak. You can read the wired.com article here---> Anonymity On A Disk

With all the talk out of Washington these days about the importance of trampling over and ignoring our constitutional rights in the name of the war on terrorism it occurred to me that it is only a matter of time before it becomes a federal crime to be anonymous in the United States. After all, why would any innocent American want to be anonymous unless they had something to hide? By outlawing anonymity and creating a national ID card and citizen database the government would merely be protecting the general population. Keeping us all safe from evil and terror under a protective blanket of surveillance.

In addition to outlawing privacy and anonymity it might be a good idea to start restricting travel without prior approval from the government. It should be a rule that in order to travel a certain distance from your home you would need to have some form of official travel documents. My God, just think how many evildoers are roaming freely around our great nation right at this moment. A law-abiding American should embrace any law that restricts travel without prior government approval. It's all in the name of national security and public safety.

Wow, now that I have thought this through I realize that I was wrong to support any group trying to protect anonymity. It is not the American way, at least not in the future we are heading into.

How Google Disappointed A Loyal User

Oh Google, you have begun to disappoint me. Me, a loyal supporter of your services. I was very happy when I noticed that Google Video began to offer episodes of one of my favorite TV programs, The Twilight Zone, but so disappointed when I discovered that this pay service is only available to Windows users. True, I do have both Mac and PC's in the home but my primary computer is Mac and I don't want to have to move equipment around just to watch old episodes of The Twilight Zone. What a bummer.

I understand that Google wants to be everything to everyone but this is a bad way to start. And it's not just Google Video that excludes me. I am also a fan of Picassa and Google Earth but there it is again, Windows only.

I am not a powerful or influential man but I do spend a fair amount of time encouraging people I know to take advantage of new technology and services available via the internet but when a company excludes a portion of the potential market it can be upsetting. I am not going to protest over this but I do hope Google makes some changes soon and perhaps realizes that they don't have to create their own proprietary DRM and media player for Google Video and also, there are plenty of bi-system users like me who want cross platform availability.

Dr. K Proves He Is Sane, Gives Thumbs Down To Third Term

Dr. K gave a BIG thumbs down to pursuing a third term as governor of Oregon. Who can blame the good doctor, why would any sane person want to take charge of the pending train wreck that we call Oregon politics?

If Oregon were personified, we'd be the type of family to appear on Jerry Springer. Good lord, Kitzhaber played it smart, better to pursue more altruistic projects than plunge deep into the hell we call Oregon politics. Dr. K survived his two terms pretty much intact but who knows what would have happened to him had he returned for a third.

So Dr. K, even though I would have welcomed you back I can't say that I blame you. Good luck and steer clear of Salem.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Applying The Turing Test To A Group of Twentysomething Generation Y'ers

If you were to look back on past generations you would see that they all shared something in common. Regardless of the era these generations all created something new or contributed something to society. Whether it was in the field of science, art, entertainment, music or politics it was something new that was added to the mix.

But now we are faced with a new generation, the so-called Generation Y or Generation Whiners who so far have shown little promise in their ability to create something to call their own. They are all real good at recycling things from the past such as music and fashion and even art but nothing has emerged that is unique to their generation.

There is a test which was created by Alan M. Turing and naturally called the Turing Test. It was created as a way to determine if a computer has intelligence. Simplified, it works like this;
The interrogator is connected to one person and one machine via a terminal, therefore can't see their counterparts. The task is to find out which of the two candidates is the machine, and which is the human only by asking them questions. If the machine can "fool" the interrogator, it is intelligent.

If we were to conduct the test above using anyone of any age from a previous generation and substitute a Generation Y'er for the machine it would be shocking to see the outcome. More than likely the Generation Y subject would fail the test and therefore show the lack of intelligence this newest generation possesses.

Today Was A Super Oregon Day

Rain. A little more rain. A pause. A lot more rain. Today, January 13, 2006. Friday the 13th. This has been a delayed weather report for the Portland metropolitan area.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Will He or Won't He: The Future of Oregon and Dr. K

So the Oregonian is saying the good Dr. K will be letting us know tomorrow morning whether or not he is going to be looking for the third time to be a charm. For those of you new to the great state of Oregon, John Kitzhaber is a former two-term governor who ran the big show prior to Governor Kookoogloski.

I'm betting big money that the good doctor is going to give the old dirty thumbs up to pursuing a third term and from what folks down on Pioneer Square are saying, they are looking forward to having Kitzy back in office.

Perhaps we can look forward to a new Golden Age for the state as Kitzhaber will undoubtedly raise the standard of living for all Oregonians and bring in new industries and jobs that are much needed. One things is for sure, the current governor has been asleep at the wheel and it's time to put him out to pasture.

So let's see how tomorrow pans out.

Keeping Safe From A Wild Viddy Loose In Public

Talk about a blow to my self-esteem. Yesterday was my day and during a break in the rain I decided to walk over to the Beaverton Central Transit Center to buy some transfers for the bus. Well, there I was at the corner of Cedar Mills and Millikan waiting for the light to change. There was a white Ford Explorer that had crossed the intersection and was blocking the crosswalk. When the light changed for me to cross the street the lady in the Explorer was yakking away on her cell phone and to play it safe, I walked behind her vehicle as I was crossing the street. As I got about a foot or so near her precious SUV I hear the loud clicks of the automatic door locks engaging. The nerve of this chatty Cathy. Now I know I don't look that threatening and it really irked me that she was the one blocking the crosswalk.

Some people. Well that is my rant for today, Thursday, January 12, 2006. Live from Beaverton, this is Mr. Viddy.

Hollywood To Announce New Horror Movie: Red, White and Goo

The buzz in Hollywood these days is talk about the new indie horror movie tentatively titled "Red, White and Goo." Although I have not seen the script I am told it is a chilling tale of life in America after a takeover by the conservative, Christian right.

It is a world in which ignorance reigns supreme and anyone showing independent thought or action is subject to termination by being burned on a cross. Martial law is enforced by blood-thirsty pastors and their minions and anyone not accepting Jesus Christ as their lord and savior is branded with the mark of the beast on their forehead. Needless to say, this will be a movie ripe with horror.

As of this writing, there have been no big name stars attached to this project but that is subject to change. We will keep you posted.

A Moderate Oregonian And His Opinion Regarding Samuel Alito

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito states he would emulate certain traits of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who he would be replacing on the bench. Normally I am extremely suspicious of anyone George W. would support but in this instance I feel that Sam Alito is being sincere and that he would be fair and open-minded when deciding cases from the bench of the Supreme Court.

In doing my own research on his past rulings I could not really find that he has done anything other than approach each case and make rulings according to the law. Unlike a lot of what has been said about Mr. Alito, I have not seen an instance wherein his personal beliefs influenced a judgment. Of course we are all influenced at least a little bit by our own personal beliefs but for the most part I do not see Samuel Alito as being a Supreme Court Justice who will letting his own emotions cloud his judgments.

As hard as it is to believe, every once in a while someone comes along who meets with George W.'s approval who is not a complete idiot or sycophant.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

CSI: Beaverton | Mystery On Millikan Way

What mischief is afoot in Beaverton?

A crime most foul?

A sinister force invading our streets?

Evil lurking in the darkness?

Or simply a discarded cap gun and an empty beer bottle? You decide.

Teenager Dies At Florida Juvenile Boot Camp

A tragic story comes out of Florida where it was reported that a 14 year old boy "mysteriously" died just hours after entering a military-style boot camp for juvenile offenders.

What struck me most about this story was the fact that even though the investigation is not complete the local sheriff's office is already making statements that the boy was not abused in any way even though there are reports stating that the youth had a cut lip, bloody nose and abrasions on the side of his head. You can see where this story is going. Another case of law enforcement covering up for it's own.

How nonchalant do you think authorities would have been if instead of the boy dying in a juvenile detention facility he had been found like this at home? Exactly, the parents would be in custody and the authorities would be hard at work trying to get to the bottom of things. At least Governor Jeb Bush is calling for a hard look at these types of facilities but it is too late for the 14 year old boy.

A Neo Classic Addition To The Public Art Scene In Beaverton: Due Vecchi Pattini

What you are seeing here today is what appears to be the newest installment of public art in the Beaverton area. This particular piece caught my eye this morning and for the moment it can be viewed in person behind the old Ross building at the Cedar Hills Mall. The title of this piece is "Due Vecchi Pattini" which means, two old shoes and is very similar to the works of the contemporary Italian artists Marcello Guasti and Paolo Chellini.

Again, it is refreshing to see that the City of Beaverton is taking such great strides towards making our community a regional center of culture. At this pace it is simply a matter of time before Beaverton replaces Portland as the area's premier location for fine art.

I will continue to do my part, which is to locate and document new pieces of public art as they appear and then report back to you, my loyal minions. So please stay tuned for further updates and images of public art in the Beaverton area. And to my faithful in Portland, fear not. You will still be represented in my other in depth series which was mentioned here---> Parking Structures of the Portland Metro Area

And remember to support the arts and more specifically the artists themselves.

The photograph above was taken by and is the property of the photographer Patrick Valdez.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Public Art Scene In Beaverton: Yo

Word. Or rather, the word is Yo. While stepping off near the Westbound MAX this morning I took this photograph in what appears to be a new installation of public art here in Beaverton. I have an email into Mayor Drake's office to confirm this but I have not received a reply as of yet. The work you see here is classic urban art, along the lines of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat only not quite as refined.

Never let it be said that the City of Beaverton stands in the shadow of Portland. Our cultural scene is beginning to rival that of Stumptown. I'll be keeping a sharp eye out for more public art in Beaverton and Hillsboro.

The photograph above was taken by and is the property of the photographer Patrick Valdez.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Announcing An Upcoming Series of Thought Provoking Insights Regarding The Parking Structures of the Portland Metropolitan Area

I'll tell you what, Portland has some of the cleanest parking garages in the United States. I have not yet found the hard data to support this claim but I do know what I have seen with my own eyes. Even with the tweakers shooting up in the stairwells, we still enjoy some of the cleanest parking spaces in America.

Starting in a few weeks I will begin a weekly series of reports covering a different parking structure in the metro area and perhaps even Vancouver.
I will be attempting to provide up to the minute reporting on the cleanliness of our local parking garages and highlighting any structure that does not measure up to my standards. Before I launch this series of investigative reports I will be posting the criteria I will be using to judge these structures. That way you, the loyal Oregonian reader will be able to follow along and not get lost as you join me in my thrilling adventures.

This is not necessarily a solo endeavor. I will also be open to feedback and opinions from my legions of loyal followers. If there is a particular parking garage that you want me to investigate you will be able to contact me and I will be more than willing to look into any such requests that I may receive. This will be a true civic project, real grass roots stuff. And because I do not accept advertising dollars or corporate sponsorship like some of these other bloggers, you know that I will remain impartial and uphold the standard of integrity that you have come to expect from me.

So stay tuned for the upcoming launch of Mr. Viddy's Great Parking Structure Expedition.

The photographs above were taken by and are the property of the photographer Patrick Valdez.

A Rant About Craigslist Sellers and My Own Personal Anal Retentive Neurosis

Fellow Oregonians please help me out here. I saw this ad on craigslist this morning for a Kodak DCS Pro digital camera. It includes what looks like actual pictures of the camera that is being sold. The photo on the right clearly shows the camera inside of an open box but in the text of the ad the seller goes out of their way to state and I quote, "This is a BRAND NEW NEVER OPENED Kodak Pro SLR/N Digital Camera."

Maybe I am just being petty but to me a brand new, unopened item means just that, it has never been open.

Crazy. Both me and this ad. Check it out here--->
Kodak DCS Pro SLR/c, optional LENS, COLLECTION WELCOMED - $2500

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Illegal Immigration and the Mexican Government Response

I am outraged over the statements being made by the current administration in Mexico and by those seeking to become the next President of Mexico. They have the audacity to criticize the United States government for wanting tighter controls over illegal immigration into the United States. They do not want the United States to interfere in their internal politics yet here they are making us out to be monsters for wanting to control the flow of non-citizens into our country.

Mexico is one of the most corrupt nations on the planet. Government and law enforcement on all levels there are known for their greed and reputations for not making any effort whatsoever to improve the welfare of their own citizens. I can tell you right now that the main reason any Mexican politician would be against tighter immigration laws is because they know it is far easier to let their own people leave Mexico to come to the United States for a better life than it would be for them to do the hard work it would take to clean up and reform the infrastructure of their country.

It is much easier to look good in the eyes of the Mexican citizenry by condemning the United States and making it look like we are simply trying to deny them a better way of life then it is to look inwards and confront what a mess their own country is in. It takes hard work and sacrifice to affect change, why do that when they can just maintain the status quo and grow rich and fat off of bribes and theft. Why bother to spend money on improving the quality of life for the Mexican people when it is easier to put that money into their own bank accounts?

I am not a big fan of illegal immigration and I can sympathize with these individuals and families because I realize that they are coming from an environment in which their own government would rather have them leave rather than working to make things better. The Mexican government is so eager to take the easy way out that nobody cares about the dangers these people face in crossing the border. They are well aware of the stories of their people dying in the mountains and deserts from exposure or dying by the truckload as victims of the so-called coyotes. They know that the United States is not being unreasonable in wanting to stem the flow of illegal immigration but for them illegal immigration solves a lot of their problems.

Even if the United States were to seal it's borders and offered up billions of dollars in aid to help reconstruct the infrastructure of Mexico it would not solve things. The corrupt politicians of Mexico would see to it that the money went not to the people but to the politicians. I do feel sorry for all of the people wanting to leave Mexico and come to the United States, it must be an awful feeling knowing that a foreign country will provide for you better than your own home. And to the politicians of Mexico, keep your opinions to yourselves. You and your predecessors have all but destroyed your nation so perhaps you should be critical of the issues within your own borders before you take aim at the United States.

I hold no ill feelings to the average Mexican who wants to make a better life for themselves but for the government officials in Mexico, I have nothing but contempt for you.

Pet Peeve of the Day

I really hate bloggers who do nothing but copy articles from other sources and then place them verbatim on their own blog. Like you are doing some sort of public service? If you are going to do this at least get off your lazy ass and make some sort of comment or rebuttal. Over on Orblogs.com, which has some great bloggers by the way, there is this thing, this blog called Timbre of a Timefree Mind that does just this. Just about everything posted by the author is merely copied from another source. No, this will not bring about the end of the world but it really bugs the hell out of me. And this is not a personal attack on the author of the site either, it is just my pet peeve.

Copy-Paste. Copy-Paste. Woo hoo, you are fabulous!

Making A Run For The Border But Stopping Just Short of It

Get my motor running, head out on the highway, I'm looking for adventure and whatever comes my way. Mr. Viddy was born to be wild, in a moderate sort of way. It's a bit too early to begin a countdown but we in the Viddy household are excited and looking forward to our next adventure in life. The move to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The most common question asked of me is, what's in Albuquerque? The answer, for me at least is, change. I am the type of person who believes that life is an adventure and that you should never be afraid to follow your dreams or even act on an impulse. That is what brought me to Oregon from Florida and before that from Nevada to Florida. Oregon had and still does have a lot to offer but for me it is time for a change in scenery.

I have not spent a great deal of time in New Mexico but when I have been there I was always taken by the beauty of the desert and the mountains. It is most definitely a change from Oregon in so many ways. I have a feeling that I will be quite pleased with my decision. In no way I am unhappy with Oregon or the Portland area. This is simply the next step in my life's adventure.

Katherine: A Portrait of Despair

Will Katherine be coming to Portland? It does not look that way. She prefers to suffer in New England with no explanation as to why she chooses to do so. There is nothing keeping her there, she is not tied down by work, school or family obligations. She has been there since 1998 and not a moment has gone by when she hasn't talked about how miserable she has been. I don't know what Katherine would think of Portland or even Oregon in general. But it seems to me that if you are in a place that makes you miserable then anyplace would have the potential to be better than your current space.

Like myself, Katherine is an artist. And as many people have speculated, an artist needs a certain amount of misery in life to inspire them to create their art. Maybe she felt that this was the case for her. But Katherine has not been doing art for some time now. She is so deep into her misery that she does not do much of anything other than simply exist.

On many occasions I have offered to assist Katherine to relocating out to Portland to see if a change of scenery would help. As you can see, she has not taken me up on this offer. It is mind boggling to me because there have been many times in my life when I have felt the same way as Katherine. The difference is that I took action, I took control of my own destiny and wasn't afraid to accept change and as a result I have avoided being stuck in the proverbial rut.

Katherine, it's time for some change. Don't fear the unknown, embrace it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The worst case scenario is that you'd leave New England and come to Portland and be miserable here. And in that case you'd not be a loser, you'd just break even.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Identity Theft: Like Shouting Fire In A Crowded Theatre

Once again I came across an article about the dangers and increasing threat of identity theft in Newsweek magazine. The author went to great lengths to point out how much danger everyone is in and the damage it can cause an individual. He pointed out how banks and financial institutions are so vulnerable to attack and how identity thieves are able to pinpoint specific individuals and companies. He specifically mentioned how over $24 billion in bank deposits are at risk each day in the United States alone.

It was chilling and perverted. He mentioned so many possibilities that it seems the only way we can be safe is to barricade ourselves at home, and even then that is no guarantee that some wily thief won't be able to get to you and your money and identity. And these alleged facts were all backed up by none other than experts and consultants of various cyber-security firms. Very interesting.

Of course he had to mention the numerous phishing scams that anyone who uses email is familiar with. But give me a break, common sense should protect you from phishing. The emails that these crooks use are blatantly obvious and if you just take a moment to think about it when you receive unsolicited offers, telephone calls or requests for personal information then there is no danger at all.

I am not going to say that there are not real threats out in the world and online but as someone who has worked with the public in various capacities, including the financial field, I can honestly tell you that I have never personally met anyone who has been a genuine victim of identity theft. Yes, I know of people who have disputed charges on credit statements and my own sister once had someone steal a credit card statement from her garbage but in most of these cases the problems arose from the individual being careless with that info and also being the victim of some random petty thief.

I have read stories, not many, of people who were the victims of identity theft. People who actually fell prey to someone who went to great lengths to establish i.d. and credit in their names but if you were to Google up such articles you would see that it is hardly a widespread epidemic. There are no solid numbers showing that a large portion of the population has suffered this crime yet I am continually hearing these stories in the media about the dangers. Even the title of the Newsweek article read, "Is that a Bull's-Eye on your wallet."

The bottom line is this, we live in an electronic age and we are all spoiled by the conveniences that computers and other tech items provide. With that convenience comes risk, but the reality is that most of us will never feel the sting of identity theft and those of us who do will more than likely be the victim of a random attack. There is no way to avoid randomness. Whether it is identity theft or getting hit by a car crossing the street the reality is all we can do is take obvious precautions to protect ourselves and not submit to the paranoia that some evil hacker is going to steal our identity and rob us blind.

As the title of my commentary points out, these stories floating around about the dangers of identity theft are merely ploys to attract readers or viewers and often time the stories are presented in such a way as to make them as irresponsible as shouting fire in a crowded theatre. Take my advice, just stick to common sense and you'll be fine.

(Mr. Viddy is an average Joe from Portland, Oregon and is not an authority on any given subject but he is a firm believer in doing his own research and not believing everything he reads. Mr. Viddy always encourages his readers to do the same and welcomes corrections to any statements he might make in error.)

Following Up On Pat Robertson and Ariel Sharon

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is improving but still in critical condition following a massive stroke and although crackpot Pat Robertson has claimed that this is the work of God Almighty, news organizations worldwide have been unable to secure an interview with God to confirm whether or not he had a hand in striking down Ariel Sharon.

Personally, I do not think God was involved. After all, his only son was a Jew. This would lead me to believe that unless God and Jesus have had some sort of falling out, God shouldn't be at odds with the Jews or Israel. Wouldn't a more likely culprit be Pat Robertson or his cronies? After all, Pat Robertson is affiliated with the known hate group, the 700 Club and he has strong ties to the Christian Broadcasting Network which is also in bed with another well known and ignorant pretender, Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Yes, if any one individual or group is to be held responsible for causing Ariel Sharon to suffer a massive stroke, then I believe the culprit would have to come from one of several conservative, evangelical Christian groups. Will the White House launch an investigation? Doubtful. But let's keep our eye on Pat Robertson and see if any other influential or high-profile individuals are struck down in the name of God.

Friday, January 06, 2006

UPDATE: An Evening of 4 Cheese Lasagna and Classic Cinema Ending With Some Adequate Pizza From Papa John's

Mr. Viddy and his family will be sitting down to enjoy a nice 4 cheese lasagna for dinner, after which I will retire to my study and watch the 1927 science fiction classic, "Metropolis" which was the most expensive silent film made at that time. In current dollars the film would have cost $200 million. Even for people who have never seen this film, most of us have seen clips or images of the gothic skyscrapers and the robot Maria from the film.

I highly recommend this movie, it is generally available through Netflix or Blockbuster Online. Due to it's age it is not readily available at most local video rental stores.

Nix those original plans. My movie did not arrive in the mail, perhaps it will come tomorrow. I did enjoy the lasagna and a couple of glasses of pinot noir and now I am waiting on the pizza man to deliver the late snack.

A Brief Observation of the Cable Television Industry

I am not lobbying for the cable industry but recently I came across several articles that were overly critical of that industry. They present companies such as Comcast and Time Warner as these evil cabals who are out to rape the consumer with high prices. They had many quotes from various cable customers who were expressing outrage over the costs of cable television service and other quotes from local lawmakers who were calling for reforms.

It was a good read and served its purpose. Sensationalism. Nothing draws the public in like a story highlighting evil corporations who exist solely to generate profits. And it seems that 9 stories out of 10 that concern the cable industry have a negative slant to them. And a lot of the information they present is factual, but not fully explained. You can point to rate increases, lack of programming choices or the fact that most cable operators offer packages or tiers of programming instead of allowing subscribers to pick and choose, so called "ala carte" programming.

Yes, these are the facts that are almost always presented but what is not shown is the reason behind these issues. They never take the time to explain how cable operators raise rates due to costs involved in maintaining a complex infrastructure or the fact that cable operators are distributors of entertainment and content, they are not the producers of it. Nobody explains to the public that cable operators must deal with the various studios and networks who produce and control the content. And often times, it is the networks and studios that dictate to the cable operators such as Comcast and Time Warner what programming they can offer and how to offer it to subscribers. It is not merely that the cable operators want to force you to take 10 channels of HBO and 6 channels of The Discovery Channel. It has to do with the fact that in order to negotiate reasonable rates, the cable operators must agree to bundle programming and not make it available ala carte.

HBO's sister network is Cinemax, so an example of the that network forcing programming is typically something like this. They tell the cable operators that if you just offer HBO you pay (and this is not a real figure) $1 million per year, but if you offer both HBO and Cinemax we'll give a significant discount. So what ends up happening is the cable operator agrees to this arrangement so that they in turn can offer better rates to subscribers. If operators like Comcast and Time Warner did not enter into these type of agreements then cable rates would be even higher.

So if you are truly looking at lowering cable television rates, a good place to start is not with the cable operators but with the studios and networks. They are the ones who have the controlling interests in the big picture. They dictate the terms. But really the bottom line is the fact that cable television and going to the movies are all forms of entertainment and they are not necessities of life. You do not need cable television to survive, it is an extra in life. Like taking a vacation or having dinner in a nice restaurant. Some people complain about paying to much but the indignation they show makes it seem like they think it is a right not an extra to have cable television. Keep that in mind next time you complain. And also realize that there are many aspects and players in the cable industry who influence pricing and content. Don't always be so quick to attack just the cable operators. They are simply the most visible face in the crowd.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Beaverton Transit Center: A Winter Night

This is a manipulation of a photograph of the Beaverton Transit Center taken by local photographer Patrick Valdez.

A Follow Up Rant Against The Conservative Christian Scourge

So we have the Catholic League, Focus on the Family and the American Family Association all of which are conservative "Christian" groups who are most definitely among the most delusional group of people I have ever come across.

The outrage and indignation they have shown towards the new TV show "The Book of Daniel" is downright hilarious. I suppose that to them being Christian means you are without any fault or flaws, and as such it gives them the right to say if you do not meet their narrowly defined criteria of a good Christian you are evil.
Two NBC affiliates in Arkansas and Indiana have already succumbed to the pressure and have refused to air the show.

Thank God for the conservative Christian's, deliver us from evil and please continue to preach censorship and unacceptance of others. You know just how dangerous freedom of speech and expression is, we can't tolerate that kind of behavior here in America. And if the networks keep producing shows like "The Book of Daniel" then it won't be much longer before we are all fornicating with animals and running naked through the streets.

I am always confused by these conservative Christian types. Doesn't the word Christian have something to do in relationship to Jesus Christ? And wasn't Jesus Christ the one who was somewhat known for forgiveness and also for giving his own life for our sins? So why is it that a lot of these Christian groups are so critical and unforgiving of others? Are there secret passages of the Bible that only the Catholic League, Focus on the Family and the American Family Association have access to? Are these the chapters that deal with one human condemning another in the name of God and Jesus? Is God and his only Son in direct contact with these groups, dictating what actions to take?

Listen up, if you don't like a TV show then don't watch it. I don't know about you people but I have several TV's and computers in my home and they all have this wonderful little feature called a power button. And there are plenty of objectionable shows that I simply choose not to watch. I suggest you conservative Christians give that a try sometime.
To read the article that started me on this rant you can find it here---> Two Stations Won't Air 'Book of Daniel'

Pat Robertson: Nutty King of Evangelical Christians

It is never surprising how insane the evangelical Christian element can get. We have several groups flipping out over that NBC show "The Book of Daniel" and now the king of the nuts, Pat Robertson is spouting off about how Israeli Prime Minister Sharon was struck down by the wrath of God. Luckily for these so-called Christians, God is pretty forgiving because he can see what kind of ignorant, hate mongering fools that Pat Robertson, Focus on Family and others really are.

If God were inclined to show his wrath, then it would be evangelical Christians that would find themselves crispy critters.

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The Sago Mine Disaster: A Study In Poorly Executed Public Relations

First and foremost. my condolences go out to all the families who lost someone in the Sago Mine disaster. To add insult to injury it seems to me that everyone surrounding this tragedy other than the family members affected has handled the press coverage very poorly.

First there were the unconfirmed reports of 12 survivors, and then we learned it was just a single survivor. And then without any confirmation, we have the families being contacted and being told that same information only to find out later that it was false.

And then we have reports saying the single survivor didn't suffer brain damage, and now we find out that he might have brain damage.

I just don't know, it seems like this whole tragedy has resulted in a lot of extended agony for the families involved, mostly due to statements going out before they should.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

More Worthless Parenting Advice From A Hack Freelance Writer

I am a single parent but I know that the daily situations I run into are common to two parent households as well. As I was casually surfing the internet tonight an article caught my eye and you can view it here---> Dads, work, and other high wire acts

At first I thought to myself, "cool, a useful parenting article" until I read through the article and realized that this writer must live in a wonderful fantasy world where employers actually care about the lives of their employees. Unfortunately, I live in the real world so all of the useful advice given in the article was of no use to me and most other parents that I know.

I mean honestly, how many of you have such a wonderful boss that you can go to them and ask for less responsibility or a more relaxed schedule and hope to remain with your company? I know that in my current position and even my last couple of jobs, had I made such a request it would have been denied outright or if it had been granted I would not be seen as a valuable employee and things such as future raises or promotions would have gone out the window. In the American workplace, employers want and demand workers who can put in the long hours without complaining and anyone not willing to do so is seen as a liability or weak link in the chain. Year after year studies show that American workers put in some of the longest hours with the shortest amount of vacation time.

Another useless tip the writer gave was the use of flex time. Again, my current employer does give me a generous amount of flex time but it is not so flexible. In order to use my flex time without any repercussions I must request it two weeks in advance and I must also make sure that we have the personnel on hand to cover my absence. This is not to say that if I or one of my children were sick or injured and I had to stay home that I couldn't use my flex time to cover my time away from work, but if I use flex time for an unexpected absence such as injury or illness I am subject to disciplinary action because it would be considered unscheduled or unapproved time off. So as the writer suggests, using flex time to stay home with my family for quality time or to care for a sick child could land me in the unemployment line.

Another gem the writer suggests, if you are overworked consider hiring help around the house such as a gardener or housekeeper. Wonderful, but I don't know too many people here in Portland with enough disposable income to cover such a luxury. But thanks for that advice, it really helps us regular folks.

It's real easy to offer up parenting advice when your target audience is affluent but you don't see a lot of useful advice aimed at working class stiffs like me and most parents I know. Why? Because it's freaking hard and the reality is that most employers don't want to hear about problems at home or that you want to spend time with your family. They want to squeeze the maximum amount of work out of you at the lowest cost to them and if you don't like it, they are more than happy to show you the door.

So Mr. Freelance Writer, thanks for the advice, it's just too bad I don't know of anyone who can use it.

When Cartoons Influence Your Judgement

It may be pure coincidence or perhaps I am just a nut but it dawned on me that I am following a vicious pattern in my life. As most Portlander's know, this is the home of the creator of "The Simpsons" and to be perfectly honest, when I first moved here many years ago I was not entirely familiar with that fact. Now I am considering a move to Albuquerque, New Mexico and it has come to my attention that the creator of another cartoon series, "Beavis and Butthead" lived there and like Matt Groenig did with Portland and The Simpsons, Mike Judge based a lot of the characters and geography off of Albuquerque.

It is a bit scary that I am finding myself drawn to cities with such strong ties to cartoons. Does this mean I am slowly losing my grip on reality and in doing so purposely seeking out real places that also exist in animated realities? Or is it all a coincidence? Madness ensues.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Californians Have Fecal Tastes But Deep Pockets

I was over at the Houston Chronicle's website today and they had a lovely piece from the Reuters News Service regarding a hot new trend in the coffee drinking subculture.

Kopi Luwak beans from Indonesia are rare and expensive, $175.00 per pound. Apparently they possess a rare flavor and aroma which is enhanced by the process of having been eaten and digested by palm civets, which are nocturnal, tree climbing mammals the size of a large house cat.

For some yet unknown reason, the digestive system of the palm civet produces a compulsion within the human psyche to go out and pay an obscene amount of money for what amounts to, very shitty coffee beans.

And of course, the majority of the orders placed for these beans have come from California.

The original source article can be read here--->
Shitty Beans

Monday, January 02, 2006

SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Mr. Viddy

Mr. Viddy has resided in the Pacific Northwest, more specifically in the Beaverton area, for over seven years. Mr. Viddy came from the Sunshine State, which is better known as Florida. Mr. Viddy has learned the hard way what seasonal affective disorder is.

Mr. Viddy is not a big fan of any form of drugs, even prescription medication. And light therapy is just not the same as genuine sunshine so for the better part of the year I am not very happy. Mr. Viddy spends an inordinate amount of time dreaming about sunny climates. Unfortunately, Oregon is truly a beautiful place so it is difficult considering a move to a sunnier climate.

New Mexico is looking pretty good right now, Mr. Viddy has been there many times and it is very similar in most respects to the Portland metro area. If I were to leave the Portland area I'd definitely miss the panhandlers and battery salesmen down on Pioneer Square and if I were lucky, when I got to my new home I could look forward to having many bicycles stolen from me as I have experienced here.

But for now, Mr. Viddy is still deep in the throes of SAD and is unable to ponder a relocation at this time due to his crippling depression.


Little Rich Kid Safe At Home

Spoiled brat, Farris Hassan, is safe at home. Thank goodness, now I can finally get some sleep at night. The misadventures of this reckless punk had me worried to death. I would have been so distraught had anything bad happened to this precious baby. Upon his return, daddy took him out for a steak dinner and then to a secret place for a good sleep. Boy, it sure was great that he learned a lot about the suffering of the Iraqi people and that he brought that new found knowledge back with him.

Don't quote me on this but I think Farris was overheard to have said, "screw them dirty Iraqi's, I'm sure glad my parents are rich and that I'll have a sweet life down here in South Florida!"

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Trek Bikes Honors Portland With New Model of Commuter Road Bike

Most of you know that Portland is considered to be one of the top biking cities in the nation and now we have been honored by Trek Bikes, a top manufacturer, with a commuter road bike of our own, the 2006 Trek Portland.

This is a jazzy little number that comes with an aluminum frame and a mix of mid-quality Bontranger and Shimano components. A nifty feature is the quick release fender system, which is a real necessity for those of us here in Portland. At the moment you are held to burnt orange as the only color available but perhaps that may change as the product line progresses.

Although this is not a high performance, racing road bike, it is definitely well put together and will serve most roadies well in a variety of situations. The local Bike Gallery stores are beginning to get these in stock, so whether you are a beginning roadie or experienced old git, I'd recommend heading over there to give the 2006 Trek Portland a test spin.

You can tell them Mr. Viddy sent you, but nobody knows who I am so it wouldn't mean much!

Mr. Viddy Welcomes His Fellow Oregonians To 2006

Hi. Glad you all survived. Take care of those hangovers and get some rest.

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