Sunday, April 13, 2008

Up Early on a Sunday, Again

This is usual for me, since I've never really liked sleeping late. I've never really been able to sleep late. Susan is still out,and I can hear her snoring while I type. We had a good week.

We met each other 3 years ago, last Thursday, so this past Thursday went out for dinner. We chose pretty ritzy seafood place, one that requires a jacket and tie, and we had fun dressing up. I have a black suit I like, with a silver-gray shirt and a black silk tie, and I thought I looked pretty sharp until I saw Susan. She wore a brown dress, that looked simple, but wasn't. It had an inner strapless sheath that clung, but still hid, and outer translucent layer that covered without covering, and she'd let her hair down. It's almost waist length, big, red, and frizzy, and she usually keeps in a braid or a bun, or even a braided bun. She wore her contacts instead of her glasses, and she has the most amazing light brown eyes... She was beautiful that night, even more beautiful that when we met.

I called the restaurant in ahead of time, to order dinner and desert in advance. She was pretty impressed when I gave the maitre'd my name, and our table was already set, and dinner arrived just as we sat down. We were in a little alcove near the side of the dining room, with a fishtank on either side of us. It was a good effect, I think. And now that I've gotten all mushy.....

I'm gonna go make French toast. I make some great french toast. The secret is to use a sourdough bread, cut in thick slices, and to add cinnamon, nutmeg and milk to the eggs. I'm up very early enough, so I'll go buy the bread at a bakery I know, while it's still warm. This'll be a good day for breakfast.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Waking up Early

I'm up early today, which isn't unusual for me, it might have something to do with the sleep problems I've mentioned here before, but anyway, what of it? So I'm up early, and doing some blogging.

It's cool and rainy today, but Susan and I are planning on taking our roller blades out to a park and skating around anyway. I think we'll take a picnic lunch, too. I'm sure we'll be able to find a gazebo or some other fairly dry place to eat.

Kingsford is rubbing my feet, and trying to pounce on them. He's a charcoal gray tabby kitten that Sue fell in love with about a month ago. For some reason, he's taken more of a liking to me than to her. She's not amused.

On my last post, I talked about Iraq. I think most Americans have something to say about that; it's an issue that has hit most of us pretty closely.

I think today I'll talk about candidates. The primaries have done their job, and narrowed a wide field down to three. The Republicans are pretty much closing ranks around John McCain, even though some of them have to close their noses to do it. I rather respect McCain; he's got a reputation for straight talking, which is refreshing in a politician, and he's definitely shown his loyalty to the country.

The Democrats are beating themselves up over Obama and Clinton. I'll admit; I was partial to Bill Richardson or John Edwards as the primary season began, but I really don't know who I'll vote for now. I don't like Clinton. I lost all respect for her when she didn't divorce Bill. With all of the infidelity cheating that came out about that man, you'd think anyone with an ounce of self-respect would have left him.

Obama strikes me as an empty suit. What has he said? He's for change. He's for unity. He's for progress. Very nice; now maybe he could put together some actual policy statements?

I'm 26 years old. I turned 18 in 1999, and voted for Gore and Kerry. Possibly, I'm a knee-jerk Democrat. But I don't trust either front runner right now, from the party I would gravitate to, and I'm thinking I'll just hold my nose and vote McCain. He's a (gag) trickle down economics man, but he's told us the truth about Iraq, and his views are easy to figure out. Unlike Obama, he doesn't vote "present" in the Senate.

Are those the best reasons to make a choice? I don't know. But I do know that sitting out an election negates one's right to bitch about it afterwards, so....

And that's what happens when I wake up early. I'm going to go make some French toast, and have breakfast in bed with my lovely fiancee. It's a beautiful day.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Thinking About Iraq

Iraq is a hot button issue in American politics these days. Judging by the Presidential candidates, there are two main view:

That of Clinton and Obama, that the US forces need to get the heck out, and that right fast;
and that of McCain, that the US forces are in for a long hard slog.

My thought is this:

Going there 5 years ago was the wrong thing to do. It was the wrong war, at the wrong time. Bush squandered all sorts of world-wide goodwill and good feelings that accrued to the US after 9/11, and fouled up a perfectly good coalition that was fighting in Afghanistan, and he did because Saddam was a bad man who'd made his daddy look bad.

How mature of our President. And we re-elected that bonehead.

Personally, I think that the US would be far better off today, and I said this in 2003, if the Bush Administration had sent 1/2 of the Iraq resources in men, material, and money to Afghanistan and actually did the job he said the US would do there. You know, the nation building, and all that. Maybe then the current Afghan government would rule more than Kabul.

Do I think that Iraq should have been ignored? Well, no actually, I don't. But I do think that Bush could have gotten the Brits, and the Aussies, and the UN, and the whole world to go along with immeasurably tightening the sanctions on Iraq: the no-fly zones, the trade sanctions, etc, and forced his way in, without a major war, to find out the truth about the WMDs.

Instead, he swallowed Saddam's bluff, and invaded. Now we can see what's going on.

So now the US is in Iraq, and the question is, do we stay or do we go? Hard choice. Bush says it's better to fight "the terrorists" over there than over here, and I agree, but what are we doing to secure the borders? The TSA is joke, the border with Mexico is wide open, and there's nothing anyone is doing about it.

So what do we do? Do we leave Iraq? Well, that will tell the terrorists that they've won, and I'm pretty sure they'll just find a way to hit the US again, because they know that the US won't stay in the fight for the full 10 rounds. And for now, they won't stop fighting in Iraq because they know that even if the US does stay, the Iraqi government is weak, and, in the eyes of Iraqis, illegitimate.
Check out this article for details.

I think that Moqtada al-Sadr just proved last week that, despite the "surge," the insurgent forces really control the pace of violence in Iraq. It's a scary thought. What did all those US troops go there for?

Well, they did do some good. When the buildup started last year, combined with more aggressive counterinsurgency tactics, they forced (relative) quiet on the country. The Iraqi al-Qaida guys were mostly beaten, and the al-Sadr militias backed away from the fight. But now that the US troops are starting to scale back down, here come the al-Sadr guys to fight. And they've just shown that the Iraqi Prime Minister, al-Maliki, is really just the mayor of Baghdad.

So what's the answer? We've just been given notice that whenever the US forces leave, "the terrorists" that Bush is so scared of are going to take over, with bloodshed. It's clear that the Iraqi government which Bush has tried so hard to promote can't stand on its own, and its equally clear that most Americans don't want to spend 100 years holding it up.

So can we set the wayback machine to 2003, now, Sherman?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Well, I'm Back!

At last!

It's been a while, hasn't it? Well, a lot has gone on in my life since then. Susan and I did Christmas with my family, and we all managed to get some good cheer going even so soon after my brother's suicide..... The next day, my mom, my sister, and I divvied up my brother's ashes. I kept my share in a small wooden box on my bookshelf for a while, but more on that later.

After Christmas, Susan and I drove down to Sarasota, Forida to visit her grandparents. OK, so the weather sucked for driving, but it was good to get away, and I has a surprise for her after that visit. While we were down there, we got to stand on the beach at sunset and I tossed my brother's ashes into the Gulf of Mexico. Goodbye, bro. We'll miss you. It was a sad moment.

But I've digressed... There's a bigger point to make:

On the way back north, we stopped at Disney in Orlando. Susan didn't know this, but I'd bought us a reservation back in September. We had three days and nights there, and on the first night, having dinner at Cinderella's castle, I gave her the ring she's always wanted, and asked her to marry me.

She said "yes."

And there was much rejoicing.

So we've spent a lot of the last few weeks working out details, or trying to, anyway. She wants to get married "under a chuppah," (that's the Jewish ceremony), and by a rabbi, but she doesn't know a rabbi who performs interfaith marriages. Actually, she does, but he's not her rabbi. It would be easier if I'd convert (she won't, she's already said), but I won't do that; I don't believe it, I'm too much of an agnostic humanist, and converting religions just to get married even if you don't believe in it seems like rank intellectual hypocrisy to me. Susan agrees with me on that one, but it still is making things harder.

So.... We can't get the ceremony planned and set, her parents are less than thrilled, and that's where things are. If we can't work out these issues within a year, we'll go to the courthouse and take care of it there. Metaphorically, anyway; I have a friend who's family friend is a district court magistrate, so we'll really bring the courthouse to us, but what's the difference? A wedding's a wedding.

What else....? Remember when I said I took the position with the ad firm, as head copywriter, while their head copywriter was on maternity leave? Well, she came back, and got promoted, so I'm officially keeping her old job. It's nice. The economy sucks right now, so no raises, but hey, I'm still doing all right.

Susan got promoted her job, too. She's now a shift supervisor at the call center.

And we got a cat.

And all of that is life, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


It's far to early in the morning, I woke up almost an hour ago, and I can't get back to sleep. I've put by briefcase (OK, backpack) together for work, but I don't have to leave for another 3 hours or so. And you can only read the newspaper so many times, can't you?

I don't think that this has anything to do with my brother; it's just that bit of insomnia I get sometimes. I don't like sleeping pills, and I can't drink warm milk (I hate milk), so I just deal with it. I'll sleep well tomorrow, if past patterns mean anything.

So now I'm on the computer, updating my comments and doing a little bit of blogging. Susan and I went out to see "The Mist" on Sunday, and man, that was one freaky movie. Almost as good as the story. I won't give a spoiler, but the ending was pretty horrific, even though you could see it coming from a mile away.

I think I'll go make pancakes. Y'all have probably noticed this, but a lot of my blog features whatever I'm cooking. I like to cook. And Susan likes to eat what I cook. If we're still slim at 35, I'll be shocked.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Breathing Again

Susan told me that we're going out for dinner tonight. No ifs, ands, or buts about it, she said, we're going out.

I think she's trying to get me to feel less miserable, and I appreciate it, but it's freezing-ass cold out, and they're expecting snow for the weekend. I'd rather stay in. If I have to go out, I'm just gonna stock up on hot chocolate, and maybe a little Bailey's to go with it, and perhaps a few good salmon fillets, and that's it. It's winter, and we'll spend the nights in. Besides, I really don't feel like going out lately.... Anyway, we've got a good apartment for getting cozy on a cold night. It's an older building, with steam heat, and did I ever mention that it has a fireplace?

She and I will have to discuss 'stay in' versus 'go out,' preferably in front of the fireplace, with mugs of hot chocolate, while the honey-poached salmon is cooking.

I took the day off of work today, and tomorrow too, so I could finish clearing out my brother's stuff over at my sister's place. His old basement room looks bland now, with no personality left to it. I guess it goes back to being the guest room.

And remember that I said he left behind some credit card bills? Well, Visa's being a dick about it, and we have to pay up. My sister, my parents, and I are just splitting it up and covering it. It's easier than arguing with them. My share comes to $417.

I really hate credit cards. When they were invented, in the 1950s, they must have had a sort of cachet: "I don't have the money now, but these people have it for me!" Nowadays, the requirements to get a credit card have been reduced down to pretty much just a pulse. Even a chronically semi-employed, semi-homeless drudge like my brother had a $1200 credit account, and he was even over the limit on it!

Well, I'm don't feel like heading off on a rant right now, that's probably related to why I don't feel like going out tonight, too, so I'll just get the salmon started. It'll help convince Susan to stay in.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Cleaning Up

Yesterday, I went over to my sister's place, and the two of us cleaned out my brother's stuff. The clothing went to a thrift store, the 50 bucks in cash and change went to a food bank, and everything else had to be sorted and distributed. It was a sad task.

For the few years, since his divorce, he'd been living in our sister's basement, and when you live somewhere for a few years, you tend to accumulate stuff. My brother was no exception. And, of course, there was all of his stuff from before his life turned to crap.

Some of the mementos we set aside for his daughter. She's a bit angry right now, and I don't know if she'll ever want them, but when she gets older, I think she'll appreciate it. This pile includes things like his old signet ring, his wedding ring that I can't believe he kept, his high school and college diplomas, his old trumpet, various keepsakes and souvenirs he'd collected over the years, and a small album of photos of Dana, as a baby, with my brother, or as she went through school. He was a non-custodial parent, which probably doesn't sound as bad it must have been, but he kept those pictures, and he kept them updated. We kept the album for her, too.

My sister took a couple of his old sweatshirts. I took some books and a chess set. There really wasn't much else. Most of the books went to a used book store, and after that we just had to clean up the mess, wash the dirty laundry, throw away the junk mail, and sort out the bills.

Some of those, we'll be able to pay from what's left of his bank account: cell phone and his share of my sister's utilities. The credit card bills ($1200! Who the f*** gave that nimrod $1200 worth of credit cards!) I'm not sure what we'll do with. I guess we'll contact the card issuers, and let them know that the debtor is deceased, with no estate. A bad write-off, I guess.

I wonder if he hoped that his life would be worth more than that?

Anyway, it's very late on Sunday night, or very early on Monday morning, depending on your point of view, and I have to go to work in the morning. Susan's awake, and she's calling me. She's been a rock through all of this, and really helped me, and my sister, and our parents to get through it. She took the calls from the police, and drove us to the county morgue to "identify the body," and them got my brother's car out of impound and contacted a funeral home. My mom wants me to marry her.

I'm gonna go now. I'll blog more later.