Apologies Accepted

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Okay, so it’s New Year’s Eve, and you know what that means.  It means you may be among those who have something to apologize for (excuse me, for which to apologize) when you get up tomorrow morning (afternoon? evening?) and remember what foolish things you did the night before.  Or had someone else remember for you.

In the spirit of public service and starting the new year off right, we offer this online apology form.  When you’ve regained consciousness, fill out the form as needed and send it to those who were at the party with you.  Better yet, send it to everyone in your address book, and send it now.  Why wait?

Happy New Year.

Cover-Up

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Benazir Bhutto, 1953-2007 

As was observed over at BrianKaneOnline on the day of her assassination, the blame for Benazir Bhutto’s death appears more and more likely (though it seems there was little reason ever to doubt) to rest at the feet of Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf and his government.  Early conflicting reports as to the cause of death (“She was shot.” “No, it was shrapnel.” “No, she hit her head.”), combined with new video appearing to show Bhutto being shot, render the government’s explanations absolutely not credible.

That no autopsy was conducted, either because of the actions of the Rawalpindi police chief, or the request of Bhutto’s husband, only raises more questions.  Either way, I agree with Mr. Zardari in not trusting the Pakistani government to conduct one honestly.  Because of the cloud Benazir Bhutto’s murder places over an already precarious Pakistan, an international investigation, including a family-approved exhumation and autopsy, must be conducted.  To honor Mrs. Bhutto and her memory, and for her family and the Pakistani people, the world deserves to know the truth.

Our government, and others, must demand an international investigation.  Now.

Slot Machines

Slot Cars
Nope. Sorry. This is not about the kind of slot machines you might find in Vegas, but this kind of slot machine, or slot car.

For me, anyway, this is the one of the greatest Christmas presents that was, and wasn’t. When I was maybe seven or eight I remember getting a slot car race track set for Christmas. I still remember it – Strombecker, with an orange Can-Am Chevy-Lola and another blue Can-Am race car model I can’t identify.  (Isn’t the Internet wonderful?)  Anyway, I remember my dad and I playing with it for hours. At some point, it wore out or I broke it. When I was a little older I moved on to a Tyco HO slot car set that I played with into my teens.

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Make a Habit, Break a Habit

For those of you who are looking beyond Christmas, New Year’s is only two weeks away. The coming of a new year is a time many look forward to with resolve, to make new habits, or to break old habits.  A quick search shows about 2.5 million ways to make a habit or break one.  Ways to make new habits (we’re assuming they’re good habits) outnumber ways to break what we’ll assume are bad habits by about six to one.  Sounds like we’re better at wanting to add new habits (writing more letters, reading more books, going to the gym) than we are getting rid of old ones (smoking, eating too much, procrastinating).

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I tend not to make New Year’s resolutions per se.  Why set yourself up for failure, I say.  Even so, I often find myself looking for new beginnings, milestones dates on the calendar to start over, trying to slay some particularly troublesome habits, only to fail, without fail, not long after I start.  What I have discovered (and, no, I didn’t check out all 2.5 million links – but feel free…) is that there are no shortcuts, especially when it comes to getting rid of a bad old habit.  Surprise, surprise.

So what will it take?  According to one of the millions of hits:

  • Awareness
  • Wanting to change
  • Commitment
  • Consistent action
  • Perserverance

This advice sounds much like what I found on other pages.  Simple enough in concept, but still not easy, and no shortcut to success.  The first two I think I’ve got, although my desire for change apparently hasn’t been strong enough to generate a lasting commitment, or consistency and perserverance in the face of trial.

Well, what was it Alexander Pope said?  Hope springs eternal?  Let’s hope so.

SUV Owners Are Hypocrites. Or Not.

1999 Suburban
In a recent editorial, the editor of our local weekly (weakly?) paper said that people who drive SUVs and then complain about gas prices are hypocrites.  Aside from trying to trying to provoke a reaction – which he has obviously accomplished – he is just plain wrong.

Let’s start with what a hypocrite is:

  1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
  2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

I drive an SUV, a 1999 Chevy Suburban, one of the largest.  And, yes, it gets sucky gas mileage.  As I said in an earlier post, though, fuel economy is but one of the factors to consider in buying a vehicle.  If the thing doesn’t do what you need it to do, then it really doesn’t matter that it gets 65 mpg, now does it?  Another of the unfortunate realities is that most vehicle choices are the result of compromise – more of one thing, less of another; more cargo and passenger space, lower fuel economy.

It would be nice if I could magically transform the family wonder vehicle into a lightweight, fuel-efficient, commuter at the push of a button, but I can’t.  Nor can I buy something the auto industry doesn’t make (yet, though they are getting closer, and will get even closer if Congress can get its act together).  Meanwhile, not liking the fact that I now have to pay more than three bucks for a gallon of gas doesn’t make me a hypocrite.

If I went around beating my chest about how bad SUVs were and criticizing other people for driving them, all the while continuing to drive my Suburban, then I’d be a hypocrite.  Say, I wonder what the editor of the local paper drives…

Earthshine

Earthshine

About ten years ago we were driving along on a clear, cold December late afternoon.  The moon was just a thin crescent in the darkening sky and one of our kids said, “Hey, look!  You can see the rest of the moon!”  My wife agreed, but of course I was too smart for this and said that it was only an optical illusion, that of course you couldn’t see the whole moon when it wasn’t a full moon.  End of story, right?

Wrong.

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Warms You Twice

Cord WoodIt’s been said that firewood warms you twice – once when you cut it, and again when you burn it.  Our firewood was delivered cut and split, but I haven’t missed out.  Stacking it, I worked up a pretty good sweat in our garage despite it being about 30 degrees F.

Along with the snow that came to our area Monday, the first snowfall of the season in southern Maine, winter heating season has arrived in good fashion.  Heating oil is nearly a dollar a gallon more than last year, and seasoned firewood is impossible to find.  We live in an old house and, even with the thermostats running the house at about 62 degrees F, our monthly heating oil budget plan payment is almost $600 a month.  So I was grateful for the warmth of stacking the wood, but this morning all I have (aside from a nice stack of wood in the garage) is an aching back, aching shoulders, aching neck, legs, hands, and – oh – wallet.