Archive for April, 2012

Who Ordered This Ugly Weather? Can We Send It Back?

Being a weather forecaster can be a nightmare.

It doesn’t really matter if you’re right more than 80% of the time because people don’t remember that.  They remember the 10-20% of the time when it doesn’t rain or snow when you say it will, especially snow.  Or, when the clouds and fog in the forecast are expected to dissipate allowing highs to reach 69° and it remains bleak and overcast and the temperature peaks at 57°.  Oops!

I’d be very rich if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard, “I wish I had a job where I was wrong all the time and still had a job.”  I used to smile and say nothing.  Now, I say, “me, too.  If you find one like that, let me know.”

It’s now Monday afternoon and while the fog dissipated, it’s still cloudy.  It doesn’t look much better outside now than it did this past weekend.

I’m so ready for the weather to improve this week so I can finish planting my garden and plants, but I want to put this past weekend into perspective.

High temperatures only reached 50° Saturday and 53° Sunday, officially at the Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois.  Average high temperatures this time of the year are around 67°.

Although last weekend, April 21 and 22, 2012, was chilly with an average high temperature of 58°, this past weekend marks the chilliest weekend in eight weekends across the Quad Cities.

We have to go all the way back to the weekend of March 3rd and 4th to find a weekend colder.  That weekend had highs of 33° and 32° and we even picked 0.9″ of snow on Sunday, March 4, 2012.

However, this past weekend was a far cry from the weekend of March 17th and 18th when we had high temperatures of 82° and 83°!

Along with the chilly temperatures this past weekend, we also picked 1.12″ of rain in Moline and 1.73″ in Davenport, Iowa, Saturday and Sunday.

Things are going to change once we get rid of the low clouds.  High temperatures Tuesday through Friday will warm into the 70s and 80s!  But, there will be a daily chance of showers and thunderstorms.  Rainfall amounts in that time period could easily top 1-2″.

Anthony

The Postal Service Is Losing Billions! Is It Worth Saving?

Do you still mail letters to family members across the country and if so, how often?  Do you still get a paper copy of your utility and credit card bills mailed to you?  The answers to both of those questions are most likely to be  “no” or “not very often”.  That is the problem facing the United States Postal Service (USPS).

An increasing number of Americans and people around the world can pay their bills, send pictures, notes, and letters to friends and families with just a click of a button on a computer.

Earlier this year, the Postal Service released its five-year business plan to Congress asking for help with its financial problems.  The USPS recorded a $3.3 billion loss, that’s BILLION, in the final three months of 2011.

The proposed plan would save the USPS about $20 billion over the next five years, but it needs Congress’ help.

Last week, the Senate voted 62-37 to give the near bankrupt agency an $11 billion cash infusion while delaying some changes the Postal Service asked for in its proposal.  That money will be used to keep the USPS out of bankruptcy and fund buyouts to 100,000 postal employees.

However, the USPS is not happy.  It wanted to close several post offices (3,700) and mail processing facilities (up to 252), which the USPS says would save $6.5 billion a year.  The USPS also wanted to do away with Saturday mail delivery.

The Postal Service’s board of governors says, “It is totally inappropriate in these economic times to keep unneeded facilities open. There is simply not enough mail in our system today.  It is also inappropriate to delay the implementation of five-day delivery.”

The Senate approved bill will only close 125 mail processing centers and it will allow more locations to keep overnight first-class mail delivery for at least three more years. It would also protect rural post offices for at least a year and forbid cuts to Saturday delivery for two years.

The issue now goes to the House.

Now, here’s my take on this matter.  I don’t want anyone to lose their jobs, especially in today’s economic climate.  However, I disagree with some of the Senate proposals and I agree with some of the proposals made by the USPS.

The Postal Service is becoming more and more obsolete.  While I know there are many, especially older people, that still send letters, mail their bills, and still write checks (that’s another pet peeve of mine — use a debit card!!), most people use their computers for these services and it’s much faster.

Now that I’m not sending out resume tapes, the only time I use the post office is to send an occasional birthday card and my Christmas cards.  I love sending Christmas cards and I usually send out around 140.

In the new plan proposed by the USPS, it wants to raise the price of a first-class postage stamp from 45 cents to 50 cents!  It says by doing that, it would generate $1 billion a year in new revenue!!

That’s a lot of new money.  However, I know that if the price of a stamp goes up to 50 cents, it will likely lose me as a customer sending out Christmas cards.  While I know that’s just $70 from little old me, I also know that the number of people sending out Christmas cards over the past few years is also declining.  And, the Christmas mailing season is usually a profitable period for the Postal Service.

And, finally, this is for the Senate.  STOP SATURDAY MAIL SERVICE NOW!

If I don’t get my “Entertainment Weekly” until Monday, I will survive.  If a business is losing money staying open longer hours, then maybe it should cut hours.  That’s why Saturday service needs to go and not wait two years for that to happen.

That’s my two cents.  Actually, I may need those pennies to pay for the first-class stamp increase when it happens.

I’ll leave you with this look at the price increase of first class stamps, on this date, over the past 50 years:  1962 (4 cents); 1972 (8 cents); 1982 (20 cents); 1992 (29 cents); 2002 (34 cents); 2012 (45 cents); ??? (50 cents)

Anthony

They Said What??? — President Obama, The Dali Lama, Sarah Silverman, & Stupid Politicians

TENNESSEE REPUBLICAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE JEREMY FAISON

“We can’t continue to legislate everything. We’ve had some horrible things happen in America and in our state, and there’s children that have actually committed suicide, but I will submit to you today that they did not commit suicide because of somebody bullying them. They committed suicide because they were not instilled the proper principles of where their self-esteem came from at home.”

HOUSE SMALL BUSINESS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN SCHARNHORST

(co-sponsoring Missouri’s legislation claims “Don’t Say Gay” is necessary):  “There is no need to talk about Billy wanting to marry a goat.”

CLEVELAND DJ DOMINIC DIETER

(to a listener who’s daughter is a lesbian):  “You should get one of your friends to screw your daughter straight.”

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH RON BROWN

“The question I have for you all is, like Pontius Pilate, what are you going to do with Jesus?  Ultimately, if you don’t have a relationship with him and you don’t really have a Bible-believing mentality, really, anything goes.  To be fired for my faith would be a greater honor than to be fired because we didn’t win enough games. I haven’t lost any sleep over it. I realize at some point, we live in a politically correct enough culture where that very well could happen.”

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

“Ending ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been the dog that didn’t bark.  You haven’t read a single story about problems in our military as a consequence of the ending of the policy. So whether it’s on that, or changing the AIDS travel ban, or hospital visitation rights, or a whole slew of regulations that have made sure that federal workers are treated fairly in the workplace, we’ve shown the commitment that I have to these issues. And we’re going to keep on working in very practical ways to make sure that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are treated as what they are — full-fledged members of the American family.”

OAKLAND A’S PITCHER BRANDON McCARTHY

(about the “Kiss Cam,” which often shows two men to spark laughter at the games):  “They put two guys on the ‘Kiss Cam’ tonight. What hilarity!! (by hilarity I mean offensive homophobia). Enough with this stupid trend.”

THE DALAI LAMA

“Really.  As a human being. Not as a president of America. Sometimes his policy may not be very, very successful. But as a person, as a human being, very nice person. I love him.” After he sort of start the Iraq sort of crisis then my other occasion meeting with him, then I expressed to him, ‘I love you, but your policies concerned, I have some reservations’ I told him.”

“CAPTAIN AMERICA” ACTOR CHRIS EVANS

(whose brother is gay to “Playboy” magazine):  “Are you kidding me? It’s insane that civil rights are being denied people in this day and age. It’s embarrassing, and it’s heartbreaking. It goes without saying that I’m completely in support of gay marriage. In 10 years we’ll be ashamed that this was an issue.”

COMEDIAN/ACTRESS SARAH SILVERMAN
“Gay marriage is something that Newark Mayor Cory Booker said it best: Some things are not meant to be a vote. Some things are a right. And if things like that were left for a vote, he said, I wouldn’t be where I am today — meaning anything that is civil rights,” Silverman tells THR. “Because people don’t always know what’s best. Their fears keep them from being open and being fair. And so that would just be not up for a vote. Gay marriage, legal, with a big fucking apology for the past few years.”
MITT ROMNEY
(in 1994):  “I believe that the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service for this country.  I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”
AMIDHAN, INDONESIA ULEMA COUNCIL LEADER
“I call on Lady Gaga to respect our cultural and traditional values. Most people here are Muslims and we cannot tolerate her revealing outfits and sexy performances.  It’s better for Lady Gaga to cancel her show in this country if she has no willingness to respect our demand. Please do not destroy our nation’s morality and ruin our dignity.”
Anthony

Long Distance Dedication Gone Bad!

“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

That’s a phrase I had instilled in me from the time I was a child until I went to college.  As much as my mother encouraged me to be all that I could be, I can’t give her credit for it.  That was the trademark phrase made popular by disc jockey Casey Kasem, who turned 80-years-old Friday.  Happy birthday, Casey.

While many may remember Kasem as the voice of Shaggy in the “Scooby-Doo” franchise, most of us know him from his weekly four-hour radio countdown, “American Top 40”.  That show debuted on radio stations across the U.S.A. and the world on July 4, 1970.

He expanded to television hosting the spin-off “America’s Top 10”, the weekly hour-long music video show that counted down the top 10 songs in America from 1980 to 1989 and again from 1991-1992.

Take a moment to reminisce about times gone by with this flashback to the 1980s with Casey Kasem’s silky smooth voice.  (However, you have to finish reading my story and listening to the second video — without kids around!)

That is the Casey Kasem that we all know and love.

However, production in television and radio doesn’t always go as produced.

And, when the same thing happens over and over and nothing gets done about it, then tempers can flare.  Yes, I admit that I’ve gotten agitated and told people the way it is and the way it should be.  Does it change anything?  Usually not!

Back in 1985, in the recording session for that week’s countdown, Casey Kasem had enough when a re-occurring problem popped up again.  And, let me warn you, it’s not pretty!!  Warning:  excessive use of adult language!!

Did Kasem go overboard?  Maybe a little.  However, working in the communications business that has a problem communicating, do I support this meltdown, damn right I do.  I guarantee that the problem didn’t happen anytime after this episode.

I would love to listen to Casey Kasem counting down the hits again today.  But, the current state of radio, in all genres, sucks, so it probably wouldn’t be that much fun.

However, I still try to live by Kasem’s signature close, “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

Peeps

Captured Lightning

What an impressive lightning show overnight!

As the lightning lit up the nighttime sky and the thunder rattled the house (Gretel slept through it), I thought of two things.  After several rounds of thunder and lightning, I finally got up to see if there were any severe thunderstorm warnings.  There weren’t.  So, finally, I grabbed my camera to see if I could catch a lightning streak.

I’ve never been able to, so I found a way around it.  Make a video and then capture images.  It worked perfectly.

The main thing I thought of during the thunderstorm, since I wasn’t working, is that Miss ABBA didn’t have to worry about them anymore.  For about the last ten of Miss ABBA’s almost twelve years, the mere sound of thunder or the flash of lightning would send the golden into a panic of shivering and shaking.

Now, she doesn’t have to deal about it.  And, as for me, now I can enjoy the light show when I’m not working.

Here is the shaky video I got toward the end of the storm overnight.

However, the captured images of the lightning over Moline are more impressive.

Anthony

Miss ABBA — I’ll Cherish This Piece of Art Forever

I am not an artist.  I can take pictures and I can color inside a line.  However, please don’t ask me to draw something because I’m horrible.  Art is not a strong suit for me.

The month of May marks three months since Miss ABBA went to puppy heaven and what would have been her 12th birthday.  I cherish those wonderful years and when I look at the pictures and when I think of her, a thousand times a day, I smile.

My friends have been great sending wonderful messages our way and thanks to Jewel and Vickie, I have two great pieces of art decorating the sun room walls with love, which was ABBA’s favorite room.

So, if today isn’t Miss ABBA’s birthday or the three-month mark of her trip to “puppy heaven”, then why am I talking so much about my special golden.

Since I’m not an artist, my friend, Kaye, knows someone who is a fantastic artist and took me to meet him.  His name is John Kautz.  Back in March, Kaye and I went out to lunch together and we stopped at O’Toole Design in Rock Island.  I showed John a few pictures of Miss ABBA and we made an appointment to have a piece of ABBA art work done on Friday, April 13th.

It would be the most personal piece of art that I would own and one that would go with me with everywhere and one that I would have until the day I die.

John sketched out the intricate details of Miss ABBA’s face from a picture last fall and once we decided that it captured the image of Miss ABBA that I would cherish forever, it was time to begin the painstaking art project.


I used the word painstaking because John was very precise with detail and color.  It wasn’t going to be a one-dimensional piece of art.  Many colors were used to bring out Miss ABBA’s soul and warmth.

Three-and-a-half painful hours later, through blood, but no sweat and tears, it was done.

Body art and getting inked isn’t for everyone.  It’s something that I considered back in Salisbury, Maryland, in 2005.  At that time, it was going to be a Reba tattoo, but the artist was not comfortable with it being so detailed and that’s all I need to hear.  I walked away.

However, I felt it was the time to reconsider because now I had a reason.  Miss ABBA, you’ll always be alive in my heart and memories and now I’ll carry your beautiful face with me forever.

John, thank you!

Anthony

“Peeps’ Flashback ’80s Fridays”‏

While it might be hard to believe, it’s Friday again.  Here are my three flashbacks to the 1980s to get the weekend started.  Enjoy!

Baltimora “Tarzan Boy”

In its home country of Italy, this new wave band, Baltimora, scored four hits, but only this one hit the top ten peaking at #6 there in 1985.  While it was a #1 hit on the Dutch charts and in France, it made it as high as #13 in the U.S.

It almost became a hit again in the U.S. in early 1993 when a remix peaked at #51.  This visit to the chart was helped by an appearance in a Listerine commercial.

The Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls”

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, better known as the Pet Shop Boys are still producing successful albums, just not in the U.S.  Their last studio album, “Yes”, in 2009, peaked at #32 here, but it reached the top ten in the U.K., Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

They scored the biggest hit of their career right out of the gate in 1984 with the #1 worldwide smash, “West End Girls”.

In the U.S., they hit the top ten four more times:  “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) (#10, 1985), “It’s A Sin” (#9, 1987), “What Have I Done to Deserve This? (with Dusty Springfield) (#2, 1987), and “Always on my Mind” (#4, 1987).

Janet Jackson  “What Have You Done For Me Lately”

Janet, or Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty, had a total of 24 top ten hits (10 of them topped the Hot 100) that started with this one back in 1986 from her “Control” album.  I remember my best friend, Steve, and I doing the opening montage almost every night before going out to the club.  “What’s up girl?  He stood me up again, again, um hum….”

And, it featured Paula Abdul before she became a pop princess and “American Idol” looney bird.

Anthony