Sunday, November 02, 2008


Five Hours Well Spent!

Today, I spent five hours waiting in line. I think the last time I came close to that much time in line was in college when I spent the better part of a morning waiting outside the stadium to get tickets to the Florida-Georgia game. This was for something more important (maybe not by much!), as I was at the library for the early voting.

If you are imagining an impatient, tired, dehydrated crowd of edgy people...well, you couldn't be more wrong. I think everyone knew before they left home that this would be a long affair, as the news had reported that on Saturday people waited four hours or more, and that Sunday the wait was expected to be even longer. When I arrived, I couldn't help but count how many people were in line. I can't give an exact number because I started at the door, and not everyone in line was there to vote -- there were children (who I obviously didn't count), but also teenagers who might or might not have been old enough to vote, people who had come to keep their friends and family company, and probably people who had come to give rides to other people. But excluding the obviously-too-young and the people in the lobby, I counted about 670 people ahead of me.

When I arrived at about 11:30, I was well prepared. I had my stool/toolbox to sit on and carry my belongings, a book, and some snacks, and a bottle of soda. I also stopped at KFC and picked up a box of chicken strips so I could eat lunch. It turned out that the folks running the show were prepared, too. There were volunteers handing out bottled water (for free!), people asked if anyone needed to use the restroom (I think they were escorting us to make sure nobody thought we were jumping the line and killed us), and they used blue tape to mark off the limits of where people could hand out campaign materials. Some of the pollworkers also used the long lines as an opportunity to explain how to use the new voting machines. Since the touchscreens are now banned in Florida, we now have "bubble ballots," much like the computerized tests we took in school, and they wanted to be sure everyone knew how to completely fill in the bubbles.

The folks in line were sociable and prepared, too -- probably about a third had brought something to sit on, some had reading material, and someone a few spots up had brought a boombox, so we had music. It would not have taken much more to create the atmosphere of a tailgate party.

The elections office now thinks that the lines won't be so bad on Tuesday, since so many people have voted early. Also, the early voting wasn't conducted at all regular polling locations, so the people who came early were concentrated into fewer locations.

Overall, it seemed well-managed -- sort of a self-endorsement for the Supervisor of Elections, who is also up for re-election. The biggest issue I've seen in Broward County to date is something that the SoE can't control. Seems that someone was making robocalls claiming to be from the Elections Office telling people that because of the heavy turnout, they could vote on Wednesday. Sneaky bastards....


Thursday, July 10, 2008


Elitism on the Highway

There's a change-a-comin' on I-95 in South Florida. Those carpool lanes, a.k.a. HOV lanes, are being replaced, sort of. Used to be, anyone could use them, provided you had at least two people in the car. But now...anyone can use the inside two lanes -- this is, if you're willing to pay for the privilege.

It's called 95 Express, and the first stage will run northbound from downtown Miami to the Golden Glades. The charge is per mile, and will vary from 3 cents to 1 dollar. That means a total of anywhere from 25ยข to $9.00. The DOT says it's not taking away the HOV lanes, but rather "adding to a system that already exists."

Well, if you're a yuppy lawyer who can afford to spend an extra $18.00 so you can get from your Biscayne Boulevard office to your home in Sea Ranch Lakes, it's a great add-on. But for the average schmuck struggling to cope with $4.00-a-gallon gas, it means you're stuck with the masses in the other four lanes. It's actually worse than before, because where there used to be five "regular" lanes, there are now only four. And many people who paired up for carpools are left out because while carpools can register to use the Express Lanes for free, it now takes three people to qualify.

Eventually, the system will run both ways from I-395 to Fort Lauderdale, making life easier for even more folks -- folks with the money to pay for it, that is. Remember, this is an Interstate Highway. More on how the IHS is being abused in my next post....


Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Torture at the bakery

Last week I saw part of a George Carlin special in which he described ways to torment people in retail. I had an idea of my own. (NOTE: Since I work in retail, I do not condone this sort of thing, but, still....)

Call up a bakery, or the bakery department of a grocery store. Tell them you need a customized cake for a convention. Tell them to make it in the shape of a cloud. And mention that it's for a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

If you feel a bit more ambitious, go to the bakery a few days later to inspect the cake. Be sure to ask for the person who designed it. Inspect it really closely, making sure to occasionally look at the cake decorator and make remarks such as, "very interesting" and "I see." As you pay for the cake and leave, be sure to let them know you'll be in touch again really soon.


Monday, July 07, 2008



I've been really bad about posting, so I'm going to try to post a random observation at least every other day. Since we lost George Carlin, I figure we all need to take up the slack....

Today I noticed that on the front cover of The Star, it says that Judgment Day will be on 9/11/08. If that's really true, why did they bother with the rest of the paper?


Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Bo No More

This morning I read the sad news that Bo Diddley had died on Monday. Bo was 79 and had been in poor health for the past year, and relatives said that his death was not unexpected. I'm lucky to be able to say I saw him play at a club on Clematis Street in the late 1980s.

Bo was a key figure -- possibly second only to Chuck Berry -- in the transition from blues to rock. He may or may not have invented the Bo Diddley beat, but he surely popularized it. Since the song "Bo Diddley" was released in 1958, there probably hasn't been a single year in which there wasn't at least one hit song that borrowed from it. Lest anyone doubt Bo's influence, visit his entry at
Wikipedia and look at the list of cover versions and tributes. It's almost as long as the rest of the article.

His famous rectangular Gretsch guitar is surely suitable for the Smithsonian.

Diddley himself once said, "I opened the door for a lot of people, and they all just ran through and left me holding the knob." Surely he's right.

One other interesting note about Bo: In 1955, he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, but was banned after playing his eponymous song rather than Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons," which Sullivan had told him to play. Thus, he is in a group with Jackie Mason and The Doors.


Saturday, May 17, 2008


Some Lead, Others Follow....

As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I am a big fan of the Mustang. Of the seven cars I have owned over the years, four have been some form of Mustang. (This includes my Mercury Capri, which was essentially a Mustang with a Mercury nameplate.)

So it should not be surprising that I have a certain disdain for the Chevy Camaro, which GM originally produced to compete with the Mustang. When Chevy announced a few years ago that they were discontinuing the Camaro, along with the Pontiac Firebird, my first reaction was, "We win!"

At the time, GM said that they planned to bring the Camaro back in a few years, and last year I heard that the new version would be out for the 2009 model year. So today I searched for some pictures of the reborn Camaro. Bottom line: I wasn't bowled over. Essentially, Chevrolet has taken one of the classic versions of the Camaro ('69) and updated it a bit. Sound familiar? Yep, that's what Ford did with the Mustang -- updating the 1971 pony car that was made famous by Steve McQueen in the movie Bullitt. The big differences here are:
  1. The Mustang did it first.
  2. No Steve McQueen (or anything even remotely equivalent) for the Camaro
  3. I ain't a Mustang.

I could also add the absence of Carroll Shelby, who returned to Ford a few years back. But Automobile magazine delivered an unintentional, yet truly backhanded compliment that also smacked DaimlerChrysler's entry in the retro muscle car market:

"Just to prove that German automakers aren't the only ones who plan products based on what their rivals have done, GM comes out with the Camaro--a retro-styled, two-door coupe with a honking big V-8 that harks back to the glory days of Motown. If that sounds familiar, that's exactly what Ford did with the Mustang. Hot on the heels of the Pony car's success, DaimlerChrysler has dusted off the Challenger and Chevy has produced a new Camaro, a nameplate that was more recently interred."

Ford, usually for the better and occasionally for the worse, has never done anything with the Mustang based on what its rivals have done. The Mustang was the original pony car, and when design changes were reactive, they were based on general changes in the market or what Mustang enthusiasts wanted (oops, demanded), not what the competition did. (I also have to wonder how that "honking big V-8 is going to fare in a market dealing the $4 per gallon gasoline -- I do intend to eventually get another Mustang, but I will pass on the GT version.)

Thus does the original remain the original 44 years later.


Sunday, May 11, 2008


Now here's a candidate with a REAL problem....

OK, so you thought Obama had a problem with his pastor? McCain has a problem because the moderates in has party think he's gotten too cozy with the Religious Right and the conservatives don't trust him? Hillary has a problem because...well, because she's Hillary? Now here is a guy running for office who truly has a problem. And the bigger problem may actually be that he doesn't think there is a problem, since he's actually still considering running.


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