Friday, April 21, 2006

Scott McClellan

He now joins George in a search for a new job.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gas Gouging

I don't think there is a motorist in America who doubts that gasoline companies are manipulating and overpricing the consumer. But one aspect of their design seems really curious to me. I am referring the the incremental increase of fuel prices from regular to premium to super premium. For about thirty years now, premium grade at the pumps has been priced at ten cents a gallon more than regular, and super premium at ten cents above that. Regardless of the cost of regular, it's always ten cents a grade up.

Obviously, this pattern has nothing to do with the cost of production and delivery of each grade. A few years ago, at $1.29, $1.39, $1.49 premium cost 8% to 16% more than regular. Now is costs about 3% to 7% more. Quite a saving for premium guzzling vehicles. But why? Premium, by its special ingredients and limited distribution should cost much more compared to regular, as it did in earlier days. But it doesn't because it doesn't suit the petroleum industry's marketing strategy. Forget about the rising price per barrel and refinery costs. Gasoline can be delivered at great profit to the oil companies and pumped into our cars at easily less than half the current pump prices. But, less face it, the oil and automotive industries own our souls. And they know it.

And now for my prediction. If I have noticed this revealing pricing discrepancy, you can be certain that others have also. Among those others are the oil barons. If any among them reads this blog, it is going to cast you premium gas buyers some big bucks. In order to protect their semblance of product value the major oil companies will have to change their pricing policy. My prediction is that you will soon see gas station signs showing a greater gap between regular and premium prices. Premium pumpers will be required to pay a bigger share of our gas cost. And we regular pumpers will get a little ease from the next round of gas gouging.

Cruise in for a Bruisin'

This is no business of mine, but hey, It's my blog.

What I don't understand is all this Tom Cruise bashing. I've never met the man, but I know some folks who have worked with him and who have never said nothing but good about him. But now he seems to have to defend himself constantly against both exuberant displays of heterosexual enthusiasm or clandestine acts of homosexual behavior. And added to that, he supposedly got a segment of South Park lampooning him restricted from cablecast.

Of course, I restricted South Park from my TV several years. It was just too unfunny and smug and self-congratulatory for my personal taste and amusement. Which leads me to the conclusion that the South Park creators, and their passionate fans are still in that state of infantilism that is amused by smearing caca around their nursery walls. Golly gee, isn't dirty gossip fun! And in the guise of satire it doesn't have to be true. And even if it were----duh?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sydney near the end

Sydney killed himself by running into a moving car wheel one night in 1970. He had been out carousing as usual, but must have gotten caught in a new transition lane feeding onto a newly swift-flowing Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica.

The next time I went to our coffee spot, without Sydney, an artist named Otho made this drawing on an envelope. He offered it to me as a commemoration of a colorful and popular local character, but with a little hesitancy, hoping I wouldn't be offended by his depiction of Sydney's moth-eaten appearance.

How could I be offended? It was a perfect blending of art and reality. And a treasured remembrance of a dear friend.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sydney Duck

Sydney Duck was the same breed and looked, at his best, like Toto. But his hot little body gave him a dry, itchy skin which made him gnaw at fleas and his fur. As a result he generally looked pretty scruffy.

Nevertheless, I loved Sydney, but he didn't love me. He had loved one person in his life, Julie, for whom he was a Christmas present in 1961. But then we got married; and Julie got pregnant. And Sydney's feeling changed against her and he never loved a person again.

His problem came to a head one evening when Julie was about six or seven months pregnant. Arriving home after a dinner out, Julie made a considerate move toward Sydney. He snapped back at her and ran down the hill toward Sunset Blvd. He ran across the street against the light and was whacked by a car bumper and knocked to the street. He got quickly back on his feet and churned his short legs racing down Larrabee.

I jumped back into the car and headed after him. I couldn't catch up with him, but persons I asked along the way said they saw the little fellow racing west toward Beverly Hills. Cars were stopping, I was told, with persons jumping out and giving chase, but Sydney wasn't a dog to be caught on the run. I finally gave up.

I returned home to a distraught julie and we spent the next couple of days waiting by the phone for a call from from a finder of Sydney and his dog tags. But no calls and no Sydney. Finally I talked Julie into leaving the apartment for some coffee and fresh air on Pupi's patio, a bakery/coffee shop where I hung out in those days and usually let Sydney come with me. We pulled up at the curb and as we got out of the car, Sydney stood up beside the tree where he usually waited while I had my coffee.

His fur was matted and dirty and his belly was a bit raw from the slamming to the street. Julie was ecstatic, but Sydney was slow and restrained in our reunion. No tail wagging or licking or delight shown at seeing us. Sydney had written off Julie and her unborn child and was my dog from that day on. Not that he transferred any affection from Julie to me. He just became my pal.

I have to admit I like that in a dog. It may be the reason I loved the little guy so much. I have a pretty good affinity for dogs; I like them in general and they seem to be comfortable with me. But I relate to independance and canine self-sufficiency and have not been able to successfully partner with one since Sydney. One thing I have a problem with is the leash law. I never put Sydney on a leash. I know it's the right thing to do in the city, that's why I have the problem. It's right, but I hate it.

We are planning a move to a single family house with a yard. Maybe I can work it out. Or maybe I'll move to the country.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Credit Sequence

The dependably best part of the Sopranos Show is the opening credits crawl. The music really moves and the traveling shots of New Jersey really make you want to go there--not.

Except the great shot of the Pig. That pork roast on the hoof really makes my mouth water.

It's all downhill after that.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Harm's way

My old friend and Julie's brother-in-law Postie died last night. He was in his mid-80's so--enough is enough.

Postie served under General Douglas Macarthur in WWII, but it always made it clear that his primary military objective was to stay out of harm's way. He succeeded in that regard pretty well and returned to the USA in good condition.

He married his childhood sweetheart and went to work as an investment analyst for the Standard Oil Company. Eventually, having still kept well out of harm's way, Postie was offered and took and early retirement package.

Though he and his bride, Jinny, never had children of their own, they lavished love and attention on their extended family of friends and relatives. Postie was quite a charmer and was loved by all.

Age and infirmities forced them into the medical housing unit of their retirement home in fairfield, California. Crippled by arthritis, Jinny was bed and wheelchair bound. Postie could get about a bit, but aging was slowing his walk and his mental focus.

But he loved company. He was a wonderful host and loved it when he made you happy. The time before the last I saw him, he got up and performed an awkward dance in a facility social room. I admit I felt a little embarrassed at his shambling performance before his fellow residents.

The last time I saw Postie, he slumped in a chair in that same room. His deafness kept him from hearing our conversation and his fogging mind kept him from caring. I wished he could dance again.

I did my scheduled swim this morning. But without the goggles, there would have been tears on the pool.

Postie was probably the most persistently nice and conventionally decent man I have ever known. Charm like his can only be missed, no matter how inevitable its passing must be.

When the fatal conditions suddenly developed, the final decision to move on was his. So he opted to move gracefully and charmingly out of harm's way.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Mobile Phony

This old dog could care less about new tricks; new toys, however, that's something else again.

It was time to migrate our old service with AT&T to Cingular and I waited until I found a deal on a pair of good phones. I had my mind on the Sony-Ericson Z520a and sure enough, Cingular had a one-day, Sunday, online deal for the phones, activation, delivery and all for free.

Fair enough. Of course, the first two phones delivered had activation and screen flaws, but Cingular quickly replaced them with good instruments.

Okay, so many of you out there in cyberspace are already handy and happy with your camera phones, voice dialing, photo and name caller ID, and email as well as calendar and task reminders sent to your phones, but I am having a lot of fun setting my features up and playing with them. Nothing I do with my phone is in any way essential in my life, except as entertaining playtime. But I am already excited in expectation of what the next generation will bring.

I am ready for your phone call, Mr. DeMille.

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