Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Price Of Gas(es)

Between seeing "$3.12" per gallon of unleaded and seeing heating bills this past winter, it's obvious that "gas" of any kind is not cheap anymore. This, of course, despite record profits for the greedy friends-of-Bush in the oil industry.

So one of my employees had an idea this morning...from now on, every time he's in a public place, when he feels flatulence coming on, he's going to let it go...and then walk around the place and collect money for it. He figures if people are willing to pay $3.12 a gallon without complaint, and fork over hundreds of dollars every month to Ameren without complaint, they won't mind paying two bits or so for his gas, and they should do it without complaint.

Maddening Driving Habits, #254

Don't you just love it when you come up behind someone dutifully rolling along right at the speed limit ("good for them", you think, "but I gotta go"), and then speed up the moment you try to slip past them?

I just love that.

Then, when you get by and set your cruise at 63 or 64 (in a 55), the dude decides to tailgate you at that same speed.

I just love that.

Here's my message to the blue Ford dually this morning on Highway 78: If you don't have the guts to speed out there all by yourself, stop using me as a front door. I'm open about my intentions, expectations, and possible consequences...why don't you grow a pair and do the same?

I can't think of any more gutless driving behavior than the driver that will follow anybody going over the limit, but refuses to lead the pack. Wimps. You think you're smart, but you're really not. When my uncle patrolled the highways of Minnesota, he purposely picked up the second car in line whenever he came upon a group of speeders. He figured (rightly so) that the second guy was just using the first guy to do his dirty work.


So I get on I74 at Knoxville this morning, just like every morning, and I set the cruise at 45, just like every morning, and 231 cars pass me before I get to the new Sterling exit, just like every morning, and I don't see a patrol car the entire time, just like every morning.

After Sterling, I am still going 45, just like every morning, and in the one lane of traffic, I've got cars so close to me I can read the VIN numbers on THEIR car, just like every morning. As the end of the construction zone nears, 21 cars pull out to the right of me and accelerate before the 45 zone ends, just like every morning, with no patrol car in sight, just like every morning.

So what's the annoying part? The annoying part is that two miles WEST of the 74/474 interchange, there sits one of Illinois' finest, in the median, sideways, radar gun in hand, trying to catch people speeding...on the open, construction-free part of the highway.

Would somebody PLEASE get a clue over there in Metamora? If you're trying to get that end-of-month quota met so you can get the required income you're searching for, it's quite obvious to ANYONE WITH A BRAIN that the easy pickings at $375 per ticket are right there for you.

If you're trying to keep the roads SAFER (the standard line given), then again, there's no excuse because ANYONE WITH A BRAIN knows that someone going 55 within a few feet of an unprotected construction worker is more dangerous than someone going 75 on the open, straight road.

With the constant speeding in the construction zone, there is NO excuse to be patrolling a stretch of road four miles west of this area right now. NO excuse. None. Period.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

10 Fun Years

Some of you may know I've been the Public Address voice of the Peoria Rivermen ever since I arrived in town just before the 1996-97 season. Then-GM Greg Griffith hired me, since then Scott Schuetz, John Butler and Bart Rogers kept welcoming me back to do this fun gig 35-50 nights every winter.

I called Bart this week to tell him I would not be returning in 2006-2007. Time for somebody else to do it. With my new job in Kewanee, we both knew it would be difficult for me to do all the games, particularly the weeknight games. So I won't be doing it this year, and I will miss it.

It was great fun, and I thank Bruce Saurs, Anne Griffith, Tim Saurs, and all the afore-mentioned GM's for letting me have some fun and get to stand between the two penalty boxes for 10 years of pro hockey. The Rivermen joined the ECHL my first year here, and therefore I was the only P.A. voice they had in nine years of ECHL play. I'm very proud of that. I also greatly enjoyed the hockey in the AHL last year, Peoria's first year in that league.

One of the neatest things about the gig is all the talented young men I've befriended during this time. Dan Hodge, Trevor Baker, Jason Christie, Troy Riddle, Joe Rybar, Jason Lawmaster and Darren Clark...those are the guys I spent the most time with, but I got to know hundreds of athletes over these last ten years, and there are many, many, many more I've kept in touch with and shared laughs with over the years. And the many, many tall tales, jokes and talks I shared with the great Norm Ulrich will also not be forgotten. Norm, you are the funniest guy I know. Period.

And of course, the fans were always great...the ones who used to make me feel good by complimenting my work, the ones who playfully picked on me, the ones who didn't like me...I truly did enjoy seeing everybody over 10 years. Next year, if I'm at a game, I'll be in the stands with you all, and then I can finally yell at a ref. :)

Ain't It The Truth

Georgy Always Makes So Much Sense

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wow, I Almost Caused A Wreck

For the first time in many, many years, I almost had a car accident early this week. I have had a few close-calls (but no "near misses", nothing that serious) in the last decade, but they've all been caused by someone else (idiot running stop sign, idiot not using turn signal, idiot not paying attention to traffic around him, etc.) I have avoided accidents in these situations because, quite frankly, I pay attention whilst I drive, whether or not I'm on the phone or adjusting the radio or even reading a CD liner. I don't like accidents. They hurt. So I avoid them by paying attention and being a very good-to-excellent driver. I'm proud of that.

Well, Monday evening, I suddenly played the part of "idiot". As I was entering I-74 from Route 78, I got up to speed, quickly catching the lady who decided to enter the highway at a rousing 48 MPH ("Things More Dangerous Than Speeding, #321"), and immediately, without checking my blind spot, moved to the left. Just in time, I noticed out of my peripheral vision a small white sedan in the left lane. I whipped back into the right lane and mouthed an "I'm sorry, my bad" while patting my chest in apologetic fashion. The gentleman waved back and showed tremendous understanding. It was the one time someone could have and should have shot me the bird. Amazingly, he did not, leaving the bird-shooting to the idiots who screw up and then finger ME. But I digress.

So I got to thinking...what made me mess up like this, I NEVER forget to check my blind spot over my left shoulder when I make this did it happen?

I collected my thoughts: Nope, wasn't on the phone...there it sits in the console; nope, CD player isn't even ON, so it couldn't be that; not eating; not reading a map or newspaper or CD jacket; I don't smoke so it can't be that; seat belt is on so I can't say it was that; I wasn't drinking a soda or iced tea, don't have one at this time; I don't wear makeup or brush my teeth while driving...could it, could it, could it be? YES! I was DOING NOTHING!!!!

That's right, I wasn't doing anything. Not a thing. Just sitting behind the wheel spacing off. So could I then make the case that "doing nothing" causes a fall-off in concentration? "Doing nothing" caused me to daydream and not pay attention to my driving? Could I say that there wasn't enough external stimuli to keep me focused? Could I say that? Well, yes, I can say that!

So I am. I'm saying it. So now let's see the powers that be start a study on this, and maybe when they're taking my cell phone away they can also make a law that says "you can't just sit and DO NOTHING but drive. DOING NOTHING causes the distraction of DAYDREAMING, and is now illegal." I want to see that.

In other words, you want my cell phone? Kiss my daydreaming, non-distracted, almost-wreck causing rear.

Great Line From John Dean

While visiting with Jon Stewart last night, John Dean said, "I'm still very much a Goldwater Republican...which today makes me left of center apparently."

How true. I've got this little graph I draw for people that shows how the "Center" has been manipulated to the right BY the right in the last 30 years, and it's alternately sad, frightening and disgusting. Wise thinking people who would have been smack dab in the middle in a very prosperous America of the 50's and 60's are now portrayed as "the liberal left" daily, with idiots like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter perpetrating the ruse.

So the true centrists (yours truly would be one) are portrayed as "liberal", and the fringe right, small in numbers but loud in bullying tactics, makes that seem as if it's a dirty word. I know this drives GOP'ers nuts, but the best "Republican" president of the last 40 years (according to what the Republican platform is SUPPOSED to be, not the Bush platform) has been...Bill Clinton.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What A Joke

Anyone who's ever read this knows what I think about A.J. Pierzynski. But that doesn't make his All-Star selection any less of a joke. A.J. over Francisco Liriano? Puh-leeze. Seven White Sox and two Tigers? Whatever. Seven White Sox and two Twins? Um, no.

I say from now on the manager of the team with the WORST record in his respective league the previous season gets to manage the All-Star game. Ozzie is within his rights to do what he did, but he's rewarding a couple of guys for their performances LAST year.

The best first baseman in the AL right now is Justin Morneau, Minnesota. The best pitcher this side of Johan Santana (Minnesota) is Francisco Liriano (Minnesota). And if A.J. were still a Twin, he wouldn't even be the STARTER, thanks to Joe Mauer.


Wow, What A Difference 10 Years Makes

When I left Nevada in 1996, I left behind a state that was run by a Democratic governor (Bob Miller), and had both the state house and senate run by Democrats. They were trying to figure out the best way to spend their surplus...SURPLUS of state funds. The state was operating completely in the black. New, state of the art schools were being built yearly in Las Vegas, the Carson City High School was completely remodeled from 1994-1996, highways were among the nation's best, snow removal was second to none in the snowy winters of Northern Nevada, and all of this was done with NO STATE INCOME TAX on it's citizens.

Miller's unprecedented 10-year run ended in 1999. He had filled Richard Bryan's last two years after Bryan was elected to U.S. Senate, and he won the next two elections. And rightfully so. The state was absolutely booming, and he was successful at fighting off the feds who were trying to locate a nuclear waste dump inside Yucca Mountain, a mountain which just happens to sit on a major fault line. He was a hero.

In 1999, due to an influx of disgruntled right-wing Californians infiltrating the Nevada borders, the GOP took over the state house, the state senate, and the governorship (Kenny Guinn). Their first line of action? "We've got to lower these darn taxes, what's with this surplus, what's with all these unnecessary new schools?"

Their second agenda: Legislating morality. Trying to put clamps on casinos (publicly, while privately cutting deals with and lining the pockets of the high-rolling casino owners to keep the funds rolling in). Then, there was the assault on the legal brothels. Never mind that the state has less crime against prostitutes and less STD outbreaks than any of the other 49 states. Never mind that the "pros" are kept in restricted "houses" and the johns go to them, with their security cameras, bodyguards, doctor exams, and strict code enforcement. Never mind the windfall of tax monies brought in by making the brothels and their employees pay taxes on their earnings (something that obviously DOESN'T happen in Peoria or all of Illinois or any of the other 49 states). It's bad, because a bunch of christians say so, so it must go away.

Their third...and most dangerous...agenda: Working with the federal government to get all that nuclear waste inside an earthquake-prone mountain. The funniest thing, of course, was the state's leaders (and I use that term loosely) saying "we need the money that this effort will bring to the state). Idiots!!!!! You had all the money you needed WITHOUT this boondoggle before you starting giving tax breaks to the rich (sound familiar?).

Fortunately, the good people of Nevada, the LONGTIME Nevadans and those who have moved there with a brain, have successfully fought off the onslaught on "morality". The same, sadly, cannot be said for the state's coffers, and of course, Yucca Mountain.

By 2003, after a huge GOP tax break and promises of "more money in your pocket" (sound familiar?), this is what Gov. Guinn had to do:

Gov. Kenny Guinn called for nearly $1 billion in new taxes, saying it would be “political cowardice” for lawmakers to oppose the biggest tax hike in Nevada history. The tax plan covers what would be a $700-million-plus shortfall and allows for expansion of some services, mainly in education and human services programs.

Hilarious! A Republican calling it "political cowardice" if legislators OPPOSED a tax hike. Oh...My...Supreme Being.

Oh, the casinos? Guinn had helped them get out of paying many taxes on entertainment, food, rooms and everything else they had payed (while raking in then-record profits) in the 1990's. Corporate welfare, the GOP staple. Now, the casinos rake in even more money by paying less in taxes, but the citizens are being told that taxes must again go up (most of my family still lives there).

How in hell anyone in their right mind can say that today's GOP - at ANY level, local, state, or federal - knows how to handle an economy or budget is beyond me. Time after time after time after time the GOP style FAILS. It happened in Minnesota. It happened in the 80's in Iowa, when the GOP governor and the vastly overrated Ronald Reagan oversaw the foreclosing of thousands of family farms (replaced by big corporate ones, of course), and it happened in Nevada.

I want my government to focus on one thing: running the business of the city/state/country in represents. Not the morals. The BUSINESS. I'm certainly no economic genius, I just look at the simple facts. And the simple facts are...right there on the surface for anyone to see...that the Dems in states that I've lived in and in the Federal government...have a much better handle on money issues than the GOP. I thought growing up (because we were told over and over and over and over again) that the Dems were the "tax and spend big government" party. But EVERYTHING I've seen in those three state cases I mentioned and in our federal government points to the opposite. Can't people see that?

It's NOT Simply "Speed Related".

Yet another tragic loss in Tazewell County, and yet another report by law enforcement that it was a "speed related" accident. First, that's a copout (pardon the pun). For two vehicles to collide, at least one must be moving, therefore, traveling at a "speed"...2 MPH is technically a "speed". So, all accidents could be called "speed related".

But that's not the real story here. In the PJS account of the story on Tuesday, nothing was mentioned about the real cause of this latest fatality until the VERY LAST LINE of the story:

Potts said it is not official, but early indications are that Riley ran a stop sign before the fatal crash.

That makes it NOT a speed related accident, but a failure to obey a traffic control accident. And there are FAR MORE of those than there are "speed related" accidents. It's just more propoganda being spread to try and slow people down. How about we concentrate on stopping for stop signs and using turn signals instead?

Also, the story, like every other one like it, has the police quick to point out (they can't wait to spit it out) that the driver "was not wearing his seat belt..." at the time of the crash. I had an incident about five years ago in Bureau County, when the police called the radio station with a fatal accident report, in which the reporting officer never said "was not wearing a seat belt."

So at the end of the report, I asked, "did the driver have his seat belt on?"

(long pause) "Um, er, ah, well, actually, it's not mentioned here on the report."

"So in other words, the driver that died WAS wearing his seat belt?"

"I didn't say that."

"Well, you didn't say he WASN'T wearing his seat belt, right?"

"What are you getting at?"

"If he wasn't wearing his belt, you would have mentioned that to me, correct?"

"Yes, I certainly would have."

"So since you didn't say that, I can safely assume he WAS wearing his belt."

"Say what you want." (click)

Moral of the story: If you want to tell me about a lack of seat belt usage every opportunity you get, then you have to tell me when the driver DID have a seat belt on, too.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A.J. = Clutch

I was listening to WSCR on the way home from work Thursday night, as the Cubs-White Sox was the exclusive topic instead of boring football for a change.

The host was wondering if or how the "White Sox were going to get revenge" for Michael Barrett's cheap shot on A.J. Pierzynski this weekend at Overrated, er, Wrigley Field.

I was on hold waiting to get my .02 in when the caller in front of me said it for me: "I think the Sox will not stoop to the Cubs' level and they'll get their revenge by just thumping them on the scoreboard."

How sweet it was today, then, to see the Cubs within three outs of a win, and to have none other than A.J. wreck their day with a three run shot. I've said it before in this very blog, A.J. is about as clutch a hitter as there is, and the bottom line is he's a winner. As a Twins' fan, I miss him being on that team, (although they knew they had Joe Mauer coming, so A.J. was indeed tradeable...and that trade brought them ace closer Joe Nathan and this year's probable rookie of the year, Francisco Liriano) but as a White Sox fan, too, I enjoy seeing the kid play ball. All he cares about is winning. And he has a ring to prove it. The Cubs and their fans could learn something from A.J., instead of hating him.