Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Things I Wonder About

Hi All!

I suppose that, like playing Trivia and chatting up new pals I wonder about ridiculous things and try to get to the bottom of them.

Case in point. Wyler's bouillon comes in both individually foil-wrapped cubes and as granules to be spooned out. How come? Seems like the cubes should cost more to produce as they most be molded and wrapped, yet it tastes the same as the granules. In fact the granules give one more flexibility and the cubes tend not to completely dissolve when they get a bit old.

So I wrote Wyler's and they were kind enough to illuminate me -- and now, you!

October 30, 2006

Dear Paul,

Thank you for contacting us.

You are correct . . . there is no discernable difference between Wyler's Granules and Wyler's Cubes, except for the size/packaging.

We've found through marketing research, that while a significant number of our consumers prefer Granules, just as many would rather use the Cubes.

While we don't have any definitive explanation as to why, we are aware that many people use Wyler's Bouillon as a drink, and the cubes are an easier way to transfer the product in a smaller quantity.

Thanks again for your interest. Should you need further assistance, please feel free to contact us.

Heinz Consumer Resource Center

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Who Says We Don't Have Enough Law Enforcement?

Hi All!

Can't prove it by me or my family.

We must be the Barkers of Falcon Heights.

It seems like no one in our family can step on a sidewalk crack without getting busted.

The latest absurdity happened to my oldest, who started at the UofM and moved out of the house.

I let him use our cute Honda scooter to get around campus.

This thing can push 30 mph on a steep hill with a strong tailwind, but normally 20-25 is all you're gonna get. Awesome gas mileage and very practical however.

So Alex gets' nailed by a Minneapolis Park Ranger for failing to wear protective eye gear, ie, sunglasses. In the course of the stop, Alex was asked for proof of insurance, which I have, but did not think to put the certificate in the storage area under the seat.

He was given a form to fill out to prove proof of insurance and here is where he effed up. He didn't think the ranger was a "real cop" and tossed the sheet of paper.

Today comes the official notice of driver's license revocation for the offense.

After 30-days, a written driver's test and about $100 in fines and fees, Alex will be able to drive again, but of course the violation gets added to his record, which already has a good start to it.

Ah well, the bankruptcy will make the scooter go away, so it won't get any of us in any more trouble.

Sure is reassuring to know how well our law enforcement system is doing to keep us safe from dread scooter riders without proof of insurance or eye protection. Let's throw 'em so more money once that miser Pawlenty gets the boot in 10 days.

I can't say "Cheers." And I won't say what I WANT to say. Effing Effers..... I believe I'll go out back and have a few tokes, just to show 'em.

Doggone Depressed

Hi All!

Ollie expresses the way I have been feeling lately.


Friday, October 27, 2006

More Good News

Hi All!

Every year the Tax Foundation publishes its “State Business Tax Climate Index,” which, according to foundation, “ranks how ‘business friendly’ the 50 state tax systems are, providing a roadmap for state lawmakers concerned with keeping their states tax competitive. . . . Keeping a state competitive in today’s global market can be difficult, but there is one factor lawmakers have direct control over: the quality of state tax systems. The index measures how well a state’s tax system encourages investment by maintaining a broad tax base and low rates.” Below are the 10 states that came in at the bottom of the Tax Foundation’s FY 2007 index, along with their FY 2006 ranking.

And to think that we have had a Republican House and Governor! What will happen when the DFL inmates take over the asylum? The march to #1, I guess.

10. Minnesota
FY 2006 Rank: 12

9. Maine
FY 2006 Rank: 8

8. Iowa
FY 2006 Rank: 7

7. Nebraska
FY 2006 Rank: 6

6. California
FY 2006 Rank: 9

5. Vermont
FY 2006 Rank: 5

4. New York
FY 2006 Rank: 2

3. New Jersey
FY 2006 Rank: 3

2. Ohio
FY 2006 Rank: 4

1. Rhode Island
FY 2006 Rank: 1


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Partition Iraq

Hi All!

I can't understand why this promising idea isn't getting more attention. Present Iraq is lines drawn on a map by the Brits without any regard about the types of people they were throwing together. Read this EXCELLENT history.

The Kurds apparently have defacto seceded from Iraq and is trying to govern itself. The Sunni and Shiite regions should also be separated to try to keep them away from each others' throats.

Apparently one of the problems with partition is how to deal with the oil wealth, which might end up primarily in one of the new states.

I am already getting out of my depth. I'll link to deeper thoughts on this - this is a good one. The idea just seems to make so much sense.



Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Blurry Lyrical Interlude

Hi All!

Ya gotta hear the song with the earsplitting power chords and pile-driving drumwork and I should figure out a way to link it, but here are some lyrics by Damon Albarn of the great Britpop band, Blur, stripped naked.

Once again, the way I feel today was expressed better and more succinctly than I ever could, and of course the hearing of the song was synchronicitious.

No matter how low
There's always further to go
When you're movin' on, you're movin' on
No matter how low
There's always somewhere to go
Movin on, we're movin' on
Won't be long before we're gone
Hey, this is the music
Movin' on, we're movin' on
Yeah, this is the music
Movin' on, we're movin' on
No matter how low
Theres always further to go
Movin' on, you're movin' on
No matter how low
There's always further to go

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dunning, Political and Spy Calls and the Pregnant Pause

Hi All!

What with the letting the credit cards ride and the upcoming election, our phone has been ringing with annoying frequency.

One by one I am getting the credit card people off my back now that "The Process" has begun.

The dunning calls are usually easy to detect with caller indentification. When I answer once in awhile, just for a giggle, there is never a person on the other end of the line right away, just a pregnant pause, during which I hang up. Best yet, these automated bill collectors don't leave messages, usually.

The political ones are a bit tricker to avoid. If you don't answer, you will get a recording shoved down your answering machine's throat. Both parties are equal opportunity harassers. They make my blood boil.

Worst of all are the calls from a certain number that NEVER has anyone on the other end when in all your Midwesterner earnestness and ignorance pick up and say hello. Just cuts you off.

Googled the number and it is an outfit in Colorado that simply collects data on when people are home, therefore more likely to answer phone solicitaions. Apparently being on the national "NCL" *No Call List" doesn't effect them.

The internet sleuths have tracked them down to their address in Boulder. Sure wish I could afford a ski vacation -- I'd have to stop by and give them a piece of my mind.

Easier, I found out I can block certain numbers with my Comcast service -- duh. Take that, you bastards!


PS. Completed this post and went to stir the Hamburger Helper when the phone rang. This time it was DirectTV which wants to give me a free gift for being such a great customer if only I call back within two weeks. Thing is, we dropped it a month ago as we started to shed financial ballast. Wonder if they can fix that cut cable? The dish is still gracing the skyline over our home.

AFSCME Has Some Explaining to Do

Hi All!

Of all the political attack tripe that has been raining like cats and dogs, an AFSCME flyer that hit the mailbox today (Laura is a card-carrying, reluctant "member") is a particularly strange one.

It asserts that a vote for Mark Kennedy is a vote for George Bush. Well, that ain't true is it? We don't get to vote for GW any more.

Now, one could say that a vote for Kennedy's ultra-left opponent is a vote for ethics-challenged Harry Reid whom she would vote for as Senate Majority Leader.

The ominous flyer concludes with the admonishment: "DON'T BE FOOLED. A Vote for Mark Kennedy is a Vote for George Bush.

Horse hockey.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

10 Reasons for Optimism

Hi All!

Blogs generally read bottom to top, which is unfortunate, as it is counter-intuitive to go back down to the place you left off reading yesterday and scroll up to the latest.

I've been doing some downer posts, but to me, everything I put down is therapeutic.

Watched my new Iggy DVD and was floored by his intro. I had to play/pause it until I could write it down and put it up on the old Wogsblog.

I love it when art speaks to me. It makes me feel less alone.

So here are a few things off the top of my head that I am feeling good about just now, in no particular order of importance:

I can start referring my aggressively dunning creditors to my lawyer, Jack Prescott. Perhaps we can stop ignoring the constantly ringing phone. Perhaps it will stop ringing constantly.

I made the effort to meet with every one of my Cretin-Derham kids' teachers on conference day and heard nothing but enthusiastic praise for Drew and Catie. A's don't mean as much nowadays but it's nice to know that they are pulling them. More importantly it is nice to hear that they are assets to their classrooms and to hear genuine enthusiastic praise from their instructors.

In a previous post I noted how cheap Cheapo was and how a complaint to management put things right. Today I traded 3 very inferior and ill-chosen discs for two utterly fantastic ones: "Gorillaz' Demon Days Live 2005" and "Iggy A to B."

The drum kit has sat idle for awhile, but tonight I gave it a good pounding and it sounded not too awful and felt very good. Bang bang. Thump thump. Crash crash.

I felt somewhat healthy today. I wish I could figure out the pattern, but there isn't any. It doesn't seem to matter what I eat or drink, how much sleep I get, whether I take or forget my meds or how down or up I am emotionally. Some days I can barely crawl without pain and fatigue, some days I can expend a lot of energy (relatively speaking). Last week I played 6 long holes of golf at Midland Hills with Alex and only darkness cut things short. Next day I had no pain other than the usual.

I played a few tight tilts of Trivia with some good player friends I have come to know through the "sport." "Fox" presented me with a certificate good for a night's lodging at a suites-type hotel nearby. I booked the family a night sharing 2 suites with kingsized beds and all the amenities. Livin' large from check-in to check-out this weekend.

Maybe November 7 won't be as bad as I fear. Since childhood I have forever been the pessimist, theorizing that the worst I can be is right and the best I can be is wrong. Both ways, I win.

I've got Stan and Ollie and a warm bed, to which I shall retire presently.


Could be Me

Hi All!

"It was in the winter of my 50th year when it hit me.

I was really alone, and there wasn't a hell of a lot of time left.

Every laugh and touch that I could get became more important.

Strangely, I became more bookish and my home and study meant more to me, as I considered the circumstances of my death.

I wanted to find a balance between joy and dignity on my way out.

Above all, I didn't want to take any more shit.

Not from anybody."

Iggy Pop, 1999.

Now 59 and still hard rock'n

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm Free (?)

Hi All!

It's funny how often a song that comes on the radio will coincide with a day's event.

This morning as I left the final meeting with my "It's all we do and we do it well" lawyer in preparation for filing Chapter 7, KQ played "I'm Free' by the Who. "I'm free, and freedom tastes of reality."

I have been ignoring my financial reality (among other realities) for years. I was brought up to be a responsible member of society and paying one's debts is a key component of that. So for years I kept refinancing the rising equity in the house to pay off the credit cards.

Push came to shove this summer when I was turned down twice for new loans. Even though I had managed to keep the credit score in the mid 700's (excellent) the income test could simply not be passed to qualify for any additional home equity borrowing. My hand was forced.

It turns out that I would have been a lot smarter to file last year before the stricter laws went into effect, but if the new laws weed out the scammers and cheaters I don't mind jumping through the extra hoops, because my bankruptcy is the real deal -- what Chapter 7 is truly for.

I have not been a profligate spender. Even when I had money I always shopped for "deals" -- it's just my thrifty nature. I didn't run up the credit card debt by loading up on unnecessary luxuries. I was simply trying to keep all the balls juggling in the air. Now they've dropped to the floor.

I am certainly not out of the woods yet. Chapter 7 is just beginning and we have a couple of months of hell ahead as the process grinds ahead and we get the anal probes from the advocates for the poor credit card companies.

Our budget will be pretty much hand-to-mouth from now on with no margin of error. At least for now, I am feeling somewhat cautiously relieved.

If the filing goes badly, I guess I have to blame those evil Republicans that got the laws changed.



Sunday, October 15, 2006

Republicans: Defiled and Despised and Out

Hi All!

I found a neat place with breakfast down Randolph/West Seventh way after Mass today. Little neighborhood bar with 10 big HDTVs and Buzztime Trivia!

While enjoying my cheap eggs benedict, the TVs were constantly providing political advertising, which stimulated a lot of discussion amongst the couple of dozen guys around the bar (only female present was the barkeep/waitress).

I usually try to avoid bringing up politics with strangers -- I'm actually shy about it. As I eavesdropped on the patrons it occured to me why.

This is not a good time to be a Republican.

It made me go back over the past few years and think about all the political conversations I've overheard here and there. Almost unanimously, there is ill will toward conservatives in general and Republicans in particular.

Even most of my family and friends are dead set agin' us.

Partly it's the old simple-minded attitude of bitching about whoever is in power...but this time the veins are sticking out from the necks, the torches are lit and the pitchforks are out.

The Republicans are going down. Way down.

To think that power-crazed venal assholes like Mike Hatch will be taking over the reins!

It makes me want to cry, as I am sure I will never experience a conservative majority in govenment for the rest of my life, even if I survive long enough for a liver transplant. In fact, I am teary as I type this.

Ah well, life's unfair.

I had my chance in life and I blew it. We Republicans had our chance in power and we blew it.

My sainted Cretin HS history teacher, Prof Tierney had it right--about a lot of things, like the real reasons for all wars (money and/or religion); like "Don't believe ANYTHING you read in the newspapers"; like "When you grow up the commies will be more like us and we will be more like the commies", his point being that the world was headed for a sort of socialist middle ground.

He also predicted the fall of the Berlin wall as it fit his theory of the repressed East wanting capitalist goodies and the overfed West wanting socialist goodies.

He said this in 1972.

As is my wont, I will seek the sunny side of what most of me feels is a pre-ordained disaster in November and beyond. Being bankrupt and dying, me and my wife and kids will have a much more socialist government to take care of us.

Please, God, prove me wrong!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sorry for the Lapse in Posts

Hi All!

I've been feeling quite a bit less than perky for the last several days and when I thus ail I get the blahs and don't feel like doing much of anything, including writing.

Having dragged myself out to two stultifyingly dull political debates didn't even inspire comment.

I also spent an entire day wrestling with paperwork and jumping through hoops to try to get Alex' college loans squared away. For some reason the financial aid application we submitted concluded that he didn't need much help so he only got about $3000 in grants and we had to make up the rest of the $19000 in tuition and board in market rate adjustable loans. Really depressing to start thinking that there is no way we are gonna afford to send him for 4 years.

When I feel better I am going to try to contact a consultant at the U who explain why we had to take out loans roughly equal to 3/4 of our household income. Doesn't seem right, especially when I have anecdotally heard of better-off families getting a lot more in aid.

Another day was spent gathering the necessary paperwork and information for our impending bankruptcy filing. Took care of one big piece of business, selling our third car as they are only going to let us keep two.

Now there isn't much left for the bankruptcy judge to take.

Cheery news, eh?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Smart Move but Feeling Stupid

Hi All!

I have come to realize that I really don't need to spend several hours a day spending money on food and beverages while obsessing on Trivia (I capitalize it to distinguish the satellite-based nation-wide "Buzztime" service that one plays with a wireless gameboard and compete with not only the other players at the venue but all the players in the country).

I stayed home and got some needed work done. Smart, nicht?

What made me feel stupid was trying to fathom my oldest's UofM financial situation. I have spent many hours filling out forms for financial aid and there are more hoops than at a Whamo convention.

It started out deceptively simple. You do an online government form called FAFSA, which makes a 1040 seem like idiot's play. After it keeps kicking back your application until you have the t's crossed and i's dotted they forward send it to the college and the college tells you what they can do for you as far as financial aid.

Then the fun begins.

More soon.... Drew needs the computer...and I need to dash to a nearby Trivia venue for a fix.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Wog Catches a Breather

Hi All!

At the end of Day Two of "Why Me, Lord", a day of big topsies and huge turvies, the last turvy sent me ass over tip bonkers.

A decent night's sleep did little to quell the agitation of Saturday's slings and arrows.

A GREAT St. Agnes sermon (Adam's Rib Sunday) and my favorite Eggs (Pope) Benedict at the Backstreet Grille brought me down from the upper stratosphere. Got home at 10, literally passed out from mental and physical fatique and enjoyed a great fall afternoon, albeit cold and a bit rainy.

But Saturday was truly a Topsy Turvy day.

Topsy: Finally ridding myself of some ancient computer gear -- tens of thousands of dollars worth when new, now no better than scrap, and having the weird synchronicity of the gear-related memories bringing to mind fond memories of an old client from hell cum client from heaven and great friend ring me up later in the morning after many years, having thought of ME when shopping for a new color copier. We talked for over an hour. Made my day -- or so I naively thought.

Turvy: Minor issues like getting new tires on the car due to one which blew out on my wife's way to Duluth on Friday ($85 for getting the tire changed to the temporal spare, including an amusing $1 "after hours administrative fee) and getting the lawn mowed at a lower setting in preparation for winter was a nice little lull.

Topsy: Put the Trooper out on the Owner to Owner Car Mart lot and hung at a nearby Buzztime-equipped establishment kicking serious Trivia butt and cheering on the Tigers while waiting for a buyer to call my cell. Viola! Caller called, car sold. Too cheap, but a needed wad of hundreds found its way into my moth-infested wallet.

Turvey: Health was bad all day -- nearly passed out a few times from ammonia buildup which is one of the many nagging symptoms of liver failure. Feet and ankles suddenly swelled up with fluid as well and walking became torture. But I'm used to it. Good days and bad as far as that's concerned. When the liver finally decides to quit, things will go fast. I am ever mindful of that fact as I try to suck the quality out of each waking moment. I am ever mindful of my Doctor's yearly prediction that I won't see Christmas. Thank God and Science for the miracle drugs that reliably catch me when I feel myself falling.

Turvey: Had to be a firm parent and put my foot down with my 16-year-old clone. Details best spared.

Triple Turvey: Having Twin Cities Public Television bump Ray Davies from it's schedule at the last minute. The tape was rolling, the HDTV was all hooked up properly and making even an old Monty Python rerun look amazing. My troubles were behind. Time to relax and purely enjoy. Out comes the rug. The Alice Cooper concert DVD assuaged eventually, 'tho I had to play it quietly so as not to suffer fists and feet pounding overhead in protest of the late-night cacaphony.

Well, the clock said "Time for Mass" as I wrote those topsy turvy paragraphs. The Purple managed to win, even though I picked Detroit. I had a nice visit with my parents and had a blast playing Trivia with old and new playing buddies at Jimmy's -- even though I didn't win one game.

Lots of business left to deal with, but God, Fate, Circumstances, whatever it is gave me a pass today.

Of course the night is young so I shouldn't count my blessings quite yet....


Saturday, October 07, 2006

I Always Liked Al Kaline

Hi All!

Well, I have a new favorite baseball team for the rest of October, as should we all.

Win for old Al Kaline, sez I.

It crossed my mind that the Fickle Finger of Fate set the Tigers up to embarass the Yanks instead of our Cinderallas, but the Twinkies were so used-up and punchless by the last ten days of the regular season and the playoffs that Joe Mauer's Cretin Raiders could have swept 'em. Check the stats. We backed in because Detroit was more worn out then us. Difference is that the Tigers caught their second wind and now they are my guys.

Poetic justice for what we did to them on the way to our MLB Championships.

So, "GO TIGERS"! For Ty Cobb, The Bird and even mean old Jack Morris, but mostly for classy Al Kaline.


Friday, October 06, 2006

How Come, God?

Hi All!

It's certainly been "one a dem daze."

I thought I might start to catalog the many bolts of painful lightning that God pitched at me today, but it would be depressing to you and REALLY depressing to me.

I came upon a thought just tonight. Perhaps this might make a memorable quote some day:

"God does NOT have a plan. He just amuses Himself by moving the pieces around the board."
book of Wog, 1:1

Today he must have really had a belly laugh at my expense.

At least He always comes through with a tomorrow.


The Aftermath

At least we tried harder than the mortal Twinkies -- and for less money!

Scorched earth. But I'll bet that patch of burnt grass will be the greenest part of the lawn next year! (must double-click to see detail)

Thanks for a great season, Twins.

Go Tigers!


Reason to Stay Up Late Saturday

Hi All!

Watch Channel 2 at midnight Saturday to see the greatest Rock and Roll composer of our time, Ray Davies, on Austin City Limits.

I am totally pumped. The kids and I were so very blessed to have seen the great man at First Avenue over a year ago. This will be a similar show, I assume.

Check out the quote on the top of the blog, something he said at the age of 23!!!! :-(


By the by, if you click on the Austin City Limits link above, you can get a full clip of All Day and All of the Night. Awesome.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Ceremony - Go Twins!

The primal scream commences the sacrifice

The Phoenix of Playoff Victory vaults the the Wall of Fire!

Twins Win! Twins Win! Twins Win!

Bring on the Yanks!

PS. Double Click for Bigger Pictures


Wog's Sacrifice to the Baseball Gods

Hi All!

Tonight at dusk I will do my part to help the Minnesota Twins sweep the next three games from the Oakland Athletics by making a burnt offering of a very nifty liquor store display prop.

The canister of Jesse Ventura Minnesota Fireworks will be lit as the base of newspaper and cardboard begins to be consumed as it works its way toward the remains of another Budweiser prop, an 8 foot tall wooden lifeguard chair which was hacked to small timbers earlier this evening in preparation for the sacrifice.

The winds are calm, the sky is clear, the air is crisp as a freshly plucked apple.

Hope the Baseball Gods take notice and approve of our offering.


Jerry Lee Lewis - I Should Live So Long?

Hi All!

I mucked about with a Medusa of cables last night and finally got my new cable downgrade to work properly with the basement TV.

Started at 9. By 11:30 I had a picture, and it was the Letterman show with Jerry Lee Lewis doing one of his hits (sorry, can't remember which...more on that later) with Neil Young.

It was hard to tell who was older -- Young had has big hat so far over his face that it was hard to compare but the neck told a tale of age. The Killer looked worse than Johnny Cash in Rollling Stone a few weeks before he assumed room temperature.

He looked and played like a zombie, needing to crane his neck to read a teleprompter to read his own simple lyrics.

Why I can't remember the song is that it was performed so sonombulently that I dozed off.

The old druggy, alcoholic pedophile will make a ton of dough for his heirs (or creditors) with his new all-star CD (what is it with this mini-spate of fossils doing duets with soon-to-be- fossils, ala Tony Bennett

One could argue that Little Richard still rocks. But the Killer is a freak show. He could barely play the piano with his shaky hands, let alone with his bare feet!

I am being too harsh. After all, the guy is only about 71 and I'll be lucky to see Christmas -- and he moves better.


Twin Armageddons

Hi All!

As I write, my beloved baseball team is on the brink of extinction.

So is my beloved political party.

At least the weather is cheery!

Lessee, there's Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Korea, Dow Jones, Gas Prices and other trivial matters for the masses to take note of.

But here in the Twin Cities, the Twins is all that matter.

But here in the USA, a pervert and the nominds who ignored him are all that matter.

And the Amish thing.

The Republicans are going down, big time. I am so sorry for my country.

The Twins still have a chance.

I'm gonna run my ATC parallel to a steep hill.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pray for Pope Benedict

Hi All!

A few days after the proverbial s--t hit the Islamic fan, a commentator wrote a piece that warned of the percolation of these incidents and warned that if would take weeks or months for the full fury of Islam to rain down.

I saved it, but just tossed it last week. Can't even remember who wrote it.

The author used the example of the infamous Danish cartoon that didn't cause a huge stir for a long time. The initial outrage was just a little snowball getting started down a big hill.

The reactions to Benedict's reasoned speech: a few protests and church attacks and the murder of a poor nun was the little snowball in this case.

Today we have a plane hijacking and a Fatah on the Pope.

I believe he will go to Turkey. If it is his destiny to be a martyr, I'm pretty sure he is ready to embrace it.

And to think I was depressed about the Twins!

No Cheers.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nice Weekend

Hi All!

Many stories of to tell of this wonderful wacky improbable weekend.

I'm feel'n happy and I'm feel'n mean.

But there's still daylight and I'm gonna mow the lawn even though doesn't really need it. Just to be outside. For now, here is a fresh shot of this fat, tired old tub of Wog, with his beloved '72 Bug.

Don't click to enlarge. I'm fat enough as it is.