Sunday, January 31, 2010

Please allow me a moment to reminisce...


Me and my buddy Fuzzy...

This afternoon, I had the honor of attending birthday party for the mother of my childhood friends. Now, I've documented in this blog the fact that I did not have the best of childhoods, but attending this party sent memories rushing through my mind. By far some of the fondest memories from that period of my life.

I came to know the Fuentes family soon after we moved to Minnesota from Kansas City. I was 9 years old at the time. My friends father, Fernando, was the building manager of the apartment we had moved into. Gilbert (Steve) Fuentes and I attended the same school in 4th grade. We hooked up after I discovered the connection with his father.

I remember the first time I was invited to the Fuentes house. I had never seen such a big family. Steve was the middle of a family of 8 kids. Fernando Jr., Jose (Lalo), Claudia (Cha-Cha) Rolando (Fuzzy amongst other nicknames), Gilbert, Rudy, Diana and Michael. Their mother, Francis, was the quintessential housewife and mom.

As I was dealing with an abusive, alcoholic mother, I remember spending nearly as much time at their house as I was at my own. I was always welcome at the Fuentes home. Us kids would either play in the basement or outside in the yard of their huge home. During school months, I'd always find my way to their home, where we'd all then walk to school together.

I hung out mostly with Fuzzy and Steve, but even the older kids were accepting of this chubby kid. I remember many times going with all the boys to the Fighting Saints hockey games. It was clear that I was just one of the boys.

When my mother died when I was 11 years old, I was given the option to move in with family either in Nebraska or Maryland, or stay in St. Paul with a neighbor lady that I had befriended and ran errands for. The single deciding factor for me was my friendship with the Fuentes family. I did not feel that ever find friendship like that anywhere else.

I was still very tight with the family right up to when I eventually wound up moving in with my uncle in Maryland at age 15. While I did establish friendships out there, it just wasn't the same.

When I returned to Minnesota, I never really hooked back up with the boys. It wasn't until I came back to the area in 2004, after my Vegas adventure, did I actually spend some adult time with my childhood friends. I was also shocked to find out that Steve had moved to Vegas and was out there the same time as I was. We lived less than a mile apart at one point and didn't even know it. I guess he never listened to talk radio out there.

I get a chance a few times a year to get together with Fuzzy and Jr. It's always a good time either grilling or going to the bar to watch a Vikings' game. When I was contacted about this get together for their mom, I couldn't pass it up.

I picked up a simple card for Francis and in it I wrote...

Some of my best childhood memories were spent at 701 Kansas Ave.
Thank you - Happy Birthday

For as long as I live, I will always hold a place in my heart for this dear woman and her wonderful family.

Adios...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Build it and they will come...

Funny how I just though about the movie, "Field of Dreams."

Took the newly build Northstar Line train service into downtown Minneapolis earlier today to check out Twins Fest. Now, I'm a big baseball fan that can't wait until the Twins open up the season in their new outdoor ballpark, but, today, I think I was more excited about my first ride on the Northstar.

You see, I, like many Americans, have a sense of romance when it comes to trains. It's not a long ride into the city from Anoka. Just long enough though, to let my mind drift off, especially as we snaked our way through the old rail yards.

As the president has opened up billions of dollars nationwide to go toward a high speed rail line, fiscally conservative types lament train travel as costly and ineffective and express their doubts on ridership potential.

To that I say, just like that beautiful ballpark, built it and they will come. Just like baseball, Americans love trains. Amtrak has a line from Seattle to Chicago that passes through St. Paul twice daily. "The Empire Builder," as it's know, is a very popular route which is often sold out, especially the leg between Chicago and the Twin Cities, despite often running an hour or more late.

A high speed line from St. Paul to Chicago would make stops in La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee and would still make the trip in 5 hours. Naysayers will tell you, why not fly?" When you figure the hassles associated with flying, along with the fact the train would bring you to the central business district, the time is almost a wash.

But forget all the efficiency nonsense. There may be nothing else that says "Americana" like a big shiny train. Let's build this thing, I will come.

ALL ABOARD!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Learning to Love Two Fathers

The following is a paper that my daughter, Katelin Kaeder, wrote for school. I feel it took great courage to put her deep personal feelings on this matter on paper. Keep up the good work, kid.

If someone was to look through the window of my house growing up it would appear to be the typical “American family”, two parents, and two kids. The difference from what is typical was that the father was not my father biologically. To me he was the only father I had ever known so I called him dad. I was never in the dark about the fact that he wasn’t my real father. I remember going to court to have him take over the parental rights of me. I didn’t meet my real father until I was eleven years old. That’s when I realized that having more than two parents in my life could make me learn that love is more than just in your immediate family. And that loving more than one parent doesn’t mean that I’m betraying the other.

I was four years old when my parents took me to court for the adoption papers to be processed. It didn’t seem necessary because my mother’s husband, Jeff, was there from day one. I don’t remember when I was told that he wasn’t my biological father but I knew it was when I really was young. After being told I remember feeling awkward around my adopted family. They never treated me differently, but I always felt like I didn’t belong. Life went one and we moved from Minnesota to Seattle for my father to pursue a better paying job.

Seattle made the awkwardness around the adopted family diminish. I continued to live my so called “normal life”. I was eleven when my sister, JoAnn, found our biological father, John, online. I recall talking to him on the phone for the first time. I was very angry in our first conversation. That same awkwardness that I felt as an adopted child came back the first time I met him.

I felt the anxiety build in my chest as I kicked my soccer ball against the garage door waiting for our first meeting. As he pulled in the driveway I started to think about what was happening. The man I knew to be my father might be hurt by me letting another father into my life. Jeff was there for me and there was no way I was going to let this man interfere with our relationship. From the get go I told him he was not my father and he couldn’t tell me what to do.
After our first meeting I didn’t hear from him again until I was fifteen. My mother and Jeff had gotten a divorce and I was very upset with him. “How could you hurt my mom”? I went with my mom when she moved back to Minnesota because she had nothing for her in Seattle. John, my biological father had moved back to Minnesota and that’s when I decided it was time to get to know him. Still being angry at him for not being there for me he sat me down and explained his reason for leaving my mom. He told me that the best thing he could have done for me is given me up to my dad. That he didn’t think he was fit to do the job. After that conversation I didn’t see him for two years.

My dad and I began to develop a relationship again after a few months of me living in Minnesota with my mom. I believe we got along so great because we understood each other’s situations, for he had come from a broken home himself. Just about the time we started to get along again he was diagnosed with lung cancer from smoking cigarettes for many years. I was heartbroken. He died after eight months of chemotherapy.

I thought my life was over at that point. That’s when John, my biological father deiced it would be a good idea to come back into my life. I was ready to build a relationship with him but in the back of my mind I felt like I was betraying my dad.

This comes to when I turned eighteen and I moved out on my own but I couldn’t find a job so I came to him for help. John got me a job where he worked and I had to move in with him in order to get there. This is when we started to get along. I realized that he wasn’t that bad of a guy and that he was just doing what he thought was best at the time. He told me that if he could change the past he would have never given me up.

Today John and I get along for the most part. I no longer live with him but I talk to him almost every day. I didn’t realize that this was a learning lesson until recently. I learned through developing a relationship with both of my fathers’ that I could love more than just the immediate family in my life. I believe that it has made me grow as a person realizing that if I love parent or person in my life that it doesn’t make the relationship that I have with another any less important.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Haiti... Two weeks later...

One of my Facebook friends, earlier today, wondered how we we managed to muster up so much in donations for the earthquake victims of Haiti when we have homeless, starving children and seniors that can't afford their medication in this country.

For a moment, I found myself agreeing with her. After all, they say charity begins at home. Then it hit me, at least in this country, we have some semblance of a safety net. While tragic, very few of our citizens cannot find at least some help from either government or charity programs. Haitians didn't have that luxury before the quake.

Unless you've been to Haiti, before or after the earthquake (not speaking personally), it's hard to imagine thee squalid conditions these people live in. And with no real industry to to generate a working economy, these have little to nothing to hope for.

There are some that feel this quake might have been a small blessing to those who survived it, because the tragedy has brought worldwide attention to the plight of that country. I'm not for shipping jobs away from this country, but if any country in the world could use a major manufacturer to open up shop, Haiti would be the one.

Even this long after the quake, my thoughts and prayers are still with the people of Haiti, We rejoice when we hear news of survivors that are still being pulled from the rubble. I would hope that the people of Haiti don't give up. We know help has been slow to get to some, due to the decimated infrastructure, but I think there is a real world commitment to the long term rebuilding process.

Adios...

Stop talking and start chalking...

There is no doubt that President Obama may be the best orator since Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, I'm becoming to become a little disillusioned by his lack of leadership.

Take the health care debate. Obama had a bunch of great ideas in how to make health care affordable and accessible to all Americans. But instead presenting a specific package to Congress, he let House and Senate Democrats go off into wild tangents and construct massive legislation full of back room deals and political back scratching, which contains few of the president's original ideas.

At last night's State of the Union address, Obama laid out plans in how to create new jobs. It all sounds great. Tax incentives, a new high speed rail initiative all make for great talking points. Now, Mr. President, it's time to take the bull by horns and give Congress your specific plans and let them work within those parameters.

The nation is watching...

Adios...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wanted... Someone who likes to talk about the issues...

From time to time, I have attempted to do a hybrid talk radio show on BlogTalkRadio.com. What I have found out is that it is too difficult for me to carry an hour long show by myself.

What I need is someone, male or female, regardless of your political or religious beliefs to join me for an hour, either Saturday or Sunday (start time negotiable) to do a review and commentary of some of the top news stories of the previous week.

Commitment is a must. At this time, I am not making any money off this venture. If at some time I start making money, I will be happy to split it with you, 50/50.

Interested parties can drop me an e-mail.

Adios...

The stigma of drunk driving... Or lack thereof...

There is a mild outcry about news of a 49 year old mother that was over twice the legal limit and struck and killed a young man that was standing at a bus shelter, who will get a mild sentence that will make her eligible for release in 8 months.

Now I'm sure she will face other consequences for her actions, but the fact is this woman took another person's life due to her negligence. No different than had she used a gun. The woman pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular operation. What happened to a manslaughter charge? Is that not what she did? The judge gave her the light sentence because of her previously clean record and her commitment to work in preventing drunk driving accidents. Bullshit!! Her actions killed another human being. I'd have a come to God moment too if my negligence had killed someone. That should have been a ten year sentence, minimum.

I know this first hand, there are nearly a thousand cabs patrolling the streets of the Twin Cities area. There is absolutely no reason for anybody to be behind the wheel after they've been drinking. Simply put, if you can afford to drink at a bar, you can afford a taxi. I don't understand, for the life of me, why it takes at least one DWI conviction before most people will jump in a cab after a night out on the town.

What's it going to take? I said earlier, this woman was given a slap on the wrist. When are judges going to throw the book at even first time DWI offenders? Because right now, the deterrent obviously is not strong enough. You have the potential to ruin someone else's life if you drive drunk. If you're caught, your life should be ruined.

You know, if I owned a bar, my bartender would get your car keys and a $20 deposit for cab fare before you were served. I'd own a breathalyzer that you would blow into and pass before you got your keys and your deposit back, when you were ready to leave. That might seem like a big hassle. But compared to the hassle that some innocent person that had their life changed forever because of your stupidity had to endure, suddenly, I think, it's a small price to pay.

Adios.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Minneapolis police officer fired for taser incident


Video from KSTP-TV, Minneapolis...

I've looked at this video over and over again and I keep coming up with the same conclusion... There is just no way to know what really happened until the full report is released.

What you see is the dashcam video from that officer's squad car.

When heard about this story originally, I was under the impression that the officer had casually strolled up to the suspect and popped him with his taser "thug style," meaning the weapon was pointed sideways. While it's obvious that the taser was indeed pointed sideways, I don't get the impression this was done for any other reason than to insure the contact points were flush against the suspect's neck.


This is a standard taser. I'm not sure if this is the same type used by the Minneapolis officer, but as you can see, the head is rectangular, making it difficult to make point blank contact with someone's neck without turning it sideways.


Now obviously, the police chief knows more about this case than I, or anybody in the media know. Including testimony on what led up to the officer's actions. It was his decision to fire the officer for excessive force. Was the use of the taser justified? I just don't know. Was this some mock execution style use of the weapon? I doubt it.


I remember when I was a young and dumb cab driver back over 27 years ago. I was 19 at the time. I was pulled over for a reason that I'm still not sure of. Not that I don't think I did anything wrong, just that I was issued 3 citations for being a smart ass and telling the cop, "I have no idea why you pulled me over, but I'm on my way to a call, could you please hurry up and write the ticket?" The officer took over a half hour to write those 3 tickets. I found out about a month later from another cop that was familiar with the situation that I was real close to getting the butt end of the citing officer's gun to my skull for my shitty attitude.


Since then, I don't care how right I may be in dealing with law enforcement. I keep my cake hole shut and do as the officer requests. Had this individual done the same, who knows, we might not be talking about this now.

Adios...



Monday, January 25, 2010

Poll: More Americans want U.S. to 'mind its own business'

Read the story here...

I hate to say it, but I fall into this category too.

My friends, this is not World War II or the Cold War. In my opinion, this country needs to draw down. I can think of two real good reasons.

First, we plain can't afford to be the world's policeman. Other nations need to take more responsibility for their own security. We are facing record deficits in this country and there are many tough decisions about domestic spending that would be made somewhat easier if we weren't spending billions overseas.

Like I said earlier, this is not the Cold War era. It's been almost 20 years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, yet we still have occupying forces in Europe. We are in an era when people of the world want to determine their own destiny. We may not agree with path they have chosen, but we need to respect their choice.

I understand we need to protect our interests. Many people, however, believe the only reason we involve ourselves in the Middle East is oil. We could put an end to much of that by combining increased exploration on this Continent with finding more reliable alternate fuels. It would not break my heart to have little if any to do with that part of the world.

The world is watching as this country takes a lead role in the earthquake relief effort in Haiti. I admit it would be nice if the rest of the world would apply the same resources that we do. I think President Obama has the right idea about our role in the world and his leadership during the first major disaster since he took office will go a long way in plotting this country's course in world affairs for years to come.

Adios...

Depression setting in...

I woke up to snow and a biting 20mph wind. Just one more reality of living in Minnesota. The other, another heartbreaking season brought to us by the Vikings.

Anybody that watched the last couple minutes of regulation knew in their hearts that the Purple were a sure Ryan Longwell kick away from the Super Bowl.

Despite turning the ball over a half dozen times, the Vikings looked to be the better team on the field. But it wasn't to be. The Saints are marching to Miami.

Long time Viking fans know the pain of losing the big game fairly well. The 1998 team was a lock to go to the Super Bowl. A missed chip shot field goal attempt sent a very plain Falcons team to the big game while a stunned Metrodome crowd home in tears. This most recent loss makes the Vikings 0-5 in NFC Championship games since their last Super Bowl appearance. It's almost a forgotten fact that Minnesota is 0-4 in Super Bowl games.

So here I sit. Another couple of months of Minnesota winter await us. A process made more painful as we wait longingly for the Twins to open their new outdoor ballpark, after 25 years of baseball under the Teflon bubble. Sure, we have pro hockey and basketball to help pass the time, and we won't have to worry about any melodrama with those teams, because they both suck.

So don't be surprised if in the next couple months you don't experience a whole lot of Minnesota nice. Oh, we won't be rude, just a little numb.

Adios...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Good idea gone bad...

I was really looking forward to getting the radio show on BlogTalkRadio.com going again. I tried going down that path this afternoon. Funny thing happened about half way through, I had a full blown anxiety attack, to the point that I had had to quit 15 minutes before the show was supposed to end.

It's been a long time since I've had these symptoms that resemble a mild heart attack. I'm not sure what brought it on. I'm ok now, but I don't think I'll be trying to do another show until I know exactly what happened.

Thanks for your concern...

Adios...

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm so tired of losers...

I know, that's not very Christian of me is it? Sorry...

I've always considered myself a good hearted guy. But lately, more times than not, I've been burned by by my sense of charity.

I hate to use this as a crutch, but I wouldn't wish my childhood on anybody. I had more strikes against me by age 18 than surely anyone else I know.

But you know what, I've gotten off my ass and either got behind the wheel of a cab or got behind the mic of a dispatch room with little fail for the last 28 plus years. Through sickness, shitty weather and shitty relationships, I have been able to provide for myself, if even so in a meager matter.

Sure, I should have stayed in school, but I did not have the support system in order to do. So I have to deal with the fact that I am an uneducated, out of shape, middle aged guy that had to figure a way to make it in today's society. And I could never bring myself to let someone else support me. I remember when I was fired from the last cab company I worked for in Vegas, I was out of work for about 3 weeks and was living with a friend of mine before we made our move to Orlando. It drove me nuts! I can't fathom the idea of those that live their entire lives in this manner.

Look, I'm far from being a how to guide in how to live your life. All I'm saying is if I can go through the crap I did through childhood and have some semblance of a normal life, there is no excuse for those who just want to live off others.

Adios...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"We just don't make stuff anymore..."

That might not be an exact quote, but it was a point that was lamented by KSTP-AM host, Kelly Webb, while describing 5 things to make America great again. His producer, Jason, who in all practicality is the show's co-host was quick to point out that the reason we don't have any manufacturing jobs anymore is because businesses are taxed too much.

When I heard that, I about fell out of the cab. (Oh well... What's one more big pothole in the road?)

No my young friend, the reason we don't make stuff here is that businesses, who want to keep investors and fat cat executives happy, find it more profitable to farm out labor to countries where $3.50 is considered a good wage.

But that's not the only problem. Labor unions in this country have priced the working man out of the market. Not so much with wages, but demands on benefits such as health care (see yesterday's post), retirement and other perks that our hard working fathers and grandfathers never would have dreamed of.

I have to believe there is some middle ground here. But this is something I don't think will solve itself without government aid.

My idea would be labeled simply "America First," a plan that would give generous tax incentives to businesses that do not outsource labor, as well as tax credits to consumers that buy American made products, in order to offset the Wal-Mart effect.

It is true that we need to be good citizens in a world community, but in doing so, we cannot neglect our own home. It's a partnership that business and labor need to make happen in order to make this country great again.

Adios...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maybe it's time to start over...

There are those who will tell you that Massachusetts Senator Elect, Scott Brown won on a mandate to derail the current pending legislation on heath care reform. I think it's more that Martha Coakley ran such a horrible campaign that not even a still relatively popular president couldn't save her. But let's go on the notion that it was the health care debate (or lack thereof) that turned the tide for a candidate who was only weeks ago as much as 30 points down in the polls.

Those who have followed my blog over the last 3 years (this one and my old one) know that my primary issue going into the 2008 election was health care reform. I had gone into the election cycle mostly right of center in my ideology and paid most of my attention to the Republicans that were running in that election. But as I was having issues with my own heath and could not find any affordable coverage that would accept me with my pre-existing conditions. I searched high and low, did a ton of research on every Republican candidate just to find any positions held on reforming health care. There was none... Nada... Zilch... Zippo... There was plenty of talk about Iraq. Nothing on how a middle aged, self employed fat guy could find affordable health coverage. So I did the unthinkable and turned to the Dems.

All the major Democratic candidates were talking health care. As it became clear that their race was going to be between Obama and Hillary, I chose the the one that I thought would be more of a moderate and would work with the Republicans on the major issues and in my opinion, that was Obama.

When Obama won the election, I felt that it was only going to be a matter of time before every individual in this country would be able to be covered without going into financial ruin doing so.

As time passed, it became clear that the the health care debate was going to degrade into a political game of football. I blame the president for not submitting his own bill, as opposed to letting 435 representatives and 50 senators craft legislation that was too mind boggling to understand. It became a point of frustration, even to guys like me that were staunch supporters of reforming the obviously messed up health care industry.

So let's say the newly elected senator from Massachusetts does indeed manage to help scuttle the current legislation, then what? Maybe, it's not such a bad idea. (damn!!! did I just say that?)

If that were the case, I'd like to offer a much simpler health care plan (after all, simple is better) These are the only things I'd change...

  1. Make health insurance coverage mandatory for every American. In theory, if you increase the pool, you lower the costs for all.
  2. Take the coverage responsibility away from companies and give it to individuals. This way, every American would have the same access to coverage, regardless if they are self employed or they work for Microsoft.
  3. Allow consumers to shop for coverage nationwide, allowing for more choices and more competition.
  4. Ban insurance companies from refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions or dropping coverage on those individuals with catastrophic illnesses or injuries.
  5. Allow for a surcharge (within reason) for individuals that engage in an unhealthy lifestyle. Including smokers and fat asses like me.
  6. Tort reform, in order to lower malpractice insurance costs. Individuals should not be able to become instant millionaires because of a correctable medical mistake.
  7. If we are going to continue to treat illegals in this country, we should bill the country of their origin for their care.
  8. While having a safety net for those who cannot afford coverage, nobody should go scott free. Even welfare recipients should have a percentage deducted from their benefits for a premium and be required to cover an appropriate co-pay.

That's it... Eight simple changes that, if enacted, should make affordable health care available to all Americans. So go ahead and run that existing legislation through the shredder. And let's come up with a simple, common sense bill that shuts out the special interests and provides real care for all.

Adios...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Priorities...

An area teacher and girls hockey coach has been busted for answering an online ad (presumably Craigslist) for sex for money. Police say the man answered an ad that was posted by the department.

I get the outrage that will surely spring up in that community, but let's step back a moment. Assuming this guy was desperate enough to pay a hundred bucks to have sex with a stranger, but afraid of getting arrested, how long would it have been before he would have made an advance at one of his students?

Most of us alpha males are afraid to admit it, but not all of us have the looks or charm to turn on much more than the right hand. So engaging in sex wit a lady of legal age that is offering her services willingly for a fee seems to be a relatively harmless act. Let's face it, if you had to choose between that or having him coming on to your teenage daughter, which would you pick?

Minneapolis police (I don't know if this was the arresting agency) are facing a reduced number of officers on the street and already 6 murders in this new year. I would think law enforcement would have bigger fish to fry than trapping some sex craving fool who's willing to drop a day's pay just to satisfy the need, especially when he's not perusing the streets doing so.

Websites like Craigslist have come under fire for being a hot bed for the sex trade industry. What this has done, along with law enforcement, has taken prostitution off the streets, which is a good thing. My question is that if its off the streets and the participants are willing and are off legal age, where's the problem? Don't cops have other worries? We've seen a spike in murder rates, drug use is up (especially heroin) and there is an alarming rise in home invasions. I just don't see a problem with an industry that one of our states deems legal.

I guess it's a safer bust to roust a few hookers than to chase down thugs and drug dealers.

Oh... And don't forget that omnipresent seat belt enforcement.

Adios...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Has this become just an excuse for a day off?

I seem to have a little more time on my hands today, so I guess I'll offer my 2 cents on our country's state of race relations, on this observance of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday.

The first thing to come to mind is how the holiday itself has lost some it's importance. I know it's been a Federal holiday for a while and most schools are closed, but I thought many banks and businesses also toke the day off. It seems not to be the case. Does this mean we've somehow lost the sense of importance of Dr. King's works?

No, I think just the opposite is true. The election of this country's first black president has shown how far we've come as a country. Yet in a recent poll, only 38 percent of those asked feel we've reached racial equality.

Folks, I can't sugar coat this any. The opportunities for blacks who are motivated to make something out of their lives is as good, if not better than like minded whites. The key word is motivation. That begins with education. These days, you can't even blame lack of finances for not being able to obtain a college education. The grant money is out there.

I was really hoping that the election of Obama would inspire more young blacks to reach for that so called brass ring and maybe they have. I have not seen the numbers in relation to the percentage of black college graduates as opposed to whites. Realistically, it may be too early to tell the real impact Obama's presidential victory has had.

We may be several generations away from true racial equality. Despite all the efforts desegregate our society, we still have a tendency to migrate to those of our own kind. In my opinion, this is more of a cultural issue than a practical economic issue, but it may be the last remaining roadblock to true equality.

I don't think we can look to our president or our government to lead us toward racial equality. But instead the ability of every individual to look beyond the the color of their own skin and tap their true potential as a human being living in the greatest country on the planet.

It's up to all of us to keep the dream alive.

Adios...

So how about those Vikings?

I think I did say the final score would be 31-10. Didn't miss it by much, did I?

What a case of total domination. To the point where I found myself feeling sorry when the Vikings scored that last minute touchdown, as to rub a little salt in the wound.

So now, bring on the Saints. I do remember saying that the road to the Super Bowl would go through New Orleans, even after they tanked their last 3 games. Just as the Vikings have an incredible home field advantage at the Metrodome (sorry, I don't buy into this whole Mall of America Field thing), the noise in the Superdome should provide quite an advantage for the Saints.

That said, I think our boys actually match up pretty well against New Orleans and I think they will pull it out in a shoot out, 38-31.

What may be more intriguing is the AFC title game between the Colts and yes, the New York Jets. No, I didn't realistically think this would be possible. Matter of fact, I had the Chargers going to the Super Bowl. I do, however, remember thinking how fitting it would be if the Jets wound up facing the Colts with a Super Bowl birth on the line. Remember the uproar over the Colts' decision to forego a chance at a perfect season by pulling Payton Manning and some of the other starters, allowing the Jets to pull that game out in the second half and eventually giving them a playoff birth. I'm not going out on a limb and predicting a Jets' victory, but there will be a part of me that will be rooting for Gang Green.

Either way, the football party will be at my place this Sunday.

Skoal Vikings!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

First things first

My son is coming over to watch the games this weekend, so I'm going to postpone the restart of the radio show, at least until the end of the Vikings run in the playoffs. Don't worry, I'm refreshed an ready to have fun talking about the issues.

Adios...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hang up on LaHood bumper stickers on sale now...



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LaHood... Crazy like a fox?

I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have something to write about.

Then, my buddies Prebil and Murphy from KSTP-AM1500 pulled a local radio coup and obtained an interview with Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood. The topic, his whacked out position on cell phone use while driving.

I drew a link to the interview, trust me when I say, LaHood is totally out of touch with reality on this. Again, texting, using applications and even hand dialing a phone number do provide a potentially dangerous distraction, I get that. But the notion that a person can't carry on a conversation on the phone, especially while using a Bluetooth is just unrealistic.

After the interview ended and I got my turn to weigh in on air, Murph pointed out an interesting point that I had forgot. Our dear friend Ray is a Republican.

Now I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories and I understand that this is more than likely not even close to reality, but I can't help but wonder, is this some backhanded attempt to undermine this "liberal" administration by proposing such a heavy handed government restriction that may just draw more outrage than mandatory health insurance?

Nah... There's no way... Wow... Gets you to think though.

Adios...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti... A once in a lifetime tragedy

I cannot remember a tragedy that has hit my heart like this. Millions of people, already living in repugnant conditions, facing total devastation that came with absolutely no warning.

I don't think anyone in this country can even begin to imagine the horrors these people are enduring.

I am not normally the boo-hoo bleeding heart type, despite what you may think of my political leanings. So please understand the tone of this plea...

If you have any means whatsoever to donate, I don't care, a dollar, ten dollars, whatever you can give, please do so.

And by all means, keep the people of Haiti and the people on the ground rendering aid in the forefront of your thoughts and prayers.

Click here for a list of organizations seeking donations for earthquake relief...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hang up and drive?

Before I get into this, let me take a moment to offer my prayers to the people of Haiti, who are recovering from a massive earthquake yesterday.

Transportation secretary, Ray LaHood wants to stop you from using your mobile device while driving, including talking on your cell phone, even if you use a Bluetooth.

Well Ray, I got two words for ya'... Wait, I'm having a bit of a WWE hangover. But seriously, this is crazy.

Nobody else has the seeds to admit it, but I've been behind the wheel after 4 or 5 beers (not while on duty). I was far less "impaired" than when I was attempting to dial a phone number or send a short text message while driving. I agree that this activity makes driving much more dangerous. But in this era of hands free technology, simply engaging in a conversation on a cell phone is no more dangerous that talking to a passenger in the car.

I have been playing dodge dummy on these streets for nearly 29 years now. A bad driver is a bad driver, regardless if he's drunk, speeding, eating, talking on the phone or all of the above.

Now I don't spend a lot of time on the phone while I drive, but if I have to field a call for business reasons, damn it, I'm going to do so.

Maybe as motorists, we should all just slow down a bit, take a deep breath and relax. It would make us all better drivers, regardless what other activity we might have to engage in.

Adios.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wrestling getting far too predictable...

I was in attendance at last night's edition of Monday Night Raw, put on by World Wrestling Entertainment last night. It was the first time I had been to a televised show since ol' Vinnie Mac expanded his empire some 28 years ago.

As a fan of this weird form of entertainment since childhood, I've witnessed quite an evolution. When I started watching in the late 60s, a guy like me, under 6 foot tall and over 230 pounds with limited athletic ability could fit right in the circus. Now days, the performers are far more athletic and put their bodies through much more in order to entertain us rubes.

I remember the how devastated I was when I come to the realization that the outcomes of pro wrestling matches were pre-determined. You noticed I didn't say it was fake. There is nothing fake about the abuse these guys and girls put their bodies through. I took a "bump" as part of a promotion my radio show was doing with a local wrestling show in Vegas. My neck was sore for 3 days.

As time passed, I found myself less cheering for particular wrestlers and more attempting to predict the storylines. Problem is, this prediction process is getting easier each and every month. Take this week's Raw. I knew guest host, Mike Tyson would turn on tag team partner, Chris Jericho minutes after their match with Degeneration X was announced. I foresaw the rift growing in the team "Legacy" a couple of months ago. Mark my word, Randy Orton will win his WWE title match with relative newcomer, Sheamus, at the "Royal Rumble," on the 31st, only to be challenged by Legacy member, Ted DiBiase, who will win the actual Rumble signature battle royal, at the company's showcase event, Wrestlemania. DiBiase has been getting a major push of late and those who are smarter than me about this stuff figure him to be a major player this decade.

For those who are not wrestling fans, this stuff is pretty ho-hum. Unfortunately, the recent predictability has made some long time fans turn away. It's just like a game that gets too easy to win, after a while, you just lose interest.

WWE is a multi-million dollar enterprise that employs thousands of people, besides the wrestlers. I would hope that this era of stale predictability ends fairly quickly, otherwise all the gains WWE has made in mainstream America will be lost and John Cena's show will have a hard time selling out the St. Paul Armory.

Adios...

Monday, January 11, 2010

This Harry Reid thing is getting on my nerves..

I've heard all the talk today about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comments made during the campaign and published in a book due to hit the stands tomorrow, about Barack Obama's ability to be elected because he was light skinned and didn't possess a "Negro dialect."

Now I'm not one of those who's calling for the Senator to step down from his leadership post. I think the voting public will take care of that for him. What pisses me off is how out of touch this old coot is.

Do you think there is any American that voted for Obama that thought he was nothing more than a well tanned white guy? I don't think so. Yes, there are those in White America who didn't vote for this president because of his color and that's a shame. But I guarantee the tone of his skin or his vernacular had little to do with that choice.

I voted on the issues and Obama address those issues closest to what I believed was the proper course to take. I wouldn't have care if he was as dark as or spoke like Chris Rock. (Remember the movie Head of State?)

Unfortunately, I think we are a couple of generations away from having politicians who are truly in touch with this country's attitude on race. Until then, look for more of this crap to rear its ugly head.

Adios...

"The best comedy is always offending somebody."

That was a quote from The Simpsons' 20th Anniversary show, last night.

I can't say I'm a big Simpsons fan, if at all. Not out of disdain, I just don't watch that much TV, other than sports and WWE. But for some reason, I felt compelled to watch the special.

That quote did make me realize what has gone wrong in our society, in my opinion. We just get offended too easily these days. Race, religion, sexual orientation, all deemed off limits in today's PC culture. We have lost the ability to laugh at ourselves.

Growing up as a fat kid (nothing much has changed), I learned at an early age to be able to find humor in my shortcomings. And while I don't go out of the way to be offensive, let's face it, funny is funny and everybody has some trait that begs to be laughed at.

I don't know first hand, but apparently The Simpsons have been poking fun at all aspects of life for the last 20 years, making it one of the most popular shows in that period of time.

With the popularity of such shows as The Simpsons and Family Guy, maybe some day, we'll all learn to lighten up.

I'm not holding my breath.

Adios...

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Somalis are beginning to worry me...

And it has nothing to do with what I feel their impact on the local taxi industry has been. (Although I will say I get complaints about them daily.)

Minneapolis police won't say this out loud, but I bet $20 to a donut (even bet, to a cop) that more than a few investigators think that a recent shooting of 3 Somali immigrants in a south Minneapolis store a couple of days ago was gang related.

I'm not talking Crips or Bloods here. This is Somali on Somali, clan vs. clan warfare. Now I'm not trying to say that the 3 victims had anything to do with gang activity, nor do I think that this is about drugs or other traditional gang issues.

The one thing I know about the Somali culture (which isn't much) is that there are rival clans within the Somali community and they don't like each other very well.

As I have said before, the majority of Somalis living in the Minneapolis area are hard working, peace loving individuals who are just trying to provide for their families in this strange and wonderful country.

But it is no secret that violence in predominantly Somali neighborhoods is on the rise. And unlike the gang activities of the SE Asians that was running hot 15 years ago, these people are no strangers to fighting and I feel it wouldn't take much for Somali gang violence to explode and spill over into the rest of the community.

Couple this with the way many of these people view western culture and you have the ingredients for Somali violence against other non Somalis in the community. Somalis in the St. Cloud area are outraged that an individual that put up fliers in front of a Somali ran store that parodied the prophet, Mohamed, will not be charged with a hate crime. Do you doubt it will only be a matter of time before someone in the Somali community takes "justice" into their own hands and attacks someone for committing what is viewed by them to be blasphemy? For Christ's sake, it wasn't long ago that a British teacher in Sudan was nearly lynched for naming a stuffed bear Mohamed. These people take their religion seriously. It's also a little known fact about the disdain Somalis hold toward black Americans.

If they are not doing so already, area police departments better keep a watchful eye. This shooting incident in Minneapolis is just the kind of thing that could escalate out of control in a hurry if not quelled.

I sure hope the peace loving Somali community gets involved... Quickly...

Adios.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sometimes you have to tell the whole story...

Yesterday, when I was lamenting the fact that if my mother was alive, I would possibly be no different than other guys I know that are still living at home, I mentioned 3 individuals, including my daughter's boyfriend, who has been living at home for reasons I won't go into detail about.

I, possibly unfairly, have been critical of my daughter's relationship with this man, who in all honesty, has not really done anything to draw my wrath. Unfortunately, their situation was not even the reason I brought all of this up.

Late last year, I helped my 2 boys and their sister get in touch with their mother, my first wife, who had another daughter who who was fathered by the guy my ex was fuckin' around with. This is the girl that I was calling my step daughter. In actuality, there is no connection. None the less, I helped this girl move to this area from the Green Bay vicinity, to get away from a supposed abusive relationship. She moved in with Lori and I so she could get her life back together. In the short time she lived with us, she got herself involved with some guy that had a history of freakish behavior. That part didn't bother me as much as the fact he was a guy in his mid 20s that was a part time student and still living with mommy. I had several different people who know him well, including a girl that was involved in a relationship with him, tell me that he was a manipulative loser. And this girl who Lori and I invested so much time trying to help her pull her life together was getting ready to move in with him and was pissed off that I didn't just offer my blessing.

Well as far as I'm concerned, don't let the door hit you in the ass. I took time and effort away from my wife and children that were of my loins in order to help out this pathetic ingrate.

I had many problems when I was her age and would have loved to have had some unrelated sap open their door to me, feed me for for over a month without a dime to pay for it, pay for meds and other personal items and in return, listen as this person offered a bit of guidance so I didn't wind up in the same predicament 2 months later. This is the situation that caused my initial desire to blow off steam.

So what does all this mean? I am an amateur blogger that uses my forum, not to make money or gain any notoriety, but instead as a means to blow off steam so I don't take the frustrations of life out on the general public. Believe me, it's very helpful. All this said, I might have accidentally jumped on someone that really didn't deserve it. For that, I'm sorry.

Ironically, I chatted with an old buddy of mine in Maryland that his lived with his mother most all his life. He is a hard working, successful man who could live on his own if he chose to. I guess it just goes to show, sometimes, you have to know the whole story.

Adios...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sometimes, you have to look in the mirror...

Last night, I was ready to rip into 21 plus year olds that were still living at home with mama. My stepson still lives with us and my daughter and step daughter are in relationships with guys that haven't left the nest yet. In my daughter's case, the dude is in his 30's.

I gotta admit this has been bugging me for a bit and I had some serious venom in my soul when I began writing yesterday. Looking back, I'm glad I hit the delete button before that got published.

You see, as I look back on my life, I've never spent much time on my own. I've been married or been in live in relationships. That leaves me to wonder if my mother was still alive, would I still be living at home?

Now unlike my stepson or the other 2 guys I mentioned earlier, I have never been more than a couple of weeks without working in nearly 30 years. I just don't understand how someone can sit home and play video games for 20 hours a day or use going to school part time to justify not having a job. The worst part of it is that I don't consider myself a incredibly motivated individual.

I think it's right that an able bodied guy should be able to stay under mama's wing well into their 20s, let alone over 30. But I guess I should step back and ask myself would I be any different?

Adios...

Monday, January 4, 2010

What's good for one...

Patrolling the streets on Minneapolis is a taxicab company that calls itself "Latino Express." Without investigation, I would assume this company is marketed to passengers of Hispanic background and employs Spanish speaking drivers and dispatchers.

On the surface, I don't have a problem with this. I think it is a great marketing idea. There is an ever growing Spanish speaking population in the Twin Cities that could be well served by a taxi company with no language barriers.

Here's where I have the problem...

If I fell into a bunch of money and wanted to open a company with, lets use a hypothetical name such as "All American Taxi" and employ only drivers that had a firm command of the English language, which would rule out many many of the immigrant drivers that now roam the streets of many major cities, I would be deemed a racist. Can you see a double standard here?

These double standards exist in many businesses these days. Many mom and pop type businesses ran by immigrants that cater to customers of their own ethnicity. Is this wrong? I don't see a problem with it. Just don't tell me that as an Anglo-Saxon, I would not have that same right.

After all, what's good for one should be good for all, right?

Adios...

At what price perfection?

A few of my friends (Murph) are up in arms about the way teams like the Indianapolis Colts finished the end of the regular season by sitting out many of their starters and in Indy's case blowing a chance at a perfect season, once their seeding in the playoffs was secured.

I don't know if I can relate to how Colts' fans feel in this matter. My Vikings suffered a loss mid way through the season, ruling out any chance of perfection early on. I still am inclined to believe that I am much more interested in winning a Super Bowl than I would be in having a perfect season.

Again in the Indy case, the Colts pulled Payton Manning in the 3rd quarter of their game with the Jets, a situation that New York quickly pounced on, handing the previously unbeaten team their first loss after 14 wins. I might have understood Colts fan's outrage in that situation, but lets play a little "what if" game here.

Lets say the Colts win game 15 at home in Indy. Now, they travel to Buffalo, for the last game of the year. Anybody that saw that game knew the conditions were horrendous. Would it been worth risking injury to Manning or any of the other key starters, in order to maintain the perfect season?

Any major league sports team's objective at the beginning of the season is to win the championship. Having a record season leading up to the playoffs is a bonus, but I don't think it overshadows the primary objective of bringing home the hardware.

I think all these Colts' fans who were crying about wanting a refund for their team's performance against the Jets will be plenty pacified if their team wins the Super Bowl.

Don't look for that to happen though, as my lees than perfect Vikings knock off the less than perfect Chargers in hopefully warm and sunny Miami.

Adios...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

War is a bitch...

It seems to me that this country is spending too much time worrying about civilian casualties as it attempts to wipe out the al-Qaeda threat. If it were me in charge, I would bomb the hell out of the entire region, then sift through the rubble to see how many bad guys we got.

I know that sounds cruel, but how much money and more importantly, how much more precious American blood do we have to shed in pursuit of these animals that have no regard for life?

In my opinion, it would only take a couple of mass bombings for the locals to kick this scum out of their villages, in fear of continuos American attacks.

I know... That doesn't sound very Christian like, does it? You're right, it doesn't. But I believe it's high time this country puts American interests first and I don't think it's in our best interests to be in a drawn out, door to door conflict against an enemy that hides amongst the civilian population. At least not if we have the firepower to avoid American casualties.

If we are indeed at war, the time has come to win the war as expediently as possible to bring our sons and daughters home.

Adios...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Warning... Talk radio can be addictive...

When you spend twelve hours a day behind the wheel, that car radio becomes one of your best friends. As I've stated before, I spend much of that time listening to KSTP-AM 1500. What I haven't made clear is why, especially with all the choices available in this area.

First of all, I enjoy news talk radio. I like to stay informed. I spent many years listening to WCCO-AM, solely because at the time, they were the premier source for news. I used the talk shows more for background noise. That was until the early 90's when a guy named Wes Minter hit the airwaves with a first for the good neighbor, a show host with an opinion. While I found myself disagreeing with Minter on many occasions, I enjoyed the relevant conversation that did not have anything to do with agriculture. Wes became a good regular customer of mine and I was a loyal listener to his show. That was my first indoctrination to opinion based talk radio. Then, suddenly, he was gone. 'CCO pulled the sometimes controversial host. This pissed me off.

It was at that time that I mixed listening to KQ with my first go round with KSTP. AM-1500 was carrying Rush Limbaugh at the the time, but I was listening less to talk radio because of the continuous barrage of right leaning hosts that either shouted down or ridiculed anyone with an opposing view.

I think it was after 9-11 when I started listening to talk radio again. The right leaning shows didn't bother me as much because they were all beating the destroy al-Qaeda drum.

As it became apparent that I was in need of more health care than I could pay out of pocket and I could not find affordable insurance, I became more interested in the heath care debate. It bothered me that none of the leading Republican candidates were even talking about ways to make care available to all Americans. I wound up engaging quite a bit with talk show host, Eric von Wade, out of Corpus Christi, Texas, where we were living at the time. I enjoyed Eric's show because while he was highly educated, he never talked down to his callers, despite their opinion.

When we moved back here in 2008, I found myself continuing to listen to talk radio, primarily KSTP. I had noticed the station was going through some changes, possibly to keep a fan base that had been attracted by their recent acquisition of broadcast rights of the Minnesota Twins. Gone were Willie Clark and Bob Davis, replaced by long time sports writer, Patrick Reusse and Wisconsin natives Prebil and Murphy. These changes transformed me from a casual listener to a hardcore fan.

There are many reasons why these somewhat subtle changes to the casual listener made such a profound change in my listening habits. I think the biggest is the lack of "polish" on these two shows as well as the addition of broadcasting rookie, Kelly Webb, a St. Paul area pastor that fills an hour long gap between Preebs and Murph and the long running, Garage Logic show, with Pioneer Press columnist, Joe Soucheray.

Most of my regular readers know that I had a radio show for a short time on a brokered station in Las Vegas. I had no radio training, so while I felt the show was informative to the listener base (Las Vegas cab drivers) it was about as polished as 10 year old pair of rodeo cowboy's boots.

The shows on AM-1500 between 5:30 am and 2pm are nowhere near as disorganized as my attempt at talk radio, but I somehow get the feeling that the hosts are talking to me, not at me. A trait that my partner, Rod Johnson and I felt we were good at.

I'm not sure if the "jeans and t-shirt" style of programing that KSTP is producing of late is by design or accident, but I do know it is much more palatable than what is coming over the airwaves of the "good" neighbor.

I just hope KSTP never acquires hospices and mortuaries as ad clients. That's just plain creepy.