Monday, July 31, 2006

I wonder what’s wrong with me...

...because, somehow, I just can’t get terribly worked up over Israel’s “aggression” in Lebanon. Yes, I’m sorry that civilians are dying there, just as I’m sorry civilians are dying in Israel.

Perhaps if Hezbollah and Hamas weren’t using civilians as shields, and conducting military-style operations while wearing civilian clothes, the death toll would be lower. Perhaps if the UN was something more than an anti-Israel, anti-USA debating society good for nothing beyond big talk and raking in bribes from despots, the death toll would be lower.

The world – and Hezbollah – were “shocked” when Israel reacted strongly to the kidnaping of two of its soldiers. “Goodness,” people said, “if you let a little thing like that provoke war, you’re no better than they [whoever they might be] are.”

It never occurs to any of those high-minded peace-loving types that just because a nation doesn’t stoop to their level, that doesn’t mean they are going to see the light. In fact, history demonstrates, over and over, that they will continue to do whatever they want for as long as they can get away with it.

Israel seems to understand that. We don’t.

Israel also understands, as our own so-called "leaders" do not, that protection of all one's own citizens is a nation's first duty, and if doing so involves inflicting condign punishment on other nations or groups, so be it.

Though I am sure to be accused of being a Muslim-hater – which I assuredly am not – I admit to not feeling kindly disposed to people who will send their young out, strapped into girdles of plastique, to blow up innocent Jews. Nor am I feeling any feelings of goodwill and brotherhood toward those wack-jobs in Iran who are ranting about the “destruction of the Zionist State,” looking forward to some kind of Armageddon apparently predicted in the Koran and prepared to use any force necessary to convert the rest of the world – once they’ve finished off the Jews, that is – to Islam.

The plain fact is that too many Muslims (who are, themselves, certainly peace-loving and tolerant of all people of good will) seem to have adopted the Mafia code that says you offer unquestioning support to anyone who’s in your “family,” no matter how despicable they are. And the non-Muslim liberals of Europe and the USA, particularly those in the media, being the tolerant folks they are, will back them right down the line.

The world is, alas, full of people who hate Jews. I’ve never understood the reasons for that. It seems certain that three-quarters of the United Nations and 90% of the Arab/Muslim world would be thrilled to see Israel vanish under mushroom clouds. And Iran seems to be planning for exactly that.

In the meantime, “diplomats” talk their big talk, meet, talk some more, deplore and decry, without coming up with what seems a simple, basic solution: make both sides stand down, and do whatever is necessary to ensure that Israel and its Arab neighbors live in peace, free from the threat of destruction from fundamentalist Islamic zealots.

My personal feeling is that it would speak well for the world’s Muslims if they would be a bit more open and vocal in disavowing the radical terrorists in their ranks instead of taking offense every time someone mentions that inhuman acts are being perpetrated in the name of their religion.

Silence – or making excuses for the terrorists, or attacking the Jews for defending themselves, or attacking the USA because it supports Israel’s right to exist – is all too easy to interpret as a sign of complicity.

But pay no attention to what I think. I'm a Muslim-hater, of course.

Even if I'm really not.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Invisible...

...he's absolutely sure of that!

Simple answers...

...from a simple person.

1. If many of the states in the Middle East were not committed to Israel's destruction, and actively engaged in encouraging, supporting and supplying terrorists who commit unspeakable acts to achieve that goal, Israel would not be taking military action to protect itself.

2. If terrorists fire rockets and launch attacks from civilian areas, it is they who are at fault when such civilian areas are targeted in response, not those trying to protect themselves.

3. If Muslims are concerned with their image as peace-loving people willing and eager to coexist with others, they need to turn their backs on all who commit barbarous acts in the name of Islam, and make it very clear that they have done so. They also need to turn their backs on all whose goal is a world populated only by Muslims and who use violence to achieve that aim.

4. People who expect tolerance need to be tolerable. Expecting others to abandon their own moral and social beliefs for you is not acceptable.

5. Christianity, Judaism and Islam are not, in themselves, evil. None represents a threat to anyone who doesn't believe in their tenets. But some followers of those religions are evil, and should be repudiated for the good of all.

6. A "friend" or "partner" nation that behaves in criminal ways is no "friend," no "partner."

Too simple? Probably. At least as long as the world is run by the current crop of narrow-minded, vicious, power-hungry fools supported by an agenda-driven media and gullible voters.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Friday, July 28, 2006

Photos....

When I see the pictures posted by genuine artists such as this lady and my adopted daughter, I want to hurl my camera out the window.

Or jump in a Rambler American and drive off into the sunset....

In all honesty, I'm feeling the urge to do the latter anyway, without looking at pictures of such awesome quality.

Maybe I could put my camera under the Rambler's front wheel and accomplish two things at once.

The rest of the...

...beautiful Pontiac.

I once had a 1950 Chevrolet -- a not entirely dissimilar car -- painted in an insanely thick layer of the same color by the legenday Earl ("I'll paint any car, any color, for $29.95. No ups, no extras") Scheib....

1951...

...was a very good year to buy a Pontiac...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

GCotW

This is a very special Gratuitous Cat of the Week!


Her name is Tabitha, and she is one of the platoon of feral cats that live in my local park, where they are cared for by volunteers who bring them food, give them medical attention, and generally watch out for them.

She is not among the cats who are friendly with their feeders (and with me); a true feral, she keeps her distance. That made getting an interview difficult.

Finding her in the night also made the interview difficult.

Among her hobbies are: eating, sleeping, watching seagulls, eating, sleeping and prowling. And sleeping after eating. Having been spayed, she has a short list of hobbies.

What makes Tabitha special is that this photo, when originally published in my old journal, caught the eye of my friend Anne, who made it the background for her journal design.

That's an honor for Tabitha and me.

Anne is apparently feeling better after her health problems. That makes all of us who know her very happy. Including Tabitha.


PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: This is the photo as it originally appeared. Anne made it look much better....

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A strange day

When I got home from running errands this morning, there were two messages on my answering machine. One was routine; the other was odd.

I thought I could hear a loud rushing noise, and a car's electronic warning chime of the kind you hear when a door is open and the key's in the ignition or seatbelts aren't fastened. The chime was both unusual and familiar to me. Only one brand of car I've ever driven has it. I played the "message" back several times, and was fairly certain of what I heard.

So I checked caller ID and found the call came from a friend's number. He actually has one of those unusual cars. I dialed his number, and got his wife. She had just bounced said car off a freeway center divider when the brakes went away. After she got it stopped, she tried to call 911 but got my number from the phone's memory instead.

What I heard was the sound of traffic rushing past and the door open/key in ignition warning. M. was a bit disoriented, and it took her a moment to realize she hadn't gotten the emergency number.

Fortunately, by the time I called back she was off the freeway, had been checked out and was okay -- if understandably shaken -- and the car had been hauled off to a shop. Apparently it will survive as well.

I had just had my own narrow escape on the freeway perhaps half an hour before, caused by a truck ahead of me overloaded with miscellaneous dump-bound items.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: Since some people consider it racist to mention that the occupants of said truck did not appear to be legal residents of this country, I won't say anything about that....

A chunk of wood the size of a pallet flew off the top of the truck, aimed directly at the windshield of the car I was driving. It was one of those odd, slow-motion moments; I had enough time to glance in the mirror and yank the wheel to the left as the big slab seemed to float in the air in front of me. It hit the ground and the car behind me smacked into it, fortunately without causing the sort of damage it would have done to my ride.

Of course this put me in the carpool lane, which would have subjected me to a hefty fine had a cop seen me. Cops here tend not to stop *ll*g*l *l**n drivers as a rule, no matter what they do.

No harm, no foul. Better than what poor M. went through, for sure.

When I got home, I found that the hot weather had brought out a squadron of fleas. I am mildly allergic to fleas. Until now, there haven't been any fleas in this area for as long as I've lived here.

So now I'm hot, somewhat angry, lonely and depressed. And I itch.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Well, duh...

...is about all one can say about this little tidbit from Mahmoud Komati, deputy chief of Hezbollah's political arm, in the news today:

"The truth is -- let me say this clearly -- we didn't even expect (this) response.... that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us."

Gosh, what a concept. A nation growing tired of incessant terrorist acts committed against its citizens, that hears little from its "neighbors" except calls for its destruction, chooses to react vigorously to yet another terrorist act? How dare they?

I've heard and read enough from Muslims/Arabs and their apologists about "Zionist brutality." They complain about Israel's "atrocities" and seem perfectly happy with the idea that Israel should be wiped off the map. They misrepresent history and try to cloak virulent antisemitism is high-flown language.

Hundreds of Lebanese would still be alive, and their land would not have been attacked, if they had simply done what the United Nations ordered them to do, which was to kick the terrorists out of their country. They didn't; now, they pay for it.

But in this instance, as in every other since its founding, the UN is pursuing a course of pious talk and no enforcement.

I have nothing against either Arab nations or Muslims, so long as they live in peace with others and accept the rights of people of all religions, races and backgrounds to exist without fear.

But any group or country that feels the need to destroy the Jewish state is no better than Adolf Hitler and his Nazi followers. It is they who should be wiped off the map....

If Islam truly is a peaceful religion, it needs to clean its own house. To remain silent in the face of the barbarism committed in its name is to support that inhuman behavior; those who choose this path should not be surprised when they are attacked.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Brrrr!

It's 32 degrees here....

The electricity providers are yapping about the possibility of "rolling blackouts" because people are using too damn much juice. Funny thing is, no one is saying that one of the reasons California -- specifically Southern California -- is consuming so much electricity is that there are too damn many people here. That's also the reason we have trouble with water, trash disposal, traffic, and on and on and on....

I'm doing my part. All I'm using are the fans and the computer. That's not to say I wouldn't have the air conditioning on -- and set to an antisocial 70 degrees -- if indeed I had a/c.

While I'm on my soapbox -- heat and other frustrations make me very cranky -- I read this morning that John Kerry is claiming there wouldn't be a war in the Middle East right now if he was president.

You know what? For the first time I can recall, I actually agree with him. But he wouldn't like what I think would have happened instead if he had won....

I have news for him. The war wouldn't be going on if I was president, either.

I think that arrogant and just plain stupid statement puts Kerry in line for this week's Tinfoil Hat Award.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What else is there?

The clouds did indeed bring rain this morning...quite a bit of it, in a very short time, along with a thunderstorm.

After that, of course, the heat was back with a vengeance. Naturally, the humidity soared.

And now, the clouds are forming again. This is totally atypical for the area.

Nothing really to report. I worked, finally finishing an article I have pecked away at in desultory fashion for several days. Heat and uninspiring subject matter are a lethal combination when productivity is necessary.

Hope my fans don't burn out before the weather improves. They've been running continuously for a week.

Better I should worry that I'll burn out before at least one of my prayers is answered. That's much more likely.

stormy weather...

...in the neighborhood.

Too bad this...

...and this...

...are not alleviating the heat. It's already too hot to be comfortable outdoors and, because of the clouds -- which may bring more rain and thunderstorms -- the humidity is well over 90%.

For the first time in the years I've lived here, I'm wishing this bulding had air conditioning.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Weird weather...

...where The Ghetto Meets The Sea.

Two hours ago, it was 89 degrees. Now it's cooler, rain is pouring down and we are in the midst of a thunderstorm.

The lightning strikes appear to be out over the ocean, though they are moving this way.

This strange weather has brought out everyone in the neighborhood, plus a lot of gawkers in cars. Yes, I went out and gawked too, and am now soaking wet. Earlier, I was soaking wet because of the heat.

In all the time I've lived here, I haven't seen weather like this. I can only assume it's because Art Bell is back on the air tonight....

I needed some entertainment. Wish someone was here to share it with me....

Return of the...

...non-gratuitous cat!

That's right...Hobbes insists on having his picture posted whenever I show some other feline...*


Actually, this is for Anne, a dear friend who is having health problems right now. I know she loves cats, and both Hobbes and I are wishing her the very best.

Get well soon. Anne. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

*What he really insists on is being fed, but I know he'd love to have Anne (or some equally sweet lady) around to add to the amount of affection he gets from me....

Free as...

...pelicans...


Friday, July 21, 2006

Yo-ho, yo-ho...

...the ship from "Pirates of the Caribbean" -- or so I'm told; haven't seen the movies, though I have been on the ride at Disneyland, which is cool -- is currently tied up to a quay down the hill from me...

...I'd have posted a better photo if it had been closer and/or the air wasn't so hazy today....

So, by way of consolation, here's today's Gratuitous Cat....

Today's "Tinfoil Hat Award"...

...just has to go to Hillary Clinton, who said this in a speech yesterday:

"At the rate that technology is advancing, people will be implanting chips in our children to advertise directly into their brains and tell them what kind of products to buy."

I've known that she's seriously deranged for a long time, but this little gem takes it to a whole new level.

Unless, that is, she's auditioning for guest-host duties on Art Bell's radio show. In that case, she's a shoo-in to get the job.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The lunatics are in charge...

...of damn near everything.

I expected the UN to react the way it has regarding the situation in the Middle East. Kofi Annan shows all the signs of senility, has for years, and heads an organization that specializes in appeasement, antisemitism and corruption. Ditto for the Russians, Chinese, French and Spaniards, all of whom would relish nothing more than seeing Israel evaporate, especially if it can drag the USA down along with it.

And I expected our politicians to play games with the war -- and it is a war -- for their own political advantage. I expected George Bush to shoot off his mouth and do nothing, as well.

Sadly, I expected those Muslims who consider themselves "peace-loving" to react as they have, too. Overtly or through inaction, too many of them support the maniacal elements of their religion. Imagine how they would have howled if Israel had kidnapped two Palestinians: they would have called for Tel Aviv to be nuked. But when the Israelis take action to get back their own soldiers, they are "agressors."

So now the lines are drawn. While combatants and civilians are dying in Lebanon and the bloodthirsty Hezbollah direct rocket attacks at Israeli civilians, the political hacks of the world babble on about "diplomacy."

The issue, as it always has been, is that the Muslims will never tolerate a Jewish state. Never. Even though their own nations are, by and large, just as artificial as Israel. Even though some of them make pious pronouncements about Jews being "brothers."

Unless and until, the Arab/Muslim nations renounce their intent to destroy Israel, and act accordingly, this cycle will repeat itself over and over.

At least until August 22nd. I have a feeling that's the day Iran will announce that is has nuclear weapons, and is prepared to use them against Israel. Or it may not make any announcements and simply fire off a few missles.

Is this the start of World War III? I wouldn't bet against it.

This time, thanks to the self-important fools who run the world today, we may well see carnage on a level that makes Adolf Hitler -- who is, by the way, the idol of the Hezbollah leader -- seem like a small-time shoplifter.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No words

I wish I could explain.

But I can't.

Sorry to waste your time.

Mixed blessing

A few days ago I received a gift from a friend, in the form of a program for mixing audio tracks and cleaning up and remastering old records and tapes. Though fiendishly complex, it is very effective. Once I've figured out all the options it will let me copy all my old vinyl and tape into quality CDs. When the opportunity appears, I'll even be able to make new recordings.

I admit my first thought was a wish that he had laid it on me about three weeks ago, before I sent a number of irreplaceable tapes to another friend for cleanup and transfer to CDs.

But then I ran the necessary cable from audio system to computer and sat down to put this dandy software to work. I now have a long to-do list that must be accomplished before the fun begins:

1. Have turntable serviced because it won't hold its pitch consistently. Also, replace stylus;

2. Buy new cassette deck;

3. New belts, clean-up and possibly new playback heads for reel-to-reel recorder.

4. Forget about having the reel-to-reel serviced. The last time I did that, I was informed that parts are no longer available for it. Buy new/rebuilt machine from reputable company.

Naturally, since none of these are what could be called high-demand consumer items these days, they will blow a hole in my budget slightly larger than the breach that sank the Titanic.

So the software won't get much of a workout until I round up the spondulics to buy/repair the hardware. And I'm still glad I accepted the offer to have the rarest stuff from the collection transferred for me, though the thought of entrusting such fragile material to FedEx filled me with dread, and will continue to do so until it's all safely back here.

Even so, it's a wonderful gift and will be used. Eventually.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another day...

...it was hot again; I can tell you that much. Hobbes knew it as well; amazing how tired a cat can get from doing nothing....

Monday, July 17, 2006

20% chance of rain...

...or so the forecasters say, though experience suggests it will not rain here, but will rain in the desert to the East of us later tonight and tomorrow.

But the clouds have moved in...


...and those who sought protection from the relentless sun may also be dry if it happens to rain...

It’s not the heat...

...okay, yeah, it is the heat. And the humidity, too. Never mind the other stuff.

When it’s hot, and there’s no wind to speak of, it feels as if steam is rising from the ocean. That’s the way it was here for most of the day. The “official” temperature here was supposedly in the mid-upper 80s, but it was 84 inside my office early this afternoon, and well over 90 outside. Some of you might be reaching for your sweaters if it was that chilly where you are, but it’s damn hot for the beach. It leaches the energy out of you.

Not the best weather to be in a bad mood. It was too hot to walk off my tensions, my frustration with the “other stuff” that is taking the joy out of life, my irritation with the world in general; didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

Everyone should be happy that my finger isn’t on The Button today. There would be mushroom clouds....

Sunday, July 16, 2006

He's not gratuitous...

...he's my friend...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Some people...

...send pictures of their cats to this site.

I can't.

Hobbes doesn't look like Der F├╝hrer in the least, as you can see...


He doesn't even look like Uncle Joe Stalin.

He's simply a red cat. No more, no less.

But he's here for me.

And no one else is, including the one who promised to be.

With the world going to hell in the proverbial handbasket, that may not seem terribly important to you.

But it is to me.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Thoughts...

...of closing this journal are in my mind.

I have come to realize how I must appear to those who read here: bitter, selfish, unrealistic in my desires and expectations, full of self-pity and always ready to blame others for my own failures.

The title I chose, so long ago, has become self-fulfilling prophecy.

I can't write about what is in my heart. Even now, I am holding back, afraid of putting down the wrong words.

And when that happens, it's time to go.

I don't know if this is permanent. I'd like to believe it isn't.

But as it stands, I can't enough place enough value on my own thoughts to feel free to share them now.

I wouldn't want to read the story of someone who, when all is said and done, has failed in those areas he considered crucial, essential to his life, who dislikes himself in so many basic ways.

And I won't ask you to.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Today's gratuitous cat photo...

...features this little jailbird....

Saturday, July 01, 2006

After the comb-out...

He hasn't forgiven me completely yet, but he does like being clean and groomed....

Grooming session

Not for me, but for Hobbes, my poor cat. He has suffered for a while from nasty matted chunks of fur that resisted all attempts to comb them out. In part, it happened because he is old, somewhat arthritic, and doesn't clean himself as he should any longer, and partly because I was using the wrong kind of brush on him. It didn't dig out the loose fur close to his skin.

So my friends D. and S. stopped by this afternoon to help me deal with it. S. worked in a veterinary hospitaql before becoming a nurse; she knows a great deal about animal-grooming. D. and I took turns holding the cat while S. worked on him.

It wasn't much fun for any of us. Though he was better-behaved than I expected, the cat did get enormously upset at times, lashing out to bite with snake-fast movements. While on his back -- his stomach was particularly covered in lumps of knotted-up fur -- he would cry out and kick, rabbit-style, and contort himself in an effort to get away.

I was very grateful to S. I'm a total wuss when it comes to doing anything to cause Hobbes any pain, even if it's for his own good; she was a little less moved by his unhappiness.

The whole procedure took more than an hour, and left all four of us -- S., D., the cat and me -- exhausted. We ended up with a small sack full of fur and one unhappy feline, who has spent the rest of the afternoon hiding in the bedroom closet.

The only real casualty was D., who got both a bite and a scratch on his arm. He didn't move quite fast enough when the cat-snake struck. And, even though we trimmed Hobbes's claws before starting in on the fur, even the sawed-off stickers can still leave a hefty scratch.

I'll have to vacuum the living room again; even though I ran the Hoover across the carpet just this morning, there's plenty of loose fur scattered around now.

But Hobbes looks much, much better. And will look better still when a few patches where S. had to trim close to the skin fill out again.

In fact, he has just come into this room, demanding dinner. I reached down to pet him. He's still shedding....

He just does that to be difficult, I'm sure.