March 25, 2004

Curmudgeonly & Skeptical.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:41 pm

Rodger is having trouble with his new web service. So, until he gets things sorted out, he can be found bobbing around in his cyber lifeboat here.

Blog Merger.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:09 pm

As we know, Jay of Jay Solo’s Verbosity and Deb, of The Accidental Jedi merged their lives by getting hitched. Now, they have gotten around to merging their blogs by creating Accidental Verbosity.

Stop by to say hello, and be sure to make all the necessary bookmark and blogroll adjustments.

Boys State.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:57 pm

American Legion Logo.gifAs I did last year, tonight I was honored to serve as one of the six judges in the competition to select delegates to attend this year’s New Jersey Boys State. This year, there were eleven candidates (all recommended by their high school guidance counselors) competing to be among the five delegates that our American Legion Post will send to Boys State this summer.

Each boy had to select a question from the many that had been prepared in advance by the judges and placed into a hat. If the boy was not comfortable with his first choice, he was permitted to select another question. All the questions were open-ended and dealt with current events. Once a question was selected, the candidate had to face the judges and speak extemporaneously for up to two minutes.

It was made clear to the boys that there are no “right” answers. Rather, they were instructed that they would be judged on their speaking ability and the extent to which they addressed the question in a logical and persuasive way.

Not surprisingly, all the boys were nervous, but every one of them rose to the occasion. It was gratifying to see eleven American boys of all races doing their best to win a spot in a program dedicated to teaching them the fundamentals of local, county and state government. I could not help contrasting these boys with the sickening photograph in today’s newspaper of a Palestinian teenager wearing a suicide bomber’s vest. Clearly, we have it right, and they have it wrong.

Some things really are just that simple.

Nichts Neues.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:30 am

Too much Life 101 yesterday to permit blogging. Today may be more of the same. We’ll see how it goes.

Oh, yeah. That guy Richard Clark? What an ass.

Update: I realize that I misspelled the ass’s name, which should be spelled “Clarke.”

Parkwaye Reste Stope regretse thee errore.

March 23, 2004

Recollections of a Former Bingo Caller.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:14 pm


The volume and the anger obvious in the woman’s voice caused me to pick her out from the sea of several hundred Bingo players who filled the huge room. When she saw that she had gotten my attention, she shouted again, “SHAKE ‘EM UP, DAMMIT!! Only now she was pumping her fist as she shouted.

I smiled and shrugged my shoulders as I pointed down to the clear plastic box in which the fan-driven ping-pong type bingo balls were constantly whirling about, slamming into one another much like the depictions of atomic particles in a nuclear reactor.

She glared at me and hollered again, even louder than before, “SHAKE ‘EM UP FER CHRISSAKE. WHAT THE HELL’S THE MATTER WITH YOU?” Obviously this endearing woman was not convinced that the violent and obviously random movement of the ping-pong balls, much like popcorn in a corn popper, was not adequately mixing them up. She was obviously losing and had satisfied herself that I was just another evil Bingo Caller.

I found myself in the position of being the object of this woman’s anger by virtue of having volunteered to help at the semi-annual Bingo game that our American Legion Post hosts. We are one of the civic organizations that is given the opportunity to “run” one or two Bingo games per year at the local Boy’s club, which the only organization in town with a hall large enough to accommodate several hundred players. There are approximately 16 Bingo games per week at the Boy’s Club, and I have been told that many people play several times per week, sometimes even twice per day.

The vast majority of people who attend these games are women, although there is a fair sprinkling of men, most of whom appear to be accompanying their spouses. In addition (again with a notable number of exceptions), the women who frequent the games tend to be older (i.e. 55 and up).

I remember the first time I volunteered. Before the games began, I remarked that the evening would be interesting – maybe even fun, because, after all, who doesn’t like ladies, most of whom could be your aunt or grandma, depending on your age. One of the guys who had good deal of prior Bingo experience with another organization, heard my remark and said, “Do not, for one second, think that these people are nice, little old ladies. They are hardcore gamblers, and sometimes they are not very nice. I remember dismissing his remark, chalking it up to cynicism.

Well, the “Shake ‘Em’Up” Lady was a great example of what he was talking about. She was just one of the 90% of the players who would sit there for four hours and never win anything, and then blame their lack of success on the poor slob who calls the numbers.

However, not all of them are rotten. Some are just weird. One lady (I swear this is true) used to sit directly in front of me with twelve double cards lined up in two rows in front of her. That means that she was playing 24 bingo games at once. That, in itself, is not terribly unusual. What set this woman apart was that she never used a single Bingo marker. She would just sit back, cross her arms and stare at her cards as I called number after number. Think about that for a minute. Pretty amazing.

One night I could not resist, and I asked her how she could keep track of which numbers had been called on each of 24 separate cards. She told me that it was “easy,” but she conceded that she could only “do it on the easy games” (e.g. one row, horizontal, vertical or a diagonal wins, or four corners wins). She said, “I can’t do with the ‘butterfly, top hat or the star’.” I figure that she was some kind of Bingo savant.

Then there are the superstitions.

I would guess that about half of the people come equipped with their good luck charms. Rabbit’s feet and stuffed animals are popular, as is the practice of lining up pictures of all umpteen of one’s grandchildren. My favorite was the lady who lined up rubber dolls that represented all of the “California Raisins.”

Another oddity is the curious practice of someone ringing a bell or tooting a horn each time the number 66 is called. I think that it is some kind of anti-Satanic thing, but I am not sure.

The players can also be downright mean. The local ordinance requires that there be a police officer present at each Bingo game. Back when I still believed that the players were all nice little old ladies, I thought that the requirement for an on-site police officer was a bit much. However, on more than one occasion, we had to call upon the police officer to separate two potential combatants.

There’s something quite unsettling about seeing two overweight 60+ year old ladies screaming at each other on the verge of going to Knuckle City. One night the cop had to physically get between the two grandmas and threaten to throw them both out of the hall. Even after these Poli-Gripped potential pugilists were persuaded to sit down, one of them continued to loudly refer to the other as a “Bitch,” which begat another visit from the man in blue, at which time, he told that that if she didn’t “cut the shit,” she would be arrested. Charming, no?

Finally, these Bingo Badasses are overwhelmingly a humorless bunch. I had originally thought that Bingo players came out on Saturday night for some fun. So, my first time out as a caller, I would occasionally (and I mean very occasionally) make a cutesy remark after reading the number on the ball. It went something like, “I – 33. Hmmm….that’s my age” (I am clearly older than 33). After maybe two or three such remarks over the course of about an hour, one of our guys working the floor walked up to me with a big smile on his face, gesturing that he had to speak with me. So, between the balls, I got up from the Bingo machine and walked to the front of the stage to speak with him.

“What’s up?” I asked.

He said, “A couple ladies complained.”

“Complained about what?” I asked.

He responded, “Let me tell you exactly what one of them said. She said, ‘tell your friend to cut the f***ing comedy and just call the f***ing numbers’.”

I no longer volunteer to work at bingo games, having decided that being a volunteer Bingo Caller is only slightly more rewarding than, say, shoveling shit at the zoo.

Hey lady, I got your Bingo RIGHT HERE!!!

March 22, 2004

Crapped Out.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:35 pm

I worked really late. I ate really late. I sat down at the computer really late, and, even then, I had some non-blogging stuff to work on. Know what this is? kkkkkkkkkk kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk kkkkkkkkkkkkkk

Yep. It’ me nodding off at the keyboard.

Maybe later. We’ll see.

Picture Yourself in a Boat on a River …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 2:11 am

“Johnny in the Sky with Diamonds” must be one of the cuts on this album.

March 21, 2004

Fiddling With Mr. Template.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:38 pm

Earlier today I began a post, but I put it on hold in order to take a shot at fiddling with my template. For most of you, what I was trying to do (insert a working button over there on the left) would be a no-brainer. However, for me, it is a major, nerve shattering undertaking. Here’s how Jimbo, the techno-illiterate, approaches such things.

First, I created a copy of the current version of Mr. Template. I printed it, and then tucked the electronic copy safely away in a Word File as a cyber-life preserver. I then took the printed version and planned my moves with the care of a battlefield commander, which included trying to figure out what “div” and “div class side” means. Relying on some HTML information gleaned from the web, I carefully created the code that I was certain would produce the desired result. I wrote the Jimbo Code into a separate Word document. I’m thinking, at this point, my shit is clean.

After staring at the code for a while and comparing it with other examples of similar code in Mr. Template, I was satisfied that I had it right. I took a deep breath and copied my HTML masterpiece into the template.

Of course it didn’t work. What I saw on the site was my code all highlighted as if it were a link. No button. Time to regroup.

I fooled with it a bit more and finally got the button to appear, but the button was not clickable. More regrouping.

After a few more tries, I was faced with the obvious signs of my inadequacy, namely that damned symbol for an image that failed to load. I was running out of time, as I had to leave to hang with the Usual Suspects, so I tried deleting everything I had added.

No good. The site still displayed the failed image icon — public proof of my incompetence. Now, completely out of patience (and out of time), I decided to delete the entire template and paste in the copy of Mr. Template that I had saved earlier. I did that, and when I clicked on “view your site,” I got a blank screen. HOLY CRAP!!!!! This was my worst nightmare.

I tried “rebuilding” my main index. Still a white screen. Oh shit.

I then “rebuilt” the entire site. I was on the edge of my seat while everything slowly “rebuilt.” Fortunately, that seemed to get me back to where I was before I started diddling with the template.

I think I know what I may have done wrong, but it will take a day or so for me to have the nerve and the time to screw around again with Mr. Template.

For those of you who make major changes to your sites with the ease of changing socks, I can only quote Bobby Baccala on the Sopranos when he told Uncle Junior, “I am in ‘ore’ of you.”

March 20, 2004

President Darren.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 6:53 pm

TL Hines brings us another installment in the Dark Horse Dialogues series, in which he interviews presidential candidates who are, to say the least, long shots. Check out the interview with Darren Karr, a resident of Oregon, the Head of Party X, and candidate for the presidency.

Hmmmm….Oregon…..Maybe Cousin Jack will hop off the Kerry Bandwagon to vote for an Oregonian.

Blue Star in the Window.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:32 pm

I shamelessly lifted this image from Trying to Grok, where Sarah has proudly displayed it on the right sidebar of her site. I hadn’t seen one of these in years.

The symbol was very popular in World War II, when it was displayed in the window of virtually every home that had a family member in service. Some windows would bear two, three or four stars. The blue star was exchanged for a gold one if a family member died in service (hence, the organization of “Gold Star Mothers”).

Unbeknownst to me, my mother put such a sign in our front window the day I left to report to the Army, and she did not take it down until I returned home for good. I had forgotten that she had put the sign up, and I recall being flooded with emotion when, upon my return, she kissed me on the cheek, walked into the living room and took the sign down.

I like the idea, and I wish that everyone with a family member in service would put up the sign. That way we would more easily know who the people are who are deserving of an extra helping of respect and admiration.

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