h o m e 't o o n s w o r d s c a m s t u f f r a d i o   f r e e   d o g p a t c h





daily dog archives 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002


By Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media

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The check's in the mail

  Hillary Clinton may be painting herself as the candidate with the experience, but some say their experience with the candidate has been less than positive. Seems Hils hasn't been paying her bills. Sure wish I could get away with that. Maybe I should try running for president.

  Meanwhile, spring is in the air here in Bibleburg, and the rare Blue-eyed Albino Tree Weasel surveys his domain from the crotch of a neighbor's ash. Spring in these parts means a wild oscillation between heat and cold, with blustery winds that rattle the windows and make everyone cranky. There are remedies for this, of course, and I'm enjoying a glass of one right now.

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The Good News Department

  At age 87, Al Jaffee is still cranking out the fold-ins for Mad magazine — a feature he's been doing since 1964. Check out this nice writeup from the usual gang of idiots at The New York Times.

  For more Sunday funnies, see Ron Powers' review of "The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America," by David Hajdu.

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Groucho Marxism takes root in the People's Republic and elsewhere

  Whatever has become of the People's Republic of Boulder? They're dying poodles pink and shooting cats for the pure hell of it. Place nearly makes Bibleburg appear civilized by comparison. We just shoot each other around here. And we do it from moving vehicles, which adds an element of sport.

  Speaking of shooting folks from moving vehicles, the Cheerleader-in-Chief says Iraq is returning to "normalcy," which means the Iraqi army and police are standing on the sidelines while U.S. troops using Bradleys, drones, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters take over the mission of croaking Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's political enemies. Fighting has spread elsewhere in Normalcy, according to The Washington Post, despite al-Maliki's generous offer to buy rival militiamen's weapons with our money. Offer good only until April 8; some restrictions may apply. But if you act now, we'll throw in this lovely set of Ginsu beheading knives and a Canon ZR-500 videocamera suitable for recording your next act of jihad against the infidel.

  Late update: I'm a little late to the party on this one, but it appears that John "Mr. Strait Jacket" McCain has hired someone from "The Daily Show" (or the Ministry of Truth) to handle his campaign ads for the general election. Watch and cringe. It recalls the old Firesign Theatre bit from "How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere At All":

What's it all about, Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Smith from Anytown, USA?
Well, it's about this long
And about that wide
And about this country
About which we're singin' about:
I was born ... an American!
I was raised ... an American!
And I'll die ... an American!
In America, with Armenians!

  And finally, just because we can, here's Dan Froomkin on Bush's simplistic vision. He's too gentle with the sonofabitch, but it's a start.

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Today in history

  When I was born, on March 27, 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of the United States and warning against intervention in Vietnam, where the Viet Minh were busy kicking the shit out of the French at Dien Bien Phu. RCA had just manufactured the first color TV ($1,000 for a 12-inch screen), just in time for the introduction of the TV dinner by Gerry Thomas. And Ed Murrow was putting the old leather to Joe McCarthy, who would later be condemned 67-22 by the Senate for "conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute."

  All in all, 1954 was quite a year, according to Wikipedia. In addition to the debut upon the world stage of Your Humble Narrator, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had been hitched for about two months; the Hudson Motor Car Co. and Nash-Kelvinator Corp. had just merged to form the American Motors Corp.; and the first nuclear sub, USS Nautilus, had been launched. A few days later, in April, the Fender Stratocaster would be released, and Bill Haley and the Comets would record "Rock Around the Clock."

  In 1954, Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile; the Boeing 707 and the B-52 Stratofortress took their maiden flights; the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Brown v. Board of Education; the words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance; food rationing ended in Britain; the last new episode of "The Lone Ranger" was aired on radio and the first Miss America pageant broadcast on TV; and Texas Instruments announced the first transistor radio.

  And on Nov. 23, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.27 points, or 0.86 percent, closing at all all-time high of 382.74 — the first time the Dow had surpassed its 1929 peak level reached just before that year's crash.

  We now return you to 2008, which is already in progress.

  Late update: I had planned the usual mileage-based-on-years bike ride, but today proved a tad windy and chilly, so instead of a 54-mile spin I settled for 90 minutes of dicking around on a 'cross bike in Palmer Park. Maybe this means I'll live to be 90. Maybe it means I'm a pussy. Later, Herself and I went out to birthday dinner at Vallejo's, a pleasant little family joint I'd forgotten about, no doubt because it serves no booze. Still, the food is solid, and the booze can be had at home — in this case, some Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Herradura Añejo tequila to take the sting out of No. 54. Dessert was "Richard Pryor Live! In Concert" from 1979, nearly 30 years ago, when the man was at the height of his powers.

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Incoming!

  Hillary Clinton is full of shit. Hell, I knew that when I was with the 7th Cav in the Ia Drang Valley, biting the heads off VC. Huh? What do you mean, the record indicates that I was attending seventh grade on Randolph AFB outside San Antonio, Texas, in November 1965? You have pictures, too? Gosh, seems I misspoke.

  John McCain is also full of shit. Difference is, as Kevin Drum at Political Animal notes, he gets away with it. As one reader reminds us in comments, Alfred E. "Worry" Bush got away with talking out of his ass during his first run for the White House, too. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

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Zero to 60 in 24 hours

  This is one of the reasons I don't flee this blood-red state like a rat ditching a flaming landfill. It can snow and be stupid cold one minute and sunny and 60 the next. Tights and long-sleeves on Sunday, shorts and wife-beater T on Monday. Fat city.

  I spent too much of today indoors, alas, straining to squeeze out an editorial cartoon for VeloNews, shopping for various essentials (coffee, wine) and handling other chores. Turkish, a.k.a. Mighty Whitey the Blue-Eyed Bully of Bibleburg, enjoyed his day in the sun, though, murdering a bird for no good reason that I can think of, as he had a full dish of cat food in the kitchen. Don't tell Herself.

  This being a birthday month — in addition to Avery, Queen of the Foodies, Herself, myself, Steve the Dude and my burro-racing pal Hal all are March babies — I decided to treat myself to another pointless purchase to keep the consumer economy limping along: a Flip Video Ultra Series miniature camcorder.

  The Flip Ultra is a cute little bugger; speaking of Hal, from the front it kinda reminds me of the ubiquitous, murderous, monocular computer from "2001: A Space Odyssey." The Flip Ultra records 60 minutes of video as Advanced Profile MPEG4 AVI files, which you can edit using software on the camera. You can also plug it straight into your laptop, using a nifty USB dongle that flips out from one side at the flick of a slider, and hack away with iMovie HD or whatever.

  The camera powers up in about three seconds and is easier to use than a House Republican. The wiseguys from Pure Digital took a page from the Black Turtleneck Mob's playbook on this one, with hip, smart packaging, a practically brain-dead ease of operation and a variety of eye-catching colors (as you can see, I went for black to match my aura).

  David Pogue of The New York Times practically wet himself over the Flip. And while it has its downsides (its production isn't exactly Cecil B. DeMille, but then my iMovie chops also leave something to be desired), it's a really cheap date. Stuff it in a pocket and take it everywhere. You lose it — so what? Buy 'em by the sixpack, in different colors so you can accessorize with whatever you're wearing. Annoy your friends and neighbors with impromptu spy-cam exposés of their peccadillos. Send video tirades to the White House, just in case Homeland Security hasn't gotten around to installing HAL in your home yet while you're out shopping for chardonnay, hemp thongs and Volvos.

  Use this as your inspiration: The sequel to my cult classic "Bad Cat," titled (wait for it) "Bad Cat: The Sequel."

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The Easter Bunny better be a snowshoe hare

  The weather wizards were pretty close to spot-on for a change. We've got about three inches piled up here in Bibleburg, but as per usual there's nothing to shovel. Too warm last night, and the sidewalks and streets appear clear from my vantage point indoors, where the furnace is.

  I stayed up late last night, pushing pixels around and enjoying a nightcap or two, when an epiphany arrived: What if my Mail issues with Hostcentric are related to my penchant for running ancient software? The old G4 Power Mac runs OS X 10.3.9 and thus an elderly version of Mail. So I fired up the MacBook (OS X 10.4.10), ran its version of Mail and voila! My e-mail downloaded without issue. "Oho," thinks I, "the pootbutts at Hostcentric have crosswired their heads to their asses and as a consequence harmless Luddites must suffer."

  So this morning I pour a thick, black cup of mud, plunk down at the G4 and download the latest copy of Mozilla's Thunderbird. Bingo. E-mail downloads without issue. Go figure.

  Anyway, long story short, I'm rethinking the move to Blogger/WordPress as long as I can still get mail via Hostcentric, regardless of their ineptitude. Changing e-mail addresses as we charge into the meat of the spring classics would cause me no end of heartache on the job. Plus some of you seem less than eager for a stripped-down version of The Daily Dog, and I'm kinda used to doing things my own way, even when that way sucks. So stay tuned.

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If April showers bring May flowers . . .

  . . . then what the hell does a March snowstorm bring? Rapid-fire profanity? Muddy trails? Hard-frozen Easter eggs? I'll let you know tomorrow, because it's bucketing down here, and the weather wizards say we could have as much as four sloppy inches on the ground by the time You-Know-Who has rolled away his stone only to see Jimmy Dobson standing outside the crypt with a shit-eating grin and a business proposal.

  Herself dragged me, kicking and screaming, to a multiple-personality birthday party tonight. I wanted to hang out here in the old nerve center, playing with pixels, gargling Frog tonsil polish and committing libel, but nothing doing. A couple of former colleagues at Short Bus Community College have March birthdays, as do we, and since we're all foodies a potluck was in order.

  Avery is our Queen and did most of the heavy lifting (a top-shelf, totally-from-scratch lasagna bolognese, a delicious dip whose ingredients I can't recall, the wine-buying and the hosting, with boyfriend Brandon); Steve contributed some freshly baked bread that made me wish I'd brought some butter along for the ride so we could eat the entire sonofabitch in the car; Tina, Brandon's mom, supplied her signature artichoke dip; and I concocted a roasted bell pepper salad from Giada de Laurentiis' "Everyday Italian" cookbook, a venture into uncharted culinary waters that had me standing outside in the falling snow in sweatpants, Wallace Beery shirt and Western Pack-Burro ASSociation cap, roasting red, yellow and orange peppers on the grill. No wonder the neighbors give me sidelong glances.

  Anyway, I had fun against my will. I feel so violated.

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Name your poison

  OK, boys and girls, I believe I'm gonna put this ol' dog down, save myself a few bucks and a whole shitload of aggravation, and toddle on over to either Blogspot or Wordpress. Blogspot seems the simplest of the two, the more intuitive, but maybe that's because I've been dicking around with it more. I'll try to cross-post to both for a while until I get some domain-name issues and other niggling pains in the ass beaten into a bloody heap, and I'd appreciate your comments on which of the sites seems most useful to you. Haw. "Useful." Mama, lookit the funny man. Anyway, if you find yourself all beered up with nothing better to do, shoot me a note at maddogmedia (at) gmail (dot) com, or add a comment to one of my posts at the new sites.

  Meanwhile, thanks for all of your comments on the new op'. Today will be a busy one in the old VeloNews.com barrel, but over the weekend, I'm going to try to give a little more oomph to this site's WordPress cousin, if only because Herself is working on a blogging project and requires input, no matter how defective the source (that would be me, not you, for the sensitive among the readership). Meanwhile, anonymous comments have been enabled so those of you without Google accounts can send me NastyGrams® (sorry about that oversight).

  In other news, Big Brother is indeed watching; the NYT's Paul Krugman reminds us that not only have we learned nothing from Vietnam, we have forgotten the lessons of the Great Depression; Bill Richardson finally climbs down off the fence and endorses Obama; and Schlock Racing gets the extended middle digit from the Tour de Georgia, just, y'know, ’cause. There's more than you need to know on VeloNews.com for more on that one today. The barrel beckons.

  Late update: Good Lord. If I wanted to work, I'd get a job. I barely managed to sneak out for a short run in Palmer Park between bouts of posting this, that and the other. The park isn't nearly as gooey as I figured it would be, but there are still plenty of squishy spots in the shade, so all you body-armored boneheads stay the hell away until things dry out. I don't wanna be tripping over your petrified tire tracks come June. Spread your spoor in Pueblo, where it was spring during winter.

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The mail's in the mail. Yeah, right

  Anybody out there want to recommend a solid website-hosting service? I'm about up to here with these Hostcentric yahoos. In recent weeks, this site has inexplicably gone dark (along with Hostcentric's own site); FTP has been problematical; and sending and receiving e-mail has been spotty. My e-mail has been sideways for 24 hours now, and I've enjoyed about as much of their "customer service" as I can stand. Send your recommendations to me at maddogmedia (at) gmail (dot) com, please.

  Elsewhere on this, the first day of spring, Astana's woes continue — no Tour de France for you, Johan old boy. Slipstream-Chipotle is in, though. Good on you, Jonathan Vaughters. Keep an eye out for wasps at this year's race, OK?

  Late update: Thanks for all your hosting recommendations, y'all. I'll peek in their windows and get back to you. In the meantime, since the sonsabitches at Hostcentric have not done me the courtesy of replying to my last NastyGram®, I may just shift camp over to Blogger, since I know so many jabberjaws in that neck of the woods. I'm test-driving the sumbitch as we speak, and your comments/criticisms will be welcomed. Be forewarned: I'm thinking in terms of simplification.

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War Is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

  This morning, Gen. George Armstrong Bush (Lone Star Air Farce, ret.) sang us that same, sour song he loves so much — the war was a swell idea, Little Big Surge is working, and Iraq is a fabulous success story, not nearly as expensive as some would have us believe five years after he picked the bloody fight that left 4,000 of our countrymen dead and another 40,000 wounded. His aide-de-camp, Dickless Cheney, he of the multiple Vietnam deferments and the bottomless contempt for the citizens he is supposed to serve, has once again linked the neocons' spendid little adventure to the September 11 attacks and called it "a difficult, challenging, but nonetheless successful endeavor."

  They are both liars.

  The war has largely slipped off the front pages and nightly newscasts, though it will resurface briefly today, the fifth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq. The New York Times' Baghdad bureau has collected some thoughts from reporters, photographers, troops and Iraqis, alongside an interactive timeline of major events in the war. Reuters has its own interactive examination of the past five years. Mother Jones offers what it calls a "greatest hits" roundup of its special reports on the war. Democracy Now is covering the Winter Soldier Hearings, at which soldiers gave their accounts of their service in Iraq. PBS is pushing a two-part documentary dubbed "Bush's War," which won't air until next week. McClatchy Newspapers' Washington bureau recounts the decline in U.S. power and prestige and the appalling lack of the most basic services in Baghdad, and notes that once again, the U.S. military finds itself learning a painful, costly lesson: You don't fight low-rent insurgencies using the conventional tools so dear to the heart (and bank account) of the military-industrial complex, a lesson Americans taught the British during our own Revolutionary War.

  If this is success, I'd hate to see a failure.

  Five years and $500 billion down the loo later, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who has fought to see Cheney impeached in order "to hold him accountable for his numerous misdeeds in relation to this war" asks the right question, then partially answers it: "(W)hat have we gained for all of our sacrifices in Iraq? Today, we are more vulnerable then ever with a rebuilding Al Qaeda, a resurgent Iran, and a totally destabilized Iraq."

  Well, if you believe Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes, we've picked up a $3 trillion tab, most of it borrowed; it's the second most expensive war in our history, just behind World War II.

  And what are we doing about it? Some of are protesting, but the numbers are estimated to be in the hundreds rather than the tens of thousands, in large part because nobody is being drafted. The rest of us are fretting over our own dark little corners of the crumbling economy, running March Madness office pools and tsk-tsking over Eliot Spitzer.

  And we're also deciding, kinda, sorta, who gets the honor of cleaning up this mess when The Cowboy-in-Chief goes back to Crawford and starts picking through his comic books, deciding which ones will be suitable for his presidential library. The pool of would-be janitors is neither deep nor encouraging. The worst of the lot is John McCain, the guy selling himself as the candidate with the big foreign-policy brain, who showed the world during a "fact-finding visit" to Iraq that he doesn't know the main players in the Iraq insurgency. After a series of misstatements, he finally had to be corrected by Joe Lieberman (D-Whorehouse), who should be stuffed into a sack full of famished leeches and dropped into a sewage lagoon.

  If you're looking for answers here, you won't find any. Only questions. Like, how many more of my neighbors will die, or come home broken in mind and body? A 19-year-old kid I know will graduate from boot camp next week. His mom hopes he gets to go to Texas for medical training, as agreed upon during enlistment. But like the rest of us, she's heard too many stories about promises unkept over the past five years.

  This just in: If you've sent an e-mail my way and are wondering why I haven't obliged with the usual witty, incisive reply, or even a stupid, offensive one, it seems Hostcentric has blown a fuse, tripped over the cord or squashed the hamster — I haven't been able to retrieve mail all day (the brownshirts at Homeland Security are slow readers). If you're desperate for my negative attention, try maddogmedia at gmail dot com.

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Clarke finally leaves Earth

  Arthur C. Clarke, the author of "Childhood's End," a favorite book from my own childhood, has died at age 90. All told, according to The New York Times, he wrote or collaborated on close to 100 books, translated into some 40 languages. He never made it into outer space, but he took a lot of us there, and our planet is the poorer for his passing. I still have a raggedy-ass copy of "Childhood's End" — a 75-cent Ballantine Books paperback from 1969 — so maybe I'll take a trip down memory lane tonight, watch Clarke write the human race's obituary a year before I was born.

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Happy St. Paddy's Day

  Bibleburg held its St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday, and this year the cops didn't even kick the shit out of any peaceniks. Go figure. Maybe with the fifth anniversary of Gen. George Armstrong Bush's splendid little war on the horizon, even the fuzz is starting to get a little weary of pointless violence.

  Elsewhere, John Wilcockson has penned a piece on the end of an era — the absorption of Inside Communications, publisher of VeloNews, by Competitor Group Inc. He generously notes my own miserable contributions to the op' over the years, from the first cartoon in March 1989 to my current part-time role as editorial cartoonist and "online editor at large" with the Web edition, VeloNews.com.

  Frankly, it feels kinda weird. Co-founder and former CEO Felix Magowan scribbled a note on my most recent check, thanking me for my help over the years and noting (wistfully, it seemed) that it would be the last one he'd ever sign. Hope it's not the last one I ever get. I have Guinness and whisky to buy.

  Meanwhile, doesn't matter how much green you're wearin' today, any exposed tissue is gonna be blue. It's right at freezing here in Bibleburg with a wind out of the south and snow in the forecast. Turkish, a.k.a. Mighty Whitey, Turkenstein, The Turkinator, Big Pussy, et al., is suffering through a vile case of cabin fever and acting like Petronius the Arbiter, loudly insisting on inspecting both front and back doors to see whether one is the door into summer. He's even infected Mia Sopaipilla, who slipped past me and out into the snow yesterday as I was snapping the pic below. I had to yank her out from under an ice-sheathed bush, much to the detriment of my sweatpants.

  Late update: Spring is out there somewhere. A woodpecker is doing drum solos on our aluminum chimney cap — sounds like Dickless Cheney shooting caged doves with a Ruger Mini-14 on some wealthy benefactor's ranch — and yesterday's snow is already history. The NWS is talking temps in the 60s by Thursday. Maybe I didn't shave my legs for nothing after all.

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Pant, gasp, wheeze

  OK, awright, so I missed a few days there. Your rebate check is in the mail. Don't spend it all in one place.

  Got caught up in working the VeloNews.com site during Paris-Nice, throwing my back out and mostly not getting my work done on time for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, whose management is equally swamped and thus likely to be vexed with me. Today's final stage was a real barn-burner, with Luis-León Sanchez taking off on a downhill and just rippin' it to the finish. It was scary to watch over the Internet — I can only imagine what it must've looked like from behind the handlebars. Dude really let it all hang out.

  Speaking of letting it all hang out, the dope cops descended upon Quick Step's Kevin Van Impe on Saturday as he prepared for the funeral of his newborn son at a crematorium, demanding that he provide a urine sample or risk suspension. "He wouldn't even come back later in the day. It was either do it right on the spot or it would be taken as if I had refused," said van Impe, whose son Jayden died just six hours after his premature birth.

  I'd have given the asshole a sample, all right. He'd have needed a shower and a change of clothing afterward, but he'd have gotten what he came for, and what he deserved.

  And speaking of pissing, that's what it's been doing here in Bibleburg all day today — pissing down rain and snow and bloody stones and frogs and hailstones the size of gay Honda Elements, or maybe just rain and snow. It's like living inside a snow globe in a perpetual state of agitation; there is neither accumulation nor cessation. I would sell a healthy organ (not mine, of course, but someone's) for a week of 70-degree temperatures and no work. Whoops, just had one of those, and it didn't help.

  Late update: One of my fellow Online Ramblers, DCup84 of the fine blog PolitTits, has some real weather to blog about. Seems she and the clan got caught up in the Georgia tornadoes, which make a little poot snowstorm look like a mouse fart. Here's her latest.

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Hi, I'm Noah and welcome to live coverage of Paris-Nice

  The velo-gods are angry with the pro peloton for defying the UCI's edict shunning Paris-Nice — it's pissing down rain on stage one today. Between the water and the wind, dudes are falling off all over the place. Somewhere, Pat McQuaid is doing shooters of Bushmills with Guinness backs and muttering, "Feckin' serves the feckers right so."

  Speaking of feckers, it would seem that New York governor Eliot Spitzer has been having more fun than was good for him, as in frolicking with a top-shelf flatbacker. Thanks for giving the family-values nutbags something to screech about this election cycle, Eliot old man. And learn how to sleep with your eyes open. The wife looks a tad crazed.

  While we're on the topic of boundaries best left uncrossed, it seems the Vatican has been dicking around with the Seven Deadly Sins. Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride apparently aren't enough for the modern age — which could open up some new territory, because I burned through all of those old chestnuts before graduating high school, and if I'm going to Hell I don't want to wind up in the geriatric section of the Lake of Fire. But this new list looks like some lame marketing jabber to me:

1. "Bioethical" violations such as birth control
2. "Morally dubious" experiments such as stem cell research
3. Drug abuse
4. Polluting the environment
5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
6. Excessive wealth
7. Creating poverty

  For starters, the last three are the same thing. So we're down to four noobs. I haven't seen a list of the Vatican's holdings lately, so I'm not certain about the bullshit factor in No. 4, but I'll cut the pope some slack on that one, assuming he's not chucking any empties out of the PopeMobile during road trips, which brings me to No. 3 — unloading all the vineyards and distilleries, are we? As to No. 2, I'd say the church and its allegedly celibate clerics are a few millennia late to the party celebrating what's "morally dubious." And as regards No. 1, well, if there's anything less "bioethical" than creating more little soldiers for the pope in places where the rations are a tad thin . . . how'bout we stick with the Original Seven, eh? They pretty much cover all the bases.

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Was I ever really in Arizona?

  Seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, probably because I was wearing three jerseys, heavy-duty leg warmers, toe covers, a tuque and my winter gloves on today's 'cross-bike ride into the Air Farce Academy and back with O'Stank and Dennis the Menace. O, Lord.

  Took the Jamis Supernova on its maiden cruise yesterday, rolling up the path to Woodmen and back, making subtle corrections to saddle height, angle and fore-aft placement en route. Not a bad bike, not bad at all, though not as light as Jamis would have you believe — this thing ain't no 18.5 pounds even without the pedals, a pair of burly Time ATACs from last century. But the ride quality is good, and the SRAM Rival drivetrain a refreshing departure from thousand-year-old STI, though 10-speed anything, no matter how crisp the shifting in pristine weather, is retarded on a 'cross bike destined for the sort of conditions that delight swine. The cogset looks like a pine cone, f'chrissakes.

  The sloping top tube threw me in picking a frame size, too; I probably should've gone for the 58cm over the 56cm, which like my 54cm Soma Double Cross is a tad short for me, as are the 172.5mm FSA Gossamer cranks. The combination of smaller frame and oversize tubes will give me trouble come time to shoulder this rascal (low-profile bottle-cage bolts are indicated).

  Other nits worth picking: The Selle San Marco Ponza saddle, with its roughened center stripe, snatches a death grip on your shorts during remounts; and the Kore Cross Race brake pads take some breaking in to be actual stoppers instead of mere speed modulators. I think I get a little more oomph out of 'em using the Salsa sissy levers I had installed than when using the Rival levers.

  Thoughtful touches: The cable hangers worked into seat collar and headset, and the multitudinous cable adjusters easily reached from the saddle. And the Vittoria Cross XG tires hook up nicely in our gravelly conditions; I always liked Vittoria sewups, but haven't ridden 'em in years, sticking mostly to Michelin Jets.

  These are initial thoughts only, based on a 90-minute ride. No doubt other pluses and minuses will strike me as I get a little more saddle time in. And next time I go bike shopping I'll try one on for size before I place the order, since I clearly have no idea what the hell I'm doing without a hands-on experience.

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Who loves ya, baby? Muah!

  Is it just me, or is winning the endorsement of George W. Bush in the 2008 presidential election akin to getting a sloppy tongue kiss from Typhoid Mary at your bachelor party? I'm running for president, this dude has marks all over his dumb ass where I'm poking him with a 10-foot pole. And if Clinton keeps talking this kind of shit she's gonna need a Plexiglas belly button so she can see where she's going in future. Toward that end, The Chicago Tribune gives us a peek at her commander-in-chief résumé here.

  Elsewhere, the UCI and ASO are in the final seconds of the lightning round in their hit series, "Who Has the Biggest Dick?" Tape measures are employed, points raised regarding girth versus length, and arguments made for using the difference between flaccidity and tumescence. But it all boils down to a bunch of guys playing with their dicks.

  Mark Twain once noted: "In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards." If only Twain had lived to see the UCI and ASO bumpin' dickheads. I've covered school boards, and they are the Lincoln-Douglas Debates compared to this crowd. The never-ending political drama is sucking all the oxygen out of the sport, to the point where I can't even toss off a simple rant any more. It's just not funny. Following pro cycling has become not unlike watching your high-school heartthrob working the streets at $5 a throw, with scabby knees, no teeth and a crack habit that makes the DoD budget look like spare change.





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Rode hard and put away wet

  What's wrong with this picture? At left, we see Tuesday morning in Arizona; at right, Thursday morning in Colorado. If I were so inclined, I could shuffle through the snow to the garage and find a cyclo-cross bike with desert dust on the downtube. But I am not, as it's all of 10 degrees out there. March is showing distinctly lionlike qualities here in Bibleburg.

  No such problems in Fountain Hills. I started exactly one ride with arm warmers, but quickly yanked them off and stuffed them in a jersey pocket. The drill was as follows: Arise, make and consume coffee, and go for a 45-minute trail run; next, eat breakfast, tidy up the campsite, and take a brisk 'cross-bike ride on whatever trail combo seemed best suited to the legs. Pemberton was pretty much a daily staple, with odds and ends of the Granite and Bluff trails thrown in as connectors; runs took in Granite, Bluff, Scenic and Wagner.

  Despite the destructive Early-February rains, all the trails remained rideable on a 'cross bike, with the exception of the Long Loop at the Competitive Track, which was a hell of a lot rockier than I remembered from my last go-round there in 2006, even more so than the uphill west-northwest leg of Pemberton, just past Tonto Tank to Dixie Mine. I was off the bike more often than Frank Vandenbroucke.

  As in 2007, a snowstorm chased me home from Santa Fe, glazing Raton Pass like a Krispy Kreme and erasing all memory of the morning's sunny soak at Ten Thousand Waves, where the public tub was full of lovely persons of the female persuasion for a change (probably because a massive expansion project had delayed the opening of the women-only tub). The storm was one of those sleety deals that makes you want to replace your windshield wipers with machetes. Every time an 18-wheeler passed me the windshield went completely opaque for a few hairy moments while the wipers flailed away at the flash-frozen slush. Big big fun.

  I shunned all forms of news during my sojourn in the desert, confining my media ingestion to a nightly dose of classical music from KBAQ and a single poaching of wi-fi from outside the Octagon Cafe in Fountain Hills to download a couple hundred emails, which I did not read. Sorry 'bout that. But I see the world was up to the usual shenanigans during my absence.

  The Donks are eagerly cannibalizing themselves while Mr. Strait Jacket enjoys yet another tasty weenie feast served up by The Decider ("Secret sauce with that, John? Bwaaah ha ha ha ha ha." Gas prices are inching toward that $4-per-gallon mark of which the Numbnuts-in-Chief claims to be unaware (this I already knew, having seen regular on sale for $3.53 outside Fort McDowell). And pro cycling is falling apart faster than a Wal-Mart bike.

  Sheeyit. I shoulda stayed in Arizona.

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Leap Day, Chinese New Year and Super Tuesday II

  Well, no, not really. You'll have to wait until tomorrow for the full recap, after I have unpacked, sixpacked and kicked back. For now, I'll just note that there was no snow in McDowell Mountain Regional Park outside Fountain Hills, Arizona.

  The campground and its surrounding trails both were a good deal more crowded than in previous years. And thanks to heavy rain in early February, the washes were scooped a little deeper, the sandy bits and rocky stretches a little more extensive and challenging. For a guy on a cyclo-cross bike, this means picking a line and then pretending you don't care what happens to you, hoping to fool the planet into giving you a free pass instead of a trip to the ER for what you did to the ozone layer with your teenage fondness for inhalants.

  But the temps were in the 70s and 80s and the sun was out, which made it very much unlike Bibleburg, where Herself reported flurries, highs far below my lows, and a head cold. So I stayed gone, running in the mornings and riding in the afternoons, soaking up all the solar radiation I could, knowing that we have a good long while before our own spring arrives.

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On the road again

  Today's forecast was for sunshine and a high in the 50s, but I wasn't fooled and hit the road for Arizona anyway. It was that last greasy little snow that finally did the trick. One quick squint out the window and I was making hotel reservations and bike selections.

  The Jamis was ready, having undergone some last-minute adjustments at the quick hands of Joey Durango (an assortment of stems examined and rejected, saddle raised and lowered, the usual fiddly stuff). But there's something that makes me nervous, vacation-wise, about hauling a brand-new bike 13 hours southwest of a mechanic with whom you are on a first-name basis. A guy could find himself spending his all-too-brief stay in the desert running, and that's just too post-apocalyptic for me.

  The Thule has slots for two bikes, but ferrying them atop a four-cylinder rice-grinder doesn't boost the old gas mileage over long distances, especially during oxygenated-fuel season, and dragging them in and out of secure locations is a pain in the ass, so I eventually settled for Old Reliable, the Steelman Eurocross, and chucked it in the back with the camping gear. Good thing, too, 'cause it was windy as hell on the drive to Santa Fe and I hit town with the "fill 'er up" light lit.

  Stopping at the Allsup's on Cerrillos and Paseo de Peralta was a wake-up call, wallet-wise. Gas in Bibleburg was $2.99, but in Santa Fe, $3.19. Still, who cares? It's always refreshing to see how much of the American West isn't under a Super Wal-Mart yet, and the combo plate at La Choza was worth the trip, even if the Santa Fe Motel & Inn's decor is reminscent of "Twin Peaks."

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Huh? Whuh? Whuzzat?

  Looks like I slept through a week's worth of fun and frolic. Though, of course, I did no such thing. The Amgen Tour and some other chores kept me occupied late into far too many nights and I simply lost interest in airing out my tonsils on this, that and the other. Plenty of other folks doing that, I figured, and if one goes missing no one will notice.

  Plus I took time out to collect a couple of new toys — the first being a cyclo-cross frameset and the other being a complete bike. The frameset is a custom Nobilette*, my first custom ride ever, and I'll try to slap a pic up tomorrow. It's far too pretty to hang old componentry on, so I have to devise some way of getting it rolling without incurring the wrath of She Who Must Be Obeyed. There are unused bits of this and that lying about — some Cane Creek cantis, a front cable hanger and possibly a stem (for a 1-inch steerer yet), a seat post, an Ultegra rear derailleur — so all I'm missing are the pricey bits, like STI shifters, wheels, tires, cassette, bars and so on. I'm doomed.

*I'd link to Mark's site, but it appears he's exceeded his bandwidth, perhaps due to interest from the recently concluded North American Handmade Bike Show in Portland, Oregon.

  The complete bike is a 2008 Jamis Supernova, acquired through a process so astounding I still have trouble wrapping my mind around it (a publisher scored it for me). It violates my steel-is-real edict, being a composite of scandium and carbon, and exceeds the technological speed limit in Dog Country (10-speed SRAM as opposed to the traditional 8-speed Ultegra), but hey — it's a free bike, and I haven't gotten one of those since Brent Steelman laid a Team Clif Bar 'cross frameset on me just 'cause he was (and is) a helluva nice guy.

  The fine folks at Old Town Bike Shop did the final assembly for me (a tip of the Mad Dog propeller beanie to Joey Durango, who had to contend with the usual litany of retarded O'Gradyisms, including reversed brakes, plus sissy levers, and an old-man high-rise stem).

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Zzzzzz . . .

  I'd like to weigh in on Obama beating Clinton like an egg-sucking dog in Wisconsin, Fidel hanging up his red jock as El Jefe in Cuba, and Tornado Tom putting the wood to 'em in the Amgen Tour of California — but I'm too damn' tired. So check back tomorrow.

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No Ball(s)

  Bwaaa ha ha ha ha. After vowing to pull his Rock Racing team from the Amgen Tour of California if organizers didn't let the entire eight-man roster race, Michael Ball slammed it into reverse faster than an Italian tank driver, agreeing to field a five-man squad. Dude needs a backup beeper on those disco denims of his. I think he's starting to realize that cycling has more and bigger bitches than the fashion world. Typically, as when Ball vowed to make better wheels than Hed and take its market share, he told CyclingNews that "maybe we will create our own races one day." Yeah, right. Dude can't even figure out how to register for one, much less run one.

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Acid-reflux flashbacks

  Dreamed last night that Michael Ball was trying to develop a Euro-style snack food for the domestic tifosi — Rock Frites — out of Ruffles potato chips and Miracle Whip. He was making Michael Creed test-drive a plateful of this dreck and Creed was dutifully plowing through it, furtively making faces at me whenever Ball's attention was elsewhere.

  This is what comes of paying an afternoon visit to the VeloNews mothership in the People's Republic and having a too-late dinner. New web editor Steve Frothingham was in the house after a cross-country drive from New Hampshire, and the grunts — me and Charles Pelkey from Laramie — were summoned for a little what-now sitdown going into the Amgen Tour of California, which starts Sunday in Palo Alto. All agreed that we would cover the fucker like a drippy chop-shop paint job, because that's why The Man pays us, so stay tuned to VeloNews.com for your daily racing fix.

  The mothership is a veritable petri dish of flu, so after much hand-shaking and caffeine-fueled, spittle-flecked jabbering it was off to the crapper for a vigorous hands-washing augmented by a disinfectant wipe, followed by the long, slow, hundred-mile drive through Friday-evening traffic to Bibleburg. Herself and I made a late dinner of salad, cheese, cold cuts, bread and wine and caught up on season three of "Lost" (yeah, I know, off the back doesn't begin to describe it). Today I hope to atone for my sins via a nice, long 'cross-bike ride.

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Happy Mass-Produced Greeting Card, Candy & Flowers Day

  Why are we in this garage, and who are the dudes with the tommy guns? Ho, ho. A little Valentine's Day humor for the love-sick consumers out there.

  The cycling world is showing VeloNews.com some love for passing on the news that Amaury Sport Organization has barred Astana from its events, including that little race around Frogland come July. I'm talking hundreds of letters, many, many of them, a few insightful, a larger number simply silly, and a whole bunch of them indicative of severe brain damage stemming from the closed-head injuries common among helmetless cyclists who try to emulate Euro-pros without the requisite skills set.

  Many sniff out a French conspiracy to win their own national tour for the first time since 1985 (I anticipate a renewed drive to rebrand pommes frites as Freedom fries). Others call for the instant creation of an American national tour to replace Le Tour ('cause, y'know, like, putting on a grand tour is both easy and cheap. Have any of these pootbutts ever put on so much as a parking-lot crit? I think not.). Still others are canceling their subscriptions to the print magazine (shooting the messenger).

  C'mon. The ASO-Astana thing is just another part of the escalating gang war over territory between the grand-tour organizers and the UCI. It's venal, and stupid, and pointless, just like a fair share of the rest of the workaday world. But I can't say I see a lot of strategic or tactical brilliance in signing on with the team most tarred with the doping brush in the past couple years. And I'm having a great deal of trouble feeling sorry for the dopeheads — riders, soigneurs, directors and doctors — who have dug this bottomless cesspit that cycling's fans have to take a big whiff of day after day.

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Ash-cana

  Astana will not be racing Le Tour this summer, nor will it be invited to any other ASO events, the race organizers announced today. Here it is, not even Valentine's Day, and two-thirds of the 2007 podium is already out of the race — defending champ Alberto Contador and third-placed Levi Leipheimer.

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Meet the new boss

  One of the outfits that helps keep the lights on here at Dog Central, VeloNews, has been sold — along with the rest of Boulder-based Inside Communications Inc. — to Falconhead Capital, an investment group that's been on an acquisitions tear with a sackful of Dead President Trading Cards. Here's a press release. Here's another.

  I don't know exactly what shape The New Wheeled Ordure will take, though my man Big Jonny at DrunkCyclist is already viewing with alarm. It's gonna be weird not knowing the owners for the first time since March 1989, which is when I started drawing cartoons for the mag', but it's not like a personal relationship with the bosses ever kept them from shitcanning someone. And I only visit about as often as Halley's Comet, anyway. Still, I have a personal interest in doing what I can to help the noobs settle into their comfy chairs. It's called "a mortgage and two car payments." And let's not forget food. Food and booze. Food, booze and bike parts. Food, booze, bike parts and computer gear. Food, booze, bike parts, computer gear and oh my God what the fuck is going on here? Whimper.

  More money would help take a hitch out of the corporate gitalong, without a doubt, and these new people seem to have some. Whether they will immediately begin money-whipping any aspect of the op' is something only they know, but they do appear to be interested in the web side of things, which is where Dogbert gets the bulk of his Krunchies. More as it develops.

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The kitty report continues

  A most excellent day in Bibleburg, especially if you're Mia Sopaipilla, lording it over a ceramic pig, or Turkish (a.k.a Turkenstein, The Turkinator, Mighty Whitey, the Great White Dope, et al.), stretched out in a sunny spot on one of the living-room rugs.

  O'Stank and I got out for 90 minutes of riding the 'cross bikes when it was substantially less sunny (a three-jersey ride) and now laundry is a must, because this time we found both ice and mud. Still, that makes it two days in a row that I've gotten some saddle time in. One more and I'll consider it training. Alas, the weatherman is promising a chance of snow and/or rain for Monday, which in any case is a gym day. But Tuesday and Wednesday look promising.

  Sunday and Monday are also my days in the barrel with the VeloNews.com gang, and this has involved a fair bit of heavy lifting and pointless cursing for so early in the season. Langkawi is going on, as is the Mallorca Challenge, Etoile de Besseges and a bunch of other warm-weather leg-stretchers, and since the old results converter doesn't like the organizers' new results, well — the less said about that, the better.

  Meanwhile, in other bicycle news, Jonathan Maus of bikeportland.org is all over the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Swing by and take a look at all the cool stuff you can't afford. Or maybe that's just me. My old buddy Lo is there with the Soulcraft gang and taunts me at a distance:

"Muchas Lagunitas yesterday. Muchos amigos. Chamucos last night. A Voodoo doughnut in the morning (not made by Joe Murray). Fun photos of Sean's wife Lainie with Lance at the Soulcraft booth (our Nike friend brought him by.) New issue of The Outcast. The NorCal "ghetto" section rocks. Oh yes, time spent on the titanium sofa with Paragon, conveniently next to us. Couldn't be any closer unless it was in our booth. Heh, heh, hey. Way fun."

  Chamucos. Oh, Lord. What my bog-trotting, poteen-distilling ancestors had been striving for, only to settle for whisky and porter. And me stuck here in Bibleburg with the wine-and-wafers crowd. I need to find a sunny spot to stretch out in. Maybe after the Tour of California . . .

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And now, the kitty report

  It has been brought rather forcefully to my attention that some sensitive types have been finding the DogSite a tad, um, dark of late. If they are in fact correct, which I do not concede, I consider it a reflection of our society as a whole rather than any particularly deep-seated psychosis on my part. Spend enough time staring into the toilet, you're bound to encounter a few turds. It's an occupational hazard.

  Nevertheless, even I grow weary of calling the national leadership cashmere bags of runny owlshit, Nazi torturers, batshit crazies and heartless pickpockets. And so, as a change of pace, we have a picture of kitties cuddling. You're welcome.

  In other News of the Mild, I slipped out noonish for a relaxing 90-minute ride on the old Steelman Eurocross, recently disfigured by the addition of a high-rise Ritchey stem to accommodate the ravages of time, lower-back-wise. It was a beautiful day here in Bibleburg, with temps in the 50s and only a hint of wind, and if the weatherman is correct I'll be doing it again tomorrow between stints in the barrel for VeloNews.com. Our man Matt Pacocha is at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Portland, as is my newest bike, which presently is a Reynolds 853 frameset being exhibited by Mark Nobilette. When Mark is done showing it to the webfeet, it will start becoming a Mad Dog machine. I may have to spend money to trick this rascal out, as it's my first custom frameset after many long years of buying off the rack. Dipping into the gack box for this one seems somehow blasphemous.

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Mitt takes one for the team

  "I must now stand aside, for our party and our country," said Mitt Romney. And then his empty suit collapsed on the floor in front of the startled crowd. All that remained of the elegantly coiffed candidate was a whiff of greenish smoke that smelled like the combustion of banknotes in quantity. What a world, what a world.

  Too bad. This guy was the prototypical country-club Republican — a hundred pounds of shit stuffed into a five-pound cashmere sack who assumed more positions than Jenna Jameson. Any Democrat with a pulse, and even a few dead ones, could have kicked his ass to SLC and back with the national economy circling the bowl. But Mister Strait Jacket worries me. The national media have scabs all over their pudgy little knees and calluses on their tonsils from years of giving McCain some sloppy face-lovin'. Had Hillary sung "Bomb Bomb Iran" in front of the teevee cameras, she'd have been labeled a double diesel dyke and in dire need of electroshock before she brayed the last syllable.

  Meanwhile, in bike news, it's official: I'm an old, old man and stiffer than a honeymoon prick. The last single-bolt, 90-degree stem in my stable, the one on my favorite Steelman Eurocross, has been replaced by a 73-degree Ritchey. Oh, the shame. What's next — a recumbent?

  And in News from the Fourth Reich, it appears that Truppenführer Dickolas Von Cheney is defending the use of torture, otherwise known as "harsh interrogation techniques" (surprise, surprise). I've noticed that Truppenführer Cheney is in favor of many things that happen to other, less-well-connected people, such as poverty, disease sans federally funded health care, military service and torture. Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Cheney said: "The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously. We do not torture — it's against our laws and against our values." Cool. Let's waterboard this fat fuck and find out what he knows about war crimes in the Bush administration. He should be OK with it. And for a hard guy like Cheney, it shouldn't be any tougher than a vigorous match of water polo, a game that even a progressive pussy like me has played and survived. Think of it as a sporting event in this Olympic year.

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Bon voyage, Capt. Bike

  Bike-tech guru Sheldon Brown died Sunday, according to his comrades at Harris Cyclery in West Newton, Massachusetts. Colleagues Matt Wiebe, tech editor for Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, and Lennard Zinn, tech writer for VeloNews, have both posted remembrances. A tip of the Mad Dog propeller beanie to his friends, family and fans. Ride on, brother.

  Back in the land of the living, it's caucus day in Colorado, part of the Stupor Tuesday Erection Selection Spectactular. In honor of cut-and-runners from coast to coast, I think I'll simmer up a giant vat of chicken soup (haw) and then toddle on over to my precinct gathering and lend my support to Barack Obama.

  It seems appropriate. Twenty years ago I was a county-convention delegate for Jesse Jackson (he narrowly lost Colorado to Michael Dukakis, whose handlers proved the most unpleasant crop of elitists it's ever been my displeasure to work with when I lent a hand to one of his Denver visits). I'm not as enthusiastic about Obama as I was about Jackson, but two decades down the road I've lost my enthusiasm for a number of pastimes, voting being one of them. Still, I'm up to here with Clintons and Bushes, and with Hillary being the type of candidate who could encourage dead Repuglicants to rise up and cast their moldering ballots for John "Mister Strait Jacket" McCain, it's time, as they say, for a change.

  Late update: Precinct 13 sends four Obama delegates and two Clinton delegates forward to the county confab. Party on, Garth. Massive turnout among the Donks, according to the old timers, including lots of bike people, among them John Crandall of Old Town Bike Shop and Brian Gravestock of Brian's Bicycle Repair, both of whom were in Precinct 12, I believe. Meanwhile, the mother-in-law saw Teddy Kennedy's pudgy whisky face en route to voting in the Tennessee primary and immediately pulled the lever for Hillary. She's off the Christmas-card list as of right now. And no more free eatin' tobacca or strings for the banjo, neither. Sorry 'bout that, y'all.

  Even later update: Looks like Colorado and El Paso County are both going strong for Obama at this point. But Lord, no wonder the country's in the shitter if people are getting their news from TV. We were forced to enjoy the coverage from ABC and its local affiliate after some vigorous twisting of the rabbit ears. It was a stunning blend of fascism, idiocy and wiener drugs. CBS was ignoring the whole thing in favor of whatever bullshit it ordinarily broadcasts, while PBS was airing a documentary (hey, that's a positive development; usually they're begging for money). As of 10 p.m., the national PBS pundits had commandeered the airwaves and were talking politics. But Jesus, there's not enough booze in the world for me to watch David Brooks without thoughts of homicide fighting their way up to the surface of the swirling whisky pool.

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Monday, Monday

  Here we go again with another one of these faux snows that barely dampen the ground. Arrrrgggghh. And I just took the Steelman to the car wash for a quick cleanup, too. I should know better by now. I will never be smart.

  Pointless weather like this calls for comfort food, so I have a pork roast simmering in a Dutch oven full of onions, garlic and other good things, some wild rice perking along in the cooker, and a mess of spinach to saute in olive oil and garlic, plus some fresh bread from La Baguette and a few jugs of an amusing little red from Sea Otter country, Sacred Stone Master's Red Blend, a multiple-personality vino (Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carignane and Grenache) that is both tasty and cheap.

  Speaking of pork, with this evil climate continually slipping the meat to my sensitive personality, I've been contemplating a trip to the sandbox to log a few warm-weather miles and jump-start my geek-tan. But I don't know that I'm gonna be able to erect my little tent this year, with the Tour of California on the horizon and the spring classics right around the corner. VeloNews.com has hired a new web editor, Steve Frothingham, an old comrade from earlier days at Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, and word from the People's Republic is that a clusterfuck is being planned in his honor on the 15th, so with ToC rolling out of the start house two days later I may be stuck here in the icebox for a while.

  Meanwhile, the Ermine Collar Comedy Tour continues as Georgie the Cable Guy announces a $3.1 trillion budget that includes $515.4 billion for the Pentagon, up 7.5 percent over this year, and the biggest bite from the taxpayer's ass by the military-industrial complex since World War II. The funny man says he is setting the nation on a path to a balanced budget come 2012, adding, "Our formula for achieving a balanced budget is simple: Create the conditions for economic growth, keep taxes low and spend taxpayer dollars wisely or not at all." Laugh, I thought I'd die. Thousands have, of course.

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Stuff this one up your tailpipe

  Here's a great way to get Colorado motorists even angrier at cyclists than they already are — increase car registration fees an average of $100, the idea being to raise $500 million for road and bridge repairs. This brainstorm from Gov. Bill Ritter will not only slip another couple inches of the old tube steak to the working poor, who are already getting it plenty, it will paint a bright red target on the backs of cyclists riding roads that motorists already consider their own personal property. What's next, ripping up the bike paths and melting down their asphalt for patching potholes? Judas Priest. If anything drives me to unload the '83 Toyota longbed taking up space at the curb outside Dog Manor, this will be it. That old bucket of bolts ain't worth $100. Hell, I'd drive it to Denver and hand Bill the key if I thought I'd survive the trip.

  Speaking of bike paths, O'Stank and I rolled up the Fountain Creek trail to the Air Force Academy and back this fine frosty Stupor Sunday morning, trying very hard not to find the ice beneath the snow. I haven't been riding much lately 'cause I'm tired of freezing my ass off and destroying my drivetrain, but the running and weight training seem to be delaying my eventual disintegration into a steaming puddle of alcohol and grease.

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Punk-ass Phil

  That fucking rodent saw his shadow again and boom: It started snowing. Can somebody please pluck the fat bastard's eyes out? I need another six weeks of winter the way John McCain needs more bad craziness. It's 27 here, and 65 in Phoenix, where The Super Bowel will briefly divert the nation's attention from Britney Spears.

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Splish, splash

  Farewell to January, and not a moment too soon. I never liked the sonofabitch, and January 2008 seemed particularly onerous. The upstairs crapper developed a leak during this miserable month, and Olson Plumbing & Heating declined to touch it, instead issuing dire warnings about how the tile floor probably needed to be ripped up and replaced, while charging us half-price for a full hour of doing all of nothing. So we devolved into a one-crapper family while we considered various contingencies. Then, on the last night of the month, the pump to our furnace's humidifier seized up and sprung a leak, pissing a gallon or so of water all over the laundry room and soaking a couple square feet of the basement carpet. Ay, Chihuahua.

  This time we called Kelly Plumbing & Heating, a Woodland Park outfit recommended by a contractor pal, and Dave Kelly his own bad self solved both issues in under an hour — and for under a C-note. I'm thinking of having him placed in a glass case and all the air sucked out to preserve him as an example to future generations of plumbers. But we'll probably need him again, so no.

  In other News from the Toilet, The Denver Post, a once-great paper that employed cartoonist Pat Oliphant in better days, has endorsed Clinton and Romney. No surprises there, as this same bowlful of sour turds backed a second term for The Decider.

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New wheels

  VeloNews.com should be up and running by now (assuming anyone's still reading after the recent drought of posts), so click on through and send the web-weenies your bouquets and brickbats via the feedback link at lower right. There will be some bumps in the road (in fact, there have already been quite a few), but Conehead the Barbarian is working 70-hour weeks to iron them out.

  Meanwhile, Colorado hasn't even held its caucuses yet and we're down to a slate of four (Huckleberry thinks he's still in it, but he also thinks there's Somebody Up There paying attention to him and us). Lacking TV, we've been spared the so-called "debates" — and living in Bibleburg, we've been ignored by all the candidates (the righties assume we're theirs, as do the lefties). The word we're looking for here is "disenfranchised." It reminds me of 1980, when I was working with a bunch of Nazis at The Daily Star in Tucson, most of whom voted for Ronald Reagan. I voted for independent John Anderson, having seen all I wanted to of Reagan on "Death Valley Days," and having seen all I cared to of Carter in the White House. But the swine on the national TV-news programs called the race for Reagan before the polls closed west of the Rockies, effectively telling all of us Westerners who didn't live in California to go fuck ourselves. All these years later, doesn't seem like much has changed.

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Two down, too many to go

  OK, that's two wankers who aren't remotely qualified to be president out of the race. Now all we have to do is get rid of the rest of them. Including the one who presently holds the job, of course. Jesus H. Christ. You're telling me that the top four candidates to become the next Leader of the Free World are John McCain, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton? Anyone out there feeling a naughty sort of tingling sensation in the old political gland at the prospect of any one of these people taking the oath of office? Anyone? Raise your hand, if it's not otherwise occupied. Yeah, I thought so. Maybe the Republic needs an HR department and a search-and-screen committee to weed out the losers before the bosses have to start flicking through the résumés.

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The State of the Union? Painfully obvious, isn't it?

  The Numbnuts-in-Chief will be delivering what we can only hope will be his final State of the Union speech tonight, and since there will be not a shred, a hint, a whiff of veracity in it, I will not be watching. The dude says something like, "Well, folks, I fucked it all up, just like I did every bidness venture Poppy ever hooked me up with. Heh heh heh. Sorry 'bout that. At least this one comes with a nifty pension," I'll check the instant replay. But otherwise, no. My liver can't take the drinking game.

  Anyway, I've been up to my bloodshot eyeballs in the VeloNews.com beta site, which requires a tad more of the editors than the old site did — especially when one of them has fucked off to Italy to watch cyclocross worlds through Valpolicella goggles. I need every inch of the 22-inch ViewSonic display I hooked up the other day, and more. I tried to add a second display today, an old 17-inch ViewSonic, but no dice — the old ATI Rage 128 Pro video card in this geezer machine hiccuped, farted and started mumbling something about the Civil War. I can score a better card from Other World Computing, but I'm pushing my luck on upgrading this dog. Installing a new video card might be like putting a great pair of tits on Sandra Bernhard.

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January Fool's Day?

  An accelerated April Fool's program is the only explanation I can suggest for a proposal by Colorado Sen. Chris Romer (D-Shit-for-Brains) that skiers be charged up to $12 for driving I-70 during the weekend rush hour or sent $25 checks for taking five for a few shots of Jagermeister until the traffic thins out. This bonehead is an investment banker? No wonder we're a few negative Dow Jones points away from stockbrokers leaping out of windows.

  I'm not driving anywhere lately, especially along the Interstate 70 Industrial Tourism Corridor. Too busy. VeloNews.com is in the final stages of a dramatic redesign and we're all having big big fun getting the buggy little sumbitch ready for its closeup. A Zen master has been doing all the heavy lifting (I would have been on top of a tall building with a manifesto and the Ruger Mini-Thirty a long time ago). Still, double-posting to both alpha and beta sites is not my idea of a party. If I wanted to work, I'd get a job. You think Graham Watson is a hell of a shooter until you have to resize and post a dozen of his shots on one site, using one tool, then double that on the other, using another. After a few rounds of that sort of thing, you don't care if you ever see anyone in Lycra again, unless it's Scarlett Johansson in "The Rebecca Twigg Story" as directed by Jenna Jameson.

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Flawed and disordered

  Fred Thompson dropped out of the Republican race for president today, if you can say that a guy quit a race he was never in. Mister Presidential Bearing was "running" slightly behind painful rectal itch, flesh-eating bacteria and Britney Spears. One third-rate actor in the White House was plenty for me, thanks all the same.

  We don't watch TV here in Dog Central, but that doesn't mean we lack for technological annoyances. Herself's Brother MFC-885CW fax-print-scan combo has taken to ringing once, briefly, every half hour, and neither Brother nor Qwest will take the rap for it. I offered to fix it the way I once fixed her sports watch, but she hid all the hammers.

  My own new toy, a 22-inch ViewSonic with built-in speakers, is working just fine, thank you. After a few years of running a 17-incher, I feel like Sulu driving the starship Enterprise.

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Mr. Bailey, meet Mr. Barnum

  Cipo' and Michael Ball — together at last. Who needs a bunch of striking writers? This should be a buddy show to end all buddy shows. Hey, maybe we could turn it into a reality show. Call it "Nuts or Balls?" Just a thought.

  Speaking of TV, you think freshly appointed Colorado Rep. Dougie Bruce (R-Slumlords) will find himself making a guest appearance on "South Park?" 'Cause the putz sure comes off as a cartoon character in a Colorado House hearing that wound up recommending that he be censured for punting a Rocky Mountain News shooter just, 'cause, like, y'know, he felt like it. Only the meanest Christians on the planet, my neighbors here in poor benighted Bibleburg, could feel good about sending a buffoon like this to the Statehouse. If I kicked everyone I thought had it coming, I'd have a permanent limp and a concrete condo at state expense down in Cañon City.

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Laugh, I thought I'd die

  Colorado continues burnishing its national reputation for gentility, courtesy of Greeley businessman William R. Farr, who laid a great, big, fat, white, honky egg with a joke about Barack Obama during the National Western Stock Show's annual Citizen of the West banquet. While pretending to read telegrams congratulating this year's award recipient, University of Colorado President Hank Brown, Farr pulled out a piece of paper and said, "I have a telegram from the White House," adding, "They're going to have to change the name of that building if Obama's elected." Ho, ho. Best trot out to the driveway and lay a quick Caucasian paint job on that jockey boy before the press gets there, Porky. Say, you hear the one about the redneck, the hillbilly and the peckerwood?

  Meanwhile, the ultra-slim MacBook Air announced at Macworld Expo is drawing some mixed reviews from my fellow cultists. It's already off the homepage at Macworld, though Dan Frakes gave it a qualified thumb's-up.

  At PowerBook Central, meanwhile, neither Noah Kravitz nor Charles Moore likes the skinny little bugger, and the more I look at it, neither do I.

  I like the full-size, backlit keyboard, the touch-screen stuff swiped from the iPhone, and the weight — and that's about it. I definitely don't like one trait it shares with the iPod — the throwaway design philosophy that assumes you would prefer to buy a brand-new machine rather than do any work on your old one. I've done some light work inside nearly every Mac I've ever owned, barring the PowerBook Duo 2300c (too dodgy) and the MacBook (hasn't needed anything yet). But you want to work on the MacBook Air, you had better be a certified Apple technician.

  Had the Black Turtleneck Mob come up with something like the old 12-inch PowerBook sans optical drive with a flash drive replacing the internal HD, and kept the price closer to one G than two, I'd have sold a healthy organ to buy one (not one of mine, but someone's). But right now I like my teensy Eee PC better, even with its midget keyboard.

  And for the kitty fanciers among you, Mia Sopaipilla is home from the vet with her reproductive organs disabled but every bit of her playful nature intact. After charging around the DogHaus like she'd been turpentined, picking fights with Turkenstein, attacking her cat carrier and generally acting like someone who'd just been released from prison instead of the hospital, she's enjoying a snooze in her donut, under a living-room lamp.

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Requiem for a hospital

  The hospital my dad died in, Penrose Community Hospital on North Academy Boulevard, is shutting down. A consultant has recommended selling the place to help pay for an urgent-care center somewhere in the vicinity (Penrose Community handled 42,000 emergency visits last year).

  I paid the place an emergency visit once myself, after folding my left thumb back to the wrist during a mountain-bike crash in nearby Palmer Park. But I rolled in and out under my own power, and so the O'Gradys are batting .500 in this particular ballpark. Mom struck out in her final at bat on the south side of town, in the Namaste Alzheimer's facility, and I'm hoping she's the only one of us who plays on that field of nightmares.

  In other medical news, Mia Sopaipilla is in hospital on the northwest side of town, having just been spayed. I was a little creeped out about the procedure, since this is where Chairman Meow died of an enlarged heart. But I consulted the Chairman's shade and she said she'd keep a watchful eye on the little purrbox from the Great Beyond, and apparently Mia did just fine in surgery and should be ready to come home tomorrow for a cuddle on my drawing board with Turkenstein, a.k.a. The Great White Whale, Moby the Dick. All hail Chairman Meow!

  News of the Weird: It'll be long gone by the time you read this, but The New York Times had a little issue with homonym confusion on the old website this evening. Via The Lede Blog, under the headline "Q & A: Keeping Score on U.S.-Iran Confrontation," the Old Gray Lady informed us that Thom Shanker, who covers national security and foreign policy for The Times, would be answering questions "on the navel incident." Ho, ho. Reminds me of a typically Midwestern quip mom used to whip on us from time to time: "Aren't you glad we have a Naval Reserve in case we lose ours?" Thank you, thank you ... I'll be here all week, and don't forget to tip your server.

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Bruce gets off on the wrong foot (again)

  Doug Bruce — the gift that keeps on giving. This time the fat fuck kicked a shooter for the Rocky Mountain News during morning prayer at the state House. I don't recall which Bible verse permits an assault on the press, but Dougie is a pretty smart cookie, so I'm sure it's in there somewhere. Jesus wept. Dude insists on making a spectacle of himself, then squeals like a pig when someone documents his antics. His mama should've spanked his blubbery butt more often. With a mace.

  All in all, it was just another feel-good moment for the neo-tards of El Paso County, which has brought Colorado and the nation the likes of Bruce, homophobic auto-seller/Bible-thumper Will Perkins, sky pilots Jimmy Dobson and Ted Haggard, and a parade of other renowned nutjobs, scumbags and fascists over the years. The John Birch Society, the Freedom First Society, the Klan, we've had 'em all here, and far too many of them remain.

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Press 69 to eat me

  The weird thing about being an independent contractor is that you don't have to work very much until suddenly you do. Today, for example, I had to rework a column for Bicycle Retailer and cobble together a gossip column for the same mag'; edit someone else's column for VeloNews and then blast out a cartoon for that mag' on short order (because I'd spaced the deadline); edit a letters column for VeloNews.com that boils down to "Why O'Grady sucks"; and then try to puzzle out why the only website I can't get to via Qwest DSL is the one that pays me to do so.

  That last task remains unfinished, in no small measure because I don't speak Hindi, Urdu or Bengali. Apologies to our brothers across the water, many of whom tried their best to assist me in my quest, but goddamn it, I don't ring up Tokyo every time a Subaru's "Check Engine" light clicks on. If I happen to be in Lahore and can't get to DrunkCyclist.com, why, then, I'll accept my linguistic shortcomings as the handicap that they are. But if I'm trying to work a Yankee website from within the bowels of the Great Satan, well, shit, I expect to be lied to from someone in Tennessee, Texas or Utah, thanks all the same. I have enough trouble making sense of that crowd, especially when they wind up in the nation's capital, brandishing titles.

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Coffee press

  Word has it that the local Starbucks shops are refusing to carry The Colorado Springs Independent based on the complaint of a single Christian gentleman who found it "trashy." And true, the Indy isn't much of a paper, especially if you stack it up against real muckraking weeklies like New Times or Westword. But then neither is the Gazette, a detestable right-wing rag owned by Orange County libertarians that remains available at Starbucks despite its own trashy content (the editorial page). If the Indy is a weed infesting the garden of community journalism, at least it's locally grown. So I sent Starbucks a NastyGram® announcing my intention to boycott their stores until the Indy is back in or the Gazette is tossed out. Since I already buy my java from the locally owned Dogtooth Coffee, this will not cause me any great hardship.

  Saturday Night's News of the Weird: It's a double-header tonight, folks: Up first, a couple of guys who wheel a stiff in an office chair to a Hell's Kitchen check-cashing outfit in an attempt to cash his Social Security check; next, a Texan who batters and sodomizes his 18-year-old stepson for allegedly raping the man's 8-year-old daughter. Leave it to the cops to come up with the punch line: Sgt. Cheryl Johnson, supervisor of the Fort Worth sex crimes unit, said in a story posted Saturday on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Web site that people need to ''allow the criminal justice system to work for them.'' She must not be from around there.

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Rock & Rant

  There's some fresh Foaming Rantage up at VeloNews.com, for the two or three of you who find such things amusing and/or actionable. The latest edition concerns disco-jeans maven Michael Ball of Rock & Republic and his pro team, Rock Racing. The gent is interesting, to put it mildly; reminds me of a couple people from my hideously misspent youth, only with more money and a thousand times more attitude. The "I can buy and sell you" kind of guy we thought existed only in the cinema. Right now he's buying and selling cycling, and for that, God love ye, Mickey me boyo.

  Squishy and windy outside today, so I did without refreshing outdoor exercise and instead spent an hour down at the Y, reacquainting various muscle groups with the joys of resistance training. This place does not look like the health clubs on teevee. I'm talking a serious dearth of eye candy. Of course, I ain't exactly George Clooney either, but still, damn. I've seen prettier faces on pirate flags and Rock Racing jerseys.

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Boxed in

  Good on Portland for acting to protect its legions of cyclists by creating "bike boxes" that in theory will keep them from being run over by oblivious motorists making right turns. Longtime bike blogger Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org comes in for a well-deserved mention in the piece.

  Here in Bibleburg, the focus is on pedestrians and unshoveled sidewalks. Seems the city has noticed the libertarian attitude regarding snow removal ("You want it shoveled, shovel it yourself. Now get off my property before I shoot you."). I should print a few dozen copies of the article and post it throughout the Old North End, where I generally do my running and where sidewalks in winter are as icy, white and lumpy as the property owners.

  Meanwhile, yesterday, after a visit to the Planet of the Plateheads and a frosty hour navigating North End glaciers, I took a little mental exercise, installing some fresh RAM and a processor upgrade in the Dog House's main Mac, a 450 MHz G4 AGP Graphics Power Mac. Now it's a 1.1 GHz with a gig of memory, which means it's only five years off the back instead of 10. Woo hoo, lookit me burnin' up the Intertubes.

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Y oh Y did I join the Y? (Part II)

  If it keeps snowing regularly like this, I may not need that Y membership. Shoveling various sidewalks and our driveway ate up a couple hours of my morning and now I feel like eating a few thousand calories for lunch and taking a long nap. Plus my back is mad at me. Good thing I have a date with the back-cracker on Thursday. She'd better pack a lunch.

  Elsewhere, the Granite State is packin' 'em in for today's primary; early indications are that turnout is massive, which I suspect bodes well for Obama and McCain, both of whom appeal to independents. Hillary is said to be freakin' at the thought of another beating and contemplating changes in staffing and strategy. Honeymoon's over, toots. Even the media, which has its head so far up its fat ass that it needs a Plexiglas belly-button to see where it's going most days, has realized that the front-runner label it laid on her a couple years back without a shred of supporting evidence (barring the fat wads of cash she had on hand) just ain't sticking. The country's sick of Bushes and Clintons alike.

  Meanwhile, I thought about riding the trainer for an hour this afternoon, then pulled the mountain bike out of the garage, put on nearly every piece of cycling kit I own, plus neoprene booties, and went out for a chilly ride in the snow. Big fun. I rarely ride this bike, preferring cyclo-cross bikes for just about everything, but its fat Panaracers and lower center of gravity make were ideal for today's snowpacked streets. The only downside manifested itself on the homeward leg, when I hit a few streets that had undergone partial meltage. Thus fenders go on the must-have list for next time.

  This just in: Looks like I may be batting .500 in New Hampshire. McCain has the GOP victory in hand, stomping the piss out of Robotney and Huckleberry. But Hillary has the edge on Obama as of 7 p.m. Bibleburg time. If this holds up, I'll look forward to seeing the analysis. Maybe my initial bet was the right one — that Granite Head (pardon me, Granite State) voters are too conservative to pull the lever for the likes of Obama. Hils, after all, is practically a Republican; W Lite, with tits, a pantsuit and brains.

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Y oh Y did I join the Y?

  It's the January rush at the downtown YMCA, where the clientele is America in miniature: Nearly everyone is overweight and plugged into some distracting piece of electronica like so many sweaty, walleyed Cyborgs; a sizable fraction takes no exercise at all beyond hanging around flapping their gums (which is exercise in some small way, I suppose); and a small minority of time-challenged body Nazis is doing The Work, or would be if they weren't busy flitting about the joint trying in vain to find a piece of equipment not being employed as an easy chair by some rotund, perspiring rumormonger.

  The good news is, by February the herd should thin as a goodly number of these folks recall what they already knew — that exercise is an awful lot like work. The bad news is, I'll probably be one of the dropouts, 'cause I hate gyms. We geezers need resistance training to retain muscle mass and bone density, but still, damn. The best thing I can say for the place is it gets me away from the home office, which is a major contributor to GIAS (Giant Irish Ass Syndrome).

  Herself's new job permits her to work from home a couple days per week, so we've been setting up her home office in the basement, which involved some creative shifting of furniture and the configuration of a Brother MFC-885CW fax-print-scan combo the size of a microwave oven from the old Soviet Union. The idea was to make the bugger a wireless network printer, which was fine with our Macs — they all "saw" the printer and used it in less time than it takes Bill Clinton to see and use a plump young intern, even this retarded 450 MHz G4 tower here. Alas, Herself's new Dell Latitude laptop, running Windoze Vista, behaved more like Hillary (cranky, fascist, occasionally weeping). I finally had to resort to some Gaelic Jedi mind games on the sumbitch, which involved drinking heavily and punching buttons while swearing unintelligibly.

  Finally, I hit the right combo (found the right-size hammer) and now even Mr. Dell's shitbox prints just like a Mac. So we went for Door No. 3 and tried setting up a couple of Skype accounts. Herself's Dell was a walk in the park, the IT weenies at work having done the heavy lifting — before you could say, "Aw, shit, I look like a wino," we were chatting via video with Herself's eldest sister. Ditto her MacBook. My Asus Eee PC, a Linux weirdo, took a bit longer, requiring a software update. But now we can see people we don't even want to talk to on the phone (not you, Beth; Jesus, you're so sensitive.

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Whoosh, dump

  As we passed the snow-splashed Bear Basin Ranch outside Weirdcliffe on New Year's Day, heading home to Bibleburg, I turned to Herself and asked, "You ever miss living up here?" "Nope," she replied without hesitation. And here's one of the reasons why, from a weather story on today's Gazette site:

Across the region, the strongest wind recorded Saturday was a 96-mph gust in Custer County — equal to a Category 2 hurricane.

  Custer County is where God test-drives the wind He wants to lay on Wyoming. The first spring we were there, it was so beastly that we had to have a giant beam installed back to front in our living room to brace the west-facing wall against the gentle zephyrs racing down the Sangre de Cristos range.

  It wasn't quite that bad here yesterday, but it wasn't any day at the beach, either. Eighty-mph winds, downed power lines and a Christmas tree tossed up into an old elm up the alley. Plus the "little or no snow" expected here turned up in quantity while we slept, bringing me a couple hours of shovel work this morning. Could be worse, though. And anyway, snow around here hangs around about as long as a politician after he's sewn up your vote.

  Later that day: Herself and I attended an open house this afternoon in honor of the neighbors' son who is joining the Army. He reports Wednesday and is scheduled for boot at Fort Leonard Wood, which is surrounded by a chunk of the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri, then further training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where I endured various medical procedures as a sprout while the old man was stationed at Randolph AFB. All the nitwits who screech about socialized medicine ought to take a look at how the military takes care of its people (barring the occasional hideous failure) and then shut the fuck up; I suffered hugely from allergies, asthma and other respiratory issues as a kid, and Uncle Sam saw to it that I had everything I needed as long as I was a dependent. Now I have to pay through the nose for my albuterol and a simple sinus infection involves a $150 walletectomy.

  Anyway, there was a big turnout, including one of the new recruit's elementary-school teachers, who said she thought he would do splendidly in the service, in part because the whole thing was his idea and not something that had been impressed upon him. His parents agreed, although mom seemed a tad on the edge (hey, it's the first-born leaving home for the Army, which is not exactly a dorm room at CU with hot and cold running coeds). Dad is an Air Force Academy grad with a dozen or so years of service, so this is familiar territory, albeit seen from a slightly different perspective.

  And the recruit himself? We've been acquainted for five years or so, and he's always been an interesting mixture of goofy and serious; a bright kid with his own take on the world, impatient with The Way Things Are. Lately he seems a little more serious, and I expect that's a good thing given the circumstances. But the goofiness is not completely repressed — tonight he took great delight in showing us a picture of an astounding egg-beater he took while back-country skiing. Now he's launched again; here's hoping for a safe landing.

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Adios, Iowa

  The national media feebs are nearly done slobbering over the Hawkeye State, and the One Big Eye will swivel eastward to New Hampshire. The NYT counts $300 million down the two-seater toilet of TV and political consultancy to date, noting that Romney pissed away something like four bucks per voter on TV ads to get beaten like a dusty rug by Huckleberry. No worries about an uptick in unemployment among this crowd.

  New Hampshire will be another story altogether. In 2000, it was the only state in the Northeast to go Elefink in the general election (McCain won the primary). In 2004, Kerry took his second consecutive win while Alfred E. "Worry" Bush coasted to victory. Absent the Numbnuts-in-Chief, I expect Mister Strait Jacket — pardon me, Mister Straight Talk — to take the V in New Hampshire, if only because he skipped Iowa to work the Granite State like a crack whore down to her last rock.

  The Donks' contest is a tougher call. The notoriously fascist Manchester Union Leader cites polls calling the race a dead heat between Clinton and Obama, but adds that Clinton appears to have "deeper, more committed support." And shit, she's practically a Republican, which has to give her an edge, unless those deeply committed Hillary fans get all shook up over Iowa and bolt toward Obama's camp. Given the state's history, I'll give a qualified nod to Clinton.

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Don't drink the ethanol

  Iowans (some of them, anyway) will caucus today, giving the punditocracy a chance to jabber endlessly about what did happen instead of what might happen. Yeah, right. The New Hampshire primary is coming up Tuesday, so expect your meaty caucus news to come laden with a heapin' helpin' of air sauce and a side of wind pudding.

  Over at The Old Gray Lady, Adam Nagourney posits that economic anxiety may be catching up with the war in Iraq as an issue with the Donks. And while he offers little in the way of support for his theory, beyond noting that the candidates have begun taking up that topic on the campaign trail (possibly to avoid explaining their spastic tap-dancing around why most of them voted for the war and for continuing to fund it), it wouldn't surprise me if he were right. In Shopping Nation, it's all about me and what's in it for me, and most of us aren't affected by Gen. George Armstrong Bush's splendid little war. Beyond paying for it, a bit of heavy lifting our heirs will not thank us for, that is.

  Here in Bibleburg the war seems a little closer to home. We regularly see men and women in desert camo', when they're not off playing dodgeball in little Georgie's bloody sandbox, and take note of the obituaries in the local fish-wrapper as well as the homemade banners draped across Fort Cartoon's fences, welcoming the survivors home. A conservative neighbor's oldest son, fed up with school, is joining the Army, and Herself and I will attend an open house in his honor this weekend. It's going to be an awkward moment, something our retarded national media might dub one of those red-meets-blue epiphanies in which everybody learns something, as in some dipshit TV sitcom.

  But I'm not your prototypical lefty-loony peace creep — I was a military brat, whose dad pulled a 30-year hitch in the Air Force, including a scary stint flying C-47s out of New Guinea during World War II. There were plenty of days where his flight suit wasn't hanging up in the hall closet, and while my sister and I didn't really know what that meant then, we do now. The roof over our heads and the food on the table came courtesy of the red, white and blue, and while I believe it was a career that was forced on the old man rather than a path he deliberately chose, how can I tell a 19-year-old that joining the Army during wartime is not something I'd recommend? That Dad's war was legitimate and this one is not, because this time the belligerent fascists are homegrown?

  Besides, my decision-making at that age (or this one) hardly qualifies me as a mentor. I appalled my own parents by dropping out of college at 19 and going to work, first as a janitor, then as an installer of storm windows and patio covers, and finally as a copy boy at the smaller of our two local papers, long since defunct.

  That was where I got lucky. The managing editor said I had no future in journalism without a degree, so I went back to school (though to what particular purpose one can only guess, with an assist from the photo at right). Still, with degree in hand, and having already spent a year working in what would be my chosen field, making professional contacts who helped me get my first and second newspaper jobs after graduation, I finally found my way. One thing led to another until I finally landed this gig, which can be termed a "job" only because I get paid for doing it. Things could have gone very differently.

  I was fortunate enough to stumble across my path. I hope our neighbor's son can do likewise.

  This just in: According to this story in The New York Times, Obama smokes Edwards and Clinton in Iowa, while Huckabee opens up a 10-gallon can o' whuppin'-ass on Romney and Thompson. That would make for an interesting matchup, if Iowa were the United States, which thank Christ it is not (mom's side of the family was from Sioux City, and the ones who are still alive deserve a vigorous beating). Meanwhile, Mr. 9/11 was left sucking the wet end of the mop, which is no surprise; he now plans a last-ditch drive in New Hampshire, says Talking Points Memo. That should be like watching the Broncos try to put some points on the board against San Diego. The Chargers leave the field, and three plays later Denver scores!

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Happy New Year

  So I'm a little late; so sue me. You were probably too hungover to check in yesterday anyway. And anyway, I was in Weirdcliffe, where Herself and I celebrated the start of another lap around the sun with our friends Hal and Mary and their son, Harrison. There was much eating of food, a bottle or two of wine and the traditional resurrection for discussion of long-past days of glory, when Giants of Journalism trod the earth, with horns of hot lead, flat feet and whisky breath. There also was dialup Internet service, so I passed on updating the site because I was sick of stuffing fat pixels through a skinny tube long before I fled Crusty County for Bibleburg.

  Since returning home, I've begun migrating the whole Dog op' over to a 450 MHz G4 AGP Graphics Power Mac running OS X 10.3.9. Everyone else in the Cult of Mac did this years ago, but I had been holding out because (a) I didn't want to go through the hassle and expense of updating various Microsoft and Adobe software must-haves, and (b) one of my gigs required either OS 9.x or a Windoze box, and I had plenty of so-called "legacy" machines running the "Classic" OS cluttering up the joint.

  In fact, it's mildly ridiculous just how many elderly computers infest the Dog House these days. Even more ridiculous is that almost all of them still work — including that 100 MHz PowerBook Duo 2300c at right, which at 12 years old is far from the oldest working Mac in the vicinity (that would be the 14-year-old 33 MHz Quadra 650).

  Indeed, the only slackers in the outfit are newer recruits — a 600 MHz G3 dual-boot iBook that will only boot into OS 9.x and a 250 MHz G3 Series "Wall Street" PowerBook that won't boot at all (some sort of power-management issue that defies my limited diagnostic and repair skills). Too bad, too, 'cause I really liked its screen and keyboard. But it's 10 years old, and needed PC cards for wireless and USB access, and probably should've gone to the Old Macs Home a couple years ago along with all the rest of the boxed-up MacJunk serving as spider condos in various closets. But it was a good earner when it was young, and I hate to just cast it aside, as though it were a crooked Republican senator or something.

  Still, to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. And it ain't like this G4 box is a sprightly youngster, either. But it only cost me $50 used. So I've partitioned it into a dual-boot system — OS X 10.3.9 on one partition, OS 9.2.2 on the other, which lets me use old installs of Word 2001 SE and Photoshop 4, regardless of which OS I'm running. And I'll probably stuff another gig of cheap RAM and maybe a processor upgrade into the sumbitch too while I decide whether I need to add an Intel desktop to the Mad Dog menagerie. That should help stave off the old Alzheimer's, no? Either that or trigger it.

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