Archive for November, 2007


Ever have one of those days…..

…when you just want to do this to someone?

I know I do.

Okay, not very profound, I realize. But I though it was funny.



Of cigars and turkeys

Thanksgiving has, in recent years, become a controversial holiday in some quarters. While most Americans are content to simply gorge themselves on the barnyard animal of their choice, some people choose to focus on some of the more unpleasant historical events surrounding this holiday.

I’m not one of them.

While it is true that I am not shy about ocaisionally courting controversy, on this subject I prefer to keep my world view as uncluttered as possible. To put it simply, I love Thanksgiving.

I love having a paid day off to spend with my family. I love going to my mother’s house to gorge myself on turkey (dark meat only, by the way, ’cause it’s the best), stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. If you’re wondering why there’s no mention of vegetables, it’s because I don’t eat them. A slice or two of cherry pie, and some hot black coffee goes down nicely by way of dessert.

And finally, the best part: a cigar with my Dad, along with a wee tipple o’ the Irish (Bushmill’s Black Bush, for those of you who care about such things).

And I have much to be thankful for: family and friends who care about me and put up with me even when I’m being insufferable. I’m thankful that I live in a country where I have the right to openly criticize my government without fear of reprisal, and where I have the luxury of doing something as ridiculously self-indulgent as expressing my views on a blog, at a time when there are many living in parts of the world that are so dangerous that the citizens can’t even take it for granted that they will still be alive at the end of the day.

For all of things and many more, I am truly thankful. My warmest Thanksgiving wishes to all!



some friends i’ve made along the way

Yeah, that’s me, when I was out in California. My sister took this picture unbeknown to me, as I contemplated the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. I don’t remember what I was thinking about. Life? God? Whether to order the shrimp or the tenderloin? Who can say?

2007 has been an interesting year for your humble scribe. My son came back from Iraq, older, wiser, and perhaps a little sadder. My marriage of eight years ended. On the plus side, I have found more time and energy for writing, and surely that is worth something.

Along the way I have hit a few milestones. One year of blogging. 35,000 hits. A renewed acquaintance with my poetry muse. But most importantly of all, I’ve made some new friends. Here are some of them:

Smoke & Mirrors: Really, it has to start here. Michael is the one who started me on the road to blogging. He clearly had no idea what he was getting himself into. Over the past year, he has tolerated not only my endless (and often repetitive) technical questions, but also my frequent lapses into blogslackery. Truly, no teacher ever had a more irksome pupil. And yet, he’s always there, giving me encouragement, and answering my many questions. His writing is a fascinating mix of wry humor and a deeply spiritual way of looking at the world. For me, it is appointment reading. It should be for you, as well.

Spasmically Perfect: They once made a movie called “A Beautiful Mind”. If they made one about Spaz, it would be called “A Beautiful Soul.” Just making her acquaintance made this whole blogging thing worthwhile. She is my friend, my fellow poet, and my occasional cyber-therapist. Her prose reads like fine poetry, and her poetry reads like it was dictated to her by an angel.

Eleven: A fellow pipe smoker from Ohio, he combines the mid-western penchant for clear thinking and common sense with the soul of a poet.

Nanny’s Nook: Industrial strength common sense. I wish I had had a Nanny like her!

The Lovely Rose: Lovely indeed! A truly sweet person who doesn’t post nearly often enough!

Dr. Pepper is Good for the Soul: Red hair. A dirty mind. A love of 19th century literature. Could there be a more perfect woman?

From Evyl with Love: He is bawdy. He is irreverent. He is, well, Evyl. He is also funny as all hell. Read this blog, preferably after the small children have been sent to bed. You will laugh your ass off–you just won’t feel good about yourself while you’re doing it. 😉

Responding to the Skeptics: Religious issues your bag? Check this out. You may not agree with everything he writes, but he presents a variety of interesting topics.

The Bad Idea Blog: We disagree on almost everything, but he writes with style and penetrating insight. The blog may be called “Bad Idea”, but reading it is a very Good Idea.

The Bootleg Bon Vivant: Another fellow pipe smoker. An interesting site for those interested in pipes, tobacco, and good living in general.

Writer Chick Talks: Annie and I have been known to differ. 😉 But whether I agree with her or not, it is impossible to read her blog and not be impressed with the wit and style that infuses her every post.

Nukes New’s and Views: one of the hardest working bloggers on the internet. If you enjoy conservative opinion, this is the place for you. Thoughtful, intelligent writing combined with up to date political news. I am an occasional guest blogger on this site.

I admire them as writers, and I value them as friends.



About me

For those of you who care about such things, I have put a picture of my ugly mug on the About Me page.  View at your own risk.



Still smoking, and proud of it

I love smoking. There, I said it. It takes a certain amount of testicular fortitude to say this nowadays, but it’s just so liberating to say it out loud! I think I’ll say it again: I adore smoking!

To me, smoking a pipe or a cigar is one of life’s great pleasures, akin to a fine whiskey or wine, or a nice cup of coffee or tea. My fascination with the pipe goes back to my childhood, when “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and “The Lord of the Rings” were among my favorite reading.

Whenever I fill my pipe–perhaps a Sasieni made back in the 1920’s out of briar that was 100 years old back then–with a fine matured Virginia, sit back, light up, see the ember glowing in the bowl, and taste the exquisite flavor, my mind and soul find peace. There really is nothing to compare to the taste of the Virginia, the feel of the warm briar in my hand, and the visual beauty of the finely grained wood. They all combine into one of the most satisfying sensory experiences known to man.

And yet, because I indulge in this pleasurable and completely legal activity, I am basically one step above a child molester in the eyes of the politically correct. In fact, I’m not sure that the child molesters are not held in higher esteem in those quarters.

The ridiculous extremes that the anti-smoking movement has come to is best illustrated by the case of Scott Rodrigues, an employee of the Scots company who was fired, not for smoking on company time, but simply for being a smoker. This sad story can be read here.

Of course, this should come as no surprise, as the Scotts company is run by a martinet named Jim Hagedorn. Scotts employees are urged to take exhaustive health-risk assessments. Those who refuse pay $40 a month more in premiums for their group health insurance.

Using data-mining software, company analysts scour the physical, mental, and family health histories of nearly every employee and cross-reference that information with insurance-claims data. Health coaches identify which employees are at moderate to high risk. All of them are assigned a health coach who draws up an action plan. Those who don’t comply get whacked for another $67 a month.

This is an unconscionable invasion of privacy.

Some argue that smoking drives up health care costs, and that is no doubt true. So do a lot of things. But the only ones who get fired are the smokers. Not the drinkers, not the overweight, not the reckless drivers. Just the smokers. If one is going to argue that health care costs should be the sole yardstick for social policy, then one could logically argue in favor of prohibiting any woman over the age of 40 from conceiving a child, since beyond that age the chances of having a high risk (and therefore, very costly) pregnancy increase exponentially. Clearly, no one is advocating such an odious policy, at least not yet. 28 States have passed laws prohibiting the firing of smokers just for being smokers, but sadly Massachusetts is not one of them.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find this article in the normally liberal Boston Globe. The author, Alex Beam, has a history of being a little out of step with his liberal employers, which is, of course, why I like him. I’m just amazed he’s managed to keep his job this long.

I was so impressed with this article that I have added a link to Dr. Siegal’s blog over there on the right. Just click the blue caduceus to read how one brave physician is putting his career on the line by standing up to the politically correct anti-smoking radicals.

Now, without further ado, I am going to shut off this blasted computer, fill my Sasieni Four Dot (that’s a pipe, for the uninitiated) with Dunhill Aperitif, fill a glass with Old Bushmill’s, and continue reading my Conan Doyle.



a revision

I was touched by the positive comments left on “Some Wore Green”. It may surprise some of you to learn that, in truth, I was not completely happy with it, and even considered pulling it. I have revised it quite a bit. I think it’s better now. I’d be curious to know what others think. This will teach me to publish something before it’s ready. 😦

And many thanks to my friend (and occasional cyber-therapist), Spaz–a damn good poet herself, by the way–for helping unstick me when I was stuck.



Some wore green, a poem

This Sunday, November 11th, is Veterans Day. This poem is dedicated to all those who have served in time of war, and to their families who have suffered the pain of their loss.

Two by two and four by four
The brave young men all marched to war
Some wore green and some wore blue
And each one had a job to do.
She could merely stand and wave.
She told herself she must be brave,
That surely he’d return to her
And married they would be for sure.

Her true love brave in battle died.
With his last breath her name he cried.
Buried under foreign sand,
No more to see his native land.
She swore that with her dying breath,
If not in life, then fast in death
She would be joined forever more
To her true love who died in war.

She journey’d half a world away
To find the place her love did lay
With spirit steeled and visage grim
For that was all she’d left of him.
This thought alone consumed her mind
And yet his grave she could not find.
Until one day, so near despair
She met a man with long gray hair.
Bent and lame, a soldier old
Whose eyes still glittered, blue and bold.

“No more to weep, no more to cry
I know the place your love does lie.
I say to you by heaven above:
None fought so brave as your true love.
He was gallant, loyal, brave and true;
With his last breath he cried for you.
Just beyond that rocky hill
Lies your love buried, cold and still.”

She slowly climbed the hard terrain
Beyond which her true love was lain.
And when she finally reached the top
She felt her quickened heartbeat stop.
For there as far as she could see
Were gravestones to infinity.
All bore these words upon a plate:
“This one was sacrificed to hate.”

Past countless headstones carved the same
She ran and wept and called his name.
Long she searched, and long she tried,
Not finding him whose name she cried.
Too many deaths, too many tombs,
Too many crypts that held the doomed.
Forever more she’ll search the graves
To find the love she couldn’t save.
But silent stones forevermore
Will keep her love who went to war.

Stephen P. Smith

taking up a glowing cinder with the tongs and lighting with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious rather than a meditative mood" ~ Dr. John H. Watson ************************
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A Boston University Physician exposes the fallacies of the anti-smoking movement.

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