Thursday, January 31, 2013

You've got to ask yourself

Marcel Proust (1871-1922) was a French writer who is to blame for writing a walloping hearty meatloaf of a book called À la recherche du temps perdu (literally, A Book No One is Likely to Read, since it's over 3,200 pages and has over 2,000 characters with French names in it.)

He is also famous for saying, "Like many intellectuals, he was incapable of saying a simple thing in a simple way."

Books of this length are the sort of reading undertaken by Literature majors, French students, and people with lots and lot of time on their hands.

All this took place before reality tv, dating shows and gun control debates started taking so much of our time.  Young Marcel was able to take a questionnaire sent to him by a friend named Antoinette, in a book she had compiled for recording everyone's thoughts  and intimate reactions to things.  You might say this was the French version of Facebook around the turn of the 20th Century.

But, with so few people having personal computers, iPads or smart phones in the 1890s, his answers received but scant circulation, and then it was 1924 that someone found them in the old book that Antoinette had.  Thrilled at having something he wrote that didn't take six months to read, the French people started a fashion of asking each other questions, based on the questionnaire.

One question they missed was, what the hell good is a beret?  It provides no shade for the ears, nor does it have a brim to keep sun or rain out of one's eyes.
I would have had to bring that up.

As the years went on, French people had so much fun asking each to fill out the Proust questionnaire and eating croissants that our own James Lipton imported it, so that he could grill Hollywood luminaries such as Mr Johnny Depp and Mr Steve Guttenberg with it. 

And now the editors of Vanity Fair use it every month to have some fun with the famous.  You can take the test yourself online, and Vanity Fair magazine will compare your answers to those of 101 various dignitaries. 

I took the test the other night, and I am still stunned that the person like whom I answered the most questions (89.51%) was a man for whom I have virtually no regard whatsoever, namely, weaselly Republican operative Karl Rove.



And I'm 100.00% certain that he wouldn't like me very much either. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

May I have some attention, please?

On the local crime beat, here's the story of a young man who was so in need of attention, he went and got himself arrested!

Young Stephen Sprecher was shown to a room at the Ironbar Hilton because lately, it seemed that every time the cops got a call around here for an alarm going off because someone broke the window out of a building - a gun shop, a liquor store, one of those medical offices where you get to be examined by someone who got all 70's in med school - that guy was hanging around, waiting to be arrested because he felt that he needed attention.

 A pane in the glass
Now, I feel sorry for him, but you'd have to ask a psychiatrist or psychologist about a need for attention so great that getting tossed into the hoosegow seems a suitable solution.  Keith Richards, no stranger to attention-getting stunts himself, once said there is no such thing as bad publicity.  And he proved it time after time, most notably by falling out of a palm tree while trying to get a coconut.  And of course, the flamboyant guitarist has plenty of arrests on his rap sheet, but not for anything so pedestrian as breaking out windows of mercantile establishments.

Mr Richards and his partner Mr Mick Jagger wrote "You Can't Always Get What You Want" many years ago, and the hope here is that Mr Sprecher will come to realize that sometimes, you do indeed get what you need.  He needed attention, and the Baltimore County Police, on behalf of the business owners involved, will see to it that he gets a chance to have every eye in the courtroom on him very soon.

Also on the local crime beat, last Friday evening there was a shooting at the light rail station over in Lutherville.  It turns out that the victim was a man recently convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to serve 24 years in prison.  So, right about now you're probably asking yourself, why is a man who is supposed to be in jail for 24 years riding the light rail?  Well, you see, he has been in work release. 

I posited on Facebook that the proper place for prisoners is prison, prompting a friend to ask if I just felt that offenders should be cast away forever.  Not at all.  But I do feel that they should serve out their complete sentences.  

It's only fair. Their victims deserve nothing less.




Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bonjour, Shalom, and Adios

I always like it when people make gestures and proclamations that are grandiose on the surface and meaningless underneath.

For example, any Kardashian wedding or John Boehner pronouncement.

And then comes largely rural Carroll County MD, a farm and bedroom community on the western edge of central Maryland.

Last week, the County Commissioners, four men and one woman, voted to designate English the official language of Carroll County Government.   Of course, as a reason for this, they couldn't come out and say anything as impolitic as "We don't want any foreigners around here," so they couched the decision in terms dear to anyone looking to save the County a few dollars.  They are claiming a savings to be realized by not having to pay translators to tell the sign shop how to write "NO SMOKING" in Spanish, or hiring bilingual judges for the annual County Fair bakeoff.

The reason I scoff at all this grandstanding is that the commissioners realized the folly of their big show by admitting the need to allow people to speak languages other than English, for example (according to the TIMES article,"including to teach or encourage the learning of languages other than English; to protect the public health, sanitation and public safety; and to protect the rights of criminal defendants and victims of crime."

If a person shows up at a public health clinic and is unable to speak English, the county darned sure has an obligation to treat him or her.  A person in need of EMS services must be communicated with in order to find out the problem and offer assistance.  There are dozens of reasons why people in Carroll County will need to speak languages other than English.

As an aficionado of good English, I worry about the derecho-type storm of Spanish words becoming part of our language! I am glad that the Carroll County Commissioners are vigilantes in this fight against these peccadilloes as well! So just before I take my morning siesta, let me remind the good folks in CarCo that if they are so adamant about English, they should use good English and not have boo-boos like this on their official web page:

Directory of Government Agencies & Services
To find a particular agency you may view the alphabetical list below or enter text in the box below and click search. Click on the Agency Name to view that agencies' web page.

That would be "that agency's web page" in English.  Dudes and lady, if you're going to insist on English only, I'm going to insist on good English only.  ¿Entienden ustedes?



Monday, January 28, 2013

You've been Leo-poled

Unless Pee Wee Herman or Bill Belichick (both well-known television clowns) were to become county executive in Baltimore County, the sought-after title of "Funniest County In Maryland" rests comfortably in the lap of Anne Arundel County.


We talked once or twice before about what goes on down there.  The corruption is so rampant that it shames the rest of us.  There is so much of it down there that when someone is actually indicted, it's like when Steven Adler was thrown out of Guns 'N' Roses for using too much heroin.

County Executive John Leopold is currently on trial in Circuit Court in Annapolis.  People all across the nation, yea, all across the world know Annapolis as the home of the US Naval Academy, the lovely port town where Walter Cronkite moored his sailboat, a tourist destination like few others.

But in a courtroom in that lovely city, people are hearing testimony about how Leopold:
  • forced his police protective detail to drive him around and stand guard while he enjoyed oral sex in his official county car
  • bragged to the cops that it was the best oral sex he had ever had
  • paid officers overtime to watch the cash box at his campaign events
  • told officers driving him around the county to pull over when they passed a campaign sign for his opponent so that Leopold could pull the sign out of the ground and toss it down an embankment
  • had his security detail keep the woman he was running with from running into the woman he was living with
  • and, most tastefully, Mr Leopold had the habit of making county employees empty his urine catheter bag
Of course, all these are just things that people are saying.  Under oath.  In court.  No one has been convicted of anything.  Yet.

Mr Leopold took office as county exec in 2006 after promising to hold down spending and save taxpayer money.  Taxpayers are now on the hook for a large bill from the law firm that the county hired to defend their frugal leader on charges of spending money foolishly for police overtime and running around the county like a teenager, having sex in the car the county supplies him for conducting official business.
You can see why he gets a lot of lovin'

One thing seems certain: as he approaches 70, Mr Leopold still enjoys the old slap-and-tickle.  I feel that he ought to leave public office so as to have more time to spend on his various female friends. If he gets the chance to do so, he should not blow it.

So to speak.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Rerun: A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I gotta have more soup

I used to be much more OCD than I am now.  I mean, there were times when I wouldn't leave the house without making sure that I had exactly six of each coin in my pocket: six quarters, six dimes, six nickels and six pennies. And my good luck medallion from the Babe Ruth Museum.

But as I became more casual in middle age, I gave up that stuff.  Lately, I notice I don't even care which shoe I put on first - it used to have to be the right one first or go barefoot.

But here is a guy who really leads the league in OCD.  He's a Swiss comedian - I know, right? - and he actually took time to arrange the letters in his alphabet soup.  (Apparently, it's known as "letter soup" in Europe.  To me, that sounds like a broth with mail floating in it...junk mail from some maid company, a note reminding me of an appointment, a letter from an old friend.)

His name is Ursus Wehrli, and I was hoping he had enough letters left over to spell it out, but anyway, here are before and after pictures of lunch with Ursus:

There's a story about all this on the NPR website. I'd just say, be glad you didn't invite Ursus to come on over for breakfast.  He'd probably make a jigsaw puzzle out of Wheat Chex!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Saturday Picture Show 1/26/13

 This is how I blogulate on a Saturday morning...all week long, as I sift through the www, I keep an eye out for interesting pictures.  Now, 97% of the pictures on the internet depict Sarah Jessica Parker looking skinny and all dressed up, but you've seen all of them, and I'm not interested anyway.  But I saw this one, of a lavender farm in France, and I wondered about the pay for a job working there.  I mean, how much do YOU pay THEM to spend your days in such gorgeous surroundings, smelling lavender as you go? 
And this one captures so many aspects of our national feline-mania.  All of a sudden, Facebook is fairly overrun with pictures of kittens and cats, adorable and otherwise.  As someone said, suppose cats have their own Facebook, and it's full of pictures of US?  Yikes!  But here's what I like about this picture, art lovers:  The Jolly Roger flag has, for crossbones, fish skeletons, because fish skeletons and cats go together in cartoons like rich old men and floozy chorus girls.  The old sailor cat smoking a pipe is playing the squeeze box, and all the dancing sailor cats are wearing those horizontally-striped French sailor shirts.  And did you notice that the ship is sinking?  Not to worry, though: all of these guys have 8 more lives to give.
 Here we see Sammy Davis, Jr., in his prime, smoking one of the cigarettes that were to kill him in 1990.  That was truly a shame because I think that Sammy was one of the most talented individuals ever to walk, or dance, upon this earth.  I've mentioned many times his quote:  "I got to the point where there were only three important people in the world:  Sammy, Davis, and Junior."  But here's a quote about Sam:  "No one celebrates the self like Sammy Davis, Jr."  I read that in the liner notes of one of his albums.  If you're great, and you know you are, you may feel free to get your first name embroidered on your shirt breast, as Sammy Jr did here. 
They say nothing is new.  The city and county Fire Departments around here have, or at least used to have, bicycles for the use of paramedics at events such as the State Fair, the City Fair, and the County Fair.  It can get trained people and first-responder supplies through a crowd much faster than either people on foot or people driving a vehicle can.  But this is an Italian Firefighter's Bike from 1905.  Think about it...fire engines were still largely horse-drawn affairs then, and this was a way to take two wheels and get the hose in a hurry.  If this bike could talk!  Oh the stories it could tell!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bowled Over

Last Saturday, Peggy and I were thrilled to attend a big underground event!

It was a birthday party for our greatnieces - the twins Preslee and Mason (6) and our goddaughter Finley (4) and it was held at a typical Baltimore kind of place...the fabulous Stoneleigh Bowling lanes, which are below a little strip of stores about a block from where I just retired, and several blocks from where I was once a lethargic high school student. 

The party was fun...the kids were loving it.  Our nieces' grandmom Kathy made 28 poodle skirts for all the little girls in attendance, and the party had a 50s theme.  Seeing the kids bowling, eating cake and ice cream and hopping around to 50s music was a lot of fun.  I'm sure that for most of them, it was their first time to hear Bill Haley and the Comets.

And then Peggy and I got to bowl for a while, and let me tell you...the last time I rolled a bowling ball, Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.  And this is duckpin bowling, which I probably hadn't done since 4th grade!

You might not have duckpins in your town.  They're very popular here in Baltimore.  According to Wikipedia, the legend that the game was invented here lives on. I mean, we always heard that as kids, that John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson, as Baltimore Orioles in the 1890s, developed the game at a bowling alley they owned downtown on Howard Street.  The Wikipedia is sort of murky on the history anyway.  The story we got was the ballplayers wanted a little more action down at the end of the alley, and you surely get that with duckpins.  The pins are short and stubby and you roll a much smaller ball (with no fingerholes) than the one used in tenpins, and boy oh boy, when you hit that kingpin just right, those pins scatter like ducks on a pond!

Hence the name.

We had such a good time, we want to go back sometime and have another one.  Come join us?


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Walk on the Mild Side

I like to walk every day and I like to go outside and strut around the neighborhood more than, say, getting on a treadmill or being a Mallwalker.  It's best to go during the hours of sunlight, though, the way people drive at night around here.  It's not part of my plan to wind up as the hood ornament on some soccer van or hopped-up Honda, driven by a surly teen with a sneer and very poor posture.

I pop the iPod into my ears as I parade along.  It's funny how the 1,847 songs on there all mean something different to me, and I can remember when I heard them first and where I was when I heard them, usually on a scratchy AM car radio.  That's the musical accompaniment, but the visual is placed in my vision as a gift from God, and whoever the yahoos are who toss beer bottles, 5-Hour Energy cans and used prophylactics onto the street.

Come to think of it, those three items probably came out of the same car at more or less the same time.


But it lets me think about the nicer things I see.  Pine trees are all around my neighborhood, and if there is a more perfect tree, it would be a tree that sprouts 20-dollar bills every morning.  Pine trees, being evergreen, are always the same.  If you plant them to block your view of the street, and to stop passersby from seeing you walk around your living room in your boxer shorts, pine trees will always give you the same cover.  They are hardy.  They are the most efficient trees you could have!  They provide their own mulch, for the love of Pete.  Each summer, red needles drop to provide a protective ground cover.  There are no leaves to rake.  And they even provide the kids raw materials for making presents at the holidays!  Take a pine cone, drizzle it with Elmer's Glue, and sprinkle it with glitter, and there's a decoration.  Spread peanut butter on it, hang it outside, and there's a nice treat for the birds.

I like pine trees; you can tell.

Two other things stick out in my mind as I amble along.  If you don't happen to like the community newsletters and "shopper" newspapers that get tossed in the driveway, how's about just picking them up and disposing of them?  So many people just leave the papers out there, and as they survive a couple of rainy nights, they start to look like a papier-mâché version of a old log...which is where paper came from to begin with.  

And, there is an elderly couple down the way.  They've lived in their house since Peggy and I moved here in '87, and chances are they had been here for a long long time before that.  Now, there is no car outside their house, so I assume they no longer drive.  And I wonder, did they stop driving on their own volition or did some family members have to cajole them to give up the keys?  Either way, I have to hope that someone is taking care of their needs and their transportation.  We met them once at a wedding, and they were very nice.  I really hope all is well in their home.  

I guess I can't knock on the door and ask.  Can I? 


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why My Blog Is Late Today

Dear Miss Van Breeman,

(That's the name of my third-grade teacher, who is, without a doubt, standing somewhere right this minute, prim and proper, grade book in hand, ready to grab her red pen and go all "mark it lower" on me...)

No corn in this one!
My blog is late today because I was up til half-past Letterman last night on Amazon.  Do you remember when you showed us a cornucopia and said it was Latin for "too much corn"?  That's the feeling I had.

I have a Bluetooth® device that goes into my Red Ear and lets me hear what people are saying about me.  The only hitch is, they have to be saying these things on my cell phone in a call to me; I can't just tune in to conversations all around.  The Annotated Code of Maryland, which has its origins in Colonial times, says that you can't be driving a car while holding a cell phone in your hand.  No mention of driving while holding a Double Whopper Baconator in one hand with a Super Big Gulp in the other while steering with your knees. 

So I got a Bluetooth® from Peggy for Christmas a couple of years ago and it's worked very well until lately, when it has developed a habit of not working. That's because the battery can't hold a charge for very long.  Oh, you can charge it up, but it just stops working after a while, in much the same fashion as John Boehner. 

But it's a Bluetooth®, not a Tantooth.

So, I need to replace it, and that's why I was on Amazon, and simply by entering "bluetooth headset" in the search box, I got about 37 million replies.  Combing through them was what kept me up until the kid down the street with the part time job got home and set his car alarm.  All I want is a decent little speak and hear device.  I would like a home charger and one for the car.  This is not too much to ask, I don't think, but yet there are just so many devices and so many choices. 

The prices range from $6.24 (can't be very good) to over $200 (who am I, Taggggg Romney or something?)  Some of them have features that will read your texts to you in that curiously nonhuman electro-voice, and I don't need to hear "Stop.At.The.Giant.And.Get.Pastrami.Please" delivered to my ear by Hal 2013.   Sometimes there is such a thing as too much, too many choices, so few ways to discern among the XL-500 (now with Gardol!), the I 8 3 BLTs, and the EarWig 500.

I think I'll go to Radio Shack and throw myself on the mercy of a 17-year old.  That usually works.

Thank you in advance for understanding why my homework is late.  I'll call you!



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You Gotta Measure Up!

It was many years ago that my sainted father showed me something rare in the world of carpentry: a "real" 2x4 that actually measured 2 inches by 4 inches.  Apparently, after the Great Chestnut Blight of 1919, there was wood aplenty to use for 2x4s.  If your house was built while Warren G Harding was in the White House, impregnating the help in the pantry, you may have such studs in your home. Or pantry, as the case may be.

You lumber on into a lumber yard these days and measure the 2x4s, and you'll find piece of former trees that are more like 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches.  Not only that, but if you order some 2x4s for a home project, the guy will ask you how long you want them, and you will never have a better opportunity for bigtime laffs, so go ahead and say, "Well, I wanna keep them!"

You'd think that I "wood" stop making terrible jokes, but I'm just not cut out that way.




Anyway, of course what brought all this to mind was another shortage...and this one doesn't involve lumber, but something infinitely more important: the Subway Footlong belly grenade.  Recently, someone with a sandwich in one hand and a tape measure in the other found out that he was getting shorted on his footlong, and he took a picture as evidence, and the daggone thing went viral!

Well, the good people at Subway spread it on a lot thicker than the spread on the cold cuts when the damning picture got to their attention.  Their official quote had something to do with improper baking of the bread, and that old bug-a-boo, shrinkage, and...


"With regards to the size of the bread and calling it a footlong, "SUBWAY FOOTLONG" is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway® restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length" (emphasis mine.)

Imagine how many executives, public relations flaks and attorneys had to get involved in crafting this steaming pile of nonsense.



You got that?  When we say something is a foot long, well, that's just the name we call it.  Don't go reading into things! 

So should we be careful when we order a "ham" and "cheese" sub? 


When you go "the whole nine yards", is there someone ready to verify that?



Is Miles Davis's real name "Kilometers" Davis?







Monday, January 21, 2013

His Name Was Earl

"I don’t want to spend my whole life watching the sun go down behind the left field bleachers.”

Earl Weaver said that about retirement. He retired at 52 as manager of the Orioles, came back three years later when "the price of a carton of Raleighs went up," and gave up the baseball life for good at age 56.  He spent 13 years playing minor league baseball in the organization of his hometown St Louis Cardinals, but he never made the big leagues as an infielder.  Oriole pitcher Jim Palmer, a fellow Hall of Famer, who battled with Earl for years over all sorts of little things, managed to win 268 games for the Orioles over the years, the vast majority of them coming with Palmer on the mound while The Earl of Baltimore bristled at him in the dugout.  Palmer is one of several Orioles to whom the quote, "The only thing Earl knows about major league pitching is that he couldn't hit it" is attributed. 

Well, the fact is, very few great ballplayers become great managers.  Frank Robinson became a rather good manager, but most men with great skills on the diamond have a terrible time relating to men of lesser skill.  It's just beyond their ken to understand why others can't run, pitch, catch, and hit as well as they could.

One of Earl's secrets was that he just didn't give a rat's asterisk about how well the players liked him, or how they felt he "related" to them.  His management style was like this:  he told each player what would be expected of him, and he expected the player to produce the results expected and make darned few mental errors.  It didn't matter to him if he liked the player or the player didn't like him; as long as the guy did his job, no problems ensued.  He offered this advice, good for any supervisor anywhere:  "Keep the ones who hate you separate from the ones who haven't made up their minds yet."

This was the night that Earl threw the umps out!
So, Earl died the other night, at age 82, on an Orioles off-season cruise.  He was there to talk baseball with a public that adored him more than a quarter-century since he retired, sure to be the leader for all time in the category of "times getting thrown out of a game."  I just can't think of a better way to go, if you have to go at all, then making it fast and being surrounded by the people and the life you love.

One last quote from Earl, who managed "by the book," meaning that he relied on note cards telling him how each of his players did against each other player in the American League, and followed The Accepted Strategy in most baseball decisions (have your left-handed relief pitcher come in to pitch to left-handed slugger, when to hit and run vs when to hit and run).  But sometimes he went against the odds, mixing things up and going against what every manager since Connie Mack has done.  And why do that, he was asked?

"Because everything changes everything."  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Rerun: Splitting Hairs

B. Jones
In our culture, we don't always name hairdids anymore, especially the ones for men.  Used to be, a man could go into a barbershop and ask for a flat top or a Chicago box-car, which was a flattop with long sides and a duck's ass in back.  Or he could say he wanted a Prince Valiant, most notably worn by Brian Jones.  Or of course, there was always the Full Elvis, with the pompadour, slicked sides and a d.a. with sideburns.

D. Beckham
And don't forget the traditional wiffle, or buzz, cut.  I don't know where that name "wiffle" came from, but it's what you get when you just run the clippers all over your melon and cut it down to the lowest length.  This look is popular among David Beckham, Sinead O'Connor, and every male member of the armed forces during their basic training.

S.Keezix
Lately I see a lot of guys - mainly in what I refer to as the "non-retired," or "still working" age group - wearing what I refer to as the "Skeezix" haircut.  That's the one where the hair is pretty short all over and the barber leaves enough at the very front to grab and freeze with hair goo, leaving a look like the picture on the button at right.  That's Skeezix from the Gasoline Alley comic strip.  I know it's an old comic, but everything old comes back again, if you give it enough time.

Isn't that right, Moe?


Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Saturday picture show, 1/19/13

What appears to be a giant blownup Mona Lisa turns out to be a Mona Coffee!  By using cups filled with varying strengths of coffee and coffee with cream, this artist or artists with plenty of time on their hands made a nice display.  Of course, this all took place on a public street in Europe somewhere, and when the police came to make them move along, the crowd hollered, "On what grounds can you force these people to move?" and the police said, "Coffee grounds."  It certainly took a lot of Keurig to say that.
This is interesting.  You see this a lot, and recently it really became awful when a photographer in New York saw a guy get pushed onto the subway tracks, and, instead of rushing to help him, he rushed to take his picture.  People can be such tools.  But in this case, with young Ichabod's melon being swallowed whole by Humphrey the Camel, you'd think the person taking the picture would do something about that, rather than getting this precious shot.  I'm sure the kid will be better after years or decades of therapy; don't worry.
I am not a huge fan of black and white photography.  I mean, it's ok for a black cat wearing a black top hat, but what if this cat were another color?  We'd never know!  But animals wearing hats is always sure-fire photo fodder.  Like that donkey on Hee Haw who wore a straw hat...
This is more of a poster than a picture, but what the hey?  Old Jung had a good thought here.  To answer the question: as a child I read like a madman.  My prized possessions were the World Book Encyclopedia, the Oxford English Dictionary, and the Information Please Almanac.  I would wile away many an afternoon or rainy Saturday reading those volumes cover to cover.  It paid off, too: I can tell you Red Buttons's real name (Aaron Chwatt), how many states have bicameral legislatures (49 - all but Nebraska) or what John Wilkes Booth screamed as he jumped onto the stage at Ford's Theatre after shooting Lincoln ("Sic Semper Tyrannis" - Latin for "Thus Ever to Tyrants.")

The one piece of information that was not in any of those books was what I was supposed to do with all this random knowledge.  It's not on the Internet either - I already Googled it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dear Abby, I write a blog in a large Mid-Atlantic City, and...

Pauline Phillips, the woman who used the pen name "Abigail Van Buren" and invited newspaper readers to write to "Dear Abby" for advice, passed away on Wednesday.  Her late sister Esther "Eppie" Pauline Friedman Lederer, better known as Ann Landers, also wrote an advice column, but as a young newspaper reader, I enjoyed Abby's style of writing and thinking much more. 

One had to read the Baltimore News-American to see Abby; we were always a Sunpapers family, so I had to go to the school library to read the "American," or buy one for a dime when I was feeling flush. 

Someone is passing around a Facebook picture that shows a famous response from Abby to a concerned couple who wrote to her all worked up because a gay couple was moving to their block.  They wanted to know what they could do to improve the neighborhood.

Abby's reply?  "You could move."   Right on.

Anyway, Abby's daughter took over the column from her mom in 2002, also under the name of Abby.  Abby mère had written every word from 1955 until Alzheimer's Disease forced her to retire.  And I don't know who carries the current Abby column; the Sun runs "Ask Amy," but it's not as snappy as Abby was in her day.

But then again, the questions that people ask!  I remember so many of the old Abby questions: a woman always wore the same dress to work on Friday that she wore on Thursday! Heavens!  That must mean she doesn't sleep at home on Thursday night, and you know what THAT means, right, Abby?

Dear Abby...
Or the newlywed guy who wrote to ask if it were all right for his wife to sleep "in the raw" and fix his breakfast the same way.  Abby said it was ok with her, but she wouldn't advise it for someone frying bacon.

Here's my thing:  who are these people?  Sure, I understand everyone has their problems, and if you object to gay people living on your street you have more problems than a newspaper column can cure, but why do you say, "Agnes?  Get me a piece o' paper and a pencil!  I'm gonna write to Dear Abby and see what she thinks about our situation of why the neighbors allow their dog to dine at the table!"

I'd be too embarrassed to ask.  But that's just me.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not live, not local, heartbreaking

This story just broke last night, it seems confusing, in that it involves the death of someone who was never born.

Whoa, back up, I know.

All right.  This fellow Manti Te'o, a football player from Notre Dame, dedicated this past season to the memory of someone he called his girlfriend.  Her name was Lennay Marie Kekua, a student at Stanford University.  To be fair about it all, he had just lost his grandmother right before the season started, and he had been involved with Ms Kekua online and on the phone only, but he apparently was quite emotionally invested in the relationship.  He says she was ill and told him to still play on and do his best in case she died.

Then, he told his coach that he had lost both his grandmother and his girlfriend, having received word of her passing.

Te'o played the season under the impression that the woman he cared for so deeply had lost her battle with cancer.  He finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, played in the national championship game against Alabama (Notre Dame was soundly defeated in that sorry contest) and entered 2013 looking forward to the NFL draft this spring, although most scouts felt that his lackluster performance in the Alabama buttkickin' took down his stock among the pro teams a bit.

And then, the athletic director at Notre Dame received a phone call from the phone number belonging to the "late" Ms Kekua, according to this online story.  Notre Dame hired an investigator, who found that several people had cooked up the scheme.  They went so far as to use pictures of another woman to set up fake social media accounts in the name of Ms Kekua.  The investigators were not able to find any record of the birth, death, or enrollment at Stanford for one Lennay Kekua.

Deadspin.com apparently did all the investigation on this story and found out many disturbing facts.  It's fascinating.  Someone or some people sent this football star online messages and called him, and he came to believe that he was in love with a woman who never existed, and they kept up the hoax for over three years.

People's senses can be overruled by the heart.  I once knew a man who thought his own mother died because he was told that someone who looked like his mother had passed away, so he went with the story until he went to his mother's house to claim her belongings and found her there, as alive as she could be.

But you have to question why Notre Dame University, a school so in love with legends and mythology, would use this to beat the publicity drum for Te'o's campaign for Heisman glory.  Remember, they once talked their quarterback Joe Theismann into changing the pronunciation of his surname from THEEZman to THIZEman so that it would rhyme with Heisman.  And he did it.  And he lost the trophy to Jim Plunkett, who pronounced his name in the standard manner.

A man is fooled into thinking he has met another person, whose part is being played by other people.  And he thinks she loves him and he loves her and they are going to get married and he leads himself to believe they vacationed together in Hawaii and then she dies but one of her last messages tells him not to attend her funeral, since it's more important to play football than to attend the burial of the woman you love.


I'm starting to think this internet thing might not be all that perfect.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Circles and cycles

Later this week, a lot of people are going to be talking about Lance Armstrong, that lying sack of shiittake mushrooms who, for years and years took drugs, and for ten years denied that he took drugs, until he got a chance to make a confession and hoped to regain some of the trust he once enjoyed so he can get back in the business of his gigantic mass deception.

I don't give a bicycle seat if he had smoked or snorted or popped or guzzled rye whiskey for all those years.  Bike racing is so boring, you could almost understand that. 

No, he took drugs to help himself cheat, to give himself an unfair edge against the other competitors.  And then he "won" race after race and bragged of his greatness. 

And now that the wheels have come off his bike, so to speak, he wants to be forgiven, and tell his story to Oprah.  I hope he mentions that he was born in Dallas, and was named after Lance Rentzel, the former Cowboys wide receiver who got shown the door from the NFL after two convictions for exposing himself to young schoolgirls and one marijuana bust.  Another outstanding citizen.

No, I don't have time to even consider Lance Armstrong, and I'm glad that I didn't run out and buy a rubber band with his slogan on it so that he could take the profits and buy more dope.

I'm thinking instead about a young lady named Alexis Wineman, from Cut Bank, Montana.

Alexis Wineman
At 11, just 7 years ago, Alexis was was diagnosed as being a child within the autism spectrum.  Doctors said she is dealing with Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) and borderline Asperger's Syndrome. Although I happen to love several people in that struggle, I don't claim to understand all about it, and bow my heads to the children and their parents as they manage lives with difficulties in social interaction and communication.  In Alexis's case, she felt alone, walled off from family and schoolmates.

But she says that her diagnosis led to careful treatment from her parents, and teachers and counselors at school, which led to her stepping outside of herself and becoming a cheerleader and member of the speech and drama clubs.

And in those seven years, she gained self assurance and confidence enough to enter pageants, and last Saturday night, she represented Montana in the Miss America contest.

I'm not saying that being in this competition is, or should be, the sort of goal that children with autism ought to set for themselves.  I don't really care for these pageants, as I feel they objectify women for their looks over their contributions to society as people, and that they set unrealistic standards, painting an image of the "Ideal Woman," instead of presenting a more balanced concept.

But Ms Wineman chose to enter the local and national contests, reciting a comic monologue to talk about the need for a good healthy self-image for all women, no matter their dress size, shape and appearance.  That can only be good for all of us.  Her talk also touched on the ways society treats people who are thought of as being "different."  And, she says that this self-discovery got her interested in acting and amusing others.

So, if you're interested in seeing a dishonest person groveling on a TV show, you can enjoy seeing Mr. Armstrong talk to Oprah.  As for me, I am glad that Alexis Wineman found it in herself to face the hand she was dealt, and that people in her life chose to help her.  Being Miss Montana is not that great a deal, compared to being Miss Wineman. 
 
 
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Three Simple Rules

For those of you planning on careers in the television industry, I have three bits of advice, gleaned from many hours of staring at the tube.  These are the Three Cardinal Rules of Television:

1 - If you find yourself serving as the "anchor" on a newscast, the law says that you must blame the meteorologist when it rains, and thank him or her when it's sunny and 70°.  It will be required of you to chirp up with some variant of, "Well, Tom, a lot of people are upset because it rained this morning!  What do you have to say for yourself, eh?"  Or - "Well, we had a beautiful day today, sunny and not a cloud in sight....THANK YOU, Willie Weathersby!"  There is a secondary by-law to this rule, and it states that even if your area has not seen a drop of rain since shortly after Noah sailed, no matter how severe the drought, you must bemoan the fact that it might rain on a Saturday, thereby scotching all those plans for golf outings and weddings. 

2 - Serving as the anchor for an early morning TV show such as "Today," "CBS This Morning," or "Good Moaning, America" is regarded as a great job, one to aspire to and work toward.  Typically, people who do this sort of work start out in small stations as reporters, wind up as local anchors and then progress to being network reporters before being hired for a job that pays in the millions of dollars per year.  It is a coveted and rewarding position.  So, the minute you get one of these jobs, immediately start complaining about having to get up early to do it.  This will ingratiate you with people who get up early to shovel manure, drive busloads of kids to school, or take toll money down at the bridge for 1/100th of your salary. 

3 - Not all the jobs in television are for those seen on the air.  Being the director or producer of a show or a live event such as a football game is a wonderful job for people who can learn to concentrate on dozens of things at once.  The successful director of live football coverage must always remember that there is some sort of federal law that says:

§ 7-2-102 Any quarterback who throws an interception, or any player who shall fumble a ball which is recovered by the opposing team, shall be shown on the sidelines immediately thereafter with a forlorn look of chagrin on his face.

§ 7-2-102 -B  Should the opposing team score a touchdown or field goal as a direct result of the interception or fumble, the guilty player must be shown in his seated position on the bench, his head buried in his hands, and his disconsolate eyes misting.  It is optional for a coach or fellow player to approach the bereaved and smack him on the shoulder (if sitting) or rump (if standing).

§ 7-2-102 - C   Should any game be within two minutes of completion with the losing team behind by three points or fewer, it is Federal Law that their placekicker be shown kicking practice field goals into a net on the sidelines while being left strictly alone by his teammates.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Try and ketchup

I've noticed over the years that it's best to eat regionally-popular food in the same region in which it is famous.

For example, if you find yourself in Ohio, ordering "Maryland-style Crab Cakes," you are likely to find a plate before you with two yellowish fried hockey pucks that taste more like cracker meal than a real Maryland crab cake.  You don't want to order seafood in a landlocked state.  Ask for the chili instead; Cincinnati-style (you get a bucket's worth of chili riding high atop a mountain of spaghetti.)

There are dozens of "So-and-So's Original New York Style Bagels" around our town, and you might think you're getting a real Noo Yawk kinda bagel dere until you work with a guy who used to be a Mafia bookkeeper and would run up to Gotham in the middle of the night and bring back a couple of dozen for the gang.  Now, dat's da real t'ing, you know whadI'msaying heah?

So with that in mind, I bring to your attention the recent set-to between Lawrence Ordone and Luis Martinez down in a WalMart in Orlando, FL.  Luis, who apparently is quite the gourmand, stopped by the WalMart to visit the Subway and get himself a Philly Cheese Steak.

At a Subway.  In a WalMart.  In Orlando.

Lawrence told him that Subway did not put ketchup on a cheese steak sub and, in fact, did not even number ketchup among its available condiments, which are mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, and oil. He also tried to point out that no one ever puts ketchup on a cheese steak.

Apparently, Martinez insisted on having Heinz's finest on his cheese steak and pushed the point to the point at which Ordone thought he was about to go get a gun.  Martinez said that Ordone hollered at him in front of Martinez's wife and thought Ordone was going for a gun.  Ordone called 911 and then ran for it.

He no longer is employed as a sandwich technician.  But according to this article, his new stance is, if he's employed at another sandwich shop in the future, and people want to bring their own ketchup to the joint, he won't say a word.

But no one puts ketchup on a cheese steak, it says here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Rerun: A real Turner classic

Believe it or not, in 1945, 90 million people  - 60% of the population - attended a movie at least once per week in America.

We went to see "Ted" a couple of weeks ago because I support Seth McFarlane's right to say anything he wants to.  He's like that Chicken Man, only with something worthwhile to share.  But before that, I can't tell you the last time Peggy was at a picture show, and I have only been to the movies to see Jackass films.  You cannot apprehend the beauty, the subtle nuance of 3-D flying poop at home on your TV, you understand.

Why don't we go more often?  Answers most often given include "why should I pay those bastards 12 bucks to sit there while people eat chicken tenders, their lips smacking like giraffes consuming combretum leaves from atop a tree?" and "I can see this bomb in three weeks on pay per view for a lot less," And of course, staying home means not having to share the theater with the likes of Kyle Tanner (above).

Getting back to the days when almost all of America was headed for the Bijou to see Lana Turner or Clark Gable, I am a huge fan of Turner Classic Movies, conveniently located at channel 890 on Comcast.  The other day, while watching the merry mixups of Ms Turner, Robert Young and Walter Brennan in a little movie called "Slightly Dangerous," I tried to picture myself in the movies on a Saturday night in 1943 when the movie came out.  Let's say I was then the same age as I am now, making me about 50 years too old for the draft.  So I'm at the Towson Theater with my bag of popcorn and a soda and having a heckuva time watching Lana pretend to be a missing heiress but giving it all up for love for Robert Young, before Father Knows Best.  And Walter Brennan - 14 years before he starred in The Real McCoys - was the rich guy who suddenly wound up getting to pretend that Lana was his daughter.  And then after the movie, I might get in the roadster and go for a coddie somewhere.

No 24-screen multiplexes, no 3D, no chicken tenders. One theater, one screen, take it or leave it.
 
I'd take it!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Saturday picture show, 1/12/13

 There is nothing like a good pun that involves a dinosaur who wears a monocle and a derby hat.  It's fortunate that his little stubby arms are long enough to hoist that cuppa tea to his prognathous snout.
I found this one online and I wish I knew where such a wooded trail exists.  How cool would it be to walk there?

 This picture reminds me that even though we build walls to keep ourselves barricaded from others or from realities unpleasant and otherwise, we can't stop the sun from shining.  As soon as we give the happiness a chance, it will shine through for us.
From 1921, here's a picture of a young lad selling newspapers in Washington, DC.  Price of the paper was 2 cents.  Notice the headline: MILLIONAIRE TAX RENDS GOP.  Well, they're still saying the same thing, all these years later.  Don't tax millionaires! Why should they pay more in taxes than a struggling lower-middle class family?  Because from those to whom much is given, much is expected.  John Kennedy said that, and he came from great wealth and gave his life serving the nation.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My good idea for the month

I'm not going to share the website for obvious reasons, but I think it's sort of a bad idea to run a headline over a slide show of "Top 10 Dangerous Teenage Fads You Should Know About." 

Especially when a teen, or any impressionable person of any age, can click on the link and see a veritable plethora of stupid things to do.

Kids try to get high all the time.  If they aren't breaking into Dad's hooch cabinet, they're ripping off big brother's stash.  Or doing odd things with candy, or mixing candy and cough syrup and Sprite.

I can't even stand Sprite by itself, so adding codeine and Jolly Ranchers is not going to appeal to me, but to a kid who wants to get buck wild down behind the Try 'n' Save, that might be the ticket.

She and her family love them pranks!
And kids are always up for pool party crashing, cramming themselves into car trunks or atop trains or I don't know what-all else, but they could learn a lot of dumb things to try from reading this website.

I just got an idea:  Let's tell kids that they can get high by shoveling snow, mowing lawns or raking leaves!  Tell them that honey added to iced tea has definite aphrodisiac effects!  Make 'em think that if they spend an afternoon down at the local fire house waxing the engines, Mila Kunis will give them a ride home for their trouble!  Give them the impression that listening to Bing Crosby for an entire weekend will leave them so high, they'll never come down! Convince them that reading Kerouac will teach them the secrets of life!

Well, maybe that last one is true.  Still...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Just the tip, please

Peggy and I are not big on going out to a lot of ritzy, swanky, hi-class restaurants.  I really don't need someone with a towel over one forearm handing me the cork for my sniff-test, or anyone wearing a tuxedo, or a chance to demonstrate my college French, since I'd probably wind up ordering fried tablecloth.

We love Friendly Farms and the Double-T diner and the Cracker Barrel, and none of those places are good places to find snobs and gourmets. 

You know what else we like, is to talk to the people in restaurants...fellow diners, and staff.  I love people and their stories, and some of the nicest people in the world are people at places like those mentioned above.

And, you know, when you pay for your food, you're paying the people who own the joint.  The American custom is to tip the server who has taken your order and brought you everything from a relish tray to a cup of Almond Joy ice cream. 

We understand that, but there are plenty of people out there who look for ANY way to chisel the server out of his or her tip.

"Why, I had to wait to be seated!" 
"Gee, my fourth Pepsi didn't have enough ice!"
"For the love of Pete, they ran out of cocktail sauce!"
"Well, all she did was bring the food!"

I know that there are hundreds of phony reasons why people wouldn't leave a tip, but they're all pretty poor.  Unless the server is actively hostile toward you and your party, unless he deliberately dumps salad dressing down the back of your jacket with one hand while holding the neck of your jacket with the other, and/or unless she not only fails to bring your food out of the kitchen but somehow obtains your cell number and calls you from the kitchen to taunt you by saying that she and the dishwasher are chowing down on your chow...then you need to tip,  20% at least, please.  It's part of the dining-out experience.

if you're asking what led me to this rant, it is this image that someone posted (at right).  What this is, is some cheap bastardo looking for a way out of leaving a tip.  I can just see him typing this up and printing it out on his home printer.  He probably printed out two hundred of them and saved the original to his desktop so he can quickly crank out dozens more, next time he's stepping out. 

Proposition 30 was a ballot initiative on the California election last November, and it passed, meaning that sales tax went up for everyone, and income taxes on people who make more than a quarter of a million dollars per year will go up as well.  "From those to whom much is given, much is expected," as John Kennedy said. 

"Pay your taxes and pay a nice tip to someone who brings you dinner, and act like you've been out before," would be my advice.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

College is a place of learning

Let's say you're a young man, just graduating from an Alabama or Georgia high school, and you've been a standout member of your football team as a linebacker.

Now let's say you get a scholarship to play football at the University of Alabama, a school legendary in football circles, the team which just the other night won its second consecutive national championship (15th total).

Now let's say you travel with the team to Miami for the big game, the Bowl Championship Series game we just talked about.  Do you follow the team rules, and get to be there for the game, and maybe even get in for a play or two, as the game was a rout from the opening kickoff?

Or do you break curfew and get sent home by coach Nick Saban?

Anderson and Lee
Dillon Lee, out of Buford, GA, and Ryan Anderson, the pride of Daphne AL, are the young men we're talking about.  Over the weekend as the Crimson Tide prepared for the game, these two broke curfew rules and were sent back to Tuscaloosa for their foolish behavior.

When you think about it, the coach had no other choice.  Discipline must be maintained in an endeavor that requires dozens of people working together for a common goal, and free-thinkers are best advised to follow an individual sport.

Plus, Saban only had to follow a precedent set by the great coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who is still regarded as a diety across the South.   Bryant's quarterback in the early 60's was Joe Namath, a great college player who became a great pro as well.  Before his final game against Miami and the Sugar Bowl game in his junior year, Joe stepped out to a local diner one evening and sipped some beer.  The team rule was firm: no alcohol was to be consumed during the season. The coach found out, and there was nothing else to do but suspend his star for the rest of the season.  To do otherwise - to give the star a break while purporting to have a system of rules for all the team - would have been wrong.

We have no public reaction shared as yet from Messrs. Lee and Anderson.  But in 1963, Joe Namath stood up like a man.  His public statement was, "I broke a training rule."  He accepted the punishment, and the lesson that came with it.

Namath and Bryant
And to this day he credits Coach Bryant with teaching him a valuable lesson. Let's hope that ten years from now, as young Lee and Anderson have moved on to fame and fortune as NFL stars, they credit Coach Saban with punishing them at a crucial time, and in a way that taught them a valuable lesson.





Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Absolut Hypocrites

The boy takes a nice mugshot
The grandson of entertainer Ron Paul, the son of way-out Senator Rand Paul (who once said, "A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination, even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin") was arrested on Saturday night in North Carolina after he got off an airplane.

William Hilton Paul, 19, was charged with underage drinking, disorderly conduct and being intoxicated and disruptive.

19-year-old people are not supposed to be drinking alcohol.

No one of any age is supposed to be conducting themselves in a disorderly manner.  We're not allowed to go around in public while intoxicated and disruptive.

Ron Paul
No word from his father, who always has a lot to say about everything else under the sun, or his former congressman and erstwhile presidential candidate grandpa, who always has something crazy to say, one example of which would be the time he came out with,"You wanna get rid of drug crime in this country? Fine, let's just get rid of all the drug laws."

DUI Senator
I guess what we need is more politicians who lead clean, abstemious, upstanding lives.  Like Mike Crapo ("say it 'KRAY-po' ") who is a republican senator from Idaho.  Crapo often talks of his Mormon faith, which prohibits him from consuming alcohol.  So why was he in Alexandria (VA) District Court the other morning?

He admitted guzzling vodka tonics alone in his Capitol Hill apartment on the night of Dec. 22.  After that, he thought it would be a good idea to risk killing innocent drivers, passengers and pedestrians, so he got in a Jeep and drove through DC into Alexandria, where he blew a red light and then blew a 0.11 on a breath test. His arresting officer noted bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and an odor of alcohol.

Hauled before a judge, he copped a plea of guilty to drunken driving and received a suspended sentence of 180 days in jail, a $250 fine, a year’s suspension of his driver’s license and enrollment in an alcohol safety program.

But Senator, you have made a point of condemning the use of alcohol!  What say you now?

“I have recently made personal choices that are at odds with who I am, who Idahoans rightly believe me to be and who I strive to be,” is what he said after his ten-minute trial.

Don't you love how no one does anything wrong anymore?  No, we "make choices."  So, Senator Crapo, could you at least make the choice either to stop claiming to be stone cold sober all the time or start making extra bucks doing vodka ads?  One or the other.
 
At least young Paul was not behind the wheel of a car, or flying the plane on which he got in trouble, although, still, his parents need to sit him down and point out that his shenanigans could make the family look foolish.  Whoa.  Too late.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Just a game

The big news around Baltimore this past week has been the retirement of Ray Lewis, the linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens.  Ray was an original member of the team, having been drafted out of the U of Miami in 1996, and this, his 17th season in the National Football League, will be his last.

He now joins what people are calling the Mount Rushmore of Baltimore.  Not that we have any mountains around here in which to carve four illustrious faces, but if we did, Ray's visage would be up there along with Cal Ripken, Jr, Brooks Robinson and Johnny Unitas.  Sports heroes all, and contributors to the community at large as well.  It's nice to imagine what such a monument would look like and how much fun it would be to ride past it.

The Ravens won their game yesterday (ironically played against the Indianapolis NFL team, who used to play here until the Devil moved them to the Hoosier state in 1984) and so will advance in the playoffs, although there will be no more home games.  Therefore, yesterday was the final time for #52 to do his "Squirrel Dance" before the roaring crowd.  You can see that by clicking here.

When you see the video, and hear the tumult, and you realize that this sort of thing brings cities together. Look at Facebook while the games are going on; people change their status minute to minute to reflect their joy or disappointment, as the game develops.  Look around the grocery store or the office or the mall on a Friday and see the people in their purple and black, the Ravens colors.  It's good for the town's morale and good for business, too.  People are happy to join the fun, wearing jerseys and t-shirts and eating purple cupcakes and so on.
 
I was watching the game yesterday while looking over emails, etc.  On Instagram, a friend who is in Rome posed for a picture in the Colosseum, which was like our M&T Bank Stadium.  In the early Roman days (the amphitheater was built in 80 AD) crowds of 50,000 people would gather there to watch mock sea battles, dramas, animal hunts and executions.  71,000 people jammed into our stadium yesterday to watch a football game.  Nothing has really changed, except for a greater seating capacity.



 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday rerun: Give it arrest

People think I'm a liberal on every issue because I'm a yellow dog Democrat, but on crime and punishment issues, I guess you'd describe my stance as existentialist.  One aspect of existentialism stresses personal responsibility for making it (or not) in this mean old world.  In fact, at crime scenes, when mobs form around the cops and robbers, I am often able to cut the line and gain access to a front row vantage point by shouting, "Let me through! I'm an existentialist!" as the crowd parts like the Red Sea.

Recently, our part of town has been beset by house burglaries.  These are not usually well-thought criminal conspiracies by masterminds, but, rather, a couple of losers kicking in a door, ripping off electronic devices and any cash that might be lying about.  Take a look at our local Patch, and their story about a couple of upstanding locals who were pinched the other day.  This couple was arrested yesterday afternoon with a lot of stuff of which they could not immediately establish ownership in their car, but that's beside the point.  They'll have their day in court and if they have any luck at all, they won't see my unforgiving face in the jury box.

But the comment made by one fellow citizen really makes my furrow my brow and shake my head.  It's the comment where the guy says he knows the dude involved, that he has struggled with drug addiction and he hopes he gets some help with that.  How about, I hope that people who have been burgled in our town get their stuff back AND I hope this fine young man gets to go to the Ironbar Hilton and spend some being penitent in the penitentiary?  They named it that for a reason!

I don't hold with the theory that people who are drug addicts and therefore have to steal stuff to pay for their habits deserve to be treated with the same respect as those who are afflicted with, say, leukemia, or some other random illness that strikes with no reason or cause.  I doubt that there is one person who has never heard that drug use and abuse lead to awful consequences.  Paying the price for those consequences is part of growing up and being a responsible member of our community.  We can help these people by not treating them like victims of a disease.