Posted on September 15th, 2006 at 1:33 pm by gregh.

Recently I biked down and watched a little bit of the Chicago Air and Water show. While there I got see four helicopters perform air acrobatics that I didn’t think helicopters could do while remaining airborne. Saw a group of paratroopers dancing in the sky. Lastly I heard, felt, and saw the F-18 Blue Angles screaming overhead. I cheered on the streaking fighter jets. It flooded back memories of my childhood. Living near an airbase our games of basketball/software/tag/whatever were always interrupted by a sonic boom. The kids on the block would stop whatever we were playing and scan the sky for the jet, pointing wildly after we spotted it.

On the ride back I began thinking a lot of people do not share this reaction to a screaming jet fighter. (Note: The Air and Water show took place during the whole Hezbollah/Israeli conflict). I’m sure the sound of the sonic boom causes many people to run, and hope that their loved ones are all right. Then after the stillness returns to peek out and see if their world has changed.

Now this thought has not ruined Air Shows for me. I’ll still be amazed by the pilot’s skill, and engineering of the aircraft. I can wait to see the F-22 or F-35, but when I do the image will be tempered with the knowledge that somewhere civilians maybe running from these aircraft.

An open letter to Chicago Aldermen

Posted on August 24th, 2006 at 12:24 pm by gregh.

Dear Aldermen,

I wish to congratulate you on the success you have had in banning foi gras throughout Chicago. The cruelty the birds go through in their finals weeks of life is inhuman. I can only hope that the rest of the country follows your lead.

Please do not stop your crusade at foi gras. I wish to bring to your attention the Peruvian delicacy of guinnie pig. In the United States guinea pig is a common pet kept by millions of American children, not something to appear on your dinner plate! Could you imagine the horror little Timmy would suffer if he saw Nibbles on a spit? Completely unacceptable, you must continue your crusade against obscure foods that virtually no one eats, and ban the sale of guinea pig for human consumption in Chicago!

I realize that there are only a handful of Peruvian restaurants are in Chicago, and I don’t think any of them have guinea pig on the menu, but we cannot take the chance the restaurants will not start serving guinea pig. I know some people foolishly say that the free-market can dictate what is acceptable for human consumption. But they are wrong. If free-market worked then there would be no sale of foi gras in Chicago. Instead there was a steady stream of consumption of foi gras in Chicago.

I know you have several pressing issues to deal with in Chicago (Education, Budget, Property Tax’s, Poverty, Crime, Minimum Wage, Corruption, Unemployment) but you need to continue your crusade for animal rights, and ban the sale of guinea pig at restaurants!

(Not a resident of Chicago)

War was great, lets do it again next week!

Posted on August 15th, 2006 at 12:25 pm by gregh.

So Israel and Hezbollah now have a cease-fire. No one is optimistic that the cease-fire will last, and the hostilities will explode in the future. It’s weird, but everyone seems to be saying they won this war. Hezbollah’s leader is saying he won basically because he isn’t dead. Syria and Iran are being cheerleaders and saying Hezbollah won. Israel is saying they won by crippling Hezbollah and preventing the Hezbollah state within Lebanon state from continue to exist. While the US is cheering that Hezbollah lost, and we won for brokering a cease-fire. Whatever happened to the original cause of this dispute? Has Shebaa Farms changed hands? What happened to the kidnapped Israeli solders? All that seams to be clear is several thousand people died, and countless homes were destroyed. But hey, at least everyone was a winner.

All of this just reminds of Civilizations. Now my years of Civilizations playing has taught me how Lebanon can solve their Shebaa Farms problem. Lebanon should focus on culture building and try expanding their culture to get the Shebaa Farms. Maybe work on getting a great artist to be born, and performing a great work of art in Shebaa. Lebanon better start moving on the culture plan, because the game ends in 44 turns, unless they choose to play one more turn.

Become a U.S. Citizen in less than 10 minutes

Posted on August 3rd, 2006 at 7:36 pm by Taz.

Today, the sky cried as Bolivia lost another of her citizens to the United States. Today was the day I swore allegiance and took an oath to become an American Citizen. What does it take to become an American Citizen, you may ask. Is it a magic incantation recited over a naked virgin covered in blood? Is it a baptism that cleanses your soul which absolves you of sins past by a priest that has powers unimaginable to mere mortals that can only be described as god-like?

The answer is YES. When you go to swear in, you go to a holy temple to perform the ritual called a “Dirksen Federal Building.” This ritual can only be performed by a highest of the local priests sometimes referred as “jugdes from the U.S. District Court Northern District IL.” The high priest is so sacred that she cannot be photographed only looked at. Not even the ground she walks on where the miracle is performed is allowed to be photographed. Before the high priest can perform this sacred of rituals, she requires the canidates to be kept in a certain order so as to not to have chaos on her sacred ground. So she designates helper altar priests called “INS Officers” who confirm who you are and verifiy that you are indeed holy enough to stand before the high priest. They do this with varies tests. One of which is a questionaire of ten questions. One question asks you if you joined a communist party or nazi party in the last 30 days. Only after completing this test and mark it with your signature may you enter the sacred ground of the high priest. Once everyone is seated in the order you entered the temple can the ceremony begin.

Although the canidates need to arrive at 8am the high priest does not actually need to be present for the preparations so she arrives about an hour and fifteen minutes later to ensure that we are commited to the ceremony. Once the baptism begins, we are kept quiet as she receits some incantations to prepare for the actual conversion.Me recieving my American Citizen Certificate

When she finishes speaking, as if possesed by some great spirit, everyone raises their right hand and begins to recite an “Oath of Allegiance” spell. In this “Oath” spell, there is stuff about renouncing previous states and sovereignties and to support the new tribe and its laws by taking arms against all enemies, foreign and domestic. After all said and done you awaken to a feeling of a passion for your new home. You feel compelled to say a little prayer of your own called “Pledge of Allegiance.”

Once all this is completed, the high priest’s job is done and she retires to her cavern of darkness. The altar priests rush to the newly joined brethern and give them a holy piece of a tree that signifies that you have been freed and now everyone must acknowledge your new freedom. It also serves as proof to all who doubt you of your religious experience so you may obtain another one that is used for traveling.

The whole ceremony takes less than 10 minutes long. Afterwards, you feel like going to your home to reflect on your experience. Trying to leave the sacred temple is a lot harder than getting in because you find yourself surounded by other bretern who want you to join their group for “Voting” for some new leader. They inform you that you can now participate in future holy events like “jury duty”. After doing this, you may leave the temple and walk back into the dark and stormy weather outside where you only have your thoughts left wondering whether this was all worth it. I will keep you posted.

Written on: July 20, 2006 @ 17:08 Edited on: Post Date

I think I may losing your mind

Posted on August 2nd, 2006 at 9:09 am by Prisoner.

I have recently been drifting in and out of what most people would consider to be rational thought. After having resurected my iPod using the “Drop and Pray” method I found myself listening to my whole playlist on random. This is an activity I highly discourage. Especially all of you out there who think reality is a Hoopy place to be. The opening cords were not familiar to me so I glanced at my much abused screen. I caught the name of the track and had what I can only describe as a temporary detatchment of my cerebral cortex. It turns out that I was listening to the MI2 sountrack. The specific track was named “Nyah” pronounced Nye-Ah. However I read this as Niii-ya (imagine a Pirate going nya-nya-nya) I found this so odd and amusing that I rather loudly repeated the word outloud as I heard it in my head. On a side note this all occured during my break at work and I had been sitting in the Hospital Cafeteria. Needless to say my sudden outburst caused a few heads to turn. As soon as I finished my outbusrt I realized the proper pronunciation of said song title. This then stuck me as incredibly amusing and I began to laugh at myself muttering Nyah (improperly pronounced) in between my bouts of laughter. I don’t think that it comes as a surprise that even more heads were turning a this point.

So I have come to ask myself why my mind seems to go on brief holidays and I have come to the conclusion that I am borrowing my sanity from some source. Or perhaps it is a time-share.  I am not entirely sure. All I know is that my credit seems to be running thin at the mind-bank. Come to think of it wasnt “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank” a really bad Sci-Fi movie with Raul Julia in it? Spending time as a fox as punishment for a crime must be strange. But then I would know if I was a dog or a cat. What the hell are foxes?!?! Hmm I think I am done imitating Chef Brian for a while. Back to floating around in a man made lake with a cooler of beer on a liferaft I suppose.

A Tax on Walmart…

Posted on July 28th, 2006 at 10:36 am by gregh.

This week in Chicago, the city council is passed a new ordinance that would require “Big-Box” retailers (90,000 sq ft, and 1 billion in gross sales) in Chicago to pay $10/hour with $3 in benefits by 2010, after that it increases with inflation. This law is targeting Wal-Mart, but will also apply to Target, Home Depot, and others. Before the ordinance passed Wal-Mart said it would not build stores in Chicago if it passed. Target claimed it would close store in the city.

Several people are calling this a living wage law. I don’t believe it is, it is just an anti-Wal-Mart law. If you wanted to pass a living wage law, then make the minimum wage $10/hour for everyone. Not just “Box-Box” retailers. All you will do by passing this ordinance is making headlines, possibly get reelected, and discourage the building of 90,000 sq ft stores. If reports of Wal-Mart’s penny pinching are to be believed, Wal-Mart would still build stores in Chicago, Wal-Mart would just hire fewer people to run the stores.

If this ordinance remains on the books, it will be interesting to see the economic impacts on the communities in and around Chicago.

Learn something new every day…

Posted on July 12th, 2006 at 12:08 pm by gregh.

You learn something new everyday; this weekend I learned several new things. One, do not treat a kayak like a canoe. Two, the Chicago River does stink, and clothes will stink after being washed in the river. Three, cell phones and the Chicago River do not mix. Four, kayaking is fun!

Discovery: A very large rocket for the 4th!

Posted on July 5th, 2006 at 2:26 pm by gregh.

Yesterday on the 4th of July the Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Cape Canaveral into orbit. Every time I watch a shuttle launch I am simply amazed. I watch the shuttle leave the launch pad and leave our atmosphere. I stair in awe at the representation of mankind’s technological achievement. I get lost in the scale of the operation. The size of the building/vehicals/launchpads the complexity of the everything is simply incredible, and it all works. Granted there are accidents, things fail; with something this complex it will happen. Our hope is that the failure can be mitigated. If you listen to the mission controllers during launch, every step of the way they are calling out where the shuttle will abort to, if anything goes wrong. Unfortunately Columbia and Challenger’s disasters occurred with no chance of saving the crew’s. But we learned from their sacrifices and find solutions.

Our Space exploration was born out of a contest with the old Soviet Union. Now China has set a plan in place to go to Mars and we have picked up their gauntlet. I hope China nor us give up on this ambitious plan. Going to the moon was an unbelievable accomplishment, if either of country gets a man to mars, and returns him to earth, it is the next Everest.

Shouldn’t you be working on something important?

Posted on June 6th, 2006 at 11:23 am by gregh.

“Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”

The senate is currently debating if we should add this text (or another very similar version) to the constitution. Is it just me or aren’t their more important things congress should be working on? It almost feels like you walk by an employee’s cube and you catch them playing minesweeper instead of working. We have a skyrocketing national debt, heath care costs are exploding, long-term social security viability, our nationwide dependence on oil, hell even immigration reform is a better topic. It may just be me, but gay marriage is such a low priority for me.

Personally I believe homosexual’s should be allowed to marry, and be treated the same as everyone else. It may take a generation or two but this will happen.

Death Valley Photos

Posted on June 2nd, 2006 at 1:56 pm by kowgod.

Just wanted to let everyone know real quickly that you can now view 280 of the choicest photos from Death Valley on my Flickr page.

I have not begun to caption them, yet, but I hope to get to that over the weekend. Check em out!!